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!

 

 

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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Swiss Chard… a farmer’s market treasure! By Nikki

Oberusel, Germany Farmer's Market

Oberursel, Germany Farmer’s Market

This past week, our school has been on holiday for October break. Allison and myself traveled to Frankfurt, Germany to visit our good friend Anne. I have traveled many places with Anne and together we have found local food markets to purchase goodies for our various holiday adventures. Last weekend, while we wandered in the local farmer’s market in the quaint town of Oberursel, I found Swiss chard at one of the large vegetable tents.

the colorful leafy, greens

the colorful leafy, greens

Chard is one of my favorite things to eat from my mother’s garden! Swiss chard is the colorful, leafy green. It can sometimes taste bitter, similar to kale; however, with butter and garlic, it sautes beautifully- and tastes delicious. Anne’s menu plan for the evening was to roast a cut of beef and serve with a red wine mushroom sauce that Anne’s mother used to make. At the market, we were happy to find green beans, fingerling potatoes, and this chard to compliment the meal.

rainbow stems

rainbow stems

My mother would cut the stems of this chard 3/4 of the way and throw the whole leaf with stem connected, into a pan of shallow water to steam. I prefer to cut the stems off at the base of the leaves, chop the stems into small pieces and saute them separately. Add the chopped stems to a pan of sizzling butter and garlic and saute for 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently.

yummy

saute in butter and garlic

I cut the big, chard leaves into strips and add them into the same pan as the cut stems.

cut and ready to steam

cut and ready to steam

Add about 1/3 cup water, put a lid on top and let it steam for 5-6 minutes. When it is ready, you should strain the cooked chard to let the water run off.

ready to steam

ready to steam

I have never been one to enjoy cooked spinach, so when I make chard, I don’t let it get to that point where it is wilted. I prefer my greens to remain leafy with a slight crisp, and the beauty of chard is that you can cook it to your preference. We served ours with skirt steak stuffed with a sauteed zucchini and mushrooms, topped with a red wine, mushroom sauce. We also ate sides of steamed green beans and roasted, fingerling potatoes. Our German farmer’s market adventure turned into a beautiful plate of deliciousness! Thank you Anne for a wonderful meal…

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

Steamed artichokes- it’s a family thing! By Nikki

Sunflowers!

Oregon Sunflowers!

Today is my last day in Oregon! I have been here for two weeks visiting with my family and friends. The days have been full seeing people for coffee or dinner, picking blueberries on Sauvie Island, floating on the lake, family picnics and BBQs, hiking in the Gorge, and a quick camping trip to the beach! It has really been a great time, but I recently told a friend  “I’m not 23 anymore and filling my days from start to finish with activity- although fun, it is exhausting!” The end of any vacation or family visit is always bittersweet. It has been special to be with so many loved ones, but I am looking forward to being in my own space… and not sleeping in a twin bed!

Lake Oswego Farmer's Market

Lake Oswego Farmer’s Market

Yesterday morning, I walked from my parents’ house to the Farmer’s Market in downtown Lake Oswego. It overlooks the lake and it is a beautiful area for the market. It is a good venue to walk around and spend a sunny summer morning.

Beautiful LO

Beautiful LO

I wasn’t sure if I was going to find something at the market to feature on the blog today. This farmer’s market didn’t lack beautiful produce, but we already had our evening menu planned- fresh corn, grilled Chinook salmon (freshly caught on the Sandy river by my brother), cucumber salad (a family recipe) and my sister made a Hawaiian Dream cake to celebrate mama’s birthday. As I was wandering around the market, I saw these Italian artichokes. I thought to myself, “this would be an excellent addition to our evening menu!”

Artichokes!

Artichokes!! Dad would steam them in a special, tall pan.

I remember eating these when we were young. Dipping the leaves into lemon mayo (lemon butter for me!) then scraping the leaves clean with my teeth. So delicious! Last night, as the plate emptied and the bowl of discarded leaves was full, my brother-in-law said, “looks like your artichokes were a hit.”

Dad's special artichoke steamer!

Dad’s special artichoke steamer!

Eating artichokes, laughing with my family and just enjoying time with them was the best way to end this visit… Happy Summer!

