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Sunday, 30 June 2013

CookingBaking Challenge - Session 1 - Simon


225g/8oz self raising flour
pinch of salt
55g/2oz butter
25g/1oz caster sugar
150ml/5fl oz milk
1 free-range egg, beaten, to glaze (alternatively use a little milk)

Preparation method

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Mix together the flour and salt and rub in the butter.
Stir in the sugar and then the milk to get a soft dough.
Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly. Pat out to a round 2cm/¾in thick. Use a 5cm/2in cutter to stamp out rounds and place on a baking sheet. Lightly knead together the rest of the dough and stamp out more scones to use it all up.
Brush the tops of the scones with the beaten egg. Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden. Glazing with egg wash
Cool on a wire rack and serve with butter and good jam and maybe some clotted cream.

I used whipped double cream with about a teaspoon of icing sugar as I could not find any clotted cream over here in Ireland. If clotted cream is available go for it otherwise use cream. The scones were actually very good. Perfect size, moist and melted in the mouth. They were indeed LUSH!
One can also use the recipe to make fruit scones by adding said fruit of preference to them.

Perfect to serve with tea or PIMMS (the drink not the biscuit!)

Just a quick tip that Simon gave me for those who would not have self-raising flour: use normal flour and add 1/2 to 1 tea spoon of baking powder.

CookingBaking Challenge - Session 1 - The Recipes!

Finally is the day the recipes are being unveiled! And I give you the list of participants again with the links to their recipes. Most of them are published on my blog because the participants do not own a blog, but that does not matter.


Simon: Scones

The cool thing is that we have participants from Ireland, Spain, France and myself in Germany! 

Next session will end on July the 31st! The more the merrier, so if you fancy cooking or baking a new recipe, then share it with us!

Cooking&Baking Challenge - Session 1 - Isabel

Melanzane parmiggiana

This is one of my favorite recipes. I make it quite a bit (maybe once a month). I must confess I’m in love with eggplants: Their color, their taste and their texture.The recipe serves 2-3.

You will need:
• 1 big (or 2 small) eggplant(s), in slices of about 1-1.5 cms
• 3 tbs olive oil.
• 1 small onion, minced.
• 3 garlic cloves, minced or sliced.
• (Dried) oregano.
• 500 g tomatoes, skinned and diced (I must confess, I usually buy the ones canned and already crushed, and it really depends on the quantity, and, if there’s any leftover sauce, you can use it for whatever… I’m also in love with tomatoes).
• Salt, to taste (needed for a couple of steps).
• Ground pepper.
• Sugar (I usually use about 2 tsp).
• Basil (fresh, the one dried I really don’t get).
• 1 ball of mozzarella, sliced (when I don’t have any at home, I confess I use the dry kind, but it’s always nicer when it’s fresh).
• Grana Padano cheese
• Breadcrumbs (I make my own: I process about 3-4 garlic cloves and a few sprigs of parsley and old, dry bread, which brings a nice taste to everything I use to… except cakes/puddings, of course… I use plain breadcrumbs then). (Also, I like to use it because it gives a nice brown look, but you may prefer using just the Grana Padano cheese).
• 1 (griddle) pan.
• 1 pot.
• 1 oven.
• Serving plates apt for oven (I have a couple of earthenware dishes that you can see on the picture).
{Wow, this is a long list! I never realized I use so many things!}

How to cook melanzane parmiggiana:
I. The eggplant(s):
1. In order to take out that funny, sour taste of eggplants, I place them on a colander with a bit of salt for each slice (both sides), and let them rest at least 30 minutes. After that, I rinse them and dry them.
2. Then I grill them, adding salt, pepper, and oregano. (This way, the whole dish is already cooked when I put it in the oven and it takes a lot less time).

