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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Turkish Baklava

The baklava is a sweet dessert made of layers of phillo pastry, sugar syrup, butter and ground nuts (sometimes also cream) traditional to the areas belonging to the former Ottoman Empire. But since these areas comprise many peoples, there are a lot of ethnic traditional versions of it.
This time I'll present you the most known one, the Turkish version. More are to follow eventually.
I'm sure almost everyone ate baklava at least once and loved it, but I sensed that the general impression (at least among people who don't take cooking as seriously as I tend to) is that it's a hard to make dessert. I'll show you that couldn't be further to the truth :).

Last year: Endive and apple salad with poppy seed vinaigrette (raw vegan).
Two years ago: Dagaiku imo (Japanese sweet potatoes with honey and sesame) (vegan).
Three years ago: Winter wheat berries soup with capers (vegan) and Endive and bacon pasta.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Avocado "fries" in Parmesan coating (raw)

This is a nice snack or lunch for when you feel like fries, but want to go healthy :). The spice and Parmesan dusting that coats these strips of avocado flesh provides enough flavor to make you feel like you're eating one of those guilty fried foods :).
Recipe idea adapted from here.

Last year: British country apple cake.
Two years ago: Creamy potato and artichoke salad (very light).
Three years ago: Bacon and eggs breakfast with a fresh touch (British) and Vegetable stock from scratch.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Moroccan tomato salad (raw vegan)

This is a simple and fresh side you could put next to most Moroccan mains, especially tagines :). The special spices differentiate it from common tomato salads, but the result is still delicate enough not to overpower the flavors from the main. You can also have this on its own, just with some flat-bread. Enjoy.
Recipe source: Saveur.

Last year: Three cheese pan potatoes.
Two years ago: Linguine alla putanesca (Italian).
Three years ago: Red pepper and pesto pasta with smoked salmon and Fig salad with feta, rucola and cherry tomatoes.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Chicken, olives and preserved lemons tagine (regional variation with liver) (Moroccan)

This stew here is basically a regional variation of the classic chicken, olive and preserved lemons tagine I previously presented. This one here comes from Yacout and the main difference consists in the use of pureed chicken livers that add more consistency and flavor to the whole dish. All in all, it's just as delicious as the classic and you should definitely try both at least once. Enjoy :)
Recipe source: Saveur

Last year: Cheddar and beer soup (British-Scottish).
Two years ago: Tandoori chicken skewers with field salad and lemon raita (Indian-style).
Three years ago: Ricotta and cinnamon pancakes with pomegranate and raspberry sauce and Bavarian white radish salad with lemon (German) (raw vegan).

Monday, January 20, 2014

Strawberry and poppy seed four-layered cake

A four layered cake with poppy seeds, soaked with orange and Cointreau syrup, sandwiched with orange-infused whipped cream (made fluffier with an addition of Greek yogurt) and strawberries. Sprinkled with extra poppy seeds for that lovable crunch and flavor. It tastes both deep and nutty from the seeds, creamy from all that gorgeous cream and summery from the fresh strawberries (which already go infamously well with the cream). :)

What makes this cake really special is dry-toasting the poppy seeds before using them, to make their flavor come alive. Don't skip that step and you'll be grateful to yourself. And everyone who gets a slice of the cake will ask you where you buy your poppy seeds from, because theirs don't taste so intense. And you don't have to tell them anything :).
Recipe source: the Romanian Good Food. (There's also a contest for people who cook a cake from their website and post about it, and I really hope I'll win one of their prizes. Fingers crossed!). Later edit: I actually won! :)

Last year: Kohlbrot mit wurstchen (German cabbage and sausage bread).
Two years ago: Mini cheesecakes in ramekins, with honey and lime.
Three years ago: Easy Spanish tapas (with deli meats) and Kolokitho Keftedes (Greek zucchini fritters) with tzatziki sauce.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Za'atar dip/sauce (Jewish/Palestinian) (raw vegan)

This sauce can be served either on its own, just with a few crackers or toasted pita chips to dip in it, or as company to a main course from the region (like kebabs or other meat dishes that call for some sauce). It's common to both Jewish and Palestinian cuisines (as is the za'atar spice itself) and it's unbelievably flavorful and delicious. Enjoy.
Recipe source: Saveur.

Last year: Ginger cake squares (crispy base, fudgy topping).
Two years ago: Onion-tamarind soup with herb butter baguette.
Three years ago: Tortilla de patatas (Spanish potato omelette) with parsley and fennel and Red wine pears with Camembert.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Peanut butter and bacon sandwich (American)

A classic combination for a quick treat to take with you or to enjoy in between meals (or when you're super busy and a fully cooked meal is out of the question). It also works lovely as a breakfast for when a long day follows. :)
The charm in this resides especially in the sweet-and-salty thing, which brings up unexpected qualities in the good old peanut butter. Enjoy.
Recipe source: Saveur, movies, the internet etc.

