Monday

Quick, Easy and Delicious Muffin Recipe !



The last time I tried to make muffins nothing worked out the way I planned. Well I did not give up and I made them again. This time they came out perfect ! 
I used the same recipe as in the previous post and perfected it a bit. 

Ingredients : 

- 1 egg
- 200g plain flour
- 100g caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 120 ml milk
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt

I also made 4 different kinds : plain, coconut, raisins and dark chocolate. 




Before I started doing anything I heated up the oven to 180°C. 
I mixed all dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl I mixed milk, olive oil and an egg. I combined the two but I tired not to over-mix it. I separated the mixture into 4 glasses. To the first one I didn't add any additional ingredients. To the second one I added a teaspoon of coconut shreds. Unfortunately it was too little and I couldn't really taste it in a muffin so I suggest using around 3 teaspoons of coconut shreds. To the third glass I added a handful of raisins and to the fourth glass big pieces of dark chocolate. 




After everything was ready and the oven was hot I poured the mixture into plastic muffin cups. I filled only 2/3 of the cup (remember that they will grow in the oven and you don't want them to spill out of the cups). 
I've put them in the oven at 180°C for 13 minutes. I was checking every 5 minutes if it's already dry inside by stabbing it with a long toothpick. If the toothpick came out dry that meant the muffin was ready. Just in case after those 10 minutes I left it in the oven for another 3 minutes and then I took it out and left it to cool down. 




 The muffins came out really soft inside. The plain muffin can be eaten with butter and is great for tea-breaks. It has a very neutral flavour so it can be eaten with something sweet or with something salty. 
The coconut muffin didn't come out the way I planned as it actually tasted like a plain muffin. As I wrote before more coconut shreds are needed for this muffin. It still came out delicious though ! 
The raisin muffin is the sweetest. Great with strong coffee. 
Dark chocolate muffin is my favourite. Sweet with big pieces of dark chocolate that just melts in your mouth. I think it's great for meetings with friends for a coffee or as a small homemade gift when visiting someone. 


Hope you'll try to make them cause they're really easy , very quick and super delicious. 



Have fun, 

Butterfingered Chef

Sunday

Sweets That Made Me Die and Go To Paradise


Can you find those delicious sweets I'm writing about today ? 



I've seen it a lot of times but I never wanted to try it. My friend had a dirty keychain that looked like it and I think that was one of the reasons why it was on a no-no list. Besides, it looked like food made out of Pokemons. I always thought it would be squashy and sweet beyond boundaries but... I was wrong and it became my favourite sweet with a first bite. 

Yes, I am talking about macarons


The term 'macaron' is derived from the Italian word 'macarone' which means meringue. 
It should not be mistaken with macaroons. Macaron's main ingredients are eggs whites, icing sugar, granulated sugar, ground almond or almond powder and food colouring while macaroon's main ingredients are just almonds and egg whites. 

Macarons were brought to France by Catherine de’Medici. She was a daughter of a Duke of Urbino and a brief ruler of Florance, Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici. He died from syphilis 21 days after Cathrine's birth at age of 26. Her mother was Madeleine de la Tour. Catherine married King Henry II of France in 1533 at age of 14 and brought with her Italian pastry chefs who introduced macaron to France. 


Just a few days ago I tried my first macarons which after today I don't even consider a macaron but a "wanna-be". Macarons are very popular all over the world but it is difficult to find the good ones. A lot of macarons are just different colours but do not taste like what they are suppose to be made of. A lot of them do not have a flavour what so ever; they're just really sweet and no matter what colour you're going to buy it will not taste like anything else than just sugar. Also a lot of them don't even have the right consistency. The good macarons are unfortunately really expensive. 

Btw, the beautiful earrings you see in this photo are made by Horsecka Jewelry

The macaron we know today (so called double-decker) was created by Pierre Desfontaines of Laduree in 1930's. His grandfather, Louis-Ernest Laduree, founded  a french luxury bakery, Laduree,  in 1862 which thanks to his grandson's invention became famous all over the world and till today is still one of the best known makers of macarons. 




Everything from Laduree's paper bags, through the packaging to the macarons is classy and sophisticated. The small box of 6 macarons costs 15 euro. A box of 8 macarons 17 euro. The price says it all. 




Rose - at first I just felt its amazing texture, not the flavour. The almond meringue discs are crunchy at first but they really quickly melt in your mouth. The inside is really soft with a creamy, delicate texture. Just when I completely forgot that the macaron is suppose to have a flavour it hit me with such strength that I behaved as if I ate something really hot. The strong taste of a rose appeared first on my tongue and within seconds it was all over my cheeks and then nose. While the aroma was spreading in places I never thought have taste-buds (and I'm still sure they don't) I completely forgot about reality and the fact that I was sitting with my parents in a living-room. I was miles away in my grandparents summer house picking up petals of a wild rose from a garden which later I would mash in a small kitchen with lemon juice and sugar to create rose jam. Surrounded by the aroma of the rose I was 10 again. 
Now I know what I would say if somebody asked me what would be the last thing I would want to eat before I die. Rose macarons because they move my whole body and mind to what I consider my heaven and paradise. 







