Tag: savoury

Stuffed Butternut Squash With Mushroom And Couscous

October 1, 2013 2 Comments


I started the pumpkin season with this stuffed squash recipe and it became one of my favourite autumn main courses. Sweet soft butternut squash with a nice spicy heat from chili and packed with porcini and couscous and other herbs. Yum!

I found the recipe in one of Jamie’s cookbook (Happy Days with the Naked Chef). The dish is really perfect for cold fall and winter days because it warms our heart and soul. 🙂 Jamie made it with rice and pine nuts but I changed these ingredients for couscous and walnuts. The interesting thing is that the rice or couscous cooks in the squash using only the moisture from its flesh.


Stuffed Butternut Squash With Mushroom And Couscous

Ingredients (serves 4)

– 1,5 kg butternut squash, cut in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds and soft fibres
– 1 small handful dried porcini mushroom
– 1 red onion, finely chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
– 5 pieces sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
– 100 g couscous
– 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
– 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
– 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
– 1/2 handful walnuts, very coarsely chopped
– olive oil
– salt, black pepper


In a bowl soak the porcini in 200 ml water for about 5 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C (392F).

Using a spoon, score and scoop out some extra flesh from the length of the squash. Finely chop this flesh and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a  frying pan and add chopped red onion and garlic. Saute them for a few minutes, then add coriander, chili, rosemary, the chopped butternut squash flesh and the sun-dried tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes until tender. Add the porcini and soaking water, season with salt and black pepper and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the couscous and walnuts, then spoon the mixture tightly into the 2 halves of the squash and then press the halves together.

Rub the skin of the squash with olive oil, wrap it in foil, place in a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for about 1,5-2 hours until the squash is tender.


Spinach Gorgonzola Strudel With Sesame Seeds From Karin Of Yum And More Blog

September 3, 2013 1 Comment

fresh Turkish spinach

Karin and I met two years ago in London at Food Blogger Connect.  We got on well for the first time we started talking. Karin likes talking a lot… and I love listening to her stories for hours. She is lively, friendly and funny. She writes the wonderful blog Yum and More.

Hers she is sharing a delicious struder recipe. Karin says: “I am very excited about doing this guest post on Zita’s wonderful blog Zizi’s Adventures for two reasons: it means that Zita and Ivan’s precious child has arrived into this world and because it is an honor.

I have chosen a simple recipe for spinach gorgonzola strudel with sesame seeds. It is delicious and elegant, a perfect combination of tastes and can be ready within an hour and 15 minutes. Although we never ate spinach when I was a child and I didn’t like it as a teenager I really love it’s versatility now and will buy it fresh whenever I see nice spinach at an acceptable price. I then wash it and shrink it in olive oil as described below and freeze it in portions of around 300 grams about the amount left over from 500 grams of fresh leaves. I prefer Turkish spinach to the local German kind, its stems are longer and the leaves are thinner and don’t leave that thickness on your tongue that some spinaches do. I use spinach in pasta sauce, on quiche or pizza, and in this lovely spinach strudel that makes a perfect light meal for three with a side of tomato or other salad, a dollop of yoghurt. It is also perfect as an appetizer for a larger crowd.”

spinach mound on pastry

Spinach Gorgonzola Strudel With Sesame Seeds


– 270 g puff pastry, rolled into a rectangle
– 120 g ripe Gorgonzola cheese or other blue/green cheese
– 500 g fresh spinach or 300 g cooked spinach leaves
– 6 large mushroom, cleaned and cut into pieces*
– olive oil
– 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
– 1 teaspoon Arrabiata spice mix (a spicy chili based mix used for pasta sauce usually contains: garlic, tomatoes, hot chili, carrots, celery, basil and salt)
– 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
– 1/2- 1 clove of chopped garlic, optional to taste
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– flour for dusting while rolling pastry dough
– 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
– plain yoghurt for serving

* You can leave out the mushrooms if you prefer.


If you are using fresh spinach, cut off the stems and wash the leaves 2-3 times until no sand or dirt remains. Spin the leaves in a salad spinner to shake off excess water.

Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Now place all the spinach leaves into the pan at once, squish them in or pile them up, don’t worry they will shrink. Cover with a lid or other top. After 3 minutes lift the top and add some salt, mix and stir gently until all leave have collapsed. Do not overcook you just want the leaves to shrink together. Remove from the heat and put spinach in a colander to let any further water drip off and to cool it.

Cut the Gorgonzola into smaller pieces.

Preheat the oven to 180° C.

Wipe down the pan you used to shrink the spinach and reheat on medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Put in the chopped shallot, the mushrooms and the garlic if using, stir-fry for 4 minutes lowering the heat so that it doesn’t burn. Squeeze the spinach one last time to remove any excess water, roughly chop it and put it in the pan. Add the Arrabiata mix. Stir the mixture carefully to blend and remove from the heat.

