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Sunday, November 8, 2020

Chocolate Swirl

Delicious soft and moist chocolate loaf.
Source: from a friend

Taste: 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 4 (out of 5, because I hate rolling the dough)

For the dough:
- 500 g all purpose flour
- 140 ml milk, lukewarm (between 32-43 degrees C)
- 25 g active dry yeast
- 80 g sugar
- 2 eggs
- 100 g margarine or butter, softened (if using unsalted, add 1/2 tsp salt)
For the chocolate filling:
- 80 g unsweetened cocoa
- 150 g brown sugar
- 150 g unsalted butter, melted
For the syrup:
- 300 g sugar
- 150 ml water
Total: 2 loaves

1. Leave the yeast in warm milk for 5 minutes until it dissolves and bubbles appear.
2. In a standing mixer with dough hook, kneed all the dough ingredients for 7 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour.
3. Form a ball from the dough, and let rest in a bowl covered with a wet kitchen or paper towel for about an hour, until double in size.
4. Mix all the filling ingredients.
5. Line 2 loaf pans with parchment paper.
6. Divide dough in 2. Roll out each half into a rectangle, about 3 times the size of your loaf pan. Spread half of the filling in a thin layer over the dough and roll the dough into a log. Cut the roll in half with a sharp knife, place 2 halves such that the cut middle faces up and make a braid. Place the swirl into a loaf pan and let rest until doubles in size again (about 40-50 minutes)7.
7. Preheat oven to 350F and bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out dry.
8. Several minutes before the cake is ready to be taken out of the oven, prepare the syrup. In a small saucepan cook the water and the sugar on medium heat until the sugar melts. Do not mix. Once the cakes are out of the oven, pour the syrup over the cake using a pastry brush to spread it evenly. Let the cakes soak in the syrup and cool before eating.

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Saturday, October 10, 2020

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Got too much mayonnaise?

Taste: 4 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 1 (out of 5)
Source: adapted from Taste of Home

For the cake:
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 Tbsp baking cocoa
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 Tbsp apple cider or white vinegar 
For the frosting
- 4 Tbsp sugar
- 4 Tbsp cocoa
- 4 Tbsp sour cream
- 4 Tbsp butter

1. Combine all ingredients and mix well until blended. Before adding the baking soda, mix it with the vinegar until bubbly. 
2. Pour into a greased 9-in. square or 11x7-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
3. For frosting, in a small saucepan, cook all ingredients on low heat mixing freaquently until fully combined. 
4. Spread warm or cooled the frosting on top of a chilled cake. 

- Very nice texture, moist and not too sweet. 
- Does not contain eggs.
- Freezes well.

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Thursday, July 2, 2020

Salted Cabbage (Sauerkraut)

Cabbage, salt and water - super healthy and tasty
Taste: 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 2 (out of 5)
Source: Trial and error


- 1 small-medium green cabbage (3-4 lbs)
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 litres of boiled water cooled to room temperature

1. Wash the cabbage, the hands, a 4l (1 gallon) glass jar and a large bowl.
2. Finely shred the cabbage (in a food processor or by hand)
3. In a large bawl, add salt to shredded cabbage and mix with your hands, gently squeezing the cabbage. It should soften, but not get too runny.
4. Transfer the cabbage into the glass jar, and add chilled boiled water, just enough to cover the cabbage. You will probably need much less than 2 litres.
5. Loosely cover the jar with the lid, but don't tighten it, you need air flow in the jar.
6. Leave the jar outside at room temperature.
7. Every day, open the jar, use a wooden spatula with a long handle to poke wholes in the cabbage to let the gasses from the bottom escape. Press the cabbage so that it stays submerged under the water and loosely cover with the lid again.
8. Taste your sauerkraut every day, until it reaches the level of doneness that you like. In my case it took 2 days, but it would depend on the temperature in your house.
9. Once the sauerkraut is ready, tighten the lid and keep it in the fridge.

Many recipes use vinegar, oil, sugar or other spices. I think with salt alone it turns out the best, not only calorie and health-wise, but primarily taste-wise.

