Spaghetti squash with chicken, leeks and mushrooms

It’s just amazing, how many new things I can discover in the “Food Universe”. Last year I could  barely name 3 pumpkin varieties and this fall I have realized there are so much more varieties to know and to try. Spaghetti squash was one of such new discoveries. None of my friends (even those who are “into food”) have ever heard about it. So I was excited to be the first who can share experience about this pumpkin. Here it is 🙂

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Marinated Swiss chard and beef soup

I’ve wanted to cook a sorrel soup (which is called in Ukraine ‘green borsht’) for a long but I never saw sorrel on sale in Slovakia. My Slovak friends told me that, of course, they knew what sorrel is but most of them had never heard that it could be used in soup. Sorrel soup should be a little bit sour, it makes this soup special and that is why it was difficult to find a good substitution. Sometimes spinach is used together with sorrel in green borsht, but I never liked it because boiled spinach leaves remind me wet toilet paper (sorry!), so combination of spinach and lemon juice was not an option. Last Saturday I discovered that it’s an autumn season of Swiss chard and decided to use it in the soup. It worked perfectly 🙂

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Pumpkin-ricotta-bryndza-sage stuffed shells

I wanted to try stuffed shells long ago, but the only found suitable pasta was Conchiglioni and the price was 3.90euro for 500g packing. I am not frequent pasta eater so I preferred to spend this money on something that I will eat quicker. And then came classical story: сonchiglioni was on sale and I decided “now or never”.
Going through US pumpkin recipes I’ve noticed interesting “food and culture” fact: although sage and pumpkin combination is often called “traditional” it is unknown in my part of Europe. Of course I wanted to try it immediately. I was even lucky to find fresh sage in my friend’s garden. And as it’s fall and I have “pumpkin marathon” here in the blog. So shells stuffed with pumpkin, sage and ricotta were my pick of the recipes this time. A lot of authors add neither parmigiano reggiano nor pecorino romano to the filling, but as “wanna be” locavore I’ve made substitution and add Slovak bryndza. And I didn’t regret.

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Beet hummus with chili flakes

It’s time to take a quick break from pumpkin recipes (I still have a few to post here as they are really good). Last week I was asked to share my favourite beet recipe in one of  the most popular Slovak cooking magazines. I didn’t want to write about borscht, although I like it. Such choice is too obvious for Ukraine born food blogger, isn’t it? So my choice was easy and tasty beet hummus with chili flakes.

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This fall favourite: pumpkin bread with crunchy peanut butter

I tried this bread for the first time just 1 week ago and since then I’ve already baked 3 loaves because it’s so good that I just can’t get enough. It’s my favourite recipe of this fall so far. The recipe has obvious US origin and the key ingredient is canned pumpkin pyre which can’t be found here in Bratislava as it’s simply not produced. I  replaced pyre with mashed roasted pumpkin and it worked perfectly. I also found that crunchy peanut butter works better than creamy one as parts of peanuts in baked bread give extra “wow” factor.

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Roasted pumpkin and kale pilaf

Pumpkin season started here in Bratislava so I decided to join everyones madness about this “essence of fall” vegetable.
My relations with pumpkin are the story of love and hate as I have refused even to try any dishes with it since I was a kid. But then I moved to Slovakia where pumpkin is one of the staple fall vegetables and there are huge amount of dishes with pumpkin. I had to change my mind because many of them are cool.
This autumn I want to collect all of pumpkin recipes I like here in my blog. Let’s start with kale and pumpkin pilaf.

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Polenta quiche with lentils, tomatoes and bell peppers

Cookbook project has taught me a lot of new skills and quiche baking is one of them. Quiches featured in the book have mostly a puff pastry base. Puff pastry is a nice dough, but  as I’m always trying to avoid wheat flour I was interested in other options. So I found that corn polenta can be one of them. Here is a recipe for polenta quiche with lentils, tomatoes and bell peppers. Isn’t it nice, to combine New World crops in a French baking technique?

Small notice before I start. I found that a lot of people don’t like polenta. May be the trick is that you have to use liquid with intense taste for making polenta. It could me milk, mix of milk and cream, cream, vegetable or meat stock. Just “water and salt” combination is not enough 🙂

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Slovak Buddha Bowl. Early fall edition

I actually wanted to take a short break from cooking and food writing but can you guess where I found myself on Friday evening? Of course, right in the kitchen again. Well, if it can’t be helped, I should use this endless enthusiasm wisely and write a new recipe here.

My Friday night hero was Buddha bowl. I’ve been excited about it since the moment I saw it on Instagram as I love dishes made from many ingredients. Is Buddha bowl a dish? In a way yes, but maybe I would prefer to call it “food concept” because ingredients can be combined in any order you want. Original  Buddha bowl is a vegetarian dish, however I found meat recipes too and I added a hard boiled egg to my own version. Here are a few rules of what should be added to Buddha bowl.

