Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dark Chocolate Matzo Crisps

These easy-to-make matzo crisps were real hit on both parties - our friend's Passover celebration and my family's Easter brunch. On multiple requests, here is the recipe.

Blog's Category: Awesome Findings, International, Snacks, Vegetarian


At this time of year, isn't it cool that me, Christian with Ukrainian roots, makes matzo Passover treats, and another girl, who is a 100 percent jewish, makes Ukrainian easter "pisanki" or colored eggs? In my understanding that is what real "world peace" means.

Yep, it's all about matzo in this post. There are endless options for using matzo for your meal. This year I've made something sweet, yummy, undeniably tempting and almost-perfectly healthy: Caramel Chocolate Pistachio Matzo Crisps. My friends and family lo-o-o-ved it and requested to post the recipe ASAP!

It's really hard to point directly the source of my recipe because hundreds are there, all over the internet. This particular recipe is the result of free interpretation of one of those. The process is a little bit messy, but easy and extremely rewarding:)

What is it?

It's plane matzo sheets, briefly baked with caramel sauce, then smudged in dark chocolate and sprinkled with pistachios.

Taste Description

This guilt-free dessert is medium-sweet, with all that indulgent flavors that come with dark chocolate and beautiful pistachio crunch on top of it (literally!).

How to Serve/Store

Store in a closed container to keep moisture away. I think it would keep for about 2 weeks inside your "cookie cabinet" (I didn't have chance to check it as mine disappeared too quickly).

Dark Chocolate Matzo Crisps

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 8 matzo sheets
  • 2 dark chocolate bars (or 4 small ones), broken in pieces
  • 1 cup pistachios, shelled and partially crushed
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used a pinch of crystallized vanilla)

    - Preheat oven to 330F.

    - Place silicon mats (or greased parchment paper) inside your largest baking sheets. Place there your matzo pieces. Make sure they lay horizontally - on a "slopped" sheets caramel will run on one side and other side of matzo will burn then.

    - Make caramel sauce - on medium heat, bring butter and brown sugar to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook on a low heat for 3-5 minutes until smooth and bubbly. Take off the heat, add salt, vanilla and stir.

    - Quickly spread caramel sauce evenly over matzo pieces and bake in a preheated to 330F oven for about 10 minutes.

    - It will be a little bit smoke when you open an oven door and caramel will be bubbling. Take baking sheets out, sprinkle pieces of chocolate on top and pop in an oven for 2 more minutes.

    - Take sheets out of oven and spread melted chocolate evenly using silicon spatula.

    - Sprinkle pistachios on top and let matzo crisps cool down for an hour or two until chocolate hardens. To speed up the process, you can move matzo sheets in cool place or fridge.

    - When chocolate is completely hardened, break matzo into large pieces and enjoy!


    - When sprinkling with pistachios, add some fun and zing by sprinkling also with some black or cayenne pepper. But remember it would be rather for adventurous adults than;  kids don't like this type of cruel jokes :)

    - Any type of nuts will do! Not just pistachios, I just like that green pistachio color over the dark chocolate :)

    - Unleash your imagination and make savory matzo crisps. But that's completely different story, it's on my to-do list and I will let you know what I've got out of this idea.


    This caramel sauce is so easy. It's basic recipe and can be used anywhere - over your ice cream, for pies, etc.

    You will have about 10 minutes before your sauce becomes too thick. If for some reason it's gotten thick too quick and become un-spreadable, place it for a minute or too on a burner, stirring to melt it down. For a worst case scenario, add a table spoon of butter while doing it.

    Use your favorite dark chocolate - good dark chocolate makes everything a-m-a-z-i-n-g-l-y good. I used 4 small bars of my favorite 72% dark chocolate from Trader Joe's.

    Sunday, April 13, 2014

    Indian Chatti Pathiri

    Have you ever heard about Indian Pathiri? Me too! Well, may be you have... I thought shamelessly that I knew a lot about food or at least I've heard about everything edible. But pathiri?! Anyway, take a look at my Pathiri journey...

    Blog's Category: International, Indian



    Farther I was into researching about Chatti Pathiri, the more I realized: wait a minute, I know this dish! There is Ukrainian traditional recipe called Kurnik, loosely translated as Chicken Crepe Pie, which resembles itself crepes layered with a pieces of cooked chicken and rice and baked in an oven into the beautiful, scrumptiously rich pie. I never made Kurnik myself but my family enjoys it every year at Easter time when my sister-in-law brings it, made by her from scratch, for our holiday feast.

    Back to our subject, that is why Chatti Pathiri turned out to be very familiar to me, just with Indian style seasoning and thus distinct flavor! With a few differences, it is the same idea - savory filling is layered between crepes and baked.

