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russian-cabbage-pie-recipe-11

Russian Cabbage Pie

How to make Russian Cabbage PieThis much Russia knows: the chilly, early days of spring go hand-in-hand with cabbage. Throughout the countryside, rows of cabbages can be found poking through the ground even as the last freeze thaws. The tough, squeaky heads are impenetrable to all but the peskiest of creatures, but give them some attention with a sharp knife and persistent flame and you’ll see why cabbage is the pride of Russian home cooking.

How to make Russian Cabbage Pie

From cabbage rolls to borscht, Russian cookbooks are fat with ideas to use up the spring harvest – and at a mere $2-$3 per head at the market, it’s tempting to attempt them all. But if I had to pick just one, cabbage pie seems to shows off the humble vegetable’s truest potential.

"Serebriakova cabbage-village-neskuchnoye-1909" by Zinaida Serebriakova - http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/zinaida-serebriakova/cabbage-village-neskuchnoye-1909. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Serebriakova_cabbage-village-neskuchnoye-1909.jpg#/media/File:Serebriakova_cabbage-village-neskuchnoye-1909.jpg

Cabbage. Village Neskuchnoy (1909). Painted by Zinaida Serebriakova (1884-1967), one of Russia’s great female artists, known in part for her depictions of the Russian countryside.

Cook it up with little more than butter, a smattering of onion and lay it between sticky spoonfuls of sour cream batter… bake, then slice into neat squares and you’ll have a feast fit for any potluck. (We took it over to our neighbor’s potluck party; the casserole was cleaned out in mere minutes!)

The ingredients are simple enough…

Ingredients:

For the filling:

1 head cabbage (medium), cored and chopped
1 large onion, sliced thinly
3 tablespoons butter
3 eggs (hard-boiled)
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 egg (raw)

For the batter:

3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups flour
pinch salt

How to make it. 

Personally, I like cabbage pie with character, which means two things: First, take the time to really soften the onion and cabbage in the pan – that’s where the flavor builds…

How to make Russian Cabbage Pie

… second, season generously with salt and pepper (a little extra pepper adds welcome bite). Think of this way: scrambled eggs without a good shake of salt and pepper are terrible. The same goes with cabbage pie, especially since there’s a few hard-boiled eggs in the mix.

How to make Russian Cabbage Pie

Once the filling is cooked and seasoned, the sour cream batter comes together with a few turns of a spatula…

How to make Russian Cabbage Pie

Spread a little batter on the bottom of the pan, add the filling, and then spoon the remaining batter on top. Use the back of a spoon or spatula to spread evenly across the top. The coating might seem sparse but it puffs as it bakes and turns out to be just right. How to make Russian Cabbage PieWait a few minutes before slicing – the pie holds together better that way.

How to make Russian Cabbage Pie

Enjoy on a chilly spring day – warm or at room temperature.

Remember – there’s great joy in sharing a table with your loved ones.  Take the time to make your meals into adventures… into memories worth reliving.

"Zinaida Serebryakova (1914) At Breakfast" by Zinaida Serebryakova ; Серебрякова - http://entertainment.webshots.com/photo/2963882390037029906CkKXLW. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Zinaida_Serebryakova_(1914)_At_Breakfast.jpg#/media/File:Zinaida_Serebryakova_(1914)_At_Breakfast.jpg

“At Breakfast” (1914) by Russian painter Zinaida Serebryakova.

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Russian Cabbage pie is a casserole worthy of any potluck. Take the time to wilt the cabbage down fully and season well for best results. Russian Cabbage Pie
Servings Prep Time
12people 15minutes
Cook Time
80minutes
Servings Prep Time
12people 15minutes
Cook Time
80minutes
Ingredients
For the filling:
For the batter:
Instructions
For the Filling:
  1. Cook the cabbage and onion in butter over medium-high until softened. A large wok works best. Season the cabbage with salt and pepper as you work (if it's bland now, it'll be bland later!). The wilting process takes about 20 minutes. You may need to reduce the heat as you go to prevent burning. Stir occasionally.
  2. Set the hot mixture aside to cool. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375F and grease an 11x9-inch baking dish.
  3. Once the filling has cooled to luke-warm, stir in the chopped hard-boiled eggs and the raw egg to bind.
For the batter:
  1. Add the eggs, sour cream, and mayonnaise to a medium bowl. Stir until smooth, then add the dry ingredients.
To assemble and bake:
  1. Spread a little less than half the batter evenly over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spoon on the filling.
  2. Top the casserole with the remaining batter, adding it in dollops evenly across the surface and smoothing it with the back of a spoon or spatula to cover the entire surface.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and shiny. Let cool at least 15 minutes before slicing so that it holds its shape.
  4. Serve room temperature or warm. It'd be lovely with a bit of sour cream on the side.
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only.

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What’s the difference? Tasting Ceylon Teas

How to set up an accurate tea tasting.

English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, English Afternoon… Why so many names when they’re all “100% Ceylon Tea”?

My husband gave me a box set of black teas for Christmas. I poured intently over the dozen-or-so varieties only to discover that, while the tea names varied, the labels all listed the same ingredient: 100% Ceylon Tea. The issue came up again this month: I am fueling my book tour with gallons of tea … and yet every cuppa is little more than a brew of 100% Ceylon Tea.

Isn’t the definition of insanity

Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results?

I had to find out what was going on.

My next move? A literal “pouring over” with hot water. Every morning I sipped a different tea only to remain perplexed: I couldn’t detect a noticeable difference in the teas. Feeling more and more duped, I decided to host an official tea tasting.  And, since I wanted to be sure of the results, I did it with my husband and friend.

