Friday, December 25, 2009

Risotto with portobello mushrooms (Risotto Ala Fungi)

Loving risottos!

Ingredients:
(serves 2)

2 medium fresh portobello mushrooms
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine (Marsala or other flavorable white wine)
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. Virgin Olive oil
30 g. grated Romano cheese
20 g. grated Parmigiano cheese
Handfull chopped parsley

Method:
1. Slice mushrooms in medium chunks. Put stock on low fire and keep it simmering during all cooking time. Stock should be hot, so when it will be added to rice it will not stop rice from cooking though.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp of butter and 1 Tbsp. of olive oil heave skillet (i used cast iron) on medium heat.
3. Add shallots and garlic and fry until transparent. Keep stirring all the time.
3. Add half the mushrooms to pan and fry for about 2 minutes, until mushrooms will become slightly brown.
4. Add rice and fry for 5 minutes, keep stirring until rice is fully covered in oil.
5. Pour wine. Let it be evaporated by 1/3.
6. Reduce heat to law, add remaining mushrooms and 1 cup os stock, season with salt and pepper. Keep adding stock and stirring for 15-20 minutes. Next cup of stock should be added only after previous one absorbed and level of liquid dropped to 1/3. Do not stop stirring. If you run out of stock add some hot water.
7. After 15 minutes pass - try the rice. If it is almost tender, but slightly hard in the middle - it is done. Simmer until remaining liquid will be absorbed by 90 %.
8. Stir in 1 Tbsp. of butter and all grated Romano. Remove from heat.
9. Close your pan with lid and let stand for few minutes. at this point risotto will gain its creaminess.
10. Stir in some parsley and serve. Garnish with some Parmigiano and more parsley.

Bon Appétit!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Daring Cooks Challenge Dec'09: Salmon En Croute

I am not a member of daring kitchen yet, but hopefully soon will be. Anyway bumped into so many blogs lately cooking this lovely dish. I followed a recipe for ingredients from Good Food and techniques described by Gordon. So basically my variation is made of two layers of salmon as per Gordon but with spinach-cream cheese stuffing, like in original recipe on BBC Food website.

Ingredients:
150 g. of cream cheese
130 g. of baby spinach and basil
500 g. of salmon filet
1 sheet of short crust pastry
1 egg for brushing pastry
salt\pepper

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 200 C.
2. Prepare a baking trey: butter it and dust with a pinch of flour.
3. Grind baby spinach, basil and cream cheese into paste using mixer.
4. Cut salmon fillet in two halves, along the spine (so the salmon will be separated into back side and slimmer belly side). Dry salmon with paper towel. Spread spinach mixture on top of one side and cover it with another.
5. On slightly dusted with flour table, roll out pastry sheet. Place prepared stuffed salmon in the middle and fold it into the envelope, like on the Ramsay's video (link above), do not forget to brush the ends with egg, so they will become sticky.
6. Place salmon on baking trey folded side down. Make three holes with a knife on top, brush with beaten eggs, season top of the pastry with freshly ground salt and pepper.
7. Bake for 30 minutes, until crust will become nicely golden.

In my opinion, two layers of salmon is too much and with only one layer like in recipe from Good food. But the folding technique and these seasoning on top of the dough is great idea. It gives to plain short crust great flavor!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tvorog - russian farmercheese

Tvorog is russian farmer cheese. Its consistency is very similar to cottage cheese or ricotta. Just it tastes a little more sourer then ricotta and should be a little more dry. Tvorog is very popular in russian cuisine. It is eaten as breakfast, popular in baked goods, as a children's food (hence it dairy product and high in calcium).

The easiest way to make tvorog is from the "tvorog making ferments" (you can purchase them in russian special shops. Or from kefir, sour cream or natural yogurt (acting as a ferment).

Recipe 1 (sour tvorog)

Ingredients:
(300 g. of tvorog may be produced from each 1 liter of milk)
3 litres of milk
+ 1 cup of kefir or 1 cup of sour cream or 1 cup of yogurt 0r "tvorog making ferment"

Method:
1. Heat milk in stainless still pan over medium heat until T will reach 70 C, stirring time by time.
2. Pour milk into the glass jar, add used by you ferment and close it with a lid. Leave it in room temperature over night or 24 hours. Clots will appear in milk.
3. Heat water in big pan, place an opened glass jar with milk into the boiling water (place a kitchen towel on the bottom of the pan to prevent overheating of the glass jar). Keep it there on ow heat for about 10 minutes. The why should separate and all the curds will float.
4. Remove the jar from the heat and let it cool to almost room temperature.
5. Line your colander with cheese cloth (or muslin) and pour the mixture into the colander. Reserve the whey - you can use in any recipe calling for butter milk or to make healthy pancakes.
6. Let it drain for 30 min to 1,5 hours. Depending on how dry you want to have your tvorog.
Ready! Store it for maximum a week in air tight container or freeze to use in bakery.

