~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Friday, October 30, 2015

Jacques Pepin's Pork Schnitzel ...with crispy rice coating.(Gluten-Free).

Jacques Pepin's Pork Schnitzel ...with crispy rice coating.(Gluten-Free). I needed to share this recipe with you... not only because it's a recipe that comes from one of my very favorite chefs, but because this is an outstanding dish. 

If you are looking for a quick dinner option that kids and adults will enjoy, well this crispy pork schnitzel will please even the pickiest of folks.

While I've made schnitzel many times over and over again, this recipe caught my eye recently because of the ingenious idea to use rice cakes for the crumb topping. Why, oh why have I never thought of using rice cakes? Maybe, because I really don't have them around the house:)...  

In any case, we simply loved the result of the crispy and delicious tasting coating that added a pop of texture a well as flavor to an otherwise ordinary schnitzel. Schnitzel. Ordinary? Not exactly. But this... rice cake topping... takes the schnitzel to another level. A must try!

Using crushed up rice cakes is an excellent alternative to the usual regular bread crumb/panko crumb topping... not only because of the "pop" in texture but it makes the schnitzel gluten-free, making it ideal as a dinner option for the gluten intolerant.

While I have posted the recipe for the balsamic pan sauce that accompanies the schnitzel recipe, I ended up adjusting my sauce to include ingredients on hand. Of course, this dish can easily be made with chicken breasts... even veal. Hope you enjoy...

Tip: You can can easily freeze cooked schnitzels(wrap each individually) and re-crisp in oven for another day. I use my toaster oven for re-heating.

You will need: adapted from Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen via the Kitchn

4 (5 oz) boneless pork loin steaks 
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, optional
1 egg, beaten well with a fork in a shallow bowl
3 rice cakes (1oz), I used wild rice- lightly salted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Making Balsamic Pan Sauce:
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar( I used white)
1/2 cup homemade chicken stock ( I used a mixture of chicken and beef)
1/3 cup Bloody Mary mix (I used a bit of ketchup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or chives (I omitted)

1. Trim pork  pieces of sinew and fat. Place a piece of plastic wrap over meat and using a meat pounder, pound pork steak until about 3/8-inch thick. 
2. Sprinkle the pork with the salt and pepper and dried oregano. Set aside.
3. Process rice cake until broken up completely and has small pieces of crumbs... don't over-process so that it gets too powdery.

4. Place rice cake crumbs in a bowl, add egg in separate bowl and beat till combined.
5. Dip each piece pork into the beaten egg and coat well with the rice cake crumbs.
Tip:You can make this ahead if you like and refrigerate.
6. In a non stick pan, heat the oil and butter and add the coated pork and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side... or until cooked through and browned on the outside. Depending on the size of your pan you may need to do this in 2 batches (or 2 skillets), adjusting the oil and butter as needed. 
7. Place cooked pork schnitzels on a paper towel lined plate to absorb any excess fat. Transfer to a serving platter.

To make ahead re-crisp: You can place pork schnitzel in toaster oven at 425 for a few minutes until hot and crispy
To make Sauce: This sauce is a bit on the sweet and savory side... feel free to make your own pan sauce or skip altogether. I ended up adjusting my sauce according to ingredients I had in the house. However, I am posting the original ingredients and method.

1. If using two skillets, combine the drippings in one skillet. 
2. Add the vinegar to the pan and cook for 30 to 45 seconds, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
3. Add the chicken stock and Bloody Mary mix then continue to cook for about 1 minute, until slightly thickened.
4. Pour the sauce over and around the steaks. Sprinkle cilantro or chives on top, if desired

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Best and Easiest No Churn Ice Cream/Gelato... an Espresso Gelato Variation.

Espresso Ice Cream/Gelato Variation... No Churn, One Bowl, 4 Ingredients. Since I mentioned in my last post the amazing ice cream I've been making this summer ... I knew I couldn't let it go without sharing it with you as well. I know it's kind of late, why with summer being almost over... but ice cream, well, ice scream can be made all year round:).

If you've always wanted to make ice scream at home and had no ice scream  maker... well, this recipe is for you. 
If you've always wanted to make homemade ice scream that was smooth, creamy and without ice crystals... then this recipe is for you. 
If you've always wanted to make a ton of ice scream variations without so many recipe variations... well, this ice cream is for you. 
If you enjoy the store-bought Tallenti gelato... well, this homemade version is it! Actually, my husband says it's way better. 

