Thursday, October 6, 2011

Time for an update!

Oh-oh, I haven't updated my blog for ages now!

But I got so much to report on, now, that I finally have some time for this! Brace yourself for some juicy stuff here, readers!

Your comments will be highly appreciated! Please....

Friday, January 29, 2010

Yesterday tasted some Guyanese food: roti and shrimp curry with mango. This was so delicious! the best thing is it was home made and I got to see how to make roti. Next Sunday I am invited to a Guyanese cooking class!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mastering the Art of Acharian Khachapuri

I have been trying to master Acharian Khachapuri for couple of years now. This is an attempt 4 in the last 4 days.

For those who are not familiar with Acharian Khachapuri, it is a bread filled with cheese, with an egg.

What you see in the middle should resemble an egg, sunny side up. Well it does look similar, or? I must assure you it tasted very good. I am still mastering the visual part of it.

Acharian Khachapuri Attempt 4: not very attractive, but tastes somewhat close to original

Ispanakhis Pkhali [Spinach spread with Walnuts]

This is one of my most favorite appetizers in Georgian cuisine. The taste of spinach melts in the mouth, while the flavours of walnuts blended with spices makes an ideal complement.

(Ingredients are listed in order of appearance in the recipe.)

1 kg fresh spinach
1-2 tbsp water

Rinse spinach thoroughly and discard the stems. Wilt it on a low heat in a large pan with 1 tbsp of water for about 2 minutes, mixing the spinach couple of times and adding another tbsp pf water if needed. Drain and squeeze the spinach to remove excess water.

(Traditional cooking instructions require cooking in boiling water, but I prefer to wilt it with just one or two spoons of water to preserve vitamins and the taste of spinach. For best results, keep the pot covered for a minute).

Chop the spinach as fine as you can, or mince it in a food processor, being careful not to overpuree.

My grandma used to put the spinach through an old-fashined meat grinder, but I don't have a meat grinder here in New York. Besides cleaning the meat grinder afterward is quite an effort.

200g (a cup) of finely ground walnuts
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. fenugreek powder (ucxo suneli)
1/2 tsp. crushed coriander seeds (kidzi)
pinch of cayenne pepper (tsiteli tsitsaka)
1 tsp of ground marigold (zaprana)

(Some recipes ask for coriander only. It is up to you to decide. I prefer my version, of course :-) Now, if you, like me, leave outside of Georgia and do not have a 'russian' shop close by, you may not have fenugreek powder, or ground marigold readily available. In this case I recommend substituting fenugreek, coriander and marigold with more widely available, good quality curry powder. It does contain fenugreek leaves, coriander and turmeric: a mix that comes close to the traditional recipe requirements. And, honestly, if you won't tell others, noone will notice any difference. Use 2-3 teaspoons)

Ok, so take minced garlic, salt, marigold (=curry powder) and mix thoroughly. Add 1/3 of the ground walnuts and mix with a spoon until it looks oily (just 2-3 minutes). Add the remaining walnuts and mix again. Mixing small quantity of walnuts with spices before unfolds etherial oils and aromas in spices and blends them really well with walnuts.

2 tbsp of quality white wine vinegar
few tbsp water (preferably boiled)

Add vinegar to the mixture, mix well. You will need to add some water to dilute the mixture. It should be thick as a spread.

Mix the walnuts with spinach and stir until thoroughly blended and smooth.

3 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp finely chopped tarragon

Add finely chopped herbs and add salt if necessary. Cover, and let the pkhali rest an hour or two at room temperature, and refrigerate for at least an hour. It tastes best on the next day.

Fresh herbs add a lot of flavour to this dish, but you can also skip this part in winter, when herbs are not readily available in supermarkets.

pomegranate seeds for garnish

Your pkhali is done. But in Georgia, we like to compliment the sweet and creamy taste of it with pomegranate seeds. There is nothing more tasty than feeling mini explosions of sweet-sour pomegranate seeds with pkhali.

Serving suggestions:

Traditionally, we spread Pkhali on a small plate and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Fos standing arrangements, you may also try spreading pkhali on small pieces of baguette or rye bread.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Georgian Cuisine: LOBIO - Spicy Red Beans with Tomatoes and Fresh Herbs

This is one of my favorite recipies - my grandmother used to cook this dish very often in sommer when fresh herbs where available in abundance. This variation of lobio is more interesting than the standard read beans dish common in Georgia or in many other countries because of the addition of tomatoes, various spices, fresh herbs and walnuts. It is served cold or warm, with corn breads, which are usually crumbled or dipped into lobio.

500g red beans, pre-cooked (or a 500g can)
3 medium onions, chopped
4 medium tomatoes (700g)
2 tbsp of vinegar
3 tbsp each of chopped fresh coriander, basil, parsley, tarragon
a pinch of ground cloves
garlic - 3 cloves
¼ cup ground walnuts (optional)
sunflower oil
salt, cayenne pepper

In a large heavy-bottomed pot heat the sunflower oil. Sauté the chopped onion over a moderate heat until golden. Add kidney red beans with some boiled water. Simmer gently 5 minutes.

Add wine vinegar that was previously boiled with basil or tarragon for 2-3 minutes.

Make a cross with a sharp knife at the base of each tomato, just to split the skin. Plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for few seconds , or until the cross at the base starts to open up. Remove with a slotted spoon and peel off the skin, which should come away easily with a sharp knife. Cut tomatoes in four pieces. Remove seeds and finely chop the tomatoes. Simmer for another 3-4 minutes.

Add dry Khmeli Suneli mixture (or substitute it with dry coriander), chopped fresh coriander, basil, parsley and tarragon. Stir in crushed garlic.

If you're using walnuts, mix them with garlic, red cayenne pepper and salt and dry spices; dilute the mixture with little wine vinegar and add to the beans before adding fresh herbs. Season with salt and extra basil and coriander leaves. Serves 8

Who? What? When? Where? How? and Why?

fed up of looking for my favorite recipies on the web, in my notes lying everywhere...

will try to be disciplined enough to post them here, with all my notes and comments on cooking, variations and....

only slow food, and from all those wonderful places I come from, I went to, I tasted ...