Roasted bell pepper salad

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Another summer’s favorite. Hated it as a child, absolutely love it now.

You only need few ingredients and your trust worthy cast iron skillet, I promise. 

So you’ll need:

  • bell peppers, 2-3 per serving
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • salt
  • pepper

METHOD:

  1. heat your cast iron skillet on medium high;
  2. wash your peppers, pat them dry and add them to the skillet;
  3. cook over medium heat for 20 minutes or up until the surface of the peppers becomes black;ardei blog (1 of 1).jpg
  4. once done, immediately transfer them to a covered pot with some salt and allow them to steam for another 15-20 minutes;
  5. peel the skin off following the same technique we used with the roasted eggplants in the baba ganoush recipe;
  6. shred or cut the peppers and add them to a Tupperware together with the rest of the ingredients;
  7. add the lid on and shake vigorously;
  8. transfer them to a plate and enjoy it with fresh bread.

Ok, bye

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Berry oats

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Gotta admit, me and oats was a tedious love. Me, a true Romanian that I am, couldn’t eat anything but eggs for breakfast and I still do sometimes. Not sure how many of you travelled to Romania but we do love eggs. They are that food staple that doesn’t ever miss from one’s fridge. And we love them so much we buy them in big packs, 40 eggs per pack or more.

So yeah, me changing to oats for breakfast, to sweet from savory, to creamy delicious eggs to a sweet mess was tedious. But I got accustomed to it, eventually and only recently I have perfected my oats recipe. Which I’m gonna share it with you now!

The key ingredient here that makes all of the difference is adding a tsp of sugar while you cook the oats. GAME CHANGER. Oh, and peanut butter. Peanut butter is purely amazing in oats. Or any other nut butter you have.

But again and with no further due, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsps coconut sugar
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • handful of frozen berries
  • 3 tsp honey

METHOD:

  1. add the oats, water and milk to a sauce pan and set it on high;
  2. when it starts bubbling add the sugar and cinnamon in, stir well and reduce to medium-high;
  3. cook until thickened and creamy, stirring occasionally so it won’t burn the bottom of the pot;
  4. transfer the oats to a bowl, add a tbsp of peanut butter in, a handful of frozen berries next to it and drizzle with honey;
  5. mix everything and enjoy!

The beauty in this recipe is that the frozen berries will cool down your oats perfectly to eat while they will get perfectly warm too and the peanut butter adds that rich creaminess to the bowl that just makes one crave it more. Oh, and also the mix of water and milk will give you a lighter version of the oats!

So that would be it. Let me know if you try it!

Stay healthy,

V.

M’sakhan

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Still a little bit uninspired with your Sunday roast? Try M’sakhan, a Palestinian dish made out of chicken, onions, flatbread and roasted almonds. It’s easy and beyond yummy. Like really, beyond.

You need:

  • 4 chicken legs
  • 4 large onions
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp sumac
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp all spice seasoning
  • handful of almonds
  • vegetable oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 pack of whole wheat flatbreads

METHOD:

  1. cut one onion into slices, rinse your chicken legs, pat them dry, add the olive oil, 2 tbsp sumac, salt and pepper, mix all together and set aside; you can do this step few hours before, if not 20 min in advance should be ok too;
  2. in a heavy bottomed pot, add some vegetable oil and fry the chicken on medium-high until golden brown on all sides;
  3. once the chicken is done, add it all back to the pot with the onion it’s been marinating with and cover it in chicken stock; allow it to cook at medium low for 45 min – 1 hour;
  4. in the meanwhile, cut the rest of the onions, add them to a frying pan and cook them on medium low until golden brown, around 20-30 minutes;
  5. once golden brown and caramelized add some salt, pepper, cinnamon, the leftover sumac and the all spice; mix well and set aside;
  6. clean the frying pan dry, add some vegetable oil to it and toast the almonds until flagrant and nutty; set aside;
  7. preheat your oven at 250° C or to the highest setting your oven can go for;
  8. once the chicken is done, add it to an oven proof dish on the highest rack for 5 minutes or until the skin is crispy;
  9. take your flatbreads, rip them into quarters and dip them in the juices where the chicken has cooked;
  10. remove chicken from the oven;
  11. on a large plate, add the soaked flatbreads, the chicken and sprinkle with the caramelized onions and toasted almonds;

Best served with some tabbouleh next to it or a salad. Or nothing. Serves and keeps full 4.

