New pigs in blankets on the block

I love ready made pastry. It's a blessing, as I'm not that great with punching dough all day. I especially love french pastry, ready to go, ready to use.

When I started reading Roahl Dahl books, I started reading about dishes that weren't popular anymore. They were a relict of past times. Sponge cake, triffle cake, toad in the hole, the sort. Actually it sounded really good. Especially the triffle.  Mhmmm. I'll get to that one day.
So, what's toad in the hole got to do with pigs in blankets?
Actually, nothing. Piglets in baby blankets are a popular snack in the US for parties, here, our friend from Belgium introduced it to our group, served with dijon mustard. (Thanks Maxim!)
And they dissapear fast.
I think it's because when people come over for a party, they are usually quite hungry. Waiting for all the guests to come, they snack at the table and in general, "the early bird gets the worm". Or piglet.
So, let's say you're not going to a party, but, you're hungry, and you have french puff pastry. And some sausages. And some ketchup and mustard and mayo on hand. In squeeze bottles. or you're handy with a knife:)

Let's hear it for the piglets! Applause!

Type of dish: snack
Cost: cheap
Difficulty: easy
Serves: 2-4
Time: 20 min
Preparation time: 5min
Baking time: 10-15 min
Oven temp: 180C

You'll need:
cutting board, sharp knife, fork, baking tray, parchement paper or silpat,

  • 4 sausages or hotdogs
  • 1 piece of french puff pastry
  • ketchup
  • mayonaise
  • dijon mustard
What to do when your oven doesn't want to explode:
Heat your oven up to 180C.  Put your baking tray inside the oven.
Roll out your puff pastry, paper side down. Remove the foil from the sausages if you have it, and set aside.
For a dinner, for 2-4 people, do this.
Using your knife and a sausage for help, figure out how to cut the pastry so you can easily fold up the sausage in pastry to enclose it, but with a pinky finger worth of space on each side. We are going to wrap it up completly. And add the condiments before baking. So there needs to be a little space there.
When you know where to cut and fold, put the sausages in place, and squirt on a line of ketchup next to it. And a line of mustard. Or mayonaise, depends on the mix of flavours you like. Or smear it on.
Now fold the pastry over the sausage,  and use fork to gently press the sides together. You'll have something looking like the apple pie in McDonalds. Take the knife and gently make 3-4 cuts in the top of the pastry, so you can see the sausage. Transfer all the pastries on a silpat or parchement paper, take out the baking tray from the oven, gently slide the silpat or paper on,  pop in the oven for 10-15 min.
Your pastries should puff up, and turn golden. Take them out, allow to cool down for 3-4 mins and serve.

Party version of piglets- cut the sausage in 3cm pieces. Fold in the dough each piece without the condiments ( it'll fall apart if you do), and bake 15 min until golden. Serve with additional mustard or mayo fordiping and toothpicks. A popular mix is ketchup mixed with mayonaise.
Party Time!!!


Grilled cheese sandwich goodness

Autumn just here, you can feel the chill in the mornings and evenings, time to wear a scarf, those gloves and a warmer coat.
You also feel hungrier for things that you didn't exactly have every day during spring and summer. So potatoes are back on the menu, fried or braised meat, pasta dishes thick with sauce, anything to make you feel full after eating one bite.
Yes, autumn has caught up with me too, I'm on the roll by frying bread in olive oil or butter with a ton of cheese.
T came back after 5 days, where he left me with the fridge containing 1 type of cheese. T comes back and suddenly discovers the fridge has a magical way of multiplying certain products. Like cheese. I got 4 more types to go. Because, when you make grilled cheese sandwiches, you need all the cheese you can take. And so, sharp cheddar is a yes, mozzarella also a yes, ricotta is a no, but great for dessert or pasta ( more on that here), hard yellow cheese from Amsterdam with a name impossible to remember, is also a yes, parmeggiano is a yes too, and mascarpone is a no. Oh, and gouda and emmentaler are a yes too.

Add pickled jalapenos, some ajwar or ketchup, or tomato slices and you're good to go.
Just have a frying pan and use butter. Butter is a must. I've tried to substitute butter with mayonaise but it's just not the same. But depends what's your flavour.
About bread and butter- when we came to Poland, I was 9, hated food and was a very miserable eater ( this is how I know what works with picky eaters). We lived for the first year with some friends of the family. The mother of the family, we called her "aunt", was a serious vein clotter cook. But, boy, the stuff she cooked was sooo good. For picky eaters, like me and my sister, she would heat up a cast iron skillet ( no teflons back in those days), melt a stick of butter and throw in 2 slices of bread. Fry on one side till it was golden brown, turn it on the other side, add even more butter and fry it up. This bread/toast was crispy, crunchy, bathed in fat and was the thing I loved most to eat back then. I fell in love with butter. Back in AU all we had there, for some mysterious reason, was margerine. Can't say I liked it.

Anyway, get out your frying pans! your skillets! tons of butter!

