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

Plums in frangipane

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.

Simple sweetcrust pastry, rolled very thin is lining the tart cases. This needs to chill in the fridge at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile prepare your frangipan. Ground almonds, sugar, eggs and butter mixed together to quite a solid paste. I added a handfull of ground wallnuts too and a splash of rum. Once the cases are chilled, fill them with your frangipan. Layer the sliced plums, then bake in preheated oven. I have preheated a baking sheet, placed the tarts on it to make sure the bases cook through.

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.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Kabocha squash gnocchi

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.