Monday, July 28, 2014

Personal ricotta lemon cake

Currently, I am into baking smaller cakes. Like a third of a recipe sized cakes. However, as lesson learnt shows, you can’t just divide the ingredients into 3 and then go with a third. The proportions no longer fit, especially if you don’t weigh ingredients but go by cup measurements. I did this with the ricotta lemon cake, making it in a size just right for 2-3 people. The first round, I just third-ed the ingredients; the cake came out very tasty but very dense, more like a cheese cake. The second version, investigating proper portion proportions for fluffy cakes, I got it right. 

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It starts with a half stick of butter, and a half cup of sugar, butter airated with an electric mixer.

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Then, add 1 egg, 4oz of ricotta, vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon zest.

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Finally, sieved in a cup of flour, mixed with 1 ts of baking powder, 1/4 ts of baking soda and a pinch of salt (all mixed before adding).

Pour into a greased small bundt cake or 8 inch spring form.

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Baked in a preheated oven at 350F for 35 min.

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So, this was the first version with the proportions of a half cup of flour and ca 8oz of ricotta.

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I placed frozen berries on the bottom of the pan for a summer note.

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A delicious, moist cheesecake treat.

Second try:

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More like it.

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1 slice = 1/8th of cake = 170kcal.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tortilla Soup

It’s summer. Summer and Mexican food go well together, spicy, lime-y, tomatoes, pickled jalapenos, cilantro, ceviche, taco, chips… Even soups are appealing. This is a simple Mexican tortilla summer soup.

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Tortilla Soup

  • 1 ts olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 fresh jalapeno, finely diced
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 small can fire roasted diced tomatoes, purreed
  • 1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cp fresh or frozen corn
  • 1 summer squash, thinly sliced
  • 1 TB ground cumin
  • 1 ts smoked paprika
  • 1 ts oregano
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 chicken breast, boneless and skinless (can be frozen) (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Once the onions have softened add the garlic and jalapenos and cook for another minute. Pour the tomatoes, chicken broth, beans, corn and chicken breast into the pot and bring to a boil. Once at a boil lower heat to simmer. Cook the chicken for 20 to 25 minutes. Once chicken is cooked remove from pot. When cool enough to handle shred it and put back in the pot. Add the fresh cilantro to the pot.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

German Summer Strawberry Cake

The other day I found a brandnew cake pan at a flea market that is perfect for making the bottom cake layer of a typically German fruit cake. A fruit cake is none-specific because it is made in the same manner, but the fruit varies based on season or in the winter with canned (peaches!) or frozen fruit. A fruit cake is similar to a French fruit tart – both are made with fresh fruit. However,  the ‘crust’ of the German bottom layer is more like a sponge cake and it is also inverted: the pan is filled completely with dough, baked and then turned upside down. Therefore, the cake pan needs to be the right one (like this, for example).

I baked the bottom layer, the farmers market had the last strawberries of the season, the German team won the world cup in soccer, so the fate of the cake was sealed: German strawberry cake!

Check this great video for more complete instructions (the cake layer is made as a more authentic sponge).

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Fresh Strawberry Cake

Base Layer:

  • 100 g sugar
  • 4 TB butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 0.5 ts vanilla extract
  • 150 g flour
  • 1 ts baking powder
  • 0.3 cup milk


Strawberry Cake

  • 1 quart fresh strawberries, dehulled, cut in half if they are large, otherwise keep whole
  • 3-4 TB strawberry jam
  • 1 cup vanilla pudding (store-bought or from scratch or with help of pudding mix)
  • 500 ml milk (for pudding)
  • 1 TB butter (for pudding)
  • 1 package Dr Oetker fruit tart red or clear glaze (a yello-like glaze that gets firm when it cools and keeps the fruit in place)+2 TB sugar + 250ml water  (optional)

Base layer: You need a pan similar to this one for baking the base layer. Make sure to butter it well because you don’t want the cake to stick.

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Preheat oven to 360F. In a standmixer (or with handmixer), mix the sugar and butter until slightly foamy. Add the egg, and mix until well incorporated. Add the vanilla extra, and mix in. Mix the flour with the baking powder, and slowly add to the mixture, alternate with tablespoons of the milk.

Pour into butter pan, and bake for 20-25min.

Cool slightly, invert, and cool completely (it is best to make the crust a day ahead).

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Preparing the strawberry cake:

Wash and hull the strawberries. Cut larger strawberries in half, keep smaller ones in tact. They should all be about the same size.

Poke the crust with a fork, and then distribute the strawberry jam on the crust. Ideally, it soaks the crust a little bit. If you use frozen fruit, preserve the juice when thawing and mix with the jam before distributing.

