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!

Russian Cabbage stew with mushrooms

What is y our comfort winter food? Is it roasting chicken or meaty stew? Or maybe you are making lots of sweet pies during cold days? Everyone has their own preferences and favorite dishes that warm you up when outside is cold, and undoubtedly, such food should be warm, aromatic and delicious.

 For me, one of such winter dishes is stewed cabbage. The recipe is very simple, easy to cook and affordable. White cabbage is not expensive, and nowadays available all year round. As I already mentioned the recipe is really simple but takes time and patience to prepare, you have to stir cabbage regular so its color will be nicely dark but not burned. I used dry mushrooms along with fresh, as they add amazing flavor and uniquw taste to the whole dish; if it’s the right season and you are like to get fresh wild mushrooms – use it (like chanterelle or little honey mushrooms, or fresh porcini). It is a perfect vegetarian dish. If desired extra protein – serve the cabbage with roasted chicken or sausages. 

Russian Cabbage stew with mushrooms

What You’ll Need:

30g dry porcini mushrooms

300g brown mushrooms, sliced 

1 large brown onion, sliced or chopped

2 large carrots, grated 

1kg white cabbage, shredded

100ml tomato sauce or 2 tbsp tomato paste

2 bay leaves

1 tsp whole coriander seeds

150-200ml hot water

sea salt to taste

For garnish: fresh chopped dill, parsley, spring onions

How to Make It:

In a medium bowl cover dry mushrooms with hot boiled water. Leave for 30 minutes, drain, wash, chop and leave aside until needed.

In a large pan, heat oil and butter, add fresh mushrooms. Fry on a medium heat for 10 minutes or until liquid from mushrooms is evaporated (if will be any). Season a little bit and transfer to a bowl until needed. 

In the same large pan, add a tablespoon of oil if needed, onion and carrots. Fry on a medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add half of the shredded cabbage. Stir and sauté for 5 minutes more. Add the rest cabbage, tomato sauce or paste, spices, stir well and sauté on the medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring even now and then. At this step if the cabbage begins brown too much, add a little bit of water, stir and continue to sauté. 

Add again a little bit water if needed, stir, cover with the lid and stew for 20-30 minutes more, stirring every now and then. 

When the cabbage is almost ready, add fresh and dry mushrooms. Cover and stew for 10 minutes more. Adjust the salt.

Sprinkle with fresh herbs if desired. Serve warm with a slice of rye bread. 

Can be eaten alone or with some roasted chicken, grilled sausages. 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!

Wholewheat Cherry Pie (with pecans)

Hi all! I supposed to post this recipe long time when cherries were still in the season..and I was not sure at first whether to publish the recipe or not but luckily nowadays you can buy frozen cherries in any large supermarket and it’s not a bad substitution at all. So, go ahead and make this delicious beauty, especially if you already know that cherries are a good source of vitamin C and contain some antioxidants. With crunchy streusel on top – it is a perfect treat at any time of the day!Wholewheat Cherry Pie (with pecans)
I used fresh sweet dark cherries if you can’t get it, use sour and add a bit more sugar. And do not refreeze frozen berries, scatter them over the pie straight from the fridge. Also if you prefer brown sugar to the white one, you can use it; probably it works even better: the taste will be richer and the color more golden.
PecanPie-1

Wholewheat Cherry Pie (with pecans)

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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I used a 20cm square baking pan
 
What You’ll Need
150g butter, soften
75g white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
2 eggs
250g wholewheat flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
50g ground oats (I used medium oatmeal)
200-300g fresh sweet cherries, pitted
Streusel (crumble topping)
4 tbsp wholewheat flour
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp butter, softened
2-3 tbsp chopped pecans (or walnuts)
How to Make it
  1. For the batter, beat softened butter with sugar until slightly pale.
  2. Add vanilla and salt, and beat in eggs one by one until just combined.
  3. Mix in flour (no need to sift) along with baking powder and oats.
  4. Spread the batter on a baking pan (lined with baking paper if needed), scatter cherries.
  5. For the streusel, mix the flour and sugar together in a bowl. Rub in butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in chopped nuts.
  6. Sprinkle the streusel over the pie.
  7. Bake in preheated 200C oven for 45 minutes.*
  8. Take the pan out from the oven, allow to cool slightly in the pan and then put on the serving plate.
*Note: if the pie begins brown too much, loosely cover with a piece of foil, and continue to bake.
Enjoy!
PecanCherryPie

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