cranberry bread

As I sat and thought about how much banana bread I ate and baked for the past two years, I said ‘Fuck it! There’s no way I’m eating another slice!’. Well, unless it comes with London’s best flat white, at Prufrock Coffee. As I was walking my beautiful self through the shelves of a supermarket sometime around Christmas time (yes, the 17th of November is around Christmas time and this conversation ends here!), being all chirtmassy and shit, I thought of cranberries. I got them, got home and thought ‘Whatever you do, don’t end up blending them with vodka!’. That being said, I thought of bread. Unlike all my relationships, it actually worked out pretty good. You’ll need:

– 100g butter
20151122_101039_Richtone(HDR)– 250 grams of flour
– 100g brown sugar
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking
– a pinch of salt
– 2 eggs
– 250 ml of milk
– a handful of fresh cranberries
– 50 gr seeds: sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds or anything else you might fancy.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and grease a loaf pan with butter.

In a large bowl mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt; put it aside. In a smaller bowl mix the melted butter, the eggs and the milk. Pour it over the dry bowl (the one you put aside), add the cranberries and mix them well to incorporate all the dry stuff.
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Pour the mixture into that greased pan I was telling you about and sprinkle the seeds on top. I also put two spoons into the mixture, but you don’t have to agree. ðŸ™‚ Basically, 60 minutes should be enough for the thing to bake. The toothpick test does not fail though, keep that in mind.

12241793_926851270745193_8839623627764451753_nWhen ready, give the bread 30 minutes to rest. We ate the whole thing with salted butter and dark cherry jam. And yes, it is nicer when you toast it, like any other bread.

‘Tis the season

*insert the 1862’s Christmas carol*

I can’t really explain how much I love Christmas and everything that comes with it; all that fuss, all the chaos, buying gifts, wrapping gifts, decorations, lights, carols, snow, John Lewis’ ads, seeing people I love, seeing people I don’t, spending time with people I’ve been missing, bumping into people I’d hoped I’ll never see again when I moved out of my hometown, eating, eating loads, drinking, watching Jack Frost, abusing all Spotify’s Christmas playlists, come home late and drunk, opening presents, beeing happy, getting sad, getting excited, the smell of mulled wine, cinnamon, cloves and oranges and so many more. Yup, I’m that friend that lets you know Christmas is 6 months due. Then 5. And so on. 

I’m also the friend who, while getting excited about Christmas on a late June afternoon, will start baking/cooking anything Christmassy.

Pie. Cherry Pie. Morello cherry pie. And fresh berries, because summer. And rum, cloves and cinnamon because ‘let them know it’s (almost) Christmas time!’.

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For the pie filling, heat the morello cherries (about 500g), 2 tbsp of brown sugar, 10-12 cloves, 1 tsp cinnamon, and some rum (be generous!!!) in a pan over a low heat, stirring continuously, until it becomes jam…ish. You get the point. Set aside to cool. 

For the pastry you’ll need about 250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting, 175g fridge-cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes, 2 tbsp caster sugar, 2 eggs, 1 tbsp cold water. Easy-freakin’-peasy! Pulse the flour, butter and sugar together in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Or use your hands, it’s how I do it. Mix together the beaten egg and water. Add the eggs and water to the bowl of the food processor a little at a time, until the mixture comes together as a dough. Or use your hands, as I was saying.

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Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Roll out the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface until it is few centimeters larger in diameter than the pie dish. Cut two or three long strips from the edges of the pastry. Gently lift the rolled pastry, using the rolling pin, and place it into the baking tray. Add the morello cherry thing, add some fresh berries. Bake the pie in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is golden-brown and the pie filling is bubbling. Merry Christmas!

Also, you could buy some pastry at the nearest shop and go for these pretty pies, also delicious. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and thank me later.

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Summer in a bowl

They say watermelon is a good fruit. You eat. You drink. You wash your face. Couldn’t agree more. Especially if you’re drinking it with vodka and/or eating it with cheese (*wink-wink*).

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One of my favourite childhood memories involves my mom or grandma struggling to carry home enormous watermelons, cut them in half then put them in the fridge for a couple of hours. I would circle that freakin’ fridge for hours, waiting for my sweet reward. I was always getting a huge slice; then, I would take off my shoes and ran outside barefoot to enjoy that wonderful treat without anyone complaning about the mess. Of course, I still had to take a shower everytime I got back inside.

20 years have passed and I still enjoy stuffin’ my face in a huge slice of cold watermelon wishing I was 7 again. That’s not going to happen; on top of that, I started eating my watermelon with cheese, therefore with a glass of red. I always go for the blue stilton, fresh mint and a bit of olive oil. Delish and summerish. You’re welcome! 🙂

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Fun on toast

Or I fooled Elena into thinking she’s never going to find a better flatmate and cook than me even though I wasn’t in the mood for cooking. 🙂

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First of all, buy bread, any bread you fancy; I went for baguette. Slice the bread, toast the bread, go wild with flavours. Or don’t. 🙂 I emptied the frigde and managed to come up with the seven ones above:

1. crushed beans, fried artichoke, red onion – my second favourite of them. 

