Monday, December 31, 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Persian pancakes with yogurt

When I want to try a sophisticated yet affordable kosher recipe, Elizabeth Wolf Cohen's book helps me. 
The tasty yogurt
I wanted to try this Persian recipe for a long time, but probably only this post-Hanuka blues was the necessary impulse to simply do it. As I trained my cooking hands in latkes for 8 days, coming each day with a new fancy idea, the pancakes were like the natural move towards another success in the kitchen. I modified at a certain extent the ingredients, eliminating the muscat, using 5 eggs instead of 6, normal meal instead of matzo meal and cayenne pepper instead of black pepper.

The ingredients needed for this wonderful recipe are:

- 400 gr. spinach; as it was almost impossible to find a fresh bunch of it, I used the frosten variant, equally tasty
- 2 scallions, finelly chopped
- 5 eggs, beaten
- salt, on taste
- 125 normal while meal
- coriander
- cayenne pepper

100 gr. oil for frying

For the yogurt:
I only added some pinches of cayenne and beat it together for a couple of seconds, and kept in the fridge at least 2 hours before use.
The famous pancakes

Add in a mixer the spinach, coriander and scallions, till you have a puree. Add the eggs, salt and pepper and the meal.

Pour the oil in the pan and wait for 3-5 minutes. Add small portions of the mixture and back on both sides. Let to rest on a backing paper for a couple of minutes.

Your gorgeous pancakes will be ready in less than 30 minutes.

Bon Appetit!

Zucchini and tofu salad

I needed - almost desperately - a recipe to match any kind of meal prepared for this Shabbos, while using a lot of products that were longing in my fridge for a couple of time, waiting to be rather cooked than throw in the bin. My creativity, based on the lecture of several recipes a day before, brought me to the conclusion that I need to prepare the following recipe:

I stage
Add in a pan and cook for around 20 minutes at moderate heat
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced
- 5 scallions, finelly cut
- garlic on taste - my choice was of 5
- 2 pinches of sesam

II stage
- add 250 tofu - I think that only the simple type works, as the smoked could be quite heavy in combination with all the ingredients - sliced 

Put all the ingredients in the oven and fry together for another 15 minutes.

To be served and tasted regardless of the time of the day and the meals - excepts sweets, of course. For the fans of hard sensations, a pinch of Cayenne could add the expected excitement.

Bon appetit!

Fast salad with pine seeds

I tried this salad recipe for the first time Friday morning, trying to combine in the most tasty way a lot of ingredients gathered on my cooking table.

What I did was to mix:

150 gr. pineseeds
cut finelly 6 scallions
cut in 4 each of the 16 cherry tomatoes
cut finelly a bunch of fresh rucola - or rocket, for the Englishmen around here
2 spoons olive oil
2 tablespoons of lemon juice

The salad is ready!

Falafel setting

I am not a regular falafel eater, but especially when I am out of time for cooking a non-sophisticated Shabbos meal, I definitely prefer to cover an important part of the menu in less than 20 minutes. But because in the last 2 months I've had at least 3-falafel moments, it is important to be creative and impress your guests with a little bit of changes.

Yesterday, I added on the falafel plate:
- 3 scallions finelly chopped
- 5 cherry tomatoes
- a couple of rucola - or rocket, as the Englishmen will call it 

All you need for a healthy spring feeling!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pasta ideas

I am a big fan of pasta, and not only because I can have a very delicious and affordable meal in less than 30 minutes, but also because I can create new recipes each time.

First, there is a great variety of pasta types that you can find nowadays on the market, with various ingredients and shapes. This last aspect is very important for children that may be extremely bothered to see that for the last 3 days they were served only pasta. You can tell them that yesterday it was the shell, today you have the dinos and tomorrow maybe some spirals.

When it comes to the ingredients for the pasta, there are several possibilities.

The simplest one is to add some tomato sauce. As for me, I prefer fresh ingredients, such as cherry tomatoes with basilicum and some olive oil. The pine seeds will change completely the taste of the meal.

