Create your own flavored oil

Flavored oil….Oh I like it soo, sooo much and that’s why I’m trying to have a little bottle in my pantry all the time. I don’t like to buy things like these. Things I can actually make myself, especially that there is such an easy thing to do….

You can use flavored olive oil especially on salads, but I also like to sprinkle with it the feta cheese, together with some fresh lemon juice and fresh herbs.

oil forknplatefoto credit: forknplate

What you need:

*a small glass bottle with a cap

*extra virgin olive oil

*red, green and black whole pepper

*a tiny branch of thyme and rosemary

*3 garlic cloves without skin

*a chilli if you like spicy foods

How to do it

Put all the herbs and condiments into the bottle, then add the oil over. Seal and let them rest in a cool and dark place (not in the fridge) for about 3 days. Always keep this oil in the cool and dark place 🙂

 

In pots, yard or window boxes, the vegetable garden is a must

If  somebody would have told me last year on this time that I’m gonna pick vegetables from our garden I don’t know if I would have believed :). Today, one year later, it’s almost like picking vegetables from not far from the center of our city (cause our neighborhood is on 10 minutes of walking from  it).

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When it comes to veggies, we’re not exactly new in “business”, cause we tried to do it before. In pots, on our balcony. And because it is such an easy thing to do, and so rewarding I would advice everybody to try it. A vegetable garden, no matter how tiny, is able to give you peace and happiness. Especially that by watching the plants growing, blooming and making fruits it’s almost like watching the Creator Himself at work.

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Green with some red here and there is our vegetable garden this time of the year and as we are such a great tomato eaters I can’t wait for the tomatoes to bless us with their beautiful red ripe color. They are young girls right now. And sooo many. And so pretty…Yeah, I’ve already tried 2 of them (the cherry tomatoes) this morning on breakfast, together with the freshly picked cucumbers.

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And speaking of “devil” I’m wondering who would say no to a perfectly healthy cucumber (or other vegetable)? Cause by growing your own plants, you know exactly what they contain. And where they are coming from. Especially that all they need is some soil, water, light and sunshine, love and a corner you share with them. Providing them with love and care is not going to let you unsatisfied, cause they are going to promise you a pretty “production” and sooo many ingredients for keeping your health (especially if you have children to grow)……

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Our vegetable garden has no more than 8 square meters but gave us, for this year a lot of cucumbers, onion, garlic, radishes (link HERE), some raspberries, potatoes (link HERE) and chilli. Right now we have patience while waiting for tomatoes, carrots (we already ate some) and peppers to fill our bellies :).

 

 

Breakfast feeling: “Eggs cocotte” with garam masala

There is no secret to anybody that I simply love eggs. I knew already you can do a lot of things with them but I am still amazed on how versatile eggs can be.

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I didn’t cook much lately and what I’ve cooked ended in our bellies without taking a single shot, but today I’m gonna show you how a simple and classic dish like egg in pot (eggs cocotte) may find itself on an Indian land.

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Yeah, I like Mediterranean food, Asian food, French food, English food, Romanian food, all the food in two words, as long as it is interesting or may become interesting. And so I’ve found that eggs cocotte could be.

For my breakfast today I’ve decided to transform some regular ingredients like eggs and sour cream into an interesting, spicy and flavored dish by adding the so interesting garam masala.

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Even the recipe “says” you should place one egg in one ramekin, I put 2 eggs to not complicate myself. Together with my eggs I prepared a beautiful fresh tomato salad I sprinkled with salt, olive oil, sweet balsamic cream vinegar and fresh Greek basil. Ah and the sweetness acidity of tomatoes went perfectly with the garam masala eggs in pots.

What you need

*1 (or 2) egg(s)

*2 spoons of sour cream

*1 ramekin (one for each person you try to amaze :D)

*salt & pepper & garam masala

How to do it

1. Preheat the oven on 200 degrees Celsius

2. Place one spoon of sour cream in each ramekin, then brake one egg (or 2 in my case) over

3. Add another sour cream over the eggs, salt, pepper and garam masala for a more exotic touch

4. Put warm water in a pot (not much to not get over the ramekins if it boils), place the ramekins in the pot and place the eggs in the oven for about 15 minutes.

5. If you like the eggs more cooked, let them more time in the oven 🙂

P.S. I’ve been focusing myself on cooking and posting here about dishes and food, lately, cause we didn’t do much in our house and garden. Except of taking care of them and cleaning them, of course, cause we’re preparing body and soul for our summer holiday in Crete. I hope we’ll come back with beautiful stories to tell and nice sources of inspiration but there is still time till then

 

 

….pure & simple…breakfast

When it comes to breakfast, I’m not the person who “eats” just one coffee and that’s it, neither the one who eats muesli, fruits and other “sweets”. I can’t say I didn’t try it, cause you have to try something before say it it is not your cup of tea, isn’t it?