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2. wild garlic pesto (I’m guessing the basil one will also do), parmesan shavings, walnuts – nothing new about that.

3. crushed avocado, chilli flakes – flawless, we all know that.

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4. marinated beetroot, blue stilton, walnuts – not bad. not bad at all.

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5. blue stilton, fresh berries (raspberries and blackberries), fresh mint, olive oil – de-freakin’-licious!

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6. beef tomatoes, anchovies, fresh oregano – fresh, summerish, salty, good. 

7. sauteed shiitake, garlic, butter, thyme – divine! yup, that’s got to be the best of them. 

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So, what’s your favourite thing on toast? 🙂

Watercress soup with poached eggs and almonds

Remember Elena, my forever-lovely-and-best-bagel-maker-in-the-whole-world and flatmate, the one that doesn’t eat meat and gives as many fucks about cooking as I do about spaceships? At some point last year I kind of forced her into watching MasterChef UK: The Professionals. She did try, I’ll give her that. She lost her interest (I mean, if she ever had it) pretty fast, but I got her back on track during a skills test, the one with Marcus Wareing preparing the perfect watercress soup.

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Basic stuff, I’ll say. Two more years of practice and she could nail it. 🙂

Marcus’ original recipe included some light chicken stock. Since our house policies don’t really allow that, I soon found myself getting bored while working on a veggie stock. I went for water, salt, celery, onion, parsnip, but I’m pretty sure you could get wild. Or go for the chicken stock (*wink-wink*).   

So, find or buy a pan, add the stock, give it a little heat. Add a bit of cream for body. Slice two potatoes, as thin as you can. Why? Well, first of all, they’ll boil faster. Then, if they’re not boiled properly, when you’ll blend and sieve the soup it will not be as smooth as you’ll want it to be. Careful though, you don’t want to go mad with the potatoes, your star should be the watercress. When the potatoes are properly boiled add the watercress. You don’t want to cook the thing foverver, you want that lovely-watercress-green colour. 

Add some vinegar to another pan with some boiling water; you’ll use the boiling water to poach the eggs and the vinegar to keep them together. Again, basic stuff, I’m not teaching you how to poach an egg. Btw, Elena can!!! poach eggs. 🙂

Drain the stock out. Blend the veggies first, Marcus says; you’ll need the puree first, then you’ll add the liquid, as much as you want, for the consistency you’ll fancy. Keep blending. Add a spoon of mustard and some butter. Stop blending. You now have a soup.

Take a bowl/plate/whatever. Put the poached egg in the middle. Add soup. Then almonds. Garnish. Eat!

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P.S.: Elena could easily eat two bowls at once. 🙂

stuffed ricotta crepes

as seen on Ottolenghi’s Instagram account once. 

Ok, now that we are spending more and more time together, I might as well tell you more about me, apart from my loyalty for pork and pleasure for swearing. Let’s start with the fact that I have a thing for figs, the fresh ones. I love their sweet flavour and sweet aroma and I’m pretty sure I could eat tones and still not have enough. Add cheese and/or wine and I will be yours forever. Stuff them with cheese, alcohol, cover them in chocolate and you might be The One. 

‘But the title says stuffed ricotta crepes, why on Earth are you even talking about figs?’, you’ll ask. Well, yes. But the thing is, a well-trained monkey could stuff crepes with some cheese, I would’t waste time writing about this. What the title doesn’t say and probably most of you will not read because you are already looking for recipes on another blog is that these stuffed ricotta crepes are covered in the world’s most delicious sauce, mostly made out of champagne, orange juice, orange zest, caramelized figs – a thingy that was probably invented by the Gods a really long time ago – and sprinkled with crushed salted pistachios.

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 Now, about those crepes. A crêpe or crepe is a type of very thin pancake, usually made from wheat flour or buckwheat flour (galettes). The word is of French origin, deriving from the Latin crispa, meaning “curled”. The common ingredients include flour, eggs, milk, butter, and a pinch of salt.

For the crepes you’ll need 100g plain flour – sifted, 2 eggs, 200ml milk, 50g butter, grated orange zest from one medium orange, 50g caster sugar, a pinch of salt. For the champagne sauce you’ll need about 125ml champagne (I mean, that’s how much I got left after I opened the bottle and quality checked it *wink-wink*), the juice and zest of an orange, 4-5 fresh figs, 1 tbsp brown sugar. And of course, some ricotta cheese to stuff them and a bit of vanilla extract to mix the cheese with. And some salted pistachios, if you fancy them. 

First, the crepes. Sift the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, start mixing. Gradually add milk, keep whisking. Melt the butter in a pan; add half of the quantity into the batter, use the other half for the actual frying of the crepes. I’ll assume you all know how to do that, so I’ll carry on with the sauce. 

Slice the figs and set a pan over a low-medium heat. Add the figs, sprinkle brown sugar and allow the sugar to melt slowly without stirring and continue to cook until it becomes a deep amber-coloured caramel. Remove from the heat, add the orange juice, orange zest and that glass of champagne, return the pan to low-medium heat and cook the thingy until it reduces to half. 

