Archive for the ‘Fork (food)’ Category

I like buying, owning and enjoying new things. I like trying new things too – with some tiny exceptions – my friend Aneta will know what I mean :) (think – sport!)

For some funny reason the last week was sort of all about new things. Here is my brief summary:

1) There is always a reason to dress up. And this is exactly what I was thinking when I saw a pair of Mulberry designer shoes just for £50! OK – they have a mini fault, namely the colour. One of the shoes has got a slightly darker colour than the other but I am already working on this problem – I have put the lighter-tone shoe  on the window sill hoping that the occasional British sunshine will make it darker eventually.

2) Everyone (girl) needs “the bag” – Once or twice (or more often if you can afford it) in your life time we girls deserve a great bag – the bag! Something like Chanel quilted flap bag or Louis Vuitton Monogram bag or Mulberry Ostrich bag. So when I went to Bath (UK) last w-end and found that incredible Mulberry outlet called Mulberry Factory Shop and saw that amazing orange ostrich bag … I just knew it would belong to me once leaving the shop. I bought it. Please, don’t think of me as the crazy shopaholic from Sophie Kinsella’s novels:) I am just an ordinary shopaholic who makes use of any good discounts! The bag had a really good outlet price comparing to the original one. I couldn’t resist … Well, here I am – a proud owner of a Mulberry Ostrich bag – the bag!

3) After being a bit ill a couple of days ago – I decided to cheer up my mood by getting a bright new haircut – a very short version of bob! I’m glad I did it – I don’t really have to do much with it – just a quick blow dry to look cool all day long.

4) Yesterday for the very first time I made Moussaka. I am so pleased with this “one pot” famous Greek dish. The combo of eggplants and creamy ricotta & cheddar cheese sauce is fantastic. I served that with a simple greek salad and some lovely wine. It’s a perfect dish for weekday nights!

Darlings, enjoy your all new little big things and have a fabulous weekend!

mulberry shoes

my new mulberry shoes

mulberry ostrich bag

my new mulberry ostrich bag

bob haircut

my new bob haircut


moussaka @ frock & fork


Serves 4 – 6

You will need:

1 kg eggplants

olive oil

450 g lean lamb mince

2 onions, finely chopped

400 g can tomatoes

1 tablespoon fresh or dry oregano

1 tablespoon tomato paste

80 ml dry white wine

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon sugar

1 handful of fresh basil leaves

For the cheese sauce:

315 ml milk

2 tablespoons plain flour

50 g grated Cheddar

250 g ricotta

salt & pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Cut the eggplant into 1 cm thick slices, place in colander , sprinkle generously with salt and leave to stand for 20 min to  draw out the bitter juices.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and brown the lamb mince, getting rid of any fat or water; once done place the meat on a plate and set aside.

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil, add the onion and fry gently for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes or until the onion is golden.

Return the meat to the pan with onion. Add the herbs, tomato pulp and paste, wine, bay leaves and sugar. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Once done, check the seasoning.

Preheat the electric or oven grill. Pat dry the eggplants and grill them.

Arrange half of the eggplant slices in a baking dish. Top with half of the meat mixture. Repeat the layers.

Preheat the oven to 180 ℃.

Make the cheese sauce: blend a little of milk with the flour to form a paste in a small pan. Gradually blend in the remaining milk, stirring constantly over a low heat until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat, stir in the Cheddar, ricotta, salt and pepper and nutmeg.

Pour over over the moussaka. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Happy eating!

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OK. I have to admit it – today is not my day. I feel miserable, I’m in pain, I can’t stand any more Paracetamol, I have worn my pajamas all day long and the only good thing I managed to do is to cook a pasta dish. I hope tomorrow is a bright new day and my energy is back and my cheerful nature is restored! But before it happens, please enjoy my simple pasta bake.

This dish is good for a quick, full of flavour supper and  to save your wallet, eat the leftovers next day for lunch.

Pasta Bake

Serves 2-3

pasta bake

pasta bake @ frock & fork

You will need:

250 g Casareccia or Penne (preferably De Cecco)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

2  cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 can of chopped plum tomatoes

1 pinch of chili flakes

1 teaspoon of dry Italian herbs (mix)

1 fresh sage leaf

1 small handful of fresh basil leaves

2 thyme springs, leaves picked

5 sun-dried-tomatoes in oil, chopped

1 handful of sliced black olives

salt & peper

1 mozzarella ball, diced

2 tablespoons of finely grinded parmesan


Preheat oven to 200 ℃.

To make the tomato sauce: gently fry the onion, garlic, celery, chili and dry herbs. Add tomatoes and fresh herbs; finally add the sun-dried-tomatoes, 1/2 cup of water and bring to boil. Simmer gently for 15-20 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Add the olives and season the sauce with salt & pepper.

While the sauce is cooking, cook your pasta in plenty of salted boiling water according to the package instructions.

