Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Baltic Potato Bake with Ricotta-Filling

This was the last dish for this month's Cook Around the Globe event. Basically, this dish is like a large baked potato pancake with ricotta filling. The taste was a little on the subtle side but I thought it was still a nice dish. HubbyGrouch did not like this dish - he didn't even finish his serving. LittleGrouch, on the other hand, declared he liked it "a little bit" and emptied his plate. I guess he comes after his mommy and is turning out to be a potato-lover.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Poland: Chicken Croquettes with Mushrooms

I while ago, I had some leftover mushrooms and tried to come up with a way of using them (as I am not a particular fan of mushrooms, I had to find a way of hiding them somehow in the dish). I thought of preparing turkey patties with mushrooms and rosemary. When I was looking through recipes for Eastern European dishes for this month's Cook Around the Globe, I stumbled upon this recipe which perfectly fit my original idea. I took the first few bites from these croquettes and had a big surprise. They taste was so familiar! Then I realized that they reminded me (more than that, their taste and texture was like) the Nuremberg-style bratwürste I had bought at Trader Joe's a while back. Which is amazing because those little sausage contain neither chicken nor mushrooms! So instead of the expected new flavor experience, I had childhood memory dinner tonight.
I still have to catch up with a lot of blog posts from this months. I was busy working on an Advent Calendar for LittleGrouch. I finally finished and hope to go full speed ahead with all the backed-up post I have to write. This is a picture of what I have been working on:

Advent Calendar with a little goodie for each day until Christmas.


Russian-Style Pickled Tomatoes

I was first introduced to this delicacy a few years back by a Russian friend of mine. He prepared a Russian dinner for his birthday with these tomatoes as appetizer. This recipe is not exactly the one he gave me (I unfortunately lost that one). I don't think that recipe had oil; and I am not so sure about the sugar. He also might have added some pepper. I will try different variations of these tomatoes and see which one I like best. However, the taste of these tomatoes is great. They are well infused with dill and garlic flavor. Traditionally, they are part of the Russian appetizer buffet (zakusky) and best accompanied by a shot of vodka. This recipe will also be linked up with this month's Cook Around the Globe event.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Baltic Pirogies with Carrot-Filling

I could not do a session of Eastern European Cooking without at least once preparing pirogi/varenky/pelmeni or whatever other names there are for those stuffed little goodies. I chose a vegetarian filling but basically there are at least as many recipes as families and you can stuff the dough with whatever you like. Make sure to season the filling well. A little variation (although not authentic) is to add some cheese to the carrot stuffing or to sprinkle the pirogi with cheese for some additional flavor and crust. I would like to try more varieties of these but labor-intense recipes do not always pair well with two little kids. This recipe will also be linked to this month's Cook Around the Globe event.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Meal Plan for November 26 - December 2, 2011

This week's meal plan features the final Eastern European dishes for this month's Cook Around the Gobe.

Saturday: Baltic Red Beet Soup

Sunday: Baltic Beef Zrazy (Baltic-Style Beef Rouladen)

Monday: Baltic Pirogi with carrots and eggs

Tuesday: Chicken Mushroom Patties

Wednesday: Mashed Potato Bake

Thursday: Marseille-Style Shrimp Stew (from Food & Wine)

Friday: Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Chickpeas and Feta (from Bon Appetit)

Go to Menu Plan Monday to check out lots of other meal plans and ideas for this week's dinners.

