March 4, 2015

Good News + a Sneak Peek at 2015 Classes


The good news is: March is here! Spring is coming! We had the flu, but now we're well again!

We're especially happy about the coming of spring here in Berlin because it means the days are getting longer and we have more sunlight after many long, dark winter months.

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I've been busy making new collages to finish up my 100 Days of Collage project, and I'm also gathering new ideas and materials for my upcoming 30 Days of Collage and Creative Spring online classes.

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My daughter Lucy - here dressed up as a pirate girl - has been fascinated by my ongoing collage project and she wanted to make her own collage journal too.

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She layered a combination of two-dimensional and three-dimensional elements in her first collage

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and she put it all together to create a well-composed, colorful, and fresh abstract design.

I look forward to more creative collaboration with my daughters in 30 Days of Collage and my brand new Creative Courage Kids Summer Art Camp class coming up in August!
Of course we'd love for you to join us :)

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Lately, we've also been enjoying sunny, blue skies

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fresh cranberry scones for breakfast (my recipe here)

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vintage maps (the map above shows the area where I first lived in Berlin back in 1996!)

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old-fashioned quotes on cooks and cooking

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and soft spring colors, textures, and poems.

What have you been enjoying lately?

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This week I'll be opening registration for our next sessions of 30 Days of Collage and Creative Spring.

Both classes will be packed with fun, step-by-step tutorials and guest interviews to inspire you with lots of ideas for your own creative projects.

Course registration details + Early Bird and Alumni Discounts are coming up tomorrow.

Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter and get my free 2015 collage calendar here.

Greetings from Berlin,
xo
Stephanie

March 2, 2015

Happy Everything!


Hello there + I will begin by simply writing "Happy Everything" to you - Happy New Year, Happy Valentine's Day, Happy Karneval + Mardi Gras, Happy Year of the Goat, and any other holidays I might have missed!

The past weeks have been very full - with many good things happening and some challenges sprinkled in too.


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We celebrated my daughter's 9th birthday

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and we sampled delicious treats for the German Karneval (similar to Mardi Gras)!

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I've been drinking plenty of tea to stay warm, while writing stacks and stacks of postcards

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and I've continued to work on my 100 Days of Collage project too. I'm currently up to Day 91, yoohoo!

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There have been some complicated things to deal with lately as well: health issues, new European sales tax laws (fun!), our daily family chaos, and so on.

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But I keep trucking along, making progress, planning new classes, and I'm doing my best to show up each day and enjoy the simple things in life.

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As Pema Chödrön eloquently wrote: "It's also helpful to realize that this very body we have, that's sitting right here right now...with its aches and its pleasures...is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, fully alive."

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In the end, I suppose we are all works in progress, and it's important to stop now and then and appreciate that our "messes" and our experiments can be beautiful too.

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I hope you are having a "Happy Everything" day today!

Several of you have already asked, and I will be sending out my newsletter with details about my 2015 course schedule very, very soon :)

If you'd like to receive a free copy of my 2015 collage calendar + get early bird + alumni discounts on my upcoming classes and workshops, please be sure to sign up for my newsletter here.

Sending sunny greetings to you from Berlin today,
xoxo
Stephanie

December 18, 2014

Holiday Recipes For German Christmas Stollen, Fresh Apple Pancakes, Gingerbread + My Illustrated 2015 Calendar


Hi there! We've been busy this holiday season, how about you? However, we have taken the time to light our advent wreath each Sunday and we've been baking and crafting too.


My daughter made this cute German angel that reads "Christmas is so beautiful"


and slowly but surely we've been working on several creative projects for our advent activity calendar.


We made clove oranges


and decorated a gingerbread house.

I can't believe how tiny my girls were back then!


We also went to some Christmas markets here in Berlin, and the big carousel is always a favorite.


One of the holiday recipes we always enjoy most is my homemade Stollen cake, which I bake in a special pan that gives it this unique shape.


