Rum and Cake

Or “I Don’t Usually Celebrate Valentine’s Day, But When I Do…” I make this!

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It doesn’t look very pretty…but it has chocolate and rum in it! It doesn’t have to be pretty! 🙂

Anyway, a while ago I got the recipe for this chocolate cake. I always wanted to try it out, but I could never find the right moment. Which is silly! Any moment is the right one for a chocolate cake! 🙂

As I said, I normally don’t celebrate the 14th of February. I’m not against this day or anything, it’s just that for me it’s like any other day. But this year I’ve decided that today was the right moment to bake a cake. A chocolate cake. With a hint of rum. 😉

Here are the ingredients:

  • 250g dark chocolate
  • 100g sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 100g milk
  • 4 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 200g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 50g rum

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Melt chocolate and butter, with sugar and milk.

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Remove from the heat, let the mixture cool, then add eggs, flour and baking powder.

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Mix well together, and finally add the rum.

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Put it in a baking pan and cook it in the oven (180°C) for 25 minutes.

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Enjoy!

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

30

As in “Today is November the 30th” or “Last Sunday it was my birthday and I turned 30”.

30.

A few days before my birthday, I was a little anxious about turning 30. What scared me the most was not the number itself, but the idea of what you should have accomplished by 30, and what you should be doing at 30.

What have I done so far? What are my plans? Am I doing the right thing? Am I running late? Am I leaving myself behind?

While I was anxiously pondering all of that, someone very wise told me that I shouldn’t worry. Not so much. It’s not written anywhere what  you should be doing at 30, or what you should have done by then. That’s for you to decide.

So, I decided to enjoy my birthday. And it was a good decision indeed. 🙂

I cooked and baked and shared with a few friends what I prepared. I made myself the best cheesecake ever! The candles in the pictures where on top of it. I forgot to take a nice picture of the cake, sorry about that.

On Sunday, M. and I went to Bergamo. We enjoyed a warm and sunny autumn day, in a city I had never visited before. It’s a beautiful place, but I forgot to take my camera with me, so I don’t have any picture to show you. Sorry!

I know, I start forgetting too many things. But hey, I’m already 30…I’m getting old! 😉

Mini pavlovas, pesto and crème brûlée

When you’re feeling down and you’re wondering what to do, cooking is always a good answer.

That’s what I’ve been doing these past few days. I cooked and baked and ate.

Inspired by a friend’s wedding cake, I decided it was time to try and make another pavlova. I had already made a few (ehm, three) back in 2007, and they were quite good. So I put my oven to the test, and made about a dozen mini meringues. With some a lot of whipped cream and fresh fruit (kiwi and raspberries) on top, I had a dozen nice and pretty mini pavlovas. Here’s one.

It looks a bit messy, but it was delicious!

As it was the pesto I made using the basil I’m growing. My pasta looked like this (and tasted great!)

My basil plant now looks like this

Then what to do with the egg yolks left over from the meringue recipe? Crème brûlée!

Voilà!

Just Another Banana Bread Recipe

What to do when the sweet yellow bananas you bought start to get brownish and way too sweet? Make a banana bread.

I made this one yesterday, using the following recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 90g melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g sugar
  • 1 bag (8g) of vanilla sugar
  • 250g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 very ripe bananas

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Whisk eggs and sugar together, until sugar has completely dissolved. You should obtain a yellowish, smooth cream.

Slowly add butter, and keep stirring.

Apart mix all dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and baking powder). Add to the sugar-egg-butter mix and stir well.

Then add the mashed bananas.

You can also add chocolate chips or a dash of cinnamon or chopped nut, but that’s optional.

Pour batter into a greased and floured loaf pan.

Bake for 1 hour.

I like a piece of it in the morning with a cappuccino, in the afternoon with some tea, or in the evening, after dinner, with a sprinkle of icing sugar and a glass of milk.

Please note that I wrote “or in the evening”! I’m not eating three pieces of banana bread a day…at least not every day! 😉

How Green Is My Lasagna

I love veggies.

