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Elsie in the Kitchen

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Classic Italian Bruschetta with NatureSweet Eclipses


We moved from Europe to the US a few years ago, and one of the things I miss is the food in Italy. Simple, with the best ingredients, you just can’t beat it. I miss the tomatoes from my in-laws’ kitchen garden, they are unlike anything I have tried before; and when you’re making something as simple as classic Italian bruschetta you need to use good tomatoes. Unfortunately most tomatoes sold in the grocery store taste of… pretty much nothing, and your homemade bruschetta can be disappointing. So when NatureSweet offered me some of their new Eclipses, I knew the way to put them to the ultimate test was Bruschetta. That, and my seven year old. She’s honest and a bit of a food diva, so she’ll tell you like it is.

classic italian bruschetta fb

Elsie loves to bake and was keen on making pink cupcakes this weekend… So when I told her we had some fancy tomatoes to test run, I felt like a bit of a party pooper. However, when I told her we were making bruschetta, she immediately decided it was important to bake our own bread. If you’re going to do it, do it properly, right? Because bruschetta topping is wet, you need a crusty bread base, otherwise you’re going to end up in a soggy mess. Traditionally, bruschetta would be served on a sliced tuscan loaf, an extremely basic unsalted, unsweetened bread – it’s literally made with yeast, flour and water. It is however a bread that requires a ‘sponge’, which means you have to be prepared 24hrs before. Alternatively, get yourself a baguette and slice diagonally, or something a little crustier – avoid a soft fluffy center!
 

Why Ingredients are Important for Classic Italian Bruschetta

Classic Italian bruschetta is truly simple, which means you taste every ingredient. Therefore this is one of those times you crack open the fancy extra virgin olive oil and the posh sea salt. Similarly, without good tomatoes, bruschetta is going to be rather tasteless, so consider which tomatoes are going to give deep, rich flavor. I knew bruschetta would be the ultimate test for NatureSweet Eclipses and they passed with flying colors! Elsie was a little nervous of the deep color when she first saw them, and as you’ll see in the video, she was a little reluctant to try. Despite the slow start, she asked for a second helping with her dinner, so I think we won her over…

The twins are already hooked on the NatureSweet baby tomatoes, and they were just as happy with the Eclipses, they truly were delicious. For the full bruschetta recipe, check out the card below:

 

classic italian bruschetta ingredients

Classic Italian Bruschetta
Yields 6
Simple, using the best ingredients, you just can't beat authentic bruschetta on Tuscan bread.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
26 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
26 hr
For the Tuscan bread (sponge)
  1. 1 tbs (1 packet) active dry yeast
  2. 1/2 cup luke warm water
  3. 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
For the Tuscan bread (loaf)
  1. 1/2 tbs (1/2 packet) active dry yeast
  2. 11/4 cups luke warm water
  3. 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
For the bruschetta
  1. 6 slices tuscan bread
  2. 1 clove garlic
  3. 4 NatureSweet Eclipses Tomatoes
  4. 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  5. 4-6 fresh basil leaves
  6. course sea salt
  7. tsp cracked black pepper
Instructions
  1. Method: Tuscan bread (sponge)
  2. Add the luke warm water (110-115°F) to a medium bowl and sprinkle over the yeast. Leave to activate for about 10mins.
  3. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and keep mixing until a dough is formed.
  4. Cover and leave in a warm place for around 20hrs.
  5. Method: Tuscan bread (loaf)
  6. Add 1/4 cup luke warm water (110-115°F) to a large bowl and sprinkle over the yeast. Leave to activate for about 10mins.
  7. Add the remaining water, stir in the risen sponge from yesterday and mix thoroughly.
  8. Add the flour and mix with your hands (grease them with olive oil to stop the sticking). Knead until smooth, by hand or using a mixer.
  9. Leave the dough to stand in a greased bowl for 4hrs - it should double in size. Remove from the bowl and shape into a loaf. Leave to stand for another 30mins.
  10. Preheat oven to 400°F, if using a pizza stone, preheat with the stone inside. Sprinkle the pizza stone (or a baking sheet) with flour and place the loaf in the center. Bake for 30mins - it may take a little longer on a baking sheet.
  11. Method: Bruschetta
  12. Slice the bread diagonally and char on a griddle pan or charcoal grill.
  13. Crack the clove of garlic with the side of a knife and peel. Rub the garlic over the warm toast.
  14. Drizzle each piece with olive oil.
  15. De-seed and chop the tomatoes into small cubes and put a handful onto each slice.
  16. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper.
Notes
  1. De-seeding the tomatoes is not necessary, I do it quickly but not thoroughly.
Twin Pickle http://twinpickle.com/

So… What Do you think?

I hope you love the garlic rub as much as I do… it makes all the difference!

classic italian bruschetta delicious

I was really pleased how the classic Italian bruschetta turned out, let me know if you try it. 

