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August 2018

Coconut and cardamon sweet potato soup and distant memories

Cardamon and coconut soup For whatever reason I am going to write about another soup, something new, something I've never cooked before. I truly love to experiment with new ingredients, new recipes ... I am never worried I might not like it or my husband might not like it ... the truth is that ... if you don't try  something new... you will be stuck in an illusionary  circle of "safety" and in time boredom and even intolerance (but about this at another time) 

So, cardamon .... the first time I came across it was in 1995 when I started to work for a few traders from Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan ..... as it is their custom, doing business is always better with a cup of coffee or tea in front of you and even better over a meal .. something they are very good at organising and cooking. So my first taste of cardamon came while sipping one of their Turkish style coffees with .. a few pods of cardamon or a pinch of ground cardamon. I loved the taste from the very beginning and to this day I use cardamon daily in my coffee..... I love the smell, the taste and also it reminds me of past experiences I really treasure. 

As we've recently acquired a freezer I am eager to try new recipes of soups and not only ... something to cook and store easily for the days when I am too tired  and I want to simply pick something up from the freezer and just heat up. 

The recipe below I have not only tried but loved and it will be clearly part of my cooking "repertoire" and also it will be in a creative book I am currently preparing. 

What do you need as ingredients? Here you are ... 

2 tbsp melted coconut oil or sunflower oil 

1 red /white onion chopped finely 

a small piece of fresh ginger grated

2 garlic cloves grated

2 medium size sweet potatoes peeled and diced 

1 tsp ground cardamon 

400 ml coconut milk

salt, pepper 

750 ml vegetable stock 

juice of 1/2 lemon or lime ( I love lemon in my soups so I use the juice of 1 lemon)

fresh coriander chopped 

roasted coconut flakes (optional) 

What's next? Simple ... just add all of the above in a pot, on the stove .. boil everything until the potatoes are soft ... blend them and ... voila ... start eating ... of course you can add the coriander at the end and the coconut flakes or you can blend them as well. 


One last thing about the cardamon ... apparently cardamon has a great stress relieving effect on the body, regulates blood pressure, stimulate the metabolism and improves digestion. 

Actually another last thing from me ....when I cook I always have music in the background or even a talk or a movie on the go ... when I write s the same thing ... today ... I've been listening to a superb qawwali concert -  the Nooran Sisters are superb performers and singers so ... a feast for the ears and eyes ... listen to them. 


Zakuska, ajar a tasty Eastern European spread


Although it is only mid August .... the preparations for autumn supplies has already started. I will always remember the smell of the roasted aubergines, roasted red peppers and long red peppers we call "capia" peppers in Romania. Zakuska was made by the majority of women, each using their own recipe, sometimes recipes well guarded as it was part of the family tradition and traditions ... are priceless. 

I've been making Zakuska on and off for a few years, using various recipes, Romanian, Russian, sometimes I added my own touch ..... I love Zakuska and probably always will .. it is not only tasty but it represents a tiny glimpse into a different way of life, slower, simpler .... 

Just in case you also want to make it, here is how: 



1kg long red peppers (roasted, peeled, deseeded) 

1kg aubergines (when you grill them ..they need to be pretty well burned ... and you need to keep turning them around) 

1 kg onions (chopped really really in tiny pieces)

1 l tomato juice/passata 

5 garlic cloves 

150ml sunflower oil

2 tbsp vinegar

salt, pepper even chillies if you want 


Just a few photos about how the chargrilled aubergines should look like before you take the flesh from inside. 



First of all, you need to roast the aubergines, leave them to cool down, peel them and again leave the scooped flesh in a sieve for a couple of hours. Roast the long red peppers as well ( I do mine in the grill the same as the aubergines but one can do them on the barbecue ..... the taste is way, way better because it will have a stronger smoky taste) 

Next you need to peel the onions, cut them and put them in the chopper .. until you obtain small pieces. 

Add all of the ingredients in a big pot, stir nicely and make sure that you keep stirring the Zakuska from time to time for the next 90 minutes. In the meantime prepare your jars, fill them in  nicely and don't forget to taste from time to time :) I always do ... I love eating it when it is hot although the traditional way of  eating Zakuska is cold, on pieces of bread or if you are looking after your figure .....on lettuce leaves.  You can also add a few tablespoons on top of your pasta. 

What I do to prolong the shelf life :) is to heat the oven for 10 minutes to 160 degrees. When it reaches this temperature, switch off the oven and put in there the jars filled in with Zakuska without adding the lids .... 30 minutes later, add a few drops of oil in each jar, put the lids on and store them in a cool place.

You can start eating the next day or ... straight away .... bon apetite!