Friday, 21 February 2014

Testing New Recipes

The plan for trying 15 new recipes this month is moving ahead, although rather slowly. I am cooking in a frenzy during weekends. But during the week, it gets really hard to cook something new after I come home from work in the evening. 

Anyway, I have tried a couple of new things. First of all, I made this malt syrup. It was fun to make and it smells funky - kind of like sweet beer. I already used it for baking my sourdough bread. It tasted sweeter than usual and smelled nicely of dark beer - Irish breakfast style :D

If you're going to make it, remember that while you are boiling it, it will not get very thick. It's only once it cools down, that it sets and thickens. 

I also made cauliflower soup (good, quick winter food), coconut and ginger smoothy (eee...not exceptional), and also tried this quinoa stuffed portobello mushrooms. Quinoa is usually rather tasteless so I was very surprised at how yummy these actually were. The recipe is rather simple and is really a good idea for a quick, "fancy-ish" side dish when your friends are coming to dinner. 

The last experiment was with milk bread (or cha┼éka) which is one of the tastes of my childhood. Unfortunately, it was a bit led down. The recipe takes quite a bit of time (and some energy) which necessarily means that it is a special kind of dish. And the braiding is harder than it looks. But the problem for me was that my bread got pretty badly burned despite the fact that I looked into it 10min before the time mentioned in the cookbook (I used Scandalicious baking). My oven usually needs extra time to get things finished so I really can't say what went wrong. The bread still tasted pretty good on the inside, but the outside was burned. At some point of time, I will try the recipe again, but for now I am somewhat discouraged. 

For this weekend I bought some really good-class tenderloin (never in my life have I paid that much for 300g of meat). I am also planning vanilla extract and caramel muffins (see my pinterest board for details). The saddest thing is that I will probably not have time to make Korma this month. But hey, there is something to look forward to in March.

And what about you guys? Have you been cooking something yummy recently?

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

For the Love of Smoothies

I have recently rekindled my love for smoothies. I used to drink them a lot when I lived in London but back then I would use sweeten them up a lot with sugar or honey and add chocolate powder or ice-creams. So they were more in the form of sweets, rather than actual healthy, fruit-full snack.

Nowadays, I often drink them in the evenings if I get home too late to eat a full dinner. My trick is to put every good thing I have at home into the blender and hope for the best. And you know what? It usually works!

Here is my very generic recipe:

  1. bananas - lend the smoothy a nice rich flavor and creamy texture
  2. all kinds of fruits - I try to go for seasonal but I also use frozen strawberries or raspberries when they are out of season
  3. low fat milk - occasionally, I use yoghurt, fresh squeezed juice or if I have the time I brew green tea (not too strong), cool it down and use it instead
  4. linseed (flaxseed) - they are super healthy. Sometimes I switch it for other nuts but I like flaxseed especially. You can't taste them in a smoothy and they have:
    1. Omega-3 essential fatty acids - "good" fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects.
    2.  Lignans, that have antioxidant qualities.
    3. Fiber.- both the soluble and insoluble types
Occasionally, I also add a spoon of peanut butter or honey. When I get more adventures, I also chuck in a handful of spinach (what?!). If you only add a handful, you won't be able to taste it and yet all the good ingredients of fresh spinach are there. I need to try one time to make an actual green smoothy :)

This month, I am also planning to try this coconut and ginger and green tea goodness. 

Are you a smoothy lover too? What are your favorite recipes? 

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Nutty Sourdough

Yesterday, I baked this nutty sourdough bread as part of my 15 new recipes project. It's not 100% new recipe but rather a variation on this one.

Ever since I made my own sourdough starter, I bake bread pretty much every week. I bake it on Friday evenings so that we have fresh, yummy bread for Saturday breakfast. But, having baked it so many times, I am getting bored and so I need to start experimenting.

I've tried adding chilli (somewhat disappointing), olives (yum) and now the time came for nuts. Instead of the 2dl of flour that the recipe calls for in the morning, I add about 250dl finely ground hazelnuts. On top of that, I add hazelnuts cut in half and some hazelnut shaving on top of the bread.

The bread comes out lighter than when regular flour is used. On the other hand it is also less compact and falls a bit apart. The nutty taste is there but not as strong as one would expect. The sourness of the sourdough is less pronounced, which I like but it might be a minus for others. I would also advise using a bit extra salt than normally as the nuts seem to make the taste a bit too bland otherwise.

The one super fantastic thing about this recipe is the smell of the bread while it is baking. Truly fantastic.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

February Challenge

If you've read my previous post you know that I've been experimenting with challenging myself. Each month I try something new, something that brings a difference to my life, something that takes me out of my comfort zone. Last month, I sworn off sugar and it was interesting to try, I wasn't wowed by the impact of that challenge.

This month I am trying something more active. I will sample 15 new recipes, that I have not tried before. It is not a crazy challenge but I feel like I lack time for this in everyday life. During the week I often skip cooking in the evening and just grab a sandwich, even though I love cooking and it relaxes me. So I want to try to force myself motivate myself to do more of that. You can see 14 recipes I have chosen on pinterest. The 15th dish is going to be a nutty variation on my sourdough bread, that I dreamt of myself so there is no recipe.

The first recipe, and the celebration of no-sugar month, was this, gorgeous looking and yummy, raspberry swirl cheesecake. When I lived in London, raspberry swirl cheesecake from Sainsbury's was my guilty pleasure so I decided to try to bake it myself.

I tasted delicious although it was a bit more wet than expected. I went for a thick variant of yoghurt, you can buy in Denmark, called skyr, instead of fatty cream cheese. It made the cake healthier but not as firm and creamy. Next time, I will go all out :)