Ok, so  I hardly ever call a recipe AMAZING... because recipes are quite subjective. What I may call amazing, you may not... and while others may call a recipe amazing, I may not. But... this ice scream recipe is truly outstanding. And it's super, super simple to make! It will amaze you and amaze your guests as well.  Well, at least those of us that like ice scream:)...

I've made this ice cream(more like gelato) many times... it's foolproof! I've played around with the flavor variations, and they've all been delicious. And while I've posted exact measurements for best results, I've also used a can of sweetened condensed milk  combined with 1 (475ml=2 cups) heavy cream container... to make a double batch. This way you don't need to buy a second container of heavy cream:). It's a tad sweeter, but not noticeably. 

While you can find variations to the no churn ice cream online, I find this is by far the easiest to do. You place all the ingredients in a bowl and whip to soft peaks... this of course doesn't include any add-ins you may choose to include, which you' ll fold in at the end. The only thing you have to remember is to not over beat the cream... otherwise it will turn buttery. Beat it to the consistency of a light mayonnaise and you'll be ok.. And all this is done in a single bowl... no need to beat the cream separately.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do... I know my husband enjoys it the most:).  This would be lovely... placed in disposable containers with a pretty label... perfect to bring as a hostess gift. Hope you enjoy...

Note: You can make this ice cream/gelato with with a ton of variations... the idea is to use heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk and flavorings of choice. 

The alcohol can be optional, though it keeps the ice scream from freezing solid in the freezer.

Variations I have made in the past included ingredients I had on hand at the moment:

 1)A mint chocolate chip, adding mint extract, and mini chips along with 1 TBS cherry liqueur, 
2) A chocolate rum-walnut, adding 1-2 TBS dark cocoa, rum extract and chopped walnuts along with 1 TBS cherry liqueur, 
3) A cherry shaved chocolate(cherry garcia), adding just the cherries from  fruit-sweetened cherry preserves, almond extract, and shavings of dark chocolate along with 1 TBS cherry liqueur.

But variations can be endless... adding broken up cookies, brownies, cookie dough, various cooked down fruits, nuts and chocolate can all be used. Be creative and make your own... apple pie, pumpkin pie and cherry pie sound wonderful:)...

Ingredients: Adapted from Nigella Lawson - makes about 1 1/2 pints (or 800 ml) 

1 ¼ cups cold heavy cream
⅔ cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons Irish Cream (or you can use espresso liqueur)


1. Measure and place all ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Using a hand held mixer(or you can whisk by hand) beat ingredients  until soft peaks form, and has thickened into an airy mixture, almost similar to a light mayonnaise consistency. Do not overbeat.
3. Pour in a freezer proof air tight container, and freeze overnight.
4. Enjoy a scoop of delicious and super smooth ice cream:)!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Romanian Chicken Papricas... chicken with tomato sauce and dumplings.

Romanian Chicken Papricas... chicken with tomato sauce and dumplings. It's been awhile since I've posted, I hope you are all doing well. A big thanks to you all who still try out recipes and share your feedback. I really appreciate your kind words and taking the time to stop by...

Summer has been busy and time has flown by so quickly! I've been meaning to post an amazing ice scream recipe that I made throughout the summer, a recipe that would be appropriate for these warmer months. Somehow I haven't had the chance to make it again so I could take pictures... I'm hoping I can still find my camera, and that it still works:). Truthfully, I have not been cooking or baking much... just haven't had the drive to try out new recipes lately (well, except for the ice scream recipe  that made me go out and buy the ingredients). We've somehow resorted to eating simple meals, and have to say we kind of got into the habit of pulling out whatever is in the fridge or pantry and calling it a meal.... of course always adding some vegetables on the table:).

However, from time to time(guests being in town), I've been able pull out my recipe index and make some of the traditional Romanian dishes...  I've had this recipe in my draft folder for some time now and thought to post it. It brought wonderful memories for me, as I loved papricas growing up... 

The dish is simple to make... doesn't have complex flavors... but it is still quite delicious and comforting. Romanian sauces are always quite similar, and this sauce isn't much different from the tomato based sauces found in Romanian cooking. However, the dumplings add another dimension to the dish and make it that much more comforting:). Hope you enjoy...