II. The tomato sauce:
3. In a pot, at about medium heat, I add 3 tbs of olive oil, 1 small onion (minced), 3 cloves of garlic (also minced or in slices… it depends on the day), and about 1 tsp oregano. Everything is cooked for about 10 minutes, until the onion is almost transparent.
4. Then I add my tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, 2 tsp of sugar, and a few sprigs of fresh basil (I have a tube that presents it chopped, and use about the size of a “normal” die). Everything is left, at medium heat too, about 15 minutes.
{The sauce is awesome… feel free to taste it with a bit of bread, but be careful! You’ll need some later!}

III. The oven:
5. In a baking dish (for this recipe, I like individual earthenware), place, in this order, a bit of the tomato sauce, the eggplant(s), the mozzarella (I like to put one on top of each slice of eggplant), and the breadcrumbs sprinkled with Grana Padano Cheese.
6. Place everything on the oven, preheated, at about 190ºC (or with the “grill” function), until golden brown.


Cooking&Baking Challenge - Session 1 - Lime & Ginger Meringue Tart

This is my first post on the Cooking&Baking Challenge that I initiated this month. I don't know how successfull the Challenge is going to be, but I hope I will get more participants every month. This would be such a great way to learn more recipes, to see what others like cooking or baking, to exchange tips, not to forget to finally get to use cooking books that are just lying on the shelves!

So here is the recipe. I found it thanks to Pinterest! Ok, the point was to use my books, but well... I do love lime, I do love ginger, and I wanted to give the meringue a go... 

Lime and Ginger Meringue Tart
For the dough:
130gr of soft butter, 130gr of powder sugar, one egg and 300gr of flour.

In a bowl, mix the soft butter, the sugar and the egg. Add the flour little by little (I did it all at once without problem, and my butter was extremely soft) until you get a homogeneous ball of dough. Wrap it in cling film and leave it to rest one hour in the fridge.
Spread it and put it in a large baking form - or several small ones (I used a mid-sized form, the dough was a little too thick but that was nice still). Use a fork to prick the dough and put it back in the fridge for half an hour minimum.
Finally pre-heat the oven at 175°C and bake the dough for 20min after pricking it again so that it does not swell.

For the lime curd:
4 limes, 75gr of sugar, 2 tablespoons of cornflour, 3 yolks, 30gr of butter, 1 teaspoon of powder ginger and some green food colouring.

Get the juice and the zest of the four limes. Dilute the cornflour in 50ml of water. Heat up the juice, the peel, the cornflour and the sugar while constantly stirring. When it gets thicker (it does take a little while and then almost suddenly it gets a little slimy and gets almost transparent), take it off the heat and add the butter, the eggs, the ginger and the colouring (as much or as little as you wish).
Spread on the dough and put aside.

For the meringue:
3 egg whites and 150gr powder sugar. 

Beat up the eggs with the sugar and put over the lime curd (this is where I messed up and I still cannot figure out what went wrong after trying again a meringue two days later).

Put in the oven 180°C for about 15 minutes.

Serve warm or cold.

That's the recipe, now some random pictures of my work ;)


Like all recipes, it did have to be tested and tasted, here is my little one at "work". Both her and my husband really liked it. He liked it so much that he requested one to bring to work!
I found it so VERY sweet though! It was like almost 200% sugar in there ;) My favourite part was the lime curd. It was delicious! 

The one I made for my husband at work was great! Following the advice from my mum and some friends, I managed to make a great meringue!
Cold eggs, cold metal bowl, a pinch of salt, starting whisking medium speed then faster, once the eggs were stiff, I added the sugar slowly while whisking again at medium speed. It worked!!!! And also I baked it with the oven slightly open to let the humidity go out rather then stay in. 
Result: nice and crispy on top.
My mistake: close the oven over night leaving it inside, it is gone a little soft again.  

Cooking&Baking Challenge - Session 1 - Ghyslaine

Pâtés au Reblochon
Pour environ 10 pâtés soit 4 à 5 personnes
 10 galettes de riz
5 carottes
5 pommes de terre assez grosses
200 gr de lardons
100 gr de poivrons mélangés et coupé en petits morceaux
1 échalotte
 1/2 Reblochon
Sel et poivre
1/2 c à c de cumin
huile d'olive

* Eplucher les pommes de terre et les carottes, laver et râper.

