Cinnamon Pecan Sour Cream Cake

This is one of those warm, gooey, comforting cakes that makes you feel good inside.

In essence, this cinnamon pecan sour cream cake tastes a lot like a cinnamon pecan roll in cake form. Except with a baked crust on top and gooeyness underneath. But, you get the idea.

Having baked this on Valentines Day (Scott has a fondness for all vanilla/pecan type desserts) we then proceeded to eat big hunks of it for the next three days. Yep, I also forgot to mention that its big.

This is supposed to be a cinnamon swirl cake; as in, you mix big blobs of the batter with the pecan cinnamon sugar mixture to create a swirl throughout. But honestly, you do tend to lose a bit of that effect through baking, and it doesnt matter one bit. In actuality, it helps to keep the whole cake moist, because the cinnamon sugar seeps through the yellow cake batter and caramelises.

CINNAMON PECAN SOUR CREAM CAKE
Serves 6
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
FOR THE CINNAMON SUGAR
  1. 2/3 cup (135g) packed brown sugar
  2. 1/2 cup (54g) pecans, finely chopped
  3. 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
FOR THE SOUR CREAM CAKE
  1. 1 1/2 sticks (170g) unsalted butter, softened
  2. 1 1/2 cups (330g) sugar
  3. 3 eggs
  4. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 3 cups (375g) plain flour
  6. 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  7. 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  8. 1/4 tsp salt
  9. 1 1/2 cups (345g) sour cream
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F / 190C. Grease a 22cm springform tin (a large tube/bundt tin would also work).
  2. Combine the sugar, pecans and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy. Then beat in the eggs, one at a time, until a smooth batter has formed. Add the vanilla and stir to combine.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the batter, alternating with spoonfuls of the sour cream, and stir until the all of the flour and sour cream have been added and the batter is smooth.
  5. Spoon half of the batter into the prepared tin. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon/nut mixture over the batter and then spoon the remaining batter over the top of that. Sprinkle the rest of the cinnamon pecan sugar on top and then bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  6. Cool the cake in the tin and then remove and cut into slices. Serve immediately, preferably with some whipped cream or ice cream.
Hungry and Confused http://www.hungryandconfused.com/

A Traditional Turkish Breakfast

If theres one thing I love, its starting the day right with a good, hearty breakfast. Im sure you could already tell that from posts like my Coconut Granola and Sweet Potato Skillet Hash, but when Im in foreign countries, the first meal Im always dying to sample is the breakfast goods.

So I was really pleased to learn that breakfast in Turkey is a filling and delicious affair, not to mention vaguely healthy with the appearance of a few vegetables (I say vaguely healthy because once you see some of the other items of the table, you may not be convinced!)

While staying in Istanbul, we visited a local all-day breakfast cafe twice, because their service was prompt and the food was delicious. Here are some of the traditional Turkish breakfast dishes we sampled.

Bread

Bread may seem like it shouldnt awarded a place on a breakfast list, especially when it isnt the star of the show, but in Turkey, bread is a big deal. It is served with, or baked as, part of every meal as far as I can tell, and a good breakfast cafe will offer several different types. Here we had a white crusty baguette, a wholemeal soft baguette and my favourite a thin, foccacia-type bread topped with seeds and an egg wash. There was always too much for us to finish between us, but once you start using it to mop up the other dishes and eat it with spreads, you quickly start to see the bottom of the basket!

Platter of Cheese, Vegetables and Spreads

At most hotels and hostels in Turkey, you will be served a breakfast buffet or platter consisting of cheese, tomatoes, cucumuber and olives, along with several spreads. In this particular cafe we were given three different types of cheese, boiled eggs, a homemade cherry jam (delicious) and tahini paste, along with a cucumber, dill and yogurt spread.

Kaymak

Kaymak is often jokingly referred to as Turkish crack and you can quickly understand why. Much like with cakes that get similar names, it is because this particular dish is extremely addictive and delciious. Kaymak is basically clotted cream, most always served with honey, and when the two are spread together on soft fresh bread, it is heavenly. If anyone in the UK has eaten a fresh scone with clotted cream and jam, then that will go some way to imagining how delicious this is. The honey is also not like cheap shop-bought honey; it has a texture and blunt sweetness to it unlike any Ive tasted before, which makes it much more delicious. This is a must-eat dish, and it makes it even more naughty that you get to eat it for breakfast!

Menemen

Menemen is basically Turkish scrambled eggs. I actually made a recipe for it myself while in our apartment in Istanbul, which I will share with you all at some point. It is a base of tomatoes and peppers cooked over a high heat, into which eggs are then scrambled. It is much more rich and tomatoey in flavour than, say, Mexican scrambled eggs, and if it is made right, it should have a slight heat from the peppers. 

Baked Turkish Eggs with Sausage

Alongside Menemen on almost every breakfast menu, you will see something resembling fried eggs with sausage, which is basically all that this dish is. The sausage used tastes a lot like Merguez sausage, with a spicy and peppery kick to it. Although delicious, I much prefer Menemen, simply for its depth of flavour.