You can also think about various sauces:
- spinach, with 2 table spoons of melted butter, garlic, salt, 1/2 spoon of black/or Cayenne pepper;
- pesto, 1 pepperoni, mushrooms, tomatoes, basilicum;
- 250 gr. finely chopped mushrooms, 1 zucchini, 10-15 black or green olives, garlic;
- ricotta cheese, with basilicum, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 10-15 finelly chopped black olives;
- 50 g almonds, 1/4 tablespoon black pepper, 100 g mushrooms finelly chopped, 2 spoons balsamico;
- 250 g tunna fish, finelly chopped with 1/4 tablespoon black pepper, garlic finelly chopped, 1 tablespoon olive oil.

The list could continue and once you are into the business of preparing pasta you can hardly go out by your own will. Unless you have some serious diet concerns.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What's in a breakfast?

A couple of days ago I was invited to an early morning business discussion that involved the choice of various sorts of 'national' and 'regional''breakfasts. I preferred to have my coffee, but after I had a look around I realized that I have not too many clear ideas about what can I expect to find in different types of breakfast. This post is aimed to bring more light into the lecture of a breakfast menu.

- English breakfast is always very consistent and usually includes: scrambled eggs, sausages, different sorts of bacon, baked beans, oatcakes (especially in Scotland), pancakes, tomatoes, potatoes (as chips or cake), mushrooms (fried), kidneys. The bread is either toasted or fried. It is accompanied by tea or coffee. The American variant has more sausages. This breakfast is also very popular in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

- Those who are looking for a more balanced died may order instead the French breakfast. You will be invited to taste fresh white bread with jam and butter or a freshly baked croissant (if you want to eat as French people do, do not eat the croissant with butter). It is accompanied by coffee or a glass of freshly pressed fruit juice. Sometimes, you can also have a light yogurt. 

- The traditional Italian breakfast may took by surprise those who love to have a good meal early in the morning, especially when on travel (as I do). One may expect to be served as colazione with coffee, bread and rolls, eventually fette biscottate (hard bread with jam and butter) and some biscotti.  A deep disappointment for someone that keep at high respect the Italian cuisine. Keep yourself hungry until you reach the lunch time!

- The Spanish el desayuna does not go too far from the Italian version of breakfast: café con leche - or hot chocolate for children - and sweet rolls or magdalenas. As everywhere in Europe, the cereals were introduced lately on the menus in the last decades, especially for children and thus your little ones can chose between various colourful boxes.

- I never found in the international breakfast the option of Portuguese breakfast, but you should believe my words that when you want to start your day in Lisbon, you will be delighted by the choices of fresh pastry and cakes. The simple thought of the bakeries, chocolate eclairs, and pasteis de nata that you can taste in the morning make is so mouth watering that I am about to change completely my holiday plans. 

- Last week I saw for the first time the content of a breakfast 'Bavarian style'. I don't want to describe the look in my eyes when I realized that the fans of such a lifestyle will eat early in the morning the traditional 'white wuerst', plus a bretzel, Weizenbier, bread or liver soup. I rather starve!

- During my 12 month-stay in Japan, I ate the same breakfast: steamed rice, miso soup and rolled omelet (tamagoyaki). In more expensier hotels you can also find nori (dried seaweed), broiled fish and natto (fermented soy beans). My very natural eating style in Japan helped me to keep me very fit and healthy. 

- The Russian breakfast is consistent and relatively simple: a sandwich with butter or ham, or some jam, an egg (boiled or fried), and tvorog (traditional cottage chese). Don't forget about coffee and tea, accompanied by some fresh pressed juice.

If you wander what's my favorite breakfast, the answer is: the Israeli breakfast. As someone who likes to eat a lot in the morning and drink more than one cup of coffee, this breakfast offers me the perfect combination of energy and different tastes that I am craving for at the beginning of the day. Any restauran in Israel will serve you: a fresh juice, freshly baked bread, olives, jam, hummus, labane, salad (cucumber and tomatoes), waffles, different types of cheese, eggs, sometimes even fish or blintzes and cereals. After one or two hours or eating, I can work till late in the evening without asking anything. This is what I call good life!

