Sweet endings or a great start to the day

Tree Ripened Fruit Cake

~2 Cups of fruit per cake – here I used 2 apples on one and 5 nectarines on another
Basic yellow cake batter, or the batter for fruit cobbler
Butter to grease the pan and ~2 Tablespoons to drizzle on top
Cinnamon
Sugar
Lemon zest
Apricot preserves if you are making an apple cake

Butter a medium sized cake pan and mix a batter together. If you need a batter recipe, see my cobbler recipe for a super easy batter. A yellow cake or butter cake batter would be great too.

Peel apples, core and halve them. (Nectarines don’t have to be peeled.) If using apples or pears, score the outer side with long knife cuts, but don’t go all the way through. Put the batter in the pan and lay the fruit nicely into the top of it.

*Only in the case of apples, thin about 2 Tablespoons of apricot preserves with water and spread this over the apple halves. This can be done before or after baking. (I tried it both ways.)

Mix about 1/4 cup of sugar with lemon zest and / or cinnamon, and sprinkle this over the top, definitely just optional if you used the apricot preserves on apple but I actually like all the flavors mingling together. Melt the butter and drizzle over the top.

Bake for about 45 minutes at 375F or 160C. Serve with fresh whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or a slice of cheddar.

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Cardamom Coffee

Delicious, if subtle. I had been meaning to try this for months, but there are not very many places where one can buy Cardamom in Stuttgart. I finally found some in a nice spice shop in Markthalle.

Grind a few cardamom seeds in with your coffee beans, 1 -2 tablespoons depending on the size of the pot of coffee. Okay, to be honest, I don’t use a grinder at this point in my life, so I just threw some ground cardamom on top of the pre-ground beans, and it tasted really nice! It is subtle though. I like coffee with milk.

milk coffee

If you are inclined to further reading, here is a link to another blog that describes cardamom benefits. http://www.sunwarrior.com/news/15-health-benefits-of-cardamom/

Simple Salad Dressing No. 2 with Maple and Mustard

Combine 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup plain white vinegar and one clove of minced garlic. Add about one tablespoon of french mustard and one tablespoon of pure maple syrup. Whisk together.

Banaroons©

SAMSUNG CSCCookies of love with no added sugar, just pure deliciousness and only four ingredients.  So simple you won’t believe you didn’t make these sooner. Did I mention these are also Vegan?

4 very ripe bananas
3 cups or so of shredded plain coconut
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
oil for the baking tray (I used the broiler pan)

©2018 gooddinnerparty

Preheat the oven to 160 C with air circulation.

Smash the bananas in a mixing bowl. I used the potato masher to not use electricity. Add baking powder and coconut and stir it up well.

Spread about two tablespoons of oil over your baking tray and drop spoonfuls of the goo onto the pan. Bake for about 12 minutes and check. You might need to turn the tray around to get them evenly browned, or remove a few if they brown faster than others. A few of mine only needed 10 minutes but most of them did well with 18.

Good luck with a batch lasting much longer than overnight. ♥

If you like these amazing cookies, you might also like the music my friends and I produced in Washington State a few years back, of lovely string quartet music. You can download tracks here >>Tranquillo, A Northwest Celebration

Favorite Chinese dish?

Hi food-devouring friends! I just wanted to pose a quick question to you – what is your favorite Chinese, or “Chinesey” dish? I’m actually making a dinner party tomorrow (of Chinese dishes) and have some ideas in mind, but it has been four years already since I moved out of Shanghai and I fear my sense of Chinese deliciousness has suffered. So please help me and let me know what dish you like to order in Chinese restaurants, or if there is anything Chinese you love to make at home! Thank you! Happy cooking! PS I’ll post my dishes here after the event, so give me a few days! Lunch in Anting Town

(In the middle of a lunch in Anting town a few years back I remembered to take a photo)

Kimchi, Corn & Walnut Salad

Kimchi, Corn & Walnut Salad

What do corn, kimchi and walnut have in common? Nothing, really, but on a summer salad they taste pretty nice. Food fusion. Like it? Please comment!

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2 servings

Ingredients

3 Cups torn lettuce leaves

2 ripe tomatoes, cut into pieces

1/2 Cup cooked corn kernels

4 T sliced kimchi

3 T walnuts, broken into bits

yogurt dressing

Lay the lettuce in the bowls first, then top it with the other ingredients. Bonus points for making a tomato ring around the center.

 

 

Nectarine Tarts

Check these out. Super simple and can be made in about half an hour.

Great hand food for your next grill party.

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Make a simple crust: about 1 1/2 cups of flour (I used spelt but any kind will do), a dash of salt, two tablespoons of cold butter cut into pieces and blend this together with your hands. Add about 2 smallish handfuls of splashed of cold water to this and stir together. Squeeze with your hands and if it is still too crumbly to hold together, add another splash or two of cold water. Just don’t overdo the water. It will still appear a bit crumbly until you press it together with your hands. As soon as it holds together and is slightly malleable, put it between some plastic wrap and refrigerate it as you take care of the fruit.

