Real explanation and Kefir Yeast Pancakes

I've been writing this post in my head for weeks now. You see, I was supposed to glow for the past few months, but apparently my body didn't get the memo. That's not entirely true, I glowed a few times in the middle of the night, changing yet another t-shirt, glistening and glowing with excess perspiration - glorious and unknown at that time to me side effect of pregnancy.

Other unexpected bonuses included terrible vivid nightmares, so bright and colourful that my husband had to wake me up because I was screaming in the night. Once I woke up from a particularly scary dream where I was fighting someone and used everything that I could to get away from the person including biting. I woke up because I bit myself, my arm bore red bite marks and I couldn't fall back asleep for a few hours. 

The glowing skin that I expected delighted me with angry little red spots over my face that still keep popping up every time I look at the mirror, just like mushrooms after a long summer rain. And hunger, oh hunger! So intense that I didn't think it was possible to ever be this hungry half an hour after eating breakfast. The moment this hunger strikes I can't wait for half an hour, 20 or even 10 minutes - I have to eat now, right this second. I think I'll be able to survive for weeks just eating all the food I have in my drawers at work and in my purse. 

Baby-licious is coming in September

And all this is coupled with nausea. At 5 months, I am still experiencing morning sickness. And by the way, whoever called this "morning" sickness needs to be punished. For me it's a 24-hour sickness. It's not as bad as it was in February when I couldn't move or think. But it's still there. Two weeks ago I decided to try and go off my special anti-nausea pregnancy pills. I got sick right on the street in front of Roy Thompson Hall - how classy! Well, there was a choice between a concert hall and a church, I chose the former. So, I'm back on the pills now.

It's much better than before. I'm almost back to normal, although I doubt I'll ever go back to the pre-pregnancy me. I'm tired a lot (where is that 2nd trimester energy?), I have little interest in food. I eat all the time, but I'm not thinking about food like I used to before. I hear rumours that it'll only get worse and I won't be able to sleep well or cook or blog or do anything for the next five years. I hope not.

Kefir Yeast Pancakes - extra fluffy from yeast, slightly tangy from kefir. Perfect for a lazy weekend.

These Kefir Yeast Pancakes were one of the first recipes I made since I got better this month. I started cooking occasionally back in April, but mostly just eggs, vegetable salads, and french toast (thankfully my husband stepped up and fed us over the past few months!). Yeast pancakes are for long lazy weekends as they need time to ferment and rise. They remind me of my childhood. My mom rarely used yeast, so yeast pancakes were always a special treat for me. I modified the recipe a little bit, reduced the amount of sugar and used Kefir instead of milk, just because I had kefir in my fridge. Yeast and kefir give these pancakes a characteristic sour, tangy flavour that pairs really well with thick maple syrup. 

Kefir is a Russian fermented milk drink, similar to drinking yogurt, but still different. It used to be sold only at specialty Russian stores, but now it can be found at any regular grocery store (at least here, in Greater Toronto Area). I tried many different brands, but Liberté is my favourite. I've been buying their product for at least 10 years. Many also make their own Kefir, which is supposed to be really easy but I've never tried it. If you are interested to make it yourself, then Lily from Gastrosenses has a good recipe with lots of explanations on how to make it.

Kefir Yeast Pancakes

Kefir Yeast Pancakes - extra fluffy from yeast, slightly tangy from kefir. Perfect for a lazy weekend.

Kefir Yeast Pancakes

14-16 pancakes, depending on size

Kefir - 2 cups
Brown sugar - 1/4 cup
Egg - 1
Yeast (dry) - 2 1/4 teaspoon
Flour - 1 1/2 cup
Salt - a pinch
Oil for pan frying
  • Add kefir to a large bowl and warm it to slightly above room temperature. I used a warm oven since I don't have a microwave, but microwave would be easier. Just make sure not to overheat the kefir, otherwise it'll curdle and turn into Farmers Cheese.
  • Once kefir is warm, add brown sugar, mix in an egg, then add yeast. Mix well.
  • Add flour, salt, mix until the flour disappears, but mixture is still lumpy. Do not over mix.
  • Cover the bowl and leave in a warm place for an hour or until the mixture rises, almost doubling in size and gets airy. I sometimes place the bowl in a sink filled with warm water or on top of the stove with the oven on.
  • After an hour the batter should be ready.
  • Brush the frying pan with a little bit of oil, place heaping spoons of batter and fry for 3-4 minutes on medium (or low-medium) heat on each side. Since the pancakes are yeasty, the batter will be thick, so the pancakes take longer to cook through.
  • I usually make about four pancakes at a time and I keep the rest in a warm oven.
Kefir Yeast Pancakes - extra fluffy from yeast, slightly tangy from kefir. Perfect for a lazy weekend.

This post is NOT sponsored by Liberté, I had a couple of coupons for their product and I just genuinely love their kefir. Interestingly enough, I've never tried their yogurt.

