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Monday, November 30, 2009

Lentil Soup with Tomatoes


Adapted from Classic Middle Eastern by Soheila Kimberley

Taste 3 (out of 5)

Difficulty 1 (out of 5)


- 45 ml/ 3 tablespoons of olive oil

- 1 large onion chopped

- 1 celery stick chopped

- 400 g/ 14 oz/ 2 1/2 cups red lentils (if use yellow or brown lentils cook longer)

- 1.2 liters/ 5 cups meat stock

- 4-5 tomatoes

- juice of 1 lemon

- 2.5 ml/ 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder (optional)

- salt and freshly ground black pepper

- celery leaf, to garnish

My changes: 2.5 cups of chicken broth and 2.5 cups of water instead of beef stock, paprika instead of clili powder.


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion and celery, over a gentle heat, until soft. Add the lentils and stock to the pan, bring to the boil and then simmer for 25 minutes, or until the lentils soften.

2. Peel the tomatoes by dipping them into boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen the skins.

3. Roughly chop the tomatoes and ad the to the saucepan with the lemon juice, salt and pepper and the chili powder, if using. Simmer for a further 10 minutes and serve garnished with a celery leaf.


Pretty good soup. It turned out very sick, maybe one can add more water.

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Tomato Soup


Adapted from Michael Chiarello, the Food Network recipe, but with lots of changes

Taste 3 (out of 5)

Difficulty 2 (out of 5)


- 3 medium sized tomatoes (15 oz)

- 2 tbsp canola oil

- 1 tbsp olive oil

- 2 tbsp butter

- salt and freshly ground black pepper

- 1 stalk celery, diced

- 1 small carrot, diced

- 1 yellow onion, diced

- 2 cloves garlic, minced

- 1 cup chicken broth

- 1 bay leaf

- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

- 2 cups 2% milk


1. Preheat oven to 450F. Cut tomatoes in quarters and place them skin side down on a baking sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and bake for about 15 minutes until caramelized.

2. Meanwhile grind the onion and the garlic. Heat canola oil in a medium size sauce pan, add the onion the celery, the carrot and the garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 10-15 minutes.

3. Cool the tomatoes on a rack, the skin should easily come off and chop the tomatoes into smaller pieces.

4. Add the roasted chopped tomatoes, chicken broth, water, bay leaf and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 20-30 minutes.

5. Add basil and milk and cook for another 10 minutes on lower heat. Puree with a hand immersion blender until smooth.


Pretty good soup.

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Kung Pao Chicken



Taste 3 (out of 5)

Difficulty 1 (out of 5)


- 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

- 1 cup cashew nuts

- 1 lb stir fry mix (chopped carrots, baby corns, broccoli, snap peas, mushrooms, water chestnuts)

- 1 tsp soy sauce

- 1 tsp cornstarch

- 1/2 cup kung pao sauce (e.g., Simply Ming Kung Pao sauce)

- 1 tbsp canola oil


1. Toss the chicken with cornstarch and soy sauce and fry on a preheated skillet with canola oil on high heat until browned.

2. Add the stir fry vegetable mix and cook until almost ready.

3. Stir in the cashew nuts and the kung pao sauce, fry for another 2-3 minutes and serve over boiled rice.


- Can also add egg whites to the chicken in the first stage, as Ming Tsai recommends on his site.

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Simple Brownies

A friend’s grandma

Taste 4 (out of 5)

Difficulty 1 (out of 5)

- 200 g margarine, melted
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp baking powder if not using self rising flour
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

1. Mix all ingredients in no particular order.
2. Grease a 9x13 inches baking pan and pour the batter in.
3. Bake on 350F for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.

- Taste-vise the brownies are fluffy, light and very good.
- I made them in a Perfect Brownie pan set and the brownies were higher than the dividers, the tops were sticking together so they would not come out cleanly and easily. In the future, for using the Perfect Brownie pan, try using 2/3 of the quantities.

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Apple Crumb Coffee Cake

Adapted from Perfect Brownie recipe book with adjustments to reduce calories and fat

Taste 4 (out of 5)

Difficulty 2 (out of 5)

For the dough
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup yogurt
- 1 egg and 2 egg whites
- 2 tbsp orange juice (or syrup from candying citrus peel)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking soda (mixed with 1 tbsp lemon juice or apple vinegar)
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the filling
- 2 cups diced peeled apples
- 1/4 cup sliced candied citrus peel (optional)
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
For the crumbs
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup margarine
- 1/4 cup pecans

1. For the batter, mix all the dough ingredients in no particular order.
2. Toss apple and candied citrus peel with brown sugar and sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent apples from browning.
3. For the crumbs, mix sugar, flour and margarine with your fingers to form rough crumbs. Add in the pecans, and mix a bit more.
4. Grease a 9x13 inches baking pan and pour the batter in, add the apples and then sprinkle the crumbs on top.
5. Bake on 350F for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.

