2014. december 19., péntek

Snow Crescents - Countdown for Christmas Part 2


sn't snow crescents - in Hungarian 'hókifli' - the cutest name for a cookie? Although this is not necessarily a Christmas cookie, at least in my family it's always present at any celebrations, I find it the best dessert for the holidays.
As you may guessed earlier, I am pretty much a big fan of smaller cookies for Christmas - I think baking huge cakes is unnecessary (although I will of course...). Let me explain. What does a Christmas fridge and balcony looks like? Full of food or ingredients, all needs to be chilled/rested, and after the holidays it's the same amount of leftovers. No matter how big your fridge is, it is very likely that there won't be space for a cake stand with the lovely cake on top, covered in icing, therefore it can't touch anything... Bad idea. Instead, a simple metal box full of cookies what you just put on the table with the coffee, and then you serve the leftovers at breakfast on Christmas morning. Because cake for breakfast is a bit 'too much', cookies are absolutely fine. 
And these snow crescents suggest that it wasn't only a 'form random balls from the dough'-method. Because it takes a long time. But it's worth it, believe me.


Don't be afraid, this recipe is not hard. But it takes a long time. It's the best to have a calm weekend afternoon before Christmas to prepare them. And good news! Storing them in a box, they stay fresh for more than a week. 


Ingredients

For the dough
50 dkg flour
25 dkg softened salted butter (if you use unsalted, add 1/2 tsp salt to the flour)
2 eggs
5 dkg sugar
2 dl semi-warm milk
half a sachet of instant dried yeast

For the walnut filling
230 dkg walnuts or pecans (I used half and half)
180 dkg icing sugar
2 tblsp milk
1/2 tblsp vanilla extract

For the jam filling
25 dkg thick jam (I prefer berry jam)

For the icing
5 dkg icing sugar

Method
For the dough, mix the yeast and the sugar with the milk in a cup.
In a large ball, whisk the eggs for two minutes with a hand mixer, then add the butter and mix it together. Incorporate the flour into the mixture, then add the milk, yeast and sugar. Roughly mix with a wooden spoon, then start kneading with your hand. Knead for 3-4 minutes. The dough should be smooth. Cover it with a kitchen towel and let it stand for 40 minutes. While it's resting, prepare the filling.
With the amount of ingredients I wrote above, you can use half of the dough for the walnut crescents and the other half for the jam crescents. If you want to prepare only one type, double the measurements. For me, the walnut crescents are the best/real ones!
You don't have to do anything with the jam in advance of filling.
Grate the walnuts in a food processor. I don't have one, so I put them in a plastic bag, and I hit them with a wooden spoon on the kitchen counter for 5 minutes. 
Mix the grated walnuts with the icing sugar, vanilla extract and milk in a saucepan, and cook it for 3 minutes on low heat. Cover it with a lid until the resting period of the dough is finished.

Preheat the oven for 175 degrees. Line parchment paper into two trays. 
Get a bit of the dough - a size of a walnut - and form it into a ball. On a floured surface, roll it into a 8-10 cm wide circle. Put half a tablespoon of filling in the middle. Fold the circle into a half circle, and push together the edges (it should look like a ravioli). Then fold it once again, so one side of the little roll will have a thicker crust (this should be the bottom of the cookie). So basically you just rolled the filling-bump into the flat part. Push the dough well together - use a fork if necessary. Push the ends into little 'tails' and turn them inside, so it will look like a little moon.
When you do it with jam, be very careful not to have any holes on the crescents, otherwise the jam will escape.

Bake them for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Roll them in the icing sugar while they are still hot. Serve with cold milk.




2014. december 18., csütörtök

Our Secret Family Gingerbread Recipe - Countdown for Christmas Part 1


Hey Everyone! Good news: I'm going to make a series of three posts before Christmas: two cookies you can make days or weeks before the holidays (this is the first) and the perfect Christmas morning breakfast. Here we go with number one - Our Secret Family Gingerbread Recipe!


Not a secret anymore I guess.
This recipe has a cute story - our kitchen at home (and mine here in Scotland as well) is tidy and clean - but not organised at all. I mean the recipes - despite that I bind books myself and we have so many pretty recipe books and planners, the most important recipes are just circling around - 'it's on a piece of paper in the big red cookbook'; 'I've seen it in the wooden spoon drawer' ; 'I saved it in a draft on one of the computers' and so on. However, we never had problems with that - except maybe an additional half an hour looking for the recipes. But a couple of years ago, we lost the gingerbread recipe. It was gone.
It was literaly nowhere, so we decided to go back to the bottom. Where was it from? A back of a gingerbread spice mixture. Ten years ago. Great.

