June 24, 2014

Food World Cup - Group D

More recipes to enjoy from this World Cup. 

This time, since today is an important day for Group D, let's see who is going home..along with England, to enjoy their beautiful dishes. Obviously not Costa Rica, since it is first in a group but it will be decided between Italy and Uruguay.

My favorite here is, currently the best in this group - Costa Rica, with an amazing soup. But I offer you to taste others as well, while I enjoy today's matches.

Olla de Carne - Costa Rican Beef Soup

This is an absolutely delicious Costa Rican staple dish,that used to be served at every evening meal. You will find it on the menu at many "sodas" (small diners) and "restaurantes". It is a stew-like soup with large chunks of beef and vegetables. The broth isn't as thick as the broth found in a typical American stew.

½ pound of yucca
½ pound sweet potatoes (camote)
½ pound of taro (tiquisque)
½ pound carrots (zanahoria)
½ pound of potatoes (pappas)
½ pound of calabaza squash (ayote)
1 chayote squash
1 green plantain (platano verde)
2 corns sliced in 1½” rings (elote)
1 bunch of fresh cilantro (culantro)
1 cup diced celery (apio)
1 cup coarsely chopped onion (cebolla)
3 cloves minced garlic (ajo)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
2 cups of chicken or beef stock (or 2 bouillon cubes dissolved in water)
1 teaspoon of achiote paste (annatto)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds bone-in beef, cubed beef or rib pieces cut into about 2 inch pieces

Place the meat in a large pot with the onion, garlic, cilantro, oregano, celery and salt and pepper. Add enough water to cover everything and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer until the meat is almost tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. Cut all of the vegetables into large chunks, about 1” to 1½” thick. Put the vegetables and chicken or beef stock in another large stock pot in the order they take to cook. Reserve the potatoes, sweet potatoes and squash until later because they need less cooking time. Bring the vegetable to a boil over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Then add the remaining vegetables and lower the heat to a simmer, transfer the meat to the vegetable pot and continue to simmer until everything is tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Olla de carne is usually served "family style" with a bowl of plain broth (or caldo) for everyone. The cooked meat and vegetables are placed on a large platter in the center of the table with a large bowl of white rice. Everyone adds a little rice to their broth and then tops it with some meat and their favorite vegetables.

Italian Minestrone

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 celery sticks with their green leaves, stringed and cut into small pieces
2 carrots, cut in 12 mm / 1/2" cubes
2 medium potatoes, cut into 12mm / 1/2" cubes
110g / 4oz shelled peas
110g / 4oz French (green) beans, topped and tailed and cut into 2.5cm / 1" pieces
110g / 4oz cooked beens
2 medium-sized zucchini cut into 12mm / 1/2" cubes
225g / 8oz ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded and coarsely chopped, or tinned plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with their juice
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 litres vegetable stock or water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
150g / 5oz tubular pasta, gluten/wheat free if required
freshly grated parmesan (optional)
30g / 1oz fresh basil leaves
30g / 1oz flat leafed parsley
1 garlic clove, peeled
30ml / 1fl oz extra virgin olive oil
Put the oil, all the vegetables, garlic and stock in a saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. Cook uncovered for 11/2 hours or so over a very low heat. The soup should just simmer, not boil.
Taste and add salt, if necessary, and the pepper.
Add the pasta and continue to cook until ready. The soup should be very thick (the Genovese say you should be able to stand a spoon up in it, but if it is too thick add a little water before you add the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, put the basil leaves, parsley and garlic in a mortar and pound with a circular movement. Add the oil and pound to a paste. Alternatively make the pesto in a food processor.
When the pasta is cooked al dente, turn off the heat and mix in the pesto. Add pepper to taste and leave the soup to rest for about two minutes.
Serve, with shaved parmesan, in a bowl.

