Fig Tartelettes

In Croatia, getting fresh produce was easy and accessible. Many of our friends and acquaintances had their own gardens and orchards sharing their produce. I got some fresh figs from Dalmatia as a gift and they ended up in tartelettes 🙂
They were as sweet as honey, and as smooth as butter. Enjoy this easy to make tartelettes recipe and try it out with other fruits if you are not a fan of figs 😉

Ingredients (for 6 tartelettes)

For the shortcrust pastry

  • 220 g (2 cups) all purpose flour
  • 50 g (4 tbsp) granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 130 g (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the filling

  • 5-6 fresh ripe figs
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • oatmeal for sprinkle

Preparation

  1. With electric mixer, in a bowl, mix together flour, salt and sugar until combined.
  2. Add butter, and mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Gradually stream beaten egg into the flour mixture and knead until the dough comes together.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface and shape into a flattened disk.
  5. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 25-30 minutes.
  6. While the dough rests in the fridge, prepare the filling.
  7. Mix figs with maple syrup with hand mixer until smooth.
  8. Preheat oven to 180 °C (355 °F).
  9. Butter a six mold muffin pan.
  10. Take the chilled dough, make six equal balls and put each in a muffin mold. Spread the dough in each mold with your hands. Make sure that you covered the whole mold.
  11. Divide the filling so that each tartelette has enough and sprinkle them with oatmeal.
  12. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

This seasonal dessert pairs very well with Chicken Paprikash as main course.

Do you have access to fresh produce for your cooking creations?

Blackberry Oatmeal Squares

August screams blackberries! This summer fruit, full of dietary fiber, and vitamins C and K makes it a great choice for making desserts, jams and other sweet goodies.

These easy to make squares can make a quick, healthy, snack for any occasion. You can substitute regular flour and oats with gluten free options according to your preference. For the crunch feeling you may substitute ground walnuts with chopped ones. For that matter, use a nut of your liking. Walnuts are my favorite 🙂

Ingredients

  • 200 g (1 1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 120 g (1 1/2 cup) oats + handful for sprinkling
  • 220 g (1 cup) firmly packed brown sugar + 1 tbsp for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 30 g (1/3 cup) ground walnuts
  • 230 g (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 300 g (2 cup) fresh blackberries
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar for tossing the blackberries
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C (350 °F).
  2. Cover the baking pan with parchment paper. Spray with non-stick cooking spray or brush with oil.
  3. In a small bowl, toss blackberries with sugar and cornstarch. Set aside.
  4. In the standing mixer bowl combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and walnuts. Mix until fully combined. You can use a hand electrical mixer we well.
  5. Add the softened butter and beat on low speed, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  6. Spoon half of the oatmeal mixture into the prepared pan. Gently press mixture into bottom of the pan.
  7. Top with the coated blackberries.
  8. Sprinkle with remaining oatmeal mixture. NOTE: do not press down on the mixture.
  9. Sprinkle with some oats and sugar.
  10. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. Cool completely before slicing.

What else would you use blackberries for?

Strawberry Balsamic Tart with Mascarpone Cream

Strawberry season is at its peak and there is no better time to share this tart recipe with you. Since my birthday is at beginning of June, I always had strawberry birthday cake as long as I can remember. They bring beautiful memories of my childhood birthday parties and are for sure one of my favorite fruit. I love preparing desserts with them 😀

This simple and delightful tart is perfect for warm spring or summer days. Strawberries and balsamic are epic together, and the addition of fresh basil leaves takes this tart beyond the cake 😉

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Tools you need

  • Mixing bowls in different sizes for all three components: pastry, strawberries and mascarpone cream.
  • Chef’s knife comes handy for cutting the strawberries
  • Cutting board; also useful for cutting strawberries
  • Round tart pan. I recommend two piece pan for easy slicing
  • Measuring spoons because it’s baking, and measuring is the name of the game 😉
  • Measuring cup. See previous point.
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things.
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. Burns hurt and take time to heal. You don’t want to take time off from baking, do you?
  • Whisk to beat the egg.
  • Electric mixer to mix the cream until smooth and fluffy!
  • Spatula for smearing the cream on the tart easily and beautiful.
  • Zester to zest the zest
  • Lemon squeezer to squeeze the… you guessed it, lemons.

