May 29, 2008

Tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwich - Supa de rosii cu sandvich de branza topita

Everybody must have a different recipe for tomato soup, with or without cream, and different ingredients, and I could certainly say that I have never made tomato soup twice the same, because every time I use whatever I find in my fridge. You could always add zucchini, even grilled corn to it, more carrots.... Look only how wonderful Cristina’s carrot and tomato soup with ricotta dumplings looks, and I still haven’t made it, although it waits on my list for months now.
Every time I eat (or only just think of) tomato soup, I remember the ones made by my mom and my grandma (Maia) in summertime, served cold, when you were melting in the heat and feel that you couldn’t possibly eat anything but fruits and icecream. This soup smells like summer as much as cherries smell like June and the summer holiday starting soon. At least for me it does.

This time I made it without any rice or pasta, like my mom and grandma make it sometime. We ate it with a grilled cheese sandwich, as we learnt to like since we live here. Because it is not yet the season for sweet tasty tomatoes, I used whole canned tomatoes and diced canned tomatoes. Next time, I am thinking to roast some Roma tomatoes and see if they will make it better.

- one medium onion, diced
- 2 carrots and one parsnip, grated
- one stalk celery chopped
- one 28 oz. can whole tomatoes (which I mashed- chopped before adding them to the soup)
- one 14.5 can diced tomatoes
- one quart chicken broth ( you could substitute vegetable or beef)
- one tablespoon sugar
I sauteed the onion, carrot, parsnip and celery, until softened, then added the broth and all the tomatoes, and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. I added the sugar to cut the acidity from the tomatoes, but you can omit it or add more, as you like.
I let the soup cool down for a while, and working in batches, I put half of it in the blender and pureed it, then the other half, poured it back in the pot and brought it once more to a boil. I made the sandwich with Provolone and Muenster, on the electric grill, long enough to get the cheese melted and some grill marks on the wheat bread. But any panini made on the grill, heavy skillet or grill would do.
On top is a little bit of sour cream and basil. You could always add cream or sour cream, chopped basil or other herbs to the soup. It is refreshing, light and tasty.


Supa de rosii cu sandwich de branza topita la grill

Fiecare are o reteta de supa de rosii, iar eu pot spune cu sigurantza ca nu am facut-o de doua ori la fel, pentru ca de fiecare data am adaugat alte legume si zarzavaturi, in functie de ce aveam prin frigider. Cat de minunat arata supa Cristei cu morcovi si rosii cu galusti de urda, pe care tot nu am reusit sa o fac, desi e pe lista de cateva luni.
De fiecare data cand mananc supa de rosii imi aduc aminte de cele facute de mama si de bunica mea, servite reci, vara, cand simteai ca te topesti de caldura si nu ti-era foame mai deloc. Pentru mine supa asta miroase a vara la fel de mult cum miros ciresele a Iunie si a vacanta care incepe curand. Cel putin pentru mine.
De data asta am facut-o fara orez sau paste, cum faceau cateodata mama si maia mea, pentru ca am servit-o cu sandwich de branza pus pe grill, cum am invatat sa mancam de cand ne-am aciuit pe aici. Nefiind sezonul pt. rosii dulci si gustoase ( pe care nu le gasesti intotdeauna nici macar vara), am facut supa din rosii intregi conservate.

- o ceapa medie tocata
- 2 morcovi si un pastarnac rasi pe razatoarea mare
- o tija de telina tocata
- o cutie de 900g rosii intregi ( pe care le-am tocat inainte de a le pune in supa)
- o cutie de rosii tocate in suc de rosii de 450g
- un litru supa de pui si legume
- o lingura de zahar