Type of dish: snack, sandwich
Cost: medium or cheap ( depends on the cheese you decide to use)
Difficulty: easy
Serves: 1-2
Time: 10 min
Preparation time: 5 min
Frying time: 5 min

You'll need:
a cast iron skillet or frying pan, a spatula, sharp knife, a butter knife, small glass or bowl, teaspoon, cutting board, a plate to serve on

  • 4 slices of bread
  • Take a pick of 2 or 3 of the suggested cheese: cheddar cheese, gouda cheese, mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese
  • half a tomato, sliced
  • or ketchup/ ajwar
  • mayonaise
  • dijon mustard
  • optional: ham, or cold meat, sliced
  • jalapeno peppers whole or sliced, or hot sauce if you're out of jalapenos
  • 1 stick of butter

How to:
In small bowl, mix together 1 tsp of dijon and 1 of mayonaise, mix well ( pssst!- this is the secret ingredient). Spread it on one side of 2 slices with it, next put on the jalapenos or hot sauce, one kind of cheese, then tomatoes, then cold meat if you want to, or more cheese, then more cheese and on the other bread slice add a bit of ketchup or ajwar. I'm telling you how to do this left to right, facing the bread. Put the slice with cheese together with the slice with ketchup. Slather on top butter, evenly spreading it out towards the edges of the bread. Turn upside down gently and do the same. Heat your frying pan on medium high, wait till it's hot when you wave your hand above the surface of the pan and put in the sandwich, butter side down. Fry around 3 minutes on each side, untill golden brown and crispy:) Put on cutting board, slice in half and serve with additional ketchup or onion pickles. Or a salad. Or just eat it. It's tastes so good!
Ps. Do yourself a favour and don't feel bad about eating this sandwich- just go for a half hour walk before/after.
And don't feel bad! Feel great! That's what melted cheese and grilled bread does to you:)


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Beef steak vs 2 "french style"

I'm commited to beef if you haven't noticed yet. It's a long process but I'll get there.
This one came out as an atempt to bring back a flavour of a sauce T. once had with his beef in Il Sole. Turns out they don't serve it anymore, woohoo, too bad. For them. Basicaly, the sauce had an amazing amount of tarragon, to which I am a slave. It's a strong, nice smelly herb that I use sometimes with a certain salad you will read about soon. Smelly in a good way, I mean. It's not that rich, I mean it's good but not fat, and I had it with a salad. Yes, green salad with nothing but olive oil and lemon juice. Disgusting.  So be more french than I was, and serve please with cooked, blanched green beans with either olive oil or melted butter. And for God's sake, use salt. I beg you.

Type of dish: main
Cost: medium, expensive
Difficulty: easy
Serves: 2
Time: 40 min
Preparation time: 5 min
Marinating time: 10 min
Frying time: 10 min at most

You'll need:
a cutting board, a mallet ( meat beater, tenderizer), a kitchen cloth ( to put under the cutting board), a piece of cling film, paper towels, a medium bowl, 1 teaspoon, a grill pan with a heat proof handle, spatula

  • 400 gram beef steak
  • 3 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp dried crushed tarragon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • S&P
  • Green beans, cooked, or green salad with vinaigrette.

Do it:
Prep your board- put a cloth underneath. Wash the meat under cold water, pat dry with the paper towels. Cut your meat in two slices 2-3 cm thick if your butcher hasn't done that for you. Cover the meat with cling film on one side and beat it like a lady (gently) with the mallet so it flattens out a bit. We don't want it schnitzel thin, just 1,5 cm thin. Beat both pieces of meat and set aside. In a bowl mix together the oilive oil, mustard, tarragon and add a pinch of S&P. Mix well and put in the meat, and try to coat well  with the mustard mixture. Set this aside for at least 10 min, best overnight and clean up your mess. Well aren't I an Anthea T. :P
Before frying your meat- if you put it in the fridge, take it out about 15 min before frying. This way it will cook faster.
Heat up on high heat your pan, and when very hot, turn down to medium high and put on the meat. Fry however long you want it to on one side ( from well done to rare, it's usually 2-3 min for rare, and 3-6 for a well done steak).Try to spoon out as much as you can of the marinade on top of the cooking meat. After cooked to your likes, set aside on cutting board for at least 2-3 min so it "sets", then serve.

Serve with the salad or green beans.

