Apple Tart with Crunchy Almonds

Apple Tart with Crispy Almonds

I’m back! I hope everyone had a nice winter holiday, if you were lucky, you might even have had some snow; unfortunately here in Switzerland we craved and waited for it, but it only arrived the day we travelled back. The car had more fun with the snow than we did… Continue reading

Back home, I don’t know about you, but after the holiday season, which is filled with elaborated and not so light dishes, I like to go back to some simplicity and this apple tart (with a little twist) was a great way to satisfy my sweet tooth. This is the kind of recipe I would usually serve during an easy evening, for example with my girlfriends; I cut it up into bite size pieces and place it in the middle of the table, this way my everyone eats the amount they want, I find it’s a friendly way of serving dessert, and between chats and sips you see it progressively disappearing.

Because almonds work great with apples, I looked for an alternative to what I usually do, which is spreading them in ground form under the fruit; I found this crispy topping idea here and applied it to my recipe and I really liked the end result, its taste and its consistency.

Apple Tart with Crispy Almonds

 

Apple Tart with Crunchy Almonds

 

Serves 8

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 20 min

 

Ingredients:

A 25×42 cm puff pastry sheet

3 baking apples like boskoop

100 g slivered almonds

60 g sugar

2 tbsp. milk

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 220°C.

Toast the almonds in a dry non-stick pan over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, toss regularly until lightly browned; transfer into a bowl.

Core the apples and pass them through a slicer. I left the skin on, it’s more rustic and it has added nutritional value.

Spread the puff pastry out on a baking tray and spread over the apples by overlapping them by half.

Add the butter, sugar and milk to the frying pan over medium heat. When the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted, bring to the boil continue cooking for 1 minute. Add the almonds and mix well before turning into the pastry case. Without waiting, evenly spread the caramelized almonds over the apples.

Bake for 15 minutes in the middle of the oven. Serve warm or at room temperature, maybe with some vanilla ice cream.

 

 

Life Is Sweet…

Yoghurt Muesli Cake

I’m back! For this first post after a break, I wanted to post a sweet recipe since at the moment it reflects the summer I’ve had, filled with great friends, amazing moments and exciting news since in October I’ll be starting a master’s degree in Creative Writing at the University of Lancaster! Continue reading

Recently I bought sunglasses that have a yellowish tint and when you look through them, all seems brighter; at the moment, now even when I take them off, all still seems just as bright.

For this recipe, I tried to remain on the Swiss side of the kitchen and so I made this cake, which is inspired by one of our national breakfasts: the bircher muesli. As a starting point I took this easy yoghurt cake recipe from the site Journal des Femmes (in French) and from there I added oats, blueberries and a streusel inspired topping with almonds. Baking is not my strongest point but this recipe was not only easy, but it was also quick to put together and I didn’t end up with a huge mess in my kitchen. All these aspects made the final result even tastier…

 

 

Yoghurt Muesli Cake

Recipe for a 22-24 cm springform cake mould.

Prep time: 15-20 min

Cook time: 35-40 min

 

Ingredients:

In this recipe the pot of yoghurt serves of measurement.

1 yogurt nature

2 jars of sugar

1 sachet of vanilla sugar

3 jars of flour

1/2 pot of oil

3 eggs

1/2 sachet baking powder

1 pinch of salt

1 ½ pot fine oats

250 g blueberries

Butter or oil to grease the cake mould

 

For the topping:

3 tbsp. finely chopped almonds

2 tbsp. flour

5 tbsp. sugar

2 tbsp. oats

3 tbsp. butter

 

Recipe:

Turn on the oven (180°C). Butter a round mould.

2 Pour the yogurt in a bowl and add in the order in mixing well with a wooden spoon: sugars, the eggs one by one, the flour, baking powder, salt, the oil. Finally delicately fold in the oats and the blueberries.

For the topping place all the ingredients in a bowl and massage them with your fingers until the preparation looks like crumbs.

Transfer the batter in the buttered cake mould and evenly sprinkle the topping on the surface.

Bake for 35-40 minutes on the lower part of the over, by then, when you insert the tip of a toothpick it should come out dry. Leave to cool and unmould.

