Lately on a girls night out… that’s pushing it a bit, it was a weeknight and nothing about it said party at all, rather catching up with long missed friends, good talks and nice food. But there had been a cocktail, that left a strong impression on me and it wasn’t even mine. I tried a sip and was sold, that was right down my alley.
Ordering cocktails can be tricky, they have names like Yuppidoo and Gogol and don’t let me start on all this sex on/of/at somewhere (never thought I would use that word on my food blog). Neither my imagination nor my taste buds are able to figure out what the heck I am getting, if ordering one of those. And when there are the uber everything ones: too sweet, too boozy, too sour or a combination of all that. The fine print is usually just a list of all ingredients, with no explanation. All hope lies with the knowledge of your server for guiding you through this cocktail scavenger hunt. I have to admit, I tend to fall back on one of my all time favorites more often than I am proud of, save but never sorry.
That might be the reason why I didn’t order the Roshambo at the first place, actually who might thought this one tastes so very good? Yes and here I am coming at you with another cocktail with a weird name. My friend was really enjoying her drink and I stuck with my cocktail, still very good but just the second-best. The challenge was on and I tried to make my own at home last weekend. I have to say all things considered this one is a good one. I think I even improved it, while replacing honey with cinnamon–caramel syrup. It’s one more step, that’s true, but totally worth it and it makes more than enough golden-amber syrup for drizzling over cake and oatmeal or sweetening tea or much more roshambo.
Roshambo is a bubbly, fruity, slightly tart cocktail with a nice sweet balance and warm flavors, ideal for the fall and winter season. Everything comes together very nice and works out great. Comparing with other cocktails definitive on the lower side in regards of alcohol level, no hard liquor involved. I also like the idea of serving this cocktail at one of the upcoming holiday parties, because it’s easy to make in big batches. I am going to prepare a pitcher of already mixed juices with syrup in advance, will keep it chilled and the only thing to do is to combine both liquids: pour the juice mix into the champagne glasses and top with sparkling wine just before serving.
Number of cocktails: 2
- For the cinnamon–caramel syrup:
- 200 g / 1 cup granulated sugar
- 500 ml / 2 1/8 cups water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- For the roshambo:
- 60 ml / 2 fl. Oz. / ¼ cup cranberry juice
- 60 ml / 2 fl. Oz. / ¼ cup apple juice
- 30 ml / 1 fl. Oz. / 1/8 cup cinnamon–caramel syrup
- a few ice cubes
- sparkling wine (Prosecco or Champagne)
- Prepare the syrup (preferable a day in advance):
- Make a dry caramel by melting sugar over low heat in a pan. Swirl from time to time but never stir. Have a white plate on hand for testing the color, just drip a little bit on this plate until it shows the desired dark amber. Remove from heat immediately, it will continue to cook for a bit, so don’t go too dark with the caramel. Let cool! Yes it will harden but that’s fine. Add the water and the cinnamon sticks and turn on the heat to medium, let cook until the caramel is completely dissolved. Let cool again, remove the cinnamon sticks. Then store in a bottle in your refrigerator for up to a month.
- Shake the cranberry juice, apple juice and cinnamon–caramel syrup with the ice cubes in your cocktail shaker. Dived the juice mix on two champagne glasses and top with the sparkling wine. Serve immediately.
If you are not familiar with caramel making, don’t sweat it, make a simple syrup. Add 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water and the cinnamon sticks into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let cool, remove cinnamon sticks and use like the caramel-cinnamon syrup for this cocktail.
I like to use unfiltered apple juice.
Tastewise there is a lot going on with this cakelettes. They are little bundles of flavor, no doubt about that. Nevertheless I have to admit, I went somehow overboard with this title: white chocolate macchiato cakelettes with coconut flakes. What you read is what you get. Although all this different ingredients come together very well, each of them bring it’s own personality with them: the strong espresso blend with the sweetness and vanilla of the white chocolate into a nice macchiato and the coconut brings beside the exotic touch also a little chewiness to these little cakes.
I am afraid I might occur to you like a carnival crier: YOU DON’T JUST GET THE COFFEE FLAVOR! NO! YOU ALSO GET COCONUT! AND I DON’T STOP WITH THOSE TWO, THERE IS ALSO WHITE CHOCOLATE IN THE GAME! Sorry for yelling at you. Well I am not trying to sell you anything, but if someone out there is interested in a gallon of air for a bargain of 100 bucks, let me know. Just kidding, obviously, please ignore how badly.
