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Monday, September 29, 2014

Beef and bamboo shot soup (Filipino)

This is one of the best Asian soups you could have. It's not too spicy (for those of you who are reluctant to Asian cuisine because of this), but full of flavor from the slow cooking of the beef and the bamboo shots (I really love those) and the ginger and the pepper and the fish sauce :). (I got enthusiastic all over again just by reading this list). The point is that the ingredients are simple and few (again, for an Asian recipe), but the result is amazing. Do try it.
Recipe source: here.

Last year: Crispy chili beef with broccoli (stir-fry)
Two years ago: Green tree (cocktail).
Three years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

Friday, September 26, 2014

Shopska salad (Bulgarian salad)

The most well-known product of Bulgarian cuisine. During the early communist times in Bulgaria, the regime wanted to create a "local" cuisine impressive enough to woo foreigners that visited the country. Some dishes were created by the hired chefs and were usually named after certain areas and regions of the country. Many of these dishes were salads, but somehow only the Shopska salad survived the era. After you taste it it will be obvious why so. The combination of flavors is no-brain simple, finger-snapping-ly fast to assemble and drop-dead delicious :).

Last year: Mushroom and baby corn soba noodles (vegan).
Two years ago: Truffle potato mash and Salată asortată (Romanian assorted salad) (raw vegan).
Three years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bob chorba (Bulgarian bean soup) (vegan)

Bob chorba is one of the most well-spread Bulgarian national dishes. The vegetarian version (presented here) is sometimes called the "monastery version" because convent communities often keep a meatless lent. Nevertheless, sometimes various kinds of meat are added to the soup. You can find out more out the accepted variations and ingredients by following the wiki link above. What I liked most about this soup was the touch of fresh summer savory (a type of thyme) and of fresh mint. It really gives the regular bean soup an interesting and delicious touch which you've never encountered before in a bean soup. Enjoy.
Recipe source: here.

Last year: Caviar on mashed potatoes (Russian).
Two years ago: File Marajoara (Steak with melted cheese) (Brazilian).
Three years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Polenta, apple and dried fruit country cake (Italian-style)

This is a no-added-sugar and low-fat version of a country home cake typical to the South of Italy. Made with polenta flour, stale bread, olive oil and apples and sweetened with dried fruit like raisins and figs. A healthy alternative to richer cakes, perfect to serve at breakfast or as a mid-day snack, accompanied by milk, coffee or tea. 
Recipe slightly adapted from here (I added a little rum to moisten the fruits).
P.S: I cooked this on a spontaneous visit and all I had to take pictures with was a very old camera. In case you were wondering about the low quality pics.

Last year: Alivenci (Polenta cream cake bars) (Moldavian and Romanian).
Two years ago: Mascarpone marbled brownies.
Three years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dulceață de gutui (Romanian quince jam) (vegan)

Da yum. Quince jam isn't really that well-known in the Western world, since quinces themselves are sort of an exotic fruit, but both the fruit and the confection couldn't be more at home in the Romanian traditional kitchens :). 
The great thing about the jam is that it's made with regular sugar and not pectin-enhanced sugar, since the fruit is already naturally rich in pectin and the jam jellies up with no artificial help. This is as good and natural as jam gets, people. And it's insanely flavorful. And it's also a key ingredient in some foods, like sauces (the Italian mostarda vicentina) or tarts (the Argentinian pasta frola). So get yourself some quinces and get canning. Enjoy.
Recipe source: here.

Last year: Chicken and pomegranate molasses stew (Middle Eastern-style).
Two years ago:Penne alla vodka (Italian-American).
Three years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Gnocchi al Pesto (Italian)

Gnocchi are a type of soft potato-dough pasta or dumplings very loved in the Italian cuisine and Italian-influenced cuisines all over the world. The Italian immigrants often held on the gnocchi as a strong part of their "home" comforts and culinary identity, thus popularizing these little soft treats in whatever country they went to. 
A really delicious way of serving them is by slathering in rich freshly made pesto genovese (basil pesto). Easier to make than it seems. Enjoy.
Recipe source: Saveur.

Last year: Pizza Margherita (Italian).
Two years ago: Pickled carrots in salt brine with honey and mustard (vegan).
Three years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cypriot tomato salad (Greek)

A tomato salad the way they do it in Cyprus: flavored with olive oil and oregano (which is one of the most loved herbs in Greek cuisine) and a touch of red wine vinegar. Sprinkled with feta cheese crumbs on top. Delicious. Especially next to some Greek meze, like Saganaki for example. :)
Recipe source: Saveur.

