AdSense Full Screen test

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Not-quite-ginger bread house

Ingredients: rye bread, crackers, cream cheese and toothpicks - not an earthquake resistant structure ;-)

To Recipe...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Garlic Chives Pesto

When you have garlic chives, don’t have time and still want a yummy dinner.
Source: Everyday Mom blog

Difficulty: 1 (out of 5)

Taste: 5 (out of 5)

• 10 (approximately) garlic chives (or garlic scapes), roughly chopped (10 cal)
• 1/4 cup walnuts, lightly roasted (170 cal)
• 1/2 cup olive oil (960 cal)
• 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano cheese (80 cal)
Total: 1 cup of pesto, 4 servings, 1220 calories, 305 cal / serving

1. In a food processor combine garlic chives and walnuts. Blend until smooth and combined.
2. With the processor still running slowly add the olive oil forming a paste.
3. Scoop pesto into mixing bowl, gently mix in cheese.
4. Serve with your favorite pasta, adding a little pasta water to help coat the pasta, as the pesto is a little thick. Chicken or mushrooms go great with this pesto.

• This was my November Secret Recipe Club assignment. My Secret Blog was Everyday Mom, a great site with lots of delicious and simple recipes, that I’ve been following for a while now. And since this month is very busy for me, I chose a really simple recipe, which turned out super-delicious! Thanks, Kim :-).
• The original recipe calls for garlic scapes, the garlic equivalent of green onions. I have only seen those in farmers’ markets during the summer months, and now it’s late autumn. But I recently discovered garlic chives that are sold in our local Asian grocery stores, and I suspect taste quite similar. So that’s what I used.
• I froze half of the pesto and plan to use it as a pizza topping... What will that taste like? That is still a mystery, to keep the future full of good surprises ;-)

To Recipe...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chickpeas Feta Salad and Tahina

This month my Secret Recipe Club assignment was a perfect match for my first attempts at home made pitas: Katherine Martinelli’s blog has lots of great Middle Eastern recipes (among other things), so I made two great dishes instead of one :-)

This recipe is featured on RecipeNewZ

RecipeNewZ - great recipes, desserts, mains, cooking, baking

Source: Katherine Martinelli blog

Taste 4 (out of 5)
Difficulty 2 (out of 5)

• 1 15-oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained (540 cal)
• 1 tbsp olive oil (120 cal)
• 3 cloves garlic, finely minced (15 cal)
• ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
• Salt
• Freshly ground pepper
• ¾ cup crumbled Feta (295 cal)
• ½ cup chopped fresh mint
• Lemon wedges
Total: 970 cal, 2 servings, 485 cal / serving

1. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
2. Mix together the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
3. Put chickpeas into baking dish and toss with olive oil mixture until the chickpeas are well coated with oil. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Put chickpeas in the oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until chickpeas are slightly browned and barely beginning to crisp.
5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Transfer to a serving dish and stir in the feta and mint. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Serve with lemon wedges.

• This is a very simple, filling and healthy dish, a great accompaniment to any Middle Eastern meal.
• If you don’t have fresh mint, use dried.


Source: Katherine Martinelli blog

Taste 4 (out of 5)
Difficulty 1 (out of 5)

• ½ cup tahini (710 cal)
• 4 tbsp lemon juice (15 cal)
• 2 cloves garlic, minced (10 cal)
• ½ cup water
• ½ cup chopped parsley
• Salt
Total: ¾ cups, 735 cal

Mix all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Serve at room temperature.

Katherine’s original directions have more steps, but I combined them all. Check out her post if you don’t want your tahina to be all green :-)

To Recipe...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Molasses Cookies

Simple autumn cookie recipe
This recipe is featured on RecipeNewZ

RecipeNewZ - great recipes, desserts, mains, cooking, baking
Source: adapted from Allrecipes

Taste: 4 out of 5

Difficulty: 1 out of 5

• 3/4 cup margarine, melted (1215 cal)
• 1 cup white sugar (780 cal)
• 1 egg (70 cal)
• 1/4 cup molasses (245 cal)
• 2 cups all-purpose flour (910 cal)
• 2 teaspoons baking soda mixed with 1 tbsp apple vinegar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoon ground orange zest
• 1/2 cup white sugar (390 cal)
Total: 30 cookies, 3610 cal, 120 cal / cookie

1. Combine all the ingredients using a mixer. Cover, and chill dough for 1 hour.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Roll dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until tops are cracked. Cool on wire racks.

These cookies are very soft and chewy, but it seems I am not a huge fan of molasses. I will try them next time with brown sugar instead :-)

To Recipe...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cheese Bread

Super easy and delicious, especially when served warm out of the oven. A perfect accompaniment for any autumn meal and my October SRC assignment.
Source Kitchen Trial and Error blog

Taste 5 (out of 5)

Difficulty 1 (out of 5)

• 2 eggs (140 cal)
• 3 tbsp canola oil (360 cal)
• 1 cup milk (120 cal)
• 1 tablespoon sugar (45 cal)
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 cups all-purpose flour (910 cal)
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 1/2 tsp mustard powder
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (660 cal)
Total: 2235 cal, 10 slices, 225 cal / slice

1. Mix the eggs, the oil, the milk, the sugar and the salt.
2. Add the dry ingredients and mix until there are no lumps.
3. Mix in the shredded cheese.
4. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and pour in the batter.
5. Bake for 45 minutes in an oven preheated to 375F.
6. Serve warm.

1. I am not sure whether it’s a crustless quiche, a biscuit or bread, but it’s certainly very tasty, especially warm out of the oven. It’s very easy to finish half the loaf. There is a lot of cheese in this bread, but it does not in the slightest feel greasy or heavy.
2. If you don’t finish the loaf on the first day, seal it in a zip lock bag, store in the fridge and reheat in microwave (but of course chances are you won’t have any leftovers).
3. I greased the loaf pan very thoroughly with shortening, but the bread was all stuck to the pan (I suppose because of the melted cheese) and it was extremely difficult to take the bread out and then to wash the pan. Next time I will definitely use parchment paper, and maybe grease it too.
4. Saving the best for last ;-) : if you have not visited Kate’s blog Kitchen Trial and Error yet, you certainly should. She has lots of great recipes, both sweet and savory, and I’ve been reading and loving it for a long time. And I am not saying that just because my blog is called Cookbook of Trial and Error :-). I think my next trial (and I hope a successful one) from Kate’s blog will be her caramel corn, something I’ve been wanting to make for a year now.

