Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Green Lobio

For the ex-USSRenians, Georgean cuisine is as Italian cuisine for americans - adored and widely popular. Lobio is one of the staples of Georgean food. Here is one of the less known versions of lobio - Green Lobio.

Blog's Category: International, Vegetarian


Lobio is translated as beans from Georgian language (FIY: Georgia - one of the former Soviet republics).

Well known (well.. for ex-USSRenians) version of lobio resembles itself red or white beans in a walnut sauce. This Green Lobio uses green beans instead. I vaguely remember that I've heard "green lobio" before but had no idea what was that. I just needed new application for boring green beans I've got on farmers market and didn't want to go beaten path of green beans casseroles and such. Recipe of green lobio pop up on the youtube video in a Russian language just in time.

Being unruly child of kitchen world, I didn't follow any specific recipe but stuck to the principal ingredients of classic version - green beans, scrambled egg (yes!) and walnuts.
Visually not terribly appealing, this dish will surprise you with its delicious bouquet of flavors and textures.

In my plans for future is constructing the same dish but looking more attractively, may be by layering or changing the chopping style, etc. Meanwhile, I don't want you to miss on this one, see recipe below and try it! Its healthy, simple and yummmmmy!

What is it?

It can be assigned to the category of warm salads. Cooked beans are mixed with scrambled eggs, walnuts, cilantro and peppers. Very juicy, It does not require any dressing.

Taste Description

Juicy, "textured" and delicious - that's how I would briefly define the taste of this salad. Perfectly cooked beans, in combination with onion and scrambled eggs, create that interesting juicy protein mixture. Walnuts add up to flavors, texture and "protein-y" factor. Specks of red chili brighten all up visually and bring nice gentle but substantial kick to the overall comforting, "all-in-one meal" salad.

How to Serve

Serve when it's still warm. It tasty right from the fridge as well. It was still perfect for my next day "take-from-home" lunch.

Green Lobio

  • 1 lb green beans
  • 5 eggs
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • black pepper
  • 1 c fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2/3 c walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small green chili, seeded and sliced very thinly
  • 1 small red chili, seeded and sliced very thinly
  • 3 tbs olive oil

- Trim ends of green beans. Cook them in a boiling salted water for about 5-6 minutes until they tender. Drain.

- Do all all prep work (chopping). Break eggs into separate bowl and beat them lightly.

- In a skillet with olive oil, cook onion just until soft but not got the color just yet. Add eggs and cook them stirring for a two minutes or until they cooked through.

- Cut beans into 1" pieces and mix them with all the ingredients in a large bowl. 

- Serve warm or cold. Enjoy!


- Heat from black pepper, green chili and red chili peppers are very different: black pepper kicks with a moderate but sharp heat right away as it gets into your mouth; green chili acts more slowly though more "surely" with a strong cold (if it makes sense) heat; red chili takes over even more slow, sneaky, starting with barely recognizable heat progressing to the nice overwhelmingly warming wave. Red chili heat is my favorite, too bad fresh red chili is not available all year round :( in my local stores.
Depending on type of heat you prefer, justify the amount of each pepper accordingly. I would not recommend though to omit peppers altogether - you will rob yourself on a great experience of spicy [moderately] food.


Do not overcook onions - they have to be soft but not golden-brown. Otherwise they will lose its juiciness.

This is green chili I buy at my local Indian grocery. I love those. I often drop whole green chili into soup or stew. Whole, it won't "deploy" its spice to the whole dish; I'll fish it up and will bite on it
Customize the level of heat by amount of green and red chili peppers. You can omit them altogether if you can't tolerate any heat at all. There still be some from black pepper.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Gnocchi served in very classical Italian style - with Pomodoro sauce and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top. It's a good way to satisfy craving for something authentically Italian.

Blog's Category: DK Challenges, International, Vegetarian


September's Gnocchi challenge at The Daring Kitchen has opened something new in me I didn't know about before. Really, I didn't know that I'm such a big Italian cuisine fan until I cooked these gnocchi. I admit - I never made gnocchi before, but whatever I tried out in a restaurants or bought in a store, called "gnocchi", never excited me much. Nevertheless, as my Ukrainian potato dumplings stays not too far from concept of gnocchi, I didn't have much trouble cooking gnocchi for a first time.

