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Monday, December 29, 2014

Birchermuesli complet (Swiss-German)

If you've managed to make your own Muesli mix by now, the next step is to serve the full Muesli breakfast, the way it was intended to be served when Dr. Maximilian Bircher-Benner designed it. :)
This "full breakfast" includes a bowl of Muesli with milk or yogurt, a banana, a roll of bread with butter and a large cup of milk coffee. You'll love it, I promise. :) [And it will also keep you full whenever you have a long day ahead - tried and tested]. 
I just thought that for once, I should end my year of posting with a healthy and not that fancy recipe, instead of some complicated cake like the previous years. Enjoy! :)
P.S: Today was a very, very happy day <3 :).

Last year: Banana cheesecake with candied cherries.
Two years ago: Tiramisu (Italian).
Three years ago: Carrot and clementine cake with carrot-ginger marmalade, honey-cream cheese frosting and balsamic glaze.
Four years ago: Eggplant and spicy chicken bits with mascarpone pasta.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Muesli (Swiss-German)

Probably the best known breakfast cereal mix, Muesli was invented by a Swiss doctor, Maximilian Bircher-Benner at around 1900 for its health properties. Ever since, this lovely cereal mix has become a favorite all over the world, and one of the greatest things about it is how highly adaptable it is to personal preferences, if you make it at home.
It's very easy to make, you skip a ton of extra sugar and additives, and you also add almost any combo of cereals, nuts, dried fruit and even herbs and spices. Whatever suits your fancy :). Here's a basic recipe to get started. 

Last year: Crab starters with guacamole and black sesame.
Two years ago: Pumpernikel rounds with beef ham, mustard and cornichons.
Three years ago: Simple bundt cake with raisins (Romanian guguluf).
Four years ago: Pasta alla carbonara (Italian) and Ginger-lemon chicken breast with honey-spicy vegetable sautee.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Brændende kærlighed ("Burning love") (Danish)

Scandinavian comfort food at its best. A plate of buttery and fluffy mashed potatoes topped with fried bits of onion and bacon, and nicknamed "Burning love" by the Danes. I guess this supports that theory which states that we express affection by feeding people. :) [I know I tend to].
Recipe source: here.

Last year: Gorgonzola and white wine potato gratin
Two years ago: Prosciutto, chile and onion pizza.
Three years ago: Raw winter salad in preserved peaches (Romanian).
Four years ago: Smoked salmon on lemon-herb butter toast.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Risalamande (Danish rice pudding with whipped cream and almonds)

This is a rice pudding meant to be served on Christmas day, based on the left-overs of a more simple pudding, Risengrød. Basically the leftovers are mixed with freshly whipped cream and chopped almonds, with a single almond left whole and hidden somewhere inside the dish for one lucky person to find :). It's meant to be served cold and it's absolutely airy and delicious, especially if you whip the cream really well until stiff before incorporating it in the sweet rice.
The name comes from the French "rice with almonds" :). Enjoy.
More info on this dessert here.

Last year: Baked cod in tomato, bean and olive sauce.
Two years ago: Fennel, onion and Gouda quiche.
Three years ago: Simple tortellini soup.
Four years ago: Simple blackberry-almond treat and Italian orrecchiette with Parmesan cream, bell pepper and olives.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Risengrød / Risgrynsgröt (Danish and Swedish rice pudding)

This was a really nice and comforting rice pudding. According to, it's called Risengrød in Denmark and Risgrynsgröt in Sweden, and it's especially served on Christmas Eve - both to family members and, traditionally, as an offering to the Nisse or Tomte, a benevolent but touchy household spirit. 
A single blanched almond is added to the pot before serving; whoever finds it is likely to be married in the next twelve months. Leftovers are reserved and used to make a more elegant rice pudding (Risalamande in Danish) to serve with Christmas dinner the next day. Enjoy.
Recipe source: here.

Last year: Dates filled with mascarpone and almonds (raw).
Two years ago: The Easterner (cocktail).
Three years ago: Breakfast braided bread with cheese and ham filling.
Four years ago: Avocado halves stuffed with salty cheese and tomatoes and Mexican nachos with four mixed dips (salsa, guacamole, garlic sauce, cheese fondue).

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Porkkanalaatikko (Carrot casserole for Christmas) (Finnish)

This is a traditional casserole based on grated carrot, rice, eggs and cream, and a delicious topping of butter and breadcrumbs. It's served as a side dish in Finland, especially around the winter holidays. It may taste a bit bland if you prefer spicy foods, but as a side to Christmas roast or the main course of your choosing, you may find it charming. :)
Recipe source: here

Last year: Răcituri de pui (Romanian chicken and garlic aspic).
Two years ago: Amaretto chocolate truffles.
Three years ago: Vanillekipferln (Austrian vanilla crescent cookies).
Four years ago: Spicy turkey fillet in coriander-tomato sauce and Butter and smoked salmon pasta.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ostabrauð (Hot Icelandic Cheese Bread)

Since I planned to share more Scandinavian recipes here this month, it was about time to feature something from Iceland. And this something is just perfect for cold temperatures, and fast to throw together if you're preparing warm snacks for a little crowd of friends that drop by. Sliced bread buns go into the oven, topped with plenty of cheese and other toppings (like ham, pineapple rings and asparagus). Enjoy!
Recipe source: here and here.

Last year: Sărmăluțe în viță de vie (Romanian stuffed grape leaves).
Two years ago: Wood ear mushroom salad (Chinese) (raw vegan).
Three years ago: Bulgur pilaf with garlic.
Four years ago: Lebkuchen (German gingerbread) and Ragout with tarragon and white wine sauce (German).