Heat the oven to about 375 F or 175 C. Grease a 12-muffin pan. Clean and slice about five nectarines into a large bowl. Add about 1/3 cup sugar or agave, 1 tablespoon cinnamon and 3 tablespoons of flour to thicken this a bit.

Cut the dough into 12 pieces and form each into a somewhat round, thin, flat pancake and lay them into the muffin tin one by one. Set the nectarine mixture into each and bake for about 22 minutes. Let them cool off before eating!

Cold Plates

One of the easiest presentations you can create is a simple cold plate.

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This is store-purchased marinated chicken kebabs that I cooked the night before and chilled. Everything else is fresh: avocado, tomato, yellow bell pepper and a dollop of full-fat Greek yogurt. If your appetite is extra big, serve this with corn tortillas and salsa.

Fingernail Cake

Okay, it isn’t actually made with fingernails. But the almonds on top did slightly resemble them, hence the name. It is more like a lemony, almond-blueberry torte, but without eggs and comparatively little sugar.

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Ingredients

3/4 C (150 g) blanched almond meal

1 C (200 g) whole (un-blanched) almond meal

1 C (200 g) sifted white flour

3/4 C (150 g) sugar or slightly less

1 C (200 g) apple sauce (1 jar)

1/2 C (100 g) oil

1/2 (100 g) milk or soy milk

1 teaspoon (2 g) salt

2 teaspoons (4 g) baking powder

1 teaspoon (2 g) vanilla

1 lemon, zested, plus all of its juice squeezed into the batter

2 C (200 g) blueberries

1 C (100 g) split or sliced almonds for the topping

Butter or coconut oil for greasing a spring-form pan

 

Mix all but the last three ingredients. Gently fold in the blueberries. (I used less than 2 cups–more like 1/2 Cup.) Stir it all gently together and after buttering the pan, pour it in. Sprinkle the remaining almonds over the top and slightly press them into it. Bake about 45 minutes at 375 F starting from a cold oven, or 175 C. When it is ready the almonds should be slightly brown and a knife inserted in the middle should come out clean. It is good served warm.

 

Note: This is a very moist cake, which retains its moistness and freshness for several days. It’s nice for dessert but it also makes a great breakfast. The almonds give it a good amount of protein. I suppose this could also be considered vegan if you used coconut oil to grease the pan. I also wouldn’t say no to a dollop of whipped cream on top.

 

Summer Bread Salad

This is the perfect recipe for a hot day when you don’t want to turn on the stove, and it keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator. My friend made this for us a few times and served it with other cold plates when we were on the road. I really enjoyed it and wanted to recreate it for my family.

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Summer Bread Salad 2016.07.28

©Bonny Buckley

This recipe makes four main-dish servings.

Ingredients:

half a loaf of high quality bread with a decent crust, cut into 1” squares

2 large tomatoes, cut into pieces about the same size as the bread

1 scallion or red onion, sliced thin

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 can of sardines, cut into bite sized pieces, reserve the oil

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup vinegar

1/4 cup basil leaves cut into bits

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup Swiss cheese, cut into cubes (optional)

1/2 cup green or black olives (optional)

4 large lettuce leaves, for serving

Whisk the wet ingredients, tomatoes and spices together in a medium sized bowl, including the reserved oil from the sardines. Place the remaining ingredients except for the lettuce leaves in a large bowl, and stir in the wet mixture so that all of the bread pieces are coated. Let it rest for at least five minutes (up to a few hours, covered) so that the flavors have a chance to soak into the bread. Place one lettuce leaf on each plate, and top each with a few scoops of the bread salad mixture.

Hints: let the salad reach room temperature before serving if you refrigerated it. I think this improves the overall taste. The cheese and olives are optional, but nice additions. This could also be made without sardines, but in this case you need to add about a quarter of a cup of olive oil and I would not serve it then as a main dish, unless you do include the cheese.

Bonus energy-saving note:  this dish is made without heating anything at home, and uses the oil in the sardines instead of wasting it. You can have this ready in fifteen minutes or less.

Rock the party with a real Shrimp Louis

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Shrimp Louis

This lovely salad serves well as a main course, but it could be one of many cold courses in a festive summer occasion. The various colors and flavors balance each other well and this could be paired with buttered baguette or garlic bread. If you have the luxury of fresh cooked crab, you can do Crab Louis instead of shrimp. My grandparents used to take me to the Oregon coast when I was a kid and we had a ritual of making these every summer.

4 Servings

Ingredients for the salad

4 cups of cleaned and torn iceberg or head lettuce
1 avocado, sliced (optional)
1 green onion, diced
1 ripe tomato, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 lb of large or king-sized prawns, de-veined, shelled, cooked and then chilled
2 sliced, hard-boiled eggs

Ingredients for the dressing

1/3 C Tomato ketchup
1/3 C Mayonnaise or sour cream
Juice squeezed from half a fresh lemon
1 t Wasabi (optional)
1 chopped dill pickle or about a tablespoon of relish

Add the vegetables to a large bowl, toss them together and set the shrimp and eggs on top. Whisk together the dressing ingredients. You can either pour it on the top of the whole salad and stir it or let individuals add as much or little dressing as they want. Wasabi gives it a kick so if you aren’t used to it you might want to use less or omit it, especially if kids are going to eat this.

