January 18, 2016

New Crafts

Here are some of the crafts made in the last few months.
I also updated handwoven dress, I made few years ago and turn it to my daughter's graduation dress.


From top left corner:
hand-woven shawl,
hand-woven summer
top,
updated
grad dress with added hand embroidered flowers. and the last quilted like skirt made form three kind of fabrics.

 More about new crafts on my Craft blog
 



January 13, 2016

Homemade Donuts for the Old New Year

Today is not a good day to fight with anyone, as all year could be jinxed, according to an old Orthodox Christian's believes. 
The 14th January is the New Year's Day in old Julian calendars (it's actually January 1st). This day is also called The Little Christmas and it has many interesting believes and traditions. One is that if you had a bad last year, at midnight, when the clock strikes 12 times, open your window, and pronounce "never happen again, " or make a wish and kiss your dear ones.
It should bring you a good luck in the new year!



Slavic people, took Christianity in 7th century and had a hard time forgetting their thousand years old pagan traditions and believes. They took Christianity, but never really separated from their pagan fate, as they let some customs, old faith and believes, merge into their new religion. So, most of unusual traditions for their Christian holidays are basically pagan. Taking unique Saint to be celebrated centuries after, as a major holiday in the families (Slava in Serbs), is the remembrance day, when the Slavic tribe that family roots are from, took Christianity. Slavic paganism today is gaining again big popularity among its people.

Perun -  Major Slavic god
Veles - Major Slavic god
In Old Serbia-Kosovo, it was believed that if a girl wants to find husband that year, she should spend that night in someone else's house. In Bosnia at dawn, young girls climb the attic, threw their shoes outside the door, and if shoes fall in the opposite direction from home - that would be a sign that she would go in that direction to marry and not stay home anymore. According to various literary sources of the customs and beliefs of the Serbs, many Christmas rituals are repeated or had their final part after Christmas in Old New Year, starting from traditions of lightning fires near cress-sections at Vojvodina (part of Serbia) and burning remains of the Yule log in Herzegovina .

















On this day, a special bread/cake is made, usually called "vasilica". The cake is made from corn and is carved with three red threaded drain branches, which represent the Holy Trinity. It was believed in some areas, it would be a good year if on this day snows or it's cloudy. In some areas, they would make a cake with a hole in the middle that would be put on ox's right horn. The direction where the cake falls after the ox shake his head, describes how the harvest will be on that year.

One of traditional food prepared for this day are doughnuts. The coin (in old times golden) is inserted in one and whole bunch is baked: who ever gets it, it is believed that it will have the most luck that year.
So I am just going to make some doughnuts now and leave you with this amazing recipe. I'm not making them often for one reason: my girls have a hard time stop eating them...
Enjoy and Happy New Year again, and don't forget at midnight to open that window and let the all bad things from 2015 go!

Homemade doughnuts/donuts




400 g of flour,
1 egg
1 egg yolk
3 tsp dry years
100 g of melted butter
0.2 l of warm milk
pinch of salt
3 tbsp of sugar,
1 tsp vanilla extract
grated rind of orange or lemon,

Oil for frying
powdered sugar mixed with vanilla bean for sprinkling

Preparation:

In large bowl put flour and stir in the egg, egg yolk, melted butter, salt, sugar, vanilla, orange zest and dry years, let proof prior incorporating with other ingredients for 10 min in warm milk ( or use fresh crumbled yeast and warm milk directly mixed in) 


Mix well and knead into compact soft dough.



If it's too soft add a little flour or if hard, add a little more milk. The dough should separate from the walls of the vessel and it shouldn't stick to your fingers. Cover the dough with a clean cloth and leave to rest for about 45min (depending on where it stand, if it is warm faster it will rise). When the dough has risen throw it to the working area to which you previously sprinkled flour and divide it into two parts. Roll each part with rolling pin into a finger thick dough. Then take a small glass and cut out circles from the dough.


Repeat the procedure with the other half of dough and leave donuts proof another fifteen minutes to floured surface to prevent them from sticking.




