Friday, 12 December 2008

Top Czech

I was thinking of the Omnivore's 100, and also thinking about Czech foods that everyone should try, so I thought I'd make a list. I love cheese, so I think that this will be very cheese biased...Also, I need to vent, so that will come after.

Top Czech Foods you must try:
1) Vepro knedlo zelo (pork knee, dumplings, sauerkraut)
2) Smazeny syr (Fried Cheese. But ALL of them: Eidam, Hermelin, Niva, AND Olomoucke Tvaruzky)

3) Dumplings (All of them: Houskovy, Bramborovy, Spekovy, ovocny [bread, potato, bacon, fruit])
4) Veprovy Rizek & Bramborovy Salat (Pork Schnitzel and Potato salad)
5) Nakladany Hermelin (Hermelin cheese marinated in oil, onion and spices)
6) Gulas (All of them: Madarsky, Znojemsky, Segedensky)

7) Pecene Kachna
(Baked duck)
8) Skvarkove Sadlo with lahudkove cibule and Sumaske Chleba (Pork fat with cracklings with spring onions and dark bread)
9) Spanelsky Ptacek (Beef roll with hard boiled egg, pickle, and pork fat in the middle)

10) Cesnecka (Garlic soup)
11) Zelnacka (Cabbage soup)
12) Kapr, smazeny nebo peceny (Carp, fried or baked)
13) Langose (Dough with cheese, ketchup, and garlic)

14) Trdlo (dough baked on a long metal rod then dunked in almonds and sugar)

15) Blatacke Zlato (A Czech cheese)
16) Svickova (beef cooked in a vegetable cream sauce)
17) Kralik (rabbit, usually cooked in cream with spinach and dumplings)
18) Kulajda (A dill soup with hard boiled eggs. I hate this, but it's very Czech, as far as I can tell...)

19) Rakvicka (a cookie with whipped cream on it that represents a coffin)
20) Utopenec (sausages marinated in vinegar, onions, and spices)

21) Parizsky Dort (Literally "Paris cake", but actually invented at the Hotel Pariz in Prague)
22) Parek v Rohliku (Hot dog in a Rohlik, a penis shaped bread)
23) Bramborak (Potato pancake)

24) Klobasa from a Vaclavske Namesti street stand
25) Livance (Like an american pancake, served with cinnamon sugar)

26) Trhanec (torn dough served with whipped cream and berry sauce)
27) Tvaroh (Farmers cheese, used in lots of desserts)

28) Rajska (Beef cooked in a tomato sauce)
29) Bramborovy Knedliky plnenim s Uzenym Maso (Potato dumplings filled with smoked meat)
30) Karbanatek (A mix between a hamburger and meatloaf)

Hm that nicely rounds out to 30. Any other recommendations?

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Broccoli Soup

This soup was REALLY good and really quick to make. There is only one problem. It looked like crap. Literally. It was brown and had pieces of broccoli and feta floating in it. Hopefully my explanations will resolve that if you want to try it. (Please do, it's healthy and delicious, not to mention has a Greek style flavor scheme!!!)

So I read a while ago that when you're cutting up veggies, especially for a larger meal, you should save your trimmings and throw them in a pot of boiling water to make veggie stock. WHAT a good idea! Totally never thought of this!! (Am I stupid?) Anyway, when I was doing prep work for thanksgiving I was trimming brussels sprouts, cutting onions, peeling potatoes, etc. So all the things I was going to throw away went into a big pot of boiling water that I simmered for about 2-3 hours and then strained. I threw some cloves and a bay leaf there as well to make it interesting.

When I was done, it was a dark brown color but smelled absolutely fabulous and was quite good too. While making my broccoli soup, I decided to use the veggie stock I had created, thus making it a dark brown. I suppose if you used regular water or a mixture of water or milk, this soup would be more green or red (if you add the tomatoes) So here goes:

Broccoli Soup that Looked like Poop
400 g (about 15 oz) broccoli. I used about 200 g florets and 200 g stalk
2 small onions, sliced
2-3 minced garlic cloves
2 small sliced tomatoes (optional)
1 HEAPING tablespoon oregano
2 teaspoons marjoram
60 g (3 oz) chopped feta cheese (yes, I used balkansky syr...)
1.5 - 2 liters stock or a combination of water and milk

Peel and very finely chop the broccoli stalk, onion, and garlic
Sautee in a bit of oil on medium heat until onions have softened a bit
Add the tomatoes if using and cook until soft

Side note: I love thick soups and am obsessed with my immersion blender. Hopefully this explains the rest of the recipe.

Add the water, stock, milk, what have you, oregano, marjoram, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper
Take an immersion blender and puree everything until it is thoroughly combined (this is when my soup turned its very ugly shade of brown...)
Add in the florets and the feta cheese and stir for a bit until feta disintegrates and broccoli is cooked.

You will have a nice thick soup with bits of feta and broccoli bobbing in it.


Picture time! I didn't take a picture of the prep because it's pretty self explanatory, but here it is simmering right before I ate it:

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Turkey and Veg Pie

This is a GREAT recipe for leftover turkey and veggies from thanksgiving. It's very versatile and you can put whatever you want in it. It is SLIGHTLY time consuming though, so I would recommend doing it on a Sunday. Then you can pop it in the oven and relax.

First you need to make a dough. I used an epicurious recipe which I highly recommend. Watch the video too so that you can see what the texture/consistency should be like. Here is the link

Copied and pasted:

Butter Pie Crust

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 tablespoons (about) ice water

Mix flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter; pulse until coarse meal forms. Gradually blend in enough ice water to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; divide in half. Form dough into 2 balls; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic, chill 2 hours or overnight.

Then, roll out one disk and place it in a 10 inch pie pan.

Then you need to make the pie filling and assemble. This is what I used for the filling:

2 medium onions sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

3 cloves of garlic minced finely
1 stalk of celery sliced
1/2 cup
(125 g) of mushrooms sliced
1 cup (250 g) milk
3 heaping tablespoons (or 6 normal ones) of flour.
1 1/2 cups (400g) cooked turkey meat


Sautee the onion and garlic on medium heat in a bit of butter until fragrant (5 minutes) Add the celery and sautee some more until the celery softens. Add the mushrooms and let them release their juices a bit. Add the flour and stir until you can smell the flour cooking. Pour in the milk and cook on medium high heat until milk thickens. Add in turkey and cook. If the filling seems a bit too dry, add in some more milk. Stir in the basil, and liberally salt and pepper.

Now when I was cooking the filling, I prebaked the bottom of the pie crust a bit (400 F, 200 C for about 15 minutes) After you've completed your filling, pour it into your prebaked pie crust. Roll out the second disk and cover the filling, pinching around the edges. When ready, bake at 350 F (175 C) for about 25 minutes.

Before adding the turkey, milk thickening

After adding the turkey, simmering nicely.