How to set up an accurate tea tasting.

How to set up an accurate tea tasting:

Whether you’re trying teas from the same part of the world or multiple regions, a tea tasting is a great way to bring the world into your kitchen. Even the tiniest global citizens can enjoy a tea tasting to learn more about geography, weather patterns, and agriculture.

  1. Take small sips. A tea tasting is a lot like wine tasting. While wine tastings can cause tipsy tipplers, caffeine jitters can be a minor issue at tea tastings (unless you’re tasting caffeine-free tea, in which case even the youngest family members can participate).
  2. Brew times are critical. Check packaging for suggested brew times.  While water is heating up, place the tea bags in the cups. Boil enough hot water to fill all the cups and add it in quick succession. Set a timer for exact brew. Remove the tea bags starting with the one that got hot water first.
  3. Sniff coffee grounds. Everything can start to taste the same after a while. Sniff coffee grounds to clear you palate (drinking water can help, too).

How to set up an accurate tea tasting.

The Results

My official panel of tasters included myself, Keith (thanks to his extra sensitive palate that once earned him the nickname Mr Picky), and my friend Alex.

English Afternoon

Description on the package: Medium strength, delightful bouquet

English afternoon is astringent and finished with a sharp high note – a little bit like the bite of a citrus peel.

Irish Breakfast

Description on the package: Deep color, extra strength

If Irish breakfast tea was musical, this tea would be the deep bass. I thought it had a pleasant vegetal note – rather like steamed artichokes and I’m certain the extra strength would be welcome on dreary mornings. Alex and Keith disagreed, noting that the mouthfeel was “rough” with a heavy bitterness and the astringency of unripe banana peel.

How to set up an accurate tea tasting.

English Breakfast

Description on the package: Rich, strong, full bodied

Full, round, with a suspicion of vanilla, English Breakfast was the crowd favorite. If you’re looking for a smooth wake-up call, a pot of English Breakfast is a sure bet.

Earl Grey

Description on the package: Medium strength, deep tone, delicate fragrance of Bergamot.

Just for fun, we added Earl Grey to the mix of teas we tasted. The package also claims 100% Ceylon, with the added fragrance of bergamot oil (a fruit in the citrus family also dubbed “sour orange”). To me the flavor is piney and quite floral. As far as the Ceylon Tea goes, Earl Grey tastes of mist and dreams, just as the name indicates.

Bergamot Fruit. Photo by Ivo Spadone.

Bergamot Fruit. Photo by Ivo Spadone.

How can there be a difference when it’s all Ceylon Tea?

Call me crazy, but even after the taste test I remained unsatisfied. How could there be a difference when the ingredient labels are exactly the same?

Turns out much of a tea’s flavor has to do with where it is grown and how it is processed. Ceylon Tea indicates tea grown in Sri Lanka. According to Dilmah Tea:

Only strength and tone vary, depending on the elevation of tea gardens above sea level in low, mid and high grown regions. Each region has it’s own distinctive character.

Traditional tea, made in the ‘orthodox’ style – a production process that starts with handpicking the leaves and continues through withering, rolling, oxidation and firing – follows a technique perfected over centuries. It produces tea that are varied and sophisticated.

Single Origin Tea – unblended tea – is important because one of the most desirable features in tea is terroir – the sense of place. Terroir dictates that tea grown in the Uva region at a certain time of year, possesses the unique, signature taste that is the product of that unique climatic phenomenon. It gives each valley, each region and each country its unique identity in tea. The lower cost option though is to buy tea from wherever it is cheap – for tea varies enormously in cost – and blend it all together to produce a ‘multi-origin blend’. That may work for coffee, but certainly not for tea.

Turns out I may not be crazy to expect different results from the teas – after all they aren’t exactly the same. So, if you’re using 100% Ceylon the variation comes from the terroir (similar to wine). Just because most wine is made with grapes doesn’t mean every bottle tastes the same!

Ok, got it! Let’s sip some tea… perhaps with some cream and currant scones!

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How to set up an accurate tea tasting.

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Living with my memoir out in the world

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Between recipes and global tips I want to take a moment to pause, breath in, and thank you, my beautiful readers. You continue to welcome me as I tour the country and promote my debut memoir, Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness. Your warmth humbles me.

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You tell me it’s safe to cry with you – and good thing, because I can’t seem to stop. I did it in book signings, on live radio, and in front of live studio audiences. I did it when that one host asked me “What would you tell your ten year old self?” Tears streamed down as I choked out the words “Nothing, I’d just hug her.” If you read the book you know my ten year old self sorely needed hugs.

Sharing my life story makes me feel naked on stage but I learned something amazing: when you’re willing to be vulnerable, so are your friends.

We’ve cried together, you and I, sometimes without words being exchanged. Just a knowing look can be enough. Others have opened up and shared their painful childhood memories – old friends and new friends.  Turns out we’re all looking for that sense of belonging – we’re all looking to find our place in this world.

My relationships are deepening because I dared to trust my life in your hearts. What a gift.

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So much of me being a published author has to do with saying my dreams out loud – with taking chances. Yesterday I gave my friend Rick Steves a real-life hug in Edmonds, Washington. Seven minutes on his show back in 2012 launched my site to thousands and led me to my book agent. You never know where the angels are in your life, or who will step up with an idea to reinvigorate your dreams. And you never who you might be able to help.

