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29 September 2016

Vegan Pumpkin Soup from Chef de Cuisine: Special Edition

 Autumn, chestnuts, pumpkin... What else do you think about when the first leaves start falling down? Cosy evenings under the blanket? With hot cup of tea or spicy hot chocolate? My autumn always starts with a bright orange pumpkin. Then come the chestnuts ;) 

You might have understood, that I love pumpkin. Although I have to admit it was not always like that. When I was younger, I could easily live without eat. Now I know why. Except of baked pumpkin squares with cinnamon and oatmeal porridge with pumpkin pieces I had no idea that there are so many tasty dishes with this wonderful bright and seasonal fruit. Spicy pumpkin pie like this sugarfree version, or a pumpkin layer cheesecake variation or creamy pumpkin soup. Mmmmm... Where have I been before?!

After I started trying to cook on my own and exploring different interesting recipes, I found out a lot of fascinating ones. And just when I started visiting cooking classes I got access to special ones. And today in Special Edition I want to share with you this recipe of a wonderful pumpkin soup directly from the Wild and Noble vegetables cooking course led by Chef de Cuisine - charming  Julia Eckerstorfer.


1 kg chopped Hokkaido pumpkin with skin (seeds taken out)
1000 ml water
1 carrot
2 white onions (1 peeled and chopped, another whole)
broccoli (apple size piece)
1 bay leave
2 peppercorns
1/2 apple or 6-7 dried apple slices
salt, pepper
pumpkin seed oil
roasted pumpkin seeds
sprinkle of oregano

Why Hokkaido? This is a wonderful pumpkin, that you can cook with its skin. So it saves your time, energy, tastes wonderful and adds so much color to the final dish. Like Sun in a bowl! Of course, you can choose some other type (e.g.Butternut). Just wash and peel it before cooking.
The very first step for a soup is to make a good stock for the soup. I prefer vegetable stock for this one. Although if you have some rests of chicken broth it will go well in this recipe. But if not here is the recipe and a little tip I have got from Julia.

1. Fill a pot with water. Put it on the stove over medium-high heat.

2. Add peeled carrot, 1 onion, broccoli, peppercorns and bay leave. You can add celleri sticks if you have some. But they are optional.

Cooking Tip!
In order to add special sweet note to balance stock's taste, add a handful of apple slices. I personally had no idea that apples belong to the veggie stock. But when I tried this recipe I was amazed how good it goes along with pumpkin. I always have dried apple slices from my parents garden at home and they are just perfect for the stock.

3. Cover your pot with a lid so that water can come to the boil quicker. When it starts boiling, reduce the heat and take the lid off. Add salt up to your taste. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Then put aside.

4. Now it's time for pumpkin. In a bigger pot heat vegetable oil and add chopped onion. Stir for about 30 seconds until it starts loosing color. Add chopped pumpkin and stir well at lower heat for another 2-3 minutes. Then start adding your stock until pumpkin is 80 percent in the stock. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes.

5. As soon as pumpkin has softened take the pot from the heat and blend the pumpkin in a mixer util smooth. For an extra smooth texture, the processed soup should be passed through a fine sieve, using the back of a ladle to push it through.And this is a very important moment to get the texture. Do not be lazy because it is so worth it.

6. Serve warm with a tablespoon of pumpkin seed oil, some pumpkin seeds (freshly roasted) and sprinkle of dried oregano.

Bon Appétit!!!

Enjoy the autumn and don't miss Pumpkin Season ;)

22 August 2016

Blueberry Ricotta Cheesecake

Last summer days... Who could have thought that it will pass by that quickly?! While looking back on all that we managed to do this summer and trying to catch the last moment I realized that one recipe is still waiting to be posted. Because it is a pure summer delight and also my childhood memories. Since I come from a little green town on the river Uzh in the western part of Ukraine, I am used from my very childhood to be close to the nature. My father likes going to the forest and gathering fresh mushrooms after the rain. My mom is always creative thinking of what to cook with fresh regional treats. My grandparents having a nice garden always provided us with berries, fruit and vegetables. I remember my sister saying that I am very lucky to have all that when she moved abroad. But back those time I did not fully realize her point. Only when I moved to Germany I understood how important is to know where does the product come from because it is much healthier to eat regional and local. Yes, there is such a great variety of everything you want here. But there are some products you will hardly find here. Blueberries! No, of course, you may buy blueberries here. But these are totally different spices. They are actually huckleberry, much bigger than what I am talking about. And your tongue is not getting violet after eating those. How?!?! How happy I was when I saw these wonderful wild blueberries in one of the big supermarkets here!!!!! After two and a half years of searching I already gave up. 