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When it comes to breakfast, I am the person who EATS. Well….not like a piggy eat, more like a bird, but I know already, that if I start my day with fruits, I would die of starvation one hour later. Probably because I can’t say I am exactly a fruit person. If I could chose I would go with the vegetables I adore since my childhood.

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I know, I know, not all people are as lucky as I am and many of them don’t have too much time in the morning, but the breakfast is truly important for a good day start (the doctors said it already before me :)). Anyway. Today I found myself in this situation: with not so much time left to prepare a great breakfast. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t eat. And I had a great breakfast with calcium, lots of vitamins and minerals, together with the B12 vitamin from the egg I poached.

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What I had, was a simple and quick salad made of arugula sprinkled with a little salt, lemon and olive oil. The arugula salad was the “bed” for my one and only poached egg (I am not crazy about soft eggs, so I cooked it a little bit more) sprinkled with salt, white pepper and grated parmesan :).

 

Dinner feeling: I broke the ice! I cooked the first tajine of my life (with chicken, lemon and olives)

If you live in Romania or Transylvania a chicken, lemon and olive tajine might sound and be a bit too exotic for your taste. It is a great, flavored, incredible dish, but if you’re used to eat only the cabbage rolls with meat and rice, or if the most exotic dish you’ve ever tasted was cheese omelet or slănină (pork fat), then you might not like this dish.

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I’m not saying I’ve eaten all, or that I am used with the most exotic dishes in the world (oooh, I’m really far from that), but I have this open minded view over the food matters. I really think that if you want to know a nation’s heart, you must taste their food. You must sit with them on the same table and share their favorite soups, or main courses or desserts, together with their stories.

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That’s why, I’m trying as much as possible to educate my palate, to be able to enjoy some crazy tastes:). So, if you ask me, the world of taste is almost infinite and fascinating and I can’t wait to discover as much as possible of it.

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As you may know already, I got two great presents on my birthday. Two tajine cooking pots 🙂 I could not wait to use. I was dreaming about such a pot especially that I was aware they would open the door for an entire world of interesting tastes.

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The pots are great, really good quality from Emile Henry and I really don’t want to know how much they cost. I can’t say I could not imagine….Anyway, they are such a good quality pots, that you can use them everywhere: in the oven, on an open flame, on an electric stove (as ours) and even on hot kohl.

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So, in the spirit of a great experiment, I prepared, for our dinner today, the first tajine of my life and it came out great. We really, really loved it, even I’m sure my next tajines are going to be better and better 🙂 (yeah, I know I’m the Queen of Modesty)

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What I used:

*6 chicken drumsticks

*turmeric

*salt & pepper (they always go together as the day and the night :))

*garam masala

*ginger powder

*onion & garlic from our garden

*lemon rind

*2 spoons of olive oil

*1 tea spoon of honey

*olives (with stones)

*the tajine pot

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How I did it:

1. I sprinkled a large plateau with the salt, pepper, turmric, garam masala and ginger powder and mixed all the spices together.

2. Trundle the chicken in the spices until is well covered, then place it in the fridge for one our (I cheated, cause I let it in for just a half hour)

3. In the meantime chop the garlic and the onion and sautee them in a half spoon of olive oil. When they’re soft take them out and put them aside

4. Take the chicken our from the fridge and fry it well in the rest of your oil

5. Put the tajine vase on heat, add the chicken, the onion and garlic, the lemon rind, olives, the honey and some warm water. If you want more sauce add more water, but you don’t need too much to cook your great dish

6. Put the lid on and let it cook  slowly for about one hour, or more, on a very soft heat.

7. Serve it with plain basmati rice, or if you like it a bit salty add some salt.

 

Breakfast feeling: Fine herbs omelette (just because is an ordinary Wednesday)

I had this omelette in mind for a while, cause I was thinking I should use somehow in a creative and tasty way the fresh herbs we have all over our young garden.

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I love herbs and omelettes, especially those created with butter so there was this bug that bothered me. Cause when an idea comes into my mind and is related to anything edible or creative I really have to do it.  Cause if I don’t, the sleep runs away from me.

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So I did it today. This morning, actually, in a not so special day. But why should you wait for a really special day or anniversary to eat something fine or tasty or to make yourself or beloved ones a nice gift. My Wednesday gift for Laurentiu was this omelette. A fine one because of the herbs I used: marjoram, tarragon, peppermint and sage.