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Simple Fruit Cake

Only 5 minutes to make, and 45 to bake
Taste: 4 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 1 (out of 5)
Source: My mom

- 100 g sugar
- 125 g margarine (+ a pinch of salt if using unsalted margarine or unsalted butter)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup (160 g) all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3 granny smith apple, peeled and sliced
Serves 8

1. Beat margarine with sugar with a whisk or in a mixer.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
3. Grease a 9 inch pie pan, and spread the dough.
4. Add the fruit on top and gently press them in, just a little. In my case I added Granny Smith apples, but you can use plums, peaches apricots or other fruit.
5. Sprinkle the top with 1 tbsp of sugar. You can also add cinnamon or use vanilla sugar.
6. Bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 40-50 minutes. Check readiness with a toothpick.

The top should be light golden, don't wait for golden brown - the cake might get too dry.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Mochi Cake

Cake from mochiko - if making real mochi is too intimidating

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

- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs
- ½ cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 13.5 oz can of coconut milk
- 3 cups mochiko flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Topping: ½ cup Toasted unsweetened coconut, tossed with 1 tbsp sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a 9x13 inch baking sheet with cooking spray
2. Whisk together sugar, eggs, coconut oil, vanilla and coconut milk until combined. Add mocha flour and baking powder and fold using using a rubber spatula. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish.
3. Bake for 35 minutes, until lightly golden at the top and cool in the pan.
4. After the first 20 minutes, remove the cake from the oven and sprinkle the sugared coconut on top of the cake. Keep baking for 15 more minutes until fully cooked.
5. After bars are slight cooled, add a dusting of coconut flakes on top.

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Thursday, January 2, 2020

Uzbek Plov, Beef and rice stew

Rich and delicious beef pilaf with garlic
Taste: 4 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 3 (out of 5)
Source: Inspired by varied sources, mostly by Video Culinary

- 1 kg stewing beef, cut into 5 cm cubes
- 1 kg basmati rice
- 1 kg carrots, cut into 1/2 cm thick strips
- 1/2 kg of onions, sliced into half rings
- 2 heads of garlic, whole, outer loose skin peeled off
- 200 ml cooking oil
- 1 l cold water
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- up to 1 l of boiling water
Serves 10.

1. In a large bowl, rinse the rice with cold water to wash away the starch. This will help keep the rice grains separate in the final product. You might have to rinse the rice 3-5 times, until the water is clear. Cover the rice with more cold water so that the water reaches about 3 cm above the rice and let soak for 2-3 hours. Do not empty the water until you are ready to cook the rice, or the rice might get brittle.
2. In a large Dutch oven heat the oil on very high heat until it simmers and white smoke appears above the pot. Slowly (to prevent oil from splashing) place the meat into the oil. Sprinkle meat with salt as soon as all the meat is in the pot. This is supposed to make it tender. Cook on high heat, stirring, until the meat is golden brown and a crust forms.
3. Add the onions to the meat and cook, stirring, until the onions are golden brown.
4. Add the carrots, stir, add the salt and the spices, and stir more. Add 1 liter of cold water to the pot, stir to make sure all the meat is submerged. Bring the water to a boil on high heat. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible while maintaining the simmer, and simmer for 2 hours, stirring several times throughout. At the end of the 2 hours taste the liquid for salt and spices. It should be just a little too salty, to account for the addition of the rice. Add the garlic to the stew, root side down, and let it float close to the surface, don’t submerge.
5. Boil a kettle of water. Pour the water out from the bowl of soaking rice and transfer the rice into the pot on top of the meat-carrot layer. Flatten the top of the rice carefully. Slowly add enough boiling water to the rice so that it covers the rice by 1.5-2 cm. Increase the heat to high and cook until all the water evaporates. Do not stir.
6. When there is no more water to be seen, gather the rice into a dome shape in the center of the pot. Be careful not to mix the rice with carrots and meat. With a long wooden spoon poke 5-6 holes in the rice all the way to the bottom of the pot. Cook more until the water from around the rice dome and from the holes evaporates too.
7. Reduce the heat to low. Wrap the lid in a kitchen towel or place a paper towel between the lid and the pot and cook covered for 30-40 minutes. The towel will soak in the vapor and prevent it from dripping back into the rice.
8. When the plov is cooked remove it from the heat and let stand covered for another 10 minutes. Remove the lid, carefully open up the rice layer to extract the garlic heads. Carefully mix the layers of the rice and the meat and serve with the cooked garlic on the side.

This plov takes 3 hours to cook with a lot of steps, and contains humongous amounts of oil, but the final result is really rich and delicious. Worth the time and the calories on a cold winter night.

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