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Monday, October 21, 2019

Caribbean cocoa tea (hot chocolate) (St Lucia)



The so-called cocoa tea is actually a type of delicious hot chocolate, heavy infused with spices (even unusual ones like bay leaf). It hails from the island of St Lucia, and it's made from and served with fresh cocoa logs or at least cocoa nibs (as I had here).
Story here and recipe here.

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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Caribbean ostrich steaks (Curaçaoan)



This is a more unusual recipe from Curaçao, using ostrich meat, prepared with jalapenos, garlic, lime and parsley, after the meat was marinated in a mix of citrus juices. The final result was refreshing and very tender.
For a taste of Curaçao, if you can find ostrich meat in your local stores, this is worth a try. :)
Recipe source: here.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Glazed peach scones (Southern USA)


Scones are common between the British and USA cuisines, but the the South of the United States they seem to have developed a more important role. Part of traditional offerings for guests, alongside sweet tea and finger foods, scones are part of the old culture of the white South.
These scones contain fresh peaches and are drizzled with a thick vanilla sugar glaze. Any Southern great-grandma would be proud. :)
Alternatively, you can try these fresh cranberry and walnut scones, also from the South of USA. 
Recipe source: here.

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Monday, October 14, 2019

Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Salad (Soul food)



A wonderful, scrumptious combo of leftover fried chicken and sweet potatoes, thrown together with herbs, pickles, celery and onion within a creamy dressing. It's rich and heavy just like most other things in Southern cuisine, but so delicious it leaves no room for regret. 
Recipe source: Chef Mason Hereford, via Saveur

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Four years ago: Kumquat cardamom tea bread.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Hoppin' John (Carolina peas and rice) (Southern USA, Soul Food)



The so-called Hoppin' John is a classic peas and rice dish from the South of the United States, with some regional variations from area to area. 
There is also a tradition involving this dish: if eaten on the New Year's Day, Hoppin' John is said to bring good luck throughout the year which begins. Furthermore, on the day after New Year's Day, leftover "Hoppin' John" is called "Skippin' Jenny" and if consumed, it further demonstrates one's frugality, bringing a hope for an even better chance of prosperity in the New Year that comes. :)
For another Soul food rice dish from the deep South, check out Charleston rice, also called red rice. It also combines the smoky flavor of bacon with rice in a wonderful example of comfort food.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Kentucky chess pie (Southern USA)



A classic dessert of Southern USA, originally brought over from England into the newly established territories of Virginia and New England, chess pie is a caramel delight. Gooey and crunchy at the same time due to the thin and crispy crust which forms at the top, the caramel-like filling of the pastry shell can totally sweeten up your afternoons :).


It goes well with ice-cream but also great with black coffee.
Recipe source: Saveur

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Sunday, October 6, 2019

Cheese straws (England and Southern USA)



Cheese straws are the classic crackers that everyone loves, right? Originating in England and then taken to the food culture of the South of USA (and still very popular there), the humble but delicious cheese straws spread throughout the world as well. Almost mandatory at weddings in Souther USA, they are very airy and tangy due to the touch of cayenne pepper and the sharpness of a good Cheddar cheese.
They also resemble the Sărățele of my native Romania, though those are a bit cheesier and shiny with egg-wash. The Southern USA cheese straws have an airier texture, but both are very much yum. :)
Recipe source: SplendidTable.

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Friday, October 4, 2019

Charleston red rice (Southern USA, Soul food) (Georgia and South Carolina)



Charleston red rice is a typical Soul food dish from the coastal regions of Georgia and South California. Also known locally as simply 'red rice', it's heavily associated with the Gullah people, descendants of the enslaved African-Americans who were brought there from West Africa.
Culinary experts say it's derived from a version of Thieboudienne, a traditional rice dish from Senegal, through a process of creolization, in which the displaced people adapted a dish they already knew to the local ingredients and what they had access to.
It's a recipe that comes together easily and makes for a great main or side. The little bits of bacon lend the entire mass of rice steeped in crushed tomatoes a new richness and flavor, and the sofrito (vegetable base) of onion, celery and bell pepper add extra flavor depth.

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Four years ago: Pizza-ghetti (Canadian).

