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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Orange and poppy seed cake with chocolate topping

A fluffy but dense sponge cake full of poppy seeds and orange flavor. A dripping chocolate sauce spooned over its top, and a generous sprinkling of candied chopped orange peels on top of the sauce. The ideal way to end a spring afternoon :).

The way to make this is pretty much on the easy side, so it will be a pretty relaxed baking session. Enjoy :)
Recipe adapted from here.

Last year: Red onion, garlic and olive Flammkuchen.
Two years ago: Cous cous and pomegranate spicy salad (vegan).
Three 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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pajeon (Korean green onion pancakes)

Another Korean dish that highlights eggs and green onions (the other one is Gyeran-Jim), this time more pancake-like and strongly flavored with soy sauce. 
The delicious magical sauce (and I now think of the times when the British had just discovered it and made all sorts of speculations about it, like the fact that the Chinese were supposedly making it out of beetles :D) is added in the batter of the pancakes, as well as served next to them and the way it tastes it almost overwhelming and wonderful. Since it's a big component of the final taste, make sure you use a really high-quality soy sauce. 
Ready in no time and absolutely delicious. :)
Recipe source: here.

Last year: Eggplant, pomegranate and chickpea cous cous (vegan).
Two years ago: Mechouia salad (roast vegetables and tuna) (Tunisian).
Three years ago: Zucchini and coconut muffinsMelanzane alla parmigiana (Italian) and Pancetta and artichoke pizza.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sweet potato spicy wedges with guacamole (Mexican and Tex-Mex) (vegan)

This is a classic Mexican and Tex-Mex starter, using flavorful sweet potatoes with the fresh and spicy guacamole. You can make a bowl of these as a starter for friends at a party or enjoy it as a main course in two. Just remember to take off your sombreros to the deliciousness of the combination :).

Last year: Sticky banana and maple syrup cake bars.
Two years ago: Cheddar and leek muffins.
Three years ago: Asian white fish (pangasius) fillet with sesame noodlesRuladă de pui cu spanac (Romanian chicken and spinach roulade) and Green pasta and pesto souffle (gratin).

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Strawberries and cream biscuits (scones)

Strawberries and cream biscuits. Cookies. Scones. Call them whatever. The point is that unlike most other strawberry cookies, these really taste like the cream too, not just like the strawberries. And we all know how gloriously delicious that combination is, don't we?
As if that wasn't enough to make anyone want to jump them, these little wonders have another perk: the little strawberry bits in them don't dry out like in most similar cookies, but get juicy-melty and create a wonderful and tasty mess. All in a cream-infused cake mass that doesn't contain that much sugar, to allow the flavors of strawberries and cream to really shine. This is the stuff that dreams are made of :)

They're crumbly and delicious. I honestly don't think they can be better by any means. Oh.. wait. Yes they can, perhaps. By adding a little whipped cream to take the whole thing into the abyss of cookies-and-cream perfection:

Recipe source: the wonderful Deb @ Smitten Kitchen

Last year: Paprikás Csirke (Chicken Paprikash) (Hungarian).
Two years ago: Mini Nutella and walnut pies.
Three years ago: Caribbean romance (cocktail)Mousse au chocolat (French chocolate mousse) and Carrot bread (with walnuts).

Monday, March 17, 2014

Irish nettle soup

The nettles are one of the most valuable and neglected spring harvests. And it's a shame, given their lovely detox and mineral replenishing properties. 
So today I'm bringing forth this lovely recipe, in honor of both the installing spring and St Patrick's Day :). A green, green soup from The Green Isle. Keep your eyes on the nettle harvest which will hit the markets soon (if it hasn't already) and try it. It will be simple to make and delicious :).
Recipe source: Darina Allen, via Saveur.

Last year: Colcannon (Irish mashed potatoes and greens).
Two years ago: Turkey pieces in emmentaler sauce.
Three years ago: Orange caramel pastry windmillsParmesan cream potatoes and Vegetarian chili tacos with avocado salsa (Mexican).

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Red beans and rice (Creole Louisiana version)

The "red beans and rice" dish is really iconic to the Southern culture of the United States, to its Creole community and beyond it. It was traditionally made on Mondays in a large pot and served to a crowd. There are still a lot of pubs in the area that have this staple in their menus every Monday. 
My dear Louis Armstrong considered this his favorite dish and he used to famously sign his autographs with "red beans and ricely yours, Louis Armstrong". :)
Similar dishes are popular throughout the world. That is probably because the combination of beans and rice is not only delicious, but also very inspired: when paired, the two create a more complex protein that usually lacks from the diet of the poor (who can't afford meat), and thus dishes like this prevented a lot of deficiencies. 
Returning to the dish here, it may or may not contain smoked meat (some smoked hock or sausage, added in the beans while they cook or at the end, on top of the dish). It's usually cooked on the mild side of spices, but served next to a bottle of hot sauce (as I also did, see above). The rice is mounded up in the middle of the plate, while the bean mixture is spooned around it. I really liked it. :) Enjoy.

