Month: August 2013

Cream & Current Scones

The first time I had a scone – a real British scone – I almost lost my mind. The small disc had a tender crumb and tasted of lightly sweetened cream. A speckling of currants brightened the flavor, giving it just a hint of color, too. The giving texture of the scone is worth further mention. I think much of the lightness stems from the fact that  real scones are made with good quality European butter. European butter is richer (averaging 85% fat instead of just 81%), so there’s less water, which means a more delicate crumb. It also helped that the scone was made with a light touch: there was nothing overworked about the recipe ( a baking crime which can quickly turn a featherweight scone into a hockey puck). With such delicious ingredients, a true scone needs very little accouterments. Still, I did as the British do, and split my scone and added a spoonful of homemade strawberry preserves. The garnet colored preserves filled the craggy crevice so completely, the sticky goodness nearly spilled …

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Coronation Chicken Finger Sandwiches

Let’s be real. Any chance I get to play dress up with my daughter, I take. Like last week, when we wore fancy hats and had a British tea party, complete with coronation chicken and coronation egg salad sandwiches.  Coronation chicken was invented in 1952, for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. She was twenty-five years old. Her coronation was the first one to ever be televised, and she dressed for the occasion. Her amazing gown was embroidered with symbols of the commonwealth, including food, flowers, and more. Elizabeth’s coronation gown was commissioned from Norman Hartnell and embroidered on her instructions with the floral emblems of the Commonwealth countries: English Tudor rose; Scots thistle; Welsh leek; Irish shamrock; Australian wattle; Canadian maple leaf; New Zealand silver fern; South African protea; lotus flowers for India and Ceylon; and Pakistan’s wheat, cotton, and jute. (Wikipedia) Fact: no tea party is complete, if the queen isn’t in attendance. If not in person, then at least in spirit. The royal wave adds just the right flair. Even when served as dainty “finger” sandwiches, coronation chicken salad is big, bold, and curried. You’ll find it worthy of any …

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Menu: United Kingdom

Food in the United Kingdom is a fusion of Scottish, Irish, Welsh, British, and numerous international cuisines. From a selection that diverse and complex, there was almost no way to pick what to make. SO,  I let you decide what our menu would be. I put up a poll with a bunch of choices… closed my eyes, and hoped for the best. I was so glad that you chose coronation chicken and cream scones because it allowed me to do what I always wanted to do: have a very British Tea.  It also helps that the chicken dish was made for the queen, and scones are enjoyed throughout the Kingdom. For those that can’t get enough of the food in this region, I also want to point out the Irish recipes we made early on, including the amazing Guinness Chocolate Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream. The following recipes and meal review will be posted throughout the week: Coronation Chicken Finger Sandwiches [Recipe] Imagine having an entire dish dedicated to you and you alone… This week, you can enjoy the same curried …

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Leadenhall Market In London. Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

About the food of the United Kingdom

I’m not sure why people groan when I ask them what they think about the food in the United Kingdom. If I beg them to explain themselves, they mutter something about tripe, kidneys, haggis, mushy peas and lamb roasts. But, truly, what is more sublime than a bright green pea plucked from the  garden just moments before eating it? Or farm-fresh meats, from down the street? This is what I love about cooking in the United Kingdom. There’s a taste of the farm everywhere. In her tea sandwiches, there’s cucumber, or perhaps a spicy bit of watercress. In her tea, there’s hot milk, as fresh as can be. And, in the desserts, there’s all manner of berries, juicy, ripe, and sweet. If the food doesn’t come from the farm, it may come from the ocean, as Fish and Chips prove. When I was in London, I made sure to get a batch, smokin’ hot from the deep fryer. The fish is  moist, the batter crispy, and the chips, as thick and delicious as any other French fry. Beyond the …

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Monday Meal Review: United Arab Emirates

The batter hits the pan. Immediately, the sticky scent of dates hits the air. A few minutes later, I am alone with a stack of sweet, lacy, whole wheat muhalla. They look like crepes, but taste like sweet, yeasty bread. How on earth can I not eat them all up? Talk about a challenge. But my family is elsewhere; Ava at her little school program and my husband at work. So I eat just a corner of one. Then another. Soon an entire muhalla is gone. Then another. In the minutes that follow, I begin to wonder what the side effects of eating an entire batch of date crepes will be. Then I decide, it’s best not to think about it. A few days later, Keith makes a batch of muhalla. We’re supposed to eat together as a family, but we can’t seem to get it together. Everything’s a hurry, and we end up eating out. The batter sits in the fridge for three days, until it ferments so much, the only thing to do …

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Orange Blossom Juice

Orange juice is a hardworking breakfast drink. When everyone else in the house is still rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, orange juice is waaaay perky. It contains enough joy to put coffee out of business. But what if you had something a little more fancy to offer your family (or guests) in the morning? Orange juice with a splash of orange blossom water is a direct inspiration from the United Arab Emirates (and all over the Gulf), where hosts offer guests orange blossom water & orange juice syrups to their guests.  The orange blossom water adds a floral note – a bit of  perfume-laden romance – something which is often sorely lacking in the early morning hours. If you’d like to get extra fancy, squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice. That’ll brighten up the flavor even more. There’s really no recipe… start with a 1/4 tsp orange blossom water per cup of OJ, and add more to taste. I suggest you use the best orange juice you can find. If you …

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Emirati Date Crêpes | Muhalla

