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"Kaziuko Muge" (Little Casimir’s Fair)

Those of you who are Lithuanian (and maybe Polish or Russian or Latvian) might know what "Kaziuko Muge" is. For those of you who is not aware I will try to describe it. Well it is a Lithuanian fair where lots of people come together on the street and sell hand made stuff like jewelery, crafts, food and many other things. Others come just to buy (like me!). The fair is traditionally held on the Sunday nearest to St. Casimir's Day, March 4, the day Saint Casimir died. I know I am writing about this now when it is almost April, but I have been lucky this year. I recently went to Lithuania for my mums birthday (11th of March) and realized that the Fair have been moved forward to 12th-13th of March. I got excited of course and grabbed a bunch of friends (including my mum) and made my way to the Laisves Aleja (Freedom Alley) where "Kaziuko Muge" takes place. You won't believe how many things I bought! First I got attracted by two wooden angels that you can see above (I have a thing for angels ;)). I also found the earnings with red stones in the middle very pretty (red is one of my favorite colors) displayed bellow....
On top of this I bought 1kg of wool tread... Call me crazy, but I do love knitting! The only thing is that I can't find time for this indulge :(. I got so many unfinished knitting projects! Once I was knitting gloves for my dad (birthday present) and I did not finish it, but I did write a card with a promise to finish.... Three years later he still  sometimes shows me the card with the promise (he uses that card as his book-marker) and the gloves are still not finished, but they are still somewhere and I still can promise that it will be completed!.... one day... :/
At the fair some elderly was selling a hand made soap and I always wanted to learn how to make my own soap, but until that happens I bought the whole lot... seven blocks :/...Well they did smell nice and looked all pretty like cakes....and I was too greedy to share it with my friend Vicki :(

And finally, I bought herbs. Most of them are wild flowers, weeds and things that grow unwanted everywhere. Well you know... nettle for instance :) I have never seen anybody sowing nettle seed, nettle just comes uninvited whether you want it or not.  But, before you get all angry with the nettle I have to say: nettle has good qualities! Like people, nettle is not perfect, but definitely wants to be friendly. Nettle tea fights coughs, tuberculosis and asthma; It also counters arthritis, rheumatism, tendonitis and other disorders of the muscles and joints; Nettle tea combats a variety of intestinal disorders; Nettle tea fights skin problems; Nettle tea fights allergies like eczema, and hay fever. And many many more things :)

Finally I would just like to say that "Kaziuko Muge" is lots of fun and is a must visit event when you are in Lithuania! And you can always negotiate prices there! Well that's the part I find most fun! :)

Rasa
2

The moment of Desperate Housewives

I don’t know about you but I am a big fan of the American sitcom “Desperate Housewives”. In fact that's the only TV program I watch! Anyway, there is one part I find really funny where Bree (the one that has her own catering business) tried to steal the recipe from Katherine (one of her neighbors in Wisteria Lane). It all started when “the girls” (other neighbours) liked Katherine's lemon meringue pie better than Bree’s. Bree of course gets jealous (as you may all know she likes to be the best in baking). Initially she asks for the recipe, but to my surprise Katherine refuses! So Bree goes for even more shocking action and tries to steal it by breaking into the the Katherine’s house.... I always wonder why in Wisteria Lane people don’t lock their door? Is this what they do in USA? That surely would not work in London if you can imagine!

Anyway, few weeks ago I had a similar situation. My best friend Vicki’s birthday was coming up and I was looking for a good cake recipe she would really like. I knew Vicki loves cheesecakes, chocolate, coffee and alcohol (sometimes I am even concerned that she might be an alcoholic... ha ha, only joking ;-)). Anyway, I remembered that she really liked the cake that one girl (her name is Jada) from my Church made . It was a cake made of cookies, cream and of course alcohol! I decided to ask Jada for the recipe as I knew she got it from her aunt. And guess what, Jada told me that her aunt does not want to give that recipe away!!!  I was gobsmacked! How can this be? At that point I felt exactly like Bree felt, I finally could relate and understand her motivations to commit her “crime”. I bet if Jada’s aunt was living in the setting of Wisteria Lane and especially if she did not lock her house door, I would be definitely tempted to steal that recipe! Never mind,  I have realized that I still live in London and I absolutely have no idea where Jada’s aunt lives. So I had to come up with more civilized option. I decided to create a recipe from my own memory of how that desert tasted. I can only say that the cake came out successful and it managed to generate me some praising (that I always love!).  And... Jada, if you are reading this, I am definitely not upset. I am actually really proud of you that you managed to keep the promise you gave to your aunt :)