PistachioThe creamy inside contains small pieces of nuts which gives a nice crunch to the whole macaron. After I ate it I looked at the notes I took while tasting it and I realised that within two sentences I used the word "pistachio"five times, which should give you a really good idea about its flavour. It tastes more like a pistachio than a pistachio itself. 
















Pure Origin Chocolate From Venezuela - it tastes like a Polish Prince Polo chocolate bar (dark chocolate version) with a  creamy inside. If you never tried Prince Polo before I bet you can easily find it in Polish shops and if you're from Czech, Slovakia, Lithuania, Ukraine or Iceland you should have no problem in getting one as apparently those chocolate bars are quite popular in those countries. In Iceland it's called "Prins Póló".







Chocolate - Because of this little macaron I literally started screaming asking my mom "What is this chocolate ?! Where do they get it from ?!" because I never ate a better chocolate in my entire life. 









Salted Caramel - Really strong taste. Even though the name of this macaron suggests that the filling was made with an enormous amount of sugar and some salt I didn't taste carmel whatsoever. Instead of that I felt like eating a less sweet version of condensed milk. It reminded me of wafer-cakes my grandma used to make. It also tasted the way a honeycomb smells when taken out of the beehive (at least that's the way I remember the smell of it). 






Raspberry - After the first bite I felt like having a handful of raspberries in my mouth. After a whole macaron I felt like I ate at least 60 raspberries at once. The aroma is really strong and what I like about this macaron are the seeds that I could feel in my mouth and which gave me an illusion of actually eating a raspberry. 












If you ever ate a cheap macaron from a nearby bakery and it wasn't very good or it was just really sweet without any specific flavour please do not think all of them are like that. It can take time to find the good and real macarons. If you'll ever find yourself in Laduree store buy a small box. I know it's expensive but I'm sure you won't regret spending those 15 euros. Just don't get addicted to them! 


Take care sweet-tooth comrades! 

Butterfingered Chef









Thursday

Light up your mood with a Light Pumpkin Soup

Hi ! Having a weird day ? You don't know what you feel like eating ? It's grey outside and the melancholic rhythm of the rain is driving you into depression ? I know what can help you ! 


Pumpkin Soup ! 
It's really light, very healthy and even it's colour will make you feel much better. Shut the drapes, turn the lights on, put some good music on and start cooking ! 

Playlist that will put a smile on your face even before stepping in a kitchen: 

Lucy Spraggan - Last Night 

OK ! Ready ? 


Ingredients : 

For the soup : 

- Parsley (1 Big one or 2 small ones)
- 3 Carrots 
- 3 Small Onions (1 big one)
- 3 Red Peppers 
- Olive Oil 
- Ground Pepper 
- 2 Big Potatoes 
- 3 Pieces of Pumpkin (Like the ones shown on a photo)
- Ground Nutmeg 
- Salt

For crouton :

- Brown Bread (of course it doesn't have to be the brown bread but I think it is the best for this soup)
- Butter (Depending on the amount of crouton you're making)
- Garlic (Depends on the amount of butter)

For serving : 

Apart from crouton you can use sliced almonds, cream cheese (or just cream) and basil. 




First, wash all the vegetables  

          





Then peel parsley and carrots. Cut of the ends (they're usually bitter).



Chop those carrots and parsley. You don't have to chop them in tiny pieces. Everything is going to be mashed up at the end anyway. The pieces have to be thin enough to soften easily when cooked.




To prepare peppers you have to cut of the top part. This way it's going to be easier to remove the seeds.



Cut the "arms" of the "seed nest".  Now it's going to be easy to just pull out the seeds without much of them falling inside the pepper.






 Told ya ! I've learned that not such a long time ago myself...


Cut the pepper into four pieces and remove all the white bits then chop to approximately 1cm x 1cm pieces.




Peel the onion and chop into similar pieces as the pepper.





Peel and cut the potatoes.


Fun part ! We're taking the alien out of the pumpkin. With a spoon scrape out the seeds and the flesh of the pumpkin.

I find the flesh really funny because for me it really looks like an alien that had a very bad trip to earth.




That's how the inside of the pumpkin should look after you're done with it. Clean.



Cut the piece in two. (In four if it really big).

Remove the skin. It's best to do it with a normal chef knife. Put the piece of the pumpkin on a flat surface and start removing the skin from the bottom while holding the top. Then flip the piece around and remove the skin from the part you were just holding while holding the already clean part.
.
.
.
I hope that was clear for you...



