recipe Tag

Hey! The blog has been really quiet for ages (years!), I know. But we’re back in Slovakia for a few weeks, so we thought we’d share some thoughts and pictures from the old homestead. We’ll try out some recipes as well.

yogurt granola parfe 4

One of the first things we noticed was how much the food culture here has improved. Score! I used to tease Valerian because he always reads the supermarket circulars that come in the mail (which go straight to recycling in California). But they’re actually worth a look these days; while the pictures of raw chicken are still a feature, there are so many new products! There’s chia seeds, hummus, fancy cheese, and yes, that’s Ben & Jerry’s!

Circulars

Really, though, we’ve come for nostalgia: utopenci, Mila, kifli/rožok, lángos, yogurt and all the candy. There’s even a retro version of the local beer, isn’t it cute?

Pheasant by bowl

When we moved to our house in Slovakia, we were so excited to have a huge garden. We went a little crazy planting trees, which were still skinny saplings when we left. No longer! We have a jungle out there.

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The plums were sadly shut out by a late frost, but the cherries are loaded–we have a long-suffering old tree in the front of the yard, and back in the orchard, we have several varieties of both sweet and tart/cooking cherries. Apples and Asian apple-pears are on their way, and possibly even before we leave there will be peaches ready to eat.

Valerian created a “berry alley,” which is now overgrown into more of a patch, with plenty of raspberries, some struggling gooseberries, and rampaging currants both black and red.

yogurt grnola parfe 5

Years ago when I visited a Swedish friend at her home near Stockholm, she served an amazing dinner and afterwards, took us out to her back yard where she had a thicket of red currant bushes at the edge of a lake. We filled a bowl in the late twilight of the far north, and then brought the berries back in where my friend crushed them with a little sugar and served them over vanilla ice cream. It was a simple and splendid way to finish the evening.

yogurt granola parfe 2

We do love our European yogurt, so I was inspired to layer up some parfaits to celebrate our summer return. Easy and festive! Maybe you’ve had red currant sauce at Ikea, or tried black currant jam; if you see some in the produce section, snap up a pint and try this recipe (or just substitute another berry). If you can’t find currants, raspberries or blueberries are just as delicious, and probably need less sugar.

Granola and currant yogurt parfaits
Serves 4
Crispy granola, creamy yogurt, and sweet-tart currants make a satisfying breakfast or, with a drizzle of honey, a festive dessert
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
For the granola
  1. 2 cups oats
  2. 1 cup slivered almonds
  3. 1 1/2 cups puffed rice
  4. 1/2 tsp. salt
  5. 1/3 cup olive oil
  6. 1/3 cup honey
For the parfaits
  1. 2 cups red or black currants, or a mixture (about a pint), or another berry
  2. 2 tsp. granulated sugar or to taste
  3. 4 cups plain or vanilla yogurt
First, make the granola
  1. Preheat the oven to 325° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then stir in oil and honey. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, stir gently, then bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before stirring to get nice chunks of granola.
While the granola bakes, prepare the currants
  1. In a medium bowl, gently crush the currants with the back of a spoon. Stir in the sugar.
Create the parfaits
  1. When the granola is cool, layer the yogurt and currants in four jars or glasses. Top with the granola (you'll likely have leftovers). Top with additional honey, if you like a sweeter treat!
Notes
  1. Granola adapted from Megan Gordon, A Sweet Spoonful
Emperors Crumbs https://www.emperorscrumbs.com/
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Summer! How I miss you. If you’re like me, you think of summer as a relaxing, low-key time; you imagine lazy days, long evenings, letting the schedule slide. But then there’s: reality. The kids lay waste to the house, starting endless glue or paint related “craft” projects, then squabbling, then wanting to play Minecraft instead, until HOORAY, the camps begin. But wait – now it’s making sure everyone has swimsuits and goggles and sunscreen, who’s getting picked up when? Who needs a plain white t-shirt to tie-dye NOW? And the inescapable lunches. So many lunches. In fact you have to redouble your efforts because the long, active days call for extra sustenance. Luckily, summer also means fruit and plenty of it, which makes it much easier to fill up hungry kids.

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So here’s one thing that’s easy. These bars originate on a recipe card my mother gave me many years ago, but every few years I come up with a variation. These days, I’m using fresh fruit instead of a layer of jam, because who can pass up the tumbled piles of stone fruit and the gleaming berries that are everywhere in summer? Not me, that’s certain. These bars are sturdy enough to hold up in a lunch box or even for scarfing in the car as a quick breakfast. They’re full of whole grains and not too sweet either.

