June 15, 2015

What you can('t) find in Olympia

Every once in a while, we cross the border and visit the Washington State, mostly for a long weekends.
 Contrary what most of the border Canadians do, we don't go shopping  in big outlets or buy containers of milk. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it's just not our thing.
We go to have a good time and fun.

Few weeks ago, we went back to Olympia, small capital city of the Washington State. Not too far from us, if you don't count two hours of waiting time a the border (it was long weekend ??!), passing Settle, you find yourself in an idyllic little town, with the Capitol Hill building at the top of the hill. It looks like a White House, but most of capitol buildings look alike in the United States.

City had a marathon event, organized that weekend, with Start/final point right in front of our hotel (one of the two in the city). So everything was quite cheerful- hotel full of families waiting for the dad and moms to cross the finish line.

Exploring small city like this was really enjoyable, with nice cafes that offer live folk music over the weekends, entertaining city center with fun water fountain, free tour of the Capitol Hill, idyllic park near Capitol lake, where you can also eat your lunch or handmade ice-cream, right on the grass. Right in the city center is also great supermarket with loads of cooked food and good choice of local and international wines. Along the marina, right on the waterfront, you can find amazing little restaurants that offer fresh local seafood with very affordable prices. And not only seafood!

Localy made ice-cream and more
The Cafe's social justice library
All with loads of  great live music
What really impressed me in this little city is the artisan lifestyle that everyone are proud. In the city, you cannot find large department stores or food chains, all area is dedicated to unique little stores, cafes, boutiques etc..

Right across the lake is The Traditions Cafe, with live music and jamming where you can jump in, if you feel like playing, have handmade delicious ice-cream or pie and read about world's social justice, right from the small cafe's library. Cafe also sell and support international crafts and handmade products.
 (Cafe completely up to my ideal standards!)
Pottery cafe is very active over the weekend!

You can also do something crafty yourself in pottery cafe, where for little bit more then cake and coffee, you can make and paint your own cup or plate and they will send it to you, if you are not staying more then few days in the city.

Food is far from boring. Considering the size of the city, international selection of restaurants is amazing: from classic American vintage dinner style and cooking to international: Asian, Italian etc..
During a day, you can pay visits to several artisan bakeries or food stands, and enjoy the soup or pack a sandwich for your sailing trip that most of the people practice here. 

Highlight of my trip would be my diner at La Gitana, Spanish pizzeria, not only because of the pizza (which I give high mark for thin crust and variety), but the atmosphere and original authentic music and flamenco dance I was able to participate among other restaurant guests. Local flamenco dancers with their founder , thought me how to dance this Spanish gypsy dance I dreamed to dance, ever since I was a child.  But, beside the group of amazing dancers, music that was played and sang that evening, performed by some stunning voices and passion, exalted already boiling atmosphere.

I just can't wait to came back again!

Pulling the scarf from my neck, was greeted passionately among everyone, especially the main flamenco dancer, so we continued dancing together!

I wish I can play here the music and songs they played, the voice and guitar was just pure 10.

I can only say praise to the places I visited and here is my list of what not to miss in Olympia:
La Gitana,
Anthony's Hearthfire grill,
Aya sushi,
Pho Sai Gon
New Moon Cafe,
Sidewalk Cafe,
and of course The Traditions Cafe

And can I just add that bus transit in the city, like in many others in US, is free! Unlike in Vancouver!

May 15, 2015

Popsicle - easy and tasty summer treat

Hot days are coming, and a need for some ice cold drinks and treats.
Combining fresh fruits and freezer can be a winning combination and solution if you don't want to fill yourself with some ice cream t(h)reats of extra calories, this year.
So get the fruits you love, blender and start loading your freezer with your homemade healthy ice treats - fruit popsicle.

If you don't have popsicle molds, all the work can be easily done in some narrow cups or glasses with some sticks put in the middle of your blended mass.

Let's get some recipes and start making them now:

Strawberry coconut popsicle:

Serves 8

1 pound strawberries, hulled
1 cup coconut milk or cream
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup honey
chopped strawberries

Puree the strawberries, milk, yogurt, honey, in a blender until smooth.
Pour the mixture into 10 3-ounce or 8 4-ounce ice-pop molds/glasses, dividing evenly. Insert ice-pop sticks and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours .

Cucumber, mint popsicle

2 large English cucumbers, chopped (about 6 cups)
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh lime juice
3/4 cup agave nectar

Puree the cucumber, mint, lime juice, agave in a blender until smooth. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing with a spatula to remove as much liquid as possible.
Pour the mixture into 10 3-ounce or 8 4-ounce ice-pop molds/glasses, dividing evenly. Insert ice-pop sticks and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 4 days.

