Simple advice for a better life.

Ukrainian Walnut TorteUkrainians pride themselves on baking the best tortes, and Walnut Torte is one of the most traditional ones.

I was a lucky recipient of this torte from my daughter’s kitchen, for this year’s birthday.

She found this particular recipe on Katya’s Homepage, a few years ago, but did not have a chance to test it, until this year.  Lucky me!!

Tortes require time and patience, as you can see from reviewing this recipe, but it is a labor of love, and well worth the effort.

This torte was absolutely delicious, and I am very proud of my daughter, as she did a beautiful job baking, and decorating it, for my special day.

I encourage you to give it a try, and you will love as well.

Ukrainian Walnut Torte - serving piece

Torte Ingredients:

  • 10 oz. walnuts, finely ground
  • 3 Tbs. walnuts, chopped
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 12 large eggs, separated
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Mocha Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 6 cups confectioner sugar, sifted
  • ¾ cup strongly brewed coffee
  • 1 ½ Tbs. coffee liqueur (optional)

Coffee Cream Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. instant-coffee granules
  • ¼ cup confectioner sugar, sifted

Torte Directions:

  1. Combine the ground walnuts, flour, cornstarch, and baking powder.
  2. Set aside
  3. In a large bowl, place the egg whites and salt.
  4. Beat to stiff peaks, and set aside.
  5. In another large bowl, place the egg yolks and beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the granulated sugar and continue mixing for about 5 minutes, until the mixture becomes thick and fluffy.
  7. Mix in 2 tsp. vanilla, and set aside
  8. Sprinkle the walnut mixture over the yolk mixture.
  9. Fold in the egg whites, until combined.
  10. Prepare two round cake pans by lining the bottom with a circle cut out from parchment paper.
  11. Grease the parchment paper bottom and the sides of the cake pans.
  12. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  13. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans.
  14. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake centers spring back to touch, or do the toothpick test, and the toothpick comes out clean.
  15. Remove from the oven, and let cool for 5 minutes.
  16. Loosen the sides of the cake from the pan, by running a knife around the pan sides.
  17. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack to cool. Remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cakes.
  18. Cool completely.

Mocha Frosting Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine butter, chocolate, vanilla, and 1 ½ cups confectioner sugar.
  2. Beat until creamy.
  3. Alternately add the coffee, liqueur, and the remaining 4 ½ cups of confectioner sugar.
  4. Continue to beat until fluffy.
  5. Set aside.

Coffee Cream Filling Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine heavy cream, instant coffee, and ¼ cup of confectioner sugar.
  2. Beat to soft peaks.

Torte Assembly:

  1. Split each round of torte in half diagonally, making 4 even disks.
  2. Place one cake disk on a cake platter (with the uncut bottom down).
  3. Spread ¾ cup mocha frosting over the top.
  4. Follow with a third of coffee cream.
  5. Place second cake disk on top, and repeat with frosting and cream.
  6. Repeat with third cake disk.
  7. Place the last caked disk on top, and spread the remaining mocha frosting on top and sides of the torte.
  8. Decorate with the chopped walnuts.
  9. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

Healthy Tips – Whole Foods

My first crop of Raspberries and BlueberriesIt has been a while since I shared some useful tips with you, from ecomii website, which I find very informative.

This one is about eating whole foods, rather than processed foods.

Please enjoy this tip.

Today’s tip: Eat Whole Foods Instead of Half Foods

What?
Boost your nutrition – and reduce food industry pollution – by eating whole foods whenever possible.

How?
Is it processed?  Labeled as “low-fat” or “enriched”?  If so, skip it, and look for pure food in its natural state.  Good examples are fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Why?
The food industry emits over 24 million tons of CO2, and a large part of that comes from processing and packaging food.  Plus,  whole foods are indisputably healthier.

Did You Know?

Whole grains can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 30%.

City Chicken – Recipe and Techinque

City ChickenI am not sure why this dish is called City Chicken, while it is actually made out of pork.  Maybe it was popular in the days when chicken was more expensive than pork, so chefs tried to be creative.

I would like to hear from anyone who is familiar with the history behind the name of this dish.  Please share with us.

This recipe seems lengthy and complicated, but it is rather simple to prepare, and a great dish for parties, pot luck dinners, picnics, and Super Bowl Parties.

Makes 12-16 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 lbs boneless pork sirloin chops (or cubed pork for stew)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup wine vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3/4 tsp curry powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups Italian flavored bread crumbs
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Bamboo skewers (14-18), soaked in water

Directions:

  1. Cut the meat into 1 inch cubes, and place in a large bowl.
  2. Combine water, vinegar, garlic, 1/2 of the salt and pepper.
  3. Pour mixture over meat cubes, and mix to coat.

Marinated cubed  pork

4.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Soaking the bamboo sticks

5.  Soak the skewers in water for at least 10 minutes, before using.

Pork cubes speared on bamboo sticks

6.    Leaving about 2 inches at the bottom of each skewer, arrange pork cubes on the skewers.  I used 5-6 pieces of meat on each skewer, but would recommend only 4, for easier handling.  Squeeze cubes together, and pat dry with paper towel.  Set aside on a foil lined baking sheet.

