My New Crockery

Last week I’ve been away to London for work and this meant I’m a little behind with new recipes. You can imagine how frustrating it is to have so many ideas, but not time to do them. Anyway, hopefully, I’ll be back on my regular schedule of two recipes each week. As I bought quite a few new plates and cups, I thought it would be nice to share my new crockery on the blog as a quick update.

My New Crockery

My husband thinks I bought a lot, I can’t, obviously, agree with his assessment. I’ve pondered if I should get this item or that item. I’m going to talk a bit about each item, in the order I got them.
I’m not too knowledgeable when it comes to ceramics, but now I can recognize the materials and some of the techniques after I saw last year a TV show called The Great Pottery Throw Down. I loved that series, it was so interesting.

Laura De Benedetti Ceramics

First of all, I got this amazing set made by the very talented Laura De Benedetti. I’ve met her this week in London and she is wonderful. I think the items she is making are stunning. The cup has such a lovely feel to it, it feels like it’s flowing, I love the colours too. I can’t wait to use the cup. The cup is made of porcelain.
You can see more of her work on her website, ldbceramics.

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My Spices

Today’s post will be different, I’m going to talk about my spices. I like to use all sort of spices, this way, even a dish I’ve made before can be more exciting and new by adding different spices.

my spices. shelves filled with spices

These are the shelves with the spices on display. There are 45 jars of spices. Some of them are empty because I’ve run out of that particular spice. I often have to buy spices as I do use quite a lot when I’m cooking.
I’ve tried to place them in categories: herbs, roots. It’s easier to pick the ones I need, when I’m in the middle of stirring in the pan.

My favourite spice must be ground cardamon. I use it in risotto’s, especially for the vegan ones. I would use it in desserts too. It’s a very versatile spice.

Next one is cumin. I like adding lots of cumin when I’m making houmous. If I have shop-bought houmous I will sprinkle cumin and sumac on top. Sumac is the next on the list of my favourite spices.
Some of the spices end up in smoothies too, it’s a very nice way to add more flavour and a healthy kick to the morning drink.

The ones that I use the most are the herbs, obviously. Usually Italian herbs, as these are the ones my husband prefers. Two of the jars are now empty and I’m going to change what I have in them. The Pizza & Tomato jars had tomato spice. I bought it from a cooking show and it wasn’t as nice as I would have liked. So, now I’m going to change those jars with Chives and Curry leaves. I have the spices in the cupboards, I just need new labels for the jars.

Having all the spices on the shelves made my life easier. I can easily pick the ones I want to use, without having to search for them in the cupboards. Also, I can think of spice combinations better like that instead of trying to remember all the spices I have. Another great thing is that I can use them as props in photographs because they all look the same.

Recently I talked about the superfoods I’m using on my lifestyle blog.

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A Symphony of Textures

I’ve pondered if I should share this dish or not. It’s not a single item in itself, so I imagine is less likely my readers will want to try it. On the other hand, I made this dish as a starter for New Year’s Eve and it was a success. I loved it, mainly because its textures, hence the name A Symphony of Textures. It sounds a bit poetic, but I had no idea how else I could name the dish.

A Symphony of Textures

It’s not difficult to make and it looks fancy. All the ingredients can be prepared in advance, as it is a cold dish. I will share the recipe or include links to every part of the dish.

I might sign my own praises, but I think it looks stunning. A perfect vegetarian starter that will make everybody want to dig in.
The dish has three components: the choux, cheese and avocado cream stacks, and the crumble. They all work great together. I was amazed how lucky I was to create this dish from the first try. This is another reason why I want to share it, to have it as a reminder when I want to prepare another fancy meal. All the ingredients are for 4 servings.

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Chocolate Mousse Cake

I made this cake to celebrate a decade of being vegetarian. It’s a big thing for me, that’s why I’ve wanted to celebrate it with an amazing cake; so I’ve made Chocolate Mousse Cake. I’ve decorated the cake with freeze dried strawberries and cocoa nibs, they add a lovely texture to the mousse cake.

Chocolate Mousse Cake, slice

Ingredients for the sponge:
– 125g white flour
– 55g sugar
– 175ml orange juice
– 3 spoons oil
– 1 sp cocoa powder
– 1 tsp baking powder

Ingredients for mousse:
– 200g dark chocolate, at least 70%
– 200ml milk
– 4 egg whites
– 2 egg yolks
– 1/2 tsp agar agar
– 60g sugar

Ingredients for decor:
– freeze dried strawberries
– cocoa nibs

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Christmas menu 2017

I hope you had a wonderful time this Christmas, if you’ve celebrated, obviously. I like doing these roundups after Christmas, mostly because I will use this post as inspiration in the following years.