Peaches and cream

3 cups peach or nectarine (apricots welcome)
3/4 cup coconut cream
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (optional)
chopped strawberries (optional)

Whisk together the peach nectar, cream, sugar, ginger in a large bowl until smooth. Mix in chopped strawberries Pour the mixture into 10 3-ounce or 8 4-ounce ice-pop molds/glasses, dividing evenly. Insert ice-pop sticks and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 4 days.

March 2, 2015

Handwoven coat

It's been a month almost, since my last post, but I've been really busy with creation of my biggest project, so far. 
Creating coat, from selecting threads, weaving it, until the final design, draping, sewing and fitting, without any previous training in any of this, was enormously hard and challenging task. After almost three months of work, including hours of digging trough library books and internet, I finally designed and tailored one large piece of woven fabric into the wool coat. Here is my result:



The process

from weaving to the final cut and sewing
The most complicated part was fitting and using the fabric that I made to design shape of the coat that will use 5 m of fabric and not a centimeter more. It was actually 4.5 m at the end since I previously made a shirt for my daughter from it. 
Library really helped in discovering "draping", method of fitting fabric over the model and designing your own pattern. 
Cutting hand woven fabric and then sewing it, without any ripping and losing of threads was also a tricky job. But one of the weaving websites had exactly that and explained how to do it. So I got some of that material with glue (not sure how they call it officially)


I used  6 black rolls of 100% wool thread and about dozen cotton yarns in combination of colors (dark brown, metallic brown - gold, green, blue/purple, purple)
Weaving was done in November on my four shaft loom

Finished weaving taken off the loom was about 5m long
I used  leather pieces from the old black leather skirt for the front lining, and brown satin lining for all other inside lining.

 Designing and fitting

I tried few different ways to fit the fabric, and had a real problem, because of the limited amount of fabric.

The collar making

This part of fabric (brown and blue strip) was originally destined to be a belt but at last minute it turned out that it would give better accent to the coat as a collar,

Sleeves and buttons

Made from two parts, sleeves have also hand made buttons from leftover parts .

Similar are made for the belt at the back, since belt can be detached when not needed


That was , surprisingly the hardest part of all the process, and I didn't know that it will be until the final end. Sewing it to the black leather that I attached earlier was a realy complicated. Finally I just sew it, without any measuring. It was a pure luck that it turned out good.

February 12, 2015

Grumpy Cake and blouse (not so grumpy)

Grumpy cat created from marzipan
It was that time of year again! My oldest daughter's birthday.
Although she's seventeen now, she still had some requests for her birthday cake. Oh, and it was at a last minute!
It's hard for me to, kind of, overhear the requests.. I'm not sure why, maybe that's just a mother's thing, but I put myself in loads of problems with that... For instance, spending all day making the cake. But it was worth, she was really excited, when I put the cake in front of her.
Grumpy cat, everyone's favorite, was so grumpy...And her comic style figure, doing Presidential Debate against Mr Cat..
She asked for the Lemon tart-like cake and that was not so great, lemon filling was overpowering, so next time I should find more mild lemon recipe.
Because of that I'll put the lemon tart recipe that my daughter made for her sister's birthday. 

My weaving was done recently, so I combined it with some great silk, recently find at a one of the greatest stores for sewing and crafts  "Dressaw", and made this shirt for her:

January 26, 2015

Down under ..recipes

It's Australia day and at a same time first big tennis tournament of the year. Kind of occasion to get familiar little bit more with what's popular to eat down there.

I explored food on every continent except Australian, so I think that  it's the best time..Food is not complicated there, so with loads of unusual meat, some of the desserts look pretty cool! It's, of course influenced by British, so you'll find similarities.
I managed to get full menu, from the most popular soup , to couple of desserts.
How they will celebrate it tonight, well I guess with some of these traditional recipes:


Beef and Beer pie

½ kg (about 1 ½ lb) beef fillet steak meat, cut into 2cm pieces
 2 tbsps plain flour
 2 tbsps olive oil
 1 onion, coarsely chopped
 2 garlic cloves, crushed
 2 tsps chopped fresh thyme
 1 can chopped tomatoes
 1 cup of beer

prepared flaky pastry,
 1 egg, lightly whisked

Tomato sauce, to serve

Place the beef in a large bowl and sprinkle with flour. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and thyme and cook, stirring, until onion is soft. Add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Stir in the tomato and beer. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until beef is tender (about 1h). Set aside.
Preheat oven to 220°C. Place a baking tray on the middle shelf. Cut the pastry sheet into quarters. Line 4 round 3cm-deep, pie tins with pastry. Brush the edges with egg. Divide the beef mixture evenly among the pastry cases.
Cut each puff pastry sheet in half diagonally. Top the pies with puff pastry and trim excess. Press the edges to seal.
Brush the pies with egg. Cut a small cross in the centre of each pie. Place the pies on the baking tray and bake in oven for 25 minutes or until golden and puffed. Serve with tomato sauce.

