Family Matters

This weekend started quite emotional and stressful. The atmosphere in the world is volatile now, almost every day we hear of some violence happening, it seems like every corner of the Earth is affected and no place is completely safe anymore. And, it literally hits home if one of your family members could potentially be affected.

Friday began on less dramatic note though when my kid and his paternal grandparents were on their way to upstate NY to spend a few day with extended family. Why was I anxious? Would you want your 19 year old or his 93 year old grandfather to do the 3 hour drive? Granted, my kid is a pretty good driver for his age, so is his 93 year old grandfather who’s a very functioning senior, but still… You know, this mom was worried, but they got there fine.

Just as I thought I’d finally relax, my mom called with the news about Munich shooting. Why were we concerned? Because my aunt, my mom’s cousin lives in Munich, in the apartment complex that is right above the mall where the attack took place, and their local subway platform and other communal places are accessible only from inside the mall. She was actually on her way home and was supposed to exit the train right at the place and time where shooting took place, but was delayed a bit so the area was already guarded by the police when she got there. Divine Intervention at its best!! My mom of course spent a sleepless night as we couldn’t get through to my aunt on either phone, thanks God she’s fine now lest a bit shaken and was allowed back into her apartment. My aunt was actually instrumental throughout my whole childhood, she never had children of her own so she dedicated a lot of time to my intellectual upbringing taking me to many cultural events or spending hours talking about books and music with me. I have some many fond memories of her even though fate drew us apart in different countries now.

So, I think I need some heavy drinks and a nap today after a nerve-wrecking Friday!

 

What’s Cooking This Week

Today’s recipe is a family favorite, since it’s all about family matters this weekend. And it’s so simple, despite looking quite decadent, that you can literally make it with one hand, just like I did. It’s actually a traditional Russian breakfast dish with some slight modifications, we all grew up having it for breakfast or light supper so it reminds me of my childhood. Cheesecake is not something you’d typically have for breakfast, the cake is generally heavy and thought of as an occasional guilty pleasure. Russian breakfast cheesecake is light and healthy though, it’s mostly eggs and farmer’s cheese, plus I also added some dried fruit and nuts making it a total protein punch. Please note that farmer’s cheese is not the same as cottage cheese, it’s a dry variety of soft cheese so if you’re using cottage cheese, make sure to drain the liquid completely and blend till no lumps remain. My version is also grain free so it’s an excellent gluten free option. I actually posted these pictures across multiple cooking groups I belong to on Facebook, there are now like 1000 people waiting for the recipe in this post.  I hope you enjoy this Russian favorite as convenient breakfast bites.

Mini Breakfast Cheesecakes with Blackberries and Hazelnut-Dates Crust

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Mini cheesecakes, makes 12-16, size depending:

1 lb unsalted farmer’s cheese

4 eggs

12-16 large blackberries

1/4 cup arrowroot starch

1/4 cup honey

1 tsp vanilla

a pinch of salt

raw sugar (optional)

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Crust:

1 cup chopped hazelnuts

4 large dates

1/3 cup golden raisins

4 Tbsps coconut oil, melted

3 Tbsps chestnut (or almond) flour

1 tsp cinnamon

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Small silicone forms work the best for this recipe as they are flexible, but you can also use a big springform pan and just cut the cake into bites afterwards.

Combine all crust ingredients and pulse in a food processor till only small chunks remain but don’t over process so it looks like butter. Place a tablespoon size of crust mix on the bottom of each form and press to make it firm.

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In a large bowl, beat together farmer’s cheese, eggs and honey until no lumps remain, stir in vanilla, salt and starch to incorporate. Fill the forms with cheese mixture over the crust mix, top with a berry and some raw sugar if desired.

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Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350F degrees for about 40-45 minutes or until the tops are slightly golden. Cool off before removing from the forms.

These breakfast cheesecakes are full of protein and taste indulgent minus all the guilt feelings about eating dessert for breakfast.

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Whether you share them with your family or are having tea for one like I did, I’m sure you’ll be quite satisfied with this favorite Russian breakfast dish.

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Fully Baked

So the current situation is that I’m still stuck at home dealing with an injured hand. The last doctor appointment showed that stitches still need to stay in till next week as the cut was too deep, plus it looks like I cut the nerve and a tendon so some slight numbness will probably remain (unless I have a surgery), but we do hope the function fully restores at some point, though it’ll take a long time before pain subsides (ugh), it hurts up the elbow.

I’m now on this 3-week long unplanned staycation, courtesy of one serrated kitchen appliance. That’s a huge mess to deal with after one careless knife slip! But, since I can’t change anything now, and I’ve already had my share of initial shitfit, I’m at least enjoying this mid-summer lounging period.

My kid has been a great help since I can’t do much with just one hand, he’s cooking (under my direction), washing dishes and accompanying me to medical applications (for moral support). If anything, this unplanned leave is giving me time with my kid.

