Thursday, January 31, 2013

Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies

 Some friends believe that chocolate and peanuts are a perfect pair for cookies. They always give Snickers as an example with its unique taste and feeling of peanuts and chocolate. However, I am not a fan of either peanuts or Snickers. Anyways, I decided to see whether I like the pairing of those two in cookies and I used Martha Stewart's recipe of flourless peanut-chocolate cookies which was super easy to follow. The cookies came out pretty delicious, but even their great smell,  inspirational look and taste couldn't make me change my mind about them. I am not a fan of either peanuts or Snickers.


  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts



1. Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit F)/176 Celsius (ºC)
2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, stir together peanut butter, sugar, egg, baking soda, and salt until well combined. stir in chocolate chunks and peanuts.
3.With moistened hands, roll dough, about 1 heaping tablespoon at a time, into balls. place 2 inches apart on two baking sheets lined with baking paper.  
4. Bake until cookies are golden and puffed, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through. 
5. Cool 5 minutes on sheets, transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. 


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cinnamon Poached Pears in Cinnamon Cream Sauce


4 medium ripe pears, peeled
3 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon lemon juice
 1-2 cloves (optional)

For the sauce

200 ml heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1. In a pan big enough to hold the pears snugly, tip in all the ingredients except the pears. 
2. Bring to the boil over medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes to infuse.
3. Drop in the pears and gently poach for about 25-30 minutes over low heat until soft. 
4. Turn off the heat and set aside.

*The pears can be poached up to 2 days ahead and kept in the poaching syrup in the fridge.

For the sauce
1. In a small pan, tip in all the ingredients and mix them well. 
2. Put the pan over low heat and bring to the boil. 
3. Remove from the heat.

To serve
Spread 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon-cream sauce on plates. Drain the pears, and holding them by the stem, place them in the sauce.Serve cold.

Pear Dessert by Linda Apple

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chocolate Coated Milk Pudding Balls

On Emir's birthday this month, I didn't have enough time to make a special birthday cake for the occasion and I felt so bad about it. You know, you want to make someone happy so much, but you are, unfortunately, not given enough time to produce the thing you've been thinking of. It was such a limited time and I didn't have many options to go for. Anyways, necessity is the mother of invention after all and I  figured a way out - chocolate coated milk pudding balls.


1 litre milk
125 grams butter
1 cup flour 
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar

For coating
400 g dark chocolate


1. Mix sugar, flour and vanilla extract in a bowl.
2. Transfer the mixture into a medium saucepan and add in milk.
3. Stir constantly over medium heat and bring it to a boil. 
4. Add in the butter. Continue stirring. The consistency gets thicker as you stir and the mixture stiffens to be rolled into balls.
5. Keep simmering for another 3-4 minutes.
6. Remove from heat and let it cool down completely in room temperature. Then, refrigerate it at for least 3 hours. As it showed, it's better if you refrigerate the pudding overnight.
7. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate. Please see the video on BBC Food techniques
8.  Mold 1  heaped teaspoon of the mixture into a ball and then drop in melted chocolate. 
9. Take the chocolate coated balls gently out and place the balls separately on a tray lined with baking paper.
10. Garnish the balls with walnuts, edible glitter or beads, and crushed cinnamon biscuits or use any other creative idea you can come up with.
11. Refrigerate them again so they get firmer. 

One Sweet World: On the Trail of Chocolate

The cacao tree grows only in the tropics. Yet it's in cooler climes that this plant's beloved product, chocolate, has a voracious following. Europeans lead the pack, with Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium trading off for first place from year to year in per capita chocolate consumption.

Most Europeans take their chocolate in the form of candy. The relatively new concept of selling chocolate in solid form was hatched in London in 1847. Before that, chocolate was for drinking. Probably as early as 1000 B.C., the Olmec were cultivating Central America's native cacao. A thousand years later, the Maya downed shakes of unsweetened chocolate and water. Maya nobles visiting Spain with Dominican friars in 1544 introduced a cocktail of roasted and ground cacao beans, water, wine, and peppers. Sugar was added, and the drink caught on in Europe. 

Chocolate's popularity sparked the spread of cacao cultivation. Trees were imported to the Dutch East Indies in 1778 and Africa in 1822. Though Africa now produces two-thirds of the world's cacao beans , Africans themselves consume little chocolate.  One reason: meltdown. Cocoa butter, the fat of the cacao bean, liquifies near 90°F, making chocolate melt easily in a 98.6°F mouth - or in a hot climate. Candy needs constant refrigeration if it's in a hot place, and most developing countries can't offer that. Additives for heat-resistance  interfere with chocolate's creaminess, so until scientists solve that problem, citizens of cool (or cooled) countries will likely continue as the champion chocolate eaters. 