Filling, prebaked crust, unbaked top crustCarefully draping the top crust over the filled pie

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Omnivore's 100

I made a turkey and veg pie which was SO good, but will not post yet, as I do not have my camera with me to post the pictures as well (Yes! I took pictures!) Anyway, borrowing from a friend, I'm posting the Omnivore's 100, a list of things every omnivore should try. I had to look up a few of them before posting, I'll try to define all of them. In bold are the one's I've tried...

1. Venison (Deer meat. The saddle I had was way too tough, sadly disappointing)
2. Nettle tea (Tea made from Nettle leaves, a plant whose leaves sting. Ouch)
3. Huevos rancheros (Scrambled eggs and peppers in a fried corn torilla cup, smothered in cheese, salsa and sour cream)
4. Steak tartare (Ground up steak served with a raw egg and garlic toasts. Had this Thursday. Yum)
5. Crocodile (self explanatory)
6. Black pudding (Pudding made from blood. I've had blood sausage, but I don't think that counts)
7. Cheese fondue (Melted cheese with cream, milk, sometimes champagne that one dips breads, meats, or vegetables in)
8. Carp (A fresh water fish with many small bones. Common Czech Christmas fare)
9. Borscht (A soup made primarily from beets)
10. Baba ghanoush (A dip made from roasted eggplant and tahini)
11. Calamari (Fried squid)
12. Pho (A Vietnamese noodle soup. SO good!!!)
13. PB&J sandwich (Peanut butter and Jelly Sandwich. I have actually NEVER had one of these)
14. Aloo gobi (Potatoes/Cauliflower flavored with Tumeric, Curry, etc.)

15. Hot dog from a street cart (self explanatory)
16. Epoisses (The "smelliest cheese in the world" with a washed orange rind, and SO incredibly delicious...)

17. Black truffle (A rare fungus)
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (Self explanatory. I had black currant)
19. Steamed pork buns (a mixture of pork and chinese spices steamed in dough)
20. Pistachio ice cream (Self explanatory)
21. Heirloom tomatoes (
Open pollinated non hybrid cultivar of tomato)

22. Fresh wild berries (Self explanatory)
23. Foie gras (The liver of a duck that has been force fed/overstuffed)
24. Rice and beans (Self explanatory)
25. Brawn, or head cheese (cold, congealed meat from the head of an animal, usually cow)

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (the hottest pepper in the world)
27. Dulce de leche (a brown sauce made from sweetened milk akin to carmel)
28. Oysters (self explanatory)
29. Baklava (A predominantly Greek pastry made from honey, filo dough, and finely chopped nuts)
30. Bagna cauda (an Italian dip made with olive oil, garlic, butter, and anchovies. I am TOTALLY making this in the next couple of days...)
31. Wasabi peas (peas fried and coated with wasabi, a plant akin to horseradish)
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl (clam chowder: a cream based soup with clams and potatoes. Sourdough bowl: a bread bowl made from sourdough, a complex bread made in a two step process with a starter and ancillary part. I've had both, but separately)

33. Salted lassi (Indian drink made by blending yoghurt with water salt, pepper, ice, and spices [traditiaonally cumin] until frothy)
34. Sauerkraut (Finely shredded cabbage fermented by various lactic acid bacteria. Hello typical Czech accompaniment! Vyborne)
35. Root beer float (root beer soda with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it. I strongly dislike root beer)
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (self explanatory)
37. Clotted cream tea (clotted cream is made by heating unpasturized cows milk and then leaving it in a shallow pan for several hours until clots of fat from. It is served as part of "cream tea": on scones, with rasperry or strawberry jelly)
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O (jell-o or jelly made by substituting vodka for all or part of the cold water element)
39. Gumbo (a stew originating in Louisiana consisting of shellfish and/or meat, bell peppers, celery, onions, and a thickener)

40. Oxtail (self explanatory)
41. Curried goat (self explanatory)
42. Whole insects (self explanatory)
43. Phaal (The hottest indian curry available, made with scoth bonnet or habenero peppers)
44. Goat’s milk (Milk from a goat)
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (self explanatory)
46. Fugu (Japanese for Pufferfish, a fish that is lethally poisonous if not prepared correctly)
47. Chicken tikka masala (Chicken chunks in a curry sauce prepared with tomatoes)
48. Eel (self explanatory, I've only had eel sushi, but I think that counts)
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (self explanatory I think, but here)
50. Sea urchin (hopefully people know this. I'm looking forward to trying one day)
51. Prickly pear (The fruit of the opuntia cactus)
52. Umeboshi (pickled ume fruit, akin to prunes, I was not a fan)

53. Abalone (a sea snail)
54. Paneer (a type of indian cheese. Mild and white)
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (self explanatory. Never had one)
56. Spaetzle (a type of egg noodle / dumpling popular in Germany)

57. Dirty gin martini (an alcoholic drink made with vermouth, olive juice, and gin)
58. Beer above 8% ABV (Self explanatory)

59. Poutine (A Canadian/Belgian concoction of french fries smothered in gravy and cheese)

60. Carob chips (Chips made from a carob pod, often used instead of chocolate chips)
61. S’mores (A sandwich consisting of graham crackers, chocolate, and a toasted marshmallow)

62. Sweetbreads (thymus glands of lamb, beef, or pork)
63. Kaolin (A food additive. Sorry, I couldn't find more on this one! Help?)
64. Currywurst (A German dish consisting of pork sausages cut up and cooked in a sauce of ketchup or tomato paste and curry. Usually served as street food with a bread roll or french fries)
65. Durian (known as the "King of Fruits" an incredibly smelly fruit)
66. Frogs’ legs (self explanatory)
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake (Any sort of basic dough that has been fried and doused in sugar)
68. Haggis (traditionally sheeps heart cooked with onion, suet, spices and salt and boiled in the animals stomach for several hours. Looking forward to trying this eventually
69. Fried plantain (Plantain looks like a banana, but when green/yellow is bland and starchy and often used like a potato)
70. Chitterlings or andouillette (Fried intestines of pork)
71. Gazpacho (A cold soup made primarily from tomatoes)
72. Caviar and blini (Caviar: fish eggs Blini: plural of blintz, a thin pancake similar to a crepe)
73. Louche absinthe (Absinthe is an alcohol made from wormwood, which supposedly has hallucinatory properties)
74. Gjetost or brunost (A brown Norweigan Whey cheese that has a slight caramel taste. My roomates were Norweigian and brought some back. Lucky me)

75. Roadkill (Self explanatory)
76. Baijiu (A Chinese alcohol, usually between 40% - 60% ABV)
77. Hostess Fruit Pie (Picture instead)

78. Snail (Self explanatory, also known as escargots. Delicious)
79. Lapsang souchong (A black tea originally from the Wuyi region of the Chinese province of Fujian, allegedly with a smoky flavour)

