Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Elderflower Frosting & Sugared Cranberries

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This carrot cake is always a winner when I have friends over or when I take it to house parties. It’s moist and so easy to make. This time I added some elderflower cordial to the frosting to add a floral tone. I love elderflower cordial and we always have a bottle in the house, even though we mostly use it for gin & tonics. If you like elderflower, you may also like this Strawberry Elderflower Lattice Pie.

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This recipe is for a small 19cm round cake mold. But you can easily double the recipe to make a larger cake.

Ingredients:

For the sugared cranberries:

2 cups of sugar

2 cups water

2 cups of fresh cranberries, washed and picked through

¾ cups of sugar

For the carrot cake:

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups of shredded carrot

3/4 cup of pecans or walnuts, chopped

Zest of 1 mandarin

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

For the cream cheese and elderflower frosting:

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon of cream cheese at room temperature

3 tablespoons of butter, softened

3 tablespoons of elderflower cordial

2 cups of icing sugar

Extra:

Fresh mint leaves for decoration (optional)

 

 

Start by making the sugared cranberries the night before. Place 2 cups of water plus 2 cups of sugar in a medium saucepan and let it simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir from time to time. Once the simple syrup is done, transfer it to a bowl and let it cool for 20 minutes. You want to let it cool before you add the cranberries otherwise they may pop.

Once the syrup has cooled down, add the cranberries and stir to coat them. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, drain the cranberries. You can save the simple syrup for another recipe or for a cocktail. Place the ¾ cup of sugar on a shallow plate and start rolling the cranberries in it until they are evenly coated. Then place them on a baking sheet and let them dry for at least 1 hour.

To make the carrot cake, preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line the bottom of a 19cm round cake mold with parchment paper. Grease and flour the edges of the mold.

Beat the sugar with the eggs. Then add the vegetable oil, shredded carrot, the flour, the baking powder and the salt. Finally add the mandarin zest and the nuts. Pour the batter into the prepared cake mold.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake. Allow the cake to cool down completely before you start making the frosting.

To make the frosting, whisk the softened butter with the cream cheese until well combined. Then add the elderflower cordial and whisk. Then gradually add the icing sugar. Whisk until you have a smooth frosting.

Carefully remove the cake from the mold and plate it. Then frost it with the help of a spatula. I only added it to the top and swirled it around a bit with a spoon. Place some of the sugared cranberries in the middle of the cake. If you want you can add a few mint leaves for extra color. Keep the cake in the fridge. Enjoy!

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Tiramisu Pancakes

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I’ve been craving Tiramisu for a while now and while I was planning this weekend’s breakfasts, tiramisu popped back into my head. So tiramisu pancakes it was. I added some coffee and cacao powder to the pancake batter and made a mascarpone cream to go along with it. Such a delicious way to start the weekend!

This recipe makes 12 medium pancakes.

Ingredients:            

For the pancake batter:

1 cup of all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons of sugar

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 cup of buttermilk

2 tablespoons of butter, melted and cooled

1 ½ tablespoons of cocoa powder

1 ½ teaspoon of instant coffee

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the mascarpone cream:

250grs of mascarpone at room temperature

2/3 cup of whipping cream

4 teaspoons of Port or Marsala wine

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

8 tablespoons of powdered sugar or more to taste

Extras:

Extra butter for cooking the pancakes

Cocoa powder

Strawberries

 

Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Whisk the egg whites with half of the sugar until stiff peaks form.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and vanilla. Then add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, instant coffee, butter and buttermilk. Whisk until combined.

Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Then add half of the remaining egg white and fold it in. Finally fold in the remaining egg white.

Add some butter to a large pan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted and the pan is hot, pour about 1/3 of a cup onto the pan to make each pancake. Let it cook until the top part starts bubbling and the edges start to dry. Then flip it and cook until lightly brown. Repeat for the remaining batter.

To make the mascarpone cream, whisk the mascarpone with the whipping cream until smooth. Then add the port, vanilla and sugar. Mix until everything is combined.