Quickly mix the ricotta cheese with a bit of vanilla extract, stuff the crepes, drown them in that heavenly sauce, sprinkle crushed salted pistachios on top, enjoy.

You’re welcome!

Wild garlic & almonds pesto, the return of the Garlic Princess

Sadly, the season for wild garlic leaves is short – they’re all gone by June – but they are one of the most abundant wild foods and come into their own when paired with other spring ingredients. Risottos, pasta, pestos, soups, salads – they all love these leaves. And so do I. I love wild garlic so much, my mum has to make sure she is sending me some from home every year. I know, I know, I could easily look for it at the farmers’ markets or place an order on Ocado, but boy, that thing we have in Romania is the real deal. 

Basically, the making-of this wild garlic pesto is no different from the classic basil one, with one exception; can anybody guess which? Exactly!, you DON’T need to add garlic. Very well. Also, you can replace pine nuts with almonds (I actually did that and I strongly recommend you try it) or walnuts. There we go.

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You’ll need a large bunch of wild garlic leaves, maldon salt, black pepper, 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 50g almonds!!! / walnuts / pine nuts, 50g of parmesan, finely grated and a bit of lemon juice if you fancy it Then, you’ll probably need a pestle and mortar; of course you can use a blender but take my word on this one: make yourself a favour and go buy a pestle and mortar (you’re welcome!). 

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Ok, this should be easy. Pestle and mortar. Wild garlic leaves, almonds (or whatever), salt, pepper. Try making a paste. Start adding olive oil, a bit of lemon juice, stir in that grated parmesan, keep mixing until creamy. Add a bit of water if yo want it more runny. Taste and season as you wish.

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Boil some pasta – I had linguine. Drain them, add the lovely pesto, mix. Add some more crushed almonds, some parmesan shavings, drizzle a bit of olive oil. Enjoy!

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You’re welcome! 

Pork chops, apples, caramelized onions

Oh, I’ve been thinking so much about this recipe lately, can’t believe it’s actually here. These lovely pork chops featured once one of the MasterChef Romania judges’ blog and I swear they were delicious; all the guests who got to taste them are still alive and well, they could confirm. I think… Anyway, pork chops!

In order to feed 4 people (or a really hungry boyfriend) you’ll need 4 pork chops, 4 apples, 2 onions, 200ml cream, 50g wholegrain mustard, 150ml chicken broth, fresh thyme, olive oil, salt, pepper. 

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About the chicken broth.
I really love the one you can make at home, I am not really a fan of the ones you can buy from the supermarket, but hey!, we’re all lazy in here. 🙂 For this recipe I prepared mine home, using the wings, neck and breastbone of a chicken, an onion, one carrot, one parsnip, a small celery, salt, 1000ml of water. Put all of them together in pan and let them boil low for about an hour. 

Preheat the oven to 230°C then spend an hour or so looking for that only fucking pan you know you can also put in the oven. When you find it, pour yourself a glass of red wine. You deserve it! Back to the fucking pan. Pour a bit of oil, season the pork chops with salt and pepper, cook them for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden-brown… ish. Remove them from the pan. Cut the apples in 6 (wedges), take out the core; then cut the onions in quarters. Cook them in the same pan you already cooked the pork chops without fucking washing it! 5 minutes will do. Remove apples and onions from the pan.

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With that lovely chicken broth you made (or bought, because you’re lazy) clean the pan. You know what I mean. Boil for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, mix cream and mustard together, then add to the pan. Boil with the soup for another 2 minutes, season, add a bit of fresh thyme.
Add the pork chops, top with apples and onions and put it in the oven for about 10 minutes. Let the thing rest for 10-15 minutes, enjoy!

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You’re welcome!

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Warm potato salad

Look! I know I said I like pork. I love it! But living under the same roof with vegetarians it’s not exactly easy, if you know what I mean. It’s been more than a year since I moved here and I swear I didn’t cook more than ten pieces of meat at home. Thank God, I do work in a kitchen and they do, actually, allow me to cook. Little do they know… 

Anyway, back to our salad. It’s quite lovely and it has to be one of the easiest things to cook. I mean, it’s basically boilig and chopping. Elena, my uber-lovely-vegetarian-flatmate-and-best-friend could do it.

11150992_10204914896489542_7463089292358664853_nFor a salad that serves 4 people – or 2 if they’re really hungry – you’ll need 500g baby new potatoes, 4 eggs, 4 spring onions, maybe some dill – if you fancy it, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, maldon salt (yes, I am addicted to Maldon Salt. Bear with me!), pepper, olive oil. 

Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water for 12-15 mins until just tender. At the same time, boil the eggs for 8-10 mins. Make a sort of dressing by mixing mustard, salt, pepper, olive oil. Drain the potatoes and tip into a large bowl. Drizzle over the dressing and gently mix. Cut the eggs, chop the spring onions and that half bunch of dill and add everything to the boiled potatoes. Season to taste. There you go. Salad!