Plum Flaugnarde (Clafoutis)

It is plum season in our neck of the woods (Midwest) right now. Whenever plums show up at the farmers’ market, I can feel the summer is about to come to an end. This is my last chance to indulge in summer fruits so please join me. Oh no not just with any dish … I’m going to say farewell to summer … with a French dish.

This is a fruity dish that is made with a thick flan like batter baked in a buttered dish. Traditionally, it is made with cherries and is called cherry clafoutis or simply clafoutis in French but when made with any other harder fruits like plums, it is called flaugnarde. So technically, this dish is called flaugnarde. It was made in France first, more exactly in Limousine, in the central region of France.

Clafoutis is a simple rustic dish. It is not meant to be beautiful, delicate looking like what you expect a French dessert to be but it is more of a peasant food. So go ahead and pack your dish with the plums, berries and the batter, don’t need to worry about the appearance that much … Also, it is like a crepe just thicker and you should have all the main ingredients in your kitchen already … milk, flour, butter, eggs, sugar … and I think it is a lot tastier than crepes …

Please also check out my plum gnocchi receipe if interested.

RECIPE

Serves 4-6 people

Ingredients

  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg for the plums + 1/8 tsp for the batter
  • 1/2-1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp dried ginger, cut and sifted or use 1 tsp fresh chopped ginger
  • 9 pieces of smaller plums, less if bigger
  • 1/3 cup sweet berries
  • 3 Tbsp cognac or brandy (optional)
  • 1/2 sugar, divided
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup of milk
  • 1/3 cup ceam (I have used kefir before too)
  • 2/3 cup of flour
  • 1 tbsp almond extract
  • handfull of almond slivers
  • pinch of salt
  • powdered sugar for serving

Preperation

Preheat oven to 350F. Place the rack in the middle of the oven.

For the batter, mix milk, cream, eggs, almond extract, salt, 2 Tbsp – 1/4 cups of sugar, 1/8 tsp nutmeg and 1 Tbsp melted butter with a mixer on high speed quickly and add the flour and continue mixing for another minute. Make sure there are no clumps left but do not overbeat. You can use a whisk, handheld mixer or blender. (Yeap kind of like a crepe mixture). Set aside for an hour if you have time.

Cut up the plums and take out the pitts. (I leave the pitts in). Put plums in a medium sized bowl. Pour 1/4 cup of sugar and the brandy (optional) on the plums. Give it a toss. Let plums macarate for about 10 minutes. Then add berries, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to the plums. Mix. Set aside.

Use a 10″ inch baking dish (like a quiche dish). You need a dish that has a larger surface area and will hold 6 cups of food. Pour in the melted butter and spread it evenly on the surface of the dish making sure that you coat the sides too.

Evenly spread the plum mixture from earlier on the buttered surface. (I added the marinate liquid, too).

Pour batter (from earlier) over the plum mixture and sprinkle the top with the shaved almonds.

Bake for 45 – 55 minutes or until cake is puffy and has a nice light brown color. An inserted tooth pick should come out clean but the middle should be soft. The texture of the baked clafoutis should be like a study custard.

Let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.

When ready to serve, sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Serve warm.

It can be stored in the refrigerator covered for 24 hours but best eaten the same day.

enjoy! Bon appetite!

Recipe, photos, 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 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 chopped and 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

Chinese bitter melon soup

Bitter melon is not called bitter melon for nothing … yes it is very bitter … but if you take out the seeds, it won’t be bothersome. Besides life needs a little bitternes so you can better appreciate the good things – right?!? Big smiley face. It is also very healthy and makes delicious dishes. This interesting plant is hugely popular all over Asia particularly in India and China. My recipe this week is from China. No worries no exotic ingredients … you just need garlic and ginger for seasoning. The recipe is from the following source.

Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) originated in India and became popular in China in the 14th century. It is now used all over Asia. It is a bitter plant that is also sour. According to Chinese Medicine, its bitterness makes it great for the Fire element in the summer (cooling) and detoxifies the liver and its sourness supports the liver ( Wood element). It also improves digestion. In Ayurveda, it is considered a great pitta pacifying remedy that is immensely valuable for the hot months. Western research has found it to be beneficial for the prevention/treatment of many problems including diabetes, cancer, infections, skin problems, dysmenorrhea, immune system, autoimmune diseases, and colds/flus. (If you have any of these problems, please see a practitioner first though.)

Today, we often don’t get enough bitter flavor in our diet but it is important for good overall health. Chefs use sweet flavored foods to balance out the bitter flavor. In this recipe, mainly the carrots, chayote squash and potatoes do this job. If you don’t like or don’t have all these vegetables, feel free to use any sweet vegetables you have on hand and/or think would work well together. For instance, we don’t have winter squashes yet so I used zucchini instead. Of course, the pungent ginger and garlic are essential to balance out the bitter flavor as well and the bitter flavor will be barely noticable. Honestly this is a nice tasting soup.

Where can we get bitter melon in the United States? They are easily available at Asian grocery stores and are sold by Asian farmers at the farmers’ markets. You might be able to get them at smaller grocery stores too.

Please note that the soup on the picture does not have chicken. I also added lemon grass because I have it in my garden and has a nice flavor.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • .25-.0.5 lb of chicken thighs or breasts (skinless)
  • 1 bitter melon
  • 1 chayote squash or zucchini or any squash
  • 4 regular carrots, cut into small chunks
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, quadered
  • 2 small potatoes, cut into small chunks
  • 2 stalks celery , sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 small chunk ginger, about 2 tablespoons chopped
  • chicken broth
  • salt to taste

Directions

  • Make the chicken stock. Omit if using store bought.
  • Cut bitter melon in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Discard seeds. (They come out easily).
  • Meanwhile peel and chop the ginger and the garlic. Peel the potatoes if you wish. Cube the tomatoes and the potatoes. Clean and slice the squash, carrots, celery. When ready slice the bitter melon.
  • Cut the chicken up into small pieces.
  • Put all ingredients in a medium sized pot, cover well with chicken stock and cook covered for about 45 minutes or untill vegetables are soft. I added the zucchini in the last 20 minutes.
  • Serve hot.

enjoy!

Photo and text by twincitiesherbs.com

Sources

Fluffy red currant meringue cake

This delicious German dessert quickly became a favorite in my family. The tasty base is topped with the delicate meringue and the red currants. Red currants are available right now. They are bursting with sweetness and acidity and are perfect in sweets in the summer. Of course, you can add as much sugar as you like or as little as you like … that is the beauty of making your own cake. Please feel free to experiement.

RECIPE

Ingredients

base

  • 2 cups (30dkg) flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 sticks (25 dkg) butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4- 1 cup of sugar (I used 1/2 cup)
  • 5 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup of almond flour, optional
  • pinch of salt

topping

  • 2 1/4 cups of red currants without stems
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/4-1 cup of sugar ( I used 1/4 cup)
  • handfull of breadcrubs
  • pinch of salt

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Add baking soda and vanilla to the flour. Cut the butter into the flour.
  • Add the yolks one by one. Mix well.
  • Add the almond flour, mix.
  • Butter a deep baking dish. I used a 9″ round deep dish (2 1/2″ deep). Sprinkle some flour on the bottom.
  • Spread the dough evenly on the bottom of the form.
  • Let it rest for 1 hour if you can.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Turn the oven down to 340 F.
  • Beat the egg whites untill hard. Mix in the sugar, and the salt. Gently mix in the currants and the breadcrubs.
  • Pour on top of the baked cake base.
  • Bake for 15 more minutes ar 340F and then turn heat down to 300F. Bake for 15 more minutes.
  • Let the cake sit for a few hours before serving.
  • Decorate the top with fresh currants, optional.
  • Serve at room temperature maybe with a little vanilla ice cream.

enjoy!

Text, recipe and photo by twincitiesherbs.com.

