Quick Waldorf Salad

This time something quick that requires one of my favourite and most used kitchen utensils – a julienne slicer – , contains one of my favourite fruits – apple -, one of my favourite vegetables –  celery – , and which is one of the few recipes I don’t want to prepare without mayonnaise.

Waldorf Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 celery root julienne
  • 1 apple julienne
  • a handful of chopped walnuts
  • some tablespoons mayonnaise.
  •  cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions:

Waldorf Salad

  • just mix everything together

Apeka-filled Garlic & Thyme Bread

A couple of weeks ago I tried out some Garlic n Thyme Pull Apart Bread-recipe from an interesting recipe website called Pepper Bowl.

Garlic-Thyme-Pull-Apart-BreadThe original Garlic n Thyme Pull Apart Bread

It turned out very delicious and a couple of days ago I decided to use this recipe as inspiration for bread filled with apeka.

The whole thing started with some minor kitchen disaster though… I left the yeast alone with itself for a little too long and it turned into some foamy blob, trying to take over my kitchen.

Yeast ExplosionThe Yeast Blob.

Surprisingly this was in no way detrimental to the outcome of the bread – on the contrary: I would definitely put this bread on the top ten list of the most delicious things I ever ate.

ka-Filled-Pull-Apart-Bread

Looks yummy, tastes yummy.

This bread was delicious beyond imagination. We ate the whole bread at once, and if it had been twice as big, we’d still have eaten it at once (and if I’d had the chance, I’d have eaten it all alone:)).

ka-Filled-Pull-Apart-BreadFluffy, creamy, spicy, soft and so delicious…

Ok, so here we go:

Ingredients:

  • 400g flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • ca 250ml lukewarm water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 6 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 200g apeka

Cooking

  • put yeast, sugar and 50ml warm water in a *large bowl*, stir and let rest for 20 minutes (alternatively put everything in a *small cup* and scratch yeasty foam from kitchen counter after 20 minutes)
  • add flour, salt and the rest of the water and knead either with your hands or with a dough hook for several minutes (add more flour/water if the dough is too dry or moist)
  • briefly heat your oven at minimum temperature, then turn if off again (mine is 50°C – the oven shouldn’t be turned on long enough to reach 50°C, it’s only supposed to be cosy warm for the dough)
  • put the bowl in the warm (not hot!!) oven for 60-90 minutes
  • slowly heat olive oil in a pan and add thyme and garlic

ka-Filled-Pull-Apart-BreadGarlic and thyme in olive oil.

  • roast for a couple of minutes at low temperature, stir occasionally
  • remove  pan and let oil-garlic-thyme-mixture cool off
  • remove dough from oven and knead again for some minutes
  • grease a casserole or baking tray
  • also brush your working surface with oil
  • take a chunk of dough with slightly oily hands, pull it long and flatten it (I used a rolling pin)

ka-Filled-Pull-Apart-Bread Two types of apeka, thyme-garlic-olive-oil and dough.

  • put chunks of apeka on the top half of the dough (I guess you could also shape lots of little dumplings, but this method is less work). I used two different kindes of apeka: both use agar agar for the jelly texture, the light one contains coconut milk and glutinous rice flour and is rather solid, the dark one contains soy cream and corn starch and is of creamy consistency.

ka-Filled-Pull-Apart-BreadFolded up and brushed with oil.

  • Fold the dough to cover the apeka and press the edges together, brush with garlic-thyme-olive-oil-mixture.

ka-Filled-Pull-Apart-Bread

Tightly packed.

  • Fold and brush the dough chunk until it fits your casserole or baking tray.
  • Repeat with the rest of the dough until all of it is used up.
  • Brush top with garlic-thyme-olive-oil-mixture.

ka-Filled-Pull-Apart-BreadSomewhat messy… – I didn’t really follow some master plan here, as you can see.

  • Briefly heat your oven again at minimum temperature, so that it’s cosy warm again, then turn it off.
  • Put the dough in the warm (not hot!) oven and let rest for another 30 minutes.

ka-Filled-Pull-Apart-BreadAfter the second rise – fluffy!

