Strawberry Spice (and everything nice)! by Nikki

DSC06048

My cookbook collection…

If you haven’t realized it yet, I am what modern day people refer to as a foodie! I like food. I like to cook food, photograph food, eat food, talk about food, and I like to read about food as well! I am nearly finished reading a book titled My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss- the writer of the food blog The Wednesday Chef. Weiss’s blog is excellent, and I am enjoying her cookbook/love story, specifically her connection of life stories and emotion to food and recipes.

A Taste of Oregon

A Taste of Oregon

A Taste of Oregon is the first cookbook my Granny Hume used when she began cooking. She gave my sister and I each a copy of this book for Christmas this year. As an Oregonian, reading through A Taste of Oregon leaves me with a longing for “tastes of home” paired with excitement to try and create particular dishes with local ingredients. This 378 page book is full of recipes for sauces, desserts, soups, mains, sides, appetizers, and of course bread. It has very Oregon-esque recipes, such as Blueberry Muffins, Vegetable Quiche and Oyster stew! But it has no pretty pictures, which let’s face it, I am guilty of buying cookbooks for the pretty pictures! But photos or no photos, I gave one of the bread recipes a try today.

DSC06079

My British friends might describe this bread as sexy… which is an interesting way of describing bread! However, sexy is a brilliant way of describing the flavor combinations… sweet and spicy! The strawberries give the bread that sweet (and sometimes juicy) burst of flavor while the cinnamon and nutmeg provide the spice. Together the sweet and spicy create what I’d like to call strawberry lovin’ from the oven… or maybe is should be called… “Oregon’s Jewel!”

Thank you to AB for the cute mini bundt baking mold! They are great!

Thank you to AB for the cute mini bundt baking mold… isn’t it great?

Strawberry Spice (and everything nice) Bread

adapted from A Taste of Oregon cookbook

Note: I made only two deviations from the original recipe:

1/ I used half the batter for a loaf of bread and the other half I divided into a mini bundt mold to create six small cakes.

2/ I did not make the strawberry cream cheese spread. Instead I used a small amount of the leftover strawberry juice and powdered sugar to create a glaze. (Both recipes below)

Ingredients: 3 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups of sliced strawberries (or 2 10 ounce packages of frozen berries), 4 eggs, 1 cup and 1/4 cup oil, 3 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

The berries should be at room temperature before using in the batter.

(If using frozen berries, thaw in the fridge overnight and strain juices before using.)

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, beat 4 eggs and oil together. Add strawberries and mix until combined.

Make a well or hole in the middle of the dry ingredients then add wet ingredients into the well.

Mix batter together well- with a wooden spoon.

Divide the batter between two 9-inch loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C for about 1 hour (or until a knife stuck in the middle comes out clean)

Enjoy!

Nikki’s Strawberry Drizzle

1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/4 cup reserved strawberry liquid

Combine sugar and strawberry juice and whisk together until smooth.. add more sugar or strawberry liquid until desired consistency is reached!

Drizzle over the cooled cakes.

original recipe Strawberry Cream Cheese Spread:

12 ounces of cream cheese and 1/2 cup reserved strawberry juices –> Beat together for a creamy strawberry spread!

Enjoy!

Local eggs from the dairy farmer!

Local eggs from the dairy farmer!

One last thing…  I have been enjoying the fresh, farm eggs in my weekly dairy delivery. Ordering local dairy has been a great way to continue having fresh, local ingredients in our winter kitchens. But we wanted to make sure you knew that some of the Farmer’s Market in Praha are open – despite the return of snow and winter temperatures! Yah! We will see you out there. – from The Prague Basket

Advertisements

Stay Calm and Don’t Lose Your Cookies by L

I’m not exactly sure where I got this recipe from, but it will forever hold a nostalgic spot in my recipe repertoire. The day before my scheduled C-section, I baked dozens and dozens of these chewy chocolate chip cookies. My mom and I thought it would be a good idea to have some “Thank you” treats for the nurses and staff at the maternity ward.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Well, the cookies didn’t last long. Not only because they are deliciously good, but because in the excitement of my twin daughters’ births, my mom couldn’t control her emotions. I can still remember the very moment when the cookies suddenly disappeared. Laying on the gurney, freshly stitched up, I waited for the nurses to present my daughters to me. As one of the operating nurses placed a daughter in each of my arms, I noticed another nurse running down the hall with a large plastic tub filled with the chewy chocolate chip cookies we had baked.

