I tried it!
There are times when I want an elaborate, detail-oriented recipe to test my patience and there are times when I just want to grab the ingredients, quickly cut them and throw them all in a pot or a pan and boom! Dinner is served, baby!
This is one of those times, and Anuca’s recipe for quick spicy chicken is just the thing to make me happy. And happy I am, because of the simple ingredients and big flavors. I think the dish has an Asian flair with the combination of ginger and soy sauce, yet so exotic with parmesan cheese (to me it’s exotic). Since this dish also reminds me of spring because of the colors, I dive right in when the weather gets warm to make myself a hot plate. And wow, this spicy chicken quickly becomes a sexy kitchen chick! ;)
The big plus is the recipe uses everyday ingredients which you can find at the supermarket. So there’s no need to make a list to go shopping at the grocery store. In fact, I bet you have most of the ingredients in your pantry.
When it comes to the cooking part, I make some twists here and there, with marinated and deboned chicken thighs instead of chicken breast, and I add more soy sauce. And although I don’t know how it happens, my copy-cat dish looks exactly like an Asian dish. Really, the last time I cooked Anuca’s Mediterranean chicken stew, it looked like an Asian soup and now this! I suppose I can’t help adding my quirky twists. The only thing that saves my dish from going too far in that Asian spectrum is parmesan. No wonder she made a note to add a lot of parmesan. The cheese is, as you can call it, that last note of a perfume, designed to bring all the components together. I think the parmesan cheese is the genius touch, to make the dish complete. As a result, it is savory and fresh, it has that rich and buttery feel from the combination of ginger, soy sauce and olive oil. When the parmesan starts to melt in your mouth, a bust of spiciness from the chili comes through to literally wake you up from all those winter months. And then you taste the well-balanced sauce with the chicken and veggies, and you feel vigorous and giddy. That’s how it makes me feel when I take the first bite. I’m sure you’ll want to try this dish more than one time. As for me, I tried it and I’ll come back to it again and again.
Check out my fella’s recipe for quick spicy chicken here. Aaaand don’t forget the parmesan.
Have a great week-end!
Zazulete Ynn Anuca Romanța Ion
...call for a big bowl of Southeast Asia fusion noodle soup by Tuk Tuk.
Herbal aromatic broth with Asian greens, spring onions, side of Hoisin sauce and sriracha, fresh herbs, chili, lime and quail egg wonton.
It can be served with specialty five spiced duck, marinated prawns, grilled beef with soybean paste, Char Sui pork (slow cooked Cantonese style pork with star anise, dark soy and fresh ginger), grilled chicken breast or mushrooms and tofu.
Zazulete Ynn Anuca Romanța Ion
Everything is blooming in the garden today!
Preparations for a fluffy cozonac with butter, orange zest and Corinthian raisins.
A traditional Easter meal in our family infuses the Romanian tradition with our mixed background (Italian, Greek, Turkish). It usually starts with a series of appetizers, and apart from the Romanian traditional starters such as salata de boeuf, we use the occasion to invent at least one two appetizers each year. This is part of the Easter fun! Aside from the "inventions", the beginning of the meal will usually include a fish, cheese and cold meats platter.
Painted eggs are the star of the meal, and it is the custom in my family to eat them with a delicious roasted beet-horseradish garnish and the omnipresent during this time: spring onions and spring garlic.
As the tradition says, everything coming next will be the little lamb: lamb sour soup (borș de miel), lamb roast and drob de miel.
Ahhh the dessert...finally! :)
Traditional Romanian sweet bread, cozonac.
This year's special dessert creation, my sister Diana's blackberry brownie (totally yum).
Wherever you are, feel our joy and celebrate with us!
This one is a family favorite, and a tradition too. Not only that it’s quick to prepare and to cook, it also has all the flavors (sweet, sour, creamy tomato sauce) and, above all, much needed greens. At my family table, there are always greens, especially herbs that are always in high demand. The reason for it is no coincidence though, as my paternal grandmother used to have a stand to sell herbs and veggies at the market. As a result, my dad has been eating veggies and herbs since he was little. And as tradition would have it, he passes that craving on to his children. Herbs and veggies must have an addictive effect, how else to explain that feeling of satisfaction when we can eat a whole bowl of salad? Meat alone just can’t cut it.
