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How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

September 12, 2016

Hello everyone and happy September! I hope you all had a wonderful summer full of lots of fun memories. Every year my husbands family has a huge baking weekend to make Christmas cookies, (which isn’t until December obviously), but we have started to make our own vanilla sugar months in advance to ensure it is well infused for our favorite vanilla crescent cookies. (My husbands family background is Czech so I am sure there are a few of your out there who make Vanilkové Rohlíčky over the holidays!).

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

So it is time, and we have made a big batch of vanilla sugar for the holidays. We also whipped up a batch of chai infused sugar and lavender sugar to add to our favorite baked goods over the coming months. They make for wonderful DIY gifts if that is your thing. Those foodies in your life are sure to appreciative!

Each recipe makes a cup of sugar, and you can either make a big batch now and store it for a couple of months then divide into little jars for gifts closer to the gift giving season. Or add straight into the jars you intend to give. (Which ever you have space for storing I guess!). Any of the recipes can be divided up once the flavors have been added. If you intend to split up the vanilla sugar, just divide the bean up into 3 parts and add the seeds and pod to the sugar. I would stick to 3 small jars for each bean so as to get maximum infusion!

You can totally eat the lavender buds, but I would remove the chai spices before adding the sugar to any treats. I like to keep the chai spices mostly whole so they are easy to remove before using. You can however use a mortar and pestle to break the spices up if you wish. Time to start collecting jars!

Chai Sugar
Ingredients
1 cinnamon stick
¼ teaspoon whole cloves
4 teaspoons cardamom pods
4 whole star anise
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup granulated sugar

Directions: Chai Sugar
Gently crush or break the cinnamon stick into half. Add the cinnamon pieces, cloves, cardamom pods, star anise and ginger to the sugar. Stir and store in an airtight container for a few weeks. Remove spices before adding to your favorite cookie recipe.

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

Lavender Sugar
Ingredients
1 tablespoon culinary lavender
1 cup granulated sugar

Directions: Lavender Sugar
Add the lavender to the sugar and stir through. Put into an airtight jar and shake. Store for a couple of weeks up to a couple of months. For finer sugar and lavender buds, you can pulse the mixture in a food processor. Add to your favorite cookie recipe for a floral palate.

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

Vanilla Sugar
Ingredients
1 vanilla bean
1 cup granulated sugar

Directions: Vanilla Sugar
Slice the vanilla bean lengthways and remove the seeds. Stir the seeds through the sugar. Store in an airtight jar with the vanilla pod for a few weeks or until ready to use. For finer sugar, you can pulse the mixture in a food processor. Add to any baking recipe or holiday cookies (or your coffee or tea!).

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

What’s your favorite infused sugar flavor? – Rachel

TIP FROM HOLLY: These also make for great party gifts for your guests to put near each plate on the table with a little tag with the guest’s name on it – they can take it home and it serves as a seating card.

(Photography, Styling, Recipes and Text: Two Loves Studio)






Recipes

Recipe: Triple Vanilla Ice Cream + Apricot Pie

July 29, 2016

Hi everyone! Happy July! For my column this month I am sharing with you an apricot pie with homemade vanilla bean ice cream. Triple vanilla bean ice cream in fact! (It does require an ice cream bowl attachment to your electric mixer, so I hope you have one and if not you’ll be inspired to get one).

Recipe: Triple Vanilla Ice Cream + Apricot Pie

Rachel Korinek for decor8

Apricot pie was my absolute favorite when I was a kid. Nothing else compared. The funny thing was that for me it was a winter dish, we always made it during the cooler months even though apricots aren’t readily available until the summer.

Apricot Pie: Pastry
500g plain, all purpose, flour
250g cold butter, cubed
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold water
Whisked egg to coat the pastry

Filling
1.5kg tinned apricots, chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean seeds removed.
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch

Fresh raspberries and ice cream to serve

Method
Place the flour onto a clean surface and make a well in the centre. Place in the middle the butter, eggs and salt. Using your fingertips mix the butter, eggs and salt together, then slowly draw in small amounts of flour until the mixture resembles a grainy texture. Once mixed, add cold water, two tablespoons at a time, followed by the last tablespoon. Keep mixing the dough until it begins to hold together.

Knead the dough a couple of times until smooth. Roll the pastry into a disk and refrigerate covered for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the fruit into bit sized pieces and place into a large bowl. Add vanilla and cinnamon and mix well.

In a small bowl combine the brown sugar and corn starch until completely mixed. Set aside. By the way, the props were given to me on loan from Robert Gordon Australia.

Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and halve. Keep one half in the fridge. Roll out the first half to 2-3cm thickness. Using a greased pie tin, press the pastry into the pie tin, leaving a sufficient amount of overhang. Prick the entire base with a fork and allow to rest in the fridge for 20 mins. Roll out the rest of the pastry to a 2-3cm thickness. Using a pastry cutter, cut lattice pieces to an even size. (If you are not feeling adventurous you can have a solid top case without the lattice work. Just roll out into a disk and set over the top of the pie once filled).

Remove the pie tin from the fridge and sprinkle one third of the brown sugar/corn starch mixture over the base. Add half of the pie filling, followed by another third of the sugar/corn starch mixture. Add the remaining filling then sprinkle the remaining sugar/corn starch mixture over the top. Place the lattice pieces over the filling from top to bottom. Peeling back every second lattice piece, place your lattice pieces from side to side, alternating to get a cross work pattern. Trim the sides of the top and bottom of the pastry with a pastry knife or sharp scissors so the sides are flush with the pie tin. Place the pie in the fridge to settle.

For those of you feeling daunted by pastry, I can totally understand those feelings I had it for many years too. The turning point for me was this pastry recipe, just fool proof every time. The more you work with it, the most you understand it and there becomes a sense of knowing when it feels right.

Cooking should be fun, so if you aren’t game to try the lattice work, that is totally ok. A simple disk on top of the pie with a small hole cut in the middle is absolutely divine too. Simplicity is perfection right?

If you do feel game for trying the lattice work, because it is actually easier than you think, then my advice for first timers is to make 1.5 times the pastry recipe calls for. (I’ve added some notes at the end of the post). This will give you more pastry to play with whilst you roll, cut and figure out what you’re doing. There might be some pastry wastage, but it ensures your pieces for the lattice are even in thickness and size, not only for cooking the crust evenly but also for your own confidence in cutting the lattice work.

TIP: Need some help with how to create the lattice? Check out this video.

Using the left over pieces, roll into a disk the size of the pie tin. Cut thin strips to make the braided boarder, cut about 9-12 strips. Using three strips per braid, pinch the tip of the strips together, then braid. Once you have braided the length, pinch the end together. You’ll need around 3-4 braids.

Baste the pie with egg wash and place on the braided boarder. Coat it as well with egg wash.

Place in the oven at 180 C for 45-60 mins, or until golden brown.

Recipe: Triple Vanilla Ice Cream + Apricot Pie

Rachel Korinek for decor8

Triple Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

 1 1/2 cups milk (full fat)
3 vanilla beans, seeds removed
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup caster sugar
300mls pure cream

Method
In a small saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla seeds and bean pods gently over a medium heat. Once bubbles start to appear around the sides, remove and allow to infuse for a further 5 minutes.

In an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is pale and creamy.

Remove the bean pods and add the cream. Gently stir.

Slowly add the milk/cream mixture to the egg mixture and continue to beat until fully combined.

Store the mixture in the fridge for at least 4 hours or until completely chilled.

Using an ice cream mixing attachment and direction/settings for your machine, add the mixture slowly and churn for the requirements of your machine. Remove once mixture has increased in size and is light and fluffy, and allow to freeze in an airtight container overnight.

Once frozen, scoop and serve with the apricot pie.

Recipe: Triple Vanilla Ice Cream + Apricot Pie

Rachel Korinek for decor8

Notes:
Make the ice-cream the day before you are to serve it to ensure it has frozen completely unless you have an industrial ice cream machine.

Ice cream recipe makes approximately 1L. Check your machine for instructions and adjust accordingly.

For newbie pie bakers, make it easier on yourself by making 1.5 times the pastry recipe if your attempting the lattice work:

750g plain, all purpose, flour
375g cold butter, cubed
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold water

Recipe: Triple Vanilla Ice Cream + Apricot Pie

Rachel Korinek for decor8

This month I’ve shared two recipes with you, firstly because pie and ice cream were made for each other, but also as I will be away in August so I won’t have a column up for you again until September. See you again end of summer! – Rachel

(Photos, text, recipes: Rachel Korinek)






Recipes

Recipe: Summer Berry Pies

June 16, 2016

Hello everyone, are you ready to celebrate summer? A proper summer in my book requires a few elements. Number one is for this dreadful rainy weather to end where I’m living and for some sun to come out! Second is to bake plenty of fresh berry pies and serve still bubbling out of the oven, with the scent of melting berries within crusty pastry to die for.

