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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pink grapefruit carpaccio with honey and cinnamon (raw vegan)

This is actually a combination of flavors I've discovered since long ago, long before I started cooking (back in college days when the honey and the cinnamon seemed to counterbalance the bitterness of grapefruit perfectly). I served it back then less artistically ;), eating honey and cinnamon with a teaspoon straight from their jars, but that's not a story to share here necessarily. 
A carpaccio is any arrangement of something raw (usually meats; most often fish) spread on a plate and generously sprinkled with a sauce (like citrus juices and spices). This way of preparing something usually "cooks" it chemically, allowing people to sample the dish raw. But vegetable or fruit carpaccios are another way to do it, and this here is one of the best you could ever start with :).
Carpaccio here, previously: with kohlrabi or with smoked salmon (Swedish-style).

Last year: Frangipane tart with kiwi and starfruit (Italian).
Two years ago: Creme brulee (French).
Three years ago: Simple chocolate brownies with walnutsCorn tortillas without masa harina (experiment) and Huevos rancheros (Mexican).

Monday, April 28, 2014

Bruschetta al pomodoro (Italian) (vegan)

A bruschetta is an Italian antipasto (starter) which always has grilled or toasted bread as a base (usually the bread is also rubbed with garlic and olive oil). Various toppings can then follow, but by far the best-known version of this dish is the one with tomatoes, presented here. 
According to food historians, the dish originates in Ancient Rome, which gives it a plus, to me at least. :)
It's really fast to make, light and delicious to eat, while it also makes for a pretty starter, so don't hesitate to try making it at home. Enjoy.

Last year: Obazda (German Camembert spread).
Two years ago: Endives filled with cheese sauce and cherry tomatoes.
Three years ago: Zaansemosterdsoep (Dutch mustard soup)Mushroom, cheese and thyme crostini and  Pizza con pollo e mascarpone (Italian).

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Capricciosa salad (Insalata capricciosa) (Italian)

This is a classic Italian salad one can find at many delis and salad bars all over the Western world. It contains crispy salad leaves with cubed bell peppers, celery root, ham and cheese and everything is dressed with a creamy mayo-yogurt sauce. Legend has it that this salad was designed in medieval times to please even the pickiest of noble ladies (the name capricciosa means picky lady) :). 
The freshly home-made version is of course the best :).

Last year: Spring potatoes with ramps and pine seeds.
Two years ago: Turpork (Romanian porcurcan).
Three years ago: Romanian Pasca (Easter cheese and egg cake) with raisins and Aloo Gobi (Cauliflower and potato) with rice and raita (Indian).

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tex-Mex turkey and guacamole burgers

Tex-Mex is a fusion cuisine from around the Texas and Mexico border. These burgers are made with ciabatta buns, filled with grilled turkey breast pieces (chicken works perfectly fine too), fired up with chili and Tabasco, wrapped in soft lettuce leaves and smothered with a generous helping of guacamole and sour cream to temper down the heat. 
Fire up the grill (well, in our case, heat the grill pan) and go! :)
Recipe slightly adapted from here (we used turkey meat instead of chicken because we prefer it).

Last year: Mint and pine sauce (raw vegan).
Two years ago: Brussel sprouts, poppy-seed and emmentaler gratin.
Three years ago: Fried turkey pieces with rosemary, thyme, lemon and green garlicRosemary baked potatoes with green garlicThree-cheese pasta with rucola, hazelnuts and sesame.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Prăjituri cu cremă de lămâie (Lemon cream cake squares) (Romanian)

A crispy biscuit-like base, a creamy lemony layer on top, and plenty of powdered sugar dust on top. A classic cake bar recipe made in many Romanian homes in the past 40-50 years. I remember my mom and my aunts and my schoolmates' moms making these squares when I was a kid and they were always in my top favorites. :)
Recipe source: this written link + my mom.

Last year: Roasted lamb back-straps in red wine sauce.
Two years ago: Sincronizadas with cheddar, turkey ham and guacamole (Mexican).
Three years ago: Ricotta and black olives crostini (Italian)Carrot, ginger and caramel marmaladeQuick fried banana breakfast (Kewra-flavored) and Simple black and white loaf cake (cozonacel).

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mâncare de urzici (Romanian nettle stew)

When the young nettles arrive at the market in spring, this is the traditional dish Romanians cook to get the best out of their detoxifying properties. After blanching them in hot water for a few minutes, the nettles are creamed in a pan and served next to scrambled eggs. The combination between the delicate herbal taste of the nettles, enriched with garlic and cream, and the eggs is one of those pairings that seem meant to be (like tomatoes and mozzarella and so on).  
I tended to avoid both greens and cooked food while I was a child and a teen, but I would never say no to this whenever my mom made it. Maybe because it was only available for two or three weeks a year. Or maybe just because it's that good :).

