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Bruschetta experiments

September 2, 2015
Variety of bruschetta

I was always thinking that “antipasti” means food that does not contain pasta. But in reality it is an appetizer served before the main meal. Since in Italian a meal is called pasto, antipasto literally means “before pasto”. So easy! There are plenty of types of antipasti, some became more international and adopted to other cultures, others are more traditional and are served only in Italy. Usually antipasti should correspond to the main course – if the main meal is fish, antipasti should contain fish and if it is meat – then antipasti should be prepared from ham, salami ect.
One of the most famous antipasti is bruschetta. However there are also two other similar things – crostini and panini. Once I was puzzled about the difference between all of them. In Ukraine we only have sandwiches, does not matter how they look like. In Italy they prefer to be more specific about food. After a short research things became clearer.
Panini – is a sandwich with two layers of bread – from the top and from the bottom. Bruschetta – is a large grilled slice of bread drizzled with olive oil and topped with tomato, ham or cheese. Crostini – is a small grilled toast that can be served with any topping.
This evening we focused on bruschetta. After buying a bunch of products that we thought could be used for bruschetta, we started to experiment and created 9 different pieces. In fact it is very easy, you just combine what you like and what you think will taste good together. The results are below:
1. Caper Pate and pepper – very simple bruschetta for those who likes capers with the fresh taste of peppers.

Bruschetta with capres, pepper fruit and basil

Bruschetta with capers, pepper fruit and basil

2. Green pesto and basil – real Italian bruschetta. The best is to use a home-made pesto.

Bruschetta with pesto and basil

Bruschetta with pesto and basil

3. Fresh cheese and mushrooms. The base is cheese Philadelphia. Mushrooms are fried on the pan in olive oil and milk. Basil leaf brings up the colour.

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Bruschetta with fresh cheese, fried mushrooms and basil

4. Fresh cheese and salmon. The base is cheese Philadelphia. Smoked salmon is on the top of the cheese. And herbs of your taste – could be oregano, basil or some other mix.

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Bruschetta with fresh cheese, smoked salmon and herbs

5. Avocado, tomatoes and shrimps. This is Mexican oriented bruschetta that has something similar to guacamole on the top. Smashed avocado with salt and pepper and pieces of tomato and shrimps.

Bruschetta with avocado, tomatoes and shrimps

Bruschetta with avocado, tomatoes and shrimps

6. Chorizo – Spanish oriented bruschetta. Basically it could be any other sausage or salami – we used one of our favourites – chorizo.

Bruschetta with chorizo

Bruschetta with chorizo

7. Tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. This is a classic Italian bruschetta. Do not forget to drizzle it with olive oil.

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Bruschetta with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil

8. Mixed olives. Simple and tasty – choose the olives of your choice and enjoy. Drizzle it with olive oil!

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Bruschetta with mixed olives

9. Goat cheese and aubergine. Aubergine and goat cheese go good together, especially with the addition of olive oil.

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Bruschetta with goat cheese and aubergine

It was fun to experiment! Honestly 9 bruschettas are too many for two people for one evening. It is also important to mention that they should be eaten the same day – the day after the taste is not the same.

Try! Enjoy! And share your ideas :)

Food News Travel

Crete getaway

August 4, 2015
Typical Greek Taverna. Hersonissos, Crete.

When you are working and working and working, especially in a country like Germany, at some point you feel that you need to get away, take a break in a completely different environment. This summer we decided to explore Greece, namely Crete. Crete is the biggest island of Greece, which carries very long and rich history. Already around 2500 BC thousand years ago Crete was inhabited by Minoan civilization. Minoans are known for their ancient scripts (writings), art of pottery and monumental buildings like Knossos Palace. This is the most famous palace and the one that remained in the bes condition in comparison to the others. To be honest, there is not much of it left, but according to the archives and archaeologists’ suggestions it was an outstanding building much ahead of it’s time. The myth tells about the Minotavr – a creature with the body of a man and a head of a bull. He used to leave in the labyrinths of Knossos and kill people that were trapped in these there. But a brave and savvy Theseus managed to trick Minotavr and kill him, hereby was released from the labyrinth.

Ruins of Knossos Palace, Crete.

During this era Crete was conquered by Romans, then Turks and only in 1898 the independent Cretan State was founded. Invaders left a mark on the history and culture of Greeks. Especially Romans introduced many inventions and novelties. Until now there is a strong connection between Greeks and Italians that is inferred in the quote: “Una faccia Una razza” (one face one race).

We spend 9 days on these beautiful island and managed to travel from the west to the east and from the north to the south. The itinerary shows the road map. The island is relatively small and the roads are relatively developed that gives a decent chance to drive around.

