June 4th, 2009

Kiwi Pavlova with Kiwis



For meringues:
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
½ cup of sugar
1 Tbsp flour
½ tsp vinegar
15g hazelnuts, crashed (plus some extra for the finishing touch)

For cream:
1/2 can condensed milk
3 Tbsp soft butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 golden kiwis, peeled and cut in circles

Materials: electronic mixer

Prep. time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 40-45 minutes

Serves 2 (to share).

Pre-heat the oven to 125 C. Cover two baking trays with baking paper.

Whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt using electronic mixer on low speed. When the mixture substantially increases in volume, increase the mixer speed.  Start adding sugar bit by bit. When all the sugar in integrated, whisk in flour, vinegar and 15g of hazelnuts.

Spread the egg mixture on the trays by forming 6 flat circles of about 10 cm in diameter and 2 circles of 7 cm in diameter. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes until the meringues dry up and become just slightly golden. Take them out of the oven and let them cool down.

Meanwhile, whip butter with condensed milk and vanilla essence. Use 3 larger and 1 smaller meringue circles for each Pavlova. Place the first larger circle on a dish, spread some cream evenly and arrange 2-3 kiwi slices on top, pressing them lightly into the meringue. Repeat with the other 2 larger meringue circles. Put one smaller circle on top and sprinkle with the half of remaining hazelnuts. Repeat the procedure for the second Pavlova. Leave the Pavlovas for an hour to slightly soak in cream before serving.

May 30th, 2009

Pumpkin Soup with Green Apple



1 medium pumpkin, skin and seeds removed, sliced
2 green apples
2 potatoes (1 sweet and 1 regular)
2 tsp dried rosemary
750 ml of vegetable stock
juice of 1/4 lemon (you might need 1/2 a lemon if apples are not sour)
6 tsp of sour cream to serve

Prep. time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Materials: blender

Serves 6.

Bring the stock to boil. Peel and slice the potatoes. Add rosemary, pumpkin and potato pieces to the stock and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, peel, core and slice the apples. Add the apples to the soup and cook for another 5 minutes or until all the vegetables become very soft. Turn off the heat. Using the blender blend the soup until creamy. (Be careful when using a manual blender as the soup will “spit”). Bring to taste with salt, fresh pepper and lemon juice (sweet and sour tastes should be in harmony). If the soup becomes too thick for your taste, add some more vegetable stock or just some boiling water, stir well. Serve with a teaspoon of sour cream.

May 27th, 2009

Mushroom Madness


The latest invention of mine is this recipe for filled baked mushrooms. I have no idea where the inspiration for exactly this set of ingredients came from, but I tried this recipe out today, and I loved it. Loved it so much I just had to send the link to some of my friends.

The idea started with flat mushrooms. I see them every time in our supermarket. They are just lying there, round and perfect, waiting to participate in a great meal. So I gave myself a challenge to think of a dish where they can shine. Of course I have tried the traditional flat mushrooms filled with goat cheese and rosemary recipe before, so I wanted something totally different. The first two ingredients where quite a logical choice: brown mushrooms to make the mushroom flavor of the dish more intense plus fried onions, you can’t do without them. And then, different wild ideas came to my mind in most inappropriate moments.

The last ingredient – anchovies – appeared to me during the final session at my meditation course. Usually I am more focused… But this time I just could not get this fishy and salty taste of anchovies out of my mind. So I came home and added them to the shopping list for this week. And if you are wondering what apple is doing in this recipe. Well, soft and mushy fillings are ok, but a filling with a bite is so much better. Even if this bite is relatively soft. Besides, remember the story about the rainbow of flavors? It is my constant guideline for new dishes: a dish is “complete” when all of your taste buds are happy, that is when all sweet-salty-sour and sometimes bitter flavors are in harmony in your mouth.


