Thursday, September 8, 2016

Russian Tea Cookies


These Russian Tea Cookies also known as "maslenki" in the eastern block, might be the easiest and just about the most delisious cookies you will ever make. Some may know them as butter cookies, due to the large amounts of butter that goes into them. Only 6 ingredients. Just mix it all to make the dough. Form little balls and bake 10 - 12 min. Oh, how I LOVE them! The perfect combination of walnuts and butter. They make your whole house smell Devine. Great cookies for the fall and winter! YUM! 

Makes about 30 cookies 

Ingredients: 

1cup - salted butter (2 sticks)
2cups - flour 
1/4tsp - salt 
1tsp - vanilla extract 
3/4cup - finely chopped walnuts 

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 400 F. Mix together all ingredients and roll into 1 inch balls. Bake cookies 10 - 12 minutes. Transfer into a different cookie sheet and let them cool off completely. Roll cookies in powdered sugar. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Cuban Pork


I hear cuban food is to die for in Florida.  But this recipe was an inspiration from a Cuban restaurant we like to visit in New York. The food is to die for, the live music and atmosphere...we just always have a wonderful experience there. This recipe is very easy but it takes some planning. The flavors are dead on. The Mojo sauce is a must. This fall off the bone pork is so so good! A perfect meal for the whole family. 

Serves: 4 - 6 

  • Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups - orange juice + the zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup - lime juice + the zest of 1 lime
1/3 cup - fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried
6 cloves - garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp - ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp - pepper
1/2 cup - olive oil + 1/2 tsp for browning of the pork 
1/2 tsp butter
2-3 pounds pork shoulder or butt

  • Mojo Sauce: 

1/2 cup - fresh orange or grapefruit juice
1/4 cup - fresh lime juice
1/4 cup - olive oil
1/4 cup - fresh cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeño finely chopped (optional)
salt, to taste (optional) 

  • Directions:
Place the pork in a large zip-lock bag. Combine all the ingredients but the pork in a bowl. Mix well until everything is well combined. Pour the marinade over the the pork. Allow the pork to sit overnight in the fridge (remove from the fridge 30 minutes prior to roasting), or at least 2 hours at room temperature. 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat a heavy bottom dutch/french oven or oven safe pot with a lid, over medium-high heat. (For a crock pot, use same directions except cook on low 7-8hrs or 4-6hrs on High). Melt 1/2 tsp olive oil and butter. Once melted, remove the pork from the marinade (reserve the marinade for cooking) and add to dutch oven. Sear on all sides until golden brown (about 2 minutes per side). Remove the pot from the heat and let the pork cool down slightly, then pour in the reserved marinade + 1 cup of water. Place a lid on the pot and place in the preheated oven. Roast the pork for 3-4 hours or until the pork is falling off the bone and shreds easily. (You may flip pork over once while cooking). Shred the pork in the pot and toss with the sauce. Discard any fatty pieces. If at any point throughout the cooking process the liquid in the post gets lower than 1 inch, add about 1/2 cup water to keep liquid in the pot.
!Mojo Sauce:
Combine all the ingredients in bowl. Taste and add salt as needed. Serve over shredded pork, rice and beans.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Peach & Raspberry Melba


Pêche Melba, one of the best known French deserts, was created in 1892 by the very talanted  Provençal chef August Escoffier in honor of Dame Nellie Melba, an Australian opera diva. This is not your regular melba where you throw in a bunch of fruit and ice-cream together. The raspberry sauce is prepared and the peaches are poached in water, sugar, vanilla bean and lemon zest. You get the idea. Enjoy! 

Ingredients: 

6 cups water

2 cups sugar

1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise

thinly peeled zest of about 2/3 of a lemon

6 just ripe peaches, washed and halved

4 cups good quality vanilla ice cream (I use vanilla bean)

flaked almonds, toasted

powdered sugar for dusting (optional)


Raspberry Sauce:

10 oz raspberries, fresh or frozen

juice of 1 lemon

juice of 1 orange

3 Tbsp superfine sugar

Directions: 

Combine water, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest in a saucepan large enough to hold the peaches. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

Poke peaches with a tooth pick. Gently drop the peaches into the syrup. Bring to a slow simmer and poach the peaches for 10 minutes until just tender.  Transfer the peaches and syrup to a bowl and leave to cool. Once cold, refrigerate until 10 minutes before serving.

