April 4, 2012
Trying to enjoy the wonders of Spring, we decided to grow our own Easter grass this year. There´s no sign of green outside yet (we just had snow this week!) so I thought girls would be delighted to get their own piece of green for Easter.
We usually travel to my in-laws on Easter holidays, main reason I didn’t encourage my daughters to have their own baskets at home before (they often get pretty ones from their grandmother!).
You see… it was really exciting for them to watch the grass grow from seeds to “bush”. Too bad our lack of experience resulted in irregular surfaces :P. Next time I figured we need to use more seeds (even if the package says the opposite!).
Anyways, girls acquired a new skill and had fun at same time :D.
A beautiful package right? This was made by Luonnonvoima in her pre-school. It has barley grass in. Yep, I admit, it is prettier than ours >_<!
Girls trying different styling: LV has the orange basket and little PS the purple :) *the chick is flying mommy!*
We are off for the holidays and as you might have guessed already, we are spending the long weekend with my girls´ grandparents.
Wish you all a very Happy Easter! Hyvää Pääsiäistä! Feliz Páscoa!
July 25, 2011
Whoa! Summer is almost ending! After two months-silence I think I should update you guys…
We sold our old apartment!! (yay, fantastic!)
And at the moment we are (still) in this quest to find a new home for us… we must leave this place before July ends… or in other words this week . *sigh*
(Wish us luck? Yes?) ♡
It has been very hot around here lately… and I am living in this sea of moving boxes. Sorting things, packing and getting crazy O_O.
Ah well… nothing beats the heat and the heavy moods like a good and delicious cone/bowl/*whole batch* of ice cream right? :) Specially when the ice cream is self made and easy to prepare…
I made two types of ice cream for our monthly Twitter Food Party in July. The “party” happens every month on its last Monday and is organized by a group of friends on twitter. Everyone can participate! If you have a twitter account, just post a picture of the month theme dish using the hash tags #twitterfoodparty and #twittericecreamparty. Very simple and without any stress ^__^.
As we are having this dysfunctional life, I can’t spend as much time in the kitchen as I wished (and love) to. To prepare the ice creams I used two recipes from the ice cream bible “The Perfect Scoop” by David Lebovitz (If you don’t have it yet and you are super interested about making your own frozen delights, this cookbook is the best!). Two Philadelphia-Style ice creams = no eggs, no custard, less work (score!)
Vanilla Ice cream, Philadelphia-Style
makes about 1L
- 2 cups heavy cream (750ml)
- ¾ cup sugar (150g)
- pinch of salt
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- ¾ tsp. vanilla extract (I used NoMU vanilla paste)
Pour 250ml of the cream into a medium saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan and add the pod to the pot. Warm over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove from heat and add the remaining cream and the vanilla extract.
Chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (I left it overnight)
When ready to churn, remove the vanilla pod (reserve the bean for another use), then freeze the mixture in your ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Chocolate Ice cream, Philadelphia Style
makes about 1 L
- 2 ¼ cups heavy cream (560ml)
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (50g, I used Valrhona cocoa powder)
- 1 cup sugar (200g)
- Pinch of salt
- 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped (170g)
- 1 cup whole milk (250ml)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used NoMU vanilla paste)
Whisk together the cream, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it comes to a full, rolling boil (it will start to foam up). Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until it’s completely melted, then whisk in the milk and vanilla. Pour the mixture into a blender and blend for 30 seconds, until very smooth.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then churn it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
I let my 4yo daughter decorate her portion with some sprinkles. Isn’t this cute? She put chocolate crispies on the top of the chocolate ice cream and hundreds and thousands sprinkles over the vanilla one ^_^.
From both ice creams, they loved the chocolate one the most. Wah, they really enjoy dark chocolate, just like their mama!
Happy Summer everyone! Wish you all a great time and lots of ice cream :). Hope to start blogging again when we settle down ;), see you then!