I will start talking about starters, then soup, main, and desserts. It’s not in this order we’ve had the food though. After a huge starter, we had a dessert, after a few hours we’ve continued with soup. It’s something we do every Christmas. The starter is a buffet with dips and dishes.

Christmas menu 2017 Mushrooms

The first dish was Spicy mushrooms with peanut butter, I’ve shared the mushroom recipe two years ago and it’s a recipe I still make a few times a year, I love it. For Christmas, I made the mushrooms in advance, and, on Christmas day, my husband heat them up with the spices and the peanut butter. It was a hot starter.

Christmas menu dips and eggs

From top left, I’ve made deviled eggs because my husband loves them. They are always on our Christmas table. After that is Roasted aubergine dip, Pea and mint dip, and Confit D’Oignon. I like incorporating loads of veggies, and dips are a easy way to do that.

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Last minute desserts for Christmas

With only a few days left, I thought it will be a good idea to make a list of last minute desserts for Christmas. I’ve made a list of recipes I would love to make again this Christmas. I can’t do all of them as it would mean too much food, but I always have a big list I’m thinking of when it comes to special days.

Last minute desserts for Christmas

I picked 6 recipes, all delicious. In these last minute desserts for Christmas, I chose some that are very easy to make, one that is a traditional dessert in Romania, one that is traditional in UK, and others that are rich and luxurious.

Vegan Mulled Wine Cupcakes
This is a recipe I made this year, for advent. I liked it so much, it’s moist and has a lovely flavour. I think it’s special and would make a beautiful dessert. Especially if you have a vegan guest, you can make cupcakes like these in less than 30 minutes with ingredients you have in your cupboards. Recipe for Vegan Mulled Wine Cupcakes.

Peanut butter biscuits
Biscuits are an obvious choice when it comes to Christmas. My mother always made biscuits when I was a child, using all sort of cutters and beautifully decorating the biscuits. If you don’t have time to decorate them, then just leave them as they are, they will be just as popular. Recipe for Peanut butter biscuits.

Hazelnut dark chocolate tart
This is a rich and luxurious dessert. A dark chocolate tart is so great. It would make a great finale to the Christmas meal. I didn’t plan to make it before, but I might make a few small individual tarts. Recipe for Hazelnut dark chocolate tart.

Victorian fruit cake
What can be more traditional for Christmas than a dried fruit cake? I make Christmas cake every year and I love it. I always make some changes to the recipe. I will share the recipe I’m doing this Christmas next year. Recipe for Victorian fruit cake.

Another traditional recipe for Christmas is Cozonac. It’s a Romanian sweet loaf similar to the Polish babka. It’s usually filled with walnuts and pieces of Turkish delight. Recipe for Cozonac.

Oreo cookies and cream cake
Last recipe is Oreo cookies and cream cake. I made it a few years ago, and I loved it. I think it’s a lovely easy cake to make and festive enough to have it on the table for the Christmas dinner. Recipe for Oreo cookies and cream cake.

I hope I’ve inspired you to try something new this Christmas.

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Vegetarian Rakott kelkaposzta

This is my take on Rakott kelkaposzta as it’s known in Hungary or Varza a la Cluj, as it’s known in Romania. Rakott kelkaposzta means layers of cabbage and this is a good description of the dish. It’s made up with layers of cabbage and mince.

This dish is a traditional Hungarian recipe that was adopted in Romania, starting from the west of the country, as the name suggests. My mother used to make this with meat when I was a child. When I’ve started cooking, I used to make it with a mix of meat and soy mince, to make it less fat and healthier. Now, as a vegetarian, I make it only with soy mince and I like it as it is, even more than before.

Vegetarian Rakott kelkaposzta, a serving

It can be made with fresh cabbage, frozen chopped cabbage, or cabbage in brine know as sauerkraut. This time I’ve made it with frozen chopped cabbage because I had a pack in the freezer. The taste will be different if you are using sauerkraut, so my suggestion is to try both and see which one is your favourite.

If you are using fresh cabbage, cook it in a bit of oil on a frying pan. It will release some water and the Rakott kelkaposzta will not be too watery. If you are using sauerkraut, then rinse it in running water if it’s too salty. If not, use it as it is.

Ingredients for 6 servings:
– 750g frozen chopped cabbage
– 450g meat free mince
– 4 spoons oil
– 400g chopped tomatoes
– 2 tsp sea salt
– 2 freen-range eggs
– 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
– 1 tsp paprika
– 1 tsp basil
– 2 tsp parsley
– sour cream to serve

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