This delicious dish uses this forgotten vegetable, celeriac. The sweet and bitter celeriac is the perfect vegetable to eat as we enter the colder months. It can also nicely offset the heavier dishes that we eat during the holidays. The celeriac along with the potatoes are cooked in a stock and are infused with thyme and bay leaves. Serve with cream and some croutons or hazelnuts on the top. Enjoy!
1 medium onion
2 large garlic cloves
1 tsp dried or 2 tsp fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 lbs celeriac, peeled and cut into 1/2 ” chunks
1/2 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ chunks
1 slice of bacon, cut into small pieces (optional)
4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock or more
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup hazelnuts or croutons
crushed red hot pepper to taste
Cook bacon on medium high heat, in a little for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Sautee onion in a little oil for about 5-10 minutes, stir often. Gently fry the garlic for a short time, do not burn. Add the thyme, bay leaf, celery, the potato chunks, bacon pieces and the stock. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium low heat. Cook for about 40 minutes or until all the vegetables are nice and tender.
Remove the bay leaf and let the soup cool off to room temperature. Pour in the cream. Puree the soup. You can use an immersion blender or a regular blender.
Return the soup to the pot and start warming it up. Add salt, pepper and red hot pepper.
Serve with croutons or hazelnuts and parsley.
If using hazelnuts, heat up a pan and lightly roast the hazelnuts for 6-8 minutes. Make sure they are toasted on all sides. Chop the cool hazelnuts.
Winter is not over yet, in fact we are still in the middle of it. To be a little more exact, we are half way between winter and spring on the northern hemosphere. I can usually feel the Earth’s energy starting to wake up but spring is not here yet. We can finally experience the promise of the light, fertility and growth.
Come celebrate this Winter Magic! In accordance to Pagan traditions, this occasion has been celebrated for thousands of years by Europeans. One special food they make is the honey cookies. So yes this celebration is similar to Valentine’s day. The cookies were gifted as a fertility token to girls by boys or given as good luck charm to little children. Heart was always a popular shape but sun or animal themes were often used as well.
There is so much folklore, legend and history behind these lovely spiced cookies! They are made to honor the old, wise women in their culture. In Ireland they call her Brighid, in Russia they are called Baba Yaga. These women are the Earth’s Godesses. The cookies are not just beautiful but are packed with nourishing ingredients that grandma would use.
This is still the time to stay focused inward and get ready mentally for the year to come. Clean and clear the space you live in and invite love or universal love into your life. Set your intentions. Do things that your heart desires.
Another spectrum of love is hatred, anger and jealousy. When you invite love into your life, you might experience these feelings too. Don’t be affraid of them just acknowledge them. These emotions can be found in the Grimm story of Hansel and Gratel.
Traditionally, honey, rye flour and forest herbs were used to make these delicious cookies. Honey, the main ingredient has been used as medicine since ancient times. It is well known for its nutritious value and supposedly sweetens life as well. Oh and it is aphrodisiac! In addition to honey, our ancestors prepared the dough with rye flour but today people tend to use white flour. They also put foraged herbs and dried fruits in the cookies. Of course, these ingredients varied from country to country and region to region but often included fennel, lavender, rose petals, juniper berries, sumac etc. Since the exotic spices arrived from the East, people have been baking the cookies with these spices. These included a mixture of ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg etc.
I have always loved French onion soup. It is made with of course lots of onions … and these charamelized onions give the soup its rich color and flavor. But there is a little more to it than just throwing all the ingredients together … follow this recipe and you can make a perfect onion soup. Oh and when you serve it, play some nice French music with it. Last time I ate French onion soup, we were at the restaurant called Naniboujou by Grand Marais, Minnesota after canuing in the Boundary Waters and they happened to play the Cd from the movie Amolié… ah total bliss…
Today, we often see this soup in fancy restaurants; however, it traditionally started out as a peasant food made with the simple ingredients: onions, beef broth and cheese. It is the perfect soup for the winter. The secret is in the preparation. It takes a long time to slowly charamelize those onions but it is so worth it! You get this wonderfully savory flavor with a little hint of sweetness. Oh and of course the ingredients. Your soup will be as good as the ingredients you use. I prefer making the beef stock at home and let’s not forget the cheese! Try to get the best cheese you can buy! I like using gruyere cheese, but you can try other rich flavored cheese as well.
Serves 8 people
6 larger onions (1kg) onions
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup white wine
3 Tbsp brandy or cognac
2 Qt beef stock
few fresh thyme springs
toasted sliced French bread (about 2 slices per serving)
cheese (1/4 cup per serving)
Peel the onions, cut them in halves (Make sure you remove the first 2 tougher layers of the onions). Cut them into very thin slices.
