Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fruit Skulls by Steve Kimbel

When my kids were growing up, I hollowed-out and carved a scary head from a cantaloupe, using grapes for eyes and to fill the empty head. Since this was near Halloween, the kids were at first shocked, then delighted to open the refrigerator to find breakfast, and instead to find a melon-head staring out at them. My oldest daughter has since graduated from college and has been working in industry the past 5 years, yet she remembered still the fruit head, so she asked me to carve some fruit skulls for a work Halloween party. Attached are the results. The honeydew mellow was nearly perfectly round, so Charlie Brown seemed a natural selection.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Turkish Spread

1 eggplant, medium size
3-4 garlic cloves
1 lemon
1 cup yogurt
1-2 Tbsp mayo
1 Tsp ketchup
1 Tsp dijon mustard
1 Tsp olive oil
salt, pepper taste
black olives to decorate
3 cups water

Peel eggplant and cut it into 1/2 in squares. Chop garlic into large pieces. Squeeze lemon into water. Boil the water and cook the eggplant and garlic. Drain the water and discard it. Press with spoon to force all water out. Mash the eggplant and garlic together.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Put in a nice serving dish and decorate with black olives. You can also decorate with other colorful herbs or veggies, such as cherry tomatoes and chives.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dried Pepper Spread

10 dried red peppers
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
150g finely ground walnuts
1/3 cup oil
salt to taste
2 Tbsp oil to spread over the top
1 radish to decorate

Cook dried red peppers until they become soft (about 30 minutes). Discard all the seeds. Use a sharp knife to scrape all the meat from the skin. Discard the skins. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Once in a serving dish, spread more oil over to top to create a shine surface.

Decorate with a radish. You can use a grater to cut a radish into a thin strip all around, then form it into a flower.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Smoked Salmon Rolls

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
85g purpose flour
1 Tbsp butter, softened
1 green onion, chopped
100g smoked salmon
120g cream cheese
chopped chives and/or parsley
salt to taste

First make the crapes. Mix egg, milk, flour, button, salt and green onion. Allow it to rest for a couple of hours in the refrigerator. The dough will be denser than for regular crapes. Make 4 thick crapes. If you have chives and parsley, shop it and mix in with cream cheese. Spread cream cheese over crapes. Cover with smacked salmon. Roll. Cut off the ends. Wrap each roll into the foil and levee in the refrigerator over night. Take out before serving and cut into 6 peaces each.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Serbia- Soul Food

Hello! With a lack of my own recipes, I feel obligated to post something. Here is a nice video my mom sent me of Serbian food, I thought would be nice to share with everyone.

I am heading home this weekend, so I will be able to enjoy some of this over the next couple of weeks. While I enjoy the real thing, I hope you guys enjoy this video. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Squash season is back with Steve Ferguson

Zorana and I were making dinner once and I made a simple dish which surprising came out tasting pretty good. She said “ You must write and entry for my blog, Tasty Makes Happy”. I resisted. Ok, I am an engineer and not a creative writer. If you wanted to cook 10 of these at different temperatures and ingredient combinations , evaluate them in a blind taste test and show the results on a scatter plot I would be perfectly at home. That is not what she wanted. She said “ I want clicks on my website”. She proceeded to show me this graph ( which I could understand and felt very comfortable with ) that showed she was made $.04 in the last month from visitors to her blog. She said this is not acceptable and it needed to increase exponentially. Now I feel comfortable as I know the goal and as a task oriented person I can relate. So, here goes my recipe and attempt at creative writing. Please click on this page and some of the ads multiple times so I can achieve my assigned task of increasing the clicks exponentially. You may have to get some of your friends involved though to achieve this. Anyway here goes....

Here in Portand we may not be blessed with 300 days of sunshine and warm weather year round but we do have some pretty good local produce. There is an island in the Columbia River only a few miles from Portland called Sauvie Island that is known for it's farms and produce. On one trip there I saw an amazing display of squash that made me think there has to be a use for these things.

I purchased one of each of these.

I found ones that were firm and didn't have any holes or defects to speak of. It was not hard to find in the gazzilion on display. ( Ok, maybe it was not a gazzilion ).

I first cut them in half. I found this was not an easy task so proceed at your own risk. These suckers are hard to cut.

Clean out the seeds but do not throw them away. The seeds are really good if you rinse them, add some salt and toast them in the oven for about 10 minutes at 400F. Mmmmm.

I put about a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of light brown sugar in the hole. The amount is not that important. Sprinkle some brown sugar on the surface as well as in the hole. Add some salt and pepper.

I suggest you put this in a non stick pan as the sugar and butter can create a mess to clean up. This is not something Zorana worries about but I do.

Bake this for about 1 hour at 400F. Check them with a fork to make sure they are soft. If in doubt, cook them another 10 minutes. It doesn't really matter.

Here is what they look like.

Make more than you can eat as we found they taste even better warmed up the next day.

