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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Elena Ruz (Turkey Tea Sandwich) (Cuban)



A delicious tea sandwich from Cuban cuisine, this sliced bun combines cream cheese with strawberry preserves and a slice of turkey ham. After it gets composed, the final touch is for the sandwich to get fried in a but of butter, until golden and heated and delicious. You may find the combination of ham and preserves and cream cheese to be a bit unusual, but you'll be convinced as soon as you take the first bite. 
The sandwich is named after Elena Ruz, a beautiful society debutante who lived in the 1930s' Cuba. After attending an evening opera show, she used to stop by El Carmela (a famous restaurant in those days) and ask the waiter to fix her a custom sandwich made after her instructions. You guessed it: the sandwich was in time named after her and here it is. :)
Recipe source: Saveur (and background info here). 

Last year: Banana and chocolate chunk cake squares.
Two years ago: Brownies with mixed seeds and vanilla.
Threeo years ago: Cinnamon and brown sugar palmiers.
Four years ago: Diet muffins with cranberries, dark chocolate and spices and Risotto with caramelized onions, artichokes and bacon.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Café Cubano (Cuban espresso) (vegan)


The Cuban espresso is different from other espresso drinks because it adds the sugar (raw demerara sugar, to more precise) right in the making of the espresso, thus creating a sweet and very delicate foam that is its specific signature. The drink is not only special from this technical point of view, but it has become a huge part of the Cuban culture and social ritual ever since espresso machines started being imported from Italy or a large(r) scale. 
More on the background of the drink here.
P.S: It's great served with a sweet cookie or biscuit. Pictured above is a raspberry-almond heart biscuit. ;)

Last year: Kela ki subji (Indian banana curry) (vegan)
Two years ago: Simple broccoli, artichoke and bechamel souffle.
Three years ago: Moroccan preserved lemons (vegan).
Four years ago: Black olive dip (French Tapenade) and Concentrated orange juice caramel (vegan).


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Raspberry almond heart biscuits



A quick and easy biscuit recipe using the same ingredients as pie crust. I actually had some extra left over, and I thought it would be nice to just roll it out, cut it with a nice cookie shape and top it with whole almonds and raspberry jam. The result was really delicious, not too sweet, but well-flavored. 
I like making this kind of biscuits at least once a week, because they keep well and they're just what was missing from my morning coffee or tea. Enjoy :).

P.S: I featured the heart-shaped biscuit today because in Romania we celebrate Dragobete, considered by many a pre-Christian celebration of love and romance, just as spring is about to set in. Truth be told, no one was actually observing this holiday anymore a few years ago, so it remained in our minds only in name (most of us had maybe heard about it as an old pagan rite that great-parents used to observe in rural areas decades ago and maybe not even then). It was more or less extinct in anything but name, but the last few years brought on a revival of the Dragobete, only as a cultural response to the growing number of people celebrating Valentine's Day (following the logic that if we must have such a kitschy holiday, the least we could do is celebrate our own instead of the American one). I personally couldn't care less about either of them, but a nice occasion to celebrate whatever you hold dear is always welcome. :)

Last year: Courgette and feta cheese tart.
Two years ago: Bulgogi (Korean fried beef with cellophane noodles).
Three years ago: Home-made Raclette bowls with wild mushrooms, lemon and capers.
Four years ago: Spaghetti and tuna balls and Orange and poppy seed muffins.



Sunday, February 22, 2015

Risotto de quinua y pimientos amarillos (Quinoa risotto with yellow peppers) (Chilean and Bolivian)


This risotto made with quinoa is considered by many as the staple / national dish of both Chilean and Bolivian cuisines. It's rich and delicious from the grated cheese and the butter, and greatly flavored with the aji amarillo (orange pepper) ever present in South American cuisines. If you can find aji paste at a specialty store it would be great, but if not, you can just use it raw; the risotto with taste just as delicious. :)
To be honest, I think I very much prefer this to regular risotto. Just try it and you'll see. It's absolutely delicious. I think even people who are usually not very keen on quinoa will love it.
Recipe source: here.

Last year: Leek, potato and bacon soup (British).
Two years ago: Halloumi and chickpea salad with mint and oranges.
Three years ago: Bell pepper sticks with refried bean dip.
Four years ago: Tikka Masala chicken cous cous (British-Indian) and Czech poppy seed cakes (kolaches).


Friday, February 20, 2015

Ensalada de quinoa con chonta (Central and South American) (vegan)


I wanted to explore the cuisine of Central and South America some more and this was one of my favorite discoveries while researching it. It's delicious and fresh and a bit tangy and I couldn't stop eating it. Also - which is something I can say about few dishes - I have repeated this one more than once. I keep a can of palm hearts in my cupboard especially for when the munchies strike and I quickly fix a bowl of this good stuff. Enjoy.
Recipe source: here.

Last year: The Sidecar (cocktail).
Two years ago: Pears with rosemary sugar dust (raw vegan).
Three years ago: Beefsteaks in apple juice.
Four years ago: Broccoli and pancetta orecchietteNoodle salad with black sesame (vegan) and Chocolate and stout cupcakes (Irish).


