burnt toast

Tag: vanilla

Spring Fizz

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It’s summer guys! Confusing Swiss summer. I’m surprisingly okay with that. No sweating! No sunburn! And lots of happy green trees having a ball of a time. Gentle monsoons is where we’re at.

In order to celebrate the very agreeable climate had here, I thought I’d serve you up a nice little tipple. This is what I’ve been nipping at in the past few months, at first because I was in the mood for something a little less heavy, and then later because there was an inordinate need for something refreshing and citrusy to reflect the parasol- and gumboot clad world outside.

 

Spring Fizz

Adapted from this recipe . Serves 1.

Ice

2 tsp orange, lemon and vanilla syrup – recipe below

2 tsp lime juice

3 shakes bitters

15 ml sweet vermouth

30 ml gin

1 strip lime rind

30 – 60 ml sparkling water

Fill a tumbler with ice. Drizzle over the syrup and juice. Add the bitters, vermouth and gin. Rub the lime rind around the rim of the glass, give it a bit of a squeeze and drop it in. Give everything a good stir and top it with as much sparkling water as you’d like.

 

Orange, Lemon and Vanilla Syrup

1 orange

1 lemon

½ tsp vanilla seed paste or ½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped

250g sugar

300ml water

Using a vegetable peeler, remove as much of the orange and lemon peel as you can. Transfer to a small saucepan. Juice the orange and the lemon, adding that to the peel. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes (maybe more), until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and let it cool. When it’s reached room temperature, remove the peel and pour into a large jar. Keeps for a few weeks in the fridge.

Punching it up

white peach and vanilla punch

Lets talk about punch.

It can be a delight to the tastebuds or evidently a punch in the stomach. Preferably, I go for option a. There is nothing I despise more than a bowl of fizzed up sugary nail polish remover with three kilos of fruit salad bobbing around the bucket, waiting for their unpredicted fate.

I don’t like fruit salad. It is boring as hell. The worst kind you can get is on the airplane, as a half frozen dessert component of your western vegetarian meal. The best is possibly the one you make at home, made with a maximum of 4 different fruit at the peak of their season. Less is more. I feel the same about punches. The fewer fruit, the better. Let their individual personalities shine baby, let them be the centrepiece of the tastebud tango.

In this case, it’s just peaches. White peaches. Their alluring, fruity sexiness, combined with the musky aroma of the vanilla seeds – their combined effort results in what I like to call “the little black dress of punch.”

White Peach and Vanilla Punch

Now I don’t have to tell you that this will be no good if the peaches aren’t ripe, or even worse, if you use the tinned version. All good? Bring out your best crystal, lover.

Makes lots, or a bit over 2.5 Litres

6 beautifully ripe white peaches

½ lemon, juice

2 tsp vanilla paste, or 2 vanilla pods, seeds

200g icing sugar

1 bottle (7 1/2 dl) of white wine

1 bottle (71/2 dl) champagne or prosecco

1 Litre of sparkling mineral water

Now first, we’re going to skin the peaches. Score a cross across the bottom of each one, then place them in a large bowl or plastic container. Fill up the kettle with water and bring to the boil. Pour over the peaches and let them soak for 2-4 minutes, or until the skins come off easily when poked with a finger. Drain, then pull the skins off. Now chop the flesh into eensy squares and put them back into the container. Squeeze over the lemon juice and add the vanilla paste, or the scraped out vanilla seeds. Stir in the icing sugar and add the bottle of wine. Swirl with a spoon to make sure all the icing sugar is dissolved, then cover and place in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably up to six. Then, when ready to serve, crack open the champers and the sparkling water and add to the mix. You may want to transfer everything (before adding the bubbles) into a fancier bowl, but I leave that up to you.

Cheers darling.

Vanilla

vanillekipferl

Once upon a time, far far away, there was a little girl that lived in Switzerland who loved Christmas. Every year she’d look forward to lighting the advent wreath, to baking cookies with her mum, to opening the Christmas calendar and to decorating the the cute little pine tree she had helped to pick at the markets. Then, if she was lucky, Santa and his donkey would come by and give her a little bag filled with juicy mandarins, chocolates and peanuts. And then finally, Christmas Day arrived, where she and all the other little children were smothered with gifts, while their families and relatives happily sat by, singing Christmas carols, while the snowflakes outside silently covered the rooftops and footpaths. That time of year was just magical.

