Buttery Chocolate Filled Muffins by Karolina

 

Every once in a while you just get that craving for something sweet.... or maybe a tad more frequent than that! This week we have a decadent muffin recipe from Karolina, an 18 year old student from Poland who runs her own food blog, Miracle of Kelwood. Growing up her mother instilled the idea that simple was best, and that certainly applies to the recipes on Karolina's feed! I encourage you to follow her story through her instagram feed and site!

Ingredients 

for 12 muffins

175 g butter, softened

200 g brown sugar 

2 eggs

300 g flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

a pinch of salt 

200 ml milk

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

75 g chocolate, chopped/ chocolate chips 

some demerara sugar to sprinkle

 

Helpful tools 

Hand electric mixer or free standing one will help to prepare the batter. However, large bowl and a wooden spoon will do the job as well!

Ice-cream scoop is really useful to divide the batter between the tin.

Directions

These muffins will last up to two days, or a tad longer if consumed with a warm cuppa!

Preheat oven to 200*C. Prepare muffin tin – either put muffin cups or grease and sprinkle with flour.

Put soft butter along with sugar in a bowl and cream together until light and pale in colour. Add one egg. Beat together until combined. Add the next egg and do the same. 

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and a pinch of salt. Add half of the flour mix into the butter and pour into half of the milk. Mix to combine. Repeat with remaining flour and milk. Then add vanilla extract. Mix one more time. 

Divide the batter equally between muffin cups to about ¾ of the muffin cup. Now sprinkle each muffin with some chopped chocolate and cover with about ¾ tablespoon of the remaining batter. Or, just throw the chocolate straight into the batter just before dividing and mix.

Put into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. After about 15-20 minutes take them out and generously sprinkle with demerara sugar. Then bake the remaining 5-10 minutes. 

They will be ready when they turn golden and crispy on top, you can check by poking a skewer into the centre of the muffins, if it comes out clean, they're done! Leave to cool a bit.

Enjoy!

 

Notes

  • Note for baking time: you will see if your muffins have risen and turned golden in colour, every oven ‘behaves’ in a different way, so I recommend you watching your muffins after 15 minutes, if they need 5 or 10 minutes of baking more.  
  • I used Demerara sugar in the whole recipe, but if you want you can swap it with light muscovado or regular caster sugar.
  • The amount of sugar listed in the recipe is the minimum. You can add more if you like really sweet muffins. I love sweets, but not oversweet (of course it is just my taste☺), that’s why the amount here isn’t high, and you can easily add more, around 50g or so.  
  • Go for vanilla pods if you are not a fan of extract. 
  • Use any kind of chocolate you want: dark, milk, white, even the one with nuts. 
  • An ingredient swap suggestion: change chocolate into raisins or nuts, add some desiccated coconut or poppy seeds, dried cranberries (with white chocolate will go super for Christmas)
  •   Topping suggestion:  you can top muffins with melted chocolate (about 200 g) and sprinkle with some crushed nuts (instead of adding them to the batter) or honeycomb. It gives a great crunchiness to smooth buttery muffins.

Gingerbread Scones w/ Dark Chocolate + Orange by Ashlyn Ickes

As Christmas approaches I start to think of new recipes that I can share with my family. Thanksgiving is always the traditional turkey and stuffing along with a few other family staples. For Christmas however, it's a time for me to introduce new dishes that I've learned or created over the past year. It's always fun to to try a new twist on a classic.

This week on Food for Thought we've got a great recipe from Ashlyn Ickes from the Pedantic Foodie blog. She will be sharing with us her recipe for Gingerbread Scones! How tasty do those sound? A few of you might remember Ashlyn from a previous guest cook post where she shared her Maple Apple Galette recipe (which I encourage you to try as well!) We're so happy to have this foodie back and sharing more of her kitchen stories!

 

Ingredients

makes 8 large scones / recipe slightly adapted from Joy Of Cooking

- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

- 1 tablespoon baking powder

- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice

- 3 teaspoons orange zest

- 1/3 cup brown sugar

- 1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut into cubes

- 3/4 cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing

- 1 large egg

- 2 tablespoons molasses

- 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate

- turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

1. In a large bowl sift to combine flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, and ground

spices. Add orange zest.

2. Using the tips of your fingers or a pastry cutter, work the cold butter into flour mixture until

the butter is in pea-sized pieces.

3. In a separate bowl whisk cream, molasses, and egg until well combined.

4. Fold wet mixture into dry ingredients using a spatula. Add dark chocolate. Remove the

dough from the bowl and form a disc. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate

for 20 minutes.

5. Place the dough on a floured surface and roll out to 1-inch thickness. Cut the dough

into 8 rectangles and place the scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Brush

the top of each scone with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.

