Thursday, May 31, 2007

Light - Honey Teriyaki Salmon with Mange-Tout

TeriyakiSalmon01

The thing I love about living in Europe is not that it's tres chic, as my friends keep telling me, but moreover I love the four seasons. Each of them have that special something.

I have come to enjoy Winter. This was not always so. Now I find there is something completely refreshing about going out, dressed all snug and warm, into the cold, crisp air the streets and rooftops are covered in fresh snow. As I walk down the street I hear the hard snow crack beneath my feet. Blowing out warm air from our mouths, and watching the vapor lift away, we rush with our sledges to the hill top. Then coming home where it's warm and comforting my skin literally tingles - that is so invigorating.

I can hardly wait for Spring each year. The trees and flowers burst into a colorful bloom and the air is perfumed with the scents of cherry blossoms and lilacs. The horizon is a yellow sea of canola fields with splotches of lush green.

Summer, I will always love. As the temperatures rise, I can hardly wait to enjoy the warm sultry evenings on the terrace with a glass of chilled Prosecco. Looking into the clear dark sky, the stars glimmer like diamonds on black velvet. Picnics by the lake, afternoons at the pool and barbecues in the yard. Summer I love you!

Autumn has taken a special place in my heart. As the scenery changes from lush greens to deep and rich, oranges, yellows and browns we wrap ourselves in warm sweaters and enjoy long walks in the woods, collecting leaves, chestnuts and acorns. Back at school my favorite poem was the wonderful ode "To Autumn" by John Keats.

Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun,
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimmed their clammy cells.


This first part was so amazing. Sitting in my classroom in Doha with the desert heat blistering against the windows I shut my eyes and imagined the very scene I live here in Germany every autumn.

TeriyakiSalmon04


What I enjoy the most though is the food each season has to offer. Here in Weimar our Farmer's Market is open all throughout the year, offering fresh fruit and vegetables typical for the respective season. So, I have the opportunity to buy produce common for the particular season and be as creative with it as my imagination allows me to be. I love that. Something I never took notice of living in Qatar. There we had everything all year round as most of the stuff was flown in! We took many things for granted there and did not realize how to savor the specialties of the seasons.

Now I am enjoying luscious raspberries and strawberries, beautiful asparagus, crunchy snow peas and beans and juicy watermelons. The fact that Spring/Summer meals are quick and light is an added bonus.

Like this elegant meal we recently enjoyed. Salmon filet marinated in a teriyaki honey sauce and then roasted in the oven. The mange-tout or snow peas are served cold like a salad and adds an incredible accent to the salmon. Took minutes to make and allows you to enjoy the stars and prosecco a bit more ;-)


Music To My Ears


Justin Timberlake - What Goes Around
Hot, hot and the video is even hotter! New on my iPod







TeriyakiSalmon03


Ingredients

4 Salmon filets - each about 175 g and without skin
400g fresh mange-tout/snow peas - gently steamed for 2-3 minutes
7-8 tablespoons Teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons clear honey
4 tablespoons lime juice
4 tablespoons soya sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon + more olive oil
salt and pepper




TeriyakiSalmon02


Method
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Grease a baking tray with olive oil.

In a bowl mix together the teriyaki sauce, 1 tablespoon honey and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place the salmon and allow to marinate for approx. 30 minutes. Reserve the marinade.

Heat a large pan and on a high heat fry the salmon on each side for 2 minutes. Then place on the baking tray in the oven. Bake the salmon for 5 minutes - take out, brush both sides with some of the marinade and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Put back into the oven and allow to bake for a further 5 minutes.

Prepare the dressing for the mange-tout, by mixing soya sauce, lime juice, honey and sesame seed oil in a mixing bowl. Add the warm mange-tout and toss well.

Serve with the salmon and some hot wild/plain rice mix.

Variations:
  • Barbecue the salmon on a grill instead of baking in the oven. Perfect for warm BBQ parties.
  • Use green beans instead of the mange-tout. They taste just as great. I recommend Blue Lake Beans.
Susan over at FoodBlogga has a wonderful informative post on Peas. Check that out!



TeriyakiSalmon05





Verdict
I love the way the flavors from the salmon complement the flavors in the mange-tout. The whole meal is so well harmonized with each other - one would think it took careful planning to prepare this delicate dish. It's easy to make and really great for those warm sultry evenings on the terrace. Tom and Soeren just loved this meal. The slight sweetness from the honey worked well with the wonderful salty teriyaki and soya sauce. Light, quick, easy, elegant and big in taste. What else can you ask for?


Updated:




Wondering what this is? Well check out Alanna's wonderful idea and then go and do what I am going to do. Add this to my sidebar, paste the logo in a few previous posts, add a new label "Farmers Market Picks" and then make an easy reference on the sidebar.








Reminder!


You are all invited to my Big Birthday Bang.
Where: here!
When: June 6th
Hope to see you there!





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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Red Poppies

Poppies


I just wanted to say my sincerest thank you to all of you for your wonderful and kind words on the passing away of my grandma. I cannot begin to describe the feeling I have been having since I got the terrible news. It's just like a bottomless pit - I know I will never see her again and will never do the many things I had wanted to do with her. The most important one being giving Soeren a chance to meet the unique person she was.