Rick Steves confided in me that he was launched into the public spotlight by a wildly successful author and TV Host – Arthur Frommer – and that he is grateful he is able to help other people in that way now. Here he is writing about it in his own words:

When I was in my twenties, my first really big media break came when I was invited to New York City to be on Arthur Frommer’s cable TV show. I remember Arthur putting his arm around my shoulder, looking into the camera, and — as if introducing me to the world —declaring, “Ladies and gentlemen, Rick Steves, the new Steve Birnbaum, Eugene Fodor, Temple Fielding of the travel guide industry.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. I was just a scruffy kid who loved to travel and share my experiences. I was scrappy for publicity, and here Arthur was using his show to boost me. […] Today, a generation later, I find myself getting great joy from sharing my audience with other travelers who are, perhaps, the new Frommers, Birnbaums, Fodors, and Fieldings themselves.

rick-steves

I want to tell you what I know to be true – and what I tell my daughter all the time:

Say your dreams out loud. Amazing things will happen. You are worth it.

See you on the rest of my book tour!

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red-velvet

O’Hara’s Irish Red Velvet Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream

Irish Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Think you need to eat green this Saint Patrick’s Day? Think again.

Come Saint Patrick’s Day, few desserts can stand up to the mighty Guinness Chocolate Cake – until now.  Irish Red Velvet Cake is as cheery as a wee leprechaun’s cheeks and as fiery as his beard. The crimson batter contains a dusting of cocoa and is bound with buttermilk – both characteristics of a traditional Red Velvet Cake, popular in the American South. But a few glugs of O’Hara’s Irish Red Ale gives this otherwise ordinary cake Celtic edge.

Irish-red-velvet-cake

This delightful Irish-American fusion makes an ideal dessert for the 40 million Irish Americans who celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day every year. (And, since Saint Patrick’s Day is more widely celebrated by Irish Americans than the Irish, this fusion turns out to be quite apropos.)

What is an Irish Red Ale?

Irish Red ales are reddish-brown in color and full-bodied. In the case of O’Hara’s, toasted malt sweetens the drink, while a bit of hops deepens the finish.

Too much of the bubbly brew can give the Irish Red Velvet Cake a yeasty, bread-like flavor – a modest 1/2 cup does the trick. Cutting back on the buttermilk to accommodate the Irish Red ale causes the cake to lose some richness but what is lost is more than made up for in festivity. The cake remains ultra moist and – according to one friend – irresistible, particularly when paired with a fluffy spread of Bailey’s Buttercream.

Note: The booze cooks off, so this cake is suitable for children, too. The Bailey’s in the buttercream is no different than adding vanilla extract.

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Origins of Irish Red Velvet Cake:

One blustery day this winter I decided to organize my cookbook collection. Food and Wine had just come to the house to do a photo shoot promoting my new book and had made a half dozen stacks with my cookbooks for a photo feature. As I put the books away, I sorted and edited the collection with fresh eyes.

In the chaos I stumbled upon a beer guide I’d long-since forgotten about. The glossy pages fell open revealing an assortment of Irish beers. A formidable pint of Guinness caught my eye, reminding me of the Guinness Chocolate Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream my family enjoyed back when we first cooked Ireland.

Then my eyes drifted across the page to the Irish Red ales. Somehow the notion of a red ale and a beer-infused cake became transposed.  My brain decided, (with alarming urgency) “I must make an Irish Red Velvet Cake.” A quick Google search turned up empty: as far as I could tell no one had attempted such a thing. Until now.

irish-red-velvet-cake-recipe-05

A few decorating tips

For perfectly white, crumb-free buttercream use a “crumb coating.”

irish-red-velvet-cake-recipe-01

It sounds fancy but just means that – after you bake and…

irish-red-velvet-cake-recipe-03

… stack the cake layers…irish-red-velvet-cake-recipe-09

… you spread a very thin layer of buttercream over the entire cake.

Next, refrigerate until the buttercream chills and is firm to the touch (about 30 minutes). The hardened buttercream traps the crumbs so that the next (thicker) layer of buttercream remains pristine as fresh snowfall.

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For the final coat, I like to dab frosting strategically around the cake and then use an offset spatula to smooth it out evenly.

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It’s really scientific.

Irish Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Your stove top travels await….

Take a moment, where ever you are, to enjoy your cake with a sense of adventure and imagination.

Perhaps in in an Irish castle…

Photo of Carrigafoyle Castle, Co. Kerry, Republic of Ireland.

Photo of Carrigafoyle Castle, Co. Kerry, Republic of Ireland by Arcaist.

… or an Irish Pub in… America!

"Downtown Disney - Raglan Road Irish Pub - retouched" by Flickr user: berkielynn http://www.flickr.com/people/berkie/ - Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/berkie/3177485179/. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Downtown_Disney_-_Raglan_Road_Irish_Pub_-_retouched.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Downtown_Disney_-_Raglan_Road_Irish_Pub_-_retouched.jpg

“Downtown Disney – Raglan Road Irish Pub” by Berkielynn.

Either way, you’ll be on your way to very sweet and very lucky day.

Or at least an interesting one…

"St Patrick's Parade 2014. (13239914155)" by Miguel Mendez from Malahide, Ireland - St Patrick's Parade 2014.. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:St_Patrick%27s_Parade_2014._(13239914155).jpg#mediaviewer/File:St_Patrick%27s_Parade_2014._(13239914155).jpg

“St Patrick’s Parade 2014″ by Miguel Mendez from Malahide, Ireland.