Recipe: Summer Berry Pies

I have been on a roll lately with pies I suppose, having recently came back after spending a week in Lyon, otherwise known as the French culinary capital, and trust me folks it deserves this title every bit. I was staying just across the corner of Pâtisserie l’Ourson qui Boit (which comes highly recommended if you are in the area), where they make tarts with luscious yuzu filling, black sesame and raspberries or an incredible miso and vanilla marriage. When treasures like that are at your doorstep, it is quite appropriate to have more than one breakfast a day, starting with a tart then moving to the traditional French croissant, etc.

Recipe: Summer Berry Pies

Back home, I wanted to make something a little more traditional with fresh blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, the perfect summer berry pie that is easy for you to make as well. If you feel uneasy about making pastry at home, you can also use a store-bought one, but I wholeheartedly recommend giving this homemade version a try.

My secret to any good berry pie is crème de cassis liquor, which is a worthy ingredient to have at home at all times. If you are not familiar with it, crème de cassis is a blackcurrant liquor that is not only my favorite aperitif for making kir (1 part crème de cassis, 4 parts wine or even better use prosecco), but anytime you are making a dessert with berries or rhubarb it will add a wonderful flavor boost. Try it!

This berry pie is pretty good just on it’s own or with coffee for breakfast, but as with any pastry and berry concoction, whipped cream or ice cream is most welcome. The recipe will make 2 small pies for very greedy eaters or can serve four people if you’d prefer a half each.

SHORTCRUST PASTRY
200g flour
1 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
90g cold butter, cut into cubes
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp ice cold water

FILLING
1/2 kg berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries)
2 tbsp crème de cassis
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

EGG WASH
1 egg
1 tbsp water

INSTRUCTIONS
For the shortcrust pastry, in a food processor pulse together flour, sugar and salt, then add butter and continue to blend till it resembles breadcrumbs. Then pour in egg and water and continue to blend till the dough comes together, about 5-10 seconds. Divide the pastry in 3 parts and wrap each in cling film. Allow to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.Preheat the oven to 190C/372F. Toss all ingredients for the filling, set aside.

Recipe: Summer Berry Pies

Roll out two pastry parts on a flour dusted surface and press each into a tart case. Then roll out the last piece of pastry and slice it into strips. Fill each tart case to the top then criss cross the pastry strips on top. Beat the egg with water and brush on top of the pastry. Bake for about 50 minutes – 1 hour. Let it cool a little, then serve!

Recipe: Summer Berry Pies

Recipe: Summer Berry Pies

Recipe: Summer Berry Pies

This is my last post for decor8, it has been a lovely journey sharing recipes here with you, but don’t forget to come back daily for more posts from Holly and her wonderful team! – Gintare

(Photography, Recipe, Styling, Text: Gintare Marcel)






Recipes

Recipe: Almond Macaroons

June 11, 2016

Hi decor8 readers. I thought I’d drop in this weekend to give you a lovely but super simple recipe for some extremely yummy Almond Macaroons. They are sweet, nutty, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Perfect with a cup of tea whilst having a natter with friends. I’ve always loved baking with nuts and with only a handful of ingredients required for these they hit the spot.

Recipe: Almond Macaroons

I’ve gone for this super simple recipe as by the time you are reading this I will be cuddling my new baby. As I was nearing full term and needing to shoot this, I’ve was finding it harder and harder to bend over a surface to style and photograph.  So I had to come up with something that wasn’t too elaborate but that you would all enjoy to make.

Recipe: Almond Macaroons

In fact, after this post I won’t be back on decor8 so I can spend time with my new baby. But I’ve loved being on Holly’s beautiful blog for the past 1/2 year and hope that some of you will continue to follow me on my own blog so you can meet my little one and see more recipes down the road…

Recipe: Almond Macaroons

Almond Macaroons (Makes approx 20 macaroons)

Ingredients:
2 Cups ground almond meal
1 Cup granulated sugar
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon icing sugar
20 blanched almonds

Recipe: Almond Macaroons

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 170c. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
2. In a bowl combine the almond meal, granulated sugar, egg whites and almond extract – stir until combined.
3. Roll out 20 balls of the mixture placing them about 2 inches apart on the tray and squash them down a little. TIP: I used a melon ball scoop so that I got more or less the same size balls every time.
4. Dust the macaroon with icing sugar.
5. Press one blanched almond into the top of each cookie.
6. Bake in oven for 10 mins or until the top is slightly golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
7. It’s as simple as that …now enjoy with that cup of tea!

