Tag Archives: Baking

Bionic Blueberry Buttermilk Cake

I’ll probably regret this. I’ve got two six-week old newborns that are happily fed and snoozing away. I too should be sleeping. I shouldn’t be baking. I shouldn’t be blogging. However, fortune is on my side and she has come disguised as my mother.

This divine woman has given up a few months of her life in NYC to come and help me care for the two new additions to our family. Over the last few nights, with a little help from a breast pump, she has taken over the dreaded middle of the night wake up call and fed our two little darlings. This means for the first time in over a month, I have had a stretch of uninterrupted sleep (five hours is a lot these days!) and that makes me feel like the Bionic Woman!

Sleep is a precious thing.

With all that extra energy I wanted to do something I haven’t been able to do in a long while: spend some time in the kitchen. This whole new lifestyle has pumped up my cravings for cake. Probably not a good thing since I still have about 10 pregnancy pounds to shed. But, I gotta have my cake!

Stocked up in the fridge was a container of buttermilk and a basket of blueberries. That combination called for a Blueberry Buttermilk cake with a spiced pecan topping. A perfect way to make the transition from summer to autumn.

Blueberry Buttermilk Cake with Spiced Pecans

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter (at room temp)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°/180.

In a large bowl, cream 1/2 cup butter with the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir into butter mixture. Add buttermilk and mix; gently fold in blueberries.

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pecans. Pour half the cake batter into a greased 8-inch square baking pan. Sprinkle with half the brown sugar mixture and top with the remaining batter.

Combine the remaining brown sugar mixture with 2 tablespoons butter and sprinkle over the top of the batter. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes.

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Berry Yogurt Loaf

Hooray, school’s out! Well, school has been out for a while, since February to be exact, when I went on maternity leave. There are a number of things I miss about being in the classroom with my kindergartens and one of them is cooking with the kids.

This is one of my favorite recipes to bake with children. Many seasons ago, when I was teaching 3 and 4 year olds in Milan, Italy, my British teaching assistant brought this recipe to class one morning. Since then, it has always had a cushy place in my classroom baking repertoire.

There are no fancy measuring cups or spoons, nor any lengthy instructions involved. It is however, very moist, tasty and my students have never turned down a slice. After demonstrating the recipe with the kids, they are able to independently bake it again without the help of an adult, except for the oven part of course. (It helps to illustrate the steps out for the kids on a large poster.)

Our alternative measuring cup

The children use the yogurt tub to measure all the ingredients for the loaf. They also use just one bowl to do all the mixing in. It’s a hassle free recipe, exactly the type of thing one wants when baking with a classroom full of children. The recipe is also easily adaptable. You can use different types of flavored yogurt and add other fruits as you like. It’s a win-win for all!



Berry Yogurt Loaf

150 grams (6 ounces?) of Berry Yogurt (one tub)
2 eggs
3 tubs of flour
2 tubs sugar
1 tub oil
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup of blueberries or any other kind of berries
zest of one lemon (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 180C/350 F

Prepare loaf pan with parchment paper or grease it.

In a large mixing bowl,
put the first 6 ingredients together,
with the oil going in last.
With a wooden spoon or spatula,
carefully stir the batter.
Gently fold in the berries and lemon zest.

Pour batter into loaf pan.
Bake for 50 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
Let cool on wire rack.
Add icing sugar on top, if you like.

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Maple Syrup Score

Last week, I came into a bit of good fortune, although it was somewhat bittersweet. Our friend Lindsey was coming to the end of her three-year stint in Prague. The greatest party planner in the world, Ms. Alli B., gathered up a few of her friends for a little surprise. We showed up at her apartment with some Thai take out and extra hands to help her out with the packing. In addition, we used the opportunity to celebrate her upcoming birthday a few weeks early.

Spread all around the apartment were the bounties of her years in Prague and of the exciting places she visited. Each piece told a story and highlighted a moment. Friends recounted events around some of the peculiar objects and narrated bits of Lindsey’s history as an ex-pat living in Prague. It was a simple, yet sincere and touching way of reaching closure. I believe not just for Lindsey, but for us, her friends as well. It is never easy to say good-bye to the friends we meet when living abroad. One never knows when you might cross paths again.

As we helped her sort out her goods, Lindsey was also getting rid of items in her pantry. At some point, she held up an unopened bottle of maple syrup and I immediately claimed it. Maple syrup is a highly prized ingredient here and it can cost a fortune. I was very happy to go home with it.

