TURKEY

Quince Poached in Sugar Syrup: Ayva Tatlısı

Yield: 4 servings

Prep time: 10 min Cooking time: 2 h Total time: 2 h 10 min

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Ingredients

  • 2 medium size quinces
  • 3 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoon stevia
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 8 dried whole cloves
  • ground nuts of choice, for serving

Preparation

Wash, peel (keep the peels) and halve the quinces lengthwise. Place on a cutting board with the cut facing up and holding each firmly carve out the core with the seeds. Don’t discard the seeds yet.

Place the quinces in a large pan and add water, lemon juice, honey, stevia and spices. Make sure the liquid covers the quinces. Put two cloves in each quince’s hollow. Add the seeds and skin peelings to the water.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a minimum and let the quinces gently simmer for two hours. Flip the quinces to the other side after one hour of cooking. After another hour turn off the heat and let the quinces cool. Serve them with some syrup, honey, ice cream or chopped nuts of your choice.

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SPAIN

Rice Pudding: Arroz con Leche

Yield: 2 – 4 servings

Prep time: 10 min Cook time: 60 min Total time: 1 h 10 min

ArrozConLeche3

I’m pretty sure this is a well-known dessert around the world and almost every culture has its own variation of it It was also one of my favorite foods when I was growing up.

But I can’t remember when was the last time I ate it, since I haven’t been eating anything white (flour, rice, sugar…) for a few years now. I do eat brown rice on a regular basis, but somehow the idea of making a rice pudding with brown rice has always seemed a bit off to me.

Luckily, I finally gathered the courage to make it and the only thing I regret is the time lost not eating this delicious dessert. It turned out great. I made only a few slight alternations of the original recipe: I used brown rice, brown sugar and I left out the butter. And, due to brown rice, the cooking time is slightly longer than when making regular rice pudding. This really is a super-fast, easy, delicious and nutritious dessert.

Ingredients

  • 600 ml (2 1/2 cups) skim (or whole) milk
  • 280 g (1 1/2 cups) brown (or white) rice
  • 45g (3 tbsp) muscovado (or white) sugar
  • 12g (1 tbsp) stevia (or 1 additional teaspoon of white sugar)
  • peel of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preparation

Pour about 70 ml (3 cups) of water in a large pot and bring to a boil and add the rice. Reduce heat a bit and simmer for about 40 minutes. Remove from the stove and allow rice to sit in the pot of water.

Pour the milk into another large pot and add brown sugar and stevia. At medium heat stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and bring everything to a boil. While you are waiting for the milk to boil, drain the water from the rice.

Once the milk boils, add the drained rice, cinnamon stick and lemon peel. Cook everything at medium heat for another 15-20 minutes, until the rice is really soft. Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon peel. Remove the pot from the stove and pour your rice pudding into a serving dish. Sprinkle the top with ground cinnamon. Allow it to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

It is also delicious when cold, in which case you can refrigerate it for a few hours before serving it.

*Note: If you don’t have a cinnamon stick, you can simply add more cinnamon into the mixture already while cooking.

ArrozConLeche2

HALLOWEEN

Happy Halloween!

When it comes to baking, I really enjoy foods with a story or a long tradition behind them. So when I needed to decide between making these rustic, rather plain looking cookies and a super sweet Halloween candy bar, I naturally picked the cookies.

The history of giving out Soul Cakes for All Hallows’ Eve goes all the way back to the Middle Ages, when “souling” was as popular among children in Great Britain and Ireland, as trick-or-treating is in today’s America.

Soul Cakes were usually filled with different spices, such as allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, or ginger, and raisins or currants. Below is my recipe, as usually with a few twists.

Soul Cakes

Yield: 18 to 20 cookies

Prep time: 20 min Baking time: 15 – 20 min Total time: 40 min

Soul pies 3

Ingredients

  • 250 g (2 cups) whole grain or white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground fresh if possible
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground fresh if possible
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of ginger
  • 75 g (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) muscovado or white sugar
  • 2 teaspoon stevia
  • 2 eggs
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) milk
  • handful of raisins (for decoration)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).