Am calit cateva minute ceapa, morcovul, pastranacul si telina, cat sa se moaie putin, apoi am adaugat zeama de supa si toate rosiile, si am lasat sa fiarba cca 30 minute. Am pus si lingurita de zahar, ca sa taie din aciditatea rosiilor, dar se poate omite sau se poate pune mai mult, dupa gustul fiecaruia.
Cand s-a racit putin, am pus jumatate din supa in blender si am facut-o crema, apoi restul, dupa care inapoi in oala si am lasat-o sa mai dea un clocot.
Intre timp am uns doua felii de paine de secara cu unt numai pe o parte, si am facut sandwich cu doua felii de branza, eu am avut provolone si muenster, pastrand partea unsa cu unt in exterior. Am pus sandwichul pe grill mai putin de un minut, cat sa se topeasca branza si sa prinda painea niste dungi frumoase. Se poate face absolut perfect si intr-o tigaie neaderenta, fara alta grasime decat untul de pe felii, si se tine aproape un minut pe fiecare parte.
Am decorat cu putina smantana pusa cu spritzul si o frunza de busuioc, si am servit-o cu sandvich-ul.

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Pork medalions with caramelized fennel and onion and balsamic sauce

I think I start liking this blogging affair, especially since I am looking thru old pictures and don't have to rush home to cook and take new pictures, I have a couple saved already that I could use. This way I even feel less bad about having leftovers last night, instead of making something else. And since I am so comfortable with my laziness, I foresee tonight a mac & cheese dinner for Clara and something for us, I don't like myself too tired, do I? (although a little bit worried here, I was just reminded that laziness is one of the deadly sins, I should shake it off asap, so next time maybe it will be a new dish and new picture, not just an old one.)

So, here is: pork tenderloin, very tender indeed, no fat at all, that's why you don't need to cook it very long, with some mashed potatoes and sauce and caramelized fennel and onion. Everything is simple and easy, but my portions, as you see, since served at home, dinner time, for a big guy, are pretty consistent, not just pretty, as I would visualize them. But for the blog's sake, from now on, I'll have a prettier set up. Or at least I'll try to remember to do so.

- one pork tenderloin, about a pound and a half (I cut the tenderloin in three this time)
- two fennel bulbs, fronds reserved for decorating
- one small white or yellow onion
- about 6 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
- one cup red whine
- one cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- butter and milk/cream for the mashed potatoes
- salt & pepper

Boil the potatoes in salted water, then strain and mash them mixing with butter and milk (or cream if you prefer), adding salt to your taste. Keep them warm until ready to serve.

Preheat the oven at 375 F. I seasoned the tenderloin with salt and pepper, then I seared it in a hot pan with little bit of oil, about 2 minutes per side, until browned all over, then put it in the oven for about 5-7 minutes. I put foil on the roasting pan as I wanted to get any juices/ drippings and use them for the sauce, did not happen. When it's done, remove it from the oven, cover with foil and let it rest until ready to slice and plate.

In a saucepan I boiled the wine, the balsamic vinegar and the sugar until reduced to about 2/3 of a cup. Taste the sauce and if it needs more sugar you could add some, as well as salt and pepper.

I julienned the fennel and the onion (with some salt and pepper) and I sauteed it in a pan with about 2 tablespoons oil, until caramelized.

Then everything goes on the plate, in smaller or bigger portions, as you please: mashed potatoes as a nest (very creative, I know, I know), the fennel and onion in the middle, then the sliced tenderloin on top.

Drizzle some sauce (I obviously poured, not just drizzled, but that's because we like the sauce) around the potatoes and decorate with some fennel fronds or any fresh herbs you have or like.

For those who don't like or have fennel, you could use 3 small onions instead. For those who don't like onion, use fennel. For those who don't like fennel or onion, well, maybe some wilted greens, like spinach or kale, I know they are not the same, but nothing else crosses my mind right now. Oh, yes, other ideas: roasted bell pepper or sauteed mushrooms would be nice too.

