Category Archive: Simply Delicious

My 3 Favorite Dishes

I was super excited when Stevie from Weird Combinations (which I love for its eclectic topics ranging from restaurant reviews to wine tastings, and wonderfully exotic Brazilian recipes courtesy of Heguiberto) recently asked me to pick some of my posts and do a little game of reminiscing. While combing through my blog archive, I was reminded that one of my favorite things about cooking is to always try new recipes and dishes. I like being tempted and challenged by new ingredients and flavors, and would easily get bored if I had to cook the same few dishes over and over. So I thought it would be fun to change things up a bit outside of the kitchen as well, find out a little more about everyone’s favorite recipes, and give this game a new spin. I’d like to present to you

My 3 Favorite Dishes

Follow these simple steps:
- If you are a nominated blogger, pick your 3 Favorite Dishes from your blog
- Share them with us by linking to them on your blog
- Nominate as many bloggers as you want to do the same

Let’s see how many favorite dishes we can compile!

So without further ado, here are My 3 Favorite Dishes:

Risotto With Soybeans And Caramelized Lemon - because risotto is one of the most divine inventions.

Risotto With Soybean And Caramelized Lemon

 

Sri Lankan Pumpkin Curry, Coconut Sambol, and Dahl – because I love spicy food.

Sri Lankan Curry And Dahl

 

Truffle Torte - because this is classic Austrian pastry at its most indulgent. Hazelnuts and chocolate, and lots of it!

I am nominating the following blogger to share their 3 Favorite Dishes with us:

- Lazaro from Lazaro Cooks, whose blog is brimming with the most creative and fearless dishes, and incredibly cool presentation.

Happy sharing and cooking!

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Blackberry Almond Cake

Blackberry Almond Cake

Hi everyone, I’m back from my trip to Sicily! First off, thanks to everyone for leaving such kind wishes for a fun vacation – and fun it was indeed. I’m still daydreaming about the beautiful light, colors, smells, and of course flavors of the island, but before I share pictures and impressions from Sicily, I wanted to put up a quick post. I still have mountains of laundry and other enchanting tasks to take care off. Just so I don’t forget I’m back in reality!

My parents have two giant blackberry bushes in their yard, which produce the most magnificent fruit every year. They are best eaten right off the vine when they are still warm from the sun. The day we returned, my parents dropped off a container of freshly picked blackberries – the perfect excuse to bake a cake! I made a simple cake base with ground almonds and vanilla, and topped it off with fresh berries and chopped almonds. If you don’t have blackberries at hand, you can use apricots, blueberries (they go great together!), nectarines, or raspberries instead. The batter is enough for a 26cm round cake pan.

Blackberry Almond Cake
125g soft butter
100g sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
grated peel of 1/2 lemon
3 eggs
150 g flour
40g ground almonds
blackberries
40g whole blanched almonds, roughly chopped
pinch of salt

1. Cream butter, sugar, vanilla sugar, lemon peel and pinch of salt.
2. Separate eggs and mix yolks into batter one at a time. Mix until well incorporated.
3. Add flour and ground almonds.
4. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
5. Gently fold egg whites into batter.
6. Pour batter into pan and spread evenly.
7. Sprinkle blackberries on top of batter.
8. Sprinkle with chopped almonds.
9. Bake in preheated oven at 180C/350F for about 30 minutes or until golden.
10. Let cool on cake rack before unmolding.

Enjoy!

I’m looking forward to checking out what everyone has been cooking while I was gone! Stay tuned for a post on Sicily coming up next.

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Wachauer Marillenknödel

Marillenknödel

Austria is not only home to more cows than people (and that’s a good thing, because those cows are responsible for incredible dairy products), but also to a legendary variety of Knödel, which come in both savory and sweet form and are a beloved culinary treasure. The word Knödel alone refers to their ball shape, but gives no indication of taste, ingredients, or filling. Knödel are as much of an integral part of Austrian cuisine as rice is in Asian countries, with different parts of Austria producing their own local versions of these delights. Some are quite hearty, such as Tiroler Speckknödel, while others are fluffy pillows of dough filled with the summer’s ripest fruits.

Like in many Austrian families, the production of Knödel filled with fruit has a long tradition in my own family, including my great-grandmother (who was the queen of Knödel, Strudel, and other Austrian pastries), my grandmothers, and my mom. However, there are two different ways to prepare the dough – one is made with potatoes, the other with Topfen. Called Quark in Germany, Topfen is a creamy cheese not unlike ricotta, but drier and with a different taste. My mom usually makes her dough with potatoes, because that’s how my dad likes it, while I am partial to the dough made with Topfen. I find that the Topfen gives it a lighter texture that is a better match with the fruit. I also like to stuff my apricots with a sugar cube, which not only intensifies the aroma of the fruit, but results in a wonderful pool of apricot juice at the center of the Knödel.

