Raised Vegetable Garden

It's been a joy and truly a labor of love piecing our raised bed garden together. We learnt a lot from our last/first attempt at gardening and this time we were better planned.

The Best Pizza Dough

We got a bit tired of our whole wheat pizza dough I think we got too accustomed to it and decided it needed some tweaking.

US Road trips

We've made a few road trips around the US. There's a lot to see here and a lot of distance to cover. Here are some of our trips on the east coast.

Panama

Panama's carnival celebration in Panama City are supposed to be the second largest in the world. Enjoyed this big party with fantastic street food, dozens of stages and loud music blaring at every corner.

Canada

Canada has some of the most beautiful sceneries and landscapes. I hope to drive across to the West coast some day but till then here's a glimpse of Toronto and beyond.

Showing posts with label Cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cooking. Show all posts

Home made bread - back to basics


Gingerbread cookies


Gingerbread cookies
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter, 125 ml;
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, 175 ml;
  • 1/3 cup molasses, 70 ml;
  • 1 large egg;
  • 2 tablespoons water;
  • 2 2/3 cup flour, 600 ml;
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda;
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt;
  • 2 teaspoon ground dried ginger;
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon;
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg;
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves;

Icing:
  • Icing sugar;
  • lemon juice;

Approach:
  • Mix the butter in a bowl with the sugar. Stir in molasses, egg and water. 
  • Beat up the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. 
  • Add in the butter mixture.
  • Preheat oven to 180 ° C (350 ° F). 
  • Roll the dough into thin slices, use a cookie cutter to mold into various shapes and place on a baking sheet and in a tray.
  • Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool. 
  • Decorate with a thick mixture of icing sugar and lemon juice,
  • Let it dry.

Penang Char Kway Teow

Malaysian food is becoming one of my favorites of late. I decided to try making Penang Char Kway Teow


Ingredients (1 serving):-
  • 3 tablespoons oil, 30 ml;
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, 5 ml;
  • 1 small onion or spring onion, 10 g;
  • 1 tablespoon sambal chili paste;
  • 1 egg;
  • shrimp, 60 g;
  • rice noodles,150g;
  • a handful of soy sprouts, 30 g;
  • 1 tablespoon chives, 10 g;
  • 1/3 red chili peppers;
For the sauce:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 15 ml;
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, 10ml;


Procedure:
  1. Cook the pasta in salted water. Then we put them in cold water to  prevent sticking.
  2. Fry in hot oil, the garlic, onion and chili paste (sambal). Add egg and keep stirring. 
  3. Add the shrimp and cook gently. 
  4. Add in the pasta, pour in the sauce and sprinkle with sprouts and chives. Garnish with finely chopped red chilli peppers.

Batata Vadas

Batata Vadas recipe

Ingredients:-
  • 4 medium size boiled potatoes  
  • 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 green chilies minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil

For Batter
  • 3/4 cup gram flour
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1//4 teaspoon red chili powder

Preparation:-

For the Batter
  • Mix gram flour, salt and cilantro. Add water slowly to make a thick but smooth batter.

Make the Potato balls Vada
  • Boil potatoes till 80% cooked. They should be firm yet cooked
  • Peel and coarsely mash the boiled potatoes.
  • Heat two tablespoons of oil in a pan on medium heat.
  • Add mustard seeds and as the seeds crackle, add mashed potatoes, ginger paste, minced green chili, turmeric, and salt.
  • Stir fry on medium heat for 2 minutes and then add cilantro and mix well. Turn of the heat.
  • After this mixture cools off, start making small balls the size that will easily fit in your fist.
  • Heat oil in a frying pan. Make sure there is about 1 ½ inch of oil.
  • Dip the potato patties into the batter one at a time, making sure the patties are completely covered by the batter. Then, slowly drop them into the frying pan.
  • Turn them occasionally until both sides are just done and light brown.
  • Serve in bread with a chili and some garlic chutney or even tamarind sauce

Prawn Koliwada

I absolutely love Koliwada prawns! Here's a quick and easy way to make them and it tastes as good!