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Decadent Chocolate Fudge Cake: Elsie in the Kitchen

It’s the weekend and Elsie’s in the mood for chocolate cake. Who am I to deny her an opportunity to work on her baking skills? And I suppose I’ll have to help her eat it too… tough times. This decadent chocolate fudge cake contains A LOT of chocolate, while being extremely moist and messy. I recommend you get on board and make yourself one immediately, and serve with fresh strawberries. This level of decadence is made for strawberries… yum.

 

Elsie was a little disappointed we didn’t get to film her valentine’s cookies, so this weekend Mom the camera woman and Mom the kitchen assistant were re-employed, and Elsie got busy in the kitchen… enjoy!

 

 

This really is a fantastic cake… if you missed Elsie’s fabulous instructions, here’s the full recipe:

Decadent Chocolate Fudge Cake
Serves 12
Rich and decadent cake for the true chocolate lover.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Cake Ingredients
  1. 7 oz dark chocolate
  2. 7oz butter
  3. ½ cup water
  4. ¾ cup self rising flour
  5. ¼ tsp baking soda
  6. ¼ cup brown sugar
  7. ½ cup white sugar
  8. ¼ cup cocoa powder
  9. 3 eggs
  10. ⅓ cup buttermilk
Ganache Ingredients
  1. 1¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  2. 2 tbsp sugar
  3. 7 oz dark chocolate
Cake Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F and grease an 8 inch cake tin.
  2. Break up the chocolate in a bowl. Melt and stir together with the butter and water. This can be on the stove or in the microwave. Set aside.
  3. Mix the flour, baking soda, sugars and cocoa powder together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. Beat 3 eggs together with the buttermilk.
  5. Pour the chocolate mixture and the egg mixture into the flour mix. Stir until combined.
  6. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 1 hr 15mins.
  7. Allow the cake to cool before slicing into two parts for frosting.
Ganache Method
  1. Heat the cream together with the sugar in a pan but do not boil.
  2. Break up the chocolate in a bowl and pour over most of the cream mix. Keep stirring and adding until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is a good consistency for spreading.
  3. Cover one of the cake layers in ganache and sandwich back together.
  4. Cover the the cake in ganache and decorate as you wish.
Notes
  1. Serve with fresh strawberries.
Twin Pickle http://twinpickle.com/
And in case you’re not totally sold yet, here are a couple more photos to get your mouth watering!

choc cake with strawberries
I probably should have taken the photo before we ate a slice, but Elsie is quite impatient when it comes to cake.

 

choc cake slice with strawberries
I highly recommend serving with strawberries!

 

Get baking and tell me what you think!

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Related posts:
Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies: Elsie in the Kitchen
Elsie’s Madeira Cake
Elsie’s Chocolate Chip Cupcakes


This post is linked up here:

One Messy Mama

 

What Valentine’s Day Means to Kids

Not everyone is in love with Valentine’s Day, but you can safely say that most kids are. That’s because what Valentine’s Day means to kids may be a little different to us adults… I’m pretty sure it’s not all fancy date nights, or feeling depressed about their single status on Facebook. As soon as the buzz of Christmas had passed, Elsie – aged six and three quarters – was pumped about the next holiday on the calendar. For her, Valentine’s starts Feb 1st, so yesterday she insisted we get on with it and make heart cookies. “It’s February 1st today Mommy, we need to hurry, there is so much to do!” I’m not entirely sure what she has planned for the rest of the month but apparently we’d better get started.

What valentine's day means to kids FB

Apart from wanting to buy everything pink in the vicinity of the store, while proudly wearing her heart jumper dress, Elsie seems genuinely excited. But why? It is the brain-washing of shameful consumerism? I thought I’d better find out by asking her what Valentine’s Day was all about:

“You get to make new friends. Because Valentine’s Day is all about love and friendship.” 

 
When I asked what people do on Valentine’s Day she briefly talked of Cupid shooting at people with arrows to make them fall in love (why aren’t kids more scared of Cupid? It sounds terrifying). But she then went on to talk about making things to give to friends and making new friendships in the process. She’s a wise girl that Elsie.

So before you go boycotting it, think about what Valentine’s Day means to kids, and how we can all learn from it. It shouldn’t be about couples, sex and Instagraming the expensive gift your boyfriend gave you; it should be about love and friendship. Take your friends out, ring someone you’ve lost touch with, leave a little something on the doorstep of someone you care about. We all need a little more kindness in the World of today.

And in case you’re wondering what cookie delight’s we came up with last night, here’s the recipe…

