Monday, 31 December 2012

Indulge one last time: German nut triangles

The year 2012 is coming to an end and I have many many many resolutions for 2013, in fact too many and  am sure that half will be cancelled from my list my January 3rd. One of the biggies on my agenda is: TA-DAAA weight loss. Who would have thought?! So, I indulge one last time today and will end the year 2012 with German nut triangles - a yummy winter treat. I guarantee that this delicious pastry will be the first to disappear at any new year's party. And here is what you need:

For a baking sheet: (40x30cm or 16x12 inches)
sunflower oil to grease baking sheet

For the pastry:
225 g  or 2 1/4 cups plain four
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g or 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 drops vanilla essence
1 egg
1 egg yolk
100 g or 3/8 cups butter (softened) 

For the topping: 
2 tablespoons of apricot marmalade
150 g or 3/4 cups brown sugar
150 g or 3/4 cups butter
8 drops vanilla essence
3 tablespoons of water
200 g or 7 ounces flaked hazelnut kernels
100 g or 3 1/2 ground hazelnut kernels

For the coating:
200 g or 7 ounces of milk chocolate

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius/350 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Mix flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl and add all remaining ingredients, work first with kneading hook, then stir with electrical mixer (highest setting) until the dough is smooth, roll it out on the greased baking sheet.
  • spread the jam on the dough, in a pot melt butter and with sugar, vanilla essence and water, stir it well. Add the hazelnut mix and stir again. Let is cool down for a few minutes and spread it evenly on the dough.
  • Bake everything for about 25 minutes.
  • Let the pastry cool down for at least one hour otherwise you cannot cut it well, the pasty will break and all your work is lost in crumbles.
  • Once cooled down, cut the pastry into squares (circa 4 cm or 2 1/2 inches wide) and then diagonally into triangles.

  • Chop the chocolate and melt it in bain-marie. Make sure you have the stove on low heat only, otherwise the chocolate will burn. Stir continuously. 
  • Dip the corners of the nut triangles into the chocolate and let cool again. 
Don't worry if the chocolate corners are irregular, the taste is so delicious that nobody will care about the look. 

This German treat was the highlight of an Italian family dinner we had a few weeks ago, and I am sure it will have the same wow-effect at our party tonight. 

Happy New Year!!!!!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Crunchy carrots

Toss veggies in a bowl with some olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and green onion.

There is nothing healthier than vegetables - and luckily I love them. I prepare them in many different ways, but one of my favourite methods is to grill them in the oven. I made carrots today, however, you can use all kinds of different veggies, just make sure you cut them all about the same width and length. I often use zucchini and carrots together, they make a delicious and colourful combination.

You will need
veggies (about 800 grams, serves 2 as a main dish and 4 as a side dish)
half green onion
one clove of garlic
two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil (chili flakes and sesame seeds are optional)

Place the carrots on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Here is what you do:
  • Preheat the oven to the highest temperature possible if you want to eat right away. If you have some time on your hands, prepare everything and let it sit for 30 minutes before turning on the oven.
  • Wash and cut the veggies (I peel the carrots but not the zucchinis), make sure all vegetable sticks have about the same thickness and length
  • Finely chop the garlic and green onion.
  • Place everything in a large bowl.
  • Add about 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil. Go easy on the oil, you won't need much.
  • Add salt and pepper and maybe some chili flakes. I also added sesame seeds, but I recommend. you leave it at salt and pepper for the first time, the taste of the vegetables will amaze you
  • Toss everything really well and if you are not in a rush, cover the bowl and let it sit for about 30 to 45 minutes, this will bring out the flavours even more. 
  • Place the veggies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Put your oven on the grill function and cook for 10 minutes, then turn the veggies and grill for another 10 minutes the most.
The veggies will be crunchy and very tasty. We often times have just the veggies for dinner, maybe with a slice of bread, however, it also makes a great side dish that goes well with any kind of fish or meat.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

A desperate painter

Maybe it was not a clever idea to start renovating just before this year's Holiday Season. Since I have some time on my hands I decided to paint the walls. I had planned to be done by December 2nd, however, I must have been delusional. As of yesterday, I finished painting and cleaning three rooms and the hallway. I left the living room for last and if everything goes as planned, I might be able to put up my Christmas decoration by Sunday, fingers crossed.
Yes, I am a DIY project enthusiast, but I am not a very efficient one. I am not really in a position to give you a hands on advice on painting that anyone might not already know. All I can suggest is to avoid the same mistakes I made. Here is my personal list of things to remember when painting the walls in the future:
  • choose quality paint, it will prevent you from having to put on too many layers
  • preparation is the key; make sure you tape all corners, borders, window sills, power outlets etc.
  • push all furniture to the middle of the room and place plastic foil over them if you cannot take them   completely out of the room (which is what I would suggest, but unfortunately could not do)
  • start to paint from top to bottom, in case some paint will run (and it will, trust me!)
  • if you need to mix paint or thin it with water, make sure you stir with a flat stick (not a round one), otherwise the paint will take forever to blend.
  • being a perfectionist like me often times is not an advantage in life, however, when it comes to painting, it can be quite beneficial
  • and last but not least: be patient! You will get the job done, eventually... at least, I still hope so.

Less mess, less cleaning; being a perfectionist can be advantageous when it comes to paining.