A delicious Thai dinner is never very far away in our house. The most recent one was a Thai Coconut Curry Chicken with Petit Peas that I cooked in 1 hr. When the weather is still a little chilly, I crave warm, mildly spicy flavors. The easiest is our coconut curry which can be made with chicken, fish, and shellfish. When we make it, our house always fills with the aroma of lemongrass and coconut.

Coconut Curry Chicken & Petit Peas

The added bonus is that we get to introduce at least the smells of lemongrass, ginger and coconut to our little culinary passenger. Sophia loves to smell new things; she brings her little nose to the food and takes a deep, deep breath. Whether this works or not, we are not sure. We are doing our best to get her used to the idea of experiencing new things.

Cookery

A welcome visit from the in-laws provided me with ample opportunity to indulge in my much-forgotten past-time: BAKING.

While they took Sophia for a mid-afternoon walk/nap, I jumped into action trying a new banana cake recipe with cream cheese frosting. I have made plenty of banana breads in my life, but it is simply too hard to pass up an opportunity to make cream cheese frosting!

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

As imagined and expected, the result was moist, decadent and just absolutely devine without being cloyingly sweet and too rich like many of our usual go-to chocolate concoctions often are.

Cookery Dessert

My parents in-law visited with us yesterday. We were looking forward to have two extra pairs of helpings hands with Sophia and maybe even garden a little. Although very sunny, the weather was still too chilly and instead we opted to do taxes (my husband) and bake (me). Before the baking, there was lunch to be made and I decided to continue paying homage to all the greenery with Zucchini Pancakes with Garlic Creme Fraiche. The pancakes take 15 minutes to make and have just five ingredients. They taste light, refreshing and perfect for a Sunday lunch which I like to have without too much fuss or work.

Zucchini Pancakes with Garlic Creme Fraiche

But for those who need something a little more substantial, there was Capered Tuna Salad. This is not your typical, heavy tuna salad! I use salty, briny capers to interject some of that missing salty flavor that somehow magically go missing from supermarket canned tuna.

Capered Tuna Salad

Finally, there was Grilled Chicken Sausage, Onion and Peppers.

Grilled Peppers & Onions

Odd combination it may seem, but it was a truly delicious and satisfying the brunch/lunch.

Lastly, credit is given where it is due: the hubby did the grilling and there is nothing that can substitute the flavor a charcoal grill imparts!

Do you have a favorite dish that you make for brunch? Share your ideas here.

Grilled Sausage, Onion & Peppers

Cookery

Spring is here and with it are unseasonably warm weather, spring flowers, greenery and locally grown produce. I am a huge fan of fast and fresh dinners and have many recipes that help me put a light and refreshing meal on the table in under 30 minutes. Quinoa with herbs is a healthy, low-carb, high protein side dish that I make in 15 minutes. I would typically call it Herbed Quinoa but my after happily chowing down on it today, my husband proclaimed “Don’t you use herb as a verb!.”

Herbed Quinoa

 

Cookery FriendsFamily

Until now, little Sophia’s adventures with food have not expanded beyond apple and prune sauce, pea, carrot, potato and sweet potato puree and of course mashed banana. It is hard to believe that a little person will have preferences and likes but it seems that banana and apple are clear favorites.

A meal, however, is not gourmet unless it is prepared with care, passion, elaborate techniques and flavors. We are beginning to expose Sophia to gourmet, richly flavored food early and are hoping to avoid protests in ethnic locales later on. To that end, we have augmented plain old apple sauce with cinnamon. Cinnamon is a warm, rich spice that manages to permeate the house even when used in small quantities. Apple and cinnamon are an especially great combination and we were unsurprised when Sophia happily dove into her dinner. A word of caution: cinnamon is a significant allergen, and I would advise that you use a stick instead of powdered cinnamon when making apple sauce and leave it in for just a few minutes at first to make sure your child does not have a reaction.

 

Tiny Tastebuds

Like most new parents, I could not wait until I could give real food to little Miss S. We finally got the go-ahead from our pediatrician to start solids when our daughter was 5 months old. Until recently, Sophia has liked everything. We’ve offered her oatmeal cereal, prune, apple, and banana. I could sense that our luck was about to change when we offered carrot, potato and peas. Just today, I prepared Mushy Peas and being true to my own conviction (presentation matters),  I presented them in a clear, shiny dish our Bubbie gave us.

