Month: January 2012


About the food of Luxembourg

My first afternoon in Luxembourg, my family took me on a tour. “There’s downtown” my foster dad said. “Where?” I asked, spinning my head around. I looked just in time to see a street blur by. “You missed it,” he deadpanned. It wasn’t until he said, “I’ll turn around” and actually did that I realized he wasn’t kidding. Luxembourg is tiny, yet still ranks as “only” the 24th smallest country in the world. We could cross the entire country in about 45 minutes (the long way). Despite her small size, or perhaps because of it, Luxembourg is an amazingly diverse community. Almost all the locals speak three, sometimes four languages – usually Luxembourgish, English, German, and French. The food is usually characterized as a blend of French and German food, and that is pretty accurate, as long as you account for a healthy dose of country cooking. Most of Luxembourg is very rural, filled with endless rolling hills. Cows and other animals dot the grassy slopes. As you dip in and out of the hills, radio signal …

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Monday Meal Review: Lithuania

THE SCENE: We start off with twelve Lithuanian deviled eggs, more than enough for two adults and a toddler. We each eat one. Mine is gone in 2.8 seconds. Ava takes a minute to nibble on hers. Keith, a.k.a. Mr Picky, barely makes it. He shudders a little and holds his nose while he eats his egg, all in one bite because he simply can’t bare to make it last any longer. This is serious work for him; hard-boiled eggs and mushrooms are two of his least favorite ingredients. Watching him struggle, I can’t help myself. I giggle uncontrollably. The more I feel bad for him, the funnier it gets. He looks at me as he chews. I see payback in his eyes.  A twinge of fear runs through me. “They taste a lot better than they smell,” he says. Curious if he means it, I ask him to eat one more. We debate. He begs. I beg. Ava watches us pingball the idea around. She offers him one. Finally, he eats one more, purely for her …

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Roast Beet Slaw with Spicy Horseradish

It may have happened when you were five. Or maybe, just maybe, not until today. Either way, this much I know for sure: there comes a time in every person’s life when they come face to face with the mighty beet. Some will cower or run away, while others – like the Lithuanians, will chow down with enthusiasm. In this traditional slaw, roasted beets blend with tear-inducing horseradish and vinegar…creating a spicy, sour accompaniment that goes particularly well with beef and fish. P.S. Start this recipe a day or two before you need it, to give the ingredients time to mingle. Ingredients: 3/4 lb beet(s) (or 1- 1 1/2 cup(s) roasted, grated beets) 1 cup grated horseradish (about 1 whole horseradish, peeled & grated) 1/2 cup white wine vinegar 1/2 cup water 10 peppercorns, cracked or coarse ground pepper sugar, to taste salt Method: While this recipe will work with any old red beet, it’s always better to find the most GIANT beet in the world. Look how this one dwarfts my loaf pan… it’s …

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Pork Roast with Boozy Prunes

Remember the Sunday afternoon roast? How, as it slowly sizzled and crackled in the oven, the most wonderful smell crept throughout the house until there was nowhere to hide, and you were so hungry you almost couldn’t stand it? Eventually, playing outside was the only possible distraction. Even then the smell snuck out, through cracks in the wall, enticing you until you mysteriously found yourself infront of mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, just about anyone who would listen, asking “Is it ready yet?” … only to find yourself shooed back outside again for another agonizing half hour. As you know, waiting was always worth it. In the spirit of those wonderful Sundays, I bring you a Lithuanian-inspired Pork Roast. This moist platter of deliciousness features the regionally adored prune and the most popular meat in the country – pork. The best part about this roast is splashing the prunes with plenty of white wine. The sweet, dried fruit takes on a universe of flavor… and looks like a shimmering, liquid sky. Say hello to happiness. Recipe inspired …

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Lithuanian-Inspired Deviled Eggs with Mushrooms

Once, when I was in my first decade of life, I stared at a platter of chilled, “eyeball eggs,” as I called them, and vowed to never, ever eat one. A temper tantrum may, or may not have been involved. Now, two decades later, here I am, on the other side of the fence, albeit somewhat mystified how it came to be that I now scan buffets for the little suckers. I think the name says it all; like the neighborhood bad boy, the deviled egg is a love-it or hate-it treat. And, as with wine and coffee, appreciation almost always comes later in life. Unless… you live in Lithuania. There, eggs are as adored as apples, and more so on a cold buffet with additives like fish or mushrooms – the stinkier the better. For this week’s Global Table, I made a Lithuanian-inspired Deviled Egg, complete with fried mushrooms, dill, and sour cream. Why mushrooms? As one Lithuanian reader noted, “Mushroom foraging is like a sport in Lithuania (especially in the South) and I …

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Lithuanian Honey Spirits | Krupnikas

The holidays are over. We stuffed our wrapping paper back into the closet and swept the confetti into the trash, right on top of the party hats that say 2012. The cookies and the friendly buffets of family favorites are long since gone, replaced by soulless detoxes and way-too-skinny drinks. I know some of us are even thinking about spring – scanning the frozen ground, vainly hoping to see some stray spot of green, willing a warm gust of air to come our way, instead of a moveable wall of ice. But can we just… pause for a second, in the interest of good planning? Would you be very mad if I asked you to make a few presents for next year? Right… now? Hear me out. They say Lithuania has the largest collection of amber in the world – known as the gold of the baltics – but I uncovered a far more enticing “gold” in their liquor cabinets: Krupnikas, or Honey Spirits. This boozy drink tastes like heaven on fire – a sweet, fragrant blend that …