Uruguayan sandwich - Chivito

1.   Chivito is the name of a sandwich-style national dish in Uruguay, and consists primarily of a thin slice of filet mignon (churrasco beef), with mozzarella, tomatoes, mayonnaise, black or green olives, and commonly also bacon, fried or hard-boiled eggs and ham.

the basic parts of a chivito:
• Steak
• Mozzarella
• Mayonnaise
• Bacon
• Olives
• A fried egg (just to, you know, top it off...)

"Chivito" means "little goat" in Spanish, and according to the story, the dish was created in the 60s when an Argentine asked a restaurant owner for a dish of roasted goat like the one from back home. The chef had no goat, but he created a sandwich and topped it with a little of just about everything. It was a hit!

4 sandwiches:

4 ¼-pound steak fillets, ¼-inch thick
Salt and black pepper to season
1 tablespoon oil
4 slices ham (optional)
8 slices cooked bacon
½ pound sliced mozzarella
4 ciabatta style buns, cut in half
½ cup roasted red pepper
4 lettuce leaves
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons mayo
Fried egg at the top

1. Season steak with salt and pepper on both sides. In a fry pan, heat oil and sear steak until medium rare, about 2 minutes each side.
2. Heat broiler. Place steak on an oven sheet with ham (optional) and cooked bacon;  cover with cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbling.
3. To serve, place steak with melted cheese and cooked bacon on bottom of bun. Top with roasted red peppers, lettuce, onion, tomato, and top with mayo.
Fry the egg in a pan and add ata the top. Close with other half of bread.

English Shepherd’s pie
(got the recipe from real English - Jamie Oliver's web site)

Shepherd’s pie is a classic British dish which pretty much everyone I’ve ever met has their own way of making. This is my way which I’ve kept really simple and I reckon you can’t go wrong with it. Make sure you buy the best quality mince you can afford, as it really makes the dish.

serves 6

• 1 red onion
• 2 carrots
• 2 sticks of celery
• 2 cloves of garlic
• a small bunch of fresh rosemary
• olive oil
• 500g good-quality minced lamb
• 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
• 250ml lamb or vegetable stock, preferably organic
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1.5kg Desiree potatoes
• 100ml semi-skimmed milk
• a large knob of butter

To prepare and cook your mince

• Peel and roughly chop the onion and carrots
• Trim and roughly chop the celery
• Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves
• Pick the rosemary leaves, discard the stalks
• Heat a large pan on a medium heat
• Add a good lug of olive oil and onion, carrot, celery, garlic and most of the rosemary leaves
• Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened
• Turn the heat up, add the lamb mince, and brown for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
• Use a sieve or slotted spoon to drain away any excess liquid from the pan, then tip in the tinned tomatoes
• Pour in the stock, season with a good pinch of salt and pepper and stir well, then bring to the boil
• Reduce to a low heat, pop the lid on slightly ajar, and simmer for 1 hour

To make your mash topping

• Peel the potatoes, cut them into halves and quarters depending on their size, and put them into a pan of salted, boiling water
• Boil for about 10 minutes until tender
• Stick a knife into them to check they’re soft all the way through
• Drain in a colander and return them to the pan
• Add the milk, butter and a pinch of salt and pepper
• Mash until smooth and creamy

To assemble and cook your shepherd’s pie

• Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5
• Transfer the lamb mixture to a large ovenproof baking dish
• Spoon the mash evenly over the top and poke the remaining rosemary leaves into the top
• Drizzle with olive oil, then cook in the hot oven for 25 minutes, or until golden and bubbling
• Serve with broccoli (see Brilliant broccoli) or some lovely peas

June 12, 2014

Food World Cup 2014 - Group A

With the World Cup on, who wouldn't be excited and inspired with all that is going on there!
As a huge football and food lover, I thought that beside watching games, it would be quite fun to get close and personal with authentic food all these nations are loving at their homes. 
 So here is my first group, in order as they play on World Cup. 
It might not be like that on the soccer field, but my definite winner here is Cameroon with one so exotic and unusual dish – Ndole. 
Judge for yourself! And enjoy watching games with some great food with it! 
Next group is coming soon!
Group A

