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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Banana cheesecake with candied cherries

The most awesome cheesecake I've ever made so far. The dark biscuit base is made out of Oreos and cinnamon, the creamy cheese layer is made out of low-fat cheese (making it one of the lightest cheesecakes possible) and flavorful bananas, while the toppings are candied cherries and sweet-sour tasting red currant jam. :)
It's almost like a banana split in a cheesecake version. I'm very proud of creating it. Try it once and there's a chance it will become your favorite dessert. 
Have a nice party tonight and Happy New Year! :)

Last year: Tiramisu (Italian).
Two years ago: Carrot and clementine cake with carrot-ginger marmalade, honey-cream cheese frosting and balsamic glaze.
Three years ago: Eggplant and spicy chicken bits with mascarpone pasta.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Crab starters with guacamole and black sesame

A lovely and elegant starter using a crostini with rosemary base, delicate crab meat on a soft and citrusy guacamole bed with a sprinkle of black sesame. 
Recipe adapted from a similar one in the Romanian issue of Good Food Magazine, December 2011.

Last year: Pumpernikel rounds with beef ham, mustard and cornichons.
Two years ago: Simple bundt cake with raisins (Romanian guguluf).
Three years ago: Pasta alla carbonara (Italian) and Ginger-lemon chicken breast with honey-spicy vegetable sautee.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Gorgonzola and white wine potato gratin

There are few things as soul-warming and as homey as potato gratins :). This was is infused with salty Italian flavors and tastes terrific from the wine and blue cheese combination. It's great both as a side or on its own, served warm from the oven and shared with friends :).

Recipe inspired from here.

Last year: Prosciutto, chile and onion pizza.
Two years ago: Raw winter salad in preserved peaches (Romanian).
Three years ago: Smoked salmon on lemon-herb butter toast.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Baked cod in tomato, bean and olive sauce

A very simple to make baked fish that tastes as delicious and impressive as if it would require work for hours. Hearty and yet light enough, the cod fillets are baked together with a tomato sauce mixed with red beans, black olives and fresh basil leaves until both the fish and the sauce are done and warm and ready to be devoured :).

The flavor combination is Mediterranean and it tastes so light and lovely and filling that I'd make it again almost every day.

Last year: Fennel, onion and Gouda quiche.
Two years ago: Simple tortellini soup.
Three years ago: Simple blackberry-almond treat and Italian orrecchiette with Parmesan cream, bell pepper and olives.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Dates filled with mascarpone and almonds (raw)

This is a classic dessert / snack / appetizer. Since it's the season, I though that maybe I should feature something like this for all the people preparing to entertain or who just want to nibble on something a bit more festive. The idea is not  ours, but we can't really point out the source since we've seen it around a lot. It's deliciously sweet and soft and light and creamy and crunchy at the same time. It tastes like a dream and - on a personal note - sometimes nothing else can provide inspiration for me to write if not for munching on these. 
Enjoy :)

Last year: The Easterner (cocktail).
Two years ago: Breakfast braided bread with cheese and ham filling.
Three years ago: Avocado halves stuffed with salty cheese and tomatoes and Mexican nachos with four mixed dips (salsa, guacamole, garlic sauce, cheese fondue).

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Răcituri de pui (Romanian chicken and garlic aspic)

The traditional Romanian dish of răcituri (aspic), sometimes also called „piftie”, that can be made with various kinds of meat (usually pork or chicken) and lots of garlic. We generally prefer the term răcituri instead of piftie because we're from the north (the Moldova region) and piftie is used more in the south. 
This dish, whatever you choose to call it, is a staple in Romanian houses on important holidays (like Christmas and Easter) and throughout the cold season.
Here it's made after my mom's recipe (by her actually, with me only as a sous-chef). 
The dish may take a while to make, but it's not very complicated and the bonus is hat you have a completely authentic ethnic recipe. Which also happens to create something delicious. :) 


Last year: Amaretto chocolate truffles.
Two years ago: Vanillekipferln (Austrian vanilla crescent cookies).
Three years ago: Spicy turkey fillet in coriander-tomato sauce and Butter and smoked salmon pasta.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sărmăluțe în viță de vie (Romanian stuffed grape leaves)

The traditional Romanian stuffed grape leaves at their best, in their Moldavian version: smaller than the ones made in the other regions of the country, wine-boiled, with a higher vegetable to meat ratio and most importantly, my mom's recipe. :)
They are usually called "sarmale" (from the Turkish "sarma" which means the same thing, usually called "dolmades" in English literature), but sărmăluțe is also widely used as a diminutive form of the noun, even officially (I mean in restaurants' menus and all). 

