November 22, 2014

Nat's Feast!

If you've ever watched the movie "Babette's Feast" or "The Big Night", you know how genuine culinary feast should look. Maybe you were that lucky to experience one…

My daughter preparing roasted tomato
If not, let me describe one for you:
The indefinite amount of gourmet meals coming your way in a particular order and you just sit and wait for the next gastronomical surprise.  
Similarly defined on web: "A large, elaborately prepared meal, usually for many persons and often accompanied by entertainment; banquet."
All these dishes were created from scratch by my daughter for her sister's big birthday feast!

I've been before to some of those occasions: weddings, etc..", organized few, but never in my own home taking a part in supporting role!
Well, that is exactly what happened for my younger daughter's birthday, when her older sister decided to make the big feast for the whole family. When she decided it, I had to agree, and hope for the best! I just payed for all the surprise food. Yes, I didn't even know what, or how many meals were being made etc.. I offered help, but she said, "no, just don't come into the kitchen and be ready to fill your stomach!"
I wasn't ready for this at all. Nobody was! We knew that she could make some snacks and sweets, but no one expected a 3 star Michelin dinner (actually a tasting menu)!
It was weekend so we had a time. She came home with bags on previous days and also the day of the big dinner. No requests, but I was again offering help, as a sous-chef, to chop! But no, she wanted all the credits and she made that clear.
After cooking for so many years, it was quite different and unusual for me to just sit and wait for the dinner to be served! So I went weaving to my craft room.

She started in the afternoon, around 2 pm, with preparations and chopping. Some fine and subtle aromas, started to emerge around six or seven in the evening. Everyone was already hungry but more over curious. We didn't even know, what's on that tasting menu tonight!
Just to mention - she made it all from scratch,
After all was done, she was happy to give me all her recipes, that I am now proudly showing here.

I'll put my comments beside every dish. But before I do that, I'd just like to quickly mention that I was the only one ready and able to finish all the dishes. And soon you'll find out why.
At the end, we were not only full and content but all in shock. The way she organized everything, prepared and finaly executed every meal to an amazing perfection!

There is one Michelin star chef that I know, and that one lives in my home!

Around 8pm, our feast started...


8:03 pm 
BISCUITS
Full bowl with these spongy bakes arrived first at the table. Brown, shiny with hard to resist aroma that filled the room.



Dough:
1/2 cup warm homogenized milk (125 ml)
1/8 cup sugar (30 ml)
1/8 cup unsalted butter, melted (30 ml)
1/4 Tbsp salt (3.5 ml)
1.5 cup all-purpose flour (375 ml)
1/2 egg
1/2 envelope (1/8-ounces) active dry yeast
flour, for bench flour
Assembly
1/2 egg
1/2 Tbsp milk (7.5 ml)
Directions
1. In a small bowl, combine sugar with ½ cup warm milk and mix well. Add the yeast and stir. Let the mixture stand for about 10 minutes, until it foams.
2. In another bowl, combine the egg and remaining ½ cup warm milk and melted butter
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour and salt by hand. Add the yeast mixture and the egg mixture. With the stand mixer, start mixing the dough on low speed. Increase speed as flour is incorporated. Continue to mix until dough comes together. Increase machine speed, knead dough until it comes together.
4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 6 to 8 minutes, adding more flour if necessary, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Put the dough into a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave overnight in the fridge or alternatively let proof until doubled in a warm spot for 45 minutes.
Assembly
1. Punch down dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Tear off pieces of the dough and form sixteen 1 ½-inch balls. Roll them onto a surface to make smooth. Place in a buttered 8 x 8 x 2-inch pan. Let rest, covered, in a warm spot, until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
2. Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk to make an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, generously coat the top of the buns with the egg wash. Bake the dinner buns for about 13 to 15 minutes or until they are golden brown. Serve warm and pull apart at the table.

8:07 pm
FRENCH ONION SOUP
Birthday girl's favourite, came as a first course, topped with tosted piece of baguette and great surprise at the bottom  -  grated Griere pillow.  It was actually great twist to the ordinary styled Onion soup.


FRENCH ONION SOUP

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups thinly vertically sliced Walla Walla or other sweet onion
2 cups thinly vertically sliced red onion
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 cup dry white wine
4 cups less-sodium beef broth
1/8 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
4 (1-ounce) slices French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 (1-ounce) slices reduced-fat, reduced-sodium Swiss cheese (such as Alpine Lace)

DIRECTIONS
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions to pan; sauté for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in sugar, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium; cook 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Increase heat to medium-high, and sauté for 5 minutes or until onion is golden brown. Stir in wine, and cook for 1 minute. Add broth and thyme; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hours.
Preheat broiler.
Place bread in a single layer on a baking sheet; broil 2 minutes or until toasted, turning after 1 minute.