Australian pumpkin soup

Ginger, garlic and turmeric (already in the curry powder) get mellow together in a quick and healthful luncheon soup. In this version, tofu replaces the heavy cream that is traditionally used.

8 cups organic vegetable stock
6 cups butternut squash, cut into cubes
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp finely minced ginger
2 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp fresh thyme
¼ cup heavy cream or yogurt
3 to 4 tbsps light or yellow miso

In a large pot combine the vegetable stock, squash, onion, ginger, garlic, curry powder and thyme, mixing well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for ½ hour, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.

Puree the soup mixture in a blender or food processor. Add some cream and miso to each batch and puree until it is well combined. Serve hot.

Anzac biscuits

These iconic biscuits were originally made for the ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) serving in Gallipoli

85g porridge oats
85g desiccated coconut
100g plain flour
100g caster sugar
100g butter, plus extra butter for greasing
1 tbsp golden syrup or honey
1 tsp baking soda


Heat oven to 180C. Put the oats, coconut, flour and sugar in a bowl. Melt the butter in a small pan and stir in the syrup/honey. Add the baking soda to 2 tbsp boiling water. Stir gently to incorporate the dry ingredients.
Put tbsp of the mixture on to buttered baking sheet, about 1in apart. Bake for 10 mins until golden.

Neenish tart

A neenish tart (or neenish cake) is a tart made with a pastry base and a filling consisting of sweet gelatine-set cream, mock cream, or icing sugar paste, with dried icing on the top of the tart in two colours. The addition of a layer of raspberry jam is a common recipe variation. The tart was originally created in Australia, and is mainly found there and in New Zealand. The origin of the name "neenish" is unknown. The tart has a superficial similarity to the American black and white cookie.


 1 3/4 cups plain flour
 1/3 cup almond meal
 1/3 cup icing sugar mixture
 150g butter, chilled, chopped
 2 egg yolks
 1 tbsp iced water
 3/4 cup raspberry jam

Mock cream
 1/3 cup caster sugar
 1/4 cup milk
 3/4 tsp gelatine powder
 1 1/2 tbsps boiling water
 180g butter, softened
 1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract

 3 cups icing sugar mixture
 1 tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder
 1/4 cup boiling water
 Rose pink food colouring

In food processor, process flour, almond meal, icing sugar and butter until fine crumbs. Add egg yolks and water. Process dough just to come together, shape into a disc. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.
Preheat oven to 200C/180C. Grease a 4cm-deep, large round flan tin. Roll pastry 3mm thick. Line prepared tin with pastry. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Place prepared tin on a baking tray. Line pastry with baking paper. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove baking paper. Bake for a further 10 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Cool in tin.
Meanwhile, make Mock cream: Place sugar and milk in a pot and heat until sugar is dissolved. Sprinkle gelatine over boiling water in a heatproof jug. Whisk with a fork until gelatine has dissolved. Add gelatine to milk mixture. Cool to room temperature. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in gelatine mixture until well combined.
Spread jam over base of pastry case. Top with mock cream, spreading to level. Refrigerate while preparing icing.
Make Icing: Place half the icing sugar in a bowl. Add cocoa powder and half the boiling water. Stir well to combine. Repeat with remaining icing sugar and boiling water in a separate bowl, adding food colouring (if desired). Spread chocolate icing over half the tart, levelling top with a spatula. Spread pink icing over other half of tart. Serve.

Iced Vovos

Iced VoVo biscuits are favorite with Australians. The combination of the buttery biscuit base and pink sugar icing, raspberry jam and coconut is just too good to resist.

125g butter, softened
125g sugar
1 egg
90g self raising flour
160g plain flour
For the topping

2 cups icing sugar
2 tsps softened butter
1 1/2 tbsps of boiling water (I needed about 3 tbsps)
a few drops of cochineal or pink colouring (if desired)
3/4 cup raspberry jam
3/4 cup desiccated coconut

Cream the butter and sugar, then whisk in the egg until well combined. Mix in the flours until a soft. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 150C. Grease two baking trays or line with baking paper. Cut the pastry in half and roll out each half on a lightly floured surface to about 2inch thick. Cut out squares with cookie cutter or cut 5cm squares from the dough using a sharp knife.
Place on the prepared trays allowing a little room for spreading and bake for 15 minutes, or until light golden. Cool completely.
Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add the butter and few tbsp. of boiling water to mix to a smooth spreading consistency. Add the cochineal to turn the icing a medium pink colour.

