We got to shake things up once in a while. Let’s beat the heat of the summer. Let’s cook cold soup. Let’s eat something pink.
Šaltibarščiai, it was the name that caught my attention in the first place and no, I am not able to pronounce it either. Red beet, cold kefir and dill sealed the deal. This soup is as good as I anticipated it to be and it feels as good as I needed it to be. Around here in the Southeast summer has us in its grip and I don’t think we will be able to shake it off for awhile. Salads are already coming out of my ears and cold soup strikes me as a nice change of pace.
Are you a kefir-newbie? Kefir is like cultured buttermilk, a fermented milk drink full of protein and vitamins. However kefir is rather different in preparation than buttermilk and is for sure more tangy and thicker. It’s called the drink of the hundred year olds, because it is said that the people in Caucasus, who enjoy and love drinking plentiful kefir, are getting as old as Methuselah. Unfortunately kefir is not available everywhere, although it’s my first choice for this soup, buttermilk with a little bit more lemon juice is a good alternative.
Another goody of this soup is that you can make it ahead, you should actually because as most cold stirred dishes, it needs a few hours to develop more flavor. Enjoy!
Šaltibarščiai – cold pink soup
- 1 liter/quart kefir
- 2 small red beets, cooked, cooled and coarsely grated
- 2-3 green onions, chopped
- 1 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and cut into ½-inch pieces
- juice from 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh dill (about 6 springs), finely chopped
- 4 hard cooked eggs
- 4 medium potatoes, cooked and peeled
- Stir kefir, beets, green onions, cucumber and ¾ of the dill. Season to taste with lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper.
- Place the soup in your refrigerator for a few hours (but if you are hungry go for it).
- Serve in individual bowls with an egg and sprinkled with the remaining dill. Originally you would eat the boiled potato on the side, I prefer them cooked in the skin, cooled and chopped in the soup.
Alternative to the kefir you can also use buttermilk or any mix of yoghurt, buttermilk and sour cream if you like. Add more lemon juice if you prefer your soup tangy, it also brightens up the flavor.
You can also use pickled red beets, but start with less lemon juice or you might want to skip it.
I also tried a version where I pureed kefir and red beets, although I prefer to have more texture with this soup, it was still very good.
In the last couple of weeks I had a fair share of grilled food, insanely much more than usually. Obviously one of the reasons is (needless to mention reasons, but just for the sake of it), it’s the time of the year where you try anything not to heat up the house. Although cakes and cookies are a reasonable exemption of this rule, I tried to avoid cranking up the oven and cooking outside makes very much more sense and for sure extra fun. However the main reason is the food is always better no matter, if you fire up some veggies or meats or even fruits. If you put some BBQ sauce on it, it’s even more amazing (doesn’t go well with fruit through).
A couple of weeks ago I already mentioned that BBQ was not my area of expertise. Until recently Mr. F would take care of business and spoil me with his outdoor cooking. Can you imagine his surprise when I just nailed this BBQ sauce (and he didn’t) after only a few trial runs? Every time I would mix up a sauce he would say something like: too much tomato or missing the kick. He wouldn’t winkle his nose over it, but it just wasn’t perfect. After all he is a BBQ judge and knows this things. Yet he had to admit, this one is just right, spicy and flavorful, sweet and hot and a little tangy. I am sure you will like it, everyone did so far and I test drove this sauce a couple of times now. On the other hand even a dummy can cook up a sauce and did you ever read the back of a store bought bottle? Yes right?!
- 170 g / 6 oz. tomato paste
- 240 ml / 1 cup hard apple cider
- 120 ml / ½ cup cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. molasses
- 4 Tbsp. granulated sugar (or about 5 Tbsp. honey)
- 1 Tbsp. instant espresso powder
- ¼ tsp. ground cumin
- ¼ tsp. ground cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp. Spanish smoked hot paprika powder (Pimentón de la Vera)
- 1 tsp. smoked salt
- ½ tsp. minced garlic
- In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the flavors come together, stirring frequently, for about 30 minutes.
If you don’t have smoked salt on hand, you can swop for sea salt, it will be fine but it won’t be the same.
I am jump-starting today’s post with a disclaimer, pickled radishes evolve from all white with a red rim into bright raspberry pink. They get prettier hour by hour.
