Tuesday, May 21, 2019

hummus plate and strawberry season



I usually go once a week to farmer's markets to buy all the greens and fruits. This weekend I was mainly focused on strawberries and whether strawberry fields have survived heavy rains and cold weather. I know most of them are under the plastic roof tops but still, life was not easy last few weeks for any kind of frailness. Also, I somehow forgot about other foods. Selfish need for locally grown strawberries overcame everything else. It doesn't happen that often, this 'obsession' for certain foods that hits me, but when it does I just let my self go. This means I eat strawberries all day, for breakfast, lunch and in the evening. In the morning I eat them fresh with cooked oats, or with french toast. During afternoon I snack them, sometimes with spoon. Desserts I save for dinner time. Evenings I spend with macerated strawberries, finger ladies and cream. Fruits must bee at room temperature. It's like picking and eating them right away. I wash them carefully and remove stems. Cut them in halve or in quarters, if they are bigger, and place them in a bowl. Then I add splash of vanilla, lemon or orange juice and few table spoons of sugar (not too much). Leave them to macerate for 10-15 minutes. I roughly crumble lady fingers and add to the bowl and stir. After I whisk heavy cream until soft peaks form, I generously dollop on top to cover shiny fruits. Then I dig in with big spoon! 

I know this post so far is about strawberries and looking at the picture above and reading all written doesn't have much sense, but this way I keep on feeding this mania, passion that I am experiencing. I am powerless to resist, I actually don't want to resist at all.

And regarding this picture above, this lunch we had few day ago. I should say few words about it but actually picture says it all. It's simple, it's beautiful, tasteful, and even gluten free, colorful weekend lunch plate. No cooking required (boiling eggs not included). You go to the garden, on foot or by bike or by bus. You pick veggies. You pick everything you like, you desire, you crave for, wash carefully and cut. Scatter over a plate, bed of arugula, around hummus and that's it.Then you dig with a fork!

Arugula bed
Carrot and apple mach sticks
Cherry tomatoes halves and quarters
Finley sliced red onion 
Small radishes 
Avocado + za'atar
Olive oil and lemon juice for drizzle 
Soft boiled eggs (not pictured)
Hummus
can of chickpeas (400g, drained 240g)
1-2 tablespoon ice cold water
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
one teaspoon tahini 
juice of half lemon
4-6 tablespoons of good olive oil
salt to taste
spoon of cream cheese or sour cream optional (for creamier and lighter version)

Place chickpeas and cold water in a food processor and mix until you get almost paste like consistency. I have an old blender so it takes some time but it's worth it. Add all other ingredients and mix again to get smooth paste. Try, taste and add more lemon juice and/or more salt if needed. 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

banana fritters

Till sunnier days arrive



Nigel Slater's banana fritters  
Serves 4 
bananas 4, large and slightly under-ripe
caster sugar for rolling
groundnut oil for deep frying

For the batter:
plain flour 100g
rice flour 50g
baking powder 1 tsp
water 200ml

Combine the flours and baking powder in a bowl and stir in the cold water and beat with a whisk. Scatter a layer of caster sugar over a plate. Heat the oil in a pan. Peel the bananas. Cut each in half and dip them in the batter and place them carefully into the hot oil. No more than 4 halves at a time.
Turn the bananas over as they cook. When the batter is golden remove the bananas on kitchen paper and roll them in the caster sugar. Serve the fritters with the coconut yogurt, as suggested by Nigel Slater, or with chocolate sauce.


Empty streets,
Loud winds,
Summer's sultriness,
Fallen flower petals on the kitchen table,
Concrete walls,
The buzz of fat flies,
Toasted and lightly sticky hazelnuts with the taste of sweet maple and salt,
Cold citrus juices oozing down the chin,
Sizzling oil from the pan at noon,  
Soft baked bananas,
Till sunnier days arrive. 



Thursday, May 9, 2019

granola vol. 2


600g rolled oats 
100-150g coconut chips
400g raw nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts halves, almonds)
2 teaspoons salt
240ml maple syrup 
160ml olive oil

This amount requires two oven trays. And if you are not granola type of person there is no need to make ahead this amount. Simply cut the recipe in half and you will be fine for a week. 
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. 
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add olive oil and maple syrup and stir well to coat evenly. Spread out the mixture on the prepared tray and bake for about 40 minutes. Make sure to stir once or twice. I follow original advice and check on granola every 15 minutes as it bakes. Once it's evenly brown and coconut chips toasted it's done. 
Allow to cool completely, then transfer the granola to airtight containers. 