Muschiulet de porc cu garnitura de cartofi, fenicul si ceapa caramelizata si sos balsamic
Cred ca incepe sa-mi placa toata afacerea asta cu blogul, mai ales pentru ca folosesc poze facute mai demult si nu trebuie sa ma grabesc acasa sa gatesc si sa fac poze, mai am cateva salvate. Si in felul acesta nici nu ma mai simt atat de rau ca aseara am mancat ce gatisem cu o seara in urma, fara sa fac altceva nou. Si pentru ca tot ma simt atat de comfortabil cu lenea asta, prevad o seara de paste cu branza pentru clara si ceva, orisice, pentru noi, doar nu vreau sa ma obosesc prea tare, nu? (Scriind randurile astea, tocmai imi vine in minte ca lenea e unul din pacatele majore, mortale in engleza, asa ca ar trebui macar asta sa ma faca sa ma scutur de ea imediat, poate data viitoare va fi ceva nou de mancare si o poza noua, nu una pescuita din trecut.)
Revenind la postul zilei - muschiulet de porc, foarte fraged, deloc gras, de aceea nici nu trebuie gatit prea mult, cu garnitura de cartofi, sos balsamic si ceapa cu fenicul (anason dulce) caramelizat. Totul e simplu de preparat si usor, dar portiile mele, dupa cum vedeti, pentru ca sunt servite acasa, la cina, unui barbat cu apetit foarte sanatos, sunt destul de consistente, nu si foarte prezentabile, asa cum le-as vrea eu. Dar de dragul blogului, de acum inainte, o sa incerc macar sa am o farfurie asa cum trebuie, sau macar sa-mi aduc aminte sa fac asa.

- un muschiulet de porc, de aproape 700 g, eu l-am taiat in trei
- doua bulburi de fenicul, frunzele rezervate pentru decorat
- o ceapa medie
- 6 cartofi curatati si taiati in cuburi
- 200 ml vin rosu
- 200 ml otet balsamic
- 2 linguri zahar
- unt si lapte pentru cartofi
- sare & piper

Se fierb cartofii in apa sarata, se scurg si se zdrobesc, amestecandu-se cu unt si lapte, si sare dupa gust. Se pastreaza calzi pana sunt gata sa fie serviti.
Se incalzeste cuptorul la 190C (un pic mai mult de temperatura medie). Am sarat si piperat muschiuletul, apoi l-am prajit intr-o tigaie fierbinte cu foarte putin ulei, cam 2 minute pe fiecare parte, pana a facut o crusta peste tot, apoi l-am pus in cuptor pentru inca 5-7 minute. Eu am pus niste folie de aluminiu sperand sa adun sucul lasat de carne si sa-l pun in sos, dar nu a lasat nici un pic. Can e gata, se scoate din cuptor, se acopera cu folie sa ramana cald, si se feliaza numai cand se serveste pe farfurie.
Intr-o craticioara am fiert vinul si otetul balsamic cu zaharul pana s-a redus mai mult de jumatate si s-a ingrosat. Se adauga mai mult zahar daca va place mai dulce, de asemenea sare si piper.
Am taiat feniculul si ceapa solzisori si le-am calit cu putin ulei, sare si piper, pana s-au caramelizat si au devenit un auriu mai inchis.
Apoi totul merge pe farfurii, in portii mai mici sau mai mari, dupa plac. Eu am pus cartofii ca un cuib (imi dau seama cat de original, ar trebui sa patentez ideea, hi-hi), in mijloc ceapa si feniculul, iar deasupra cateva felii de carne.
Se "picura"/"stropeste" putin sos (eu am turnat de-a binelea, pentru ca ne place mult sosul) in jurul cartofilor si se decoreaza farfuria cu frunzele pastrate de la fenicul sau orice verdeturi proaspete aveti sau va plac.
Pentru cei carora nu le place sau nu au fenicul, puteti folosi 3 cepe medii. Pentru cei carora nu le place ceapa calita, puteti folosi numai fenicul. Pentru cei carora nu le plac nici ceapa nici feniculul, poate niste spanac, desi nu e acelasi lucru. Sau niste ardei copti taiati solzisori, cu putin ulei si usturoi, sau ciuperci, si cam atat imi vine in minte acum.

