Saturday, 31 May 2008

Picks of the Month May 08

This month I have especially enjoyed these posts:

1. Pioneer Woman's flowerpot desserts. What a fun and ingenious way to serve ice cream!

2. White on Rice Couple's tour of their garden. It's a brillant video and it stars the cutest four legged villan there is!! :) Plus the garden is lovely, too. :)

3. Kajal of Aaplemint's decadent Napoleons.

4. Heidi of 101 Cookbooks' Warm and nutty cinnamon quinoa looks so delicious!

5. Red Wine-Poached Rhubarb recipe featured on David Lebovitz's site.

Oh my, and I could go on... :) So many great recipes out there in the blogosphere! I better stop at these five though, otherwise this will not be "picks of the month" but "a history of Cinnamonda's surfing on the food sites in this month of May"! :)

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Daring Bakers' May Challenge: Opera Cake

This month's challenge was opera cake. The challenge was hosted by 4 DBers, namely co-foundereds Ivonne and Lis and two newer members Fran and Shea. They dedicated this month's challenge to Barbara of winosandfoodies.com who is the force behind A Taste of Yellow -blog event that supports the LiveSTRONG foundation started by Lance Armstrong.

The opera cake = a cake compiled of a joconde (=a cake layer), a syryp, a buttercream, a ganache and a glaze. And with the longest recipe I've ever seen!!
We were instructed to use light colours only and were given the option to leave out the ganache/mousse and the freedom to choose the shape of our cake and some of the flavorings. I ended up flavoring my syrup with cloudberry liqueur and the buttercream with lemon extract. I also left out the white chocolade mousse to save some time -and money. And I halved the recipe to make a smaller cake.

I did not have any particular problems when making this cake (other than my camera's battery dying after just two pictures of the finished cake & my not having any extra batteries charged at the time...), but I must confess that my choice of flavorings was maybe not very successful. The cloudberry liqueur was lost under the very powerful and v-e-r-y sweet taste of lemon in the buttercream. I am a person with a veritable sweet tooth, but that was almost too sweet for me. I ended up freezing half the cake in little pastry-sized pieces and when I defrosted the pieces they actually tasted better than the fresh cake and also the taste of lemon was less prominant. Hmmm...

I'm not sure if I will ever try this recipe again.
I am not too fond of buttercream in general. I might bake the joconde again, though, as it was really easy to make and tasted delicious, but propably not the whole cake. I am, however, glad that I did this challenge. It was an interesting project, and it was rewarding to see that, yes, I did manage to do a good job with a rather complicated or at least multiphase recipe! :)

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Tuna In Disguise

I have been eating lots of salads again. They are so easy to make, refreshing and all in all they simply taste good! When tossing together a salad I usually follow my own "2 greens -rule". That means that as a base I use two different green salads, and more often than not one of the two is iceberg lettuce as I simply like it most! :) In additions to the 2 greens I almost always use either tomatoes or cucumber or both, some kind of cheese, nuts or seeds and only very rarely any salad dressing. This time I wanted a bit more fulfilling salad so I added some tuna, but this tuna was so well hidden behind a simple disguise of some spices that eventhough I knew I was eating a tuna salad my eyes and brain said "noooo, it's chicken"!

Tuna in Disguise Salad

Serves 2-3

2 green salads of your choice (=large bunch of both) washed and shredded by hand
100 g mozzarella pearls or mozzarella cut into small cubes
some cucumber cut into small cubes
pumpkin seeds (roast them if you want to, I was too hungry to do it :))
seedless green grapes, cut in two
a can of tuna
ground ginger and turmeric
olive and sesame oil

1. Pour some olive and sesame oli into a pan and add the ground ginger and turmeric. Mix.
2. Add the tuna and mix until the fish gets a beautiful yellow colour. Let cool.
3. While the tuna is cooling combine all the other ingredients in a salad bowl.
4. Add the tuna.
5. Enjoy, preferably with some rye bread.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

You Are My Sunshine...Cake!

If blood oranges are my favorite fruit, then the "original" version comes a close second. But...if only one did not have to peel them! :)

Well, this recipe of mine I am about to share with you does include peeled oranges, but you can peel them "roughly" with a knife removing also the outer skin of the sections. It will be a juicy business, so to speak, but the end result will be delicious, I promise!:)

Sunshine Cake

2 eggs
2 dl granulated sugar
100 g unsalted butter
1,5 dl almond flour
1,5 dl wheat flour
1 tablespoon grated orangepeel
1,5-2 oranges peeled and sliced into thin slices
some more butter for buttering the cake tin & some breadcrumbs for the tin

1. Preheat the oven to 175 Centigrade
2.In a medium bowl beat the eggs until pale and frothy.
3. Add the sugar and continue beating.
4. Add the butter in little pieces and beat until dissolved into the egg-sugar mix.
5. Add the flours and orange peel and mix.
6. Use a cake tin with a central hole. Butter the tin and cover its inside with breadcrumbs.
7. Place thin, round slices of orange all around that side of the tin that will be the outer side of the finished cake. The orange slices will partly caramelize and partly form flowerlike decorative motives into the cake, plus they will add extra moisture and taste.
8. Pour the batter into the tin.
9. Bake in the middle of the oven in 175 C until a toothpick pressed into the cake comes out clean. In my oven it took about 40 minutes, but my oven is known to be a bit slow. :)

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Last Year in Paris: Versailles

In the not too distant future, I will be flying to Paris for a week's holiday. I was there also in 2007. In anticipation of my upcoming trip, I browsed the pictures I took there last year and thought to share with you some I took when visiting Versailles.
I hope you will enjoy these photographs!