6. Bake the scones for 15-20 minutes or until deep golden brown.

Enjoy!


Toasted Fennel & Citrus Loaf Cake with Orange Blossom Icing

As this year comes to a close, it's also a time for reflection. And what better way to relax and reflect than with a warm cuppa and a slice of cake? This month we will be giving you the goods on cake and sharing some of our favourite recipes with you. We were able to catch up with Hazel who has put together a delicious, and slightly different cake recipe for us, blending the sweet flavour of the orange blossom icing with the savoury flavour of the toasted fennel seeds.

I encourage you to take a peek at Hazel's instagram and stellar profile to discover more of her delectable recipes. Her images are lovely and will inspire you to get in the kitchen and create!  

Fennel seeds, I love everything about them. They are immensely versatile and flavourful, they can be used effortlessly across savoury and sweet applications.  I’ve always used them exclusively in savoury settings, from curries to dry rubs, sausage stuffing, burger patties and even spending a copious amount of time obsessing about its ratio in spice blends for Chinese five-spice powder and Bengali panch phoran. At least, that’s up until I discovered its beauty in baked treats. 

Toasting the fennel seeds lends a warm toasty-nutty profile with a whisper of aniseed. While this cake is fennel-tastic on its own, the citrus notes of the orange in this recipe pair perfectly with the floral and romantic hint of orange blossom water in the icing.  

Enjoy!

Additional Tools Required:

Spice Grinder or Mortar & Pestle

Microplane Zester

 

INGREDIENTS:

2tsp Whole Fennel Seeds

200gm Golden Caster Sugar

Zest of 1 Large Orange

190gm All Purpose Plain Flour

1.5tsp Double Acting Baking Powder

0.5tsp Baking Soda

0.5tsp Sea Salt

60ml Strained, Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

120ml Olive Oil

120ml Naturally Set Yogurt

0.5tsp Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract

2 Large Eggs

125gm Icing Sugar, sifted

2tbsp Fresh Whole Milk

1tsp Orange Blossom Water

0.5tsp Whole Fennel Seeds, toasted (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 190degC.

Grease an 8.5” x 4.5” loaf pan and set aside.

2. Over a medium flame, toast the fennel seeds in a skillet till it browns slightly and gives off a nutty toasted aroma.  It takes approximately 2-4 minutes.  Remove from heat, let cool slightly and grind to a fine powder using either a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.

3. In a small bowl, rub the orange zest into the golden caster sugar and set aside to infuse that aromatic citrus oil into the sugar.

4. Sift the all purpose plain flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt and 2 teaspoons of toasted ground fennel powder into a large mixing bowl.

5. To a medium size bowl, add the orange juice, olive oil, yogurt, eggs, vanilla extract and infused sugar.  Whisk thoroughly to combine.

6. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and with a silicon spatula, gently fold the mixture until just combined.

7. Pour batter into the greased loaf pan and bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle emerges clean.

8. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before unmoulding onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

9. To make the icing, whisk the sifted icing sugar with the milk and orange blossom water till smooth and of desired consistency. Pour over the completely cooled loaf cake.                  

10. Sprinkle a half a teaspoon of toasted whole fennel on top (optional). Let the icing set.  Enjoy with your favourite cup of tea.

NOTES:

  • Ingredient swap suggestion 1: To make an Orange & Cardamom Loaf Cake, substitute ground fennel for 1tsp freshly ground cardamom.
  • Ingredient swap suggestion 2:  The zest and juice of blood oranges may be used in place of regular oranges. It gives the icing a beautiful crimson-pink hue and evokes a sense of sunny summer days.
  • Alternative serving suggestion: Omit the icing. Serve with whipped cream and orange-honey compote instead.  To make a quick compote, set aside 4 supreme-d oranges in 1 tbsp of honey and 2-3 drops of orange blossom water for 5-10 minutes.
  • Nielsen Massey’s Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract and Orange Blossom Water are used in this recipe.


Sourdough Bread Recipe by Simone

For the past few months Food For Thought has been following Simone (@fraeuleinsonntag)and her bread stories on instagram. It's been such a treat to watch each story unfold and read her thoughts on bread and the community surrounding it.  We hope this post encourages you to get back to good grains and maybe even start your own bread community! 

All images were taken by Simone, you can follow her story through her Instagram or her Steller Stories account. 

Even though Germany has a very strong bread baking tradition going back many centuries it is a trade that unfortunately is losing its significance. People seem to be unwilling to pay for good quality ingredients and time. Nowadays it is so much more convenient to choose from so many different kinds of bread in one of the pop up bake factory shops that are also almost open 24hrs.