I’m not vegetarian, but I definitely prefer to cook and eat vegetables.

Broccoli is one thing that I can’t do without. I usually make it with pasta, and I have this super easy recipe. Just cut the broccoli in pieces, put them in boiling salted water, and after a couple of minutes add the pasta. Let everything cook, according to the time suggested on the package of the kind of past you’ve chosen. Then drain the pasta and broccoli, put them back in the pan, add some olive oil or butter, and sprinkle with some grated cheese (Parmesan will do, but lately I’ve been using Old Amsterdam cheese). And it’s now ready to serve.

It’s so delicious that we have it almost once a week, and I was a bit afraid of using the broccoli not for the usual recipe, but to try something new.

But I like experimenting new recipes, so I decided to make a green lasagna.

I used about half kilo broccoli. After cutting it in pieces, I sauteed it with a bit of olive oil and a clove of garlic. I cooked it for about 10-15 minutes, adding a bit of water once in a while. I seasoned it with a sprinkle of salt. Then I pureed the broccoli with a food processor.

While the broccoli puree cooled down, I prepared the bechamel. I melted in a pan 30g of butter, then I added 30g of flour. I mixed it well, and then I started adding slowly 450ml of warm milk. I seasoned it with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and I kept stirring until the sauce was thicker.

I added the broccoli puree to the bechamel and mixed well.

I then greased a baking tray with a bit of butter and a small spoonful of the “green bechamel”, and started layering lasagna-broccoli bechamel-generous handful of grated cheese-lasagna-broccoli bechamel-grated cheese and so on.

I put it in the oven, and after 30 minutes I had a lovely dinner!

My First Two Months After Quitting a Crappy Job

Exactly two months ago, on March 11th, I quit my job.

I had been working for the company-I-shall-not-name since June 2010. Nine months. Not a very long time, but long enough to make me lose 5 kilos and almost get crazy. But even though I was getting crazy and crazier, more and more stressed, and even a little depressed, it took me quite some time to make up my mind and decide to leave.

I kept telling myself that maybe I could stay a little bit longer, it wasn’t so bad after all. Actually, it was! The team had been understaffed since before Christmas, the amount of work was getting higher and higher, and the amount of stress as well. The supervisor was a mess, and to be honest the salary wasn’t that great.

But I had a salary after all, didn’t I? That’s true. But was it worth almost getting sick for so little a salary? Having the privilege to choose and take some time off, I finally made my decision.

Eventually I told my supervisor that I didn’t like how the project was managed, that I had enough and in two weeks I was leaving. And after two very, very, very long weeks, finally the moment to say goodbye arrived. Freedom, at last!

It’s been now two months since I have left the company-I-shall-not-name. How is it going? Great!

Now I get the time to do all the things I didn’t have time to do while I was working.

I picked up some knitting projects, and I’m making some attempts at crafting. I’m trying out new recipes, and I’m baking cakes. I also eat them 🙂 (with a little help from M.) but I didn’t gain my 5 kilos back. Which is not a bad thing, after all.

Pear and ginger cake

I can also go shopping! When I was working either the shops where closed (in what country the shops close at 5 pm?? The Netherlands…) or I was too tired to go out. Now I can go out, even just for a walk, whenever I want.

I keep reading, the only difference is that I’m on the couch – with a coup of tea and a piece of cake – and I don’t have to stop reading because I have to get off the train. Or because I’m too tired after a day at work, and my eyes are closing.

I started gardening. I’m growing a sunflower and some herbs. I got celery, parsley, chives and basil. They’re still too small, not quite enough to season the new recipes I’m trying, but I’ll just have to wait a little bit.

Home garden

I also started this blog. Like my plants, this blog too will grow with time? We’ll see.

While I do all these things, I’m also taking the time to think what I really want to do with my life. So since a few weeks I’ve started a course on translation. Now it’s a good time to go back to something I studied and I like (and was good at. Let me brag a little!).

I’m still not sure where I will end up. What I’m sure of is that I’m finally trying to be the one who makes things happen, and not just wait to stumble upon them by chance.