Tuesday, December 31, 2013
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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).