Ingredients

For the shortcrust pastry

  • 220 g (2 cups) pastry flour
  • 50 g (4 tbsp) granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 130 g (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the balsamic strawberries

  • 800 g (5 cups) fresh strawberries, washed and halved
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 8 fresh basil leaves

For the mascarpone whipped cream

  • 300 g (1 cup) mascarpone cheese
  • 65 g (8 tbsp) powdered sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 180 ml (12 tbsp) heavy whipping cream

Preparation

For the shortcrust pastry

  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C (355 °F).
  2. Butter a 26 cm round tart pan.
  3. In the bowl mix together flour, salt and sugar until combined.
  4. Add butter, and mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  5. Gradually stream beaten egg into the flour mixture and knead until the dough just comes together.
  6. Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface and shape into a flattened disk.
  7. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 25-30 minutes.
  8. Roll the chilled dough on a piece of lightly floured baking paper in a 30 cm circle.
  9. Transfer the rolled dough to your tart pan and press it into the bottom and sides of the pan. Cut off excess dough and prick the bottom with a fork.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
  11. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

For the balsamic strawberries

  1. Put the strawberries into a large bowl and add sugar and balsamic vinegar.
  2. Bruise basil leaves between your fingers to release the flavor and add to the bowl.
  3. Toss it all together.
  4. Leave it to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes and then strain.

For the mascarpone whipped cream

  1. In the large bowl mix with electric mixer mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest and juice and beat until creamy.
  2. Add heavy cream and beat on high until you get a fluffy filling.

Once cooled, fill the pastry with mascarpone whipped cream and decorate with marinated strawberries. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving or until needed.

Do you have special cake memories form your childhood?

Istrian Cake with Almonds and Curd

Although Istria is most famous for its delicious seafood, fish, olive oil and wine, it has a few dessert gems. This Istrian Cake is one of those gems, made from favorite Istrian ingredients such as almonds, lemons and curd. Moist and super tasty traditional cake that you can try in your own kitchen and get a little bit of taste of Croatia 🙂

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Istrian cake with almonds and curd - Istrian region

In addition to the original recipe, after I finished the cake and chilled it, I smeared it with apricot jam and sprinkled with almond shavings. If you cannot get a hold of fresh curd, ricotta would make a perfect substitute.

Tools you need

  • Mixing bowls. Before you can put the ingredients into the round baking pan, you need to mix them somewhere. Mixing bowls to the rescue! Make sure bowls you use are adequately sized. There are few things worse than overflowing bowls.
  • Round baking pan to make your cake look perfectly round 😀
  • Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things; alternatively, you can use cups, in which case…
  • Measuring cups. Sometimes when you buy measuring cups, measuring spoons come with them
  • Spatula makes mixing things into other things easier
  • Electric mixer for ultimate combining of your ingredients
  • Zester to zest lemon zest (is there a way to use zest in that sentence again?)
  • Lemon squeezer. You could just use your hands to squeeze lemons if you want to get your hands juicy. Or you could use a lemon squeezer to keep your germs and lemon pits out of the cake. And possibly look fancy while doing it.
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. ‘Nuff said.

Ingredients

  • 250 g (2 cups) curd
  • 250 g (2¾ cups) ground almonds
  • 200 g (14 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp pastry flour
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 6 eggs separated
  • 250 g (1¾ cups) brown sugar
  • 10 g (4 tsp) vanilla sugar
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • zest of four lemons

Preparation

  1. Combine almonds with ⅓ of sugar, flour and lemon zest and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat with electric mixer, butter with remaining sugar until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add egg yolks to butter and sugar mixture.
  4. With spatula in a separate bowl combine curd with lemon juice and honey and mix in to the butter/sugar mixture.
  5. Add almond mixture to curd and butter mixture.
  6. Beat egg whites until stiff and gently stir in with spatula into the rest of the mixture.
  7. Pour the batter into the greased round baking pan.
  8. Bake at 150 °C (300 °F) for 40 min or until the crust gets golden.
  9. After the cake cools completely, smear the apricot jam on top and sprinkle with almond shavings if you wish.
Istrian cake with almonds and curd

Serve chilled 😀

What is your favorite almond cake?

Food in the Time of Self Isolation

In these unprecedented times when we want or need to stay at home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary exposure to potential disease, our food habits have changed.

I see more and more people preparing their own dishes, looking for cooking inspiration all around them.

My foodie friend Joy Gordon came up with an idea to gather some of our foodie friends and make a magazine full of pantry staple recipes and help you all make delicious dishes with everyday pantry ingredients.

We made a FREE Magazine May edition – recipe compilation of pantry staple dishes to help you spice up your everyday cooking experience.