To Recipe...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cheese Cake with Sour Cream

Tangy, light, delicious and as low calorie as a cheese cake can be
This recipe is featured on RecipeNewZ

RecipeNewZ - great recipes, desserts, mains, cooking, baking
Source: a friend’s mom

Taste 5 out of 5

Difficulty 2 out of 5

For the base
• 130 g animal crackers (520 cal)
• 70 g melted butter (500 cal)
For the cheese layer
• 400 g farmers cheese (310 cal)
• 100 g buttermilk or yogurt (65 cal)
• 1 tsp vanilla extract (10 cal)
• 2 eggs (140 cal)
• 2/3 cup sugar (510 cal)
For the top layer
• 300 g sour cream (640 cal)
• 1/3 cup sugar (255 cal)
Total 2950 cal, 12 servings, 245 cal/serving

1. Crush the animal cracker in a food processor to a powder consistency. Transfer the cracker powder into a clean bowl and mix with the melted butter. Press the resulting mixture into a greased 9 inch cake pan – you don’t need to coat the sides of the pan, only the bottom. You can also use a 5”x7” square Pyrex pan, if you want to make cheese cake squares.
2. In a food processor, mix together all the ingredients for the cheese layer to uniform consistency and pour onto the cracker layer.
3. Bake for 5 minutes in an over preheated to 400F/200C and then for another 15 minutes at 350F/180C.
4. In the meantime mix the sour cream with the sugar. After the cake has been baking for 20 minutes, take it out of the oven; pour the sour cream on top of the cake and bake for another 5 minutes.
5. Let the cake cool at room temperature and then chill in the fridge for another 2 hours before serving.

• This is a really delicious light cheese cake. Using quark or farmer’s cheese is a great alternative to cream cheese; it has almost 5 times less calories and is not as heavy and greasy. It also has this nice tanginess to it. If you don’t have quark or farmer’s cheese, no worries, you can use 500 g of Greek yogurt instead of farmer’s cheese and buttermilk.
• The only mistake I’ve made with this cake was the bottom layer, next time I will use cracker crumbs, not powder, and will add less butter. In my case the base was too soggy.

To Recipe...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Financiers

A dessert that will enrich your day ;-)
This recipe is featured on RecipeNewZ

RecipeNewZ - great recipes, desserts, mains, cooking, baking
Adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme

Taste 4 (out of 5)

2 (out of 5)

- 60 g bittersweet chocolate, chopped (365 cal)
- 2 large eggs (140 cal)
- 75 g sugar (290 cal)
- 60 g finely ground hazelnuts (180 cal)
- 75 g butter or margarine (540 cal)
- 60 g lukewarm water
- 30 g all-purpose flour (110 cal)
Total: 10 financiers, 1625 calories, 160 cal/financier

1. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C and butter and flour 10 financier molds (relatively flat molds with capacity of about 3 tbsp of water).
2. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, heat on high for 30 second, mix the chocolate with a spoon and repeat about 3 times, until the chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool to room temperature. You can also melt the chocolate in double broiler, but I find the microwave faster.
3. In a mixer fitted with a whisk, whip the eggs and the sugar until slightly fluffy, then add the powdered hazelnuts and continue beating until mixed and pale in color.
4. Add the butter in 4-5 chunks. Keep scraping the sides of the bowl as you are working.
5. Add the water and lastly, the chocolate, and continue beating until the mixture is homogenous.
6. With a rubber spatula gently mix in the flour.
7. Using a small 2-2 1/2 tbsp capacity ice cream scoop, pour the batter into the prepared molds and bake them in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into a financier comes out clean and the cookies are slightly springy to touch.
8. Remove the cookies from the oven, let them cool in the molds for about 3 minutes, and then unmold them by inverting them onto the cooling rack. Serve at room temperature.
9. It’s best to serve financiers immediately, because they become a bit sticky when you store them in the refrigerator.

1. These cake-like cookies are pretty tasty, soft and somewhat reminiscent of chocolate gateau. But I guess I had super high expectations from a combination of hazelnuts and dark chocolate, so I give in only 4 on taste.
2. I have never eaten “real” financiers, which are supposed to be made with almonds, and not hazelnuts, and without chocolate. And I also tweaked the original recipe quite a bit, so I don’t know if what I got is even called financiers :-).
3. Most recipes call for roasted nuts, with skins removed. And up to this recipe I have followed those instructions. But now I decided that since I love raw plane nuts more than roasted, why not keep them raw and skin-on in baking as well. I have not had the same recipe with roasted nuts, but I suspect I would not have felt the difference. And I saved 20 minutes roasting and cleaning the nuts.
4. Dorie Greenspan’s book says that financiers are called thus, because they were first made at a pastry shop near la Bourse (stock exchange) in Paris, whose main customers were rich financiers. The original financiers were baked in small rectangular molds, and since they were goldish (as they did not have chocolate) they resembled bars of gold.

To Recipe...

Monday, September 12, 2011


Easy and delicious homemade Indian flatbread for the Secret Recipe Club
Paulchen’s Foodblog

Taste: 5 (out of 5)

Difficulty: 2 (out of 5)

- 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting (1820 cal)
- 11/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground fenugreek
- about 11/4 cups water
Total: 1820 cal, 3 naan breads, 605 cal / naan

1. Line a baking sheet. Put the flour, salt and yeast into a bowl and add enough water to make a soft, but not sloppy dough. Add the ground seeds, then divide the dough into three pieces and put on the baking sheet. Let rest for 1 hour.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and, using a rolling pin, flatten each piece into a circle, 10 inches / 25.5 cm in diameter, and let rest for 5 minutes.
3. Heat a skillet to a medium heat and add a splash of olive oil. Shallow-fry each naan until browned on both sides. After removing naan from the pan, lightly butter it on both sides to keep the surface soft then set aside to cool slightly before serving.

- My Secret Recipe Club assignment for September was Paulchen’s Foodblog. It’s a great blog with many delicious recipes, but the part that instantly caught my attention was the Bread Baking Babes tab, under which I found lots of bread recipes. And since I’ve been thinking about making naan for some time now, it was the natural choice.
- This was a very tasty naan and really simple to make. The original recipe suggested using caraway seeds, but I did not have those, so I used fenugreek. I am sure many other spices will work equally well, like curry powder, turmeric, coriander, etc.
- I have made naan before from my beloved 5 minutes a day no knead dough. It tasted great, but that was a very wet dough, so it was a bit difficult to shape. This dough was really pliable and easy to work with.
- We had this naan with a homemade paneer in tomato-yogurt sauce, and a nectarine lassi. Yum!

