(Cottage)Cheese Straws

As the title suggest, these are not your usual loaded with Cheddar cheese straws, these are a much lighter version, made with the Cottage Curd Cheese /Twarog

You can snack on them, serve instead of bread with soups and dips, or even with tea and coffee, if you don’t have a sweet tooth. They are very addictive though.

Also there is no limit to toppings. Traditionally, they are sprinkled with caraway or poppy seeds, but  you can sprinkle with whatever takes your fancy: paprika, linseeds, sesame seeds, curry powder, chopped nuts or as a sweet option with sugar and cinnamon.

COTTAGE CHEESE STRAWS

Ingredients:

250g twarog cheese (available at Tesco or other Polish supermarkets)
250g butter, at room temperature
350g plain flour
2 eggs  (1 — for a dough, 1 for the topping)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Options for topping:

Caraway seeds
poppy seeds
linseeds
paprika, etc.

Method:

  1. Beat the cheese with butter until smooth.
  2. Add the egg and sugar, beat again. Add the flour, salt and baking powder. Knead lightly until the dough comes together and is quite soft.
  3.  On floured surface roll out to a of 7-8 mm thick and cut into sticks with a width and a length of about a finger.
  4. Place the cut out strips on a baking sheet, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with caraway seeds, sesame seeds or anything else of your choice.
  5. Bake in a preheated to 180C oven about 13-15 minters or until the straws are tender and golden brown.

 

 

Mushroom paté/hummus

I’m still on the fence about what this is. Is it a pâté or is it a hummus? It’s smooth and blended, that’s what unites these two, but it lacks the hefty butter content or cream cheese usually in a pâté. On the other hand it has puy lentils, which can classify it as a hummus. Because of these factors, it is a light, healthy flavoursome blend, which can be spread, dipped in, or topped on salads. Enjoy!
Mushroom pâté

MUSHROOM PATÉ/HUMMUS

Ingredients:

250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, chopped

1 small carrot, grated

2 garlic clove, chopped

400g cooked green lentils (puy lentil)

handful of chopped walnuts

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme leaves (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in saucepan, add the onion, carrot, garlic and sauté 5-7 minutes until the onion becomes translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re soft and cooked through, another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove aside.
  2. Place the mushroom mixture along with the cooked lentils, nuts, lemon juice, soy sauce,thyme in the food processor or blender and pulse to the preferred (coarse or smooth) consistency. Season well with salt and pepper, or lemon juice.
  3. Scrape the mixture into a small serving bowl and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.

Mushroom pâté 2

Zucchini & Cheese Savoury Cake

This is something different from the usual sweet zucchini bread. Serve as an accompaniment to a main-dish soup or salad, or just on its own it’s delicious.

Don’t expect a high rise of the cake. Although it rises high in the oven, as soon as it comes out of it, it drops down. It is normal because the ingredients are heavy and moist, however, it doesn’t make cake soggy.

Recipe came from here.

I only changed the title, as in my mind, bread would always have some sort of yeast component. Also, original recipe asks to cut the cheese in cubes, but I prefer to grate it.

Savoury Zucchini Cake

IMG_6925

 

Chicken Liver Paté

Here’s an idea to add to your recipe collection during the Christmas season if you want to impress when entertaining. Something you can make ahead as it only enhances the flavour. The red wine adds body to this spread and cuts through the richness of the liver.

Chicken Liver Pate with red wine

CHICKEN LIVER PATÉ WITH RED WINE

Ingredients:

350g chicken liver

115g butter

150ml red wine

5 springs of thyme, leaves stripped, plus extra for garnishing

salt & pepper to season

Method:

  1. Rinse the chicken livers and pat them dry with kitchen paper. Trim away any white sinew or greenish portions from the livers with small scissors, the cut each in half.
  2. Melt half the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat until it forms. Add the livers and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until browned.
  3. Add the thyme, wine to the pan. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat  and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until the liquid is reduced and the livers are just cooked through when sliced open.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, then tip the livers and sauce into a blender, and blend until smooth. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Spoon the paté into a serving bowl, pressing it down with the back of the spoon, then set aside.
  5. Melt the remaining butter over a medium heat, then pour it over a medium heat, then pour it over the top of the paté. Chill for at least 2 hours.
  6. Serve with rye bread or toasted french bread slices or cornichons, which are the traditional French accompaniment.

