Recipe: DIY Spring Rolls | Bò nhúng dấm

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  Today, let me show you how Vietnamese food is like a dream. Delicate. Lingering. But, also, let me show you how their food is like a celebration. Bold. Unapologetic. Before I do, call your friends and family because today's recipe is a Vietnamese food party. The star? The DIY Spring Roll. Here's how it works: Every guest gets to pick and choose their fillings, from cucumber and sprouts, to vibrant mint, thai basil, and cilantro. The best part? Everyone gets to … [Read more...]

Recipe: Fresh Corncakes with Cheese | Cachapas

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"There's nothing hidden between heaven and earth." Venezuelan Proverb Nothing hidden indeed... except, perhaps the cheese inside a steaming, hot Cachapas. Brittle autumn days require an extra slathering of comfort. Ooey gooey cheese-filled corncakes, a.k.a. cachapas fit the bill nicely. Think of them as the South American version of pancakes. The cakes are made with just two ingredients: corn and masa harina, plus the requisite sprinkling of salt and pepper. There's a simplicity to … [Read more...]

Recipe: Cousin Alfred’s Meat Sauce

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When I ask my mother how I'm related to Cousin Alfred, the answer usually goes: "Well..." and then there's a  contemplative silence. I can see her running through all our different relations, high up on the family tree, doing mental gymnastics to connect one branch to another. Eventually, she comes out with "I think he's my mothers, mother's cousin's"... and then, either she trails off, or my attention span wanes because, really, all that matters is that he is family, one way or … [Read more...]

Recipe: The Pope’s Fettuccine | Fettuccine alla papalina

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Before I knew about Papalina-style noodles, I thought Carbonara was the bees knees. But it turns out that Papalina is the richer version of carbonara. It uses cream, Parmesan, and prosciutto instead of the pancetta or guanciale (pig jowl) from in carbonara. One peppery bite in, and mac and cheese is a bland, happily forgotten memory. Let me be clear. My translation of the Italian is not entirely accurate. Papalina means skullcap, not pope. But I dubbed this recipe the Pope's … [Read more...]

Recipe: Green Papaya Salad

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  What do you do when you're running low on inspiration? Do you sip a cup of tea, take a walk, paint, write a poem, cook something? Or do you freeze up, unable to create? Writing a book for the last several months has had an interesting effect on my brain-space. The book is incredibly daunting and takes all my creative juices. I find myself sopping through my house like a wrung out rag. I once read that we are only capable of making a certain number of decisions each day. After … [Read more...]

Recipe: Martin Fierro

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Recipes usually evolve over a long period of time, but today we explore a recipe that one man changed forever. In the late 19th century, José Hernández wrote stories about gauchos, freedom, and love from his home, in Argentina. Gauchos are like the equivalent of the American cowboy: men who's spirits are forever roaming. His most famous character was Martin Fierro (so famous, in fact, that when the author, Hernández, died, the people announced that Martin Fierro had died, … [Read more...]

Recipe: Uruguayan Hot Dog | Pancho

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Yes, that's corn on a hot dog. Listen, friends: if  you're going to have a hot dog, you might as well have a Uruguayan one. Sure, it might just cost a buck or two, but... They're amazing. Dramatic. Game changers. If this seems like a lot of responsibility for a hot dog, that's because it is. The pancho's success is not so much about the meat, though it's true:  the "dog" is usually bigger and better than your average hot dog (it sticks out a good inch or two on either side of the … [Read more...]

Recipe: All-American Apple Pie

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Mom made apple pie all the time when I was little. It was my brother Damien's choice for "birthday cake" several years in a row. He was born in October: it just made sense. Mom taught us how to cut the butter into the flour, to make a flaky pie crust, and she taught us how to add cinnamon and nutmeg to flavor it. (In her honor, I've labeled my cinnamon jar "sin," just as she did then) Then I moved to Oklahoma, as far from New England's familiar orchards as I could get. Every year … [Read more...]