Irish-red-velvet-cake-3

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Irish Red Velvet Cake is as cheery as a wee leprechaun's cheeks and as fiery as his beard. The crimson batter contains a dusting of cocoa and is bound with buttermilk - both characteristics of a traditional Red Velvet Cake, popular in the American South. But a few glugs of O'Hara's Irish Red Ale gives this otherwise ordinary cake Celtic edge. Makes one 6" triple layer cake or one 8" layer cake.O'Hara's Irish Red Velvet Cake
Servings Prep Time
1layer cake 1hour
Cook Time Passive Time
25-35minutes 30minutes
Servings Prep Time
1layer cake 1hour
Cook Time Passive Time
25-35minutes 30minutes
Ingredients
For the Bailey's Buttercream
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Prepare cake pans by greasing and lining with a circle of parchment paper.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and cocoa together and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and add the red food coloring, O'Hara's Irish Red, buttermilk, vanilla extract, and apple cider vinegar.
  4. In large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and then beat in the wet ingredients and the eggs. Beat smooth and pour into prepared cake pans.
  5. Bake 6" cakes for 25-30 minutes, or 8" cakes for 30-35 minutes
For the Bailey's Buttercream
  1. Let the cake cool completely. Meanwhile, beat the softened butter in a stand mixer on high speed until fluffy. Reduce speed and slowly incorporate the powdered sugar. When well-combined increase the speed and beat well for up to 10 minutes adding in enough Bailey's to make the buttercream loose and fluffy. Scrape the bowl as needed.
To assemble:
  1. Assemble the layers by placing a thick layer of buttercream between them as "glue." Use 1/3 remaining buttercream to create a crumb coating, spreading thinly all over the cake. Chill 30 minutes, then spread remaining buttercream over the cake. Enjoy!
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only.

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Samoan Tropical Salad

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Summer can’t come soon enough – the heat of sun on my shoulders, the way my skin smells with sunscreen on, hot evenings under the stars. So today we’re going to Samoa.

There’ll be drippy sweetness: papaya and cantaloupe. There’ll be richness, too – buttery avocado and moody – almost bitter – spinach.

And to finish it all off? A puckering of lime juice – as bright as a Samoan seascape.

"Nu'ulopa island - Samoa" by Neil - originally posted to Flickr as Nu'ulopa. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nu%27ulopa_island_-_Samoa.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Nu%27ulopa_island_-_Samoa.jpg

“Nu’ulopa island – Samoa” by Neil.

 

Typically known for rich, coconut milk-laden recipes, this Samoan salad is a healthier twist on island fare. The version I based mine on even won a Samoan recipe challenge!

Tropical Fruit

I chose this salad for sentimental reasons – something to set the scene a bit for the release of my new book Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and ForgivenessI went to Samoa 2 months before I was born (as a real life stowaway, I suppose). Scientists believe our taste preferences can be affected by what our mother’s ate while we were gestating. I like to think I carry a bit of Samoa with me today.

Samoan Fruit Salad

It was an odd beginning, I suppose – being swept halfway around the world before ever being born.

But it’s all I know.

When you read my story, you’ll understand why it’s walks the line of bitter-sweet.
Just like this salad.

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Samoan Fruit Salad
Servings
6people
Servings
6people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Add the spinach to 2 large platters or one large bowl. Slice the papaya in half, then remove seeds. Cut in strips, removing skin, and layer on salad. Do the same with the avocado and cantaloupe. Dress with a few squeezes of fresh lime juice (and serve with extra lime slices on the side). Enjoy!
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only.

Allegory_on_the_Raid_on_the_Medway_(Cornelis_Bisschop,_1668)

On sending my book out into the world

Allegory_on_the_Raid_on_the_Medway_(Cornelis_Bisschop,_1668)sm

What we think writing a book looks like.

They say writing a book is like having a baby. I’m not so sure.

My memoir,  Life from Scratch is due into the world on March 3rd, 2015. I started writing in 2013 and can assure you that the 2-year gestation period was one of the most challenging periods of my career. I am just now starting to feel the butterflies as early press pours in from Women’s Day, O Magazine, and Food and Wine.

But in the beginning, I could only see the work that had to be done.

Weekends. Nights. Tears. Writing. Rewriting.

Rewriting again.

After I submitted my final manuscript edits to National Geographic, I told my husband “I’m ready to send my memoir out in to the world. Whatever happens now, I’ve already won – I’ve written a book – a BOOK!”

He laughed and nodded. He understood what a gift it was to get through the worry and fuss to produce a finished manuscript, ready for the world.

With a real baby weekends of worry  ramp up over a lengthy 18 years, until the child is grown up and finally off, on their own. With a book the timeline is condensed. Next week, after just two years, my book baby moves out and gets a job.

Whoa.

I can only wish what all parents wish: that you love her and become her friend.

After all, she’s still pretty new in this world. And it was a wild, sometimes dangerous adventure to get her here (see photo below).

In return, she just might inspire a few new adventures in your life.

P.S. If you’re interested in pre-ordering, please check out the special offer National Geographic has put together for you!

Allegory_on_the_Raid_on_the_Medway_(Cornelis_Bisschop,_1668)

What writing a book really looks like – controlled chaos mixed up with magic (and apparently swans).

 

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Peking Walnuts

How to make Peking Walnuts

In the spirit of DIY deliciousness, why not start off the Chinese New Year with something sweet and savory? Peking Walnuts are an impressive affair – the glossy walnuts appear lacquered, but it’s really just a simple sugar coating that’s been dunked in a vat of hot vegetable oil. While the walnuts cook, the sugar caramelizes onto the crust and takes on a reddish hue – just like Peking Duck.

The red color makes Peking Walnuts lucky.

What’s the story with the color red and Chinese New Year?

