Sunday, November 25, 2012

Personalized tray

Hi all,

Today I propose you an easy work which is rather quick to make: a personalized tray, to serve coffee, tea or whatever you like.

What you need:
- a raw wood tray
- paper for scrapbooking or decoupage
- Mod Podge, or glue for decoupage + varnish.
- acrylic paint.
- a pair of paintbrushes.

Once you know which paper you are going to use, choose an acrylic color that matches well with the colors of the paper. Paint the tray with the chosen color. If you choose a dark paper (like mine, for example), you can avoid to paint the base of the tray, but, at least, paint 1cm on each side, so that when you put the paper into place you don't leave any "raw wood" spot. Let dry.

In the meanwhile, measure the base of the tray and cut the paper.

When the paint has dried, with a sufficiently large paintbrush paint a layer of Mod Podge (or decoupage glue) on the base and put the paper into place. Smooth the paper with your fingers, till no air bubble is left. Let dry for 20 minutes.

Finally, paint a pair of layers of Mod Podge or varnish on the whole surface of the tray.

That's all!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ham and leek pie

So you are going to a dinner party this week-end and you do not know what food to bring? Here is an idea: you can serve at room temperature if needed, and if you serve it warm then it's really tasty.

1 puff pastry
2 medium-small leeks
100 g cooked ham (choose a good quality one, cut into thin slices)
70-80 g mid-ripe cheese
1 egg
1 knob of butter, salt and pepper

Turn on the oven to 175-180º C.
Clean the leeks, cut the white and light-green part in thin slices, and  saute 10 minutes on a low flame with the knob of butter; add a bit of water if needed.
While the leeks merge with the butter in a tasty and perfumed combination, dice the chees and cut the ham in narrow strips. Beat the egg lightly with a fork and mix with the ham, the cheese and the leeks. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Lay the puff pastry on a mold and perforate it with a fork, pour the mix in and cook for 25-30 minutes.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Soft pretzel bites


When I was in Munich, I ate a delicious bread called pretzel (a.k.a. brezelpretzlbreze brezn), when I found this recipe for soft pretzel bites  and saw how good they looked, I could not resist and I started cooking! The result was extremely satisfactory, so the recipe really gets an A grade!

To make it, I changed the doses from cups and spoons to liters and grams, to make it more comfortable.


360 ml warm water
7 g honey
1 cube fresh yeast or a bag of dried yeast

360 g regular flour
360 g strong flour (for bread)
10 g salt
90 g melted butter

Baking soda solution:
1200 ml water
80 ml baking soda (yes, you have to measure it in a beaker).

To let the pretzel bites get their color:
1 egg yolk
10-12 ml water (that is, a tablespoon)

More stuff:
coarse salt, extra virgin olive oil


The dough:
Pour the 360 ml of warm water in a bowl, with the honey and the yeast (the water shall not be hot, to avoid killing the poor yeast). If you use dry yeast, let it rest 5 minutes.
Add the flours, the melted butter and the salt; knead with your hands.
If it sticks too much to your fingers, add a little bit of flour and work for 5 minutes, or until you get a nice and elastic ball.

Grease a big bowl with a bit of olive oil and put the ball inside. Cover with film and let it rest for an hour.

Turn on the oven to 210º C.

Direction for the bites:
Overturn the dough on a clean surface, WITHOUT ADDING MORE FLOUR. Cut it into 6-8 pieces and, with the palms of your hands, roll them and form some cylinders  of about 3 cm of diameter (see pictures here).
With a pizza slicer or a knife cut the cylinders in small pieces.

Mix the egg yolk with the water and place it in the corner of your table. Keep within reach: a paintbrush, a slotted spoon, coarse salt, kitchen scissors and oven paper.

Now it's the turn of the baking soda! No, don't skip this step, it's necessary to get a good result. Put the water (1.200 ml) in a pot and, when it starts to boil, add the baking soda.
Throw 5 pieces of dough into the water and let cook for 30 seconds. Take the pieces out with the slotted spoon and put them on a sheet of oven paper. Do the same with the rest of the dough.

Into the oven:
Once done, paint with the mixture of egg yolk and water, dust with salt and, with the scissors, cut a + on each of the pieces. Carefully, lay the pieces on a tray with a clean sheet of oven paper. Bake for 10 minutes, or until they take a nice golden brown color.

Once ready and out of the oven, you have to resist the temptation of eating them immediatly, and let them dry over a grid for a few minutes.

Guten Appetit!!