Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Easiest Tomato Soup!

Comfort food is a weakness of mine. I love not having to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, in the evening or when I come home from work.
Sometimes I have already cooked from the previous day or I choose a recipe that is quick and easy.

Like this tomato soup, for example. Easy, fast, delicious and versatile!

My inspiration for this soup was something G. likes to eat a lot. He buys ready-made tomato soup mixes with croutons, because some nights he wants something quick and easy to eat. I didn't like what I read on the package, though and I wanted a healthier option. I also wanted to omit the sugar...
I make a large batch and keep it the fridge for about 5 days. We take out as much as we want and simply heat it up.

Tomato Soup

olive oil
1 tbsp butter
5 tomatoes, ripe
1 large onion
spices of choice
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 can concentrated tomato juice
pinch of salt
3-4 tbsp heavy cream
grated cheese

* Heat the oil with the butter in a large pot.
* Chop the onion and brown it a little.
* Add the spices.
(I use hot paprika, onion powder, dried garlic, dried oregano, black pepper, dried thyme)
* Give it a stir, so that the spices become fragrant.
* Add the tomatoes chopped, the diced tomatoes and the juice.
* Add the salt and 2 cups hot water and bring to a boil.
* Reduce the temperature and let it cook for 30min.
* When it is done, remove it from the fire and using a hand blender, blend it in the pot until it is smooth and creamy.
* Bring it to a boil and remove.
* Ready!

To serve, pour some some in a bowl and add the heavy cream and the grated cheese.







This recipe is a base. I have made it plenty of times either as it is, or by adding vegetables that happened to be in my fridge. Peppers are lovely in this soup!

If you want, you can accompany it with some bread slices, that you have previously brushed with olive oil and baked in the oven for a few minutes or some croutons!



Louise.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Breakfast Shakes!

On weekdays in the morning I am running around like crazy, trying to get myself and Ioanna ready for our day.
Most of the times I do not have time for a warm sit-down breakfast. This is a luxury I enjoy on the weekend!

What I have found easy and convenient as an on-the-go breakfast are the shakes!

I use almond milk, ice cubes, avocado, whey protein powder, chia and flax seeds as my base and work from there. Some of the choices I add are berries, apples, pears, nuts and cocoa powder!

Add to your blender and blitz!

My favourite, though, is this:


It is a chocolate shake with almonds, cinnamon, avocado and 1/2 apple. Yum!


Delicious, healthy, packed with nutrients!

You cannot go wrong with this!

Louise!

Friday, 22 May 2015

Cheese tart!

Cheese and dough is a combination I just cannot resist... Cheese tarts, cheese pies, cheese pockets, cheese pizza... I can go on and on!

This time I made a simple cheese tart. Easy, tasty and rather quick!

Cheese Tart
tart crust adapted from here

200gr AP flour
100gr whole wheat flour
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
225gr butter
2 to 4 tbsp cold water

filling:
2 eggs
200gr feta cheese crumbled
yellow cheese grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 small green onions chopped

* Combine the flours, oregano and onion powder.
*Add the butter and mix with your fingers until it resembles a coarse meal.
* Add 2-3 tbsp of cold water and mix to form a dough. If it looks dry add a little more water.

Note: I have done this process many times in my mixer with the paddle attachment and the dough is fine. Just don't overbeat.

* Place the dough on parchment paper and roll to a circle or a rectangle, depending on the tart dish you will use.
* Lay the dough on the buttered and floured tart dish and press the bottom and the sides.
* Put it in the fridge for 20-25 min.
* In the mean time, make the filling. Just combine everything and mix with an egg beater.
* Preheat the oven to 200oC, take the tart out of the fridge and prick it with a fork all over the bottom. Add pie weights and bake for 8-10 min.

Note: For pie weights I use old rice and old beans. I cover the bottom with cling film, add the weights and bake. When the beans are cold, I put them back in a bag for reuse.

* Remove from the oven, reduce temp to 180oC, add the filling and bake for about 25 - 30 min, until the filling is done.
* Allow it to cool before you cut a piece.

Note: I never wait... I eat it while it's hot. Right then and there. I just cannot wait to dig in..  And then the next day I tell myself, that I should have waited because it is so tasty cold (room temp)....





What I love about this tart is that you can make it any time you want only with what is in your fridge... Different cheeses, left over meat and chicken, peppers, zucchini, olives... Really it is so versatile!

And if you don't like whole wheat flour, just put in all AP!



Louise!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Strawberry cake!

Strawberries! So good for you! And they are in season, too!

Strawberry cake is a classic, that I actually had never made before.
I baked two variations. One with fresh strawberry puree and one with strawberry flavoured jello, just to see the difference.

I will not even show you the fake strawberry one. Awful! I (we all) hated the taste.

The one with the fresh strawberries, though.... Ah, that is another thing.... Perfect!

I used my vanilla cake recipe, in which I simply added about 250gr of strawberries, in a form of coarse puree, not very smooth that it, because I wanted these little bits of strawberry to appear!





The glaze is very simple. Just confectioner's sugar, 1 tbsp of milk and 2 tbsp of strawberry puree, all mixed in a rather runny consistency.

Beautiful!

Louise

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Mug Cake in the microwaves!

There are times when you want to eat some cake, but you are not in the mood to make a large one and use the oven and your mixer and make a mess in the kitchen.
Well, for those times, you have your microwave oven!

This is the base, but I adapt it each time to my mood.

Microwave mug cake for one

1 egg
3 tbsp white sugar
40gr all purpose flour
15gr butter melted
1 tsp vanilla

* Mix everything together with a hand mixer.
* Pour into a buttered mug.
* Bake in the microwave oven for 1 1/2 min in medium, then check the centre.
* If it is still runny, bake for 1/2 min more and check again. It has to be tender but not runny.

