How great was this weekend. I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my lovely mother in law, Martina, because my husband went on a 'Men Winter Vacation' to Austria. It's something that has become more like a tradition in the family: My father in law and his sons + snow + skiing= FUN.

The highlight of my weekend was that I got to meet a group of beautiful and wonderful women, that also happen to be devotedly followers and readers of this blog. They came here to Germany, all the way from Austria, to attend the biggest creative fair in Europe: Creativa... I had a lovely time with all of you, and it was a pleasure to finally meet you in person. You're all incredible people! (And I also include here Martina and the sweet Marianne 'Nanni').

So... French Apple Tart. It can't get more simple and delicious. This tart is light, fresh and perfect for summer.


For this recipe, I used Granny Smith apples because they're crispy, sour and make the perfect contrast with the sweet pastry.


For the crust, make sure the butter is really cold when incorporating into the rest of the ingredients. Wrap with plastic and let it stand in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. 


At first it can be a little hard to handle the dough, but let it rest for 10 minutes at room temperature and it'll be just fine. Try to make a thin crust and remember to make the fork marks so the pastry doesn't get too puffy while baking.


The key to a smooth and crispy apple tart is to make really fine slices of apple. We want them to cook easily and get a little crust too. Arrange them over the pastry trying to form a fan, starting from the outside and working in. Something like this:


If you notice the apples start getting a little brown, sprinkle some lemon drops, it helps avoid oxidation. Now pour a generous amount of brown sugar and tiny cubes of cold butter on top of the apples.


Bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 190ºC- 200ºC or until apple edges are brown and crispy. Let it cool for 10 minutes and spread warm clear jam on top. You can microwave jam for some seconds, so it gets smoother and easier to work with.


Finish it with crushed walnuts or almonds for that extra crunchiness... Enjoy!



FRENCH APPLE TART

Preparation Time: 1 hour
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Servings: One Tart

For the crust

1 1/4 cups  all- purpose flour
1/2 cup  cold unsalted butter
1/2 tsp  salt
3 tsp  sugar
4 tbs  ice cold water

For the tart

2  finely sliced apples (I recommend Granny Smith or Braeburn) 
2 tbs  cold unsalted butter (tiny cubes)
3 tbs  brown sugar (you can also use regular)
Apricot or light-colored jam
Walnuts or almonds

Preparation:

1. In a bowl or food processor, mix flour, cold butter, salt and sugar. Beat for 2 to 3 times, scrapping bowl sides, until a dough or paste begins to form. Start adding ice cold water and mix until everything is incorporated. Remember that the dough should still look crumbly. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
2. After refrigerating, let the dough stand for 10 minutes at room temperature. Start working dough into a flat and smooth paste and with the help of your finger tips, arrange it evenly on your tart pan. With a fork, make marks to prevent air pockets from forming while it bakes.
3. Slice apples finely and sprinkle with some lemon to prevent oxidation. Arrange them over the pastry trying to form a fan, starting from the outside and working in. Pour brown sugar and tiny butter cubes on top.
4. Bake tart for 35 to 40 minutes at 190ºC- 200ºC or until apple edges are brown and crispy.
5. Let it cool for 10 minutes and spread (previous microwaved) warm jam on tart, making sure it's perfectly coated.
6. Top with crushed walnuts or almonds... and enjoy!




















I could finally make this recipe thanks to my good friend Maria. One day we were sharing ideas about creative vegetarian recipes and I was complaining about how hard was it for me to find tahini here in Germany. So three weeks later she decided to prove me wrong and gave me a bottle... She's such a sweet and cool person. Maria, I know how much you love Hummus, so this recipe is for you my friend... I hope you like it!


So... in case you don't know, tahini is basically a paste of sesame seeds and is used mostly in the Middle Eastern cuisine. Tahini is one of the main ingredients in this recipe.

This bottle you see, is the bottle Maria gave me... and my first time cooking with tahini.


A great tip for a really creamy hummus is to process first the tahini paste itself for 1 minute. Then add the lemon juice and process for 30 seconds. Believe me, you don't want to miss this step, it will define the creaminess of the texture.


Let's talk about the garbanzo beans. Like I've said before, when I did the Falafel recipe, you have two options: canned garbanzos or dried ones. I always go with the canned ones because they're easier to get and more practical. But remember, you have to be patient when peeling the garbanzos. It's really an important step, especially when you want your hummus to be smooth and creamy.


After the tahini is smooth, start adding the garbanzos slowly and in small portions. Process for 30 seconds in between each portion until completely incorporated. Remember to add the water meanwhile the mix is processing. This will prevent the mixture from getting dry or too thick. 


When the tahini and the garbanzo beans are processed, the mix should look like this:


When it's done, transfer from the processor to a nice bowl and drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle some ground paprika or chilli for decoration.


I hope you liked this recipe and give it a try. I'm sure you won't be disappointed!


