Cheesy Potato Puffs

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

If you're a cheese, potatoes or eggs type of girl, you'll surely get hooked on those cheesy potato puffs. For starters, they are super clever since they take little time so make but they come out of the oven looking all fancy like little irresistible French soufflés. Balazs and I usually eat them just like that, but you can have them as a side dish to any dinner meal you want. They go perfectly with roast and as my friend once told me, soufflés are God's gift to the dinner party cook, so if you fancy impressing someone special, make them the next time they come over for dinner. You will surely win some brownie points that night:)

Here is the recipe:
 
Cheesy potato puffs
(Makes 6 pieces. Recipe adapted from Gregg Wallace)

- 1oz butter, plus extra for greasing
- 1lb new potatoes, cut into chunks
- 4 spring onions, finely sliced
- 2oz mature cheddar, finely grated
- 2 tbsp. milk
- a dash of freshly grated nutmeg
- salt & pepper
- 2 eggs, separated

Pre-heat your oven to 425 F, grease a six-hole muffin tin with butter including the area between the holes. Put potatoes in a saucepan, cover with salted water and bring it to boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until they are very soft but not breaking up. When they are ready, drain well and return to the pan. Next, mash. After they are mashed, mix in the onions and the cheese. Let it rest for a minute. In the meantime, melt the butter and the milk together in a little saucepan. When ready, stir it into the spuds. Next, season the whole mix well with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg and beat in the egg yolks. Let the mixture rest for a minute while you whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl to form soft peaks, then gently fold into the potato mixture. When ready, spoon the mixture into the muffin tin and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until well risen and golden brown. Ta-dah!

P.S: Fancy more cheesy delights? How about this bloomin' gooey cheese bread or this green goddess grilled cheese sandwich?
P.P.S: Plus, those goat cheese grape balls and a bit of cheese with a coffee twist.

(Photos by exPress-o. Layout by Ana Degenaar - Blog Milk for exPress-o. Thank you Ana for your help with this series).

*Darlings, the comments are switched off for this week since I'm in Malta. But if you want to drop me a little hello, you can always reach me via email - diana@expressoblog.onmicrosoft.com :)

Bagels...Bagels...Bagels...

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Yesterday was all about a British food staple, so it's only fair that today will be about the American classic that are bagels. For a couple of years I've been thinking about making homemade bagels but since the ones you can get around the city are so good, I was a bit intimidated and worried that mine wouldn't come out just right. Having said that, when a few weeks ago, I spotted Peter Reinhart's original recipe, I knew I have to take the plunge. Oh boy, I am so glad I did because there is nothing more satisfying than creating a classic in your own kitchen. They came out scrumptious.

I feel about them the same way as I felt about making French croissants. There is a whole lot of poetry to it. You can't skip a step. It teaches you patience and puts you in that wonderful state of relaxed alertness. Warning: you'll never stop making them if you try them, they are that addictive.

So if you ever doubted yourself that you can make fantastic bagels at home, think again. You can totally do it and they won't be just any bagels, they will be really amazing bagels! As Tim said, believe in the hype and make bagels:)

Bagels, bagels, bagels:)

Bagels - Makes 6 bagels
(Original recipe by Peter Reinhart's recipe, adapted by TheWednesdayChef. A few tips via Tim, Lottie + Doof)
 
- 3 1/2 cups (1 pound) bread flour (but all-purpose should work too)
- 3 teaspoons salt, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
 
Optional toppings:
- Poppy seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Cheese, grated
- Cinamon sugar
 
1. By hand, mix the flour, 2 teaspoons salt, the yeast, honey and the water until the ingredients form a stiff, coarse ball of dough (about 3 minutes). If necessary, add a little more water.
 
2. Knead the dough by hand on a lightly floured surface until the dough feels stiff yet supple, with a satiny, slightly tacky feel, 2 to 3 minutes. If the dough seems too soft or too tacky, sprinkle over just enough flour as needed.
 