Light and fluffy dough, not too sweet. We really liked it. And it smelled great in the oven.

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Simply Ming Kung Pao Sauce

Source: Simply Ming

Can be used to make Kung Pao Chicken

Taste 3 (out of 5)

Difficulty 3 (out of 5)


- 3 tablespoons minced garlic

- 2 tablespoon minced ginger

- 2 tablespoons sambal oelek

- 1 cup dark soy sauce

- 3 tablespoons sugar

- 1/2 cup rice vinegar

- 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water for a slurry

- grapeseed or canola oil for cooking

- salt and black pepper

Makes about 2 1/2 cups


1. In a wok or saute pan coated lightly with oil over high heat, add garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute, just to soften.

2. Add sambal, taking care not to inhale the chile, and saute until well-blended.

3. Add soy sauce to deglaze, then add sugar and rice vinegar.

4. Bring to a boil and slowly whisk in slurry to thicken. Check for flavor and season if necessary.

5. Keep warm to use in recipes or cool to room temperature, store in an air-tight jar and place in the fridge.


- Way too spicy for me - I would cut the sambal oelek in half, at least.

- I made half the amount (but I used 1 tbsp of cornstarch and 1 tbsp of water for the slurry), and it turned out way too thick and much less than 1 cup, when it was supposed to be 1 1/4 cups. Maybe I should have used the right measure of slurry or maybe I cooked it too long.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Farmers Cheese and Berries Coffee Cake

Taste 2 (out of 5)

Difficulty 2 (out of 5)

For the dough
- 200 g margarine at room temperature (1400 cal)
- 1/2 cup sugar (385 cal)
- 2 cups all purpose flour (910 cal)
- 1 tsp baking powder
For the filling
- 150 g farmers cheese (220 cal)
- 250 g frozen berries (140 cal)
- 1/2 cup sugar (385 cal)
- 4 eggs (280 cal)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (12 cal)
Total 3730 calories (9 inch/ 22 cm round cake pan), 12 servings, 311 cal / serving

1. For the filling, in a small sauce pan warm the frozen fruits together with 1/2 cup of sugar, bring to room temperature and set aside to cool.
2. In a medium bowl mix the cottage cheese with the eggs and the vanilla extract using hand mixer. When the berries are cool add them to the bowl and mix with a spoon.
3. For the dough, using a mixer, mix first the margarine with the sugar. Once smooth, add the flour and the baking powder. Mix with the mixer, until crumbs form. If the dough becomes too smooth, form crumbs using your fingers.
4. Grease a 9 inch/ 22 cm round cake pan. Pour 2/3 of the crumbs into the pan. Do not press. Add the filling and top with the remaining crumbs.
5. In an oven preheated to 375F bake for 25 minutes, then cover the top with aluminum paper and bake on 350F for another 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake is dry.
6. Remove from the cake pan when cool.

- The cake turned out to be a little bit too dry, maybe I should have baked it for 30-35 minutes.
- Mixed berries might not be the best filling for this cake, they are too liquid once you defrost them, so by the time the middle of the cake bakes the crumbs become too dry. It should be better with apples or peaches/apricots or with cheese alone.
- The cake tastes better when warm.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Spinach and Lemon Soup With Meatballs


Classic Middle Eastern by Soheila Kimberley

Taste 3 (out of 5)

Difficulty 2 (out of 5)


- 2 large onions

- 45 ml / 3 tablespoons of oil

- 15 ml / 1 tablespoon of ground turmeric

- 225 g / 8 oz / 2 cups of minced lamb

- 450 g / 1 lb of spinach, chopped

- 90 g / 3 1/2 oz / 1/2 cup yellow split peas

- 50 g / 2 oz / 1/2 cup of rice flour

- juice of 2 lemons

- 4 eggs, beaten

- salt and freshly ground black pepper

- 1-2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped

- 30 ml / 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh mint or spinach

My changes:

I used beef instead of lamb, cornstarch instead of rice flour and 8 egg whites instead of 4 eggs.

Also, I cooked the garlic together with other ingredients and not separately for the garnish.


1. Chop one onion. Heat 30 ml / 2 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion until golden. Add the turmeric, split peas and 1.2 litters / 5 cups of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes.

