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Saturday, June 22, 2019

Gyabrag (Tibetan barley pancakes)

I started exploring Tibetan cuisine with the help of this book and I'm thrilled of the gems I discover. These pancakes made with barley flour and whey are a perfect example of the frugal but delicious culinary practices of the area. 
They are meant to be served with yak butter (I used buffalo butter, which I also used for making the Po cha drink from the high mountainous regions of Tibet). The butter is richer and more flavorful than the standard cow version, and melts onto the hot pancakes in an irresistible way.
Recipe source: Tibetan Customs.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Bacon, corn, pea and red bean hash.
Five years ago: Gorgonzola and mushroom pizza with wholemeal crust.
Six years ago: Kirmizi Mercimek Çorbasi (Turkish red lentil soup) (vegan).
Seven years ago: Mauve rice with bell peppers, carrots, olives and pine nuts (vegan).
Eight years ago: Spicy shrimp and wild rice soup (Chinese).

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Po cha (Butter tea) (Chinese, Nepali, Tibetan)

The mountains of Tibet and the neighboring regions (the high altitude areas of China and Nepal) are beautiful and harsh. The high altitude and the temperatures there are not easily withstood by most people. The local's secret? Among other things, the Po cha drink, made with a generous amount of yak butter. 

Mixing black tea with fat makes it less bitter and easy to digest, while the high amount of fats in the drink helps the human body cope with living at high altitudes. People drink several cups of this per day, and it's often a meal in itself - maybe just with some flatbread added. This is like Bulletproof coffee avant la lettre :). 

Since I couldn't find yak milk, I made it with the closest thing I could find - buffalo milk. It turned out surprisingly delicious. Keep an open mind though - the drink also contains a hefty dose of salt, so it's not the dessert-like tea or coffee you might be accustomed to. 

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Nutted cream cheese sandwich (American).
Five years ago: Whole wheat thin pizza crust (vegan).
Six years: Sauteed cod with pea cream (Italian).
Seven years ago: Pepitoritas (Mexican cajeta and pumpkin seed crescents).
Eight years ago: Straciatella cream pie (Italian).

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Cong You Bing (Chinese Scallion Pancakes) (vegan)

This dish of savory pancakes is one of the best known Chinese dishes outside of China. They're simple to make, delicious when dipped in a bit of soy sauce and extremely palatable / easy to enjoy for people of all culinary backgrounds.
Try them, I think they have a tendency to become a go-to in most kitchens once amateur cooks make them once :). 

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Mango bread (American).
Five years ago: Owsianka (Belarusian/Polish/Russian/Ukranian oatmeal breakfast).
Six years ago: Sangria (Spanish) (vegan).
Seven years ago: Cajeta (Goat milk caramel) (Mexican).
Eight years ago: Straciatella cream pie (Italian).

Friday, June 14, 2019

Uborkasalata (Cucumber salad) (Jewish-Hungarian) (vegan)

A fast and easy summer side salad from Hungary, brought to the local cuisine through the Jewish community. I tend to make it whenever preparing Hungarian mains, since it pairs well with almost everything, and the paprika powder fits right in.
Recipe source: here.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Buck's fizz (cocktail) (British) (vegan).
Five years ago: Minestrone (Italian vegetable soup).
Six years ago: Raspberry and marshmallow cake.
Seven years ago: Conchiglioni giganti con ricotta e limone (Italian).
Eight years ago: Straciatella cream pie (Italian)

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Mohn (Jewish poppy seed and lemon cookies) (Jewish from Polish-German diaspora)

The combination between crunchy poppy seeds and a citrus refreshing flavor is a classic. I usually have it in my go-to orange poppy seed muffins. This time, I made a classic recipe for Central European Jewish cookies, known as 'mohn' (the German name for poppy seeds). They're especially popular during the winter holidays.
Recipe source and more about their history: Girl With a Spoon

P.S: Happy birthday, mom! :)

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Spinach, goat cheese and kalamata olives pasta (Greek-style).
Five years ago: Horta me Avga Tiganita (Wild greens with fried egg) (Greek).
Six years ago: Orange pasta with eggplant and carrots (vegan).
Seven years ago: Cauliflower and soy croutons cream soup (vegan).
Eight years ago: Straciatella cream pie (Italian).

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Matzo Brei (Scrambled Eggs and Matzo) (Israeli Jewish)

This is a quick recipe for scrambled eggs using matzo (thin flatbreads), crumbled and mixed with the eggs. It adds extra body and a yummy salty taste to the resulting mass. 
Recipe source: here.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Red lentil, chickpea and chili soup (vegan).
Five years ago: Soufflé au citron (Quark and lemon souffle) (French).
Six years ago: Moroccan potato salad (vegan).
Seven years ago: Simple tomato gratin (Gratin Provencal).
Eight years ago: Stuffed baked avocados (Middle Eastern).