Ndolé (Bitter-leaf casserole)

Ndolé is the vegetable dish of Cameroon. The dish consists of a stew of nuts, ndoleh (bitter leaves popular in West Africa), and fish or ground beef.
1.5 lb of Ndole (African bitter-leaf or substitute with pepper leaf of spinach)
1 lb beef with bones - cut into pieces
2big yellow onions  
1 branch or 1/3 of cup of celery -
2 tbsp fresh ginger - grated –
2 tsp African seasoning :(ginger, garlic, fenugreek, chilies, black pepper, cloves, coriander and cardamom)
garlic - 6 cloves (divided)
2 cups Fresh peanuts- boiled in water for 5 minutes  
2 leeks or scallion or green onion
½ jalapeno or habanero pepper (optional)
salt - to taste
1/2 cup of peanut oil -  or to your taste
3 cups ( beef stock)
2 lb Prawns
1 cup Crayfish ( Majanga)

In a deep pot at medium fire, bring your meat to Boil with 1/2 onion with African seasoning,  and salt. Cook until the meat is tender. Reserve.
In a blender, blend to a paste peanuts previously boiled with ginger,1/2 onion, habanero and leek, celery and garlic (3 cloves). Reserve this paste.
In a new pot over medium fire, add the peanut oil, sauté 1 onion diced, meat previously boiled without the juice, and add the peanut paste mixture. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes.
Taste the salt and season more if prefer.
Add the crayfish (crushed dried shrimp)
Add the ndole (bitter leafs/pepper leafs or spinach) and cook 10-15 minutes until you obtain a thick consistency stew. The Base of your Ndole is done.
GARNISH: In a sauté pan, add 3 tbs of oil, fry the prawns seasoned already with salt, african seasoning and 3 garlic cloves minced. Cook for 3 minute until pink color is achieved. Add 1 onion minced and cook just 3-5 mins time to `get the color translucent. Pour this mixture over NDOLE stew 5 minutes before serving.


Acaraje-Akara with Vatapa

1 lb (1/2 kg) dried black-eyed peas
1/2 cup dried shrimp
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 tsp cayenne or 1 small fresh chili pepper
Salt, pepper
palm or vegetable oil for frying

Soak the black-eyed peas overnight in cold water to cover. Drain. Rub off and discard the skins. Soak the shrimp in cold water for 30 minutes. Puree the peas, onion, shrimps, garlic and cayenne in a food processor. Season to taste with salt, if necessary. Form mixture into tablespoon size balls.
Meanwhile in a 5-quart pot or Dutch oven, fitted with a candy or deep-frying thermometer, or in an electric deep fryer, heat oil over medium-low heat. Fry the fritters in small batches until golden brown, turning once. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve at room temperature with Vatapá paste.

(Ground Shrimp Paste)
Vatapá is a paste used to accompany dishes such as acaraje-fried bean patties, and xinxim-chicken and shrimp stew. Ground shrimp vatapá is the most popular and there are variety of others

1 small garlic clove
1” ginger, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp ground roasted peanuts
2 tbsp ground roasted cashews
¾ cup ground dried shrimps
1 tbsp. cilantro leaves
2 tbsp. olive oil
2/3 cup palm oil
2/3 cup coconut milk
1 cup breadcrumbs

Combine onions, garlic, ginger, peanuts, cashews, ground shrimp and cilantro leaves in a food processor and process into a coarse paste.
Heat olive and palm oils and add the paste. Cook for 15 minutes in low heat, stirring occasionally. Add the coconut milk and breadcrumbs.
Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes and serve over Acaraje. 