Mascarpone Matefaim

Mascarpone MatefaimI’m back! After a bad cold and spending time sorting out some personal stuff I’m now feeling better… or at least I’m taking action. As I’ve already mentioned I’m eating much better lately and this indulgent Mascarpone Matefaim recipe is the exception that confirms my new diet rules. Continue reading

A “matefaim “ is a broken up pillow like pancake that you can pair with whatever you fancy. This recipe comes from the Basic Cooking: Cooking Between Friends book from Sabine Sälzer and Sebastian Dickhaut and it’s something I always wanted to try but then it ended up at the bottom of the “recipes I’d like to try list”. Well this time I went for it and it’s a fairly easy procedure for a melt in your mouth result. The messiest part is when the bottom has browned and you have to break the matefaim into smaller bits while the top isn’t very firm yet. In the beginning I thought it would turn out a mess but gladly for me, it didn’t. With all the uses one can make of mascarpone cheese, this is a pretty good one for me.

 

 

Mascarpone Matefaim

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 15-20 min

 

Ingredients:

4 eggs

1 pinch salt

50 g powdered sugar (+ extra for sprinkling on top of the “matefaim”)

1 tbsp. organic lemon zest

4 tbsp. milk

100 g flour

250 g mascarpone

20 g butter

 

Recipe:

Separate the egg whites from the yolks from 2 of the 4 eggs into two bowls. Beat the remaining 2 eggs and add them to the yolks with the salt, powdered sugar and lemon zest. Gradually add the milk, flour and mascarpone.

Whisk the egg whites to a peak and gently fold them in the rest of the preparation. Just remember not to overwork the batter; even if a few lumps of egg white remain it’s not a problem.

In a large pan (don’t use the non-stick kind) melt the butter on a medium fire and spread it on the bottom. Add the batter, which should be 2-3 cm thick and smooth it with a spatula. Let the bottom of this large pancake cook. Once the bottom will have solidified, take a fork or a spatula and break the pancake into small pieces.

Turn the pieces around using a spatula and once they’re brown on all sides place them in a serving plates, sprinkle icing on top. Accompany these matefaim with applesauce, chocolate sauce, a berry coulis or a few apple slices topped with lemon juice, cinnamon and sugar.

 

 

Chocolate Waffle Cookies

Chocolate Waffle Cookies

I can go for weeks without having a sweet treat and then my sweet craving go like from Dr Jekyll to Mr Hyde. Continue reading

In an attempt to minimise my intake I bake something not overly sweet but which I will still enjoy: here is the context where this kind of chocolate waffle cookies are made. I took this recipe from an old book about cookies from Pat Alburey. It’s the second time I make these and the more I eat them, the more I enjoy them. The cookie part is made of a thin waffle that is crispy on the outside and soft inside, while the topping is pure melted chocolate with something nutty on top. These cookies thin little treats and once I begin, I find it hard to stop munching on them… next time I’ll try and bake a large one instead of many little ones.

 

 

Chocolate Waffle Cookies

Recipe for 32 pieces

Prep time: 25 min

Cook time: 15 min

 

Ingredients:

60 g soft butter

90 g powdered sugar

a few drops vanilla extract

3 egg whites

A small pinch of salt

70g sieved flour

30 g cooled melted butter

120 dark chocolate

30 toasted hazelnuts – finely chopped (alternatively, like in the book, use shredded coconut)

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 220°C.

In a bowl place the butter and the powdered sugar and whisk until fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and mix.

Whisk the egg whites with the salt until they’re foamy and add them gradually to the butter and sugar, mixing between additions. Add the sifted flour in two-three times, mixing between additions. Finally combine the melted butter.

Line a baking tray with oven paper. Take a spoonful of the batter, place it on the baking tray and gently flatten it with the back of the spoon. Space the portions apart, as the cookies will spread during the cooking process. You will need to make this in two batches so prepare one tray and bake it in the oven for 7-8 while you prepare the second one. A tip, keep an eye on the cooking process, while I made mine, I was doing the dishes and took the cookies out at the last moment.

Once the cookies are browned on the sides, remove them from the heat and transfer them to a rack and let them cool completely (it won’t take long).

Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie and using a teaspoon or a spatula, spread over the chocolate evenly.

Finally sprinkle the toasted hazelnuts on top of the cookies and leave to rest until the chocolate will have hardened.

