Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The illusionist reveals....

I am not sure if Neil Burger ever plans to release the sequel to his movie "The Illusionist" but my husband and son are already watching its making-of every second day at our home cinema - only instead of Edward Norton playing the illusionist role, they have me!!!!

They say women are magicians. I absolutely agree to the statement. We are born with this talent of changing things within fraction of seconds -  let it be our looks, our moods, our homes, discussions, and what not. And being married and a mother of a smart boy who is as demanding as his father, you actually get plenty of practice to polish these skills!

You might have noticed my recent "obsession" with morning delights (For those of you who havent or havent bothered to click the links: its been the main focus of my bolgtivity all this month of Januray:). Not that I had planned this breakfast series before, it was all just a result of the dull expressions that usually appear on the faces of my men on getting same things for breakfast repeatedly after a while. In order to keep my small audience more engaged and interested, I had only been making a conscious effort to add more variety to my morning show. But trust me folks, its not easy to NOT "offer the same stuff more than two days in a row".You just run out of ideas!

So, what I have started doing now is creating illusions by using the same old igredients and making them appear like new:P Check out the ingredients listed in the recipe below, do they remind you of any recipe Ive blogged lately???

2 cups plain flour
1 tbs baking powder
10 tsp fine granulated sugar
A pinch of salt
1/4 cup +2 tbs milk
1/2 tbs vinegar
1 egg
7 tbs cold butter (ca. 100 g)
Few drops of vanilla essence
3/4 cups dried cranberries (see tips)
1 egg yolk
2 tbs granulated sugar to sprinkle on top, optional

Yes, I am using almost the same ingredients as in the Best Pancakes recipe, only with a little change in quantities and a different cooking technique.

Cranberry Scones


Combine milk and vinegar to make soured milk and set aside for 5 minutes.

Sift flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Add in sugar and salt.

Cut the cold butter in cubes and rub in with the dry ingredients using your finger tips until the mixture resembles course breadcrumbs. Tip: You may use your food processor for this. Try to work quickly, few bigger lumps of butter are better than overmixing!

Add in the soured milk, egg and vanilla to this. Combine all the ingredients with an electric mixer (dough-hooks on) just enough to form a dough.

Also add in the cranberries and transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Tip: In case cranberries are not available, you may like to substitute these with chocolate chips, raisins, fresh blueberries etc.

Cut the dough in half.

Stack the two halves on each other and press down with your hands.

Again cut the dough in half and stack the two parts on each other. Pat down and repeat the procedure one more time. This will make your scones rise higher while baking.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle (about 2,5 cm thick and 6 cm in width).

Cut into small triangles.
Tip: In case you wish to serve the scones later, pop them into refrigerator at this stage until baking.

Brush with beaten egg yolk and bake in a preheated oven at 200 C for 15 minutes until golden and slightly crispy on top.
Tip: I have also sprinkled extra sugar on a few to add a little crunch on top before putting in the oven.

Remove from oven and serve immediately with clotted cream, whipped cream, lemond curd, fruit jam of your choice, chocolate syrup OR JUST PLAIN !!!!!

Let the new feat of magic astound everyone, including youself!!


Thursday, 19 January 2012

From a little man with pan

Blog has been updated with new images!!!

My little brat has been through a fussy, non-eating patch lately. No matter what I offered him or how I offered him, it didnt seem to awaken his appetite. After going through all the tested routes -  from ignoring to forcing, not giving anything for eating to bribing, I finally consulted the all-knowing Nano, his grandmother, who after raising five children from pampers till partner-selecting, and then helping all five of us in our respective roles of parenthood, is certainly the best advisor the entire family loves to rely on in situations like these. And there she has it again!

She has just made me realise that its basically me who needs to start accepting the fact that my baby is actually no longer a baby. The naughty little man is going through a phase where he wants to show his mom that he too has got some powers now -  power to refuse things, power to do things on his own, and that he needs a bit more freedom!

So, I am trying to revise my feeding methods now by giving him more liberty to do few things on his own. Yesterday, I let him peel the egg shells and the look on his face after discovering what was inside made me literally smile to ears. He has been helping me with setting the table for quite some time now but helping mom in loading the dishwasher is a recent addition to the "allowed" items, thus, a great motivation to finish the food on the plate without having the parents to struggle over.

The new therapeutic approach is working pretty fine for us and while my little prince is joyfully taking a well-deserved nap after helping his mom in mixing the batter for these beautiful pancakes today (by the way, we both enjoyed them in lunch), you may like to have a look at the recipe that Ive found lately on Coleen´s Recipes. She has named them the "Best Pancakes", and to be very honest, after having them made a couple of times during the last two weeks, I must confess, she had been veryyyyyyy accurate in her claim. These are indeed the fluffiest pancakes Ive made to date. Just ignore the images Im inserting in here - these are not as tall as Coleens for the reason that my darling helper had just overmixed the batter this time but if you follow the recipe PRECISELY and your leavening agents (baking powder, baking soda) are fresh, they DO puff up as much as hers ;) Update: check the new images!