There is one thing and you can just believe me in that, you’ll be very happy when you open your lunchbox and a cakelette is smiling at you. I also like to dress them up with an exorbitant amount of ice cream and a good drizzle of chocolate sauce. They look cute served that way and it makes them appropriate for even a formal dinner. You can also bake and serve them in espresso cups as long as they are oven proof.
white chocolate macchiato cakelettes with coconut flakes
Number of servings: 10
- 100 g / 3.5 oz. granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 80 ml / 1/3 cup espresso, strong brewed
- 70 g / 2.5 oz. white chocolate, cut into small chunks
- 70 g / 2.5 oz. unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
- 50 g / 1.8 oz. coconut flakes, unsweetened
- 140 g / 5 oz. all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. fine sea salt
- Preheat your oven to 175 C / 350 F and grease your cake molds or line your muffin tin.
- Melt chocolate and butter in the espresso, if hot enough, otherwise reheat (in your microwave oven) and stir until both ingredients are melted, let cool.
- Meanwhile measure and stir dry ingredients: coconut flakes, flour, baking powder, salt and set aside
- Add sugar and eggs to the bowl of your electric mixer and mix well.
- Pour espresso mixture into the egg-sugar, mix again. Add then the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. The batter is rather liquid.
- Scoop batter into your cake molds and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick insert in the middle comes out clean. Let the cakelettes cool for 10 minutes in their molds, then transfer to a rack until completely cooled.
If you use a muffin tin, pour water in the two remaining cups. You can use any small cake molds or cups (make sure they are oven proof) with a capacity of approx. 60 ml / 1/4 cup.
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes
Yesterday I approached the grocery store with only the best intentions: there should be some greens on my plate tonight. This had been the plan. I grabbed myself a shopping cart and passed by kale, chard and collard greens as fast as I could. I am even bad with new years resolutions and let’s face it, I have a whole year to accomplish them. I usually don’t eat meat very often. So when my belly said, I should pamper myself and go for a roasted chicken, I didn’t disagree. Without any further thinking I had chicken and a big package of salt in my bag. My no-brainer go to recipe since years.
Well yes, it was a Wednesday dinner and who has time to roast a chicken on a weeknight? The point is, it takes 5 minutes to prepare and then it roasts all alone in the oven, no need to interfere beside one turn. It gives you enough time to do the laundry, vacuum, put your legs up, relax and read a book. The cleaning afterwards is limited to discard the aluminum foil. And hurray for leftovers, I can see chicken risotto, chicken burrito, chicken sandwich… coming my way. I am kind of pushing it a bit with the headline. How to… seriously? Put salt on the baking dish, top with the chicken and in the oven it goes. That’s the whole trick.
If you are on a low sodium diet, sorry this recipe is not for you. All others should be fine, it’s an insane amount of salt, but it’s there to flavor, tenderize and soak up the fat and not to season the chicken. This chicken will be juicy and not overboard salty. Don’t rub the salt on the chicken, just lay the chicken on it. That’s basically the whole point about roasted chicken on salt.
chicken on a salt bed
- about 2 kg / 4.4 lb. chicken (organic is best)
- 1 kg / 2.2 lb. salt, preferable coarse
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 2 limes, quartered
- 2 springs of fresh rosemary
- Preheat your oven to 390 F / 200 C.
- Line your rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread the salt evenly.
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and put the garlic, limes and rosemary (if using) inside the cavity. Place the chicken breast-side down on the salt.
- Put the chicken into the oven and roast for 50 minutes. Turn the chicken around (breast-side up now) and bake for additional 30 minutes or until juices run clear.
- Pull the chicken out of the oven and let it rest 10-15 minutes before carving. Discard the garlic, limes and rosemary.
Preparation time: 5 minute(s)
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes
I am sitting at my desk and it doesn’t actually matter if I look to my right or left, there are piles of papers and notebooks everywhere. The stacks continue behind me on my bookshelf and even on the floor. All these pages are about food, they contain ideas, tips and tricks, but mostly recipes. I started to index them by title without success and anyway I ended up with the same stacks in a different order, just another picture of the same madness. Some pages are ripped out of magazines, some are given to me by friends and some are recipes “in progress”. Recipe testing is one of my favorite things, when I put on my apron and turn on the oven, I feel like a weird scientist in a lab. Most of the time I use up an ingredient that’s at risk to go bad like a basket full of apples. I try to pick a direction, am I going for apple pie or cake? Or apple butter? What else should come in it? I try to imagine what the flavor will be like. Do I need more almonds or should I rather go for coconut flakes? I make my notes on a sheet of paper and create another addition to the paper stack party.