There is always a jar with pickled food in my fridge. This jar is dedicated for vinegary food solely, because if you use it once for this, it’s exclusive and there is no way back. So I had filled it up with quickly pickled red onions on a regular basis, occasionally rotated with pickly pickles if in season. It was about time for something new. I was in need for a new pickling idea, something you just pull out of the refrigerator and bring on the table with grilled meat. I found it on the farmers market: radishes are perfect for quick pickling and also for smoky food. Serve them with burgers, salads and brats and wherever you would put a pickle on. But also think about roasted potatoes, one heaping of cottage cheese or sour cream, some pickled radishes and sprinkles of chives and coarse sea salt.
I have to admit the smell is not very pleasant, a rather funky kind of cabbage smell with a nose-biting effect from the vinegar, but that’s fine you’ll get over it. You get rewarded by the taste: tangy, a little spicy and a well-balanced sweetness.
quickly pickled radishes
- 450 g / 1 pound red radishes
- 235 ml / 1 cup rice vinegar
- 180 ml / ¾ cup water
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
- 50 g / ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- ½ tsp. ground fennel seeds
- Wash and trim the radishes. Slice them thinly, works best using a food processor. Transfer to a clean jar and set aside.
- In a small, non-reactive saucepan add vinegar, water, garlic, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer just until the sugar is dissolved.
- Pour the hot vinegar mix into the jar with the radishes and cover tightly with a lid. Let cool until room temperature, store in your refrigerator.
If it comes right down to barbecuing, I am out. Through I don’t believe in traditional assignment of roles, I didn’t even light this grill outside once. One part is I am happy to entrust this duty to Mr. F and the other is, he even loves it. I also assume his concern is, if I ever get a saying about his grill business, he sees fish and veggies more often than steaks on his plate.
So for the last years it has always been him massaging those ribs with spices and roasting these piles of bratwurst. Usually I contributed a salad, enjoyed a glass of red wine and watched him grilling. This changed last weekend when I stepped into his territory with my pinky toe and mixed my own spice blend. Through Mr. F was not welcoming me in front of the grill yet, still his job, he loved my contribution.
It’s always tricky with spicy food, because everyone experiences the sensation of pungency different. I had dinner guests asking for hot sauce, while I had been on my upper tolerant level and vise versa. Did you ever get asked by a waiter, how hot you like your food on a scale of 5? Doesn’t really makes any sense to me, as my 5 is a different 5 than his. So judge yourself, only if you are very sensitive to spicy food, reduce or skip the cayenne pepper, you can always add more later. But actually I think most of you should be fine, these chicken drumsticks have a nice heat, but the spices are very well balanced and it’s more about the flavors.
spicy grilled chicken drumsticks
- 3 pound chicken drumsticks (about 10)
- 1 Tbsp. Spanish smoked hot paprika powder (Pimentón de la Vera)
- 1 ½ Tbsp. mustard powder
- 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp. fine sea salt
- ½ Tbsp. granulated sugar
- ½ Tbsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- Pat the chicken drumsticks dry with clean paper towels.
- Mix all the spices together and cover the chicken drumsticks evenly. The easiest way is to add everything into a freezer bag. Seal it and shake it up. Preferable let it sit in your refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before you want to start to grill.
- Prepare the grill for indirect cooking over medium-high heat 190 C -230 C / 375 F-450 F. Grill chicken on a well oiled grill, rotating them frequently with a pair of tongs to ensure even cooking. This takes about 35 minutes. An instant thermometer inserted on the thickest part should show 80 C / 180 and there should be no pink meat left and juices should run out clear.
Mr. F's pro tip: cook the chicken drumsticks until 80 C / 180 F on the thickest part (always measure away from the bone). This is not just for safety reasons, they are more fall of the bone, juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside at this temperature.
For the last month my life’s motto would be this quote from Erich Kästner: “You can build something beautiful from stones that are put in your way.” He was one of my favorite authors growing up and still is – still growing up. I wrote down his quote on a slip of paper and put it in my purse. Whenever I needed a reminder to don’t give up, I just check back on this note, because it’s too easy to not withstand or fight back. The last couple of weeks had been a whirlwind and the main reason why I wasn’t able to post something is: I moved again. And a crazy me announced prior to that: I love moving, everything is different and exciting and… I guess no one is ever quoting me. This move changed my mind about this kind of adventure: it is horrible, be prepared for the worst. But I made it and it became just another stone. I am still looking for my stuff but the kitchen is up and running now and there are some interesting recipes coming your way.
