comfort food

All posts tagged comfort food

The Best (Vegan) Chocolate Cake… with Cassis Liqueur

Published March 17, 2015 by The Feminist

vegan chocolate

I know that this is a rather bold statement to make, but trust me on this one: THIS. IS. THE. BEST.

Seriously, if you would serve this chocolate cake to a vigorous, I-would-rather-have-a-large-ecological-footprint-than-ever-eat-anything-vegan Dumbass, he would eat it all up, because you really cannot tell that this cake is entirely dairy-free and vegan.

it is unctuous, moist, scrummy in your tummy, delicious!

Add to that some gorgeous Cassis Liqueur, which I drizzled over the top of the cake and you just know that this cake couldn’t be anything other than sheer perfection.

PS: if you’ve been wondering why Fashion, Food & Flirts has been so absent these past couple of weeks, please rest assured, because everything will explain itself shortly! I’ve been working on a brand new concept/project, which I will share with y’all soon! So bear with, dear readers. Bear with!

Ingredients:

  • 150gr flour
  • 175gr sugar
  • 35gr cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp blueberry jam
  • 200ml water
  • 2 tbsp Cassis liqueur, plus 3 extra to drizzle over the top
  • 50ml vegetable oil

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together.

2. Add the water and oil and mix well. Stir in 2tbsp of jam and liqueur.

3. Pour the batter into a brownie tin and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes.

4. Once it comes out of the oven, drizzle some extra Cassis liqueur over the top and let it soak up all the moisture before removing from the tin.

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Baby, it’s cold outside! Pumpkin Pie Tiramisu with Coffee-Glazed Pecan Praline

Published December 8, 2014 by The Feminist

oh

This is one of those desserts that looks kinda freaky and –dare I say it?- ugly, especially if you don’t know what it is.

However, as with many things in life, the most freakish are the most delicious.

weird

And, pssss, I will let you in on a little secret: this tiramisu (yes, that is what this strange-looking thing is) is the yummiest thing you will ever taste. It is a pumpkin pie turned into a tiramisu, which makes it even more delicious and more decadent! Just imagine a homemade pumpkin puree loaded with spices combined with a soothing mascarpone cream into one lovely, orange-coloured mousse! Add to that some heavenly Belgian peperkoek (The Belgian version of gingerbread, only way better) soaked in Amaretto and coffee and for the finishing touch I conjured up some crunchy coffee-glazed pecan praline.

I mean, If you aren’t drooling right now, something is clearly wrong with you.

As you can see, the combination of orange and brown hues is doomed not to look very appetizing, but if you do would like to try to make it look more appealing, you can always opt for individual glasses to serve the tiramisu in. But I always find that too fiddly to spend my time on.

awesome

Another great reason why you have to make this pumpkin pie tiramisu is because it is the ideal dessert to eat when it is cold outside. Just imagine sitting in your sofa, staring at your wonderfully decorated Christmas tree, while gobbling down some of this tiramisu…

Doesn’t this scenario make you want to jump for joy?

egb73

Ha! Thought so!

Here are the instructions:

Ingredients:

For the homemade pumpkin puree:

  • 1 small butternut squash (peeled, deseeded and diced)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp Amaretto
  • 1 tsp corn flour

For the mascarpone mixture:

  • 250gr of mascarpone
  • 400gr homemade pumpkin puree

For the coffee-soaked peperkoek:

  • 1 pack of good-quality peperkoek
  • A huge cup of strong coffee
  • 5tbsp Amaretto

For the coffee-glazed pecan praline

  • 75gr pecan nuts
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Cook the butternut in a pot of boiling water until soft.
  2. Drain and mash together the butternut with the spices and maple syrup. Put the mix back on a very low heat. In a small bowl, mix together the corn flour with the Amaretto. Pour the mix into the mashed butternut and stir.
  3. Spoon the butternut puree into a bowl and refrigerate until cooled.
  4. Mix together the mascarpone with 400gr of the butternut puree. Give it a quick taste to see whether the mix is sweet enough. If not, add some more maple syrup. Set aside.
  5. Start assembling your tiramisu by dunking the peperkoek slices into your coffee and amaretto mix. Put the soaked peperkoek on the bottom of your dish.
  6. Spoon half the pumpkin pie mascarpone mixture onto the peperkoek layer.
  7. Now repeat the dunking process and put another layer of peperkoek on top of your mascarpone cream.
  8. Put in the fridge overnight.
  9. To make your pecan praline, preheat the oven to 180°C and chop the nuts into rough chunks. Put a pan on medium heat and add a heaped tablespoon of caster sugar and wait until it starts to caramelize. Add the coffee granules and the splash of water. Stir in the chopped pecans and add a pinch of salt. Transfer the coffee-caramel-coated pecans onto some baking parchment and put in the oven for 5 minutes until it starts to smell nice (the smell can be best described as “toasty aromatic”. If it more resembles “burnt toasty” you know they have been in there for too long.)
  10. Transfer the nuts to a chopping board and chop them up finely. Scatter them on top of your tiramisu. Dig in!

