Never play with squash soup, you just might get addicted to it…

After taking a long vacation, fighting with the designs of everyday life, I’ve returned! What’s on the menu today, you ask me? Not so many people actually know what to do when they see squash lying on their table. But, for me, it is a way to prepare  Squash soup enriched with ham, mushrooms, celery and all other vegetables you need to get through your day.

Ingredients:

1 squash, 2 potatoes, 5 medium mushrooms, 4-5 pieces of ham, chicken stock cubes, 2 carrots, 1 medium onion, parsley, celery, and last but not least, garlic cloves (yes, I find it very handy when it comes to winter). Not that many, huh?

The Works:

A soup is not a soup when there is no water in it. So get boiling! Once it comes to a boiling point on the stove, add some chicken stock cubes, just to save ourselves some time. Afterall, you don’t want to turn into a stay at home kitchen, do you? Dice the carrots and the onion, saute a little in a frying pan. *First comes the onion, then you add the carrots. This mixture adds a little bit of color to your soup. And of course, some taste. Garlic and mushrooms, slice them all, saute separately. While frying, do not forget to cut the potatoes, and add them to your stock. Next come all the other ingredients, add gradually. Let the mixture sit on the stove for about 15 minutes (slow fire). At least, while you are waiting for those guys to finish what they started, you can work on the ham and the squash. The ham needs careful care, slice it nicely and fry it a little in a pan, then add it to your soup. Finally, get working on the squash. You do not need to peel it, just make sure you wash it. I took the liberty to slice it into circles, I think it makes it fun to look at the soup. Cut parsley and celery, add all what is left there to add, cover it with parsley, and….YOU ARE DONE!

Feedback: I would definitely use rice next time. It makes this soup even thicker. But of course, it is just an option!

Get acquainted with this one, it will leave you warm on a cold day!

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Here comes Pot Roast, with a little secret.

It got real cold here! And when I say “real cold”,  I mean +6, +5 degrees Celsius. It does not seem that cold, but when you start thinking about the insides of your own home, and the temperature there (which can get to +14), and how you sit wearing layers on yourself, all you want is to get warm. One of the best ways for me to dive into a warm world is to cook meat and potatoes. I have to say, this recipe is very filling, with the meat melting in your mouth. But, you have to wait for at least 2.5 hours for it to get ready. If you are one of those people who likes meat having a particularly soft texture, you might have to wait even more. I can tell you, I waited for 3 hours. So, get all the patience you have inside you, and lets get cooking!

*Oh, and a little note, this recipe comes in with a little zest, its got dried prunes in it. This stuff is what gets you surprised. Just remember a day when you tried eating something that you are used to. So you eat, enjoy your food, even if its the usual for you, it still creates fireworks in your mouth. But then, suddenly, you feel like there is something new…Something that makes this dish taste even better. Something that you will remember every time now you think about this specific meal. Not only it adds new taste for the meal, but it actually delights you. In this usual meal you would not expect to come by this ingredient.

Ingredients:

3-4 medium potatoes, 1 kg of beef, half a kilo of chicken breast, 1 big carrot, 2 medium onions, 5-6 tablespoons of tomato sauce (I had sauce for pizza left from the time I prepared homemade pizza, so why let the good stuff go by?),  about 50 gr of dried prunes, garlic, parsley.

The Works:

Slice all your meat into bands, that way the meat will prepare faster. Put it all into a deep frying pan, and let it sit there on the stove, till the juices come out.20131212_095255

Peel of the skin from the potatoes and cut them into cubes. Get working on the carrot, slice it into big round pieces. About the onions, make nice big rings out of them. Mix the onions with the meat, let it sit for about 15 minutes (just do not make big fire on the stove) Remember, the juices still have to be there when you start adding other vegetables in.20131212_103223

Next, comes the carrot. Again, let it soak in all the juices together with the meat for several minutes. Then, start adding the potatoes. You already know what comes next, waiting. But, then comes the fun part, add the sauce you have to mix in a little bit of color in your works. Actually, the red of tomato paste, or in this case, pizza sauce, fits in perfectly with the meat. So, do not be afraid to mix it in! Do not forget to taste your food! If you feel like you need to add more of the sauce, you should positively do so! Afterwards, ladies and gentlemen, comes the bride! Dried prunes! 50 gr is about 7-8 of them, so add them without any hesitation. They are the ones bringing the surprise, remember? They bring a sudden feel of sweet into your dish. Mix it all once again, put the mixture on low fire, close the lid, and…wait…again, it should be close to 3 hours to let the meat be as soft as a baby’s skin. While you are waiting, do not let yourself go crazy, wash and cut the parsley (this one you should add last, when the dish is ready), and peel the skin off the garlic. You can add the garlic after about 1.5 hours. You do not need to slice it, just peel the skin, and throw it in there.