Kefir Yeast Pancakes - extra fluffy from yeast, slightly tangy from kefir. Perfect for a lazy weekend.
Posted on May 24, 2016 and filed under Personal, Recipe.

Explanation

Russians love their proverbs, sayings, and aphorisms. Our everyday conversations are peppered with clichés and common expressions. Every life situation warrants one of those proverbs and we don't shy away from using them left and right. So, it's not surprising that over the past few weeks I've been a victim of saying those clichés over and over again in my head: What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger; This too shall pass; and, my favourite, the one that came back to me again and again,  Man proposes but God disposes.

January was busy. I was working on a personal project that never saw the light of day and was cooking and photographing a lot. We were supposed to start major renovations in February, so I hoped to build a cache of recipes that I'd be able to post in the weeks if I wouldn't be able to use the kitchen. Well, just as that proverb said I proposed something, but fate intervened and humbled me. 

I got really sick four days before the renovations started. For the next three weeks I was barely conscious, while living a life of a nomad and moving between my home, my mom's apartment, and my dad's house. I spent hours sleeping, crying, and sitting at the doctor's office. After three weeks of staying home I finally got a bit better and, eager to escape the confinement of a bed, went back to work, just able to function properly for the allotted eight hours, and then travelling home and collapsing back in the current bed I was using.

I am back home now as the renovations finally finished last week. I lost count of how many weeks it has been since I felt normal. I think almost seven. My exploits in the kitchen now consist of toasting a piece of bread and slicing a cucumber. It's nothing serious, and I feel better every day. I hope to feel good enough to be able to cook something for Easter, first time making a meal in two months, but as I just learned - Man proposes but God disposes - I am not making and real plans.

So, here it is. My explanation of why I was gone and a hope (a promise) of a return.

Posted on March 17, 2016 and filed under Personal.

Chocolate Ravioli with Ricotta-Beet Filling

These Chocolate Ravioli with Ricotta-Beet Filling are beautiful and delicious. Perfect for the Valentine's Day dinner or any other lazy weekend.

Just over a year ago I hosted a multi-course Chocolate Dinner where everything was made with chocolate or cocoa. There was amuse-bouche: little bowls of chocolate dipped bacon, chocolate dipped potato chips, and Spicy Chocolate Popcorn. Then we had salad with chocolate dressing (imagine melted chocolate added to the vinaigrette instead of honey or maple syrup) and cocoa dusted almonds. Next course was Chocolate Eggplant Caponata served on white chocolate polenta (my least favourite course... I'm not an expert, so not everything works as I expect it). We then had pasta course consisting of Chocolate Ravioli with Ricotta-Beet Filling. Then Chocolate BBQ Ribs, soft, succulent, and juicy, then cheese course with three kinds of savoury Chocolate Cheese Truffles, and finally, Vegan Chocolate Cake for dessert. It was a filling, delicious, elegant, and unusual dinner.

I wanted to repeat those Chocolate Ravioli for over a year now and make them properly without the huge mistake that I made that time during my dinner. I bought a pasta rolling machine specifically for that Chocolate Dinner course. True to my tips for easy and stress-free entertaining I prepared as many dishes in advance as possible. I made Chocolate bbq sauce a couple of days before the dinner. I made polenta and caponata a day before. I prepared cocoa dusted almonds a week in advance. Ravioli only take a few minutes to cook, so I thought it would be a perfect course - just take them out of the fridge, boil for 2-3 minutes, shake in a pan with melted butter for another minute or two and onto the plates with a few shavings of parmesan cheese - easy! Or so I thought.

These Chocolate Ravioli with Ricotta-Beet Filling are beautiful and delicious. Perfect for the Valentine's Day dinner or any other lazy weekend.

I made the Chocolate Pasta dough a day early. Then on the day of the party I used my new handy-dandy pasta rolling machine and made beautiful chocolate ravioli - cute and perfect. I then piled them on a plate, covered in plastic wrap and put in the fridge. (Cue ominous music now.) When it was time to make the pasta I left the dining room table where the conversation and the wine were flowing and happily boiled water. I then took the plate of my gorgeous ravioli out of the fridge and tried to pick them up one by one to drop into the pot of boiling water. (Cue even more ominous music.) Well, they stuck. The whole plate of my  pretty little parcels got stuck together. Without trying to sound too panicky I called my husband into the kitchen. Together we were able to (barely) get a few raviolis into the water without too big holes in them. I covered the leaking filling with grated cheese and the course tasted amazing. Since then I wanted to repeat these ravioli, just properly, without sticking them in the fridge first.

So, when I got invited to participate in a Chocolate Valentine's Day collaboration with a few fellow Canadian bloggers, I knew right away that it was finally my chance to make the Chocolate Ravioli with Ricotta-Beet Filling again. This is not the most conservative recipe, but I still recommend you trying it. There are a couple of options for both the pasta and the filling that could work. The recipe that I used for the dough had an intensive chocolate undertone to it, so if you prefer a milder taste, I'd suggest reducing the amount of cocoa. Colour will still be brilliant and intensely chocolatey, but the taste will be closer to regular pasta. 