Beef steak vs 1 Asian Style

Let's call it asian style beef. 
I'm not a fan of meat, especially red. But sometimes I get a good feeling, yeah. And I come up with failure or a hit! Besides, I'm tried to cook without herbs, S&P and I hated that, so I'm trying to move around that. But the flavour is more real, not bland at all. Funny how it all comes out.
This came out great, I was actually suprised.
So let's get it started:

Type of dish: main
Cost: medium, expensive
Difficulty: easy
Serves: 2
Time: 65 min
Preparation time: 10 min
Marinating time: 45 min
Cooking time: 10 min

You'll need:
a cutting board, sharp knife, a small ziploc bag, frying pan, microplane ( that's a mini grater), spatula and dish to serve, paper towels

  • 400gram beef sirloin with no tendons or fat. If it has that, cut it out.( if not sirloin, get other good quality beef bits)
  •  1 tbsp soy sauce ( light is prefered, but not a must)
  • grated peel from 1 orange
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger or freshly minced thimb sized ginger piece
  • 1/2 tsp ground lemongrass
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped spring onions
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or sesame oil
  • 1 tsp seasame seeds
  • to serve: white jasmin rice, one portion ( small bowl size)
  • optional: 3 tbsp plum sauce to the mixture.( didn't have it)
Knock yourself out:
Wash the meat in cold water, pat dry with a paper towel. Cut away the tendoms and most visible fat, then cut in small slices, diagonally. You should come up with small pices the size of your thumb and as long as your thumb. Now place the meat in the ziploc bag, pour in it the soy sauce, orange peel, ginger and lemongrass, and a tiny bit of olive oil. Just a dash.  Close the bag and mash it all around, so the sauce covers all of the meat. I made this ahead and popped this in the freezer until I needed it, but that was stupid 'cause I used it the next day. Hurrah. If you aren't doing this, then let it sit  marinating for at least 45 mins. Then use.
Now, get your rice done, like the package says, cool it.
Heat up your pan on high heat. Add the oil- sesame works best for high temp frying, but we use what we have, right? When hot, throw in all from the ziploc baggie- meat and sauce. Now, stir it every few seconds so it doen't burn, add the sesame seeds and plum sauce if you have it. Fry until the meat turns a nice brown. Prepare a cup of rice on the plate, put half of the meat on the plate around the rice, sprinkle with the spring onions, and pour the sauce from the pan with a spoon, or make fancy dots with it. Still looks damn fancy.

Additonal info: This is a extremely low in calories dish, so it's good  for people dieting. 


Make your own Cheese: Ricotta

Today's first edition of having enough of it- you can't find what you need in the stores- either you go without it, or like me, when I really can't substitute the product for anything else, I start running around all the shops in my district to find it or not (sobs violently).
I'm making lasagne for dinner tonight with or friends, and of course, same problem as last time: no ricotta cheese to be found. I checked if there is something to substitute it with, but found instead I can make ricotta, for half the price I'd pay for ready- made.
It's so easy that you really don't want to try. It makes you lazy." What? Make cheese so fancy like ricotta and you make it yourself? And it's going to be good? Not a waste of time? Huh? Nah, I won't make it."
At least that's the thought process I had when reading about cheese making.
Which, to be precise, ricotta isn't actually a cheese, it's a by-product from making mozzarella cheese, which leaves whey. You originally make ricotta from adding acid to the whey and gathering the curdles which make the ricotta. But I haven't got fresh buffala milk or sheep milk, Just regular UHT cow milk, which works just fine. If you somehow manage to lay your hands on fresh milk straight from the cow:), use it, and your ricotta will be probably much more creamier than the one made using UHT milk. Lucky you:)

It has to be at least 3% milk ( If you don't have percentage markings of milk on the carton, just try to get the fattest milk possible, or cream. So regular milk, full milk, whole milk, creamy milk ( I've seen somewhere milk called like that), and cream.

So the process is actually very simple, you just need to look at your saucepan for around 10 min so nothing burns or spills over, and get a clean cloth for draining. And if you have a candy or deep fry thermometre, lucky you. I don't have one, although it's on my wishlist, so I look deep into my saucepan.

So what will you need:
a wide saucepan ( 2-5l), spoon, teaspoon,  sieve, 8 clean cheescloths, or a very tightly woven piece of white, uncolored fabric, a medium bowl

  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream ( highest percentage, or creme fraiche if you have it)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Get a life:
In the saucepan mix together the milk, cream and salt. Put on medium high heat and start looking with a handy spoon on hand. Or if you have a thermometre, clip it on and you should get to 88C. Stir occasionaly with the spoon to prevent burning from the bottom. So when it starts to heat up, there starts forming a foamy like texture on the milk, turn of the heat, remove the saucepan and add the lemon juice. Mix gently and slowly, and set aside for 10 mins for the curdles to form.
Put your seive, with the cloth inlaid, on top of the medium bowl. Pour the mixture through the seive, letting the yellowish liquid (whey) drip through into the bowl, leaving you with the curds left in the cheesecloth. Leave this for at least one hour. The longer you leave it to drip, the ricotta gets firmer. To get creamy cheese, one hour is just right. Transfer to a small bowl or a airtight box and store in fridge. Eat or use right away because it good and you can say :" I made it mysef!".

Voila, your first cheese homemade. And it works, and it's good.

Additional information:
Serve on a fresh slice of french bread, a baguette, pizza bread with prosciutto and rucola, on top of cherry tomato halves, sprinkled with honey and thyme, or salt and pepper, or a spirnkle of cayenne pepper and perhaps a sliver of young zucchini... Endless posibilities.


