Five cheese baked mushroom and leek farroto

1lb mushrooms
1 leek
1 fennel bulb
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup white wine
2tbs butter
Cumin
Turmeric
Curry
Salt
Pepper

Grind some of the following cheeses to make a cup of shredded cheese
Emmenthaler
Grueyer
Talegio
Provolone
Parmesan

1 cup farro
2 cups water and 1 cup chicken stock

Process:

Rinse the farro and then put it on the stove with one cup water. Start adding more liquid as it starts boiling.

In a pan melt the butter and add some olive oil. Drop in the mushrooms sliced. As they wilt and soften, add the leek and the fennel, both thinly sliced. Cover them and let them simmer. Add spices salt and pepper.
Add the wine. Cover and simmer some more.
After about 3 min, add the cream.
Stir in the boiled farro which by now should have absorbed most of the liquid. Incorporate all together. Let it simmer for another 5 min.

Turn the oven on broil 400F to warm up.

Throw the cheese on top and move the pan from the stove to the oven.

Let the broiler melt the cheese. 15 min tops

Serve with a simple spinach salad with lemon dressing.

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Christmas Wreath Bread

The smell of this bread is what reminds me of growing up. My grandma made it occasionally and it was the best smell to come home to.. That and the pumpkin rice pudding, and my winter afternoon was made.

I made this bread a couple of years ago on Christmas, and I remember it being just perfect! But I didn’t write down the recipe! I have now made a pledge to never again cook something and not write it here. If not for you guys, then at least for my sake, cause I forget as soon as I finish cooking it.

Christmas Wreath Bread2

So, here is how I recreated my grandma’s Christmas Layered Wreath Bread:

Products:

1 cup milk

2 cups flour

2 eggs (one separated, keep the egg yolk for later)

1 tbs sugar

1 tbs salt

2 packs of dry yeast

1 stick of butter melted (prepare a butter brush)

1 cup of crumbled Bulgarian feta cheese (optional)

Sesame seeds for sprinkling at the end (optional)

Method:

Dissolve the dry yeast in a couple of table spoons of the lukewarm milk, add the sugar and 2 tbs of flower, make it into a liquid batter.

Sift the flour in a big bowl and make a sort of a valley in the middle of it. pour the yeast batter and the the beaten egg plus the egg white in there

Start adding flour into the batter with your hands.. Keep adding and kneading as you go. Once the dough is the consistency of soft putty, pour some flour on a clean cold surface and and start kneading there. Adding a bit of flour as you go..

DO NOT make the dough too hard! It has to be no harder than the soft part of one’s ear.

Shape it in a nice ball, place it back in the bowl and cover with a damp clean towel.

Keep in a warm location for about 30 minutes to let it rise a bit.

Put some nice music on and dance … you’ll burn the calories, you will need to be able to consume your masterpiece, once you’ve finished it…

Back to the bread now:

Take it out of the bowl. Cut in 6 equal pieces.

Take your rolling pin (a marble one would be great as it’s cold and heavy and you won’t have to press hard) and roll out the first piece in a rectangular sheet.

Place it on the same surface you kneaded the dough on.

Using your brush, spread some of the melted butter on the sheet of dough. Then sprinkle some of the crumbled feta.

Do the same with each of the remaining 5 pieces of dough. And place them on top of the first one, forming a layered dough rectangle.

Now, roll up the rectangle from the long side into a tight roll and as you roll it, try to elongate it slightly.

Take a sharp long wet knife and cut the roll into 6 triangular pieces.

Then cut each piece into two, forming little 90 degree triangles.

Take a round baking pan and grease it with the remaining butter liberally.

Arrange the end pieces of the dough in the middle of the pan, on their bottoms, so the tops look like a flower.

Arrange all the other triangles on their short sides facing with their long sides towards the center. Arrange them around the center flower. They don’t have to touch. They will rise one more time in the oven and fill up the remaining gaps.

That left over egg yolk, take it and stir it with a bit of warm water (to make it easier to brush on the bread)

Brush the top of the bread as thoroughly as you can.

Put in a 350 degree oven. Don’t wait for the oven to heat up. The warming up process will help with the secondary rising of the dough making it flakier.

