Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Summer Delight - Sugar Plum Cake

I remember it pretty well: those lazy afternoons in our garden, sitting on the terrace, and indulging ourselves in sugar plum cake. What, that doesn’t sound very decadent? Mind you, when I say indulging it means two huge baking sheets full of sweet yeast dough and studded with plums shared between five people. And it surly didn’t take all weekend to polish it off. Even with such an abundance of cake, someone peeking through our hedge-like shrubs could still find us fighting over the last piece – not to mention the heated discussions about who ate more than his or her fair share…

Some people might find this cake rather plain and won’t understand the fuss about it. However - tart-sweet plums on top of a tender yeast cake with a slightly soggy upper layer where all the purple juices join with the crumb – this simple combination sounds like heaven to me! Unfortunately, when moving to Australia I had to endure a full 15 months without sugar plum cake. Whilst one can find almost any exotic fruit in Sydney, I could spot not a single sugar plum. Until about ten days ago: Roaming through the bustle of Market City and doing my weekend shopping, there they were all of a sudden: purple-blue, nice and plump, with a seam and a pointed end. I happily bought a kilogram – of course, it was perfectly clear what to do with them. Had I just known that I wouldn’t be able to get some more the next weekend…I had big plans making plum compote, baking more plum cake, and freezing some for future use. Alas, the only thing I can do is to hope and wait for better luck the next weekend.

Sugar Plum Cake

The ingredients

100g butter
250ml milk
500g all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
100g sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar
1 sachet dry yeast or 30g fresh yeast
2-3 eggs (depending on size – if using three large eggs, use less milk)

1kg sugar plums, halved, stones removed
2-3 tbsp caster sugar

The yield
One third of the dough is more than enough to cover a spring form 24 centimetres in diameter. The rest of the dough can be baked as a brioche (or topped with other fruits, streusel, cream cheese/curd/sour cream filling – whatever strikes your fancy).

Melt butter. Pour cold milk into the melted butter, the mixture should be lukewarm. Set aside.

Mix other ingredients in a large bowl, making sure not to put the yeast next to the salt. Pour in butter-milk-mixture.

Using your mixer with the dough hooks, beat the dough until it comes together in a soft and wobbly mass. It should not stick to the sides of the bowl anymore. This step may take between 20 and 40 minutes (I confess I used my bread maker for kneading).

Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside until doubled in volume. Put the risen dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth again.

For the plum cake take about a third of the dough or less and flatten it inside the buttered baking tin. Be careful to roll out the dough very thinly because it will rise quite a bit during the baking process. Equal thickness of fruit and cake layer provides the best fruit-to-dough ratio in my opinion. Unfortunately, after my plum cake deprivation, I forgot about this important fact and made the cake base too thick.

Place plums on top of the dough in an upright manner trying to squeeze in as many as possible. Fan-bake at 150 degrees Celsius until the edges of the cake are golden brown (25-35 minutes).

Right after taking the cake out of the oven sprinkle roughly three tablespoons of caster sugar on top. This has to be done while still hot and will cause the plums to release their juices. Up to half of the cake base should get soggy from the juices – don’t be afraid, that’s the best part. Another reason is that the baking seems to bring out the tartness of the plums - even if sweet when tasted raw, the cooked plums will need some extra sugar.

The source

Vohenstraußer Kochbuch

The hint

Despite the obvious temptation, don’t eat this cake while still hot or lukewarm. It’s best when fully cooled. In fact, this cake tastes best on the second or even on the third day when all the flavours have thoroughly combined.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Adventure with Happy End

