Christmas madness and almost perfect gingerbreads

   The Christmas is probably busiest time to lots. I always end up running around trying to make everything perfect, like there is no opportunities after the 25th of December. I have grand plans how I will be super organised and start to get ready weeks before the big day. The truth is I do everything few days before Christmas Day, hoping that I will get everything done on time.

The gingerbreads were ready on time but got decorated few days after the Christmas, which means I’ve eaten most of them as guests, who they were meant to, were gone and I like them too much. I have lot’s of gingerbread recipes but I think those are the closest as they should be by Estonian standards and would pass Mary Berry test to snap properly, even after the few days they are still crispy.

Old Style Gingerbreads

2 dl sugar

3/4 dl dark syrup ( I used treacle, but you can also use Golden Syrup or make your own by melting the sugar on high heat until it ‘s desired colour)

1sp cardamom

1sp cinnamon

1tsp cloves

1sp mixed spice

150g butter

2 eggs

7dl flour

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

Measure sugar, syrup and spices to the saucepan. Cut the butter in to the small pieces and add to the saucepan. Heat it up to the boiling point until the house is filled with the divine smell. Mix it well. Take it from the cooker and put the saucepan in the bowl filled with the cold water so it will cool down quickly.

Add slightly beaten eggs

Mix flour and bicarbonate of soda  and mix well. Cover the saucepan or wrap the dough to the cling film. Keep it in the fridge 3-4 hours or even better, overnight.

Next day roll it out thinly on the floured table. Cut out the gingerbreads with cutters and place them on the baking sheet, which is covered with baking paper.

Bake them on Gas mark 4 (175C) about 10  minutes.

Cool them and decorate.

 I have to say, that they have disappeared rather quickly from the plate, while enjoying all the Christmas lights – gone bit mad this year, but I really hate this December darkness and it really cheers our house up.

Nostalgia – my lovely first born and easy almond tart

My oldest gone skiing with her school, which have made me nostalgic and I’m feeling bit lost. I better get used to it as it’s not going to be long, when they flying the nest…or maybe not, they might decide to live with us forever 🙂

I think there is an age when children start to show more interest about their early years. On a way home recently, my kiddies wanted to know their first words, truth is, I can’t exactly remember. I do remember some funny words of theirs, which really have stuck in my mind – my daughter, when she was under a year old, during the breakfast suddenly pointed her finger towards me and said very clearly “I know!” – in a way her grandpa always did it to her, when he came up with the new ideas to entertain her. I still remember how it made me and my husband jump and then burst to laugh as we really could see my father in law manners in her.

My son’s one of the first word must’ve been “digger”. He watched in a loop some video, which was filmed in a real building site, showing diggers and other machinery accompanied with the song about diggers, trucks and something else.

My children are lucky to have their grandma collecting their photos together to the albums. My daughter had homework from the school, she had to select 10 photos from her early years, and it brought back so many memories and made me really think where those 13 years have disappeared.

Here she is about 2 month old. My mother in law built holder for her toys from my friends easel and hang down stretchy tiger and owl made my husband’s Japanese friends mum dressing gown, what made my daughter always very excited or scared, couldn’t really say.

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Her hair didn’t start to grow until she was about 3 years old so she had perfect short hairdo with no odd baby hair. That’s why she’s probably quite pressures about her hair nowadays and only recently started to let hairdressers near them.

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She look lots like her cousin and people used to think they are brother and sister. It’s lovely that they are still very close.

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She had such a beautiful blonde locks and she didn’t let anyone near them for years, I think we only cut off her baby hair few years ago. She’s not really as blond anymore.

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This picture is taken in a photo salon at my home town, only time we have been at the   professional photographer. They were such sweeties- nothing like this anymore 🙂

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 Looking those photos, scares me, how quickly time flies.

Someone posted this great poem in FB, Its by Rose Milligan and I think it’s says it all, I have  definitely given up dusting and concentrate on more important stuff 🙂

Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there’s not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear, and books to read;
Friends to cherish, and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world’s out there
With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair;
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it’s not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust.

