tableofcolors

Simple pleasures

Tag: chocolate

The Smell of Flowers in my Kitchen

by tableofcolors

Gone are the dark November days and the bitter cold of winter, summer has arrived. Everywhere I go there is the perfume of wild flowers that line the roads. The purple or pink Lupine are now in full bloom making the roadside ditches vibrant with color. This is the time to pick a bouquet of flowers; everyday if you wish.

gathering lupine

Soon we will celebrate birthdays as my oldest and my youngest are born when the Lupine blooms. And so in my kitchen is a bouquet of flowers and their smiling faces.

Silvia and Hugowildflowers 2On Mother’s Day I received a foodie gift from my husband. It was a little package that included all of the ingredients to make a batch of raw chocolate. Now that school is out and bedtimes are a bit more vague and mornings are a little more relaxed, I decided to try out my kit. making raw chocolateThe kit included goji berries, a little bottle of agave syrup, some cold-pressed coconut oil, and a package that included cold-pressed cocoa butter, lucuma powder, raw cocoa powder, maca powder, and Kalahari salt from South Africa. The Lucuma powder is a new ingredient for me and after doing a little research I found out it contains beta-carotene, iron, zinc, vitamin B3, calcium and protein. The Lucuma powder is also used as a natural sweetener as its flavor is similar to Maple. Maca powder is made from the Maca root and is also considered a super food and contains a complex of vitamin B, Calcium, Magnesium and vitamin C.

tasting raw chocolateWhenever I make something, especially if it involves chocolate, there is a line of eager taste-testers. Sometimes I try to show the “shhh” sign to the first one to realize the opportunity so that it does not become a mass occasion. Usually the effort is futile and so we take out the spoons and give everyone one scrape from the bowl to be fair. But today the line did not form as most of the kids were outside playing and Isabella was able to have the bowl to herself.

lazy summer daysBasically the process was simple. Without opening the jar of coconut oil, melt the oil in a hot water bath. Pour the melted coconut oil into a metal bowl and mix in the agave syrup. Next mix in the package with the cocoa powder and butter. Mix with a whisk over the hot water bath until melted and smooth. Add in the goji berries if desired. Pour into small forms and place into the refrigerator to set until firm. They have a slightly grainy texture that is typical to raw chocolate. Delicious with an afternoon cup of coffee.

raw chocolate with goji berryIn my kitchen and in my heart are memories from my recent trip. I brought back some of my Dad’s dried sour dough starter and have been making his bread. It tastes just like home.

bread collage2USA 2014 collageThis post is part of Celia’s In My Kitchen series for June. Check out her blog for a collection of posts from kitchens around the world.

Chocolate Crescents

by tableofcolors

2014-01-19 15.24.43chocolate crescents

At first there was not a soul in sight. Just as I was leaving our bay, I saw one elderly gentleman skiing, traditional style. As I skiied into the bigger, open lake area there were three skaters in the horizon and a little later I spotted someone on a kicksled. I felt like I was almost all alone in the peaceful calm of the outdoors. The sun was starting to dip and soon the “blue moment” would arrive. We took turns skating and skiing on the lake since some of the kids had been a little sick. That way everyone well enough made it outside. There was only about 2-3 centimeters of snow on the lake. It was enough snow to allow the skiiers to ski and little enough that the skaters could skate.

instructions

What would pair excellently with the crisp cold air and bright sunshine? The decision was unanimous when I asked the children: hot chocolate and chocolate crescents. Silvia had been waiting to try out her new cook book that she got for Christmas. It is a children’s baking book by Ulla Svensk and I mentioned it in a post a couple of weeks back. So this time she was to be our master baker and I was to be the sous chef. A pleasant situation indeed. In a couple of years she may take on the role of master chef more often.

chocolate crescents collage

Chocolate Crescents (recipe by Ulla Svensk)

150 g/5.3 oz butter, softened
4 dl/1.7 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 dl/1/4 c sugar
100 g/3.5 oz quark or drained, thick yoghurt