* Faire revenir dans une sauteuse, dans l'huile, les carottes et pommes de terre râpées. Quand elles prennent une légère couleur, ajouter les poivrons, puis les lardons et l'échalotte.

* Laisser rissoler quelques minutes. 

* Quand le mélange est cuit, réserver.
* Chauffer le four th7 (210°)

* Mouiller un torchon propre et le poser à plat.

* Dans un plat creux, verser de l'eau chaude, ramollir les galettes de riz, une à une.

 * Poser la galette de riz ramollie sur le torchon, garnir la galette de 2 cuillers à soupe du mélange réservé. 
* Couvrir d'une lamelle de Reblochon, fermer  en rabattant le haut sur la garniture, puis les côtés (tasser un peu), rouler sur la fin de la galette.

* Retourner le pâté ainsi fait sur une plaque de cuisson recouverte de papier sulfurisé ou d'une feuille de silicone.

* Laisser au four 15 mn jusqu'à ce que ce soit doré.

* Servir chaud dès la sortie du four avec une salade verte

Remarque: se conserve au réfrigérateur, il suffit de les repasser un peu soit, au four, soit au four à micro-ondes.

Translation: Reblochon Pâtés
for 4 to 5 persons - 10 pieces

 10 rice cakes
5 carrots
5 rather large potatoes
200 gr bacon strips
100 gr diced mixed bell peppers
1 shallott
 1/2 Reblochon
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
olive oil

* Peel, wash and grate the potatoes and carrots.

* Fry them in a pan in the olive oil. When they get slightly golden, add the bell peppers, the bacon and shallott.

* Leave to fry for a few minutes. 

* When ready, keep aside.

* Warm up the oven at 210°C (Th.7)

* Wet a clean tea-towel and spread it on a flat surface.

* In a shallow dish, pour hot water and soften the rice cakes one at a time.

* Put the softened rice cake on the tea-towel, and fill it with 2 tbsp of the vegetable mixture.
* Cover with a piece of Reblochon, then close the rice cake by bringing one side on top, then the sides and finally rolling to the other end.

* Cover the baking tray with some baking paper or a silicon baking sheet. Turn the pâté upside down on the baking tray.

* Leave it in the oven about 15mn until it takes a nice golden colour.

* Serve hot right after taking out of the oven, and eat with a lettuce.

Note: can be kept in the fridge, one does then just need to put it back a little bit in the oven or in the micro-wave.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Sensory Steps - part 2

Some time ago I mentionned "Sensory steps" and I showed you the first four that I had made (the red ones). Well, I am now finally done with them all and little N. is really enjoying them!

Here they are:

Preparing Little N.'s birthday presents!

In just a little more than two months, my darling N. will turn two! Time goes by so quickly!
I started some time ago to think about her birthday present(s)... Difficult matter since she already has so many toys. She isn't particularly spoiled but still she has a lot. Anyway, she particularly enjoys cooking and baking with us and she loves her play cooking stuff. So I decided to keep on making her some more!

She is seeing me preparing a lot of things, but she does not realise it is for her yet. She is still too small to ask me. She also cannot use the computer, so there is no risk showing you some of her presents already ;)

The Farfalle aren't new, but the box is. The Tortellini and Tagilatelle are new ones though.

An empty box of chocolate (they were delicious!), some velcro band glued to close the box, and some felt chocolates of all sorts.

 The small chocolates are about 2cm high and 3cm diameter (roughly).

