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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mâncare de gutui cu pui (Chicken and quince stew) (Romanian)

This is a stove-top stew of chicken breast fillet and quince slices covered in a caramelized syrup. It's not as sweet as it sounds and still qualifies as a savory stew, but the flavor the quince can impart onto anything is absolutely delicious and makes the dish special. Other Eastern-bound cuisines feature the combination between meat and quinces also, even if in the Western parts of the world this fruit is used mainly in desserts. Try it and be pleasantly surprised. 

Recipe source: here and from my memories of other versions I've had in friends' homes. My mother only made this dish once or twice (it's not really our fave), but she knows it well also, because my grandmother used to make it quite often. :)

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

Monday, April 27, 2015

Wholemeal raspberry shortbread sandwich cookies with lemon drizzle

The only thing better than shortbread cookies are wholemeal shortbread cookies. Not only in terms of health, but the taste is actually better and nuttier if you use wholemeal flour, and no, it doesn't matter if there's no trace of regular flour in them whatsoever. They will still be buttery and melt-in-your-mouth good, with a subtle walnut flavor and all the health benefits of wholemeal flour. :)
But the way to really make shortbread cookies shine is to pair them together with a sweet filling to create sandwich cookies. This is precisely what was done here, with raspberry jam :). And to top things off, why not add some drops of lemon drizzle (glaze) on top while we're at it? :D
As a final note, I must mention I took these to school with me just as they were done, and my fellow TAs finished them on the spot, as soon as I opened up the cookie box. :)
Recipe adapted from here

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

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Japanese salmon and avocado rice (deconstructed sushi)

Soy glazed baked salmon. On a bed of lemony rice. With lemon-sprinkled chopped avocado. And fresh chives (or green onion). Just like a salmon sushi roll, only deconstructed. :)

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

Everyday muesli chocolate cake

I wanted to make a very non-fancy and down-to-Earth cake for mid-week night baking and for having a nice breakfast for 3 days or so. And I think one of the nicest ways to make a slice of chocolate cake acceptable for breakfast is by merging it with muesli, so that's just what I did. It turned out to be much more of a good idea than expected. :) 
The cake isn't very rich and the chocolate ganache on top is the only indulgent touch about it. I, for one, think it's the perfect balance between a breakfast cake and a delicious splurge. And the friends who tasted it loved it. :) Enjoy!

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

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Little ham and pesto pancakes

These little pancakes are delicious, fast to make and quite consistent, which makes them ideal for a late brunch or an urgent snack for a looong day ahead :). They're made with little ham cubes, flavored with pesto and herbs and packed with melted Gouda. Ideally served next to a handful of fresh salad leaves kicked up with a bit of balsamic glaze (or plain balsamic vinegar).

Last year: Prăjituri cu cremă de lămâie (Lemon cream cake squares) (Romanian).
Two years ago: Roasted lamb back-straps in red wine sauce.
Three years ago: Sincronizadas with cheddar, turkey ham and guacamole (Mexican).
Four 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).

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mushroom-olive tacos with spring garlic and onions (vegan) (Mexican-style)

A delicious taco needn't be heavy or drowning in melting cheese in order to be delicious. Try this recipe and see for yourself when you feel like a little detoxing or on an important lent day (I made these on the Great Friday although we don't observe lent usually, but on that day we would feel a bit awkward if we didn't). 
Of course, that doesn't mean that we don't favor a lot of vegan and raw vegan dishes the rest of the time, we just don't consider it a lent-ing habit :) 
Anyway, back to the recipe. It's perfect for spring (it uses green garlic), it's bursting with different textures and flavors, it uses a little truffle-flavored oil for an intensified mushroom taste and it had a specific balsamic tang. You'll love it.

Last year: Tzatziki kritharaki salad (Greek orzo pasta salad).
Two years ago: Mixed seeds and honey crunchy hearts.
Three years ago: Baked Brie en croute with apples and thyme (French).
Four years ago: Simplest veggie noodle soup (vegan)Caramelized onion and green garlic pizzaFruit skewers with molten double chocolate and Creamy pasta with green onions, muhrooms and ham (very light).