Friday, June 7, 2019

The John Oliver sandwich (New-York-style)

This sandwich became more famous after John Oliver popularized it, but the combo of goat cheese and olive paste (tapenade, borrowed from the French) has been a much older favorite in the New York area. Taste it and you'll see why :). 

Recipe source: Saveur.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Japchae (Korean fried noodles) (vegan).
Five years ago: Roasted white onions with breadcrumb crust (vegan).
Six years ago: Three color pizza with basil, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and avocado.
Seven years ago: Violet flame (cocktail).
Eight years ago: Stuffed baked avocados (Middle Eastern).

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Fig and goat cheese pizza (New York-style)

This pizza recipe is a classic find in New York delis, not just because it's made on a base of New York-style crust (thin and puffy), but also because of the choice of ingredients on top. Goat cheese and fresh fig slices, flavored with a touch of balsamico, create a delicious combination which became very popular in the New York area and other new-yorkese restaurants around the country. 
Recipe source: here (slightly adapted from).

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Courgette, pea and pesto soup (vegan).
Five years ago: Pui cu smântână (Romanian chicken and cream) (My mom's recipe).
Six years ago: Creamy coconut milk rice (vegan).
Seven years ago: Tagliatelle with tuna, lemon, rucola and pine seeds.
Eight years ago: Stuffed baked avocados (Middle Eastern).

Monday, June 3, 2019

Classic baked beans (American) (vegan)

The classic rendition of American baked beans, a staple which fed so many working people in real life and Western movies galore :). 
There are also beautiful improvements and variations of the classic recipe, across USA, neighboring countries or other countries of the world which have their own version of baked beans. I'll get to them as well, one by one, after covering this one.
Recipe source: The Bean Institute

Last year : nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Cous cous au beurre (Algerian-Jewish).
Five years ago: Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice).
Six years ago: Prosciutto-wrapped turkey fillets with early summer salad.
Seven years ago: Ganse Schmaltz Back-Kartoffeln (German goose fat baked potatoes).
Eight years ago: Stuffed baked avocados (Middle Eastern).

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Nutella and Amaretto Brown Butter Blondies

Another year has passed and it's Children's Day again in Romania. :)
Brown butter is a super-easy way to make almost any dessert more delicious, and it even works for savory dishes. It still tastes buttery, but also resembles walnut, and the butter taste gains a whole new level of depth. 

Naturally, blondies with brown butter are a great pairing. The dash of Amaretto liquor makes it even more amazing, and when you also add Nutella to the mix, the small bites of sweet stuff become addictive. 
Recipe source: here.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Sour cherry muffins with black and white chocolate chunks.
Five years ago: Poppyseed, honey and strawberry glaze Bundt cake.
Six years ago: Elder flower and vanilla syrup (vegan).
Seven years ago: Raw walnut-cocoa truffles with honey and cinnamon (raw vegan).
Eight years ago: Stuffed baked avocados (Middle Eastern).

Thursday, May 30, 2019

King Kamehameha bread (Hawaiian banana bread)

Hawaii has a very interesting cuisine, full of influences from so many other cultures and traces from its native culture still left. This banana bread, studded with macadamia nuts (a common staple in the island), is named after King Kamehameha, founder and first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
The bread is easy to make, crumbly and delicious.

I made it for a couple of friend's housewarming party and it was gone almost as soon as I sliced it. 
Recipe sources: One Perfect Bite and Honest Cooking.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Smoked salmon tartines with fried capers.
Five years ago: Moroccan mint tea (vegan).
Six years ago: Potage Parmentier (Leek and potato soup) (French).
Seven years ago: Pork bites in sweet and sour sauce (Thai-style).
Eight 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 28, 2019

Pao doce (Hawaiian and Portuguese sweet bread)

This is the basic Portuguese while fluffy bread, which the Portuguese have exported into numerous areas in their age of discovery, where it blended with local cuisine influences and was morphed into new forms. One such form is the lovely Japanese Shokupan.
The original Portuguese pao doce ("pao" means bread and "doce" means sweet) remained in its original form only in Portuguese and Hawaii, where it's a staple to this day. Most often it's made as rolls or buns, sometimes with a significantly sweet turn. Unless made specifically as desert and enriched with a filling or more sugar or a sweet topping, the bread is perfect as a dinner accompaniment, despite the sweet concept in its name. 
Recipe source: mainly here

