Baked Trout with Vegetables

Baked trout with vegetables and rucola

Baked trout with vegetables and rucola

Baking fish wrapped in foil is an excellent idea, because flavors are much more intense and the meat is more tender. The downside, as you can see from the above photo, is the presentation, which suffers a bit. Well, to be honest, I don’t have special fish plates, that’s why I served it straight from the foil.

Anyway, here’s my baked trout recipe:

Get two medium-sized fish. If you can arrange with the shop assistant to clean them for you, that’s awesome. If not, expect a bit of mess in the kitchen. I’ve got mine already cleaned and ready to cook:

Cleaned fish

Cleaned fish

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil. Chop one big onion and add it to the pan.

Cooking onion in hot olive oil

Cooking onion in hot olive oil

Cook it for about 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Add 10-12 chopped mushrooms:

Chopped mushrooms

Chopped mushrooms

Stir well, then add salt and some red hot chili flakes:

Fish stuffing: onions, mushrooms and red chili flakes

Fish stuffing: onions, mushrooms and red chili flakes

Chop 3-4 cherry tomatoes and one green bell pepper and add them to the pan:

Vegetable stuffing mix for fish

Vegetable stuffing mix for fish

Chop 6-7 garlic cloves and mix them with two tablespoons olive oil and the juice from half lemon:

Chopped garlic with olive oil and lemon juice

Chopped garlic with olive oil and lemon juice

Put the fish on aluminum foils, spoon the vegetable stuffing inside them, then pour this mixture on top of the fish.

Fish - stuffed, glazed, ready to go in the oven for baking

Fish - stuffed, glazed, ready to go in the oven for baking

Close the foils, so the fish look now like Egyptian mummies :)

Fish in aluminum foil

Fish in aluminum foil

Bake the fish in the oven, over medium heat. It should be done in about 45 minutes. Anyway, after 40 minutes, take it out of the oven and open the wrappings, then return it to the oven and bake it for 5-10 minutes more, so it gets a kind of crust.

Oven-baked, stuffed fish

Oven-baked, stuffed fish

Now, if you want to go festive, transfer the fish on special fish platters. The easier option is to just unwrap and serve it like this:

Nice and juicy baked trout

Nice and juicy baked trout

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium size fish (trout or any other fish of your choice)
  • 10-12 mushrooms
  • 1 big onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3-4 cherry tomatoes (or one big tomato)
  • 6-7 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • lemon juice from a half lemon
  • lemon slices (for serving)
  • red chili flakes
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Oven Baked Fish with Tomatoes

Baked fish fillets with tomatoes

Baked fish fillets with tomatoes

Oven baked fish recipes are the easiest way to prepare a delicious meal in little time. If you don’t want to deal with those annoying tiny bones, just get some nice fish fillets, fresh or frozen.
In a baking dish, put two tablespoons live oil, then add the fish fillets. Salt them according to your preference. Mix 1/2 pound canned tomatoes with 1/2 cup of water and a little bit of salt and pour it over the fish fillets. Sprinkle fresh rosemary and allspice berries all over the food. Bake it uncovered, over medium heat, for about 30-40 minutes.

Baked fish with tomatoes, rosemary and allspice

Baked fish with tomatoes, rosemary and allspice

Serve the fish fillets with lemon slices and a few rucola leaves. A little freshly ground black pepper will always add a nice visual effect to the plate and an interesting flavor to the food.

Yummy fish fillets on plate

Yummy fish fillets on plate


Ingredients:

  • 4 fish fillets without skin
  • 1/2 pound canned tomatoes (whole or diced, whatever you prefer)
  • 8-10 allspice berries
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste
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Spicy Chicken Wings

Do you need some easy party finger food recipes? Spicy chicken wings can be perfect for a snack with friends in front of the TV during the Super Bowl or with any other occasion. There are several methods of making spicy chicken wings. I’ve chosen to bake them, because it’s not only healthier than deep frying, but also easier: after putting the wings in the oven, all you have to do is wait the required amount of time.

Count your guests and buy 3-4 chicken wings for each person.

Free range chicken wings

Free range chicken wings

My recipe makes six wings and I ate four of them as soon as I took them out of the oven.

Wash the chicken wings in cold water.

Wash the chicken wings under cold running water

Wash the chicken wings under cold running water

Remove any hairs you can see. Hairy chicken wings are not very appealing, so you want to make sure your guests won’t have a surprise. A surefire way to get rid of all hair is to scorch the wings a little bit on the stove top, however you need to have a gas stove for that. My wings were clean, so washing was enough.

Prepare a dry rub. I used the rub from this roast chicken recipe, improved with a tablespoon of curry powder and a teaspoon of ground red hot chili flakes. If you start your dry rub from scratch, mix the curry powder and the chili flakes with one teaspoon of salt, half teaspoon ground black pepper and half teaspoon dried rosemary.