In a large pot melt the butter. Add the onions and the sugar, stir. Cook on medium high heat for about 15 minutes until onions are translucent. Stir occationally.
Turn heat down a notch and continue cooking the onions for 40-45 more minutes or until they are nice and brown but not burnt. Stir occationally. Do not cover the pot.
Stir in the flour and mix. Let it cook for 5 minutes.
Add the wine and the brandy. Mix. Cook for 3 mintes. Don’t skip this step, it gives that interesting bite to the soup.
Add the stock, bayleaves and thyme springs and cook for 25-30 minutes partially covered.
When ready, salt and pepper to taste.
You can serve the soup in individual bowls if you wish. Add the toasted bread and 1/4 cup of cheese per bowl on top. Broil on high for 5 minutes. Or you can serve the soup in a big pot and just let people serve themselves.
Serve immediately maybe with some French wine. I used Famille Bogrier Vouvre Chenin Blanc white wine, a very lovely wine from France.
Hope you all had a very lovely Christmas and were able to indulge in as many Christmas dishes as you could … but now many of us tend to gravitate towards lighter yet nourishing foods. In general, to tune in with the seasons, winter is more about dormancy and resting, giving our body a break especially after all the feasting and partying of Christmas.
Sauerkraut Mushroom soup is a hugely popular winter dish in Russia that will nourish your body and soul. It is special for the Russian Orthodox Christans because this is what they serve during the long fast from the end of November until January 7th. In accordance with the strict rules no meat, bacon, animal fat, butter, eggs or milk may be eaten during this time period. This tradition was particularly hard for the farmers who had to work outside and needed heavier foods to survive. The cooks had to be creative and came up with this delicious, hearty soup … that today would fit the vegan definition.
This is a lovely soup that has three simple main ingredients: sauerkraut, mushrooms and the barley. Mushrooms are a nice substitution for meat so use as much as you desire. In Eastern Europe, it is customary in the fall to go out in the woods and pick mushrooms. People then dry them to use during the cold months. If you don’t have access to wild mushrooms, buy stronger flavored mushrooms like morrel, oyster, shitaki or even crimini mushrooms could work. The sauerkraut of course gives it the nice sour flavor and has immense health benefits. The crunchy barley adds the robust part to the soup.
PLEASE READ !!! I use cep mushrooms but if you don’t know how to find edible mushrooms in the wild, definitely go to the stores and purchase them there. Mushrooms are very valuable but there can be some poisonous ones. Stores sell some fine mushrooms that are dried and are worth using. Just soak them in water and then they are ready to be used. Last time I used shitaki mushrooms and I thoght was a nice substitution.
The soup will need a good home-made stock. Both a meat based or a vegetable based stock would work great. You can use beef bones but the vegatarian version is great too. For the vegetarian stock I added onions, garlic, 2 bay leaf, 1 heaping Tbsp black peppercorn, handfull of mushrooms, 1 celery root, couple of carrots and parsley root. Honestly, we could not taste much difference. Don’t forget to put celery root in the stock it surely adds something special to the flavor.
1 lb sourkraut
80 gr (3oz) dried mushrooms or about 6 oz fresh mushrooms (Please see above for more info on safety).
1 cup dry pearled barley
1-2 qt (1-2L) of vegetable or beef stock (please see above)
3 bay leaves
1 tsp caraway seeds
few thyme springs
shallots or small onion
2 cloves of garlic
If using dried mushrooms, soak in water for a couple hours or maybe even overnight if needed.
Make the stock. Please see above for more info.
Make the barley. Boil 3 cups of water and put barley in the boiling water. Turn down and let cook for 1 hour without cover.
In a medium saucepan, sautee the shallots in a little oil for a few minutes.
Add the garlic on low heat. Mix.
Add drained sauerkraut, thyme spring, caraway seeds, bay leaves. Cover with stock. Cook for 1 hour.
For the last 10 minutes, add the mushrooms slices.
Winter has finally arrived in the Midwest of the United State … and it looks like it is here to stay after all the crazyness of this year. We had snow in September and in October … and had 80 degree weather inbetween. I am definitely ready!
December brings forth Winter Wonderland and the Holidays. When I think of Christmas dishes, warming and festive winter foods come to my mind. For me Christmas is a lot about cooking and baking … and of course music. I’m already looking forward to all the baking and cooking I will be doing and singing along my favorite Christmas music…
Please read my previous blogs from last year on winter eating and tasty dishes and desserts.
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.