Spread a 1cm strip of icing down each side of each biscuit. Spoon the jam down the middle, then sprinkle with the coconut. Leave on a wire rack to set completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Tim Tam cookies


225 g plain flour
25 g cocoa powder
1 tbsp malted milk drink (I used Horlicks)
1 level tsp baking powder
115g butter (softened)
115g  caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup


100g softened butter
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp malted milk powder


200g milk chocolate

Set oven to 160°C/ 325°F

Sift together the cocoa, flour, malted milk powder and baking powder. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add the syrup. Add the mixture to the flour, cocoa and baking powder mixture.
Roll out the dough to a thickness of about ¼ inch.

Cut the dough into fingers, finished biscuits should be about 6cm long and 4 cm wide. Place onto parchment on a baking tray. Bake for approximately 15 minutes. Remove from oven . Leave in tray until almost cool, then transfer onto wire rack.
Beat together the ingredients for the filling, then use to sandwich biscuits together.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over barely simmering water. Remove the bowl from the pan. Dip the biscuit sandwiches into the chocolate until completely covered. Shake off excess chocolate. Place on a rack to dry.

Lamington cake

This cake is created to use leftover cakes. It became so popular that is now found everywhere and is really creative way to use your stale sponge cake.

You don''t need much beside stale sponge cake:
melted chocolate
grated coconut

Cut your sponge cake into little cubes and dip into melted chocolate. Coat with coconut and leave to dry.
You can take it to the next level by adding some cream or layer of frosting in between two slices and then dipping into chocolate.

January 6, 2015

Epiphany and Orthodox Christmas

6th and 7th of January are very important dates in Christianity.
Christians chose January 6 quite early in their history as a feast day representing Illumination, Manifestation, Declaration according to Matthew , Luke and John .The earliest reference to this date - Epiphany, as a Christian feast, was in A.D. 361,noted as the Christ's "Birthday, His Epiphany" Prior to 1976, Anglican churches also observed an eight-day feast, beginning on January 6. 
Today in Eastern Orthodox churches, the emphasis at this feast is on the Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Second Person of the Trinity and baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist Trinity manifested to humanity as God the Father by speaking through the clouds, God the Son - baptized in the river, and God the Holy Spirit in the shape of a dove descending from heaven . Thus this holy day is considered to be a Trinitarian feast.

The Orthodox Christians consider Christ's Baptism to be the first step towards the Crucifixion,
The Eve of the Feast is called Paramony (Greek: παραμονή, Slavonic: navechérie). Paramony is observed as a strict fast day, on which those faithful who are physically able, refrain from food until the first star in the evening, On January 7th they celebrate Christ's birth-Christmas.

customs around the world

In France people share one of two types of king cake. In the northern half of France and Belgium the cake is called a Galette des Rois, and is a round, flat, and golden cake made with flake pastry and often filled with frangipane, fruit, or chocolate. In the south, in Provence, and in the south-west, a crown-shaped cake or brioche filled with fruit is called a Gâteau des Rois. Both types of cake contain a charm, usually a porcelain or plastic figurine, called a fève (bean in French).

The cake is cut by the youngest person at the table to assure that the recipient of the bean is random. The person who gets the piece of cake with the charm becomes "king" or "queen" and wears a paper crown provided with the cake. This person has a choice between offering a beverage to everyone around the table, or volunteering to host the next king cake at their home.

In England, the celebration of the Night before Epiphany, Epiphany Eve, is known as Twelfth Night (The first night of Christmas is December 25–26, and Twelfth Night is January 5–6), The yule log was left burning until this day, and the charcoal left was kept until the next Christmas to kindle next year's yule log, as well as to protect the house from fire and lightning. In the past, Epiphany was also a day for playing jokes, similar to April Fool's Day. A traditional dish for Epiphany was Twelfth Cake, a rich, dense, typically English fruitcake. As in France, whoever found the baked-in bean was king for a day, but unique to English tradition, other items can be included in the cake. Whoever found the clove was the villain, the twig-the fool, and the rag- the tart. Another English Epiphany dessert was the jam tart, made into a six-point star for the occasion to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, and thus called Epiphany tart. Different coloured jams can be used on the tart for luck, creating a dessert with the appearance of stained glass.

In southern India, Epiphany is called the Three Kings Festival and is celebrated in front of the local church like a fair. Families come together and cook sweet rice porridge called Pongal. This day marks the close of the Advent and Christmas season and people remove the cribs and nativity sets at home.
In the past the "kings" were chosen at this day, only from among high-caste families, but since 1946 the celebration has been open to all. But participation is still expensive as it involves getting a horse, costumes, and providing a buffet to the community afterwards, This is undertaken gladly since having son serve as a king is considered a great honour and a blessing on the family.

