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Saint Sophie’s day is over

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The Ice Saints are St. Mamertus (or, in some countries, St. Boniface of Tarsus), St. Pancras and St. Servatius. They are so named because their feast day fall on the days of May 11, May 12, and May 13 respectively, known as “the blackthorn winter” in Austrian, Belgian, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, North Italian, Polish, Slovak, Slovene and Swiss folklore.

In parts of the Northern Hemisphere, the period from May 12 to May 15 is often believed to bring a brief spell of colder weather in many years, including the last nightly frosts of the spring. Pupils of Galileo confirmed this weather pattern for the years 1655-70 and reported a marked cold snap over the days of the Ice Saints. However, in 1902 William Dines, President of the Royal Meteorological Society, used modern statistical techniques to demonstrate that the Ice Saints were a myth, brought about by selective reporting. On the other hand, a review from 1941 to 1969 showed that 13 May was usually the warmest day of the month, and was followed by a sharp drop in temperature.

In 1582, the replacement of the Julian calendar by the Gregorian calendar involved omitting 10 days in the calendar. So if the folklore predates the calendar change, then the equivalent dates from the climatic point of view would be May 22–25.

St. Mamertus is not counted amongst the Ice Saints in certain countries, whereas St. Boniface of Tarsus belongs to them in other countries (Flanders, Liguria, Czech Republic, etc.) as well; St. Boniface’s feast day falling on May 14. St Sophia, nicknamed Cold Sophia (German kalte Sophie) on May 15 can be added in Germany, Alsace (France), Poland, etc.

In Poland and the Czech Republic, the Ice Saints are Pancras, Servatus and Boniface of Tarsus (i.e., May 12 to May 14). To the Poles, the trio are known collectively as zimni ogrodnicy (cold gardeners) and are followed by zimna Zośka (cold Sophia) on the feast day of St. Sophia, which falls on May 15. In Czech, the three saints are collectively referred to as “ledoví muži” (ice men or icy men) and St. Sophia is known as “Žofie, ledová žena” (Sophia, the ice woman). Sisymbrium sophia, called the Sophienkraut in Germany, and it’s named after her.

In Sweden, the German legend of the Ice Saints has resulted in the belief that there are special “järnnätter” (Swedish for “iron nights”) especially in early June, which are susceptible to frost. The term likely arose out of mistranslation of German sources, where the term “Eismänner” (German for “ice men”) was read as “Eisenmänner” (German for “iron men”) and their nights then termed “iron nights,” which then became shifted from May to June.Eisheilige-kalte-sophie


Quesadillas with choco mignonnettes, pear and cream cheese

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Quesadillas with cheese always taste good but surprise yourself and your table mates with this sweet variety. Chocolate and pear are a match made in heaven and together form a delicious dessert.

Ingredients: 4 tortillas, 16 chocolate mignonnettes (4 per tortilla), 200 g full cream cheese, 2 pears, zest of 1 orange, 80 g hazelnuts, powder sugar


Peel the pears, remove the core and cut into slices of about 3mm.

Grill the hazelnuts and chop them finely.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Place 2 tortillas on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Spread the 2 tortillas with cream cheese and place slices of pear on top.

Crumble the chocolate mignonnette coarsely and sprinkle on the pear along with the orange zest and hazelnuts.

Re-layer pear and mignonnette pieces. Spread the other tortillas with cream cheese and place on top of the invested tortilla.

Slide both tortillas into the oven for about 8 to 10 minutes. Cut into 4 and finish with powder sugar.


Quick cake for Mother’s day

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This cake name is I like you BERRY much!

Ingredients: 1 roll crumb dough, 1 lemon, 200 ml full cream, 500 g mix summer berries, 2 tbsp vanilla sugar, 40 g pistachios, finely chopped, Icing sugar

For the pudding: 250 ml milk, 60 ml cream, 3 eggs, bag vanilla sugar, 1 tbsp corn starch

Baked beans or dry rice

Directions: Preheat the oven to 180°C.