80. Bellini (Champagne mixed with a sweetened puree of fruit, usually peaches)
81. Tom yum (A hot and sour soup from Thailand)
82. Eggs Benedict (Half an [American] English muffin covered with ham, a poached egg, and hollandaise sauce)
83. Pocky (A Japanese snack food consisting of a biscuit covered in chocolate)
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. (self explanatory)
85. Kobe beef (Beef from the black Tajima-ushi breed of Wagyu cattle raised according to strict Hyogo Prefecture tradition. Renowned for flavour, texture, and marbling)
86. Hare (Wild rabbit)
87. Goulash (A stew made from beef in a thick sauce flavoured primarily with sweet paprika)
88. Flowers (Self explanatory. Common eating flowers are violets and Zucchini flowers)
89. Horse (Horse meat. I had horse sausages. Incredibly good)
90. Criollo chocolate (Representing 5% of cocoa beans grown, Criollo is the rarest bean used in chocolate making)
91. Spam (a canned, precooked pork meat product)
92. Soft shell crab (A crab common to the Chesapeake bay area where shell and meat of the crab are eaten together)
93. Rose harissa (Harissa is a North African hot red sauce/paste made from smoked or dried chili peppers, garlic, and frequently containing coriander, caraway, cumin, and tomatoes. Rose Harissa is a version made with rose petals. I've had Harissa [very good, very spicy!!!] but never Rose Harissa...)

94. Catfish (a fish having barbels that make it look like a cat. Also very bony)
95. Mole poblano (Mole is a sauce prepared from dried chili peppers, seeds or nuts, and mexican chocolate. Mole Poblano specifically includes poblano peppers)
96. Bagel and lox (A bagel with smoked salmon)
97. Lobster Thermidor (A French dish consisting of a mixture of cooked lobster meat, egg yolks, brandy or sherry, stuffed into a lobster shell and served with an oven browned cheese crust. The accompanying sauce must contain mustard. HOW good does that sound?!? I must try)

98. Polenta (Boiling water/milk mixed with cornmeal into a paste that can be baked, fried, or eaten as is. Yum)
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee (a mild, un-bitter coffee grown in the Jamaican blue mountains and was the most expensive brand of coffee until the Bourbon pointu passed this mark)
100. Snake (Snake meat)

So my list is 59. That's not counting the chowder, blood pudding, and harissa, which I think I can safely say I've "tried". But, I'm being strict and following the list. However, there are some things that I never WANT to order, including:

(a) Hostess fruit pie (hello artificial...)
(b) Big Mac Meal (I've had a couple of bites of a big mac and obviously mcdonalds fries, and that would probably be near the bottom of my list of things to order at McDonalds
(c) Raw Scotch Bonnet chili pepper (I'd like to keep my tastebuds, thank you very much...)

Which goes hand in hand with:

(d) Phaal: I'd probably only have a bite or two of this
(e) PB & J: SO boring and I totally know what it tastes like, I've just never actually had it TOGETHER as a SANDWICH
(f) Root Beer Float: I really don't like root beer, and I've had a SIP of this, so I guess I can count it.
(g) I'd be ok trying haggis and sweet breads (I've already had a full portion of Calf's brains!) But the head cheese makes me a BIT squeamish...
(h) Crillo and Jamaican Blue Coffee: I hate paying excessive amounts of money for a product that just uses a unique variety of the same ingredient. If I were gifted these, or offered a taste from a friend, fine. But don't expect me to ever go out and buy these myself.

Any thoughts?

Monday, 1 December 2008

Ugh I have been SO SO bad about blogging and posting. I've been cooking so many things and moving from the old place to the new place has been freakishly stressful. Additionally, I've been having relationship problems, which makes me just want to escape somewhere (bed perhaps?) and shut out everything.

Finally, the body can't handle the stress, so it's finally closing down. I'm sniffly, exhausted and achy and I think I may have to call in sick tomorrow. I did a thanksgiving dinner yesterday! Ah it was so much fun! It was the first thanksgiving I had ever done on my own! I made Turkey the same way I had done Lucky the previous year. However, I don't think it was as good. I only had leg meat, but I liked it. It didn't get rave reviews though.

For stuffing, I made a chestnut mushroom stuffing (I LOVE chestnuts)
Here's the rest of the menu:

Arugula salad with beets, blue cheese, and candied walnuts
Brandied sweet potatoes in orange cups
Sauteed brussels sprouts with blue cheese and bacon
Sauteed corn with roasted red peppers
Creme de Cassis Cranberry Sauce
Cornbread (from a mix)
Pumpkin pie (I even did the crust by myself! No prepackaged betty crocker-ness for me!)

Ok all of that is way too much to post now, so I'll just do the stuffing.

3 cups (750 g) Roasted shelled chestnuts
2 stalks of celery
3 medium onions
1 heaping tablespoon herbes de provence
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 cup chicken broth
Bread crumbs

Sautee onions, mushrooms, and celery in a bit of butter or oil. Add the chestnuts and herbes with lots of salt and pepper. Sautee until most of the liquid has released from the mushrooms and has evaporated. Put it in a small square baking dish and pour the broth in. SPrinkle bread crumbs over, and bake at 350 F (150 c) for about 50-60 minutes.

Maybe I'll put another recipe up because that one was fairly simple and I still have some writing left in me...

Sweet Potatoes in Orange Cups

6 oranges
4 average sized sweet potatoes
1/2 cup (125 ml) brandy
3-4 tablespoons maple syrup
dash of orange juice
pinch salt
mini marshmallows

Put the sweet potatoes in an oven at 200 C (450 F) for about 40 minutes to an hour (until easily pierced with a knife)
Halve each orange, and run a knife around the edge of the orange meat. Scoop out all the meat from the oranges and reserve for whatever you may want it for. Do this over a bowl, by the way, so that you can catch the juices.
Once the potatoes are done, peel, cut them into chunks and put them into a saucepan. Add the brandy, dash of orange juice, and maple syrup, and puree with an immersion blender. Simmer on low heat for a bit to burn off some of the alcohol.
Spoon the puree into the orange cups and bake at 350 F (150 C) for about 20 minutes. Top with mini marshmallows immediately after removing from the oven.

Anyway. I'm going to Boston soon for Christmas and I'm really excited. I love living here, I never would want to be anywhere else. When I first moved here though, I had no obligations, no one knew me, and I could basically do whatever I wanted. Now however, I have all these obligations, things to do, and while they're stupid things (i.e., take the cat to the vet) It still gets stressful and is a bigger difference than when I first moved here.
This is not helped by the fact that I have a boyfriend who is INCREDIBLY unhelpful in these day to day operations. He sleeps until he has to wake up for work, which means he sleeps through the entire daylight / getting things done period. This means that I then have to leave work and run around and do stuff that I wouldn't HAVE to do if I had simple help. Gah.
My big "to-do" items currently are making sure that I go to the bank to authorise Prazske Elektrina to withdraw money for the gas bill, order cable/tv, take the cat to the vet in anticipation of our Boston trip, and finish moving things out of my old flat (should have been done a LONG time ago, but again, SOMEONE kept me occupied in bratty ways and didn't even THINK of helping) I just can't wait to have it all done.

My crazed cooking look.

