Monday, 17 April 2017

French Madeleines

I never know when french madeleines are supposed to be eaten... for breakfast, for afternoon tea or for dessert. But what I know for sure is, that those small little heavenly tasting cute looking sponge cakes are one of the favorites in our house. I love the original recipe, done with orange blossom water, but do experiment with different flavors and ingredients to add some variety. There are many reasons to fall in love with madeleines, mines are the delicate taste and cute shell-like form. They can be served to tea or coffee and been eaten, if you ask me, at any time of the day. They are perfect to wow your guests or bring along to a dinner party invitation. 

Today orange blossom madeleines recipe, half of which were dipped in chocolate, as I was not sure if we would like to have them for the afternoon tea or for breakfast. Finally we ended up to have them throughout the day, according to my son it was a perfect way to start and end the day. My mom and I enjoyed them with a big cup of green tea after a long walk through the woods and my husband had them with some coffee for dessert. 
I think they are relatively easy to make, you only need to invest in a madeleine baking form, some orange blossom water and some time to let the batter chill in the refrigerator. Actually you can do the batter a day before and let it over night... I never manage to do so, as we cannot wait to have them as soon as possible. Sometimes I bake them straightaway, but do admit that after some chilling time they do taste better.

French Madeleines
  • 120 g sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 150 flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 120 melted butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons orange blossom water
  • orange zest
  • some dark chocolate
  • chopped pistachio 
In a bowl beat together sugar, eggs and honey, till double in size. Sift in flour, baking powder and salt, mix till all well combined. Pour in the butter and incorporate it with a spatula. Add orange blossom water and orange zest and give it another whisk. Let the batter chill for some hours in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease the madeleine baking form. Pour in the batter (3/4 full) and bake for about 10-12 minutes. Take the form out and let it cool for couple of minutes on the cooling rack, before taking the madeleines out.
Melt the chocolate,  dip one end of the madeleine into it and sprinkle with some chopped pistachios.


Saturday, 15 April 2017

Happy Easter holidays

Spain is spoiling us with most beautiful weather for Easter holidays. It is so good to have some days off from work, doing nothing but spoiling ourselves with some nice treats for Easter, spending lots of time outside at the sun, sleeping in and having brunch instead of breakfast. 

We are going bit more casual for Easter this year... with some family favorites and plenty of boiled colored eggs. I tired a new technique to color the eggs (well at least new to me) leaving aside all the stuff you can buy in the shops to make the eggs look spectacular. Instead I used some food coloring and the result was as spectacular... The only things you would need is a plastic bag, handful of rice and liquid food coloring. Boil the eggs, put the rice into the bag, add some drops of food coloring and the egg. Then shake, shake and shake again... The longer you shake the more colorful your egg will turn out.

One of our family favorites is my lemon poppy seeds cake, to me a perfect cake for Easter holidays. It is fresh, delicate and special, very spring like. I usually do this cake in a bundt cake form and having it decorated with some colorful sugar sprinkles makes it a perfect fit for Easter brunch or picnic.

Lemon poppy-seeds cake
  • 3 eggs
  • 180 g sugar
  • 120 g melted butter
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 180 g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons poppy seeds
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease the bundt cake form. Whisk the eggs and the sugar. Add the butter, lemon zest and half of the lemon juice, give it another whisk. Sift in flour, baking powder and salt, mix till all well combined. Fold in the poppy seeds. Pour the batter into the baking form and bake for about 35-45 minutes. Make the wooden stick test.
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • remaining lemon juice
Mix all the ingredients together, till all well combined and frost the cake. Sprinkle some sugar sprinkles over the top.

Check HERE for home made bread recipe.

I wish you all a Happy Easter!


Sunday, 2 April 2017

40th Birthday and Lisbon

Birthdays are cool, but some might be a little bit scary.... My 40th made me a bit fuzzy for the last couple of month. I was not sure if I shall looking forward to it or be rather scared. Finally it turned out to be a wonderful birthday, not scary at all...

My husband took the three of us to Lisbon and we spend a wonderful long weekend enjoying ourselves in this beautiful city. It was the first time for us visiting Lisbon and we just loved it. The food was amazing, people very friendly and open and the old charm of the buildings has something special to it. Lisbon is bit different from what we have seen so far, some people would call Lisbon "old town" and I think I understand why, but to me it was one of the charming thing about it... the old tram, which is still driving through the city and all these magnificent tiles covered buildings.  

What really is very noticeable in Lisbon or probably in whole Portugal is that people love food, good food, which obviously made our small foodie family very happy. 

