White beans, mushrooms, sausage and kale soup

It is cold here in Slovakia (around -15C in the morning) thus a big bowl of a hot soup is something to dream about. So I decided to taste a new soup recipe and to use dried mushrooms we gathered in Nová Baňa in autumn. Once again, it was success from the first try (considering amount of the cooking f%ckups I usually have, 2 good recipes in a row is a very exciting result).
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Chicken terrine with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted peppers

Hello, Ferns and Cakes, it‘s been awhile.
Well, February was not the most exciting month so I’m happy that it‘s‚ almost over and I just hope that upcoming sping will bring much more courage to “cook and tell”. Today I want to share an easy recipe of chicken terrine. I was amazed with amount of different terrines I saw at Paris food markets and, of course, I wanted to cook it myself. Glad to say that it was “10 from 10” from the very first try and I am excited that I can cook another nice dish now.
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Breakfast ideas: thick cottage cheese pancakes “Syrniki”

Do you know the damnation of the simplest recipes? Like soufflé that is basically quite a simple dish to cook but I always doubt if I make everything right. Syrniki are the same kind of dish. Syrniki, which are thick cottage cheese pancakes, are traditional breakfast in Odessa. Simple yet delicious, it’s the dish that my mother cooks perfectly. Ingredients are quite simple too: cottage cheese, an egg, a few spoons of flour, a little bit of sugar, may be vanilla and raisins. Nothing more, but it took me a few unsuccessful attempts until I cooked it right. The key ingredient is cottage cheese (or it’s “tvaroh” variation in Central and Eastern Europe. Tvaroh is called “syr” in Ukrainian so name “syrniki” shows that the dish is made of syr), which should contain 9% of fat. Cottage cheese should not be too dry or too liquid, otherwise you will not be able to form pancakes. If cottage cheese is too liquid, press the liquid out using a sieve and a spoon. You can substitute cottage cheese with ricotta.
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Roasted and mashed cauliflower with sun-dried tomatoes salsa

It seems that I’ve already posted recipes with all possible varieties of cabbage and for unknown reasons cauliflower was an exception. It’s time to break this circle 🙂 The only dish with cauliflower I had known before was simply boiled cauliflower and then served with greens, garlic and cheese. I decided to extend my horizons and cook something more exciting this time.
A few notes before I share the recipe. I use tahini paste in this recipe because since I’ve often started to cook hummus, tahini can be always found in my kitchen. It’s already the third recipe with tahini I’m sharing here. The first was pumpkin bread and the second was beet hummus.
Here is the recipe for cauliflower “steaks” with mashed cauliflower and sun-dried tomatoes salsa.
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Turmeric ginger chicken soup with noodles

Chicken soup seems to be an important dish for many countries. In Odessa it was claimed to be a cure against all possible illnesses (no wonder, as Odessa has a big Jewish population and a rich chicken soup is a staple of East European Jewish cuisine). In Bratislava, chicken soup also plays the key role  on Sunday family dinner. I can cook  this soup both in Odessa and Bratislava styles but I’m always open to new ideas so I tried turmeric and ginger chicken soup and I’ve fallen in love with it now 🙂
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Sausage and shrimp gumbo

I’ve first heard about gumbo from my very favourite BBC Food program podcast. It was clear that this is a special dish of American cuisine (I can compare it with borsht in Ukraine or kapustnica here in Slovakia), because it seems that hundreds of recipes exist and every family from Louisiana has its own way to cook gumbo.
I don’t want to claim that my gumbo recipe is a “true” one, however it contains all key ingredients: ” Louisiana trinity” of onion, green pepper and celery plus roux. A lot of recipes also include okra, but you can’t find okra in European grocery stores in the middle of January 🙂 I like the taste of this dish, it’s reach in taste and it’s perfectly warming.
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Spelt flour focaccia with rosemary and olives

One of my New Year resolutions was to write down all the recipes I want to add to my upcoming book. So I’ve done it and now it’s time to test everything that was planned and to post the results here. Let me start with rosemary and olives focaccia.