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Baltic Beef Zrazy (Baltic-Style Rouladen of Beef)

I love German-style beef rouladen. So when I found this recipe for Baltic rouladen, I simply had to include it in my exploration of Eastern European cooking for this month's Cook Around the Globe. Wow, I really loved this dish! These rouladen are at least as good as the German ones I grew up with - maybe even a little better :-)  I served them with Spätzle (German egg-noodles) and red cabbage, but you can choose the sides according to your taste. Lucky me that there is a lot of leftover sauce. I have mentioned a few times that I am a sauce-junkie. So I can enjoy this fantastic sauce with potatoes or dumplings later this week.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Baltic Red Beet Soup

I have always very strongly disliked (not to say hated) red beets. I have very strong and repelling memories of the cooking odors of red beets. The strong earthiness of the smell made me feel constricted, almost unable to breathe - and after preparing this dish and being exposed to the smell for the first time in about 20 years, I must say: nothing has changed. The second I opened the can of red beets, I regretted having chosen this dish. So why did I do it in the first place? Well, this month of Cook Around the Globe is dedicated to some Eastern European countries and HubbyGrouch for some reason likes red beets and had been asking about borshch for some time. I finally gave in when I found this recipe that had red beets in a smaller amount than what I had seen before, and it also called for canned, rather than fresh beets. After enduring the awful smell emanating from the can and then from the pot, the soup was finally ready. Turned up, I actually liked it and there was just the slightest hint of beet flavor! I probably used less beets
than the recipe had called for. Next time, I should increase the amount of beets to 1 1/2 or 2 cans. I hope the I would still like the soup then. HubbyGrouch complained a little that the soup didn't have the beet-taste. Well, it was a compromise, wasn't it?

Six months ago: Herring in Yogurt Sauce


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Poland: Poached Halibut in Cream Sauce & Baked Potato Patties

These are two fantastic recipes from Poland. I love potatoes in all shape and form, and this fish dish just sounded great - I simply had to try it. I couldn't find halibut, though, and used haddock instead. I guess you can use most types of white fish with firm flesh for this dish. The wine and bacon give a great flavor. If you can't find crème double for the sauce, just mix about equal amounts of sour cream and heavy cream together and whip this up. Not surprisingly, HubbyGrouch wasn't very excited when I told him what we were having for dinner. The prospect of a fish-and-potato dish did not please him at all. But in the end, he liked final outcome of the fish and potato patties. As you might have guessed, we are not celebrating Thanksgiving, but this dinner was sure worthy of a holiday. This post will also be linked to November's Cook Around the Globe roundup.

Six months ago: Chicken Wingettes and Drumettes with Apricot Glaze


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Russia: Plov (Lamb and Rice Pilaf)

"Plov" is the Russian version of pilaf/risotto. There are countless different versions to be found: from savory to sweet, with or without meat, with fruit..... We greatly enjoyed this dish. The flavor of the lamb combined the tart fruitiness of the prunes was delicious. This is another recipe that will be linked to this month's Cook Around the Globe event. The original recipe called for lamb fillet, which is not easy to find here. I used bone-in shoulder chops instead. I cut them into cubes and left the bones in the pan while cooking to get some extra flavor. I had neither lamb nor vegetable stock at hand, so I used chicken stock instead.

Six months ago: French Toast


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lithuanian Potatoes in Sour Cream

Here is super yummy potato recipe. I had it as my main dish for dinner with a side salad. If you prefer, you can of course have it as a side with some meat. For a vegetarian version, just leave out the bacon. This recipe will also be linked to this month's Cook Around the Globe roundup.

Six months ago: Pretzel Sticks with Cheese and Salami


Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Meal Plan for November 19 - 25, 2011

This week's meal plan features LittleGrouch's birthday party as well as more Eastern European dishes for this month's Cook Around the Gobe.

Saturday: Kids' Birthday Buffet

Sunday: Leftovers

Monday: Currywurst with French Fries

Tuesday: Pizza
               Lithuanian Potatoes in Sour Cream

Wednesday: Poached Halibut in Cream Sauce
                    Baked Potato Patties

Thursday: Plov (Russian Lamb and Rice Pilaf)

Friday: Leftovers

Go to Menu Plan Monday to check out lots of other meal plans and ideas for this week's dinners.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kids' Birthday Party

For LittleGrouch's birthday party, I wanted to something different from the "cake-with-ice-cream-and-delivered-pizza" routine that happens at' I knew it would have been the easy way out but I love to plan and execute menus. There was a cake, of course, some colorful fruits & veggies, plus a meat and a vegetarian option for the main course. So here is what we had:

Creamy Chocolate Layer Cake

This is the cake a prepared for LittleGrouch's birthday party. He wanted a chocolate cake, and as he loves the "Cars" movies, I decided to decorate the cake with his favorite characters.

