Zucchini parmigiana

This delicious dish is ideal for a simple, nutritious evening meal. Technically, you should use Parmesan cheese in parmigiana recipes but I used cheddar instead and it worked very well!

Ingredients

1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 zucchini, cut into ribbons about 1/2 cm thick
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 400-gram can of tomatoes
2 cups breadcrumbs
100 grams grated cheese (Parmesan or cheddar)
1/2 tsp pimenton (smoked paprika)
4 tbsp olive oil

1. Dice the onion and sauté with the crushed garlic in 2 tbsp olive oil until golden.
2. Add the can of tomatoes and the pimenton. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes.
3. Shallow-fry the sliced zucchini in the other 2 tbsp of olive oil (you will probably need to add more while frying) until the slices are golden and slightly brown. Turn the slices while frying so they are golden on both sides.
4. Layer the zucchini in a baking dish (I used one which was 27 x 21 cm), followed by the tomato sauce, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the zucchini and tomato. Finally, sprinkle the grated cheese evenly on top.
5. Bake at 340F/170C for 20 – 25 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are crispy and the cheese is golden.
6. Enjoy! I served it with a side of garden peas and steamed cauliflower but it would also make a great lunch dish along with a green salad.

The best apple cake you will ever taste

Okay, maybe the title of this post is a little hyperbolic but the apple cake recipe I am about to show you definitely merits recognition!

My niece goes to a preschool run along the lines of the Waldorf philosophy of education developed by Rudolf Steiner in the early 1920s (if you’re interested, you can read more about Waldorf education by clicking here). Waldorf has German and Austrian origins and many of the recipes which the schools use are traditional German recipes. That means the cakes are excellent, wholesome but incredibly tasty. I have long wanted to visit Austria just so I can sample the amazing kuchen and torten! The preschool, or kindergarten, teacher recently gave my sister this recipe and she passed it along to me too.

Please note the recipe is in grams. I have a digital kitchen scale so this isn’t a problem for me but if you prefer to use cup measurements, there are measurement converters available on the internet.

German Apple Cake

Ingredients

270 grams butter or margarine
270 g brown sugar
5 medium eggs
270 g flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
2 – 3 peeled cooking apples (small, thin slices – I used a vegetable mandoline slicer which I recently purchased. It is wonderful for quickly slicing things when you want them finely sliced).
80 g raisins or sultanas

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 350F (180C). If you’re using a convection oven, you might need to slightly reduce the temperature.
2. Mix the butter/margarine and sugar until it is blended well. Gradually add the beaten eggs and continue to mix it all together.
3. Prepare the apples and finely slice them. Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sultanas/raisins and apples. Mix together.
4. Line a square or oblong baking dish with baking parchment/greaseproof paper. Pour your cake mixture into the dish and level it with a spoon.
5. Bake in the oven for 45 – 50 minutes. You might need to reduce the temperature slightly during the last 10 – 15 minutes of cooking to ensure the top does not brown too much.
6. The cake is done when you can insert a knife into it and it comes out clean. Cut into squares and enjoy!

A delicious autumnal breakfast & brunch recipe

Just a few months ago, the apple trees were covered in blossom.

Apple blossom in the garden. Collage created with photovisi.com. Photos Grace @ Cultural Life copyright 2013

Apple blossom in the garden. Collage created with photovisi.com. Photos Grace @ Cultural Life copyright 2013

Now, they are heavy with fruit.

I love baking and making recipes with apples so when I saw this amazing Dutch apple pancake recipe, I knew I had to make it. I prepared it for brunch last Sunday and it is a delicious way to use up apples from the garden. The scent of apple slowly cooking with cinnamon and brown sugar is divine and the finished result is even better. It is a wonderful breakfast or brunch recipe which is perfect for this time of year.

Apple Pannekoeken (Dutch Pancake) – with thanks to Jill from Dulce Dough for giving me permission to reprint the recipe here. Do pay a visit to Dulce Dough; Jill has many more lovely recipes there.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Powdered sugar (optional)

For Topping

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup butter

Instructions

1. Make sure your oven rack is in the middle of your oven, then put butter into an oven-safe skillet or pie plate, place into the oven, and preheat 425°F.

2. While waiting for the butter to melt, prepare your batter by beating the eggs in a large bowl; add the salt, milk, and flour and continue to beat until smooth.

3. When butter is melted, remove skillet or pie plate and tilt to coat with butter, then carefully pour in the egg mixture.

4. Bake for about 15-18 minutes without opening the oven door. (The pannekoeken will puff as it bakes and is ready when it is browned and crisp around the edges.)

5. To make the apple topping, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl.

6. Add the apples to the bowl and mix gently to coat; set aside.

7. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.