We tried every gingerbread recipe from every single brand of gingerbread spice mixtures - but ended up disappointed all the time. We had an entire Christmas period with a kitchen full of hope and half-decent cookies.
And then my mom found it. 
It was indeed on the back of a spice mixture, and it was the same. The same old, lovely perfection. 
Obviously we copied it to every single book and electronic device we have. And now I share it with you guys - so if it gets lost again, you can save me.
This recipe is the best gingerbread for me, ever ever. The only thing I changed from the original one is that back home we don't use separate spices, just buy the readymade gingerbread spice mixture. For some reason, I could not find any of that in Glasgow, so I made my own. 
The baking part of the gingerbread takes time because of the amount of cookies - I find it the best to do it together with someone - one is handling the oven and the other is cutting the cookies. For example, it is a brilliant kitchen activity for kids. When I was little I spent most of my december evenings cutting little angels and Christmas trees.


Ingredients
25 dkg honey
10 dkg butter
10 dkg sugar
0,5 kg flour
0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
0.5 tbsp ground nutmeg
0.5 tbsp ground cloves
0.5 tbsp ground cinnamon
0.5 tbsp ground ginger
1 egg
2 egg yolks

Method
Melt the butter in a saucepan with the sugar and honey. Set aside and let it cool (I normally put it outside for some minutes). Mix the flour with the bicarbonate of soda and the spices. Whisk the egg and the egg yolks for a minute and add it to the flour. Mix it together, then add the sugar, butter and honey. Knead together with your hand until the dough is smooth. If it is still a bit warm, let it cool completely then put it in the fridge for overnight (this part is crucial - otherwise it won't be soft). 
Flour a bigger surface and roll 1/4 of the dough each time. Roll it to any shape, it should be around 4-5 mm thin. Cut the cookies out with gingerbread cutters - if you don't have these, you can use a cup as well. 
Put them in a tray (you can put baking paper but it won't stick without it either) and bake on 180 degrees for 5-7 minutes. Keep checking on them - the best is when the edges are crunchy and the middle is still soft. Let it stand for 5 minutes before putting them into a box. 
In a box, they could be kept forever.
Okay, not forever, but for a long time - so you can make it in advance for Christmas.



From this amount of dough, a normal metal cookie box will be full. 

For the icing, you may use the egg whites remained from using the egg yolks in the gingerbread - or if you freak out from eating raw eggs, you may use water. Start adding icing sugar, constantly mixing. It will be ready if it's thick but still spreadable - like the consistency of nutella or mustard (great examples huh). Put it in a small plastic bag and make a tiny hole on it - and you can start icing. 
If you want to make colourful icing, you can add food colouring at any point.


We also made a gingerbread house. We made our own templates and of course that I forgot to write down the measurements (food blogger...?). However, we used the gingerbread house of Kara as an inspiration, and I realised she actually put some templates on her blog. You can find it in the link with her instructions.

From my recipe, there was only a little bit of dough left after the house - so if you want to make it, my advice is to double the measurements - but it this cake, have plenty of time for it!





2014. november 16., vasárnap

Mini crescent rolls tutorial

I wasn't sure whether to share this recipe or not, because I don't have photos about the result. But since these little crescent rolls are very nice and super easy to make, I thought I would still share it with you. It's also a great substitute for bread, you can make mini sandwiches, or sometimes I like to fill it with cheese or pizza sauce. You can also put some cheese on top! 
So here is the recipe and the tutorial pictures. Photos this time are by the wonderful Filipa André

Mini crescent rolls

Ingredients
35 g all purpose flour
2,5 dl milk
half a sachet of instant yeast
2,5 dkg butter
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg yolk

Method
Mix flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Melt butter in the microwave and mix it in as well. Add milk - it should be semi-warm - slowly, continously incorporating into the mixture with a wooden spoon. When it's starting to become a dough, put the wooden spoon away and start kneading with hand. Knead for a couple of minutes, then cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place for an hour.
Divide the dough into 4 parts. Cover the rest, while you're working with one.
On a floured surface, roll the mini dough balls into a rectangle - it should be thin, around 4-5 mm. Half the rectangle along the longer side, and cut each sides into 2 quadrangles (leaving triangles on the top and bottom), then these into two triangles. Sounds complicated? It isn't, just have a look at the pictures and the gif!
Gently pull out the triangles, then roll it up from one of the corners, creating a mini crescent. If you are patient, let them rise for 20 minutes - until then, you can make more crescents.
Spread some egg yolk on the top with a kitchen brush, then bake on 180C for around 10-15 mins  - but that depends on the oven and the size of the crescents, so be careful at the first round.