About six months ago I decided it was about time to create my own bread stories and recipes. It had been a while since I'd last baked bread, and then I had been making soda bread.  My first attempt at the famous “no knead bread” was a disaster, well for me it felt like a disaster even though the bread tasted good the look of it was rather disappointing. My husband called it a “flat bread”, I went back to the original recipe and began making adjustment to fit my preference. Some months later it was time for what I call the real thing - “sourdough bread”.
The trickiest part is making your own starter (mother dough) and I was lucky to get mine from my lovely friend and the very talented photographer Marta Greber.

Many attempts down the road with a thumbs up or thumbs down from Heiko, my husband I've developed what appears to be the perfect recipe for us and some even call it the best sourdough bread they have ever tasted, so I get many requests from friends also to bake bread for them.

Making your own bread is something very special and soothing as at some point in the process you are all by yourself, when it is dark outside and the rest of the world is still or already asleep.

Baking sourdough bread requires good planning especially when you've got a day job like me, and my bread does not seem to care about it, saying that the dough is also very forgiving but does not like to be stressed or rushed.

This is a 24 (at least!) hours project and only the best flour is key to success. Here in Berlin, where my husband and I have been living for eight years I found a shop that sells Danish organic flour from Øland and I simply love its texture. 

 

Artisan sourdough bread (makes a two pound loaf) 

Ingredients:
For a workable starter
60 grams sourdough starter  (mine is based on wheat flour)
100 grams wholegrain wheat flour
100 ml of luke warm water

215 grams sourdough starter (you generated through feeding your starter)
200 grams wheat flour
100 grams wholegrain wheat flour
300 grams wholegrain rye flour
450 ml water depending on water quality
15 grams sea salt
12 grams honey
1 table spoon olive oil
1 handful of wheat germ
1 proving basket, cheese cloth and a pizza stone (optional)


Directions:

1. First you need to make a workable starter: Mix your starter culture with 100 grams of whole grain wheat flour and 100 ml water, cover with a clean kitchen cloth and let rest in a warm place for 6 hours.

2. Once your starter is active and all bubbly take about 215 grams of it and mix with 2oo grams of wheat flour and 200 ml of water and cover with a damp clean kitchen cloth and let it rest for one hour in a warm place (in the first hour of proving all the magic happens) after that put your dough into the fridge and let it rest for at least 15 hours. I usually let mine rest for 24-30 hrs.

3. Line your proving basket with a cheese cloth and now (this is a very helpful tip) sprinkle it with a mix of wheat flour and rice flour and the dough will later not stick to the cheese cloth.

4. Now get your dough out of the fridge mix with the remaining water which is about 200 ml, this varies from bread to bread as your dough reacts to humidity and other factors. Add the remaining flour, put it all on your worktop surface and work it for about 5 mins, it will change its texture and will become less sticky. Then add the honey and work it again for a couple of minutes. If you need a new starter culture it is now time to take about 60 grams off and store it in the fridge for next use. Then add salt and olive oil to you dough and bring it all together providing you with a nice texture dough (this can takes around5mins).

5. Cove your dough with wheat germs, this makes it also easier to handle in order to put it into the proving basket and it makes a lovely dense crust

6. As you shape your dough you will end up with a seam. Place your dough into the proving basket, the seam facing towards you. Sprinkle your dough with some more wheat germ and cover with a clean damp kitchen cloth and let it proof for another 2-3hrs in a warm place. With a longer first proving time I tend to go with a shorter second proving time avoiding that the bread dough get dry.

7. 30 minutes before the second proving time is over preheat the oven with your pizza stone oven tray in it to 250-270C (480F). For a lovely dense crust I place a heat proven dish on the bottom of my oven (this will be filled with boiling water later).

8. Once your dough is ready and the oven hot, flip your dough onto the pizza stone (it is very hot!) and pour the boiling hot water into the oven proved dish and close the oven door immediately as to keep the hot water steam in.

9. Bake the bread for 35 minutes at this high temperature and then turn down the heat to 200C (392F) and bake for another 20 minutes.

10. If your bread sounds hollow, doing the knocking test your bread is ready.

11. Let the bread rest at least for another hour before cutting it, the wait is worth it.

By now your home is filled with the beautiful scent of fresh homemade bread, so enjoy it with just a pinch of salt and butter.

Want to know a bit more about sourdough? Check out our article written by dietician, Heidi Sze where she talks all about sourdough and just how good it can actually be for you!

Soba Noodle Salad with Linn Thorstensson

In today’s fast paced society it can be so hard to feed ourselves well. Not only are you often strapped for time, you then need to make sure your meal fits the latest nutrition trend you are following hoping to become just that little bit healthier. And why is it that somehow so many people think eating healthy is synonymous with bland and boring? Or that if you are trying to lose weight somehow your tummy should be rumbling otherwise you must be doing something wrong? 