Mommy's Famous Mushy Peas

Sophia tried a few spoonfuls and made it clear she was not impressed. She made a face, pursed her little lips and turned her head. Desperation took over me and I did what I promised myself I wouldn’t do: offered something else. I sprung into action grating a little bit of banana.

Mashed Banana

The soft, sweet, billowy banana went over with baby claps, smiles and lots of lip smacking. A quiet sense of panic took over me as I was spooning banana into our daughter’s mouth: am I destined to become one of those parents who is a short order cook at home?

Tiny Tastebuds

My husband and I bought our house last May when I was very pregnant. I spent the summer helping (supervising, really) updates to the inside. Meanwhile, many of our landscaping projects stood still. Now that spring is here, we have decided to make a significant effort on our front yard. Besides, I have grand plans to maintain a small vegetable garden from which our little girl will experience her many culinary firsts.

I must admit, while I love a beautiful yard and enjoy plucking a fresh tomato from a vegetable garden, I am not much of a gardener. I don’t enjoy playing with dirt and do not possess a green thumb. So if you cannot or do not want to take care of something, bring in someone who can and is willing.

We asked my parents for help and used our little five and a half month old daughter as ploy. The mission was “simple”: turn two ponds into flower beds and fence in a vegetable garden. While the dad and hubby were out excavating ponds and buying tons of soil and such at the local hardware store, I cooked away. The weekend menu took us to India and Asia. We started off with Chicken Tikka Masala for dinner on Friday.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Saturday night we moved swiftly east to Japan with Harumi Kurihara’s Simmered Pork Belly and a refreshing cucumber and wakame salad.

Simmered Pork Belly

The smell of sake and ginger permeated the kitchen on Friday night as the pork belly simmered.

Cucumber and Wakame Salad

The meal was satiating and satisfying — a welcome respite from a long day of work for everyone. Our feasting continued into lunch today when I sauteed some shiitake mushrooms with onions until golden, brown, delicious and oh so aromatic. I sandwiched the mushroom and onion mixture between two slices of rustic Italian bread and a healthy layer of shredded Gruyere. The sandwiches were grilled in a pan, weighted down with a spatula until golden, brown, and oozing with cheese.

Grilled Cheese

A crisp and tangy arugula salad with sherry vinaigrette was a perfect compliment cutting through the richness of the grilled cheese. Last, but not least and in my opinion never to be omitted, is desert! My mom was a champ and helped make peanut butter sandwich cookies with honey-cinnamon frosting.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

I find it very difficult to resist a quick trip to the kitchen for a cookie. Mom always taught me not to spoil my apetite for dinner which is Shrimp in Thai Curry. I suppose I could have taken a picture of today’s dinner and posted everything tomorrow, but patience is a virtue I work towards. Besides, who knows, maybe one of my readers will be so impressed with the food that they too will volunteer to work for food.

Cookery FriendsFamily

When asked, most people will say that they very much enjoy eating out at restaurants. There are of course many reasons for this including the fact that you are served on, do not have to do the dishes, and the food tastes good (usually). A significant reason why restaurant food is sometimes (or more often than not) described as superior to home cooking is appearance. After all, we eat with our eyes first.

So today I am showing off some of my mom’s creations. There are few more welcoming sites (besides anything chocolate) than these which greeted us when we went home for a brief visit two weeks ago.

Mom's Cabbage Pie
Mom's Cabbage Pie
Mom's Cherry Pierogies

 

Mom's Cooking

If you’ve stumbled on this blog and read the About page, you may wonder how and why anyone would become so passionate as to share their stories on a blog.

My passion for travel, for good food was instilled many, many years ago and is continually reinforced by my own family. I grew up in the former Soviet Union, in a family where warm, sweet aromas were always wafting out of my mother’s kitchen. My mother learned her craft of cookery from my grandmother with whom my sister and I spent a majority of every summer.

My family traveled around a fair bit and while I was born in Ukraine, I spent the first nine years of my life in Baku, Azerbaijan. My mother cooks predominately Russian food but has an excellent handle on Azerbaijani/Middle Eastern dishes such as Dolma, Shish Kebab, Qutab, Dovga, Shirin Plov and many others.

My sister and I were never picky eaters. Perhaps, this is because the food was always so good or perhaps because we connected food with being together as a family. Nevertheless, I aspire to do the same for my daughter and will document my trials and tribulations here.

General