Ramadan Kareem! Ramadan is going on in the UAE, during this month Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, and when the sun sets they break the fast. It is also time to be more grateful and patience, time for charity. Many families and friends get together to break their daytime fast, that evening meal is called iftar. The meal most often starts with a date and a glass of water; then usually soup or salad is served, numerous appetizers (mezze), which includes olives, hummus, and of course cheeses.
In my opinion, cheeses are loved by many people and every country has their own varieties and names, and Arab region is not the exception. One of the traditional Emirati cheeses is called Chami, which is similar to cottage cheese. I can even say more, it is a cottage cheese. The legend says that an Arabian bedouin traveled somewhere across the desert, and took some milk with him in a goat’s stomach, and while he was traveling, extremely hot sun and his movements (or his horse) caused the milk to separate into curd and whey; thus the first simple cheese was discovered.
Most probably that time it was goat’s or sheep’s milk and thus the cheese, but nowadays it is usually prepared by simmering cow’s laban (local dairy drink, similar to Russian kefir or buttermilk). Chami is usually drizzled with ghee (clarified butter) and eaten with dates. In my home country, homemade cottage cheese is often made the same way: by simmering the soured cow’s milk that caused the milk to separate. I love cottage cheese, not only to eat it as is, I add it into cakes or sweet one-dish bakes (you can find numerous recipes if you write “cottage cheese” in the search line on the right). So I make it quite often at home, but I prefer to simmer local yogurt, which is sold in large one, two and larger liters buckets. thus I have the bigger quantity of the cheese.
Panna cotta is such a universal dessert that suits any season, whether it’s freezing winter or hot summer. Cold panna cotta being served straight from the fridge with some fresh chopped strawberries is a perfect refreshing dessert for a sunny day; but if you take it out from the fridge a lit bit ahead of time, while quickly prepare super easy but super aromatic topping, like rosemary-scented mandarins, or quick sauté fresh cubed apples in a butter with a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg – and you have got a nice dessert that warms you up on a cold day.
I have noticed that I make this dessert during cold months here: probably I miss the snow and the white color of panna cotta reminds me winter in my hometown… This time the idea to garnish panna cotta with coconut candies and flakes came to my mind, so I decided to add coconut milk to the mixture instead of using only regular milk or cream.
It looks like a mountain, which is completely covered in snow. Doesn’t, it? and those candies are like small snowballs, that little children make to play in a snow fight.
TIP: If you sprinkle panna cotta with red and pink edible hearts – it can be a lovely dessert to impress your other half on a St.Valentine Day.
I serve panna cotta in glasses, but If you prefer, you can grease cups/ramekins with some oil and pour panna cotta in it, and then when it’s set and firm untold it before serving onto small individual plates.
First of all, I’d like to thank each and every one for the lovely comments and wishes in the previous post. These two months gone so fast.. Being pregnant I’d read somewhere that when you bring a baby home, your life becomes a blur and chaotic. I doubt why is that.. I thought I’d had at least a hour or so between a mealtime. Now I understand how wrong I was. I sleep when I can, shower when I remember and eat when I have a time (needless to say, that now I can eat a cold dinner, which I used to hate before; I reheat my tea a million of times and finally drink it cold). 😀 But! This little guy is worth his weight in gold because he brought an absolute joy into my life. ❤ Last month was a cherry season here.. in supermarkets! Haha. 😀 I adore cherries! I wish they were sold often here so I could eat them every single day! Besides consuming fresh cherries, I made one of the simplest desserts – cherry clafoutis. Lots of sweet cherries in a tender custardish batter, it is a perfect delicious treat.
Clafoutis is a baked French dessert, traditionally made with stoned cherries. Honestly speaking, may be it’s really authentic and stones add a nice almondish aroma, but I prefer to enjoy every bite of the dessert and do not think about that I can crack teeth.. And of course, if I make it for guests I don’t want them to spit out stones. 😉 Enjoy!
Cold days, beautiful pine and spruce trees with toys, lots of gingerbread cookies, smell of mandarins and cinnamon.. How does your holiday look and smell?
Today recipe is a well-known dessert among foodies – panna cotta. Many of you already cooked it or tried in a restaurant, but I’d like to show you the festive presentation, how you can serve the gorgeous-looking dessert to your family and guests during the winter holidays.
