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!

Jul 30, 2015

flaky, buttery scones

to start things off: i'm really sorry - crushed, actually - for that long absence from f+f! it's been too long (you can tell this by spotting the peonies, who are clearly not late summer flowers, ahem... still very pretty though, and a shame to waste a perfectly good picture). uncharacteristically, i've neglected this space for over a week. and yes, i've missed you! the truth is, i simply didn't find the time to do anything "extra", i.e. anything from the category "not strictly relevant for living" - like eating and sleeping and brushing my teeth and taking a shower, every once in a while (gross) - these past few weeks... i spent so much time and also energy doing and thinking about my work that everything else kind of faded into the background... days turned into weeks and weeks into months where everything i did was centered around tasks and to dos. taking pictures on the weekend was the absolute maximum i was able to achieve. then, typing the words for the posts simply felt like too much of an unbearable task. besides, i would have had to do that at night, and everyone and their dog knows i love my bed and am religiously following my 8 hours' sleep regimen (if the world doesn't end). 

whatevs, though, back i am! and with a good recipe, too. scones! i know, i can basically see you eye-rolling, there and then. it must be my hundredth or so scone recipe, right? maybe. but this one is kind of special. not because of the ingredients - because as scones go, these just stay the same, mainly: flour, butter, buttermilk - but in the "how to" department they're different! why have i never thought of grating that butter and freezing it, i ask you? and then there's this sophisticated folding technique, which i adore! it gives the scones such a nice little wrinkle and makes them extra fluffy! brilliant idea.

the nutshell is: you should give these a try. either for breakfast or dessert (as shortcakes! with some strawberries and cream) or simply for tea. i'm not fickle, i always love a good, buttery, flake scone. 

besides, i will be off on vacation (finally! yay!) this saturday! we're going to the middle of nowhere finland with our friends. for some decent fishing at our own private little lake (although almost everything seems to be a lake in that part of finland, really, judging from google maps) with our own two boats to whizz from a to b, our own little log cabin in the woods and a private sauna! pretty much the perfect scenario if you ask me. i'll be picking blueberries (if i'm lucky) and turn them into the most delicious galettes and pies and muffins and tarts. and we'll be making sushi with the fish we caught. and... ah, enough for now, i'll tell you everything once i'm back! ...that is, if we're not eaten by mosquitoes (the stories they tell about them are horrendous). but i'm positive we shall live to tell the tale.

flaky, buttery scones
recipe adapted from girl versus dough

100 g butter, cold
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk, cold


preheat the oven to 220 c / 450 f and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. use a box grater to grate cold butter into a small bowl. place bowl in freezer for 10 minutes or until used. 

in a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt and baking powder together until well combined. add grated butter and, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly and meal-like. pour in the cold buttermilk and stir mixture with a wooden spoon just until a dough forms. 

transfer dough to a lightly floured surface; very gently pat into a rough ball. use a sharp knife or bench scraper to cut dough in half. Place one half on top of other half, and very gently press halves together, shaping into a rough ball again. repeat 3 times. 

gently shape dough into a rough rectangle about 1-inch thick. cut dough into 12 equal squares; transfer them to a plate and put in the freezer for at least 10 minutes to re-chill dough. transfer the scones directly from freezer to oven and bake biscuits 10 to 12 minutes until golden and fluffy. serve warm with clotted cream and marmalade or jam. 

Jul 17, 2015

new roasted potatoes salad with creamy aïoli

this weekend ahead is kind of a big deal for me... it's my godson's christening. i can't wait to spend time with friends and that cheeky, charming little button of a godson. and an occasion to dress up feels pretty good, too. currently, in that hot sweaty sweatpants state i'm in, nothing sounds more fancy. did i mention there's also a big local crayfish dinner party, swedish style, al fresco, to start the weekend off? yes, i'm a lucky girl. it's good to count and recount the blessings.

for this potato salad number that's anything but the usual and average potato salad at all, i thought why not make it from roasted instead of boiled potatoes? the result is an even more fragrant and definitely creative little (side or main) dish, perfectly suitable for your next bbq, potluck or picnic.

if you, like me, have shied away from making your own mayonnaise or aïoli (and what's really the difference anyway between these two, do you know?), then look no further: i found that adding enough lemon juice (at the beginning of the whisking) and some heavy cream (for creaminess and to make it more dressing-like) is all it needs to make a home made mayo look and taste like the real deal. 

new roasted potatoes salad with creamy aïoli

1 kg new potatoes
2 tbsp. olive oil
5 garlic cloves, whole
coarse sea salt
5 twigs rosemary
5 twigs thyme
1 yolk
1 cup rapeseed oil
1/2 lemon, juice
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 bunch chives, finely sliced
salt, pepper to taste

brush the potatoes with the olive oil, spread on a baking sheet, sprinkle with coarse sea salt. add the whole garlic cloves and the herbs. roast at 220 c / 400 f for a good 25 minutes or until golden brown and crispy outside. you might want to toss the potatoes midway, so they roast evenly. 

let cool, then remove the herbs (discard these) and the garlic (put aside to cool). when the roasted garlic cloves are cool, mash them with the flat side of a knife and / or chop very finely. we will need the garlic to intensify the aïoli! 

in a small bowl, combine the egg yolk with a good squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt. stir well with a whisk. now continue to whisk while you drizzle in the rapeseed oil. the mayo needs to come together ("emulsify") and turn a little more solid. towards the end of the olive oil, you can also add more at a time. now you can tweak your mayo to your heart's desire: add a little more lemon juice, some heavy cream and salt, and whisk well to combine. add the garlic and chives. season with salt and pepper. drizzle on top of the roasted potatoes and serve cold. 

