Coconut Macaroons

If you’ve been following my blog, then you’d know that after a long radio silence, I am back with a vengeance… or at least with a flurry of quiche recipes.  What does quiche have to do with coconut macaroons, you ask?  Well, my friend, if it weren’t for the Leek Quiche and its insistence on using no less than four yolks and absolutely no egg whites, perhaps coconut macaroons and I would have never met.  Oh what a sad and empty world would that be.  But fortunately for me and the world, my desire not to waste those four whites coupled with my sublime Google-fu skills have led me to what I confidently proclaim as the baking sensation of Q2 2012… the one and only: coconut macaroon.  I want you to focus on saying it, dear reader: co-co-nut ma-ca-roon.  Mhmm… I don’t know about you, but it does send a shiver down my spine.  (Does this make me a freak? <- a rhetorical question, no need for you to answer, really)  It’s just that when they come out of the oven all sweet and fluffy and chewy and so scrumptious… they’re irresistible.  And did I mention that they  are simple and quick to make?  That trifecta of quick, simple and tasty might very possibly become my downfall.

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Leek Quiche (aka Quiche Flamiche)

I can be quite compulsive obsessive when it comes to cooking.  This usually manifests itself through repeated (obsessive) preparation of a dish that I just “discovered”.  When I was thirteen, I made crêpes every day for about a year and although I am nowhere near this bad these days, my husband could tell you some interesting stories… like about the time I discovered Jamie Oliver’s Piri Piri Chicken* and we had it every single night for a week and every single day the dish woud get spicier than the one I made the day before (*do buy this book, by the way, it’s fantastic).  Fortunately, the husband has a good sense of humor about it and upon entering the house and smelling the Piri Piri or whatever was the obsession du jour, he’d say something like “You know, I’ve been craving this whole day long, actually, on my ride home I was just thinking how wonderful it would be to have some Piri Piri”.  So by the time I got obsessed with quiches of all sorts, he already had his routine down and just silently braced himself for another tasty yet monotonous week.  And after a while, something strange yet sweet happened, the intensity of my quiche obsession subsided but the husband still helpfully suggests, at least once a week, that I should make some quiche for dinner.  Yup, that’s how tasty it is.

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Quiche Lorraine

Question: How do you know that you’ve been neglecting your food blog? Answer: When the last post is about a duck, which not only was never your dinner, but rather a living animal who is nesting on your balcony and who just came back for another nesting season… meaning that a whole year has gone by since your last post and that this duck has had more in the oven than you have.  Well, that last part may be a slight exaggeration, since in this past year, my oven got quite a bit of action… one could even say that it has gotten around, if you know what I mean… that slutty slutty oven…  Ok, this is one of those unfortunate metaphors, which should definitely not be continued, because who knows where it might take me.*  So anyway, recently, the oven has been my accomplice in the obsessive preparation of quiches of all sorts.  Here’s a quick fact for you, I have always loved quiche but never made one till about a month ago.  I guess it’s because quiche always seemed to register high on the PITA meter (for an explanation about PITA go here).  And then one day, completely randomly, I decided to make Quiche Lorraine, which ended up turning into a quiche mania of sorts.  Once I mastered Quiche Lorraine, I moved to Quiche Flamiche and then moved in the direction of savory tarts, like the Eggplant-Tomato tart.  I am pretty sure that I will soon spill into sweet tarts.  And speaking of tarts, did I mention that my oven was one?