Tip: Do check out this useful video on "how to cook pancakes" in case you no experience of making pancakes before!



The Best Pancakes 

The recipe makes only 8 small pancakes but you can easily double or even triple it to feed a bigger crowd.


3/4 cup milk
2 tbs white vinegar (5 % acidity)
1 cup plain flour
3 tbs sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (I took 1/4 tsp)
1 egg (M)
2 tbs melted butter
1 tsp vanilla / few drops of vanilla essence

First make the soured milk by combining the milk with vinegar, and set aside for 10 minutes.

Sieve together flour and the baking agents. Add in sugar, salt and mix with a spoon.



Whisk together the melted butter, egg, vanilla and the soured milk in a seperate bowl.
Tip: I have noticed that the thicker your batter is, the taller and fluffier your pancakes will turn out in the end.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add in the liquid mixture.

Stir until MOST of the lumps have dissolved but DO NOT OVERMIX. Few lumps are GOOD. ( In case youre also making it with the young-ones around, just forget about this - their expertise in overmixing batters wont allow them to stop!).

This is the over-mixed version produced by my little helper

Update: this is how it should actually look like...

The batter will have a thick consistency and that is exactly how you want it to be! Put aside for 10 minutes. You will see bubbles appearing on the top. The leavening agents are actually working together with the soured milk and producing
carbon dioxide gas which will then be trapped in the pancakes while cooking, making them rise to heights of fluffiness. Yes, my dears, that exactly is the science behind the tall, airy, fluffy pancakes that make you drool like a hungry puppy! Tip: DO NOT STIR AT THIS STAGE!

Heat and butter a frying pan (as flat and even as possible) and place about 1/4 cups batter on it. Tip: Use the back side of the spoon to spread the mixture towards the edges or just leave as it is!

Cook until you see bubbles appearing on the top. Tip:You may also like to add fruits to the pancakes while still cooking, Ive added frozen berries. Carefully flip with a large spatula and cook further until golden brown.

Serve warm with butter, honey, maple syrup, powdered sugar-cinnamon blend or any fruit compote of your choice.

Results of an overmixed batter

The real tower

Weekend is around the corner, if you havent already planned making the ultimate Eggs on Rösti, this one is another great breakfast idea you might like to try. Look at the cakey texture people, arent they making you feel like digging in right away?????


Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Banana meets chocolate

Once upon a time, there was a banana who had been lying down in the fruit basket for many days. Cursed with a little brown-freckled skin, the poor fella looked pretty sad and lonely as if he had no real friends in the whole world to interact with. His only sibling had already left the house a few days back to join a dairy association together with Mrs. Sugar Beet´s daughter, Crystal Sugar, from the neighborhood. Banana had heard people saying that the owner of the dairy association, Mr. Milk, was really happy with their performance, and chances were that he might be hiring more workers in the future. Tired of fighting back the fears of getting kicked and pushed around before even receiving a call from the dairy people, the poor bruised soul seemed like he was about to give up all hopes in life.

One morning, the banana saw new neighbours moving into the lower storey of the building. And there he saw a beauty that he thought could never exist. So elegant - so majestic with a beautiful brown skin tone, and a distinct shine. Banana was mesmerized - it surely was a love at first sight!!!!

He kept on looking at her with his eyes charged with the light of wonder, hope and passion while she introduced herself to the other fellows in the "Baking Street", but as he saw her shaking hands with old Mr.Walnut from the upper most level, he simply couldnt resist the urge to feel that melting sensation of her beautiful skin, and rushed towards her yard.

The sinfully gorgeous- looking brown beauty, who appeared to have gained quite popularity among the locals within a few hours, also looked upon him and said, "Hi, I am Chocolate! Would you like to be friends with me?".

What happened next is up to the imagination, but here is what I think the end must have looked like.....

Stop wrinkling your nose now, if you´re so eager to know the rest, then head into your kitchen and witness the love story yourself:)

Chocolate Banana Bread

Ive spotted the recipe a few weeks ago at Coleen´s Recipes, one of the greatest food blogs, I love to visit every now and then, tweaked it a bit according to what I had on hand, and the outcome was just superb - an ultimate triumph of taste and texture!


2 1/2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
Few drops of vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups plain, all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (ca. 180 g)

Sieve together flour, cocoa powder and baking soda.

Beat sugar, oil, eggs and salt with an electric mixer.

Add in the mashed bananas.

Beat in the dry ingredients just until combined.

Fold in the chopped nuts as well as the chocolate chips.

