Penne With Beetroot Cream And Toasted Poppy Seeds

February 17, 2013 7 Comments

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Look at this beautiful red colour! We should be grateful to Mother Nature for giving us beetroot that has an amazing colour like this!

My body has a lack of iron (just a little bit) these days so I try to eat as many meals as I can that are rich in iron. Iron rich foods can fortify your blood, in a properly balanced diet. Iron, the metal, is an element that is also a nutrient mineral that humans need to consume as a part of our everyday diet. Iron, in some form, is essential for good health. It is also important to eat foods rich in vitamin C because this vitamin enhances the absorption of iron into our body. If we are not getting enough iron, the best way to increase our iron intake is by effecting a slight change in our eating habits.

If you are a vegetarian like me it’s good to know that foods such as beans, whole grains, spinach and dried fruits have a significant amount of iron.

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Penne With Beetroot Cream and Toasted Poppy Seeds
(Recipe inspiration: Bev Cooks)

Ingredients (serves 2)

– 200 g penne pasta
– 3 medium beetroot, peeled and diced
– 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
– 2 sprigs thyme
– 4 tabelspoons olive oil
– 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
– 1/2 cup vegetable stock
– 1/4 cup cream or oat cream
– 1/2 cup grated parmesan
– 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
– salt, pepper

Method

In a bowl mix together the diced beetroot with 2 tablespoons olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Place it on a baking sheet and roast at 180C (356F) until tender (about 30-40 minutes). In the last 10 minutes baking, sprinkle the beets with the garlic and bake them together.

Transfer garlicy beets to a food processor and add balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 cup grated parmesan and pulse until it gets smooth. Transfer the mixture to a pan and add vegetable stock, cream and the leftover parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and simmer on low temperature while you prepare the rest of the dish.

In a medium sized pan bring water to a boil. Add salt into the boiling water and cook the penne al dente. Drain and set aside. In a dry non-stick pan toast the poppy seeds in 2-3 minutes.

Pour the beetroot sauce over the penne and serve immediately. Sprinkle with fresh thyme, the toasted poppy seed and some parmesan.

Enjoy!

Superfood Breakfast: Vegan Sugar-Free Almond Cashew Walnut Coconut Porridge

February 11, 2013 5 Comments

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Sunday was all about snow. The whole city was white and pretty so we decided to walk around in the City Park and take winter photos.

City Park (Városliget) is a public park in Budapest, close to the city centre. It is located in the 14th district of Budapest. Its main entrance is Heroes’ Square (Hősök tere), one of Hungary’s World Heritage sites. The first trees and planified walkways were established in 1751 and after the public park was created in the first decades of the 19th century the present-day name, Városliget was accepted and it became the first public park in the world.

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City Park was the main venue of the 1896 millennium celebrations of Hungary, by which time Andrássy AvenueMillennium Underground and the Grand Boulevard were built. City Park has the largest artificial ice surface in Europe; and it is also the home of the Vajdahunyad Castle, the Gundel Restaurant, the zoo and grand circus and the famous Széchenyi Thermal Bath.

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The park was calm and quiet. We could only hear the snow crackling under our feet. I don’t know why but I love this sound.

Our mission was (in addition to take photos) to visit the city park lake and feed the ducks. The lake has warm thermal water so during winter it is the home for these cute birds. I knew that feeding the ducks with bread, chips, crackers or popcorn can lead to excessive weight and malnutrition for the birds as well as many other problems. To avoid this you can buy proper duck food from a machine next to the lake.

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It was so much fun to feed the birds who were brave enough to come out of the lake and get closer to me.

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Back to the superfood breakfast… This is a ‘must try’ porridge. I have to tell you… you can’t live without trying to make and eat it. It’s so healthy, nutritious, delicious and a good source of antioxidants. And something else… it is not only sugar-free and vegan, it’s gluten free and paleo too.

Don’t miss it! I promise, you will love me for this recipe! 🙂

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Vegan Sugar-Free Almond Cashew Walnut Coconut Porridge
(Recipe inspiration: Against All Grain)

Ingredients (serves 2)

– 1/3 cup walnut
– 1/3 cup almond
– 1/3 cup cashew
– 1 ripe banana, peeled, cut into slices
– 1 cup coconut milk (or any other non-dairy milk)
– 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon salt + pinch of salt

Method

Place the nuts in a bowl, add 1 teaspoon salt. Fill the bowl with water until the nuts are completely covered and soak overnight on the kitchen counter.

