Monday, July 30, 2007

Mirror Mirror On My Cake

Daring Bakers Challenge - July: Strawberry Mirror Cake



How the months fly by when you are having fun! This is so true when I think about the fantastic Daring Bakers and the monthly challenges. It's hard to believe this is my fourth month with the awesome group and I find it so astonishing that I have managed to complete four challenges with more or less good to pretty good results.

This month it was the brilliant Peabody who was to give us our assignment. I have no problem admitting that I was nervous about it.



If anyone is a regular visitor over at her blog (and I think almost all of you are) will know she dishes out the most incredible cakes, sweets and desserts. So, I knew she would set a high standard.

When the challenge was announced I was on vacation but you can all take a guess what the first thing I did upon returning. I logged into the DB blog and checked out what challenge she had chosen. It was to be a mirror cake - a strawberry mirror cake to celebrate the flavor of summer. She had chosen a recipe from Cakes and Pastries At The Academy by the California Culinary Academy 1993 - a cookbook I have my eye on for a while. So, I was excited to be making something from that.




Reading over the instructions a few times it was all straightforward stuff. I was a bit relieved as, besides the fact that it would be time consuming and there were several steps, it all looked very doable. All I had to do was organize myself and set myself a workable timeline.

As with each challenge there were the rules and the modifications we had to stick to.

The rules for this challenge were:
  1. Cake must be a white cake.
  2. Cake must be strawberry (unless there are health issues or one was not able to find strawberries).
  3. The mirror had to be made.

The allowed modifications were:
  1. The alcohol may be substituted for a non-alcoholic flavor or omitted.
  2. Cake may be decorated BUT a portion of the mirror must be visible

I tried to research mirror cakes on the internet and was a bit disappointed not to have found much information on it. Also the library did not produce much useful details for this cake. So, I was more intrigued by the mystery of it. I finally decided to make the cake in one go, instead of dividing it over a span of two days. The entire cake kept me busy for approx. 4 hours, but that was including chatting to other DBs and commenting on the DB blog!

The cake consists of four components:
  • Two layers of spongy cake
  • Two layers of Bavarian cream as a filling
  • Strawberry juice for the mirror
  • Finally the actual mirror.
Without much banter from me - I present you my fourth completed Daring Baker Challenge.



Strawberry Mirror Cake
Adapted from Cakes and Pastries At The Academy by the California Culinary Academy 1993



Special Pans: 11 x 17" Jelly Roll Pan, 10" Springform Pan, 8 1/4" Cake Round or Tin (or pattern)

Strawberry Mirror Cake

Ingredients

3 eggs
3 egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
2 TBSP sugar
2/3 cup sifted cake flour
½ cup water
1/3 cups sugar
2 TBSP kirsch or strawberry liqueur

Method

Preheat oven to 230C. Butter and flour the sides of an 11-by-17 inch jelly roll pan (rimmed baking sheet). Line bottom of pan with a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit bottom pan exactly.

Beat eggs, egg yolks and ¾ cup sugar together in a medium bowl until thick and light. Beat in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, add cream of tartar and beat until whites begin to form peaks. Add the 2 TBSP sugar and beat until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks (do not over beat).

Sift flour over the egg yolk mixture and fold in . Stir in one fourth of the whites. Then carefully fold in the remaining whites.

Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake until light brown and springy to touch (7 to 10 minutes).

Cool in pan 5 minutes. Run a knife along edge to loosen. Invert cake tin to cut out 8 ¼ inch circles of cake. Wrap the cake layers, separated with waxed paper, and set aside.

At this point the cake can be frozen.

Soaking Syrup

Combine water and the 1/3 cup sugar in saucepan; bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Cool to room temperature; flavor with liqueur. Set aside or refrigerate in glass jar until ready to use.

My tips: In Germany cream of tartar is called Weinstein Backpulver. Alnatura is the brand I used, which I found at DM Drogerie. I had posed a question on the DB blog about what cream of tartar actually does when added to baking ingredients. As always the DBs are so full of energy and provided me with useful information from O chef.

I did not notice any great difference in my egg whites with the addition of the cream of tartar.




Strawberry Bavarian Cream



Ingredients

2 ½ TBSP unflavored gelatin
1 ½ cups strained strawberry puree
5 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ cups milk
1 TBSP lemon juice
several drops of red food coloring
1 ¾ cups whipping cream

Method

Sprinkle the gelatin over the strawberry puree in a small bowl and set aside until spongy.

Combine egg yolks and sugar in a bowl' beat until light. Bring milk to a boil in sauce pan. Add a few tablespoons of the hot milk to the yolk mixture, stirring continuously. Once the egg mixture has tempered you can pour the rest in a steady stream and stir with a wooden spoon. Return this mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until your finger leaves a clear trail in sauce when drawn across the back of the spoon. Do not boil or mixture will curdle.

Immediately remove from heat and stir in softened gelatin mixture. Pour into a stainless steel bowl places over a bowl of ice water. Stir in lemon juice and a few drops of red food coloring. Cool over ice water, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens to the consistency of softly whipped cream.

While gelatin mixture is cooling, whip the whipping cream until it holds soft peaks. When the gelatin mixture resembles softly whipped cream, fold the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture.

My tips: I made my strawberry puree by simply throwing them in the blender and pureeing them. It is not necessary to add any extra sugar or lemon juice. If the strawberries are fresh and taste good simply pureeing them will do.