Six months ago: Broccoli and Shrimps

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pre-Party Pizza

An easy dish at the eve of LittleGrouch's birthday party. For the recipe, click here.

Turkey & Beef Patties

Turkey Patties
Beef Patties

Whole Wheat Blueberry Tray-Baked (Breakfast) Cake

It's time again for the Secret Recipe Club - and this time no freak snow storm prevented me from participating. I was assigned Avanika's blog Yumsilicious Bakes. HubbyGrouch is not much of a cake eater, so I don't do a lot of baking. Except when some of my favorite fruits for cakes (sour cherries, prunes) are in season. Then I bake tray-baked cakes and freeze them to have a snack when I need something slightly sweet and fruity with a cup of hot cocoa in the winter. So at first I was a bit at a loss of what recipe to choose. There are many yummy recipes on Avanika's blog but with no bake sale coming up, I didn't want to prepare something that I would end up throwing out because there would be no one to eat it. I finally decided to prepare the Blueberry Breakfast Cake. The combination of whole wheat flour and yogurt sounded interesting and I thought this cake would be great for freezing. I know it's called "breakfast cake" but for me, cake is an afternoon snack - I prefer a savory breakfast. That's why I changed the title of the recipe for my post. Avanika had actually prepared this recipe for last month's SRC from the blog Every Little Thing, whose author in turn had adapted it from the blog Eat, Live, Run. I made a few changes to adapt the recipe to my personal preferences: I doubled the recipe and baked the cake on a tray. I used white whole wheat flour instead of whole grain pastry flour (because I couldn't find the latter. I am not sure it makes a big difference, though.). I left out the cinnamon (I really don't like cinnamon!) I contemplated replacing it with nutmeg or allspice but then decided to just leave it out completely. I only used 1 dash of salt instead of 1/2 tsp (in my opinion, there is no need to put that much salt in any cake). For my taste, there should be more blueberries, next time I will use 5-6 cups instead of just 4. Only now as I was writing this post did I actually check out the original recipe. And I found that the streusel were supposed to have almonds. So next time, I will either add chopped almonds or walnuts (I love walnuts and I think they will go very well with the blueberries) to the streusel and see how that works out. I guess you can conclude that I loved the cake from my mentioning a "next time". What I love about this cake is its fruitiness and moisture. Great recipe!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Simple Tomato Sauce

When I deciding on the buffet for LittleGrouch's birthday party, I wanted to include a vegetarian option, of course. As most kids like pasta with tomato sauce, this seemed the best and easiest option. The sauce can be prepared 2-3 days in advance (and kept in the fridge), which conveniently distributes the work that needs to be done.

Poland: Mushroom-Filled Pancakes

Here is another great find for this month's Cook Around the Globe. In my experience, when Americans hear the word "pancake" they automatically think "breakfast". For me, pancakes for breakfast are a rather new thing. I consider pancakes a (sweet or savory) main dish, appetizer or dessert. This is how they are being consumed in a variety of European kitchens. These Polish pancakes are very thin, made from a very liquid batter - they resemble French crêpes. I might have mentioned before that I really don't like mushrooms. I don't  mind the taste so much but I really dislike their texture. However, this dish sounded so delishes that I just had to try it out - and I loved it! I chopped the mushrooms up instead of slicing them to avoid the texture. I also added some bacon and white wine which were not in the original recipe. The result was so good, HubbyGrouch and I finished almost the whole amount! This recipe sure is a keeper!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hamburger Buns

Instead of buying burger buns - which in my humble opinion are too sweet as well as to floppy - I decided to make my own. They turned out very cute and tasty. And above all, they freeze really well. Just prepare them as directed, let them cool to room temperature, then put them in a freezer bag. When ready to serve, put them in the microwave (20 sec for 1 or 2, 25 seconds for 3 or 4), then toast on low. Or, if you have more time and prefer it that way, let them thaw at room temperature, about 30 minutes. I put them in the toaster uncut. That way, they stay soft and moist on the inside and get slightly crunchy on the outside. Split them and fill in your patties and toppings - voilà!

