Posts tagged cooking
How To Make Infused Sugars: Chai, Vanilla + Lavender
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Hello everyone and happy September! I hope you all had a wonderful summer full of lots of fun memories. Every year my husbands family has a huge baking weekend to make Christmas cookies, (which isn’t until December obviously), but we have started to make our own vanilla sugar months in advance to ensure it is well infused for our favorite vanilla crescent cookies. (My husbands family background is Czech so I am sure there are a few of your out there who make Vanilkové Rohlíčky over the holidays!). Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

So it is time, and we have made a big batch of vanilla sugar for the holidays. We also whipped up a batch of chai infused sugar and lavender sugar to add to our favorite baked goods over the coming months. They make for wonderful DIY gifts if that is your thing. Those foodies in your life are sure to appreciative!

Each recipe makes a cup of sugar, and you can either make a big batch now and store it for a couple of months then divide into little jars for gifts closer to the gift giving season. Or add straight into the jars you intend to give. (Which ever you have space for storing I guess!). Any of the recipes can be divided up once the flavors have been added. If you intend to split up the vanilla sugar, just divide the bean up into 3 parts and add the seeds and pod to the sugar. I would stick to 3 small jars for each bean so as to get maximum infusion!

You can totally eat the lavender buds, but I would remove the chai spices before adding the sugar to any treats. I like to keep the chai spices mostly whole so they are easy to remove before using. You can however use a mortar and pestle to break the spices up if you wish. Time to start collecting jars!

Chai Sugar Ingredients 1 cinnamon stick ¼ teaspoon whole cloves 4 teaspoons cardamom pods 4 whole star anise 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 cup granulated sugar

Directions: Chai Sugar Gently crush or break the cinnamon stick into half. Add the cinnamon pieces, cloves, cardamom pods, star anise and ginger to the sugar. Stir and store in an airtight container for a few weeks. Remove spices before adding to your favorite cookie recipe.

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

Lavender Sugar Ingredients 1 tablespoon culinary lavender 1 cup granulated sugar

Directions: Lavender Sugar Add the lavender to the sugar and stir through. Put into an airtight jar and shake. Store for a couple of weeks up to a couple of months. For finer sugar and lavender buds, you can pulse the mixture in a food processor. Add to your favorite cookie recipe for a floral palate.

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

Vanilla Sugar Ingredients 1 vanilla bean 1 cup granulated sugar

Directions: Vanilla Sugar Slice the vanilla bean lengthways and remove the seeds. Stir the seeds through the sugar. Store in an airtight jar with the vanilla pod for a few weeks or until ready to use. For finer sugar, you can pulse the mixture in a food processor. Add to any baking recipe or holiday cookies (or your coffee or tea!).

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

Rachel Korinek | Two Loves Studio

What’s your favorite infused sugar flavor? - Rachel

TIP FROM HOLLY: These also make for great party gifts for your guests to put near each plate on the table with a little tag with the guest's name on it - they can take it home and it serves as a seating card.

(Photography, Styling, Recipes and Text: Two Loves Studio)

Trends: Creative Cooking + Food Trucks

A few years ago I spotted a micro "foodie" trend in Germany and today it's slowly starting to take off - food trucks! Today I have a book to share with you all about them and where you can find the best ones in the country. As an American, food trucks are as common to me as the corner coffee shop and went from trend to a staple in mainstream American culture many years ago. It never dawned on me when I moved to Germany that, outside of festivals and Christmas markets, food trucks run by creative cooks were not common at farmers' markets and rare sights in cities. The food trucks at events were (and largely still are) very typical serving beer, bratwurst, pommes and the typical German festival foods which are great but offer little to those longing for a culinary adventure. FoodTruck2

Germany is slowly but surely becoming a big foodie culture, especially among young people with the over 35 crowd also catching on. I'm starting to see food trucks pop up in my city and even the typical fests with the typical foods are slowly starting to change with new foods being offered that cater to vegans and others who are just looking to have their tastebuds tickled. That's why I was so excited when my contact at Prestel, a German book publisher, sent me a copy of their newest book called Food Trucks highlighting some of the best of Germany. I think they'll need to do several follow-ups very soon, because we have some great food trucks popping up in Hannover and I hope many more. These mobile kitchens offer a chance for locals to meet cooks, experience the process, meet people, explore different recipes and venture outside of the typical ingredients and the more traditional foods.

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In Hannover, we have a food truck called Food Lovers with a couple who have grandchildren running it - she is Japanese and he is Jewish. Together, they fuse their two cultures into their recipes (I snapped a photo on IG here). Each week when I visit, they offer me something new they've just experimented with. Last week it was a new rice pilaf and the week before, a seaweed-flavored salad made only with carrots! Food trucks offer a wonderful way for cooks to do what they love without the overhead and the sheer time commitment of running a restaurant full-time. They also make for great test kitchens for exploring new recipes. Another food truck we have that I love is called Soup Sisters. In fact, their truck has become so popular that they have opened a brick-and-mortar cafe downtown with two more in the work.

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On of the sad things about Hannover is our decision-makers over at city hall are not innovative or fresh and are seriously boring. They sink a lot of money into things that are standard and cater to their age group (50+) but little goes to the rest of us, and not into fresh new ideas. For instance, they make it very hard for food trucks to obtain licensing and have a bunch of guidelines that really hold back a lot of people from starting their own food truck business here. I hope that this changes because, as this book clearly shows, the food truck culture in other cities (especially Berlin where I will be traveling to next week with a blog post about my finds), is growing and will quickly leave Hannover in the dust yet there is so much potential in our city as our creative scene is starting to really expand and experiment with new things.

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I really like the Food Trucks book because it shows some of the best food trucks currently in Germany with a bio of each along with plenty of mouth-watering photos. It's great to have a book like this in Germany because it sheds light on the food truck industry in general because so many people living here aren't really in tune with this culture of meals on wheels. I also like seeing the trucks bustling with people and conversation throughout the book, it makes me long to be a part of the atmosphere since I find it so inspirational to be around people who love what they are cooking and eating, and sharing meals together. One of my great passions is to come together with those I love to share food, wine and laughter in a relaxed casual environment sans attitude and overly decorated tabletops.

By the way, did you watch the film Chef? It's great, I highly suggest it!

If you would like a copy of this book, it's only available in German but it is available on Amazon.de or any good book store in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

(images: Book cover on table: Holly Becker, all others: Toby Binder, Henning Kreitel, Birgit von Bally, Richard Pflaume)