Author: Valerian

My kids love dumplings. Every time I make soup it is expected that I will make dumplings. For me it is a random thing, experimenting with different proportions, different flours, an add this, add that kind of thing. They always turn out different, but they are always a success.
I think my personal favorite is when they are made with semolina flour and when I incorporate cooked vegetables. What kind of vegetables? It depends on what kind of soup I am making.
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This time I was making my favorite Summer Pea Soup, so the candidates were cooked carrots, parsnips, celery root and peas. If you are making a different style soup, you can put your favorite things into them. Make sure you let us know how it turns out!

Vegetable Semolina Dumplings
Serves 4
Semolina Dumplings full of vegetables. Ideal for soups. Kids love them.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups cooked vegetables
  2. 1 cup semolina
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1/2 tsp salt
  5. pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil
  2. In a medium bowl, mash the cooked vegetables.
  3. Add semolina, eggs, salt and pepper.
  4. Stir until a thick batter forms.
  5. With a soup spoon, form tablespoon-sized dumplings and drop them carefully into the boiling water.
  6. Boil the dumplings until they bob to the surface, approximately 5 minutes.
  7. Add them into a soup or enjoy by themselves.
Emperors Crumbs https://www.emperorscrumbs.com/

One day Katy suggested we make grilled corn as an end of summer treat. For me as a Central European used to actual cold winters, the concept of “end of summer” in California is slightly weird. But so be it; it’s a great reason to celebrate and everybody likes corn.

We’re always trying to teach our kids about food: not only to eat it but also to make it, and to think about what they like and to try new things. There are flavors we all like more or less, which of those flavors taste great together? What works, what doesn’t? Can we make something EVEN MORE delicious? Neither of our kids is really adventurous, in life and at the table, but we’ve found ways to encourage them to taste a wider range of stuff. Corn is a great vehicle for experimentation. Each of the family member got the task to make their own version.

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I decided to limit the number of ingredients on the corn to three since my son made a series of bacon and … trials and errors. Unfortunately I had to be the one to judge and while bacon with cocoa and brown sugar was ok, the “find all spices and dump them on the bacon” version was definitely an error. I could not even lie, my expression and running off to brush my teeth said everything. Based on this experience, everybody had to eat their own corn!

Unfortunately our little one decided to not participate, because she is missing her front teeth and she has a hard time fighting with the corn on the cob. She promised to make it up at the next challenge.

Stilton Rocket – Corn & Stilton Cheese

This was my choice. I shaved few shards of Stilton and put it on the hot grilled corn. The shavings melted and took this friendly corn into a different universe.It is hard to describe the decadent pleasure of this one. It is like the heat coming from a fireplace on a cold day dressed in warm fuzzy jammies and wearing warm slippers. Perhaps the house is a very old one and here and there a whiff of mold completes the picture.
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Miso & Brown Butter Corn

The combination of miso and brown butter is amazing – I first read about it on Cookie and Kate, and it’s a perfect match for the sweet and smoky corn. We browned about 2 tablespoons of butter, added a generous teaspoon of white miso and brushed it over the roasted corn.
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Cotija Cheese, Lime and Chile

A Latin classic. Or maybe a specifically Mexican one? Educate us, please. Cotija has just enough salty funkiness to offset the zip zap of the lime and the burn of the chile.

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Italian Snow – Corn with Pecorino

A very adult choice for Bennett. I was surprised when he came up with this idea, but hey. This works! Salty sheep cheese sprinkled over warm and sweet corn. Flavor bomb!
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Butter and Chives

The last improvisation. We had one last ear of corn left and did not know what to do with it. Katy suggested herbs and I ran out to cut some of our chives from the garden. We used butter as glue and sprinkled on the chopped chives. Turned out excellent.
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One More “Corny” Group Photo

Just when you thought there won’t be a “corny” joke in a post about a corn, we totally fail you. It had to happen and you know it!
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Today it was my turn to make dinner. Originally I planned to make Jamie Oliver’s incredible “tray bake”, but I had some ripe plums peeking at me so I decided to try something different. A friend of mine makes this amazing Moroccan chicken, and that inspired me to use these plums as a base for this recipe. It turned out pretty well, even the kids liked it. Feel free to play with the recipe and let us know what you think and how you improved it.

