neděle 30. srpna 2009

Bohemia Bagel

Do you have a favourite neighborhood joint? Our's is probably the Bohemia Bagel in Holešovice. We go there really often, mostly for a beer or two, but we also eat there at least once a month. The place is famous for its burgers.
Here are some we had recently:

Husband's BBQ burger with fries.

My hamburger with bacon and cheese with salad.
The burgers are always of consistent quality. Big, juicy, well assembled. It's not everyday food, but it doesn't hurt once in while!
This place has more to offer than just burgers. They serve quite well made salads, Ceasar especially, sandwiches, different American style breakfasts etc. They have thematic evenings several times a week, like the wing Wednesday, taco Thursday, burger weekend. Their lunch offer isn't half bad too. All in all we like the food and the service is fine, we even get a 10% discount when there is one certain guy waiting the tables in the evening.

The place has received some critisism for bad service at and other resources. I have to say that it's partially true, I agree to some extent. The service is a bit unattentive during lunch hours and may even seem a bit "bitchy". However, it's not the case during the evenings. This is probably because the staff is ALWAYS different at lunch and in the evening. I have some ideas why this is the case, but I do not want to ventilate them, because they are just ideas.
We like the place nevertheless and will probably continue continue going there.

čtvrtek 27. srpna 2009

Chicken tajine with honey and pears

This is a new friend of mine! I bought it today :) I have been fascinated by tajines for a while now and actually planned buying one with discount during the Dny Marianne. But then I saw this offer above and decided to buy the green tajine now. It can be used to cook on a stove and in the oven, very unusual for glazed clay pot! I think it may well become one of my favourite pieces of cookware.
This is the first dish I tried cooking in my new and shiny tajine and it worked out beautifully!
The original recipe comes from one of my favourite food blogs. I amended the recipe a bit though. This represents Morrocan food is to me - fragrant, rich, delicate, sweet and savoury at the same time, colourful. Delicious!

1 whole chicken chopped into pieces
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
1 smallish bunch of coriander
2 medium sized sticks of cinammon
1 tablespoon of grated ginger
300ml of saffron water (details later)
4 firm pears
50gr of butter
5 tablespoons of honey
salt, white pepper
olive oil
Heat up some olive oil in you tajine and throw in the chopped onion, fry it on medium flame until soft and translucent. Turn up the heat and add the chicken, let brown for several minutes. Pour 300ml of warm (NOT hot) water into a glass and add a small pinch (5-8 strands) of saffron or a teaspoon of ground saffron. Mix well. As the result you should have a bright orange liquid tasting strongly of saffron. Pour this liquid onto the tajine along with the cinnamon and ginger, add the coriander (tied together by a thread so it does not fall apart), salt and pepper. Cover and let simmer on medium to low heat for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes place the tajine into the oven, which has been heated to 170C-190C. Leave for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile peel the pears, remove stalks and cut into quarters. In a non stick pan heat up the butter, add the pears and the honey. Let the pears caramelise on high heat until a brown caramel forms. You can see it and also smell it - it's brown, sticky and smells like candy.

After the tajine has been in the oven for 45 minutes add the pears together with the caramel. Let cook for another 15 minutes.

Serve with a neutral sidedish that is suitable for soaking up the delicious sauce, something like plain couscous or rice.

úterý 25. srpna 2009

Borsch - Борщ - Boršč

When I was younger (14-18 years) me and my mom often went shopping in town and of course such shopping sprees always ended with a nice lunch. Once, many years ago we decided to try a Russian restaurant located on Na Příkopech. It was a long long time ago, maybe even 15 years. The restaurant was probably a survivor from communist times and has been closed down for good soon after we ate there.
We ordered borsch. What we got made us wonder whether they understood our order correctly and so we asked if this stuff they brought us is borsch. The waiter said - "Yes, it is, and if you don't like it go back to where you come from"...:-) Oh well, we ate, paid and left. This incident persisted in my memory not because of the hateful comment, which was actually my first and most importantly only encounter with hatred towards my origin, but because this borsch included frozen peas, corn and a smoked sausage.

