Friday, December 9, 2011

In the name of god!

Couple of months ago, someone asked me why I'm not following organized religion. The person that asked me that is deeply religious which is fine by me. 
I'm not a hater.
You see, I have my own values or quirks, or call them what you will. How I could belong to a group that preaches one thing and then does other? If I cannot follow something to the 'T', I might as well not even do it. I personally believe that you cannot just pick whatever suits you from the religion/faith and then chuck the rest. Or you do it, or you don't.
Being somewhat uncomfortable with gray areas and preferring the predictability of black and white, I'm not a suitable candidate to be a 'follower'. (The way I see it, you can't say that you're this or that and then start hating. If love is one of the fundamental pillars in most religions, how come the hate gets center stage?)
Because, I do believe in a free will for one. 
Because I cannot grasp the concept of having this all loving god who can punish you. If god's grace is cast upon everyone, why the need to belong to an 'elite' club of followers?
Because I ask questions. Too many questions. Questions that are bound to make the 'people of the cloth' uncomfortable and unable to answer.
Because of my ability to think with my own head, rather than take someones word for it.
No, definitely I'm not a follower material.
I admire and respect the dedication and faith of all faithful, but I steer clear from the stuff. 
The thing that I have to admit though, is that I am curious about all religions, but I cannot stand the competition of the sort 'mine is better than yours'.
Someone smart, somewhere had said that if you want to be respected, you have to give your respect. (It is one of the reasons that I can have great time with believers and non-believers alike).
However, the thing that bothers me most is not religion itself, let me tell you. Religion as such is a good thing, but the interpretations of the teachings are completely different story. There I have the problem.
While an individual with a little bit of common sense would pause, reflect and question, the 'blind followers' mess up everything. They start going on rampages against individuals who are different than themselves, groups or associations which hold different perspective of things and the list goes from bad to worse from here on.
So, in the name of (your) god, please don't try to 'convert' me. I am very comfortable with my choices or the lack of thereof, and prefer to believe that ultimately, it is your choices and actions that you will be remembered for.

Peace and light to all!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pasta with broccoli, chicken and blue cheese sauce

This one is short and sweet. I've been neglecting my blog for some time now, but this one was too good not to share.

To feed 2-3 people, you will need:

250 grams of fresh pasta (you can use the dried variety, but the fresh pasta has distinctive flavor)
1 cup of fresh cream 
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock (you can use water too, but you'll need to adjust the seasoning)
2 heaped tablespoons crumbled blue cheese (I used Gorgonzola dolce latte)
1 heaped tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 cooked (steamed or grilled) chicken breast, diced
couple of cooked broccoli florets (about 3-4 per person)

You'll have to work quick on this one, as it doesn't take too long. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions and drain into a colander.
Combine the cream, chicken stock and the cheeses in a saucepan and heat on medium heat. Do not let it boil. When it comes to a gentle bubble, add the previously cooked chicken and broccoli and give a light stir. Remove from fire and toss into the cooked pasta. Ground some mixed or black pepper and enjoy with a glass of white wine.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Tree of Life (a bad, bad movie)

OK, let me make it clear from the beginning. I’m not a hater, and especially when it comes to movies, I have found that my tolerance to poorly executed movies is very generous. However, there’s limit to everything.
I have my own criteria about movies:
1. Movies that I can watch all day long on a loop
2. Movies that I want to see every now and then
3. Movies that I’ve seen and forgot all about them
4. Movies that I wish I had never seen
So, yesterday I saw ‘The Three Musketeers’ (2011) and I admit, it had some awesome, pretty nice butt kicking scenes. While Mila Jovovich, Luke Evans and Christoph Waltz were successfully cast in the roles of Milady de Winter, Aramis and Cardinal Richelieu, the rest of the cast was pretty much miscast. Still, the movie wasn’t bad. However, this post is about another movie… the one I wish I never watched. Yes, it was THAT bad.

Thinking that after my ‘encounter’ with ‘The Tree Musketeers’ I’ll have some more luck in watching another good movie, I went to the DVD shop and rented ‘The Tree of Life.’ No, they should have called it ‘The THREE of Life’ as it took 181 minutes of my life that I’m never getting back. Ever. In those 3 hours I could have made a batch of pancakes or even baked a cake, but no, I decided to watch the movie.

