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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Banana-hazelnut-honey smoothie (vegan)

A new addition to my smoothie mania collection. A pretty consistent and yummy one, so flavorful from the main three components I believe it deserves to be labeled as "dessert" too, not just as a "drink". Which is precisely what I did. ;)
As all smoothies, ready in no time and a nice cup of energy to go. Enjoy!

Last year: Sticky sweet and sour chicken wings.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Broccoli and coconut stir-fry (vegan)

Adding a bit of shredded coconut to savory things like stir-fries gives them a nice crunch and a touch of consistency.This was an Asian-inspired stir-fry with all the classic things like soy sauce, ginger, garlic and chili that transformed a basic combination of veggies into a delicious and elaborate-tasting meal.
It's very fast and easy to make and definitely worth it for a quick lunch on busy days. Enjoy :)

Recipe inspired from here.

Last year: Hummus (Middle Eastern).

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Butternut squash soup with chilli and cream

A lovely cream soup using roasted butternut squash, fresh red chili and creme fraiche. The pumpkin flavor is sweet and intense, the cream adds it a touch of richness, and the spiciness gives it just the kick it needs to remind you not to take the lovely taste for granted, wake up and enjoy it. All in all, it's the perfect warmer for cold fall days. :)
Recipe source: here

Last year: Pita bread (perfectly puffed) tutorial.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Khoresht-e-Fesenjan (Iranian chicken, walnut and pomegranate molasses stew)

The most classic chicken dish of the Persian cuisine. The chicken pieces are warmly flavored with turmeric. The thick sauce that accompanies it is made of ground walnuts and pomegranate molasses. Tangy and rich and sweet and bitter notes create an unmistakable taste. The whole thing takes a while to cook, but the slow food experience is all about allowing the flavors to blend properly and create something wonderful, right? Enjoy :)

Last year: Amaretto chocolate milk pudding (German).

Friday, November 23, 2012

Artichoke and cous cous stuffed mushrooms (vegan)

Whenever we find very large mushrooms at the local market, we're quite happy and buy them asap, because that means we'll make stuffed shroomies. :) With all sorts of lovely yummy fillings.
This time we wanted to keep it vegan, and since we love both artichoke hearts and cous cous, the choice of ingredients was simple. We added white wine and pine seeds for flavor, some truffle oil for a more intense mushroom taste and some peppermint tea and Mediterranean herbs for a touch of freshness.
Enjoy :)
P.S: Recipe idea vaguely inspired from here, but greatly adapted.

Last year: Red lentil ragu with basil and ajvar.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chocolate chip cookies with salted butter (American)

Chocolate chip cookies are a well-cherished American tradition ever since the 1930s when Ruth Wakefield accidentally invented them by putting regular chocolate chips in a cookie dough, thinking they would melt just the way baker's chocolate would. The chocolate chips didn't, however, melt during baking, but the recipe became a huge success, known as "Toll House cookie" or "Toll House chocolate crunch cookie", Toll House being the inn where Ruth cooked home-meals for customers during that time.
To this day, every Nestle bag of chocolate chip cookies sold in the USA today has a printed recipe of her cookies on the back :)
Traditionally, every chocolate chip cookie must contain both white sugar and brown sugar and backing-resistant semi-sweet chocolate chips. Most recipes (but not all) also include chopped nuts of all sorts, as we did here also. And another lovely variation is using salted butter to create an over-the-roof pleasant contrast. 

As a personal history note, I should say that I intended to make this on the 7th of February 2012, in the evening. I even fried and chopped the nuts, preparing them for the cookies. As I was feeling tired, I postponed to the next day. But sometime during the night, our little girl Mira, still residing in me, decided she wanted to see the world, therefore the cookies had to wait... and wait for another 2-3 weeks or so until I recovered and we both grew accustomed to each other enough to create a routine that allowed me a bit of spare time. When I found the time and the energy to bake them, I just got the nuts from a jar in which my mother had put them (to save for my later use) and in which they stayed as a reminder the whole time since before the birth. :). I will always associate these cookies with those crazy tired-worried-incredibly joyful roller-coaster weeks :)
Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz, via Crazy Mother Cooker.