Recipe 2 (soft milky texture tvorog, very similar to ricotta)

Ingredients:
(from 1,5 liter of milk 350 g of tvorog)
1,5 litres of milk
1,5 litres of plain yogurt
5 drops of vegetable rennet (optional) mixed with 0,5 tsp. of water (to increase speed of

Method:
1. Mix milk and yogurt in big stainless still pan. Place over law to medium heat and let it reach 80-85 C. Do not stir.
2. Remove from heat, cover with a lid and let it cool to room temperature.
3. After it cooled down - make a cross with a wooden spoon to break the clots. Line the colander with cheese cloth, pour the mixture into it and let it drain until the mixture will reach desired texture.

My preferred option is number one, because tvorog ended up with lovely sour taste, just like it should be originally. But the second option is much faster. So i use both.

On the picture is tvorog mixed with some sugar and sour cream, topped with strawberry puree and some more sour cream. I had it for my early lunch at home.

Nigella's Marsala Pears

I love to make a wine evenings at home! Get good DVD to watch, bottle of good red wine and of course cheese. I usually used to prepare a regular cheese board with some grapes and fresh bread. But this time felt like making something different and at the same time not to exclude tradition of pairing wine with good cheese. Suddenly remembered that i watched how Nigella once was preparing her snacks for wine dinner with friends. And woa-la! This dish's preparation time is 30 min as maximum, but it is sooooo delicious! Sweet pears complement mild gorgonzola just perfect and walnuts'a appearance also is far from boring. Highly recommend you to try it for your wine evening!

Ingredients:
2-3 pears cut lengthwise in 8 parts (skin and core on)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. Marsala
2 Tbsp. honey
50 g. walnut halves
500 g Gorgonzola (i made a cheese board for two, so used only 200 g)

Method:
1. Heat oil in a large heavy pan over medium heat. Prepare your pears.
2. Fry pears for 3-4 min. on each side or until softened.
3. Meanwhile whisk Marsala and honey together in a cup or small bowl.
4. Add Marsala mixture to the pears allow to bubble and become syrupy. Transfer the pears to serving plate, reserving the syrupy mixture in the pan.
5. Add walnuts to the same pan and stir fry them for about a minute or until they are slightly darkened and sticky all over.
6. To serve, transfer the walnuts to serving plate along with any remaining juices and place the gorgonzola onto the plate.

Original recipe adopted from BBC Food

Pumpkin Bread

Winter started in Dubai finally. Raining a lot. This pumpkin bread is perfect winter dessert bread, the recipe is very easy and you can add anything to it! I made 2 loafs: one with dried cranberry and another with semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Ingredients:
(makes 2 loafs)

3 cups all-purpose flour (can be substituted to whole wheat flour)
2 cups sugar (i substituted one of them to brown sugar)
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 eggs A grade
2/3 canola oil
1 can of Libby Pumpkin Puree (without spices)
1 cup of chocolate chips
1 cup of dried cranberries

Method:
1. Mix together all ingredients, add pumpkin puree, eggs and oil.
2. Separate dough in two equal parts. Add cranberry to one and chips to another. Mix well.
3. Bake in preheated to 350 F (180C) oven for 45 min to 1 hour. Do not over bake! It has very delicate slightly moisture texture.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Vodka marinated steak



From Russia with love.... or how to use vodka at it best... or my debut in making steaks... or smoky kitchen chronicles... or how to fight your demons.... or... so many emotions, but this is the result and at its best!!!

Ingredients:
2 filet Mignion (200 g each, 1.5 inches thick)
1 Tsp. olive oil for frying
100 ml. beef stock
15 g. butter

For marinade:
40 ml. vodka
30 ml. virgin olive oil
1 tsp. dry thyme
1 tsp. crushed black pepper corns
sea salt to taste
2 crushed garlic gloves