Now start your second dance session for another 45 minutes and you’ll burn enough calories to have a couple more pieces of the bread. 🙂

Et Voila!

Christmas Wreath Bread

Enjoy!

From the Love Boat to a Courchevel Chalet

A new hot spot has emerged in Atlanta Georgia: St. Cecilia. Taking the place of the old tungsten lights, chrome and neon lights, fur coats and big hair glory days of BluePoint, St. Cecilia has gone through a dramatic makeover, that shows her age, but in a new fresh, kind of way. All the way down to her wood trimmed bar with beautiful sky high wall of wine and liquor, lean table styles with a variety of seating arrangments, heights and chair mismatches, to the soft color pallet, it indulges your Ohm senses without overpowering them, so your focus can be on the art of conversation.
St. Cecilia’s extensive wine list includes a good mix of old and new world choices, enough to satisfy the pretentious tastes, but not to overwhelm or intimidate vino novices (and first daters) with books the size of War and Peace.
The dinner menu features a good variety of dishes in primi and secondi piatti. I only tried the mushroom risotto and some of the salami selection and both were quite good, but I did hear friends complain about the overpriced and undersized hamachi. Two coin sized slices for $13? Yeah, I’d say…
As it was before when it was Bluepoint, St. Cecilia seems to attract an affluent crowd of 34 plus (give or take a few botox years) and maybe it should be a consideration of the owners that some of these paying customers, albeit looking like they are in their late 20s, are still human and are in need of reading aid when it comes to the menu. So, perhaps a little larger and less fancy fonts will do the trick and keep the guy who forgot his readers, but not his fat wallet… happy. Just a suggestion.

The ambiance is what will keep this place full especially in the winter months, as it has this cozy Courchevel chalet kind of feel. You can almost imagine the slopes on the other side of Peachtree road and the models turned snow bunnies flocking in straight from the runways of London and Paris (these are actually in abundance here)

The interior structure is very similar to the Bluepoint layout, so plan your bathroom breaks early. A couple of drinks later, climbing up dimly lit staircase all the way to the top in four inch heels, and getting into a corridor with no lights, can result in either a sprained ankle (God forbid!) or getting into the men’s room by mistake. They are so close together and at some point in the night going left or right may sound exactly the opposite to the ambidextrous, and mishaps can easily happen. Also, it’s a long way to the top of the mountain (staircase) and through the dark woods (corridors) to add an additional dextrality test – do we really need to wonder how to close these double doors with a little hook, only to find out that there is a gap between the them?

All in all the establishment at this point is at 4 stars: all perfect sans some kinks that we should attribute to being so young and still finding its perfect style. 20140118-120055.jpg20140118-120108.jpg20140118-120119.jpg

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Chilean Sea Bass on my mind

Chilean Sea Bass on my mind

I said I’d order the Chilean Sea Bass. He said it’s so good, I’ll think about it the next day… That sort of creeped me out, but I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve been to STEEL many times. Never tried the Chilean Sea Bass. Well, let me tell you, it is not like any other Sea Bass I’ve had before. It starts off as a feast for the eyes, as it comes with this glorious sizzling caramelized marinade on top, lying peacefully on a bed of steamed asparagus and brown rice (you can also have it on white or fried rice if you prefer). Then, with just one tip of my chopsticks, I took in one flake of the fish, and indulged in its melty airy sweet-tanginess. I am not sure if the miso-sake marinade that holds this piece of heavenly taste for 12 to 24 hours, does the trick, or the way the chef reportedly pan-sears, then oven-roasts it to lock in the flavor, but it’s definitely an experience you don’t want to leave out of your bucket list.. if you are a foodie that is.
Goes great with a cup of their fabulous flowering white tea in a glass pot.
Miles is a wonderful host, and never forgets a face. Ever since the first time I went for my lunch there, he’s been attentive, friendly and absolutely delightful!

If you are in the Atlanta area, you should definitely look STEEL up and visit. They also have great sushi and are a perfect location for happy hour drinks, or other evening gatherings. Lovely lovely place.

