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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Aubergine and spicy chicken with mascarpone pasta

We made this the night before leaving to the airport to visit our parents for the holidays and the flight delays made us not regret the time invested in a good meal before it :). The pasta is very creamy and the veggies have a lovely flavor that matches the pasta. The chicken is optional so feel free to remove it if you want to keep it vegetarian. Ready in about 30-45 minutes but relaxing and simple to make.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ginger-lemon chicken breast with honey-spicy vegetable sautee

The ginger, lemon and honey flavor combination is a classic. In desserts and teas. And maybe cough meds :P. But now, try it in a light meat and vegetable dish. We were surprised of how good this fit. Also it's a very light dish, with only very little oil used at cooking and no other added fats. The broccoli is a nice touch to the vegetable bed and the strong lemon and lime taste of the meat matches the gentle, subtle sweet coating of the rest beautifully. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pasta alla carbonara

The classical Italian pasta, made famous after World War II (actually pretty inexistent in culinary history - or at least unrecorded - before it). There are several theories regarding the history and origins of this delicious dish: some say it was devised for charcoal burners (coal miners - carbonaro being the Italian term for the job), some say it's called carbonara because of its ashy looks after being traditionally sprinkled with lots of black pepper, others that it was created in honor of the "Carbonari" (charcoal men), some secret society that played a major part in the unification of Italy. In any case, nowadays, if a restaurant has only three types of pasta, you can bet carbonara is one of them (pasta bolognese and macaroni with cheese being, most probably, the other two) :).

Here, we took a quite traditional take on it, with less sauce than it is usually served with in many European restaurants claiming to offer the original. The creamy Parmesan sauce is a classical great combo, found in many traditional pasta dishes (like the fettuccine alfredo), Italian and not only. Enjoy.

Smoked salmon on lemon-herb butter toast

This is a very easy classical starter with smoked salmon. We blabbed about how much we love this kind of fish before, so we'll get straight to the point now. It's ready in 5-7 minutes and it's delicious.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Italian orecchiette with Parmesan cream, bell peppers and olives

The orecchiete is a artisan pasta of Apulia, a region from southern Italy. Their name means "little ears" and they bear it because of their shape. The pasta is traditionally made by women who squeeze little snail-shaped pasta with their thumbs before allowing them to harden in the sunlight. Experts say they probably originated from Provence (a region in France) in the Middle Ages and were brought to Italy by the Anjous dynasty.

But what's really special about them (at least to us) is that they have a lovely light and foamy consistency. As to how we prepared it here, we cannot say more than "love the Parmesan and red pepper flavor and this sauce's creaminess".
Another dish of orecchiette: Broccoli and pancetta orecchiette.

Simple blackberry-almond treat

An alternative to the regular musli. This is ready in 5 minutes or less. Ideal as breakfast or just a light treat. The fruit taste balances the sweet almond flavor and it's packed with fruit and dairy vitamins and almond minerals and omega 3 acids :). Can be served right away or refrigerated for later use.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mexican nachos with mixed dips (salsa, guacamole, garlic sauce and cheese fondue)

We liked this a lot when we first tried it at a Mexican place called Enchilada in Darmstadt, so we decided to give it a go. Those dips are wonderful and complement each other. This is a nice party-starter or movie snack. We served it in bed with a re-watch of Underworld ;). 
The tortilla chips can be store-bought or home-made, we bought ours.  They're easy to make if you can find corn tortillas, but all the tortillas we could find last afternoon were made of wheat so we dropped it. We'll repost a recipe when we manage to make them. But if you buy simple nachos (flavorless) they're quite additive-free, so it's safe to buy them.
As for the sauces, you should do the salsa first, then the guacamole, then the garlic sauce (it's actually basic aioli) and last the cheese fondue (it's supposed to remain hot while served). The other three can be made in advance and refrigerated. Of course, you can serve the same sauces with anything else, so don't be shy to take the recipe from here and add it to your steak, toast, salad etc. We think you'll love it, the Mexican kitchen is just so warm and colorful and delicious it's always a blast!

