Monday, 30 December 2013
Christmas is time of cooking and baking in excess. Slovak traditions are no exception. Many start as early as beginning of December to make sure everything is prepared for our Christmas Eve dinner.
In Slovakia, instead of one main desert we bake at least 10 different varieties of biscuits and small cakes. Each region has it's own specialities, some families also share between themselves.
This cake is called Stedrak, which kind of means generous cake. No wonder, it consists of 4 different fillings! I made it for a Christmas party we held in early December. (Everyone is too busy in London)
The base is from sweet yeasty dough that is used a lot in Slovak baking. You need to be patient, knead it properly and give it enough time to rise. The fillings are also traditionally Slovak, poppy seeds, ground nuts, plum jam and a sweet quark like cheese. The cake was light and airy, with the different textures and flavours of the fillings.
Monday, 16 December 2013
Aren't little tarts so pretty? And also, when I make individual tarts like these, everyone gets their own. I had some plums that I needed to use and inspired by tarts I have seen on other blogs, I decided to try and make them extra pretty. Frangipane seemed the perfect partner, flavoured with some rum.
To make these, just follow the recipe below. Instead of plums you can also use pears, blackberries or anything that goes with almonds. If you want to make it super simple, use shop bought pastry, just don't tell anyone...
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Two weeks ago I have discovered very cute bookstore specialising in food books « Librairie Gourmande » situated at 92, rue Montmartre in Paris. This two floor shop is a paradise of cookbooks covering every feasible cuisine. From Haute Cuisine to Gluten Free, Korean and Japanese, they've got it all, including a fantastic selection of cross-disciplinary books on food design, food history, dieting, farming, food politics, etc.
As I wanted to cook the carrots I bought the book "Le Meilleur du potager " of Alain Passard, great vegetable specialist, owner of the three-star restaurant L'Arpège and I decided to cook the carrots «à sa façon» :
Depending on their size, cut the carrots into 4 or 6 strips lengthways . At low heat,put the carrots in a large sauté pan without overlapping. Add water so the carrots are just covered add a little salted butter and a little bit of olive oil. Cover and cook until almost all the water evaporates. Serve the carrots on hot plates.
Your carrots will be "al dente"and they will keep all their flavor and vitamins.
Your carrots will be "al dente"and they will keep all their flavor and vitamins.
Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Another experiment with squash that has turned out to be delicious. I love gnocchi as it reminds me of potato dumplings we eat in Slovakia. They are not as difficult to make as I always imagined they would be and once you get the basic, you can experiment with adding flavours. These ones still contain enough of boiled potatoes. Add flour gently, just until it combines, do not over mix, otherwise they will be heavy. There is no need for egg but do make sure you season the mix properly. Roll the dough into long thin sausage and cut into 2cm pieces. Cook in boiling water. They will float to the top once they are ready as most pasta does.
Thursday, 28 November 2013
This classic salad is so simple to make but tastes delicious and looks beautiful. The colours compliment each other so well. We picked up some of the ingredients in the Farm shop and wanted to use them as fresh as possible. Creamy milky mozzarella with tomato and buttery avocado was just sprinkled with salt and pepper and drizzled with olive oil. Make sure you use the Extra Virgin ones for salads. Peppery rocket adds another flavour and we finished it with lovely prosciutto ham and toasted ciabata. Now how could we make this more wintery ...?
Monday, 25 November 2013
I love Farm shops, they excite me a little bit too much. There are many around UK, even in London which is nice, I don't have to travel too far. This lovely place is called Priory Farm and is in Nutfield, not far from Redhill. If you do have a farm shop near you, pay them a visit, it doesn't disappoint.
The fresh produce is wonderful. They focus on seasonal fruit and vegetables with most of it grown at the farm. They also source salads from nearby farm Secretts. The surrounding area belongs to the farm where they also have a discovery walks, pick your own and a lovely cafe.
Wednesday, 20 November 2013
Last weekend we retreated to Le Croisic, a picturesque village in the western France. It is famous for its port and as you can imagine, the local produce is exceptional. As the winter is closing in, we spent the evening in this wonderful traditional creperie Le Bot. The Interior design is rustic and the Crepes are delicious. I had a savoury one, with caramelised onions, ham and cheese, followed by a sweet version with salty butter and sugar.We drunk a local cider from old fashioned cups, it felt as if we had gone back in time.
Tuesday, 19 November 2013
Then we had a go at Scottish mojito, also from gin, cucumber, mint, brown sugar and some lime.
It was lovely (first picture). The cucumber really comes through and compliments the gin beautifully.
We finished the evening with a desert. I made apple and plum crumble with some praline hazelnuts on top and fresh custard. It simple, easy to make but everyone enjoyed it.