This is a chocolate cake, for which I added to the above recipe:
15gr cocoa powder
20gr chocolate chips
I poked it in the middle and added caramel sauce, while hot!

This is a lemon cake, for which I added:
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
no vanilla
(I know it sounds a bit too lemony, but I want my lemon cakes to taste lemony!) .

Louise

Monday, 27 April 2015

Daring Bakers - April 2015!

It is the 27th today and I am supposed to post my take on this month's challenge. I am not really looking forward to this, though...

But first thing's first.

This month our challenge was to make Focaccia and our hosts were Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise.

 I wanted to make a gluten free sweet focaccia, so I chose the basic recipe and left out the spices.

Sweet Focaccia

385 gm all-purpose gluten free flour
6 gm salt
15 gm white sugar
15 gm confectioner's sugar
8½ gm active dry yeast
1/2 tsp salt
15 ml vegetable oil
300 ml milk
chocolate sprinkles

white sugar
chocolate chips
butterscotch chips
cinnamon

* Warm the milk and mix it with the yeast and sugar and wait until it becomes foamy and bubbly.
* Stir together the flour, salt and confectioner's sugar
* Mix in the vegetable oil, then add the milk-yeast mixture.
* Stir until the dough comes together and then knead until smooth and elastic.
* Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in and turn to coat it with oil.
* Cover it with a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm place until it is doubled
* Preheat oven to 230°C.
* Deflate the dough down and place it on greased baking sheet. Pat into a thick circle.
* To give the dough the dimples effect, use your fingertips, pushing gently all over the surface of the dough.
* Lightly oil it with a brush and sprinkle your toppings.
* Let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
* Bake for about 15 min.

This process, as I have described it above is the theory.
The outcome? Well, I don't know what went wrong, because my dough didn't rise at all, even though the yeast was OK. I had purchased it that same day and it did foam.
I always, always help my yeasted doughs rise, using my neck warmer(!!) with a lot of success. Not this time...

So, I simply made a round shape with my hands, placed the toppings and baked.
It didn't rise at all, even during baking.

When I cut it, it was bread-y, not very sweet (as I suspect a sweet bread should be), but since there was no rise, this focaccia was dry.
Naturally we didn't like it and I ended up eating the chips from on top the focaccia.

Anyway, these are my pictures...















To tell you the truth, I didn't try to make it again. I was a bit disappointed and didn't want to waste any more ingredients...

I guess better luck next time?


Louise

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Daring Bakers - March 2015!

After quite some time, I managed to take part in this month's challenge.

Our host was Korena from Korena in the Kitchen.

The chosen recipe for March was "Tart Tatin".

I must admit that it was something I wanted to make for a long time, but somehow never did make one. We had to make our own pastry, as well! Great challenge, indeed!

I decided to make a sweet tart tatin, using fresh strawberries. The pastry is lovely and buttery AND gluten free!

Strawberry Tart Tatin - gluten free

for the pastry:

125 gr all-purpose gluten free flour
140 gm unsalted butter, cold
¼ tsp fine salt
vanillin
40 ml ice cold water
20ml milk, cold

for the filling:
adapted from here

fresh strawberries (enough to fill the bottom of the pan)
60 gr butter
100 gr white granulated sugar
2 tbsp water
vanilla bean (the seeds)
vanilla essence
chocolate sprinkles
 

* Preheat the oven to 190oC.
* Combine the flour, vanillin and salt.
* Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour.
* Knead with your hands until the mixture is (wear plastic gloves!).
* Pour in the cold liquids.
* Knead together with a fork until the dough starts to clump together.
* Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead just enough to bring it together into a square.
    Do not overwork the dough.
* Flour the rolling pin and roll the dough out into a rectangle.
* Fold the bottom third of the dough up into the middle, and fold the top third down, like you are folding a
   letter. This is one fold.
* Turn the dough, so that one of the open edges is facing you, and roll out again into a rectangle.
* Do this for  5 folds total.
* Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge. I myself left it only 30min. (I am not very patient!!!), but
   if you want 1 hour to overnight is better.



I chose to use a square glass baking dish.
* Butter the bottom of the baking dish and arrange the strawberries, cut in half. Let it aside.


* Place the butter, sugar and water in a frying pan over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
* Bring to a boil and cook for 5 min.
* Pour the caramel over the strawberries.


 the liquid you see is my homemade vanilla essence, using vodka as base.





(I did crumble some brown sugar on top, just for the smell and the colour!!!)
* Take the dough out of the fridge.
* Roll it out on a lightly floured surface to the size and shape of the pan.

* Lay it over the filling and cut it here and there to release the steam.
* Bake for 35-40 min, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown.

 the dough is soooo smooth and silky....



* Take it out of the oven, wait 5 min. and invert it on a serving platter, larger than the baking dish.
    BE CAREFUL it is HOT!!!
* Add as many chocolate sprinkles as you wish and enjoy!






A truly amazing dessert! We all loved it and of course I am going to make it again... It is so easy!
Also, if you don't have the time or the mood, buy a ready made puff pastry and you can make it just as good!

I do intend to make a savoury one, as well. I am intrigued by this idea and will probably make it, using onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes....



Great great challenge!

Thank you Korina!


Louise.

NOTE: I am using gluten free flour, not because I cannot tolerate gluten, but because I think it is healthier. Therefore, I do not pay attention to whether there are gluten traces in my other ingredients, i.e. the chocolate sprinkles are not gluten free. So, if you do have a problem with gluten, just use all gluten free certified ingredients!