Pizza 101

There seems to be a lot of weird info going around about making pizza. So here's what I do to get my pizza always good.

Always when baking dough stuff, close the windows. If it's windy, it gets cold. When it's cold, dough on yeast, like pizza, doesn't rise. Or if it's raining, same thing happens. That's why it's always so warm in pizzerias. Closed window and doors. That's why I start pizza season during fall. You get really warm:)
Always get the oven preheated. Always at least 190-200C.When I open the oven to put the pizza in, the heat has gotta hits me in the face. Sorry, but thats basically how it works for me. Try not to wear too much makeup for this step or try to keep your face on the side when doing this.

Layers of toppings on pizza. If you put on sauce, then veggies and meat, THEN cheese, during the baking, the cheese will melt, and the stuff underneath will be scorching hot, cooked, but not baked.  So next time, put on the sauce, then the cheese, then the toppings. Trust me, you will have an awesome pizza.
Usualy we put pizza on cold trays and then put it in the oven to bake. WRONG. Heat up the tray in the oven, and prep your toppings in bowls or ready to throw on the pizza positions. How do you do it the right way? Heat up the pan, yell for somebody to help you take out the tray in 3 minutes.This give them time to reply "coming", "in a moment", enough so they finally come. Start stretching out the dough, as much as you can. Then the person takes out the hot pan, puts it down, smears some olive oil on it, then you put on the pizza dough. Next, the sauce and toppings. And put it back in the oven for 15-20 min. The olive oil will help you take off the pizza once it's done, the hot pan will make the rust crispy and evenly baked. If you don't have a helper, order pizza in, or take out the tray before stretching the dough.
Bake and make one pizza at a time. You have the time, customers in pizzerias don't.
If you put in 2 pizzas at once, you lower the temperature of the oven, meaning it takes longer to bake the pizza. And anyway, during the time you're eating the first one, the second is done.
Don't put everything you can and have on a pizza. Some things, like artichoke hearts, need to be prepared before putting them on a pizza. you have to drain them, cut them, make sure they don't leak. otherwise, you'll get a soppy pizza. Bleah. Toppings should be possibly dry, ar as thick as can possible be ( like spinache puree, or tomato sauce). Don't put slices of tomatoes on your pizza, or it'll be soggy and burn your mouth. Think about it this way: if I can bake it dry but a little bit moist in the oven in 15-20 min, it's good for pizza topping to go. If it isn't, you can wait for the ready pizza and then top it, just before eating.
Baking time: if you have a hot hot oven, for a large pizza it takes 15-20 mins. You have to start looking at the pizza after 10 min in the oven, looking if the crust is browning evenly, is the cheese melting, bubbling, turning brown. Last minute warning for goodbye- pizza is bark brown cheese. You've lost it. So the moment you take it out, is when a crust is formng out of the cheese.
So look after your cheese.
 Pizza baking stones. Hmm. You can buy it, but to be truthful, it's not worth it in my opinion. The stone is smaller than your oven baking tray which you get free with your oven, heavier, you have to know how to clean it properly. And somehow, probably by pure unicorn magic, you transport the flat sour dough pizza with topping and all in the oven, on the stone, without one of those long sticks with a wooden shovel on one end. Or you can take it out, and shout with joy, cause the m*(&^&effer is much thicker than a tray and therefor, then it heats up, it heats up good. Think of brunt fingers. I can't. That's why I use the tray method. Second thing, what if you can make the exact size pizza as the baking stone? What then? What? Cut it up? But if you are a real true kitchen geek and you need the "technology" to make you a better cook, get a stone for heavens sake and gimme a break.
Fancy those pizza's with fresh rucola on top?  Creamy goat cheese topped with freshly ground black pepper? That delicious cured ham that's disgusting once baked? The key to this is: Bake the dough with the sauce, and eventually, some cheese on top. After baking it, put on these toppings, drizzle with some truffle infused olive oil, sprinkle with soft cheese and halfs of cherry tomatoes. Yumm.
It'll look beautiful too. Take a picture and post it somewhere. Yum.

Oka, I think thats all you need to know about pizza baking/making.
Have fun kids, and look after your fingers!

Pizza with paper no2

Okay, this is a different pizza dough, larger crust, but very nice, not too dry. We did enjoy this one much more without the paper ( stuff like that just happens sometimes) although we had one person happier with the paper underneath and was demanding paper for his paperless pizza. You gotta keep people happy.

This recipe make two large pizza's with a thick crust, but very thin under the toppings.