8. Add the apple mixture and cook over medium heat until the apples are tender.

9. Carefully spoon apple topping over hot pannekoeken, sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired, cut into wedges, and serve immediately.

Do you have a favorite apple recipe you would like to share? Let me know by leaving a comment on this post.

Food: celeriac soup recipe

Source: Wikipedia. Author: DocteurCosmos

Photo credit: Wikipedia. Author: DocteurCosmos

Celeriac – celery root – isn’t going to be winning any beauty contests any time soon. But let’s not be judgemental. Despite its unattractive appearance, it is a versatile and delicious vegetable which is perfect in blended soups. This soup is creamy and lovely, ideal for chillier days as autumn begins to creep into the air.

Ingredients

1 large white onion, diced
2 medium leeks, finely chopped
1 large celeriac (celery root), chopped into small cubes
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp paprika
Approx. 8 cups/2 litres vegetable stock
1 cup milk
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Step 1: Sauté the onion, leek and garlic in the olive oil, stirring frequently for 10 – 15 minutes, until they are golden brown.
Step 2: Add the celeriac and simmer on a low heat until the celeriac is tender. Add the vegetable stock, paprika and salt and pepper. Simmer for a further 10 minutes.
Step 3: Blend the soup until it is smooth and creamy, then return to the stove. Add the milk, stir and heat until it is steaming hot. Enjoy with a slice of freshly baked bread!

Giant couscous and feta salad

Couscous salad

Despite the name, giant couscous is in fact a type of pasta which is toasted and shaped into little balls that look like an enlarged version of couscous. According to Wikipedia, it was invented in Israel during the early 1950s when there was a rice shortage. You can read more about its invention by clicking here. Ptitim, as it is known in Israel, is now becoming increasingly well-known outside the country and is currently a popular ingredient on the menus of many trendy restaurants. It is also known as Israeli couscous or Jerusalem couscous. I used a wholegrain giant couscous to create this nutritious, summery salad. If you cannot find giant couscous, you could substitute regular couscous or orzo pasta in place of it.

GIANT COUSCOUS AND FETA SALAD
(serves 4)

Ingredients

150g giant couscous
100g feta cheese, cut into small cubes
1 small red onion, finely chopped
100g frozen garden peas, boiled
Approx. 10 Kalamata olives, chopped
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper, to taste

1. Cook the giant couscous according to the instructions on the packet. I lightly fried mine in a little olive oil for 5 minutes before adding water and stirring until the water was absorbed and the couscous was tender.

2. While the couscous is cooking, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Boil the peas, drain them and leave them to cool. Chop up the feta cheese and the red onion. Finely chop the Kalamata olives. I prefer to buy the ones which are whole as I think they taste better than the pitted ones. If you do this, take care to remove the stones before including them in the salad.

3. When the couscous is cooked, add it to a large bowl, along with the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle the lemon juice and olive oil over the salad, mix well and serve. Enjoy!

Summery kohlrabi soup

A rather spectacular Kohlrabi by Petr Kratochvil (public domain image)

A rather spectacular Kohlrabi by Petr Kratochvil (public domain image)

Kohlrabi is a versatile member of the brassica family; in the winter, you can use it in hearty soups and stews or create a delicious mash with olive oil and salt and pepper. The summer crop of kohlrabi is less fibrous than during the winter and it is ideally suited for summer salads and kohlrabi slaw. Try adding grated kohlrabi and carrot together with a mustard dressing.

This kohlrabi soup – my own recipe – is perfect for a light lunch in the garden. The combination of peas and mint help to bring out the crisp taste of the kohlrabi, resulting in a delicious summer soup.

SUMMERY KOHLRABI SOUP
(serves 4)

Ingredients

2 tbsp good-quality olive oil
2 large onions, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 kohlrabi, peeled and diced
2 carrots, diced
3 heaped tbsp frozen garden peas
3.5 cups/1.5 pints vegetable stock
2 heaped tbsp chopped fresh mint
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper

1. Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil for approx. 10 minutes, until they are golden.
2. Add the kohlrabi and carrots to the pan. Saute gently for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender.
3. Add the vegetable stock and the peas. Bring to the boil, then immediately turn down the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes until the peas are cooked.
4. Add the chopped mint, season with salt and pepper to taste and blend.

Kohlrabi soup

Photo challenge day 13: Cabin Fever

I struggled to think of what I could photograph for today’s photo challenge theme (for more info on the First Thirty-one Photo Challenge, head to Fourtuitous). Having spent most of the past three months running here, there and everywhere during what has been the most stressful time of my life so far, it is actually nice to coop myself up at home and enjoy some much-needed respite. So today’s theme of “Cabin Fever” was difficult.

