12/23/2014

Yule log

Yule log

In my recipe booklet I had a French recipe of Yule log - Buche du Noel au chocolat - since long ago. One day I decided to prepare it and it was wonderful. Since then, every year I have a Yule log on my dinner table on Christmas days.

Biscuit: 4 eggs, 4 spoonfuls of all purpose flour, 4 spoonfuls of sugar.
Cream: 1 stick of non-salted butter (200 g), 300 g sugar, 4 tablespoons of cocoa, 2 yolks, 2 teaspoonfuls of rum essence.

Preheat the oven first. Mix very well the yolks with the sugar until the color becomes lighter and the composition becomes creamy. Then add the flour, little by little. Mix the whites separately until stiff peak, then incorporate the first mixture to egg whites, slightly.
Put the composition in a pan, on oiled baking paper, and leave in the oven at medium heat (180 C) for about 20 minutes. Test it with a toothpick to see when it's ready. Then quickly remove the biscuit from the pan, attentively remove the baking paper and roll it quickly, several times, in a very clean, damp cloth. Then leave the biscuit aside

The cream:
Put the butter, sugar and cocoa in a bain marie until the mixture melts and begins to boil. Set aside, stir well with a wooden spoon and add the rum essence. Keep mixing with the spoon until it gets colder, and then incorporate the yolks. Cool the chocolate cream in the fridge for a while.

After the cream has cooled, cover the biscuit with half of it, roll it, put the roll on a plate, then cut the ends of the roll to get two knots and stick them to the roll as if it were a log. Cover the cake with the remaining cream and make stripes with a toothpick along the "tree bark". The Yule log is almost ready. Garnish as you like, then leave in a cold place for several hours before serving.

Enjoy!

Yule log


12/18/2014

Frittata con zucchini (omelette)


Frittata con zucchini (omelette)

 Frittata is an Italian dish, in fact it's an omelette where the eggs are mixed with different ingredients. For example the zucchini omelette - frittata con zucchini, in Italian - contains 5 eggs, 2 medium size zucchini, onion to taste, one or two green peppers, salt, white pepper, parmiggiano for the topping, olive oil.

Method

Frittata con zucchini (omelette)Beat the eggs with a fork, then add salt and pepper and leave aside. Wash thoroughly the zucchini and then cut them into very slim slices, after peeling them. You may also chop them if you like. Fry them in oil at medium heat, into a non-adherent pan. Then add the onion, chopped a la julien, the green pepper chopped into slices and after 3-4 minutes add the beaten egg. Don't mix the omelette, just lower the heat and put a lid on the pan. In several minutes it should be ready. Grate some parmiggiano (cheese) on the top, turn the heat off and finally transfer the frittata con zucchini on a plate. Serve hot as well as cold.

Enjoy!

Frittata con zucchini (omelette)

11/29/2014

Chocolate cupcakes

Perhaps there is not such a difficult or special recipe, but these cupcakes are beautifully decorated so they could stay on a festive table, for example on a Christmas dinner.

Chocolate cupcakes


Ingredients: 1 stick of butter, 400 g sugar (0.9 lb), 2 tbs of cocoa, 130 ml of milk (4.5 oz) , 4 eggs , 300 g flour (3+1/3 cups), baking powder, rum essence, 600 g chocolate cream to decorate (1.5 lb).


Chocolate cupcakes
Firstly, preheat the oven at about 180 C/ 356 F. Put the butter, sugar, milk and cocoa on low temperature fire and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved. Leave aside to cool. In the meantime mix the whites until stiff peaks. When the other mixture is completely cooled, add the yolks one at a time, stirring well, then add the flour, the baking powder, the rum essence, and in the end add the egg whites stirring gently with downwards movements. Pour the mixture into the cupcakes shapes, where you previously placed brown cupcake papers, then bake in preheated oven at medium heat,  for about 15-20 minutes. (The amount is enough for  24 cupcakes.)

When they are ready, remove the cupcakes from the shapes and leave aside to cool. Decorate with chocolate cream on top and any other chocolate decoration you wish.

Enjoy!

Chocolate cupcakes


11/02/2014

Mini fruits tarts

Mini fruits tarts

Sometimes I feel like baking some real cakes, more elaborate or sophisticated. So, today I made some mini tarts with vanilla cream and fresh fruits on top coated in jelly. No matter if it's a rather time consuming cake, it is worth the effort.