To Recipe...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Quinoa not so Tabbouleh Salad

A yummy vegan salad from An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
This recipe is featured on RecipeNewZ

RecipeNewZ - great recipes, desserts, mains, cooking, baking
An Opera Singer’s Kitchen blog

Taste 5 (out of 5)

Difficulty 1 (out of 5)


- 1 cup quinoa (625 cal)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 avocado, diced (160 cal)
- 1/2 tomato, diced (10 cal)
- 5 red radishes, diced (5 cal)
- 5 green onions, chopped (5 cal)
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup yellow pepper, diced (10 cal)
- 1/2 cup English cucumber, diced (10 cal)
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (1 tsp in the original recipe)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 3 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar (35 cal)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (240 cal)
Total: 1100 cal, 4 servings, 275 cal / serving

1. Wash the 1 cup of quinoa in a colander for several seconds. Add quinoa, 1 1/2 cups of water and salt to a small pot and boil for 15 minutes. You will know it is cooked when it becomes soft and you see little white antennas pop from the grain.
2. Meanwhile, wash all your veggies well and chop and dice them accordingly.
3. Add all the veggies to a medium glass bowl and toss. In a small bowl mix the red wine vinegar, olive oil and all the spices and blend well. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and enjoy.
4. Will keep for 1 day, but best eaten the same day.

1. This salad can be served both as a side or all by itself. The ingredients are all healthy and the textures and flavors combine into a delicious, colorful and happy salad.
2. Noell’s blog was my August assignment from the Secret Recipe Club. I have visited it many times before and was very happy to finally make one of her recipes. If you have not yet, check out this blog, especially if you’re looking for vegan recipes!

To Recipe...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Peach Pie

A wonderful dessert for summer, when peaches are in season (for the Secret Recipe Club)
This recipe is featured on RecipeNewZ

RecipeNewZ - great recipes, desserts, mains, cooking, baking
Adapted from Feast on the Cheap

Taste 5 (out of 5)

Difficulty 2 (out of 5)

For the Pie Crust (1390 cal)
- 1 1/4 cups flour (570 cal)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar (10 cal)
- 1 stick / 8 tbsp unsalted butter, sliced (810 cal)
- 1/4 cup ice water
For the Filling (2110 cal)
- 2 1/2 lbs / 7-8 peaches, peeled and sliced (430 cal)
- 1 cup sugar (775 cal)
- 2 eggs (140 cal)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 5 tbsp flour (275 cal)
- 8 oz sour cream (490 cal)
Total: 1 9-inch pie, 3500 cal, 8 servings, 440 cal/serving

For pie crust
1. Arm the food processor with its metal blade and pour in all of the Pie Crust ingredients, except the ice water. Press pulse for about 10 seconds or so, until the dry ingredients appear like coarse meal.
2. Slowly, through the feed tube, drizzle the iced water while simultaneously pressing the pulse button. This step is critical – don’t over mix the dough as it will quickly toughen. You want to “pulse” it just until it holds together.
3. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and turn the dough out onto it. With very gently pressure, first form the mixture into a ball, then using the flat of your hands press it into a flat disc. Remember, the less you handle and maul the pie dough, the flakier the result.
4. Wrap the plastic around the disc and refrigerate it for one hour. *(You can refrigerate it up to three days before or freeze it for a month.)
5. On a floured counter top roll out the pastry to fit a nine-inch pie plate. You need about a one-inch overhang for crimping/fluting the edges. Transfer the rolled out dough to the pie plate.
For Filling
6. To peel the peaches easily, bring a large pot of water to boil. Drop 2 or 3 peaches at a time into the water and allow to cook for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to an ice water bath. The peaches are so much easier to peel using this method. Simply prick their boiled skins with a paring knife and the skin just falls away.
7. Blend all of the Filling ingredients together. Transfer to the prepared pie crust and cover with the Lattice Topping ingredients.
8. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then 350 degrees for 40 minutes until firm and brown. Be certain that the pie really does feel firm to the touch when finished. The flour acts much the way cornstarch or arrowroot does, thickening the sour cream, and the filling should not be runny but has an almost pudding-like consistency.

- This is a delicious dessert, so fragrant and rich; the sweetness of the peaches and the tanginess of sour cream combine to create a wonderful aroma.
- I have seen this recipe on Feast on the Cheap a while ago, and had it on my wish list. How happy I was to be assigned this wonderful blog for the Secret Recipe Club and especially during the peach season :-)
- The original recipe has twice more dough for the crust. Half was supposed to be used for a lettice topping. I used only half to save calories and work :-)
- My pie pan is low and the amount of filling was probably 1 1/2 times more than it could hold. I guess the original recipe is meant for a deep pan.

To Recipe...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Carrot Applesauce Muffins

The best muffins I’ve made so far, with healthy substitutions..
Source: Adapted from Passionate about Baking blog

Taste 5 (out of 5)

Difficulty 2 (out of 5)


- 200 g all-purpose flour (730 cal)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda + 1 tbsp lemon juice to activate
- 1 tsp ground orange zest
- 2 large eggs, separated (140 cal)
- 125 g canola oil (1105 cal)
- 125 g apple sauce (210 cal)
- 200 g sugar (775 cal)
- 125 g roughly chopped dried apricots (310 cal)
- 60 g chopped walnuts (390 cal)
- 150 g roughly grated carrot (60 cal)
- pinch salt
Total 12 muffins, 3720 cal, 310 cal / muffin

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease 12 large muffin tins (or a 9″ loose bottomed ring baking tin).
2. Separate the eggs and lightly whisk together the two yolks. Add the oil, sugar and apple sauce and beat together with an electric mixer for about 1 minute until well combined.
3. In a small bowl pour lemon juice over baking soda and mix well, until only bubbles are left. Pour the bubbly liquid into the batter. Add the flour, the baking soda and the orange zest to the batter and mix until just combined. Add the carrots, the walnuts and the dried apricots and mix lightly. Be careful not to over mix.
4. In a separate dry bowl beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form firm peaks.
5. Next, gently fold the egg whites into the carrot mixture. Again, be careful not to over mix; it is fine to have streaks of white remaining in the mixture.
6. Using a large ice cream scoop, pour the mixture into the prepared muffin tins and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
7. Let the muffins cool completely, then remove from the tins.
8. You can freeze the muffins at this stage, if you like. Just wrap it in a double layer of parchment paper and put it in a polythene freezer bag.

- They are probably the best muffins I’ve ever made… even for someone like me who is not a big fan of carrot cake. Moist and soft, and when they were finishing baking, the house smelled like heaven.
- I had a lot of ingredients I wanted to use up, like carrots, dried apricots and applesauce. And I also had a new square muffin tin that I wanted to inaugurate. So I went looking for carrot cake recipes, and the one on Passionate About Baking caught my eye. I made quite a few substitutions, to accommodate my ingredients, but the result really exceeded all my expectations. If this is a blog of "trial an error," this recipe is a clear “trial and success.”
- Deeba (from Passionate About Baking) also has a recipe for frosting, but I skipped that part to save calories. Check out her site for that (and her gorgeous photos).

