Blueberry galette

It seems like I am in a blueberry kick. I do love me some blueberries, and since frozen ones are so easy to keep, it’s easy to reach for them for a quick dessert.

We invited the family over for Easter Sunday lunch. We served a selection of cheeses, fruit & breads.

Spread of cheeses, fruit and breads

And for dessert I wanted something easy and quick, that wasn’t fiddly and could be baked while or right after lunch to have a bit later as dessert. I also wanted something relatively light (not loaded with butter and eggs) and with lots of fruit. A galette came to the rescue!

Blueberry galette

Blueberry galette

While a traditional galette pastry is made with butter, this olive oil version turned out to be perfect as well. It stood up to the juicy berries, and provided a nice crunchy edge. Thanks to the tiny amount of sprinkled sugar, it also turned a nice shade of golden.

Note that I didn’t pinch that one fold quite enough, and it folded back open during baking, letting the juices escape.

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 200 gr flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 30 gr sugar
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 75-100 ml water

For the berry filling:

  • 450 gr (frozen) blueberries
  • 30-40 gr sugar
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla essence
  • 30-40 gr fine corn flour
  • 1 tsp sugar (for sprinkling)

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients for the dough in a bowl, starting with only 75 ml water. Mix it, adding more water if needed, and for a bowl with it. Let rest for an hour or while the berries thaw.
  2. Mix the all the ingredients for the filling in a bowl and let sit for an hour, or while the berries thaw.
  3. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  4. Roll out the dough into a (approximate) circle shape, about 25 cm in diameter, on a piece of parchment paper. You don’t want the dough to be too thin, it needs to stand up to being folded over the filling.
  5. Spoon the berries on to the middle of the dough circle, leaving 4-5cm free all around. Reserve the liquid!
  6. Fold the edges of the pastry over the filling, pinching the folds so they stick together. Pour the reserved liquid on top of the berries. Sprinkle 1 tsp sugar over the pastry edges.
  7. Transfer the galette (and parchment) to a rimed1 baking tray, and bake at 180°C for 30-35 minutes, until the berries are all jammy and the pastry is crunchy and golden.
  8. Let cool on a cooling rack for 15-30 minutes. Serve lukewarm, with ice cream if desired.

Servings

8 wedges.

  1. Trust me on this one, and use a rimed tray, chances are the filling will escape, and flow on to the bottom of the oven and burn to a sticky bubbly and sharp caramel there. Avoid that!

Lemon blueberry swirl cake

Having friends over to visit means I get to bake. And I love it.

Having friends over to visit with allergies and food intolerances, means I get to experiment with baking. Which I love even more.

So after a week of searching the internet for a lemon blueberry cake that fitted the bill (vegan, gluten free, nut free, and preferably banana free), I found two recipes I could mix & match and adapt to my taste. From those two recipes a third was born, and I bring it to you.

Lemon blueberry cake

Lemon Blueberry Cake

Ingredients

Blueberry compote

  • 225 gr (frozen or fresh) blueberries (I used frozen, because available all year long at a reasonable price)
  • 30 gr (coconut) sugar
  • 30 ml water

Lemon cake

  • zest & juice of two lemons
  • 120 ml soy milk (or any other plant based milk)
  • 2 egg replacers (I used v-eggie by P38, a local Belgian company, feel free to use any egg replacement available to you, or flax / chia egg)
  • 50 gr (coconut) sugar
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 90 gr fine polenta
  • 110 gr fine almond meal (almonds are seeds, not nuts)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Instructions

Blueberry compote

  1. Put blueberries, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer, and simmer, stirring from time to time, for 15 minutes. The compote will have thickened and have a glossy look.
  2. Let cool while preparing the cake batter

Lemon cake

  1. Line the bottom of a spring form with baking paper and set aside. Heat oven to 175°C.
  2. In a mixing bowl, add all wet ingredients (from lemon up to and including vanilla essence) and mix thoroughly so sugar dissolves.
  3. Add dry ingredients to mixing bowl, and whisk until no lumps remain.
  4. Pour 1/2 to 1/3 of the cake batter in a prepared form. Spoon half the compote on top of the cake batter. Top with the remaining cake batter, and then the remaining compote. Swirl with a knife / toothpick if wanted.
  5. Bake cake in pre-heated oven for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Let cool in tin for 15-20 minutes, then loosen rim, remove cake, and let cool on a cooling rack.

Enjoy!