Have a good morning and a tasty breakfast!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fast healthy recipe for a busy day

I am the queen of the fast cooking, and often than expected I survive the test of being ready in less than 3 hours with meals for more than 4 people. I call it the luck of the beginner. 

This fast meal was ready in less than 20 minutes. The most time was spent with the preparation of the caramelized onion. The rest: frying the tomatoes - around 15 halved cherry tomatoes; the paprika - 2 big ones and the garlic - 5 gloves finely cut. For the caramelization I used a big onion and 1 tablespoon sugar. The process last around 5 minutes. The rest of the vegetables are added after. Zucchini can also be used. I used 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. 


Bon Appetit!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Who is Anatol?

I did not have any idea who this Anatol is before two weeks ago, when I saw the colorful package in one of Kaiser's shops. More and more supermarkets do have dedicated corners for 'multicultural food' and as in my area there is a strong Polish community, I can find a lot of products made in Poland.
Anatol looked as a respectable and good looking box. It is a roasted grain beverage, a type of drink very
popular in Poland apparently. As a child, I've heard at least once about Inka, but did not know that it is Polish. As an emotional coffee drinker, I want to feel the strong taste of the raw coffee as often as possible, and especially after 10pm, and I still do not encounter any health problems. However, why not trying a change that will limit my portions of coffees at three per day? This was one of the reasons why I decided to invest in Anatol.

I got in exchange 20 nice badges, one per use, in combination with very hot water. Even it is called a 'coffee substitute' it does not substitute the coffeine, at least for me. However, the taste is pleasant, not very strong, not necessarily unforgettable and addictive, but not bad for offering a pleasant company to a busy writing around 12pm - as it is the case now. Compared with the cofee, it is good even after the water is no more warm. With milk, and half tablespoon of brown sugar, it can be even better. 

Overall, it is worth the investment and it is nice to count on him in the kitchen. I wish I know good Polish to find out more about the history of the brand. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Your ecological test

Due to the big pressure I need to face to improve my German, I started to find some useful tools that will help me to improve both the vocabulary and the knowledge in the domains that have connection with my blogging life. 

Thus, I stumbled upon a very interesting publication called: Oeko test. The aim is to carefully test the ecological assumptions of some products labeled as such, but also to check the qualities of some products we use regularly in our kitchen and home.

The publication is very useful for someone that, as me, is very careful to each ingredient of your food, even it is labelles as 100% organic. Some products even do not contain any traces of meat, do include various ingredients that are toxic and with high chemical concentrations. You can find there a lot of reviews and analysis of the latest products on the market, from solar panel, to cotton products. 

I wish I can find the equivalents of this publication in other languages. Till then, I will prefer to use the Oeko Test as one of my reliable sources for shopping projects in Germany. 

Testing recipes is always fun!

Recently, I went involved in a very nice and pleasant project: I offered my availability to test a recipe and to send my feedback once I was done. I am used to do such editing and correction work as an academic editor, but never happened before to do such a professional work for cooking. First and foremost, because I consider my cooking experience at a very beginniner level. I learned a lot and still learning each day, but I have a long road ahead and each time I succeed to prepare a recipe I feel extremely happy.

For this testing recipe experience, I felt compelled to share my own opinions and modest contributions to get a better composition. I enjoyed so much the experience that I would offer myself to repeat it as often as possible, as I learned a lot about using and cooking some spices, as well as about how to organize and write a recipe correctly. As I still have in mind the idea to write my own cooking book, this will help me to be able to write my book at least in the next decade.

If anyone interested to use my disponibility for testing recipes, drop me an invitation at:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Instagram on your plate

Social media diversified amazingly our ways to see the world but also the ways in which we address food. Here it is an example of how we can use Instagram to share and reviews our food options and recommendations!
Bon Appetit and don't text too much while eating!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How our tongue works

As a beginner chef - I did not advanced too much from this position in the last 2-3 years - the most difficult problem was how and why to match various tastes and types of food. Thus, the basic of my learning in terms of food was to know what the foods and spices taste like. It took me some time and I still make mistakes, because I am more attracted to the color combination of different foods I am getting better and better.