To Recipe...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ina Garten's Mocha Chocolate Iceberg Cake

Softer and creamier than ice cream, a perfect, simple summer dessert
This recipe is featured on RecipeNewZ

RecipeNewZ - great recipes, desserts, mains, cooking, baking
Cookies: The food we eat blog
Filling: Ina Garten's
Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?: Fabulous Recipes & Easy Tips

To Recipe...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Beef Stew from the Big Bowl of Love

An all-time favorite comfort food
Slightly adapted from Cristina Ferrare's Big Bowl of Love

Taste 4 (out of 5)

Difficulty 2 (out of 5)


- 1 1/2 lbs chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces (1800 cal)
- 2 tbsp olive oil (240 cal)
- 1/2 cup dry red wine (100 cal)
- 1 medium yellow onion (50 cal)
- 2 garlic cloves (10 cal)
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour (110 cal)
- 1 cup chicken broth (10 cal)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 5 small new potatoes cut into eights (350 cal)
- 2 large Portobello mushrooms, cut into bite-size chunks (50 cal)
- 1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen (70 cal)
- 1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen (80 cal)
- 2 small carrots cut into bite-size chunks (40 cal)
- salt
- pepper
Total 4 servings, 2910 cal, 730 cal / serving


1. For this recipe you will need a Dutch oven or another pot with a lid that can be used both on the stovetop and in the oven.
2. Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat the Dutch oven on high heat for 2 minutes, until hot, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and the beef. Lower the heat to medium high and cook the beef for 2-3 minutes, turn the beef and cook for 5 more minutes. Add 1/4 cup of wine and cook for 5 more minutes until the meat sizzles. Transfer the beef to a bowl. Sprinkle the flour over the beef and toss to coat.
3. Add the second tablespoon of olive oil, the onions and a pinch of salt to the Dutch oven and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic, stir and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the remaining wine, the chicken broth, the bay leaf and the thyme, scrape the edges of the pan and bring the liquids to a simmer.
4. Add the meat back to the pot, and when it comes to the simmer again, cover the pot with the lid and place in an oven preheated to 375F. Cook for an hour.
5. After an hour, add the vegetables to the pot, you might need to add 1 more cup of water or broth. Taste and adjust the seasoning and place in the oven for 1 more hour to cook.

- I really loved this stew. The flavors are just great! Even veggies that I normally don’t like in stews like carrots and green peas, ended up delicious.
- The only “issue” was that some of the beef turned out a bit dry. Some was juicy and tender, but about half was a bit too dry. I don’t really know how to fix this in the future. Maybe I should add a bit more oil? Or marinate the beef before cooking? If you know the secret of unfailingly tender beef stew, please let me know :-).
- In May I won the Big Bowl of Love in a giveaway on the Chocolate Shavings blog, a beautiful blog that you MUST check out if you have not yet. I received the book right before I left on a short trip, and then I was on a detox and could not risk looking at tasty food, but now I finally got to this book. It’s really great, full of hearty comfort food recipes, with some useful tips for cooking and baking. I am so glad to have this book! Thanks so much, Jennifer, for the giveaway!

To Recipe...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Potato Salad with Cilantro Pesto

Simple, delicious and ... green... for June 2011 Daring Cooks challenge
Source Improvised

Taste 5 (out of 5)

1 (out of 5)


- 1 lb of new potatoes, cut into quarters or eights (420 cal)
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup walnuts (165 cal)
- 1/2 lemon, zest and juice (15 cal)
- 2 cloves garlic (10 cal)
- 1/2 cup no-fat yogurt (70 cal)
- black pepper
- salt
Total 4 servings, 680 cal, 170 cal / serving

1. Wash the potatoes and cut the potatoes, do not peel. In a medium pot bring water to a boil, add the potatoes and salt and cook until the potatoes are cooked, but still hold their shape, about 15-20 minutes.
2. In the meantime, combine the rest of the ingredients in a blender and pulse until well combined.
3. Drain the potatoes and toss with the pesto until coated. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.


I’ve been making a lot of variations of pesto recently, with parsley, cilantro, chives, different nuts, sour cream, olive oil – anything goes :-). It’s really great with pasta, potatoes, steamed foods… Adds so much fresh flavor and it’s so easy to make!

Blog-checking lines:
Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

To Recipe...

Cream Cheese Brownies

Cream cheese brownies from A Bountiful Kitchen for the Secret Recipe Club
Brownies from my simple brownies recipe, cream cheese layer from A Bountiful Kitchen blog

Taste 4 (out of 5)

Difficulty 1 (out of 5)

For the brownies, use these ingredients
For the cream cheese layer
- 8 oz. cream cheese (not low fat) softened
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour

1. Prepare the brownies batter following these instructions. Reserve 1/4 of the batter and pour the rest into a greased 9x13 baking pan.
For the cream cheese layer
2. Beat soft cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs. Beat in sugar and flour, until all ingredients are incorporated. Pour over brownie mixture in pan.
3. Add spoonfuls of the reserved brownie mixture to create a “cow” pattern.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.

- For several weeks now I’ve had this obsession with cream cheese brownies – I could not understand its origin, but I had this image of scrumptious cream cheese brownies in front of my eyes. And then a week ago when it was time to choose a recipe for my Secret Club recipe assignment, I went once again to A Bountiful Kitchen blog, and here they were – the brownies that have been haunting me for several weeks :-). I must have seen the photos when they were just posted, and now I knew that I was meant to bake them!
- I did not have the Chocolate cake mix that is suggested for the brownies by A Bountiful Kitchen, so I used my own old brownie recipe. The problem was that my recipe batter is quite thick, and the cream cheese batter of A Bountiful Kitchen is pretty liquid. They are both great by themselves, but the cream cheese batter takes a bit longer to bake, so my brownies dried up by the time the cream cheese layer was ready. Next time I should use a more liquid brownie batter, and I am sure the final result will be just perfect.
- There are so many amazing recipes on A Bountiful Kitchen, you should check that blog out! And join the Secret Recipe Club, if you have not yet – it’s so much fun!

To Recipe...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lady's Kisses (Baci di Dama)

How much happiness can be condensed in one light and airy hazelnut cookie?
Slightly adapted from Forgiving Martha blog

Taste 5 (out of 5)

2 (out of 5)

- 3/4 cup hazelnuts, finely ground (toasted, optional) (630 cal)
- 1 cup flour (455 cal)
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 110 g/ 8 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature (790 cal)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (10 cal)
- 1/4 cup sugar (190 cal)
- 1 large egg yolk (55 cal)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 30 g bittersweet chocolate (180 cal)
- 1 tbsp butter (100 cal)
Total: 11 (double) cookies, 2410 cal, 220 cal / cookie

1. Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. This will take 2-3 minutes. Once smooth, add the egg yolk and vanilla, and continue beating with electric mixer for 2 more minutes.
2. Add hazelnuts. Mix until well incorporated.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture and combine until dough forms.
5. Using a small cookie scoop (the size of 1 tbsp) scoop out uniform mounds of dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Do not press the cookies, let them be airy.
6. Place in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes – the cookie should be still quite soft when taken out from the oven.
7. Remove from baking sheet and place on wire rack to cool.
8. Melt chocolate, mix in one tablespoon of butter. Carefully dip the bottom of one cookie in the chocolate and sandwich with another cookie. Return to the wire rack to continue cooling.