The next morning drain the nuts and rinse them a couple of times until the water is clear.

Place the drained nuts into a food processor, add sliced banana, coconut milk, desiccated coconut, cinnamon and pinch of salt. Blend all together until it is smooth (about 8-10 minutes). If you find it very thick, you can dilute with a bit more coconut milk. You can serve as it is or put the porridge in a pot and heat over medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped almond, cashew and coconut chips.

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Butternut Squash And Black Beans Taco & Quesadilla

February 8, 2013 1 Comment

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I love traveling. Who doesn’t? I have so many places on my bucket list, places that I would love to visit one day… sooner is better than later. 🙂

I have a notebook where I collect the addresses of all the interesting places, cute shops, cafes, markets, restaurants (especially with the options of vegetarian meals) I want to see, experience and try. I need to jot the names down otherwise I will forget about them. Before we travel somewhere I just open my notebook and check my notes if there is any place we must visit on the journey. As a result I usually make a long-long list (mostly with food related topics) about the restaurants and markets with the sign: “This one shouldn’t be missed!”. Thank God, my boyfriend doesn’t mind doing special food tours on our travels. 🙂

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Quesadilla

One of my bucket list places is the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, USA; a powerful and inspiring landscape that overwhelms our senses through its immense size. And if we are there we surely won’t miss the one and only entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas in Nevada. The resort city is known primarily for gambling, shopping and fine dining. It is famous for its consolidated casino-hotels (here is a tip where to stay for the first time) and associated entertainment.

I found a few good restaurants in Vegas with vegetarian (Mexican menu) and vegan options too. If we are there we’ll definitely try these places. Both of them look really good and I’m always amazed if a restaurant has delicious vegetarian and vegan meals to offer.

Which places are on your bucket list?

Anyway, back to my yum Mexican taco and quesadilla. Here you go, two easy to make weekdays dinner recipes!

Butternut Squash And Black Beans Taco & Quesadilla

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

For the taco
– 250-300 g butternut squash, peeled, diced
– 240 g (1 jar) black beans, drained and rinsed
– 1 onion, chopped
– 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
– salt, pepper
– corn tortillas
– cooked rice
– guacamole
– 150 ml sour cream (you can use soy yoghurt to make it vegan) + 2 teaspoon chili sauce, mixed
– fresh coriander
– lime
– olive oil

For the quesadilla (same as for the taco)
– 150 g grated cheese

For the quacamole
– 2 ripe avocados, pitted and peeled
– 1 small onion, chopped
– 1 clove garlic, chopped
– juice of 1/2 lime
– salt, pepper
– fresh coriander, chopped

Method

To make the butternut squash mix: heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, add chopped onion and saute for a 2-3 minutes. Next stir in the diced squash and cook for 8-10 minutes. At the end add black beans, season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Cook for 4-5 minutes then set aside.

To make the tacos: toast tortillas (both sides for about 2 minutes) over an open flame or in a non-stick pan. Fill the tortillas with the butternut squash mixture, top with cooked rice, guacamole, chili sour cream, sprinkle with chopped coriander. Serve with lime wedges. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

To make the quesadillas: heat a non-stick pan and place one tortilla in the pan to warm. Sprinkle with grated cheese, spread some butternut squash mixture and rice over the cheese, sprinkle with cheese again and top with a second tortilla. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then flip it over and cook until the bottom is browned and the cheese is melted, another 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Slice and serve with quacamole, chili sour cream and fresh coriander.

To make the guacamole: scoop out the inside of the avocados. Mash it with a fork. Add chopped onion, garlic, lime juice, season with salt, pepper and chopped coriander.

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February Challenge: Going Sugar-Free For A Month

February 1, 2013 3 Comments

I. and I decided to do a sugar-free month again in February like last year. Our sugar consumption is always out of control at the end of the year (Christmas, New Year’s Eve), and needs to be directly addressed.

I can tell you: going sugar-free is quiet a challenge but I love it. This means no bittersweet chocolate bites every evening after dinner, no sweet pastries, no cakes, no sweet Valentine desserts. I don’t feel we will renounce of the mentioned sweets, we will find new savors and enjoy them.

