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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sticky sweet-and-sour chicken wings (American)

Mini chicken wings glazed with a sticky sweet and sour sauce. Full of marvelous flavors of balsamic vinegar, caramelized honey, lemon juice, lemongrass, garlic, thyme and sesame seed oil. Super easy to make (one dish, stove-top). You'll love them. 
We gave them an Asian extra by using sesame oil and a touch of lemongrass, which are not traditional in the American version, but by skipping those ingredients from the list you're left with the original version. :)
Not to mention that the similar ones you can get (almost) ready made are full of fats and artificial flavors and yucky stuff. And not even close to the home-made ones regarding yummyness. Really, make them as soon as possible and they'll become your go-to dinner. 
Inspired from Lavinia.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hummus (Middle Eastern)

The famous Middle-Eastern chickpea dip in its easiest-to-make and classic form. From this basic recipe you can go on whichever path you choose: add some chopped tomatoes, avocado, other spices, use it as a spread or as an ingredient in lots of other dishes like tortilla wraps and shawormas etc. 
We like it best spread inside a pita bread (as in served the way it's intended to be), but also as a dip for various raw or cooked veggies (like carrots, cucumbers, bell pepper wedges, potatoes etc).
We had it inside warm and perfectly puffed Lebanese pita breads :D.
 It's a healthy and yummy snack for whenever the munchies strike and it's ready in 10 minutes. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pita bread (perfectly puffed) tutorial (Middle-Eastern) (vegan)

Maybe I shouldn't say this in a tutorial, but this was our first try at pita bread. We were very anxious about it, as we know that there are people who try making it dozens of times before getting it right. They end up with delicious breads really, but delicious flat-breads. Definitely not pitas (which are meant to have an air pocket all inside them, to be filled with delicious stuff afterwards). 
Well, after researching all the do's and don't's out there, we gave it a shot and there perfectly puffed babies sprung out of the oven. And we'll show you exactly how to make it :)
Mostly adapted from here.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Amaretto chocolate milk pudding (German)

This is super-fast and quite easy to make and surprisingly light for how flavorful it is. A staple German  home-made treat, spiced with a tablespoon or two of Amaretto (almond) liquor and decorated with almond flakes :) You'll love it. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Red lentil ragu with basil and ajvar

When I'm in the mood for a saucy and simple main, the easiest choice is to go for a ragu. Originally intended to be served over Italian pasta (the famous bolognese sauce is a typical ragu example), it can also be accompanied by anything else carbs-based - from baked potatoes to cous-cous or rice. Here, we chose to have with fresh, warm, crusty Irish soda bread with seeds :D. 
The other detail I wanted to tell you about before finally moving on to the recipe is the delicious Ajvar. I'm addicted to this Serbian goodie ever since I discovered a little East-European supermarket where I can find stuff to bring us closer to home in a spoonful. It's the closest we could find to our lovely Romanian zacusca which we took for granted so often back home :). Anyway - if you have a chance to try either Ajvar or zacusca (though we would naturally recommend the latter), do not hesitate. Just spread it over fresh bread and don't be surprised if you finish two jarfuls in one meal.
Returning to this ragu with red lentils, it's ready in about one hour, but without too much fuss - it's mainly because red lentils have a long boiling time. And the special Ajvar can be replaced with red pesto for its flavoring purposes, so don't walk away from the recipe if you can't get any. Enjoy. 

Irish soda bread (with mixed seeds)

The Irish soda bread is famous for its fast preparing time (given that it's made with soda instead of yeast, thus canceling the rising time) and the fact that is uses yogurt as the moisture required to make the dough. It's crunchy, very crusty and delicious. 
The use of various seeds was inspired from here. Also, I decided to make more portion-sized buns instead of a large round bread (which tradition called for). Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Winter tabbouleh with roasted eggplant and feta

If you want a classical version of tabbouleh, the way they make it in the Middle East, you should check out this post here. We love the parsley and mint based version, but this time felt like added the flavor of roasted eggplants and some overall heartier veggies to the bulgur salad. The result was divine, very warming (although served cold) and fulfilling but also light. 
It's best served on top of a pita bread / flat-bread / wheat tortilla etc. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

White chocolate and blueberry cupcakes

What's better then having to decide between fruity and chocolate-chip muffins? Muffins that have both, obviously. And what's even better? When said muffins get transmuted into cupcakes :). I personally love the combination between blueberries and white chocolate (and at a more abstract note, between white and violet), so this was perfect on many different levels. Enjoy.
Adapted from here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fettuccine Alfredo (Italian)

The Fettuccine Alfredo is one of the two mother-recipes of Italian pasta cuisine, right next to the Carbonara pasta (you can see our take on those here). Not for the faint of heart regarding calories, the creamy Parmesan-butter sauce of this dish takes you straight to puddle-like heaven. Definitely one of the the simplest and tastiest noms out there.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chicken liver parfait (with sage and red wine)

The sage is a not-very-often-used herb that happens to go wonderfully with the taste of liver. Also, this home-made pâté is actually a parfait given its soft consistency and the generous use of liquid cream and butter. The red wine used both in cooking the liver and in mixing the paste only enhances the flavor and gives it an addictive touch of a fermented and balsamic note. This parfait is best served with something sour, like pickles and a red balsamic glaze (in our case), or chutney if you have any on hand. The yellow-y parts in the picture are from the butter used to seal the pâté shut (given that it has no additives, it can get oxidized pretty fast, so it's best to seal it for consuming later). Enjoy :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Plăcintă cu dovleac (My mom's pumpkin pie, with puff pastry) (Romanian-Moldavian)

As long as I can remember, I was always mad about this pie, but my mom wouldn't make it very often because grating all that pumpkin was pretty exhausting (in the age before food processors and such). So she would make me a deal that if I wanted her to make it I could grate it myself (with the help of my friends who also wanted a piece or two as a reward :D ). Of course I agreed, but still, the pie did not happen as often as I wanted (even employing all that additional voluntary workforce was not that easy to organize). But in the last years, the use of high-tech kitchen gadgets have took all that away, mostly for the best, of course (except the nostalgia) :). 
Of course, that didn't mean we can't have a pumpkin-pie-making party nowadays as well. So, I'm quite giddy about the fact that for this particular cooking feat, I had the manpower of not just one, but two strong men (as you'll be able to observe down below from the pics). The extra hand came this time from our friend Madalin :).
Now, I proudly present to you my version of mom's pumpkin pie, which I can now have anytime I like (and the mood strikes quite a lot, as you'll see for yourselves after tasting this). Enjoy. :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chickpea, avocado and pesto salad

We wanted to include more chickpeas into our diets and at the same time got tired of the same old classic variations, but then I came up with this salad. Actually it's pretty consistent for a salad, it's more like a main course, resembling Indian mains a little but served cold and without all the spices. It's more like herbal-fresh tasting because of the pesto, lemon and fresh melissa leaves. 
It could also work very well as a creamy side-dish so make what you want of it.
Bottom line: it was very good and it's going to be our go-to thing for lazy afternoons or detox phases from now on :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Baked Camembert with rum raisins (French)

We always enjoyed Camembert and white mold soft cheeses in general, but only recently discovered that this is the way true Camembert should be served. That's also why the fancier cheeses come in hard paper / wooden packages, so you can bake them directly in it (after you remove the plastic, of course). 
For those of you interested more on the subject, there's even a specialized Brie (or wheel-shaped moldy cheeses in general) baker which looks great here
Add some rum-soaked raisins directly in the hot melted core and you have a winner :)

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