You can see the corn and the prepped brussels sprouts and the sweet potatoes in the mini oven.

Not so Lucky the turkey. Apparently he needed more salt(!)

Thursday, 6 November 2008


In a kind attempt to help me get rid of food in my fridge before I more, some friends came over yesterday. I decided to use up some leftover tortillas that I had and make quesadilas! But what to fill them with? I had 2 ideas, that were as far apart from each other cuisine wise as possible. But, I made both, and both were delicious. No pictures (BAD Katka, BAD) again. Sorry. :-( they disappeared too quickly!!!

Pumpkin Quesadilas
250 g mashed pumpkin
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
300 g red kidney beans
2 tsp cumin
generous pinch salt and pepper
chopped bell pepper
100 g chopped fresh coriander
2 large flour tortillas
shredded cheese (cheddar or equivalent) (about 250 g)

Stir the pumpkin and beans together in a skillet til the pumpkin loses some of it's water content. add the garlic and onion and spices
Remove from heat

In a large nonstick skillet, lay a tortilla flat. Spread half with half the pumpkin bean mixture, sprinkle pepper and coriander on that, then cheese on top of that.
Fold the tortilla in half.
Flip the quesadila when the first side is toasted brown.
When the other side is toasted brown, remove from heat and cut into wedges

Pear and Spinach Quesadila
1 large clove garlic thinly sliced
300 g loosely packed spinach
1 pear, halved and cut into thin slices
Herbes de provence
salt and pepper
about 250 g smoked cheese
Chopped hazlenuts

Fry the thinly sliced garlic until light brown and crunchy.
Remove from heat
In a large nonstick skillet, lay a tortilla flat. Spread half with half the spinach.
Sprinkle generous pinches salt, pepper and herbes de provence on that, (used about 1-2 tsp of each) then sprinkle cheese on top of that.
Fold the tortilla in half.
Flip the quesadila when the first side is toasted brown.
When the other side is toasted brown, remove from heat and cut into wedges

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


So I've been dealing with a lot of personal stress recently. I just got a mortgage but it's so incredibly complicated due to the fact that there are two names on the mortgage, one income is here, the other is in America. It's opened a can of worms that I really wish hadn't been opened. I have been cooking, but I've been terrible with pictures and lazy with blogging. So here's an update.

My boyfriend and I decided to make Romanian stuffed peppers on Saturday. It was delicious! We were a bit like tweedle dumb and tweedle dumber though. My mom used to make stuffed peppers, and I always thought she baked them (covered) . Also, we knew it had a tomato based sauce, but we weren't exactly sure if the sauce should be cooked separate from the meat. What we produced was lovely, but I don't think it was done the "traditional" way! But, for your culinary enjoyment, here is Petr and I's Romanian stuffed pepper recipe.

Stuffed Peppers
4 bell peppers, top cut off, deseeded and deveined as best possible.
3/4 lb (200 g) ground meat
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
2/3 c (150 g) cooked rice (very soft)
1 chopped tomato
1 tablespoon summer savory (or a mix of thyme, rosemary, and cumin)
1 tablespoon salt or podravka
generous pinch black pepper
4 heaping tablespoons (1 small can) Tomato paste
1 cup (250 g) water

Now, here is the first error. You're supposed to steam the peppers first to make them softer, but we didn't do this. Oops. It was still good. If you want to do it traditionally, steam the peppers first for about 10 minutes to soften.

Fry the onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and spices until they are light brown and aromatic
Add the beef and break up into small pieces.
Add the tomato paste and water
Simmer several minutes
Add in the cooked rice and let cook another 10 minutes. If it seems too dry, add more water.

Now here is what we did:
Over a small baking pan, hold a seive. Pour the meat and rice mixture into the seive and stir gently to seperate the tomato sauce from the meat and rice.
Stuff the peppers from the meat and rice remaining in the seive.
Place the peppers in the baking pan, cover with foil, and bake about 30 minutes (45 to an hour for softer peppers)

Serve with mamaliga (polenta)

Is that all? Oh no, readers. I havent been JUST cooking stuffed peppers! I made pumpkin butter last night adapted from a recipe I found on Martha Stewarts website. It was good, but I used only brown sugar (no white) so it's not as sweet as some might expect. Additionally, the brown sugar turned it a quite ugly shade of brown. However, the result is an aromatic, not too sweet butter that would go well with sweet and savory dishes.

Pumpkin Butter
250 g (1 cup) pureed pumpkin
50 g (bit less than 1/4 cup) packed dark brown sugar
6 whole cloves
5 allspice berries
teaspoon nutmeg
teaspoon cinamon
teaspoon ground ginger

Grind the cloves and allspice berries in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Add this and all other ingredients into a small saucepan. On low heat, stir until the mixture becomes thick and "buttery" a bit like gnutella or frosting, perhaps....
Spoon into a container and refrigerate.

Yes, it's that easy. It makes the house smell HEAVENLY too.

I also made a winter vegetable stew that I will write about a bit later. I'm doing a bit of a recipe overload today! I have one more, which I will NEVER EVER EVER recommend doing. Why am I putting it here? Because despite all the time, it was REALLY good. The only reason I cooked it for so long was because I had a glass (or 3) of wine and not much else to do (my boyfriend was going shopping) Additionally, I had promised him risotto, but the only rice I had was brown (believe me, I smacked my forehead even before I opened my mouth. I knew what I was getting myself into)

Southwestern Style Brown rice Risotto

1 medium onion diced
2 large cloves of garlic minced
1 small jalepeno pepper minced
1 tbs of butter
150 g (2/3 c) brown rice
1 chopped tomato
1 small red pepper diced
50 g (1/4 cup) cubed cooked chicken
50 g (1/4 c) packed chopped coriander
half a carrot, diced
60 g (1/4 c) cheese (I used Zlata Praha, which is a bit like Eidam but a little sharper. Colby or mild cheddar might be a good alternative)
1 tbs salt
1 tsp black pepper
I don't even know how much (I think about 2.5 litres...) chicken stock / water (I used water after my litre of chicken stock ran out)

You know the drill.
Saute onion, jalepeno and garlic in butter
Stirr in rice and toast a bit
Add carrot
Add broth. Stir until absorbed.
More broth. Stir til absorbtion.
More. Stir.
Test it as you go to see how soft the rice is.
Mine took about TWO HOURS of pouring and stirring.
When I noticed it was getting to the right consistency, I just threw all the other ingredients in with a bit more water and stirred it until I smelled the aroma of the peppers.

How nice to finally give my arm a break! Yes, it will be an ugly brown color, but it is GOOD and CREAMY. At the end of cooking, the last thing I wanted to worry about (obviously) was to take a picture. You'll just have to imagine the delicious mess yourself (Or try to make it at home!) I'd say I'd do it again, but I probably wont. How I wish it didn't take so much time to make...

Friday, 31 October 2008

More leftover chicken

I actually made this recipe the day we got back from Romania, but was too tired/zonked to post it.