 This is what I have so far, but stay tuned, there is more to come!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Guest Post: B. from Ireland - T-shirt painting

Some people in our family like travelling and living abroad. One of my little sisters is currently having a fab time in Ireland while I really enjoy my life in Germany. It makes family gathering a little complicated but we manage :)
She has already shared with us on this blog several baking recipes, and here is now her latest creation (not in the kitchen this time!):

DIY (Do It Yourself)
You will need:
  • A tee-shirt (in my case, a white one, but if you want another colour, go for it!)
  • Some fabric paint
  • A brush
And eventually a plastic sheet and a cutter

Before anything, make sure that your table is protected and your clothes as well. The paint will stain your clothes forever and it is better to control the “stains” that you make ;).
A piece of advice: use some carton or a thick plastic bag to put inside the tee-shirt, to protect the side you are not painting.
If you know what you want, and you are talented enough to not having a model to paint your tee-shirt, I am jealous but that will be easier for you.
If, like me, you need a hour to be decide which pattern you’re going to paint, and you’re a bit clumsy, the plastic sheet will save your life.
Draw on the plastic sheet what you want on your tee-shirt, and on a wood board, cut gently with a cutter to create your own stencil! Tadaaaam!

Now, let’s go!
Make sure that your stencil is correctly adjusted on your tee-shirt; that is very important. You can use some cello tape, or some heavy small objects, be creative. The idea is that the paint should not go under the stencil.
Use the brush to paint inside the stencil, and let it dry. Depending on your paint you can take the stencil off straight away or not. I did, just after washing my brush.
I put the tee-shirt outside, on a Sunny Afternoon ♪.
Again, depending on your paint, to fix it, you may have to wash it! Use a 40° program maximum with your washing machine, and wash separately from light colours clothes (wash with jeans or on its own if you can).

Myself, I chose a white tee-shirt and a series of three black knots painted at the back of my top. I think that it’s discreet enough and elegant/cute.
I used the stencil for the line and the first knot and then I just used the shape of the knot that I had cut to make the stencil, and I painted around it to shape the knot and then took it away and fill with the paint. That was easier for me!

Needless to say that you can do it with anything and with any colours! Be creative and have fun!
I have few fabric bags that I want to customize, and this was first tee-shirt, but won’t be my last! 

Edit on the 24th of June: since the publication of the article, B. has sent me two pics of bags that she made.
 She used a real cut apple for the bag on the right. That's looks so nice that I might ask her to make some for me ;)

Monday, 10 June 2013

Cooking/Baking Challenge - Session 1

A very good morning to you all!

How would you like to participate to a monthly Baking&Cooking Challenge? I have been participating to a Reading Challenge for about a year now, and I thought it would be just as nice to have a similar challenge in our kitchen!

I often find that I am baking and cooking the same dishes over and over again. With my husband we have tried in the past 8 years to regularly bring ourselves to use a new recipe per months, but we never manage to hold it more than a couple of months at a time. The reading challenge has helped me reading at least one new book every 1 and a half month so maybe it would work better if I had a Challenge and were to write about it once a month? 

So here are the rules:

* Write to me (comment or email) if you want to participate (you do not need to own a blog).
* Once a month we cook or bake one new dish.

* We take pictures and we share the recipe on the 30th of that month.

* We can (and should) write some comments and notes on what worked, what didn't, how we liked the result, how easy the recipe was etc.

* If you have a blog you publish the article on your blog and then give me the link by email or by leaving a comment on my blog. If you DO NOT have a blog, you can send me your article (word or open office doc.) by email (see contact page).

So let's get cooking! Who's in?

End of session 1: 30th of June 2013

(Edit) Participants:

* Ben
* Juliane
* Fred
* Isabel
* Simon

* Ghyslaine

Sunday, 9 June 2013

It is grey outside so let's put some colours inside

It has recently been so grey and rainy that the rivers are flooding in central and eastern Europe. Although the water is now going down a bit, many streets and houses are still flooded.
I must say that there was a huge movement of solidarity. Lessons were learned from the previous flooding in 2002 and people reacted faster and better.

On a more positive note, I have something to show you :) - my sofa cover was dark blue and washable, but not too easily and it was quite long to dry. Having now a daughter climbing with her shoes on it and getting the sofa dirty very quickly, I wanted to have a different cover. With the help of my mother-in-law, here is what I got:
I know the colours are bright, but hey! it is nicer than all dark. Originally I wanted the blue fabric (the one on the cushions), but it was not available on the day we went shopping to Ikea - and in the end I very much prefer the orange one.