2014. október 17., péntek

Scotch Lamb Street Food Festival + Using stock wisely + Homemade Bread!

It's been a while, but I think it's never too late to write about a great food event, and the Scotch Lamb SFF in Glasgow was amazing.
I was a little bit surprised when I got invited as it's still weird to mention myself as a blogger from Scotland, and also, I usually bake sweets, so lamb or any meat dishes are not exactly in my repertoire, at least not on my blog.
Actually, I have to confess something: I barely eat meat. It isn't a decision or a conscious diet point, but it doesn't exactly fit into my student budget. I could buy chicken, as it's not that expensive, but I am really afraid of the chicken meat you can buy in stores, even the free-range ones. We have our own chicks at home, and when you prepare those birds all the time, and then you get a supermarket-chicken in your hand, you can really see the difference, and I am afraid of the things which are causing the difference.
I am not an expert in preparing red meat, but I know the same problems come with that as well. Especially as it's more expensive, it's easy to get tempted by the cheaper ones, thinking that it must be the same with a different label. Because seriously, how can we know?
This question was answered at the Scotch Lamb SFF, when I got the Scotch Lamb and Scotch Beef labels introduced to me. It is pretty straightforward; those labels only go to meat coming from checked, trustworthy farmers all around Scotland, so you know that what you're paying for is not estrogen, but quality meat. So watch out for these:


At the event, we were showed a butchery lesson and an exclusive cooking demonstration with useful tips like which parts of the animal you would need and what you should throw away and also advice so you could understand what your butcher is doing and ask for specific preparations.
We were also invited to taste incredible lamb dishes and yummy smoothies. I had a delicious lamb shoulder with coriander, pomegranade seeds and cous cous. My friend Eve had a lamb burrito and we both tried the berry, mango and the oreo chocolate smoothies. Yum!




I thought I would share a great tip with you in case you are a student as well, or just find meat too expensive, or maybe not a great fan of it, but still want to get the useful proteins and vitamins.
If you go to the butchers, normally you can't only buy meat but also bones, which is obviously so much cheaper. If you can't see any, just let the butcher know you are interested in buying some bones, they will be more than happy to sell it to you - otherwise they might throw them away.
At home, put the bones in a big saucepan, add cold water and some salt and pepper. Sting a clove into an onion and put it in the water. You can also add celery, carrot and parsnip. Bring it to the boil and let it simmer for a couple of hours. When it's ready, strain it and there you go! You can also freeze your stock in plastic boxes so you can use them later.
If you are preparing a chicken, you an use the backbone for stock - it normaly has very few meat on it so it's worth it more for stock - if you cut the chicken before roasting it, you save cooking time and you aso get the backbone for stock - great deal!

The recipe I'm sharing with you is ideal if you are making stock - it is the famous french onion soup


Ingredients
1 kg red onions, peeled, chopped to circles
1 tsbp sugar
some olive oil
your beautiful lamb/beef/chicken stock

The secret of making french onion soup is the time. Heat the oil and add the onions and the sugar, then let it caramelize. It could take almost an hour, but please be patient - don't add the stock until you've got a beautiful amber colour mixture of the onions.
It is great when you are making stock, cause while you are cooking the broth, there is time for the onions to caramelize - but be careful to be there during the whole time and keep stirring it, otherwise it will burn.
When the onions are ready, add the stock. It's hard to say how much liquid you need, but for one kg of onions, you are good to do a big bowl of soup - like 3 or 4 liters.
When you added the stock, season it, but be careful - when I make soups I normally make it a bit saltless, cause when you reheat it later, it will taste saltier. And obviously, you can always add salt at serving. Bring it to simmer with the stock, cook for 10 minutes, and you're done! Try it with this amazing homemade bread - but be careful, you have to prepare the bread the day before.



The easiest no-knead bread

This recipe is adapted from here, and I'm absolutely loving it!

3 cups of flour
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp seasalt
1 1/2 cups water
1 tblsp oil

Mix dry ingredients, then add the water in little portions and mix continously with a wooden spoon. When all the ingredients are combined, grease another plastic boil with olive oil, and put the dough in there. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for 18 hours.
Put flour on a surface, and pour the dough on it - form a ball with quick moves and cover it again with some plastic wrap for 1-2 hours. Make sure that the ball is covered with flour all around, but not super thickly.
Preheat the oven for 200 C and put your French oven inside (if you don't have one, a big heatproof ceramic bowl with lid or covered with aluminium foil will do it). When the dough is ready, get the very hot pot out and carefully place the dough inside. Cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake for another 15.




2014. szeptember 15., hétfő

Celebrating Autumn - Caramel Apple Tart


I had to live 21 years to decide which season was my favourite. Autumn won. Lot of people go for spring, but that's the season I particularly don't like. It's the end of the winter, but still SO cold for several weeks, then you just can't tell whether it's gonna be hot or chilly that day. With Autumn, it's different - it's cold. Maybe there is a little bit of sunshine, but still cold. Festive season is coming, or is already here, the colours are amazing, and there is rain. My favourite type of weather. I just adore the smell of wet fallen leaves in the park, when it's still not freezing, but you already got red cheeks. Oh my.
And as a baker, this is the best season EVER. Baking over the summer is such a pain, with heating up the already hot house and all that. During winter it is really lovely, but the rage of ingredients are wider during the autumn, so it is the best. And all these fruits and veggies - apples, pears, grapes, squash, nuts etc - are the best to combine with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger.


This tart is very simple but yet has a special kick with the bottom caramel layer. You can't exactly feel the caramer cracking, as it melts in the oven and merges with the apples, but it still has that lovely flavour what makes this tart stand out.
It takes quite a long time to grate the apples - if you don't have much time, just cut into small pieces.

Ingredients
Crust:
300 g all purpose flour
200 g butter
100 g icing sugar

Filling:
100 + 30 g caster sugar
5 middle size apples, peeled and grated
10 g butter
1 tsp cinnamon



Method
Mix the flour with the icing sugar. Cut the butter into tiny cubes, and add it to the flour mixture. Crumble the butter into the flour using your fingertips. Add some cold water to form a dough. Put it in the fridge for a little while.
Melt the butter in a pan, and add grated apple, cinammon and 30 g sugar. Cook until it losts half of its size,
Grease a normal tart form, and preheat the oven for 175 C. Separate the dough into two parts; it should be 1/3 and 2/3. Roll the bigger one and place it in the form. Place baking paper on the dough, then some baking beans or rice (these could not be used as beans or rice anymore so I suggest to keep them after baking for another time!). Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the beans and bake for an other 5 minutes.
While the crust is in the oven, separate the smaller dough, roll them and cut them into stripes.
When the crust is ready, put 100 g caster sugar into a pan and let it melt on medium heat. Do not mix until it all melted. When it is all melted, as quick as possible pour it onto the crust. It hardens very fast! Spread it as much as you can. Place the cooked apples on the caramel, then finish it with the dough stripes. Put it back into the oven for 15-20 minutes.







2014. augusztus 29., péntek

100% Homemade Lasagne + Big Apologies + Updates!


Hi Everyone! 
I realized that there are way too many posts on my blog starting with "I know I did not write and I am sorry I am terrible bla bla bla".


I seriously have to change that. I love this blog with all my heart. And I see the statistics and I do have a lot of readers (including a massive amount of guys from France, which really surprises me), so I don't want to disappoint you.
I made and photoed this recipe almost two months ago, and I was just lazy. I got an amazing internship job in a museum, and although I was cooking and baking on a daily basis, I did not photo it. I'm returning to Glasgow next week and I hope I can concentrate on the blog more than I did during the summer.



How is a lasagne 100% homemade you may wonder... well, this is about the pasta this time, I am going to share with you how to make it by yourself. Not a big deal, I promise, and it is not crucial to have a pasta machine!

Originally the rule is 1 egg to 100 grams of flour (plain flour). Although eggs' sizes vary and I don't exactly know what size needs exactly 100 grams, I normally go with a medium egg and add 90 g of flour - it is easier to add more flour if necessary, but if the pasta dries, there is no going back. Side note: if your pasta dries, please don't panic, it is amazing to put into soup. Make any vegetable soup (not cream soup), and grate the hard pasta through a big holed cheese grater while it's boiling, Cook until everything comes to the top and you're done!

Soooo, here we go for the pasta, for one medium tray of lasagne:
2 eggs
180 g flour + a bit more.
Pour flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Put the egg in the well, and first use the fingers to mix it together with the flour, then began kneading. It is going to be hard and tiring and you have to knead forever. I told you!