As an update on my earlier post, I finally figured out what the mystery spice is! In Romanian it's called "cimbra" and in English it's Summer Savory (I had guessed from it's thyme-y smell it might be summer or winter savory, but wasn't completely sure) Now my task will be to find it here in the Czech Republic once the supply that my boyfriend's grandmother gave me runs out. After researching, it appears the Czech name for it is "Saturejka" so I will just have to hit up all the spice stores I know of and see what they can do for me. At least it has a Czech name!

So (again terrible with taking pictures!) I made this the night we came back. I was tired and didn't want to cook much, and my boyfriend's grandmother had sent us home with peppers, tomatoes, and leftover cooked chicken. I had some potatoes and cheese languishing in the house that demanded to be used promptly, so I created the following dish. Also, after having been fed non-stop for 4 days, I tried to lighten it up a bit (you'll notice there is no cream or milk in the mashed potatoes)

Chicken, Tomato, and Pepper Ragu with Cheese mashed potatoes

Mashed Potatoes
5 medium potatoes
1/4 c (60 g) firmly packed grated soft cheese (I used "excellent" syr, which is akin to a mild cheddar or gouda)
1 tbs butter
Potato cooking water
2 small cloves garlic
salt and pepper

Chicken Ragu
3 cooked thigh and/or breast pieces of chicken, shredded
2 medium tomatoes diced
1 small pepper (I used one of those white ones I've blogged about earlier)
1 medium onion
3 garlic cloves minced finely
2 tbs tomato paste
1 cup (250 g) water or broth
2 heaping tablespoons poultry seasoning (I used "grill" seasoning)
1 tsp marjoram
1 level tablespoon podravka (use salt if you don't have it)
2 tbs flour dissolved in some hot water

Scrub potatoes well and cook in boiling water until soft

While potatoes cook, shred chicken, chop vegetables
saute onion, garlic, and pepper in a bit of oil in a non stick pan
add seasoning and marjoram and stir for a bit til fragrant
add remaining ingredients.
Give a stir, and simmer on low heat for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occaisionally.

While ragu is simmering, peel potatoes, add cheese, garlic, butter, several ladles of the potato water, salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher or whip with a handheld whipper.

It's best to do the potatoes while they're still warm and right before you serve the ragu. Once the potatoes start to cool, the cheese may get a bit gummy. You can fix this by popping it in the microwave on low-medium heat for about a minute and then stirring again.

Ladle ragu next to or on the mashed potatoes.


Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Back from Romania

So I just got back from Romania yesterday. What a great trip with some great food! I'll do a run through of some of the dishes I had that were particularly yummy:

Papanache: This was a dessert. It's like a donut. You take dough, fill it with some sweet cheese (ricotta, farmers cheese) then pop a hole out, fry it, and drench the whole thing in berry sauce and sour cream (creme fraiche)

Sarmale: I can't wait to try to make this. You start with cabbage (kale) leaves that have been soaked in water and salt in a warm place for several days. Then you fill the soft leaves with a mix of ground meat, rice, salt, pepper, garlic, onions, and a spice that I am still trying to figure out the Czech or English word for. Haha. Sorry, vacation makes my mind a little less sharp. Anyway, you take these filled leaves and bake it in a bit of the cabbage water, some tomato paste, and a bit more of the spice. Yum.
Mamelige: This is essentially polenta. But so good. Romanians serve it instead of potatoes or dumplings, and it's just delicious!! I had it the last night with sour cream and brynza (akin to Feta, but a bit more salty)

I have more pumpkin!!! I'm not sure what to do wiith it. The cookies were a huge hit with my boyfriend, so I may make some more. I haven't made pumpkin pie though...I do have canned pumpkin though, so I may make one for thanksgiving. I think tonight I may either roast some or make a soup. Curried pumpkin soup. Yum. Off to look for recipes!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Mushy bananas

I love bananas. In all their stages of ripeness (well, maybe not the green ones...flavor is a bit weak)

I had two bananas that were ripening away, and yesterday I had to do something with them (the skin was almost black, and I'm leaving on a trip tomorrow morning. I would hate to think what they would look like when I got back) I don't have a loaf pan or a muffin tin, so I thought of doing banana cookies, brownies, or bars.

While searching through the cupboard, I found a package of oats that had been sitting there FOREVER. Eager to use two goodies that had been languishing away in my flat, I decided to go for bars, also excited because I had never made them before, and assumed they would be good for my future travels. I found a recipe on for banana oatmeal bars with chocolate chunks After reading the reviews, I garnered from the recipe that

a) there was too much sugar
b) it was too cakey.

Modification time! Also, I always need to halve recipes because I don't bake in a regular oven: I bake in a toaster oven, which means I can only use a small baking pan. I think the above recipe also calls for nuts, which I leave out for my boyfriend, because his jaw was broken and he is still quite sensitive to hard, crunchy items.

SO, for my bars. The full recipe calls for 2 bananas. I actually had 2, very overripe bananas. I wanted to use them both. When I was vegan, many recipes that I used said that overripe bananas could be used instead of an egg. I kept this in mind and decided that if the batter was too thick, I would add the egg. If not, then I would leave it out.

For oversweetness, I noticed many reviewers cut the sugar in half and it was fine. So I did the same, and used more brown sugar instead of white.

To correct for the cake-yness, (I wanted a more hearty, sturdy bar) I switched the amounts of oats and flour, and also used whole wheat flour. So there I was, mixing away, following the directions, and I added the dry ingredients. It still appeared (to me) very wet. Not bar like at all. More oats. Still wet. More oats. Still wet. More oats....getting better! I wish I remembered how much oats I used. The amount in the recipe below is my best guess, but I would suggest adding the oats until the batter gets quite sticky and sticks to the beaters a bit more than cookie dough. Even after baking them, I turned them out and the bottom was still quite (cake-y) soft. I will not be afraid to bring on the oats next time!!!

I've been really bad with pictures recently, I promise I'll get better! I just never thought of taking pictures of my food...

Banana Oatmeal Bars with Chocolate Chunks

1/2 cup (125 g) all purpose flour
1 cup (250 g) quick-cooking oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (125 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (60 g) sugar
1/2 cup (125 g) packed golden brown sugar
2 large mashed ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 c (100 g) semi sweet chocolate chopped into chunks

Preheat oven to 325°F (170 C). Butter and flour 8x8-inch (sorry, don't know the centimetres on this one...) baking sheet. Blend first 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until well blended. Beat in bananas, then vanilla. Stir in flour and oat mixture, then chocolate.

Spread batter in prepared pan. I always bake uncovered the first 15 minutes and then cover with foil (this allows for the item to bake evenly and not get the top burned, which I believe is a result of the small size of my toaster oven) Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean and top is golden, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on rack. Cut into bars and serve.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Officially a snob

Yesterday afternoon I had pumpkin gnocchi again.