4 flat mushrooms
5-6 “Swiss browns” mushrooms, finely chopped
7 anchovy fillets (from a pot of anchovies in oil), very finely chopped
2 small eggs
1 big onion, chopped
1 Tbsp of crème fraiche
2 Tbsp chopped chives or green onions
½ sweet apple, chopped
3 Tbsp rasped parmesan
2 Tbsp breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp olive oil for frying

Materials: flat oven tray

Overall cooking time: 35 minutes

Serves 2.

Pre-heat the grill to 180 °C.

Boil the eggs for 10 minutes, let them cool under cold water, peel and chop. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a frying pan, add the chopped onion and fry for 5 minutes, stir occasionally. Add chopped brown mushrooms and fry for another 5 minutes until the onion is golden. Sprinkle with (fresh) black pepper and turn off the heat.

Grease a flat tray with a bit of olive oil, lay the flat mushrooms stem side up on the tray, sprinkle with a bit of salt and place under the grill for 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl combine onion-mushroom mixture, chives, apples, eggs, anchovies and crème fraiche. Taste and add some salt if necessary. In a small bowl, mix 2 Tbsp parmesan with 2 Tbsp of breadcrumbs.

Take the flat mushrooms out of the oven. Sprinkle them with 1 Tbsp of parmesan. Distribute the mixture from the medium bowl equally on top, then add the parmesan-breadcrumb mixture. Place the filled mushroom under the grill (in the middle of the oven, not close to the grill) for another 10 minutes. Take out and serve immediately.

May 21st, 2009

Celery and Mushroom Soup


3 potatoes
1 big sweet potato (kumara)
2 celery stalks
8 champignons
750 ml vegetable stock
3 Tbsp rasped cheese
sour cream to serve

Prep. time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Materials: blender

Serves 6.

Bring the stock to boil. Meanwhile, peel and cut the potatoes, chop the mushrooms and the celery. Add the potatoes and celery to the stock and cook for 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes until all the vegetables are soft. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese. Blend the soup until creamy. (Be careful when using a manual blender as the soup will “spit”). Bring to taste with salt and fresh pepper. Serve with a teaspoon of sour cream.

May 4th, 2009

Onion, Carrot and Banana Quiche


2 large onions
3 medium carrots
1 banana
50g of leg ham (optional)
1 tsp curry powder
3 Tbsp rasped cheese
3 large eggs,
100 ml milk (or a combination of milk and cream)
savoury pastry sheets, enough to cover the quiche form surface
2 Tbsp olive oil for frying

Prep. time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 25-30 minutes

Materials: low 26 cm quiche form, greased

Serves: 4.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.

Peel the onions and cut them in half-circle slices. Peel and rasp the carrots. Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Add the onions and fry for 5 minutes, stirring for a couple of times. Add the carrots, curry powder and salt to taste. Fry for another 5 minutes. Remove from fire and stir in the ham, cut in small cubes, and sliced banana. In a bowl, whisk the eggs with milk, salt and 1/3 teaspoon of sugar.

Arrange the pastry sheets in the form. Distribute the onion-carrot mixture equally in the form and then pour the egg mixture in. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve with a simple tomato and spinach salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing.

April 29th, 2009

Avocado Soup


1 avocado
1/3 of the white part of a leek
1 glass of fresh orange juice
1 glass of water
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander
some coriander branches and 2 tomatoes to serve

Materials: electric mixer

Prep. time: 10 minutes

Serves 6 as an appetizer.

Put all the ingredients in a mixer and pulse until you get a smooth soup, cool it down in the fridge. Serve in small portions with some fresh coriander and tomato slices.

April 11th, 2009

Apple and Banana Puff Tart

Say pufffff: Love me not for my looks

You know what they say: “Don’t judge a man by his clothes”. As much as I tried to make a great photo right after this tart was baked, I do not think I quite succeeded. The heavenly smell of it just drove my hands off the camera and to a knife. My cup of tea was already waiting so the pressure was unbearable. And I have to admit, mushy feelings like that are not very photogenic. But the second you put it in your mouth it all becomes unimportant. You close your eyes and you just cannot wait to put the second piece into your month. I know because I have just seen my husband doing that. And this sight is the greatest compliment I can get.