Most of the time it takes several efforts until I come out of my kitchen with a masterpiece. Right now I can see a recipe scribbled on a crumpled piece of paper, the title on top says: rice cake. I had big hopes for that, Mr. F is a sucker for rice pudding and I thought I would have invented something innovative while combining rice pudding and cake. But he said something like: …have had better cakes before. That’s his polite way to say: It sucked really bad. He was right, no doubt about that.
Last week I fished this recipe for pumpkin spice muffins out of one of those paper piles. I had been looking forward to this since the days are getting cooler and fall appears from day to day. I made this muffins for the first time two years ago. This recipe was a success at the first attempt, this happens once in a blue moon. It has all I was craving/looking for: fall flavors, pumpkin with spices, a healthy spin with whole wheat flour, nuts and chocolate. They are easy put together, tastes great for a couple of days without going stale (even better the next day), they are incredible for breakfast and I am always happy to find one in my bag for a little snack. The flavor combination of the spices are maybe a little more cinnamony as usually, because I like it that way. You can mix some more of the pumpkin spice and keep it on hand for cakes, lattes etc.
pumpkin spice muffins
- 200 g / 7 oz. whole wheat flour
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 150 g / 5.3 oz. granulated sugar + 1 Tbsp. for topping
- ½ tsp. fine sea salt
- ½ tsp. ground ginger
- ¼ tsp. ground allspice
- ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
245 g / 8.6 oz. pumpkin puré (about 1 cup/half of a can)
- 110 g / 3.9 oz. coconut oil, very soft
- or same amount unsalted butter, melted, cooled (1 stick)
- 2 large eggs
- 70 g / 2.5 oz. chopped pecan nuts + 1 Tbsp. for topping
- 100 g / 3.5 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
- Line your 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners, preheat your oven to 175 C / 350 F.
- Measure and stir dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- In a smaller bowl, add wet ingredients and stir well with a whisk. Pour wet into dry ingredients and stir just until incorporated. Stir in pecan nuts and chocolate morsels.
- Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. sugar and pecan nuts. Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes before you move them from the muffin tin to a wire rack to cool completely.
You can use 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice instead of the spices. The rule of thumbs for mixing your own pumpkin pie spice is: 2 parts ground ginger, 1 part ground allspice, 1 part ground nutmeg, 4 parts ground cinnamon.
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Number of servings: 12
I told you, I would serve you a cake as soon as my oven is back on duty. The service guy gave us the pleasure of his company – finally. I have to admit I had been miffed about this situation. We are in the era where anything can be delivered in between 24 hour nationwide. I don’t really get why it took him almost four weeks to replace a glass panel in the oven door, just because he had to order it in California. I wonder if he took the wagon train through the Great Plains or the donkey caravan via Mojave Desert? As soon as Mr. customer-service-guy-of-the-year arrived in my kitchen, he started raving about the cookies I gave him last time. I couldn’t resist explaining to him: no oven-no cookies, not for me and not for him. Can you believe this guy?
We could have had this cake weeks earlier but it didn’t happen, so lets bury the hatchet and have a piece of cake. He is just a poor guy who’s wife serves him too much lentils (and who talks too much). Yes you learn a lot about people especially if you have them more often on the phone when your own mom, whether you want to or not.
Let’s talk cake. What is better than cake? Cake with streusel! What is better than streusel? Cake with nuts in the streusel! It’s that simple. I appreciate recipes, that are flexible, and leaving some freedom to put your own spin on it. I also like to mix and match fruits and nuts. Through there are dream teams like pears with almonds, apples and hazelnuts or was it apples and walnuts? I don’t have to run to the grocery store, if I am in need of cake, and don’t have enough fruits of one kind but enough all together. I just assign dedicated areas for every sort, top it streusel and be surprised which kind of fruit I get to taste.
The bottom is a standard tart dough crust – a pâte brisée, buttery and a little flaky. If you have a favorite pie crust recipe, go for it, I don’t mind. The fruits are what you find on the market right now, some plums, lot of pears and apples. Topped with streusel made with roasted nuts and a hint of cinnamon, brings my favorite fall flavors into one baking pan.
recipe for the crust: pâte brisée
- 250 g / 8.8 oz. all-purpose flour
- 70 g / 2.5 oz. granulated sugar
- ½ tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 egg
- 125 g / 4.4 oz. unsalted cold butter (about 9 Tbsp.)
If you use a food processor:
- Place flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of your food processor with the blade attached. Pulse a few times. Add cold butter in chunks and pulse until small crumbles form, add the egg and pulse again until crumbles are about pea size.