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Menu: Lithuania

The other day we took Ava on a hike in the woods and pretended we were exploring Lithuania. We brought a backpack to carry her when she got tired, which I expected to be about three minutes down the trail considering she’s only 2 1/2. Fortyfive minutes later she was still happily scrambling over the trails. That day, Ava walked more than a mile; clearly I’ve been underestimating her tiny baby legs. Now she gets to walk a lot – I let her walk the half mile to the library, school and grocery store. She loves it, singing and running almost the entire way! But there’s a wicked side effect… After every walk she comes down with the hungriest hunger. This week, our Lithuanian menu is partially a solution for this, the appetite of an insatiable toddler. I’d say, given their beautiful forests, they have some experience with hungry hikers like Ava. Lithuanian-inspired Deviled Eggs with Mushrooms [Recipe]  I know, I know. But this kid loves her eggs. And her mushrooms. When I read that Lithuanians …

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Lithuanian town. Photo by E.Giedraitis

About the food of Lithuania

Every country is special. And I don’t mean that in a trite way. Time and time again, this Adventure has shown me how every country has it’s bragging rights. Well, it turns out lil’ ol’ Lithuania is literally the center of Europe. Not too shabby. Some French researchers figured it out (read more about how they determined this). So, this week, while we dive into the food of Lithuania, let’s imagine ourselves perched atop a picnic blanket on that grey compass which marks this nexus of all things Europe. Since the winters can get very chilly (think sub zero), we’re better off having our picnic in the summer, when it temperatures generally bob around in the 60’s. The food is definitely Baltic, stuffed to the brim with those cold weather comforts like pickled herring, hearty rye everything (bread/ale/kvass/you-name-it), warming soups, and dumplings. But what stood out to me are Lithuania’s wild mushrooms, grown in the shade of her cool forests. The intense flavor of freshly foraged mushrooms makes even the simplest egg dish divine  [Recipe] , and …

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Monday Meal Review: Liechtenstein

THE SCENE: The timer’s high pitched chirp let’s me know; time to serve the King’s Cake. While I’d rather curl up in bed and wait for the fever to subside, the bright scent of orange zest and warm, sweet raisins lure me onward. I pull the hot rolls from the oven and brush them with three coats of apricot glaze. They take on a glossy shine and begin to smell like a fruit orchard in autumn. Then comes the sugar – a snowfall of crunchy, sparkly turbinado goodness. It sticks easily to the glaze. Instantly, my mood lifts. Proudly, I carry the King’s Cake into the living room and offer everyone a slice. As the first hand reaches to take a piece, I dive forward. “Wait!” I cry, swipe the tray away, and rush back into the kitchen. I rummage through the cabinets and emerge a moment later with a single almond. “Noone look,” I laugh slyly, and slip the almond into one of the small rolls, mentally taking note of the location. “Ava,” I say, “would …

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Triple Cheese Pasta with Sweet Onion |Käsknöpfle

When I told Keith, a.k.a. Mr Picky, what was for dinner this week, he said “Bless you.” You try saying it – Käsknöpfle – and see if you get the same response. Some words just sound like a sneeze, I guess. But don’t let that fool you. This week’s Käsknöpfle is … ahem… nothing to sneeze at. This wonderful, cheesy pasta dish enjoyed in Liechtenstein is like mac and cheese, but all grown up … a meal that has had a few years to explore the world and came back refreshed and refreshing – a great, big bowl of alpine comfort… A free spirit, if you will. This recipe is for the days when you don’t want everything all wrapped up in a neat little bow. When  you want things to be squiggly. And cheesy. And oniony. Trust me, it’s not too much to ask for. Just ask Liechtenstein. The fine folks of Liechtenstein recommend three cheeses… Fontina is creamy and has a bit of tang, Gruyere is salty and a bit drier (a bit reminiscent of Parmesan), and Emmenthalier is like a mild …

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Wooden Spoon Applesauce

Sometimes I buy fruit and it just… sits there. Life takes over. I go for hikes, I play catch with my daughter, I eat the candy from my stocking, and… before I know it, I just forget to eat them. I do this a lot with apples because they last so long and are so forgiving. Eventually, the time comes when they lose a bit of shine and a few bruises pop up. If this should happen to you, applesauce is the way to go. I didn’t realize how easy it would be to make until I did it this week. Trust me, you can do this.  In countries like Liechtenstein applesauce is the go-to side dish for all sorts of meals, like Schnitzel [recipe] and Käsknöpfle (recipe will be up this weekend). The fresh flavor will totally make you forget that you left your apples just …. sitting there… for so … long. Best part? No fancy equipment required. Just a plain ol’ wooden spoon. That’s love right there. Here’s the easy, peasy recipe: Makes 2 …

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A Cake for 3 Kings | Dreikönigskuchen

Epiphany. People use the word to say they had a great idea. Like the proverbial lightbulb going off over one’s head. But we’re not going to eat lighbulbs today. Nope. Epiphany is the time of year that Liechtenstein, as well as many other countries around the world, celebrate “little Christmas.” This national holiday is celebrated on January 6 and is a nod to the late arrival of the 3 kings to the very first Christmas party… afterall, they did hike quite a ways to get to Bethlehem. Calling the Dreikönigskuchen a cake is somewhat a misnomer as it is really more of a sweet roll. You can find it fresh in bakeries all over Liechtenstein. Filled with fresh citrus rind, sweet raisins and bound with the richness of milk and butter, it’s a fantastic treat on a cold winter’s day. The best part? A single almond is hidden inside one of the rolls. Whoever finds it gets to be King (or Queen) for the day. It’s a beautiful and fun game for kids. Once the winner is …

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