I warmed up the gnocchi in a tupperware container on low microwave heat. While I did this, I I browned some goat butter on the stove and threw in some dried sage, salt and pepper. When the gnocchi dinged, I poured the butter over, and finished with some grated aged goat cheese (akin to Parmesan in consistency)

Cow's milk products, I fear, are just too plebeian for me.

I looked like QUITE the gourmand, eating my lovely gnocchi, awash in expensive goats milk products.....out of a tupperware container. :-)

Monday I made pumpkin cookies! I took a food network recipe and halved it, but essentially followed it to the letter. I think I added a bit more pumpkin than was called for though, which left me with a very soft batter. Also, in attempt to keep the cookies healthy-ISH, I used light cream cheese and whole wheat flour. I like what the whole wheat flour did actually: it left a lovely, nutty taste.

I love soft cookies, and I've actually figured out a couple of tricks to make them softer:

1) replace half the white sugar with packed dark brown
2) chill the dough in the refrigerator before spooning onto the baking sheet
3) take them out before you see brown on the edges (though for the pumpkin cookies, this was the sign that they were done...)
4) Rotate, rotate, rotate that baking sheet! At least halfway through cooking.

I will add a picture later, but for now, here is the recipe. Also, for excellent shaped cookies, roll the chilled dough into balls between your palms before placing on baking sheet. Do it quick though or it'll start melting on you....

Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 (125 g) cup sugar
1 stick (125 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon Maple syrup
1 egg
3/4 cup (175 g) canned pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
1 cup (250 g) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt

1 (8-ounce) (125 g) package softened light cream cheese
1/2 cup (125 g) confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixer, fitted with a paddle, cream the sugar and the butter until light and fluffy. Add the maple syrup and eggs. Mix to incorporate. Add the pumpkin and mix to incorporate. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix well. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown around the edges. Cool on racks. When cool, ice with the cream cheese frosting.

For the Frosting: In a mixer, fitted with a paddle, add the cream cheese. Beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the powdered sugar until smooth. Add vanilla. Beat until smooth. If frosting is too thick, thin with a little milk. Fold in the lemon zest. When cookies are cool spread with some of the frosting. Garnish with a pecan or raisin if desired.

Monday, 20 October 2008

True to my word...

I've spent the weekend with pumpkin. I cooked down the rest of the meat Saturday. The way I did it this time was to just spread it out in a baking dish and bake it at 350 F (175 C) for about an hour and a half. I periodically stirred it and also carefully drained any released water out. The only sad part is that I really don't have a lot of total meat. I'd say the entire 6 kilo pumpkin yielded only about 640 g of puree. Sad!!

So as I mentioned Friday, I wanted to make pumpkin burgers. I actually followed the recipe pretty closely until it came to breadcrumbs/wheat germ. Instead of that, I used 1 cup of ground hazelnuts. I also used 2 tbs chopped coriander instead of the parsley. For some reason, parsley in a "southwestern" dish seems wrong. It's always coriander!! Also, I ended up using about 3/4 to 1 cup of pumpkin because I kept smelling the mixture and deciding it wasn't "pumpkin-y" enough. The only problem with adding more pumpkin though was that the mixture was decidedly more moist than it should have been. I ended up forming the mixture into patties, and baking the burgers on parchment paper for about an hour at 375 F (180 C) and flipping them halfway through. So they were GREAT with my homemade guacamole and salsa. My friend brought a gorgeous baguette and we had a veritable feast. I was unfortunately so excited, that I didn't take ANY pictures, and even though I promised my boyfriend I would save him a burger...they were so good that none were available for consumption by the time the night was over.

Last night I made more guacamole, more onion and garlic jam, and pumpkin gnocci. This was almost ridiculously easy.

Pumpkin Gnocchi

125 ml pureed packed pumpkin
50 ml whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of pepper.

Mix all ingredients together. Mine looked like this:

Here it gets interesting: At this point, the dough is not dry enough to roll out and cut into little squares. However, I REALLY wanted the taste of the pumpkin to shine through, and not have the flour be the star.

I had been watching Jaimie Oliver a couple of weekends ago and he had made edamame dumplings (I totally cannot find the recipe online!!!!). The way he formed them was interesting and looked easy, so I tried it with this dough. Absolutely perfect!!! You take two spoons, and spoon a bit of dough into one. Then you use the other to scoop it off, and between the two you keep scooping until a dumpling shape is formed. Very easy, here's a picture for the visual learners out there:
After this, I placed them on a baking sheet. I used the tines of a fork to make the classic gnocchi-esque grooves, but I don't think they're incredibly necessary.
After that, you just drop them in boiling salted water, and wait a couple of minutes until they rise to the top and start bouncing around. Remove with slotted spoon...

I had some last night with some smoked ricotta and sprinkled some dried sage and toasted hazelnuts on it. I think the ricotta overwhelmed it though. Today I would probably just have it with some browned goats butter, sage, and the hazenuts. Or even by themselves! They are QUITE yummy.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Pumpkin on my mind

I LOVE Fall. It's such a great season. The weather turns a bit nippy, the leaves are beautiful, all the crops have been harvested, beer gets brewed, wine gets made (mmmmm, burčak...) Anyway, I have a tradition (aka, ever since I moved here, so 2 years) that I buy a pumpkin and carve it. For some reason, I always end up going to buy the pumpkin alone. This doesn't make me sad, I actually don't mind it. It's kind of fun to go and ponder over the pumpkins at Tesco (29 crowns (~$1.75) a kilo, by the way. Total steal) Then I pick one, and take it to the check out. The cashier woman/man inevitably always says something like, "Awwww, what a pretty pumpkin!" or "Oh my goodness that's huge! How will you take it home?" Very cute.
So I bought my pumpkin last Sunday, with the intent on hollowing it out soon after. Well, I got a bit lazy and it was only yesterday that I worked on it. Pumpkins are pretty easy to hollow out. You just cut off the top, pull it out, empty all the seeds, and then scoop out the meat with an ice cream scoop. It's a bit time consuming and messy, but fun!!! While I scooped out the pumpkin, I made toasted pumpkin seeds. VERY easy:

Toasted pumpkin seeds:
Pumpkin seeds

Chicken/grill/any sort of seasoning


Spread the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet
Sprinkle seasonings and salt LIBERALLY all over
Bake at 350 about 10 minutes.
Take them out, give them a stir, spread them out again, and put them back in the oven.

Bake another 10-15 minutes until light brown.

That's them on the lower right.

As you can see, I had a MASSIVE bowl of pumpkin meat. All this needs to be cooked down into pumpkin puree. I plan on making cookies, pie, gnocchi, and tonight....Pumpkin Burgers! I found the recipe on but I think I already know how I'm going to change it.

So to cook down pumpkin, just take all that meat, put it in a wide saucepan, and cook at medium high heat for about 30 minutes. Basically all the water has to evaporate out of it, which you will see happen.