HUMMUS

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Servings: One bowl

Ingredients

1 (15oz/425g) can  garbanzo beans
1/4 cup  freshly pressed lemon juice
1/4 cup  tahini
1/4 cup  olive oil
1  garlic clove
1 tsp  ground cumin 
1/2 to 1 tsp  salt
1/2 tsp  ground black pepper
2 to 3 tbsp water
Ground paprika for decoration

Preparation

1. Add the tahini in a food processor and mix for 1 minute. With a spatula, scrape sides of bowl and add the lemon juice, then process for 30 seconds. 
2. Mince garlic clove. Add minced garlic, cumin, salt, ground black pepper and olive oil to the tahini mixture, then process for 30 seconds. Scrape sides of bowl and process again.
3. Start incorporating the garbanzo beans slowly and in small portions. Process for 30 seconds in between each portion. Meanwhile the mix is processing, add the water.
4. Transfer from processor to a bowl and drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with ground paprika or chilli for decoration.
5. Enjoy!



When I think about 'crostinis', sicilian tomatoes and fresh mozzarella come to my mind. I always tend to relate them with salty toppings, such as meats, cheeses and vegetables.

A crostini (originally named 'crostino') is an italian appetizer that consists of a slice of toasted bread with different toppings.

What I love about this recipe are the sweet ingredients that top these crostinis. The sweetness of the pear combined with the creaminess of the ricotta... mmhhh!


I really enjoy how the walnuts taste with the honey, but you can also use the nuts of your preference.


There are several types of pears, for this recipe I used the traditional one (Green d'Anjou). It's sweet, soft and makes a great balance with the other ingredients.


So, for the crostinis... Just cut the baguette into thin slices, drizzle a little olive oil on top. Bake for 10 minutes at 180 Cº and then sprinkle salt and ground black pepper to taste.


Spread the creamy ricotta over the crostinis. In case you don't like or find ricotta cheese, you can also make a good improvisation with mascarpone.


Top the ricotta crostinis with the thin pear slices and the crushed walnuts. Drizzle with golden honey and eat immediately. Give it a try and surprise yourself!



PEAR RICOTTA WALNUT HONEY CROSTINI

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 20 to 23 crostinis

Ingredients

1  baguette
1 cup  good ricotta cheese
1  pear
Crushed walnuts
Golden honey
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper 
Olive oil

Preparation

1. Cut the baguette into thin slices. Drizzle them with olive oil and bake for 8 to 10 minutes at 180 Cº or until golden brown and crunchy. Sprinkle salt and ground black pepper to taste.
2. Spread ricotta cheese on crostinis. Be generous.
3. Slice finely the pear and add about 1- 2 slices per crostini. 
4. Sprinkle with some crushed walnuts and drizzle with honey.
5. Eat immediately or while it's crunchy and warm. Enjoy!










I love this salad... It just tastes like summer. With all the fresh vegetables and the zesty lemon flavor, this recipe is great for a perfect sunny day. And if you live in a place where the sun doesn't like to show up that much... then this salad will bring summer back to you!


You can also use lime instead of lemon, but the second one brings a little more sweetness to the mix. I used parsley but it also works pretty well with Cilantro.


Okay, so for the sweet corn there are two options: canned or fresh. Both work fine, you just need to make sure corn grains are tender and dry before roasting them.

Now, you can either roast them in the oven or on a pan. I've tried both and for me the pan roast had better results. Why? Because with the oven it takes so long and the grains get too dry. With the pan, the grains get brown but still tender and juicy.


The corn grains should look just a little bit brown, we want them roasted, not burnt. Before adding them to the rest of the ingredients, you need to make sure the grains are completely cooled.


I recommend you to use a food processor for making the vinaigrette. This will make a creamier consistency. 

Make sure to use a good quality feta cheese. This ingredient contrasts perfect with the sweetness of the corn and creates a great balance of flavors.


Mix all the fresh ingredients and bound them with the lemon vinaigrette. Then sprinkle on top with the feta crumbles.


Serve in bowls and decorate with a lemon slice. Enjoy and have fun cooking! ;)



ROASTED SWEET CORN SALAD WITH LEMON VINAIGRETTE

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2 bowls

For the Sweet Corn Salad

2 cups  sweet corn grains
1 1/2  medium tomatoes 
1  small red onion
1/4 cup  fresh chopped parsley
1/4 cup  feta cheese crumbles
Salt
Black pepper
*You can also use 1 chopped, seedless and veinless jalapeño pepper. (for the extra flavor)

For the Lemon Vinaigrette

1/4 cup  olive oil
2 tbs  fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp  dijon mustard
Salt 
Fresh ground black pepper

Preparation

1. On a pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add corn grains and roast for 5 minutes on medium-high. Transfer roasted grains on a plate and let them cool. Reserve.
2. Finely chop tomatoes, onions and fresh parsley. 
3. In the food processor, mix the olive oil, dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Process for 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth and creamy.
4. In a bowl, mix cooled roasted corn grains, chopped tomatoes, onions and parsley. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss. 
5. Sprinkle feta cheese crumbles on top.
6. Enjoy!










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