Apple Crumb Cake

Apple Crumb Cake When I satisfy my sweet tooth I’d rather go for a homemade recipe like this apple crumb cake instead of an icing covered, cream filled pastry. This recipe comes from smittenkitchen but instead of using blueberries I caramelised apples, which are in season. Continue reading

During the making of this cake my house smelled wonderful and the great thing is that my dog’s fur was perfumed by it for days. The “poor” creature got even more hugs than she usually does. I shared this cake with some friends and the following day, the whole treat was just a memory 🙂

 

 

Apple Crumb Cake

Recipe for a 22-24 cm cake pan with high sides

Prep time: 25-30 min

Cook time: 45-50 min

 

Ingredients

For the caramelised apples:

2 large dessert apples

1 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. sugar

 

For the topping:

40 g flour

100 g sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

55 g butter

A pinch salt

 

For the cake:

240 g flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

55 g soft butter

150 g sugar

1 tbsp. orange zest (or lemon)

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1.2 dl milk

50 g hazelnuts (I used dry roasted ones)

 

Recipe:

Grease and flour a 23-24 baking tin with high sides and line it with baking paper.

Peel and core the apples and cut them into about 1 cm cubes. Heat sugar and butter in a pan and once the sugar starts to melt add the apples. Cook for about 5 minutes tossing occasionally, until the apples have caramelised. Once done set them aside.

Prepare the topping by adding tall the ingredients to a bowl and crumbling them with the tip of your fingers. Once the preparation is crumbly set it aside.

For the cake use a bowl to mix flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl whisk the butter and sugar together until the preparation is soft and light. Add the vanilla extract and the egg and beat until just combined. Add about 1/3 of the flour mix and beat until just combined. Add half of the milk mix and repeat with the remaining ingredients, ending with the flour. Fold in the caramelised apples until they’re evenly distributed. Transfer the cake batter to the tin and distribute it evenly.

Roughly chop the hazelnuts and scatter them on the surface of the cake. Now add the streusel topping and distribute it evenly.

Bake in the oven for 35-40 min. Test cake readiness with a toothpick: if it comes out dry, it’s ready. Let the cake cool for at least 20 minutes before removing it from its mould. Optionally dust with powdered sugar.

 

Gluten Free Chestnut Pancakes

Chestnut Pancakes
I want to begin this post by sending my thoughts to France. As I mentioned last week, that’s the country we decided to spend our honeymoon in and I have been delighted by this country I had forgotten was so great in so many ways. As a history fan though, I know the French population is tough and they will bounce back. Nevertheless I can’t help but think about the victims and my heart is with them. Continue reading

Drawing from Joann Sfar

How can one make a sensible transition from something so sad to something we all enjoy like food? As for the first I have no words, for the latter, I could talk for hours, nutrition matters included… Lately I have noticed that when I eat too much of something containing flour I get spots on my face and as soon as I stop, they slowly disappear… and between you and me, I’ve had enough bad skin during my puberty. As a solution I limit myself to the equivalent of about one portion of pasta per week. It’s a change in my lifestyle but I mostly just have to adapt and find hacks to still please my palate. In the beginning I was surprised by how much I would have to limit myself, especially when you’re dining out as an almost vegetarian (in a place where the range of restaurants is basically limited to Italian food). To get into the no-wheat flow, last week I tried to make some chestnut pancakes, without the addition of flour and, even if they are a little more moist that the normal ones, they actually melt in your mouth, and this is something I really enjoyed! Just in case you don’t want to go full chestnut read the note below.

NOTE:
If you wish to use flour in this recipe, to the dry ingredients add 4 tbsp. flour or gluten free flour. In this case you will need to increase the amount of milk from 1 dl to 1.5 dl and you don’t necessarily need to whisk the egg whites. This will make the pancakes more consistent and in addition you will be able to make more of them! Here are a few images of the version with flour.


Here is the flour-less version

Gluten Free Chestnut Pancakes

Recipe for about 10 pancakes of 7 cm.
Prep time: 10 min.
Cook time: 10-14 min. per batch

Ingredients:
200 g boiled chestnuts
2 tsp. baking powder
1 dl milk
2 large eggs
50 g butter (melted)
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
Roasting butter to make the pancakes
Optional: the seeds of one vanilla pod.

