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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Carrot, raisin and olive oil cake bars with eggnog and almond icing

A nice and healthier twist on the classic carrot cake, using olive oil and lemon juice&zest, and some rum-soaked raisins. Yum. It was all finished with an impressive glaze based on eggnog and white chocolate and sliced almonds. These cake bars were very appreciated and enjoyed :).

Last year: Minty crème brûlée.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kong Bao Ji Ding (Kung Pao chicken) (Chinese)

This is a typical Chinese dish of chicken thigh pieces with scallions, chili, peanuts and a sticky sweet and sour sauce that coated everything in the end. This dish has become extremely popular in the Western world and is today available is most Chinese restaurants and take-aways. Its original name is "Kong Bao Ji Ding", but the shortened Westernized version is simply Kung Pao chicken. You probably already know and love this dish, but try making it yourself this time and you'll be surprised by how much better is tastes when it's freshly home-made :).
It was made while I was moving back to Bucharest (I seem to be a typical girl-scout / anthropologist, always on the move) and the picture was made with a cell, as I didn't have my camera with me. That would explain the lack of more pictures and the poor quality :). But don't let that put you off - this meal is pretty fast to make, very simple and stunningly delicious. Guaranteed; girl-scout's honor. :)

Last year: Spaghetti nests with dill cream and caviar.
Two years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

Monday, August 26, 2013

Mojito (cocktail) (Cuban) (vegan)

The classic mint, brown sugar, lime and white rum cocktail, so refreshing on warm days :). 

This lovely drink originated in Cuba, and it was Ernest Hemingway's favorite drink. He ordered it a lot in a bar called La Bodeguita del Medio, which became famous because he attended it as a regular. He wrote "My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daquiri in El Floridita" on the bar's walls, and this can still be read today on the same walls, in his handwriting. Which definitely puts that bar on my visiting list ;).

Oh, and I hate to brag, but the Mojito flavor is also one of my favorites in shampoos and shower gels. I'm highly selective when it comes to such things ;).

It tastes like vacation and sunshine and not having a care in the world! Enjoy.

Last year: Tomato-basil creamy soup with caprese toast.
Two years ago: baby making and no cooking. :)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Spaghetti with broccoli cream pesto

The broccoli pesto richly drenching the above pictured pasta was actually very easy to make and with a surprisingly refreshing and "green" taste. Flavored with sauteed shallots and garlic and a little olive oil. Not too heavy, with just a little cream and grated Parmesan cheese to enrich the overall consistency and flavor. 
Everything served over wholemeal spaghetti. This was a really lovely dinner. :)
Recipe adapted from here

Last year: Spanish tomato bread with jamon serrano.
Two years ago: Baby making and no cooking. :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tiny German pancakes (with strawberry filling)

A German pancake (or Dutch baby) is a sweet popover (pancake batter cup-shaped sweet) that is filled with a wide range of delicious fillings. This time I made them in miniature version, easier than you can imagine, just by using a mini muffin tray. 
First saw the idea here (and adapted it just a little bit).
The delicious fresh strawberry&jam filling made everything perfect afterwards.
It's the ideal thing to dig into for breakfast. :)

Last year: Strawberry, banana and flax seed muffins.
Two years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

Friday, August 16, 2013

Avocado and green leaf salad (vegan)

I showed you how to make your own croutons in my last post, now it's time to show you what you can do with them :). Like this glorious and almost instant-to-make salad. 
It's one of my go-to-s when I'm in a hurry but still need to eat something before I return to whatever it is I have to write. With some of my favorite things ever: avocado, spinach, rucola and so on. :)
Recipe inspired from here

Last year: Mushroom and broccoli filled omelet
Two years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

Thursday, August 15, 2013

White bread croutons (vegan)

Making bread croutons to use them later in soups or salads is another thing I prefer to do at home, as the ready-to-buy ones are always full of additives or just not that yummy. 
This is the basic recipe for making them, but you can always get creative with adding various herbs and spices. Improvise and enjoy :)

Last year: Chicken with light gorgonzola and mushroom sauce.
Two years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

Monday, August 12, 2013

Ciorbă de gulii (Romanian Kohlrabi soup) (vegan)

A simple and light soup made in the Romanian kitchens for lent days. To be honest, this was never made in my family, but I decided to try it at least once to see how it is. And it's not at all bad :). Its lightness makes it ideal not only for lent, but also for very hot summer days like these, when it's important to stay hydrated and not over-work your body into processing rich foods :). Enjoy.
Recipe source: here.