Steamed Italian Artichokes

Steamed Italian Artichokes

Steamed Artichokes w/ Lemon Mayo

 

ingredients: two medium artichokes, 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon fresh, squeezed lemon, pepper to taste

directions: Fill the bottom of a large pan with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water.

I use a large soup pot and my vegetable steamer basket.

Set the artichokes on the basket and let them steam for 25 to 30 minutes on low or medium low heat.

While the artichokes are steaming, mix together the mayo and lemon juice. Add more lemon or pepper to taste. Set aside.

You can check if they are done by picking a leaf from the 2nd or 3rd row and testing it by scraping the bottom of the flesh with your teeth. (A tender artichoke scrapes off the leaf easily.)

When ready, flip the artichokes upside down and drain excess water out. I like to serve mine community style, in a large bowl with an empty bowl next to it to discard the leaves.

Have fun dipping and enjoy!

Gluten-Free Roasted Cabbage with Thai Dressing by Allison

I’ve been craving Thai food for some reason……… maybe I should have paid more attention in the Thai cooking classes I took in Chang Mai, Thailand seven years ago! It was difficult to go back home and experiment with the new recipes as home at that time was Shanghai, China. At that time there wasn’t fresh lemongrass and galangal and kaffir lime leaves to be found on the shelves of any shop, although I’m sure there is now. I had dinner at Noi in Mala Strana here in Prague on Saturday night and the management was aware of gluten-free food preparation! Three cheers for Noi! Once you get a taste for the unique combination of: sweet, sour, salty, and last but not least spicy guess what? You crave it again. But luckily you don’t need traditional Thai ingredients to achieve a thai flavor for this side dish. Try it!IMG_0443

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So I roasted this cabbage in my oven (I so wish I had a deck and a BBQ but I don’t) and the charred bits of cabbage are very actually very tasty! IMG_0461

I whipped up the sauce in a few minutes while the cabbage was roasting. Super easy!
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Gluten-Free Cabbage Salad with Thai Dressing

slightly adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

Juice of 3 limes (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1-1 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (check to make sure this ingredient is gluten-free)
2-3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
10-15 drops of liquid Stevia (the plant-based sweetener)
1 head green cabbage
canola oil

If you have a charcoal or gas grill, fire it up! Cut the cabbage into 8 evenly sliced wedges while keeping the stalk in place. Brush the cabbage with a little bit of canola oil. Place on the grill for 5-7 minutes or until edges are blackened, flip, and repeat until desired tenderness is achieved.

If you only have an oven (like me) then turn on the broiler and crank the heat to pre-heat the oven. Cut the cabbage into 8 evenly sliced wedges while keeping the stalk in place. Brush the cabbage with a little bit of canola oil and place on a large roasting pan. Roast for 8-9 minutes on each side until the desired tenderness is achieved.

While the cabbage is grilling or roasting, place first 8 ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend ingredients. Drizzle dressing over the top of the cabbage wedges and serve immediately! Enjoy!

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!

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!

Homemade Caramel Sauce for Caramel Apples – Gluten Free by Allison

I was on my way to purchase some flowers and walked past these apples at the Holesovice market, glanced at them as I continued right on by and then I took a few steps back to stop and admire them. I had to take a closer look and truly appreciate their gorgeous colors up close. How could I resist from buying some of these beauties? Well, I just couldn’t! I walked away with several bags full of crisp beautiful apples of varying shades and combinations of green, red and golden yellow all grown here in the Czech Republic. Now I can be a bit of a harsh critic when it comes to apples. I’m from Washington after all! But I do have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed the apples in different ways over the last week or so.

 

Truth be told, I’ve been craving caramel, not just any kind of caramel, but homemade caramels. My Aunt D and my Grandma have made some amazing caramels for the holidays over the years and since I’ve been gluten-free, most good quality caramels available to purchase are covered in chocolate that contains gluten! So it was high time for a sweet treat.

 

 

Caramel-flavored sweetened condensed milk can too be yours at Albert here in the Czech Republic. Couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it for the first time months ago. It even says directly on the can (the English translation is: “suitable for gluten-free diet”)!

