Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mediterranean cake

A few days ago I had lunch with my friend Helene: she prepared, among other things, a delicious salted cake which she has served cold.

I returned at home and inspired by her cake I prepared the Mediterranean cake; it was a long time I didn't prepare it and I had forgotten its flavored taste!

You can serve this cake warm or cold, so in summer it's ideal for a picnic on the beach or a cold dinner and also cut into cubes as an accompaniment of an aperitif.

This recipe is fast to prepare but still requires 45 minutes of baking so you may want to prepare a double dose and freeze one of the two cakes.

Mediterranean cake gives free space to your imagination; in the photo I have chosen a blue plate to improve the colors of the cake and the tablespoon of chopped black olives adds a fancy touch.

I think that the Mediterranean cake matches well with my napkin ring MY FLOWER: both have a good smell!!!

MY FLOWER is a set of 6 napkin rings that you can use as flower-holder; it's made of copper wire.
This is the ideal set for a spring or summer table when it's easy to have wonderful flowers in the garden.

You can choose them for the decoration of your daily table putting a different flower for each person. A flower puts a smile on each face and turns a person in a good mood.
If you like them you can shop here.

time for preparation: 20 minutes
time for baking: 45 minutes
kcal per person: 300 kcal

For this recipe you will need for 6 persons:
-preheat the oven at 200C = 400F

-200 g (8 oz) whole wheat flour
-3 eggs
-50 g ( 2 oz) black olives
-1 grated zucchini
-200 g ( 8 oz) of feta cheese
-10 dried tomatoes
-10 cl milk
- 2 teaspoons of herbs de Provence (a mixture of dried herbs from Provence, a French region. In the mixture you generally find rosemary, marjoram, basil, thyme, lavender and other herbs).
- 1 packet of baking powder
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-salt and pepper

*combine in a bowl the flour, the baking powder, the salt and pepper.
*add the eggs, the milk (warm), and the oil.
*add the olives, the feta cheese cut into cubes, the dried tomatoes chopped, the grated zucchini and the herbs de Provence.
*pour the mixture into a rectangular baking dish and bake about 45 minutes at 200 C ( 400F), or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Apple and cinnamon cake

Last weekend we had a picnic on the beach, I prepared this Apple and cinnamon cake that we really enjoyed with the spicy tea we bought on our last holiday in Edinburgh.

It's a very tasty cake that you can enjoy for breakfast too.
I love cinnamon, its taste and its flavor is ... so amazing!

If you are planning to organize a small tea time on the terrace or in the garden, you can use this small SPIRAL.

Spiral is a placeholder that every guest can easily put next to his plate before going around for some conversation or a walk in the garden!
Spiral is made of copper wire (height 5 cm - 2").
They're inspired by the spin of the clock hands -- the passage of time during the day.
They're very useful and at the same time they improve the decoration of your table.
If you need them click here to shop.

If you prefer a different model, maybe with a more zen style I suggest STONE.

Time for preparation: around 1 hour
Kcal per person: 300

If you want to prepare the Apple and cinnamon cake for 10 persons you will need:

preheat the oven to 180 C (360 F)

-250 g (9 oz) whole wheat flour
-2 tsp of cinnamon
-1 packet of baking powder
-100 g (4 0z) raw sugar
-100 g ( 4 oz) dried raisins
-80 ml extra virgin olive oil
-2 eggs
-150 ml apple juice
-3 apples not peeled , grated
-25 g (1 oz) flaked almonds

* Sift the flour, the cinnamon and the baking powder into a bowl
* stir in the sugar and the raisins
* stir in the oil, the eggs, the apple juice and the grated apples until well mixed
* pour the mixture into a tin and scatter with the almonds
* bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Little baskets with eggplant and zucchini cream

Finally the first eggplants have arrived!
I wanted to celebrate preparing an eggplant and zucchini cream that I generally serve warm in a basket made of brick dough (a thin sheet of dough of north African origin; it is used in many ways to prepare salted or sweet specialties; it's more crunchy than fillo).
The brick dough may be replaced by the fillo dough (a rectangular sheet of dough used in Greece and Turkey to prepare different dishes salted or sweet; it's more light than brick).

Personally I prefer brick dough for salted dishes and fillo dough for sweet recipes.

Little baskets with eggplant and zucchini cream take some time for the preparation of the baskets; since they are fragile and tend to break easily I usually prepare an extra one just in case...
I serve them as a starter, but if you double the quantity you can serve them as a main course.

The round shape and its fragility reminds me of the napkin ring LOLLIPOP.

LOLLIPOP is romantic and fresh, it's handmade with copper wire and pearls (imitation); you can use it as an original decoration for your table and for a special dinner with your friends.
LOLLIPOP is inspired by the shape of lollipops and by the fresh sound of the song "lollipop" by MIKA.
If you want to shop for them click here.

About the presentation: take a breath when you compose the baskets with the cream.
The little baskets with eggplant and zucchini cream fit really easily into all types of plates: coloured, white, striped and also with flowers that I usually find so beautiful to see when they are ... EMPTY!

time for preparation: 40 minutes
kcal per person: 180 kcal.

For 4 persons you will need:
-4 sheets of brick dough (or fillo)
-1 large eggplant
-2 small zucchini
-100 g ( 3,5 oz) Comté cheese (very tasty french cheese)
-30 g ( 4 tablespoons) pine nuts

*Take 4 medium cups, put them upside down on a baking tray
*put on each cup a piece of baking sheet and over it a sheet of brick dough; fold the dough around the cup trying to create a little basket
*bake at 180 C (360 F) for 8 minutes or until golden
*remove from the oven and cool down before detaching the baskets from the cups

*cut in small pieces the eggplant and the zucchini and cook them in the oven at 200 C (400F) for 20 minutes
*mix the vegetables in a mixer with salt and the Comté diced
*pour the cream in each basket and sprinckle with the pine nuts; serve warm or hot.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Banana bread

Whenever I prepare the Banana bread, I remember the rainy year I spent working in Paris in a restoration studio of ancient paintings. There I met Karin, a French-Norwegian girl with whom I spent many late afternoons in Parisian cafes talking about cooking and recipes.
Unfortunately we are not anymore in touch; I think she is around the world, probably in India, her preferred country.

She introduced me to this recipe of her father (a chef); I have slightly modified it since it's almost impossible to resist to make any change!

This cake is truly fantastic accompanied with coffee because all its spicy aromas are highlighted; starting the day with a breakfast like this just puts me in a good mood!

I associated the banana bread to the napkin ring WEDDING HEARTS, since I think that both contain many details in their simplicity, they are delicate, and evoke something sweet.
WEDDING HEARTS is a napkin ring with the possibility to use it as a name holder too; it's made with copper wire. If you want to shop for them click here.

About presentation, its compact consistency is well suited for cutting into small pieces. Here I have chosen a colorful orange plate that incorporates the warm tones of the cake, decorated with a stick of cinnamon and a nutmeg and accompanied by a small bowl of natural yogurt.
You can try other presentations but avoid the dark colors, they will kill the cake and your breakfast too!

time for preparation: 20 minutes
time for baking: 50 minutes
per person: kcal 320

For 10 persons you will need :
-250 g (8 oz) of whole wheat flour
-50 g (1,7 oz) of raw sugar
-1 packet of baking powder (1 tablespoon)
-1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
-1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
-50 g (1,7 oz) of honey
-50 g (1,7 oz) of butter
-50 g (1,7 oz) of yogurt
-600 g ( 21 oz) of ripe bananas
-2 eggs
-100 g (3,5 oz) of grated almonds

*Preheat the oven to 200C (400 F)
*Beat together the honey, the butter, the yogurt, the eggs, and the mashed bananas
*Stir the flour, the sugar, the baking powder, the spices and add them to the other ingredients
*Mix well, add the grated almonds and put in a medium pan
*bake until the bread is firm and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
*Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Now you are ready to cut it in small pieces and I suggest to serve it with a good coffee and some plain yogurt.