On the other side of the world, quite a few years later, this now not so little girl is sitting on the veranda, covered in sunscreen with a cold drink next to her, wishing for the life of her that it will soon be January. No matter how many cute little Father Christmas-hat – bearing wallabies she sees, she is incapable of taking on the Christmas spirit. It’s just too fucking hot.

So reminiscing the past, Switzerland, and snowy Christmas days, here my favourite biscuit recipe. May you too have an awesomely hot/cold/dramatic Christmas, and may we perhaps one day meet on a cold and snowy night to bake biscuits. Merry merry.

Vanillekipferl

 

I am not much of a biscuit person, so it means quite something that I’m giving you a recipe for some here. They are beautifully simple vanillary melt-in-your-mouth shortbread-style mouthfuls of pleasure.

Makes heaps (or about 4 baking trays worth)

 

500g plain flour

½ tsp salt

300g icing sugar, plus extra to decorate

400g cold butter, cut into cubes

4 tsp vanilla essence

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

200g ground almonds

2 egg yolks

Combine the flour, salt, and icing sugar in a big bowl. Next, add the butter and rub it into the flour until it resembles coarse sand.

Add the rest of the ingredients and knead into a soft dough. Cover with clingwrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200°C. While keeping the dough as cool as possible, shape it into finger – thick sausages. Cut these into 2cm lengths, and roll them into “horns” or bananas or waxing moons or whatever you feel like calling them at that precise moment. Place them on a baking paper – clad tray and bake them for 10 – 15 minutes – they should barely have taken on any colour. A golden hue is perfect.

While the bickies are still warm, turn the biscuits in a plate filled with icing sugar. Once they’re cool, you can always sprinkle on more.

Great with a cup of Lady Grey tea.

Cheesecake

Look, I baked you a cake. Nice of me isn’t it? That’s because I love you. And because I just can’t eat a whole cheesecake by myself, I need help in sharing the calories. That’s what true friends are for.

Cheesecake was a coming of age thing for me. Like wine or maybe even blue cheese for some, it took me a good long time to get used to. Maybe because what I grew up with in Europe was nowhere near as good as what I’m getting my teeth into now. Mind, it has to be worth it. If I’m going to eat a piece of cream cheese as big as a brick I want to taste the calories please. I want to taste every gram of guilty pleasure. I want it to be creamy, silky and smooth, with a deliciously buttery base. Because life’s too short.

 Cheesecake of Cheesecakes

2 Tbsp caster sugar

150g frozen raspberries

500g granita biscuits, roughly crushed

200g salted butter, melted

750g cream cheese, softened

250g sour cream

330g caster sugar

1 lemon, juice

finely grated rind of half an orange

1 Tbsp vanilla essence

½ vanilla bean, seeds (if you can afford it – I just think the little black dots elevate it from great to sexy)

4 eggs

combine the sugar and the raspberries in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved and raspberries are soft. Remove and pass through a sieve. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Grind the biscuits to a fine powder and combine with the melted butter. Line the base of a 24cm tin and add crumb mixture, patting it firmly into the base and up the sides. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and reduce heat to 150°C.

Beat cream cheese until creamy. Add the sour cream, the sugar, the juice, rind and vanilla and keep on beating until the sugar is dissolved. Add the eggs, one at a time, until you’ve got a volumtiously creamy cheesecake filling in front of you. Resist the urge to eat it all and spoon into the cooled baking tin. Draw a few swirls with the raspberry sauce on top of the cheesecake filling and make it look fancy by pulling the back of a spoon through it. Or just leave it. But I like fancy.

Place into the oven. Place a baking tray beneath it, and fill it about halfway with some water. This is the secret to the cheesecake’s dreamy texture, promise. Make sure you top it up if it runs low during the baking process.

So now, bake this little gem for 1½ hours. Then take out of the oven, cool, and keep in the fridge for a few hours or over night.

Serve it cut into thin slices with a few dabs of the remaining raspberry sauce and a scattering of raspberries. And if you still feel guilty (you sinful person you) then run around your house five times. Done. Time for another slice.

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