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Monday, December 28, 2009

Coffee Shortbread


Suzie the foodie blog or

Taste 3 (out of 5)

Difficulty 3 (out of 5)


- 250g butter, at room temperature (1850 cal)

- 1 cup/ 150g icing sugar (580 cal)

- 3 tsp instant coffee (6 cal)

- 3 tsp water

- 2 3/4 cups (415g) plain flour (1510 cal)

- demerara sugar, to sprinkle (120 cal for 2 tbsp) (optional)

Total 4066 cal, 45 cookies, 90 cal/cookie


1. Preheat oven to 180°C. With an electric beater, mix 250g butter, at room temperature and 1 cup (150g) icing sugar until pale and creamy (almost white). Dissolve 3 tsp instant coffee in 3 tsp water. Beat into butter mix.

2. Stir in 2 3/4 cups (415g) plain flour until well combined (the mixture will appear crumbly at first − keep stirring). Roll walnut-sized balls and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

3. Use a fork to flatten the balls and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and crisp. Set aside to cool.


- The coffee smell in the cookies is a little unusual, but the taste is subtle and very interesting.

- I cooked 2 batches - 1 on the lower rack and one on the upper rack, and even though I rotated them after 10 minutes, the batch that stayed on the lower rack for the last 10 minutes was slightly burnt at the bottom. It might be better to take the lower rack batch after 7-8 minutes.

- The dough is very crumbly, as you might be expecting from the short bread, and it’s hard to maintain a smooth round form when pressing with a fork. It might be better to roll the dough and cut out the individual cookies, to make the edges smoother.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Orange Loaf


Taste 3 (out of 5)

Difficulty 1 (out of 5)
- 1/2 cup/ 50 gr pecans or walnuts coarsely chopped
- 2 cups/ 280 gr all-purpose flour
- 1 cup/ 200 gr light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp ground orange or other citrus zest
- 4 tbsp/ 57 gr softened margarine
- 1 large egg, well beaten
- 1 cup/ 240 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp orange extract

1. Mix baking soda with the orange juice, stir well, until bubbles appear and all the baking soda dissolves. If you skip this stage, the cake might have a bitter trace of baking soda.
2. Beat all ingredients except the nuts together, preferably with an electric mixer. The batter will be rather firm. Add the nuts and mix gently with a spatula.
3. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan and pour the batter. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
4. Let cool in the loaf pan, remove and let cool completely on a wire rack. Serve warm or cold, with cranberry sauce, jam or whipped cream.

- Taste-wise it’s great. The texture could be better.
- This cake is a bit too heavy for my taste. I like lighter loaf, so in the future I would add milk or yogurt. But then the cake would not be dairy free.
- Another option might be pouring a citrus syrup over the loaf to make it wetter.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Loobia Polo - Persian Green Bean Pilaf



Taste 4 (out of 5)

Difficulty 4 (out of 5)


- 2 lb / 900 gr ground beef or lamb

- 2 lb / 900 gr green beans

- 1 large onion

- 2 tomatoes

- 3 tbsp tomato sauce

- 1 tbsp lemon juice

- 4 cups rice

- 1 tsp turmeric

- 4 tbsp canola oil

- salt and black pepper to taste

Total 6-8 servings


1. Place the rice in a bowl, fill the bowl with warm water and gently wash with your fingers. The starch from rice will make the water white. Drain the rice and repeat 3-4 times until the water remains clear. Washing out the starch makes the rice less sticky, so that the grains remain separate after cooking. Fill the bowl with water, add about a teaspoon of salt and let stand, preferably for 3-4 hours, but can be less if you did not plan it ahead of time.

2. In a large pot, preheat 2 tbsp canola oil. Slice the onion and fry on low-medium heat until golden brown for about 10-15 minutes. Remove the onions from the pot, add the ground meat and saute on medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. In a separate medium sized pot boil water. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water for about 30 seconds to a minute. Remove the tomatoes and let cool or wash under cold water to speed up the cooling. Now it should be easy to peel to tomato skin with your fingers.

4. Now use the boiling water for the rice. Wash the rice one last time and add to the boiling water. Let boil for 5 minutes, at the end add the turmeric, stir until all the rice is equally yellow colored, remove from the stove top and drain.

