Homemade pastry cream – Basic recipes

pastry creamI’m starting a new series of post in this blog called “basic recipes”. The name says it all, there will be some basic recipes that are easy to make and you may adapt in thousands ways. The first one is a sweet one, vanilla pastry cream basic recipe, and some tips and tricks on how to completely change its flavour.

I use part cream and part milk to make my pastry cream, for a more velvety texture and a more luscious flavour, but feel free to replace the cream with milk. I use different ways to add flavour like using spices: vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, or zest from orange or lemon, almond extract is also a very nice choice.

You may use pastry cream for many desserts: to fill tarts or pies, to fill layered cakes, to fill eclairs or muffins, or just eat it by spoon like a pudding with some fresh fruits aside. My little secret to make pastry cream is mixing everything together and cooking it in medium heat. You have to stir the mix for about 20 minutes, but on the other hand you don’t need to temper the eggs, or use many dishes.

If you’re wondering what to do with all the leftover egg whites I suggest you to make coconut macaroons, almond mini-muffins or sesame crisps. Continue reading

Tomato soup with poached egg – an amazing summer dish

Tomato soupOne of the main things I’ve enjoyed in my new home is meeting so many interesting persons. One of them was Roni, the guy who helped us assemble the new furniture. He was so loud and happy and had tried so many things in life; it was just amazing.

When Roni was young he worked as a cook in a fish restaurant and I don’t remember how we ended up talking about tomato soup. Roni’s secret to make an amazing tomato soup was adding a poached egg, lightly cooked. How come I never thought about it.

So here I am sharing with you my favorite tomato soup recipe with a lightly cooked poached egg. It is perfect for summer, when the tomatoes are so juicy and tasty, and all we are looking for are light meals. If you’re looking for other savory meals you may find many recipes in the blog.

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Double chocolate rye muffins inspired by Green Kitchen Stories

There is an amazing couple out there that makes healthy eating so easy and delicious and has been an inspiration for millions of people, me  included, Luise and David from Green Kitchen Stories. I’ve cooked many recipes from their blog and app and I completely love them.

Since I got a big batch of rye flour and I wanted to play a little bit with it, the first place I checked for inspiration was Green Kitchen story. They’ve got a recipe for double chocolate rye muffins, which I wanted to try since a long time. I used it as a base and created my own version of it.

The double chocolate rye muffins are so good and quite healthy, you can enjoy them for breakfast. I’m sure they’ll be a children favorite so don’t hesitate to try them. In case you are curios and want to try other muffins recipes you can find plenty of them in the blog.

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Baked potatoes with homemade aioli sauce

Who doesn’t enjoy some baked potatoes with a nice sauce? Personally I love it. The smell and taste of baked potatoes is so good, while playing with different sauces is so much fun.

The trick to prepare the best baked potatoes is to boil them for few minutes. It helps keeping them soft and creamy in the insight, while they form an amazing crust on the outside while they are baking.

I never tried or heard about aioli sauce until recently. I enjoyed it in a small bistro in Dusseldorf and from that day, I just wanted to recreate it. I’m not very close to the traditional recipe, but that’s how I like it. I would love if you could share with me what you think of this recipe and what’s your favourite aioli sauce recipe.

I love aioli over baked potatoes, but it also makes a great sauce for the sandwiches, fish or chicken fillet or as a dressing for the salads.

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Almond and dried apricots cake covered in white chocolate glaze, an everyday and special occasion cake

Almond and dried apricots cake was made keeping my mom in mind. She is such a picky eater.

My mom loves nuts and dried fruits and she definitely loves a good but small piece of cake, but it should be the right one. Sweet but not too sweet, spicy but not too spicy, super moist and soft and with an extra something that makes it amazing.

My happiness was beyond words when she loved this almond and dried apricots cake, asked for more and wanted the recipe to make it herself. This cake combines dried apricots and toasted almonds, that give it such a nice texture and is flavoured with powdered cardamom, which I completely adore. In case you can’t find it vanilla or cinnamon are fine to spice up this cake, but if you can find it please don’t skip it, since it matches so well with the flavours of dried apricots and toasted almonds.

You may play with different nuts and dried fruits, like hazelnuts & dried figs or walnuts and raisins. It’s all up to you.

To bring this almond and dried apricots cake to a whole new level I covered it in white chocolate glaze and some flaked almonds. You may skip both of them if you prepare this cake on regular basis, to save some calories, but I strongly suggest to use it if you prepare this cake for any special occasion, like having friends coming over or preparing it for your mom. And of course you may use a dark or milk chocolate glaze, instead of white chocolate, but in this case just add the amount of cream up to 100 ml.

If you’re looking for other sweet recipes you can find many of them in this blog’s sweet session.