For the dough you need one stick of butter (250 g/0.55 lb), 12 tbs of flour (300g/0.67 lb), 3 tbs of sugar (75g/2.65 oz), 2 yolks, vanilla (one sachet), a pinch of salt.

For the vanilla cream - the easiest way is to buy a pack of vanilla cream from the market and to follow the instructions. The more difficult way, meaning the vanilla milk-sugar-and-flour cream, will be described in one of my next recipes. 

For the topping - strawberries, grains, slices of orange or any other fruits you like, and jelly.

The dough is enough for 14 - 15 tarts. Mix the butter with the sugar for about 5 minutes, or unless the sugar is dissolved into the butter and the compositions is very creamy. Add the yolks, one by one, salt, vanilla and the flour at the end. You will get a rather soft dough to coat the oiled tarts cups with it. When the dough is done, place the cups on a tray and bake in the preheated oven at medium temperature for about 45 minutes or until the tarts become light brown. Remove the tarts from the cups immediately and gently because the dough is very fragile. Then let aside to cool and make the vanilla cream after the indications.

Mini fruits tarts

When the tarts are cold, fill them with vanilla cream mixed with small pieces of fruits. If you want that the cream to be more adherent, brush some jam on the interior of the tarts before filling them with vanilla cream. Then decorate the top with slices of fruits and raisins or strawberries, depending on the season. Leave aside for about 30 minutes and then cover the top with a thin layer of fruity jelly.

It's a delicious cake, good for a special occasion as well as for a family Sunday lunch.

Enjoy!

Mini fruits tarts

10/30/2014

Breakfast muffins

Breakfast muffins

I tried them once and it was love at first sight and I felt I had to try them again. They are so easy-to-do and so tasty. The breakfast muffins recipe bellow was adapted from a German recipe booklet, but I can't say it's a German recipe. Every and each of you could do and enjoy it as well.

Ingredients :
- Mix 1 : a cup and a quarter of flour (250 g), a teaspoon of salt, a baking powder sachet .
- Mix 2 : 2 large eggs, 3/4 cup (150 ml) milk, 1/4 cup (50 ml) oil.
- Filling: 100 g Parmesan, a thick slice of ham, chicken chest (fried), a thick slice of bacon,  green onion, a small carrot, finely chopped parsley leaves, 5-6 olives.

Preheat the oven at a medium temperature.
All the ingredients for the filling must be cut into small, cube-shaped pieces if possible.

Breakfast muffins

Mixture no 2: beat the eggs, add the oil and incorporate the milk into the composition. Mixture no 1: mix the flour with salt and baking powder with a spoon, then add the mixture number 2.  Homogenize then add the ingredients from the filling and mix everything gently with a spoon.

Breakfast muffins

Fill the muffin cups (filled 1/2 or 3/4 full) after you have greased the cups with butter. Decorate on top with sliced ​​olives, then brush every muffin with beaten egg. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. They are done when they pass the toothpick test and their edges are light brown. Then remove them from the cups and serve, warm or cold, it doesn't matter, they will disappear fast from the table.

Enjoy!




10/24/2014

Salade a la russe

Salade a la russe

The way we prepare this salad at home is very different from the original salad invented by chef Olivier at the Hermitage restaurant in Moscow, more than 130 years ago.  It is said that the Olivier salad contained many exotic ingredients, such as lobsters, capers, or French wine in the mayonnaise sauce. The recipe suffered many transformations along the time and the original ingredients were replace with more accessible ones, depending on the country or region.

The name of this salad became a la russe or even boeuf salade, accordingly to what kind of meat it contains: chicken or beef.

The ornamental snake shaped salad you see in the pictures is prepared as it follows: one large chicken breast, 3-4 large carrots, 3 large parsley roots, 5-6 potatoes, a celery, a large jar of pickled cucumbers, 1 lbs mayonnaise, salt, pepper, 2 tbs of mustard. The quantity of meat should be about 30-40% of the total quantity of salad.