Recipe adopted from Molly Wizenberg <3






I made my version only with whole hazelnuts and served it once only with pink grapefruit and fresh orange juice. I usually eat granola with plain yogurt but sometimes I love to serve it only with fresh citruses or berries. Tonight I have made another batch with combination of nuts, whole hazelnuts, walnuts halves and whole almonds. Now I am impatiently waiting for the weekend to grab some fresh strawberries from the market, first of the season, to pair them with granola and coconut yogurt.
You'll be crazy not to try the best granola so far.

You get out of the bed and go to the kitchen. You put the water on to boil for a good cup of tea or coffee. Temperatures are pretty low and we are experiencing winter blues. Most of the days are dark, rainy and cold. Still, mosquitoes are biting. You want to scratch but instead you reach for your best granola and start to nibble. Spring winter blues relief from a jar. Do try!

Thanks again Molly for such a great granola recipe.

Friday, April 12, 2019

pasta with tomato sauce

Hey, It's Friday and I have some nice pasta on a plate for you! 



Who cares if it's cold outside and rainy, as long as you have warm bed and idea what to cook (read full belly) you'll be fine!

Pasta With Tomato Sauce
There are many versions for tomato sauce. Almost all of them have olive oil, garlic and normally tomatoes (fresh, from can, juice, dry, puree). This one is no exception, there is olive oil, garlic, tomatoes (tomato paste and homemade tomato juice) but there is another ingredient, key ingredient, lemon zest. Sometimes I call this pasta penne alla lemon zest, simply because lemon zest dictates the flavor here. It lifts it up to another level. 
It takes 30-35 minutes to make this sauce and I usually cook it before I eat. Therefore I put the water for the pasta to boil once I start preparing the sauce.

Serves 4
ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
teaspoon sugar
tablespoon tomato paste (concentrate) 
650ml homemade tomato juice
200ml water
one large lemon, zest
tablespoon butter
salt to taste
about 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
250g penne (You can use pasta of your choice or make your own, fresh pasta. I didn't. Not this time)

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add onions and salt (pinch or two). Cook onions gently stirring every now and then (not letting to burn) for about 10 minutes. By that time onions should be soft and start to caramelize. Add garlic and spring onions. Stir for another minute or two. Then add tomato paste and cook for minute or two before tipping in tomato juice, water and sugar. Cook uncovered on medium-high heat for 20 minutes. Stir in lemon zest, Parmesan and butter. Take the pan of the heat. Check for seasoning.
Once the water for pasta is boiling add salt and tip in the penne. Cook according to packet instructions. Drain the cooked pasta and combine with the sauce (you can pour sauce over pasta as well). Make sure the pasta is coated evenly with sauce. 

Good to know, this pasta is good cold as well!


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

note to radishes

I like to snack you just as you are. I always did. 
In my childhood I remember being the only family member loving you. 
Your pink/red appearance attracted me. 
At the time I would eat you as a bowl of candies before lunch.
Now, I like when your thin slices, almost translucent, get coat with olive oil, lemon, Dijon mustard, honey, apple cider vinegar, sea salt and mix with slices of red onion and green apple.
Yesterday you turned your color to neon pink in a heated pan and now I like you even more. 
Please forgive me for not eating your green tops.
I let them wilt. 


Fried Radishes in Olive Oil with Honey, Lemon and Pink Peppercorns / Caramelized Radishes

2 bunches medium radishes
2 tbsp olive oil
one tablespoon honey
about one tablespoon fresh lemon juice
one teaspoon pink peppercorns
sea salt for seasoning 

Wash the radishes, trim the stem ends, and halve or quarter large ones.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the radishes arranging them cut-side down in a single layer. Season with salt and add peppercorns, fry for about 2 to 4 minutes, then flip and fry for another 2 to 4 minutes. Add honey and lemon and gently mix everything and roast till the liquid vapors. Check for seasoning.
Serve warm as a side dish.


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

fried egg on everything!