To make the raspberry sauce, blend all the ingredients to a puree. Strain through a fine sieve and refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to serve, lift the peaches out of the syrup and peel them carefully. You may cut them in half if you prefer. Place a scoop or two in a melba glass. Gently place a few peaches on top and spoon the raspberry sauce over. Sprinkle with toasted almonds, dust with sugar and serve right away. Alternatively serve the melba in a giant serving dish.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Italian Tomato Basil Salad


This italian salad is one of my favorites. What a great way to use up all those tomatoes and basil! A great addition to any meal, or great by itself. Yum! 

Ingredients: 

8 ripe tomatoes 
1 small loaf day old or toasted bread, sliced 1/2 inch thick and cubed 
1 medium red or yellow onion 
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar 
4 Tbsp olive oil 
1 cup chopped fresh basil 
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp pepper 
kalamata olives, chopped (optional) 

Directions:

In a large bowl whisk together vinegar, oil, basil, salt and pepper. Add bread, tomatoes, onion and olives and toss until well coated. 


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Peach Galette



    
I am not going to lie, this peach galette is not only gorgeous but it is also delicious. I ate half of it after I did this photo shoot ha ha. Peaches, almonds and buttery goodness all in one. Wonderful for breakfast, desert or even brunch. I can't wait to try more flavors because all you have to do is change up the fruit. Bake on a cookie sheet or a tart pan, either way you won't go wrong. Enjoy! 

Ingredients: 

Dough: 

1 cup flour 

1/2 teaspoon sugar 

2 pinches of salt 

6 Tbsp salted butter, cold, cubed 

3 Tbsp cold water 

Filling:

1/2 cup finely ground almonds 

1/4 cup sugar 

2 ripe peaches, qartered and then sliced 

1 Tbsp butter, melted 

1/2 tsp lemon juice 

Directions: 

Make the dough: In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and start working the butter into the flour with your hands until there are pieces the size of large peas. 
Add the water and continue mixing just until it forms the dough. Do not overwork the dough. Cover with a plastic wrap, press down to flatten dough into a disk and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out. 

Preheat oven to 400 F. Remove dough from fridge. Working on a lightly floured surface roll the dough into a 10 - 11 inch circle. Place dough onto a baking sheet or a tart pan lined with parchment paper. 

In a small bowl mix together the almonds and sugar. Sprinkle half of the mixture over the dough, leaving about a inch or inch and a half border. Arrange peach slices starting with the outside of the dough (leaving the border empty). Sprinkle the rest of the almond sugar mixture but two table spoons over the fruit.

Fold the border of dough into the peaches, pinching the edges to make sure they are sealed. Brush the border with the melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining almond sugar mixture. 

Bake in the middle section of the oven for 30 - 40 minutes or until crust is well browned and its edges are slightly caramelized. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes before serving. 








Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Polie's Pie Pizza


    I wanted to share this family favorite recipe with you. I came up with the recipe one time when I just used what I had in the fridge. I used a pie pan instead of a pizza pan too. Surprisingly the pizza turned out to die for. Now I make it all the time and it is my to go to meal when I am in a hurry or when I am out of ideas what to make for dinner. It is super easy, anyone can make it and it takes only 15 minutes bake.  And I mean…who doesn't like home made pizza?! From me to you, enjoy! :)

