Say ‘no’ to politics and crisis post

I’m not into politics. Not even a tiny little bit. But its influence just keeps crawling into my life with a triplesonic speed. Seriously, how should a normal citizen react when your income, your savings, your EVERYTHING is worth less every single day? Everyone is talking about nothing but rouble depreciation. I do not even work in finance any more, but I can still hear people talking about it basically everywhere. I even overheard a kid of about 14 talking to his friend over the phone about it. And the main problem is (and that is actually what scares me the most) that no one has a faintest idea of what will be next. Where we all will be in just a couple of months.

What I do know though is that we can survive anything. So here comes my culinary ‘no-to-politics-and-crisis-manifest’. An incredibly simple warm and comforting salad recipe made of homemade (or home grown) products:

  • Butternut squash (of my mum’s own growing), cut in medium cubes, 500g
  • 1 onion (of my mum’s own growing, too), minced
  • Arugula (of my own window-sill growing), 100g
  • Curd cheese (homemade by myself), 100g
  • Tomato cherries (well, okay, store-bought), cut in halves, 100g
  • Thyme (of my own window-sill growing, dried), 1/4 teaspoon
  • Honey (bought from local farm), 1 tbsp
  • Salt, sugar and pepper, to taste (hope we won’t run of those in our stores ever)
  • Olive oil (3 tbsp) and balsamic (1 teaspoon) (I will smuggle those if they stop selling them in Russia)

Butternut squash salad 1

Preheat your oven to 200ºC. Place the butternut squash cubes in a baking dish, sprinkle over 1 tbsp olive olive, thyme, a pinch of sugar, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bake for 15-20 min until soft and a slightly caramelized.

In a medium pan heat 1 tbsp olive oil, add onion, 1 tbsp sugar, season with salt and cook until soft and gold.

In a small bowl microwave honey on HI for about 20 sec, add 1 tbsp olive oil, balsamic, season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.

Now combine the salad. Mix arugula, fried onion and roasted butternut squash. Sprinkle over curd cheese.

Butternut squash salad_1

Top with cherry tomatoes and pour over honey and olive oil sauce.

Butternut squash salad_2

Enjoy while still warm. And don’t even think about any politics-and-crisis stuff! Better pour yourself a glass of wine… be tough! (so now I’m into poetry…)

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Oh autumn! Part 2: One happy camembert story

Being ‘sanctioned’ from most of the cheeses we like best (we literally don’t have them in our supermarkets here in Moscow), we were grocery-shopping like crazy during our trip to Austria and Italy. I believe it was quite a shock for local people making their everyday purchases to see our shopping basket loaded with what seemed like TONS of different kinds of cheese and ‘wurst’. Still, believe me, the effect on the airport guys was even stronger, especially when they had to check our backpacks filled with all the yummy camembert-parmesan-salami stuff =).

Anyway, when we got home I realised that I got sooo much cheese in that bout of esurience, that eating it just as a chaser while drinking wine would definitely not be enough to use it up before it goes bad (we don’t drink THAT much). So yesterday I decided to use some of the cheese up while cooking dinner. The idea was to use a fusion of eggplants (seriously, what’s wrong with me with all the eggplants?) and camembert to make a warm salad – I also added some sweet pepper and cilantro and it worked out really well! The mix is definitely something new – eggplants come all sweet and creamy making a great complement to crispy though tender fried camembert, with cilantro and pepper shaping it all in a nice, rich fusion!

You will need:

Eggplant and brie salad ingr

You will also need 1 tbsp sugar, a handful of breadcrumbs, 1 egg, 2 tbsp olive oil, some sesame seeds and a small sweet long pepper

Preheat your oven to 180ºC. Peel most of the skin off the eggplant (I say ‘most’, but you may of course leave it all if you like eggplant skin, it’s just that in this recipe I think it’s best to make the eggplants as tender and creamy as they can get and the skin just won’t be like that no matter how you cook it, but leaving some of it makes the eggplant look prettier), cut it into 4 stripes lengthwise, arrange the stripes on a baking sheet or a large plate, season with salt and leave them like that for 30 min. Then dab the eggplant stripes dry with a paper towel and cut them into 6-7 cm sticks. Cut the pepper in large pieces. Arrange the eggplant sticks and pepper on a baking tray covered with a baking sheet, season them with salt. Roast in the oven for 15-20 min until the veggies just start to shrivel and become tender.