Fried egg on everything?
Yes, well almost everything.
Why? Simply because everything tastes better. 
Every egg person will confirm this.
Eggs on toast, salad (savory), rice, pickles, sandwich, vegetables, greens, bacon.. even yogurt. Yes, with yogurt it creates genius recipe.
Those who love eggs will adore this creation. It's Juila Turshen's genius recipe, olive oil fried eggs with yogurt and lemon. Takes not more then ten minutes to dive into the creamy rich heaven. Yet, very fresh and light, because of fresh lemon juice and fresh herbs. Such a simple but very comforting and innovating way of eating fried eggs. 
Your egg routine just got upgraded!

 

Serves one
Olive Oil-Fried Eggs with Yogurt and Lemon
60ml plain yogurt (Greek or not, your choice) 
1/2 lemon 
salt 
Freshly ground black pepper 
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
2 eggs 
1 tablespoon roughly chopped leafy fresh herbs, such as basil, dill, chervil, chives, and/or parsley


Directions
  1. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and a big squeeze of juice from the lemon half (don’t discard the lemon half) and whisk together. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and adjust the lemon to taste, too. Scrape the mixture onto a plate and spread and swoop it so the yogurt covers most of the plate.
  2. In a nonstick skillet over medium high heat, warm the olive oil. Crack the eggs into the pan and sprinkle each egg with a bit of salt and pepper. Sprinkle a few drops of water (less than a teaspoon) into the skillet, being sure to let the water hit the bottom of the pan and not the eggs, and immediately, carefully cover the pan with a lid or the bottom of another wide, lightweight pan.
  3. Let the eggs cook until the whites are cooked through but the yolks are still a bit wobbly, just a minute or two. Transfer the eggs to the prepared plate, setting them on top of the yogurt, then pour the remaining olive oil from the pan over the top. Squeeze whatever juice remains in the lemon half and scatter over the herbs. Serve immediately.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

granola bars

Making home made granola is a moment of pure joy and happiness plus it's cheaper and what is even more important you get to chose what goes in. With bars it's the same. More often I make granola but this time I have decided to do bars, milky granola bars to be precise. 
Back in time when I was in school there was just one manufacturer that produced granola bars in three or four flavors. Corn flakes, oats, puffed wheat, dried fruits and nuts in traces, everything glued up with honey. Sticky and sweet memories can be evoked easily, as even now after so many years this same manufacturer produces exactly the same granola bars plus few new flavors. I never liked the one with raisins, I like raisins in general but never with oats. There is one with dried apricots, a classic, and when in supermarket I usually reach out for this one. It's simple and modest. Also there is one covered with chocolate. This one was most wanted as a 'healthy' snack back in school days, which reminds me that I like bites of dark chocolate in granola. 
But to get back to milky granola bars.



I was left with some extra sweetened condensed milk and dulce de leche and used it as a substitute for sugar and oil. 
You get 16 bars, that feed two for a week. They can serve as a breakfast or snack. What I like is to deconstruct it and eat with milk or yogurt, sometimes I catch myself just stuffing it. Also, sometimes when I eat it with yogurt I add fresh berries or fruits. You see all these big chunks, I like that.






































Granola Bars
280g sweetened condensed milk
100g dulce de leche
250g rolled oats (not instant)
100g coconut chips, gives extra cunch
100g dried cranberries
40g sesame seeds
80g natural unsalted peanuts
60g raw hazelnuts
good pinch of salt


Oats are a must and all other ingredients you can adjust as per taste. 
Place all dry ingredients in a big bowl and mix it. Add warmed condensed milk and dulce de leche. Put disposable vinyl glove on your hand and mix well everything before you spread the mixture and press down into a prepared tin (23x33cm, oil the tin or cover with parchment paper). You can use wooden spoon or spatula for this but try with gloves, so satisfying. Place in a preheated oven to 130°C and bake for one hour. 
Remove from the oven and, after about 20 minutes, cut into bars. Let cool completely before storing. 

(Recipe inspired by breakfast bars - Nigella Lawson)



Sunday, March 10, 2019

no-churn ice cream

 

Once I had a dream. I was sitting in a chair, cinema chair, but with a seat belt on. I was in a space seeing Earth from above. And I can’t remember eating an ice cream. Was I eating an ice cream up there? I must have. And it has to be this one, outer space flavors.