Recipes in this issue

Photo by Allie on Unsplash

In order of appearance

Homemade Bread
by Jasmina Brozovic

Fried Masala Eggs
by Indrani Sen

Breakfast Burritos
by Joy Stewart

Beef Stew with Polenta
by Jasmina Brozovic

Lobia Stew
by Balvinder Ubi

Baked Chicken with Vegetables
by Indrani Sen

Vegetable Egg Foo Yung
by Joy Stewart

Paneer Pulao
by Indrani Sen

Chickpeas Two Ways
by Renu Agrawal Dongre & Joy Stewart

Butternut Squash Halwa
by Balvinder Ubi

Contributors

At a different time we also collaborated on a book Foodies+ Christmas Recipes from Around the World with all proceeds going to Action Against Hunger but this Magazine is completely free of charge in an effort to help as many people as possible so please share with people who might find it useful using the share buttons on the site.

What are some of your favorite pantry recipes?

Bučnica: Croatian cheese and pumpkin strudel

This tasty and healthy dish is very popular in continental Croatia.
I have always made it with store-bought phyllo dough, but it just doesn’t taste the same as the one made with homemade pulled dough.
I never tried making the dough myself as it seemed very hard and demanding. Until now.

My mother-in-law visited us for Easter.
I succumbed to peer pressure and “gentle encouragement” and decided to give it a try with her mentorship. Bučnica turned out very delicious, and I was so proud 🙂

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Armed with this new experience, I have to practice some more to get a better grip of it 😀
The adventurous ones among you can try the craft of making homemade dough, and you will definitely be rewarded with an authentic taste, provided you don’t mess it up 😛

How this post works

We’ll split it into the part for the adventurous and part for the impatient.

If you are adventurous…

…follow instructions under Homemade pulled dough.

If you’re impatient…

…just use 500 g of store-bought phyllo pastry sheets (12-15 sheets) and skip to filling.

Which will it be? Tan-tan-tan!

Tools you need

  • Baking pan so you can twist your bučnica to perfection 😉
  • Mixing bowls. Perfect thing to make your Bučnica filling in (and the homemade dough if you dare to make it 😉 )
  • Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them.
  • Measuring cups to, you know, same.
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things
  • Peeler to peel the pumpkin. Doh.
  • Liquid measure cup helps you measure liquid ingredients easier, like water and oil.
  • Grater because it’s one letter away from being great, and you also need it to grate the pumpkin.
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. ‘Nuff said.
  • Kitchen towels to cover your dough while it’s resting.

Homemade pulled dough

Ingredients

  • 500 g (3 3/4 cups) all purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tbsp oil
  • 300 ml (1 1/5 cup) of lukewarm water
  • some oil for coating dough

Preparation

This is for the adventurous. Proceed at your own risk. 😉

We won’t be using any machines. This is a manual process, so roll up your sleeves. You’ll use your hands and your senses. This can be an almost meditative experience. Or so I’m told…

  • Put flour, salt, egg and oil into a bowl.
  • Start kneading with your hand and gradually add water.
  • Continue kneading until the dough doesn’t stick to the bowl and the consistency is as soft as an earlobe. Secret tip from my mother-in-law’s book.

It sounds simple. It is simple. It needs feeling.

After you knead the dough, let it rest for half an hour covered with kitchen towel. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

To pull the dough properly, you need a large area, like a dinning table or a kitchen island. Use a clean sheet to pull the dough on.

Pulling the dough is an art in itself. Like kneading, it requires feeling and finesse. Pull it gently with your hands. Be extra careful not to create holes. Sounds simple. Is simple. Requires finesse.

After you pull the dough, sprinkle it with oil and then oil the edges.

Spread the filling like in the photo above.

Roll the dough by lifting the sheet the dough is on and let the dough roll over itself. You might need to help it with your hands if it doesn’t start rolling on its own. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense right now, you’ll know it when you see it. And don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect, it’s not supposed to.

Twist the snake-shaped roll into a greased baking pan to fill it tightly, like in the image below.

Coat with oil and it’s ready for the oven!

Filling

  • 1 small grated pumpkin or zucchini (about 500 g)
  • 500 g (2 cups) cottage cheese or tofu
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 250 g (2 cups) sour cream (soy for vegans)
  • oil or a little melted butter to coat pastry sheets

Bučnica can be salty and sweet, depending on whether you add salt or sugar in your filling. You can use any type of pumpkin you like. For vegetarian variant, instead of cottage cheese, use fresh tofu.