Now, I have somewhat of a ‘rule’ or rather is a mechanism of defence when it comes to suck-y movies: If I have difficulty looking at the screen after the 7th minute is gone, the movie is not worth watching. This ‘sixth sense’ of mine never failed me, but still, in order to proclaim the movie a total waste of time, I stick watching. Eh, the things I do in order to prevent more ‘victims’ from watching lousy stuff!

It is not my intention to bore you with the details, so I’m going to sum it pretty fast.
1. If you want scenes of erupting volcanoes, dirty waterfalls and unusually shaped rocks, turn your TV to National Geographic or Discovery channel. At least, you learn something from there, which cannot be said about the above mentioned movie.

2. Damaged people breed damaged children (or as I want to put it in my favourite words: ‘Stupid breeds stupid’). People with seriously unresolved issues only ‘transfer’ their issues to their children, thus leaving them scarred for life and in need of some serious professional help. It is the shrink or jail basically. If one doesn’t act on those issues, they end up hurting themselves, or worse, hurting other people and ending up in ‘the can’.

3. It is useless calling on deities to explain and answer your question. When dealing with the mundane choices and their consequences, guess what?! You have to question your own choices rather than asking/blaming deities for your misfortunes.

Now, that I have nicely summed it up for you, I have trouble understanding how this movie ended up with ‘Palme D’ Or’ in Cannes. I suspect that the judges have been heavily drugged, bribed or even plainly stupid to give that award to the movie. I can go all artsy-fartsy if I wanted to, and say that the movie left me breathless and it was a work of art, but that would be just bollocking myself and the ones who read this page. (And no, I don’t like Picasso either).
Every now and then, it comes a director that is labelled ‘visionary’, but this is not the case with Terrence Malick and ‘The T(h)ree of life’.

So, after reading this, if you still have 3 hours of your life to waste and come to the same conclusions, please do come back and comment, so I can rub it in and say ‘I informed you thusly, oh I so informed you thusly!’

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Of educational values, unbearable heat and different kinds of food

Well, hello. I haven't been blogging (cooking) lately, as everyone who knows me, also knows that I don't spend much time in the kitchen in summer. There are few simple reasons for that, but the main reason is of course, the heat. Over the years, I have found out that I don't have much heat tollerance and my relationship with the sun changes from summer to summer. From playful frenemies over the past few years, we have became more of rude neighbors. Recent trip to the grocery store left me red faced for over 3 hours, and no, I didn't got angry, upset or stressed. I was out for only 20 minutes!
Now...there are different kinds of food that I wanted to concentrate on. The food we eat, the food for the soul, the food for the brain and so on, but something I cannot grasp is the 'food' of chain emails. I have been ignoring them forever and they still find their way to me. It is beyond my understanding what is the use/benefit of sending them.
So basically, I'm saying that many people have been feeding me virtual crap, from blessings to more threatening messages that If I don't forward the email to 50 people, I'm going to die. Tough luck bit*es, I'm still kicking!
And lastly, this is the piece of wisdom passed to me by a dear friend that I'm going to share:

I just want to thank all of you for your educational e-mails over the past year. I am totally screwed up now and have little chance of recovery.

I no longer open a public bathroom door without using a paper towel.

I no longer have lemon slices in my ice water at a restaurant without worrying about the bacteria on the lemon peel.

I can't use the remote in a hotel room because I don't know what the last person was doing while flipping through the adult movie channels.

I can't sit down on the hotel bedspread because I can only imagine what has happened on it since it was last washed.

I have trouble shaking hands with someone who has been driving because the number one pastime while driving alone is picking one's nose (although cell phone usage may be overtaking the number one spot).

Eating a little snack sends me on a guilt trip because I can only imagine how many gallons of trans fats I have consumed over the years.

I can't touch any woman's purse for fear she has placed it on the floor of a public bathroom.

I MUST SEND MY SPECIAL THANKS to whoever sent me the one about poop in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet sponge with every envelope that needs sealing...

ALSO, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.

I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl (Penny Brown) who is about to die in the hospital for the 1,387,258th time.

I no longer have any money at all, but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Bill Gates/Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program.Lately, the Money Angel and the Lakshmi goddess are doing the same.

I no longer eat KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.

I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.

THANKS TO ALL OF YOU I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an e-mail to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.