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

12 oz pizza dough 
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
1/2 can diced tomatoes 
1/4 tsp sea salt 
1/4 tsp garlic powder 
1/2 tsp dry oregano + 1tsp for the cheese 
4 cracks of freshly ground black pepper 
3 slices canadian bacon, sliced  
2 slices already cooked bacon, diced  
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated, tightly packed 
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 F. Pour the olive oil in a metal pie pan and spread evenly on bottom and sides. Stretch dough to fit the pan (a little wider than the bottom of the pan. Dough is easier to work with if dip your fingers with some olive oil). Spread tomatoes evenly on top of the dough. Sprinkle with sea salt, garlic powder, 1/2 tsp oregano, black pepper. Layer canadian bacon and bacon. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese everywhere but mostly in the middle of the pizza. Then sprinkle with parmesan everywhere but focussing on the crust (cover most of the crust). Cook for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and sides are golden brown. 


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Bulgarian Musaka


      I have been asked many times to share this recipe but I didn't want to do a post until I figure out how to make the irresistible musaka that everyone loves. A recipe that you will keep going back to and perhaps will become a family favorite. So here it is! Bulgarian musaka is one of the most popular traditional bulgarian dishes. Do not confuse Bulgarian musaka with Greek musaka. They are very different as they use different ingredients. This dish is like a casserole and its main ingredients are potatoes, ground beef, eggs and plain yogurt. It takes about an hour and a half to make but it is totally worth the time and effort. I am hoping that this dish will remind my children of home just like it reminds me of home. If you are sick of cooking the same casserole over and over again, consider making this recipe. Your family will love it!

Serves: 8-9

Main Ingredients: 

1lbs - 1.300lbs ground beef (80% lean/20% fat) 

6-8 russet potatoes, cubed about 1/2 inch 

1/2 green bell pepper, minced 

1/2 yellow onion, minced

1/2 cup grated carrot 

1/2 tomatoe, chopped 

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped 

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped 

3/4 cup sunflower oil 

1tsp thyme 

paprika 

salt 

pepper 

black pepper, crushed 


Ingredients For The Topping:

3 eggs 

1/2 cup plain yogurt 

1 cup butter milk 

1 Tbsp flour 

1/4 tsp baking soda 

Directions:

In a 13x9 pan spread the cubed potatoes covering the bottom of the baking pan (about half way). Cover with cold water and set aside. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a sauce pan add the beef, pepper, carrot, onion, tomato, parsley, thyme, 1 Tbsp salt, 2tsp paprika and 10 cracks of black pepper. Cook on medium high until beef is brown. (Do not overcook beef. Beef should be a little undercooked). Set aside. 

Drain the water from the potatoes. Add the sunflower oil, dill, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp paprika and mix. Then add the meat mixture on top of the potato mixture. Mix well. With a spatula press down the potatoes and meat mixture creating a flat surface. Sprinkle 1 tsp paprika again and crack some black pepper (about 6 - 7 cracks). Bake for 45 minutes, stirring the musaka about 30 minutes after it has been in the oven. Make sure to create that same flat surface as earlier.

In the mean time prepare the topping. In a bowl mix the eggs, yogurt, buttermilk, flour and baking soda. Refrigerate until you need to use it. 

After the musaka has been in the oven for 45 minutes, take it out. Taste it. Make sure it tastes good and it doesn't need more salt. Pour the egg mixture on top of the musaka spreading it evenly. Put back in the oven for additional 15 minutes. Serve while it is hot. For more authentic taste serve it with drizzled plain yogurt. Enjoy!  

    


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Lamb Casserole With Green Olives (Ragoût de Mouton aux Olives ertes)


This casserole is from the French Languedoc/Pyrénées region which is famous for its tasty lamb and this delisious casserole. It is cooked for a long time at a moderate temperature which makes it really soft and tender. The green olives also contribute to its great flavor. Not to mention the orange zest…mmmmmm. Serve over rice, risotto or mashed potatoes. Bon Appetite!