Monday, 18 November 2013
I love entertaining my friends. And I love cooking. This time it was a meal for 5 and I decided to try something new, maybe a bit risky. I cured a side of Salmon, better known as Gravlax, the great Swedish classic. It takes 3 days to marinate and cure the salmon but its absolutely worth it. I used a marinade from Sloe gin, blackberries and clementines. Then I added the herbs after 2 days. The rest of the spread was also with a Swedish touch, beetroot, dill boiled potatoes, cucumber, crème fraiche. It was delicious and light. So there was enough room for the desert.
Thursday, 14 November 2013
Autumn is a pumpkin season in England. You see them everywhere. Until recently I was not convinced, I found it too sweet not versatile. How wrong I was. There is so many possibilities. I have roasted the Butternut squash in the oven and mixed it with pasta, crumbled feta cheese, sliced red onion and Chorizo. I added toasted pumpkin seed for extra texture. It looks very seasonal and tasted great too.
Friday, 8 November 2013
Today I would like to share a recipe for a pumpkin soup from Red Kuri squash.
Everyone in Paris knows Rue Montorgueil where you can find many restaurants and different grocery shops specialising in fruit and veg, cheese and many more. But there is more secret place for food in Paris - Rue du Nil.
If you are lucky like me, you can even spot a Michelin star chef like Jean Francois Piege.
My soup au Potimarron is very easy, quick to make and gives you a lot of energy.
Friday, 1 November 2013
This is rather simple tart. I used Rocha pears, but feel free if you have other preference. They must be ripe and juicy. The case is sweet crust pastry which is rolled very thin and chilled in the fridge for 30 mins before I filled it with frangipan and arranged the pears on top. Sprinkle of Demerara sugar on top and bake in hot oven for 35 mins. The pears are lovely and soft, the pastry is crisp and frangipan is fragrant from vanilla and almonds. Hmmm lovely...
Thursday, 31 October 2013
The main ingredient for this salad are the glass noodles. To get these right, do not cook them in a pan, as I found out, only few minutes of boiling will turn them into mash. Place them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them, leave for about 10 mins or until your happy with the consistency. Now you can add anything you like. Red pepper, spring onions, some cos salad leaves, lightly cooked asparagus, avocado, coriander and roasted cashew nuts. Pour over a dressing consisting of virgin olive oil, soy sauce and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper and Voila,
For people who like it hot, add chilli or ginger.
Sunday, 27 October 2013
If your travels ever take you to Somerset house, do visit Fernandez and Wells restaurant at its premises. The setting is beautiful, especially on a sunny day when you can sit out in the courtyard.
They offer a simple selection of Spanish an Italian produce but very good quality.
I particularly LOVE the padron peppers. Small Spanish peppers fried in olive oil and sprinkled with rock sea salt. They are eaten whole, the seeds and all. Some, very few though, can be spicy, it's like a Russian roulette.
The selection of charcuterie and cheese is also excellent.
Cakes on offer are homely and tasty.
There are few branches in Soho, but they are very small. They recently opened at Exhibition road too which I have not visited yet.
Today I made a salad from quinoa for the first time. I mixed it with roasted red beetroot, grated carrot and lightly toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds. All of these ingredients are so called superfoods! All charged with vitamins and antioxidants, just what I need for this windy rainy weather.
Friday, 25 October 2013
I have always been aware of Yotam Ottolenghi, the chef and food writer, as I often seen his recipes in guardian and have tried some over the years. But I have never visited one of his restaurants until last week. We went in for a cake but the salad bar was so tempting, we couldn't resist. You get a choice of three and I loved the chickpea with mashed squash and feta cheese. The rice salad and puréed beetroot was also delicious. All the ingredients are fresh and wholesome with addition of traditional Israeli seasonings. The cakes are particularly delicious, unusual take on baked cheesecake in a pastry case with raspberry jam or the financier with mascarpone and fresh fruits. The selection is changed daily and take out is available as there is only one small communal table in the Belgravia restaurant.
You can also check out the website where you can find recipes, ingredients information and other useful bits.
Thursday, 24 October 2013
Today's post is from a place in Paris called Le Verre Volé. Its located by St. Martins canal in 10th arrondissement. They prepare simple but interesting and delicious food and it always inspires me to make similar dishes at home. Today we opted for a simple salad of raw marinated beet root with smoked mozzarella and a whiting ceviche in lemon dressing and red onion. The bread tasted of hazelnuts and wine was also fantastic. After all they are a wine bar as well.
If you're in the area, make sure you will give it a go.
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
We wanted to start our blog with something everyone would like. So why not pancakes!!! They are versatile, easy to make and so delicious. I made those American style fluffy pancakes as a breakfast treat with golden syrup, fresh fruit and a trickle of creme fraiche. What are your favourite pancakes?