                                                                                                                    - Margaret G. Zackowitz, National Geographic, April 2004

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Potato and Minced Beef Bake

I came up with this super easy and super yummy recipe a few days ago. If you like meat and potato combinations, you won't regret trying this one. When you give it a try, remember to add one egg or a mixture of half a cup of flour with the same amount of milk. This addition to the mixture would definitely help the bake stick together and hold firmly for slicing. 

400 g minced beef
4-5 medium potatoes, boiled
2 medium onions
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
1 medium tomato
Salt and black pepper
ground paprika

1. Heat the oven to 200 °C.
2. Grate onions and chop the onions and garlic finely.
3. Put the beef, potatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, salt, black pepper, ground pepper, and paprika in a large bowl.

4. Mix all the ingredients and line a rectangular baking pan with baking paper. 

5. Slice the tomato thinly and place the slices at the bottom of the baking pan.

6. Transfer the mixture into the baking pan and level it firmly with a spoon.

7. Bake for 45 minutes in 200 °C. 
8. Remove from the oven and let it cool down on a wire rack. Turn upside down on a larger plate or a serving tray. 

9. Remove the baking paper gently.
10. Slice and serve warm.


Name Calling Sparks Global Food Fight

The word Parmigiano means ''from Parma,'' and when it comes to cheese in Europe, you can take that literally. In 2002 the European Court of Justice ruled only cheese makers in and around Parma, Italy, have rights to use the name Parmigiano Reggiano and its English translation, Parmesan. The cheese is just one item on a long list of several thousand foods, wines, spirits, and beers. Under European Union rules, the only wines that can bear the name Chablis are those bottled in the French region of that name, the only cheese sold as pecorino Toscano has to be made in Tuscany, and, if a new global proposal is accepted, Oscar Mayer will have ti find a new way to spell bologna.

Parmigiano Reggiano

At September 2003 meeting of the 146-nation World Trade Organization, the EU unveiled a shorter list of some 40 ''geographical indications'' - foods and libations named for or associated with European areas. Under the EU-proposed global pact, geographic origin would trump existing trademarks, and many products that lack Old World provenance would have to be renamed. And the EU won't swallow half-baked labels "Rioja-style" and ''imitation Gorgonzola" either.

Sarah Thorn of the Grocery Manufacturers of America takes issue with the EU plan. "Why shouldn't we have rights to names brought over hundreds of years ago? Some are generic. It's too late to ask for them back. 

adapted from Scott Elder's article in National Geographic, July 2004

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Celery Roots, Turnips and Potatoes with Olive Oil

There is still a lot to learn from my mother-in-law. Let me give you the latest example. A couple of days ago, we visited her in her new place downtown and she served us some dishes as usual and one of them was an awesome turnip stew!  I was so amazed by the idea of cooking turnips which might sound a bit weird to you if you come from a place where turnips are cooked  as part of the traditional cuisine in your region. However, to me,  who had been using turnips fresh in salads only, it was such a bright idea. It had never crossed my mind that we can cook turnips. The reason, I think, is that I had not eaten turnips that way in my family or my friend circles ever before. Anyways, I liked the dish so much that I couldn't wait to make it the next day after work. I added celery roots and potatoes to turn the dish into a perfect trio of root vegetables. Cooked slowly over low heat with olive oil and lemon juice, they were so delicious let alone their health benefits! Root vegetables are definitely another reason to love winter!


1 small celery root
3 small turnips
2 small potatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt 
olive oil
1 small lemon, sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup water
dried dill to garnish


1. Peel the turnips, potatoes, and celery roots. Divide them into cubes.
2. Sprinkle a medium saucepan with olive oil and place the celery cubes first and then turnips and potatoes last. You can place thin lemon slices between the layers.
3. Add sugar, salt, freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil and water.
4. Cook over low heat for about 25 minutes until all the vegetables are tender. Check with a fork and continue cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes if they are not tender enough. You can half cup of boiling water if there is no water left.
5. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool down completely. Do not open the lid until the pan feels cold. 
6. Garnish with dried dill and serve cold. 

All about Nectarines


The Nectarine is the smooth-skinned peach of the family Rosaceae and it is thought to have originated from China. It has been known for more than 2,000 years and grown throughout the warmer temperate regions of both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. 

Peaches vs. Nectarines

When the tree shape and leaf characteristics are compared, the peach and nectarine are indistinguishable, but nectarine fruits look more like plums than peaches because of the smooth skin.