1 egg, 2 tbsp water and a pinch of salt for the egg wash

dark chocolate, roughly chopped for the crescents and some melted for garnish

Combine the butter and dry ingredients so that it forms a crumbly mixture. We used the stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the quark or yoghurt and mix only until combined.  Divide into two and form in a ball. We allowed our dough to rest in the fridge for a bit while chopping the chocolate. Roll each ball of dough in to a circle and using a pastry or pizza cutter, cut into eighths. Place some chopped chocolate at the wider end of the triangle and roll from the wider end to the narrower tip. Place onto a lined baking sheet and brush with the egg wash. Bake at 200 C/390 F for about 10-15 minutes. We used the convection oven and our bake time was reduced to about 8-9 minutes with the temperature being at 180 C/360 F.

Allow to cool and garnish with melted chocolate.

Winter Collage

It was a party

by tableofcolors

We had a houseful. Twenty little ones, eight big ones, fireworks, one birthday party and the New Year at midnight. If new year’s eve foretold the future, 2014 might be a year on the fast track. It looked like everyone had  a good time. The kids all found friends and at times, nearly everyone went outside and so for a moment there was a calm inside the house. Outside there was a cacophony of bursts, explosions, snaps and pops as the fireworks went off all around us in the neighborhood. Happy New Year to you all!

fireworks

blowing candlesBefore the guests arrived we had a baking project with two of our girls. One had received a cake pops set and the other a tiered mini cake mold for Christmas. With only a little help, they baked for the party. I suppose that for now they will still need help, but it won’t be long and they will be working independently in the kitchen. So quickly they grow up. Whenever there is a birthday, I always think back to the day the child was born and their personality that has unfolded so far. Each one has their own unique character. Our birthday boy is so passionate about the things that are important to him. I’m not sure if he gets that from his Dad or Mom or maybe both. And he is a visualist. We once walked into a sea museum. You could describe the building as contemporary, with lots of light colored wood and curved shapes. He walked in and his eyes became large as plates as he looked around and climbed the stairs that are in the entryway and exclaimed, “This is an art building!” He was four at the time.

grasshopper pie

Grasshopper Pie for a Celebration

This Grasshopper pie is very loosely based on the recipe by Nigella Lawson. I usually do not use food coloring when cooking and baking as I like to go the more natural way, but I do make an exception when there are birthday parties and especially ones for children. I figure that it can’t hurt to have one day a year, in addition to Christmas, that is a “dream-come-true” type of day.

26 cookies (Oreo, Domino etc.)
60 g/2 oz good quality dark chocolate (70%), roughly chopped
85 g/3 tbsp butter, melted

150 g/5 oz mini marshmallows or large ones cut up into small pieces
1 dl/1/2 c milk
1/2 tsp peppermint flavoring
2 candy canes, crushed
a few drops of green food coloring
3.3 dl/1.4 heavy whipping cream

domino cookies

For the cookie crumb crust, line the bottom of a 20 cm/8 inch springform pan with parchment paper. Remove the white filling from the cookies and discard. Crush the cookies and melt the butter. I use a onion chopper (that is not used for onions) as my cookie crusher. It is a neat and effecient way to crush cookies for cookie crumb crusts. In a bowl mix the crushed cookies, melted butter and chopped dark chocolate. Pour into the lined springform pan and press evenly to form the crust. Place in the refrigerator to chill.

marshmallows

For the filling, place the milk and marshmallows (cut into four, if using large ones) into a medium saucepan. Heat until the milk is foaming but not boiling and remove from the heat. Stir constantly so that the marshmallows melt and forms a smooth mixture. Allow to cool. After the marshmallow mixture is cooled, whip the cream and fold into the marshmallow mixture. Fold in the peppermint flavoring, green food coloring and crushed candy cane. Pour into the springform pan and allow to set in the refrigerator for at least four hours or until overnight. Using a vegetable peeler, make dark chocolate curls to garnish.

If marshmallows are not on hand, this pie could be made using gelatin leaves and sugar to taste instead of marshmallows and milk. The marshmallows contain gelatin and glucose syrup, giving it a soft texture. This is definitely not a health food, but sometimes a little treat perhaps helps our mental health.

grasshopper pie 2