Here is how I cook the Ukrainian national soup -
0.7kg beef, chicken, pork or duck - with bones, excess fat removed
2 medium beetroots
2 medium carrots
0.5kg cabbage
2-3 big potatoes or 2 handfuls of soaked white beans
2 VERY ripe tomatoes or tomatoe puree (if you want to keep it simple)
salt, pepper
some vinegar - about 1 tablespoon

First of all you need a proper meat stock. Not the one made from stock cubes! Make some real stock from the meat. Tradition tells to use pork, dietary issues say the opposite, so I mostly use beef or chicken. Duck makes fabolous borsch! Let it simmer for several hours with a few bay leaves, peppercorns, whole onion, carrot and celeriac root. No need to strain the stock for borsch, you are not looking for transparancy here.
Once you have the stock peel the beetroot and carrots. Grate them on a grater, heat a pan with a little oil and add the grated vegetables. Let them simmer for a while, add grated tomatoes (or the puree). Season the mixture with salt and pepper and add about 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Pour into the broth. Cube the potatoes and add to the soup, I sometimes add beans instead of potatoes. Thinly slice the cabbage. Turn off the flame under the pot, add meat if you still haven't done so. Add salt and pepper to taste. That's it. No pickled, frozen or canned stuff and no smoked meat or sausages.
Serve with lots of sour cream!

pondělí 24. srpna 2009

Osteria Da Clara

It was our second wedding anniversary yesterday. We went out for dinner at one of our favourite places, Osteria Da Clara. Anyone who is seeking home style Italian food and most importantly well prepared pasta should check this place out.
For some reason the photos turned out to be really bad. I will remove them later probably.
Above are the eggplant rolls with ricotta.
The crostini. Husband loves the one with liver paté, he says that it's the best paté he ever ate. It's not one of those French style fancy stuff, it's just staight forward liver with a few pieces of onion.
Husband's Scaloppine dello chef . The menu says that it's prepared according to the chef's fantasy. This time his fantasy made him use some tomatoe sauce, cream, bacon and some blue cheese.

My Fettine di maiale con albicocche e noci.

The food is superb, as always. The chef has a thing for a sweet taste in savoury dishes and it works very well. See how they serve their famous sauteed carrots with every main? The carrots are to die for! Husband does not eat any cooked vegetables, except in soup, but happily munches away on these carrots.

I now know that 9p.m. on a monday is probably the only time when the restaurant is not fully occupied. It was though when we came at 19.30. Sometimes it's impossible to get a table there unless you make a reservation several days ahead and the place is sometimes fully booked even for lunch. Da Clara is not a fancy restaurant, it's a small, homey place so don't expect silver forks and crystal stemware.

We're very happy eaters but still couldn't finish our mains, next time we will not order 2 starters but only one to share, it's simply way too much food. The waitress will happily pack the leftovers in a "doggy bag" for you however! The portions they serve at lunchtime are smaller than those served for dinner. The service may appear a bit slow but it's very attentive, smiley and most importantly personal. I give 5 out of 5 for the service in Da Clara.

I always wonder why good service poses to be such a huge issue in restaurants. All we customers need is a bit of attention, some info and a smile! I guess I'm asking too much though.

pátek 21. srpna 2009

Something like fajitas...

I'm not an expert on tex-mex cuisine. I've never been to the USA nor Mexico, so I am not claiming that this is THE original recipe, this is just the way I do it. I find that Prague restaurants serving fajitas tend to skimp on meat a lot and basically serve sauteed onions and bell peppers with a few strips of meat. That's why I stopped eating fajitas in restaurants and now we sometimes make make them at home. This dish is a real crowd pleaser, you serve the separate ingredients and your guests assemble their fajitas themselves. If you decide to cook the more traditional beef fajitas use good quality meat!

Igredients for 2 people:
1 -Meat
500 gr chicken breast
1 teaspoon of ground cumin, paprika, oregano, brown sugar
1 teaspoon hot chile sauce (I use green habanero sauce)
2 teaspoons of avocado oil (or olive oil)
juice of 1 lime
1 crushed garlic clove
1/2 of a yellow and red pepper
salt pepper
*1 small sliced onion

2 - Tomato salsa
2 ripe tomatoes
6-8 slices of pickled jalapenos (I've never seen fresh jalapenos in Prague)
juice of 1/2 lime
1/half of a crushed garlic clove
salt, pepper
* 2 tablepspoons of finely chopped onion

3 - Guacamole
1 very ripe big avocado
juice of 1/2 lime
salt pepper
1 tablespoon of the tomato salsa
fresh coriander, chopped
* 1 tablespoon of finely chopped onion

4 - For serving
6 medium sized tortillas - preferably corn tortillas
Grated cheese
Sour cream
*I don't eat raw onions! That's why I rarely use them, but fajitas actually should contain onions.

Cut the meat and peppers into strips, mix with other ingredients from the Meat part and let stand in the fridge for 6 hours at least, I leave to marinate overnight.

Prior to cooking prepare the salsas. For the tomato salsa finely chop the tomatoes or use a processor to do it. Finely chop the pickled jalapenos and add to the tomatoes, add other ingredients and mix well. For the guacamole cut the avocados in half and remove pit. Mash the insides of the avocado in a bowl, if the avocado is ripe enough than it will be easy to do. Add the lime juice, salt, pepper and some of the tomato salsa. Mix well.