When I've read this article in the NYT about the Chemistry Behind Great Food Pairings, I understood that it is more behind a simple match of the foods there are biological explanations requested by the way in which our human body is built. On the other hand, I continue to believe that some tastes and food combinations are part of our anthropolotical genome and that it is not only a matter of biology. 

Our food tells stories not only about our history and culture, but also about our bodies.

Another way to say how much I love salmon

I am this kind of simpleton that I do not care too much about sophisticated methods to prepare and serve the salmon as long as I do have salmon on the table. Usually, it is the easiest product on my Shabbos list and I insist to have it on the menu on other occasions as well. 

When I am waiting for guests, I should be creative and wrap even a modest and tasty piece of salmon in a more sophisticated way. But Sukkot makes me always happy because I add a lot of vegetables and fruits on the plate and many of my worries are naturally solved.

As I was - as usual - out of time, I made the following marvelous combination:

slowly roasted pepper - red and yellow
olive oil
sesame seeds

I kept it in the overn for a couple of minutes to allow all the ingredients communicate and melt a bit properly, but I served it cold, as an hors d'oeuvre. The preparation did not take more than 15 minutes, the roasting stage included. It gives you the feeling of being full (the avocado is guilty for that) and you need a talking break before the next meal. 

That's all. 

Colours of cheese

I am late with more than 10 posts and pictures, but due to other professional and family obligations, I will take it as slowly as possible. Meanwhile, will continue to document new and new post and maybe if one day will dedicate more than 5 hours to blogging will be able to end up with having the plenty of posts I am dreaming about.

Till then, some short visual memories from the last Rosh Hashanah, when in one of the days I served the following colorful combination:

Emmentaller cheese+2 types of camembert+another non-branded sort of cheese
Pomegranate seeds
Olive oil - even though it looks in the picture as honey (and probably it works very well with honey)

With the green tablecloth and the red roses, it created an amazing effect that made the ambiance even more enjoyable. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Claudia Roden and her cooking stories

Claudia Roden writes more than simple recipes, but stories about cultures and old good times. Despite her multicultural, mostly European life, she continued to keep part of her heart connected to the colourful Middle Eastern cuisine whose stories she's telling over and over again.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Why to bake garlic?

As I can hardly resist to add more than 2 cloves of garlic to almost every salty meal, this question does not make too much sense for me. What do you mean by that? Why not baking garlic?

For turning the page to very serious problems, baked garlic is a good idea for eliminating the surplus of water and to make its cooking smoothly. 

The following tip I got while looking reading my Middle Eastern recipes about how to prepare tahini. Thus, I started the cooking by unpeeling the garlic and placing it on the tray of the oven for about 10 minutes. 

The next stop, in the mixer, together with the other ingredients of the tahini.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


One day I will offer myself the pleasure to eat one of the meals made by Chef Meir Adoni, but till then, I would love to read about his recipes, on my iPad. This app, Look and Cook, is not only a source of inspiration for the most sophisticated gourmets, but it is also a challenge for the world of cookbook publishing. 
And, even you may be the most conservative cookbook reader - or eventually, writer too - you would love the amazing possibilities offered by the modern technologies. The visuals - video and photo - are very helpful for a successful cooking experience. In addition, you will not lose too much time by searching various tutorials on YouTube as you have all the necessary ingredients at the same place. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tip of the week: how to make vanilla sugar

When I've read for the first time that even me, the humble chef with a problematic cooking background can have her own vanilla sugar, I was very skeptical. But after reading the recipe, I become fully aware that nothing could be easier.