I still can’t cook and have been relying on whatever the kid can master plus one of my best friends came over to chop some veggies (thanks God for good friends!). I’ve been craving something baked but it’s out of reach for now due to physical limitations, but I’ll see if I can persuade the kid to venture into baking world. He’s off to visit relatives in upstate New York for a few days, but, when he’s back, he’s going to bake muffins. He doesn’t know it yet, but he will.:)

 

What’s Cooking This Week

Today’s recipe was done prior to my injury as there’s no way I’d be able to accomplish all these multi-steps instructions with just one hand. Baked yogurt is a custard-like dessert, it’s soft and creamy yet it holds its form once cut. My version is completely dairy-free so you’d also need to make your own dairy-free condensed milk, but it’s so easy, you won’t mind an extra step at all. Note that homemade non-dairy condensed milk will not come out as white as store-bought one,  plus coconut milk yogurt is slightly golden in color to begin with so the entire dish with be caramel-colored; if you’re using all dairy ingredients for this recipe, it’ll come out white. My recipe combines sweetness of yogurt and fruit with a tangy bite of bourbon spiced chili powder. It could be a decadent breakfast or a satisfying dessert for your family.

Baked Guava Yogurt with Bourbon Chili Powder Apricot  Sauce

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Condensed milk:

1 can of full-fat coconut milk

1/4 cup of honey

a pinch of salt

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Paprika-spiced apricot sauce:

6-7 apricots

1/2 + 1/4 cup of bourbon

3 Tbsps of honey

2 star anise pods

1 cinnamon stick

2 tsps of bourbon chili powder (or plain)

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Baked yogurt:

2 cups of plain coconut yogurt

1/2 cup of mashed guava fruit

1/2 cup homemade condensed milk

1/4 cup of arrowroot starch

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Both condensed milk and sauce can be made hours or even days prior and kept in the fridge if time is a pressing issue.

To make condensed milk, combine coconut milk, honey and salt and cook over low heat, stirring often with a whisk, till the liquid is reduced about 1/3 in size and becomes thick, it could take 45 minutes to almost an hour.

At the same time, cut apricots in half, remove pits, add bourbon, anise pods and cinnamon, cover with just enough water to have them submerged. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until they are soft and skin comes off.

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Remove the skin, set half apricots aside, combine the rest with bourbon and 1/4 cup of liquid from apricot bath and blend till it’s smooth. Return to a small pot, add honey and chili powder and cook, stirring often, till thick sauce forms.

Pre-heat the oven to 325F degrees. Combine yogurt with condensed milk, arrowroot and mashed guava. Pour into a cast iron skillet or a baking dish. Place a skillet into a deep baking dish filled with hot water about 3/4 of the way. Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until yogurt sets but it’s still soft to the touch.

Cool it off and top with apricots and apricot sauce, sprinkle chopped nuts and more chili powder on top.

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The dish can be served room temperature or chilled and it keeps nicely overnight if you want to have it for a leisurely weekend breakfast.

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Current Situation

Thank you to some of my followers who took the time to comment or send me an email with encouraging words; I so appreciate your time and attention to let me know you care! It means a lot to know that you are not just my readers but my friends too!

Current situation is being stuck at home with an injured hand. Per doctor, I most likely nicked but looks like didn’t cut the nerve all the way through so we’d have to see how the healing goes, which may take several months, before deciding if any surgery is necessary. I still have the stitches in and the hand is bandaged plus every time I move the fingers too much, it hits the damaged nerve so I’m now pretty much like a “one-armed bandit”, my right hand and arm get all the exercise. Even typing this is complicated now with just one hand.

I have to go on disability for a few weeks as I can’t work in the hospital like that. And, I can’t cook or do anything you’d want to do while stuck at home, like cleaning your closets. I’ve watched some movies, and colored some adult coloring books and have been reading books that I had sitting on my table, but my mood is very blue.

So send me some jokes, I really need them!

I still have a few recipe posts that I want to do using the pictures I was able to take prior to this accident, and I have two restaurant reviews also to post. So I’ll try to stay in touch here.

Also, thank you to my followers who let me know that they took the time to nominate my blog for the Saveur Awards as I posted earlier. The nomination time is still open till July 18, and you can do multiple nominations for the same blog in different categories. One of the followers emailed me to say that she nominated my recent Gourmanoff store post and a Russian salad recipe for their Food and Culture category. If you feel you enjoyed that post and it deserves a nomination, or my blog in general, you can do it it here http://www.saveur.com/blog-awards-2016-nominate

My blog’s url is https://foodnthoughtpeddler.com/

And, for Food and Culture Award, it requires a specific post url in the comments section From Gourmanoff with Love

My favorite category there is The Food Obsessive Award actually, it’s for nutty bloggers like me who obsess about certain foods as in mine are gluten-free.

In a mean while, I can produce “one-handed” meals like this. Looks like something you’d eat after a booze-filled night, but that’s how I wanted it, toast buried in eggs.

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And, I can still hold the cookies even in my cut hand.

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Throwing in some fruit on a side for guilt reduction.

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