I've been busy baking and stuffing, and sowing and drawing, and packing ( and snacking), but I wanted to say a very Merry Christmas to you all!
Since we've come to the US I started a tradition in our house- to bake cookies and give them away to friends. It's huge fun to do that with the kids and I'm sorry that my son missed most of the baking this year, since he was at school but since my daughter is older now, she has been helping me a lot this year. No kidding, she made the Sugarplums all by herself .
This year's cookie menu included the mentioned Sugar plums, some Mint and chocolate refrigerator cookies, Amaretti, some Turkish baklava with chocolate and Puff pastry sugar swirls.
So, here is our Christmas in cookie colors! I hope you enjoy it!
I didn't have the time to take beautiful pictures that day but the cookies were delicious none the less :-)
We had a friend coming over and it was a special occasion and I wanted the table arrangement to be different. I had very little time and I had to use imagination, pair of scissors, some ribbon and candles and sparkle stones. I have used only things I found at home, I didn't buy anything especially for it.
The first banana bread I baked was in the bread maker.
I used one of the recipes in the handbook that came with the bread maker...and it came out awful! It was under baked, it was sticky and gooey.
Only I know about this bread though, because I didn't serve it. ( thanks, Julia Child ;-)) But trust me, there were tears in my eyes when I threw it away. I hate wasting food!
There were couple more experiments ( even one where my better half substituted the sugar with salt accidentally), but even when it came out good it still wasn't what I had in mind when I thought of banana bread.
I started to think that the problem is in the bread maker, not the ingredients.
So, I decided to make banana bread in the regular oven and change the initial recipe a little bit.
Now THIS IS BANANA BREAD!!!
It was everything you dreamed of - from the warm bananas aroma that comes out of it, to the cloudy texture when you chew it!
Try it and you won't regret it!
You will need:
(liquid ingredients) 3 eggs 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup vegetable oil 1 tsp vanilla 3 soft bananas
2 1/2 cups flour 1 tbsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
( topping) Powdered sugar for topping
1. Preheat the oven at 350 F. In a large bowl mix the liquid ingredients- eggs, sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla and bananas.
2. In another bowl sift together the dry ingredients-flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients gradually and stir well.
4. When you all of the dry ingredients are incorporated and the batter looks smooth, add the pecans( walnuts), then transfer it to a greased 10 inch baking pan ( I used 10 " by 3 " high baking pan, but you can use a spring form as well), and bake for 35-40 minutes or until ready.
5. When done, let it rest on a baking rack for 10 minutes, then place in a serving plate and coat with powdered sugar.
Miyazaki is one of my favorite directors and as a huge fan of "Kiki's delivery service", " Castle in the sky", "Howl's moving castle" etc, I couldn't miss to introduce this movie to my kids!
We all LOVED it!
I've talked about how my kids love to eat "movie" food and while we were watching " Ponyo" I was certain that we'll have Ponyo's noodles for diner! :-)
And here is the recipe, for Ponyo's 3 minute noodles!
You will need:
4 packaged ramen instant noodles * 8 cups vegetable, chicken or beef broth ( better freshly made!) 2 eggs 1 thin sliced zucchini 4 thin sliced baby carrots 1 cup ham ( cut on stripes, cubes or whatever you like) 1 cup chopped green onions 1 tbsp butter pinch of salt and black pepper
* Note: You can use any kind of noodles or even spaghetti, but if you want to keep true to the movie( and my kids are like that!), this is the kind of noodles they use there- 3 minute instant noodles! I myself am not a huge fan of instant food, that's why I use only the noodles from a package, not the dry spices package! That's why I recommend to use real chicken broth and spices, instead of the prepackaged ones!
1. Cut the carrots and zucchini, then cut the ham and green onions.
2. Place the broth in a pot on high. When it starts boiling, add the noodles and stir well for 1 minute.
3. Add the butter,salt, pepper, zucchini, ham and carrots, then turn of the stove and place the lid on the pot and leave it for 2 minutes more.
4. Serve in bowls garnished with green onions and one half of the boiled eggs.
This is one of the recipes I've always "feared" as very complicated ( as pretty much everything that needs caramelized sugar!). So I postponed it as long as I could, but since we went to Samascott orchards the previous week and I had 2 large bags of ripe plums and I made all the plum jam we can eat, I had to do something with the rest of them.
And I remembered this scrumptiously delicious recipe that has been sitting and waiting in my recipe book long enough! I might add that when I remember the sweetly-sour taste when my mom used to make it, the spongy-delicious crust soaked in caramelized syrup...I had no doubts I should go for it!!!
It actually turned out sooo much easier than I expected!!! I took me 17 minutes to make the tart ready to go in the oven!
- plums enough to cover the bottom of the pan ( when cut in half) you are going to bake the tart in. It is usually around 15 to 20 plums, depending on the size of the plums
- 1 and 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 stick butter ( 8 tbsp/ 4 oz /115 grams)
- 3/4 cups water
The tart batter:
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tbsp Baking powder
- 3 tbsp water
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tbsp cinnamon
- Wash, cut in halves and take the seed out of the plums.