Ingredients: 

about 2 lb deboned lamb shoulder, cut into large cubes 
kosher salt 
freshly ground pepper 
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling 
1 tsp butter 
1 medium carrot, diced 
1/2 medium onion, diced 
1/2 Tbsp tomato paste (concentrated puree)
5 fl oz (150 ml) dry white wine or Resling  
3 cloves garlic, crushed 
3x5 cm (2 in) strips orange zest 
15 - 18 green olives 
200 ml chicken stock 
1 large tomato, cut into 8
1 spring thyme 
1 bay leaf 
a few basil leaves to garnish 

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 275 F (140 C). Season the lamb with salt and pepper. I use quite a bit of salt. Heat the oil in an ovenproof saucepan or casserole dish and brown the lamb on all sides over high heat. 

Add the butter, followed by the carrot and onion, and stir for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir well. Add the wine and bring to the boil. Add the garlic, orange zest, olives, chicken stock, tomato, thyme and bay leaf. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and bake in the oven for 3 hours, or until the meat is tender. Garnish with basil leaves, drizzle with extra olive oil and serve.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Quiche Lorraine with Gruyere Cheese



This dish comes form the Lorraine Region and it might be the most popular French dish outside of France. The gruyere cheese adds an incredible flavor and perfectly blends with the rest of the ingredients. You may replace it with other kinds of cheeses but in my opinion this quiche tastes so much better with it. Delish! 

Serves: 6 - 8

Ingredients: 

Pastry: 

1 stick of butter, cut into pieces 
1 egg yolk 
a pinch of salt 
2 cups of all - purpose flour 
3 Tbsp water 
juice of 1/2 lemon 

Filling:

2 egg yolks 
2 whole eggs 
3 1/2 fl oz milk 
10 fl oz heavy cream 
salt 
finely ground black pepper 
2 pinches of freshly grated nutmeg 
1 tsp butter 
3 1/2 oz bacon/diced 
3 1/2 oz (100 g) grated gruyere cheese 

Directions: 

To make the pastry, place the butter, egg yolk and salt in a food processor and blend to combine. Add the flour, water and lemon juice and pulse to form a ball. Remove from food processor, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using. (After the 30 minutes, I put mine on the counter for about 30 minutes to reach room temperature. Dough is much easier to work with when it's not as cold).

Preheat the oven to 450 F (230 C). Grease 8 1/2 inch loose - based tart (flan) tin and line the base with parchment paper (you can also use any kind of tart pan). 

Roll out pastry on a floured surface and use to line the tart pan. Trim the edges and line the pastry with foil. Fill with pastry weights (or use rice or dried beans). Cook for 12 minutes, then carefully remove the foil and weights.

In a bowl, whisk together the yolks, whole eggs, milk and cream. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. 

Lower the oven temperature to 350 F (180 C). 

Melt the butter in a frying pan and cook the bacon for 3 minutes, turning occasionally. ( I know…cook beacon in butter?! What?!) Drain the bacon well then scatter over the blind - baked pastry shell. Sprinkle on the cheese then pour in the egg mixture. 

Carefully transfer the quiche to the oven and cook for 20 - 25 minuets, or until the filling is set and the top is golden brown. When cooked, remove from the oven and leave for about 10 minutes before unmolding/serving. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Prosciutto Mozzarella Crostini


       
    I was inspired to make this appetizer after trying something similar in a local restaurant. It turned out to be fantastic. The secret of good crostini is in the good and fresh ingredients. This means good quality olive oil, sea salt, fresh mozzarella, fresh bread and believe it or not, oregano as well. I have tried making this recipe many times and if you want your guests to be impressed you have to use the good stuff. In this photo you can tell I used kalamata olive baguette and it was wonderful. I hope you enjoy this killer recipe as much as I do. 

