How to make your own peanut butter from scratch

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I was out of peanut butter the other day and in no mood to go shopping for some, but I did have a big bag of shell-roasted peanuts at home, so I tried making my own peanut butter.

I used peanuts that are roasted in their shell, so they were just slightly oily, but not too much. I added a pinch of salt, two spoons of honey and another two spoons of olive oil. I ended up adding a third spoon of oil but I stopped there because I didn’t want to make it too heavy. And that’s the butter you see in the first photo.

I used a kitchen, hand mixer, but I would guess that the stronger your mixer is, the finer the paste you’ll get. I also didn’t want to add too much oil, but you could get a creamier peanut butter if you added a bit more oil than I did. You could also try mixing it for longer.

I would recommend this peanut butter to cook with, it’s delicious for pastas, sauces and I also made bread with it. It’s heavier and chunkier than your store-bought peanut butter so you might not like the strong flavour of the olive oil.

Variations:

  1. Use another type of oil, like almond oil if you don’t like the strong flavour of the olive oil
  2. Mix it with tahini to make a favoured humus base
  3. Mix it with cayenne pepper and use just a bit on a cracker with cheese
  4. Mix it with cinnamon and skip the salt and spread it thinly on a cheese cracker or biscuit
  5. Mix it with cocoa to make a chocolately pastry filling

Have you ever made your own peanut butter? What recipe did you use?

Freckled Mini Cheese Buns

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We had some salty hard cheese left over the other day and we wanted to make a some quick-bake buns to go with the sunny day outside so we mixed the crushed cheese with a fork, added some fresh cheese and corn flour and a half an hour later, there it was: a dozen of small, freckled, cheesy burns, perfect with blueberry jam and a fresh banana and celery milkshake.

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Since we were going to eat them right away, we didn’t use any baking powder or yeast, but if you prefer a spongy texture to a very chewy and cheesy one, you could add some.

You will need:

1 cup of grated or mashed salted or crumbly cheese
1/3 cup of fresh cheese or greek yogurt
1/2 cup of corn flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder (optional)

Mix the salty and fresh cheese together. If your mix is still too dry and doesn’t mix well, add some more yogurt or milk before kneading the dough with flour. Knead for a couple of minutes, until firm and bouncy and form small golf-ball-sized buns.

Bake for 15-20 minutes over medium-high heat (or until golden on top).

These taste great with jam (if you like the salty-sweet combination) or as they are, fresh from the oven.

For 1 portion of banana and celery milkshake I blended half a cup of yogurt, 1 banana and 1 finger-sized celery stick. If you don’t like the taste of the celery, you could swap it for freshly squeezed orange juice. It’s delicious!

How to Make Traditional Romanian Mucenici (Soft Honey Bread)

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Mucenici is a traditional holiday in Romania and Moldova on the 9th of March; it celebrates spring and the new spring brings. The legend says that the Martyrs (The Mucenici) were soldiers drowned by the roman emperor Licinius and that the 8 shape symbolises the human body.

Mucenici is a type of bread that is soft and perfumed, glazed with honey and sprinkled with crushed walnuts.

To prepare mucenici, you will need:

  • half a kilo of flour
  • a cup of milk (you can use water or soy milk if you’re vegan)
  • 25g fresh yeast
  • the peel of a small orange
  • half a cup of olive oil
  • 5 spoons of sugar
  • a pinch of salt

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First of all prepare the fresh yeast: warm the milk and mix it with a spoon of sugar, then incorporate the fresh yeast in it. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, while you grate the orange.

Put all your flour into a large bowl and make a crater in the middle. Pout the milk and yeast, the rest of sugar, the salt, the grated orange peel and the oil altogether.

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Then mix well, for around 5 minutes, until the dough stops sticking to your fingers.

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At this point, the dough should be soft and elastic. Let it sit in warm place for an hour, so the dough can rise.
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Then pre-heat your oven at 180 degrees celsius (350 F) and shape into small eight-shapes pieces.

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When you arrange them in the baking tray, make sure you leave a bit of space between them, as they will rise a bit more in the oven.

Bake for around 30 minutes or until golden on top.

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While they cool down a bit, warm up some honey and brush the mucenici with plenty of it. The more layers you put, the more syrupy they’ll be. Sprinkle crumbled walnuts of over and pour yourself a nice cup of coffee to go with it.

Pofta Buna!

How to Make Delicious Fresh Pasta

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My grandmother never bought noodles or pasta, it was simply not something you would buy. A mother and a daughter would meet and make fresh pasta together; sometimes it given as a gift, but never sold, never bought.

Sometimes my grandmother would take a still-warm egg and knead it with flour and salt until a golden, soft and crumbly dough was formed. Then the dough was kneaded for a bit longer, with soft touches but fast, so it wouldn’t dry too much and the dough became more elastic.

The dough was then extended with a rolling pin into a paper-thin surface. A perfectly thin, golden surface. The table-wide paper-like dough was then sprinkled with flour and quickly folded in two, in three, in four, as many as needed.

With a big, sharpened knife, the dough was cut into thin, perfectly equal noodles.

Some of this pasta was used fresh and sometimes it was put to dry out of sun and out of sight into a less-circulated space, like a table in a guest room.

I had never eaten a more delicious chicken soup with noodles than the one my grandmother cooks. In my family, we all agree she makes the best one. Her food is grown organically, and she always uses the most tasty ingredients. You know, tomatoes that taste like tomatoes, apples that taste of apples.

And still, there’s something else, something so sweet, and comforting and wonderful that we’ve never tasted anywhere else. It could be the fresh herbs, but that’s not it either.

I ask her what the secret is and she says it’s… the noodles. When I ask her for the noodle recipe, she laughs, her eyes and lips creating happy wrinkles on her face. There is no recipe. No need.

You just take an egg and mix it with flour and a bit of salt…