So, this little tart is rich with flavors, simple and quick! And look at the short list of ingredients. There is just nothing that can go wrong (well, unless you decide to make your own puff pastry of course) and you can in no time enjoy it as a dessert after dinner or lunch. My oven warms up in about 10 minutes to 180°C. And that is about the time you need for the preparations. And remember to enjoy it warm! Although I do not thing you could resist waiting for it to cool down.


1 banana
½ apple
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp sliced almonds
juice of ½ lime
1 roll of puff pastry (thawed if you bought it in a shop,
just out of the fridge if you made it yourself)

Prep time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 25 minutes

Serves 4 (only if you are very modest).

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a rectangular baking tray (25cm x 10cm) with butter or use a small round baking tray.

Cut the banana in circles and apples in small wedges. Melt the butter and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat, add vanilla essence, banana, apple and lime juice. Stir for a moment and remove from the heat. Roll out the puff pastry to the shape of your baking tray. Place the apple-banana mixture into the baking tray, sprinkle with almonds and cover it with the dough. Roll the edges in and put into the oven for 25 minutes. When ready, take the tart out of the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. Turn it over on a serving plate and make sure your tea is ready!

April 9th, 2009

Caramelized Red Onions, Pears and Blue Cheese Tartelettes

A surprise for your birthday party

We have all been in a situation when we have invited many guests for a birthday party. We would like to surprise them with tasty and original dishes without having to spend many hours in the kitchen. My solution is to make a big pan of some tasty soup to start with. My birthday is in October, so soup as a starter fits great with somewhat cooler weather. Pumpkin soup is a really good option. With its many variations there is always one just perfect for You. Most of the variations are light, smooth and very aromatic. Their inviting smell spreads throughout the house and even leaks through to the staircase. Believe me, no one will refuse to try it when they come in. My all times favourite is Pumpkin Soup with Green Apple and Rosemary.

The soup is then accompanied by a couple of quiches with different fillings to satisfy both meat eaters and vegetarians (the winners are Onion, Carrot and Banana Quiche and Sauerkraut Tartelettes with Dates). And of course you do not want to miss out on some fresh veggies, so a couple of salads should complet the menu. A very easy and “autumny” option is Carrot Salad with Garlic and Raisins. Another “quick chopper” is Mango and Red Paprika Salad. And while you could just take some of these ideas (or all of them) and implement them during your next birthday party, here is a recipe that takes you a step further. And please do not get discouraged by the preparation times! The little tartelettes can be prepared long in advance and kept in a airtight container until ready to use. The caramelization of onions does take some time but you can also prepare them in advance and keep in the fridge. There are not so many recipes that allow their preparation 2-3 days in advance! And on the day itself it just means you will have to assemble the tartelletes, which takes about 5 minutes, bake them in the oven for 5 minutes and you are ready to delight your guests! So my suggestion is: keep the Sauerkraut Tartelettes and replace the other quiche with this recipe (make a double or a triple portion, depending on the number of guests, make sure you use a large frying pan for caramelizing the onions then). And hey, they are both vegetarian now so imagine the joy of your vegetarian friends! Actually I have just realized that the whole dinner is vegetarian, but its rainbow of flavours will make all-eaters forget they did not get any animals to feast on.


For the filling:

2 big red onions
5 Tbsp red wine
5 Tbsp red balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter
1 ripe pear
about 100g blue cheese (Castello blue)
2 Tbsp chopped walnuts

For the dough:

75 g butter, at room temperature
175 g plain flour

Materials: 8 tartellete forms

Prep. time pastry: 10 minutes, 20 minutes cooling down time; baking time: 15-20 minutes
Prep. time filling: 5 minutes; cooking time: 40 minutes
Final assembling time: 10 minutes

Serves 8.