- Ever since several months ago I laid my eyes on these perfect Baci di Dama cookies at Soma chocolate factory in Toronto, I’ve been in love. I had tried to recreate these perfect, light, crunchy clouds of hazelnuts several times, and all these trials were good, but not as good as the real thing. I am still looking, but this recipe is very-very good, the best so far. 

- Thanks to Jess from Forgiving Martha for the recipe, and for many more great recipes on her blog that I simply have to try :-)

To Recipe...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tofu Balls with Cabbage

Healthy, vegan, gluten-free, low-calorie and yummy :-)
Adapted from the Food Obsessed blog

Taste 4 (out of 5)

2 (out of 5)


- 350 g extra firm tofu (400 cal)
- 1/4 cup parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
- 2 cabbage leaves, finely shredded (10 cal)
- 2 medium sized carrots, finely shredded (40 cal)
- 1 garlic clove, crushed (5 cal)
- 2 tbsp garlic chives, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup quinoa cooked (155 cal)
- 2 tbsp soy sauce (20 cal)
- 1/3 cup tahini (390cal)
- 3 tbsp tamarind sauce (70 cal)
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp chili paste (sambal oelek)
- 1/4 cup cornmeal (110 cal)
Total 15 tofu balls, 1200 cal, 80 cal / ball


1. In a food processor, grind the tofu until its texture resembles that of breadcrumbs.
2. Pour the cornmeal onto a dry clean plate and set aside.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and pulse several times until mixed well.
4. Scoop large balls with an ice-cream scoop and roll in the cornmeal to coat the balls. Place the balls on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 400F for 15 minutes.


- Very nice, crumbly and light balls, somewhat resemble falafel, probably because of the tahini :-).
- These balls are great with some yogurt sauce. Sonia used a mint flavored sauce, I had a lot of cucumbers, so I added those as well.

To Recipe...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Edamame Corn Salad

A super easy, super healthy, super satisfying salad for the Secret Recipe Club
Source Savoring the Thyme blog

Taste: 5 (out of 5)

1 (out of 5)


- 1 cup shelled edamame, fresh or frozen, cooked and cooled (255 cal)
- 1 cup corn, either fresh or frozen, thawed (155 cal)
- 2 tomatoes or kumato (variety of tomato), chopped (40 cal)
- 1 scallion (green onion), chopped
- 2 tbsp parsley or any of your favorite herb, minced
- 1 tsp olive oil or vegetable (40 cal)
- 1 tbsp rice wine or red wine vinegar (10 cal)
- salt and pepper to taste
Total: 2 servings, 500 cal, 250 cal / serving

1. Cook or thaw the edamame if necessary. Drain and let cool.
2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl with gentle mixing.


- This is a perfect recipe for someone who loves edamame and corn, like I do. The salad is ready in no time, it is very substantial, can be a meal in itself, it’s delicious, and yet healthy. And it has all the colors of the traffic light ;-). What else can you ask from a dish.
- Last month I saw a link to the Secret Recipe Club on several blogs I follow. The club is hosted by Amanda, who had this brilliant idea of assigning each one of the participants a blog, from which you are free to choose any recipe to make. For May I was assigned Savoring the Thyme blog, which has a lot of wonderful recipes and beautiful photos. It was difficult to choose, but this month I decided to make salads every day to compensate for all the last month's whipping cream, and I love edamame and corn, so this salad was just perfect. Thanks to Amanda for the wonderful event, and to Jennifer from Savoring the Thyme for the inspiration!

To Recipe...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gumbowl - Gumbo in Bread Bowl

For May 2011 Daring Cooks challenge
Source Minimally adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh

- 1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) rendered chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil
- 1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) flour
- 2 large onions, diced
- 1 chicken (3 ½ to 4 lbs.), cut into 10 pieces
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) Basic Creole Spices (recipe follows), or store-bought Creole spice blend
- 2 pounds (2 kilograms) spicy smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch (15mm) thick
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 green bell peppers (capsicum), seeded and diced
- 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 3 quarts (3 liters) Basic Chicken Stock (recipe follows), or canned chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 ounces (175 gm) andouille sausage, chopped
- 2 cups (480 ml) (320 gm) (11 oz) sliced fresh okra, ½ -inch (15mm) thick slices (or frozen, if fresh is not available)
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) Worcestershire sauce
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Filé powder, to taste
- Tabasco, to taste
- 4-6 cups (1 – 1½ liters) (650 gm – 950 gm) cooked Basic Louisiana White Rice (recipe follows)
Total 10-12 servings

1. Prepare homemade chicken stock, if using (recipe below).
2. Prepare homemade Basic Creole Spices, if using (recipe below).
3. Season the chicken pieces with about 2 tablespoons of the Creole Spices while you prepare the vegetables.
4. Make sure all of your vegetables are cut, diced, chopped, minced and ready to go before beginning the roux. You must stand at the stove and stir the roux continuously to prevent it from burning.
5. In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil – it will start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate, and continue whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes.
6. Add the onions. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue stirring until the roux becomes a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.
7. Add the chicken to the pot; raise the heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
8. Add the sliced smoked sausage and stir for about a minute.
9. Add the celery, bell peppers, tomato, and garlic, and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.
10. Add the thyme, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.
11. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, skimming off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.
12. Add the chopped andouille, okra, and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper, several dashes of filé powder, and Tabasco, all to taste.
13. Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat from the surface of the gumbo. Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over rice. Pass more filé powder at the table if desired.

- This was certainly the most challenging challenge I've participated in: stirring the stew non-stop for at least an hour - wheeeeew.... I don't think I can knowingly do that to myself again - will just have to do without a home made gumbo. But I will certainly treasure every bite next time I go to New Orleans and order it :-).
- I've made a lot of changes to the orignial recipes, and the final result is not worth reproducing, so I posted here the recipe just as it appeared on the Daring Cooks site, not my version. I could not rank the taste of this recipe, because the thing I have tasted was very different :-).