BECAUSE OF YOUR CONCERN, I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

I no longer can buy gasoline without taking someone along to watch the car so a serial killer won't crawl in my back seat when I'm pumping gas.

I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr. Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put 'Under God' on their cans.

I no longer use Saran Wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer.

AND THANKS FOR LETTING ME KNOW I can't boil a cup of water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face... disfiguring me for life.

I no longer check the coin return on pay phones because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.

I no longer go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me...

I no longer receive packages from UPS or Fed Ex since they are actually Al Qaeda in disguise.

I no longer shop at Target since they are French and don't support our American troops or the Salvation Army.

I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica , Uganda , Singapore , and Uzbekistan .

I no longer buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus since I now have their recipe.

THANKS TO YOU I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big brown African spider is lurking under the seat to cause me instant death when it bites my butt.

AND THANKS TO YOUR GREAT ADVICE I can't ever pick up $5.00 dropped in the parking lot because it probably was placed there by a sex molester waiting underneath my car to grab my leg.

I can no longer drive my car because I can't buy gas from certain gas companies!

I can't do any gardening because I'm afraid I'll get bitten by the brown recluse and my hand will fall off.

If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon and the fleas from 12 camels will infest your backside, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician . .

Oh, by the way.....

A German scientist from Argentina , after a lengthy study, has discovered that people with insufficient brain activity read their e-mail with their hand on the mouse.

Don't bother taking it off's too late

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cinnamon rolls

Couple of weeks ago, world renowed company opened its stand in one of the shopping malls around the country. It was public holiday, it was boring and although I didn't go to the opening, I went couple of days after the opening to see what's all about. Why? Because I love cinnamon. So, I went there with my bigger half (yeah, he's bigger than me) and it was like it's last day on Earth! People were queueing like there's no tomorrow! I was not willing to wait, so we went around the shops. Just before closing time, the queue seemed manageable, so I took a chance to try of their products. Since the original cinnamon rolls were sold out, I took 2 small choco-cinnamon pieces for the price of €2.50 each and was pretty excited...until the first bite.

The rolls were not worth their money and nothing special if you ask me. So, as somewhat reasonable person, I did my research and found the 'perfect' recipe for what I wanted in a first place: a good old cinnamon roll.

So, to make 12 of these beauties, you will need:

  • 235 ml warm milk (40-45 degrees C)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature (NOT strait from the fridge)
  • 75 g margarine, melted
  • 615 g bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 100 g white sugar
  • 10 g dried yeast
  • 220 g brown sugar
  • 15 g ground cinnamon
  • 75 g softened butter
  • 85 g cream cheese
  • 55 g softened butter
  • 190 g icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Put the yeast in the warm milk together with the sugar and salt (in a large bowl) and let it stand for 10 minutes, until foam forms on the top. Add the rest of the dough ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. When you have obtained homogenous mass, knead the dough with hands lightly dusted with flour until you have smooth, elastic, pliable dough. 
Let it rest until doubled in size (about 1 hour should be enough).
For the filling, mix the brown sugar and the cinnamon in a dish and set aside until needed.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. From the dough, roll out a rectangle approximately 40 by 50 centimeters and spread with the butter (from the 'Filling' part). Dust evenly with the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture, roll up and cut into 12 even sized pieces.
Place rolls on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment, cover them with a cloth and let them stand for 30 minutes.
Remove the cloth and bake them for 15 minutes or until golden on top, taking care not to over bake them, as they will come out tough.
While the rolls are in the oven, prepare the frosting by beating all ingredients with an electric whisk and spread the frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Baked tortellini

I was never very big fan of tortellini, but that had changed when I used to work in a certain hotel. You see, they were paying us peanuts, but they were feeding us. Unless someone was on a special diet and had to bring their own lunch (which nobody did), the food was actually not bad. On a very good day (when the chef was in a good mood), the food was almost very good.
So, after asking the cook (not the chef, he was really snotty son of a *beep*) what goes in 'those little porcelain dishes', he kindly listed the ingredients:

To feed 4 people you will need:

300 grams tortellini
250 ml bechamel sauce
400 ml tomato sauce (plain or your favorite flavor)
1 small cup grated Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
pinch of oregano


Cook the tortellini according to packet instructions and drain. In a suitable baking dish pour half of the bechamel sauce and put the tortellini over. Pour the rest of the bechamel sauce and gently stir, so the tortellini are covered. Pour over the tomato sauce and bake in preheated oven (200 degrees celsius) until bubbly. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the Cheddar cheese, then the Parmesan and pinch of oregano. Bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheeses are golden in color.