Strawberry Juice

Ingredients

1 ½ pints of strawberries
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup water

Method

Wash and hull strawberries; coarsely chop.

Place strawberries in saucepan; crush to start juices flowing. Place over low heat; add sugar and water; simmer slowly for 10 minutes.

Pour juice and pulp through damp jelly bag or cheesecloth-lined colander and drain into a bowl for 15 minutes. Do not press down on fruit.

Strawberry Mirror

Ingredients

1 tsp lemon juice
1 TBSP kirsch
1 TBSP water
1 TBSP unflavored gelatin
Few drops of red food coloring

Method

Prepare strawberry juice.

Place lemon juice, kirsch, and water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over this mixture; set aside until spongy and soft.

Measure 1 ½ cups Strawberry juice into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer; pour over gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve gelatin. Tint to desired color with red food coloring. Place bowl over bowl of ice water and stir occasionally until the mixture is syrupy and just beings to thicken (do not allow to jell); remove from ice water.

When mixture is syrupy, pour a 1/16-inch layer over the top of cake. Refrigerate until set.

My tips: Make sure there are no bubbles when you pour the liquid onto the cake. To get rid of the bubbles simply tap the bowl on the counter a few times to release the air. Do the same with the tin once you have poured it onto the cake.






To Assemble the Cake

  1. Brush sides of 10-inch springform pan lightly with flavorless salad oil or almond oil. Cut out a cardboard circle that is exactly the same size as the bottom inside of the pan; cover cardboard with aluminum foil and fit into bottom of pan. Center one layer of the cake bottom of pan. Brush the cake with some of the soaking syrup to just moisten(not drench) the cake; set aside.
  2. Prepare Strawberry Bavarian Cream. Immediately pour about half of the Bavarian Cream over the first layer of cake in the pan. Set the next layer of cake on top of the cream. Pour remaining Bavarian Cream over cake and smooth top of the cream with spatula. Refrigerate until the cream sets (1 to 2 hours).
  3. Prepare the Strawberry Mirror.


To serve

Wrap a hot towel around the outside of springform pan for a few minutes. Run a small sharp knife tip around the edge of the Strawberry Mirror to separate it form the sides of pan. Mirror will tear when sides are unlatched if it is stuck at ANY point. Slowly unlatch the pan and slide it off the cake. Slice cake in wedges and serve in upright slices.

Decoration

The red and pink are such bright and prominent colors, I thought of adding a bit of contrast in color, but also slightly to the taste, by adding a few lovely green pistachios. They livened the cake up and gave it a bit of crunch. I used some leftover strawberries and cut them in quarters leaving the greens on. I was quite pleased with the end result.



Verdict




The cake is a stunner. It looks great with the alternating layers of cake and cream and finally the bright red mirror. The green highlights added more to it's good looks. Taste-wise, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. I used fantastic organic strawberries that were exploding with flavor when eaten pure, however, the taste of the fruit somehow was lost in the cake.

Another thing I was a bit disappointed with was the overall texture. While the spongy cake was perfect and tasted great on its own, the cream was a bit stiff. When I first read the ingredients of the cake, I was a bit taken aback by the amount of gelatin that goes into the cream. It's a large amount and I wonder if that's what made the cream so stiff. I was hoping for a light and fluffy creamy texture but that was not the case.

On the whole though the cake tasted OK. The three of us had a slice each and
Tom took the rest for his students over at the uni. They enjoyed it to the last slice.

Would I make this again?

I have mixed feelings about this one. It was easy to make even though it takes a lot of time to prepare. I think if I was to give this another try I would probably use other berries, like raspberries, which are more tart and add more flavor than the strawberries do. I would also reduce the overall amount of gelatin to make it creamier. Furthermore, I would also leave the food coloring out. It does add to the vibrant color of the cake but I think the natural coloring of the berries would have been just as spectacular.

What did I learn from this challenge?

Organization is the name of the game. I took plenty of time for this and organized myself really well. I carried out each component of the cake step by step and it all came together really well. The overall making of this cake was a lot of fun and when I finally poured the mirror over the cake and slid it into the fridge to set, I felt completely satisfied.

Thanks to Pea, for choosing a very interesting challenge. To see the other completed cakes from the rest of the fantastic members visit the Daring Bakers' Blogroll and work your way down the list.

Time to relax for a few days until the next challenge is announced. Hope to see you all here around the same time next month again.


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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

Friday, July 27, 2007

Mr. Perfect: Cherry Semifredo Cake

Cherry Semifredo (01)


My friend: "Looks are not that important,"
Me: "Hmmmn"
My friend: "It's the inner qualities that count"
Me: "hmmmn"

I look at her wearily. Boy I cannot get over this baloney.

Me: "Ina, do you really believe that crap?"

C'mon do people really believe that? My friend Ina seems to. Ina's story is a bit of sad one, but I refuse to believe it will have a sad ending.



A little over a year ago her husband decided to leave her for a younger, and in his opinion, a better looking person. In his words "he needs someone that creates a fire in him when he looks at her!" If I should ever get my hands on him I will give him an inferno that will heat up his family jewels!

And Ina? She was left behind to look after their, at that time, 3 year old daughter. Shame, because Ina has a great sense of humor, is a fantastic person, honest, sweet, loving, caring and a great girlfriend. She even looks good. So, where is the catch? I sometimes think she is a bit naive.

