Coconut milk + Chia seeds + Lemon zest = a yummy, healthy treat!

The ingredients for a lovely treat!

The ingredients for a lovely treat!

Life has been very busy these days. It happens every Spring. There is more light in the day, sunny afternoons meant for beers and laughing with friends. There are weekend getaways with friends who will shortly be moving on from Prague. And there is the Elementary School musical that I have been working with all school year. On Friday, we have show number one so this week is all about marathon rehearsals and very little time for creating in the kitchen. But I like a little something sweet when I am tired. Instead of turning to chocolate or other bad calories, I am preparing my healthy treats for the week.

1 can of coconut milk, 1/4 cup chia seeds, 1 tablespoon honey- that is all this recipe needs. Of course you can jazz it up how you want. I have thought about adding a little cinnamon or chocolate chips or even mango purée. Today I was feeling the sunshine and decided to add lemon zest! All you have to do is put the ingredients in a bowl, mix until whipped and then leave in the fridge overnight. I prepare portions in small jars and as my Kindergarten learners would say- easy peasy.

Sweet, zesty, and yummy

Sweet, zesty, and yummy

 

Thanks to my Twinsie for serving this at brunch. My sweet tooth thanks you…

GF Pavlova with a Twist by Allison

I tried making pavlova two times before with my hand-held “immersion blender/tool” but it was an epic fail. The egg whites just never got stiff enough and my “Tesco special” was not making the grade. So I gave up…..until I pulled my cobalt blue KitchenAid mixer out of my top cupboard. Why yes, I had a KitchenAid mixer but couldn’t ever get it to work properly as my voltage converter I had wasn’t working properly. A friend was getting rid of hers so whallah! I knew where all of the fuse boxes were and had access to all of them in case I blew any fuses, which I did, but I got my prized KitchenAid mixer to work! This definitely called for a re-do of the pavlova as I knew my KitchenAid would be able to get the job done. You see, I was such an avid baker that I decided to carry my KitchenAid mixer back with me from the U.S. to Prague in my carry-on bag several years ago. Oh you should have seen the looks on the security personnel’s faces! They were pulling each other towards the screen and shaking their heads in disbelief! One gentleman pulled me aside and said, “Mam, is this mixer yours?!” I replied, “Yes it is sir….” with a smile of course and he said, “Oh, well Mam, we haven’t seen a KitchenAid mixer come through here before! It is quite an unusual item to carry with you but everything is fine from our side, hope it makes the journey for you” and that was that! I knew it was a questionable item to take on the plane but I did have my Mom wait before she left the airport in case they wouldn’t allow it so I could give it to her to take home. But I gave my Mom the thumbs up signal and waved goodbye before I headed towards my gate on the other side of security.
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Luckily I was flying business class on award miles and no one questioned the weight of my bag along my journey. In case you’re wondering, I was able to lift it into the overhead compartment on my own on two different flights as well! So you can imagine how rewarding it was for me to finally use it and to pull off a pavlova to serve at Easter brunch! The twist is the pavlova has cinnamon and vanilla bean in it…..and it is delicious, seriously delicious.

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Now I just need to work on preventing the cracking of the pavlova so next time I won’t cook it as long!

recipe for the pavlova slightly adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients 

For the pavlova:
6 egg whites
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 heaping teaspoon balsamic vinegar
seeds scraped from a vanilla bean

To assemble:

2 small containers or 1 large container of liquid whipped cream 40% fat
2 Tbsp. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups mixed berries for the top

To make the pavlova: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until satiny peaks form. Add the sugar, 1 spoonful at a time, and continue beating until the mixture becomes stiff and very shiny.

Using a spatula, fold in the cinnamon, balsamic vinegar, and vanilla bean. Spoon the mixture onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, forming a 10-inch circle that is about 2-inches thick.

Place in the oven, and immediately turn the oven down to 300°F or 150°C. Bake for about 1 hour . When the pavlova is done baking, it should look and feel dry on top. Remove from the oven, and let cool in a dry place overnight.

The next day, invert the pavlova onto a serving dish, peel away the parchment and reverse onto another serving dish. The pavlova shell can be made up to 48 hours in advance. Be sure to wrap it well in plastic wrap and keep it in a dry place until ready to assemble.

To make the whip cream: Use an electric whisk to beat the whipping cream until smooth. Whisk in the icing sugar and vanilla extract.