Moussaka (Musaka)

OK, I get it. I haven't posted since Easter and it is kinda long time, however with a good reason. I have been having series of little misfortunes (health-wise) which have made it very difficult for me to function on my 'normal' levels, but let's forget about that. I missed cooking too and let's face it, sandwiches are not food.
Ever since I was little girl, I was sort of 'stuck' in the kitchen observing, asking endless questions and sometimes I was even allowed to put seasoning on the food, which was a big seal for me, it made me feel grown up and important. One of the important foods in my life has always been moussaka, but not the version that one associates with Greece. It is my mom's moussaka that made me feel better when I was sick or sad.
So, I would like to share it and wish everyone to eat it in good health :)

To feed 4 people, you will need:

700 grams of peeled and thinly sliced potatoes
300 grams ground beef (you can exchange it with soya mince or lentils if you dislike meat)
1 finely chopped onion
3 eggs
200-250 ml milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
generous pinch of oregano
tiny pinch of ground cayenne pepper
1-2 teaspoons mild red paprika
1-2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil


Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion. Fry the onion until soft, but take care not to change color. Add the ground beef (or lentils/soya mince) and let it brown, breaking it into very small pieces with the back of a wooden spoon. Season with salt, black pepper, oregano, cayenne pepper aand paprika and remove from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
In a baking dish layer some of the thinly sliced potatoes, and then add some of the meat. Repeat until everything has finished and the last layer is made up of potatoes.
Bake for about 8-10 minutes and then remove from the oven, whisk the eggs and milk together and pour over the moussaka. If the potatoes are not covered, add little bit more milk.
Bake about 1 to 1 1/2 hour (depending on the oven) or until golden on the top. Let it rest for 10 minutes and serve with green or cucumber salad with vinaigrette dressing.
Bon Apetit!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

I wish to say Happy Easter to all who stop by! This year I didn't go overboard with my eggs decoration. First and foremost, there's no 'egg culture' in this little rock I call home. People associate Easter with eggs made of chocolate.
So, it is quiet affair with few traditional red eggs, nothing out of the ordinary and some chocolate ones.
Happy Easter once again!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Katmer pie (Katmer pita)

Hmm...I haven't been around lately, my newfound freedom kept me busy playing online games which is good in my books.
Now for the news. Well, I actually did great on my exams, there are some A's, some B+'s and B's and I get to graduate with merit, which was one of the most important things on my bucket list :) Got me a B on my graduation work which is fair and square...if I was grading it myself, I would have given myself a D probably, for work ethics. The material was good, the million books I was reading were good, so all is good when it ends good :)
Oh, the pie..yep... I saw it on my friend's blog and it stuck in my head, so I had made it some time ago, but now it's seeing daylight here.
You see, me and her go way back (my friend and I, not the pie), when we were tiny tots and in the second grade of elementary school she was talking to me about Tolstoy..or Anna Karenina to be precise! Little did we know back then that except for the love of books we will have the same love for baked goodies.
But I digress. Well, here's all you need to make this delicious piece. Remember: You measure ALL cup stuff with the SAME cup. Size matters in this case.


2 cups (x 200 ml) lukewarm water
6 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried instant yeast
50-70 grams lard (I used clarified butter)


Whatever you prefer. Leeks, spinach, cheese, meat, combination of two or more..I used crumbled feta cheese.


Combine all the ingredients (except the lard or butter) in a bowl and make nice, soft, pliable dough. Let it prove for about an hour or until doubled in size. When the dough has risen, divide it in 2 balls. Roll out sheet of dough with 5mm
thickness, spread half of the lard or butter and dust with little flour. At the centre press with your fingers to make little circle. With a sharp knife make 8 cuts from the marked circle till the end of the dough. (See pictures).
Do the same with the other ball.
Now it is time to take the first ball which has been resting after folding and make big circle (about 5mm thickness) and put some of the desired filling. Start rolling from both ends and cut where the two rolls are meeting. (See pictures).
In lightly greased baking dish start making snail shape with one of the rolls, taking care that the cut part is facing upwards. Continue arranging the rest of the rolls around the initial one and you'll end up with snail looking dough.
Bake in preheated oven (200 degrees Celsius) for about 30-45 minutes or until golden brown.
Enjoy and help yourself to another slice, it is THAT good!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chapati (roti), Mushroom biryani and Chicken pasanda