Prepare the vanilla pudding according to instructions. Let cool for 1-2 min, and distribute a thin layer on the cake layer. Let cool. (you won’t need all the pudding cooked).

Now, arrange the strawberries on the cake, in a circle from outward to inner circles. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar.

Optional (but authentic): Cook the glaze according to instructions and pour hot over the fruit. Start from the center of the cake and slowly distributed to the rim.

Let cool and set. ---- Serve with whipped cream!

Einen guten Appetit!

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Striped Beet Salad with Apricots, Pistachio and Basil Vinaigrette

The striped beet salad I had the other day was so great I had to recreate the recipes. --- I found striped beets at Chase’s Daily in Belfast and the rest is readily available.

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Striped Beet Salad with Apricots, Pistachio and Basil Vinaigrette

  • 2 medium sized striped beets (they look lighter than regular beets, more pink), washed and scrubbed
  • 1 cup of dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup of chopped pistachios
  • salt to taste
  • basil vinaigrette

Basil Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup pink chive vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 3 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 TB dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic cloves, microplanned
  • 1 teaspoon runny honey
  • about 6 basil leaves, rolled up like cigar and thinly sliced
  • cup of dried apricots

Make the vinaigrette first: mix all ingredients and shake in a container with a lid.

Slice all the apricots into thin slices and then the slices into small cubes.

Salad: use a mandoline and slice the beets into really thin slices (as thin as you can). Lay a layer of beets on the bottom of a serving plate. Add a fourth of the apricots, a tablespoon of the pistachios and some of the basil vinaigrette. Also, add a sprinkle of salt.

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Repeat 3—4 times until all the beet slices are stacked, and pour the remaining vinaigrette over the top layer of apricots and pistachios. Cover with aluminum foil, chill and let marinate over night.

Serve as side or salad.

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Honeymoon cake

The weather is back to being summer, and the mall was very empty today --- likely everyone was at camp, a lake or the beach or hiking. I was wary facing the tourist crowds combined with the crowds of locals finally being able to head out for July 4th weekend and took it easy. Home, sweet home.

I finished a cake, a lemon ricotta bundt cake, which I had made a few weeks ago, and loved so much it needed a repeat, just with 2/3 of the ingredients, perfect for a smaller bundt cake pan. I even made a tiny bundt cake, for me, because the larger one was destined as a welcome back/honeymoon cake for friends.

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Honeymoon Cake (Lemon Ricotta Bundt cake)

Small 6-cup bundt cake mold

  • 1  Stick Unsalted Butter At Room Temperature
  • 10 oz Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • dash of lemon extract
  • dash of vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 Large Lemon (Save Rest For Glaze)
  • 1  cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1.5 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt


For The Lemon Glaze:

  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 TB fresh squeezed lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour the bundt or ring pan.
  2. In a large mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the ricotta cheese and blend well. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each. Add the extracts and lemon zest and mix until fully combined.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in several smaller parts, mixing just until incorporated.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spoon as needed.
  6. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until the cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Let cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
    Cool completely.
  8. Whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth and thick.
  9. Drizzle the lemon glaze over the top of the cake.
  10. Let the glaze set for 30 minutes and then cut into wedges and serve.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Preparing for a long weekend

With a holiday on Friday in my mind, the entire week feels like one long preparation for the long weekend. The temperatures are in the 90s, World cup games have to be watched at AC-chilled restaurants with big screen tvs, and biking to work makes you arrive as one sweaty mess. Meetings are held in the few AC-ed rooms of the building (it is Maine, and most older buildings do not have AC). But only the die-hard Mainers, who prefer snow, complain. “I like snow…..” they sorrowfully moan, wiping the sweat of their forehead.

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But I dream of the south of France in summer, crickets, searing heat, beautiful patios, but I don’t have to dream much because with a little fantasy it already feels like the south of France and the deck is cozy.

The next few days will brings thundershowers, and cools us down a bit.  After 1 1/2 weeks on the brazilian butt lift program I did the abs section a second time last night. While during the first time I was completely out of shape, dropped my legs in pain and ended up with back spasms the following days, this time I held my planks like it’s no one’s business. It all felt easy and pain-free. Glad to be in better shape again. I must really give a shout-out to the BBL package --- a lot of fun, variety, and it works. The $75 price tag for the 3 DVDs is worth it. I think I will be using it for a long time (and at some point conquer the sequences of the combinations, sigh). --- Combining this with outdoor runs that start close to my house, all the way downhill until a shaded path along the lake, and then  the uphill walk back to cool down.

summer weeks, please last forever!

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