—————

And here is one of the easiest and most delicious almond tart recipe. I have done it many times and it always get lots of praise, so I better save it here before my piece of paper disappears under the dust 🙂

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Almond Tart

For the pastry:

175g self – raising flour

25g icing sugar

25g ground almonds

75g butter

For the almond filling:

100g blanched whole almonds ( I have used ground almonds or almond flakes as well if I don’t have whole almonds handy)

100 g caster sugar

25g plain flour

2 large eggs

few drops of almond essence

2tbsp apricot preserve (or more)

25g flaked almonds

icing sugar for dusting

500g fresh raspberries to serve

  1. Heat the oven to 190 C/ Gas Mark 5.
  2. Sift the flour and icing sugar to the bowl and add the ground almonds. Mix.
  3. Add the butter in pieces and rub it all together with your fingertips.
  4. Add few tbsp. cold water and mix it all together to the soft dough
  5. Line tart tin (23cm diameter with loose base) with dough and chill until you get the filling ready
  6. For the filling buzz the almonds to fine crumbs in the food processor
  7. Add the butter, sugar, flour, eggs, almond essence and buzz again until you have smooth paste.
  8. Spread the apricot conserve over the pastry tart base.
  9. Spoon in the almond mixture and spread level.
  10. Scatter with flaked almonds
  11. Bake the tart on Gas Mark 5 and then lower heat to Gas Mark 4 and bake further 15 min until the filling is set and tart is golden.
  12. Allow to cool.
  13. Dust with plenty of icing sugar and serve with raspberries.

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And for the music choice I suggest this – love it!!!

 

Paleo seed muffins – Day 2 of becoming healthy

There is one thing, what most of people will miss, when turning to paleo – bread. We don’t realise how dependent our diet is from bread. Especially in UK, where lunch usually contains sandwich and other food you shouldn’t consume daily basis.  Paleo diet excludes all grains so traditional breads are out of the question. But there are options, You can make bread like buns/muffins, which only contain ingredients, which have green light from Paleo.

Seed buns- paleo

2 large carrots greated

3 free range eggs

Seeds (as much you like) I used mixture of seeds – sunflower, pumpkin, golden linseed

sea salt

1tsp baking powder

1sp olive oil

almond flour or coconut flour (I added bit of both) just enough to make dough like mixture

Share the dough in to the 12 hole muffin tin and bake at Gas mark 5 about 30 minutes.

Seed buns2- paleo

I love them with butter. Kerrygold is my favourite! I haven’t used any spreads for quite a while, I think if you have butter have a real thing! Kerrygold is a only butter in UK market, which uses milk from grass fed cows so it’s suitable for Paleo and it’s bloody lovely! When I feel really lush, I buy Beurre D’Isigny – famous Normandy butter.

Even my husband had quite a few muffins. Either he likes them or he’s really hungry as I don’t cook as many carbs, he used to 🙂

 

 

The best Chocolate Brownies recipe – Timo 10

I will write this post before it’s too late as Timo’s birthday was more than 2 weeks ago and I wanted to write down few things about my youngest. I can’t believe it has been already 10 years of being mum for 2 wonderful children, who sometimes drive me insane, but most of the time they are pleasure to be around, especially last couple of years they have really grown up and I can’t remember many cases I had to raise my voice.

Timo has always been mature for his age and very independent. You wouldn’t believe that few month old baby can be stubborn, but he definitely showed his strong will already then. I bottle fed him from very early age and he was always wriggling around and didn’t settle down on my arms – as soon I put him to his bed and placed the bottle on the pillow next to him, he calmed down and enjoyed his meal. So you can imagine he fed himself more-less when he was a year old.

We admired his determination to learn things. He must have been 7-8 month old and we had lovely time at my hometown beach, but Timo wouldn’t settle to play with sand or his toys, he was spending nearly an hour working out, how his pushchair clips work and he succeeded.

He chased his football around our courtyard in Parnu, when he was 1 and half  and he learned to kick amazingly and now at age of 10 his ball control is great and he has been asked to join local football club, but unfortunately he loves to do lots of things and there is only so many hours in a day so he had to give a miss to this one for time being.

He was on his bike being just 3 years old, with no stabilisers, whizzing long the beach. People were amazed and asked us how old he was.

And that how it been all his life, he always tries to learn things he interested of. At the moment he’s big passion is guitar, so his wish for his birthday was electric guitar and amplifier – I added some headphones, for us really :). He has been learning guitar rifts from You Tube.

Electric guitar

He can be handful and I can’t really teach him a lot as it seems in his head he thinks that you have to have qualification to teach someone. I can’t teach him maths, but he’s fine to take all the tips from his tutor. I can show him how to cook, daddy can show some motorbike stuff and his lovely sister aloud to explain some things only big sisters know.

Birthday boy

He is our lovely boy and we love him dearly.

