autumn

All posts tagged autumn

What to eat on a Rainy Sunday Afternoon: Chocolate and Pear Frangipane with Poire William’s

Published October 27, 2013 by The Feminist

frangipane

When I woke up this morning, I had this eerie feeling that today would not be a good day. I’m not a psychic and neither do I possess the rare quality to observe the unobservable, but from the moment I opened my curtains I immediately knew that this awful hunch was a perfectly acceptable prediction of today’s weather. Looking outside it felt as if I had just stepped into a Harry Potter novel and I half expected to see a pair of dementors flying through the air. There was a stiff wind blowing, the sky had a menacingly dark colour and …Was it just me or were there really an awful lot of crows squawking like crazy?

Anyway, given my frighteningly correct prediction, I wanted to put a stop to this gloomy feeling before it got really out of hand. I baked a frangipane pie( the sort of thing one does when the dreadful weather represents how one feels on the inside). In my humble opinion a frangipane filling is the best way to smother those bad feelings with a golden layer of gooeyness. In the blink of an eye- with just one bite- your mood is immediately transformed from “I want to crawl back in bed and never come out” to “I am totally awesome. Let’s have fun and revel in so much awesomeness.”

Add to that wonderful frangipane filling an insanely decadent amount of chocolate and heavenly sweet pears soaked in boozy Poire William’s, and what you end up with is a total package of comfort. I took a large slice of this pie, snuggled down on my cozy couch and watched some Hart Of Dixie…

Poof!

My eerie bad feeling was gone and all I was left with was a warm and fuzzy heart filled with glee. Admittedly, eating this delicious frangipane comes at a calorific high price, but who cares? This pie is what I call an emotional investment: once you’ve experienced the sheer happiness it brings, the calories will all be worth it.

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Chocolate and Pear frangipane with Poire William’s

Ingredients:
• One sheet of puff pastry
• 150gr butter
• 150gr sugar
• 50gr plain flour
• 125gr ground almonds
• 25gr cocoa powder
• 3 eggs
• 75 dark chocolate
• 2 large pears
• 4 tbsp Poire William’s

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease a 26cm loose-bottomed pie tin.
2. Peel the pears and cut into thin wedges. Remove the cores and discard. Toss the pears with the Poire William and let them soak for at least half an hour in the fridge.
3. Lift the puff pastry carefully into the tin, pressing firmly into the corners and sides. Prick the base lightly with a fork. Trim the edges with a sharp, horizontally held knife.
4. Put the butter, ground almonds, sugar, flour, cocoa powder and eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric whisk until smooth and fluffy.
5. Melt the dark chocolate au bain marie until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
6. Spoon the frangipane mixture into your puff pastry tart. Drop spoonfuls of the melted chocolate on top and draw the tip of a knife through the mixture to lightly marble.
7. Arrange the pears around the tart, cut-side down, with the pointy ends towards the middle, pressing gently into the chocolate frangipane batter. Drizzle the remaining Poire William’s over the top.
8. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 180°C and loosely cover the pie with a piece of foil to prevent the pie from overbrowning. Bake for further 15 to 20 minutes.
9. Cool in the tin for at least 10 minutes and then carefully transfer to a board or serving platter. Sprinkle with sifted icing sugar.

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Passionate about Pumpkin: Curried pumpkin soba noodles and spiced pumpkin cake with nougat

Published October 8, 2013 by The Feminist

pumpkin duo

Take a look outside your window, dearest reader.
Do you see that?

Fall has arrived.
The foliage is changing colours, the sun is standing incredibly low on the horizon- transforming the air in a parade of golden sunbeams- and Christmas decorations are starting to pop up in shopping windows everywhere. Although I think that the latter is the epitome of bad taste and dreadful commercialism, I do love every little thing about this season. (yes, even the freezing toes and bloody rain showers)

But if there is one thing about the fall that I truly and utterly adore, it most definitely is the great… the humble…the magnificent… pumpkin! These strange looking fellas have the brightest orange hue –it would even make Tan Mom blush!- and their taste is just a heavenly combination of sweet, slightly honeyed bliss and earthy, fiber goodness.