What ever happen to the most fundamental thing we all have to do every day to simply stay alive? You know; eating. How and when did it become so utterly complicated to nourish our bodies? We believe returning back to basics is where it’s at. 


Have you ever heard of just keeping it simple? Well lets do just that!

For Linn, it's not enough for her meals to just be nutritious they have to be tasty too! For any meal to taste good, you need the best of ingredients, the rest will follow. This type of meal is what Linn cooks on an ordinary weeknight, particularly if she's slightly short on time! All you need is a couple of pantry staples, a few fresh seasonable vegetables and you will have a nourishing dish in about 15 min. And it so just happens that this one is gluten free / dairy free / grain free / sugar free and vegan too!

Linn Thorstensson is a Swede living in Ireland. She works as a Nutritional Therapist specializing in helping people lose weight without dieting. Her nutritional services are offered both from the clinic in Cork and to worldwide clients via Skype. 

When she is not in the kitchen experimenting with different ingredients, you will probably catch Linn cycling down a country road or hiking up an Irish mountain.

You can follow Linn's story through her instagram and website.


SOBA NOODLES IN A TAMARI-MISO DRESSING W/ SEASONABLE VEGETABLES

Serves 1 

Ingredients:

1 bundle of soba (buckwheat) noodles – There’s usually four in a pack

1 cup of  washed & roughly chopped vegetables – anything goes. I’ve used broccoli & radishes in the past, here I have used French beans & baby carrots

Dressing:

2 tbsp. / 30 ml cold pressed rapeseed oil – if you have sesame oil it will work well too

1 tbsp. Tamari / 30 ml (wheat free soy sauce)

1 tsp miso paste

A pinch of cayenne pepper

1-2 tbsp. sesame seeds – as topping


Directions:

Start by cooking the noodles. Bring water to the boil in a sauce pan. Add your noodles. Reduce the heat to a less lively boil, this step is important for ending up with less gloopy noodles. Cook for 5 min, then drain and rinse in cold water and drain well.

Steam your veg while the noodles are cooking. Either in a separate pot or on top of your noodles in a steamer.

Make your life easy and save on washing up by making the dressing straight in your serving bowl. Add all the ingredients for your dressing into your bowl. Whisk it together with the back of a fork. Add in your warm noodles and toss until evenly coated by the dressing. Then add in your lightly steamed vegetables. Give the whole thing another toss. Sprinkle some sesame seeds over the lot for extra crunch. Serve. Simple as.

Note: You can also leave some of your vegetables raw if you like extra crunch. If you are feeding more people than just yourself then make the dressing separate in a bigger bowl and make the whole dish in that bowl before serving as individual portions. If meat is your thing, there is nothing stopping you from throwing some leftover cooked meat into the bowl. Go with the flow. The tamari-miso dressing was inspired by a recipe from Susan Jane White’s book The Extra Virgin Kitchen.

 

Maple Apple Galette by Ashlyn Ickes

006_MDJ_9292_small.jpg

This past week it has gotten decidedly colder as the October winds extinguish the last warm days of September and make room for what I like to call 'wooly sock weather'. This kind of wet and cold day brought on thoughts of the ever nearing holiday season. Luckily, we have a recipe from the lovely Ashlyn Ickes, of the Pedantic Foodie blog to help us get into gear! 

From Williamsburg, Virginia, Ashlyn values the importance of food in creating memories. From crisp sugar cookies to braised carrots, food is the one art form enjoyed daily by all. It is for this reason, Ashlyn believes that it is important to make our food as sumptuous as possible. Her inherent belief in quality ingredients used in simple preparation reflects classic ingenuity whilst adding a contemporary feel.


You can follow Ashlyn and her story on Instagram or through her blog.


Ashlyn was kind enough to share with us her recipe for Maple Apple Galettes along with images from her kitchen studio, bon a petit!

Maple Apple Galette 

serves 6

For the crust 

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour 

2 tablespoons granulated sugar 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup apple cider

1/4 cup ice  

egg wash (1 egg yolk whisked with 1 teaspoon water)  

turbinado sugar, for sprinkling 

For the filling  

5 cups peeled apple slices 

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/2 cup dark amber maple syrup, grade B

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Combine apple cider and ice.  Reserve for later use.  

Sift to combine flour, sugar, and salt.  Transfer sifted ingredients to the work bowl of your food processor.  Cut the cold butter into 1/4-inch cubes and add to the flour mixture.  Toss to coat the butter in the flour mixture.  Pulse several times, until the mixture has the texture of rough cornmeal.  Slowly drizzle in the chilled cider, 1 tablespoon at a time, while continuing to pulse.  Add just enough cider to form a rough dough.  

Turn the dough out unto a floured surface and shape into a disc.  Wrap the disc in plastic  food wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  

In a large bowl toss apple slices with syrup and spices.  

