Apr 21, 2015

superfood dark chocolate nibbles

any excuse to sneak chocolate into my meals - or my snacks, mind - is welcome in my book... when it's not as bad for me i'm doubly euphoric, of course. these superfood (i.e. dried fruit and nuts) dark chocolate nibbles are good for you, minus the often involved guilty pleasure compensation. 

i created them for a special project i had going on with si style magazine*, a small recipe booklet dedicated to "beauty food" inspired recipes. naturally, when i spotted a version of these - and actually they seem to be all over the interwebs, especially pinterest now, hello, foodie trend! - i couldn't help but turn them into my own version, adding some healthy spirulina for an extra healthy plus. 

* unfortunately, it's in german and only available in print, but many of the recipes have or will be featured here on fork + flower. it was still very exciting to see an actual, real life, analog print magazine - with some renommé, even - feature my recipes and pictures. 

superfood dark chocolate nibbles
makes about 18 

200 g dark lindt chocolate
1 handful various nuts; like almonds, macadamia, pecan and pistachios
1 hadnful dried fruit such as cranberries, pomegranate aerils, goji berries, barberries
1-2 tbsp. spirulina seaweed powder

break the chocolate into pieces and melt it very slowly on very low heat, stirring occasionally with a spatula to smooth it. when fully melted, add spirulina and remove from the heat. let cool a little. with a tablespoon, shape little circles onto a parchment paper. garnish with nuts and fruit according to your liking. let harden in a cold place until the chocolate is fully set. keep in an airtight container in the fridge. 

Apr 20, 2015

grilled asparagus with burrata & ramps oil

this spring, inexplicably, i haven't gotten around to enjoying gathering my own share of spring's abundance. as a self-declared "herbal witch" and a big fan of gathering - see evidence from former gathering sessions hereherehere or here - i feel so ashamed to admit i've never even picked one leaf this season. and i'm afraid many of the wild things are already a bit "over" by now... 

in fact, the only time i've seen real live ramps / wild garlic (or whatever you might call this magic wild herb in your corner of the world) this year was during one (singular!) short (and admittedly painful, humiliating and exhausting) post-winter running session through the nearby woods. it was like in a fairy tale, though, the springlike forest that met us there. forest grounds and fields filled to bursting with leafy, vibrantly green wild garlic, as far as the eye could reach. and an intense, almost staggeringly garlicky scent hanging in the air. i didn't bring a basket for collecting some of the bounty, and regretted it immensely (though imminently, i've had other worries, namely my lack of breath). instead, the only rare bunches of wild herbs i've had in my kitchen this year came from globus' (my go-to delicatessen store). so that was rather civilized.

but i'm telling myself firmly that you can't have or do it all, and that sometimes you've just got to embrace semi-perfect over ideal (this holds true for so many other aspects of my life, too, by the way). what was missing in the nostalgia department by not being able to pick my own at least wasn't missing in taste: the acquired wild garlic was just as good as any hand picked one would ever be. plus, i've supported the economy.

grilled asparagus with burrata and ramps oil
serves 2

1 bunch fine or normal green asparagus
1 bunch wild garlic / ramps
2 burrate balls or mozzarelle, patted dry
1/2 organic lemon, zest and juice
3 tbsp. olive oil + more for brushin
fleur de sel, pepper

first, make the wild garlic oil: wash and pat dry the leaves, then chop coarsely. add the olive oil and puree with an immersion blender until the herbs are very finely pureed and the oil is of an intense green. season with lemon juice and zest, salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

wash the asparagus and trim the ends. pat dry, then brush with olive oil. heat the grill or a griddle pan.  place the asparagus on top and roast from each side until dark grill marks are showing and asparagus is tender but with a bite, about 2 minutes on each side. remove from the grill and cut into bite-sized slices, diagonally. arrange onto plates and season with salt an pepper. place the burrata on top of the warm asparagus and drizzle with the wild garlic oil. serve immediately.

Apr 14, 2015

simple apricot sheet cake

this cake is linked to so many wonderful childhood memories... my "aunt" tante used to make it for me, because i loved it so. the fruity, juicy apricots are probably not in season just yet - but in case of an imminent craving, frozen fruit works just as well. bout of nostalgia guaranteed! 

simple apricot sheet cake

500 g frozen apricots (halved and pitted) - or fresh
250 g sour cream
6 eggs - yolks and egg whites separated
230 g sugar
20 g vanilla sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
330 g flour
70 g almond flour
20 g baking powder
1 pinch salt
a little butter for greasing and flour for dusting the pan
confectioners' sugar for dusting

preheat the oven to 180 c / 350 f. grease a baking pan with flour, then line the bottom with parchment.  combine sour cream, sugar, vanilla sugar and extract together with the yolks in a large bowl and mix until foamy. in another bowl, sieve together the flour, almond flour and baking powder, then add to the wet mix. whip the egg whites together with the pinch of salt until stiff, then fold into the dough. pour the dough into the pan, then layer with the apricot halves (inner side facing down); don't press them down too much. bake for 35 minutes. let cool on a wire rack completely. dust with confectioners' sugar and cut into squares. tastes best on the same day, but covered well it can be kept for 1-2 days. 

Apr 12, 2015

summer dreaming

i know it's barely spring (although the weather has been treating us very nicely, lately), but i'm already in a summer state of mind. i'd like to go somewhere exotic, maybe tropic, or at least a little bit southern. somewhere with a beach with beautiful bright blue water and white sand. where they serve little colorful cocktails with tiny umbrellas in them. where i'd wear nothing else but a pair of fancy bottoms and a bikini top. and lounge on a striped pestemal and read a book. donning that rad "do not disturb" straw hat. min kinda vacay alright. maybe next year? never say never.