Makes 8 - 10 slices 
Time: 10 minutes 

Ingredients:

8 - 10 thin slices of french baguette 
8 - 10 slices of prosciutto (preferably smoked)
8 - 10 slices of fresh mozzarella (in water is the best)
extra virgin olive oil 
oregano 
freshly ground black pepper 
sea salt 

Directions:

Turn oven to broil on high. Brush both sides of bread with olive oil and place on a cookie sheet or a pan. Sprinkle with crushed pepper and sea salt. Broil for a minute and a half. Flip the slices of bread over and broil for another minute. Place slices onto a serving plate. Layer the mozzarella and the prosciutto. Drizzle with olive oil generously. Sprinkle with sea salt and oregano to taste (if you are using smoked prosciutto you won't need as much salt since it already has a strong flavor). The crostini are ready to be served.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mekitsi (Bulgarian Scones)

     
       These Bulgarian scones known as mekitsi are something I grew up with. Oh…how I love them! After all what's not to love about fried dough and powdered sugar. They are so wonderful. Serve them for breakfast, brunch or just because. Pair them with powdered sugar,  jam,  fresh fruit, honey, flavored butter and even feta cheese. Devine!

Ingredients:

4 cup flour
1 tsp salt 
4 tsp sugar 
1 pkg dry yeast 
2 1/2 cup warm watter 
Sunflower oil for frying 

Directions:

In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients. Add the warm water (make sure the water is not hot or too cold or it won't activate the yeast). Mix well. You may use your hands. Cover the dough with plastic and refrigerate over night or at least 2-3 hours before cooking. 

Before cooking dough should have doubled. If it hasn't, usually means that you need to wait a little longer or that your yeast doesn't work. Yeast has an expiration date. Make sure it is up to date. Before frying, take dough out of the fridge and let it sit in a room temperature for 15 - 20 minutes. 

In a deep frying pan, cover the bottom with sunflower oil (about an inch to inch and a half, the mekitsi should float without touching the bottom of the pan). Heat up the oil on medium high. Dip your hands in sunflower oil (so dough doesn't stick to your hands as much) and grab enough dough to form a ball about the size of a golf ball or a little bigger. Working with your hands stretch the dough as much as possible without tearing and drop dough in the heated pan. You can cook as many as four or five mekitsi at one time. Turn mekitsi over as soon as you notice they are getting golden on the bottom. Mekitsi are ready when both sides are golden brown. Take mekitsi out of the pan and place on a paper towel. They might seem really hard at first but they will soften to perfection minutes after taken out of the pan. Enjoy them all day long. 



Sunday, July 24, 2016

Skillet Cookie


            This giant skillet cookie might be one of my new favorite deserts. We have made it multiple times this year and it never gets old. It is easy yet so scrumptious. This cookie is crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside, just like what a cookie should be like. It is very nutty and chocolaty and amazing. Serve with good vanilla bean ice-cream or home made whipped cream and you've got yourself perfection. I'll stop here because I already want another piece. 

Serves: well...depends if you want to share….

Ingredients: 

6 Tbsp packed dark-brown sugar 

1/2 cup sugar 

1 large egg 

1 tsp pure vanilla extract 

1 cup flour 

1/2 tsp baking soda 

1/2 tsp coarse salt 

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 

1 cup walnuts


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine butter and sugars with a wooden spoon. (You may use a standing mixer as well). Stir in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in chips and then walnuts. Transfer to a 10 inch cast-iron skillet;flatten and smooth top. Bake until cookie is golden brown and just set in the center, 18 - 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. If you wish to serve it on a fancy plate, let it cool a little longer, then you can flip it over. Serve with vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Light Parmesan Salad

 

            Picture the perfect summer salad. It is light yet flavorful. Well folks, look no more because this is it. This salad is so easy and delicious.  It is the perfect addition to your grilled stake, chicken or any main dish. Yes, yes it is also on the healthy side which is a huge plus. Enjoy!

Serves: 4


Ingredients:

1/3 cup parmesan

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 - 1 tsp garlic cloves minced 

1 Tbsp rice vinegar 

1/2 tsp salt 

1/4 tsp pepper 

1 bunch romain lettuce 

butter croutons (optional)

black olives (optional)


Directions:
 
    Combine garlic, lemon juice, parmesan and olive oil in a jar or any container that has a lid. Give it a good shake until creamy. Pour over lettuce and garnish with croutons and olives or any other veggies that you like. Your summer salad is good to go!