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Snow-Proof Food: Paccheri with Roasted Figs, Stilton and Radicchio

Published January 31, 2014 by The Feminist

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I’m leaving for the snowy mountains of Austria tomorrow.

Yes, you’ve read that correctly.

This blogger is going skiing!

You cannot believe how long it has been since my last sky trip to the Alps and I am so terribly exited , I don’t think I will be able to get much sleep tonight due to an exceedingly high level of adrenaline rushing through my body.

Austria is a beautiful country, full of magnificent nature and an über cool abundance of schnapps.

The only thing the Austrian Alps seem to be missing is a high percentage of hot dudes. (This blog is-after all- still called Fashion, Food & Flirts!) Therefore, I will make it my personal goal next week to go and look for sexy Lederhosen-wearing men, to prove to everyone that their prejudice about Austrians is absolutely wrong.

I will make it my quest to look out for men who look like this:

jesse

A mountain version of Jesse Williams? It can’t be that difficult, can it?

Or maybe find myself a Captain Von Trapp who looks like this:

michael

I would be happy to sing “the Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music” (even though my voice sounds like a cow with bowel problems) if it meant winning over a Michael Ealy look-a-like!

Me picky???

Not at all!

I would gladly “settle for”  a Hiddleston, Cumberbatch or Fassbender

bennie fassbender

…if I have to.

I can already predict the potential side-effects:

Ovaries

I’m getting slightly off topic here.

Where was I?

Ah, yes. I’m going skiing!

Which means that I will be spending a lot of time in the snow. In the cold. Possibly freezing my ass off. So in order to prepare myself for all that cold weather and glacial temperatures I cooked myself a heart-warming, super comforting dish.

A bowl of steaming pasta… with an intense stilton sauce… some heavenly-sweet roasted figs… crunchy bitter radicchio… and finally a good sprinkling of chopped walnuts…

Merely describing this dish to you all is making the snow melt, so I think I’m going to stop writing and give you the recipe instead (I still want there to be some snow left when I get there, you know.)

PS: Unfortunately, this also means I won’t be able to blog for at least a week. Sorry folks! But don’t you worry, I’ll be back! (For once, quoting Arnold Schwarzenegger is allowed, since he himself is Austrian 😉 )

Paccheri with Roasted Figs, Stilton and Radicchio

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 100gr paccheri pasta
  • 4 figs, cut into quarters
  • Large handful of radicchio, sliced into thin strips
  • 25gr stilton cheese, plus extra to garnish
  • Chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ½ tsp dried thyme

Method:

  1. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. (keep some of the cooking liquid for later)
  2. Heat a knob of butter in a pan and fry the figs until slightly charred. Sprinkle on the honey and dried thyme.
  3. Melt the stilton cheese on top of the al dente cooked pasta and stir in approx. 3 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to create an even creamier sauce.
  4. Stir in the roasted figs and just before serving stir through the radicchio.
  5. Serve the pasta on a large plate and decorate with chopped walnuts and some extra stilton cheese.

How to Survive Cold Weather: Eat Chocolate Banana Rolls

Published January 29, 2014 by The Feminist

rolls

These rolls are certainly not the prettiest or daintiest of desserts, but I can guarantee that what they may lack in beauty they definitely make up for in taste. This is what I call food that is good for the soul.

That bitter richness from the chocolate, the sweet palate-cleaving bananas and a wonderfully soft dough…. Sigh. These rolls are simply heart-warming and, therefore, exactly what I want on a cold and wintery day like today.

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Sure, I could just put on a cozy sweater and read a good book in front of the fire place, but that just provides superficial warmth.  (and I don’t have a fire place, quel bummer!) On a day like this, I want something that warms me up and leaves me in a comforting state of happiness. Something that heats up the soul in the most profound way…

Something Edible.

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So I baked these wonderfully gigantic swirly rolls. From the moment I took one bite, I immediately felt a relaxing warmth coming over me. There is no scientific explanation for it. It just is what it is. Pure Magic.

Ps: As you may see, my chocolate banana rolls aren’t exactly identical in size. Some are enormous, others are rather petite. But that is the beauty of this bake: Rustic elegance. What more could you possibly desire?

