Romanian article…

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This week, my Kitchen games post is a rather lazy one. I made an elaborate soup this very Friday, but the description of it’s process will be detailed in the next week’s post.

We have a saying in Romanian which goes something like this: “the eyes behold, the heart desires…”

I’ll translate some of the text later, one day… 😉 In the meantime, you can enjoy the photos that speak all:

5 Deserts that You Must Try at Least Once in Your Lifetime

to have in Vienna

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Alice’s Royal Breakfast

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…or any other hour of the night when I crave this delicious meal. It’s been my favorite since I discovered it last year. I don’t have it that often. It’s best savored when you miss it for a while. My mouth is watering.

Time: 20 min.

Level: beginner

Price: depends on the price of eggs

Type: vegetarian

Ingredients:

– 1 medium-sized potato, the kind they make chips from, or something closer, don’t go crazy on me with sweet potatoes or other stuff

– 2 eggs preferably organic and at least medium-sized, not the puny, pale-yolked tortured-chicken products

– olive oil, butter or other type of grease/oil to your liking

– salt, lots and lots of salt

Optional (add 5 more mins. to preparation time):

– grated salted cheese

– onion rings (but I wouldn’t recommend. This dish is best for its 2 ingredients simplicity and delights the taste buds as is. It needs no additives other than the precious salt.)

You will also need:

– a peeling knife or a plain all-purpose kitchen knife

– a plate to wash the potato chips before frying them

– a frying pan

– a wooden spatula

– a plate for serving

– a ready-to-be-amazed set of taste buds

Optional (add 2 more mins.) :

– another plate with a paper towel for absorbing the extra oil/grease

Preparation:

1. Peel the friendly potato and comfort it gingerly with the phrase “you’re about to be part of something amazing”)

2. Cut it gently into thin slices. I first cut it in two, then slice the halves making sure all the chips will cover the frying pan’s surface, otherwise I have to double the potato-frying time if some are left out.

3. Wash the nicely cut potato chips and dry them to a “no splashing once they hit the hot oil/grease”-point.

4. Pour a very thin layer of olive oil (or melt a knob of butter or other greasy interface to your liking) into the frying pan on the stove. The oil, any oil to my knowledge, expands a little when heated, so be careful not to pour too much. You only need to hit the chips on the one side, not cover them entirely.

5. Careful not to splash hot oil on you, add the nice potato chips into the heating oil treatment. To prevent any skin or eye injury, you can perform this action before the oil is too hot. Spread the chips evenly onto the entire surface of the pan. Let the oil work its magic.

6. Wash the eggs and because you’ve got a little time on your hands you can also prepare them for frying by cracking them onto a plate, careful not to break the yolks. Get rid of the shells, or, if you’re a plant lover, wash those Calcium-loaded things and allow them to dry for a healthy recycling (to be described in another post).

7. Use the wooden spatula to check on the potato chips. They don’t have to be all crisp and brownish on the side towards the flame. If over a third of them are, start turning them one by one – don’t protest! it’s an art and it’s worth it – turn the crispier and browner ones first, because the rest will follow.

8. Now you’ve got the nice potato chips frying onto the other side, almost ready for tasting. Once they are crisp and firm – they should be a tad smaller then they were when raw, as well – it’s time to add the eggs. Don’t allow all chips to become brown! Most of them get crispy when still nicely golden and they will have plenty of time to get brown along with the frying eggs.

9. Gently add the eggs into the frying pan and allow for some of the white to fry before incorporating the “stray” chips that weren’t caught inside the egg matter. To do that, simply use the spatula to drag the chips onto a place on the eggs’ surface that isn’t yet fried. (d’oh!)

10. The masterpiece comes when you decide if you like one yolk mellow and the other one hard, like myself. I usually scramble one yolk into the pan, mixing it with the still-raw white for a nice color and then pour hot oil on the lucky yolk that gets to remain mellow.

11. Once you are sure that no trace of egg white is left undone, your dish is ready to be scooped out of the pan onto the plate where it should receive the blessing of salt. Plenty of salt. Like they put into the potato chips bags, right?

