Popovers

When you are on vacation, everything tastes beter … and when the food is fabulous you are going to remember it forever. This is what happened to us when we visited the Arcadia National Park in Maine. We ate lunch at the park’s restaurant where they served popovers with every meal … the smell and the taste of these lovely rolls and of course the breathtaking view will stay with us forever.

Popovers are the American version of Yorkshire pudding, a British speciality. These souffle-like rolls are airy and custardy. They are made with an egg batter and baked in a muffin pan. The inside is hollow and the outside has a nice crust with a savory flavor. I like to serve it with jam and butter. Enjoy!

RECIPE

Makes 12 popovers.

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Method

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  • In a seperate bowl, wisk together the eggs, milk and melted butter. Add to the flour mixture and mix well until no lumps remain.
  • Butter a muffin pan.
  • Evenly distribute the batter among the cups in the pan. Fill each cup until they are about two-third full. Put some water in cups that don’t have any batter.
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 450F.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 350F and bake for another 20 minutes or until the outside is crusty and brown. Do not open the oven door until the last 5 minutes to prevenr the popovers from deflating.
  • Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Take popovers out of the pan.
  • Serve warm.

enjoy!

Photo and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Moist buttermilk cornbread

This is a basic recipe that I have been using and enjoying for years. It is moist, a bit crunchy with a little hint of sweetness. Of course, coarsely ground corn flour is a must! The butter gives it a nice flavor and a bit of crunchyness, the buttermilk makes it soft and the eggs pull it all together … oh and I add a little sugar just enough to make it sweet. Feel free to serve it with a hearty soup or just have it as it is with some jam.

Please check out my recipe for my white chilli soup (recipe).

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1 cup corn meal, coarse ground
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 stick (110g) of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Mix the dry ingredients.
  • Mix the wet ingredients.
  • Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Do not overbeat.
  • Pour into a lightly greased pan. I like to let the mixture sit for a couple of hours so it is easier to digest.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Let the bread cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting.

enjoy!

Recipe, text and photos by twincitiesherbs.com.

Chocolate espresso crinkle cookies

You can surely impress your guests with these rich chocolate cookies or maybe you can just use this recipe for a last minute gift for your neighbors… The crunchy outside is coupled with the melt-in-your-mouth soft inside and is elevated to another level with the espresso flavor. Enjoy!

Recipe

Makes 16 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 4 tsp instant espresso 
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • pinch of salt 
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter 
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten 
  • 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet baking chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp milk 
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, for coating

Preparations

Start melting the chocolate. I used a double boiler.

In a larger bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder and salt. Make sure you use some kind of a sifter, tea strainer as the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder need to be without knots. Set aside.

In a seperate bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar. Add the egg and mix until incorpoated.

Mix in the melted chocolate and the milk.

Add the flour mixture from earlier until you get a ball shaped dough. Put in a plastic bag and place in the freezer for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Butter a cookie sheet. Form 2 inch balls.

Pour 1/2 cup of powdered sugar in a medium sized bowl. In batches, roll the balls in the sugar and let the balls sit for a minute in the sugar. Repeat one more time.

Place the balls about 1 inches apart on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 12-14 minutes. They should be soft but not fall apart. Let the cookies stay on the baking sheet for 5 minutes to cool.

Transfer them on a wire rack for 15 minutes. They will harden.

enjoy!

Photos and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Poppyseed cake with chocolate ganache

This is my husband’s favorite cake that his mom made for his birthday every year. The recipe comes from his family, even his grandmother made it and it is now my favorite cake, too. When I talked to my husband’s cousins, they all raved about this cake, the Poppy seed cake … it was so funny to hear. No surprise they all think it is the best cake on Earth … it is moist, crunchy and delicious …

This cake takes some time and patience to make but is not too difficult. Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature, it should be around 70F. The recipe has three parts: the dough, the vanilla creme (creme patisserie) and the chocolate ganache. Please read the following notes on how to make the cake.

The dough requires sifted flour. Sifting flour is an easy process, cooks generally use a flour sifter. If you don’t have one no worries, you can use a strainer or a wire wisk. The idea is to get air into the flour. Then once sifted, measure out the 2 cups and return the extra flour into the flour bin.

