Rum-Soaked Golden Raisin and Walnut Knots

Viviana's Kitchen

Last month I spent a solid, good two consecutive weeks being Chef Viviana, plumping myself and my family up with sugary carb foods like what I’m about to share today, and enjoying the start of a new year in a relatively relaxed environment, on the precipice of starting Marie Kondo’s decluttering KonMari method in my life – which, by the way, is going somewhat slowly, and my room currently looks like a tornado blew through it.

PHEW. What a mouthful. ANYWAY – I’ve been following Thida Bevington on Instagram for a while, and her feed is a dessert lover’s dream, to be honest. In January I decide THAT’S IT. Her Nutella knots were so aesthetically pleasing, I thought to myself, I need to exercise my creativity one way or another, why not through something my mouth can enjoy?

I tried the knots with Nutella first, but I find that it sort of…evaporates? in the baking process. I did a couple more batches afterwards with my signature walnut-almond and rum-soaked white raisins, which I enjoyed much more.

Enjoy the recipes below:

Sweet Dough

250g milk
60g butter
500g white flour
120g sugar
15g fast action dry yeast
1 egg
10g salt

Walnut-Raisin mixture

3/4 to 1 cup golden raisins
1-2 cups walnuts, ground
1/2 cup almonds, ground
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup rum, cognac, or whiskey
water
A blender, but if you don’t have one you can smash them up in a bag with a kitchen hammer

Instructions

For the dough:
1. Warm the milk and butter to about body temperature, should feel lukewarm.
2. Place the flour, sugar, and yeast in a bowl (I use a stand mixer) and mix together.
3. Add milk and butter, egg, and salt and mix with a dough hook for 2 minute on low.
4. Increase speed and mix for another 5-6 mins, until well incorporated.
5. Lightly knead dough on a floured surface and form a ball. Place in a clean bowl and let rise in warm environment for 2 hours, it should double in size.

For the walnut mixture:
1. In a small bowl, soak your raisins in your choice of liquor (I use rum), while the dough is rising. I usually start this process before anything else, and you can even do it overnight.
2. Grind your walnut and almonds to a fine texture until you have about 4 cups worth.
3. Heat your honey in a small pot until it just start to bubble then add honey and raisins (with the liquor) to your nuts.
4. Add water by the tablespoon as needed if mixture is too dry.

How to put it all together:
1. On a well floured surface, roll out your dough into a big rectangle, something around the size of two baking pans, but make sure it’s not so thin it rips.
2. Spread half your nut mixture evenly on the middle third of your dough canvas, then fold over one third of your dough, and spread the remaining mixture on top of that, then fold the last third on top of that.
3. Gently roll out your dough until it is flatter, then cut it long ways into 8 strips.
4. Knot them up to your liking and in the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 355F.
5. Lightly beat 1 egg and egg wash your rolls before popping them in the oven for roughly 30-40 mins, or until they’re golden brown.

Please visit Thida’s Instagram for tutorials and visual step-by-steps of everything I’ve just written!

You can also follow me on Instagram riiiiiight here.

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Romanian Style Crepes

Viviana's Kitchen

I am so excited to share this recipe with you all.

I was visiting my aunt a couple weeks ago and happened to stop by while she was preparing to make Romanian crepes – or as we call them, Clatite. So I asked her to explain her process as to how she makes them, and surprisingly, it’s pretty easy. The thing is, it’s not a set recipe, so I’m going to try to translate it into one as best as I can.