So if you liked this, click wildly on a bunch of stuff on this page so I accomplish my goal.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Portobello Mushrooms with Blue Cheese and Ham

I went to Lake Tahoe last weekend with a couple of friends for my 33rd Birthday. Fresh mountain air and the beach are just about the most relaxing things I can think of. Often with a large group of people there are different ideas of what activities we should do, especially with all the choices given at Tahoe, but after a fun day outdoors, everyone is united in the same feeling- hunger. Renting a house rather than staying at a hotel makes this an extra fun activity as well. BBQ party on the patio and sitting around a fire pit are just a perfect ending to a great day.

We didn’t have a large group this time, so our BBQ was not as elaborate as it can get. Still, I wanted to share one recipe with you that we made there and was really good.

  • Ingredients:
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Crumbled blue cheese
  • Ham, chopped
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350F. Wash the mushrooms, set them upside down on aluminum foil and salt them. Fill the caps with cheese and cover with ham. Sprinkle olive oil on top. Bake for about 15 minutes. Then sprinkle parmesan before serving.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Slow Cooked Pork Pasta Sauce

Hello again. I have received several Emails in the recent months about why I don't post any more recipes. The answer is- I don't cook and entertain as much anymore as I used to, and to be honest, I also have lost my motivation. Sometimes, I just don't like the photos, other times I dont even have the patience to take them.
But here it is again. I cooked something, took pictures, and now I am trying to find some words to write. They don't always come easy.
One thing for sure- I am so happy to see that someone at Google finally fixed that horrible annoying problem of not being able to upload more than 4 photos to Blogger through Picasa.

Ok, let's talk food now...
As my one and only social event since I moved to Portland, I go out with my coworkers every Thursday. We call it TGIT, and we plan this event carefully. Every Thursday, starting around noon, tons of Emails are flying around trying to figure out a place to meet. It started off as trying out different breweries, but I gotta admit, I am just not much of a beer person. I go for a company more than anything, and just lack of better things to do.
Last Thursday, the group was small, and I was able to convince them to go to a place other than a brewery. YEY for me!
It was a nice calm evening, even the sun came out for a bit. We sat outside and started letting out our frustrations about work (that's what TGIT is all about). We already shared one appetizer dish when we noticed an interesting meal on the menu. I can't remember what it was called, but it was made out of the "hazelnut fed pigs". Just because of that, we decided to order it. It was a pasta dish, slow cooked pork in spicy tomato sauce with crushed dried bread mixed in with it. It was very good, we wolfed it down and immediately ordered another one. When we finished our second serving, we asked the waiter if he could top that. He hesitated, so we ordered the third hazelnut fed pork dish. It was that good.
I thought to myself, this is a good idea. I should try to make this as close as I can. I have made pasta sauce out of slow cooked beef, but never pork. I have no idea what kind of pork meat it was, other than the pigs were fed with hazelnut, or what kind of spices they used. I had to improvise.
A the supermarket, there are many kinds of pork cuts: pork roast seemed like an obvious choice at first, definitely not pork chops. But then my hand went right for the tender loin, thats a good cut of meat. At that point, I saw boneless ribs, and decided that loin is too lean, and ribs are definitely the best choice. Well, that was my choice, since this recipe was completely left to interpretation. If you are trying to make this, please feel free to pick whatever cut of meat you find most suitable for this recipe.
The slow cooked pork pasta sauce I made was very tasty. This is tasty that makes happy- when you invent a good tasting dish!

  • 2lb of boneless pork ribs, or another boneless cut of pork
  • 3 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander seed
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 jalapeños
  • 2 bell peppers
  • oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 5-6 dried peppers
  • 1 package of rigatoni pasta
serves 4

Wash the meat and pat dry with paper towel.

In a zip lock bag, mix flour, paprika, ground coriander, salt and pepper.

Cut the meat into about 2in strips and place in the zip lock back with spice mix. Mix around until all the pieces of meat are evenly coated. Discard the rest of the spice mix.

Heat oil in a frying pan. Brown the meat for about 3 minutes on each side.

While the meat is browning, slice the onions, peppers and mince garlic cloves. Then add the veggies to the meat. At this point taste the mixing spoon and see whether you need to ad more salt or not.

When the veggies become soft, deglaze the pan with red wine and transfer the entire content of the pan into the slow cooker. Add canned tomatoes and mix all together.

Cover with dried peppers and cook on low for 8-10 hours. You have enough time to go for a hike.

When you come back home, set the past to cook. In the meantime, separate the meat form the crockpot into a serving bowl. Blend the veggies all together in the food processor, and mix in with the meat again. You can use as many dried peppers as you like. They tend to be hot, so if you use all of them, you sauce will probably be fairly spicy.
Although it cooks for a long time, this recipe is very easy to prepare. This dish is convenient to make for large parties. Also, the leftovers keep well.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Red Lentil Soup with Chicken

1 chicken breast
1/2 large onion
5 garlic cloves
1 can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cup red lentils
1 chicken bullion cube
spices: salt, pepper, ground cumin, seasoning salt, red pepper flakes
olive oil
5 cups wafer

Cut the chicken into about 1in cubes and season with salt, pepper and ground cumin. While the chicken is marinating in those spices, cut the onions and garlic cloves.

