food

Fried polenta

Posted on

P1120513My husband hated the polenta, because of a bad childhood memory. Me, I have never eaten it before but I could live without it. Then we were in France (in 2014) at the Cote D’Azur and we went to Camargue and I ordered it in a small, cosy restaurant. I liked it so much I even asked the waitress for some more information about the way it was prepared! Then returning home I interviewed my Italian friend who praised this dish. He couldn’t stop talking about it! He told me that in the past it was the staple food of the poor people in Italy. So I gave a try and prepared a polenta dish and my husband loved it! He found it so delicious he even wanted to be sure it’s really “the polenta” what he disliked so much in the past?

Ingredients: 3 cups milk or water, 1 cup polenta, 2 eggs, butter, oil for frying

Methods: Bring water or milk to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Pour in polenta steadily, stirring constantly. Continue to stir until polenta is thickened. It should come away from sides of the pan, and be able to support a spoon. This can take anywhere from 20 to 50 minutes (not true for me it took 15 minutes non-stop stirring) Pour polenta onto a wooden cutting board, let stand for a few minutes. Then add two eggs, salt and pepper to taste. Make balls or cut out from the dough nice baking forms. Put into oven and bake or fry them in oil.

Polenta is a dish of boiled cornmeal that was historically made from other grains. It may be served as a hot porridge, or it may be allowed to cool and solidify into a loaf that can be baked, fried, or grilled. The dish is associated with Northern  and Central Italy. The only problem with the polenta that it takes a long time to cook, simmering in four to five times its volume of watery liquid for about 45 minutes with near-constant stirring; this is necessary for even gelatinization of the starch. Some alternative cooking techniques have been invented to speed up the process, or to not require constant supervision. Quick-cooking (pre-cooked, instant) polenta is widely used and is prepared in just a few minutes; it is considered inferior to polenta made from unprocessed cornmeal and is best eaten after being baked or fried. That was the way I have done! Polenta can also be prepared with porcini mushrooms, rapini or other vegetables or meats, such as small songbirds (in the case of the Venetian and Lombard dish polenta e osei).

Some Lombard polenta dishes are polenta taragna (which includes buckwheat flour), polenta uncia, polenta concia, polenta e gorgonzola and missultin e polenta—all are cooked with various cheeses and butter, except missultin e polenta, which is cooked with fish from Lake Como where George Clooney lives. In some areas of the Veneto region, it can also be made from white cornmeal (mais biancoperla, once called polenta bianca). In some areas of Piedmont in the northwest, it can also be made from potatoes instead of cornmeal. In the westernmost alpine region, the maize is sometimes combined with local grains like barley and rye (polente bâtarde or polente barbare), and often frichâ and toasted on a loza (thin refractory stone)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buchteln Viennoise with vanilla sauce or strawberry compote

Posted on

1010821_10152049210115830_1150624628_nBuchteln (Buchtel; also Ofennudel, Rohrnudel), are sweet rolls made of yeast dough, filled with jam, ground poppy seeds or curd and baked in a large pan so that they stick together. The traditional Buchtel is filled with plum Powidl jam. In Germany they are often topped with vanilla sauce, powdered sugar or just eaten plain and warm. Buchteln are served mostly as a dessert but can also be used as a main dish.

The origin of the Buchteln is the region of Bohemia, but they play a major part in the Austrian Slovak Slovenian, and Hungarian cuisine too. (In Bavaria the Buchteln are called Rohrnudeln, in Serbian buhtle or buhtla, in Hungarian bukta, in Croatian buhtle, in Polish buchta, and in Czech buchta).

In Vienna the Buchtel has become famous during the period of Biedermeier due to an enterprising innkeeper. Originally, in Vienna yeast delicacies were filled with jam or fruit. The smart innkeeper filled the Buchteln with lottery cards und sold them at a good price. The Viennese were excited and bought many, many Buchteln. Today, the Buchtel is still very popular in Vienna. It tastes especially delicious with vanilla sauce!