My parting gift...

It has been almost a week since Lindsey left. I have used the maple syrup a few times to top my pancakes with and for this recipe of Maple Syrup Scones. As I prepared the scones, I couldn’t help but think of Lindsey and her love for this sweet syrup. I never got to make these baked goods for her, but I think she would have liked them. We will miss her at our table, but she will never be forgotten.

Maple Syrup Scones (from the Rose Bakery cookbook:Breakfast, Lunch, Tea)

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 big tablespoon of baking powder
1 big tablespoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup of unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons milk or buttermilk
1 egg, beaten for glazing

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees F/ 200 C

In a large bowl, mix the flours, oats, baking powder,
sugar and salt.

Add the butter and rub it in with your fingers, until
it starts to look like breadcrumbs.

In another small bowl, combine the milk and syrup together.
Stir together.

Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture.
Then pour the liquid mixture in the well.
Begin with a fork to combine the dry and wet
ingredients together.
Then finish with your hands.
If the mixture is dry, add a few drops of milk.
If too wet, add some flour.
The dough should not be sticky and you should avoid
overworking it.
The dough should have a slight firm touch to it.

Dust your counter with some flour.
Then roll or pat out the dough to 1 1/3 inches thick.

Using a biscuit cutter, cut the scones out into rounds
and place them on a greased baking tray, so that they
almost touch.

Glaze the tops with the beaten egg.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

Allow them to cool before breaking apart.

Serve warm with some jam, or more butter
and enjoy the smell of maple syrup floating
through your home!

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The Magic of Magdalenas

Magdalenas

My husband and I just celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. When we met 6+1 years ago, we were both living in Washington,DC. We met two months after I relocated from the gorgeous land of Italy to the capital of the U.S. At the beginning of our relationship, I wasn’t exactly in the best state of mind. I was experiencing a bout of reverse culture shock. My reason for moving was work, but I moved to an unfamiliar city where I didn’t know a soul. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing, except that I had said “yes” to an excellent job offer. Although I tried to involve myself in a range of activities and meet new people, I remember feeling lonely and lost during those first few months.

That fall, I met the future Mr. Adventures, who moved to the States from Spain just three years before. Our paths crossed at a meet-up group for Italian conversation in a café at Dupont Circle. He says it took him 3 minutes to know. I was stubborn. Although I thought he was hot at first sight, the last thing I wanted back in the States was a boyfriend. I had plans to move back to Europe. But, he was cute, he was from Spain and we exchanged emails.

We hung out a few times and eventually I invited him over to my place for dinner. With my heart and soul still lingering across the pond in Italy, I barely did a thing with my new apartment. A few things were unpacked, mainly my kitchen ware and cookbooks and the only bits decorating my walls were photos of cherished moments of living in Italy. Stuffed in one of the corners of the apartment, were a stack of unopened boxes.

Interestingly enough, the few objects that were unpacked were items I had acquired during my frequent stays in Spain. Over the years, I took advantage of living a less than 2 hour flight away, to visit the Iberian peninsula and see my madrileña friend Laura. It was from her, her mother and friends that I learned a great deal about the food and culture. My favorite wine glasses are from Spain and they look nothing like the usual long stem tulip shaped ones we often see. These are just short, round glasses with a simple functional design that I adore.

When I served the wine in these glasses, the future Mr. Adventures was surprised to see them. After investigating my abode further, he was also amazed to see a Filipino-American girl with a cookbook from one of Spain’s popular TV chef celebrities: Karlos Arguiñano. Another funny discovery was when he found out that the reason I bought the book was for a particular recipe. He couldn’t believe it and felt like he was home.

Gracias Karlos!

When in Spain, one of my favorite things to eat for breakfast are magdalenas. I was introduced to this light spongy treat on my first trip to Madrid. That was more than 15 years ago. I arrived early in the morning and didn’t get much rest on the plane. To help combat the bad jet lag, mi amiga madrileña, Laura made a pot of strong coffee and to accompany it, she put out a small plate of these baked treats. Since then, I have been a devoted fan of magdalenas.

My husband believes that it was a sign. I believe that everything we experience in life leads up to something. I had no idea that 15 years ago when I tasted my first magdalena that it would end up having a role in my love story, but it did and here I am writing about it.

Don't be afraid to dunk it in your coffee! Que Bueno!