Chicken tamales

1 8-ounce package dried corn husks
1 lb (1/2 kg) tomatillos, husked, rinsed
4 serrano chiles, stemmed, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken (about 1 pound)
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 1/3 cups lard or solid vegetable shortening or butter
1 1/2 tsp salt (omit if masa mixture contains salt)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (omit if masa mixture contains baking powder)
4 cups freshly ground masa dough for tamales (34 to 36 ounces), or make masa dough with 31/2 cups masa harina (corn tortilla mix; about 17 ounces) mixed with 2 1/4 cups warm water
2 cups (about) low-salt chicken broth

For filling:
Place husks in large pot or large bowl; add water to cover. Let stand until husks soften, turning occasionally, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
Preheat broiler. Line heavy baking sheet with foil. Arrange tomatillos on prepared sheet. Broil until tomatillos blacken in spots, turning once, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer tomatillos and any juices on sheet to processor and cool. Add chiles and garlic to processor and blend until smooth puree forms. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add tomatillo puree and boil 5 minutes, stirring often. Add broth. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until sauce is reduced to 1 cup, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Season with salt. Mix in chicken and cilantro. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

For dough:
Using electric mixer, beat lard (with salt and baking powder, if using) in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in fresh masa or masa harina mixture in 4 additions. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in 1 1/2 cups broth, forming tender dough. If dough seems firm, beat in enough broth, 2 tablespoons at a time, to soften.

Fill bottom of pot with steamer insert with enough water (about 2 inches) to reach bottom of insert. Line bottom of insert with some softened corn husks. Tear 3 large husks into 1/4-inch-wide strips to use as ties and set aside. Open 2 large husks on work surface. Spread 1/4 cup dough in 4-inch square in center of each, leaving 2- to 3-inch plain border at narrow end of husk. Spoon one spoon of filling in strip down center of each dough square. Fold long sides of husk and dough over filling to cover. Fold up narrow end of husk. Tie folded portion with strip of husk to secure, leaving wide end of tamale open. Stand tamales in steamer basket. Repeat with more husks, dough, and filling until all filling has been used. If necessary to keep tamales upright in steamer, insert pieces of crumpled foil between them.

Bring water in pot to boil. Cover pot and steam tamales until dough is firm to touch and separates easily from husk, adding more water to pot as necessary, about 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool 1 hour. Cover and chill. Before serving, re-steam tamales until hot, about 35 minutes.


Ingredients for the dough:
400 g flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon oil
Ingredients for the filling:
1-2 lb of cottage/ricotta/feta cheese
4 eggs
100 g butter
1 lb of sour cream

Mix to a firm dough of flour, 1 egg, oil and a little salt water. Form the dough into a ball and then stretch with rolling pin and brush with oil that does not dry off and cover with warm towel. Leave the dough to rest for 20 minutes.
Filling: stir the cheese , 4 eggs, melted butter and a pinch of salt mixture and mix until smooth.
Roll the dough on a table sprinkled with flour and roll it as thin as possible and then top the filling, sprinkle with butter and bend. Cut out filled dough with cup or the plate so they don’t open. Cook them like ravioli in boiling salted water, drain; sprinkle the rest of the butter and the cream over drained filled dough in large baking dish and bake in oven for 30 minutes at 180 ° C until golden brown.

May 25, 2014

Raw, raw ...

Raw food recipes

In the 21st century, food techniques have become so broad and some of the preparation methods so extravagant that they don't even resemble simple regular cooking methods anymore. For instance, Molecular Gastronomy - in other words, experimental food science - is pretty incomprehensible and almost not possible to perform in a regular household. However, while so much was modernizing, some culinary arts were going back to almost prehistoric times. As pollution and and nutrition became closely related and the intake of nutrients minimized in the last fifty years, a new concept emerged - raw food. 
The raw food diet started in newest chapter of history. In the 19th century it was used as a way of healing illnesses, like cholera in USA, but was soon accepted after that as a legitimate healing and recovering treatment in Swizerland

As oppose to trying to explain the entire history of this diet, I will try to give you variety of recipes to try and prove to some of skeptics out there that this food preparation can also produce very tasty and flavorful food. Most of the people today have the opinion that what is healthy cannot taste good. I think that this "brainwashing" is just a product of the fast-paced life, which is lived today, as well as a product of people being "chained" to big fast food-chain corporations, which have succeeded in their goal of selling more by using artificial additives  in their food preparation.