3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to several hours.The longer the better, keeping in mind that the bagels must be shaped before proofing overnight.
 
4. It's a good idea to leave them for up to 5-7 hours in the fridge and when you are ready to shape the bagels, line a baking sheet with lightly greased parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it into 6 equal pieces following the layout above.

- Form each piece into a loose, round ball by rolling it on a clean, dry work surface with a cupped hand; do not use any flour on the surface. If the dough slides around and won't ball up, wipe the work surface with a damp paper towel and try again - the slight amount of moisture will provide enough "bite" for the dough to form a ball. When each piece has been formed into a ball, you are ready to shape the bagels.

- Using your hands and a fair amount of pressure, roll each dough ball into a "rope" or a "snake" 8 to 10 inches long. (Moisten the work surface with a damp paper towel, if necessary, to get the necessary bite or friction). Slightly taper the rope at the ends so that they are thinner than the middle.

- Wrap both ends of the rope together in a way that you leave a 2-inch hole in the middle and that the ends overlap by about 2 inches too. Squeeze the overlapping ends firmly together and then continue "pinching" and moulding them together until they blend like on the photo above. Take your time!
 
6. Place the bagel on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the other pieces. Lightly wipe the bagels with oil, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
 
7. Next morning, remove the bagels from the refrigerator 90 minutes before you plan to bake them. Start your stopwatch. Fill a large stockpot with 3 quarts of water (be sure the water is at least 4 inches deep), cover with a lid, and slowly bring the water to a boil. When it comes to a boil, add the remaining teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda, reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on.
 
8. Thirty minutes before baking, heat the oven to 500 degrees.
 
9. Test the bagels by placing one in a bowl of cold water. If it sinks and doesn't float to the surface, return it to the sheet, wait 15 minutes and then test it again. When one bagel passes the float test, they are ready for the pot. But, if your bagels refuse to float by the second try, it's not a worry. Just move to the next step. They will end up equally scrumptious.
 
10. Next, gently lift each bagel and drop it into the simmering water. Add as many as will comfortably fit in the pot. After 1 minute and when they float up, use a slotted spoon to flip each bagel over. Poach for an extra 30 seconds. Using the slotted spoon, remove each bagel and return it to the lined baking sheet. Continue until all the bagels have been poached. Now you have an option to leave the bagles without a topping or you can also generously sprinkle each bagel with a topping of your choice.

(Note: If using cinnamon sugar (1 part cinnamon to 5 parts granulated sugar), immediately brush the top of each hot bagel with melted butter and then generously sprinkle with the mixture so that it is coated. It will form a nice cinnamon crust as it cools. Also, if using cheese,  spread it only 2 minutes before the end of the baking time, so it can melt into the bagel without burning).
 
11. Place the baking sheet in the oven and reduce the heat to 450 degrees. Bake for 8 minutes and then rotate the sheet (if using two sheets, also switch their positions). Check the underside of the bagels. If they are getting too dark, place another sheet under the baking sheet. Bake until the bagels are golden brown, an additional 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the bagels to a rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Ta-dah!

(Photos by exPress-o. Layout by Ana Degenaar - Blog Milk for exPress-o. Thank you Ana for your help with this series).

*Darlings, the comments are switched off for this week since I'm in Malta. But if you want to drop me a little hello, you can always reach me via email - diana@expressoblog.onmicrosoft.com :)

Homemade Strawberry Scones

Monday, July 29, 2013

Darlings, tons of kisses from Malta! As I promised last Thursday, I have a scrumptious week planned for you. So let's kick it off with the cream of all teas, the mind-blowingly delicious strawberry scones. Sounds good? Plus, it's the only right thing to do after the wonderful Royal baby news last week:)

It's a funny thing, but whenever I think of scones, my mom always pops to my mind since they are truly the easiest English teatime treats. Brits really know their scones so there is no messing about:). The general rules to scone-perfection are: they have to be moist, soft and tender. Those you see above taste best straight out of the oven but they can easily last for up to 3 days on your kitchen counter as well.

