Weird vegetable - artichoke.

It was my first time when I prepared artichoke by myself. I always wanted to make artichoke, but I have had a problem with good quality artichoke or it was expensive. In Poland and also in Ireland artichoke isn't popular, even in restaurants. Last week I found beautiful artichokes in my favourite groceries and bought a few and prepared on Sunday lunch in very simple way – in Poland known as “Roman” dish.

For 1 person

2 artichokes
1 clove of garlic (chop)
few leaves mint
½ glas of water
½ glas of olive oil
salt, pepper

Cut off the artichoke stems of the leaves, snapping off the tough bottom leaves and discard it. Stuff with garlic and mint. Pour water and oil into the pot, put artichokes inside (head down), add salt and pepper. Boil for about 20 min, and serve.

I served it with noodles with olives oil and ham.

But my artichoke adventure didn't finish during lunch. After the lunch we went to botanic garden where I saw growing artichokes. In this way that day I saw the whole life of this weird vegetable, but I still ask – Who discovered this vegetable and why? It is strange for me because we eat hearts of artichoke bud, the rest is hard and not tasty. Who was so hungry?


Chocolate cookie

Almost every food fair has now a chocolate making show or a chocolate sculpture exhibition. We can watch the catwalk chocolate shows. If you tap the tag 'chocolate art' on google you will discover nearly 20 million of images. This art is so much time-consuming and temporary at the same time! My cookie was not the exception.
I won't tell the name of the manufacturer, I am just saying this cookie was cute. Yes, it was, my devotion to the art led me to the total experience of the work... There is a mountainous landscape in the background, beautiful obvious pines, real dairy cows and the cowherd with his flattened hat and nose. What a beautiful picture that makes a regular cookie an unusual one.
I loved the details but it didn't help this cookie to survive. That is why it is so important to catch these masterpieces on our cameras. Do you also have any chocolate art to share it? Please let mi know sending the photos to hilona@wp.pl. We will make a chocolate gallery!


Sweet potato

I am so sweet having this small violet leaves...
But I'll soon lose my innocence.
To become mature, hot and tasty sweet potato that has been through a lot.
And what do you say if I am lying like this in front of you completely knocked into a cocked hat?
I am afraid to check if the sweet potato goes well with the whipped cream. Certainly it brings out and strenghten the natural flavour of the fish flesh. Probably this is one of the reasons why it is so popular in the Pacific region. I will try to give you more more serious information if I have time.

See you later!


Concombres au beurre or a thing on culinary literature

If I remember well my first piece of the culinary literature was Fried green tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fanny Flag. I even prepared this dish although I didn’t know then that there is a separate variety of tomatoes and I used our own regular red tomatoes – scandalously immature. Somehow we were not poisoned and it was very tasty. That was so long ago. For the last year I keep noticing new books that can be classified as culinary literature. Of course the matters of table are not a new occurrence in literature, let us remind just the unparalleled gourmet Honoré Balzac himself. But was it very often in the past that cuisine made the plot or was the complete scenery? While reading Rosewater and Soda Bread by Marsha Mehran, A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi and even Mireille Guiliano in some way, our salivary glands are working constantly.

Julie and Julia. My Year of Cooking Dangerously is not the exception. I admire Julie Powell. Because even if I supposed that I should go through all the recipes from my Australian and New Zealand Complete Book of Cookery I have never dare to think it is possible (but it would be a topic for another blog, I guess?). I congratulate Julie something still inaccessible for many I-can’t-cook-persons : finding pleasure in the very ephemeral art of cooking.

It would make no sense if I didn’t try to make any of the recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Beef bourguignon seems to be an interesting dish but it didn’t captured me at once. But cucumbers served hot, mmm.... As I am not the lucky owner of Julia Child’s cookbook in the matters of French cuisine I rely on The Concise Larousse Gastronomique. And you know what? There is the recipe for Concombres étuvés au beurre.

Ultimate buttered cucumbers

(or a cucumber butter)

2 large cucumbers

50 g butter

parsley, chopped

1. Cut the cucumbers in segments. Blanch briefly in boiling water.

2. Place in a pan with 40 g of butter and a tablespoon of water, season with salt and pepper. Bring to boil quickly and then simmer for 30 minutes under cover.

3. When ready, adjust seasoning, add remaining butter, stir.

4. Lay out on the plate and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

It is supposed to goes perfectly with white meat or fish. Probably it is so. But I love them on their own. Well, with smoked cheese toast... The recipe does not say exactly what to do with much of liquid I obtained. I poured it off to the cup and put to the fridge, and guess what? When the mixture cooled down, the liquid find a place below whereas at the top you get a lightly celadon green and spicy cucumber butter!!!

If you wish to get more of it, simply use more butter while cooking the cucumbers (let’s say 100 g per 2 cucumbers) and when the dish is ready remove cucumbers, add further 100 g of butter adjust seasoning and leave to cool down.

Maybe I should try with this Complete Book of Cookery. Don’t you too think that the word ‘complete’ is scary?


Back to the oven

Yahoo!!! We have just moved back to our previous students' house flat!!! I have my amazing oven back again! We need to celebrate this with some crazy muffins!

First, of course cleaning and finding a place for all our belongings. I am terribly sorry for all my kitchen utensil that must be placed under the bed because there is no other space left (to be clear: there is the common kitchen with this MY oven outside of the room in the corridor). I dream that one day I will have a huge kitchen for all my jars, pots, pans, spoons and bowls.

Can you believe that the sunny air smells exactly the same as a year ago when I was moving to this place and began the story with this blog? My smell memory recalls all the mornings at the pastry board when I was kneading, cutting, mixing and photographing food. This feeling gives me hope for more. I recognise snow in the air and I know that pretty soon I am going to bake bread and gingerbreads will come even sooner than I expect. Mmm.

First, no ordinary muffins - Pizza muffins.

(for 7 large or more smaller muffins)

250 g flour
2 tsps baking powder
2 flat tsps salt
1 large egg
250 ml milk
3 Tbsps vegetable oil
1 small onion
120 g grated hard cheese (I used Gouda)
30 g ham (2 large slices) cut into small cubes
4 Tbsps tomato sauce
1 tsp dried oregano

1. Chop the onion and fry on the oil until transparent. Here you can warm up also the ham but it is not necessary. Cool a little.

2. Mix sieved flour, two thirds of cheese, ham (only if it was not fried), salt and baking powder in one bowl.

3. Combine tomato sauce with oregano in another bowl, than add milk, slightly beaten egg and onion with oil.

4. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, mix quickly and portion the batter into an oiled muffin tin. Sprinkle every muffin with the remaining cheese.

5. Bake for 20 minutes in 180 degrees in preheated oven.

6. Serve at least warm, grilled if possible, with tomato sauce. You will be surprised with the gentle pizza flavour of these muffins!

YuMMMy. On that day I also made with my friend from ANZORA my banana & forest fruits yoghurt muffins. And I couldn't refrain anymore from baking a traditional Hawaiian wedding cake for my friend's birthday. So, we greeted much with my oven.


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