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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Barmbrack (Irish)

A traditional Irish sweet yeasted bread made with black tea and raisins which has gained much popularity as a Halloween treat, becoming the center of this holiday's culinary custom in Ireland. :) 
Its name, Barmbrack, is a short Westernized version of its Irish name, Bairin Breac (which means speckled bread, the speckles coming from the raisins in it).
It is also served often with butter and tea in the afternoon during other times of the year. Not overly sweet, it can be eaten guilt-free or paired with other sweet spreads (jams) beside the butter.
More on this bread's history here

Last year: Zucchini cream soup (vegan).
Two years ago: Chocolate banana bread with white chocolate chips.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Creamy white bean dip / spread

This dip is fast to make in a blender and it's a wonderful new thing to try for when you grow bored of hummus
Seasoned with caraway and garlic, made with white beans and chickpeas and creamed with a bit of Greek yogurt, it's great both as a dip for veggie sticks and as a spread on crusty bread :).
As to variations you could try, I was thinking of adding lots of fried onions next time, and maybe some chili... etc :).
Recipe adapted from here.

Last year: Broccoli, chicken and cheese casserole.
Two years ago: Potato, cheese and mushroom gratin.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wild rice risotto with peas and basil pesto

Since I'm a big fan of risottos in all combinations, I guess I did it again. I fantasized about using a white-wild rice instead of the regular arborio (even if that meant sacrificing a bit of the creaminess) with peas and basil pesto for a while before I finally found the time to make it, but when I actually did, the result matched my expectations and then some :).
Enjoy. It tastes like green and fresh and crunchy and garden-wonderful. :)

Last year: Belgian brownies.
Two years ago: Polish buttermilk drink (Kwasne Mleko Ze Szczypiorkiem).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hoddeok (Korean pancakes) (vegan version)

The hoddeok (or hotteok) is a sweet Korean pancake (more like doughnut, actually) very popular both in home cooking and as street food. The dough is always made with yeast - which ensures an elastic and delicious puffiness - and it can be water-based (making them vegan, like here) or milk-based. The filling is one of brown sugar and cinnamon, becoming something pretty close to caramel after frying. 
They're easy to make and the results are delicious enough to make you want to repeat the deed. Enjoy :)
Recipe source: here.

Last year: Grilled cheese (halloumi) and veggies on bulgur (Greek).
Two years ago: Scottish cardamom griddle scones with butter and honey.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Glazed duck with orange sauce and vegetables

The advantage of this roast whole duck recipe with delicious French flavors is that it's a one-dish thing and thus a lot easier to make than it seems for everyone when you bring it at the table :). A perfect dish to serve in the cold season (given the fact that it uses root vegetables and it has a citrus glaze and sauce and just looking at it makes you feel warmer). 

To be honest, speaking of roast whole ducks, I preferred our Crispy duck with five spices, but only slightly, and considering that this is way easier to make, I really would have a hard time deciding which one to recommend more. Maybe you should just try them both :)
Recipe (barely) adapted from Ana
P.S: Also submitting this recipe to this month's Sweet Romania challenge.

Last year: North Croatian deer goulash.
Two years ago: Scottish cardamom griddle scones with butter and honey.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pumpkin and sage soup

A pumpkin and sage cream soup topped with fried shallots and crispy fried sage leaves. Perfect for tasting fall with all your pores :).
Recipe adapted from here

Last year: Potato, sun-dried tomatoes and herbs creamy salad.
Two years ago: Scottish cardamom griddle scones with butter and honey.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fig and blue cheese tart

A lovely savory tart using a walnut pastry shell filled with fresh figs, crumbly blue mold cheese and thyme-infused shallots. A slice of this is the ideal vegetarian supper for cold and moody days. It tastes crunchy and creamy and multi-textured. 