Notes: My stollen (traditional German holiday fruitcake) recipe uses "quark" which is a typical German dairy product, but you can substitute by using a mixture of cream cheese/ricotta/and sour cream to get a similar consistency. I use dried cranberries and chopped dried apricots instead of candied fruits and raisins. You can bake two loaves in smaller loaf pans (for instance, 8,5 x 4,5" - approx. 22 x 11 cm loaf pans) if you don't have a special Stollen baking pan.

German Christmas Stollen with Cranberries + Apricots

3/4 cup / 100 g dried cranberries
3/4 cup / 100 g dried apricots, chopped finely
3/4 cup / 100 g chopped almonds 
3 Tbsp. rum 
3 3/4 cup / 500 g flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 cup / 200 g sugar
pinch of salt
3 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp.) / 175 g butter, melted
1 cup / 250 g quark ( or 2/3 cup ricotta cheese or cream cheese + 1/3 cup sour cream )
1/2 cup / 125 g cream cheese or mascarpone (Italian cream cheese)
4 Tbsp. melted butter and a generous amount of powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350ºF / 180ºC and butter + flour one large Stollen baking pan or 2 loaf pans.

In a small bowl, combine dried fruits and nuts with rum. Set aside and let soak and soften while preparing batter.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt, mix well. Separately, combine eggs, vanilla sugar or extract, melted butter, quark (or ricotta/sour cream), and cream cheese. Beat until smooth.

All at once, add the egg/butter/cream cheese mixture to the flour mixture. Pour over the dried fruits and nuts, including the rum, and mix all well with a wooden spoon or your hands. Dough will be very sticky and stiff! Add an additional sprinkle of flour to make dough easier to handle, if needed.

Scrape dough out of bowl onto a floured surface and with clean, floured hands, transfer dough to large baking pan or two smaller loaf pans.

Push dough down into the pan and spread with a spatula to have a fairly smooth surface on top.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden and when stollen tests done with a toothpick (toothpick comes out clean when inserted). Loosen the edges of the cake from the pan with a knife, and let cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing.

Meanwhile, melt 4 Tbsp. butter in a small pot on the stove. After you have removed stollen from the baking pan, brush hot cake all over with melted butter.

Let the butter soak in a bit, then dust heavily with powdered sugar. Before serving, when cake is completely cool, dust again with powdered sugar.

A German Christmas tradition and SO much better than store bought :)


We made these apple pancakes for breakfast one weekend morning, and everyone instantly fell in love! This would be a great Christmas Day or holiday breakfast for everyone to enjoy. Easy + quick to make too.

Fresh Apple Pancakes

2 apples
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 cups / 200 g flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
3 Tbsp. brown or raw sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 large eggs
4 Tbsp. / 75 g butter, melted
3/4 cup / 200 g sour cream
3/4 cup / 200 ml milk
a bit of oil or butter for cooking pancakes
powdered sugar or warm maple syrup for serving

Core apples, and slice into thin, whole rings. Drizzle with lemon juice to prevent browning, and set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl and blend. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, melted butter, sour cream, and milk, blend well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients all at once, and blend until all is well-moistened.

To cook, heat a bit of oil in a large skillet until hot but not smoking. Using a soup ladle, pour a bit of batter into the skillet to make small - 3 inch / 7-8 cm - pancakes, and gently place an apple ring on top of each pancake.

When pancake batter starts to form bubbles on top, flip carefully and let pancakes with apple rings brown. Be careful, they get brown quickly. Continue baking pancakes until all batter and apple rings are used.

Serve hot with a dusting of powdered sugar or warm maple syrup, so good!



Thank you to my friend Andrea for sharing her special Swedish Lucia Buns (Lussekatter) recipe with us this year! These saffron scented, raisin studded buns are perfect for celebrating Lucia Day - a festival of lights - on December 13th. My younger daughter is named Lucia, so we always try to make something special on this day - and at this time of year in dark, wintertime Berlin, these warm buns are very welcome + delicious.

Lucia Buns / Lussekatter

6 1/2 - 7 cups flour
2 packages dry yeast
pinch of salt
3/4 cup / 140 g sugar
1/2 tsp. / 1 gram ground saffron (if your saffron is in threads, grind until fine with 2 tsp. sugar)
1/2 cup / 125 g butter
2 cups / 1 liter milk
1 egg, room temperature
raisins
2 Tbsp. milk + one egg yolk

In a large bowl, combine flour with dry yeast, salt, sugar, and saffron.

