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Spiced Apple Cider - Have a Sweet Weekend!

Apple Cider 2

"It was the sight of apple blossom 
on the tree outside the kitchen window
that set me to begin a book.
I didn't know then what I saw
or what it was I did
but hope was there, full as buds.

and now I eat the apples
and the book feeds me.

Yesterday
I dragged the ladder out
and climbed the tree,
its branches circled my waist
as if we where about to dance.
I plopped the apples down,
they made the beat of music"...

Kate Llewellyn



Ingredients:

  • 6 cups apple cider
  • orange juice from one orange
  • brown sugar to taste
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 whole cloves
  • cardamom to taste
  • 2 small pieces of peeled fresh ginger (optional)
Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer mixture 15 minutes to blend flavors. Strain cider into mugs, and serve hot with a pie crust tops.


Apple Cider 3

6 Comments

Yellow Tomato and Apple Chutney


"No spring, nor Summer Beauty
hath such grace,
As I have seen in one Autumn-all face".

John Donne

Apple and Yelow Tomato Chutney 1

Chutneys are made from finely cut ingredients, cooked slowly with vinegar, a sweetener and frequently spices or other flavorings to make a thick, savory jam-like mixture. Onions and apples are often included in chutneys, but almost any fruits and vegetables can be used. Chutneys should be matured in cool dark place for at least 2 months before eating.

Important notes before you start making chutney:
  • Chutneys are made from finely cut ingredients, cooked slowly with vinegar, a sweetener and frequently spices or other flavorings to make a thick, savory jam-like mixture. Onions and apples are often included in chutneys, but almost any fruits and vegetables can be used. Chutneys should be matured in cool dark place for at least 2 months before eating.
  • Use malt vinegar for its intense flavor. Wine vinegar or cider vinegar are better for preserving colorful or light-colored vegetables because they will not spoil the color of the vegetables.
  • The choice of sugar will affect the end result: brown sugar gives the richest flavor and color; row sugar and golden granulated sugar give a caramel flavor; and white sugar helps to retain the color of light ingredients.
  • Never cover the pan when making chutney. Cooking the preserve uncovered allows the liquid to evaporate and the chutney to thicken. Towards the end, stir the chutney frequently to prevent it from catching and burning on the base of the pan.
  • Always store chutney in a cool dark place: warmth can cause it to ferment, and bright sunlight can affect the color.

Yelow Tomato

Ingredients: 
  • 4 lb green tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 1 lb cooking apples, peeled cored and chopped 
  • 1 lb onions chopped 
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. pickling spice
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cardamom 
  • 2 1/2 cups cider vinegar 
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar

Directions:

Place the tomatoes, apples, onions and garlic in a large pan and add the salt and cardamom.

Tie the pickling spice in a piece of muslin (cheesecloth) and add to the ingredients in the pan.

Add half the vinegar to the pan and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour, or until the chutney is reduced and thick, stirring frequently.

Put the sugar and remaining vinegar in a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then add to the chutney. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours until chutney is thick, stirring it occasionally.

Remove the muslin bag from the chutney, then spoon the hot chutney into warmed sterilized jars. Cover and seal immediately.


Apple and Yelow Tomato Chutney 2

5 Comments

Zucchini Walnut Fritters with Lemon - Mint Yogurt Sauce



These crunchy fritters have chopped walnuts and a lot of herbs. Can be served as a side dish with salmon or roasted chicken.

Mint Sauce 1

This Yogurt with Lemon and Mint sauce cools the heat from fiery curries, and adds richness to Zucchini Pancakes. You also can serve it on the salad.

Zucchini Pancakes 3

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups coarsely grated zucchini
  • salt and freshly ground pepper as needed
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 1/3 cup chopped dill
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped basil
  • 2/3 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
  • olive oil for pan
  • capers for serving (optional)

For the sauce:
  • 2 cups of yogurt 
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup mint, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • salt and freshly ground pepper as needed

Zucchini Pancakes 4

Directions:

For the sauce: Combine the yogurt with all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Place the grated zucchini in the bowl. Sprinkle with salt and let stand for 30 minutes. Squeeze the zucchini to remove as much liquid as possible. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, scallions, eggs, oat bran, dill, parsley, basil, salt and pepper until evenly blended. Fold the walnuts into the zucchini mixture.