Besides the obvious health benefits ( say hello to lots of vitamins and minerals!), this humble winter squash is also incredibly versatile! Yes, I’m not joking! There is actually more to pumpkins than velvety pumpkin soup or –the horror!- Halloween lanterns.

In order to prove my point, I conjured up a two-course meal for 4 that truly captures its unique and yummy character. Enjoy!

Asian curried pumpkin soba noodles

This is the ultimate vegetarian comfort food dish. Creamy coconut milk, sweet pumpkin, aromatic spices and –last but not least-very slurpable noodles!

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Ingredients:
• 250gr soba noodles
• 300gr pumpkin, cut into 1cm dices
• 1 can of chickpeas
• 200gr cherry tomatoes, halved
• 500gr spinach
• 3 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 5cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
• ½ tsp chilli powder
• ¼ tsp nigella seeds
• ¼ tsp cinnamon
• ¼ tsp fenugreek
• ¼ tsp mustard seeds
• 2 tbsp garam massala
• 2 tbsp ground turmeric
• 400ml coconut milk

Method:
1. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a heavy-based cooking pot and add all the spices, garlic, onion and ginger. Sauté for a couple of minutes until your kitchen smells like an Indian take away (in a good way, of course)
2. Add the diced pumpkin and fry for a couple of minutes before adding the coconut milk. Let it simmer for 15 minutes until the pumpkin is soft but not mushy. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Meanwhile cook your noodles according to the instruction on the packet and blanche the spinach.
4. Add the tomatoes, drained chickpeas, blanched spinach and cooked noodles to the pumpkin curry and season with salt if necessary.
5. Dig in!

Spiced pumpkin cake with soft nougat and nuts

(I repeat: pumpkin! Spice! Nuts! SOFT NOUGAT!!) This cake has the rare quality of being both incredibly light and airy, and at the same time staying lusciously moist and fudgy. The soft nougat turns into a sticky chunk of sugary honey and makes this already yummy cake a one-in-a-million showstopper! Don’t say I haven’t warned you!

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Ingredients (makes 6 really big squares, or 8 regular ones)
• 2 eggs
• 125ml sunflower oil
• 100gr caster sugar
• 80gr muscovado sugar
• 275gr pumpkin, cut into small chunks
• 170gr plain flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
• ½ tsp cinnamon
• ¼ tsp nutmeg
• 100gr soft nougat, cut into chunks
• 50gr of nuts, roughly chopped

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a flat cake tin with baking parchment.
2. Cook the pumpkin in some boiling water until it starts to fall apart (Add a cinnamon stick, a star anise and some crushed cardamom pods to the water to give extra flavour.)
3. Drain the pumpkin and mash it all up until you get a smooth puree. Let the puree cool slightly.
4. Add the oil and sugar to the pumpkin puree and mix well. Stir in the eggs and whisk until combined.
5. Sift in the dry ingredients until you get a smooth batter and finally stir in the chopped nougat and nuts.
6. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
7. Get ready to go to warm, gooey and fuzzy pumpkin heaven !

Just Beet It: Red Wine and Beetroot cake with orange and cinnamon cream cheese frosting

Published August 25, 2013 by The Feminist

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Technically it may still be summer, but when I was looking outside my kitchen window this morning, there were absolutely no signs indicating that these months are supposed to be the hottest of the year. All I could see were grey clouds, and although such droopy whether would usually make me feel rather depressed, this morning I couldn’t help but feel a sense of excitement about the prospect of cooler weather.

Sipping hot chocolate in front of the fireplace, going for a walk in the woods with your favourite scarf tied on tight, listening to Michael Bublé whilst taking a long, hot bath,… Suddenly I couldn’t wait for autumn to arrive!

So inspired by this autumn vibe, I decided to start the fall a little bit early this year and conjured up something truly wonderful: a red wine and beetroot cake with an orange and cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Or as I like to call it: the Glühwein cake.

For those of you who don’t own a copy of “Famous Alcoholic Beverages for Dummies”, Glühwein is a mulled wine and is incredibly popular in Germany (where it originated), other German- speaking countries and with us Belgians ( because we know a good drink when we see one!). It is a heavenly aromatic warm red wine, spiced with cinnamon, cloves, star anise and orange and his this remarkable capacity to make you forget all your troubles (and manners, sometimes) and to fill you with warmth and joy. It’s like an electric blanket… but with alcohol. It’s awesome!