Lightly grease the baking dish with olive oil or butter. Pour 3 tablespoons of the sauce and spread on the bottom of of the dish. Add the cooked pasta and pour the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella over the top and decorate with a few fresh basil leaves. Finally sprinkle everything with Parmesan. Serve hot  with a slice of ciabata.

pasta bake

pasta bake @ frock & fork

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I don’t know about you, but for me weekends often call for homemade baking. I just love when the end of the week has that extra sweet dimension :) There is nothing better than a good cookie or a piece of cake to go with my  Saturday and Sunday espresso.

When I saw Isabelle’s lemon squares @ Eat My Cake Now, I knew straight away it would be a hit and something I would actually eat any time of the day. I have always liked lemon squares and always thought you need to make them Betty Crocker’s way, you know quite sugary – but not anymore! Isabelle’s amazing lemon square recipe offers an utterly superb twist. Not only she uses coconut but also condensed milk, which combined with lemon juice turns into some sort of soft cheese-type of creamy filling. Divine! Absolutely clever idea! I am sure you will adore this recipe as much as I did.

Please note, I didn’t tweak the recipe but you may want to modify it a bit to suit your needs and likes. I know some people don’t fancy too much lemon and this dessert is quite lemony. I personally love it. Ps: Those lemon squares taste like heaven after chilling in the fridge overnight.

Here is my version of Isabelle’s delish lemon squares:

Lemon Squares

Makes 14 (depending how big you want the squares to be)

lemon squares with coconut

lemon squares @ Frock & Fork

You will need:

90 g oatmeal
120 g  flour
12o g  coconut
70 g  brown sugar
180 ml melted butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
300 ml sweetened condensed milk
125 ml lemon juice


Preheat oven to 180 °C. Line 23 x 23 cm baking tray with baking paper.

In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients: flour, oatmeal, coconut, brown sugar, salt and baking powder. Pour  in the melted butter and mix well. In another bowl, combine condensed milk and lemon juice. Take half of the coconut & oatmeal mixture and place it in the baking tray. Pour all milk & lemon juice mixture. Crumble the remaining coconut & oatmeal mixture on top, pressing lightly. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes. Cool at least 30 minutes before cutting into squares, if still soft, cool completely and after that chill in the fridge; once set, cut into squares.

lemon squares with coconut

lemon squares @ Frock & Fork

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What a wet day we had in London yesterday! Drama! To avoid any melancholic feelings that the rain was portending, I baked a yummy apple cake. The recipe comes from Tracy’s blog Pink Purl. When I saw the nice photo, short list of ingredients and easy to follow instructions, I decided to bake her Norwegian apple cake immediately. I have changed the proportions a bit and substituted half of the flour with finely grained almonds but you can view the original recipe here: The Comfort of Apples.

Apple Cake from Pink Purl

apple cake

frock & fork

You will need:

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup grained almonds
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp baking powder
3 apples, peeled and sliced


1 tablespoons sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

a small handful of sliced or chopped almonds


Preheat the oven to 200 ℃. Line a round cake tin with baking paper and butter the sides. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Sieve and add the flour, grained almonds and baking powder.  Then add the egg and mixing well. Pour the mixture into the cake tin. Arrange the apple slices on top of the cake butter. Sprinkle everything with the topping mixture. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool the cake and serve with vanilla ice cream or icing sugar on top.

Enjoy this lovely autumn apple cake!

autumn apple cake

frock & fork

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What do you do with leftover poached or roast chicken (breasts, drumsticks, legs)? You use it! You can make a fantastic salad with walnuts, raisins, celery sticks, apples, flat parsley and light mayo :) How simple is that? Very simple – all you need to do is to chop most of the listed ingredients and combine them with mayonnaise. Eat it for lunch on top of a piece of bread or eat it with some nice and crispy gem lettuce. Trust me, it tastes delish!

I  made my own proportions for this salad, yet you may want to create yours, according to your preferences. However, I find this combination just right. Also, I like serving my chicken salad with some finely chopped red radish. Radish adds a bit of extra sharpness and colour to the salad and makes it look more tempting :)

Chicken salad a la Frock & Fork

Serves 6

chicken and walnut salad

frock & fork

You will need:

6 cold chicken poached or roasted drumsticks, chopped (I used the ones I cooked in my homemade chicken soup)

2 celery sticks, finely chopped

50 g walnuts, roughly chopped

1 spring onion, chopped, green parts removed

2 tablespoons flat parsley, finely chopped

40 g raisins, soaked in hot water

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

1 pinch of nutmeg

1 teaspoon lime juice

salt & pepper

2 red radishes, chopped


In a large bowl combine chopped chicken meat, celery, apples, walnuts, spring onion and parsley. Add raisins, mayo, nutmeg, lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix everything thoroughly. Chill in the fridge at least 1 hour before serving. To decorate the salad, sprinkle over with some chopped flat parsley and red radish. Enjoy!

chicken walnut and apple salad

frock & fork

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Bizarrely, I have always liked goat cheese salad even though I have never been a great fan of goat cheese. I guess it’s that amazing combination of warm goat cheese and honey, cinnamon flavoured pear, pine nuts and beetroot that make me happy with the savour and texture of this dish …. My goat cheese salad is perfect for smart lunch or light supper, however it would also make an excellent starter when cooking for friends.