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Quattro Stagioni pizza (Italian).
Five years ago: Moroccan cous cous salad (vegan).
Six years ago: Cauliflower and potato curry (Indian) (vegan).
Seven years ago: Mâncare de mazăre (My mom's pea stew) (Romanian) (vegan).
Eight 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 26, 2019

Baby spinach and chickpea salad with ginger dressing (vegan)

A salad that is both fresh from the green leaves and hearty enough from the chickpeas. A good match so far, both healthy and delicious, but if things would stop here it would still feel a bit... bland. Just like any other bean/chickpea and greens salad out there. 
But what makes this not an ordinary salad is the dressing. The glorious red onion and ginger dressing that makes every individual flavor in the salad both stand out and come together. Taste it once and you'll know the feeling. Enjoy :)

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Cucumber and radish salad with sesame vinaigrette (raw vegan).
Five years ago: Moroccan chickpea soup (vegan).
Six years ago: Green zmuti (leaf drink) (raw vegan).
Seven years ago: Thai chicken and crab curry.
Eight 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).

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Slaai (Swazi avocado and peanut salad) (vegan)

A quick to make avocado salad, fresh and delicious, native to the kingdom of Swaziland. The taste is enriched with a touch of fresh ginger and chopped roasted peanuts. 
If you're looking for something quick to throw together and you love avocado, this is just the thing.
Recipe source: here.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Piyaz (Turkish bean salad).
Five years ago: Prosciutto tortellini with slow-simmered salsa and garlic chips.
Six years ago: Malibu banana bread (with rum, raisins and coconut).
Seven years ago: Tortilla pizza with wild boar ham and bell pepper.
Eight years ago: Truffle cake (Belgian)Spicy potato and cheese fritters and Asparagus, sun-dried tomato, cheese and olive bread.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Racuchy z Jablkami (Polish Apple Pancakes)

This recipe of pancakes, containing grated apples in the batter, is a staple in Polish homes and one of the most delicious ways to enjoy breakfast. Simple enough to make, ready in under 10-15 minutes total prep + cooking time. 
The recipe below is for the traditional Polish version. But as an extra tip, try adding 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract to the batter, it pairs beautifully with the apples & cinnamon. 
Recipe sources: AllRecipes and Food52.

If you want to experiment with savory Polish pancakes, you can also try Lidnivikis (Cottage cheese dill pancakes) (Polish).

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Blackberry and coconut squares.
Five years ago: Baguette aux radis, beurre et sel (Raw radish, butter and salt baguette) (French).
Six years ago: Spanakopita (spinach and feta pie) (Greek).
Seven years ago: Cucumber salad with poppy-seed vinaigrette (raw vegan).
Eight years ago: Mexican corn-cakes with avocado-scallion salsa and refried beansCrispy baked chicken with Teriyaki sauce and Potato and herring salad.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Lidnivikis (Cottage cheese dill pancakes) (Polish)

One of the things I love most about my native Eastern Europe, from a culinary point of view, are all the pancakes and fritters, sweet and savory alike. The Polish are especially creative in this regard, as are the Slavic peoples and also the Romanians, my own people. 
I've had Polish pancakes before, but they were Racuchy z Jablkami, apple pancakes, meant to be enjoyed as a dessert. I loved them, by the way, so you should really try them too. As for this savory version, I was pretty sure it will turn out great. The combination of cheese or sour cream with dill is a classic one in this part of Europe, and fresh dairy made into fritters is always delicious. 
On the other hand, I was intrigued to see these cheese pancakes are baked, as I'm used to similar ones to be pan-fried. I was looking forward to see how the texture will become, and it was airier and fluffier than I expected. :)
Recipe source: Saveur.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Ensalada de Naranja y Cebolla (Orange and Red Onion Salad) (Argentinian) (raw vegan).
Five years ago: Chicken Alfredo pasta (Italian-American).
Six years ago: Tuna, red onion and sesame wraps.
Seven years ago: Crepes with macadamia cream and lychees.
Eight years ago: Dulce de lecheSweet tart crust and Mini tarts with dulce de leche and red currants.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Mast-o-khiar (Cucumber herb yogurt salad) (Iranian)

Mast-o-khiar is one of the most well-loved dips / sauces / salads / sides of Iranian and Persian cuisine. It's made with thick yogurt in which various dried nuts, fruits and herbs have been mixed. It also contains rose petals (as you can see scattered on top of it, too). 
In Iran, each family has its own recipe for mast-o-khiar, so you can expect minor variations if you check out other recipes as well.
My main two sources were The Delicious Crescent and Turmeric Saffron.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Bifes a la Criolla (Thin beef steaks in a stew) (Argentinian).
Five years ago: Almond and khaki (persimmon) tart(s).
Six years ago: Eggplant-tomato-pepper cous cous with mozzarella
Seven years ago: Basic pancakes (crepes) (Romanian).
Eight 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).