Her style of making crepes is delicious and I personally view it as one of her specialties, so I was geeked to try it out on my own. Below, I have a recipe that should yield roughly 16 crepes. Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 cups flour
2-3 eggs
a good pinch of salt
1 tbsp sugar
milk
mineral water
rum extract/essence of rum
a small bowl with oil and a silicon brush
filling of choice (we like prune or rosehip jam)

Directions

  1. In a bowl, combine flour, eggs, salt, sugar, rum extract, and milk until blended together well. Add the milk slowly so you can build a batter.
  2. Once you’ve got a mixture that’s a little on the thicker side, slowly add mineral water to the mixture until the consistency becomes almost soupy. You don’t want it too thin, but you don’t want it so thick that you can’t swivel the mixture around in the pan to coat it.
  3. Add rum extract to taste. My aunt dumped like a good 2 or 3 TABLESPOONS in there, but probably a solid 1 to 1.5 teaspoons should be good.
  4. Heat up a large skillet on high heat. Before putting in your batter, brush the skillet using a silicon brush with some oil to ensure your crepe doesn’t stick.
  5. Pour a large ladle-full of batter in the center of your skillet and take the skillet off the stove while you swivel it to ensure the batter coats the whole bottom of the skillet.
  6. Using a long knife, (you can use a spatula, but a knife works better Рand if you have a particularly flexible knife, use that) flip your crepe after roughly 30 seconds or  until the batter is no longer wet and cook for another ~30 seconds or so.

Tips:

  • If you’re having trouble swiveling the batter, your batter may be too thick. Add more mineral water or milk.
  • If you’re having trouble with your crepes breaking after the first couple (flipping them with a knife does take some practice) your batter may be too runny and you should add a little more flour to thicken it up.
  • In our family, and even traditionally in Romania, we like to roll up our crepes with prune jam or rosehip jam, but you can eat them however you please.

Lemon Poppyseed Tiramisu

Viviana's Kitchen

I’m a huge fan of anything lemon flavored, and after making two tiramisus around Christmas/New Years, I had a brilliant idea – how about I alter the recipe and make a lemon tiramisu instead?

I finally did a couple days ago after work.

It’s pretty simple, as you really only need to change a few things:

  • I used lemon liquer instead of brandy/cognac.
  • I dipped the lady fingers in a slightly sweetened lemon juice & water mix instead of coffee.
  • I topped the tiramisu with poppy seeds instead of cocoa powder.
  • I added in fresh grated lemon rind from a whole lemon to the cream.

The result is absolutely delicious. I squeezed fresh lemon juice on top of my individual slice to give it more of a sour kick and it’s seriously so good.

Here’s the original recipe for those of you who are interested.

Ingredients

6 eggs, separated
~6 cups coffee, cooled
16 oz mascarpone cheese
1 cup sugar (I usually use 3/4)
1/4-1/3 cognac or brandy
1 package lady fingers
cocoa powder for dusting

Directions

  1. Combine 6 egg yolks, 2 tbsp coffee, sugar, and cognac into large bowl and beat 3 minutes.
  2. Add Mascarpone cheese and beat 5 minutes until smooth.
  3. In another bowl, combine 6 egg whites and 1/4 teaspoon sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form (and you can turn the bowl upside down and it won’t fall out).
  4. Gently fold into the Mascarpone mixture.
  5. Quickly dip lady fingers into coffee and lay out into a baking dish. Pour half the mixture over, and repeat the steps.
  6. Dust with cocoa powder and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.

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Strawberry Crumble – Perfect for Valentine’s Day

Viviana's Kitchen

I have this tendency to buy delicious fruits and vegetables and then after a few meals, forget about them. Case in point: strawberries. I bought 2 boxes cause they were on sale and looked good and kinda forgot about them.

So today I wanted to make a pie, but my pie crusts disappeared. Thankfully, I’m a smart cookie and I searched foodgawker for other recipes and found this one: Strawberry Crumble Cake.

I didn’t have any almonds (or rather, did not know we had any buried in our freezer) so I substituted the almond part with coconut flakes. I also didn’t have any barley flour so I just added another 1/2 cup of all purpose flour. Furthermore, because I always do this to any recipe, I lessened the sugar amounts from 1/4 cup to just under, and then 1/4 instead of 1/3. All in all, it turned out deliciously and it was easy to make once I figured out what to sub the almonds with.

This is a great recipe to try out for Valentine’s Day!

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