You need a 9″ round cake form. For a long time I only had one cake form and I was fine. I just had to wait until the form cooled off after baking the first batch. I ended up buying a second one a few years ago. It is nice to have two but you can get by with only one.

The vanilla creme is pretty straight forward. I used a double boiler to cook the ingredients. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can use a metal bowl that fits on the top of the bottom pot securely but does not touch the bottom of the pot.

The chocolate ganacche is what brings all the ingredients, the cake together. It should be made a little softer than it is generally made for cakes … should stick to the surface but does not have to be hard. Also, the sweetness of the chocolate is a personal preference. I like the sweet chocolate personally but you can use whatever you prefer, of course.

RECIPE

Ingredients

Makes about 10 slices

Dough

  • 2/3 cup whole poppyseed
  • 1 cup milk, divided
  • 12 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 -1 cup of sugar (to taste)
  • 2 cups of SIFTED flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 egg whites (save 3 yolks for creme)

Creme Patissiere

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 egg yolk (saved from earlier step)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Chocolate ganacche

  • 6 oz baking chocolate (I used semi-sweet)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Preparation

Please check notes above for more info on how to make this cake.

Making the dough

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Have all ingredients at room tepmerature (70F).
  • Soak the poppy seed in 3/4 cup milk for 2 hours.
  • Cream butter with sugar. Set aside.
  • The amount of flour used is for sifted flour. Sift flour, baking powder, salt.
  • Add poppy seed mixture, butter/sugar mixture, vanilla and the remaining 1/4 cup of milk to the flour gradually. Do not overmix. Set aside.
  • Beat the four egg whites on high speed untill stiff.
  • Gently fold egg whites into the dough.
  • Seperate dough between two seperate greased and floured 9″ cake forms.
  • Try to make sure the top is flat.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes or until an inserted tooth pick comes out clean.

Making the vanilla patisserie

  • In a double boiler, bring milk to a boil over medium heat.
  • Meanwhile, wisk the three egg yolks, sugar together. Add flour, mix. Add warm milk gradually and mix.
  • Pour mixture back into the double boiler pot and cook over high heat. Wisk continuously for about 5 minutes or until mixture thickens.
  • Take off heat and add vanilla.
  • Let it cool.

Making the chocolate ganacche

You can use the clean double boiler here again. Melt the chocolate and add the heavy cream. Mix.

Assembling the cake

  • Place the vanilla creme in-between the two cake layers. (Use the ‘prettier’ cake for your top layer). Make sure vanilla creme is cooled off. Spread chocolate ganacche on the top.
  • Decorate the top to your liking.
  • Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

enjoy!

Photos and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Middle Eastern hummus recipe with pita bread

Why blog about a dish that so many people already know how to make? I wasn’t really planning on posting this recipe actually but people have been commenting that this is the best hummus they have ever had. I do have a few secrets that make this hummus so good. So here they go …

If you have been following my blog you can proably guess easily … the most important one is … to cook the chickpeas for 3 hours or less for pressure cookers, of course. This is a must IMO if you are looking for that special flavor. You can use canned beans but will not get the same results. My other secret is to use lots of tahini. Recipes usually call for a few tablespoosns … no I use a 1/2 cup and you get this wonderfully nutty sesame flavor. Oh and of course the seasoning is important too. I use cumin, garlic .. So that is the recipe secrets … enjoy!

For those of you who are not familiar with hummus, it is a delicious chickpea based paste from the Middle East. It is made with mashing the chickpeas and adding tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and spices. It can be served as an appetizer, a dip or to accompany other dishes.

