Things you’ll never have to buy again, part 3

One of the readers has suggested running around naked to save on clothes – or so I understand – and I would gladly adhere if it weren’t so damn cold! We’ve had the worst month of June ever, with too much water and too little sunshine… Even the flowers in the garden seem to disapprove (with one exception), which brings me to today’s piece of wisdom. Let’s talk plants!

If you like a little peps in your plate you’re probably deep into seasoning – and so am I. Basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary – all are frequent and welcome guests in my kitchen. And all of them can cost quite a bit, once dried and packed into nice little containers…

Homegrown, by Iryna Klionava (that's me!)

Homegrown, by Iryna Klionava (that’s me!)

The good news is, you don’t need dried herbs if you can have fresh ones! Continue reading

Baking news: home-made petit-beurre cookies

Who doesn’t like the petit-beurre cookies? Light, crisp and buttery, they are one of the favourite “coffee mates” (if it weren’t for the heavenly Speculoos, I’m sure they would have been the favourite ones) that get dipped in that morning/afternoon cup of yours. So it’s no wonder that people keep trying to reproduce their delicate taste and structure at home. I have checked a number of French recipes and all of them are essentially the same: you begin with a generous amount of butter that is heated in a pan with sugar, a pinch of salt and some sort of liquid until it starts to boil. Then you let it cool, mix in the dry ingredients, and leave the dough in the fridge overnight. The next day begins the fun part: rolling, cutting and baking. And tasting. With coffee. Or milk. Or tea. You name it. You want it. You get it!

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I followed this recipe replacing powdered milk and water with liquid milk. I also added something like two spoonfuls of shredded coconut because I like biscuits with a little more flavour, and a spoonful of wheat bran to give them a rustic look and a healthier fibre content (that’s where the speckles come from). The flavour still remained somewhat neutral, so next time I’ll add grated orange peel or almond flour and see if they do the trick. As a friend of mine says, I’m hard to please when it comes to baking… Otherwise, these are very good cookies: the texture is there, the taste is subtle and buttery, the kid loves them and I know exactly what they are made from. Hm… I think I’ll go and eat one right now, just to make sure the flavour isn’t there…

Baking News: Mini Fruit Cakes

As you know, my boy has recently celebrated his birthday… which means… birthday party! Which means… cake! Or, to be exact, cakes. One big cake for the home and a multitude of fruit cakes to share with his schoolfellows.

Here’s the big one: I used this recipe for the sponge, layered it with whipped cream, glazed with melted chocolate and decorated with hearts ( his idea). It was the first time I decorated a cake (see those shaky lines?) but everyone was happy all the same!

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And here are the fruit cakes! Oh, the taste of them! I’m absolutely making those for my own birthday. And for Christmas. And for all other holidays. And on workdays too. Who cares for cream and pâte feuilletée if they can have a slice of a moist, rich, fruit-filled, orange-scented cake? Certainly not me! I’m a cake girl!

I followed this recipe, using the dried fruit I had in stock (raisins, candied papaya, candied cherries and almond flakes) and making mini cakes in my IKEA mould (the cells are smaller than muffins, 4cm across and straight rather than widening at the top). The only precaution to take while baking this cake(s) is to butter and flour your mould(s) really well – or you’ll curse your head off trying to pull the crumbling b…stards out of their cells (that’s what happened with my first batch: half of the cakes came out broken. Luckily, I still had enough batter and the second batch popped out without any resistance). Except that – they are perfectly perfect. And the crumbs tasted just as good )))

Yummy-yum!

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Baking news

In case you were missing my food pictures, here’s a little treat for you!

amarettini

These are tiny-teeny amarettini (Italian almond meringue cookies) and they are delicious. I made them smaller than the traditional amaretti: each cookie is but a single bite of sweet, nutty puffiness, which makes it a perfect match for that cup of espresso! You can check the recipe and how-to right here. I didn’t use the almond extract and Amaretto the recipe calls for, so technically my cookies can’t be called amarettini but who cares? They taste like your sweetest dream and this is what really counts!

Have a good day, kids!

 

Baking news

This is by far the funniest thing I’ve ever baked…

First take a good look…

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What are they? Muffins on steroids? Mushrooms? Alien life-forms?

If you’re not familiar with them yet, let me introduce you: these are popovers and they fully deserve their name! Technically speaking, this is liquid batter cooked stiff right in the middle of a supernova-like explosion. The broccoli shape is the fault of the muffin pan and gravity: bake them by zero G – and they’ll probably be round…

Now, how about more pictures?

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One just can’t help smiling, right? This is surely going to become my favourite cheer-up recipe (by the way, you can check it here). Make them with kids of any age for an instant mood boost with the bonus of a sugar-free treat. Devour them “as they are” or fill them with cottage cheese, crab salad, jam, dulce de leche or any other mixture that makes your heart go pop for a more substantial, relatively guiltless snack!

The drawback of this recipe? These beauties take a full 40 minutes to bake and they should be eaten hot from the oven, so they’ll probably disappear sooner than you can say “popover” and leave you with nothing but a memory (and a mess in the kitchen). This sort of reminds me of the eternal “housewife’s curse”: you spend your time fighting like crazy against the entropy in your life and all you end up with is more mess… You clean the house – it gets dirty again, you cook the meals – they vanish like they’ve never existed… This is why every housewife needs a camera: to catch those precious moments when the place is clean, the kids happy and the popovers hot, and crisp, and steaming!

That’s all for today, kids! Have a nice week-end and behave yourselves!