The most popular fruit for Knödel are apricots (called Marillen in Austria) and plums (Zwetschken), with the most fragrant and sweetest apricots growing in the Wachau, a scenic stretch along the river Danube not far from Vienna (Richard the Lionheart spent a few months in captivity there at the end of the 12th century – it’s fair to assume though that he wasn’t served anything as fancy as Marillenknödel, and not just because his captivity fell during the cold winter months).

The following recipe can be easily replicated as long as you have access to Topfen (Quark). Unfortunately, there is no substitute for it. A word on the bread crumbs: these are traditionally made from Semmeln, a small white bread extremely popular in Austria, and are called Semmelbrösel (Brösel = crumbs). You can substitute with regular bread crumbs (make sure they are not salty though). Marillen- or Zwetschkenknödel are either eaten as a main course, or for dessert. They are usually preceded by a light soup if eaten as a main course.

Marillenknödel (makes about 7-8 Knödel)
For the dough:
250g Topfen (10% fat)
finely ground peel of 1/2 lemon
50g butter at room temperature
pinch of salt
1 egg
60g flour
60g wheat semolina

7 or 8 ripe apricots
sugar cubes

For the bread crumbs:
100g butter
120g Semmelbrösel (substitute with bread crumbs)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar

powdered sugar for dusting

1. In a bowl, mix 1/4 of the Topfen with butter, lemon peel, and a pinch of salt until creamy.
2. Add egg, remaining Topfen, flour, and semolina and mix well.
3. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
4. Cut a slit into each apricot wide enough to take the pit out. Be careful not to cut them in half!
5. Stuff each apricot with a sugar cube.
6. Using your hands, roll dough into a thick log on a floured surface.
7. Cut off equal slices and flatten with your hands.
8. Put an apricot in the center of each flatten piece of dough, and enclose fruit with dough.
9. Roll in the palm of your hand to achieve a uniform ball shape.
10. Bring water to a boil in a wide pot. Add 1 teaspoon salt.
11. Add Knödel and turn down heat so water barely simmers.
12. Simmer Knödel for about 7 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare bread crumbs:
1. Heat butter in pan until melted. Add both sugars and bread crumbs.
2. Add cinnamon and stir until bread crumbs turn golden.
3. When Knödel are done, lift out of water with a slotted spoon and let drain.
4. Transfer to pan with breadcrumbs and cover evenly.
5. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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Truffle Surprise

Vanilla Rice Pudding with Truffle Center and Strawberry Sauce

When I found out that two of my favorite food bloggers, Stevie and Heavenly Housewife were hosting a Truffle Mania event, I knew I couldn’t pass it up!

One of my all-time favorite treats are the Christmas truffles that magically appear every season in one Vienna’s most tempting pastry shops, Kurkonditorei Oberlaa. They are sublime creations made of a velvety milk chocolate ganache flavored with cinnamon and cardamom, which is enveloped in a soft milk chocolate shell and coated with crunchy sanding sugar. The contrast of textures and flavors is fabulous, and knowing that these are only available for a limited time each year turns them into truly irresistible objects of desire.

However,  perfection should not be messed with, which is why I immediately decided that trying to recreate them was out of the question. But I had recently come across an interesting recipe in La Cucina Italiana for vanilla scented rice puddings with a truffle center and strawberry sauce. I just had to wait for the perfect occasion to have an excuse to give this recipe a try! The original recipe was relatively rich though, so I made some (minor) alterations, and I must say the result was simply delicious.

Now before you put your apron on and start making truffles, go check out the fabulous truffles everyone else has been making. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Donuts To Delirium

Weird Combinations

The More Than Occasional Baker

Suvelle Couisine

Franish Nonspeaker

Taste of Beirut

Life’s Too Short To Skip Dessert

Truffle Surprise (serves 5)
600ml milk
200g arborio rice
80g sugar
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, cut in half
200ml heavy cream
100g best quality dark chocolate (70%)
2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Cointreau
butter for forms
200g strawberries
extra sugar

