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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Red onion, garlic and olive Flammkuchen

Starting from the classic Alsacian version of the onion and bacon tart, the Flammkuchen, we decided to make a variation using red onion instead of yellow, adding a little garlic and some olives, while removing the bacon. The saltiness in the olives should provide a nice replacement for the smoky meat, so the vegetarians can enjoy the overall taste of the original tart. :)

Last year: Cous cous and pomegranate spicy salad (vegan).
Two years ago: Caprese skewers (Italian), Pork, bell pepper, carrot and broccoli stir-fry (Chinese), Basic carrot cake bars (American) and White fish (pangasius) fillet in cream-wine sauce

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Eggplant, pomegranate and chickpea cous cous (vegan)

This is one of my favorite things to eat, since it has all the stuff I would eat by themselves: chickpeas, tomato sauce, cous cous, eggplants, pomegranate etc. Of course, all slathered in a spicy Middle Eastern spice mix (ras-el-hanout) and fresh chili for a an extra kick. 
It's something I like just as much when it's cold or the next day as well. And which I make very often as lunch, I even pack it up in a large plastic glass and take it with me to school. It's even great cold from the fridge too, which I couldn't really say for most foods.
Enjoy. :)

Last year: Mechouia salad (roast vegetables and tuna) (Tunisian).
Two years ago: Zucchini and coconut muffins, Melanzane alla parmigiana (Italian) and Pancetta and artichoke pizza.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sticky banana and maple syrup cake bars

Sticky cake bars with whole banana pieces (and banana puree in the batter), maple syrup, almond flour and intense vanilla flavor. Also quite light for this kind of cake, not much butter involved compared with other recipes (it's replaced by Greek yogurt), but I can swear you won't miss it in this recipe. I honestly don't think this is a recipe that could still be improved.
Pretty easy to make and exquisitely fancy and delicious. Perfect with tea :)
Recipe source: Good Food.

Last year: Cheddar and leek muffins.
Two years ago: Asian white fish (pangasius) fillet with sesame noodles, Ruladă de pui cu spanac (Romanian chicken and spinach roulade) and Green pasta and pesto souffle (gratin).

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Paprikás Csirke (Chicken Paprikash) (Hungarian)

A slightly more elaborate dish consisting of braised chicken in a rich and creamy tomato sauce with home-made dumplings tossed with butter and herbs, and some bell pepper wedges. Strongly flavored with Hungarian paprika.
It takes a bit longer to make than your average chicken meal and it includes a few steps, but if you have a couple of hours on a chilly afternoon when you want to push away the gloom and make some magic on the stove, this is the recipe you're looking for.
I don't know what part of the world you're from but back home in Romania this was a pretty well-known dish considering our close neighboring Hungarians :).
This particular recipe is among the most complete and well-balanced I've encountered, and it comes from home-cook Olga Kolozy, via Saveur. (And I was inspired also from how I've encountered the dish prepared by the ethnic Hungarians in our country, so don't be surprised if the recipe is a bit modified).

Last year: Mini Nutella and walnut pies.
Two years ago: Caribbean romance (cocktail), French chocolate mousse and Carrot bread (with walnuts).

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Colcannon (Irish mashed potatoes and greens)

A classic and homey Irish side dish (or even a main) of mashed potatoes with green speckles, green as the lovely Ireland herself :). Happy St Patrick's Day! :)
More on the history of the dish here.
I love it. If you haven't tried it yet, take my example (and instructions) and do. Enjoy :)

Last year: Turkey pieces in emmentaler sauce.
Two years ago: Orange caramel pastry windmills, Parmesan cream potatoes and Vegetarian chili tacos with avocado salsa (Mexican).

Friday, March 15, 2013

Smoked trout, fennel, apple and beet salad

Even though the pesky weather refuses to acknowledge that it's spring, the time for salads has definitely come. :)
I like the idea of adding apple to savory salads. It gives them a sweet and crunchy note that creates a wonderful balance with the rest of the ingredients. The combination used here is a classic one in European-style bistros: the already-mentioned apple, some smoked trout, beetroot, dill, mayo, thin fennel bulb strips and lettuce leaves. Bliss. :)

Last year: Garlic soup with chorizo and mustard (Czech).
Two years ago: Cream liquor cocktail, Green apple and peanut butter muffins and Brie, walnut and caraway salad.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dill and cottage cheese bread

A lovely home-made bread with red onion and soft cottage cheese that give it an incredible moistness and texture, dill leaves and seeds to infuse it with flavor and a lovely crispy and flavorful crust. It's also made partially with wholemeal wheat flour, so you could label it as healthy as well :).
Recipe slightly adapted from the lovely Smitten Kitchen

Last year: Fondant pan potatoes (French style).
Two years ago: Pricomigdale (Romanian walnut biscuits), Salata z Boczkiem (Polish wilted lettuce salad with bacon vinaigrette) and Smoked salmon and cucumber starters.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tomato soup with mini mozarella and chili

