Friday Finds

At this point, my blood type is apple pie spice and I want to bake ALL the time. Got the symptoms of fall fever.

Fallen leaves photography by Norm Architects:

brown leaves with white background

A quote from the poem ‘After A While’ by Veronica A. Shoffstall:

plant your own garden instead of waiting for someone to buy you flowers

One of the many amazing travel Instagrams by Jonathan Taylor Sweet:

view of lake and mountains from boat

I need a nook like this in my home! Floating bench & decor by Jennifer of City Farmhouse:

nook under the stairs

Baked Rosemary Parmesan Chickpeas to make RN by Laura of A Beautiful Mess:

baked rosemary parmesan chickpeas

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

Culinary Basics: Cooking Methods

culinary basics: cooking methods title

OK, so here we go! The first piece of my new blog series will cover the basic cooking methods we all need to be familiar with. I bet you use most of them already, even if you did not know how they’re called.

According to the type of heat applied to your food, cooking methods can be divided to two categories (plus a third, when these two are combined):

Dry heat methods:

Bake/Roast. Items are cooked in the oven or other enclosed area where heat is applied until food is golden brown and tender.

Grill/Broil. Applying very high temperature for a shorter time period. The heat source is from below when grilling, and from above when broiling.

Deep Fry. Food is completely submerged in a hot fat. The result is a crispy, golden brown exterior and a fully cooked interior.

Pan Fry. Done by adding enough fat to a hot pan so that the fat comes up about half the side of the pan. Food is partially submerged in the fat and then flipped over so both sides can cook.

Sauté. Food is cooked in a thin layer of fat over medium-high heat, usually in a frying pan on the stovetop, just until tender.

Sear. Done with minimal amounts of fat over high heat. Searing gives food a brown, caramelized outside, while not cooking the interior fully.

Flambé. Alcohol is added to a hot pan to create a burst of flames.

Moist heat methods:

Blanche. Food is par-cooked by boiling and then submerged immediately in an ice-bath to stop the cooking process.

Boil. Foods are boiled in water, completely submerged in the boiling liquid and cooked until tender, then drained.

Poach. Food is completely submerged in liquid until fully cooked through and tender.

Scald. Accomplished in water heated to around 185 °F (85 °C), usually in a double boiler, which conducts the heat of the water, contained in a bigger pan, to a smaller pan containing the food, thus avoiding contact between food and water.

Simmer. Slowly cooked with a liquid in a pot on the stovetop.

Steam. Food is placed in a separate steamer over hot liquid. The food is cooked by the steam from the liquid and does not come in contact with the liquid.

Braise/Stew. A combination cooking method that first involves sautéing or searing an item, then simmering it in liquid for a long cooking period until tender. Food is in bigger parts when braising, while diced ingredients are used when stewing.

Check out this excellent Chasing Delicious chart! I’m thinking of featuring more of Russell’s infographics in this series, they are such great sources of information.

chasing delicious cooking methods chart

Fruzsi

‘Sketchy kitchen supplies’ illustration featured in title image © Freepik

Friday Finds

And the sun took a step back, the leaves lulled themselves to sleep and Autumn was awakened.

Raquel Franco

Rosehips (photo © C. Schultheis):

rosehips

Sometimes less is just more. (floral watercolor by Celeste Clark)

simpler is sweeter floral watercolor

Loving this fall centerpiece by Lucy of Craftberry Brush:

fall centerpiece with seltzer bottles and velvet pumpkins

This patchwork parquet is giving me serious cabin fever (Raphael Navot, Vedes Rénovation):

patchwork parquet

I can almost smell this (miracle no knead bread by Lindsay of Pinch of Yum):

no knead bread

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

Travel Diary: Dalmatian Olive Oil

olive oil watercolor artprint
Handlettering “Olive Oil” by Ekaterina Koroleva

Before you ask, I’m not turning My Chest of Wonders into a travel blog. On the other hand, there were some aspects to the late summer vacay we took to the Croatian Adriatic that you guys can surely relate to: food, of course.

We were pondering the number of visits to our southern neighbour’s amazing seaside with the Fiance on the 8-hour drive, but couldn’t come up with a figure. Many, many times. Only thing that’s sure is that my first trip to the country was in 1997, shortly after the Yugoslav War.

Croatia can roughly be divided into 3 regions: Mainland including the capital city, the peninsula of Istria close to Italy, and coastal Dalmatia, people and culture being different in each territorial unit. That includes architecture, dialects, and you guessed, cuisine too. From a culinary point of view the seaside is more interesting to me, thanks to the Mediterranean and Italian-influenced eating habits.

We got some cloudy days, and admittedly there’s not much to do in the tiny seaside settlements when you can’t go to the beach. That is why we were thrilled to have found a brochure on the reception desk advertising olive oil tasting in Marušići, the next village just a kilometer down the winding coastal road. Off we went, and what an experience it was!