12. You can serve it with butter on warm toast, or even go crazy with a slice of white bread, butter and… thick plum jam. Don’t say no until you’ve tried it! I do this for variation, but usually, I like this dish with it’s three main ingredients: potato, egg and salt.

Let me know if you start craving it at strange hours in the night. Ha-ha!

Tomato Cream Soup

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One of my favorites, summer or winter, now with a secret to prepare it fast, easy and in every season.

Time: 45 min.

Level: beginner-intermediate

Price: rather “cost effective”

Type: carnivorous – it tastes the best with chicken broth, though I take out the meat for another course. One could try to make it vegan with some “soup” cubes from Knorr, but I never use those…

Another shortcut recipe to the traditional way of peeling, taking out the seeds and mashing of the tomatoes which take more time than we’re willing to spend in the kitchen.

I use tomato purée or passata di pomodoro as they call it in Italy.

If you choose a quality brand and make sure it’s as fresh as possible (no preservatives) and also that is sweet, not salty, than your soup should taste divine.

Here we go:

Ingredients:

– 1 pack of chicken meat, even the cheap “back, feet and head” would do, we only need the broth out of it. You can also use 2 cow bones, make sure they still have the marrow.

– 5 l. of water

– 300 gr. , roughly 2 handfuls of fine pasta (vermicelli)

– 2 or 3 packs of 500 gr. of tomato purée (passata di pomodoro)

– salt

– grated cheese

– parsley

Optional:  (add 5 min. to preparation time)

– 1 or 2 eggs

– a handful of rice

– one carrot

– croutons or simply toast

You will also need:

– a 6 l.  pot with a lid

– another 6 l. pot

– a fine (tea) strainer

– oven mitts

– a skimmer

– two plates

– a fork

– a peeling knife or a plain kitchen all-purpose knife

– a chopping tray

Preparation:

1. Wash the meat and put it in the pot with the 5 l. of clear tap water to boil. Cover with the lid so it boils faster.

I know some of you are used to watch out and skim the broth once the meat starts to boil, but this is not necessary, because we will strain the entire thing pretty soon.

2. Meanwhile, if you decide to add rice, wash the rice thoroughly in a plate, by adding water and draining it several times.

3. Also, if you want to add the carrot, peel and chop it now to any sizes and shapes suit your fancy, but keep in mind the smaller the pieces, the faster it boils. I prefer my tomato soup carrot-free. And chop the parsley, too, while you’re at it.

4. This is when you should also cut open your packs of tomato purée, because you’ll need them handy very soon.

5. It should take some 20-to-30 minutes until the broth is finally done. Once the water starts to boil you should leave it for at least 10 minutes, or until the meat is done. Your sense of smell will let you know that. This is when you turn off the oven and take off the lid to let some steam out.

6. Using the skimmer tool, fish out the meat pieces onto a plate. Your broth should smell delicious and have nice fatty spots on its surface.

7. I usually do this step by myself, but here’s where your significant other may come in and lend a hand. I simply put the skimmer across the second pot and make sure the tea strainer is steady between the pot’s edge and the skimmer’s handle. But you can ask a reliable person to simply hold the strainer while you pour the steaming broth. Here’s where you need to be awfully careful and use the oven mitts. Or, if you’re in no hurry, just wait a few more minutes for the broth to cool down. If you want to wait, add those minutes to the preparation time, because I didn’t.

8. Your broth is now clear of any foam or impurities that might have resulted from boiling the meat (or the cow bones). Put the new pot again on the stove and wait until it reaches boiling temperature. If you add rice and carrots, you can put them in right from the beginning, as they take more time to boil and they will moisten in the warm broth until it starts to boil. Don’t forget to stir gently, especially if you add rice.

9. Once your broth is boiling, add the vermicelli and keep stirring gently. The vermicelli should take between 3 to 8 minutes to boil, depending on make and model. I prefer the very fine ones, that take very little to be done.

10. While you stir with the skimmer, you can pick up you “fish” – a carrot piece, some rice, some vermicelli – to check if they are done. The carrot should be tender, easy to cut through with a knife or fork, the rice should be a fine white and near splitting, while the vermicelli should be slightly thicker and very tender. Don’t let them boil over this level, or you’ll end up with a mashed purée of everything.