For instance, you need the following ingredients: 
8 cups of white sugar
one vanilla bean

Pour the cups into a large container with the vanilla bean in the center, tight it and let it set for the next two weeks in a dry space. That's all. You can use the vanilla beam thereafter for other cooking purposes. It is cheap, easy and I can already feel the smell...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Book review: Michael Pollan - Food Rules

My interest in literature on good food and food in general is of a latter date, but the concerns about eating healthy was always present into my life. First and foremost, I was never the type of person keen to eat everything I saw and each decision to taste - or not - a certain food, was carefully considered from various perspectives. It sounds very poetic, but it is how it worked in my case. It involved a careful lecture of the ingredients, details about the production and the brand distributing in. 

As I grew up with my own garden, and even knew for a while to connect to the rhythm of nature - waiting impatiently to pick up the tomatoes or other fruits we had in the garden - I tried as much as possible to be also careful from where I buy my fruits and vegetables. 

Michael Pollan's book is my first 'academic' reading experience, when I not only read an article or some blogs about good food but a well written literary work. In less than two hours you will rediscover the secrets of the good food that for sure our grand and grand grand parents knew so well. It was not only a pleasure for the mind, but also for the eyes, as the book has a lot of good drawings. 

Pollan doesn't lecture about food, but states simple truths, organized in three parts: What should I eat? (Eat food), What kind of food should I eat? (Mostly plants) and How should I eat (Not too much). You need to avoid long list of ingredients - if there are more than five, you better look for another product - the not-so-natural face of your food, the food usually cooked by humans and you, as a human should dedicate more time to preparing the food by yourself. I follow as well most of the advices, including that of consuming moderate meat - in the case of my family, one meal the week.

Eating is not only for getting feed, but also to share a social and cultural experience. The food you eat say something about you and your cultural background. Our busy life and bad habits drove us away from the natural way of eating, but the good news is that more and more people are turning to the old good habits. There are so many recipes waiting to be cooked!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cutting instead of grinding

I am a big fan of various kinds of flavour and I can hardly miss any opportunity to try to smells and tastes, even not necessarily included in the original recipe. I have various old time utensils that help me to do the grinding, but sometimes it doesn't work properly. I want to surprise my guests by offering them the choice of guessing what fine ingredients I used and this is possible only if the spices are finely cut. The ingredients should be cut in a way that will enrich the food by the different aromas that are melt together. 

Through my wonderings from a shop to another, I discovered the products offered by SchneidWerk. From the technical point of view, it is the kind of product that helps a lot the beginner chef, and offers a lot of satisfaction to the professionals in the domain of cooking. It is provided with a stainless steel blade with sharply etched teeth designed to cut spices and dried herbs very fast and efficiently. It works very well with both hard and dried types of spices, such as: anise, chilli, ginger, fennel, coriander, caraway, mustard seed, black and white sesame and  thyme. 

Foto credit: SchneidWerk
The prices are affordable and they are designed to last long. You can find at least six models available, with a friendly design and very easy to use. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

A noble combination

For the long afternoons of the autumn, this treat is a real noble choice.

All you need to make yourself feel special are:

- Camembert cheese

- toast or any black bread - eventually with pumpkin seeds

- fresh figs

- maybe 1-2 drops of olive oil

You can make the plans for the new year while silently listening to the birds getting ready to leave and sipping a good white wine.

Bon Appetit!

Fresh salad for the busy days

What could compare with a good and fresh salad in the morning.
But often, the morning is the worse time of the day to prepare something and often, if we are working a bit late in the evening, we can prepare in maximum 15 minutes a good salad with a lot of vitamins and refreshing 
tastes  that will wait for us in the fridge whatever early in the morning we will head to our office. 

The following salad is something you need for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I cannot have enough of it and I am happy to have it on my menu at least once the week.

I used the following ingredients:

- corn

- avocado

- tomatoes

- parmesan

- same salt

- olive oil

An amazing result will follow!

Bon appetit!