Method:
1. Prepare the marinade in plastic zip-bag
2. Place stakes in to the bag, close it and coat the meat evenly in marinade.
3. Marinade at room T for 4 hours.
4. Drain marinade from steak and reserve for making sauce.
5. Heat cast iron pan (i bought mine especially for steak making, hence all the internet research proved that it is the best one for steak). Heat the pan on very high heat until some smoke will appear. Add olive oil, tablespoon or so, just to cover the pan's bottom.
6. Open all windows, switch on AC and fan on highest possible mode.
7. Fry drained from marinade steaks 4 minutes on each side.
8. For better doneness place the pan with the steaks in very hot oven for another minute or so.
To make sure the steak is done, check internal temperature: 60-62 C - medium, 65-70 C medium - well, 70 C and above for well done. Make sure to stop cooking them before they reached desired T, hence after they will rest wrapped in foil their T will rise few more degrees.
9. Remove steaks from pan and cover in aluminum foil to rest for 15 min, so all the juices can redistribute.
10. In meanwhile prepare the sauce. Add beef stock to reserved marinade to reach 150 ml in total. Bring the pan (same one from the meat) to the medium heat (anyway it will still be pretty hot after cooking steak) and pour prepared liquid into the pan, deglaze.
11. When sauce will start sizzling, add butter and mix. Remove from the heat, pour over meat.

I served my First and thank god successful steak with two mashes on the side: carrot (baked with olive oil and oregano, and then mashed) and potato (aded some dill to it).

Now i am not scared from steaks anymore! Most importantly - just keep ventilation running in the kitchen at all time. Will be pretty smoky in there... But it was worth it all!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Spicy chicken Nasi Goreng

Nasi Goreng, literally meaning "Fried Rice" in Indonesian. Dish easy to prepare from left over rice from last dinner. In proper version, can be used tamarind, ginger, red pepper. But we have ow in supermarkets ready thai curry paste which makes this dish simple to make.

Ingredients:
2 medium eggs
2 tsp corn starch
2 Tbsp water
2 cups cooked basmati rice
1 large chicken breast, diced in bite size pieces
6 large pealed (with tales on) cooked shrimps or 150 g. small shrimps
3 medium shallots, diced
Bunch roughly chopped coriander
1-2 Tbsp hot or medium hot red curry paste
0,5 cucumber, pealed, finely chopped.

Method:
1. Beat eggs slightly and strain though a sieve. Mix corn starch in water and mix in beaten eggs. Make thin omelets on slightly oiled pan. Omelets should be thickness on the crepe.
Roll omelets and cut them into stripes. Set aside.
2. Heat wok with 1 Tbsp of canola oil and fry shallots until crispy. Drain from oil excess and keep aside on the paper towel.
3. Wipe wok clean from any oil. Add curry paste and heat it well.
4. Add chicken pieces and stir fry, mixing with two spatulas all he time, coating chicken in curry. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes, until chicken is tender.
5. Add shrimps, rice and stir fry for 2 minutes. Make sure to mix very well so all rice covered in curry paste.
6. Remove from heat, add shallots, coriander, omelets, cucumber and mix.

Serve immediately with thick soy sauce on the side.

Simple asparagus and shitake stir fy

Very nicely comes as a appetizer with japanese carry.

Ingredients:
1 pkg of baby asparagus
some shiitake mushrooms, steams removed
1 Tbsp of sesame oil
Half head of garlic finely chopped
Sea salt
Balsamic vinegar

Method:
1. Cut asparagus in inch size pieces
2. Slice shiitake mushrooms
3. Chop garlic
4. Heat wok on high heat, add garlic and sesame oil. Keep stirring with two spatulas all the time.
5. After a minute, add asparagus. Stir fry for 3 minutes, add a little water (it will turn to steam right away) and cover with lid for 1 minute.
6. Add shiitake mushrooms and stir fry until mushrooms will become tender and everything will be well coated in sesame oil.
7. Transfer on the plate, drizzle with salt and balsamic vinegar to serve.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fatoush - Arabic salad #1

I finally getting close to discovering favorite fatoush recipe. This is how close i could get till now.

Ingredients:
1 large tomato
2 medium cucumbers
5 small radishes
Salad leaves
Fresh Mint
Fresh thyme
Toasted arabic bread

Dressing:
Olive Oil
Juice from 1 lemon
Salt
Sumac
Pomegranate Molasses

Method:
1. Cut all vegetables medium to small chunks.
2. Toss salad with olive oil, salt, sumac and lemon juice.
3. Drain and arrange on the serving plate.
4. Toast some pieces of arabic flat bread in the over sprinkled with olive oil.
5. Arrange arabic bread pieces on top of the salad.
6. Best part is - generously sprinkle on top with pomegranate molasses.

Sahtein!

Miso Udon

Japanese week still on going. After visiting so many of japanese groceries and finally collected all needed ingredients around Dubai - just can get enough of cooking japanese dishes. Does not look on the picture as good as it tasted! This recipe is combination of many recipes i read and i think can be even more variable than this. Main thing is the tasty stock!