After my first and failed attempt to make my own sourdough I was pretty discouraged. Without knowing what went wrong - how would I be able to succeed the next time? I don't know what was different but this time everything worked beautifully! My sourdough culture florished, was divided into a pure rye and a wheat part, and continued to multiply. After a few days, I could hardly believe it but it was time to built my own starters for my own sourdough bread. I decided to begin with a rye sourdough starter and with a levain starter from "Amy's Bread". However, after having done so, I realized that there are not many recipes for rye sourdough in this book. Mainly, Amy and Toy are using sponge starters, old dough starters or white sourdough. So I decided to try the Sauerlaender Mengbrot of Petra from Chili&Ciabatta. Her site is a wonderful source for all kinds of bread recipes. And there I finally found what I wanted: A recipe that relies solely on the sourdough starter with no commercial yeast added and that wouldn't take too much time to make. With the levain starter I made a "Country Sourdough Boule" from "Amy's Bread" which was pretty time-consuming as you will see. Anyway, all this starter building, waiting, dough mixing, kneading, waiting, forming, waiting, and baking was well worth it! I proudly present my own sourdough breads!

Sauerlaender Mengbrot

Assuming that only German native speakers are interested in this dark rye bread, I don't translate the German recipe. However, if anyone else wants it, please email me and I'll be happy to do it for you.

Regarding the recipe: I used only half the amounts which still resulted in a pretty big loaf (at least for two eaters). The original rye starter is not quite the same as the one from "Amy's Bread". But the required amount of starter was just as much as I had made so I simply hoped that it would work which it did.

For the final rise, I put the bread into my colander using a floured kitchen towel. I floured it a bit too thoroughly that's why my bread has such a thick layer of flour on top. I gently dumped the bread on the preheated pizza stone and let it bake for half an hour. In hindsight, I should have waited a bit longer to get a crisper crust. However, the color looked already relatively dark. Judging the doneness would have been easier with less flour on top.

In comparison with Petra's picture, the crumb of my bread seems to be a bit sticky but this could also be due to my not-so-sharp bread knife.

And this is the recipe for the rye sourdough starter:

5 ounces/142g rye mother (cold from the fridge)
3 ounces/85g rye flour or pumpernickel flour
2 1/2 ounces/71g warm water

Place all ingredients in a clear plastic container and stir vigorously to combine. Let sit at room temperature until doubled in volume. If it hasn't doubled in 8 hours then your rye mother wasn't strong enough and you have to repeat the process. The mature (doubled) starter is ready to use but could also be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Use the amount of starter your recipe calls for and discard the rest.

This was Happy End No. 1 - with No. 2 to come we had a lot of bread to eat in the following days. Luckily, we were invited to several BBQs so quite a few people got some homemade sourdough bread to try. I can proudly say that they all liked it very much!

Making the Country Sourdough Boule really was a lengthy process. I built the levain starter on evening 1, let it mature for 8 hours overnight, refrigerated the starter during the day (due to work), mixed the bread dough on evening 2, chilled the dough overnight to let the flavours develop, got up early on day 3 to take the dough out of the fridge, shaped the loaves before leaving for work, rushed home during my lunch break to bake the risen loaves - and finally on evening 3, I was able to taste the outcome!

Levain Starter

2 ounces/57g white sourdough mother (cold from the fridge)
2 ounces/57ml warm water
5 ounces/142g unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (I substituted regular salt)

Combine in a small bowl using your fingers until you get a shaggy mass. It will be very dry and stiff. Knead the dough until you have a smooth ball. Place it in a bowl covered with cling wrap. Let sit at room temperature until doubled in volume. This should happen within 8 hours otherwise your mother wasn't strong enough. Then you have to repeat the process. The doubled levain starter can be used right away or stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Country Sourdough Boule

¾ teaspoon active dry yeast
56g very warm water
214g levain starter
540g cool water
684g unbleached all-purpose flour (I substituted bread flour)
142g pumpernickel (rye) flour
Scant 2 tablespoons kosher salt (when substituting for regular salt: you may want to use more but using two rather heaped tablespoons proved to be a bit too much in fact, it’s the other way round: you have to use less because of the flaky structure of kosher salt)

Place the yeast and warm water in your mixing bowl and stir to dissolve. Let stand for three minutes.

Add the levain starter and cool water and mix with your fingers until the starter is broken up in small pieces and partially dissolved.