Prawn Koliwada



Ingredients:-
  • 16 large prawns/shrimp,
  • 3 Tbsp Sambal ground fresh chilli paste,
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce,
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch,
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour,
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper,
  • 1 tsp chat masala
  • salt.
Preparation:-

Marinade:-
  • Mix the soy sauce, ground black pepper and salt. Marinate the shrimp for at least 20 minutes in this marinade.
Making the batter:-
  • Mix the Sambal  red chilli paste, corn starch, all-purpose flour and add water to get a nice thick consistency
Deep fry the shrimp:-
  • Heat up olive oil in a deep pot.
  • Coat each shrimp with the batter and fry for about 3 mins

Roast chicken with cloves and cinnamon

Roast chicken with cloves and cinnamon
Ingredients:
  • whole chicken;
  • 1 teaspoon salt;
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper;
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon;
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves;
  • juice of 1 lemon;
  • 1 tablespoon garlic with ginger;
Procedure:
  1. In a crucible, mix salt, pepper, cinnamon, ground cloves, lemon, garlic and ginger.
  2. Apply the marinade beneath the skin.
  3. Bake for 1 1/2 hours using the convection bake mode  at 190 ° C (375 ° F).

Pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pie
Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cup flour, 200 gr .;
  • pinch of salt;
  • 1/2 cup butter, 100 gr .;
  • 1/4 cup water;
For the filling:
  • pumpkin, 800 gr;
  • 2 eggs;
  • 1/4 cup sugar;
  • 100 ml whipping cream;
  • 1 tablespoon brandy;
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger;
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg;
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon;
Procedure:
  1. We put the pumpkin on a baking sheet skin and bake at 180 ° C (350 ° F) for about 45 minutes.
  2. Start preparing the dough in a bowl.  Add the flour with the salt, diced butter. Knead the dough, gradually pouring water. Set aside in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.
  3. Scoop out the baked pumpkin and place in a blender. Add the eggs, sugar, cream, brandy, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon and blend until smooth and set aside.
  4. Roll the dough to a thickness of 3 mm and place in a round 9-inch / 23-cm mold. Set a piece aside for decorating the top. Using a fork poke a few holes on the bottom and crush aluminum foil along the rim to keep the shape of the crust. Bake for about 10 minutes at 190 ° C (375 ° F).
  5. Pour the filling into the pre-baked crust. Bake for 40 min at 190 ° C (375 ° F). Remove from the oven and decorate with remaining dough. Bake for another 20 minutes. 

Slepé prasa with potato salad

Slepé prasa with potato salad
Ingredients:
  • minced pork, 1,500 gr.
  • 1 baguette;
  • milk, 50 ml;
  • 1 onion;
  • 10 cloves of garlic;
  • 3/4 tablespoon salt;
  • 1/2 tablespoon pepper;
  • 1/2 tablespoons red pepper;
  • 1/3 tablespoon chilli;
  • 1 tablespoon marjoram;
  • 9 eggs;
  • fresh parsley;
  • breadcrumbs.
Potato salad:
  • 12 potatoes;
  • 3/4 onion;
  • pickled cucumber slices;
  • carrots;
  • peas;
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt;
  • 1/2 tablespoon pepper;
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt.
Procedure:
  1. Boil six eggs and cool.
  2. Cut a Baguette into cubes and pour milk over and set aside. Add in finely chopped onion and mix. 
  3. Add the minced meat and finely chopped garlic and stir again. 
  4. Season with salt and pepper. (Per 1 kg of meat you need 1/2 flat tablespoon of salt.)
  5. The remaining three eggs and Mix the smash. Pol egg lay aside for the third time.Other add to the meat mixture along with finely chopped parsley and stir it.
  6. Place meat on foil and sprinkle bread crumbs on it. Then lay out six peeled eggs. 
  7. Fold the foil and pat down to remove any air and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes at 190 ° C (375 ° F). 
  8. For the Potato salad; Boil the unpeeled potatoes in salted water with a bay leaf. Allow to cool, peel and cut into cubes. 
  9. Boil carrots with peas, drain and then add in the potatoes, pickled cucumber and onion. 
  10. Season with salt, pepper and yogurt. 

Home-made Organic Strawberry Jam

We made some delicious strawberry jam today. Picked up 6 quarts of strawberries from one of the local organic farms. They were so delicious it was hard not to finish them while cleaning. Our last attempt turned out great but this time it was even better!
Home made organic strawberry jam

Ingredients:-
  • 3 Kg strawberries (6 quarts);
  • Juice from two lemons;
  • 750 gm sugar;
  • 57 gm pectin(1 packet);

Preparation:-
  • Slice strawberries in half and place in large cooking pot.
  • Mix in the sugar, lemon juice and pectin.
  • Stir on a low flame till the juices get released.
  • Once it starts to boil stir continuously till you get the desired consistency.