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Parsley Eiji (Fried parsley omlets) (Lebanese)

These are super easy to put together and a staple of Lebanese home cooking. You may not find them in restaurants very often (or maybe on the breakfast menu if you're visiting the country), but they are authentic nonetheless.
There is a fluffiness to these omelets that changes your perspective on omelets, especially if you're a Westerner. This is due to the pinch of baking soda used in the egg mix. You can see the omelets puff up immediately after you put them in the hot frying pan, and it's a beautiful and satisfying sight.
Recipe source: Hadia.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Dark chocolate orange brownies.
Five years ago: Mozzarella in carozza (Italian fried sandwiches).
Six years ago: Boulangère potatoes (French).
Seven years ago: Grasshopper hot chocolate.
Eight years ago: Veronique chicken salad (French)Semolina milk pudding with pear-cardamom puree and honey and Polenta with sour cream and cheese (Romanian).

Friday, May 10, 2019

Man’oushe (Za’atar Flatbread) (Lebanese)

A flatbread laid on very thin and crispy, baked in a very hot oven, with its top really covered in olive oil and za'atar. Since I love za'atar enough to eat it raw or on toasted bread with olive oil, this is the upgraded version of my go-to snack, and it's a dream come true.
It's delicious enough to munch on it as it is, but it also makes for a great side for soups, dips, veggie stews and any other Lebanese or Middle Eastern food.
Recipe source: David Lebovitz

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Spaghetti Bolognese (Italian).
Five years ago: Crushed peas with smoky sesame (tahini) dressing.
Six years ago: Strawberry and white chocolate mousse cake (no bake).
Seven years ago: Carrot and feta rosti (fritters) with raita (Indian-style).
Eight 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.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Qashat al-Narjeel (Omani Coconut Cookies)

Imagine the sweetest, milkiest and chewiest coconut caramels you've ever had. These ultra-white cookies from Oman will be just like that, and maybe even better. I couldn't get enough after making them initially, so I ended up re-making the recipe again and again. 
The recipe is pretty straightforward; the only issue is that you should leave them to harden up overnight, but besides the long wait time, they're very easy to make.
Recipe source: Saveur.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Teh halia (ginger milk tea) (Singaporean and Malaysian).
Five years ago: Potatoes with za'atar (Middle Eastern) (vegan).
Six years ago: Puff pastry fast pea and dill quiche.
Seven years ago: Carrot and feta rosti (fritters) with raita (Indian-style).
Eight 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.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Cardamom coffee (Arabic coffee) (vegan)

For all fans of coffee and of cardamom (as I am, of course) out there, this is a must try, if you haven't so far. The so-called Arabic coffee is a specialty coffee with an addition of cardamom. Methods of brewing vary, sometimes sugar is added while brewing or after, cardamom is sometimes mixed in the ground coffee before brewing or after and so on.... but the point that stands is that the combination of the two flavors is outstanding and after trying it you're not very likely to return to the plain coffee from before any time soon :). Enjoy!

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Pizza con tonno e cipole (Tuna and onion pizza) (Italian).
Five years ago: Strawberry summer cake.
Six years ago: Spring pasta with avocado and goat cheese.
Seven years ago: Turkey bites in Brie and walnut sauce with grapes.
Eight years ago: Frigănele (Romanian savory French toast)Rosemary marinated and fried potatoes with lemon (vegan) and Thyme, pepper and lemon spicy olive oil cookies.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Easy and fast macaroni and cheese (on stove top) (American)

This recipe of pasta (elbow macaroni), white sauce and cheese is an English (British) classic, now most popular in the United States, but with a history dating back to the 14th century. 

First made in Italy, then brought to England, it eventually spread to the colonies and became a staple meal throughout the world (from the Americas to Australia). It's nowadays a synonym to "comfort food". :)
Since it's such a staple in home cooking, there isn't really an official recipe for "mac and cheese", since every household has its own. Any variations you may find between different sources are thus perfectly normal and to be expected. 

Traditionally, this was made in the oven, but it can be made on the stove top as well, either from scratch (like here), or using a prepackaged mix (but alas, these shortcuts sacrifice much of the taste in favor or laziness, and you will see none such fake shenanigans on my blog). 

