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(!)