Monday, January 30, 2012

Oatmeal with Honey and Blueberries for Breakfast

Oatmeal is good for the heart. I do eat instant oatmeal during the week when I am pressed for time but on a weekend and days off I like cooking real oats. I serve my oatmeal with honey and fresh blueberries (or previously frozen). I use Bob's Red Mill extra thick rolled oats. As for the berries - it is summer in Chile and fresh organic blueberries are sold at Trader Joe's. I just bought a pound plus for $5.99 this Saturday. What a bargain! Have some oatmeal for energy and health!

Simple American Apple Pie

Love the pie? I do too. This weekend I made one in honor of me becoming the US citizen last week. The recipe is easy since I use frozen pie crusts. The pie turned out delicious. Below is the recipe.


5 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into bite size pieces
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
2 drops of pure vanilla extract
2 pie shells (9 inch each)
1 egg, beaten


1. Preheat oven to 425F. Take 2 frozen pie shells and put them in a refrigerator for about 1-2 hours prior to baking. In a large bowl combine apples, flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla and mix with your hands.

2. Take 2 pie shells from the refrigerator and fill one with the apple filling. Each pie shell comes in the baking tray which makes it very easy for baking. I usually take the other pie shell out of the tray, roll it in a ball and then using a rolling pin and some flour roll the dough out and layer it on top of the filled pie shell. I cut the extra dough off the sides and then slit few holes in the middle of the pie. I also use the extra dough to make few leaves and apples. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash. This time I used vegan pie shells made by the Maple Lane Bakery bought at Madison Co-op.

3. Bake the pie at 425F for 20 minutes. After that lower temperature to 350F and bake for another 30 minutes or until the pie is golden brown and bubbling. Let the pie cool off for about an hour or so and serve.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Squash Soup with Fried Sage Leaves and Balsamic Reduction

I am continuing to explore the cooking book from the Girl and the Fig's restaurant in Sonoma. Tonight I made the soup following the recipe for the butternut squash soup. However, I could not find the butternut squash so I used acorn and delicata squash instead. I also used less butter than the recipe called for. I made butternut squash soup before using a different recipe that called for many more spices such as cinnamon and cumin. It also took several hours to make. This recipe is much quicker. Total time was about 1 hour. Here is how I made it.


4 tablespoons of butter
1 yellow onion
4 celery stalks
2 carrots
1 large leek, white part only
1 shallot
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small acorn squash
1 small delicata squash
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups of water
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 bunch of fresh sage leaves
Olive Oil
Balsamic vinegar


1. Chop onion, carrots, celery, leek, and shallot. Peel, clean and cut acorn and delicata squash. Melt butter in a big soup pot on medium low heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, leek, shallot and garlic and saute them until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

2. Next add squash and water to the pot and bring it to a boil. Salt and pepper to taste. Once boiling reduce heat to a simmer and let cook until squash and other vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Add heavy cream to the pot, stir and remove it from the heat. Using a blender puree vegetables from the pot. Transfer into a clean pot and taste for salt. Add more if needed. Keep soup on low heat.

4. To fry sage leaves I simply preheated olive oil in a small pan, added sage leaves and just fried them for few minutes. I transferred them to a plate with a paper towel to soak up extra oil.

5. To make balsamic reduction, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Simmer until 3/4 of the vinegar has evaporated.

6. Now it is time to serve the soup. Laddle the soup into a bowl and serve it with sour cream, fried sage leaves and balsamic reduction.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Columbia City Bakery

After a week spent at home due to the two storms that hit Seattle I decide it is time to get out and try a new bakery. We choose Columbia City Bakery. I bought a bread from them in the farmers market before and even asked a co-worker to get me Walnut Levain Ficelle from it. And then my friend brought pastries from this bakery few weeks back, which I enjoyed very much. So, it is time to check it out.

This is my first time in Columbia City and it reminds me of other Seattle neighborhoods. Bakery Cafe is small. It has about 5-6 tables and a counter bar for sitting. We find a place and order several pastries: Fruit Danish, Sticky Pecan Bun (one of the favorites) and Morning Bun. Morning and Sticky Buns are much smaller in size than what I am used to. But it is good - fantastic taste and less calories :) All pastries are very delicious. We pick some bread to take home. Tasty!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Crab Cakes for Dinner

Making crab cakes is fairly fast and easy once you have all ingredients. They make for a nice dinner. You can serve them with a salad.


½ lb of cooked crab meat
1 egg
½ cup of bread crumbs
½ of small shallot, minced
1-2 tablespoon of finely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon of butter, melted
panko bread crumbs for coating
2 tablespoons of olive oil

To a large bowl add crab meat, egg, bread crumbs, shallot, cilantro, butter and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Salt to taste. Mix all ingredients together. Make crab cakes (about 2-3 inch in diameter). Roll each crab cake generously in panko bread crumbs.
Pour olive oil in a pan and fry crab cakes on medium heat for about 5 minutes per side until golden brown and cooked.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Creations with Caviar for New Year's Celebration

This year we decided to spend money on champagne and caviar for the New Year's celebration. This was our New Year Eve's dinner and the rest of the caviar was used to make New Year's Day breakfast.

We got three types of caviar - 2 black and 1 red from the Seattle Caviar Company located on Eastlake. The owner Betsy was helping us out and let me try different types of caviar they sell. I settled on these three.

Choosing champagne was easy - 4 years ago when I was in Paris I got one bottle to bring back with me and loved it. Ever since then I like getting it for special occasions. Pete's Wine shops on Eastlake and in Bellevue always have it in stock. It is Champagne Ruinart

So, what can we do with the caviar? It is usually served as a garnish. Though, in my native Russia we would simply spread it on a white bread with butter. I just received a cookbook for Christmas from one of my favorite places in Sonoma The Girl and The Fig. We browsed through it and found an appetizer recipe with brioche, creme fraiche, lox, black caviar and chives. That's it! This is what we made.

We got brioche bread from Le Panier French Bakery, lox and creme fraiche from PCC and chives from the local grocery store. Following the recipe we sliced the brioche bread in small triangles, toasted them in the oven at 375F until golden on the sides and let them cool. To assemble we took one toast, put a little bit of creme fraiche on one corner and a small slice of salmon on another corner, placed a little bit of black caviar on creme fraiche and sprinkled with chopped chives. We also did few appetizers using untoasted brioche, creme fraiche and black caviar. The end result is seen below.

This was our New Year Eve's dinner. We did not have dessert or any other food. This was it!

So, New Year's Day. We still have red caviar left and I decide on Russian Blini (crepes). I made blini using my recipe which was posted a week or so ago on my blog and served blini with creme fraiche and red caviar. I also had few with creme fraiche and honey from my dad's bees in Lithuania. Delicious breakfast! This was truly decadent meal(s) that I only make few times a year.