- Empty on a piece of plastic wrap, press tightly and form a disk. Put the dough into your refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.
If you use a handheld mixer or your hands:
- Use a big bowl with enough room to work in. Add flour, sugar, salt, stir well. Make a dent in the middle with your fist. Add the egg and mix (or use a fork) with just a small amount of the flour–sugar mixture to make mash.
- Cut the cold butter into little pieces and distribute over the mix. Use your mixer or rub with your fingers until the dough comes together. Press to form a disk and cover with plastic wrap, place into your refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
No matter what technique you choose, keep in mind:
The dough will be very crumbly at first but hold together when pressed. You can add a little bit ice water if needed.
Don’t over-work, otherwise you end up with tough dough.
fall fruit streusel cake
for the streusel:
- 100 g / 3.5 oz. roasted, ground nuts
- 100 g / 3.5 oz. all-purse flour
- 100 g / 3.5 oz. granulated sugar
- 110 g/ 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
for the filling:
- 600 g / 21 oz. stone fruits like apples, plums, pears… or a mix of them
- 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- For the streusel mix everything until well incorporated. Set aside.
- In a small bowl mix flour, sugar and cinnamon. Prepare the fruits: if necessary peel them (apples and pears), slice or cut into small chunks, and cover evenly with the flour mixture.
Assemble the cake:
- Preheat your oven to 390 F / 200 C. Grease a springform pan or a tart pan 24 cm / 9.5 inch or 30 x 20 cm / 12 x 8 inch.
- Roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Remove the top sheet and transfer the dough into your baking pan, remove the other sheet. Press dough into the pan and form a rim about 2.5 cm / 1 inch high.
- Place the fruits evenly into the pan, crumble the streusel on top, press carefully and bake for 30-40 minutes.
- Let cool for 20 minutes, serve with ice cream or whipped cream.
Better safe than sorry, put a baking sheet under the cake while baking.
October sneaked in on me, it’s getting colder, even in the South. Although we are blessed with gorgeous weather throughout the day, the nights really cooled off. Yet it’s not the time to give you the fall speech for me, you know… get your blankets out, heat up the fireplace and make yourself some hot chocolate. No. No, that’s too soon. But it’s about time to make this liqueur before the plums disappear from the market and it also needs to sit for some weeks to develop the flavor. And you want to be ready when the fall weather kicks in and you need something to sip on to warm up from inside?!
This recipe is quite easy and will only take you a couple of minutes to prepare. The flavored bourbon has a lavish dark purple color and looks alluring in little bottles. I like to keep some around not just for personal use, they are always a welcomed gift. The flavor is fruity, just a little sweet and a kick from the bourbon.
plum and cinnamon flavored bourbon
- 450 g / 1 lb. fresh plums
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks
- 3/4 cup turbinado or other raw sugar
- 2 ½ cups bourbon
- Cut the plums in half and every half in three pieces. Keep the stones.
- In a clean jar or bottle with a wide neck, add all ingredients, also the stones. Make sure the plums are covered with bourbon and doesn’t stick out, add more bourbon if necessary.
- Let stand for at least 3 up to 6 weeks. Shake the jar from time to time. Don’t worry the sugar will dissolve after some days.
- Afterwards you can strain the liqueurs through a fine strainer, but you don’t have to. Discard the stones but keep the plums, they will be dark and very boozy. They taste great with ice cream, waffles etc. (maybe not for breakfast ☺) or puréed as a sauce?
- The liqueur will be good for at least one year, after you have removed the plums.
Make sure to clean the jar properly, I always disinfect the jar with boiling water.
What can I say? It’s sat but true. My oven still suffers from a mysterious case of an exploding glass door. There is nothing about good customer service if you need it, ya think? Yes this is sarcasm! But me uber excited about the approaching fall and the affiliated arriving of seasonal fruits like plums and of cause pears and apples, I went nuts and bought a bag full of just mentioned goodies. And there it sat and waited to be turned into cake and pie… and days went by without the anticipated stop by of the service guy and the repairing of my oven.
I had to give in before my pears and apples went bad. So I postponed my cake dreams again and made jam. And didn’t regret it. I had been inspired by a recipe by Rachel Saunders of Blue Chair Fruit Co. to add green cardamom beside the usual cinnamon stick and you bet it makes all the difference. My goodness, gracious! I love cardamom in pear cakes but never thought about flavoring jam or apple butter with this little pods. The warm but citrusy aroma goes very well with pears and apples.
