Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Finger Licking Good Sauteed Calamari


This dish has a long history and is an important part of my life :) As a young girl back in '90s (now I sound like I am too old, which clearly I am not :) my husband (back then a boyfriend) and me would eat those (occasionally when our students budgets would allow)at nice restaurants( called "splav") situated above Danube and Sava rivers in Belgrade,Serbia. They were also a delicacy I enjoyed at the coast anywhere around Mediterranean sea.They are tiny in size, very delicate texture and could be stuffed,sauteed or grilled(my favorite way).   

Then later I moved to USA and the story of calamari changed a little bit :) They were so hard to find (the way I described them above). Squid was easy to find but that is a different beast. And if you were lucky to find them they would usually be prepared as fried. Not my favorite.Seeing a lot deep fried calamari and not grilled on some of the nice restaurants' menus here in Bay Area,California was just one of the cultural shocks I went thru :)

Many  years have passed since then and lot of things have changed. For better. First you can find much better fresh seafood at markets and second I started to rely much less on restaurants when it comes to the food I enjoy eating and more on me making it. 
So now days you can purchase (previously frozen and thawed for you) calamari at your local Whole Foods market on a regular basis.

I like to serve calamari with potato chard salad (recipe follows).

Ingredients:(for 4 hungry people like us)

2 pounds fresh or previously frozen and thawed calamari (with tentacles,those are delicious) 
6 garlic gloves,minced 
juice of one large juicy lemon(more for serving)
sea salt
two tablespoons of coarsely chopped Italian parsley
4 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation: I like to use large cast iron skillet or wok for this but any large enough pan (you do not want calamari to be too crowded in the pan you use) would work. The goal is to get nice crust on the calamari as they cook.
Prepare calamari: Wash them well in a cold water. If using frozen thaw them overnight in a refrigerator. Pat dry very well with paper towel and if you have time let them air dry for 10-15 minutes. 
Heat the skillet over high heat and add olive oil. Add garlic and calamari along with tentacles, stir once and leave it for couple of minutes without stirring further. Flip them over and cook for another couple of minutes. Do not overcook calamari :) 
Turn off the heat and add sea salt, juice of a lemon and parsley. Serve right away with lemon wedges and potato chard salad.

Potato Chard Salad (Serbian: Varivo)


1 1/2 pounds all-purpose potatoes (Yukon gold)
1 bunch chard 
2 garlic cloves minced
juice of 1 large lemon 
3 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt

Peel and cut potatoes into large cubes. Boil and cool to a room temperature.

Blanch chard in a large pot of boiling water. Cool in ice water to preserve green color.

Place potatoes and chard in a large bowl.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and add garlic, sautee  for a minute. Let it cool and pour over potatoes and chard. Squeeze lemon juice over it and season with salt. Give it a gentle toss.
While this salad can be made few hour ahead, I like it the best when served right after it cools to a room temperature.
Note: Do not discard the stems from chard, they are edible and crunchy and so tasty :)


Tuesday, August 23, 2016


This originally Italian dish that spread out to south France ( is the single most easy, tasty and healthy thing you can make. All you need is chickpea flour, water, olive, seas salt.

Here is the recipe from David Lebovitz I used:

Note: I used cast iron skillet as the recipe calls for and also before turning on the broiler I preheated the oven to 500F.

This makes wonderful snack for kids in school or for busy moms and wonderful appetizer if you are having friends over for dinner.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Poached Peaches With Baked Ricotta

 Few things say summer like peaches! We loved this recipe for baked ricotta with poached peaches - we made it two times in the past two weeks. It was a great way to use peaches from our tree too!
Summer vacation is almost over! First time I made this cake "for a sweet start of 1st grade". The second time the girls asked for it so I said: "Lets make it a double sweet beginning of school years to come!

Here is the recipe:

Note: Both times I cut the recipe in half. First time around I did not have lemon verbena and I used only lemon balm for the sauce and it turned out fine; second time I used them both for the extra lemony sauce.


Friday, February 26, 2016

Sweet potatoe fries a la Jamie Oliver

Not only are they perfect with a salad, as a side dish, but for me these sweet potatoe fries can easily pass as a dessert!
The recipe is available online here

Bon ap!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Happy National Cheese Lovers Day

It is the National Cheese Lovers Day today, January 20th, and I've thought it would be interesting to share a story about Swiss cheese that I came to know more about during a recent trip...