Salade a la russe

Peel the vegetables off (except the potatoes and the cucumbers), wash them, wash the meat and put them to boil in water. The potatoes must be boiled separately, unpeeled. When they are done, throw the water away and leave the ingredients aside to cool. In the meantime you can chop the cucumbers in small cubes and then squeeze them in your hands, or you can prepare the mayonnaise sauce. Then peel the potatoes off and chop all the vegetables and the meat in small cubes, of the same size if possible. Mix everything in a large vase adding salt, pepper and a few tablespoons of mustard, to taste.

Add about 3/4 lbs of mayonnaise and mix carefully, leaving aside 3-4 tbs of mayonnaise to cover the salad with after you put it on a large plate. Then arrange on a plate and decorate with boiled eggs, olives, cucumbers, etc. Usually we serve this salad during a more sophisticated meal, for example on Christmas.

Salade a la russe

The ornamental salade a la russe - phases of the preparation:


Salade a la russe
Salade a la russe
Salade a la russe



Enjoy!

10/22/2014

Spaghetti alla carbonara

Spaghetti alla carbonara

I love Italian food so I make from time to time spaghetti, lasagna or pizza. Today was the time for spaghetti alla carbonara.

I  used a bunch of thin spaghetti and I boiled it in water with a pinch of salt for 8-10 minutes. They should be boiled only al dente (the core of the spaghetti stick remains hard) but I must confess I don't like pasta al dente, I like it well done. Meanwhile I made the carbonara sauce as it follows: a few slices of bacon slightly fried in olive oil, mixed with 2 whole eggs, grated Parmesan cheese (parmiggiano), salt and black pepper. Optionally you can add some garlic cut into very small pieces. The sauce is combined then with the hot spaghetti immediately after they are done and the water is removed.

The sauce must be creamy and the eggs should not coagulate at all. It's a delightful meal that gives you pleasure and energy for the whole day :)

Enjoy!

Spaghetti alla carbonara



10/20/2014

Foret Noire cake

Foret Noire cake

The black forest cake has been on my waiting list of to do cakes, since long time ago. I've had it written in an old recipe book for about 15 years, though I don't understand why I haven't prepared it so far, because I am fond of the cakes combining the chocolate and the sour cherries.

I used:

- for the biscuit: 10 eggs, 10 tablespoons of sugar, 8 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons of cocoa, one baking powder sachet, one vanilla sugar sachet, rum essence (or 50 ml of rum).
- 250 g (0.5 oz) or up to taste, whipped cream mixed with lemon zest
- 300 g sour cherries
- 300 ml rum or fruity liqueur.
- chocolate glaze or sour cherries to decorate

Method
Preheat the oven at about 180 C / 356 F
Mix the egg whites first, then add the sugar and continue mixing until stiff peak. Then add egg yolks one at a time, rum essence and vanilla, and at the end add the flour mixed with baking powder and cocoa. This last step may be done with a wood spoon or with an electric hand whisk at low speed.

Spread this mixture into a cake pan of 28 cm/11 inch diameter (or a rectangular pan), greased with oil or covered with baking paper, about 40 minutes over medium heat. It's done when it passes the toothpick test. After cooling, remove the paper and then cat horizontally into 2 layers.

Moist the layers of biscuit with rum or any other fruity liqueur (cherry would be just perfect) then spread some sour cherries on it, fill with the whipped cream, spread again some sour cherries (without their cores) then cover with the second layer of biscuit.

For decoration you may use some cherries or a thin layer of chocolate glaze.
It's a fine, delicious and lightly alcoholic cake (not for children!) that would go with a fine meal as well as with an usual dinner or family lunch.
Enjoy!

Foret Noire cake

6/16/2014

Strawberries sorbetto

Strawberries sorbetto
Here is another Italian recipe, the sorbetto being a combination of an ice cream and a fresh, cold syrup. It's ready in 15 minutes, and you have to keep it in the freezer at least 4 hours before serving.

You need:
- one cup of water and 5 tbsp of sugar
- 1/2 cup of mineral carbonated water
- 8-10 strawberries
- the juice of a lemon (or a lime)

Make a syrup from water and sugar. Blend the strawberries and mix them with the carbonated mineral water and the lemon juice. Then add the syrup to the whole composition. Leave it in the freezer to cool or to freeze.

You may serve the sorbetto frozen, as an ice cream, or just very well cooled, as a drink.