Gozleme

Gozleme is a savoury pastry which is cooked over a griddle and filled, usually with vegetables, meat or cheese (in this case it was spinach and cheese). It tastes almost like a thick, buttery crepe with a crispy outer coating.

Cajun Chicken Sandwich with Peppers and Garlic Seasoned Fries

This year I have been into burgers in a big way.

A good gourmet burger is something that you can find everywhere in the world, not just the countries you would expect.

In fact, some of the best burgers Ive eaten have been in Malaysia, Thailand and New Zealand.

I always used to be just a chicken burger fan, but since meeting Scott and eating hamburgers in the USA, I can now appreciate a good beef patty as well.

As weve been trying to cut down on the amount of red meat we eat we decided to make our own chicken sandwich with some seasoned fries.

We used ciabatta rolls for the buns and I made my own seasoning concoction for the fries, tossing them in it once they were crispy.

We also purchased some tartare sauce to dip our fries in. This may seem unconventional but in Belgium (where we were when we made this), they love to eat lashings of sauce on their fries, with tartare being one of the most popular.

I definitely earned a new appreciation of tartare sauce on fries and not just fish, and the fresh-made sauce here complemented the dish really well. I even slathered some on the bun before I put the fillings on and then topped with some grated cheese. Delicious.

CAJUN CHICKEN SANDWICH WITH PEPPERS AND GARLIC SEASONED FRIES
Serves 2
A juicy cajun chicken sandwich made with peppers and onions and served with seasoned garlic fries.
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Cook Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
for the chicken sandwich
  1. 250g chicken breast
  2. 2 1/2 tsp cajun seasoning
  3. 1/4 red pepper, cut into strips
  4. 1/4 green pepper, cut into strips
  5. 1/2 onion, cut into strips
  6. 1/2 cup grated cheese
  7. 2 half baked ciabatta rolls
for the fries seasoning
  1. 1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  2. 1/2 tsp paprika
  3. Pinch cinnamon
  4. Good pinch sugar
  5. 1 tsp salt
  6. for the fries
  7. 500g potatoes, sliced
  8. 2 tsp coconut oil
instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
  2. Place sliced potatoes on a baking tray and cover with the coconut oil. Put in the oven for around 20-25 minutes to cook until crispy and slightly browned.
  3. Meanwhile, put a splash of oil into a frying pan and cook the peppers and onion with 1/2 tsp of cajun seasoning.
  4. At the same time, take the chicken breasts and coat them in 2 tsp of cajun seasoning. Cook in a second pan with a small splash of oil until browned.
  5. While the fries, meat and veggies are cooking, make the seasoning for the fries. Combine all of the spices, salt and sugar in a small bowl and stir well to combine.
  6. Cook the ciabatta rolls according to the packet instructions and then slice and with the chicken breasts, onions and peppers and the grated cheese (divided between the two).
  7. Sprinkle the seasoning over the fries (using all or less of the seasoning according to taste) and then toss the fries to coat them.
  8. Serve the fries and sandwich with your favourite dipping sauce.
Hungry and Confused http://www.hungryandconfused.com/

Whole Wheat Sun-Dried Tomato and Zucchini Bread

Sometimes, I get an idea in my head and it cant be shaken. I crave a specific thing and then I just HAVE to go to the store and get the ingredients.

Often, by the time Ive pushed around the shops, bought the ingredients and sweated over the oven, my enthusiasm has waned slightly.

Not this time.

This time, I had to make some zucchini bread. Actually Ill say this right now I feel weird calling it zucchini at all. To me, it will always be called a courgette. Sorry, America, thats just how us Englishers roll.

But, for some reason, when it comes to the savoury bread kind, zucchini just seems to fit perfectly. And I think I may be weirded out if I went into a Starbucks and saw something called Courgette Bread. It just sounds.wrong.

This recipe is very simple and totally delicious, especially when eaten still warm so that the butter melts on it.

Youre going to want to grate your zucchini first and try and drain as much of the moisture out of it as you can, either by leaving it to sit in a colander or by placing it on kitchen paper and patting it dry.

Then, in a separate bowl, combine the eggs, oil and milk.

Stir in the dry ingredients and combine and then add the zucchini, cheese and sundried tomatoes.

Pour the batter into a loaf tin and then sit back and marvel in the fact that for once, you managed to fulfill a craving without too much hassle.

When it comes out of the oven, it may look too pretty to eat, but try and choke it down as an accompaniment to breakfast/brunch or even with soup or a salad at lunchtime.

