Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Baked Stuffed Apples



This is a perfect Fall treat. Easy to make, delicious and healthy. You can have it for breakfast or dinner. Divine smell will fill the air throughout your home while the apples are baking in the oven. 


When I was a child, my parents used to bake whole apples whenever my brother and I had tummy problems. Similar to apple sauce, they were easy to digest and contained pectin to help soothe the stomach.


Here is a version of baked apples with dried fruit, nuts, spices, and drizzled with honey. Very rich, but still healthy!




You need:

6 sweet apples
1/2 cup walnut, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricot, chopped (you can use other dried fruit such as cherries, cranberries or raisins)
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2-3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup honey


Steps:

Preheat the oven to 355F (180C).

Mix chopped ingredients, apricot and walnut, with spices. Core the apples. Cut off the apple tops. Place apples on baking dish. Stuff the holes in the apples with prepared mixture. Add small pieces of butter on the top of stuffing, drizzle apples with honey and bake for about 50 minutes. If stuffing is about to get burned cover the apples with aluminum foil.



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Birthday Nutella Cake



My husband had a big birthday last month. 40th. I always make famous and complicated cakes for his birthdays. This time I wanted to bake famous German Dark Forest Cake (Schwarzwalder Kirshtorte), but he said no, reminding me that last time the cake didn't turn well because we didn't have good sour cherries, and here in US it is almost impossible to find them in the Fall, even frozen. So I said, ok, let's do something different and new.




My husband loves Nutella, kids too, so I thought, let's create an easy Nutella cake that everybody would like. I was doing some research on the Internet but didn't find anything appealing, so I came up with my own recipe. I chose chocolate genoise cake as a basis that pairs well with Nutella frosting. My idea was to keep taste of Nutella dominant as much as possible. And, I wanted rustic look too.




You need for sponge:

1 1/3cup (160g) flour
1/3 cup (50g) cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
8 large eggs
1 cup (200g) sugar
5 tablespoons butter  (heat the butter and remove the white part)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

9-inch round baking pan lined with parchment paper

For syrup:

1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup white rum


You need for frosting:

175g semi-sweet or dark chocolate
100ml heavy cream
50g butter
300g Nutella

Chopped hazelnuts for decoration.



Steps:

Sift flour with cocoa powder three times. Add salt and mix it.

Heat the oven to 355F (175C).

Pour clarified butter into a pan and stir in vanilla and cook on a very low heat until hot. It should be hot when you add it to the batter.

Make a double boiler: a pan with simmering water and a glass bowl over it. Using whisk beat the eggs and sugar in the glass bowl. When egg mixture becomes warm and start to thicken remove the bowl from the heat. Continue to mix eggs with electric mixer, on highest speed, until the volume triples, becomes pale yellow and holds a ribbon when whisk is lifted.

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to eggs and fold in gently with rubber spatula. Add the remaining flour-cocoa mixture and fold in until it is well blended. Do not over-mix it, otherwise sponge will be too dense. Place 1 cup of batter into the hot clarified butter with vanilla extract and mix together. Than transfer it to batter and gently fold it in.

Spoon the batter into baking pan and bake it for avout 30 minutes. The center should be firm enough.

When the sponge is done, remove it from the pan and place it on a cooling rack to cool down.

In the meantime, prepare frosting. Melt the chocolate in heavy cream and butter, in double boiler, over simmering water. Remove it from the heat and fold in Nutella. Cool down the frosting until you get right consistency to spread it.

Cut the sponge into three even layers. First, brush the top of  the first sponge layer with 1/3 of syrup, then spread 1/3 of frosting... do the same with remaining sponge layers, syrup and frosting.


Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts over the top of cake. They always add nice texture and flavor to the cake. Keep the cake in a fridge covered with a dome. Cakes are always better a day after.

Keep the cake out of the fridge for at least 45 minutes before serving. 



Happy birthday, daddy!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Quick Plum-Chocolate Jam (Džem od šljiva sa čokoladom)






This is a super easy and tasty jam, made for special occasions. I am not a jam person, I would always rather choose Nutella over jam to fill my crepes, but this is something even better - fruit and chocolate together.