In a pot on the stove, melt butter and heat milk until just warm (98-100ºF / 37-40ºC). Pour warm butter/milk mixture over flour and yeast in bowl, and mix well. Add egg and continue mixing until dough sticks together. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 4-5 minutes or until smooth, adding more flour if necessary.

Place dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a towel, and allow to rise in warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size (I put the bowl of dough on the middle rack of a cold oven that is turned off, with a pan of hot, boiling water placed underneath on the bottom or the oven to keep things warm).

When dough has risen, remove from the oven and preheat the oven to 400ºF / 200ºC. 


To form dough, make golf ball sized balls of dough (about 24-30 pieces with this recipe), roll them out into a long, thin cylinder form (about 10" / 25 cm long), and form the "Lussekatter" by rolling up half of the dough cylinder into a spiral, then roll up the other side. 

Place the formed dough on a lined baking sheet, add two raisins to the middle of each spiral, then brush with an egg wash made of 2 Tbsp. milk and one egg yolk mixed together.

Let rise for another 20 minutes, and bake in preheated oven for 11- 15 minutes or until golden. 

These buns are wonderful served warm with butter, cream cheese, or jam, and you can freeze the extra buns to reheat for a special breakfast or afternoon tea.



These classic gingerbread cookies are sturdy enough to bake as tree decorations (don't forget to make a hole at the top with a straw), and if you glaze them with a bit of confectioner's sugar and lemon, they taste very nice while fresh too.

Gingerbread Spice Cookies

2 1/4 cups / 300 g flour
pinch of salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
10 Tbsp. / 150 g butter, chopped in pieces
3 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. molasses or golden syrup

Preheat oven to 350ºF / 175ºC and line 2 baking sheets.

In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, and spices. Add butter pieces and rub into flour until mixture resembles course meal. Add honey and molasses and mix with a fork until dough sticks together, then knead briefly with floured hands until smooth.

Wrap dough in plastic or waxed paper, and put in the refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes to one hour (can also be made ahead and cooled overnight).


Remove cooled dough and roll out onto a floured surface. Cut out your favorite shapes with cookie cutters - or make round shapes with a tin can. For larger shapes that you'd like to hang as ornaments, use a drinking straw or a toothpick to make a pencil sized hole at the top.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden on 350ºF / 175ºC. 


I think these gingerbread decorations will look very cute with a homemade popcorn + cranberry garland hanging on our tree this year.


I have one more special holiday treat for you today!

I made a hand-drawn + illustrated 2015 calendar, and I want to share it with you as a free download :)



To immediately get your copy of my free, hand-drawn + illustrated 2015 calendar, all you need to do is sign up for my newsletter HERE.

If you are already a newsletter subscriber, keep an eye on your inbox because I'll be sending you a copy of my calendar in our next newsletter edition :)

Warm greetings from Berlin + I wish you all the very best during this holiday season!
xoxo

Stephanie


December 3, 2014

Creative Advent Calendar: Quick Cinnamon Rolls, Rich Spiced Hot Chocolate, and Wassail Cranberry Punch


We've been busy baking again + I'd like to share my recipes with you for






I'll be posting lots of goodies throughout December on my Creative Advent Calendar.


Join us here for recipes, diy, and German holiday traditions.


Hope your holiday season has started well + come over get your recipes here.

Warm greetings from Berlin,

Stephanie


November 28, 2014

3 Delicious Holiday Baking Recipes


My Tennessee grandmother was famous for her delicious Southern pecan pie, and I've added chocolate and updated her recipe using less sugar. I also used walnuts, as pecans are difficult to find in Germany. However, both walnuts and pecans work well in this recipe and if you prefer a thicker filling, you can use a smaller pie pan too. Enjoy! 