Ingredients:
(serves 2)

Stock:
750 ml. of water
6 shiitake mushrooms steams
1 Tbsp. of instant dashi
2 Tbsp. of red miso paste
1 Tsp. of dark soy sauce

Topping:
3 slices of slightly fried or deep-fried tofu (auberage)
1 small bunch of bok choy
6 Jambo Shrimps
6 shiitake mushrooms heads
1 bunch of enoki mushrooms
2-4 pieces of japanese fish cake

For Garnish:
2 pkg. of boiled udon noodles
dried cut laver or scallions

Method:
1. Bring water to boil with mushroom steams.
2. Add miso paste, dashi and soy sauce.
3. Stir for 3 minutes, while boiling and then remove mushroom steams.
4. Add to stock tofu, all mushrooms, bok choy and shrimps.
5. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until all ingredients are cooked through.
6. Switch off the heat and cover with a lid.
7. Udon noodles put into a boiling water for 2 min and drain well.
8. To assemble: place udon into the serving bowls. Arrange the topping, carefully picking up each piece from the stock (the most comfortable way to do it is to use chopsticks). Add stock to noodles as per your liking. Sprinkle some cut laver on top.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Japanese Chicken Hot Pot (with udon)

After our European vocation i got a felling that i am in need of asian flavored light dish. Chicken Bawl is perfect light dish from japanese home cooking. Easy and quick to cook, can be served over rice, or as is did over Udon Noodles.

Ingredients:
(serves 2 persons)

1 big skinless chicken breast
5 cups of water
1 Tbsp of kombu dashi granules
6 leaves of bok choy
4 slices of firm tofu
6 dried mushrooms (shitake, portobello are the best, but is used some white mushrooms from japanese grocery)
1 bunch of enoki mushrooms separated into small bunches
A couple of straws of scallions
Bean sprouts
2 packs of frozen udon noodles
Some soy sauce for garnish

Method:
1. Heat water in a pan with 1 Tbsp of dashi stock.
2. Carefully fry tofu slices in 2 Tbsp of canola or olive oil. Tofu is very soft, while it is raw, so try not to move it on the pan. Place it in hot oil on one side and then tern in to the other side only after making sure, that it is nicely browned.
3. Add dried mushrooms, enoki, mushrooms and tofu into the boiling stock.
4. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for few minutes, add chicken (cut into bite size pieces) and bok choy.
5. Keep simmering until all ingredients are fully cooked.
6. In meanwhile cook udon, as prescribed on the pack (for cooked frozen udon it is 3 min in boiling water).
7. Assembling the dish: put udon into serving plates. Arrange all ingredients from the pot over it, carefully picking them up from the stock with chopsticks. Pour some stock over the dish enough to your liking. Garnish on top some bean sprouts (slightly simmered in the same stock) and scallions.

Enjoy light and healthy dish! And happy dieting :-))

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Short gateway or Bonjour Genève!


Last week i joined Khaled in his business trip to Geneva. Nice climate change for the difference, you know. From steaming heat of Dubai (it was +35C when we were leaving) to chilly and cloudy Geneva - 0 C increased to +10C by the end of out stay there).
We had some meeting to attends and plenty of free time for walking, sightseeings and little snacks.
We had eaten churros filled with chocolate, bought on the street, pretzels, hot chestnuts - great warm up for a chilly weather!
And streets are full of chocolate shops:

And some delicious macaroons (not for Daring Bakers ;-):

And of course in line with chocolate shops - are the shops of finest jewelry and complicated watches!
We visited few manufactures of watches such as F.PJourne (amazing spirit and top complication watch maker), Vacheron Constantin and the biggest one - Piaget (most woman would love it the most, hence they do a great jewelry there)!
For example, this is how a finest jewelry comes to life:

Watchmakers at work:


In our last evening there we went to Grand Prix d'Horological (Watches). This International Grand Prix rewards each year the best watchmaking creations. Its mission is to encourage creativity and to participate in the discovery of new talent. During the evening, eleven awards were attributed, with the prestigious “Aiguille d’Or” award going to the Lange Zeitwerk watch of A. Lange & Söhne.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Halloween to All!!!!!!

Happy Halloween to All! Community is full of tutorials and recipes fro decorated sugar cookies. I went for the simple one - spider net! In original recipe was used cocoa powder to color frosting. I used some gel food coloring, and made it green. I took this cookies to work and our company's official colors are black, green and white. So ended up being a "Branded" Halloween Cookies! Original recipe and tutorial on Zoom Yummy

Ingredients for sugar Cookies (2 dozens):

3 1/2 cups (460 grams) all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar

2 larger eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the royal icing you need:

2 large egg whites

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

3 cups (330 grams) confectioner’s (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

cocoa powder


Method:

1. Preheat an oven to 350 F (176 C).

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of your electric mixer.

