Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Bulgur Salad

Yay, the sun is back in London!! After two weeks of almost constant rain I couldn't have been more excited in the past couple of days - the warm light dancing around your nose while you shuffle through miles and miles of piles and piles of leaves in gold-orange-brown tones - quintessentials of autumn!
Most times I actually took off my jacket while sitting in the sun - it almost felt like summer.

And summer reminds me of this:

A slightly tangy, slightly sweet, light and bursting in flavour Bulgur Salad with green bean, tomatoes, olives, bell peppers, onion and lime. I had it for lunch for a week straight once and planned on bringing it to a bunch of get-togethers: picnics and bbqs during the whole past summer months, well in the end those plans got cancelled by the german summer weather but I can assure you that this recipe can easily be transformed into an autumn one: it comforts you when you sit on the couch and eat it with a spoon straight from the bowl (and no, I definitely did not do that.. or maybe I did but you won't tell anyone, right!?). And if you can why not incorporate some roasted pumpkin or carrots? Adding a little autumn-y orange and even more flavour for a vitamin-packed-flu killer salad - 'cause that's another one who seems to have settled in in London for now.. Have a great and hopefully flu-free autumn everyone!

Bulgur Salad
- makes 6 generous (main course) servings
- 1 and 1/2 cup bulgur
- 2 cups/300g green beans, cooked
- 1/2 a cucumber
- 1 onion
- 1 tomato
- 1 bell pepper (I used a green one)
- 4 Tbsp of black pitted olives
- juice of 1 lime
- 5 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 Tbsp white vinegar
- handful of chopped parsley
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the bulgur in water according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile chop the vegetables: cooked beans, cucumber, tomato, bell pepper and olives into small cubes/pieces. Then slice the onion into rings.
3. Mix the cooked bulgur with the chopped vegetables.
4. Prepare the dressing: Mix the oil and vinegar with the limejuice, parsley and salt and pepper.Pour over the prepared salad and mix well. Let it sit in the refrigerator preferably at least 2 hours or overnight before serving to allow for the flavours to sink in. Serve and enjoy!

Friday, 3 October 2014

Pear & Double Almond Upside Down Cake {One year blogiversary}

Okay, so a year ago today I spontaneously decided to finally listen to my mom's advice  (yes, there's a lot of truth behind that saying suggesting that moms are always right, even when that can be hard to accept sometimes... Just kiddin' - love you mom!) and finally started a food blog. Random site note: I did this a day before an important exam, yep that's right, should have been studying, nevertheless got that really good grade in the end - take time for what you love, happiness is key, lesson learned! Last year's third of october was a moody rainy day in Germany - perfect for this loaf shaped Zebra cake! During the year you might have noticed my love for streusel/crumbs and upside down cakes (an addiction that I just got to through blogging) - if you're a first time visitor then feel free to take a glance at the blog's recipe index and you'll possibly agree with me! I decided to stick to the tradition and the essentials so today there's a cinnamon spiced pear upside down cake with a whole lot of caramellized almonds on top - all those autumn flavours packed into one piece of cake!

But back to the story, because birthdays make me nostalgic - I basically spent the whole day working on that blog design, layout etc. to have it up and running within a couple of hours (screw those characterisations and stuff that should've got in my head..) Going for color or black and white in the design seemed like the most important question to be answered :-P. In the end I settled for a colorful one - which got changed from orange/yellow to blue/grey/yellow during the last 365 days! 

Oh and what an adventure those have been! My personal life got turned complitely upside down: graduating high school, a lot of adventurous travels and now I'm sitting in my bed in the big capital of the UK, ready to fill up the next 365 days of blogging with trumendous stories from my Au pair year and of course: food. All the food - 'cause that's why you are here for! Summary: happy Birthday A Spoonful of Photography - thanks for being my creative outlet and thanks to/for all those amazing people that i was able to meet online through you during this year, the ones who support me and the ones who i would call a friend already! Cheers or moreover happy cake devouring!