That's not a bad quality at all, but sometimes I wish I could shake her out of it. She is 33 and thinks her life has ended. She is letting herself go. Something I cannot stand to watch. When he left her, I comforted her when she sulked, cried and felt sorry for herself. One needs it to heal, is what I believe. But slowly I have been encouraging her to go to the gym with me, meet with friends and go out. She does enjoy these times and I know she wants to get out of it but she is being pulled down with self pity and lack of confidence.

So, when she comes up with comments like the one above, I get mad at her. Because I know she is simply consoling herself with second best.

We were recently at a club. Ina, me and two other friends. It was a girls night out and we were having a great time. We were at a club for "30 something" as it is called in Germany.

In Germany the legal age of being allowed to get into clubs is 16 and the drinking age is 18, which means that most clubs have little teenies running around everywhere. The atmosphere is more like visiting some teenage birthday party gone out of control. So, we prefer to go to clubs that are a bit more civilized and sophisticated (on most occasions) created especially for the 30s and above. Sound funny? It's not really if you look at it from one of my friend's point of view. She is a teacher, 30 and says she does not fancy partying with her 16 year old students. Fair point.

Getting back to Ina, we were sitting in the "chill out lounge" sipping on cocktails and there was a guy across the room who constantly was looking over to us. Ina must have caught his attention as she started to squirm in her chair. She does that when she gets nervous. I was noticing all that and looked at her, my eyes wide open and shaking my head.

"Ina, do not even think about it!"
"What?"
"Do not bat an eyelash at him OK?"
"Why?"
"Because he'll be over in a sec!"
"Is that bad?"
"Yes, because he is not very attractive and is not your type!"

To which Ina answered the very typical statement I started this post with.

Now I do not want to come off as a fickle and superficial person to you all. I believe many of you know I am not. So do my really good friends. For those who are not sure - take it from me I am not. What I am, in these situations, is probably just pragmatic.

I think "good" looks are relative. Every one of us has a certain picture, image or vision of what we find attractive. This is our ideal person and we are often attracted to this "type" of person. If you like - this is our standard. Why should one have to reduce their standard?

Let's be really honest, does anyone go to a club and see someone they have never met before and think:

"He's really ugly, but I am sure his inner qualities are incredible so I am going to get to know him better!"

It's like being served a bunch of stinky brown and green mushy slop on a plate and told:

"It tastes much better than it looks!"

Ahhh! I knew Foodies would be able to relate to that!!

Cherry Semifredo (05)


Let's take another example. How many of you find Brad Pitt attractive?

Yes, many of you I know. I do too. But he is not my "type"! Let's say he were to be standing in that club at the bar, I would certainly look but would simply pass (let's just forget the fact that he would never be standing in a club in Weimar and with a woman like Jolie he would not even look at me).

What is my type? The Daniel Craig type is more my cup of tea (let's forget the fact that I may never be his type). Look at Tom and you will see that I am true to my "type".

To me Ina was settling for something that was less her type and standard because she thought she could not do better. A single, 33 year old working mum, divorced, ditched and left to wither.

What a load of unbelievable baloney! Don't you agree?

I pulled her over to the dance floor and soon noticed the perfect person not far from us. Mr. Perfect was Ina's type to the T. Looked good, stylish and left a certain impression in the air. I pushed her a little in his direction. As she realized, she panicked, so it was up to me to make eyes at him. Finally he decided to come over and chat. I moved Ina into his path and once they started talking, I discreetly danced my way back to the lounge. A huge grin on my face.

Ina did not have to settle for second best that night. Or that weekend as it turned out. Apparently the look on her Exs face must have been priceless when he brought their daughter back and saw Mr. Perfect leave.

Ina and Mr. Perfect? Ina had a great weekend, but it turns out Mr. Perfect's inner qualities leave a lot to be desired.

Ina however, is full of confidence and is pretty much back to her vibrant self again. She is now enjoying herself and knows that she can have it all if she wants.

Just like this irresistible dessert. To celebrate Ina's re-coming out I decided to make something grand. We wanted it all - cake, ice-cream and fruit. It had to look good and have the perfect inner qualities.

Voila!


Reminder!

Don't forget those entries for this month's Monthly Mingle.
Earth Food is all about helping raise awareness for the steps and actions we can take to save our beautiful blue planet. Hope you will find it in your hearts to party with me.
Deadline is August 6th!

Important Announcement: I have unfortunately deleted an entry by mistake that landed in my spam. It was from a Toni. Sorry I hit delete on my spam folder and while it was being deleted I got a glimpse of the entry. So, if a Toni sent me an entry for Earth Food. I would kindly like to request you to send it again. I am extremely sorry about the inconvenience!





Ingredients

Cherry Semifredo (02)


200g bitter-sweet chocolate - coarsely chopped
500g cherries - stems removed and pitted
500g mascarpone
250g quark - substitute sour cream if you cannot get quark
250g cream
150g whole almonds - with the skins on and coarsely chopped
300g chocolate cookies - I used some chocolate chip cookies
300ml cherry juice
1 packet vanilla sauce powder (for 1/2 liter)
100g sugar
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter




Method

Cherry Semifredo (06)


Cover the base of a spring form with some baking paper. Snap the edge of the form shut around it.

Place a mixing bowl in a water-bath and melt the chocolate with the butter. Put all the cookies in a large plastic freezer back and using a rolling pin finely crush the cookies.

Mix the melted chocolate with the cookies and pour the mixture into the spring form. Using a spoon press the base gently to even it out. Place in the refrigerator to cool for 1 hour.