Tip: you can substitute the strawberries with any other fruits you like. Our favourites beside strawberries are blueberries, apricots or raspberries. Balazs and I love topping them up with a bit of jam for that extra sweetness kick and a cup of good English tea with milk:)

So, if you're feeling scone-y, have a go! Enjoy!

Strawberry Scones
(Makes 4 big or 8 smaller scones. Recipe inspired by The Breslin scones by Laura Smith & Ratliff)

- 1 c. strawberries, sliced
- 5 tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 6 tbsp. butter, cubed and slightly softened, plus 3 tbsp. melted butter
- 3/4 c. whole milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Sprinkle the strawberries with 2 tsp. of sugar and set aside. Next, mix 3 tbsp. sugar with flour, baking powder and salt. Add the cubed butter, using your hands to blend until all of the butter is mixed in with just a few clumps. Stir in the fruit. In a separate bowl, mix the melted butter together with the whole milk, stirring to incorporate. Then add to the flour mixture all at once. Use a spatula to stir the dough until it holds together, adding more flour by the tablespoon if the dough seems too wet. It should be a little shaggy. Next, place your dough on a floured surface and knead for about 2 minutes. If it’s too sticky, sprinkle with some flour. Be careful not to break up the berries too much. When you're finished with kneading, pat the dough into a circle 3/4″ thick. Cut circle into however many scones you want, anywhere between 4 to even 8 pieces but you could easily make more or less. Place your scones in an oven for about 12-15 minutes or until the tops are beginning to brown. Ta-dah!

P.S: Also, a genius little trick to hulling strawberries with a straw, and a yummy and super easy-peasy cheese scones.
P.P.S: Plus, this strawberry wildflower cake, that brie, dark chocolate and strawberry sandwich and the scrumptious cheesecake stuffed strawberries.

(Photos by exPress-o. Layout by Ana Degenaar - Blog Milk for exPress-o. Thank you Ana for your help with this series).

*Darlings, the comments are switched off for this week since I'm in Malta. But if you want to drop me a little hello, you can always reach me via email - diana@expressoblog.onmicrosoft.com :)

Bon Voyage (+ fun links)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Darlings, Balazs and I are starting the weekend a bit earlier since we are off to Malta for a week of beach laziness and then a quick visit to London to spend an extra few days with my mom and our family. I'm writing this post from Frankfurt where we are having a little stop over and getting hooked on Bavarian pretzels. 

I can't wait to take tons of photos and share them all after we are back. I have a few scrumptious posts scheduled for you for next week, so please stop by to check them out.  I will also pop by for a quick hello if I have a chance. But in the meantime here are a few fun links to start off your weekend on a dreamy note. Enjoy!

Souls...

Traveling together.

Have you ever had grilled pineapple? It looks delicious!

Fancy eating healthy on vacation? Here is a simple solution.

This is 50! (I am hooked).

Fancy a bit of summer glow?

Fascinating and oh-so beautiful.

Would you fancy wearing a belly ring or a cartilage earring like this one? Fresh Trends have some awesome body jewelry.

How to apply blush so it looks natural.

Do you have a girl crush?

Night summer walks are one of my favourite things to do.

5 essential beauty products for travel.

Olivia recently went to Iceland aka my dream place to visit!

Have you ever tried strawberry bruschetta?

Plus, if you fancy more, please feel free to browse back through exPress-o. Maybe you’ll discover a post or two that you missed previously. Like those Brooklyn stairs, this Sydney ocean pool and the mind-blowingly-stunning sky. Or maybe you just want to treat yourself to a bit of dolce far niente this weekend?

And if you fancy a bit of chit-chat while I am away,  join me on Twitter. xo

(Photo of Malta via Lorraine Mock)

*Darlings, the comments are switched off for the next few days since I'm in Malta. But if you want to drop me a little hello, you can always reach me via email - diana@expressoblog.onmicrosoft.com :)

Mid-Week Gems

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Oh boy, I can totally imagine how wonderfully breezy this peach and cream maxi skirt must feel on a hot summer day. Don't you just love the two tone mix?...