Frothy egg dipping wash

7.  Prepare egg wash, by beating the eggs with a whisk, until frothy. Set aside

8.  Blend bread crumbs with curry powder, and remaining salt and pepper.

Dipping pork cabobs in bread crumbs mixture

9.  Roll the skewered pork in bread crumb mixture, to coat evenly.

Dipping breaded pork cabobs in egg wash

10.  Dip the bread crumb coated pork into egg wash. Drip off any excess liquid.

Pork cabobs after second dipping in bread crumbs

11.  Dip for the second time in the flavored bread crumbs, and squeeze them gently to firm them up, as shown above.

Browning pork cabobs

12.  Heat the oil in a frying pan until it sizzles, add few pork skewers at a time, and brown lightly on one side.

Lightly browning the other side

13.  Turn them over, and brown lightly on the other side.

14.  Clear off dripping from the frying pan.  Add butter, chopped onions, celery and carrots, and saute for 1 minute.

15.  Spread the veggies evenly on a foil lined baking sheet.

Layer cabobs on a bed of veggies

16.  Arrange the city chicken on top of the veggies.

17.   Bake in a preheated oven, at 275 degrees  F, for about 45-60 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink.

18.  These may be served hot, or at room temperature.

TIP: This City Chicken is suitable for freezing. It also may be stored in the refrigerator for several days, and

reheated before serving.




Cabbage soupThe cold winter days are calling for some comfort foods, and what can be better than a bowl of hot homemade soup.

This Cabbage and Sausage Soup recipe is from Nick Stellino’s site, but for your convenience I am posting it here as well.

My sister-in-law tired this recipe first, and her family unanimously approved it, so she suggested for me to try it.

It takes less 30 minutes to prepare.

The recipe makes 6-8 servings.

This soup is on a thicker side, so I added additional 4 cups of chicken broth, and increased the wine, salt and pepper accordingly.  It tastes even better the next day, as the vegetables and spices blend together.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs hot Italian sausage, or chorizo, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used the Sweet Italian Sausage, broken up)
  • 2 white onions, sliced (I used yellow onions)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thickly sliced (I chopped mine)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 pound green cabbage, thinly sliced (about 4 cups) – I used food processor for shredding cabbage
  • 6 cups Chicken Stock (I used 9 cups for more liquidy soup)
  • 6-8 sliced of toasted garlic bread (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a small stockpot, on high heat, until sizzling (about 2 minutes).
  2. Add the sausage and cook for 3 minutes (I removed the sausage from casing, and broke it up while sauteing).
  3. Using slotted spoon, remove the sausage to a bowl, and set aside.
  4. Add the onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and sun-dried tomatoes to the same pan, and cook for 3-5 minutes on medium heat, until the onions are soft.
  5. Stir in the wine, and cook 1-2 minutes longer.
  6. Add the cabbage, the reserved cooked sausage, and the chicken broth.
  7. Bring to boil.
  8. Reduce the heat, and simmer with the lid slightly ajar, for 10-15 minutes, until the cabbage is tender (I cooked it for about 20 minutes).
  9. Serve with garlic bread.  You can either place the bread in the bowl, and pour the soup over it, or serve the bread on the side.

TIP: Some of my family members mixed in a dollop of sour cream into their soup, for a creamier taste. If you like sour cream, you might like this combination as well.

I am told that eating cabbage and pork  on New Year’ Day, brings prosperity throughout the year.

Winter Wedding – Wedding Cake and More

Beautiful Display of the Wedding CakeThe year 2010 was definitely a wedding attendance year for me, as you know from the wedding posts I have shared with you in the past months.

Today I will share some of my thoughts, and pictures, about the last wedding of 2010 which I attended at the end of December, in upstate New York.  Lucky for us, the weather was great, since all the heavy snow fell along the shore of New Jersey and New York, and missed that part of the state.

The wedding ceremony was beautiful, and included lots of very personal touches.  The Bride’s brother played his guitar and sang a “The Wedding Song”, a song about love, which was played at their parents wedding, several years back.  It set a very nostalgic atmosphere for the ceremony, and sweet memory for the parents of the Bride.  The brother of the Groom and his wife, also sang a beautiful song, “The Prayer”, to the newlyweds, both in English and in Spanish.  They were accompanied by a very talented young men, playing the piano.

The Reception Hall decor was very elegant, in deep red color, intertwined with Christmas theme.


The Best Wedding Wishes Christmas Tree Best Wedding Wishes Christmas Tree

There was a Christmas Tree set up near the entry to the Reception Hall, decorated with various photos of the Bride and Groom, and their families and friends.  On the table next to the tree, were family wedding photos of their parents and grandparents, as well as a stack of wish cards for guests to fill out and hang on the Christmas Tree. This was such a wonderful idea, replacing the usual signing of a guest book.

Table arrangement with printed programs Special Table Setting - Anything Goes  - Playbill

As you can see, the theme was candles and rose pedals, which adorned all the display tables.  The dinner tables had three tier crystal candle holders with floating candles, rose petals, and each table was named after a famous play name, rather than being numbered (mine was “Anything Goes”).  The guests found their seating by locating a play admission ticket with their name on it, and the play name of their table.  The idea was very appropriate for this Bride and Groom, as they both were very active in play acting during their High School and College years, and the Groom is pursuing an entertainment career.

Very original headdress for the Bride

I decided to share a picture of a very interesting headdress, the Bride wore in place of a traditional veil.

She looked absolutely stunning!

Wedding Band

I have never been to a wedding with such a large band.  This wedding band consisted of 10 players, including instruments such as, drums, guitar, keyboard, trumpets, clarinets, french horns, and saxophone.  It was a very lively band, which made the wedding lots of fun for everyone.

Beautiful Display of the Wedding Cake The Wedding Cake Topper - Two Love Birds

Here is a very elegant  Wedding Cake display, with the two tiered candles in the background.  Also, a close up view of the love birds, as the cake topper (notice the tiny veil on one of the birds).

I hope you enjoyed my short wedding story, and the lovely pictures, which might help you with your wedding planning ideas for 2011.

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