Wednesday 20 March 2013

Beet hummus

There are certain ingredients which tend to be forgotten. Certain foods which not only we never cook, but also we hardly know what to do with them. Parsnip, radish, red cabbage and beets, among others, are on my list. I never buy them, but sometimes they appear in my fridge (as part of the organic food basket) and then I have to look for the best manner to cook them. This week has been radish and beets turn. The firsts are still there; the beets have been converted to an original and delicious recipe, which  enlarges my official list of recipes from now on, not because of the recipe, but also because it has turned to be a very healthy food. 

These situations are great chances to discover and taste new flavours and recipes. And, sometimes these recipes, which come unintentionally, arrive to stay. This is one of these.

I am not sure if I have ever told you I am absolutely obsessed with hummus. I love it. I eat hummus every week and more than once. Thousands of different recipes and combinations, and a unique way of eating legumes. The colour of beets makes it really beautiful and appetizing, and it gives an extra point of creaminess. A perfect recipe as an appetizer with toast or pita bread.

Beet hummus
- 2 beets
- 1/2 onion, chopped.
- 7oz chickpeas cooked.
- 1 tbsp tahini
- olive oil
- lemon juice
- salt

Clean the beets perfectly, cover with water in a saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes or until they are tender. Let them cool. Meanwhile, sauté the onion until soft and lightly golden. Place the beet, the onion and the chickpeas in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pulse again. Check and season if necessary. 

Serve with toast or pita bread. My recommendation: serve on a toast with melted camembert. Delicious.

Friday 8 March 2013

Rose cake

Last Friday was my birthday, I turned 27. Despite some stomach problems I decided to make my birthday cake although it wasn't a red velvet cake, as I initially had been thinking, but a basic vanilla cake with rose decoration.

I don't really feel like telling what supposes for me to have turned 27, nor think about what I'll do or won't do, what I want or don't want... I don't want to, but I don’t lye if I say that during the last few weeks, even months, these questions have been occupying my whole time and energy. What I want here, now, is just to be positive and keep going on, trusting in myself and in people around me and to celebrate these 27 years, accepting them as best as possible. And this cake really helps me... of course it does!

Today's cake is a vanilla rose cake filled with cream cheese and strawberry jam. I used an old recipe for the basic cake which I don't know from it came from. The truth is that after making some different recipes for these kinds of cakes, I have decided I'll always use my "genoise" recipe, which is butter free. I haven't found any other better than that.

For the rose decoration you can find lots of tutorials on the net, but I have to say it's a really easy technique. I recommend you to practice with some roses before starting with the cake.

Rose cake

For the cake:
- 2 cup (250g) flour
- 1 cup (225g) sugar
- 2/3 cup butter at room temperature. 
- 4 eggs
- 2/4 cup milk
- 1tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180º. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, the salt and the baking powder. In another bowl, separate the egg yolks and the whites and whip these egg whites on high speed until peaks form. Reserve. 

In a large bowl, beat the butter for two minutes, add sugar and keep beating until the mixture becomes creamy and pale yellow. Add the egg yolks, one by one, until it is perfectly combined. It is the time to add vanilla extract. 

Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until combined; alternate the flour with the milk until all ingredients are added. 

Finally, add the whipped egg whites and fold carefully until the mixture is smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 180º for about 45 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes before unmolding. 

For the filling: 

- 1 cup (250g) cream cheese.
- 1 tbsp strawberry puree
- 1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the cream cheese with the strawberry puree until smooth.

For the buttercream frosting:

- 1 cup (250g) butter. 
- 1 cup and 1/3 caster sugar.
- 1 tbsp strawberry puree
- 1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the butter until creamy and yellow pale; add the caster sugar, slowly, while beating. Add the vanilla extract and strawberry puree. 

Monday 4 March 2013

Wishing for spring: Mixed berry coulis

Berries season is going to be here soon and,  actually, you can already find them in some markets although they are not too sweet nor too cheap. When I opened the freezer last weekend I realized I still had some frozen mixed berries so I decided to use them before enjoying the fresh ones, as well as to complete the spring feeling this sunny and warm weekend brought to us. Moreover, I found some forgotten crepes from the crepes cake I made some weeks ago, so it was the perfect match for a Sunday dessert: crêpes with berry coulis.  I'm not sure about calling it coulis, as I decided not to strain it and enjoy it in a more rustic way. 

It is a very easy and famous recipe that can be used with ice cream, fruits and other desserts as well as with meat. When I tasted it I automatically thought of vanilla ice cream with berry coulis, so this will be one of the recipes for next summer. 
You can make it sweeter by increasing the amount of sugar in the recipe, but I prefer to preserve the berry sour taste instead. You can find the crêpes recipe in the crêpes cake recipe

Berry coulis
- 250g mixed berries.
- 50g brown sugar
- 2 tbs lemon juice

Place the mixed berries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium pan and bring to simmer during five minutes or until the sugar is dissolved and berries are warm and soft. You can blend and strain it if you prefer a thin sauce. 

Friday 1 March 2013

Cauliflower and leek soup

The other day I heard a woman who said she knew if she had been eating well by the state of the fridge at the end of the week: if empty, it had been a healthy week; if it was full, it meant too precooked food or eating out. I totally identify with that. I feel comfortable when I open the fridge and find nothing there; in fact, it is almost obsessing, I don't want to throw away food. 

But sometimes, especially if it has been a busy week with not enough time to cook, I have to deal with some ingredients and try to find the better recipe to use them. And sometimes, I find it. This recipe is the perfect example. This soup has a smooth texture and delicate flavour, very wintery, a warm solution for these rainy days. 

Cauliflower and leek soup

- Cauliflower cut into florets
- Leeks cut into round slices.
- Sliced potato
- Olive oil
- Salt
- Water
- Milk or cream cheese. 

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. First of all, add leeks and cook while stirring during three or four minutes until softened. Add potato and cauliflower and cook for five more minutes before adding the water (or stock) until covering all the ingredients. Season with salt and simmer for twenty minutes or until potato is tender. Let it cool slightly before beating until creamy and smoothie. You can add two tablespoons of cream cheese or milk to soft it. Season it with salt and pepper if necessary. 

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