Buttery, flaky, all-purpose pie crust (pate brisee) – basic recipes

Pie crust is the second recipe in “Basic recipe section” in this blog. It is an amazing recipe that can be used for sweet and savory dishes. I love pie crust because the dough can be prepared in advance and kept in fridge for some days or freezer for some months.

You may use pie crust for quiches, savory pies, vegetable galettes, fruit pies, fruit galettes, tarts etc. You may adopt pie crust in version of mini-pies, mini-tarts or mini-galettes and have portion size treats that can be adapted to everyone taste.

This is my basic recipe for pie crust, which produces an amazing, flaky and buttery dough. I sometimes play with it by flavouring the dough with spices or lemon zest which makes my dishes even more flavourful. I also like to replace part of the flour in my basic pie crust recipe with different flours like whole wheat flour, oatmeal flour or almond flour, the result is a little more dense, but still buttery and delicious.

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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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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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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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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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Cauliflower steak

The cauliflower steak hit internet years ago. It is a creation of Dan Barber, one of the most amazing modern chefs and one of the most dedicated advocates of farm to table concept. Barber uses every part of cauliflower and combines the perfectly roasted parts with a creamy cauliflower puree.

I felt in love with cauliflower steak the first moment I tried it. I love to serve it over hummus for a full and hearty meal. You may serve it as a side dish accompanied by fish or chicken fillet, or just as it is for a quick low calorie dinner. Continue reading

The basic granola recipe

I’ve been quiet busy this period, so I just needed to relax, even from the kitchen. So I’m not sharing any cookie, cake or comfort meal recipe, but I’m going to the basics, GRANOLA.

Granola is basically baked oatmeal flakes with nuts, seeds and dried fruits. Once you master a basic recipe you may play endlessly with the mix-ins and spices to find the perfect combination for you. Granola is perfect to top almost anything from smoothies and yogurt to dessert, or even salads.  I almost cannot live without homemade granola in my pantry. It not only tastes amazing but is so healthy, made with whole grains, unrefined oil and sweetened naturally. The recipe I’m sharing with you is my basic granola recipe, that you may adapt to your taste. You may experiment with spices, nuts and sweeteners.

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Hummus, a Middle East treasure – the basic recipe

Hummus is a dip or spread made form mashed chickpeas with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and cumin. It is a Middle East dish, but its popularity has now crossed continents. Hummus is so simple yet tastes heavenly. The best things in life are the simple things, aren’t they? <3

The most wonderful thing about hummus is that is a great medium for experimentation. You may add different spices you like :

  • coriander
  • paprika
  • cinnamon
  • dried chilli flakes.

You may experiment with adding

  • chopped red pepper
  • olives
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • caramelized onions
  • lemon zest
  • different seeds.

It’s fun also adding a little piece of cooked beetroot or a handful of spinach, for extra flavour and amazing colours.

The recipe I’m sharing with you is the basic hummus recipe, a great base that lets you experiment with different flavours. Hummus is served as a spread on flatbread, as a dip for vegetables, as an accompaniment to grilled chicken, fish or cauliflower steaks.

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Mushroom risotto – the perfect comfort food

Mushroom risotto is one of my favourite comfort foods. The combination of creamy risotto with mushrooms has some kind of magic in it. It complements very well grilled meats and chicken but stands perfect also on its own. As every type of risotto it is labour of love. Cook it with love and with the best ingredients you can find and you’ll end up with an irresistibly smooth, creamy risotto. For a more elegant flavour I like to cook mushrooms with a sprig of fresh rosmarine. Continue reading