Place 8 ovenproof bowls on a jelly-roll pan. Ladle 1 cup soup into each bowl. Divide bread evenly among bowls; top each serving with 1 cheese slice. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese begins to brown.


 8:24 pm
SCALLOPs
It's hard to pick a favourite between all these amazing dishes, but this one could be mine. With a great combination of citrus and fennel and arugula, it achieved just perfect balance for one's taste buds.


SCALLOPS WITH HERBS 
For the scallops:
1 lb. dry large sea scallops
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into six  pieces
2 Tbs. finely diced shallot (1 medium shallot)
1/4 cup dry white vermouth or dry white wine
1/4 cup finely chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley and chives
1/4 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 lemon wedges for serving
DIRECTIONS:
Remove the tough abductor muscle from the side of each scallop (some scallops are sold with the muscle already removed). If you feel any grit on the scallops, rinse them under cold water. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels; surface moisture impedes browning. 
Heat a 10- or 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the oil and butter, if using, and heat until quite hot. Pat the scallops dry once more and put them in the pan in a single, uncrowded layer. Season with salt and pepper and let sear undisturbed until one side is browned and crisp, 2 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn the scallops and sear until the second side is well browned and the scallops are almost firm to the touch, 2 to 4 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, transfer the scallops to a plate, and set them in a warm spot. Let the pan cool for a minute before you make the sauce.
Return the pan to medium heat. Add a piece of the butter (1/2 Tbs.) and the shallots and sauté until the shallots begin to soften, about 1 minute. Add the vermouth or wine and simmer until reduced by about half, another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the herbs and lemon zest. Reduce the heat to low, add the remaining butter, and whisk constantly until the butter melts into the sauce. Return the scallops and any accumulated juices to the pan. Gently roll the scallops in the sauce to warm them through. Taste for salt and pepper and serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side to squeeze over the scallops.

SCALLOP SALAD BED
1/4 tsp. fennel seeds
1/8 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/2 Tbs. minced shallot
1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
Scant 1/8 tsp. minced garlic
1/8 tsp. Dijon mustard
3/4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 Tbs. hazelnut oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 small fennel bulb
2.5 oz. arugula, trimmed, washed, and dried (about 5 cups)
1/8 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

November 16, 2014

Pistachio Cake Extravaganza





It's quite amazing to even attempt to make elaborate cake. It's like succeeding in putting hard puzzle together or completing difficult science project. At the end, the feeling is like finishing Tour de France, without doping...
This is exactly one of those cakes, and it taste even better than it looks!
Any great occasion recommended!
Mine, it was a birthday. With few weird characters, it doesn't have to look so serious as it is. Loved from 9 to 99...

This cake is quite original and so delicious:
A pistachio flavour base with bursts of pistachio ,
A Bavarian apricot containing small cream puffs pistachio ,
A meringue mousse with apricot, lightly flavoured with Amaretto.
Pistachio cream is that exquisite part. Almond is great, but pistachio is my winner! You can experiment...
Good to know: the pistachio powder can be replaced with ground almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts (both in the base and in the cream) and apricots may be replaced by other fruits. You can consider a hazelnut base with two chocolate Bavarian mousse and vanilla and puff, or vice versa. Everything changes once again.
Here I used canned apricots (see the season ...) I rinsed and drained before starting to make it.
Important: This cake gets better with the time. Prepare it the day ahead, and is even better the next day. It is easier to make than what it looks, just prepare puffs and pistachio cream simultaneously first.




RECIPE:

For a start, find cake pan of  22 cm diameter with high sides (8.5 cm) (use baking cake pan).

Pistachio cake base :
2 eggs
70 g flour
50 g of powdered pistachios (blanched, unsalted)
70 g sugar
50 g milk
50 g of neutral oil (sunflower ...)
1 tsp of pistachio flavor (or bitter almond aroma)
5.5 g of baking powder (1/2 bag, 1tbsp)
30 g pistachios chopped into pieces (blanched, unsalted)



Puffs dough 
(you can double dosage if you want leftovers - they are so tasty especially with pistachio cream - don't forget to double that too) :

2 large eggs
50 g milk
75 g water
70 g flour
50 g butter, diced
10 g sugar
 pinch of salt


On puffs, depending on their size and  base cake size, you can put more into the cake, tight against each other. Originally, it should be eight for the cake and some for decoration at the top.