1. Roll the dough out and top the cake tin with it. Prick some holes in the dough with a fork, lined with baking paper and fill with baking beans or dry rice. Place in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the baking beans and paper and place in the oven for another 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make the vanilla pudding: Bring the milk to a boil with the cream. Turn down the heat. Split the eggs and beat the yolks with the vanilla sugar until dissolved.

Add the corn starch and whisk well. Pour a small dash of the warm cream mixture into the yolk mixture.

Then pour this into the pan with the rest of the cream mixture. Over a low heat, bring to a boil until the pudding is thick enough. Pour the pudding into a bowl and let it to cool. Stir regularly so that no skin comes on.

3. Beat the cream stiff with a tablespoon of icing sugar and with the grated zest of the lemon. Put half the berries in a mixing bowl and spoon the vanilla sugar to it. Press/push the fruit down with a fork. Gently fold the cream in with the spatula.

4. Divide the pudding between the cooled cake base. Spoon the cream with the fruit and sprinkle with the pistachios. Finish the cake with the remaining fruit and sprinkle with icing sugar.

Happy Mother’s day!snelle_bessentaart_2


Vegan asparagus sticks for Walpurgis Night

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Ingredients: 1 clove garlic, 1 bunch chive, 1 bunch parsley, 0.5 organic lemon 100g vegan butter , Salt, pepper to taste, 200g flour, 0.5 pack(s) dry yeast, 1 tsp sugar, 100 ml oat drink, 2 tbsp oil, 1 bunch asparagus (green), 5 dried tomatoes

First we need 1 clove garlic, 1 bunch chive, 1 bunch parsley, 0.50 organic lemon, 100 g vegan butter, salt&pepper to taste

For the herb butter, peel the garlic and press through a garlic press. Wash chive and parsley, pat dry and finely chop. Wash the lemon with hot water, rub the zest, squeeze out the juice. Mix everything with the soft butter, season with salt and pepper and set to a cold place.

For the dough we need: 200 g flour, 0.50 pack(s) dry yeast, 1 tsp sugar, 100 ml oat drink, 1 tbsp oil

For the dough, mix flour, yeast, sugar and add a little salt. Warm the oat drink lukewarm and add 1 tablespoon oil. Knead everything to a smooth dough and leave in a warm place for about 30 minutes.

For the asparagus we need: 1 bunch green asparagus , 1 tbsp oil, 5 dried tomatoes

Meanwhile, clean asparagus, wash, cut off woody ends. Fry the asparagus in 1 tablespoon oil, season with salt and pepper, leave to cool. Finely chop tomatoes.

Knead yeast dough again, knead the tomatoes into the dough. Divide the dough into pieces according to the asparagus sticks and roll into long strands. Wrap one strand spirally around an asparagus bar.

Grill the asparagus stick bread on the grill all around until the dough is cooked. Serve with the herb butter.



Frisian cake with plum mousse

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Friesen torte is a North and East Friesland specialty. A combination of cake and tart, it is rich, creamy, absolutely delicious and now a popular treat throughout Northern Germany. Made from Short Crust pastry, Puff Pastry, Whipping Cream and Plum Jam or Puree, often homemade, it is the calorie bomb “special occasion” cake that accompanies a  Frisian tea ceremony, Friesen tea on Sundays and celebrations. Or coffee at a Kaffeeklatsch, a coffee morning or afternoon.
It is a reward worth waiting for after a bracing walk along the Friesland sea shore, and through the dunes battling a North Sea wind.

Despite its simplicity there are as many variations for Friesen torte as there are families in Friesland, but here is a very quick and easy recipe that uses some ready made ingredients. Although it is of course possible to make the basic ingredients yourself if you prefer.Citromkrémes fríztorta

Frisian Cream Cake

Ingredients: 1 lb Puff pastry, 1/2 lb Short crust Pastry, 1 Jar, (1 lb) Plum Jam or Puree
20 fluid oz Cream, Vanilla Flavoring, Confectioner’s Sugar
(It is not necessary to be absolutely exact in your measurements)

If you have a baking spring form it does make your “building” work a bit easier, but it is also not difficult without.