I'm not usually a fan of traditional, peasant-style Romanian food, as it tends to be too heavy for my taste, but my mom's version is obviously great and the best (everyone says that about their moms, I know) :P
As a bonus, as if they could possibly taste any better, these were the first thing we made in my new Emile Henry tagine dish, and I swear they really taste different (better) when cooked in a clay pot compared to how they taste when made in other dishes. I actually experimented with food by putting the same stuff in two different dishes and cooking it and then comparing: always, the one made in ceramic tasted better.
Of course, traditionally, this recipe isn't made in a tagine and it's delicious without one too, but the Romanian peasants do cook sarmale in their clay pots, so if a tagine is the only clay cooking dish you have on hand, give it a go. You won't be straying too far from the authentic version. ;)
Returning to the recipe, there you have it: written instructions to the best sărmăluțe in Romania. :)

Last year: Wood ear mushroom salad (Chinese) (raw vegan).
Two years ago: Bulgur pilaf with garlic.
Three years ago: Lebkuchen (German gingerbread) and Ragout with tarragon and white wine sauce (German).

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ciorbă de burtă falsă (Romanian shiitake and chantarellus mushroom soup)

The Romanian "Ciorbă de burtă" is a rich soup with pork belly strips, served with vinegar and garlic cream to taste, very popular around our country, a staple in restaurants etc. This is a still traditional but vegetarian version of it, made during lent in Romanian households, translated as "Fake ciorbă de burtă".
Personally I never liked the one with pork belly because I find those boiled strips of meat disgusting, though I always admitted the broth topping them was pretty good (mainly because of the addition of vinegar and garlic cream). But the vegetarian version using chanterellus mushrooms has always been a favorite of mine. Here I made it also with a bit of shiitake mushrooms given their special "vegan bacon" flavor which they release when properly cooked.
You should really try it, trust me, it's not famous for nothing :).

Last year: Crispy duck with five spices (Chinese).
Two years ago: Tapenade, wild mushroom and red onion galette (vegan).
Three years ago: Romanian and Moldavian "Tochitura" with polenta.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Le fondant au chocolat (French chocolate cake)

If you're looking for a dense chocolate cake, deep tasting and with a slightly thick but also moist texture (moist and dense would be the best way to describe it), this is it. Also very easy to make, keeps wonderfully well to snack on at every breakfast for three-four days in a row. It's lovely while hot and a little runny, but also cold from the fridge and served with more chocolate sauce, milk, coffee or an ice cream scoop. 
What we liked most about it is first of all how easy it is to make, then how well it keeps and how versatile it is, but most of all the special texture. The feel of sinking your teeth into a wedge of this cake is very dissimilar to the one you could get from other chocolate cakes. We recommend having it without frosting, just as pictured above and below. The taste of chocolate is not super-intense (like in a molten lava type of cake), but it's not meant to be so in the first place. Its charms lie in the texture, definitely. (A lot of American-style brownies brag about being "fudgy" in texture, but none of them are quite as fudgy as this classic French cake, I assure you).
The recipe is for any spring-form tin, from 24 cm to 28, but 28 works best because the thinner wedges are easier to nibble on (as thicker ones would tend to be too heavy or too chewy). But feel free to experiment. Enjoy :)

Recipe source: a very lovely French girl.

Last year on this date (today is also my birthday): Upside down pineapple cake (American).
Two years ago: Classic Pavlova (Australia and New Zealand).
Three years ago: Light and colorful field salad and Gottergetränk (Drink of the gods) (German hot chocolate drink).