Naturally, olive oil is widely available at home too, but it’s quite a new addition to the average Hungarian kitchen. Even my parents’ generation was raised on meals prepared with lard. Yes, that is pig fat, horrific as it may sound for some (note to self: write an entry in its defence). Ok Fruzsi, focus. Since Hungary’s climate is not suitable for growing olives general knowledge, or at least mine for sure, is quite limited when it comes to olive oil.

Well, Orgula and our lovely hostess Bojana changed that for us. We had the pleasure of trying 3 different extra virgin olive oils accompanied with local delicacies, and got a tour of the olive mill too. You have to go see it for yourself, but here’s a teaser trailer:

The beginnings of olive growing in Dalmatia date back to the late Bronze Age. It is estimated that around 4.5 million olive trees are thriving in the barren soil today with Oblica, an indigenous variety taking up the majority of olive groves.

olive tree with the sea

On the steep south-facing karst slopes unsuitable for irrigation and machine farming, the finest quality olive oil with moderate bitterness and pungency and a strong smell of fresh olive fruit is still produced mostly within family farms. This is what you call heritage.

It takes 10 to 15 kg of olives, harvested manually in the late autumn months, to make 1 liter of oil, the intensity of taste depending on the maturity of the fruit (the riper the olives, the milder the oil).

olive oil tasting

Orgula extracts oil with cold-press method in the modern mill for a commission and also sells its own branded products on the spot. The guided oil tasting, somewhat similar to a wine tasting, takes place on the terrace with a spectacular view of the sea and island Brač under clear skies, or in the tasting room if weather’s bad.

orgula olive oil tasting cups

This tapas-like culinary experience is perfect as a light lunch or dinner. All the food we had along the oils (fresh and aged cheese, various breads, sea salt, wine and non-alcoholic drinks) were locally made and organic, served on the most amazing olive wood trays.

dalmatian tapas

Our sincerest compliments to the company for this initiative creating a new attraction for the tourism palette and surprising a couple who thought they’d seen all Dalmatia has to offer. A great spot you’d be sorry to miss on your next trip to the Adriatic. Can’t wait to open the bottle of Premium, Orgula’s most intense and characteristic oil favored by locals, to offer our family and friends to enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

*Disclaimer: I’ve visited, and used services offered by business establishments mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders. What I write about such entities represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship or gifts.*

Images © Orgula Group

Friday Finds

Eat fresh, buy local! Those stalls at the market are barely holding up under all the beautiful produce in season. I tend to mourne summer a little, but also adore this time of the year. So looking forward to the new season!

Loving this color scheme (home decor line by Casa Vivante):

silver tray with candles and glass

This quote from the lovely designer, painter, and writer warms my heart:

Elle Luna quote

Oregon. This makes me want to go camping ASAP (via Tumblr):

Wet Coast Canada

Rustic, natural and blush. So pretty! (Hale Mercantily CO linens photographed by Line Kay)

rustic natural and blush kitchen

Grilled peaches with cinnamon whipped cream by Laura Trevey, photo by Marcelle Calder. Yum!

grilled peaches

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

 

Culinary Basics: Intoducing a New Blog Series

culinary basics title

Let me start with an acknowledgement: I am thankful to have a family as a source of unvarnished truth when it comes to my blogging. If it weren’t for them, I may have not recognized that in several of my previous posts I used culinary terms without realizing there might be some of you who are probably not familiar with the vocabulary. Major bummer!

And it’s not because you guys missed the smart train or something… I totally wasn’t born with the knowledge either, nor were my first words in French culinary lingo. So to take appropriate measures righting my wrong, I’ve decided to start a new blog series that will acquaint you with the vernacular. Not the fine-dining-everyday douchebag expletives, but just enough to find your way around common kitchen jargon. How about that!

Disclaimer: I am not a professional cook by any means. Making and serving a good meal is a crucial part of my love language though. Culinary art is my passion, something I enjoy a great deal. I am an information sponge when it comes to cooking and baking, these things interest me largely. I don’t want to impart wisdom, just would like to infect you all with my enthusiasm and love for food.

That said, here’s the deal. Every now and again I will post about Kitchen 101 exploring the fundamentals of cooking and baking, entries with information covering everything you need to know on a non-professional level. Think cooking methods, principles, techniques and terms, explained with plain and simple descriptions you can refer to whenever in need.

Learning to cook (and/or getting better at it) is a life long process that is both rewarding and challenging. Let’s broaden our knowledge, sharpen our skills and become serious home cooks together. And most importantly: enjoy time spent in the kitchen, be confident, create and eat good!

It’s gonna be so much fun!

Fruzsi

Illustration featured in title image © Freepik

Friday Finds

The breezes taste of apple peel. The air is full of smells to feel.