Kohlrabi salad with cheese and thyme

Kohlrabi has such an interesting flavor but I have never thought of making a salad with it … until I found this recipe. The kohlrabi is drizzled with some olive oil and lemon juice and is paired with the savory cheese and thyme and voila! … a delicious salad is made!

If you like kohlrabi, you might be intetested in my kohlrabi soup recipe. Please click here.

RECIPE

Serves 2 people

Ingredients

  • 1 kohlrabi (green, purple or white)
  • handfull of hard goats’ cheese or sheeps’ cheese or any stronger flavored hard cheese
  • juice of 1/2-1 lemon
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • a few springs of fresh thyme, chopped

Directions

  • Peel the kohlrabi. Shave it on a grader.
  • Shave the cheese on the grader as well. I like to crumple some of the cheese to cover the kohlrabi and put some shaved pieces on the top. The amount is something like a handfull.
  • Pour on the lemon juice and drizzle on some olive oil.
  • Add salt and freshly graded black pepper corn.
  • Add the chopped thyme.
  • Mix and serve.

enjoy!

SOURCE

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/25505546/posts/18306

Text and photo by twincitiesherbs.com.

Hungarian summer bean soup with dill

I love summer. It looks like there are so many vegetables finally ready to eat. I enjoy rhubarb too but there was not much else here in the Midwest for quite a while and now all of the sudden we have so many more to choose from. So ended up picking yellow beans for this week.

I’m presenting a simple Hungarian yellow bean soup recipe that many Hungarians know how to make but I added my litte twist to it. I like reading about foods and experiementing with them. So I was reading that Hungarian cuisine was a little bit different when Hungarians lived in their oiginal place in Asia. Over the years they lost some of the ingredients and picked up new ones. So I had the idea why not add chickpeas and curry to this bean soup. Who knows maybe our ancestors made the soup like this back wherever they came from ?!?

The sweet yellow bean is nutritious and is high in fiber but really is not the most exciting vegetable. The real flavor IMO comes from the seasoning especially from the dill. Dill is a unique sweet plant that gives the zesty, tangy flavor with slightly bitter undertones. It helps digestion and calms the mind. Also, adding the sour cream or yoghurt is a must at the end … and then you get a pleasant sweet and sour soup.

As I have mentioned I added chickpeas to the dish. If you look at a chickpea, you can see it resembles the heart and is considered to be beneficial for the heart. It is a good source of iron and unsaturated fats.

I often make this soup into more of an entree by adding an egg or other protein, it is very filling this way for sure. I just put the soup in a jar and take it with me in the summer. It is an instant lunch on the go for me. Oh yes and I get the stares from Hungarians … what is that dish?!? … lol.

RECIPE

Serves 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of yellow beans
  • 1 cup of dried chickpeas or canned (18oz)
  • oil (vegetable, lard)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 chopped large tomato
  • vegetable or meat stock (I used pea shells)
  • 3 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, optional
  • 1-3 bay leaves
  • 1 yellow pepper or its left-over’seed house’, optional
  • handfull of dill, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp of white vinigar
  • 1 cup of dried or 1 can of chickpeas
  • salt and black pepper
  • red pepper to taste
  • sour cream or yoghurt to garnish

Directions

  • Clean and soak the chickpeas overnight or for at least 8 hours. Remove the soaking liquid and cook in fresh cold water for 3 hours. A pressure cooker would greatly reduce the cooking time. (Omit if using canned chickpeas).
  • Making the soup base: Saute the onion in some oil until translucent. Add garlic, paprika and curry powder, mix and after 1 minute add the chopped tomato. Mix and cook for about 5-10 mintes or until tomato has cooked into a sauce.
  • Wash the yellow beans. Cut the ends off on both sides and discard. Cut them up into 1 inch pieces. Clean and cut the carrots. Oh and I almost forgot I like to put in zucchini too. So wash and cut zucchini into about 1 inch pieces.
  • Add the cut up yellow beans, carrot slices, bay leaves, zucchini and the stock. I like to add a yellow pepper for flavoring or at least its ‘left-over’seed house. Cook for about 30-45 minutes or until the beans are soft. Remove the pepper/pepper sedds and bay leaves.
  • Add the cooked or canned chickpeas with its liquid and the white vinigar.
  • Salt and pepper to taste. Add the red chili pepper if desired.
  • Serve hot with chopped dill and sour cream/yoghurt.

enjoy!