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Lussebullar (Lussekatter) (Swedish Lucia breads)

These little buns are traditionally made and enjoyed in Sweden on the 13th of December, known as St Lucia's Day. The history of the Lucia buns (or light buns, since St Lucia is a saint associated with lights) is pretty cute. According to legend, on December 13, 1764, a gentleman in Sweden was roused in the middle of the night by a beautiful voice. He saw a young woman in white moving through his room singing. She had wings and was carrying a candle. She was revealed to be Lucia the Saint. She brought light, food, and wine as comfort on what was, in the old Gregorian calendar, the longest night of the year. She's still an important cultural icon and the holiday celebrating her is still very much alive. (A bit off-topic, I even had a perfume some years ago which was named in her honor and that was supposed to smell like "warm light". The model posing for the perfume's commercial was a very pretty Northern-type of beauty with almost whitish hair and very large eyes.)

Anyway, try the buns. They're not very sweet, but the saffron flavor is so intense and addictive you'll go through them faster than you planned. :)
Recipe source(s): here, here and here.

Last year: Ciorbă de burtă falsă (Romanian shiitake and chantarellus mushroom soup).
Two years ago: Crispy duck with five spices (Chinese).
Three years ago: Tapenade, wild mushroom and red onion galette (vegan).
Four years ago: Romanian and Moldavian "Tochitură" with polenta.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Brownie cake with cream cheese frosting and pomegranate tree

I say get creative with your toppings/decorations. With these simple moves here, the plainest brownie cake gets transformed into something elegant and beautiful. Its looks pretty and a bit Japanese cherry-blossom tree-ish, doesn't it? :)

Last year: Le fondant au chocolat (French chocolate cake).
Two years ago: Upside down pineapple cake (American).
Three years ago: Classic Pavlova (Australia and New Zealand).
Four years ago: Light and colorful field salad and Gottergetränk (Drink of the gods) (German hot chocolate drink).

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Glühwein (German and Austrian mulled wine) (vegan)

Mulled wine is a nice tradition pretty much in every European country, but the German/Austrian Glühwein (which means something like "glow wine", from the hot glowing irons once used to make it) is definitely one of my faves. I especially love how easy it is to just pick up a bottle of the ready-made stuff from nearly every supermarket and just heat it up a little on the stove before serving it. But of course, just like in the case of everything else, the home-made / from scratch version of it is even more wonderful. And almost just as easy :).
More on the history of mulled wine in general and this kind in particular over here.

Last year: White Russian (cocktail).
Two years ago: Chicken, rice and caraway soup (Asian-style).
Three years ago: Farfalle with cheddar cream, green apple and red onion.
Four years ago: German mustard cream pork chops and German apple and leek winter salad.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Pytti panna (Scandinavian hash) (Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish)

Scandinavian comfort food at its best - a hash made of diced left-over veggies and meat, closely related to the British bubble and squeak, and topped with a delicious sunny-side up fried egg. Pyttipanna means "small pieces in pan" :). It's often called just "pytt", or sometimes 'hänt i veckan' ('happened this past week') - reflecting the dish's origins to be something you make with leftovers. In Denmark it's called "biskemard", which means something that's been mixed together.
The great thing about it is that it's so delicious that it's totally worth it to make from scratch. No need to wait for leftovers to make this goodie. Also, rumors say it's a great hangover food. Not that lil-o-me would know anything about that ;).
Recipe source: Mazi.

Last year: Köttbullar med Potatismos (Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes).
Two years ago: Onion-Gouda-bacon fritters.
Three years ago: Turkey fillet with chestnuts.
Four years ago: French onion soup with oregano, toast and emmentaler

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Baked aubergines with mozzarella and garlic-pomegranate-mint sauce

One of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. Make sure you use the freshest eggplants available, if you get bitter ones it will ruin the whole dish. 
It's easy to make, it just sits for a long time in the oven, but what pops out is pure heavenly comfort food. Enjoy.
Recipe source: Cătălina.

Last year: Pasta Arabbiata (Angry penne) (Italian)(vegan).
Two years ago: Grilled turkey breast with avocado-feta salsa.
Three years ago: Quesadillas with cheddar, bacon and cherry tomatoes (Mexican).
Four years ago: Cheese-stuffed mushrooms and cheese fussili with herbs and aioli; and Swedish-style salmon with vegetables and white sauce.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dulce de leche, marshmallow and banana layered cake + 4 year blog anniversary

The most interesting thing about this cake was its unique and intriguing combination of textures. The cake layers were moist but firm banana cake, the cream gathering up between them was a combination of dulce de leche layers and pillow-y whipped cream with banana and chewy marshmallow bits; while the top was slathered, as you can see, with dulce de leche and whole marshmallows to finish everything off.
The dulce de leche is, of course, intensely sweet, while the cream was almost not sweet at all, except for the occasional banana or marshmallow bit. The overall taste is thus balanced and contrasting and lovely :).
Sounds irresistible? Well, it really was. :)
Not too complicated to make, ready in about 1 h and a half or so, in a very relaxed pace.
Recipe only slightly adapted from Good Food

And as a post-scriptum, this cake is meant as a celebration for yesterday (Romania's National Holiday) and for today (which marks the 4 year anniversary of my blog). :)

Last year: Peanut butter marbled brownies + 3 year blog anniversary.
Two years ago: Cocoa macarons with chocolate cream cheese filling + 2 year blog anniversary.
Three years ago: Classic chocolate cream pie (American) + 1 year blog anniversary.
Four years ago: Complete meal salad with basil and Simple fried bananas with cinnamon and honey (Central and South American). (A.k.a. the humble beginnings). 

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