    Chatti Pathiri is known as South Indian specialty, Kerala area. It has a ton of variations with a savory or sweet filling, with crepes made of rice flour, whole wheat or regular flour. Speaking of flour, as making crepes out of regular flour would be too boring for me (I count myself a crepe expert :)), at first, I decided on rice crepes. Big mistake! My rice crepes were total failure (see evidence of it in pictures below). Using recipe for rice crepes, fished out somewhere from the virtual space, I literally "cracked" the recipe - crepes hopelessly cracked each time I was about to flip them over. I ended up cooking in a such manner all my rice batter and transforming the final mass into so called wide rice noodles - ha-ha-ha....Well, at least it didn't went into garbage can and, actually, was successfully consumed later as a noodle base for a stir fry :)

    Undefeated, next day, I finally managed to made whole wheat crepes for my pathiri, which by the way were somewhat tricky to cook because of naturally crumbly quality of whole wheat flour. But I did it!. My advice, if you are not an expert in crepe making, your choice has to be regular flour (not a whole wheat, not a rice flour, etc.)

    Ouch.. I forgot to mention that for all this fun (no sarcasm!) I have to thank this month's Daring Kitchen host Rachel who challenged us to Chatti Pathiri :) By going through wonderful world of "all over the world" cuisine we challenge and enrich ourselves, we wonder and enjoy, we assimilate and evolve as human being at the same time. Really, thank you, DK!

    What is it?

    Sometimes called Indian lasagna, Chatti Pathiri is a "pie", assembled from crepes, savory filling (often pieces of cooked chicken), coconut sauce, various Indian spices and then baked until crust forms on a top (if you bake it in an oven) or in a bottom (if you cook your "pie" on a stove, as I did below). This recipe uses combination of cooked lamb, frozen peas, corn and onion as a filling for Chatti Pathiri. As a  vegetarian option I have made another Chatti Pathiri with mushrooms as a replacement for a lamb.

    Taste Description

    Naturally, wherever Indian spices are present, you will get strong and powerful flavor. Here you definitely will taste well defined but soft and rounded coconut flavor. It is in perfect harmony with amazing fresh cilantro aroma. Spicy red pepper will kick your buds according to how generous you will be on it. Amount of red pepper powder used in this particular recipe will give you a gentle and loving kick, nothing too rude :). All other rich and nutritious ingredients, all together will play one symphony with a "leading solo" of lamb meat. Powerful lamb flavor will be strong and indulging (of course if you like lamb!). If you are not big fan of lamb, go with chicken :) or as I suggested below, with mushrooms (for vegetarians).

    How to Serve/Store

    It's best when it's still hot, right from the oven (or a stove). It keeps in a fridge for a several days.

    Chatti Pathiri 

    For about 6-8 crepes:
    • 1 egg
    • 1.5 cup of whole wheat flour (or regular flour if you inexperience crepe maker)
    • 1+ cup of water (replace half of water with milk if you wish)
    • 1/3 tsp salt
    • 1 tbs sugar
    • coconut oil (or vegetable oil) for cooking

    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
    • 1 tsp black pepper
    • 1 tbs cumin seeds
    • 1 tbs mustard seeds
    • 1 tbs turmeric
    • 1 tbs ground coriander
    • 2 tbs garlic, finely minced (or garlic paste)
    • coconut oil (or vegetable oil) for cooking
    • 2 cups cooked lamb, chopped
    • 1 cup frozen peas
    • 1 cup frozen (or canned) corn
    • 1 tsp salt


    Coconut Sauce:
    • 1 can coconut milk
    • generous amount of fresh cilantro, chopped

    Topping (optional):
    • 2 tbs curry leaves powder (recipe is here)

    - Make crepe batter: using whisk, beat egg, 1 cup of water, salt and sugar just until egg is well mixed into the water. Add all flour and mix well until smooth. Now start adding more water by batches in about 1/4 cup of water each time, stirring well, until you will get smooth batter with a viscosity of a buttermilk.

    - Cook crepes on a 9-inch non-stick frying pan. Each time, before pouring some batter, grease your pan with a small amount of coconut oil, no more than 1/4 of a teaspoon. Right after pouring batter on a skillet, tilt and shake your pan lightly to distribute batter evenly. Cook crepes on a medium low heat. When crepe is dry on a surface and edges start to curl, use long spatula to flip crepe over, cook for about 20 seconds and transfer cooked crepe on a plate. As you cook, pile your crepes on a top of each other.

