Chocolate Stout Cake

Photography Serge Oryan

Photography Serge Oryan www.sergeoryan.com

I don’t remember having a cake with beer inside until few months back when I was in New York City. My friend insisted that I try some, telling me that it doesn’t taste like beer at all. She was right it doesn’t taste the beer, but the stout inside adds a twist that calls you for a second bite and more. It’s moist, unlike you might be thinking it’s not bitter, but does have a deep tang.

I browsed few recipes online, all very similar. Most use sour cream, but I prefer the fresh organic yogurt I get straight from the farm. I used Almaza Lebanese beer, which I love, but you can use Guinness or your favorite dark beer.

I baked this same cake twice this week, and every single bite was a true dose of happiness!

Ingredients:

  • 100g / 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 ½ cup dark beer
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of Salt

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 185°C. Grease and flour a cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat butter, beer, and milk. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Add yogurt and mix until incorporated.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Fold the dry flour mixture, gradually in the wet beer mixture, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake 40-50 minutes, until cake springs back when gently pressed with finger.
  6. Let cool in pan on rack.
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Two-Potato Gratin

Two-Potato Gratin IMG_4645

Hello storm, you’re wild and angry, violent and reckless and I don’t seem to like you! I’m nothing like ready for cold obviously; a powerful storm with violent winds and heavy hail and rainfall is ripping through Lebanon leaving me with limited desire to step out.

Meantime schools are shut and my daughters are, with all the kids of the neighborhood, celebrating the happy occasion. My doorbell kept on ringing, kids in kids out, …well if I look at it from the bright side, it was a good exercise for me especially that I skipped gym this morning;-)

So it was almost lunchtime and I still haven’t decided on what to cook! I went roaming in the kitchen when my sight fell on potatoes. Since I didn’t have enough of gold potatoes to make a large dish of gratin enough for guests and us, I added sweet potatoes! Results were gorgeous and crunchy. Yummm!

I have decided to eat more vegetarian food during January and I proudly add this recipe to my meat-free repertoire. I added a dash of curry to it while the cream was simmering and some parmesan cheese on the top before baking, that I don’t mention in below recipe, but now that I reveal it you may want to try it with curry or even chili for some spicy flavor.

Two-Potato Gratin 

Ingredients

  • 2 kg potatoes (half sweet potatoes and half gold), sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup Emmenthal cheese

Preparation

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Butter a shallow ceramic baking dish.
  2. Pour the cream in a large saucepan, add salt, pepper, nutmeg and heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and drizzle with olive oil and let simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Remove pan from the heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer half of the potatoes, layer them and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Top with the remaining potatoes; pour the cream mixture and sprinkle with the Emmenthal cheese.
  4. Bake for 40-45 minutes until gorgeous and golden on the top.

Pumpkin and Sweet Potatoes Soup

Although it’s springtime, but cold doesn’t seem to be convinced that his time for now is over. One day we’re in short sleeves and the next day we’re wearing raincoats!! We’ve seen rain and cold last week, and the first thing that came to my mind for lunch was soup. Not any soup, but yummy Pumpkin and Sweet Potatoes Soup. The first time I had it was in Lapland. Yes, I’m one of those proud travelers who crossed the Arctic Circle (see attached certificate)!!!

We went on Christmas 2 years ago to the north of Finland where Kaia (my daughter) visited “the real Santa”. Sweet potatoes soup wasn’t the only first thing there I had in my life, but also hamburger made with reindeer meat. I was never able to express out loud how good it was, fearing that Kaia thinks mummy is eating Rudolf the red nose reindeer;-)

I recommend this soup, especially for those who have toddlers at home. Pumpkin is loaded with lots of minerals, including iron, magnesium and potassium. It is also a high source of vitamins A, C, K and E and antioxidants carotenoids. It is low in salt, cholesterol and saturated fat.

Time to take out your casserole and start!

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 10g butter
  • 350g sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1kg pumpkin, peeled and cut in wedges
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ cup parmesan, grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pumpkin Seeds, to garnish

Preparation

1. In a large saucepan melt the butter. Add onion and garlic, and cook until the onion has softened.

2. Add the pumpkin, sweet potatoes and stock. Season to taste. Cover and simmer for about 20mn or until pumpkin and sweet potatoes are tender.

3. Remove from heat, and blend with a hand stick blender.

4. Transfer to a clean saucepan, add the milk and cook for another 5mn.

5. Top with cheese and garnish with pumpkin seeds. Serve!