Scones, scones, scones

Scones are a wonderful treat. Whether you serve them as an afternoon snack or have them for lunch, they are simply amazingly tasty. And so diverse, as you can have them as a sweet or savory option and no matter which one you choose, you will always be happy. Each of the two options here makes 8 scones.

Ingredients for traditional sconesIMG_20170809_201832_132

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (55 grams) of cold butter
  • 5 teaspoons of backing powder
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) of milk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Mix of 1 egg yolk with 1-2 tablespoons of milk to spread on scones before baking

Ingredients for cheese scones

  • 1 ¾ cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons (40 grams) of cold butter
  • 5 teaspoons of baking powder
  • ½ cup (100 ml) of milk
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of mustard
  • ¼ cup (60 grams) of sharp cheddar
  • Mix of 1 egg yolk with 1-2 tablespoons of milk to spread on scones before baking

Pre-heat the oven to 180° C/350° F. Mix all the ingredients until your dough is well-blended – for the cheese scones make sure you first add everything except the cheese, and only knead it in last. Then roll out your dough until it is about 2 cm (0.8”) thick. Since I don’t own a pastry cutter, I use a normal water glass to cut out my scones so they get the typical round form. If you are less concerned with a picture-perfect look, simply cutting the dough with a knife into squares or triangles is absolutely fine as well. Place your scones on baking paper and spread your yolk-milk mix on top. Let them bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes. Now your scones should have a golden brown color and be nicely puffed.

Serve them with whipped or clotted cream and strawberry jam (for a recipe for a homemade version, click here). The cheese version is super tasty combined with a chutney or simply with a bit of butter.

Strawberry jam

It is no miracle that strawberry jam is so incredibly popular around the globe. Hardly anything tastes so much like summer like this. So I decided, I will use the opportunity that you can currently pick fresh strawberries on the fields near Cologne and make a new batch of my favorite homemade jam. I love making my own jam, as you can regulate the amount of sugar and the taste is so much more intense. Another plus: have you ever noticed the amount of ingredients listed on an average strawberry jam jar? Incredible. I adhere to the „less is more“ principle with this simple recipe with a mere 3 ingredients. They are really all you need. The strawberry is the queen, let her shine by not drawing too much attention to a broad variety of things that are supposedly needed to make jam taste good and last longer.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds (500 grams) of strawberries
  • 1 cup (250 grams) of canning sugar
  • ½ lemon (make sure you use an organic one)
  • add a bit of vanilla if you like

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After thoroughly washing the strawberries, cut them into smaller chunk and make sure to remove all stems. Place them in a pot and add canned sugar (and vanilla, if you like). Rinse the lemon well and grate some peel of ½ lemon. Then squeeze it and add the juice and the peel to the strawberries and the sugar. Let everything simmer medium heat for one hour (give or take). Make sure to regularly stir. Then let the jam cook on high temperature of approx. 5 minutes until a foam forms on top. Scoop the foam out of the pot and set aside (it won’t be used for the jam itself, though some people like to use it for baking).

After this, you will face a difficult choice: to purify or not to purify. If you prefer to remind yourself that „yes“ this is a real fruit and you like a few fruit bits in your jam, you can skip the next step. If you are more in the line of thinking „the smoother, the better“, pour the jam in a blender. Congratulations, you made your own jam. Now all that’s left for you to do is to fill it into jars. To make sure, the jars are clean and perfectly hygienic, put them in the dish washer beforehand and fill them with you jam shortly after the washing cycle ended, when the glass is still warm. If you store your jam at a cool, darker spot, it can be conserved like this for up to 2 years. Pro tip: this is also a perfect present idea. I always give away something homemade for Christmas for example. 2015 it was this strawberry jam.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes – May the fluffiness be with you