Chop the pumpkin into quite big pieces. Everything is going to be mashed up so it doesn't matter if they're not going to be perfectly chopped. They have to be a small enough size so they cook easily.




In a massive pot heat up olive oil (use quite a bit).
Throw in the onion and cook until lightly browned (to be save do it on a medium heat so it won't burn when you look away for a spoon).




Add potatoes. Give them 3-4 minutes. Keep stirring all the time until you add the pumpkin.



Add carrot and parsley. Stir.




Add pepper. Stir.




Add pumpkin. Now stir every 3 minutes. After some time you'll see that the vegetables are shrinking and you have more space in a pot.


When you'll see that the pumpkin starts getting mushy add water. Add enough to cover the vegetables. Stir well, cover with a lid, turn the heat up and leave it like that for 10-15 minutes. After this time check on it, stir and do the same (if the soup goes crazy turn the heat down to medium).




Meanwhile cut the bread into 1cmx1cmx1cm squares.




Lay them in a baking tray. (you can also just fry them on a pan)



Depending on an amount of bread melt butter with garlic in a microwave and pour it on the bread. Sprinkle some salt. Stir it well and put in the oven for around 7-10 minutes at 160°C. 


You know your soup is almost ready when all the vegetables are quite soft (soft enough for the blender too). Now it's up to you how salty you want the soup and how much nutmeg and pepper it needs. Keep cooking it over the low heat and slowly add bit by bit of each spice until you get the result you like.




When it's spiced enough mash it up with the blender and voila ! It's ready !

The soup should have a delicate taste. Quite sweet I would say. The pumpkin really does light up the mood. Because it's mashed up it's really good for troubled stomach. The crouton are a nice crunchy touch to the fluffy texture of the soup. 


I hope this soup will make you feel better 
and that making it will only be a pleasure. 




Butterfingered Chef

Monday

Everything's best when everything's fresh !



Remember those days when you felt sad, angry, annoyed and because of that you physically couldn't cope with anything and everything you did fell apart ? Add to that being kept in a small cage with others like you and being forcefully fed with the worst possible food around.

Well, the last sentence may not apply to you but it sure does to a hen. As humans we know that it's difficult to do anything right when the environment isn't suitable. Most of us can't study maths while being at the death metal concert (I doubt anyone ever tried it...) At the same time unhealthy diet will damage our health which will also affect the quality of work we produce.
Why would a hen react differently to those obstacles ?

A hen that lives in a tiny space with lots of other hens and is being fed with chemicals can't be healthy nor happy so her meat and eggs she lays aren't very healthy. Most of the eggs and chicken meat that we buy at the shop are from unhappy hens and chickens which means that their meat and their eggs aren't as good as we could think they should be, but there are some places where chickens run around happy and hens lay their eggs in peace.

My dad has a cousin who has well... let's call it a farm. He has ducks, hens, three massive dogs and goats. He also has a garden in which he has his own vegetables. He says there's nothing better than your own vegetables that you cared about so they could grow big and tasty, fresh milk from a goat that you milk every morning, and eggs that you have to look for in a grass because the hens can run around and choose the layer for themselves.

Well, he sure is right. I don't know about vegetables but dad brought back home goat milk, eggs and goat cheese from his cousin. Now I wish I had my own farm so I wouldn't have to drink anything from the shop.

The milk has a silky texture, sweet taste and aroma of freshness. The eggs differ even in their looks. The yolk is much more yellow than most of the eggs bought in a shop. When we got them they were covered in faeces and that's actually better than perfectly washed eggs. As far as I know you should never wash eggs. They have pores in the eggshell which allow air inside. Normally nothing should pass through them but when you wash the eggs the water can sometimes go through and with it all of the bacteria from the shell. Also me and my family had a funny surprise when we opened the box with eggs. One of them went completely mad and decided to be a completely different shape than others. I guess if this chicken was born it would be a chicken Lady Gaga.
The goat cheese is amazing. Delicate, creamy, it melts in your mouth. I would imagine that's how it feels to eat a cloud. Great for breakfast, gives you a lot of energy, it's light. Goes perfectly with honey and dry fruits.



The hens are locked up for a night to protect them from foxes. 








Goat is a wonderful animal. Gives you milk and you can feed it with practically everything. You don't have to worry that something is going to waste anymore ! 

Great breakfast. Fresh milk, scrambled eggs and goat cheese with dry fruits, honey and nuts. 
I wish I could have it every day.... 