Add the other ingredients and stir together using your fingers or a wooden spoon.

Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 6-8 minutes until the shaggy mass turns into a supple and elastic dough. Let rest for 20 minutes (this autolyse period makes sure that the gluten can relax; the following kneading will be shorter and easier).

Knead again for 2-3 minutes until dough is very smooth. Place in oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour (it does rise but does not double in volume).

Refrigerate overnight for the flavours to develop.

Remove dough from fridge and let rise for two hours. Line two baskets/bowls/colanders with floured kitchen towels (round-bottomed looks better than flat-bottomed).

Dived dough into two equal pieces, shape into round loaves, let rise in the bowls/colander for 3-4 hours or until doubled in volume (I had to let it rise for 4 1/2 hours which unfortunately resulted in almost no oven spring).

30 minutes before baking preheat oven with pizza stone to 230 degrees Celsius. Bake loaves for 20 minutes, then reduce temperature to 200 degrees Celsius and let bake for another 20-25 minutes. For a crisp crust pour water on the bottom of your oven: three times during the first 10 minutes, about half a cup of water each time.

The sources


Amy Scherber & Toy Kim Dupree: Amy's Bread

Monday, 22 January 2007

SHF#27: Chocolate by Brand

I’ve eagerly awaited this month’s Sugar High Friday hosted by David Lebovitz, patissier and chocolatier in Paris: His theme is Chocolate by Brand. Great – who doesn’t like chocolate? But on the other hand, it really made me think: What on earth should I make? There are thousands of chocolate-laden recipes out there. And what type of chocolate should I use since it was of such paramount importance?

I have to say that so far, I have never used any sophisticated chocolate brand. It was during my first contact with the blog world that I learned about Scharffen Berger, Valhrona, and all those other fancy brands. Of course, none of my local supermarkets had any of those in stock. So what’s there to choose from? Nestle (I like their classic dark one but I wanted to try something different), Cadbury (which I can’t stand at all), and Lindt (I like their pralines a lot but I’m not a big fan of their bars).

Apart from those, I found a brand from New Zealand that was completely unknown to me. Unfortunately, there is no reason why you should know Whittakers – at least that was my first thought after tasting a piece. I didn’t want to spoil the whole experience so I decided not to use it. (What am I going to do with that 250g-bar sitting in my fridge?) Luckily, on my way home I had also picked up a few bars of my favourite German chocolate brand, Ritter Sport.

While thinking back and forth, I had also managed to settle on a certain recipe: flourless chocolate cake. I had never before made such a cake – so it was about time. And I reckoned that with such a pure recipe – only chocolate, sugar, butter, and a tiny bit of flour – the character of the chocolate would really shine. Originally, I wanted to try Clotilde’s version on Chocolate&Zucchini. However, due to my on-going not-so-strict diet, I decided to make the waistline-friendly version of Petra of Chili&Ciabatta. I strictly sticked to the recipe but baked the cake in muffin tins. Without any experience, I shouldn’t have done it… In such tiny baking pans over baking can happen pretty quickly. One minute too long in the oven and the gooey centre is getting solid. To my great relief, the cakes were not completely dry – so all was not lost. They were nice and chocolaty but due to my mistake didn't quite live up to their reputation. Next time, I’m going to try Clotilde’s version and maybe I’ll be able to track down those fancy chocolate brands!

Friday, 19 January 2007

My first proper Pizza

For some reason unknown to me, it is very hard to find a well-prepared pizza in Sydney. Despite the huge number of Italian immigrants I have never eaten any pizza that tasted like the ones I had in Italy. There, the crust is unbelievably thin, rather pale, and a little bit charred on the bottom. Here, the crust is crispy but of a more bread-like colour and consistency. There, the toppings are rather sparse and thinly sliced so you can taste every single ingredient. Here, at least ten different toppings seem to be a “must-have”. Everything is cut into tiny pieces and thoroughly mixed together so you can hardly identify if you got your “Corsica” or the “Mediterranean Surprise” of your neighbour.

