Monday, December 27, 2010
I have to admit, I was not blogging too much lately. But I just came back to Greece few days ago and I was meeting with friends, picking up and dropping off people at the airport and of course...shopping! So, I really did not have time. Sorry for that! The truth is that I did not have time for cooking either. But I felt a bit guilty, so I went through old pictures and found out a picture of a fried double egg that I have on the head of this blog. Also, Arturinho was asking for this recipe from the beginning of my blog, so here it comes.
(for each omelet)
50gr Feta cheese, mashed
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced
3 slices smoked ham
1 small tomato
60gr mozzarella cheese, cut in 6 pieces
6 fresh basil leaves
some butter for frying
ground black pepper to taste
egg ring of any shape (optional)
1. Separate egg whites from yolks.
2. In a small bowl mix the egg whites, Feta cheese, onion and garlic. Spice with some black pepper. Don't add any salt as Feta is already salty enough.
3. In a pan with non-stick surface melt some butter. Place an egg ring (if using) in the middle and pour inside the cheese mix. Place the two egg yolks on top of the omelet. Close the lid, lower the heat and let the eggs cook until the whites are firm and cooked through.
4. On a plate arrange the ham. Place the omelet on top.
5. Cut the tomato in 6 pieces. In each basil leaf place a piece of mozzarella and a piece of tomato. Arrange them around the omelet and it's ready to eat.
Really nice way to wake up your beloved once in the morning! ;)
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Apple pie was the first thing I ever baked all by myself. I was something around 11 I think. Before that I helped my mom bake many cookies and pies and cakes and...
My mom has this "cooking book" which is pretty much an agenda which my grandma filled with her recipes when my mom got married. Horrible, doctor's handwriting, sometimes impossible to understand, sometimes you guess. But one thing I know for sure. Whatever is in there, is tested and is SUPER good! So when we were baking the apple pie together with my mom I remembered on which "date" of the agenda it was and few weeks later decided to surprise her when she would come back from work. Once I was home after school I started it. I accidentally doubled the amount of the baking powder that I was supposed to add and that affected the taste a bit, but it was still eatable. Also it was a bit of a struggle to turn on the soviet oven. But finally it turned out fine. Not great, but for the first attempt not bad at all.
Since then I've made many different apple pies but this one always remains my all time favorite. Now I remember all the ingredients and amounts by heart and it really takes no more than 15 minutes to prepare it (plus baking of course).
300gr white sugar
350-370gr white flour
2 pinches baking powder
2 tbsp white vinegar
3-4 apples, preferably sour
2 handfuls black raisins (optional)
2 tbsp brown sugar (optional)
1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1. Beat the eggs with the sugar, until light and creamy and the sugar has dissolved.
2. Mix in the flour and half of the cinnamon.
3. Add the baking powder and the vinegar. Mixing them causes a chemical reaction, which releases air bubbles. Try to mix the pastry in such a way, so that you capture those bubbles inside. They will make the pastry grow in the oven. Set the mixture aside for about 5 minutes. 4. Lay a deep baking tray with foil or oiled baking paper. Slice the apples (don't remove the skin) and lay them at the bottom of the tray. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Throw the raisins on top.
5. Preheat the oven. Bake the pie for about 30-40 minutes or until you can stick a match in it and it comes out clean.
6. Let the pie cool and serve it with some sliced apples and whipped cream.
It's amazing and it's also a good solution when sudden guests are coming over. ;)
Thursday, December 16, 2010
I couple of days ago an Austrian friend of mine wrote on Facebook: "Revenues, Transaction fees, annualized ROIs, NPVs, EPS, Discount rates, Balance Sheets, CF statements, Income statements, EBIT, EBITDA ........ I need a Glühwein!". Last year this same guy made the best ever Glühwein for our little Halloween party. So while reading his geeky status I figured that I'd looooove to have some myself. So I required a recipe and made it the next day with some leftover wine that I had. Much easier then I thought. It reminds me of warm Sangria actually, but without any juice added.
1 bottle (cheap) red wine
1 cinnamon stick
3-5 tbsp sugar (depending on if you prefer it sweet)
1 orange, sliced
1. In a large pot place all the spices and orange and add about 1 cup of wine. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and continue cooking until the sugar dissolves completely and the spices release their aromas.
2. Add the rest of the wine and cook for just as long as it's necessary to warm it up. Adjust the amount of sugar to taste. Serve with a slice of orange in the cup.
The original recipe did not require 2 steps, but rather mixing everything in a pot and cooking together. I did it in two steps in order to avoid boiling the wine for too long. This prevents the alcohol from evaporating, making the final drink stronger ;) Of course you could just follow the original recipe.