You will need:

1.5-2 lbs chicken meat, cut in 2 inch pieces (I used 2 boneless things, 2 drumsticks, 2 breast pieces)
2 TBS oil
1 onion (1 1/2 cups dice)
2  crushed garlic cloves, optional- I rather like it without
2 TBS tomato paste
2 tsps paprika
3-4 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
lemon juice to taste
chopped parsley, as needed

Dumpling Batter:
2 eggs(113grams), beaten
7 TBS (67 grams) flour
pinch of salt

1. Cut up chicken pieces and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Make dumpling batter: 
Beat eggs, add flour and pinch of salt. Whisk ingredients together until combined. Set aside. 
3. Heat large skillet on medium heat. Add oil.
4. When oil is hot add chicken pieces in single layer. Allow meat to brown before turning. 
5. Turn chicken pieces over and cook until meat is 3/4 of the way cooked. This should take about 5-7 minutes.
6. Lower heat to medium/low and add onion to pan. 
7. Stir and scrape any browned bits and continue cooking onion and meat for about 10-15 minutes on medium low heat. 
8. Add crushed garlic cloves(if using), tomato paste and paprika. Stir to combine thoroughly and cook for an additional 1-2  minutes. You can remove the pan from the heat so you can combine the ingredients easier without risking burning the meat and onion... and then just place it back on the heat to continue cooking. 
9. Off heat, add 3-4 cups of chicken stock slowly and stir to combine(amount of stock depends how thin you want the sauce to be...start with smaller amount and adjust later, if you feel it needs it.)
10. Place skillet back on heat and add bay leaves.
11. Heat on high and bring sauce to a boil, then lower heat  to a soft boil(med/low heat) and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until sauce is thickened slightly.  
12. Lower heat to low and make sure there are no boiling bubbles occurring, then slowly place teaspoon sized dumpling batter in sauce ... allow batter to slowly fall from the teaspoon in the sauce. Keep the teaspoon close to the sauce when forming dumplings... otherwise the dumplings will disintegrate if formed and dropped from a distance. 
Tip: It helps to dip spoon in the hot liquid sauce before forming dumplings as this makes it easier for the dumpling to release from the spoon.
13. Continue forming dumplings until all batter is used up. Allow to cook until slightly puffed and soft.... about 10-15 more minutes or until dumplings are cooked through
14. Add lemon juice to taste and adjust seasoning. Lemon juice can be optional, but I find it brightens the dish well, bringing out the flavors. Cook for an additional minute or so. Sprinkle with parsley.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Easy Moist Chocolate Cake ... with chocolate ganache.

Easy Moist Chocolate Cake ... with chocolate ganache. I know this isn't something new... it's just chocolate cake. BUT... it's a moist cake with deep chocolate flavor. Ok, maybe most chocolate cakes can vouch for that. However, I like this cake for it's simplicity... and well, for the fact that it doesn't use 2 cups of sugar... nor does it use lots of eggs, because sometimes you only have a single egg in the fridge. I like it because it reminds me of those box cake mixes... and yet it's made from scratch. The cake is light, tender and fluffy, but with enough structure to take on a chocolate ganache.... and somehow, a slice doesn't feel too heavy when eaten with a cup of coffee.

You can make this cake using simple ingredients, but the outcome can be anything but simple... depending on how you adapt it. It's super delicious with the addition of a chocolate ganache. While I posted the basic recipe, feel free to add all sorts of flavorings to the cake or ganache (orange peel, mint, Irish cream, etc.)... a sprinkle of chopped nuts would be good too. For Christmas, crushed mint candies would be nice on top of the ganache. For Thanksgiving, you could add some warm spices to the cake batter and top the ganache with some chopped dried cranberries and maybe some crushed nuts.  The cake is simple to make and can be "stretched" to feed quite a few people....

I made this cake awhile back... a few times... and found the cake adaptable to many uses. This cake is great as a simple snack cake with powdered sugar(no ganache), also good crumbled to make cake pops... or served elegantly with ganache along with a scoop of ice cream, whipped cream or even a drizzle of raspberry coulis. However it's served, I found it worthy to post:). Hope you enjoy...