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May 28, 2008

Salmon Wellington

I have been looking for some time now thru my pictures and saved recipes, to find the courage and inspiration to start this blog, trying to get over newbie's nerves and over my fixed ideas, displeased with my pictures and afraid of a mediocre posting. Browsing my folders, I finally decided to choose this salmon. Everybody in my family likes fish, but diferences appear when we have to say which fish we prefer and it definitelly matters how it's prepared. Clara and I have pretty similar tastes- we like the fish soup ( I am refering to the Romanian fish borsh), but only the broth, we like salmon as well as white flash fish, grilled, baked or seared. Gabi is more traditional, his first choice would always be fried fish, add some aioli - makes it better, would not crave or ask for salmon unless it is smoked or cured, and that Romanian fish borsh is always ideal and better with lots of fish heads (feel free to turn your head for a second, I feel the same ...), but the three of us like the same the dish called "saramura" (which I found on wikipedia translated as pickled fish -
Too many personal info, isn't it? so I'll go back to the Wellington, actually to more taking about it than the recipe itself....
I heard of Wellington for the first time about 4 years ago, while watching "Hell's Kitchen" - Gordon Ramsey's show, anxious to see what challenges they had to face and imagining how I would do - dream on, dream on..... Theirs was made with beef, no mushroom stuffing or anything else, and I liked how beautiful the meat came out - medium rare, not overdone, no burnt pastry?!?! After "google-ing" (I think the Romanian version of this word sounds much better) I found the salmon version, which I liked so much that I never felt the need to try the beef one, and I am not sure when that would happen (not a big beef fan, could have steak once a year only without complaining).
Finally, the recipe, or better said the way I made it:
- one piece salmon (one pound and a half, cut lenghtwise in two) - a pound and a half spinach
- half an onion, small chop, divided in two
- one sheet puff pastry, cut in two (keep it in the fridge until ready to use it, otherwise would get too soft)
- 2/3 cup white wine (you know that rule with nothing that you would not drink, maybe the same you'll have for dinner)
- 2/3 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- a pinch saffron
- about a pound asparagus
- one egg to brush the pastry
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons oil ( I use either sunflower or canola, but you could use whatever you like)
- salt & pepper
- black & white sesame and course salt -to sprinkle on the pastry
- chives, chopped for plating
- 1/3 red bell pepper, finely diced for plating

I sauteed half of the chopped onion and the spinach in 2 tablespoons oil, until the spinach is wilted, then added the 2 tablespoons of cream and let it cook until the sauce evaporated, without leaving the spinach too dry.

I seasoned the fish with salt and lemon pepper, then seared it in a pan in 2 tablespoons of oil, only about 1 minute per side, long enough to have a crust which will not let any juices drip in the puff pastry later on. (Since the fish could be so easily overcooked due to the later baking ( see my photos!!!), you could skip this step and just pat dry the salmon.) If you sear it, take the salmon out on a paper towel to absorb any juices until ready to be used.

Preheat the oven at 400F (200C) and place the rack in the upper third of the oven. I rolled the puff pastry sheet on a chopping board and I pricked it with a fork all over to make sure it will raise evenly when baked. I brushed the edge with some egg wash, then I put one piece of fish over the pastry, topped it with half of the spinach and wrapped the pastry around, like a package. You could cut the edges around not to be more than 2/3 of a inch (1.5 cm) and press with the fork all around. (Or you could just put one edge underneath, kind of a roll). Brush the pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle some course salt and sesame on top. Place the packages on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake them for 25-30 minutes, until golden.

When the fish is done, take it out on a cooling rack and let it stand for about 10 minutes, so you could slice it nicely, without crushing the pastry and flaking the fish too much (once again, see photo!!)

In a separate dish put the asparagus, drizzled with a little bit of oil, salt and pepper and roast it for 10-15 minutes, same temperature, 400F.

For the sauce: saute the rest of the onion in 2 tablespoons butter and when golden add the wine, let it simmer until reduce by half, then add the cream and once again let it reduce by half. Take it away from the heat and season the sauce with salt and pepper, add the saffron, then the last 2 tablespoons of butter. Strain the sauce and put it aside until ready to serve.

As far as the plating, it’s up to your imagination. I placed the asparagus on the bottom, as a fan, then two slices of Wellington on top, sauce on the side and some chives and bell pepper sprinkled around.

hhhmmmm..... This is it, hope I started with the right foot.