As an aside, I realize I need to work on taking better pictures of my recipes. It’ll never be a step by step because who has time for that?!

But I really want to remember to take a picture of the plated cake, not just the teaser picture of the cake cooling on a rack, before diving into it. I keep forgetting, because I want to try it! And I want friends to try it!

No bake blueberry cheesecake

A few days ago we got an invitation for a friend’s “Flower-power” spring themed birthday party. She requested that we bring something that reminds us of spring. So not wanting to do the typical spring flowers, and my idea of a jar filled with natural fertilizer1 being banned by the other 50%, we settled on cake.

My first idea was to create a three layer lemon-poppy seed cake, with a fruity filling, cover it in yellow marzipan, and then decorate it with sugar paste flowers (daisies, mostly). But the store being closed and a certain lack of ingredients and time meant I had to find an alternative. Pinterest2 and a childhood memory of no bake cheese cakes to the rescue. After browsing for a while for spring-themed cakes, I settled on a blueberry no bake cheesecake. Mixing a vegan recipe, with a not even vegetarian one (the childhood cake uses gelatine3, and turning it vegetarian was a challenge. And it turned right the first time round!

I basically adapted & mashed so many recipes that it’s not even worth it mentioning them, since this cake doesn’t resemble any of them any more.

No bake blueberry cheesecake with lighted birthday candles

Happy Birthday for the flower power girl

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 200 grams “maria” cookies
  • 100 grams butter

For the cheesecake

  • 300 grams cream cheese, room temperature
  • 250 grams Greek yogurt
  • 375 ml cream
  • 250 grams blueberries
  • 125 grams sugar
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 2 grams agar agar powder

For the topping

  • 200 grams blueberries
  • 4 grams agar agar powder
  • 25 grams sugar

For decoration

  • 50 grams blueberries
  • sugar flowers
  • (fresh edible flowers if you can find them – I couldn’t)
No bake blueberry cheesecake with candles blown off and child in the background

No bake blueberry cheesecake

Instructions

For the crust

  1. Line the bottom of a spring form with baking paper. Place spring form on dish (the cheesecake will most likely leak a bit).
  2. Melt butter in microwave or pan over medium heat.
  3. Meanwhile, crush cookies to thin dust either in a food processor or by wacking them with a rolling pin. (Second option recommended if you have anger you need to get rid of).
  4. Mix butter & cookie crumbs until it resembles wet sand. Pour mixture into lined form and press with hands to create an even crust.
  5. Place in refrigerator while making filling.

For the cheesecake filling

  1. Pour 250 ml of cream into a small sauce pan, sprinkle 2 grams of agar agar powder on top and let soak for a few minutes. Bring to a simmer, and whisk to dissolve agar agar. Simmer for a 3-4 minutes, whisking regularly to make sure it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Meanwhile, in a blender, blend blueberries with remaining cream.
  3. In a mixing bowl, mix cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, lemon zest and juice until smooth. Add blueberry mix and mix until well combined.
  4. Add agar agar cream to the blueberry mix and mix thoroughly. It should start setting and it can be whipped to a creamy consistency. Pour into spring form with crust and even top out with a spatula.
  5. Chill in refrigerator while making topping.
Springform filled with blueberry no bake filling

Blueberry cheesecake filling ready for chilling

For the topping

  1. In a blender, mix blueberries and sugar with about 100 ml of water until smooth.
  2. Sieve blueberry mix through a strainer to remove skins.
  3. Add enough water to the mix to make 500 ml. Pour into small saucepan and sprinkler agar agar on top. Let sit for 5 minutes for agar agar to hydrate.
  4. Bring to a boil, lower to simmer and whisk to dissolve agar agar. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, whisking to make sure it won’t burn to the bottom of the pan.
  5. If present, remove white foam from top of blueberry jam with a spoon before it cools down.
  6. Let blueberry jam cool to around 50°C, pour on top of cheesecake. Quickly tilt spring form around to distribute the topping evenly.

Decorate:

  1. Sprinkle blueberries on top.
  2. Place sugar (and / or fresh edible) flowers on top.

Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.

One benefit of using agar agar however, the cheesecake & topping will withstand higher temperatures since it won’t un-gel with warmth. So this is an ideal dessert for the summer months!

  1. Having lived rather rural for the last two years, the beginning of spring is always marked by the smell of fields being turned over and fertilized to prepare for the new crops.
  2. The rabbit hole for the makers
  3. Which is not vegetarian. Poor piggies.