Add the oil to a skillet and heat over medium-high until the surface of the oil  shimmers. Working in batches, drop heaping tablespoons of zucchini mixture into the hot oil. Fry until the fritters are golden brown and cooked through, about 3 - 4 minutes per side. Serve immediately with yogurt lemon sauce and capers.


Zucchini Pancakes 1

7 Comments

Melon Jam with Candied Ginger and Lemon Peel



There is something magical about making jam at home with ingredients that you planted and harvested yourself. It brings back memories from my childhood. We did not have the sweets readily available at the store year round. Thus, my mother would preserve the berries for the cold and snowy winter days. It was a bliss to have the fresh berries in syrup over homemade crepes for breakfast. As a mother myself I use different and unique recipes every year for my children. There are always various sweet pleasures in a jar stored in my pantry, such as strawberry with chocolate mint, sour cherry jam, pears with vanilla beans and apricot with lavender among others. In the fall I even make jams from different varieties of pumpkin. 

This summer I wanted to try something new and unique. I had a batch of honey dew melons that gave off a deliciously sweet aroma when you cut them. I wanted to enjoy this taste during the change of seasons and decided to use them in a new jam recipe. When I was making it last night - the house became filled with the sweet honey taste that lingered in the air. I hope that you will try making this and enjoy it with your own family during your mornings or giving it as a holiday gift to your loved ones.

Melon Jam 3

Serves: 3 jars (250ml each)

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium honeydew melon, seeds & skin removed, diced to 1/4-inch cubes
  • 60% of the melon weight in sugar 
  • 1 organic lemon, juice and peel (cut thin slices of lemon rind)
  • candied ginger, cut it in thin slices about 2 Tbsp.

Directions:

In a big bowl mix together the melon, lemon juice, lemon peel, ginger and sugar. Stir well. Let them macerate in the fridge for 12 hours.

When ready, drain the pulp and put it in a smaller bowl. Put the juice and sugar (by now they are well mixed) in a large pan (cast iron, heavy stainless steel, or copper), and bring slowly to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes. Then add the pulp and cook 30 more minutes, or until melon cubes become translucent and liquid has thickened.

A good way to check if jam is done: pour a little of the cooking liquid onto a cold plate. If the cooled liquid wrinkles slightly when touched, the jam is ready. Serve jam on scones or toast, or with pâtés and fine cheeses on bread, or over plain yogurt.


Melon Jam 4

5 Comments

Oat Bran Bread with Onions, Mushrooms, Dill and Coriander Seeds



Ingredients:

  • 10 Tbsp. oat bran
  • 6 Tbsp. wheat bran
  • 6 Tbsp. fat free fromage frais or philly, room temp
  • 4 eggs, room temp
  • 1 packet of fast rise yeast
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms of your taste, chopped (I used Chanterelles)
  • 1 tsp fresh dill
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Meanwhile, in a ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm  the olive oil. When the oil is hot, put chopped onion, mushrooms and sprinkle with the fresh dill. Cook until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.

In the large bowl mix all the ingredients together with mushroom mixture. Leave it to to rise a little for about 20 minutes.

Pour mixture into a loaf pan (or two slam ones), sprinkle with seeds (sometimes I leave the batter on top of the stove for about half an hour to rise a little in the pan one more time, it makes the bread a little lighter in texture). Bake it for about 25-30 minutes until the bread is brown. Check doneness by inserting a skewer which should come out dry. Take out of the pan straight away and leave to cool on a rack.


Mushroom Bread 3

13 Comments

From Garden to Table - Spinach and Basil Smoked Salmon Roll



I cook a lot lately with basil and I love it. Here is a little history lesson from The Spice Book, 1964.

BASIL Cut with a Golden Sickle

"Cooks gifted with a flair for seasoning have ever treasured basil as one of the most savory of culinary herbs. More delicate than some of the lustier herbs, like oregano, it may be used generously in a variety of vegetables to lend a subtle, if entirely distinctive, flavor.