Makes about 10 slices
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)
1 cup milk
3 egg yolk (saved from earlier step)
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla
12 oz baking chocolate (I used semi-sweet)
1/2 cup heavy cream
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.
I like challenges … well ok sometimes it is a bit uncomfortable … but then I end up with something delicious like the dish I’m presenting here today.
The savory stuffing made with cabbage, mushrooms and lentils is wrapped in a flakey strudel dough and is seasoned with the warming spices of the season. To make it even more festive, serve it with port sauce and brussel sprouts with chestnuts.
I was looking for a vegetarian Christmas dish… seriously, traditionally would there be such a thing? … I have seen mushroom strudel served in the winter before but did not find it filling enough as a main dish. Then came the idea … maybe because I was craving cabbage strudel the whole fall … to make the strudel with half mushrooms and half cabbage … then added the lentils and the cheese in place of the meat and a few spices and … this festive dish was born. Cabbage is a staple vegetable for the winter and has been traditionally paired with mushrooms. My non-vegetarian guests really enjoyed a slice with their meat dish. Of course, the vegetarians were asking for seconds.
5-7 sheets of filo dough
1/4 cup chopped shallots
4-8 oz mushrooms (crimini) (chopped into small pieces)
2-4 oz of savoy cabbage (I prefer savoy but green cabbage is fine)
1 celery stalk
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp paprika
1/4 cup uncooked lentils (1/2 cup of cooked lentils)
Take filo dough out of the freezer. Let it thaw slowly.
Clean and soak the lentils for a few hours. Cook lentils.
Chop up the shallots and the celery and sauté them in some oil for 5- 10 minutes. Set aside.
Chop up and sauté the mushrooms in some oil for 10 more minutes or until the mushrooms are tender. Add to previous mixture.
Start slicing the cabbage up and cut them up into small pieces. Discard the lager veins of the cabbage so you are left with the tender leaves only. Sautee the cabbage leaves for about 10 minutes. Add paprika and the garlic to activate for 1 minute, stir and add the cold stock. Add chopped thyme leaves, nutmeg and chopped rosemary leaves. Cook the mixture for about 10 minutes on low heat. Add to the onion mixture from earlier.
Chop up the nuts. I leave the hazelnuts chunkier. The walnuts are coarsely chopped. A small food processor can be used. Add to previous onion mixture.
In a medium sized bowl, add 1 lightly beaten egg, mustard, the nuts, the cooked lentils, mushroom/ cabbage mixture from above, cheese, salt and pepper. Mix well.
Let the stuffing cool, refrigerate for about 1 hour.
Take 7 sheets of filo dough and set it on a wooden board. I like to put a piece of parchment paper below the filo dough, it is helpful for rolling. Drizzle some oil and grade some nutmeg. Spread the filling evenly on the sheet leaving 1 inch on each side empty. Roll it up. Placed it in an oiled baking dish.
Lightly beat 1 egg, add some freshly graded nutmeg and salt. Spread it on top of the rolled strudel. Wait for 5-10 minutes until egg wash is absorbed. Apply the egg-wash again. The 1 egg should cover the strudel both times. You can sprinkle additional salt and nutmeg on the top. This will make the crust really tasty.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes or until top is nice and brown.
Put left-over filo dough if there is any left in the fridge gently wrapped up in plastic bags so the leaves don’t dry out.
Serve hot with the port sauce (see below) and brussel sprouts with chestnuts. I also like to add cranberry sauce (recipe).
Directions for the port sauce
In a small pot, sautee the shallots in some oil or butter. Add the flour for 1 min, stir. Add the garlic, stir for 30 seconds.
Add the wine and stock. Stir.
Add the thyme and rosemary springs. Cover the pot.
Cook for about 20 minutes.
Take out the bay leaves, thyme and rosemary springs.
Take off the heat, add the cream, salt and pepper.
Serve right away. Can be stored in the fridge for many days.
Here is an old time favorite of mine … It was getting colder here so I thought it would be time to prepare for the winter. I enjoy eating garlic during the colder months, it is very healthy but I can live without that harsh taste. Pickling the garlic keeps all its health benefits but the garlic loses its strong taste. So this week, I would like to post a recipe for pickling garlic, the Chinese way. It is so easy to make and it is so delicious … but yes it will take 12 weeks to make…
In the recipe, proportions are given. The amount will depend on how much garlic you use. I used 4 heads of garlic. You can figure out the liquids after you put the garlic in the jar. Add the peeled garlic, enough to fill about 3/4 of the jar. Mix the 2 liquids, about half the soy sauce and half the rice vinegar and pour over the garlic. Make sure the liquid covers the garlic.