On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out into a circle about 16-inches in diameter.  Roll the dough back onto the rolling pin and transfer the rolled dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Place the apple filling in the middle of the dough and fold the edges of dough up and around the filling; pinching the folds of dough together to form the sides.  Brush the entire galette with egg wash and sprinkle heavily with turbinado sugar.  

Bake for 1 hour or until the crust is a deep, golden brown.  Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving.  Enjoy! 


The Chocolate, Brandy and Coffee Tower by Gemma Patford

This weekend I definitely need a gloriously big and delicious chocolate cake to celebrate the beginning of autumn, where the fog returns, the air cools and the leaves begin blushing, so we returned to the wonderful Gemma Patford, who shared her decadent chocolate orange tart with us over here earlier this summer.

Gemma is wonderfully creative and her home doubles as her studio, where she makes her beautiful baskets and more importantly, her cakes!

The Chocolate, brandy and coffee Tower cake , or ‘The Tree Log’ has become one of my all-time favourite cakes to make, she tells us, and it is quickly becoming ours as well.

Gemma first tasted this cake at her dear friend Victoria’s 30th Birthday. Her almost sister-in-law Tina had made this for her to celebrate her age milestone. Tina and her fiancé Alex run a beautiful bed and breakfast (The Diggers Store) in Castlemaine, Victoria, and Tina bakes all the bread, preserves the jams and tends after their chickens. Definitely a place after our own heart.

Gemma´s adaption of Tina’s cake came about when she was looking for a recipe for her wedding cake. This cake is dense enough to support many layers, and is moist enough to make it 4 – 5 days in advance, which is pretty great as there´s nothing worse than a great chocolate cake drying up too soon.

So if you´re looking for something special this Sunday, this might just be the cake you´ve been waiting for.

Enjoy, and Happy Sunday!

The Cake 

¾  cup of filtered coffee

½ cup Brandy

175 grams of good quality dark chocolate

250 grams unsalted butter

1 ½ cup castor sugar

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat your oven to 140 C and line the bottom of the cake tin with baking paper.

In a heavy saucepan, bring the coffee, brandy and sugar to a simmer. When the sugar has dissolved, add the chocolate and butter. Whisk until smooth and remove from the heat. Let the mixture cool and whisk in the eggs and vanilla.

In a large bowl, sift together flour and baking soda. 

Using a stand mixer, add the wet ingredient to the dry ingredients. Mix for 1 minute, while scraping down the sides.

Pour the mixture into your cake tin and bake for 1 hour to 1 ½ hours. 

Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before attempting to remove it from the tin, and cool on a wire rack.

Bakers notes: 

This recipe makes 1 cake in a 23cm tin. The cake in the image used 4 cakes.


The crumb coat

375 grams of unsalted butter (room temperature)

5 cups of pure icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 tbs whole milk

In a stand mixer, whip the butter and vanilla for approximately 5 minutes or until it is pale and smooth. Slowly alternately add the icing sugar and milk. Mix until light and fluffy.

Bakers Notes:

For this cake, you will need to make at least three separate batches of this icing recipe. My recommendation is not to try and double it. Make extra batches as you need it.


Chocolate Frosting 

½ cup of good quality cocoa powder

½ cup boiling water

225g unsalted butter (room temperature)

½ cup pure icing sugar

¼ tsp salt

300 grams of good quality dark chocolate (melted and cooled)

Combine cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved. 

In a stand mixer, whip the butter, icing sugar, and salt until pale and smooth.

Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the cocoa mixture. Mix for 1 minute.

IMG_2430.jpg

Putting it all together

Take all four cakes and cut off the top dome to make each cake nice and flat and even. You may even wish to cut each cake in half again.

Spoon a dollop of butter cream icing on your cake tray. 

Flip your first cake upside down so that the nice flat bottom is facing upwards and place it in the centre of your cake tray.  

Take a big scoop of your icing and start to crumb coat your cake. 

Place the next cake on top, ice and repeat until your cake is filled and crumb coated.

Place your cake in the fridge and let set for approximately 40 minutes.

Once the icing on your cake is firm to the touch, you are ready to decorate your cake.

Using a long spatula, take a large dollop of your dark chocolate frosting and start working the icing onto the sides of the cake. A good tip to remember is your icing spatula should only touch icing, never the cake. 

Once your cake is entirely covered in icing, with a clean spatula, starting from the bottom, wipe the icing upwards and work your way around the entire cake. Don’t worry about it looking too neat. This is not one of those cakes.

You will have some excess icing around the top. Clean your spatula again, and working from the sides of the cake, slowly wipe the icing inwards. This method gives you a nice clean edge.

Work with the icing until you have the desired decorative effect.

Clean the edges of your cake tray with a warm wash cloth.