My husband planned the birthday dinner Bairro do Avillez, one of the restaurants from Jose Avillez, who is a famous Portuguese chef, with several restaurants in Lisbon and two Michelin stars. I am not able to describe in words the experience we had... the exceptional food was just one part of the whole "wow" effect. The ambiente, the service, the open kitchen where at least 13 chefs were doing their magic and then the bar tender... I never saw someone putting so much passion to create a cocktail. Every small details was covered and it was such a joy to see someone loving to do what he was doing. The cocktails by the way, were to die for. 

Today I am not going to share any recipes with you, only some nice memories of a great weekend in Lisbon and of course some inspiration...either for your next weekend getaway or birthday celebration, your next cocktails party or for a starter plate with some cheese, ham, olives and corn bread....which we have had in Bairro do Avillez with a glass of rose as a starter. So simple and yet so so delicious. F


Sunday, 12 March 2017

Delicious and healthy blueberry muffins

If you fancy delicious and healthy breakfast, you will love these blueberry muffins. I was writing couple of times already how dear weekend family breakfasts are to us. I try to keep them special, delicious and healthy. Today I am going to share an easy recipe for blueberry muffins, which are perfect for a healthy and well-balanced breakfast. They are not difficult to make and do not require any extraordinary ingredients. 

Oatmeal blueberry muffins
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • 200 ml yogurt
  • 120 g oatmeal
  • 120 ml oatmeal milk (or any kind of milk you like)
  • berries
  • almonds, nuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease the muffin tins. In a bowl mash the banana, add egg and honey, whisk everything together. Add baking powder, cinnamon and yogurt, give it a whisk. Mix in the oatmeal flakes and milk. Fill the muffin tins half full with batter, put some blueberries, pour more batter to cover the berries, top the muffins with more berries and nuts. Bake for about 30 minutes till golden brown. Take the muffin tin out of the oven and let is cool down for 10-15 minutes, then take the muffins out. Served the muffin with some freshly squeezed orange juice or cup of tea.

The muffins can be also made with any other berries you like, fresh or frozen. If you do not like cinnamon that much, exchange it with vanilla essence instead. To add some crunch mix in some crashed nuts to the batter. 


Sunday, 26 February 2017

Traditional Sunday walk

Seems like spring decided to visit us earlier this year, we had wonderful spring weather for the last two days and spend a lot of time outside. Saturday was reserved for a lazy day at the beach, small picnic, good book and lot of family quality time... perfect Saturday if you ask me. Far away from the trouble of the busy city and all the stressed people. Beach is not very busy this time of year and I love it the most. Today was reserved for our "traditional Sunday walk in the woods". There will be also a small picnic, more like a coffee break picnic, after our standard route and activities are done. Pablo would take his bike, my husband the backpack with some goodies in it and I my camera.

I made banana bread for us to take with for the small coffee break. Banana bread cake is perfect for picnics and is surely one of the favorites in our home. This cake is best done with very ripe bananas and since I had some home left from the week, the choice for the cake was easy. I decided to pep it a bit with different flavors. I felt like coconut, hence the version of the banana bread cake today is rather exotic. The combination however was perfect and I earned many compliments on the cake from my husband too. The cake came our very moist, not too sweet, with a light touch of coconut. Fresh, nutritious and bit exotic.
Coconut banana bread
  • 3 eggs
  • 100 g brown sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • 4 very ripe bananas
  • 50 ml coconut oil
  • 250 ml yogurt
  • 30 g coconut flakes
  • 150 g flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a loaf baking pan. Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract till foamy and almost double in size. Add yogurt and coconut oil, give it another whisk. Sift inn flour, baking powder and salt, mix till all well combined. Mash the bananas, fold them in. Finally add the coconut flakes. Pour the batter into the loaf form and bake for 40-45 minutes, make the wooden stick test. 


Monday, 20 February 2017

Sunday afternoon tea cake

Sundays are perfect for the afternoon tea ceremony and we do celebrate it in our home from time to time. There will be a cake nothing too fancy at all, as we rather prefer a nice and delicious bundt cake for this special event. I am a huge fan of berries, hence there will be often berries mixed into the cake batter.
Bundt cakes are usually not as sweet (at least not they ones I am doing home) and this is why they are my favorite, they are super easy to make, do not require special ingredients and can be pepped up with different flavors, fruits or berries... so you will never get tiered of them. And let´s be frank, bundt cake always just look spectacular.

I do not know how many bundt cakes I have been making in my life, they are not only my favorite for Sunday afternoon tea, but also a perfect to bring along cake, when visiting friends.

Today a moist butter vanilla flavored bundt cake with fresh blueberries. The cake is also perfect for a sweet breakfast or a brunch invitation. You can store it in a container for a couple of days and it wont lose on the taste. The texture is velvet like and the taste of vanilla and berries unbeatable. It taste light (despite the ingredients) and makes you want to have another bite of the cake, as soon as you took the first bite (kind of dangerous cake if you ask)...