Prepare the sauce. Put the teriyaki sauce and honey in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat for a couple of minutes, increase the heat to medium and then add sugar stirring until it fully dissolves. Take the sauce off the heat.

Remove the veggies from the oven and spread the sauce over them with a food brush. Increase the heat to 200ºC, switch the roasting mode to ‘grill’ if your oven has one. Put the veggies back in the oven on a top shelf and caramelize for just a couple of minutes. Remove them from the oven.

Cut camembert in 8 segments. In a small bowl beat up the egg, put the breadcrumbs in another bowl. Put camembert pieces first into egg and then into breadcrumbs. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and roast camembert pieces covered in breadcrumbs over medium heat for just a few minutes until golden brown and then take them out of the pan immediately.

To serve, put roasted eggplant sticks and pepper on each plate, top them with camembert pieces, sprinkle over the chopped cilantro, sweet pepper and sesame seeds.

To add extra freshness enjoy it with cucumber salad (just slice the cucumbers, season with salt and teriyaki sauce). And don’t forget to pour yourself a glass of wine – there’s camembert in this salad after all!))

Eggpland and brie salad

PS I promise I’ll stop cooking eggplants)

Oh, autumn! Part 1: mountains and pumpkin duet

Personally, I think autumn is just the best time of the year. Well, okay, not all autumn. And not everywhere. But two past weeks we spent in breathtaking Austrian Alps and sweet, sunny, welcoming and all-about-wine-and-food Italy. And that, I would say, is just the best possible way of living autumn through.

But first things first. I know this is not supposed to be a travel blog (and it is definitely not one), but there’s this one picture that we took while hiking in Schladming I just HAVE TO post.

Schladming

Isn’t that amazing? It’s all so incredibly fresh, verdurous, but at the same time somehow fantastically rich and sweet and juicy… And this fabulous jade-terracotta-amber carpet is all blueberry bushes!

And you know what? I have no idea of how my super-inventive-lunatic brain came up with this, but this picture somehow inspired me to cook a pumpkin soup)). Maybe colours? Well, who knows.

I really hope that this recipe will change the minds of those of you who find pumpkin dishes boring and not worth cooking at any price. With this recipe, you’ll find out that cooking pumpkins is extremely simple and the result usually exceeds all expectations!

Well, as usual, a picture of main ingredients below:

Pumpkin soup ingredients

You will also need:

– 200-300 ml chicken bouillon (beef or vegetable stock would also go, use one you like best)

– 100 ml light cream

– 1 tbsp sugar

– olive oil (and pumpkin oil if you happen to have some)

– 1/8 tbsp ginger and 1/8 tbsp nutmeg powder

– dried herbs (basil and thyme)

Cut the pumpkin in half, remove the skin, scoop out the seeds and fibres from the middle, cut the flesh into medium pieces. Peel and chop the onion and garlic cloves (leave one clove for rocket sauce). Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add chopped onion and garlic. Cook until they are softened and golden brown. Add the pumpkin flesh and herbs, season with salt, sugar and pepper. Cover with the lid and cook for 25-30 min until the pumpkin is soft, stirring from time to time to avoid burning. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool for 10 min.

Meanwhile, prepare the rocket sauce. Grind up rocket (I also added some fresh basil leaves) with 2 tbsp of pumpkin oil and garlic, season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Warm up the bouillon in a large casserole. Puree the cooled pumpkin-onion-garlic mix with a blender, add ginger and nutmeg and then pour the mixture in the casserole. Let it boil for a minute, take off the heat and add 50 ml cream, stir well.

To serve, pour the soup in the bowls, put a tbsp of rocket sauce and 2 tbsp of cream into each bowl, season with freshly ground pepper and paprika. Enjoy!