Roast the chopped almonds in a pan without the addition of any fat. Take out and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl mix 6 tablespoons of the cherry juice with the vanilla sauce powder. Bring the rest of the cherry juice to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the vanilla sauce powder, constantly stirring. Allow to simmer for about a minute until it thickens. Mix in the cherries, then set aside and allow to cool.

In a large bowl whisk the quark, mascarpone, sugar and lemon juice into a smooth mixture. Beat the cream in a separate bowl until stiff and then gently fold into the mascarpone/quark mixture. Add the almonds and the cherry compote and fold into the mixture.

Pour the entire mixture over the cookie base into the spring form. Cover with foil and freeze for 6 hours.

Take the semifredo out of the freezer 20 minutes before serving and allow to thaw at room temperature. This allows the flavors to blend into each other. Decorate with a few chopped almonds and whole cherries.

Cut into slices and serve.

Enjoy.

More creamy and fruity ice creams to indulge in:


Also check out the I Scream For Ice Cream roundup from last month's Monthly Mingle for more ice cream inspiration.



Verdict

Cherry Semifredo (03)


Refreshingly fruity, sophisticatedly creamy and irresistibly cool. Who said we girls cannot have our cake and eat it too? If all men were like this dessert we'd all have our Mr. Perfect.

Ouch! (That was me after Tom pinched me!) I did mention that my guy is my Mr. Perfect from the inside to the outside, didn't I?

My fantastic girlfriend from The Daily Tiffin Sabrina of YumSugar is hosting an Ice Cream Challenge. There is no way I can miss that and for all girls reading this post I'd like to send a huge piece of this Cherry Semifredo Cake to you.

Go on take the cake and eat it too!


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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, July 24, 2007

Apricot Clafoutis

Apricot Clafoutis (01)


How many of you keep track of the changing season with the coming and going of fruit and vegetables? I really do. And almost every year right about now I start to panic as I realize we are heading towards the cooler time of the year.

Asparagus came and went, the last of the cherries can be spotted in the stores and my favorite this season, berries are becoming harder to find.

I am buying in bulk now to freeze and help me get through my fruit and veggie cravings during the winter. Yes I am currently living a squirrels nightmare. Hogging and saving for colder and rainy days.



Often when Tom comes home he is greeted with a kitchen that looks more like a production line of a busy factory. Washing and drying, pitting or peeling, cutting, spreading, freezing on trays and then finally placing in bags and freezing again. If I am making purees, sauces or stock - add cooking or steaming to the production line. Soeren is always a great help and we often have a ball in the kitchen together.

At the moment we've zeroed our focus on apricots. This year the apricots have been extremely sweet and have a gorgeous ripe aroma. This is actually the first time we're freezing apricots and I have already made a nice large amount of apricot puree. The next thing we want to do is freeze the fruit. I've never done this before nor have I ever tasted apricots after they have been frozen, my neighbor however swears they are great for desserts. So, I am hoping that after the next trip to the Farmers Market we will be able to save enough to freeze.

Apricots (03)


It's hard - they taste so good and every time we go to the fridge to take something out, the rosy, golden fruit shine brightly at us. We simply cannot resist the temptation to quickly grab one. Before I can get anywhere near the freezing process most of them have already disappeared.

I've also been making a few spontaneous desserts with them. Recently we had some friends over for dinner, I had to plunder my apricots - that were meant to end up in the freezer - for a quick, on-the-spur-of-the-moment dessert.

Clafoutis is actually the perfect dessert for fruit of many types. It's made quickly and tastes heavenly. The batter is somewhat similar to a pancake batter and all you do is bake it with the fruit in the oven. Presto - you have a fantastic tasting dessert leaving a beautiful aroma of freshly baked fruits in the air. Cherries are used commonly for this dessert, but I thought ripe baked apricots would do perfect justice to my clafoutis.



Apricots

Apricots (02)


Beautiful small orange colored fruits with velvety skin and flesh. Apricots are a gorgeous and delicate fruit that can be enjoyed throughout summer. Ripe apricots are plump and juicy and have a delicate aroma. The flavor lies somewhere between a plum and a peach with a musky, slightly tart taste. Apricots can be enjoyed from May through to August and one really should take full advantage of the fruits.

Relative to the peach, apricots are full of beta-carotene, fibre and an excellent source of vitamin C. According to the American Cancer Society, apricots, and other foods rich in carotenes, may lower the risk of cancers of the larynx, esphagus, and lungs. Apricots also provide potassium, iron, calcium, silicon, phosphorus.

Apricots contain nutrients such as vitamin A that promote good vision. Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, reduces free radical damage to cells and tissues. Furthermore, the high beta-carotene and lycopene activity of apricots makes them important heart health foods.

A healthy, whole food diet should include apricots as a delicious way to add to the fiber intake.

Dried apricots are a great alternative during the winter months. Although the dried fruit is more expensive as it takes five pounds of fresh apricots to produce only one pound of dried; and, since drying removes only the water, the nutrient qualities are extremely powerful. Compared to the fresh, dried apricots have twelve times the iron, seven times the fiber, and five times the Vitamin A!

Organically grown apricots have a superior flavor when fresh. Although their appearance is not as appealing when dried, they have not been bleached or colored. Organic apricots have not been treated with preservatives and become darker in color. They have a caramelized, almost fig-like flavor. Buying organic apricots is recommended because sulfur dioxide has caused some allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock in people sensitive to sulfites.

