Spicy Mushroom Stew With Home Made Gnocchi

In most Eastern-European countries, stew is everything. Hungary, where I’m from, is no different, we have all sorts of stews including goulash, which Hungarians eat as a soup. I know, we’re weird. The cuisine is of course heavy in meat dishes. Luckily, a lot of meat based dishes can be turned into a lovely vegetarian meal quite easily. My mum used to make a great mushroom stew, but it can be a little bit bland for some tastes. So I spiced it up a little bit and decided to serve it with home made gnocchi (dead easy, don’t get scared!) instead of the traditional Hungarian pasta pearls. (That is something I don’t have the time and the patience to make.)
Although the word “stew” somehow indicates that it’s heavy and fulfilling, this dish is lovely both in summer and in winter, not heavy at all. Well, as long as you can resist eating too much gnocchi, which I find very hard! I’m all for pasta and bread. Requires about an hour of your time to prepare this yummy dish.

Yield: 4

Ingredients:

For the spicy mushroom stew

250g chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced

250g portobellini mushrooms, thickly sliced

1 onion, chopped finely

100ml wine (of any kind)

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

200g creme fraiche

3 heaped tbsp of full fat greek yogurt

3 tbsp of olive oil

2 handfuls of fresh, chopped parsley

2 tsp of lazy chilli or chilly flakes

2 tbsp of ground, sweet paprika

1 tbsp of flour

For the gnocchi:

2 large potatoes (you’ll need 250g cooked, mashed potatoes), diced

250g plain flour

1 egg

Method:

No need to add water as the mushroom will produce some liquid when cooking.

Caramelise the onion on the oil for 15 minutes using low heat. Let them turn golden brown. Use a large pan. This will allow you to make a creamier, tastier sauce. Add the paprika, the chilli and the wine. Cook it for 5 minutes. Add the vegetables, simmer for 5 minutes, then comes the parsley in. Cover it and cook it for 15 minutes. In a small bowl, mix the creme fraiche, the yogurt and the flour, then add the mixture to the mushroom stew, bring it to boil. Reduce heat and cook it for a further 10 minutes.

To prepare the gnocchi, cook 2 large potatoes until they are cooked, but still a bit firm, approximately 10 minutes when diced. Mash them with a fork, let it cool and measure 250g of mashed potatoes. Add the flour and the egg and combine well using your hands, forming a bread like dough.

(For the future: all you have to remember is the measurements: 250-250-1. Easy.)

Divide your dough into 3-4 portions and form snakes of approximately 1.5cm diameter of each dough ball. Keep dusting with some extra flour to avoid stickiness. Cut them into 2-2.5cm diameter pieces.

Bring the water boil in a large pan, add your gnocchi and cook them for 3 minutes or until they start to rise to the top. Drain them and all done.

Serve it immediately.

Mummy in a Tutu

Kid’s Risotto With Salmon, Courgette And Lots Of Cheese

One of the my little guy’s tolerated (i.e. cooked until it’s unrecognisable and well hidden under mountains of cheese) vegetables is courgette. Probably, because it’s a little tasteless. Therefore, I try to use it whenever I can. It can go into a lot of different dishes, including risotto. The other evening, when I was desperate to find a way to make him to eat some salmon (which is an absolute no-no) came up with this recipe. The creamy, cheesy rice is always a winner with children, so might as well try to add some extra, healthy stuff to it. It makes a great weaning meal for older babies, and as it’s not totally bland, grownups can enjoy it too. (But there’s no wine in it, sorry. Can’t blame the opening of a bottle of vino on the risotto.)

Tip: Of course, you cant prepare it with adding wine, like a regular risotto, it will be delicious. Try adding a little chilli flakes for an extra kick!

Yield: 4

Ingredients:

1 medium yellow onion chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

150g risotto rice

200g fresh or frozen salmon

100ml milk

1 courgette halved and sliced

2 plum tomatoes chopped

Basil and parsley (a handful of fresh and chopped or 2 tsp each if dried)

2 tbsp of olive oil

a knob of butter

100g cheddar cheese (or similar)  grated

1/2 litre of vegetable stock

salt and pepper to taste

Method: 

In a shallow pan, poach the salmon in the milk. You need to use very low heat, don’t let the milk burn. When it’s cooked through, flake the salmon and set it aside.