The only sad thing is that you don't get much puree from the pumpkin meat. I just got this much (about 200 grams) from about 700 grams of meat:
Anyway, I'm excited for Pumpkin burgers tonight! Pumpkin gnocchi this weekend.... :-)

Thursday, 16 October 2008


So, I didn't have much to do at work today so I took a little longer lunch than usual. I went to the outdoor market on Havelska, which, as I've blogged about before, has GREAT deals on fruit and veg during the week.
I bought a bunch of coriander, a head of iceberg lettuce, about 5 tomatoes, and 2 small white peppers for 32 crowns ($1.80, about)

On a side note, a lot of Czech supermarkets/markets sell these white peppers that look like this I'm never quite sure what to do with them. They're very mild, but I feel like there must be something better to do with them than just slice them up for salads. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to comment.

I had some avocadoes that I bought over the weekend (sale at Tesco!) so I decided to make guacamole. I would have used all 4 avocados, but 2 were not ripe enough. Even one of the ones I used in the guacamole was bordering on unripe. Every time I make guacamole I fall in love with it all over again. I have no idea why I don't make it more often! I think the main reason is that my hands get so goopy and messy from all the chopping that it puts me off slightly. Anyway, I made the guacamole, and then threw some salad leaves in the mixing bowl after I had transfered the finished product to its own container. Delicious.


2 avocadoes, chopped
1/2 an onion, chopped finely
3 large or 4 medium garlic cloves, minced and mashed with 2 tsp of salt
1/2 tomato, deseeded and chopped finely
4 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
juice from 1/4 of a lime
1 tsp pepper
dash hotsauce, or 1 tsp minced jalepeno

If the avocadoes are very soft, just mush it all together. If you like chunky guacamole, mush half of the ingredients together and then stir in the rest. If the avocadoes are not very soft, use an immersion blender or food processor to get your desired consistency.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Imitation is the sincerest form of...chutney

I am a bargain hunter when I go grocery shopping. I often buy the vegetables and cheese that have been marked down because they are ABOUT to turn (or have possibly started already, as is sometimes the case with the vegetables) I do this because it MAKES you think of ways to cook/use a food. I sometimes also buy lots of things that have been marked down because they're sold in bulk. This offers another unique challenge: how can I make ____ into different, interesting, appetizing recipes before it goes bad?
I recently bought a bunch of garlic heads. Of course they were on sale. After pondering what to do with them, I remembered that my friend, VelkyAl, had made a roasted garlic and onion jam. I love garlic, I love onions, so....ding!

I was sitting at home yesterday, actually eating his delicious chilli chutney on vanočka with some cheese, and decided to get up and do it.

He also made it with beer, and I happen to have quite a bit of Burčak at my house. I love it, but don't want it to go bad (starts smelling like feet) so I thought I'd use that as a substitute for the beer. Also, it's a sweet drink, so that could take care of the sweetness!

First of all, I hate roasting garlic. The usual method, where you cut off the top of the bulb, bake it, then squeeze the cloves out is SO wasteful. You lose out on LOTS of the garlic and the resulting output is messy and ugly. So I took a few suggestions (mainly from VelkyAl) and did it another way.

take apart the bulb, throwing away as much of the papery covering as you can without exposing the cloves. Wrap the cloves up in foil. Bake at 350 F (170 C) for about 50 minutes. After that, you can pretty easily peel them and end up with gorgeous, golden cloves.

Now, I didn't really want a jam so much as I wanted something a bit more spicy/salty, so I followed the recipe albeit with a few modifications.

Garlic Onion Jam/Chutney

2 heads roasted garlic
4 largish onions peeled and chopped
2 tbs butter
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
3 tbs sugar (Note: I used splenda because I have way too much of it and need to get rid of it. No discernible difference)

1/4 c (125 ml) burčak (or other alcoholic beverage!!)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Saute the onions in the butter on low heat until they are soft making sure they don't stick to the bottom. (LOTS of stirring. My arm still hurts)
add in ALL the other ingredients. Simmer and stir on low heat til it gets to jammy consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings if so desired.

Put into storage container of some sort.

It IS simple, but it's just a bit time consuming watching and stirring all the time.

Next time I think I want to make it a bit more indian: throw in some garam masala, etc. I may also try doing it again with raw garlic. Though the roasted does add a lovely mellowness.

Here's a picture: doesn't look highly appetizing, but tastes YUM.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Sweet remix

I look up a LOT of recipes online. I never claim a recipe to be my own unless I completely create it myself. There will be times, however, where I use the ratios in a recipe, and create something entirely new. Other times, I will take a recipe and make substitutions or shortcuts until I have to concede that the recipe is completely dissimilar to the original.
I had a lovely weekend with my boyfriend. We went to a castle, where we took a tour, and were lucky enough to browse around a medieval faire that just happened to be going on that weekend. We went to a gorgeous restaurant where he ordered rabbit, I had boar, and we each had a drink, and the whole thing cost 240 crowns (about 12 US dollars) My boar was cooked in natural juices with a bit of oil, and two kinds of sauerkraut and two kinds of dumplings. My boyfriend's rabbit was served in a carrot cream sauce with bread dumplings. Both were delicious, both were incredible value for what they were!
Anyway, my big disappointment of the day was that the brewery attached to the castle was under reconstruction. To be finished in 2011. That would be TWO THOUSAND ELEVEN!!!!
I told my boyfriend: "That's it. We're waiting here til it's done"
"Ok" He lovingly conceded.
While I am obviously back at home, I was incredibly disappointed. So I decided to forget my unhappiness by baking brownies for my ever understanding boyfriend. It was when I was baking, that I realised the original recipe had been so far modified by me, it wasn't the original anymore.
So here is MY fudgy brownie recipe.

10.5 oz (300 g) bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup (125 g) butter

2 eggs
1/2 cup (125 g) packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (125 g) white sugar
1 tbs vanilla
1 tbs brewed black tea or instant coffee if desired
1/2 cup (125 g) flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3.5 oz (100 g) chopped bittersweet chocolate

Take the 300 g chocolate and 125 g butter and melt together. Gently.
while that is going, beat together the eggs and the sugars and the vanilla and the coffee or tea if you want (I never add the coffee/tea: too lazy) Do this rather by hand. If you use a beater, the eggs may get to thick and frothy.
Slowly add the chocolate butter melted mixture, making sure it's not to hot: it will cook the eggs if it is.
Add the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt)
Stir in the chopped bittersweet chocolate.

Pour into a buttered 8x8 inch pan. I use a 10 cm by 15 cm pan.
bake uncovered in a 350 F (170 c) oven for 15 minutes. Cover with foil, rotate the pan 180 degrees, and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven when toothpic inserted comes out almost clean. Let cool. Turn out. Cut into pieces.


