DB: Maple Mousse and meringue

The challenge in April for the Daring Bakers was to make a maple mouse in an edible container. We made meringue cups following this recipe and the mousse. Both delicious. A great dessert. We modified a bit the mousse as we did not have gelatin, so we used Kuzu instead, letting it come to a simmer after its addition.

Spring in food (II): Asparagus

We continue with the series “Spring in food” with another great ingredient that appears with the spring: asparagus.

Again I will be updating this post as long as the asparagus are available.

Let us start with the recipes we are making this season:

    We begin once more with a favorite and a classic: Asparagi alla Bismarck, typical of the Lombardy region. This is a simple and great way of enjoying green asparagus. Eggs are always a great partner of asparagus! One similar recipe is found here.

    Asparagus and leek soup: a very nice recipe of Jamie Oliver. You could filter it if you want to make sure not to get any fibers in the soup. We had some lamb leftovers as a second course so we left the soup simple, but I am sure it is great with poached eggs and crostini.

Spring in food (I): Ramsons (Wild leek – Bärlauch)

There are so many things of spring that make us just feel right. The air, the plants awaking from winter, the little flowers popping everywhere…

Also in the kitchen we are grateful to greet a new season and enjoy some of the great ingredients that now become available. Some of these ingredients are now in season but only for a short time, so we try to take as much advantage of them now and I must say that we truly enjoy them. Probably even more than others because we now it is not lasting many weeks.

One of the ingredients I’m referring to is the wild garlic (Bärlauch, aglio orsino, allium ursinum or ajo de oso). I will be updating this post during the weeks we find it at our local market to report on the recipes we make with it.

    To start the Bärlauch season we made a Bärlauch pesto. It is one of our favorite kinds of pesto. I just love it. You can then have it with pasta, potatoes, rice, cereals, bread or in a salad. It really keeps all the flavor and aroma of the leaves. To make the pesto just add the coarsely chopped leaves in a food processor together with a pinch of salt, roasted nuts (we used pine nuts this time but it is also great with almonds, cashew nuts, etc), a bit of lemon juice, freshly grated Parmesan cheese and olive oil. You will probably have to add more olive oil during the process, and just taste it and vary the quantities as you like.

    This week we made Bärlauchspätzle. They are really good and easy to make (well it does take some more time than making a pesto). Just make the Spätzle with the recipe you like, but instead of water you add Bärlauch-water: with your stand mixer puree the Bärlauch-leaves with some water (just enough to get a smooth texture), you will then add more water if the dough needs it, but we do not want to leave out any of the precious Bärlauch-water. In this way the flavor of the Bärlauch is much milder, but on the other hand that is a great thing for smaller children.

Kerchief for Lilli

I made a kerchief for a birthday of a pretty little girl, we are glad to know. I followed a free pattern (Olivia Kerchief) by Ingvild Ree-Pedersen in ravelry. You can see all the details of the project there. It was a great little project for me: quick and at the same time allowed me to learn a bunch of new things: i-cord, many of the basic stitches for lace, and what blocking is. Just great, I could not have been happier doing it.

Here is a picture of the kerchief while blocking it. It seems to be very important to have a nice final appearance.

FFwD: Mustard Batons and Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak

Mustard batons for FFwD: such an easy and good . We used bavarian mustard which made them somehow sweet. Next time we will try with a strong Dijon mustard, or with tapenade. Anyway it will be good! The recipe can be found in Dorie’s blog.

Even more special has been the recipe we made today: the pepper steak. Very very nice! And great: it was our first flambé: the flames were over a meter high but it is really quick. The match lights the evaporated gas (we used Grappa, not Cognac), so you do not need to put it too close.

Apfelstrudel

Apfelstrudel is for me the symbol of German, or better Austrian, bakery. Legends about the art of making the dough so thin that one can clearly see through, (enough to read a newspaper) kept us from the challenge of baking it. But, eventually we did it. Who knows, maybe it was not perfect, but fun to make it and extremely tasty. The recipe is also so flexible, you can fill the roll with whatever you like (certainly breaking all traditional rules, but one should dare), and simply …enjoy!

FFwD: Eclairs

During this eastern holidays we have been doing quite a lot of cooking, and it was the right time to catch up with a very promising recipe of FFwD: vanilla eclairs (pepitos de crema pastelera). How to describe them? Heavenly. They are soooo good and quite easy to make too. The dough is quite strange as it is cooked before (like when preparing a béchamel), and then baked. We made both long stripes of dough for the éclairs and thick dots for profiteroles.

Look what a nice color they have after baking (and without eggwash!):

We had for dinner the profiteroles with creamy cheese (I added very little sugar to the dough, so they could make also some nice savory treats). Our daughter loved them!

And the next day we made the vanilla pastry cream, and some unsweetened dark chocolate glaze. The glaze was too strong on its own but with the sweet pastry cream it was just perfect.

Quinoa salads and crumb-coated broccoli

FFwD in April brings again quite nice recipes to our table and a lot of fun in the kitchen. Here is the schedule for this month:

    April 1, 2011- quinoa, fruit and nut salad
    April 8, 2011- garlicky crumb-coated broccoli
    April 15, 2011- vanilla eclairs
    April 22, 2011- mustard batons
    April 29, 2011- bistrot paul bert pepper steak

We made the quinoa, fruit and nut salad for lunch at work. It was nice but as by the beggar’s linguine, it is not our favorite combination. Very good but just not our kind of comfort food.

The week before we had made another quinoa salad from WholeLiving (photo on the left). This one was soooo delicious. It is for sure a keeper, and we will include it regularly in our meal plans. Give it a try!

We have actually try recently this quinoa hash which is also superb.

The garlicky crumb-coated broccoli came also shortly after to our table. It is very good, not better than the usual dishes we prepare with broccoli, but for sure a good dish to alternate, and a great side dish.

FFwD: Break-up

The last recipe for March in FFwD (well, the one we waited longer to make), was a great one: Butter break-ups or a slightly salty very rich (read buttery) giant cookie to share with the ones you love. I cut a bit on the salt as I don’t like it so much in sweet treats, and it was just perfect. I also substituted the egg wash with milk, as I usually do. Remember those metal boxes full of danish butter cookies?? The break-ups come very close to them. Really a keeper, just not as a regular treat because of all the butter, but great from time to time and quick and easy.