Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mojito MY way

Have You ever ended with crackling not dissolved sugar between Your teeth while sipping Your mojito in a bar, or feeling synthetic mint syrup in Your drink, or not enough sour or too sweet, or not enough minty, or too strong… Good mojito is hard to find. This is definitely not conventional way to make it. Maybe most of professional bar tenders would say it’s not the right way to make mojito, but I like it, I love the taste, I love the look and I want to share…

For 2 persons

2 limes
1 bunch of mint
100 ml of  white rum (I like dark rum)
4 teaspoons cane sugar
200 ml of tonic

1)      Prepare 2 highball glasses. Wash limes and mint. Pat dry. 

2)      Squeeze juice  of limes into glasses. Juice of 1 lime per glass.

       Quarter the lime skins and put into food processor. Set aside 4 best branches of tear off mint leaves and add to the lime skins. Add 4 teaspoons of sugar and 50ml of tonic. Blend everything together. 

3)      Strain that precious extract into a clean measuring glass and divide between 2 serving glasses equally . 

ATTENTION: DO NOT THROW AWAY blended mint and lime skins after straining. Place them into clean jar, fill with vodka in quantity to cover the blended mass. (You can even splurge and fill jar with rum) 

Close with a jar lid and keep in fridge for 2 weeks. Strain into a clean bottle. And treat Yourself with LAZY Mojito: 50 ml of scented vodka and 100 ml of tonic. Of course You can change proportions. 

4)      Add 50 ml of rum and 75 ml of tonic into each serving glass.

         Carefully add ice cubes to the cocktails to make the glasses  full. (Crushed ice looks beautiful, but deludes Your drink too much)  Decorate with mint branches.  Serve and enjoy with a good company!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Potato mushroom thyme scented casserole with rustic cabbage salad


Simple, comfort dish with a hint of thyme, make You feel content and full.  Crunchy rustic cabbage salad make a good company for it. Enjoy!
For 4 persons as a light dinner

For casserole:
600 grams potatoes
Olive oil for frying
 1 tablespoon of butter
300 grams fresh mushrooms
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
½ bunch of lemon thyme (substitute with regular thyme, though aroma is not the same)
150 gr of grated cheese (Emmental or Gruyere are perfect)
Salt and pepper for taste

For salad:
400 gr of white cabbage
1 medium onion
4 cucumbers
7 tablespoons Extra virgin sunflower oil
2,5 tablespoons of lemon juice

1)      Peel and slice potatoes. Dice onion, chop mushrooms in bite size, peel garlic. Wash and pat dry thyme. 
2)      Cook potatoes in salted boiling water for 10 min. Drain. Pre-heat oven to 200 ˚C.
3)      In the mean time pre-heat a shallow frying pan. Add a dash olive oil and butter, when it stops bubbling add onions, press garlic in and cook till soft , then add mushrooms and whole branches of  thyme.  Cook everything together for 5 min, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and take out thyme branches.
4)       Place half of the potatoes on the bottom of casserole dish, then sprinkle with cheese,  then mushrooms, sprinkle with cheese again and again potatoes. 

Top casserole generously with more cheese.  Transfer casserole to the oven for 20-25 min. or until cheese starts turning golden brown. 

5)      In the meantime make salad. Wash cabbage and slice it thinly. Kitchen mandoline is a real helper, if You have one. If not, have some patience and work vigorously. Then place sliced cabbage into a salad bowl, sprinkle generously with salt and squeeze cabbage hard with hands. It will soften the texture of cabbage and make it more mild. Then peel the onion, halve and slice it. Wash and slice cucumber. You can peel it, but it’s optional. 
6)      Add onions , cucumbers, oil and lemon juice to the cabbage. Mix everything well. 

7)      Serve hot casserole with addition of cold crunchy salad!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Asian Style Coconut Soup

           When it’s grey and cold outside, take few minutes, close Your eyes and imagine Yourself at an exotic country, with romantic beaches, spicy food and shining sun and Your autumn blues will eventually  brighten up.  This exotic soup will definitely help Your teleportation:-)

1,5 l of Chicken Stock
1 chicken breast skinless (app. 300 gram)
20 grams of dry lemongrass or 2 stalks of fresh or pickled
8 leaves of kaffir lime leaves
6 little dry chili peppers (bird’s eye)
200 grams of dry wood ear mushrooms
2 tablespoons of red curry paste
2 cloves of garlic
 1 onion
1 tablespoon of coconut oil (substitute with  vegetable oil)
250 ml of coconut milk
300 grams of rice noodles
1 bunch of fresh cilantro 

1)      1) Wash and clean chicken breast. Cut it into bite size pieces.
2)      2) Place chicken, lemongrass, lime leaves, peppers and chicken stock into 3 l. pot. Bring everything to boil, and turn down the heat, letting the broth simmer for 15 min.
3)      3) In the meantime, wash dry mushrooms and place them in a bowl and pour over hot water, so the mushrooms are fully covered. Set aside for 15 min.
4)      4) Drain the mushrooms, chop them finely , put into broth and simmer all together for another 15 min.
5)      5) Prepare rice noodles separately according to the package direction. 