At home, in my room, I sometimes eat ice cream scoops in cones.
They melt in my mouth fast and ‘when you swallow it, you start floating.‘

No-churn ice cream
Salted Caramel and Raspberry Swirl Creme Fraiche



(Recipe for salted caramel ice cream is adopted from Nigella Lawson‘s cookbook, At My Table)
 
Salted Caramel
390g dulce de leche
300ml double cream
1 teaspoons soft sea salt flakes 
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Place dulce de leche into a large bowl and add the cream and a teaspoon of salt and vanilla and whisk until it thickens (be patient, it takes some time). Decant into one liter tub, cover and place into the freezer overnight. 

Raspberry Swirl Creme Fraiche
350ml fresh raspberry juice, I used frozen raspberries which were heated up and passed through a sieve to remove the pips
60g sugar  
2tsp cornstarch
300ml double cream
200g creme fraiche, room temperature
200ml sweetened condensed milk

Place raspberry juice, sugar and cornstarch into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until it thickens, about 5 minutes and make sure to stir. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly before placing it to the fridge to cool completely. 
Place creme fraiche and sweetened condensed milk into a large bowl and mix to remove any lumps. Add cream and continue to whisk until it thickens. 
Place 1/3 of the cream mixture into a tub, then add half of chilled raspberry cream over the top. Repeat with another third of cream mixture and the rest of the raspberries ending with the cream mixture. Make swirls with a skewer through the ice cream. Cover and place into the freezer overnight. Remove from freezer 10-15 minutes prior to serving.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

vatrushka

I was waiting for another snow storm, another wave of cold weather to post this recipe but it didn't happen, obviously. Last few days early Spring is blooming all over the social media and snowdrops are all over the woods for quite some time. I am not sure if I am also just impatient like Spring itself, but have decided to post this recipe anyways. 
Just to be clear, I like warm weather and I am not wishing for more cold days, but it simply made me wonder if June will be hot like hell!? In that case I will be staring at this picture.






































And in case we get tricked same as last year and end up digging in the snow instead of picking flowers, then you might wanna consider staring at this one, or even better and more logical, baking vatrushka.






































All in all, one way or another there will be times you will love this post and be gladly staring at it or simply baking from it!

Vatrushka/Russian Cakes with Fresh Cheese 
There are many versions of vatrushkas and most typical one is a sweet one, made from sweet yeast dough. Here is a savory one, I am using unsweetened dough without yeast, more basic tart like dough. 






































Dough
300g all purpose flour
1/2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp salt
80g butter, cold and diced
one egg
125ml cream fresh

In a medium bowl combine salt, baking powder and flour. Add butter and rub in with fingers until mixture resembles sand like. Beat egg and cream in a cup with the fork and drizzle over butter mixture and mix gently until dough comes together. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic (clingfilm) and refrigerate at least 1 hour. 

Filling
500g fresh nonfat cheese
one tablespoon cream fresh
2 eggs
one tablespoon sugar
1/2tsp salt
pinch of white pepper

Place cheese in a sieve to get rid of any extra liquid. You want dry fresh cheese. Mix it with other ingredients and and leave in a fridge.

Roll the dough about 3mm thick, cut circles 12cm and 9cm in diameter. In a center of a bigger circle place about two teaspoons of filling and cover with the smaller circle. With egg yolk brush the edges of bigger circle and fold (pinch edges) like in a picture. Brush each cake with egg wash (optional) and bake in a preheated oven on 200C for about 20 minutes.

These were never planned to be prepared. I had some extra cheese in the fridge and pictures looked nice and recipe was simple.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

oats porridge

I poached apple halves and they look like peaches, all blushed and shiny. Ate them with oats porridge.


2 small apples, halved
one orange, juice and pulp
2 tablespoons water
one tablespoon honey
2 frozen raspberries (I know, two :))
2 cardamom pods, crushed
pinch of salt
tablespoon walnuts, chopped (optional)
cinnamon (optional) 

Place apple halves (cut side down) in a pan with orange juice and pulp, honey, water and pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, don't let apples get mushy. Get the apples out of the pan, place them on a plate and continue to cook the sauce adding raspberries and cardamom. Let the sauce reduce for 5 more minutes. Place apples back in a pan, make sure to spoon the sauce over the apples.
Serve with oats porridge and add chopped walnuts and cinnamon if you desire!