Last year: Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon (cocktail).
Two years ago: Blueberry and carrot smoothie (raw vegan).
Three years ago: Coffee-marinated chickenFennel and walnut ricotta-filled muffinsThe Ratatouille from the movie Ratatouille and Tofu Parmigiana (Italian).

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Radish, smoked salmon and orange salad (raw)

Spring is definitely here, so we all tend to opt for lighter and fresher fare. Therefore, I decided it would be a good time to share this. Another raw salad that combines fruit and vegetables with the delicious smoked salmon everyone loves. The combo is good in terms of nutrition, in terms of flavor and in terms of color :). Enjoy.
Recipe adapted from here

Last year: Asparagus, mint and lemon risotto
Two years ago: Elder-flower-rum cream tartelettes with raspberries.
Three years ago: Salmon Smorrebrod (Danish)Upside-down banana cake with raisins and walnuts and Chinese-style pork sesame balls.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sweet-and-sour chicken stir-fry (Chinese-American)

The classic sweet-and-sour chicken stir-fry from the Chinese cuisine. It may not be super authentic in China and it's more of a product of the American-Chinese cuisine, but it's definitely one of the most popular choices in Chinese restaurants in Europe. 
The chicken bits are cooked with lots of flavorful veggies and sauces that take the whole dish at its well-known level of deliciousness. It's not at all hot, which is a bit unusual for Chinese cuisine (especially the Sczechuan cuisine), but I guess that's because the dish was designed to suit the Western palates better. Anyway, it's a pretty healthy, quick and lovely dinner. Enjoy.

Last year: Casa Dragones Guacamole (Mexican) (raw vegan).
Two years ago: Green pasta with red peppers and wild duck ham.
Three years ago: Aubergine and zucchini pizzaMarinated pork chops with balsamico glaze and Pasta peperonata (Bell pepper rigatoni) (Italian).

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fluffy fried bananas with lemon posset (cream) and sesame

This was a really special treat for us. First of all, we love fried bananas in almost any company, but the creaminess and lemon flavor of the posset and the crunchiness of the sesame seeds paired up the bananas beautifully. So while batter fried bananas are pretty great on their own, when you pair them with a light lemony cream, the whole thing gets worthy of a royal table. And it's really not an overstatement. 
The idea to make lemon posset as a lighter version of the lemon curd came from here.
Most recipes that use sesame seeds in either sweet or savory combinations require you to pre-toast the seeds (just dry fry them until golden and fragrant). We don't do that because raw seeds are healthier, but feel free to proceed however you prefer :)

Last year: Avocado salad with carrot-ginger dressing (vegan).
Two years ago: Tandoori oven-baked chicken (Indian).
Three years ago: Chicken and broccoli stir-fry with oyster sauceGougeres (French cheese puffs)Hazelnut and coffee chip cookies and Surimi and asparagus noodle salad.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Es Pokat (Indonesian Avocado Shake)

This sweet avocado-chocolate smoothie-like concoction is very popular in Indonesia and it's served both as dessert or as a mid-day snack. 
To our Europeanized palates, it tasted... interesting. Not exactly my cup of tea, but definitely interesting and worth having at least once. Enjoy :)
Recipe source: Saveur

Last year: Milk and poppy seed muffins.
Two years ago: Brie, potato and thyme pizza.
Three years ago:  Potato salad with pesto and mozzarella and Egg, avocado and bacon breakfast spicy bagels.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Indonesian potato and spinach curry

A lovely one-pan food with lots of fire and exotic spices. Quite light but highly flavorful and warm. Make the most with spring new potatoes by trying this for your next dinner. :)
Recipe source: here.

Last year: Bouneschloupp (Green bean and ham soup) (Luxembourgian).
Two years ago: Crispy pizza crust (vegan).
Three years ago: Pickled red onions and Linguine alla matriciana with zucchini.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Polenta and corn muffins

The ultimate picnic fare, since we're entering a full-scale spring. :D
Delicious savory muffins with fried onions and corn kernels scattered through a lovely polenta-like base made with yogurt, Gouda and chili flakes. 
Great comfort food and hunger-fighters so they're ideal as a take-away snack during the day.
Recipe adapted from BBC's Good Food.

Last year: Garlic, chili, lemon and olive spaghetti (vegan).
Two years ago: Apple tart with honey and almond flakes (very light).
Three years ago: Tortellini with white wine sauce and tofuSimple artichoke dip and Aloo Baingan (Indian)(vegan)

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