Making pasta dough isn't actually difficult, just mix flour and cocoa and an egg. If the dough is too dry, which it was in my case, then add one or two tablespoons of water. If the dough is too wet, then add a shake or two of flour. Filling for the ravioli is delicious but quite intense because of the beets. If you'd like to only have the beautiful (or shall I say beet-iful) red colour inside the ravioli, but not beet taste, then you can reduce the amount of beets. Only use half or even a quarter of a beet. The filling will still be bright red, but the taste will be mild.

It is not the easiest dish and not the fastest, but it's actually not too difficult if you have a pasta rolling machine. I wouldn't make this on a week night, but on a weekend it's definitely doable.

These Chocolate Ravioli with Ricotta-Beet Filling are beautiful and delicious. Perfect for the Valentine's Day dinner or any other lazy weekend.

Chocolate Ravioli with Ricotta-Beet Filling

10 ravioli + spaghetti

Flour - 3/4 cup
Cocoa powder - 1/4 cup
Egg - 1
Ricotta - 75 g (1/4 container)
Cooked beet, finely grated - about 85 g (1 small)
Parmesan cheese, grated - 25 g (1/3 cup)
Salt, pepper - to taste
Butter - 2 tablespoons
Sage leaves - 4 or 6 small
  • In a large bowl whisk the flour and cocoa powder together until fully combined.
  • Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the egg.
  • Break the egg and start mixing in the flour with the fork just around the egg, then slowly get more and more flour into the egg until all the flour and egg are incorporated.
  • If the mixture is too dry and not forming into dough, add a bit of water, one tablespoon at a time.
  • Gather the dough into a bowl, wrap in plastic and leave on the counter for an hour. After an hour the dough will become pliable,
  • To make the filling, in a small bowl combine the fine grated beet with ricotta, cheese and a big pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Using a pasta rolling machine, roll HALF the dough according to the instructions into a long thin sheet.
  • Place 10 dollops of filling along the sheet of pasta dough just off the centre.
  • Brush the dough lightly with water along the edges and between the filling.
  • Now fold the dough lengthwise over the filling and press in between to make parcels.
  • Slice the dough into 10 square ravioli and press the edges with a fork to seal properly.
  • Alternatively you could use two sheets of dough and a cookie cutter to cut the raioli or if you have a special ravioli form, then use that.
  • The second half of the dough can be used to make spaghetti.
  • Boil the ravioli in boiling salted water for about 3-4 minutes or until they start to float.
  • While the ravioli are boiling, in a large pan melt the butter and add the sage leaves.
  • Drain the cooked ravioli very well and add to the pan of melted butter for a minute or two.
  • Serve with more grated cheese, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Notes:

  • For less intense chocolate flavoured pasta reduce the amount of cocoa powder and increase the amount of flour. For example, you could use 3/4 cup + 1/8 cup of flour and 1/8 cup of cocoa powder.
  • One egg for the pasta dough was not enough for me, so I added about 2 tablespoons of water, but it all depends on the humidity in your house and the ingredients.
  • My husband said there was too much beet taste in the filling. You could use half a beet or even less for the colour. Or, alternatively, no beets at all. Just use ricotta, cheese, and a small egg to bind it together.
  • You don't have to use sage in the melted butter either. Sage flavour is pretty strong, so not everyone likes it. I find that it actually pairs quite well with the beets, but you could just use some melted butter or your favourite light cream sauce for the pasta.
  • Use the rest of the pasta dough to make spaghetti or tagliatelle and serve with either cream or butter sauce.

For more Chocolate inspired recipes, please check out these posts by my fellow Canadian Bloggers! You can also search for #CdnFoodCreatives hashtag on social media.

3-Ingredient Dairy-Free Chocolate Raspberry Cups by The Refreshanista
Chocolate Dipped Honeycomb by My Kitchen Love
Chocolate Spice Fig Truffles by The Busy Baker
Cocoa-Rubbed Drumsticks by Chew Street
Dark Chocolate Rosewater Truffles by The Cinnamon Scrolls
Gooey Caramel Cookie Cups by Liv for Cake
Mocha Waffle Torte by Cocoa Bean, The Vegetable
Savoury Chocolate Ravioli with Ricotta-Beet Filling by Imagelicious
Two-Bite Mochi Brownies by The Chewy Life
These Chocolate Ravioli with Ricotta-Beet Filling are beautiful and delicious. Perfect for the Valentine's Day dinner or any other lazy weekend. #CdnFoodCreatives Valentine's Day Chocolate Recipes from Canadian Food Bloggers
Posted on February 1, 2016 and filed under Recipe.