Bakers notes:

Decorate on the plate you intend to display the cake on. This baby is heavy. Once it is iced, and decorated, there is no hope in moving it.

If you are making a tall cake, it is worth using ‘stack and support’ layering. Stack and support layers ensure that the top layers of the cake do not crush the bottom layers. You can easily support the bottom layers of your cake by inserting 3 drinking straws, 2 cm apart, into the centre, of your cake, cutting them to size then placing a 5cm in diameter cardboard circle on top of the straws. This will help disperse the weight of the top layers and also help with the structural integrity of your cake.

Images by Stephanie Stematis 

Asparagus Fries by Sprinkle and Salt

We loved Arkadi and Sarah, the husband and wife team behind the food blog, Sprinkle and Sauce´s Russian apple cake that they shared with us a couple of weeks ago.

So we asked if they´d be willing to share with us their crisp baked asparagus fries too. Lucky for us they said yes and now we can share it will all of you too!

These little treats are perfect as a side, as a starter or as a snack with a glass of fizz, give it a go and tell us what you think! 

Have a great Tuesday, and happy cooking.


Baked Asparagus Fries

Ingredients:

For the asparagus fries:

1 pound of asparagus, trimmed

1 cup of panko breadcrumbs

3/4 cup of all purpose flour

1/2 cup of parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

salt and pepper

2 eggs slightly beaten

For the dipping sauce:

1 cup of mayonnaise

1 tablespoon of sriracha

juice of half a lemon

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a shallow dish, add the bread crumbs, flour, parm cheese, garlic powder and s&p.

In another shallow dish, add the two eggs and lightly beat.

Dip each asparagus spear into the egg wash first and then in the panko/flour mixture. Repeat if you want your asparagus fries to be extra crunchy.

Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes until browned and crisp.

For the dipping sauce:

Combine the mayo, sriracha and lemon juice and mix until well blended.

You can add less or more of the sriracha sauce to suit your taste.

Orzo Salad by The Roaming Kitchen

Orzo Salad by The Roaming Kitchen

Cristina Sciarra is a writer and cook living in Brooklyn with her fiancé, a Frenchman she met in Spain. 

Her website, The Roaming Kitchen, is home to culinary yarns, food photography, and original recipes that celebrate seasonal, high-quality ingredients. She serves on the board of Slow Food NYC, an organization working to promote food that is "good, clean, and fair", something that hit home with us and we found really interesting. If you want to know more, please click here!

Follow Cristina's cooking journey through her Instagram and website!

Since it’s mid July, we thought we’d share her delicious Orzo salad with you, perfect for a warm summer’s day lunch!

Makes 1 quart pasta salad. Serves 4-6. The dressing makes 3/4 cup. Good in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Serve chilled or at room temperature. 

 

Ingredients:

1/2 scant cup (60 grams) hazelnuts

1/2 cup (115 grams) red wine vinegar

1/2 cup (70 grams) golden raisins

1 cup (170 grams) orzo

the juice of 1 lime (25 grams)

2 tablespoons (25 grams) rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons (25 grams) champagne vinegar

kosher salt

1/4 cup (50 grams) sesame oil

2 tablespoons (25 grams) quality olive oil, plus more for coating the orzo

6 scallions

a small handful of chives (8 grams)

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 ounces fresh goat cheese

1/4 teaspoon flake sea salt

 

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350F (176C). Scatter the hazelnuts across a baking sheet; bake the nuts for 10 minutes. Out of the oven, allow them to cool and then remove the skins. You may leave the nuts whole or roughly chop them. Set the hazelnuts aside.

Meanwhile, bring the red wine vinegar plus 1/2 cup of water to a healthy simmer on the range. Add the raisins, and then turn the heat down to low. Cover the pot or saucepan, and cook the raisins for 10 minutes. Then, turn off the heat, and allow the raisins to sit in the vinegar solution for an additional 20 minutes. Drain the raisins and set them aside.

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil; add enough kosher salt to make the water taste like the sea. Add the orzo to the pot, and cook until al dente. (For me, this was consistently 2 minutes less than the bag recommended.) Drain the orzo, and stir in a bit of olive oil, just so that the pasta does not stick. Allow the orzo to cool for 20-30 minutes.

Make the dressing: add the lime juice, the rice wine vinegar, and the champagne vinegar to a small bowl. Whisk in a little pinch of kosher salt. Add the sesame oil and the 2 tablespoons olive oil. Whisk the dressing to emulsify, and then set it aside.

Clean and then thinly slice the whites and light greens of the scallions. Mince the chives.