Somon Wellington (versiunea romana)

Am cautat in lung si in lat prin toate pozele si retetele mele sa prind curaj si sa postez pentru prima data, incercand sa trec peste tracul incepatorului si peste ideile mele fixe. Asa m-am oprit asupra somonului asta, si in sfarsit m-am decis.

Ne place pestele tuturor din casa, numai ca nu la toti preparat la fel si nu la toti acelasi fel de peste. Eu si Clara suntem pe aceeasi pagina - ne place ciorba de peste, dar numai zeama, ne place somonul si pestele alb, ne place facut la gratar, la cuptor sau in tigaie. Gabi e mai traditionalist, prima alegere ar fi intotdeauna pestele prajit, cu mujdei eventual, si nu ar alege somon decat daca e afumat, probabil, si ciorba de peste e atat de buna cu multe capatani (puteti face linistiti fata verde, o am si eu chiar acum ...), dar facem toti trei front comun la saramura.

Prea multe detalii, asa ca revin la Wellington, de fapt la alta vorbarie legata de reteta. Prima data am auzit de Wellington la "Hell's Kitchen" - show-ul lui Gordon Ramsey, in urma cu cateva sezoane, cand il urmaream. Ei il faceau pe cel original cu vita, si fara alte umpluturi in aluat, si ma tot minunam ce frumos iese carnea, facuta suficient fara sa arda aluatul si fara sa fie prea in sange. Dupa "google-itul" de rigoare, am gasit varianta cu peste, care mi-a placut atat de mult incat pe cea cu vita nu am incercat-o niciodata si nici nu ma imbie (nu sunt mare fan carne vita).

In sfasit, reteta, sau mai bine spus ce si cum am facut eu:
- un file somon (500 gr, taiat in doua pe lung)
- 700 g spanac
- o ceapa medie tocata marunt, impartita in doua
- aluat pt. pateuri (se tine la frigider pana e nevoie de el, ca sa fie usor de folosit), taiat in doua
- o ceasca de vin alb
-o ceasca plus 2 linguri de smantana dulce
- safron
- 500 g sparanghel
- un ou batut pt. uns aluatul
- 50 g unt
- 4 linguri ulei
sare, piper, seminte de susan alb si negru, sare de mare (grunjoasa)
iarba ciorii (chives in engleza)
ardei rosu taiat marunt pt. decor

Am sotat spanacul cu jumatate din ceapa tocata in 2 linguri de ulei, numai cat sa fie oparit. Se adauga sare si piper dupa gust si 2 linguri smantana dulce (sa-l faca mai cremos) si se mai tine pe foc pana nu mai ramane sos aproape deloc, dar sa nu fie nici uscat.
Am condimentat pestele cu sare si piper cu lamaie, apoi l-am pus in tigaie cu 2 linguri de ulei numai cat sa prinda o crusta care sa-l impiedice sa lase apa in aluat. Pasul asta poate fi sarit daca pestele e sters bine, pentru ca altfel o sa fie prea uscat la sfarsit daca e prajit prea mult acum.Se incalzeste cuptorul la 400F (200C). Se lasa pestele sa se raceasca pe un servet de hartie care sa absoarba sucul lasat. Se aseaza o foaie de aluat pe tocator si se inteapa cu furculita ca sa creasca uniform la copt. Se aseaza o bucata de peste pe aluat, deasupra se pune jumatate din spanac, se uda marginile foii si se impatureste aluatul ca sa faca un pachetel. Se taie marginile cam la 1.5 cm si se apasa cu furculita sa se uneasca. ( Sau se poate trece marginea pe dedesubt, ca sa formeze un fel de rulou). Se unge aluatul cu ou, apoi se presara sare grunjoasa si seminte de susan.
Se pune intr-o tava pe hartie de copt si se pune la cuptor pt. 25-30 minute sau pana e auriu. Gratarul sa fie in prima treime de sus a cuptorului, ca sa nu se arda. Cand e gata, se scoate si se lasa la racit, ca sa se taie feliile frumos, fara se faramiteze.
Separat se pune sparanghelul stropit cu putin ulei, sare si piper la cuptor (la aceeasi temperatura) timp de 10-12 minute.
Intre timp se caleste cealalta jumatate de ceapa in putin unt si se stinge cu vinul, care se lasa sa fiarba pana se reduce la jumatate, apoi se adauga o ceasca de smantana dulce, sare si piper, si se lasa sa fiarba pana se reduce din nou la jumatate. Se da la o parte, se adauga un varf de cutit de sofran (sau cateva fire) si doua lingurite de unt. Prezentarea in farfurie dupa imaginatia si placul bucatarului. Eu am asezat cateva fire de sparanghel si peste el 2 felii de somon, iar pe langa putin sos si ardei si chives pentru decor.
Si cu asta gata primul post si sper ca am inceput cu dreptul.