Recipe: Almond Macaroons

Recipe: Almond Macaroons

Recipe: Almond Macaroons

Recipe: Almond Macaroons

So farewell, thank you Holly for having me, it’s been wonderful! – Emma

(Photography, Recipe, Text, Images: Emma Duckworth)






Recipes

Recipe: Gin + Grapefruit Summer Soda

June 1, 2016

Hello everyone and hello June! This month is the start of summer and is also my birthday month. These days I’d much prefer to have a birthday drink than a birthday cake so I am sharing my go to summer drink, cheers!

Recipe: Gin + Grapefruit Summer Soda

As my go to drink in the warmer months as there is nothing quite as refreshing like a cold and tart citrus spritz. I wouldn’t say that I’m the biggest fan of gin, but done right, it’s a real Continue Reading…






Recipes

Recipe: Tonka Bean Semifreddo

May 25, 2016

Hello everyone, hope you are all enjoying the blooming spring. We’re heading into the time of the year where it is becoming rather indecent not to have a pint of ice cream hidden in the depths of the freezer for those moments when sun comes out in all its glory and all you want to do is sit outside and indulge into a frozen cream, custard or yogurt. Last year was our first summer in Switzerland and by the time June came around we were quite literally cooking, which meant banana ice cream topped with granola for breakfast and all sorts of frozen concoctions throughout the day.

Recipe: Tonka Bean Semifreddo

Gintare Marcel for decor8

Having a job that keeps me thinking about food almost every day, I am always on the lookout for interesting ingredients to work with. Now, for those who do not know, I happen to live in the beautiful Swiss countryside where more exotic ingredients aren’t always easy to come by, so when the lovely lady selling spices in our market procured some tonka beans, I jumped and bought them all.

Tonka bean is a curious little thing. It has a particular taste somewhere between almond and vanilla that comes even more alive once a little vanilla is added to it. There are even very delicate tobacco notes that are barely felt, but it makes for a more interesting spice altogether.

Recipe: Tonka Bean Semifreddo

Gintare Marcel for decor8

Tonka beans work not only in sweet things where they can be baked in or just grated on top of desserts to finish them off. They are great with shellfish, though I feel a note should be made here. When it comes to vanilla undertones and shellfish the world is divided into two groups: one says they should never be seen together and the other thinks it’s like biting into a piece of heaven (when done well, of course). I belong to the latter, having tried scallops with vanilla hollandaise some four years ago and still dreaming about it to date, so I would surely recommend giving this flavur marriage a try.

If you have never worked with tonka beans on the other hand, dessert is a good place to start and a semifreddo is a wonderful way to showcase its flavor (and keep in your freezer for when the sun is out). The art of making a semifreddo is rather basic. You need to beat the eggs over a double boiler till they become light and fluffy (cooking them at the same time) and after tossing with some cream freeze completely, though it will start melting almost immediately after leaving the freezer so do take it out the last minute. I like to add a bit of crunch to my semifreddo in the form of meringues and berries for freshness, but it will taste great on its on too.

SHOPPING LIST:
2 egg yolks
1 egg
4 tbsp sugar
2 tonka beans, grated
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
1 cup/ 250 ml
Meringues (optional)
2 egg whites, room temperature
pinch of salt
1/2 cup/115 g caster sugar
berries to serve
edible pansies, to serve (optional)

PREPARE
To make the semifreddo, line a large tin (or 6 small ones) with cling film. Set aside. Place a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water with eggs, sugar, grated tonka beans and scraped vanilla seeds beating for 5-6 minutes, till thick, pale and double in volume. Take off the heat and continue to beat for a minute or two, till the bowl cools down. To speed things up, you can place the bowl over ice. In a chilled bowl beat cream till soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into eggs. Pour into tin and freeze for at least 3-4 hours.

To make the meringues, preheat the oven to 110C/ 250F. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt till stiff peaks. Gradually add the sugar beating very well after each addition. Then continue to beat till the meringue looks thick and glossy, but do not overbeat. Pipe out mini meringues on a lined sheet and bake for 1 hour. Then switch off the oven and let them cool completely.

To serve, take out the semifreddo, top with berries, meringues, pansies and serve immediately.

Recipe: Tonka Bean Semifreddo

Gintare Marcel for decor8

Enjoy the sun and frozen treats, I will be back with another recipe on 15th June! –Gintare

(Photography, Recipe, Text: Gintare Marcel)






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