Enjoy!


6/10/2014

Snow White cake

Snow White cake

This is an old recipe from Eastern Europe, a cake with 3 layers of sponge and 3 layers of lemon white cream, covered with caster sugar on top. It may have different names in different countries but Snow White is its name in Romania, though I can't tell you why it is called like that.

Ingredients for. 3 sheets
- 2 eggs
- 1 stick of unsalted butter (200 g)
- 5 tablespoons of sugar (about 150 g)
- 3 tablespoons milk (about 75 ml)
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- vanilla essence, lemon zest
- all purpose flour about 350 g
Lemon cream:
- 200 g sweet cream
- 6 tbsp of caster sugar and extra for decoration
- 1 stick of butter
- the zest and juice from 1-2 lime lemons
- vanilla essence

Method:

Mix the eggs and the sugar until the sugar completely melts. Add the butter which should have the room temperature, mix again, then add the vanilla, the lemon zest, and in the end the flour and baking powder, little by little to get a dough that can be layered in sheets. Leave it for about 20 minutes to rest.
Then divide the dough into 3 balls and form the sheets, by pressing the dough with your palms and fingers, directly into the oiled trays. They should not be higher than a pencil. Leave them in the preheated oven at medium heat (170 C) for about 25 minutes in the oven until they become golden brown. When ready, remove immediately from the tray(s) and let them cool on a wire.

Snow White cake

The cream: mix the butter and sugar until you get a creamy composition, then add vanilla essence, lemon zest and juice (continue to mix at a low speed) and finally the cream (mix at speed no 1 or manually with a spoon). You should obtain a fine, soft lemon cream. If it's too fluid, don't bother, the extra juice will soften the sponge layers.

When the sponge layers are cool, spread the cream on every layer and cover the last cream layer with caster sugar, or with caster sugar and coconut zest. The Snow White cake is ready to be served after several hours when the cream softened very well the sponge sheets.

Enjoy!

Snow White cake


If you liked it, please, share it!

Facebook Share






6/04/2014

Chicken sour soup

Chicken sour soup

The sour soup is a very common first dish for lunch in the Balkans area, Eastern Europe, Russia, Turkey and perhaps Middle Asia. It's name is, in fact, borsch (of Russian origin) or tchorba (Arabian and Turkish origin). This kind of soup is sour because you must add some sour liquid such as buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar or borsch, which is a special sour liquid obtained from hot water and wheat bran left to get sour for 1-2 days. I generally prefer to add buttermilk, yogurt or
home-made borsch.

For the chicken sour soup I used:
- 500 g (1 lbs) of chicken meat (wings and back), 
- 2-3 medium onions,
- one carrot and one parsley root of about 200 g each, 
- 1.5 - 2 liters of  water, 
- salt, pepper, 
- one handful of green parsley, 
- 400 g of buttermilk or yogurt, 
- sunflower or olive oil, 
- sour cream, 
- hot pepper, lovage (optional). 

Firstly wash the meat and cut it into smaller pieces then put it in a pot to boil on medium heat. When it starts boiling and a grey foam rises, remove the foam, or throw the water away and start boiling one again in fresh water. Finely chop the onion and put it in a sauce pan with oil to soften it at rather low temperature. When it is just soften, before getting fried, remove the pan from the heat and add the composition to the boiling chicken meat. The carrot and the parsley root must be washed, peeled and medium grated. Add it to the boiling broth. Leave it to boil at medium to low temperature, with a lid on the pot, until the meat is done. Add water if necessary, it shouldn't be less than 1 liter left. At the end add the buttermilk or yogurt and bring to boil for several minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, then remove from the heat. Immediately add the finely chopped green parsley and 3 or 4 chopped leaves of lovage, if you like it.

You can serve it hot, with a tbsp of sour cream in it and with hot pepper.

