Monday, August 20, 2012

Potato and vegetable curry

This recipe is adapted - as usual - from a book I had in my library for a long time dedicated creatively cooking potatoes. As I am a lover of various Asian flavours, this recipe was the perfect test for a busy Thursday afternoon.

My choice of ingredients was the following:

1 medium onion chopped finely
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
10 Thai corn
600 gr. pumpkin peeled and chopped
1 kg potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup (250 ml) coconut milk
200 g green beans trimmed
200 g baby spinach leaves

A lot of visitors in the pan. One hour before cooking all the ingredients together, I fried the potatoes in a pan with oil and garlic and I boiled the pumpkin and cooked the onion until was soft.
I add the spices and stirring until fragrant. I continued with the potato and pumpin, stirred to coat in the spice mixture.
The next step of the operation was to add the rest of the ingredients and the coconut milk and let all of them boil together. The entire work will last around 30-40 minutes, with a lot of intensive stirring.
The combination is delicious especially if you add a fresh beer or a lemonade. It is not very spicy and preferably to be eaten for lunch.

Bon Appetit!

Passion for pita bread

For each of the last two Shabbos, we had on the table a special basket with pita bread. As part of my project of doing something new each week - at least once - I wanted to try my skills by cooking a good pita and after a second try a succeeded to reach the level of 80% of the pita I used to eat when I was a child. 

I was very strict in following the ingredients and the main steps of the recipe and thus I did not have too many surprised. I would love to try pita in combination with garlic and cheese and to add some olive oil as well. My mother zt''l, used to add some fruits or jam and maybe I can make one a combination between pita and pancakes.

I decide to arrange by hand each pita and the outlook improved on my second try. You need to manage properly the time for the preparation of the dough and the cooking as such, but the result is always unforgettable delicious!

Bon Appetit

Hungarian Fruit Soup for the summer

Due to my French-oriented education, I was always taught to think that the best fruit soup is French. However, when years ago I was invited to a veritable Hungarian restaurant, the fruit soup was not only part of the menu, but unforgettable. Since then - more than 10 years - I did not taste any other delicious soup. 
When I saw this Hungarian Fruit Soup recipe, the temptation was to hurry up to buy the ingredients as soon as possible. I am not a regular soup eater, but due to the hot weather outside, I decided that it is exactly what I need for a good and refresing afternoon. 
I decided to do not change too much from the original recipe and the result was excellent. The sour taste of the fruits and the sour cream created a special combination that did not compare with nothing I tried till then. Most probably, it could work well also with yogourt. 
Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Baking forms, anyone

How could a cake look beautiful, spectacular and perfect without the help of a good baking form? And how my cakes will look good without the flawless Kaiser baking forms?

Sometimes I am amazed about how much the German industry of the cooking support was developed, but a short history of the local cooking will answer a lot of questions. The German cuisine of sweets is very rich in various baking solutions and thus you need the right utensils for succeeding your recipes. 

foto credit: Kaiser
On their website you can find the following variants of baking forms, many of them dedicated for special occasions: heart shaped, apple shaped, round and rectangular, for beginners and professionals. For each product, there were given nice names: Noblesse, Balance, Inspiration. Most are provided with a 10 years warranty and a recipe booklet. 

The company producing it is called Original Kaiser, created in 1919 by Wilhelm Ferdinand Kaiser and has been certified with DIN ISO 9001. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Storing fresh herbs

What is the best way to store fresh herbs? It is an answer I am looking for for a very long time, as I am very unhappy to see that I cannot use the leaves of basilicum 24 hours after the purchase. 

But now I know what to do it, thanks to this short article I discovered today.

Depot products at 1/2 price

When you plan having guest all round the year and mostly now, when Rosh Hashanah is a couple of weeks away, it is about time to long trips hunting the autumn special offers. And I paid a visit to Depot where most prices shrunk to almost 1/2. You can find a lot of nice decorations for the table, but also porcelaine and table coverings, more or less decorative, decorations for children parties, supports for mugs or bowls. 

