Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Banana bread is a staple in our household. Growing up in the Philippines, it was an excellent way to use leftover bananas, since the recipe needs overripe bananas.

The great thing about this recipe is that you could tweak it to make it lactose free or whole wheat without affecting the taste. The only thing I would insist on is to use soft brown sugar or muscovado sugar, because it gives the bread a great brown color. If you like nuts, feel free to add pecans or walnuts.

Ingredients:

2-4 overripe bananas, 1/3 cup melted butter or margarine, 1 cup muscovado sugar, 1 beaten egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon baking soda, a pinch of salt, and 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour. 1/3 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely cut (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 175° C. Peel bananas and place in a large bowl, and cut up/mash with a wooden spoon or a potato masher. Mix in sugar, egg, and vanilla. Mix the flour with the baking soda and salt in the measuring cup, and mix it into the wet ingredients. Add the nuts, if using. Pour into a 4×8 inch silicone loaf pan, and bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown and a stick tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack, remove from the pan and slice.

Bali Ubud–Erfurt

Chicken Satay

The restaurant landscape in Erfurt has welcomed a new international addition with the opening of Bali Ubud, an Indonesian, specifically Balinese restaurant that has been open for almost a year now.

I was worried that it wouldn’t appeal to the locals, since Indonesian food doesn’t conform to what Germans think of as “Asian” food. But it seems like Erfurters, or those who live in the city, are a more curious sort. The restaurant is well received, and is full of people around lunchtime. It’s prime location, full of foot traffic, certainly has a lot to do with it.

Having eaten twice here, I could say that the dishes are authentic, while tweaking it just a little to suit European tastes. They use ingredients that Europeans are familiar with. So nothing weird like fish paste on the menu.

The dishes are very filling, and they do vegetables well. Their Chicken Satay was a bit dry, though, and their Kopi Luwak was…watered down?  I really hope not. Maybe Kopi Luwak is really just mellow. I love the interior design of the place, they really did a good job of taking Balinese elements and evoking a tropical oasis in the middle of cold Europe.

If you’re in town and curious to try something new, drop by

Bali Ubud Restaurant

Marktstrasse 45
99084 Erfurt

The Sharing Economy

Chicken a la King

Something really cool happened to me last month.

I had leftover broccoli and a few potatoes and tomatoes from dinner the night before, so I decided to make an improvised Chicken a la King. I still had leftover whipping cream in the fridge that needed using, and some canned button mushrooms in the cupboard. I went to the supermarket and bought a 250 g pack of chicken breast, which I diced and boiled in three cups of salted water.

I melted three tablespoons of butter/clarified butter in a pan, added the vegetables. Drained the mushrooms, tossed them in. Added three tablespoons of flour and made a roux. Poured in the cream little by little, alternating with the chicken broth from the diced chicken. Added in the chicken pieces and let it simmer uncovered for five minutes. Then seasoned it with pepper and fish sauce (trust me, it tastes better).

It’s hard cooking in what is practically a single-person household. So here comes the best part. I posted the leftover of the leftover dinner on a food sharing Facebook group. A lady with a kid took the leftovers from my hands. And had a great dinner with her kid.

It felt so good that I ended up not eating the same thing three days in a row. Even better was that I got to help out another mom. I might be posting on that group more often!

Kouritis / Erfurt

 

Kouritis Erfurt

I really like getting invited to restaurants because it gives me the opportunity to try out new places and new cuisines.

There used to be a stall at the Cathedral Square in Erfurt that sold Cretan products. They had olive oil, thyme honey, and cheeses from the island of Crete. It was run by a couple–he was Cretan, she German–who then decided to open a restaurant.

It has been open for over a year now, and this is normally a make.or-break time period for a restaurant. If the novelty wears off and you still get a ton of customers, it means that you’ve made it! It looks like they did.

I was part of a party of ten. We decided against ordering individual dishes and got several platters of Cretan specialties instead. So we had the meat platter, the appetizer platter (consisting of dips for the baskets of bread brought by the hosts), the cheese platter and the seafood platter, just to get a vibe of the restaurant.

The atmosphere was great! Cozy place in the heart of the city–it’s better to pay more rent since the traffic that you get pays more than enough. I really liked the dips. And the fries were just luxurious–and not only because it was deep-fried in extra virgin olive oil! The meat was a bit on the dry side, but I liked the pork belly a lot.

Over-all, it was excellent advertising for the owner’s home village in Crete. The interiors were cozy, filled with old family pictures, and a photo album was passed around, which showed the guests who made what. The Olive oil they sell, for example, comes from the olive grove of the owner’s cousin. The honey is organic and comes from a family friend.

The cuisine wasn’t really my cup of tea, but I would visit it just to keep the variety in Erfurt’s restaurant landscape. And also for the freshly-squeezed orange juice.

 

Kouritis Erfurt

Grafengasse 30, 99084 Erfurt

Reservations at info@suedkretaschaetze.de or at +49 361 657 09636

 

 

Advent, Advent, Ein Lichtlein Brennt

Christmas Wreath

I am a big sucker for tradition. This year was no different, except for the fact that The Kid has reached an age where there are things that MUST be done. He has fully embraced Christmas, and was so excited to trim this year’s tree.

Believe it or not, my six-year old decorated the advent wreath you see above. All by himself! I may have added a few touches, putting in the candles and bundling up the pine switches around the hay base.

I am so proud to see The Kid blossom into his own person, expressing his tastes and using his creativity to decorate for Christmas. It makes me even more excited for December 25!