My attention was quickly drawn back to my daughters as my doctor started to discuss breast-feeding. As I attempted to do so, the doors at the end of the hallway quickly swung open and there was that same nurse I just saw shuffling down the hall. She rushed towards us and handed back an empty plastic container to my mother. All I could think was “Hey, what happened to the cookies?”

Crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside!

Crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside!

However, there was no time for me to bring that up. My daughters were taken to the nursery while I got whisked away to the Intensive Care Unit. No fun. Fortunately, my amazing doctor, pulled some strings and my dear husband was able to visit me for a few minutes. After we shared some tender words about the miracle that just came into our lives, the topic quickly turned to the cookies.

“Your mom gave all the cookies away,” daddy said in a surprised manner, “She just gave them all away.”

“I guess she was too excited. Someone definitely got carried away,” I answered with a laugh, followed by a moan as I grasped my stitched up abdomen. “Ouch, didn’t know how much laughing would hurt. Could you please pick something else up?”

Being the dear sweet husband that he is, nodded his head and then showed me a photo on his iPhone. Bundled up and sharing a bassinet, were my two beautiful newborns sound asleep in the nursery.

Early next morning, I was already back in the maternity ward with my daughters, husband and mom.

“Ma,” I called, “Why’d you give all our cookies away? Those were for the nurses in this ward. Now, we don’t have anything to share and we’ll be here awhile.”

She shrugged her shoulders and frowned. “Just get them some chocolate,” was her response.

We did buy some chocolates and got to know the nursing and housekeeping staff very well over our 9 day stay in the maternity ward. I would have liked to thank them for all their help with some of these home-made chocolate chip cookies, but the chocolates did seem to satisfy everyone’s taste buds. The day of my daughters’ births is a moment I’ll never forget, but the memory of my mother’s funny reaction to their arrival will also never escape my mind.

Overcome with intense joy and happiness, she quickly lost all her cookies.

P2020339

You won’t be able to just have one!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups chocolate chips

Pre heat oven to 350 F/180C degrees

Whisk flour and baking soda in a small bowl.

In another bowl, cream butter and both sugars.

Then add salt, vanilla and eggs on low-speed.

Beat for one more minute.

Then fold in the flour, followed by the chocolate chips.

Scoop about a tablespoon of cookie batter on a well-greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Enjoy!

Pineapple Cookies… you can’t eat just one! By Nikki

It's like a pie-cookie!

It’s like a pie-cookie!

The Hume family LOVES Granny’s pineapple cookies. We cannot get enough of them! The first mouthful of this cookie is a buttery, pie-crust taste that quickly pops with tangy, juicy, pineapple goodness. These “cookies” never last long in the Hume household- especially when my brothers are around! I remember trying these one year during our Christmas holiday. They just appeared on our family Christmas cookie plate along with the traditional ginger and butter cookies. They have been a part of the Hume cookie plate ever since!

Mama Hume!

Mama Hume!

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “why are you posting about Christmas Cookies in February?” Well, the answer is I was planning to post this recipe during December when The Prague Basket was posting about holiday traditons. But my Mama and I misplaced the photos in the digital world- or rather in her iPhone! Last week, I received an email from Mama Hume saying, “Look what I found in my photo stream!” And attached were the photos I took of her making these yummy, “can’t eat just one” cookies!

Although these cookies are a Christmas tradition in our house, they taste good at anytime of the year. And besides, it is February, the month that we Americans celebrate St. Valentine in hope of showing those closest to us extra love and admiration. So I am sharing this recipe not only because I appreciate these cookies but mostly because I admire the two women in my family who make them with LOVE. Like I said before, my family LOVES these pineapple cookies, but we don’t love them as much as we love Mama and Granny. Enjoy!