Just so you know, I created the recipe myself, though I was inspired by several salads I have eaten in various restaurants. The recipe is quick and can be easily adjusted by adding more or less ingredients. I used a honey-mustard-lime juice dressing, yet you may want to substitute it with a good quality virgin olive oil and balsamico. Finally, warm crunchy ciabatta and well chilled white wine, will perfectly accompany this meal.

Satisfying, full of flavours, elegant – enjoy it!

Goat cheese salad with poached pear

Serves 2

goat cheese salad

by Asia(Jo)

You will need:

1 package of mixed baby leaves lettuce

1 cooked beetroot, cut into quarters and sliced

2 radishes, sliced

1 spring onion, sliced

4 large cherry tomatoes, halved

2 logs of soft goat cheese

2 tablespoons of honey

1 handful of pine nuts, toasted

2 small pears

1 small cinnamon stick

zest of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

1 glass of white wine

cold water

1 pre baked ciabata bread

For the dressing: This time I didn’t follow a recipe, just mixed some Dijon mustard with honey, lime juice and olive oil, salt and pepper.


If unwashed, clean the lettuce and then divide between two large plates. Add the beetroot, tomatoes, radish and spring onion.

To poach the pears, peal and place in the pan together with white wine, cinnamon stick, lemon zest, sugar. Add cold water to cover the pears. Cook for a few minutes making sure the fruit is soft yet firm at the same time. Avoid overcooking the pears for esthetic reasons.

Arrange the goat cheese in a lightly greased ovenproof dish. Pour over the honey and warm up in a moderate oven. Spoon the dressing over the salad leaves. Arrange the pears in the middle of each plate and finally add the warm goat cheese. To serve, sprinkle the cheese with some toasted pine nuts. This will make a difference to the flavour!

It’s a lovely salad – give it a try :)

poached pear

by Asia(Jo)

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I think I am becoming a cookie monster and for sure developing some sort of cookie addiction. I like the pretty cookies, the healthy ones, the chocolate ones, the old fashion ones, the quick ones, the fruity and nutty ones, the home baked ones and the fancy ones from Laduree too. I like them all with a lovely cup of tea.

Not long ago I came across Michelle’s blog – The Green Bite – and her amazing apricot-maple-oatmeal cookies. I am telling you – they turned out fantastically gooey and chewy! I made the cookies according to Michellle’s instructions, yet I added just a few small amendments.

Those cookies are absolutely tasty, delicious and they would easily make an excellent afternoon or even morning snack.

Btw, the apricot-maple-oatmeal cookies are FUN to make – be ready for a sticky job :)

To view the original recipe click here: A-M-O Cookies.

Apricot-maple-oatmeal cookies

apricot maple oatmeal cookies

by Asia(Jo)

You will need:

1 egg

1/3 cup softened butter

1/2 cup cane sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 1/2 cup oats

2/3 cup dried apricots, chopped


Preheat the oven to 190 ℃.

Beat softened butter, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla extract together using a balloon whisk until creamy.  Add the lightly beaten egg and stir to incorporate. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir to combine. Add oats and apricots. Stir to combine.

Form small balls and place on the cookie sheet (use baking paper or grease the tray) pressing the cookie dough gently. Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven. Remove from oven and let the cookies rest for 1-2 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.

Try and enjoy something new!

apricot maple oatmeal cookies

by Asia(Jo)

oatmeal cookies

by Asia(Jo)

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Chili con Carne – quick, easy, tasty!

I make this dish when my culinary inspiration has gone with the wind :)

Ps: Don’t forget – Chili con carne is perfect for freezing!

Chili Con Carne

Serves 6

chili con carne

by Asia(Jo)

You will need:

1 large onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chpped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 red chili, deseeded, chopped

2 springs of thyme, leaves picked

olive oil

500 g minced beef

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 medium carrots, diced

3 fresh tomatoes

1 can of plum tomatoes, chopped

150 ml chicken stock

4 tablespoons tomato pure

1 bay leave

1 cinnamon sick

2 (red & yellow) peppers, sliced

1 can of kidney beans (400 g), drained

1 tin of sweet corn (optional)

salt & pepper

sour cream, to serve

fresh coriander, to granish

Cooked rice or fresh bread, to serve


Fry onion, celery, garlic and chili in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add all the spices and herbs. Mix everything well. In a separate frying pan, brown the meat without any additional oil. Drain any fat or liquid from the meat. Add the  meat to the onion & herb mixture. Add the carrots together with fresh and canned tomatoes. Let it boil and simmer gently for about 5 minutes. Add the stock, bay leave and cinnamon stick to the meaty sauce. Season everything with salt and pepper or some additional spices, according  to your liking. Finally add the beans and the peppers and cook till the sauce has thickened (aprox. 20  minutes). Check the seasoning. Serve with hot boiled rice or crusty bread. Decorate the dish with some sour cream and fresh coriander leaves.