Have you ever used solid perfume? This one is simply irresistible...

Picnic print? Oh yes!...

And speaking of picnics, those dotty shorts totally tickle my fancy...

And while we are on dots, I just received those bright pajama bottoms as an early birthday gift. I love them!...

The perfect one piece. I'm totally smitten with the understated snazziness of this suit. You?...

Remember when we talked about summer tea towels? Well, those 4 would be perfect too. My favourite is this one, yours?...

Aww...this card makes my heart skip a beat...The perfect summer card! (Psst: check out what's written inside)...

California bear ring = adorable!...

How about this beautiful walnut serving board? Perfect for those late night cheese and wine evenings...

Oh yes, tie dye never looked better + I am swooning over the A-line cut of this little summer dress...

It truly doesn't get any better than a zebra tote, does it?...

Ha, this necklace would make any origami lover super happy. What a gem!...

Oh lilacs, you are so beautiful!...

Darlings, let's have some mid-week gems, what do you say? Did anything caught your eye? Any great finds or buys? xo

P.S: Fancy more gems?

Too-lateness


Lately I've been thinking about the world. It moves so fast that many of us can't even keep up and we always feel like we are behind and trying to catch up. People get anxious and stressed that they haven't achieved enough by the time they are 30 or 40, can't comply with the 'general norm'. And by setting our eyes on future goals, future happiness, our overall fulfilment and the path we need to take to achieve it, we compromise our today. We don't allow ourselves to do things on our own time because we just simply don't want to be too late to catch our chance in life. But this way we will always miss today...

So here is a quote that I spotted a few days ago and it might just save the to-day in us:

'Too-lateness, I realized, has nothing to do with age. It's a relation of self to the moment. Or not, depending on the person and the moment. Perhaps there even comes a time when it's no longer too late for anything. Perhaps, even, most times are too early for most things, and most of life has to go by before it's time for almost anything and too late for almost nothing. Nothing to lose, the present moment to gain, the integration with long-delayed Now.'

It's from Russell Hoban's novel entitled Turtle Diary. Have you read it? Thoughts? xo

P.S: Here is more on being fully present in the moment.
P.P.S: And the one piece of advice you wish you'd been given.

(Photos via A Well Traveled Woman, quote via even*cleveland)

Simple Scrumptious Food: Grilled Feta



Sometimes the simplest of meals end up being the ones Balazs and I talk about for ages. Does that happen to you too? Ever since last weekend, when we made this grilled feta tomato plate we both keep on thinking about it. It's a wonderful combination of olive oil and honey grilled feta with fresh chives, a dash of oregano and mint placed on top of pre-sliced juicy tomatoes. The flavours are so beautiful that you don't really need anything else for it, just some fresh baguettes. That is it - the perfect fresh and raw meal for a hot summer day! Have you ever had grilled feta? It’s scrumptious.

Fun fact: I just read that you shouldn’t store tomatoes in the fridge. They are juicer and more flavourful if they are stored on the kitchen counter. Ha!

P.S: Plus, this sandwich and this bread. Yum!
P.P.S: Fancy an omelette?

(via Fox in the Pine via Lily. Photos by Suvi Sur Le Vif)

Hello Little Prince

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

This Tuesday wouldn't be complete without a little mention of this little guy:) Huge congrats to Kate and William and hello to the little prince. Supposedly they haven't chosen the name yet but for me, he looks like James. What do you think? xo

P.S: More photos of them leaving the hospital earlier today, here.
P.P.S: Diana.

