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Salted chocolate apples

Salted chocolate applesNormally I only share a recipe after a lot of testing and tasting and often with a bit of modification to improve it.  This time however I made these apples for Hallowe’en and it was such a hit that I did not even get a chance to taste them! I am sure they tasted lovely though. So here we go; apples that are good for any autumnal celebration (did someone mention Bonfire night?)

Now let me share more about my feeling re Hallowe’en. I still dislike it even though I was more involved this year. I think I mentioned before I dislike this celebration mostly due to tacky decorations and creepy dress ups (It does not seem so bad in USA, but here in the UK kids dress up in grotesque costumes). I even wrote a post in the past on how to survive halloween! But beside all these reasons my real real reason for disliking halloween is the fact that it celebrates fear and a spiritual realm that does exist. I am not going further with this and try to argue. Instead I want to explain why I am involved more this year. My prime reason is to get to know my neighbours and to experience Hallowe’en a bit from a broader perspective so decide what if anything I should do with my kids next year.Salted chocolate apples SALTED CHOCOLATE APPLES

  • 12-17 small eating apples
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 200g white chocolate (optional)
  • sea salt
  • descanted coconut (if using white chocolate)
  • sticks (can be reused ice lolly sticks, tree branch bits or even skewers perhaps?)

Salted chocolate apples 1. First arrange apples on the baking paper. Insert sticks so you are able to hold onto them when applying chocolate.Salted chocolate apples2. Melt the chocolate either carefully heating it in the microwave or over a pot of hot water.

3. Swirl the apple into chocolate so it gets evenly coated. Drizzle some more chocolate of different type on the sides for a pretty look. Don’t forget to salt it ;-).

4. Let the apples set in the fridge.Salted chocolate applesI found that white chocolate does not go back to solid state very quickly. Once applied, white chocolate would just slide off the apple. I think it is important to either wait till the chocolate starts thickening or roll the apple (with chocolate on it) in some descanted coconut so it holds everything together. The apples decorated this ways look as pretty as other apples I think :-).Salted chocolate applesHope you feel inspired

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Aeroplane themed birthday cake

Aeroplane themed birthday cakeSo here it is, my vision became a reality. This year I made Lukas birthday cake aeroplane themed which he really enjoyed. I have been dreaming about this cake for ages (not really I practically copied the idea from here). The only thing I wanted to do differently is to try and dye the frosting with natural dyes….

But as you may know the colour blue is hard to find in nature! I know i know, the sky is blue, but you can’t exactly put that in the icing. With a bit of research and friends recommendation I went with butterfly pea tea that is sort of blue. You see I had fun with experimenting and realised that butterfly pea tea changes colour according to the ph of the liquid you mix it into. With a bit of lemon it turns to a burgundy violet and with milk it turns into bluish sky blue. Although this might sound easy, the blue that I get from mixing the tea with milk is not concentrated enough for what is needed when you try to dye large amounts of frosting. I ended up using it in soft cheese frosting and it turned out a little more lilac then sky blue. Shall we imagine that the planes are flying over a sunset sky?Aeroplane themed birthday cake BLUEBERRY YOGURT CAKE WITH BUTTERFLY PEA FROSTING

(for the cake)

  • 3 eggs
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 450g greek yogurt
  • 180g rapeseed or olive oil
  • 300g ground almond
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 2 handful blueberries

(for the meringue)

  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • 100g icing sugar, sifted
  • few drops of lemon
  • pinch of salt

(for the frosting)

  • 600g soft cheese
  • icing sugar to taste, sifted
  • butterfly pea tea, brewed in little water

(for the “aeroplanes”)

