Bohemian Damson Plum Jam (Böhmisches Pflaumenmus)

I just love marmalades and jams. I can’t get enough of them and I never buy them: all my marmalades and jams are homemade. One of my favourites is Damson Plum Jam – a Bohemian specialty that is being made in the oven. Since you can’t buy damson plums here in Barcelona, I had some imported from Germany. So if you can get your hands on some, I highly recommend trying this delicious recipe:

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Homemade Damson Plum Jam with homemade Rye Bread

Ingredients:

1 kg ripe damson plums

200 g raw brown cane sugar

1-2 cinnamon sticks (you can alternatively add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon)

5 cloves

Optional:

1 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar

1 shot of Rum

Preparation:

Cut the plums in half and extract the stones. Take some of the sugar and cover the inside of a large and high, oven proof skillet. Cover the bottom of the skillet with your first layer of plum halves (cut side facing down). Spread more sugar over them. Add the next layer of plum halves and spread more sugar on top of them, and so on until you added all the plums and sugar to the skillet. Before adding the last layer, add the cinnamon sticks or powder, the cloves and vinegar. Cover with a lid and let it rest in the fridge over night.

Before Resting

Let the plums & spices rest in the fridge overnight 

Preheat the oven to 180º C (fan). Sterilise the marmalade jars. Add the skillet (without lid) to the oven and leave a wooden cooking spoon stuck in the oven door, so that the humid steam can escape. Close the door after 30mins. Don’t stir! Lower the temperature to 150ºC and leave inside for about 3h.

Take out the skillet and transfer to the stove in order to maintain the temperature. Take out the cinnamon sticks and cloves (you might have to really search for them). Puree with the help of a hand mixer and add some rum if you like to. Fill into sterilised marmalade glasses and close them properly. Let them rest and cool down upside down in order to achieve the vacuum effect.

Before filling into jars

After puréeing the plums

You can store the Bohemian Damson Plum Jam for up to one year!

Cold Melon Soup

Here in Barcelona it’s summer – hot hellish like summer. These days a heat wave struck and combined with BCN’s usual humidity, I’m far from being hungry, and all I can think of when it comes to eating is having something cold, light, healthy & easy to make. Most head for a salad or – when thinking about cold soups – a Gazpacho, but a real good alternative to those rather known summer dishes is a cold melon soup:

SopaDeMelon

Ingredients (4 servings):

1/2 ‘Piel de Sapo’ melon

1/2 cucumber (a piece about 20cm long)

2 garlic cloves

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (use a special one for salads – not for cooking)

salt & pepper to season

Chives

Optional:

A few slices of Jamón Ibérico Bellota – Pata Negra

You can also add some mint leaves that you puree in the beginning with the other ingredients.

Preparation:

Peel the cucumber, cut it and the melon into even pieces, and put them into a high bowl. Peel the garlic and add it as well. Puree everything with a mixer. Add 2-3 spoons of olive oil at the end and mix well. Season with salt & pepper and leave in the fridge for at least 1h. If you want to add a bit of jamón bellota, take it out of the fridge about 20mins before serving the soup so it can evolve its full flavours at room temperature.

Fill the cold soup into soup plates. Rip the jamón gently into pieces and place those in the middle of the soup. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over it and garnish with some chopped chives and the entire chive stems.

The Healthy Bake (vegan & vegetarian)

Today we fancied something fast, light & healthy, yet warm for dinner. As my better half is currently having some dietary restrictions, I was giving the options a good thought and came up with this easy to make one-tray-recipe – I just love putting everything into the oven and that all comes out cooked to perfection and ready to serve:

HealthyBake3

The Healthy Veggie Bake also makes as a perfect Side Dish

Ingredients (makes 2 servings as a main course):

1/2 big butternut squash pumpkin

1 big white sweet potato (you can also use a normal sweet potato)

4 big carrots

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)

Preparation (5mins + 30mins cooking time):

Preheat the oven (fan) to 180ºC.

Cut all the veggies into even pieces (the carrot pieces should also be a bit thicker) and place them into an oven dish (I lined mine additionally with parchment paper), drizzle some Extra Virgin Olive Oil over them and season with salt & ground black pepper. Place the oven dish on the medium level in your oven.

HealthyBake1

Optional: Pumpkin is great combined with parmesan cheese, so if you are feeling cheesy, take the oven dish out after about 20mins and cover the vegetables in a thin layer of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and put it back into the oven for another 10mins. Enjoy!!

HealthyBake2

Mmmmm, Parmigiano!

(Healthy) Weekend Pancakes

Pancakes – they seem to be craved by everyone recently so I decided to give it a go and finally create my own recipe of delicious & even healthy tortitas!

I’ve been trying various combinations of ingredients and came down to a healthy and a less healthy version (depending on which flour you’re using).

