Recipe: Romanian Stuffed Cabbage Leaves (Sarmale)

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Cabbage patch kids always seemed creepy to me when I was little. What kind of baby grows out of a cabbage? Could you still eat the cabbage once you harvested the baby? This doll raised lots of questions. Not to say this stopped me from wanting a cabbage patch doll more than Rainbow Brite leggings, because I did. The urge was major. Now that I am a couple (few) decades older, I know exactly what was going on - mostly because it's starting to happen with Ava. I wanted those dolls because all … [Read more...]

Recipe: Stuffed Grape Leaves | Warak Enab

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Time and time again I've failed to entice Ava with stuffed grape leaves. I tried back when we cooked Armenia, when the grape leaves were laced with an intoxicating blend of cinnamon, allspice and currants and she was an innocent, unquestioning 8-month old. Let's just say she wasn't ready - neither for the somewhat chewy outer "skin," nor the mystery of what was inside. Little kids like to know what mom is feeding them. Not one to give up easily, I spent the last 3 years casually pushing them … [Read more...]

Recipe: Arroz con Pollo

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Pneumonia make cause my heart to race, my nerves to slacken, and my breathing to rasp, but it will never stop me from making my sweetheart his birthday dinner. To celebrate in style, I cobbled together the most unexpectedly glorious arroz con pollo. Unexpected, because I honestly wondered how great could chicken and rice be? Fantastic, turns out. Put your trust in centuries of Latin American and Spanish history; the next time you have a big dinner party, make arroz con pollo. Under a … [Read more...]

Recipe: Garlic Basmati Rice with Pine Nuts

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I'd like the record to state that I'm ready for a big hug. It's the end of summer, times are changing, and I'm ready for that love-filled feeling that comes with a smooshable hug. I see people doing it all the time - their bodies smiling as they pull to each other. My husband still hugs me, which is the best kind of snuggle-hug I can ask for. But I want more. I want the kind of hug that can't come from him. Or any person. It's the kind of hug that comes from taking a giant bite of … [Read more...]

Recipe: Coconut Sticky Rice in banana leaves (lemang)

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Today we're going to make a tower... a tower of glorious height. And this tall, sturdy tower is going to be made out of rice. Our inspiration? The Petronas towers of Malaysia. Aren't they stunning? I adore the fact that the skyscrapers are connected by a tiny walkway that seems to be a million, zillion miles up in the sky. But that's a story for another day. The fact is, I am simply thrilled to make rice towers from Malaysia. You see, I'm falling more and more in love with glutinous … [Read more...]

Recipe: “Burnt” Rice Tea (Ranovola) w/ poll

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I can't believe I'm going to do this, but here we are: I'm going to show you how to burn rice. It's for a perfectly good cause: a cool, refreshing glass of ranovola, or burnt rice tea. This toasty-tasting drink is popular in Madagascar, where the bottom of the rice pot is reserved to flavor the local river water. It's super easy to do, as long as you don't burn the rice too fast. You have to do it just right. Ahem. Start with a cup of cooked rice spread on the bottom of a … [Read more...]

Recipe: Rice Pudding (Sutlijash)

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Looking back, I'm not sure how I resisted for so long. Honestly. We're more that halfway done eating the world and, yet, I haven't made regular ol', plain Jane, rice pudding (something altogether different than the exotic sticky rice coconut pudding I made for Laos). I find this fact is so surprising because, whenever I crack open my cookbooks to research the food of another country, I run into rice pudding. Rice pudding iseverywhere, on every continent, in all forms. Since globalization … [Read more...]

Recipe: Smoked Ham & Green Bean Jollof

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I'm that girl who orders the same thing over and over again at restaurants. I know - not what you'd expect from someone cooking the world. But I can't help it. I like knowing what to expect. Plus, there's nothing worse than wasting hard-earned money on a dish that I could possibly end up hating. After all, it's not like I can send the food back just because I don't like it. Now, to be fair, I'm a completely different person at home. Without the burden of outrageous restaurant bills, I'm a … [Read more...]