Sunday, July 20, 2014

Scallop season

It feels like this month stretches endlessly. Which is ok, because it is summer, and what better than for a summer month to stretch endlessly. The stores have ‘back to school’ isles stacked, and the clothing stores have the first fall wardrobe. Party poopers. The summer squash plants in the garden now produce based on where I planted them: in the old part of the raised bed, or the new addition filled with the Maine lobster compost. Those plants are about 5 times as big, and produce summer squash in record time. Therefore, most meals now include some fresh yellow squash.

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Like the lunch with seared fresh scallops from Stonigton via the farmers market. Yesterday, I even found the first chanterelles in the woods. As good as summer feels” scallops, brown butter, chanterelles, fresh peas and a dab of crème fraiche.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

German Summer Strawberry Cake

The other day I found a brandnew cake pan at a flea market that is perfect for making the bottom cake layer of a typically German fruit cake. A fruit cake is none-specific because it is made in the same manner, but the fruit varies based on season or in the winter with canned (peaches!) or frozen fruit. A fruit cake is similar to a French fruit tart – both are made with fresh fruit. However,  the ‘crust’ of the German bottom layer is more like a sponge cake and it is also inverted: the pan is filled completely with dough, baked and then turned upside down. Therefore, the cake pan needs to be the right one (like this, for example).

I baked the bottom layer, the farmers market had the last strawberries of the season, the German team won the world cup in soccer, so the fate of the cake was sealed: German strawberry cake!

Check this great video for more complete instructions (the cake layer is made as a more authentic sponge).

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Fresh Strawberry Cake

Base Layer:

  • 100 g sugar
  • 4 TB butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 0.5 ts vanilla extract
  • 150 g flour
  • 1 ts baking powder
  • 0.3 cup milk


Strawberry Cake

  • 1 quart fresh strawberries, dehulled, cut in half if they are large, otherwise keep whole
  • 3-4 TB strawberry jam
  • 1 cup vanilla pudding (store-bought or from scratch or with help of pudding mix)
  • 500 ml milk (for pudding)
  • 1 TB butter (for pudding)
  • 1 package Dr Oetker fruit tart red or clear glaze (a yello-like glaze that gets firm when it cools and keeps the fruit in place)+2 TB sugar + 250ml water  (optional)

Base layer: You need a pan similar to this one for baking the base layer. Make sure to butter it well because you don’t want the cake to stick.

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Preheat oven to 360F. In a standmixer (or with handmixer), mix the sugar and butter until slightly foamy. Add the egg, and mix until well incorporated. Add the vanilla extra, and mix in. Mix the flour with the baking powder, and slowly add to the mixture, alternate with tablespoons of the milk.

Pour into butter pan, and bake for 20-25min.

Cool slightly, invert, and cool completely (it is best to make the crust a day ahead).

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Preparing the strawberry cake:

Wash and hull the strawberries. Cut larger strawberries in half, keep smaller ones in tact. They should all be about the same size.

Poke the crust with a fork, and then distribute the strawberry jam on the crust. Ideally, it soaks the crust a little bit. If you use frozen fruit, preserve the juice when thawing and mix with the jam before distributing.

Prepare the vanilla pudding according to instructions. Let cool for 1-2 min, and distribute a thin layer on the cake layer. Let cool. (you won’t need all the pudding cooked).

Now, arrange the strawberries on the cake, in a circle from outward to inner circles. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar.

Optional (but authentic): Cook the glaze according to instructions and pour hot over the fruit. Start from the center of the cake and slowly distributed to the rim.

Let cool and set. ---- Serve with whipped cream!

Einen guten Appetit!

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Endless summer

Meanwhile, I’ve settled into summer. The days are still long, warm without being too hot or humid, the wind makes the birches bristle like a tulle skirt. My normal summer mode would include much driving, to coastal towns, but this year I seem to have a more local, hang-out, chill in the garden approach to summer. Days flow and wrap into each other, endlessly. Relaxing. Like in the book, “Northern Lights”, I started listening to yesterday, which appropriately also starst with “…. when time is slower in the summer, or stops at all”.