This version here was made on the stove top (thus making it the easy and fast version), but with no shortcuts or replacements. You'll see that you can obtain the creamy deliciousness of the dish in no time even if you make it from scratch using real ingredients. And the result is by far healthier and tastier than any cheat's version from American supermarkets. :)
More on the history of the dish here
Recipe slightly adapted from here.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Salat yerakot yisraeli (Israeli salad) (Jewish/Palestinian) (raw vegan).
Five years ago: Bacon-corn hash (American).
Six years ago: Fennel and Camembert pocket pies in spelt pastry.
Seven years ago: Turkey bites in Brie and walnut sauce with grapes.
Eight 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.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Brânzoaice (Moldavian-Romanian sweet cheese hand pies)

One of the most iconic Romanian desserts, these small hand pies are based on a simple sweet cheese filling, encased in an envelope of yeast-risen dough. They're delicious both hot and cold, and keep very well for days. 
The cheese in the filling should be fresh cow's cheese, you can use either cottage cheese or ricotta or an equal mix of both. The better the cheeses are, the better the final branzoaice pies are going to taste.
The history of these pies goes back at least 300 years, if not more. The process of making them is a bit time-consuming, but pretty straightforward. Try them the next time you're craving a dough-based, airy dessert.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Ensalada con quinoa de Peru (Peruvian) (vegan).
Five years ago: Greek marinated artichokes (vegan).
Six years ago: Baby spinach cream soup with truffle oil (vegan).
Seven years ago: Wholewheat pasta with raw roots.
Eight 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).

Monday, April 29, 2019

Pizza Prosciutto-Funghi (Italian)

Another classic example of pizza. Some classics are just to good to alter with much improvisation, and their home made version is much more rewarding than the bought one. Making your own pizza from scratch doesn't require much time, you just need to let the dough rise while you take care of other stuff. Your patience will be rewarded a bit later. Enjoy :)

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Mâncare de gutui cu pui (Chicken and quince stew) (Romanian).
Five years ago: Pink grapefruit carpaccio with honey and cinnamon (raw vegan).
Six years ago: Frangipane tart with kiwi and starfruit (Italian).
Seven years ago: Creme brulee (French).
Eight years ago: Simple chocolate brownies with walnutsCorn tortillas without masa harina (experiment) and Huevos rancheros (Mexican).

Friday, April 26, 2019

Smoked trout, radish and pea pasta

I'm a pretty great fan of smoked fish (as you may have noticed). Not only it preserves the fish almost raw and all those omega 3 acids intact, but it also gives a truly delicious flavor (almost bacon-like). Here I successfully used smoked trout in a pasta dish next to raw radishes, peas, a little Greek yogurt for creaminess and piri-piri flakes for hotness. It was absolutely wonderful and as fast and easy to make as virtually all pasta dishes.
Recipe inspired from here.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Wholemeal raspberry shortbread sandwich cookies with lemon drizzle.
Five years ago: Bruschetta al pomodoro (Italian) (vegan).
Six years ago: Obazda (German Camembert spread).
Seven years ago: Endives filled with cheese sauce and cherry tomatoes.
Eight years ago: Zaansemosterdsoep (Dutch mustard soup)Mushroom, cheese and thyme crostini and  Pizza con pollo e mascarpone (Italian).

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Goyerti Kuku (Kuku with herbs) (Azerbaijani)

A lovely thick omelet stuffed full of herbs. After it's done, you slice it into quarters and serve it with a dollop of strained yogurt, enriched with garlic. The combo is delicious and addictive.
This kuku (the Azerbaijani name for omelet) is perfect for a quick, light and yet hearty meal. 
Recipe source: 196 flavors.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Japanese salmon and avocado rice (deconstructed sushi).
Five years ago: Capricciosa salad (Insalata capricciosa) (Italian).
Six years ago: Spring potatoes with ramps and pine seeds.
Seven years ago: Turpork (Romanian porcurcan).
Eight years ago: Romanian Pasca (Easter cheese and egg cake) with raisins and Aloo Gobi (Cauliflower and potato) with rice and raita (Indian).

Monday, April 22, 2019

Kozinaki (Sunflower seed brittle) (Georgian-Armenian-Russian)

Almost every culture knows some form of caramel nut brittle, since it's a dessert so easy to love and so convenient to snack on once a batch is made. 
But in the Eurasian region, their general love for sunflower seeds (and for walnuts, as a side note) manifested itself into these flavorful treats.
I, as an Eastern European, love sunflower seeds on almost anything, from Turkish-style simits to breads and salads. 

