Totally Amazing Tomatoes – GF, SF, DF, NF, and V of course

Once you’ve had fresh tomatoes from the garden that have been grown with love and tender loving care, then there’s just no comparison to the taste of mass-produced tomatoes that can be found at your go-to grocery store chain. The taste, the flavor, the color and even the texture are different between the home-grown or farmer’s market tomatoes and store-bought tomatoes. Don’t you agree? I adore tomatoes. Really truly. Sun-dried tomatoes are a must-have in my pantry at all times. I cannot run low on sun-dried tomatoes. Speaking of which….have you seen the ingredient list on the back of a sun-dried tomato jar? Brace yourself. Vegetable oil to top the list and too many other crazy things in there that shouldn’t be in there to be honest. So I took matters into my own hands. I bought a dehydrator and set out to dry my own tomatoes! The result?! Incredibly tasty tomato chips if you like crunchy things without preservatives and artificial ingredients. They are absolutely delicious. I’ve also made dehydrated tomatoes and am preserving them in olive oil. They are waiting to be consumed with other Italian delicacies one day soon. This is not a new idea, many people have dehydrated tomatoes, but I’m here to share with you how easy and amazing they really are and urge you to get a dehydrator!  photo 3photo 1

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Dehydrated Tomatoes by Allison

Tools: 

sharp knife

dehydrator

delicious tomatoes from a farmer’s market

cutting board

Method:

Rinse tomatoes, you may also need to de-stem and de-core your tomatoes depending on the variety to prepare them for dehydrating. Cut tomatoes into 1/4 inch to 1/3 inch slices and place on the dehydrator trays. Leave space in-between slices so the warm air can circulate around and between the tomato slices. I dehydrate mine at 55 degrees Celsius for 20-24 hours depending on the variety of tomato I used. You can sprinkle with salt, oregano, basil if you’d like. They are finished when they are dry and leathery. Sometimes I dehydrate them for 24 hours until they are brittle and eat them like chips or crisps. Either way they are delicious! Store in a sealed jar or freeze. Enjoy!

 

It’s Rootbeer Float time!

Summertime is meant for spending time outdoors. I grew up on a street that is above a lake and when I am home visiting my parents during the summer this lake is my oasis.

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It is a short three minute walk down the hill to spend a couple hours floating in the sunshine! But summertime is also about satisfying my sweet tooth! Usually folks enjoy a bowl or cone of ice cream to cool down and satisfy their sweet summer cravings. I usually enjoy sorbet as it is lactose free. I have a sensitivity to dairy and have not eaten real, creamy ice cream in a very long time! But after a random conversation about old fashioned rootbeer I decided I really wanted a rootbeer float! I satisfied my sweet tooth with a cold, Pacific Northwest brewed rootbeer and two scoops of coconut milk ice cream!

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This Oregon rootbeer is made with 100% cane sugar and without high fructose corn syrup and it is gluten free! Combining it with the coconut milk ice cream, I made a gluten free and lactose free treat and it honestly tasted just as good as the real deal!

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This sweet summer treat brought back memories of childhood summers with my siblings… and during this last week in Oregon, I fully intend not only to enjoy a few more “floats” on the lake but also another float with this fancy Oregon rootbeer!

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How to make your own rootbeer float!
1. Put two big scoops of your favorite vanilla flavored ice cream in a tall glass. (If you are a non-dairy or lactose free person use a soy or coconut milk based ice cream!)
2. Pour 1/2 a bottle (or can) of rootbeer over the ice cream and let it fizz! Then pour as much as you want to fill the glass!!
3. Enjoy with a spoon or straw, inside or outside and alone or with people… Just enjoy it!

Sand Dabs… Aka Dad’s dabs!

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Summer vacation is in full swing and the fun of visiting family and friends has begun. It all started my first weekend home at Mom and Dad’s house. They still live in our childhood home so it really is “home sweet home”. They had recently spent their anniversary weekend in San Francisco where they enjoyed Sand Dabs, or breaded sole, at Tadech’s Grill. Dad decided to remake this tasty dish last weekend and it was sooooo good! Now we call this dish “Dad’s dabs.” Side-by-side and step-by-step in our family kitchen, my Dad walked me through this recipe. It is surprisingly easy! We used Pacific Northwest Ling Cod but you can use your favorite white fish to create this dish. Just follow the recipe out of Tadech’s cookbook (photo below) and you will soon enjoy your own fish dabs!

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Sweet Summertime Sundays with Salmon Asparagus Flatbread!