Strawberry Swirl Heart Cookies
Yields 40
Traditional sugar cookies with a hint of natural strawberry flavor and a pink hue for Valentine's Day.
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Prep Time
1 hr 15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
1 hr 15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 8oz (2 sticks) butter
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 3 cups all purpose flour
  4. 1 pinch of salt
  5. 1 tsp baking powder
  6. 1 egg
  7. 1 tsp vanilla essence
  8. 6 strawberries
  9. 1 cup confectioners sugar for frosting
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (2-3mins).
  2. Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Mix 2½ cups of flour (keep ½ cup aside), salt and baking powder in a separate bowl and then add to the batter. Once a ball of dough is created, remove half of it from the mixer.
  4. On parchment paper, roll the dough into a flat disc around 1 inch thick.
  5. Blend the strawberries into a puree and add to the mixer along with the remaining half of the dough and the extra ½ cup of flour. Mix into a light pink dough.
  6. On parchment paper, roll the pink dough into a flat disc around 1 inch thick.
  7. Sandwich the two doughs together and fold over a couple of times. Knead the dough a little, just enough to get a swirled effect. Split into two balls, flatten to make two marbled discs and refrigerate for around an hour.
  8. Roll out the dough to around ⅛ inch and cut out your heart cookies. Place on a lined baking tray.
  9. Bake at 325°F for 12-15mins, until edges just start to get color.
  10. Once cooled, decorate as you wish. We just whipped up some confectioners sugar with water and dotted the perimeter. For frosting larger areas of the cookie you'll want to make proper royal icing, I've added a link below this recipe card.
Notes
  1. Refrigerating the dough hardens it a little and therefore helps the cut out shapes stay crisp. It is not necessary if you're in a hurry (as kids always are).
  2. Giving you exact measurements for flour is tough because it will depend on the size of your egg and strawberries. Use your judgement to create a dough that is easy to work with.
Twin Pickle http://twinpickle.com/
If your kiddo is wanting to decorate a masterpiece on their cookies, you’ll want some royal icing. Here a recipe and even a video on how to decorate cookies!
 
Hurry now… Elsie says there’s only twelve more days to go.

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Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies: Elsie in the Kitchen

I’m still recovering from the holidays (I hope you are too), so Elsie has taken over for today’s blog post. She’s making chewy chocolate chip cookies… delicious. Do enjoy her video!

Well done Elsie, they are pretty yummy if I don’t say so myself. I would suggest taking more precaution than she does with health and hygeine though. I’m pretty sure every surface and every cookie was licked at some point in the making of this film. Still, we will certainly be making these again, and I must give a shout out to Hoast the Toast, as we adapted the recipe from Morgan’s great blog. If you can’t remember exactly what Elsie said, here’s the recipe card:

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields 18
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Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
52 min
Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
52 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 1 tsp baking soda
  3. 2 tsp cornstarch
  4. ½ tsp salt
  5. 6oz melted butter
  6. 1 cup dark brown sugar
  7. ½ white sugar
  8. 2 eggs
  9. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  10. 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cornstarch and salt.
  2. Mix in the sugars and melted butter (make sure butter is cooled) using an electric mixer for around a minute.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and continue to mix for another minute.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Refrigerate the cookie dough for 30minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  7. Roll the cookie dough into balls and place on a lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake the cookies for around 12minutes. Keep an eye on them - you want a little color on the edges but still soft in the middle.
  9. Allow to cool on the baking sheet.
Twin Pickle http://twinpickle.com/
chewy chocolate chip cookies

For more video’s of Elsie in the kitchen, check out these on YouTube:

 
 


This post is linked up here:

Mummy in a Tutu

Night of the Living Pumpkin Gingerbread

pumpkin-gingerbreadI have a confession to make… I’m a bit of a zombie fanatic. You may remember last month  I posted on the zombie apocalypse, and with Halloween only a week away it’s the perfect excuse to get my zombie juices flowing again. My six-year old daughter was totally on board; she’s been pestering me to make gingerbread men for ages and was a little too excited about decorating with plenty of blood and goo – should I be concerned?

Zombie Pumpkin Gingerbread Men
Yields 24
A traditional gingerbread recipe with a hint of pumpkin and some zombie attitude for the holiday.
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Prep Time
50 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
50 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup butter, softened
  2. 1 cup dark brown sugar
  3. 1/4 cup molasses
  4. 1 large egg
  5. 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  6. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  7. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  9. 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  10. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  11. 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  12. frosting to decorate
  13. pre-made eye balls (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and brown sugar in an electric mixer. When light and fluffy, add the molasses, a beaten egg and the pumpkin puree.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices, then gradually beat into creamed mixture.
  3. Divide the dough and make two or three balls (this just speeds up the chilling process), then wrap in plastic and refrigerate to firm up, about 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion of dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut with a floured gingerbread man cookie cutter. If decapitating or removing a zombie limb, do this before cooking.
  5. Place 1-2 in. apart on a lined baking sheet and bake until edges are firm or just starting to brown, 8-10 minutes.
  6. Cool those zombies and frost as desired. We bought ready made eyeballs because my frosting skills have room for improvement, nice and easy for the kiddos too.
Notes
  1. You can buy pumpkin puree canned - we found ours in the baking isle around all the pumpkin pie stuff. Otherwise, make your own by cutting a pumpkin in half, scooping out seeds and placing face down in an inch of water. Bake at 350ºF for 60-90mins (depending on size of pumpkin). When soft, scoop out the flesh and blend.
Twin Pickle http://twinpickle.com/
The results aren’t going to win any beauty contests but they are delicious and we had so much fun making them. Here are some of my favourites:

zombie-bread-men

 

This post is linked up here:

Mummy in a Tutu
The Pramshed
Juggling Food
Diary of An Imperfect Mum
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