Everything in this dessert says ‘winter’: delicate and tender snowflakes (recipe coming soon), smooth and creamy panna cotta that looks almost like a real snow-blanket, rosemary “pine needles”, and of course aromatic mandarin -segments. Another great thing about this dessert is that it looks like you really fussed over it. Shhhh… 😉
You can make panna cotta a day or two ahead, and you will need only to saute mandarin segments and garnish the dessert. But don’t forget to cool mandarins, otherwise panna cotta will melt.
1 mandarin shortbread cookie per cup (recipe is coming)
In a pan, pour cream with milk, add vanilla and sugar, heat (but don’t boil) until sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and let the mixture infuse with vanilla flavour for 20-30 minutes. Then take out the bean, and rewarm the mixture.
In a small cup, add cold water and sprinkle gelatin over it.
Take the pan from the heat, add gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Pour the panna cotta mixture into 4 cups, put cups in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.
For the garnish, in a frying pan add sugar, mandarin segments, zest and rosemary, and saute for 3-5 minutes on a medium-high heat. Add liquor, if using, and saute for few minutes more. Leave to cool.
Garnish each cup with few mandarin segments and one cookie.
Today is the winter solstice, it is an astronomical event that occurs twice a year (summer and winter solstice). Winter solstice is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. During the paganism time in old Russia this day was a special celebration, which was called Yule night. It was a festive and holy day for the honour of greeting the baby-sun named Kolyada, that was born on this night, which slowly but steady began to be stronger and brighter. That means that with each upcoming day nights became shorter, days longer and sun shone brightly and warmly. In the night people had to get together (there was a superstition that to stay alone in this night was unluckily), they set a big festive fire, sang songs and burnt all old and useless stuff; people also prepared chickens and turkey, baked round pies and praised the Sun.
As you can see, I’ve tried to make a sun-looking pie. Rich and sweet pastry holds lemon-scented milky filling and all covered with lightly soured apricot puree. In a word, I liked this bright and tasty pie! It reminds me another pie that I made – ‘cottage cheese and cranberry pie’, so if you liked that one – give a chance to this sunny pie as well. 🙂
*Tvorog is Russian cottage cheese, you can find it in many European or Russian stores.
sweet lemon pastry
100g butter, at room temperature
zest of 1 medium lemon
3-4 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 medium eggs
30g (3 tbsp) brown sugar
30g (3 tbsp) white sugar
60g golden raisins
hot black tea or water, to cover the raisins
2 tsp cornmeal
While the pastry case is baking, prepare the filling.
In a small bowl, put raisins and cover with hot black tea or water. You can also add a tablespoon of cognac or brandy for extra flavour. Leave to soak while making the diary filling.
In a large bowl, whisk tvorog with butter until just combined. In another bowl beat eggs with sugars.
Add lemon zest and juice, vanilla and beaten eggs to the tvorog mixture, beat until just combined.
Drain raisins and mix into the filling along with cornflour.
Pour the filling into the pastry case. Pour the apricot puree over the tvorog filling.
Bake in preheated 190C oven for 45-50 minutes. If the top begins to burn – cover it with foil.
Let it cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then carefully transfer onto the serving plate. Enjoy!
P.S. The filling wasn’t smooth as you can see from the pics, if you like it -ok, if not- you may push tvorog through the sieve.
Sweet lemon pastry
170g butter, at room temperature
50g golden caster sugar
zest of 1 small lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg (40-45g), at room temperature
260g plain flour
Glaze: 1 small beaten egg yolk, optional
In a large bowl, whisk butter with sugar until just creamy. Add lemon zest, vanilla and egg and mix until just combined. Mix in flour. Cover the pastry with plastic wrap and chill overnight or up to 3 days until ready to use.
Roll out 3mm-thick (or as thick as you like) circle to cover your baking pan. You can also make ‘sun rays’ and stick them to the base and sides of the pan, but it’s optional step. If you have any pastry remains, roll out it and cut out cookies, then bake it on a baking tray for 10-12 minutes.
Put the pan with pastry into the freezer for 10 minutes.
Cover the pastry case with foil, add beans/rice/special stones for baking and bake in preheated 190C oven for 20 minutes. Then remove the weight, brush with the glaze (optional) and return to the oven for 5 minutes more.
Apricot Top (optional)
5 small sliced apricots (150g) (or sub with apricot jam)
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp cornflour
20-30g (3 tbsp) golden caster sugar
Beat all ingredients with electric blender into a smooth puree. The apricot top was slightly sour, if you like sweeter -add more sugar.