As I got each one of your comments in my previous post, I cried and cried again. It was like I was being cleansed. Initially I was not sure if I should share this on the blog - but this is life and it effects me and my life. So, I just had to show my grandma in my own way that she will be so missed. What better way to do it than dedicating a Saints cake to her.

I thank you for sharing this moment with me, for your thoughts and prayers.



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Gâteau Saint-Honoré - The Daring Bakers Strike Again!

GateauxSt.Honore01

Here we are again the unbeatable Daring Bakers with the challenge for May. As soon as April's challenge was completed we all were eagerly checking the Daring Bakers blog to see what our next challenge and also who the newest members would be. Well after what seemed like an excruciating lapse of time, we were presented with our newest members, the Zeta Class including the first male member, and the challenge.

Helene was the host this month, which meant she was the person who would decide on what creativity (or monstrosity) would be coming out of our kitchens. Together with Anita she finally presented us with our challenge for May.

The Gâteau Saint-Honoré - [ga-TOH san , -toh-naw-RAY]
is a traditional French cake named after Saint Honoré, the patron saint of pastry bakers. May 16th actually is Saint-Honoré Day, which honors the patron.

When I was is Paris for 3 months, learning French as an exchange student, I remember always making a huge detour around this cake. The lovely French patisseries and bakeries would have this gâteau arranged beautifully behind the glass counters. It looked so impressive. It also looked like a million calories per bite.

After reading Helene's instructions of how the cake was put together I was scared. I mean really scared. Puff pastry, choux pastry, pastry cream the list of elements making up the cake just did not seem to stop. I read and re-read the instructions. I even went to the library to find other books and pictures for the cake. I asked Helene 101 questions and she was there for each of them. Her wonderful, gentle and soothing way of explaining things slowly but surely took away my jitters. So much so that I actually started to look forward to making this. I was even convinced of making my own puff pastry.

The cake is made up of the four components:
  • Puff pastry base
  • Pâte à Choux, used for the rings on the base and the cream puffs
  • Saint Honoré Cream to fill the cream puffs and cover the base
  • Whipping cream to decorate and hold the cream puffs to the cake
We were allowed a few modifications:
  • The puff pastry can be store bought or made follwing the recipe provided
  • The liqueur in the cream filling can be omitted or changed, oranges or lemons can be used, but no chocolate or coffee
  • The shape/size of the cake can be modified
  • The cream puffs can be set on the cream or dipped in caramel and glued to the base
I'd like to dedicate this post to my lovely grandmother, who passed away on Wednesday, in Houston. She was as multi-faceted as this cake and just as sweet. A strong willed woman whom I adored. The void you leave behind is immense and the pain that you never got to meet your great grandson in person is endless. I am sorry!





Making Puff Pastry or Pâte Feuilletée

No type of dough is more elegant than the puff pastry and nothing in the kitchen gave me more jitters than making this flaky, buttery and light dough. It is sumptuous, sensuous and time-consuming. The hundreds of layers, folding blocks of butter, rolling, folding and doing it over and over so that layer upon layer the pastry will rise - or puff - dramatically when baked. The idea is to distribute the butter evenly in sheets throughout the dough. When the pastry bakes, the moisture in the butter creates steam, causing the dough to puff and separate into many layers.

Making this delicate, flaky pastry took me about half a day to make, but the result - hundreds of puffed, crisp, and buttery layers - was, for me, the ultimate achievement.

Ingredients

420g all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
105g cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
60g unsalted butter - chilled and cut into pieces
300ml cold water
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
405g unsalted butter - chilled

GateauxSt.Honore06


Method

Make the dough package
In a large mixing bowl, combine both flours with the salt. Scatter butter pieces over the flour mixture; using your fingers or a pastry cutter, incorporate butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Form a well in center of mixture, and pour the water into well. Using your hands, gradually draw flour mixture over the water, covering and gathering until mixture is well blended and begins to come together. Gently knead mixture in the bowl just until it comes together to form a dough, about 15 seconds. Pat dough into a rough ball, and turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly, and place in refrigerator to chill 1 hour.

Make the butter package
Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon flour on a sheet of waxed or parchment paper. Place uncut sticks of butter on top, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon flour. Top with another sheet of paper; using a rolling pin, pound butter to soften and flatten to about 1/2 inch. Remove top sheet of paper, and fold butter package in half onto itself. Replace top sheet of paper, and pound again until butter is about an inch thick. Repeat process two or three times, or until butter becomes quite pliable. Using your hands, shape butter package into a 6-inch square. Wrap well in plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator until it is chilled but not hardened, no more than 10 minutes.

Assemble and roll the dough
Remove dough package from refrigerator, and place on a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, gently roll dough into a 9-inch round. Remove butter package from refrigerator, and place it in the center of the dough round. Using a paring knife or bench scraper, lightly score the dough to outline the butter square; remove butter, and set it aside. Starting from each side of the center square, gently roll out dough with the rolling pin, forming four flaps, each 4 to 5 inches long; do not touch the raised square in the center of the dough. Replace butter package on the center square. Fold flaps of dough over the butter package so that it is completely enclosed. Press with your hands to seal.