Legend has it that a Chinese beast called Nian lives under the sea and mountains. He is afraid of the color red. Chinese families use lots of red during the New Year to scare him away.Today, red signifies both luck and joy in Chinese culture.

"Central Dragon" by J Bar. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Central_Dragon.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Central_Dragon.jpg

“Central Dragon” by J Bar.

How to make Peking Walnuts (and impress all your friends):

Grab a bunch of walnuts.

How to make Peking Walnuts

Boil them until their skins fall off.

How to make Peking Walnuts

Dry well.

How to make Peking Walnuts

Toss with sugar and let dry for a couple of hours in a sunny spot (or overnight).

How to make Peking Walnuts

 

Meanwhile, go watch some fireworks!

"Kung Hei Fat Choi! (6834861529)" by Michael Elleray from England, United Kingdom - Kung Hei Fat Choi!Uploaded by russavia. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kung_Hei_Fat_Choi!_(6834861529).jpg#mediaviewer/File:Kung_Hei_Fat_Choi!_(6834861529).jpg

“Kung Hei Fat Choi!” The traditional, and famous, Chinese New Year Firework Display over Victoria Harbor in 2012. Tens of thousands of people lined the shores of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island up to 4-hours early in order to get the best views. By Michael Elleray.

When you return, deep fry the walnuts until caramelized and sticky!

How to make Peking Walnuts

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and let cool completely.

How to make Peking Walnuts

 

Chinese Candy Box

If you want to amp up the cuteness, add Peking Walnuts to a Chinese Candy Box. This red and black box has 6-8 compartments to hold candy, dried fruits, or nuts and seeds. Here’s an example:

"Candy Box" by Denise Chan - Flickr. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Candy_Box.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Candy_Box.jpg

“Candy Box” by Denise Chan.

Note: Peking walnuts are a great gift idea unless, like me, you have a husband that eats them all in one sitting, in which case you may want to make a double batch. Ahem.

Enjoy with luck and …

"Chinese paper cuttings" by ProjectManhattan - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chinese_paper_cuttings.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Chinese_paper_cuttings.jpg

“Chinese paper cuttings with lucky words for the Chinese New Year” by ProjectManhattan.

… love in your heart.

"World City. World Party. (6822307599)" by Michael Elleray from England, United Kingdom - World City. World Party.Uploaded by russavia. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:World_City._World_Party._(6822307599).jpg#mediaviewer/File:World_City._World_Party._(6822307599).jpg

“World City. World Party. Hong Kong 2012″ by Michael Elleray.

Makes 3 cups

Ingredients:

3 cups walnuts
1 cup sugar

2 cups vegetable or peanut oil
sesame seeds

Method:

Add to boiling water and cook about 8 minutes, or until pale and softened (most of the skin will have come  off).

Dry well with towels. Toss completely with sugar on a cookie sheet and let dry in a warm sunny spot for about 2 1/2 hours. The sugar will cling to the seemingly dry walnuts since there will be traces of moisture. You may want to turn once or twice early on to make sure they’re coated well. The walnut and sugar mixture is done drying when the sugar hardens into a crust around the walnuts (it’ll be hard to the touch).

To cook:

Add oil to a wok or small pot and heat to 350F. Add the walnuts in batches and fry until golden brown – 1-2 minutes (I like them best after 1 minute). Use a slotted spoon or similar to remove. Place on a clean baking sheet and spread apart with the spoon. Sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds. Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container for a couple of weeks.

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The glossy walnuts appear lacquered, but it's really just a simple sugar coating that's been dunked in a vat of hot vegetable oil. While the walnuts cook, the sugar caramelizes onto the crust and takes on a reddish hue - just like Peking Duck.Peking Walnuts
Servings
4-6
Servings
4-6
Ingredients
Instructions
To prepare
  1. Add to boiling water and cook about 8 minutes, or until pale and softened (most of the skin will have come off).
  2. Dry well with towels. Toss completely with sugar on a cookie sheet and let dry in a warm sunny spot for about 2 1/2 hours.
To cook
  1. Add oil to a wok or small pot and heat to 350F.
  2. Fry until golden brown - 1-2 minutes
  3. Place on a clean baking sheet, spread apart, and sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds.
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only.

Salad.Nicoise.img_7469

Salad Niçoise

How to make Salad Niçoise.

There’s nothing like a mid-winter picnic, especially if Salad Niçoise is part of the equation.

The other day my daughter asked if we could eat dinner outside. It was sunny, the temperature in the mid-sixties. My answer? Most definitely. We bundled up – each in a cozy sweater – and set up our colorful spread on the scraggly winter landscape.

How to make Salad Niçoise.
How to make Salad Niçoise.

For the Salad Niçoise, I took my inspiration from Julia Child and piled on delicately steamed French beans, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, and everything deliciously funky: Tuna, olives, capers and a few anchovies (for salty chew). A handful of crackers with cheese completed dinner (though a hunk of crusty bread would be nice, too).

How to make Salad Niçoise.

My husband flashed us all back to his “Mr Picky” days as he struggled to down one solitary anchovy. He did the work but remains unconvinced of their merits. My daughter escaped the challenge since she’s a self-proclaimed vegetarian, focusing her efforts instead on the vegetables and cheese (for protein). As for myself, I ate everything.

While we enjoyed our meal, the sun sunk behind our neighbors’ rooftop (taking the warmth with it). Our fingers gradually chilled until we found ourselves laughing, rushing our blanket and plates inside before dusk turned the invigorating air into brittle chill.

We finished our picnic indoors, huddled around the coffee table.