Magdalenas (adapted from La cocina de Karlos Arguinano)

4 eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place muffin cups in your baking tin.
Beat the eggs with the sugar.
Keeping the mixer on, add the butter and oil.

In another bowl, sift the baking powder and flour together.
Pour the dry mixture into the wet mixture.
With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, gently mix the batter going in one direction.

Pour the batter halfway into the baking cups.
Sprinkle a pinch of sugar on top of each magdalena
and then place in the oven.
Bake for 15-18 minutes.

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Oatmeal Pecan Apricot Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Pecan Apricot Chocolate Chip Cookies. Say that three times. That’s a mouthful, isn’t?

How to describe this cookie?
-Light
-Airy
-Crispy
-Like granola (brother’s two cents)

I don’t even know what pushed me to bake this morning as the weather in Prague has reached some incredibly warm heights. In between the sweltering heat, there have been spectacular thunderstorms, including flashes of lightning and drops of hail. It’s supposed to be June, right?

For the past few days, the thought of a combination of oatmeal, pecans, apricot and chocolate has obsessively preoccupied my mind. I searched for some cookie recipes, but didn’t really find anything that fit the bill. I went back to my trusty Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook, when in doubt that book always comes to the rescue!

I found a plain oatmeal cookie recipe and so I adapted it, not slightly, but a lot. The results were better than I expected. I love surprises!

Oatmeal Pecan Apricot Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup uncooked quick cooking oats
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 190 degrees
Grease cookie baking sheet

In a large bowl, cream both sugars with the butter.
Add egg.
Then vanilla.
Beat on medium speed.

In a separate bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda
and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture.
With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, mix well.
Then fold in the apricots, pecans and chocolate pieces.

Drop by spoonfuls, keeping them 1 inch apart.
Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
Immediately remove from tray to wire rack to cool.

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Not Just Your Ordinary Banana Bread

Guys will eat just about anything. At least the guys in my household. Before leaving our home yesterday, I prepped a few ingredients that I planned to use later that evening for dinner. I chopped up some carrots, celery, scallions and put them together in a bowl with diced pineapples and tuna. I wrapped it up and placed it in the fridge. I also boiled up some elbow macaroni and left it, covered on the counter to drain.

The boys (this would be my husband and my brother) were busy upstairs painting shelves in preparation for the babies’ arrival. I planned to meet my friend, Ms. Alli B. and keep a good distance away from the fumes. I came home six hours later. The shelves were almost dry, the windows were all wide open and the bowl of ingredients I left sitting in the fridge was scaled down to half.

When I pulled it out to begin preparing the macaroni salad I had in mind for dinner, my husband said, “Oh, we ate some of that. It was a good salad.”

“What?” I said surprised as I looked down at the bowl.

“For lunch. I had some of the leftovers from take out and then I saw that and we had some,” he responded.

“You guys. This is for dinner!” I said shocked that they would just go in and eat whatever they saw. “I was going to use it for a Tuna Macaroni Salad.”

“Well, it was healthier this way,” my brother joins in.

I couldn’t believe they just ate it, plain and simple like it was and that they liked it. Chopped carrots, celery, scallions, diced pineapples and canned tuna. I managed to salvage the remains of what they kindly left behind and added the macaroni, mayo and home-made sweet relish. We ended up having it for dinner, but I was still suspended with disbelief. Amazed, in fact, that they thought that I had prepared those ingredients as a salad for them. My guys will eat anything.

The recipe I am posting today has nothing to do with my story, except that the boys gobbled this up too. It’s the recipe that introduced me to my all time favorite baking ingredient. If you have read the blog a few times, you would know what that means: buttermilk! This banana treat is not your ordinary banana bread recipe, it doesn’t even have a bread-like texture. The loaf tastes more like a cake. It’s sweet, moist and you can’t just have one piece. It is another recipe from the lovely Parisian café, Rose Bakery. Do go try this recipe and tell me how it goes…

Banana Cake (adapted from Breakfast, Lunch, Tea)

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/3 cups flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease a large loaf tin and line it with parchment paper.
Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy.
Add eggs, one at a time and continue beating.
Mix in the bananas and buttermilk (and vanilla if using)

In another bowl, sift the baking soda, salt and flour together.
Then fold into the banana mixture, along with the pecans.
Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, combine and mix the ingredients well.

Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 45 minutes
or until your knife/fork comes out clean from the center.

Remove from oven and cool in tin before taking it out.

