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.