2. Grate the other onion. Put it into a mixing bowl, add the minced lamb and seasoning and mix well. Using your hands, form the mixture into small meatballs, about the size of walnuts. Carefully add to the saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes, then add the chopped spinach, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Mix the flour with 250 ml / 1 cup of cold water to make a smooth paste. Then slowly add it to the saucepan, stirring all the time to prevent lumps forming. Stir in the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and cook over a gentle heat for 20 minutes.

4. Heat the remaining oil in a small pan and fry the garlic until golden. Stir in the mint and remove the pan from the heat. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the beaten aggs. Sprinkle the garlic and mint garnish over the soup and serve.


Turned out a little too sour, maybe can use juice of 1 or 1.5 lemons next time.

I mixed the cornstarch with cold water a bit in advance, and it kept forming lumps at the bottom, at least until I mixed it into the soup (then, who knows). But now looking at some sites, it seems that cornstarch separates from water eventually, so maybe the mixing should be done right before adding to the soup and not in advance.

To Recipe...

Meatballs with Zucchini



Taste 3.5 (out of 5)

Difficulty 2 (out of 5)


- 360 g of ground beef (936 cal)

- 130 g of onions (53 cal)

- 170 g of bread (400 cal)

- 110 g grated zucchini (18 cal)

- 2 garlic cloves (10 cal)

- 1/2 cup of milk (65 cal)

- 3 egg whites (45 cal)

- 1 teaspoon of salt

- 1 teaspoon of salt black pepper

- 1/4 cup of combined chopped fresh parsley, mint, oregano, cilantro

Total 1526 calories, 11 meatballs, 138 cal / meatball


1. Grind zucchini, chop the onions and the garlic and fry with a little oil until onions are lightly brown. Let cool a little and mix well in a blender.

2. Soak the bread in milk and mash it with hands.

3. Add all other ingredients and mix well.

4. Line a baking sheet with aluminum paper and grease it. With slightly wet hands form the meatballs (about 6x4x1.5 cm) and place them on the sheet.

5. Broil the meatballs (on medium rack) for 12 minutes, flip over and broil for another 10, flip again and broil for 6 minutes. Let cool on the tray.


- Turned out a little wet inside, maybe next time should add less milk or eggs.

- Next time can try broiling for 15 minutes on each side and flipping only once.

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Friday, November 13, 2009



Home sweet home

Taste 4 (out of 5)

Difficulty 2 (out of 5), but time consuming - chop chop chop


- 5 medium sized potatoes (820 cal)

- 3 large carrots (90 cal)

- 5 eggs (350 cal)

- 6 beef veiner sausages (780 cal)

- 2 cups of corn (240 cal)

- 6 pickles (45 cal)

- 10 tablespoons of mayonnaise (400 cal)

Total 2725, 6 servings, 454 cal / serving

My changes:

As usual I used corns instead of green peas.


1. Boil potatoes and carrots in skins and eggs in shells. Boil corn, if frozen. Boil sausages. Drain and let cool.

2. Peel the skins and cut all ingredients (including pickles) into 1/2 cm cubes.

3. Mix and add mayonnaise.

4. If you want to keep the salad for a couple of days, it’s best to keep the pickles and sausage separately, and mix and add mayonnaise shortly before serving. Once the salad is ready it will stay in a fridge for 2 days.


Could have used 2-3 more potatoes for this amount of other ingredients.

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Rugalech (the no yeast version)


Taste 2 (out of 5)

Difficulty 3 (out of 5)


For the dough:

- 4 ounces (120 g) cottage cheese, at room temperature

- 110 g unsalted margarine, at room temperature

- 1/8 cup brown sugar

- pinch of salt

- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

- 1 cup all purpose flour

For the chocolate filling:

- 1/2 tablespoon cocoa

- 1/4 cup sugar

- 1/4 cup grated bitter-sweet chocolate

- butter, melted

My changes:

The original recipe calls for cream cheese, not the cottage cheese and for cinnamon in the filling, which I skipped.


1. Blend cottage cheese in food processor until smooth and uniform

2. Mix all the ingredients for the dough

3. Roll the dough in a ball, cut into 2 pieces, wrap each one in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

4. On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle (about 1/8 inch thick). Spread the melted butter and sprinkle the filling and press lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 16 equal wedges. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.

5. Brush each cookie with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

6. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.


- The filling is good, the dough is too soft, and I am not sure whether using the cream cheese (not the cottage) would make a difference.

- The cookies are way too small, truly a bite size.

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