I was inspired to look into the raw food realm by one of my coworkers, a young girl, that made some great desserts this way, so I started to explore more...
Whether you just want a change, or if you need to do it for your health, I have picked up some ideas from my friend Leanna, the web, and books. Here are my choices:

TIP: As you start preparing raw food meals, you’ll soon realize that ingredients are just a guide and approximate, and that your major conductor should be your own taste buds.

TOOLS:In Raw food preparation, it's useful but not mandatory to have these few preparatory tools: Spiralizer and Dehydrator, and of course food processor. But don't worry if you don't have them, spiralizer can be easily replaced by regular grater, dehydrator with ordinary oven and food processor with blender or even coffee grinder to grind all those nuts and seeds.

Have fun and enjoy your healthy, light raw meals!

Raw Pasta Primavera:

Pasta described here consists of veggie noodles and uncooked blended sauce made of tomatoes, spinach or similar. For the noodles you can use any type of long vegetables like zucchini, squash, even   
Zucchini - 2 medium-sized, possibly spiralized or grated into strips like linguine 

May 9, 2014

Time of the Gypsies - Ederlezi

Gypsies/Romas/Gitanos/Tziganes/Cigani, how much you know about them?
However you call these people, or this ethnic group, they are still mystery and very little is known about their history, customs and their real life.  What is known and what is reality is, that they suffered a lot troughout the history and they are still unfairly treated in many parts of the world, even in very developed countries.
This week Gypsies celebrate their most important holiday – Ederlezi, along with some other ethnics groups around the world, as this day is also known among Christians as Saint George’s Day.
I know that Mother's Day is around a corner, but I always wanted to dedicate one of my posts to these folks. I met some of them in the past, and developed loads of sympathies and understanding for their temperament and nature. No offence to moms, as I am one of them, but Gypsies deserve to be mentioned, at least equally. Somehow,"Liberté, ÉgalitéFraternité"   and "Brotherhood and Unity" was imbedded in my core.

It is believed that the Roma people originated from India, which they left around the tenth century. Causes of migration of Roma are one of the greatest mysteries of history. Today, they live all over the world, and most of them are in Europe. It is difficult to determine with certainty the number of Roma in the world but according to unofficial data, UNICEF estimates that this number is between 400,000 and 700,000.

The Ederlezi celebration begins the evening of the 4th of May and lasts all night and in the morning on May 5, all gypsies’ community go to picnic, to a meadow with natural water.  At that place they do ritual washing, as described and shown in EmirKusturica’s movie “Time of the Gypsies”. Older people go to the cemetery and mourn their dead. After daybreak they go to the market and buy a lamb (Bakhrengoro dive), white, because black is considered a "bad luck." Lamb is brought home alive. The house and garden are decorated willow branches, a symbol of health and fertility. The next day, on St. George's Day – May 6th, is an early rise when they wash their faces "to be healthy and rosy like the Easter egg”, with some good herbs and flowers. The lamb is prepared for a slow roasting over a fire. For a lunch roasted lamb is served with young spring vegetables, a piece of bread and a dessert. Besides lamb roasts, specialty of Ederlezi (Đurđevdanski) table is also lamb “sarmica” – rolled lamb jacket filled with rice, onions and seasoned well. In the same way lamb stomach - bumblebee - topped with sweet milk and eggs and baked.
The second and third days are left for guests to come. It is said that Ederlezi - Đurdevdan lasts as long as the lamb, and the lamb’s head is eaten on the third day.

May 2, 2014

Hand Woven Skirt

My skirt is finally done!
Putting threads together to get final product is an amazing and so exciting job! It's like putting pieces of puzzle together. For me, it is "like a box of chocolate...you never know what you gonna get.."

Most complicated part was fitting it and styling it. As I don't use any patterns, it took little more than few weekends to get it in shape. I'm pretty happy with the result. 

