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Cristina

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My name is Cristina. I was born in Constanta, Romania and moved to Toronto with my parents aged five. Growing up I spent every summer at my grandparents homestead in rural Romania, which instilled in me a deep and consuming love for traditional culture. Back in Toronto I made friends from every part of the world, which sparked a longstanding love affair with the complex identities and traditions behind the cultures I encounter. For the last three years I've been getting to know American culture living in Royal Oak, Michigan with my Romanian-Canadian husband Bogdan and our American rescue dog Oliver. Culture and identity has been a defining part of my life and I love sharing my explorations in food and culture here. I also write about managing my multiethnic foodie kitchen, sourcing good ingredients, and travel. If you want to connect the best place to find me is Instagram (I'm always online :P)

The other night I was in a particularly crave-y mood. I wanted meat and potatoes meets spice. I happened to remember these Wholly Wholesome pie crusts I picked up from Whole Foods and the samosa pie was born. When I was preparing it it felt totally wrong, like a terrible bastardization of traditional cuisine. It was going to be a dirty little secret. No one needed to know. Then we…

Last week Bogdan and I went to Town Tavern in Royal Oak because Four Square told us the lobster mac and cheese was “to die for.” It was not. For the most part it was okay. The lobster was cooked well, the macaroni was slightly overdone but acceptable, the sauce could have been creamier. It would have been okay overall (like 6.5 out of 10 maybe?) but the ritz cracker crust…

I recently saw a very interesting Vox video on food waste aptly called Food waste is the world’s dumbest problem.  Food waste is a really big problem. According to this video it’s such a big problem that if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions after China and the United States respectively. In the US roughly 40% of the food we…

Pasta is one of those fundamental “from scratch” things that can seriously impress your dinner guests and also totally change the game on what you thought you knew. Once you’ve had fresh homemade pasta, it’s really hard to even call that stuff you buy in boxes pasta anymore. I learned to make pasta the way I learned to make bread, which is to say with a few bumps in the…

We just got back from a 10 day trip to Toronto. It’s been almost 5 years since I left for law school. I miss Toronto intensely. I miss the familiarity and the diversity. I miss the culture and the energy and the sense of being in the thick of it. Probably most of all I miss casually connecting with family and friends without having to plan in advance. When I’m…

I followed the NY Times Butter Chicken recipe by Tom Sifton, which can be found here. I tried not to deviate from the recipe too much. Making it was a pleasure from start to finish. The strong and subtle aromas wafting out of the kitchen were reward in themselves. The taste was what I expected but much more. Homemade butter chicken can have noticeably more complex flavours than take out if you cook with…

I spent a lot of my formative years in Toronto, where I gained an appreciation for diversity that’s had an enduring impact on me. Toronto is a mecca of multiculturalism. You can find food from all over the world in various parts of the city: Greek town on Danforth, Korean in K-town, Little Italy and Corso Italia on College and St. Clair, Portugal Village at Dundas West, Japanese & Hungarian in the…

Back in May we ordered four thai bird chili seedlings on Amazon.  A few weeks later we received a USPS box stuffed with styrofoam squiggles and four tiny plants that could fit in the palm of my hand. They were so small and frail looking we weren’t sure we’d be able to keep them alive. Not only did they survive, but they got huge! They even made it through our month long…

We were at the farmers market asking around everywhere for chorizo. A few weeks earlier we attended a dinner to celebrate the engagement of two of our friends. They showed us a really neat Portuguese cooking method that involves setting alcohol on fire in a ceramic pig. How cool is that? As you can imagine I had to have one. I got the pig but the chorizo was no where to be…

Around this time last year I made a few different kinds of cookies that Bogdan took to work. Honestly, these chill-chocolate cookies were included as sort of a last minute afterthought. Now, a year later, I had to really dig deep to remember the other types because the chocolate-chili Mexican cookies were by far the crowd favourite. You see those ones on the end? They’re cream cheese frosted pumpkin spice cookies. The ones…

I have a confession to make. This is my third time trying to make this tart. The first time it sort of fell apart. The second time it burned. I was so determined to make it and I’m still not really sure why. It seemed so chic and…classically French. What makes a tarte tatin what it is is the process of cooking the apples underneath the pastry and then flipping…