We emptied already the first jar. This recipe doesn’t make a lot of jam, I went on the safe side due to it’s short shelf life. You may double or triple the recipe because it makes a stunning topping for pancakes, and the pancake season also just started again.
apple and pear jam with green cardamom
- 425 g / 15 oz. apples, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
- 325 / 11.5 oz. g pears, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
- 60 ml / ¼ cup fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)
- 300 g / 10.6 oz. granulated sugar
- 10 green cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Add apple and pear pieces, lime juice and sugar to a big non-reacting bowl (glass for example), stir well, cover with plastic wrap. Keep in your refrigerator over night.
- Transfer apple-pear mix to a large pot. Wrap the cardamom pods in cheese cloth (an old dish towel works too), tie up and make a little bag. Take your rolling pin or heavy pan and beat the heck out of the cardamom bag until they are well crushed. Or use a tea ball and crush the pods in advance.
- Add cardamom and cinnamon stick to the pot with the apple-pear mix and bring to boil over high heat. Continue cooking for 15 minutes and stir from time to time.
- Remove the pot from the heat and fish out the cinnamon and the cardamom. Puree the jam with an Immersion Blender until desired consistency.
- Bring to boil over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stir well. Test if jam is thick enough by dropping some jam on a cold saucer. If not continue cooking and test again.
- Fill the jam into prepared clean jars. Let cool and store in your refrigerator for up to 3 months.
Be prepared while making jam, have a clock on hand to check the cooking time. I always pour boiling water into the jars to make sure they are clean and sterilised.
I had been eager to share one of my favorite fall recipes with you. I had been literally waiting for cooler weather, as well plums to show up at farmers markets. I was looking forward to turn on my oven and pull out a fragrant cake. But this doesn’t look like my beloved plum cake because things doesn’t always turn out like planned.
Last weekend I heard a bang in my kitchen and wondered what it was. Something began to trickle on the floor. I soon figured out, the glass panel of my oven door, the one in the middle which is sandwiched between two others, literally broke in a million tiny pieces. Bits of broken glass fell slowly down through the bottom of the oven door. It took me a second to process this and I am still puzzled how this could happen. I hope to get my oven up and running soon, but until when I am happy to serve you a nice drink.
We are in the days between summer and fall, somehow between the seasons. Summer is fading away and fall is pushing gently to show up with his colorful leaves. Yet I can’t let summer go, but at the same time anticipating the arrival of cooler temperatures and finally fall. This cocktail is a farewell to summer. And I can imagine serving this throughout the next season, because we really liked this one.
mango rosemary caiprissimo
- 140 g / 5 oz. frozen mango pieces
- 100 g / 3.5 oz. bourbon
- 100 g / 3.5 oz. rosemary syrup (recipe below), strained
- juice of 1-2 limes, strained
- about a handful ice cubes
- Add all of the ingredients but the ice cube into the blender jug. Process until smooth.
- Divide the ice cubes in two glasses and pour over the caiprissimo. Serve immediately.
I weighed all ingredients for you. It’s much easier to put the blender jug on the scale and add everything, also saves cleaning the measuring cups…
I am going to try a version with frozen peaches (very soon).
Number of servings: 2
- 120 ml / 1/2 cup water
- 100 g / 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1-2 springs of fresh rosemary
- In a small saucepan over medium high heat, bring water and sugar to boil and let cook for one minute.
- Add rosemary springs and let cool completely. It’s best to make this one day ahead and leave the rosemary in the syrup for a deeper flavor.
- Remove the rosemary the next day and store airtight in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Also great for tea.
Come a little bit closer, I going to reveal a secret. Shush! The Southeastern of the US is magnificent. If everyone would know how beautiful the South is, it would be too crowded down here, so we rather keep it as a secret. If you drive less than two hours northbound from Atlanta, you’ll find yourself in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This is what we did last weekend. The next day after my birthday party, Mr. F and I packed some leftovers and the rest of my birthday cake (check out instagram for a picture) and our dog Lily into the car and we spend a whole weekend in the wilderness of this mountains. Well wilderness more or less, how wild is the wilderness, if your cabin has a hot tub and a coffee machine?! But you know what I mean. For a city slicker like me it was rather rural. Warnings like: Black Bears had been sighted in this area lately or make sure your car is well maintained and you fill up your gas tank before you drive this route, already scares me a bit more than I like to admit. It was a little adventure and also peaceful and calm, I enjoyed every minute of our getaway. Here are some snapshots, I hope your are as smitten as I am of our beautiful South.