All posts filed under: Europe

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About the food of Switzerland

The thing I remember most about Switzerland was skiing in the Alps. I remember, because I came ridiculously close to dying. I was a novice, skiing on a slope at least one level beyond my own . It was late afternoon and the snow that had melted slightly in the warm noonday sun had now begun to refreeze and harden. Suddenly, my skis caught in the ice and I could no longer get them to behave. Instead of turning with the rest of the skiers, I continued straight, towards a beautiful overlook. Beyond was the blue sky and a several hundred foot drop. The rounded edge of the overlook, which was only protected by a billowing piece of orange plastic netting, sped closer and closer. My skies continued to reject my inputs. I had a choice to face: throw myself down or go down. All the way down. So I threw myself backwards. The force of my descent caused my giant red and pink ski coat to fly up. The ice scraped along my back, leaving cuts and …

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Monday Meal Review: Sweden

“Det är skönare lyss till den sträng som brast än att aldrig spänna en båge.” “It is fairer to listen to the string that broke than to never strain a bow.” Verner von Heidenstam (Swedish Poet & Novelist) I slumped into my chair, put my head on my arms, and groaned. I’d spent hours making the Swedish princess cake, only to find out that the marzipan was too thin. Not only could I see the cake through the spring green coating, the marzipan began to crack as I struggled to stretch it over the cake. Whipped cream oozed thickly out of the seams and ripples. Back to the store it was, to find more marzipan, color it, and cover the cake anew. I also made the custard three times. And the cake batter three times. I huffed. I puffed. I had  a storm cloud over my head. If this cake was a constant struggle, it was mostly because I wanted the recipe to work. I wanted it to be easy for you to follow in …

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Swedish Meatballs

I never thought I’d say it but here goes: “I’ve spent the large majority of my adulthood pining over meatballs.” Not just any meatballs, but Swedish meatballs. We used to eat them for lunch at my small high school in Luxembourg. On those days, I made sure to bring enough money to buy two portions. The bellyache was worth it. When made perfectly, Swedish Meatballs are tender, but do not fall apart, thanks to the perfect balance of breadcrumbs and cream. After a brisk sizzle and shake in butter, they brown up and fill the kitchen with the delicious scent of fried onions (thanks to the grated onion that’s been worked into the  mix). Sneak a meatball from the pan, and you’ll discover the glory, complex flavor, thanks in great part to a blend of good quality meats (usually beef, pork, and veal, although many just use beef and pork). Somewhere in the background, there’s a ghost of something else. You might never figure it out, unless you were the one who made them: nutmeg. …

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Swedish Princess Cake | Prinsesstårta

They say this spring green dome from the 1930’s made with layers of sponge cake, raspberry jam, custard, and whipped cream is DIFFICULT. Everyone says so, in fact, except for the Swedes. Curious, right? I finally figured out why: Swedish folk have great recipes and three quarters of a century’s worth of tips and tricks up their sleeves. Like, ahem, pre-rolled marzipan and boxed custard. I even saw one Swedish video which used prepacked cake, already sliced in thirds. “We all start out as children.” This Swedish Proverb hints at what I learned, first hand, when making this cake: we must crawl before we can walk, we must be children before we are grown. Experience comes one step at a time. Considering I made each part of this cake 3 times, and messed it up terribly along the way… I thought you might benefit from my errors. So, do forgive me, but before we get into the recipe, I must tell you about the top five mistakes I made when making this cake, so you don’t do …

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Menu: Sweden

“Att våga är att tappa fotfästet en stund, att inte våga är att förlora sig själv.” “To dare is to lose your foothold for a moment, to not dare is to lose yourself.” (Strom, 1981)* Oh, this week. This beautiful week of Swedish cooking. As with all the “big hitter” countries, I entered this week with trepidation. It wasn’t because of the entree. I knew I’d make Swedish meatballs from the moment I began this Adventure. No, the main reason I was a bundle of nerves had everything to do with a cake. A cake! I really wanted to make a Swedish Princess Cake, but I feared I’d screw it up. I asked you all on our Facebook Page, and so many of you voted that you wanted to see the real deal.  Thank you for motivating me to go for it… for encouraging me to dare. The recipes and meal review will be posted throughout the week. Swedish Meatballs [Recipe] Beautiful, tiny meatballs made with pork and beef, seasoned with a grated onion, cream, and …

Delsbo, Photo by Calle Rosenqvist.

About the Food of Sweden

While I haven’t been to Sweden, I have dated a Swede. And that just might be everything, ever. At least, when it comes to Swedish food. The one thing about dating a genuine Swede, is that you might begin to think you’re in Sweden for the duration of the relationship; their national pride and is that strong. Especially if he still lives with his mother.   And why not? This is a stunning land, full of thick, verdant forests, airy, breathtaking mountains, and the crunch of snow. With a land this grand, no wonder the appetite is whetted. At the time Daniel and I were dating, back when we were impossibly young (18, if I remember correctly), he was, in fact living at home. One of my first dinners at his house involved steak tartar, with a raw egg cracked over the top. Pungent horseradish gratings were piled on the side. I’m not sure I impressed anyone with my squeamish hesitation, which resulted in my complete avoidance of the tartar. Breakfast, if I happened to …

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Monday Meal Review: Spain

The more I need to laugh, the more I hole myself up in solitude. Does that make me an introvert? This week I holed up… major. I watched my paella turn canary yellow while my husband and daughter played in the yard. The trees were budding. The birds were singing. But I stood in my windowless kitchen. I stared into the paella as it plumped up. I wondered if I could drink in the steam coming off the rice, and whether or not it would conjure up the most honest sort of happiness. Can food do that? Because, if it can, I want to eat it. Surely Spanish food can. The truth is, I was so scared I’d mess up the paella, when my neighbors said they were too busy to join us, I decided not to invite anyone else over to try our Spanish Global Table. It just seemed easier to live a bit in the shadows. You see, I’ve been working on my book to be published by National Geographic in 2014… writing …

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Churros with Cinnamon Sugar

Much to my husband’s dismay, I am not well acquainted with deep-fried desserts. There is one exception: the apple cider doughnuts mom made when I was little.  She’d set up a giant pot of bubbling oil and we’d cut and drop discs of cider dough into the shimmering oil, waiting with glee until tiny donuts bobbed up to the surface, golden brown and irresistible. Then we rolled the puffy rounds in cinnamon sugar. But then… this week… Spain introduced me to Churros… and the words “deep fried” and “cinnamon sugar” popped back into my life… delighting me, Keith, and Ava in equal measure. Churros can be found in Portugal, Spain, Mexico, and even right here in the United States… yet I’d never had them until this week (is that a crime?). The fun bit? Churros can be straight, knotted, twisty, or curly. Or, as with mine, they can take on a life of their own. (Doesn’t wiggly, wobby, imperfect fried dough taste the best?) These strips of eggy dough are piped through a star tip into hot oil …

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Sangria

About five years ago Sangria was my go-to drink. A sweet, chilled glass served as my weekend wind-down and my mid-week pick-me-up. I sipped the ruby red goodness with friends… and it brought us joy, whether we were laughing or crying. Sangria became such a standby, I even served it at our engagement party in 2007. P.S. Look how glamorous (and eerie) our engagement photo was (Thanks to my amazing friend Rebekah Shannon!) … this feels like a lifetime ago… and I suppose it is, because it’s pre-Ava’s lifetime. But, back to the Sangria. Despite my initial flush of excitement with this Spanish drink, I eventually fell out of love with Sangria; the flavor grew to seem one-dimensional and way too sweet. I suppose the drink felt rather like dating a pretty boy. The fling was nice for a while, but without mutual interests – something deeper – the romance fizzled all too quickly. Then I made a batch of Sangria from scratch. That changed everything. Let’s just say I fell back in love. I made one major change: …

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Paella

Making Paella is quite the trick. Making authentic paella is even harder. My mission this week was to make a simple, yet flavorful paella for our Spanish Global Table. Something easy enough for a Monday, but special enough for a Friday. One that would be rather… well… business in front, party in the back. Or maybe not. Friends, I did my research. In fact, I spent a lot of time reading mediocre online reviews of what should have been amazing paella recipes. These recipes were crafted by chefs and superstars yet, without fail, half of the commenters complained of the paellas being bland, while the other half loved the bold flavors. I was mystified, until I happened upon this comment: “If you’re going to use saffron, then use it.” The recipe had, like so many, called for a “pinch” of saffron. After speaking with friends, we agreed that a “pinch” of saffron might lead someone to add three meager strands of saffron.. whereas another might grab a hefty pinch more equitable to a teaspoon (think of Emeril Lagasse’s “BAM” style). …

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Menu: Spain

This is such an exciting week at the Global Table. We’re finally cooking Spain. Let me tell you what… she’s sweet, crunchy, saffron-loaded, and blooming with smoked paprika. And she’s also… well… a little off. You see, I made a teeny weeny mistake on this menu (see Very Important Note #2, below). With humble apologies, I’d like to share this Spanish proverb and hope that we can be… One who draws water from stones. Saca agua de las pierdras.* i.e. Let’s be resourceful and make use out of everything that happens to us, good or bad. i.e. With the right attitude, there are no mistakes in life. Very Important Note #1: Thanks to all of you all who voted on our Facebook Page. You helped determine this fun, relatively simple menu with Paella. Yay! I couldn’t do it without you. Cheers! Very Important Note #2: I got the memo too late on the “Spaniards don’t put chorizo in their Paella.”  Yikes. For more authenticity, feel free to leave it out… this will give you a simple, coastal …

La Barona avui forma parrt de l'hotel Don Jaime by PCB75

About the food of Spain

Here we are. Spain. No pressure. (bonkers pressure!) When I started this lil’ ol’ Global Table Adventure, I honestly wasn’t sure we’d make it this far. That was more than three years ago. I had a six month-old cooing in my arms. And cooking 162 countries (let alone 195 – now 196 with the addition of South Sudan) seemed all but a fairy tale. But I plugged on. One dish per week. And so, here we are. We made it to the 163rd country! Spain. A rocky land, with a giant dry plateau called Meseta, and scrubby plains. Life is quite different from when we started all those years ago. Now, I have a three and a half year old who only rushes into my arms for brief, sweet respite. The rest of the time, she’s in this world, fully and completely. So, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine her in Spain. I can see her loving it as much as I did. I was there in December of 1998. I swam in …