Applesauce muffins

These muffins are based on the previous recipe, Pumpkin muffins, but aren’t gluten free.

Inspired by a jar of apple sauce that needed using up, and having a day of board games planned, baking muffins to feed our friends (other than crisps, fried stuff & sandwiches) sounded like a good idea.

The muffins are ready in 45 minutes. Total. Of those, 30 minutes are baking time, so you can do your cleanup meanwhile. Quick bakes are also a bonus point in my book!

Applesauce muffins

Applesauce muffins

Ingredients

  • 350 grams applesauce
  • 80 ml mild (olive) oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 175 grams cane sugar
  • 200 grams flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp speculaas spice mix

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C. Line 12 muffin tin with paper or silicon liners.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  3. In a blender, mix applesauce, olive oil, and sugar. Blend until smooth. Add eggs and pulse until mixed.
  4. Add applesauce mix to dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  5. Divide dough between the 12 cavities.
  6. Bake at 175°C for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
  7. Let cool in muffin enough to handle, remove muffins from tin and let cool on rack.

Pumpkin muffins (lactose & gluten free)

Lately I am experimenting with dairy / gluten / egg free baking. Having friends that are allergic / intolerant to one of more of those, and me liking a challenge, baking for them is a good opportunity.

Pumpkin Muffins Photo credit: Nadege

Pumpkin Muffins
 Photo (c) Nadege Biojout

 

These muffins are both dairy & gluten free, but do contain eggs. I will experimenting with the egg part next. I am happy to say that they have a nice earthy spicy flavour, and a fantastic soft moist crumbly texture. Texture wise, they are faboulous, to be honest!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (to make: cut sweet pumpkin in quarters, scoop seeds out, and steam pumpkin for 25-30 minutes, or until the flesh starts to separate from the skin, scoop the flesh from the skin, mash, and measure) (to be updated with metric measurement)
  • 2 eggs
  • 175 grams cane sugar
  • 75 ml olive olive (use a mild one)
  • 60 grams corn-based all purpose gluten free flour (basically a mix of corn starch, corn flour, guar gum)
  • 60 grams quinoa flour (ground quinoa flakes works well)
  • 60 grams (white) rice flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2  tsp each cinnamon, ground ginger, all spice & chinese 5 spice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C. Place rack in middle of oven. Line 12 cavity muffin tray with paper liners or silicon liners.
  2. In a big bowl mix pumpkin puree, eggs, sugar and oil very well with an immersion mixer. Alternatively you can use a blender.
  3. In a small bowl mix all flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt & spices. Add to wet ingredients and mix with a spatula until no blobs (very technical name) of flour are left.
  4. Divide batter among the cavities of the muffin tray.
  5. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Let muffins cool enough to remove from tray, transfer to cooling rack and let cool (or enjoy warm, if you cannot wait).
14874881_10210742871917737_650073493_n

Open muffin showing the texture

I really couldn’t wait to eat them so I forgot to take a picture before I started. Here you can see the nice crumb & fluffy texture of the muffins.

The bad thing about technology…

… such as smartphones, is that it becomes obsolete. And after a while, it starts to fail. And that’s what’s happening with my trusty Nexus 4. I’ve had it for more than 2,5 years and lately it keeps dropping cellphone and gps reception. Which is annoying when you use it to navigate and are in the middle of nowhere.

Anyway, since I don’t like paying premium for my phones, and I don’t require tomorrow’s technology – but I do want something better than I had, I decided to get a OnePlus X. And this is the story of that purchase (the phone hasn’t arrived yet).

So, I selected my phone & accessories on the site, and clicked on purchase. This requires you to make an account. Ok, create an account: username, email & password, please check this box to let us know you’re not a bot. I got my account confirmation email, clicked on the link, account confirmed. So then I go to sign in, and hey, why do I bother with an username, when I have to use my email to log in! First failure on their part.

Ok, logged in. Go to my cart: your cart is empty! Apparently, they ate all the cookies and didn’t want to save my cart. Fine. Go shopping again. Wait, why is now everything in $ instead of €? Go back to check my account settings – I had already filled in name & country, but apparently these settings do not get transferred to the shopping settings, which you have to fill in, again, manual. It feels like it’s 1999! Fine, fill in it all again, and finally be able to shop for the phone. At least they take paypal, so I did’t have to go get my credit card and auth dongle to pay :D

Lastly, realize phone takes nano-sim, current phone takes micro-sim card. So I had to order a replacement from MobileVikings (affiliate link, please change provided, gimme credit!) – which used to be free, but now it costs 5€. Oh well. Now to see if the stars align and everything arrives on time.

