Friday, November 7, 2014

Fall is the best

Love love love fall!
I've noticed so many bloggers feel the same.
This vibrant season is so alive and stimulating to all the senses.
"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower".
-Albert Camus

(If you think about it - that's a lot of flowers!)
I love walking through the crunchy leaves.
I delay sweeping and raking a tiny bit - not because I am lazy - but because the ground just looks so beautiful.
My children love carving their jack-o-lanterns.
Life is an adventure!
We enjoyed a lovely fall break on Lake Zurich and in the Black Forest and Alsace, forest and mountain hiking, eating well, city shopping, discovering, reconnecting, hanging out with friends and family. We visited rushing waterfalls, an adorable waffle cafe, and a farm with a huge selection of pumpkins and apples.
Our family spent a few nights in a very small apartment and honesty, we got on each other's nerves. At certain moments I vowed this would be the last family vacation with teenagers, but in the end, everyone agreed we all had fun! I think we all felt incredibly re-energized when we got back home.
So much harvest produce and fabulous pumpkin carving art at this Swiss farm!
Sunshine and mountain air and pretty Swiss flags everywhere.
Life is back to normal and the skies have turned gray and rainy but that is fine with me. I am happy to be in my cozy studio making, sewing, crafting, dreaming! 
Happy November!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Apple Crumble Cake

This crumble is more of a cake with a crumble topping but whatever you want to call it, it is delicious and not at all hard to make.
My daughter was super sweet and helped me bake this. She took over the apple-peeling step and artfully layered the apples slices on the cake in a beautiful spiral before we sprinkled the crumble on top.
We enjoyed a slice (or two, possibly!) with a cup of hot milk-coffee in a favorite mug after a lovely fall forest hike. With a pretty magazine to dream over and a curious kitten poking his hungry little nose as close as he dared to get this was a perfect little snack on a Sunday afternoon.
Apple Crumble Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
225 g cold butter cut into small pieces
1 t vanilla extract
dash of salt
1 egg
1 cup slivered or flaked almonds
800 g apples (we used Belle de Boskoop, a tart apple good for cooking)
juice of half a lemon
lemon zest
1 t cinnamon (or more according to your taste!)
1 T powdered sugar
margarine or butter for the tarte form (26 cm diameter)

1. Combine the following ingredients in a large bowl with the kneading attachment of your mixer: flour, sugar, butter, vanilla extract, salt, egg and almonds. Once the dough is slightly combined, use your hands to produce a course crumble.

2. Grease the tarte form. Pour in half of the crumble mixture and press down firmly with your hands.

3. Peel and quarter the apples, removing the stems and seeds, and cut the quarters into slices. Distribute the slices evenly over the prepared cake layer and sprinkle with lemon juice.

4. Mix the lemon zest and cinnamon into the remaining crumble mixture and then sprinkle over the apples. Bake at 200°C (400° F) convection setting ( for about 50 minutes on the middle rack. You may need to cover with aluminum foil for the last 15 minutes of baking.

5. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Dust with the powdered sugar and enjoy the plain or with vanilla ice-cream.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sweet Potato & Ginger Soup

Today I have a sweet, spicy and vibrant soup to warm you on a cool autumn day! With a few small substitutions which I include in the recipe, you can make this with dairy products or completely vegan.
Ginger & Sweet Potato Soup

(serves four)

1 onion
500 g sweet potatoes (approx. 2)
250 g carrots (approx. 4)
20 g fresh ginger root, or more to taste (about a one-inch piece)
50 g butter or margarine or 2 T oil
300 ml apple juice
1 liter vegetable broth
fresh chives
40 g almond flakes
150 g cream or soy cream
2-3 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
salt, pepper, cayenne pepper

1. Dice the onions. Peel and wash the sweet potatoes and carrots and slice. Peel the ginger and chop finely. Heat the fat in a pot and saute the onions until translucent. Add the chopped vegetables and ginger and saute for a few minutes. Add the broth and apple sauce and simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes.

2. Wash and chop the chives for the garnish, set aside. Roast the almond flakes in a pan without any fat until golden brown.

3. Puree the soup (I like to use an immersion blender), then stir in the cream and the lemon juice. Season with salt, pepper, cayenne. Serve with a garnish of chives and roasted almond flakes.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Roasted vegetables

Hi, welcome to my second post on autumn cooking! Roasted vegetables are so easy and your home is filled with delicious aromas. I think bright orange carrots and pumpkins and the spicy fragrances of cumin and rosemary bring a wonderful warm feeling on a gray November day. My children are not big fans of stir-fried vegetables and have been known to pull certain unwanted bits and pieces out of their soup, but if the veggies are roasted they love them. I'm thankful anytime they are getting vitamins.

Trio of Roasted Vegetables:
You will need sweet potatoes, carrots and a small pumpkin/squash. These Red Kuri Squash or Hokkaido Squash are very popular and easy to find in our supermarkets here in Germany. I have also had some success with growing them in our own garden. 

Peel and slice the veggies into wedges. You do not need to peel the Hokkaido squash but please do remove the seeds! If you like, toss in a few onion quarters as well. Mix all vegetables in a bowl to cover with olive oil. Transfer to a baking sheet or baking dish. Sprinkle with curry or cumin. Roast at 400°F (200°C) for about 30-45 minutes or until soft. Season to taste with fresh ground black pepper and sea salt. 

Potato Wedges:
Scrub the potatoes, only peel if necessary, and cut into wedges (or leave whole, if they are small enough!). Mix in a bowl with olive oil and distribute evenly on a baking sheet. Add some fresh sprigs of rosemary. Turn once or twice during baking. Roast at 400° /200° C for approx. 45 minutes, they should be golden brown with a nice crust. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.
(photos of potatoes and veggies (above) before baking, getting ready to be popped into the oven!)

A quick dip of yogurt, cream cheese and grated cucumber is lovely with the potatoes. Add garlic or chopped fresh herbs for more flavor and season lightly with salt.
Grated Carrot and Zucchini Salad: 
I like to compliment oven-roasted veggies with a leafy green salad. But I also use whatever I have on hand. This salad of grated carrots and raw zucchini was what I had left over from these muffins . Toss with toasted sunflower seeds and a splash of oil and vinegar. Garnish with cucumber slices for (little) people to munch on!