Friday letters

Friday, Friday, Friday! I am so pleased you’re here! You would think after a four-day weekend I would be happy to do plenty of work this week, but in fact I’m really looking forward to the weekend. That probably makes it sound like I hate my job… I swear I don’t! But I’ve spent most of the week working on a single not all that interesting translation and I could use a break from it. Plus it’s looking like some fun things might be in order this weekend, and who wouldn’t look forward to fun things? I still have a full day of work to get there before that though. So for now let’s have some letters.

Letters

Dear scales. I very much appreciated you’re sticking to the same number despite all my indulgences in Berlin, but it’s been nearly a week now so it would be nice if you could start moving in a downward direction again…

Dear plants. I wish there was some way I could make you grow faster. I’m so excited for you to look all pretty on my balcony.

Dear Easter chocolate. I hope you know how much willpower it cost me to ignore you now that you’re half price in all the supermarkets! Please hurry up and sell out so I can no longer be tempted!

Dear home office. If I were to look up the word “chaos” in the dictionary I’m sure a photo of you would appear! I’m so sorry. One day we will find the right piece of furniture for you…

Dear Switzerland. In 5 days I will have been living in you for 2 years. Time flies!

Right, that’s it for today. Have an amazing weekend everyone!
p.s. Tomorrow is April’s photo an hour day with Jane and Louisa. Who’s playing?

 

Friday letters

Hey everyone! Sorry I’ve been absent from the blogosphere this week – it’s been a stressful one. I’ve worked overtime every single day except for Tuesday, when I couldn’t because I was in the office and 2 hours of travelling time each way means I actually work less hours than I’m supposed to. Today I will work overtime again – I started early because there’s a job that absolutely must be finished by 5 p.m.! Luckily next week is already looking better and in three weeks time I have a week off. Now, though, it’s time for some Friday letters.

mailbox

Dear chocolate. You have been tempting me far too often lately. It’s about time I ignored your call and added more healthy snacks to my diet. It’s all well and good being naughty over Christmas, but it’s almost February now and spring will be here before I know it…

Dear winter clothes. I wish more of you were both warm and pretty. Having an excuse to choose cosy over stylish was nice for a while, but now I would actually like to ditch the layers and shapeless jumpers occasionally.

Dear dishwasher. You save me so much time, I really don’t know how we coped before moving here!

Dear birds. It’s nice that you’ve decided to come back, but I see you’ve been ignoring the pumpkin seeds and eating everything else. Fussy little creatures, aren’t you?

Dear Stephen King. You are an excellent author, but whyyy must your books be so long?

Okay, that’s all for now. I’m cutting my lunch break short today so I can get this job finished…

 

GBBO bake along: chocolate mousse and white chocolate cheesecake pots

This time on the Great British Bake Off bake along it was time for dessert week. My options were something called Marjolaine (which I’ve never heard of!), a roulade or mini mousse cakes. My first thought was to make some kind of chocolate mousse topped brownie thing, which seemed like a lot of effort for something that’s meant to be fun (and I’m definitely not in this to win it!), so I decided to go with something much easier.

If you make white chocolate cheesecake and top it with chocolate mousse, it totally counts as a mousse cake, right?

This is so easy a five year old could make it! Obviously I don’t recommend leaving said five year old to melt chocolate unsupervised, but with a little adult help a five year old could totally do it.

First of all, you make the base. For this you will need 55g biscuits (okay, cookies if you insist) and 20g butter. Digestive biscuits (I believe you can replace them with Graham Crackers in the US) or – my personal favourite – ginger nuts – work best, but I have never seen a ginger nut here and I wasn’t at the one supermarket that I know sells Digestives so I just bought any random biscuit. They worked well enough, but if any German or Swiss person happens to be reading, could you tell me what kind of biscuit you normally use for a biscuit base? Thanks!

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Random biscuity rings

Anyway, you need to crush the biscuits to form crumbs and melt the butter. Mix the two together well then put them on the bottom of your glass pots (or mini baking tins, whatever you’re using) and press down firmly to form a base. Now into the fridge with them to chill.

Next up is the cheesecake layer. For this I used 95g of cream cheese, 65 ml whipping cream and 60g white chocolate, which ended up being way too much so I ate the leftovers. What? Like you wouldn’t do the same!