On this blog I already have recipes with plum and chocolate: Prune-Chocolate Balls and Plum-Chocolate Tart, so now you know I am a huge fan of that combo.




Since my kids for some reason do not like dark jams, only bright ones (apricot and orange), it didn't make sense to make more than one jar. Plus, this jam is very rich in taste, so you use it in very small quantities. And, I don't like using pectin or anything artificial to keep my jam fresh for months. One jar at a time.


I've never thought about baking jam, as my mom always cooked it in large pans, but it is possible. Dutch oven is a perfect choice for that. This is a revolution method, very easy and fast, and going forward I will make all my jams this way. Look at that jam texture on the pictures, this is really great way of making it.


Plum-chocolate jam is great for crepes, but you can use it for many other things, as you do with regular jam. Recipe for crepes find here.


You can experiment with proportion of ingredients, based on you taste, but these are all good for my palate!






You need for 1 jar (375ml):

1.3lb Italian or any other plum, very ripe and sweet
1/2 - 1 cup (100-200g) sugar (depending how sweet the plum is)
100g dark chocolate (60% Cocoa)
2 tablespoons dark rum or vanilla extract

Dutch oven with lid


Steps:

Wash and dry plums. Remove pits and cut them into small chunks.

Preheat the oven to 450F (230C).

Place plums into Dutch oven. Add sugar over it. Bake it for 20 minutes on 450F, and then decrease the temperature to 355F (180C), and bake for additional 20-30 minutes until you get nice consistency of jam with some chunks of plum. Remove it from the oven. At the and add chocolate and  rum, stir it and cover with lid. After 10-15 minutes put jam into sterilized glass jar, very carefully, little by little to avoid breaking the glass as jam is still hot. Put the lid on. When it is completely cooled down remove to a fridge. Consume within 3 weeks.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

How to Grill and Serve Eggplant



This is a great summer dish.When you grill meat, always remember to trow in some veggies too. Eggplant is a great choice. Let me show you how to prepare eggplant for grilling and how to serve it. Below are two different recipes, both of them produce great look and taste.


Grilled Eggplant with Red Onion, Mint and Walnut


You need for 6-8 people:

3 medium eggplants, sliced length-wise with slicer or mandoline
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 large red onion, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
3 tablespoons walnut, coarsely chopped



Steps:

Place eggplant slices on sheets of paper towel, salt them on both sides and cover with another layer of paper towel. Put large baking sheet over it, and add something heavy on top of everything to apply pressure on eggplant slices. Let it stay that way for 30 minutes. Salt and pressure will squeeze out liquid and thus take out bitterness from eggplant. Now wash eggplant with water, rinse and dry it with paper towel.

In the meantime, heat the grill.

Brush eggplant with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Grill eggplant slices for few minutes on both sides. They should get nice grill marks. Then place them on large dish as on the picture above.

Make the dressing with the rest of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Place onion rings over eggplant and drizzle the dressing over it. Sprinkle walnut and fresh mint. Serve it warm.




Grilled Eggplant Slices with Garlic Dressing





To make second version of grilled eggplant, slice it cross-wise. Repeat the same preparation and grilling method as in the first recipe.

For dressing use 1/4 cup olive oil, juice of 1/2 lemon, minced 1 clove of garlic, chopped 3 leaves of fresh basil, 1 tablespoon of fresh chives, salt and black pepper to taste. When the eggplant slices are grilled, drizzle them with the garlic dressing.


Bellow is an eggplant with very peculiar shape. Sometimes you find them that way.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Easy Rolls with Feta Cheese (Brze kiflice sa sirom)



These are the best and the easiest rolls that I've ever made in my life. I found this recipe on Suzana's blog, here.


I have to make them again, as soon as possible. There is something very cool about the dough in this recipe - you don't have to wait for it to rise. That was great, because my kids didn't want to wait, they wanted to eat the rolls right away. Plus, they were my helpers, which means mess was all around... I had to work fast. My kids just love to play with dough. If you needed an idea how to entertain your kids during summer break, now you have it.



You don't need more than 20-25 minutes to make these rolls, plus baking time. Bread flour and instant yeast can be replaced with regular, all-purpose flour and active yeast, but I do not guarantee that the dough will be as airy. Also, you can replace sesame and caraway seeds with something else, but believe me, those are the best for topping.