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Japrak – a traditional dish that brings on so many memories

One of my favorite traditional dishes is japrak (dolma). It is prepared in spring when the nature is so generous with greens. Japraks (dolmas) are cooked in all Balkan countries, Middle East and Central Asia. They’re basically vine leaves stuffed with greens and rice. Many recipes call for meat, but I prefer them without.

I’m pretty sure japraks bring a lot of memories to all of my Albanian readers and will make curious the others.

I’m sharing with you my family recipe of japrak with just a small change. I added a little bit of ground cumin and powdered garlic for flavour. Japraks seem difficult to prepare, but believe me they aren’t. They just require time and patience, but the result is so rewarding. They’re perfect with some yogurt or Albanian cold yogurt soup, for which I will have a dedicated post soon.

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Tahini, olive oil and dates cake

I love browsing around the internet and discovering new blogs that inspire me. Eat in my kitchen is one of my latest discoveries and I’m sharing with you the first recipe from this blog that I had fun experimenting with. It’s a date and tahini cake, with an amazing nutty flavor that stole my heart in the first bite.

I like to use rye flour for this cake, but you may replace it with all purpose flour if you don’t like it, or if you can’t find it). I really like the dense texture rye flour brings to this cake and also all the nutrients.

Also I’m not a whipped cream girl, I’m a labneh or Greek yogurt girl, so I replaced the whipped cream with a sauce prepared with greek yogurt and honey.

I enriched the flavours with ground cardamom and added few tablespoons of black tahini. I really love this unconventional cake and I found it perfect for breakfast since is not very sweet, has a lot of fibres from rye flour and good fat from olive oil and tahini.


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Arugula and lentils salad

The weather gets warmer every day and I naturally crave salads. I love a good salad for dinner and sometimes even for lunch. They’re so refreshing,  tasty and so beautiful, full of colors and shapes from all the vegetables. Today I’m sharing with you one of my favorite salads which is so easy that I wasn’t sure if I should share the recipe. It is a salad, but since it includes lentils and nuts it keeps you full for many hours, so consider having it also for lunch.

It packs well in a jar or glass bowl and it is perfect to take with you to work. Just don’t forget to add salt and pepper and the dressing just before serving.

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Vegetarian black bean burgers

Black beans are a real treasure. They’re packed with proteins, fibers and minerals, and have a meaty texture which makes them popular in vegetarian dishes. One of my favorite things to cook with black beans are “black bean burgers”. They are packed with spicy flavour and are moist in the inside with a nice crust in the outside.

Black bean burgers are very easy to make and match perfectly with yogurt sauce or a nice salad, apart from the classic form, inside of a bun with cheese, tomatoes and lettuce.

A few thoughts on the recipe :

  • I love them with lots of spices, that’s why the list of spices may seem a bit long, but you may go with the traditional “salt” and “pepper” if you like.
  • I like to cook from scratch, since this way I have more control on what I am cooking so I almost always use uncooked beans and cook them myself, but you may go with canned beans, since there is no difference in flavour.
  • I love to make bean burgers with black beans but white beans work perfectly well too.
  • As a seeds addict I’ve added 1/4 sunflower seeds to this burgers, but  if you don’t have them on hand or simply, don’t like seeds, you may omit them.

I hope I’ve tempted you enough to try them and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Cocoa hummus – an amazing healthy spread for your toast and not only

You already know that I’m a hummus addict and also a chocoholic. They sound like unrelated things, but apparently they’re not. Cocoa hummus is a real thing and tastes heavenly. The idea to experiment with cocoa hummus wasn’t mine. It practically came as a challenge from Ingrid Xh. a fellow foodie who is behind Bonvivant blog. Bonvivant is so interesting, it guides you through bars, restaurants and bistros in Tirana and not only, sharing her experience and thoughts. It has become my guide lately and I’m pretty sure it will become yours too, so go check it out.

Now coming back to cocoa hummus, all I have to say is that is amazing. It is easy peasy to make, has a spreadable consistency, is very healthy and tastes better than any chocolate spread you may have tried. I’m sure that this low sugar, low fat and high fibre spread  will easily substitute Nutella in your children diet, so what can be better than that?

The ingredients you need to make cocoa hummus are simple: chickpeas, tahini, cocoa and maple syrup. You may replace tahini with every nut butter you like, like peanut butter or almond butter, and also you can easily replace maple syrup with honey. You may add cinnamon or other spices you like, it all depends on your taste. The chickpeas are tender, so there is no need for a high speed blender to make cocoa hummus.

Cocoa hummus tastes great on toast, waffles, fruits and even oatmeal. It tastes even better with a spoon straight from the jar 😛  I think it will work well even to frost a cake or cupcakes but haven’t tried it yet, so in case anyone tries let me know.

For all of you who love nature and especially animals, the good news is that this recipe is vegan and can be part of your daily diet.

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