Apr 10, 2015

springlike watercress soup

for some, working out is the main source of energy, and for me it occasionally is. though recently i'm much more into "slowing down" while exercising, not pushing my limits. i.e. ballet and yoga do the trick. so graceful and cute - or much rather admittedly ridiculous and lots of fun, those ballet classes for grown-ups.

whenever i'm seeking energy, i'm usually falling back on the right kinds of foods to boost me. maybe it's just wishful thinking, but to me it feels as if a bowl full of greens gives me the power to sustain. maybe not to make things better, but to be able to do the same things longer (to say it with ovo's words, ahem). 

this soup is a sneaky way to include greens, as are smoothies (that's why i really like smoothies, anyway). plus the color is kind of therapeutic. 

oh, and these mattiola flowers? my favorite flower of the year. their buttery yellow or soft mauve is better than therapy. in fact, the therapeutic and soothing effect flowers have on me might be the reason why i buy them, in the first place.

this weekend we're going to ticino for some lush treats: wine tasting in a vineyard near the italian border and maybe handbag shopping, who knows? wishing you all a happy weekend! 

springlike watercress soup with peas and flowers
serves two

1/2 l vegetable broth (home made is best)
255 g (or about 4 cups) watercress
250 ml cream
1 organic lemon, zest and juice
salt, freshly ground black pepper, nutmeg
50 g sweet peas (freshly podded or frozen), blanched
4 tbsp (1 cup) greek yoghurt
1 handful watercress and edible flowers, for garnish

heat the vegetable broth. add cream and bring to a boil, letting it reduce slightly. in the meantime blanch the peas just very quickly (for about 3 minutes) and then drain and chill thoroughly in ice water. blanch the watercress briefly (just 1 minute) in the same water, too, and chill as well. pat the watercress dry thoroughly and chop finely. add to the broth and puree very finely with a blender until foamy. season immediately with lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper and nutmeg. ladle into soup bowls, then garnish with a dollop of greek yoghurt. carefully place the sweet peas atop the yoghurt and garnish with the flowers and some leftover watercress. 

Apr 7, 2015

carrot and banana loaf with cream cheese frosting

somehow i've been craving carrot cake these past couple of weeks, and never got around to making one. easter was kind of like the inofficial deadline (i take the rabbit's calling pretty seriously). this time around, i deviated from my standard carrot (only) cake, adding banana. and guess what? it was pretty good, very moist and naturally sweet. the cream cheese frosting makes anything better, so that had to be there, too, of course. 

carrot and banana loaf with cream cheese frosting
makes one large loaf pan

2 carrots, grated
2 ripe bananans, mashed
3 eggs
3/4 cups sunflower oil
1 organic lemon, zest grated
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. gingerbread spice
1 pinch salt
coconut butter and some flour for the pan

for the frosting:
2 packs (400 g) philadelphia or other crem cheese
2 tbsp. confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 pinch salt
marzipan carrots

preheat the oven to 180 c / 350 f. grease a loaf pan with coconut butter and dust with flour. grate the carrots, mash the bananas. combine carrots, bananas, eggs, sunflower oil, lemon zest and sugar. in another bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and spices. sieve into the mixture and combine well. pour batter into the prepared cake pan. bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a stick inserted comes out clean. leave to cool on a wire rack.

for the frosting, combine cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and salt in a bowl and blend well until fluffy. spread onto the now cool cake and garnish with marzipan carrots. refrigerate until used. 

linguini with barba di frate

having some time off over the easter holidays was so good for body, mind and soul... i took the "time off" quite literal, in that i unwound and enjoyed time with friends and families, and did not much else, really. needless to say, there was a lot of feasting involved, too. i'm feeling a little overindulged (if that's a proper word), so as of today, i'm focusing on drinking more water (one of my resolutions anyway), sticking to more fruit and vegs and minimizing my chocolate intake (which was heavily exercised during the past couple of days, ahem). going back to healthy habits is sometimes tough, but i know i will feel that much better soon, so i am focusing on the effects to keep me motivated (also, the notion of me in a bikini - which, atm, is a frightening though, no kidding - kind of helps, too). oh well, i love me some good chocolate, sighs.

this pasta dish here with barba di frate - or is it monk's beard for you? - is spring on a plate, really. intense in flavor and bite, the greens nicely switch up my pasta routine. add a little extra lemon - juice and zest - for extra freshness.

happy week & cheers, loves

linguini with barba di frate
serves two

1 bunch barba di frate
300 g linguini (i used monograno)
3 tbs olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 glasses of white wine
1 glass pasta-cooking-water
1 tbsp. vegetable bouillon
2 bay leaves
1 organic lemon, zest and jucie
fleur de sel
parmigiano reggiano, grated

clean the barba di frate and remove the roots. cook the linguini al dente in generously salted water. keep one glass of the cooking water and put it aside before draining the pasta. in the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and sweat the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent. deglaze with the white wine. add bay leaves and vegetable bouillon. reduce the heat, then add the barba di frate to cook until al dente, for 3-4 minutes. at the end, add the lemon juice and zest and add some or all of the pasta water, as desired. season with more salt and freshly cracked black pepper. drain the pasta now and add to the stock, immediately. discard the bay leaves. arrange on plates and garnish with parmigiano. serve hot and enjoy.