Chicken Lollipops

Chicken lollipops used to be one of my favorites and I had completely forgotten about them for almost a decade until recently when I had them at a Hakka restaurant. I simply had to make them.

After a bit of research here's my take on chicken lollipops! they're delicious!!
Chicken Lollipops

Ingredients:-
  • 7 Chicken wings,
  • 3 Tbsp Sambal ground fresh chilli paste,
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce,
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch,
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour,
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper ,
  • salt.
Preparation:-

Shaping your lollipops from the chicken wings:-
  • Star with the wings. If you stretch each wing, they comprise of three sections just like you hand.
  • You need to split the wings at each joint using a knife and twisting at the joints. The three sections are the base the mid and the tip. discard the tips.
  • Loosen the meat at one end of the bone for the base section. Push the flesh past the other fixed end.
  • Similarly for the mid section start at the end where you see two bones. Loosen with a knife and push past the fixed end. You can remove the thinner of the two bones and discard.
  • The mid sections have very little meat so make a stuffing for them. I used turkey bread stuffing with a little milk and an egg. You can use any stuffing you like.
Marinade:-
  • Mix the soy sauce, ground black pepper and salt. Marinate the lollipops for at least 20 minutes in this marinade.
Making the batter:-
  • Mix the Sambal  red chilli paste, corn starch, all-purpose flour and add water to get a nice thick consistency
Deep fry the lollipops:-
  • Heat up olive oil in a deep pot.
  • Coat each wing with the batter and fry for about 10 mins
  • Serve with Schezwan sauce.
Making chicken lollipops 




Šuhajdy

We're celebrating Easter this year in traditional Slovak style. Here's a recipe for chocolate cakes called Šuhajda.
Šuhajdy

Ingredients (for 80 pieces):-
  • 1 can of sweet condensed milk;
  • raisins;
  • nuts;
  • dried fruits (papaya, zest of lemons and oranges, candied cherries);
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of rum;
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice;

For the frosting:
  • butter, 480 gr;
  • 10 tablespoons cocoa;
  • 5 tablespoons powdered sugar;
  • dark chocolate 370 gr;
Procedure:
  • Immerse the closed tin of condensed into boiling water and let it simmer for about and hour so that the condensed milk caramelizes.
  • After cooling the condensed milk, open the can and divide it into two bowls. 
  • To one of the bowls add rum and to the other add orange juice
  • Chop finely the dried fruit and nuts and raisins and place into both bowls.
  • For the frosting; place the frosting ingredients in the bowl placed in steaming hot water and gradually melt the glaze mixture. 
  • Fill each paper cup with a spoon chocolate icing.
  • Now to each cup, add 1/3 tablespoon of the filling of condensed milk.
  • Finally pour chocolate icing and garnish with a piece of dried fruit or walnut. We used the walnut to differentiate the rum chocolates from the others.

Plnená kapusta Stuffed cabbage pockets

Here's another traditional Slovakian recipe, Plnená kapusta stuffed cabbage pockets with a spicy twist! They're delicious juicy meaty delights!
Plnená kapusta Stuffed cabbage pockets
 Ingredients:-
  • 1 1/2 cups rice;
  • 1 1/2 pack of minced beef (or pork);
  • 1 head cabbage;
  • 1 onion;
  • 3 packs of tomato puree, 450 gr.
  • 4 cloves of garlic;
  • spices (pepper, oregano, chilli, cumin, paprika, nutmeg, turmeric, paprika);
  • salt.

Procedure:-
  • Rinse the rice in a colander and leave to drain.
  • Create indentations around the cabbage stalks to make it easier to divide the leaves. 
  • Place the cabbage in a large pot of water, let it start to boil. Gradually, peel off the outer layers as they soften. Yes this is time consuming but well worth it.
  • Fry the rice in a spoon of oil. Add half cup of water, boil for a minute, turn off the heat and then let it stand in it's steam.
  • Season the meat with spices, add half a tablespoon of salt, fried onions and fresh garlic. Add in the rice and mix well.
  • Chop the smallest cabbage leaves fine and place at the bottom of the pot which you will be cooking in.You can throw out the central heart/stalk of the cabbage.
  • Cut the larger cabbage leaves in half and remove the thick vein in the center. 
  • Wrap the prepared mixture in the leaves and place in the pot.
  • Prepare the tomato sauce in a separate dish. Mix tomato puree with 3 cups of water. Stir in basil and a tablespoon of salt. You may add a tablespoon of oil. 
  • Pour the sauce over the stuffed cabbage leaves in the pot. 
  • Place a plate or jars over the stuffed cabbage as a weight to hold them leaves down.
  • Cook for about an hour from the time it starts boiling. 
  • Cool slightly and serve.
Making Plnená kapusta is quite an elaborate process but worth the trouble! 