Using the rolling pin, press down on the dough at regular intervals, repeating and covering the entire surface area, until it is about 1 inch thick. Gently roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 9 by 20 inches, with one of the short sides closest to you. Be careful not to press too hard around the edges, and keep the corners even as you roll out the dough by squaring them with the side of the rolling pin or your hands. Brush off any excess flour. Starting at the near end, fold the rectangle in thirds as you would a business letter; this completes the first single turn.Wrap in plastic wrap; place in refrigerator 45 to 60 minutes.

Remove dough from refrigerator, and repeat the process above, giving it five more single turns. Always start with the flap opening on the right as if it were a book. Mark the dough with your knuckle each time you complete a turn to help you keep track. Chill 1 hour between each turn. After the sixth and final turn, wrap dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before using.

Helpful links:
Preparing Puff Pastry
WikiHow: How to Make Puff Pastry



Making Pâte à Choux or Choux Pastry

GateauxSt.Honore03


When it comes to pastry doughs, pâte à choux is in a class of its own. Where other doughs can be formed into various shapes, pâte à choux is so soft that it hardly supports itself before baking. Before baking, the choux pastry must either be spooned or piped into shape. Furthermore, pâte à choux contains eggs, in addition to flour and fat, which give the dough the ability to rise dramatically when baked.

I absolutely love Dorie Greenspan's description of the Pâte à Choux in the cookbook she wrote with Pierre Hermé - Chocolate Desserts:
"Cream puff dough is pastry's Little Engine That Could. Put a spoonful of it in the oven and, as it's expanding, you can just about hear it chanting, "I think I can, I think I can.""

This wonderful dough makes the decadent profiteroles and luxurious éclairs. Both belong to my list of favorite pastries. Here it makes the base and the puffs for the Gateau Saint Honore.

Ingredients

140g all-purpose flour
240ml water
60g unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
4-5 large eggs

Method

Sift the flour and set aside.
Bring the water, butter and salt to a full rolling boil, so that the fat is not just floating on the top but is dispersed throughout the liquid.

Stir the flour into the liquid with a heavy wooden spoon, adding it as fast as it can be absorbed. Avoid adding it all at once or it will form clumps.

Cook, stirring like mad and breaking up the lumps if necessary, by pressing them against the side of the pan with the back of the spoon. The dough will come together very quickly. The bottom of the pan will be covered in a white film and form a slight crust, but you still need to stir vigorously for another 2 to 3 minutes. Once it comes together and has slightly dried the dough will be very smooth.

Transfer the dough to a mixer bowl. Allow the dough to cool slightly so that the eggs will not cook when they are added. You can add and stir the eggs by hand but it requires some serious elbow grease.

Mix in the eggs, one at a time, using the paddle attachment of a mixer on low or medium speed. Add the eggs one by one, beating until each egg is thoroughly incorporated. When you add your first egg the smooth dough will separate - don't worry about that - it's supposed to and as you keep adding the eggs and beating it will re-form into a smooth paste. At the end the dough should be thick, shiny and have the consistency of thick mayonnaise.

Helpful Links:
About.com - Pâte à Choux



Making Saint Honoré Cream or Crème Chiboust

This is a typical pastry cream used to fill various pastries, however the most famous one is certainly the Saint Honoré Cake. Lightened with egg whites or whipped cream this pastry cream was created by Chef Chiboust in Paris around 1846 to fill his specially created Saint Honoré Cake. The pastry cream can be flavored with lemon or orange zest, liqueurs or vanilla flavoring.

GateauxSt.Honore05


Ingredients

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
60ml cold water
130g + 2 Tablespoons sugar
70g all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
500ml whole milk
1 vanilla bean - scrape the insides of the bean. Safe pod for other use
60g whipping cream
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
100g sugar

Method

Soak the gelatin in the 60ml of cold water.

Combine sugar, flour, and salt into a saucepan and whisk until the ingredients are incorporated. Add the yolks and enough milk to make a paste. Whisk in the remainder of the milk and beat until the mixture is pale yellow.

Over medium heat cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Simmer for a few seconds, and remove from heat. Add the vanilla and the gelatin, stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in the whipping cream, then place the mixing bowl in cold water and stir until the cream has cooled.

In a clean bowl pour in the egg whites and using clean beaters, whip them with the dash of salt. As soon as the whites begin to stiffen, gradually add the 100g of sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Fold the egg whites into the cooled cream.

Assembling and Decorating Cake

Once the above three components for the Saint Honoré Cake have been prepared, the cake is ready to assemble. There are many small variations to doing this. For example you can caramelize sugar and dip the bottoms and tops of the puffs in the sugar and then hook them onto the cake. I chose not to meddle around with hot caramel this time round and decided to use whipping cream. While I was researching this cake I also saw that some recipes did not fill the cream puffs with the Crème Chiboust, while others did. Here the puffs are filled and I recommend doing this over to leaving it unfilled, because it simply adds to the incredible decadence. I also used a few raspberries I had in the refrigerator to decorate the cake. This final touch was not only a visual feast, but also it added a wonderful fruity and tart flavor to the cake.

Ingredients

250ml heavy cream
1 teaspoon sugar
150g fresh raspberries

Assembly

GateauxSt.Honore02

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Roll the puff pastry out to 3 mm thick, 30 cm square. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and refrigerate covered for at least 20 minutes.

Fill the Pâte à Choux into a piping bag with a #4 (8mm) plain tip. Set aside.