  • cocktail sticks
  • wafers in the finger form

1. To make the cake beat the eggs with sugar. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix again to combine. Pour equal amount of cake mixture into two lined baking tins. Bake in 180C oven for 40-45min.Aeroplane themed birthday cake 2. Meanwhile prepare the meringues for baking. Baking these will take few hours on the low heat once the cake is baked presuming you don’t have two ovens. Mix the egg whites with drop of lemon, salt and half of icing sugar. Start whisking the mixture while gradually adding the rest of icing sugar. In the past I struggled to make meringues and later I realised that all it needs a little patience. It takes really long time to achieve stiffly whisked egg whites, so bear with it till you can see the results. Don’t worry you can’t over mix it ;-)! Pipe the meringues on the baking sheet into cloud shapes using large round nozzle or no nozzle at all. Bake in C60 preheated oven for 3-4h. I find the longer the baking the whiter the meringues!Aeroplane themed birthday cake with merengue clouds  3. To make the frosting whisk soft cheese with icing sugar (I like it less sweet so I don’t add much). Gradually mix in the butterfly pea tea till you like the shade. Aeroplane themed birthday cake 4. For the plane, cut the wafer finger into aeroplane body shape and small triangle for the fin. Glue the plane using icing sugar and water mixture. Use the cocktail sicks to hold the plane together.Aeroplane themed birthday cake Aeroplane themed birthday cake5. To assemble the cake apply the frosting starting from the top and working your way to the bottom. Arrange the “the clouds” and “the planes” as closer to serving as you can. Sadly, the meringue have a tendency to go soggy.Aeroplane themed birthday cake Aeroplane themed birthday cake Aeroplane themed birthday cake I especially liked the cake. Although it was difficult to apply the frosting due to it being crumbly and moist, I feel it was worth it!Aeroplane themed birthday cakeHope you enjoy it!

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Green tomato ketchup

Green tomato ketchup recipeLast week we said goodbye to our green house. It was quite emotional for me as I really fell in love with it! Although the journey of building it and general gardening jobs delayed our house renovation (kitchen in particular) I feel having green house has given us irreplaceable experience. I loved getting fresh tomatoes everyday for my toast and salads, even if it was for only few months. I have learned a lot too! I will be applying my new learned knowledge next year when I grow tomatoes again :).Green tomato ketchup recipeBut what to do with all those green tomato that missed their chance to catch some sun? Few years ago we made some green tomato chutney. This year however I decided to go with green tomato ketchup only because we use ketchup more often (I bet you do too!). Green tomato ketchup taste a little fresher to compare to regular ketchup but is equally delicious with chips!Green tomato ketchup recipe Green tomato ketchup recipe This recipe can be halved or doubled depending on your green tomato harvest. So weigh your tomatoes before deciding how much ketchup to make.

GREEN TOMATO KETCHUP

  • 2 kg tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, sliced
  • 2 thumb fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • salt and pepper
  • 700ml water
  • 2 tsp tabasco sauce (more if you like spicy)
  • 150ml apple cider vinegar
  • 200g brown sugar (I used dark brown which made the ketchup look darker)

1. wash, weigh, chop the tomatoes and set aside.Green tomato ketchup recipe2. Place onions and celery  in a large saucepan with a generous amount of olive oil, ginger, garlic, ground coriander and mixed spice. Season with the pepper and a pinch of salt. Cook gently till softened.Green tomato ketchup recipe 3. Add the tomatoes, water and bring to the boil and simmer gently until the sauce reduces by half (around 3 h for 2kg tomatoes).

4. Whiz the sauce in a food processor or with a hand blender. Add the vinegar and the sugar. Place the sauce on the heat and simmer until it reduces and thickens to the consistency of tomato ketchup. At this point, adjust the seasoning to taste.

5. Spoon the jam into the ready sterilised jars or glass bottles.Green tomato ketchup recipe Green tomato ketchup recipeShould at least try making it for those chips ;-)

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End-of-season tomato jam

End-of-season tomato jam recipeTurns out our tomato harvest was little late when I thought it was barely there at all. When all of the sudden tomatoes started turning red and yellow in one go I actually panicked as I could not keep up with it even when I was eating them everyday (this is certainly a good problem to have). However their season is coming to the end and I will be soon harvesting green tomatoes to make something special for winter.

So far I have been freezing red, cherry and sunrise tomatoes into the 400g bags for next time I need chopped tomatoes in the recipe. I also reserved some for tomato jam that I wanted to try out making for a while. I love something sweet in my savoury dishes! If you feel the same then here it is, carry on reading for the recipe.End-of-season tomato jam recipe End-of-season tomato jam recipeEND-OF SEASON TOMATO JAM adapted from Healthy Delicious

  • 1kg ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 280g soft brown sugar
  • 1 lemon zest and juice
  • pinch ground ginger

End-of-season tomato jam recipe 1. Whizz tomatoes in the blender till smooth like a pure.End-of-season tomato jam recipe2. Transfer the tomato puree together with the rest of the ingredients into the medium sized pot.End-of-season tomato jam recipe 3. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick and jammy – this will take about an hour.End-of-season tomato jam recipe4. Spoon the jam into the ready sterilised jars.End-of-season tomato jam recipeEnd-of-season tomato jam recipe End-of-season tomato jam recipeEnjoy it anywhere you like. I am sure you will find many uses for this jam! I love mine in the cheese toasty ;-).

