The Daring Bakers #19 Armenian nutmeg cake...

The Daring Bakers’ April 2012 challenge, hosted by Jason at Daily Candor, were two Armenian standards: nazook and nutmeg cake. Nazook is a layered yeasted dough pastry with a sweet filling, and nutmeg cake is a fragrant, nutty coffee-style cake.

OK I have a confession to make first - when I had my first bite of the Armenian cake I realy didn't like it much... but after about third or fourth bite I just loved it! It's an unusual taste but one that you can grow fond of. I'm realy pleased with the fact that from one butter you're getting two different types of cake - crust one at the bottom (and when I say crust it's really crispy, cookie like) and soft and fluffy one in the middle. What a great idea that you can use the same thing twice! This cake really grew on me and this recipe is realy a keeper! The only change I'll make next time baking this delicious cake will be adding some cinnamon along with the nutmeg and maybe changing the kind of nuts I'll use on the top.
P.S. Regarding the sugar - I used 250 g light brown sugar and 150 g dark brown sugar.

How to make it...

Meringues - a box full of clouds...

I'm a BIG fan of meringue. There's nothing more comforting for me that this little, light, crispy (sometimes a little gooey in the middle) cloud gently melting in my mouth. And now the important part - if you're a fan of very crisp and dry meringues you have to omit the cornstarch in the recipe, if you prefer a meringue dry and crisp on the outside but a little gooey in the inside do add the cornstarch. In my house we have a little problem, as my Hubby is a fan of those crispy ones and I'm a fan of the latter.
Meringues are very easy to make and are great idea of reusing your leftover egg whites. General rule is to use about 50 g of sugar per each egg white.

How to make it...

Keralan chicken - in coconut sauce... recipe by Anjum Anand...

"Kerala is an Indian state located on the Malabar coast of south-west India. It was formed on 1 November 1956 by the States Reorganisation Act by combining various Malayalam speaking regions. (...) Kerala is a top tourist destination in India. National Geographic's Traveller magazine names Kerala as one of the "ten paradises of the world" and "50 must see destinations of a lifetime". Travel and Leisure names Kerala as "One of the 100 great trips for the 21st century". The Kerala Government Tourism Department, a government department in charge of promoting tourism has adopted the slogan God's Own Country for its campaigns." - by

Loved this recipe - you have to do a little bit of stirring but it's very rewarding job :) Sauce is fantastic, nice thick and creamy. I'd say that you need all the spices from the list, I'm pretty sure that it won't be the same if you omit something...

This recipe comes from a great book by Anjum Anand - 'Anjum's New India'.

How to make it...

Sourdough rolls... and your home smells like a bakery :)

As you know I have a sourdough starter - Ivanka - which I made some time ago. It's living happily in my fridge and is used at least once a week. My Hubby is doing a great job using it so often. I left all the bread making/baking to him - he's so good at it now that there's no point for me to start and 'interfere' with it ;) Anyway back to the merit. We haven't bought any bread/bread products for the last 5 weeks! Everything is home made now for us. It's healthier and more economical too. You have to 'master' few tricks and see what works best for you but once you get it the results are very rewarding! Hubby usually makes 2 loafs but this time he decided to try and make rolls. They disappeared very quickly :)

How to make it...

Mazurek - Polish Easter cake...

"Mazurek is a type of pastry (a cake) baked in Poland, particularly at Easter, but also at other winter holidays. It is generally decorated with icing and fruit and nuts." - by

First - I hope that you have a very Happy Easter! Spend with your family and friends, full of chocolate eggs and delicious food!

It was my first time making this traditional Polish cake. There are lots of different types of 'mazurek' - different types of topping, on the usually bottom of shortcrust pastry. I made mine with custard cream topping - as I thought that this will be the best one for little J - not to mention that I'm a big custard fan myself! For some details about Easter in Poland please pop in here.

How to make it...

Sweet foamy milky jelly... like marshmallows :)

My Hubby in the kitchen - always sounds promising  and this time He delivered BIG time! In our little family we love fruit jelly, with fruits or alone as it is. It's always better value to make your own! You can improvise with fruits, tastes etc. but recently my Hubby went one step further - he incorporated evaporated milk in it! Result - fantastic, marshmallow like foam (and for me - a HUGE marshmallows fun - something great!). He made a layered dessert - bottom part normal jelly with canned peaches and top layer - strawberry foam heaven! Little Baby J was also very pleased with her new dessert option. It's also an easy way to give your kids more fruits - we don't have that problem with Baby J as she loves all kinds of fruit and veg. Recently she swapped a cookie for... a raw carrot and celery! What 20 months old baby does that!? Well it turned out - mine :)
Anyway, back to the topic of this post - if you like jelly try it! Or if you don't like jelly try it even more, cos in that 'form' you may actually like it!