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Shrimp pizza with cherry tomatoes and parsley


I'm a fan of most seafood and especially shrimps in almost any size or any method of preparation. And since everyone likes pizza (right? right?), then it was time to take my love of prawns further and put them onto a pizza base made of crispy wholemeal dough. To make the whole thing very fresh-tasting, I kept the heavy ingredients to a low (just grated mozzarella, but I chose a really good buffalo mozzarella so its full flavor could really be felt in the final dish), and added a lot of fresh ingredients (like cherry tomatoes, a squeeze of lemon and plenty of chopped parsley). The result was delicious, light and perfect by my book. Enjoy :)

Last year: Flourless chocolate cake with choco-whiskey sauce.
Two years ago: Poulet Vallée d'Auge (Chicken, apple and Calvados cream stew) (French).
Three years ago: Sprinkle butter cookies (Italian).
Four years ago: Chinese fried riceBroccoli and ham torte and Cardamom lassi (Indian).


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Syrniki (Sweet Cheese Pancakes) (Russian-Belarusian-Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian)


These Russian pancakes made with fresh cheese and raisins are a popular breakfast or treat all-throughout the Slavic space. The exact name and recipe can be found in Belarus, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, but there are other countries in Eastern Europe which have a similar but different version. For example, in Romania, we make cheese pancakes without the raisins and with semolina flour, my mother's papanași which I've previously told you about :).
They're easy to make and delicious to enjoy. Next time you think about a treat for someone dear or only for yourself (by the way, if you like celebrating Valentine's Day, then I guess this makes the ideal breakfast in bed kind of thing), just whip up a batch of these and serve them with hot black tea (for the full Russian experience). :)
Recipe source: Saveur.

Last year: Harissa and truffle potato puree with mozzarella-olive sauce.
Two years ago: Crispy cheese and guacamole tortillas.
Three years ago: Sprinkle butter cookies (Italian).
Four years ago: Tirolese spinach and cheese dumplings (Austrian)Spinach and cheese crostini and The perfect fluffy fried bananas.



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Kuvana Krtola (Potatoes with yogurt and fresh cheese) (Montenegrin)


This may not look like much, but trust me when I say that it might be the best Balkan meze you'll ever taste (or at least from the non-spicy spectrum of food). If all over the world people seem to like the combination of potatoes and cheese and consider it the epitome of comfort food, this had to be true in the Balkans as well, right?
I initially heard about this dish from an acquaintance who's a travel expert and guide, who said this is what they would recommend first and foremost to anyone traveling in the Montenegro region. I looked it up afterwards and it was so simple to make that I just had to have it by the end of the same day. And I didn't regret it. Even if it's not a typical hard cheese like cheddar, the combination between freshly baked or boiled potatoes and freshly made cheese and yogurt is really good, and kind of refreshing. Try it.

Last year: Pizza Diavola (Italian-American).
Two years ago: Deep fried Brie with tamarillo relish.
Three years ago: Sprinkle butter cookies (Italian).
Four years ago: Mashed potatoes with caramelized shallots and ParmesanPork in spice crust and Banana bread with nuts (American).


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Blue Skies Cake (Orange cake with blue curacao frosting)


I've been dreaming to devise a cake inspired by my favorite cocktail (called Blue Skies, made of milk and Blue Curacao bar syrup) for a long time now. 
I finally created the perfect version of it: both milk-tasting and creamy (from the cream and mascarpone) and with a strong orange and blue orange flavor (because that's what the curacao flavor actually is - a blue orange syrup). The moist sponge below contains plenty of grated orange zest and candied orange peel, while the creamy top is full of cream, mascarpone and blue curacao syrup.


It really tastes like the cocktail I named above :). It's perfect! (at least to me). If you're fans of any cocktail with a slight lagoon-blue color that means you love the curacao flavor too. Which also means you'll love this cake. Enjoy (with a mug of Blue Skies) :).
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Because today my little girl Mira will turn 3, and 3 is a magical number in traditional Romanian fairy tales, I think this was the most appropriate thing to post today. :)

Last year: Sholezard (Iranian rice pudding with saffron, almonds and rosewater).
Two years ago: Ti ki burfi (sesame seed burfi) (Indian).
Three years ago: Sprinkle butter cookies (Italian).
Four years ago: Pickled mustard and Marliesentorte (German hazelnut, chocolate and cream cake).

Friday, February 6, 2015

Classic grilled cheese (British and American)


Words can hardly describe how comforting warm grilled cheese can be. An American and British classic, it consists of simply a grilled (or fried or toasted) sandwich with cheese between the bread slices. After the quick cooking, the bread becomes crispy and toasty and the cheese is melted, making it the ideal comfort food (and a traditional companion to tomato soup). :)
There are multiple variations stemming from the original recipe, with lots of extra topping and ingredients which can be added to the cheese, but this is the basic, classic version. Enjoy. :)
Recipe sources: Smitten Kitchen and Jeff Mauro

Last year: Turkey bites with vodka sauce.
Two years ago: Smoked salmon pizza (Italian).
Three years ago: Sprinkle butter cookies (Italian).
Four years ago: Bacon-wrapped baby cornSpicy chocolate truffles and Pissaladières (French caramelized onion tarts).


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