Senin, 28 November 2011

Zucchini and Hazelnut Salad

I am not really a friend of cooked Zucchini. However, I like them if they have a little crunch, like they do in this salad. The sliced Zucchinis are grilled for a couple of minutes on each side and then marinated in Balsamic Vinegar and Hazelnut Oil. The salad is served with toasted Hazelnuts and shaved Parmesan and makes a perfect appetizer or light salad. If you don't have Hazelnuts you can replace them easily with Pine Nuts.

Zucchini and Hazelnut Salad
(Yotam Ottolenghi)
serves 4
1/3 cup shelled hazelnuts
7 small zucchini (about 1¾ lb [795 g])
4 tbsp [60 ml] extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp [5 ml] balsamic vinegar
1¼ cups mixed green and purple basil leaves
3 oz [85 g] top-quality parmigiano-reggiano, broken up or very thinly sliced
2 tsp [10 ml] hazelnut oil
Preheat the oven to 300ºF [150ºC]. Scatter the hazelnuts over a baking sheet and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, or until nicely browned. Let them cool down before rubbing them between your hands to remove most of the skins (some should remain). Chop the hazelnuts roughly.
Place a ridged griddle pan on a high heat and leave it there until it’s almost red-hot – at least 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, trim the ends of the zucchini and cut them on an angle into 3/8-inch-thick slices. Place them in a bowl and toss with half the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Place the slices in the hot grill pan and char-grill for about 2 minutes on each side; turn them over using tongs. You want to get distinct char marks without cooling the zucchini through. Transfer to a mixing bowl, pour over the balsamic vinegar, toss together and set aside.
Once the zucchini have cooled down, add the remaining olive oil, the basil and hazelnuts. Mix lightly, then taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Transfer the salad to a flat plate, incorporating the parmigiano-reggiano, and drizzle over the hazelnut oil.

Senin, 21 November 2011

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake

It might be too late to bake this cake as an elegant Thanksgiving dessert but it is definitely not too late to add it to your "to-do" list for the upcoming holiday season. This cake tastes to great, that the time it takes to prepare it will be rewarded with a dessert full of deep, dark, chocolate flavor, oozing salted caramel and chocolate ganache. It is a rich cake, but that's what makes it so incredibly good!

Sweet & Salty Chocolate Cake
adapted from  and 
Baked, New Frontiers in Baking 

Note from Dana:
Now that I have made this cake twice, I have a few pointers. The cakes themselves can be made up to a week in advance, wrapped well in plastic and then foil, and frozen. Let them thaw overnight at room temperature. The caramel sauce can be made a few days in advance, bring it to room temperature before using, otherwise it will be too hard to spread. When making the caramel, be sure to use a medium size saucepan for the water and sugar mixture. You may be tempted to use something small because the volume isn’t that large initially. Once you add the cream, it will bubble vigorously and you need the extra space. On that same note, be very careful when you add the cream – the steam is a big burn hazard. Lastly, the caramel goes from just perfect to burned in about one second, so take it off the heat just before you think it is ready. The residual heat will continue to cook it.

For the Classic Chocolate Layers

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ¼ cups hot water
⅔ cup sour cream
2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup vegetable shortening
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Salted Caramel
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
¼ cup sour cream

For the Whipped Caramel Ganache Frosting

1 lb. dark chocolate (60 to 70% cacao), chopped
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
To Assemble the Cake
2 teaspoons fleur de sel, plus more for garnish
Make the Classic Chocolate Cake Layers
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour, and knock out the excess flour.

In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, hot water, and sour cream and set aside to cool.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until ribbonlike, about 5 minutes. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.

Add the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes on the rack, remove the pans, and let cool completely.

Make the Salted Caramel

In a small saucepan, combine the cream and fleur de sel. Bring to a simmer over very low heat until the salt is dissolved.
Meanwhile, keeping a close on the cream mixture so it doesn’t burn, in a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don’t splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until and instant-read thermometer read 350°F, 6 to 8 minutes.(I took my from the heat at 300 F) Remove from the heat and let cool for 1 minute.

Add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Whisk in the sour cream. Let the caramel cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Make the Whipped Caramel Ganache Frosting

Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.
In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over very low heat.
Meanwhile, keeping a close on the cream mixture so it doesn’t burn, in a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don’t splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until and instant-read thermometer read 350°F, 6 to 8 minutes(I took my from the heat at 300 F) . Remove from the heat and let cool for 1 minute.

