Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Quinoa Salad

What did you do this weekend?
I spent mine sitting in my aunt's garden, enjoying the sun and the fact that I finally managed to find the time to read the new Kane Chronicles book (is it just me or is there a crossover with the heroes of the olympus series in the works?) oh, and then there was the food. I pretty much spent the entire weekend baking and cooking and eating.
We made this salad (which is adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe) to go with some grilled amazingness off the barbecue and some almond meal rolls and it worked beautifully.
What should I tell you about this salad? It's relatively quick, it's summery, it's gluten-free. Oh, and it tastes fantastic.
Go on, you know you want to make some quinoa salad for dinner :)

Quinoa Salad
150g Quinoa
2 Fennel Bulbs
300g Broad Beans (fresh or frozen, the tinned kind is gross)
A handful Green Beans
70 ml Olive Oil
1 tbsp Sugar
3 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tbsp chopped Mint
2 tbsp chopped Cilantro
2 tbsp chopped Dill
2-3 Limes
Salt & Pepper

Slice the fennel into slices that are about as thick as a 2 Euro coin. Then sauté the slices with about 50 ml of the oil over a medium heat for 15 minutes.

While the fennel is sautéing away, boil some water, add some salt and cook the quinoa in it.
Give it about 10 minutes but check towards the end - you want the quinoa to be al dente rather than resembling school cafeteria pasta.

When the quinoa is done, drain it into a sieve and rinse it with cold water so it stops cooking and cools down.

Don't forget about the fennel.

Once the fennel is soft, add the sugar, vinegar and a generous pinch of salt. Stir things for a couple of minutes before you take the mix off the heat and set it aside in a bowl.

Bring two pots of water to a boil and add some salt to each.

Cook the cook the green beans for 4 or 5 minutes, drain them and either rinse them in cold water or (even better) submerge them in ice-water so they cool quickly and keep their beautiful colour.

Cook the broad beans for a minute or so, drain them and rinse in cold water. Broad beans have this leathery thick skin, you'll want to peel that skin off to reveal their true beauty.

Mix the quinoa, fennel, and beans. Then add the cumin and herbs and remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Squeeze the limes and add enough of the juice to the salad so you can feel the limey tang but not so much that you can barely taste anything else. If you like you can scoop the pulp and add it to the salad.

All right, I hope you have a fabulous rest of your week. I know I will. My friend Katharina from high school is coming to visit. Oh, the excitement! :)

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Coconut Cocoa Cupcakes

Hello again :) I must admit the only reason I'm getting my act together so quickly is because I ran into my friend Lea on the subway today and she complained about yesterday's recipe, can I just point out that it tastes rather amazing, but for those of you who don't want a drink that involves cocoa powder and PB2, how about cocoa and coconut in a cupcake?
Rather than giving you a recipe that involves a cake mix, I thought I could share this cupcake recipe with you.
Sometimes I start thinking of flavours and then I can't get them out of my mind.
A few weeks ago that happened with the combination of chocolate and coconut - back in high school we went on a trip to Budapest and I have this vivid memory of going out to this bar where a few of us shared this coconut chocolate milkshake. 
I think part of why it was so amazing was that what I had grown up knowing as a milkshake was banana milk. 
What really got me, though, was how well coconut and chocolate go together. It's one of those combinations that never seems to fail you. Sometimes it can be slightly overpowering. Which is why I made these cupcakes with cocoa powder rather than melted chocolate. If I'm perfectly honest with you, I do actually prefer this combination because it is lighter and if you can be bothered to make some icing for the cupcakes (how about some seven minute icing or some traditional red velvet cake icing?) the icing actually has a chance to add to the overall flavour.

One quick note of warning - if you can't find coconut extract, I'm not sure whether I would make these - imitation coconut stuff is vile. Perhaps you could add more vanilla extract or actually go down the chocolate-chip route. Or just go straight for red velvet cupcakes.
Also, I used coarse grained wheat flour because I like how it handles, for those of you in Germany, that is Spätzlemehl/Weizendunst. If you can't get hold of it the cupcakes will taste just as nice, I just happened  to have some sitting around, and decided that I wanted the cupcakes to have more of a grainy crumb (does that description make any sense to anyone other than me?)

Coconut Cocoa Cupcakes (makes 12)
100g Coarse Grained Wheat Flour
50g Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
30g Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
75g Butter
150g Sugar
2 Eggs
150ml Buttermilk
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 tbsp Natural Coconut Extract

Preheat your oven to 175˚C and line a muffin tin with some pretty paper liners. May I recommend Ernie and Bert ones because they go really well with these cupcakes :)
Combine the flours, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt in a bowl and set them aside.
Cream the butter and the sugar together until the mix goes all white and slightly fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until they are properly incorporated. Add the vanilla and coconut extracts.
Reduce the speed of your mixer (or if you're doing this by hand you'll probably be tired by now anyway) to low and start adding the buttermilk and dry mix. I find this is the easiest if you keep alternating a few spoonful of the dry mix with a  swig of the buttermilk.
Fill the paper cups with the batter and bake the cupcakes for 20-25 minutes depending on your oven.
If yours doesn't distribute the heat evenly you'll want to rotate the tin after 15 minutes or so.
When your cake tester (a.k.a. a dry spaghetti) comes out clean, take them out of the oven, let them cool in the tin for 10 minutes or so and then move them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

As I said, I think seven minute icing would be my first choice for these but they're lovely just plain as well (especially with a glass of milk).