Pistachio cream (filling for puffs) :
(if you double puffs, double this as well, 
as cream is the best part of the cake)
2 tbsp butter, diced 
70 g sugar 
150 g of powdered pistachios (blanched, unsalted)
2 large egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue foam)
10 tbsp of full cream 
1 tbsp of cognac 
1 tbsp liquid vanilla extract

The Bavarian apricot mousse:
500 g of canned apricots (rinsed and drained) or peach if can’t find apricots
50 tbsp full cream 
150 g sugar 
12.5 g of gelatin (6 1/4 + 2 g leaves) (read instructions on your gelatine pack for 1/2 l of liquid : how much is recommended gelatin to mix in)
2 tbsp lemon juice squeezed
15 g of icing sugar

The Meringue mousse with Amaretto apricots :
2 large egg whites 
120 g sugar 
0.5 dl water 
2 tbsp Amaretto liqueur
130 g canned apricots (drained and rinsed)
5 g Gelatine (2 g 2 sheets)

STEPS:

Prepare the puffs:
Sift the flour and set aside. In a saucepan, bring water, milk, sugar, salt and diced butter to a boil. Pour in sifted flour, stir with a wooden spatula over low heat for 2 minutes, until the dough pulls away many times and forms a ball.  Throw the dough in a bowl and let cool completely. Meantime preheat oven to 180 ° C. Add an egg into the chilled dough and mix vigorously with a wooden spatula. Once the egg well integrate, repeat the same operation with the second egg. Fill a pastry bag and make at least 12 little dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing them well. Bake at 180 ° C for about 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Prepare the pistachio cream:
 In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool completely.  In a bowl, work the butter to soft into cream consistency with a wooden spatula. Then add the sugar, vanilla extract and egg yolks one at a time, mixing between each. It has to be creamy. Stir slowly and alternately add 1 tbsp liquid cooled cream and 1 tbsp pistachio powder, stirring well after each. And proceed until all the ingredients are used. Then add  brandy and mix well. 
Fill a piping bag with pistachio cream, drill baked puffs on their top (not below) and fill with a the cream. (Be careful to fill them completely, not half. On 12 puffs, it makes sense to leave 4 for decoration (or more if you made it).

Prepare the base pistachio cake:
Preheat oven to 180 ° C. Butter and flour a cake round pan. In a bowl, beat eggs and sugar until they turn white and foamy. Gradually add the milk and oil while whisking. Sift over the flour and baking powder, whisk again. Then add the powdered pistachios and pistachio chips, whisk until homogeneous.
Pour into buttered and floured pan and bake at 180 ° C for 15 to 20 minutes (the knife should come out clean) . Cool in pan then turn out upside down on a serving cake plate. 

Prepare the Bavarian apricots:
For 10 minutes soak gelatin in cold water or if you are using powdered gelatine prepare according to instructions. Mix the apricots (rinsed) and well drained with lemon juice. Stir in the sugar, and heat without boiling (microwave or pan). Add the prepared gelatine, stir and let cool completely (to speed up the process, you can soak the pan or bowl in a pan of cold water ).
Mix whipped cream with the icing sugar, incorporate delicately apricot puree cooled, using a spatula, lifting the mix to get homogeneous mass.
1/4 of the mixture spread over the base pistachio, in the circle, planting pistachio cream puffs in circle, puffs are placed tight then pour the remaining mixture on top. (it’s ok if the mixture does not cover certain puffs). Refrigerate 2 hours .

Prepare the Meringue mousse & apricot amaretto:
For 10 minutes soak gelatin in cold water. Mix apricots, drained and rinsed with amaretto puree. Heat without boiling (microwave or pan), add the squeezed out (prepared )gelatine, stir and set aside. In a bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff . Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil at 116 ° C with mixing. Immediately remove from heat and drizzle over egg whites, beating at high speed. Continue to whisk until firm. The meringue should be smooth and shiny. Pour in bowl with puree apricots and mix well, leave until completely cooled. 

Pour over apricots Bavarian cream, as a second cream, smooth and refrigerate for 1 night .