Add the cream to the caramel and stir to combine. Stir slowly for 2 minutes, then pour the caramel over the chocolate. Let the caramel and chocolate sit for 1 minutes, then, starting in the center of the bowl, and working your way out to the edges, slowly stir the chocolate and caramel mixture in a circle until the chocolate is completely melted. Let the mixture cool, then transfer it to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Mix on low speed until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the butter, beating until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and beat on high speed until the mixture is fluffy.

Assemble the Cake

Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Spread 1/4 cup of the caramel over the top. Let the caramel soak into the cake, then spread 3/4 cup of the ganache frosting over the caramel. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the fleur de sel over the frosting, then top with the second cake layer.
Spread with caramel, then the caramel frosting and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the fleur de sel. Then top with the third layer. Spread with caramel. Crumb coat the cake and put the cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up the frosting. Frost the sides and top with the remaining frosting. Garnish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.

The cake will keep in a cake saver at room temperature (cool and humidity free) for up to 3 days. If your room is not cool, place the cake in a cake saver and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.

Sabtu, 19 November 2011


Shakshuka is a traditional Middle Eastern Dish and usually served for breakfast in a cast iron pan with bread.  Sweet, caramelized onions, peppers and tomatoes flavored with a pinch of cayenne, thyme and roasted cumin are the ingredients of this unbelievable tasty and aromatic dish. I think it is not only perfect for breakfast but also for a brunch, lunch or a light dinner.

( Yotam Ottolenghi)
serves 4

  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 190 ml  light olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, peeled and sliced
  • 2 red and 2 yellow peppers, cored and cut into 2cm strips
  • 4 teaspoons muscovado sugar
  • 2 bayleaves
  • 6 sprigs thyme, picked and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
  • 6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon saffron strands
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • Up to 250ml water
  • 8 free-range eggs
1.In a large saucepan, dry-roast the cumin on high heat for two minutes. Add the oil and sauté the onions for two minutes.
2.Add the peppers, sugar, bayleaves, thyme, parsley and two tablespoons of coriander, and cook on high heat to get a nice colour. Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes, adding enough water to keep it the consistency of a pasta sauce.
3.Taste and adjust the seasoning. It should be potent and flavoursome. You can prepare this mix in advance.
4.Place four saucepans on medium heat and divide the mixture between them. Break two eggs into each pan, pouring into gaps in the mixture.
5.Sprinkle with salt, cover and cook very gently for 10-12 minutes, until the egg just sets. Sprinkle with coriander and serve with chunky white bread.

Kamis, 10 November 2011

Pierre Hermé's Olive Sablés

Pierre Hermé is a french Pastry Chef who is famous for his macaroons. He often makes use of savory ingredients in his desserts: traces of balsamic vinegar, Parmesan, or olives in his cakes and layered dessert cremes. He was the youngest person ever to be named France's Pastry Chef of the Year.
When I read his recipes for olive sables it intrigued me that he used Black Olives and Olive Oil in his recipe. When you bite in this cookie, the first taste you will get will be sweet but then comes the salty olives followed by the base flavor of olive oil. The texture of this cookie is crisp with an light crumbly snap. They are perfect with a glass of wine or champaign or with a cocktail.

Pierre Hermé's Olive Sablés
makes 60

The dough should chill for at least several hours, better overnight and you should use an oil-cured, meaty and chewy olive, canned black olives won't work in this recipe. 

1 large hard-boiled egg, white discarded
2 1/4 cups (300 g) all purpose flour
6 Tbsp (45 g) Potato Starch (I used corn starch)
15 Tbsp unsalted butter ( 1 stick + 7 Tbsp) (215 g), at room temperature
1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil (a fruity olive oil is best)
1 cup ( 100 g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 1/2 oz (about 1/2 cup/ 70g) pitted black olives, preferably oil-cured, chopped
1 teasp / 5 g fleur de sel (optional) ( I used a good pinch)

Grate the hard-boiled yolk onto a piece of wax-paper. Put the flour and potato starch in a strainer set over a large bowl and sift into the bowl, whisk to thoroughly blend.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until it's soft and creamy. Beat in the olive oil, followed by the grated yolk. Blend in the confectioners' sugar, reduce the speed to low, and add the dry ingredients. Mix until the dough just comes together, then stir in the chopped olives. You'll have a very soft, very pliable dough. 

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide it into thirds, and shape each piece into a log about 1 1/2 inches (3,5 cm) in diameter. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least several hours. If you're in a hurry, you can freeze the logs for an hour or so.

When you're ready to bake the sables, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F/ 160 C. 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Working with 1 log at a time, slice the cookies 1/4 inch (0,5 cm) thick and arrange them on the baking sheet. (When they break, just press them slightly together with your fingers) - you want to bake these one sheet at a time.

