All posts filed under: Europe

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 …

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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 …

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Monday Meal Review: Slovenia

“What you build easily will fall quickly” – Slovenian Proverb I rarely take the time to bake any more. Life keeps getting in the way. Meetings, obligations – the stuff of adulthood. This week, thanks to Slovenia, I had the opportunity to use my hands to shape, braid, and decorate an ornate loaf of Slovenian Heart Bread. As I worked, I was surprised to find myself overcome with relief. Working flour, water, egg, sugar, and butter together into a smooth ball felt like an old friend, come home again. When I try to pinpoint this comfort, I come to the conclusion that baking feels exactly like a vacation. But from what?  What could baking do to “take me away” … and, perhaps more importantly, what was it pushing me towards? For starters, baking takes me away from the perpetual click-click-click of the keyboard and mouse. So often I find myself lost on Facebook and Pinterest happenings, or who is doing what in some other life that seems oh so much more interesting than my own. But …

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Bean n’ Barley Soup | Ričet

Slovenia is known for her soups – each bite captures the taste of the earth and sky, rolling hills and grand mountains. They are the answer to frosted windows, the worst sort of bone-chill, and that scratchy feeling in the back of the throat. Slovenian soup is the sunshine to your snowy day. Today, in particular, we explore Ričet, one of the more beloved soups found throughout Slovenia. She’s made with barley, a soft, earthy grain that reminds me faintly of pasta, but chewier and more wholesome. When paired with beans, carrots, potatoes, onion, and garlic, an entire meal is made. A slice of rye bread on the side would be grand. While Ričet could certainly be made vegan, traditional Slovenian soups would include sausage or, as I have done, bacon. This adds another layer of complexity, making it all the more likely that I’ll be reaching for a bowl of Ričet when the winter snows float down. Makes 3+ quarts Ingredients: 1 1/4 cup barley 1 1/4 cup dried pinto beans water 4 large carrots, chopped 2 …

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Braided Heart Bread | Pleteno Srce

We are closing in on spring …  that special time of year, when weddings and baby showers sprinkle our calendars, and everything is awash in the promise of new love. In Slovenia, such times are marked with Pleteno Scre – an ornamental, braided, tender loaf of bread, shaped into a heart. Pleteno Scre is an honored gift. The slightly sweet loaves are painstakingly decorated with edible tokens, like wedding rings and flowers (as I have done), or even astonishingly detailed birds, or paper thin leaves that seem to crackle under the slightest breeze. This art form takes time to master, so I stuck with simple flowers, a wreath, and rings. The best part is that this is something you can do as a family. Little ones love to have a piece of dough to play with. Mashing and rolling, twisting and turning – it’s what they do best. Ava didn’t even want to make any shapes for the heart – she just wanted to play next to me, while I worked. It was sweet. And …

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Menu: Slovenia

“Pray for a good harvest, but keep on hoeing.” – Slovenian Proverb This old Slovenian proverb teaches a clear lesson: it is the work we put into life that ultimately leads to the “good harvest.” We must roll up our sleeves and put in the hard hours and back breaking labor. There’s simply no escaping it. Case in point: Slovenia is known for her comforting food, seemingly plucked straight from the countryside, but much goes into the effort, whether it be the extra fancy, ornate Pleteno Srce bread, or the slowly simmered soup. There’s love, finesse, and more than a bit of decor in each. Even with spring right on the edge of the horizon, we can’t be sure when the warm times will come. So… let’s stay cozy with Slovenia until winter finally breaks for the year. And let’s keep on hoeing. *All recipes and meal review will be available throughout the week. Bean n’ Barley Soup | Ričet [Recipe] If you’re wondering how Slovenians spend a cold winter’s afternoon, Ričet is the answer. Imagine a …

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Ptuj, Slovenia. Photo by Marcin Gierszner.

About the food of Slovenia

This week we explore a land of sharp mountains and sunlit grasses, where sheep meander and grapevines hang heavy with fruit. This is Slovenia, a natural wonderland, a place where the simple way of life is preferred. Nowhere is this clearer, than in the food. There are salads of bitter dandelion greens (harvested from right outside the back door) tossed with potato and hard-boiled egg, and bowls of sliced cucumbers in sour cream.  There are turnip strudels (!) and cranberry stuffed omelets (!!). The ingredients are common, but the combination is anything but… Like most of the region, potato dumplings are considered a mighty good thing. It’s that age old search for comfort… an itch that can also be scratched with homemade rye bread accompanied by barley bean soup  [Recipe], carrot turnip soup, buckwheat balls, or plated sausages. Speaking of bread, Slovenia also has an incredible assortment of baked goods, from the glorious rye breads (which we tried with Belarus)  to intricately braided wedding breads [Recipe], Easter rolls, fig or olive bread, nut or fig potica (or even …

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