Butterfingered Chef




Sunday

Dried and Salted Squid - кальмары


A family friend came back from her country, Ukraine , a few days ago. She brought with her a very delicious Russian/Ukrainian snack. It's called кальмары сушеные солёные - a dried and salted squid. The brand that produces it is called мoрские which can be translated as sea or marine. The brand also produces dry and salted anchovy, tuna, codfish and many more.
(read more at http://sigroup.ua/morskie_en.html)

This snack is very difficult to get. I never found it in England nor in Poland.
The packaging contains very little of the dry squid, so little that it's comparable to the amount of saffron  in a single packaging although probably not as expensive as the golden spice. Of what I'm aware this snack is traditionally eaten when drinking beer.

The dry squid is salty and sour. It's chewy, dry and mouthwatering at the same time (which I find an incredible combination as mouthwatering makes it juicy...). With every bite it becomes softer and it releases more and more of its sour-salty flavour. It smells fishy but actually doesn't have as much fishy flavour as you would think it should have.

This, along with dry and salted seaweed, is something you should never leave alone in my presence. I am absolutely addicted to it, which is a pain when I don't have it (means most of the time...)

If you ever find it anywhere first of all buy it ! I bet you won't regret it ! Second of all tell me in comments below where you got it from. Hopefully it's somewhere near where I live !



приятного аппетита !

Butterfingered Chef 




Friday

Roach with Vegetables



Hi ! Today me and my dad decided to make roaches for dinner. He bought quite a lot of them but most of them were gone within half an hour.

We marinated the roaches in salt, pepper and lemon juice. While they were marinating we've cut the vegetables (carrot, yellow pepper, parsley and zucchini). Best to cut those vegetables into julienne. Then we fried them on a pan for a little while (till the point when the carrot browns a little bit. ) I've only salted them a tiny bit.

Then we've laid the roaches on a greased baking tray and we've put the vegetables on top of the roaches. We covered the roaches with aluminium and cooked it for 15-20 minutes in the oven at 200°C.

 The fish came out very delicate and tasty and the vegetables went well with the taste of it. As seen  above we served it with puree and a peeled tomato (how to peel a tomato and make puree will be a separate post). 

The roach is a very bony fish which is why it can be difficult for some people to eat (for example me... I ate one in an hour...). 

The same method of cooking can be used when preparing salmon. 


Hope you'll try it out and enjoy it ! 

Butterfingered Chef  

Wednesday

Blood Sausage Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner !

Blood sausage ? Wait, what ?

Well, if you never ate anything like that then you definitely should !

Kaszanka - it's a traditional Polish cuisine. It's a combination of buckwheat, pig offal (like liver, skin, lungs, fat) and pig's blood stuffed in pig's intestine. Sounds disgusting ? Well, don't let it put you off.

Kaszanka is somewhat similar to a Scottish Haggis (sheep's pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal's stomach). It is usually served with onions and potatoes but personally I love to eat it with scrambled eggs and toast. It can be eaten cold or grilled. I think the grilled version is much better and the crunchier the skin the more pleasure from eating it you will have. It is great for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as an appetiser !

I love Kaszanka for it's taste but also for the memories I have connected to it for example family grill at my grandparents summer house. 

I bet that even if you have doubts about it the smell of it will convince you to try it . 




Bon Appétit !

Butterfingered Chef

Breakfast with my family where Blood Sausage was the Queen of the table. 


Tuesday

Little breakfast muffins... Fail...


Sometimes I have problems deciding what I would like to eat for breakfast. But few days ago it had to be something quite sweet, soft and good with a cup of coffee. So what else could it be other than muffins ? Well... I wish I made myself a sandwich...

Ingredients : 

- 1 egg
- 200g plain flour
- 100g caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 120 ml milk
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt

For this recipe you will need a muffin tin which you should grease unless you have bun paper cases.
You beat the eggs and pour in the milk and oil. In the other bowl you mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Combine both bowls but do not over-mix. When you pour the batter into a muffin tin or bun paper case remember to fill only 2/3 of it (the batter will grow in the oven). You're suppose to bake the muffins for 20 minutes.

This recipe was suppose to be for big muffins but because I didn't have a baking tin good enough for making them I decided to use the baking tin for small muffins. Unfortunately I completely forgot that small muffins bake faster than big ones (duh...) so as the recipe said I held them in the oven for whole 20 minutes.... As you can guess they burned. Also I didn't have bun paper cases so I just greased the tin. It probably would work if not the fact that I baked the muffins for too long. In addition to that I wanted to make my muffins in different flavours so before pouring the batter into the muffin tin I've put some dry fruits in the tin. Of course when I finished baking and tried to take the muffins out the burned fruits stayed in the muffin tin...

So, at the end of the day I ended up with burned, one flavoured muffins. It could have been worse. These were at least still edible.

I'll try to make them some other time once again. I will not repeat the mistakes I made. Now I know I have to bake them half the time, I probably should buy the bun paper cases and I will mix the fruits with the batter.


If you have any tips that could help me in learning how to make muffins share them in comments
below !

Don't burn anything,

Butterfingered Chef