And here I am with a wonderful magic recipe specially for you - Blueberry Ricotta Cheesecake. Of course, you may follow this fluffy cheesecake recipe or my very first low-fat recipe and sprinkle blueberries on top of those but today I propose you a combination of ricotta and cream cheese. 


for the crust
1 1/2 cup wholewheat flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup softened butter

for the filling:
250g ricotta
500g cottage cheese
3 large eggs
2 bananas
2 tbsp sugar
lemon zest from 1 lemon
vanilla seeds (from 1/2 vanilla pod)
1 tbsp cornstarch or pudding powder *(optional)

for topping:
150g fresh wild blueberries

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 18-20 cm round ovenproof form with baking paper. 

In a food processor mix all the ingredients for the crust until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Press mixture over base and side of prepared baking form. Bake it for 15 minutes until golden brown. You can also use wholegrain biscuits for the crust just blending them with butter.

In a bowl mash bananas with sugar and using an electric mixer beat them with ricotta, adding cottage cheese. Add some flavors by putting lemon zest and vanilla seeds into the cheesy mixture. At this point add cornstarch or pudding powder to make the mixture set. This step is optional as you see from the ingredient list. It is recommended if the cheese you are using is very creamy. Otherwise you can skip it without concerns. One by one add the eggs and mix well. Do not overbeat. Pour the filling over the baked crust in the form. Spread the blueberries evenly over the top of the cake.

Baking time - 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 160° C and bake 20-30 minutes more. It depends on the height of the cake. The higher - the longer baking time. The cheesecake is done when the borders are a bit puffed and the center almost set but still moves a bit when the form is shaken.

After that let it cool down until room temperature. I know this might be a challenge in some sense. Proper cooling is very important to create a proper texture and avoid cracks. Make sure to cool cheesecake completely on a wire rack on the counter before refrigerating for at least 4 hours before serving.

Here you go - colorful cheesecake SUMMER EDITION :)


15 August 2016

Pear Galette with Whole Wheat Crust

WOW! Two months ago was my last post here. Seems like eternity... But I am back! With more energy after a good vacation, positive thoughts, new culinary experiences and a lot of tasty recipes.  With a slogan "Eat local and seasonal" I want you to try this wonderful recipe - Galette. What kind of summer without a crispy home made fruit galette?! Especially when there are so many choices of fruit, berries and other seasonal tastiness. This time I had couple of sweet pears and thus my choice was clear. An advantage of the recipe is a great combination of healthy ingredients with sweet juicy taste. If you are trying to reduce your sugar intake, this is exactly what you need. By the way, you can also try sugar-reduced version of Apple Flower Tart or sugarfree Pear Almond Tart. The first step to improve your nutrition plan is to substitute white flour with whole wheat flour. And therefore these recipes serve perfectly to #eatyourselfslim

180g whole wheat flour of your choice
80 g unsalted cold butter
½ tsp salt
6 tbsp ice cold water
5 medium pears
1 tbsp Demerara Black Sugar
½ Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 egg
1 tbsp hazelnuts

Mix flour and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together. Cut the butter into cubes, then add to the flour mixture. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender or just put these ingredients into a kitchen machine. Add 4 tablespoons of ice cold water and stir in. Add the additional tablespoons of water if necessary for the dough to hold together. Shape into an circle and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for minimum 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Peel and slice the pears 0.5 -1 cm thick. Place them in a bowl adding lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and mix well. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll into a large circle, rolling from the middle out, rotating the dough every few rolls. Lay the dough onto a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper. You can also roll the dough out directly on the parchment paper, then move the parchment paper and dough to the cooking sheet.
Place the pears on the dough starting from the center and leaving 5 cm border around the edge. Gently fold the edges towards the center. Meanwhile beat the egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the dough with beaten egg-water mix.  The pears should not be brushed. Just sprinkle them with some Demerara sugar and hazelnuts. Bake for 30 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Important is to make sure that the bottom is baked. So if needed, extend the baking time depending on galette size and oven properties.

