Lemon meringue cake

The lemon yellow color can bring sunshine into our homes! This delicious dessert could become the center piece of your Easter celebration instantly. The tart and tangy lemon filled cake is topped with the fluffy sweet meringue. I like using lemon in baking because it offsets the sweetness of a dessert and gives it an interesting flavor … and it is packed with the important theme of Easter, eggs of course. It is super easy to make and delicious at the same time. In our house, my daughter will be making it for Easter.

RECIPE

Ingredients

Crust

  • 12 Tbsp (165gr) butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla concentrate
  • 1 1/2 all purpose flour, cut and sifted

Lemon filling

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice + the zest (2-3 fresh lemons)
  • 1/4 flour

Merengue

  • 3 egg white, room temperature
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 325F (170C). Set the rack in the middle of the oven. Grease and line a 9″ baking dish with parchment paper.

Seperate the 3 eggs for the meringue now as it is easier to do when eggs are cold. Make sure they are at room temperature when you beat them.

Make the crust. Cream the sugar, vanilla extract and the butter. Gradually add the flour with salt mixing by hand just until a crumbly ball forms.

Place the prepared dough in the pan. Using your hands press against the bottom and about 1 inch (2cm) up the sides. Poke the dough with a fork about 6-8 times. Bake for 20 minutes or until the dough has a nice golden brown color.

Make the lemon filling. In a medium sized bowl whisk the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and zest and the flour together. Make sure you grade the lemons before you can them up. (It is almost impossible to zest a cut lemon).

When the crust is done baking, remove it from the oven. Pour the lemon filling over the crust and return it to the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the filling no longer jiggles and the center is mostly set.

Make the meringue in the last 5 minutes. In a clean, dry medium bowl, use an electric hand mixer to beat the egg white until stiff peaks form. Add about half of the sugar and the cream of tartar, whip for 30 seconds, then add the rest of the sugar and whip until combined. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a large tip or zip-lock bag with a corner snipped off.

I piped the meringue on the top covering the entire surface making large peaks each time. (Make sure you put the meringue on the top of the cake right away so it stays fluffy and does not deflate. You can wait until the pie is baked and then start beating the eggs once you are sure that the cake is ready).

Return to the oven for 10-12 minutes, until the meringues are lightly browned.

Let cool completely, then refrigerate for 1 hours.

Serve at room temperature.

enjoy!

Text, recipe and photos by twincitiesherbs.com.

Christmas cookies (gift giving)

Often when you ask children what their favorite holiday is they say … Christmas! And then you ask why … because they get presents. I’m sure that is how I would have answered those questions back when I was a little girl. This is a very magical holiday for sure … but as we get older, we start thinking about giving too.

Many people enjoy giving treats at Christmas time. But where did the idea of Christmas gift giving come from? … and what about Santa and his rein deer?

Let’s go back in time. It is believed that it came from an old Pagan tradition. Giving gifts can strengthen the ‘family and well-being of others’, an important theme during this time of the year. This custom was part of the tradition of exchanging mushrooms as a gift at the time in the Northern part of Siberia. Mushrooms were special because of their connection to longevity. People delivered the wrapped carefully prepared dried mushrooms to people’s houses for celebrating the winter solstice. There was so much snow that they could not open the doors and the packages had to be dropped off through the holes on top of the yurts where the smoke could escape. Also, these people used rein deer for transportation in the snow. Also check this out … I need to mention that their traditional clothing is red and white even today … hence comes the story of Santa dressed in red and white, delivering presents through the chimney down the fire place with the help of some rein deer…


After so many years we are still exchanging gifts. Giving home-made foods can be meaningful for both the giver and the receiver. If you are not sure what to give this year, maybe consider giving cookies. I’m presenting two different cookie recipes that can be gifted during the holidays. They are ‘Christmas’-y and mouth watering.

Wishing evereyone a very merry Christmas!

COOKIE RECIPES

Please check out the following links for the recipes.

For the coffee lover: Chocolate espresso crinkle

For the gluten free or the nut lover person: Pecan meringue cookies

Source

https://www.shamanicevolution.org/writings/shaman-claus-the-shamanic-origins-of-christmas

Art, photos, text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Chocolate espresso crinkle cookies

You can surely impress your guests with these rich chocolate cookies or maybe you can just use this recipe for a last minute gift for your neighbors… The crunchy outside is coupled with the melt-in-your-mouth soft inside and is elevated to another level with the espresso flavor. Enjoy!

