October 2, 2011

Recipe: Gorgonzola, fig and peach bites

Well let me start with, this is not much of a recipe, but more like an idea. In a previous post I mentioned, I’ve been asked to cater a gin tasting night, so I need to come up with some bites, for about 50 people. My hands are a bit tied, as at the bar, I have minimum cooking facilities (pretty much only a chopping board and a knife) so the food needs to be cold, transportable, and if possible still created at the spot.

Also, what does one cook for a gin tasting? – I asked myself again, and the first hour I got nothing. I looked at my old recipes, and I came to the conclusion I prefer wine, and cook with or to wine. So that didn`t help much. I didn`t have any gin at home…also disadvantage. So gin..dry? Right? Right! So either something preferably very salty or something semi- sweet. So I ended up with 4 different bites 2 salty and 2 semi sweet ones. Which the first one I`m sharing with you now. Couple of weeks ago I posted a very similar recipe.. Gorgonzola toasts with poached figs , well yes I still have a fixation for figs, especially fresh one, and lucky me there are sort of in season now. I say “sort of” as they are indeed still in season, still impossible to find some. I wanted to use this recipe somehow, but I dont have any toast-privileges at the bar. So I thought a simple cracker will do the work. Also plain Gorgonzola is nice, but here I needed something which is not so rich in taste and a bit creamy. I ended up mixing the cheese with some spread. Why spread and no butter? Well butter turns bit hard when cold, even if its mixed with something else making it a bit difficult to work with, so spread does the work perfectly.

You need pretty much no time making these, so in case you planning a cocktail party, this recipe is highly recommended:) 

Ingredients

crackers

Gorgonzola cheese

plain unsalted spread, or even Philadelphia creme cheese is nice

figs

dried apricots.

Mix the cheese with the spread, slice  dried apricot in half. lay it down on the cracker with the sticky side down. Add a small spoon of cheese spread on top, and finish it with a thin slice of fig!

Enjoy!

 

September 29, 2011

Recipe: Raspberry and coconut cupcakes…again!

Hey there! I know it`s been a while, and I have no other excuse apart from working working and working. I know, we all do, but reading some fellow bloggers updates and recipes, made want to come back and write some more (again). I didn`t even check wordpress for a while .. I was trying to turn my head, and try to forget I became a bit lazy with the writing, as well as taking pictures. So to be honest i have no new recipes yet..there`s plenty on my mind, but it looks like I`m about to have a bit of a time and get back o clicking that camera again. :) And! I have tons and tons of comments I need to reply to, so if you were wondering why im ignoring you… I`m sorry, it`s really just me and not you!

I`m also a bit excited, just been asked to make some bites and finger food for an up coming hip gin and cocktail tasting night, and I`m sooooo happy! But! What does one cook for a gin night? Well I came up with 6 ideas, will post the pictures, recipes and the feedback as soon as I got them! Also! Halloween is, well almost here. Me needs Halloween recipes, ideas etc..so if you have a favorite and if you wanna share them with me..you are very welcome!

But, don`t think I`m going to leave you without a recipe! Even thou I do admit it`s going to be one of those “copy and paste” ones. At least it`s mine thou:) The reason for the copy and paste is as I mentioned, I don`t really have pictures of my new recipes, but I have a new picture of an old favorite.. The Raspberry and coconut cupcake. Turns out from the statistics it`s one of the most popular posts on my blog, and I have to admit I HATE the old photo. It`s from the time I started experimenting with backgrounds and came and all that jazz, and it`s just soooooooo bad! I`m not saying the picture is great now, but it does look better ( I hope). Also, the cupcake is great, and if you bake it, you will know I`m right! So enjoy, I hope you like the photos, I hope you will still come back for more recipes. Love you all! Me The Wonderingchef!

Raspberry and Coconut cupcakes

I found the perfect cupcake base on taste.com.au, but soon I realised it is exactly the same as the ones in my Australian Women`s weekly magazines. The recipe is PERFECT! If you follow the steps, you going to end up with an amazing moist cake. I use this for the basics, and flavour the dough after. With whatever I got really:) I can`t describe how much I love this recipe!

The basic cupcake recipe as on taste.com.au

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups (370g) caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups (405g) self-raising flour
  • 1 cup (250ml) milk
  • I added 5 spoons of home made raspberry jam and beetroot powder for colouring.
  • Butter frosting

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 6 cups (900g) icing sugar mixture
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) milk
  • Instead of milk i used cocnut milk, and dry coconut sprinkles!  The taste was just amazing!

