Lamb and Pearl Barley soup

Hi guys, how is your foodie-life going on out there? It’s such a good weather now here – in Dubai, I’ve heard that this year March is one of the coldest months of the past 10 years! Believe me or not, but I’ve been living here approximately the same time and it really seems colder than usual, especially in the evening or those very windy days, that even with the jacket on I want to go in and hide somewhere with a cup of hot tea. 😄 

And this warm and nourishing soup exactly what I need these days. I’ve been enjoying it for the last couple of weeks, as I cooked it twice and both time in a large pot so it will be enough for at least two days. This soup combines Russian and Middle Eastern flavors and textures: pearl barley is a well-known grain in my home country, and lamb is a popular meat in the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries.

The soup is good in its simplicity, even though it takes more time to prepare it comparing to other soups, but you will like the result – flavorful and delicious thick soup. Using all spices is a another little secret to get wonderful aroma!

“Lamb

  • Servings: “4-5”
  • Difficulty: “very
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Dear readers, sorry but the ingredients’ weight is approximately. Next time I will cook it – I will measure fore sure. 😉

What You’ll Need 

  • 800g lamb, with bone preferably 
  • 100g pearl barley (you need about 2-3 Tbsp uncooked barley per person)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 medium capsicum
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp EV olive oil
  • 2 tsp whole coriander, crushed a bit
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • S&P to taste
  • some fresh chopped coriander, optional
  • Arabic or any other bread to serve


How To Make It 

  • Night before or at least 3 hours before cooking, cover washed pearl barley with cold water.
  • In a large pot, add lamb and cover with cold water. Bring to boil, remove all foam, reduce heat to medium-low, cover with a lid and boil for 1hour. Take the meat from the broth, and cut into medium pieces.
  • Drain pearl barley and then add to the pot, cook for 40 minutes.
  • Cut vegetables into small cubes, and add to soup along with bay leaf. Season the soup with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook the soup for 20 minutes more. 
  • Tip: Add some hot-boiling water if the soup is too thick for your taste.
  • Meanwhile, in a small frying pan, heat the oil and fry onion on a medium heat until it’s just transparent. Add coriander and cumin seeds, and garlic if using, and fry for 1 minutes more. Transfer to the soup.
  • Turn the heat off.
  • Serve hot with some bread. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander, if desired.

Enjoy!

Family Cake recipe

Hello guys, today I share with you one of my favorite cake recipes. Moreover, it is a family recipe which I got from my mum, who used to prepare the cake for me and my sister when we lived all together. I wrote down the recipe in my old notebook and used it quite often ever since. Mum usually makes it “zebra cake”: half chocolate and half vanilla-flavored, or just vanilla with raisins. As you can see, the recipe is very versatile. You can make it all-the-time favorite vanilla, add currants or dry cranberries, add any fruits you have on hand. The cake was cooked so many times, that believe me even very beginner in baking can handle it. It is the lifesaver cake – the recipe I always turn to if I need the tried&tasted cake when you need the trusted cake recipe that always turns nice and delicious.
KEKS-3
Below you can find the basic recipe, and adopted one like on the photos. I topped the cake with fresh sliced pears and some frozen blackberries, plus used brown sugar instead of white for more brownish color and caramel taste.
Pear&blackberry cardamom  cake
 Also, I’d love to welcome everyone to the virtual party – Fiesta Friday, that I’m co-hosting today, where bloggers join together and “bring” delicious food, share beautiful photos, chat and having fun with each other (to join click here, where you find ‘linkup’). I haven’t participated a long time and really miss these parties, and can’t wait to see what others bloggers will bring!
Family Cake

Family Cake: Basic recipe

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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What You’ll Need
125g butter, at room temperature
125g white sugar
2 eggs
a pinch of salt
vanilla
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder or 1/2 tsp baking soda, dissolved in lemon juice
50ml milk
How to Make It
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Whisk the butter with sugar until pale (just a bit, do not over whisk).
  3. Beat in eggs one by one until just incorporated along with salt and vanilla.
  4. Sift the flour along with baking powder.
  5. Mix in milk.
  6. Pour the batter into greased (and lined if needed) baking tin.
  7. Bake for 1 hour.
  8. Allow to cool slightly in the pan and then carefully transfer to the serving plate.
  9. Serve warm with a cup of freshly brewed tea.
Enjoy!
 

Pears&blackberries cardamom cake

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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What You’ll Need
120g butter, at room temperature
80g brown sugar
2 eggs
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 whole cardamoms, used only crushed seeds
240g plain flour*
2 tsp baking powder*
*or 240g self-raising flour
50ml milk
3-4 pears, sliced
lemon juice
some frozen blackberries
1-2 tbsp demerara sugar
few hazelnuts, chopped, optional
How to Make It
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Whisk the butter with sugar until pale (just a bit, do not overwhisk).
  3. Beat in eggs one by one until just incorporated along with spices.
  4. Sift the flour along with baking powder.
  5. Mix in milk.
  6. Pour the batter into greased (and lined if needed) baking tin.
  7. Slice pears, drizzle with lemon juice. Arrange slices on the top, slightly push into the batter. Scatter over frozen blueberries. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and nuts, if desired.
  8. Bake for 1 hour.
  9. Allow to cool slightly in the pan and then carefully transfer to the serving plate.
  10. Serve warm with a cup of freshly brewed tea.
Enjoy!

