Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Zucchini Fritters with herbal sour cream dip

Today is Republic Day in Serbia, which means I have the day off. Even though it would be a great opportunity to enjoy national dishes, I am waiting for a friend to arrive in two weeks to discover the local goodies. Being off means loads of time to cook a fresh meal for lunch. 

Given the current temperatures, you might think I should rather cook a warming soup instead of a summer recipe, but I somehow have to lift the spirits with a summery dish, to at least be able to think of warmer days, which are yet to come. 

Over the last weeks we were facing temperatures far beyond 0°C and eating was more about surviving than enjoying. When I came here, I didn't expect winters to be that freezing, as during my summer stay, we were facing temperatures beyond 40°. So believe me when I say, I am not exaggerating at all. The greenmarkets are still empty, and the prices tripled because there wasn't any competition. Some brave sellers dug their way though the snow and hoped to sell at least part of their vegetables or fruits. 

While experimenting in my tiny kitchen, I came up with this delicious zucchini fritters. I wanted them to be light, yet packed with recognisable flavours. And I think the lemon zest and the spicy garlic do just that. 

Bonus points: the recipe is whipped up within minutes. 

For 6 large zucchini fritters you need :

500g zucchini (= 2 medium zucchinis)
2 large eggs
1 ts salt
1 ts freshly ground pepper
1 tbs freshly grated lemon zest
2 tbs finely chopped parsley
1 clove of garlic
50 - 75g flour
olive oil

For the dip:

250g sour cream 
1 onion or two shallots
2 garlic cloves
2tbs finely chopped parsley
4 tbs of chopped lettuce
a tsp mixed mediterranean spices


Use the large holes of a box grater and grate zucchini into a bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes then check if there's too much of extra liquid. If so drain the zucchini. 

Then prepare the herbal dip. Chop the onion(s), lettuce, parsley and garlic cloves. Stir them into the sour cream. Add the pepper, salt and mediterranean spices mix. Chill in the fridge until your fritters are ready.

Back to the fritters, add the salt, lemon zest, the chopped parlsey, garlic, pepper and the eggs. Mix the ingredients until the eggs cover all of the zucchini mixture. Slowly add flour and stir again.

In a large pan heat the olive oil. Form your fritters with two tablespoons. Carefully drop the mixture into the pan and depending on its size you can add 2 more fritters. Cook fritters until truly golden, then turn them and repeat the same. 

Once all the fritters are ready, serve with a generous spoon of herbal sour cream. 

Bon appétit 

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

It's been a while since I baked my last cookies, and here we go again with the next load! I guess man is a creature of habit. For more than two weeks now I've had my little cookies as a desert after my healthy lunch at work. I have to admit that I cannot resist sugar and I always need a little sweet element after a savoury dish. So this time I was thinking about the straight opposite of last time's crunchy chocolate chip cookies. Dried fruits, some walnuts and a lot of oat seemed to be the perfect solution.


When I tried the first cookie I knew that these would be regular guests in my cookie jar. The combination of cinnamon oats and raisins couldn't be any better especially with that gooey texture. If you don't like raisins, you can just replace them with dried cranberries.

 For 15-20 cookies you need:

100g butter
150g brown sugar
75g flour
1 egg
1/2 ts vanilla extract
1/2 ts baking powder
1/2 ts ground cinnamon 
1/4 ts salt
120g rolled oats
100g raisins
50g chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 175°C

In a large bowl, put together the butter, brown sugar, egg and the vanilla extract until you get a smooth mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Then stir the dry ingredients into the sugar-butter mixture. Stir in the raisins, walnuts and oats. 

It depends on how you prefer your cookies but if you like them thick and chewy, chill the dough in the fridge for a bit before forming the cookies on your sheet. 

The baking time needed for your cookies depends on your oven and on how long you chilled the dough. In general you should bake them for 10 to 12 minutes. Take them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. For those not used to making cookies here a little advice : Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for 3-4 minutes before you transferring them to a plate.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Chili con Carne

Let's spice up these cold winter days!

The  Serbian government has declared the state of emergency in the country. For three weeks now we've been dealing with extreme weather conditions and according to today's forecast it won't get any better within the next 3 weeks. So I decided that if my heaters don't manage to keep me warm, I would prepare a good old spicy Chili. 

The best thing about Chili is that starting with the basic recipe you can always add your favorite ingredients to give it some personal touch. I really love its colors. I find that the summery colors bring some sunshine into your plate, which is really needed during this extremely cold winter. 

For 6 bowls you need:

1 onion
1 clove of garlic
1200g minced beef 
600g red beans
300g canned corn
1200g fresh diced tomatoes 
1 chili pepper (optional)
200 g tomato concentrate 
2 ts cayenne pepper
salt & pepper

In a medium sized pot brown the onion, the garlic clove and minced beef in olive oil. Add the tomatoes and chili pepper and some of the seasonings. After 15 minutes you can add the canned corn and the red beans and some tomato purée. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Check and stir frequently. If you think that you will need a bit more tomato purée, add some more.  

As mentioned above you can add a lot of ingredients to give your Chili a personal touch. 
For instance, when I last cooked it for my friends, we decided to have our Chili in wraps. This is a very tasty alternative. You can add some Guacamole, sour cream or grated Emmental to it. These three ingredients definitely pimp your wrap. 


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

White Chocolate Chip Cookies

                                    There they are, golden brown white chocolate chip cookies

Memories, memories.... oh yeah! These are indeed lovely memories when it comes to white chocolate chip cookies! It always remembers me of my first trip to England. With 2 of my friends we were staying in a global village for 3 weeks. In our free time we discovered the small town we stayed in and at the end of the day we always ended up at Morrisons to buy these delicious white chocolate chip cookies. But this is more than10 years ago... To bring some of that England feeling back to my home, I decided to try to do some on my own. But it took a while until I FINALLY found a recipe that tastes almost like MORISSONS'

For 30-35 white chocolate chip cookies :

250g butter
1 egg
350g brown sugar
350 g chocolate chips
375g flour 
1 ts vanilla sugar

Preheat the oven to 150° celsius.

In a large bowl mix the butter and the sugar first until the mixture gets pale and fluffy . Then add the vanilla sugar and the eggs and mix again until you get an even dough. Now you can add the chocolate chips and the flour and knead into dough.

Roll rounded teaspoons of dough into balls, and place onto a baking sheet. 

Bake the cookies for 15-20 min. 


Decorate your cookies 

To give your cookies a personal touch you can also put some milk chocolate and cranberries on top. Actually this is really yummy. I once tried white chocolate & cranberry cookies which I liked a lot. And after the joy of white chocolate chip cookies I wanted to change a little bit. 35 cookies for 2 people is quite a lot, so after several days I thought it might be a good idea to change them a little bit. 

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