Melt the chocolate in a Bain-Marie… or a bowl over a saucepan with some water in it. Let’s not pretend I’m posher than I am here! Beat the cream cheese until it’s soft then whip the cream. My cheesecake recipe tells me to whip it “until it’s about to form peaks”. How on Earth am I supposed to know when something is about to do something? What is this, baking for psychics? What I usually do it whip it until the beaters start to leave trails when I move them but no peaks form when I lift the beaters. It’s always worked so far. Now fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese then stir in the melted chocolate. You can use any chocolate. I chose white so this layer would contrast with the mousse. Thanks to the cream cheese, the cheesecake layer isn’t horribly sweet despite being white chocolate. Sprread the cheesecake mixture over the biscuit base then place the pots back in the fridge to chill some more.

cheesecake
Cheesecake layer

Finally, the mousse. I took this from a recipe by Mary Berry herself – celebration chocolate mousse cake, and it is easy peasy. Literally whipped cream and chocolate. I used 75g of chocolate and 112 ml of cream. First melt the chocolate and set it aside to cool (confession… I just took mine off the heat and placed it to one side, forgetting the water in the saucepan was still steaming, so I’m unsure whether cooling even happened. Oh well, I melted the chocolate slowly so it wasn’t that hot to start with). While the chocolate cools, whip the cream. This time whip until it “forms soft peaks”. Thank goodness… actual peaks I can cope with! Stir the chocolate into the cream, making sure they’re evenly blended (no random darker streaks of chocolate!), layer the mousse on top of the cheesecake and place the whole lot back in the fridge to chill some more. The mousse needs to chill for at least 4 hours (or overnight) to firm up properly. Other mousse cakes I saw used gelatine, which would probably firm up quicker, but the little shop I was at most definitely did not sell gelatine!

I made two cake pots, but have only photographed the one that looks slightly nicer 😉 Later, I took my desserts back out of the fridge and decorated them with some gold balls… because who doesn’t like a bit of sparkle?

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Chocolate mousse and white chocolate cheesecake pot

And that’s it. Not much of a show stopper (I mean, just look at the beautiful desserts everyone else has produced), but it’s easy and tasty, which is really what I want from something that Jan and I actually have to eat!

Friday letters

Guuyysss… how on Earth is it Friday already?! This week has gone so fast! I was shocked when I realised it was Thursday yesterday and not Wednesday like I thought. This weekend I’m mostly going to be finishing off a cross stitch, but I’m hoping I’ll also find some time to relax since it’s the last weekend for a while that we don’t have either visitors or plans (or both!).

letter box

Dear wardrobe. We love you! It’s so nice to actually be able to find all my clothes! And that new wood smell you’re still giving off is also nice.

Dear chocolate. Stop tempting me! There’s a pretty dress I need to fit into in a mere two weeks.

Dear Switzerland. Would you like to explain to me why most supermarkets make you ask for pine nuts at the counter. Are they particularly dangerous? Addictive? What? Inquiring minds want to know!

Dear BBC Big Read books. I’ve said this before, but seriously why are most of you so long?!

Dear crumpets. I think I need to dig out the recipe I have for you and make you again. Toast just isn’t the same!

Enough for today. I need to go and drink a cup of tea on my balcony 🙂

Happy weekend, dear readers!

 

Foodie Penpals April 2016 reveal

Yes, it’s that time again! In April, I was paired with two people from England. I sent a parcel to Evette who blogs at Bizzimummy and received one from Jess. I pretty much told Jess to just surprise me as long as there were no peanuts, so she put together a box of her favourite treats. The first thing I saw when I opened the box (after taking out Jess’s note, of course), was this:

Chocolate

The little After Eight chocolates were eaten as soon as I’d taken the photo!
I was happy to see Jaffa Cakes because I love them and hadn’t had any in ages. I was nice and only ate two of them, saving the third for Jan.

Next came more chocolate:

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We ate the M&Ms while watching some TV on Saturday. The Milky Way I had all to myself 😉

The next item took me right back to my student days!

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They became my oh-so-healthy lunch on Friday.

Next up was stuff to drink:

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The Wispa Gold hot chocolate was very yummy! I may have to buy more when I’m next in the UK.

Finally, at the bottom of the box were two packet mixes:

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I can’t even remember the last time I had Angel Delight!

Here’s everything all together:

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As for what I sent… Evette told me she likes chocolate, crisps and cake and prefers ready-to-eat foods over ingredients. Here’s what she got:

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Not the healthiest of parcels, but all very yummy.

If you’re in Europe, you can find out all about Foodie Penpals and sign up here. You can see more examples of parcels that people have received in the Facebook group.

I can’t wait to see what my May parcel brings!

Foodie penpals: November 2015 reveal

I was supposed to post this on the last day of the month. Oops! Buuut, in my defence, I only received my package on Monday and my Colmar post was already scheduled by that time, then yesterday I had to check in for the reading challenge. Today I have no other posts planned though, so I can reveal what was in my final foodie penpals package of 2015.