Type of dish: main, dough
Cost: cheap
Difficulty: easy
Serves: 4-6
Time: 65 min
Preparation time: 15 min
Resting time: 30 min
Baking time: 15-20 min

You'll need:
A large mixing bowl, a cup, a teaspoon, a pasteboard or table, knife

  • 4 cups flour plain
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dry yeast
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
 Let's roll:
Mixing bowl: All of it. All the ingredients in the mixing bowl, at once, and mix well till a ball starts forming. Take it out and start kneading. This takes linger than pizza dough with paper no 1, because the dough starts rising while you're at it. Knead it until a smooth ball forms, then pat with flur and put back in mixing bowl, cover with dishcloth and set aside for 30 min to rise. After this time, knead again to punch down the bubbles and reduce in size.Ready to use/bake dough. You can cut it in two and use half the dough if you don't need more. But you probably will, because it's soo good. Really. Just don't put it on fake parchement paper, or any paper at all. Tin foil as well- it's really sticky.
Voila. Stretch, sauce it, put topping on and bake.

Pizza dough with paper no 1

You want to watch a movie with friends, feel again 16 when you did a sleepover and had takeaway pizza? Now we're old, you have us for the recipes and you know how to turn on a effing oven. Congrats, you're a grown-up!
I tested 2 pizza doughs and both where good, but there where 3 pizzas involved. All the same toppings, but the dough was mostly (2 out of 3) paperish thanks to parchement paper that suck quite literaly( how could they name it parchement paper when there is no parchement involved? Dang).

So this is a recipe for dough nr 1 with paper for me, so you don't make the same mistake and have a great thin cripsy pizza. Really thin, because this dough spreads evenly and thinly however streatched you'd want it. No throwing up in the air required. Just that the dough didn't rise up as much as I expected, but oh well, life isn't always perfect, right? What was that saying? Nobody's perfect, but me? :)
Oh, important. Close all your windows now. Take off all rings and bracelets and watches. Turn up your sleaves or wear a t-shirt with short sleaves.Otherwise you'll be quite mad that you've got dough everywhere:)
Ok, let's rip this dough now.

Type of dish: main, dough
Cost: medium
Difficulty: easy
Serves: 6
Time: 70-80  min minimum
Preparation time: 25 min
Rising/resting time : 30min
Baking time: 15-20 min
Oven temp: 195-200C

You'll need:
A knife, a large mixing bowl, small bowl, a cup, a teaspoon, tablespoon, a large rolling board or use your table ( for kneading), 2 clean dishlothes,

  • 1 packet dry yeast
  • 2 cups regular flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
In the small bowl, pour in the water and dry yeast. Set aside in a warm place so it grows a bit, at least get's creamy like. This take around 10 min. You can make the tomato sauce now.
In the large bowl, put the all the rest of the ingredients, mix them a bit with a spoon.
When 10mins is up, pur in the yeast mixture in the large bowl, mix what you can with the spoon, then start kneading. If you can't knead, use a man. Or somebody stronger than you. Or a machine that makes/mixes bread, but just to get the dough roughed up so you can take it to the next level by taking it out on the dancefloor, err sorry, table, and start kneading. It's an irritating move, but somebody has to do it. Unfortunaly, it's you. And me. You can take some stress out on the dough, if it helps you. Just punch from the side, not in the middle of the dough or you'll be crying. Tested. So knead untill you have this nice clean dough, without any visible signs of using plain flour or yeast. Should be firm to the touch and really smooth. You'll want to stroke it because it's so nice. Now form into a ball, place in the mixing bowl with a bit of flour underneath and cover with the cloth. Put it in a warm place, and leave it for at least 30 min to rise/rest.
After this time take out the dough again and punch/knead it some more. Now it's ready for thinning out and shaping a pizza. Or shape it and freeze for when you need it.

This recipe provides for 1 large thin pizza. 

Amazing Tomato Sauce

You will be grateful for this recipe, because it will change your life, perspective, future choices and so on. Look into the sauce...

It's blatantly easy, so if you're planning, let's say, a pizza, this is a great sauce for the pizza base and as and additional sauce substitution for ketchup. Yes, ketchup. I think you might even make more of this sauce just to smear it anywhere- sandwiches, pasta, meat, the sort.

Trust me, everybody will like you even more once you know this recipe:)

Let's get it on... oh sugar... Let's get it on...Damn you Marvin Gaye.

Type of dish: sauce, dip
Cost: cheap
Difficulty: easy
Serves: 4-6
Time: 35 min
Preparation time: 2 min
Cooking time: 30 min

You'll need:
A low, shallow but deep (?) Saucepan of the frying pan kind. , cutting board, sharp knife, spatula, medium bowl, teaspoon

