Aug 30, 2015

elsewhere cocktail hour: peaches & roses bellini

i don't know about you, but leisurely weekends spent going for intricate cocktails are just the best. bonus if it's at a nice bar (i especially like english inspired interiors or ample hotel lobbies to go with my amaretto sours).

so, when kuoni - the largest swiss premium travel organizer - asked me to do a feature for their brand new travel and lifestyle print (eep!) magazine called "elsewhere", with the first issue going under the theme of "golden", i figured a couple of stylish cocktails along the notion of a "golden cocktail hour" would fit the bill perfectly.

basically, sipping something delicious and refreshing during the notorious "golden" (although some refer to it as "blue", though i never know why) hour - in the early evening, when the light is still lingering and golden, perched on a plush couch or lounge chair, either with a stunning view, a favorite person as company for inspiring chats or else, a good read, is my vision of a perfect holiday or simply a time-out. a good, cold drink can instantly transport you to other places in the world and cause you full-on wanderlust. so, i figured, why not bring the drinks that have such magic powers to your home.

i captured four slurptastic (and classy, needless to say) signature cocktails for kuoni's elswhere magazine. the first drink is a (slightly ladylike, but in the best way possible - and gents are not excluded, ofc) peaches & roses bellini, that you see here. then a classic cucumber basil gimlet*, that's will win you over with it's refreshing taste (almost like a grown-up smoothie, ha). there was a very basic paloma (basic, because the mexicans apparently sip that for lunch, so it has to be quick to whip up, haha), too, and an old-school muscovado mint julep (that was probably my favorite of the four). all not too complicated to put together - we are no bar tenders, after all, and all we definitely prefer to sit in front of the bar than stand behind one, amiright? throw in some complementary, hand cooked, thyme potato chips and you're good to go!

see the full feature and get the recipes for the drinks and chips here. you can even order your own "golden" magazine edition (in german or french). all other drinks will be featured here, soon!

this post has been created in cooperation with elsewhere by kuoni

Aug 25, 2015

chococo popsicles

summer isn't all but gone yet - despite the much chillier mornings and nights - but i'm already craving darker, moodier, more comfort oriented foods. if only for the looks. and what better to fulfill this mood than dark, intense, naughty chocolate?

me and my mom, we've always had one dream listed on the top. it has always felt kind of cheeky and only a little bit decadent. it was something as mundane as an ice cream machine. one, remarkably, that doesn't just make ice cream by having to freeze the bowl in which the ice cream is made in advance in a freezer. [note: turns out that's an entirely stupid thing to do, anyway, at least my utterly swiss rental home's freezer says so, which stubbornly refuses to hold the large pre-freeze container made by kitchen aid, ahem.] mundane, maybe, but mom and i, we know what's good, so we've been lusting after a proper gelatiera: an ice cream machine that makes the whole, creamy goodness from scratch, no pre-freezing or constant stirring until you go gaga involved. gelato, the italian way, is the stuff our homey dreams have been made of, forever.

and now my mom got one: a fancy, glossy, shiny new gelatiera. just like that! after years of lusting. and i'm slightly jealous, only slightly. but i will try my best to trick her into lending me her fabulous device to create dreams, rest assured. we've already tried a super sweet - albeit no sugar added - white peach sorbet. gosh... do you really need convincing? 

alas, the gelateria arrived in mom's home a little too late to create this chococo number here. shame. needless to say, it's a little bit like the calculation of times has started anew: pre gelateria and after gelateria. just imagine everything that's possible from now on? ice cream in the morning and in the evening, i am telling you. post gelateria, this popsicle here wouldn't be a simple popsicle - but much rather a ginormous, man-sized ice cream sundae tower thingie (yes, i just invented that). it would have been fab, but, you know... pre-gelateria popsicles it is... for now!

it needs to be said, though: the popsicles are amazeballs, too! and handy, haha! and so, so creamy (how is this even possible?). and chocolatey, but not too much, but just right. and so simple and fun and, yes, a little cheeky. fun, in one word.

if there is one thing i want you to note is that you'll need a really good quality dark chocolate. though that probably goes without saying, because we're chocolate lovers. so that's why i used lindt - lindt crémant noir 49%, to be specific - as it's really the only sensible thing to do when you're a swiss and you're brought up with chocolate and, you know, you love your sweets and only want the best for them. and the rest can be taken from there.