… so since I am talking about my hummus recipe … I would like to introduce you to my new gadget, a manual food chopper by Briefton. My 20 year old Krupps food processor just broke and I was trying to find a replacemnt. I couldn’t find anything that I liked on the market right now and then came the idea … why not get a manual one? … so I did. And yes, you can make hummus with it too. I’m not trying to advertise this product, just would like to talk about a nice alternative to the electric one if anybody is interested. I should mention that the hummus will not be as smooth as when you use a food processor but we think that it is still tasty and definatelly bit chunkier …

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of uncooked chickpeas or 2 1/4 cooked (14oz can)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 larger onion
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil + more for serving
  • 1-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 5 Tbsp liquid from the beans or more
  • smoked paprika powder for serving
  • sumac for serving
  • olive oil for serving

Directions

Clean and soak the chickpeas overnight but at least for 8 hours. Drain liquid and cook in fresh cold water with baking soda for 3 hours, less if using a pressure cooker, of course. Take off foam at the end.

Chop onions by hand or in a food processor of your choice.

Add the beans and puree.

Add all the rest of the ingredients: tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, liquid from the beans, olive oil and continue mixing.

Continue until all ingredients are well blended. Hummus should be a nice paste in consistancy.

Add more salt, garlic and liquid from the beans if needed. If your tahini was dried out, you will need to add a few tablespoon of the cooking liquid for sure.

Serve with pita bread. (On a side note, these are very tasty. I made them smaller and cooked them at 475 F instead 500F ). Drizzle generous amount of olive oil on the top. Sprinkle the smoked paprika and chopped sumac (optional) on the top.

enjoy!

Text, recipe, photo by twincitiesherbs.com.

Source for the pitta bread: https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/143045564/posts/4728

Oatmeal pancakes

This is a recipe that I borrowed from my daughter. She has been making it for herself so she doesn’t have to eat my pancakes. Then I realized it is actually good. The pancakes are very simple but nutritious and delicious. Basic ingredients are oatmeal, eggs, bananas … oatmeal, eggs, bananas … oatmeal, eggs, bananas … that is it and just add a few things to make it taste better. Of course, this is a very kid friendly recipe.

Dairy free and gluten free with the substitution of gluten-free oats. 

RECIPE

Serving: generous portion for 1 adult

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of old fashioned oatmeal, coarsely ground (use gluten-free for gluten free version)
  • 1 1/2 crushed ripe banana
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, I used apple spice (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • lemon zest (optional)
  • oil for baking
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • syrup of your choice
  • fruits (optional)

Preparation

  • Lightly beat eggs in a medium sized bowl.
  • Mash the banana and add to the bowl.
  • Add 1/2 cup of oatmeal to a blender and blend until you get a coarse flour consistency. Add to the bowl.
  • Add baking soda, cinnamon, lemon zest, salt. Mix.
  • Just like any other grains, I like to let the mixture soak for a few hours but it can be baked right away.
  • Bake in a preheated oiled pan on medium low heat on both sides for 3-4 minutes. Flip over and bake for a few minutes. Both sides should be nice and golden brown in color.
  • You can add fruits on top of the pancakes while baking in the pan.
  • Serve with fruits, nuts and syrup.

enjoy!

Source: unknown

Photo, text by twincitiesherbs.com

Fresh salsa recipe

Salsa is one of my favorite sauces. It is easy to make as it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare. You can spice up many dishes with it and it can be made of course as spicy as you like it.

The most important ingredient is the tomato. You will need ripe, soft and tasty tomatoes. My favorite heirloom tomatoes are not ready yet but I find the hydroponic tomatoes a nice alternative. If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, you can use canned tomatoes, of course the results will not be the same. Also, I personally just use the tomatoes as they are and don’t remove the skin or the seeds.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 3 medium sized tomatoes, cored
  • 1/2 of a small red onion, chopped
  • 3 scalions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • juice of 1 lime or lemon or 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • handful of cilantro,chopped
  • 1/2-1 fresh chili pepper or jalapeño pepper, chopped (to taste)

Directions

  • Chop up the tomatoes. I prefer using a very sharp knife. You can use a food processor but your salsa will be more liquidy and IMO not as strong tasting.
  • Add all the other ingredients.
  • Mix.
  • Serve in a small dish.

enjoy!

Recipe, text and photo by twincities.herbs.