The Irish call Epiphany the Feast of the Epiphany or traditionally Little Christmas or "Women's Christmas". On the feast of the Three Kings, women traditionally rest and celebrate for themselves after the cooking and work for the Christmas holidays. They may also receive gifts from children, grandchildren or other family members on this day. Other Epiphany customs, which symbolize the end of the Christmas season, are popular in Ireland, such as the burning the sprigs of Christmas holly in the fireplace which have been used as decorations during the past twelve days.

There are varying stories about Epiphany and Italy. In some parts of Italy on the eve of January 6, fairy visits children to fill their socks with candy and presents if they had been good or a lump of coal or dark candy if they had been bad.

Lebanese Christians who gathered for the mass congratulate each other on that day by saying : "El Deyim Deyim" which translates as "The permanent is permanent". They also mix dough made out of water and flour only and it rises outdoors with no yeast by being blessed Lebanese Christians also pray for their deceased.

Epiphany in the Macedonia is known as Vodici (Водици).On this day the priest throw a wooden cross in water body (river or lake) to symbolize the baptism of Christ.[citation needed] Men jump into the cold water to retrieve the cross and the one that manages is believed to be blessed during the whole year These are very festive gatherings. Special food is jelly form pork and beef meat and bones called "pacha" (пача) or "pivtii" (пивтии), prepared the day before, but served on the day after Epiphany, together with warm local brandy, rakija (ракија). Epiphany is a non-working day for the Orthodox believers in Macedonia.

On January 6, as in much of Europe, a Polish style Three Kings cake is served with a coin or almond baked inside. The one who gets it is king or queen for the day, According to Polish tradition this person will be lucky in the coming year. Recipes vary by region. Some serve a French-type puff pastry cake with almond paste filling, others favor a sponge cake with almond cream filling, or light fruitcake. Epiphany in Poland also signals the beginning of zapusty or carnival time, when Pączki (doughnuts) are served.

In Portugal, Epiphany, January 6, is called Dia dos Reis (Day of the Kings), during which the traditional Bolo Rei (King cake) is baked.

As in other Orthodox heritage countries, water rites also play a special role on this day. In Romanian folk it is believed that if a girl slips on ice - or falls into water- on Epiphany, she will surely marry before the end of year.

Epiphany is a public holiday in Sweden, where it is known as "trettondedag jul" ("Thirteenth Day Yule"), as January 6 is the thirteenth day after Christmas Eve, the main day on which Christmas is celebrated in Sweden. However, the end of the Christmas celebration is on January 13, St. Knut's Day, more commonly known as "Twentieth Day Yule" (or "Twentieth Day Knut").

Epiphany Recipes:

(Collected over internet sites and networks, first are Emeril Lagasse's recipes)

Kings Cake


2 envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup warm milk (about 110?F)
5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
4 cups confectionerís sugar
1 plastic king cake baby or a pecan half
5 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Purple-, green-, and gold-tinted sugar sprinkles

Combine the yeast and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the melted butter and warm milk. Beat at low speed for 1 minute. With the mixer running, add the egg yolks, then beat for 1 minute at medium-low speed. Add the flour, salt, nutmeg, and lemon zest and beat until everything is incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, forms a ball, and starts to climb up the dough hook.
Remove the dough from the bowl. Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball. Lightly oil a bowl with the vegetable oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Meanwhile, make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1 cup of the confectioner's sugar. Blend by hand or with an electric mixer on low speed. Set aside.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using your fingers, pat it out into a rectangle about 30 inches long and 6 inches wide.
Spread the filling lengthwise over the bottom half of the dough, then flip the top half of the dough over the filling. Seal the edges, pinching the dough together. Shape the dough into a cylinder and place it on the prepared baking sheet seam side down. Shape the dough into a ring and pinch the ends together so there isnít a seam. Insert the king cake baby or pecan half into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough.
Cover the ring with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft-free place. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Brush the top of the risen cake with 2 tablespoons of the milk. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Make the icing. Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons milk, the lemon juice, and the remaining 3 cups confectioner's sugar in medium-size mixing bowl. Stir to blend well. With a rubber spatula, spread the icing evenly over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the sugar crystals, alternating colors around the cake.
The cake is traditionally cut into 2-inch-thick slices with all the guests in attendance

Kings Doughnuts

1 package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water, not hotter than 110 degrees F
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup melted butter
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 recipe King Cake Icing, as follows
Purple, Green and Gold sanding sugar

2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice


Place the yeast and the warm water in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Let stand for about 5 minutes or until the yeast begins to bubble. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 8 minutes. Scrape the edges of the bowl every few minutes. If you do not have a standing mixer, knead the dough for about 15 minutes.
Remove the dough from the mixer and place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough proof at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Generously flour a cutting board or a flat surface. Roll the dough out until it is 1/2-inch thick. Cut the doughnuts using a 3-inch round cookie cutter. Cut out the center with a round 1/2-inch cutter. Transfer the doughnuts to a greased baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Let the doughnuts proof at room temperature for another 30 minutes.
Preheat a fryer to 325°F and fry the doughnuts in batches until golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the doughnuts to a paper towel lined baking sheet or a rack positioned over a baking sheet and let cool for 3 minutes.
Working one at a time, dip one side of a warm doughnut in the King Cake Icing and then sprinkle as desired with purple, green, and gold sugar. Repeat with the remaining donuts.