Mmmmm this was so SO good. It was Friday evening. We got in late after another rousing round of house hunting. We were really tired and just wanted something comforting and quick. This really delivered. Mushrooms are amazingly versatile and so delicious in so many ways. They impart a really satisfying and robust umami to this pasta that plays so well with the creamy and sharp cheese. Combine that with the herbaceous…

It was such a pleasure making this tart. Bogdan and I met up with some friends at Eastern Market on Saturday and there were beautiful heirloom tomatoes everywhere. I didn’t have any plans for them but I had to have some. Just look how beautiful they are. Slicing them for this tart was almost as good as eating the finished product. The smell of sweet fresh tomatoes filled my kitchen and I…

soft. chewy. crunchy. sweet. salty. spicy. chocolatey. warm. mouthwatering. totally perfect. These cookies are ah-mazing. Think of a cross between a ginger snap and a white chocolate macadamia nut. I tested the recipe 3-4 times over the course of a week to get it just right. Friends and family were my willing guinea pigs and they absolutely loved these cookies. There’s a bit of extra salt to counter the sweet and the…

Earlier this week I wrote about cooking with Fall flavours beyond pumpkin spice. There’s literally a world of flavours out there that we don’t associate with Fall nearly enough. Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines perfectly represent the richness and abundance of Fall. After all, what says Fall more than spices and long slow cooking methods? This harvest biryani really brings out the tastes of the season. It’s rich and aromatic,…

Wow. That name is a mouthful. I wasn’t sure what to call this. I’ve seen recipes for all kinds of brûléed things: oatmeal on the view from great island, rice pudding on baked bree, even savoury corn on tasty kitchen. I was excited to try my hand at brûléeing something other than custard. I wanted to make a healthier version of crème brûlée but honestly I don’t think this is that…

It’s the first day of fall. I woke up earlier than usual this morning. The sun was just coming up as I sat down to write this post. I think a small part of me feels like it’s Christmas morning. It’s hard to say but fall might be my favourite season. There are so many things to love about it. The refreshing nip in the air in the mornings, leaves changing…

Ok, I have to be honest: this isn’t really a recipe. I feel sort of bad even posting it because it’s really simple and normally wouldn’t be worth posting but the pictures are so beautiful I had to share it at least for the sake of sharing presentation inspiration. I had been planning on making a sweet potato and parsnip purée to go with a lemon and herb roasted chicken. When it…

Usually whenever I want cornbread I just toss a few things in a blender and it’s done in about five minutes. This particular iteration of my many five minute cornbreads was absolutely perfect. It had a great sweet to spice balance and was just moist enough. I made it to go with frijoles borrachos – in case you’re interested. Best part is how fast it is. [left] Ingredients  2 cups cornmeal (I…

I don’t know how else to describe it other than to say that this is simply a beautiful cake. Start to finish it was an experience. Eating it was (surprisingly) not the best part. The best part was the feeling that I was making something unfamiliar. I found it in what I’m realizing is a quite obscure cookbook called Food of the World by Murdoch Publishing. As it turns out, it is…

Pâté. A small word with many accents and assumptions. I think just the word makes most people think of something fussy. Pâté is not a fancy word in Romania. In fact, pâté is considered to be a quite rustic food. This is the case throughout Europe, where pâté finds it’s origins in humble peasants’ ingenuity and creativity. In North America pâté finds it’s origins in Europe. Probably has something to do with all…

I’m just going to warn you before we go any further that if you make this you won’t be able to eat regular omelettes anymore. The first time we tasted the Alton Brown perfect omelette over a year ago we were immediately struck by the intense flavours that come through when you don’t cook the s*** out of your eggs. They are sublime. They’re smooth and custardy in the middle,…

A few months ago when we were doing whole30 I started reading up on a lot of different health foods. As it turns out gelatin has a really devoted following both for its health benefits and for the variety of things it can do from a culinary standpoint. I ordered some Great Lakes Unflavored Beef Gelatin, which has a reputation for being the best (mostly because it’s grassfed). I was so…