Take the puff pastry out of the fridge and leaving it on the sheet pan, cut a circle (approx. 28 cm) from the dough and remove the scraps. I used the base of my smaller spring form, which is 18 cm, and made two bases by simply pressing down onto the puff pastry. Prick the circles lightly with a fork.
Taking the piping bag filled with the Pâte à Choux, pipe concentric rings on the puff pastry base. Depending on the size you used (either 28 cm or 18 cm) you can pipe 3 to 4 circles.

Bake the puff pastry base for 10 minutes until the choux pastry has puffed up. Then reduce the heat to 180 degrees Celsius and bake for a further 35 minutes.

In the meantime line a separate baking tray with parchment paper. With the remaining Choux pastry, pipe out individual cream puffs the size of Bing cherries (mine were larger) onto the baking tray.

Once the base is ready take it out of the oven and increase the heat of the oven back to 200C. Place the baking try with the cream puffs and bake for 10 minutes, then once again reduce the heat to 180C and bake for another 8 to to minutes, until golden and puffed.

Place approx. 115g of Saint Honoré cream in a pastry bag with a #2 (4mm) plain tip. Use the pastry bag tip or the tip of a paring knife to make a small hole in the bottom of each cream puff. Pipe the cream into the cream puffs to fill them and then refrigerate.
Pipe the remaining cream filling on the cake. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to set the cream.

Whip the 250ml of heavy cream and teaspoon of sugar to stiff peaks. Place the whipped cream in pastry bag fitted with a #5 (10mm) star tip. Pipe a border of whipped cream around the top of the cake. Arrange the cream puffs, evenly spaced, on top of the filling, next to the cream. Pipe the rest of the cream in the middle of the cake and a small smudge of cream on top of each cream puff. Decorate with raspberries.

Serve and enjoy immediately.




GateauxSt.Honore04


Verdict

This was served as a finale to a French dinner I had for a few friends. As the kids were also present I did not use any alcohol in the cream. While I was making the cake I naturally tasted everything individually. I was finding everything rather sweet for my likings and that really is saying something. I have the sweetest tooth ever. That is why I decided to add the raspberries to cut the sweetness a bit. However, in the evening when I cut a slice for each of my guests and we all sat down to enjoy this cake, I realized it was not as sweet as I thought it would have been. The puff pastry and choux pastry took away a major part of the sweetness from the pastry cream and whipping cream. I found that the raspberries were an incredible improvement to the entire cake. The tartness of the berries was so perfect combined with the rest of the elements. The cake itself only gets it's flavor from the pastry cream. The other components, puffy pastry and choux pastry are more or less neutral, so the flavoring used in the cream has to really stand out.

Would I make this again?
I think I would but not in this form. I have my eye on a delicious chocolate version from Pierre Hermé's Chocolate Desserts.

What did I learn from this challenge?
This was an amazing challenge. Helen motivated me so much into making my own puff pastry and getting over my fear of this dough. Homemade puff pastry, I now realize, is unbeatable and mastered made me feel like a billion bucks. I will now be making this in larger amounts and freezing it in portions to use in other dishes. As a matter of fact, this recipe yielded so much that I was able to make two other dishes with it. These recipes are coming soon ;-)
Making choux pastry is something that I think I will cherish the most from this challenge. I love eclairs and profiteroles and with this I can make them at home now. So, this challenge was great as a whole, but for me, learning to make the individual components were the most valuable.

Helen, I thank you from the bottom of my heart - not only for choosing this cake as our challenge but for going out of your way to motivate me, advice me and inspire me each step of the way. I had my own personal instructor by my side and your valuable lessons will be used in the future to showcase a few great recipes, which I am already looking forward to.

So, that was May's challenge with the incredible Daring Bakers. Visit each member on the Daring Baker blog roll to see their amazing creations. I am now looking forward to the June challenge and to our new June DB members. I know we are going to be joined by our second male member Jef, whose blog I am really enjoying for a while now. To all the June members I'd like to say my official hello and welcome to the team.

For future reference I have added the three main elements - puff pastry, choux pastry and the chiboust cream, to the sidebar section "The Know-Hows of Food" under the drop down menu "How Tos". So, if you do not fancy making the entire cake but would like to make one of the elements found in this cake for another dessert, all you need to do is click on the sidebar drop down menu and select the desired item. You will be forwarded to that exact item in this post.



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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wonderfully Caramelized Vegetable Tart

CaramelizedVegieTart01ByMeetaAlbrecht

Certainly many of you will know that I am a fanatic list maker. It helps me stay organized in my busy routine. However, I do break free from the list making, actually you might be surprised to hear, that I do this on a regular basis. This generally happens when I visit my Farmer's Market. My list somehow is forgotten and so is everything on it. I am driven by the colors, aromas and the variety of fruit and vegetables. In a trance I walk around each stall, picking at the fruit or vegetables, smelling it's ripeness and sometimes tasting samples and testing the juiciness, tanginess and crunchiness.

I imagine all the things I could make with the fresh raspberries I am holding in my hand or if I buy double the amount of fresh baby spinach I could make a salad and a pasta. So, everything wanders into my big blue Ikea bag. Hey, it's the biggest carry bag I can find and perfect for shopping at the Farmer's Market. As a matter of fact it's become my trademark at the Farmer's Market.