Heat a large skillet with some oil. Stirfry the chicken with the peppers.

Put salsas, cheese and sourcream into separate bowls. Serve the meat with the tortillas, salsas and condiments. Enjoy!

středa 19. srpna 2009

Kiev - Honey fair at the Lavra

I've just returned from Kiev, the city I was born in and spent the first years of my life in. My grandparents and dad live in Kiev and so I go to there regularly. Among other things I visited is a honey fair held at the Kiev Pechersk Lavra. The Lavra is a Unesco heritage site and probably the most important christian-orthodox church and monastery complex in the world. From here christianity spread across eastern Europe. On the 14th of August the holiday of Makovija is celebrated and it is the first day of the Medovyj Spas, a holiday celebrating the first honey harvest of the year. My granddad loves honey and so we simply had to visit this fair.
There were about 70 bee farmers from all over Ukraine selling their stuff there, more than 20 kinds of honey and about 30 different bee products (like wax, royal jelly, cosmetic products etc).
My granddad bought 7 different types of honey from the beautiful young lady and her grand mom pictured above. They were very friendly and helpful.

There were thousands and thousands of bees! I don't think this fair is a suitable place for small children or people allergic to bee bites. I still wonder how I didn't get bitten by one of those.
Generally the fair was very interesting, I never knew there was coriander or chestnut honey for instance. A pity there were so many visitors when we were there, otherwise we would have taken a walk inside the Lavra complex, but my grandpa was happy nevertheless! And that's what's really important to me :)

Return to Vozovna Stromovka

I've already written about this place, we have been there numerous times after that but never eaten anything. This time we did.Barbeque ribs. Small? Oh, yes! Only 2 smallish pieces but only for 115kc. However with the second main we ordered there was plenty to share and we were absolutely full. The meat was soft and almost fell off the bone, the sauce was too vinegary for my liking, but still fine.

The Schweineschnitzel. The menu says it is just as you will get it at Figlmüller, a famous Vienna restaurant known for its schnitzels. The schnitzel was massive and very well cooked, thin, crispy and well drained. I gave half of the schnitzel to Husband, there was no way I could ever finish it off by myself. We also had some roast potatoes, which were also good.

I like this place! They are now grilling a whole piglet every Saturday, I think it's worth checking it out!

čtvrtek 6. srpna 2009

Himalaya restaurant

I went shopping with my mom yesterday. We wanted to have lunch together and she requested Indian food. By that time we were on Namesti Republiky and there is no Indian place nearby except Himalaya. I've heard some nasty things about this place but not considering myself a connoisseur of Indian cuisine I didn't think it would be too bad. What a mistake.
The restaurant itself is somewhat rundown and considering the fairly high prices I was certainly expecting something else. The unpleasant kitchen odours were very intensive and the ladies room was not something you would easily find in Prague1 - old, stinky and ugly. The staff does not speak Czech, only English.
We ordered meat samosas and 2 chutneys with pappadums, lamb korma, butter chicken and pulao rice. The menu is very extensive, offering a wide choice of different curries etc, but we decided to stick to these more popular items.

The photo above shows the samosas, chutneys and pappadums. I didn't take photos of the other stuff, it wasn't worth it. The samosas were the best dish, bursting with a tasty meat filling, they did go well together with the sweet mango chutney. The tomatoe chutney was nothing to shout about. The main courses were plain bad. The lamb was tough and almost impossible to chew. The lamb corma costs 255 crowns, for that you get about 8 2x2cm pieces of this terribly cooked meat and lots of lukewarm overly sweet and thick sauce. The butter chicken was a horror for me as a non eater of onions. The meat onion/ration was something like 1/5. In the tiny serving dish there were few pieces of overcooked chicken breast covered in an insipid red sauce consisting of finely chopped onions and oil. No creamy sauce typical for butter chicken whatsoever. And that for 219 crowns. The pulao rice was tasty.

I haven't had such a bad restaurant meal in a long time and when the bill was brought it became even more depressing. 850 crowns for food that was unpalatable. What a waste of time and money! :-(

úterý 4. srpna 2009

Creative website

I've stumbled upon this funny website. Some design loving foodies developed a very creative way to present sandwiches. This sandwich drew my attention to this site. Funny isn't it? :)

pondělí 3. srpna 2009

Roast chicken - the way I do it

Everybody loves roast chicken and there are hundreds and hundreds of recipes. For us, a whole roasted chicken is the perfect comfort food. It's easy as a piece of cake.