If you want to serve the mascarpone cream in between each pancake in a stack, I suggest that you let the pancakes cool down a bit otherwise they will melt the cream too fast. If you want the pancakes really warm, just serve some of the cream on the side. Sprinkle some cacao powder and add some strawberries. Enjoy!

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Whole-Wheat & Thyme Scones with Camembert & Cranberry Compote

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I have been craving scones lately and thought that Saturday was the perfect day to make them, since we have more time to enjoy breakfast together. I saw fresh cranberries at the market for the first time this season and I was so excited to make something with them. So I served these scones with homemade cranberry compote and Camembert.

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This recipe makes 12 small scones.

Ingredients:

2 cups of whole-wheat flour

1 ½ teaspoon of baking powder

1 ½ tablespoon of honey

Pinch of salt

½ teaspoon of baking soda

4 sprigs of thyme

5 tablespoons of cold butter, chopped

¾ cup of cold buttermilk

For the cranberry compote:

2 cups of fresh cranberries

2 cups of water

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar

Extra:

1 small Camembert, 250grs

 

Preheat the oven to 200C/390F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

To make the cranberry compote, just place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens. Transfer it to a small bowl and set it aside to cool.

Place all the dry ingredients plus the butter and honey in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is well incorporated. Then add the buttermilk and mix until you have an even dough.

Place the dough on your floured working area. Shape the dough into a 1 cm thick rectangle. Using a 6 cm round mold, cut 6 circles or more if you can. Then use the scraps to form extra scones. Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet and bake until golden, about 14 minutes.

Serve the scones while still warm with slices of Camembert and the cranberry compote. Enjoy!

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Speculoos (Cookie Butter) & Pear Buns

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Speculoos is a spiced cookie that it is usually eaten around December here. It is delicious and luckily it also comes in butter form. I really felt like baking last week so I thought of making a different version of the traditional Swedish buns. So I just filled these with cookie butter, pears and then sprinkled some pistachios on top. A delicious fall/winter treat!

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This recipe makes 24 small buns.

Ingredients:

For the dough:

3 ½ cups of All-purpose flour

7gr dry yeast

½ cup of warm water

½ cup of milk

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of salt

4 tablespoons of butter, melted and cooled

1/3 cup of sugar

1 egg

For the filling:

10 tablespoons of speculoos

3 pears, grated & squeezed (use the ones that are better for cooking like Bosc)

For the egg wash:

2 eggs

2 tablespoon of water

Extras:

1/3 cup of chopped pistachios

 

Place the yeast and the warm water in the bowl of the stand mixer. Let it stand for 5 minutes.

Place the remaining ingredients for the dough in the bowl with the yeast.

Knead on low speed for 5 minutes, using the dough hook attachment.  You can also knead it by hand.

Then remove the dough from the bowl. Clean the bowl and then grease it with a bit of vegetable oil.  Form the dough into a ball and place it back into the greased bowl. Cover it with plastic film and let it rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Once the hour has passed, line a baking tray with parchment paper. Cut a large piece of plastic wrap, enough to cover the baking tray and brush it with vegetable oil to prevent it from sticking to the buns later on.

Place the dough in your lightly floured working area. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces.

Microwave the Speculoos for 30 seconds so it is easier to spread. Have the grated and squeezed pears ready.

Roll out one piece into a rectangle of about 30x23cm. Using a pizza cutter or a knife, cut out the uneven edges.

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Spread evenly half of the cookie butter all over the dough, you can leave a little space on the edges. Sprinkle half of the grated pears.

Grab the top 2 edges of the dough and fold it towards you. Roll it a bit with the rolling pin just to seal it. Then slice it into 12 pieces. Grab one piece and twist it. Then wrap it around your finger making two rounds and then make a knot, tucking one end through the middle. Don’t worry if they are not perfect. They will look better once baked. Repeat for the remaining pieces and the other half of the dough.

Place the buns on the prepared baking tray, bush them with some egg wash (then keep the egg wash in the fridge because you are going to use it again). Cover the buns with the previously oiled piece of plastic wrap.

Let them rise in a warm place for 1 hour.  About 15 minutes before the time is up, preheat your oven to 180C/350F.