Spread the rub on a plate. Just start with a small amount and add some when needed. In this way, you can save the rub you won’t use.

Dry rub for roast chicken

Dry rub for roast chicken

Coat each chicken wing thoroughly.

Chicken wings coated in dry rub

Chicken wings coated in dry rub

Pour one tablespoon of salt and two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a dish.

Salt and extra virgin olive oil

Salt and extra virgin olive oil

Coat the chicken wings in olive oil and salt. Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Chicken wing taking an olive oil bath

Chicken wing taking an olive oil bath

Set the chicken wings on a baking tray, making sure they don’t touch each other. Add 7-8 whole garlic cloves between the wings. Roast garlic is simply delicious and it gives a wonderful flavor to the meat.

Chicken wings and garlic ready for the oven

Chicken wings and garlic ready for the oven

Roast the chicken wings for about 30 minutes on medium to high heat.

Spicy chicken wings

Spicy chicken wings

Arrange the chicken wings nicely on a plate (or more, if you made lots of them) and serve them hot. I served mine with a side dish of potatoes with butter and parsley and with rocket salad with grated cheese, olive oil and lemon juice.

Chicken wings with potatoes on a plate

Chicken wings with potatoes on a plate

Ingredients for 1-2 people:

  • 6 free range chicken wings
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 7-8 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons dry rub for roast chicken (mix your favorite ingredients)
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Baked Cheese Balls

Ingredients:

  • 7 ounces Swiss cheese, grated
  • 7 ounces all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Preparation:

Bring the water to a boil, then add the salt and the butter. When the butter melts, remove from heat and add the flour. Mix well. Add the grated cheese and the eggs. Mix everything very well, until you get a homogeneous composition. Let it cool for about one hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Put baking paper on the bottom of an oven tray. With your palms, start forming balls from the mixture. Put the balls on the baking paper, making sure there’s enough room around them, so they don’t get it touch with each other.

Bake the cheese balls for 30 minutes. You can serve them either hot or cold. Suggestion for serving: place several lettuce leaves on a big platter and arrange the cheese balls on top.

This recipe makes about 40-50 cheese balls.

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Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed With Cream Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 20 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pound cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons green onions, finely chopped
  • 20 fresh parsley leaves
  • 20 halves black olives
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste (optional)

Preparation:

Cut a small lid from the top of each cherry tomato. Scoop the tomatoes carefully. You can use a tea spoon for that.

In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, dill, green onion, salt and pepper. Put the mixture into a decorating bag. If you don’t have a decorating bag, just use any clean plastic bag and cut one of the corners to allow the mixture to come out. Fill the cherry tomatoes one by one. Decorate them with a parsley leaf and with half black olive each. You can use other foods for decorating: red bell pepper, capers, pickled beetroot or even chopped ham or bacon.

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Romanian Potato Salad – Salata Boeuf

Salata Boeuf - happy face decoration

Salata Boeuf - happy face decoration

Come to the Christmas dinner in any Romanian home and you’ll most probably have the opportunity to try Salata Boeuf. After that, chances are that you’ll fall in love with it and miss it wherever you go.

Salata Boeuf, or Salata de Boeuf, is a typical Romanian dish, a potato salad served as appetizer at festive dinners, especially during winter time. Why winter time? Well, because that’s the time when people have pickles in their pantries and because the Boeuf Salad calls for lots of pickles such as gherkins and red bell peppers.

As “boeuf” is the French for “beef”, you’d be tempted to think this is a French recipe. I thought so, too. However, it seems the recipe has Russian origins: it’s similar to the Olivier Salad, which is Russian.

This is my Romanian potato salad recipe, a classic that can’t go wrong.

Take about one pound beef meat and wash it. Since we are going to use the pressure cooker, you can buy cheaper cuts of beef such as brisket, because it’s going to end up tender anyway.

Beef for Salata Boeuf

Beef for Salata Boeuf

Peel three carrots, a celery root, a parsnip and an onion. Put them in the pressure cooker together with the beef and a teaspoon of salt and fill it about three quarters with water. It is important not to fill it above that limit because if you do, the cooker will spit hot water on you and on everything on a 2 feet range around the stove. Please don’t ask me how I know that. I just know ;)

Pressure cooker ready to go

Pressure cooker ready to go

Cook the food for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, wait until all steam is gone, then remove the lid and check to see if the beef is cooked. The vegetables will be cooked for sure. If the beef is tender, you’re done. If not, take the vegetables out of the pressure cooker, put the lid back on and keep on cooking for 30 minutes more.