In a large bowl, stir the red pepper flakes into the orzo. Add the hazelnuts, the raisins, the scallions, and the chives. Fold in the dressing. (If you are eating the salad fresh, I think 1/2 cup of dressing is sufficient. I usually save the remaining 1/4 cup for just before serving, especially if I make the salad ahead of time. But add the dressing bit by bit, and taste according to your preferences.) Stir in the sea salt. Using a fork, break up and crumble the goat cheese into the bowl, and lightly fold it into the salad.

Bon Appetit!

Orange Tart by Gemma Padford

IMG_2402.jpg

I think I discovered the talented Gemma Patford, who is a Melbourne maker on instagram. I fell in love with her lovely and handmade rope baskets, which later arrived neatly packed on my doorstep to my delight, and is now on display in my cottage kitchen here in England.

Gemma works from her Brunswick home-studio where she creates her rope baskets which you can take a look at here. She regularly joins forces with local makers on special projects, and is known for presenting the odd workshop all over the world!

I love that we share a background in fashion, and styling, and maybe one day our paths may cross, as it would be lovely to actually meet Gemma. 

In the meantime let´s enjoy one of two delicious chocolate recipes she has agreed to share with us here at Food for thought.

First up is a decadent Chocolate orange tart, where she was helped by talented Stephanie Stamatis to style and shoot.

I know it´s a Tuesday, but in my world that´s one of those days that may need a bigger dose of chocolate, than say a Saturday, that is already cool on its own.

Let´s dig in!

The Pastry

3 tbs cool water

The rind of 1 orange

3 tbs caster sugar

2 cups plain flour

150 grams cold butter

Preheat your oven to 160 C.

Process the flour, butter, sugar and orange rind in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. 

While the motor is running, add enough iced water to form a smooth dough. Knead very lightly then wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Once chilled, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface (or between two layers of wax paper) until 3mm thick. 

Line a 23cm greased tart tin with the dough. Line the base of your pastry shell with wax paper and fill with pastry weights (or rice) and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the weights / rice then bake for a further 10 minutes or until the pastry is golden.

The Chocolate filling

6 egg yolks

3 tbs of caster sugar

600ml of thickened cream

200 grams of good quality dark chocolate

Preheat your oven to 160 C.

Pour the cream into a heavy saucepan, and bring to the boil. Take off the heat immediately. Add the chocolate and whisk until smooth and let cool.

In a large bowl whisk together egg yolks and sugar and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. 

Add the cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.

Pour into your prepared tart tin and bake for 15-20 minutes in the preheated oven.

 

Candied Oranges

3 cups water

2 cups sugar

2 navel oranges

Cut your oranges into thick slices (approximately 75mm in thickness).

In a large, heavy saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. 

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer. Add orange slices and cook over medium-high heat until translucent, turning occasionally for 40 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the oranges from the syrup and transfer to a cooling rack. You may want to place the cooling rack over a sheet of wax paper to avoid coating your bench in syrup. Leave to dry overnight.

Bakers notes:

If your oranges are taking a little time to dry, put them in a pre heated oven set to 100 to150 degrees for 20 minutes to speed up the process.

Putting it all together

Take your tart, dust with a little cocoa and serve with candied oranges and a dollop of double cream

Images by Stephanie Stamatis

 

Russian Apple Cake by Sprinkle and Sauce

Russian Apple Cake by Sprinkle and Sauce

Sarah and Arkadi are the creative duo behind the delectable food blog Sprinkle and Sauce. Both, inspired by the food they grew up with, began experimenting in the kitchen in their mid-twenties. They were lucky enough to move to a neighbourhood in Toronto that was spilling over with different cultures, introducing them to many different cuisines, upon which they launched Sprinkle and Salt as a way to test out their own recipes and to share them with others. 

And we don't say no to being offered a bit of apple cake!

Enjoy your weekend with this gorgeous Russian cake with your afternoon tea.

Happy Friday from the Food for Thought team and Sprinkle and Sauce!

Russian Apple Cake (Sharlotka)

Ingredients:

6 small Granny Smith Apples (or 4 large ones)

6 eggs

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of flour

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon of baking soda mix with 1/4 teaspoon of vinegar


Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9x13 baking pan (or you can use a 9 inch springform pan). Set aside.

Peel, core and chop the apples. Set aside.

Attach the whisk attachment to your electric stand mixer (or electric hand mixer). Beat the eggs and sugar on high for about 2 to 3 minutes, until light yellow, thickened and about triple in size.

Lower the speed to low and beat in the vanilla and flour.

Quickly mix the baking soda and vinegar and add it to the batter. Mix batter gently.

Arrange the chopped apples on the baking pan. Then pour batter over the apples.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes (or 55 to 60 minutes if using a cake pan).

Want more?

Follow Sarah and Arkadi on Instagram here.