Recipe

Makes 16 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 4 tsp instant espresso 
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • pinch of salt 
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter 
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten 
  • 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet baking chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp milk 
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, for coating

Preparations

Start melting the chocolate. I used a double boiler.

In a larger bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder and salt. Make sure you use some kind of a sifter, tea strainer as the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder need to be without knots. Set aside.

In a seperate bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar. Add the egg and mix until incorpoated.

Mix in the melted chocolate and the milk.

Add the flour mixture from earlier until you get a ball shaped dough. Put in a plastic bag and place in the freezer for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Butter a cookie sheet. Form 2 inch balls.

Pour 1/2 cup of powdered sugar in a medium sized bowl. In batches, roll the balls in the sugar and let the balls sit for a minute in the sugar. Repeat one more time.

Place the balls about 1 inches apart on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 12-14 minutes. They should be soft but not fall apart. Let the cookies stay on the baking sheet for 5 minutes to cool.

Transfer them on a wire rack for 15 minutes. They will harden.

enjoy!

Photos and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Pecan meringue cookie recipe

Meringue cookies have been one of my favorite Holiday desserts since my childhood … maybe because I don’t care much for the heavier desserts that much but still enjoy a bit of sweetness during Christmas time. These beautiful cookies are delicious and airy with just the right amount of texture with the nuts and the almond essence. They would be a great gift for those friends and family members who like something sweet with a little bit of crunchiness or eat gluten free foods. Of course, this is a great recipe to have on hand so you can use up all those left over egg whites. Enjoy!

RECIPE

Ingredients

(makes about 2-3 dozens)

  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar (regular sugar pulsed for about 10 seconds in a food processor)
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup of finally chopped walnuts or pecans or almonds
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tatar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

Line a baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a larger sized bowl, on medium high speed quickly beat (few minutes) the egg whites until they are frothy but not hard. Do not over beat.

Add the sugar gradually on high speed. It is important to add the sugar 1 Tbsp at a time to make sure they get incorporated nicely. I had a family member who did this. On a low setting beat in the vanilla, cream of tartar, almond extract and salt. Gently fold in the nuts with a spatula.

Drop a tablespoon-full of the eggwhite mixture onto the parchment paper lined cookie sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. I used a piping bag with a large nozzle to get a more uniform shapes.

Bake for 50-60 minutes. Cookies should not be damp. Leave them in the oven for another hour while the oven is cooling.

Repeat with the rest of the eggwhite mixture.

enjoy!

Happy Holidays!

Winter / Christmas dishes

Winter has finally arrived in the Midwest of the United State … and it looks like it is here to stay after all the crazyness of this year. We had snow in September and in October … and had 80 degree weather inbetween. I am definitely ready!

December brings forth Winter Wonderland and the Holidays. When I think of Christmas dishes, warming and festive winter foods come to my mind. For me Christmas is a lot about cooking and baking … and of course music. I’m already looking forward to all the baking and cooking I will be doing and singing along my favorite Christmas music…

Please read my previous blogs from last year on winter eating and tasty dishes and desserts.

Happy Holidays!

Eating with the Winter season (no recipe)

Christmas dishes

Vegetarian festive strudel with cabbage and mushrooms

Marinated pork with prunes

Traditional Hungarian stuffed cabbage

Christmas Desserts

Hungarian poppyseed, apple cake (gluten free, dairy free)

Hungarian poppyseed roll

Poached pears

enjoy!

Poppyseed cake with chocolate ganache

This is my husband’s favorite cake that his mom made for his birthday every year. The recipe comes from his family, even his grandmother made it and it is now my favorite cake, too. When I talked to my husband’s cousins, they all raved about this cake, the Poppy seed cake … it was so funny to hear. No surprise they all think it is the best cake on Earth … it is moist, crunchy and delicious …

This cake takes some time and patience to make but is not too difficult. Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature, it should be around 70F. The recipe has three parts: the dough, the vanilla creme (creme patisserie) and the chocolate ganache. Please read the following notes on how to make the cake.

The dough requires sifted flour. Sifting flour is an easy process, cooks generally use a flour sifter. If you don’t have one no worries, you can use a strainer or a wire wisk. The idea is to get air into the flour. Then once sifted, measure out the 2 cups and return the extra flour into the flour bin.