Friday, 10 October 2008

Lucky's Leftovers

I would have liked to post this yesterday, but I was fasting, so I didn't exactly want to think about food whilst my stomach was growling on empty.
Yom Kippur is the Jewish day of atonement. Now, I personally believe in some higher force, power or being. I don't know if I necessarily identify Judaism or Christianity or Islamism with this force. Having been brought up as Jewish, I obviously know much more about that religion than others. However, growing older has introduced doubt and confusion into my mind about Judaism. First of all, I don't believe in half-assing things. My dad decided to behave more or less like an Orthodox, so I learned then EXACTLY what you SHOULD do if you're orthodox. As much as I don't like to admit it, I like and appreciate the orthodox way of worship a lot more than reform or conservative (minus the separating women part, that should NEVER be done!!!)
Me, the oftentimes abrasive and solitary creature that I am, have great respect for the individual praying that is more or less the hallmark of Orthodox worship. Yes, the rabbi/cantor oftentimes says something that the congregation has an answer to, but most of the time it is a hum of individual prayer. I like this, but I can't do it because I absolutely suck at reading hebrew. It takes me about 10 minutes to read one sentence, and even then I butcher it. So I can't read hebrew, and thus feel excluded when I go to Orthodox services. I also can't identify with some of their rules: Cut your hair off when you get married, no touching the opposite sex, covered collarbones, etc. etc. The funny thing is, I went to a temple where this was the norm, so now, I'm literally AFRAID to shake hands with any Jewish man I'm introduced to because I don't know if they are Shomer Negiyah or not. Lots of internal stress bubbles for me.
I went to conservative services on Wednesday night where they DONT have these stipulations, but it was still awkward. I STILL felt like I shouldn't shake hands. I hated how all these fat Americans walked in and then left after the first prayer. For many reform/conservatives, Judaism isn't about the spiritual or religious aspect, it's a cultural thing (much like christmas)
For some reason, I just get annoyed and angry at people like this EVEN THOUGH I AM ONE OF THEM! So to end the annoyance and anger, I try to avoid services.
I DO like the concept of Yom Kippur though. You fast for the day to atone for your sins. You think about all the people you have wronged and ask them for forgiveness. On an empty stomach, this is truly a humbling day. In a good way. To end it, you break the fast with...FOOD! So I decided to make a really quick open faced quesadila that I had prepped the night before with inspiration from Sara and Lucky the turkey's Leftovers.

Open face quesadila (or mexican pizza)

about 1.5 cups (300 g) cooked turkey or chicken meat
1 medium-large onion
1 small red bell pepper
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1 heaping tablespoon mexican seasoning
3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

Heat some oil in a pan. Saute garlic, onions, and pepper until slightly softened. Stir in tomatoes, meat, and seasonings. Simmer about 5 minutes. Stir in coriander.

For quesadila/Pizza:

Pita bread halved (so you have 2 circles)

Put halves on baking sheet.
Put turkey mixture on halves.
Put cheese on turkey mixture.
Bake at 170 C (350 F) for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan or hot pepper flakes if you feel so inclined. Serve with sour cream and salsa if you feel so inclined.

Note: this makes about 3 pizza/quesedilas, so you will probably have an extra half for something else.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Hidden Treasures

I recently took some friends on a shopping excursion around Prague. Many people gently complain that you can't find ANY exotic food in Prague. I beg to differ, and I believe that you can find some great groceries in Prague for decent prices. You just need to know where to look. So here is my list of never fail grocery go-to's.

Asian Food Shop
Gorazdova 3, Nove Mesto
(Tram Stop Palackeho Namesti)

This large place has anything and everything Asian. Sauces including soy, fish, hoisin. Vinegars, fresh tofu, frozen shrimp, frozen dim sum, MASSIVE bags of rice, even black rice! Why I go here? In a little fridge in one of the rooms they have little bags of bean sprouts. Delicious on salads, for only 20 crowns. Total bargain.

Arabian Food Shop (Farah)
Myslikova 5, Nove Mesto

This not so large place has a great variety nonetheless. Consistently carries lamb. Large vats of spices, beans, etc. They make fresh harissa, baklava, and have olives galore. Tahini, garbanzo beans, baba ghanoush, roasted corn, rose water, orange water, halva...the list goes on and on. Why do I come here? Cheap garbanzo beans and tahini to make my own hummus, and yummy pita (white AND whole wheat!)

Happy Bo Ling Groceries (seriously)
Belehradska 81, Vinohrady
(Tram stop I.P. Pavlova)

This place inevitably ALWAYS has a good deal on SOMETHING. They had figs for 9 crowns a piece one time, salad for 3 crowns a head, etc. etc. One of the best parts about them is that their grocery section is open from 7 to 23 EVERY DAY. They have an astonishingly comprehensive variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as frozen shrimp, fish, etc. Vats of chinese chip mix, banana chips, dried cranberries, nuts, etc. This place will ALWAYS have very large sweet potatoes as well as squash. I also come here for the certainty that they carry large bags of fresh coriander (cilantro) basil, mint, parsley, etc. Herbs are a bit expensive at 49 crowns, but they're always clean and fresh.

Olympia Greek Groceries
Radhostska 3,
(Tram stop Radhostska)

REALLY friendly place. They have about 30 different kinds of feta, and make their own greek yogurt, eggplant spread, tzatziki, baklava, and all these different, interesting salads. A decent assortment of cheeses too: I recently got a smoked ricotta that was absolutely indescribably good. Also great greek spices that you can give as gifts along with greek wines. Why do I go here? The yogurt really. It's just so thick and good. How can you say no? The owner even gave me a goats milk yogurt to try (for free!) last time I was there.

International Food Shop (Diana Svet Orisky)
Belehradska 87, Vinohrady
(Tram Stop I.P. Pavlova)

This place has EVERY single kind of dried fruit or nut that you could want. Seriously. They also have chocolate coated, yogurt coated, carob coated, DIA chocolate coated yummies, as well as a wide variety of caramels. Good spice and loose tea assortment too. Why do I come here? My sister LOVES "Prazene mandle" (almonds cooked slowly with sugar so they devlop a sugary crust and are DELICIOUS hot). This place not only has almonds, but they have sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and hazelnuts done in the same way. No fail. Every day. 32 crowns for 50 grams. Not bad!

U Zavoje
Havelska 25, Stare Mesto


You WILL miss this place if you're not careful. It's actually down a little passage that looks like the entrance to a restaurant, but just look for the gorgeous yellow circle that says "syr" (cheese) and you'll be there. This place probably has the absolute hands down BEST assortment of cheese in Prague. The lady there is no nonesense, but speaks very good english and will usually let you sample all sorts of goodies. They have sheep, cow, and goat milk cheeses there. They even have a price list of all the cheeses they have in case you want to check it out. A tasting event goes on every Tuesday as well. My favorite? Small black tome, and raclette.

Havelske Trh,
Havelska, Stare mesto

This open air market is only good during the week. You have to get there around 2 or 3, because the vendors are leaving soon, and they're marking down all their products. On Fridays, this ESPECIALLY happens. I have snagged massive bunches of coriander (cilantro), mint, basil and the like for TEN CROWNS a bunch. They will also mark down peppers, tomatoes, cucmbers, pears, and apples. The mean price per kilo for these? about 12 crowns. It's so cheap. So good. But you really have to go at the right time. Don't even try on the weekends, it's a total rip off.