Combine flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and ginger in a small bowl. Mix well.

Cream the softened butter, sugar and stevia together in a medium bowl. Gradually add the eggs and continue beating.

Add the spiced flour and combine as thoroughly as possible; the mixture will be dry and crumbly.

One tablespoon at a time, start adding milk, blending vigorously with the spoon. When you have a soft dough, stop adding milk.

Knead the dough thoroughly and roll out 0.5 cm (1/4-inch) thick. Cut into 5 cm (2-inch) cookies and place them on the prepared baking sheets.

Decorate with raisins and brush liberally with beaten egg yolk or milk. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until just golden.

Soul Pies 2

DENMARK

Red Berry Pudding: Rødgrød med Fløde

Yield: 2 servings

Prep time: 30 min Cooling time: 120 min Total time: 150 min

BerryPudding2

Ingredients

  • 500g red berries or fruit, fresh or frozen (red currants, black currants, raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, or a combination)

*Note: I used strawberries, so nutritional info is based on strawberries.

  • 480 ml (2 cups) water
  • 20 g (about 2 tbsp) stevia or 10 g white sugar

*Note: You can also use sugar or any other sweetener you prefer. The amount also depends a bit on the kind of berries you are using and your personal preferences. I used strawberries, which are sweet enough as it is, so I didn’t need a lot of additional sweetening.

  • 20 g (2 tbsp) cornstarch, dissolved in 60 ml (¼ cup) water

Preparation

Simmer the berries of your choice, sugar, stevia or whatever sweetener you prefer, and 2 cups water over medium heat. Cook until the berries begin to break down. Strain the syrup through cheesecloth or a fine-meshed sieve; discard the berries or save them for another use.

Return the syrup to the pan and bring to a boil. Whisk in the dissolved cornstarch liquid; cook, whisking constantly, until a thick pudding forms, 8–10 minutes. Transfer the pudding to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the pudding; chill for at least 1-2 hour. Divide into serving dishes.

DSC_0252

Adapted from Saveur.

IRELAND

Soda Bread

Yield: 1 big or 2 small loaves

Prep time: 15 min Baking time: 30 – 45 min Total time: 45 – 60 min

Irish Bread1

Ingredients

  • 310g (2 ½ cups) whole grain (or white) flour
  • 7g (1 tbsp) baking powder
  • 15 g (1 ½ tsp) baking soda
  • 3 g (½ tsp) salt
  • 40g (3 tbsp) muscovado (or white) sugar
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 165 g (1 cup) raisins
  • 40 g (1/3 cup) dried cranberries
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) skim (or whole) milk

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the peanut butter and egg and mix until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in the raisins and cranberries, then make a well in the center and pour in the milk. Stir with a spoon until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and, using floured hands, knead gently 8 to 10 times. If you want to make two small loaves, divide the dough into two balls and place onto the prepared baking sheets. If you’re making one big loaf (like I did), the baking time is slightly longer – about 45 minutes.

Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes; then reduce heat to 375°F (190°C) and bake until the top of the bread is golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Transfer the bread to a wire rack and cool completely before slicing.

Irish Bread 3

SWEDEN

Cinnamon Rolls: Kanelbullar

CinnamonRolls3

Ingredients

Dough

  • 245 ml (1 cup) skim (or whole) milk
  • 25 g fresh yeast (or 1 envelope dry active yeast)
  • 65 g (1/3 cup) muscovado (or white) sugar
  • 420 g (3 ½ cup) whole grain or white flour
  • 1 tsp whole cardamom seeds
  • ¼  tsp salt
  • 75 g (1/3 cup) low-fat yogurt or applesauce

Cinnamon filling

  • 75 g (1/3 cup) low-fat yogurt
  • 30 g (2 tbsp) muscovado (or white) sugar
  • 1 ½  tsp cinnamon

Topping (optional)

  • one small egg (whipped together)
  • pearl sugar or sliced almonds

Preparation

 Dough

Crumble the yeast (if using dry yeast prepare it as required) in a big bowl. Heat milk until it is warm to the touch. Add the milk to the yeast and stir until yeast has dissolved.