chococo popsicles - i.e. ice cream pops with chocolate and coconut milk
makes about 7 popsicles

ingredients for the popsicles: 
1/2 liter coconut milk
150 g lindt crémant noir 49%
3 tbsp. sugar (or to taste)

for the glaze: 
100 g lindt crémant noir 49%
spinkles or chopped nuts (i used almond slivers and coconut flakes), to your heart's content

break up the 150 g of lindt crémant noir 49% for the popsicles and melt them, on the lowest heat, in a small saucepan. reducing the heat to minimum makes sure you won't need a bain marie, instead. stir and smooth occasionally with a spatula. add the coconut milk and sugar and stir until the chocolate is fully melted and the color is consistent. pour into popsicle molds, add the stick and freeze for at least three hours or until solid. 

wenn the pops are completely frozen you get to make the best bit: cover them in a chocolate coat! for that, melt the remaining 100 grams of lindt crémant noir 49% on lowest heat (as indicated above). pour the melted chocolate in a tall glass and put this in a hot water bath to keep smooth. remove the pops from the freezer. if necessary, pour some hot water over the molds so the pops come out easily. dip each popsicle into the melted chocolate, about 2/3 up the way, leaving out a little to peak out. sprinkle with whatever nuts or sprinkles you have on hand, as decoration, on one side. place the finished pops on a baking sheet and pop them back in the freezer until the chocolate coat has hardened. serve immediately and enjoy!

this post was created in cooperation with lindt & sprüngli maître chocolatier switzerland.

Aug 22, 2015

ricotta stuffed zucchini flowers

i simply can not walk past zucchini flowers - or any edible flower, for that matter. zucchini flowers always leave me strangely torn between wanting to embrace their flowers and on the other hand leaving me to feel sorry for the zucchinis that are bereft of their beautiful accessories... i tend to ask the zucchinis nicely if they do not mind too terribly if i steal a part of them. gosh, i'm turning into crazy woman. hardly able to harvest plants, now, without a bad conscience... sighs.

these ricotta stuffed and deep fried darlings are very simple to make, albeit tricky looking. it's the ideal snack or tapas, makes for a cool salad topper or even decoration on a plate of steamy pasta. the recipe can be found on donna hay's site, and there's not much to add to that.

Aug 21, 2015

gooseberry cake with ricotta

hei hei, i'm back! back from our little summer vacay in finland - and already back (knee deep) at work. the holidays passed fairly quickly, then again, our stay in the rural log cabin in the lake country of finland, near kuopio, was magic and uplifting and also strangely felt like time stood still. i'm convinced nature does that to you. immersing yourself in nothing but vast lakes beneath and endless blue skies above, you can't help but unwind. i left everything far behind for 10 blissful days. of course, i've collected a couple of hundreds (or make that thousands...) of pictures. it will be a project of a different sort to see through them and pick the best ones to feature here and share them with you. 

so long, i still have this gorgeous gooseberry cake left in my pipeline (i'm not fooling anyone, that glorious pipeline isn't as long as i'd want it to be, but currently, there are a couple of posts left) for you to enjoy. for more things to do with gooseberries, try this cake.

ricotta & gooseberry cake
recipe adapted from muy delish

1½ cup gooseberries
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups low fat ricotta
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
A little butter & flour for the pan

Preheat oven to 180 c / 350 f. Line the bottom of a round cake pan with parchment paper and grease the rims with soft butter, then dust with flour. In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk well. In a medium bowl, add the eggs and vanilla. Beat with a fork. Add the ricotta and mix until smooth and there are no lumps of ricotta cheese. Using a spatula, fold into the dry ingredients. Mix well to combine. fold in the melted butter and mix well until all ingredients are incorporated. fold in most of the gooseberries, sparing some, and taking care not to crush the berries. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining couple of gooseberries over top. Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.