I hope you have a fabulous rest of your week and an even better Pentecost/Memorial Day weekend!

Oh, and before you go, I was wondering - what is your favourite cupcake flavour?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Vegan Peanut & Cocoa 'Milk'

You were supposed to get a cupcake recipe today, but it's hot in Berlin...and I don't want to think about baking anything today so instead I thought I could write about this new obsession of mine.
Anything that involves ice or ice-cream :)
Today's recipe is mainly motivated by the fact that Alpro/Provamel finally started selling almond milk in Germany which means I have been using almond milk for everything lately and that I was craving chocolate and didn't have any in my depressingly understocked kitchen.
So, without further ado - let's make a super tasty drink that requires nothing but store cupboard staples (ok, that one is only true if you have an equally weird store cupboard as mine).

Vegan Peanut & Cocoa 'Milk'
(for 1 large glass)
2 tsp Cocoa Powder
4 tbsp Boiling Water (this is an approximation)
Almond Milk (enough to fill 2/3 of your glass)
2 tsp PB2 (or if you don't have any just use normal peanut butter or peanut flour)
1/4 small Avocado
1/2 small Banana
Agave Syrup
Lots and lots of Ice Cubes

In a blender mix the cocoa powder with the boiling water so it turns into a thin paste. Add the almond milk, then add the PB2, avocado, and banana. Blend until you have a more or less smooth mix. If you feel like it's not sweet enough, add some agave syrup or if you'd rather use some stevia, that works as well.
Fill your glass with as many ice cubes as you want (yes, those are pacman ice cubes in my glass...), then add the mix from the blender and if there's still some space at the top you could add some more almond milk...
Now, hopefully you'll have the same random collection of things in your store cupboard :)
I hope you have a fantastic evening!

Sunday, 20 May 2012


Has it nearly been a month?
What have you been up to?
Because I have been quite busy. I defended my doctoral thesis, passed (you have no idea how good that part felt), went on a road trip from Atlanta, GA to Naples, FL which turned into thesis-revision-frenzy in the mornings, then I went on a conference, saw some amazing old friends, met some very lovely new people, drove back to Atlanta and got back home this morning.
I would love to give you a recipe but I am still debating whether I should admit to making cupcakes from a cake mix earlier today or not (in my defence - I need birthday cupcakes for tomorrow and supermarkets are closed on Sundays around here so I bought a mix in Atlanta).
So today's post is actually more motivated by my own curiosity.
As we were heading out for brunch yesterday Kelsey, Louise and I were discussing plane-food and what we do on long-haul flights.
You see, I don't like the food on planes so I bring my own (I tried to not eat anything on the entire trip between New York and St Andrews once but that turned out to be a really bad idea).
I wish I could say I am as organised as Heidi from 101 Cookbooks who wrote a couple of amazing posts on what food she packs for flights - here and here and I keep telling myself that one day I will make something amazing to take on the plane. But that day hasn't come yet.
So instead I go down the very-little-effort-so-I-can-waste-more-time-packing route.
Here is what I took on the plane yesterday:

Now, let's see what we've got here
-1 half-eaten cinnamon bun (from Highland Bakery in Atlanta) I had already eaten some of it on my first flight before I thought of taking a picture during my layover. This was supposed to be a late lunch but then I wasn't really hungry and it became dinner.
-1 fruit smoothie (this time it came from Jamba Juice but I'm not really picky here as long as they use actual fruit) which was dinner.
-1 sweet potato biscuit  (from Highland Bakery as well) This was breakfast on the plane this morning.
-1 bottle filled with water because I never feel like they give you enough water on a plane.
-1 bottle of water that gets mixed the the Energy Bubbles (they're from David Kirsch) which I have in the morning with whatever I have for breakfast.
-1 protein bar (this one is a think thin peanut butter something bar) which I packed just in case but didn't eat this time. If I have quite far to go from the airport that tends to be what keeps me awake and happy on the way.

Other things I like to take on planes:
-trail mix
-fruit (but I wasn't organised enough to buy apples and I'm not quite sure bringing peaches would have been a good idea).

Now, here comes the nosey bit - what do you like to eat on planes? Do you just eat what they give you on the plane? Do you pre-order a special meal? Do you bring your own?
I'd love to know!
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