If you keep the rolls wrapped with plastic foil they will be fresh a day after, if any left:)


You need for dough:

600g (4 1/2 cup) bread flour + some for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
1 teaspoon baking powder
200ml (4/5 cup) warm milk
100ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream

For filling:
1 egg, beaten
100g Feta cheese, crumbled

For glaze:
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon milk

Sesame seeds
Caraway seeds


Steps:

Use food processor or mixer to make the dough. Pulse flour, salt, baking powder and instant yeast in food processor for few seconds. Add warm milk, oil and sour cream. Mix it until you get smooth and palatable dough.

Remove the dough to flour-dusted surface. Knead it few times, and shape it into a ball. With a dough cutter divide it into four even pieces and shape them into balls.

Roll out each ball with rolling pin until you get circle 12" in diameter. Using sharp knife cut the circle into 8 even triangle pieces, first making +, then x with the knife.

Mix crumbled Feta cheese with beaten egg. Place about 1 teaspoon of filling on wider half of each small triangle. Roll triangles starting from the wider side. If you want the rolls to look nicer and ensure filling doesn't spill over during baking, fold the sides of triangles and then roll them. Place the rolls on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Do the same with the rest of the dough balls. You will need two large baking sheets. Let the rolls rest for 15 minutes before baking.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 355F (180C).

Brush the rolls with mixture of beaten egg and milk, and add sesame or caraway seeds on the top.

Bake them for 18-19 minutes until crust becomes golden.


Serve the rolls warm.





Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Grilled Mini Sweet Peppers with Garlic Marinade



It is hard to believe but my husband managed to delete whole post that I was working on, so that is one of the reasons why I am so behind with new recipes on my blog. Other reason is terrible flood in Serbia, my home country. It happened a month ago, and the town that was hit the worst is very close to where my family lives. That town, where I used to go to high school, looked like a large lake. I was so absorbed with the disaster that I couldn't do anything else except watch news and FB statuses of my friends who suffered from the flood, all day long.




Then, my son is off his school for the summer break which means I have to watch two small and very active kids all summer. Also, I have started jogging again, in the evenings after my daughter goes to sleep, that is my window of opportunity. After running, I have to water my little garden too. So my days, short as they are, are even shorter now.

Weekends became my favorite part of the week. At least I have my husband to help me out with the kids. On weekends we like to grill.  One week we make seafood, the next one pork or beef.
.



When I saw these mini sweet peppers in the supermarket I knew that I would put them on the grill. I loved their colors and I wanted them to be on skewers just for fun. Peppers and garlic go so well together. I recalled that Roasted Cubanella Peppers Salad with Garlic Dressing, I planned to create something similar to that. So I used the same ingredients for marinade and later for dressing. Grilled peppers with garlic were excellent choice, they went well with roasted pork meat and they looked colorful and fun on our plates. 




You need:

2lb mini sweet peppers

For marinade:

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
5 tablespoons of chopped chives
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons of white vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste



Steps:

Wash and rinse peppers. Make marinade mixing garlic, chives, olive oil, vinegar, salt and black pepper. Toss peppers in the marinade until they are evenly covered.

Place the peppers onto thin skewers, next time I will use two parallel skewers instead of one, it is easier to handle them. Save marinade leftover to use it as dressing later on.

Grill the peppers on both sides for few minutes until they get dark grill marks.

When they are done, serve them right away with garlic dressing poured over skewers.



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pistachio-Almond Heart Cookies



I am nuts for nuts. In addition to eating them whole and raw all the time, I like to use them in baking too. Almonds and pistachios are my favorites these days, the former for its taste, the latter for its color.


Look at those pretty cookies! I love their texture so much!




You need:

1 2/3 cup (210g) all-purpose flour + some for dusting
1/2 cup (50g) ground almonds
Pinch of salt
1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (100- 130g) confectioners' sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup (40g) unsalted pistachio, finely chopped


Steps:

Sift the flour, then combine it with a pinch of salt, ground almonds and half of pistachios.