Apricot Clafoutis (06)


Selecting and Storing:

Look for plump, fairly firm fruit with an orange-yellow to orange color at the stores or Farmers Markets. Fully ripe fruit is soft to the touch, juicy and should be eaten as soon as possible. If they are too firm they have not been tree-ripened, and tree-ripened fruits always taste best.

Keep apricots cool to prevent over ripening. Store ripe apricots in the refrigerator where they may keep for up to a week. Hard apricots can be put in a paper bag and let ripen for a day or two. Avoid buying green fruit as these will not ripen.

To freeze fresh apricots, simply half the fruit and place on baking sheet until frozen. Then pack in a plastic freezer bag.

Interesting Fact:
Both the fresh and dried apricot are a main food staple of a tiny Hunza principality in the Himalayas, who are known for their extreme longevity, excellent health, and an almost exclusive vegetarian diet.

Apricot Clafoutis (05)


More great ideas to enjoy apricots:
  • Add dried apricots to your muesli
  • Make an apricot puree and serve with pancakes
  • Enjoy a salad with juicy slices of apricots.
  • Add dried apricots to a chicken stew for a Middle Eastern flavor
  • Make an apricot crumble, chutney or preserve
  • Make a fruity apricot ice cream
  • Enjoy a decadent Apricot Daquiri with the girls
  • Dried apricots are great to make compotes and enjoyed on desserts






Reminder!

Get your recipes cooking for the latest mingle!
Earth Food is all about helping to raise awareness for the steps and actions we can take to save our beautiful blue planet. Hope you will find it in your hearts to party with me.
Deadline is August 6th!

Important Announcement: I have unfortunately deleted an entry by mistake that landed in my spam. It was from a Toni. Sorry I hit delete on my spam folder and while it was being deleted I got a glimpse of the entry. So, if a Toni sent me an entry for Earth Food. I would kindly like to request you to send it again. I am extremely sorry about the inconvenience!




Ingredients

Apricot Clafoutis (03)


500g ripe apricots - cut in halves, then sliced
2 tablespoons orange liqueur (e.g. Grand Marnier)
4 eggs - separated
pinch of salt
50g + 50g sugar
100g flour
1 vanilla bean - insides scraped
6 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons almond slices
butter for the forms
icing sugar to decorate



Method

Apricot Clafoutis (02)


Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees C.

Put the apricot slices in a bowl and pour the orange liqueur over them. Mix and allow to steep for 30 minutes.

Whisk the egg yolks, salt, 50g sugar and the vanilla into a foamy mixture. Fold in the flour and cream into the mixture.

In a separate bowl beat the eggs until slightly foamy then drizzle the 50g sugar, beating continuously until glossy, stiff peaks are formed. Gently fold in the egg white mixture into the flour/egg yolk mixture in two batches.

Fill the batter in four small or one large buttered oven-proof form. Spread the apricot slices over the batter. Sprinkle the almond slices over the top.

Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Take out and sieve icing sugar over the top.

Serve immediately.




Verdict

Apricot Clafoutis (04)


There is always something comforting about a warm baked dessert. Even when it's hot outside I will find a certain solace in such desserts. The apricots in this clafoutis were baked to perfection. They were still juicy and gave the entire dessert an exceptionally fruity aromatic note. It's perfect the way it is but for an extra couple of bonus points from your guests, add a serving of vanilla ice-cream!

Marta has a great new event going, which I really am enjoying. Fresh Produce of the Month really encourages me to use the lovely, fresh produce that is currently in season. For her second session, Marta has chosen Apricots and I think I'll be sending her a a nice big helping of my apricot clafoutis.


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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

Monday, July 23, 2007

Affinity for Apricots

Apricots 03


Apricots are still plentiful at the Farmers Market. We've been indulging in them by the kilo. Not only are they great to eat simply pure, juicy apricots also make incredible desserts. Oh yes trust me they do!

Do you like apricots and fruity sinfully good deserts? Well may I ask you all to rush out to your local store or Farmers Market and get yourself a supply of juicy fresh apricots? You'll want to make what I have in store as soon as you see it.

Watch this space for more!

;-)



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

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tropicana Cream with Summer Berries


Tropicana Cream (01)




Whenever I read or hear the word "Tropical", two things happen to me.

I immediately start imagining pictures of long white beaches, with lush green palm trees and turquoise blue waters.

And the second, for some reason I hear the sounds of "Club Tropicana" playing in the background. Yes, folks I am talking about that 80s hit by none other than the boys of Wham!



Once I get that tune in my head it takes days for it to get out again.

Club Tropicana drinks are free

Fun and sunshine - there's enough for ev'ryone.
All that's missing is the sea
but don't worry
you can suntan.


Err yes well ... At least I do not imagine George Michael in that crisp brown tan and that tiny bathing thong! Actually this time I did - but only because I went in search of the video and had a great laugh as I remembered the 80s! But that's for another post.

The reason I was in such a tropical mood was because my lovely Daring Baker girlfriend Mary chose Tropical Paradise for this month's Sugar High Friday.

Tropicana Cream (05)


In terms of food, "Tropical" makes me crave for the tastes of coconut and mangoes. I know a bit clichéd, but these fruits represent all those images I mentioned earlier. I think about Pina Coladas in a raving club and mango ice creams in a beach side bistro.

And I hear ...

Soft white sands
a blue lagoon

Cocktail time
a summer's tune
a whole night's holiday.
Club Tropicana drinks are free


As it happened, one evening I was pondering on what to make for a quick after dinner treat. Nothing too fancy I thought just something that me and the boys can tuck our sweet teeth into. As I went on the hunt rummaging through my refrigerator and pantry, way back in one of the shelves I found a can of coconut milk ....