I do have to admit that you can find some interesting combinations on Australian menus. Using pumpkin, goat’s cheese or potatoes definitely broadens a traditional pizza lover’s horizon. However, some of those adaptations are a bit over the top – “Tandoori Chicken Pizza” or “Meat Lover’s Delight” with bacon and barbeque sauce, anyone?

To top it off, pizza in Sydney or Australia in general is a rather pricey delight compared to the excellent Asian food you can get here for little money. Therefore, it was only a matter of time to make my own pizza.

After searching through my favourite food blogs, it became pretty clear that Peter Reinhart’s Napoletana pizza dough was the way to go. I used the recipe and instructions provided on ChubbyHubby which were pretty easy to follow. My little hand mixer squealed heart-rendingly while mixing the first batch of dough – not for the first time I was longing for my old but strong Krups mixer back home in Germany. The second batch was kneaded by my bread baking machine which worked just fine. After a night’s rest in the fridge, the dough was a pleasure to work with. Stretchy yet firm, it was really easy to shape it into thin rounds.

The toppings: homemade tomato sauce, shredded tasty cheese, shredded mozzarella, ham, salami, fresh tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, capers, grilled eggplants, grilled and skinned capsicum which proved to be the favourite amongst my fellow pizza eaters. They fully approved of my first attempt in making proper pizza – mostly due to the generosity of my dear friend Nora. When I invited her for the pizza night, she said she’d like to give me a pizza stone as sort of a late Christmas present. Any serious pizza lover should have one. That’s what she told me – and she was so right! Even the male guests had to admit the superiority of the stone. Being engineers they first doubted its usefulness. Pretending it was only another gadget girls "had to have". But a quick check with wikipedia revealed everything you need to know about pizza, pizza stones, and the like.

The few pizzas I baked on a regular baking sheet (after all, there were nine hungry people to feed) were not too bad but definitely not as crispy as the ones baked on the stone. However, it was a bit tricky to lift the prepared pizza on the stone and into the oven (I got a few minor burns). Polenta was very helpful to prevent sticking; and those little yellow kernels provided an extra crunch to the crust. The oven was heated to maximum which sometimes seemed to be a bit too much as you can see on the picture. But I didn't get any complaints and my guinea pigs encouraged me to continue my search for the perfect Italian pizza. With my own pizza stone it will be only a matter of time – thank you, Nora!

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Same Procedure - all over again...

Whilst I am not willing to admit defeat, I had to throw away the remains of my sourdough culture. Despite a few bubbles it didn't look very lively anymore and started to smell bitter in the end. Something must have gone terribly wrong. I don't know yet what it was but I am determined to try again. However, I want to spare yourself more pictures of brownish-grey bubbles. Therefore, I'm presenting my recent attempt in learning how to plate properly.

Having bocconcinis in the fridge without knowing what to do with them, I found this tasty yet easy to prepare salad with bocconcini and prosciutto at Cream Puffs in Venice. A pretty and satisfying dinner - even my boyfriend rated this salad as "excellent" and requested more of those little bocconcini-prosciutto-rolls for the future.

To be honest, it took me ages to arrange everything properly... And now I can't make up my mind which shot I like best. So please help me, dear reader, provide some constructive criticism and tell me what you think about the plating and the photography!

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Suffering a Setback

Boys, I’m disappointed. After getting up this morning, exactly eight hours after feeding you again, you should have doubled in size. So far, you always exceeded my expectations. But not today. Looking at the transparent plastic containers with their yellow markers I could hardly believe myself. It seemed that you haven’t been doing anything all night long!

Okay, first things first, I will describe what I did to you last night (and then I want to listen to your apologies for being so lazy, okay!?!).

Maintaining the Rye Mother

The ingredients

2/3 cup/3 ounces/75 85 g (pumpernickel) rye flour
¼ cup + 2 tbsp/3 ounces/75 85 ml cool spring water (23-25 degrees Celsius)

Place 6 ounces/2/3 cup/170 g of the rye culture in a clean plastic container and discard the rest of it. Unless you want to have huge amounts of your rye mother this much plus the flour and water for refreshing is enough.