Do picnics count as dinner parties?

It has been a while since we hosted a dinner party but I definitely have the itch to have one soon. I was about to say I can’t remember the last time we had a dinner party, but then I started thinking about summer and all the amazing picnics we had. And, we did host a grand dinner party for our wedding guests in the Dining Room at Mount Rainier Inn at Paradise. That was a truly wonderful experience I will never forget, as the food was not only lovely, the atmosphere was festive and bright, and a Jamaican chef came out and serenaded us! It was fantastic.

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On the subject of picnics as dinner parties, I will have to argue for them. We had an indoor picnic also in the Inn at Paradise, due to heavy rain, right after our wedding ceremony. We will forever be grateful to our family and guests who all chipped in to help prepare it. From champagne, for our German post-wedding toast, to heart-shaped sandwiches, mini cold-cut kebabs, chocolate chip and peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies, fruit kebabs, chips, drinks and a fabulous cake, there were many generous, helping hands! We loved it!

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Back to the subject, though, of picnics as dinner parties. We also had many outdoor dinners “down by the pond” last summer, which are words frequently spoken at my parents’ home. Some of them ended around the bonfire with s’mores and a weenie roast. Dinner parties in the open air along the Ahtanum Ridge outside of Yakima made a significant impact on all of us. Good dishes that are not too fussy, group participation and room to breathe (as in the great outdoors) are all key elements of a great dinner party.

Fruit Cobbler

a very easy but impressive dessert!
Four servings
(can be easily doubled for a larger cobbler)

4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup oats
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
2 cups of sliced fresh apples, rhubarb, plums, peaches or
nectarines, or whole blueberries,
strawberries, raspberries, blackberries
or a combination of fruits (or a 12-ounce
package of frozen berries) plus raisins if you like them

cinnamon for the dry ingredients and for sprinkling over the top
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Set the butter in an 8-inch square or 9-inch round pan; set this in the oven to melt while you heat it to 350 degrees F or 175 degrees C.

Whisk flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, walnuts and salt in a large bowl that you can pour from. Add milk and vanilla; whisk to form a batter.

When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the oven. Pour batter into the pan over the melted butter. Place fruit over batter mostly in the middle in a pile, but sprinkle a bit also around the edges. Sprinkle with more cinnamon, if desired.

When the batter becomes slightly brown around the edges and the fruit bubbles, check it with a knife inserted in the middle after about 45-50 minutes. When the knife comes out without the batter sticking to it, it should be ready. There might be a little bit of fruit juice or fruit on the knife as it won’t come out totally clean like when a regular cake is finished. Hint: don’t be so eager to eat it that you burn your mouth while it is too hot! Allow about 10-15 minutes for it to cool a bit. Or it is wonderful served at room temperature too. I pretty much always serve it plain but it would be amazing with good vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

Oatmeal-raisin Cookie Bars (Haferflacken Kekse)

 

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Oatmeal-raisin Cookie Bars
Ingredients
80 grams Butter, softened or melted
35 grams Sugar
1 egg
A few drops of Vanilla (optional)
1 small spoonful of Cinnamon (optional)
20 grams Coconut (optional)
100 grams Flour
150 grams Oats (Haferflocken)
1 small spoonful of Salt (optional)
~50 grams Raisins or combination of dried fruit
*You can also add a few chopped nuts if desired.

1. Preheat oven to 175ºC. (350F)
2. Mix the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until completely combined.
3. Add the egg and mix until incorporated. If using, add the vanilla, salt and cinnamon and mix until incorporated.
4. Stir in the flour, the raisins and oatmeal until combined. (Note: it will be a bit stiff and seem a bit dry but you smash it together in the pan before baking it.)
5. Spread it into a small pan so that it is about 1 cm or less thick. Flatten the dough so that it is more or less even before baking. (Not sure if it is a must, but I spread the pan with butter first.)
6. Bake until just slightly browned on the edges and middle still looks undercooked, about 14 minutes with the oven fan running.
7. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes and then use a plastic spatula to cut it into squares. Carefully remove them, or at least loosen them in the pan until cooled completely. It is best to cut them into squares when it is just slightly warm, at just about 10-12 minutes out of the oven. If they are too hot, they will come apart. If it is completely cool, they will be hard to cut and you might damage the pan. Otherwise this is a fast and simple cookie recipe.

This recipe yields ~ 18 squares.

Schorla

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A common beverage in restaurants and at home in southern Germany is the “Schorla.” It is simply a mixture of sparkling water and the juice of your choice. It tastes delicious, with half the sugar and twice the water of a regular glass of juice. Think of it as non-alcoholic champagne.