Mrežovník Apple cake

My mother-in-law is visiting and taught us how to bake this delicious apple cake. All credit to her until we make it ourselves the next time :)
Mrežovník | Apple cake


Ingredients:-
  • 6 apples;
  • 1 heap tablespoon sugar;
  • cinnamon;
  • chopped nuts;

For the dough:-
  • flour, 600 gr .;
  • sugar, 250 gr .;
  • butter, 250 gr .;
  • 2 eggs;
  • lemon peel;
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder.

Procedure:-
  • Prepare the dough
  • Remove the core and grate the apples. 
  • Squeeze excess apple juice. You can drink the apple juice.
  • Take out a third of the dough and set aside. With the remaining 2/3 flatten out into a rectangular shape. 
  • Grease a baking sheet placed in a baking tray. Move the dough using the support of the rolling-pin onto the sheet. 
  • Press the edges of the dough so they stay in place on the four corners of the baking tray
  • Sprinkle the apple mixture with breadcrumbs to drain any excess juice. 
  • Spread the the apple mixture onto the dough sheet.
  • Roll the remaining third of the dough into strips and place on top of the cake.
  • Bake at 180 ° C (375 ° F) for about 40-45 minutes. 
Mrežovník Apple cake

Cranberry Lemon Squares


Ingredients:- 

For the base:
  • 12 tablespoons butter, 180 ml;
  • 1/2 cup of sugar, 120 ml;
  • 2 cups of flour, 500 ml;
  • pinch of salt;
For the top:
  • 1 cup of sugar, 250 ml;
  • 8 tablespoons of flour, 120 ml;
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder;
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt;
  • 3 eggs;
  • juice of 1 lemon;
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries.

Procedure:-
  • In a bowl, mix the ingredients for the bottom of the cake. 
  • Flatten this dough on the bottom of the baking tray and bake for 10 minutes at 180 ° C (350 ° F).
  • In the same bowl, mix the ingredients that go on top of the cake (except cranberries). 
  • Distribute the cranberries evenly over the baked dough. Then pour in the mixture for the top. 
  • Bake for 30 minutes at the same temperature.

Ukrainian Boršč recipe

Boršč is a Ukrainian soup popular in many Eastern and Central European countries. You cannot beat this delicious soup on those cold winter evenings. Boršč is typically served with a slice of fresh bread. The best boršč I recall having was during a snow storm up in the mountains near the Czech-Polish border. After trekking for a while through zero visibility I stumbled upon a bouda which served the best boršč until now :) Hope you enjoy this recipe.


Ingredients:-
  • Beef with bone, 300 gr
  • 2 medium sized beetroot
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1/3 head of red cabbage
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 2 liters chicken broth
  • Dried basil
  • Sour cream or thick plain yogurt
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • salt and pepper
Procedure:-
  • Cur the beef into cubes and sear in hot oil till nicely browned. Remove beef from pan and set aside.
  • Fry the onions in the same pan. Add in the celery and carrots.
  • Pour in the chicken broth, add garlic, tomato paste,basil, salt and pepper. 
  • Simmer till the meat softens (approx. 45 minutes) 
  • In the meantime peel the potatoes, beetroot and cabbage. Cut into small pieces and stir into the broth.
  • Serve with a spoonful of sour cream or yogurt.