As with peaches, nectarines can be white or yellow. When ripe, its smooth skin is a brilliant golden yellow with generous blushes of red. with On average, nectarines are slightly smaller and sweeter than peaches, but with much overlap.

Health Benefits

Nectarines provide vitamin A precursors, B carotene, B Cryptoxanthin, Lycopene, and Lutein which provide the red, orange, and yellow colors to fruits and vegetables.  These phytochemicals are beneficial in the maintenance of heart health, and overall cellular functions. They are also a good source of potassium, flavonoids, and natural fruit sugars for sweetness.

Nectarines are wonderful eaten out of hand and can be used in salads, a variety of fresh and cooked desserts and as a garnish for many hot and cold dishes. Nectarine juice concentrate is an excellent ingredient to add a fruit serving for beverages, cakes, pies, pastries, sauces, jellies and other processed foods like nutrition bars and snacks.

Shopping tip:
Look for fragrant, brightly colored fruit that gives slightly to the touch. Avoid those with bruises or other blemishes as well as those that are hard or overly green. Slightly underripe nectarines can be left to ripen at room temperature for a couple of days.  Ripe fruit should be refrigerated and used within 5 days.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Turnip Salad with Cottage Cheese, Hazelnuts and Pomegranate Dressing

When I posted this photo on Facebook, it became an instant hit which still seems like a mystery to me. I didn't and don't see what is so terrific about the combination of the ingredients in this salad. I, once again, used all the possible vegetables, dairy products, and nuts on hand together. Fine, it looks pretty appetizing though. If you can find some pomegranate dressing, use it freely with some olive oil, you won't regret. I won't make a long list of things in the salad, however, it's better to inspire others with ideas. So, next time when you feel like a bowl of mixed salad, remember to add lettuce, turnips, cottage cheese, carrots, hazelnuts (delicious right out of the shell), and dried dill into the bowl and dress your salad with a mixture of olive oil and pomegranate sauce.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

(Meyer) Lemon Bars

I happened to find this recipe after I fell in love with photo. I saw the photograph first and with a few google tricks I got the recipe from Treats. However, when I read the ingredients, I had a feeling that the taste of so many egg yolks used for the filling would ruin the overall lemon flavour of these great bars. To prevent such a catastrophic effect, reduce the number of egg yolks to 4, use only 1 egg and add more heavy cream (around 200 ml). You can even add 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. Slice nice even squares with a silky smooth texture and serve with black tea. It's such a wonderful evening treat on a rainy evening in Sarajevo. Don't worry if you can't find Meyer lemons around, use any lemons nearby. They would work.


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more to sprinkle on the finished bars
pinch of salt
8 Tbls unsalted butter, still cool and cut into 8 pieces

7 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 cup + 2 Tbls sugar
2/3 cup meyer lemon juice (from about 4-5 medium lemons)
finely grated zest from the lemons
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tbls unsalted butter, cut in to 4 pieces
3 Tbls heavy cream


For the crust
1. Cover a 9-inch square cake pan with two sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil, perpendicular to each other.  Spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
2. Put the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor and process briefly, about 2 seconds. Add the butter pieces and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then process until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second pulses. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared cake pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the entire pan bottom.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

For the filling

1. In a medium saucepan whisk together the egg yolks and whole eggs until combined. Add the sugar, meyer lemon juice, zest and salt until well combined, about 30 seconds.  
2. Add the butter pieces and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the curd thickens to a thin sauce-like consistency (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), about 6 minutes.
3. Immediately pour the curd through a fine-mesh steel strainer set over a medium bowl.  Stir in the heavy cream and then pour the curd into the warm crust.
4. Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, about 10 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes.  Remove the bars from the pan and transfer to a cutting board.  
5. Cut into 2 inch squares, wiping the knife blade clean between cuts as necessary. Sieve powdered sugar over the bars, if you'd like.

Za'atar Manakeesh with Fresh Tomatoes and Feta

''Manaqish is a Palestinian breakfast specialty that is likely to have come to the Arabian Peninsula with Palestinians who were making the pilgrimage to Mecca. Originally, women baked dough in communal ovens in the morning and prepared smaller portions of dough, which they topped with spices and eggs, so that they wouldn't have to make a separate breakfast.'' says Amy Riolo in her book Arabian Delights: Recipes & Princely Entertaining Ideas from the Arabian Peninsula

Well, I didn't have the faintest idea that I was making some kind of manakeesh until I read this passage. The reason why I ended up with this manakeesh with tomatoes, feta and za'atar is that I didn't have anything else to cook in the fridge. Whatever the reason would be, women have had such a sophisticated mind to come up with practical solutions to hunger-related problems at home. Even when you have only flour, water and salt on hand, the result might be fantastic most of the time only with the sprinkle of some spices

As the garnish this time, I used za'atar that a friend of mine brought from Saudi Arabia and it was such a treat for all of us at home on a Sunday morning to the accompaniment of black tea. I only regret not having been generous while sprinkling of it. Here comes the photo and the recipe.