Last year: Coconut corn salad.
Two years ago: Goat cheese rounds in prosciutto.
Three years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

Friday, September 12, 2014

Saganaki (Greek fried cheese)

Saganaki is one of the most well-known Greek meze (appetizers). The feta-like cheese is fried in olive oil, after it was lightly coated with some flour. (Some versions on the internet also add beaten egg to the coating, but using plain flour is more authentic.)
The exterior will be crunchy-melty, while the center stays firm but becomes warm and chewy. Once it reaches the plate, it's served with a drizzle of lemon juice on top. The result is surprisingly delicious for how little effort you put into it. Enjoy.
Recipe source: the Wiki cookbook

Last year: Goat cheese, lemon scallions and walnut tart.
Two years ago: Banana American pancakes with agave syrup and almonds.
Three years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Flourless apple brownies with walnuts and cinnamon

The flourless version of brownies, with walnuts and cinnamon-laced apple bits. The chocolate is half dark and the spicy apples and nuts make them very rich-flavored. Their texture is super-moist and way closer to fudge than to regular cake (given the lack of flour), and I would gladly make them again over and over. The company enjoyed them a lot too ;).
If you're looking for another flourless chocolate cake, but maybe something a bit more festive and impressive (though equally easy to make), try this cake with choco-whiskey sauce. ;)
Recipe adapted from Roxana.

Last year: Muffins using only wholemeal flour (with raisins and chocolate).
Two years ago: Mimosa (cocktail).
Three years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Goat cheese and poppy seed dip

Another lovely way to use poppy seeds in savory snacks. After discovering the poppy seed vinaigrette (like here or here), this is definitely my newest obsession with poppy seeds. And the creamy goat cheese that welcomes them and their charming crunch is... well, you know how goat cheese is. Flavorful. Truffled. Cloudy. Lovely. In this case, the dip was also twinked with some lemon and pepper. And the whole thing was served with freshly oven-baked pita chips and some rucola leaves. 
The flavors come together perfectly. And it takes almost no time at all to make. Enjoy :)

Last year: Spicy bean and avocado tostadas (Mexican) (vegan).
Two years ago: Breakfast croissants with Gouda cheese crust.
Three years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Home-made pita chips (vegan)

Making your own healthy chips for dipping in whatever sauce you're planning to make is really easier than you might think. And by making the chips at home instead of buying them from the supermarket you skip lots of salt. Tens of grams of salt. Way more salt than you'd ever want to have in your blood stream at a time. :) 
Considering that these home-made chips only take a few minutes to make, I'd say it's worth it. And as a bonus, they're also an ideal way to use up stale pitas instead of discarding them. And no store-bought snack can match the charm of warm chips freshly taken out of the oven. :)

Last year: Pesto and caper focaccia (Italian) (vegan).
Two years ago: Tomato gratin provencal with garlic butter baguette.
Three years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

Thursday, September 4, 2014


A Cappuccino spiked with a generous addition of my favorite coffee liquor, Kahlua (the same one used for my beloved White Russian). The perfect cross-breed between a hot milk drink, a coffee with a pick-me-up kick and a slightly alcoholic punch. Warms up your hands and your lips. Puts a smile on. :)
Hello autumn. Forever autumn (as a side note and pop culture reference, I just love that song from Lake of Tears ^^).
Idea adapted from here.

Last year: Pindi chana (Spicy chickpea curry) (Indian) (vegan).
Two years ago: Sancocho (Chicken and root soup) (Puerto Rican).
Three years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Rogan Josh (Indian and Iranian beef/lamb stew)

There are times - like cold and dark days - when one feels like a warm stew. This one comes from the non-vegetarian minority in Indian gastronomy and it has Persian origins :). It's specific to the region of Kashmir in India, and known since ancient times in Iran. It's usually made with lamb, but beef is not an uncommon replacement. In Persian, "Rogan" means clarified butter or fat, while "Josh" means hot, heat or passionate :). "Rogan" also means the red color, stemming from the same Indo-European root which is the source for the French "rouge" or the Spanish "rojo". These little details make me inexplicably giddy :).
To get to the dish itself, it contains beef or lamb cubes slowly stewed in a tomato and spice pasta, enriched a bit with light yogurt, and all served on a bed of simple basmati rice. It takes a while to make, but it's one of the dishes where the long cooking time really pays off: the meat becomes more and more tender, and the flavors blend and fall in love with each other more and more. Enjoy :)
Recipe source: here.

Last year: Orrecchiete with onion and sage sauce.
Two years ago: Flammkuchen (Tarte flambée) (Alsacian).
Three years ago: Baby making and no cooking. :)

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