Let me take you to the place where membership's a smiling face

Brush shoulders with the stars.
Where strangers take you by the hand and welcome you to Wonderland
From beneath their panamas.

Club Tropicana drinks are free


Moving onto our booze cabinet I also hit gold with the last few drops of Batida de Coco ...

Don't take your time
gotta move your feet
don't you miss the flight.
Pack your bags and leave tonight


And so, I moved my feet over to our stereo, found what I was looking for hit play and danced over to the kitchen with the sounds of Club Tropicana in my ears, pictures of turquoise blue lagoons in my head and soon a tropical tasting dessert for my palate!


Music to my ears



Club Tropicana - Wham!
Album - Fantastic

Zoom back into the 80s with the Club Tropicana video!








Reminder!

The latest Monthly Mingle is one close to my own heart. Earth Food is all about helping to raise awareness for the steps and actions we can take to save our beautiful blue planet. Hope you will find it in your hearts to party with me.
Deadline is August 6th!






Tropicana Cream (02)


Ingredients

100g sugar
30g cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
250 ml whole milk
150 ml coconut milk
50 ml coconut rum
2 egg yolks
30g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
400g mixed red currents and blackberries - washed

Note: I made this dessert without really consulting any weights, so the measurements here are more or less by the feel of things. You might find it necessary to increase or maybe even reduce certain ingredients.



Tropicana Cream (04)


Method

Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small saucepan. Pour enough of the whole milk into the sugar mixture to form a smooth paste.

Whisk in the remaining milk, coconut milk, rum and the egg yolks.

Cook the mixture over low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until it thickens. This takes about 15 minutes. Do not allow it to boil or else the eggs will curdle. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.

Layer the berries with the cream in tall glasses. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the surface to make an airtight seal and prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.

Serve chilled.

Variations: Use small pineapple chunks or mango pieces instead of berries for a full flavored tropical dessert.





Verdict

A nice and easy to make dessert with a fantastic tropical taste to it. Soeren's dessert was minus the alcohol. I added a few coconut flakes instead. The grown up version was delicious. The coconut lends the dessert cream a wonderful mild taste and the alcohol only lingers with a je ne sais quoi at the back of your tongue. The tart berries are a fantastic comparison to the sweetness of the cream and pairs well with the coconut flavor.

Have I gotten you in the mood for some tropical flavors? Well turn up the music and stir up your favorite tropical dessert.

Club Tropicana drinks are free

Fun and sunshine - there's enough for ev'ryone.


Daily Tiffin Latest:
If you are looking for a bit of tropical flavors in your lunch boxes then have a look at the Tropical Flavored Lunch Box I packed for Soeren.


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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, July 17, 2007

Posh: Sour Cream Cherry Cake

Cherry Cake (01)


I was pretty mad! Actually fuming would describe what I was feeling at that moment better. The pieces were in my hands and the culprit was in front of me - all I needed to do was speak out the punishment.

But you see it's not that easy. There are times you just need to swallow the anger and simply remain cool. Besides it has a more serious effect when you calmly and gently explain the consequences. The impact of the "crime" remains in the head a bit longer.

What happened?

On Saturday Tom was getting ready to leave for the university and Soeren went out with him to say goodbye. I was discussing a few things with Tom on the way out and Soeren was playing around behind my car.

As Tom kissed me to say goodbye Soeren quickly came up and asked,

"Are you taking mum's car to the uni?"
"Huh? No - I am taking my own"
"Oh that's good because mum's car is broken!"
"Err - OK!" Tom said thinking it was a joke and got into the car
However, the look on Soeren's face revealed to me that it might not be a little trick he was playing.

"Soeren? Where is mum's car broken?" I asked
"Back there - the wiper is broken!"

I went to the back of my car kind of smiling, thinking it to be a trick. The wiper looked fine and I was just about to turn around and say "you cheeky little thing!" when the wiper fell into my hands.

Tom came out of the car and I looked at him with my shoulders slumped down. At this point I saw Soeren take two or three steps back to the side of the car, hands crossed in front and a look on his face as if getting ready to protect himself from my fury.

Tom inspected the pieces.

"Soeren where are all the plastic pieces for the wiper?"

No answer.

"Soeren?"
"They are there - on the floor!"

We looked around but found none. Tom went on his knees and looked underneath my car.
"Soeren, what are the pieces doing back there?"
No answer
"Did you throw them back there?"
A timid nod from Soeren.
"Why?"
"I did not want mum to see them!"

At this point I had to turn around because my smile was kind of turning into a grin and I just could not let my almost 5 year old see that.

"Come here!" Tom said
Soeren came a few steps closer. His big brown eyes looking extremely worried. I took a few steps towards him looking a bit more serious and hoping that the look on my face was that of being mad and disappointed. My feelings, juxtaposing between being angry and still remaining calm and collected, were like a roller coaster ride.

"Soeren, it's bad enough that you broke the wiper, but then trying to cover it up and act as if nothing happened is worse!"

I could not be mad at him. It was clear by the look in his eyes and the paleness on his face that he already knew what he had done was not right. I gave him a short lecture about right and wrong and told him I was disappointed - mainly because he tried to lie. That was it.

That evening after dinner, he came to me on the sofa.