Ingredients for 2:

1 egg (egg replacer for my vegan friends: 1 egg = 1 TSP baking powder + 1/2 TSP baking soda + 2 TBSPs flour + 3 TBSPs water – all mixed well

1 cup of buckwheat or normal flour

2 TSPs baking powder

1 cup milk

1/2 or 1 small ripe banana

1 TSP chia seeds

2 TSPs vanilla extract or one vanilla bean

1/2 TSP cinnamon

1/3 cup raw sugar

Preparation:

Mix all ingredients well and bake in a well-greased pan (I use butter but you can also use vegetable oil) at medium temperature from each side until golden brown. I have a pancake pan so I get the same pancake size all the time – but you shouldn’t need a whole ladle filling in order to get one pancake – I get 8 pancakes out of the mix above.

Healthy_Pancakes

Healthy Pancakes with a Cottage Cheese, Blueberry & Agave Syrup Topping

The Best Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (non-vegan or vegan)

What to do with overly ripe bananas – I say, let them ripen & ripen until overripe and make some banana bread!

Ingredients:

4 ripe bananas

1/2 cup / 125 g butter or vegan margarine

2 eggs or substitute them with egg replacer powder accordingly (or 1 egg = 1 TSP baking powder + 1/2 TSP baking soda + 2 TBSPs flour + 3 TBSPs water – all mixed well)

1 cup / 215 g raw brown sugar

1,5 cups / 250 g flour

1 TSP baking powder

1 TSP vanilla extract

1/2 TSP salt

1/2 TSP cinnamon

1 cup / 170 g chocolate chips

BananaBreadMixture

Preparation:

Preheat your oven (fan) to about 350ºF / 180ºC.

Mash the bananas until fine & smooth. In another bowl melt the butter or margarine, let it cool down a bit and fold in the sugar. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract & cinnamon in yet another bowl. Add two beaten eggs (or the egg replacement) and the butter / sugar mix to the banana mash and combine well, then mix in the combined dry ingredients. Fold in the chocolate chips and pour all into a well-greased loaf pan.

Bake for about an hour – my banana bread took 50mins to bake, so definitely check it with a cake tester (you can also use a skewer or toothpick).

BananaBread

My style TLC Spanish Chickpea White Bean Stew (vegan – or non-vegan)

I just love to feel comfy & warm – especially now that it’s cold outside. And I love to eat soups and hearty dishes when it’s that time of the year. So what do you get when you combine a soup with a hearty dish?: a comfort food stew!

Ingredients:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Chorizo (if you opt for the non-vegan version – cut it up a bit, so the juices can get out while cooking)

1 white onion, chopped

2 green Italian peppers, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

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optional:

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 big carrot, cut into quarters and then into fine slices

1 big potato, diced

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400g chickpeas (soak them in water overnight or use a jar of pre-cooked ones)

400g white beans (soak them in water overnight or use a jar of pre-cooked ones)

500-750ml vegetable broth (depending on the desired consistency – you’ll get some thickness from the beans)

salt

white ground pepper

about 2 TSPs smoked paprika spice (Spanish one, if possible – I really recommend using this one as it provides the needed smokiness for the vegetarian/ vegan version)

Pimenton de la Vera

Preparation:

Pour about 4 TBSPs of olive oil into a cooking pot, add the onions, the carrots and the smoked paprika spice to the cold olive oil, stir well and let them cook at high heat for about 2mins. Lower the heat to a medium heat and add the garlic, the chorizo (for the meaty version), your Italian peppers and the red bell pepper. Let it simmer for about 5-8 more minutes.

Now add 500-750ml of vegetable broth and the diced potato and bring to a boil. Lower the heat again, but make sure it keeps boiling. After 5 more minutes add the rinsed chickpeas. Boil on medium to low heat for 10 more minutes until the potato dices are fully cooked. Now add the rinsed white beans, let them heat up and season everything with salt and pepper according to taste, switch off the hotplate, but leave the covered cook pot on, so the taste develops. The stew will taste better the next day, as most stews do.

Spanish Chickpea Bean Stew

The Healthier Option: Unfried Sweet Potato Fries

Love sweet potato fries? Me, too! Since I had that delicious treat for the first time back in 2010 in NYC, I’ve always preferred them as a side or a snack whenever available. I’m not a huge fan of fried food usually, and I like it healthy so since they are in season over here at the moment, I thought let’s give it a go and bake them in the oven. And the result was oh sooo good! This is yet another super easy recipe and just perfect for a snack or as a side dish.

Ingredients:

1 huge sweet potato or basically as many as you like or as many as your baking tray can hold 😉

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Fleur de Sel or sea salt

Sweet Potato Fries

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (fan). Meanwhile peel the sweet potato(es) and cut it into evenly long pieces. Line out your baking tray with parchment paper and spread the sweet potato pieces all over it. Drizzle some Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I used a pastry brush to glaze all sweet potato pieces evenly with olive oil) over them and season your fries with salt. If you like the taste you can furthermore season them with freshly ground black pepper.

Cook the fries during 20mins – if finely cut they shouldn’t take longer than that.

Recommendation: Serve them with some BBQ sauce – that is just an unbeatable combination!