Let it cool on the baking sheet and enjoy the summer treat with a perfect cup of coffee!

Bon Appétit!

11 June 2016

Breakfast Idea: Pumpkin Pancakes

About a month ago I posted on my Instagram these wonderful pumpkin pancakes and promised to come back with the recipe. And here I am, took me a bit longer but better later than never, right? So finally sharing this tasty recipe with you. By the way, I found it in one of my favourite blogs of a Ukrainian girl living in the USA -  Mom Story. As usually I can not just simply follow the rules. So instead of orange sauce proposed in the original recipe I have made a chocolate one. Just did not have oranges in house...:) White sugar I substituted by black Demerara, white flour - by wholewheat buckwheat. No matter what version you choose, you will be very happy with the result.

yields 15 pancakes
cup=240 ml

1 egg
3 tbsp sugar
2 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1,5 cup flour (I used wholewheat buckwheat flour)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 ripe banana

Whisk egg with sugar. Add milk and mix well. Rub pumpkin puree through a sieve and add it into the milk mixture. Fold until smooth, add cinnamon.
Mix flour with baking powder and sift into the batter. It whould be quite thick when everything combined. Pour 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil. 
Heat non stick pan (I used a small sauce pan for even round shape). Do not add any additional oil. Onto a dry pan pour scoop of batter in the middle. Wait for about 2 minutes and when you notice bubbles on top of the pancake it is just time to flip over. On the other side 30 seconds is enough. Do mot oil the pan. In the same way cook the rest of the pancakes one by one.

For the sauce blend banana with cocoa powder and sprinkle of sugar. Serve with blueberries and a good portion of Latte Macchiato :)

Enjoy you weekend and remember that Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Becausehow you start it does matter!!!

24 May 2016

Asparagus Soup with North Sea Crabs

Asparagus season is officially open! From April and till end of June is exactly the right time to buy seasonal asparagus here in the north of Germany. And although in Hamburg you will mostly find white or violet asparagus from the region (not the typical green sprouts) it is definitely worth to stop by at the local farmers' market and buy this fresh seasonal product. If you do not know what can you prepare and how is asparagus eaten the very basic recipe of asparagus you can discover here. And this Baked asparagus with ham and cheese with its tenderness of melted cheese and asparagus juiciness will definitely be a pleasant surprise for you.

But today I want to share the recipe that became one of the most favourite soups in my family: asparagus soup with north sea crabs. It is easy to cook, healthy, very tasty and full of flavors. The recipe is adopted from "1000 Recipes for two" by NGV. Hope you will enjoy it as much as we do during the season.
One secret for good soup is a good base, meaning broth. Depending on your preferences it may be made with meat and vegetables or just veggies. In my case, I always leave the broth from the meat I was boiling. A good choice would also be to use the rests of asparagus once peeled to cook a broth. Just add some salt and boil them for 10 minutes. That's it!

yields 2 portions

500 ml chicken broth
200 g asparagus (your choice)
100 g north sea crabs or shrimps (cooked, ready to use)
2 shallots
1/2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp corn flour
1 small egg
sprinkle of salt,Herbes de Provence and pepper

Bring the broth to boil. Meanwhile wash asparagus and cut it into 3-4 cm long pieces. Put then into the boiling water and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Take asparagus out and set aside. Peel shallot and cut it small. In a pan heat the oil and fry shortly shallot and asparagus for about 2 minutes. Add some salt, pepper and broth. Pour it all into the main broth. Separately mix corn flour with some water into a paste, add it to the soup and stir well. Taste and if needed add more salt, pepper or other spices you like. Beat the egg and pour it gradually into the soup while stirring it with a fork quickly so that the egg threads are created.

Serve it with north sea crabs and a sprinkle of herbs de Provence.

Bon Appétit!