 

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 24 1/3 cup (80ml) muffin pans with patty cases.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla bean paste with an electric mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just combined. Add the beetroot powder, stir until combined. Add the flour and milk in alternate batches and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Stir in the raspberry jam.
  3. Spoon mixture evenly among the patty cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. For the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until very pale. Gradually add the icing sugar while beating. Add the  coconut milk and beat until well combined. Stir in the dry coconut flakes.
  5. Divide frosting into small bowls and colour. Use a small palette knife or round-bladed knife to spread the icing.
August 24, 2011

Recipe: Selection of easy-tasty and colorful dips!

 

If there`s one thing to know about The Wonderingchef..so moi, is that I like dipping! Ok so now its out there let me tell you why… cos it`s fun! I mean who doesn’t like to dip fresh bread or nachos into tasty and cool dips? Its perfect for movie night, bbq night, wine tasting night, party night, or just nights… Also never over think it, if you got a blender at home, and a few cans of stuff hidden in your kitchen there’s so many things a creative mind can do.

I took the photos a couple of months ago, as I’m working on a project only a few friends know of. I been saving the recipes and pictures, but to be honest with you, they are just too good to stay on a disk, and not be shared. So here they are hope you will enjoy them! The whole 3 dips and 1 salad should take not much more then an hour. If you only pick one, there’s one which literally takes 5 minutes to create!

Note: If you use yogurt, wherever in the world you are, there`s going to be plenty to chose from, however, I really advise you to buy good quality, THICK Greek or Turkish yogurt! Otherwise the dips will end up runny, and that’s not nice. In case there’s no available thick yogurt, press it trough a fine sieve, so it will get rid of excess water!

Be creative with the spices! Don`t have ginger? use coconut milk! Don`t have chili? Use pepper! and so on and on and on…you dip will be tasty anyway:) 

1st zucchini and yogurt salad, with lemon grass (serves 4)

2-3 small zucchinis, or  2 big ones, or 1 very big one

200ml of thick yogurt

handfull of lemon grass..shiffanade

3 cloves of garlic

salt, white pepper

1 onion finely chopped

3 spoons of olive oil.

Slice the zucchini into small-medium cubes, so they will stay chunky after frying. Heat a frying pan, add olive oil, onion and crushed garlic. Add zucchini and fry/brown all sides, until cooked in the middle.season.  Set aside to cool. When cold, mix it with yogurt, and lemon grass! (With mint, or Thai basil, or with some extra chili is fantastic!)

Instant beetroot dip

Here you can use fresh or canned beetroots as well. It doesn`t make any difference. Only the fresh beets you need to cook and peel of course. If you use canned beetroot, get rid of the brine..you don’t need that!

1 medium can of beetroot. or 2-3 fresh ones

3- 4 cloves of garlic

3 spoons of olive oil

handful of fresh thyme leafs

Blend all ingredients together! WOA…I told you it`s instant! (add a bit of honey, and rosemary for an extra twist!)

3: 5 minute mint-chili and yogurt dip!

200 ml of yogurt

handful of fresh mint

2 cloves of garlic

a bit of olive oil

chilies- depending how much you like them, or how strong are the ones you have. Here i really cant tell. I used one, of course i didnt use the seeds, and it was till nice and spicy!

bit of salt.

Blend mint, garlic, salt, and chili together. Most likely you will need to use some olive oil to help your blender. Don`t leave any chunks it should look like a pesto.

Mix with yogurt! (got some nice middle eastern spices at home? use them!)

4:  Roasted Carrot dip with honey, ginger, and corriander

3-4 carrots, thinly sliced

1 onion finely chopped

2 spoons of olive oil

1 spoon of honey

1 spoon of shredded fresh ginger

couple of fresh coriander leafs

Roast carrot on a frying pan, with olive oil, honey and onion. Make sure they are soft!

Blend all ingredients together while still warm!

So now! Dip the bread and enjoy!

August 23, 2011

Recipe: Halloumi cheese and pesto bites

 

 

I finally managed to find some decent halloumi cheese in the supermarket. Let me tell you, I love them! Its a great substitute for a vegetarian BBQ, which meat lovers will like as well. These cheese is traditionally Cyprian, and very popular in The Middle East and Greece. Usually made by sheep’s or goats milk, sometimes there are cows milk based available too.

The best thing about it: It goes ell with almost anything, with chili or sweeter sauces, vegetables, grills, prosciutto, salads..you name it. Spices as well can be used while grilling, I would recommend sumac and some cured lemon.