Monday, December 9, 2013

White Russian (cocktail)

A "White Russian" is a "Black Russian" cocktail (coffee liquor + vodka) with an addition of cream :). Both kind of cocktails are not Russian in origin, but are called so because of the vodka they contain. If you're the type who likes their cocktails creamy and sweet and dessert-like (as I confess I do), then this drink is for you :).
More on the history of this drink here

Last year: Chicken, rice and caraway soup (Asian-style).
Two years ago: Farfalle with cheddar cream, green apple and red onion.
Three years ago: German mustard cream pork chops and German apple and leek winter salad.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Köttbullar med Potatismos (Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes)

The one and only. I would bet this is the most well-known meal of Swedish cuisine, thanks to a certain furniture store who popularized it ;).
But the superstar status of these meatballs is fully deserved, as you might already know if you tasted them. A bit spicy from the touch of allspice, served with gravy and pillowy mashed potatoes and just a tablespoon or two of lingonberry preserves or jam. Absolutely delicious :). 
Recipe source(s): English or Romanian.

Last year: Onion-Gouda-bacon fritters.
Two years ago: Turkey fillet with chestnuts.
Three years ago: French onion soup with oregano, toast and emmentaler

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pasta Arabbiata ("Angry penne") (Italian) (vegan)

The Arabbiata sauce is one of the Italian cuisine classics. It is basically a slow-simmered tomato sauce flavored with extra virgin olive oil and a generous dose of garlic and chili. It's hot (hence the "angry" name) and delicious. :)
The traditional pasta to be served with this sauce is penne, but other small-medium shaped pasta can be used as well. Enjoy :)

Previously around this time:
Last year: Grilled turkey breast with avocado-feta salsa.
Two years ago: Quesadillas with cheddar, bacon and cherry tomatoes (Mexican).
Three years ago: Cheese-stuffed mushrooms and cheese fussili with herbs and aioli; and Swedish-style salmon with vegetables and white sauce.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Peanut butter marbled brownies + 3 year blog anniversary

Today is our three-year blog anniversary :). (And also Romania's national day). This year, we're celebrating it by sharing something a bit simpler and homier than previous years, and what sweet thing could be homier than brownies or peanut butter? :)

To make this delicious crispy and creamy treat of brownies, all you need is almond flour, brown sugar, rum and dark chocolate. To make them over the top, also include a creamy treat in the middle (as if all the other ingredients weren't enough to get us hooked already): a nice dollop of peanut butter.
Considering how easy they are to make, I don't know what you're waiting for. :) 
Share them with people you love. Enjoy.

Last year: Cocoa macarons with chocolate cream cheese filling + 2 year blog anniversary.
Two years ago: Classic chocolate cream pie (American) + 1 year blog anniversary.
Three years ago: Complete meal salad with basil and Simple fried bananas with cinnamon and honey (Central and South American). (A.k.a. our humble beginnings). 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Carrot, ginger and orange soup (vegan)

A warm and sweet and spicy soup perfect for slightly cold days. And a delicious way to catch up on your vitamin and veggie intake. 
The combination between carrot and ginger is such a well-matched and balanced spicy-sweet favorite of mine. I've tried it previously in a lovely and addictive salad dressing/dip and in a thick caramel marmalade. It was only a matter of time I guess until it made its way into a soup. And it couldn't be more perfumed and flavorful than this. Enjoy :)
Recipe adapted from here.

Last year: Banana-hazelnut-honey smoothie (vegan).
Two years ago: Sticky sweet and sour chicken wings.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Kolrābju Salāti (Kohrabi and apple winter salad) (Latvian)

A nice winter salad very usual at everyday meals in Latvia. Kind of similar to the German Apple and Leek winter salad we also like :). If you're looking to keep the menu theme intact and as authentic as possible, try it as company to Karbonāde (Pork Cutlets With Chanterelle Cream Sauce) and Kartupeli ar Dillēm (Boiled Potatoes With Dill Cream). 
Of course, it's also good on its own or with a bit of country-style bread or as company to other dishes, but I like to go full ethnic every now and then. Cheers to the full Riga bistro experience! :)
Recipe source: Saveur.

Last year: Broccoli and coconut stir-fry (vegan).
Two years ago: Hummus (Middle Eastern).