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 200 °C (390 °F).
  2. Grate the pumpkin, lightly salt and leave it for 20 min to let the water out. Drain the pumpkin with hands to displace the remaining water.
  3. Drained pumpkin mix with other ingredients. Add sugar or salt, depending on whether you like it sweet or savory (I like the savory one!)

Rolling the store-bought phyllo dough

If you’re the adventurous type, skip this part and follow the steps for the adventurous under Homemade pulled dough above.

  1. Count the sheets. Divide into 3 or 4 equal batches.
  2. Spread one sheet and sprinkle it with melted butter or oil, place another sheet on it, also sprinkle with butter or oil, coat one part with the filling and fold into a roll. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.
  3. You will get 3 or 4 rolls, depending on the pastry package size. My grandma used to make two sweet and two savory rolls by dividing the filling and adding sugar in one and salt in another part 🙂
  4. Place the rolls on the baking sheet previously smeared with oil or butter. Coat the rolls with melted butter or oil.

Now that the dough is rolled and resting in the baking sheet

  1. Bake about 30 minutes or until the surface is slightly brown.

If you’d like to make a proper sweet pumpkin strudel, replace the sour cream with the sweet cream, add vanilla sugar, and dust it with powdered sugar when it’s baked.
Serve the savory one hot with plain yogurt.

Have fun with exploring savory and sweet Bučnica 😀

I am really interested in your stories. Let me know how it went for you and did you make the adventurous or impatient variant. Sweet or savory?

Pinca – Croatian Easter bread

Happy Easter! Have a peaceful and blessed Easter Sunday 🙂

Pinca, also called Sirnica, is a traditional Croatian Easter sweet bread.
It is a rich yeast dough, made with a lot of butter (sometimes lard) and eggs, flavored with citrus zest, candied and/or dried fruit, rum or rosewater.
To make the dough into Pinca, you shape it into a round loaf, cut the characteristic cross with kitchen scissors and brush with egg wash before baking.

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In the past, Pinca was the pride of almost every household, each having their own family recipe. It was traditionally kneaded on Easter Eve and baked on Easter morning.
Today, along with French Salad, it still often finds its way to the Easter breakfast table.

Jump to recipe

Pinca - Croatian Easter bread

A while back, when Google+ was still very alive and kicking, we made many great friends there and had tons of fun! We did live cooking hangouts, wrote a book together and much more. One Easter the members of Foodies+ Group, us included, obviously, were making Pinca.
Since Google+ sunset, group moved to Facebook, so come aboard!

My Foodies+ friends, not only made wonderful Croatian Easter Bread, but they became ambassadors of Croatian culinary customs around the world!

You can see photos of all of their pincas at the end of the post!

A HUGE thank you for making that Easter special to:

  • Azlin Bloor, based in UK, but with versatile heritage and cooking experience makes her one of a kind. Check her amazing food collection on her site LinsFood.
  • Mirella Kaloglou shares many food tips on her site Little Cooking Tips. Check her great insight on Greek gastronomy!
  • Balvinder Ubi, my fellow Canadian, has a wonderful gluten free recipes blog Simple Gluten Free Kitchen, Indian style.
  • Rita Dolce, currently living in Spain, but with Middle Eastern background, has many sweet things to share with you on her site Dolce Rita 😉
  • Shana Shameer, Asian cooking expert, shares her knowledge on Asian cuisine on her site Recipes are Simple.
  • Indrani Sen, living in India, a cook, a techy and a traveler, shares her amazing food, tech and travel experience on her site Indrani’s recipes cooking and travel blog.
  • Joy Stewart, living in USA, married into a Peruvian family, shares many interesting South and North American dishes on her site The Joyous Kitchen.
  • Kanak Hagjer blends Indian flavors in her delicious Indian dishes on her site Blending Flavours.

Tools

  • Kitchen scissors to make that final touch, the characteristic cross on the top 😉
  • Pastry brush helps you finalize your Easter Bread by applying the whisked egg on it.
  • Mixing bowls. To combine all the ingredients together, you need to mix them somewhere. Mixing bowls to the rescue! Make sure bowls you use are adequately sized. There are few things worse than overflowing bowls.
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things; alternatively, you can use cups, in which case…
  • Measuring cups. Sometimes when you buy measuring cups, measuring spoons come with them
  • Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them.
  • Whisk to whisk the eggs.
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. ‘Nuff said.
  • Parchment paper. Although not really a tool per se, it’s used in preparation of Pincas, so you should be aware of it when preparing to make it.
  • Baking sheet to put all your little breads on.
  • Kitchen towels that you can get in many colors, as dough rises better under the towel, towel keeps the conditions moderate 😀