I have a feeling I am not the only one, enjoying summer this way, at the pool, at lakes, with plenty of friends, and ice cream, in swim suits, feeling like kids again.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bah Haba, the backway

Yesterday, the Monday of the July 4th weekend, after hurricane Arthur and most of the local weekend visitors had left and went back to work, I finally made my first trip this summer to beloved Acadia and Bar Harbor (or Bah Haha, as it is called by Mainers). Getting to and being on the island I am always amazed of this being Maine at its best, and it is no surprise it is such a tourist attraction.

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I was still sore from a long run so I ruled out a hike for the day, and decided it would just be a “hangout on Acadia” kind of day. This time, I did it the back way. When I arrived on Acadia around noon,  I went to Bar Harbor first. This was also due to the fact that I wore new shoes and I already had blisters. There is only one Rite-aid I could remember and that is smack in the middle of Bar Harbor. It was a good plan because most of the tourists were out and about hiking, swimming and biking, and BH was comparatively free of cars and with half empty sidewalks.

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Yes, there is now live opera, La Boheme.

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The general Bar Harbor July/August theme: beer, cocktails, lobster and ice cream.

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Note the world cup….

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Reeallly old cars..

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I mean, really old authentic cars, as to be expected from Maine.

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Brand new pastry bars, of course, with whoopie pies.

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Rupununi is gone (sad face, I had my first meal on Acadia here). Now  there is Beerworks instead and it added a 2nd story deck.

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A short stop at Blaze, to give my achy feet a break. Culprit shoes.

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After having a late lunch, and then an extended espresso break in a new, tiny, beautiful café next to the mid-town Mount Desert Ice cream, I saw that the traffic had picked up and I got out of town, the backway, to Northeast Harbor.

Northeast Harbor is a place that even during the peak of tourist season is always quaint (although, word must have gotten out). Only Martha Stewart, the Rockefellers, and Ms Astor’s son will shop here.

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Here, even Gwyneth Paltrow thinks it is still all good.

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As said, word of Northeast Harbor must have gotten out, because buildings along the tiny Maine street are demolished, and the ‘shopping’ extends beyond the tiny few hundred yards now. However, this is a find which is worthy of Martha Stewart: a new, beautiful place to pick up salads, wine, and olive oil and eat it right in front to the store. Tasteful Tides.

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The food looked delicious and I opted for a striped beet salad with dried apricots, basil, pistachios and a champagne vinaigrette. Lovely!

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Then, it was time to head back home. Bye, bye until next time.

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Honeymoon cake

The weather is back to being summer, and the mall was very empty today --- likely everyone was at camp, a lake or the beach or hiking. I was wary facing the tourist crowds combined with the crowds of locals finally being able to head out for July 4th weekend and took it easy. Home, sweet home.

I finished a cake, a lemon ricotta bundt cake, which I had made a few weeks ago, and loved so much it needed a repeat, just with 2/3 of the ingredients, perfect for a smaller bundt cake pan. I even made a tiny bundt cake, for me, because the larger one was destined as a welcome back/honeymoon cake for friends.

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Honeymoon Cake (Lemon Ricotta Bundt cake)

Small 6-cup bundt cake mold

  • 1  Stick Unsalted Butter At Room Temperature
  • 10 oz Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • dash of lemon extract
  • dash of vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 Large Lemon (Save Rest For Glaze)
  • 1  cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1.5 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt

 

For The Lemon Glaze:

  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 TB fresh squeezed lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour the bundt or ring pan.
  2. In a large mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the ricotta cheese and blend well. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each. Add the extracts and lemon zest and mix until fully combined.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in several smaller parts, mixing just until incorporated.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spoon as needed.
  6. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until the cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Let cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
    Cool completely.
  8. Whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth and thick.
  9. Drizzle the lemon glaze over the top of the cake.
  10. Let the glaze set for 30 minutes and then cut into wedges and serve.