Recipe, text and photos by twincitiesherbs.com

Blueberry lemonade with basil

Are you looking for something more interesting than a simple lemonade? Check out this fabulous drink with its unexpected twist … the sweet berries and the refreshing lemons are mixed with fragrant basil … ahhh just the perfect drink for the summer…

Last summer, when we were on vacation, I ventured into getting a drink called blueberry lemonade with basil. I had never heard of this drink before but it sounded interesting so I ended up ordering it … and it was a pleasant surprise, something I had never had before. So I tried to recreate it at home and here is what I came up with.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • juice and the peel/rind of 1 fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup of fresh blueberries, frozen is fine (blackberries or raspberries would work too)
  • handful of torn fresh basil leaves
  • 1-3 tablespoons granulated sugar or honey (depending on your taste)
  • 3 cups of water, I used carbonated water
  • Ice for serving (0ptional)

Directions

  • In a pitcher, combine all the ingredients together ex the ice and lemon slices for serving.
  • Let it stand overnight or at least for a few hours in the refrigerator.
  • Strain off the large pieces.
  • If you wish, serve with fresh basil leaves, blueberries, lemon slices and ice.

enjoy!

Photo, text and recipe by twincitiesherbs.com

Zucchini frittata with basil (frittata di zucchine)

We just celebrated the Summer Solstice so summer is definitely here. Zucchini is one of the first summer vegetables that appears at the farmers’ market. Fritatta is a popular Italian dish and also is my favorite way to prepare zucchini. Italians often make it for ‘lunch on the go’ because it tastes good as it is … it does not have to be reheated and is an interesting and unique dish. If you have eggs, cheese, onions, zucchini and olive oil you can make zucchini frittata. The secret is in the preparation.

So let’s look at those secrets … no worries it is not a difficult dish to make. The main secret is to cook it slowly. It is kind of a ‘slow food’ meaning that it is cooked slowly on low heat starting in cold olive oil. This was rather a hard concept for me at first because I always heat the oil before I put onions in a pot … but once you taste the dish, you will understand. Also, it prevents the olive oil from burning- I’m guessing. Another secret is to not dry it out so basically don’t over-cook the eggs. And that is about it other than the usual, use good ingredients.

The recipe is from Marcella Hazan’s cookbook Essentials of Clasic Italian Cooking.

So let’s look at why we should incorpoate zucchini in our summer diet. The watery zucchini is cooling and refreshing and is great to overcome the summer heat. It has a tender texture with a slightly sweet flavor and pairs nice with something a little more robust like eggs and cheese. It is also packed with nutients and is rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin B and C.

Oh and I can’t forget about the basil, the other main ingredient. It is in the mint family along with the other remarkable Mediterreanian herbs like oregano, mint, rosemary. It is not an accident that Mediterreanian chefs use basil on a regular basis. The aromatic basil is used in cooking for making food taste better and has numerous health benefits. For more information on basil, please check out this article.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup of cold pressed olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion (1 cup), finally chopped
  • bacon (optional)
  • 2-3 medium sized zucchini
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • a handfull of fresh basil leaves
  • 2/3 cup of freshly graded Parmesan cheese
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp of butter

Directions

Put half of the cold oil, and the onion in a large pan. Turn heat onto low heat, (not simmer) and cover. Cook until the onion wilts and becomes greatly diminished in bulk for about 20-30 minutes. Then uncover and continue cooking until the onion gets a nice golden brown color. I turn the heat a notch up here. This is going to be a lengthy process but it is an importamt part of the dish.