They say that happiness is only a pancake away. Weeeeell, maybe they don’t. But they are so darn tasty, so I can hardly think of anything else that brightens up my day quite like pancakes on a Sunday morning. The number one quality of a good pancake is a fluffy and moist texture. So this recipe should do the trick. Plus, it is a perfect breakfast prior to your morning workout, as it is rich in protein thanks to the cottage cheese. I’d also say that it is relatively low carb as far as pancakes go. This recipe serves two happy people.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (65g) of flourIMG_20170514_100119_441
  • 2/3 cup (200g) of cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of baking soda (though this is optional I’d say)
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • Looooots of maple syrup (this one by REWE in Germany or this one from Stonewall Kitchen the US are my favorites)

Pancakes have one wonderful characteristic: You do not have to rigidly follow a certain order when adding the individual ingredients. Just mix them all together in a big bowl. The only exception would be the butter. I came to the conclusion that pancakes somehow turn out this tiny bit better if you melt the butter in a pan before adding it to the dough. I also like to add a pinch of cinnamon.

As for the frying itself, I like small pancakes. So I usually scoop a generous tablespoon of dough into the pan. To make sure that your first batch of pancakes stay warm until you get your last batch ready, store them in a dish in the oven at a very low temperature.

Enjoy your Sunday folks!

Eggs Benedict – A breakfast for champions

IMG_20170312_112724_265Admittedly this breakfast is the opposite of fast and easy. But it certainly is darn tasty and therefore worth every effort. This recipe serves two hungry people who are ready to tackle the day. While eggs benedict are one of THE traditional American breakfasts, it is fairly unknown in Germany and only very few cafes actually serve it. So as an expat, you are pretty much on your own if you want to start your day with a taste from home. Luckily, you can make it at home and are thus fully independent of their availability (or not) in your neighborhood.

*Disclaimer: Patience is key with this dish. It always takes quite a bit of time to prepare, so only opt for this meal if you can stand to wait a while before it’s ready. It is, however, worth every second.

Ingredients

  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 English muffins (these are fairly uncommon in Germany, but they have them at REWE)
  • ½ cup of vinegar
  • Salt
  • Streaky breakfast bacon

For the hollandaise sauce

  • ½ cup (60 grams) of butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt & black pepper

Start by frying the bacon. You’d want to already place it in the pan, while it’s still cold. Thereby, your bacon will be less greasy and thus crispier, as the fat is able to render out. Place the bacon on a paper napkin to get rid off the grease and then leave it in the oven so that it stays warm and crispy. I know, this is typically done with Canadian bacon. My personal taste preference however is streaky bacon, as the crispiness  just works perfectly nice with the soft poached eggs.

Now we are done with our “prep work” and can get down to business: the eggs. Place a large pot of water on the stove, add ¼ cup of vinegar and bring to a simmer. The water should NOT be boiling as the bubbles would cause the raw egg to disperse. I recommend preparing one egg at a time and add a new egg whenever the previous egg has solidified a bit. As for the poaching, use a small cup and crack the egg into it. Add a bit of vinegar, which serves as a sort of coating. Don’t worry – you won’t taste the vinegar afterwards. Gently pivot the cup and pour the egg into the water, making sure you stay at the outer edge of your pot. Use a spatula, large spoon or small sieve that is large enough to contain your egg to “secure” it at the edge of the pot and hold it there. (Or, use this super helpful device). Otherwise, the egg white will disperse and you will create a big mess and essentially have egg white soup rather than a poached egg. Wait until the egg has solidified somewhat, then repeat the process with your next egg. The amount of time it takes for your egg to be ready depends on the size of the egg and your personal preference (i.e., whether you prefer it runny or a bit harder). A general rule of thumb, however, is 5 to 8 minutes. Once they are done, place them on a tray in the oven to keep them warm, until all your eggs are poached.