John Updike

I think you guys should definitely continue wearing white. Just saying. 🙂 Below, this week’s finds:

Hellebores photographed by Emily of Makelight:

hellebores

Take the advice of street artist Banksy:

if you get tired learn to rest not to quit

17th Century manor house Cognac, France (photo by John Stoffer):

le logis grey goose france

Bathroom essentials in my favorite shades (by nord Copenhagen):

towel slippers bathmat

Grilled parmesan polenta chips by Teeghan of Half Baked Harvest:

grilled polenta chips

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

 

Herb Infused Honey

herb infused honey titleGot the first whiff of fall at my neck of the woods which means I need to adjust my thinking about grabbing a jacket on my way out. This transitional time of year always has an ancestral effect on my psyche, like I need to collect and save stuff because you know, winter is coming. It’s funny how this instinct kicks in even though we live in a world where everything is available, always.

With cooler nights and days slowly but surely shortening, our morning rituals change as well. We stopped drinking tea around May, but know the demand is back. A pot of steaming goodness with a little honey and a few drops of lemon juice, accompanied by a purring furball in each of our laps. Talk about comfy.

As for honey, we don’t buy from the supermarket any more but are getting it by the bucket straight from a honey farmer. You should find a reputable local beekeeper close by too since it’s virtually impossible to know the source of honey on the shelves (remember the headlines of contaminated, illegally labeled Chinese products…). Honey is a classic example of the expression you get what you pay for and can get quite pricey, so buy in bulk.

Purchasing from the source not only helps keep local farmers in business, but it’s actually honey. From actual bees. Moreover, while most commercial honeys are pasteurized and ultra-filtered, honey farmers sell raw, unheated products that have retained all the nutritional benefits.

If you don’t like honey that crystallized over time, you can gently heat it in a water bath to dissolve, or you can divide a big batch to smaller portions and freeze, which will not harm the enzymes.

Crystallization isn’t an indication that the honey has gone bad, in fact, honey doesn’t have an expiration date. BTW honey that tends to solidify quickly has a high amount of pollen, which many mass-market manufacturers extract during the filtering process to make their product more visually appealing. What a waste!

Honey is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic and actively promotes the healing of tissues. Add the health benefits of herbs to the equation, and you have yourself a wonder-worker: apart from being insanely delicious, herbal honey may also be used medicinally (taken internally or used externally as well).

Sore throat? Sage honey. Toothache? Clove honey. Minor burns? Chamomile honey, and the list goes on. Enjoy straight from the spoon, in tea, lemonade, drizzled over desserts, fresh fruit, ice cream, oatmeal, on toast with butter, or even in salad dressings.

Rosemary, sage, thyme, mint, lemon balm, lavender, elderflower, chamomile and nettle all make lovely infused honey. You can also use spices like vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger or star anise.

dried sage

Create single-herb infusions or figure out blends for your liking. Equal parts lavender, chamomile, lemon balm and nutmeg for instance makes a lovely concoction to help you fall asleep easy. The rule of thumb is 1 part herbs to 3 parts honey, but it’s not an exact science, freely adjust to taste and experiment. Like, I use less lavender than the aforementioned amount because it can get a little overwhelming.

dried lavender buds

Food safety: the typical pH value of honey ranges between 3.4 and 6.1 so it’s acidic enough. To make sure you prevent the outgrowth of C. botulinum spores, herbs should be dry. Use clean glass jars with tight-fitting lids. Herbal honey should keep indefinitely if you store it out of direct sunlight.

lavender infused honey

herb infused honey labeled

I made this tiny jar as a hostess gift with home grown lavender. You guessed, that is my handwriting. 🙂 I love these inexpensive kraft paper labels that I ordered at AliExpress, my favorite source for craft supplies. The basic recipe for infused honey is as follows:

Herb Infused Honey

  • Time: 10 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

mildly flavored raw honey

dried herbs

Directions

  1. Fill jar about ¼ of the way with dry herbs.
  2. Pour honey over herbs, close jar tightly.
  3. Let infuse for a few weeks, but at least 5 days. Herbs may rise to the top and absorb some of the honey.
  4. Strain honey into a clean jar, and make a big pot of tea right away with the leftover herbs.

Fruzsi

*Disclaimer: I like and use the products mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders. What I write about such items represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship or gifts.*

Photo featured in title image © KMNPhoto

Friday Finds

By all these lovely tokens September days are here, with summer’s best of weather and autumn’s best of cheer.

Helen Hunt Jackson

Welcoming a new season with these pretty images:

Drying hydrangeas by Kristen of Ella Claire:

drying hydrangeas in basket

Always:

chase grace

Sunset in rose gold (photo by Richard Powell):

outer hebrides sunset

Vintage candleholders from a beach venue (photographed by Feather & Stone):

vintage candleholders

Fig and prosciutto pizza by Rachel of Spache the Spatula:

fig prosciutto pizza

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi