Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Two days to go

My university course is nearly over and I have to start packing soon for going to Stockholm!! I am already so excited to be there for the first time and see my friend Ellinor again.
Here are some of my travel essentials that I will take along with me this time!travel-essentials-stockholm1. Bag
First of all you need a big handbag. I found this a while ago at Zara and love it. It’s divided into three sections: two outside ones that are perfect for magazines, books, etc. and the main inside part. What I love most about this bag: it stays in shape!!
2. Comfy Clothes
I got this knitted pullover from Vila some weeks ago and I thing it is perfect for going by plane somewhere: cozy, warm but not too hot, casual but classy.
3. ScarfA scarf is a must when travelling. Use it as a blankie, pillow, jacket, etc.

4. Entertainment
I downloaded the Audio-Book version of “The Great Gatsby”. I love it that a sexy British male voice is reading it to me!! just kidding, I’ve always wanted to hear the actual stroy and not just see the movie, which is really great as well.
5. Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1Every woman should own one, seriously amazing!!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Passion

I’ve always loved to bake and spend time in the kitchen creating something delicious. Most of my knowledge I got from cooking shows in TV. I learned about the basics, what herbs fit with what kind of meat and veggies, got some great advice and was initiated into the secrets of all the chefs. I especially liked Jamie Oliver because he tries to get a feeling for a dish rather then measuring everything exactly. And I think that is the key to being a great cook: feel it, following a recipe is easy. I spent lots and lots of afternoons in the kitchen after school because then I was alone, no one would disturb me and my passion for food, combining and creating new flavors grew with every hour I spent behind the stove.
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At the age of 14 I was able to do easy meals like pasta with different sauces, Strudel (Austrian traditional meal), fish, and all kinds of (meat)balls (there are also vegetarian versions of it). At the age of 16 I perfected baking and cake decorating. Every year I learned to cook and bake more and more stuff and the older I got the more I wanted to finally be able to do international dishes, especially Asian and Middle eastern cuisine.
At the age of 18 I moved to the US for a year. There I had the best kitchen I’ve ever seen, just perfect: huge, 6 gas stove tops, two ovens, a big kitchen island and most importantly lots of light!! I cooked every evening for six people. I tried new dished, introduced my host family to European meals and they taught me how to make traditional American food. I never thought that I will develop even more in the kitchen but I did. First of all I had to learn how to cook meat. By now I can do steaks, I learned how to grill (I am a BBQ expert), discovered that preparing a turkey-feast is pretty easy, found the recipe for the best meatballs on earth and my host grandma taught me how to make beef stew (a really old family recipe). Next thing was to try new meals by sticking to recipes I found on the internet. Sure, I was not very convinced in the beginning but soon I had that feeling for the right temperatures in the oven, the ratio of ingredients in sauces, the consistency and the taste of lost of things. From then on all I did was magic: go to the farmers market, get inspiration there and at the supermarket where I was friends with the butcher and the fish-counter guy. Now I was “fully educated” and ready to rock the kitchen. I had the feeling of being able to simply cook everything and I was surprised that 99% of my creations or improvements of recipes worked out. I became an expert on making soup (I guess one day I will share the recipe of my Potato Soup and my Chicken Noodle Soup with you), Asian meals (my kids loved my Chinese Fried Rice and Shrimp Curry Noodles), Mediterranean meals like Ratatouille, Risotto of all kinds, English Meat Pie and Cottage Pie, etc.
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And since I lived in the States, how could it be any other way, I did A LOT of baking. Sure it was different to Euro style cakes and tortes and biscuits. I was frustrated in the beginning, I just thought that Americans do not really have an idea of what a really good cakes must be like (fluffy but at the same time moist). I was convinced that Americans eat more with the eye. Just add tons of super sweet frosting then everything is fine and tastes good (and we all have diabetes and get obese). But half a year of living there changed my point of view. It is another culture, I had to accept that. I mean come on, in Europe no one likes sugary buttery sponge cakes that do not taste like anything else than artificial vanilla extract. No, but Americans are not big fans of “dry” cake as they call our creations!! Anyway I picked some recipes that I improved so that I like them as well. And to my BIG BIG surprise my mum asked me to make the “big brown coin-shaped things that tasted so delicious”. She meant cookies. And sure I made her some!!
Cookies are so very easy to make, take about 10 minutes to make the dough and then 10 more minutes in the oven (the time you need to clean up the kitchen). Easy peasy!!! Two weeks ago I made cookies where I followed my own recipe. Cinnamon Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies to be exact. Here is the recipe that I promised you to share with you earlier this week:
Cinnamon Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients: IMG_0208
  • 1 cup (110g) butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2-3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • mark of half a vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dark chocolate chips
  • cinnamon sugar to drizzle on top
Directions:
  1. Mix everything (apart from the flour, baking soda and choco chips) with a mixer.
  2. Mix flour and baking soda and chocolate chips together and add to the other mixture.
  3. With a scoop shape little dough balls on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake for about 10-15 minutes at 180°C (350°F)
  5. Right after taking them out sprinkle some cinnamon sugar over them.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Chocolate Heaven

I spent the last weekend at home with my family around me. And since I neither had to work nor did I have a lot to study I decided to bake and bake and bake!! In the end we ended up with two cakes (Devil’s Food Cake and an Eggnog Cake), one layer cake (Carrot Ricotta Cake) and 18 cinnamon chocolate chocolate chip cookies. All my mum said was “Who’s going to eat all of this?” Well, friends, family, grandparents, neighbors, co-workers, etc. And I was right, people ate all of it!!
So today I will give you the recipe for the best chocolate cake ever!! For last year’s birthday I got the Magnolia Bakery cookbook from my lovely Au Pair friends and since then I use it quite often since the recipes are easy and the things always turn out pretty good. Anyway, I made Devil’s Food Cake without frosting or glaze because I feel that the cake itself tastes just wonderful!! This cake is so easy and you always have the ingredients on hand, so it’s great if you have people for afternoon coffee or tea over. IMG_0217IMG_0219Ingredients:
  3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
3 eggs (separated)
1 1/2 cups (150 g) butter
2 cups brown sugar
8 oz (220 g) chocolate (the darker the better)
2 cups milk
1/2 a vanilla bean
1. Over medium heat melt the chocolate. In a bowl cream together butter and sugar and vanilla.
2. Separate eggs: add the yolks to the butter mixture and beat the whites until stiff.
3. Add the melted chocolate to the butter mixture.
4. Mix together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
5. Combine flour-mixture, butter-mixture and milk.
6. Now fold the egg-whites carefully under the batter.
7. In a greased baking dish bake at 180°C (350°F) for about 50 minutes.
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Stay tuned, later this week I will give you the recipe for some awesome cinnamon chocolate cookies!!