Monday, November 25, 2013

Karbonāde (Pork Cutlets With Chanterelle Cream Sauce) (Latvian)

This is a simple dish from Latvia, very common in everyday life, both in home cooking and in cafeteria menus. Thin pork steaks are dredged through a bit of flour and beaten egg, then shallow fried in a pan. In the same pan, the left-over juices from after the meat frying will receive some butter and chopped onion, then some chopped chanterelle mushrooms, and then some cream and herbs. The sauce thus formed will be served on top of the steaks in a lovely, lovely, casual and homey dish. 
If you happen to visit Riga, don't miss out on a chance to try this thing directly from its source. But in the meantime, it's also ridiculously easy to make at home. Enjoy :).
P.S: The whole thing is meant to be served with a side of Kartupeli ar Dillēm (meaning those jewel-like potatoes you can notice above, tossed with a bit of sour cream and dill).
Recipe source: Saveur.

Last year: Butternut squash soup with chili and cream.
Two years ago: Middle Eastern pita bread (tutorial) (vegan).

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Kartupeli ar Dillēm (Boiled Potatoes With Dill Cream) (Latvian)

This way of preparing small new potatoes, by boiling and then tossing them with butter, cream, fresh dill, salt and pepper, couldn't be simpler or more delicious. A dish that really illustrates that the best flavors and combinations come in simple forms. When in doubt, always go back to the basics. Especially Eastern European basics :)

The recipe is traditional in Latvia and it's meant as a side-dish to a meat course called Karbonāde (Pork Cutlets With Chanterelle Cream Sauce), like this: 

That doesn't mean, obviously, that the potatoes are not also delicious on their own, you know :).
The combination of the two is universally known and prepared throughout Latvia, from funerals and memorials to traditional weddings or everyday buffets in street cafeterias. If you happen to visit Riga don't miss out on a chance to try it. :)
For me (us), the meal was even better because the overall tastes struck a chord close to home. Although I couldn't claim that we have something similar per se in the Romanian cuisine, the taste of almost anything from Eastern Europe in general still tastes pretty much like home :).
Recipe source: Saveur.

Last year: Khoresht-e-Fesenjan (Iranian chicken, walnut and pomegranate molasses stew).
Two years ago: Amaretto chocolate milk pudding (German).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nashi pears in wine syrup with walnuts and walnut cream

This was truly a special and elegant treat. The Nashi pears are slowly baked in a wine, vanilla and walnut syrup that creates a delicate glaze and an explosion of flavor. The whole walnuts get the same treatment. And the walnut and mascarpone cream that accompanies them is heavenly. Make it when you have special guests over :) (we had my folks over for the winter holidays). 
Recipe adapted from Jamie via Catalina

Last year: Artichoke and cous cous stuffed mushrooms (vegan).
Two years ago: Red lentil ragu with basil and ajvar.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Spanish chorizo and chickpea soup

A traditional Spanish soup that we love (we generally enjoy chickpeas in everything and I seem to have made a habit of making soups out of them), not to mention the rest of the flavors this soup has to offer. 

We served this soul-warming goodness with the awesome rosemary flat-breads, freshly out of the oven, like this:

We strongly recommend the same combination (the bread is ready very fast, don't worry).
P.S: We made another similar soup, Spanish-inspired but not-quite traditional here.
Recipe source: recreated from various sources on the internet, and resembling this the most.

Last year: Chocolate chip cookies with salted butter (American).
Two years ago: Irish soda bread (buns) with mixed seeds.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Crisp rosemary flat-bread (vegan)

To be honest I was in love with this idea before I actually started learning how to cook. It was one of the first things I planned to make as soon as I built up the courage... but somehow postponed it and / or forgot about all the way until now :).
When we finally made these little flat-breads (way easier and faster than you might think) we enjoyed it all the way up to the expectations I had about them.
They go wonderfully with any combination of cheese and white wine and are also great with soups. We had them with a Spanish tomato, chickpea and chorizo soup and also on their own, plain. Both manners of serving them were delicious. :)

The recipe yields three flat-breads, studded with rosemary and sea salt, that are then broken into pieces and devoured:

Recipe source(s): Gourmet and Smitten Kitchen. (I saw it first at Deb's but then stumbled upon it in the Gourmet archives, and also noticed that Deb adapted it from them so I thought it would be proper to point out both sources). :)

Last year: Pork steaks with sage sauce and caramelized apples.
Two years ago: Winter tabbouleh with roasted eggplant and feta.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Smoked trout quiche provencal (French)