Blog-checking lines: Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

To Recipe...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chicken Coconut Soup

A refreshing spicy Thai-inspired soup
Adopted from “New Flavors for Soups” by Williams-Sonoma

Taste 4 (out of 5)

Difficulty 3 (out of 5)

- 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs (330 cal)
- 1 package enoki mushrooms (30 cal)
- 1/2 small acorn squash (85 cal)
- 3/4 cup frozen shelled edamame (280 cal)
- 2 shallots, chopped (30 cal)
- 2 limes (20 cal)
- 1/4 bunch cilantro
- 1/2 inch piece of ginger
- 2.5 cups chicken stock (25 cal)
- 1 can /14 oz coconut milk (180 cal)
- 1/4 tsp sambal oelek
- 1/2 tsp yellow Thai curry paste
- 1 tbsp Asian fish sauce
- 1 tbsp light brown sugar (50 cal)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
Total 4 servings, 1030 cal, 260 cal / serving


1. Peel and crush ginger, chop cilantro, zest and juice the limes (you’ll need both the zest and the juice).
2. In a large saucepan combine the stock, 1/2 can of coconut milk, ginger, cilantro, sambal oelek, shallots, and 1/2 tbsp of the fish sauce. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer to blend the flavors for about 15 minutes.
3. Peel and cut the squash into 1/4 inch thick slices and set aside. Cut the chicken into thin slices and set aside separately. Separate enoki mushrooms (they come in one bunch).
4. Strain the infused broth through a fine mesh sieve. Wipe the pot clean and return the broth to the pot. Add the brown sugar, the remaining coconut milk and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the chicken and edamame and return to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the chicken is almost opaque throughout, about 5 minutes. Add the squash and the mushrooms and simmer until tender, about 5 more minutes.
5. Meanwhile whisk the lime juice with the curry paste and the remaining fish sauce. Add the mixture and 1 tsp of salt to the pot and stir to blend well. Taste the soup and adjust seasoning.

I liked it, not surprisingly given my (by now not so) recently acquired obsession with coconuts :-)

To Recipe...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spinach Ricotta Roll

It’s healthy, delicious and fits any occasion.
Adapted from Eva Toneva’s beautiful blog

5 (out of 5)

Difficulty 2 (out of 5)


For spinach roll (780 cal)
- 400 g fresh or frozen thawed spinach (90 cal)
- 5 eggs (350 cal)
- 50 g cream cheese (175 cal)
- 3 tbsp flour (165 cal)
- pinch of baking powder
- salt to taste
For ricotta filling (420 cal)
- 150 g ricotta or farmers’ cheese (205 cal)
- 3 cloves garlic (15 cal)
- 2 tbsp sour cream (100 cal)
- salt and thyme to taste
- 3 tbsp sun dried tomatoes (100 cal)
For topping
- 50 g grated Parmesan (200 cal)
Total 4 servings, 1400 cal, 350 cal / serving

For spinach roll
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Cook spinach in boiling water for 2 minutes, then immediately dip in a bowl with cold water and ice cube to stop the cooking process. Drain and chop the spinach.
3. In a large bowl beat eggs. Add cream cheese, salt, baking powder and flour. Mix well, so there are no lumps and add the spinach.
4. Pour the batter into a 9 x 13 inches parchment lined baking tray. Level the batter and bake for 10-12 minutes.
For ricotta filling
5. Mix ricotta (or farmers’) cheese with crushed garlic and sour cream, and season with salt and thyme to taste.
For assembly
6. When the spinach has baked and cooled down, place a piece of parchment paper on your work surface and sprinkle with thoroughly with shredded Parmesan.
7. Invert the baking tray, release the spinach onto Parmesan and peel of the baking paper that lined the baking sheet.
8. Spread the filling evenly, leaving about 1 inch on the sides uncovered. Distribute the sundried tomatoes over the cheese.
9. Using the parchment paper roll the spinach to wrap the cheese and chill in refrigerator.
10. Can be served cold or can be warmed up in microwave or oven.

Tastes wonderful, healthy and so-so pretty, especially on Eva’s original photograph. I was completely obsessed with this dish ever since I saw that photo, and it took me a couple of weeks to translate the recipe and get all the ingredients. I am so happy I did :-).

To Recipe...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Macaron + mascarpone tiramisu-like filling
About a month ago I won Jill Colonna’s book “Mad about Macarons” along with delicious French chocolates and more goodies in a giveaway by Joshua from Just Eat. I started on my first ever batch of macarons as soon as I’ve received the book. These are my second batch.
Macaron from Jill Colonna’s “Mad about Macarons”, mascarpone filling based on the homemade mascarpone cheese recipe on Passionate about Baking

Taste 5 (out of 5)

5 (out of 5)

For macarons
see Joshua’s post (or “Mad about Macarons”)
For mascarpone
- 2 cups of heavy (whipping) cream (1640 cal)
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (10 cal)
For tiramisu flavor
- 2 tbsp boiling water
- 2 tsp instant coffee
- 3 tbsp sugar (135 cal)
- 1 tsp orange extract
- 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (10 cal)
Total filling for 20 medium sized macarons + some extra, 1795 cal, 90 cal / macaron filling

For macarons
See Joshua’s post or “Mad about Macarons”
For mascarpone cheese
1. In a double broiler heat the cream until it reaches 180F. Pour in the fresh lemon juice and continue stirring for several minutes.
2. When the cream starts to thicken slightly remove it from heat, cover and leave at room temperature until it cools down. Refrigerate overnight.
3. By now the cream will be significantly thicker. Pour the cream into a strainer lined with a several layers of cheesecloth to let the whey drain. Refrigerate for 24 hours. The amount in this recipe will yield a little over a cup / 250 g of mascarpone.
For tiramisu flavor
4. Add instant coffee, sugar and orange extract to the boiling water and stir until dissolved.
5. Combine mascarpone, coffee and cocoa powder. Mix well with a fork until uniform. Adjust sugar to taste, if needed.
6. Assemble the macarons and let the sit in the fridge for 24 hours before serving to allow the filling to penetrate into the hard shell.
7. Eat whatever is left of the filling with a spoon or serve with fresh fruit :-)

- First of all, thank you so much to Joshua (Just Eat), Jill (Mad about Macarons) and Deeba (Passionate about Baking)!

- Regarding macarons, I am still in the very beginning of my learning curve, that’s why I am sending you to Joshua’s post :-). What I’ve learned so far from my mistakes, from Jill’s book and from her kind replies to my questions on her blog:
1. If you over mix your batter the macaroons will be too liquid and misshapen, if you don’t mix enough the macarons will be too stiff and will have a peak on top, like little turbans.
2. You must be patient and let your macarons sit on a tray for quite some time (in my case an hour) to make sure the tops are hard. Otherwise you won’t get those pretty feet and the tops might crack.
3. You need to know your over settings. Not all ovens are made equal, so it takes a lot of experimenting no matter how good the recipe. I’m still working on this part..
- Regarding mascarpone, it’s absolutely divine! I’ve tried several recipes before and it turned out sour and dry. Deeba’s recipe gives you a wonderfully light and fresh mascarpone. Next time I’ll make more and make the full tiramisu – yum!