Ingredients for 4: 100 ml  milk, 250 g (2 ¼ cups) flour, 35 g (1/8 cup) sugar, 10 g (1/16 cup) yeast, 40 g (1/8 cup) soft butter, 2 egg yolks, salt, 1/2 lemon (rind, grated), flour (for the work surface), butter (melted), icing sugar (for dusting)

For the vanilla sauce: 3 egg yolks, 150 (0,3 pt) ml milk, 125 ml  (0,2 pt) cream, 60 g (1/4 cup) sugar, 1/2 pod vanilla (cut open)

Prepare a sponge with lukewarm milk, yeast and 1/3 of the flour. Dust with a little flour and cover with a cloth. Leave to rise in a warm place. Then add the rest of the flour, sugar, egg yolks, lemon rind a pinch of salt. Knead into a half-stiff dough. Finally, work in some butter. Cover with a cloth and leave to rise again until the bulk has increased considerably.

On a floured surface, roll the dough flat to about 2 cm. With a cutter, cut out pieces about 6 cm in diameter, fold and close the edges tightly at the top. Dip each piece one by one in the melted butter and place them closely side-by-side in a well greased baking tray with the folded edge facing down. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 °C for about 20-30 minutes until golden yellow. Separate them to serve, and sprinkle over icing sugar.

For the vanilla sauce, heat the milk and vanilla pod. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Beat the egg yolks and sugar. Gradually stir in the milk (without the vanilla pod) and keep stirring on medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly. Place the pot in a bowl, filled with iced water and allow to cool, stirring now and again. When the sauce is cold, fold in some whipped cream.

Enjoy with: Sweet wine

PS: Buchteln desserts are the specialty of the Café Hawelka in Vienna and are made according to a very, old and secret family recipe!

 

906584-960x720-buchteln-nach-oesterreichischem-rezept

Roast chicken au Porto

Posted on

P1070301Chicken cream, and mushroom is one of the best combination. This perfectly delicious French recipe is not difficult at all, but it can not be prepared ahead of time or the chicken will lose its fresh and juicy quality!

The chicken is roasted, then carved, flamed in cognac,  (that’s my fav part) and allowed to steep for several minutes with cream, mushrooms and port wine. It is the kind of dish to do when you are entertaining a few good, food loving friends whom you can receive in your kitchen

Ingredients: 60 g flour for dredging, 5 chicken legs, 30 g butter 60 ml port wine, 120 ml dry white wine, 120 ml chicken stock, 250 gr mushrooms, 30 ml heavy cream

Directions

1.      Place the flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken breasts in the flour.

2.      Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in the preheated skillet until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Pour the port, white wine, and chicken stock over the chicken, and add the mushrooms around the skillet.

3.      Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce heat to low, simmer until chicken is fully cooked, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and cover with foil.

4.      Bring the sauce in the skillet to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Whisk in the cream and pour over the chicken to serve. You can accompany dish by parsley potatoes, buttered pasta or fresh vegetable. And a full bodied red Burgundy or Beaujolais!

Stuffed kohlrabi with a twist

Posted on

P1120146.JPGHave you ever eaten kohlrabi? If not it’s high time to give a try. 

Some info about it: These little “UFO”-shaped vegetables come in green or purple, can be eaten raw or cooked, and taste a bit like broccoli stems, but milder and slightly sweeter. And very important to say that kohlrabi is not a root vegetable. It’s a brassica—like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower—and those cute bulbous shapes grow above ground, not below.

Kohlrabi is a rather versatile vegetable when it comes to how to prepare. It is usually eaten raw—peeled, sliced and added to a salad or used for serving with a dip.

Ingredients: 4 medium kohlrabi, 1 large finely chopped onion, 1 1/2 tablespoons butter or oil, 1 pound ground uncooked beef or ground leftover cooked beef, veal, pork or lamb, 2 large eggs, salt and pepper to taste, 1 1/2 cups broth of choice, 1 cup sour cream, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions: Parboil kohlrabi for 20 minutes. Cool until they can be handled. Peel away the tough, outer skin. Cut a bit off the root end so they will stand straight. Cut off the tops and reserve, and scoop out the flesh of the bulbs, leaving at least a 1/4-inch wall, and chop it finely.
In a medium skillet, sauté onions and chopped scooped-out kohlrabi in 1 1/2 tablespoons butter until tender. Transfer to a large bowl, and combine with 1 pound meat of choice, 2 large eggs, 1 finely chopped garlic clove, and salt and pepper to taste.
Stuff hollowed kohlrabi with meat mixture, place in dish and place kohlrabi tops on. Pour the 1 1/2 cups broth of choice over the kohlrabi. Cover and cook for 40 minutes or until tender. Serve with sour cream.