New Year and Christmas in Serbia translate to hard core post-holiday diet upon returning back home. Well, that would not have been so difficult, considering the vast variety of fresh produce in the sunny California, had there not been a glitch in the plan on the way back through Switzerland... I've read this interesting article about Swiss cheese on the plane and ventured straight to Coop to pick few varieties to try during my stay (which was inevitable to happen anyway, be it for the article or not). I typically buy more than what I can finish during the visit and have been accused in the past of leaving stinky cheese in the fridge... So this time I was careful and opened only cheese I ate, which means the rest had to travel back with me! Now it's the fridge full of cheese here at home and a sad prospect of a diet that is looming over... except that today is National Cheese Lovers Day and the diet will have to wait till tomorrow ;)

Before I jump to the article about cheese, I also wanted to share a great snack/dessert idea that I learned about recently while celebrating Christmas with my friends from Cuba. Yes, I celebrate Christmas twice :), on December 25th and on January 7th. My friend's father is 94 years old. He was born in northern Spain before he emigrated to Cuba. He came to visit and celebrate Christmas with us. I can only wish to be like him when I grow old, full of positive energy, jokes and love for his family and friends. He travels, goes for long walks, drives a car, cooks,... everything! So inspirational! He brought back many food goodies with him, including guava paste, special crackers, and a variety of traditional Spanish Christmas turron sweets. Not to forget original coffee, and a very special way I've learned from my friends how it is made in Cuba. :)
I have never ever tasted anything like guava paste! It is both sweet and salty at the same time, and is best paired with crackers and soft Mexican cheese. I don't know if it is because of the guava paste itself, or the special crackers that Papi brought, or the spirit of Christmas celebrated in such good company, but surely it was one of the best desserts I've ever had!
Just when I arrived back home from the trip, a package arrived and Papi sent me a can of original guava paste! Now I can't wait to try pairing it with the Swiss cheese that I've brought back!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Homemade Panettone

Santa Claus is coming to town!!! This year we got the similar size Christmas tree (which means the star barely fit on it because it is almost all the way up the ceiling ;) The girls (and mama) enjoyed pulling the ornaments out of the boxes and yelling out loud:" This is my favorite! I love this one!" etc. This year, since the girls are bigger and could do much of the tree decoration by themselves-other than putting the star on top :)  I had some extra time which I used for some  Holiday time in the kitchen :) I always wanted to make Panettone: for two reasons -one: I love to eat them and two: they mean Christmas season is here. I even candied my own lemon peel for it!
They turned out fine. I think the recipe I used is very good recipe for homemade Panettone. The only fun thing I did (that I maybe should not have done) is: I made my own molds with parchment paper. They did not hold the best - so my advice is to invest money and time in buying those. Another even more fun thing I did which, I think, compromised the end result are the two wooden sticks you use to hang the panettone up side down to cool. I did not invest in those either (I used chopsticks that were too short :) Hey, it is all about having a good time!  That being said- I loved my panettone and enjoyed it with a tea so much that I will be probably making them again during this holiday season with store purchased molds etc :)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2016 to you all!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Whole Pumpkin Pie Soup

It is Halloween again. We did not have that holiday as kids. Still so much fun for the kids and so much memories. I was lucky  to live it with my fairies, princesses, owls, seahorse, dancers, ladybugs, butterflies :)
However, this time of year in US always meant one thing to me: all the colors of nature, food and of course cooking. Pumpkins!!! I love them- the shape, the colors, to eat them, pumpkin seeds then persimmons, pomegranates, apples, apple cider etc.
This recipe for pumpkin soup inside of whole pumpkin was something I always wanted to make on Halloween night but the kids were too small for it to happen I guess. I made it this year and I am glad I did. It turned out great and much better then your regular pumpkin soup in a pot.

The best part was: I did not miss a minute (ok maybe ten minutes because  I had to come back home and open the lid of the pumpkin to add  goat cheese to it) of trick or treating with my owl and flamneco dancer and we had the yummiest pumpkin soup that came out of the oven it its WHOLE glory when we came back.

I did not change anything in this recipe:
Because this is great Alton Brown and all his recipes should not be changed for a reason!

Enjoy and happy trick-or -treating ;)

PS.I love sharing my pictures even though they are far from great quality photos ;) I know Miki would disagree with this.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Apple roses