Italian spinach/mushroom lasagna (vegetarian)

I have been making lasagna recently quite a bit. It is not too hot outside yet so I can turn the oven on but we want something on the lighter side too … so this dish seems to fit the bill. Of course, you can make this dish any time of the year. Lasagna is an Italian specialty. Traditionally, it is made with layers of tomato sauce based ragu, cheese and béchamel sauce. In this dish, I replaced the meat with spinach, mushrooms and cheese. I served it with red wine that seemed to compliment it very nicely.

Spinach is a great vegetable for the spring, it is hardy and nourishing for the liver.

Of course, an important part of the lasagna is the pasta. The best is if it is home made but good, high quality packaged pasta will do too.

Also, the cheese is also important. Try to get the best quality you can afford. Honestly, when I was in Italy, the first thing that I noticed was how tasty the cheese was in their dishes. I like to use a mixture of cheeses, here I used fresh mozzarella cheese balls, feta cheese and Parmesan cheese.

I make my own Italian seasoning but of course any store bought mix would work too. I think this is a nicely balanced mixture of spices grown in Italy. They are carefully selected herbs so one herb will not overpower the other. Also, they all are carminative therefore will help with digestion. Historically, we can thank the ancient Greek doctors who added these herbs to dishes so people can get their benefits all year along.

The warming, aromatic oregano is the key ingredient in pasta dishes. I like to use it because it gives a nice, distinctive flavor to Italian dishes. The sweet fennel seeds are acrid and compliment the strong aromatic oregano in the dish. The delicate basil is probably the most loved and popular spice used in Italian cooking. If you can, try to use the fresh plant instead of the dried. Its aromatic flavor is a nice addition to any Italian dish. The pungent chili pepper is not a big part of the Italian cuisine but Italians enjoy adding a little to their pasta dishes. The oregano and the fennel seeds both can offset the heat of some stronger spices.

Italian seasoning

2 TBSP (6 tsp) dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil or handful of fresh basil

2 tsp ground fennel seeds

1/8 tsp black pepper

1/4-1/2 tsp hot red pepper or to taste (optional)

RECIPE

Serves 6-8 people

Ingredients

  • lasagna pasta (I used 10 strips)
  • 10-16oz spinach (frozen is fine too)
  • 4-8 oz chopped up mushrooms
  • olive oil
  • 2 slices of bacon (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce + (more for the top and the bottom if needed)
  • 1 cup of Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup for the filling, 1/2 cup for the Béchamel sauce)
  • 8oz (100g) fresh mozzarella balls
  • 8 oz (200g) of feta cheese
  • 1 Tbsp of Italian seasoning plus more for the top
  • handfull of fresh basil leaves (if you have them)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • About 4 oz grated Mozzarella cheese for the top

Bachamel sauce ingredients

  • 5 Tbsp of butter
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 2 cups of milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 egg yolks (optional)

  • Rosso Piceno wine. Bottled by Saladini Pilastri 2018 (optional) It is the best and not expensive!
  • parsley leaves (chopped)

Directions

Start boiling the water for the pasta (omit if your pasta does not need to be boiled).

Preheat the oven to 400F and have the rack in the middle of the oven.

Making the filling: In a pan, sauté bacon (optional) and mushrooms in a little oil for 5-10 minutes. Transfer into a bowl. Meanwhile wash and take stems off the spinach. If using frozen spinach of course no need to do it. Sauté in a little oil and water. Remove and try to drain off water. Chop spinach well and transfer into the bowl. Add mashed feta cheese, tomato sauce, 1 egg, garlic, 1 Tbsp of the Italian seasoning (see recipe above). Mix.

Preparing the béchamel sauce. It is not too hard, just follow the steps. I used a whisk. Warm up 5 Tbsp of butter on low heat, when melted increase the heat to medium high and add the flour slowly, stirring continuously. Then start adding the milk very slowly, stirring after each addition and wait for a minute to let the flour mixture soak up the milk. When you start seeing bubbles, it is done. Take off heat. Grate some nutmeg. Add 1/2 cup of Gruyere cheese (optional) and 2 egg yolks. Last time I forgot the eggs and the sauce was still fine. So I will add here that it is optional especially if you are already adding cheese. Mix well. I use a double boiler but is not necessary.