  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes. ( or 1kg of fresh tomatoes, skinless)
  •  2-3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 pinch of coarse sea salt ( buy 1kg and it will serve you for a lifetime, and your friends too)
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • grated rind from 1 lemon
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 3tbsp olive oil
Get your guns up- Don't turn anything on yet. This is going to be a gentle, fragrant process. In the saucepan, pour in olive oil, sea salt, garlic and pepper flakes. mix it evenly and turn on your cooker, on medium high. Keep close to the pan now. Stir a bit with your spatula and keep sniffing. The sniffing is key to this recipe. Sniff until you can smell the garlic and pepper beginning to smell somewhat more intense than before. The garlic should still be white during this. Let it heat up more, until you just get that the garlics turning golden and plop in the tomatoes. mash them up with your spatula, mix well so the oil incorporates with the tomatoes. Mix it mix it. Now turn  down the heat a notch or two, best if it's medium, and go away. Come back every 4-5 to 6-8 minutes to stir, because we are reduced the water in the tomatoes. The sauce has to be thicker than tomato juice, but thinner than paste. This takes about 25 mins, and until then your sauce should have the constistency you look for in a pizza sauce. You know, the kind you get when you order pizza? Turn off the heat.
Okay, now add the lemon rind, mix, and taste it. You may need to add the sugar if the sauce is a little bit too acidic/bitter. just a pinch will do.
Taste again and you're ready to go. Eat, I mean.

This recipe makes enough sauce for 3 large pizza's plus for topping them all. If you don't plan on making this for pizza and need more, either use 1 can of tomatoes, or freeze the amount you don't need.
Gotta love freezing:)


Stuffed peppers/ bolognese sauce

Stuff anything you want, just make a hole first. So stuff tomatoes, bell peppers, baby aubergines, zuccini, whatever you like.
I'd use red pepper because I like the colour but I used yellow because I like their colour too and I really don't care.
This is great to make after making lasagne the day/two days before.
Because you have a sauce you don't have to make anymore.
But if you didn't make the lasagne before, no worries, I will tell you the ultimate high-top-level-red-code-secret.
I'm really nice today:)

Situation one: make the sauce:
get some ground meat. Beef, pork the mixed version. Fry it with a medium diced onion and 3 minced garlic cloves. When meat is brown, onion gold, add a can of chopped tomatoes, some S&P, lemon juice, basil, oregano, thyme, mix it up, medium heat till it's reduced by half.

Situation two: make the stuffing:
Cook a bag of rice. Whatever kind you have, plain is best. Cook according to package, drain, empty in a medium bowl. Add to the bowl the sauce. Mix well. Let it cool.

Heat your oven to 180C.

This "recipe" goes for 4 portions. Get 4 medium bell peppers in your desired colour. Maybe green?
Cut off the top of the peppers, where the stem is. you should make something like a lid. With a stem. Cut out the white parts and seeds from inside. Prepare a high baking dish, but small enough to fit your peppers standing. Get some hot broth in a bowl, and some tomato paste or concentrate. And sugar and lemon. Love it. Mix it.
Okay, back to the peppers. Fill each of them with the rice mixture, and pop on top the lid. Put them in the baking dish, pour in the basic tomato soup you made from the stock and paste.
Put the dish in the oven and forget about it for the next 30-40 min. Then bring it out and enjoy.

Version 2:
Make it without the bolognese sauce:
get the meat, onions, garlic, herbs and seasoning, plus half a cup of breadcrumbs. Add some olive oil to a bowl, add the former, mix well. You'll have meat similar to the patties for hambugers. This meat, put in the peppers, and proceed the same way. Put in the baking dish, just add instead of the soup mixture, a can of chopped tomatoes with herbs and seasoning. Bake in the same temperature, just longer, because the meat is still raw. So this might take even 1,5 hour to bake.

Take your pick!

Piccolo Italia

Last thursday we went with T for a walk on Francuska street to search for the french butcher which, suprise- suprise, we didn't find. Turns out he moved his business to a different place but nobody knows where. SPOOKY.
So we went shopping for lasagne products to carrefour express. I don't really like shopping there because the stuff isn't good, or cheap. But sometimes you just don't get to choose.
So we bought out products there and decided to walk to Plac Waszyngtona for the bus. On the way there, we saw Piccolo Italia and thought maybe they have ricotta cheese? So in we went.
I was shocked. And suprised. Plesantly. But they didn't have ricotta cheese anymore.

First of all, you see a few tables in front of Piccolo Italia. Becase they're the bigger ones, you think it's a restaurant. But you go inside. And you think that it's not a restaurant. In front, there's a bar, where you can get coffee. On the right, there's the passage to the actual shop, plus a display of wines sold by the glass. It looks nice. Expensive, italianish and not shoppish at all.
So let's wander in more. We pass the cashdesk which also serves as the bar, and see a display of knives, cutlery, biscotti, more wine ( not only italian, but also french and spanish. Prices vary.), sweets, chocolates, the typical stuff you get at checkout. But let's see what else they have.

Next aisle, olive oils, olives and sauces galore! Everything to make your mouth water. And the amount of olives was devastating. And the sauces- mmmmmm.... I wanted all of them. Just to look in my cupboard, but also to try. I never buy ready sauces because they never hit my taste and I'm fully convinced they have so many preservatives and other E stuff that I'll glow from eating it. But not in this case.

Coming up next, pasta. OMG, it was HEAVEN! Many kinds, ( but not as many as in Rome, but still a lot), many types, few brands. Lot's of options. For example: I bought in CE lasagne pasta ( the kind you have to cook before you use it) for 9,8zl. In PI, I found a package of precooked lasagne noodles, with 2 handy tins for making the lasagne in. For 8,6zl. SCORE!
Typically, pasta was cheaper and better than in CE.
So guess what did I buy?