Salmon and Asparagus Flat Bread

Salmon and Asparagus Flat Bread

Well, it is summer break again and we are all taking a vacation from what we call “work life!” I love teaching and find joy in my work and sticking to my daily routines, but summer always brings with it time. Time to think and reflect, time to read and create, time to try new activities and travel, and of course, time to wander food markets and create in the kitchen! Time is not something we busy teachers often have during the school year. In April, my good friend Lor visited from Portland. After a sunny, Saturday bicycle ride out to Karlstejn Castle, we were hungry and craving protein but wanted something light and tasty. I suggested using my favorite pizza crust recipe to make a flat bread. We used a lemon olive olive oil and pesto base, topped it with asparagus, salmon pieces, and parmesan cheese. It hit the spot! I have enjoyed this recipe since it’s original creation in April. However, I find that I now have the time to share it with you all… and just in time for summer!

Light, fresh, healthy, and it tastes good too!

Light, fresh, healthy, and it tastes good too!

Salmon and Asparagus Flat Bread

topping ingredients: 1-2 pieces of salmon (baked and slightly cooled), 5-8 stalks of asparagus (cut, steamed or roasted and slightly cooled), 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1-2 tablespoons pesto mixed with 1-2 teaspoons olive oil

pizza dough: 1 & 1/4 cup spelt flour (or whole wheat) + 1/4 cup white flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon dry-active yeast, 3/4 cup hot water

directions:

prepare salmon and asparagus – I usually wrap the salmon in tin foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. On/in the same roasting pan, I place the chopped asparagus and roast for the same amount of time as the salmon. Take out of the oven and cool for about 5-8 minutes.

prepare flat bread base: While the salmon and asparagus are baking I make the pizza crust. Roll it out to you desired shape and thickness. Spread the pesto base on the crust and let sit for 10 minutes to rise slightly.

build your flat bread: When the salmon and asparagus have cooled enough to touch, sprinkle half of the parmesan over the pesto base, fill with the salmon and asparagus and sprinkle the remainder of the cheese.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for five minutes. Cut into squares or pizza slices and enjoy warm!

Good times with Lor!

Good times with Lor!

Note: For the months of July and August, the writers at The Prague Basket will be posting once a week on Sundays… enjoy your sweet, sunny summer and no matter where in the world you are look for us on Sundays!  – TPB

It’s a colorful dish- Sausage and Peppers by Nikki

it is colorful despite the grey season

it is colorful despite the grey season

Do any of you use Pinterest? Let me tell you it is both amazing and somewhat addicting. It is very useful for digitally “housing” all sorts of information you find on the internet. I mainly use Pinterest for collecting and storing ideas for home, classroom, and kitchen projects. However, I also have boards titled as such: “workout ideas”, “I want that too” “My reading list” “places and spaces”, “for the love of yarn,” etc. You see, Pinterest let’s me keep all of these great ideas, things I like or would consider buying for my home, closet or kitchen, all organized into boards… and as long as it is not on a secret board, I  can search Pinterest and have access to other people’s pins a.k.a more good ideas from other people’s internet collections! So, why am I mentioning my love and addiction of Pinterest on our blog… well, because that is where I originally found this recipe. I pinned it some time ago onto my “food is love” board.

it's a one bowl job

it’s a one bowl job

 As you know from my last few posts, I have recently been cooking a lot of vegetarian meals. However, it is half marathon training season, and as I increase my running mileage, I also feel the increase in my body craving meat-based protein. I usually stick to chicken, fish, and occasionally, beef. But two days ago, I just wanted something different. Well, I was in the local grocery store and I had this craving for sausage. I stood there contemplating what to make with this and I remembered that I had “pinned” a recipe for Sausage and Peppers. So I bought the sausage, the onions and peppers and I went home to consult with my Pinterest board. This recipe calls for one regular potato, but I replaced that with a sweet potato and it worked. I like it when adaptations work! In fact, you could even use your favorite vegetarian “sausage” if you wanted. This recipe would be an easy, weekday meal. You can do the preparation one day ahead, wrap everything in foil and then pop it in the oven the next evening. Depending on your oven, it only takes 30-40 minutes for the potatoes and peppers to soften to perfection. Serve in individual bowls, with a little parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top… trust me, it goes well with a cold beer!   

colorful peppers and onions

colorful peppers and onions

Sausage and Peppers

adapted from the recipe One Pouch Feast on HyVee.com

 ingredients: half a yellow bell pepper, half a red bell pepper, half a green bell pepper, and half an orange bell pepper, one red onion, half a large sweet potato and 1-2 sausages (kielbasa in Polish, wurst in German, Kolbasa in Czech), olive oil, 1 teaspoon garlic salt, salt and pepper to taste

Directions: chop all the veggies and put into a medium size bowl.