King's Cake 2

Emeril Lagasse recipe

1 pound white bread, such as Pullman loaf or French, cut into 1-inch cubes
8 large eggs
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 cups plus ¼ cup whole milk
4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 ¼ cups Confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Purple, green and gold sanding sugar, for decorating
Blackberry Compote, for serving, optional
Lemon Goat Cheese Ice Cream, for serving, optional, or storebought vanilla ice cream

3 pints blackberries
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ lemon, juiced and zested
½ vanilla bean, halved lengthwise

3 cups whole milk
1 1/3 cups sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
7 large egg yolks
1 pound soft, mild goat cheese, crumbled at room temperature


Place the bread in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and whisk until thickened and smooth. Whisk in 5 cups of the milk, then pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes and allow to sit for about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Brush a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with some of the melted butter, coating well on all sides, then gently stir the remaining melted butter into the bread mixture. Spoon the bread mixture into the buttered pan and transfer to the oven. Bake until the center of the bread pudding is set and the top is golden brown, 55 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

While the bread pudding is cooling, combine the confectioners’ sugar, remaining 1/4 cup milk and the lemon juice in a small bowl and stir until smooth. After the pudding has cooled for 15 minutes, pour the sugar glaze evenly over the top, then decorate with the colored sanding sugar as desired.


In a large saucepan combine two pints of the blackberries and the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the berries have released their juices and the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining blackberries. Set aside to cool.


Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl and place another slightly smaller heatproof bowl on top.

Combine the milk, sugar and lemon zest in a large saucepan and bring just to a boil.

In a heatproof mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth, then whisk in some of the hot milk mixture, little by little, to temper the yolks. Whisk the yolk-milk mixture into the hot milk remaining in the saucepan and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat immediately and strain through a fine mesh sieve into the bowl set over the ice bath. Whisk in the goat cheese until smooth, then allow to cool to room temperature. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.

Galette de rois
Authentic French recipes

When working with puff pastry, it’s important to keep it well-chilled and work quickly when rolling as it tends to get stubborn as it warms up. Keep the second piece in the refrigerator until after you’ve rolled out the first. After rolling, brush off any excess flour. And make sure to seal the edges really well to avoid the filling leaking out.
Frozen puff pastry can often be found in the freezer section of well-stocked supermarkets. Avoid brand that list fats other than butter in the ingredients for best results. If you don’t want to use alcohol, simply omit it or use a few drops of orange flower water in its place.
Almond Filling
  • 1 cup (100g) almond flour
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • pinch salt
  • zest of 1/2 orange (unsprayed)
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100g) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon rum
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 pound (450g) puff pastry, divided in two pieces, chilled
a whole almond or piece of candied fruit to be the fève
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon milk
1. To make the almond filling, in a medium bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the almond flour, sugar, salt, and orange zest. Mash in the butter until it’s completely incorporated. Stir in the eggs one at a time, along with the rum and almond extract. (The mixture may not look completely smooth, which is normal.) Cover and chill.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On lightly floured surface, roll one piece of puff pastry into a circle about 9 1/2-inches (23cm) round. Using a pot lid, plate, or bottom of springform pan as a template, trim the dough into neat circle. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
3. Cover it with a sheet of parchment paper or plastic film, then roll the other piece of dough into a circle, trim it, and lay it on top. Chill the dough for thirty minutes.
4. Remove the dough and almond filling from the refrigerator. Slide the second circle of dough and parchment or plastic from pan so that there is only one circle of dough on the parchment lined baking sheet. Spread the almond filling over the center of the dough, leaving a 1-inch (3cm) exposed border. Place an almond or piece of candied fruit to act as the fève (prize) somewhere in the almond filling, if you wish.
5. Brush water generously around the exposed perimeter of the dough then place the other circle of dough on top of the galette and press down to seal the edges very well. (At this point, you may wish to chill the galette since it’ll be a bit easier to finish and decorate, although it’s not necessary. It can be refrigerated overnight at this point, if you wish.)
6. To bake the galette, preheat the oven to 375ºF (180ºC.) Flute the sides of the dough (as shown in the photo) and use a paring knife to create a design on top. Stir together the egg yolk with the milk and brush it evenly over the top – avoid getting the glaze on the sides, which will inhibit the pastry from rising at the edges. Use a paring knife to poke 5 holes in the top, to allow steam escape while baking.
7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the galette is browned on top and up the sides. (During baking, if the galette puffs up too dramatically in the oven, you may want to poke it once or twice again with a paring knife to release the steam.) Remove from the oven and slide the galette off the baking sheet and onto a cooling rack. The galette will deflate as it cools, which is normal. Serve warm or at room temperature.
English Twelfth night cake

½ pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ pound sugar
5 eggs, beaten
¼ cup brandy
½ pound all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ pound raisins
1 cup blanched almonds, chopped
1 dried bean

Mix all ingredients together and bake in 180C for about twenty minutes


Epiphany Tart

1 1/2 C. flour
1/2 C. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
9 Tbl. cold stick butter, cut into pieces
1 egg yolk

an variety of jams

In a food processor, pulse dry ingredients to combine. Add butter and pulse until coarsely cut. Break up the yolk and add in parts, pulsing for 10 seconds after each addition. When the dough clumps, turn dough out onto a work surface. Knead lightly to mix in any unincorporated ingredients. Press into bottom and partially up the sides of a buttered tart pan. Shape the wise men's star with extra dough by pinching and pressing together. Place in freezer for 30 minutes. 

PACHA (Macedonian recipe)

2 pork leg
2 pigs ears
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp paprika
Pork leg (No. 2) and ears (No. 2) Boil in salted water until ready, shortly before becoming fully ready, add bay leaf (1 pc). The meat is removed, 
drained and cut into small pieces, and the broth, which is meat boil, 
strain. In a pan put the chopped meat, pepper (1/2 teaspoon) and chopped garlic (4 cloves). Pour broth and the patch was allowed to cool, and then placed in a refrigerator to gelatinize. The patch is served cut into pieces and sprinkle with red pepper (1 tsp). Note: To gelled well patch must be prepared, the amount of water which is boiled ears and the feet, is only slightly. After being placed in the pan, pour the meat as much water as cover.


(2 large Roscones)
2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast or 1 envelope 7 oz., plus 4 tablespoons of warm water 4 cups of all purpose flour 1 teaspoon of salt 1/2 cup of sugar, plus more for garnish 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, melted 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract 2 large eggs at room temperature 1 beaten egg for the glaze 2 tablespoons of melted butter for the glaze 2 cups diced or sliced guava paste
Pour 4 tablespoons of warm water into a small mixing bowl. The water should be hot, but not so hot that you can’t bear to put your fingers in it. Add 1/2 of the sugar and yeast, and stir to dissolve.
Wait about ten minutes for the yeast to begin to grow. In a large mixing bowl add the flour, salt, remaining sugar and the water and yeast mixture and begin mixing. Use your hands for this, as you really get the perfect feel for the consistency of the dough. Add the butter, vanilla and eggs. Mix well. Knead the dough on a clean, dry, flat surface. Sprinkle your work surface with a handful of flour, put your dough on top, and start kneading. Add bits of flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking to your hands, or surface. Keep kneading until the dough is ready. This may take 8 to 10 minutes. It will be quite elastic. It should not be too dry, however, it should still give and stretch easily without tearing. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 30 seconds. Cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Punch the dough down and divide into 2 equal size pieces.
Shape each piece into a smooth long rope. Then, using a rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into a long rectangle. Place the guava paste in the middle of each rectangle and roll the dough up jelly-roll style. Connect the two ends together, forming a ring. Repeat the process with the other rectangle. Place the rings, seam side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, Cover and let rise in a warm place for 20-30 minutes. Using a pair of scissors, make cuts in the dough at 1 1/2″ intervals around the outside edge. Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Brush the tops of the rings with the beaten egg and melted butter. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the rings are baked through. Sprinkle with sugar on top and let them cool slightly before serving.