Aug 3, 2015

simple apricot tart with tonka

hei hei! while you read this, i'm definitely away on my little vacay. probably fishing. or picking blueberries. somewhere in the middle of nowhere in finland. blissful vacation. clearing my mind. 

meanwhile, back here on f+f, i have a lot of catching up to do... with recipes. i've got these couple of very nice posts lined up neatly - but i simply didn't have the time to post them. duh. shame. 

now, this tart is somewhat of a typical swiss dish. we call it "wähe" (silly word). basically a fruit or vegetable, sweet or savory tart of any kind. when baked, the tarte begins to set thanks to the curd-like ingredients that are being added on top of the fruit. apricots were in season - yellow ones and orange lovely ones - so i made this apricot version first. i'm planning on making many more to come. it's so simple yet so gratifying.

apricot tarte with tonka bean
basic recipe by elisabeth fülscher

1 pack puff pastry or shortcrust, for 1 round pan
a little butter and flour for the pan
1 kg apricots, halved and pitted
1/4 cup ground hazelnuts
4 tsp. brown sugar, for sprinkling
3 eggs
3 dl milk or half and half
50 g sugar
1 knife's point tonka bean, ground
10 g flour

grease and flour a round cake pan. roll out the dough and lay into the form. pierce thoroughly with a fork. spread the ground hazelnuts on the bottom. divide the apricots, face side up. sprinkle with some brown sugar. mix together the eggs, milk, sugar and tonka bean. sieve in the flour and stir to combine. carefully pour the mixture onto the apricots. fold in the pastry on the side if necessary. bake at 220 c / 450 f with the lower heat on for about 35 to 40 minutes. the crust should be nicely brown. let cool and serve warm with a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream. 

world's best focaccia

did you spy the label "best in class" this recipe has been filed under...? because this definitely is, best in class. it's the best focaccia i ever made. maybe i've eaten a couple ones that were a teensy bit better yet? but not many. either way, this is close to perfect. focaccia heaven!

and, as so often, the difference isn't in the ingredients. it's in the doing. extra love and special care, yes. and a super fabulous trick. all this time, i've had fabulous marcella's book under my nose on my living room table, using it for trickier stuff than focaccia (like home made pasta). all the while (snobbily) thinking i was in charge of focaccia, because my mom's pretty good at it and she kind of taught me everything she knows. i admit now that this is just that little bit better than hers. sorry, not sorry. hehe.

world's best focaccia 
recipe adapted from marcella hazan

1 kg flour
40 g fresh yeast
650 ml lukewarm water
3 tbsp. olive oil plus more for baking
1 1/4 tbsp. salt

for the topping:
2 tbsp. coarse sea salt
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. lukewarm water* (*depending on the weather)
a couple of rosemary twigs

break the yeast into pieces and dissolve it in about 100 ml of the lukewarm water. let sit for about 10 minutes. in a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour and salt and make a well in the middle. add the dissolved yeast to the well, cover lightly with flour and let sit for another ten minutes. add the rest of the water and the olive oil and start to knead the dough on the lowest speed and then gradually taking the speed up a notch until a dough forms. knead for 10 minutes. 

note: of course, marcella the goddess is against the use of a kitchen helper for kneading. but since i've only had a kitchen aid living in our household since a couple of weeks and i'm still rather excited about it, i absolutely wanted to make the best use of it. and it turned out super nice, as you can see. the good thing about making it with your kitchen aid is that the dough can really stay very wet and sticky all the time, which would make it impossible to knead by hand, but meaning it will render the focaccia more moist. 

turn off the kitchen aid and shape the dough into a ball. brush a baking sheet with some olive oil and sit the dough on top. let rest for a good 1 1/2 hours. 

after the indicated rising time, simply flatten the dough to fill the wohle baking sheet. you can use your fingers for that. let rise again for 45 minutes. 

preheat the oven to 230 miuntes. now press your fingers into the dough to create little wells. combine the rest of the olive oil for the topping with the warm water and stir very well for a while. pour the mixture over the focaccia dough, so that it fills up the wells. sprinkle with coarse sea salt. bake for about 15 minutes, maybe turn the sheet after 12 minutes. and after 12 minutes you can also add the rosemary twigs on top, simply to infuse the focaccia with its marvellous scent. a couple of minutes of it lying on the focaccia will do, no need to bake it from the start (it will only burn). let cool and enjoy. 

particularly nice served with a tomato and mozzarella salad that you've dressed with a bit of lemon juice (honestly), thyme and a good salt. buon appetito!