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Crema Catalana – Spanish Custard

This was the first year I finally was in Catalonia in Spain. Of course I had to try the famous “crema catalana”. This is a custard seasoned with orange and lemon zest and cinnamon. Just like the French crème brûlée it has a layer of caramelized sugar on top. The advantage of this custard? It is made on the stove-top and does not need a waterbath so it is easy to make and requires little time.

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Vareniki with Tvorog or Cottage Cheese – Recipe from my Grandma

This is another nostalgic recipe for me: vareniki. Think dumplings filled with cottage cheese from the Ukraine. You may serve these as a savory main dish, but you may also serve them sweet, traditionally filled with sour cherries. I was used to a rather hybrid version, we would eat them with tvorog or cottage cheese and served it with a sour cream sauce we knew as “shmargus”. Since everything was seasoned with salt and pepper, you may think of this as a savory dish. But it is also possible to serve with sugar sprinkled on top and some additional sour cream. As you can see on the last picture, my grandma actually passed on a recipe. This comes as a huge surprise as she normally did not write down any recipes she would make regularly. She knew them off by heart and thus did not see the need to document. So I am beyond grateful that she took the time to write down ingredients and amounts. Mind you, no instructions other than a list of ingredients, but at least this is a starting point. Since it is only the two of us, I halved the recipe, I have learned the hard way that my grandma always wrote down large amounts to feed a crowd. But at least there is something documented.

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Tarte au Riz or Rice Pudding Tart from Belgium

Rice puddig tart is an elevated form of rice pudding. You are going to pour the prepared pudding into a tart form, which was lined with yeast dough. Since it will be baked at a very high temperature just like pizza, this will result in a caramelized top, yet creamy center. I would like to invite you to try this dessert from Belgium. If you like rice pudding, you will love this rice pudding tart from Verviers in Belgium.

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Ukrainian Borscht Recipe

This is a nostalgic recipe for me: borscht, a soup from the former Soviet Union. Probably the reason why there are still fights who can call it a national dish. Whereas Russia has declared the dumplings called pelmeni its national dish, Ukraine claimed borscht, the soup with red beet, a national treasure. However, quite a few of the former states of the union serve a variety of this famous soup. The main ingredients are usually red beet and cabbage. In the Ukraine typically it will be served with sour cream, dill, and vinegar. Since I got used to the version from my grandma, who was born in Odessa, Ukraine, it probably comes as no surprise that I will introduce the Ukrainian version here.

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Cute Snowmen Macarons

Awww, these are super cute, aren’t they? Cute little snowmen as macarons. I find it so fitting that it actually snowed during the night, what better time to publish this recipe than today? I published a bucket list on January 1 with 24 ideas of what you may wish to tackle in your baking, myself included. In my opinion French macarons  should definitely be on your baking bucket list. I already have several recipes on my blog. However, what I hadn’t tried so far is to decorate macarons with royal icing. Maybe due to all the gingerbread houses I decorated with royal icing not long ago made me think. You can also decorate French macarons with them, so I decided to make some snowmen. I only decorated the macaron shells on the top with rocal icing. It actually was a lot of fun. I hope these sweeten a cold winter day for you!

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Patatas a la Riojana from the North of Spain

I would like to start off 2024 with a stew from the north of Spain. The two main ingredients are potatoes and chorizo sausage. Normally the stew is seasoned with either the paprika paste called “pimiento choricero” and/or with the smoked paprika powder “pimentón de la vera”. Here in Germany you will find smoked paprika powder, so that is why I went with that. However, feel free to order the “real” ingredients online. I got to learn about this dish in the north of Spain. It comes from the region La Rioja. Quite a few of the relatives of my husband live there. I love this stew in winter, it is hearty, warming, and it is pretty easy to prepare. We are fortunate enough to receive a parcel with chorizo and such every Christmas, so we don’t have to improvise or replace ingredients. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

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Stroopwafels from the Netherlands

Stroopwafels or syrup waffles are exactly what they say, a very thin and crispy waffle that is filled with syrup or, to use the Dutch word, “stroop”, hence the name. Stroopwafels are extremely popular in the Netherlands and are often sold as a Dutch souvenir. Apparently they were invented in 1810 by the baker Gerard Kamphuisen in the city Gouda. In 2023 they were part of the German show “Das große Backen”, which is a German baking competition. Obviously I had to watch the show and immediately thought of these delicious waffles, which I have always liked to eat. Just as a little anecdote: for my wedding a Dutch friend of mine brought along fancy stroopwafles as a wedding gift. However, my soon-to-be parents-in law happily munched them away while staying over in my apartment, blissfully unaware that these were meant as a wedding gift. So soon the stroopwafles had to be replaced. And in order for this not to happen again, I decided to create my own recipe. I tweaked a few I found online and was happy with the result. Below recipe can be made in Germany and uses a lot of common ingredients.

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The National Dish from Russia – Pelmeni

Pelmeni or pelemeni are dumplings from the former Soviet Union. Today they are considered the national dish of Russia and are eaten among a lot of Slavic countries. Traditionally they are filled with meat, I took a mix of beef and pork. My dough contains butter, which makes is easier to work with. We will first “burn” the flour, which may sound a bit crazy, but bear with me, I tell you, even beginners managed to make the most beautiful pelmeni. Pelmeni require a lot of work as they are small and are prepared by hand, often an entire family will sit together and form these. But I promise, they are worth the effort.

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Tomatoe Tart (Tarte Tatin Style)

Tomatoe tart or tarte tatin with tomatoes, pizza margherita with puff pastry dough, I don’t really know how you want to call this beauty, but you will find tomatoes simmered in caramel, baked with the dough on top and then turned upside down. Sprinkle with additional mozzarella, pine nuts and basil, and you can dig into this summery dish. I had the audacity of eating the entire thing in one go, approved of it and therefore decided to put it on the blog.

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Original Burnt Cheesecake from San Sebastian

Today you will get the best cheesecake from San Sebastian from the Basque country in the north of Spain. This tarta de queso is the same recipe as from the restaurant La Viña. It contains five ingredients: cream cheese, eggs, heavy cream, sugar, and a bit of flour. As the cake is baked at high heat (200-210 degrees Celsius), it has a caramelized (or burnt) surface and thus looks a lot like crème brûlée. Inside though it is extra creamy. As all ingredients only need to be mixed, it is pretty fool-proof and thus perfect for beginners. You may enjoy this cake plain or you can serve with some fruits and/or a fruit sauce. Below recipe is similar to the one from the restaurant, I only reduced the amount of sugar. Feel free to increase the amount if you wish to.

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