It's probably the most Christmasy drink that exists! It's so sweet and worm and it always reminds me of Christmas markets. Now that I'm going back home, I'm going to make it again and enjoy it the proper way, in front of a fireplace! And while the wine is cooking all the house smells cinnamon. Amazing!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I may have mentioned that I grew up in Russia, which means that soup was an every-day first course of the dinner. Any soup would do. The idea is that it's healthy, good for your stomach and it makes you feel full for a long time. It's just like a tradition there. And with a doctor mom, this was a must. So by the time I was 11-12 years old I fairly fed up with it. That's when my first attempts to cook something started. My mom was pretty fine with it as long as I would actually eat something healthy and not just "dry food" (meaning sandwiches, chips and all the other junk). I was quite happy about it, so I didn't eat any soup for few years, maybe just once in a blue moon.
Anyways, once upon a time, while I was already studying in Amsterdam, I was thinking of something to cook for dinner. And suddenly a soup came to my mind. I tried to get rid of this idea, still occupied by my childhood memories but it just would not go away. So, soup it is! Now, the problem was that I never cooked one in my life and of course I was too proud to call my mom to ask her. She would answer with that winning attitude "I told you one day you will appreciate it!". So I decided to figure something out myself. Back in Moscow we had this class at school where girls would learn how to cook, knit and sew and the guys were learning all those constructions and fixing the pipes and whatever else. Now that I'm thinking about it... Very unfair to divide the class, as if guys don't have to know how to cook and of course fixing the pipes could be sometimes useful for a woman as well. Anyways, at one of those classes we cooked a soup. So I tried to remember some of the basic ingredients. So... Potatoes, carrots, onions, chicken and whatever else you wanna add. Anyways, the soup turned out to be very good, I have to admit that I actually missed it and really enjoyed having it for dinner.
So now that I it is so cold and snowy outside I had a real craving for a mushroom soup. It is sooo easy to cook that I managed to actually prepare it in 2 TV breaks! Ok, I peeled the potatoes and carrots in front of the TV, which of course saved me some time but you pretty much need about 15-20 minutes in total. So here it goes:
2.5 liters water
1/2 chicken breast, skinless , boneless, cut into bites (optional, you could substitute it with a proper number of stock cubes for a vegetarian version)
3 cups mushrooms, washed and quartered
4 large potatoes, peeled
1 large carrot, peeled, cut in semicircles
1 large onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 pinches rosemary
2 bay leaves
2-3 dry chillies (I like it spicy though, you could use just one or none)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt, pepper to taste
1. Cut the potatoes. Most people usually cut them into large cubes, but I follow my mom and cut them like for french fries, just a bit bigger.
2. Place a pot with water on a strong heat, add the potatoes, chicken, rosemary, bay leaves and chillies with some salt and let them cook.
3. Meanwhile warm up 1 tbsp of oil and fry the mushrooms until they are nicely golden.
4. 5 minutes after the water in the pot starts boiling add the fried mushrooms to the soup.
5. In the same pan that you used for the mushrooms warm up the rest of the oil and fry there the carrots along with onion and garlic until the vegetables are soft. Pour the mix into the pot with the soup.
6. Cook until the potatoes are soft and you could break them with a spoon. Add the parsley and adjust the seasoning. Let it cook for a couple of minutes more so that the parsley releases it's flavor. Turn off the heat and let the soup cool just a little before serving.
Another thing that I started using in the soup lately is ginger. Just finely chop a 2cm piece of ginger root and add it together with carrots and onions. It gives to the soup a really nice spicy touch and it smells wonderfully. But you could skip it and use any other spice that you like. Also if you wanna make it even healthier than it already is, don't fry the vegetables, and just add them raw to the pot. You could also avoid the oil this way, but believe me, frying makes it much more delicious and the oil gives a beautiful golden color to the stock.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Christmas is getting closer and I thought that tonight would be the perfect chance to meet with some friends at home, in a nice christmasy atmosphere, just to have some beers and play some board games. Next weekend my sister comes to visit and we will be probably just going all around Amsterdam and after that I am going home to Greece for the holidays. So, this was probably the last opportunity to get together with some friends before Christmas.
Since morning I was thinking about inviting the guys over, but I was not in the mood for real cooking today, so I decided to prepare just some appetizers. There was this recipe that I found at one of my most favorite blogs. I was planing to prepare it since I first saw it and here it was, the perfect opportunity! It looks really fancy even though it's really easy to make. It took me something like 20 minutes to actually make 2 plates of this little snack. I think it is perfect for parties and little gatherings when you wanna make something different and impressive. Anyways, enough with the talk, here it comes.
30 shrimps, peeled and cooked
30 salty, thin crackers
1 ripe avocado
2-3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp lemon juice
ground black pepper to taste
1. Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone and run the spoon around it to remove the skin. Place the flesh in a medium bowl and mash it until it's smooth.