What do apples remind you of? They remind me of fall and winter. We have relatives in the countryside who would bring us loads of all kinds of apples at the end of summer. My parents would layer them in the wooden baskets and we would have them throughout the winter. Mom would make apple pies, fruit compote with apples, pears, prunes and other dried fruit that was available to us in winter. We had so many apples that we would give them to our neighbours as well. My childhood friend, who lived next door, would later complain to me that his mom always made apple pies and only apple pikes during those cold fall and winter days. Yes, complain, because we kids, spoiled by the abundance of fresh fruit and all kinds of summery cakes, didn't like the monotony of apple pies in winter. He would say: "My mom made apple pie today (referring to the kind of apple pie that we generally make in Serbia with phyllo dough), yesterday she made lazy apple pie (the one that is made with cookie kind of batter and a layer of grated apples in the middle) and the day before she made pie with lazy apples (making fun and sarcastically calling the same pie with different made-up name). In Serbian: "Пита, Пита лења, лења пита... :)
" Things were different when my Mom made baked apples. She used a very special kind of apples for baking, ones that she said only grew in the place where she was born. Those apples are bitter if eaten fresh (to me at least, not to her :)) and have very thick skin (кожаре). Once baked, they were the sweetest of all apples! She would remove the cores and place them in the baking pan (or on cookie sheet), then fill the middle of the apples with overflowing brown sugar (sometimes she would add ground walnuts, similar to the Bosnian dessert called "tufahije"). The whole house would smell and the caramelly crust would form at the bottom of the pan that we would rush to peel and have while it was still stretchy and warm. Those baked apples, with soft flesh and the thick skin so chewy, remained to day my most favorite kind and baked apples my among favorite comforting desserts in winter. I haven't yet found those kinds of apples here in the USA, but am still searching. I would add a bit of butter and a few drops of lemon nowadays when I make baked apples. 
Apples also remind me of New York winters and apple pie that my landlord used to make. I will post THE recipe later, it is called "Mr. Rod's famous apple pie" :) 
I also have to mention "Nena's apple tart", because I know she will be reading this post :), and I wanted to remind her to post the recipe that she promised! :) 
In addition to NY of course, "big apple" always reminded me of the song we recited as kids from the big book of poems written for children by Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj: "Juca sa velikom jabukom".
I can go on and on... but the point is that apples never reminded me of roses, until now! I saw this video that is becoming viral online. Perhaps you've already seen it, there are now few versions and I wouldn't know which one is original, unfortunately, but according to the number of most youtube views perhaps this one is: 

My favourite Chef John has his own version, too: 

Here is my version: 


In addition to being very tasty, they make for an excellent photographing objects. 

Kitchen notes: 
  • 3 minutes of cooking the apples in the microwave (as suggested in the original video) wasn't enough. Perhaps we should have done that first and then leave apple slices to soak for a while in the warm water. We were very excited and wanted to start rolling, so we cooked them for few more minutes, then had to wait for them to cool down a bit to be able to handle. 
  • We put more apricot jam and it was sticky to get the roses out of the pan. Next time I'll use buttered and sugared ramekins, as per Chef John's suggestion
  • I've used leftover water in which the apples were cooked to make compote, just added a few prunes and leftover apple slices. Delicious! :) 

Have fun,

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Breakfast for champions... and fighting jetlag

You come back home after vacation and there is nothing in the fridge... Then you wake-up in the middle of the night, starving... and you start eating Plazma that you've brought back with you on the plane. Then you try to sleep some more... before you get up feeling even more hungry... How nice would it be if there was a breakfast ready and waiting for you. Well, it can be done! All you need to do is take two minutes before you go to sleep the night before to mix these ingredients in a jar and leave them to work their magic in the fridge overnight. Voila! The breakfast is ready by itself :)

2 servings


  • 1 cup rolled-oats
  • 1 cup milk (I prefer to use vanilla soy milk here, as I always keep a carton in the pantry) 
  • 1/2 cup dried goji berries
  • 2 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 Tbsp flax seeds
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Poor man's chestnut cake: castagnaccio

Last fall, I've found out that EXPO 2015 will be hosted in Milano. It started in May and it will be open throught October. Perfect reason to visit Milano again this year! While I was combing through the food directory, just like hunting for treasure (treasure map is here), planning and imagining going from one pavilion to the next (each participating country has its own pavilion), this cake with chestnuts particularly stole my attention and I had to make it!
This cake has a very nutty, earthy like taste. You may need to get adjusted to it, but once you do you'll love it!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Baked Cauliflower Gnocchi

I love gnocchi and cauliflower. So, I thought to combine the two. I started searching for the recipes and while I got inspired by some of them ( I did not find quite what I was looking for. It was time to COOK and try my luck! So I came up with this recipe which turned out pretty good! My goal was to find a recipe that uses close to none flour and more cauliflower, hence I decided to bake these instead of boiling them.

1 medium cauliflower head (blanched and processed in a food processor until fine)
1/2-3/4 cup flour (whole wheat works just fine here)
2 eggs
3/4-1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
white pepper
Mix everything up in a bowl to form a paste. Shape gnocchi (use more flour if you need). Place gnocchi on a pan lined with a parchment paper just in case and bake in a preheated oven(425F) for 20 minutes or so. Then flip the gnocchi over and bake another 20 minute or until they are golden in color.
Serve with you favorite sauce or a side dish.