Thai Tom Kha Gai Soup

Thai Tom Kha Gai has got to be one of the best soups I've tasted. It's just the perfect blend of spice,coconut and that Thai lemony flavor. It's best made with chicken but you can also mix in some fresh shrimps. Here's my recipe of Thai Tom Kha Gai soup.
Thai Coconut Soup - Tom Kha Gai Soup

Ingredients:-
  • 1” piece ginger, peeled
  • 10 kaffir lime leaves 
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 1 Oxo chicken cube
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1” pieces
  • 7 shiitake mushrooms cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 carrots cut into thin discs
  • Can of coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 stalk of lemongrass
  • Chili oil, cilantro leaves with tender stems and fresh green chilli (for serving)

Preparation:-
  • Slice and lightly smash lemongrass and ginger; 
  • Cut lemongrass into 4” pieces. Bring lemongrass, ginger, lime leaves, and broth to a boil in a large pan. 
  • Let it simmer for 8–10 minutes so that the flavors kick in. 
  • Strain the broth into a clean saucepan and discard the solids.
  • Bring the broth to a boil and place in the chicken.
  • After 2 minutes add in the shiitake mushrooms.
  • Add in the carrots, fish sauce and sugar and cook until chicken,mushrooms and carrots done.
  • Mix in coconut milk and bring to a boil.
  • Turn off the heat and drop in some chili oil, cilantro, and roughly sliced green chilli.

Home-made Strawberry Jam

Spent a lovely afternoon with family making some strawberry jam. It was our first attempt with a canning kit. The secret to great jam is not just having fresh fruit but more importantly the right amount of sugar. You don't want too much for sure and neither too little. We used sugar which was roughly one fourth the weight of the fruit in our jam and it turned out delicious!

Home-made Strawberry Jam


Ingredients:-
  • 2 cups strawberries, 1280 gr.
  • Sugar, 320 gr.
  • 1 tablespoon pectin.

Procedure:-
  • Wash the jam jars thoroughly with soap and water and rinse.
  • Clean and chop the strawberries.
  • Heat water in the canning pot and immerse the washed jars. Keep this boiling.
  • Put hot (not boiling) water into a small pot and place the bottle covers to sterilize.
Now get started on the jam;
  • In a non-stick pot place the strawberries with a spoon of pectin and keep stirring until it boils.  
  • Add sugar and cook for about 1 minute from the time it boils.
  • Remove one jar at a time from the canning pot, drain well and fill with jam, then wipe the rim of the jar and place the lid and seal firmly but not too tight.
  • Place it back in the canning pot. Now repeat the process until you fill all your jars.
  • Now leave to boil for about 10 minutes then turn off the flame and let it stand for another 5 minutes 
  • Remove the jars from the water and leave out for 24 hours in a dark place. 
  • This process should guarantee your jars being perfectly sealed and your jam well preserved.


Lamb chops braised in lemon juice

After a lovely morning spent at the farmers market and our local butcher, I got inspired to make these delicious lamb chops. This is a mild but delicious recipe.
Lamb chops braised in lemon juice

Ingredients:-
  • lamb chops;
  • salt and pepper;
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon;
  • 2 teaspoon all-spice;
  • 2 tablespoons dried mint;
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil;
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes;
  • juice of 1 lemon;
  • 1 onion.

Procedure:-
  • Season lamb chops with salt,pepper, a sprinkle of cinnamon, all-spice and mint.
  • Heat oil in a saucepan and sear the chops briskly.  
  • Place the seared chops in a slow cooker crock pot  along with some diced tomatoes, finely chopped onion and lemon juice.
  • Set the cooker at higher temperature for about 4 hours. 
  • Serve with rice or stuffed Vineyard leaves.

Nasturtium salad

We've been waiting a while for our Nasturtiums to grow. Nasturtiums make an excellent choice as they're edible, attractive, and supposedly will help rid your garden of certain pests.

It took eight weeks for them to flower and finally land up in my dinner. The leaves have a spicy tinge to them.

Cherry Cake

Cherry cake
Ingredients:-
  • All purpose flour, 200 gr.;
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder;
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda;
  • caster sugar, 100 gr.;
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence;
  • Plain yogurt, 125 ml;
  • Butter, 60 gr.;
  • 2 eggs;
  • Water, 75 ml;
  • Pitted cherries, 300 gr.

Procedure:-
  • Beat up the eggs preferably in a food processor.
  • Stir in yogurt, melted butter, sugar, vanilla essence, yoghurt and water and mix well with the beaten eggs.
  • Stir in the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Mix until smooth.
  • Butter the cake tin and sprinkle with flour. 
  • Pour the mixture into the tin and sprinkle with pitted cherries.
  • Bake at 180 ° C (375 ° F) for about 30 minutes.