In a deeper pan heat up a larger amount of oil and slowly inject the donut circles to be fried. Do not fry them at the highest temperature but reduce to medium. Bake them for a few minutes on both sides until they are brown. Finished donuts by placing them on the napkin to absorb excess oil. Donuts can be sprinkled with powdered sugar, vanilla sugar coated or you can inject domestic jam or Nutella inside.


Or if you celebrate Old New Year, put that coin in one donut, close your eyes and let the luckiest family member draw it tonight or in the morning!

Bon Appetite!

December 23, 2015

Santa's Cookies...with a twist

Holidays are all about tradition. That's what makes them special and memorable.
One of parent's tasks in their children's life is to create great memories for them. Now is that time!

American sweets are not at top of my favorite dessert's list, but I managed to find and create some, with a twist for some American favorites and maybe some of them will become someone's new tradition, not only in North America.



And just think: Santa is probably pretty fed-up with cookies; a Nanaimo bar or Rice Krispies may just be the thing to impress him this year!

If you want more ideas for Holiday cooking, on the right side are some of my previous Holiday posts.



Happy Holidays!

Coconut Nanaimo bars
This tasty treat is the perfect holiday nibble for everyone! There's just something about the warming sweetness of the classic Nanaimo bar that can bring smiles and festive cheer to all. 

Ingredients:
Crust
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
½ cup walnut pieces
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Filling
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp vanilla pudding/custard powder
Pinch of salt
3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Topping

4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)

Crust
Preheat the oven to 350 °F (180 °C). Lightly grease an 8-inch (20 cm) square pan and line it with parchment paper so that it comes up the sides.
2. For the crust, combine the graham crumbs with the cocoa powder and salt, then, add the coconut & walnut pieces. Stir in the melted butter and the egg and stir until blended. Press this into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 12 minutes. Cool the crust completely before preparing the filling.
Filling
By hand, beat the butter with 1 cup (130 g) of the icing sugar, the pudding/custard powder and a pinch of salt until smooth. Add the milk and vanilla and beat in . Then beat in the remaining 1 cup (130 g) of icing sugar. Do not overbeat – the filling should be smooth but not fluffy. Spread this evenly over the cooled crust.
Topping
For the topping, melt the chocolate and butter in a metal bowl placed over a pot of barely simmering water, stirring gently with a spatula until melted. Cool the chocolate slightly and then pour this over the filling, spreading to cover it. If you wish, sprinkle the top with a little sea salt. Chill the pan for about 2 hours before slicing into bars.
 Oreo-Cheesecake-Cookies


Ingredients:

½ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
3 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
½ cup of mini chocolate chips
1 cup OREO® Cookies (crushed, roughly 10 Oreo cookies)
1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
2.In a food processor, crush the Oreo cookies until they're fine crumbs. Set aside.
3.In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth and well combined.
4.Add the sugar and vanilla extract and beat until well incorporated.
5.Gently mix in the flour and stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula.
6.Using a medium sized cookie scoop, scoop the dough and put it in your hands to roll it into a ball. Roll the ball in the Oreo crumbs and cover the dough well.
7.Place on cookie sheet and repeat until all the dough has been used up.
8.Bake for 12-15 minutes (I had to bake mine for longer because my balls were a lot bigger so it took 20 minutes to bake).
9.Remove from oven when you see that the edges are getting browned. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to cool completely on a wire rack.
Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days


Cookies & Creme Rice Krispies

Ingredients:
1 bag of large marshmallows
5 cups rice cereal
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
16-18 Oreos, crushed

Instructions:
1. Grease a 8x8" pan and set aside.
2. In a large ziploc bag, place the Oreos in, seal the bag, and with a rolling pin, crush the Oreos until they're smaller pieces. Set aside.
3. In a large pot, melt 3 tbsp. butter. Once butter has melted, add in the bag of marshmallows and stir until all the marshmallows have melted then remove from heat. Gently fold in the rice cereal then fold in the Oreo's.
4. Pour all the contents into the prepared pan and spread out evenly. To make this faster/easier, I usually spray my hands with some cooking spray and use my hands to press down on the mixture until it's evenly spread out.
5.Let cool completely before cutting into squares.
6.Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days

November 6, 2015

What's up with Cauliflower?!