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Clătite cu piure de castane (Crêpes with chestnut cream) (Moldavian and Romanian)


The chestnut cream is one of Eastern Europe's finest delicacies. Using this ingredient as a filling for sweet crêpes is something done in the northeastern pat of my country, Bucovina and Northern Moldavia (the Romanian part of Moldavia, at least). Starting from the city of Iaşi and continuing to go up, you can find these on the menu in most local cafeterias and confectioneries
You can find chestnut cream in jars in most supermarkets, as it was popularized by the French in the Western World as well. Grab a jar, return home, heat up the skillet and get flipping. They will be slightly less sweet than the crêpes or pancakes you might be accustomed to (especially if you usually fill them with Nutella or sweet jams), but much more flavorful. Enjoy.

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Five years ago: Kastaniencremesuppe (Chestnut cream soup) (German).

Six years ago: Autumn chestnut and beetroot salad. (Yup, even more chestnuts).

Seven years ago: Fig, rosemary and mascarpone tartlets.

Eight years ago: Spicy Guinness mustard (Irish).


Sunday, September 29, 2019

Sticky toffee pudding sheet cake (British-American)



The classic sticky gooey crumbly caramel-tasting goodness we all know and love from that one special pub or restaurant. Served hot, with its puddles of extra toffee sauce and a cup of vanilla ice-cream. What's there not to love?
Recipe loosely adapted from Nigella Lawson, via Food52.

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Friday, September 27, 2019

Yiaourti Me Meli (Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts)



This is so easy to prepare that it would be shameful to call it cooking, but I'm sharing it with the world just in case some of you haven't already thought about combining Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts. It's a very common snack / dessert in Greece and it wouldn't do to have it missing from the specific regional cuisine list. :)
Recipe source: here.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Htapothi Makaronatha (Pasta with octopus) (Greek)



It's no longer any news that seafood holds a special place in Greek cuisine and the Greek chefs really know what to do with seafood to make it shine. This pasta with fresh octopus stewed in a tomato-based sauce is the perfect example of this seafood mastery. If you manage to get fresh octopus in your local market, this should be the go-to recipe for it.
Recipe sources: here and here.

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Monday, September 23, 2019

Soboro don (Chicken rice bowl for bento box lunch) (Japanese)



A yum and easy way to create a bento box lunch (or just a home dinner) full of color and flavor. 
Recipe source: Mark from NoRecipes.

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Friday, September 20, 2019

Tamagoyaki (Rolled omelette) (Japanese)



Tamagoyaki is impressive at a first glance, like something which might be difficult to make, but don't worry, it's really not that hard. All you need is patience and a source of heat. It's easier to make in a special Tamagoyaki pan, of course, in order to achieve the ideal shape, but you don't even need one of those, it's totally doable in a regular frying pan too. The result? One of the creamiest and fluffiest omelettes you've ever had. :)
Recipe sources: JustOneCookbook and JapanCentre.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Torrijas al vino (Spanish French toast with wine, honey and olive oil)



The Spanish version of French toast, Torrija (plural Torrijas), soaked with red wine instead on milk, and with strong olive oil and honey flavors to match. The use of olive oil in a sweet dish is common in Spanish cuisine and lends more flavor and depth to the taste. And the red wine is.. well, no introduction is required. Of course it's a lovely touch.
Recipe source: here.

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Sunday, September 15, 2019

Chocolate a la taza venezolano (Venezuelan hot chocolate)


If Argentinians have their hot chocolate by dunking a chocolate spoon or a chunk of chocolate in their hot milk, Venezuelans take a more preparation-intensive approach to it. 
Not that there's anything wrong with the Argentinian version of hot chocolate, El Submarino, but this hot chocolate with rum from Venezuela is totally worth the extra little bit of effort. 
Main recipe sources: Saveur and EnrileMoine

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Five years ago: Cypriot tomato salad (Greek).

Six years ago: Coconut corn salad.

Seven years ago: Goat cheese rounds in prosciutto.

Eight years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).



Thursday, September 12, 2019

Pasticho Venezolano (Venezuelan lasagna)


Very similar to the classic Italian Lasagna Bolognese, this Venezualan version tends to be much creamier, though, making it the perfect comfort food for chilly days.
Its name comes from Pastitsio, a similar Greek dish with layered tubular pasta used in-between the meat and sauce layers. The Greek immigrants brought it to Venezuela, where it eventually morphed into this current form, using classic lasagna sheets. 
Recipe source: here.