In another large bowl mix softened butter with sugar until you get creamy mixture and then add egg yolk and vanilla extract. Stir in flour mixture until you get smooth and firm dough. Divide it into two disk shapes, wrap it with plastic foil and move to a fridge for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Line a large baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Dust a work surface and a rolling pin with flour, take one dough disk from the fridge and roll it out until it is about 4mm thick. Cut out cookies with hearth-shaped cutters. Sprinkle them with the rest of pistachios, then cover them with parchment paper, and roll with rolling pin again, to press pistachios into the dough. Place the cookies on the baking pan. Repeat with the rest of dough.

Bake cookies, on middle oven rack, until the edges start to become light brown, 8-10 minutes. Cool them on wire rack.





Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Homemade Mozart Chocolate Balls (Mozartkugeln, Mocart kugle)


I've been planning to make Mozart Chocolate Balls for a long time, ever since I found Kori's recipe for a homemade version. There is something special about these balls which applies to other European truffles as well: rich and sophisticated taste, nice packaging, long tradition and high price. Hello, Raffeallo Balls! Hello, Ferrero Rocher Balls! You can find homemade version recipes for both candies on my blog.


Is is not easy to find Mozartkugeln in America but still there are few here and there, especially around big holidays. They have layers of dark chocolate, marzipan, pistachio and Nutella. I know, it is not easy to find all ingredients and they are not cheap, so that is the reason it took me so long to make them. Although there is no baking involved, the preparation process is time consuming, but you will enjoy Mozart Chocolate Balls every bite. Longer they last, better the taste is.





You need for 20 balls:

440g marzipan (I used store-bought, but you can make it too)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional
50g unsalted pistachio, shelled, plus some for decoration
40g Nutella, frozen
150g dark chocolate + 4 tablespoons heavy cream


Steps:

Put Nutella in the freezer.

Grind pistachios in food processor.

Add 1/3 of marzipan to ground pistachio and mix it well until you get smooth green paste. Using your hands form the balls from this mixture, about 1/2 inch in diameter.

Add almond extract to the rest of marzipan and knead it well. Now, make the balls with this marzipan as well, but they should be bigger than pistachio's, about 1 inch in diameter.

Then, start to assamble Mozart's balls... first make a hole in pistachio ball with your index finger, fill it with 1/4 teaspoon frozen Nuttela chunk, roll it with hands to make ball shape again. Coat it with marzipan ball that you rolled out previously. Repeat the same with the rest.

When you are done making the balls, move them to freezer. In the meantime, melt the chocolate over steam and mix it with heavy cream. Dip frozen balls into melted chocolate using a fork, and place them on parchment paper. You can sprinkle some ground pistachio on top of the balls.

Move the balls to fridge to firm up chocolate coating and then place them into small paper liners. Keep them in fridge.




 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Whole Green Pea - Dill Soup with Dumplings



This is a great soup for early Spring, although I make it through the whole year thanks to frozen peas and dill... and this is rare dish that my whole family likes. Yes, my kids are very picky eaters.


Green peas are among early vegetables that my father produces in his garden. Their season is very short, and birds like to eat them too. But, the sweet taste of fresh peas and soft texture is something that you never forget. However, I am happy with frozen peas, I don't mind it at all. Even with frozen dill I am fine. This soup always goes with the dill, you should remember that.


Dumplings are addition of my hubby. His grandma used to make them. Although he is a meat-lover, he is a big fan of this vegetarian soup.





You need:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 large carrots, sliced
2lb frozen or fresh green peas
4-6 cups vegetable stock
Salt and black pepper to taste .
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

For dumplings:
2 eggs
8 tablespoons flour
80ml water
1/2 teaspoon salt


Steps:

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion, and after 3 minutes add minced garlic. In 1 minute put sliced carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add green peas and stir to coat. Pour in vegetable stock. Increase the heat until soup starts to boil and cook on low heat with a lid on for 15-20 minutes. Season it and add fresh dill.

In the meantime make the dumplings. Beat the eggs and add flour, water and salt. Stir it until you get loose batter. With teaspoon scoop the batter for each dumpling and immerse it into cooking soup. Batter is sticky and it may take few seconds in the hot liquid for dumpling to detach from the spoon. Dumplings are ready when they pop up. It will take 5 minutes or so.

Serve it hot.






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