Granny Hume's Pineapple Cookies

Granny Hume’s Pineapple Cookies

Pineapple Cookies

Note: This is a two day process- but VERY easy and VERY worth it! The dough and filling need to be prepared the night before baking!

Ingredients:

8oz cream cheese, 8oz butter, 2 cups flour, 2 & 1/2 cups crushed pineapple, 1 & 1/4 cup white sugar

DAY 1:

To make the filling: Boil pineapple and sugar for 5-8 minutes. Strain well and let set overnight in the fridge.

To make the dough: Mix together the butter and cream cheese, add flour and knead with hands.

Roll dough into small balls, cover and place in fridge overnight (see photo below)

DAY 2:

ready to roll

ready to flatten

Flatten the dough in your hands (or roll out with a floured, rolling pin if you prefer!)

flatten gently

flatten gently

Place a small amount of pineapple filling into the middle of the dough and fold in half, covering the filling.

fill it up... but not too much

fill it up… but not too much

Press the outside the dough together with a fork.

pineapple1

hide that filling

Bake for 10 minutes at 180 degrees C or 375 degrees F.

Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes then enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Brownies are in the Air by Allison (Gluten-Free Brownies that is…..)

It is Valentines week, you like how I’ve extended the holiday to the whole week now?! Well I like to celebrate, what can I say? Not only is love in the air but brownies can be too! Brownies are just classic. My friend M and I used to make brownies on Friday nights out of box (how illegal I know) at her apartment back in college on 21st street. This decadent treat was usually accompanied by Mexican food beforehand and a movie afterwards. Sometimes when we felt a little dangerous, we added a generous scoop of  Haagen Daz coffee ice cream to the top of our brownies (if we found it on sale of course). These brownies are quick to put together and ready in a flash and delicious as ever let me tell you! Brownies out of a box are good in a pinch, but not as good as homemade brownies! This recipe makes a really yummy fudgy brownie. My friend Nikki made these for me about a year ago and it was the first time I had eaten homemade brownies since going gluten-free and they tasted like a million bucks then and they still do now! Thank you Nikki for sharing this recipe with me!
IMG_0086

IMG_0090

IMG_0094

 

Gluten-Free Brownies by Allison
Ingredients:
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup gluten-free flour (I use Schar Mix C gluten-free flour blend)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional – need to make sure the chocolate is gluten-free)
Directions
Mix eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until combined. Pour in a greased 9″ by 9″ pan and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 18 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes clean. Enjoy!
Schar Gluten-Free flour can be purchased at the following places in Prague: selected Billa grocery stores, Na Zlate Krizovatce (Prague’s Gluten-Free Restaurant) and the Diana stores (one near Billa Labut).

A Wee Valentine’s Day Celebration! by L

Happy Valentine's Day from Toddler Central!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Toddler Central!

While most children in Prague have been enjoying these past days dressed up in their costumes and celebrating Carnaval, our household is working on spreading the love. I have been busy preparing our home to celebrate my second favorite American holiday: Valentine’s Day! For me, this day has never been about the romance, the flowers or the chocolates.  Just like Julia Child and her husband, I get a kick out of making and sending home-made valentine cards to my family and friends. Who doesn’t enjoy receiving a greeting decorated with lots of hearts, glitter and lace with the colors red, pink and white? Even though Valentine’s day isn’t widely celebrated here in Prague, unlike the States, I am excited to introduce this holiday to my daughters and spread some of Cupid’s inspiration.

Our garland of homemade hearts!

Our garland of homemade hearts!

In fact, I must have been feeling extremely excited about Valentine’s day because I decided to host an afternoon play group for my daughters’ friends and their mothers. However, coming up with a menu was a bit challenging. What exactly does one prepare for a group of year old toddlers?

This is what I came up with:

Mini Heart Shaped Toast with Cheese and Jam

Mini Heart Shaped Toast with Cheese and Jam

Heart Shaped Cheese and Jam Sandwiches

Ingredients:

1 loaf of whole wheat or white bread

1 small heart-shaped cookie cutter

Olive oil (just enough to grease your baking tray)

1 round of pasteurized goat cheese

1 block of cream cheese

Your choice of red colored low sugar jam. We used raspberry and strawberry.