March 22, 2011
… keeping in mind everyone (including myself) needs something to make us smile and uplifted.
Last year I was complaining (as usually) on twitter about how difficult is to find cute patterned cellophane bags here in Finland. Well, correct me if I am wrong (any Finnish friends reading there?), but it is difficult to find normal cellophane bags too, so think about the patterned ones…
A very kind friend of mine offered me to send me some ^_^! I got her adorable package in the beginning of the year and she not only sent me cello bags, she also included her oh-so-famous honey chocolate bread among other things. They are a-ma-zing!
(Hey… and I must say, she is so amazing she is responsible for the cute sweets of the First Hello Kitty Cafe in the Americas. How cool is that? Aaw)
I decided to send a little something back, to thank for her kindness of sending me all these wonderful stuff.
As I can´t beat her on chocolate making I crafted mini sweet felt food to her :). I assembled two little mobile charms (using beads etc) with the mini food. All are handmade by me with my own patterns :).
(Snack time! ^_^ )
Si! Obrigada pela sua gentileza! Um beijo grande da Mame ^__^!
The Bento4Japan eBay auctions and the European Raffle are still on. Check it out when you have an opportunity! Remembering that all the proceeds go to Japan Disaster Relief. We appreciate your support.
February 14, 2011
Hyvää Ystävänpäivää! (Happy Friend´s Day!)
As I mentioned before, in Finland we celebrate the “Friend´s Day” on February 14th. It is the day we celebrate the friendship and all the great friends we are lucky to know and have ^_^. ( Including lovers, husbands, boyfriends too… :D)
In this romantic, sweet and sugary spirit, I made doughnuts! Ahahaha, isn´t it just lovely :P ? Chocolate heart shaped and baked ones! Yay! Can´t get better than this :P.
Oh… I must warn those who are expecting a real doughnut feeling… Sorry guys, these are more like doughnut cakes than the yeast fried ones… but still good ;)!
Chocolate baked doughnuts
slightly adapted from here
Yields 12 normal sized doughnuts
- 130 gr all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp dark cocoa powder (I used Dutch-processed)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 75 gr sugar (I used my own vanilla scented one. You can add 1tsp of vanilla extract to the batter instead)
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (I used 1/4 tsp only)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup natural yogurt
- 1 large egg
Heat oven to 175°C. Lightly grease your doughnut pans. If you don´t have a doughnut pan, use a muffin tin or better, a mini-muffin one (they are just cuter ^_^)
In a large bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk in the sugar, nutmeg and salt.
Add the butter by rubbing it into the dry ingredients with your fingers, until it becomes coarse crumbs.
In another bowl or jug, whisk the buttermilk, yogurt and egg. Pour over the flour mixture and mix gently until just combined. The mixture must remain “lumpy” for a fluffy result.
Fill the holes in the pan to 3/4 full using a piping bag for easier and even distribution. Overfilling the pan would result the loss of the “doughnuts holes” as they rise in the oven.
Bake for about 10-12 min (takes less if it is a mini-pan). Test the doughnuts with a skewer or press the surface with your finger, if it springs back, they are ready.
Let cool totally on a wire rack. Decorate if desired (I used white chocolate and sprinkles) or dust with sugar.
P.S. Happy Valentine´s day too ^_^!
January 20, 2011
Ah… yesterday was seriously a nice day (the weather was terrible but that didn’t matter so much this time ^_^), I celebrated my birthday and it was great :).
Thanks everyone for the sweet b-day wishes, I appreciated a lot! Double ♥ back to you all!
Now… let´s talk about the cake… To be honest, I don’t always make my own birthday cake… The rule in this house is to bake a cake on Mother´s and Father´s day only. So, making my own cake was totally optional :D (was it Monday I was complaining to Luonnonvoima that I should have _purchased_ a ready one from the bakery? ehehe)
I decided to try a recipe from a book I got as present from dear hubs many years ago (on Mother´s day :P! Ehehehe. The book is entirely about cakes ^_^).