Sunday afternoon tea cake
  • 150 g butter (rum temperature)
  • 150 g sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 120 ml buttermilk
  • vanilla extract
  • 300 g flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • fresh berries
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease the bundt cake form. In a stand mixer whisk together butter and sugar, add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla extract, give it another whisk. Sift in the flour and baking powder, mix till all well combined. Add the berries and fold them gently into the batter, make sure you are not breaking the berries... Bake for about 35-40 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let is cool for at least 20 minutes on the cooling rack, before taking the cake out of the form. Sprinkle some powdered sugar over the top.


Sunday, 19 February 2017

Birthday, Dinosaurs and lots of other treats

Last weekend Pablo turned 4... I can´t believe how fast time flies. I still do remember all the panic raising in me, on the way to hospital. All the worries and more panic feelings after the birth, first day home, the first couple of weeks till we all got used to the new life situation. We managed somehow, even so I was not quite sure of that in the beginning. And now this little man turned 4 and sometimes I wish I could stop the time or maybe slow it a bit down... don´t you think kids are growing way to fast too?
Choosing a theme for the birthday party was a bit of a challenge this year, as these days we kind of like everything...  starting with "cars" and ending with all the heroes which do exist out there. Dinosaurs are also something very interesting these days. After he got his first Dinosaurs book for Christmas his interest for them grew and grew, so I decided to go for a Dinosaur themed birthday party. Theme parties are easy to make these days, as you will find lots of inspiration and stuff in internet. I decided to make the decoration myself, with some help from Pablo, this way he got involved in the preparation process too, which he actually did like a lot.
It took some weeks to organize the party and in one point my husband started to wonder if I was really planning a birthday party and not a mini wedding, as I went a little bit over board with all my ideas. There was plenty of food, snacks, cake and something to take with home after the party. And to entertain all the little cheeky monkeys there was face painting, costumes, mini disco, climbing scaffolding with a big pool of play balls and a climbing wall. All in one a successful 4 years birthday party.
Today on the blog chocolate lava cake, easy to make and very suitable for dinosaurs theme parties. Vanilla cookies, my secret cookies when I want to impress kiddis... super easy to make, delicious and loved by every kid I met so far! And banana chocolate chip bars, less sweet but still delicious.
Chocolate lava cake
  • 300 g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 200 g sugar
  • 150 ml vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 ml buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon apple vinegar
  • 1 espresso cup of plain hot coffee
Preheat the oven to 180C, line your baking form with baking paper. In a big bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl whisk the sugar with oil, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla extract and vinegar. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and give it a whisk. Don´t over whisk, just make sure all dry ingredients are wet. Add the coffee and incorporate it into the batter. Pour the batter into the baking form and bake for 30-40 minutes (make the wooden stick test). Take the cake out of the oven and let is cool down for 15 minutes, then take it out of the form and let it cool completely.

Chocolate frosting
  • 150 g butter (room temperature)
  • 350 g cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 100 g powdered sugar
  • 100 g dark chocolate melted and cooled
In a stand mixer, whisk butter with powdered sugar till fluffy and pale in color. Add cream cheese, continue whisking till all well combined. Finally add melted chocolate and give it another whisk.

To create the lava crater, I took some of the cake batter into a small glass bowl with round bottom and baked an additional cake, you can also use a muffin form for this. Don´t worry if you cake won´t come out even on the top, use the small "rising dome" as an additional support to create the lava crater. Cut the cake in 3 layers, cut the mountain cake in 2 layers. Frost the layers with frosting. Place the lava crater on top and frost it too... It does not have to be very neat... Mix red and yellow fondant to create marble look and cut some "lava strings" strips placing them over the mountain. I used a led candle to imitate fire coming out of the lava crater. Finish the cake decoration with some dinosaurs and palm trees.

Dinosaurs fossil print cookies
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 50 g powdered sugar
  • 125 g butter (room temperature)
  • 190 g flour
Take the seeds out of the vanilla bean. Put all the ingredients into the bowl and mix till everything is combined and you will get a soft and silky ball of dough. Put it into the fridge for at east 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180C. Take the dough out of the fridge and divide it in 16 equal balls. Press them gently with your hand into the round shape. Now take a small dinosaur and press it into the cookie dough, you can also use the feet prints from a big dinosaur. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, till the edges starts to brown.

Banana chocolate chip bars
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 150 g chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and flour your baking dish. Peal and mash the bananas, add the eggs, sugar, oil, milk and vanilla extract, whisk till all well combined. Sift in the flour and baking powder give it a whisk. add 100 g chocolate chips and steer. Pour the batter into the baking form, sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips over the top and bake for about 20 minutes.
Next to all the sweet delicious treats there was homemade pizza slices and sandwiches. Popcorn for a snack in between and chocolate dipped strawberries and kiwis. I pealed the kiwis and cut them in slices, then put it on a lollipop stick and covered it with melted dark chocolate.


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