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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Moroccan mint tea (vegan)

The Moroccan mint tea is not just another kind of tea, it's an experience. That may sound like the dumbest cliche I've ever uttered, but the cultural significance and the everyday, almost ritualistic, presence of this drink makes it a cult icon for anyone passionate about exploring diversity. The tea serving ceremony almost matches the seriousness of the Japanese one. 
Last, but not least, it's also delicious. The mint flavor has an intensity that will blow you away, and the tea itself is a bit sweeter than what the average European is used to. I'm in love with it. 
Recipe sources: here and here.
More on the cultural background and importance of the drink: here and here.

Last year: Potage Parmentier (Leek and potato soup) (French).
Two years ago: Pork bites in sweet and sour sauce (Thai-style).
Three years ago: Teriyaki salmon fillets (Japanese)Mushroom, pickled cucumber and cheese saladDanish pastries with strawberry / cream cheese filling and Green pasta with Jamon serrano, Parmesan, mozzarella and olives.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Moroccan cous cous salad (vegan)

One of the best-known salads from Moroccan cuisine, ever present at salad bars and in my kitchen during mid-week meals and lunch packs. :). I absolutely love this salad and it's one of the few things I would eat again and again with no signs of boredom whatsoever. Enjoy :)

Last year: Cauliflower and potato curry (Indian) (vegan).
Two years ago: Mâncare de mazăre (My mom's pea stew) (Romanian) (vegan).
Three years ago: Ginger ale muffins / cupcakesThe magic mushroom and almond soup (with lemon balm melissa) (vegan) and Jamon serrano and shrimp tacos (Spanish-Mexican).

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Moroccan chickpea soup (vegan)

Another delicious way to enjoy chickpeas. A traditional Moroccan vegan recipe made with tomato puree and delicate spices (saffron and cumin), it warms and feeds the heart and the body. 
Recipe source: here

Last year: Green zmuti (leaf drink) (raw vegan).
Two years ago: Thai chicken and crab curry.
Three years ago: Spaghetti with olives, basil, red pesto and yellow tomatoesSalată de ardei copți (Roasted red pepper salad) (Romanian) and Pork salad (with olives, roasted peppers and Parmesan).

Friday, May 23, 2014

Prosciutto tortellini with slow-simmered salsa and garlic chips

Prosciutto-filled tortellini. A spicy and slow simmered salsa infused with garlic that coats the tortellini. Everything topped with some extra prosciutto, fried and crisp, and garlic chips. You're welcome. :)

Last year: Malibu banana bread (with rum, raisins and coconut).
Two years ago: Tortilla pizza with wild boar ham and bell pepper.
Three years ago: Truffle cake (Belgian)Spicy potato and cheese fritters and Asparagus, sun-dried tomato, cheese and olive bread.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Baguette aux radis, beurre et sel (Raw radish, butter and salt baguette) (French)

The French love mixing pink radishes with butter, either in their raw form (like the case here) or even by cooking them together. Indeed, fewer combinations were ever more inspired - the butter releases hints and flavors in the radishes that would otherwise pass unnoticed. I really, really love this. Next time you feel like a sandwich, try this. It's tres bon. :)
Recipe sources: here and here.

Last year: Spanakopita (spinach and feta pie) (Greek).
Two years ago: Cucumber salad with poppy-seed vinaigrette (raw vegan).
Three years ago: Mexican corn-cakes with avocado-scallion salsa and refried beansCrispy baked chicken with Teriyaki sauce and Potato and herring salad.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Chicken Alfredo pasta (Italian-American)

This is what happens when you take the classic Alfredo sauce for pasta and mix it with shredded chicken breasts. Everything gets melted and rich and delicious. Served over plain pasta, like here, or by itself, with bread, rice etc. The Chicken Alfredo is a staple in many Italian-American restaurants nowadays. It's a tad too rich to have on a regular basis, but lovely and a must-try indulgence every now and then. 

Last year: Tuna, red onion and sesame wraps.
Two years ago: Crepes with macadamia cream and lychees.
Three years ago: Dulce de lecheSweet tart crust and Mini tarts with dulce de leche and red currants.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Almond and khaki (persimmon) tart(s)

Crunchy tart with a soft almond-khaki-rum filling, topped with more fresh khakis. It's a yummy and exotic combination. 
I made this the weeks before the birth of my Mira, waiting for her to arrive. I remember how anxious I was and how I used to just stay at home and talk to my mother and Bogdan about it. Making this sweet tart was one of the things that relaxed me a bit.
It may look complicated, but almost anyone could make it. So don't fret, it's easier than it looks. :)

Last year: Eggplant-tomato-pepper cous cous with mozzarella
Two years ago: Basic pancakes (crepes) (Romanian).
Three years ago: Focaccia with garlic oil, rosemary and yellow tomatoes (Italian) (vegan)Avgolemono (Greek chicken, lemon and egg soup) and Rice and hazelnut spicy colorful salad (vegan).