Adopted from Gordon Ramsay’s chilli con carne recipe.

Chili on Foodista

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I am a great lover of herbs. I love them fresh, I love them dry and I love them finely grinded. Most of the time I buy fresh herbs and if possible or needed I freeze them. I also love it when my mom shares her herbs with me. She plants mint, sage, dill, parsley and camomile in her garden and then either air-dries them or hangs them up in her attic to preserve. Finally, I am a big fan of powdered herbs. A friend of mine, Anna, a very lovely Italian lady, once gave me a tiny little jar of some fantastic and aromatic eco herbs. She bought them in Castellina in Chianti, a small Tuscan town. A couple of years ago, she spotted a nice man selling those beautiful colorful jars at the local food market. Since then she regularly buys his great aromatic powdered herbs. Last April I went to Castellina in Chianti and met the same “herb farmer” who makes his products himself at his biological farm. I absolutely love his “rosmarino” (rosemary)! It smells fabulous and if you add a dash of it into your dishes (soups, pasta, meat, etc) – gosh – you will feel the difference! Anna told me never to touch these powder herbs with fingers but to use the end of a teaspoon. For the best result, you should add the herbs at the end of cooking. If you ever plan to go to Tuscany, don’t bypass Castellina in Cianti. I’m positive, if you find my herbalist, you will return home with at least two of his charming jars.

Here is my rosmarino:

powdered herbs rosemary

by Asia(Jo)

Here is the herbalist’s movable market stand:

donkey farm

by Asia(Jo)

My mom’s herbs:

dry herbs

by Asia(Jo)

Finally a very quick recipe – it tastes delicious if you enhance the falvour with those Aroma Da Cucina Del Chianti.

Baked potato chips

Serves 2

You will need:

2 large baking potatoes

3 garlic cloves

2 fresh rosemary springs, leaves picked

2 fresh thyme springs, leaves picked

sea salt

black pepper

olive oil

a dash of Rosmarino “Aroma Da Cucina Del Chianti” (optional)

by Asia(Jo)

by Asia(Jo)


Preheat the oven to 200 ℃. Boil the potatoes in salted water for about 10 minutes (don’t overcook them, they should be half cooked yet easy to cut). Drain and slice the potatoes. Arrange them in the ovenproof dish or baking tray. Add the garlic, fresh herbs and a couple lugs of olive oil. Sprinkle everything with some sea salt and some freshly grinded pepper. Bake the potatoes for aprox 35 – 45 minutes, depending on your oven. Towards the end, take the potatoes out of the oven and dust them with the powdered rosemary. Return to the oven for the last few minutes. Serve hot.

Happy Eating Everyone!

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I love Italian cuisine, its simplicity and beauty. The Taste of Italy is one of my favourite Italian cookbooks. I tried out many recipes featured in that book and each time it has been a great success. Today, I have got something absolutely mouthwatering for you! It is easy to prepare and it’s a delicious evening dish that goes very well with a simple salad and a glass of chilled white wine. Spinach, ricotta, mozzarella and Parma ham – an amazing winning combination.

Spinach-Stuffed Cannelloni

Serves 4

stuffed cannelloni

by Asia(Jo)

You will need:

12 dry cannelloni

225 g baby spinach

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

3 slices Parma ham, chopped (omit for a vegetarian option)

125 g Mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes

200 g Ricotta cheese

1 handful of grated Parmesan cheese

250 ml white sauce (béchamel)

25 g butter or 1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pinch nutmeg

salt and pepper

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

small basil leaves to decorate

The basic white sauce recipe:

25 g butter, 25 g plain flour, 250 ml milk, pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper

Melt the butter over a medium heat. Whisk in the  flour. Pour in the milk, whisking constantly until it starts to boil. Season. Lower the heat. Simmer gently for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Check the seasoning add the nutmeg.


Prepare the white sauce.

Preheat the oven to 200 ℃.

Heat the butter or olive oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and ham and fry briefly. Add the spinach and gently cook for aprox. 4 minutes util nice and soft. Remove from the heat and add the Mozzarella, Ricotta and the handful of Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, add the nutmeg.

Fill each of the cannelloni with the above stuffing.

Lightly grease an ovenproof dish. Pour over some of the white sauce. Lay the cannelloni on top of the white sauce. Pour over the remaining (bigger half) of the white sauce. Sprinkle over with 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes. The topping should be lightly golden when cooked. Decorate the dish with a few basil leaves. Serve hot.