Heat the oil and fry the onions until they become fragrant. Add the courgette and the tomatoes along with the spices and let them soften on low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Prepare the stock with hot water and wash the rice.

Add the rice and half of the stock. Stirring often, keep adding more broth as soon as it starts to evaporate. When your rice is al dente, mix in the butter first and then the cheese. Lastly, add the salmon flakes, and serve it immediately.

Easy And Quick Home Made Pizza Base And Tomato Sauce

Bobcat has reached that infamous toddler’s life time event, where pizza is the best food in the whole world and I expect his love of pizza to stick around for a few years 🙂 So I decided to learn how to make yummy and healthy pizza at home, which doesn’t take too much time and effort. So here’s a recipe for both, absolutely takes no time to prepare them, therefore it’s ideal for a quick meal and you can add your favourite toppings. They are going to be thin, but rustic looking, fluffy pizzas. Even if you’re not a great cook, this will be a great success, trust me! Takes about 10 minutes to prepare the dough (plus 40-60 minutes rest, but that’s not necessary), another 10 minutes for the tomato sauce and 20 minutes baking.

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Recipe for the dough:

300g strong white bread flour (you can also use wholemeal or half and half)

200ml lukewarm water

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp instant yeast

Method:

Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt and the yeast. Add the warm water (it has to be warm to activate the yeast). Start stirring with a wooden spoon and when it’s getting firm start using your fingers and knead the dough for about 5 minutes. It has to be smooth and soft, but not sticky. If it’s sticky, dust it with more flour. You can set it aside for 40-60 minutes wich would result a fluffier, risen dough, see photos. Or not, if you don’t have time, just use the dough immediately, it will give you thinner pizzas. Works both ways for me. With the help of a roller pen you can determinate the thickness and the size of the pizzas. It’s all up to you, whatever you prefer.

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Recipe for the tomato sauce:

250ml tomato puree

500ml tomato passata

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp of dried oregano

6 leaves of fresh basil, chopped

Method:

Heat the oil in a medium pan and add all the ingredients. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Done! Really, it is. That’s all! You can add some onion and garlic if you like and a little chilli, if you want to, I did not use them, because the combination of onion, tomato and yeast can cause heart burn.

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Use your favourite toppings and in a preheated oven, on 175C, bake your pizza for 15-20 minutes. Place the rolled out base on the baking rack first, then add the tomato sauce and the toppings. This is a lot easier then transferring the loaded pizza base.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Lebkuchen Christmas Tree Decoration

So, I’ve been baking all week last week to get the recipe right for this year’s Christmas tree decoration. I’ve decided to make cookie ornaments this year, completely toddler friendly, if Bobcat gets his hands on them and takes a bite – no problemo, it’s just cookies. Oh, and the gorgeous smell of the freshly baked cookies will fill your house for days giving you an extra benefit for your efforts!

Find my recipe for the Lebkuchen (German honey and ginger cookie) here: Christmas Lebkuchen Recipe  image

Used 2 methods for decorating the cookies:

  • Home-made sugar paste. Easier than you think. Put some icing sugar into a small bowl, pour very little water on it and stir. Keep adding more water depending how thick paste you want. For dipping the watery paste is better, but for snow-white writing quality icing you need to add less water making the mixture thicker. Then ladle it into a clean plastic food zip bag and cut a tiny hole off one corner. This is the cheapest possible option to create your own icing pipe. You can also perfectly determinate the size of the hole. (I have tried Sainsbury’s White Designer Icing, but it didn’t work well for me.) I then used some edible white pearl and bronze sprinklers too.

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  • Ready to roll icing. I used Sainsbury’s Ready To Roll White Icing and I was very happy with it. With Christmas themed decorating cutters I made cut outs from the thinly rolled icing and stick them on the Lebkuchens with edible glue. Very very easy.

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To cut a hole into the cookies so that I can hang them on the tree I used a simple plastic drinking straw at around half way through the 10 minutes baking time. To hang them on the tree I used silk ribbon pieces, in festive red and green colour.

The preparation is very easy, the baking takes little time too, so I can recommend it as a children Christmas preparation activity, the decoration is good fun and it makes very little mess.