Plum Chicken with Pistachio
Serves 4
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr 20 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr 20 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 chicken thighs
  2. 4 ripe plums
  3. strip of bacon (optional)
  4. 6 cloves of garlic
  5. 1/4 cup of dried cherries
  6. 1/4 cup of dried raisins
  7. 1 cinnamon stick
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 390F
  2. In a dutch oven render the bacon fat
  3. Once rendered set the bacon aside and add the chicken skin side down
  4. Brown the skin
  5. Cut the plums half and get rid of the seed
  6. Turn the chicken
  7. Put the plums around the chicken and sprinkle the rest of the ingredients (including the bacon) around the bird
  8. Put on the lid and put the chicken into the oven for 1h
  9. When 1h is done turn off the heat and leave the chicken in the oven
  10. After 1h and 20min take the dutch oven out and let it cool covered for another 20-30min
  11. Serve with rice
Notes
  1. If you decide to skip the bacon and sacrify the smoky meaty flavor, use olive oil when you brown the chicken
Emperors Crumbs https://www.emperorscrumbs.com/

If you are reading this you either made it or are planning to make it into paradise. Lucky you. Lucky us, because thanks to the generosity of my in-laws, this is the fifth time we’ve been here. There are a lot of fun activities to enjoy or even hurt yourself, but because this is a food blog, let’s talk food.
The first time we visited I was a bit paranoid, because Maui is not cheap and I wanted to avoid tourist traps. Also please keep in mind that I am not a professional food critic and in many cases my family disagreed with me, so this is a very personal guide. On the other hand, I am known to have a good tasting palate (thanks to my coffee tasting practice) and I am very demanding when it comes to providing quality for the price. In my case it is connected with my passion for finding and providing high quality coffee and I demand the same from others. Ok, sometimes I can be a jerk about this. I understand that many people go to Maui and are ready to splurge, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, etc. I am listing only places we visited and experienced. There are a few we really wanted to try, but did not have the chance yet, Like the Shark Pit food truck. I love this chef’s mission statement. Perhaps next time.

 

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While I was growing up eating Jell-O pudding cups,* halfway across the world Valerian was snacking on miláčik. Now, miláčik means “darling” or “dear” in Slovak, so if you run a search on it, you’ll get a rather surprising selection of results, particularly pet photos.

Last time he was back in the Old Country, Valerian noticed that miláčik is basically sweetened, flavored sour cream, and so when he returned to California, he decided to whip us up a batch himself. It’s not quite as firm as the kind you buy in the store, which sometimes is called tvarohový miláčik because it’s made with tvaroh, the local cheese that’s similar to ricotta. Valerian’s recipe here couldn’t be simpler, though, and while the vanilla bean gives you those authentic little speckles, just bump up the amount of good quality vanilla extract if that’s what you have. Sour cream makes a perfect consistency to top or fill crepes, or, honestly, just slurping it up all on its own. Good thing I’m wearing these elastic-waist pants.

Sour Cream Desert
This creamy delight falls somewhere between a pudding and a sauce. If vanilla seems, well, too vanilla, sift in a tablespoon of cocoa powder and make a chocolate version instead. Could you use yogurt instead of sour cream? Sure, but then you'll have flavored yogurt.
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 16 oz. container sour cream
  2. ¼ cup brown sugar
  3. 1 vanilla bean
  4. ½ tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and their surrounding paste.
  2. Whisk together the sour cream, sugar, and vanillas in a medium bowl.
  3. Serve in small bowls, as a topping or filling for crepes or pound cake.
Notes
  1. Your kids will fall in love with this. It is easy to make so let them do the work.
Emperors Crumbs https://www.emperorscrumbs.com/