Toss with one tablespoon of olive oil, garlic salt, and salt and pepper

Cut the sausage into round pieces and add to the peppers.

Mix until all ingredients are well coated.

Wrap in foil and bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C

Check the peppers and potatoes 30 minutes into baking time to see how they are softening…

When finished baking, let the mixture sit for 5 minutes then serve in bowls with a sprinkle of cheese and/or your favorite hot sauce.

Enjoy!

Yum!

Yum!

 

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!

Holy Guacamole- it’s finally summertime! by Nikki

It's Guacamole time!

It’s Guacamole time!

When the temperature outdoors turns all summery, I often find myself very fussy about what I want to eat. Nothing big, nothing too hot, nothing too salty… I just need something light or cool and of course, something refreshing! It is not uncommon for me to devour a bowl of popcorn for dinner with a cold, Czech lager. When visiting my parents during the summer months, my mama and I can be found eating a bowl of salsa with tortilla chips… as our weeknight, summertime dinner. The way I see it is that we are adults and we can do what we want, right?!?

perfecto avocado

perfecto avocado

Well, this week, the weather has improved in Praha and the sun is shining. It was imperative that I use my avocados before they went brown. Naturally, I whipped up them up into guacamole. I use a traditional recipe with red onion, de-seeded tomatoes, cilantro and fresh lime. Throw it all into one bowl and mix until it looks and tastes like you want it to taste! I like mine more limey and less salty!

a one bowl job

It’s easy; it’s a one bowl job!

Guacamole is a super-food that I think makes other foods taste so much better… top your burgers with a heaping scoop, enjoy it on your summer tacos, or dip those salty, tortilla chips into a bowl of this healthy, green stuff and just enjoy it solo! You’re an adult, you can do what you want, right!?!

Traditional Guacamole

Holy Guacamole, that’s yummy!

 Guacamole

ingredients: 2 ripe, avocados + 1/2 medium red onion, diced + 4-5 red cherry tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped +1 to 2 tablespoons, fresh, chopped, cilantro (coriander) + 1/2 fresh lime + salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Halve avocados, remove the pit and scoop into a medium bowl. Mash well, with a fork.

2. Add tomatoes, onion, and cilantro. Gently fold ingredients together.

3. Mix in lime juice, salt and pepper.

4. Add more lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.

5. Enjoy!

Banana Pancakes by L

Summer has finally made an appearance in Prague and she isn’t holding back. Last week, we experienced some difficult days of heavy sweltering heat. Thankfully, a few storms rolled through and life has begun to cool down. Now that summer is here, I’ll bid farewell to my oven until the fall. Baking season for this mama is over until the cool temperatures return from their sunny holiday.

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So what should I do with the three very overly ripe bananas sitting on my counter? Those sweet things usually end up in a banana cake or muffin, but this morning, I sliced them up and added them to our pancakes. Our wonderful, no-fail recipe comes from the cookbook Breakfast Lunch Tea written by the amazingly delicious Rose Bakery in Paris, France (with a few healthy adaptations, of course.) If you ever happen to be in the 9th arrondissement, be sure to eat here. Your appetite will thank you. Every time I whip up a batch of these golden, thick and tender hotcakes, my taste buds are never disappointed. Delish!

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Actually, with the addition of the grilled bananas, it was even more delicious and sweeter than ever. My daughters, being the healthy conscious mom that I try to be, were served a plate of  these on their own, plain and simple. Mama, on the other hand, enjoyed her stack with a few spoonfuls of maple syrup. I could have done without, since the banana pancakes were so flavorful on their own. However, my dear sweet cousin J who recently visited us in Prague, gifted me with four bottles of Canadian Maple Syrup. I couldn’t let them go to waste.

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Banana Pancakes (adapted from Breakfast Lunch Tea)

(The original recipe uses plain white flour, but I used half white and half whole wheat)

2 eggs

1 cup milk

5 tablespoons melted butter or neutral oil

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup plain all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

In a small bowl, beat the eggs, milk and butter. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together both flours, salt, sugar and baking powder.

Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients.

Stir, until well combined. Do not over stir.

(Rose Bakery writes “no more than 8 times” with a large spoon!)

Rub a small frying pan with a little butter.

Then pour 3-4 tablespoons of batter into the pan.

Top with a few slices of banana.

Cook until a few bubbles appear and the sides look cooked.

Flip and cook for another minute.

Repeat until all the batter is used up.

Serve and enjoy immediately with your favorite condiments!

Berry, Berry Buttermilk Cake by Nikki

That takes the cake...

That takes the cake…

If you currently live in Prague, (or other Central European cities) you will understand me when I say, “It sure ain’t summer!” The longest of winters seems to have bypassed Spring and Summer entirely and it has gone straight to late Autumn. It really feels like it is November already! In fact, my plans to visit the Dejvicka farmer’s market were thwarted by the torrential downpours.

So today, I made this cake with BIO butter and flour, and of course, fresh buttermilk from my local dairy farmer. The combination of sour milk with the sweet berries and a bit of lemon zest gives this cake is the perfect blend of tart and sweet.

flour coated berries

flour coated berries

This cake is supposed to be served during the summer, with fresh berries and whip cream. But today, with the rain pounding on the roof and the flood warnings beginning to pour in from the Czech authorities, this cake is bringing a little bit of summer to my home. Dream a little dream… with cake!

Summer Berry Buttermilk Cake in a Cathedral Bundt pan

Pretty cathedral bundt pan

Berry, Berry Buttermilk Cake

adapted from smitten kitchen

ingredients:

Cake
2 1/2 cups (355 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (20 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
1 cup (8 ounces or 225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups (340 grams) granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk
3 cups (350 to 450 grams) mixed berries

Glaze
2 cups (240 grams) powdered or confections’ sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon (15 grams) unsalted butter, very, very soft

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Generously grease a 10-cup Bundt pan, either with butter or a nonstick spray. (I use spray!)

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until fluffy. I use my food processor with the mixing paddle for approx 3 minutes.

Then, with the mixer on a low speed, add your eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition.

Beat in vanilla.

Add 1/3 flour mixture to batter, beating until just combined. Continue in 1/3 increments until flour is well combined, but do not over mix!

In the bowl where you’d mixed your dry ingredients, toss the berries with 2 tablespoons of flour.

With a silicon spatula, gently fold the berries (I used 2 cups blueberries and 1 cup raspberries) into the cake batter. The batter will be very thick but be as gentle as possible.

Place batter into greased pan and bake for 55-60 minutes.

The cake is done as soon as a tester comes out clean of batter.

Set cake pan on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes, before inverting the cake onto a serving platter to cool the rest of the way.

Cool completely. Once cool, whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice and butter until smooth and very, very thick.  Spread carefully over top of cake, letting it trickle down the sides when and where it wishes.

Serve at once or keep it covered at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.

Enjoy!

Green Goddess Smoothie by Allison

Oh dark leafy greens, how I love to overlook you while I am planning out my meals. Let’s be honest. I’m not a huge fan of eating salad day in and day out. I don’t know about you but my salad kicks tend to come and go in waves. I try to be creative when I concoct a salad for lunch or dinner but sometimes I just want something else! So here’s a fabulous way to get those dark leafy greens in your body along with all of those vitamins and minerals all in a smoothie! This smoothie tastes amazing and can be varied to your preferences too! It is easy. It is healthy. It is delicious. Try it!

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I purchased my spinach from the Karlin farmer’s market, 2 bunches makes 2 huge smoothies.

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I always rinse the spinach twice in cold water and spin it in my salad spinner to get it as dry as possible.
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Just use an ordinary blender. I once thought that one could only make spinach smoothies if they had a top of the line Vitamix blender, but a regular blender will work too!

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The trick is to blend it for 3-5 minutes to get everything as smooth as possible. IMG_0489

Green Goddess Smoothie

Ingredients:

Spinach (2 small bunches)

apple of any variety (1 small of 1/2 large)

the juice from 1/2 large lemon

strawberries (1 cup)

1 1/2 cup water

stevia drops

Directions:

Add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend for 3-5 minutes while giving the blender motor a rest after every minute or so (depending on your blender). Place in refillable bottles and refrigerate. Drink and enjoy as a great snack or as part of a meal! Can use 1/2 a banana instead of strawberries or can use an orange instead of strawberries but it will be thicker in consistency. Try using pear and celery as a unique combination too! Troubleshooting note: If the blender is having a hard time breaking the ingredients down, add more water and that should help! Enjoy!