    - You can make crepes a day or two before. To store them in a fridge, let your crepes to cool down completely, then cover a plate with a plastic wrap and pop in a fridge. They will keep in a fridge up to one week.

    - To prepare filling: cook onion in about 1 tbs coconut oil until onion is soft and translucent. Add all spices and garlic and cook, stirring, for about one minute. Add all remaining ingredients and continue to cook on a medium-low heat, stirring for 5-10 minutes. Set aside. Let it cool a little bit before start assembling your Chatti Pathiri.

    - To assemble Chatti Pathiri: in a heavy iron frying pan, melt 2 tsp of coconut oil. Lay down the first crepe and drizzle it generously with a coconut sauce. For a coconut sauce - just stir coconut milk with a chopped cilantro. Now spoon filling over the crepe, drizzled with sauce. Cover with another crepe. Then - some coconut sauce, then filling and so on. End assembling with a last crepe. Drizzle coconut sauce on a top. Cover tightly with a lid and place pan on a stove top burner on a lowest setting. Let it cook as is for about 1 hour or so. Check occasionally to avoid burning. About 10 minutes before the end of cooking, using spatula, tuck neatly edges of chatti pathiri (it's totally optional, more for fun and to check the doneness of your pathiri, I guess :))

    - When it's cooked, open the lid and let it cool down for a minute or two. Then place a large flat plate over the pan and using a towel to handle pan and plate tightly, flip it swiftly but carefully to transfer your Chattin Pathiri on a plate. You will get your wonderful crust on top!

    - To serve Chatti Pathiri, sprinkle it (optionally) generously with curry leaves powder (recipe is here) and slice it in wedges as you would slice a cake. Enjoy!


    Here starts my unsuccessful try to make a rice crepes...

    rice batter is so smooth and beautiful.. it's so "therapeutic" to stir it :)))))

    here is where trouble started...

    ..and here is where it ended. Voila - homemade rice noodles (now!)

    In a middle of making whole wheat flour crepes. It's before I added water by small batches to get the right consistency such as a buttermilk one.

    Greasing the pan before making crepes..

    First one...

    Start on a cooking of a filling.

    Lamb filling is done.

    Here I'm starting to prepare my vegetarian filling for no-meat Chatti Pathiri (with a vegetarians in a house, I, sometimes mirror up vegetarian dish from a non-vegetarian model).

    Mushrooms for vegetarian filling.

    coconut sauce

    Greasing my heavy pan with a coconut oil before assembling Chatti Pathiri. I was using wonderfully flavorful coconut oil my brother and his wife presented me when they come back from a vacation in Dominican Republic...

    here is mushroom Chatti Pathiri assembling..

    ..almost done
    ..just a little tuck-in action with a spatula.. and it's done

    be careful flipping it over the plate...

    nice and crusty top (formerly being bottom :))

    Green curry leaves powder on a top gives that extra flavor we all adore...

    Thursday, April 10, 2014

    Almond & Honey Sandwich

    If you like light breakfast that would be good match to your morning cup of coffee, this my idea of breakfast sandwich utilizing cinnamon almonds, will certainly draw your attention..

    Blog's Category: International, My Own Fast and Easy, My Staple Food, Perfect Breakfast, USSR-era Recipes


    We change. We develop or degrade (god forbid). So our taste buds, they evolve too. I just remember how weird sounded that staple from my childhood - buttered bread, smudged with a thin layer of honey. Yuck then.. and so yummy now :) That's why I keep offering "weird" food to my kids over and over again in a hope their taste changed. So often it does, and I celebrate mini-winning in a "fight" for better nutrition for my loved ones :)

    Anyway, after roasting generous amount of cinnamon & vanilla almonds (see my previous post), I thought what a wonderful use of these almonds would be to sprinkle them on a top of my usual, quicky butter-honey sandwich (when I have fresh and crusty multi-seed bread, I always sneak a way to enjoy it with butter).

    It was absolutely enjoyable! My son Dany was impressed as he didn't expect this before-school-gulps to be so good. I make them for him as open-face sandwiches. For myself, for my carry-out-to-work purpose and safer transportation, I stuck my two open-face pieces together creating neat sandwich with a scrumptious filling inside.

    What is it?

    It's just a sandwich, but it so good that I have to "record" it here :)

    Taste Description

    Very-very delicious. It's essentially a dessert, my kinds of dessert - moderately sweet, with faint butter flavor, wonderfully fused together light honey and cinnamon aromas; with a crunchy/chewy texture; healthy, enjoyable and satisfying.

    How to Serve/Store

    It's one of the best options for breakfast - fast, nutritious, not heavy but substantial.