Crush the cardamoms in a mortar and pestle.

Mix together flour, sugar, cardamom and salt before adding it to the milk and yeast mixture. Add in the yogurt or applesauce. Blend well, either by hand or by using a food processor. Knead it well for about 5-10 minutes.

Cover the dough and place in a draft free place and let it rise for at least 40 minutes.

Filling

Mix all ingredients for the filling to an even batter.

Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each of them out separately to the shape of a rectangle.

Spread half of the filling onto each piece of rolled out dough so that it covers the entire area. Roll the dough up beginning with the long side. Slice each roll into about 13 equal sized slices and place them with their cut side up on baking sheet.

Let them rise for about 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg and brush all buns and sprinkle pearl sugar or sliced almonds on top.

Bake them in the oven at 225ºC (about 440ºF) for 8-10 minutes.

CinnamonRolls2

The recipe is adapted from: http://kokblog.johannak.com/3685/.

GREAT BRITAIN

Merry Christmas everyone!

Today I’m going to share the last of my national Christmas desserts with you. This one’s very special, as I’ve started working on it about a month ago and haven’t quite finished it until yesterday evening, when I finally flipped it out and had my first taste. It was quite specific, but delicious all the same. So here it is, my very first Christmas Pudding.

Christmas Pudding

My main concern with this pudding was how to store it. I read about it a lot and it seems that most people nowadays still just store it in a cold place for about a month (or even more) and feed it with rum or any other liquor every once in a while. To be completely honest, I never gathered the courage to do something like that. There are eggs in it for crying out loud. And I certainly don’t want to poison my family for Christmas. So, after thinking long and hard, I decided to simply put the thing in the freezer for four weeks. I took in out the day before our Christmas dinner and then steamed it right before the dinner for about an hour.

Christmas PuddingI have to say it has surpassed my expectations. However, this is the only Christmas Pudding I have ever tasted in my life, so it is possible I’m not being quite objective enough.

This is the recipe that I used and I have to admit I haven’t really experimented with this one a lot. I got the impression that this was quite a specific dessert, so I just followed the instructions as thoroughly as I had the chance.

Even without the four week period of waiting, the preparation of this dessert spreads over more than just one day. It goes sort of like this:

  • Day 1: Soak the dry fruits in stout (rum, brandy, anything you have at hand)
  • Day 2: Mix all the ingredients together
  • Day 3: Steam the pudding for 5-6 hours

Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding

Ingredients

  • 350g/12oz mixed dried fruit (raisins, currants, sultanas)
  • 100g/3½oz pitted ready-to-eat prunes, chopped or left whole
  • 100g/3½oz dark muscovado sugar
  • 4 tbsp dark rum
  • 100ml/3½fl oz stout
  • 100g/3½oz chopped walnuts
  • 100g/3½oz blanched almonds
  • 100g/3½oz ground almonds
  • 100g/3½oz fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 50g/1¾oz plain flour
  • 100g/3½oz frozen butter, grated, plus a little extra for greasing
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 100g/3½oz chopped glacé cherries (or left whole if you prefer)
  • 3 large free-range eggs, beaten

Preparation

Combine the mixed fruit, prunes, muscovado sugar, rum and stout in a mixing bowl. Stir well to mix, cover and leave for 24 hours to soak.

After 24 hours, mix the walnuts, almonds, ground almonds, breadcrumbs, flour, butter, spices, cherries and eggs along with the soaked fruit mixture in a large mixing bowl, making sure you include all the soaking liquor from the soaked fruit. Mix well until completely combined (let all the members of the family have a stir and make a wish). Cover with cling film and leave to stand in a cool place for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, grease a 1.2 litre/2 pint pudding basin with butter. Cut a circle of baking paper and place into the bottom of the pudding basin and then grease it with a little more butter. Pack the pudding mixture into the pudding basin, pressing as you add it. Fold a pleat into the middle of a large piece of baking paper and place over the pudding. Cover with a large piece of pleated foil, ensuring the pleats are on top of one another. Secure tightly with kitchen string tied under the lip of the pudding basin.