The name says it all. Little mozzarella balls floating around in a flavorful and spicy tomato cream soup, sprinkled with some extra chili flakes. A wonderful combination of textures and flavors. Easy and fast to make, it can also work well as a pretty-looking starter, in smaller serving bowls/cups. Enjoy. :)

Last year: Simple coconut brownies.
Two years ago: Smoked salmon salad with egg, rucola and avocado, Orange bread with chocolate swirl filling (Romanian cozonac, low sugar version), Wild and red rice with bell pepper and almonds

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sfințișori moldovenești (Mucenici) (Romanian)

"Sfințișori" means "little saints" and they're eight-shaped sweet bread pieces traditionally baked in Romania on the 9th of March (The 40 saints day). It would be ideal to bake 40 of them to stick to the tradition, but the recipe here is for only half (20). 
This specific variation is Moldavian, because that is the historical region I grew up in and I follow my mother's recipe. Also sfintisori is the Moldavian name, in the rest of the country people tend to call them "mucenici" more often than "sfințișori". In the south of the country (Muntenia region) they are usually a lot smaller, not very sweet (sometimes they're more like "8"-shaped soup noodles, very small) and very often commercially sold in packages, dried like pasta and needing to be boiled. Almost everyone agrees that those are really bad compared to the home-made "bread" version and that from the different kinds of home versions, the Moldavian "sfințișori" are the best. (Like the Moldavian kitchen in general, actually :) ).
The dough is yeast-based, semi-sweet, and they're served with a sweet syrup, honey and ground walnuts sprinkled on top (at least in Moldova). 

As to more on my personal experience with them - I liked to make them with my mom when I was little, though that didn't happen every year (we weren't a very traditional family). There was also a funny saying that the more "saints" one managed to eat on that day the more sins of his/hers would be forgiven. To this day I'm not sure that this was indeed a popular saying which other people knew about or just something my mom made up and used to say only to encourage me to eat more, given the fact that I was an extraordinarily thin child. :)

Last year: Simple coconut brownies.
Two years ago: Italian sunset (cocktail), Amaretto cupcakes and Chicken-avocado salad.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Espresso and walnut iced brownies

A dense and moist brownies base, rich in coffee and chopped walnuts. A thick but fluid, slightly runny rich glaze, based on espresso, milk, butter and brown sugar.

From place to place, whole walnut halves and dark chocolate mocha beans to decorate everything :).

Recipe heavily adapted from here. (I worked my magic with adding walnuts and more cocoa in the base; and changing the glaze and the topping to better suit my fancies). 

Last year: Simple coconut brownies.
Two years ago: Amaretto colada, Easy home-made raclette (French-Swiss) and Pasta with spicy mascarpone sauce, artichokes and mushrooms.

P.S: I'm submitting this recipe to the Sweet Romania challenge of this month

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Artichoke Crostini

A lovely crostini recipe I've picked up from Saveur. Since I'm really in love with marinated artichoke hearts, it sounded like a very good idea. And indeed it was :).
Try it in this exact combination (with mascarpone, not some other cream cheese) for best results. Enjoy!

Last year: Sweet potato, wild mushroom and guacamole wraps.
Two years ago: Orange jam and liquor Linzer torte, Goat cheese salad with paprika dressing, Easy chicken tacos with guacamole.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Mexican hot chocolate

In Mexico you can bet the hot chocolate is spicier and more flavorful than the regular ones in other countries. If everything else is, why would such a staple drink be any different :) ?
So, according to tradition, to label a hot chocolate as "Mexican" you need to make sure it contains a kick of coffee and one of cinnamon (the trademarks), make it pretty light (only with milk and a little water instead of the liquid cream some people use) and to serve it with a little spritz of whipped cream.
And you have yourself a lovely hot chocolate for spring-autumn-winter evenings, to enjoy ideally next to cookies or on its own. :)
Recipe source: many, but foremost here.

Last year: Three cheese pasta with bell peppers and cranberries.
Two years ago: Blue skies cocktail (Blue curacao milk), Fastest home-made crackers (Romanian saratele) and Oeufs Cocotte (French baked eggs).

Friday, March 1, 2013

Spaghetti aglia e olio (e peperoncino) (Italian) (vegan)

This is the most simple but brilliant combination of the Italian cuisine. It couldn't be simpler than this really, and the fact that not much is added to the pasta allows the taste of quality stuff to really shine through. So if you're looking for a recipe to highlight your best pack of pasta, this is it. :)
Traditionally, this recipe originated in the region of Abruzzo, but it quickly spread to all of the country. It contains nothing but garlic, olive oil and chili flakes, sometimes also parsley to decorate. It may sound "too simple" or weird but it's truly delicious. Enjoy :)

Last year: Oven-baked chicken skewers with satay sauce (Indonesian).
Two years ago: Peanut butter hot chocolate milk, Chicken with peanut butter sauce (Thai) and Pigs in a blanket (British).

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