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Herb infused jams

Herb infused jams + rosemary infused blackberry jam recipeI know I know you might think that I am obsessed with blackberries (which is true). But how can you resist when these berries are so plump and lush right now? We just loooove picking them as we go for a walk!

Last year when I was cooking through Little Paris Kitchen book I found this recipe for the cherry compote. Not just any cherry compote, it was infused with basil and tasted amaaaaazing! This is why when I was thinking to make blackberry jam I decided to take similar approach and matched it with rosemary. It was as flavoursome as that compote I made last year ;-).

So if you are jamming this autumn, I really recommend trying out and adding herbs to your preserves. Sugar really bring out the flavour of it I think. Here are few suggestions if you like:

  • cherry and basil
  • blueberry and mint
  • raspberry and cardamom
  • apricots and lavender
  • strawberry and lemon thyme

These are just few examples, but you can experiment with any herbs. Here is blackberry and rosemary for starters ;-).Herb infused jams + rosemary infused blackberry jam recipe BLACKBERRY AND ROSEMARY JAM

makes 2 jars

  • 1kg blackberries
  • 300g sugar (we used icing sugar as it dissolves quicker, but any other sugar will do)
  • bunch of rosemary

Herb infused jams + rosemary infused blackberry jam recipe 1. Place all the ingredients in a pot and simmer uncovered for 30 min or so.Herb infused jams + rosemary infused blackberry jam recipe 2. Stir occasionally while cooking to help dissolve the sugar.Herb infused jams + rosemary infused blackberry jam recipe 3. Remove the rosemary stalks (as much as you can) before spooning it into ready sterilised jars.Herb infused jams + rosemary infused blackberry jam recipeI enjoy it mostly with toast but there are plenty of other uses as well.

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Bake-with-kids yogurt cake

Bake-with-kids yogurt cake recipeEver since reading Bringing up bebe and French kids eat everything I got the notion that the kids and I could bake things one day. Maybe even experiment with different flavours and help them grow to love food. This sounded like a fairy tale when we were going through terrible-twos and all Lukas would eat was pasta or toast. Thankfully this was just a phase! Things are changing dramatically as we speak. So hang in there if you are struggling with the toddler fussiness, it will all pass ;-).

I mean Lukas still don’t eat salad, but he will occasionally ask me if he could taste something from my plate (such as beetroot or even smoked salmon). And you know I like my food colourful and flavoursome. I really hope that one day this passion will pass onto him.

So when we went blackberry picking last week I thought why not introduce him to baking. Lukas, like any other kids likes cakes and baking goes nicely with blackberry. I suddenly thought I could try the yogurt cake that I read french kids like to make. Blackberries on top does make it lovely!Bake-with-kids yogurt cake recipe This recipe uses yogurt containers (150ml) as a measuring device. A bit simpler to understand for little helpers.

BAKE-WITH-KIDS YOGURT CAKE

  • 2 x containers (300g) natural yogurt (full fat preferably)
  • 2 x eggs
  • 2 x containers sugar (270g) (although I preferred adding just one)
  • 4.5 x containers  plain flour (360g) (we used almond flour for gluten free version)
  • 1 x container (120g) vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • berries or chocolate chips for the filling (optional but nice!)
  • extra yogurt or creme fraiche for serving (optional)

Bake-with-kids yogurt cake recipe 1. Measure all ingredients into the bowl. It is very important to clean and dry the containers after emptying them as I find that other ingredients stick to any lingering yogurt and therefore don’t come out fully when measuring. The first time we baked this cake it came out too gooey due to not enough of flour as you could imagine. When making it a second time I realised it was due to wrong amounts.

