Happy-Go-Lucky

Category: Kitchen Stories

French Week. Samedi. Le Creuset and the Tradition of French Cuisine.

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Le Creuset means as much as “the cauldron”. This iconic French manufacturer of cast – iron cookware in multiple colors dates back to 1925. Le Creuset signature color is Flame (intense orange), but nowadays products come in a wide range of colors and shades, making them a great addition to kitchen of all styles and colors.

Le Creuset is a French refinement in your kitchen, so versatile and elegant. If you take good care of them, they will serve for years and years to come. The price is quite high, but think of it as a long term investment rather than an extravagant purchase. As an extra benefit, they can make you feel like a real French chef and inspire some superb dinners!

I love Le Creuset casseroles and frying pans, they make me feel very confident in the kitchen, not to mention the joy of gathering all friends around a big cast – iron pot filled with a delicious dinner course!

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(Photos: http://www.lecreuset.ca)

French Week. Mercredi. Kitchen Stories. French Lemon Tart.

France is well known for its superb cuisine, which combined with champagne gives a taste of real joie de vivre. And what can be more pleasing than a generous slice of a lemon tart? If you decide to chose ready made tart bottom it is easy to prepare, yet still has the ability to add an elegant touch to a dinner party or an afternoon tea.

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French Lemon Tart.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lemons
  • 6 eggs
  • 60 g. of sugar
  • 250 g. of sweet thick cream

1. Wash lemons and press the juice.

2. In a small casserole mix lemon juice and sugar.

3. Bring to boil on a low heat, stirring frequently. Let the syroup simmer for about 10 minutes and so set aside to cool down.

4. Once cold, add cream and eggs. Mix well and bring to boil on a low heat. To prevent the tart filling from burning, continue to stir all the time.

5. Boil until the lemon cream starts to get thick, it should take about 5 minutes time.

6. Once ready, set aside to cool down and when cold, pour it into tart bottom.

7. Place the tart in the fridge for about 2 hours, allowing the lemon cream to set and thicken.

8. The lemon tart should be kept in the fridge all the time and served cold.

Bon appetit!

 

(Photo: http://www.taste.com.au)

Mirror Mirror on the Wall… Healthy Appetite.

To eat or not to eat, that’s the question… Just hold on! Is that really a question? I do hope not, as being thin to the limits of exhaustion is no more (and was it ever really…?) in fashion. The real question is what to eat to keep a healthy appetite and nourish your beauty “from the inside”.

Here a selection of some easily accessible grocery goods that are also rather affordable. It is by no means a complete list, as there are many more products that deserve place in your daily menu. It is just a beginning that one can extend according to preferences, tastes and individual needs.

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Pumpkin Seeds – a remedy for those who are struggling with skin imperfections; they contain a lot of zinc that helps to prevent acne.

Walnuts – a universal beauty remedy, serves well for shiny hair, spotless complexion and strong nails.

Grapefruit – its beautifying powers work wonders for skin troubled with imperfections as well as can strengthen blood vessels, preventing from varicose veins. If grapefruit is not a favorite fruit of yours, freshly pressed juice can be a good alternative.

Mango – works wonders for straightening the nervous system and encourages natural detox processes, reach in A, C and D vitamins as well as beta-carotene.

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Strawberries – help to conquer discoloration on complexion, great source of C vitamin as well as potassium, folic acid and fiber.

Honey – leaves skin more radiant and supports healing processes; it is a great substitute for sugar for those who need some sweetness in coffee or tea.

Sweet Potatoes – generous source of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and calcium as well as vitamin A and C.

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Tomatoes – rich in C vitamin that improves skin oxygenation and in E vitamin, that prevents skin from early aging. Dark

Dark Chocolate with min. 70% Cocoa – a great snack if eaten with moderation, rich source of potassium and magnesium nourishing the nervous system.

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Salmon – rich in Omega 3 fatty acids as well as B vitamin, helps to improve the skin condition, cure skin imperfection caused by acne, prevent wrinkles as well as helps to control hair loss; in case fresh or smoked salmon is not easy to find, Omega 3 capsules can serve as a substitute.

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Olive Oil – rich in E vitamin, makes skin look younger and more radiant.

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Water – at least 2 liters per day help to maintain the right hydration level, so do not forget to drink in addition to using hydrating beauty products, recent advice is to drink a full glass of water every 40 minutes. If working in the air-conditioned office, a generous bottle of water on your desk should be your daily companion.

Kitchen Stories. Mango Chicken.

Sharing my life with a “Well Travelled Gentleman”, I am often reduced to a Kitchen-For-One-Solution, what usually means eating out or having mozzarella and tomato salad (never get tired of it!). For me, cooking is first and foremost about people I cook for, not about the act of culinary creation, so if home alone, I rarely feel like making a proper dinner. However, I recently did feel like it, and being in a creative mood I came up with this super quick and quite nutritious dinner option. Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce you Mango Chicken.