So  was happy to discover the recipe for kozinaki treats, and amused to see how their name resembles the name of a Romanian brioche-like dessert so well (see my recipe for cozonac). Sometimes I noticed the name is spelled gozinaki instead of kozinaki, but it's almost the same thing.
Still, besides the very similar name, the two types of dessert (the Romanian cozonac) and these sunflower seed brittle logs really have nothing in common.

They are not very complicated to make, they just require you to be comfortable with hot caramel and using a candy thermometer. Once made, they're super delicious to snack on, so ho ahead and try them.
Recipe adapted from here, here and here.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Everyday muesli chocolate cake.
Five years ago: Tex-Mex turkey and guacamole burgers.
Six years ago: Mint and pine sauce (raw vegan).
Seven years ago: Brussel sprouts, poppy-seed and emmentaler gratin.
Eight years ago: Fried turkey pieces with rosemary, thyme, lemon and green garlicRosemary baked potatoes with green garlicThree-cheese pasta with rucola, hazelnuts and sesame.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Bzkthats (Chicken walnut salad) (Armenian)

This is one of the best chicken salads I ever had, due to the combination of chicken with pomegranate seeds, herbs and especially the walnut pieces that add extra oomph and flavor depth. 

The creamy base in which all of these is supposed to come together is not very fat, so the salad also tastes light and not heavy at all, at least when compared to other creamy chicken salads. 

Still, if you'd like to experiment with more chicken salads, you can try the Veronique chicken salad (French)

Recipe source: Hegineh, my favorite Armenian chef. 

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Little ham and pesto pancakes.
Five years ago: Prăjituri cu cremă de lămâie (Lemon cream cake squares) (Romanian).
Six years ago: Roasted lamb back-straps in red wine sauce.
Seven years ago: Sincronizadas with cheddar, turkey ham and guacamole (Mexican).
Eight 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).

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Salvadoran Quesadillas (Cheese muffin cakes)

In El Salvador, quesadilla doesn't mean the same thing as you might expect if you're used to the regular quesadillas popular in the Western world via Mexico. Here, quesadilla means a rich pound cake spiced with grated cheese, and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. It's usually eaten for breakfast, and it's so sweet that it's definitely closer to a dessert than it is to an appetizer.

I made these right before leaving for a short trip to the mountains with friends and took it with me as road snacks. Everyone loved the unusual combination. 
The recipe calls for cotija, but that's hard to get around here. The closest you can get to the cheesy outcome you're aiming for is by using grated Parmesan cheese, or a similar grated hard cheese. The more aged the better, for extra flavor.
Recipe sources: Food52 and ElSalvadorTips.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Mushroom-olive tacos with spring garlic and onions (vegan) (Mexican-style).
Five years ago: Tzatziki kritharaki salad (Greek orzo pasta salad).
Six years ago: Mixed seeds and honey crunchy hearts.
Seven years ago: Baked Brie en croute with apples and thyme (French).
Eight 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).

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Foie gras pastries (French-style)

These are French-style pastries filled with foie gras (goose liver pate). I'm not sure they're really authentic French staples, and my research wasn't able to provide a definitive answer, but they definitely pop up on French-style menus across restaurants.

These were created by my mom, using home-made puff pastry, but store-bought varieties will work as well. Just make sure you buy butter-based puff pastry (with a bit of perseverance you can probably find it in stores regardless of where you live). 

They are quick to assemble, very satisfying (one or two are enough no matter how hungry you are), and keep well for a few days. These foie gras pastries are also a perfect starter to a multi-course French dinner, so if you're cooking up something nice from this cuisine, consider making these as well, served as an entrée. Everyone has had enough of cheese platters, trust me :).  

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Tempura shrimps with soy glaze (Japanese).
Five years ago: Mâncare de urzici (Romanian nettle stew).
Six years ago: Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon (cocktail).
Seven years ago: Blueberry and carrot smoothie (raw vegan).
Eight years ago: Coffee-marinated chickenFennel and walnut ricotta-filled muffinsThe Ratatouille from the movie Ratatouille and Tofu Parmigiana (Italian).

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Bun Bo (Vietnamese rice noodle salad)

One of the best Vietnamese dishes to try, beyond the super-famous Pho soup. this salad exemplifies everything I love about Vietnamese cuisine. 
It's as spicy and enticing as all Asian cuisines tend to be, but unlike classic Chinese cuisine it tends to have many fresh ingredients added, along with more sour and herbal flavors. Japanese dishes also tend to have more fresh stuff in them, but they are purists when it comes to tastes so they prefer not to overcrowd the dishes with spices. 
Well, Vietnamese dishes have it all and they're the epitome of intense tastes: both sweet, sour, spicy, fried and fresh, noodle and liquid, herbal and spice. 