Yes, really what's up with a cauliflower?! 
Apparently, you can make almost anything these days with it. 
I was quite surprised to see recipes all over the internet. So I said, why not..an tried it.


I am bringing you the best I tried so far, and believe me, you will be, like me, pleasantly surprised. 
You can substitute rice, pasta, couscous .. you name it, with this amazing vegetable. 
You can even make cakes..without flour..the real one.


Cauliflower Bread-sticks

This is my favorite! Great appetizer or even side dish.


1 head cauliflower, large (7" - 8" wide)
1/4 cup or just 3 egg whites
1/2 cup + 3/4 cup (for topping) Mozzarella/ parmesan/griere shredded (you can use any cheese you love)
1 tbsp Italian herb seasoning or any dried herbs like rosemary, basil, parsley
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of salt
Optional: Marinara sauce for dipping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Rinse cauliflower, remove outer leaves and separate into florets with a paring knife. Place cauliflower florets in a food processor and process until "rice" texture. 
Place in an oven proof baking dish and bake for 20 mins. Remove cooked cauliflower from the oven and transfer to a bowl lined with a tea/linen towel. Important: Dry completely!
Let the cauliflower cool down a bit until it is safe to touch, about 15 minutes.
Fold the towel holding by the ends and squeeze the liquid out of the cauliflower "ball" as hard as you can. Be patient and do this a few times until barely any liquid comes out. I squeezed out 1 cup of liquid. Second photo, from right to left: before squeezing, after squeezing, liquid squeezed 
Increase oven T to 450 degrees F. Transfer cauliflower to a mixing bowl along with egg whites, 1/2 cup cheese, herb seasoning, black pepper, pinch of salt and mix to combine.
Transfer cauliflower mixture onto the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten with your hands into a rectangle, approximately 9" x 7" size and 1/4" thick.
Bake for about 15 minutes, remove from the oven and top with remaining cheese. Bake for another 5 minutes and then broil until cheese turns golden brown. Cut into 12 bread-sticks and serve hot with warm marinara sauce or plain. For a lighter version, do not top with cheese.

Cauliflower Pizza

For the base :
1 cauliflower (about 750g/1lb 10oz)
 100g ground almonds
 2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp dried oregano

 For the topping:
 1 can of chopped tomatoes
 1 tbsp tomato purée
 1 garlic clove, crushed
½ large aubergine, thinly sliced lengthways into long strips
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
1 small red onion, cut into 8 wedges
10 mushrooms of your choice, sliced
½ small bunch basil, leaves picked,  
125g ball mozzarella 
25g Grana Padano or Parmesan grated,
plus extra to serve a few pinches of chilli flakes

Heat oven to 200 C. Remove the leaves from the cauliflower then cut into chunks. Puls half the cauliflower in a food processor until finely chopped, like rice. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with the remaining half. Leave to cool a little. Squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the cauliflower, then transfer to bowl. Stir in the ground almonds, egg, oregano and plenty of seasoning. Line a baking tray with baking parchment and grease with oil. Mound the cauliflower mix into the centre of the tray, then use a spoon and your hands to spread out into a pizza size round. Make it a little thicker at the edges to create a ‘crust’. Bake for 15 mins until golden brown and starting to crisp a little at the edges. Meanwhile, heat a griddle pan, brush each slice on both sides with a little of the oil, season and cook for 5-6 mins, turning once, until softened and charred – you’ll need to do this in batches. Transfer to a plate. Brush the onions with oil, season and griddle for 5- 8 mins until softened and charred, same do with mushrooms.
To make the tomato sauce, mix the canned tomatoes, tomato purée, garlic and some seasoning in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan, bring to a simmer and cook gently for 8-10 mins until thick. Add basil leaves.
Once the cauliflower base is cooked, set aside to cool a little. Turn the oven up to 240C. Spread the tomato sauce over the base, sprinkle over the cheese, then arrange the eggplant, red onion and mozzarella on top. Scatter over the chilli flakes and return to the oven for 10 more mins. Before serving, shave over a little more cheese and scatter with the remaining basil leaves.


