(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.

 

 

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Oven Roasted Aubergines & Courgettes with spiced Chickpeas

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I was inspired by Spanish tapas we had recently. This is very simple dish and it doesn’t take long to cook. You can have it as tapas or serve it alongside a grilled/roast meat, or have it as a main dish (like we did). There are various way to finish it: drizzle it with a bit of honey and chilli, with a dollop of natural yogurt, lemon zest  and chopped mint or we opted for soured cream and harissa paste.

ROASTED AUBERGINES & COURGETTES WITH SPICED CHICKPEAS

Ingredients:

(Serves 2)

1 big aubergine

2 medium courgettes

1 tin/400g  chickpeas

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon clear honey

Salt & pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil

To serve:

few dollops yogurt or soured cream

2 teaspoons harissa paste

chopped spring onion or parsley

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190C. Cut the aubergines and courgettes into roughly chunks. Put into a large roasting dish, trickle over the olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Toss well and roast for about 30-40 minutes or until ready.

2. Meanwhile, on a large dry pan, toast all the spices/seeds until heated through and start to ‘jump’ on a pan, then crush them all, using a pestle and mortar or spice grinder and mix together with the garlic, paprika, tomato paste and honey, returning back to the pan at the end. Warm gently for 1-2 minutes and add the chickpeas in it, continue simmering all together until everything is warmed through, adjust the seasoning.

3. When aubergines and courgettes are ready, assemble them on a plate with the chickpeas, spooning over yogurt or soured cream mixed with harissa paste. Sprinkle with spring onion or parsley, whatever you prefer.

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Tomato Tart

Hi Guys, sorry for my absence, – things got a bit hectic recently. Also, we had our dear friends from Italy staying over for a while, so were busy entertaining. Italian inspired, here is the Tomato & Mozzarella Tart for you. This is very simple yet extremely tasty tart made with rich shortcrust pastry, topped with slice of mozzarella cheese and tomatoes, and enriched with olive oil and basil leaves.

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TOMATO AND MOZZARELLA TART

Ingredients:

150 g mazzarella (sliced)

4 large tomatoes (sliced)

2 tablespoon good quality olive oil

2 garlic cloves (thinly sliced)

basil leaves

salt & pepper

For the pastry:

115 g plain flour

50 g butter or margarine

1 egg yolk

salt

Method:

1. To prepare the pastry, mix together the flour and salt, then rub in the butter and the egg yolk. Use a splash of cold water to make the dough to come together, kneading lightly on a floured surface. Wrap in a clining film and chill in a fridge for about 1 hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 200C. remove the pastry fro the fridge and allow about 10 minutes for it to return to room temperature. Roll out into 20 cm round. Press into the base of a 20 cm flan dish or tin. Prick all over with the fork and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes until firm but not too brown. Allow to cool slightly. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C.

3. Arrange the mozzarella slices over the pastry base, then spread the basil leaves. On top, arrange a single layer of the sliced tomatoes, overlapping them slightly. (I found if I place ingredients in this order, basil releases much more flavour).

4. Scatter the garlic on top, drizzle with the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the tomatoes are well cooked. Serve hot.

Easter treats


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Easter break is a good excuse to indulge yourself on some of your favourite (or new) treats. In our family dining over Easter is always pretty much a freestyle. This time I chose not to cook a sit-down meal but have a buffet type lunch instead. I made Smoked Salmon Terrine, Pickled Herring and Egg salad, continued with Courgette and Chick Pea Filo Pie and a variation of my Speedy Salad, with other small bits and pieces. I promise to post the recipes of those later on, but for now I’m going to share our baked goods with you.

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My Boyfriend’s Mum came to us today with these delicious savoury muffins and she was glad to share this recipe with me.

Here is goes:

LEEK, CHEESE & BACON MUFFINS

Ingredients:

1 leek, trimmed

100 g melted butter

4 rashes bacon, chopped

300 g self-raising flour

1 level teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

1/4 teaspoon chilli or cayenne pepper

2 eggs

175 ml milk

150 g extra mature Cheddar, grated

salt

 

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C, lightly grease 12 holes of a muffin tray.

2. Trim & cut the leek finely. Cook it in 1 tablespoon of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, for about 5 min, or until softened. Set aside.

3. Add the bacon to the pan and cook until the fat starts to crisp. Add to the leeks.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder, mustard powder, pepper and salt into a large mixing bowl.

5. Lightly beat the eggs, milk and the rest of the melted butter together. Stir into the leeks and bacon. Add the grated cheese, then the flour mixture, all in one go.Stir until evenly mixed together but don’t over mix, otherwise muffins will be tough.

6. Divide the mixture between the muffin tins and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until golden.

 

And here is the recipe for a fabulously easy cake which is very moist, has a velvety texture, full of flavour and you can easily adopt it for any occasion.

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ANY OCCASION CHOCOLATE CAKE

One of the main ingredient of this cake is soured cream, it makes cake moist and gives a nice flavour to the icing

Ingredients

For the cake:

200 g plain flour

200 g caster sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

200 g butter

40g cocoa

150 ml soured cream

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla or orange extract

Plus: 2x20cm sandwich tins, buttered and lined

 

Fo the icing:

160 g good quality chocolate

75 g butter

125 ml soured cream

1 tablespoon golden syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla or orange extract

50 g icing sugar (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a large bowl. Then, using electric mixer, add the butter. In a separate bowl whisk together cocoa, soured cream, eggs, vanilla or orange extract and slowly add this cocoa mixture to the flour and butter mix, beating until throughly mixed.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared tins and bake for 30 minutes, until it bakes through. Leave for 10 minutes in their tins, then turn out to cool.

4. To make the icing, melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave (no more then 30 seconds in one go, stir and if it’s not melted, put again for another 30 seconds), or in a bowl over hot water. Let cool a little, then stir in the soured cream, vanilla extract and syrup. If you use dark chocolate and prefer cake to be quite sweet then at this point you can add the icing sugar (personally I use dark chocolate and don’t put any sugar in the icing at all and I found that cake is sweet enough for as is, specially I definitely won’t put additional sugar if I plan to serve cake with ice cream).

5. Spread the icing onto both layers and use the rest of the icing to cover the top and sides.

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Have a great Easter! x