2. Add the mayonnaise and the lemon juice and mix well. Season with some black pepper.
3. On each cracker place about 1 tsp of avocado mix and top with a shrimp. Doesn't it look amazingly beautiful and yet ridiculously easy?
Friday, December 10, 2010
About 10 days ago I was hosting one of the multiple dinner parties. This time I decided to go with the Greek food. Sort of missed it lately. And of course it's not possible to have a Greek dinner without Tzatziki. It is a part of almost any order in a traditional Greek taverna and could be combined with any food, either fish or meat or even just bread. When I make it, I usually make a large amount and it's never too much! The only problem is that it has a lot of garlic in it, so if you plan to kiss someone after eating it... well you better don't!
500gr thick, Greek yogurt (Straggisto type preferably)
1 cucumber (you could remove the skin if you want, I usually keep it to add some color)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
salt to taste
1. Grate the cucumber on a large grater. Keep all the juices and put it in a medium bowl.
2. Add the yogurt, garlic and dill and season with some salt. So simple!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
A couple of weeks ago a saw a nice shrimp pasta recipe at big mama's blog. And I remembered right away the shrimp pasta at Vapiano's, a chain of Italian restaurants. First time I tried it I really liked it and so I tried to recreate it at home with some changes. I think the original recipe was without cream and also walnuts are used instead of pine nuts. But I really like it with cream, it's more full (and more fatty as well!)
500gr penne or shells pasta
200gr spinach, roughly chopped
30-35 medium peeled shrimps
3 large, ripe tomatoes, diced
1 cup sour cream, preferably low fat
3-4 tbsp green pesto
3 tbsp pine nuts
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Throw in the shrimps and cook for a couple of minutes. Fish the shrimps out and cook the pasta in the same water for about 10 minutes, until al dente.
2. In a small pan mix the cream, pesto and garlic and cook on a low heat for 3-5 minutes. Don't overcook it or the cream and pesto will start separating.
3. Drain the pasta and put it back to the pot. Add the spinach, tomato, nuts and top with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Serve with a generous amount of Parmesan cheese.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Two weeks of no posting! Unacceptable! Luckily, it doesn't mean that there were two weeks of no cooking. But I was rather busy with interviews and some tasks, so I just couldn't find time to post all the nice recipes that I prepared these days. The bright side is that now I have enough material for a long period. So let's get started.
Few days ago I came back from a week in London, where I was visiting my sister. It was really nice. I got to meet some friends, some of which I haven't seen for ages. But with all the going out I didn't really have time for cooking, so most of the times the food options were limited to either some questionable British pub food (apart from the bucket of chicken wings that we shared with Mathias and they were great) and nice and colorful but always pretty much same Asian food from Camden. So, after a week of torture for my stomach I came back and was inspecting what was still uneaten in the fridge. What I found didn't leave much space for creativity. Apart from beer, ketchup and few eggs I found a bunch of oranges that were really close to going bad. I bought them just before leaving and my man was too bored to reach out the fridge and have some vitamins.
Anyway, the first day I was too tired to cook anything more complicated than just pasta. So I decided to deal with the oranges the day after. I was thinking what to do with them apart from just eating and I came up with a really nice idea of combining them with some chicken somehow. But then again, Stratis finds chicken breasts (well this is what I had in the freezer) by themselves too boring and I don't think that marinading them in orange juice would change his mind so I decided to spice the things up a bit. Ham and cheese would be just perfect. So after some thinking I came up with these chicken rolls, which I think were pretty good and slightly different from the usual grilled chicken with some salad on the side.
5 halves skinless, boneless chicken breasts
5 slices Gouda cheese (or any other cheese that melts)
5 slices smoked ham
10-12 small green olives, pitted
toothpicks or BBQ sticks for holding the rolls
juice and flesh of 3 orange
thyme, salt, black and red pepper to taste
2 tsp liquid honey
1. On a cutting surface place one half of the chicken breast like on the picture and then make a parallel to the table section on the left side but don't cut all the way through. At the end you should have something like a "sheet" of chicken.
2. Beat the chicken with a kitchen hammer or an empty wine bottle until it's thin and wide.
3. Place a slice of cheese and a folded slice of ham on the right side of the chicken "sheet" and top with a couple of olives.
4. Holding the filling inside with your fingers, roll it until you create a tight roll. With a couple of toothpicks fix the edges so that the roll does not fall apart. Place in a deep baking tray and proceed with the next piece of chicken. At the end season all the rolls with some black and red pepper.
5. In a small bowl mix the orange juice and flesh with thyme, salt, pepper and honey. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Cover with a foil and bake in the over for 30min at 200°C. Remove the foil, turn on the grill and bake for few more minutes until the chicken is golden. Serve with rice or a large green salad.