Momma Rochelle's Gumbo

I like to eat hot and spicy dishes but as HubbyGrouch has a rather low tolerance for spicy, I usually keep the heat down. So, I was rather surprised when he picked out this Cajun dish. I didn't make it very intense and we both enjoyed it. The fact that the chicken is not IN the gumbo but placed on top, made us a bit skeptical at first. But it is in fact a nice way of eating this dish. I guess this dish will show up again on my meal plan when I want to use the remaining sausages I had bought for this dinner.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dinosaur Cookies

I prepared these cookies as LittleGrouch`s birthday snack in preschool. The kids hat lots of fun naming the different dinosaurs and choosing colors. I love the vanilla flavor of these cookies. But to eat one, I had to wait for LittleGrouch to be off to bed because he considered the leftovers his personal property. That`s what I get for preparing nice treats: I basically have steal them if I want to try.

Six months ago: Apple Walnut Waffles

Monday, November 14, 2011

Poland: Veal Goulash

Here is a great recipe for veal goulash. According to my cookbook, this is a Polish dish. (I will link it up with this month's Cook Around the Globe.) Sometimes when I look at recipes that are supposed to from a particular country or region, I have serious doubts about the authenticity. I don't claim to be an expert for any kind of world cuisine, but sometimes the ingredients just don't fit my perception and idea of a particular kitchen. This recipe is one of them. I would not have expected allspice as a main flavor contributor in an Eastern European dish. However, this goulash was just damn tasty and delicious. The meat was very tender, the sauce creamy and flavorful. That's definitely a keeper!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Belarusian Vegetable-Filled Potato Roll

Here is a Belarusian recipe for this month's Cook Around the Globe. When I found this recipe, it sounded like a great idea. It's basically a baked and stuffed potato dumpling. However, the mashed potatoes turned out rather sticky and I had to use breadcrumbs and plastic wrap to be able to form the roll. I can only guess that I maybe shouldn't have cut the potatoes in dice for boiling, they might have taken up too much water. Or maybe the amount of butter added to the potatoes is just too high. Besides this technical difficulty, I liked the dish - especially with some brown gravy on the side. HubbyGrouch didn't much like this dish, though. He is just not a (mashed) potato person.

Six months ago: Homemade Pizza


Meal Plan for November 12 - 18, 2011

This week's meal plan features LittleGrouch's birthday cake as well as more Eastern European dishes for this month's Cook Around the Gobe.

Saturday: Chocolate Cake with Apple-Cream Filling
                Rigatoni with Swordfish and Tomatoes (from Food & Wine)

Sunday: Belarusian Vegetable-Filled Potato Roll

Monday: Veal Goulash

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Momma Rochelle's Gumbo (from Food & Wine)

Thursday: Mushroom-Filled Pancakes

Friday: Baltic Beef Zrazy (Baltic-Style Rouladen of Beef)

Go to Menu Plan Monday to check out lots of other meal plans and ideas for this week's dinners.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Chocolate Cake with Apple-Cream-Filling

For LittleGrouch's birthday cake this year, I decided to make some colored ornaments myself. I had bought some molds for tiny fruit chocolate fruits and colored chocolate melts. I just filled some small zip lock-style bags with chocolate and put them in warm-hot water to melt. Then I cut off one corner of the bag and squeezed the melted chocolate into the mold, being careful to get rid of any air bubbles. LittleGrouch loved those little ornaments and would have liked to eat them right away. He wanted a chocolate for his birthday and this one sounded pretty good - with the nice apple filling. As you can see in the picture below, he was very happy with his cake.