To assemble the pavolva: Dollop the whipped cream into the center of the pavlova, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle the fruit over the cream. Enjoy with friends and family!

 

 

It’s Rootbeer Float time!

Summertime is meant for spending time outdoors. I grew up on a street that is above a lake and when I am home visiting my parents during the summer this lake is my oasis.

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It is a short three minute walk down the hill to spend a couple hours floating in the sunshine! But summertime is also about satisfying my sweet tooth! Usually folks enjoy a bowl or cone of ice cream to cool down and satisfy their sweet summer cravings. I usually enjoy sorbet as it is lactose free. I have a sensitivity to dairy and have not eaten real, creamy ice cream in a very long time! But after a random conversation about old fashioned rootbeer I decided I really wanted a rootbeer float! I satisfied my sweet tooth with a cold, Pacific Northwest brewed rootbeer and two scoops of coconut milk ice cream!

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This Oregon rootbeer is made with 100% cane sugar and without high fructose corn syrup and it is gluten free! Combining it with the coconut milk ice cream, I made a gluten free and lactose free treat and it honestly tasted just as good as the real deal!

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This sweet summer treat brought back memories of childhood summers with my siblings… and during this last week in Oregon, I fully intend not only to enjoy a few more “floats” on the lake but also another float with this fancy Oregon rootbeer!

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How to make your own rootbeer float!
1. Put two big scoops of your favorite vanilla flavored ice cream in a tall glass. (If you are a non-dairy or lactose free person use a soy or coconut milk based ice cream!)
2. Pour 1/2 a bottle (or can) of rootbeer over the ice cream and let it fizz! Then pour as much as you want to fill the glass!!
3. Enjoy with a spoon or straw, inside or outside and alone or with people… Just enjoy it!

Rhubarb, oh rhubarb! by L

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Rhubarb… love the name, the color and the tang. Therefore, on a recent visit to my local farmers market, I couldn’t resist  bringing home some stalks. However, I’m not an expert with this vegetable, (sometimes called a fruit too,) so I was a bit unsure about how they would end up on our plates.

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Thank goodness for the Internet! One thing I did have in mind was to use this herbaceous perennial in a dessert to celebrate my husband’s birthday. But, have you ever heard of a rhubarb birthday cake? Yep, me neither.

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However, a strawberry rhubarb tiramisu for a summer birthday was a fine runner-up. I found this delicious recipe from  http://www.chatelaine.com/recipe/stovetop-cooking-method/strawberry-rhubarb-tiramisu/  The only substitute  I made was to use a cup of orange juice instead of 3/4 cup of orange juice and 1/4 of Grand Marnier. It had to be a toddler friendly dessert.

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All that’s left to say is that this tasted absolutely divine. Now go and find some rhubarb before the season is over!

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It’s two time… celebrate with Vanilla Bubble Cake! By The Prague Basket

They're 2!

They’re 2!

Liezel’s twin girls turned two years old in early August. They are lucky to spend their birthday with J’s family in Spain. But because we also like to celebrate with them, we always have a Prague birthday party when everyone returns from their summer holidays. This year, we stuck to our Kampa Park tradition and hosted their party at the community center. It was an afternoon of blowing bubbles, running around with friends and of course- presents and cake!

When the three of us began to plan the girls’ Prague party, we quickly began to toss out ideas for the decor, food and location. It had to be simple enough for adults and kids to enjoy, but classy enough for us three food-conscious bloggers! We settled on trays of cheese, cold cuts, cream cheese spreads and bagels as a “build your own bagel” bar. Complimented by Ninang Ali’s 7-layer dip (a party favorite) as well as a summer fruit salad and fresh-cut veggies, it was a good spread and people enjoyed themselves.

Bubble Cake!

Bubble Cake!

The biggest accomplishment of this party was creating TWO, double-layer cakes with a bubble effect. This was a challenge that we set to work on a few weeks before the party was to commence. Allison, being a gluten-free goddess began experimenting with gluten-free vanilla cake recipes. She created two cakes that were very tasty right out of the oven but didn’t hold their freshness overnight. It is our challenge to find a vanilla cake recipe that is gluten-free. So instead of creating the cakes, Allison made the “bubbles” for a polka dot cake using a cake pop mold.

Cake Pops!

