Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cottage cheese cookies

These cookies are a healthy option for a snack or even a dessert. They are not too sweet (however you can adjust the sweetness to your taste), thus it would be a perfect company to your afternoon tea.
These lovely cookies won't leave the "heavy" aftertaste in your stomach, which is pretty common after you had a piece of cake, for example.

Cottage cheese cookies
makes approx. 35 cookies

3.5 cups of non watery cottage cheese ( I used 3 blocks of farmer's cheese)
2 ripe bananas (add more if you like your dessert sweet)
1 tsp of vanilla
lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup any nuts you have. I had walnuts, pecans and almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots,coarsely chopped (add more if you want it sweet)
4 tbsp of flax/chia seeds
1/2 cup of quick oats, blended into a flour consistency
1 cup shredded coconut (no sugar added)
Optional: 3 tbsp of honey for sweet desserts lovers

Gently mix the cottage cheese with  bananas, vanilla, lemon zest and honey (if using it).
In a different bowl mix all the dry ingredients: oat flour, 1/2 cup of shredded coconut, nuts, flax/chia seeds and apricots.
Combine two mixtures together. Refrigerate for an hour.
Once ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place a parchment paper on your baking sheet.
Using an ice cream spoon, scoop the cottage cheese mixture and form  cute little balls, dip each of them in the rest of the shredded coconut, and bake for 10 minutes.
Let it cool and refrigerate before serving.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bolognese sauce

I always crave for Italian food. I even have this dream to find an authentic Italian (and Mexican, Mediterranean,  German, etc) restaurant, where some italian grandma will cook italian dishes exactly as they cook back in Italy. It wouldn't be anything fancy, rather I imagine it would be small and cozy, home-style restaurant.
Aaaaanyway, my first attempt to make a bolognese sauce ended up great! I got a rich, flavorful, delicious sauce with mid-thick (does this word exist in the dictionary?) texture. I froze half of it, so it will save me a lot of cooking hours next time I to serve it.

What is interesting, is that I found out that the bolognese sauce should be never served with spaghetti! The pasta you use for this sauce must be thick or tubular, so it holds meat pieces properly.
It would be great if you have a heavy bottom pan, as simmering this sauce in it for 3-4 hours will be much easier.

I adapted the recipe from this website http://www.mangiabenepasta.com/ragu_bolognese.html, it seems to be one of the most authentic ones. The only thing I omitted were chicken hearts, other than that I kept all the ingredients and proportions as it is mentioned in original source. Here is another website without chicken hearts http://culinariaitalia.wordpress.com/2008/06/29/ragu-alla-bolognese-authentic-recipe/, well, those two recipes are pretty similar.

Thus there is no need to rewrite exactly the same recipe (click any of the provided link above). But I will be happy to show few pictures which I got during the cooking process. It was fun!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Beet & goat cheese salad

One of my favorite salads to have once in awhile, when I have all ingredients on hand. Exactly on hand!
You know, when you look at the recipe and it looks fantastic and seems like its pretty easy to make; and you are already imagining how you going to reproduce this incredibly easy recipe in your kitchen....and then you see something like: " roasted beets" or "homemade linguini " in the ingredients list; or "2 cups of homemade tomato paste" which you were supposed to make ahead because it takes 3 hours to make it! ugh...

So a disclaimer:  for this particular recipe you have to have a roasted beet. If you are asking how to roast it, here it is: wash the beets, let it dry, wrap it in the foil, and roast in the oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees F, let it cool for another 2 hours or so. If you are like me and this idea doesn't seem so exciting, then just go to the closest grocery store and buy the roasted beets.
When I have time, I usually try to roast beets ahead, few at a time. I keep it in my fridge for a week or even 2 weeks.

Beet & goat cheese salad
serves 1 person 

handful arugula
1/4 of roasted and cooled medium beet, diced
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

On  a bed of arugula  place the roasted beets, toasted walnuts and goat cheese. Pour the olive oil and  vinegar over the rest of ingredients. Season with black pepper.

Pasta Salad

Recently I have decided to cook a few authentic Italian dishes, using the original recipe's sources or at least the closest one to the original.
It is pretty fun, as cooking with a purpose is much more interesting.
So here, I will post few Italian recipes which have nothing to do with the healthy eating or any substitutions.
I do not want to mess up with "real" home cooking, so I use whatever the recipe asks for, even if it is a butter or lard or whatever.

The only substitution I will probably make is the whole wheat pasta, which i might use if possible, if not, then whatever pasta is needed. I will try to find and cook with the freshest and organic products, so the taste is real.
I will mark all related posts as "Authentic Italian", so you know it's not a clean eating etc.
But I promise you, IT IS worth it!!! To have a real pasta dish, with creamy butter and bacon (well, my first thought: butter->coconut oil, bacon->prosciutto)  is a treat which you can afford once in awhile, simply because you deserved it ;-)

My first shot, Pasta Salad:
source http://www.mangiabenepasta.com/salads_pasta.html
12 ounces (1 package) tri-colored bow tie pasta (cooked al-dente)
½ cup sliced scallions
2 roasted medium peppers, diced.
1.5 cup feta cheese, crumbled
few fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ cup chicken broth
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano
Mix pasta with scallions, feta, pepper and basil. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, chicken broth, lemon juice and oregano.
Pour sauce over the pasta. Stir gently. Serve immediately. Enjoy with a glass of wine on a summer porch!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mascarpone & Ricotta Cake

On Mother's day I decided to bring something sweet, while visiting my parents in law.
This cake recipe was chosen at the last minute (strike one!). If you decide to make it, make sure you have at least half the day, or ideally a day in advance, for the cake to become its best shape and taste.