"Here!" he said
He handed me his piggy bank. "I'm sorry and I am willing to pay for it!" I smiled at him and told to him he should save up for his Porsche he wants to buy when he is older. He then ran off and came back with a bowl of lovely fresh cherries.

"You'll be the only girl who will be allowed to drive it!"

My son the suave 5 year old - how he captures the heart of this 35 year old! With a bowl of cherries he knows he can make up for almost anything.



Cherries

Cherries by Meeta Albrecht


Meet the stylish and hottest superfruit currently found in stores almost everywhere around the world. Cherries are a very tasty and nutritious fruit. It has been revealed that cherries, enjoyed dried and frozen and as cherry juice, have among the highest levels of disease-fighting antioxidants compared to other fruits. They also contain other important nutrients such as beta carotene. As a matter of fact cherries have 19 times more as blueberries or strawberries! Cherries also contain large amounts of vitamins C and E, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate.

A new study conducted at the University of Michigan Integrative Medicine Program found that a cherry-enriched diet helped reduce risk factors for heart disease and metabolic syndrome, also known as insulin resistance syndrome or pre-diabetes. Specifically, the study found that a cherry-fed diet helped reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood sugar and insulin levels, and raise the antioxidant capacity of the blood. Furthermore, studies have also revealed the cherries have the ability to offer natural relief from joint pain caused from gout, arthritis and joint inflammation. Many are choosing to drink cherry juice, eat cherries or consume tart cherry dietary supplements to enjoy the natural benefits of this tiny red fruit.

There is no clear guideline on how many cherries it takes to reap the benefits, experts however, suggest that 1-2 servings of cherries daily can help provide some of the health benefits identified in the research.

Interesting Fact:
1/4 cup of dried tart cherries counts as one of the five servings of fruits and vegetables per day the National Cancer Institute recommends to help maintain your health.

Cherries can be divided into two groups - sour and sweet. Each can be prepared in a variety of delicious ways, not only as a dessert or snack, but as an ingredient in a main dish or main dish accompaniment.

Selecting and Storing

When selecting, go for cherries that are firm, plump, bright and glossy, with a full red or purple color and sweet taste. Degree of darkness depends on the variety. Sour cherries are smaller than sweet cherries and should be firm, bright and uniformly red. Avoid purchasing over-mature cherries that are soft, dull, seeping or shriveled.

Cherries are highly perishable and should be refrigerated as soon as possible. Sort them carefully and place them loosely in a shallow container so that air can circulate. The weight of the cherries on top should not crush those on the bottom. Wash cherries just before using them. For best quality, fresh cherries should be stored only 1 or 2 days.

Besides popping the lovely juicy fruit into our mouths and enjoying them fresh from the Farmers Market, I like to make quick cakes with these gorgeous fruits. They give such a posh note to any simple cake making it perfect for tea parties.



Reminder!

The latest Monthly Mingle is one close to my own heart. Earth Food is all about helping to raise awareness for the steps and actions we can take to save our beautiful blue planet. Hope you will find it in your hearts to party with me.
Deadline is August 6th!





Cherry Cake (02)


Ingredients

1.5 kg fresh cherries - pitted
250 g + more soft butter
250 g + 4 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean - insides scraped
6 eggs
300 g + more flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4-6 tablespoons milk
125 g sour cream
75 g hazelnut slices



Cherry Cake (03)


Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Grease a baking tray (35 x 40) with some butter and dust in well with flour.

In a mixing bowl whisk 250g butter, 250g sugar, salt and vanilla with an electric hand blender until the batter is smooth and creamy. Add the 4 eggs one by one, beating with each addition for approx. 1 minute.

Mix the baking powder and flour together. Add the dry ingredients and the milk alternatively to the egg/sugar batter, folding and stirring the batter after each addition.

Pour the batter onto the baking tray and smooth the surface. Spread the cherries evenly over the batter.

In a smaller mixing bowl quickly beat the sour cream, 4 tablespoons sugar and 2 eggs together. Pour this mixture over the cherries. Sprinkle with the hazelnut slices. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Take out and allow to cool.

Cut the cake in half then in 8 to 10 triangle cake pieces.

More great tips with cherries:
  • Choose sweet cherries as a garnish for meat dishes.
  • Cherries can be made into a syrup for topping pancakes, waffles or French toast.
  • Use a blender to make cherry drinks such as smoothies or coolers. Either by themselves or blended with other juices, cherries make a delicious drink. Our favorite is banana and cherry smoothie
  • Make cherry ice cream.
  • Dip one-half of each cherry with stem into melted chocolate and chill for a special cherry candy, garnish or dessert.
  • Choose tart cherries for baking your favorite cobbler, pie or crisp.
  • Make cherry wine.
  • Enjoy a cherry sauce as a glaze over ham.
  • Juicy ripe cherries in salads



Cherry Cake (04)


Verdict

Light, fluffy and moist. The texture of this cake is just perfect. Dotted with the red cherries it is a delight not only to the eye but to the palate. I served this for a summer tea party and found it to be just right for a sultry summer afternoon. Not too heavy nor too sweet. My friends were delighted with the taste of summer in a wonderful cake.


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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

Do you love cherries?

Cherries by Meeta Albrecht


If you are like me you just cannot get enough of these juicy, ripe and sweet fruit at the moment. They are in season and ready for the picking. Cherries in abundance - even in my cooking.

If you love cherries then you will not want to miss out on the treat I made - come back a little later!