This is sort of a posh-ed up version of a quiche. As if it would need more posh :). You can feel every bit of detail and hint - starting with the little seeds inside the figs and finishing with the touch of thyme. All in all - definitely worth the time required to make it. 
Recipe source: here.

Last year: Duck eggs with broccoli and prosciutto.
Two years ago: Scottish cardamom griddle scones with butter and honey.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Cocoa and chili biscotti (Aztec-style biscuits)

I was thinking about the Aztec hot chocolate (with the same glorious cocoa and chili combination) when I got the idea for these. And a good idea it was! If you enjoy that combination in chocolate bars or hot cocoa drinks, you'll love these as well.
Easy to make and perfect to nibble on next to your favorite drink :)

Last year: Cajeta cake squares (Molten caramel cake).
Two years ago: Scottish cardamom griddle scones, with butter and honey.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Aztec hot chocolate

Apparently research has pointed out that the Aztecs enjoyed a hot drink very similar to our hot chocolate, made of ground cocoa beans, milk and generously spiced with chili. That's why we can also find chili chocolate bars in supermarkets and so on - it was all their idea all along :)
Of course, I love the combination so much I used it in other things too (like Aztec-style cocoa and chili biscotti and so on), but this is the original. 
Enjoy :)
P.S: This is something completely different from the Mexican hot chocolate (that adds a touch of cinnamon and coffee instead of the chili).

Last year: Rosemary, Gruyere cheese and potato bread.
Two years ago: Tagliatelle with Gorgonzola and spinach sauce.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hasselback potatoes (Swedish)

Also known as "accordion" potatoes, the Hasselback potatoes bear the name of the restaurant in Stockholm which invented them :)
They are sliced, but not all the way, and then baked, which makes them become half-crisps, half-baked potatoes in a lovely combination with butter and a bit of grated cheese. Known variations include sprinkling them with parsley or keeping their peel on, but anyway you make them you'll surely love them. Enjoy.
Recipe source: many, but I prefer the one here for authenticity.
P.S: I'm submitting this recipe to October's Sweet Romania challenge, hosted by the lovely Cristina. :)

Last year: Salată de varză (Romanian white cabbage salad) (raw vegan).
Two years ago: Simple strawberry, cream and rice crispies treat.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Cheddar and oat scones (British)

Crunchy oat scones with a mild cheddar flavor, great to serve in salty combinations (with yogurt, buttermilk, chutneys, cold cuts, soups and so on). With only 5 minutes prep time and only 15 minutes baking time, you can prepare this simple treat anytime you like. Enjoy :)
Recipe source: here

Last year: Mexican rice with vegetables (vegan).
Two years ago: Sweet potato and prosciutto starters.

Friday, October 4, 2013

American pumpkin pie (from scratch)

The pumpkin pie we used to make every autumn while we were kids wasn't made in this style. It has a base and a topping of puff pastry and the pumpkin in it was grated while raw and retained its texture after baking as well. While the Romanian-style pumpkin pie will always taste like home to us, this American-style pumpkin pie isn't something we'd say no to either. :) It certainly is very different: open-faced, with a shortcrust-style base and creamy twice baked pumpkin center and so on. But it's also delicious. Especially served with a topping of whipped cream:

This is the basic and traditional recipe. I like making all sorts of variations, but this is the starting point for all pumpkin pie experiments. And certainly delicious enough by itself. Enjoy :)

Last year: Lemon pepper grilled chicken.
Two years ago: Fritata with bell pepper and Tirolean sausages.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Autumn chestnut and beetroot salad

A wonderfully hearty salad that contains the best of autumn's bounty: chestnuts, beetroot, garlicky buttered bread, apples, mustard, salad leaves, walnut oil, red onion etc. Served with a slice of prosciutto on top (as you can see above), but feel free to skip it in order to keep the salad simpler and vegetarian. 
Recipe slightly adapted from here.

Last year: Fig, rosemary and mascarpone tartlets.
Two years ago: Spicy Guinness mustard (Irish).

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