Jul 15, 2015

macaron bread with raspberries and basil

this recipe by sneh from cook republic is basically it. not really that much more to add. it's a fun thing to play with the term (and flavors of) "macaron", because i'd usually never try to make these. but turned into a macaraon like bread (or cake, much rather), i'm game! sneh recommends you eat it toasted and smothered in honey. we did just that and it actually tasted amazing. half bread and half cake, it's the perfect thing for your next brunch. 

ps: the only things i adapted from the original recipe is that i added a little bit more basil than indicated (ooops). i quite like things intense (insert smirk). and instead of vanilla extract i used real vanilla from one whole bean.

macaron bread with raspberries and basil
recipe by cook republic

2 cups desiccated coconut, toasted
1 cup almond meal 
1 cup wholemeal flour 
1/2 cup raw sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder 
pinch of salt 
3/4 cup coconut milk 
4 eggs, lightly beaten 
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 cup frozen raspberries/berries
1 bunch finely fresh basil leaves, very finely chopped
extra raw sugar for topping

pre-heat oven to 180 c / 350 f. grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper. place coconut, almond meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine. add coconut milk, egg and vanilla. Stir gently with a wooden spoon until completely combined. stir through raspberries and basil. spoon batter into the prepared tin. sprinkle with extra raw sugar. bake in the pre-heated oven for approximately 45 to 55 minutes until cooked through. 

Jul 12, 2015

baked tortilla chips laden with pico de gallo

i haven't taken one day off this year so far. yes, i'm very much looking forward to our vacay in august by now! so on friday, it felt like the right time to skip real life and go to milan for a mini break with one of my oldest friends. we were chatting a lot  (all the way through to milan and back) and bringing each other up to date about everything that's going on in our lives. we ate the best stracciatella (a soft, kind of deconstructed, spreadable burrata, very lovely) and pasta, found a pair of shoes each (on sale, too!) and just enjoyed the randomness of a friday in a city that isn't home and each other's company. it reminded me that life is sweet. and short, possibly. so buy the shoes, sales or not. and eat the pasta, of course!

this home made (kind of, or semi home made, rather) version of tortilla chips is really easy to make and such a fun snack: just brush some soft tortillas with oil and bake for a couple of minutes. laden with a flavorful and refreshing pico de gallo and it's yours to enjoy.

baked tortilla chips laden with pico de gallo

1 packet soft tortilla wraps (corn or wheat), in eighth
1 avocado, finely diced
2 tomatoes, finely diced
1/2 yellow pepper, finely diced
1/2 bunch coriander / cilantro, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely diced
2 scallions, halved and sliced 
1 medium hot chili, sliced
1 lime, juice
1 tbsp. cumin, ground
1 tbsp. sumac
a little olive oil
salt, pepper, harissa

cut the soft tortilla into eighth. brush each piece evenly with olive oil, front and back, then season with salt, cumin and sumac. spread the tortilla slices on a baking sheet. bake for 4-5 minutes at 200 c / 400 f (maybe turn the baking sheet halfway through to provide even crispness). prepare the other ingredients as indicated and combine to receive a kind of salsa - called pico de gallo: tomatoes, avocado, peppers, red onion, scallions, coriander and chili, then dress with lime juice, a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. maybe season with some harissa, too, for extra heat. remove the chips from the oven and plate, garnish with the pico de galla and enjoy immediately.

Jul 8, 2015

eclaire tarte with strawberries

if one credo has proven to be a good one in my life, it's to strive for semi-perfect. seeking perfection isn't a virtue, instead, it steals a lot of time. semi-perfect is often so much less stressful and thus more healthy and more efficient, too. it's a lesson i'm still learning, as i'm often losing myself in details. especially when taking photos.

whenever there's a chance to "hack" something, in order to make my life easier as a result, i embrace it. making perfect patisserie, for instance, has never been my (secret) virtue. although i really like to eat perfect patisserie. for my domestic usage, albeit, i like taking the shortcut: this eclaire tarte fits the bill perfectly, and i'm so proud of my creation. it doesn't have to look perfect, rather, you can simply slather the choux pastry dough into a circle and be done with it. much like a pavlova, really. smear some good, ol' crème patissière on top, cover with hulled and halved strawberries and serve cold. 

eclaire tarte with strawberries

2 dl water
1 pinch salt
125 g flour
4 eggs
20 g sugar
1 pack crème patissière powder (or make your own, if you insist)
200 ml or more milk (as indicated on the crème packaging)
200 ml heavy cream, whipped
2 packs (ca. 40 g) cool whip (rahmhalter)
500 strawberries, hulled and halved

sieve the flour onto a parchment paper. combine water, salt and butter in a pot and bring to a boil. throw in the flour into the boiling water and stir heavily with a wooden spoon, until the dough comes together and is silky and glossy. remove from the heat. combine the eggs and sugar and break up with a fork. add to the dough, bit by bit. the mixture will first split, but by stirring and whisking thoroughly, it will come back together. this might take a minute or two. fill into a piping bag and pipe a large round cake layer onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. bake at 150 c / 300 f (careful, the oven shouldn't be too hot as it will keep the eclaire from rising) for 30 to 40 minutes. the choux pastry will puff up half way through. when it's really well baked and golden remove from the oven and let cool completely.

in the meantime, make the crème patissière. for that, simply whisk together the powder and the milk, thoroughly, as indicated. whip the heavy cream together with the cool whip and fold into the crème patissière. hull and halv the strawberries. "frost" the eclaire cake layer with the crème patissière (leaving out a rim of about 1-2 cm) and garnish with the strawberries. serve cold.