Last year: Smoked salmon carpaccio with sun-dried tomatoes (raw) (Swedish "Najad Lax").
Two years ago: Baby making and no cooking. :)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Pink raspberry lemonade (raw vegan)

The pink colored and raspberry flavored version of everyone's favorite summer drink. I love the flavor and the naturally-formed foam. Enjoy :)

Last year: Pain aux herbes de Provence (French) (vegan).
Two years ago: Baby making and no cooking :) .

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Peach and vanilla cream pie

A lovely pie filled with vanilla cream and fresh peaches. To us, it was the perfect dive into August, the end the summer season, sharing it with a few friends over drinks and laughs. :)

What I wanted to achieve when I first imagined it was to make it a bit crunchy on the base, rich and creamy in the middle layer (like doooh, vanilla cream) but also retain a note of freshness and raw-ripe fruit flavor that most pies fail to have because of the baking. That's why I wanted to keep the fruit fresh, and the sweetness of peaches seemed like the ideal flavor for this. :)
All in all, I can't find a single thing I didn't like about this pie. Definitely repeatable. Enjoy :)

P.S: Submitting this to the Sweet Romania challenge, as a seasonal treat that captures the taste of summer :).

Last year: Lemon and artichoke spaghetti (vegan).
Two years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Field salad with parsley and breaded Camembert

This is one of my favorite dishes. Bread and fry the Camembert wheel until it's crispy and golden on the outside and melted and hot on the outside. Serve with fresh salad (made ahead). And voila - comfort food heaven.

Last year: Gyeran-Jim (Korean fritata with green onion).
Two years ago: Baby making and no cooking :).

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Chickpea and ras-el-hanout cous cous (Moroccan-style) (vegan)

A fast and intensely flavored cous cous dish that combines the ingredients of Moroccan cuisine in a nourishing vegan feast.
I don't know if you're familiar with the ras-el-hanout spice blend or how often you use it, but what initially caught my attention about this dish was the fact that it proved this awesome spice isn't suited only for lamb or tagines. Here, it gives the cous cous and the chickpeas a deliciously warm hint. The ripe tomatoes and the chickpeas and the pine nuts only give body and more flavor to the whole thing. Enjoy :)
Recipe source: the lovely Andie.
P.S: I'm submitting this recipe to this month's Sweet Romania challenge :).

Last year: Raspberry-chocolate brownies.
Two years ago: baby making and no cooking :).

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Moules frites (Belgian and French)

This is a national Belgian dish consisting of fresh mussels cooked in wine, butter, celery and leeks, accompanied by frites (French fries) and hand-made mayo. When I visited my friends Laura and Vlad in Belgium earlier this year (in June), almost every traditional restaurant displayed this dish on their menus outside the entrance :). I decided to make them at home and present them to you as the local specialty. 
I visited several cities in Belgium (Leuven, Brussels, Bruges), but where I loved it most was in Bruges. You can admire its famous market square and clock tower below:

By far the prettiest city, rightfully compared to a fairy-tale setting. I might be inclined towards it considering my older love for anything medieval (I will have a book - my phd, actually - be published on medieval festivals soon, yey!), but I still think the city is pretty enough to melt anyone.

If you happen to pass by Bruges, you must definitely try one of their boat rides. It takes you through the best parts of what the city has to show you and it's prettier than any boat ride you could imagine :). This is me (below), looking over a bridge towards the canals where the boats pass through (and some hour later we took a boat ride as well).

To see some scenery from Bruges, you could try watching In Bruges. It's a pretty funny movie :). To have a taste of Belgium try my mussels recipe, detailed below, after the jump.
Recipe source: Saveur

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

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