Pear & Double Almond Upside Down Cake with caramellized Honey Almonds
-makes one regular loaf sized cake
- For the Pear layer:
- 2 medium sized pears
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon

- For the crumbs:
- 60g butter
- 120g flour
- 35g sugar

- For the cake
- 100g butter
- 80g brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3 Tbsp honey (may be substituted with three heaping Tbsp of white sugar)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- 200g flour (I used Whole wheat)
- 170g ground almonds
- up to 100 ml milk
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar

For the caramellized honey almond topping:
- 80g whole almonds, blanched if you prefer that
- 30g brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp honey
- optional (even though highly recommended!): 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 175/350.
2. Prepare the pear layer: melt the butter and grease a regular sized loaf tin with it. Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon and dust the bottom and sides of the pan.
3. Wash and slice two pears as thinly as possible (you should be almost able to look through them) layer the slices upside down in the pan so they'll be right side up again once the cake get's inverted.
4. Prepare the crumbs: work together the butter, sugar and flour until a dough starts to come together, loose it with a fork into fine crumbs and set aside.
5.Prepare the cake batter: In a medium sized bowl beat together the  butter and brown sugar for about 2 minutes until creamy.  Seperate one egg. Add in the remaining egg, plus the egg yolk to the butter-sugar mixture and beat throughoutly.
6. In a seperate bowl mix the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Divide the butter mixture into three equal parts, briefly lift in the flour mixture into two of the butter parts, do the same with the ground almonds and the remaining butter part. Divide the milk amongst the two batters, you might need a little more until you've got a rather thick consistency which is supposed to ribbon off the spatula. Beat the egg white until stiff peaks form and fold it into the almond dough.
7. Pour half of the flour batter on top of the prepared pears. Press down the middle a bit and fill it with the almond batter, then cover it with the remaining flour batter. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until a skewer or cake tester inserted cones out clean.
8. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then carefully run a knife arount the edges to loosen the cake (use a sharp and thin blade to not destroy the pears). Invert on to a plate and remove the pan. Let cool for a further 15-20 minutes.
9. After the further cooling prepare the honey almond topping: put the whole almonds into a pan and roast them for 2-3 minutes on medium high heat until slightly browned. Then add in the sugar and honey, reduce stirring to a minimum until the sugar has caramellized (this will take about 3 minutes on medium high heat), in the last second stir in the cinnamon. Pour on top of the cake, carefully seperate the almonds with a fork, to allow for easier cake cutting later. Let sit for 5 minutes, then either serve immediately or keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days wrapped in aluminium foil. Enjoy!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Super-crusty Apple pie

My new running track in London goes right around one of the many beautiful green parks here. For most people this would rather be called a forest though, but I think "park" just sounds more british or sophisticated (in a good way!). And at one point I pass a beautiful small apple tree - it's not actually that huge or big old apple tree like, but it's like a miraculous spot right in the middle of an already magic area. I don't think I'll have to start much rambling about how much I love apples or apple trees - but as soon as the green gems start to get some colour going and urge to be picked I won't wait long to take the call!

We actually picked a lot of feral apples on a family trip to southern Germany back in August. And what do you do with all the apples? You may have guessed it: BAKE. SOME. CAKE. Sorry for being so direct with my point, but if you've got some buttery crust with juicy sweet apples - what's not to love? You don't aaaalways have to be as fancy and put them in a chocolate cake like here or sprinkle them into muffins like this - sometimes a simple and quick cake is all you need to go with your afternoon cup of coffee or tea. To remind you that simple things own some magic as well and that you can find it if you only let the magic in.

In this way, get your oven going and put those apples out there to a good use - happy baking everyone! :)

Super-crusty Apple Pie
makes one pie, 20 cm in diameter
For the filling:
- 6 apples, I used tart feral ones
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp cinnamon
For the crust:
- 250g butter
- 180g sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 350g whole wheat flour
- 2 Tbsp cinnamon
- 3 Tbsp milk
For serving, optional:
- 200g whipping cream, whipped to desired consistency and optionally sweetened

1. Peel the apples and cut them into small cubes, mix with the sugar and cinnamon.
2. Preheat your oven to 175 °C/ 350 °F. In a medium sized bowl beat together the butter and brown sugar for about 2 minutes until creamy. Mix in the eggs, then work in the flour, cinnamon and salt.
3. Grease or line a 20 cm pan with parchment paper. Spread one half of the crust dough onto the bottom and the sides of the pan. Drain the excess liquid from the prepared apple filling and layer the apples onto the prepared dough. Top with rough pieces of the remaining dough and glaze with the milk.
4. Bake your pie for 45-60 minutes until crust is slightly browned and apples are fully cooked.
5. Remove from the oven, let sit for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Best served warm with a generous dollop of whipped cream Enjoy!