Last year: Smoked trout, fennel, apple and beet salad.
Two years ago: Garlic soup with chorizo and mustard (Czech).
Three years ago: Cream liquor cocktailGreen apple and peanut butter muffins and Brie, walnut and caraway salad.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Spinach, green onion and ricotta mini phillo pockets (Spanakopita triangles) (Greek-style)

I feel that I should start this post with a "sorry" for the shadow there in the picture. I should have stepped back a bit while zooming in, but honestly the smell was so nice I felt compelled to lean forward to inhale it better, and the same smell is responsible for why I haven't made more pictures other than this one. :)
But if you make the recipe and taste them, you'll more than understand the circumstances :)
The idea is not my own, lots of people around the internet have their takes on making individual triangle-shaped pockets out of the classic Spanakopita, but I thought replacing the traditional feta with a creamier ricotta would be an interesting twist. And indeed, I didn't regret my choice. The triangles came out way fluffier, creamier and also lighter than I expected. You'll see what I'm talking about :).
So let's cut to the chase and show you how it's done. Enjoy.

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

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mohnstrudel (Poppy seed strudel) (German)

One of the German classics. I, for one, am a huge fan of strudels with their crispy flaky buttery textures, and an even greater fan of poppy seeds in almost anything. This makes what you see above one of my personal favorites. It looks more complicated to make than it actually is, so have my word on it and give it a try :). You'll pat yourself on the back for it once you take the first bite.
Hint: it's great both warm and cold, especially with milk for breakfast.

Last year: Tomato soup with mini mozzarella and chili.
Two years ago: Simple coconut brownies.
Three years ago: Smoked salmon salad with egg, rucola and avocadoOrange bread with chocolate swirl filling (Romanian cozonac, low sugar version)Wild and red rice with bell pepper and almonds

Monday, March 10, 2014

Kelewele (Spicy fried plantains) (Ghanaian) (vegan)

The staple dish with plantains (you can replace them with regular bananas if you can't find any) from Ghana. The plantains are sliced, imbued with a certain selection of spices, then pan-fried until hot and crispy. 
You can use it as a side dish for a heartier main, or as a meal by itself. Super-fast and easy to make. Enjoy. :)

Last year: Sfințișori moldovenești (Mucenici) (Moldavian/Romanian).
Two years ago: Simple coconut brownies.
Three years ago: Italian sunset (cocktail), Amaretto (almond liquor) cupcakes and Chicken and avocado salad.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

African tomato and peanut soup (Ghanaian) (vegan)

This is not your regular recipe for tomato soup. In Ghana, peanut paste (peanut butter) is added to the tomato soup to add body and flavor and just a touch of thickness. The result is the smoothest soup you've ever tasted, with a wonderful balance of sour, sweet and earthly flavors. Also, it's very fast and easy to make. Enjoy. :)
Recipe source: here.

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

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Camembert and caper Flammkuchen

Another version I created based on the original Flammkuchen. With melt-y Camembert cheese slices and added capers for a twist. The smell of it when I took it out of the oven was the kind of thing to make you really hungry even if you weren't so much so in the first place. :)

Last year: Artichoke crostini.
Two years ago: Sweet potato, wild mushroom and guacamole wraps.
Three years ago: Orange jam&liquor Linzer torte (Austrian/German and Hungarian), Goat cheese salad with paprika dressing and Easy chicken tacos with guacamole.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fluffy American pancakes (basic recipe)

Today is Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, or in more laymen terms, International Pancake Day. Before Ash Wednesday, or entering into the lent period before Easter, people traditionally eat a lot of fatty and rich foods to get their fill before fasting. :) In old and almost forgotten Romanian tradition, the day is called "Lăsata Secului", which roughly means the Descending of the dry-out, sort-of like nightfall descending but instead of night you have "sec", aka dry-out, barrenness. Brace yourselves for lent, in other words :). Also, in many parts of the world, it's traditional to eat pancakes specifically, not just rich foods (the Romanian version of the holiday also features pancakes as central). 
So I thought this just might be a good opportunity to share with you my ground recipe for American pancakes. The quick guide to the fluffiest American pancakes possible. :)
An American pancake is somewhat opposed to the larger and much thinner French-style crepes (European pancakes) and their charm lies precisely in their fluffiness. :)
There is much room to improvise starting from these. I can think of various things to put inside the batter and various things to top them with. I'll leave it up to everyone to find their favorite fillings/toppings. Meanwhile, if you were wondering how to fluff up your pancakes and mornings, here's a good start.
P.S: After making a batch of unfilled, basic pancakes, just like the ones above, I usually simply serve them with some berry jam and a little cream. ;)
Recipe source: here.

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

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Grilled Romaine salad with honey-mustard dressing

If you haven't heard of grilled salad before and you think it sounds like a bad idea, your world is about to be expanded. Just give it a try, and then marvel at your previous level of prejudice. :)
Easy-peasy to make and wonderful while it's still hot. Enjoy. 

Last year: Spaghetti aglia e olio e peperoncino (Italian) (vegan).
Two years ago: Mini chicken skewers (oven-baked) with satay sauce (Indonesian).
Three years ago: Peanut butter hot chocolate milk, Chicken with peanut butter sauce (Thai) and Pigs in a blanket (British).

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