  • Now preheat the oven to 180°C/360°F while the bread is waiting outside. This should take another 10-15 minutes
  • Then put the bread in the oven and bake for ca. 20 minutes, until the crust turns golden.
  • You can do the toothpick test to make sure the bread is done – if it gets to dark, but still isn’t done, put tin foil on top and bake a little longer.

ka-Filled-Pull-Apart-Bread

That’s what it’s supposed to look like!

  • You can brush the top with some more oil of you like.
  • Tastes best served hot!

ka-Filled-Pull-Apart-Bread    This tray was eaten empty by two persons within minutes.

While the preparation of this bread does take some time and effort, it is definitely worth it.This bread had ca 2020kcals (but it was worth every single one!).

ka-Filled-Pull-Apart-Bread Yummy!

Mayonnaise

I have never been a fan of mayonnaise, like most foods with a high percentage of fat it causes me nausea.

I remember that when I was a child we would often have some kind of potato salad with sausages, peas, carrots, onions and mayonnaise on sundays – real, selfmade mayonnaise with lots of oil and raw yolk. I could only eat tiniest amounts before I started to feel sick.

Nowadays I hardly ever use mayonnaise – if so, usually only on pasta salad, mixed with soyghurt, but even on that I prefer my usual dressing with wonderful pumpkin seed oil.

On those rare occasisons when I wanted to use mayonnaise, I bought it, as I had no idea of how to make it myself.

Several members of my family were kind enough though to prepare eggless mayonnaise for me on one occasion or another, as it’s getting harder and harder to find some in stores, and from what I’ve been told, it was a tedious task to prepare it, slowly adding drops of oil while mixing constantly .

When I recently stumbled over a recipe that claimed mayonnaise could be made within 30 seconds by simply mixing soy milk, oil and lemon juice with a hand blender, I got curious  and decided to try it. I only used half the amount of oil though, as I don’t like the taste of too much fat.

Maybe that was the reason for the complete failure of the recipe: all I got was a  sour, foamy soy-milk-oil-mixture.

I was frustrated,yet incited to succeed, so I poured it away and gave it a second try. My second attempt included the given amount of soy milk, oil and lemon juice.
Result: sour, foamy soy-milk-oil-mixture.

But this time I added some more lemon juice to the already foamy soy-milk-oil-mixture, mixed it for another 10 seconds – and voila, I had the most perfect, creamy mayonnaise you can imagine.

Mayonnaise

I was very enthusiastic and tried it two more times, to make sure I got the hang of it, and both times it worked perfectly. It takes less than a minute to prepare, looks and tastes like it should and the finished product can be stored in the fridge for a week without changing consistency or going bad.

Okay, that was a long prelude to a short recipe 🙂

So here we go!

You will need:

  • a small, fitting container for the mixing
  • a hand blender

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup soy milk
  • 2/3 cup oil (I used sunflower oil)
  • a dash of lemon juice – no need to be freshly pressed
  • some tumeric for a touch of yellow (optional)


Mayonnaise
step 1) pour 1/3 cup soy milk in container

Mayonnaisestep 2 – optiopnal ) add some tumeric if you want your mayonnaise to have a slightly yellowish colour

Mayonnaise
step 3) pour 2/3 cup oil in container

Mayonnaise
step 4) mix for 20-30 seconds, until you have a foamy, oily mixture

step 5) add a dash of lemon juice

Mayonnaise
step 6) mix for another 10-15 seconds

You’re done!

Now you can add salt, pepper, herbs or whatever you fancy.

Valentine’s Day Punch Hearts

For this recipe I took inspiration from an Austrian pastry called Punschkrapfen.

They usually have the shape of squares, but I thought it would be nice to make heart shaped ones for Valentine’s Day.

Valentine's Day Punch Hearts

Sweet Punch Heart for Valentine’s Day

My first attempt yesterday didn’t turn out as I had planned: the cake was to high for the cookie cutter, so the hearts all were somewhat uneven. Also, the filling was too soft for being used with a cookie cutter. I had to place the cutter on top of a heart shaped cookie, fill it with the way too soft filling, put another cookie on top of it and then carefully pull the cookie cutter up without destroying the whole thing. I still managed to get them in shape, but it was very, very messy and time-consuming, I really don’t recommend that method.