Ingredients for the dough

Makes 5 small Pincas

  • 750 g (7 cups) all purpose flour
  • 2 sachets (14 g, 1½ tbsp) dry yeast
  • 170 g (14 tbsp or 0.875 cups but good luck measuring that) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 sachet vanilla sugar (10 g, 2½ tsp)
  • 75 g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter
  • 75 g (1/3 cup) lard (it can be substituted with butter)
  • 150 ml (2/3 cup) warm milk
  • 80 g (2/3 cup) sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 40 ml (3 tbsp) rum
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) raisins
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) mixed candied fruit
  • finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • finely grated zest of ½ lemon

Ingredients for the egg wash

  • 1 whisked egg
  • sugar to taste

Preparation

  1. Soak raisins in rum.
  2. Sift flour into a bowl. Add salt, sugar and vanilla sugar.
  3. Dissolve yeast in warm milk and add to the flour mixture. Add eggs, yolk, sour cream and citrus zest. Then add candied fruit and raisins together with rum. Knead until soft dough forms. Make sure to knead it for about 10 minutes. Cover with clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
  4. Punch the dough and knead it again, adding melted and cooled butter and lard. Cover with clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm place until again doubled in size.
  5. Shape the dough into 5 round loafs and place them onto baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  Let them rest for 30 minutes. Using kitchen scissors, cut a cross into the surface of each bun. Brush the surface with whisked egg and let stand for 10 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 180 °C (355 °F).
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes. While still hot, brush again with whisked egg and sprinkle with sugar.

Pincas from around the world

What does your Pinca look like?

French Salad

Do not let the title fool you – this fine salad has absolutely nothing to do with France. The secret lies in the fact that the French salad is called Russian salad (salade russe) in France. If you look around in their culinary dictionary under that name, you will find recipes that have approximately the same ingredients as French salad Croatians make. Now let see what the Russians have to say about it…

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For Russians, this salad has – you guessed it – a different name. It’s called “Salad Olivier“, named after the chef who created it in the 1860s. Lucien Olivier was a chef at the renowned restaurant, “Hermitage”, in Moscow. Shortly after Lucien created it, this salad has become the most recognizable restaurant dish. Its recipe was a strictly guarded treasure, and even to this day we do not know how this popular appetizer was really done. What we do know is that it contained veal tongue, caviar, lettuce, pieces of lobster, capers, small cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs and soy beans.

At the turn of the 19th/20th century, one of Olivier’s assistant chefs tried to get a hold of the recipe. At one occasion while the chef was gone, Ivan Ivanov, his assistant chef, took some of the dressing and realized what was the secret recipe made of​​. After that, he went to work in the competitive restaurant “Moscow”, where he served a surprisingly similar salad. After that, Ivan has even sold the recipe to some publishers and salad began to gain popularity. The result of its popularization was a change of ingredients – everything that was seasonal or expensive was replaced by more affordable ingredients and little by little, the “French” salad as we know it today came into existence.

This version was obligatory dish at ceremonies in Soviet Russia (especially on New Year’s celebrations) because all required ingredients were available in the middle of winter. In addition to Russia, it is a common guest on tables in Iran (where they add chicken bits) and in Spain and Portugal.

Tools you need

  • Mixing bowls to mix the ingredients in 😀
  • Large pot to boil the peas and the carrots in, and a…
  • Small pot to boil the eggs in.
  • Chef’s knife comes in handy for cutting eggs and pickles.
  • Cutting board also comes in handy for cutting the ingredients mentioned above
  • Measuring spoons because it’s meal preparation, and being precise pays dividends.
  • Measuring cup. See previous point.
  • Kitchen scale because cooking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of frozen peas and carrots mix (approx. ½ kg)
  • 400 g (2 cups) mayonnaise
  • 1 small jar of dill pickles (or smaller)
  • 5 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard
  • 3 tablespoons of sour cream (maybe a bit more, to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Hard boil eggs.
  2. Separately boil the carrots and peas in salted water. When cooked, strain and set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the hard boiled eggs and dill pickles into cubes, preferably of the same size as peas, and mix together in a bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together sour cream, mustard, and a tablespoon of mayonnaise.
  5. Mix in with the vegetables and eggs, then add what’s left of the mayonnaise and mix until combined.

If you want a french salad with the twist, you can add couple of boiled potatoes and an apple of your choice (both cut into cubes)!

Chill before serving, preferably over night.