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

When hurricane Arthur met July 4

When July 4th encountered a hurricane. It was hot the entire week, we sweated bucks. The cats looked for any cooling stone surface to lay on. Then, July 4th arrived, the BBQ day of the year. However, hurricane Arthur made its way up the East coast, taking a straight aim at Maine and Canada after taking a right turn in North Carolina. It has been raining literally buckets, for 24h straight. Neighbors’ kitty took shelter in my garage, looking disheveled, and ready for a big breakfast this morning. By 2pm the hurricane should have moved on, and we are back to sun, upper 80s and summer. A belated BBQ, and resumed summer touristy activity.

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Cherry fest

Happy July 4th! Like much of the East coast, we will be seeing rain shower over the next 2 days which is a welcomed cool off after the recent heat wave. The cats come alive again, instead of looking for weird places to hide in order to escape the heat (in the closet, behind the clothes, anyone?). They watch the wildlife at the open living room window and then chase each other. ---  

I started varying the lunch salad, and mix in new seasonal (but not local) fruit. Like pluots and cherries, with a regular dash of balsamic vinaigrette, mixed lettuce from the farmers market and sliced almonds. Changing it up!

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

First garden pesto of the summer

The thunderstorms passed elsewhere. We just a trickle of rain. It is still hot and humid. Today’s dinner was the first pesto from basil in the garden. This time I planted a columnar Greek basil, which tastes like basil, but grows more like a bush. I took out my mini chopper, added a few garlic gloves, a heaping spoon of miso, a tablespoon of olive oil, two handfuls of mixed lettuce to bulk it up, pine nuts and some grated parmesan cheese, and churned away (ok, it needed a few tablespoons of water, too). Cooking pasta, added frozen peas at the end, for a half minute and dinner is ready. Simple summer dinners….

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Since all my appetite is geared towards hydration in these heat, I made a peach mint smoothie today, with peaches frozen from last year’s harvest, almond milk, and fresh mint, some stevia. A great mix with a refreshing taste. And still chilled on the go…

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Preparing for a long weekend

With a holiday on Friday in my mind, the entire week feels like one long preparation for the long weekend. The temperatures are in the 90s, World cup games have to be watched at AC-chilled restaurants with big screen tvs, and biking to work makes you arrive as one sweaty mess. Meetings are held in the few AC-ed rooms of the building (it is Maine, and most older buildings do not have AC). But only the die-hard Mainers, who prefer snow, complain. “I like snow…..” they sorrowfully moan, wiping the sweat of their forehead.

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But I dream of the south of France in summer, crickets, searing heat, beautiful patios, but I don’t have to dream much because with a little fantasy it already feels like the south of France and the deck is cozy.

The next few days will brings thundershowers, and cools us down a bit.  But the upper 80s,low 90s temperature will last as long as the weather forecast shows. Goodygood.

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Carrot Mint Smoothie

Instead of fruit, I was ready for a change: this one was fabulous --- still sweet but with a herby note. A smoothie with almond milk, vanilla yogurt, a carrot, a piece of ginger, fresh mint and parsley and cilantro.

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Carrot Mint Smoothie

  • 1 carrot, peeled cut into large chunks
  • 1 stem of mint with about 12 mint leaves
  • a spring of cilantro and parsley each
  • 1 in of a ginger root, fresh, peeled, and cut up
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 1/4 cup vanilla flavored yogurt
  • 5-6 ice cubes
  • sweetener to taste.

Add all ingredients to a blender, blend and serve!

Mirlo Parasol

These Mirlo umbrellas are simply beautiful reminding me of old world European charme. I know one friend of mine in Switzerland owns one. Not available in the US yet --- unfortunately. Can someone pleeeaaaase import them?? Williams Sonoma? Anthropologie??

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Running in the summer sunset

Yesterday I ran in the evening. I am finally at a stage in my C25K running program where I run entire stretches of 22-30min to increase the overall distance and build up to the 5K. It was a hot day and it was warm in the evening. – I got out my Garmin Forerunner 405 which I had bought back in 2008 when I first started to run outdoors. Fortunately, after some charging it all still work flawlessly.

Foods were summery and included the a flower apple almond salad from the farmers market, and Swiss chard from the garden, with apple, peas, ricotta and pomegranate molasses. And a huge pretzel bagel.

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