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Monday, September 9, 2019

Caldo verde (Brazilian, Portuguese and Cape Verdean kale and sausage soup)


This is a hearty, cold season stew originating and Portugal and happily adopted in its former colonies of Brazil and Cape Verde. It's not exactly cold season yet, but some nights you just crave something really comforting, right?
With smoky Portuguese sausages (linguica), chickpeas and kale (the name 'verde' is derived from the greens which go into the soup), it's basically comfort food in a convenient one pot affair. 
Recipe sources: here, here and here

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Saturday, September 7, 2019

Bondeomelette (Norwegian farm omelette)



This farm omelette from Norway is a bit complicated to make (you start it on the stove top and finish it in the oven), but it contains all the goodness of a late summer bounty. Made with sliced potatoes, leeks and leftover pulled meat, as well as onion, milk and butter, it tastes like a heartier version of Spanish tortilla. It's totally worth the bit of extra effort required. 
Recipe source: North Wild Kitchen.

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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Lapper med Øl (Norwegian Flat Cakes with Beer)



These beer pancakes from Norway are especially fluffy and with a surprising depth of flavor, on account of the magic brew in their batter. :)


Topped with sour cream and jam (I used bitter cherry jam, it was dreamy), they're incredibly good. All pancakes are lovely, but these lapper are really above average good.
Recipe source: North Wild Kitchen.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Sopa Kafea (Spanish Basque coffee soup)



This Basque coffee 'soup' is not a soup, but a dessert / light supper / frugal main course. It hails from the Spanish side of Basque country (the contested region between France and Spain) and although it's far from contemporary gourmet tastes, it's pretty yum.
Recipe source: here.

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Sunday, September 1, 2019

Taloak (French Basque pancakes)



Taloak are corn flour-based pancakes, originating from the French side of the Basque region, which are popular wherever significant basque communities can be found. In Canada, for example, communities with Basque origins are having taloak parties, where large quantities of these pancakes are made and everyone brings their own versions of toppings and drinks to accompany them.
The taloak taste rustic, with a rough texture (compared to simple crepes) and a delicious nutty after-taste. The recipe makes simple taloak, since you can have them either with sweet or savory toppings. 

For a touch of sweet, top with cream, fruit jams, chocolate spread, or pair with sweetened coffee. The Basque people are great coffee lovers.
To have the taloak as a savory starter, top with txistorra sausage (or fried chorizo), roasted vegetables, your favorite cheeses, relish or pickles, in whatever combination you want. 
Recipe sources: PapillesEtPupilles and Burutapen.

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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Jamaican lime bars



I think these are some of the best dessert options ever, for me. Definitely in my top 10 and on the short list of sweets which bear repeating. I don't make them more than 3-4 times a year because they're a tad labour-intensive (all the lime squeezing and grating), but other than that the Jamaican lime bars are pretty easy to make, fail-proof and straightforward. 


The taste is like an explosion of freshness / tropical citrus taste in your mouth. If you like the bright vibe of limes, you will love these firm but pillow-y squares of custard-like creamy bars. 
Recipe source: Saveur

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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Jerk sweet potato and black bean curry (Jamaican) (vegan)




First of all, please excuse the bad photo. It was taken with my mobile phone (unlike most of the other photos around here, for which I use an actual camera). 
The Jerk curries from Jamaican cuisine are named thus because they share a common spice mix, the so-called Jerk seasoning. This can be made at home but it's also relatively easy to find in larger market chains / spice specialty stores. 
This Jerk sweet potato and black bean curry is completely vegan but really solid and amazingly delicious. If you're into spicy food and curries in general (even those outside Caribbean cuisines), you're going to love it. 
Recipe source: BBC.

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Monday, August 26, 2019

Locrio de pica pica (Sardine rice) (Dominican Republic)




This fast to make rice dish is a classic comfort food choice in the Dominican Republic, and a particular hit with kids. Easy to understand why, even the name has a funny ring to it :). It conveniently uses sardines from the can, so all you need to do is to cook it all together and it's done. A delicious and pretty healthy option for a weeknight meal. 
Recipe source: 196flavors

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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Madeleines (French)



The famous French pastries are easy to make at home, too. All you need is a Madeleine pan and 30 minutes. Why settle for boring muffins when you can make these instead? :)
Recipe sources: Epicurious and Smitten Kitchen.

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Café miel (Honey, milk and cinnamon coffee) (French)



The combination of coffee and honey may strike you as unusual. If you've had it before (I had), even then, it was probably simple and black. So the idea of adding foamed milk to it may seem like too much. But this classic French drink deserves all the extra effort (and calories) :). 

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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Moules marinieres (Mussels steamed with butter, garlic, shallots and wine) (French)


There are two really classic ways to cook and serve mussels: this Moules marinieres dish and the Moules frites one, both belonging, obviously, to the French tradition. 

Moules mariniers means "Mariner's mussels" and is a very fast and easy to prepare way to serve these tasty bits. Mussels may be a bit of a put off for a lot of people out there if they haven't had a chance o taste them really fresh and really well prepared, but trust me: if you don't like mussels and seafood in general, you just haven't yet encountered the right one(s). :)

First of all, to ensure a successful culinary experience, the mussels need to be as fresh as possible (with only a few days guarantee). And you need to cook them the day you bought them, even if they're guaranteed to last for a few more days according to their label. But worry not :) : the ingredients needed besides the mussels themselves are so ordinary that you can go ahead and grab them off the shelves without worrying you won't find the rest of the stuff in time.
Traditionally, this lovely dish is served with French fries or a crispy warm baguette to dunk in the delicious broth (sauce) remaining after the mussels are steamed through. We chose the baguette to make sure we get as much of the yummy liquid as possible. 
If you can find fresh mussels one day in the store or elsewhere don't hesitate and grab them, then return to this recipe and you'll be savoring a bowl of delicious wonders in no time that will change the way you think about seafood forever. :)

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Friday, August 16, 2019

Pain perdu (French toast)



French toast needs no introductions and most food cultures have their own variant of it. If only as a way to use up leftover stale bread, this dish should definitely exist. But it's also really delicious, so no wonder it became so popular. 
The first written reference to it dates back to the 4th century (wow), so we can safely say this dessert is 1,600 years old. 
The most notable alternate versions that come to my mind right now are Frigănele (Romanian savory French toast and Torrijas al vino (Sweet Spanish toasts with red wine), but really, virtually all European countries have their own. 
Time to go back to the classic and check it out. This, good people, is how they do French toast in France :). 
Recipe sources for Pain Perdu: here and here.

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Four years ago: Chocolate chip blondies.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Jiang Zhi Bo Cai (Spinach with fried ginger) (Chinese) (vegan)



This spinach dish, with contains the beautiful leafy green vegetable marinated in a soy sauce and sesame oil-based liquid and heavily infused with ginger, is a classic in Chinese restaurants, both in China and outside it.
I made it as a side for Hong Shao Shi Zi Tou (Red Braised Lion's Head) and altogether that dinner was wonderful. 
Recipe source: Saveur and FeedingFen.

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

Hong Shao Shi Zi Tou (Red Braised Lion's Head) (Chinese)



 This Chinese dish consisting of very large pork meatballs braised in a delicious sauce is less well-known in the Western world, but that's a shame that must be put right. It's one of the best Chinese meals I've ever tasted.
Recipe source: the wonderful TraditionalChineseRecipes blog.

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Thursday, August 8, 2019

Xiao Chao (Jia Chao Rou) (Pork and green pepper stir fry) (Southern Chinese)



I first had this fiery pork stir-fry at one of my favorite Chinese restaurants (still ordering it from time to time), and immediately decided this deserves to be made from scratch as well. The preparation requires a bit of focus and moving stuff in and out of a pan, but it's very quick and straightforward.
Recipe source: here

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Four years ago: Baked salmon on fennel.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Cock-a-leekie soup (Scottish)



I know, I know. It's a very funny name for a dish. The Scots are creative people and definitely have a sense of humor. :)
As the name might suggest, this soup is made mostly with leeks and chicken meat. It sounds simple, but it's actually very hearty and quite yum. 
Recipe source: here.

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Sunday, August 4, 2019

Tattie scones (Potato pancakes) (Scottish)



A simple appetizer, starter or side from Scotland, these tattie scones are easy to throw together and surprisingly delicious for such simple fare. 
Recipe source: here.

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