Once the hour is up, remove the plastic wrap and brush them again with the egg wash. Sprinkle some pistachios on top of each bun. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Enjoy!

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Sunday Brunch at Bluespoon Restaurant (Andaz Hotel)

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My mother in law was in town on Sunday and along with my husband, we went to have brunch at the Andaz hotel (Hyatt). I love the interior design of the hotel. The building used to be an old library and Dutch designer Marcel Wanders turned it into a whimsical building inspired by Alice in Wonderland. You can see it straight away as you enter the hotel.  The hallway leading to the lobby is decorated with tiny doors on the walls.

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The Sunday brunch consists of a buffet and a choice of a la carte dishes.  I ordered the spaghetti with clams which never disappoints and it was delicious. My hubby went for a burger and my mother in law for the soup. We all had a lovely meal and the service was amazing, as one should expect from a 5 star hotel.  Another recommendation is to visit the hotel for their monthly VodkaVriday. It takes place on the last Friday of the month. The theme changes every month, but you can expect delicious Vodka cocktails, nice music and bites. I was there about 2 months ago and it’s a great way to start the weekend!

Andaz hotel

Prinsengracht 587, Amsterdam

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BBQ Pulled Pork, Avocado, Gouda & Fried Egg Breakfast Sandwich on a Soft Pretzel Bun

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I was craving pulled pork lately so I went to my butcher to get a nice piece of pork shoulder to make it. It is so easy to make. It does require time for the meat to get tender but you can just set your timer. I cooked the pork a day in advance and just kept it in the fridge. This is the sandwich I made for breakfast on Saturday. The pretzel buns I did make on the same day as they are best when they are fresh out of the oven. This made a very indulgent Saturday morning.

A quick tip: If you add pork bones to the Dutch oven where you are cooking the meat, you end up with a good stock to later use for ramen. I didn’t add it to the recipe, but it is what I did to not waste the stock I was left with after cooking the meat.

This recipe makes 8 medium sandwiches.

Ingredients:              

For the pork:

800gr of boneless pork shoulder

About 3 litters of beef stock

3/4 cup of Smoked BBQ sauce

For the soft pretzel bun:

For the dough:

1 cup of warm water

1 package of dry yeast (7gr)

2 tablespoons of butter, melted

3 cups of all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 ½ teaspoons of salt

For the water bath:

10 cups of boiling water

2/3 cup of baking soda (here in the Netherlands, you can find it in a toko/asian store)

Extras for the buns:

Egg wash

Coarse sea salt

Vegetable oil

Toppings for the sandwich:

2 avocados, sliced

8 fried eggs

8 slices of Gouda cheese

 

To cook the pork:

Slice off any big parts of fat from the outside of the piece of pork. Then chop it into large chunks (about the size of half a cup). Place the pork in a Dutch oven. Add enough stock to submerge all the pieces of pork. Let it come to a simmer over medium heat. Cover it with a lid and let it cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours. Check every half hour and add more stock if necessary. You know it’s done when the meat just falls apart.

Transfer the pork to a cutting board and shred it using two forks. You can save the stock and use it for something else. Set the shredded pork aside.

To make the soft pretzel buns:

Place the warm water and the yeast in the bowl of the stand mixer. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Then add the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Knead the dough with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Do it on low speed for about 5 minutes, until it stops sticking to the edges and it forms a ball. You can also knead it by hand.

Remove the dough from the bowl. Clean the bowl and then grease it with some vegetable oil. Place the dough back in the greased bowl and cover with plastic film. Let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until it has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment with vegetable oil.

Start making the water bath. Mix the boiling water with the baking soda in a large pot.  Make sure it is not completely filled to the top because the baking soda bubbles a bit. Leave the heat on medium, while you work on the dough.

Place the dough in your working area, it is not necessary to use extra flour. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Make each piece into a ball.

Place the balls in the water bath for 30 seconds. I did 4 at a time.  Then remove them from the water using a slotted spoon and place each ball in the prepared baking tray.

Once they are all done, cut a cross in the middle of each bun, brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle some coarse salt on top of each one. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Once the buns are done, mix the shredded pork with the BBQ sauce. Warm it up in a pan.