How to make Salad Niçoise.

Even though our winter picnic lasted a mere fifteen minutes, it was just the sort of spontaneous fun needed to break up the winter doldrums.

How to make Salad Niçoise.

Your turn.

I’d like to offer you a chance to make such a feast with your family. Thanks to Genova Tonno, one reader will win a gorgeous Gourmet Gift Basket filled with premium oil-packed Yellowfin Genova tuna, a bottle of pinot noir, tomato and basil cheese, tapenade, pesto, crackers, couscous, and artichoke hearts. The Sur la Table cutting board is aces (it’s made with olive wood) and the cookbook is full of exquisite recipe ideas.

How to make Salad Niçoise.

To Enter:

UPDATE: A winner has been chosen by random selection. Congratulations Wakenda

1.) Place a pre-order for my new memoir LIFE FROM SCRATCH (e-book or hardcover version). You can find it online at Barnes & Noble and Amazon, and will soon be available from your local independent bookstore! If you already pre-ordered my book, you can still enter this contest.

2.) Leave a comment below. 

3.) And you’re entered to win!

4.) The winner will be announced and contacted after February 16th, 2015.
If your name is chosen, you’ll need to email me your proof of purchase (a confirmation email or a photo of a receipt). 

Why pre-order my book?

life from scratchMy new memoir, LIFE FROM SCRATCH, will be here on March 3rd. If you love this blog and plan to read my memoir, please consider taking a few minutes to pre-order the book today. You may not realize this, but the more people who pre-order the book, the better chance the book has at doing well (more pre-orders help books get on the New York Times Bestseller list, for example).

Consider this contest a heart-felt thank you for your continued support.

 

Salad Niçoise

Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the dressing:

2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 shallot, minced (a small one will do nicely)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard (heaping)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspooon pepper

For the salad:

1lb baby potatoes, boiled then halved
1lb green beans, steamed and shocked in cold water
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 head butter lettuce
4 eggs, hard-boiled and sliced in half
oil-cured black olives
1-2 cans tuna
capers

Method:

For the dressing:

I like to make the salad dressing first so the shallots and garlic have time to infuse the vinegar mixture.I just add all ingredients to a small jelly jar and shake, shake, shake.

How to make Salad Niçoise.

For the eggs:

I place mine in a small pot, cover with cold water and turn the heat on high. 13 minutes later they come out perfectly. Here’s my nifty trick for perfectly sliced hard-boiled eggs.

For the potatoes and green beans:

Depending on the size of the baby potatoes, they can be cooked with the green beans (just remove the green beans with tongs if the potatoes aren’t done when the green beans are). I find both took 9-10 minutes at a boil. Shock the green beans in cold water to stop them from turning muddy.

How to make Salad Niçoise. How to make Salad Niçoise.

Once the potatoes are cooked, slice in half and toss with a few tablespoons of dressing (while still warm). In a separate bowl, do the same with the cold green beans and tomatoes.

(Adding vinaigrette to each ingredient makes for a perfectly seasoned composed salad. If you’re just going to toss everything together simply wait until serving time to add the dressing).

To assemble the salad:

Layer some lettuce on a large platter. Mound the potatoes in the center.

How to make Salad Niçoise.

Arrange the green beans in 6 bundles around the outside. Add the tomatoes and eggs in a decorative fashion.

 How to make Salad Niçoise. How to make Salad Niçoise.

Finish with a mound of tuna in the center, along with olives, capers, and some anchovies.

How to make Salad Niçoise.

Serve with extra dressing on the side.

Bon Appétit!

How to make Salad Niçoise.

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Delicately steamed French beans, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, and everything deliciously funky: Tuna, olives, capers and a few anchovies (for salty chew). A handful of crackers with cheese complete dinner.Salad Niçoise
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Dressing
Salad
Instructions
Dressing
  1. Add all ingredients to a lidded jar and shake.
Salad
  1. Layer some lettuce on a large platter. Mound the potatoes in the center.
  2. Arrange the green beans in 6 bundles around the outside. Add the tomatoes and eggs in a decorative fashion.
  3. Finish with a mound of tuna in the center, along with olives, capers, and some anchovies.
  4. Serve with extra dressing on the side.
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only.

kir.imperial.img_7331

Kir Impérial

Kir Royale

In honor of Valentine’s Day – and being one month away from the release of my new memoir (Eeee!!) – I went to the “way back” machine and dug up what I consider to be the most romantic of all French drinks: a Kir Impérial. There are only two things you need to know about Kir Impérial.

#1 It bubbles.

#2. It tastes like love.

Kir Royale

But… since I’m a front row kind of gal…

The Story Behind Kir

Once upon a time the Kir was actually called “vin blanc cassis” – which just means “white wine currants.” According to Larousse Gastronomique, this was a specialty drink from Burgundy, France. It mixed two of the region’s best drinks: an Aligoté wine (dry white wine) and cassis (black currant liqueur).

After World War II everything changed. A priest, who helped 5,000 people escape a prisoners of war camp, was knighted and elected as the mayor of Dijon. He always served vin blanc de cassis during official meetings and celebrations, in part because there was a red wine shortage.

His name was – you guessed it – Felix Kir.

The drink became named after him because… well… by all accounts he was awesome.

Felix Kir. Photo by Dijobb Beaune www.dijonbeaunemag.fr

Felix Kir. Photo from Dijon Beaune.

Variations

Kir:  dry white wine with cassis (black currant liqueur)
Kir Communard or Rince Cochon:  red wine and cassis
Kir Royale:  champagne or dry sparking white wine and cassis
Kir Impérial:  champagne or dry sparkling white wine and raspberry liqueur (such as Chambord)

Today there are still other variations – like subbing the cassis for peach liqueur.

