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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. They are similar to the Portugese Queijadas, also made with cheeses, though in this version from Sintra I used custard (as the more traditional choice). 
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)

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