Greens are essential for this dish but you’ll also find beef or veal. If you’re trying to lose weight without losing hard earned muscles, you should give this one a try. It’s also a great way to incorporate any kind of greens that are in season. This time I use frisée salad and radish (it’s April after all), but you can choose watercress (yum!), water spinach, kale, escarole, also lettuce, iceberg and batavia salad. Really, there’s no rule for the greens.
For the tomato sauce, you’ll only need tomato, beef, onion, oyster sauce and soy sauce. If the thought of oyster sauce gives you weird feeling (I know some people who find sauce made from oyster a taboo), just add more soy sauce instead. You can use tender beef part or ground beef and based on your choice, adjust the cooking time to not dry out the beef which is so important for the success of the dish.
There’s one thing that you need to pay attention to: The sauce must be made from fresh tomato, so use the ripe ones that have a creamy texture when cooked. The ripe tomatoes will provide a beautiful color for the sauce and reduce the cooking time too. The contrast between creamy tomato and crunchy salad is the x factor of the dish. That's it for the technical part ;), let’s not waste any more time and get to our recipe!
INGREDIENTS (for 2 servings):
- 150-200 gr tender beef or veal (filet/tenderloin), thinly sliced
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- ½ a medium onion, cut into thin wedges of 0.5 cm
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 pinch of salt and grounded black pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 big bowl of greens or in my case 150 gr of frisée salad and 5 red radishes, green leaves included.
READY IN: 20 minutes
In a skillet, stir fry ½ tbsp of olive oil and minced garlic on high heat. After 20 seconds or when the garlic gives off its fragrance, add the sliced beef (or grounded beef) with 1 tbsp of oyster sauce and continue to stir fry. After 3 minutes, take the skillet off the heat. Put the beef along with any possible beef juice into a bowl and add ½ tbsp of soy sauce. Give the stir fried beef a mix to distribute the soy sauce evenly.
Put the skillet back on the stove, on medium-high heat add the last ½ tbsp of olive oil, sliced shallot, diced tomato, sliced onion and a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. After 2 minutes, when the tomato starts to break down and turns mushy, add 50 ml of water, the last of the soy sauce (1 ½ tbsp) and let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes or until all the tomato meat turns into thick sauce. In this process, if the water dries out too quickly, add in the beef juice by straining the stir fried beef earlier. If not, go straight to the next step.
Add the stir fried beef (and any beef juice left) back into the skillet, give it a good mix in the tomato sauce then turn off the heat. This step only takes 30 seconds.
To assemble the dish, sprinkle grounded black pepper on the beef tomato sauce. While waiting for the sauce to cool down a bit, proceed to slice the red radish, cut short the frisée salad and radish leaves and put them all on the plates. Lastly gently pour the beef and tomato sauce on the salad and dive in.
Enjoy the creamy sauce and greens!
Zazulete Ynn Anuca Romanta Ion
Floriile (Flowery or Palm Sunday) mark the beginning of the Orthodox Holy Week in Romania, which follows the story of Jesus since his entry into Jerusalem, when he was received with joy, flowers and palm leaves. However, this celebration is one of the juxtapositions of the Christian faith over the ancient Roman celebration of Floralia, the festival of vegetation goddess Flora, a gathering of fertility rituals and games meant to celebrate the rebirth of nature and the rites of spring. And it is a juxtaposition of an even older Dacian spring celebration centered on flowers and fertility dances and songs.
One such very old custom, after Christianity became the use of willow leaves to purify the body, the household, the animals and the fields. Before the Florii Sunday, the Lazarus Saturday, being part of the story of Lazarus being resurrected by Jesus from his grave, replaces an older celebration of the vegetation god being resurrected each spring. As a combination of both, on that Saturday, Romanians take willow branches to church to be sanctified by a priest, and on Florii Sunday, the willow, an immortality symbol in many cultures, is set to decorate the house, entrances, graves, animal sheds, fields and the beehives (for a good honey harvest). Tradition says that the willow branches are to be kept in the house, for protection, until the next Florii Sunday.
In the city, it becomes a beautiful Sunday when you see people carrying willow branches and flowers and is also the day when approximately 1,5 million Romanians who bear flower names celebrate their name day.