How about you? Do you like adding bright colours in your home?

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Challenge : "Un mot, des titres" - Session 16

Bonjour à tous! 

C'est de nouveau l'époque de rendre nos copies pour le Challenge! Cette fois-ci le mot était "Mort". Et mon choix s'est porté sur:

La Comédie de la Mort, de Théophile Gautier

 "Elle est amère et douce, elle est méchante et bonne;
Sur chaque front illustre elle met la couronne
       Sans peur ni passion. 
Amère aux gens heureux et douce aux misérables,
C'est la seule qui donne aux grands inconsolables
       Leur consolation.
Elle prête des lits à ceux qui, sur le monde,
Comme le Juif errant, font nuit et jour deur ronde
       Et n'ont jamais dormi.
A tous les parias elle ouvre son auberge,
Et reçoit aussi bien la Phryné que la vierge,
       L'ennemi que l'ami."

Dans sa Comédie de la Mort, Théophile Gautier dépeint la Mort, les sentiments des hommes à son égard, leurs comportements. Il fait parler différent personnage, Don Juan vieillit et ses regrets, la jeune fille oubliée par son amant. Parfois la Mort est accueillie presque avec bonheur, parfois elle fait peur, qu'elle cueille la personne dans sa jeunesse ou dans sa vieillesse, elle est toujours là. Nous ne sommes pas très loin de Ronsard qui invite à profiter de sa jeunesse tant que c'est encore possible, ni non plus de Baudelaire dans ses Fleurs du Mal qui nous décrit dans "La Charogne" un cadavre putride et couvert de vers et insectes, racontant à la dame qui l'accompagne qu'elle finira elle aussi ainsi.
La Mort fait partie du cercle de la Vie. Les poètes aiment à le rappeler.

Et Théophile Gautier de conclure:
"Chantons Io, Péan! Mais quelle est cette femme
Si pâle sous son voile? Ah! C'est toi, vieille infâme,
      Je vois ton crâne ras;
Je vois tes grands yeux creux, prostituée immonde,
Courtisane éternelle envirronant le monde
     Avec tes maigres bras!"

Ces quelques vers ne présentent pas une Mort qui serait la bienvenue, l'expression "prostituée immonde" est bien forte à mon avis. Mais la Mort est inévitable.

Loin d'être une lecture joyeuses et facile, j'ai cependant trouvé le texte très intéressant et beau. J'ai toujours un peu de mal à me concentrer longtemps sur de la poésie, j'ai donc mis plusieurs jours à lire ce livre, mais je me suis accrochée. Je pense essayer de le relire d'ici quelques semaines afin de mieux me familiariser avec les vers et l'histoire.

Je ne connaissais Théophile Gautier que pour son Capitaine Fracasse, un livre que j'ai beaucoup aimé depuis l'adolescence. Je suis contente d'avoir aussi enfin fait connaissance avec sa poésie!

Challenge : "Un mot, des titres" - Session 16 - Guest Post

Voici la copie de mon frère A. très en retard!

C'est un livre de Charles Exbrayat nommé "Ce mort que nul n'aimait" 

"Dans une ville portuaire allemande, l'inspecteur Rik de Herdt part au commissariat pour commencer une nouvelle journée. Son assistant l'avertit qu'un meurtre a été commis. Un cadavre aurait été repêché dans le canal par une famille de mariniers, les Van Neer. L'enquête commence, et l'inspecteur de Herdt aura bien du mal à la résoudre..."

J'ai beaucoup aimé ce roman, Exbrayat est un très bon écrivain, il a fait plus de 90 romans policiers. Je m'amuse beaucoup à  lire ces livres, plein de suspense, d'humour et j'aime beaucoup essayer de deviner qui est le coupable. Je vous recomande vivement ce livre, parce que si vous ne l'avez pas lu, vous ratez quelque chose !!