Chicken Liver Pate with red wine

 

Gazpacho

Apparently the ‘real’ Gazpacho has bread in it, but I prefer the ‘clean’ version with fresh bread or other bread things on the side. Easy to modify to suit your taste. Even better the next day!

Gaspacho

GAZPACHO

(Recipe adapted from Ina Garten)

Ingredients:
1 medium cucumber, halved and seeded
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 plum tomatoes
1 red onion

1 red chilly
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups tomato juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Method:

1. Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onion and chilli. Put all vegetables into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process it until the mixture appears creamy.

2. Transfer the mixture into large bowl or saucepan and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the tastier it gets. To garnish you can add finely chopped onion, tomato, cucumber or small croutons on top. I’ve just splash extra olive oil on top before serving. We had it with Empanadas on a side, the combination of flavours, cold and hot was wonderful!

Empanadas

IMG_4604

These stuffed little pastries are found across Spain, Portugal, South America, however, each region has its own version, and I can see why, because once you know the basic method, you can try different fillings. This time it’s more or less a classic one, with tuna.

EMPANADAS

Ingredients:

450g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

85g butter, diced

2 eggs, beaten, plus 1 for glazing

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, grated

120g  tomatoes, chopped

2 tablespoons tomato purée

140g can tuna, drained

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

salt & pepper

Method:

1. To make the pastry, place the flour in a large bowl with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until it resembles the breadcrumbs. Add the beaten eggs with 4-6 tablespoons of cold water, combine to form a dough. Cover with cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Heat the oil in a frying, add the onion and fry it over a medium heat, stirring often, for about 5-8 minutes, or until translucent. Add the carrot, tomatoes, tomato purée, continue to cook until carrot is soft. After add tuna, chopped parsley, season to taste, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.*

3. Preheat the oven to 190C. Roll out the pastry to a 3 mm thickness. Cut out 24 rounds with pastry cutter, or an upturned glass. Put 1 teaspoon of the filling on each round, then brush the edges with water, fold over and pinch together.

4. Place the empanadas on an oiled baking tray and brush with egg all over the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

* You can interpret the filling with whatever you have in the fridge-vegetable wise, and that’s the beauty of this bake. Be creative with a bit of chilli, some cumin, ginger, you decide. I have made these enough to advise though that if the filling is too wet, it will make the pastry hard to work with. If it is too wet, just pop it into a sieve and drain.

IMG_4549

Cheesy Christmas Trees

IMG_4518

As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, today is the day when a lot of people celebrate Orthodox Christmas. To commemorate the continuation of the festive period (for some people) or just an excuse for some fun, here is the fun starter I made a few times recently. It is so easy and quick to prepare and assemble, you can also vary it according to your taste.

CHEESY CHRISTMAS TREES

Ingredients:

For 10-12 trees:
10-12 crackers (any you prefer)
dill (approx 150-200g), finely chopped
150-200 g of cottage cheese (preferably this one)
6-8 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
salt and pepper
a handful of walnuts, finely chopped
a pinch of Italian herbs
1-2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
cranberries for decoration

Method:

1. Simply place all chopped ingredients in a bowl and mix it all up, using the fork or hand blender. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Mixture should be quite stiff to be able to roll a ball.

2. Then, with your hands form the curd mass 10-12 balls, then form each ball into a cone. Put the chopped dill on a flat plate. Roll each cone in chopped dill (try to keep the cone shape).

3. Arrange the crackers on a plate or board, plant one tree on each cracker,  as a tree topper use the fresh cranberry. Let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour (alternatively you can make it the day before, but if you do, hold back from putting it on the cracker until you actually serve, as the cracker will absorb all the moisture from the cheese). Serve as an appetiser or as a part of a cheese board.

IMG_4516