4. Beat until light and fluffy (about 3 to 4 minutes).

5. Add the eggs and vanilla extract…

6. … and beat until combined.

7. Add the flour and salt and beat until you have smooth dough.

8. Place the dough on a floured surface and form a ball.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about one hour or until firm enough to roll.

9. While you are waiting for the dough to chill, you can prepare the royal icing.

Beat the egg whites with lemon juice.

Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat until combined and smooth (soft peaks should form).

And while we need two colors for the cobweb design (brown and white) we need to divide the mixture now.

So divide the mixture into 2 parts – 3/4 (add the cocoa powder little by little into this part until you achieve the wished color) and 1/4 (remains white).

Keep the brown and the white mixture in airtight containers as royal icing hardens when exposed to air.

10. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge.

On a lightly floured surface roll out to the thickness of 1/4 inch (0,6 cm).

Keep turning the dough as you roll, making sure it does not stick to the counter.

Using a lightly floured round cookie cutter cut out the shapes and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for about 10 minutes.

11. Remove from the oven and let cool.

12. Decorate as desired with prepared icing.

Apple Pie

Sometimes regular short crust dough getting very boring in the pies. We have one nice french bakery in Dubai and i just love their pie crust. It is incredibly light and has a soft crunch to it.
This crust is just exactly what i was looking for! It is easy to make, has very little butter and gets this amazing crunch when baked. By the way one more detail - the crust doe not need to be pre-baked! And pie comes out just fine. If the pie is still not done in the middle, but slightly overly baked on the sides - just cover sides with foil and continue baking till the middle part is firm.
This recipe is adopted from Bon Vivant and will become my favorite crust recipe. I just added some almond flakes on top, all the rest is exactly like in the original recipe.

Apple Tart
Makes enough for one 10-inch tart or about four 4-inch tartlets (i made in 9 inch form)

Pâte Brisée
5 ounces/ 140 grams all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
2 ounces/ 55 grams margarine or butter, cut into cubes
¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
pinch of salt
¼ cup water, very cold

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, yeast and salt. Add the margarine cubes then, using your fingers, quickly rub them into the flour until each cube is completely covered with flour.

Make a well in the flour, then drizzle the water and use a fork to mix the liquid with the dry ingredients. Using your hands, work the dough to fully absorb the liquid until you get a texture that’s firm but pliable and not sticky. Add more water (if the dough is too crumbly) or more flour (if the dough is too wet) to achieve this consistency.

Shape the dough into a ball, then refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap for at least 45 minutes before assembling the tart. At this stage, the dough can be kept tightly covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to a week.

To assemble:

3 medium apples, halved, cored and thinly sliced (2, if you’re making tartlets and I recommend slicing them with a mandolin at its thinnest setting)
½ ounce/ 15 grams
vanilla sugar or ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
3½ ounces/ 100 grams granulated sugar plus a pinch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon corn starch
3 large eggs
3/4 cup/ 200ml heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 400F/ 200C and grease the pan to be used.

Combine the granulated sugar, cornstarch and vanilla sugar or vanilla extract in a bowl, then whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Add the whipping cream and whisk until the mixture is a pale yellow. Set aside.

After 45 minutes, remove the dough from the refrigerator and flatten it on a floured surface with both hands. With a well-floured rolling pin, roll out the dough, flipping it after 2 to 3 strokes of the rolling pin while keeping it well-floured.

When the dough’s just about a millimeter thick, transfer it to the buttered tart pan by draping it over the rolling pin, then unfolding it on the tart pan. Use your fingers to gently press the dough into the pan’s corners. If you’re making tartlets, use a 6-inch cutter to cut out the crusts then gently press it into the tartlet molds. Remove any excess dough by either rolling the pin over the tart pan or snipping it off with a scissors.

You’re likely to have leftover dough at this point – we like to roll it up into a ball and bake it alongside the tart in the oven for a crisp, tasty dough to savor. It’s also a helpful indicator to tell when the crust is done.

Arrange the apple slices in a circle starting at the edge of the pan and work your way in until all the apples are assembled and the pan is full. If you’re making tartlets, layer the apple slices in a fashion that suits your fancy until it reaches the top of the mold. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar and the cinnamon over the apples, then pour the egg/whipping cream mixture into the pan.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the strength of your oven. The tart is ready when its surface has caramelized and turns a golden brown. Leave to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving. The tart is best eaten on the day it’s made.


Once again Million Thanks to Bon Vivant for such great recipe and step-bys-step recipe!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Daifuku

This is one my old recipes. Here in Dubai we are lacking asian groceries and products, but i am just crazy about japanese sweets and dishes. This is one my favorite sweets called Daifuku, made of adzuki bean paste and gluteus rice flour.