*Important note, when you are waiting for the meat to be ready, check on it once in a while, just open the cover. As we all know since high school, water tends to evaporate. So, do not forget to add some in while waiting those 3 long hours. Plus, it does not let you go bananza! Water should always cover your meat about half way. Otherwise, you’ll burn it all, and you don’t want this one to happen…All your hard work to fly away from you…

And, voalah, after 3 hours you get a beautiful meal that every member of your family can and will enjoy!

Warm up your hearts with a nice Pot Roast!

Feedback: My beloved members actually said that they enjoyed it very much. They haven’t eaten such a dish in a while. The best thing about this dish is, you don’t have to prepare additional garnish for the meat.

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…New Year’s menu from Katya!

Although it is almost half a month till New Years,  I find myself thinking about party meals more and more…These precise thoughts make me actually feel like it is New Years time. I don’t remember if I mentioned this before, but in Israel, it’s not just that there is no celebration for this holiday (duh), but there is also no snow. And, all those that have fun on this holiday have to be creative so that they won’t forget what it feels like.  I do value all the Israeli holidays of course, but sometimes I just wish they would celebrate New Year’s as well…

I don’t know how about you but the smell of mandarins and Christmas tree  always enters my mind when I recall all those wonderful holidays we’ve had in Russia as a family. I remember each minute of this very much anticipated holiday. My dad would always bring home a Christmas tree (once we even discovered a nest inside it, what a shame), and my mom would always surprise us with mandarins and some tasty meals. It was always a fun process…We would spend a whole evening just decorating our Christmas tree, laughing simultaneously at our cat, who would always play with every tree decoration we had. Some memorable times….

What I try to do is to make it so those memories would come to life. And, the same as my mom, every New Year’s I cook some of my most (at least I like to think so) delightful meals. I like to keep family traditions flowing. I even decorated a Christmas tree already. And bought some mandarins. What is missing is a plan for what kind of food will appear on the table, and maybe some snow…Because the second will not show itself here (although it would be very interesting to see some snow on palms), I will settle for the plan for the party table.

This year I would like to make an accent on the entrees. More entrees and less huge, space-taking in the tummy meals. The verdict for New Year’s is:

1. Round Tomato Slices with garlic, mozarrella cheese and fresh basil covered in good old-fashioned olive oil.

2. Fried round eggplants covered with mayo and garlic.

3. Stuffed mushrooms with cheese and squash. 

4. Traditional Russian potato salad.

5. Let’s say hello to Russian Mimosa salad. 

6. Home made sandwiches with butter and sardines. 

7. Salmon wrap with lettuce and cream. 

8. Whole chicken done in the oven.

9. Fillet Salamon baked with spices. 

9. Potatoes with yellow peppers and onion,  also in the oven.

10. And of course, something for the sweet tooth, something that I haven’t thought about yet. 

Merry Christmas Everyone and Happy New Year!

The secret of Russian Borscht…

Has ir happened to you that someone told you that the only Russian soup they know of is Borscht. However, when you genuinely want to figure out how on earth you cook this one, they simply smile at you and say something in the genre: “Ask Google”.

Today, my dear readers, is the day I am telling you everything you need to know about Borscht. Let’s just start by saying that there are two types of this soup: one that is made with meat stock and pieces of beef, and the other, the one that is more simple, is prepared with a bunch of vegetables put together (afterall, this is what each soup is about, and it all depends on the mixture you put in your soup)

Its quite quick to make, really. You just have to have a little bit of patience and wait. The secret is in vinegar and tomato paste, it all works out for the best if you pace yourself and put just the right amount. The more tomato paste there is, the less red you’ll get as the end result. The more vinegar you put, the more zest there is.

