The Daring Bakers #24 Indian bolinhas de coco (Cardamom Flavored Coconut Cookies)...

Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!

Second part of the Daring Baker's challenge this month - part one with the Mawa cake can be found HERE. I decided to divide the post as it would be an awful long one.... ;) Back to the merit tho - I made those cookies with my lil sous chef J - she enjoyed making little balls and flattening them out on the baking tray (when they didn't look like circles at all - but that's part of the fun!). The only problem then was that they were completely different sizes and baked very uneven, some burning completely... Cookies were easy to make, not a lot of work, but a lot of waiting, so it's best to make the dough the night before. everyone loved those little coconut treats - this one is definitely a keeper! :)

How to make it...

The Daring Bakers #24 Indian Mawa (milk) cake...

Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!

I love Indian cooking so I couldn't miss this month's challenge! OK, to be honest... Mawa cake IS a lot of work, well mailny the very beggining of it is - the evaporating of the milk, keeping and eye on it stirring it constantly to make sure it won't burn... Work was greatly rewarded tho! It tastes divine, so sweet, milky, it's nice and light but still very moist. Even tho I loved the cake and had a big fun making it with lil baby J (who's enjoying all the baking activities now, as she's already over 3 years old) I don't think I'll be making this cake again - purely that it's taking ages to make! But... if you give it to me - anytime day or night - I'll gladly eat the lot! :)

PS. There's another part of the challenge - cookies - which you can find HERE (it was all too much for one post).

How to make it...

Humble potato and National Potato Day...

Everyone living in Ireland knows that Irish are VERY fond of their potatoes. They would eat them in any form or shape, any opportunity they get! And I'm highly supportive of that myself :)
Today is National Potato Day so I thought of gathering my favourite potato recipes and telling you a little bit about Irish love affair with this humble spud and about the spud itself.

The origins of the potato can be traced to the highlands of the Peruvian Andes-mountains in South America on the border between Bolivia and Peru, 8,000 years ago. There, research indicates, communities of hunters and gatherers who had first entered the South American continent at least 7,000 years before began domesticating wild potato plants that grew around the lake in abundance. Some 200 species of wild potatoes are found in the Americas.

It is thought that the potato reached Europe in the hands of returning Spanish explorers around 1570. How the potato came to be introduced into Ireland is not precisely known, though popular myth credits its introduction at Youghal, Co. Cork by Sir Walter Raleigh. Other anecdotal evidence suggest that the potato was washed up on the shores of Cork after the wreck of the Spanish Armada in the area.

The “Great Famine” in Ireland from 1845-1849 was caused because the potato crop became diseased. At the height of the famine at least one million people died of starvation. This famine left many poverty stricken families with no choice but to struggle for survival or emigrate out of Ireland. Towns became deserted, and shops closed because store owners were forced to emigrate due to the amount of unemployment. Over one and a half million people left Ireland for North America and Australia. Over just a few years, the population of Ireland dropped by one half, from about 9 million to little more than 4 million.

There are now over a thousand different types of potatoes. Potatoes have become an integral part of much of the world’s cuisine. It is the world’s fourth-largest food crop, following rice, wheat, and maize.

In Europe per capita production is still the highest in the world, but the most rapid expansion over the past few decades has occurred in southern and eastern Asia. Potato consumption is expanding strongly in developing countries, which now account for more than half of the global harvest and where the potato’s ease of cultivation and high energy content have made it a valuable cash crop for millions of farmers. China is now the world’s largest potato-producing country, and nearly a third of the world’s potatoes are harvested in China and India.

VARIETIES (most popular ones)

Rooster -  Rooster is the most widely grown potato in Ireland and is available all year round. The variety has red skin with yellow flesh. The good skin finish and uniform shape with shallow eyes makes it easy to peel. The texture allows it to have a wide range of uses such as boiling,steaming,baking,roasting  and chipping.Rooster is also easier to cook than other floury varieties.

Book review - The Sopranos Family Cookbook...