Cauliflower Burgers


For 2 burgers:
1 head cauliflower, green leaves removed, sliced
1 cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated hard cheese, like Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
Salt
Black pepper
½ cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 slices Havarti/provolone cheese
2 whole wheat bread buns, toasted
mustard, Spicy Hummus or Mayo
lettuce
Sliced roasted red peppers, sliced tomatoes

Preparation:

To make cauliflower steaks/ patties,  cut the parts of the cauliflower head with stem in half, creating two round “steaks”.
Combine the breadcrumbs with the grated cheese in a large bowl, along with a pinch of salt and some black pepper, and set aside. Bread the cauliflower “steaks” by dipping them in the flour, then into the beaten eggs, then into the breadcrumbs/parmesan mixture; set aside on a plate while you heat your pan with oil for frying.Heat enough oil in a large non-stick pan to shallow fry, about 1-2 inches; once oil is hot, add the breaded cauliflower “steaks” in and fry for roughly 2 minutes per side, or until golden-brown; place the “steaks” on paper towels to drain.Top each “steak” with a slice of cheese, and place it under the broiler (or small toaster oven) just to melt the cheese.
To assemble the burgers, spread some of the Spicy Hummus or Mayo onto both top and bottom toasted buns, then add some leaves of lettuce; place the cheesy cauliflower “steak” over the lettuce, then top it with a few slices of the roasted red peppers and tomatoes and cover it with the top bun; serve while hot with choice of sides.

Cauliflower “couscous


2-3 cups of cauliflower florets, dried completely
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup toasted walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
½ teaspoon dried cilantro leaves
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
2 tablespoons currants
1 cup cooked chickpeas
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

sauce:
½ cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon curry powder
salt

First, toast your nuts and roast your chickpeas ( this is optional).
Make your sauce by stirring together the coconut milk and curry powder, and a pinch of salt.
Pulse cauliflower in a food processor until it’s “riced” (to the size of couscous).
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cauliflower “couscous” and a a bit of salt. Let it gently toast for a minute or so and stir: you should see a few of the bits turning golden brown. Toss again and add the nuts and spices and chickpeas. Cook until the spices become fragrant (about 30 seconds more) and remove from heat.
Toss cauliflower mix with half the sauce, (not too much so it stays fluffy), and top with fresh cilantro. Taste and adjust seasonings and serve it with the rest of the sauce on the side.



Cauliflower mac and cheese

For 4:
1 big head of cauliflower (4 loose cups, chopped, plus extra small florets to leave whole)
350g brown rice elbow pasta
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves of garlic
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¾ - 1 cup cashew cream (see recipe below) or sharp cheddar
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
salt , pepper
pasta water, as needed to thin

topping options:
¼ cup bread crumbs
¼ - ½ cup parmesan cheese
super cheesy option: add an extra handful of cheddar under the panko
¼ cup chopped chive
a few pinches of red pepper flakes

cashew cream: (this makes extra,can be made ahead)
1 cup cashews, soaked for a few hours (strain soaking water before using)
¼ - ½ cup water
1 small garlic clove
¼ cup minced shallot
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt, to taste