I just love ethnic food. I can't get enough of them. Unfortunately for me, I cannot eat hot foods due to very sensitive and complicated digestive system, but the beauty of ethnic foods is that you can substitute spices and make them suit different tastes. While my husband is fond of Chinese cuisine, I love me some Indian. I don't mind Chinese, don't take me wrong, but if I ever had to choose between the two, my vote goes to Indian cuisine.
So, after (not) sitting pretty for some time, I decided to do little Indian feast from scratch. There was not the option of buying ready made sauces or vacuum packed bread. Million pots, pans and bowls were (ab)used, but the end was worthwile. The result: empty plates and very little leftovers.
Here we go with the ingredients and the methods:

Chapati (roti)

Ingredients for 4 pieces:

1 cup of flour
1/2 cup of lukewarm water
pinch of salt
pinch of baking powder
4-5 spoons melted clarified butter (ghee)


Mix the dry ingredients and add the water. Make the dough and if it's sticky add some more flour. Put few drops of oil on your hands and knead the dough until smooth. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Divide the dough into 4 balls. Heat up a skillet or heavy bottomed non stick pan. Dust the work surface with flour and with rolling pin make circle about 6-7 inches in diameter and put it on the hot skillet. When brown spots appear on the bottom, flip the chapati on the other side and it should start puffing up. As soon as brown spots appear on the other side, flip again for few seconds and remove it. Place on a dish lined with paper 2-3 napkins. Pour some clarified butter on top of each chapati and stack them like pancakes until you have used up all dough.

Mushroom biryani

Ingredients (for 2 servings):

1 cup basmati rice
1 small chopped onion
7-8 quartered mushrooms
2 medium tomatoes finely diced
green chilli finely diced (optional)
1 inch piece ginger finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
2-3 cardamom pods
1 small cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 cup garden peas (optional)
salt to taste


Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed cooking pot and add the cardamom, cloves, cumin seeds and cinnamon. Stir for few seconds and then add the onion. Stir well until the onion gets glassy and then add the garlic, ginger, ground coriander, chili flakes (and fresh chili if you're using). Stir well for some minutes and then add the mushrooms and tomatoes (and peas if using). Cook until the liquid has evaporated. Add the rice and stir until the rice looks like glass. Add 2 1/2 or 3 cups of water (the same cup used for measuring rice), reduce the flame, partially cover the pot and cook until the rice is done.

Chicken pasanda

Ingredients for 2 portions:

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 medium onion, grated

small stick of cinnamon

2 cardamom pods

1/2 inch of ginger, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

1/4 teaspoon chilli powder

2 tablespoons of butter

1 heaped tablespoon of sugar

1 tablespoon tomato puree

about 100 ml water

1 tablespoons flaked almonds

Fresh coriander, chopped

250 grams of chicken breast trimmed and cubed into 3 centimetre squares

1 tablespoons sultanas

1 tablespoons of coconut flakes

100ml fresh cream

Salt – to add to taste as you go along

First heat some oil in a frying pan and add the chicken. Cook until has become white, but do not let it brown. Set aside.

Heat the oil to start making the sauce. Add the onion and fry on a medium heat until the consistency is on the dry side. Add the cinnamon and the cardamom seeds. Cook on a low heat for ten minutes.

Add the ginger and garlic and cook them for another ten minutes on the same low heat. Add the salt.

Then add the chilli, turmeric and coriander seeds. Cook for one minute.

Add some freshly boiled water [this is really important as it stops the onions from separating and floating] until you have an amalgamated sauce.

Add a tablespoon of butter and when this dries out, add the next one. Continue to mix in butter until the consistency is dried. Add the sugar.

Add the tomato puree and some salt.

You should now have a very thick sauce to which you add the water. Amalgamate well.

Add the cubed chicken. Cook on extremely low heat.

In a separate pan, toast, on a low heat, the flaked almonds and coconut flakes until they are brown. Cool them and crush them in your hands into smaller pieces. Add some fresh coriander.

To bring it all together:

Add the almonds and chopped coriander, the sultanas and coconut flakes. Add fresh cream until you have a thick, pale sauce.