Add flour and water stirring vigorously.

And now I quote the book:
“Cover the container and mark the level of the mother with a marker or tape. Let it sit at room temperature until it has doubled in volume. A strong mother will double in eight hours. If yours doesn’t do that, let it continue to sit out until it has a nice tangy taste and smell. Discard all but six ounces and repeat this step again. Repeat this procedure as many times as necessary until the mother doubles within eight hours. It may take several days. Don’t get discouraged, it’s worth the effort."

The source

Amy Scherber & Toy Kim Dupree: Amy’s Bread

“Don’t get discouraged” – that’s easier said than done. I guess I was a bit spoiled by the quick-and-easy success my boys seemed to promise. So far, the white mother has only a few bubbles on top but not this proper network of tiny bubbles. The rye mother has almost no bubbles visible, just the surface is a bit smoother than the night before. I wonder was I have done wrong? The book says it could be the fault of the flour sitting too long on the shelf and having not as much “potentially active yeast” as fresh flour which means it may take a couple of days to build up strength. But so far, that’s never been a problem for you guys, has it?

I just realize that I did treat the white sourdough culture the same way as the rye culture. That is what I should have done:

Maintaining the White Sourdough Mother

The ingredients

½ cup less 1 tbsp/2 ounces/56 g all-purpose flour
¼ cup/2 ounces/56 ml cool spring water

Take only 4 ounces/113 g of the white sourdough culture and discard the rest.

Proceed as with the rye culture.

All this converting was really confusing – maybe that’s why? Just found a good webpage for converting and I will check and probably find mistakes…

Well, I have to admit several mistakes: I did treat the white sourdough mother the wrong way. But that’s not all: In stage 3 and in the maintaining-step, I didn’t convert properly. I do apologize for that, guys! Hopefully, I will be able to make up for it at the next feeding. Please, don’t take it personally and start bubbling again…

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

The Sourdough Adventure – Part III

Although I have to confess that I didn’t monitor the temperature of my sourdough culture (the book recommends using a thermometer for a reason, I reckon) – all works perfectly well! After only ten hours, the culture had not only doubled but more than tripled in size. No wonder that those busy little guys were pretty exhausted after the full 12-hours-period and had already started to deflate. On the following picture, you can see the maximum level the mixture had reached and the level after deflating.

Eventually, it was time for stage 3 which means dividing the culture so you’ll end up with a white and a rye sourdough culture – one fed with all-purpose flour, one fed with rye flour. This time, you have to feed with equal weights of flour and water to get the mixture a bit stiffer. A wetter culture ferments more quickly so this step will damp the level of acidity. The following picture shows the so called rye mother as it is to be the mother of all my future rye breads. Amy and Toy would have fed her with pumpernickel flour which I can’t get here. So I have to make do with my regular rye flour. As rye flour can absorb more water, this mixture tends to get quite stiff.

The soon-to-be white sourdough mother is much soupier indeed. The surface is very smooth as you can see below.

I was wondering if my all-purpose flour is unbleached - the book calls for that – but I truly don’t know. So far, it didn’t seem to do any damage. The 12 hours of sitting at room temperature are almost over now. I will feed both of my cultures one more time before going to bed and check on them after getting up: They should be doubled in size after eight hours. Then I can be sure to possess two potent sourdough cultures which can sit in the fridge ready to use – providing that I didn’t forget to feed them once or twice a week. But I won’t forget my little boys, right?

Dynamite Sourdough Starter

The ingredients - stage 3

3/4 cup/6 ounces/175 170 ml cool spring water (23-25 degrees Celsius)
2/3 cup/3 ounces/75 85 g rye flour
2/3 cup/3 ounces/75 85 g unbleached all-purpose flour

Divide mixture evenly between two big plastic containers using a wooden spoon.