Cake Pops!

test cake bakes out beautifully...

test cake bakes out beautifully…

Vanilla Cake Pops

250 grams of Mix C Gluten Free Schar Flour

250 grams of butter

250 grams of sugar

4 eggs

5-10 ml of vanilla extract

Add GF natural food coloring

Blend butter and sugar until creamy. Then add one egg at a time, leaving enough time between each for it to be fully mixed. Sift the flour and add it to the mixture. Fold it in with spatula and add the vanilla extract. Using an icing tube or the corner of a ziploc bag, fill the cake pop mold until it reaches the rim, cover. Preheat oven @200 degrees C and bake them for 14 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Take them out and leave them to cool, then trim sides.

We used a silicone cake pop mold like this one.

On the morning of the party, it was Ninang Nikki’s turn to bake like crazy! Starting early in the morning, I whipped up the vanilla cake batter using my basic, go-to vanilla cake recipe:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk

Cake batter directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
my magic mixer

my magic mixer

When it was time for the baking, I placed cake balls in to the bottom of the pan, evenly spaced. I poured half the batter over the cake balls and baked for 13 minutes. You then need to open the oven and using a spoon, push the cake balls down into the batter as they may have risen with the heat. Continue baking for 10 minutes and repeat this step. I had to cover my cakes for the last ten minutes so they did not get too dark. The cake is finished baking after 30-40 minutes or when the middle of the cake springs back to the touch or a knife stuck in the middle comes out clean.

Cake Pops in the pan!

Cake Pops in the pan!

Allison and I used spring form pans to bake this cake. They are easier to release the cake and using a little oil and flour or non-stick spray in the bottom of the pan, your cakes are less likely to stick to the bottom. I let them cool in the pan for ten minutes then ran a knife between the cake and the sides of the pan. After releasing the cake, I then put a plate on top of the cake and flipped it over in order to get the bottom of the pan off the cake. I used a plastic, non-stick icing knife and it worked well. I left each cake to cool on the plate until I was ready to transport them.

building the layers

building the layers

frosting the cake

frosting the cake

looking good

looking good

I built the cake at the community center. This way I didn’t risk the cakes toppling over. I started with the most solid layer on the bottom, spread frosting in the middle of the cake then placed the second layer on top. Frosting is a yummy glue! I continued to frost around the cake and finished with the top. I used my basic vanilla buttercream recipe:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions for frosting:

1. In a bowl combine butter, sugar and salt. Beat till blended.

2. Add the milk and vanilla and beat for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth and creamy.

When we were ready, we used a print-out template of a number 2 and sprinkled around the cake… They were very cute!

add sprinkles

add sprinkles

we did it- twice!

we did it- twice!

This cake was a labor of love and completely worth the effort. There were many compliments on the frosting, questions about the cake assembly, and amazement and wonder at the “bubbles” baked into the middle of the cake. It was an accomplishment but one that all three of us TPB writers share as these cakes were a group effort. But nothing was as sweet as little “T” approaching the table and asking for a piece of her own birthday cake… our hearts all melted . It was in that one moment our “impossible” cake baking efforts were completely validated… with that sweet smile asking for a piece of cake!

Yummy!

Yummy!

Presents!

Presents!

T & P we LOVE you and wish you a 2nd year of life, full of love, laughter, discovery and time spent with your Prague family and friends.

Freedom Bites by Allison (GF, DF, and Refined SF)

I shared this new concoction with good friend Michelle who is a guest blogger on the Prague Basket at times and asked if she would like “a gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free lemon almond cookie) and she said, “Oh, I’d love a freedom bite!” Free from  grains, white sugar and dairy products that is……I laughed out loud and said, “I love the name ‘freedom bites’, that just might have to stick!” So you too can whip up these delicious freedom bites with just about 10 minutes to combine the ingredients together.