WHOLE WHEAT ZUCCHINI BREAD WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES
Serves 8
A deliciously healthy zucchini bread which can be eaten plain with butter or as an accompaniment to soups and salads.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup grated unpeeled zucchini
  2. 1tsp salt
  3. 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  4. 1 tbsp baking powder
  5. Freshly ground pepper
  6. 2 eggs, beaten
  7. 1/4 cup olive oil
  8. 1/2 cup light milk
  9. 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  10. 4 sundried tomatoes (from a jar), chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and grease a loaf tin with butter or cooking spray.
  2. Grate the zucchini into a bowl and add the salt. Transfer to a colander to drain or place on a couple of sheets of kitchen towel and pat to remove excess liquid.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk and oil. Add the flour, baking powder and a good shake of pepper. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the zucchini, cheese and sun dried tomatoes to the bowl and combine until all of the ingredients are well-mixed.
  5. Spoon the batter into the loaf tin and smooth to even the mixture to every corner.
  6. Bake for around 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  7. Let cool for a couple of minutes in the tin and then turn out onto a cooling rack until ready to serve.
Hungry and Confused http://www.hungryandconfused.com/

Food Hits and Misses

Ive been on a great streak here in Amsterdam eating some delicious food (both homemade and eaten out), which isnt always easy to say when youre travelling and buying unknown ingredients or eating at new restaurants/food stalls all the time.

But, as with everything, there have been some definite highs and some definite lows. Here are my hits and misses in the food world from this last week.

 

Hit Tonys Chocolonely

To say that I was excited to return to Amsterdam just to eat this chocolate again would be an understatement. To date, Ive only ever seen it in Amsterdam supermarkets, but after a year of eating sub-par chocolate or overly-sweet Milka bars, I was craving some good milk chocolate. 

In stepped chunky, milky and delicious Tony last November.

This time around, we also tried the milk chocolate hazelnut version and its just as good.  I just wish Tony made a white chocolate. That would make me so happy.

 

Hit Sweet Potato Veggie Fajitas 

These were just a random weeknight dinner when we couldnt decide what else to eat.

We have been flirting with eating more vegetarian meals for a while (especially after watching several food-based documentaries and Food, Inc.) and weve been doing really well with this so far in Amsterdam. Id say around 60% of our meals have been vegetarian.

I was a bit skeptical about added sweet potato to fajitas as I didnt want them to go soggy, but I baked them in the oven first with a little oil and then added them to the pan with the other vegetables and seasoning as usual. 

They were delicious, and even though the bowl of veggies was huge, we managed to polish it off with ease, as you can see. You can never eat too many veggies, right? Right??

 

Miss Santa Maria Organic Multigrain Tortillas

I guess this will teach us for trying to be healthy.

The second time we made the veggie fajitas, we decided to visit the health food store for our tortillas instead of using the usual white flour stores own brand ones.

What a mistake.

When I pulled them out of the packet, they were all stuck together and one was even folded in half. When we tried to pull them apart, they ripped and fell to pieces. We couldnt have made fajitas out of them if we tried.

I was a bit panicked as by this point, our veggies were already cooked and ready, so we didnt have time to run to the store for some more. Luckily for us, there was a spare pack of big flour tortillas in the cupboard, so we used those instead.

Im really not sure whether it was the brand recipe that had caused this or some factor in the store, but either way it was a mess.

Needless to say we returned the tortillas to the store the next day and got our money back. Not sure theyd ever had tourists bringing back shreds of tortillas before. Theres always a first time for everythingincluding embarrassing yourself.

Hit Hummus Pasta

My love for hummus is pretty much like my love for guacamole. In that, it is undying.

I used to eat hummus for lunch almost every day when I worked in an office. True story. My workmates must have loved the fact I stunk of garlic all day long. Yum.

When I saw on Janethas blog that she had stumbled upon a recipe for hummus as a pasta sauce, I had to give it a try.

I had a difficult time convincing Scott of this dish Scott, who never used to like hummus, has now (after spending two years with me) become not only a hummus lover but also a hummus snob. 

It was one of the most delicious and surprising discoveries Ive ever made. It tastes like a healthy alfredo sauce. I kid you not.

We added pesto, hummus, lemon juice, parmesan and some sundried tomatoes to the pasta and it was divine. Its definitely going to become one of our quick and easy go-to hostel kitchen meals.

 

Miss When Metric Portions Go Wrong

One thing that annoys the hell out of me is the different measuring systems between the US and Europe. 

The US uses cups and sticks of butter in its recipes whereas in Europe we use measured grams by weight. This has caused problems for me on numerous occasions, especially when trying to replicate my favourite English recipes in the US and vice versa.

But the biggest issue I have is trying to figure out the amount of butter I should use in recipes. And thus, this week, while trying to cook my Whole Wheat Cheesy Jalapeno Breakfast Scones in Europe, using a recipe I formulated while in Mexico (using US measurements), this happened..

Yep. Whole wheat cheesy jalapeno breakfast cookies. Bleh.

Waaayyy too much butter in those bad boys.

I dont know what it is, but I just cant get this damn butter thing right.

Please World, for me, just all stick to one measuring system? Please??

P.s. I have just realised the irony of the fact that Mickey Mouse is saying yikes! on the tea towel underneath the doomed cookies. Sometimes, you just cant make this stuff up.

 

Have you had any food hits and misses this week? Id love to hear about them!