To Recipe...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Buttermilk Biscuits

As quick and tasty as it gets…
Forgiving Martha

Taste 5 (out of 5)

Difficulty 1 (out of 5)

- 2 cups all-purpose flour (910 cal)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp sugar (90 cal)
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes (815 cal)
- 3/4 cup buttermilk, chilled, plus additional for brushing (105 cal)
Total 1920 cal, 12 biscuit, 160 cal / biscuit

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat.
2. In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the butter with a pastry cutter or a fork until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and stir until the dough comes together in a ball.
3. Gather the dough into a bowl and knead gently 6 times. Divide the dough in half, pat each half into a 1/2 inch thick circle and cut into 6 slices. Place on the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Brush with buttermilk.
4. Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

- They are super easy to make – you can serve warm yummy biscuits in 30 minutes, out of which 15 minutes is the baking time. And they are really perfect for a weekend brunch, especially if it’s a sea-side picnic :-)
- All the stars in heavens and all the ingredients in my fridge conspired to make me bake those ;-). Usually when I see a nice recipe, I am missing some ingredients or have other plans for that day, and so the recipe goes into my long-long wish list. This time I wanted something baked and nice for a brunch, and I had all the ingredients ready, and it did not rain, so we could actually go out and have a picnic. It must have been fate :-).
- Thanks to Jess from Forgiving Martha for this delish recipe. You have to check out her site – there are soooo many great posts there. I will be making more of them soon…

To Recipe...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Passing on Food Blog Awards

And the winner is...
Last week I was honored to receive my first food blog awards. Yey! There are a whole bunch of them: the Sisterhood of the world bloggers award and Group of Awards including The Stylish blogger award, Kreativ blogger, Lovely blogger yummy recipes award, You are the best blogger, One lovely blog award and Lovely blogger award. And to make it even nicer, the awards were passed on to me by Gourmantine who has a beautiful blog that has been an inspiration to me ever since I’ve discovered it. Some of her recipes on my wish list to make are Macarons, Panna Cotta and Ice-cream Coffee . And there are many-many more delicious posts and photos. If you have not seen her blog, you must check it out :-).

Now following the award-winner tradition, I need to name 7 things about myself. So here they are:
1. I am one of those people who remember places they visit by the food they had there.
2. I started cooking after a summer-long trip to France, where I absolutely fell in love with French food and the whole ceremony and presentation around it. When I got back home I could not eat my mom’s food for a while – it was not plated nicely enough for me. So, being a student who could not afford dining out in French restaurants every day, I was forced to start cooking for myself.
3. Not surprisingly, I guess, French is my favorite cuisine to this day.
4. If I could change one thing about food that would be taking out the calories… A girl can dream…
5. A couple of years ago I managed to lose 55 lbs in 7 months (check out my Weightlossophy). Ever since, I have kept my weight around the “normal” mark. This has been a hard task with all these amazing recipes on my wish list.
6. Two years ago I started baking bread thanks to the amazing book “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” that I strongly recommend to everyone interested in bread baking. Now I rarely buy bread.
7. I love being a messy diner. I even came up with a personal motto: “First eat with your eyes…. then with your hands!” And don’t forget to lick the fingers :-).

And now to the best part: passing on the awards! This has been a really difficult decision – there are so many amazing blogs out there. But after long deliberations, here’s a list of the wonderful food blogs that I have the honor to pass the awards to (in alphabetical order):
P.s. Not quite related to the above, I finally managed (or so it seems) to upload my blog to Facebook.
So, in the style of the Cardigans: “I cry and I beg for you to Like me, Like me, say that you Like me” … :-) on Facebook (Cook book of trial and error)

To Recipe...

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mint Lemonade and Facebook Blog - plz Like me ;-)

I finally managed (or so I think) to upload my blog to Facebook. I am very new to Facebook, so it was a huge achievement for me. But nobody knows about it :-(.
So, in the style of the Cardigans “I cry and I beg for you to Like me, Like me, say that you Like me” … :-) on Facebook or Networked Blogs (Cook Book of Trial and Error) or invite me to be your friend (Cooking Rookie).
And now it’s time to celebrate with a refreshing Lemonade!

Source Improvised

5 (out of 5)

Difficulty 2 (out of 5)

For mint lemon water
- 1 small bunch of fresh mint
- zest of 2 lemons
- 2 liters / 1/2 gallon water
For individual lemonade
- juice of 1 lemon (25 cal)
- 1 tbsp sugar (45 cal)
Total 60 cal/serving

For mint lemon water
1. Wash the mint and the 2 lemons well. Using a peeler remove zest from the lemons. Boil 2 liters / 1/2 gallon of water and pour over the mint and the lemon zest. Let steep for several hours or overnight until it reaches room temperature.
2. When completely cool, pour the mint lemon water into a large jar through a sieve lined with a thick paper towel. Discard the mint and the lemon zest. Keep the mint lemon water in the fridge until needed for lemonade.
For individual lemonade
3. Juice 1 lemon, add 1 tbsp of sugar and 3/4 cup of chilled mint lemon water and blend well. Adjust sugar to taste. Decorate with fresh mint leaves and serve with ice cubes.

- This is my favorite lemonade. Mint goes amazingly well with the lemons and makes a wonderful refreshing drink for the summer.
- And it’s only 60 calories per serving – I thought it was 5 times more :-).

To Recipe...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Maple Mousse in Walnut Cups

The edible containers challenge from the Daring Kitchen.
Taste: 4 (out of 5)

Difficulty: 4 (out of 5)

Source: Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz

For nut bowls
- 1 1/2 cups crushed walnuts , or other nuts of your choice (1200 cal)
- 1 egg, beaten, at room temperature (70 cal)
- 2 tbsp sugar (90 cal)
For maple mousse
- 1 cup / 240 ml pure maple syrup (not maple-flavored syrup) (800 cal)
- 4 large egg yolks (220 cal)
- 1 package / 7g/1 tbsp unflavored gelatin
- 1 1/2 cups / 360 ml whipping cream (35% fat content) (1230 cal)
For chocolate decoration
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces (300 cal)
Total: 6 cups, 3910 cal, 650 cal / cup


For nut bowls
1. Use a food processor or a zip-lock back with a rolling pin to crush your nuts if whole, use about 1 cup of whole nuts to get 3/4 cups crushed. You want it somewhat coarse.
2. In a bowl mix the nuts with the beaten egg and the sugar.
3. Grease well 6 small 1/2 cup capacity muffin molds (I used silicon). Spread ¼ cup of the mixture in the bowl, all the way up to the sides making sure you have a thin and even clean layer all around.
4. Bake at 350F/175C. until the nuts are golden and fragrant (about 15 minutes). Let cool completely before unmolding.
For maple mousse
5. 1. Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.
6. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).
7. Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.
8. Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatin. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatin has completely dissolved.
9. Whisk the gelatin/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.
10. Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.
11. Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour.
12. Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your edible containers.
For chocolate decoration
13. Melt chocolate (either in the microwave or over a double boiler). Fill a small piping bag with a narrow tip (size 2 or 3) or even a small plastic sandwich bag. If using a plastic bag, cut the tip. Line a tray with parchment paper and pipe out maple leaf shapes. Place the sheet in the fridge for 10 minutes until chocolate hardens. Place the maple leaf on top of the maple mousse. You can also decorate the nut cups with chocolate, but this has to be done before filling them with the mousse :-).