Add the rye flour and half of the water to one container stirring vigorously.
Add the all-purpose flour and the other half of the water to the other container again stirring vigorously.

Cover each container with a loose-fitting lid or a double layer of cheesecloth fixed with a rubber band. Let ferment at room temperature for twelve hours.

The source
Amy Scherber & Toy Kim Dupree: Amy's Bread

The Adventure continues

My bacteria have been very busy. Good boys! After only 20 hours of sitting around, they bubbled up like crazy and had already almost doubled in size. Hey boys, take it easy - that was to be expected after 36 hours, at the earliest. So please, don't overwork yourself - you can't just throw in a sickie or two! I'm depending on you guys!

Both pictures are taken after the 20-hours-period and show the satisfying progress of my little culture. The surface is now smooth due to the water which is a by-product of fermentation. On the sidewalls of the plastic container, you can see a network of tiny little bubbles.

Just to be sure, I decided to wait until 34 hours had passed (right before writing this post) before feeding my boys for the first time. When I opened the lid again, I almost shrank back - the smell was extremely tangy and acidic. By now, even on top, there were some really big bubbles visible.

Using a wooden spoon, I stirred in the same amounts of rye flour and water as described in stage 1. Do not use a metal spoon as the acidity will react with it. That’s why sourdough should be mixed in plastic or ceramic bowls. Stir vigorously, the bacteria like that. It distributes their food and lets them get some fresh air so they will happily continue to multiply. The temperature of the mixture should be the same as in stage 1. Already using a big plastic container, I didn’t have to transfer the mixture to another jar. Now, the lid won’t be closed tightly – otherwise the expanding mass could burst the jar – that’s why Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree call it their “Dynamite Sourdough Starter” (according to their book, they still find dried sourdough in unexpected places). Only twelve hours to go and we will reach stage 3. That means, the day after tomorrow I could already be baking my first own sourdough bread. Thank you, boys!

The source

Amy Scherber & Toy Kim Dupree: Amy's Bread

Sunday, 7 January 2007

The Adventure begins

I have been baking my own bread for one year. All went well so far. Every one of my friends who tasted samples of my bread was pretty impressed. I never made any real big mistake. Except one evening when I forgot to take the bread out of the oven – the next morning, the entire loaf had turned into charcoal. To my defence, I can only say that we lived in a very spacious apartment at that time. Being in the bedroom, you couldn’t smell the upcoming disaster. So far, I could be proud of my achievements in bread baking if it weren’t for the fact that I am still a coward.

My courage was just enough to experiment with different kinds of yeast breads but I never dared to tackle the elaborate process of making my own sourdough bread. Well, I do use dried sourdough sometimes – but isn’t it like making a bowl of Asian instant noodles? (Well, I prefer cheat’s sourdough compared to instant noodles.) In any case, one year of cowardice is definitely enough. Thus, I decided to take the plunge.

Due to lack of appropriate baking books, I went to the library. Due to lack of time during my lunch break, I just grabbed a book that looked like providing proper advice. On my way back, I realized why the book had somehow seemed to be familiar: I had already read pretty good reviews about “Amy’s Bread”, named after a New York Bakery which is run by Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree. I wasn’t well prepared for starting but I was lucky, though. I just didn’t want to wait any longer after making up my mind. Didn’t want to chicken out again…

At home, I started reading. Finally, I had found a description on how to make my own sourdough I could actually understand. No fancy ingredients, no fancy equipment. I did have to convert the ingredients into the metric system but apart from that, the recipe is straightforward. I carefully weighed 56 grams of organic rye flour (the equivalent of two ounces) and mixed it with 113 ml of water (the equivalent of four ounces), stirring vigorously. Both ingredients have to have the right temperature for not to kill the natural yeast bacteria in the flour or incubating a wrong kind of bacteria culture. 23-25 degrees Celsius or slightly cooler is fine, 26 degrees Celsius is already too high – it’s a tricky business, isn’t it? The book also states that you should use organic flour and spring water for a starter otherwise pesticides or chlorine could damage your bacteria culture.