It is a really tasty dish – I know you will love it :)

spinach stuffed cannelloni

by Asia(Jo)

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It has been absolutely amazing to have my friends from all over the world. I can not imagine my life without these international, multicultural and diverse mates. Knowing them and spending time with them, not only broadens my horizons enormously, but also gives me a delightful lesson of life. Even my coooking has been influenced by cuisines from my friends’ mother lands.

Yesterday, my lovely friend Marce, invited me for the very first cooking class. She showed me how to prepare CEVICHE, a traditional Peruvian fish meal that cooks itself in the acids from lime. The session was absolutely brilliant. It was an incredible experience to learn about all little steps that make this dish taste like heaven. Every step is important: the way you cut the fish, squeeze the limes and slice the onion.

First of all, when you make ceviche, it is crucial to set an appropriate atmosphere in your kitchen. Yes, the answer is – Peruvian music!!! I highly recommend a band called Novalima. Their music fantastically blends the Afro-Peruvian, Latin American and contemporary electronic sounds.

There are several kinds of ceviche based on different types of fish or “frutti di mari” but the basic ingredient, lime juice, is irreplaceable. With all due respect for Jamie Oliver’s cooking knowledge and culinary innovations, according to my friend, he just didn’t get that right when he substituted lime juice with lemon juice in his ceviche dish ( Jamie’s American Road Trip ). You MUST use LIME juice and only lime juice to make an authentic ceviche. Having said that, I think we are ready for Marce’s ceviche cooking instructions.


by Asia(Jo)


Serves 2 (large portions)

You will need very fresh ingredients:

3 tilapia filets – you may want to remove the red parts for esthetic reasons

9 limes (juice only) – don’t squeeze the limes to the very end to avoid the bitterness of the white part of the lime skin!

1/4 fresh red chili

a pinch of Aji amarillo (Peruvian chili paste) (if missing add more fresh chili)

a dash of garlic powder

a pinch of pepper


1 red onion, finely sliced in a “rainbow” style (semicircles)

1 celery stick, finely diced (optional)

2 coriander springs, chopped; to garnish

To serve:

1 small canned sweet corn

1 cooked sweet potato

2 large lettuce leaves

2 handfuls of Peruvian popcorn

ceviche instructions

by Asia(Jo)


1. Rub the fish fillets with a bit of salt and rinse it under cold water

2. Cut the fish along the centre, then cut each half sidewise

3. Peel the onion, halve it and slice it in a rainbow style (semicircles); sprinkle with salt, rub it using your hands, rince the onion under cold water and let it rest

4. Rub the metal bowl with the piece of chili, then finely chop the chili

5. In a metal bowl mix together the chili and 1 teaspoon of salt; shake it and smash it gently with a spoon

6. Add a pinch of garlic powder and black pepper to the salt & chili mixture

7. Add the lime juice; stir everything gently checking if the sauce is salty enough. Make sure it’s not too salty

8. Add the fish, check the seasoning, stir it gently and finally add the onion. Sprinkle the dish with fresh chopped coriander; leave it for a minute or two

9. The fish will nicely cook itself in this amazing lime & salt sauce!

10. Serve your ceviche with a few slices of cooked sweet potato and a handful of sweet corn on the “lettuce bed” – decorate the whole dish with some Peruvian popcorn


Ps: It is very difficult to tell how much salt this dish needs. It all depends on your personal preferences and on the type of salt you use (use fine table salt rather than sea salt). It is something that needs to be tested and eventually mastered.

I can’t wait for a ceviche plate prepared 100% by me!


by Asia(Jo)

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It was a feel-good Sunday even though London seemed miserably grey and unattractive during the entire day. Yet, spending a few hours with my two friends, Marce and Jens – well this just made my day! When I meet those two travel enthusiasts, I always have a great time, loads of laughing and great talks over long lasting meals. So, yesterday we giggled, chatted, ate 1,5 kg of roast beef, drank 2 bottles of Rioja, exchanged Peruvian and Polish chicken soup recipes, arranged ceviche cooking class for me, wondered about the Eastern Europe cultural diversity and the legends of Peruvian Inkas. Marce, who is a person behind a young and energetic travel agency Takeme2peru, is absolutely in love with the country of her origin. She has been planning a special trip to Peru for her friends (my peru group travel) already for a couple of months. Everything what she has done so far to make that trip happen, she has done with passion, vigor and fascination. To celebrate Marce’s recent birthday, which I unfortunately missed because my Eastern Europe voyages, and to celebrate the design of her bright new Takeme2peru logo, I decided to make some cookies. Since I know how Peru is close to Marce’s heart, I baked cookies in the colours of the Peruvian national flag: red and white. Luckily, I have come across Mandy Mortimer’s blog lately; btw you will love Mandy’s recipe collection and photographs. Mandy has featured a great sugar cookies with white chocolate recipe. Immediately, when I saw the pictures of her red heart cookies, I madly fall in love with them and knew they would be a hit and a great present for Marce. And I was right – Marce loved her “I ♡ Peru” cookies and for me it was such a  joy and fun to knead, roll, cut out and chocolate paint those little sugar babies!