5. In the meantime grind the onion and the peeled tomatoes in a blender. Add the resulting mixture to the meat. Cut the green beans in halves and also add to the pot. Stir in the tomato sauce, lemon juice, salt and pepper and let simmer for 15 more minutes.

6. Temporarily remove the meat into another dish. Do not wash the large pot. Add 2 tbsp of canola oil and let warm a little. Now spread a layer of rice at the bottom of the pot. Add a layer of meat. Continue building layers of rice and then meat until you have about 3 layers of each kind (6 layers total). Do not stir. With an end of a wooden spoon, create 3 holes across all the layers touching the bottom of the pan (to allow the steam to escape from the bottom). Cover the pot and place a paper towel right below the cover to absorb the vapors. Cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes without lifting the lid. This process will allow the rice to cook evenly and will generate a crispy rice layer at the bottom, called tah-deeg.


This is a nice warm dish, great for cold evenings. Once ready it’s easy to store and reheat for later use, since it’s a one pot dish. But cooking takes a while, so it’s much more fun if you have company.

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Cranberry Sauce


Somewhere on the internet, can’t find the link

Taste 5 (out of 5)

Difficulty 1 (out of 5) - the hardest part is slicing the cranberries in halves :-)


- 2 cups cranberries (sliced in halves)

- 1 cup light brown sugar (lightly packed)

- 1/2 tsp grated orange (or mixed citrus) zest

- 1 tsp vanilla extract

- 1 tsp orange extract


1. Place in a medium casserole dish 2 cups cranberries (sliced in two), 1 cup light brown sugar (lightly packed), 1/2 teaspoon orange zest (grated rind of an orange, no white pith). Stir together well. Cover. Bake 1 hour in an oven pre-heated to 250F.

2. After baking, remove from oven, add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. You’ll notice some of the sugar will have collected on the bottom. A good stir will fix this and nicely incorporate the final vanilla flavoring.

3. Serve with an orange loaf, chocolate mousse, ice cream or anything else you can think of.

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Chocolate Mousse


Ina Garten’s recipe with some alterations

Taste 5 (out of 5)

Difficulty 4 (out of 5)


- 6 oz / 180 g semisweet chocolate

- 1/8 cup of water

- 1/2 tsp instant coffee powder

- 1/8 cup raspberry syrup

- 1/2 tbsp brandy

- 3 tbsp unsalted butter, diced

- 4 large eggs, separated

- 1/4 cup brown sugar

- 2 tbsp icing (caster) sugar

- 1/2 cup cold whipping cream

- pinch of salt

Total 4 servings


1. In a small sauce pan over low heat melt the two chocolate, water, offee powder, raspberry syrup, brandy and vanilla extract. Cool a little and beat in the softened butter. 2. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks and the 1/4 cup of brown sugar with an electric mixer on high speed for about 5 minutes, until pale yellow. With the mixer on low speed, blend in the chocolate mixture. 3. Combine the egg whites with a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until stiff but not dry. Mix half of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture; then fold the rest in carefully with a rubber spatula. 4. In the same bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the heavy cream and the remaining 1 tablespoon of icing sugar until firm. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mousse into a serving dish. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a few hours or overnight and up to a week. Place a paper towel under the plastic wrap to prevent the accumulating moisture from dropping into the mousse. 5. Decorate with cranberry sauce and sweetened whipped cream just before serving.


- Very nice texture, not too heavy, not too sweet. And a great combination with the tart cranberry sauce.

- If you want the mousse to be presentable, refrigerate it in individual serving dishes - it does not look as nice when you scoop it out.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Chanterelles and potatoes stew


Taste 4 (out of 5)

Difficulty 2 (out of 5)

