Saturday, April 30, 2011

Beans and Asparagus Salad

Asparagus Season started and one can get the domestic, much more tasty asparagus than the imported one... In my country we get more often the white one but I prefer the green Asparagus. Also the big Asparagus is said to be the best one and is therefor more expansive than the thinner one. But I prefer the medium sized not too big one. I find him more tasty. As I had invited some friends for dinner I wanted to do a real Springtime - Dinner and decided to start with a Asparagus Salad.
I went to the market and bought (serves 3 - 4 persons as a small dish or about 6 persons as a starter):
- 500 g green asparagus
- 300g big, white cooked beans (in a glass or a tin)
- 100 g Rucola
- 50 g roasted, coarsely chopped Walnuts
- 1 glass of Pesto genovese 
- 100 g baby tomatoes
- 4 Tbsp. lemonjuice, 4 Tbsp. Olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. shaved Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
To prepare:
1. Mix 2 Tbsp. Pesto with Oil and lemon juice until well combined, season with salt and pepper if needed and add the drained beans
2. Peel the asparagus. The green one need only to be peeled in the lower third.
3. Cook the Asparagus for about 8 minutes in enough salted water where you´ve added a pinch sugar (do not overcook, he should be almost crispy)
4. Meanwhile roast the coarsely chopped walnuts in a pan without any oil
6. Chill the asparagus with some cold water and cut in pieces from about 3 - 4 cm
7. Add carefully the Asparagus to the Bean - Pesto mix

8. Place on your Dish the Rucola, than the Bean-Asparagus-Pesto, disperse the halved tomatoes, the walnuts and the Parmesan shavings over all and serve with some toast or baguette.

Monday, April 25, 2011

My sisters Easter Brunch

It was a sunny day! And my sister had prepared a table full of delicacies. Some wild garlic bread (soft and tangy), the traditional Easter "Pinze", the hard coloured eggs, ham, different cheese (one of them with cranberries and another coated with hay.. no I am not joking it was hay... very delicious), Mozzarella caprese (partly with and partly without tomatoes as she hates tomatoes meanwhile the rest of the family likes tomatoes :) ), some hot young goat cheese that she had wrapped in some ham (yummy), jam, Muesli, juice and, and....

Sitting in between the germinating plants of her terrace, the sun shining on our faces, the table full of great things: thats pleasure and fun! Thats Luxury!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Banana - Nougat Cake

 Invited to Easter Brunch I wanted to bring some cake beneath the traditionel chocolate and almond paste eggs and easter bunnies and... Perhaps something healthy? Nuts (so called brain food) are healthy, isn´t it? So the combination with some fruit, here with some banana, must become something very healthy no ? Ok I did not use pure nuts but some hazelnut nougat and all of that become a sweet cake... But when you can make someone happy with a piece of cake isn´t that also good for our health or at least for our soul ? :) As I was impatient as ever and also a little bit too late for some long baking, I used once again some ready done biscuit that one can get in the supermarket, filled it with a nougat-mascarpone cream and banana slices, cut in rectangular slices and covered with some more of the nougatcream. Then up in the fridge for about 2 hours and here we are for the Brunch.
You need (makes about 6 slices):
1 rectangular Biscuit plate
250 g Mascarpone
125 g Heavy cream
120 g Praliné (= hazelnut Nougat)
25 g icing sugar
How to confection:
Now it becomes really, really difficult. :))
1. Soften the Nougat by heating up for some seconds in the microwave oven
2. Mix together all the ingredients until you obtain a creamy, homogenous melted cream
3. Divide the biscuit plate in two equal halves. Spoon some Nougatcream on the bottom (reserve about 1/3 to cover)
4. Slice the banana and put on the Cream
5. Spoon a little bit of cream on the other biscuit plate and put it with the creamsie down on the bananas.
6. Cut in slices and cover with Cream all around.
7. Decorate with some hazelnuts and up in the fridge for a short time before savouring.

Easter House-cleaning - lets get more colours in our life!

Traditionally before Eastern people start to clean their houses perfect as well as before christmas... I am not that traditional. Means that I clean when it is necessary and I am in the mood for. (If one can really be in the mood for cleaning :). (I also have a cleaning lady that helps me once or twice a month to clean the more difficult things like windows or to do those things I hate to do...). This year I had to clean a little bit more as I started to paint  some walls in my flat with really bright Colours. It looks really great! I have to say a big Thank you to my sister who assisted me in my painting experience. It started by choosing some new colours. I think the salesman was quite happy when I leaved his store (not because I´ve bought that much but rather that I had  at least taken a decision... but pardon me, is it that easy to know which colour will really fit..?). After having choosen the colours we had to clarify all the untensils we would need.... Regarding the colours I choosed a deep red, a bright turquoise and a slate grey.
Coming home in the afternoon I called my sister and told her that I was prepared to start painting...Ok not yet now but please right away in the next morning.. One must know that she is in holiday. So getting up in the morning is not really what she had dreamed about for her holidays... But look for the results. My best friend also had to take a look at, more or less immediatly and my daughter received some fotos via mail....even if she is on a holiday trip in NY... but one must know what are the really crucial things in life, no?