You will need: adapted from Food and Wine

Chocolate Cake
2 oz chopped chocolate, or chips
3/4 cup oil, I used extra light olive oil
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 TBS vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, I used Hershey's dark
1 tablespoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup strong-brewed coffee, cooled
1 1/3 cup sour cream, original recipe uses 1 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup heavy cream
3 ounces bittersweet chopped chocolate/ or chips

mini chocolate chips for topping

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. 
  • Oil a 12-cup Bundt pan.... I oiled and floured mine
1. In a small saucepan, melt 2 ounces of the chopped chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. 
2. Scrape the chocolate into a medium bowl and let cool slightly. 
3. Whisk in the oil and sugar until smooth, then whisk in the egg and the vanilla extract.
4. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. 
5. Add half of the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture along with 1/2 cup of the coffee and 1/2  of the sour cream(or buttermilk, if using); whisk until smooth. 
6. Add the remaining dry ingredients, coffee and sour cream(or buttermilk, if using)  and whisk until smooth.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. 
8. Let the cake cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn it out and let cool completely.
9. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Remove from heat and add the 3 ounces of chopped chocolate.  Let stand until melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Let the ganache glaze cool until thick but still pourable, about 5 minutes.
10. Pour the ganache over the cooled cake... sprinkle mini chips, if desired. Let the cake stand until the glaze is set, at least 30 minutes, before serving.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Raw Cauliflower Salad... with a tangy vinaigrette.

Raw Cauliflower Salad... with a tangy vinaigrette. When it comes to salads, I have to admit that I mainly stick to simple salads. Normally, I fluctuate between leafy lettuce or cabbage... and adding the usual suspects, onion, cucumber, and tomatoes. Sometimes, I'll look through my fridge and add that lone boiled egg, or a handful of seeds or nuts to go right along with the rest of the ingredients. At other times, I may add other bits and pieces of veggies that I may have around as well... such as cauliflower, celery or carrots. It's funny how oftentimes the "small" salad I originally intend to make... well, all of a sudden becomes this gigantic bowl of veggies:).

In any case, the other day, I had finished all the shredded cabbage I had in the fridge, and as there was no leafy lettuce around, I decided to use the cauliflower I had... and of course, used my usual "technique" of adding a few other ingredients I had in the fridge:). And you know what? The result was delicious.  

When it comes to using both cabbage and cauliflower in salads, you'll notice they both need quite a bit of acidity... they absorb it quickly(especially so if the salad sits overnight). You'll need to increase the acidity in the vinaigrette ... more so than you would otherwise add to a regular leafy salad. I prefer most times to use vinegar, but every so often will change things up a bit and add some lemon juice as well. 

While I ended up making this salad with ingredients I had in the house, you can easily be creative and use vegetables you prefer... or omit any you don't care for. 

Using cauliflower as the base of a salad is a wonderful idea, not only is it delicious, but it provides wonderful texture. As a bonus, the salad keeps well... even when made ahead. And because it has a tangy flavor, it can enhance many meaty dishes by cutting through their fat... from BBQ meats, braised meats, sausages, fried chicken and the likes.

The salad is also wonderful on its own... quite refreshing and filling!

Because I loved this salad, I thought to share it, in case you are looking for a different sort of salad to make... or you need a salad/side dish bring to a gathering that's mostly free of allergens. If you really want to make a meal of it, try adding some cooked beans, mungbeans, barley, chickpeas, etc.  Hope you enjoy... 

Tip: You can easily add in some pomegranate arils... and add a tablespoon or 2 of pomegranate molasses to the dressing. Feel free to use other herbs of choice... mint would be a good one. Lots of other vegetables would be good... fennel, cucumber, radishes, etc.

Note: Any type of dressing will work quite well, so feel free to use your favorite. I simply used what I had on hand.

You will need:
1/2 head(3 cups) cauliflower, diced
1 small bunch(1/2 cup) parsley, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, diced
2 (1/2 cup) celery ribs, diced
5 thin(1/2 cup) green onion, chopped 
1/3 cup sliced almonds(can use other nuts or seeds of choice)

3 TBS meyer lemon juice (can use regular lemons, but adjust amount to taste)
1 TBS white balsamic vinegar
2-3 TBS olive oil, can use a nut oil if desired
1/2 tsp spicy sesame oil, optional
3/4-1 tsp salt, or to taste
pepper to taste


1. Prep all ingredients and set aside.
2. Make vinaigrette by whisking all the dressing ingredients together until mixed thoroughly.
3. In a large bowl toss vegetables together and add  the vinaigrette. Mix until evenly coated. Adjust taste and mix in almonds.
4. Pile salad in a clean bowl and serve straightaway... or allow salad to sit and absorb the dressing. The salad will get less tangy as the cauliflower absorbs the dressing. Also, the salad can be made ahead as it keeps well.... just mix in almonds before serving.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Romanian Oven-Roasted Cabbage... "Varza La Cuptor"

Romanian Oven-Roasted Cabbage... "Varza La Cuptor"... This cabbage dish has become one of my new favorites in the last few weeks. I've made it multiple times... and never got tired of it:).
What I love most about it is that it uses real basic ingredients, resulting in a dish I can eat for days. Funny thing is that I love it cold out of the fridge as well! I know...