After thorough research on a subject, I decided to take the classic route of cooking basic gnocchi and serving them with Pomodoro tomato sauce made of famous Sun Marzano tomatoes. As a base for the sauce recipe, I took a recipe from Italian cookbook writer Marcella Hazan. Interestingly enough, the recipe does not include salt. Whether it's mistake or purposely omitted, I obediently didn't put any salt in my sauce. The entire recipe, although simple, is somewhat strange but trust me, stick to it, and you will end up with the best tomato sauce ever.

Honestly, I hate dealing with anything involving flour flying around my kitchen and wooden pin particularly. Every time I do this I promise myself never come back to this recipe. In case with gnocchi, I'm not so sure anymore - resulting dish is so tempting now that I may be cooking gnocchi pretty soon.. again.

What is it?

It's Italian style potato dumplings served with different sauces and toppings, from pesto, tomato sauces and cheeses to a more elaborate sauces including mushrooms and so on. Recipe below is "basic classic" - gnocchi topped with simple Pomodoro sauce and quality parmesan cheese.

Taste Description

In my humble opinion of non-Italian (though a big fan of Mediterranean cuisine in general), this gnocchi served with this sauce and this cheese, resembles itself quintessential taste of Italian cuisine. 
You will taste light tones of potato in a tender buttery nuggets of gnocchi.
Sugar in a sauce, merged with light natural acidity of san-marzano tomatoes, gives to the sauce fruity undertones. This fruitiness is amplified beautifully by absence of salt in a sauce (surprise!). 
Powerful parmigiano-regiano and fresh parsley bring whole lot of additional taste and flavor to a "party". All these create unforgettable pleasure you will crave again right the next day.

How to Serve

Serve hot or warm, right away. 

Keep in mind that, left uncooked, gnocchi will change their color to grey-ish and lose their shape in a fridge unless you freeze them. I prefer to cook all my gnocchi right after making them. 

FYI: my cooked gnocchi with all the toppings (I managed to save some for the next day) were still amazing the next day when I rewarmed them in a microwave.


  • 5 large Idaho potatoes 
  • 1.5 c + more flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 28 oz can of whole San-Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • shaved Parmisiano-Regiano
  • freshly grated black pepper
  • fresh parsley, finely chopped


- Make sauce first: place all sauce ingredients into small pot, bring to a boil then turn heat down and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Done!


 - Microwave (or bake) potato until soft throughout when pierced with knife. If cooking in a microwave, calculate cooking time allowing 4 minutes per potato. Add 1/2 cup of water on a cooking plate.

- Let potato to cool down just until you can handle it and peel them.

- Using ricer or fine grater, grate/mash potato onto the generously floured surface (large bowl) were you'll be making dough.

- Make dough: break egg on a top of potato, sprinkle 1 tsp of salt over and 1 cup of flour. Mix all up and kneed a dough by adding remaining 0.5 c of flour until you get soft pliable dough. Don't kneed for a too long. 

- Make gnocchi: divide dough into 8 wedges. Working one by one, roll each wedge into 2/3 " wide ropes and cut it into 1/2" pieces. Using fork or gnocchi maker roll each piece into small ribbed, cup shaped little dumplings (see pictures below).

- Divide into three batches. Cook in batches: throw the batch into a boiling water; then turn heat down as soon as water starts boiling again to keep water barely boiling (or even not boiling just yet). Gnocchi cooks quickly - they are ready when all of them rise from the bottom to a top.

- With a wide slotted spoon, fish all gnocchi out into a large serving plate, drizzle with good olive oil to prevent them sticking together, shake a little bit and then spoon sauce on a top. Top with parsley, black pepper and shaved parmisiano-regiano. Enjoy!


- Have your sauce (it can be prepared the day before), shaved cheese, finely chopped parsley and grated pepper ready before you start on making gnocchi.

- I cooked my potatoes in a microwave - they come out just right consistency - fully cooked, a bit dry exactly the way I needed them to be.

- Do not keep your uncooked gnocchi (or dough for gnocchi) in a fridge - it will get dark and runny. It's better to cook all your gnocchi right away. Leftovers of cooked gnocchi (with or without sauce) will keep in your fridge for a few days. Rewarmed in a microwaved they are still yummy.