This delicious salad is the perfect thing to make when you happen to have some leftover nem rolls on hand. It features freshly cooked glazed shrimp, sliced nem rolls, rice noodles, fresh herbs and veggies, along with a tangy lime sauce and crunchy peanuts. You also have a bit of heat from a touch of red chili peppers, and the fish sauce also lends an extra explosion of umami that will leave you craving more.
Recipe source: David Lebovitz (mainly).

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Ants climbing a tree (Ma Yi Shang Shu) (Chinese).
Five years ago: Radish, smoked salmon and orange salad (raw).
Six years ago: Asparagus, mint and lemon risotto
Seven years ago: Elder-flower-rum cream tartelettes with raspberries.
Eight years ago: Salmon Smorrebrod (Danish)Upside-down banana cake with raisins and walnuts and Chinese-style pork sesame balls.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Ca Sardine Kho Ca Chua (Sardine Bahn Mi) (Vietnamese)

A sardine twist on the classic Bahn Mi sandwich, the epitome of East-meets-West (the French influence on Vietnamese cuisine). In this version, the baguette bread is slathered with mayo, covered in sardines simmered in a flavorful tomato sauce, topped with cucumber and fresh cilantro and then served in its delicious symphony of flavors and contrasting textures.
Recipe source: Vietworld Kitchen.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Caribbean chicken with spring onion sauce.
Five years ago: Sweet and sour chicken stir-fry (Chinese-American).
Six years ago: Casa Dragones Guacamole (Mexican) (raw vegan).
Seven years ago: Green pasta with red peppers and wild duck ham.
Eight years ago: Aubergine and zucchini pizzaMarinated pork chops with balsamico glaze and Pasta peperonata (Bell pepper rigatoni) (Italian).

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Cartofi noi la ceaun cu usturoi (Romanian new potatoes and garlic)

A staple and everyone's favorite in Romania, come spring time. Each time new potatoes hit the markets, people rush to get them and oil up their ceaun pots.

A 'ceaun' is a heavy-bottomed cast iron pot, ideal for making food which require high heat without the risk of burning. Popcorn and chicken pot stew are the other most common things to prepare in such a pot.

As you can see, I didn't have one on hand here because I wasn't at home. So, rest assured that a regular pot (or deep fryer) will do. Of course, a cast iron pot will make it taste better (really), but don't fret if you don't have one.

Next, let's talk about the garlic paste (mujdei). It's a staple in Romanian cuisines and every family boasts of their recipe for it being the best. I also featured it in other local specialty recipes featured here, such as the Moldavian fried carp with polenta. It's strong, but you can make it mellow with another bit of cream. However you make it, rest assured it's delicious.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Smoked butterfish with lemon-horseradish sauce on latkes.
Five years ago: Fluffy fried bananas with lemon posset and sesame.
Six years ago: Avocado salad with carrot-ginger dressing (vegan).
Seven years ago: Tandoori oven-baked chicken (Indian).
Eight years ago: Chicken and broccoli stir-fry with oyster sauceGougeres (French cheese puffs)Hazelnut and coffee chip cookies and Surimi and asparagus noodle salad.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Macaroane cu pesmet (Romanian regional dessert of pasta and breadcrumbs) (vegan)

A simple dessert type of pasta dish, usually made for children in Romania, this will strike many Romanians close to home when hearing about it, especially if they're from the Western part of the country (Ardeal). While not so popular nowadays, the recipe is indeed traditional, coming from a time when people had to make due with humbler ingredients and smaller amounts of sweet treats.
The crunchiness of the toasted breadcrumbs, coating the spaghetti evenly, and the hint of cinnamon make this a delicious treat which is fast and easy to throw together.
Recipe source: here.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Aloo Hing Ki Sath (Potatoes with asafetida) (Indian) (vegan).
Five years ago: Es Pokat (Indonesian avocado shake).
Six years ago: Milk and poppy seed muffins.
Seven years ago: Brie, potato and thyme pizza.
Eight years ago:  Potato salad with pesto and mozzarella and Egg, avocado and bacon breakfast spicy bagels.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Choy sum (Chinese vegetable stir-fry) (vegan)