You can use the leaves of the kohlrabi as well! It gives a very unique aroma to dish, its mildly sour flavor similar to Greek stuffed grape leaves!

Almond pancake filled with spinach and peas

Posted on

P1120157.JPGIngredients for the pancake: 160 g flour, (I used Italian chestnut flour), 500 ml almond milk, 3 eggs, 75 gr young spinach, water, salt, oil

For the filling: 120 gr peas, 75 gr spinach or 1 zucchini,  1-2 cloves garlic, grated, fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, 1 teaspoon garam masala (optional), 2 tbsp olive oil or butter, 2 tbsp lemon juice, sea salt, 200 gr goat cheese or feta, ricotta, 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, 100 ml cream

Directions: First prepare pancake! Pour almond milk in a bowl. Add three eggs, a pinch of salt. Place the baby spinach leaves into a mixer. Purée it. Add spinach to almond milk. Add chestnut flour to milk mixture. Spoon 1-2 tbsp of vegetable oil. Start to make pancakes: hit oil, fry pancakes on both sides for 1-to minutes.

When the pancakes are ready put them aside.

Prepare veggies: Sprinkle butter into a frying pan. Squeeze garlics, put to oil or butter. Add grated ginger as well. Simmer both for one minutes then add spinach and peas to dish. Salt and pepper to taste. Flavor with caraway seeds and Garam masala. Pour over some water and 100 ml cream. Wait until liquid evaporates a bit and the veggie filling become dense. Toss some feta cheese on top and cook everything together for one more minutes.

To serve: Fill each pancakes with the veggies. Roll pancakes as you wish, but definitely add more cheese to filling. Garnish them with fresh cilantro.

The almond pancake with chestnut flour is just a sensational treatment for us! It’s fluffy  and light and divine!P1120161.JPG

Forgotten treasure: the purslane

Posted on

798068-960x720-portulak-in-eiersauceLast week I found a weird herb in our local super market. On its label was written: portulak, in English purslane. When I asked the shopkeeper what a “heck” is it, she didn’t have the faintest idea about the herb. It must be a forgotten herb- she added shrugging her shoulders. -Okay, in spite of this I decided to buy it since I like to discover new stuffs. 

Then at home I started to google about the purslane and I have found the next: Common purslane, also known as (verdolaga, portulak, pigweed, little hogweed, red root, pursley) is an annual succulent in the family Portulacea. It contains more omega-3 fatty acids in particular than any other leafy vegetable plant. What?-I exclaimed. I thought omega-3 fatty acids just exists in fish, but not!

Further more studies have found that purslane has 0.01 mg/g of eicosapentaenoic acid as well. It also contains vitamins (mainly vitamin A, C, B,  E, carotenoids)-super!, and dietary minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron. Also present are two types of betalain alkaloid pigments, the reddish betacyanins (visible in the coloration of the stems) and the yellow betaxanthins (noticeable in the flowers and in the slight yellowish cast of the leaves).- I checked my pot plant and yes, the google was right about the colors! Both of these pigment types are potent antioxidants and have been found to have anti-mutagenic properties in laboratory studies. I will see after eating them!

In traditional Chinese medicine. Its leaves are used for insect or snake bites on the skin, boils, sores, pain from bee stings, bacillary dysentery, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, postpartum bleeding, and intestinal bleeding. Use is contraindicated during pregnancy and for those with cold and weak digestion. Purslane is a clinically effective treatment for oral lichen planus. (I don’t want to experience any above mentioned illness or pathological disorders, but in any case it’s good to know!)

Stop to blow its trumpet!- I thought after having learned all those facts about the purslane, I’m totally convinced to eat it.

It has an extensive distribution, assumed to be mostly anthropogenic, throughout the Old World extending from North Africa and Southern Europe through the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent to Australia. The species status in the New World is uncertain: in general, it is considered an exotic weed, however, there is evidence that the species was in  Crawford lake deposits in 1350-1539, suggesting that it reached North America in the pre-Columbian era. –Come on it was a weed!!! Given to pigs!-

Scientists suggested that the plant was already eaten by native Americans, who spread its seeds. How it reached the New World is currently unknown. It is naturalized elsewhere, and in some regions is considered an introduced weed.-You see I ‘ve told you!