Bake the sables for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the midway mark, or until the cookies are firm but not colored. They may turn golden around the edges, but you don't want them to brown. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool, and repeat with the remaining logs of dough, making sure to use a cook baking sheet each time.

The logs can be frozen for up to 2 months, there's no need to defrost before slicing and baking.

Minggu, 06 November 2011

Ricotta Tart

Think of a savory cheesecake, but much lighter and with Mediterranean flavors. This Ricotta Tart is great for lunch with a green salad, or as an appetizer. The crust needs to be baked beforehand so plan ahead. I also followed Yotam's recommendation and added goat cheese to the filling which gave it a nice, slightly sour flavor.

Ricotta Tart
(Yotam Ottolenghi)
6 - 8 servings

  • 200 g/7 oz shortcrust pastry (I used the recipe below)
  • 30 g/ 1 oz unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 yolks
  • 500 g/ 17.6 oz ricotta
  • 20 g/ 2 Tbsp chopped basil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 200 g/ 7 oz sundried tomatoes (plus a little of their oil)
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme

1.Heat the oven to 170C/335F/gas mark 3. Roll out the pastry and cut out a circle that is just slightly larger than the base of a 24cm /9,5" spring-form cake tin. Place this inside the tin and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cover with baking paper and baking beans, and bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and paper, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked through and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down.
2.Meanwhile, heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan over low-medium heat, then sauté the onions and four of the garlic cloves, stirring from time to time, for 20 minutes or so, until the onions are soft and sweet but haven't taken on any colour. Set aside to cool.
3.Whisk the eggs and yolks in a large mixing bowl, preferably with an electric mixer, until light and airy. Add the ricotta carefully and work just until it is well incorporated. Fold in the onion and garlic mix, basil, salt and pepper, then pour over the pastry and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until just set.
4.While the tart is in the oven, blitz the sundried tomatoes, the picked leaves of three thyme sprigs, the reserved chopped garlic, a pinch of salt and a few tablespoons of the tomato oil – you want a smooth paste. Spread this mix evenly over the top of the tart as it comes out of the oven, top with three whole thyme sprigs, then return to the oven for five minutes. Remove, leave to cool, and serve warmish or cold.
Shortcrust Pastry
150 g / 3.5 oz AP Flour
75 g/ 2.64 oz cold Butter, diced
30 ml/ 1oz Ice Water
Pinch of salt
Mix everything together quickly either with your fingers or with a food processor until a dough forms. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

Kamis, 03 November 2011

Lemon Poppyseed Cheesecakes

Before I was even able to take a picture of them, the first batch of these little cheesecakes was already gone. They just dissapeared. When I made the second batch nobody was allowed to touch them until I had my picture. These little cheesecakes reminded me of key lime pie a little. The crust was extra crunchy because of the poppyseed and the filling was creamy and full of lemon flavor. They make a light and elegant dessert or you can enjoy them with tea or coffee.

  • Lemon Cheesecake and Poppy Seed Tartlets
  • Yotam Ottolenghi
  • (makes 24 small cheesecakes)

  • 200 g/ 7 oz cream cheese
  • 60 g/ 2 oz caster sugar
  • 2 small eggs
  • 90 g/ 3.2 oz soured cream
  • Grated zest and juice of 2 small lemons (50ml juice, 1 tbsp zest)
  • Melted butter, for brushing the tins
  • Icing sugar, to finish (optional)
  • For the pastry
  • 170 g/6 oz plain flour
  • 50 g/1.8 oz icing sugar
  • 90 g/ 3.2 oz cold butter, diced
  • Grated zest of ¼ lemon
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  •  teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Roughly 1 tbsp cold water

1.Start with the pastry. Put the flour, sugar, butter, zest, poppy seeds and salt in the bowl of a food processor and work to uniform crumbs. Add the egg yolk and just enough water to bring everything together, collect the pastry into a flat block, wrap in cling-film and chill for at least 30 minutes.
2.Preheat the oven to 160C/335F/gas mark 2½. Brush eight small muffin tins (or shallow tart tins, as before) with butter. Roll out the pastry 2-3mm thick and cut out eight circles to fit the tins. Line the tins with the pastry, rest in the fridge for 20 minutes, then line each pastry case with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden. Remove, take out the beans and leave to cool down.
3.Lower the heat to 150C/300F/gas mark 2. Whisk the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and uniform, whisk in the eggs, then the soured cream, lemon zest and juice. Fill the cases to the top and bake for 15 minutes, until just set. Leave to cool, then chill for at least an hour before taking out of the moulds. Dust with icing sugar, if you like.