Roll out the dough on baking paper to the size of a baking sheet – use some flour if needed. Place the spinach mixture on the dough carefully making an even mound of it on one end of the long side of the baking sheet. Leave a spinach free rim of dough on either end of the mound. The spinach will still be warm and will make the dough soft so you need to be fast and careful.

Distribute the chunks of Gorgonzola along the spinach and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Now roll up the strudel carefully. Start by folding in the short sides and then rolling up the long way. Use the baking paper and a dough scraper for help. The dough will be soft because the spinach is warm.

Turn the strudel over if necessary so the seam is on the bottom, and the strudel in the middle of the baking sheet on the baking paper. Cut two small slit in the top to release steam or make 2 holes and decorate them with pastry cut-outs. Brush the roll with egg wash and bake for 35 minutes until the pastry is done and golden brown.

Serve in slices – use a bread knife to cut the slices – with a dollop of yoghurt and enjoy!

spinach strudel served


Interview to get to know Karin more…

Where are you from?
K: I am orginally from the United States I was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in New England and in France living with my French Grandmother outside of Paris.

Where do you live?
K: I live in Frankfurt am Main, Germany since 1984 and have lived in Germany since 1977. I really like living in Frankfurt but hope to retire to the United States some day.

What is the name of your blog?
K: Yum and More.

How long have you been blogging?
K: Since September 2010

When did you start cooking/baking?
K: As a child and for my family as a teen.

Who (where) did you learn cooking/baking from?
K: From my Grandmother, my mother and from my own curiousity.

What is your signature dish?
K: My “Leaning Towers of Peaches and Tomatoes”. My lasagna is the most asked for but it is not my personal favorite although delicious. My best dishes definitely contain lemon, tarragon or cilantro, mustard and vinegar and are composed salads or veal dishes such as “blanquette de veau”, my sauces are pretty awesome too.

What is your favorite vegetarian/vegan meal?
K: This strudel or something with fresh peas. I detest green beans!

Where do you get inspiration from?
K: Everywhere! The market, my travels, magazines, blogs, cookbooks…. I soak up inspiration through my eyes and it goes straight to my taste buds and my food inspiration memory.

What was the most memorable food you have eaten during your travels?
K: Definitely whole crab in thick curry sauce on Lankayan Island in Malaysia. I also found Singapore to be an amazing city for food inspiration.

Name three things you always have in your fridge!
K: Mustard, cheese, fresh herbs

Is there a food that always reminds you of home?
K: Lobster, clams, steak and cheesecake

What would people be surprised to find in your kitchen? Is there anything you want to share?
K: I have 30 types of mustard and 15 types of vinegar. I prefer cooking with gas to induction and I love my built-in steamer. My kitchen would not be complete without the frog picture.

Chargrilled Sweet Pepper And Walnut Dip + The Jewelled Kitchen Cookbook

July 13, 2013 7 Comments


I remember the first time when I met Bethany (the girl behind Dirty Kitchen Secrets). I arrived to London on a greyish August day in 2011 and I was going to meet Sarka and Giulia for the first time at Sydenham station. The girls were waiting for me and after giving big hugs to each other for the first time, we walked back to Sarka’s place. There she was Beth with her sister, Joslin. Beth was smiling, talking a lot and I found her funny and crazy at the same time. Her liveliness and personality is what makes an impression in you. During the next couple of days at Food Blogger Connect I got to know her a bit better. She was friendly, caring and helpful (and she still is! :)) and we had so many memorable moments along with the other food bloggers that weekend.

She told me then that she was going to write a cookbook about Middle Eastern cuisine. She put so much work and effort in it and finally her book, The Jewelled Kitchen was out in bookstores in Europe and Australia on 4th July (Middle East 11 July, USA 1 October). I was so happy and honoured to be asked by Beth to take part in her virtual cookbook launch. The book is published by Duncan Baird Publishers, photographed by another dear friend, Sarka Babicka. Food styling was done by Emily Jonzen, prop styling by Lucy Harvey. All in all The Jewelled Kitchen is a wonderful, beautiful and great book. “It takes you on an unforgettable adventure of Middle Eastern and North African cuisines. We are all familiar with a few mezze favourites – hummus, falafel, tabbouleh and stuffed vine leaves – but Bethany offers up a whole host of other treasures.”

As a vegetarian I found the book very useful to get to know the vegetarian Middle Eastern cuisine more. There is a whole chapter for vegetarian meals and we shouldn’t forget the delicious mezzes and desserts. There are many recipes in the cookbook I would like to try in the next few months.