I settled on photographing my lunch time bowl of soup. Sometimes, although I love it, cooking can give me cabin fever. Actually, I guess it’s not so much the cooking but the amount of clearing up and washing dishes at the end. I love cooking but a self-cleaning kitchen would greatly add to my enjoyment!

Roasted red pepper and tomato soup.

Roasted red pepper and tomato soup. Don’t get me wrong: the soup didn’t give me cabin fever (it was delicious) but the clearing up did!!

Honey-roasted parsnip and carrot soup

A few days ago, my sister gave me a bag of parsnips. Her husband had brought them home and since she doesn’t like parsnips, she gave them to me. I am not a parsnip hater but I am not particularly enamored by them either. But I was determined not to let them spoil and go to waste. And so I made this soup which actually turned out much better than expected. I guarantee it will convert anyone with a low opinion of parsnips!

Honey-roasted parsnip and carrot soup

Honey-roasted parsnip and carrot soup

Ingredients – serves 6 – 8, depending on portion size. If you are daunted by the quantity of soup this recipe produces, freeze the leftovers.

4 large parsnips, peeled
6 medium carrots, diced
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp mild chili powder
Vegetable stock/bouillon cube
Salt and pepper

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 390°F/200°C. Chop the peeled parsnips into rough chunks. No need to worry about making them look pretty; they are going to be blended. Drizzle them with a liberal amount of honey and a little olive oil.

Chopped parsnips, drizzled with honey, ready to go in the oven

Chopped parsnips, drizzled with honey, ready to go in the oven

Sprinkle with a small pinch of salt and some ground black pepper and roast for 30 minutes. Half-way through roasting them, add 2 garlic cloves (chopped in half) along with more honey if necessary.

2. While the parsnips are roasting, saute 2 finely chopped onions in a little olive oil. Add 2 crushed cloves of garlic, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika and some ground black pepper. When the onions are golden, add the diced carrots and 1/2 tsp mild chili powder. Cook on a moderate temperature and stir frequently.

3. When the parsnips are done, add them to the onions and carrots. Cook for 10 minutes. Then add vegetable stock to cover the vegetables – the liquid should come approx. 2 inches above the veg. Sorry for the lack of an accurate measure: I didn’t bother measuring my stock. You can always add more liquid if you prefer a thinner soup.

4. Cook until the parsnips and carrots are tender, adding more cumin, paprika or chili if desired. Blend thoroughly and season to taste. After blending, return to the pan to heat the soup until bubbling. Serve with fresh bread and a green salad. Enjoy!

Photo challenge day 11: Warmth

Today’s theme from the First Thirty-one Photo Challenge at Fourtuitous is “warmth”.

Few things are more delicious and more warming on a cold winter’s day than a hearty bowl of home-made soup. This honey-roasted parsnip and carrot soup is my own creation. The addition of ground cumin, mild chili powder and plenty of black pepper give it a spicy warmth.

Honey-roasted parsnip and carrot soup

Honey-roasted parsnip and carrot soup

Blog challenge #11: Canada

Flag of Canada

Long time, no blog. Sorry for the absence. My life is currently very busy and very stressful. But this afternoon, I took a little respite to do one of my favorite things: baking. And blogging about baking. Achieving two of my favorite things in one afternoon? Way to go!

When I think of Canadian food, I think of maple syrup. After all, the maple leaf is the iconic symbol on Canada’s flag and according to this maple syrup industry facts sheet on the website of the Ontario Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (linked here), Canada is the largest producer of maple syrup in the world.

Maple Syrup Season by Charles Rondeau

You are in for a treat with the following recipe: Maple Crisp Pie. Doesn’t just the name make your mouth water? Anything with maple syrup is appealing to me…I could drink that nectar straight out the bottle. The combination of apple, cinnamon and maple syrup in this recipe is heavenly. I served it with plain yogurt and it was delicious!

Recipe source: Food Network Canada (link for Maple Crisp Pie at Food Network Canada. Recipe courtesy of Anna Olson)

Maple Crisp Pie

Ingredients
Dough

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Filling
5 Mutsu (Crispin) or Granny Smith apples
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg, mixed with 2 tbsp cold water, for brushing

To Assemble

Directions
Dough

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Combine flour, oats, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter the texture of coarse meal. Stir sour cream and maple syrup and add to dough, mixing until it just comes together. Chill dough for 15 minutes.
Filling
Peel and slice apples. Toss with maple syrup and cinnamon.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Slide dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place apples and all the syrup into the center of the pastry. Dot with butter.
To Assemble
Fold crust over apples in 5 folds, leaving some of the filling visible. Brush with egg wash and bake for 30-40 minutes, until crust is brown and filling is bubbling.

Have a wonderful weekend! Do you have any baking suggestions you think I should try (with or without maple syrup)? Leave a comment and let me know. :)