Crackers, because I can

Yep, making crackers, because they are easy, and fast, and taste so much better fresh from the oven and I know what’s in them. And they happen to be vegan.

Crackers, Grommit!

Crackers, Grommit!

Ingredients:

  • 200 gr flour
  • 120 ml room temperature water
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Make them:

  1. Mix all ingredients together (by hand with a fork or with a kitchen robot – you might want to double or triple the recipe in the later case). Knead a couple times by hand to form a nice smooth dough. Form a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and stick in the fridge for at least an hour, up to a day.
  2. Let dough come to room temperature for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C & line 1 baking tray with baking paper.
  3. Roll the dough about 3mm thin (this is easier between cling film or silicon baking mats). Prick all over with a fork. Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut into squares about 5cm in side. Brush with water & sprinkle with some sea salt / dried herbs of your choice (sprinkling optional). Move to lined baking trays.
  4.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden.
  5. Let cool on a rack slightly before tucking it, lest you burn your mouth!

Mushroom & Tofu Sang Choy Bau

Today’s dinner brought to you inspired by a recipe that I read somewhere, and with the “40 days without meat”1 campaign in mind.

Mushroom & Tofu Sang Choy Bau

Mushroom & Tofu Sang Choy Bau

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 250 gr block firm tofu
  • 10 gr / ~ 1tbsp sesame oil
  • 500 gr mushrooms, clean & sliced
  • 1 orange (or yellow) bell pepper, diced
  • 3-4 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 small tin (70gr) tomato concentrate
  • 1 tbsp mushroom “oyster” sauce (or the real thing if you’re not vegetarian)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sambal oelek
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 pack (150 grams) straight-to-wok noodles

How to:

  1. Wrap tofu in a couple paper towels and press dry with hands. Cut in 1.5cm cubes. Heat up a non-stick pan on medium, once it’s hot, add the tofu cubes, and let them cook without touching them for 4-5 minutes, until golden, then turn, and repeat until all sides are golden and slightly crunchy.
  2. Heat up oil in a wok. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes, until tender. Add the bell pepper & half the spring onion, and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the tomato paste, mushroom “oyster” sauce, soy sauce, sambal oelek & garlic powder with 3-4 tbps of water, enough to make it pourable (might need to add some more water). Add to the mushrooms and cook 2 minutes. Add the noodles, stir and cook for another couple of minutes.
  4. At this point, all sides of the tofu should be golden. Add tofu to the mushroom mix. Stir to coat.
  5. Sprinkle remaining spring onion on top before serving.

Bon appetit!

What have I been up to

The last five months have been rather quiet around these parts, and it’s not for lack of things happening, but exactly the opposite. There has been so much going on that I haven’t had the time to write about our vacation or post a recipe (or even a picture) here.

First things first. I graduated! It took 14 years, two countries and a change of degrees, but I am officially an Engineer. Official title being Master of Science in Civil Engineering. Fancy, ain’t it? In order to achieve this, of course, I had to finish my master’s dissertation, write a whole book on it, and defend it in front of my promoter & advisers, plus an infiltrate (foreign doctorate student) that was happy my defense was in English and not in Dutch so he’d be able to follow along. A few weeks later I got to wear a graduation gown and cap and throw said cap in the air for the pictures :)

And then we worked hard for three weeks to get our house(!) in order so we could move in. That meant very long days sanding and prepping walls and ceilings, painting and more painting, installing flooring and bathroom furniture and a whole lot of cleaning. Also getting the kitchen installed (snafu from the company: our counter was requested without a hole for the induction stove, we’re now waiting for it to be replaced).

We then had a fun 1st of November. Epic moving weekend! We managed to move everything with the help of friends & family, and we’re now getting slowly into the hang of (new) things. There are still a few things to finish around the house but it gets done bit by bit.

And finally, the job search for me. Looking for a position as an in-office engineer, doing calculations & stuff. There are many positions for construction managers, but not that many for designing engineers it seems. So the search goes slower than I wish. I have also had my fill of “your profile is very interesting for our company, but we don’t have a matching position at the moment” replies. When they called me!

Anyway, that has been the last five months of my life. Time has flown by and I hope next year I have (make) more time for posting here.