VICKI'S BIRTHDAY CAKE

1 can coconut milk (400ml)
1tsp icing sugar (if coconut milk is not creamy)
40g creamed coconut (if coconut milk is not creamy)
200ml coconut flavor rum (otherwise known as "Malibu")
640g cookies (I prefer all butter ones!)
300ml double cream
tiny bit of dark chocolate for decoration

1. Mix coconut milk with the rum.
First time I made this cake ( when testing the ingredients) I bought coconut milk that was creamy and thick. but when I was making it second time (for the actual birthday) I bought different brand ("Island Sun") and it came runny and not as sweet as previous brand. I was initially panicking, but quickly fixed it with a little bit of icing sugar (I find that icing sugar blends easier) and creamed coconut (luckily I had it in my cupboard!). I think it came out as good as the first time!
2. Dip cookies in badges and let it soak in rum and coconut milk mix for a little but no longer than 3min (otherwise it will turn into porridge!)
3. Line all soaked cookies into the spring form.
4. Whip double cream and cover cookies with it (Just don't whip it too much as then it is difficult for it to get through the cookies' gaps). I Don't think Jada put double cream in her cake but I did it so my cake looks pretty :D
5. Decorate it with flaked chocolate (just take the bit of plain dark chocolate and run knife edge trough it. At least that's the way I find the easiest to flake the chocolate.
6. Before enjoying keep it in the fridge for at least one night (Don't be tempted to put into freezer).

Whats your favourite cake?

Rasa :)

5

New health drink that I would love to succeed :)

I just came back from IFE Food and Drink Exhibition where I had such a great time! It was overwhelming as I not only had a opportunity to try different foods but also to see new products that are about to come onto the market (to the shops to be available for us to buy and enjoy).

The winner in my mind is this drink called "Wood Juice Birch" (made from Birch sap). The reason why I can appreciate it is because I know the truth value of it as traditionally in Lithuania (in old days) we used to collect tree "sap" (in Lithuania we call it "sula") for many health benefits (my grandma could make you the whole list for you). It's only available in spring as the water streams (sap) starts traveling trough the tree after heavy winter, therefore this would not work in UK (simply because there is not enough of snow during winter).

Here is the description on the bottle: "From centuries Birch was seen as very beneficial for human health. It was used to help eliminating extensive water from organism and get rid of body toxins. It was recognized by great nutrition and health values. Birch sap is 100% vegetal juice collected on early spring directly from the trees located in untouched nature where no industrial facilities are around...."

Rasa :)

1

A taste of Eastern Europe… hmmm

The other day me and my friend Vicki have been visiting some good friends who just had a baby girl (very quite one by the way!). I offered to cook as I realized that they might be already busy with hosting (and the baby of course). As I wanted to cook something we traditionally eat in Lithuania I decided to go with goulash. I know it may not be exactly Lithuanian (originally Hungarian), but we cook that a lot as it is so warming for the cold weather (it's like a comfort food for me). There are soooo many versions of goulash as a soup (traditionally) or a stew with many vegetables or just with onion. But I must say that my favorite is with apples as it gives such a zest to it! Paprika stays as the vital ingredient of course but you can change traditionally used beef with turkey if you like. Here is my version of goulash. I hope you enjoy it ;)

WARMING GOULASH

500g beef (diced)
2 onions
2 carrots
1 red pepper (or which ever colour you prefer)
2 apples
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp tomato puree
Salt, pepper
400ml stock (I like chicken stock)
25g butter
1tbls flour
150g cream fraiche (and more if you love it)
fresh parsley