Enjoy with or without the guys around!

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Low Maintenance Birthday Cake

I am sure I’ve mentioned this before. I don’t like cleaning up the dishes, which is why when it comes to birthday cakes, I do adore this recipe. All the ingredients are placed and mixed into one bowl. Voila, easy peasy.

A few weeks ago, I interrupted my husband with a very important question. He was intensely curled up with Orhan Pamuk’s recent novel, The Museum of Innocence, when I said, “Can I ask you a question?” Sweet guy that he is, he paused to respond and gave me his full attention.

Here was the all important question: “What kind of cake would you like for your birthday?”

I was sure he was going to say something with strawberries, as he is a summer birthday boy and isn’t much into sweets. The first cake I ever baked for his special day was a Strawberry Shortcake and since then we have had other strawberry filled delights: Strawberry Mascarpone Cake, Strawberry Tiramisu, Strawberries with Chocolate Cake, just to name a few.

He looked up from his book and turned to me. With a thoughtful expression, he said “Mocha chocolate cake.”

I said, “Really?”

“Yes, that sounds good to me. I want something with mocha.”

Well, this was a first in our relationship.

Struck with disbelief, I asked once more “Really, nothing with strawberries?”

“Nah, mocha,” and he returned to reading his book.

No problem, I thought. Through many trials and tears, I have built up my confidence and relationship with mocha frosting. And I have, what I consider the best Devil’s Food Cake recipe. Why is it the best? Well, here are the two top reasons for me:

1) It contains buttermilk (my favorite ingredient for baking and it means you will get a moist cake!)
2) All ten ingredients are mixed together at the same time in one bowl.

It’s truly a low maintenance cake.

I quickly decided to make a devil’s food cake with mocha buttercream frosting. But then, the other day, mi amor throws a curveball at me. When discussing plans for his birthday, he says he really didn’t want a cake. He just wanted to go home and have some ice cream. I said, “Do you want me to make you an ice cream cake?”

“No, just plain ice cream,” he says.

I just couldn’t accept it. We couldn’t have a birthday without a birthday cake, especially since I already devised a plan for it. I was really looking forward to sinking my teeth into that moist chocolate cake and coffee frosting. So, this year we shall have both. We shall have ice cream and eat our cake too!

(Tip! Best if made a day in advance. The chocolate flavor will intensify!)

Devil’s Food Cake with Mocha Buttercream Frosting (adapted from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook)

Cake:
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
3 ounces or 3 squares of unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon double-action baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

Place all the ingredients into one large mixing bowl.
With mixer, begin at low-speed.
Stop constantly to mix batter with a rubber spatula
to make sure all the ingredients are well combined.
When the batter looks well mixed, increase the mixer
speed to high and beat for 5 minutes.

Divide the batter into the two pans.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the center
comes out clean with a toothpick or fork.
Cool pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.
Then remove from pans and let it cool
completely.

Mocha Buttercream Frosting

1 16 ounce package of confectioner’s sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa
1/3 cup hot coffee

In a large bowl, mix at medium speed.
Beat all the ingredients until very smooth, add a little more coffee is necessary.

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Egg and Cheese Buttermilk Biscuit Breakfast Sandwich

While my dear husband was still deep asleep, (probably replaying the Barcelona win over Manchester United in the Championship League match in his dreams) I got up very early on Sunday morning. I couldn’t help it. The sun’s rays managed to peep in through our heavy curtains all before 5 am and it forced me out of bed.

That’s all right because I love Sunday mornings. I love breakfast. I love Sunday morning breakfasts. And on this Sunday, a savory southern inspired Sunday breakfast was calling.

The most delicious biscuits I have ever tasted were in Nashville, TN. Last summer, I visited my friend Julie, in her hometown a.k.a. Cashville for the very first time. I couldn’t wait to indulge in some good ol’ Southern food. As soon as we arrived, we made plans for dinner. We went to the Loveless Cafe. It used to be both a motel and café, but in recent years it was reconstructed to function solely as a restaurant because of the high demand of satisfied customers, both local and from out-of-town. From what I heard, there is always a line of diners waiting outside to eat at the Loveless Cafe. And for a very good reason, they make the most deliciously, moist, fluffy and buttery ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT biscuits and accompanied by a side of homemade jam! Did I mention that it was all-you-can-eat biscuits???!!! In addition to the satisfyingly tasty biscuits, the rest of their Southern dishes are worth the wait and the calories.