Ingredients for Bean Paste:
2 cups of Adzuki Beans (we can buy them in Organic Supermarket)
2 1/2 - 3 cups of water
1 cup of sugar

Method:
1. Soak the beans a lot of water over night
2. The next day, wash and drain. Cover with lot of water and boil for 5 min.
3. Remove from the heat, drain and add 2,5-3 cups of fresh water, about 3 cm. above beans.
4. Bring to boil, reduce the heat to minimum and cook under closed lid for about an hour or until you will see that beans becoming soft and can be easily mashed.
5. Open the lead, reduce remaining water, if there is some and add sugar: 1 cup for not-so sweet and more if you like it sweeter.
6. Simmer beans on very low heat mixing all the time, and mash them slightly with sugar. Add a pinch of salt.
7. Keep stirring until mass will come together and make up a glossy substance.
8. By this time of cooking, the beans should be already mostly mashed. But if you would like to have a reach paste texture - mash them in food processor.
9. To make paste even more creamy without any pieces of beans - put through the sifter.
10. Make balls from this mixture, keep in refrigerator covered, while preparing the dough.

Ingredients for the Sticky Dough (Mochi):
1 cup of water
1/2 - 1/4 cup of sugar
1 cup of Gluteus Rice Flour (i used Thai Choice Brand)
1/2 cup of Corn or Potato Starch (Mochigo) for dusting

Method 1 (using microwave):
1. Mix Rice flour with sugar and water, cover with food plastic wrap and place in microwave for 1-2 min. Take out the bowl, mix well and microwave for another 1 min.
2. Mix well with a plastic spatula (will be very very very sticky)

Method 2 (regular oven):
1. Pour water into the cooking pan and mix in sugar.
2. Bring to boil on a low heat.
3. Turn off the heat and add rice flour, mix well. Place the pan on very very law heat.
4. Heat the mixture for 3 minutes keep mixing all the time.

Continuation fro both methods:
1. Dust a flat metal dish with some corn flour and pour prepared mochi (while still hot) in to the dish.
2. Let it cool for just few seconds, not more! In other wise mochi will not be as sticky as we need it to be.
3. Dust your hands with corn flour, pour some more of it over the mochi.
4. Take part of the dough and make a thick round of it. Place an adzuki bean paste (prepared earlier) in the middle and carefully using a lot of corn flour bring it together with your fingers forming a ball.
5. After you sealed properly bean paste in mochi, give it desired shape, dust well with corn flour and place in the paper form (i used the ones fro muffins) or plastic wrappers.

You can keep daifuku in the fridge fro few days or refrigerate in the freezer for longer.



Friday, October 23, 2009

Artichokes



Simple healthy dish for "after work" quick dinner.

Ingredients:
1 pkg (300 g.) of frozen artichoke hearts
300 g. of minced meat (i used minces beef)
1 cup of vegetable stock
1 Tomat
1 medium onion (i did not use)


Spices:
1/2 tsp. Baharat (all spices)
1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
Salt and Pepper
How to prepare:
1. Boil artichokes in salted water with lemon juice for 15 min., no need to defrost prior.After boiling cover them with cold water to stop the process of cooking immediately.
2. Fry in 1 tsp. of olive oil onion (if using) till transparent, add minced meat, spices mix and cook for 10 minutes till meat will become brown.
3. Artichokes prior to stuffing you can also fry for 2 min in the oil just to give them nice color, but i did not do it, hence i do not feel need for extra fat in food.
4. Place a 1 tsp. of meat into each artichoke. Dice tomato in very small cubes and sprinkle over the meat.
5. There is two ways to cook it: either place them in the pan with just enough stock to cover 3/4 of artichokes and simmer on low heat for 10 min under closed lid. Or, the second option, place them in the baking tray with the same amount of stock, cover with foil and bake for 10-15 min in the hot oven.
6. Artichokes can be served, for sauce - reduce the stock from cooking and add a bit of flour to thicken it.


I had some fried minced meat left, so i made arabic rice with fried meat: just add some washed and drained basmati rice to the pan with meat, add a little more cumin for flavor and fry for 5 min to coat rice in oil. add hot water (3 cups for every 2 cups of rice) and simmer under the closed lid until cooked through.



Bon Appétit!

Gigantic Lebanese Fruits


My boyfriend travelled to Lebanon last week. And same as in Switzerland you can buy tones of chocolate from the airport, you can buy tones of fruits from Lebanese airport. You would say - there is nothing special about Mangoes and Custard Apples, which are pictured above, but not before you will look at the other picture below, verifying the SIZE of these fruits:

Each Mango is about 1,5 kg!!! I saw this size fruits first time in my life!

