Sponge Cake with Creamy Poppy Seed Filling

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If you’re a big fan of poppy seeds then you’ll love this cake.Soft sponge cake with lightly sweetened pastry cream,dulce de leche, and of course poppy seeds.I love anything with poppy seeds especially cakes.

Ingredients:

7 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup sifted self rising flour or regular but add 1/2 teaspoon baking powder.

Cream:

Prepared pastry cream

2 butter sticks softened at room temperature

1 can cooked condensed milk ( dulce de leche)

1 1/2 cup poppy seeds cooked and grinded

1/2 cup toasted and crushed hazelnuts

To cook poppy seeds:

Place poppy seeds in a small sauce pan.Cover with water.Bring to a boil,then reduce heat to low.

Cook for 30 minutes,strain, and let it cool.

Grind poppy seeds using a meat grinder.

Syrup:

1 cup boiling water

3 tablespoon sugar

-Combine and let it cool

Directions for cake-

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Using a mixer, beat eggs with sugar until thick and pale in color.

Gradually add sifted flour and mix on low.

Pour the batter in to a lined round 9 inch baking pan(10 inch will work too)

Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown in color.

Let it cool completely.

Cream:

Whip softened butter with a mixer.Gradually add in pastry cream by 2-3 tablespoons at first 2-3 times.Reserve half of pastry cream for later.

Add cooked condensed milk and poppy seeds.Whip it on high speed for few minutes.

Assembling:

Divide sponge cake to equal 3 layers.

Spray or pour syrup on the first layer.

Spread a generous amount of poppy seed cream.

Cover with the second layer and repeat the steps.

Place the third layer on top and spread the reserved pastry cream on the top and around the sides of the cake.Add crushed hazelnuts to the sides of the cake.Decorate the top as desired.

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Caesar Salad Dressing

I love homemade dressings and sauces. The taste is not comparable to the store bought. It’s delicious and fresh without any preservatives or all that stuff you might not know that is the bottled  store bought dressings.Making dressings and sauces from scratch is just better for you health wise.Most of the time it’s made of simple ingredients that you have on hand.So you can have a delicious fresh salad anytime.

Ingredients:
(adapted from MotherThyme.com)

1/2 cup mayonnaise*
1/2 cup plain Greek yoghurt *
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 lemon, juiced
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
2-3 garlic cloves,minced
freshly cracked pepper to taste and salt if needed.

* You can use mayonnaise only, using yoghurt is a little lighter version.

Directions:
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until blended.Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.

For the salad:

Chopped romaine lettuce,croutons (I use homemade, or made in house from the store),shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese. Freshly cracked pepper.

Farro with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Farro is the oldest ancient grain that was very popular in middle east during biblical times.In modern days it’s popular in Italy,some parts in Europe and Middle East.It’s texture and taste is very similar to barley and spelt with lower gluten level then wheat.
This creamy mushroom sauce can be served over pasta,rice or farro.

Ingredients:
Cooked farro
10 mushrooms sliced
1/2 onion finely chopped
5 garlic cloves thinly sliced
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
2-3 sprigs thyme(stems removed)
3/4 cup white wine
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp. Demi glaze disolved in 1/2 cup hot water*
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
 3 tbsp. olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper
*You can substitute beef,chicken,or vegetable stock or broth.
Directions:
Heat a saute pan on medium heat and add oil.
Throw in mushrooms and onions and saute  for about 5 minutes or until onions and mushrooms are soft .
Add garlic,basil and thyme. Saute for another minute or so.
Add the wine.Cook for about 3 minutes or until wine evaporates.
Add heavy whipping cream and demi glaze mixed with hot water or your choice of substitution.
Let the sauce cook for about 4-5 minutes.
Mix in cheese.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over farro or any pasta or grain of your choice.

Brie Cheese Sandwiches

These sandwiches are very fast,and easy to make. They are perfect for appetizers at birthdays, potlucks,bridal showers, baby showers, or tea parties.I often make them for our sisters-get-together party.It’s fun,simple and delicious.