Tennessee Walnut Chocolate Pie

Grandma's Butter Crust Pastry

1 cup flour + more to roll out
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
2 Tbsp. / 30 g cold butter
1/4-1/2 cup cold milk

Walnut Chocolate Filling
4 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup / 140 g brown or fine raw sugar
1/2 cup / 125 ml maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. whiskey or rum
3 Tbsp. melted butter, cooled
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups chopped walnuts (or pecans)
4 oz. / 100 g semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
whipped cream or ice cream for serving, if desired

Preheat oven to 350ºF / 175ºC and prepare a 10“ / 26 cm pie/tart/quiche pan.

To make pastry, mix flour, salt, and sugar together, then rub in cold butter until mixture resembles course meal. Stir in milk slowly with a fork, just enough for dough to form a soft ball.

Turn out pastry dough onto a floured surface, and roll out to a thin circle large enough to cover pie or tart pan. Fold dough into quarters, transfer gently to pie pan and unfold. Trim crust as needed to fit pan.

Prick dough with a fork all over and pre-bake crust slightly for about 6-7 minutes. If any bubbles appear in dough, simply prick and press down with a fork. Let cool.

Meanwhile, prepare Walnut Chocolate Filling. Mix together eggs, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, whiskey, melted butter, and salt until smooth. Gradually sprinkle in flour and cocoa powder, stirring well to prevent lumps. When mixture is smooth, add chopped nuts and chocolate.

Pour walnut chocolate filling into cooled pie crust. Place tart in oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until puffed and golden.

This is especially wonderful when served slightly warm with a dollop of whipped or vanilla ice cream. Greetings from Tennessee!


This simple open-faced apple tart is easy to make, very yummy, and it's beautiful to look at too. Serve warm and you and your guests will be happy!

Apple Cinnamon Creme Fraiche Tart

Pastry:

2 cups / 250 g flour
1/2 cup / 125 g cold butter
1 egg yolk
6-7 Tbsp. ice water, as needed

Topping:
1/2 cup (125 g) creme fraiche or sour cream
4-5 tart apples (like Granny Smith), peeled + sliced + tossed in the juice of one lemon to prevent browning
3 Tbsp. brown or raw sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. finely chopped almonds or walnuts (optional)

To make pastry: Combine all ingredients to make a smooth dough, adding water as needed, then wrap dough in plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes before rolling out. Meanwhile, you could peel and slice your apples...

Roll out the dough as thinly as possible into a large free form rectangle. I generally roll out this dough directly onto my baking paper, so that there is no need to transfer the dough.

Spread the creme fraiche or sour cream over the dough, then top with apples in a nice pattern.
Mix together sugar + cinnamon, then sprinkle evenly over the apples. Scatter over chopped almonds or walnuts, if you'd like.

Bake at 375ºF/190ºC for 25 - 30 minutes or until golden brown and apples are tender. Serve warm + this tart will disappear fast. 


These fresh cranberry scones are one of our favorite breakfast treats on the weekends or holidays. Lovely served hot, right out of the oven with a pat of butter or cream cheese :)

Quick Cranberry Scones

3 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 egg
about 1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400ºF / 200ºC. Grease or line a large baking sheet.
Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture using fingers or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gently mix in cranberries very carefully. Break egg into a measuring cup for liquids and beat well. Add enough milk to egg to make 3/4 cup, and stir well to blend with egg.

Add milk/egg mixture to dry ingredients; mix gently until particles cling together. Mixture will be very crumbly. Form a ball of dough and divide into two parts. With floured hands, form into 2 balls of dough and place onto the baking sheet. Press each ball of dough into a 6 inch circle (about 3/4 inch / 2 cm high). Using a sharp knife, cut each circle into 6 wedges, and pull apart to separate wedges, leaving at least 1/2 inch between them (dough will expand while baking).

Brush tops with milk, and sprinkle with a bit of sugar if desired.
Bake for 18-20 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve hot with butter and enjoy!

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Happy holiday baking + warm greetings from Berlin,

Stephanie

p.s. - I'll be sharing my Creative Advent Calendar with daily recipes, diy projects + other goodies during the month of December, and I'd love for you to join me here :)

To get updates + my free 2015 illustrated calendar to download, be sure to sign up for my creative newsletter.

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