Recap of assembling the cake:
Bake base pistachio cake 


Thin Layer of Bavarian mousse spread over the cake

Place filled puffs over the mousse

Layer of left Bavarian mousse to fill inbetween the puffs

Refrigirate


Spread second mousse over

decoratte

Deco & Service:
 The next day, sprinkle the surface of cake with chopped pistachios; decorate the few remaining empty puff sprouts and sprinkle with icing sugar. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.


October 29, 2014

My Favorite Pasta Sauces



Of all the food, there is always one that I can go back to, as my favorite and if I can call it... comfort food.
It's pasta.
I must admit, I could eat pasta anytime anywhere.  
I tried good and bad recipes and developed over the years some good and really great pasta sauces and dishes. As my daughter started her journey with cooking recently, she asked about my pasta recipes, and complained that I have actually never put my best home pasta recipes on the blog.
I thought that those are too simple to write about?! Not too clever of me! 

When you make pasta, you must know few important facts and your pasta will rarely go bad!

So here are some tips, recipes and methods of the experienced pasta maker:



TIPS

To create the best possible pasta dish:

1. Have a good Italian (made in Italy) dried or homemade fresh pasta
2. For a sauce use good canned whole peeled Roma tomatoes (Italian recommended) or fresh ripened Roma tomatoes. People usually make a mistake by using canned crushed tomato or tomato paste or sauce.
3. Fresh basil enhance sauce and pasta, much more than dried basil. It can also be substitute with 1 tsp of pesto.
4. At the end of cooking of tomato sauce always add a little bit of cream, it will give a great silky texture and improve taste of cooked sauce.
5. Whenever possible, add wine when cooking sauce with tomato if you like stronger sauce, especially with meat and seafood added in.
6. 1LB OF DRY PASTA IS ENOUGH FOR FOUR REGULAR PEOPLE, 1 1/2 LB FOR VERY HUNGRY PEOPLE



6. Trow few dried hot pepper seeds at the beginning of sauce cooking, along with a loads of chopped garlic at the end of cooking.
 It really improves the taste.
7. Use good Parmesan or Romano grated cheese at the end.

So here are some of my most frequent and favorite pasta recipes, you can find more on my Pasta page...



MY FAVORITE SAUCES


BASICS:



Basic pasta sauce (with fresh tomatoes)


(for 4 people and 1lb of cooked pasta)
tomato should look like this after 1 min in boiling water

8 fresh Roma tomatoes
3 garlic cloves chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dry oregano and basil mixed
salt, pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

Immerse tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minutes. Take them out and put in cold water. Cool them and cut in pieces. Heat the olive oil and add tomatoes cut in pieces or crushed in the pot. Cook slowly on low for about 30 min. If it evaporates add spoon of water or if you prefer stronger taste, bit of vine. At the end add garlic, herbs and pepper and salt and cook for about 1 minutes. 

if wanted, cream can be added at the end.


October 5, 2014

Autumn’s Greatest Treats

Quince, pumpkins, plums etc..


Fall is here and again exciting time to get your hands on the season’s most popular ingredients:, pumpkin, plum, quince etc...
It’s also last call to make some delicious jams and preserves!
Although, pumpkin has always been big part of North America’s culture and tradition, quince is almost unknown. I wrote previously about plums and pumpkins but not that much about quince.
Quince has many health benefits and it can be used in many different ways.
I found that quince fruit is rich in vitamins and minerals and contains vitamin C in large quantities, vitamin B1, B2, niacin, carotene, calcium...etc. It also contains protein, dietary fiber, carbohydrates (15, 3 g), and low in fat (0.1 g). When shopping, choose fruit quince, which is not too soft.
The most important ingredient in this healing fruit is vitamin C, which plays a key role in physical and mental health. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and does not allow unsaturated fats that create free radicals. Quince contains a lot of pectin, which has a beneficial effect on the blood system, helps lower blood pressure and protects against radiation. This beneficial fruit improves digestion, cures anemia and is used in beauty. Cooked quince fruit is used against inflammation of the gastric and intestinal mucous membranes. Quince is used to treat mucous membrane of the throat, tonsils, upper respiratory tract, and to help with diarrhoea and heavy periods. Quince is good to eat on an empty stomach!
In addition to fruit, medicinal properties have seeds and leaves of quince. Quince seeds contain amygdalin or vitamin B17, which is proven to have anti-cancer effect. Also, the seeds are rich in tannin, sugar, pectin, malic acid, etc. Tea of quince seeds cures insomnia, relieves tension and eliminate bad breath, while mucus from seeds treated burns and wounds.
Several quince seeds submerged in water, quickly form a slimy liquid – excellent folk remedy for coughs and respiratory inflammation.
Tea from the leaves of a quince is an excellent natural remedy against diarrhea. Prepare a tea by making one tablespoon of dried leaves of quince and half a liter of boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes, strain. Drink hot.