I'm only giving a recipe/method for the foamy/milky jelly as for normal fruit jelly there's always instruction on the packet.

How to make it...

John Torode's "Beef" & "Chicken" (book review)...

The presenter and the judge of BBC’s MasterChef, John Torode, is now an author of 2 cookbooks. The first one "Beef" and the second "Chicken and Other Birds". John's name alone (and my few years glued to the TV watching MC) was good enough recommendation for me to buy those books - and I'm not disappointed!

"Chicken and other birds"
by John Torode

Hardcover (256 pages)

Chapters: Introduction, Sopus & stocks, Snacks & starters, Legs & breasts, Salads, Curries, Barbecue, Roasts, One pot wonders, Tarts, pies & pastries, Pasta, noodles & grains, Confit, terrines, pates & pastrami.

Don’t judge this wondrous book by its cover. John Torode’s Chicken and Other Birds is hugely entertaining (mainly because of the language used in the book - simple, with a bit of humour yet professional and for everyone) at the same time, immensely practical. He calls it ‘beak to tail’ eating. “Although,” he says, “(chicken) is the world’s most popular meat, so many people lack confidence when it comes to buying and cooking it…”
You have chicken (and other birds for all occasions - lunch, quick dinner, lots of curries and festive recipes - ex. for Christmas dinner). There are also ideas for stuffing or different side dishes to serve your chicken with (veges, gravy, sauces...) and last but not least - how to cut your whole chicken and make perfect chicken stock. I've already made few recipes and have big hopes for that book! If you think that chicken is plain and boring - buy this book! You will change your mind quickly :)

by John Torode

Hardcover (256 pages)

Chapters: Introduction, Stocks, sopus & gravy, Carpaccio, Salads & snacks, Pasta & rice, Pies, stews & braises, steaks & big hunks, Salt beef, bresaola & pastrami, Veal, Offal, Sweet.

John not only gives us lots of ways to cook with beef, but also gives the history and importance of great and rare breeds, butcher's recommended cuts and true head-to-tail eating. You'll find lots of recipes which use steak, tail and even offal! His recipes are straight from the heart - down-to-earth, tasty, easy to make and gathered from around the world. They include classics such as pies, roasts, steaks and hamburgers as well as contemporary Italian, French and Thai specialities. As with his "Chicken" book you'll find ideas for different ways of serving steak and recipes for side dishes (like gnocchi or prefect chips). You can feel straight away his passion for beef. This book is now officially my Hubby's favourite!

Surprise! Surprise! The inside of the cover of the 'Beef' book is actually a poster of beef cuts. What a handy thing to have :)

I could write a lot about both books, but I think you should have your own chance to see them and cook along with them. My only advice - get them if you can! In both books recipes are easy to make and simple to follow, all of them are home cooking on the highest level. Recipes aren't complicated, as John thinks that restaurant cooking should stay in the restaurants - couldn't agree more! But this doesn't mean that you can't enjoy good, quality food, well prepared at home!

P.S. Now I'm waiting for another book, which I think would create an amazing 'trilogy' of 'meat books' -> PIG! I just hope that John has one in his future plans... ;)

Some of the recipes I've already tried:

Chicken biryani - now one of my family's favourites! :) Even lil Baby J can't have enough - no better recommendation that this!

Chicken with olives and lemons

Portuguese chicken croquettes

Spaghetti with curried chicken balls - love this one!

American walnut brownies - my way...

"A chocolate brownie is a flat, baked square or bar introduced in the United States at the end of the nineteenth century and popularized in both the U.S. and Canada during the first half of the twentieth century. The brownie is like a cross between a cake and a cookie in texture. Brownies come in a variety of forms. They are either fudgy or cakey, depending on their density, and they may include nuts, frosting, whipped cream, chocolate chips, or other ingredients. A variation that is made with brown sugar and no chocolate is called a blondie" - by

I love good brownies. This was the first time I made them from scratch. This is my recipe which was developed based on 2 other recipes - took few things from Nigella's recipe and few from Darina's. When I was looking at their recipes I liked them both but there was something missing for me in each - so I combined them and changed a little. This recipe gives you nice crust on the top and slightly moist centre. The result is great - real, good, chocolaty brownies! Enjoy!

How to make it...