- 1 lb chanterelle mushrooms
- 3 lb potatoes
- 2 medium onions
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp brandy (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Finely chop the onions. In a large dutch oven preheated with 2 tbsp of canola oil, saute the onions on medium heat until golden brown.
2. In the meantime wash and cut the mushrooms and mince the garlic. Add to the onions and saute for 5 more minutes.
3. Cut potatoes in 1 inch cubes and add to the dutch oven. Season with salt and pepper, add butter, chicken broth and brandy, stir well and let simmer for about 20 minutes on medium heat.
4. Preheat oven to 375F. Stir the stew once more, cover with lid and transfer the dutch oven into the oven. Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes.
If a dutch oven is not available, you can make the stew in a large sauce pan for the stove top. In that case, instead of baking, decrease the heat to medium-low, cover the sauce pan and stir every 20-30 minutes. The disadvantage here is that the potatoes are more likely to be squashed while stirring, but this is primarily an esthetics concern.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Brioche French Toast


Taste 4 (out of 5)

Difficulty 1 (out of 5)

- 4 slices of Brioche bread
- 2 egg whites (or 1 egg)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- icing sugar and/or cinnamon for dusting (optional)

1. In a wide dish (like a pyrex 13’‘x8’’ pan) beat lightly the egg whites with the milk and the sugar.
2. Place the bread slices in the dish to soak for about 1/2 a minute on each side.
3. Fry on a preheated lightly greased frying pan on low/medium heat for about 4-5 minutes per side, until nicely browned.
4. Serve warm. Dust with icing sugar/and or cinnamon if desired. Can be served with fruit, whipped cream and/or maple or any other syrup.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Brioche Loaf


Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, or Zoe Bakes blog

Taste 5 out of 5

Difficulty 2 out of 5

- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1 1/2 tbsp granulated yeast
- 1 1/2 tbsp salt
- 8 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus more butter for greasing the pan
- 7 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water)
Makes 4 1-lb loaves

1. Mix the yeast, slat, eggs, honey and melted butter with the water. Add the flour. The dough will be loose, but will firm up when chilled; don’t try to work it before chilling.
2. Cover and allow to rest at room temperature for 2 hours. The dough can be refrigerated for use over the next 5 days. Beyond 5 days, freeze the dough in 1-lb portions in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. When using frozen dough, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using, then allow the usual rest and rise times.
3. On baking day, grease a 9x4x3 inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a grapefruit sized piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape into a ball. Elongate the ball into an oval and place in the prepared pan to rest for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
4. 5 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350F. Using a pastry brush, brush the top crust with egg wash. Place the bread near the center of the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a medium golden brown. Due to the fat in the dough, brioche will not form a hard crust.
5. Allow to cool before slicing and eating.

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Syrniki - The Russian Ricotta Pancakes


Taste 3 (out of 5)

Difficulty 1 (out of 5)

- 70 g ricotta or farmers’ cheese
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 egg white
- 2 tsp agave nectar (or other sweetener)
- 1 tsp oil to grease the frying pan
Makes 2 pancakes

1. Mix all ingredients with a fork and your hands. Form elongated flat pancakes with slightly wet hands to prevent sticking.
2. Preheat 1 tsp oil in a small frying pan and fry the pancakes on low-medium heat for about 7-10 minutes on each side.
3. Serve warm. In Russia often served with sour cream.

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Homemade Ricotta

Source with some omissions

Can be used for Ricotta Pancakes

Taste 2 (out of 5)

Difficulty 1 (out of 5)


- 8 cups 2% fat milk - 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste) - 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Makes about 300g of cheese


1. Line a large strainer or sieve with cheesecloth and place the strainer over a large bowl.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring milk and salt to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to keep milk mixture from scorching.

3. Add lemon juice, reduce heat to low and simmer, gently stirring, for 1-2 minutes. The mixture will curdle immediately.

4. Pour the mixture in into the lined strainer and let drain for an hour. Discard the liquid and refrigerate the ricotta or use immediately. If you want it really dry, wrap it back up with the cheesecloth, leave it in the strainer over the bowl, weight it down with something heavy, and refrigerate overnight.


It turned out quite bland, compared to the farmers’ cheese where the acidic ingredient is buttermilk or yogurt. But maybe that’s a more ricottish taste...