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May 8, 2008

Prolog (Prologue)

I am not sure why I started this blog, since I am spending my time online reading and drooling looking at other culinary blogs, always feeling that I don't have enough time for this, and to add to my unsettled mind, the small perfectionist part of me ( I should say extremely small part, for which I am ashamed, "but this shame will pass soon, sooner than it should", citing from Pride & Prejudice, this is how obsessed I am with it) is very unhappy with the pictures I took, and the fact that it all looks like one more kitchen, nothing notable like what I’ve seen and admired on other blogs that inspired me in the last two years... however, I am sooooo tempted and as said above, I will probably get over my shame toooo soon and start posting. (Mind you, this prologue was written 3 months ago, and today I got the guts to post it, with my first recipe and culinary entry).
I have never had a diary, I have a hard time putting together a recipe notebook or even to keep in order the hundreds (without any exaggeration) of recipes printed, and now I turned around 180 degrees and decided to start a blog. I remember the motto read on one of my friend’s blog - in the third millennium the journal becomes public- and I smile.
I would like to write about more than my passion for cooking, and to post here about what inspires me and/or "hits" me, both in Romanian and English, as it crossed my mind when I chose the name.... Maybe this will be my corner, where I could put things together and keep them neat, to push myself to do better, starting with the pictures and with the writing. I really do hope so.
And this, I think, already sounds better than my undecided and wondering beginning, doesn’t it?
Versiunea romana
Nu sunt sigura de ce am creat blogul acesta, considerand ca imi petrec timpul destul de limitat la calculator citind alte bloguri si niciodata nu am destul timp pentru cate as vrea sa vad si sa citesc, sper sa gasesc cumva candva timpul necesar.
Nu sunt sigura cu ce sa incep, si ca sa adaug la toate nehotararile mele, perfectionista din mine (din pacate, pentru mine, e numai o parte extrem de mica, iar "rusinea asta o sa treaca repede, mult mai repede decat ar trebui", am ajuns sa citez din Pride & Prejudice, atat de fixata sunt) e deranjata de calitatea pozelor mele de amator, si de faptul ca e doar o alta bucatarie, incomparabil cu ce am vazut si admirat pe blogurile ce m-au inspirat in ultimii 2 ani, insa ma tenteaza ideea tare si dupa cum am spus probabil ca o sa trec peste toate astea mult prea repede.
Nu am avut niciodata un jurnal, mi-e greu sa tin caiete de retete sau sa pastrez in ordine sutele (fara nici o exagerare) de retete tiparite, iar acum am trecut la polul opus, m-am hotarat sa incep un blog. Imi aduc aminte de motto-ul citit pe blogul unui prieten - in mileniul III jurnalul devine public- si zambesc.
Nu as vrea sa scriu numai despre pasiunea mea pentru bucatarie, ci despre ce ma inspira sau ma "loveste" pe parcurs, in romana si in engleza, asa cum m-am gandit cand am ales numele.. Poate asta o sa fie coltul meu, unde pot sa tin totul la un loc, in ordine, si sa incerc sa fac totul mai bine, incepand de la poze si terminand cu scrisul. Sper din tot sufletul.

Suna mai bine decat inceputul, nu?

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