2. Mix mix mix! Lukas favourite part ;-).Bake-with-kids yogurt cake recipe3. Spoon out the cake mixture into the baking tin. I like using silicone type as it needs no greasing.Bake-with-kids yogurt cake recipe4. Arrange berries or chocolate chips on top. Press them in so they sink a bit.Bake-with-kids yogurt cake recipe 5. Bake for 35-40min in 180C preheated oven. Check with toothpick if it is baked thoroughly before removing the cake out of the oven.Bake-with-kids yogurt cake recipeEnjoy baking ;-)

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Gluten free pizza topped with fresh ingredients (two ways)

Gluten free pizza topped with fresh ingredientsSo we started a new diet for Tomas this month. We (which is really me) decided that his eczema may be caused by gluten intolerance. Like with any other diets we tried this includes a long 6 weeks trial where we change our menu to avoid the ingredient in question. I found gluten is not that difficult to avoid. Unlike dairy gluten mostly can be found in carbs. So essentially I thought I need to start baking my own bread, but then I was putting that off as bread baking involves quite a lengthy process…. however without gluten it is not so lengthy. The trouble with gluten free bread is that is difficult to bake a nice bread, but it does not take that much time to make it since we don’t need to kneed the dough to get the gluten to stretch. So all and all no gluten means hello quick bread!

I have been recently inspired by fresh tomato toast recipes from Half Baked Harvest blog. Fresh tomatoes in summer are just amazing! I don’t have such a big harvest of tomatoes (yet) this year, but I thought it would be lovely to make fresh tomato pizza anyways. I made pizza with cucumber as well (I have started getting them in my green house too!!).Gluten free pizza topped with fresh ingredientsGLUTEN FREE PIZZA TOPPED WITH FRESH INGREDIENTS

Makes two pizzas

(for the base)

  • 600g gluten free flour mix (mine consisted of rice, tapioca and potato starch)
  • 25g xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 2tsp brown sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 10g quick acting dry yeast
  • 350ml warm water

(for the fresh tomato pizza)

  • 125g mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces
  • 100g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-5 tomatoes, sliced
  • basil

(for the potato and cucumber pizza)

  • 125g mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces
  • 1 potato, pealed and thinly sliced (I used a grater)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • chives, finelly chopped
  • 1-3 cucumbers, sliced

1. Mix together the flour, xanthan gum, garlic salt, sugar, baking powder and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle. Pour the water into the well and mix everything to form two balls. Roll out the dough onto the baking sheet until it is 5mm thick.Gluten free pizza topped with fresh ingredients 2. To make the cheese and fresh tomato pizza sprinkle the garlic, mozzarella and cheddar cheese over the base. Season it and drizzle some olive oil on top. Bake the pizza in the preheated 200C oven for 20-30min. Once baked top the pizza with sliced tomato and fresh basil.Gluten free pizza topped with fresh ingredients 3. For the potato and cucumber pizza sprinkle the base with mozzarella, potato and chives. Heavily season it (potato requires more salt) and drizzle some olive oil on top. Bake the pizza in the preheated 200C oven for 20-30min. Gluten free pizza topped with fresh ingredients 4. Once baked, top the pizza with cucumber and more chives (and maybe salt if needed). Gluten free pizza topped with fresh ingredientsEnjoy!

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Watercolour challenge: underwater

Watercolour challenge: underwater paintings inspired my mural walls in FranceLast month while exploring Carhaix-Plougue in France I was surprised to see so many creative wall murals around. These were mostly underwater creatures and seaweed that were appearing not only on the walls. There were few similar artworks displayed on the windows too. Watercolour challenge: underwater paintings inspired my mural walls in France Watercolour challenge: underwater paintings inspired my mural walls in France Watercolour challenge: underwater paintings inspired my mural walls in FranceSo inspired by all this art I decided to paint similar art for my watercolour challenge. It has been refreshing to paint something in one colour and discover different tones in it. I chose bluish grey which was perfect for sea world paintings.Watercolour challenge: underwater paintings inspired my mural walls in France Watercolour challenge: underwater paintings inspired my mural walls in FranceLater I realised that the wall murals in France were actually just the paintings on white paper and then stuck onto the wall. I wonder if they were having an open-air art gallery out there in Carhaix-Plougue…. hmmWatercolour challenge: underwater paintings inspired my mural walls in France Watercolour challenge: underwater paintings inspired my mural walls in FranceWe found this jelly fish at the beach which is soo pretty and obviously made its way to my pages on my notebook. I think sometimes the best inspiration comes from nature itself ;-).Watercolour challenge: underwater paintings inspired my mural walls in France Watercolour challenge: underwater paintings inspired my mural walls in FranceThanks for letting me share!