This is how I make it:

Ingredients:

1 medium beet, 2 carrots, 1 big onion, 1.5 liter of vegetable stock (or you may make it simply with water), half a cabbage, 3 potatoes, 4 cloves of garlic, tomato paste, vinegar, parsley.

The Works:

Get your veggie stock in a saucepan, let it come to a boiling point (or water) Dice the onion and your carrots. Put them in the frying pan (onion first), let them fry for 2 minutes until the onion changes color and becomes transparent. While these two are working together, slice your cabbage into narrow bands, peel the skin off the beet and shred it! Get the mixture of onions and carrots into the stock, cabbage as well. Do not forget to peel the potatoes and dice them nicely, get them together with the party.

Wait for about 10 minutes, let all the veggetables soak  each others juices in. While those are cooking, get working on the beet. You have shredded it already, so no worries there! All that is left to do is to fry it a little without any oil on a frying pan, about 2 minutes. Then, add some tomato paste (I added about 3 tablespoons), mix, let it fry once more.  Take vinegar and add 2 tablespoons into the mix, stir a little.  Wait for a couple of minutes, then add it to the stock. Mix, so that you’ll have a nice even red-orange color.

Slice garlic cloves and cut some parsley. Save these two for last, as you have to let Borsch to actually become one. *Taste your food! Always! If you feel like there is not enough zest for you, and the vinegar you put refuses to work the way it’s supposed to, don’t be afraid to put some more, just taste it afterwards! After some time waiting, add parsley and diced garlic, mix and…wait a little, for about 5 minutes. Let garlic do its job. Of couse, do not forget about salt and pepper, these according to your own taste.

Your first Borscht is ready! Enjoy every bit of it!

Yours truly,

Katya.

Behold…A quick homemade pizza!

I  am going to let you in on a little secret…I am a person who if they really want something, they will get it one way or another. And, if I have some sort of a craving, I have to fulfill it, maybe not right away, but still…The thought about my craving will interfere in some way until  I get it over with.

Yesterday, my desire for pizza got a hold of me. I did not want to spend any money, though. So what a better way to get over a craving for something than get working on cooking it? (that is, if we are talking about foods, of course) Plus, if prepared, the pizza will not be just for me, but for my whole family…I actually had everything to make pizza in my fridge, so why not make it?

Behold…A quick homemade pizza is coming

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons of sour cream, 9 tablespoons of flour, 2 eggs, 4 tablespoons of mayo + anything you have in your fridge that you think will make a good pizza (I took olives, feta cheese, regular cheese to sprinkle on the pizza, tomatoes, special pizza sauce (you can buy it in any store nowadays), sausage, fresh basil, red pepper, an onion, oregano) I have to say I completely forgot about mushrooms, but you can try it and tell me how they mix in there as well.

The Works:

Mix sour cream, flour, eggs and mayo in a large bowl. * What you will get is sort of  dough, very liquid, if not, just add more eggs…Pour the mixture in a frying pan, greased with butter.

Before my stove's magical works!

Before my stove’s magical works!

Then, comes the fun part! Slice and dice all of your favorite ingredients for your pizza, add pizza sauce, sprinkle some cheese on it and….DONE!All you have to do now is just put it on the stove for several minutes with a closed lid. When the cheese starts to melt..

YOUR PIZZA IS READY!

Some thoughts and feedback: I put a lot of stuff on the pizza, so there was a lot of juices flowing around. The result was, my own war with the frying pan, as it was hard to get it out of it. I let it cool for a while, thinking that it would make it easier, it actually did make it so, but the downside was, the pizza was cold! The lesson is to pour the mixture in a better frying pan. This one was kind of old…Plus, maybe it would be better to put it in the oven…It might actually consume less time.

The happy side of it all, this baby was tasty, and did not take a lot of time. All of it about 20 minutes. It tasted like a Margarita. Once again, took me back to Italy!  I think this would be a nice addition to my New Years fancy table plans. A nice entree so to speak….So, just wait for my New Years table menu!

Arivederci, my dear readers and followers!

So what came first, a chicken or an egg? – Fried chicken for dinner!

After a long and busy morning I just needed something to relax. What’s better than cooking? Cooking chicken in the oven! A simple, yet deligtful dish…And again, it does not take a long time to make it. All you need is just some spices, sauces, a tiny bit of passion and your own hands.

I took every second I had before work to prepare this one. Most of the work is done by the oven though, so I did not exactly go here by the name of the greatest chef in the world. If anything, the winner of this title would be my hardworking oven.

The secret is:

Take about 1.5 kg of chicken, 2 table spoons of mayo, 2 of mustard, any spices you would like to shine through, salt, pepper, 3-4 cloves of garlic, some honey.

Before the oven

Before the oven

The Works:

Put your chicken into a large bowl, mix in all the ingredients. * I advise you use your hands to mix. Make sure all the chicken is covered with this magical stuff. Honey will actually make your chicken look golden in color.

Next step is to preheat your oven. * You can actually do it while you are preparing the chicken. Temperature to the highest one possible when the logic behind it is to let your chicken fry faster, so it would not be dry inside. Get it in and wait for about 30 minutes! YOUR CHICKEN IS READY!

A great recipe for someone who does not like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen (yes, even I have moments like this)

More on the topic, a little something that sounds tasty and quick to me

The meaning of BreakFAST or Sandwiches + Toasts + Avocado = Perfection

BreakFAST! Even its own name hints on the most important meal of the day to be simple and fast. Simplicity lots of times leads to perfection. Unfortunatelly, nowadays, the word “fast” is often associated with Fastfood. It does not have to be this way. I declare that even meals that do not require a lot of time from you, have to become healthy masterpieces. So what if here we are talking about piecies of bread? It is still healthier than eating some pie from some fastfood place in the morning. I hope many of you here wll nod in agreement.

On that note, I am proudly presenting to you these small, not at all time consuming sandwiches and toasts that I made today to spoil myself and my beloved!  It was worth every minute spent!

For toasts: Take an egg, pour in some milk (pretend that you are making an omlet), add some salt. Mix together. Take 3 pieces of sliced bread, baithe them in the mixture. Preheat your fruing pan (Yay, I actually used a grill), put your little breads on the frying pan, fry from both sides. And, they are done! Congrats you nailed them! Simple, huh?

Hello, we are grilled toasts

Hello, we are grilled toasts

At this point you can go crazy and add anything that you like to them, I used some ham and cheese…simplicity again! 

20131204_104318 (1)For sandwiches:  Take some bread, get anything you want on it! Yes, I used humus (I fell in love with it here, they actually add some tasty stuff to come with it – spices, for example). After comes the ham, again, any ham your stomach will celebrate from! And you don’t have to stop there…I covered the ham in a special eggplant and mayo cream (not a lot, though)…Yummmmmmm!

Oh, and avocado! How could I forget?! Just slice it into small pieces. Cover it with a good quality olive oil and salt.

Come, your breakfast is ready!

To let your stomachs celebrate even further:

Family Barbecue Meeting or meat in great marinade

I am a meat person. Can’t live without it! How much I’ve waited for this to happen! It seems that each week we would start talking about it, but then, something would occur that would make us postpone this wonderful meat feast! Finally, I got some meat marinated in with special spices. I am very happy to tell you all about it. Even now writing about it makes my stomach twirl…

The marinade is quite simple. All I had to do is to take about 3 kg of sliced meat, put it in a large saucepan…Then, pay attention, put about 3-4 table spoons of soy sauce, mix in a table spoon of mustard (I had dijon), get 2-3 table spoons of honey, slice a couple of onions into perfect round rings, and vous-a-la, we are finished! *Just cover it with a lid, let it marinate in the fridge for about 24 hours. The more the better, as it is all a process, let the meat soak in all the juices… On the day of the barbecue, I just added salt and pepper.barbecue

I want to say thank you to my precious man who took on this journey on the grill. Tnank you! We really had a blast, the meat turned out to be soft and juicy. Remember this veggie garnish I prepared specifically for it, well, I did not need it. At least the first time I tried the meat. Seriously, I was like a dinasour waiting for its pray…

The Lesson: Aside from the fact that I will need to create more meat recipes, this one really helped me to relax and have more time for myself this weekend! Really enjoyed family time!

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