Prepare the hollandaise sauce last. While you can certainly go for a store-bought option to save time and be just as happy, why not go all-in and make your own, since eggs benedict is not a quick-and easy dish anyways. Melt your butter in a pot at a medium heat and put it aside. Note: the butter should be melted but not boiling. Mix the egg yolk, water, juice from the lemon and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Set up a water bath and beat the egg yolk mix until it’s creamy. Ideally, it should also increase in volume. Slowly drizzle the melted butter into the mix while continuing to stir. Add the salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper.

A perfect Sunday starts with French Toast

Who doesn’t love Sunday mornings? They embody relaxation. To me they are one of the highlights of the week. You sleep in. You start your day with a pot of steaming hot coffee. I usually drink mine in my cozy corner sitting in the amazing hanging chair that my fiancé gave me for Christmas. To make a good Sunday even better, French Toast with maple syrup is just the perfect treat.

Ingredients

  • 8 slices of brioche bread or sandwich bread
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1,5-2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Butter for the pan
  • Lots of maple syrup

I like my French Toast extra fluffy. I achieve this by using heavy cream in my egg mix. It works beautifully. I am aware that this certainly doesn’t make this a “healthy choice breakfast”, but for me Sundays are for indulging.

Start by whisking eggs, heavy cream and milk in a shallow container that is large enough to fit your brioche or sandwich bread. With brioche it will be even thicker and fluffier than with sandwich bread, but it sure will be tasty regardless which one you choose. Add cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar and salt. Heat the oven to 100 degrees Celsius/ 210 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt a bit of butter in the pan while soaking the bread in the egg mix on both sides until it is saturated. Fry the bread in the pan on medium heat until it has a golden brown color. Place the toast in a skillet in the oven to keep it warm until you finished preparing all your bread slices. Serve with maple syrup and crispy bacon.

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Sunshine Smoothie

Whatever the universe might throw at you – whether it is rain, snow or a cloudy sky –
this smoothie will surely help you brighten up your day in an instant. A glass of pure sunshine. Thanks to its spiciness, it also is the best wake-up booster you could ask for. Plus it contains turmeric, which supports your bodies fight against inflammation and it is also great for your joints, as it helps the body discharging calcification. To make sure that your body is actually able to make use of the turmeric, you need to add some source of fat. I use coconut oil for that. The honey and the papaya sweeten the smoothie, to tone down the spiciness of the turmeric.sunshine

  • 1,5 cups of low-sugar almond milk
  • ½ papaya
  • 1 teaspoon of Turmeric (Kurkuma in German)
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon of honey

Smoothielicious Greens

A famous Elvis song includes the line „Oh It’s good to touch the green, green grass of home“. While that might not always be possible, we can compensate by comforting ourselves with some soul food. Though I admit that green smoothies are normally not the epitome of soul food, this one is tasty enough that I feel it should be. I always prefer smoothies that are not too sugary, but tickle your sweet tooth a bit nonetheless. So this one ticks all the boxes for me in terms of sweetness and being healthy.

Ingredientsimg_20170111_091559_035

  • 1 banana
  • ½ avacado
  • 1 cup of spinach (frozen)
  • 1 cup of kale (frozen)
  • 3 cups of oat milk (make sure to use a low-sugar one)
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of spirulina powder
  • 1 teaspoon of wheatgrass powder

Blend all ingredients. Enjoy! This recipe serves 2.

Goooood Morning Smoothie

img_20161128_083143

Nothing says „Good Morning“ as cheerfully as this smoothie! It makes me start my day in a bright spirit because it is not only a healthy choice but a very tasty breakfast treat at the same time. It combines antioxidants (blueberries) with some substance to give your body the right energy it needs to kick off a successful day in a positive mindset.

 

Ingredients for 1 serving

  • 250ml oat milk (make sure to get a low sugar option)
  • ½ cup of frozen blueberries
  • 1 handful of kale
  • 2 tablespoons of Impact Whey Protein – stevia chocolate flavor
  • ½ teaspoon wheatgrass powder
  • ¼ avocado

I always store the blueberries and the kale in freezer to chill the smoothie without watering it down with ice cubes