Crete has a lot to offer at least for a 10 days’ vacation.

We started from the western part. The first city was Chania. It is one of the oldest settlements and one of the biggest cities on the island. The Old Centre with its small and cosy streets, thousands of stores and restaurants has a lot to offer. If you stay in Chania it gives you an amazing opportunity to visit breath-taking beaches of Elafonisi and Balos and also go for a day hike in Samaria Gorge. The hike begins in Omalos, where you start to descend towards the South and in about 5-6 hours you reach a remote village – Agia Roumeli. In summer this small village receives thousands of exhausted tourists daily. They have lunch in the restaurants, relax on the beach in the afternoon and around 6 p.m. most of them take the ferry back. However if you want to feel yourself on an uninhibited island, stay over a night and in the morning you will enjoy an empty beach and a crystal-clear sea.

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Amazing view on Balos Lagoon, Western Crete.

The 4th hour of hiking in Samaria Gorge, Crete.

After this we started to move to the East. Having one night in the village called Bali (famous for the cleanest sea on Crete), we continued to Ag.Nikolaus. This town cannot brag about its beaches or historical sights, but it has a convenient location from where it is easy to drive to the south or to the east. Half an hour drive to Ierapetra and 1 hour boat trip from there brings you to paradise! Chrissi island is a little paradise, too bad that so many tourists want to visit it every day..

Blue horizon of Chrissi island, Crete.

One peculiar thing that we noticed – the west of the island is filled with Danish people. All the restaurants have Danish menus and you can hear the funny language around. Whereas the eastern Crete is crowded with Russians. I would say that 70% of all the people we saw there are Russian-speakers.

Speaking about the food, regardless of the part of the island, the food is delicious. Olive oil is, of course, a core of everything. I have never seen so many olive trees in my life! All of the traditional meals are made with olive oil. It was a bit of a challenge to choose a good olive oil to bring home. Also because there are so many types that it is easy to get confused. Fortunately, there are many food stores where you can get an advice of a specialist and try what you like. Moreover usually before the main meal in the restaurant they serve bread with oil. This is the second opportunity to discover a good oil!

Food choice was simple – we decided to stick to the seafood – every day we enjoyed grilled octopus, squid or other fish. In my opinion grilled is the best option, but you can always get fried seafood as well. One of the local recipes is octopus stewed in the red-vine sauce with grilled potatoes. Real jam!

Grilled Squid, Agia Roumeli, Crete.

Grilled Squid, Agia Roumeli, Crete.

Grilled Shrimps, Kissamos, Crete.

Grilled Shrimps, Kissamos, Crete.

Grilled octopus, Kissamos, Crete.

Grilled octopus, Kissamos, Crete.

On the other hand Greeks also eat meet. They have some tradition lamb meals – considering the number of goats on the island it is no surprise. There are recipes of baked lamb with honey, meals with chicken and once I even tried a rabbit. Another famous local meal is Musaka – this is a kind of Lasagna but with potatoes, aubergine and without pasta plates.

Musaka, Crete.

Musaka, Crete.

After food they always bring you some refreshment. It could be a watermelon or a small sweet desert, but always accompanied by Raki (local spirit). The hospitality is on the highest level and it is not too annoying – it is just right. I wish to come back to Greece again – there are so many island to explore.

Sunset in the mountains, Crete.

Food News

Portuguese octopus with potatoes (Polvo Lagareiro)

June 22, 2015
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This will a be a very short and precise post dedicated to the octopus (Polvo Lagareiro). For many evenings I’ve been criticised for not cooking enough and gently shifting this function to the man’s hands. However, when I actually cook I like to experiment even though not always these are successful experiments. So, that time I decided to experiment with one of my favourite ingredients – octopus and prepare something that has it’s origin in Portugal. The meal is called – Polvo Lagareiro. It is a fairly simple recipe that takes about 1 hour.

Ingredients for 2 portions:

  • 1 kg Preferably fresh, otherwise frozen octopus
  • 4-5 potatoes
  • 1 Pepper fruit
  • 1 Squash
  • 1 Onion
  • 2-3 cloves of Garlic
  • Salt
  • Herbs
  1. Boil octopus for 30-40 min in a big pan together with onion. In the end we will not use the onion, we need it only for giving some flavour and neutralizing a strong octopus smell

    Octopus

    Octopus is boiling

  2. Start to heat oven – 200 degrees (Celsius)
  3. Meanwhile, start cutting potatoes into small square pieces. Mix the pieces with salt and herb and oil (olive or sunflower). Regarding the herbs, it could be oregano, rosmarin, basilica or anything else you prefer.
  4. Cut pepper fruit in lines and squash in circles.
  5. Put potatoes and cut vegetables in a baking dish. Add a little bit of oil and garlic cloves. Put the dish in the oven and start baking the vegetable.

    zucchini_potatoes

    A mix of zucchini and potatoes

  6. Once octopus is ready, add it to the dish in the oven, just put in the centre on the top of potatoes and continue baking until potatoes are becoming soft and golden. It will take around 30-40 minutes overall.

    octopus_ready

    Enjoy your meal!