Now, this dish has roots to my Romanian heritage. It was a dish made often in our home while growing up. Since my mom always had homemade sauerkraut in the house, she would make this dish using only fermented  cabbage...whole cabbage heads which she sliced thinly....  and she really didn't add any fresh cabbage like I do. But since I don't always have a barrel of sauerkraut on hand, I opt to "fill in" the sauerkraut amount with fresh cabbage and add some lemon juice to make up for some of the acidity sauerkraut imparts to the dish. 

But what I really like, is that on a whim, when I crave this dish, I can make it with just an 18 oz container of store-bought fermented sauerkraut... and a raw head of cabbage. Now I found a particular brand for sauerkraut(Wildbrine) that tastes exactly like the sauerkraut I grew up with... so that's what I used here. However, I've also used jarred Bubbies brand sauerkraut as well... without the garlic and dill flavor. 

If you like anything caramelized... onions especially, you might enjoy this dish. The cabbage in this dish bakes and releases wonderful aromas and tantalizing caramelized flavors. While you can add all sorts of other ingredients to the dish... I love it in its simplicity- cabbage, sauerkraut and onion. 

I am always amazed when simple ingredients produce a dish that's complex in flavors. In the end, the roasted cabbage should have a "dry" consistency... without any liquid lingering in the dish. 

Romanians love to pair this dish with sausages, fried pork chops and roast duck. A side of freshly made polenta usually completes the meal. I'm fine eating it by itself... but my husband enjoys it with sausage:). 

Next time, try roasting the cabbage in the oven... you'll notice roasting brings the cabbage to another level. Hope you enjoy...

Note: While I drained my sauerkraut of all the juice and added lemon juice instead, you can opt to not drain the  sauerkraut in case you have no lemon juice on hand... I like to reserve the sauerkraut juice for making soups and love to add lemon juice to the cabbage as it adds another level of acidity the cabbage needs.

Also, while I added the amounts needed for the cabbage and sauerkraut, you can easily adjust by adding more sauerkraut and less cabbage... same goes with the tomato paste or olive oil. For me these amounts work wonderfully well. The cabbage isn't too greasy, nor is it too tomato-y, nor too sour. But everyone's taste is different:)...

You will need:

Oven-Roasted Cabbage
1 head (3lb) green cabbage, sliced thin
1 med/large onion, sliced thin
1(18 oz) container, sauerkraut, drained- (mine was dill and garlic flavored)
3-5 TBS lemon juice, or to taste -I used 5 TBS meyer lemon juice
6 TBS olive oil
3 TBS tomato paste, can be optional
1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
pepper to taste

Other Additions Can Be Added To Taste:
smoked paprika
pepper flakes/cayenne
caraway seeds
lardons of bacon
sausages, added at the end of the cooking time- or you can pan fry

  • Preheat oven to 375 deg F
1. Gather ingredients. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil on the bottom of a large roasting pan( I used a 13x9 pan)
2. Slice cabbage thinly, can use mandoline if desired. Add to pan.
3. Slice onion thinly, can use mandoline if desired. Add to pan.
4. Drain sauerkraut(reserve liquid for other uses, such as soups) and add sauerkraut to the rest of cabbage ingredients that's in the pan.
5. In a small bowl, mix  the remainder of the olive oil(5 TBS), tomato paste(if using), salt, pepper and lemon juice until combined thoroughly. Pour over cabbage ingredients.
6. Mix all cabbage ingredients thoroughly until all cabbage is coated with the oil mixture. At this point you can add other ingredients you may like... I added some spicy red pepper. 
Note: If you find the pan is too small to mix all the cabbage ingredients in, then opt to mix them in a large bowl beforehand and then level it out in the roasting pan. 
7. Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 1 hour - 1 hour and 30 minutes... or until cabbage is nicely colored and caramelized... and all liquid is evaporated.  You will need to turn the cabbage over in the pan every 10-15 minutes... so the cabbage gets caramelized evenly. My cabbage was done around 1 hour and 15 minutes. 
I made 2 versions of the oven-roasted cabbage... one with tomato paste ... and one without tomato paste. Both were delicious! So in case, you don't have any tomato paste, you can still enjoy making the dish with just a few simple ingredients.