(Photos by Hello Magazine)

Seaside Uniform


Eek, we are flying to Malta this week so last night I started to pack. Since we will be spending over a week by the seaside - just relaxing, sunbathing and eating fresh Mediterranean food - I'm planning to take full advantage of my go-to vacation uniform. So, here are eight of my seaside essentials that include an easy-breezy and flowy tee, comfy shorts and sandals that show off my red painted toes that I had done this morning :) Can't wait!

1. Salt-Water sandals in yellow - very summery!
2. Slouch cut-off shorts by Steven Alan since they are the comfiest of them all. (Those are cute too).
3. A tiny leaf ring from Scarlett Jewelry as a sweet little accent to the look. Minimalistic jewelry goes oh-so well with understated style.
4. A simple tee by Madewell. (Did you know that white and cream tees look amazing with a sun kissed skin?).
5. All natural sunscreen from Soléo Organics to keep your skin safe all vacation long.
6. Peppermint oil by Aveda to invigorate and refresh tired and stressed skin in the first few days and especially after a long flight. I usually massage in a drop or two behind earlobes and inside my elbows. It works wonders and it smells beautifully.
7. Mulberry studs by Edor for that extra pop of summer colour. A great everyday piece.
8. A sassy little bra in the most swoonworthy colour by Journelle. It feels like a feather when you wear it. So light and so wonderfully sassy. Plus it makes me feel sexy:)

I'm curious what is your seaside uniform of choice? Would you wear the one above?  xo

P.S: Travelling solo?
P.P.S: Plus, off season holiday!

(Top photo via A Well Traveled Woman. Layout by exPress-o)

Summer Scarf Turban


Even though most hair scarves make me look like a 5-year-old, I can't stop lusting over them and when I spotted Brenda's classic and easy turban idea, I got very excited! You know what? I think I might found my match. I'm packing my long silk scarf with me for Malta to try it out and if it goes well I might even adapt the look for late summer picnics and morning bike rides.

Would you wear a scarf turban? If so, here is the full how to.

P.S: And this one.
P.P.S: How to wear spring scarves like a true Parisian.

(Photos by Xiaohan Shen)

How To STRAWberry :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

If like me, you don’t own a strawberry huller but you really want to take full advantage of those scrumptious berries before they are gone for the rest of the year, here is a nifty little trick to hull them using an ordinary drinking straw:) That is right!

Here is how: Simply place the straw against the bottom of the strawberry, lining it up as best as possible with the stem on the other side. Then just push the straw gently through the strawberry to the base of the stem and all the way through the berry until the stem pops out. Ta-dah, and that is how you can get a cored strawberry!

Ha, who would have thought? Would you give this a go? Last week, I made strawberry scones using this trick. Worked like a charm. Now onto jam:)

P.S: Plus, more tips on: pitting cherries, halving cherry tomatoespeeling kiwis, chilling wine, ripening avocados and peeling garlic.
P.P.S: My favourite avocado trick ever!

(Tip and photo by Darla. Top photo by Style Me Pretty Living. Layout by exPress-o)

How to get smooth summer legs in under 3 minutes?


There is nothing better than summer sun kissed bare legs, is there? The only problem is shaving. Well, it’s an understatement to say that shaving is a hassle! The worse bit is when I am in a hurry and I unknowingly skip a patch around my knees since I shave my legs in the bath while trying to use my (non existent) muscles to hold them up:). I usually only notice the patches when I am already out of the flat and there is no time to go back. Yowza! But that is all history since I started using Petra’s nifty little shaving trick that leaves legs smooth and soft like a baby’s bottom :)

Here is how it goes: Have a shower or a bath as usual. In the end reserve yourself about 3 minutes to apply body lotion onto your wet skin (I use this body oil) and shave outside the shower, where you can see and reach every inch of your legs so much better. The lotion/oil makes navigating much easier and faster and leaves your legs wonderfully smooth with an extra close shave. Oh boy, vacation legs, here I come!

Would you try it? What’s your favourite shaving trick? (My friend uses ice cubes after shaving and no lotion). xo

P.S. Also, a fun little lipstick trick and this awesome sunburn trick.
P.P.S: Plus, nail polish chip-proof tip!

