Friday, December 25, 2009

Risotto with portobello mushrooms (Risotto Ala Fungi)

Loving risottos!

(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

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 App├ętit!

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.

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

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)

(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"

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)

(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

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!

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)

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.

(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

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!!!

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.