The resulting thick paste sits now in a plastic container while I am patiently waiting for great things to come. The mixture has to ferment for 36-48 hours which means it should be a bubbly, foamy mass doubled in size. The first signs of yeast activity should be visible after 24 hours. Of course, I’m not only lacking experience but also patience so I opened the lid after six hours for the first time: It already smelled differently. Not really tangy yet but somewhat more intense than at the beginning. I’m simply taking this as a sign of encouragement. Dutifully, I will feed my developing sourdough starter. And if, miraculously, all works well, I will bake my own sourdough bread in a couple of days!

Dynamite Sourdough Starter

The ingredients – stage 1

½ cup/2 generous ounces/56 grams of organic rye flour, at room temperature
½ cup/4 ounces/113 ml of water

In a plastic container, mix both ingredients, stirring vigorously. The mixture should resemble very thick pancake batter. If not, add a little of one of the ingredients to achieve the desired consistency.

Close lid and let stand at room temperature for 36-48 hours. After 24 hours, there should be some tiny bubbles visible. After 48 hours, at the latest, it should be bubbling and foaming on top.

If mould becomes visible, start again from scratch. If the batter has not doubled after 48 hours, feed it with two ounces of flour and water each and let it sit for another 24 hours or until there is some yeast activity going on.

After all that, proceed with stage 2 which is yet to come. Stay tuned!

The source
Amy Scherber & Toy Kim Dupree: Amy’s Bread

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

New Year's Resolutions...

Did I make a New Year’s Resolution? Not really. Usually, when the clock strikes midnight, I’m simply too busy admiring the fireworks, sipping champagne and hugging friends. However, afterwards there are always some thoughts coming up – as there are always things you thought about a hundred times but never got around to actually do. Anyway, there is something I will try my hands on this year: Hosting a really elaborate dinner party!

Sounds weird as some sort of New Year’s resolution? The truth is while I’m enjoying having friends over for dinner, I always tried to focus on a beautiful dessert (most important dish in my opinion) and kept the rest of the menu pretty casual. Sometimes I thought about doing some crazy stuff but chickened out in the end. I really admire people like Bea from La Tartine Gourmande who is capable of producing a dinner so stunning I can hardly imagine ever making on my own… So, what I wanna do this year is this: Improving my organizational skills as well as my plating skills and hosting a sophisticated dinner party – just to see if I got it in the end…

Hey, I just realized that this is actually not what I wanted to tell you in the first place! I did want to share a recipe! After all those Christmas goodies this year – and I also made and ate stuff I haven’t blogged about like that –

and all the alcohol of New Year’s Eve – and I did have my fair share this year, after all we made Feuerzangenbowle – and my sweet start into 2007,

there was the sudden insight to slow down a bit…

In case you want to eat something nice and quick that’s good for you, I highly recommend trying my cucumber soup with yoghurt!

The following recipe dates back to the time when I was studying and sometimes not really knowing what to make out the stuff in my fridge. This concoction sounds a bit weird and maybe doesn’t look extremely great but it’s tasty and very healthy. When I tried it for the first time, I was definitely not sure about it but ended up liking it a lot.

The cucumber is a bit of an uncommon soup ingredient but that’s what makes it all the more interesting. A few spoonfuls of yoghurt add a nice tartness and give the soup a bit more body.

However, I can’t state exact amounts in this recipe as it highly depends on how much is left in your fridge and how much you want to eat. Look at it that way, this recipe is truly foolproof!

Cucumber Soup with Yoghurt

The ingredients

Vegetable stock
Rice (I recommend wholemeal rice)
Cucumber, peeled and cut into quarter pieces
Dill, dried
Freshly ground pepper
Yoghurt (low-fat works fine in here)

Bring stock, rice, and dill to the boil and let simmer until rice is soft. Add cucumbers for the last couple of minutes (depending on how crunchy you like it).

Season to taste with freshly cracked pepper. Add a few spoonful of yoghurt.

The source
My own creation