Sugar Cookies with white chocolate

Makes 36 sweet and tender cookies

by Asia(Jo)

by Asia(Jo)

Please visit Mandy Mortimer’s blog for a full recipe and detailed instructions.


by Asia(Jo)
by Asia(Jo)

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Veggie of the month –  pumpkin.

Recently, all foodies, epicures and gourmets around the world have been making fabulous creamy pumpkin soups, baking amazing pumpkin pies, muffins or cookies, kneading delicious pumpkin filled ravioli and frying spiced pumpkin pancakes. So much choice and so much fun! I love this vegetable and love challenging myself with its fantastic taste and texture.

I’ve cooked and enjoyed this roasted pumpkin soup several times. I have been using the same recipe over two years now and it’s one of those recipes you wait a whole year to prepare and once you do, you don’t want the season to end. Also, it’s a great meal to prepare over a weekend. Just pay a visit to a local Saturday/Sunday farm market or even pumpkin patch, get yourself a good-looking pumpkin, test your knife skills at home and then enjoy the smooth almost velvety consistency of this heavenly creamy pumpkin soup. Perfect for lunch or for a light supper. Tastes great with a slice of fresh crunchy bread.

Recipe adapted from http://www.exclusivelyfood.com.au

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Serves 2 (2 x medium bowls)

by Asia(Jo)

You will need:

1 kg of peeled, deseeded pumpkin (that means you need to get a pumpkin of aprox. 1,5 kg)4 garlic cloves, unpeeled

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 leek, white part only, finely sliced

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 pinch of ground ginger (optional)

salt and pepper

1 litter vegetable or chicken stock

olive oil

sour cream, for serving


Preheat the oven to 180 ℃.

Chop pumpkin into cubes and place it in a baking tray together with unpeeld garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, toss it and add a thyme spring.  Roast the pumpkin for  20 minutes, then remove the garlic; keep roasting the pumpkin until cooked through (for aprox. 15-20 more minutes). Make sure the pumpkin doesn’t burn. Heat 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, leek, nutmeg, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally. Add roasted pumpkin and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer  uncovered for 20 minutes. Peel 2 roasted garlic cloves and add to the soup. Cool the soup before pureeing it in a blender. Garnish the soup with  thyme leaves and sprinke with a dash of freshly grated nutmeg. Serve with a bit of sour cream or creme fraiche and a slice of fresh crunchy bread.

by Asia(Jo)

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Today was a special day. After a couple of long years I rediscovered a fantastic song written by a friend of mine, Kasandra, who is a great artist and a newly born blogger. She posted her “Don’t wake up choking” song to her Wordfalls blog and I would listen to it throughout the whole day. It’s funny how much you appreciate something once you come across it again …. At the end of the day I shared the song with another friend of mine. Soon after we let ourselves totally enjoy the song’s bluesy feel …. perfect for today’s grey and wet weather.

Even though, I have madly felt in love with Kasandra’s music and its melancholy, at some point I felt an unusual joy. I decided to celebrate Kasandra’s talent, the song of the day and my feel-good mood. For this reason I made a small, luscious granola yogurt dessert.

This super easy meal can be eaten as breakfast, snack or dessert and is easily adjustable – add more or less yogurt, honey and cereals depending on your taste. You can’t go wrong with it!

Enjoy it because it’s healthy and delicious!

Granola yogurt

Serves 1

by Asia(Jo)

You will need:

4 tablespoons of Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons of honey

3 tablespoons of homemade granola or good quality musli (I used dorset cereals)

5-6 strawberries/raspberries or blueberries

a few nuts or pumpkin seeds, to garnish


Pour the yogurt into a glass or a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of honey, followed by the granola/cereals/musli. Add the remaining spoon of honey. Chop strawberries. Arrange the fruit on top of the yogurt/honey/cereals layers. Sprinkle everything with some nuts or seeds. Voila! How simple is that?

by Asia(Jo)

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Peperonata, a delicious accompaniment for fish or meat dishes. This fantastic Italian recipe, coming form Campania region, tastes luscious and can be flavoured additionally by capers and anchovy fillets.

Some time ago I found this recipe in one of my favourite and precious cookbooks Italy The Beautiful Cookbook, which is full of authentic recipes and wonderful photographs of all featured dishes and the Italian culinary regions.

This dish doesn’t require many ingredients but remember to use only fresh and good quality ones.

