Firstly, apologies for our slacking of posting new exciting recipes. It has been quite hectic around here lately. With spring finally having arrived, spending time outside seems to have won priority over slaving away in the kitchen. But here is a recipe which is definitely a keeper. After having played around with multiple banana loaf recipes resulting in quite a few failures (somehow loaf cakes and myself are not friends, they either don’t rise, don’t have enough banana flavour, or I undercook them with the fear of having dry cake, subsequently breaking them upon removal from the tin), I finally managed to create a loaf which not only rose adequately but was also moist, perfectly bananaey and scrumptious :-). This one was also baked for the previously mentioned birthday festivities. It can be made up to a day in advance and turns out best if one uses overripe bananas for the ultimate banana flavour.
Following the previous post, I present you with cake number 2 of 5 baked for the birthday festivities. A true must for both chocolate and amaretti lovers. Amaretti are possibly my favourite biscuits, they should be yours too. And don’t get me started on Amaretto, the tastiest liquor ever created. Those sours are dangerous. Remind me again why I decided to give up alcohol for Lent? At least there are only 22 days left and Fortnum’s Easter sponge pudding (honey, amaretto & almond sponge pudding with a soft chocolate centre….nom) waiting at the end of it. Not to forget the amaretto butter topping, Easter dessert wouldn’t be half as good without it.
Enough about Amaretto. This cake, like the Linzer, is best after having rested in a cool place (e.g. cellar) for a day or two. Perfect if you have a lot of baking or cooking planned!
How many epic birthday parties did you have as a child? They were the event of the year with endless cake, balloons, magicians, games and most importantly presents. Did your parents also go overboard with the motto: the more the merrier? Not only was the entire class usually invited, but also family friends with children of a similar age. Now calculate how many presents and cake that results in? A LOT! Aside from the obligatory goody bags, one of the best parts of these parties were the games: musical chairs, water balloons, the knife and fork chocolate game (secretly I actually want to play this again… maybe tipsy…. that might increase the entertainment factor), hopscotch, hide and seek, jump rope, capture the flag and pass the parcel. The latter was great. Despite the small probability of actually having the parcel in your hands when only one layer of wrapping paper was left between you and the prize, adrenalin was still pumping every time it was your turn to unwrap.
Unwrapping parcels, presents and posted packages remains exciting to this day, even if you think you know what to find inside. I’m sure you have even all wrapped up a present for yourself and placed it under the Christmas tree at least once in your life…. or maybe that’s just my brother. But it proves the point. Things in parcels are exciting. So why not serve food in parcels as well? Not only is it a great way to develop the flavour while cooking, but it also almost always impresses the guests. Here is my latest attempt:
Salmon, Cranberry and Couscous Parcels with Caramelised Onions
You are probably familiar with those extremely lazy Sundays after a night out, the greater part entailing lounging around in bed with a constantly grumbling stomach and a craving for greasy food, but absolutely zero motivation or energy to do something about it? That probably describes most of your Sundays doesn’t it ;-)?
The most recent of such Sundays came with a rather interesting craving, but one that had to be fulfilled. After having gone through some emotionally draining turmoil (why can’t we be 5 years old again and play all day long?) in the past few weeks, my partner in crime and I longed for a soothing taste of home. Making proper butter croissants from scratch would have been excessive (although totally worth it if you ever have, let’s say, 6 hours to spare), so we opted for a low effort (and low-fat) version to satisfy our needs!
The best hazelnut chocolate spread strikes again. Yes, I am talking about Nutella. At last years Salon du Chocolat (an absolute must for chocolate lovers! Three whole days dedicated to the most innovative chocolate creations…. no wonder we felt slightly nauseous by the end of it), one chocolatier created a chocolate-hazelnut paste, which actually came out of a tube like face cream. It was deceptively advertised as tasting better than Nutella. Those are daringly big words carrying huge expectations! Honestly, why did they think they could create something superior to Nutella……? The paste was tasty, but definitely miles from the all time favorite.
Needless to say, it shouldn’t be a surprise to you that Nutella is the one item never missing from my kitchen. With an upcoming dinner invitation and a newly bought jar of chocolate goodness, I decided to attempt making a bring along gift instead of buying one. The result: tiny yet devilishly satisfying post-dinner delights:
Do you remember the episode of Friends in Season 7 where Monica bakes a ridiculous amount of chocolate chip cookies in an attempt to decipher Phoebe’s grandma’s lost recipe? Batch 17 was almost perfect, but the last cookie disappears before Monica could use it to work from……. after all those cookies and all that effort I would have gone mental! (Ok, actually before she decides to use cookie 17 for further creations, she finds out “grandma’s” recipe for the cookies they are all raving about was the exact one on each packet of Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels. She flipped out Monica style. But that’s irrelevant.)
Over the past months I have been through a similar, not quite as crazy, process with oat and raisin cookies: my “healthy”, satisfying comfort cookies. My already elevated cholesterol levels would certainly not have been happy had my cookie-craze been related to peanut butter and chocolate chips. Granted, oat and raisin cookies aren’t the healthiest out there, but doesn’t the name alone imply that there is some healthy aspect to them…? Health and all aside, occasional cravings have to be satisfied. Finally I managed to create near perfection, batch 17.5:
One of the best things about the English is their love for brunches. Correction, their love for brunching out. On weekends, going out and queueing for the highest rated brunch spots in town with the aim of indulging in decadent creations is arguably the best way to start the end of the week. The standard orders include eggs, bacon, salmon, pancakes, muffins, hollandaise, sausages, avocado, the list goes on. Why not top it off with a reviving cocktail? After all, a meal without alcohol wouldn’t be typically British now would it.
Here is a simple recipe for a classic which cannot be omitted from any brunch menu. We didn’t make hollandaise because being Swiss and all, and growing up close to the Alsace where the asparagus (with hollandaise) season is something we rave about, hollandaise just didn’t seem right to include in a breakfast dish. But feel free to re-create with a saucy accompaniment.