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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Osso buco alla milanese (Italian)

The ossobuco is a truly scrumptious and deliciously historical dish from Italy. It's not a fast-to-make dinner, but there are good chances that once you make it exactly how it should be prepared, respecting all the steps etc you won't want to have beef any other way. Yes, that includes the comfy burgers. At least that's how I feel after eating it. It's precisely its "slow cook" technique that allows all the flavors to get very friendly with each-other and to mature together into a final harmony that will blow your mind.

When accompanied by a side of risotto alla milanese (with saffron), the ossobuco becomes a glorious Ossobuco alla milanese (what I did here). So, besides the butter-like soft meat and the flavorful roast vegetable bed, the dish contains a golden risotto serving and it's generously sprinkled with gremolata (a raw combination of garlic, parsley, lemon zest). Your taste buds will go mad with joy.

The special ossobuco meat cuts play an important role in the final flavor (because of the large quantity of marrow), so don't even think about replacing them with regular beef pieces. Trust me, it will be worth the extra effort to gather all the precise ingredients. :) 

P.S: It goes perfectly with a sweet red wine. :)
Recipe source and guidance: the lovely Kiss the Cook.

Last year: nothing
Two years ago: nothing
Three years ago: nothing
Four years ago: Potage de garbanzos con chorizo (Spanish).
Five years ago: Turkish baklava.
Six years ago: Endive and apple salad with poppy seed vinaigrette (raw vegan).
Seven years ago: Dagaiku imo (Japanese sweet potatoes with honey and sesame) (vegan).
Eight years ago: Winter wheat berries soup with capers (vegan) and Endive and bacon pasta.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Mascarpone, cranberry and pistachio tart

I made this as a modern version of Pasca (a Romanian Easter cake) during the Easter holidays of 2013, when I was visiting my parents back home. Tradition calls for a tart filled with sweetened cream cheese with eggs and dried fruits (raisins, usually). Here, I made it creamier by using mascarpone and by filling it with cranberries and pistachios for a more interesting mix. It was really delicious, moderately easy to make and the flavors reminded me of Italian desserts. 

You can ignore the ethnic background and the fact that I took inspiration from the Pasca cake for it and just look at it as a cream pie or tart. It won't be that different from other sweet pies and tarts. But what it will be for certain is delicious. Enjoy :)

Last year: nothing
Two years ago: nothing
Three years ago: nothing
Four years ago: Patatas alioli (Spanish tapa).
Five years ago: Avocado "fries" in Parmesan coating (raw).
Six years ago: British country apple cake.
Seven years ago: Creamy potato and artichoke salad (very light).
Eight years ago: Bacon and eggs breakfast with a fresh touch (British) and Vegetable stock from scratch.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Mozzarella and pesto spread

A lovely spread or antipasto made with chopped up mozzarella cheese, basil pesto and sundried tomatoes. Couldn't be simpler. It's ideal on toasted bread, bruschettas or as a topping for pizza.
Recipe source: epicurious.

Last year: nothing
Two years ago: nothing
Three years ago: nothing
Four years ago: Patatas bravas (Spanish) (vegan).
Five years ago: Moroccan tomato salad (raw vegan).
Six years ago: Three cheese pan potatoes.
Seven years ago: Linguine alla putanesca (Italian).
Eight years ago: Red pepper and pesto pasta with smoked salmon and Fig salad with feta, rucola and cherry tomatoes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Peanut butter and banana toast (American) (vegan)

This snacking sandwich (paired or open-faced, like above), is an American classic everyone associates with childhood (or college days, considering how easy it is to make). If you ask most American-raised grown-ups you know about it, they will probably feel quite nostalgic about this childhood treat. 
Although I'm usually not a huge fan of the American cuisine, I decided to try this combination and now I understand what all the fuss was about: it is indeed delicious, in a simple but oh-so-comforting way. :)

Last year: nothing
Two years ago: nothing
Three years ago: nothing
Four years ago: Tapa de sardinas (Sardine tapas) (Spanish).
Five years ago: Chicken, olives and preserved lemons tagine (regional variation with liver) (Moroccan)
Six years ago: Cheddar and beer soup (British-Scottish).
Seven years ago: Tandoori chicken skewers with field salad and lemon raita (Indian-style).
Eight years ago: Ricotta and cinnamon pancakes with pomegranate and raspberry sauce and Bavarian white radish salad with lemon (German) (raw vegan).