Place an upturned saucer into a large saucepan one-quarter full of water. Fold a long piece of foil into quarters lengthways to create a long strip and place the pudding basin in the middle of the strip. Bring the sides of the strip up the sides of the pudding basin and lower into the saucepan. Ensure the water in the saucepan comes one-third of the way up the side of the pudding basin, but nowhere near the top of the basin. Leave the ends of the foil strip hanging over the side to make it easy to remove the pudding later.

Bring the water to the boil and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer gently for 5-6 hours, topping up the water level as necessary throughout cooking (do not allow the pan to dry out).

Once the pudding is cooked, remove from the pan and set aside to cool. The pudding can be stored for up to two years in a cool, dry place. To serve, reheat the pudding by steaming again (in the same way) for two hours, or until hot all the way through. Alternatively, remove the foil and reheat in the microwave.

Source: BBC Food Recipes

GERMANY

As promised, today is the second day of Desserts Eaten for Christmas Around the World. Another dessert I prepared for our Christmas dinner comes from Germany – Stollen. It’s basically a fruit cake, with dried fruit, nuts and often marzipan. My version doesn’t have marzipan, as none of my family members, except for me, like it.

Stollen1

I completely altered a recipe I found and added ingredients I like – a lot of raisins, walnuts and almonds. This is a dessert you can play around with a lot. It all depends on what you like and how creative you are.

I found the original recipe here. But what you see below is “my recipe”; that is the version that I made up, by adding in stuff I love and leaving out what I don’t.

Stollen

Stollen2

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons dried active baking yeast
  • 175ml warm milk (45°C)
  • 1 large egg
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 350g bread flour
  • 100g raisins
  • 175g diced candied pineapple and papaya
  • 50g chopped almonds
  • 50g chopped walnuts
  • 1 heaped teaspoon icing sugar for dusting

Preparation

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with the egg, caster sugar, salt, butter, and 3/4 of the bread flour; beat well. Add the remaining flour, a little at a time, stirring well after each addition.

When the dough has begun to pull together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead in the dry fruit and nuts. Continue kneading until smooth, about 8 minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Lightly grease a baking tray. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the marzipan into a rope and place it in the center of the dough. Fold the dough over to cover it; pinch the seams together to seal. If you’re doing what I did, leave the marzipan out and just form a loaf.

Place the loaf, seam side down, on the prepared baking tray. Cover with a clean, damp tea-towel and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C / Gas mark 4.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 150°C / Gas mark 2 and bake for a further 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow loaf to cool on a wire cooling rack. Dust the cooled loaf with icing sugar.  Stollen3

SLOVENIA

Tomorrow’s Christmas Eve and I’ve been baking like crazy for the past week. Some of the things I made are even national and I will tell you all about it in the next couple of days. If fact, for the next three days I’m calling this blog Desserts Eaten for Christmas Around the World.

I would like to begin this story of my Christmas baking with a dessert from my own country, which I naturally had to bake for the holidays. There are quite a few desserts from Slovenia that I enjoy baking and eating, but I think nothing can beat a homemade Walnut Roll (Potica) for Christmas.

Let me tell you my secret. Despite the fact that I’ve been baking since I was like 12 and there is practically no dessert that I wouldn’t be willing to make, I didn’t bake my own Walnut Roll until earlier this year. The reason is that, although I like it very much, I never ate it often or in large amounts. To me, it’s just a dessert I eat about twice a year (for Christmas and Easter) and even then eat very little of it.

So when I made it for the first time, I was surprised at how well it turned out. It was almost perfect and for the first time in my life I ate a lot of it and it wasn’t even a holiday. This time, when I was making it for our Christmas dinner (for about 12 people), it sadly didn’t turn out so well. How do I put this…there’s just too much filling. Right?

Potica3

Now here’s the recipe. It’s really old and, as I’ve been told, this is the way our grandmothers and great-grandmothers used to make it. No, seriously, the recipe is from a book which is over 100 years old. It actually lacks a lot of instructions on how to make it, since this was apparently common knowledge to housewives at the time. This is also why I made some alternations when it comes to directions, to make it more clear, and substituted fresh yeast for dry.