Lightning Mc Queen Cake

 

Lightning Mc Queen Cake

So a birthday boy needed a birthday cake. This is the first time that I pulled off something like this! The process is chronicled on my Instagram account (click right!). Thank my lucky stars that fondant is now readily available in supermarkets in Germany. It’s not perfect, but it took me a week to put this together (It would’ve been shorter if I didn’t spend the day hacking my brains out! I was seriously ill with the flu.)

I baked my go to chocolate buttermilk cake for this one. I baked three times the amount of the recipe, and split the batter between two 9×13 inch pans and one 8×8 inch square brownie pan. I also used Magnolia bakery’s chocolate buttercream icing recipe. You would need 1 and ahalf to two portions of the icing to cover the cake.  But you can use whatever cake/frosting recipe you prefer. After baking and cooling the cakes, I stacked the second cake over the first cake, the second cake upside down so that the flat bottom was facing up, using the icing to keep them together. Then I iced 2/3rds of the top layer, and stacked the square cake on it.

I carved the cake using a bread knife for the general shape, and a small steak knife for the refining details. Then I “dirty iced” the cake to keep all the crumbs in, and left it outside, covered with a stiff shopping bag, to freeze. The real reason I prefer baking in winter is because I don’t have a box freezer, and I could just leave it outside when the recipe calls for freezing or refrigerating.

The night the cake spent outside should sufficiently stabilize the cake enough to support the heavy fondant. I needed two big bricks of red fondant, one medium sized brick of black, another medium sized brick of white, and some blue.

The biggest discovery I made so far was pens with food coloring ink to paint the sides and logos! It was really helpful. The wheels were made by pressing an espresso cup into the black fondant, smothing it out with my hands, and sticking it to the sides of the cake.

The kids ended up not liking the cake, and treated it more like a sculpture than food. but hey, it was a great learning experience.

David Lebovitz’s Dulce de Leche Tart

I would like to thank my friend in Berlin for sending me the recipe for this delicious tart. I am sorry that I didn’t do such a good job with the photos, but it tasted really good! I pinky swear it!

The fact that you can now buy cheap, ready made Dulce de Leche from Rewe was the reason I decided to make this tart for my birthday. And I wanted to test my brand new mixer 😀  Since I didn’t have a pie dish with a detachable bottom, I had to make peace with the fact that I wasn’t gonna lift perfect slices, despite oiling the pie dish very heavily.

If you don’t have pie weights, you could use dried beans, like chickpea. I used mung beans, which you could in turn make into guinataang munggo (remind me to share you the recipe one day).

The recipe was published in David’s book My Paris Kitchen. This is how I made this tart

For the Crust: 6 Tablespoons/ 85 g butter (preferably salted) at room temperature or softer, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 large egg yolk, 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp. flaky sea salt, and 1 Tablespoon water (optional)

Filling: 230 g chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, 2 large eggs, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1 cup (240 g) dulce de leche, and flaky sea salt for sprinkling.

Make the crust before the filling. Using a stand or hand-held mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter with the powdered sugar at low speed, until smooth. Mix in the yolk, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl.

In another bowl, whisk the flour and the cocoa powder together, and add to the butter mixture until the dough comes together. If it looks dry, add a tablespoon of water (which I did). Roll into a ball. Pull a plate- sized (about 15 inches by 15 inches) portion of saran wrap (cling film) on a flat surface, place the dough ball on it, flatten a bit with the heel of your hand and wrap the dough in the film.  Set aside for 30 minutes. You can also use a clean plastic bag, it is probably easier.

After 30 minutes, roll the dough relatively flat in the bag or unwrap the dough, place another sheet of cling film over it, and roll with a rolling pin. When the dough is wide enough to cover a 9 inch (23 cm) pie or tart ring with a removable bottom, remove the top sheet, place the dough in the tart ring by flipping it in using the plastic film for stability, and try to evenly cover the walls of the dish by pressing your fingers at the dough located at the bottom and sides of the dish and pushing the dough up the walls, until the rim. Sprinkle the sea salt over the dough and press it into the pastry. Cover the tart ring with the wrap you used to roll it in, and freeze for 30 minutes. Colder temperatures means that I could just open the balcony door and let it rest outside.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Once the 30 minutes are up, line the dough with aluminum foil and cover the bottom with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 30 minutes, remove the foil and the weights, and bake for 5 more minutes, until the shell feels set. Take the shell out of the oven and reduce the heat to 150°C.

During the waiting/baking period you can get cracking on the filling. Melt the chocolate in a bain-Marie, remove the bowl from heat once melted, and set a strainer on top.

Whisk the eggs into a bowl. Heat the milk in a saucepan until just warm, and whisk the milk into the eggs. Not too warm, we don’t want the eggs to scramble! Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spatula or a wire whisk, until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Pour the custard through the strainer into the chocolate, and add the vanilla, stirring until smooth.

Carefully spread the Dulce de Leche over the hot tart shell in an even layer. It helps to let the Dulce sit for 30 seconds before spreading, the warmth of the tart bottom will soften the cream enough, making it easier to spread. Set the tart sheet on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, then carefully pur the chocolate custard over the dulce de leche. Smooth the top, and sprinkle with more salt.

Bake the tart for 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the tart with the door closed for 25 minutes more.

You can remove it from the oven and let cool before serving. I just let the tart in the oven overnight and served it to my guests the day after.

David recommends serving it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, but the tart is so filling, I don’t think you will need more sweet! The crust tastes a lot like Oreo cookies, so it was really addictive.