1 chicken - I prefer to buy the yellow ones, but this time there were none
1/2 small lemon - I always buy the organic ones
5 big cloves of garlic + 1 whole bulb
herbs - thyme, rosemary
olive oil
potatoes -about 1 kg
Wash the chicken, sprinkle it generously with salt and pepper. Cut the carefully washed lemon into quarters and put inside the chicken along with 2 cloves of garlic and a few stems of rosemary or thyme, or both. Place the chicken into a baking dish and pour some olive oil over it. Let stand in the fridge for 6 hours at least. When ready to cook peel the potatoes, or don't peel them if they are new potatoes. Cut them into pieces and place into the baking dish along with the chicken. Add salt and pepper to taste, add 5-6 stems of herbs and 3 cloves of garlic cut into pieces. Cut the whole garlic bulb in half and place into baking dish. Sprinkle with olive oil and cover with alfoil. Cook covered at 180C for 45 minutes, uncover and cook for another 45 minutes until a crust forms. Occasionally smear the chicken with the juice that forms at the bottom. Serve and enjoy!

neděle 2. srpna 2009

Khinkali - Хинкали

Tortellini, pelmeni, xiao long bao, vareniki, gyoza, manty are all types of filled dumplings. So is khinkali, a famous Georgian dish. When I was a kid me and my mom lived in Georgia for 2 years and my mom learned to cook many Georgian dishes. Caucasian cuisines are not very known in Europe which a great pity because they are truly unique and very healthy. However many of the most famous dishes cannot be cooked outside their country of origin because Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani cuisines take great pride in local products that are rarely available outside these countries. Although these 3 countries are very small and located very close to each other their cuisines differ extremely.
This recipe is a combination of my mom's recipe and this one. The author of the latter, Milena from Tbilisi, is a great cook and a specialist on Georgian cuisine. Her recipes are always very well explained and she dedicates much oo her time on explaining the origins of the dishes and when and where they are eaten. She is also a great photographer and often takes her readers on trips around Georgia. Her recipe is probably more authentic but as my mom's recipe differs a bit, I decided to put together my "own" recipe. Khinkali can be also filled with cheese or vegetables or mushrooms. But I cooked the most traditional ones with meat.

1 kg of mince - a combo of pork and beef. If you use lean meat the dish will be ruined!!!
finely chopped onion - Milena uses 300gr, I add much less about 50gr
salt, pepper
finely chopped coriander - Milena does not add coriander, but 1 teaspoons ground caraway seeds
hot paprika to taste

1 litre or more of warm water - the amount depends on the flour

1. Make filling from ingredients the meat and spices. It should not be lean!! Add some water to make it "juicy", about 100ml. The filling should be shiny, soft and "slimy". I don't know how to explain it better.
2. Make dough. Pour lukewarm water in a bowl, add a bit of salt and continuoulsy add flour to make a very stiff dough. I think you could do it in a good, strong stand mixer or breadmaker. I do it in a breadmaker. The dough shouldn't be soft, in fact it should be almost too hard to roll out. Let it stand covered for 30minutes.
3. Devide the dough and form sticks out of each part. Cut the sticks into round pieces. Milena says they should be the size of a walnut, my mom makes them bigger. So I decided to do somethin in between, let's say the size of a plum. Roll them out one by one and fill with filling, about 1 tablespoon of filling per each parcel. Now, there should be some unfilled space inside the dumplings because a tasty soup will form inside, so do not fill them completely! Milena has beautiful pictures on how to form them, my mom does it the same way but when she assembles them she leaves a big "tail" on top of them. Milena's is not so profound. Khinkali are eaten grabbed by this tail and the tail is thrown away when the dumpling is eaten.
4. Boil some water in a big pot. Boil the khinkali for about 5-10 minutes, depending on the size. Smear a thin layer of oil on a plate and serve the khinkali on it. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.
Be careful when eating, they are filled with a very hot soup.

sobota 1. srpna 2009

Crayfish from IKEA

No recipe here, just a tip. From late july to early september IKEA sells wonderful frozen crayfish. In Sweden there is a festivity called Midsommar and during it lots and lots of crayfish is eaten. IKEA is offering crayfish in its cafeteria and also this frozen stuff. It's already boiled in a salted dill brine and can be eaten straight away without any further cooking.
I haven't got the slightest idea why there is no fresh local crayfish sold in the Czech republic. With so many ponds and lakes there could be plenty of farmed crayfish here. The only 2 places that sell frozen boiled crayfish that I know of is Makro and IKEA but only during the summer months. This crayfish costs 249kc for 1kg. Although a bit messy to eat it's delicious with a beer or 2!