The word basil stems from two possible origins. One is from the Greek for "royal" or "kingly"; the other, from a tongue-twister, also Greek, meaning "lizard". In Greek mythology this was indeed a very special lizard, a basilisk, which needed only to look at or breathe upon his victim to kill him.

The Greeks believed that only the sovereign himself should be allowed to cut the basil, using a golden sickle. Yet, according to history, basil was a symbol of hate; why this was so is open to conjecture.

On the other hand, in Italy, basil has always been a token of love, and is called "kiss-me-Nicholas" in some of its regions. Any girl who wears a sprig of basil is suggesting to hear beau, and not too subtly, that there is no need for him to keep his distance. In Romania, however, things are some-what more definite: hewn a boy accepts a sprig of basil from his girl, it means he is engaged!

In its native India, basil, called tulasi, is considered a holy herb and grown in pots near every temple and dwelling of devout Hindus. Though especially sacred to Vishnu, Krishna, and Lakshmi, all the other gods esteem it. too.

Throughout the ages, doctors and herbalists have basil in medicine and magic, although there seems to have been a happy lack of agreement as to its merits for either. "This is the herb which all authors are to-gether by the ears about, and rail at one another like lawyers," wrote herbalist Nicholas Culpeper in 1652. "Galen and Dioscorides hold it not fit to be taken inwardly, and Chrysippus rails at it with downright Billingsgate rhetoric. Pliny and the Arabian Physicians defend it."

That this fragrant herb aroused controversy add to its interest. John Gerard, Shakespeare's contemporary, was enthusiastic, saying: "A smell of Basil is good for the heart and head-cureth the infirmities of the heart, taketh away sorrowfulness which cometh of melancholia and maketh a man merry and glad."

Whatever its merits or failures may be as a remedy for physical ailments, basil is a delightful contribution to a variety of dishes. Since, as mentioned earlier, it is one of the most delicate herbs, it may be used more generously than lustier ones. Basil blends tastily with tomatoes, but also enhances vegetables such as eggplant, green beans, zucchini, peas, or cooked cucumber dishes. Basil is often used with, or as a substitute for, oregano in pizza topping, spaghetti sauce, or a macaroni and cheese casserole".

Garden 01 Garden 03 Garden 02 Salmon Roll 3

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup fresh basil 
  • 3 eggs, separated  
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped 
  • 1/3 pound light cream cheese   
  • grated zest and juice of one 1/2 lemon
  • 2-3 Tbsp. capers 
  • 1/2 pound smoked salmon 
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Put the spinach into a pan with a little of water, cover and bring to boil and cook for two minutes, then drain and refresh under cold water. Squeeze spinach dry.

Place spinach, egg yolks, basil, salt and pepper into a food processor. Pulse to a smooth paste.
Whisk egg whites until they hold soft peaks then fold into the basil-spinach mixture. Spread this mixture on a baking tray lined with buttered parchment and bake for 15 minutes or until set.Turn baked roulade out onto another sheet of parchment and leave to cool.

For the filling combine cream cheese, dill, lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place the spinach roulade onto a piece of plastic wrap. Spread the filling evenly over the spinach leaving a side border of 1 cm. Sprinkle with capers, more dill if you like and black pepper. Cover the filling with the salmon slices. Roll up with the help of the plastic wrap. Twist the ends to secure.


Refrigerate for few hours or overnight.

Salmon Roll 1

8 Comments

Gazpacho with Lemon Thyme and Smoked Paprika



"Soup," declared the French gastronomer, Grimod de la Reyniere, "is to a diner what a portico or a peristyle is to a building… not only the first part of it, but must be made in such a manner as to set the tone of the whole banquet, in the same way as the overture of an opera makes known the subject of the work."

Gazpacho Soup 4

Tomatoes, both row and cooked, play such a tremendous part in our diet that it is hard to believe that they have been in the general category of edible vegetables for only about a hundred years.