This recipe for chicken pasanda has been modified from its original version to suit my personal taste.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lebanese fatayer bil-sbanegh (Small savoury spinach pies)

I really like Lebanese food. Although I'm not very keen on meat, sometimes I eat even meat from the Lebanese restaurant nearby. All the spices and seasoning are just so wonderful.
On the other hand, I really enjoy the vegetarian part of the cuisine. So, after figuring out that 1 Euro is too much to pay for a teeny tiny (minuscule) pie, I decided to make my own. I found the original recipe somewhere on the net, but I 'improved' to suit my taste :)
So, for 20 of these delicious mini pies you will need:


250 grams all purpose flour, sifted
160 ml lukewarm water
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
1 level teaspoon salt
Olive oil for brushing


500 grams fresh spinach leaves
1 small ripe tomato, finely diced
1 medium onion, very finely diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of grated nutmeg
pinch of ground black pepper
juice of half lemon
1 tablespoon sumac* (*see note)


In a bowl, combine the flour, yeast and salt and gradually add the water. Stir and mix well to make the dough. On a floured surface knead the dough adding more flour if it's sticky. Knead for 5 minutes. Lightly oil a bowl with some olive oil and place the dough. Cover with cling film and let it prove for about 1 and a half to 2 hours.
In meantime, shred the spinach into very thin ribbons, sprinkle with the salt and squeeze as much moisture as you can with your hands. (The spinach has to look dry). Discard the liquid. Put the spinach into a bowl with the diced onion and tomato and add the sumac, pepper, nutmeg and lemon juice. Stir well to combine.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and line baking sheet with baking parchment. Divide the dough in 20 small balls and cover them with tea towel to prevent drying out. Roll each bowl on lightly floured surface with floured rolling pin into circle about 8 centimetres in diameter. Brush the edges with little water and place tablespoon of the filling into the centre of the circle. Fold the dough from 3 sides and pinch the edges to form triangular shapes. Arrange on baking tray and brush lightly with olive oil on all 3 sides. Bake for 25-30 minutes (depending on the oven) or until lightly golden. Take out from the oven and brush again lightly with olive oil. Let them cool and serve at room temperature with some strained yogurt sprinkled with sumac.

* Note: Sumac is Middle Eastern sour spice with peppery hint. If you can't find sumac, you can use zest from half lemon mixed with pinch of salt.
I'm so glad that nearby there's ethnic shop that sells all kind of spices, but my sumac was bought from the Lebanese restaurant nearby :) The chef/owner was happy to sell me the desired amount for very little money :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

No knead bread

Yeah, I know...I haven't discovered a new continent or re-invented the wheel, however, I did manage to make the famous No knead bread :) Yay for me! Thing is, my husband liked it so much that now he's always asking when I'll have the time to make it again.
It was not hard to make it, pretty much I saw the video on Youtube and that was it. I will just type out the ingredients and for the method it is best to watch the video.


420 grams strong flour
350 ml tepid water
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the method, watch this video:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Apple dessert

Small pleasures make life worth living. Memories of smell, taste, touch, feeling are instant transporter into time and place. In a world where time travel is not yet invented, only memories can take you places.
i like simplicity. I always did. It's not like I won't undertake some serious complicated project, but simple things tend to make me feel better. Smile on a child face, stubborn little flower growing in the cracks between walls, stranger saying 'thank you' when you give way on the pavement...I could go on and on, and at the same time remember how many simple things we take for granted.
Not to digress....this recipe is one of the simplest things that brings happy memories. The very first time I tried it was at my uncle's engagement party, what it seems now like centuries ago.

Pack of 'pettit beurre' biscuits
6-7 large apples, cored, peeled and sliced very finely
1,3 l water
6-7 tablespoons sugar (more or less to taste)
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
2 sachets chocolate pudding powder


Arrange the biscuits in one layer at the bottom of a deep rectangular dish. Put the apples in the water with the sugar and vanilla sugar and boild them until soft. Remove the apples with slotted spoon and arrange evenly over the biscuits in the tin. Keep the cooking water warm. Dissolve the pudding powder with 5-6 tablespoons of cold water and add a laddle of the warm cooking water into the mixture. Mix to combine and add the mixture into the warm water. Stir until you have thick consistency and when cooked, pour over the apples. Leave to cool and put into the fridge for 5-6 hours before serving.

