Dec 27, 2009

Challenging myself: Daring Bakers December Challenge Gingerbread (Bird) House

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.


This was a fun challenge especially since I as a child each year had a gingerbread house. My grandmother made the best one.  You could not eat the house itself but believe me she put enough candy onto this things to last into the next year.

I am always amazed that grownups can get this exited about a little dough if they can build a candy covered house with it.

From the start it was clear that I would first build one with each of my boys.

I wanted something different and at the same time I wanted to follow the challenge so my gingerbread house is a gingerbread birdhouse.

The kid decorated it and even if I wanted to make something more grown up it just was more fun this way.

So how about building your own?

Do it, if you have kids do it with them. And don`t forget to let them eat at least the candy. You can find everything you need here.

See you next time.



Dec 19, 2009

Going Christmas Crazy: My Version of Christmas Rocky Road

I adore Nigella and I love to watch this beautiful woman on TV, I watch her while reading, I watch her while I clean  the mess that is our flat. She cooks what I would cook if I had the money and a family that would eat something this sophisticated.

I adore her Christmas series ( would love to get my hands on the book) and I just love her Christmas Rocky Road.

But I am lazy and I bake and bake Christmas Cookies when I have time so why should I go shopping just for this Chocolate covered mix?

I look and I have the answer. I use what is laying around from my baking.

Christmas Rocky Road the leftover way


150g dark chocolate, chopped

250g milk chocolate, chopped

175g  softened butter, plus extra for greasing

4 tbsp golden syrup

200g Spekulatius (spiced almond biscuit) or amaretti

100g peanuts

100g red glace cherries ( I love them and would have added 100g more, but I ate them)

125g marshmallows (I used the big ones and cut them up, easier would be to use the mini marshmallows)

1 tbsp icing sugar


Place the chocolate, butter and golden syrup into a heavy-based pan. Cook over low heat until melted.

Place the cookies into a frezzer bad and bash with a rolling pin or a pan to brake them up, you should stop as soon as you have crumbs of various sizes.

Do the same with the nuts.

Now add the nuts and the cookie crumbs to the chocolate and mix. Next you add the cherries and the marshmallows. Fold the mixture until everything is coatet.

Pour the mixture into a 25cm x 30cm/12in greased and lined baking tray and smooth the surface as much as possible.

Refrigerate until firm enough to cut. Dust with icing sugar.

Remove the block of rocky road from the tray and cut into 24 rectangles.


Eat and tell me what you think. See you next time.

Dec 14, 2009

Challenging myself : Daring Cooks' December Challenge – Salmon en Croute

The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.

This months challenge was not as easy as I hoped. The Recipe was amazing don`t get me wrong, the problem was that there was not the time I wanted.

And nobody wanted to eat.

At all.

I can proudly say that the whole family has been able to catch the flu, no not the swine flu. The “normal” flue.

It was horrible. As some of you know I have 3 ½ year old twin boys and the flu is dangerous for children. My husband is diabetic and so it was a problem to get the right medication and make sure he eats enough to make sure he is not getting real problems.

And there is little old me with a lung that has not more than 70% capacity on a good day.

Let`s just say the last 3 week were no picnic.

But finally we feel a little better. And yesterday I gave the challenge a try.

I wanted to make the original, but I just could not bring myself  to go shopping.

So I changed the recipe a little and hope Simone is not to broken up about it.

I used char in place of salmon, I love char if you never had one you should give it a try.

I made the short-crust pastry myself using Simone`s recipe and it tasted great but it broke a lot. So next time I will use a pasty recipe with a egg. This makes the dough more workable. I also used almonds to give the impression of scales. and to be honest I just love the taste of fish wish almonds. 

The result was tasty and I think even by husband would have eaten it, if we would eat.

I will do it again and I can only advise you to give it a try. See you next time.

Salmon en croute:


Mascarpone or creamcheese 5.2 ounces/150 gr

Watercress, rocket (arugula) and spinach - 0.6 cup/4.2 ounces/120 gr

Shortcrust pastry - 17.6 ounces, 500 gr. Use a butterversion such as Jus-rol which is frozen or dorset pastry. or... make your own!

Salmon fillet (skinless)- 17.6 ounce/500 gr

egg - 1 medium sized



1.Heat the oven to 200°C/390 F. Put the mascarpone or cream cheese in a food processor with the watercress, spinach and rocket and whizz the lot until you have a creamy green puree. Season well.

2. Roll the pastry out so you can wrap the salmon in it completely (approx. 2-3 mm thick) and lay it on a buttered or oiled baking sheet (it will hang over the edges). Put the salmon in the middle. If it has a thinner tail end, tuck it under. Spoon half of the watercress mixture onto the salmon. Now fold the pastry over into a neat parcel (the join will be at the top, so trim the edge neatly), making sure you don’t have any thick lumps of pastry as these won’t cook through properly. Trim off any excess as you need to. Make 3 neat cuts in the pastry to allow steam to escape and make some decorations with the off-cuts to disguise the join if you like. Brush with the egg glaze.

3. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and browned. To test wether the salmon is cooked, push a sharp knife through one of the cuts into the flesh, wait for 3 seconds then test it against the inside of your wrist; if it is hot, the salmon is cooked. Serve with the rest of the watercress puree as a sauce.


Shortcrust pastry

While this is not mandatory to do, I highly recommend making your own shortcrust pastry as it is very simple to do! As mentioned in the notes; please make sure to not add too much water as that is the key to having a successful shortcrust pastry. Watch this video to check the correct consistency of the dough Making shortcrust pastry



450 gr (15.8 ounces or 3.2 cups ) of plain all purpose flour

200 gr ( 7 ounce) cold butter

pinch of salt


Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you have a food processor you can use that as shown in the above video.

Stir in the salt, then add 2-3 tbsp of water and mix to a firm dough. Knead the dough briefly and gently on a floured surface. Wrap in cling film and chill while preparing the filling.


For best results make sure the butter is very cold.