Enjoy! :)

Chicken sour soup


5/31/2014

Mini-eclairs

Mini-eclairs

A classical French recipe and a great dessert filled with vanilla and cocoa cream.
Ingredients for the pastry:
- 1/2 cup of unsalted butter or vegetable oil plus extra for greasing the tray
- 1 cup of water
- a pinch of salt
- 1 cup of all purpose flour
- 4 eggs

Fillings:
- 2 1/2 cups of milk
- a stick of butter
- 1 cup of sugar
- 2 tbsp of cocoa
- 3 tbsp. of flour
- vanilla essence

Glaze:
- white chocolate bar
- dark chocolate bar
- 4 tbsp. of milk
- 4 tbsp. of sugar

Put the water, butter or oil and salt into a medium-sized pan and heat until the butter has completely melted. Then bring the mixture to the boil and add all the flour in one go. Immediately start rapidly beating the flour with a wooden spoon while removing the pan from the heat. The mixture will look messy at first but will soon transform into a smooth and heavy dough. Leave it to cool a little then add the eggs one at a time (the dough shouldn't be hot, because the eggs could coagulate) stirring with the same wood spoon. Finally you'll get a soft, glossy dough. With a pastry tube and a tip, pipe the dough in small balls on the greased tray. Make sure that you leave spaces between the balls of dough because it doubles the volume after baking. Put the tray in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes, at a medium to high temperature (450 F or 180-190 C). When ready, gently remove the mini-eclairs with a knife from the tray and leave them aside to cool.

Mini-eclairsMini-eclairs









The fillings - whisk the milk, sugar and flour then put it in a bain-marie pan (the pan with the mixture stays in another pan with boiling water) whisking with a hand whisk. When it boils whisk almost all the time, because if you don't, the cream may stick to the pan bottom. Add the vanilla essence and let it boil until the composition starts bubbling. At this point, if you take some of it on a knife blade it should stay firm and easily removes from the metal. Remove the cream from the heat and then add the butter. When the composition is homogenized, separate in two and add the cocoa in a half of the cream.

When the mini-eclairs are cool, cut down the length of one side of each eclair and pipe in the vanilla and cocoa cream. When all are filled, melt each chocolate bar (of 80-100 g each) in 2 tbsp. of milk and 2 tbsp. of sugar on low temperature until the icing is fluid. Then decorate the mini-eclairs, let them cool and serve.

Enjoy!

Mini-eclairs

5/27/2014

Amaretto ice cream


Amaretto ice cream

I remember some years ago I was in a cafeteria in Strasbourg and I wanted to buy some ice cream. One of it was called Amaretto and it was white and pink with some dark red veins. I hesitated as I did not know what could it be. Someone in the group of tourists bought an order and so I found it was bitter cherry ice cream.

These days, when temperatures are growing, I feel like eating ice cream all day long :) Therefore I dared to make Amaretto ice cream.

I used a base of lemon ice cream:
- 150 g yogurt 
- 200 g sour cream (whole)
- juice and zest of one lemon
- 100 g powdered sugar 
- 100 ml whipped cream 
- 150 g bitter cherry jam.

Mix the yogurt, sour cream, sugar and whipped cream until fluffy. Add the lemon juice and zest. Then add bitter cherry jam, stirring it gently with a spoon, and then leave in the freezer for at least 5-6 hours. When serving add bitter cherry syrup over the ice cream cups. For the syrup, combine 1 tbs of jam with 2 tbs of hot water.


Enjoy!


Amaretto ice cream

5/22/2014

Roman salad with grilled chicken chest

Roman salad with grilled chicken chest

When summer comes, I often eat a salad instead a main course. So, I made myself a Roman salad with grilled chicken chest, a healthy and tasty  dish. As the name says, it's an Italian, even Roman, traditional recipe, and you might find it in the menus of those many trattoria restaurants if you visit the beautiful Rome.

It contains:

- Roman green salad,
- One  large tomato
- Celery
- Carrot,
- Cabbage white (or red)
- Cucumbers,
- Olive oil (or mayonnaise)
- Lemon juice,
- Salt to taste
- grilled chicken chest
- Mozzarella cheese


Grate equal quantities of celery, carrots and cabbage. Then place a few leaves of a Roman salad (it has long leaves) in a bowl and the rest of it cut in thin strips. Cut the cucumbers in slices, then chop the grilled chicken chest in small pieces. Mix everything with olive oil or mayonnaise then add some salt. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Slice the tomato and garnish the bowl with it, then add the salad in the middle. At the end grate some Mozzarella cheese on top of your salad. Decorate with a slice of lemon.

Enjoy!