It can't get simpler than that!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jam Donuts with Lavender Sugar

I realize that I haven't been around for quite some time now. Things have been happening, some good, some not-so-good, but all is good when it ends good.
I have been watching Masterchef Australia (season 2) on TV (yeah...I started watching TV, too), and these donuts were looking so cute and delicious that I had to give them a try.
Chef Gary Mehigan was doing them, and I followed the recipe step by step. The end result?! Delicious donuts that finished in less than 20 minutes (well, we had visitors and didn't munched all of them by ourselves).
Well, here's the recipe:


440ml milk
100g unsalted butter, softened
75g caster sugar
4 eggs
20g fresh yeast
4 cups (600g), plain flour
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
200g raspberry jam
clotted cream, to serve

2 tsp lavender flowers
100g caster sugar


Step 1: Heat milk in a saucepan until tepid (37°C on a thermometer). Whisk in the butter, caster sugar and eggs. Place the yeast into a bowl and about ½ cup of the milk mixture. Break up the yeast with your hands to form a smooth paste. Transfer to the milk mixture, whisking to combine. Combine flour and ½ teaspoon of salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Gradually pour in the milk mixture, whisking until smooth. Cover and set aside in a warm place to prove for 45 minutes - 1 hour.

Step 2: Meanwhile, for the lavender sugar, combine lavender flowers with sugar in a large bowl, rub together with your hands until flowers are bruised. Set aside for 15-20 minutes to infuse.

Step 3: Pour oil into a saucepan until one-third full. Heat over medium-high heat until 165°C. Spoon donut mixture into 4cm round balls into the hot oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes until golden and cooked through. Remove, drain on paper towel, then toss in the lavender sugar.

Step 4: Spoon jam in a small piping bag with a 5mm straight-edged nozzle. Push nozzle into the centre of each donut and pipe enough jam to fill.

Step 5: Serve donuts with clotted cream.

My note: I couldn't find clotted cream in the shops, so I made something very similar. I mixed 250 grams of Mascarpone cheese with 2 tablespoons of icing sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence. The mixture was beaten by electric whisk until very smooth and combined, and kept in the fridge until serving time.
Sorry for the photo, it is not very presentable, but I was feeling uncomfortable taking a photo of the serving plate in front of my guests :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Banoffee Pie

OK. I still don't get it why pie and not cake. However, pie or cake it is still delicious and really easy to make.
I have been feeling guilty for feeding my husband sandwiches for dinner for the past two months, and to ease the guilt and celebrate his birthday, this Banoffee Pie recipe was real godsend. I would have ordered the cake and would have had it delivered if I had remembered to do that earlier in the week, but since I'm not functioning properly, that was out of question.
Good thing is that the 'birthday boy' aka my husband, loved his birthday cake. He's very fussy eater, but for first time he didn't came up with comments 'it's too sweet, too sticky or too dry'.
Well...Happy Birthday darling and many many happy returns!
Before I type the recipe, I must add that it's not mine, but kindly 'borrowed' from here. (
All trademarks and other intellectual property appearing on this site are owned by Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. Vevey, Switzerland).

So, for 12 servings you will need:

  • 100g (3½oz) butter, melted
  • 250g (9oz) digestive biscuits


  • 100g (3½oz) butter
  • 100g (3½oz) dark brown soft sugar
  • 397g can Carnation Condensed Milk


  • 4 small bananas
  • 300ml carton double cream, lightly whipped
  • chocolate powder

You will also need:

  • 20cm (8”) loose-bottomed cake tin, greased

To make the base, process the biscuits until crushed. Stir in the melted butter. Press the mixture into the base and 4cm (1½") up the sides of the tin. Chill the base while you make the filling.

To make the filling: place the butter and sugar into a non-stick saucepan over a low heat, stirring until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Add the condensed milk and bring gently to the boil, stirring continuously. When the caramel has started to boil, remove from the heat and pour over the biscuit base. Cool, and then leave to chill for about 1 hour, until firm.