The Hot Bulgarian

The Hot Bulgarian

So I like to post these photos on Facebook and Instagram of things I just sort of put together, last minute, no recipe kind of dishes. This one got a request for the recipe. SInce I don’t follow a recipe, I decided to jot it down as soon as I can, so I don’t forget what I chopped in there.
Cause one thing is for sure – there’ s a lot of chopping in this tabbouleh. I know all about the machines that promise to make your life faster and easier by chopping stuff for you.. well, I have them all, I wouldn’t do my tabbouleh in there.. Maybe I’m a tabbouleh snob, but I like my chopped cucumbers in nice square shapes, edges in tact. I think it contributes to the taste of the dish. The machines tend to make stuff mushy and it starts releasing its juice too early. You don’t want that. You want the juices concealed as much as possible, so when you start tossing it with lemon juice and olive oil and some Himalayan salt, that veggies are still discernable.
The traditional Bulgarian “shopska” salad is tomatoes and cucumbers with onions parsley and feta cheese. This is obviously a departure from the traditional recipe, but honestly every house in Bulgaria has its own twist to the Shopska, so here are just a few of mine. Without further adue, here goes (as far as I remember…):

1 pretty big bunch of Italian parsley (the organic Italian parsley in Whole Foods would usually suffice)
1 or 2 small heads of Frisee salad (I also use baby arugula, baby spinach or any other baby greens variety.. if you have a bigger container of it, just grab a handful and toss in there.)
1/4 cup of bulgur wheat (that you have soaked for at least 2-3 hours before hand)
1 large chopped tomato (I cut mine in half and then slice lengthwise once more. Then cut three times across and then chop it. it makes nice almost square pieces)
1 organic cucumber peeled (even though they are organic peel is where most toxins will get trapped. So just to be on the safe side always peel your cucumbers and apples, but make sure you wash them BEFORE that! Very important!)
1 bunch of fresh green onions – chopped
1/2 bunch of fresh dill ( I just love dill, there is no reason for it to be in here, but i love love love dill.. so it’s up to you )
1 habanero pepper – cut lengthwise in two, clean out seeds and inside veins, then wash with cold water to diminish the heat (if it’s not bothering you, then let it be like that) then cut in more lengthwise slices and then chop.
1 lemon – squeeze the bujeezus out of it, and pour the juice on top of the salad
3-5 table spoons of your best olive oil.
Himalayan salt to taste.
3-4 (or more if you are not planning to kiss anyone that night) cloves of garlic – I also like to chop these, and not squeeze or mash them.. But I’m just weird like that, It’s ok if you want to use shortcuts and other kitchen equipment.

Once all your ingredients are in, wash your hands really well, and rinse them very well (of any soap residue) and use them to incorporate every little morsel into the juices of the other and the lemon juice and olive oil. OR, you can buy these “helping hands” and use them instead. I prefer using them, for two reasons – better hygiene and also, when i use my hands, half of the tabbouleh gets stuck on them, and I find myself licking them like a cat.. not exactly what guests would like to see, if they are in your house when you make it.

It’s really great if you could chill it for a few minutes before serving, but it is so good, that I doubt anyone would have the patience..
Just dig in!

Let me know how it tastes.

Optional additions
1. toasted Sesame seeds
2. Chia seeds
3. Sprouts of any kind!
4. Sunflower sprouts – mix in like th frisee salad.
5. More peppers of any variety – roasted or fresh..
6. Eggplant – roasted and peeled and chopped.
7. Sweet onions – chopped

I usually add one of the above and change the greens to make it a different salad..

So just from this recipe you can make at least 10 other different salads.

If you are not on dairy-free regimen, then you can also add Feta Cheese crumbles and eat it with chunks of crusty bread for scoop, instead of a fork…

Makes a great addition to any grilled meat or fish, or as a side dish to a grain like quinoa or brown rice.

Siesta

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Life would just slow down to a pleasant slow motion and soon to a freeze frame… The noises of kids playing on the street would subside, the aroma of the slow cocking minestrone in the kitchen would tickle your nose, mixed with the gardenias and the lemon tree blossoms, a Don Giovani aria would slowly lull you in a pleasant afternoon siesta…