The quiche is a savory French pie. The Quiche Lorraine is the original, but there are a lot of classic variations of it. For instance, when it contains spinach it's called florentine, when it contains tomatoes it's called provencal and so on (according to the history of quiches).
The one we made here, I'm sure you've guessed it, is with fresh tomatoes. And it's also with trout because we love smokiness and wanted to try a healthier version apart from the regular bacon. And also because fish pies are so deeply rooted in European peasant tradition it would be a shame not to feature at least one here. What kind of an anthropologist would I be then? :)

But besides all these abstract motivations, the truth is it just tastes good. The tomatoes and smoked fish match each other perfectly, and the fact that the fish is not salmon, the usual smoked fish we use (which has a chewier texture), but instead is trout makes it flakier and more spread out through the pie. And the rest of the ingredients.. well, as you'll see, they create the perfect hearty vessel for the two main flavors.

Last year: Cream of wild mushroom soup (American).
Two years ago: White chocolate and blueberry cupcakes.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Red lentil and sausage stew (British)

A traditional British stew pairing the smoked taste of sausages with a flavor-absorbing red lentil stew. 
We have a similar combination in Romanian cuisine, pairing smoked meats with beans, resulting in a very similar tasting dish.
Until I get a chance to document that one as well, try this British dish with its lovely sweet lentil mass infused with the slightly smoked and salty flavor of sausages.

Last year: Savory hazelnut bread (vegan).
Two years ago: Fettuccine Alfredo (Italian).

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pignoli (Italian pine nut cookies)

Traditional Italian meringue cookies, super-easy to make, very similar in concept to the Romanian pricomigdale, but topped with pine nuts. Also a great way to use up the extra egg-whites that keep piling up if your dessert-making life is as busy as mine :). They tasted sweet, crunchy, with a delicate nutty flavor and they retained their shape remarkably well in the oven. I would definitely recommend them to become one of your go-to cookie recipes. I made them sometime during the Christmas baking mania and they sure were a nice addition to the cookie collection that resulted ;).
Recipe source: Saveur

P.S: I'm submitting this to November's Sweet Romania challenge, hosted by Transylvanian kitchen.

Last year: Arancini carbonara (Fried risotto balls in carbonara style) (Italian).
Two years ago: Chicken liver parfait with sage and red wine.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Salată orientală (Romanian potato salad)

This is exactly the salad my mom used to make for me during my entire childhood. I always liked to stay with her and help out by peeling the boiled and warm potatoes or the eggs or by cutting things in slices. In Romanian it's called "Salată orientală", which means "oriental salad", but it's traditionally Romanian. :)

When she stayed with me and my Mira during her first months of life I asked my mother to make it and I documented it here, not that the instructions would have been too complicated to follow but because I wanted to have pictures of this salad actually made by her hands, now when we're three generations of girls instead of just two :). It may be very simple and not really worth sharing given how wide-spread it is, but I love this salad and the memories it brings back and I intend to "save" it exactly the way my mom makes it.

Last year: Risotto carbonara (Italian).
Two years ago: Plăcintă cu dovleac (My mom's pumpkin pie, with puff pastry) (Romanian-Moldavian).

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fondi di carciofi (Bacon-wrapped artichokes) (Italian)

Delicious, delicious, delicious. One of our two most loved culinary ingredients (bacon and artichokes) into one elegant, simple and lovely starter. Seasoned with a little grated Parmesan and freshly ground pepper (as if it really needed more seasoning). Seared for a minute or so into a flavorful and well-bound little piece of perfection. Here you go. (And also because the Italian cuisine is not all about pizzas and pastas - not that there's anything wrong with those).
Recipe source: Saveur.

Last year: Coconut, carrot and brown sugar cake slices.
Two years ago: Chickpea, avocado and pesto salad.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Kashmiri chai (Indian cardamom tea)

A lovely, lovely drink if you're into tea and warm milk and spices and the Indian flavors in general. This tea is one of the most known traditional beverages in the Kashmir region and every cup comes with a special and meaningful brewing and serving ceremony.
The good news is that there's a way for us to enjoy the same taste at home, in our Western-equipped kitchens, with minimal effort. The drink tastes unique and it's ready in just a couple of minutes. And if you're a cardamom junkie, like I confess to be, you just can't say no to this. Hello cold season and many many cups of this chai to come :).
Recipe source: here

Last year: Zucchini, bean and cheese quesadillas
Two years ago: Baked Camembert with rum raisins (French).