If you want more recipes with plums, go back to some of my previous posts, in this post I gather some more traditional recipes with pumpkin and some really interesting with quince.
For Quince leather recipe click here.

Have fun and enjoy the autumn and its magic!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Perfect Pumpkin Pie




Truly American dessert, with balanced amount of spices, it can be really a great cake! 

FLAKY PASTRY:
(Makes 2 doughs, top and bottom, )

2 Cups Flour
1 Cup butter
1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 Cup ice cold water
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tsp salt
1 Egg

Mix butter and dry ingredients together.  In small bowl, beat water, egg and vinegar together. Add to dry ingredients. Blend with fork till everything is moistened. Shape dough into 2 balls. Wrap in wax paper and chill 15 minutes or more. Roll out for crust and proceed with pie making.

PUMPKIN PIE filling:
Makes enough for 1 pumpkin pie
(Have ready an unbaked 9″ pastry shell w/ high crimped edges)

Mix in bowl:
1 1/2 Cups of  pumpkin - cooked or canned (unseasoned, unflavored)
1/4 Cups brown sugar
1/4 Cups white sugar
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/2 Tsp salt
1 1/2 Tsp ginger powder
1 Tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 Tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 Tsp powdered cloves
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 Cup cream

Pour the filling into prepared pie shell. Bake in hot oven (400F) 50-60 minutes until knife point inserted comes out clean.
Enjoy with black coffee and a bit of nutmeg flavored homemade whipped cream.

September 29, 2014

Quilted Travel Bag

As my daughter had her birthday last week I wanted to do something new this year as a gift.
With a new sewing machine that has all those bells and whistles for quilting, I thought that it might be good idea to make a bag. But this time not just a bag, but big travel bag that will be just hers, personalized and made as a unique gift that all the family will take a part.



  As her sister and dad created one of the ornaments, I completed the job with all of her favorite characters from early years and even some drawings that she did when she was just one year old - Mister O. That was actually her firs drawing of people so I found it amusing to put there.

Some of the "inventions: were the flower watch - real watch that I mad a pocket for it to look like a flower so that she can take it out and replace battery. First words of her hip-hop song is also embellished in, along with her name, of course.



I used eleven types of different fabrics and layer it with betting for quilt so it creates more sturdy shape. No pattern used, it was on the go again.

I can say that she liked it a lot. See more on my Craft blog.

September 14, 2014

Up and Down the French Alps



I often write about French food. 
How can anyone that loves food, not talk about French cooking?! 
All roads lead to Rome, but all culinary paths and trails lead to France, at least for me... 


Unfortunately, I have not been on that side of the Atlantic these days (as some of those more fortunate), but I started my closer relationship with the Alps a long time ago while spending some time in Switzerland and Italy. 

Having some of my family members visiting in the French Alps, more precisely the Rhône-Alpes area, was just the extra motivation and inspiration I needed to write about one of my favorite places. 



This region of France has some amazing scenery: lakes, rivers and mountains. 




The really friendly and easy going people add to the ambiance, making it so easy for one to experience so much here.

They have it all here: 


Grenoble gondola to Bastille


Big cities like Grenoble and Lyon, little Alpine villages 
and unique mysterious places like the monastery 
where the famous Chartreuse liqueur is made.





The food is fresh, wholesome, simple and pure, yet at the same time, complex enough to make the Rhones-Alps the second-most-starred region in the French Michelin food Guide. 


September 11, 2014

Transforming men scarf into a Dress in 4 easy steps

Or How to make summer dress from long scarf in two hours.

I just got this idea...
When I went around some sales last week, Zara store had some interesting long men scarf for six bucks. I just call them interesting since I'm not sure what men would wear these bright and huge shawls. But they looked pretty tempting to me since they were so cheep and good. I usually dig trough thrift stores to get some cheep materials for my crafts and they are sometimes new sometimes not, but I just couldn't miss this opportunity! I had in mind that I could do something with it, and since it was long, the dress first came to mind. My daughter was excited too, she knew that this combination of colors looks best on her.
Well, she was completely right!