In another pot, boil 4-5 medium size potatoes. If you want, you can add the potatoes into the pressure cooker with the other ingredients. Be aware that if you do so, they will end up overcooked and you may not be very happy about that. I’m not, so I boil them separately.

After you boil all vegetables, let them cool before you chop them. If you want, you can put them in the fridge and finish the salad in a few hours or even the next day. Anyway, retain the beef broth for other meals. I, for instance, used it for my French onion soup recipe and for the mushrooms quesadilla recipe.

Vegetables for Salata de Boeuf

Vegetables for Salata de Boeuf

Dice the carrots, parsnip and celery root.

Chopped carrots

Diced carrots

Dice 6-7 gherkins.

Diced gherkins

Diced gherkins

Chop 3-4 pickled red bell pepper halves.

Pickled red pepper

Pickled red pepper

Chop the beef.

Chopped beef

Chopped beef

Mix everything in a very large pot. Add salt and pepper according to your taste. Optionally you can add two tablespoons of mustard.

Romanian potato salad - work in progess

Romanian potato salad - work in progess

Add about 1/2 pound mayonnaise and mix well.

Spoon the potato salad mixture into bowls. If you prepare this for a festive dinner with more than 4 guests, it’s a good idea to split it into a few bowls, in order to make it easier to reach for everybody at the table.

Salata Boeuf in bowls

Salata Boeuf in bowls

Pour some mayonnaise on top of each potato salad bowl.

Pouring mayonnaise on the potato salad bowls

Pouring mayonnaise on the potato salad bowls

Spread the mayonnaise onto the salad surface as if you were painting a wall. You can use a spoon, fork or knife to do that.

Salata Boeuf with mayonnaise topping

Salata Boeuf with mayonnaise topping

Now it’s time to decorate the bowls. This will turn a simple potato salad into Salata Boeuf. Use gherkins, picked red bell peppers and black olives and let your creativity flow. If you have kids, you can ask them to help you. They will love it. Here’s what I did with my potato salad bowls:

Salata Boeuf decoration ideas

Salata Boeuf decoration idea

… and the second one:

Salata Boeuf - another decoration idea

Salata Boeuf - another decoration idea

Chill the salads in the fridge for at least one hour before serving.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium size potatoes
  • 1 onion ( to be discarded after boiling or used for some other dish)
  • 1 parsnip
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 celery root
  • 1 pound beef
  • 6-7 gherkins + 2 for decor
  • 3-4 pickled red bell pepper halves + 2 for decor
  • 5-6 black olives (for decor)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound mayonnaise + three tablespoons more for decorating the bowls
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Quesadilla with Mushrooms and Onions

Tasty quesadillas

Tasty quesadillas

This is an idea for a filling, healthy breakfast. Melting cheese, caramelized onions, mushrooms, fresh parsley and a little garlic, gathered together between two crisp tortillas will make your morning awesome and will give you energy for a few good hours.

Take one onion, chop it and saute it with a bit of olive oil and salt.

Chopped onion

Chopped onion

Saute the onions over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, until they start to caramelize.

Caramelized onions for mushroom quesadilla

Caramelized onions for mushroom quesadilla

Get 5-6 white mushrooms, clean them, chop them, then add them into the pan and saute them together with the onions. Add a little bit of salt and ground black pepper.

Mushrooms and onions for quesadilla

Mushrooms and onions for quesadillas

In about 15-20 minutes,mushrooms will be cooked, onions will be soft, so it’s time to add 3-4 garlic cloves, minced. Cook them for 1-2 minutes, then add about two tablespoons of beef broth to deglaze the pan. Keep on cooking until the broth evaporates. Remove from heat and add minced parsley (I added two tablespoons of fresh parsley).

Mushrooms, onions, garlic and parsley = quesadilla filling

Mushrooms, onions, garlic and parsley = quesadilla filling

While the mushrooms are cooking, grate some cheese. You’ll need about 1 cup of grated cheese for one quesadilla.

Grated cheese

Grated cheese

Heat a little bit of olive oil in a pan. Add one of the tortillas, rub it a little to coat it in oil and let it heat for 1 minute.

Tortilla number 1 heating

Tortilla number 1 heating

Flip it on the other side and heat it for 1 minute.

Flipping the tortilla in the pan

Flipping the tortilla in the pan

Set the first tortilla aside. Repeat the procedure with the second tortilla, then add half of the grated cheese on top of it.

Mounting quesadillas - first cheese layer

Mounting quesadillas - first cheese layer

Add the onion-mushrooms mixture, spreading it evenly onto the surface.

Mounting quesadillas - mushrooms and onions layer

Mounting quesadillas - mushrooms and onions layer

Spread the rest of the cheese on top, then cover with the other tortilla.