Moroccan Cous Cous with Lamb


Our official weekend in UAE starts on Friday. Today wanted to cook for lunch freekeh, bit suddenly in the last moment changed my mind. Wanted something more light, with vegetables. Was browsing internet and saw few dishes of moroccan cuisine. Nice weekend meal, i though to myself. To cook this dish after in the evening after you reached home from work will mean that dinner will be delayed by a couple of hours. But in the weekend i have plenty of time for experiments. And i did, experiment is described below.

Moroccan Cous Cous:
500 g. Cous Cous
4 cups of water room T
70 g. butter
1/4 cup of olive oil

Pour cous cous into a wide deep plate. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and mix well with your hands.
Add 2 cups of water and mix giving air, making it fluffy. Keep aside for 10 min, until cous cous with observe all water.
Line top dish of your steamer with cotton cloth and pour one layer of cous cous in it. Steam for 5 min, add remaining. Continue steaming under the lid for 20 min.
Remove from the steamer, pour 1 cup of water and mix well with wooden spoon, breaking any combined grains.
Put it back on the steamer and allow to steam for another 20 min.
Remove from the steamer, mix again with wooden spoon and set aside, covered with a lid while you are preparing the meat.

Meat Stock:
400 g. of lamb (shoulder or leg, cut into pieces)
1 large white onion (sliced length wise)
1/4 cup of olive oil

Spices:
1/2 tsp. of turmeric
1/4 tsp saffron
1 Tsp. of black pepper powder
1/2 tsp. of ground coriander
salt

Vegetables:
1 medium potato
1 medium turnip
1 medium carrot
2-3 baby zucchinis
1 medium sweet pepper (i used yellow)
200 g. pumpkin
8 cherry tomatoes (i used 1 tsp. of tomato paste instead)
250 g. can chickpeas (washed and drained)

1. Put lamb and onions in the pot, add olive oil and fry on medium to high heat to seal the meet.
2. Mix all spices together and mix in the meat and onions. Stir and cook for another 5 min.
3. Cover with a approx. 2 l. of hot water, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30-40 (depending on the meat) min.
4. In meanwhile prepare the vegetables to add to the stock. Peel carrot, cut in half horizontally and quarter each part. Cut the ends of mini zucchinis and slice them in four parts lengthwise. Turnips peel and cut in 8 parts. Potatoes peel and also cut lengthwise. MIx in the meat stock and let it seamer for 15 min.
5. Add drained chickpeas.
6. Add pumpkin (cut in medium pieces) and yellow pepper cut also lengthwise. Along with cherry tomatoes (i added just a tsp. of tomato paste).
7. Simmer all this mixture for 10 min until all vegetables will cook through.

To assemble:
1. Steam cous cous for 10 min. to heat it up. Remove from steamer, cut in butter and mix well with wooden spoon. Add 4 Tsp. of stock from the meat mixture, while mixing.
2. Pour cous cous into deep round dish and make a hollow in the middle.
3. Place meat and vegetables on top.
4. Pour some more stock with chickpeas over.
5. Serve with extra plate of stock on the side so everyone can put desired amount.

Enjoy! It is delicious!




Monday, October 19, 2009

Spiced Chicken with balsamic vinegar and glazed figs


We have a lovely seasonal fresh figs in the supermarkets and i could not miss an opportunity to try it out in main dish recipe. It ended up being a strange combination of sweet glazed figs and spicy chicken. I garnished this dish with few baby asparagus and baby corns. The glazed figs tasted amazing, but i would highly recommend you reduce quantity of black pepper if you are not a fan of spicy food. Of course made it for two people and doubled the proportions. Also i think would valuable to add, that chicken breast would taste even better if coated in spices and cooked as whole piece rather than stripes, as advised below.

This recipe adopted from BBC Food Website.


Ingredients (serves 1):

For the chicken:

1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
pinch dried chilli flakes
½ tbsp crushed black peppercorns
1 chicken breast, skin removed, cut into slices
1 tbsp oil
For the figs:

15g/½oz butter
1 tsp honey
2 figs, cut in half lengthways
splash balsamic vinegar

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
2. For the chicken, mix the coriander, cumin, chilli flakes and peppercorns in a clean bowl. Place the chicken into the spices and turn to coat well.
3. Heat the oil in an ovenproof pan. Place the chicken into and cook for two minutes, until golden bown. Turn the breast over then transfer to the oven to roast for 10-12 minutes, or until completely cooked through.
4. For the the figs, heat the butter in a frying pan and add the honey. Place the figs open-face down into the pan and then place into the oven to cook for five minutes, or until sticky and soft.
5. Remove the figs from the oven and add a splash of balsamic vinegar to the pan. Place over a high eat for one minute to reduce.
6. To serve, place the chicken onto a plate and place the figs around. Drizzle the juices from the pan over.