This is also the weekend where many traditional fairs are taking place all around the country, and in Bucharest, one such fair is the Florii Fair at one of the most distinguished and beautiful museums, the Romanian Peasant Museum, where we can usually find a gathering of traditions in many fairs throughout the year, corresponding to major celebrations. The Florii Fair brings about traditional craftsmen from all over the country, and it is always a pleasure for me to visit this fair to stroll among the beautifully crafted objects and culinary delicacies and to interact with the craftsmen
One gorgeous inclusion in any peasant fair that you can find at the Florii fair as well are the intricately decorated ii (the Romanian blouse), textiles such as table cloths, napkins, towels, carpets and other various beauties, where each region can be recognized by their specific embroidery motives and the regional folk costume.
The beloved pottery makes so hard to choose a new addition, but my sister made some excellent choices :)
Of course, one of the most impressive items would be the famous Romanian painted Easter eggs! Each color has a symbolic meaning: red is vitality and power of life, black is immortality, yellow is the sun, blue is the sky and green is the rejuvenated nature.
It would be hard to pass by and ignore the sweets and candies. Childhood sweets like homemade lollipops and traditional bunny gingerbread, all sorts of honey and honey products, wines and oils, cozonac (the traditional Easter cake) and my favorites, which became an addition to our Palm Sunday meal, layered cakes from Maramures. (So hard to choose which one to take home, seeing them waiting patiently in the freezer).
This is not a fair to leave without the liquid gold of honeycomb. The best way to eat honeycomb is to chew it as much as possible and to slowly ingest the beeswax as well, during the process, little by little. Among its many, many health benefits as a superfood, this ritual alone is one of the most powerful anti-allergenic remedies.
A typical Florii Sunday meal
The tradition on Florii is to eat fish and fish products. During the 40 days Easter Orthodox fastening, this would be a day that gives a permission to eat fish (since the fastening is exclusively vegan). The fish as you know is a major symbol of Christianity, in connection to the feeding of multitude by Jesus, the Ichthys and the fish as symbol of the "fisher of men" and as universal symbol of faith and the spirit, in connection to the water element.
On Florii Sunday, the table will be decorated with flowers and willow branches, spring greens and fresh fruit. There are hardly any local fruits at this time of year, other than the superb strawberries, that are just at the start of their season. Usually, the meal opens with a few traditional appetizers, vegan for those who keep the fastening, if not, tarama, for which we discussed a recipe here, would be a must. This time, I prepared the traditional Romanian tarama, which is made of carp roe or a mixture of carp and pike roe (as I did here), served with chopped green or golden onion.
The main course is a good fish, baked, barbecued or fried, usually carp, and the most common traditional meal is fresh fried carp with boiled potatoes, lots of lemon or mujdei, and a salad made of the local greens joyfully joining the markets at this time of year: green onion and green garlic, spinach, stevia, celandine, ramsons, chervil and radish.
Palm Sunday carp with buttery potatoes
This is a very simple and healthy recipe that puts you in touch with a traditional Romanian meal on one of the most beloved celebrations in Romania.
INGREDIENTS (for 6 servings)
One fresh carp
As much potatoes as you want
For the fried fish
If you prefer, you can grill the fish, but the traditional cooking method is cutting the fish in big chunks, flouring them a little on each side and frying them in a pan with a little vegetable oil, on lower heat so that the meat is cooked inside (usually fried for about 15 minutes).
For the buttery potatoes
The traditional method is dicing the potatoes in cubes and boiling them in mildly salty water, until soft when pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes from the hot water and place them in a pot, adding 2 cubes of butter, salt, pepper and chopped parsley. Mix it all well, to cover all potatoes with the butter. Before serving, you can reheat them to get a little crust from the butter. It is not necessary however, and it is healthier to just serve them boiled, steaming hot.
For the salad
This salad is meant to gather all local greens, as enjoyment of spring, rejuvenation of nature and people, both healthy and symbolical. If you do not have the mentioned greens, just use the local sprouts that come to your markets as early spring culinary wonders.
Mix the greens with olive oil and lemon and serve very fresh.
We liked everything so far (I hope!), but now comes the favorite part: the traditional sweets. Homemade with farm products. Cozonac (traditional sweet bread with lots and lots and lots of walnuts). Yummy chocolate salami. And the most delicious layered cake ever, the honey cake: it has honey dough layers and it is filled with white buttery cream and homemade apricot jam.
For those who celebrate Easter today, Happy Easter! Also, Happy Fool's Day :D And LA MULŢI ANI for all the flower people of Romania!
Cover photo: Zazulete Ynn Anuca Romanta Ion
A melting pot experience, in more than one way. Welcome to our Epicurean adventure!