To serve, remove the pie from the tin and place on a serving plate. Slice the bananas, fold half of them into the softly whipped cream and spoon over the caramel base. Decorate with the remaining bananas and finish with the chocolate powder.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Another year rolled by, and I feel like nothing has changed. I still feel like 17 year old, with some gray hair sprouting up and a laughter line or so more.
Thanks goodness, no wrinkles yet.
I was determined to pass the New Year's eve with sandwiches and popcorn this year (as I 'smartly' advised a friend to do the same), but as fate would have it, things changed at the very last moment.
I was on the phone with my mum and she was telling me of the million dishes she prepared for the celebration, so I felt sort of guilty for not doing the same for my husband.
You see, I'm in a big pickle at the moment, with my graduation thesis haunting me in my dreams, another assignment due in 10 days and another 2 exams that has to be passed. Not to mention other issues...
So, at about 4 pm yesterday, I decided to make small fiesta for dinner. Thanks goodness for the defrost function on the microwave!
Our modest dinner consisted of freshly baked bread rolls, quails with orange and honey,peasant style meat, potato salad and Russian salad.
So, I'll start with the starter:

Russian Salad:

You'll need the same amount of these products:
* Cheddar cheese
* Ham
* Garden peas (tinned or cooked)
* Carrots (steamed or cooked)
* Potatoes (cooked in their skins)
* Pickled gherkins
* Mayonnaise


Cook the potatoes, carrots and peas (if using the fresh variety) and drain them. Leave them to cool completely. In meantime, cube all the cold ingredients into small cubes.
When the potatoes and carrots are completely cool, cube them as well and put all ingredients together in a bowl. Pour over the mayonnaise and mix gently to bind the ingredients. Chill until needed.

Quails with honey and orange

For 2 persons you will need:

4 quails
8 rashers of bacon
1 orange
1 lemon
1 teaspoon honey
pinch of cinnamon
little freshly ground black pepper
some salt


Squeeze the orange and grate some zest into the orange juice. Mix the honey, cinnamon and black pepper into the orange juice.
Pat dry the quails with kitchen tissue and stuff each cavity with 1/4 of the lemon.
In a baking tray lay the bacon and put the quails breast side up. Rub some salt into them and with teaspoon pour over some of the orange-honey marinade. (Do not use up all the marinade at once, you'll need to bast them again)
After 15-20 minutes of roasting, baste them again with the marinade and roast them for another 20-30 minutes (depending on the size) or when pricked the juices are running clear.

Peasant style meat

For 2 persons you will need:

300 grams of ground beef
300 grams cubed pork
300 grams tinned mushrooms (mixed if possible)
4 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns
1 glass (250 ml) white wine
about 300 ml water
1 tablespoon flour
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 medium onion very finely chopped
3-4 large pinches of oregano
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons "Vegeta" or "Knorr Aromat" (If you can't find these, use salt to taste)
Some oil for frying


First you have to make little meatballs from the ground beef. Chop the onion very finely, add to the ground beef, put generous pinch of oregano, some salt or "Vegeta", little ground black peper and mix well.
Now it's good time to preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
With wet hands form small balls (the size of a walnut) and put them in a dish or tray.
Heat some oil (about tablespoon or two) in a frying pan and fry the cubed pork. Do not over fry, just lightly brown it. Take out the pork from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and put them into a baking dish.Put the meat balls into the same pan and fry until lightly browned, and again, take them out with a slotted spoon and add them to the pork into the baking dish.
Put the drained mushrooms into the same pan, season with some oregano, add the crushed garlic, cayenne pepper and paprika and heat them through. Pour them over the pork and the meat balls and stir around gently so they mix well into the baking dish.
Scatter the whole black peppercorns and lay the bay leaves on top of the meat and put in the oven for about 10 minutes. Take out the dish and put the glass of wine and return for another 10-15 minutes in the oven. After the wine has evaporated, mix the 1 tablespoon of flour in cold water (about 300 ml) and pour over the meat, shaking the dish gently and return back to the oven.
Leave the dish in the oven for another 20-30 minutes (or until golden brown).
Can be served hot or at room temperature. Leftovers are freezing well for up to 2 months.

Potato Salad

For 2 people you will need:

2 large boiled potatoes (boiled in their skins)
1 small onion, sliced
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar


After they have cooled down, peel off the potato skins and cut the potatoes into medium cubes. Add the sliced onion and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the oil and vinegar and mix lightly so all the ingredients combine. Best served at room temperature.

Enjoy and have fabulous, healthy, wealthy and very HAPPY NEW YEAR!