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What you need:

*fresh marjoram, tarragon, peppermint and sage, chopped and mixed together

*eggs (2 for Laurentiu, 1 for myself)

*butter and some olive oil (I use oil to prevent the butter from getting burned)

*brie cheese

*young (or old) garlic

*salt & pepper

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How to do it:

1. Chop the garlic and the herbs. Mix the herbs together, but keep the garlic aside.

2. Beat the eggs, add salt, pepper and the herbs

3. Heat the pan add the butter, olive oil (both in very small quantities) and add the garlic. Let it soften for 10 seconds and be careful not to burn it (it would become bitter)

4. Add the eggs, cook the omelette and when is almost ready add the cheese and put a  lid over the pan to help it melt

6. We ate it with toast bread and fresh radishes from our garden

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Dinner feeling: BBQ leftovers + wild rice = dreamy, spicy dinner

I guess you should not cook anything on your birthday, right? Wrong. I did cook something, for our dinner today, even there is still my birthday and it was somehow oriental inspired.  And guess what. It came up great, as I may add with modesty, of course.

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Well we had a barbeque Saturday when we actually had my birthday “party” and, as always happen we had some leftovers. I’m talking about the skewers I made with squash, chicken, peppers, onion, and chorizo. I put them in the fridge and started wondering what to do with them. First I thought I could make some middle eastern pita sandwiches with a yogurt and mint sauce, but I have chosen to combine it with rice :). It came out I had a great idea, cause the combination was great.

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I used, of course, the BBQ leftovers, but I added a big chopped tomato, some chilli, 1/2 cup of wild rice, a spoon of olive oil, one big onion and turmeric.

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How to do it:

1. Put the rice to boil and add a 1/2 tea spoon of turmeric into the water. Cover the pot and let it boil.

2. When the rice is boiled, in a frying pan add the olive oil, the onion and let it soften for a minute. Add the tomato, the chilli and the BBQ leftovers. Let them know each other for 2 minutes, add the rice, some salt and you’re ready

Not one, but two gorgeous birthday gifts (Tajine vases)

Tomorrow, on July 7 th is going to be my birthday. Because this year the 7 th  will be on a Monday, the day of the week not even the grass isn’t  growing, we kept the “party” on Saturday. I can’t say it was a party in the real sense of the word, cause there was not a big gather of people but the most valuable ones on earth, for me..

The party is not what I wanted to talk about, actually, but about the two of  the presents I got. They say that if you really wish for something, the Universe conspires to bring you what you wish for. Ah, and if you have around people who really love you, I may add.

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So, to unlock the mystery, I really, really wanted a tajine vase. I have no idea (yet) how to use it or what to cook in there, but I love  to learn and try new things, to explore new tastes.

Tajine vase  is almost as a small oven, used in northern Africa area, in Morocco, and you need only the ingredients a little water and fire to have a great clay oven for a really slow cooked food.

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My sister with her boyfriend and Laurentiu didn’t talk before, but they all knew how much I would love a tajine vase. So they bought me one, and I must say these are some of the most beautiful presents I got and I love them both so much…

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I can’t wait to explore the recipes of the moroccan cuisine and maybe, the transylvanian one created in those lovely, intriguing and interesting vases

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Create a flavored garden

No, no and no. You don’t need to have a garden to create a small green edible corner. No, you don’t need to be extremely patient to take care of your plants, no, you don’t need to spend a year taking care of them, but yes, you need a tiny green thumb to be sure you’re not gonna kill your herbs because you forget to wet them.

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Since I’ve discovered my cooking skills and cooking passion, I understood that, in order to create a good and tasty dish, you need herbs. When it comes to herbs and spices, here in Transylvania, people don’t use them very often, but they still have some favorite green little treasures to flavor their food. Dill in green pea, with carrots and chicken stew, tarragon, they use especially in “ciorbe” (borsh as many know them) and we keep it over winter, in jars, filled with white vinegar. Another herb intensely used in Transylvanian space is thyme, and we put it into sarmale (our traditional meat, rice and cabbage rolls), in the fresh cabbage salad in all the dishes with cabbage if I think well, some other beloved herb being parsley, lovage and bay leaves we usually put in our tomato sweet sauces for meatballs.

1(the sage, a plant I’m not very used to, but I’m willing and learning to use. that’s why I planted it, anyway)

If you ask me, I don’t have any parsley or dill in our garden, cause I hate dill and Laurentiu hates dill and parsley, but I do have basil and Greek basil (a herb considered magic around here), winter thyme, lavender (I have in plan to make ice cream with), marjoram, sage and, yes, tarragon.

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The herbs are perfect when dried, but brilliant when they are fresh, that’s why, no matter how much space you have around the house, some window box, small pots in the kitchen counter, a balcony, a tiny, medium or big garden, don’t forget about them. Plant what you love and you’ll like your food more. I guarantee.

3(marjoram, another magical herb…Is magical, indeed, when you combine it with eggs and in a tomato sauce)