;-)




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

Monday, July 16, 2007

Along the Prerowstrom in Prerow

Prerow Seagul by Meeta Albrecht


On one of our days in Prerow we decided to rent a small sail boat and spend a lazy day gliding down the Prerowstrom. The Strom is the river the flows almost parallel to the Baltic Sea and leads into the bay called the Bodden. It was a fantastic sunny day and I was able to take a few nice photos.


The Prerow harbor is a small charming little place. Day tours can be booked on many of the sailboats available there. The little Bistro there also serves fresh smoked fish, which we packed and took with us on our sailboat to enjoy on our trip.

Prerow Harbor by Meeta Albrecht


Before we could set sail we had to ask our two guests to move from their very scenic spot.

Prerow Two Birds by Meeta Albrecht


It's funny how certain types of scenery looks completely different when viewed from "the other side". Seeing things from the water gave each shot a different angle. The landscape and scenery was truly amazing. Although it is mostly flat, the extensive plains changing from green meadows and blue ponds added a spectacular dynamic to the landscape.

Prerow Landscape Cows by Meeta Albrecht


Prerow Landscape Sheep by Meeta Albrecht


We were told that the cows, sheep and other farm animals were raised on these meadows 100% organically. The lambs and calves are naturally born on the fields, they eat what nature and the fields provide them and live 100% happy life. It was beautiful to see these animals roaming free without any cares in the world.

One of the highlights on this trip was picnicking in a gorgeous field of colorful summer flowers. No city life noises just the chirping of birds and the humming of bees. Not a person in sight just me and the boys kicking back and allowing our souls to soak up the beauty.

Prerow Summer Flowers by Meeta Albrecht


Hope you can close your eyes for a few minutes, imagine the scenery around you and relax in the serenity of this post.

Thank you for taking the time!


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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

Saturday, July 14, 2007

For Cool Mums: Pasta with Shrimps and Asparagus

Shrimp and Asparagus Pasta (01) by Meeta Albrecht


Before they go out of season and disappear for the rest of the year I thought I really should share a most delicious pasta dish with asparagus.

Having a 5-year old in the house cooking pasta at least once a week is somewhat of a must in our household. I am sure many mummies (or daddies) reading this will be nodding their heads in agreement. It's all fine as both Tom and I enjoy pasta a lot, however, it's not always easy finding new and creative ideas - other than the old trusted tomato sauce - for a good tasting condiment to go with the pasta.

Luckily, summer offers a bountiful of colorful vegetables and the Farmers Markets are busting to the rims with a huge variety. As Soeren loves his vegetables and is hardly picky, I am quite lucky to be able to choose from this large assortment. As a matter of fact I often try to visit the Farmers Market with Soeren so he can see the colorful fruits and vegetables offered. Being as inquisitive as any five year old he is always keen to know what a vegetable he has yet to encounter is and what it tastes like.

With these questions, he has won the hearts of many farmers (and their wives) selling their fresh produce and the market and we often get small amounts of "freebies" to test. I really like that. We come home and look for a recipe with that particular vegetable or fruit and then we prepare it together. This has made Soeren so open to so many vegetables normal kids his age would not touch. Spinach he adores, parsnips he munches raw or with a dip and kohlrabi is one of his favorites.

Asparagus by Meeta Albrecht


This year he found a particular penchant to green asparagus and believe me I was thankful for that. We have enjoyed several dishes this summer with the wonderful vegetable, particularly just roasting them gently on a barbecue after they have marinated in a light vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

But a mum has to be creative and "cool"! So, when I combined pasta with asparagus and shrimps (another one of his absolute "fave food" this summer) I was the coolest mum ever. I also got a kiss from Tom for making such an elegant and flavorful dish that suited his palate perfectly too. With all that attention and affection I was glowing!

Interesting reads:
Healthy Eating: The Obvious First Step



Reminder!

The latest Monthly Mingle is one close to my own heart. Earth Food is all about helping to raise awareness for the steps and actions we can take to save our beautiful blue planet. Hope you will find it in your hearts to party with me.
Deadline is August 6th!






Shrimp and Asparagus Pasta (02) by Meeta Albrecht


Ingredients

500g green asparagus - ends trimmed and cut into 2 cm pieces
1 organic lemon - zested and juice retained
300g fresh shrimps
2 garlic cloves - finely chopped
125ml cream - lightly whipped to give a slightly thicker consistency
400g pasta of your choice - Farfalle or Spirelli work well
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
125g peas - fresh are the best, but frozen can also be used
150ml vegetable stock - if you are not cooking for children, substitute with white wine
2 tablespoons chives - chopped




Shrimp and Asparagus Pasta (03) by Meeta Albrecht


Method

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.

In the meantime heat a good dash of olive oil in a pan. Add the asparagus pieces and gently sauté on a medium heat. Add the garlic and peas and cook for another minute.

Add the shrimps and heat through until they turn a wonderful pinky color. Salt and pepper to taste and then pour in the stock (or wine) and allow to simmer. Simmer until the entire mixture reduces to about half, then add the lightly whipped cream, lemon zest and juice. Check for taste and if required salt and pepper the sauce some more.

Drain the pasta well. Mix into the sauce and sprinkle with the chives.

Serve immediately on warm plates.



Verdict

Sensational! It's an exceptional harmony of flavors that come together in this pasta dish. The best thing is it's ready in 25-30 minutes so you have plenty of time to prepare a nice salad to accompany it if you like. Both my boys really licked of the rests off of the plate. It's nice being the "coolest" mum in town! LOL!


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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