Zazulete Ynn Anuca Romanța Ion
When summer feels close, one of my favorite dishes for enjoying fresh herbs and other goodies is zucchini croquettes, an easy and quick recipe that you can enjoy both hot and cold, as a simple crunch or with your favorite dip (such as any refreshing yogurt or cheesy dip). I often cook them through summer and autumn and they are a tasty and nutritious alternative to meat. I prefer to cook them as deep fried in vegetable oil, for the extra crustiness, but if you prefer the healthier version, cook them in your oven, over parchment and sprinkled with some olive oil.
Moreover, you can use this recipe as veggie burger idea. Quite a versatile dish, when it comes to its uses, possible combinations of veggies or when it comes to the sauces and dips you can enjoy it with. And a great addition to any party, you know me, a part girl, always thinking of party food!
INGREDIENTS (serves 3-4)
1 small zucchini, grated
1 small potato, grated
a small leek or 2-3 green onions
2 spring garlic or 2 garlic cloves
100g melting cheese (Gouda, cascaval etc)
1 tbsp all purpose flour
about 2 tbsp of spring herbs mix (parsley, tarragon, dill, chervil, etc.)
What is lovely about the leek, if you chop it coarsely, is that it gives an extra crunchiness when those rings fry. You just have to be a little more careful to create a batter that is thick enough to not break in the pan.
- In a large bowl, chop and grate the ingredients. Chop the herbs, onion (or leek) and the spring garlic. Grate the zucchini and the potato.
The moisture of the zucchini will be great to absorb the flour, and thicken the batter, but if you feel it is too moist, you can squeeze the water from it before adding it into the bowl with the other ingredients.
- Beat the eggs well in a separate bowl, with salt and freshly ground pepper. At this point, you can add more spices if you like (such as nutmeg), but I suggest to try this recipe in its simplest form first, to taste the zucchini, which already has a delicate flavor.
- Use your hand to mix the veggies and the eggs together. Mix them well, until all ingredients are impregnated with the eggs mixture.
- Add the flour and continue to mix, until you get a batter that is similar to mashed potatoes. You can add more flour if you feel it is needed, but keep in mind the potatoes starch will act as a thickener once you begin the cooking process.
- Add and mix in the cheese.
- When the batter is ready, heat the oil pan (with vegetable oil) and add the croquettes one by one with a spoon. It is best to not use an oil bath for a proper deep fry, but just a pan with a little oil in it. You coarsely add them in the pan and flatten them a little with your spoon.
- Let them fry on each side for a few minutes, until brown, on medium heat.
- Remove them from the pan and place them on paper to leave the excess oil behind.
Enjoy their crunchiness and sweetness, full of late spring flavor, with dips, salads or as veggie burger.
Finally it gets hot! And that means I can show you all those fast and light dishes guaranteed to be perfect additions to your weight-loss diet. This one has to be my favorite because not only it is fast and easy to prepare, it’s also packed with nutrition and flavors using only 6 ingredients, and I already counted the olive oil. Another reason is because of the chayote.
For those of you who don’t know about this beloved vegetable of Vietnam, this is one of the magic 3 vegetables in Vietnamese cuisine, along with potato and carrot. They’re the magic 3 because they’re so versatile, can be found all year round and they don’t need lots of spices to be made into satisfactory meals. Chayote (also chayote squash or chayote fruit), in Vietnamese is called su su which is a French word (chouchou: beloved), is a plant in the gourd family. What we use in this recipe is the fruit of this plant. Vietnamese also eat the chayote young stems but that’s another story, let’s get back to our fruit. (At first you won’t find it look like a beloved fruit but wait till you taste it)
This fruit is rich in water, potassium, zinc, dietary fiber, vitamins B6 and C, all of those make it weight-loss diet friendly. When cooked, the taste of chayote is naturally sweet. Depends on how you cook it, chayote can be juicy and crunchy or buttery and sweet. I read that in some other countries, people eat the young chayote without removing the skin. In Vietnam we only eat big juicy chayote so if you know how young chayote tastes like, I’d love to hear about it. Big juicy chayotes (the ripe ones) mean you need to peel their skin in a certain way to avoid sticky-hands-disaster, but first let me share with you how to choose a good chayote.
