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!