Saturday, October 8, 2016

Honey Cake

Real, homemade, moist and full-bodied honey cake is not just for Jewish Rosh Hashanah! Try to make it and, perhaps, you'll be requested to make it every weekend.

Blog's Category: International, Kid's Favorite, Holidays


This year I've made three honey cakes for Rosh Hashanah - two, topped with almond, and one loaded with raisins per special order from Max, huge lover of raisin. Both kinds turned out exceptionally lovely, but my personal favorite was with raisins. If you like both, almonds and raisins, go for it - use them both.

It is one of those recipes, when you just throw together pantry ingredients and in a 30-40 minutes you have a cake. No chopping, no using too many bowls, no too much mess at all. Isn't it awesome?

Oh, yes, it is healthy. Olive oil, orange, eggs, raisin, almond, whiskey (!), honey.. What can possibly be wrong with this? May be a little too much sugary stuff in it to qualify as healthy dish. But common, it's all about portion control, right?

What is it?

Basic olive oil based cake batter is infused with a power-house ingredients such as honey, orange, whisky, brown sugar and some spices. 

Taste Description

The strangest thing about this recipe is, despite the fact it uses a lot of sweet stuff, honey and sugar, it is not overly sweet. It has beautiful comfortable sweetness, infused with an orange flavors and very subtle hint of a few spices. Whiskey, coffee, honey add a lot of character to the taste and texture of a cake. Raisins, almond are amazing players in this dance of flavors too. Nope, this cake doesn't need any frosting, icing or something like that -  it is moist and flooded with flavors and textures.

How to Serve

Serve cooled down. It will keep for a several days without fridge, sitting on your counter, covered with a plastic wrap.

Honey Cake

For 1 cake:

Dry ingredients:
  • 3.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
Wet ingredients:
  • 1 c vegetable oil
  • 1 c honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c very strong coffee, cold or cooled down to warm
  • 3 tbs whiskey
  • 1 medium orange, zest and juice
Additional ingredients:
  • 1/2 c almond slices
  • or/and 2 cups raisins

- Preheat oven to 350F.

- In two separate bowls mix together dry and wet ingredients.

- Combine wet and dry ingredients together.

- If using raisins, add them now ( no pre-soaking or rinsing needed) and stir.

- If using silicon forms, place form on a baking sheet first and then pour batter into a form. If not using silicon forms, use baking parchment paper for a bottom of your baking form and grease (oil) form as well.

- If using, sprinkle some almond flakes on top.

- Bake cake for 40-60 minutes, depending on a form you use. It is baked usually faster in a wider form. 

- It's done when top is dark-brown and wooden toothpick (or bamboo skewer) comes out dry. Enjoy!

In Pictures

Oops, I didn't make picture when I was adding raisins. Add them now, if using.

This cake was without raisins, but with almonds on top.

This one was with a lot of (and I mean it!) raisins.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Orange Pork Pilaf

You can't go wrong with a convenience of one-meal dish like this. Also Orange Pork Pilaf is not just convenient choice for your daily meals. It's delicious, full of flavors treat for a whole family.

Blog's Category: Healthy, My Own Fast and Easy, My Staple Food


As a main provider of everyday meals for my family, I begun to appreciate pilaf a long time ago. It is such a convenient and versatile type of food. Cooked on weekend, it can be stretched through whole week as a handy, ready to eat meal. There are tons of recipes for a pilaf. Almost every nationality has its own version of it. This time I've made my own version of pilaf and was very pleased with the result.

If there is orange chicken, why not to cook orange pork... pilaf? As, in my mind, it meant to be a one-dish-meal type recipe, I included a whole lot of vegetables, mostly carrots and onion. If you are not a big fan of cooked carrot, then no worries, in this recipe cooked carrot looses its natural somewhat weird flavor, acquiring subtle fruity aroma from orange.

What is it?

Added to a pot in a certain order, onion, carrots, pork, orange juice, orange zest, rice and olive oil are cooked together. Along with some well balanced seasoning, it creates Orange Pork Pilaf.

Taste Description

Pilaf has mild, but nice, multilayered flavors - orange and garlic give away its powerful aromas to vegetables, pork and rice. Great flavors of all ingredients are merged together, creating beautiful bouquet. Sweetness of onion and carrots play nicely with fruity acidity of orange and good amount of black pepper. Texture of perfectly cooked rice, soft bits of almost disintegrated vegetables and tender pieces of pork are ideal vessel for all these flavors.

How to Serve

Serve hot or warm. Pilaf will keep in a fridge for about a week - so make plenty of it ;).


- If you don't mind to make your pilaf really orange-y, add one more orange, zest and juice. Just do not forget to adjust water accordingly.

- I used regular pot for pilaf. Although a dutch oven is the best. But remember, not having the one, is not an excuse...

Orange Pork Pilaf

  • 3 cups lean pork, cut in small bite size pieces
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 5 large carrots, coarsely grated
  • 3 cups of rice, rinsed well
  • 1 large orange, zest and juice
  • 2/3 cup of olive oil
  • 20 garlic cloves, pilled, whole, not chopped
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups of hot water
- Before starting cooking, make sure all ingredients are prepared - chopped, grated, zested, juiced, rinsed. etc.

- In a large pot, in olive oil, cook onion for 2 minutes, stirring. Then add pork, continue to cook, stirring, for about 7 minutes.

- Add all whole garlic cloves and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until carrot is cooked, juices evaporated and meat just starts to brown.  It will take about 10 minutes. Turn heat down if it starts to burn on a bottom. 

- Add rice, orange juice, orange zest, water, salt and pepper. Stir a few times. Cover tightly with a lid. Turn heat to a lowest possible setting and let it cook for 15 minutes. Do not open a lid!

- Turn of the heat and let pot sit on a stove for 15 more minutes without opening a lid.

- Now open a lid, stir once, serve with a fresh herbs on top or chopped green onion. Enjoy!

In Pictures

This time I'm experimenting - using multicolored carrots (yellow, dark-red and regular). Not impressed. Use regular carrots, they are the best. 

I always use whole garlic cloves for pilaf. In this case, while giving away its aroma to a whole dish, garlic cloves can still be enjoyed as small soft bits of pure flavor. Sometimes I don't even peel them, as I was taught to cook Kirgizian pilaf. Then, it keeps roasted garlic aroma even better - you eat those, picking from a plate, squeezing awesome roasted garlic flesh with your teeth :)

It seems like whole pot is taken over by carrots. No worry, in a minute, it will cook down significantly.

I always use whatever rice I have on hands. This time it was basmati rice. Often it's jasmine rice. Although the best would be short-grained rice similar to arborio.