It was so much work that I didn’t even bother to glaze them all, once I was finished. (They were really delicious though).

Valentine's Day Punch HeartsThe first attempt: somewhat messy production process, but very delicious outcome.

Today I made a second attempt: I used only half the amount of dough and a much larger baking tray. Unsurprisingly this time the cake turned out to be too flat 🙂

So I simply decided to turn this into a special feature of my very special Valentine’s Day Punch Hearts: instead of one filling between two cake layers they now contain two fillings between three cake layers.

Before I post the recipe just a couple of things in advance: making those Punch Hearts is a lot of work, it’s very messy and they are somewhat unhealthy, as they contain lots of sugar.

But hey, Valentine’s Day is only once a year, so it might as well be worth the effort and the extra calories on a special day and for a special person, and besides: I think they look really cute (and they taste great as well!).

Ingredients:

for the dough:

  • 90g sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 package of vanilla sugar (8g)
  • 120g flour
  • a bit of tumeric for a nice yellow colour (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 150ml water

additionally for the filling:

  • 55ml cherry liqueur rum (or regular rum)
  • 135g dark chocolate

for the glaze:

  • 200g powdered sugar
  • 50ml cherry liqueur rum (or regular rum)
  • red food dye

Preparations:

  • line a baking tray with parchment (the tray I used has a size of 37x26cm and the cake turned out very flat – I guess a smaller tray would be okay too)
  • preheat oven to 180°C/350°F

Cooking:

  • mix sugar, baking powder, flour and  vanilla sugar thoroughly (add a little tumeric if you want your dough to have a nice yellowish colour)
  • add oil and water, mix with a blender
  • pour the very liquid dough on the parchment paper that lies on your baking tray
  • shake the tray a little to make the dough spread evenly

Valentine's Day Punch HeartsThe dough in the tray before baking…

  • put the tray in the oven and bake for 10-15 minute; the time depends on the size of your tray (the surface should be of yellow/light golden colour, you can also do the toothpick test to find out the right moment for removing the tray from the oven)

Valentine's Day Punch Hearts… and after baking. Nice yellow colour.

  • let the cake cool off for at least 30 minutes
  • remove the parchment paper from the tray
  • now cut out hearts with a heart shaped cookie cutter; I cut out 27 cookies for 9 punch hearts

Valentine's Day Punch Hearts…cutting out the hearts.

  • make sure there’s enough cake leftovers, because you will need those  for the filling; I weighted my cookies and leftovers: the cookies weighted about 60% of the original cake, the leftovers 40%

Valentine's Day Punch HeartsThe leftover cake parts.

  • now put the leftovers in a bowl and crumble into smaller pieces
  • add cherry liqueur rum, then mash the soft, soaked crumbles with a fork (maybe start with less than 55ml rum and add more if necessary)

Valentine's Day Punch Hearts…soaked in rum and mashed.

  • melt dark chocolate in the microwave oven; it should be soft, but not too hot
  • mix the melted chocolate with the rum soaked cake mash

Valentine's Day Punch Hearts…mixed with melted chocolate.

  • the consistency of the cake mash should be soft enough to be spread on the parchment, being cut with the cookie cutter and stick with the cookies, but not so soft that it will loose its shape or melt away – depending on the amount of cake leftovers you started with, the amount of rum and melted chocolate you are going to need may vary; also the cake mash will get a little harder once the chocolate has cooled off, so you may want to wait a little or put the filling in the fridge for some time
  • spread some of the filling on a piece of parchment paper and use the cookie cutter to cut out a heart; remove the heart (by carefully lifting it up with a knife, if it sticks to the parchment paper) and place it on a cookie

Valentine's Day Punch Hearts…cutting the filling, layering the punch cakes

  • place another cookie on top, another filling on that one and a third cookie on top of it, so that each little cake has 5 layers (if your cookies turn out to be much higher than mine, you can stick with a three-layered cookie-filling-cookie)
  • now it’s time for the glazing; put the powdered sugar and rum in a bowl and mix thoroughly; I recommend not to start with the whole 200g sugar/50ml rum, but with maybe half of the amount, and then slowly add either more sugar if it’s too liquid or more rum if it’s too viscid
  • add as much red food dye as you like, for bright red or tender pink
  • place each cake on a fork, and pour the sugar glaze over it

Valentine's Day Punch Hearts…glacing the little cakes with pink or red sugar icing.