Monday, January 21, 2019

Turkey fajitas (Mexican and Tex-Mex)

The "fajita" term initially referred to the cut of meat (beef) used to make this dish. It later evolved to signify the dish itself, consisting of all kinds of meat (not just beef) served on a taco/tortilla with bell peppers and a choice of various sauces like sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo and other Mexican favorites.
At first it was only known to some cowboy's families, as they were being paid with this particular cut of meat which was deemed unpopular otherwise, but it boomed to mainstream popularity once the "Fajita King" (Sonny Falcon) started to commercially sell them at an outdoor stand in Texas, 1969. 
It's one of the simplest Mexican dishes to make at home that provide you with a complete and delicious meal with a minimum of effort. Here I used turkey meat with its traditional counterparts: corn, bell peppers, cream, garlic and fiery Tabasco sauce. I wrapped the whole thing in wheat tortillas and it was done and ready to be devoured. Perfect for a Mexican-style dinner/afternoon/fiesta etc.

Last year: nothing
Two years ago: nothing
Three years ago: nothing
Four years ago: Simple yogurt muffins.
Five years ago: Strawberry and poppy seed four layer cake.
Six years ago: Kohlbrot mit wurstchen (German cabbage and sausage bread).
Seven years ago: Mini cheesecakes in ramekins, with honey and lime.
Eight years ago: Easy Spanish tapas (with deli meats) and Kolokitho Keftedes (Greek zucchini fritters) with tzatziki sauce.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Salată de vinete (Romanian eggplant salad) (vegan)

This is a classic Romanian spread that is ever-so-present both on holiday tables and as part of regular daily non-special meals. It's done two ways: like here, plain and vegan (good for lent periods as well), or mixed with mayo for a richer outcome. Personally I don't really like the mayo version, maybe because my mom always made it like this. 
To the world outside Eastern Europe, more accustomed to the Middle Eastern Baba Ghanouj, perhaps you'll just dismiss this as a very similar version of that. You couldn't be more wrong. Give this spread a try and immerse yourself in the cuisine of our area. It might surprise you :). Enjoy.

Last year: nothing
Two years ago: nothing
Three years ago: nothing
Four years ago: Red onion chili bhajis with mint and garlic raita (Indian).
Five years ago: Za'atar dip (sauce) (Jewish and Palestinian) (raw vegan).
Six years ago: Ginger cake squares (crispy base, fudgy topping).
Seven years ago: Onion-tamarind soup with herb butter baguette.
Eight years ago: Tortilla de patatas (Spanish potato omelette) with parsley and fennel and Red wine pears with Camembert.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Ghebe cu smântână și usturoi (Honey mushrooms with cream and garlic) (Romanian)

Honey mushrooms are a very popular food item in the Romanian cuisine. Each spring people actually go in the forests to pick them (even your average Joe who's not in the mushroom picking business and wouldn't risk picking any other kinds of mushrooms for fear he doesn't know them too well) and large packs of these mushrooms are also frozen for the winter months. 
To cut a long story short, this mushroom is consumed a lot and in various dishes: as a vegetarian alternative filling for sarmale (stuffed grape leaves, usually made with a meat-based filling), as a main component in earthy stews, stove-made or baked, stuffed with breadcrumbs and cheese or simply cooked with onions and garlic and served with a little cream, like here.
The key to obtaining something delicious from these mushrooms is cooking them long enough to melt away any potential chewy textures. Once that stage is reached, they become super-soft and buttery, unlike any mushroom you've tasted before. Enjoy.

Last year: Home-made garam masala (Indian spice mix).
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: nothing.
Five years ago: Peanut butter and bacon sandwich (American).
Six years ago: Breakfast pizza with bacon and egg.
Seven years ago: Dukkah-coated turkey wraps.
Eight years ago: Sweet pumpkin strips, pan-fried, with honey (vegan) and Simple wellness salad with potatoes, apple, feta and egg.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Negresă (Romanian brownie)

If you're from the Western world, you will be attempted to say "but this isn't a brownie" as soon as you see the recipe for these (one of the first things that might surprise you is that they don't actually contain any chocolate). Well, it was the closest thing Romanian households could afford to make during communist and early post-communist times, and the recipe caught on in its current form. 
Sure, after the regime fell, especially in recent years, American-style brownies started stealing the scene in Romanian kitchens as well, but these cake squares right here are still associated with the childhood memories of many young people who grew up then (and in the immediate ten-year aftermath).
Anyway, to return to the recipe itself, it's lighter and less rich tasting than classic brownie recipes, and also more fluffy (leavened by a little baking powder and by beating the egg whites separately). After baking, a thick cocoa syrup is used to glaze the cake before cutting it into squares. Sometimes, it's also decorated with coconut flakes. Enjoy.