If you're making the vegan option, start by making your cashew cream. (Strain the soaking water from the cashews). Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Scoop the cream out of the blender and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets and cook until tender but not mushy, about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to drain and scoop the cauliflower into a blender. When the cauliflower is out, bring your water back up to a boil and add the pasta.
Back to your blender - add the dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, to the cauliflower, and puree well. Add about ¾ cups of cashew cream (or cheddar cheese), sherry vinegar, and blend again. Add starchy pasta water, as needed, to thin the sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings. (Add more cashew cream if you want).
When your pasta is al dente, set aside a cup or so of pasta water, then fully drain your pasta and the water out of the large pot. Return the cooked pasta to the pot and stir in the sauce. Add more reserved pasta water as needed to create a creamy sauce.
Pour your pasta into a large baking dish (or a few individual sized dishes). Place the remainder of the cauliflower florets on top. Top with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese (if using) and a drizzle of olive oil. (optional: make it extra cheesy by adding a layer of sharp cheddar underneath and parmesan)
Bake until the top is golden and crispy - about 15 minutes depending on the size of your dish.
Remove from oven and top with chives and red pepper flakes.

Prawns with cauliflower “rice”


1 large cauliflower, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 lemons, juiced
(Parmesan cheese, 1 handful- optional)
Chicken stock - 500ml
Fresh parsley, chopped
20 large king prawns, peeled

Once you have prepped your ingredients, add the cauliflower to a large pan, with some olive oil and half the fresh garlic. fry off for around 5 minutes.
Now add the chicken stock and allow to simmer for 20 mins.
Meanwhile in a pan, fry the rest of the garlic gently on a low heat, and add the prawns. After cooking for around 4 minutes each side, squeeze over the juice of 1 lemon, toss the prawns in the parsley and set aside.
Once the risotto is taking form, add the juice of one lemon and season with salt and pepper and parmesan cheese if required. When the liquid has evaporated, add the risotto to plates. Top with the prawns and fresh parsley.



cauliflower Sweets?!
you better BELIEVE it!

CAULIFLOWER BROWNIES (LOW CARB AND GLUTEN FREE)

for about 25 brownies
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup raw cauliflower puree
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
100g of dark 90% chocolate
½ cup butter
60g cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup ground almonds
½ cup coconut flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tsp of maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp baking powder
⅛ tsp salt


Puree the raw cauliflower in a blender, then add your almond milk and puree together for another 30 seconds. Make sure its completely smooth and there are no chunks!
Put the butter, chocolate squares and cream cheese into a bowl and melt over stove. There may be a few small chunks of chocolate still not melted and that's ok.
Scrape the chocolate mixture into the blender with the cauliflower. Puree for about 20 seconds until well blended. Add eggs and blend well.
Add all of the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Pour the wet ingredients from the blender into the bowl containing the dry ingredients (scraping to get as much out as possible) and stir to combine thoroughly. The batter will be thick, almost mousse-like.
Grease a 9 x 9 baking pan and spread the batter evenly into it. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees (F) for 35 minutes. Remove and cool before cutting.

Cauliflower cookies

Dry ingredients
1/2 c. black eyed pea flour (use the grain setting on Blender if you can't find flour
1/2 c. chickpea flour
1/3 c. tapioca flour 
1/2 tsp cream of tartar 
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c. cauliflower pulsed in a blender/grated carrots
1/3 c. dried cranberries

Wet ingredients
1/4 c. honey
3 Tbs oil
3 Tbs apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix wet ingredients in one bowl and dry in another, then combine. Add cauliflower and cranberries
.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 15 minutes or until light brown then move to a rack and cool.


Cauliflower "RICE PUDDING"



1/2 cup finely grated (riced) raw cauliflower
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp honey
4 oz cream cheese or coconut cream
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup coconut milk (or Heavy Cream)
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon

To make the “rice,” cut the cauliflower into pieces and pulse in a food processor until small pieces of “rice.”  Heat 1/4 cup coconut milk with natural sweetener, extract, cinnamon. Let stand for 15 minutes. Beat egg yolks with 1/4 cup of coconut milk; set aside. Pour the almond milk in sauce pan, add cream cheese and cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Add cauliflower mixture and egg mixture to pan and stir to thicken. Pour into 4 small pudding dishes and refrigerate 1-3 hours. Serve and enjoy! Makes 4 servings.