    For a 4 open face sandwiches:
    • 4 slices of fresh and crusty multi-seed bread (not toasted)
    • 1 tbs unsalted butter
    • 1 tbs honey (preferably creamy)
    • 2 tbs roasted cinnamon almonds, chopped coarsely
    - Really? Directions? Cmon, you know the drill! :))

    - Don't forget to enjoy!


    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

    Wasabi Almond and Cinnamon Almond

    Make your own roasted almonds - wasabi flavored for your "savory" moments or cinnamon & vanilla for a "sweet-tooth" attacks. It's easy, healthy, much tastier and cheaper than store-bought..

    Blog's Category: Snacks 




    I decided to make roasted almonds my primary snack choice. ...Also I easily get bored by the same food - roasted almonds in this case. ....Also I just come across a large bag of raw almonds by bargain price at my local Costco store. That's why I started strolling through the internet in a search of savory and sweet roasted almonds.
    Another requirement - I want my almonds dry roasted, which means roasting without use of vegetable oils.
    After research, I figured out that I will definitely use egg whites mixed with tiny amount of water or seasoning liquid such as vanilla extract. It helps spices, seasonings or sugar to adhere better. All the rest is a matter of your flavor preferences and your creativity.
    For a first time I decided on two kinds: savory - wasabi flavor and sweet - cinnamon with vanilla.
    I was so happy with results that couldn't wait to post them here ASAP!
    ..And already planning on the next batch, rose water flavored :)
    FYI: right now I'm grazing on a both, wasabi and cinnamon, almonds and realize that it's really hard to tell which one is better - both are so-o-o-o good!

    What is it?

    Roasted wasabi almonds - almonds are moistened with a mix of egg white and a little water, then stirred with a powdered wasabi, a little corn starch and salt and then roasted. I think corn starch helps to create nice coating. Although next time I'll try this recipe without corn starch - we'll see what's going to happen.

    Roasted cinnamon & vanilla almonds - almonds are moistened with a mix of egg white and a vanilla extract, then stirred with sugar, cinnamon and a little salt and then roasted.

    Taste Description

    Wasabi kind is not particularly spicy or salty. They are just right - light mustardy flavor of wasabi equally balanced with very moderate saltiness. If you want a real kick from wasabi - double, at least, amount of wasabi powder or add a pinch or two of cayenne pepper.

    Cinnamon & vanilla almonds will fill your house with amazing aroma - do not turn on your exhaust! The final product is the yummiest cinnamon almonds ever. Boosted with vanilla, cinnamon flavor rules anyway, but has more diffused, transformed, heavenly flavor. 

    How to Serve/Store

    Keep in a closed container, in a kitchen "snacks" cabinet.

    As a generous snack supply for a whole family:
    • 4 cups whole raw almond
    • 1 egg white
    • 1 tbs water
    • 2 tbs wasabi powder
    • 2 tsp course sea salt
    • 2 tsp cornstarch
    - Preheat oven to 235F.

    - Beat egg white and water just until well mixed together. Pour it into your almonds and stir in well using your hands.

    - In a separate small bowl mix wasabi powder, corn starch and salt.

    - Sprinkle wasabi mix on a top of almonds and mix well with your hands.

    - Place silicon mat on a baking sheet and pour almonds on it. Distribute evenly and pop in an oven for at least 1 hour, stirring once in a mid-way. Almonds are ready when almonds inside have a light tan color.

    - When cooled down completely, transfer into container with lid. Enjoy!

    As a generous snack supply for a whole family: 
    • 4 cups whole raw almonds
    • 1 egg white
    • 1 tbs vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp fine salt
    • 1 tbs ground cinnamon
    - Preheat oven to 235F.

    - Beat egg white and vanilla extract just until well mixed together. Pour it into your almonds and stir in well using your hands.

    - In a separate small bowl mix cinnamon, both sugars and salt.

    - Sprinkle cinnamon mix on a top of almonds and mix well with your hands.

    - Place silicon mat on a baking sheet and pour almonds on it. Distribute evenly and pop in an oven for at least 1 hour, stirring once in a mid-way. Almonds are ready when almonds inside have a light tan color.

    - When cooled down completely, transfer into container with lid. Enjoy!



    Asian markets sell huge bags of wasabi powders. Actually it is not wasabi per ce, it's horseradish... and it's exactly what you get (mixed with water) in a most oriental restaurants under the name "wasabi paste". Well.. it's fine with me. Horseradish it is! Equally good!

    egg white beaten with a spoon of water goes into almonds.

    Almonds in a wasabi mix, before going into the oven.

    ..and after.

    egg white + vanilla extract are poured over almonds.

    ..right before going into the oven..

    ..mid-way stirring..