Peperonata – Pepper & Tomato Stew

Serves 6

by Asia(Jo)

You will need:

3 ripe tomatoes

6 red and yellow bell peppers (I tend to use green ones as well)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

salt & pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

a few fresh basil leaves


Plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for a few seconds; drain and peal. Chop the tomatoes; seed and slice the peppers.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute until translucent. Add the pepper slices, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and oregano. Cover, reduce heat and cook slowly for 30 min, stirring from time to time. Add the basil and cook for a few minutes more to blend flavors. Transfer to a bowl and serve or enjoy it with a grilled tuna and lemon risotto on one plate.

by Asia(Jo)

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Recently, I have discovered a very cool series of pocket cook books called All Colour Cookbooks published by Hamlyn. Each of them consists of 200 easy to make, mouthwatering recipes with beautiful photographs and clear instructions. The colour of book cover reefers to different food themes, for instance, red book is dedicated to baking, green book is all about salads and pasta dishes, purple book is devoted to low fat dishes, orange book introduces easy suppers while the brown one is full of veggie feasts. But there is many more giving you a wide choice of different cuisines or food interest. So far I bought two of All Colour Cookbooks: Super Salads and Cakes and Bakes.

Have a look at a sweet recipe from the red book Cakes and Bakes - Coffee Kisses.

Coffee Kisses

Makes 10

by Asia(Jo)

You will need:

2 teaspoons instant coffee

1 teaspoon boiling water

75 g butter, at room temperature

50 g light muscovado sugar

125 g self-raising-flour

For the filling:

2 teaspoons instant coffee

2 teaspoons boiling water

50 g butter, at room temperature

100 g icing sugar, sifted


Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water. Beat the butter and the sugar together in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the dissolved coffee and then gradually mix in the flour to make a smooth dough.

Knead the dough and shape it into a log and then chill for 15 minutes. Slice the the chilled log into 20 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, arrange on a greased baking sheet and flatten by pressing with a fork. Bake in the preheated oven, 180 ℃, for 8-10 minutes until browned. Leave the biscuits to cool for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the filling: dissolve the coffee in the boiling water. Beat the butter and icing sugar together then stir in the dissolved coffee until smooth and fluffy. Use the filling to sandwich the biscuits together in pairs. Eat within 2 days.

Have a coffee kiss with your morning coffee – good day everyone!

by Asia(Jo)

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I just successfully tested another fruit fool!

The recipe for mango fool comes from a bright new food magazine Dinner Tonight, which I bought a couple of days ago. The issue is full of recipes for quick suppers, weekend meals, side dishes and lunches, divine and instant desserts. There is hardly any articles so if you are looking for some travel inspired food reviews, kitchen equipment assessments, seasonal fruit and vegetable overviews or celebrity chefs recipes, refer to Delicious Magazine or Good Food. I found the recipes from Dinner Tonight quite impressive, yummy looking, quick and easy to follow, yet still creative and exciting. I am sure  it will be a useful source of reference when you plan a dinner party menu, weekend food or a super express meal for the weekdays.

Re the mango fool recipe, I found it quite unique. I liked the freshness of mango, the delicate lime flavour and the foamy, creamy, almost cloudy texture. You ought to try this yummy dreamy heaven!

Mango Fool

Serves 2-4

by Asia(Jo)

You will need:

2 ripe large mangos, peeled and stoned

150 ml double cream

1 x 250 g pot plain yogurt

zest and juice of 1/2 lime

2 cardamom pods, split and seeds crushed (I didn’t  this ingredient – I mark it as optional)

2-3 tablespoons clear honey


Puree the mango flesh in a food processor until smooth.

Whisk the cream to soft peaks, then stir in the yogurt and whisk a little more until thickened. Fold in most of the lime zest and juice, the cardamom and honey.

Spoon alternate layers of the creamy mixture and the mango puree into the glasses and decorate with the remaining zest. Serve chilled.

by Asia(Jo)

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Lately, I have discovered something really tasty and useful to keep in my kitchen cupboards. It’s a whole range of great products from Casale Paradiso. What I like about this Italian brand, is a fantastic variety of ready prepared mixes of risotto rice, pasta, soups and herbal seasonings. Frankly speaking, I prefer cooking from scratch, yet sometimes on those busy or lazy days, when the cooking inspiration doesn’t come, I like to grab one of those risotto packages and enjoy the aromatic flavours it contains.

Risotto is one of my favorite Italian dishes. I love the simplicity of this dish, its creamy consistency and a great amount of individuality you can attach to it. It is all up to your imagination what other ingredients you want to use to enhance the taste and the presentation. My best ever risotto recipes include risotto with cooked ham, carrots and peas, wild mushroom risotto and champagne risotto (expect a post about this bubbly rice in the near future).  However, I must say, I am a big fan of Casale Paradiso truffle, lemon and saffron risotto mixes. I tested all three and they tasted amazing.