Coconut panna cotta

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.
Coconut panna cotta
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.
Coconut panna cotta/cup
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.
panna cotta with coconut milk
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.

Coconut panna cotta

What You’ll Need
2 tsp gelatin powder
3 tbsp cold water
1/2 can coconut milk (about 180ml)
250ml whipping cream (or heavy cream)
60g white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
coconut candies and flakes for garnish, optional
How to Make it
  1. In a small bowl, add cold water and sprinkle with gelatin, and let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small pan over medium heat,  heat the coconut milk, whipping cream, vanilla and sugar until sugar is dissolved, (but not simmer). Remove from the heat.
  3. Add softened gelatin to the creamy mixture and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved.
  4. Divide the pan cotta mixture evenly among prepared cups/glasses. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or overnight.
  5. Garnish with coconut candies and flakes before serving.
Enjoy!
Coconut panna cotta//with coconut candies

Chocolate cherry cookies

Hi there! It’s been a while, and I kept telling myself I’d get back to blogging tomorrow, in a day, a week, etc, but finally, I’m here writing the post. Hope you all had w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l holidays, full of surprises, lovely moments and delicious food. What is your favorite sweet treat during winter? Hot chocolate, spiced orange cake or just lots of chocolates? I’m still eating chocolates from the Christmas tree (yes, it’s still in our house, and probably will be here until the beginning of February).Chocolate Cherry cookies

I adore dark chocolate with cherry pieces in it, and I like cookies: good, buttery with those tiny little dots of pure vanilla in it. So, I combined my both desires and prepared these beautiful cookies. I’m thinking you will really love it. Even though, I prefer vanilla cookies over chocolate, but not this time. Better you cook and try, and you will never buy a cookie. Ok, maybe you will but nothing taste like homemade cookies, prepared with high-quality ingredients and the most important – your passion and love. Give these a try and you will be as happy with them as I was.ChocoCookies

Triple the quantity and take some to share with your friends or co-workers, or maybe even a neighbor.ChocoCherryCookies

Chocolate cherry cookies

What you’ll need
100g mild dark chocolate
50g dark chocolate with cherry pieces, or plain dark chocolate
180g plain flour
30g cocoa
1.5 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
120g butter, at room temperature
50g light brown sugar
50g white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
100g dried cherries
100g chopped/slivered almonds
20-30g dark chocolate with cherry pieces, optional
How to make it
  1. Chop 150g chocolate or break into pieces, and put into heatproof bowl and microwave on low power or melt over a pan of simmering water.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk butter with sugar for 5 minutes or until light. Whisk in vanilla extract and then eggs (one by one). Add the melted chocolate and stir well.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the batter mixture and stir well. Stir in cherries, almonds and chopped chocolate (if using).
  5. Line the baking sheet with baking paper and scoop out equal portions in some distance apart. Make 14 equal balls, flatten them.
  6. Bake in preheated 180C oven for 15 minutes.
Enjoy!
Chocolate cookies with cherries&almonds

 

Marinated roasted peppers

 Hello, dear friends and all foodies! I’ve been away for awhile.  The life and time with my little pie fly by so fast that I haven’t realized that summer is already over and autumn almost too, and I haven’t posted a recipe or even a small note. Hope someone miss me, because I’m happy to come back with new ideas and recipes. 😀
 When you think autumn what do you imagine in your mind, I bet not only beautiful yellow and reddish leaves and trees in the woods, also lots of pumpkins and probably carrots. That’s not bad at all, I love those vegetables too; its bright color and wonderful taste turn a dull and boring day into a cheerful one. But I decided to go another way and prepare bright, aromatic and tasty marinated roasted peppers. If you have never tried to make those at home, you have to! Really! It is one of the quickest dishes, and no need to buy those expensive jars from a store! Make your own! The final result is fabulous, you can use peppers in so many ways! One of the recipes will be in the next post, don’t miss it!
MRP-1
 But first, you need to roast bell peppers. I usually cut them into halves, remove all seeds and stems, arrange on a tray (line it with a foil – less mess), then drizzle with some oil, and roast in the oven for 40-60 minutes. When they are done, pell off the skin, it comes off very easily. At this step you can stop and eat them, for example on a slice of sunflower seeds bread😀 or be patient, slice them, arrange into jars along with couple of garlic cloves, rosemary, and chili flakes, optionally – a good pinch of sea salt, plus a splash of white balsamic vinegar,  and of course drizzle with some oil (I prefer extra virgin oil, but you can use any you like/have).
 I keep peppers in this marinade for a week in the fridge (honestly, they rarely stay that long). And what an amazing smell when you open a jar!
MRP-2
If you want to store them longer, I suggest to heat the marinade and use sterilized jars.
About the recipe: I don’t have any exact ingredients, just add as much as you like/feel. Happy cooking!
MRP-3