Pour the mixture into a greased, lined bread loaf pan (mine is 28 x 9 x 7 cm). You may use two smaller ones and reduce the baking time accordingly. Bake in preheated oven at 170 C for about 1 hour and 20 minutes or as Coleen says, until tooth pick test clean, i.e. you might trace melted chocolate on the tooth pick but no wet batter. Tip: I also secured my pan with the foil packs to avoid hard, crusty sides. However, this wont avoid the little doming on top caused by the too narrow baking pan. Cool bread in the pan for 15 minutes before removing the lining.

Immediately wrap the hot bread with plastic or foil. I havent taken any pictures of this step but its very useful in case you prefer moist breads.

Cut in slices. I like eating it both ways, warm as well as cold. But in case you wish to enjoy the flavour of melting chocolate chips in your mouth, heat the bread in microwave for a few seconds.

Enjoy the beautiful love story that had you wanting to know more;)


Thursday, 12 January 2012

Sweeten up your life...

My skin is losing elasticity, my eyes are no longer sharp as they used to be a couple of years back, my belly is always bloated, memory is absolutely unreliable and the hair on my head (whats left of it anyway) is turning grey. All the signs are actually making me quite believe that I am getting old.

My official age might be 33 right now but its certainly very frustrating to see yourself in the mirror every morning and find new things in there that need to be fixed. A little uplifting here - a little cut down there!

But if there is something that makes me feel good and absolutely young about myself, those are my taste buds. I am sure, they work perfect, and are absolutely efficient and expedient (as always) in categorising stuffs that I offer them into edible or avoidable groups in fraction of seconds. Test them with a delicious treat and I bet theyll dance and sing to celebrate the real flavours with the same excitment as they had always used to!!! And since theyve always been so loyal and helpful to me, I also try my best to make sure that they get their deserved rhythms and ambience to enjoy the sensations to the fullest.

When talking about taste buds, I actually have great affection for all the flavours but it is meanwhile no longer a secret which one of the four taste receptors is my favourite. When I think of making something, 99 percent of the time, it has to be sweet. No wonder, where these extra pounds on the frame are coming from!!!! But seriously people, I dont know how could someone feel happy about life without having sweets and confectioneries in it. And these words are coming from a dessert fanatic who has a family history of diabetes!

Apple Pie


300 +75g plain, all purpose flour
300g of cold butter, cut in cubes
1 1/2 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 tsp of salt
12 tbs of ice water

For the filling:
5-6 green apples like Granny Smith (see tips below)
100 g brown sugar (see tips)
100 g white sugar (see tips)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of salt
2 tbs plain flour
1/2 tsp (or a little less) cinnamon powder , optional
2 tbs honey

3 tbs apricot jam
1 tsp water

Mix  300g flour, sugar, cold butter and salt in a bowl using your finger tips until it resembles breadcrumbs. You can also do this in a food processor or using the electric mixer with the dough hooks on.

Gradually mix in ice water.

Dust the kitchen counter with the remaining 75 g of flour and transfer the dough onto it. Knead gently until all flour is used up. Tip: Keep flouring the surface to avoid sticking.

Make a ball. Your dough should look more or less like this when it is done.

Wrap with cling film and put into the refrigerator for atleast an hour. Meanwhile make the filling.

Wash the apples. Peel, core, slice and transfer into a cooking pan. Add in the sugars, cinnamon, flour, lemon juice and salt.

Tip: Granny Smith apples that we get here in Germany are too sour, this is the reason why Ive used this much amount of sugar. In case you are using apples that are already sweet in taste, reduce it to 65 g each.

Cook on medium heat with the lid on, until the water is nearly evaporated and the left over juices start to thicken. Add in honey.

Cook further and turn the heat on high. The juices will thicken and start to coat around the apples. Tip: You may use cornflour instead of plain flour. Itll do the same job.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Cut into two halves.

Cover one half and put back into the fridge. Roll out the other one with a rolling pin. Tip: Make sure your rolling pin and the counter are dusted with flour to avoid unnecessary effort. Also, the diameter of the dough should be at least 4cm bigger than your pie pan so that it will cover the side walls.

Transfer the dough into the pan. Ive lined it with baking paper to ensure an easy removing later. Tip: Best way to transfer the dough is to place the rolling pin at one edge of the dough and then roll it over.

 Place the rolled dough onto the pie pan and unroll the pin immediately. Adjust (dont stretch) it in the pan and trim off the excess edges.


Poke a few holes on the bottom to let steam out while baking and put the prepared filling on it.

Roll out the other pastry half. And cut into strips (about 2cm).

Cover the pie with these strips making a lattice pattern.

Brush with egg yolk. This will give the top a nice golden colour after baking. Bake in the preheated oven at 200 C for an hour or until golden and done.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for a while. Mix the apricot jam with water, and cook for a few minutes. Brush the pie top with this glaze. Itll give a nice shine, and will add a professional finish to your pie.

Serve warm (try with vanilla ice cream) or cold!

This ones for our new next door neighbours -  a small "Hi! We are new here, nice to meet you" gesture!