The prices start from around $2 and go till $20. With around $40 you can easily find a couple of nice objects for starting a new year in a completely new mood.

Most probably my hunt for deals will continue this week, but definitely Depot gave me some ideas about items to be include on my shopping list.

foto credit:

An adventure in appetizers: melted onion dip

A couple of months ago, at the beginning of my cooking adventures, I set up the objective of cooking - at least - one new meal each week. Shy at the beginning, I advanced until reaching the level of around 5 new meals the week. My skills are improving, but I am still very very far away from the objective of a good and reliable family chef.

Due to my increasing interest for cooking, I added to my Kindle and book shelves many new books, new cooking books. Besides the literary and publishing aspects that I cannot got out of my mind, the new and fresh recipes are what I am looking for. 

For the last week, I browsed the pages of the 20 recipes include in Blair Daniels' book - An adventure in appetizers. Most recipes are simple, could be done in maximum 1 hour and are the perfect ingredient for people looking to taste something good while watching Super Bowl or anything it is interesting for you. You can also use some of the recipes to impress your friends at a party or for solving fast a difficult riddle about what to prepare in the evening after a long day at work.

As I am not a cheese-and-bacon type of person, I was very happy to find some nice ideas of drinks - Strawberry Lemonade Champagne Punch and Pina Colada Fruit Dip -, serious recipes rich enough for do not want anything else - baked potato dip or the melted onion dip.

The last one I chosed to experiment myself, but considered that will not be enough for the evening meal and thus, I added it to my Japanese noodle. The result was very good, but hard to digest and the next day we were on lemonade and decided to turn on diet for the next days. As in many other cases, I adapted the original recipe in the following way:

Noodles and onions

2 large sweet onions chopped finely
2 Tbs. butter
1 cup Emmentaller cheese
2 gloves garlic minced - I tried the garlic+onion combination the first time and did not regret the decision. 
In the original recipe, it was recommended to ad 1/2 Tsp. Tabasco Sauce - not my favorite - and 1 cup Mayonnaise - that I do not want to hear about.


First, I added in the pan - the original recipe is talking about oven -  the chopped onions with butter, followed by the garlic and the cheese. Because of the cheese, you should melt them regularly. Wait until the onion turns brown.

Bon appetit!

Be a chef for more than a day: The challenge of kitchensurfing

There are many many people that cook and many more that cook excellently. Why not sharing their recipes and ideas and getting money for that.

As you can sell your do-it-youself articles on Etsy and other dedicated networks, why not branding your qualities of chef and cooking in a restaurant, as big chefs do?

Those interesting in such ideas should have a look at the network developed by Kitchensurfing. You set up your page, your credentials and, of course, some pictures about the secret meals and as soon as someone is ready to book your service, you should get ready for your first, second and third challenge. You get paid, you can improve your experience and who knows, sooner or later you will be able to work as a full time chef or creator of recipes!

Happy challenge!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Stops over boiling

My journey through the wonderful yet helpful tools for the kitchen continue and most likely will be my destination for a couple of posts from now on. 

foto credit:
The next discovery on the list is something that anyone careful with a clean kitchen needs. I've seen once in a shop some models of this colourful and nice looking stops over boiling - the Kochblume - from Cookline and I liked both the design and the idea. Practically, it keeps the water in while boiling preventing the water to go over. All you have to do is to place the flower - available in small, middle and large sizes - on your saucepan. Any boiling liquid will stay within the lid and then drain back into the saucepan. You should be careful that if the insert is poen to do not remove the lid. It is available in 9 choices of colors. 

It works very well with milk, pasta, steamed vegetables, rice and everything that could boil fast. The hob will stay clean and you can finish your other chores meanwhile. At least in my case, the children are getting scarred very often when they hear the sound of the boiling water meering the hob and such a tool will keep them calm. It could be used as well for the microwave.