How to choose good chayote – Choose ones that are firm, with shiny and even skin of light green color, avoid ones that have scratches or areas of different colors (bruises). I also recommend not to choose the ones with thorns near the chayote seam as that means they’re too ripe and are not appetizing (it’d feel like you’re chewing on something that you shouldn’t, like paper). Now that you choose the best chayote out there, take it home and do the next step or store it in the fridge.
How to peel chayote – You should always wear gloves for protection as peeled chayote releases a sticky glue that can stick up your skin for days. Use a peeler to remove all the skin. When it comes to the seam at the top of the chayote, cut diagonally to remove all the skin. Cut vertically the chayote in half and remove the seed or you can leave it on as the seed is edible. Wash off the sticky glue left from the chayote.
Now that we finished peeling chayote, let’s dive into our easy recipe!
Ingredients: (1 serving as main dish or 2 servings as side dish)
75 gr tender beef, no fat (thinly sliced)
1 medium chayote of about 250 gr (peeled and cut into stripes)
5 stems of Asian chive (cut into stripes of 5cm long)
1 tbsp oyster sauce
½ tsp salf
1 tbsp olive oil
Ready in 20 minutes
1. Put 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet on high heat. After 1 minute or until the oil is heated, add the sliced beef with 1 tbsp of oyster sauce, a pinch of salt and stir-fry quickly for 1 minute. The high heat prevent the beef to release water so all the flavors and juice will be preserved in each slice of beef. After 1 minute of stir-frying, you can put the beef in a bowl to add it at the last step.
2. In the same skillet and on high heat, there should be a bit of oil left or you can add more, add the chayote stripes and stir-fry constantly. The chayote at first is firm, but then will turn flexible and easy to manage. Add the rest of salt and keep stir-frying for 5 minutes if you want a crunchy texture or 8 minutes if you want a soft, buttery texture. Either ways the chayote still retains its natural sweetness.
3. Lastly add the stir-fried beef of the 1st step and Asian chive. Give a good mix then take off the heat.
Did I highlight how easy this recipe is? Serve it hot and dive right in.
Asian chive adds sweetness and different texture to the dish but if you don’t like it or if you can’t find it, you can substitute it with scallion/green onion. And while we’re talking about ingredients, you can also add grounded black pepper at the last step to enhance the flavor and use soy sauce to elevate the stir-fried beef.
Enjoy this Vietnamese recipe!
P/S: You may wonder where I disappeared to the last few weeks. Hey, it’s not a case of alien abduction, I got a trip to wonderland = Japan! Stay tuned for highlights of my trip there and tips for your next trip to Japan ;)
Zazulete Ynn Anuca Romanța Ion
Barbecue season is officially open! Now, you know you can grill anything and everything, but one of the stars of my barbecues is a vegan recipe, that you can try each season in its specific combination, a salad made of grilled veggies and seasonal greens.
The smell of veggies and legumes inaugurating the barbecue on a fine May day, with birds singing, passing clouds, roses saying "hello!" is one of those rituals telling you: "and now everything will be all right, baby!"
Before we begin, we need a bit of focus, so let's fill a glass with pelin spritz and harvest some Rosa Damascena petals for future food plating.
Then all you need is your market loot: the magical basket :D basking in jasmin perfume.
INGREDIENTS (for 10 servings)
4 medium sized courgettes
6 red kapia peppers
4 green and/or yellow bell peppers
500 g champignons
a bunch of green onions
2-3 green garlic stems
a bunch of fresh spinach
a bunch of fresh dill
a bunch of tarragon
5-6 lettuce leaves
extra virgin olive oil
fine balsamic vinegar
(optional) sliced tomatoes
- First: c'mon baby, light my fire.