Other Mexican treats: Mexican-style scrambled eggs.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Avocado halves stuffed with salted cheese and tomatoes

When we did this, we were very much Italian-inspired in our choice of herbs and tastes combination. The garlic, tomatoes, basil and olive oil are a classic match and the cheese and avocado only enrich  it. You'll taste a bit of the Mediterranean kitchen with this wonderful-looking and light starter. Also you'll get a good share of unsaturated fats, potassium and magnesium (avocados have even more of those than bananas). Ready in 10 minutes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Buttery penne with smoked salmon

This one is incredibly good tasting, especially considering its incredibly little cooking time (about 10-12 minutes)! Definitely heartily recommended, especially if you, like us, love smoked salmon. It's one of the healthiest types of meat, full of omega 3 acid and unsaturated fats (preserved especially in its smoked form, because it remains quite raw) and unbelievably delicious for how healthy it is! Our favorite fish and our favorite meat ever. And the combination with pasta is epic!
Note: If you don't like bacon or want to keep the dish simpler (and ready faster) you can replace the bacon with another 50-70 g of smoked salmon. We prefer the combination prescribed here though ;). 

Spicy turkey fillet in tomato-coriander sauce

The coriander is a very interesting spice, because it gives that "warm" (not hot) sensation without a very specific flavor that you can put your finger on. This dish is full of that sweet warm spicy feeling. It's also quite light and therefor guilt-free ;)

Ragout with tarragon and white wine sauce (German)

Cutting the meat in thin strips is a popular way of preparing it in Germany. Often found in supermarkets and restaurants, "geschnetzeltes" are usually accompanied by a white sauce. The dish we prepared here had a strong herbal flavor, not very spicy, but kind of light and sour-ish. You can use any other kind of meat, it'll still be delicious. We think it looks good too ;)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lebkuchen (German)

The delicious Lebkuchen (and you can learn more about them by clicking their name in this phrase) is a traditional kind of biscuit cookie very popular in Germany and particularly known as a product of Nürnberg. They taste spicy-sweet, resembling a softer version of gingerbread. Also, this is the material of the supposedly witch house in the "Hansel and Gretel" fairytale. Given that Christmas is coming and it seems to be the season for spicy sweets, this was our choice for how to spend the afternoon. Try them both with milk as breakfast or with mulled wine for something a little more festive ;). It took us 30-40 minutes (including baking time) to make them, and we had fun decorating them!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Romanian and Moldavian "tochitura" (with polenta)

This is one of our homeland's most traditional dishes. Not very light but certainly delicious and easy to make. Don't serve it with bread or rice, as the polenta in it replaces them. Also, we used olive oil as cooking grease, but traditionally sunflower kernel oil or butter is used, so feel free to choose whatever you please. And also we used turkey meat although traditionally pork meat is used. But other than that, it is 100% traditional. It's ready in 30 minutes. We're sure you'll enjoy it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Drink of the gods (Gottergetränk) (German)

Today was Miriam's Birthday so we wanted to make something sweet and spicy but fast enough so it wouldn't interfere with our plans of celebrating ;).
This is a traditionally German milk and chocolate spicy drink that they call "drink of the gods" (gottergetränk) and the name says it all. It's also quite light, sugar free and very welcome all winter long. Miriam loves spices both in regular food and in sweets so this choice was not arbitrary. :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Light and colorful field salad

This salad can be a not-so-boring meal option for when you want to take it easy on the carbs, or can be served next to a more consistent main course. Field salad looks and tastes nice but is not very commonly found in people's diets, mostly because no one hears of anything you can do with it. Well, here is one way to have it. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

German mustard cream pork chops

Another traditionally German dish of pork meat and delicious rich sauce. The fried onion and bacon flavors enhance the taste and wonderfully blend in. Its preparation is very fast too, considering that you can get all these traditional flavors of home-made German pork in the dish in only 30 minutes. We served it with apple and leek winter salad, but any kind of salad will do. Also, have it next to bread or simple boiled potatoes or simple boiled rice.