Let’s see our strict rules…

We don’t eat/drink:
– sugar (powder, cane, coconut flower, palm, etc.)
– honey
– agave/maple/rice syrup
– any kind of food that contains the above mentioned sweeteners
– coffee, black tea, cocoa, alcohol

We eat/drink:
– fresh fruits (apple, lemon, grapefruit, orange, mandarin, kiwi, banana)
– dried fruits occasionally (dates, apricot, plum, etc.)
– sugar-free jam or any kind of cake that is sweeten with banana, orange, beetroot, carrot or apple
– lots of water, herbal tea, freshly squeezed vegetable or fruit juices

Trying to avoid:
– dairy
– egg
– baked anything fro all-purpose flour

Trying to eat more:
– raw vegetables, fruits
– nuts: almond, walnut, hazelnut, sunflower seed, cashew, etc.
– grains: millet, buckwheat, bulgur, brown rice, quinoa, pearl barley
– beans, lentils
tofu

Have you tried going sugar-free for a while? How did you manage? Was it successful?

Orange Marmalade And Bocuse d’Or 2013

January 30, 2013 1 Comment

About three weeks ago I ordered 12 kg organic blood oranges through a Hungarian delicate webshop. The oranges came from Sicily, Italy. You can see on the photos how beautiful they were and whatever I made from them (juice, cake, marmalade) the flat smelt amazing. They were tasty, juicy, tangy but sweet enough to enjoy.

Marmalade is a fruit preserve made from the juice and peel (I used the whole orange) of citrus fruits boiled with sugar and water. It can be produced from lemons, limes, grapefruits, mandarins, sweet oranges, bergamots and other citrus fruits, or any combination thereof. I was looking for an easy-to-make recipe and one that doesn’t contain much sugar. This marmalade I cooked is a bit sweet, a bit tangy and a bit bitter, the perfect combination I think.


I don’t know if you have ever heard of the Bocuse d’Or but it is the prestigious event of the World Chef Championship and it takes place every two years in Lyon, France. The competition is named after Paul Bocuse, an 87 year-old French chef based in Lyon who is famous for the high quality of his restaurants and his innovative approaches to cuisine. He is one of the most prominent chefs associated with the nouvelle cuisine, which is less opulent and calorific than the traditional cuisine classique, and stresses the importance of fresh ingredients of the highest quality. Bocuse’s main restaurant is the luxury restaurant l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, near Lyon, which has been serving a traditional menu for decades. It is one of a small number of restaurants in France to receive the coveted three-star rating by the Michelin Guide.

I’m happy to annouance that Tamas Szell (plus Team Hungary) is the first Hungarian Gourmet Chef ever who competed with the best chefs of the world at Bocuse d’Or 2013 last week. Tamas is 30 year-old and works as a sous chef at Onyx Restaurant in Budapest (a restaurant that was the second in Hungary to get its first Michelin-star but the first where only Hungarian chefs cook).

Tamas and his team finished the competition at the amazing 10th place (see the whole final result and courses here)! What an achievement! We, Hungarians are so proud of him! The other unbelievable thing is that Hungary won the Best Poster Award at the event (you can see all the posters here). Congratulations to Tamas Szell and the Hungarian Team!

And here comes the orange marmalade…

Orange Marmalade

Ingredients (makes 2*440 ml and 2*230 ml jars)

– 2000 g organic oranges
– 400 g cane sugar
– 250 ml (1 cup) water
– 1 vanilla bean, cut into small pieces

Method

Wash the oranges thoroughly and let them dry. With a knife or a peeler remove only the colored part of the peel (very thinly, without the white part) and set it aside. This outer portion of the peel is what give marmalade its bitter taste. Place the skin in a bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside for two hours.

Meanwhile using your fingers, peel off the remaining white portion of the rind and discard this part. Slice the oranges into thin slices (the tough white part in the center must be cut out and discarded + remove the seeds if you find any). Place the orange slices into a large pan, add sugar and set aside.

After two hours rinse the skin, chop it finely and add it to the pan. Also add 250 ml water, cover the pan and over low heat let it simmer for 2,5-3 hours, stirring occasionally. The marmalade was getting thicker after 2 hours. Test the readiness of the marmalade by placing a teaspoon of the mixture onto a chilled plate or spoon, allowing it to sit for 30 seconds. Tilt the plate. The mixture should be a soft gel that moves slightly. If mixture is thin and runs easily, it is not ready.

While the fruit is cooking, fill a large pot full with water, place the jars and tops into the water (make sure the water covers everything). Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave everything in the pot until the marmalade is ready.

Remove jars from the water and drain on a clean towel. Start spooning the marmalade into the jars, place a piece of vanilla on top and close them with the lids. Place the warm jars into a basket or a box lined with blankets, kitchen towels, cover them with the blankets and let them cool in a dry place for a day. Once open, store in the refrigerator.