1. Break chocolate into pieces and put in a bowl.
2. Bring half the cream to a boil.
3. Add liqueur to cream and immediately pour over chocolate. Let stand for a few minutes and then carefully stir chocolate into cream.
4. Let cool to room temperature and then transfer to the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
5. When ganache has firmed up, make truffles (about 1 generous teaspoon per truffle). Keep truffles refrigerated.
6. In a small pot, bring milk, remaining cream, sugar, scraped vanilla seeds and pod, and a pinch of salt to the boil.
7. Remove vanilla pod and add rice.
8. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the rice is soft and has absorbed all the liquid.
9. Uncover and let rice cool to room temperature.
10. Butter small metal forms and fill halfway with rice. Transfer to refrigerator for 30 minutes.
11. Make a small indentation in the rice with your thumb and add one truffle per form.
12. Top up forms with remaining rice and refrigerate until ready to serve, or at least 30 minutes.
13. In the meantime, blend strawberries, a dash of water and sugar to your liking in a blender.
14. Before serving, remove rice puddings from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes.
15. Remove puddings from form and serve with strawberry sauce.

This recipe yields extra truffles, which are delicious rolled in cocoa powder.

Thanks again Stevie and Heavenly Housewife for hosting this great event! I hope everyone had as much fun making their truffles as I did. And please don’t forget to check out everyone else’s exquisite recipes!

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Truffle Torte

Truffle Cake

I just got back from my trip to Istanbul and I’m so excited to tell you all about it and share pictures of this incredible city and its even more incredible cuisine with you. But before I do, I thought I’d tempt you with this truffle cake I recently made for my husband’s birthday. He had requested “something chocolaty”, a direction I was more than happy to follow since I had been waiting for an occasion to give this cake a try.

Truffle cake (or Trüffeltorte, as it’s called in German) is one of those heavenly concoctions that you find in every pastry shop in Vienna. This particular version is not for the faint of heart – if you’re on a diet you better click the back button on your browser, because just reading the ingredient list will add five pounds to your weight. For the rest of you who are firmly convinced that life is too short to not have your cake and eat it too, there are three layers of dense, hazelnut studded chocolate cake filled with a luxurious, smooth as velvet dark chocolate ganache that is lightly spiked with rum. For a smooth finish, the entire cake is enveloped in the same dark chocolate and rum ganache and topped with tiny curls of dark chocolate. The contrast between the dense cake and the melt in your mouth ganache is sublime and worth the extra amount of work this cake takes.

Trüffeltorte
For the cake:
200g butter at room temperature
80g powdered sugar
6 eggs, separated
90g sugar
200g good quality dark chocolate (65% is ideal)
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
70g flour
270g finely ground hazelnuts

1. Gently melt the chocolate in a double boiler (alternatively, put chocolate in a Pyrex cup set in a pot with barely simmering water).
2. Combine hazelnuts and flour in a bowl.
3. In a mixing bowl, mix the butter with the powdered sugar and vanilla sugar until light and creamy.
4. Add egg yolks, one at a time and mix well.
5. Mix in melted chocolate until well incorporated.
6 Beat egg whites with sugar until glossy and stiff peaks form.
7. Beat 1/3 of the stiff egg whites into the chocolate batter with the mixer running on low until well incorporated.
8. Gently fold in the rest of the stiff egg whites with a spoon, alternating with the hazelnut-flour mix.
9. Pour batter into a 24cm round cake pan and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 50 to 60 minutes.
10. Let cool completely before removing from cake pan.
11. If the top of the cake has risen too much and formed a “dome”, cut it off so as to level the cake.

For the ganache:
375ml heavy cream
400g good quality dark chocolate (65% is ideal)
3 tablespoons rum
extra chocolate for decoration

1. Break chocolate into large pieces and put in a bowl.
2. Bring heavy cream to a boil and pour over chocolate. Let stand for a minute, add rum, and then carefully stir, beginning from the center until the chocolate has completely melted and the cream is fully incorporated. Don’t stir too energetically, because you don’t want to whip the ganache.
3. Cover and refrigerate until the ganache has thickened. It should be somewhat firm, but still easily spreadable.
4. Cut cake horizontally into three equally thick layers. Spread bottom layer with ganache, top with cake layer and continue with remaining layers and ganache. Make sure to leave enough ganache to frost the top and sides of the cake.
5. Spread an even coat of ganache onto top and sides of the cake.
6. Refrigerate cake until ganache has further firmed up.
7. When ganache is still wet, sprinkle top of the cake with a layer of chocolate curls. To make the curls, run a vegetable peeler down the sides of a block of room temperature chocolate. If the ganache has firmed up too much, the curls won’t stick. You can easily soften the ganache by gently blowing on the cake with a blow dryer for a few seconds.
8. Once you have decorated the cake with the curls, refrigerate it until the ganache is firm again.
9. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature before serving. The cake should not be served cold. It stays fresh at room temperature for about 2 days.

Enjoy!

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