Rigatoni with Swordfish and Tomatoes

I usually cook for dinner and not for lunch. Today, however, as it was LittleGrouch's birthday, we had visitors who needed to be fed. I opted for a light lunch as we were having a birthday cake later in the afternoon. We usually don't have pasta dishes with fish but when HubbyGrouch flipped through my cooking magazine, he thought this might be worth a try. It was a nice, quick and simple dish. Not too exciting in my opinion but rather light and healthy.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Colorful Bell Pepper Soup from Romania

Tonight, I opted for a light dinner and this colorful soup seemed just right. I loved it! The combination of flavors is great and the soup is easy to prepare. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Currywurst with French Fries

Today, it was again time for my favorite German fast food. I have prepared this dish many times. It's an absolute family favorite - and really the only kind of fast food we have. The recipe can be found here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Russia: Eggplant Caviar

This is another Eastern European recipe for this month's Cook Around the Globe. It's meant to be an appetizer but we had it as a light vegetarian dinner with homemade bread. The dip is easy and quick to prepare - and tastes great with buttered, toasted bread.


Announcement: "Cook Around the Globe" - November 2011

Welcome to "Cook Around the Globe"!

This is a fun monthly event where we learn about the character of different cuisines around the globe simply by cooking dishes. Each month, I will choose a country or a group of countries. Each participant prepares one (or more) dishes from these countries. On the 1st day of the following month, you can post a link to your dish on my blog. The dish can be anything: drink, appetizer, main dish, pastry, etc. Depending on the number of participants, we will get a great variety of dishes from a certain region of the world. For each chosen region, I will also try to post some links  where to find recipes.

(Registration is not necessary for this event. Simply post your link on my blog.)

First of all, I want to thank everybody who participated in October. I hope you had fun and will join again this month. For November, I invite you to join me in exploring the cuisines of some Eastern European countries:

November 2011 "Cook Around the Globe":
Eastern Europe I (Russia, Poland, Belarus, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia)
(You will be able to post the link to your recipe on December 1.)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Russia: Salmon Pie

This is my first dish for this month's Cook Around the Globe. I am exploring the cuisines of Russia, Poland, Belarus, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia this month. If you like the dishes of that part of the world or if you are just curious - join me in this event. I have prepared a salmon pie some years ago - and liked it a lot. So this month's choice of countries gave me the opportunity to make this delicious pie again. HubbyGrouch liked it, too. The original recipe does not call for seasoning the salmon in any way, not even with salt. I thought that would be too bland and added some salt and pepper. You could also add a little lemon juice. Be careful not to over-season the pie - it is supposed to be rather subtle. The best thing to do is to pick a really good piece of tasty salmon.


Cook Around the Globe - October 2011 Roundup

Welcome to the October 2011 roundup of "Cook Around the Globe". After a one week delay because of the freak snow storm and ensuing power outage in New England, I am finally able to post! As always, I am very excited and curious to see the recipes of other participants (and I will try to look at and comment on all of them!). I prepared several African dishes this month. I didn't know much (if anything) about West African cooking before this event - but then, that's the whole idea of it: getting to know new cuisines. I found a lot of great dishes, in fact there are three which I had planned to prepare but then the power outage interfered. So these dishes (Egusi from Nigeria, Kedjenou from Ivory Coast, and Banana/Pineapple Fritters) will show up on my meal plan soon. I hope all of you enjoyed this event and will be back in November (announcement will follow). Also, if you liked the event, grab a button and spread the word. You can add the blog hop to your own blog if you like. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page, click on the link, and choose the appropriate code for your type of blog. I will conclude by saying a thousand times "thank you" to all participants and enjoy the recipes!

get the InLinkz code