Preheat oven at 150 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with a few tablespoons of oil. Using a small heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut heart shapes from slices of bread. Place on cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Depending on what type of goat cheese you purchase, you can also add it to the baking tray to warm it up.

Serve with cream cheese, goat cheese, a serving of raspberry and strawberry jam.

P2020185

Carrot, Apple, Coconut and Cinnamon Mini-Muffins

This recipe was adapted from Weelicious.com One of our lil’ pals has a dairy allergy, so instead of whole cow’s milk, I used soy milk.

Carrot, Apple, Coconut and Cinnamon Mini-Muffins

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

2 carrots, peeled & grated, about 1 cup

1 apple, peeled and grated, about 1/2 cup

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup soy milk

1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

1/2 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl. In a small bowl, mix the carrots, apples and coconut together. In another separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.  Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet and stir to combine.  Then add the carrots, apple and coconut mix and carefully blend. Place 1 tbsp of batter into greased mini muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Heart Shaped Potato Poppers

Heart Shaped Potato Poppers

These are usually served in round balls, but for Valentine’s day, I used a large heart-shaped cookie cutter for this occasion.

Heart Shaped Potato Poppers (adapted from The Laurel’s Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1/2 onion, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 teaspoon thyme or oregano

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/4 cups mashed potato

1 cup cooked brown rice

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup bread crumbs (whole grain if possible)

1/4 cup crushed pine nuts (optional)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C

Saute onion and celery in oil. Add your choice of herb. Combine all ingredients and shape either into a heart or 1 1/2″ balls. Place on greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until slightly browned. Serve warm and if you like, with some tomato sauce.

Valentine’s Day isn’t Valentine’s Day for me if I don’t get crafty. Here are the links to some of the activities I did with my 18 month old twins! Happy Valentine’s Day from Prague!

Heart Garland

Valentine Footprints

Valentine treats for the Mamas and Lil'Ones

Valentine treats for the Mommies and Lil’Ones

Baked Doughnuts and Childhood memories! By Nikki

Nothing like a Frosted Chocolate Donut and a cup of tea...

Nothing like a Frosted Chocolate Donut and a cup of tea…

This week, I ordered my dairy products from a local farmer. Buttermilk, butter, yogurt, cheese and eggs… I am a happy woman to have these fresh, local dairy products in the middle of winter! February is our baking month at the Prague Basket and I am excited to share a few new recipes with you all.

Fresh dairy from the farm...

Fresh dairy from the farm…

When I was a young kid, our family went to church on Sunday mornings. We were regulars and eventually members of a church community for a very long time. I remember occasionally, we would stop at the local market for a doughnut on the way to church… doughnuts and coffee are a staple in many Sunday morning situations from church gatherings, to family brunches, to simply meeting at the local coffee shop for a sweet morning treat. When I was younger, I often chose between the regular, fluffy doughnut with the fake chocolate icing and sprinkles or cake doughnut covered with white powdered sugar. As I got older my taste buds graduated to prefer simple chocolate cake donuts or an apple fritter. If you asked me now, I would say my favorite doughnut is a maple bar- I LOVE a good maple flavored frosting- how adult of me, right!?

As a very healthy eater, I avoid doughnuts because they are usually fried in oil before they are covered in sugar or icing and often topped with sprinkles or nuts! But I recently came across a recipe for baked doughnuts… a doughnut recipe that uses no oil for frying- yes please! Upon my discovery, there was of course no hesitation to use my new doughnut pan! (By the way, everyone should own a doughnut pan- they are fun to use and this was the easiest recipe to follow.) And it uses three of my favorite baking ingredients: buttermilk, butter, and of course, chocolate!

Toasted Coconut Flakes

Toasted Coconut Flakes

Instead of topping my donuts with sprinkles I enjoyed the flavor of the toasted coconut flakes… they were a compliment to the strong, chocolatey flavor of the cake donuts. Tonight, as I sat in my living room with a cup of tea and a fresh, baked doughnut on my plate, I was reminded of Doughnut Sundays and simple childhood memories… happy nostalgia…

 

yummy

yummy

Dark Chocolate Cake Doughnuts

recipe adapted from Shutterbean.com

doughnut ingredients:

  • 1 cup all- purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

topping ingredients:

  • 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 2  cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk

Heat oven to 325 F or 180 C. Coat doughnut pan with non-stick cooking spray or butter! In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk buttermilk, sugar, egg, butter and vanilla until smooth. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; whisk until blended & smooth.