Mounting quesadillas - second cheese layer

Mounting quesadillas - second cheese layer

Cook it over low heat for about 2 minutes, then flip it and cook it for 2 more minutes or until the cheese melts.

Flipped quesadilla - cooking on the second side

Flipped quesadilla - cooking on the second side

Take care when you flip it, because the filling will want to come out and spread all over your kitchen floor. The easiest way to do it is to cover the pan with a plate, then with both hands, reverse the pan, so the quesadilla lands on the plate. Then let it slide from the plate into the pan.

When ready, cut the quesadilla in quarters and serve it with salsa topping.

Quesadilla recipe with mushrooms and onions. Bon Appetit!

Quesadilla recipe with mushrooms and onions. Bon Appetit!

Ingredients for this quesadilla recipe:

  • 2 small tortillas
  • 1 medium size onion
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 5-6 white mushrooms (small-medium size)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons beef broth (can be replaced with dry white wine)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
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Easy Cheese Straws With Caraway Seeds

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound feta cheese, grated
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 pound all purpose white flour
  • 1-2 egg yolks (for glazing the cheese straws)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pound butter
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt

Preparation:

Mix the flour, grated feta cheese, yogurt, butter and baking powder, until you get a firm dough. Cool it in the fridge for 1 hour. Divide the dough in 4 parts. Roll each of them until you get a 1/8 inch thick sheet. Try to shape it rectangular, if you can. If not, it’s not a problem, use a knife to cut the round edges and mix them into another dough ball.

In a small bowl, separate the egg yolks. Save the whites to use for other foods. With a pastry brush, glaze the dough sheet generously. Spread caraway seeds all over it.

Cut the dough sheet in stripes about 1/2 inch wide. The length can be anything you wish.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Put baking paper in a tray, then transfer the dough stripes on it, carefully not to break them.

Bake the straws for 10-15 minutes. Watch them closely after 10 minutes, because it’s easy to overcook them.

Serve them at room temperature. If you have any of them left (although I doubt that) you can store them in the fridge and eat them the next day.

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Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil

Bruschetta is one of the most popular appetizers and one of the easiest to prepare finger foods for parties. The original Italian “bruschetta” meant just toasted bread slices rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil. The first known use of this word dates back from 1954 (information source: Merriam-Webster). Nowadays, the meaning has been extended to garlic – olive oil toast slices with various toppings such as tomatoes, mozzarella and herbs.

This is my version of bruschetta with tomato and basil which I serve as appetizer at parties. It’s my favorite finger food recipe for summer time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 French baguette, sliced thick
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 6-7 basil leaves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, diced
  • salt and pepper

Preparation:

In a pot, bring water to a boil. Remove it from heat and add the tomatoes. Wait one minute. Drain the tomatoes, peel them, chop them and remove the seeds and the stem areas. Parboiled tomatoes are very easy to peel.

Mince the basil leaves and two garlic cloves, dice the mozzarella, then mix them with the chopped tomatoes. Add salt and pepper. Refrigerate while you prepare the bread.

Cut the French baguette in diagonal slices about 1/2 inch thick. Toast the bread slices. Cut one garlic clove and rub the toast with it, then drizzle some olive oil on top. Spoon the tomato – basil mixture on top of each toast slice, on the side that’s been rubbed with garlic and oiled. Serve the bruschetta immediately.

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Oven Baked Jacket Potatoes

Delicious, very filling and inexpensive, jacket potatoes are one of my favorite foods and one of the potato recipes I cook quite often. I usually have them in restaurants, but I don’t shy away from cooking them at home, either. Baking the perfect jacket potatoes is not so much of a challenge. All you need is an oven, some tin foil, a fork and, of course, the potato. Other ingredients are optional, so you can make up your own recipe, as you’ll see in a moment. As of the cooking time, if you go for the microwave method, you can expect your meal to be ready in as little as 15 minutes. However, if you prefer the classic oven baking, that would take at least 90 minutes.

I like the jacket potatoes with cheese filling and with mayonnaise on top.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Take two medium-large potatoes. Wash and dry them. Prick them all over with a fork, then wrap them in tin foil. Bake them in the oven for 90 minutes.

Now you can either cut them open and add the fillings of your choice or you can go for the stuffed jacket, which means scooping the insides of the potatoes, mashing them with crumbled cheese and butter, then putting the filling back in jackets. You can also add small cubes of ham or bacon. Sprinkle cheese on top and return to the oven for two minutes more. Serve immediately. Stuffed jacket potatoes are awesome with a topping of mayonnaise or sour cream and with freshly ground pepper.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium-large potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup cheese, grated or crumbled (choose your favorite cheese, all of them are as good)
  • 1/2 cup diced ham or bacon (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream or mayonnaise
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