Here is the source I originally saw the recipe Click here Seems pretty easy, right?
However with my intention to make simple things super complicated, I wasn't even sure If I should bring it to the guests at the end.
My strike two was that being in rush or distracted I didn't pay enough attention to the ingredient list. I'm not sure if that would make any difference, but I add a regular heavy cream (light version) instead of heavy whipping cream, which I suppose was meant to be in this recipe. Anyway, I added the regular cream (which wasn't whipped at all, it looked like a milk).

Also, knowing the cake may melt, I added a gelatin to keep it in a shape. As has happened a few times, I brought a cake which looked like a melted ice cream with fruits (long story).

So, if you decide to make this cake after all,  here is the recipe. It's actually very easy to make and it has this silky creamy texture, which is really good!

Mascarpone & Ricotta Cake
-4 cups of ricotta cheese (I used part skim)
-2,5 cups mascarpone
-4 tbsp raw honey
-1 package gelatin/ or stripe
-1 cup crushed toasted nuts
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1,5-2 cups dried fruits (I had prunes, apricots and nectarines)
-dark/shredded chocolate for decoration
-1 tbs orange extract (you can omit it if you don't have it)
-6 tbsp of heavy whipped cream (as I mentioned before I used a regular heavy cream, which wasn't whipped)
-sugar added shredded coconut for decoration

First of all take a damp cheesecloth and put in on the cake pan so you can cover the whole cake once its ready.

Mix mascarpone and ricotta cheese with blender, add honey. Make sure the cheese has a smooth texture, we do not need any lumps.
In a meantime, in the separate bowl prepare the gelatin according to the instructions on the package. Set aside.

And here it is: Whip the cream! If you are lucky enough and your cream is whipped (to tell you the truth I'm not even sure if it should be whipped..) add vanilla, orange extract, nuts and dried fruits to it.

Mix cheese with the rest of ingredients. Gently put it in a cake pan. Decorate with chocolate and shredded coconut. Cover with cheesecloth.Let it refrigerate at least 5 hours or more.

The moral of the story: learn how to whip the cream, pay more attention to the ingredients.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fennel & Pine nuts Salad

I have noticed, this recipe is pretty popular, the bigger part  of  food blogs I'm reading has this salad in their recipe book.
To tell you the truth, I have never tried fennel before (I even thought that the only edible part is the upper green one).
When I was a kid, I lived in Ukraine back then, my mom used to make this fresh spring salad, but we had a white shredded cabbage instead of the fennel. And lots of dills. Almost all Ukrainian salads should go with either dill or parsley.

Fennel & Pine Nuts salad:
2 small bulbs of fennel
1 medium cucumber
4-5 radishes
chopped dill
chopped chives
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
1 tbsp lemon juice
5-6 tbsp virgin olive oil (or any other oil)
1 tbs of white wine vinegar (I think regular will work too)
black pepper

Trim the fennel, here is the helpful link Click Here
Slice the fennel, radishes, cucumber very thinly. Add chopped dill and chives.
Mix the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and pepper. Pour over the sliced ingredients. Garnish with pine nuts.
P.S. Let this salad rest in a cool area at least 20 minutes before serving . 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ahi Tuna

I have never cooked Ahi Tuna before, for some reason I thought it is kind of complicated and for a real Chef, not for me. But guess what? - I followed the instructions this time! :-) And, I suppose the result I got was the right one: fried from the outside, raw on the inside.
And from this experience now I can tell  for sure: I am  not a fan of any raw meat or poultry. I can't eat undercooked filet mignon or anything cooked below the "medium" grade, the only exception is beef tartar.
However my picky husband raved about this one, I guess all raw meat-fish lovers would enjoy this recipe.
So here it is, Ahi Tuna:
-fillet of Ahi Tuna
-olive oil (or coconut oil)
-sesame seeds
-black ground pepper
-dry herbs (whichever you like)

Make a seasoning: mix oil with herbs and spices.
Dip each fish fillet in seasoning and sesame seeds. Make sure you skillet is very hot. Fry your fish 1 minute at each side. The End.

I served it with  black rice, which I adore (much more than any raw fish). I undercooked it (I like it a little bit crunchy), making my husband hate this rice, as HE supposes that eating undercooked rice is dangerous (it sounds pretty ridiculous while he is eating his raw fish) . Anyway, it was really really good rice!
I added a drop of truffle oil and drizzle with a lemon zest.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Запеченный камамбер

Лежал у меня одиноко в холодильнике камамбер. Идея его запечь была очень давно, но постоянно не хватало либо времени, либо желания. И вот свершилось!
Замечательная закуска к белому вину с орешками, грушами, крекерами или свежеиспеченным хлебушком, который можно макать в еще горячий сыр!

Запеченный камамбер с чесноком и травами
-головка камамбера (обычно он продается в деревянной коробочке, которую мы не выбрасываем)
-свежая веточка тимьяна и\или розмарина
-2 небольших порезанных зубчиков чеснока
-1 ст.ложка оливкового масла ( можно заменить белым вином)
Разогреваем духовку до 200 градусов по Цельсию.
Избавляемся от бумаги\фольги, в которой был упакован сыр. Нам нужна только коробка, в которую мы возвращаем сыр без бумаги. Крышка от коробки не нужна, только основа.
Делаем ножом несколько разрезов сверху сыра и аккуратно кладем в эти разрезы кусочки чеснока и имеющиеся травы.
Сбрызгиваем сверху оливковым маслом ( я взяла трюфельное, можно также заменить масло вином).
Кладем камамбер на лист для выпечки,  который заблаговременно нужно застелить фольгой, и выпекаем минут 10-12.