You need a 9″ round cake form. For a long time I only had one cake form and I was fine. I just had to wait until the form cooled off after baking the first batch. I ended up buying a second one a few years ago. It is nice to have two but you can get by with only one.

The vanilla creme is pretty straight forward. I used a double boiler to cook the ingredients. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can use a metal bowl that fits on the top of the bottom pot securely but does not touch the bottom of the pot.

The chocolate ganacche is what brings all the ingredients, the cake together. It should be made a little softer than it is generally made for cakes … should stick to the surface but does not have to be hard. Also, the sweetness of the chocolate is a personal preference. I like the sweet chocolate personally but you can use whatever you prefer, of course.

RECIPE

Ingredients

Makes about 10 slices

Dough

  • 2/3 cup whole poppyseed
  • 1 cup milk, divided
  • 12 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 -1 cup of sugar (to taste)
  • 2 cups of SIFTED flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 egg whites (save 3 yolks for creme)

Creme Patissiere

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 egg yolk (saved from earlier step)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Chocolate ganacche

  • 6 oz baking chocolate (I used semi-sweet)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Preparation

Please check notes above for more info on how to make this cake.

Making the dough

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Have all ingredients at room tepmerature (70F).
  • Soak the poppy seed in 3/4 cup milk for 2 hours.
  • Cream butter with sugar. Set aside.
  • The amount of flour used is for sifted flour. Sift flour, baking powder, salt.
  • Add poppy seed mixture, butter/sugar mixture, vanilla and the remaining 1/4 cup of milk to the flour gradually. Do not overmix. Set aside.
  • Beat the four egg whites on high speed untill stiff.
  • Gently fold egg whites into the dough.
  • Seperate dough between two seperate greased and floured 9″ cake forms.
  • Try to make sure the top is flat.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes or until an inserted tooth pick comes out clean.

Making the vanilla patisserie

  • In a double boiler, bring milk to a boil over medium heat.
  • Meanwhile, wisk the three egg yolks, sugar together. Add flour, mix. Add warm milk gradually and mix.
  • Pour mixture back into the double boiler pot and cook over high heat. Wisk continuously for about 5 minutes or until mixture thickens.
  • Take off heat and add vanilla.
  • Let it cool.

Making the chocolate ganacche

You can use the clean double boiler here again. Melt the chocolate and add the heavy cream. Mix.

Assembling the cake

  • Place the vanilla creme in-between the two cake layers. (Use the ‘prettier’ cake for your top layer). Make sure vanilla creme is cooled off. Spread chocolate ganacche on the top.
  • Decorate the top to your liking.
  • Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

enjoy!

Photos and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Whole wheat sweet potato muffins

These sweet potato muffins are lovely autumn muffins! They are packed with nutritious ingredients of the season and get their special flavor from the spices: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, mace and cloves. enjoy!

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 2 cups/240 gr of whole wheat flour (white flour is fine too)
  • 2 tsp pumkin pie spice ( China cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, mace and cloves)
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) of butter (115g) at room temperature
  • 1 cup of sweet potato, mashed (1 medium sized sweet potato)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of raisins or dried cranberries (optional)
  • 3/4 cup of nuts, coarsley chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375F.

Take butter out of fridge.

Bake the sweet potatoes.

Sift flour, pumkin spice, baking powder, baking soda, salt in a mixing bowl. Add the nuts, raisins or cranberries. Set aside.

In a seperate bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the lightly beaten eggs, vanilla, butter milk and the sweet potatoes. Mix.

Quickly mix everything together. Do not overbeat. You can sprinkle sugar and nuts on the top if you wish.

Lightly oil a muffin tin. Evenly distribute the dough between the 12 muffin cups.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. The muffins are ready when a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool before serving.

enjoy!

Recipe, photos and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Pan de Muerto (Day of the dead bread)

This is a soft buttery sweet bread to help us bring back the sweet memories of the people who cannot be with us anymore. It is traditionally made in Mexico for the Day of the Dead celebration. It is flavored with orange zest or anise seeds and brushed with a glaze and sprinkled with sugar. The preparation depends on the region as everybody has their own recipe. This recipe is from the Mexico City region.

Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead is a celebration in Mexico between October 31st and November 2nd. During this time period, Mexicans remember their ancestors who have past away. It is not a scary, spooky time but rather a joyous, spiritual time. People go to the cemetaries, to the altars of their deceased friends and relatives. They also lavishly decorate an altar in their homes with candles and memories.

This celebration’s roots are in the Prehispanic times. Native Americans celebrated this time period because they belive that our ancestors’ spirits return to Earth to be with us during this time period. After the Catholic Spanards arrived, they had combined this tradition with their own celebration, All Sain’t Day and this unique holiday that the Mexicans celebrate today was born.

As I have mentioned before, it is a festive, spiritual celebration. There is music, candles and special foods served. One food they serve is a special bread called Pan de Muerto. It is given as an offering to the ancestors’ spirits and has special meanings. While the exact meaning is not known, it is believed that the crosses on the top represent the bones. The circular shape in the middle could be a tear dropp, or a skull or the heart.

Traditionally, they always use oranges to make the bread and anise seeds are sometimes added too. I don’t have oranges so I ended up using almond extract and anise seeds. I belive they worked nicely here and the anise seeds are used traditionally anyway.

My recipe is from the following source.

For another Halloween treat for this special time please try my Barmbrack bread recipe from last year (source).

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 4 oz butter (110g) at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup of sugar + more for the top
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 cups of flour + more for kneeding the dough
  • 4 eggs + 1 egg for the top (room temperature)
  • 1 1/4 cup warm milk
  • 2 pkg dried yeast or 5 tsp
  • zest and juice of 2 oranges
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla or almond extract
  • 1 Tbsp anise seeds

Preparation

For clarification, please view the video provided at the end of the blog.

Makes 2 loaves

Preheat oven to 350F.

Prepare the yeast. Add the yeast to warm milk (104-108F). Cover. It is ready when the yeast comes up. Set aside.

Mix the butter, sugar, salt and 1/2 cup of flour. Set aside.

Mix eggs, 1/2 cup flour, orange zest and juice or almond extract and anise seeds.

Combine all above ingredients plus 1/2 cup of flour.

Slowly add the rest of the flour 1 cup at a time and mix untill all ingredients are incorpoated.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.

Cover it with a clean, damp cloth for 90 miutes.

Seperate about 1/4 of the dough and use it to make the decorations for the top. These are the bone shapes to drape across the top and the balls to place them in the middle.

Divide the rest of the dough into two ball shaped loaves and place them on lightly oiled cookie sheets.

I divide this 1/4 piece from the original dough into 6 parts, four for the bone shaped decorations and two for the middle part.

For the bone shaped decoration, shape the dough into a flat-bottomed semi-sphere. Position them on top of the bread and press lightly down to make sure they adhere. Put the little balls in the middle to connect the bones.

Let the assembled loaves rest for 1 hour.

Spread lightly beaten eggs and sugar on the surface of the loaves.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

When cool, glaze the loaves with melted butter and sprinkle on some sugar.

enjoy!

Source

https://www.thespruceeats.com/pan-de-muerto-2343007

Please feel free to watch this Mexican women how to make the bread.

Mini apple turnovers (almás mosoly)

This tasty dessert will satisfy your autumn sweet tooth any time. They are simple, puffy and delicious. No need to buy puff pastry from the store, you can make the buttery, flaky puff pastry with the three simple main ingredients: butter, cream cheese and flour. There is something about simple, delicious dishes that are just that … simple and delicious… and this dish is surely just that… My recipe came from this blog (source).

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1-2 apples, firmer baking apples (I used 2 cortland)
  • 1 pkg cream cheese (220 gr)
  • 2 sticks of butter (220 gr)
  • 1 1/3 cups flour (220 gr)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp apple pie spice or cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • handful of chopped nuts

Directions

Have all ingredients at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Combine the cream cheese, butter, flour, salt and sugar. Put the dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Take the cold dough out of the fridge, cut it in half. Put one half back in the fridge to keep it cold while you are working with the other half of the dough..

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin about 2-3mm thick. Cut out round shapes with a cookie cutter. My cookie cutter is 2 1/2 inches in diameter but you can use whatever size you have. Cut the circles big enough so they can fit the apple slices or vice versa cut your apples so they can fit in the circle.

Place the apple slices on half of the cut out shapes and fold the other half of the circle over the apple slice. Put the prepared pieces on the preoiled cookie sheet.