Brimming to the rim, I return home, my bag filled with gorgeous, fresh, organic produce. I feel satisfied with myself as I look at all the items laid out on my counter top. My mind is fuming with all the ideas of what to make for dinner. I just cannot decide on anything particular - fennel, zucchini, asparagus? What should it be? The thing is, as most of the produce is organic they need to be used up fast. Well if I was particularly organized that week I probably would have fresh puff pastry in my refrigerator .... the rest is easy.

CaramelizedVegieTart02ByMeetaAlbrecht


To make sure all the flavors of each vegetable comes out to it's max, I gently and slowly caramelize them on a low heat. As the juices come together to produce a wonderful bouquet of aromas, I just know this is going to be worth every bite.

In honor of the UK national vegetarian week, which is from 21st to 27th May, Abby of Eat the Right Stuff is celebrating with a one off event - Vegetables Beautiful Vegetables. I am dedicating this to all my favorite farmers at the Weimar Farmer's Market, who provide me with the most wonderful selection of produce all year round.



Reminder!


You are all invited to my Big Birthday Bang.
Where: here!
When: June 6th
Hope to see you there!







Ingredients

1 zucchini - sliced
1 fennel bulb - sliced
bunch of grape tomatoes - cut into quarters
1 large red bell pepper - cut in half
1 large red onion
small bunch of thyme - finely chopped
handful of pine nuts - roasted
200g puff pastry
olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
120g goat cheese
salt and pepper




CaramelizedVegieTart04ByMeetaAlbrecht


Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Lightly grease a baking tray with some olive oil and place the pepper halves on the tray. Roast for approx. 20 minutes or until the skins char and bubbles build up underneath the skin. Take out of the oven and cover with a tea towel to allow them to sweat for a few minutes. Once slightly cooled, peel the skin and slice the peppers.

In a greased tart form or another baking tray spread the puff pastry out. Prick the base of the puff pastry several times. Line with baking paper, place some dried beans, chickpeas or pie weights and blind bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the crust is golden brown.




In a large pan, heat some olive oil. Add all of the vegetables and allow them to be coated in the oil. On a low heat sauté them gently until all the water has evaporated and browning begins. Add the honey and lower the heat. Carry on sauteing them gently until the honey and the vegetables have caramelized and released all of their flavors. Make sure you stir frequently so that the vegetables to not stick to the bottom of the pan. This normally takes 15 to 20 minutes. Add thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the wonderfully aromatic vegetables onto the warm puff pasty, sprinkle with the roasted pine nuts and break off bits from the goat cheese and place on the vegetables. Turn on the grill function of your oven and bake until the cheese just starts to brown and the vegetables have warmed through.

Tips & Tricks

  • When caramelizing vegetables, what's happening is the heat is literally dehydrating the water in the vegetables. When enough water has evaporated from the vegetables the temperature of the sugars within them rises. Once they are heated past a certain temperature, they start to brown, which is a result of the sugar breaking down and recombining into more than 100 different ingredients. It is this variety that gives caramelized vegetables their complexity of flavor.
  • You can caramelize any amount of vegetables this way. Make sure that once their water has evaporated, the pan is not too crowded, and don't be stingy on the oil.
  • A nonstick, heavy and sturdy pan makes the process much easier, because the vegetables in contact with the cooking surface will tend to stick as their sugars are heated, and what gets stuck to the pan can burn.
  • Most sturdy vegetables with high sugar content can be caramelized in this manner. Vegetables that don't caramelize are those that contain too much water, like celery.
  • Do not use whole butter to caramelize vegetables, because the dairy solids in butter tend to burn. Clarified butter will work fine.




CaramelizedVegieTart03ByMeetaAlbrecht


Verdict

Vegetables beautiful vegetables! This is an exceptional way to enjoy a multitude of vegetables in one dish. By caramelizing them gently and releasing their sugars the incredible palate of flavors harmonize to create a smooth and rich taste. We savored each bite with relish. The combination of the piquant cheese, crunchy nuts and flaky pastry added a wonderful distinct finesse.

Daily Tiffin latest: This week I introduce my fantastic baker to our readers in Meet My Baker.


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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Summer Time ...

SummerFlowers

... and the living is easy! Summer is not officially here yet, but with temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius, we're enjoying lazing in the sun and cooling off in the pool.

Yesterday we had a warm summer shower and Soeren and I decided to go outside and get wet. Hey, my neighbors already think we are totally mad, so I why disappoint them? LOL!

The back yard is growing wild too - currently marguerites are speckled all across the lawn. Looks wonderful.

Thought I'd share some with you - and bring a beautiful warm summer smile to your faces.

Hugs from me!!




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Monday, May 21, 2007

Raspberry Dream Cream



Whoever said desserts have to be extensively prepared to have the WOW! effect on guests? Do they need to be intricately decorated, with hours or maybe even days of preparation?
I say NO!

I want a dessert to be whipped up, literally, in minutes. I want it to be full of taste and flavor and I want it to use fresh ingredients. I do not want to slog in the kitchen for hours after having doing just that for the main course. And I still want that WOW! effect on my guests faces.

Can all this be true? Is it possible? Or am I selling you dreams.
I say YES! It is true, it is possible and this is a dream. A dream come true!!