This time I was paired up with two people in Germany, sending a package to Sabine and then receiving one from the lovely Jana who blogs here, mostly in German, but she writes foodie reveals in English. Jana sent me some local goodies along with some of her own favourites and, best of all, homemade biscuits! Let’s take a look:

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A box of yummy treats… and for once I took the photos on the table 😉

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First up is tea and biscuits. A tea advent calendar, containing 24 different kinds of tea bags, and home-made cinnamon waffles, which Jana told me she made using a special waffle maker she inherited from her grandfather. What a special treat for me!

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I’ve had Schogetten before, but I had no idea they were from Jana’s area of Germany (the Saarland – specifically, Schogetten are from Saarlouis according to the packet). They look like just chocolate bars, but actually each square of chocolate is separate, for easy portioning. Jana sent me two varieties – Alpine Milk Chocolate and Nougat (with a hazelnut cream filling). Yummy!

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This is a spice mix for “spice cake”. On the back, there’s a recipe for the cake. It looks very Christmassy and I can’t wait to try it!

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I have seen Karlsberg beer in the shops, but never tried it. I’ll probably have this at the weekend.

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A mix for tabbouleh (spell check thinks that’s the English spelling?), complete with all the spices. All I need to do is add some veg. I love tabbouleh and Migros has an Alnatura section, so if this is good I may end up buying some.

And finally…

Saarlodis

I saved the best for last 🙂 This is a jar of mustard. What’s special about it is the little figures – these are the Saarlodris. They’re little cartoon figures that Jana told me are the Saarland version of the Mainzelmännchen – little cartoon mascots of the TV channel ZDF. Jan didn’t know the Saarlodris either, having never lived in that part of Germany (Mainzelmännchen, on the other hand, are broadcast everywhere). Jana wrote that, once the mustard is gone, I should wash out the glass and use it for what, to which Jan said “Yep, that’s what you do with mustard glasses!”. So I guess I learned a new thing about Germany?

This was a wonderful end to this year’s foodie penpal packages, and now I’m looking forward to what 2016 has to bring!

(For those of you wondering what I sent.. I thought I’d taken a photo but I can’t seem to find it?! So sorry!)

Carol Anne is taking a well-deserved break in December, but you can sign up now to take part in January. Read the rules and sign up here (This is the European version, for those of you in the US/Canada, the original Foodie Penpals on The Lean Green Bean is here.).

Raspberry chocolate dessert pots

DessertThe company Jan currently works for celebrated it’s 30th anniversary last week, so he and all his colleagues were working extremely hard to get everything ready for demonstrating to the visitors. The result was that Jan and I ate together precisely once last week (on Friday – the anniversary was on Thursday). In fact, he didn’t come home before midnight on any of those days. After all that hard work, I decided he deserved a treat, so I made this dessert last night. The amounts given here make 2 pots.

Raspberry Chocolate Dessert Pots

Ingredients:
70 g chocolate digestives (or similar biscuits)
35g butter
125g raspberries
50g dark chocolate
200 ml tub of cream
Caster sugar

Method:

1. Melt the butter in a pan and, while it’s melting, crush the chocolate biscuits. Once that’s done, stir the melted butter and crushed biscuits together.

2. Divide the biscuit crumb mixture between two dessert glasses/bowls (I used glass pots that had previously contained shop-bought cheesecakes. Recycling!), then cover the pots with tinfoil and place them in the fridge for around 15 minutes.

3. Place all but 10 of the raspberries in a bowl and crush them with a fork. Add half a teaspoon of caster sugar and stir it in well, then your pots/glasses back out of the fridge and spread a layer of crushed raspberries over the biscuit-crumb base. Put the pots back in the fridge.

4. Melt the chocolate and 20ml of the cream in a bowl, either in the microwave or over a pan of water, then place to one side to cool for a bit. Once it’s cooled slightly, add a layer of chocolate over the layer of raspberries in your pots then return the pots to the fridge again.

 (*Note: I’m writing this recipe down the way I did it. The chocolate layer ended up hardening though, so next time I might put the chocolate directly on top of the biscuit layer than add the crushed raspberries on top – it might be less messy when eating the dessert later!)

5. Whip the remaining cream until it starts to for firm peaks. Don’t over-whip otherwise it will go liquid again and nothing will persuade the peaks to come back! Take 6 of your remaining raspberries, halve them, and then carefully stir the raspberry halves into the cream. Finally, spoon the whipped cream/raspberry mixture on top of the chocolate layer in your post. Decorate with the remaining raspberries and anything else you want. As you can see, I chose chocolate stars.