Going on, I came upon the fresh produce aisle where there were 2 very nice ladies behind a fridge display of coldmeat and cheese. On the fridge there are some things displayed to try. I had a teaspoon of tomato paste and tomato- soup vegetables paste. The latter was really good, and can be used as a paste for canapes, or sandwiches, or to give taste to a sauce or soup. The former can be used for soups, sauces. Eat your heart out, for if you don't know what you want, but want something good, the ladies will propose you some ham, or salami, or cheese. They will even let you try a slice to see if you like it. This way we purchase some very delicate non colorized ham, some cured ham that had a wonderful flavour, and some peperoni that really got us fighting for our breath arter we finished munching on it. It was really spicy! And we loved it, as nothing usualy gives us that kick anymore. So hello sausage!
Oh, and one lady also spoke italian, so go italian your heart out!

Then I drifted further to the tall fridges with the cheese. It was calling me in from the very beginning: come over and bring us home....
So I decided to check out a cheese I didn't hear about before, cow's milk cheese, looked like a goat cheese, has a slightly metalic taste and is a tiny bit bitter. A little on the crumbly side, this is great for a small apero with garlic bread. Or any baguette, with salad and maybe some delicate ham. But not in a omelett, sorry. That was a no-no.

I still need to check out more, and behind the freezer was another aisle, with bunches of dried herbs,
( a guy came in and bought 5 bunches of herbs, said they make great bouquets for cooking women:p), and generaly all I saw was herbs. I'm sure that there was more, but T. was anxious to pay and go home eat the stuff we bought. So back to step 2, to the cashier, where plesantly we didn't pay a fortune, and were very satisfied with our findings.

We have a good reason to come back, and hopefully, they sell also fresh fruit and veggies. And make panini's:) I would love that.

Currently, there are a few shops in Warsaw of Piccolo Italia, one in al. KEN, one next to Zlote Tarasy in the center, another one on Polna street ( probably in the Polna mall, with the goodies), and a new one in Hoża street. And the one on Francuska street.

I'm very happy to find this store, and I'm very unhappy that nobody told me about it before:)
This is going to be a place to shop for all they have, for sure.

Ps. This article is not sponsored by Piccolo Italia.

Baked salmon with cayenne maple syrup glaze

Sometimes you have to cook with what you have. I had to cook with what I was allowed:) This time, it was a salmon filet.
Sure, you can cook it with lemon slices and s&p, but that's just old and booooring. I guess I should have done that one, but I seriously didn't feel like it. Come on, anybody who diets, craves something. Usually flavour, believe it or not :)

So I was real naughty an I did a maple syrup marinade. Did you know that maple syrup is sweet, but much much less than sugar, brown sugar, aspartam and so on? And it has a wonderful flavour. I heard about a cleansing diet:) where you're supposed to drink lemonade made from lemons, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. You end up drinking the syrup sans the rest:)

This is a super simple recipe, that I think you will end up making often. I know I do.

Ok, here's how to:

Type of dish: main
Cost: medium
Difficulty: easy
Serves: 2
Time: 65 min
Preparation time: 5 min
Baking time: 30 min
Marinating time: 30 min
Oven temp: 180C

You'll need:
A shallow baking dish the size of your salmon filet, a tablespoon, aluminium foil,

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3-4 tbsp soy sauce ( taste if you need more)
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 salmon filet, fresh

Get ready, go:
Rinse your salmon under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside for a sec. In the baking dish, mix the maple syrup, cayenne pepper, garlic and soy sauce, and when you got the flavour you're after- sweeter or more salty, put your salmon in the sauce skin side up.Cover up with the foil and put in the fridge for 30 min at least ( you can make this in the morning and bake it in the evening).
Baking is terribly simple: preheat your oven to 180C. Take out your salmon, turn it over so the skin is on the bottom of the dish. Cover again with the foil and pop it in the oven. Bake for 25 min, then take off the foil, pour some more marinade on the fish, turn on the broiler/grill and get the top nice and brown/red for the last 5 min. Cut in half and serve with more marinade on top.
DONE! As we say, Nailed it!

Additional info:
Want a scandinavian touch? Serve with a few boiled or baked potatoes. More asian style, add plain rice. I went with salad as a side. You can do that too.


Lasagne by Garfield

As a kid I would watch the first cartoons with Garfield, but I don't remember much of them. Then, I found the comic books with strips from various years, translated to polish. That was cool. Then, when we got the iPad, we found an app that has every comic strip from Garfield since the very beginning. Now that's what I'm talking about.