The professional recommendation is that the Kochblume - a German patent distributed largely in the US and EU - hould be at least 2 cm larger than the saucepan. According to the experts, it can also save energy, as you can control the heat by using the flower insert. For the oven it could be used with or without insert. Last but not least, it is dishwasher safe. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Fissler Cookware

Today is the day when I am decided to discover and share more about kitchen cookware and accessories than about anything else. 

The next on the list are the famous Fissler Innovation cookware. Fissler was created in 1845 in Germany by Carl Philippe Fissler and it offers an amazing variety of cooking tools and cookwares that could be purchased from the distribution centers from all over the world. 
foto credit: Fissler website

I wanted to find out more about Intensa series because it looks as I need regularly. Practical and with a long life-span, easy stacking and energy saving, with a good grip on the pan - as I am very clusmy and distracted very often - and a measuring scale included. It retains heat and it keeps the heat long time after cooking. The lid is provided with a thermostate that indicates the temperature: when is all red the job is done. And, by the way, it works very well with any type of stove. Another interesting aspect that looks appealing (meaning practical) to me is the possibility of resting the lid in the handle and in this way you do not have any problem when you serve it at the table. The design is nice and you should not be worried that your guests will not appreciate it. 

Now, I should go back in the real life to work more in order to have enough money to invest in a Fissler tool. 

Discovering Microplane - The Original

There are a couple of accessories that at the first sight you might know that you need in the kitchen. Due to my limited interest in everything cooking - till a couple of years ago - when I saw for the first time a cheese plane, I had the reaction of someone that visits a museum: look at the object and then followed with curiosity the sure moevs of my host who was slicing the cheese. Of course that you can continue slicing the cheese with the knife, but when it comes to parmezan, for instance, you should make a lot of efforts. 

The quality of cheese planes differs from a product to another and from a brand to another. You need an ultra-sharp plade that could offer you the chance of slicing the cheese into thin, medium and thick slices - the case of soft cheeses - or to successfully cope with the challenges of the hard cheeses such as Parmesan. 

foto credit: Microplane website
Included in the category of products offered by the famous company Microplane - based in Arkansas, but with representatives all over Europe -, their new Original cheese plan are ergonomically designed, with a soft touch handle, with a turn knob that will help you to adapt the thickness to the cheese you deal with. An integrated Ribbon blade allows to grate small amounts of cheese. It is ultra sharp, and made of stainless steel with a steplessly variable blade. It is nice, elegant and easy to use: the perfect ingredients that any chef expects from a high-end tool.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Where do you keep your recipes?

In general, as my life turns round around my computer, I have most of my interesting recipes bookmarked. I download regularly interesting cooking books on Kindle as well and I read at least once the week some interesting post and update from my cooking groups on Facebook. The rest of the treasure of recipes is kept in a couple of books I bought lately or carried with me from my wanderings.

When I have a recipe to share, I post it here, with pictures, with the hope that maybe one day the idea of a cooking book/cooking memoir will be included in the priority list. 

Shortly, my recipes are spared in various virtual spaces, but more or less easy to find. 

However, the world of my grandmother and mother was reliying on a different type of memory of recipes. They used to have an old classical cooking book, transmitted from a generation to another. In between the yellow pages, there were recipes written by hand, shared and copied on different occasions. Writing those recipes or cutting it from the section dedicated to recipes from various glossy reviews or newspapers was part of the tradition that even someone of my mother - of blessed memory - followed, despite the fact that she did not want to spend too much time in the kitchen.

When I saw this beautiful and elegant recipe keeper I had in mind shelf with yellow pages of recipes, out of which maybe less than 10% were ever made and less than 25% were ever reminded. What I liked the most at this recipe keeper is the design and illustrations of the talented Katie Vernon. You can organize your recipes in 12 pockets, up to your choice. It seems it fits very well the needs of busy people that still want to offer the best lunches to their family. 

For the moment, I will continue with my bookmarking, but one day, when I will grow up, will be happy to have such a recipe clutter in my pocket. 

The cooking book of the week: At the Farmers' market with kids

I am becoming more and more addicted to cooking books. Most probably I will end up by writing one myself, but for the moment I explore the graphic and the style of everything I can see for free or not, on the Internet, my local bookstore or at the library.