Apple and leeks winter salad (German)

The leek is a very popular type of mild onion both in Germany and in our homeland, Romania (especially in Oltenia). This winter salad is typically German, made of ingredients that traditionally are stored well through the winter. It's very easy to make and ready in 10-15 minutes. It has an interesting sweet-sour taste and goes along well next to main dishes of meat, boiled vegetables and more. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

French onion soup with oregano, toast and emmentaler

Don't know about you, but when we think about the "soup, glorious soup" hum, this is the soup that comes to our minds. We first tried it when our friend Vlad suggested it, at Philippe Bistro in Bucharest, and we were charmed by it. Since then, we also sampled it in a place called Die Theke in Germany and also decided to give a shot at making it. We added a touch of oregano to the original recipe and were surprised of how smoothly its flavor blends in. Takes about two hours and a half to prepare and cook it, but your efforts will be kingly rewarded. 

More French goodies:
Oeufs Cocotte

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Swedish-style salmon with vegetables and white sauce

There's something so wonderfully simple about Swedish cuisine and northern cuisine in general. And it couldn't be more appropriate to try it any other time than in winter. Their frequent use of fish, freshly harvested or salted (cured), is well-known and sought after in the swedes' restaurants. Salmon is the healthiest red meat and our favorite type of fish, although we usually use it raw and smoked. This particular dish is not too complicated to make, quite light (even light enough to consume in summertime) and unmistakably delicious. The herbal flavor of the salmon is guaranteed to blow your mind! ;) Note: This was done for a special request made by Bogdan's brother.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cheese stuffed mushrooms and cheese fusilli with herbs and aioli

This is, obviously, Italian-inspired. The starter mushrooms look lovely and taste even lovelier, while the strong herbal aroma of the fusilli is never out of season. This is a very balanced dish, as it is quite consistent while remaining reasonably light. Ready in about 30 minutes, it's not complicated to make and tastes quite classical Mediterranean. We drank with it some home made lemonade, but white wine should do just as well.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Simple fried bananas with cinnamon and honey (Central and South American)

This delicious dessert is very fast and easy to make. Claimed by many world kitchens as being traditionally theirs, it most probably originated somewhere in Central and South America. This is the lighter version of the fried bananas, but lovely nonetheless. If you'd like, also try the fluffier and richer version. Best served with some unsweetened spice tea.

Complete-meal salad with basil

This super-sized salad is extremely easy to make and feeds a gigantic appetite. It's ready in 10 to 15 minutes and, although a salad, has enough proteins in it to feed a football team. Because it contains meat and cheese and eggs we recommend to skip any creamy dressing, but since it doesn't contain too many fats, you can add a little if you want to. We recommend it with some good apple cider (it springs up the basil flavor) and all year-round. 

Hello, world!

So, this is me. And this is one of the things I like to do in my spare time, which isn't plenty of. Spices, good recipes and a bit of imagination make the world taste better. Not to mention that by making food myself I feel a bit more in control about what I put in it and skip all the additives, surplus sugar and the other things that slowly sicken us.

My name is Miriam and I'm a lady mad scientist. :)  I'm a bit compulsive about exploring world cuisine recipes (even if I'm an anthropologist and I do have a critical approach towards authenticity claims). Following the advice of this brilliant comic here, I try to just eat and not make a big fuss about how exotic and different some foods are. :). But on the other hand, when I'll post a recipe that comes from a country I'm pretty sure most Western World natives haven't even heard of, I will point it out or say a few lines about the country in the spotlight. In the midst of this sort-of-ambivalent critical approach towards world cuisine, the corny blog name is as much intentionally ironic as it is assumed. :)

All the non-ethnic recipes on the blog are my own ideas and creations unless told otherwise (I always link the source if I adapt a recipe). Also the pictures and videos or any other graphic material are my own so kindly do not use them without my written permission.

By sharing what I do with you, I get the feeling that I'm documenting my hobby, I'm not talking just to myself as much :) and I hope I can help anyone trying the same thing I try or who's in need of inspiration. Suggestions and more are welcome. Being that cooking is in itself an alternative to the fast-food (the "slow food" lifestyle), I'd like to promote the same spirit on the level of interaction between authors and readers. Professor George Ritzer, writing about the "Mcdonaldization of society", encouraged his readers to do the same.

See ya!

P.S: When you see a "we" instead of an "I" on the blog, you may understand it's me and other people I involve in my cooking one way or another. These may be Bogdan (the husband) or Mădălin or Vlad and so on. Cooking and sharing food with friends is always something I enjoy :)
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