11. It’s time to add the tomato purée by stirring it gently into the broth. Keep stirring for another 3 to 5 minutes and only now you may add salt to your taste.

12. Once the soup is salted to taste, you turn off the stove and cover it with a lid while you beat one or two eggs into a plate with a fork.

13. Take of the lid, careful with the steam, and while stirring gently, pour the beaten egg into the steaming soup. The egg will instantly boil, so you must pour it very thin, unless you want to have big chunks of egg into your soup.

14. Now you can leave the lid off and add the chopped parsley.

15. Serve very hot, with grated cheese that melts into strings and croutons or toast, to your liking.

Bon appetit!

P.S. Don’t forget to wash the first pot in which you boiled the meat and all the tools you used, before sitting down for the meal. This way, you will only have two plates and spoons to clean up with a full stomach.

Also, have a plan for what to do with the meat or bones. But this will be a tale for another kitchen game.

Quick and easy Baba Ganoush

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I also call it “Baba Ganoush a la Campagne”

Time: under 45 min.

Level:beginner

Price: very “cost effective”

Type: vegan

A great vegan recipe, Baba Ganoush is often overlooked because of the double process. First you need to fry the eggplants, then peel them and prepare the recipe then there’s the smell and the smoke.

Well, I found a shortcut, and the result is as yummy as you’ve tasted it. It also avoids the smoke and doesn’t bother anyone with the nasty smell. The only smell in my recipe serves as appetizer. Here it is:

Ingredients:

– 2-3 medium sized eggplants

– 2-3 onions

– salt

– olive oil (or other oil of your choice)

Optional: (add 5 min. to preparation time)

– the squeezed juice of 1/2 a lemon

– a clover of parsley

– 2-3 egg yolks from boiled eggs – but then it isn’t vegan anymore

You will also need:

– a peeling knife or a plain kitchen all-purpose knife

– a chopping tray

– a non-stick frying pan and wooden spatula/spoon

– a strainer and a bowl

– a mixer

– bread and a plate for serving

Preparation:

1. Wash the eggplants and peel them of the dark skin. Move fast, but don’t chop your fingers. The white flesh will get a darker color if you take too long, but keep the lemon juice at hand, it helps against this natural process of oxidation.

2. Chop the peeled eggplants into sugar cube-sized pieces or smaller. If you didn’t add the lemon juice in step 1, now is the time to do it.

3. Put a spoon of olive oil in the frying pan on the cooking  stove and add the chopped eggplants. Don’t put them all in one session. Only cover the bottom of the pan and leave the rest for a second session.

4. Add more oil if they ask for it and keep stirring with the wooden spatula so as none of the pieces gets over fried. This should last several minutes, until the eggplants lose some steam, they shrink a little and become tender and slightly dark-green.

5. Put the fried eggplant pieces in the strainer and above a bowl and leave it there because you’ve got another round of chopped eggplant to fry.

6. Repeat steps 3 to 5.

7. Once you’ve fried all your eggplants, peel the onions and cut them in 6 or 8. Don’t bother to chop them by hand. Here’s what the mixer is for.

ADVICE: To avoid the dreaded “onion tears” you can either take a mouthfull of cold water and keep it in your mouth throughout the peeling/cutting process or chew gum and breathe through your mouth.

8. Divide the onions and fried chopped eggplants into equal portions to fit into your mixer, because you want the onions spread throughout the entire salad.

9. Put the onions close to the blade, then the chopped eggplants, add salt to taste. Also, if you want to add the egg yolks, cut them in 4 and put them closer to the blade as well. Mix well.

10. Repeat the mixing process if your mixer doesn’t accommodate the entire quantity in one session.

11. It should be mildly warm, but it’s ready for serving. Arrange the salad onto a plate, ornate with a clover of parsley and serve with crusty bread.

Enjoy!

Welcome to this playground!

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Vicious, malicious kids are not allowed.

This is a place for fun and all things nice

that make us in our daily lives forget the wheel of time.

No, not an opium to our sense of measure,

but one mere meaning to its restlessness.