6)      6) Peel and dice onions. Peel garlic. Chop cilantro.
7)      7) Pre-heat a shallow frying pan, add coconut oil, onions and press the garlic. When onion has soften, add curry paste. Stir till everything incorporates. Fry for 2 min. and add coconut milk, stir and simmer mixture for 2 min.

8)      8) When aromatic broth is ready, take out lime leaves, lemon grass and pepper. Add the coconut mixture. Boil everything for 2 min. Turn off the heat.
9)      9) Place some noodles in a serving bowl, add soup with chicken and mushrooms and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Serve hot!

P.S. You can substitute dry bird’s eye chili pepper  with any chili pepper You can find.  And if You use fresh lemon grass crush it with a knife blade first.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Roasted beetroots and tender chicken liver

      Such an autumn vegetable like beetroot doesn’t have to be boring and dull. Roast it with some herbs, garlic and balsamic vinegar and a rustic beetroot becomes exquisite treat. Sweet and sour tender chicken livers match perfectly for sweetish roasted vitamins full beetroots.

Serves 2:

For beetroots:
2 middle sized beetroots
2 springs of rosemary
3 springs of thyme
3 cloves of garlic
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar 
2 teaspoons of brown sugar (like Muscovado)
Salt and pepper for taste

For liver:
400 grams of chicken liver
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
½ tablespoon of muscovado sugar
5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

For beetroots:
1) Wash the beetroots clean and cook them in boiling water for 40 min. Cool them down a bit and peel. Then dice them roughly,( approximately 2-3 cm dice). Place them on the baking tray.
2) Pre-heat oven to 220 ˚C.
3) Place peeled garlic cloves, rosemary needles, thyme leaves, olive oil, sugar, vinegar in blender, and blend everything till ingredients incorporate. Pour over warm beetroots, add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Mix everything very well and put in the hot oven for 30 min.

For liver:

1)Wash and clean the liver. Cut away all the white things from it. Make sure the pieces of liver are more or less the same size. If not cut some as necessary.
2) Preheat a shallow frying pan with oil. Melt a Tbsp of butter. When it stops foaming add the liver pieces. Fry at medium heat for about 2 min. on each side. Salt and pepper. Sprinkle liver with sugar. When sugar dissolves add balsamic vinegar. Let it boil for a min. Stir everything well and turn off the heat.

TIP: Be careful not to overcook liver, it would spoil the salad irreversibly.
     Transfer Your roasted beetroot on plates, and place the liver on top. Pour carmelized frying the juices over the dish. Serve!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Crusty plum tart

Devine aroma of roasted walnuts, juicy plums and crunchy crust can really set Your head in clouds and inspire for big things.  Autumn is the best time for this tart, when You can get the best and the most aromatic and tasteful plums ever.

For dough:
250 gram flour (all-purpose)
150 gram walnuts
100 gram brown sugar
170 gram of cold butter
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons of grated orange zest

For filling:
1 kg of nice ripe plums
2 tablespoons of dense sour cream
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of orange zest

    1) Preheat the oven to 180 C. Place Your walnuts on the baking sheet and roast them for about 8 min., till the nice aroma appears. Take the walnuts out and let them cool down on the sheet.   

    2) In the mean time wash the plums, cut longwise and pit them. Set aside in a bowl.

    3) Place the flour, walnuts, sugar, butter and the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of orange zest in a food processor Pulse it until crumbly and well mixed. (If You don’t have food processor chop the walnuts finely. In a bowl mix dry ingredients first and then add yolk and butter. Work it through carefully till crumply, but not for too long, so the you don’t overheat the dough with Your hands).
    4) In the bowl with the plums add 1 tablespoon of orange zest, sour cream, and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Mix everything well until the sour cream mixture covers the plums evenly.
    5) Press 2/3 of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 24 cm tart baking form. Arrange the plums in the pan, skin-side down. Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the plums.  

    6) Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes or until the crust is brownish and the plums juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and cool for 10-15 minutes. 

    7) Serve it warm with addition of vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream or enjoy it cold with a cup of good tea. 

    P.S. It was so good, that I didn't have a chance of taking picture of the slice of it. It was eaten before I could think of it:-) 

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Pasta with scallops

    Delicate smooth texture of scallops, flavored with parsley and  garlic with smoky bacon after taste, make a good romantic dinner for two. Seafood and garlic are considered to be aphrodisiac, so go on for romantic dinner or just pamper Yourself with real quality meal for heart and soul.

    For 2 persons
    250 gr of fresh or frozen little scallops
    25 grams of butter
    2 tablespoons of olive oil
    1 onion
    50 gr of bacon
    1 bunch of parsley
    200 ml or double cream or dense sour cream
    2 cloves of garlic
    200 grams of spaghetti or linguine pasta
    Salt and white pepper to taste
    50 grams of grated Parmesan cheese

    1)      Clean and wash the scallops. If You’ve bought frozen, unfroze and pat them dry with the paper towel. Dice the onion and bacon. Chop parsley and peel the garlic cloves. 