In one of my future posts I will show you how to cook risotto step by step. If you need the instructions immediately, refer to Jamie Oliver’s cook book Jamie’s Kitchen, pages 118-119. All you need to prepare a great risotto dish is a good quality Abrorio rice, white wine, stock, white or red onion and a dash of finesse, creativity and elegance. Work with the basic ingredients and your epicurean soul to deliver a luscious risotto; pair it with a crispy salad of rucola; add freshly grated Parmigiano on top and serve with a glass of well chilled white wine. Divine!

(Casale Paradiso products are available in London/UK and Haarlem/NL in selected speciality food stores. I bought mine at the local fishmonger in Greenwich and received some extra packs from my friend living in Holland)

Saffron Risotto from Casale Paradiso mix

Serves 4  (1 risotto package)

by Asia(Jo)

You will need:

1 package of Saffron risotto

5 tablespoons of olive oil

1 large onion, chopped (optional, already exists in the mix, yet I really like the extra smell and flavour it gives)

2 garlic cloves, chopped (optional, already exists in the mix)

1 large glass of white wine

500 ml vegetable stock or hot boiled water

2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmigiano (parmesan cheese)

1 knob of butter or olive oil spread

salt and pepper

basil leaves, to garnish


Heat the olive oil. Fry the onion and garlic until lightly coloured. Add the risotto rice and fry over medium heat stirring constantly until it becomes semitransparent. Add the wine – bend your head down towards the pan and enjoy this beautiful smell! Let the liquid evaporate but continue to stir the mixture. Add the first ladle of hot stock. Reduce the heat, allow the stock to be absorbed, add another ladle of stock and keep stirring the rice. Continue the process. It will take 15-25 minutes. Season the rice carefully. Turn off the heat. Add one handful of Parmigiano and a knob of butter. Cover and allow to rest for a minute or so. Served immediately, sprinkled with the remaining cheese and basil leaves on top. Lovely!

by Asia(Jo)

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You will love this blackberry fool that tastes fantastically creamy and delicious. It’s a lovely light and healthy dessert, thanks to blackberries, which are low in fat and high in fibre, vitamin A and calcium.

Enjoy the unusual taste of blackberries and give yourself a fibre boost!

(Please note you will need 2 hours for chilling this dessert)

Blackberry Fool

Serves 4

You will need:

450 g fresh or froze blackberries

25 g custard powder

40 g caster sugar

285 ml skimmed milk

115 g thick Greek yoghurt

1 teaspoon icing sugar


Put the custard powder into a bowl. Add 15 g of the caster sugar and blend to a smooth paste with about 4 tablespoons of the milk (use a hand wire whisk). Pour the rest of the milk into a small saucepan and bring to boil, and then stir the boiling milk into the custard powder. Return this mixture to a pan and bring back to the boil, stirring constantly until the custard has thickened and no trace of custard powder remains.

Pour the mixture into a bowl and allow to cool a little. Cover and place in a fridge for at least 1 hour to allow the fool to set.

Reserving 4 blackberries for garnish, put the rest into a pan with the remaining sugar and cook over a low heat for 7 minutes, until the fruit softens. Press the fruit through a sieve to make a puree. Whisk the chilled custard until very smooth, then whisk in the Greek youghurt and fold in the puree. Spoon into desert bowls and chill for 1 hour. Decorate with 2 fresh blackberries and dust with some icing sugar. Enjoy!

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I’m not a big fan of sardines but this recipe is really nice and easy to follow. I made it last Friday and absolutely enjoyed the softness of fresh sardines and the delicious stuffing of anchovies, capers and spinach. The dish works well as a starter or as a main course, served with homemade potato chips and peppers slowly cooked with tomatoes. It is also a very good recipe for a dinner party; prepare it in advance and impress your guests with a plate full of fabulous flavours and colours.

The only thing you have to make sure, is to ask your fishmonger to take out the main fishbone from each sardine you are getting, unless you don’t mind doing it yourself but then be careful not to tear off too much flesh.

Remember, sardines are rich in heart healthy omega 3, very inexpensive and they are perfect for frying, grilling and roasting.

Enjoy this richly flavoured meal!

Stuffed Sardines

Serves 4                                                                                                                          

You will need:

12 sardines, washed, emptied and boned from the centre

1 egg

100 g spinach, cut into stripes

2 teaspoons capers

4 anchovy fillets in oil

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

50 g breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon onion, chooped

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt & pepper

fish mix (dry herbs)

wooded toothpicks (optional)


Chop together the anchovies and the capers. Stir in the breadcrumbs and a little salt and pepper. Mix the spinach with the egg, onion and parsley; add to the above mixture. Stir well to mix all the ingredients throughly. Season lightly the fish with salt and pepper and fish mix (dry herbs). Fill each of the sardines with the stuffing, secure with toothpicks and place them in an ovenproof dish. Pour over the oilve oil and cook for aprox. 15 – 20 minutes. Serve hot with a glass of fresh, fruity, light withe wine.

(Recipe source: The Taste of Italy by Lebain & Paireault, 1989)

by Asia(Jo)

by Asia(Jo)

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