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Salad in a crepe

Nicoice salad in a crepe recipeMy love for crepes have reached the next level while in France. I knew crepes can be savoury and sweet but it never crossed my mind that crepes can be served with salad inside it. Woaaaah!!! Sunny times like these require a lot of salad eating I think! I also decided to brave up this time and make crepes 100% buckwheat (we all know pancakes without gluten are just too complicated). But after many failures you eventually get it, buckwheat pancakes need a lot of practice and patience. If you are not up for challenge, regular crepes/pancakes taste just fine ;-).Nicoice salad in a crepe recipeNICOISE SALAD IN A CREPE

(for the crepe)

  • 200g buckwheat flour
  • pinch of salt
  • about 500ml water
  • knob of butter for frying

(for the salad)

  • 3-4 potatoes, pealed and thinly sliced
  • sunflower oil
  • 200g canned tuna in brine
  • 20 green olives, halved
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 handful of lettuce, chopped
  • 1 handful cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 eggs, quatered
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard (we did not use it here, but I think it would taste good)
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed to paste
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • chives, finelly chopped

1. First prep the crepe batter by combining all the ingredients. Start with dry ingredients and then gradually add water into it till the batter reach double cream consistently (be careful not to overmix). Refrigerate for an hour or overnight.

2. Boil the eggs.

3. Fry the potatoes in the frying pan with the generous amount of oil.Nicoice salad in a crepe recipe4. Make the salad. Arrange prepped ingredients ready for serving. Sprinkle with chives and seasoning.Nicoice salad in a crepe recipe5. To make vinaigrette combine vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, garlic paste, lemon juice and sugar in the jug. Add salt and pepper to taste. Nicoice salad in a crepe recipe6. Melt the butter in well heated frying pan. Pour one spoonful of crepe batter and immediately start swirling round the pan to get nice even layer. Loosen around the edge with a spatula once the top “dries up”, then turn the crepe and cook for further 1 minute. As you can see its not easy as with lack of gluten these crepes are flaky and therefore easily collapse when flipping. However I am sure lovely crepes can be achieved once you have a bit of practice.Nicoice salad in a crepe recipe7. To serve arrange Nicoise salad on the crepe and scatter more chives on the top.Nicoice salad in a crepe recipeBon Apetitte

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French holiday with friends

French holiday with friends (in Brittany)Back from French holidays last week and I can honestly say these were the best holiday so far since having kids. Although I thought I learned so much already how to do relaxing with kids, I still keep learning on the job. For those who are still struggling to holiday with babies here are my post from few years ago, I can only encourage you that things gets better with kids age.

With older kids you can create play area where they can play independently. Which is why it is so important to pick a place that is child friendly and safe. Self catered houses/villas are the best! Not only that they provide more space for your children, but it also come up much cheaper than hotels. French holiday with friends (in Brittany)We loved eating in as it was so much more relaxing in the evening and that meant we could relax outside while kids are sleeping near by. I have learned (thanks to our friends that went on holidays with us) how simple is to pack lunches which saved us money and time (no need to find a restaurant and wait for a food with impatient kids). It was so much more relaxing just to picnic outside. We were so lucky to have such a good weather!French holiday with friends (in Brittany) We loved local activities such as kayaking and walks by the cannel. So my advice is to pick a location/house that comes with activities you like. That way you can exchange with baby sitting and do fun things in turns!French holiday with friends (in Brittany) French holiday with friends (in Brittany) French holiday with friends (in Brittany) French holiday with friends (in Brittany)French holiday with friends (in Brittany) We stayed in Brittany, near Carhaix-Plougue. It is a very cute and creative town with lots of wall murals around (I am so into #wallmurals right now!!!).French holiday with friends (in Brittany) French holiday with friends (in Brittany) French holiday with friends (in Brittany) French holiday with friends (in Brittany) French holiday with friends (in Brittany) French holiday with friends (in Brittany) French holiday with friends (in Brittany) French holiday with friends (in Brittany) French holiday with friends (in Brittany) French holiday with friends (in Brittany) There was this crochet doily artworks all around the town centre and library. Feeling very inspired just remembering it!French holiday with friends (in Brittany) Of course we also visited the lake and local sea side which was the highlight I think.French holiday with friends (in Brittany) Amber water is not what people tend to get excited about lol, but I did!French holiday with friends (in Brittany) French holiday with friends (in Brittany)Have you started the holiday season yet? Hope my tips help ;-)

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Mint sauce – Lithuanian style!