I made my own adaptations which made me think if it is worth writing everything down here. Let´s consider this cake as my food memo then! :)
Suklaamoussekakku – Chocolate mousse cake
For the cake layers I baked a 4 egg chocolate sponge cake, about ∅24 cm, cut in half and filled with cherry jam. I moistened each layer with syrup made with red berries juice and sugar.
For the mousse: egg yolks, double cream, sugar and dark chocolate. The recipe calls for 250g of dark chocolate so I used my recently purchased Valrhona baking 61% dark chocolate. The whole bar? Yep, the whole bar! After all, it was my birthday right? ^_^
I assembled the cake in a cake pan slightly bigger than the one I used to bake the layers, so the mousse would cover the sides of the cake neatly.
To decorate: cocoa dust, fresh strawberries, chocolate decorations and powdered sugar dust.
Uh Oh. Heavy thing. Delicious with coffee =). By the way, must mention the girls helped me to clean the bowls when assembling the “beast”. Dark chocolate is a hit here!
I wanted to add some liqueur to moist the cake and scent the mousse, but I was afraid my little ones wouldn’t enjoy it. Maybe I can make two cakes next time!?!
Needless to say, the fresh berries balanced well the flavors of the strong chocolate and cream. I didn’t have any available on Tuesday. We ran to the market on my birthday just to get some! :)
A piece of cake, anyone?
November 6, 2010
The other day I was reading one of my cooking magazines and there was a recipe of mini madeleines. Oh, those madeleines.. little cute baked cakes made with special pans.. I used to skip those recipes, simply because I didn’t have the shell shaped pan, knowing that it would be terribly difficult to find them here where I live.
Although I found normal sized madeleine pans I wanted mini. They are cuter, they fit better in my mouth (ahaha). I got obsessed about them.. I visited every single baking supply shop on my search for the mini pan. Took me days (and nights browsing the web too) until I finally found it. I felt very happy ^_^.
Instead of using the recipe I saw in that magazine I decided for another one this time. Chocolate madeleines, a perfect match for my coffee :P.
Mini chocolate madeleines
recipe from here , what I used and Finnish ingredients in parentheses
yield about 60 mini madeleines. I got 40 shell shaped and 16 heart shaped mini muffins.
- 15 g dark chocolate, melted (I used Lindt 70%, about 4 pieces from the bar)
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 70 g cake flour (I used erikoisvehnäjauho)
- 15 g cocoa (I used Van Houten)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 70 g unsalted butter, melted (plus a little more for brushing the pans)
- 80 g sugar
Heat oven to 170°C
Prepare the pan, brushing with a little melted butter.
Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and sugar into a bowl and whisk to combine.
In another bowl, slightly beat the eggs. Pour into the flour mixture and whisk gently. Add the melted chocolate and finally the melted butter.
Mix until just combine.
Pour the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle (you can use small spoons but I found it easier to pour the batter into the molds with the bag).
Fill the pan with batter and bake for 10-12 mins, until the madeleines are golden and baked all the way through (if in doubt, make the skewer test).
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 2 mins. Tip out of the pan and bake another batch, if you need to.
My notes about the recipe:
I was very happy with the result! I am thinking about adding espresso powder to make mocha madeleines or a tiny pieces of candied orange peel for a “quick” filling next time.
The girls liked them a lot even with the strong chocolate taste. They kept popping them in their little mouths ^_^. Very easy to eat… they disappeared fast :).
September 21, 2010
Continuing my baking saga, this time I had to figure out a way to use some bananas that were turning black. I don’t like fruits going to waste specially when they are very expensive where I live.
I’ve learned from vegan cooking ( no, no! I am not vegan! But I like to go vegetarian sometimes ^_^ ) you can substitute one egg in baking for a half mashed banana… not an option to me, since I had two super ripe ones :P.
