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Fried polenta

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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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roast chicken au Porto

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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!

Watermelon & Rose layer cake

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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.

Marzipan ladybug for Mother’s day

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P1110996.JPGMarzipan is a paste made out of finely ground almonds mixed with sugar. The result is a pliable, edible, non-toxic crafting material, ideal as a substitute for modeling clay. With marzipan, the only potential side effect with accidental ingestion is a sugar high. An incredibly malleable alternative, whatever you can dream up, you can make with marzipan. These farm animals are a good start. With a single tube of marzipan, a small amount of food coloring, and a whole lot of fast little fingers, this project is sure to turn your countertop into a barnyard.
Marzipan can be found at the grocery store or the craft store in the baking department and is easily dyed by adding a tiny amount of food coloring to a clump of marzipan. When dying the marzipan pink, use just a tiny dot of red food coloring, because a little goes a long way with red. One tube of marzipan is enough to make all five farm animals if you are accurate with your measurements of the different colors.

Materials

7 oz tube marzipan paste
Box of assorted food coloring
Black food coloring
Small knife
Toothpick
Clean surface
for rolling balls with your hands

Directions

To get started: First separate a quarter-sized portion of marzipan to make the 10 colored discs for the animals’ eyes. Take the rest and separate it into 5 equal parts so that all the animals are more or less the same size. For each animal, first take a little tiny bit of not colored marzipan and roll into 2 little discs for the whites of the eyes. Then proceed with the instructions for each animal.

Ladybug

Step 1: Draw a beetle shape on a black cardboard and cut it out. Put it away.

Step 2: Take your marzipan portion for the bug and dye it all red using the tiniest dab of red food coloring. Mix the dye in well, making sure there are no streaks.
Step 3: Make 6 little, black balls for the dots.
Step 4: Use the rest to make a bigger black head. Arrange the black balls on both sides three, nicely (push them into marzipan with your fingers). Put the eyes on the head. Place the bug on the cardboard paper and glue it with icing sugar.

 

Green asparagus cream soup

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This is a delicious asparagus soup with the help of a little lemon juice or 1 spoon of Mirin, it is puréed but still silky. With bruscetta or ciabatta slices it is an amazing spring dish!

Ingredients: 400 g fresh, green asparagus , woody ends removed, olive oil, 1 leek, trimmed and chopped, 1 liter organic vegetable or chicken stock, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, 4 slices ciabatta bread, 1 knob butter, extra virgin olive oil

1.   Chop the tips off your asparagus and put these to one side for later. Roughly chop the asparagus stalks. Get a large, deep pan on the heat and add a good lug of olive oil. Gently fry the finely chopped leek for around 10 minutes, until soft and sweet, without coloring. Add the chopped asparagus stalks and stock, and flavor with one tablespoon of Mirin (Japanese vinegar) and simmer for 20 minutes with a lid on. Remove from the heat and blitz with a hand-held blender or in a liquidizer. Season the soup bit by bit (this is important) with salt and pepper until just right. Put the soup back on the heat, stir in the asparagus tips, bring back to the boil and simmer for a few more minutes until the tips have softened.

2. Toast the ciabatta slices. Put into a knob of garlicy butter and fry them. To serve, divide the soup between 4 warmed bowls and place a piece of toast into each. Season soup if it is needed and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil or Worcestershire sauce.

 

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Tons of avocados on 5th of May

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May 5th has arrived, and with it come extravagant Cinco de Mayo (Cinco de Mayo translates to the Fifth of May) celebrations around USA. The day is widely recognized as a time to drink margaritas, eat guacamole and celebrate Mexico’s cultural heritage, many people know relatively little about the true meaning of the Mexican holiday. To clear up some misconceptions, here are some important facts about the celebration of heritage and culture: first of all it is not the Mexican Independence Day! It is celebrated on September 16.

Cinco Mayo, honors the Battle of Puebla that took place May 5, 1962. During the battle, also known as El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla, a group of only 2,000 Mexicans was outnumbered by 10,000 French troops. But only 100 Mexican soldiers died, while the French lost about 500 in the battle..

The holiday is celebrated more in the United States than elsewhere. Though it’s heralded as a Mexican tradition, the holiday is a far bigger deal in the U.S, especially in regions with large Mexican-American populations. In Mexico, the largest celebrations take place in Puebla and Veracruz, where military re-enactments are held. Costumed revelers dance through the streets of south Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the annual Carnival de Puebla, a traditional Mexican carnival celebration that re-enacts the Battle of Cinco de Mayo, Apr. 27, 2014. 

One of the most popular dishes eaten in Mexico on Cinco de Mayo is mole poblano, a thick chocolate sauce served over meats and other items. Some favorite recipes include Chalupas, or fried tortillas, and Chiles en Nogada, or peppers stuffed and fried.