To make pastry, cut the butter into pieces and mix it with flour using your fingers on a table or in a flat plate. Add just enough water to make smooth dough. (You will really need just a little bit of water so be careful while pouring in the first splash). Cover the dough in plastic and leave it rest for 20 minutes in the fridge.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it on the table until it is about 2cm thick. Using a cup or a mug that is a bit larger in diameter than your tartellete forms cut 8 circles out of the dough. If you do not manage to get 8 circles the first time, roll the remaining dough one more time. Carefully move the circles in the tartellete forms greased with butter. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cooked through but not coloured. Take tartelletes out of the oven, let them rest a bit and carefully turn them over on a flat surface to separate the tartelletes from the forms.

To make the filling, cut the onions in half circles. Melt the butter in a heavy pan and fry the onions over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add half of the sugar, 3 Tbsp of each wine and vinegar. Continue stirring frequently. After about 15 minutes add remaining sugar, wine and vinegar plus salt and pepper. Mix well and taste the onions. You should taste distinctively sweet and sour flavours. You might need a bit more sugar or vinegar. Continue stirring for another 20 minutes. The onions are ready when they become soft and chewy. Be careful not to overcook them, dry and crispy is not what we are aiming for! When ready, set aside to cool down.

To assemble the tartelletes (just before service), pre-heat the oven or grill to 180°C. Fill the tartelletes for the half with the caramelized onions. Put a couple of thin pear slices on top (cut in any shape you like), cover with a slice of the blue cheese and sprinkle with some chopped walnuts. I prefer not to cover the onion surface completely with pear and cheese so that you can see all the beautiful colors of the filling. Bake for 5 minutes until the cheese melts. Cool down just slightly and serve.

April 4th, 2009

Orange and Leek Risotto



400 g Arborio risotto rice
2 leeks
250 ml fresh orange juice
400 ml vegetable stock
150 ml white wine
zest of ½ orange
5 slices of bacon
rasped parmesan cheese to taste
extra-virgin olive oil

Leave out the bacon if you prefer the vegetarian option, it will be just as delicious!

Prep. time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20-30 minutes

Serves 4 as a main course and 6 as a starter.

Wash the leeks thoroughly, cut the white part in half then slice it in half-circles. Cut the bacon slices in cubes. Pre-heat a large saucepan with an anti-burn layer and fry the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan.

Add the leeks to the pan and stir-fry until soften over a moderate heat, remove from the pan. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and stir-fry the rice until it becomes partially translucent. Add the leeks and stir in half of the wine and the orange zest. Cover with the lid for 1 minute.

Remove the lid and add 100ml of the vegetable stock. Mix well until all the stock in absorbed. Continue the procedure until half of the stock is absorbed. Then keep adding orange juice and the rest of the white wine in portions of about 100ml. When all the wine and the juice are absorbed, try the rice to check whether additional seasoning is required (this will depend on how salty your stock is). Add some freshly ground pepper (preferably a mixture of black, green and rose peppers). Continue stirring and adding the rest of the vegetable stock. Depending on the rice you use and on your taste you might need a bit more or a bit less of the total amount of stock. Stop cooking the risotto when the rice is al dente, meaning the rice is tender and rice grains stick to each other but still keep their slight firmness.

Stir in bacon and parmesan and serve immediately.

March 31st, 2009

Chocolate Brownies


200g dark chocolate
180 g butter
100g flour
4 eggs
200g sugar
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp chopped walnuts
strawberries, mint leaves and sugar powder to serve

Prep. time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 6.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Cover a baking tray with baking paper.

Melt chocolate and butter in microwave or au bain marie, stir well. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with sugar until fluffy. Stir in the flour, salt and baking powder. Slowly pour in the chocolate mixture, stirring constantly until just combined. Stir in the walnuts. Pour the mixture on the baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes. The brownies are ready when a wooden stick comes out clean. Take the brownies out of the oven and cut them in 6 pieces. Let them cool a little on the tray. Serve with strawberries and mint leaves sprinkled with sugar powder.