Mint sauce Lithuanian style recipe So I am in Lithuania waiting for Joni to come and join us here for my brothers wedding. My dad is very eager to impress Joni with his culinary skills and kept asking what Joni would really enjoy to have for dinner when he comes.

Me: I am not too sure, we like a lot of things.

My dad: But what he really really likes?

Me: Ok, ok. I think he would really enjoy a good steak (I would enjoy that too with lots of salad… hmm)

My dad: How about I make roast lamb?

Me: But steak is beef? (why did he even ask if he is planning to make what he likes?)

My dad: So Joni does not like lamb?

Me: He likes lamb too. We like it with mint sauce.

My dad: Ok if I make roast lamb will you make the mint sauce?

Me: Ok sure!

I go and start looking into making some mint sauce. We have plenty of mint in the garden (check), salt (check), apple cider vinegar (Lithuanians are against using vinegar so I decide to try and use lemon instead), sugar (since lemon is sharp in taste I decide to make it more mellow by using some honey that we have plenty of as my dad is a bee keeper).

When Joni arrives my dad start introducing what he is making for dinner.

My dad: here is mussels for starter and here are some beef steaks for dinner.

Me: ????

Me: I thought you are making roast lamb??

My dad: But you said Joni prefers steak??

Me: never mind! I am not going into it.

I make the mint sauce anyways because I am interested how it turns out with lemon and honey. Joni is surprised how close to taste it was. I think I prefer it to the original recipe, because I am Lithuanian after all. I prefer food without vinegar although I do think sometimes it is necessary. Are you interested too how it tastes? Recipe is below.

MINT SAUCE LITHUANIAN STYLE

  • 1 cup compressed mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • pinch salt
  • boiling water
  • 2-4 tbsp lemon juice

1. Place mints, honey, salt and some boiling water and whizz it with the hand processor.Mint sauce Lithuanian style recipe 2. Cool the mint puree and add lemon juice to your taste.Mint sauce Lithuanian style recipe This sauce is not only to use with lamb (although it goes with the lamb best). It can be used in mushy peas, mixed with yogurt to be used with rich stews. Maybe in salad too methinks?Mint sauce Lithuanian style recipeThanks for letting me share, hope this post does not sound too silly.

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Savoury pesto crepes (cheese filling is the best!!!)

Pesto crepes filled with cheese recipeTruth to be told I recently started to dislike mealtimes with my kiddies. Lukas has reached such a fussy age that I can’t predict if the food I make will meet his standards. Can anyone relate to this? And guess what, it’s not a gourmet food he is after. It’s pasta and pancakes that makes him really happy. Ok, we recently found out that he also likes curry, but I shall keep this story for another post. Ok? For now lets talk pancakes… hmmm

I came up with pesto crepes on one of those days when I wanted to keep lunch time casual. You see, sometimes Tomas goes for a nap in the middle of the day, which is why I started using this time to sort the meals out. I prep the dinner (often in slow cooker) and then me and Lukas casually lunch in the kitchen. I sit Lukas up on the counter while I fry some pancakes for him. I find this totally relaxing as I love nibbling on pancakes myself (with a cup of coffee on the side of course). This week I added pesto into the crepe batter which was a game changer. I started imagining how I could add different herbs next time as well  because it is so easy to make your own pesto using different kinds of bases (it can even be spinach!!). And most of all Lukas liked these “pancakes” equally as the plain ones. I made these savoury and filled it with cheese and tomato which was even better.