Mango Chicken

Mango Chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 500g. of chicken breast fillet
  • 1 ripe mango
  • generous handful of unsalted cashew nuts
  • sweet chili sauce
  • salt
  • butter or oil for frying
  • cooked jasmine rice or rice noodles to serve with
  1. Rinse and dry chicken fillet. Cut into small slices about 1 cm. thick. Spice with salt.
  2. Wash and peel mango fruit. Cut it into small cubes about 1,5 x 1,5 cm in size, removing the inedible core parts.
  3. Heat butter or oil on a frying pan. Fry chicken slices until they start to get browned.
  4. Add mango cubes and sweet chili sauce, stir frequently. Fry for 3 – 4 more minutes depending on the mango texture that you prefer – if you like it harder, remove from the heat a little bit earlier; if soft and creamy, adjust cooking time accordingly.
  5. Add cashew nuts, stir well and serve alongside jasmine rice or rice noodles.

Bon appetit!

(Photo: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com)

Kitchen Stories. Carrot Cake.

Carrot cake is one of the cakes that you meet so often nowadays, that it is easy to take it for granted and forget about its sweet charms. Nothing more misleading, as it should be fully appreciated! It is a perfect everyday cake, that makes an excellent breakfast, a treat you look forward to if packed into a lunchbox or a sweet weekend delight with a cup of savory coffee and a good reading. Personally I prefer the moderate version, with no sugar icing on top, as I like the rustic look of it, not to mention the preference on less sugar and less calories, but it can be as sugarcoated as you can possibly imagine. The beauty is it versatileness – it is equally good in all shapes, sizes and on all occasions!

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Carrot Cake.

Ingredients:

  • 500 g. of all purpose flour
  • 3 glasses of grated raw carrot (best to chose sweet and young)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cube of butter
  • 1 glass of sugar
  • 2 ss. of honey
  • a pack of gingerbread spices ***
  • a handful of chopped walnuts
  • 2 ts. of baking soda

*** If you can’t find the gingerbread spices, make your own mix of powdered cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves with a pinch of pepper; you should make around 20 g. of the bland with dominating notes of cinnamon, cardamom and ginger.

  1. Mix all ingredients until you get a dough that has a density of a thick cream.
  2. Pour the dough into the baking form that is greased with butter and sprinkled with bread crumbs.
  3. Bake the cake at 180 C degrees for around an hour (or a little longer if needed) until a stick that you spike the cake with is clean when you remove it.

Bon appetit!

(Photo: www.bbcgoodfood.com)

Kitchen Stories. Orange Marmalade.

Although winter season is not primarily known as the season for fruit preserves and marmalades, there is one exception from the grand rule – orange marmalade. It is fairly easy to make and with some effort can introduce an old fashioned charm of home made preserves. Moreover, if you have enough time and invention, there are countless options for labeling and decorating jars that in turn make a lovely and thoughtful present, as a touch of sweet affection is a truly memorable gift.

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Orange Marmalade.

Ingredients:

  • 1,5 kg. of oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 liter of water
  • 1 kg. of sugar
  1. Wash well oranges and lemons. Set aside two oranges and one lemon.
  2. From remaining fruits remove the peel as thin as you can, avoiding to leave on a white layer (I usually use potato peeler that proves to be an excellent choice). Remove the white layer, so the inside parts or oranges and lemon are free of any peel leftovers.
  3. Chop oranges and lemon peel into thin slices.
  4. Two whole oranges and one whole lemon, that you originally set aside, cut into small pieces without peeling.
  5. Cut peeled fruits into small cubes, removing all stones or any peel leftovers.
  6. In a big bowl place all chopped fruits layered with chopped peel. Having done that pour into the bowl 1/4 liter of cold water and covered place in the fridge for 24 hours. Stir it once each few hours.
  7. White leftovers of peel and any fruit stones place into another bowl and cover with cold water. As with oranges, set aside for 24 hours.
  8. After 24 hours place all fruits and peel into a casserole in which you will fry the marmalade. Add in water drained from the second bowl, where you kept white peel and stones. Cover the casserole and bring to boil.
  9. Once boiling, remove the cover and let it simmer for 40 minutes, stirring every now and then.
  10. After this time add sugar and continue to fry on a small heat, so marmalade simmers for about 1,5 – 2 hours.
  11. To check whether marmalade is ready, place a spoonful on a plate and evaluate the density once it is cold. If consistency is too liquid for your liking, you may want to add some more sugar or fry a bit longer.
  12. Hot marmalade place into clean and dry jars. Once done, twist them well, so they close properly.
  13. When jars are locked, place them upside down and leave like this until they are quite cold.

Bon appetit!

(Photo: www.bbcgoodfood.com)

Kitchen Stories. Cocoa Cake.

The recipe for Cocoa Cake “runs in my family” and is in the background of many childhood memories, which is not a coincidence, as it is so easy to make that even a busy mother of two found time for baking. Needless to say each and every time to a delightful result.

