Posted by: Anja | September 24, 2011

Honey Walnut Cake

Monday I had a craving for cake. I didn’t bake any these last couple of months, so I guess it has been building up for some time and had to be released at some point. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have many things to work with since the kitchen I can use right now does not provide too many things that I’d deem usually necessary. So basically I dipped into my left-over stocks from Italy and actually managed to assemble a simple (small) cake that did its job completely.

This cake is nothing fancy, but it’s designed for the purpose of providing you with a nice, sweet treat without putting too much effort into creating the cake. The honey gives it a nice taste and it keeps the cake from being boring, adding the walnuts was an idea on my side since the original recipe proposed almonds, but I think walnuts also fit perfectly and provide some contrast in the structure. Also, I didn’t have any almonds. ;)

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Posted by: Anja | September 19, 2011

Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Soup

Guess what? I’m cooking again! I’ve been to Italy for three months which in general when it comes to food should be a good thing, right? So why is it, that I didn’t post many new recipes during that time? Simple answer: If you share a kitchen with 17 other people, you first of all don’t have the privacy to bounce in circles around your dish with a camera without feeling stupid and second of all just kind of want to get in and out because everyone’s cramming into the kitchen and there’s no air to breathe. And I’m not exaggerating!

Other than that, my stay in Italy food-wise was absolutely amazing. I got to appreciate cheese in so many variations – I actually like ricotta now and am able to eat strong cheese as dessert, I had so many different kinds of pizza (love white pizza!) and pasta (love all kinds of pasta!), and everything’s just so cheap in restaurants! In Naples, I had a really good pizza for 4€, imagine that!

Okay, enough elaborating on past food adventures, it’s back to business. I know that this soup doesn’t look too special, but it’s okay, right? Actually, while I was making it I was talking to my brother and we came to the conclusion that it would be much better if you would just see the output and not the progress. I mean it doesn’t look too bad in the roasting phase, but the simmering phase when you scrape the eggplant from its skin and dump it into the broth to simmer, that’s just kind of weird. Nevertheless, it’s a really nice soup. My mum commented that it could have used some more tomatoes, but I don’t think so since then the eggplant would drown. I think of it as a tomatoes-containing-alternative with not too many tomatoes to a tomato soup. Does that make sense? :D

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Posted by: Anja | July 18, 2011

Raisin and Walnut Biscotti

Baking time! The feeling that I actually really want to bake something right at this moment comes over me from time to time and thank God, I’m prepared for many recipes out of habit. For example pancakes or crêpes ingredients are something that I keep in my cupboards at all times. I seriously can’t live without my baking powder, flour, eggs, butter and milk. When I was in the supermarket the last time, I actually discovered some dried fruits and nuts, so when I got the baking feeling this time around, I could do something a little bit more fancy: Biscotti!

Yes, I’m in Italy right now so it is only right that I bake some biscotti, which is actually the Italian version of a cookie. At least the ingredients are very similar to a cookie, the creation process differs a little bit. Biscotti are eaten with a nice cup of tea or coffee in the early afternoon – since I got that itch for baking at lunch, they were actually my lunch. I know, I know, not really healthy, but I simply was in the mood for it and I think it’s allowed to slip from time to time. :)

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Posted by: Anja | July 6, 2011

Whole Wheat Pita Bread

Yesterday when I got up, I was wondering how I’d survive the day. I knew that I barely had some food left in my refrigerator – a couple of eggs, some tomatoes and cheese, but that’s not my usual breakfast, lunch or dinner but a sorry excuse for it. Then I remembered: I have yeast! Discovered with the help of my Italian friends in a small super market close to the university here after searching for hours without any success in a bigger supermarket, I convinced myself that it was time to bake bread again. Stop. I don’t have any all-purpose flour! Damn! But I have whole wheat flour! There are no recipes with only whole wheat flour! Well, just change them! Thought and done, so here’s my version of making pita bread with whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour.

Bread in general takes a lot of time and can be annoying to make simply because you have to run to the kitchen at appointed times, punching dough and turning it around seemingly for no reason until you finally get to put it into the oven. I won’t say that it’s completely worth the effort, but if you’re at home like me waiting for the computer repair person and can’t go out of the house, it is definitely a good thing if you know how to bake bread so that you won’t go hungry. Because there are not much ingredients in bread, mostly stuff that everyone should keep around the house anyway in my opinion, it is always a reliable fallback option.

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Posted by: Anja | June 27, 2011

Steamed Fish

Fish is something that I rarely prepare for myself. Why? I don’t really know, but I guess I usually think of it as something special. But it really isn’t. Actually, fish is less extravagant than meat as meat comes in different forms and shapes and sizes, fish just comes as filet. And that’s it. Also, you usually don’t do anything extraordinary with fish but just let it steam, cook or grill with just a hint of seasoning as to not overlay the taste of the fish. It’s actually kind of boring, isn’t it?

I’m not advocating that all the dishes that I make have to be exciting and crazy, some of them are simple and straightforward. It’s not necessary to have a complicated dish to make it taste good. This recipe falls into the category of simple but tasty and if you have a real oven (and not just some small Italian pseudo oven ;) ), you’ll be able to make a nice fish dinner in no time.