PESTO CREPES

  • 200g flour
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted (+ more for frying)
  • about 350ml water or milk
  • 4-6 tbsp pesto (doesn’t have to be basil pesto)

1. Place the flour into the bowl together with eggs, sugar, salt and butter. Whisk everything together into a dry mass. While whisking begin pouring the water gradually into the flour mass (not all in one go because you might not need it all). You are aiming for a batter consistency that easily drips down the whisk when held up but still leaves temporary traces when whisked. Pesto crepes filled with cheese recipe 2. Add pesto and mix again to combine.Pesto crepes filled with cheese recipe 3. You will need to fry pancakes in a well heated pan with a little butter. Pour one spoonful of batter into the pan and immediately start swirling round the pan to get a nice even layer. If you are having a cheese filling then add it at this stage as it needs to melt while the crepe is still frying. Pesto crepes filled with cheese recipe Just roll the crepe once the cheese is slightly melted.Pesto crepes filled with cheese recipe Best eaten warm!Casual lunch me and a toddler!Enjoy!

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Kids art Easter biscuits

Kids art Easter cookies diyHands up who is really really looking forward to Easter! We do! Me and kids are in Devon with the grandparents already and we are pretty much ready here (its easy when you are not hosting).

Me and Lukas has been drawing and painting lots recently so I initially thought we will do good old Lithuanian tradition and paint some eggs, but then I decided against it when I thought of shortbread biscuits… hmmm! I thought if I make the biscuits into egg shape then it will be like painting eggs but on the flat surface rather than the round surface (a little less messy I thought). Plus, I thought this is a very good opportunity to try out more of natural food colouring :-).Kids art Easter cookies DIYKIDS ART EASTER BISCUITS

(for biscuits)

  • 240g butter, softened
  • 200g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 500g flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 4tbsp milk

(for the “paint”)

  • 4tbsp icing sugar, sifted
  • water
  • 1tsp beetroot powder for pink
  • 1/2tsp turmeric powder for yellow
  • 1tsp matcha powder for green

1. Place all the biscuits ingredients into the mixer and switch it on for few min till everything turns into nice soft dough. At this point you can wrap the dough and place it in the fridge for the next day or freezer for whenever you need it in the future.

2. Flour the surface and the rolling pin and roll the dough about 7 mm thick. Using biscuit cutter or a cup/glass cut the circles in the dough. Once the circles are out of the dough roll it once more again (only one way) to make an oval shape.

Kids art Easter biscuits DIY 3. You can involve your kid at this point. Lukas was treating the dough as he would the play-dough.

4. Place all the dough shapes into lined baking tray and bake them in C200 preheated oven for 10min.Kids art Easter biscuits DIY 5. Meanwhile make the “paint”! gradually add water into the icing sugar until you are happy with the consistency. Split the icing into four cups so you can make up few different colours. Add each colouring to the separate cup and mix. Kids art Easter biscuits DIY 5. Initially I showed Lukas how to brush the “paint” onto biscuits…Kids art Easter biscuits DIY but soon after he realised it is so much more fun to drizzle and splatter the paint over the biscuits. I totally agree, these remind me of Jackson Pollock paintings.Kids art Easter biscuits DIY Kids art Easter biscuits DIY Kids art Easter biscuits DIYHave a very lovely Easter everyone xx

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Watercolour challenge: jungle

Watercolour challenge: inspired by jungle To be completely honest it was very hard to come back to painting but once I started I really felt piece and joy. I felt inspired by the plants that I saw on our holiday in Dominican Republic. Tropical climate plants are so so pretty!!! I am inspired to have some of them at my home some day, but for now they can at least live on my walls.

As usual I started with the method in mind I wanted to try. This time I wanted to try watercolour combined with the wax crayons. I remember first time I fell in love with the watercolour is when my Finish art teacher showed me how crayons makes paper waterproof and when watercolour is painted on top of it, the wax of crayon blocks from colouring (mixing with) the drawing leaving the colour it was but colouring all around it instead. This technique really fascinated me back then which is why I wanted to try it out again. In the painting above I drew the core lines with the crayon and painted leafs on top of it. I was pretty pleased with the outcome. The lines kept its sharp green shade!Watercolour challenge: inspired by jungle Watercolour challenge: inspired by jungleThe plant in the pic above have been my favourite so far! Although I don’t feel I depicted it well in my painting…Watercolour challenge: inspired by jungle Painting this curly leaf plant was quite fun! I love making repetitive patterns and painting these wiggly lines been real pleasure.Watercolour challenge: inspired by jungle Watercolour challenge: inspired by jungle Watercolour challenge: inspired by jungle To add some colour (not only paint in green) I tried painting this pink flower. I feel this was not my best painting so far. And look at all this mess I made in my watercolour palette! I wonder if other artist end up like that. Although I have seen other people just using water colour from the little tubes and mixing palette on separate piece of paper. I wonder if it is worth investing in fresh collection of water paint, hmm…Watercolour challenge: inspired by jungle Watercolour challenge: inspired by jungle For my next botanical painting I decided to use pencil instead (and rub it off after), that way I thought I will improve my shading technique. I divided the leaf into different segments that are “coloured in” separately and therefore shading is visible (hopefully). This painting took 2-3 hours, but it was so so worth it. I am in love!Watercolour challenge: inspired by jungle Watercolour challenge: inspired by jungle Finally this was a quick painting, I used pencil to mark the stalk of the fern and leaf in watercolour. I don’t know why, but this is my another favourite, so simple but so beautiful at the same time!Watercolour challenge: inspired by jungleThanks for letting me share my experiences here re my new found passion :-)