FROM THE SCARF SHOWN AT THE RIGHT CORNER TO THE DRESS

So, Tuesday night was little bit longer for me..
But she was so happy in the morning when she found out the final product. I took her measurements and draw the sketch in the evening, and we agreed on length and shape. So I started from there. Only concern was, would it be easy to put it on, since I didn't want to cut any openings for zipper etc..
It supposed to be easy, few steps dress, as I explained to her when we got the fabric (I mean scarf). I wanted in some way to prove that you can really easily convert scarf to dress.
So here is my result:

So from this:
 to this
In few steps

For the steps how was made, look up at my craft blog.

August 12, 2014

Cooking with beer

Last week was an International Beer Day. 



I started to love beer late in my life. In my twenties, beer was too bitter for my taste and I really disliked it.
I think that I started to love beer when I tried some locally crafted, here in Vancouver. I was almost shocked when I found out that beer doesn't have to be bitter, and can actually have very pleasant aroma and  be very refreshing on these hot summer days. Some of the breweries in Vancouver are just factories of beer, but some of them became more like a hip spots with a variety of handcrafted beers, where you can actually taste variety of beers before filling your authentic store crafted bottles to take home or enjoy your beer right there at the brewery. 
Main Street has today more than few good breweries and beside the beer, atmosphere and ambient, is something worth checking out. Some of them also serve some original snacks that nicely pair with a beer. Beer is probably one of the oldest drinks on earth that humans created, as it was derived from the oldest food - grains. I learned there that beer is brewed mainly from malted barley, hops, yeast and water although other sources of fermentable carbohydrate (eg. maize, wheat ..) and other natural ingredients may be added to create different styles and flavours. Today, we can choose from over 100 different styles of beer covering every imaginable flavour. This includes pilsners, pale ales, porters, stouts, barley wines etc.. Lager is probably world's most popular beer and its style varies from the pale gold of a classic Czech Pilsener, through yellow to the deep golden color of the German and Belgian beers. Ales are fruitier and fuller in flavour than lagers due to a higher fermentation temperature and colour can be pale to to the jet black like Guinness.
In some places and cultures, like Czech, Irish or German, beer is part of lifestyle and cultures, like a gastronomy.
Cooking with beer can also bring some extra flavor in your meals. I tried to check what's cooking around the world with beer and was quite surprised with creativity. I was cooking with beer before, but sweets are something new for me.

If you have some extra beer in your fridge, here are some ideas how to use it in your cooking.

Some of the recipes are adopted and modified from the Guinness page.




Lager soup

1 blond roux (3 tbsp butter and 3 tbsp flour)
2 cups of beer
1 handful of sugar
2 or 3 deciliter cream


slices toasted bread

1 pinch ground cinnamon
Egg yolks
Salt and pepper






This soup is a classic dish of students in German universities. Make a roux with flour and butter in a hot pot: melt the butter in hot pan on a stove and add flour, mix shortly, then pour in the beer. Season with salt, pepper and a handful of sugar. Boil and whisk for few minutes, add 2 or 3 dl of cream. You can whip the egg yolks and add into boiling soup as well. Serve with slices of toasted bread. Pinch of cinnamon can be added into this soup at the end. 



July 23, 2014

Hand woven crop-top

Summer collection 2014



With hot days and finally some nice weather in Vancouver, we could enjoy light clothes as well. As I had that in mind, my latest project was sleeveless short top, or something that could be called crop-top.


It goes very well with my recently woven bag.
Along with my summer dress woven previously on my four shaft loom..



This all together adds up to my summer handwoven "couture" collection..
Hmm, what could be next on my loom..?

July 22, 2014

How does it feel….

Now I seem so proud 
about having to be scrounging for my next meal….

The number of family members in my household, interested not only in eating but also in creating meals and cooking, has significantly increased in the last few years. As they say, the apple really doesn't fall far from the tree.
It's a fact: the female part of the family starts to show an affinity and passion for creation - which is reflected through food - early on. The remaining male member have only one passion - tasting and giving -sometimes- overly (hmm..) honest food critiques.

So it's becoming really crowded these days in my already tiny kitchen, but it's really an amazing feeling to sit and wait for the dinner to be served to me in my home.

Few selfies to mark uncovering of the surprise dinner, ladies night in!


It's memorable day so I wanted to mark it in my blog.
Baked stuffed potato - tonight's entrée

Minestrone - tonight's appetizer.















So as Bob Dylan asks "How does it feel.."
It feels great!

One of my young chefs was already a guest on my blog with her list of amazing quick recipes.


Now it's the youngest one's turn. And she has really got some great recepies too.
See it for yourself!


Mila's chocolate pretzels