Loveless Cafe's all-you-can-eat biscuits!

I have been endlessly searching the internet for their biscuit recipe, but no luck. While I was there, I did take a peek at their cafe’s cookbook, but it didn’t include the biscuits. In my opinion, it seemed fruitless to purchase the book without that coveted recipe, which I learned, has long been kept a secret. It’s a bit selfish, don’t you think?

So, on this morning I was dreaming of biscuits, made with buttermilk of course! Sadly, I had to settle for this recipe, which I can’t remember where I got it from. It was tucked away in my tattered notebook of recipes that I have collected over the years. It doesn’t match the quality of biscuits served at the Loveless Cafe, but I don’t think I’ll ever come across anything that ever will. But for now, on this Sunday morning, these baked treats did serve us well. Their buttery scent drifted upwards from the oven, which did stir my dear husband out of bed and down the stairs to our dining table, where awaiting him was an egg and cheese buttermilk biscuit with his usual cup of coffee.

Biscuit Sandwiches with Oven Roasted Potatoes

Buttermilk Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk, plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Sift dry ingredients together.
Using your fingers, add the butter to the flour mixture.
It should resemble a coarse breadcrumb like meal.
Then with a wooden spoon, stir in the buttermilk.
Mix well and shape into a ball.

On a lightly floured surface, place the ball of flour
and gently knead the dough about 10 times.
Flatten the dough out and stamp out biscuits about
2 1/2 inches high.
Gather the rest of the dough and repeat until you
can get as many biscuits out of the dough.
Arrange biscuits on a baking tray.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden.

Egg & Cheese Biscuits

Use the recipe above to make the biscuits.
Cut biscuit in half.
Butter the inside of the top biscuit.
Add a slice of swiss cheese to the bottom of the biscuit.
Heat from the biscuit, should melt the cheese.
Add some scrambled or fried egg.
If you want to add some meat, add some ham or chorizo.
I’m veggie, so I added a slice of tofu ham.
Sandwich back together the ends of both biscuits and enjoy!

Oven Roasted Potatoes (throw these in the oven before prepping the biscuit batter)

10-15 baby potatoes, cut in half
salt, pepper and paprika
1/4 cup of olive oil

Heat oven to 450 degrees.
Put the potatoes in a roasting pan.
Pour the olive oil over the potatoes.
Season with salt, pepper and paprika.
Toss the potatoes in the seasoned olive oil
and make sure all the potatoes are evenly coated.
Bake for 1/2 hour.

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Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Heaven

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Cookies

From as young as I can remember, my dad has always had a sandwich made of two slices of toasted white bread with peanut butter to go along with his morning coffee. Peanut butter was definitely a staple in my house.

I love me some peanut butter too. I love it alone, with jam, with honey and I especially love it with some chocolate. And today, I am feeling naughty. I want to indulge. So far, I have been really good with my pregnancy diet. Even the doctor says I could gain a few more pounds. Therefore, I am going to allow myself some leeway this week. Not too much, just a little.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate: What a perfect pair!

I am craving something sweet, but I rarely do store-bought items. Star-studded bakeries: Yes! Grocery store: No! My mantra is the best baked goods for my body has to be the type baked by my own hands. Lately, I have been craving a peanut butter/chocolate combo and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is not what I am talking about.

One of my favorite cookbooks “Breakfast, Lunch Tea” from the Rose Bakery in Paris, France (a tres super place, make sure to visit when in Paris) features a simple Peanut Butter Chocolate Biscuit Recipe which I enjoy. One because it always satisfies the savory/sweet PB & Chocolate craving, but also because it is just a one bowl job! All the ingredients seem to flow one right after the other and the clean up bit is effortless.

Finger Lickin' Yumminess!

It has been especially hot these past few days in Prague and since I am on an little bit of an indulgent streak, I’ll bypass the glass of low-fat milk today and cool off with a Peanut Butter Chocolate Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich.

PB& Choc Chipwich

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies:(adapted from Breakfast, Lunch, Tea)

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 1/4 cups of soft light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
7 ounces chocolate chips or chopped pieces of chocolate

Beat butter, peanut butter and brown sugar until light and creamy.
Add vanilla.
Add eggs, one at a time and beat well.
Using a wooden spoon or spatula, fold in the flour and salt.
Mix the baking soda with a teaspoon of hot water and quickly add this to the batter.
Then fold in the chocolate.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into two logs.
Then place in fridge and chill for 2 hours until hard.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Grease baking tray.
Cut the dough into 1/4 inch slices
and place an inch away from each cookie.