Bake for 18-20 minutes in the preheated oven.

Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Make the sugar coating. Add 1 tsp apple pie spice or cinnamon to the 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Put the apple turnovers into a bigger bowl and toss them with the sugar/cinnamon mixture. I did this when they were still warm. I found that when done while hot, the sugar sticks better but please feel free to experiement.

Sprinkle with the chopped nuts.

Now ready to serve.

enjoy!

Photo and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Source of the recipe

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/106421768/posts/6271

Plum/berry cobbler

Have you ever had to cut corners in the kitchen and later realized that you had actually created something new and amazing? This must have happened to the early settlers of America who came from the Old World. They had their recipes to make the English pie but did not have all the tools to make them … and came up with a brand new dish called cobbler. Cobbler is just as good as pie is IMO and is much easier to make. Seasonal fruits are used in cobblers as well but not sure where the name came from. It might be refering to the wooden spoons they used or the cobbler who mends shoes like the dough is mended on top of the fruits or perhaps it was the village cobbler’s favorite dessert … nobody knows the exact meaning but this is a crowd pleaser for sure.

This is an ‘end of the summer’ cobbler recipe. It is made with plums along some berries and the savory spices that are nice for this time of year. Of course, I used plums because they are available right now. I also added nutmeg, cinnamon, orange peel and ginger to add a little flavor and they suit the plums nicely as well. The juicy fruits are covered with the perfectly crumpling, soft topping that I used for my rhubarb cobbler (recipe) back in the spring … Oh and it is begging for a bit of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

RECIPE

Ingredients

My recipe was inspired by the Joy of Cooking cookbook.

Have all the ingredients at room temperature exept the butter.

For the fruits

  • 1 lb of plums, pitted and cut into up into 1′ or smaller chunks
  • 1 lb of berries – I used blackberries and raspberries
  • ½ cup of sugar or more if your fruits are not sweet enough. Only use more if your berries are not sweet. 1/2 cup is plenty otherwise, trust me!
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (I used apple spice seasoning from Penzies)
  • 1/2 tsp dried ginger (cut and sifted) or 1 tsp fresh
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp orange peel
  • 2 Tbsp of  flour or 1 Tbsp of corn starch

The dough

  • 1 1/3  cup of all purpose white flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp of sugar 
  • 5 Tbsp of cold unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup of cream or 1/2 cup of milk (honestly milk is fine too)
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 lightly beaten egg for the top
  • extra sugar for the top
  • vanilla ice cream for serving

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 F. 

Making the fruit filling

  • Have ready an oven proof baking dish that is about 2 quarts large in volume and 2 inches deep (ex 11 x 4 x 2 inch).  
  • Take fruits out of the freezer if they are frozen and let them defrost. Wash plums and cut them into 1/2-1 inch long pieces. Place the plums and the berries in the dish. They need to be at room temperature before you can put the cobbler into the oven. 
  • Add pinch of salt, cornstarch or flour, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar and mix. Set aside and wait for at least 30 minutes.

Making the dough

  • In a large bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder, pinch of salt and sugar.
  • Add the cold butter and mix. This is such a satisfying experience for me to do by hand but if you prefer you can use your food processor for this step. 
  • Add the cream or milk stirring with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Gently need the dough in the bowl 5-10 times if needed, turning and pressing any loose pieces into the dough. Dust the top and the bottom of the dough.  Let the dough sit for 1 hour if you have time.

Preparing the cobbler

  • Now we will make a patchwork. Divide the dough into 8-10 parts and flatten each piece between your two hands about 1/4 inch thick. Place each piece on top of the fruit mix. Keep doing this until you have used up all the dough and the fruits are covered.  
  • (The dough should be workable but not sticky. If the dough becomes too sticky and warm, put it into the fridge for about 10 minutes to become the proper consistency. This can happen easily in the summer when it is warm outside).
  • Lightly brush the top of the dough with the eggs and sprinkle with a little sugar. 

Making the cobbler

  • Put the cobbler in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 40-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the berries are bubbling. Don’t overbake, make sure the fruits stay ‘liquidy’.
  • Let stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving. 

Serving the cobbler

  • You can serve the cobbler at room teperature with vanilla ice cream if you wish.

enjoy!

Source

Irma S. Rombauer: Joy of Cooking