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Natural frosting birthday cake

Spiced honey cake with turmeric soft cheese frosting & plum jam filling Few weeks ago we celebrated Tomas birthday, which is why I baked the cake. Anyone who knows me I like the cakes with minimum frosting, made with natural ingredients and most of all I like good flavours. This cake ticks all the boxes for me!!

When I was thinking of Tomas birthday party theme I was thinking of something cheerful, exciting and bold (exactly how I would imagine Tomas when he grows up). This is why I thought bright yellow frosting on the cake would be ideal. But what natural colouring could I use for a bright yellow? I did not need to think for too long, I suddenly remembered the power of turmeric that is vibrant with not much taste to it. The flavour of the cake followed of course. I thought what goes better with turmeric then other spices such as cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. I was completely right, when testing the cake I realised everything just work really well together. I used plum jam to neutralise the taste of richness which also turned out a very good choice.

Hope I got you seduced to try to bake this cake yourself. You will find the recipe below ;-).Spiced honey cake with turmeric soft cheese frosting & plum jam filling HONEY SPICED CAKE WITH TURMERIC FROSTING AND PLUM JAM FILLING

(for the cake)

  • 200g butter
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 100g dark brown sugar
  • 170g honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 260ml milk
  • 325g flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 3tsp mixed spice
  • finelly grated zest of 2 oranges

(for the frosting)

  • 150g softened butter
  • 150g soft cheese
  • 150g icing sugar, plus a bit more for white frosting
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 jar plum jam

1. Over the hob melt the butter together with sugars and honey till everything is incorporated and the sugar is dissolved.

2. Add the rest of the cake ingredients and mix again to combine everything well.Spiced honey cake with turmeric soft cheese frosting & plum jam filling 3. Split the cake mixture into two ready tins (same size, springform are the best). Bake in 150C preheated oven for 1h and 15min.Spiced honey cake with turmeric soft cheese frosting & plum jam filling 4. Sandwich the cake with some plum jam. My tip is to put the cake upside down so the top is completely flat (really felpful when you do frosting).Spiced honey cake with turmeric soft cheese frosting & plum jam filling 5. To make the frosting place all the ingredients except turmeric into the mixer and let it run for few minutes. Put few table spoons of frosting aside for the white frosting. Add turmeric and let the mixer do its job one more time.  Spiced honey cake with turmeric soft cheese frosting & plum jam filling 6. Next job is to apply the frosting. I always add almost all the frosting on top to begin with and then push it down gently to the sides and then I work with frosting palette knife to the top again (I make the frosting thin for a reason so it flows easily). Once the base frosting is done I recommend to place the cake into the fridge so it sets.Spiced honey cake with turmeric soft cheese frosting & plum jam filling 7. Meanwhile add more icing sugar to the frosting left on the side. Continue adding the sugar till you are satisfied with the stiffness of the cream. Transfer white frosting into the piping bag with large round nozzle attached. Carefully pipe your decorations on the cake.Spiced honey cake with turmeric soft cheese frosting & plum jam filling 8. Finally decorate with any cake toppers. I used water balloons to make these mini balloon cake toppers which made the cake look very fun like I expected :-).Spiced honey cake with turmeric soft cheese frosting & plum jam filling Spiced honey cake with turmeric soft cheese frosting & plum jam filling Hope you like it too!!

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