Slice each bun into halves. Add a slice of Gouda, and then some of the BBQ pulled pork. Top it with avocado slices and a fried egg. Enjoy!

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Buckwheat-Banana Waffles (Gluten-free)

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It has finally started to feel like summer again, after all the rain and crappy cold weather. And it looks like it’s going to stay like this way for a little while (knock on wood). Hopefully, it will last the whole month.  We had a really nice weekend. On Friday we went out for cocktails and watched the sunset from the Skylounge of the DoubleTree hotel. And on Sunday we spent the afternoon cruising around Amsterdam on a friend’s boat.

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I love this gluten free waffle recipe. I have been making it very often lately. It is better to do it with very ripe bananas as they add most of the sweetness to the batter. I try to always have bananas in the house and let them get ripe for a while. So there is always an excuse for banana-oatmeal pancakes or waffles or cake.

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Ingredients:

1 1/3 of a cup of buckwheat flour

½ cup of rice flour

2 ripe bananas, mashed (the riper, the better)

1 cup of milk

1 tablespoon of vanilla essence

1 egg

3 tablespoons of agave syrup or honey

3 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon of baking powder

Pinch of salt

 

Melt the coconut oil in the microwave and then let it cool down a bit.

Mash the bananas and place them in the blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

Brush your waffle iron with some vegetable oil or use cooking spray. Pour in the waffle batter. The cooking time will depend on your waffle iron. Mine takes 4 minutes per waffle.

Serve with the topping of your choice. I like to add dulce de leche and fruit, or ice cream.

Spring Frittata with a Salad of Shaved Asparagus and Grana Padano

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This dish makes a great breakfast, lunch or light dinner. I added a few potatoes to have a bit more sustenance. Every time the word sustenance comes to mind, it reminds me of the first Thor movie (Nerd Alert!). In the movie, Thor says he needs sustenance because his mortal form is growing weak. My hubby and I always joke about it. Whenever one of us is hungry, we say: “I need sustenance” in a commanding voice. It is just something that stuck with us.

Even though most people cook their asparagus before they eat them, you can also just eat them raw. In this salad, I prepared them raw but you can also sauté them in a pan.

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This recipe is enough for a 23cm skillet and serves 4.

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Ingredients:

For the Frittata:

4 small potatoes, (boiled, peeled and diced)

10 radishes, sliced into quarters

1 yellow zucchini, chopped

½ cup of frozen peas

9 eggs, beaten

¼ cup of milk

1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

Pinch of cayenne

Salt

Pepper

Olive oil

For the salad:

1 bunch of asparagus

30grs of Grana Padano, shaved

Juice of ½ a lemon

3 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt

Pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Boil the potatoes until tender, peel them and dice them. Chop the radishes and zucchini.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and whisk in the milk, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a cast iron skillet. Add the zucchini and radishes. Cook for about 4 minutes. Then add the boiled potatoes and frozen peas. Season with salt and pepper. Stir so everything is mixed. Pour the egg mixture and let it cook for another 4 minutes without stirring. Then transfer the skillet to the pre-heated oven. Bake for 15 minutes.

While the frittata is in the oven, start preparing the salad. Wash the asparagus and snap off the hard ends. Then shave each asparagus into thin ribbons using a potato peeler, cheese slicer or mandolin.

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Shave the Grana Padano.

To make the dressing, just place all of the ingredients in a jar, close it and shake it.

Place the shave asparagus on a plate; add the shaved Grana Padano and the dressing. Mix well.

Once the frittata is cooked, slice it into 4 pieces and serve with some of the salad on top.

Onion Soup French Toast

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One of the perks of being an adult is being able to eat whatever you want. I sometimes find myself craving breakfast dishes for dinner and this is an example of that. I love French toast and I had wanted to do a savory version of it for a while. French onion soup is something both Pieter and I always enjoy. So I thought why not combine them both in one dish? The result was delicious! Melted cheese, caramelized onions with a bit of booze, soft and buttery brioche, I mean what is not to love? We ended up eating the whole loaf of brioche by ourselves. Yup, it was good! I made each toast quite thick just so I could be able to stuff it with a lot of cheese. And you can also waffle it. I soaked the last remaining piece of stuffed bread in the egg batter, greased the waffle iron, and waffled this savory French toast.