Last year: Mixed bean salad with pumpkin seed oil.
Two years ago: nothing
Three years ago: nothing
Four years ago: nothing
Five years ago: Orange and wine infused chickpea and mushroom stew (vegan).
Six years ago: New York-style pizza crust (puffy and thin) (vegan).
Seven years ago: Dukkah (Egyptian and generally Middle Eastern) (vegan).
Eight years ago: Simple chicken stock and Chicken risotto with bell pepper.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Clam and herb pizza

After seeing this idea here, suddenly a clam pizza with herbs seemed like an interesting dinner, especially if you're into seafood. I gave it a try (adapting the recipe a bit, like adding a touch of curry) and didn't regret it. Easy to put together and delicious to eat. Enjoy :)

Last year: Tamarillo and red wine rice pudding.
Two years ago: nothing
Three years ago: nothing
Four years ago: nothing
Five years ago: Lemon and condensed milk cream tart.
Six years ago: Authentic carbonara (Italian).
Seven years ago: Tuna and clementine creamy spread.
Eight years ago: "Lapte de pasăre" (Romanian "bird's milk" dessert, my mom's recipe)

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Hot buttered rum (American)

The pirate alternative to mulled wine :). All joking aside, the hot buttered rum is a traditional winter drink in American pubs. Dilluted with water, the rum is then warmed and mixed with sugar and spices. A bit of butter added to the pot gives just the right amount of creaminess that is longed for. Enjoy it warm and in moderation ;).
Recipe source: Saveur.

Last year: nothing
Two years ago: nothing
Three years ago: nothing
Four years ago: French garlic soup with mint.
Five years ago: Pear salad with walnuts and Gorgonzola (American).
Six years ago: Kedgeree (Anglo-Indian or Scottish).
Seven years ago: Tapenade (olive paste) bread rolls.
Eight years ago: Tabbouleh (Lebanese and generally Middle Eastern bulgur wheat salad) (vegan) and Simple wellness salad with endives, feta, clementines and pumpkin seeds.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Tostadas con garbanzos y guacamole (Mexican)

Warm crispy wheat tortillas with melted cheese on top. And a generous spread of guacamole on top of that. And a sprinkle of garbanzos (chickpeas) on top of that. And some more grated cheese (not melted, this time) to finish everything. :) It tastes cheesy and chickpea-y and fresh and crispy  It's the perfect snack or light meal. Enjoy.

Last year: Spaghetti with Garlic and Cumin (Italian-Moroccan).
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: nothing.
Five years ago: Smoked salmon and scrambled egg on toasted bun.
Six years ago: Peanut butter cookies (American).
Seven years ago: Cranberry and walnut scones (Southern USA style).
Eight years ago: Zucchini and caraway salad with parsley and lemon salad.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Requesón Revuelto (Ricotta scramble with tomatoes and chili) (Mexican)

A traditional recipe that involved the slow scrambling of ricotta cheese with chilies and onion and tomatoes and oil until all the water evaporates and you're left with a creamy and hot spread. It's meant to be served smeared on tortillas, like this:

Which of course doesn't mean you can't have it on regular bread or on whatever you like. 
Caution: people who can't stand things too spicy should definitely reduce the number of chili peppers that go into this baby. For me, it was perfect like this, but I tend to be hardcore about spices, so don't follow my lead if you can't handle a good amount of heat :).
Recipe source: Saveur.

Last year: Lemon pepper cod with basil rice.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: nothing.
Five years ago: Palak dal (Indian lentil and spinach curry) (vegan).
Six years ago: Mint and carrot tzatziki (raw).
Seven years ago: Eggplant croquettes (fritters) with spicy-sour yogurt sauce.
Eight years ago: Fast baby pasta with creamy Parmesan and pea sauce and Pasta con pomodoro (Italian simple tomato sauce pasta).

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Goan chicken curry (Indian)

Happy New Year everyone! 
This is a chicken curry recipe specific to the region of Goan in India. It's made by marinating chicken pieces in a specific spice mixture, then cooking it all together with onions, garlic, mustard seeds and coconut milk. The result is unbelievably flavorful, creamy and not very hot. If you or your guests are just getting familiar with Indian cuisine or spicy foods, this would be a good dish to start with.
Recipe source: here

Last year: Australian flat white.
Two years ago: nothing.
Three years ago: nothing.
Four years ago: nothing.
Five years ago: Nutella hot chocolate with hazelnut liquor
Six years ago: Spinach and chickpea soup with chorizo.
Seven years ago: Pollo alla cacciatora (Hunter's chicken stew) (Italian).
Eight years ago: Fried carp with polenta and garlic sauce (Moldavian/Romanian).

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