When the pasta ball is perfectly smooth, you are done. Cover it with a tablecloth, so it won't dry. From here, you have to options.
If you don't have a pasta machine: Divide the ball into four parts, and cover those you're not working with. Using a rolling pin, roll the pasta on a floured surface until it's as thin as possible. You can cut it into smaller parts if that's easier - for lasagne, 10x5 cm quandrangles are perfect. 

If you do have a pasta machine: Divide the ball into four parts, and cover those you're not working with. Using the clean pasta machine, roll it to a thin pasta, going thinner and thinner with each step, so you should start with a thicker one. I stopped at the second level, so it does not have to be as thin a pasta machine could do, maybe around 0,6 mm.


If you're using the pasta when you're making it, feel free to do that right after you made it, it does not need to dry. If you want to save it for later, dry it on a tablecloth for a very long time (like one or two days), at a dry place - it has to be perfectly dry because otherwise it will get moldy. Don't forget to change the cloth regularly, it will go wet! When you're done, wrap them into celophane and store it in the cupboard. A good way to dry them - I have never done that but saw it - is to fold the pasta in half when its still fresh, and put it on a string, like you do with the washing.

And now, let's make some lasagne!




 


printable version
Ingredients

100 g home made lasagne pasta
300 g minced meat
1 carrot
1 red onion
1 celery
5-6 tomatoes
salt, pepper, nutmeg
2 tblsp olive oil
50 g butter
5 tblsp flour
5 dl milk
100 g cheese

Method
In a large pan, heat up the olive oil, and add the meat. Cook it for 15-20 minutes or until it's fully cooked. Season with salt and pepper. Mix the vegetables in a food processor (you can chop them into little pieces if you don't have one) and add it to the meat. Cover the pan and let it cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Taste it to find out if you need more seasoning. Don't worry if it's a little bit oversalted, the pasta doesn't contain any salt anyway.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, and add the flour in little portions, constantly mixing. Start adding the milk really slowly, don't stop mixing to avoid lumps. Season with a pinch of salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Grease a heatproof tray or bowl with oil or butter (I normally use a medium glass bowl). Preheat the oven for 200 C. Start layering; start with a layer of pasta, then the meat, then the white sauce. The very top should be a meat layer. If you are using parmesan or a similar kind of hard cheese, don't add it before baking, wait with it until serving. If you are using cheddar or a similar kind of softer cheese, grate it and put it on the top of the lasagne before it goes in the oven.
Bake it for 25-30 minutes.

2014. július 2., szerda

Mulberry custard pie

So, I found that mulberry tree near our house next to an old road. Then an other one, in a park. I immediately had the idea of this pie.
Anyway, mulberries are so amazing. Unfortunately, I don't find mulberry trees very often, and finding the fruit in a shop is absolutely impossible. So if you happen to run into one, definitely go and make this pie! It is so yummy with the creamy vanilla custard. And the whole feeling of going and collecting some wild fruit in a wee basket or bowl is so great, almost magical. I think it makes you appreciate the fruit, thinking that it is a true gift from nature, not something you bought. Okay, I'm starting to be too romantic, let's move on!
I gave up my favorite 3:2:1 recipe this time to try something new I read in a magazine. It was great, but kind of similar to my original one. 
If you can't get mulberries (but please try), you can make this pie with raspberries or blackberries as well.


 scroll down for printable recipe!









1 egg yolk
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tblsp lemon juice
1 tsp soured cream
350 g mulberries
70 g caster sugar
2 dl water
1 sachet custard powder (49 g)

Put the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Beat it with the icing sugar and egg yolk until pale. Add the flour, salt, lemon juice and baking powder, and mix together with a wooden spoon. Add the soured cream (you can use cream fraiche or yogurt if you want), and incorporate the mixture into a ball using your hand. Add more soured cream if necessary. Cover it with cling film and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Mix the mulberries with the caster sugar and cook it on medium heat for 5 minutes. Mix the custard powder with water and add it to the berry mixture. Mix constantly with a wooden spoon until it gets thick (around 5 minutes). Set aside.
Preheat the oven for 180 C. Divide the crust ball into to parts, leaving one of them bigger (2/3 - 1/3). Roll the bigger one on a floured surface. Grease a pie chart (I used a 32 cm wide one) and place the rolled crust in it. Bake for 10 minutes. Pour the mulberry mixture on the crust. Roll the other part as well, and cut 1,5 cm wide stripes. Place them on the berry mixture and bake together for 20 more minutes.
If you can, wait until it cools down, and the filling sets.