Spoon batter into a large resealable plastic bag. Cut off the corner and squeeze batter into prepared doughnut pan about 2/3 full. Bake for 13 minutes, until doughnuts spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in the pan on baking rack for 3 minutes, then carefully turn out directly onto the rack to cool.

In a small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar and with 2 tablespoons milk and stir until consistency is thick & glazey. If the consistency is too thin, add more sugar. If too thick add a bit more milk.

Dip cooled doughnuts into bowl and allow excess frosting to drip back into bowl. Transfer to rack. Top with coconut immediately. Allow 5 minutes for the toppings to set!

Best when eaten warm with tea or coffee… enjoy!

 

 

Do You Know…the Chocolate Cheese Muffin? by L

For the month of February, The Prague Basket will be dishing out some lovin’ from our ovens! We will be featuring a variety of baked goods and hope they will make it to your tables and satisfy your taste buds!

Muffin Madness!

Muffin Madness!

Back when I was in graduate school, I made a culinary discovery. Every Tuesday and Thursday, as I exited the subway station on 110th and Broadway, in NYC’s Upper West Side, I would rush over to Samad’s Gourmet Deli to pick up a certain muffin that sat pretty in the wicker basket of the storefront’s window. Its name was Chocolate Cheese. This delightful treat only became a part my life in my early 20’s and for one whole year, I indulged in its extravagantly high calorie rich goodness as part of my morning routine. (I know my thighs are thanking me!) The funny thing is that I only EVER ate this muffin during that one year of intensive graduate school. After I finished my degree, I never saw it elsewhere and strangely enough, never thought about it again.

Until last week.

Out of nowhere, I was suddenly struck with an urgent craving for a chocolate cheese muffin. It’s been over ten years since I last ate one, but when that craving hit, I knew I had to get googling, and find a way to satisfy my peculiar urge. Through my search, I came across many recipes for Chocolate Cheese Cupcakes which caught my interest, but I really desired a muffin. All I wanted to do was come down to breakfast, sit at the table, unwrap this chocolate cheese devil and sip my jumbo cup of morning decaf. It had to be a muffin. So, my search continued. After studying several recipes online and a quick consultation with one of my pals from The Prague Basket, I decided to take a recipe for chocolate muffins and top it off with a spoonful of cheese batter. I figured that would do the trick.

It did!

However, making a NY chocolate cheese muffin is a bit of a challenge in Prague. Many of the recipes I found called for cream cheese, which is available here, even the Philadelphia brand, but it just doesn’t taste the same. Instead, I decided to use a local cheese: Quark or Tvaroh as we know it in the Czech Republic. Quark is a soft fresh cheese that can be used as a substitute in recipes that call for cream cheese, ricotta or mascarpone. It’s quite a popular grocery item in this part of the world. A major difference for me, is that quark is a bit tangier, but a tablespoon or more of sugar can easily change that.

So, here is my Prague alternative to the New York City Chocolate Cheese Muffin that got me through grad school. May you enjoy every decadent bite of this chocolatey cheesy baked good! After so many years, it was great to see this ol’ muffin back in my life again.

P2020136

Ingredients

Cheese Mixture:

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened or quark cheese
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup sugar (If using quark, then 1/2 cup)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Chocolate Muffin batter (Adapted from Food Network’s Nigella Lawson)

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons best quality cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, plus 1/4 cup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F/180 Celsius

In a small bowl, combine first four ingredients.
Add 1/4  of chocolate chips and set aside.
Line a muffin tin with muffin cases. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, sugar, and 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine all the liquid ingredients. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together. A lumpy batter is the sign of a good batter. Spoon mixture into the prepared muffin cases. Then drop a large spoonful of the cheese mix and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the muffins are dark, risen and springy.