Note: If you wish to peel tomatoes, hold them over a gas flame, turning constantly, or blanch them in boiling water for minute. When cool, the skins will slip off without any trouble. Remove the stem ends. If you are planning to use the tomatoes for seasoning a dish, cut in quarters and remove the seeds.This means that you will have the essence of the tomatoes without the additional liquid that results from the cooking of the seeds.

Tomatoes, cucumber and peppers from the basis of the classic, Gazpacho soup. Add a spoonful of lemon thyme and chunky roasted cherry tomatoes for a refreshing summer appetizer. This is quite a substantial soup, so follow with a light main course, such a broiled fish or chicken.

Gazpacho Soup 5

Ingredients:

  • 6 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 purple onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
  • 1 sweet red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh lemon thyme
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • few drops of Tabasco sauce to taste
  • 2 cup tomato juice
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until mixed but still chunky. Season well. Cover and chill for at least one hour before serving.


Gazpacho Soup 2

7 Comments

Stuffed Peppers in Tomato Basil Sauce



Bell peppers come in a rainbow of colors. They may be used here in any combination, as long as a few red ones are included in the mix. Red bell peppers are simply the mature stage of green bell peppers, having grown considerably sweeter with the extra time spent in the sun. Sweet yellow and orange peppers pass through a green stage as well, while purple peppers are tart like their green cousins.

Stuffed Pepper 1

Ingredients:

For the stuffing:

  • 1 pound organic ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped 
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp. oat bran
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 bell peppers
For the sauce:
  • 1 big tomato, diced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed 
  • 1 cup leaf basil
  • 8 ounces vegetable broth
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • yogurt for serving

Stuffed Pepper 2

Directions:

Cut off the top from each pepper. Reserve the tops. (Note: You may use reserved tops to top each stuffed pepper or chop and add to the sauce.) Using a spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds from the center of each pepper. Set the peppers aside.

Put the tomatoes, along with their juice, in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onions, basil,vegetable broth and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.

In a bowl, stir together the ground beef, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, oat bran and dried dill. Season with salt and pepper. Fill each pepper with some of the stuffing mixture, mounding it on the top. Place them in a casserole or baking dish, add the tomato sauce and bake in the hot oven 375F for about 20-30 minutes.


When they are done serve them with yogurt and fresh basil.

Stuffed Pepper 4

5 Comments

Hot and Juicy Shrimp with Spicy Garlic and Ginger Sauce



Possibly one of the most popular seafood dishes in the entire world, shrimp can be found on menus all across North and South America as well as in the markets of West Africa and India. It's been said that no restaurant or market is too far from the sea to offer shrimp to its customers. The name in one of the more practical ones in the world of seafood, since it comes from both the English description of a puny person, shrimpe, and the Swedish skrympa, to shrink.

There are hundreds of varieties of shrimp with a vast assortment of names but all are interchangeable in recipes. Although higher in cholesterol than most other seafood, shrimp are low in fat, very mild, and quite firm in texture. They are, perhaps, the prime example of  seafood that takes very little cooking to make them ready for the table.

Letuce 1 Shrimp 4

The shrimp marinate for two hours in a tangy mixture of cool and hot spices, impairing a full flavor to them. Then they simmer in an onion and lemon sauce.

Note: If you shell shrimp before cooking, don't throw away the shells, for they're filled with flavor. Rinse them under cold water and cook them in boiling water for 10 minutes. Then strain the liquid and use it to cook the shelled shrimp or make a sauce of your choice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed dried mint, or fresh
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp finely minced ginger
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 green onion scallions, chopped, for serving
  • lettuce for serving

Shrimp 3

Directions:

In a bowl, combine the shrimp with the mint, red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, sweet paprika, red onion, salt and pepper until well coated, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for two hours, stirring once during this time.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil (optional). Add the shrimp with spice mixture, and cook, stirring and turning the shrimp, until they just become opaque, about one minute. Lower the heat to simmer and add the lemon juice. Cook over low heat for about 3 minutes more. Sprinkle with the scallions and serve over lettuce leaves.


Shrimp 2

I just got summer issue of Sweet Dreams delicious looking magazine from Germany with my photo of Blackberry No-Bake Cheesecake in it. Take a look-))

Sweet Sweet 1

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