Happy Sundaying,

V.

How to cook Aubergines perfectly

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I was mumbling the other time, I think on my Baba Ganoush recipe on how to make the best-perfect-melt-in-your-mouth aubergines ever! And I was telling you back then that you basically just need a little bit more oil than you would normally use and a little bit more salt.

That’s it, really.

So, you’ll need:

  • aubergines
  • vegetable oil
  • salt
  • garlic powder

METHOD:

  1. place your frying pan on a medium high heat, add a generous amount of vegetable oil in, around 4 tbsps or so and allow it to get hot;
  2. cut the aubergine slices, round or along the vegetable, it’s up to you;
  3. add it to the hot pan, sprinkle with salt and garlic powder and allow to cook on each side until they are golden brown;vinete 2 blog (1 of 1)
  4. be careful that they absorb a lot of oil so if needed, add a little bit more; the oil quantity will determine the melt in your mouth factor, so really don’t go stingy on this;
  5. once they’re cooked on both sides, add them to a plate and allow them to rest;
  6. when adding the new batch on, make sure you add more oil!
  7. repeat all of the steps until you ran out of aubergines.

Eat them with fresh bread since the bread will absorb all of the extra oil and you’ll get this amazing melt into your mouth high crab fat bite that will send you straight to your childhood!

Oh, and the best part of all is to dip the bread in the leftover juices and oil from the cooked aubergines!

You’re welcome, bye!

 

 

 

Beer Bread

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Homemade Foods / Uncategorized

Yep. Beer bread. The easiest, soft on the inside crunchy on the outside bread you’ll ever make. With no yeast and no waiting time for proofing.

And by all means I didn’t come up with the recipe but The New York Times did and although it looked suspicious (bread with no yeast??!) I gave it a try. I mean, all over the wide world web this recipe required no yeast so I guess it must have been right, no?

The Internet was right. I mean, NYT Cooking was right and so was Jamie Oliver and with no further due and with internet’s blessing you’ll need:

  • 3 cups/450 grams of flour
  • 3 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 bottle beer, 330 ml
  • 2 tablespoons butter (optional)

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven at 180° C;
  2. Combine all of the ingredients and bake in the oven at 180° C for 35 min;
  3. Sit amazed by the oven and wonder how is this possible;
  4. Drizzle butter on top of it when done if you fancy; I personally skipped it;
  5. Enjoy it with whatever your heart desires.beer blog (1 of 1)-2.jpg

And by the grace of Instagram and people who read the science behind this recipe, the bread rises due to the combination of baking powder, beer and heat. Oh, forgot to mention it’s a no knead bread too.

Internet can be amazing sometimes, I’m telling you.

Let me know if you gave this recipe a try and if you were equally as amazed as I was.

Until the next one,

V.

Potato bacon bites

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Yep, it’s been a while but I’m back. WITH SOME AMAZING BEER COOKED POTATO BACON BITES.

I know how to make an entrance, eh?

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 bottle of beer, 330 ml
  • salt
  • pepper
  • shake of cayenne
  • breadcrumbs
  • bacon

METHOD:

  1. preheat the oven at 220°C;
  2. cut the onion and add it to a frying pan with a little bit of oil; cook it until golden brown;
  3. in the meanwhile, cut the potatoes into small cubes and add it to the frying pan once the onions are brown;
  4. add the crushed garlic in as well as the seasoning;
  5. add the beer and allow it to cook until the potatoes are done; the beer should cover your potatoes; depending on your potatoes (mine were the fast cooking ones) you might need some chicken stock or water added to make sure they cook thoroughly; also, keep in mind we will need a little bit of that cooking liquid for our final step;
  6. remove potatoes from the heat and smash them with the help of a fork or a potato masher until desired consistency;
  7. in a paper lined muffin tray add a tbsp of the potato mixture, top it with some breadcrumbs and pop in the oven until golden crispy;
  8. in the meanwhile fry the bacon and remove all of the excess fat;
  9. once the muffins are done, top them with bacon and sprinkle with some spring onions.potato blog (1 of 1)-2

Easy, eh? I went for a little extra salt for mine since I made them for the World Cup final so they will make you drink more beer and alcohol and we can ultimately blame them and the team we support for our drinking, basically.