To bring out the juicy best of the fruit, I like to dice it up and let it macerate with some sugar for a few minutes while I assemble the other ingredients. And it really is just a few minutes – this recipe is supremely unfussy, mixes in a single bowl and can be modified any number of ways to suit your taste or what you have in the cupboard. Now that school days are here again, make the most of the last fruits of summer and make a quick batch of these bars for snacks. They pack well, or are the perfect after-school treats, and easy enough the kids can make them with just a little help.

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Fresh Fruit Crumble Bars
Yields 16
Quick and easy snack bars loaded with whole grains and fresh fruit.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound fresh fruit - strawberries, apricots, blueberries, peaches, plums are all good.
  2. 1 Tbs granulated sugar
  3. 1 cup flour
  4. 1 cup rolled oats (regular or quick cooking)
  5. 1/4 cup almond meal
  6. 1/2 tsp salt
  7. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  8. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  9. 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  10. 4 Tbs water or fruit juice
  11. 1 Tbs honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F, and line an 8" square baking pan with foil or parchment paper.
  2. Prepare the fruit: pit and chop larger fruit into fine dice, toss with the granulated sugar in a medium bowl and allow to sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Stir in the oil and honey, and add the water or juice, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is uniformly moist and beginning to form clumps.
  4. Reserving about 3/4 cup of the mixture, firmly press the remaining mixture into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Spread the fruit evenly over the oat layer, making sure to get all the collected juices in as well.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the top of the fruit.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is brown and toasty and the fruit is beginning to bubble.
  8. Allow to cool completely before slicing into bars.
Emperors Crumbs https://www.emperorscrumbs.com/

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.
dumplings-picture2
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/

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/

This is one of those odd combinations that just works. It sounds like a recipe I threw together based on whatever’s in the fridge, and in fact you really could try using different elements here if that’s what you have. Cauliflower always seemed like such a dull vegetable, it’s colorless for heaven’s sake! But roasted, it’s transformed – when it’s just a bit burned along the edges, that’s when it’s best. And kale, well, everyone and his dog knows how good kale chips are by now, right?

Here, the roasted veggies’ slight bitterness pairs up with a bright lemony-parmesan dressing and some gnocchi for heft, that’s a perfect dinner for early spring, just before all the best new crops start rolling in. If you feel the need for some protein, add some beans (you know I’m going to say chickpeas. I have such a thing for chickpeas!) or bacon.

There’s some chopping involved here, but once that’s done, it’s a very low-maintenance project. You could do some of it on the stovetop, but I think that’s more work, really. This past week I prepped the kale and cauliflower the night before, so all I had to do was pop them in the oven and boil the water for gnocchi while I made the dressing. Toss it all together and you’re ready to eat!

ROASTED KALE & CAULIFLOWER WITH GNOCCHI
Serves 4
This is one of those odd combinations that just works. It sounds like a recipe I threw together based on whatever’s in the fridge, and in fact you really could try using different elements here if that’s what you have. Cauliflower always seemed like such a dull vegetable, it’s colorless for heaven’s sake! But roasted, it’s transformed – when it’s just a bit burned along the edges, that’s when it’s best. And kale, well, everyone and his dog knows how good kale chips are by now, right?
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Ingredients
  1. 1 large head cauliflower
  2. 2 bunches kale
  3. 1 package (500 grams) store-bought gnocchi
  4. 2 Tbs plus 2 tsp good quality olive oil, separated
  5. 1 clove garlic, minced
  6. 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  7. zest and juice of one lemon
  8. ½ cup or so grated Parmesan cheese
  9. salt, pepper to taste
  10. Additional parmesan cheese for sprinkling over the top
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut the stem off the cauliflower and cut/separate the florets into bite-size pieces.
  3. Toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil .
  4. Spread on a baking sheet in a single layer; sprinkle with a little salt.
  5. Roast for 20-25 minutes, occasionally shaking the pan to move things around, until the cauliflower is nicely browned.
  6. Meanwhile, cut the thick center stem from the kale and tear the leaves into large pieces.
  7. Toss with a teaspoon of olive oil (or again, spray) and spread on another pan, or make room on the cauliflower pan.
  8. The kale needs only about ten minutes in the oven, so keep an eye on it or put it in when there are just ten or so minutes left for the cauliflower.
  9. You want it to get crisp but not burn.
  10. Put a pot of water on to boil for the gnocchi.
  11. Whisk together the oil, mustard and garlic; whisk in the lemon zest and juice, and then stir in the Parmesan.
  12. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  13. Boil the gnocchi according to directions, drain, and put it in a large bowl.
  14. When the cauliflower and kale look appealingly browned, add them to the bowl, reserving a few of the crispier kale leaves.
  15. Add the dressing and toss gently.
  16. Serve with the reserved kale leaves and Parmesan sprinkled on top.
Emperors Crumbs https://www.emperorscrumbs.com/