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mozzarella in carozza (Italian fried sandwiches)

To us the name of this traditional Italian appetizer is very funny - our languages resemble one another so much that the term "carozza" with a "u" instead of the "o" exists in Romanian too and it means "cart", (the same thing it means in Italian too); but to us it's funnier because the sight of such a rustic cart that is only used in very poor and isolated villages is very rare and quite funny.
Cutting a long story short, these are some mozzarella sandwiches that the Italians cut in triangles, dip in egg and coat with breadcrumbs only to fry them moments later in hot oil till they become golden and crispy on the outside and melted and gooey on the inside. :)
They were delicious. Best served with some tomato slices and basil leaves, like in the famous Insalata Caprese. Enjoy :)
Recipe source: mainly Saveur, but also others.

Last year: Boulangère potatoes (French).
Two years ago: Grasshopper hot chocolate.
Three years ago: Veronique chicken salad (French)Semolina milk pudding with pear-cardamom puree and honey and Polenta with sour cream and cheese (Romanian).

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Crushed peas with smoky sesame dressing

A lovely idea I first saw at Deb and did not regret trying. If you're wondering what else to do with tahini beside the obvious hummus or cookies, here's a nice thing to try. Use it in a creamy dressing for peas (or other beans, if you want to return to the classic chickpea-tahini combo). Using it for peas though gives it an unexpectedly fresh and green note. It was surprising and beyond lovely :). It's ready in under 10 minutes and the whole thing can be served on pita bread, as shown above. Delicious!
Recipe a bit adapted from: Deb's Smitten Kitchen.

Last year: Strawberry and white chocolate mousse cake (no bake).
Two years ago: Carrot and feta rosti (fritters) with raita (Indian-style).
Three years ago: Lemon panacota with orange caramel and vanilla panacota with strawberries (Italian)Pasta Primavera (Italian-American) and Lemon balm cream trout with baked asparagus.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Potatoes with za'atar (Middle Eastern) (vegan)

This is a common way to prepare potatoes in Middle Eastern kitchens: by cubing them, mixing them with the lovely za'atar spice blend and gently frying them in olive oil to a soft consistency. It can be used as a main or as a side. Great for snacking too. It's one of my fave comfort foods, and since I always have a bag of za'atar around, it's easy to make this when I run out of other things to eat :). Enjoy.

Last year: Puff pastry fast pea and dill quiche.
Two years ago: Carrot and feta rosti (fritters) with raita (Indian-style).
Three years ago: Karaage (Tatsutaage) (Japanese fried chicken)Horiatiki salata (Greek salad with tomatoes, feta, red onion and kalamata olives) and Beefsteak with spicy butter and wedges.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Strawberry summer cake

Since strawberry season is approaching rapidly, I'm thinking what I bet everyone else is also thinking: "need more strawberry recipes", or "hmmm I can hardly wait for strawberry cake". Well, fret no more, I've got just the thing to open up the season: this casual everyday cake, easy and relaxing to make, but oh-so-good. 
A great way to use strawberries. Casual but pretty enough to serve to guests. Fresh strawberry halves are inserted into a smooth batter, in a decorative way, then sprinkled with sugar. During baking, the sugar-sprinkled strawberries turn into jam within the cake. After taking it out, dust it with some vanilla powder sugar for the last touch of summery perfection. :) You're welcome.
Recipe source: Smitten kitchen.

Last year: Spring pasta with avocado and goat cheese.
Two years ago: Turkey bites in Brie and walnut sauce with grapes.
Three years ago: Frigănele (Romanian savory French toast)Rosemary marinated and fried potatoes with lemon (vegan) and Thyme, pepper and lemon spicy olive oil cookies.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Bacon corn hash (American)

"Hash" as it's casually called is a typical American comfort-food, prepared mainly in private homes. It's usually seen as a solution for dealing with left-overs, but it has made a more glamorous come-back in recent years as a canvas for gourmet combinations.
It consists of mainly meat and potatoes, diced, and cooked together with other ingredients - like onions or other vegetables. Sometimes - as I did here as well - it's served with a fried egg on top, turning it into more of a breakfast dish. Its name comes from the French "hacher", which means to chop. 
Here, the potatoes are accompanied by some bacon (as "the meat" in the classic picture), green onions (instead of regular ones, for a touch of freshness), and some corn kernels for an additional crunch.
Recipe adapted from: the Smitten Kitchen.

Last year: Fennel and Camembert pocket pies in spelt pastry.
Two years ago: Turkey bites in Brie and walnut sauce with grapes.
Three years ago: Spaghetti with sesame oil, shiitake and chickenGnocchi with thyme-butter sauce and browned cauliflower (Italian) and Red wine baby shrimps with olive and tomato quinoa.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Greek marinated artichokes (vegan)

If you ever wondered how to prepare Greek marinated artichokes at home, here's a list of the ingredients needed, so you never have to buy the pre-made jars again :). Once they're done, you can use these flavored artichoke hearts in tons of recipes, ranging from pastas to pizzas and so on, or just serve them as an appetizer (meze) on their own. Happy canning! 

Last year: Baby spinach cream soup with truffle oil (vegan).
Two years ago: Wholewheat pasta with raw roots.
Three years ago: French fries with red onion (vegan)Spicy stuffed eggs (with herbs and mushrooms) and White chocolate and basil cream cups with balsamic strawberries (Italian).

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