Potica (Walnut Roll)

Potica1

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 1 package of dry yeast
  • 500g flour
  • 250ml warm milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp soft butter
  • ½ tsp salt

Filling:

  • 375 ml whole milk or cream (depends on whether you prefer a fuller taste or fewer calories)
  • 750g ground walnuts
  • 200g sugar (again, you can cut back, depending on your taste)
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • rum
  • raisins (optional)

Preparation

Mix together flour and yeast. In a different bowl, beat the egg yolk with milk and sugar. Combine the two mixtures, add the butter and salt and start kneading. It is very important that you truly blend all of the ingredients together well, so knead really thoroughly, for about 10-15 minutes. Let it rise until it doubles in size (about 1 hour).

In the meantime, prepare the filling. Boil the milk and pour it over the walnuts. Beat the egg white until stiff and add it to the walnut mixture, along with sugar and rum (if you choose so). The filling should be pretty thick; the kind a spoon stands upwards in. Let it sit for a while and you will see it thickens in time. If you still think it’s too runny, you can add some bread crumbs.

Cut the dough into two pieces and roll each of them about 1 cm thick. Spread the filling over both of them, sprinkle with raisins and roll two walnut rolls. Alternatively, you can also make just one really long one, but I prefer to make two, since they are easier to handle. Move them to a greased pan or use baking paper (I prefer this option) and bake until it is done. At least that’s what my recipe says. I can say that I baked at about 175°C for about 45-50 minutes. But I guess this depends on the kind of oven you use, so be sure you’re nearby when baking and keep checking on it.

Potica2

AUSTRIA

LinzerAugen1

To be completely honest, I did not bake these cookies because they are a national dessert of Austria, but because they are a part of traditional holiday baking where I live as well. I even used my own (my mom’s, actually) recipe, without ever considering it might be anything more than just a recipe for the simplest kind of cookies I know. But then, while I was baking, I started wondering why exactly they’re called Linzer cookies. Well, I knew Linz is a city in Austria, well-known for its Linzertorte, but I really never thought of the fact that my cookies were just a smaller version of a Lizertorte and that they have every bit of the national dessert status as the cake does.

LinzerAugen3But that’s not all. Linzertorte is the dessert my mom made the most often when I was growing up. I knew immediately that I couldn’t go past Austria without making a Linzertorte with my mom, so I grabbed the opportunity the next time I was visiting and made the cake that my mom didn’t even know was from Austria (we don’t really call in Lizertorte around here).  And what’s even more interesting, Linzertorte is thought to be the oldest-known cake in the world, dating as far back as 1653. Even I didn’t know that.

So I made two things from Austria, but none is what I originally had planned – I wanted to make Sachertorte. But I’m pretty sure that I’m not finished with Austria just yet.

Linzeraugen (Linzer Eyes)

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 250g flour
  • 150g butter
  • 100g sugar
  • vanilla to taste
  • 1 egg
  • 100g ground almonds
  • cinnamon to taste
  • ½ grated lemon peel

Filling:

  • jam (current, raspberry, strawberry)
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Preparation

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, until a firm ball of dough forms. Set it aside for 20-30 minutes to a cool place. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

Roll the dough about 3mm thick and cut out different shapes, then cut out the centers of half the disks with a cutter in the shape of your choice. Re-roll scraps and repeat. Bake for about 10 minutes or until edges turn golden then cool on a wire rack.

Heat the jam (you can even add some rum) and spread the solid disks with a layer of the hot jam. Dust the lids with powdered sugar and then glue the two pieces together. I do it in this order because this way the center remains clean and stands out even more.

LinzerAugen2I use exactly the same recipe also for the cake, I just double the ingredients.  The cake takes much less time to make, since you only roll out ½ of the dough, place it in a pan, spread the jam over it and cover the whole thing with another layer of dough. You get the classic look by rolling the remaining dough  into a long rope and then take the pieces of rope and place them around the outer edge of the cake where the ends of the strips meets the bottom crust, and create a kind of a web.

Linzertorte