Cut out four circles from baking paper, either to the shape of the springform or free hand.

Roll out the short crust pastry and cut to the size of the spring form if you have one, otherwise just make a circle from the pastry, prick with fork and place on a lightly greased, or baking paper covered baking tray.

A short crust pastry base makes the cake more stable than it would be with one made from puff pastry.

Preheat oven to just under 200C/400F/Gas 6 place short crust pastry circle in center and bake until golden brown. (Dark baking trays tend to cook pastry more quickly)

Cut out three same size circles from the puff pastry, place on baking paper

Prick with fork

When the short crust pastry has cooked, remove and turn temperature of oven up to 400F.

After it has reached the correct heat place the three puff pastry circles in oven and bake until risen and golden brown.

Allow the pastry bases to cool completely.

Whip the cream with a sugar and vanilla flavoring to taste until it is stiff.

Fríz torta

If the cake is going to stand for sometime and is not all going to be eaten the same day, which does not usually happen, then it is best to add some melted gelatin to the cream while whipping, this will make sure it does not collapse!

With a spring form you can build up the cake layer by layer inside it, starting with the short crust base, otherwise place the base on a plate and begin.

Spread one third of the Plum Jam or Puree on the short crust base, and one third on each of two puff pastry circles.

Top the plum filling on the discs equally with whipped cream.

Layer the two cream and plum covered puff pastry shells in layers on the short crust base

Finish with the third puff pastry shell and sprinkle this with confectioner’s sugar to decorate.

Remove the spring form if you have used it, and your Friesen torte is ready to serve.

Various “extras” can be added to the plum mixture, for example crushed walnuts, a little rum or other alcohol, cinnamon, and sometimes both the top and sides of the cake are covered with another thick layer of whipped cream, and then decorated with additional half plums, caramelized or natural, and toasted almond slivers.

The other classical variant of the Frisian torte is filled with apple mousse or lemon curd!


Spinach, steak & potatoes

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Ingredients: 1 onion, 3 cloves garlic, 500 g potatoes, 200 g beefsteak, 100 g champignons, 200 g fresh spinach, 3 tbsp pine nuts, 2 tbsp oil


Wash the unpeeled potatoes and cut over in half and then again in half. Cook the potatoes until tender in lightly salted water.

Meanwhile, simmer the spinach until tender and drain.

Fry the onion, garlic and steak strips in some olive oil until the meat is light brown.

Season with steak spices.

Add the potatoes and mushrooms and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the spinach to dish, and serve in a small bowl and garnish with roasted pine nuts.


Gentleman cake with white wine cream

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The lilac is a very popular ornamental plan in gardens and parks, because of its attractive, sweet-smelling flowers, which appear in early summer (rather late spring, in May) just before many of the roses and other summer flowers come into bloom.

During centuries it has been widely naturalized in western and northern Europe.

Lilacs are often considered to symbolize love (see language of flowers). In Greece, Lebanon, and Cyprus, the lilac is strongly associated with Easter time because it flowers around that time; it is consequently called paschalia.

In the poem ” When Lilacs last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”, by Walt Whitman, lilacs are a reference to Abraham Lincoln.

In a sign of its complete naturalization in North America, it has been selected as the state flower of the state of New Hampshire, because it “is symbolic of that hardy character of the men and women of the Granite State”.

Some cultivars

Between 1876 and 1927, the nurseryman Victor Lemoine of Nancy, France introduced over 153 named cultivars, many of which are considered classics and still in commerce today. Lemoine’s “French lilacs” extended the limited color range to include deeper, more saturated hues, and they also introduced double-flowered “sports”, with the stamens replaced by extra petals.

Lilac in the kitchen

I didn’t know that the flowers of the lilacs are edible and even have some medicinal qualities. But eating a single flower raw was a flavor exploding experience with slight astringency (drying to tissues), almost bitter, and very floral.

