My favorite does’t exist! Depending on the season, the place where I’m at the moment, our activity (cooking, travel, resting…) and simply at the moment, I can be impressed by all the colors. In general I love bright colors, I love the light and I avoid the dark.
Especially on Crete, my favorite place in the world, I love to sit and look at the blue sky and the blue sea; I can understand why so many song tel about this nature.
For this reason I decided to choose “Blue” for this challenge! I hope you will like my quick selection of photos of my travels (not only Crete! 🙂
This year I did not prepare Christmas cookies, but know I really wished to prepare something special, something from my town (Basel, Switzerland) where it is popular in bakeries and even grocery stores.
I’ve already prepared Leckerli, or better in Swiss German “Läckerli” or “Läggerli”, several times, but it was long time ago as I prepared them. Once I also used this recipe to build a cute gingerbread house.
This year I’ve revised my old recipe and I’ve decided to propose these cookies into small bites for longer pleasure. I love to take one, let turn soft in the mouth and then melt!
These cookies are dense, quite dry and wonderfully flavored with honey (I used the honey of our bees!), spices, citrus and almonds. They are something like “hard gingerbread” combined with candied fruits; no candied ginger is included in this traditional recipe. You are free to add some if you wish!
Basler Läckerli date back to the 15th century as they were created at the time of the Basel Council (1431 to 1449) to sustain the assembled church dignitaries. The word “Läkerli” comes from “lecker” ant it meas “delicious” in German and “-li” is a diminutive suffix in the Swiss-German language.
Homemade Basler Leckerli - Swiss Gingerbread from Basel
In a heavy pot, bring honey with sugar to boil. Remove from the heat.
Add all the other ingredients except flour and baking powder. Mix well.
Add half of the flour and stir to combine the hand mixer provided with dough hooks. Now add the rest of the flour and the baking powder, work with the hooks until well combined and the dough does not stick to the finger (be careful, it is hot). If necessary, add more flour.
Turn the dough on a well-floured working surface and knead well.
Sprinkle the dough with flour (in this way the dough will not stick on the rolling pin) and roll it out the dough out on parchment foil placed directly in the baking try. It should be about 6 mm thick. As the dough is very hard, it is easier if somebody helps you to hold the tray and the parchment foil.
Let sit for at least one hour or best overnight.
Bake for 15-18 minutes at 220°C in a preheated oven (or 200°C if using a convection oven).
In the meanwhile, prepare the glaze: heat sugar with water until the sugar is melt, let simmer until the syrup turns thick and you see that at the borders of the pot the first crystals begins to form (this takes about five minutes).
Remove from the oven and immediately cut the dough (I used the pizza cutter) rectangular pieces of about 3,5X5 cm (for the standard size) or, as in my case if you prefer into 1,5X1,5cm bites.
Brush the still warm Läckerli with the hot glaze. At this point, the syrup should built crystals and a wonderful white shining cover will glaze the Läckerli.
As soon as the glaze is turning white, separate the Läckerli again, let cool down and dry out completely.
Store in airtight container up to 6 month.
Glaze (Modern variation): this replace the step “7” above
250 g powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons “Kirsch”
In while the cookies are in the oven, combine powdered sugar with water and Kirsch. If necessary, add one more tablespoon Kirsch (or water). Stir until well-combined and very thick.
Each year we grow some pumpkin on or compost and just before the winter comes we collect them and we keep the in the cold cellar for the winter.
A few days ago, we needed some salad or veggies to complete or dinner but one of my guest had a dental surgery and only soft ingredients could be considered. At once, I remembered my pumpkin and I imagined that this would be perfect for this purpose.
I’ve also thought a lot about the way to serve this and how I can transform this in a very special dish.
This had be great in taste and appealing for the eye!
From another recipe (that at that moment I could not find again) I remembered a wonderful dressing which I loved so much and which could be used for this recipe.
The topping is crunchy, and except of the guest who had some dental problems, the caramelized nuts would add taste and texture to the melt in the mouth pumping slices.
For the arrangement I found some mini bowls (in effect candle holders! ) and I began to arrange the slices in the small dishes like flowers. I’ve placed the remaining slices in a separate bowl; after pouring the dressing over them I waited for my guests!
We didn’t expect so much success with this, the remaining had gone quickly and probably I’ve could have made the double quantity!
At the end, the remaining sauce at the bottom of the dish had been enjoyed with some homemade rustic bread.
I will make this again for sure many times!
Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Lime and Herbs Dressing
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or winter savoury (winter savoury is my choice as I have this in the garden), finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon honey
Salt (about 1/2 teaspoon) and pepper to taste
50 g sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
50 g walnuts or pecan,
1 pinch chili powder
1 big pinch salt
Additional olive oil, to taste
Peel the pumpkin, remove the seeds and cut into ½ cm slices.
Place the slices in a big bowl and toss with olive oil.
Arrange the slices in a baking tray overlapping them slightly.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C until the pumpkin is soft and the borders begins to turn brown. This takes about 20-30 minutes.
Remove from the heat and set aside.
In the meanwhile combine all the ingredients for the dressing
Heat slowly the sugar with lime juice in small non-sticky skillet until sugar melts and it begins to take color. Add nuts, chili powder and salt stirring to coat them well. Let roast for 1 minute. Pour the mixture on a baking sheet and let cool down completely. After this time, chop to 1/2 cm pieces.
Pour the dressing over the pumpkin or place the pumpkin into single portions dishes and pour the dressing over them. Let marinate at least 30 minutes.
Just before serving, drizzle some more olive oil and sprinkle with the caramelized nuts. Serve with a slice of rustic bread
Atole is a Mexican corn beverage drink that is served since Aztec times during festivities. At this time the plain atole was prepared by cooking maize (corn) with water and lime until soft; then ground and cooked until thickened.
If milk is added, it is called atole de leche and if also chocolate is added, this preparation is called champurrado.
Other variation include the bark of cacao (atole de cascara), honey (atole de agua miel), red chile (atole de chile) or the native brown sugar called piloncillo (atole de pinolei).
The addition of chocolate came probably from the Mayan culture and until now in Yucatan (old Mayan territories) they serve a thick chocolate atole perfumed with honey, black pepper and allspice called tanchcua.
As you see there are many different ways to prepare this beverage, I will give you my version; however, you may adapt it to your taste!
For the decoration of the picture I used the “muñequitas” which I bought in Mexico almost 30 years ago in “San Cristobal de La Casas” (Chiapas) and which we still keep for the pleasure of our eyes and souvenirs.
Champurrado - Mexican Hot Chocolate with Corn Flour