Roast Chicken by Tara Hurst

tara-3.jpg
TaraHurst

Tara Hurst is a designer based on Vancouver Island. First starting out as a gallery assistant, Tara soon realised her passion for design and the ability that it had to incorporate other ceative mediums into her work. Her inspirations come from all around her, whether it be the fresh flowers picked (with permission of course) from her neighbours lilac bush, or the creative people she works with. Recently, her work has taken her to Nashville where she designed the menu for a Kinfolk Supper hosted by Local Milk and Rebecca Seal.

"If anything I think that my philosophy is just to enjoy food, creating friendships, thats what food does."

The recipe that Tara has shared with us is one based off growing up with English grandparents.... "Whether its for a Sunday evening with my boyfriend at home or making it for my friends, it’s usually a roast chicken. I grew up with my mother and my English grandparents, the things that we would eat were always roasts and really great salads. Really simple food. My favourite thing to do is roast a fresh chicken in a skillet with vegetables-whatever is seasonal, with some butter and lemon and fresh rosemary. It’s not too overwhelming to prepare something like that. I love to cook with the freshest ingredients. I always like to make a nice salad. I think once you familiarise yourself with these recipes, they aren’t too complicated.  I think if you can find that balance just take the time to enjoy the food you’ve made, its such an important way to connect with people. 

To see more of Tara's work click the following to see her instagram, and website.

Simple Roast Chicken 

Ingredients 

One 2 pound farm-raised chicken

course sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Preheat your oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken well and then dry thoroughly with tea towels or paper towels, inside and out.

Salt the cavity well with sea salt and truss the bird. Now, salt the entire chicken with a course sea salt to create a salty flavourful skin (approximately 1 tablespoon). Finish the bird off with some freshly ground pepper. 

Place your chicken in a medium cast iron skillet and when your oven is hot, place the chicken in the oven. There is no need to baste or add butter to your chicken.

All this recipe requires is the patience to leave it in the oven until cooked through and golden brown. Roast it for approximately 1 hour. When you remove the chicken from the oven, baste the juices over the bird with a spoon and let the chicken rest for 15 minutes.

I like to serve this simple meal with roasted seasonal vegetables which can cook alongside your skillet in the hot oven. Toss whole artichokes, brussel sprouts or asparagas and new potatoes in olive oil and roast in a shallow pan. Enjoy this summer meal with a side of local greens. My favourite wine to pair with this meal is a chilled bottle of La Vieille Ferme Blanc.

*Based on chef Thomas Keller’s Recipe

Photographs by Kelly Brown


Blueberry Teacake

Erika Dudley and I met on Instagram, and I fell for her gorgeous and delicious looking Blueberry cake that she made in a skillet, so I asked her if she´d be willing to share it with us here on Food for thought and she said yes!

But before we enjoy her recipe, that I´m sure you´ll all be making, I asked Erika to tell us a few things about herself:


Through the University of Chicago's Civic Knowledge Project, I create and lead classes, events, and opportunities for people to engage in the humanities with a particular focus on the arts and food.       

I live in Chicago but I've lived in Athens, Paris, and Rome.  

I was a French History concentrator at Harvard. I cooked more in those four years in college than I have since!

I knew from an early age that French culture (especially its food) would be a lifelong passion.  

I studied at the Cordon Bleu in Paris with a special interest on the culinary and wine side of things.  

I used to work in restaurants. 

I've always enjoyed tea cakes and the mood they generate.  A little cake, a hot beverage, and a little sunlight get the thoughts flying! (We couldn't agree more!)

This recipe was inspired by one of my paella pans rarely being used and my guess that a blueberry cake would look wonderful baked in it. Whimsy. 

We´re so excited to have you contribute with your recipe Erika, and your story makes me want to know more:)

Blueberry Teacake

Ingredients:

115g (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature 

310g (1 1/2c) sugar

3 eggs

315g (2 1/4c) all-purpose flour

3 1/2 t baking powder

1 1/2 t salt

290g (1 1/4c) milk

1 T fresh lemon juice

1/2 t orange flour water

1 t vanilla

1 pint of blueberries

Powdered sugar

What you need:

One 13"-15"pan

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Combine the dry ingredients (except the sugar) in a bowl. 

Measure and combine the wet ingredients in a bowl. 

In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and fully mixed. Add the eggs one at a time until mixed in. 

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until there's none visible.  Add the wet ingredients and mix until uniform. 

Pour into the pan and bake for 20 minutes.  Take out the cake and add the blueberries prettily over the cake. Return to the oven 15-20 minutes. 

Sprinkle with powdered sugar. 

I prefer serving this from the pan and straight out of the oven while warm. 

Notes:

I like the floral hint of the orange flower water. If you don't have it, don't worry about it. 

I tried pouring half the batter in the pan and scattering half of the berries. This ensures that each slice will have berries. Either way creates a beautiful cake.