What other dishes with interesting history do you know?

Homemade Bread

For as long as we know, people made their own bread. In this day and age we are used to getting bread quickly and conveniently, in stores, bakeries and markets. There’s even a saying “The best thing since sliced bread”, which only puts an emphasis to the convenience we’re used to. Convenience of not only not having to bake our own bread, but also not even having to cut it. We buy it pre-cut, with slices’ thickness adjusted to our own personal taste.

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Unfortunately, as I am writing this, in March, 2020, there is a virus spreading around the world exponentially infecting everybody. Governments are waking up to the facts and a lot of people are “social distancing” and may decide not to obtain bread by usual means.

Now that the stage is set and the prelude is coming to a close, our hero, you, decides to take things in to their own hands and bake bread of their own. This breadless life will be no more.

No worries, our hero is not alone, there are helpful forcing guiding them, in the form of this post, and they can make it on their own, share the recipe with friends, and enjoy freshly made bread any day of the week.

This recipe is so simple and easy, and the bread is soft and moist! Get on a video call with your friends and social distance is no more.

Tools

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (400 g) of all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (350 ml) of water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry yeast

Preparation

  • In a large bowl, mix all ingredients with the spoon, do not use electric mixer.
  • Cover with a cloth and leave it to rise at least 4 hours, preferably over night.
  • Put the dough on a flour surface and form a ball
  • Heat the oven to maximum temp, my oven was at 270 °C (525 °F), and heat the Cast Iron pot in the oven, in which you are going to bake bread. The pot needs to have a lid and it must endure high temperatures.
  • place the dough on a parchment paper in a hot pot and bake covered for 30 minutes
  • after 30 minutes lower the temperature to 200 °C (390 °F), remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes. This makes the crust nice and crunchy.

You can play with different flours as well, corn flour, rye flour etc.

How did this adventure go?
Have you ever baked bread before?
Tell us in the comments. We’d love to hear your experience.

Black Guinness Cake with Cream Cheese Froth

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, I thought I’d share this amazing cake with you! Did you ever try using beer as an ingredient in a cake before?! Done right it tastes amazing, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this saint than with a beer in one hand and having a slice of beer cake in another (probably on a fork, but really depends on how many other beers you had before) 😀

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Black Guinness Cake with the side of a beer

Tools you need

Springform pan. Perfect shape for your cake in the making.
Chef’s knife. Butter melts faster when cut in pieces 🙂
Whisk for whisking things, as the name implies.
Saucepan for saucing pans heating up beer and butter.
Before you can put the ingredients into the pan, you need to mix them somewhere, mixing bowls to the rescue! Make sure bowls you use are adequately sized. There are few things worse than overflowing bowls.
Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them.
Measuring cups to measure larger quantities of things than with measuring spoons. (Who comes up with these descriptions?)
Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things.
Spatula to put the froth on the cake and make the whole thing actually look like beer. Important stuff here.
Electric mixer. Mixing is great and all, but doing it by hand can get exhausting. Sometimes you can outsource that work to a family member. Other times you need a bit more power.
Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. ‘Nuff said.
Round serving tray. You can serve a cake on anything, even eat it straight from the pan. It’s round, though, so it’s gonna look best on a round serving tray and there’s plenty to choose from.
Cake stand is a fancier way to display your cake than the serving tray.

Ingredients

Makes 12 slices

For the cake:

  • 250 ml (1 cup) Guinness beer
  • 250 g (1 ⅛ cups) unsalted butter
  • 75 g (¾ cup) cocoa powder
  • 400 g (2 cups) sugar
  • 142 ml (½ cup & 2 tbsp) sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 275 g (2 ¼ cups) all purpose flour
  • 2 ½ tsp baking soda

For the topping:

  • 300 g (1 ⅕ cups) cream cheese
  • 150 g (1 ½ cup) icing sugar
  • 125 ml (½ cup) whipping cream

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F)
  2. Oil or butter a 23 cm springform pan, dust with flour and set aside.
  3. Pour the Guinness beer into a large wide saucepan, add the sliced butter and heat until the butter is melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar.
  4. With electric mixer beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and baking soda.
  5. Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack.
  6. When the cake’s cold, place it on a serving tray or a cake stand and start the icing.
  7. Using electric mixer lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, add the icing sugar and then beat them both together until combined.
  8. Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency.
  9. Spread the cream with the spatula on the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous Irish pint.
slice of Black Guinness Cake with the side of a beer

How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
What are you favorite St. Patrick’s Day dishes?