I had to try out some bread recipes today, and ended up, with a nice thin sourdough, which is perfect toasted with some olive oil. I thought it ill go well with the halloumi, just wanted to make it a  bit colorful As I said it goes well with almost anything, I thought I add some grilled tomatoes, and since I had a pesto open just spread it on the toast. The result was yummy! The combination of the flavors was just amazing, and nothing beats fresh home-made bread! Its perfect as a welcome snack or to a wine tasting or to pretty much any food-loving occasion!

Note: If its your first time grilling halloumi, there’s a few things you should know. Fry it in a non-stick frying pan. Make sure the pan is burning hot…and I mean literally burning hot! Use only a drop of olive oil, not much more! Don`t overcrowd, so try and fry maybe 3-4 at once, or else the temperature will drop and your cheese is going to melt instead if grilling. Just brown each side and your cheese is ready!

Heat a frying pan, add a couple of spoons of olive oil, toast the bread slices at both sides

Spread some pesto over the toasts, while they are still warm so it melts a bit.

heat the same frying pan, until burning hot

add halloumi cheese and fast fry on both sides

when finished with cheese add tomato halves, and grill

season with a bit of sumac and white pepper only if you like

be careful with salt, as the cheese itself is very salty!

Enjoy!!

August 22, 2011

Recipe: Pea and mint soup, with balsamic glaze and tomato bread.

 

 

It looks like every summer has a “trend” soup, especially among Budapest caterers/restaurants/bloggers. This summer it seems to me, the craze is, minted pea soup. This one I actually do like. It`s easy to make, it goes well with plenty of sides and garnishes. And actually is plenty tasty. And I like easy and simple, and of course the light green color is funky:)  (note: Im really sleepy, just going to cut the chase, and continue writing the recipe…)

Don`t overcook the peas, as the color of the soup will become dark. You can use fresh or frozen peas, this is really up to you. The soup sometimes can use some Parmesan cheese, as a garnish, will become very tasty. You can use ready-made balsamic glaze, is just as good as home-made ones. Very easy just boil balsamic vinegar with some sugar.

Ingredients For 3-4 serves

3 onions thinly sliced

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

3 spoons of butter

1 glass of dry red wine

2-3 handful frozen or fresh peas

100 ml creme

0,5 liter of vegetable stock

handful of fresh garden mint

salt, white pepper

4 slices of sourdough bread

2 tomatoes

In a saucepan melt butter. Add onion, soften it, be sure doesn’t get brown.

Add garlic, and peas, mix well.Add wine and saute the vegetables.

Add half of the stock and bring it to boil.

When peas are soft remove from stove add mint and blend. Make sure you blend well, as sometimes there can be a couple of hard peas.

Add remaining stock, and creme, and bring back to boil. Stir well, and blend again if needed.

Serve with balsamic glaze, and tomato bread… goes well with cool dry rose or white wine!

Enjoy!

 

 

August 18, 2011

Recipe: Chili and orange cookies

 

Who doesnt like cookies? As they can come in many sizes, packages,  not to even mention the taste. Wel just like a cupcake or a muffin, the flavour can be changed just the way we want. There are plenty of good quality cookies available in stores, especially nice gourmet ones are getting popular too.

But making them is so damn easy. Although I think everyone should find a basic recipe, that works for them. After all sort of ingredients can be added, pretty much anything from chocolate chips, to caramel, to chili and coconut..you name it! :) There`s plenty of dough recipes on the internet, some are a bit complicated some are easy as ABC, the outcome will always be planty of delicious cookies.

So here is the basic cookie recipe I use, with the baking it will b ready in about 20-25 minutes, makes about 20 pieces.

Ingredients

250g butter, softened

140g caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg yolk

300g plain white flour

2 thai chilies, seeds removed, chopped finely (you can use more or less chilies, depending on how strong are the ones you have)

100g candied orange zest, ready or home made.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Beat the butter in a bowl with a whisk, until soft and white. Beat in sugar.

Add egg yolk, beat in well, add vanilla extract.

Add chili and orange zest. Mix in well with a wooden spatula.

Fold in flour, don`t add to much at a time.

Lay down baking sheets on a trey.

Spoon in dough mixure, one should be a bit smaller then a golf ball. Make sure you leave some space between the cookies, as they will spread while baking.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes. Don`t worry when you take them out, the dough still going to be soft! Leave them to cool for a couple of minutes. Transfer later to a wire rack, to cool completely!

Enjoy!

August 17, 2011

Recipe: Gorgonzola toasts with poached figs

 

 

How about a little snack? Dinner party, wine tasting, bbq, birthday party..these little toasts will serve you well. Easy and will be ready in no-time. Especially now, when figs are in season, you can easily replace the poached figs to some fresh ones with balsamic glaze. For this one I used ciabata bread, but any thick crust dough will be nice, especially french baguettes!