I made my own almond flour my placing almonds in my coffee grinder that I only use for nuts and seeds until processed. There still ends up being little chunks of almonds which resembles more of an almond meal of sorts unlike a finely processed almond flour. Try it however you’d like it! I purchased my coconut oil at DM here in Prague but you can also pick it up at Country Life as well. They freeze well and you can pop them out of the freezer when you’re ready for a lemony sweet treat! Enjoy!
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Freedom Bites

recipe from The Vedge
Yield: 13
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups almond meal/flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1.5 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp organic lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 175°C / 350°F.
  2. Combine almond meal, baking soda and salt in a food processor, and process until fine.
  3. Add coconut oil, maple syrup, lemon juice and lemon zest, and process until a dough ball forms.
  4. Scoop out about 1-2 Tbsp of dough, roll into a ball and place on baking tray.
  5. Gently press down.
  6. Bake for 6-8 minutes (mine took about 7 minutes), until just golden brown (after you remove them from the oven they will continue get darker).
  7. Let cool for 15-30 minutes (or they will fall apart).
  8. Yield: 13

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake by Allison

There’s nothing like chocolate cake, a chocolate birthday cake, chocolate cupcakes, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, chocolate cake with Nikki’s peanut butter frosting, chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting, or chocolate cake with mocha frosting. Any way you have it it is delicious in my opinion. When I moved to Prague I struggled with all the different kinds of flours available and what to use them for as when I was experimenting with substituting different flours for recipes that called for the traditional all-purpose flour, they didn’t seem to turn out quite right in my baked goods. Then I asked a colleague who was known for her baking after I tasted her “go-to” chocolate cake at a celebration and she pointed me to the “Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake” recipe. I mixed it up and it turned out fabulous. Then several years later I had to go gluten-free and went months without cake, then the craving for chocolate cake surfaced and I tried substituting the flour for a gluten-free flour mix and it turned out great. In fact, my friends who are not on a gluten-free diet didn’t even know they were gluten-free…..now that’s a compliment!

So here’s my question to you: How do you like your chocolate cake?
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Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

recipe from Hershey’s Kitchens

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar (krupice is the sugar I use here in Prague)
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used Schar brand “Mix C” gluten-free flour)
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa (I use Orion brand kakao here in Prague)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder (needs to be gluten-free with the wheat free symbol on it)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2  eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  •   “PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE” CHOCOLATE FROSTING (recipe follows)

Directions

  1. 1 Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
  2. 2 Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
  3. 3 Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with “PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE” CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings.VARIATIONS:
    ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

    THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

    BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

    CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

    “PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE” CHOCOLATE FROSTING

    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
    2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
    3 cups powdered sugar
    1/3 cup milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.
    Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

My Mama’s Leche Flan- an Easter must have! by L

Got eggs?

Got eggs?

Now that the Farmers’ Markets are back in full force, I often pick up a carton of ten lovely brown eggs to add to my basket. Eggs are taken quite seriously at the markets. Some stands only specialize in selling eggs and of course they come in all sizes: small, medium and large.

My mom’s Leche Flan recipe calls for a big rally of egg yolks, but don’t let this frighten you away. After you take a bite, you won’t even think twice about your cholesterol increasing or your blood sugar doubling. This rich sweet, creamy caramel custard has always graced our family’s table at Christmas and Easter time. Since it only makes a bi-annual appearance, there was never any reason for me to fear its’ intense calories and sweetness. Although, after you realize how easy it is to make, you might have trouble only baking it twice a year.

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Leche Flan

1/4 to 1/2  cup of Sugar

8 egg yolks

1 1/4 cups of Condensed Milk (about 1 can)

1 1/2 cups of Evaporated Milk (about 1 can)

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 tsp Grated Lime Zest (optional)

-Heat oven to 180C or 325F degrees

– Pour sugar in a 8” round baking tin: silicone or aluminum works fine

-Over a low flame, hold the pan over the heat and let the sugar caramelize. This can take a few minutes. This is the trickiest part of the recipe. You don’t want to burn any fingers and you don’t want the sugar to burn.  As the sugar is melting, swirl the pan around so that the bottom and the edges are evenly coated. Put aside when done.

-In a bowl, combine the egg yolks, both milks, along with the grated lime zest and vanilla. Stir and mix all ingredients well.

-Pour into the baking pan. Cover pan with foil.

-Using a larger baking pan that can hold the flan, place it in the oven filled halfway with water (bain-marie.)

-Then place the flan inside the steam bath.

-Bake for 1 hour.

-When done, let cool and refrigerate  for at least 2 hours until ready to serve. (I usually make this dessert the night before)

-When you are ready to serve it, be sure to carefully flip the flan over to display the beautiful caramelized top and let the syrup fall along the sides. I slide a knife along the rim to loosen it and then take the platter where it will be served, place it on top and flip it over as quickly as possible.  Garnish with mint or berries.