Last year: Breakfast pizza with bacon and egg.
Two years ago: Dukkah-coated turkey wraps.
Three years ago: Sweet pumpkin strips, pan-fried, with honey (vegan) and Simple wellness salad with potatoes, apple, feta and egg.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Orange and wine-infused chickpea and mushroom stew (vegan)

A fancied-up vegan and vegetarian main with chickpeas and mushrooms, with hints of white wine and orange to make it a bit more special than your average meal of chickpeas. :) I even ventured to use orange blossom water in it (in addition to zest), which is usually only used in desserts, and it was the best decision I could have made :).
I created this at home when I was visiting my parents and it was during the Holy Week (in 2013), so it had to be vegan, and everyone (myself included) loved it. 
I'm also submitting this to this month's Sweet Romania challenge.
Enjoy it with people you love. :)

Last year: New York-style pizza crust (puffy and thin) (vegan).
Two years ago: Dukkah (Egyptian and generally Middle Eastern) (vegan).
Three years ago: Simple chicken stock and Chicken risotto with bell pepper.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Lemon and condensed milk cream tart

A lovely tart with a creamy filling made of mascarpone, condensed milk and lemon juice and zest, topped with crunchy lightly fried almond flakes and served with a good drizzle of orange caramel sauce. Crunchy and creamy perfection that tastes as citrus milk caramel (sort of like an orange and lemon dulce de leche) in its perfect form.

You should really try this whenever you feel like something truly divine. (I know that it seems like a pain in the behind, but trust me, it's much easier to make than it looks).
Recipe adapted from Catalina

Last year: Authentic carbonara (Italian).
Two years ago: Tuna and clementine creamy spread.
Three years ago: "Lapte de pas─âre" (Romanian "bird's milk" dessert, my mom's recipe).

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pear salad with walnuts and gorgonzola (American)

The combination between pears and gorgonzola is a classic not only in salads, but also in other savory dishes - from little starters to pies and so on. You would be right if you called it a classic. This salad can be eaten by itself as a main course, accompanied only by a crusty piece of bread, or as a side to a heartier main - like roast turkey, for example, to stick to the American cuisine.
Anyway you plan to have it, you should try the combination at least once to see what it's about. Enjoy :)
Recipe source: here.

Last year: Kedgeree (Anglo-Indian or Scottish).
Two years ago: Tapenade (olive paste) bread rolls.
Three years ago: Tabbouleh (Lebanese and generally Middle Eastern bulgur wheat salad) (vegan) and Simple wellness salad with endives, feta, clementines and pumpkin seeds.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Smoked salmon and scrambled egg on toasted bun

A really nice and fast to make breakfast. I make these whenever I have extra salmon or burger buns around and they're such a nice treat! :).
The idea is not my own, it's a pretty classic combination. Ideal for a brunch too. Enjoy.
Example of a recipe source: here.
P.S: Whoever first came up with the idea of brunch was a genius. I love this kind of food start after a late night or a party of sorts. 

Last year: Peanut butter cookies (American).
Two years ago: Cranberry and walnut scones (Southern USA style).
Three years ago: Zucchini and caraway salad with parsley and lemon salad.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Palak Dal (Indian Lentil and Spinach Curry) (vegan)

A simple, very light and intensely curried stew of green lentils and fresh spinach. Surprisingly good even for people who don't usually enjoy vegetables or in particular lentils and spinach. This dish could be a good start to changing their minds.
Enjoy :)
Recipe adapted mainly from here

Last year: Mint and carrot tzatziki (raw).
Two years ago: Eggplant croquettes (fritters) with spicy-sour yogurt sauce.
Three years ago: Fast baby pasta with creamy Parmesan and pea sauce and Pasta con pomodoro (Italian simple tomato sauce pasta).

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Nutella hot chocolate with hazelnut liquor

What's better than hot chocolate to warm you up? Well, some hot chocolate spiked with a little alcohol. Or some hot chocolate with a delicious addition of Nutella. This here is both :D. What a lovely way to start the year, eh? Cheers.
Recipe inspired from here

Last year: Spinach and chickpea soup with chorizo.
Two years ago: Pollo alla cacciatora (Hunter's chicken stew) (Italian).
Three years ago: Fried carp with polenta and garlic sauce (Moldavian/Romanian).

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