This dessert is so perfect in every way that I had to call it a dream cream. It uses the full bodied flavor of fresh raspberries and creamy mascarpone. Paired with the aroma of a vanilla bean and the fluffiness of quark, it becomes just unbeatable. I love the purity of white against the striking red color of the raspberries. It's such a visual treat.




What I truly love in this dessert is the use of fresh organic raspberries. With summer just around the corner my organic store and Farmer's Market is bursting to the seams with a multitude of fresh berries. I cannot even begin to tell you how much we love berries in our household. We literally go through kilos of the stuff. You'll find us adding them to our yogurt, muesli, desserts or just munching on them out of the fridge.

Therefore, in the next few weeks you might just be seeing a lot of great dishes with raspberries, strawberries and co.


Raspberries



Or the "Queen of Berries" as they are called. Himbeere in German, Framboise in French and Lampone in Italian, raspberries are plump, juicy and fragrantly sweet with a slight hint of tartness. They are a perennial summer favorite and have a gorgeous melt-in-your-mouth texture. Raspberries were mentioned by Pliny and had the reputation of being a medicinal plant. It was cultivated and further developed in the Middle Ages, by monks and in the 17th century the red and yellow types of raspberries were already well known.

The raspberry embodies indulgence and health almost ideally. The sweet flavor is only one reason to indulge in the delicate fruit. Rich in vitamin C, folate, iron and potassium, raspberries also provide high amounts of insoluble fiber as well as respectable amounts of the soluble fiber pectin, which helps control cholesterol levels. The fruit is a good source of ellagic acid and other cancer-fighting antioxidants. Since cooking does not destroy these compounds, raspberry jam may also be beneficial. But because the fruit tends to spoil quickly, freeze leftovers to use in cooking. Even the leaves of the raspberry bush are used for medicinal purposes. They have been used by herbalists to treat diarrhea and in midwifery, red raspberry has been connected to female health, including pregnancy. It was considered a remedy for excessive menstrual flow (menorrhagia) and as a “partus prepartor,” or an agent used during pregnancy to help prevent complications.

There are more than 200 different known species of raspberries and raspberries contain 10-times more antioxidants than tomatoes or broccoli. Red raspberries are the most common type but there are also golden, amber, and purple berries all similar in taste and texture. Raspberry season begins in June and lasts through October.



Selecting and Storing
Raspberries are extremely perishable and they should therefore, only be purchased one or two days prior to use. Look for berries that are plump, firm and deep in color Avoid those that are soft, mushy or moldy. Make sure that the raspberries are not packed too tightly in pre-packed containers, as this may crush and damage them. Also make sure the container has no signs of stains or moisture which is an indication of possible spoilage.

As raspberries are one of the most perishable fruits, extreme care should be taken when storing them. Before you store them in the refrigerator, remove any berries that are molded or spoiled so that they will not contaminate the others. Place the unwashed berries back in their original container or spread them out on a plate lined with a paper towel, then cover the plate with plastic wrap. Raspberries will keep fresh in the refrigerator for one or two days. Make sure not to leave raspberries at room temperature or exposed to sunlight for too long, as this will cause them to spoil.

Raspberries freeze very well, so I buy them in large amounts to use throughout the months they are not available. Wash them gently so that they maintain their delicate shape, then pat dry with a paper towel. Allow them to completely dry before placing them in the freezer. Arrange them in a single layer on cookie sheet and place them in the freezer. Once the berries are frozen, transfer them to plastic bags or freezer containers. Frozen berries should last approximately ten months to one year. Adding a bit of lemon juice to the raspberries will help to preserve their color.

Berry Raspberry Information:
Varieties, history and more on Wikipedia
Growing your own raspberry: Backyard Gardener
Raspberry facts and picking tips: Pick Your Own


Reminder!


You are all invited to my Big Birthday Bang.
Where: here!
When: June 6th
Hope to see you there!









Ingredients

200g Fresh raspberries - gently washed
200g Mascarpone
250g Quark
1 vanilla bean - insides scraped
75g fine granulated sugar
5 tablespoons milk
juice if 1/2 lemon
Chocolate rolls for decoration - you can also add a mixture of grated white and dark chocolate

Tips and Tricks:

  • Substitute quark with thick yogurt.
  • Mascarpone cheese should be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container as it takes on the aromas from other items in the fridge.
  • If you do not have a vanilla bean on hand, simply use some vanilla sugar instead.
  • If you are using frozen raspberries do not thaw them prior to making the dessert. Use them frozen. However, once thawed the dessert could become more liquidy.






Method

In a large mixing bowl whip the quark, mascarpone, milk and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add in the vanilla and lemon juice and mix to incorporate.

In clean glasses or bowls layer the fresh raspberries and cream on top of each other. Finish with a layer of raspberries. Place in the refrigerator and allow to set for at least 1 hour. Just before serving sprinkle the grated chocolate or decorate with the chocolate rolls.

Makes 4.






Verdict
Easy going dessert - pure and simple. Here the one doing most of the work is the refrigerator! Soeren just loved this dessert. Ever since I made this every time I ask "What should we make for dessert!" his answer is always the same "that raspberry cream!" Tom and my guests could not stop scraping the remaining cream from the sides of the glasses. The spoons were licked clean and the looks on their faces told me they all wanted seconds. It really did have that WOW! effect.