You will also need a jar. I like to use a wide mouth jar so I can take the garlic out easily. Also, I sterilize the jar before putting anything in it.
Jar of garlic, peeled
1/2 part soy sauce
1/2 part rice vinegar
1/2 part honey
Please see above for directions.
Peel the garlic. When you peel the garlic, make sure you do it gently and not cut the garlic. If you do, not a big deal, just the cloves will be a little unappealing but still edible.
Fill the jar 3/4 full with the peeled garlic.
Pour the vinegar/soy sauce mixture over the garlic and let it macarate for 6 weeks. Make sure the garlic is well covered with the liquid.
Then after 6 weeks remove the vinegar/soy sauce mixture and discard half of it. Replace it with honey. Pour this liquid back in the jar. You can gently warm up the honey so it can be mixed with the macerate.
Wait for six more weeks and then the pickled garlic is ready.
This delicious dish is very easy to make. I probably should have called it the bachelor/bachelorette sauerkraut dish … but it is not just for the bachelors/bachelorettes, it is the perfect dish whenever you want to make something quick but tasty and healthy. Of course, you can never go wrong with sauerkraut, it is so healthy.
It is a super easy recipe but I would like to note a few things. The onion has to be finally chopped and the dish needs to be cooked well otherwise it will have a raw taste.
There are two types of sauerkraut. One is preserved with vinegar and the other is processed with salt. I prefer the salted version as it is less acidic and is better for health. This version acts as a probiotic and supports gut health and digestive functions. Of course, the vinegar version would be fine to use, too.
Serves 6-8 people
1 onion, finally chopped
oil (sunflower, lard)
4 large slices of bacon, chopped into small pieces
1 tsp sweet paprika powder
1 cup of cold meat stock
1 apple, cored, peeled and chopped
1 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp mustard
2 lbs of sauerkraut, well rinsed
red chili pepper (optional)
1 lb of kielbasa or sausage
sour cream to serve
rice or potatoes to serve
salt and pepper to taste
Chop the onions making sure they are finally chopped. Also chop the bacon. Sauté onions and bacon in some oil for about 10 minutes on medium high heat. Sauté the apple pieces for a few minutes.
Add the paprika, stir for 1 minute to activate and add the cold stock, stir.
Rinse sauerkraut well with water.
Add the sauerkraut, stir. Continue adding, the mustard, red chili pepper (optional) and caraway seeds. You can add the meat too. If the meat is already cooked, you do not have to add it at this point. Although I personally like it if any meat is cooked in the dish regardless whether it is precooked or not. If you don’t include it at this step, just add it at the end.
Cook for 45-60 minutes until the sauerkraut is well cooked.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with sour cream and your choice of bread, potatoes or rice.
In the summer when we were hiking in the Julian Alps in Slovenia, we found a quaint little restaurant that served simple and very tasty dishes. When we went hiking, we treated ourselves to a delicious lunch every time. Here, I found this interesting soup with sauerkraut, potatoes and beans.
Jota, the Slovenian soup with sauerkraut, potatoes and beans is just a simple dish that can warm your body and soul on a cold winter night or a cool, rainy day in the mountains in the summer.
1 large onion, diced
2 strips of bacon
8oz smoked pork products of your choice (ribs are great)
2 cloves of garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp of sweet paprika powder (optional)
1 tsp caraway seeds, 2 bay leaves, 1 Tbsp black peppercorns (optional)
2 cups of uncooked kidney beans or 30 oz canned kidney beans
1 fresh tomatoes, diced or canned
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 pound potatoes (diced)
1 pound sauerkraut (drained and rinsed)
1 heaping Tbsp of flour
salt and pepper to taste
sausage or eggs, optional
Clean and soak the beans overnight or for at least 8 hours. Rinse soaking water off. Add fresh cold filtered water, bayleaves and cook the beans for 1.5 hour or until soft but not mushy. Set aside.
In a large pot, sauté onion and bacon for 10 minutes. Add paprika, stir and add garlic, stir. Add a tomatoes, tomatoe paste, stir and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse sauerkraut. Add potatoes, sauerkraut, caraway seeds, bay leaves, pork and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for at least 30 minutes or until potatoes and sauerkraut are very tender and the mixture is thick.
At the end, in a small bowl put 1 Tbsp of flour, mix it with some cooking liquid until smooth. Add into soup and cook for 5-10 minutes.
If you like your soup to have a thicker consistency, you can take out the potatoes and put them in a blender with some of the cooking liquid.
Add the cooked beans with some of its liquid and warm up the pot so the beans are warm. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with bread, sour cream, sausage.
This can be served right away but will taste better the next day or even just a few hours later.