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!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Simple veggie recipes for the Nine Days

After the fast of Tisha B'Av, Sunday will end up the Nine Days at the end of which the consumption of meat is restricted. Thus, the need to find out healthy and tasty recipes that will make people enjoy Shabbat.
Even I am not a Vegetarian, especially during the summer I enjoy eating without meat because I do not need to work too much the recipes. Peeling some onions and carrots, plus some pepper and champignons, the olive oil and I have good food for a hungry gang. 

My bio chickpea flour, the beginning of a new relationship
As I wanted to try something more sophisticated, I tried my hand with a personal version of this wonderful recipe I've found a couple of weeks ago on Food Wanderings, an impressive professional blog. I replaced the eggplants from the original recipe with zucchini. It was my first encouter with the chckpea flour - yes, I know, I am a beginner in so many respects - and most probably I will continue to use it for more variations of the recipe. I only tried with one single slice of eggplant and maybe I should repeat the recipe once again, with eggplant, but probably later in autumn.

The final result, for zucchini: my works are not always worth an exhibition, but eatable though

Kokosmakronen for the summer

As in many other situations, when I am looking for fast inspiration, Elizabeth Wolf Cohen and her 100 authentic recipes of the Jewish kitchen save my day and my reputation. I can travel from an end to another of the world in a simple kosher way. 

A bit too burned but the same tasty makronen
For a long time, I wanted to try the Kokosmakronen which were recommended as a very simple and good looking recipe. Plus, it is adequate for any crisis budget, as you do not need to spend more than $10 for the ingredients. As in many other situations, I prepared it once and the feed-back was so impressive that almost every other 2 afternoons I am kindly requested to get ready for some fresh makronen. In less than one hour you can serve your impatient ones with a light dessert. 

The ingredients requested for this adventure are:

- 4 egg whites
- 1/4 spoon backing powder
- 250 g. sugar
- 1 table spoon lemon juice
- 1 table spoon vanilla - alternatively, I used almond syrup which is stronger but gives a very particular taste and smell
- 275 desiccated coconut

The step-by-step process includes:

1. The egg whites are beaten, while the sugar is added proportionally until you obtain a creamy combination.
2. Add the backing powder and the vanilla together with the desiccated coconut.
3. Prepare the oven at 150C.
4. Add with a spon the content in the special paper forms. I used the usual paper wrapping for muffins, due to the texture of the paper. The forms should be aprox. 1/4 full.
5. Wait until they grow for 40-45 minutes and get ready to taste the Makronen with a good Turkish coffee - as I do as often as possible.

Bon Appetit!

Apples for children

You know, probably, the old saying, one apple the day...

In many Western countries, the health authorities make efforts to encourage children and their parents to prefer the healthy food. Many are taught in school or encouraged by various attractive packages. On the right side, you can admire the funny plastic wrapping for simple, cheap and tasty apples I found in Germany. You can use it for cakes but also for regular use: one, two, three apples the day...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Food and writing consulting with Monica Bhide

Monica Bhide has an amazing story of what does it really mean to be a writer: a lot of work and ambition and the perseverance of never considering that you are too good for not learning something new every day. 

She writes on her blog, is very active on social media, writes and teaches regularly food writing classes. Now, she is decided to make a step further by offering mentoring and one on one consulting services. Anyone with a passion for food writing should try to book at least once a meeting with her in person or virtually. If you are passionate about good books about food, you can participate to her very active and interesting Book Club on Facebook

The wonderful Food of Morocco

After I had a look through Paula Wolfert's book on the Food of Morocco, I know why I am so in love with cookbooks: some are so well done that even though you do not know how to open your heater you will still be happy to read this book over and over again. 

Shortly, the book is about how to cook the Food of Morocco and for each recipe you have a step-by-step description of what you should do for a successful meal. But, as cooking is not only gulping the food from a plastic plate, you will have the perfect ambiance for understanding the culture of Moroccan cuisine. The design of the book is very elegant and the pictures presenting various parts of Morocco are more than a hasty lecture of a hungry person. Till the end of the book you will learn how to cook with style and distinction.

If you are curious to see a sample of what the book could offer, you can access the free sneak peak. Isn't it gorgeous? I promise that soon I will do the sweet couscous recipe!