Delicious! Enjoy 😉

Food News Travel

Torvehallerne på Nørrebro – eat like a Dane

April 29, 2015
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I lived in Denmark for 4 years, 2 of which I spent in Copenhagen. Regardless the weather and weird people, I really like this country. Copenhagen is the biggest city is Scandinavia and as every capital it has interesting sightseeing spots. However, when it comes to history it does not have much to offer. Denmark is a small country, where nothing fascinating has happened for centuries. Probably, the most famous Dane is H.C.Andersen and his “Little mermaid”. Therefore, in my opinion, if you are in Denmark, don’t waste your time in the museums, but enjoy the city and the interesting modern places that it offers (if you are lucky with the weather).

Among many highlights of the city, that I may describe in the other posts, I would feature Torvehallerne. This is an amazing place for food lovers. You can find everything from meat to candies – both locally produced and imported.

Just to give you an idea about Danish food culture, I will describe several facts here. In general old Scandinavian cuisine was very bad. That is why they decided to develop a new Scandinavian cuisine. The concept of the new Scandinavian food is to borrow experience from the other countries cooking traditions, mix them up with Nordic flavours (liquorice, sweet herring, remoulade) and present in a very artistic way. They like to experiment with molecular cuisine and combine incompatible. So far, the concept is very successful, and for example, a Copenhagen restaurant Noma was recognized as the World’s best restaurant for 2 years in a row.

Hereby Danish food culture has improved significantly during the last decade or two. As a result of this, places like Torvehallerne started to appear. Actually Torvehallerne has it roots back in XIX century, when local farmers were bringing their goods to Copenhagen and selling to people and small businesses. Unfortunately it was creating a logistics problem in the city centre and the market had to move to the outskirts. There were many projects to renovate the market in the city centre, but some of them were declined and only in the beginning of the XXI century the plan was approved and the market opened again in 2011.

Nowadays you can find there everything you can imagine. If you want to have a snack, there are mini-bars with salads, sushi, tapas, freshly-quizzed juices, coffee and many others. At the same time you can buy good quality products (meat, fish, cheese, vegetables) and pumper yourself with the fancy meal at home. There are around 60 shops working in Torvehallerne now. And I swear once you are there you want to try all of them. There is also a rumour that the best pizza in Copenhagen is made in Torvehallerne.

Here are some teasers that will make you want to visit the place.

Grab some food and drinks and get a spot just outside of the market. It’s a great way to feel the vibe of the place, listen to a funny Danish language and admire the people. Some say that Scandinavians are the most beautiful people in the world. Of course it is all subjective, but I tend to agree.

outside_Torvehallerne

In one of this lovely days, enjoy Danish sun that is never too hot

You will find Smørrebrød everywhere in Copenhagen, but if you want to have a choice go to Torvehallerne.

Smorrebrod

The most traditional Danish food – Smørrebrød (Butterbread). On the top of the buttered bread you can put everything you wish.

And here is what Smørrebrød is actually made of – Rugbrød. It is an opposite of baguette – it’s dark, heavy and with various seeds inside. Possibly a healthier option.

Rugbrod

Famous Danish Rugbrød

Meat takes a very important place in Danish food ration. They are especially proud of the pork that is in the centre of many Christmas and Easter traditional meals. That is why another important speciality is red sausage (rød pølse). Small hot-dog places are on every corner. Definitely worth to try.

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World of meat

Fruit and vegetables are also here. And in the kiosk just next to this one, you can get a freshly squeezed juice. Don’t forget to ask for a shot of ginger in it.

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All sorts of fruit and vegetables

Danish people are coffee lovers. In fact Nordics is the most caffeine addicted region in the world. They consume from 6 to 10 cups of coffee per day per capita. Normally it’s not an espresso, but something with milk, like cappuccino or coffee-late. But still impressive! The most reasonable explanation is the weather the amount of sun light. With very short winter days and huge amount of precipitation, these poor people have to find a way to keep awake.

coffee

Get a cup of your favourite coffee

And get one of these healthy snacks with your coffee. Wrap is made of omelet with the fill of your choice.

omelette

Amazing omelette

Torvehallerne is a good place to be and definitely worth the time and the money. When I lived in Copenhagen it was one of my favourite places to get inspiration for cooking or simply treat myself with something delicious.