Prepare the lasagna pasta according to its directions. If you need to boil the pasta, put it in the boiling water that was started in the first step. Proceed according to its instructions. When done take out of the water and try to make sure they don’t stick to each other. I like to cook the pasta more at the end to prevent sticking. So try to make sure you have everything ready before the pasta is ready so you can start assembling the lasagna.

Assembling the lasagna: Put a thin layer of the béchamel sauce or tomato sauce on the bottom of a 3 Qt size baking dish. (2Qt size will work ok too). Place 1 layer of the pasta strips on the bottom of the pan. Put the filling on top of the pasta, followed by the fresh mozzarella balls (cut up if using the larger balls), pour the béchamel sauce and top it all with another layer of the pasta. Spread some pasta sauce and the shredded mozzarella cheese on the top. Sprinkle some Italian spice on the top.

Turn the oven heat down to 375F and put the lasagna in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is nice and golden brown.

Serve hot with a little grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley on the top. I really enjoyed a glass of red wine with the dish. I felt like I was in Italy! I would recommend this bottle of red wine if you are looking for one to try (please see details above in Ingredients).

enjoy!

Source

  • Matthew Wood: Earthwise
  • Paul Pitchford: Healing with Whole Foods

Photo, recipe, text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Coronavirus truffles

Honestly, this is just too cute to pass … It is not a cure for the corona virus but might help your kids, the young ones and the older ones alike, get through the quarantine time. Oh and the oreo cookies should be still available in the grocery stores. Recipe is from Rozina’s kitchen.

Recipe

makes 11 truffles

Ingredients

  • 24 Oreo cookies
  • 113 gramm cream cheese
  • handful of goji berries or cranberries

  • Have cream cheese at room temperature.
  • Grind the Oreo cookies into a fine powder consistancy. You can use a food processor or a rolling pin.
  • Work the cream cheese in with the Oreos.
  • Form smaller, 2″ balls with your hands.
  • Stick goji berries into the truffles.
  • We refrigerated the balls for a half hour before serving.

Directions

Enjoy and stay well!

Source

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/136488425/posts/31232

Hungarian egg-drop soup (tojásleves)

Hello, I’m writing this post from voluntary quarantine. I believe most of my readers are effected by the virus one way or another. My recipe may be helpful for getting through these difficult times although I normally make it quite often. It is very simple, tasty and nourishing as the main ingredients are eggs, caraway seeds and broth. It is the Hungarian version of a hot and sour soup that can be served with the semolina croutons or any bread croutons that you can buy in stores. Please check this website for more info on caraway seeds.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • Broth (vegetarian or meat based) or water
  • oil (vegetable or lard)
  • 1 smaller onion, finally chopped
  • 1 tsp Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1 Tbsp caraway seeds
  • 2 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • about 1 cup of semolina flour + 2 eggs or bread croutons
  • dehydrated vegetable seasoning (optional)
  • parsley, chopped
  • Hot pepper to taste

Directions for the soup

  • Have 1/4 cup of cold water ready
  • Sauté the onion in a medium sized pot until translucent.
  • Add 1 Tbsp flour, stir for 1 minute.
  • Add 1 tsp paprika for stir for 1 minute.
  • Add the water that was set aside from the first step, stir well.
  • Add stock, bay leaves, and caraway seeds. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat.
  • Separate 2 eggs and lightly beat the yolks. Add a small amount of liquid from the soup, mix. Slowly add to the soup while stirring the soup.
  • Add vinegar and dehydrated vegetable seasoning (optional)
  • Season with salt, black pepper and hot red pepper to taste.
  • Serve hot with semolina croutons or bread croutons.

Direction for the semolina croutons (optional)

  • Lightly beat 2 eggs. Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp oil.
  • Add about 1 cup of semolina flour or as much what the eggs takes up. You should get a dough that is dry enough so you can pick it it up and make it into a circular shape.
  • Let it sit for 1 hour if you can.
  • Pan fry this dough in a lightly oiled frying pan on both sides until golden brown.
  • Take out of frying pan and cut up into squares.

Enjoy!

SOURCE

Recipe, text and photo by twincitiesherbs.com.