1. Heat up a large pan and fry the beef (in batches) in a little oil (I try not to use any oil as I have this belief that oil turns toxic when heated, instead I splash some water over it to stop beef pieces from sticking to the pan).
2. Remove and put aside fried beef and in the same pan (where the beef released its fats and juices) fry diced onions, shredded carrots, sliced pepper and chopped apple until golden brown (again, I use no oil as the beef juices should keep it from burning). Add paprika, tomato puree, pepper and salt to taste.
3. Return beef pieces to pan and add the stock. Bring it to boil, reduce the heat and relax (but watch out for hungry people who keeps sneaking in and asking "Is it ready yet?", "When is it going to be ready? and so on). This simmering goes on for at least an hour. Only when the beef is ready (means it is soft, not chewy) - the goulash is ready for the next step.
4. The perfect goulash needs to be thickened (in England I noticed the corn flour is used for that, but in Lithuania we just use normal wheat flour). So in separate small frying pan melt butter and fry wheat flour on the low heat (keep whisking while adding flour until it becomes like a paste). Pour the mixture into the goulash pan and turn off the heat.
5. The last bit of course is to taste it if all the flavors are combined well (add salt if needed). Then mix in cream fraiche and fresh parsley. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Gero Apetito (or Enjoy your meal in eng.)

Rasa :)

2

Forget love – I would rather fall in chocolate!!

Its a Valentines day today and if you have not met your Mr right (or Miss right) there is always time for chocolate day! I am big chocoholic myself and this is my favorite recipe for chocolate brownie (my friends love this too, just try to leave it unattended and it will be gone before you notice it). Just whatever you do don't make the same mistake I do: don't bake it only for yourself (it is selfish and can be really unhealthy)

CHOCOLATE BROWNIE

Ingredients: 200g dark chocolate
250g butter
3 eggs
200g sugar
150g flour (Very important: don't put more flour then it is written here)
2tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
a pinch of salt
a pinch of baking powder
100g of caramel (its not sold in UK unless you go to Lithuanian shop. To make the caramel simply take a can of condensed milk and boil it for 3 hours WHILE IN THE CAN)
50g or more of chosen nuts (I used walnuts)

1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a square shape form (roasting tin is perfectly fine) with greaseproof paper.
2. Melt chocolate and butter. Best way to do it is to place glass/metal bowl (with pieces of chocolate and butter in it of course) over boiling water and watch until becomes chocolaty cream... hmmm! Make sure that the bowl bottom does not touch the water
3. In separate bowl whisk egg with sugar. Don't overdo it!
4. While stirring the chocolate mixture add the eggs, flour, cocoa powder, salt and the baking powder.
5. Pour the whole mixture into lined and ready baking form
5. Now it's the fun part! Imagine you are Jackson Pollock and start "decorating" the brownie by trowing in caramel chunks and nuts on the top of chocolate mixture.
6. Press nuts and Caramel lightly into the Chocolate dream so it sinks in a little. Bake it for around 25min (I beg you, please don't over bake it as I have done in the past. Not a very pleasant result). Enjoy and eat it quick before everyone else gets to it. Oh, and don't forget to keep it overnight in the fridge before that!

Happy Valentines Day!

Rasa xox

6

Sometimes bad habits turn out to be good….

I will make a confession, I got a bad habit... I sometimes like to read over people's shoulders while I am on the train. As soon as I see an interesting article I start reading it and I even get angry when they turn the page (once somebody gave me their magazine after noticing I was reading it!!).  I know, its quite rude, but I can't help when I am bored. Can you relate?
The other day the train was really crowded and somebody was reading a "stylist"(I can't express how much I like that magazine and for those who don't know: it is free and runs out really quickly once it is published). I was looking over the reader's shoulder and I saw a picture of a cheesecake and as I was still on detox (read my previous post) I could feel saliva in my mouth. It was an interesting one, with the crumble! I was trying to get closer to the "stylist" reader to get the ingredients, but she did what everybody does and turned the page.... Luckily! Somebody at work was reading the same issue of "stylist" so I grabbed it like a mad woman and started looking for the page where the recipe was and I found it! Never mind my workmates as they are already used to me being mad. Anyway, here is the famous recipe which I have definitely tried baking. I have changed few bits as in ingredients they tried to promote "Bonne Maman" brand and I believe it is fine without it. I also find that it has goat cheese and I know that not everybody like it's scent (although it does make the cake taste lovely and unique) therefore it's allowed to be replaced by same amount of soft cheese. I hope you enjoy it as my friends did!