Meanwhile, prepare the zucchini. Soak them in cold water for 20 minutes to loosen the dirt. Scrub and wash off any dirt. Cut off both ends. Slice them thin.

When the onion is nice and golden brown, add salt and the sliced zucchini. You can put the sliced bacon in here if you plan on using it. Turn heat up to medium high and cook them until they are softened and have a light nut brown color. Stir frequently.

Making the fritatta. Melt the butter gently, add the whisked eggs with the torn-up basil, freshly ground black pepper and the cheese. Cook carefully until the eggs have set and thickened and the bottom has a light brown color (not burnt) and only the top is runny. Turn the broiler on. I use the low broiler for 3 minutes.

I served it with pesto and tomato salad.

Serve warm.

enjoy!

Source

Photo, text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Summer sugar cookies with lemon icing

These cookies are made to honor the Summer Solctice. Summer Solstice is the celebration of the longest day of the year, really the celebration of the Sun. It is a ceremony done especially in places that have long days of darkness and cold. It is surely a huge event in the Northern European countries but you can enjoy it in your own backyard wherever you live. Gather some edible flowers and make these delicious cookies to celebrate this beatiful time of the year!

The recipe is from the following source.

IMPORTANT! You can use any flowers that your heart desires just make sure they are edible. Many of the flowers sold in stores are cultivated versions of wild plants and might not be suitable for eating but even in the wild, not every plant is edible. Of course, do not pick from areas that have been sprayed. If you don’t have edible flowers, no worries. You can still make the cookies with the icing and just use the flowers for decorations on the side.

Having said this here is a list of flowers that might be helpful for deciding which ones to use: calendula, chamomile, clovers, native echinacea, wild iris, wild daisies, dandelions, lavender, wild roses, St John’s wort, rosemary, thyme, sage. I ended up using flowers that are growing in my garden right now. These were petals of chamomile, calendula, clovers, lavender and leaves of rosemary.

These are tasty sugar cookies and the icing works well with the cookies as well … it will harden in about an hour or so after you put it on. Also, the icing recipe uses some milk. I don’t think the milk is a big issue if you have the cookies out for a couple of hours but they should be refrigerated otherwise for storage. Of course, you can make these cookies without the flowers for a fun summer dessert, too.

RECIPE

Ingredients

Cookies:

  • 1 & 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (12 Tbsp) softened butter at room temperature
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup brown or cane sugar
  • 1-3 teaspoon minced organic thyme
  • 1-3 teaspoon minced organic lavender buds
  • 1-3 teaspoon minced organic rosemary
  • 1-3 teaspoon minced organic sage
  • a few crushed cardamom seeds
  • pinch of salt
  • edible flowers (please see note above)

Icing:

  • 3 teaspoons milk
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • grated rind of 1 lemon. ( I also added lavender buds to the second batch of icing)
  • For colouring, I used store-bought natural food yellow dye or you can use turmeric or St John’s wort tinture too.
  • Combine your milk and icing sugar. Slowly add in your colouring and mix until you find the desired colour/consistency.

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 300 F for 20 minutes before you start baking.
  • Beat flour, sugar, herbs (levendar, thyme, sage, rosemary, crushed cardamom seeds) and soft butter together until creamy. I did it by hand easily but you can use a food processor.
  • Slowly drizzle in honey while beating until mixture pulls together. I did this part by hand, it was very easy. The dough should make a ball.
  • Divide into four smaller balls and chill for an hour or so.
  • Roll out on a floured surface and cut into round shapes. Add flour as needed.
  • Bake at 300 for 10-15 minutes. I baked the cookies for 12 minutes until the bottoms were nice and golden brown. The cookies will harden after you take them out.
  • Let cool.
  • Spread a small amount of the icing (recipe above) on the top of the cookies evenly. Do them in batches of 10 as the icing can harden.
  • Decorate using the flowers and herbs of the sun: Please note above on how to choose flowers.
  • Refrigerate for storing.

enjoy!

Source

https://gathervictoria.com/tag/summer-solstice-magic/

Text and photos 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 or 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 or 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.