I like Copenhagen. This city opens a lot of opportunities and gives perspectives. And even I decided to move from there, it will always have a special place in my heart. Besides everything else, I met my little monster over there :)

Food News

Borscht – a gem of Ukrainian culinary art

April 22, 2015
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World does not know much about Ukraine. Most of the people think that it’s just a little part of Russia and cannot really see the difference.

However when it comes to food, I bet that many of you have some idea about Borscht, or borsh. This is this red-colored soup with a lot of stuff inside and that tastes incredibly good! So, FYI the origins of this meal are indeed in Ukraine. The legend says that long-long time ago, when the strongest were hunting and the weakest collecting food, Ukrainian women discovered a taste of rumex (щавель). In a while they also learned how to boil it and prepare soup. After the tribes moved to the North, to the modern Russian territory, they took the cooking tradition along. By adding eggs and sour-cream, we will get something that is known like Russian Green Borscht – “Shee”. Meanwhile, cross-continental trade was developing and Ukrainians were introduced to the new ingredient – red beet root. It came to us from the Mediterranean cost. It took the main place in the traditional Ukrainian Red Borscht. Consequently the other ingredients like cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes, were added. All of them were “innovations” from the West.

We say that every housewife has her own recipe of Borsch and you can never find 2 identical soups. Hereby it is common to say that Borscht is “created”, not cooked. It is like a piece of art – you can always add something new and experiment, but there are also rules that you have to follow. The traditional Ukrainian Borscht differs from the west to the east of the country. In the west you can find more similarities with Polish Barsh that is a red beet root soup without anything in it. In the central and eastern regions folks like to add cabbage, carrots, potatoes, sometimes even prune.

Being a 25-years old Ukrainian woman, I started to feel ashamed that I have never cooked Borscht in my entire life. Ever though my grandma tried to teach me a couple of times, but I never had time or will to try myself and eventually it was all forgotten. This time it will be different! Now I went through all the steps of the process and took pictures of every small detail – and this will not be lost.

Borscht “creation” contains 2 simultaneous procedures –  preparation of broth and “pidjarka”. In the end you just mix them together, add salt and spices and the masterpiece is ready.

But let’s first see the ingredients that we have to prepare.

For the broth you will need meat. Anything: pork, beef, chicken or even a mix. Note that for the best results there should be a bone. For the 3.5 liter of broth we took about 300-400 grams of meat (with bone).

meatforbroth

Meat for the broth

 

For “pidjarka” you will need some vegetables namely: beetroot, carrots, onions and in the end 3-4 spoons of sugar.

 

pidjarka

Beetroot, onions, carrots and cabbage – peeled and cleaned

 

Potatoes

Potatoes

And some herbs and garlic that we will also add in the end.

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Some herbs and garlic

We are starting with the broth. At first we cover the meat with water and boil it. After it starts to boil take it off fire and wash the meat and the pan. Start all over again, but this time put 3.5 liters of clean water and begin to boil the broth. Basically this is it, the broth will be boiling until the meat is ready, around 1-1,5 hours. Note “If you want to cook it fast, leave it on the big fire, if you want the broth to look transparent and clear, boil it on the small fire”.

Meanwhile let’s switch to “pdjarka” that is basically the core of the meal. Chop beetroots, carrots and onions and start frying them with a bit of sunflower, olive or any other oil. Stir and fry for 10-15 minutes, until they look ready. After that add 0,5-0,7 liter tomato juice and 4 spoons of sugar. Stir everything nicely and leave on the small fire for 40-50 minutes. Stir from time to time.

collage pidjarka

Getting ready

 

While you are busy with “pidjarka”, the broth might already get ready. Check the meat, if it’s done, we can continue. The next step is to ad chopped cabbage, potatoes and a little piece of onion to the broth.

othervegetables

Vegetables

 

Boil them for another 15 minutes until the vegetables are done. After that add “pidjarka” to the broth. It will like this:

Mix

Mix everything

Mix it all together – this is almost the end. We need to remember to add some spices. As you can imagine the soup has a sweet taste at the moment. Beetroot + sugar are contributing to it. Therefore, now don’t be greedy on salt. Add at least 2 full table spoons of salt, 10 pieces of unground black pepper, 6 bay leaves. Try to fit your own taste. The last element is to add herbs and garlic, to give it a better smell and a better look.

This is how it should look like in the end. The rule says that the spoon should get stuck in the pan of Borsch.

borscht_end

Here we go