Recipe:
Place the chestnuts in a blender and process them until they become like flour. Transfer to a bowl and add the baking powder, sugar and salt.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites into two separate bowls. To the bowl with the yolks add the milk and the melted butter (optionally add the vanilla pod seeds) and mix to combine. Add this to the ground chestnuts, sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk just enough to mix the ingredients.
Whisk the egg whites to a peak and fold them in gently with the rest of the ingredients. Just remember not to overwork the batter, stop as soon as the batter looks combined, even if the result doesn’t look too smooth.
Heat a pan on a medium fire; add a little roasting butter to melt. Once the grease has melted take a large tbsp. of the batter and place it in the pan, using the back of the spoon to spread it out until it’s a small cm thick. Repeat for the number of pancakes that the pan can hold and cook for 5-7 minutes per side. Repeat until the batter is finished and serve with your favourite toppings: honey, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, maple syrup…

Blueberry & White Peach Pancake Batter Cake

Blueberry & White Peach Pancake Batter Cake It’s blueberry season and this year my garden has been really generous. Generosity doesn’t only come from my garden but also from the birds which are not as greedy as last year… maybe there’s more sources of food elsewhere. I really wanted to post a recipe with blueberries Continue reading

so looked for inspiration and found an idea I liked here and from there I made my own version of this pancake batter pancake. I find it’s a perfect recipe for the summer as its light consistence goes well with the warm weather. This will be my last recipe for the next two weeks. This weekend I’m off to a high school reunion (I can’t wait!) and next Thursday we’re off to Marbella for a week with my fiancé and a friend of ours. Meanwhile I wish you all a great beginning of summer and see ya in a couple of weeks!

 

Blueberry & White Peach Pancake Batter Cake

 

Recipe for 6-8 servings / a 22-24 cm x round cake pan

Prep time: 15-20 min

Cook time: 45-50 min

 

Ingredients:

2 dl milk

1 vanilla pod

50 g sour cream

2 large eggs

50 g butter melted

225 g all purpose flour

150 g sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

130 g blueberries

1 white peach

Icing sugar

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 180°C and grease a cake pan

Add the sour cream to a bowl. Incise the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds and add them to the sour cream then mix. Now add the milk eggs and melted butter.

In another bowl place the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. If the baking powder is a little pebbly pass it though a strainer.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and whisk until the dough is smooth. Use a strainer if you end up getting lumps.

Cut the peach in half and remove the pit. Cut each half into two parts and then divide each quarter into two parts.

Pour the batter in the cake pan. Sprinkle the blueberries on top and place the peach wedges in a circle.

Bake for 45-50 min. Once the top of the cake has a nice golden colour (check by inserting a toothpick in the batter and if it comes out dry it means it’s ready) remove it from the oven and wait 5-10 minutes before removing it from its mould. Dust the cake with icing sugar and serve.

 

Blackberry Yoghurt Pistachio Ice Pops

Blackberry Yoghurt Pistachio Ice PopsYesterday I was in my bathrobe and I noticed how without moving despite having just showered, I was already feeling hot and sticky… yup, humidity is a really annoying thing. Continue reading

Remembering I had received some ice pop moulds, when I went to do the groceries I took the opportunity to buy some fresh fruits to make these Yoghurt Blackberry Pistachio Ice Pops. In one day I ate four of them and each was as good and as refreshing as the next one. So now I have a pleasurable solution to sticky weather; the next thing will be how to get rid of the flies that, with the cows grazing in the fields have just swarmed in every house… should someone have a great solution to this problem, I’m a taker!

 

Blackberry Yoghurt Pistachio Ice Pops

 

Recipe for 4 pieces

Prep time: 10-15 min

Refrigeration time: min. 4-5 hours

 

Ingredients:

230 g blackberries

100 g Greek yoghurt

0.3 dl milk

50 g honey

15-20 g chopped pistachios

 

Recipe:

Place the blackberries in a blender and puree them. If you want a smooth result pass the liquefied blackberries through a small holed sieve (I didn’t do it). Add 20 g honey and whisk until all is blended together.

In another bowl pour the milk and the remaining 30 g of honey. Whisk to combine the two ingredients and then add the Greek yoghurt.

Take your ice pop moulds and fill them to a third with the blackberries, add about ½ tsp of the pistachios, then add 1/3 of the Greek yoghurt, another layer of pistachios and finally a last layer of blackberries.

Place the moulds in the freezer for a minimum of five hours.