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5 food photography tips for your cookbook

Hello, Ferns’n’Cakes, it’s been a while, I missed you so much 🙂 As I mentioned in my  previous post, I was involved in a cookbook project and my goal was not only photography and food styling but also cooking  all the recipes.  I cooked 2-3-4 and sometimes even 5 recipes every day and I have to say that this experience was absolutely awesome.  Of course it was a challenge and I feel like I’ve spend 37 days in the kitchen, but I also had a lot of fun and learned huge amount of new things about food and cooking. I decided to summarize this experience and write a short guide for those who want to make photos for cooking book.

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Spaghetti with tomato and calamari

I’m back from “a kind of holidays” in Croatia. Why “a kind of”? Well, it’s a long story. First, some of my customers need almost every day attention and I have to be “always there” and online. Second, short before the trip I’ve got a  proposal to join exciting cooking and photography book project. Deadline is in September so I preferred not to hesitate and already started to make pictures in Croatia, which means that I was both cooking for myself and friends and also for this new book. As a result, I’ve spent quite a lot of time in the kitchen. But I can’t complain as cooking with south vegetables and olive oil from local market was a pleasure. I promise to write a big post about the book as soon as it is finished  🙂 Now it’s time to share the first of my Croatian recipes. I’ve made pasta with calamari for our “welcome” dinner and it had a great  success.

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Zucchini and chickpea flour pancakes

I’ve got few home grown zucchini in Nová Baňa and 2 of them were white. It’s actually interesting because I have been trying to find white zucchini (so common in my native Odessa) for last 5 years of my life in Slovakia but all my attempts were unsuccessful. Nová Baňa managed to surprised my once again.
I cook a lot of dishes with zucchini, both green and white. It is nice, when it’s stewed with sour cream, chicken and dill or like a filling for a cake. Zucchini pancakes are nice dish for late summer morning. I used chickpea flour for this recipe, but you can substitute it with white all purpose flour.

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Roasted eggplant spread recipe

It was very hot here in Slovakia during last 2 weeks so to be honest I didn’t cook a lot. It was hot even in Nová Baňa last weekend but it didn’t stop me from cooking one of the most famous summer dishes from Odessa cuisine: grilled eggplants, peppers and tomatoes spread. This recipe has obviously Greek or Bulgarian roots, but both Greek and Bulgarians were quite influential in summer Ukrainian region so it’s no wonder that a lot of dishes I often cook  have South European or Middle East origin.

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Side dish ideas: Swiss chard and potatoes

Can I officially claim this year “the year of the products I’ve never tried before”? Here is another prove of this fact: my traditional Saturday visit to the farm market in Zilinska street brought me a large bunch of colourful Swiss chard. The lady, who sells it names chard “Croatian spinach” and tells that it can be cooked like ordinary spinach. If you are from Bratislava and also visit the market in Zilinska, you know this seller for sure. It’s famous Cilka from Zohor, area to the North from Bratislava which is reach in culinary traditions. She names chard “Croatian spinach” and tells that it can be cooked like ordinary spinach. It makes a nice side dish together with potatoes. Of course I’ve made a short research of Swiss chard recipes and here is my own version of potatoes with chard.

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Overnight rice flakes and chia pudding

The main event of July (not just for me but for all Slovakia I assume) was Pohoda musical festival. I’ve never taken part in summer open air activities and was quite nervous if my inner introvert survives in a crowd of 35000. Well, I shouldn’t have been nervous as the festival was unexpectedly cool: really good organized, with plenty of workshops, master classes and great music, of course. Food courts were also great with all possible types of dishes: from fresh coconuts to traditional Slovak langos (fried dough with different toppings like cheese or garlic) or from absolutely great pastrami (it was my first pastrami and I totally liked it) to chia pudding. I finally tried the famous Slovak codfish salad tapped into hot dog bun. It tasted ridiculously good despite the fact that I have prejudice to mayo salads. Well, once in a while 🙂
On one of festival days my breakfast was chia pudding made by Lunter company ( the biggest Slovak producers or tofu and vegetarians spreads like hummus or “fake codfish salad”. Btw, it makes Slovakia special, where else can you try codfish salad hot dog or fake codfish salad made from soya beans?

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Artichokes hearts and quinoa warm salad

Last Thursday I invited guests to late dinner and my plan was to cook something quick and impressive (and worthy to be shared here, lol). It didn’t take too long to make a choice, because I had pickled artichokes and freshly bought package of quinoa that was on sale in Tesco. I can also proudly say that this whole recipe was created by myself: it’s quinoa warm salad with pickled artichoke hearts, shallots and tomatoes. It’s really quick to cook if you already have pickled artichokes, but this quickness didn’t save me from being late as I had some urgent work to do, so I started too late and guests came when salad was cooling. And… Do you also say to your friends “wait a moment, I have to make a picture first and then we can eat?” Well, my friends are already used to it.

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