5/20/2014

Eggplant Salad

Eggplant Salad

This is one of my favorite salads since I was a kid. Some people say it's not healthy for our liver. But I eat huge quantities whenever I get the chance, and I have never had any problems. I have problems only when I feel like eating eggplant salad and I don't have eggplants in my kitchen. This is why I chose to preserve it in small glass jars for winter.

But today I am writing the recipe of fresh eggplant salad, the way I know it from my mother, who has a Greek origin. The eggplant salad is not made with baked eggplants, as I saw on the internet. The original Greek recipe is made with burned (grilled) plump eggplants.

Ingredients:

- 3-4 plump eggplants
- about 1/2 cup of olive oil
- salt to taste
- a finely chopped onion (optional)
- 3-4 tbsp. of mayonnaise (optional)

First of all the eggplants must be grilled, exactly like meat, except that for a longer time, about 20 minutes. You have to place the eggplants on a grill or directly on the gas-fire, and turn them on every side until they soften inside and the peel gets burned. Then put the eggplants in a sink and after they cool a little, remove the burnt peel then wash the core carefully and leave it in a sieve to drain because a too washy salad doesn't taste so good.

Eggplant Salad

Eggplant Salad

After one hour you can chop the eggplant cores with a chopper, or you can blend it in a blender. Then add the oil and salt, mix them well and that's your eggplant Greek salad. If you like, you can add an onion very finely chopped, the taste it's even better. I always add some mayonnaise because it enriches the salad and gives it a special white greenish color. In the pictures where there is a slice of bread and meatballs, the salad contains mayonnaise.

Eggplant Salad

If you want to preserve it, there are more ways to do it, for example, after the cores are drained, you can put them into the freezer and use them whenever you want a salad. Or you can prepare the salad (without onion) and put it into very well capped jars. Then the jars should be boiled in water (to sterilize the salad) for about 1 hour at a medium-low temperature, and when they are cool, leave them in a cold and dry place.

Enjoy!

Eggplant Salad

5/18/2014

Strawberry ice foam

Strawberry ice foam

It's a very simple ice cream and you can add any other ingredient you wish and find tasty.

For the strawberry ice foam you need about 2 cups of strawberries (they should be very well ripped, because you need them juicy, flavoured and sweet) that you will blend to very small pieces. You can chop 5 or 6 strawberries and let them aside.

Strawberry ice foam

Take 3 tablespoons of the strawberry purree and mix it with 3 tbsp of powder sugar until you get a syrup. Leave it in the fridge. Now separate 4 eggs and mix the whites and 4 tbsp of sugar with an electric whisker until you obtain a stiff peak meringue. Add the strawberry purree little by little and gently mix the composition with a spoon. Add the chopped strawberries too in this foam of meringue and strawberry purree. Put the foam in some cups or other forms for ice cream, and leave them in the freezer far 5-6 hours or more. When you serve, just sink the cups in hot water for several seconds, and then the ice foam will be easy to remove. Add a topping of strawberry syrup and enjoy it!

5/17/2014

Fish roe salad


It's true that's a trifle, but who can refuse a sandwich with cucumber and roe salad? :) In fact, I can't tell you why we call it salad, because it is just a kind of paste, more like mayonnaise then a true salad. Anyway, it is a very appreciated appetizer in the whole Balkan area, mainly in Greece.

 We make it with carp roe generally, but not fresh roe, because the taste isn't the same. We use to preserve the fish roe with salt, in a jar and use it whenever we need.

Ingredients for about 200 g/ 1 cup of fish roe salad:
- 2 teaspoon2 full of carp roe preserved with salt,
- the core of a slice of bread soaked in milk,
- 150 ml vegetable oil,
- the juice of a lemon (or lime).
- (optional) one medium size onion

Fish roe salad Fish roe salad Fish roe salad


 Squeeze the slice of bread and mix it until smooth with fish roe. Then pour little by a little the oil stirring all the time in the same direction with a wooden spatula until it becomes consistent, then pour a little lemon juice, homogenize again, then pour a little oil, homogenize, and repeat pouring oil and lemon juice, continuously stirring the salad in the same direction until it becomes like a smooth paste of a rather pink-white colour. If you like, you can very finely chop an onion and then add it to the fish roe salad. It's more tasty like this!

Enjoy!

Fish roe salad