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This recipe makes about 4 stuffed French toasts

Ingredients:

1 loaf of brioche, about 400grs

250gr Emmental or gruyere cheese, thinly sliced or shredded

For the onions:

7 medium white onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons of butter, plus extra for frying the french toast

5 sprigs of thyme, leaves only

Salt

Pepper

1 shot of port

1 shot of white wine

For the egg batter:

250ml of cream

3 cups of milk

3 eggs

Salt

 

Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. After the 10 minutes have passed and the onions are caramelized, add the port and white wine to deglaze the pan. Stir, so nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pan. Once the liquid has evaporated, turn the heat off and transfer the onions to a plate.

Slice the brioche loaf into thick slices of about 5 or 6cm. The slices need to be big in order to be able to hold the filling. Using a paring knife, cut through the top part of the crust of each slice to create a pocket.

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Stuff each slice with some of the caramelized onions and cheese. Then using your fingers, press together the opening of each toast to seal it and keep the stuffing from coming out while cooking.

In a large bowl, mix the egg batter with a whisk.

In a large pan, add about 2 tablespoons of butter and melt it over low heat.

Soak 2 of the stuffed pieces of bread in the egg batter. Then place them on the pan and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side on low heat. Then repeat for the remaining pieces.

Serve right away.

And if you want, you can also waffle it! I hope you guys have a lovely start of the week!

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Buckwheat Crepes with Roasted Figs & Gorgonzola (Gluten-free)

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I have been seeing figs at the market lately and had to get some. I love to eat them with gorgonzola. Fig season is so short that I try to eat as many of them as I can before they are gone. I remember when I was a little kid in Lima and we would drive to the beach outside of the city. On our way back home, we would stop and buy a box or two of fresh figs that they would sell by the side of the road. For me that was the best part of the day. The beaches near Lima are very cold so that was never my thing. But getting my hands sticky, by peeling the skin off fresh figs because I couldn’t wait till we were home to wash them and eat them, sure was. I remember them always being so sweet. Figs are one of those things that, if they are in season while we are on holiday in Lima, I always stuff myself with until I cannot see them anymore.

It has been a while since I have eaten crepes so I combined the two in one dish. This time I used buckwheat flour to make gluten free crepes. It is also nice to drizzle some balsamic reduction over the finished dish. I always have some in my pantry. But when I went to grab it, I realized it was pretty much empty so I didn’t add it. You can make it by just reducing a bottle of balsamic vinegar in a pan over medium heat until it becomes a syrup and just store it in an airtight container.

This recipe makes 6 crepes.

Ingredients:

For the crepes:

2/3 cup of buckwheat flour

1 cup of milk (I use semi-skimmed milk, but you can also use whole milk)

3 ½ tablespoons of butter, melted (plus a bit more for the pan)

3 eggs

1 teaspoon of sugar

Pinch of salt

For the roasted figs:

9 fresh figs

150gr of gorgonzola

2 shots of port

Honey

Salt

Pepper

For the toppings:

1/3 cup of pistachios, chopped

Honey

Start by making the crepe batter. You can whisk together all of the ingredients in a bowl, or you can just use a blender. I used a blender. Cover the bowl with the batter with plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

To roast the figs, line a baking tray with parchment paper. Slice the figs making a cross in the middle and stuff them with a piece of gorgonzola. Drizzle some port and honey on top of each stuffed fig. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in a pre-heated oven at 180C/350F for 10 to 15 minutes.

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Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add a bit of butter to the pan. Once the butter has melted, add about 1/6 of the crepe batter and swirl it around the pan. Once bubbles start to form on the top, loosen the edges with a spatula. Then gently flip it using the same spatula. Once it is golden on both sides, transfer it to a plate and keep it in a warm oven while you make the remaining crepes.

To plate up, fold each crepe in half, and then fold it in half again. Serve with the stuffed figs, drizzle extra honey on top and add some of the chopped pistachios.