Monday, December 15, 2008
When, back in May, I said how I'm busy I didn't think it will take me soo long to come back to this blog. Yes I was really busy, I'll post about it, but after some time away from blog it was hard to start posting again.
But, what is better time to start something if not this season when we all make plans for our new year's resolution!
For the beginning I have to show you my "alternative Christmas tree". I got inspired whit some great suggestions from Apartment Therapy and I simply couldn't resist try to do something myself.
Hope you like it! I'm completely proud of myself!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
All I can say for April DB challenge is: This was really fun! And the measurements from the recipe make enormous quantities of cheesecake pops so we were eating thought all April! Great! Love it! Will definitely make more and again!
I couldn't find popsticks so I had to improvise with edible chocolate sticks but I think that made my pops even better!
Makes 30 – 40 Pops
5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream
Boiling water as needed
Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)
Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional
Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.
Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.
Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.
When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.
Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.
Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.
Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
This post is dedicated to my very dear friend Maja, who lives in Brooklyn. Maja is real nomad, she lived all around Europe and America. We met working on some film production and we developed one great friendship.
In fact, Maja was one of the two person to who I firstly "discovered" my blog. From the moment she discovered I have a food blog she is tampering me to write about my "stuffed squids".
Well, this recipe that I use is certainly not mine. It is traditional dalmatian recipe and according to great tradition of Dalmatian Cuisine it very simple, healthy and tasty!
Few days ago my brother visited Zagreb and I decide to prepare Stuffed Squids for lunch. Off course, since my brother is great gourmet and great cook he jointed me in kitchen and we prepared lunch together.
Stuffed Adriatic Squid
9 mid size Adriatic Squids*
3 large potatoes
1 spoon of breadcrumbs
1 cup red or white wine
Separate the tentacles from the body of the squids. Clean the body cavity and carefully remove the backbone without damaging the body of the squid. Wash the squids and the tentacles. Drain and set aside.
Finely chop the tentacles.
Mix chopped tentacles with chopped garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs. Add salt and pepper according to your personal taste. Add some olive oil to make the mixture moist.
You can get creative with this staffing and you can add different ingredients like Parmesan or ricotta cheese, various herbs and spices, pine nuts or even raisins...
I must admit I prefer the simplest combination: only tentacles, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper and superb Dalmatian Olive Oli.
Stuff the squid sacs with the mixture using...
... a very small spoon...
... or your fingers
Seal opening with skewers or toothpicks. Be aware that the stuffing will "grow" so do not overload the sacs or it will break.
Place the stuffed sacs in a baking-serving dish over the already seasoned vegetables: potato, carrot, onion...
Add few bey leafs. If any of the stuffing has been left, just sprinkle it over the vegetables.
Pour over some good quality red or white wine, according to taste.
Cover the dish and cook for about 1 hour, then uncover it and cook for additional 15 minutes.
Stuffed squids cooked in traditional way, "ispod peke" are especially delicious but oven baked squid are quite tasty too.
* NOTE: Adriatic squid (lat. Loligo vulgaris; hr. Lignja) is belonging to the family Loliginidae, and it is preferred in Dalmatian cuisine. Since I couldn't fined any squids in fish market that day I bought Totani or Flaying Squid (lat. Illex coindeti; hr. Totanj or Lignjuni) which resemble to common squid but it's less appreciated since its meet is more rigid. Nevertheless some people prefer Totani over Squids.
Friday, February 29, 2008
For February Daring Bakers challenge Mary of The Sour Dough and Sara of I like to cook picked the French bread recipe from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 2". According to Mary and Sara the original recipe from Julia Child cookbook takes up to 18 pages. That made me nervous.
I'm quite proud of my bread baking skills, but till now I never made French bread. I usually bake with whole corn or rye flour and the process is in general much simpler than the process described in DB / Julia Child recipe. And I do not have the strict recipe that I fallow. I know in general what is needed to make a bread, but I usually do something different, always adding something like olives, capers, caramelized onion...
At the first I was overwhelm with the length and the precisions of the DB recipe. And I was sure it will be to complicated for me. Especially the part of the recipe that describes the kneading, rupture and all then hard "hand working" that I couldn't quite visualize.
Luckily for me, and all of you who need AV assistance when cooking something for the first time, I found a great video from PBS with Julia Child and Danielle Forestier that helped me understand what I'm supposed to do!
The process in video was a bit different from DB recipe and since DB rules request to follow the recipe I had no option but to follow the DB recipe and to use video only to help me with kneading and other technics.
From the very beginning I felt something was wrong. The dough was to hard to knead. I suppose I didn't add enough water, so for the next time I'll be sure to add more water. That was more or less the only problem, but it followed me trough whole process... dough couldn't rise enough, it was hard to knead and rupture...
I realized very soon that it needed more water but I was not sure could I just add it after the first rise. Well, next time I'll know better at the beginning.
The final result was excellent, no matter the problem I had during the process. Maybe it would be better if bread was little bit more "spongy", with more holes... I suppose it is connected with the lack of water... but it tasted great!
So, all I can say to all of you who are afraid of 18 pages long recipe is: "Do not fear!" Take one step at the time and just follow the recipe... it will take you there... "Let the force be with you!"
Monday, February 4, 2008
If you ask me, when we talk about comfort food, nothing can beat Jota - thick bean and sauerkraut soup. It's one of those ancient dishes that no one can really tell where and when was prepared for the first time. It is topical staple food in Dalmatia, Istria, Slovenia and part of northmen Italy (around Trieste). Each region has its own variant, but two main ingredients beans and sauerkraut are the basics! If you are interested to learn more about history of this meal, original recipes... read the article about it.
I'm bringing you the recipe that I use. I do make variations with meat that I use. This time I used sausages but any other smoked meat like the knuckle of prosciutto, or pork ribs will do just fine if not even better.
Jota - bean and sauerkraut soup
250 gram beans
500 gram sauerkraut
sausages or other smoked meat according preference
100 gram fine-cut bacon
1 onion, fine-cut
2 cloves of garlic
carrot, according preference (I like to use lots of carrot)
parsley and celery root
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
0.5 dl olive oil
Soak the beans overnight. I didn't have to do this since I had young beans that didn't needed soaking and long cooking. Instead I precook it for 1 hour.
Heath the olive oil in the large pot, add bacon and fry for 2-3 minutes on medium heath.
Add onion and brown it.
Add sliced carrot, parsley and celery root. This is not the part of the original recipe but I prefer it this way.
Add the sausages and let them burn a bit just to add the taste of sausage to the aromats.
Pour in the stock, bay leaf, salt, paper to taste. Add beans and cook until beans are almost completely soft.
Add sauerkraut. Pour more stock if needed.
Cook until beans and sauerkraut are completely tender.
Jota lets you be creative so use that. You can make numberless variations in every step of the recipe. You can use meat, but Jota can be great vegetarian dish too. Instead of sauerkraut you can use soured swede (purist will insist it is not Jota anymore, but trust me it is delicious too). Some add sour cream, some like to tick it with pestata...
Be careful with beans. If us "old" beans it will need longer time to cook. I do not cook sauerkraut too long for two reasons. The first is that I like to "feel" the crispy sauerkraut and secondly because Jota is one of those dishes that you prepare to eat for at least two days so you will re-heath it few times and sauerkraut will get very soft at the end.
As you can see, Jota is "flexible" so there are no reason not to do cook it today. Let me know how it worked for you.