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Chocolate Banana Rolls

Ingredients (makes 16)

For the dough:

  • 300ml lukewarm milk
  • 25gr caster sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp dried active yeast
  • 500gr strong white bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 85gr butter

For the filling:

  • 100gr chopped dark chocolate
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 150gr Nutella

Method:

  1. In a jug, mix together the milk, sugar and yeast. Stir well and set aside for approx. 20 minutes until the liquid becomes frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingers until you get a crumb-like consistency.
  3. Make a well in the centre and pour the milk mixture into the well. Bring the mixture together to form a dough. (I used my hands for this)
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead well until soft and smooth. Place the dough back into the bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place to rise for approx 45-60 minutes until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Once risen, knock the dough back in the bowl and turn it out onto your surface. Roll the dough out into a rough rectangular about 1.5cm thick.
  6. Scatter the chopped chocolate over the dough and press down with the rolling pin to get the chocolate chips to stick. Gently spread a generous layer of Nutella over the dough, followed by the mashed banana.
  7. Roll the dough up lengthways and cut the dough into 16 slices.
  8. Line a cake tin (or two, depending on the size) with baking parchment. Place the slices in the tin, cover with cling film and allow to rise for another 20-30 minutes.
  9. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 180°C. Bake the rolls in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Keep on Stirrin’: The Best Risotto in the World

Published November 20, 2013 by The Feminist

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This is a very bold statement, I know. But sometimes you just have to stop being modest and tell the truth for a change. Have I tasted all the possible risottos in the world? No. (Although it would be pretty awesome if I had.) Have I read about all the other risotto options in an abundance of cookbooks? I haven’t. (Frankly, I don’t have the time, being an industrious American Studies student and all that. My professor would get a heart attack if he knew I had more knowledge about the history of risotto than about –say- Woodrow Wilson’s presidency.)

So how do I know this mackerel, shrimp and saffron risotto is the best?
To tell you the truth, there are plenty of other delicious risottos that deserve the title as well. Think about a wild mushroom risotto with gorgonzola cheese and roasted pear (yum!) or a pumpkin risotto with sage butter and roasted pine nuts. (yum yum!)However, when I was standing in my kitchen the other day, there was only one ingredient that would be able to satisfy my cravings. Mackerel.

Do I hear you frowning, dear reader? No worries, I completely understand your reluctance to see the brilliance of this fish. Honestly.

Taking into account that big frown on your forehead, let me just say this: mackerel is the most wonderful fish on the planet. It’s full of vitamins, full of good oils and so delectably juicy and scrummy it will make your mouth water just from looking at it.

So on that rainy and cold evening I decided that mackerel was the only way to go. Add to that the soothing and comforting texture of the risotto and the aromatic warmth of saffron and there is no further denying it. Shout it from the roof tops, dear readers.

THIS IS THE BEST RISOTTO.

Anyway, on to something completely different. (and less fishy) The best thing about cooking a risotto is the stirring. I’m aware that in the midst of a foodie battle- to stir or not to stir?- this might be a rather controversial thing to say. To all those who firmly believe risotto shouldn’t be frequently stirred: by all means, go ahead. After all, who am I to change your stirring aversion?

On the other hand, if you’re one of those people, you’re really missing out on all the fun. The rhythmic stirring, watching how those separate kernels of rice start to form a creamy union of splendidness, sipping from a glass of white wine, swaying around in your kitchen with JT’s angelic voice in the background…

Stirring risotto is simply the most joyous, relaxing and ultimately comforting time consuming act there is.

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Mackerel, shrimp and saffron risotto

Ingredients(serves 4):
• 300gr risotto rice
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 1 round green courgette, finely chopped
• 1 round yellow courgette, finely chopped
• 1 orange pepper, finely chopped
• 4 mackerel fillets
• 20 shrimps
• ½ tsp saffron powder
• ½ tsp paprika
• ¼ tsp smoked paprika
• 1 glass of white wine (drink the remaining wine while stirring)
• Vegetable stock
• Fresh mint
• Juice of a lemon

Method:
1. Heat the stock together with the saffron. In a separate pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil add the onions, courgette and pepper, and fry for 5 minutes without colouring. Keep Stirrin’. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice, paprika and smoked paprika and turn up the heat.
2. The rice will now begin to lightly fry. Keep stirrin’. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the white wine. Keep stirring — it will smell fantastic. (Meanwhile, practice your dance moves by mimicking the movement of your wooden spoon with your hips. )
3. Once the wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer. Keep stirrin’. Continue adding ladlefuls of stock, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. Keep stirrin’. Think of it as giving the rice a well-deserved massage. This will take around 15 minutes.
4. In a separate pan, fry the mackerel fillets skin side down so the skin gets really crispy. Sprinkle on plenty of paprika. Remove from the pan and fry the shrimps in the same pan. Add same extra paprika and chili pepper.
5. Stir the cooked shrimps through the risotto. Take the skins of the mackerel fillets. Flake the fillets into the risotto and cut the skins into thin fish crisps. Stir through the risotto. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Finally, sprinkle on plenty of fresh mint and some lemon juice.

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 !