The discovery of the week is a special kind of cookbook: At the Farmers' Market with Kids is dedicated to both children and their parents. It explains little by little, through 65-children friendly recipes how to chose and store various fruits and vegetables: apricots, asparagus, cucumbers, beets, radishes, turnips, melon or corn.

The pictures are extremely appealing and the design is equally interesting. Some of the recipes are more than surprising, while others are simply irresistible. Take, for instance, the case of the watermelon gelatin with summer berrrie! Can you resist the smell and taste and image? Hardly possible, I guarantee. In the surprising category I will include the chocolate beet cupcakes. Apparently, such a recipe is not only possible, but fully enjoyable by the little ones. 

I am not brave enough to try it for this Shabbat, but one day, for sure I will be back and will give a chance to this beet combination. Perhaps I will do it only for myself, as most of the members of my family do not have any patience for my food extravaganza. 

It is a cookbook for parents and their children as well as for educators interested to teach in schools what and why we should appreciate the value of fresh food. The good habits are acquired at an early age and thus, be ready to offer to your little ones the best culinary and literary experiences. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sweet treat from Ashkelon

Guess what is this? Onion? Garlic? It has bulbs and 2 cloves, and has a taste of sweet onion and mild garlic?

It is cheap and I found it at one of the Oriental market where I am going at least once the week for new sources of inspiration for both my cooking and writing.

I took note carefully of the Latin name - Allium Ascalonium - of this colourful vegetable - I loved a lot the shades of red brown.

The short history of it is the following: Ascalonium is the latin name of the city of Ashkelon, situated i the West of the state of Israel. It was brough to Europe by the Crusaders but it is still not very much known and used in recipes. 

We used it for the mix of vegetables used for rice pasta, together with mushrooms and oil, and despite the worries of some anti-spicey food members of the family, the final taste is very fresh and pleasant. Maybe the most difficult part of the relationship with those shallots, you need to make some efforts for peeling it. But, don't worry, you will not need to cry too much.

Learning about Pappadamus

Once I've heard that it is extremely mind refreshing to do and learn at least once the day something new. In my opinion, this goes as well when it comes to foods, an experience that I repeated often in the last years. 

As I am passionate about Asian foods and thus, I pick up randomly from the Asian shop a pack of Pappadamus bread. You can prepare them in only a couple of minutes, in a pan with hot oil. It is very crispy and snacky and you need either many sweet sour and chutney sauce, or with cheese - my option, not sure if anyone in India ever eat it like this. You can addd some chopped onions or Mayonnaise.

When I did some research for preparing this post, I discovered that often Pappadamus is served at the end of the meal and not at the beginning, as I did. It can be rolled and arranged in various creative ways. 

It is easy to digest and maybe you can serve it with some fresh beer. Could be good and very cheap for the summer, isn't it?

Rice pudding for the summer

Although I grew up without paying too much attention to food (maybe will tell the full story one day, but it is too much literature for a humble foodies blog), I had around me in adulthood only opportunities to change my original life patterns. Just a couple of days ago I realized that I cooked for my family in the last 3-4 years more than I ever been cooked with in my entire 30 and something life. The beautiful part of the story is that I full enjoy it and thus, I can't wait to test almost every 2 days new recipes. 

For the hot summer, I want something fast and tasty and the most sought dishes are the desserts. After browsing for a couple of minutes some nice food blogs, I stumbled upon the Easy Rice Pudding Recipe by Kosher Foodies, that I followed almost 89%. For my own recipe. 

Meaning that, I used:

- 3/4 white rice - some Thai version from my favorite Asian shop

- 1 cup water

- a little bit more than 1/2 cup sugar

- no cinnamon stick

- cinnamon for garnish

I added some desiccated coconut and dates and was thinking to add some lemon too, but was thinking that it is too much. I used the lemon for the lemonade to be served with the rice pudding. it is: a good and delicious dessert for the long and busy days of the summer.

Bon Appetit!