Last year: Irish soda bread buns with mixed seeds.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pork steaks with sage sauce and caramelized apples

A slightly more complicated main dish (but fast to make) consisting in pork steaks browned in a flavorful sage sauce, served with a potato and carrot puree, caramelized apples and fresh salad leaves. The sage and the caramelized apples are a match made in heaven, and nothing would suit it more than the pork meat and that puree. Plus a touch of freshness from the leaves :). A complete and perfectly balanced taste adventure. :)
Recipe adapted from Radu.

Last year: Winter tabbouleh with roasted eggplant and feta

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cream of wild mushroom soup (American)

Wild mushrooms are really special because of their intense flavor. If you generally like mushrooms really for their taste and not their texture or meat-replacing qualities, trying wild mushrooms is like amplifying that. 
Creamy, hot, crazy intense in flavor, served with fresh chives and a drizzle of truffle oil, this soup made out day and it's perfect especially in the cold season.

We had it with warm slices of hazelnut bread. The match was made in heaven:

If you have the time, you should definitely try to make the bread too. If not, just enjoy it as it is. Have fun either way! :)

Soup recipe adapted from here.

Last year: White chocolate and blueberry cupcakes.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Savory hazelnut bread (vegan)

This has become our favorite bread from the moment we first made it. Even from before it was completely baked we decided this would become our favorite bread, because the smell of toasted hazelnuts and fresh hot bread that was sneaking out through the oven's door was so tantalizing we knew there could be no going back after tasting this.

It's not complicated at all to make, you just have to be patient enough for the rising time. It's perfect warm even by itself, it's a dream come true when slathered with a little butter and a pinch of salt, and it's the perfect accompaniment to stews and soups.
We had it with a cream of wild mushroom soup and the combination of the two flavors was fantastic:

Anyway you plan to serve it, I definitely recommend having it as fast as possible. It will be delicious with anything you choose to match it with. :)

Last year: Fettuccine Alfredo (Italian).

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Arancini carbonara (Fried risotto balls in carbonara style) (Italian)

We recently discovered arancini (fried risotto balls) and can't get enough of this lovely finger-food appetizers. Their name means "little oranges" and they're called that because of their orange-like color they get from the breadcrumb crust.
For this particular recipe we used a bit of our risotto carbonara.
Every time you have a little leftover risotto this is the thing to do with it. Enjoy :)

Last year: Chicken liver parfait with sage and red wine

Monday, November 12, 2012

Risotto carbonara (Italian)

We're all carbonara fans here, right? So why not have a risotto in the lovely creamy smoky carbonara style? Of course, risotto is by default a rich and creamy and delicious dish, but a little extra  love never hurt anyone, right? Yes, that's what we thought too. No reason whatsoever why we shouldn't. So here it is ladies and gentlemen. The epitome of risotto creaminess: the risotto carbonara.
Idea adapted from here

Last year: My mum's pumpkin pie (with puff pastry)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Coconut, carrot and brown sugar cake slices

The hybrid between carrot cake and coconut bars. All crunchy and textured from the specific carrot and coconut chewiness and, in this case, intensely rich-caramel-like tasting from the brown sugar and the butter. Lots of both. I mean, in that moment when you just look at a recipe and it starts with 250 g butter you know it's going to be good, right? No, I'm not trying to kill you, why would you say that? :D
Recipe slightly adapted from here

Last year: Chickpea, avocado and pesto salad

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Zucchini, bean and cheese quesadillas

We're fans of quesadillas mainly because of their comfort food taste, but also because they're so fast to make. So we make them every time we don't have much time on our hands or we'd rather watch movies than spend our afternoon in the kitchen. 
Since our snacking routine relies heavily on wheat tortillas which we almost always seem to have around the house, all these quesadillas, sincronizadas and wraps should have become quite predictable by now :). This availability of wraps lying around makes such snacks even more so a "comfort" food. 
You can have them in various combinations, as long as you try to keep the ingredients Spanish or Mexican enough. 
Here we filled them with a red bean and zucchini mix, spiced with garlic and jalapenos and held together by delicious melted cheese. Enjoy.
Inspired from here.

Last year: Baked Camembert with rum raisins (French).

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