Cooking for the ones you love

Yes, cooking for other people is something different from preparing food for ourselves. I always feel terrified. So much I wish it to be perfect. What to do to avoid panic?

1. Planning.

Week ahead is surely enough. You can look through all your recipes cut out from magazines and kept ‘for later’. When you decide for the food, make the shopping list. Do the shopping – this takes unbelievably much of time. Plan the most time-consuming works. Plan menu in the way that enables you to socialize! Especially cooking for more people, plan the food easy to make, serve and share. Don’t leave your guests the impression that they came to a restaurant where they usually do not see the chef.

2. Choosing the theme.

This goes as a second because is not necessary but can be a very interesting part of preparing a meeting. Cooking lesson, cold buffet, green-coloured food, Italian cuisine, holiday dinner and other themes, they all give us a spark to create an exceptional menu. Think about the dishes, napkins, candles, flowers and other decorative stuff. Yupi!!!!!!

3. Cooking itself.

What you have planned, prepare it early enough. Especially if you make it for the first time. Think about something in case of ‘emergency’. Whipped cream can save (or make) many desserts. If your taste is not ‘typical’, ask someone to try the dish while still cooking.

4. Do not let the food to overwhelm you or your guests, unless it has a strong purpose, as attention given to the wedding cake or turkey on Thanks Giving Day. (Personally: do not terrorize your guests with your camera...)

5. Indulge yourself with your delicious food, you are also a guest! Enjoy the time as you wish to invite your friends once again!

Does it look as a more relaxed way of organising a party??

Anyway, it will work during the Shrovetide week!


Lovers’ cake

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach - it is a Polish saying. Is it true? Yes, we love eat, not only men but women too. Food always was considered a good way to start an affair. Long time ago people found that some ingredients are good stimulant to love. The first aphrodisiac was very weird for us. For example: some tribes cooked special food with lizards, testicle of some animals and herbs. This meal was served to newly-weds. In the past there were many weird aphrodisiacs and many methods of preparing food – some women put honey on their skin and sprinkled themselves with seeds of wheat and then they scraped the seeds off their body and next ground and baked bread for their lover. Now it is amusing or disgusting.

People look for aphrodisiacs and love to eat them and sometimes believe in their power. Sometimes aphrodisiacs actually are powerful because they have vitamins and chemicals which stimulate our hormones. When we want to spend a romantic night we don’t need magical substance and special methods. We need nice atmosphere and respect for our lover. Sometimes we need something else for example a good dinner or sweets.

In last Valentine's day I thought up special pastry which combines famous aphrodisiacs: champagne, chocolate, strawberry, eggs and made “cake of lovers”.

Chocolate cake

1 egg
100 g flour
10 g chocolate
60g sugar
50 g butter
50 ml milk
1 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to180 C degrees.
Put flour, sugar, baking powder in large bowl and mix well.
Melt butter in a saucepan, add a chocolate and melt it. Add milk and eggs and mix quick and well. Pour this liquid into bowl and mix.
Spread dough in prepared small pan (shape like heart) and bake 25 minutes.

Champagne cream

100ml fresh cream 30%
20g sugar
50 ml champagne
100g strawberries
2 tsp. gelatin
Cut strawberries into slices. Put strawberries in a saucepan, add sugar and cook for 10 minutes. Mix frequently.
Dissolve gelatin in small portion of hot water and add into strawberries and mix, don’t cook. Add champagne, mix gently and cool down.
Prepare whipped cream with fresh cream. When strawberries are cool add whipped cream and mix well. Put mixture to the fridge.

Lovers’ cake

2 Chocolate cakes ( heart shape)
Strawberry- champagne cream
50 g marzipan
2 fresh strawberries

Cut each cake into slices. It means you need to cut it as a roll into top and bottom slice. Put cream on bottom slice of cake and put gently on top of second slice and press gently and put the remaining cream on top and the sides. Cut marzipan to half and roll each piece. Spread marzipan on cake and gently press it. Cut excess marzipan, garnish with fresh strawberry.

Serve with glass of champagne in romantic time.



Improvisation is the key to success

For some reason I don't like defining weight by cups. The authors of the recipes may use different cups and I can never be sure if I use theirs. I prefer clear and unequivocal grams and mililiters. With one exception: my own handful, pinch or a little.

Once you get some knowledge you can use it to develop new ideas. This is how I work with my breads. Almost always I keep in my fridge fresh yeast and rye sourdough. At least once a week I look through my cupboard to choose a new aroma for a new bread. This can be onion, sage, mixed peppers, soy sauce or even chocolate liqueur.

Last time I chose coriander seeds which are the dry fruits of the herb called also cilantro or Chinese parsley. Being an ignorant I just liked the name. I haven't thought that its name can be derived from the Mycenaean princess Ariadne, that it already appeared in the Old Testament and was eaten by Tutankhamun. I just thought it reminds me Earl Grey tea. I loved this tiny grain with so much Eastern flavour which we find in garam masala. Bitter-sweet, citrusy, inspiring. To make, as it became, a
coriander twirl bread.

I quickly mixed

around 400 grams of the white flour
probably 20 or 30 grams of the fresh (compressed) yeast
maybe 2 tablespoons of honey
some salt (need to taste and add if necessary)
3 or 4 teaspoons of coriander seeds, crushed just now
some water, enough to form a soft dough

Kneading well, slowly and obviously with pleasure. Keeping the dough in a warm place to double, more or less, its size. Then shaping into a giant twirl bread, really handsome! This shape is suitable when you were intended to make a long loaf but... it became too long.

Proofing, no rush. Time for dancing, writing (bread) poetry, feeding the fam
ily, doing laundry, simply: life.

Baking. 180-190 Celsius degrees. Around 50 minutes. When the coriander twirl got that nice golden colour that I was expecting, I knocked at the bottom for hearing bread's 'hello'.

How so simple thing can be so appealing? You see? Improvisation is the key to su
ccess. As well as repeating:-)

After taking photos for you, I asked my husband: 'Have you ever made a make-up to take a photo with bread?'

'Yes', automatically he answered, and took the first bite before I could react. This is the kind of success I like to achieve.

So the recipe was created by improvisation. Taste, look, smell, joy of acting and sharing they all were the success. But what was exactly the key? I think it was love.


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