    2)      Cook pasta according to the package directions and in the meantime do the sauce.
    3)      Preheat You frying pan to medium heat. Add butter and olive oil. When butter stops bubbling add You scallops. Fry from both sides till lightly brown. Add bacon and fry for 1 min more, add onions. 

    Cook everything together for 2 min, stirring from time to time. Add cream and press the garlic in.  Stir everything really well, cook for 1 min, add parsley and turn down the heat.

    4)      Toss cooked pasta into the pan with the sauce. Mix everything well. Divide pasta between 2 large plates. Spoon scallops with sauce over pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve!
    P.S. If You like less intensive taste of garlic, add garlic earlier, in pair with onions.

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    Scandinavia inspired open sandwich

            Crispy bread, soft eggs, mouth watering sauce with shrimps on top make a good beginning of the day. Savory open faced sandwich make Your day bright even if it’s cold outside like in Scandinavian autumn.  

    For 2:

    4 slices of rustic rye bread
    25 gram of butter
    12 big fresh or frozen shrimps
    3 hard boiled eggs
    ½ bunch of chives
    ½ bunch of dill
    3 tablespoons of sour cream
    3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
    1 teaspoon of tiny grated lemon zest
    Salt and white pepper to taste

    1)      1) Toast the bread to be slightly crispy. Slice the egg wide-wise . Boil and peel the shrimps.
    2)      2) Chop the chives and dill. In a small bowl mix sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon zest, dill, chives, salt and pepper. Stir the sauce well till all the ingredients are incorporated.
    3)     3) Smear bread thinly with butter. Place egg slices on top. Spread a tablespoon on spoon of sauce over eggs. Place Your shrimps on top, 3 on each sandwich.

    P.S. Keep the napkins handy. It’s delicious but a bit messy to eat it:-)

     Happy after:-)

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    Pears in red wine

    Delicious, a bit aristocratic and elegant, so easy to do. It looks gorgeous, tastes surprisingly. Just perfect romantic dessert with some erotic hint:-)

    4 to 6 ripe pears with stems
    fresh juice from 1 lemon
    1 bottle of red semisweet wine
    1/2 cup muscovado sugar
    6 slices of peeled fresh ginger
    10 whole black peppercorns
    1 piece of star anis
    Mint for decorations
    1) Peel the pears, leaving their stems intact, and cut a thin slice from bottom of each to enable pear to stand upright when served. Slice ginger.

    2)In a pot (large enough to hold the pears either laying on their sides), lay pears on their sides, add red wine, sugar, lemon juice, ginger slices, star anise and peppercorns in poaching liquid bring just to a boil, turn down the heat so the pears just gently simmer. 

    3)Cover pan with a lid, turn the pears occasionally, approximately 25 to 40 minutes or until pears are tender. When done, carefully transfer pears with a slotted spoon to their serving dishes.
    4) Boil down the poaching liquid until 1/3 of it is left. Remove from heat, strain, throw away ginger slices, anise and peppercorns and pour the sauce over pears. Decorate neatly with mint leaves. You may also serve it with vanilla ice-cream.
    It is so tempting, that those little fingers could not resist touching the forbidden dessert:-)

    NOTE: The rest of sauce pour into a jar and refrigerate up to 2 weeks. You can use it as fancy fruit salad or ice-cream sauce.

    Friday, September 3, 2010

    Ukrainian style pot stew

    A real comfort food for rainy autumn day. Soft garlicky potatoes melting in Your mouth, then You feel tender juicy meat and You feel all right. Pleasant heat goes through Your body, and autumn is not that gray any more. Try it and let me know about Your sensations:-)

    For 2 persons you will need:
    300 gr pork meat
    4 average potatoes

    2 average tomatoes

    1 small onion
    2 big cloves of garlic
    50 ml of dense sour cream
    100 gr of grated cheese (any You like)

    Salt and pepper to taste

    1) Peel and dice potatoes and pre-boil them in separate pot with salted water for 10 min, they should be al dente if You can say so about potatoes. Put them in the colander and set aside.
    2) Wash the meat with cold water, pat it dry with paper towel and dice it about 1,5-2 cm dice. Peel and dice tomatoes and onions. Preheat the oven to 180 ˚C.3) Now put all the ingredients on the table and prepare Your 2 pots with lids. Divide all the ingredients putting the same amount in each pot. First put half of the potatoes, the rest leave for the top. Then put the meat in, salt and pepper , then tomatoes, onions and pressed garlic, salt and pepper, then again potatoes and a good dollop of sour cream on top.4) So the layers are in the following order: potatoes, meat, tomatoes, onions, garlic, potatoes and sour cream on top. Cover the pots with the lead. Place them into the oven for 1 hour.

    5) Take the lids off and place the cheese on top, keep into the oven 10 min more till the cheese browns nicely.
    6) Serve hot! Tastes the best with sour cabbage garnish.
    Notes: I've used 700 ml pots. You can modify the recipe according to Your pots. Or just cook the meal for 2 in one bigger pot with the lid. The recipe can be multiplied.

    Idea: You can add some mushrooms to enrich the taste even more, and still it will be very Ukrainian.