Barely risotto with wild mushrooms

This is not the real risotto the way it should be. It is exactly how it should not be! It is very light version of risotto, will be useful for those who is watching their weight (like my boyfriend does). I made it with wild mushroom, which were carefully handpicked by my parents in the wild forests of Russian North.

Ingredients:
(serves 2 of course)

1 cup of dried wild mushrooms
1 cup of mixed rices (wild and basmati)
1 Tbsp. of olive oil
1 Tbsp. of butter
water (enough to cover mushrooms)
few champignon
2 chives
oregano
white pepper

Method:
Wash and drain rice for 20 min.
Place dried mushroom to the pan and add water just enough to cover them. Bring to boil and then simmer over medium heat for 15 min. It will make mushrooms soft and give a beautiful stock for our risotto. Drain mushrooms preserving the stock from boiling them. Roughly chop them.
In the other pan, heat an oil and butter, add diced chives and simmer for 2 min.
Add rice and cook for 5 minutes stirring all time so each rice grain will be covered in oil.
Add spices to the rice mixture.
ON this stage, in regular risotto you will have to add stock gradually and keep stirring the rice until it will observe all liquid, but we are not using arborio rice, so we will make it easier.
Just add diced mushrooms into the rice pan and add stock until 2 cm. above the rice.
Close the pan and simmer for around 20 min., stirring time by time, on very low heat.
And risotto is ready!

To serve:
Slice the fresh mushroom, grill them on the dry pan until golden brown on each side. than sprinkle with olive oil and place in the preheated oven for 5 min.
Place them on top of risotto and garnish with some freshly grated parmesan

Bon Appétit!

This incredibly tasty pumpkin soup is unbelievably easy to make. With minimum ingredients you get healthy and colorful dish!

Ingredients:
(for 2 servings)

300 g. summer squash
1 big potato
1 celery stick
1 medium onion
2 garlic gloves
0,5 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. dried Rosemary
1 Tbsp. of olive oil
1/4 tsp. of paprika
500 ml. chicken or vegetable stock
pinch of sea salt
pinch of white pepper

Method:
Heat oil in a pan. Add diced onions and fry them until golden-brown.
Dice the garlic and add to onion, cook for a minute.
Cut all vegetables into 1/2 inch pieces and add tot he pan with onion, stir and cook for 3 min.
Add spices , mix well for one minute.
Add stock, bring to the boil and cook on low heat until all vegetables are cooked through.
Half the soup pour into the plates and the other half blend with hand mixer very well and then add to the plates.

I served it with toasted arabic bread and garlic.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Biscotti


Simple biscotti recipe can sound differently with just a small addition of weird for this kind of bakery ingredient - banana. Banana makes the dough a little softer inside, while outside cookies still stays crunchy. I was a little worried how dried cranberry will compliment banana flavored dough, but the result was amazing. And also you can utilize soft bananas.
This recipe is adopted from one of Russian cooking journals. And had a huge success with my lovely fiancé.

Ingredients for 12 biscotti’s:

2 cups (280 g.) all-purpose flour
½ cup (140 g.) white granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 soft bananas
1 Tbsp. olive (or any other vegetable) oil
1 tsp. vanilla essence

1/2 - 1 tsp. almond essence
1 large egg
1 cup blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
½ cup dry cranberry


Method:


Preheat oven to 350F (175C). I do not have a good oven, so guessing that it was the right temperature.
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl – flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
In separate bowl puree bananas using food processor or just with a fork. Add egg, vanilla and almond essences and mix well.
Add banana mix to the flour, mix well until dough will be smooth. Add almonds and cranberries.
Line baking tray with baking sheet. Pour the dough onto the sheet and form into rectangular shape 25 cm by 15 cm. Be careful on this one, because the dough will be very sticky and difficult to form, form the dough with wet hands or by helping with spatula or spoons.
Place baking tray in preheated oven and bake around 25 min or until golden color.
Take out baked loaf from the oven to cool slightly (for approximately 10min) and then cut into long stripes 0,8-1 cm thick.
Place the stripes back onto baking sheet and bake in the oven on lower heat, approximately 300 F (150C) for 15 min or so.
Then turn biscotti’s to the other side so they can get browned and crunchy from both sides – keep in the oven another 15 min.
The time of “drying” biscotti’s can differ depending on how crunchy you like them. If you like softer, than keep them less than 15 min.

Bon Appeti!

PS i like to dip them in black coffee.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Welcome Note

Hello, dear Reader. I would be more then happy if any of my recipes will find a proud place on your table.