Another things he loves – Chocolate cakes. He’s quite fussy about the cakes and traditional birthday cake might be good look at but he has no interest to eat it (it doesn’t always mean that you can have his piece of cake :))

Birthday Cake

His birthday cake was made after my favourite brownie recipe, it’s  the one thing he likes and it’s one I use when I need something quickly and I’m not sure what people would like. the browniw will be moist and plate empties quickly. I made kind of birthday cake out of it this time but usually it goes well just as a tray bake brownie. It’s probably one of my most used sweet recipe

You’ll need

225g butter

100 g cocoa powder

4 free range eggs

450 g caster sugar

vanilla extract

150 g self rising flour or 150g flour + 1tsp baking powder

Icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4.

Grease one 4cm deep, 28cm x 19cm baking tray and line with baking paper.

Melt the butter, remove it from the heat and stir the cocoa in, leave for 10 minutes.

Whisk the eggs and sugar and vanilla essence together until light an foamy. Stir in the cocoa mixture and flour and poor in to the baking tray.

Bake 35 minutes. If the top is firm, but middle is still on soft side, you done take it  out of the oven and leave it cool for 10 minutes. Turn over to the wire rack and peel of the paper. Leave it cool completely. When cool, cut to squares, dust with the icing sugar and enjoy.

If you want your brownies firmer, not so gooey, just add 50 grams of flour more. I did so, when I wanted it to use for a base of the cake.

Choclate Browniw Birthday Cake

Cinema Sunday

My lovely son was born on Friday the 13th of January and like every child, he loves his birthday parties, mostly because of the presents – you see, he’s very materialistic 🙂 So usually we have a cake and presents from us on actual day and as it usually school day we go to cinema and have lovely meal before.

Then, there have to be party with his friends and school mates. This year we had skiing party at Chatham, which was lovely as it was sunny day – finally, so fed up with this endless rain. We would love to go skiing holiday, my last one was before we had children, at Finland and it was brilliant, but it’s bloody expensive and can’t really afford it at the moment.

Then we needed party with family, so I came up with the idea of the family cinema party. It ended up as winter birthday party and there are 6 of us in our family with birthdays from December to February. I had great plans to choose the films,  I had vintage Coke bottles with colourful paper straws, proper homemade popcorn, cupcakes and pick and mix sweets. I had brilliant ideas for great photo-shoot. I had lovely bunting up, but I managed to take only few lousy photos, because I was so busy to serve the food and organise everything, so finally, when I got around to take some photos it was dark and the momentum was gone.

So my question is , how you all wonderful bloggers manage to take those fantastic pictures of your parties and everything looks so perfect? Makes me feel absolute failure.

Look at this picture from http://www.abeautifulmess.com/

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My parties never look on photos like this, even when they feel like this.

Examples of our party and only photos I actually managed to take:

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So where the bunting, Coke bottles and pop corn?

Anyway I will add recipe for muffins, mu daughter made. They fruity and moist. We made them heart shape, as it was Valentines and covered them with icing but you can skip the icing and they taste as lovely.

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 Berry and Cinnamon muffins

 115 g plain flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

salt

65 g light brown sugar ( we used light muscavado sugar)

1 egg

175ml milk

45 ml vegetable oil

1 -2 tbsp. cinnamon

115g  frozen berries ( we used mixture of rasberries, blackberries, redcurrants and black currants)

Mix all ingridients but berries with electric mixer, but as we had power cut, we used wooden spoon and hand power. Mix carefully the berries in, not to ahrd as this will break berries and fill greased muffin cases with mixture. It makes about 8  muffins. Bake at Gas  Mark 5/ 190C.

Let the muffins cool and you can decorate them with icing, We used 1 egg white, 230 g icing sugar, bit lemon juice and glycerine.

But they are lovely without icing as well, very moist and melting in your mouth.

Anyway they cheered me up despite my rubbish photos.

Happy late Valentines everyone! My husband bought me those.

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 … an listen U2-Ordinary Love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe 3. Oat-Chocolate Biscuits with Chocolate Buttons.

Here comes the recipe of the biscuits, which was approved by my son and this is a big thing, I tell you. Usually my children have just ice-creams for the puddings and they turn they nose up if I make traditional Estonian puddings or even tempt English favourites. So hearing my son to run my mother in law and the first words were how wonderful those biscuits were, really made my day and as the 20 biscuits disappeared from the plate within hour before I managed take any photos, I had to make another batch today.