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Barmbrack (Irish)

A traditional Irish sweet yeasted bread made with black tea and raisins which has gained much popularity as a Halloween treat, becoming the center of this holiday's culinary custom in Ireland. :) 
Its name, Barmbrack, is a short Westernized version of its Irish name, Bairin Breac (which means speckled bread, the speckles coming from the raisins in it).
It is also served often with butter and tea in the afternoon during other times of the year. Not overly sweet, it can be eaten guilt-free or paired with other sweet spreads (jams) beside the butter.
More on this bread's history here

Last year: Zucchini cream soup (vegan).
Two years ago: Chocolate banana bread with white chocolate chips.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Creamy white bean dip / spread

This dip is fast to make in a blender and it's a wonderful new thing to try for when you grow bored of hummus
Seasoned with caraway and garlic, made with white beans and chickpeas and creamed with a bit of Greek yogurt, it's great both as a dip for veggie sticks and as a spread on crusty bread :).
As to variations you could try, I was thinking of adding lots of fried onions next time, and maybe some chili... etc :).
Recipe adapted from here.

Last year: Broccoli, chicken and cheese casserole.
Two years ago: Potato, cheese and mushroom gratin.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wild rice risotto with peas and basil pesto

Since I'm a big fan of risottos in all combinations, I guess I did it again. I fantasized about using a white-wild rice instead of the regular arborio (even if that meant sacrificing a bit of the creaminess) with peas and basil pesto for a while before I finally found the time to make it, but when I actually did, the result matched my expectations and then some :).
Enjoy. It tastes like green and fresh and crunchy and garden-wonderful. :)

Last year: Belgian brownies.
Two years ago: Polish buttermilk drink (Kwasne Mleko Ze Szczypiorkiem).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hoddeok (Korean pancakes) (vegan version)

The hoddeok (or hotteok) is a sweet Korean pancake (more like doughnut, actually) very popular both in home cooking and as street food. The dough is always made with yeast - which ensures an elastic and delicious puffiness - and it can be water-based (making them vegan, like here) or milk-based. The filling is one of brown sugar and cinnamon, becoming something pretty close to caramel after frying. 
They're easy to make and the results are delicious enough to make you want to repeat the deed. Enjoy :)
Recipe source: here.

Last year: Grilled cheese (halloumi) and veggies on bulgur (Greek).
Two years ago: Scottish cardamom griddle scones with butter and honey.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Glazed duck with orange sauce and vegetables

The advantage of this roast whole duck recipe with delicious French flavors is that it's a one-dish thing and thus a lot easier to make than it seems for everyone when you bring it at the table :). A perfect dish to serve in the cold season (given the fact that it uses root vegetables and it has a citrus glaze and sauce and just looking at it makes you feel warmer). 

To be honest, speaking of roast whole ducks, I preferred our Crispy duck with five spices, but only slightly, and considering that this is way easier to make, I really would have a hard time deciding which one to recommend more. Maybe you should just try them both :)
Recipe (barely) adapted from Ana
P.S: Also submitting this recipe to this month's Sweet Romania challenge.

Last year: North Croatian deer goulash.
Two years ago: Scottish cardamom griddle scones with butter and honey.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pumpkin and sage soup

A pumpkin and sage cream soup topped with fried shallots and crispy fried sage leaves. Perfect for tasting fall with all your pores :).
Recipe adapted from here

Last year: Potato, sun-dried tomatoes and herbs creamy salad.
Two years ago: Scottish cardamom griddle scones with butter and honey.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fig and blue cheese tart

A lovely savory tart using a walnut pastry shell filled with fresh figs, crumbly blue mold cheese and thyme-infused shallots. A slice of this is the ideal vegetarian supper for cold and moody days. It tastes crunchy and creamy and multi-textured. 

This is sort of a posh-ed up version of a quiche. As if it would need more posh :). You can feel every bit of detail and hint - starting with the little seeds inside the figs and finishing with the touch of thyme. All in all - definitely worth the time required to make it. 
Recipe source: here.