Monday, April 18, 2011

tangy mushrooms with Couscous

I like dishes with a lot of odours and surprising flavours. When I first read this recipe in Ottolenghis blog (british cook with some resaturants in London). I was astonished about the combination of the ingredients. What would you say when you read a recipe where mushrooms are combined with cinnamon? I was curious to try this recipe and my imagination was not disappointed: it is a festivity for the palate and the nose. It starts with the odour in your kitchen during the preparation and then you savour a flavourful, unconventionel but easily done dish.

You need (serves 4 persons):
500 g mixed mushrooms
1 Bunch of parsley and 1 Bunch of fresh thyme
4 Cloves of garlic
1 - 2 Lemon
2 Cinnamon sticks
1/2 Tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cups of couscous
4 cups of hot vegetable stock
3 Tbsp. salted butter
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
Olive oil, salt and pepper
How to prepare:
1. Roughly chop the parsley and the thyme
2. Cut the mushrooms in halves or quarter (depending on the size of your mushrooms) and the garlic in slices
3. Squeeze the lemon and reserve the juice
4. Heat up 4 good lugs of olive oil in a large flat pan until smoking
5. Toss together the mushrooms, herbs (use only 2/3 of the parsley), the cinnamon sticks and garlic. Pour in the hot oil and leave on a hot flame. Do not stir or shake
6. Meanwhile prepare the couscous: pour him on the hot stock and let rest for about 5 minutes
7. Now stir in the butter and the heavy cream. Adjust to your taste with salt and pepper.
8. After 7 - 9 minutes stir the mushrooms and pour in the lemon juice, the ground cinnamon and salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and remove the cinnamon sticks
9. Stir in the rest of the chopped parsley and serve with the creamy couscous

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cookies and Cream - Parfait

You know those icepots from Häagen Dazz? Macadamia Nut brittle or Cookies and Cream? No, I do not mean the small one...I mean those really big ones... I think normally intended for the whole family... But who the hell can stop eating a Häagen Dazz after some spoons? But it is quite expansive and so we buy it only from time to time. Mainly when we need some special "caresses" : ) . As there was some Mascarpone remaining in the fridge I was thinking about some Parfait. By the way I found some remaining Oreo Cookies.... And some caress one need every day, isn´t it ? I like to prepare this Parfait in single portions. Therefore I fill it in my small metall ramekins that I can put in the freezer. This way you have a great desert prepared and waiting for his "appearance"...
75 ml water
75 mg sugar
4 egg yolks
125 g Mascarpone
150 g Heavy cream
4 - 6 Oreo Cookies
2 Dash Vanillapaste (from Nomu for example or 1 tsp. vanillated sugar)
How to prepare: 
1. In a casserole heat up water and sugar until boiling. Cook for about 10 minutes. You will get a sugar sirup.
2. Whisk the egg yolks until creamy and pour the hot sugar sirup to them. Continue beating until cold.
3. Whisk the heavy cream until stiff and add it, as well as the mascarpone to your egg yolk - sugar mixture

4. Crumble the Oreo Cookies and fold them in.
5. Pour the mix in some ramekins or a small loaf tin and freeze for some hours.
6. To unmold put the ramekins for some seconds in hot water.

Ooops........ : )

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sweet Basil Petit - Fours

I confess I could not wait any more and started to plant my kitchen - flower pots  with some herbs and of course I also planted some Basil.
Of course it´s only the begínning of my yearly "gardener career" and I will get some more herbs in the next weeks... I will also surely not miss to buy some more herbs and also some different types of Basil. I started with the Basil that you can get meanwhile easily quite everywhere.
I mean this Basil with the big leaves. I was "forced" to buy this Basil as I had read a recipe for a Basil flavoured Cream. I varied a little bit the recipe so I could use it as Frosting. And I have to tell you: I have found my favourite Frosting for this year: Basil  -Mascarpone!
Basil is mainly used in salty dishes and I think this herb became that known because its use in Mozarella caprese. But Basil is also great in sweet dishes as you can find out by trying this Basil - Mascarpone Frosting. By adjusting the amount of used Basil you can get the flavour more or less intensive.  
As I was very curious and impatient to find out whow the Basilcream would taste, I bought some finished biscuit that one can get in the supermarket and is intended to be filled. But I think next time I will try the same treat with some selfdone biscuit even if the result this time was in my opinion already great.
I used (to make  about 10 Petits Fours)
- 125 g of a ready to be used biscuit "plate"
- 100 g Mascarpone
- 100ml heavy cream
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 dash Vanilla Paste (or 1 Tsp. vanillated sugar)
- a good hand full of Basil leaves
- some fruit or flowers to decorate: I used raspberries and some violettes.
To prepare:
1. Mix together the heavy cream and the basil leaves in a blender
2. Add the Mascapone and sugar as well as 2 dashes of vanille paste and whisk until well combined with a mixer.
3. Divide your biscuit "plate" in two halves and spoon your mascarpone cream on it. Place the second halve of your biscuit on the cream
4. Cut the filled biscuit into pieces sized to your convenience.
5. Spoon all around on each biscuit piece some more Basilcream and decorate with the raspberries.
Even if its possible to preserve the Basil Petits - Fours in the fridge until the next day, I recommand to eat them the same day because I found that the fresher the cream is the better the Basil Petits - Fours taste.

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