I’ve had a lot of breakfast treats over the years, but I’ve never tasted anything quite like these whole wheat date “crêpes” beloved in the United Arab Emirates. Made with whole wheat flour and a hearty helping of dates, they are a mildly sweet  and wholesome way to start the morning. I call them “crêpes” because of how they look, but, in truth, they’re called “Muhalla,” and quite different than a French crêpe. For starters, these are leavened with yeast, whose bubbles give the muhalla a more lacy texture. While you could make these with white flour, the whole wheat flour gives them a rich, nutty flavor – a nice contrast to the sweet note provided by the dates. The dates are the real star of Muhalla. In the United Arab Emirates, dates are one of the few ingredients which can grow, so they wind up in many of the local recipes such as this one. They are delicious, hot, warm or at room temperature. Be sure to serve them with some yogurt, fruit, or even a …

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Menu: United Arab Emirates

While I’m not usually much of a breakfast eater, the United Arab Emirates has me reconsidering. And the timing is perfect: I’ve been craving a good breakfast these last few days. I think it’s because preschool started for Ava and we’re all getting up earlier. I also started a workout program for the first time since … well… a while ago. Because of the workout program, I’m looking for early morning fuel, and it has to be nutritious. I found all that and more in this UAE-inspired menu. The recipes and the meal review will be posted throughout the week. Emirati Date Crêpes | Muhalla [Recipe] Whole wheat, yeast leavened crepes made with dates. Great with yogurt and honey. Add a little fresh fruit for even more healthful deliciousness. Orange Blossom Juice [Recipe] Wow your guests (and yourself) by spiking your orange juice with orange blossom water. Get ready for a romantic, beautiful drink especially worthy for breakfast in bed. How do you start your mornings? Are you a breakfast eater or not? Do you …

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A view of Buhairah Corniche from a residential tower in Sharjah, UAE-by Basil D Soufi

About the food of the United Arab Emirates

I have a buddy, Brad, who traveled to the United Arab Emirates a few years ago. TheFederation is made up of seven states on the Persian Gulf, including Dubai (where he went). Brad told me about the overwhelming heat, the desert, the glittering skyscrapers, but what really stood out were the UAE islands. They actually built islands that look like enormous palm trees. So, if you bought a house on the island, your street might be on the trunk, or one of the leaves. They even built the world as an island, but as far as I know it’s not populated yet. Oh, the irony. The food of the UAE is, in many ways, typical of the Persian Gulf. There’s camel meat, stuffed grape leaves (just like the beauties we made for Qatar), plenty of kebab, hummus, and tabbouleh. There’s also a sizable amount of Indian food in the UAE, because there are many workers from India in the federation. Just about all the food is imported, since not much can grow in the UAE. In …

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Monday Meal Review: Ukraine

It’s almost my husband’s birthday. In his honor, I found myself thinking about love. This week, Ukraine helped me understand what works and what doesn’t, in a whole new way. LOVE. No matter where a couple is from, you can always tell if they are in love. Real love. You don’t need to speak their language. You don’t need to hear what they whisper to each other when the rest of the world slumbers. Over dinner, two people might lean into each other, while others shift their bodies apart. Between the entree and dessert, some couples smile (and frown) with all their attention on each other,  while others’ eyes glass over, vague and disinterested. Perhaps there are those that spend their meal checking their phones while in their “loved ones’” company. I’m not here to judge, but I do believe this: it’s easier to see what love isn’t than what it is. If we feel isolated in another’s company, that is not love. If we feel anxious in another’s company, that is not love. But if …

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Ukrainian Beet Salad | Salat Vinagret

  Well, hello. Today we’re biting into a very pink salad. There’s not a lot of pink food I can think of besides strawberry ice cream. There’s certainly not a lot of savory pink food. Unless you live in Ukraine, where beets reign supreme. Beets are one of Ukraine’s most beloved root vegetables, and for good reason. They’re packed with fiber, vitamins A, B & C, magnesium, and iron. When they’re not mixed up in borsch, beets make their way into salad vinagret.  This salad is a vegan meal unto itself as it includes potatoes, carrots, peas, and sauerkraut. Some recipes swap the peas and sauerkraut for white beans and chopped pickles.   Salat Vinagret is funny, because there’s nothing vinegar about it. In fact, there’s no dressing added. The only “tang” comes from the sauerkraut, and the only seasoning from a bit of salt, pepper, and oil. Done and done.  The simplicity of this salad makes for a great summer supper, or autumn side dish (perhaps next to a few slices of pot roast). We …

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Ukranian Pasta Bake | Baked Lokshyna

Wouldn’t it be amazing if bacon could cure every ailment. In the Ukraine, I bet it does. Broken heart? Bacon. Spilled beet juice on your favorite sundress? Bacon. Thursday afternoon existential crisis? Bacon. I’m thinking it’s worth a try. That’s where this pasta bake comes in. “Lokshyna” are Ukrainian noodles, and today we’ve dressed them up with plenty of sizzling bacon, creamy cottage cheese, and a couple of cracked eggs to bind the casserole together. The finishing touch is a happy sprinkling of buttered breadcrumbs (as few or as many as you’d like). One note on authenticity: traditional versions of this recipe are made with fresh egg noodles. On a particularly harried shopping trip, I was unable to locate any… so my version is made with dried noodles. Keep in mind: if you do decide to use fresh noodles, you may need to alter the recipe. This is because fresh noodles can be baked uncooked, but will require more liquid to do so. But, either way, the Ukranian pasta casserole is… awesomely comforting (and perfect …

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