Daring Bakers - Age of steam!

Apple Cinnamon Steamed Pudding

In my opinion British Cuisine is sometimes underrated. I love the simple approach to food, both savoury and sweet. Perhaps because I tend to think of some British traditional puddings when I'm craving something sweet as comfort food: a warm crumble, a splash of custard or a spoonful of sponge pudding. And Britons know their way around puddings, that's for sure! The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet. I've decided for a butter based version of steamed pudding with a fruit base.

A butter based version of steamed pudding

Apple Cinnamon Steamed Pudding
Adapted from BBC Good Food

350g apples, sliced
200g caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
125g unsalted butter
few drops natural vanilla extract
2 medium eggs, beaten
175g self-raising flour

Cook the sliced apples with 75g of the sugar and the spices over a gentle heat for 2-3 minutes until just starting to soften. Remove from heat.
Grease a 900ml pudding basin. Put butter and remaining sugar in a bowl and cream together. Stir in vanilla extract, then beat in eggs, a little at a time. Sift in flour and carefully fold into the mixture.
Spoon fruit into the bottom of the basin, then spoon the sponge mixture on top and level off surface.
Butter a piece of greaseproof paper slightly bigger than the top of the pudding basin. Make a pleat in the centre and secure over the top of basin. Repeat with a piece of foil, then secure the whole thing with string. Place in a pan half filled with simmering water. Cover and cook for 1½ hrs, checking regularly that the pan does not boil dry. Remove cover, invert the pudding onto a plate, then carefully lift off the pudding basin. Serve with crème fraîche or single cream.

My thoughts on the challenge:
- Suet is not my thing so I've decided to go with butter instead;
- This recipe is a charm to make, and very versatile if you use a different fruit/spice combination like I did;
- The cooking technique is quite easy if you follow instructions. Also called Bain Marie, it requires only a pot of simmering water and a bit of attention;
- I've served mine with plain greek yoghurt.

Have a look at all the wonderful puddings at Daring Kitchen!


Food for uncertain weather

Spicy sweet potato chips

Spring is not the best of seasons.
Cold and flu are two good reasons;
wind and rain and other sorrow,
warm today and cold tomorrow.

Its author unknown, its style almost puerile - these verses are anything but an ode to Spring! I love shinny bright springy days and green and white trees with the promises of summer fruit as much as I love the beautiful white-ish flowers of my thyme. But that doesn't stop me from being unsure with the weather and crave comforting oven dishes: food for uncertain weather! I also pack a sweater and an umbrella every time I leave the house, just in case... Nothing like enjoy the moment and be ready for whatever the weather brings!

Sweet potato chips + Thyme flowers

Baked Sweet Potato Chips

serves 2

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
salt, ground cumin, paprika, ground ginger, to taste (about 1/3 tsp each)
1 tbsp olive oil
fleur de sel to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 200ºC (400ºF). In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, olive oil, and spice mixture. Toss until potatoes are evenly coated. Arrange potatoes in a single layer in an ovenproof shallow dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and crisp. Sprinkle with fleur de sel. Serve immediately.


City of your dreams?

MACBA Barcelona

To some it must have palm trees and open waters reaching for the infinite, to other it's just memories sedimented, coming and going like the sea. The city of your dreams is where you want it to be, at your doorstep or on the other side of the world - the exact spot where your brain becomes your heart, and as they say keeps passions forever.

[Pictured above is the work of John Baldessari in the exhibition Pure Beauty presented by MACBA - Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona. All Barcelona photos by Mr. Taster, aka the husband.]


It was in another century that Mr. Taster and I fell in love with Barcelona. Still living fame and fortune of having held the Olympics a couple of years before, the city was full of interest and life. We were twenty years old and an entire life to be back. In our bag we packed Frank Gehry's fish, the narrow streets of Gothic Quarter, the atrium at the Textile Museum and the sea view from the Olympic Port [all above]. We also took the hot chocolate aroma and some spoonfuls of crema catalana with the promise to taste it again and again. Fifteen years went by whilst we (re)arranged memories to make them perfect. Last week we arrived to a very different Barcelona - one we didn't quite remember. Strange, long lost memory. No city survives the expectations built over a decade and a half of wait. Our only hope was for the passion to happen once more...

1929. The Barcelona Pavilion

And it did one morning when visiting the German National Pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition. Considered an example of Modern architecture, it was designed by Mies van der Rohe and reconstructed on its original site on Montjuïc in the 80's. It started here the story of an unknown city that won our heart. For the second time.