- Lovely dessert, thanks so much, Evelyne, for hosting this month’s challenge! I really enjoyed making this recipe!
- My favorite part was the nut cup – such nice texture, a perfect container for mousse or cheesecake! And you don’t need to add butter to it :-), it’s all held together by an egg…
- The mousse itself was a lot of fun to make, but a little too much maple for my taste. But my boyfriend absolutely loved it.

Blog-checking lines: The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at!

To Recipe...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Orange Glazed Rolls

Soft, sweet, warm, delicious and you don’t have to use cinnamon!!
Taste: 5 (out of 5)

3 (out of 5)

Gingerbread Bagels blog

For the dough
- 3/4 tbsp / 1 package active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water (110 – 115F)
- 1/4 cup sugar (195 cal)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature (140 cal)
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted (610 cal)
- 1/2 cup sour cream (250 cal)
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (1595 cal)
For the filling
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened (305 cal)
- 2 tbsp orange zest, finely grated
- 1/2 cup sugar (390 cal)
For the orange glaze
- 6 tbsp sugar (280 cal)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened (200 cal)
- 1/4 cup sour cream (125 cal)
- 3 tbsp orange juice, from about 1/2 orange (20 cal)
Total: 9 rolls, 4110 cal, 410 cal/ roll (because you discard an equivalent of one roll)


For the dough
1. In a large mixing bowl or container combine the yeast and warm water and let it sit for 5 minutes until the yeast dissolves and becomes bubbly.
2. Add in the sugar, salt, eggs, melted unsalted butter sour cream and 2 cups of flour. Mix the ingredients together with a wooden spoon (if you like me don’t have a stand mixer). Gradually add in the remainder of the flour. At this stage you might need to start working with your hands.
3. Knead the dough for 6-7 minutes. Put the dough in an oiled bowl (or use the same container in which you mixed the ingredients) and cover with plastic wrap or lid. Place the bowl in a warm place to rest and rise for about 1.5 hours. After the dough has risen you can also refrigerate it, covered (not airtight) for several hours or overnight (that’s what I did); or you can proceed to the next stage without the refrigeration.
4. Sprinkle flour on the counter and your rolling pin. You don’t need much flour; the dough is not very sticky and really easy to work with (even for someone like me, who dreads rolling the dough). Roll the dough out into a 14×18 inch rectangle. Spread the softened unsalted butter over the dough. Leave a 1 inch border. Mix the grated orange zest with the sugar. Sprinkle the orange zest/sugar mixture over the butter and press it down a bit. Make sure you still leave a 1 inch border.
5. The 18 inch (the longer) side should be closest to you. Starting with the shorter sides, roll the dough over once on each side. Then from the bottom (the end closest towards you), tightly roll the dough away from you (see very instructive photos on Gingerbread Bagels).
6. Cut the ends of the dough off with a serrated knife or with a string and discard. Then cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch rolls. Place the rolls into a lightly greased 9 inch cake pan. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and let them rise for 45 minutes. Bake the orange rolls at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
For the glaze
7. When the rolls are almost done baking (the last 5 minutes), begin on the orange glaze. In a small pot, whisk together the sugar, softened unsalted butter, sour cream and orange juice. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue to boil the glaze for 3 minutes.
8. Once the rolls are done baking, pour the glaze over the rolls. Serve warm.


- I’ve always loved the idea of cinnamon rolls, but… I can’t stand cinnamon … So I was super excited to see this recipe on Gingerbread Bagels blog (a wonderful website, by the way). And I had all the ingredients, so I knew it was my fate to make these rolls this weekend :-). And they turned out absolutely amazing! Yum yum yum!
- I made only very minimal changes to the original recipe – primarily I refrigerated the dough after the initial rise overnight, because it was getting very late, and then I rolled the dough out first thing in the morning. I don’t think this hurt the taste.
- The only thing I would have changes – I placed the rolls a bit too far from each other on a 9-inch square pan, and they were not pressed together when they baked, so they “unrolled” a bit :-). They don’t look as nice as the ones on the Gingerbread Bagels, but I could eat them with my eyes closed ;-).

To Recipe...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mini Ricotta Cheesecakes

A kind of cheese soufflé
Taste: 3 (out of 5)

2 (out of 5)

Source: Inspired by Chef Dennis


For the base
- 50 g animal crackers
- 50 g walnuts
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp melted margarine
For the cheesecake
- 200 g ricotta or farmers’ cheese
- 75 g sour cream
- 75 g yogurt
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp flour
Total 6 mini cakes

1. In a food processor combine the animal crackers and the walnuts and grind into meal. Add the butter and the sugar and continue blending until the butter is incorporated and wet enough to form.
2. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease 6 small muffin tins and press the nut-cracker mix into the tins. Bake for 7 minutes and remove from the oven.
3. Mix all the ingredients for the cheesecake in a blender and pour into the muffin tins over the base. Bake in a 375F oven for 45-50 minutes. The cheesecake will puff up like soufflé and the top will brown.
4. Remove from the oven, run a knife around the cheesecake and carefully invert the muffin tins to release the cakes. Let cool slightly and serve with fresh fruit or with cherry syrup, like in the photo.


- I bet the original recipe of Chef Dennis tastes much better, I made lots of substitutions, and my batter was probably much more liquid. I think it would have been better to use less yogurt and sour cream or use mascarpone and Greek yogurt, as in the original recipe, which I did not have.
- Baking this soufflé-like cake in muffin tins was not very smart; the soufflé collapses when you try to release the cakes from the tins. It’s much better to use a spring form pan, like in the original recipe.
- Anyways, I needed to use up my farmers cheese and this is a "cook book of trial and error" after all :-). And if you want a better recipe check out More than a mount full

To Recipe...