 

 

 

Homemade Caramel Sauce for Caramel Apples

Ingredients

250 grams/1 cup of salted butter ( I use Madeta Maslo in the light blue package)

2 1/3 cups brown sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

397 grams/14 oz. sweetened condensed milk (I used salto, caramel flavored sweeted condensed milk)

2 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine first four ingredients into a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and stir constantly until the mixture reaches between the soft ball stage and the firm ball stage on your candy thermometer. I cooked it until 250 degrees Fahrenheit and it turned out perfect to my liking! Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and quickly stir to combine. Poke apples in the center with wooden sticks or chopsticks and swirl the apple around in the warm caramel until coated. You can add extra toppings such as nuts, sprinkles, coconut, or candy to make it more festive and colorful if you’d like while warm. Let cool and enjoy!

 

 

Warm Roasted Butternut Squash Salad by Allison

Warm Roasted Butternut Squash Salad by Allison

I’m a sucker for squash. Really truly! The first year I arrived in Prague, there didn’t seem to be any butternut squash around the city. Maybe it is because I wasn’t “in the know” and didn’t know where it was available. The next year, it miracously arrived at Tesco in random spurts. I’d hear a co-worker talking about making butternut squash soup for dinner and I’d ask where they picked it up and by the time I got there 24 hours later, there was no trace of those tasty butternut squash left in the produce aisles. But now, thanks to the farmers and farmers markets, we seems to have an abudance of this lovely orange squash to consume! Lucky us!

I like making this warm salad on a crisp autumn day when the oven warms the kitchen and the aromas from the oven fill the rooms in my apartment. I picked up a large butternut squash from the Holesovice market along with some red peppers, garlic and goat chesse for this dish.

Warm Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

1/2 large butternut squash peeled, cored and cubed into 1 1/2 ” pieces

3 red peppers, deseeded and deveined, cut into chunks

1 can of rinsed chickpeas (15 oz)

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

olive oil for drizzling

salt and pepper

fresh goat cheese for the top

flat leaf parsley, 3 Tbsp. chopped finely

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

Combine butternut squash cubes, red pepper cubes, chickpeas and garlic in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread on a roasting pan and roast uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until soft. Remove from oven and add parsley and goat cheese. Mix and enjoy!

Rockin’ Red Pepper Pesto by Allison

Rockin’ Red Pepper Pesto

Red peppers are one of my favorite vegetables most definitely and for the price of 34 crowns per kilo, why I think I love red peppers even a little bit more than before. When the price per red pepper can be $1.39  back in the U.S., I think to myself, well I’ll just grab a few more! I ended up with several bags of red peppers on Saturday and decided to make red pepper pesto while I was at the Holesovice market.

I scooped up approximately 2 cups some walnuts from a vendor and tucked them inside my bag as I hunted around for some other items on my list.

Later in the day, I went to the “River Farmers’ Market” and grabbed a jar of these gorgeous sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil and carried it home as I walked along the river.

Where did I find fresh basil at this time of year? I’ll tell you my secret not to worry. The potraviny near the Ujezd tram stop (if you’re going in the direction from Narodni Divaldo to Ujezd it is right there on the same side of the street as you exit and it is long and narrow shop with wonderful produce.

This roasted red pepper pesto is insanely good. Get creative and use it as a veggie dip, a sandwich spread, a pizza sauce, over gluten-free pasta, on GF crackers, add a little cheese and spread over an omelette. Did I mention this freezes well? I made two batches and I just might make more soon it is that good!

Rockin’ Red Pepper Pesto

Ingredients

  • 6 – 8 red bell peppers
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • 3 tablespoon chopped sundried tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or, more or less as desired)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Cut (washed & patted dry) peppers in half lengthwise and remove seeds and membranes and arrange them in a single layer on a foil lined baking tray. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast for about 20 minutes or more depending on whether you like a blackened red pepper. When you pull the red peppers out of the oven,  wrap in foil and set aside. Using a food processor, pulse garlic and walnuts until finely chopped and add roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and basil, and process. Add in the olive oil gradually and  then add crushed pepper flakes and process until all the ingredients are well combined, make it as smooth or as coarse as you want it. Add salt and ground pepper to taste. Enjoy!

recipe from elsbro.com