Purslane in the history and in the kitchen

Purslane is widely used in East Mediterranean countries, archaeobotanical finds are common at many prehistoric sites. In historic contexts, seeds have been retrieved from the Samian Heraion period dating back to the 7th century BC. In the 4th century BC, Theophrastus names purslane, andrákhne as one of the several summer pot herbs that must be sown in April. As Portulaca-portulak it figures in the long list of comestibles enjoyed by the Milanese given by  Bonvesin de la Riva in his “Marvels of Milan” (in 1288). In antiquity, its healing properties were thought so reliable that Pliny the Elder, advised wearing the plant as an amulet to expel all evil. A common plant in parts of India, purslane is known as sanhti, punarva, paruppu keerai, “gangabayala kura”, or kulfa. (OMG I have eaten kulfa at my best friend’s house! It was divine, If I have thought…)

Although purslane is considered a weed in the United States, it may be eaten as a leaf vegetable. It has a slightly sour and salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Mexico. The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible. Purslane may be used fresh as a salad, stir-fried, or cooked as spinach is, and because of its mucilaginous quality it also is suitable for soups and stews. The sour taste is due to oxalic and malic acid, the latter of which is produced through the pathway that is seen in many xerophytes (plants living in dry conditions), and is at its highest when the plant is harvested in the early morning.

Australian Aborigines use the seeds of purslane to make seedcakes.

Greeks, who call it andrakla  or glystrida, use the leaves and the stems with feta cheese, tomato, onion, garlic, oregano, and olive oil. They add it in salads, boil it, or add it to casseroled chicken.

In Turkey, besides being used in salads and in baked pastries, it is cooked as a vegetable similar to spinach. Similarly, in Egypt, it is cooked as a vegetable stew. Called Bakleh in Syria and Lebanon, is eaten raw in a famous salad called fattoush, and cooked as a garniture in fatayeh (triangular salted pastries).

In Albania, known as burdullak, it also is used as a vegetable similar to spinach, mostly simmered and served in olive oil dressing, or mixed with other ingredients as a filling for dough layers of byrek.

In the south of Portugal, baldroegas are used as a soup ingredient. In Pakistan, it is known as qulfa and is cooked as in stews along with lentils, similarly to spinach, or in a mixed green stew.

Although often identified as a “weed”, purslane is a vegetable rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, a cultivar, sativa, is shown here being grown in a ceramic pot.

My purslane salad looked like this! And yesterday I also prepared an omlette with purslane, fried in butter!purslane-salad

Purslane also finds mention in a translation of the Bible as a repulsive food. Job’s question in Job 6:6: “Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt or is there any taste in the slime of the purslane?” whereas the King James Version translates this verse as “Can that which is unsavory be eaten without salt? Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?”

 

Watermelon & Rose layer cake

Posted on

thumb_600

May is the month of the Rose (11th of May was the day of the Rose) This cake is wonderful to enjoy in late spring and early summer-a foretaste of the flavors to come in the warmer months ahead. The beauty of this cake is the candied rose petal decoration and the pistachios.

Ingredients: 1/4 seedless watermelon, thinly sliced 1/4 cup (60ml) rosewater (see notes), plus extra to drizzle 1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar 2 x 250g punnet strawberries, halved 600ml thickened cream, 225g store-bought sponge cake (18cm x 13cm x 4cm) 2 tablespoons almond meal, slivered pistachios and dried rose petals (see notes), to serve 10 seedless red grapes, halved cooking

Directions

Step 1. Arrange melon on a wire rack in a single layer, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon rosewater and 2 tablespoons sugar, then stand for 30 minutes for flavors to infuse. Pat dry.

Step 2. Meanwhile, combine berries and another 1 tablespoon rosewater in a bowl, then stand for 15 minutes to infuse.

Step 3. Whisk the cream and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with electric beaters until thickened. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon rosewater and whisk until soft peaks.

Step 4. Carefully slice the cake into thirds horizontally. Place one cake layer on a serving plate and sprinkle with a little extra rosewater. Spread over one-third of the cream, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon almond meal and top with half the watermelon. Repeat layers, then top with a final layer of cake and cream. Press grapes and strawberries into the cream, then garnish with pistachios and dried rose petals.