Avocado-Cilantro Eggs- two ways! By Nikki

EGGS!

EGGS!

Happy Easter! In light of the celebrations, the festivals, and the Easter bunny, I know there are lots of EGGS being used this weekend! Colored and dyed eggs, chocolate eggs and of course, plastic eggs filled with candy, toys and other things children love to receive. But as an adult, I most look forward to deviled eggs. I have posted my Granny’s deviled eggs on The Prague Basket as part of the Thanksgiving post. They are traditional and delicious… you should try them! But recently, I came across a recipe for Avocado-Cilantro eggs. The best part about this recipe is that you will use NO MAYO! I do not like Mayonnaise so this recipe is excellent for me. I enjoyed these eggs on their own; however, as I was in a hurry to get out the door for an Easter weekend trip, I crushed these eggs to make a quick egg salad! I LOVE an egg salad sandwich. I enjoyed mine open faced before heading to the airport… However I will make them again in the Spring for a picnic or a quick summer sandwich! However you choose to eat these eggs (and I know you will!)- ENJOY!

Deviled Eggs

deviled eggs

Avocado-Cilantro Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1 ripe avocado
1/2 tsp lime juice
1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
A few dashes of Tabasco sauce
A few grinds of pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

1. Mash together avocado and egg yolks until smooth.

2. Add lime juice, tabasco and salt- mix well.

3. Add cilantro and pepper and mix until combined.

4. Fill egg halves to desired  amount and top with a cilantro leaf!

5. ENJOY!

Egg Salad

open faced egg salad sammy

Follow the same recipe as above but instead of filling the eggs, crush the egg whites into the mixture until blended!

Fill the middle of a sandwich or eat open faced like me!

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My Mama’s Leche Flan- an Easter must have! by L

Got eggs?

Got eggs?

Now that the Farmers’ Markets are back in full force, I often pick up a carton of ten lovely brown eggs to add to my basket. Eggs are taken quite seriously at the markets. Some stands only specialize in selling eggs and of course they come in all sizes: small, medium and large.

My mom’s Leche Flan recipe calls for a big rally of egg yolks, but don’t let this frighten you away. After you take a bite, you won’t even think twice about your cholesterol increasing or your blood sugar doubling. This rich sweet, creamy caramel custard has always graced our family’s table at Christmas and Easter time. Since it only makes a bi-annual appearance, there was never any reason for me to fear its’ intense calories and sweetness. Although, after you realize how easy it is to make, you might have trouble only baking it twice a year.

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Leche Flan

1/4 to 1/2  cup of Sugar

8 egg yolks

1 1/4 cups of Condensed Milk (about 1 can)

1 1/2 cups of Evaporated Milk (about 1 can)

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 tsp Grated Lime Zest (optional)

-Heat oven to 180C or 325F degrees

– Pour sugar in a 8” round baking tin: silicone or aluminum works fine

-Over a low flame, hold the pan over the heat and let the sugar caramelize. This can take a few minutes. This is the trickiest part of the recipe. You don’t want to burn any fingers and you don’t want the sugar to burn.  As the sugar is melting, swirl the pan around so that the bottom and the edges are evenly coated. Put aside when done.

-In a bowl, combine the egg yolks, both milks, along with the grated lime zest and vanilla. Stir and mix all ingredients well.

-Pour into the baking pan. Cover pan with foil.

-Using a larger baking pan that can hold the flan, place it in the oven filled halfway with water (bain-marie.)

-Then place the flan inside the steam bath.

-Bake for 1 hour.

-When done, let cool and refrigerate  for at least 2 hours until ready to serve. (I usually make this dessert the night before)

-When you are ready to serve it, be sure to carefully flip the flan over to display the beautiful caramelized top and let the syrup fall along the sides. I slide a knife along the rim to loosen it and then take the platter where it will be served, place it on top and flip it over as quickly as possible.  Garnish with mint or berries.

Some Like ’em Scrambled, Some Like ’em Poached by Allison

Well truth be known, I like my eggs in a variety of ways. When I was growing up it was scrambled and that’s the only way I ate them . Then I ventured into fried egg land after I had some friends over and my friend E was fixing the yummiest looking fried eggs ever for his wife and I decided in the moment to indulge in one of his concoctions and boy was it delicious. Heading out for brunch on the weekend at cafes in Prague was something I did became part of the fabric of my life here in Prague. After going Gluten-Free, it was eggs that I was able to order when I was out at a restaurant as pancakes and muffins and even ham were off the list. One of my very favorite places to go for brunch is Cafe Lounge and they make the most amazing poached eggs. I kept thinking to myself, “I should learn how to make poached eggs”. But then I always heard how difficult it was to make them and you have to have the “egg poacher contraption” to assist you and such so I delayed my experiment….until Saturday. It was high time to do an experiment and see if I could have some success in making my very own poached eggs. So off I ventured to the Farmer’s Market Saturday afternoon on the river. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, and people were feeding the ducks and swans alongside the river again. It was if the heaviness in the air had lifted, it was the weekend. It was time for a little indulgence, relaxation and fun it seemed. A live band playing alternative music, children sipping hot chocolate, people lined up to get their dairy products for the week and the steam coming off the are all images that you can soak up in a few minutes of experiencing the Farmer’s Market on the river. Oh yeah, a view of the castle and this beautiful city too!


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So it turns out there are many, many different methods to poaching eggs and everyone seems to have a way that works for them or at least so it seems. But I needed to “czech it out” for myself and see what worked for me! So I tried one method and it totally did not work, then I combined two methods and I achieved the infamous poached egg. Now, does it look like the poached eggs from Cafe Lounge? Almost:)

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Note: The water is a bit cloudy as the first egg attempt was an epic fail and it “clouded” the water. The important part here is that the water temperature must be around 190 degrees F, not boiling!

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I chose to top my poached egg with my red pepper pesto that I often keep a supply of in the freezer and all of that on top of a bed of spinach. It was tasty to have a fancy egg at my house for brunch this morning, yum:)

So here’s what I did:

Ingredients and Tools

Fresh eggs (however many you would like, and yes they have to be fresh eggs)

A needle (3/8 inches thick or strong enough to poke a hole in the egg or a push pin)

A wide metal mesh spoon or a slotted spoon

2 1/2 Tablespoons of white vinegar

a small cup or bowl

pot for boiling the water

water of course:)

So I used the trusty Julia Child approach which can be found here except I didn’t use a metal poached egg holder) but found using the push pin to take the air out of the large end of the egg to be helpful. I also used Smitten Kitchen’s methodology of creating a “whirlpool” in the water to help the egg take shape. Using white vinegar worked well from Marks & Spencer but it can also be found at the Thai Asian store in Vinohrady as it helps to congeal the egg white more quickly or so they say! The temperature of the water is key like I noted above and how close the cup is to the water when you pour the egg into the hot water is and how quickly you do it. The closer to the water (get as close as you can without burning your fingers) and the quicker you can pour the egg into the water, the more successful you’ll be in making a delicious poached egg. You can then use a slotted spoon to gently shape the egg while it is cooking in the water for about 4 minutes or however firm you like your eggs. Cooking them for 4 minutes usually yield a soft and runny center. You can then remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and place in a bath of ice water to stop the egg from cooking and to rinse off the vinegar, then eat as desired! While my poached eggs aren’t perfect, they are incredible tasty! Hope you enjoy your eggs whichever way you like ’em!

I Love Pancakes! By Nikki

mmm... delicious!

mmm… delicious!

Do you see that photo? That is a pancake… some people would call that a Dutch Baby and others call it a German Pancake… I’d say that is one heck of a pancake and very tasty. I love pancakes of all types- big flap jacks, little silver dollars, buttermilk or blueberry. When it comes to pancakes there are endless possibilities! This oven baked pancake is not just any pancake; to me this represents comfort, love and memories of childhood.

The first memory I have of tasting this sweet, fluffy pancake brings to mind my brother, D. Like his older sister (that’s me!) he has many great qualities, varied interests, and he can bake a thing or two! I don’t remember where he learned to bake this particular pancake, but he was the German Pancake master! He always used mom’s loaf pan, and when he pulled the pan out from the oven, the fluffy sides would fold into one another across the middle of the pancake… then collapse into any remnants of the pool of butter used to grease the pan. My younger brother had the magic touch when it came to making this sweet and buttery pancake- and he always presented it sprinkled with a little (actually, a LOT!) of powdered sugar on top!

yummy goodness

yummy goodness

I recently ordered Spaldova  or spelt flour with my local dairy order. I used it in this pancake along with my bio butter and I swear it makes a difference in the taste. It was almost a little nutty! This is an easy, one dish recipe that whips up quickly, and it always tastes great. I think I might enjoy it best in my pajamas with a mug of Earl Grey tea and the sunshine pouring through the windows… or with a loved one! However you serve it, I hope you enjoy it!

German Pancake A.K.A Dutch Baby

German Pancake A.K.A Dutch Baby

Oven Pancake

(This is often referred to as a Dutch Baby, German Pancake or a Bismarck in many cook books and food blogs!)

Ingredients:

3 eggs (at room temperature), 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup flour, 7 tsp butter, 1/8 tsp vanilla extract, 1/8 tsp cinnamon

Note: You can also enjoy this pancake with warm maple syrup, flavored syrups, fruit compotes… try it savory by omitting the vanilla and cinnamon from batter and serve with savory toppings… like sauteed mushrooms and onions- yum!

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (200 degrees C)
  2. Beat eggs until frothy
  3. Add milk, flour, vanilla, and cinnamon
  4. Beat together (by hand) about 5 mins. Batter will be thin and frothy.
  5. Choose your baking dish! (I use a pie plate, my brother uses a loaf pan)
  6. Place the dish- EMPTY-  into the oven for 3-5 minutes.
  7. After warming baking dish, take out of oven and melt butter directly into the pan.
  8. Pour in batter and bake for 20-25 minutes. Pancake will be fluffy and golden at edges when ready…
  9. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and eat hot out of the oven!
  10. Enjoy… maybe even with a loved one!

P.S I love you little brother!

Spring’s Not Here, but the Farmers’ Markets Are! by L

Náplavka Farmers’ Market

Náplavka Farmers’ Market

The sun has been quite a tease around here in Prague. We’ve gotten a few warm days, but then the temperatures suddenly go down and we’re back to winter all over again. The coldest of seasons continues to linger on, but I know spring is coming because the farmers’ markets are back! A favorite of mine is the Náplavka Farmers’ Market, located on the Vltava River in Prague 2. There are a variety of stalls selling food and homemade goods by local artisans and farmers. On a good day, you can find a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. Unfortunately, the day I visited, it wasn’t a good day for fresh produce. However, if you were looking for smoked meats, dairy products, fresh eggs, bread, chicken, fish or pop-up restaurants serving pasta, Balkan food, a cup of Belgian hot chocolate or a plate of fish and chips, then this would have been a good day for you.

The Market Crowd

The Market Crowd

There were cartons of potatoes, carrots, parsips, cabbage and onions which were all signs that winter was still here. Despite the bleak variety of vegetables and lack of fruits, it was still great to enjoy a sunny Saturday stroll at the market.  I indulged in a fresh almond croissant, along with a cup of Belgian hot chocolate to warm me up. In the end, I bought a bag of carrots and decided to make some fresh carrot-ginger-miso salad dressing. It’s not exactly salad weather, it still feels like we need some hearty soups (or cake in my case) to get us through these chilly days. However, summer will be here sooner than we imagine and I need to get ready for those sleeveless tops and shorts!

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Carrot Ginger Miso Dressing

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2 tablespoons peanut, corn or vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons white miso
2 medium carrots, grated
1 inch ginger root, diced into small pieces
1-2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
a few tablespoons of cold water

Put all the ingredients in your beloved blender, except the water.
After running it for a few minutes, slowly add a few tablespoons of water
until you get the right consistency.
I will leave that up to you, as some people prefer a creamier dressing and some a
thinner, liquid like type.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Mixed Greens with Fried Tofu Salad

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1 block firm tofu
Cornstarch to coat tofu
1 -2 tsp. salt
Your choice of mixed greens ( I used a bag of baby spinach leaves and some romaine lettuce)
1 tomato, sliced
1 scallion, diced
Neutral oil for frying

Drain and slice tofu into thin blocks.
Cover all sides in cornstarch and salt mixture.
Heat oil in shallow frying pan.
When ready, add the coated pieces of tofu.
It should take about 3-4 minutes for each side,
until it begins to turn golden.
Remove and drain excess oil.

Toss all the vegetables in a bowl.
Cut up the tofu into small square pieces.
Add to the salad.
Serve with carrot-ginger miso dressing.

Gluten-Free No Bake Lemon Cheesecake by Allison

So I’ve been experimenting with tvaroh here in Prague which is a high protein low-fat dairy curd type cheese, kind of like cream cheese without all of the fat (well at least there is some choice when it comes to tvaroh cheese and you can choose which type of fat content you’d prefer). It doesn’t have any sweetness, so I livened  it up with some powdered sugar, vanilla and lemon juice and some cream! I made mini frozen cheesecakes for a get-together and they were delicious! The crust is not crunchy or crumbly like a typical cheesecake but more of a tasty slightly sweet and nutty surprise combined with the tartness of the lemon makes it a great combination. I happen to have mini cupcake molds and those worked great as the recipe filled two small pans and it made 24 two-bite sized delights. This recipe goes together fast and after you set the pans in the freezer, they are ready to enjoy in just a few short hours!

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Ingredients:

No-Bake Cheesecake filling:

Tvaroh, 2 packages, 250 grams each (I buy the .8% fat content)

about 6 Tbsp. powdered sugar – moucka

1 tsp. vanilla

1 small container of cream – 190 grams (I used 19%)

juice of 2 lemons

Crust: 

1 cup of almonds, crushed or pulsed in a coffee grinder or in a food processor

4-8 pitted dates

pinch of sea salt

Directions:

Pulse almonds in a food processor or coffee grinder until you can see chunks of almonds and combine with pitted dates and pulse until combined. Add a sprinkle of sea salt and pulse again. Press into mini-cupcake molds with the back of a wet spoon for best results. Prepare cheesecake mixture by combining all ingredients and pour over the crusts and fill the molds up to the top rim. Cover pans with foil and place in freezer! Pull out and use a knife to loosen the edges away from the pan and let set a few minutes before serving. It will be a frozen delicious treat at most anytime of the day! Enjoy!

Loaded Sweet Potato with Spicy Black Beans By Nikki

fresh toppings for spicing things up...

fresh and colorful

Last night, I went to dinner with good friends in an area of town I do not frequent often. By the time we left the restaurant the clouds had lifted, the rain stopped, and although there was a slight chill in the air, walking though Mala Strana was a beautiful way to end our evening out. Recently, I have been making an effort to look around me with fresh eyes when I am walking to and from familiar places. I find that in my daily commute I often become detached from the beautiful city I live in and miss out on some amazing views! Continuing my efforts to notice new things, I mapped my long run to include streets I don’t usually walk on. I noticed a really beautiful church in the Karlin neighborhood. I saw a new Mama Coffee location on a street close to a friends house. I also noticed a really long set of stairs that would be great for cross-training on.

garlic, korriander, fresh chili, and cumin

garlic, koriander, fresh chili, and cumin

By the time I was finished with my run, I was STARVING! But after an evening filled with four types of beef, I was NOT in the mood for animal protein to regenerate my muscles. In fact, I have been trying to get my protein through other natural sources such as quinoa and beans. I had a friend stopping by for lunch and a few hours of working on a project. That meant I needed to prepare something both healthy and Gluten Free!

yum yum- sweet potato

yum yum- sweet potato

I recently saw this recipe on the Biggest Loser. (Yes, I am publicly admitting that I watch an American reality television show.) Reality TV or not, these people are struggling with real issues of obesity, emotional eating and low self esteem! I often find myself crying throughout the episodes because to some degree I do understand what they are going through.  I have come very far on the journey of maintaining a hefty weight loss, and I understand the challenges of emotional eating, gaining weight, and hiding behind food and fat! Well, lucky for me today, I had two sweet potatoes that needed to be used. So I loaded them with spicy black beans then topped it with fresh tomato and avocado. Yum! I would have preferred a few jalapenos on top or fresh salsa but it is not necessary… the flavors in this are very tasty! You can feel good about eating this loaded potato. Enjoy!

Loaded Sweet Potato

Loaded Sweet Potato

Loaded Sweet Potato with Spicy Black Beans

ingredients: 1 small red pepper (diced), 1/3 of fresh chili (finely diced), 1 clove garlic (chopped), 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon dried koriander, 1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley (chopped), 1 can low sodium black beans (drained and rinsed), half a ripe avocado, 5-6 plum tomatoes (chopped), 1/2 lime

Optional: You can additionally top this with your favorite cheese, sour cream, or salsa for added flavor and creativeness.

Directions:

Fork the sweet potatoes 6-8 times each, wrap in tin foil and bake in the oven at 180 degrees C or 375 degrees F for approx 30-45 minutes. (Length of baking time depends on the size of your potatoes!)

 Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a medium saucepan.

Add garlic, koriander, cumin, and fresh chili. Heat for 3 minutes then add red pepper.

When peppers are soft add black beans and squeeze the juice of 1/2 fresh lime.

Cook on a low heat for 8-10 minutes. Stirring occasionally.

Just before the potatoes are finished, add and stir the parsley into the beans.

Stuff the baked potatoes with the black bean mixture then top with the avocado and tomatoes.

Eat it up!

 

 

 

 

 

Organic at your Door by L

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This week’s box of organic goodies.

During the winter season, I have come to rely on online shopping and free home delivery to do our grocery shopping. It’s not that I’m unable to brave the cold, but getting two toddlers zipped into their winter suits, schlepping a double stroller down the snowy sidewalks and then pushing it back with the additional weight of the grocery bags (which dangle or are stuffed in any available part of the stroller) makes what should be a simple task, a pain in the @$$!!

Fresh bedýnky has offered some comfort in that area of my life. They are a local organic food supplier that delivers great quality vegetables, fruits, dairy, meats and bread. They are also an excellent alternative to the big chain supermarkets. At this time of the year, the shelves can be scarce with appetizing produce. I end up paying a bit more for our food, but at least my bananas don’t show any signs of mold after 2 days of being in our home. Much of Fresh bedýnky’s items can also be found around Prague’s bio/organic food shops. However, instead of going out to do the shopping, I choose to spoil myself with the free home delivery because that means I get more time to play with my daughters.

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Signs of spring have begun to peek through winter’s haze and that means that the farmers markets will soon be a part of our lives again. We have been blessed with a few sunny days here in Prague, but winter continues to keep its cold grasp. So before it is time to start shedding off all those layers, here is one more recipe to ease those wintry chills.

Golden Broth (The Laurel’s Kitchen cookbook)

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup yellow split peas

2 tablespoons oil

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 quarts hot water

Saute onion, garlic and peas until brown.

Stir in turmeric and add water.

Let simmer for at least half hour.

Strain for a thin broth, puree for a thick one.

Golden Noodle Soup

2 quarts Golden Broth

handful of whole wheat noodles

1 cup each diced celery, potatoes, carrots

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

Bring broth to a boil in a deep heavy pan.

In a non stick pan, saute vegetables in oil for 5-8 minutes.

Lower heat and allow broth to simmer.

Add vegetables and noodles.

Let cook for half hour.

Before serving, add parsley and adjust the seasonings.

Gluten-Free Lemon Polenta Cake by Allison


Polenta in a cake? Whaaaaaat? I’ve had polenta in restaurants, tried it in the cooking class in Tuscany two summers ago but was frightened away by the amount of butter the chef put in it. I mean, of course it tasted like dynamite but yikes, I could not eat it prepared that way on a semi-regular basis, would just feel too guilty. I tried it in a wonderful Italian cafe in Berlin in a vegetarian “lasagna” type dish where the lasagna noodles were replaced with thin slices of polenta. It was amazing and flavorful and the chef assured me it was healthy.  I had polenta in my cupboard as I’ve been meaning to experiment with it for quite some time so I just thought, hey why not? Worth a shot! Sooooooo….I ground my own almonds in my coffee grinder (thank you Tesco for the good deal on that coffee grinder). Only a few ingredients to whip this cake up and all of which I seem to have in my cupboard or refrigerator most all of the time! Could this be a new “go-to” cake? Well yes it indeed is! Wait until you taste it! It is tart, sweet, nutty and fabulous! I didn’t want to change a thing after the first, second or even last bite. Try it and let me know what you think…. IMG_0101

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Lemon Polenta Cake

This recipe is from Nigella Lawson and can be found on her website here

For the cake

  • 200 gram(s) unsalted butter (soft (plus some for greasing))
  • 200 gram(s) caster sugar
  • 200 gram(s) ground almond(s)
  • 100 gram(s) Polenta (or cornmeal)
  • 1.5 teaspoon(s) baking powder (gluten-free)
  • 3 medium egg(s)
  • 2 medium lemon(s) (zest – save juice for syrup)

For the syrup

  • 2 lemon(s) (juice)
  • 125 gram(s) Icing sugar

Directions:

  1. Line the base of a 23cm springform cake tin with baking parchment and grease its sides lightly with butter.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar till pale and whipped, either by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon, or using a freestanding mixer.
  4. Mix together the almonds, polenta and baking powder, and beat some of this into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while.
  5. Finally, beat in the lemon zest and pour, spoon or scrape the mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.
  6. It may seem wibbly but, if the cake is cooked, a cake tester should come out cleanish and, most significantly, the edges of the cake will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin. remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, but leave in its tin.
  7. Make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and icing sugar in a smallish saucepan.
  8. Once the icing sugar’s dissolved into the juice, you’re done.
  9. Prick the top of the cake all over with a cake tester (a skewer would be too destructive), pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before taking it out of its tin.