To prepare the poached figs will take some time, depending of course how many you are making, to me 40 pieces were 20 minutes, it also cools fast, and in case you wont be using all, it can be stored up until a month in the fridge!

Ingredients for 10 toasts

10 slices of ciabata bread, or any other bread

50 g of Gorgonzola cheese

20 figs, dried..or fresh ones, which don`t need to be poached

100ml of red wine

100ml of water

2 spoons of sugar

1 spoon of white wine vinegar

little bit of salt

Combine the water, wine, vinegar, sugar and salt in a small sauce pan, add figs, and bring it to boil. Cook until liquid is reduced, and you end up with a thick caramelized. Put it aside to cool.

Spread the gorgonzola on the bread slices, add as thick as you like, depending how much you like the taste of the cheese. Some prefer a bit less, some a bit more. Put it in the oven to 180C for a couple of minutes, until golden brown.

When toasts are ready, add 2-3 figs each, spread some of the caramelized wine jam, on the serving plate!

Enjoy!

August 14, 2011

Travel: Sassi di Matera, Italy

Sassi di Matera, Italy

 

When I started writing The Wonderingchef, just a little a year ago, I wanted to create a travel-food-recipe-restaurant blog, but lately I`ve been concentrating more on the recipe part of the blogging. Even thou I did travel (cruise ship, holiday etc) I have been taking the pictures, collecting information, just the posts never happened. This one i been planning to send just about a year ago, and a few months ago, when i finished the whole editing, writing, wordpress played a cruel joke with me and deleted my draft. So Matera Sassi post Volume 2 here I go again and hopefully will make it this time!

Italy, this amazing country, struggles with weird politics and leaders, constant financial crisis and unemployment, with its problems could be anywhere in the world. Still it`s tourism is glowing like always, I mean a country which can call the cities Rome, Milan, Florence, Venice their own, must be proud..even if their are not. I listed the most popular tourist sites, but still it has much more to offer. Much much more! It would be difficult to name a region, or a small city that has nothing unique to offer, like making the best bread, or balsamic vinegar, or have amazing views, castles or churches. Some of them are right on the map, some of them are a bit more isolated and hidden from the masses, some of them have not much more inhabitants then a few hundred people, still when you arrive will be treated with friendly, welcoming hospitality.

Only recently I started discovering south of Italy, and just cant wait to go back and learn more. One of the most favorite places I found was Matera Sassi, in Puglia. As you can see from the pictures the view is magnificent, the atmosphere is just peaceful. Now I could give you a short history lesson about the place, but you will find the background in Lonely Planet or on Wikipedia. The city is most lilley to be one of the first human settlements in Italy, the houses are dug in the stones, which is characteristic for Basilicata and Apulia regions. When you walk around…and you should take this one seriously..try to avoid the siesta, as it will be completely empty and very very very hot! Of course I mean summertime.. if still you pick the 12-16.00 hour time, bring a hat and plenty of water with you.

When you are here make no plans, its easy to spend hours around the little hills/streets/houses, getting lost finding better and better views for photography. Some people still live here, there are coffee shops, churches  (of course), restaurants, galleries everything a tourist needs.  Still the strange thing for me was, there were no tourists, I was wondering did no one ever heard about this place? Is it really so isolated? And people apparently did hear about it, and to be honest it is easy to reach. You either sign up for a day tour at a travel agency, or rent a car and on the way you can visit other fantastic places as well.

For movie geeks just like me, its a big treat as Mel Gibson`s “Passion of the Christ” was shot here, among a few other films.

In case you were wondering which region to visit again in Italy, Puglia and Basilicata is highly recommended!

July 11, 2011

Recipe: Simple meal for 2

 

I always say simple meals are the best. Yes of course I like eating out, and have something fancy, but after spending most of my time in the kitchen,nothing beats home-made.

Now its summer, fresh vegetables are just over the roof, its hot and we need fruits and greens. Again Im not vegetarian, but I much prefer meatless dishes. One of my new favourite ingredients and greens are the romanesco broccoli. Why? Cos they just look fun, and the taste is somewhere between a broccoli and a cauliflower, cooks really fast, and goes well with most of the meats, especially steak. But this time “We” are not frying steaks, we making pasta.