A few notes. There are plenty of focaccia recipes that use baking powder, which seems “very wrong” to me as it’s only sour dough that gives focaccia that special taste. Then, there are a lot of people who are afraid of yeast and sour dough. Well, sour dough requires some more efforts  in comparison with baking powder or “self rising flour”, but commercial yeast makes its work so perfect that it’s hard to make a mistake. Hope I motivated you at least a little bit. And finally: I found that you can make focaccia with plain spelt flour which is in a way healthier choice than white wheat flour. Try it 🙂
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Last minute Christmas baking: dried fruit and ginger biscotti

This recipe has caused a lot of questions from my facebook friends, so I’m glad to share it here. Biscotti are obviously not Slovak Christmas classics, but I think that it’s a nice addition to the variety of cookies. They also remind German Christmas stollen, they are just quicker to make. A lot of biscotti recipes include nuts and almonds, I’ve made “nut free version” as I can’t say that I like an idea of hard nuts in dry biscotti.
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Vegetarian borscht with red lentils

Oh, I can write a lot about borscht.It is better to say: it’ll be hard to write about the most famous Ukrainian soup briefly 🙂 May be it is borscht that comes first to my mind when I think about Ukrainian cuisine. It’s like kapustnica for Slovaks and it has both gastronomical and cultural values. There are sayings like “you can’t cook borsht with him” which means “this person is not good to have a deal with” or “you can cook a good borscht, so you can get married”. Borscht recipes show a wide range, the one I’m going to share is my favorite, I’ve tested it last year and it was success from the first try.
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Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and walnuts

We had “an autumn feast dinner” with friends last Saturday and roasted duck was the main star of the menu. There are 2 classic side dishes for roasted duck here in Slovakia: braised cabbage and “lokše” thin pancakes made of potato dough. As a “cabbage freak” I decided to add one more side dish to the menu: roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and walnuts. Well, it’s Thanksgiving classics, but this recipe is not known here. The most popular comment about this dish was “oh, I’ve hated Brussels sprouts since school times, but you made it really delicious”. So mind this recipe if you also have “cabbage haters” among your friends.
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Roasted chicken thighs with fennel and orange

2 cool things have happened this week. First: short interviews with Slovak food bloggers about their favourite fall and winter dishes were published in the latest edition of Dobré Jedlo magazine.  So, I’m proud to be featured in the magazine that I like among a company of inspired people. Second: Oslavujeme s Teleránom cookbook has been on sale in book stores since this week and I can finally add it to my portfolio. And now back to the kitchen. Today I will share the recipe of a roasted chicken with fennel which I have been trying to test for the last 3 or 4 weeks. Why has it taken so long?   The reason  is I couldn’t find fennel anywhere: neither on farmer’s market nor in all grocery shops. Fennel had just disappeared and I was even thinking that it’s out of the season (but who cares about seasons when we have fresh grapes from Argentina in January). I found a few small fennel bulbs on last Saturday farmer’s market and, of course, bought it. Before I share the recipe, I want to say that it has been one of the best chicken dishes I’ve ever tried.
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Pumpkin gnocchi with sage sauce

It’s time to finish the pumpkin marathon. I enjoyed it pretty much, but there are so many new products that I want to try that pumpkin can wait till next fall. Farewell recipe is pumpkin gnocchi with sage and cream sauce.  I think this dish is a kind of comfort food: it’s easy to cook and, most important, it can be frozen. It’s a nice feeling to know that some proper portions of gnocchi are waiting for me in the fridge. Gnocchi are relatives to one of Slovak staple dishes “halušky” with the difference in shape and the fact that raw potatoes are used in most of halušky recipes.
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Spelt galette with sweet potato, beet and caramelized shallots

I wanted to try this recipe not only because of the filling, that is of course delicious, but also because of the dough. It’s choux pastry variation and as I haven’t had any experience with it, I was excited to try it. I can’t describe how pleasant is to work with this dough. I made it ‘half spelt’ and even despite it the dough was amazingly elastic.
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Pumpkin and apple puff pastry spirals (aka vertuta)

One day I will write “The Bessarabian cookbook”. Do you know where Bessarabia is? It’s a historical region in Eastern Europe between the Danube and the Dniester rivers, located both in the South of modern Ukraine and Moldova. Bessarabia was a kind of melting pot of many nations and in  their culinary traditions, you can see and taste influence of not only Ukrainian and Moldavian cuisines but also  Turkish, Balkan and Greek cuisines there. My native Odessa is not located directly in Bessarabia (well, it’s just around 40km from the place where the Dniester meets the Black sea) but being the biggest city in Ukrainian South it has a lot of Bessarabian people living there. That’s why you can find many  Bessarabian staple dishes in Odessa restaurants and that’s why I know how to cook them – I’ve just got used to them since my childhood.
Here is one of classical autumn dishes from that region, it’s called vertuta and it’s phyllo pasty roll of spiral with different fillings. I will share  a recipe with a  pumpkin and apple filling. I baked it with “ready to use” puff pastry which is closest to phyllo pasty.

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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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