Also, some self-rising flour got used up as well!

Oat-Chocolate Biscuits with Chocolate Buttons

150 grams soft butter

1,5 dl sugar

2tsp vanilla sugar

1 egg

2 dl jumbo oats

2,5 dl self-rising flour

1tsp baking powder

100 g chocolate (break in small pieces)

glazed chocolate buttons

Heat the oven to Gas mark 4/175 c.

Cream the soft butter with sugars until pale and then add egg, while keep beating the mixture.

Mix together all dry ingredients and add it to the egg mixture. Roll between your hands small balls and flatten them a bit. Put them on the baking sheets which are covered with the baking paper. Sprinkle with chocolate buttons and bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Cool them on the cooling rack

Bon appetite! Your children will be hooked (and your husband 🙂 )

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Dish a day 2. Spelt Flour Cinnamon Pancakes

Here the second day of the challenge and I need use up some spelt flour. Spelt is very similar to the wheat but it has so much more taste and it’s healthier. You can substitute wheat flour in most of the recipes with the spelt and it has such a lovely nutty taste. Even so I could go on about spelt health benefits; my family didn’t think much of it mostly because of cinnamon. I have grown up with cinnamon and it was added almost to any pudding. I had semolina porridge with sugar and cinnamon, apple cakes sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, “kringel” made with cocoa and cinnamon and so on. So I love the smell and taste of it, but not my family 🙁  My husband said he grow to hate it when he was in America at summer camp, children aren’t just not very eager to get know new tastes but I enjoyed them with all my heart and felt like being back in my childhood.

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The recepie idea comes from Signe Johansen book “Scandilicious”.

Spelt Flour Cinnamon Pancakes

350 g spelt flour ( or 250 g wholemeal spelt flour and 150 refined spelt flour)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp golden caster sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

350 ml milk

50 ml soured cream (or plain yogurt)

50 g melted butter

2 eggs

butter and vegetable oil for frying

Stir all dry ingredients together. make a well in the middle, add all the liquid ingredients and stir all together. Set aside for 30 minutes – it allows flour to expand and helps to make thicker pancakes.

Preheat oven to the lowest temperature so you could keep pancakes warm.

Melt 1 tsp butter and 1 tsp vegetable oil together in a large frying pan. Once it’s hot, put small ladleful of batter in the centre of the pan and then fry them over the medium heat. The batter will be quite thick and bubbly. Flip it over, when it starts to turn golden.

Serve them with some crème fraiche and fruit compote, or Greek yogurt and blueberries, golden syrup or with your favourite jam (thanks Peter for your wonderful Wild Plum Jam).

Unfortunately they won’t be made in this household very often, but do try if you up for healthier version and bit of a difference.

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Dish a day!

I have wanted to start this blog long time ago and always found excuse – mainly I have no time, which is not strictly true as I have plenty of time to watch some rubbish TV. So from today for a month I’ll post one dish or meal I had on the day. So there will be 30 dishes coming on your way 🙂 Also I try to use one ingredient from my cupboard, which have been hiding behind everything too long.

Ttoday the first thing I found was cornmeal and with cup of tea some Bacon – Chilli muffins sounded perfect for me.

2 eggs

350 grams of plain yogurt + 100 grams of soured cream (can be all one or other, it was combination I founded from my fridge)

50 g butter

65 g plain flour

2 tsp or maybe less if bacon is salty

1 tsp biocarbonate of soda

275g cornmeal (I used fine one)

4 rashers of bacon

1tsp chilli flakes or use fresh chilli if you preffer

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Before

First grill or fry bacon and crumble it to small pieces. Whisk 2 eggs in a big bowl then add yogurt or sour cream or both. Add also melted butter and whisk everything together. Sift flour, salt and soda together and add to the mixture. Then add cornmeal gradually, crumbled bacon and chilli flakes. 1tsp chilli flakes makes quite hot muffins so add bit less if you want them bit milder.

Grease muffin tray with bacon fat left over from cooking or with bit of oil. Fill to about 3/4 with the muffin mixture and bake on Gas Mark 6/ 200C for 20 minutes.

I enjoyed them with roasted onion cream cheese and Red onion chutney and delicious it was!

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After – Bacon – Chilli Muffins

 

 

UPDATE! Our Labrador Lonni has finished them off as we left them stupidly on the table. Mhm…how the digestion goes with this chilli – burned bum me thinks 🙂