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Posted by: Anja | June 19, 2011

Mushroom Lasagna

When I cook, I rarely use meat mostly because I don’t think it makes sense to buy meat when I cook for myself as it always comes in huge amounts and I’d have to either eat a lot or throw away half of it. That’s why most of my meat dishes are actually dishes that I make for my friends like lasagna bolognese. This classic kind of lasagna was actually one of the first dishes I learned to cook from scratch and it’s something I can cook in my sleep by now. It’s fun, but this time I wanted to try a vegetarian variation of lasagna: mushroom lasagne.

It’s even simpler than lasagna bolognese because really the only thing you have to do differently is to replace the bolognese sauce with sauteed mushrooms, which is just so much easier! This recipe makes enough to fill a medium-sized casserole for about four people.

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Posted by: Anja | June 16, 2011

Marbled Muffins

As prologue the usual “I’m sorry that I didn’t write, I had too much on my plate but I swear that I’ll be better in the future…”.

That done, let’s move on to the important things in life: Muffins! I used to make these muffins years ago before I got into healthy food and last week a friend of mine asked me to make them again. Knowing that in my future there’ll be a lot of warnings by my own conscience if I bake these for myself, I jumped at the chance to bake them as they were for someone else. I just ate them out of necessity.

These muffins are basically a rich, marbled cake as common in Germany in muffin form. I actually checked my ingredients list for both cake and muffins and they contain exactly the same ingredients in nearly the same amounts. Except that the cake is a little bit more dense. Also, the recipe for the marble muffins is very simple and I often used it as a base for simple dark chocolate chip muffins. Still, just reading the ingredient list makes warning bells ring in my head. I guess I have to come up with a more healthy version on my own. Until then I recommend these as delightful sin that you shouldn’t excessively eat. ;)

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Posted by: Anja | April 24, 2011

Waffles with Nuts

Currently I have one goal concerning my preparation of food: Get rid of everything that I have in my refrigerator! Yes, I’ll be giving up cooking for a couple of weeks to follow wherever the road takes me. In one week, I have to move out of my current apartment, a week later I’ll be starting my travels along the west coast of the US. I don’t think that I’ll be able to do a lot of cooking during the next couple of weeks for an obvious reason: I don’t have a kitchen!

So right now, I seriously try to use everything that I have accumulated over all these months, though I think it’s hopeless. There’s just so many things that I’ve used once or twice and never since, which I’ll just pass on to my friends, hoping that they’ll make better use of it than I did. For example I discovered an unopened bottle of balsamic vinegar today – definitely not going to open it now. Other things that I used rarely: coconut flakes, almond essence, soy sauce and sesame oil. The last one I actually love, but you simply can’t use it often and in large amounts because it has such a distinct taste. Oh right, I got sesame as well in its common form. I think I used it once for baking bread. Yes, I can be a little bit uneconomic when it comes to food, because my mind sometimes switches into “I really want to make that, I don’t care if I have leftovers”-mode. Not actually that good for a grad student, but somehow I manage to use most of it though often in a rather spontaneous manner, where I think “Oh shit, I have to eat this before it’s not good anymore” and then go out and buy new stuff to go together with the old stuff. It’s an evil circle!

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Posted by: Anja | April 14, 2011

Whole Wheat Banana Pecan Pancakes

… long title, isn’t it? Sounds fancy! :D

A friend of mine pointed out to me a couple of months back that my food is really heavy when it comes to using sugar and butter. I guess he is right and that’s actually not good, which is why I have decided to reduce the amounts of sugar and butter in my dishes. Expect healthier food!

Actually, the last pound of sugar that I completely used up has lasted for three weeks. Which is amazing considering that I make pancakes/waffles/crêpes etc. three times a week plus additional cakes, muffins and so on. It’s a first step. :)
The pancakes you can see in the picture above are also rather healthy: whole wheat flour, no butter and barely any sugar make them healthy, but they are still pancakes and I wouldn’t post them here if they weren’t tasty. Yeah, I had some skepticism concerning whole wheat flour in pancakes, but if all pancakes turn out like this if I just switch to whole wheat, I’d be okay with it!

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Posted by: Anja | April 12, 2011

Broccoli, Walnut and Parmesan Pasta

First of all: This recipe needs improvement. Nevertheless, I’ve decided to put it up here, because it has potential. That said, let’s switch to off topics. I haven’t been doing a lot of cooking or baking recently because of too much lab time and too much temptation to go out to dinner instead of eating at home. Also, I don’t like eating a full meal at 10pm, which has been the time I have returned home recently.

Yeah, I know, I’m whining. Bla bla! :) I don’t care! Sometimes I need to whine and that’s what blogs are there for, right? They exist to express yourself and your opinions, so you can either read this or just skip directly to the bottom of this entry and read the recipe for the pasta.

… Still reading? Well, I’m done whining for today, focusing now on the food: It’s a lot of stuff mixed together and I think the recipe works as it is now, but you _have_ to drink something to go with it, because it’s too dry else. Therefore, I have a couple of suggestions at the bottom of this recipe on how to make it a little less dry. Also: If anyone tries this recipe, feel free to comment on it and tell me whether it worked for you or how you would change it.

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