BERRY CRUMBLE CHEESECAKE

Ingredients:  75g butter
200g shortbread biscuits (crushed or processed as they are a bit stiff)
150g goat's cheese
450g full fat cheese
4 eggs
zest and juice of one orange
100g of caster sugar
75ml cream fraiche
8tbsp strawberry jam
150g summer berries (I bought my frozen as not in season at this moment)
40g plain flour
25g of oat flakes
Icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a 20cm deep, loose based, spring-form tin with greaseproof paper.
2. To make a base melt 50g butter and stir in the crushed shortbread biscuits. Press this mixture over the base of the tin and set aside.
3. Beat together the cheeses, eggs, orange zest and 75g sugar with the cream fraiche. Spoon onto the base and bake for 1hour 15mins.
4. Meanwhile prepare berries mixture. Put the jam in a small saucepan with 50ml of orange juice and stir over a low heat. Bring to the boil and bubble gently for 5 minutes. Add the berries (defrost it first if you bought frozen) and leave it to cool.
5. After 1hour 15mins of baking cover the cheesecake with the berries mixture and return to the oven for further 1hr 15mins.
6. Meanwhile prepare the crumble. Rub the remaining butter and the caster sugar into the flour. Stir in the oat flakes and spread out on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15mins. Leave to cool, then brake it to the crumbs.
7. After cheesecake is completely baked and firm in the center sprinkle on the crumble mixture, leave it to cool and dust with icing sugar.

Enjoy

Rasa :)

1

Who said that I can’t eat cheesecake while detoxing???!!!

It's the New Year again and to me that associates with new resolutions, new decisions, new plans and of course new diet with the promise that from now on I will be eating healthily in the smaller amounts (quitting cakes would be just too much!).  Well... this year I am trying DETOXING (I know, it's not great time to start blog about food when I am detoxing, but I will try...). My best friend Vicki loughs at my decision to detox as she recommends that I should be doing all year round (eating in moderation, not detoxing). But I can only say this, after eating all this food during Christmas and New Year I need to prepare mentally to eat less... Anyway, I read that to detox you need at least to cut on four main ingredients: alcohol (no problem, I don't drink that much), coffee (I drink it occasionally in very milky version), sugar (ouch!!), Saturated fat (that pretty much comes together with sugar in cakes!). So ever since I have started to "detox", I have been trying to satisfy my sweet tooth with natural sugars and somehow fruits doesn't do it.... And guess what! The other day while shopping at the health shop I have came across a recipe for Apricot and Banana Cheesecake without sugar (from the book called "Cooking Without"). Interesting, how can that be!? And I tried it... it may not be the sweetest thing, but at least I can say: "I am detoxing and I can eat cheesecake". Try it for yourself ;)

APRICOT AND BANANA CHEESECAKE (makes 4 small tall glasses or 2 big sundae glasses)

Base: 45g haselnuts
30g desiccated coconut
1 rice cake
Topping: 55g dried apricots
1 chopped banana
290g firm silken tofu (you definitely don't need to go to health shop for that, I found mine in Sainsbury's even though the staff there did not know they were selling it! It's where they keep cupboard ingredients etc)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp grated lemon

1. First, make the base. Toast the hazelnuts in and hazelnuts separately in oven until golden brown. Allow to cool then rub the skins off the hazelnuts.
2. Place all the base ingredients into a food processor until the nuts are chopped properly. Remove from the processor
3.To make the topping cut the apricots into small pieces and simmer in a small amount of water until soft then drain.
4. Process the apricots, banana, tofu, cinnamon and lemon rind until smooth
5. To assemble apply base first then the topping (you can make more layers if you are on the creative mood).

Happy detoxing ;)

Rasa xo

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