I picked this chargrilled sweet pepper and walnut dip recipe from Beth’s book. As Beth says: “…This recipe is traditionally made using sun-dried Aleppo peppers, finely chopped to a coarse paste. These peppers, which hail from Syria and neighbouring Turkey, have a high oil content and a hind of earthy smokiness in their flavour. … It’s lovely as a dip, spread on flatbreads, mixed into hearty stews, or tossed with pasta or potatoes.” I used red kapia peppers to make it.


Chargrilled Sweet Pepper And Walnut Dip

Ingredients (serves 4)

– 500 g roasted sweet pointed peppers
– 75 g walnut halves, roughly chopped
– 55 g fine breadcrumbs
– 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
– 1/2 teaspoon paprika
– 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
– 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes (optional)
– 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
– finely chopped mint leaves, to sprinkle
– sea salt
– warm Arabic bread, to serve


Slice off the tops of the roasted peppers, discarding any seeds. Chope the flesh finely and put it in a mixing bowl.

Add the walnuts, breadcrumbs, pomegranate molasses, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, Aleppo pepper flakes (if using) and oil. Season to taste with salt. Mix well, then set aside for about one hour to allow the flavours to develop.

Put ingredients in a serving dish, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with mint. Serve at room temperature with warm Arabic bread.


More recipes from Bethany’s cookbook from fellow food bloggers:

Chickpea flour quiche from Giulia
Slow-braised stuffed squid from Emiko
Eggs poached in tomato and pepper stew from Sarka
Moroccan carrot salad from Karin
Stuffed caramelized onions with tamarind and allspice from Sarah
Lamb rice with cripsy potato base from Sally
Date fudge from Regula

Zucchini Flower And Tomato Tian From Emiko Of The Emiko Davies Blog

June 20, 2013 2 Comments

zucchini flower tian 2

Let me introduce you my third guest, Emiko who writes her wonderul food blog Emiko Davies. We met a few years ago, thanks again for Food Blogger Connect (it really connects people!). Giulia introduced her to me and I think we had our first long conversation on the first day of the conference at dinner time. Since then we haven’t stopped talking! 🙂 Emiko loves historical cookbooks and of course she brought a recipe inspired by Elizabeth David, one of her favourite food writers. Here is Emiko…

“Elizabeth David is one of my favourite food writers of all time. Her writing is witty, decisive and entertaining. She wrote about the real food culture and traditions of sunny Mediterranean countries, educating and inspiring the mid-century British palate. This tian recipe is inspired by one of her articles on a simple and rustic Provençal picnic dish consisting of eggs and seasonal vegetables. Named after the earthenware dish it is baked in, the tian, like so many good country dishes, doesn’t really have a strict recipe, it changes from kitchen to kitchen and season to season. The basic idea is to use what you have on hand: a good proportion of cooked seasonal vegetables, perhaps spinach or potatoes (or both), zucchini, even a rich tomato sauce or rice can be added to the mix for colour or texture; plenty of fresh herbs; some grated cheese; and eggs, beaten like you would for an omelette. Eaten hot or cold, it’s a great portable dish to take on picnics or barbeques. This recipe includes mixing a fresh tomato sauce through the eggs for a marbled effect of rich red sauce and golden eggs. It is topped with fresh zucchini flowers and is just as pretty to look at as it is tasty!”

zucchini flower 1

Zucchini Flower And Tomato Tian

– 500 gr of ripe tomatoes
– 1 clove of garlic
– a handful of fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme or marjoram
– about 6 zucchini flowers or enough to cover the tian
– 6 eggs
– a handful of grated Gruyere or Parmesan
– salt and pepper to taste
– olive oil


You will need a suitable pan to bake this in, preferably earthenware if you want to be traditional, about 20cm long and at least 5cm deep. Heat the oven to 160°C.

Prepare a sauce with the tomatoes by first scoring the skin with a cross on their bottoms, then blanching them for 1 minute in boiling water. Place them in a bowl of cold water and then you will easily be able to peel off their skins. Dice them roughly.

In a large skillet, very gently heat up the chopped garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until it just begins to colour. Add the tomatoes and let simmer and reduce for about 10 minutes. Set aside but keep warm.

Prepare the zucchini flowers by cutting them in half, length-wise and taking out the stamen (you can leave the stalks on if you like) so that you now have flat flower halves.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl until frothy, add your favourite herbs, chopped, the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Pour into the baking dish, mix through the hot tomato sauce (it is important that the mixture be hot not cold) and arrange the squash blossoms on top, flattened out, to cover the surface. Drizzle a couple of glugs of olive oil over the top and bake for about 20 minutes or until the eggs are set and golden brown.