So all these flavours inspired me to make this cake. Cinnamon, red wine and mixed spice went into the cake batter, and orange and cinnamon were blended in with the honeyed cream cheese frosting… Sigh. I really do have very good ideas from time to time.

A second key ingredients in this cake is beetroot. You can’t bake an autumn-inspired cake without using any root vegetables. You just can’t. That would be sacrilege. Carrots, parsnips, even turnips! When the weather gets cold, you simply have to use them in a cake! It’s a rule.

I love the earthy sweetness of the beetroot and its majestic red colour so I made the humble beetroot my root vegetable of choice this time. The red beetroot is a match made in heaven with the red wine!

Although the raw batter looked burgundy red, the cooked cake more resembled a chocolate cake, rather than a deep red velvet cake. I didn’t mind. I’d much rather prefer a cake that looks homemade than something that seems to have come straight out of a chemistry lab. If you want to enhance the redness of the cake, you could add food colouring but, like I said, I really don’t think it would do this cake justice.

PS: You may have noticed that this is my second beetroot recipe in a row. Now before you start assuming that I may have some sort of beetroot addiction: I don’t. I just had a lot of beetroot lying around in my kitchen and I didn’t want anything to go to waste! How ecologically sound of me!

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Red wine and beetroot cake with a cinnamon and orange cream cheese frosting

Ingredients

For the cake:
• 2 eggs
• 80gr butter
• 250gr cooked beetroot
• 60ml red wine
• 180gr light brown sugar
• 170gr plain flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
• ½ tsp cinnamon
• ½ tsp mixed spice
• ¼ tsp salt

For the frosting
• 100gr cream cheese
• 1 tbsp honey
• Zest of half an orange
• ¼ tsp cinnamon

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
2. Puree the cooked beetroot in a blender together with the red wine until you get a smooth paste.
3. Mix together the red wine and beetroot puree with the eggs, sugar and butter until combined. (At this stage the mixture will look slightly curdled, don’t worry, it will all work out in the end 😉 )
4. Sift in the dry ingredients and mix well.
5. Pour the batter into a prepared cake tin and bake for approximately 35-40 minutes.
6. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
7. For the frosting, whisk together all the ingredients and spoon the frosting onto the cake. Spread out evenly with a palette knife.

“Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower”

Published October 17, 2012 by The Feminist
“Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower”

Fall, my favorite time of year. Leaves are painted into fifty shades of red, brown and yellow. The cool air is refreshing and the smell of roasted chestnuts, pumpkin soup  and damp wood are indulgingly nostalgic. It’s also the time of cute hats and cozy knitted sweaters, leather long-sleeved gloves and faux-fur coats.  The perfect fall outfit to go for a long walk in the woods.

When the sun is shining, what better way to spend your time than to be out in the woods? The fresh blush on your cheeks being one of the many perks.  When it rains, what better way to spend your time than to sit back and relax in front of the fireplace with a good book and a hot chocolate? Cozy is no longer an adjective, but a state of mind.

Fall reminds me that everything can change. That transition is not something to be afraid of, but something to look forward to. Fall captures unspoiled beauty and the seasonal changes will be the memories of a lifetime.

“Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower” van evelineversluys met felt hats
Dark jeans, $37 / Alexander McQueen platform booties / Michael Kors tote / Mulberry felt hat / Mango bow glove

A leaf falls: Tiramisu, the autumn edition

Published October 14, 2012 by The Feminist

When you need a little “Pick me up” because of the cold weather outside, what better dessert to eat than a scrumptious tiramisu?

However, at the risk of sounding pretentious and making every Italian on this planet angry, I find the traditional Italian tiramisu too… straightforward and dull. I want something more exiting, new and imaginative! So instead of using lady fingers, I used the world famous Belgian ginger biscuits. (if you have never heard of them, shame on you and start googling right now! Belgium is much more than just chocolate and beer, you know.) These biscuits soaked in coffee, add a rich flavour with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and create an instant autumn vibe! I also added some marinated pear to the mascarpone mixture to turn this dessert into a showstopper, ready to be devoured in front of the fireplace.