Oats porridge (I like when it's a bit runny)
4 tablespoons oats
150ml water
100ml milk

Place everything in a pan and let cook on a law heat for 5 minutes and live to slightly cool before serving.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

clementine cake

What is Sunday without a cake?

Sometimes on Sunday,
when you wake up to the coldest day in weeks, 
when you wake up without clock alarm and it's noon,
when parents drop by uninvited,
when your hair smells like shit,
when your dog sleeps next to you and not on top of you,
when you don't have to go to work,
when it's not your B-day,
when you wake up in your bed, 
when you don't have any ache,
when crazy neighbor has a day off,
when you hear new beat and you like it,
when you want all your favorite things, 
when you don't have to watch children play,
when it's holiday,
when there are no bad news,
when you worry a bit less then all other days,
sometimes on Sunday, 
when there is a cake in the fridge,
I grab a peace and eat with hands, no spoon or fork.





This one you make a day ahead, place in the fridge and then keep on visiting all day long.  

Clementine Cake
recipe adopted by Nigella

about 375g clementines 
6 large eggs
225g sugar
250g grams ground almonds (whole almonds, skin on) 
1 tsp baking powder 

Cook clementines until soft, for about 1-2 hours, drain and when cool cut each clementine in half and remove the pips. Put clementines (skins, pith, fruit and all) in a food processor and give a quick blitz. Preheat the oven to 190ÂșC. Butter and line a 20-22cm spring-form tin.
Beat the eggs adding the sugar, add almonds and baking powder, mix well, then finally add pulped clementines.
Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake for an hour, when a skewer will come out clean (make sure to cover the cake with foil or grease proof paper after about 25 minutes to stop the top burning). 
Remove from the oven and leave to cool, on a rack, but in the tin. When the cake's cold, you can take it out of the tin and place in the fridge. It's better a day after it's made.

 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

meringue cupcakes with orange curd

This dessert is for meringue lovers only. I say this right at the beginning in order to save up time to all of you who simple don't like sound and taste of a meringue in their mouth. Also, it seems to me that this sweet is most often served among those either gluten sensitive or intolerant. So all of you gluten sensitive tuck in and enjoy!
Meringues can come in many shapes and sizes and are usually served with fresh berries and whipped cream. Whatever the form, the final result should be crisp on the outside and slightly soft on the inside. I was just a little girl when I saw meringue/pavlova (which is a type of meringue) for the first time and it was in a picture book under the section Australia. I so loved its appearance, a pile of fresh and mashed strawberries floating on a big white cloud. We had this cookbook which we used as a picture book in our house and almost never cooked from it.
As mentioned already berries are great to be served on top of meringues, especially wild berries as they perfectly cut off the sweetness of the meringue, but some of us (me included) like citrus curd as well.
Meringue in a form of a cupcake individually served on a plate is extravaganza in everyday life, at least this is how I feel about it. Even if not perfectly shaped, slightly deconstructed, these gigantic bites filled with curd and cream and iced with sugar are necessity.


Meringue Cupcakes with Orange Curd 
for the meringue:
6 large egg whites, room temperature 
pinch of salt      
1 3/4 cups sugar  
1 teaspoon vinegar 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract  
sliced almonds, approximately teaspoon for each cupcake


_Preheat oven to 105 degrees Celsius. Line every other cup of two nonstick 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners, and set aside. Combine the egg whites, salt, vinegar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until frothy. Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating a full 2 minutes after each addition, making sure the sugar has completely dissolved. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down sides of bowl after each addition of sugar so that undissolved sugar does not build up. Egg whites should form glossy firm peaks.

_Using a rubber spatula, spoon meringue equally into 12 paper cups so meringue is about 5 cm above rims. Clean up edges so no meringue is touching muffin tins. Do not smooth meringue or worry about peaks and odd shapes. Scatter sliced almonds on top of each cupcake (a teaspoon on each). Place in the oven, and bake until very light brown and completely dry on the outside but still soft in the middle, about 2 1/2 hours. Remove from oven, remove cupcakes from tins, and peel off cupcake liners. Let cool. 
_Using a serrated knife, gently slice tops off cupcakes; do not worry if they crack. Spoon whipped cream (whipped to soft peaks) into the center of each cupcake, and cover with orange curd. Cover with top of cupcake. Dust with icing sugar. 


Recipe for meringue adopted from Martha Stewart.