The world’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebration takes place in Los Angeles. Known as the Festival de Fiesta Broadway, the 2017 event was expected to bring an estimated 300,000 people.

The U.S. drinks an exorbitant amount of tequila to celebrate the holiday. In 2014, Americans bought 12.3 million cases of tequila for Cinco de Mayo, twice as much as was consumed in Mexico, according to the Daily Meal. About 43 percent of all cocktails ordered on the holiday in the U.S. were margaritas. Americans also eat a ton of avocados on the holiday. More than 81 million avocados are consumed on Cinco de Mayo, according to the California Avocado Commission!

Here it is an Avocado dream cream dessert for you:

Ingredients: ¼ cup mascarpone cheese, 14 cup cold whipping cream, 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup diced ripe avocado, (from Mexico, hehe, divided, but you can replace avocado with apples or raspberry), Amarettini, Italian biscuits with almond taste

Directions: Combine mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, condensed milk, and ½ cup of diced avocados in a large mixing bowl.

With an electric mixer, beat all ingredients together until smooth and creamy.

Fold in remaining ½ cup of diced avocados into avocado cream.

Transfer/layer to serving glasses (the cream is in the middle). Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Garnish with diced avocado, or amarettini almond biscuits and serve with some exotic fruit, such as physalis (Optional).

Above on the picture there is a Toast with avocado, which is made with garlic, chilli, pepper, Mexican guacamole mix spice, half of a lemon juice, and caraway seeds was added to avocado cream as well.

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Turnip or rutabaga soup

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I spent my Easter holiday in Brussels and on one day I popped in the local market and I’d discovered an interesting vegetable. I asked the seller what is it and she told me that it is called navet! But what is navette or navet?- I asked back. She gave the next explanation: it is a sort of turnip or rutabaga. And here people make soup from it using the leaves as well. It is a precious vegetable because the roots contain vitamin A, K, C, Kalium and the leaves the important lutein. Okay, learning all those facts I bought a bunch of “turnip” (1,60 euros pro bunch) and decided to make a soup from it. The market lady suggested me to add some potatoes to veggie, and not to forget to use the leaves!-shouted she to me from far distance. Seeing this beautiful, rosy vegetables my daughters became very curious and they offered their help at cooking.

The outcome was a rich turnip soup! From that humble vegetable I achieved to make a creamy soup with just 1 tablespoon of butter. I served it as a starter (it can be topped with a mini salad who loves the bit of texture from the greens and pop of flavor from the vinaigrette).

Ingredients:  4 medium turnips/navets (about 1½ pounds) plus 1½ cups thinly sliced turnip greens or spinach, divided, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 medium onion, sliced, ½ teaspoon dried rosemary, ½ teaspoon salt plus a pinch, divided, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper plus a pinch, divided, 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, ¼ cup shredded carrot, 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion greens, 2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar

Peel and slice turnips. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the turnips, rosemary, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon white pepper; stir to combine. Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, for 10 minutes.

Add broth, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the turnips are tender, 10 to 12 minutes more.

Meanwhile, toss the turnip greens (or spinach) in a medium bowl with carrot, scallion greens, vinegar, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and pinch of salt and pepper.

Puree the soup in the pan using an immersion blender or transfer to a regular blender and blend until smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Serve each portion of soup topped with a generous ¼ cup of the salad.P1110794

In England, the turnip is popular to be boiled together with carrots and served either mashed or pureed with butter and ground pepper. The flavored cooking water is often retained for soup, or as an addition to gravy. Swede (Rutabaga or turnip) is an essential vegetable component of the traditional Welsh lamb broth called cawl and Irish Stew as eaten in England. Swede is also a component of the popular condiment Branston Pickles. The swede is also one of the four traditional ingredients of the pastry originating in Cornwall.

In Canada they are considered winter vegetables, as along with similar vegetables they are able to be kept in a cold area or cellar for several months. However in Germany it is called May roots (Mairüben). They are primarily used as a side dish. They are also used as filler in foods such as mincemeat and Christmas cake.

In the US, turnip is mostly eaten as part of stews or casseroles, served mashed with carrots, or baked in a pasty. They are frequently found in the New England boiled dinner.

Despite its popularity elsewhere, the turnip in German Mairüben, is considered a food of last resort in both Germany and France due to its association with food shortages in World War I and World War II. Boiled stew with turnip and water as the only ingredients (Steckrübeneintopf) was a typical food in Germany during the famines and food shortages of World War I. and between 1945 and 1949. As a result, many older Germans had unhappy memories of this food.P1110792.JPG