Orthodox Christmas customs and recipes

Orthodox Christmas Eve and Christmas Day traditions vary by region, but are similar in symbolic meanings. In Serbian Orthodox customs, oak tree or branch called "badnjak" (much like a yule log in other European traditions), , is ceremonially cut early on the morning of Christmas Eve. The felling, preparation, bringing it in, and laying it on the fire, are very ritual. The burning of the log is accompanied by prayers for a happiness, love and luck. The log burns on throughout Christmas Day, when the first specially chosen visitor strikes it with a branch to make sparks fly for a good luck. Custom is inherited from the old Slavic traditions. They interpret the "badnjak" as an incarnation of the spirit of vegetation, who dies by burning to be reborn, and its sacrifices and prayers were offered for the fertility of fields, the health and happiness of the family. The burning symbolized sunshine, life power in the coming year. The custom that a family brings a log into the house and burns it on Christmas Eve is attested among other South Slavic peoples, with similar names for the log.
Food traditionally made on those days has a special meaning. In Russia and some other Orthodox nations, twelve meals have to be ritually served, similarly to thirteen for the Provencal Christmas Eve, I have talked about in my last post. Cooked wheat has a special place for these holly days. It is called "кутья" in Russian or "Žito" in Serbian. The bread called "česnica" is baked early Christmas Day with a hidden coin inside, and than broken between family members. Who ever got a coin will have the best year, prosperity, luck and health, according to the old beliefs. Armenians have their special vegan pumpkin dessert and Russians have their beet soup - Borsch, of course.
Many Orthodox nations in Africa have similar traditions, but less known. Eritrean tradition is for mothers or daughters to brew Suwa, homemade beer, and bake Injera, a thin, flat spongy sour bread preferably made of Taff flour and cook Zgni, a hot meat stew. Green straw (Setti) is spread on the floor.
Old New Year has less religious but more symbolic traditions and beliefs.
It is believed to be a bad luck to fall asleep on the New Years Eve. More good food on the table for this day, more prosperous year!
However, these days many of us have made New Year's resolutions thinking about better and healthier diet plan for this year. So I have chosen these fabulous vegan recipes, prepared for Orthodox Christian Holidays around a world, traditionally consumed in a days of fasting. Fasting is still important part of traditions in Ortodox Church. It has a deep meaning in cleansing not only your body but also the mind.
I think you can comfortably include some of these recipes in your new diet plan, family weekly menu or some special events. They are unusual, healthy and very tasty!
"Žito" or "кутья" or "кољиво" (Cooked wheat)
(traditional Serbian recipe)
I would call this dish the "origin" of today's cereal. It is much healtier because cooked wheat has its skin preserved and it is made from scratch.  It can be a dessert, or a snack or any time meal. It is prepared for many festivities in traditional celebrations and for fasting Holidays because it is vegan.
Every family has it's own recipe, and definitely it depends on your personal taste.
This recipe is flexible, and you can make it up to your taste. Amount of honey and fruits and nuts can vary and can be adjusted as you make a "žito":
300 g whole wheat kernels
Honey (to the taste)
100 g chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts..)
100 g dried fruits (raisins, apricots, plums..)
Clean wheat, wash in a strainer under running water, drain and put in a pot and pour water to cover the width of the hand. First boiled water trow away and pour in new water. After boiling cook for about 1 hour or untill soft and kernels broken. Then remove from heat. Grind drained wheat (Food Processor) untill you get almost paste-like consistency (as shown on the photo above). Then add honey, choped nuts and dry fruits . Blend well with a hand.
Serve with whipped cream or vanila yogurt if desired.
Prebranac (refried beans)
1/2 kg (1lb) white beans (big lima type),
1 kg (2lb) onions,
1 tbs sweet red paprika,
1 tsp salt,
black pepper
1,5 l water,
0.1 l vegetable oil
Cook beans on slow temperature, half way cooked, throw away water. Again return to stove, and cook until beans are almost cooked.
Chop onions into thin slices. Heat oil in a big frying pan. Add onions, black pepper, salt and red paprika. Cook untill onions look crystal and soft. Preheat oven to 250 C. In a deep oiled casserole, preferable clay, add first one layer of cooked beans (1/3 of beans). Next layer: cooked onions; again add the layer of beans etc. End with onions. Put a covered dish in the oven for about 45 minutes, till you get nice crust on it and most of water evaporates.
Similar, but more spicy "prebranac" is made in Macedonia and called "Gravče na tavče".
(traditional Armenian recipe)
This spectacular Armenian specialty is strictly vegan because it is prepared for the Christmas Eve fasting. But if you want to prepare it for some other special occasion, my suggestion is to cook rice in milk instead of water with a few tbsp of sugar. That way after baking it in the oven, subtle pumpkin flavour infiltrates the rice pudding and with few chopped sweetened pieces of ginger and cinnamon, takes this dish to the higher culinary level. I made it for the first time this year and took a few pictures (shown above). It is a one funky looking dish!
1.5 kg pumpkin
70g rice (2.5oz)
70g butter (2.5oz)
70g dried plums, apricots, peaches (no seeds) (2.5oz)
25g honey (or sugar) (1oz)
30g raisins (1oz)
200g apples (diced/cubed) (7oz)
1g cinnamon powder
Salt to taste.
Wash pumpkin, cut off top, remove guts and wash again. In bowl, mix half-cooked rice, washed raisins, dried prunes/apricots/peaches, small cubed apples, and cinnamon. Mix all well. Cover inside of the pumpkin with honey and than put the stuffing in the pumpkin.
Put top of pumpkin back on and bake at 150c until soft.