Pumpkin soup

Eggplants are fun: another vegetarian recipe

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not a vegetarian (although I do really think those people live a way more healthier life than we ‘meat-eaters’ do and I will probably become one myself some day). Anyway, as per now, I looooove meat and eat quite a lot of it. Still, somehow, I’ve been cooking a great deal of veggies this week. This ‘somehow’ is mainly a result of the fact that I have tons of greens in my fridge that I impulsively bought at the local market this week just because I know this variety will be gone soon with the winter coming. That’s kind of my ‘seasonal vegetables carpe diem’.

So yesterday I decided that eggplants would be a nice choice for a dinner and made an ‘eggplant parmigiana’. To be honest, not exactly a ‘parmigiana’. I live in Moscow and we are kinda short of that stuff right now (you probably already know that from the news, but if you don’t, just ignore it =) ). So instead of parmesan, I used some ‘grana padana’ cheese I still have in my cheese reserve and I replaced mozarella you would normally use in this recipe with curd cheese. Well, you have to get adjusted.

Ingredients_eggplantsand cheese

You will also need 50 g of flour, 1 tbs of sugar, 2 tbs of milk, 2 eggs, 100 g of bread crumbs, olive oil, salt, pepper and dried herbs for seasoning.

The preparation process itself is quite simple, although a bit time-consuming. Preheat your oven to 180ºC. Thinly slice the eggplants into 0.5-0.8 mm rounds, arrange them on a baking sheet or a large plate, season with salt and leave them like that for 30 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the sauce. Finely chop the onions, garlic and basil. Treat fresh tomatoes with boiling water for just about 30 seconds, peel the skin off the tomatoes, then chop them. In a large pan heat the olive oil, add onion and garlic and cook until they are golden brown. Add canned and fresh chopped tomatoes, basil and sugar, season with salt, pepper and dried thyme (or any other herb you like best). Cook for 10-15 min, stirring from time to time. 

By the time you prepare the sauce, your eggplants should be just ready. You will need three small bowls or plates you will dip the eggplants into. In the first bowl, put the flour, season it with salt and pepper. In the second bowl, beat up the eggs and milk and season the mixture with salt and herbs (thyme, basil, again, anything you like best). In the third bowl, put the bread crumbs and season them with salt and dried herbs. Now, put each eggplant slice in turn into flour, eggs and then bread crumbs. In a large pan, heat the olive oil and cook the eggplant slices until golden brown (1-2 min each side).

In a baking dish, put about 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom, top it with a layer of fried eggplants, put half of the boiled french carrots over the eggplants, then sprinkle a half of grated grana padana and curd cheese, then spoon another 1/3 of the sauce, then put a layer of eggplants and carrots again, then spoon the remaining sauce, end with the remaining cheese. Cook for about 35 minutes in the oven until the cheese is melted and nicely browned. Sprinkle over some fresh chopped basil before serving.

Eggplant parmegiano

Enjoy!

 

An easy autumn garnish: herby baked veggies

The autumn is unexpectedly just around the corner and I’m already thinking of warm and homy recipes which will make me feel at least a tiny-little-bit less freezing than I do now. So instead of crispy salads which did so much to us during this flaming summer, why not make a great baked quartet using seasonal veggies? You will most likely find all the stuff you need to cook this one in your fridge:

Ингредиенты с надписями

Preheat your oven to 200ºC. Slice potatoes crosswise into 0.8 mm slices, eggplants and red pepper into thin 0.5 mm stripes. Make X-shaped cuts in each of your cherry tomatoes. Put all the veggies on a baking tray covered with a baking sheet, drizzle some olive oil over them, spray some balsamic vinegar over the eggplants, season all with paprika, salt and a mix of herbs you like best (I used a mix of thyme, rosemary, basil, majroram and oregano). Put a couple of garlic cloves on the tray with the veggies (just to get this astonishing scent of garlic).

On a tray

Roast the veggies for 15-20 min until ready and nicely browned (the cherry tomatoes will be ready sooner, so you will need to take them out in just 5 min). Serve right out of the oven as a garnish to your evening meal.

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