Bake for 15 minutes.
Cool for 10 minutes.
Enjoy with milk or ice cream!

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It wasn’t my fault…it was the Pregnancy Haze!

I’ve heard about the pregnancy haze, the bouts of forgetfulness, your brain clogging up and the clumsy mishaps. But, I didn’t think it would happen to me. Just like an elephant, I never forget a thing! Yet, those hormones overtook my system and I can’t believe the consequences of what occurred when the pregnancy haze casted its net on me.

Last week, my husband and I were invited to dinner at our friends’ house and to choose some baby give-aways to take home. With my overflowing basket of strawberries still around, I happily volunteered to make a dessert. I wasn’t going to make anything fancy, just something light and easy. That usually means I would bake my “go-to cake”, a Buttermilk Cake with fruit topping. This cake goes well with a variety of fruits, such as apples, pears and berries. The strawberries would make a fine accompaniment to the soft and moist texture of the cake and adding a dollop of sweetened whipped cream on the side, wouldn’t hurt.

Dinner was delicious and the menu was perfect for such an unusually warm Spring day. Our friends quickly pan-fried some blocks of tofu coated in Italian seasonings, then baked it in the oven, layered with herb-seasoned tomato sauce and mozzarella. There was also some home-made garlic bread and a mixed green salad. I should have taken pictures of the food. It was so tasty, I allowed myself to two helpings. Heck, I’m pregnant, no shame in going after some seconds!

After the dinner plates were cleared, our hostess asked me if I was ready to serve the dessert. The cake was sitting in its platter and the cream just needed to be whipped. It took just a few seconds to get the fresh whipped cream ready and as soon as that was done, I began to remove the covering on the cake. As I did that, the plastic wrap stuck to my fingers, as well as some of the cake topping. I tasted the sticky coating that remained on the tips of my fingers and suddenly my mouth felt like I had swallowed a glass of ocean water!

“That’s strange,” I thought to myself. I traced my finger over a small part of the cake, tasted it and there it was again, that salty flavor took over my palate. I brought the cake over to the table and ask my husband and another friend to taste it. They both lightly swiped the top of the cake and tried it. “Does it taste salty to you?” I asked. They both shook their heads “No,” and I was relieved. For a quick moment, I thought I might have wrongly executed the last part of the recipe, which is to take a tablespoon of sugar and sprinkle it over the fruit and batter before baking it in the oven.

Sugar and Salt: how could I go wrong?

The cake was sliced up and triangles of it were passed around along with the cream. Hannah was the first to dive into the dessert. Suddenly, her head begins to move from side to side and she announces “Oh, yeah. No, no… salllll-ty!”

Note to pregnant self: This is where you keep the sugar!

I took a bite of mine and indeed I had mistaken the salt for sugar when making the cake. Hannah suggested we cut the top of the cake off and dab the whipped cream on top. It worked, but it wasn’t my best sample of the cake, which happens to be my husband’s favorite. I couldn’t help but profusely apologize about the ruined dessert. Fortunately, our friends were both forgiving and understanding. Not to mention, that this was a very unusual display of my baking skills. My baking track record has been clean until this strange disastrous mishap. I just couldn’t believe what I had done, for sure I thought I dipped that measuring spoon into a container of sugar, but I was embarrassingly proven wrong. The only explanation for such an error of judgment could be an attack of the dreaded pregnancy haze!


Strawberry Buttermilk Cake
(adapted from Bon Apetit’s Berry Buttermilk Cake)

Heat oven to 400˚F/200˚C
Grease an 8 inch circular baking pan

Ingredients:
1 cup of sliced strawberries
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 stick softened butter (50 grams)
2/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon of SUGAR
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then set aside.

In a larger bowl, beat the softened butter with 2/3 cup of white sugar. Beat at high-speed until light and fluffy. Then add the vanilla and lastly, the egg.

At low-speed, begin to add a little of the flour mixture and then alternate with the buttermilk. Continue to pour small doses one by one, ending with the flour mixture. Careful not to over mix the batter.

Pour mixture into the pan. Then decorate with the strawberries. Evenly sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of SUGAR over the fruit and batter. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool and serve with sweetened whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Sprinkle with SUGAR!!!

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