Serve hot or cold with plenty of crusty bread.

zucchini flower tian3


Interview to get to know Emiko a bit more…

Where are you from? Where do you live?
E: It’s not an easy question to answer in a short sentence for me as I’m such a roamer! But I now live in Melbourne – it’s been one year exactly since I moved here from Florence with my husband Marco. I was in Italy for 7 years and before that 4 years in the US and before that 8 years in China, but I am half Japanese and half Australian and grew up in Australia!

What is the name of your blog?
E: My blog doesn’t really have it’s own name as is the usual thing to do – it’s part of my website, emikodavies.com.

How long have you been blogging?
E: I can’t believe it as it seems just like yesterday I started blogging but last December my blog was 2 years old!

When did you start cooking/baking?
E: As soon as I could reach the stove top (helped with a small stool), I can remember my grandmother teaching me how to make scrambled eggs. I’ve always loved being in the kitchen.

Who (where) did you learn cooking/baking from?
E: When I was little, I learned a lot from helping my mother and my grandmother in the kitchen. As a teenager, I loved baking and devoured cooking magazines and cookbooks – I have to say that the very first of Donna Hay’s cookbooks when she was with Marie Claire and Jamie Oliver’s first two cookbooks were vital in my college years and I cooked so much out of them I memorised many of the dishes!

What is your signature dish?
E: I don’t think I have one, I’m usually trying out different dishes! There is one that I love eating but I always get Marco to make it for me – tagliolini with a lemon and goats cheese sauce. It’s a staple in our house.

What is your favourite vegetarian/vegan meal?
E: Oh, so many to choose from. The ones that come to mind first also happen to be some of my favourite comfort foods, like eggs poached in tomato sugo (another staple!) or a Japanese dish of fried eggplant topped with miso sauce. Even just simple spaghetti with aglio, olio, peperoncino (garlic, oil and chilli) is hard to go past!

Where do you get inspiration from?
E: Above all from traditional regional Italian cooking. During the many years I spent living in Tuscany I developed a great fascination with traditional, even historical, dishes. I have a growing collection of historical cookbooks that I love reading through for ideas – from Pellegrino Artusi (1891) to Ada Boni (1927) to Bartolomeo Scappi (1570) to Elizabeth David (1956)!

What was the most memorable food you have eaten during your travels?
E: There is almost too much to write about for this question – a holiday in Puglia in Italy’s deep south was truly eye-opening for me, in terms of food. But another unforgettable experience was an amazing cooking class that my husband Marco and I took in Marrakech. After a treasure hunt for the ingredients in the souks, we made a fish tagine and the most heavenly Moroccan carrot salad and sesame biscuits. The carrot salad I have made over and over again. We were also on our honeymoon so that could have also helped make it so memorable!

Name three things you always have in your fridge!
E: Unsalted butter, free-range eggs and organic, whole milk.

Is there a food that always reminds you of home?
E: My mother always made such a variety of dishes, some Japanese, some “western”, that there isn’t really one thing that stands out. But maybe the closest thing is a quick dish that she used to make for us as kids; it’s the sort of thing I’ll make when I don’t feel well. It’s simply an egg, beaten with some soy sauce and scrambled with steamed or boiled rice. It’s nice eaten with some crunchy dried nori!

What would people be surprised to find in your kitchen? Is there anything you want to share?
E: I own a garlic crusher. It’s maybe not the craziest item to be surprised by in the kitchen but I love Elizabeth David’s article on garlic crushers being the most useless utensil in the kitchen – when she owned a homewares shop, she even refused to stock them! I personally like to crush garlic with the back of a knife and leave it at that, but the garlic crusher was a house warming gift and actually, I will admit to using it every now and then!

All photos are courtesy of Emiko Davies.

TĂşrĂłs Pogácsa – Cottage Cheese Scones

November 21, 2012 2 Comments

Pogácsa is a type of savory scone in Hungarian cuisine. Pogácsa is made from either short dough or yeast dough. As with scones and biscuits, eggs and butter are common ingredients, as is milk, cream or sour cream. Many traditional versions exists, with size, shape – the most common is round – and flavor variations in each region.

A dozen different ingredients can be found either in the dough, sprinkled on top before baking, or both: medium-firm fresh cheeses, aged dry hard cheeses, potato, pork crackling (tepertő), cabbage, black pepper, hot or sweet paprika, garlic, red onion, caraway seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds or poppy seeds. Pogácsa is a very popular savoury snack, it also can be eaten for breakfast. It is best to eat warm, fresh from the oven.

I learnt this recipe from my mom. When we baked it together we used Hungarian tĂşrĂł (cottage cheese/quark) but as an alternative you can use dry curd cottage cheese. By the way, they are dangerous! Why? My friend, Giulia put it the right way: “Is it impossibile to stop eating them when you start, right?” Yes, Giulia, you are right! :)To get my recipe visit The Hungarian Girl’s website here.