Saute onions in olive oil until they become translucent.

Add chicken, red pepper flakes and garlic and continue to stir until the chicken is cooked and starts to get some color on the surface.

Then add tomatoes and deglase the pan with the juices from tomatoes.

Add wafer and bring to boil. At this point add washed lentils, reduce the heat and cover the pot.

Add more cumin, salt and pepper to taste and one chicken bullion cube.

Cook for another 30-40 minutes or until the lentils disintegrate.

Garnish with parsley and serve. Squeeze a few lemon drips into your bowl.

So, here is a pretty healthy easy to make home cooked dinner. Lentils are also very low in fats, which makes this meal suitable for weight loss plans.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Baked Lima Beans

Here is why you should eat Lima beans and legumes in general:
  1. Beans can lower cholesterol
  2. Rich in dietary fiber and prevent blood sugar levels form rising fast after a meal (good diabetic food)
  3. High in protein
  4. Low in fat
  5. Lower risk of hearth attack (folate and magnesium give beneficial cardiovascular health)
  6. Boost energy level (good source of iron and manganese)

Although, you need to think ahead and soak the beans, this dish is super easy to make. This is a good choice of a side dish and potluck dinners because it's easy to make in large batches. You can also make it vegetarian.

  • 4 cups dry Lima beans
  • 3 yellow onions
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 4 slices of smoked bacon
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Soak the beans in cold water for 8 hours before cooking.

They will start to look like this after about one hour.

The beans are ready when they are swollen and their volume doubled. Throw away this water and poor new water. Bring to boil and boil for about 15 minutes. Throw away this water again, pour clean new water and boil again, this time for about 1 hour.

While beans are cooking, cut up onions and fry fry in oil.

Add salt, pepper and paprika and mix well. The spices will soak up the remaining oil. Then add bacon and continue to cook until onions are completely translucent and soft.

When beans are done cooking, pout them into a baking dish. Leave enough water to cover the beans.

Then add onions and mix with the beans. Don't worry it it's too watery, baking will take care of that.

Bake at 450F for about 30 minutes or until the water is evaporated and the top is done to your liking.

Baked beans make great leftovers. Store into a microwave safe container, and take to work for lunch. Its healthy, it tastes great, and will save you those $10 were you going to spend on lunch.

Vegetarian option: instead of bacon, use smoked dry pepper.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Argentinian Goulash in a Pumpkin

This very interesting dish was made by my mom's friend, Dubravka, whom she met on the airplane 14 years ago when she was flying to NYC to visit me. This friend coincidentally happened to be my English teacher from my middle school, 20 years ago! A small world we live in....
Anyways, Dubravka and my mom became good friends and they invite each other for dinners every once in a while, since they both like to cook. Goulash in a pumpkin is not something you see every day, so I thought I'd share this recipe. This might be just a perfect choice of dish if you are trying to impress someone.

  • 1 large pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1 tbsp rakija (preferably apricot brandy), or another type of brandy
  • 2-2.5 lbs beef, cut into cubes
  • 1/2cup white wine
  • salt, pepper, bay leave
  • paprika, chill powder or Cayenne pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • Cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/2 apricot compote

Cut out the lid on your pumpkin and clean it out from the seeds. Preheat the oven to 450F.

Heat up oil and brandy in a pan and simmer the onions in it. Add beef, salt, pepper, bay leaf, garlic, paprika, and chili powder. Stir for a couple of minutes. Then add vine and cook over low heat for about 1 hour. The meat should be tender.

While the meat is cooking, bake clean and seeded pumpkin for 20 minutes at 450F. Then sprinkle cinnamon over it. Add goulash when its done cooking, and then add sugar to it. Arrange drained apricot slices on top.

Now that the pumpkin is filled with goulash, bake it at 250F for about 45-60 minutes, until it softens.

Serve the entire pumpkin. Eat goulash with pumpkin meat.

Plant your own giant pumpkins:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Flatbread Pizza with Artichoke Hearts

Here is a simple idea for easy to make party food- flat bread pizza! It is very night, not loaded with cheese and sauce. It looks pretty- everyone will ask you how you made it.


Pizza dough:
1 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp flax seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tsp active dry yeast

1/8 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves
t tsp oregano
salt 1 tsp salt
3 tbsp crumbled feta cheese
5 slices of ham
5 baby portobello mushrooms
5-6 pieces marinated artichoke hearts
1-2 tomatoes, sliced
grated Parmesan cheese

Roll out the pizza dough and place it on the parchment paper, or in the pregreased pan.

Mix oil, garlic, salt and oregano in a cut and allow it to infuse for some times. I usually prepare this while the dough is getting ready. Spread it over the dough as a base layer. You can also use butter instead of olive oil.

At this point, preheat the oven on 450F.

Then place all the toppings in order.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Then you can brush more olive oil on the crust and sprinkle some Parmesan over the top.

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