 

 

Vanilla Bread Pudding Cake or Torta di Pane alla Vaniglia

Vanilla Bread Pudding Cake I had a truly fun weekend where I volunteered to help out at an enogastronomic walk in Cardada (a mountain just above Locarno). The walk was dedicated to our local produces so I thought I’d post a recipe that is typical from my region: the torta di pane (or bread pudding cake). Continue reading

This is the second torta di pane recipe I post. The difference is that in this version there’s no cocoa powder; instead I used white chocolate for a twist. This kind of recipe is a great way to use leftover bread and it’s so easy that you just can’t get it wrong. For information, this cake is not made to be overly sweet and it should stay nice and moist once it’s cooked. This traditional recipe is something everyone makes here in Ticino and you can also easily find it in restaurants and grottoes.

 

 

Vanilla Bread Pudding Cake or Torta di Pane alla Vaniglia

 

For a 24-26 cm round cake mold

Prep time: 25 min (plus soaking time)

Cook time: about 1 hour

 

Ingredients:

200 g stale bread (white or semi-white)

100 g amaretti

7 dl milk

1 vanilla pod

100 g dried apricots (the sour kind) – I would have loved to use dried physalis but didn’t find them. Sultanas are also an option

Zest of 1 lemon

100 g slivered nuts

60 g white chocolate

2 eggs

40 g sugar

50 g melted butter

Icing Sugar (optional)

 

Recipe:

In a bowl or container break the bread into pieces and add the amaretti.

Pour the milk in a pan. Incise the vanilla pod by its length and scrape out the seeds. Add the pod and the seeds to the milk and bring to a boil. Once ready pour over the stale bread and amaretti and leave to soak for 2-3 hours. You can leave the vanilla pod in, just remember to remove it once the bread and biscuits have soaked.

Chop the dried apricots and place them in a cup. Add hot water and leave them to soak for a couple of hours.

Grate the white chocolate.

Heat oven at 190°C.

Once the bread and amaretti have soaked, mash them with a fork as finely as possible.  Drain the apricots and add them to the bread preparation along with the white chocolate, the lemon zest, and ¾ of the almonds.

In a separate bowl  mix well the eggs and the sugar and add the butter and eventually the grappa. Pour over the rest and mix the ingredients with your hands or with a spatula until the mass looks even.

Grease the sides of a cake tin and dust with flour. Line the bottom of the cake tin with oven paper. Transfer the preparation to the cake tin and even out the surface. Add the remaining pine nuts and place in the oven for about 1 hour.

Once ready leave to cool before removing from mold. Eventually sprinkle surface with icing sugar.

 

Soft Polenta Cookies

Soft Polenta CookiesI hope everyone had a nice Easter. Like in many of these occasions, mine was filled with good food. Continue reading

On Sunday we had the traditional baby goat at my fiancé’s parent’s home. On Monday we had lunch at his aunt’s place. This is the time of the year where tourists come back and frankly it’s nice to see the streets repopulated with people enjoying the mild weather. On Saturday I had no appointments so I left home early to do my groceries as to avoid the crowd. With some time on my hands, I baked these soft polenta cookies, which turned out to not only be a treat but also a practical breakfast the following day. These easy to make cookies are soft and at the same time they have a light crunch given by the polenta flour. This recipe has a nice texture combination and the lemon brings extra freshness to the overall taste.

Soft Polenta Cookies

 

Soft Polenta Cookies

Recipe for about 16 units

Prep time: 15 min (+ 1 hour resting time)

Cook time: 20 min

 

Ingredients

80 g soft butter

80 g sugar

1 egg

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

140 g fine grain polenta flour

120 g flour

1.5 tsp. raising powder

A pinch of salt

Icing sugar

 

Recipe

Cream butter an sugar together for about 4-5 min.

Mix in the egg then add the lemon juice and zest.

In another bowl combine the polenta flour, flour, rising powder and salt.

Add little by little the dry ingredients to the wet one until you get an even mass.

Let the dough rest for an hour.

Make little balls of about 3 cm and place them on a baking tray lined with oven paper. Once you have placed them slightly flatten them with the palm of your hand. Remember to leave some space between each unit.

Cook in the oven for 20 minutes at 180°C.

Once done, place the soft polenta cookies on a rack to cool and dust them with icing sugar as a final touch.