Fresh for the summer

I hope that everyone has at least 25C and a lot of sun. For me, this is usually the time of the year when I relax, while trying to do all the to-do-lists from the last 10 months or so. Besides my big cup of fresh Turkish coffee, I usually eat light salads. 

For today, the choice was addictively simple:


Cherry tomatoes

Olive oil – my latest love story; I can hardly taste a sandwich without one or two drops of this precious oil on my brown bread

Basil whose presence turns my kitchen into a garden of flavors

Sometimes I add some garlic or onion

If you want some refreshing effects, you need to keep the salad two hours in the fridge. It is exactly what you need for this pleasant time of the year.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Quinoa obsession

I accepted very reluctantly quinoa into my life. First, I have the smell of boiling quinoa - of moistured earth - and second, I did not find anything interesting about the taste. The third consideration against eating it would be the way in which the fresh boiled quinoa looks like.  
Influenced about the sophisticated discourses about how important is this quinoa for our lives, I combined in various ways with vegetables but after 2 tries the badge of quinoa will be abandoned until nothing else to cook around and too late for a rapid shopping. 
But nothing lasts forever, not even my antipathy for quinoa.
Last week I tried a very fancy combination of quinoa with agave syrup, cinnamon and bananas and I switched rapidly at the other end of the scale of feelings for quinoa.
The magic potion is not only delicious, but cut my hunger for the first half of the day. Now, I have another reason for impatiently waiting for the morning.

Summer fruit treat

Summer means a lot of fruits and fresh ideas. And, of course, a lot of sweet obsessions.
My obsession no. 1 in the coming days is this sweet combination of: sugar, blueberries, desiccated coconut and strawberries. Usually, I do not like fruits that need sugar and particularly strawberries, but the entire mixture is so delicious that I can hardly survive two days without it. 
This fruit salad is already part of the story of my summer. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Middle East in your kitchen: Day of Honey, by Annia Ciezadlo

If you wonder if in the last two weeks or so I starved as I did not post anything about my modest fantastic adventures in the world of food, the answer is definitely 'no', and there are a couple of nice posts about good food that I experienced lately coming soon.
On the other hand, I dedicated a lot of my time to reading good books about food and by far, one of the top stars of my busy daily reading schedule is Annia Ciezadlo's Day of Honey
A 'memoir of food and love' the book is an invitation to discover the rich world of the Middle East through the eyes of its food. In many Western cities you might find amazing 'Oriental' or 'Middle Eastern' restaurants, but when it comes to specific cuisines, we can rarely mention any specific dishes. We know and love a lot hummus and taboule and falafel and kebab. But we can hardly name 1-2 dishes of the Iraqi cuisine, for instance, even though according to this book, it is the area from where we have the oldest cookbook. 
Following the advice of one of Annia's teachers according to whom 'if you want to write the story you have to eat the meal', the author invites the reader to taste a new food every chapter as every bit brings new understandings and perspectives on the world she is writing about. 
The short stories of Annia Ciezadlo are mouth-watering and I hardly resisted the temptation to run out of the house and go buying some good rich hummus and pitot to accompany my long hours of the lecture. The smells and tastes of the food are the best way to get accustomed to the world. For example, Annia's first encounter with the family of his boyfriend, in Lebanon, is described in the following way: "The whole place smelled like garlic, beef steak, simmering vegetables, and lemons; to me it smelled like home". 
The lesson learned for the chef-in-process is to use more lemons for the chicken and to understand better the  benefits of good spices added at the right place.
My unhappiness with the book is the absence of sweets as you can often find a lot of main tasty dishes but not too much insights about the dessert culture of the area - at least according to my humble and not-too-sophisticated tastes. 
The verdict of the reader: you need to read this book, whether you are in love with good books or/and food. Especially for those included in the last category, there is more on the book for them. At the end, you will find some of the recipes mentioned in the book waiting for you to try, taste and try to make them better again.
Bon Appetit! Only the memory of this book makes me very hungry again...