Ingredients:
Brie cheese (your favorite)
avocado sliced
tomato sliced
cucumber sliced
red onion sliced
baguette sliced

Directions:

Place a slice or spread brie cheese (if creamy type) on bread.
layer with onions,tomato,cucumber, and avocado.

Chicken Chahohbili with Garbanzo Beans-Чахохбили c Курицы

Chahohbili is very flavorful and aromatic Georgian dish that could be referred to chicken ragu or stew with lots of garlic and cilantro.Back in those days they used to make dish from Pheasant,but chicken is more popular nowadays.Most of the time, it’s prepared from whole cut up chicken pieces,that’s how my mom always prepared for us.We would eat the meat then dip bread in the yummy sauce that’s leftover.For me it’s kind of too messy,so I came up with just using chicken breast cut in to pieces and since I love garbanzo beans, I decided to throw them in.This time I served it with quinoa, but it can be served with any side of your choice or just by itself with bread.

Ingredients:
2-3 chicken breasts cut in to strips
14.5 ozs. fire roasted or regular canned tomatoes crushed
1 onion chopped
10 cloves garlic crushed
1 cup cilantro chopped
1/2 cup fresh dill chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped
1 cup water
4 tbsp oil
4 0zs. canned or cooked garbanzo beans – optional
salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:
Heat a large skillet or a saute pan on medium heat (I like to use cast iron skillet for this).
Add oil.

Throw in chicken.Saute until its well browned.
Add the onions to the chicken. Continue to cook until onions are soft and golden in color.
Add tomatoes.Continue to cook for 3-4 minutes.
Throw in cilantro,parsley,dill and garlic.
Add water and garbanzo beans(optional). Simmer for 15 minutes.

 Serve over rice,potatoes,quinoa,couscous,or any other side or bread.

Chopped Salad with Creamy Lemon Basil Dressing

This salad is my favorite. It’s loaded with almost all the ingredients that I like. And the dressing is aromatic,refreshing and so delicious.You can make this salad as a main course by adding some chicken and double the ingredients for a bigger crowd.

Ingredients:
serves 4-6 people

1/2 iceberg lettuce chopped
2 cups spinach chopped
2 cups mixed greens chopped
3/4 cup grape or cherry tomatoes quarted
1-2 strips bacon,baked and crumbled ( I used uncured applewood smoked bacon)
2 hard boiled eggs cut into strips
3 ozs. green or black olives quarted ( I used green)

2-3 basil leaves thinly sliced
glazed nuts ( pecan or walnut)
crumbled blue cheese or feta
crispy onion pieces
avocado (optional)
croutons (optional)
cooked,grilled or baked chicken (optional)

Dressing:
1 1/2 tbsp. basil chopped
3 tbsp.sour cream
3 tbsp. mayonaise
2 tbsp. lemon juice
salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper ( more the better)

Mix all the ingredients for dressing in a blender until smooth and creamy.


Directions:

Toss all the ingredients for the salad except onions with some dressing(not all).Sprinkle onions on top of the salad and serve.

Eclairs-Эклеры

Eclairs are oblong or round french pastry made from pate choux that can be filled with variety of creams or custards.Sometimes they can be called cream puffs,profiteroles or “Zavarniye” in Russian.However they called, they are very delicate and beautiful dessert. For this particular recipe I used sweetened whipped cream for the filling.For the topping you can use chocolate glaze, sugar glaze or just plain dusted powdered sugar.

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tbsp. butter
4 eggs

Whipped cream:
1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla

     or
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 ozs. mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sugar glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk( add a little more if needed)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large sauce pan,combine water,butter, and salt.
Bring to slight boil.
Remove from heat and add flour.Mix well until the dough forms into a ball and doesn’t stick to the sides of the saucepan.

Let dough cool down for about 10 minutes,then beat in eggs one at a time.

Spoon or pipe the dough on lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes on 400 then reduce to 350 and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes.Very important not to open the oven.

Remove from oven and let them cool.

Cream:
Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl. Using a hand or stand mixer whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Same procedure with using mascarpone.

Split pastry in half and fill or pipe with whipped cream.
Glaze or sift powdered sugar on the top of eclairs.

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