Real San-Marzano tomato are grown on fertile volcanic soil in Italy. Supposedly they are better than regular tomatoes (should be! - price for the can of them is 3 times higher than for plain tomatoes; the lowest I found is 3.99!) I'll make Pomodoro sauce using regular tomatoes and will tell you if there will be any difference ;)

I love-love-love the simplicity of this sauce, it's mild though very bold-flavored taste. Also I will try to make it next time with olive oil instead of butter. I'm curious how it will play...

To save time, I microwaved my potatoes. They come out exactly the way I need -on a dry side, fluffy after I grated them on a fine grater.

Final dough has to be soft, somewhat wet inside.

On a right, the ideal shape for gnocchi.

For one batch I added shallot butter I had at a time, for another - a little olive oil. Olive oil wins!

I made my pomodoro sauce the day before and reheated just before use. Yummmmmm

..I wish I had it for my lunch today...

Blog-checking lines: Todd, who is The Daring Kitchen’s AWESOME webmaster and an amazing cook, is our September Daring Cooks’ host! Todd challenged us to make light and fluffy potato Gnocchi and encouraged us to flavor the lil pillows of goodness and go wild with a sauce to top them with!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Green Mango Salad

Got green mango? Make this salad! Vietnamese version of this Thai staple has won my heart by its simplicity and bright taste, flavor and, of course, color!

Blog's Category: Awesome Findings, International, Vegetarian



At a store, I usually look for the brightest, ripest and juiciest mango possible as my Danny and myself are huge aficionado of this tropical fruit. But lately I could be caught on hunting for the greenest mango possible. Why? Just because I'm into my new interest - green mango salad.

I have already made my "rehearsal" recipe of green mango salad with bean sprouts, roasted coconut and peanuts. It come out delicious although a bit too fruity to my taste, must be because my mangoes were not that green after all.

So, understandably, when I spotted deep greed and hard as rock mangoes on shelves of my local grocery, I have plunged into my second take on a Green Mango Salad. This time I took simple and straightforward approach, exactly the way I like - "effort-ness-less-ly".

I served it yesterday for extended family dinner - everybody loved it. My dear father in-law said "wow", even my food-conservative husband silenced it (believe me, silence in this case is the equivalent to mini-wow in regard to my cookery experimentations).

What is it?

This salad is mostly the mango, sliced thinly into long strips. Greens, fresh cilantro and mint leaves, lime or lemon-based dressing, sesame oil and sesame seeds finish up the salad. Almost forgot - fresh red chili pepper - the must ingredient here!

Taste Description

- Bold flavors of cilantro, mint and both, sesame oil and sesame seeds, bring natural taste of mango to the new definition as a great salad ingredient from the fruit family.

- Soft sweetness of under-ripe mango, with its light sourness, merges innately into lemon juice acidity. It creates strong sweet-and-sour (mostly sour!) taste that surprisingly does not offend you much but rather makes you wonder how come you like this sour salad so much.

- Bright red specks of fresh chili pepper, you mix in to your taste, and fresh ginger will give you that nice heat that adds so much sophistication and fun to the salad.

- Personally, I especially enjoyed notes of mint here... and chili pepper..  and sesame seeds..

How to Serve

Serve as side salad. It can be used in sandwiches and burgers to add some complex flavors to the plain food. I took it for lunch next day - it was still very good.

Green Mango Salad

  • 1" ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1/3 (or to taste) fresh red chili pepper, seeds removed, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp salt
  • juice from about 1.5 lemons (or limes)
  • 1 tbs roasted sesame oil
  • 10 mint leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 green mangoes, peeled and sliced into thin strips
  • 5-7 tbs of sesame seeds, toasted
  • 0.5 c fresh cilantro, chopped
- Make dressing by mixing the first 6 ingredients.

- In a large bowl, combine sliced mango, mint, cilantro, dressing and half of the sesame seeds.

- Serve generously sprinkled with sesame seeds. Enjoy!


- For this salad, try to find the greenest and hardest mango possible.

I was so excited about these green mangoes that I forgot to wash them.. Though I peeled them anyway... well, let's train our immune system ;)

I tried to cut off that flesh around the pit nicely..

My favorite way to juice up lemons. Minimal waste - maximum output (just push those pesky seeds on the edge of a plate).

Don't pass on mint - it's awesome in this salad.

..dressing is done..


..looking good in the individual dishes..