Genius.

But until next time, stay tuned!

 

 

Refried beans

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Another no brainer, people pleaser. Add some on top of your tortilla chips, top it with cheese and you get the mexican version of fasole prajita cu mamaliga si branza.

And if you’re wondering, we Romanians as cool as we were before anyone else, we have our own refried beans recipe that we call fried beans, Fasole prajita and we pair with mamaliga  and pickles.

So little did I know that by putting this refried beans on top of some tortilla chips and pop it in the oven it will bring me back childhood memories.

But with no further due, you’ll need:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 – 1/2 cups of cooked beans
  • some of the liquid the beans have been cooked, if not chicken stock
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • pinch of cumin
  • pinch of cayenne
  • salt, pepper
  • fresh thyme
  • fresh queso blanco

METHOD:

  1. heat up a cast iron skillet, add some oil to it, the chopped onions and fry them up until golden brown;
  2. add the garlic in;
  3. add the beans, stir;
  4. with the help of a spatula or a potato masher, smash some of the beans in the frying pan until your desired consistency;
  5. start adding little by little the cooking liquid or the chicken stock to the pan, like you’re doing a risotto and stir;
  6. add enough liquid according to your preferences – some people might like a more pasty texture while other want it thinner; in any case if you wanna top this on tortilla chips, make it thinner.
  7. once you’re done, add some fresh tyme and queso blanco and stir;

For the Romanian recipe:

  • in a pot, repeat steps 1-3, add all of the liquid at once up until the beans are covered, let it simmer and reduce, add the tyme, skip the cheese;
  • make mamaliga (1 part corn flour, 3 parts water, salt), take some pickles out and enjoy!

For the nachos dish:

  • in an oven proof dish add some tortilla chips, add some of the refried beans, top it with some shredded cheddar cheese and put it in the oven at 220° C until the cheese starts melting and bubbling;
  • enjoy them with some pickles, guac, salsa and sour cream.

If you want a vegan variation of this skip the cheese or add some vegan cheese to it and enjoy it!

Bye!

V.

3 ingredients energy balls

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Healthy and easy.

You only need:

  • 150 grams dates, deseeded
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • coconut flakes or coconut chips

Optional, for coating

  • Cocoa powder
  • coconut flakes

METHOD:

  1. In a food processor add all of the ingredients and mix until everything is combined and looks like a gooey paste;
  2. with the help of a wet spoon and some wet hands, take some mixture into your palms and form equally sized balls;
  3. coat them in cocoa powder or coconut flakes.

It’s as easy as this post is.

 

Halloumi pistachio Baklava with rose water syrup

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Thank you Yotam Ottoloneghi for existing and for sharing this recipe with us, the humble world!

As much as I love walnuts, my bf is allergic to it so I switched for a mix of pistachios and cashew nuts instead. The rest of the recipe is the same, maybe with a little bit more sugar and some added lemon juice in the filling because for some reason all of my ingredients were salty AF. Oh and I went low with the cinnamon too.

In the final result you can’t feel the saltiness but you know it’s there because the sweet taste is balanced. The baklava isn’t hurting your throat while eating it (I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s still super sweet, but balanced sweet). I also used more butter than the original recipe required, just because.

I know that maybe making Baklava at home might be quite an intimidating thing but it’s not, really. It’s all about making sure you don’t forget to butter those filo pastry sheets individually while assembling it. The rest is in the hands of sugar, butter and carbs. You can’t go wrong, really.

So, for a 21×15 cm tray, I used:

  • 100 grams of roasted peeled pistachios
  • 100 grams of cashews
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 2 tbsp of melted butter
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • juice from half of lemon
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 200 grams of halloumi cheese
  • filo pastry
  • 150 grams of melted butter for the filo pastry

For the syrup:

  • 150 grams sugar
  • 90 grams water
  • 1 1/2 tsbp rose water
  • lemon juice from half a lemon

METHOD:

