Monday, 28 February 2011
The other day me and my friend Vicki have been visiting some good friends who just had a baby girl (very quite one by the way!). I offered to cook as I realized that they might be already busy with hosting (and the baby of course). As I wanted to cook something we traditionally eat in Lithuania I decided to go with goulash. I know it may not be exactly Lithuanian (originally Hungarian), but we cook that a lot as it is so warming for the cold weather (it's like a comfort food for me). There are soooo many versions of goulash as a soup (traditionally) or a stew with many vegetables or just with onion. But I must say that my favorite is with apples as it gives such a zest to it! Paprika stays as the vital ingredient of course but you can change traditionally used beef with turkey if you like. Here is my version of goulash. I hope you enjoy it ;)
500g beef (diced)
1 red pepper (or which ever colour you prefer)
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp tomato puree
400ml stock (I like chicken stock)
150g cream fraiche (and more if you love it)
1. Heat up a large pan and fry the beef (in batches) in a little oil (I try not to use any oil as I have this belief that oil turns toxic when heated, instead I splash some water over it to stop beef pieces from sticking to the pan).
2. Remove and put aside fried beef and in the same pan (where the beef released its fats and juices) fry diced onions, shredded carrots, sliced pepper and chopped apple until golden brown (again, I use no oil as the beef juices should keep it from burning). Add paprika, tomato puree, pepper and salt to taste.
3. Return beef pieces to pan and add the stock. Bring it to boil, reduce the heat and relax (but watch out for hungry people who keeps sneaking in and asking "Is it ready yet?", "When is it going to be ready? and so on). This simmering goes on for at least an hour. Only when the beef is ready (means it is soft, not chewy) - the goulash is ready for the next step.
4. The perfect goulash needs to be thickened (in England I noticed the corn flour is used for that, but in Lithuania we just use normal wheat flour). So in separate small frying pan melt butter and fry wheat flour on the low heat (keep whisking while adding flour until it becomes like a paste). Pour the mixture into the goulash pan and turn off the heat.
5. The last bit of course is to taste it if all the flavors are combined well (add salt if needed). Then mix in cream fraiche and fresh parsley. Serve with mashed potatoes.
Monday, 14 February 2011
Its a Valentines day today and if you have not met your Mr right (or Miss right) there is always time for chocolate day! I am big chocoholic myself and this is my favorite recipe for chocolate brownie (my friends love this too, just try to leave it unattended and it will be gone before you notice it). Just whatever you do don't make the same mistake I do: don't bake it only for yourself (it is selfish and can be really unhealthy)
Ingredients: 200g dark chocolate
150g flour (Very important: don't put more flour then it is written here)
2tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
a pinch of salt
a pinch of baking powder
100g of caramel (its not sold in UK unless you go to Lithuanian shop. To make the caramel simply take a can of condensed milk and boil it for 3 hours WHILE IN THE CAN)
50g or more of chosen nuts (I used walnuts)
1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a square shape form (roasting tin is perfectly fine) with greaseproof paper.
2. Melt chocolate and butter. Best way to do it is to place glass/metal bowl (with pieces of chocolate and butter in it of course) over boiling water and watch until becomes chocolaty cream... hmmm! Make sure that the bowl bottom does not touch the water
3. In separate bowl whisk egg with sugar. Don't overdo it!
4. While stirring the chocolate mixture add the eggs, flour, cocoa powder, salt and the baking powder.
5. Pour the whole mixture into lined and ready baking form
5. Now it's the fun part! Imagine you are Jackson Pollock and start "decorating" the brownie by trowing in caramel chunks and nuts on the top of chocolate mixture.
6. Press nuts and Caramel lightly into the Chocolate dream so it sinks in a little. Bake it for around 25min (I beg you, please don't over bake it as I have done in the past. Not a very pleasant result). Enjoy and eat it quick before everyone else gets to it. Oh, and don't forget to keep it overnight in the fridge before that!
Sunday, 6 February 2011
I will make a confession, I got a bad habit... I sometimes like to read over people's shoulders while I am on the train. As soon as I see an interesting article I start reading it and I even get angry when they turn the page (once somebody gave me their magazine after noticing I was reading it!!). I know, its quite rude, but I can't help when I am bored. Can you relate?
The other day the train was really crowded and somebody was reading a "stylist"(I can't express how much I like that magazine and for those who don't know: it is free and runs out really quickly once it is published). I was looking over the reader's shoulder and I saw a picture of a cheesecake and as I was still on detox (read my previous post) I could feel saliva in my mouth. It was an interesting one, with the crumble! I was trying to get closer to the "stylist" reader to get the ingredients, but she did what everybody does and turned the page.... Luckily! Somebody at work was reading the same issue of "stylist" so I grabbed it like a mad woman and started looking for the page where the recipe was and I found it! Never mind my workmates as they are already used to me being mad. Anyway, here is the famous recipe which I have definitely tried baking. I have changed few bits as in ingredients they tried to promote "Bonne Maman" brand and I believe it is fine without it. I also find that it has goat cheese and I know that not everybody like it's scent (although it does make the cake taste lovely and unique) therefore it's allowed to be replaced by same amount of soft cheese. I hope you enjoy it as my friends did!
BERRY CRUMBLE CHEESECAKE
Ingredients: 75g butter
200g shortbread biscuits (crushed or processed as they are a bit stiff)
150g goat's cheese
450g full fat cheese
zest and juice of one orange
100g of caster sugar
75ml cream fraiche
8tbsp strawberry jam
150g summer berries (I bought my frozen as not in season at this moment)
40g plain flour
25g of oat flakes
1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a 20cm deep, loose based, spring-form tin with greaseproof paper.
2. To make a base melt 50g butter and stir in the crushed shortbread biscuits. Press this mixture over the base of the tin and set aside.
3. Beat together the cheeses, eggs, orange zest and 75g sugar with the cream fraiche. Spoon onto the base and bake for 1hour 15mins.
4. Meanwhile prepare berries mixture. Put the jam in a small saucepan with 50ml of orange juice and stir over a low heat. Bring to the boil and bubble gently for 5 minutes. Add the berries (defrost it first if you bought frozen) and leave it to cool.
5. After 1hour 15mins of baking cover the cheesecake with the berries mixture and return to the oven for further 1hr 15mins.
6. Meanwhile prepare the crumble. Rub the remaining butter and the caster sugar into the flour. Stir in the oat flakes and spread out on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15mins. Leave to cool, then brake it to the crumbs.
7. After cheesecake is completely baked and firm in the center sprinkle on the crumble mixture, leave it to cool and dust with icing sugar.