"The Sopranos family cookbook: As compiled by Artie Bucco"

Hardcover (208 pages)

Chapters: Introduction by Artie Bucco, Cooking the Neapolitan way, The Soprano family tradition (Corrado Soprano Jnr), Sunday dinner (Janice Soprano), Feeding my family (Carmela Soprano), Mis Cucina (Artie Bucco), Cooking for the whole famiglia (Charmaine Bucco), Rage, guilt, loneliness & food (Dr. Jennifer Melfi), My Nucci (Paul Gualtieri), Cibo D'Amore (Adriana La Cerva), Grilling - Italian style (Anthony Soprano), If I coudln't eat, I'd f***ing die (Bobby Bacala), Afterword by Artie Bucco.

I'm a BIG fan of the TV series The Sopranos, so immediately when I only saw this cook book I just had to have it :) It's great! If you are a Sopranos fan and a foodie as well, you have to have it. If you watched even only one episode you'll know that the food is an important part of their lives - they are eating something almost constantly! Lots of family parties, lots of wakes... Christmas dinners, BBQ etc. All the recipes in the book are easy to follow and with very clear instructions. You wont find ingredients that are hard to get, so all the dishes in the book will be available for you to make. The dishes I'm immediately thinking of when watching The Sopranos (mainly because they are 'family favourite and always present) are: Struffoli (p.31), Giambotta (p.42), Manicotti (p.56) or Ziti al Forno.

This book isn't a cook book as we know it. It's more a little history of The Sopranos Family and Italian/USA cooking traditions. The big appeal of this particular book is the way in which it ties into the show itself, which is visible here in the form of in-character narrations (different in each chapter) - Artie Bucco gives the history of Vesuvio's and shares a chapter of restaurant style recipes (he's also the main narrator in the book), Charmaine Bucco discusses the challenges and etiquette of professional catering before revealing some recipes that are easily prepared for a bigger crowd of guests, Adriana La Cerva gives a chapter of romantic recipes and tips for that perfect "dinner for two", Tony himself talks about Perfect grill party and Carmela about family gatherings. The chapters show characters well too, especially Janice's self-centered and artificial memories of days growing up around the Soprano family table and Uncle Junior's views (not only on food). There are many large photographs from the show as well as some letters and other family keepsakes. If you - as I - love The Sopranos... you really need to have this cookbook in your collection.

Some of the recipes I've already tried:

- Struffoli
Very easy to make and sooooo delicious!
But I'm warning you - it IS addictive! ;)

- Uova in purgatori (eggs in purgatory)
Quick and easy - perfect meal for lunch.

Flan (shortcrust) pastry & apple tart by Michel Roux...

I'm always a "yes person" when someone even as much as mentions an apple pie/tart! Michel Roux's apple tart/pie isn't any different! What's more - I think this is one of THE BEST apple tarts I've ever eaten! OK - there's a little bit of work involved here but result is SO worth it! The finished tart looks stunning - would be a perfect centrepiece for a party :) The pasty is short, crispy and buttery and what's on top of it is just pure heaven! :D You DO have to try it! My favourite of eating it - warm with a bit of vanilla ice cream on the side.

This recipe comes from a fantastic book "Pastry" by Michel Roux.

How to make it...

Turkey & rosemary meatballs...

I know... I've been away for quite some time - a month to be exact. I know there's no excuse for neglecting my passion - which is cooking & baking and I DID neglected it, not only My Kitchen (blog) but cooking/baking in general... and I also neglected you. I'm sorry.
My life is a little bit hectic recently. I'm a little bit lost in all that but... During last week I've found that cooking and even more so  - baking, brings me peace, relax, takes me away from everyday life rush, worries, troubles. Allows me to spend some quality time with my Lil Baby J - who LOVES baking with her mummy - and also allows me to be alone, in my kitchen, busy behind the stove or putting together a cake or something sweet. Gives me a little bit of "me time" - which all of us need from time to time. Fortunately no big "dramas" in my life - just everyday life: work (which gets to me quite badly recently), money, what to do in life/future etc. To do something for myself I've started walking (don't know what's the proper name for it - power walking/fitness walking?). It allows me to clear my mind, keep in shape and achieve some personal goals, prove myself in some way, shape or form and I already have some personal achievements on that front (finishing of 10K race).

Back to cooking and baking - I'm back for good! You won't get rid of me so easily ;) So I hope you're back with me too! Ready for some delicious sweet and savoury dishes!
And we're starting with something easy, quick and perfect for summer BBQ! Enjoy!

How to make it...