Saturday, February 26, 2011

Chocolate fondue

I wrote already about our new fondue set that we loved. Since we tried the cheese fondue, the next obvious option was the chocolate one. It's really catastrophic for your silhouette but boy was it delicious!!! A thick, chocolaty sauce with just a touch of vanilla and cherry liqueur. If this does not wet your mouth, then what does?!

PS: Avoid low fat or soy chocolate. It won't melt properly and the result will be only frustration. Generally when making a fondue, either chocolate or cheese, it is essential to use good quality base ingredients (chocolate and cheese).


150 gr milk chocolate, in small pieces (you could substitute it with any flavored chocolate, like hazelnut, amaretto, cappuccino or whatever you like)
150 gr bitter chocolate, in small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1 pinch vanilla powder or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup cherry liqueur (you could use any alcohol you want, like amaretto, vodka, brandy, kirsch or even Kahlua.

1. In a heavy pan simmer half of the cream. Once it starts boiling, lower the heat and add chocolate pieces.
2. Let the chocolate soften and then mix it well with a spoon until you get a uniform sauce.
3. Keep constantly stirring and mix in salt,vanilla and alcohol.
4. Transfer the mixture to the fondue pot and keep it war and liquid but not intensively boiling. If the sauce thickens, mix in some of the rest of the cream.
5. Serve the fondue with bite size bananas, strawberries, pineapples, mangoes, vanilla cake, butter cookies, biscotti, brownies etc. You could also place on the table small bowls with finely chopped nuts, cookie crumbles or flaked coconut to coat your chocolaty bites! Mmmm, wonderful!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lobio - Georgian Bean and Walnut Soup

My mom is a wonderful cook. I think this happens also because of all the amazing recipes she knows from my grandma, who is the top cook in my opinion.

My mom loves special dishes, which blend the ingredients in not-so-obvious combinations. That is why one of her favorite cuisines is Georgian. Generally, Caucasian people have a very tasty food. Georgian cuisine is particularly popular, due to it's diverse character. It is famous for cheese, like suluguni, and cheese pies, khachapuri, various meat dishes, with the most famous - khinkali, a type of meat-filled dumpling and of course multiple appetizers. The flavors vary from very spicy to sweet and satisfy even the most demanding food-lovers.

One of my favorite soups (yes I know, I am supposed not to like soups, but this is changing the last years) is Lobio, a thick soup made with red beans and walnuts. This is exactly a not-so-obvious combination that I was talking about before. Few days ago I was planning to cook a bean soup, however I was a bit bored to cook a typical Greek Fasolada, so I decided to go for Lobio. It was the first time I cooked it for Stratis and, to be honest, I was not sure if he would like this mix. But, luckily, he loved it and I am not surprised. This is a really great example of traditional Georgian food.


500gr red kidney beans
1 cup walnuts, shelled
1 tsp mustard (optional, it eliminates the whatever effects of the beans on your intestines :P )
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, diced (I like it with a lot of onion, so I use 2 big ones, otherwise you could use 2 medium)
1 medium carrot, shredded
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. Wash the beans very well and soak them overnight. Do not through the soaking water, as it contains a lot of vitamins.
2. In a large pot place the beans together with the soaking water, coriander seeds and mustard if using. Add about 4 more cups of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and continue cooking until the beans are soft.
3. Meanwhile, in a heavy pan heat the oil and stir-fry the onions, carrot and garlic until the vegetables are soft and lightly golden.
4. Place the walnuts with some water in a blender and process until they form an almost uniform paste with only few pieces of walnuts. Set aside.
5. Place two cups of soft beans from the soup together with 1 cup of the liquid in a blender and process in a smooth paste. Return to the pot.
6. Add the walnut paste, the onion mixture salt and pepper to the pot, mix well and let cook for about 15 minutes. At this stage if your soup is too think add some more water until it reaches the desired consistency.
7. Add all the herbs, season with extra salt and pepper if necessary and cook for few more minutes. Garnish with some fresh coriander and serve immediately.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cheese fondue

A couple of months ago we got a fondue set. An electric one. It's not so atmospheric as those with the little candle under the pot, but the good thing about it is that it is easy to regulate the temperature. This way whatever is melting in the pot is not burned.

Anyway, I was planning to use it once my sister would come to visit, but finally when she came we totally forgot about it. But today I took a big decision! It was very nice! So here comes the recipe:


300 gr, Emmental-type cheese, preferably not very salty, shredded

1 cup white wine

1/2 tsp sweet paprika

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp dry mustard
some ground nutmeg

1. In the fondue pot mix the wine, paprika, lemon juice, mustard and nutmeg and bring to the boil.

2. Reduce the heat and start slowly stirring the cheese into the wine mixture.

3. With a wooden spatula constantly keep stirring the cheese until it melts.

4. Transfer the fondue pot to the base and set the heat on low. It should not be boiling, but rather stay liquid and creamy.

Serve it with various pieces of veg, ham, shrimp, crackers, bread etc. Have fun!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Buckwheat kasha or porridge

Two days ago the weather was sunny again so it was a great opportunity to go out, ride a bike, take some beautiful pictures of the city and not to think at all of what I would cook later. Unfortunately, a hungry man, returning from the office probably would not share my joy. So when I realized that it was already 6pm so I had to go with something ultra quick. While I was switching between pasta and... well pasta... my eye stopped on a pack of buckwheat that I bought a couple of days ago.

A pack of what?! Buckwheat? What the hell is that? If you never lived in Russia or other countries of ex USSR, these are probably the questions going through your mind, as this "pseudograin" is not very common outside these areas. And I really don't know why this is the case, since it is really tasty and it reminds me a bit of my childhood. So I was really happy to discover it in the Turkish store (what would I really do without it!) in my neighborhood.

When you open the package you see brownish little grains, pyramid-shaped. You don't have to soak it overnight or do anything else. Just rinse it a bit with some water and it is ready to be cooked.


3 cups buckwheat

2 tbsp butter or in worse case margarine

water for cooking

salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. Wash the buckwheat and put it in a medium pot.

2. Add enough water to cover and through the butter in. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Place the pot on a strong heat and bring to boil, then lower the heat, cover and continue cooking for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally. If necessary add some water.

4. At the end the buckwheat should be tender and non sticky. You could probably compare it's consistency to steamed rice. Place it on a plate and serve as a side dish along with steak, chicken, meatballs, sausages (that's what I did. I know, LAZY!) or anything else you like.

I know that this is not a real recipe, it doesn't even involve cooking as such, but it is veeery delicious! Funny thing, the first time I ever cooked it Stratis was staring at his plate, as if asking "What the hell is THAT?!". Now he actually seems to enjoy it, yesterday he even asked for some extra! :)