- Slice the veggies in larger chunks, use a salad bowl to mix them with the whole mushrooms and massage them all with a little olive oil.
- Carefully arrange the sliced vegetables and the mushrooms on the grill and barbecue them on both sides, for about 10 minutes overall, until they get a little charred (don't overcook them, we do want them to keep their freshness inside). The fine result will be a good mixture of crunchiness that comes from the fresh with the crunchiness that comes from the fire.
- Collect them all in a goodie bowl. When hot, mix with lots of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.
- Coarsely chop the herbs, the lettuce, the spinach and the green onions and green garlic and add them to the mix.
- Season with a fine salt and enjoy, either as warm or cold salad.
Zazulete Ynn Anuca Romanța Ion
You-hoo! They are here! Red. Seedy. Juicy. So fragrant. Reminding us of happiness. The strawberries! Time to eat them in all possible ways, and one of my spring essentials is the quick and delicious strawberry mousse. It is ready in just a few minutes; you can eat it fresh or freeze it for a tasty, simple ice cream, bursting with May flavors. That's the spirit!
All you need is fresh, organic eggs, a bit of sugar, a touch of green mint to enhance it all, and the red beauties.
With a fork, purée 200-250g of fresh strawberries.
Beat the egg whites with caster sugar.
By the end of egg mixing, when it begins to stiff, add the strawberry purée gradually, and beat some more.
Don't expect to get a stiff meringue in the end, but a creamier, softer mousse.
Chill for 10 to 15 minutes.
Pour the mousse in serving bowls.
Mince or slice 100-150g of strawberries and decorate the mousse with lots of them.
As a final touch of green, add the mint leaves.
Spirit of spring, turning to summer, spirit of May. May the Force of Strawberries be with you! :D
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!
Zazulete Ynn Anuca Romanta Ion
Spring was late this year. After the vernal equinox, a mighty snow storm has been visiting us for a few days. Before plunging into the greens of spring, the cold, dark days call for a yummy winterish warmer, a traditional French soup: Velouté de poireaux, leek soup. Quick and easy to make and as French would say, savoureux.
Velouté means “velvety” and it originally referred to mother sauces that are thickened with butter, cream and egg yolks, currently extended to also describe soups turned creamy with butter or cream.
The French classic is potato leek soup - potage poireaux pommes de terres – or Potage Parmentier, a delicious and quick homemade soup that can be served hot or cold and by contemporary standards, what one might call a blender soup, for you can basically throw all the ingredients in your blender, for its preparation.
The recipe introduced today is a mélange of the grand-mère (grand-mother) recette and my personal touch. It is going to be our French Connection between winter and spring.
For 6 servings, you need a large leek (I had a very big and thick one and used only half of it) with green leaves as well. One medium potato and one large onion. I used red onion myself, for its particular taste. Four garlic cloves or as alternative, if you prefer, garlic powder. Roughly a cup, or 250 ml heavy cream. A teaspoon of Herbes de Provence and one teaspoon of cumin seeds. Et voilà, that’s about it for the basic formula.
Optionally, you can use vegetable stock powder (I used homemade, all-natural vegetable stock powder made of carrots, parsley roots, celery, onion, bell peppers) and season the soup with either more leek, or parsley or chives.
For a lighter recipe, I prefer to use olive oil instead of butter, and let the milky taste and texture come from the cream alone.
Cut the onion in large rings and caramelize it in a little bit of olive oil.
Cut the potato in cubes and the leek in rings and throw them in your blender. Add water or stock.
Add the garlic cloves, the caramelized onion, the Herbes de Provence and the cumin seeds.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add enough water for a light creamy texture and boil the mixture in your soup pot for 15 minutes, at medium heat. At this point, pour in the heavy cream and boil for another 12 minutes.
For a silkier result, you may want to reblend the hot soup, but it is not necessary.
A good portion of fibers, B vitamins and anti-oxidants in a French classic that will caress your body and soul.
Au revoir, winter!
A melting pot experience, in more than one way. Welcome to our Epicurean adventure!