See entire process from picking threads, designing weaving pattern to weaving on a loom and sewing, on my craft blog..

It started from this..weaving is amazing work!

April 22, 2014

Easter Eggs - colored this Easter

My daughters and I spent very busy Saturday coloring eggs mostly with Pysanky.
With some of their friends over, drawing designs, learning how to use kistka, with loads of smoke and fumes of melted wax and candles... it was really fun event for everyone.
So before I completely forgot how and what we did and start puling my egg coloring bag again next year, I got the idea to make this "Easter coloring notes" photo album. It's nice to remember and it could use as an inspiration for the next time.
Some tips from this year: melting of wax is better done over candle than in the oven, since some of my dyes started to melt as well! And make some effort to pick quality dyes, it makes difference during coloring and applying color over eggs.

Here are some of our Easter Eggs of 2014:

April 17, 2014

Easter Eggs - Three methods of Coloring / Traditions

  • Coloring with Pysinky, Naturally with herbs and in Steamer 
  • Faberge Eggs  
  • Easter Egg customs around a world

On this Easter Thursday, I thought it would be handy to have some of the best methods of dyeing (not dying) at hand, all in one post. 
So I'll resurect three unusual and most beautiful egg dyeing methods for me, all here:
*Ukrainian Pysinky, 
*Natural in onionskin and fruits and vegetables with herbal imprints and 
*Abstract egg coloring in Steamer (new that I discovered these days and definitely the fastest).

Pick your way and have fun! Happy Easter!

April 14, 2014

Easter breads, terrines and pasta pies / Natural Easter eggs coloring

Here are my new food discoveries and some fun recipes that will put some interesting twist on anyone's Easter cooking.
If you still didn't decide and want to change this year your boring and classic Easter table , I have some recipes for you. Just one of these additions will impress and cheer up your food layout for this upcoming Holidays.

Casatiello tricolore|
Napolitan Easter Bread

March 8, 2014

Women's Day

Poster in former Yugoslavia
Poster in USSR 
German women asked to celebrate their day

On March 19, 1911, International Women's Day was marked for the first time by over a million people all over Europe. In the Austro-Hungarian Empire alone, there were 300 demonstrations. Women demanded right to vote and to hold public office. They also protested against gender-discrimination in employment. Americans, at the beginning of last century, celebrated National Women's Day on the last Sunday in February

February 13, 2014

Sweet Contribution

Today's special post is a contribution from my daughter

Although a debate is her passion, she likes to cook and makes us surprises with her school recipes and bakes. Here greatest fan is, her younger sister that absolutely adores all her bakes and could eat probably full pan of these goodies. So here is her list of  bakes that she achieved to collect, and this way it will never be lost and forgotten.

Everyone loves these bakes, so if you're trying to be nice to someone today, this is easy and simple resolution!


February 11, 2014

Hand woven top

After few complications and couple of treads out and back to the loom, I made this short top for my daughter in about one long weekend.

February 7, 2014

Nut Cake with personality(ies)

I was busy with cake making these days and getting to fulfill everyone’s desire. It’s not easy to get teenagers to love your homemade cake when you're trying to make it good, tasty yet not over the top loaded with sugar, white flour, butter and all these "dangerous" ingredients,... plus to have some thematic persons/personality.

January 16, 2014

New craft - Socks Doll

Always child in heart, I couldn't resist the challenge to make a doll. See the result on my Craft Zexxy's wife-Crafts

January 14, 2014

The Food Quest

My regular grocery shopping consist of almost daily visits to the convenient Downtown’s supermarkets. Over the weekends I like to go and check out some of the local food stores around the town in search for good authentic ethnic food and charcuterie. While most bloggers in January review their year, I'm starting this year with some of my favorite food "blocks"/spots around the town, “locals”, as today is so popular to say.
Do not take this as an advertisement for anyone. It’s my own take on multicultural advances of the life in this city.
Call it the food quest!