Throughout all those years of drawing a fat mean cat and his owner, one thing was sure: that cat loved food. Let's call him a foodini. So his nightly trips to the fridge to say hi to to food are normal. His stealing Jon's food by switching plates- is classic. And his ability to walk through a fresh lasagne is just marvelous. That way nobody want's to eat the lasagne anymore.
Pure genius. But this means Jon can really cook :)
And so, the lasagne.
The first one I made was disgusting. I tried one spoon and it went in the bin.
Second time I decided to experiment a bit around. The problem with lasagne recipes is, that you don't know which one to follow, because you have/don't have all the ingredients. Most famous lasagne recipes comes from the USA, where they get sweet pork italian sausage, whick I can't find here. And mozzarella which is pre-cut and is square-ish. Which mozzarella ever was made square? Americans, I don't get your logic sometimes.
Then there are varieties in recipes from Italy, USA, UK, Poland: beschamel sauce, slices of mozzarella or shredded mozzarella, cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese, parmesan, or yellow gouda
 ( seriously).
Cook the pasta, don't cook the pasta. Go F*(&)k yourself.
This is all very confusing and it makes me want to stop cooking and scream a lot. I hate those kind of different recipes, that just have one thing in common- you're supposed to love it.

I decided to finally go with the "original" edamer/gouda mix cheese, parmesan and ricotta blend.
Without any sweet italian pork sausage, becuase even my Piccolo Italia didn't have it.
And the chase for ricotta cheese was wonderful. Finally, after running around 3 districts I found 1 container of the cheese. Had to do the job. And it did.
Brace yourselves for the magnificent, not-so-original-but-delicious-and-makeable Lasagne!

Type of dish: main
Cost: medium
Difficulty: easy
Serves: 4
Time: 110 min
Preparation time: 40 min
Baking time: 40 min
Cooling time: 30 min ( or you'll cry of a burnt mouth, trust me)
Oven temp: 180C

You'll need:
a super large frying pan, cutting board, sharp knife, spatula, teaspoon, a medium sized baking dish at least 7 cm high, some aluminium foil, medium sized mixing bowl, glass, egg beater.

  • 1kg ground beef. Use the store bought or go to a butcher and ask him to grind some nice beef for you)
  • additional: 1 small carrot
  • additional: 1 small celery stick
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 can of tomato puree
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 12-16 lasange noodles ( precooked or cook them al dente)
  • 100gr gouda/edamer, yellow cheese, without holes
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 container/200gr ricotta cheese
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • S&P
  • dried herbs: basil, thyme, oregano ( 1 tbsp of each), sugar, lemon juice
  •  olive oil

Chop up all you have to chop, heat the frying pan, fry the beef until it's brown. Yeah, brown. Add the garlic, onion,and if you decided to use the carrot and celery, you should have added it before the meat turned brown. Like, just after it started to dry up and turn greyish in colour.
Fry that up, add the tomatoes, puree and half of your chopped parsley to the pan, and turn the heat to medium. Let it thicken up. This is what you would also call a basic bolognese sauce. Great for freezing.
In the meantime, crack the egg, ricotta, parsley, a pinch of S&P to the bowl and mix it well with the beater to get a smooth texture. You can lick your fingers, this stuff is good!
Check on your tomato sauce, it should have reduced a bit, mix it every once in a while, this needs to get thick, but not paste thick. When the consistency is thinner than paste, try a bit, add some additional herbs, a lemon shot, sugar pinch and S&P. Taste it. You can add some cayenne pepper if you want to. I certainly did, because food without a hot spicy kick is simply not food to me.
Prep your baking dish. Did you cook your uncooked noodles? If not, you're a bad person and you'll have to wait longer for your yummy dish. Know what you're missing out on. Preheat your oven.
Okay, let's layer:
1 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish. Done.
Put on 3-4 lasagne noodles to cover it up, with no spots peeking.
Now, a layer of the ricotta mixture,
yellow cheese layer,
parmesan layer,
tomato layer,
pasta layer,
ricotta layer,
yellow cheese,
you're out of noodles or ricotta. Hah.

Put aluminium foil on top of the baking dish, just so the foil doesn't touch the lasagne.And foil- shiny side down. We want the lasagne to bake faster.
Get a ziploc bag for the leftover sauce. I'll tell you what to do with it later.
Pop it in the oven, bake for 25-30 min with the foil on, after that time, take the foil off for the next 10-15 min. Lets get the top bubbly and sexy and looking handsome. Or beautiful. You'll still eat it, belive me. Okay, you're done baking after 40 minutes after you put the lasagne in, now turn off the oven, leave to oven closed and think about who you should invite to dinner, or what should you paint next- the ceiling or the walls, and what colour.
Do this kind of thinking for 25 min, paint your nails instead, and start setting the table. Don't call out anyone yet for dinner- do this last minute. Because when you say LASAGNE, everybody's there in 3 seconds flat.
Why, I don't know. I think it's because everybody has a little Garfield in them:)

PS. Oh, and if you have more time on your hands, this is great for pre freezing. Make the lasagne, just don't put it in the oven, but wait till it's cold and pop it in the freezer. Defrost it the night before in the fridge and bake as usual.