Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Zucchini Pizza Boats

Just now we have an overabundance of zucchini in our garden and due to that I have gone on a wild hunt for new recipes to try.

I came upon this one last night and whipped it up today. Personally I liked it very much. My zucchini avoidance club (AKA as my 3 kids) said it was ok, and so continues my search to sneak zucchini into their meals as often as I can to use up my bountiful harvest.

Click on the photo to open the link for the recipe. Thanks to Cooking Classy!

  Zucchini Pizza Boats | Cooking Classy

Monday, August 17, 2015

Chicken Spring Rolls

I love spring rolls and this is the best recipe I have used for chicken spring rolls.They are fairly easy to make and a few extra pairs of hands make the rolls of them quick. My 7 year old boy loved helping out! They make a great party food and kids love them! 

Chinese Spring Roll Recipe with Chicken

Chocolaterie in Tallin

Last week I had the chance to explore Old Tallin for a day.

For me a perfect day will include a stop at some charming cafe for some good coffee or cake and perhaps a bit of shopping or at least some fantastic window shopping.

My day in Tallin was perfect in that it included all of these things, and I did them with my 5 year old daughter.

We started exploring Old Tallin in the late morning and roamed about to our hearts content. We stumbled upon a little street with a cafe that had lots of tables outside.

The atmosphere was so romantic with the vines growing over the tables and the interior of the cafe was so charming and old fashioned or Bohemian.

I was delighted by the feeling of the place both inside and out. So different from all the other cafes I had peeked into.

Then I saw the cakes and asked about them and knew I just could not leave without tasting something because they were so different than in other cafes.

The cake was served large plate, beautifully adorned and such a generous slice. YUM! As a baker I was tantalized by the flavors and fillings that were unlike what I have made and tasted elsewhere. I only wish I had photographed the name of the cake. . . because the name of it slipped my mind. It was delicious!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cake Contest - Latvijas Gardaka Kuka

To those of you who so faithfully supported me with your daily votes, and many kinds thoughts. Thank you for believing in me!  And for those of you who have wanted to follow up and know how the contest went here is my LONG and detailed summary with photos :) 

I was very nervous in the days leading up to the contest- knowing I had very little time to devote to my cake planning due to the wedding cake I had to finish in order for me to even participate. I was on a strict deadline to complete the wedding cake by Friday evening so that I would be able to go to the contest Saturday morning and participate there and then come home and in the evening deliver the wedding cake. 

Saturday morning I was so nervous I could  not even eat and headed to Valmiera ( a 2 hour drive one direction) for the competition with my friend along. At least our chatting helped ease my nerves on the drive there. 

We arrived, got my stuff taken to the tent and waited for the other participates to arrive. The day was already hot- probably about 90 degrees F. and inside the tent it was hotter. 

I did all my prepping, was informed of the days schedule and tried to decide when to remove my butter from the fridge so that it would be soft, but not squishy. I cut it into the glass bowl I had along and immediately it started melting along the sides of bowl- proving that the heat of the tent had so warmed my bowls that they could melt COLD butter. I then placed both of my glass bowls and butter in the fridge to chill. 

The contest started with a nice introduction and we each had to tell why our cake was the best. I had been so nervous to get up and talk in front of everyone- but my neighbor here in the orange dress was also nervous and we chatted and got to know one another a bit. 

Once the contest started, we were sweating with the heat of the 90 + degree weather inside the tent, and constantly being photographed and filmed and working our fastest while being bombarded with questions by the jury. 

Breaking the caramelized sugar. My amber. . . 

 Answering questions. 

Because of the heat several of us had problems with our cakes. My whipped cream filling separated, making it impossible for me to decorate with it as planned. I was thankful I didn't have any more problems than I did- though because of the distance and heat I was not able to assemble my cake ahead of time which resulted in it being very hard to cut. 

 My neighbor was one of the ones who went on to advance to the next level with her beer chocolate cake (which supported the local city festival). 

It was great fun participating, and a delight to get to know some other bakers. I wish those who advanced to do their best. 

I was not disappointed not to have advanced because I knew this was not my best work- I submitted this recipe because it was different and unusual and I knew full well that it was not a good cake for clarity and precision- but the taste is amazing! 

That being said I was so relieved when the whole thing was over because of the stress, the horrible heat and extreme cake decorating conditions. 

I hope the next contest I am is in a nice cold/comfortable setting where we don't have to battle with the heat melting our fillings. 

I got to redeem myself in the evening with my well received and very tasty wedding cake which was very quickly devoured.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Dill = Dilles

Dill it such a part of Latvian cuisine that I sometime forget that it is not used in my homeland of America as often as here.

I had some American girls visiting and we were making cold soup and the girls commented on how they didn't know how to chop the dill- what to do with the stems, etc because it wasn't used in the States.

Growing up in America we used dried dill seeds when canning pickles and some dried dill weed on potatoes- but my Dad is American-Latvian, so perhaps that was the Latvian influence coming out.

As for us dill is a part of nearly every cucumber salad we make in summer. We love fresh garden cut cucumbers sliced with some fresh dill, a bit of salt and pepper and sour cream. YUMMY!

They even add dill and cucumbers for a nice refreshing water here- I was a bit skeptical when we ordered it in the cafe- but WOW- it was refreshing, and summery.

So here are my recommendation for using dill:

  • use it as a garnish for potatoes (they do it with chives and sometimes parsley here- it is lovely and delicious). 
  • use it in chopped in salads and soups 
  • use if in pickles (the more the better- use the heads, stems, leaves, etc). 
  • use it in a summery water combo with cucumber
  • use it in dips- you can make a nice dill and herb dip by blending sour cream, garlic and herbs in the blender. This is great with fresh veges and baked potatoes. 

So where do you use dill? 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Silver Pink Wedding Cake

Spring and summer are the wedding season and I had my first order of the season:

Cake or 60 people (top layer no included in this- so that the couple can save it for themselves)

Bottom layer- chocolate cake, cherry filling, custard filling

Middle layer- chocolate cake- meringue- chocolate ganache,

Top layer- German chocolate

Weight- 11 kg (- top layer)

 Price - 10 eiro/kg + decorations

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Spaghetti and Meatballs

When I want spaghettig and meatballs or a comfort food from home, this is the recipe I always turn to. I love the meatballs and the sauce and with Rachel Ray's recipe is great- with a few of my own tweaks. After watching Lady and the Tramp my boy wa pestering me for spaghetti and meatballs so we made a double portion of this! Enjoy:)

Meatballs: (single portion)

1 1/4 pounds ground beef
2. t. worcestershire sauce
1 egg ( I used 3 for a double batch)
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic- chopped
salt and pepper


Mix all ingredients together and form balls. Place on cookie sheet and bake 10-12 min. until no longer pink.

2 T. oil
4 cloves garlic- finely grated
1 onion finely chopped
1 cup beef broth
1 large can crushed tomatoes - 28 oz. 
 2 T. dried basil 
2-3 T. red wine
1 small grated zuchini (optional- I used it because I wanted a thicker sauce)

Note: When I am making a double batch depending on the consistency I also add a small can of tomato paste for a thicker sauce). 


Saute onions, zuchini and garlic. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until well blended and alcohol has evaporated. If your tomatoes are too large you can blend this with a hand blender for a more smooth sauce. Add the meatballs and continue to simmer a bit until flavors marry. 

Serve over prepared noodles.