Last year: Duck eggs with broccoli and prosciutto.
Two years ago: Scottish cardamom griddle scones with butter and honey.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Cocoa and chili biscotti (Aztec-style biscuits)

I was thinking about the Aztec hot chocolate (with the same glorious cocoa and chili combination) when I got the idea for these. And a good idea it was! If you enjoy that combination in chocolate bars or hot cocoa drinks, you'll love these as well.
Easy to make and perfect to nibble on next to your favorite drink :)

Last year: Cajeta cake squares (Molten caramel cake).
Two years ago: Scottish cardamom griddle scones, with butter and honey.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Aztec hot chocolate

Apparently research has pointed out that the Aztecs enjoyed a hot drink very similar to our hot chocolate, made of ground cocoa beans, milk and generously spiced with chili. That's why we can also find chili chocolate bars in supermarkets and so on - it was all their idea all along :)
Of course, I love the combination so much I used it in other things too (like Aztec-style cocoa and chili biscotti and so on), but this is the original. 
Enjoy :)
P.S: This is something completely different from the Mexican hot chocolate (that adds a touch of cinnamon and coffee instead of the chili).

Last year: Rosemary, Gruyere cheese and potato bread.
Two years ago: Tagliatelle with Gorgonzola and spinach sauce.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hasselback potatoes (Swedish)

Also known as "accordion" potatoes, the Hasselback potatoes bear the name of the restaurant in Stockholm which invented them :)
They are sliced, but not all the way, and then baked, which makes them become half-crisps, half-baked potatoes in a lovely combination with butter and a bit of grated cheese. Known variations include sprinkling them with parsley or keeping their peel on, but anyway you make them you'll surely love them. Enjoy.
Recipe source: many, but I prefer the one here for authenticity.
P.S: I'm submitting this recipe to October's Sweet Romania challenge, hosted by the lovely Cristina. :)

Last year: Salată de varză (Romanian white cabbage salad) (raw vegan).
Two years ago: Simple strawberry, cream and rice crispies treat.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Cheddar and oat scones (British)

Crunchy oat scones with a mild cheddar flavor, great to serve in salty combinations (with yogurt, buttermilk, chutneys, cold cuts, soups and so on). With only 5 minutes prep time and only 15 minutes baking time, you can prepare this simple treat anytime you like. Enjoy :)
Recipe source: here

Last year: Mexican rice with vegetables (vegan).
Two years ago: Sweet potato and prosciutto starters.

Friday, October 4, 2013

American pumpkin pie (from scratch)

The pumpkin pie we used to make every autumn while we were kids wasn't made in this style. It has a base and a topping of puff pastry and the pumpkin in it was grated while raw and retained its texture after baking as well. While the Romanian-style pumpkin pie will always taste like home to us, this American-style pumpkin pie isn't something we'd say no to either. :) It certainly is very different: open-faced, with a shortcrust-style base and creamy twice baked pumpkin center and so on. But it's also delicious. Especially served with a topping of whipped cream:

This is the basic and traditional recipe. I like making all sorts of variations, but this is the starting point for all pumpkin pie experiments. And certainly delicious enough by itself. Enjoy :)

Last year: Lemon pepper grilled chicken.
Two years ago: Fritata with bell pepper and Tirolean sausages.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Autumn chestnut and beetroot salad

A wonderfully hearty salad that contains the best of autumn's bounty: chestnuts, beetroot, garlicky buttered bread, apples, mustard, salad leaves, walnut oil, red onion etc. Served with a slice of prosciutto on top (as you can see above), but feel free to skip it in order to keep the salad simpler and vegetarian. 
Recipe slightly adapted from here.

Last year: Fig, rosemary and mascarpone tartlets.
Two years ago: Spicy Guinness mustard (Irish).

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Crispy chili beef with broccoli (stir-fry)

This was a quick stir-fry using beef, chili, broccoli, garlic, ginger, lime juice, spring onions and baby corn cobs, in a wonderful combination of Asian flavors. Make it when you feel like adding variation to your stir-fries and putting a wok to good use. :)
Recipe adapted from here

Last year: Green tree (cocktail).
Two years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

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