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Tempura shrimp with soy-and-vinegar glaze (Japanese)

Tempura isn't a type of food, but a way of preparing food in Japanese cuisine. It means battering various bits of food and frying them to a soft and pillowy perfection (completely different from the crunch of Western fried foods). Tempura can be made with both vegetables or meat (shrimp and chicken are the most common choices); for this, I used shrimp as well. Also, the soy and vinegar glaze is exactly the sauce you want to be drizzled over this.
You can see more about how to batter bits of food in tempura style, step by step, here.
Recipe adapted from here

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ants climbing a tree (Ma Yi Shang Shu) (Chinese)

A classic Sichuan dish (which means you can expect it to be quite spicy), ants climbing a tree really has a funny name. It allegedly comes from the ground pork meat which coats the long noodles in the dish, resembling ants slowly creeping on logs. Actually, the translation of the Chinese name of the dish (Ma Yi Shang Shu) can vary between multiple forms, including "ants creeping up a tree". :)

This quick and pretty easy to make dish is perfect even for busy weeknights, and if you make it yourself it will definitely be healthier and more delicious than take-out versions. Actually, even though ants in a tree is many people's takeout favorite, it is also among the easiest Chinese take ou dishes to make at home, so you should really consider saving yourself the money (and food additives) and just make it yourself. It won't take you much longer than waiting for the food delivery, I promise (especially if you use pre-cut veggies, either frozen or from the jar).

I love this dish mainly because of the glass noodles (which I'd have with almost anything), and usually, alternate between this traditional pork version and a chicken version. Enjoy the recipe. 
Recipe source: Saveur.

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

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Caribbean chicken with spring onion sauce

Fried spicy chicken the way it's made in the Caribbeans, served on a bed of rice and red beans, with a lime-chili and spring onion sauce on top. It's satisfying enough to be served as a main in any season, but the sauce on top makes it unexpectedly fresh. And it's precisely this kind of spicy-fresh combination that give the Caribbean cuisine its distinctive touch. 
So if you like Pina Coladas... (as a song I heard a couple of times would say)... then try another taste experience from the same geography. Enjoy! :)

Recipe source: here

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

Friday, April 10, 2015

Smoked butterfish with lemon-horseradish sauce on latkes

Latkes make an ideal base for smoked fish of all kinds, and to make the match even better I decided to mix a bit of lemon and horseradish into the cream usually served with latkes. Also, to make the latkes a bit lighter (since the fish is pretty fatty as well, even if they're healthy fats), I used Greek yogurt instead of creme fraiche.
 It was perfect, earthy and balanced. I prepared several platters of these for a party and they went out almost as soon as I brought them to the table. 

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

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Aloo Hing Ki Sath (Potatoes with asafetida) (Indian) (vegan)

This is a lovely Indian side or vegetarian main, heavily spiced up with green chili, cumin, asafetida powder and crushed peanuts in a lovely combination of flavors and textures :).
According to Saveur, author Paul Levy and his wife said that they habitually use this dish to introduce dinner guests to asafetida and its unusual, interesting, truffle-like flavor. Asafetida is a dried up latex from the root of a special plant, pungent when raw but which dried and ground becomes a lovely delicate spice used many times in the Indian cuisine. :)
Recipe source: Saveur.

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

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Vegan raspberry, cocoa and coconut marbled loaf cake (vegan)

For whenever you want a vegan baked dessert, either for dietary considerations or because of lent, this is the cake you should pick. The batter is divided in two and the white half is flavored with coconut, and the dark half is flavored with cocoa and raspberry jam. Both flavors are surprisingly intense and go very well together. 
What I love about it is the wavy pattern you get from alternating between the layers. I think it looks very lovely. The cake is tender and sweet and there's nothing you'll miss in its taste and texture. Give it a try. :)
P.S: I gave this cake to my friend Laura and she took it with her to a party. As soon as she arrived, I got a phone call and was invited insistently to that party although I wasn't a friend of those people. The cake is that nice :)
Recipe source: here.

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

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Piccata di pollo (Chicken piccata) (Italian)

One of the most popular and easy to make chicken dishes in the Italian cuisine. The dish is light and tangy, with a lemon and caper sauce over a fried chicken breast. Try it whenever you feel like something light or you're in a hurry.
Recipe source: here, mainly.

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

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