Friday, 12 May 2017

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Hello dear readers! This cake, that you discover now, was our Easter cake. I have only just had time to put together this post – better late than never, right? I hope this recipe will please you.

We are fond of this spicy, moist and creamy cake (the cheese cream topping adds that little something to it)…This is a great cake with a gorgeous topping for a special occasion, such as the upcoming Mothers’ Day here in Switzerland on Sunday 14th May.

I decorated mine with a DIY cardboard stick and wrote “Happy Easter”, then I added a white Alstroemeria (in English, a Peruvian Lily). Enjoy!

Ingredients (Serves 8)
5 eggs
200g finely-grated fresh carrots
200g sugar
200g almond powder
2 ml kirsch
1 grated lemon zest
50g of flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Separate egg whites from yolks. Beat the egg yolks and 100g of sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and foamy.
Stir in the grated carrots, almond powder, grated lemon zest, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, flour, kirsch and mix well.
In another bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with 100g of sugar until soft peaks form. Then, incorporate it gently into the batter.
Then butter and flour a mould of 22 cm in diameter and 5 cm in height and pour the mixture in.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in a preheated oven at 190 degrees. Allow to cool before removing from the mould.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Whisk 100g of butter at room temperature until creamy.
Add 400 g Philadelphia cream cheese, and continue mixing.
Add 2 tsp of vanilla extract, and 150g icing sugar.
Whisk everything until obtaining the final texture: creamy, without lumps.

Assemble the cake
Using a sharp bread knife, cut the cooled cake into two layers.
Place your first layer on the plate followed by a big amount of frosting in the centre. Spread the frosting thickly and evenly across the layer.
Spread from the middle of the layer out to the edges and slightly down the side.  Add your second layer on top of the first. Repeat the frosting process by starting with a large dollop on the top and work your way down the sides, filling and smoothing with a spatula.
The frosting doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth. Actually it looks prettier when it is irregular.
You can store your cake in the fridge until time to serve.

If you want to make your carrot cake a little sexier, you can put small carrots made of marzipan on top.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Pfistern restaurant Lucerne

When I began writing this post I was sitting in a park, watching the flowers blossom and listening to birds tweet - they seem to have a lot to say to each other...

While sitting there in the sun, I remembered the delicious meal I ate in the ancient Lucernois restaurant, open since 1578, which I will now share with you.

The Pfistern Restaurant Luzern is situated on Kornmarkt which is a small but charming square. The restaurant is opposite the City Hall. This is the heart of Lucerne, with restaurants, bars and historic places all around.

They serve typical Swiss cuisine that is seasonal and fresh with ingredients from the Mediterranean region. The result is inventive, surprising and in harmony with the local traditions.

We first went to Pfistern to have an end of the day aperitif. We had a Moscato Mojito (not too strong in alcohol), served with appetisers. We loved the place so much that we decided to return in the evening to dine. So, I asked the waitress to show me the dining room and book us a table by the window overlooking the city landmarks.

The restaurant itself is vibrant and cosy, no tourists only local clients, making us feel that we were somewhere very special.

We went along to try their typical dishes. We ordered à la carte, only a main dish instead of the 3 course set menu as we were not very hungry because we had already eaten a lovely Italian lunch. It was not easy to choose from the extensive menu!

Luzerner Fritschi-Pastete, Lucerne pastry filled with veal and pork (meatballs) mushrooms, apples and raisins with a cream sauce, served with seasonal vegetables.

Fischchnoschperli, white fish fillets baked in crispy beer dough, with tartar sauce, served with rice and vegetables.

The meal was absolutely exquisite and came with a wine carefully selected for us.

If you are a serious traditional food lover, this is a place to go in the evening. Order delicious food from the menu - they have cocktails and good wine too - and spoil yourself on the lovely terrace enjoying the buzz and fizz of the place…

Zunfthausrestaurant Pfistern
Kornmarkt 4
6004 Luzern
Phone: +41 41 410 36 50
Opening hours
Mon-Sun 09.00-24.00

It goes without saying that this post is not sponsored, like all my blog posts. It’s just me sharing tips... You are welcome!

Monday, 8 May 2017

Where to stay in Lucerne? The Hotel Lucerne, Autograph Collection

The Hotel Lucerne, a member of the Autograph Collection, is one of those dream hotels…a perfect location in front of a gorgeous little park, totally stunning design and service with the finest attention to detail. It is a hotel that had been on my wish list for a long time and I was excited to be staying there on our long weekend in Lucerne.

As soon as we entered the hotel we were greeted by the welcoming and ever so friendly manager and his staff. After a quick check-in, I took a look around and photographed the bar and restaurant before going up to our room on the 5th floor.

Even though the bar and restaurant areas were sublime, I won’t lie to you, we preferred to take our meals, including our breakfast, outside at different renowned restaurants, just to mix with the locals.

There is one bar, The Lounge, which was designed with even the smallest detail in mind by the French architect Jean Nouvel. The customers are locals who meet up with friends and chill out or tourists (guests of the hotel), who just come to relax in comfortable plush chairs listening to pleasant music till late into the night...

There is one restaurant, Bam Bou, which serves French-Mediterranean and gastronomic cuisine with views on an open kitchen (for those who enjoy seeing chefs in action...).

Jean Nouvel designed the hotel and specifically much of its furniture, such as the bedroom decoration items, desks, beds, bedside tables, armchairs and chairs. In contrast to the opulent ceilings, the furnishings of the rooms are suave and minimalist.

There are 30 rooms and suites at the hotel and each room has a unique decor and atmosphere which makes it special. The large, fascinating presentation of various film scenes on the ceilings and walls of the suites and studios generates a sensual atmosphere. Each of its rooms has a very large image covering a wall or ceiling, depicting a scene taken from films by Fellini, Almodovar....A DVD of the film in question is thoughtfully placed near the TV.  

Our Deluxe Studio was spacious with a beautiful open plan design, calming dark and neutral tones with some touches of strong colours and lots of comfy places to lounge around. Our photo ceiling was “Ai no corrida” by Nagisa Oshima – “Ureshii... Sonnani shitara... Atashi ...”

One of the things that really set The Lucerne Hotel apart was the very fine attention to detail both before our arrival and throughout our stay. There were magazines for us to read and we had plentiful supplies of various sorts of tea and coffee (with a Nespresso machine), water, fruit and chocolates. In addition there was a well filled mini bar with nuts, snacks, biscuits, juices and alcoholic drinks.

And let’s not forget the must in any hotel bedroom: a super bed and pillow to give you the ultimate comfort.  In front of the bed there was a flat screen TV with all the international channels....just in case you need to come back to reality and check on the news around the globe.

The large white ultra-modern bathroom was decorated with fresh orchids and a plant brunch. There were two sinks, a glass shower and a separate bath.

There were all sorts of cute little extras, amenities and gorgeous toiletries. I fell in love with the shower gel and body lotion...they smelled heavenly. I asked the staff for more of these products and was given a generous supply with a smile. The level of service was incredible!

Molton Brown, London’s bath, body & beauty products.

We loved the wide window that revealed impressive, illuminated scenes outside. We enjoyed the views of the park and the old town from inside the window. It was perfect to relax with a cup of tea in total calm, enjoying the beauty of the town.

This is truly one of most spectacular small boutique hotels I’ve visited in recent years. It has won a slew of awards...and I understand why.

The Hotel Lucerne, Autograph Collection
Sempacherstrasse 14
CH-6002 Lucerne
Tel.: +41 41 226 86 86

It goes without saying that this post is not sponsored, like all my blog posts. It’s just me sharing tips... You are welcome!