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Light Citrus Cheesecake

The Joy of Cheesecake (adapted from the Swedish Cheesecake Pie recipe, with many changes)
- 9 inch Graham pie crust (960 cal)
- 2 cups/1 lb low fat cottage cheese (400 cal)
- 1/4 cup white flour (110 cal)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (210 cal)
- 2 tbsp confections sugar (100 cal)
- 3 large eggs (210 cal)
- 1 cup low fat sour cream (300 cal)
- 1 tsp orange extract (10 cal)
- ground zest of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 grapefruit
For the Sour Cream topping
- 1 cup low fat sour cream (300 cal)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar (120 cal)
Total 2720 calories 8 servings, 340 cal / serving

1. Place cottage cheese in a sieve or a cheese cloth and let drain for 2-3 hours, then blend in a blender until smooth.
2. Separate egg whites and yolks. Beat the egg whites. Once soft peaks form, add icing sugar and continue beating until hard peaks. Mix all other ingredients in no particular order and fold the mix into the egg whites.
3. Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
4. Pour the mix into the ready crust.
5. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Increase the oven temperature to 450F and let preheat.
6. In the meantime, mix together the sour cream and 2 tbsp of sugar for the topping. Spread the topping on the warm cake and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and let chill before serving. Can be served with a sauce (e.g., apple sauce).

- The cake is indeed very light, not too sweet and the citrusy flavor is mild and pleasant, but the cake had cracks when it rose after the initial 45 minutes in the oven, and then it sagged after cooling. Maybe I can use a little more flour (1/2 cup) next time? Or bake at a lower temperature for longer time and let cool in the oven?
- The original recipe did not call for separating the yolks and beating the egg whites. I suppose the cake would be a little less fluffy, but maybe it would be firmer and would sag and crack less. Should be easier to make also.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Chocolate Biscotti


Zoe Bakes blog with some adaptations

Taste 2 (out of 5)

Difficulty 4 (out of 5)


- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

- 1 cup sugar

- 1/3 cup cocoa

- 1 teaspoon baking soda mixed with 1 tbsp apple vinegar until bubbly

- 1/2 teaspoon salt

- 3 large eggs + 2 egg yolks

- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla

- 3/4 cup finely chopped high quality bittersweet chocolate

- 1/2 cups whole raw almonds

- 1/3 cup dried cranberries

- 2/3 cup candied grapefruit or other candied fruit


1. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into the bowl of your mixer. Using a hand held mixer mix in the eggs, one at a time on low speed. If the mixer stalks at this point, continue with your hands. Add the chocolate, nuts, cranberries and candied grapefruit. Mix until everything is well distributed. The dough will be very thick and sticky.

2. Preheat oven to 350° and line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

3. Scrape the dough onto the cookie sheet. Divide the dough in half. Using wet hands form the two halves into logs. You want the logs to be as even as possible from one end to the other.

4. Bake for 30+ minutes or until the logs are firm to the touch. Allow them to cool for about 25 minutes. If the logs are still too warm they will fall apart when you try to slice them.

5. Slice the logs into 1/2 thick slices. Line them on the cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Then flip onto the other side and bake for 10 more minutes. If you want your biscotti softer, reduce baking time, but they will not store as long.


- The dough was super sticky and dense and my mixer almost broke down.

- The biscotti seems to be too chocolate-rich. I would cut the chocolate to 1/4 cup.

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Green Soup


My mom

Taste 5 (out of 5)

Difficulty 1 (out of 5)


- 1 lb / 450 g spinach raw or frozen

- 2 large potatoes

- 2 eggs

- 2 large garlic cloves, minced

- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley (or 2 tbsp dried)

- 1/4 cup fresh chopped dill (or 2 tbsp dried)

- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

- juice of 1/2 lemon


1. Wash and chop the spinach, dill and parsley and place in a large saucepan. Cut the potatoes into 1/2 inch (1 cm) cubes and add to spinach. Add 2 liters / 1/2 gallon of water or enough to cover the spinach and potatoes, bring to a boil, add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 45 minutes.

2. Beat the eggs lightly with a fork or a hand whisk and mix them with the lemon juice and minced garlic.

3. When you take the saucepan off the fire, scoop out 1 cup of the soup and let cool. Once chilled (after about 5 minutes) add the cup of soup to the eggs stirring continuously to avoid curdling.Pour the egg mix into the soup saucepan.

4. This soup can be served warm or cold. After plating, you can add sour cream, fresh diced cucumber, dill and or diced boiled egg for garnish and flavor.

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