Medicinal lilac

Medicinal uses are still a gray area when it comes to just the flower. Most resources that I have found (a Modern Herbal) list that the medicinal benefits of Lilac come from the leaves and fruit. Apparently used as a tea or infusion historically it has been used as a anti-periodic. Anti-periodic basically means that it stops the recurrence of disease such as malaria. There has been some studies that indicate a febrifuge action which may help bring down fever.

Lilac flowers have astringent, aromatic, and a little bitter qualities. Astringents tighten, draw, and dry tissues such as skin. So a wonderful application would be a cold or warm infusion to use as a toner on the face. Or using the same method but apply to rashes, cuts, and other skin ailments.

An aromatic action causes irritation to the place that it is touching (think GI tract) and irritation brings blood flow and blood flow equals healing! Eating the flowers raw may help with gastric issues such as flatulence or constipation. Making an herbal infused oil may be a great way to capture the aromatics for healing purposes and to make your own fragrance oil as well as making lilac jelly syrup, wine liqueur, ice cream, or lilac honey. I would say the lilacs are best for garnishes and edible flower displays on pastries rather than whole meals.

One more point of interest. Lilac wood is supposed to be one of the densest in Europe and has been historically used to make musical instruments such as pipes or flutes. We had to cut down one of our lilac shrubs I am sad to say, however we kept all the branches. I will choose one to make a pipe (hopefully one day soon) and will describe the process in another blog post.

Cake for gentleman

From where I got the inspiration to make a cake with lilac flower? From a German magazin, the Wohnen&Garten. In Germany, like all other countries, meeting up for evening coffee and cake and all the chats is usually a lady‘s thing but there is one exception to bring men on such gatherings, and it is the Herrentorte, the Gentleman’s Tart. In German language Herrentorte means “Cake for Gentlemen”. This dessert consists of several individually baked layers of sponge cake and two layers of wine cream so it tastes less sweet than normal cakes. It is an unwritten traditional that in Germany the birthday cake for men is the Herrentorte.

Recipe for the sponge base: 2 goose eggs or 4 normal hen eggs, 160g brown sugar or 150g caster sugar , 150g plain flour, 1 Earl grey tea bag, Lemon curd or marmalade, 300ml double cream, 5 tbsp icing sugar, Juice of half a lemon, Fresh lilac flowers

For the wine cream filling: 180 ml white wine, 120 gr sugar, 200 gr butter, room temperature, 2 egg whites, and some marzipan

Methods: Preheat the oven to 180c 350f

Grease and line two swiss roll tins.

In the bowl of a stand mixer add the eggs and sugar and mix together until pale and thick  (about 5 minutes)

Empty out the contents of an earl grey tea bag and mix with the flour then tip in the flour 1/4 at a time and fold in gently.

Once combined separate between the two tins and tip the trays to spread the mixture to the corners. Don’t spread it out it will knock out the air.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes then tip out onto a sheet of baking paper dusted with icing sugar (i used lilac sugar) or tip onto the work top and gently peel off the paper.

Spread a thick layer or curd or marmalade onto each sponge and sprinkle over some lilac flowers cut into equal strips horizontally rather than diagonally. (As it is marmalade being spread on this can be done while the cake is still hot but if you want to use cream or buttercream then the sponge has to be cool so roll up one strip and let cool in a rolled position then unroll and spread on filling and roll up again).

For the white wine cream: you need the egg whites, 180 ml white wine, 125 gr sugar, 200 gr butter and some marzipan.  Then put everything in a bowl, place over waterbath and stir until it will be creamy.

Start with the first strip and roll up into a tight roll then get the next piece of sponge and place it where the last piece ended and continue rolling until all the strips are used and you are have large cake. (I made a small one as my tins are not very big)

Now let cool completely. Whip the cream and icing sugar until thick  (I added a little color). Then spread onto cake with a pallet knife and smooth out. Decorate with more lilac flowers.

Orgona torta