Easter Cake

I have never seen Easter cakes being sold in bakeries in Canada. Then again, I haven’t really seen too many bakeries in general. Back in my home country Switzerland, Easter cakes are hugely popular and even our regular grocery store chain sells them. They are so incredibly tasty that it was something I was looking forward to every year, knowing that a few weeks before Easter, they’d pop up everywhere again. While I love eating them, I am not a huge fan of making them because it’s quite time and labour intensive. I realize I just made this sound so attractive. But don’t stop reading! The fact that I am willing to go through the trouble of making it should give you a good idea of how tasty it is. Promised.

photo(2)For the cake mix:

Ingredients:

4dl (1 ½ cups) milk

1 pinch (prise) salt

4 tbsp rice (short grain,)

½ lemon

50g (¼ cup) butter

3 tbsp sugar or agave syrup

3 tbsp raisins

3 tbsp ground almonds

3 eggs

Directions:

Heat milk, add salt and rice. Cook on low heat for about 45 minutes or until rice is done. Don’t walk to far away – milk can be temperamental and the result is messy. I may or may not speak from experience. You can start the dough though (see below). Then add lemon zest and juice. Add butter, sweetener, raisins and ground almonds and mix well. Let cool off.

Separate eggs. Add egg yolks (Eigelb) to the mix. Beat egg whites and add carefully. Do this shortly before you put it in the oven so have the dough ready.

For the dough:

Ingredients:

200g (a good 1.5 cups) flour

½ tsp. salt

100g (½ cup) cold butter

3 tbsp sugar or agave syrup

½ lemon, zest

1 egg

Directions:

Mix flour and salt. Add butter in small pieces. Rub between your hands until your dough looks a bit like grated parmesan. If you’ve never made this kind of dough before, you might think “what on earth is she talking about” but trust me – you’ll see! Add sweetener and lemon zest. Beat egg with a fork and mix the entire dough quickly. Cover with a cloth and let it sit for 30 min in the cold. After 30 min, put dough into a round form and squish it with your knuckles until it is more or less evenly about 3 mm thick. I am not joking – the texture of the dough doesn’t allow for any other method.

Preheat oven. Pour cake mix over the dough and bake for 30-35.  Let cool before you eat it. Decorate if you like or feel the need to impress someone (not the worst reason to bake). All I did was cut a bunny shape out of some paper and sieved icing sugar over it. And yes, recycle or reuse the bunny shape!

Enjoy!

 

Triple Green Pasta

Twice this week, I realized half way through the day that all I had that day was sugar and caffeine. Not good. Why is it that we glorify being busy again? So when I came up for air, I decided what my body needed was good carbs (as in whole grains) and vegetables, preferably green. I remembered a recipe from a book and tried to recreate it: Whole wheat pasta with three kinds of greens. Delicious and perfect for fueling.  Side note: if you love pasta and eat is as often as I do, go whole wheat. I remember my mum making it and I HATED it but in the meantime, I love it so much that eating white pasta grosses me out. True story!

For 2 people:

photo(1)Ingredients:

  • Whole wheat pasta (I make app. 100g/person or 0.5lbs)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 green onions, washed and roughly chopped
  • a good handful of snow peas, washed and cut in half if too big
  • a good handful of fresh organic spinach, washed
  • 1 cup/250ml Broth
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook pasta according to packages. Once water boils, scoop one cup of water out and dissolve broth powder, if you are using instant broth (which I was because I’m out of my home made broth).

In the meantime, wash and chop your vegetables. Heat oil and add green onions, then snow peas. Turn down heat, add broth and let it simmer until snow peas are soft. Turn heat off. Add pasta and spinach, mix well. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Butternut Squash Soup – a Winter favourite

I made the cardinal mistake earlier this week of mentioning how it really hasn’t been such a bad winter here, as in, I could ride my Vespa pretty much every day. Every since that statement, it hasn’t stopped pouring rain, just to prove a point. How foolish of me!

So once again, I’m making soup. And no, I’m not tired of them. Here a recipe for my butternut squash soup, one of my winter favourites, especially if I can convince my husband to peel and cube – that’s really the most work intensive part of this soup. It’s called teamwork!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Image Courtesy: Boaz Yiftach

Image Courtesy: Boaz Yiftach

  • 1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tsp oil or butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cups (1 l) vegetable broth (for recipe, click here)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon and 2 tbsp nutmeg
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • fresh cream, whipped cream or milk – optional

Directions:

Heat butter or oil, sauté onions and squash. Add broth, broth should cover the squash; let it simmer for 15 minutes or until soft (depends on size of cubes). Add cinnamon and nutmeg. Puree. The soups should be rather thick, but it’s entirely a matter of preference. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. If you like, add a dollop of whipped cream or a bit of fresh organic milk or cream. I personally think that is super tasty, but does add a few calories. Enjoy this warming and comforting bowl of goodness!

 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Vegetable Medley

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Making gnocchi from scratch is quite a bit of work. Consider yourself warned. So worth it though, especially these made with yams or sweet potatoes. If you don’t feel up for the challenge, you can buy regular gnocchi or use pasta for this recipe. I have made it with Spaetzle before too but that’s just as much work. But hey, I’m not suggesting you whip up this dinner from scratch after a 10h work day with a 3h commute as my day was today. What I did instead: I made a big batch of gnocchi in advance, threw them in the freezer in 2 people portions and just cooked them in boiling water for a few minutes when I need them. The rest of this meal takes 5 minutes and the result is a healthy, fast and delicious meal.

For the gnocchi recipe, click here (minus the sauce part – but that recipe is delicious too). If you buy gnocchi or pasta, cook according to package.

For the sauce:

Ingredients for two people

– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 1/2 onion, chopped
– 1 organic pepper, cubed
– 1 small organic zucchini
– 4 organic mushrooms
– 1 cup (250ml) broth
– a few tbsp sour cream, plain yogurt or some type of soft cheese

Directions:

Sauté onions. Add peppers. Add broth. Bring to boil, add zucchini and mushrooms. Turn off heat after a few minutes, add gnocchi and whatever dairy you choose. I had some leftover Boursin and threw that in. You can leave it out all together if you don’t eat dairy, I just like it a bit creamy.

Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Voilà!

Mashed Cauliflower

I have been wanting to try and create a recipe for mashed cauliflower ever since I had it at one of my favourite restaurants. Not just because I thought it could be a healthy alternative to mashed potatoes but also because it tasted amazing and poor cauliflower is such an underrated vegetable, I couldn’t wait to give it center stage. So here my version:

Ingredients:

– 1 whole head of organic cauliflower

– 1 tsp olive oil

-1 tbsp milk

– 3 cloves garlic

– a few chives, chopped small

-sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (350 Fahrenheit). (I made a piece of meat in the oven to go with the mashed cauliflower which was a good idea – heating up the oven just for the garlic could be a bit wasteful). Cut the top few mm of the garlic off, wrap it in tinfoil and bake it for 30-45 minutes (depending on your oven). You won’t need all cloves so either freeze the additional ones for another time or enjoy with a cracker as an appy.

Wash and cut cauliflower into smaller pieces, steam until soft.

Mix steamed cauliflower, oil, milk and 3 cloves of garlic and mash using a fork, blender or whatever you would use to make mashed potatoes.

Season with chives, salt and pepper. I had it as a side to a piece of meat but you can substitute it for mashed potatoes anywhere – at your holiday table, in Shepard’s pie, as filling for perogies or whatever else you can think of.