(Tip via Glamour. Photo via Rubber Square)

Lavender Festival




Have you ever heard of the Lavender Festival? Me neither, till last night when I got utterly enchanted by Catherine's post. Each July, Sequin in Washington transforms into a three-day-long glorious weekend where you can spontaneously hop between all the beautiful lavender farms in the area. Each farm is open and ready to welcome the visitors with lavender-infused blueberry scones, lavender and lemon sorbet and of course the always refreshing lavender lemonade. You can also cut your own lavender bouquets to take home or buy small starter lavender kit to plant in your yard. But the best part for me would be just strolling around all the 50 different types of lavender and enjoying the beautiful and relaxing scent. Blissful, don’t you think? Do you like lavender? xo

P.S: Also, British lavender fields.
P.P.S. And the scrumptious lavender hot chocolate:)

(Photos by Catherine and Kristina)

Cheers to a zesty weekend

Friday, July 19, 2013

Lovelies, cheers to Friday! What are you up to this weekend? Tomorrow morning I'm off to a baby shower and tonight I am making brownies for the occasion. We also hope to catch a fun film but not sure which one yet. Any recommendations? Have a fantastic next two days, sweets and as always here are a few awesome links for your weekend blog-hopping-fun. Enjoy!

Success after 30!

I can't wait for Molly's second book.

Love this - how to cut a mango.

NYC subway sets.

Pond Island is so darn swoonworthy and romantic!

:)

Smitten...

Hmm..smashed beet crostini sounds intriguing, doesn't it?

 What a sassy skirt.

Morning walk...

Lavender, I love you so much!

I'll enjoys some frozen chocolate-covered bananas this weekend, you?

Pétanque = awesome.

Funnel cakes:)

I adore the simplicity of this wedding dress.

Brilliant, constellation votives!

I am utterly mesmerized with this house.

Adorable little flower crown:)

And a few nifty tricks to packing light.

Darlings, see you Monday morning. xoxo

P.S: Fancy a bit of chit-chat? Join me on
Twitter, Facebook or even Pinterest.

(Photo of a Californian orange tree by Whitney Johnson)

This Week's Gems


Tank- perfection!...

This book is on my birthday wish list...

Wish I could wear one of those little dresses today:)...

This anchor necklace is made for summer. What a beauty!...

Those wax sachets must make drawers or closets smell divine....

Delicate and swoonworthy = the perfect everyday bracelet...

Bike + stripes = my kind of pocket square:)....

Ha, hedgehog door stop...

I simply can't get enough of floral prints, like this one...

Turquoise seems so perfect for summer, doesn't it? And those earrings would add a sassy pop of colour to your everyday jeans and tee look. Swoon!...

The best cheese paper. I've been using it recently and it keeps the cheese super fresh...

Darlings, what caught your eye this week? Any great finds or buys? xo

P.S: Fancy more gems?

Amsterdam: Dutch Gable Flat or Canal Houseboat?

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Last night, Balazs and I were daydreaming about living in Amsterdam. We treated ourselves to a glass of wine and spent the night browsing through Amsterdam rental listings, just for fun. As more and more beautiful places popped up, we found ourselves torn between the traditional Dutch gable flats above, or one of those adorable canal houseboats below. Balazs is leaning more towards a flat, since you get a better view and more space. But I am loving the idea of waking up to the sound of water and little ducks swimming by. Fingers crossed one of them would stop by for a quick hello:)

So, just for fun, imagine that you could live in Amsterdam for the summer. Which accommodation would you choose: a canal flat or a houseboat? I can't wait to hear what you think. xo

P.S: Going Dutch (and Danish).
P.P.S: Plus, those tiny houses on tiny islands:)

(Photos via/by Tom, Paisajes, Kimberley Coole, Things Melissa Makes, A Teaspoon of Happiness, Pia Jane Bijkerk, Y. Peter Lee, Space for Inspiration)
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