This is my entry to this month's Sugar High Friday. It is being hosted by Tara of Seven Spoons with the fantastic theme Neutral Territory where we were to make a dessert in a hue of white.
For more pristine white sweetness check out the roundup.
The lovely Padmaja is hosting this month's Weekend Breakfast Blogging where she chose the wonderful theme Summer Fruits. So, I hope she will accept my sweet offerings with fruity raspberries.


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Friday, May 18, 2007

Bollywood Cooking: Channa Masala



Legumes are a very vital part of an Indian diet. As many Indians are vegetarian, they rely on a wide range of legumes, both whole and split for their source of protein. Mixed with grains, boosted by vegetables and dairy products, and spiced to the max, they provide a wholesome, varied diet.

Indian food offers a wide range of flavors both intense and subtle and the variety in dishes available are as vast as the country itself.



Regional Indian cuisine is influenced by climate, history and religion. You will find that North Indian food is very different to South Indian cuisine. To sample this wide variety of flavors, tastes and aromas therefore, remains a challenge. Indian restaurant food hardly even skim the surface of Indian cuisine. Therefore, the best alternative you have is to cook it yourself.

That's where I hope I can help out here ;-). If you followed the previous sessions you will know that the dishes presented here are what I learned from my mum or dad. I have taken some time, chatted with them, referred to their expertise and now share the dishes with you.

The simplicity of this particular dish should not fool you. Indians have several ways to cook this particular dish. Channa (or Chole) Masala is basically chickpeas in a blend of spices and herbs. The consistency of the sauce also depends with what type of condiment you plan on serving it with. So, if you would like to have this with a roti or naan (Indian flat breads) then the sauce should be a little thicker. I was planning on having this with rice, therefore the sauce is thinner. Once again this dish come from my dad and just like the Chicken Curry, it is easy to make but guarantees full flavor.

In a previous post I covered the "Food Know How" for Chickpeas, however how many of you get confused when people refer to them as legumes?



Legumes
Legumes are classified as lentils, beans, or peas, and all of them are basically seeds from specific plants. Varieties of dal (also called dahl), often found in Indian cooking, are also legumes.

Legumes are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. They're good sources of protein and can be a healthy substitute for meat, which has more fat and cholesterol.

In Indian cuisine, legumes are often a part of every meal of the day. The protein found in legumes is a very different protein from the protein found in meat products, cheese, eggs, and fish. The protein from legumes requires more effort to digest and people new to legumes will find it very helpful to use spices that help digestion such as asafetida, cumin seeds, fresh ginger, and black pepper. The addition of these spices to legume dishes will help to reduce any side effect such as bloating or gas that beans are often associated with.

Legumes can be prepared in three basic ways:

  • Soaked in water overnight and then cooked the next day by boiling in water. Spices can be added while cooking or lightly fried in oil and then added to the dish or clarified butter can be added after cooking. Vegetables and grains may be added while cooking to create stews. Legumes can be eaten with rice or used for dipping flat breads such as chapatis or pita bread.
  • They can be soaked for several hours and then ground into a paste with a food processor. The paste can be used to make dumplings and fritters.
  • Ground into flours to make dough for breads and for desserts and puddings.


Selecting and Storing
Choose legumes with a deep and glossy color. Dry-looking or faded legumes indicate a longer storage time. The longer legumes are stored, the more likely they won't taste fresh. Cloudy surfaces may be an indication of moldy growth.
Select a wide variety of legumes. Many supermarkets stock a wide variety of legumes. They can be both dried or canned and offer greater versatility in cooking.
Dried legumes should be stored away from heat, light and moisture. They keep well in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag.
Keep unopened canned beans, chickpeas and peas in a cool, dry place. They safely store for two to five years.

On my sidebar you will find a new section called "The Know Hows of Food". The idea behind this section is to help you easily find certain ingredients and read about the benefits and other useful information such as storing and selecting. Go on and select an ingredient .... see you now have a fantastic reference for a variety of ingredients.
Thanks Sophie for your help!! ;-)
I'd also like to thank Gilly and Claudia from the very bottom of my heart. Thanks for all your advice and help. Both were the driving force to help me understand how banner placement in different browsers and screen resolutions work. Hugs to all three of you!



Reminder!


You are all invited to my Big Birthday Bang.
Where: here!
When: June 6th
Hope to see you there!









Ingredients

400g Chickpeas - I used canned chickepeas, but you can use dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight.
1 red onion - very finely chopped
1 large tomato - chopped
4-5 Garlic cloves - crushed to a paste
2 pieces Ginger each about an inch - 1 piece crush into a paste. Peel the other one and leave whole.
1 Green chili - finely chopped
2 Bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon Coriander powder
1 teaspoon Garam Masala powder
juice of 1/2 a lime
Vegetable oil for cooking
Salt
Cilantro leaves for garnishing - chopped







Method

In a wok or deep pan, heat oil and gently fry the bay leaves for approx. 20-30 seconds. Add the onions, ginger and garlic paste and fry on medium heat until the oil starts separating from the mixture. Once the mixture is golden brown add the green chili, tomatoes, red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, garam masala and salt. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes until the mixture resembles a thick paste.

Add enough water to make a gravy according to your required consistency. Place the whole ginger in the gravy and bring to a boil. Add the chickpeas and allow to simmer for approx. 15-20 minutes.