The recipe I used calls for exactly two bananas. A match ;).
Chocolate & banana cake
Yield 2 loaf tins ( 450 g capacity ). I used an 1,0 l tin and the cake became a bit “flat” but still very good! :D
From Olive mag, June 2005. What I adapted in parentheses.
- 100 g plain chocolate ( plus extra crumbs or morsels )
- 150 g unsalted butter , softened
- 175 g golden caster sugar ( I used 100 g caster sugar and 50 g demerara sugar )
- 3 eggs , beaten
- 175 g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 25 g cocoa
- 2 large bananas, mashed
Heat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a loaf tin with parchment paper. Melt the chocolate and leave it to cool.
Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs gradually, beating nicely between each addition. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa and fold in using a spatula. Add the mashed banana and chocolate and mix well (at this point I added the extra chocolate crumbs. Chopped nuts work too)
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for about 45 minutes ( or check with a skewer, if it comes out clean when inserted in the middle, cake is done ). Let cool on a rack and wrap in parchment paper .
My notes about the recipe:
The cake was very tasty one day after baking it. Although a bit crumbly the flavors intensified. A good pairing for green tea =).
September 18, 2010
When it comes for asking help , good friends in the social media can be amazing. The other day I couldn’t decide if I should buy tartlet molds/pans with loose bottoms and I asked in twitter what friends would suggest. Lovely Patricia ( who also helped me with a question concerning the pie weights, thank you dear! Check out her blog , it is mouthwatering! ) and old friend VH-san came to my rescue =).
So now I present you the first baking in my brand new (or not so new anymore ^_^ ) loose bottoms tartlet pans!
I decided for something simple.. and cheering up as chocolate ( not to get depressed… XD) . The original idea was to use raspberries but Summer is gone from this cold land and the only local berry I found was strawberry.
Chocolate ganache tartelette with strawberries
Pastry or Pâte Sucrée adapted from this book
Ganache filling adapted from here
Yield 6 ∅10 cm tartelettes
- 110 g of cold unsalted butter chopped
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour, sifted
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar ( I used my own vanilla sugar )
- 1 egg, beaten
Sift the flour, sugar and salt through a sieve into a large bowl. Rub together the butter and the flour mixture with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Pour the beaten egg and work the dough till it starts holding together. Add cold water if necessary ( I didn’t need ). Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 min.
Preheat the oven to 180 °C.
Roll out the dough and line 6 ∅10 cm tartlet molds. You will need to bake the pastry without the filling ( “blind-baking” ). Prick the bottom of tartlets with a fork, line with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights ( I used dried green peas ). Take to oven and bake for about 10 minutes till the crust is set ( rim is golden). Remove the paper and weights and bake for further 5 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
1 basket fresh strawberries (250 g ) , rinsed, stem end cut flat
- 200 ml double cream ( kuohukerma )
- 180 g dark chocolate ( I used 100g Valrhona Manjari 64% and 80g of “normal” 70% dark chocolate)
- 20 g unsalted butter
Melt the chocolate, heat the cream in a small pan and pour over the chocolate. Stir the ingredients together using a spatula till they are evenly combined, beating to get a smooth and glossy mixture. Add the butter.
To assemble the tartlets:
Pour the chocolate ganache into the baked shells and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (or until almost firm) . Place the strawberries on top of each tart and serve. If you want to keep the ready tartelettes in the fridge for a while , I suggest to glaze the strawberries with melted jam to keep them fresh and moist.
My notes about the recipe:
The tartelettes became very good but I think they had too strong chocolate taste. I believe it would work better if making very tiny bite-size tartelettes. Anyways, I could definitely make these again , substituting half the amount of dark chocolate for milk chocolate to smooth the taste a bit :).
If using fresh raspberries instead of strawberries, try mixing a bit of raspberry jam in the ganache to give a flavor boost to the chocolate mix.