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Zelda, the Squatting Duck

It all started a couple of years ago with a particularly irritating dream about a squeaking door and with my husband swiftly elbowing me in the ribs. I woke up disoriented and looked at the alarm clock to discover it was 4 am. Despite waking up, the squeaking from my dream continued and Tim insisted that I look at our balcony. The scene playing out in front of me was too much to comprehend at that time of the night. A weird shadow was walking back and forth on our cement flower bed. Upon closer inspection, it appeared that the shadow was, in fact, a duck. The setting of the night, the dispersing darkness and my mental haze made her look unreal and very dramatic, like a duck avenger or a duck superhero or some messenger of sorts. In the end, we took a picture and went back to sleep. The duck came back the next night and the night after and I became obsessed with figuring out what she was trying to tell me. Should I play the lottery? Invest in stocks of foie gras? Make duck for dinner? What did the duck want? It turned out pretty quickly, that all she wanted was to lay some eggs in our flower pot, which she proceeded to do… and then she made herself completely at home. After some research, Tim got in touch with the Duck Lady, a Düsseldorf woman who donates her free time to rescue ducks, which nest in weird places. After a 30 minute telephone conversation she managed to thoroughly scare him. It turned out that baby ducks cannot fly and if they fall from our fourth-floor balcony, they will be falling towards a certain baby duck death and if that happens, then Tim will forever be a baby duck killer. The discussion resulted in Tim spending 60 Euros in the home improvement store and another 3 hours in own engineering efforts to create a foolproof netting system to be put around the flower pot. A closed facility, if you will, for the most delinquent and curious baby ducks. The duck momma was christened as Zelda, provided with some hay and wheat, and the three of us sat, watched and waited.

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Cauliflower Curry Soup

My South African cuisine series continues today with a cauliflower-curry soup. I have never had cauliflower soup before attending this class. In fact, when I think about it, I haven’t had that much cauliflower in my life. Back at home, in Poland, the standard way of eating cauliflower, involved boiling it and drowning it in browned butter and bread crumbs (very delicious indeed). All other ways of cooking cauliflower were completely ignored and since one can only eat so much of boiled cauliflower with butter, in the past decade, I did not have cauliflower too often… which is a shame, because while doing some research on cauliflower, I have discovered that it is one of those magic foods, with extremely high nutritional content and all sorts of anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. In short, even if you are anti-cauliflower, it (together with its buddy, broccoli) should be a regular staple in your diet. Cauliflower shouldn’t be boiled for too long, in order not to lose its nutritional value… it is, of course, difficult to get away with not boiling it when you make a soup. So let’s just say that this soup will be featured for its taste, while I’ll look into preparing cauliflower in other ways.

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Springbok Skewers with Peanut Sauce

Back in May, I blogged about the South African cuisine cooking class, I went to with my husband. I teased you with some photos of genuinely mouth-watering food, promised to post the recipes and then… well, then nothing happened. First, I was fighting with the lazies, then I was fighting a black hole and finally I was fighting with the mess in my house, the mess in the middle of which I have lost the recipes for all the delicious dishes from the South African cuisine cooking class. I realized that I couldn’t post without recipes, ahem, especially since I’ve already done exactly that back in May. So this entire Sunday was sacrificed at the altar of cleanliness, I cleaned, I washed, I sorted through documents, all in vain. The recipes were not on the pile of bills and papers, which I’ve been saving “for later” since early March, they were also not stuck in one of my cooking books, and they were definitely not in one the drawers or under the bed. My overall conclusion was that I must have somehow lost them or thrown them out. Sometimes I suspect myself of throwing things out without meaning to or even registering it. Anyway, just as I started to despair, it occurred to me to check in one place where I would have put it had I been an extremely organized person… and sure enough, there they were, in my filing cabinet, lying comfortably in a folder labeled “Recipes”.

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Kuurna Restaurant in Helsinki

I recently went on a business trip to Helsinki, Finland. It is the second time I went there this year and so far I haven’t managed to discover much about the culture, the cuisine or the people. But from what I have gathered, the overall concept of this country seems to be about surviving in this weird no man’s land between Russia and Scandinavia, while speaking a language nobody understands, freezing your derriere off and coping with all this by consuming copious amounts of alcohol and meatballs. I admit that I generally associated Finland with unrefined food, especially after reading the Wikipedia entry on Finnish cuisine, and how it continuously got slammed by various European heads of state. It came as some surprise, therefore, that it was in Helsinki, where I’ve had one of the best meals of this year.

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