The palace is magnificant, but I simply love the gardens and park! I was lucky enough to visit on a Sunday afternoon when music played in the gardens and the numerous fountains were all working!

Links:
The official site of the Palace of Versailles
Louis XIV (The sun king)
Marie Antoinette
The French Revolution
Napoleon











Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Domino Trifle





















My favorite cookies are called "Domino". Domino cookies have been sold in Finland since 1953. They are cocoa cookies with a filling. The original flavour for the filling is vanilla, but nowadays there are also many other flavours. I like mint filling the best, vanilla being a close runner-up. :)
I had been thinking of making somekind of a dessert using Domino cookies for a while, but Pioneer Woman's ingenious flower pot desserts, where she used crushed Oreo cookies as "dirt", made me want to crush some cookies, too. :) The result: Domino Trifle!!

This is a very easy dessert to make, or let's say, I made a very easy version of it. If you want to make your own fruit soup to use in your trifle, it will be a bit more difficult. And if you opt for the very, very easy version you crush the cookies with the filling and use store bought whipped cream. As I did not measure any of the incredients I used, all the measurements, except the amount of cream, are only approximate.

Domino Trifle

Serves 3

100 g Domino cookies with vanilla filling (you can use Oreos or other cookies with filling as well)
2-3 dl peach-passion fruit soup (or other fruit soup of your choice)
2 dl whipping cream
vanilla sugar to taste

1. Open the cookies and scrape out the filling with a spoon. Put the filling aside for later.
2. Put the fillingless cookies into the food processor and pulse a few times until they are of a fine sandlike consistency.
3. In a bowl combine the whipping cream, a pinch of vanilla sugar and the filling you removed from the cookies. Do not worry if the filling is in clumbs. It will even out just fine when you whip the cream. Whip the cream until hard (not butter, though;))
4. Use vine glasses or other nice glasses that show off the layers of the trifle for this dessert. Put about a third of the crushed cookies into the bottom of each glass. Save about 1/2 teaspoon chrushed cookies for decoration.
5. Carefully pour some fruit soup on top of the crushed cookies.
6. Fill the classes to the brim with whipped cream. Decorate with a pinch of cookie crumbs.
7. En- joy!!

Friday, 2 May 2008

Fluffy Puffins and Sauce from the Past

Fluffy puf... excuse moi, what?? Let me explain. It all started with me wanting to bake some muffins. I browsed my lovely, little Le Cordon Bleu muffin book for inspiration and chose a recipe for pear-pecan muffins to bake, only I did not have any pecans and there was just one lonely pear in my fridge... I did not even have any unsalted butter. Actually I did not have any butter at all! What shall a girl do in situations like this? Improvise, of course! :)

I did have some apples, so I combined them with the pear. I chose to ignore the fact that I did not have any pecans. I did have 50 g less fruit than the original recipe asked for, so I thought omitting the pecans would not change the consistancy of the batter too much. I replaced the unsalted butter with olive oil, extra virgin in fact. A bit fancy for cooking, but that was all I got. And then I decided to use marshmallow fluff in my muffins.

Marshmallow fluff. Ahaa, you say, that is the fluffy part, but what on earth are the puffins?? The puffins are the solution to the story of my muffin baking life! I own a very nice muffin pan, where I can bake 12 ordinary sized muffins at one go. Ordinary sized, I say, not huge, not tiny, but ordinary. This time the original recipe was for 6 large (2,5dl) muffins. I thought that I could make maybe 8 and surely not more that 12 ca. 2 dl muffins with that, but no! There is always, well almost always, too much batter when I use a recipe that should make 6 big ones. What to do with that extra batter? Well, I baked puffins! That is, I baked muffins in small ramekins usually used to make puddings, thus "puffins".:)

See how the puffins are bathing in the warmth of my oven. :)













I wanted to serve the puffins with a nice sauce and found just the right one in a nice, little cookbook of historical recipes published by the town museum of Kankaanpää here in Finland. The cinnamon sauce should be used with a cheesecake, but it worked perfectly with my puffins. The original recipe is from the 16th or 17th century.

Pear and Apple Muffins with Marshmallow Fluff

(Original recipe from "Le Cordon Bleu muffinit". Slightly modified by myself.)

450 g wheat flour
3,5 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
0,5 teaspoon nutmeg
115 g brown (or granulated) sugar
350 g pealed fruit (apples and pears) cut into small pieces
2 eggs
3,75 dl milk (or water)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
125 unsalted butter (or olive oil)
some marshmallow fluff (=1 tablespoon per muffin)

1. Preheat the oven to 210 C.
2. Butter your muffin pan, or do as I do, instead of buttering the pan I use paper muffin cups.
3. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add the sugar, apple and pear cubes.
4. In another bowl beat together the milk or water, eggs and vanilla. Mix with the dry ingredients. Add the olive oil or butter. Mix with a spoon. Do not overmix.
5. Spoon some batter into the muffin pan. Add about a tablespoon of marshmallow fluff into each muffin. Cover with more batter.
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

If baking puffins instead of muffins follow the recipe above, but use buttered and bread crumb covered ramekins to bake the puffins and add some dark chocolate with the fluff. Cover with more batter.
Cinnamon Sauce
(Original recipe from
"Makuja menneisyydestä. Ruokia ja ruoanvalmistusta 1200-luvulta 1700-luvulle" ed. Leena Sivula)

2 dl cream
1 dl sugar
1 rkl rose water
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Put all the ingredients into a small pan.
2. Let simmer until the sauce thickens.