Squeeze some lime juice over the top and taste. You might prefer it a little more tangy, or as we say in Hindi "chat patta", in this case add a bit more lime juice. Serve with the chopped cilantro leaves sprinkled on top.



Verdict

Complicated? No. Quick? Certainly. Tasty? Most definitely. The ingredients in this dish are widely available in any good stocked supermarket. This is a light, healthy and low-calorie dish and can be eaten with rice or any flat bread you like. I had taken a bit out into a separate saucepan before I added the chilies for Soeren. Otherwise, it was all the same for him too. We enjoyed this quick and easy meal that was prepared without hassle. Furthermore, it is something that reminded me of home and a dish that one cannot often find on a menu in an Indian restaurant. Home cook Indian food is just more satisfying.

Hope you enjoy making this too.



I'd like to take a minute to help raise awareness for a new event created by a blogger buddy of mine. Abby of Eat The Right Stuff lives in the UK and she has created a one-off event to celebrate national vegetarian week from 21-27 May. Check out Vegetables Beautiful Vegetables.


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Monday, May 14, 2007

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream



I've always been on the lookout for the perfect scoop. I'm sure there are many of you who share my passion for ice-cream. I never really care if it's -20 or +30 degrees Celsius outside, if I have a good supply of ice-cream in my freezer, things can never go wrong.

Last year I invested in an ice-cream maker and decided to take making ice-cream into my own hands. Ever since then the canister of the maker has a permanent abode in my freezer. It allows me to quickly whip up ice-cream whenever the boys and I fancy a refreshing scoop.


Of course as every experiment I had some disasters in the taste department and also a few catastrophes when combining ingredients. But, there were a lot of successes too. Still, I was really excited when I discovered the release of a book made for my ice-cream maker and me. David Lebovitz' newest summer sensation The Perfect Scoop.



A delicious book with ice-creams, sorbets and granitas to suit every taste bud. As if that is not enough David adds more lusciousness to the book by giving several ideas and recipes for sweet accompaniments. I know this one is going to be my summer time ice-cream Bible. I am glad that David did all the experimenting and presents me with a huge variety of recipes to try this summer. No trial and error anymore.

Like with every new cookbook I get I sat down with my colored Post-its and began marking all the recipes I'd like to make straight away. When I was done I had run out of Post-its and I think I kind of marked close to every recipe in the book!!

After a painstaking hour of decision making I settled on this ice-cream. Mainly because, you all know, I am a chocolate freak and wanted to officially open the summer ice-cream season with lovely and tangy raspberries. It's a combination I'd experimented with before too in a gorgeous dessert (recipe for that will be coming your way soon) and I just knew, chocolate and raspberries just work like a pair made in heaven.

I "met" David during the Menu For Hope III charity, last year. David was our patron for all bloggers in Europe. Ever since then I have been reading his blog on a regular basis and learning about his escapades in Paris. I just love his sense of humor too and there is a generous helping of that in this book. The Perfect Scoop is my very first cookbook from David and I really look forward to discovering the art of ice-cream making this summer.



Reminder!




You are all invited to my Big Birthday Bang.
Where: here!
When: June 6th
Hope to see you there!











Dark Chocolate Raspberry Ice-Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz The Perfect Scoop



Ingredients

375ml (1 1/2 cups) heavy cream
40g (5 tablespoons) unsweetened cocoa powder - I used organic cocoa powder from Gepa
130g (2/3 cup) fine sugar
250g (2 cups) raspberries






Method
In a saucepan whisk together all the ingredients except for the raspberries. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil while whisking frequently - it will foam up and thicken. Remove from heat and add the raspberries. Cover the saucepan and set aside for approx. 10 minutes.

Using a pureé mixer or blender, pureé chocolate raspberry mixture. To remove the seeds press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. If you like it crunchy then leave the seeds in the mixture. However, it tastes smoother when the seeds have been strained out, so it's worth the little extra work and I would recommend it.

Place the mixture in the fridge an chill completely for 24 hours. Then according to the instructions of your ice-cream maker manufacturer, allow the mixture to churn and freeze until smooth and creamy. Mine took about 10 minutes.

A few tips:
If your ice-cream maker requires it, you should really pre-freeze the canister of your ice-cream maker for at least 24 hours. If possible and you have enough space in the freezer, make a permanent space for it in one of the shelves. This is so important because if the canister is not properly pre-frozen you will get a mushy mixture that will resemble nothing close to ice-cream!

Make sure you keep things clean and hygienic when making ice-cream. Being a diary product it is vital that you handle the equipment and ingredients with care. Wash hands and clean the parts of your ice-cream maker in hot water after every use. Cover and chill the mixture promptly.

Do not have an ice-cream maker? Freeze the mixture and every half an hour or so, take it out and give it a good whisking with a hand blender. Once it is smooth, creamy and frozen it is ready to be served.





Verdict
Tangy and chocolaty in one lick. The dark rich chocolate was intense to the taste buds and at the back a slight tart and fruity flavor. This was rich, creamy and smooth. Each spoonful taking us to blissful ice-cream heaven.

I think I am going to be finding more than just one perfect scoop with The Perfect Scoop!

Hope you will join me as I discover them all!



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Sunday, May 13, 2007

For Helene...




My dear dear friend Helene celebrates a big birthday today.

Happy Birthday Gorgeous!!




All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First