  • place the cakes on a little paper muffin cup
  • eat and enjoy – but not all at once 🙂 I calculated that each of the 9 punch hearts I made has a little over 300kcals.

Valentine's Day Punch Hearts…delicious!

On Natto, Flower Bread and Apricot Dumplings

First of all I can say that my natto experiences finally proved successful.

Natto

While according to an instruction I found on the internet the natto had to be in the joghurt maker for 24 hours, then additionally in the fridge for 48, I observed that keeping the soybeans warm for 48 hours proved to be a more prosperous solution for my natto.

Also I had to increase the amount of natto I make to the maximum that fits in the joghurt maker, as I would eat so much of it, that it didn’t even survive those 48 hours in the fridge that it needs to settle.

When I bought the joghurt maker a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea what a handy bargain that would be, as now I am using it around the clock, literally.

The selfmade natto really tastes great and I made it part of my daily diet: twice a day I now enjoy a small portion of those fermented soybeans.

All natto aside, I also managed to try out some very nice bread recipe.

Sunflower Bread

Called a sunflower bread, it doesn’t actually contain any sunflower seeds, but it looks a little bit like a sunflower. I found the recipe on this website, and although google translate tries to convince me that it is Italian, I am actually quite sure the page is in Romanian (otherwise, where the hell would I get 500g of weasel?).

I’m not 100% pleased with the outcome yet, but it’s heading towards the right direction, and I think it really looks nice.

And finally I had another very delicious meal yesterday: my almost-mother-in-law made some wonderful selfmade apricot dumplings for me.

I absolutely love filled dumplings, and as I am not good at making them myself, I am always looking forward to when I get them made for me.

My noble plans of eating those 8 large dumplings over a period of 4 days were completely in vain though, they were so delicious, I hat to eat all of them on the very first day.

Apricot Dumplings

More Asian Food…

As yet my attempts to make my own natto have been rather unsuccessful.

Hard to believe, but it’s almost impossible to get soybeans in a city of over a million (at least if you refuse to withdraw further than 500 meters from your home due to two-digit sub-zero temperatures).

Therefore, my first natto-experiments contained not soybeans, but pinto beans, chick peas and white beans.
I am not sure what to make of the outcome though.
The natto bacillus definitely spread and grew and the beans and chick peas were soon covered with soft, slimy goo. Also, I survived eating that stuff, and it didn’t taste too bad either. But I’m afraid it was not much like real natto at all.

But when it was thawing yesterday, I finally dared leaving the house again, and I went shopping at another asian supermarket. It was much tinier than the other one, but the biggest difference was definitely the smell. They sold a lot of very exotic stuff there, including all kinds of seafood, and I think that may have been the source of this very strong smell, that was hard getting used to (and impossible to ignore).

Aside of that, they had a very interesting range of products, including so many different convenience foods, also all kinds of noodles, soy sauces, rice, fresh, frozen and canned goods, sweets and also non edible stuff like pots and tableware.

Among other things I bought different types of rice flour, rice vinegar, canned seitan und some weird mock meat stuff, black beans and soybeans. The best thing though: as this supermarket is much further from the city center than the other one, it was also far cheaper. I’m pretty sure I will be a regular costumer there.

The first thing I tried was the mock duck, made of soy and wheat protein, served with noodles and veggies. I am not quite sure what to make of it though – I don’t really like the idea of eating something that tastes like an animal. If I wanted to eat an animal (or even eat something that tastes like an animal), what would be the point of being vegan?

As I have never eaten a duck, I can’t really say if it tasted anything like it at all. Actually I think it just tasted like wheat protein with soy sauce on it (which is ok, I like that).

Also, I soaked the soy beans yesterday, and today, after cooking them, they finally were ready for my natto experiment.

Right now they are in the joghurt maker, hopefully fermenting and turning into natto. If I follow the recipe, I will have to wait for about three days until I know the outcome.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed…