GF Pavlova with a Twist by Allison

I tried making pavlova two times before with my hand-held “immersion blender/tool” but it was an epic fail. The egg whites just never got stiff enough and my “Tesco special” was not making the grade. So I gave up…..until I pulled my cobalt blue KitchenAid mixer out of my top cupboard. Why yes, I had a KitchenAid mixer but couldn’t ever get it to work properly as my voltage converter I had wasn’t working properly. A friend was getting rid of hers so whallah! I knew where all of the fuse boxes were and had access to all of them in case I blew any fuses, which I did, but I got my prized KitchenAid mixer to work! This definitely called for a re-do of the pavlova as I knew my KitchenAid would be able to get the job done. You see, I was such an avid baker that I decided to carry my KitchenAid mixer back with me from the U.S. to Prague in my carry-on bag several years ago. Oh you should have seen the looks on the security personnel’s faces! They were pulling each other towards the screen and shaking their heads in disbelief! One gentleman pulled me aside and said, “Mam, is this mixer yours?!” I replied, “Yes it is sir….” with a smile of course and he said, “Oh, well Mam, we haven’t seen a KitchenAid mixer come through here before! It is quite an unusual item to carry with you but everything is fine from our side, hope it makes the journey for you” and that was that! I knew it was a questionable item to take on the plane but I did have my Mom wait before she left the airport in case they wouldn’t allow it so I could give it to her to take home. But I gave my Mom the thumbs up signal and waved goodbye before I headed towards my gate on the other side of security.
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Luckily I was flying business class on award miles and no one questioned the weight of my bag along my journey. In case you’re wondering, I was able to lift it into the overhead compartment on my own on two different flights as well! So you can imagine how rewarding it was for me to finally use it and to pull off a pavlova to serve at Easter brunch! The twist is the pavlova has cinnamon and vanilla bean in it…..and it is delicious, seriously delicious.

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Now I just need to work on preventing the cracking of the pavlova so next time I won’t cook it as long!

recipe for the pavlova slightly adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients 

For the pavlova:
6 egg whites
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 heaping teaspoon balsamic vinegar
seeds scraped from a vanilla bean

To assemble:

2 small containers or 1 large container of liquid whipped cream 40% fat
2 Tbsp. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups mixed berries for the top

To make the pavlova: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until satiny peaks form. Add the sugar, 1 spoonful at a time, and continue beating until the mixture becomes stiff and very shiny.

Using a spatula, fold in the cinnamon, balsamic vinegar, and vanilla bean. Spoon the mixture onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, forming a 10-inch circle that is about 2-inches thick.

Place in the oven, and immediately turn the oven down to 300°F or 150°C. Bake for about 1 hour . When the pavlova is done baking, it should look and feel dry on top. Remove from the oven, and let cool in a dry place overnight.

The next day, invert the pavlova onto a serving dish, peel away the parchment and reverse onto another serving dish. The pavlova shell can be made up to 48 hours in advance. Be sure to wrap it well in plastic wrap and keep it in a dry place until ready to assemble.

To make the whip cream: Use an electric whisk to beat the whipping cream until smooth. Whisk in the icing sugar and vanilla extract.

To assemble the pavolva: Dollop the whipped cream into the center of the pavlova, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle the fruit over the cream. Enjoy with friends and family!

 

 

Back-to-school breakfast frittatas!

I love spending 3-4 weeks in the US during the summer holiday. I spend most of my time with family and friends mostly enjoying all my favorite Portland spots for beers, meals and dessert. But Mom and Dad’s house is one of the best “restaurants” in town!

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Thanks to my brother D for fishing and catching some beauties this season, we were able to enjoy a lot of fresh fish on the grill. And thanks to my Dad, and his trusty smoker, we also continuously snacked on smoked steelhead!

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Paired with fresh veggies from my Mom’s garden, we ate like kings and queen this summer!
But the time has come to head back into the classroom and start preparing for the new school year. The summer was refreshing and full of tasty treats, but now we must get back into daily routines.

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After a summer living alarm free, Monday morning is already on the horizon! And that means the alarm will go off and I will grudgingly get up for my morning run. But I won’t have to think about breakfast because I will be prepared with these mini frittatas! They are super easy to make and you can add whatever ingredients you want! I made these with mushroom, garlic, green onion, fresh rosemary and a dollop of goat cheese. My flat smells amazing and now I feel one step ahead of myself… Come on people, it’s time to get prepared! Enjoy

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Mini Frittatas
First, choose your ingredients…
I chose 10 small mushrooms, 1 green onion, 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped and a bit of goat cheese.

Second, decide your number of cups…
For 6 egg cups, I used 6 eggs and 1 tablespoon soy milk.

While the ingredients were sautéing, I greased the muffin tins with PAM spray. Then beat the eggs and milk together. Place the ingredients evenly in the desired number of cups and pour the egg mixture to fill cups almost to the top… Leaving a little room for rising!

Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on your number of cups and ingredients.
When Mini frittatas are finished baking, let cool for 5-8 minutes then remove from the pan! Eat fright away or freeze them for later…

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Gluten-Free Blueberry Buckle by Allison

Blueberries by the basket you say? Yes indeed, I’ve been buying blueberries by the basket! Why not? Being from the Pacific Northwest I grew up with being able to have fresh berries at my fingertips. I can remember back when I was in college and seeking out “U-Pick Farms” and I got bucket loads of raspberries for 50 cents a pound! I made cartons of freezer jam that night until the wee hours of the morning! Now I’m in the Czech Republic which is also “Berry Land” and I’m lucky to be able to have access to local farmers who grow the berries. They just taste better than the kind you buy in large stores let me tell ya! So here’s one way to get some more antioxidants in your system, eat blueberry buckle!photo (4)

This is my Mom’s recipe and it is certainly a family favorite. You can use frozen blueberries as well just be sure to thaw them out before-hand and make sure they are without extra moisture. My crumbly topping sank to the bottom as I used a bit more butter than needed but they turned out great and they were very delicious!
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Blueberry Buckle Coffee Cake
slightly adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

Ingredients

2 cups gluten-free flour ( I like Schar Mix C gluten-free flour)

¾ cup sugar

2 ½ tsp. baking powder

¾ tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 c. butter

¾ cup milk

1 egg

2 cups well-drained blueberries

 

Topping:

½ cup sugar

1/3 gluten-free flour

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ cup soft butter

Mix and sprinkle over batter in pan.

 

Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Grease round layer pan, 9 ½ inches or square pan, 8″ x 8″ pan or pour into a muffin tin.  Blend all ingredients except blueberries and topping.  Beat for ½ minute.  Spread in pan.

Sprinkle topping over batter and bake for 45 to 50 minutes if baking it in a pan or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. My muffins baked about 20 minutes.

 

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Gluten-Free Spinach and Mushroom Egg Bake by Allison

There are so many beautiful cafes in Prague to enjoy breakfast in while you sit, savor and soak in your surroundings with friends or family. But sometimes a homemade breakfast in the comfort of your own home is what you’d like to offer your newly arrived guests from overseas after a long journey. Aromas of steaming hot double-shot coffee brewing in the french press and a pot of black or green tea steeping in a beautiful Polish pottery teapot await for thirsty guests.  The egg bake is cooking away in the oven while we enjoy greek yogurt with homemade granola and fresh fruits of the season, apricots, cherries and strawberries. One word, delicious.

 

There’s nothing like farmer’s market eggs or homegrown eggs in your own backyard. They taste better, they are fresher and it feels good to support local farmers at the same time. I try to only buy my eggs from the farmer’s market and especially for this recipe.

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Gluten-Free Spinach and Mushroom Egg Bake by Allison

Ingredients

Fresh mushrooms (1 large container or approximately two 1/2 to three cups of sliced mushrooms)

200 grams of fresh spinach

2 Tbsp. butter

2-3 cloves garlic

2 small onions

fresh thyme springs

12 eggs

2 cups grated cheese (can use cheddar or gouda or a smaller amount of parmesan)

1/2 cup of milk or cream

1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 185 degrees Celsius.

First melt the butter in a large frying pan/wok, then add the chopped onion and cook on low until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add garlic to the pan after cooking onions for 10 minutes and stir frequently to prevent from burning. Turn up the heat to medium and add mushrooms, thyme leaves and salt. Cook until the moisture in the bottom of the pan has cooked off, about 10 minutes or so. Then add fresh spinach in 2 handfuls at a time until it wilts and cooks down, continue to turn and stir. Remove from heat and in a large bowl crack 12 eggs and add in the milk and grated cheese. Beat mixture with a whisk until blended, be careful not to over beat. Add in the mushroom, onion and spinach mixture and stir gently. Pour into a large 9″ x 13″ pan and bake uncovered for the first 25 minutes, check frequently to see if the top is getting brown and cover with foil when you’ve reached the desired color on the top of the egg bake. Total baking time should be around 40-45 minutes depending on your oven. Serve warm and enjoy!

Huevos Rancheros w/ sweet potatoes and black beans! By Nikki

Vesle Vanoce

Vesle Vanoce

I have spent the winter holiday at home in Prague, and despite not being with my family either in Oregon or New Zealand, it has been very Christmas-y and relaxing. I have had a good friend visiting from Frankfurt and after a few days in the Czech mountains, we found ourselves very busy baking, cooking, and planning our two holiday days with friends.

rejuvenating in the mountains

rejuvenating in the mountains

On December 23, I made two types of fudge: chocolate and Bailey’s Irish cream. Both flavors were sweet and yummy and taste so great with a cup of coffee in the morning or a cup of tea in the evening! Thankfully the weather has been unseasonably warm. No snow, no ice, and not too cold to run outside… this is helping me run off the daily fudge intake! In addition to ample time spent in our pajamas, watching Christmas movies and singing to Christmas songs, we have been enjoying lots of good food and some Czech culture as well.

On Christmas eve, we went out to the village for a brunch and gift exchange. A created stuffed mushrooms with walnuts, lentils, and cranberries- a made up recipe that was a hit with the other brunch goers! Upon request, I made enchiladas. These are always a hit with the crowd no matter if they are served for brunch, lunch or dinner! I make my own sauce as you cannot just pick up a couple cans of Old El Paso in the local Albert! Knowing there would be a number of vegetarians at the brunch, I chose to stuff the enchiladas with a sweet potato, black bean and corn mixture.

sweet potato, black bean and corn

sweet potato, black bean and corn

This is always a winning combo for a Southwest or Mexican style recipe. And easy to create. Saute one white onion (chopped), 1 clove of garlic (diced), 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of dried (or fresh) coriander/cilantro leaves and 1 tablespoon of oil. Add 2 chopped sweet potatoes and cook until slightly firm. Add 1 can of black beans and 1 small can of corn to mixture and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning and 2 tablespoons of water. Mix until well coated and remove from heat.

The best part of this concoction was using the leftovers! For our Boxing day breakfast on December 26, I made Huevos Rancheros- one of my favorite Mexican breakfast dishes.

leftovers are good

leftovers are good

I filled the leftover corn tortillas with the sweet potato, black bean mix, diced jalapenos, and topped these with shredded, cheddar cheese. I baked these in the oven at 150 degrees C for about 10 minutes. At the same time, fry 1-2 eggs in a hot pan on the stove top. After removing the tortillas from the oven, place one (or two) a plate and slide the egg(s) on top. (I usually put one egg on top of each tortilla.)

Huevos Rancheros with a sweet potato twist!

Huevos Rancheros with a sweet potato twist!

Top with fresh, diced tomato, avocado, Cholula hot sauce (like we did) or top with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, fresh cilantro (Coriander) or anything else you like to eat with Mexican food! Whatever you choose to top your huevos with… enjoy them!

GF Jalapeno Egg Bake by Allison

Let’s be honest. There’s nothing quite like brunch. Brunch is what you like, some like mainly sweets while others like mainly savory but the great thing is you can decide. There seems to be no rules for brunch, well at least in my book. A very dear friend of mine C made this for me  while I was home for a family gathering awhile back and it was absolutely delicious. My family enjoyed brunch together and they had to try what I was raving about! One of the things I like about brunch as it seems to be more leisurely. I tend to sip my almond milk latte versus gulp it down for breakfast on the way to work. I might even think about juicing fresh pomegranates and adding a bit of champagne or making stuffed mushrooms and pumpkin scones. Rules are made to be broken during brunch and it is fun to break the rules sometimes.
 It is one of my “go-to” dishes when I have visitors and many people have enjoyed this dish in my home. Make it and enjoy a long leisurely brunch over great conversation with friends and family. Enjoy!
GF Jalapeno Egg Bake

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adapted from Parade magazine 
Ingredients
10-11 eggs (best if from the farmer’s market)
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1 pint small curd cottage cheese
200 grams  cheddar cheese shredded (about one and a half to two cups)
½ c. butter, melted
8 oz. can green chilies or 8 oz jar of jalapenos (use less if you want it less spicy)
½ c. gluten free flour ( I like to use Mix C Schar brand)
½ tsp. salt
In a bowl beat eggs until lemon-colored. Add flour, baking powder, salt, cottage cheese, jack cheese, green chilies and butter. Stir gently to mix all ingredients. (I do not use an electric mixer.)
Pour mixture into a well-buttered/greased 9 x 13 pan.
My dear friend CW likes to add sliced tomatoes to the top before baking with a slice of sharp white cheese under the tomatoes. YUM!  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until top is lightly browned. Serve with sour cream and salsa if you’d like but it delicious just plain as well! Enjoy!

Summer has begun… with eggs and tofu! by Nikki

Herb Tofu, Eggs and Spinach

Herb Tofu, Eggs and Spinach

It is finally summer holiday… if you are a teacher, live with a teacher, are friends with or know a teacher you will understand why this is such a big deal! I saw this e-card last year that said, “Summer vacation- when teachers become human again!” I laughed because it is true. The last day of school is bittersweet. We say goodbye to families who are moving, wish a happy summer to the families who will return, and of course, there is the sweetness of knowing that for 7 weeks the only time I will need to set my alarm clock is if I absolutely have to!!! Summer vacation… it is truly the time when we teachers become human again.

Trying some new recipes is on my list of summer to do’s! I want to share with you a few new dips, a tasty summer salad, and a new dessert based on available summer fruits! And tofu… I have recently grown to love tofu and often use it in place of chicken in many recipes! No, I haven’t gone all vegetarian, but I have been replacing many meat based dishes with tofu or legumes… let’s say I am exploring with eating more naturally!

It is time for me to get back in to the market, explore in my kitchen and share these yummy foods with you… Šťastný letní. (Happy summer!)

herby smoked tofu

golden tofu

Herb-Breaded, Smoked Tofu

ingredients: 1 block of tofu (natural, marinated, or smoked), dried herbs: paprika, oregano, thyme, garlic salt and crushed pepper, 1 cup of organic flour, 2 tablespoons natural frying oil (I used sunflower oil)

directions:

1. slice tofu to preferred thickness

2. lightly pat dry with paper towel

3. in a small bowl combine flour and herbs

4. heat oil in a frying pan

5. place each tofu slice in the flour mixture and fully coat

6. fry each slice of tofu until golden brown on both sides (about 3-5 minutes depending on thickness)

7. serve tofu warm with preferred sides

8. enjoy

Tortilla de esparragos/ Spanish Asparagus Omelette by L

Chrest season!

Chrest season!

I can’t believe how much my local farmers market has grown since last year! Normally, I would have to wait every other week to be able to take home the wonderful goods, but now the Andel market in Prague 5, is open every Friday and I look forward to it. This week a new stand appeared– asparagus season has hit and is in full force. Everywhere I look, bunches of asparagus spears are beckoning me to take them home.

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Andel Farmers’ Market, Praha 5

Even though it was my turn to post, I actually had no idea what I was going to cook or write about. Thank goodness for some farmers market inspiration. As soon as I saw the stand that is pictured above, I had tortilla de esparragos on my mind.

Best spot in town to buy eggs (and butter.)I'm a sucker for their packaging.

Best shop in town for fresh eggs and butter.  I’m a sucker for their packaging.

This meant I needed to round up some eggs, which wasn’t going to be a problem. Just a few stalls down was my favorite stand that not only sells fresh eggs, but also fresh butter, home-made jams, musli and honey.

Tortilla de esparragos

Tortilla de esparragos

If you have ever traveled to Spain, you will know that the word tortilla does not refer to a thin flat piece of bread meant to hold some hearty mexican-seasoned fillings. The best way to describe a tortilla is to compare it to an omelette and Spain’s most famous one is Tortilla de patata. A thick omelette made from a combination of potatoes, onions and eggs. However, that’s not the only tortilla out there. When it comes to tortillas, I have been spoiled by my husband and my father-in-law. They can both whip up some delicious varieties that can include zucchini, tuna, and artichokes (my ultimate favorite).

Always accompanied by a few slices of great bread!

Always accompanied by a few slices of great bread!

The star of this tortilla is asparagus. It is a dish that is quick and easy to make. If you’re looking to get into the asparagus action, give this one a try. It’s a no fail recipe!

Tortilla de esparragos (Spanish asparagus omelette)

1 bunch of asparagus, clean, peeled and diagonally chopped into small pieces

1 small onion, chopped

3-4 tablespoons of very good olive oil

salt

4 eggs

Warm up a non-stick frying pan.

Add two to three tablespoons of olive oil.

When hot, add the onions and let cook for 7-10 minutes.

Then add the pieces of asparagus and cook until tender, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. (about 20-25 minutes)

Add a few pinches of salt.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the eggs.

When the asparagus is cooked, add them to the eggs.

Stir and combine well.

If your pan looks dry, add another tablespoon of oil.

Add the mixture of vegetables and eggs to the pan.

On medium to low heat, let the egg cook through.

Run a fork around the edge of the pan to loosen the edges of the omelette.

When the edges appear cooked and the top of the omelette is slightly runny, take a plate that is big enough to cover the pan and place it on top.

Pick up the pan and use the other hand to hold the plate on top in place.

Standing over your kitchen sink, invert the pan and let the omelette fall onto the plate you have kept tightly over the pan.

Slide the omelette back into the frying pan and let it cook for another few minutes.

When done, place omelette on a platter and wait a few minutes to serve.

Be sure to accompany it with slices of great tasting bread.

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!

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.