For today I am inviting you to a strawberry cooler with a rosy note from rose water and let’s make it bubbly with French apple wine. I also added grenadine syrup initially for a rose color, but it also added a bit of sweetness. You might have wondered how to make homemade grenadine syrup from scratch
!? It’s quite simple. In a perfect world I would have brought some organic rose peddles to this game, but there are still unpacked boxes and the traffic is the worst. Sorry for that.
Although summer is here the roses in the snow sound very good and it’s a great way to incorporate more rose water into my life! Hop over to Elana’s stir and strain for more mind blowing cocktails and drinks.
And here we go! Get yourself some sweet strawberries.
Remove the green stuff and chop them.
Yes this is a cookie jar but it’s all I found yet, due to the unpacked boxes. I actually like the lid for keeping the bees away, we don’t want drunken bees in our rosy strawberry cooler!
Let it foam!
rosy strawberry cool
Author: Eva Felis
Recipe type: Drinks
- 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
- 750 ml French cider or other hard cider
- ¾ tsp. rose water
- approx. 3 tsp. grenadine syrup
- ice cubes for serving
- Add all ingredients to a large bowl, stir briefly.
- Serve with ice cubes if needed and enjoy!
Make sure all ingredients are well chilled!
My mum never insisted on me eating my vegetables. Although she made sure that I eat something at all, it was always up to me what I put on my plate. This might give you the idea I grew up on chocolate and spaghetti, but it wasn’t like that at least most of the time. She made me want to eat healthy. She tricked me into eating vegetable loaded meals, which were luring with some sort of meat or melted cheese. My mum is good in hiding healthy under irresistible stuff, like broccoli with a Hollandaise sauce or cauliflower with browned butter and roasted seasoned breadcrumbs.
Her approach is that a meal doesn’t have to be healthy by all means. No, she brings on the heavy cream, bacon bites and she knows how to play with flavors and how to cover up even boring vegetables under garlic or herbs. For her it’s all about the balance and that is the theme for this collard greens recipe.
This dish came together unintentionally but nevertheless even more badly needed for comforting. The other day I came across fresh smoked ham hock and I bought some home for the first time in my life with the plan to figure out, what to do with it along the way (read no plan at all). The next ingredient I came across was the collard greens, piled up tremendously by a business savvy vendor on the farmers market. I brought as much as I was willing to carry, knowing that I might have to eat collard greens for the rest of the month, just because I felt sorry for him to clear away this hill of greens at the end of the day.
On my way home a recipe already started to take shape in my mind, this is how my brain works, it’s almost useless for doing math in my head but boy I know exactly what’s in my pantry and how to combine those ingredients.
I needed something warming and filling, and easy to heat up the next day, I chose goat cheese for it’s capability to oppose with the smoked ham, a mozzarella would not be able to do such a good job in this gratin. Everything came together very well and I have the feeling it’s going to be keeper and I am waiting for the next smoked ham hock coming my way.
collard greens, black eyed peas and ham hock gratin
- 2 bunches collard greens, washed, center ribs and stems removed
- 200 g / 7 oz. cooked black eyed peas
- 1 pound smoked ham hock, diced
- 130 g / 4.5 oz. breadcrumbs (I used panko gluten free) about 1 ¼ cups
- 475 ml / 2 cups milk (2%)
- 2 large eggs
- 140 g / 5 oz. chèvre, fresh goat cheese
- 1 garlic clove
- ¼ - ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
- go easy on the salt
- Preheat your oven to 200 C / 400 F and grease a medium size baking dish
- Roast the breadcrumbs in a dry pan (without fat) until golden brown, set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile roll the collard green leafs like a big cigar and slice thinly. Cook for 4 minutes in the boiling water, drain and immediately transfer to a bowl with ice water. Drain well and squeeze out excess water.
- Fry the diced smoked ham hock in a heavy bottom pan over high heat until browned.
- In a blender combine the milk, eggs, goat cheese, garlic clove, cayenne pepper and salt, blend until smooth.
- Transfer the ham hock, beans and collard greens into the baking dish and pour over the milk-mix. Cover evenly with the breadcrumbs and bake for 20 minutes.
- This gratin reheats very well and it also makes a great leftover dish.
You can also use half of the breadcrumbs and add one cup of Parmesan cheese.
Hello friends! I would like to send you into your weekend with some pictures of my days on St. Simons Island earlier this month. But even if your precious free days are already over and you are sitting at your desk over a cup of almost tolerable coffee… Stay tuned the next weekend is certain to come and help is on the way.
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