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Cocoa Cake.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 glass of sugar
  • 2 ss. of cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 ts. of cinnamon
  • 4 ss. of strawberry marmalade
  • 1/2 of a margarine or butter stick (counting whole stick as 200 g.)
  • 1 glass of milk
  • 3 glasses of all purpose flour
  • 1 ss. of baking soda
  1. Mix all ingredients together until they form a consistent dough. There is no need to follow any special order, except adding baking soda at the very end.
  2. Pour the dough into a baking form that was greased with butter and sprinkled with breadcrumbs.
  3. Bake the cake at 180 C degrees for around 45 – 50 minutes (or a little longer if needed) until a stick that you spike the cake with is clean when you remove it.

Cocoa Cake can be baked in all forms used as a base for more elaborate cakes, layered with chocolate, cream or marmalade, so this recipe should be treated as a base that even without extras is quite delicious.

Bon appetit!

(Photo: www.bbcgoodfood.com)

Kitchen Stories. Berlinerkranser.

“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat”… but before we light the candles and watch out for the Santa Clause, there is still plenty of time for baking, and nothing makes the spirit brighter than a plate of “Berlinerkranser”.

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Berlinerkranser.

Ingredients:

  • 1 hard boiled egg yolk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 60 g. of sugar
  • 125 g. of butter (in room temperature)
  • 175 g. of all purpose flour
  • 1 egg white
  • chopped almonds
  1. Crush hard boiled egg yolk with a fork. Add sugar and mix well. Add butter and flour, continue to mix.
  2. Work the dough well. When ready, wrap in a plastic foil and place in a fridge for 1 hour.
  3. Separate small portions of dough, form them so each one is a roll 5mm thick and 10 cm long.
  4. Form cookies, by crossing both ends of a roll somewhere in the middle, so each cookie look like a small bow.
  5. Place cookies on a baking plate covered with a sheet of baking paper. Smear cookies with egg white and sprinkle some chopped almonds and/or sugar on top.
  6. Place form in an oven preheated to 190 C degrees, bake cookies for approximately 10 minutes, until they are golden on top.

The best way to store cookies is to keep them in a metal tin. Be careful, as they are very crusty and easy to break.

Bon appetit!

(Photo: www.frotvedt.no)

Kitchen Stories. Christmas Cookies.

December is the time to roll up your sleeves, fetch flour, butter and some sugar and.. start baking those wonderful Christmas cookies. The earlier you make them, the more delicious they are going to be, providing they will last till Christmas Eve…

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Christmas Cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 150 g. of butter
  • 250 g. of all purpose flour
  • 2 ss. of baking soda
  • 2 ss. of vanilla sugar
  • 100 g. of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • chopped nuts and almonds
  1. Mix butter, flour, baking soda and vanilla sugar in a big bowl, add sugar and egg and work the dough well.
  2. Form the dough into a big roll (5 – 6 cm. in diameter). Cut small portions of the dough and form a cookie from each and every one of them.
  3. Place all cut cookies on a baking plate covered with a sheet of baking paper. Smear them with egg white and sprinkle some chopped nuts and almonds on top. If you have a particularly sweet tooth, you may substitute nuts with sugar or mix both.
  4. Place form in an oven preheated to 175 C degrees, bake cookies for approximately 15 minutes, until they get golden on top. Keep an eye on them, as 1 minute too long may change golden cookies into burned disaster.

*** If you feel like raising a difficulty level higher, you may roll the dough and cut shapes with Christmas cookie cutters. If you work the dough well, it is very easy and cookies look more elegant on the Christmas table.

Bon appetit!

(Photo: www.ultra.no)

Kitchen Stories. Nothing Like Pasta…

… to make you day. Especially if the day was long, you are tired and cooking for hours just wouldn’t do, although a little plate of heaven is exactly what you need? Impossible? With pasta everything is possible!

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Creamy Mushroom Pasta.

Ingredients:

  • Good quality italian pasta
  • Fresh or frozen mushrooms (mushroom mix or just you favorite type)
  • Meat (chicken breast or pork tenderloin)
  • Box of heavy cream (30% fat)
  • Onion
  • Chopped fresh dill
  • Roasted pine nuts, chopped walnuts or grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper, chili powder

*** Quantities of ingredients depend on number of servings as well as personal preference. If you want the dish to be more filling, use more meat; if mushrooms should dominate, adjust the amount accordingly. In general, the most generous ingredient should be pasta, as it makes base for all other ingredients.

  1. Set a big casserole filled with water, add salt and bring to boil, cook pasta al dente. It is best to measure the time well and drain pasta just before finishing the sauce.
  2. While waiting for pasta to cook, prepare creamy sauce.
  3. Fry sliced meat with chopped  vegetables (onion and mushrooms), spice with salt and pepper.
  4. When meat and vegetables are ready, reduce the heat and add heavy cream.
  5. Spice with chopped dill and add chili powder for extra flavor. Continue to stir, while you reduce the sauce until it becomes thick. Be careful not to overdo it, as cream can’t be boiled.
  6. Add cooked pasta to the sauce, mix and serve with selected topping, choosing from roasted pine nuts, chopped walnuts or grated parmesan cheese.

Bon appetit!

PS. This recipe makes a great vegetarian dish if you delete meat from the list of ingredients.

(Photo: http://www.taste.com.au)