A choy sum stir-fry is among the best known Chinese dishes in the West, being a staple on menus of Chinese-American restaurants and Asian take-out joints. While traditional Chinese cooks may question how authentic the dish is in the US and Western Europe, it's definitely a crowd favorite. I can understand both stances, since I care about authenticity as well, but I know that regular folks just want their delicious food sometimes, and don't care so much about its origins. 
I decided to research the recipe and try to make the most authentic Choy Sum recipe that can be made outside of its native region, and this was the result.
Recipe source: mainly here.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Vegan raspberry, cocoa and coconut marbled loaf cake (vegan).
Five years ago: Indonesian potato and spinach curry (vegan).
Six years ago: Bouneschloupp (Green bean and ham soup) (Luxembourgian).
Seven years ago: Crispy pizza crust (vegan).
Eight years ago: Pickled red onions and Linguine alla matriciana with zucchini.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Smoked salmon and herb-cream cheese finger-sized tea sandwiches (British)

Tea sandwiches are a traditional British starter eaten in afternoons and served at the five o'clock tea.  Usually they must be made with white bread (though other bread types are beginning to be used in modern versions), a creamy butter or cheese spread and fresh vegetables. 
Also, traditionally, the edges  (crust) of the bread is removed to make them more delicate and airy, but here I left it on because I preferred to use toasted bread for extra crunchiness.
Recipe source: BBC

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Piccata di pollo (Chicken piccata) (Italian).
Five years ago: Polenta and corn muffins.
Six years ago: Garlic, chili, lemon and olive spaghetti (vegan).
Seven years ago: Apple tart with honey and almond flakes (very light).
Eight years ago: Tortellini with white wine sauce and tofuSimple artichoke dip and Aloo Baingan (Indian)(vegan)

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Strammer Max (German ham and eggs sandwich)

A Strammer Max sandwich, in German cuisine, is a scrumptious egg and ham open-faced sandwich with a funny name. It's a staple at traditional eateries and in private homes, especially as a breakfast food, of course. 
The name is funny because it kind of carries a double meaning: it could be roughly translated as 'Strapping Max' but it also goes as a nickname for a guy's parts. This is owed to the belief that such hearty food (eggs and ham) can do wonders for any man, boosting his virility or something.

Aaaanyway, beyond the nod to the double meaning name, it's a fast and yummy food. The only tricky part is not overcooking the eggs, since the runnier the yolk, the more delicious your sandwich will be.
Recipe source: Saveur.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Kisir (Bulgur wheat salad with tomatoes and pomegranate) (Turkish) (vegan).
Five years ago: Orange and poppy seed cake with chocolate topping.
Six years ago: Red onion, garlic and olive Flammkuchen.
Seven years ago: Cous cous and pomegranate spicy salad (vegan).
Eight 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.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Spring herbs and chickpea salad (vegan)

The perfect treat for me in spring is definitely a chickpea salad. When I saw the idea for this version with fresh aromatic herbs and a hint of lemon I couldn't help myself and made it asap. Needless to say, it become a go-to, which was completely predictable. It's light and fresh and it tastes like spring in a bowl, while still remaining consistent enough thanks to the chickpeas. 
Of course, what I like best about it, besides its simplicity, is the room it leaves for improvisation. I started with parsley and ramps for the herbs here, but this can be changed and combined in various ways: dill, fresh basil, some rucola perhaps and so on. Just imagine! :)
I eat it just as it is, as a meal in itself. But you can pair it with the bread of your choice, lightly toasted. Anyway you want it, enjoy :).
Recipe adapted from Mazi.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Saenggangcha (Korean ginger tea) (vegan).
Five years ago: Pajeon (Korean green onion pancakes).
Six years ago: Eggplant, pomegranate and chickpea cous cous (vegan).
Seven years ago: Mechouia salad (roast vegetables and tuna) (Tunisian).
Eight years ago: Zucchini and coconut muffinsMelanzane alla parmigiana (Italian) and Pancetta and artichoke pizza.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Malagasy Chai (vegan)

A beautiful spicy chai latte recipe, coming from Madagascar. I served this as part of a themed dinner, and I was happy to discover how close it is to the current tastes of Western palates. Generally, when trying African drinks and dishes, I tend to brace myself for experiencing something radically different from what I have learned to like. For this one, for better or for worse, it wasn't necessary. It tastes just as delicious as the next chai latte from a coffeehouse. 
Recipe source: here.

Last year: nothing.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: Walnut, coffee and mascarpone cupcakes.
Five years ago: Sweet potato spicy wedges with guacamole (Mexican and Tex-Mex).
Six years ago: Sticky banana and maple syrup cake bars.
Seven years ago: Cheddar and leek muffins.
Eight 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).

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