You can add as much of the sweet stuff as you’d like. I find a slight blushing of cassis or Chambord to be just right.

Chambord Liqueur

I enjoyed my Kir Impérial once at home, once at writer’s group, and once again while promoting my memoir in Chicago (at the ALA Mid Winter Conference). In Chicago, the Kir Impérial was the signature drink of the first author event I attended (I was honored with several prominent authors). Here are a few pictures from the weekend!

Here I am with National Geographic’s Marketing guru, as well as at a private author reception honoring me, Paolo Bacigalupi, Irvine Welsh, and one other. What a group to be included in!!

If you weren’t aware, Irvine Welsh wrote Trainspotting and a gazillion other books (he’s the tallest gentleman above), and Paolo Bacigalupi writes award-winning SciFi for adults and young adults (he’s wearing glasses).

There are more photos on my Instagram including one with me and Jason Segel and LeVar Burton.

Needless to say, I spent most of the weekend starry-eyed – what a gift to be included in the company of such great human beings and authors – especially as a first-time author.

Kir Impérial

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 750 ml bottle champagne (chilled)
1 small bottle Chambord
6- 12 raspberries (optional)

Method:

Pour a bit of Chambord at the bottom of each champagne flute – up to 10ml per person.

Next, add on the bubbly!

Enjoy with love in your heart!

Cheers – or, as they say in France… “Santé”!

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Once upon a time the Kir was actually called "vin blanc cassis" - which just means "white wine currants." According to Larousse Gastronomique, this was a specialty drink from Burgundy, France.Kir Impérial
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Pour a bit of Chambord at the bottom of each champagne flute - up to 10ml per person.
  2. Add the bubbly and enjoy.
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only.

avas.lunch.img_7143x

Going “Down Under” with an Easy Kid’s Lunch

avas.lunch.img_7143x

Throwing together a Down Under lunch requires just a few fun ingredients. My kindergartner loves a good cheese sandwich (don’t we all!?) so this week I smeared her sandwich bread with sticky, salty yeast extract like they do in Australia and New Zealand (I couldn’t find Aussie’s preferred version, Vegemite, so I used Marmite, the version preferred in Britain and New Zealand). Let the record state: ooey gooey cheese paninis with yeast extract are also grand!

The salty smack goes a long, long way; don’t overdo it!

Ava considers Marmite

Next, leftovers came to the rescue.

On the side are leftover sweet potatoes drizzled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. In New Zealand and parts of Australia they call sweet potatoes “kumara.”

The shining star of the meal came from the fruit basket: one shiny Granny Smith apple. These green beauties were first cultivated in Australia in 1868. What an easy, authentic addition to the lunch box.

The container came back empty, so I’d say her lunch “down under” was a success!

Tips & Tricks:

  • Ava’s lunch is vegetarian but others might enjoy tossing the sweet potatoes with bacon and green onion, as with this grilled kumara salad.
  • I found marmite at the local grocery store near the… soup. I’m not really sure what that’s about.
  • Yeast extract is hard to spread – toast the bread to make it easier.

Ava's Around the World LunchesAbout around the World Lunches

Around the World Lunches began when I shared a few of Ava’s globally-inspired lunches on Instagram and Facebook. Turns out a lot of people are looking for lunch ideas – whether for school or work.

In this regular column, I share one of our Around the World lunches with you. I give you tips, like where to find ingredients or possible substitutions. If you have ideas for lunches you’d like to see or challenges you need help dealing with, let me know in the comments!

Eritrean.Spiced.Bread_.Hembesha.img_7251

Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

How to make Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

This year Ava and I brought a loaf of Eritrean Hembesha bread to the annual Martin Luther King parade. It’s a random sort of thing to bring to a parade, but I’d just pulled batch #3 out of the oven and couldn’t stand the thought of the bread cooling down without being able to enjoy a still-steaming, soft wedge.

There are few things better than a steaming-hot piece of homemade bread. 

Hembesha is no exception: the east African bread is soft and earthy with whispers of garlic, coriander, cardamom, and fenugreek. The distinct flavor profile is great with hearty stews or even on the side of scrambled eggs (perfect for a savory brunch). That being said, hembesha is traditionally served in the afternoon with tea and a drizzle of honey and/or tesmi (tesemi is spiced ghee made with ginger, garlic, onions, and berbere)

While original recipes decorate the flat loaves with nails, I’ve used a ravioli wheel (the idea came from the blog Yesterdish). I learned the hard way – don’t just score the dough – cut through 99-100% of the way. By the time the dough rises up and bakes it will seal back together with just a slight perforation (making this bread an easy one to tear apart). If you just lightly score the dough, the marks will disappear completely.

How to make Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha Recipe

Once baked, Hembesha is fragrant – though not overpowering (mound the spices in the measuring spoons for stronger flavor).  The egg and whole wheat flour add rich wholesome flavor.

I enjoyed a few pieces of the soft crumb from my lawn chair while the Martin Luther King parade marched by. Martin Luther King Day never ceases to choke me up. As always, I left with renewed hope that – one day – all peoples might be treated equally…wherever they’re from, whatever their appearance. Food is certainly a great unifier – and why I’ve kept at this blog for as long as I have. Bringing the best foods from around the world to my table – and sharing them with you – helps us feel closer to our global neighbors and brings us closer to a more peaceful, loving world.

Today, in the spirit of Martin Luther King’s message of inclusion, we’re celebrating Eritrea – one small step in celebrating the entire world

How to make Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

NOTE: Want something sweet from Eritrea instead? This hembesha recipe with cumin and raisins.

Makes one 12″ hembesha

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp instant dry yeast
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp salt
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup warm water (start with a little less)
1 large egg

additional vegetable oil, for cooking

Method:

Let’s go to beautiful Eritrea…

"Village Houses in Eritrea" by David Stanley from Nanaimo, Canada.

“Village Houses in Eritrea” by David Stanley from Nanaimo, Canada.

First, knead all ingredients together until smooth except for the last bit of vegetable oil for cooking.

Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 45 minutes- 1 hour or until doubled in size.

(Instant dry yeast works very quickly – but if you only have regular yeast this will take about 1 1/2 hours)

How to make Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

Roll out thinly to fill an oiled, 12-inch oven-safe pan or skillet – about 1/3″ thick. I used a paella pan.

How to make Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

Immediately cut with a ravioli wheel – first cut in wedges like a pizza, then cut series of lines. If the dough pulls with the cutter, try cutting towards the center.

How to cut and decorate Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

Be sure to cut 99-100% of the way through – this is the only way your cuts won’t “disappear” once baked.

How to make Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

Let rise 30-45 minutes – until puffed and doubled in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F.

After this second rise, the dough will look like this:

How to make Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

Brush with oil and and bake 15-20 minutes.

NOTE: Eritreans also like to cook their Hembesha on the stovetop. Try over medium-low (flipping once after 10 minutes)- this works better with a heavy bottom pan as it cooks more evenly.

How to make Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

Either way, brush with oil again and serve a sunny sort of afternoon…

"Making Berbere" by David Stanley from Nanaimo, Canada

“Making Berbere” by David Stanley from Nanaimo, Canada

… with a nice, hot cuppa tea and some honey or ghee mixed with berbere.

xxoo

 

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The east African bread is soft and earthy with whispers of garlic, coriander, cardamom, and fenugreek. The distinct flavor profile is great with hearty stews or even on the side of scrambled eggs (perfect for a savory brunch).Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha
Servings
6-8
Servings
6-8
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Knead all ingredients together until smooth
  2. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 45 minutes- 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  3. Roll out thinly to fill an oiled, 12-inch oven-safe pan or skillet - about 1/3" thick.
  4. Immediately cut with a ravioli wheel.
  5. Let rise 30-45 minutes - until puffed and doubled in size.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  7. Brush with oil and and bake 15-20 minutes.
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only.

south.africa.food.recipe.img_9632x

5 Easy ways to use up your spices

thailand.food.recipe.img_0918

Cleaning out the spice drawer: you either love or hate the job. For every person that has a collection of barely-used spices from their wedding 20 years ago, there are folks who try to rotate through their spices yearly. But sometimes we get stuck on how to use up that last tablespoon of a spice without trudging through an obscure recipe (a recipe that probably barely uses a pinch of the herb or spice anyway). 

The good news is that we don’t need recipes – there are a handful of quick solutions to make using up your spices simple and painless:

1. Seasoned Butter

This is by far the easiest method to use up spices – soften a stick or two of butter on the counter, then mix in 1-2 tablespoons of salt-free herbs or spices. Try making a sweet blend with cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg (honey is great in here, too). Or try a savory version with oregano, basil, and garlic (really any green herbs will work together!). Or go spicy with hot paprika, berbere or ground harissa. It’s all good on hot bread.

Use up at a dinner party, give away as gifts, or wrap and freeze until needed.

uganda.food.recipe.img_0823

2. Homemade Bread

Take your favorite bread recipe – an old standby – and toss in some herbs and spices to give it new life. A batch of bread dough that takes 4 cups of flour will easily take 2 Tbsp of mixed herbs or spices (as long as they are salt-free). Try equal parts cardamom, coriander and fenugreek for an east African flavor. Personally, I love a couple teaspoons of cracked, dried rosemary sprigs mixed with thyme, marjoram, or any other green herbs that need purging.

Naan in Tajikistan, photograph by Steve Evans.

Naan in Tajikistan, photograph by Steve Evans.

3. Bean Soups

Bean soups can take a lot of added flavor. Have fun adding a dash of this or that – by the time you’re done, you’ll likely wish you’d written your recipe down. For every quart of soup, add about 1 tablespoon of mixed herbs and spices. Turmeric makes any soup golden and has great health benefits. I really like adding smoked paprika for depth of flavor and 1 or 2 bay leaves are guaranteed to be good.

slovenia.food.recipe.img_0582

4. Rice

Are you tired of plain-Jane white rice? Dump in some of your neglected herbs and spices! For every cup of white rice I make, I often add a good 2 teaspoons of seasoning – sometimes mild ones like tarragon or thyme, other times I’ll throw in a cinnamon stick with turmeric, coriander, ginger, and garlic. Just about anything works great – even mustard seeds or a couple of star anise. Use it up!

south.africa.food.recipe.img_9632x

5. Salad Dressing

Mix together 1/4 cup vineger with 1/2 cup olive oil and a little water – and whisk in green herbs – about one tablespoon makes a really flavorful dressing. Don’t forget freshly cracked peppercorns for some bite!

Bonus:

When in doubt? Sprinkle your favorite spices on homemade popcorn for a surprisingly delicious kick!

Also: our site is currently being redesigned for a simpler, cleaner look. The programmers will be adding a new feature where you’ll be able to search by ingredient – including spices or herbs – so you’ll soon have unlimited ideas with little more than the click of a mouse!! It’s going to be so fun.