Pasta always comes in handy, when you have not much time, or want to create something simple. However you make it, it`s going to be good. Sometimes I just look around what I have hidden at home, and a new recipe gets born every time..true story! :)So, last time I`ve been to the market, and spotted the romanesco I thought I come up with a pasta dish. It goes well with cream and garlic, so this was pretty much set. I had some spinach stuffed ravioli, and some mozzarella balls, so one part of the meal was covered.

With all of this I wanted something fresh and light. Bruschetta works all the time as well. I mean it`s one of the best meals ever. Just chop up some tomatoes with garlic and basil, and salt, put it over olive oil toast, and you have the perfect appetizer or party food. To make it look even better, try and pick up various cherry and regular tomatoes, red, yellow, green you name it, its going to look fantastic!

I also wanted to make some simple salad. I had some red wine seeded mustard at home, which I didn`t have the chance to try yet. My favourite lettuce is romaine lettuce, so most of the time I use that, and I juts love fresh cress. especially onion cress. So the salad was set as well.

When you get a meal ready, dont over think it. Just look around what you have at home, hiding in your fridge, pick up some things from the market or grocer which you fancy, and want to try, and even the smallest efforts go a long way.

Ingredients

Tortelloni with romanesco cream and mozzarella

A pack of fresh stuffed tortelloni for 2

half of a romanesco

100g of small mozzarella balls

100ml of creme

2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

salt, white pepper

small slice of butter

Cook the tortelloni in hot boiling water, it gets ready just in a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, divide the romanesco in small roses, put it in boiling water, and cook just for a couple of minutes until soft. Don`t over cook it, when ready leave it under cold running water for a bit. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, add the garlic and creme, bring it to boil and watch not to burn it.  Add the romanesco, salt and pepper to taste, stir and add the pasta, make sure it all warms trough. Put it in a serving plate and put the mozzarella balls on top. Just let it melt a little over.

Ingredients

“Rainbow” bruscetta

2 ciabatta breads

a selection of fresh colourful tomatoes yellow, zebra, green, cherry, and red

3-4 cloves of garlic

pinch of pink Himalayan salt

4-5 leafs of fresh basil

Toast the bread slices in a frying pan over olive oil. Set aside. Slice and mix all ingredients together. Spread it over bread. YUM!!!!

July 5, 2011

A bit of Hungarian: Cold fruit soup recipe!

 

The reason I`m saying it`s Hungarian is, I never saw cold fruit soup in other countries, but I might be wrong. Well summer is here and it`s always nice to have something refreshing and new, so I thought I give this one a go and see how people like the idea. In my country its very popular, easy to make even thou the recipe changes pretty much in every household. I don`t think I ever made one with the exact same ingredients, so here I`ll just give you a general guide and ideas to how to prepare the soup. Yes we are talking about a sweet dish, but it’s not a dessert, well it can be, it’s up to you really, ones with the sweet tooth going to fall in love with  that`s for sure.

To start cooking: For the base I always use the juices of canned fruits, the general base is the juice and brine of sour cherries, the fruits I’ll keep aside for the finish. Basically you can make a pretty good mix out of whatever you got at home: pineapple juice, apple, peaches..don`t use orange juice thou. My favourite mixes are from berries anyway, frozen or fresh it’s up to you. But note the fruits only go into the soup, when its ready, those you don`t need to cook. Sometimes when I use lemons, oranges etc for cooking I keep the skin and free it for later, those can be added to the sop base as well. Here is a basic recipe for approx. 4 people… but this one you’ll always need to taste while cooking, as of course quality of the juices or the wine can differ, sometimes you need more sugar or etc. Basically you need to taste a sweet, aromatic flavour, and of course the taste of the wine as well. Trust me it`s worth experimenting! Once you find the right ingredients you will see its very very easy to make!

Ingredients

0,5kg of fresh or frozen fruits, sour cherries, berries..

4 spoons of sugar

pinch of salt

2-3 cinnamon sticks

5 cloves

1 liter of fruit juice from canned fruits – especially from sour cherries

2-2 lemons and oranges cut in half

0,5 liter of dry red wine

0,5 liter of water

For thickening: 3 spoons of white flour, 2 dl of sour creme, of creme fraiche

Put the water, the juices, wine cinnamon, cloves, lemons, oranges, sugar, salt into a pot and bring it to boil. Taste, if you find it a bit tasteless or not sweet enough add some more sugar, or wine or juices. Mix the flour with the sour creme in a separate bowl, mix in a couple of spoons of the hot soup base, and whisk it in the boiling soup to thicken it. Bring it to boil again. Transfer trough a colander into a serving bowl, getting rod of the cinnamon, etc, add the fruits, and let it cool. Keep in fridge until serving!

Enjoy!

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