  1. crack open your pistachios;baklava 2 blog (1 of 1).jpg
  2. with the help of a food processor pulse the pistachios and cashews until they look finely chopped; make sure you pulse them, otherwise you’ll have pistachio-cashew butter;
  3. grate the halloumi cheese and add it to a bowl;
  4. add the nuts on top along with the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, melted butter and spices and mix everything well;baklava 3 blog (1 of 1)
  5. preheat your oven at 180°C;
  6. melt your butter and set it aside;
  7. add some melted butter to your pan and distribute it evenly;
  8. measure your filo pastry to the size of your pan – mine was exactly in half;
  9. start assembling your baklava by adding one filo pastry sheet on the bottom of your pan; brush it with melted butter; take another single sheet of dough, put it on top, brush it with melted butter, take another single sheet of dough, put it on top, brush it with melted butter – and again and again, 8 times for the bottom layer;
  10. add some filling on top;
  11. add another single sheet of dough of top, brush with butter, repeat 4 times, add filling, another filo dough sheet, brush with butter, repeat 4 times and so on until you finish your filling; you should get around 5 layers of filling, with 4 individually buttered filo pastry sheets in between, except for the bottom part and lower part which have 8;
  12. for the top layer, repeat step no.9; the bottom layer and the top layer needs to be a bit thicker so go again for 8 layers of dough, each buttered individually;

I know, it’s annoying but definitely worth it! All of that flakiness and crunchiness, thank you butter!

  • once you finished layering and buttering, tuck your baklava in and with a sharp knife cut it into small squares – this step is crucial since it will allow the syrup later on to absorb;baklava 4 blog (1 of 1)
  • add it to the oven at 180°C for 45-50 min, no fan;

The syrup:

  • in a sauce pan add the sugar and the water in;
  • allow it to simmer on high for 2-3 minute or up until the sugar has dissolved and it starts to bubble;
  • turn the heat to medium-low, add the rose water and the lemon;
  • let it simmer for 6 to 7 additional minutes;

And for the most satisfying part of all, pour that syrup over your super hot freshly out of the oven baklava and watch mesmerized, the bubbling.

It may sound complicated but if you forget all of that buttering of individual sheets of dough, it’s quite an easy recipe! Plus you can’t really go wrong with all of that butter and carbs and sugar and nuts. You just…can’t.

baklava 6 blog (1 of 1)

Eat in moderation,

V.

 

How to make baba ganoush

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Homemade Foods / Uncategorized

Two ways. One Romanian, one Levantine. Only that we Romanians don’t call it baba ganoush but eggplant salad, Salată de vinete.

Traditionally, baba ganoush is made with olive oil, tahini and spices while the Romanian version is simpler, requiring just chopped onion and oil. Either way, it is the same technique and with no further due, you’ll need:

  • 2 eggplants
  • half an onion per eggplant, finely chopped, massaged with some lemon juice and salt
  • lemon juice
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp tahini sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed
  • pinch of cumin
  • salt/pepper

METHOD:

  1. roast your eggplants over an open flame until the skin is burnt and the flesh is soft and cooked – if you don’t have access to an open flame, cook them on a cast iron skillet on medium high; don’t roast it in the oven unless you really have no choice. The key point here and also the significant taste of it is the smokiness, achieved only by using the first two methods; or over a grill.ganoush 9 blog (1 of 1)ganoush 7 blog (1 of 1)
  2. prepare next to you a pot with a lid; once the eggplants are done transfer them immediately to the pot with with the lid on and allow it to steam for 15 minutes;ganoush 8 blog (1 of 1)
  3. fill in a bowl with cold water and have it next to you; peel the skin of the eggplant and gently wash any stubborn small pieces of skin left by wiping it with your clean, cold hand;
  4. transfer the peeled eggplants on a wooden cutting board, remove the stem and mince it with a wooden spatula;
    IMG_20180627_142847_091

    You have to excuse the slight double explanation, the photo is taken from my Insta Stories

  5. once you’re done chopping add it to a clean (non metallic) bowl and according to your moods add:

for Salată de vinete,

  • the finely chopped onion massaged with salt and lemon to cut off the strong taste of onions;
  • the vegetable oil and the lemon juice, little by little and alternating while adding it – use a wooden spatula to mix;
  • salt and pepper to taste

or,

for the original recipe,

  • the tahini, cumin and crushed garlic clove;
  • the olive oil, added again little by little so you make sure it won’t split;
  • salt and pepper to taste.

And that’s it! It’s a simple recipe but definitely a summer staple and a delicious vegan spread.

Best served with soft bread and some fresh tomatoes on the side. Or some potatoes wedges!

Enjoy it,

V.