For the Manakeesh:


500 g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons dried yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
about 300 ml luke-warm water


1 To make the dough, sift the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl.
2 Make a well in the centre and add in the water and knead till the dough has come together leaving the sides of the bowl clean.
3 Transfer onto a clean work surface and knead for about 10 minutes till the dough is smooth and elastic.
4 Lightly grease the bowl and transfer the dough into the bowl and cover with cling film and leave it in a warm place till it has doubled in bulk, for about 1 1/2 hours.
5 Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 220°C.



1.5 -2 cups feta
1-2 medium ripe tomatoes
olive oil

1.Slice the tomatoes and crush the cheese with a fork.
2. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil.
3. Top the dough with the cheese and tomato slices. Sprinkle with olive oil and za'atar.
4. Bake it until crust is golden brown and crisp at 200C, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Chinese Dumplings with Minced Beef

I received a pack of cards with illustrations showing items from Chinese culture including traditional food and drinks. The first card was one with dumplings on it giving some information on the word itself in Chinese language. I was happy to see that people noticed my curiosity in Chinese culture especially Chinese cuisine. So, inspired by the first card in the pack and motivated by the hunger we felt on Saturday afternoon, I decided to make some Chinese dumplings with minced beef. However, since the necessary ingredients to stuff the dumplings with, following Ken Hom's recipe on BBC Food Recipes, were difficult to get immediately, I decided to use the same recipe with a slightly different stuffing a completely different sauce which gave the dumplings an air of traditional Turkish cuisine. You can compare the original recipe with mine below and see the changes. Well, let me tell you about the result. It was terrific! Although it was my first time, it was a success. We devoured them right away!

Interestingly, dumplings can be found in Bosnian cuisine in a different shape and they are called "klepe" in the local language. The photo shows two different stuffings, one with spinach and the next one with minced beef.


For the dough
140 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
125 g very hot water
For the stuffing 
110 g minced beef 
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion 
1 clove garlic
½tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil

To cook
1 liter water
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsps salt

For the dipping sauce
16 tbsps yogurt
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or minced
ground paprica
1 tbsp olive oil




  1. For the dough, place the flour into a large bowl and stir the hot water gradually into it, mixing all the time with a fork, until the water is incorporated. Add more water if the mixture seems dry.
  2. Tip the dough mixture onto a clean work surface and knead it with your hands, dusting the dough with a little flour if it's sticky. Continue kneading until it is smooth - this should take about eight minutes. 
  3. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover it with a clean damp towel and let it rest for about 20 minutes.
  4. For the stuffing, while the dough is resting, combine the stuffing ingredients in a large bowl and mix them together thoroughly. Set aside.
  5. After the resting period, take the dough out of the bowl and knead it again for about five minutes, dusting with a little flour if it is sticky.
  6. Once the dough is smooth, shape it into a roll about 23cm long and about 2.5cm in diameter, using your hands.
  7. With a sharp knife, slice the roll into 16 equal-sized pieces. Using your hands, roll each of the dough pieces into a small ball and then, with a rolling pin, roll each ball into a small, round, flat, 'pancake' about 9cm in diameter.
  8. Arrange the round skins on a lightly floured tray and cover them with a damp kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out until you are ready to use them.

9. Place about two teaspoons of filling in the centre of each 'pancake' and moisten the edges with water. Fold the dough in half and pinch together with your fingers. 

10. Pleat around the edge, pinching with your fingers to seal well. The dumpling should look like a small Cornish pasty with a flat base and rounded top.
11.Transfer each finished dumpling to the floured tray and keep it covered until you have stuffed all the dumplings in this way.

12. * Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Put the dumplings into the boiling water. Simmer gently for about 12 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue to cook for a further two minutes. 
13.  For the dipping sauce, combine all the dipping sauce ingredients, except paprika, together in a small bowl.
14.  To serve, remove the dumplings from the pan with a large slotted spoon and serve with the dipping sauce. Sprinkle with paprika.

* You can, alternatively, cook the dumplings gently in a saucepan for about two minutes until they are lightly browned. In that case, remember to heat some vegetable oil into the saucepan first and then add the dumplings.