Coconut milk + Chia seeds + Lemon zest = a yummy, healthy treat!

The ingredients for a lovely treat!

The ingredients for a lovely treat!

Life has been very busy these days. It happens every Spring. There is more light in the day, sunny afternoons meant for beers and laughing with friends. There are weekend getaways with friends who will shortly be moving on from Prague. And there is the Elementary School musical that I have been working with all school year. On Friday, we have show number one so this week is all about marathon rehearsals and very little time for creating in the kitchen. But I like a little something sweet when I am tired. Instead of turning to chocolate or other bad calories, I am preparing my healthy treats for the week.

1 can of coconut milk, 1/4 cup chia seeds, 1 tablespoon honey- that is all this recipe needs. Of course you can jazz it up how you want. I have thought about adding a little cinnamon or chocolate chips or even mango purée. Today I was feeling the sunshine and decided to add lemon zest! All you have to do is put the ingredients in a bowl, mix until whipped and then leave in the fridge overnight. I prepare portions in small jars and as my Kindergarten learners would say- easy peasy.

Sweet, zesty, and yummy

Sweet, zesty, and yummy

 

Thanks to my Twinsie for serving this at brunch. My sweet tooth thanks you…

Zucchini Flowers in Town! by L

image

Spring is here! Well, almost. After an Easter holiday full of snow, sleet, sun and gusts of wind, it has almost arrived in Prague. Bursts of yellow and purple flowers have begun to pop up around town and even my favorite edible flower has found its’ way to our golden city. Zucchini flowers are here!image

image

I am all for the farmers markets, but there is another market that I head to when I want to get serious about Italian food. It’s called the Wine Food Market, located in Prague 5. Once upon a time, I lived in Italy and I ate well, very well. After that experience, I feel like nothing can ever compare to the Italian dishes I dined on for years. But… the Wine Food Market comes pretty close, especially their pizza!

image

This amazing eatery not only serves up lunch, dinner and homemade gelato, it also houses a market full of fresh vegetables, fruits, dry goods, a bakery and more! Local Prague friends, if you haven’t yet been or if you are someone planning a trip to Prague and may want to take a break from Czech food, this is the place to go. On my last visit, I found my beloved zucchini flowers and for dinner that night I cooked them up in my favorite style… fried.

image

Fried Zucchini Flowers stuffed with Mozzarella (Fiori di Zucchini)

12 zucchini flowers

1 large ball of mozzarella, cut into 12 small rectangles

Batter:

50 grams/2 oz flour

100ml/3 1/2oz beer

oil for frying

salt

Directions:

Wash your flowers and remove the pistils.

Gently place a slice of mozzarella cheese inside each flower and twist the tips of the petal to close.

For the batter, add the flour and pinch of salt into a bowl.

Then whisk in the beer until the batter is smooth.

Heat the oil in a deep-frying pan.

Quickly dip the stuffed zucchini flowers in the batter and drain off the excess.

Add batches of the flower to the frying pan, turning gently, until brown.

Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot.

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.
FullSizeRender_2

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.

FullSizeRender_3

FullSizeRender_4

FullSizeRender_1

FullSizeRender

 

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!

 

 

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

photo 4

 

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!

 

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!

Fresh Vegetable Stock by Nikki

it smells sooooo good

it smells sooooo good

Here I go again, sharing my homemade stock creations with you! But I just have to because this one was given the A+ by my good friend MM. You see, I have a number of friends who are vegetarians. I love these people so much that when it was time to host a second Thanksgiving dinner at my flat, I made a fresh vegetable stock to use in place of chicken stock in the Thanksgiving stuffing. Changing the stock to accommodate my friends was no big deal, and I know I didn’t have to do this for them, but I am so thankful for their love and support that it was my pleasure to experiment with this recipe. Here is a little secret for you, I made up the recipe as I went along. So for the first time, I will post this as my own recipe… although I am sure there are plenty of other veggie stock recipes out there with the same or at least similar methods and ingredients!

You can use this stock as a vegetarian base for your favorite soup and as a substitute for meat stocks in other recipes.  But unlike making your own meat based stocks, you can use the leftover veggies! Yep, this is a WHOLE food recipe- no wasting! After removing the bay leaves from the mix, I pureed the veggies in my food processor. After this cooled, I froze this thick vegetable puree to use in a quiche or stew later this winter… If this was a Facebook post I would end it with… feeling accomplished!  Give it a try and enjoy!

fresh veggies

fresh veggies

Vegetarian Stock

(This recipe is all mine!)

ingredients: 8 carrots, 1 bunch of celery stalks, 2 red onions, 2 white onions, 1 bunch of fresh parsley, 5 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon dried sage    optional: fresh peppers, potato, and/or parsnip

directions: Chop all vegetables and throw into a large soup pot with 4-5 cups of water. Add spices and bring to a boil.  Turn heat to medium low and let the stock bubble gently for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Strain stock through a sieve into a different large soup pot (for immediate use) or large bowl for cooling.

Note: Stock should stay fresh in for one week in the fridge and also freezes well in ice cube trays!

cook for 2-3 hours

cook for 2-3 hours

 

 

When Autumn falls… it’s time for chilli!

When the chill of the autumn air hits, it is time to start warming ourselves with soups and hot meals. Chilli is one of my favorite fall (and winter) foods. Chili is versatile and can be made for meat lovers or vegetarians. It is also a crowd-pleaser for a football gathering or on game night. You can dress chilli up with a variety of toppings such as cheddar cheese, sour cream, or jalapenos!  l prefer mine topped with a dollop of light sour cream and crunchy tortilla chips! What’s your favorite chili recipe? I would live to hear from you and possibly give your favorite recipes a try during this chilly-chilli season! Enjoy

It's Chilli time!

It’s Chilli time!

Spicy Vegetarian Chili

Ingredients: 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 medium white onion, 2 medium red, bell peppers, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoons chilli powder (2 if you want is SUPER spicy!) , 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 + 1/2 teaspoons dried cumin, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 3 cans of whole tomatoes, 1 can of kidney beans, 1 small can of yellow corn, 2 large carrots, 1 cup fresh green beans.

additional ingredients: chopped, fresh cilantro (corriander), sour cream, cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, jalapenos, and/or tortilla chips

Directions: Heat oil over in a large, soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, bell peppers and garlic and saute until onions soften. (about ten minutes) Mix in chilli powder, oregano, cumin and black pepper. Add tomatoes, carrots and green beans and cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes.  Turn heat to low, add beans and corn and let cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When ready, ladle into bowls and top with your favorite toppings or dip a piece of bread and 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!

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

The Prague Basket’s 100th post! by Liezel

100 posts ago, I was trying to navigate through my new role in life, a mother of twins.

100 posts ago, I was searching for a way to fulfill a creative void.

100 posts ago, I was entertaining the idea of developing a new blog with the aid of my dearest gals in Prague, Allison and Nikki.

100 posts ago, The Prague Basket shared its first post.

100 posts later we are celebrating, and to commemorate this happy achievement we have a special gift for one of the readers/guests of our blog. The winner will receive a tender basket filled with goodies from the Andel Famers’ Market. Take a look…

A little thank you gift!

A little thank you gift!

To enter, please leave us a comment on the blog. The winner will be randomly chosen and announced by Tuesday, the 18th of June. In the meantime, click and reminisce with us a hundred posts ago… https://thepraguebasket.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/very-veggie-pasta-sauce-by-liezel/

Many thanks to our readers and we look forward to hearing from you. On behalf of The Prague Basket, we say “Dekuji!” (Thanks!)

L 🙂