- On the bottom of the pan you are going to bake the tart in, place the ingredients for caramelized sugar- 1 cup sugar, 1 stick butter and 3/4 cups water. Place over medium-high heat on the stove! Stir constantly with a wooden spoon and be careful not to overheat the sugar!
The sugar is supposed to look like that in stages before it's ready:
stage 1- light and bubbly
stage 2- Light and creamy
stage 3- Fluffy and starting to crystallize
stage 4- Beginning to change color and becoming liquefied ( be careful not to make it too dark!)
stage 5- this is how it's supposed to look like before you place the plums on top. At this stage if you let it cool down it would become as hard as glass.
- When you take the baking pan off the stove, it's time to fix up the batter in a jiffy! So, beat the 3 eggs with 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Mix the flour and baking powder together and then add it slowly to the batter, while stirring with a spatula ( or you can use Stir option on your mixer if you have it). As a last thing add the 3 tablespoons of water.
- Place the cut in halves plums bottom up over the caramelized sugar. Then, using a spoon, spread the batter evenly over the plums.
Adding the chopped walnuts over the batter and sprinkling with with some cinnamon are optional, but I think it adds to the flavor!
- Bake on 350F for 30-40 min or until golden on top. It's supposed to look like that:
- When you take it out of the oven, let it stand for 2-3 min and then turn the tart over a plate with the bottom up immediately. Let it cool down and soak in the syrup from the caramel ( you'll notice that when you turn it over). You can serve warm or cold, depending on preference, but do not serve until it has soaked all the syrup!It tastes better with it!
- You can garnish with vanilla ice cream or sour cream.
It's unbelievably delicious, so I have no doubts you are going to enjoy it!
In Bulgarian/ На Български Съставки: - Пресен плод: сини сливи, колкото да покрият дъното на тавата, когато са разрязани на две. Обикновено са 15-20 сливи, в зависимост от големината на плода.
- За карамелизираната захар:
1 и 1/2 ч.ч захар
115 грама масло
3/4 ч.ч вода
- Измийте, срежете наполовина и извадете костилките от сините сливи.
- На дъното на тавата, в която ще печете сложете съставките за карамелизираната захар, включете котлона на 3 и бъркайте непрекъснато с дървена лъжица. Вижте снимките по-горе, през какви етапи минава захарта, преди да стане на карамел! Внимавайте да не прегорите карамела ( ако котлона ви е силен), защото ще започне да горчи!
- След като свалите тавата от котлона е време да забъркате тестото! Разбийте яйцата със захарта докато утроят размера си като количество. Отделно пресейте заедно брашното, бакпулвера и добавете към яйцата като бъркате бавно с лъжица ( или кухненска силиконова шпатула). Ако имате опция " Разбъкрване" на миксера си, използвайте нея. Добавете 3-те супени лъжици вода.
-Сложете сливите с разрязаното надолу към карамела в тавата, след това излейте тестото отгоре като разнесете равномерно с лъжица. Тестото трябва едва да покрива сливите!
- Добавете орехите отгоре и поръсете с канела. Ако не обичате едно от двете или двете, може да пропуснете тази стъпка.
- Печете на 180 за 30-40 мин или докато се зачерви отгоре.
- След като извадите от фурната оставете за минута-две да изстине( не повече!) и обърнете в/у чинията, в която ще сервирате. карамелът ще е станал на сироп, който постепенно ще попие в сладкиша и ще му придаде много характерен и деликатен вкус! Оставете го да престои докато поеме целия сироп!
- Сервирайте изстинал, с гарнитура от сладолед или заквасена сметана!
Да ви е сладко!
Very long and complicated title, I know! No time to make it short and it says what the food is, so I guess it will do.
For the longest time I though that the best way to make chicken livers is baked with butter and spices, but that was until I tried this way of preparing them.
You will need:
1 lbs chicken livers
1 cup sliced white onions
1 cup diced green peppers
1/2 cup julienne carrots
1 diced tomato
3 tbsp ( preferably fresh) mint, chopped
1 lager beer
1 tsp paprika
salt, pepper to taste
2 tbsp butter
1. Preheat the oven at 400F. Wash and clean thoroughly the chicken livers! Be very careful and if you notice a yellow or green spot anywhere discard them immediately!
2. In a large baking pan spread the chicken livers and put the sliced onions on top.
3. Add the green peppers, carrots, tomatoes and mint.
4. Slowly pour the lager beer on one side of the pan. Try not to "foam" it too much! Then add the paprika, salt and pepper and butter on top.
5. Bake at 400F for 40 min or until done. Serve warm with side of fresh salad, fresh lemon, steamed rice or mashed potatoes.
* On the picture I've served with mashed potato flowers, cucumber and onion salad topped with "tomato tulip" stuffed with ricotta cheese, the inside of the tomatoes, garlic and spices salad. If you are interested how I cut the tomatoes, here is a picture up close: