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Vegetable Biryani for my “Rickshaw Girl”

Cooking a pot of Biryani can be deer-in-the-headlights overwhelming – so much so, most people wouldn’t consider getting the spiced rice dish anywhere but a restaurant. But – ah! I recently learned a few tricks that make cooking this party dish less like facing an oncoming semi-truck, and more like conducting a well-orchestrated fireworks show. A lesson in perseverance Real talk: The first time I made biryani I crashed, burned, and vowed to never make it again. Though you can also find the recipe in India and other nearby countries, I first got the idea of tackling biryani while reading Rickshaw Girl with my daughter. This empowering Bangladeshi chapter book features a young artist who wants to help her struggling family. Though the little girl can’t make money with her Alpana drawings, she hatches a plan to drive her sick father’s rickshaw to supplement the family’s income. Though men traditionally earn the money in her community, she perseveres, proving that girls contribute as much as boys. When the girl’s family shares a platter of biryani on International Mother Language Day (February 21 – “to promote the …

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Swedish Cheese Custard

“Winters are long in Sweden,” Alex reminded me. I’d just flipped to the Swedish Cheese Custard in my 100-year old copy of the “Pan Pacific Cookbook” and lifted my eyebrows. My eyebrows lifted further as I scanned the main ingredients – cheese, eggs, and milk. She laughed and nodded. Turns out Cheese Custard is a dairy farmer’s happy place. Perfect after a casual ski through deep snow. But one question remained… Is cheese custard good? Cheese custard is a question mark on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. We don’t typically eat savory chilled custards. But Swede’s know it is a silky, indulgent affair. It’s as if someone took the ingredients to a quiche and mixed them up – there’s fewer eggs, more cheese and much more milk. All that milk? It makes for a delicate spoonful. The most fun? As the custard cools the cheese creates a soft, flaky crust. The golden top looks similar to the crust of France’s often swooned over crème brûlée. My friend recommended using Jalsburg cheese – unless you can find Sweden’s whiskey-cured Prästost. Jalsburg gives the custard a mild, nutty flavor with a little extra …

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Russian Cabbage Pie

This 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. 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. 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 …

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Pork braised in Milk & Fresh Herbs | Maiale al Latte

It’s fun to let a recipe go “wrong” on purpose. Maiale al Latte is one of those dishes: pork braised in milk for hours, until the milk gives way to tender, nutty, herb flavored curds. Some will tell you this “curdled milk” is a mistake. I’m here to tell you what everyone in San Marino and Italy already know – this is homemade cheese ripe for the snacking, an epic byproduct of an already amazingly tender roast, soaked with sage and rosemary, garlic and bay leaves, milk and wine. Outrageous. Once strained out of the sauce, I’ve read accounts of the curds being spread on toast. What a pleasure that would be. But let’s back up a moment. This isn’t about cheese. That’s just the cherry on top. This is really about a braised, tender pork shoulder… fit for any gathering of happy friends. The Sanmarinese and Italians love milk-braised pork. And today, we’re about to see why. Let’s dive in, shall we? Serves 10-12 Ingredients: 1/4 cup olive oil 5 lb boneless pork shoulder, a.k.a. pork butt (no …

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Rum Glazed Coconut Bread Pudding

It’s a fact of life: when the wind howls, children everywhere refuse to wear their coats. They arch their little backs, squeal-whine and assert “I don’t need a coat, mama.” In this situation, we have two choices. We can hunker down and try (struggle) to put their coat on, until one or both of us are crying. Or. (Or is that beautiful word that keeps life bearable and tantrums at a minimum.) Or… we can stand outside with them, coatless in the wind, just for a moment. We can feel that autumn chill tickle our souls, laugh at how the air nips our noses, and then – only then – rush inside to put on that silly coat after all. Or… we can forget about the coat altogether and cozy up to a piping hot bowl of coconut bread pudding, drizzled all over with a giddy amount of buttered brown sugar & rum glaze, then smile with rosy cheeks by the window. It’s a no brainer, really. We chose the last option, while enjoying ourselves immensely …

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Austrian Spaetzle with cheese and caramelized onion | KasNocken

Serves 2-3 This is an Austrian’s answer to Mac and Cheese. Totally wonderful and, as a bonus, vegetarian! One taste and you’ll want to move to Austria. Ingredients: 2 eggs 1/2 cup milk 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp pepper 1 1/2 cups flour 1 Tbsp butter 1 onion, sliced thinly 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese (or more to taste) Method: 1. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Add flour a 1/2 cup at a time. Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Let rest 10-20 minutes. The dough should be like pancake batter – thin with more milk if necessary. 2. Meanwhile, saute onion in butter until golden. Set aside. 2. Preheat oven to 350. Drop nocken through the holes in a sieve (see techniques) into simmering water. Cook until the nocken float. 3. Remove the nocken from the water with a strainer. Place in a buttered casserole or oven-safe pan. 4. Sprinkle with grated cheese and caramelized onion. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve out of pan. Votes: 1 Rating: 5 …

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Green Beans with Speck | Schinkenspeck

Serves 2-4 Speck, technically called Schinkenspeck, is a dry aged prosciutto product. Bacon or ham can be substituted if your grocer does not carry this Austrian favorite. Enjoy Green Beans with Speck with chicken, fish, or pork Ingredients: 1 lb of green beans 2 ounces schinkenspeck, minced Method: 1. Simmer green beans in a large pot of salted water until just cooked. Drain and set aside. 2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add speck and cook until the fat renders (much like bacon). 3. Add green beans and toss with speck. Serve hot.   Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: Rate this recipe! Print Recipe Speck, technically called Schinkenspeck, is a dry aged prosciutto product. Bacon or ham can be substituted if your grocer does not carry this Austrian favorite. Enjoy Green Beans with Speck with chicken, fish, or porkGreen Beans with Speck | Schinkenspeck CourseSides & Salads Lifestyle5-ingredients or less, Potluck Friendly Food TypeCasseroles, Miss Ava’s Favorite Recipes, Vegetables Servings Prep Time 2-4 people 10minutes Cook Time 20minutes Servings Prep Time 2-4 people …

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Australian Damper Bread

Serves 8-10 This dense frontier bread is traditionally cooked in hot campfire embers. Enjoy plain, with jam and butter, or dunked in chicken noodle soup. This recipe can safely be halved. Ingredients: 8 cups flour 1 Tbsp salt 1/4 cup baking powder 1/4 cup sugar 2.5 cups milk, plus more as needed Method: 1. Preheat oven to 425F. Grease a lasagna pan with butter or vegetable oil. 2. Add salt, baking powder, and sugar to a small bowl. Whisk to combine. In a large bowl, whisk together flour with the other dry ingredients until evenly distributed. Add milk and stir with a wooden spoon to form a stiff dough. Some extra milk may be needed, but take care not to make it too wet. 3. Press evenly into pan. Cut lines 1/4″ into the dough with a sharp knife. 4. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Serve hot or room temperature. Votes: 2 Rating: 3 You: Rate this recipe! Print Recipe This dense frontier bread is traditionally cooked in hot campfire embers. Enjoy plain, …

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Armenian White Bean Plaki | Lupia Plaki

Serves 8 This dish can be enjoyed hot or cold. We served the Plaki cold in an Armenian Meza style dinner (cold buffet) and scooped it up with flatbread. Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups dried Great Northern Beans, soaked overnight in water 1 Tbsp salt 2-3 medium carrots, peeled and diced 1 celery stalk, diced 1/2 cup diced onion 1 can diced plum tomatoes, drained 2 Tbsp tomato paste 1/3 cup olive oil 8 cloves garlic, quartered 2 Tbsp lemon juice 1 tsp Hungarian paprika 1/2 tsp cayenne 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley and stems 2 cloves, crushed chopped celery leaves (optional garnish) Method: 1. Add beans to a large pot. Add enough water to cover 1″ and salt. Simmer until almost done. 2. Add remaining ingredients, except for crushed garlic and celery leaves, and cook another 30 minutes. 3. Take off heat and add crushed garlic and celery leaves. Serve warm or cold. Adjust seasonings before serving if necessary. Beware of Baby. Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: Rate this recipe! Print Recipe This dish can be enjoyed hot …

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Potato and Corn Casserole | Pastel de papa con eliote

Makes one 8×8 casserole Even the pickiest eater will enjoy this simple casserole. What’s better than mashed potatoes and corn?  NOTE: Recipe updated November 2011 to make it richer and more epic. Depending on the size of your potatoes, you may need more or less milk/butter. Ingredients: 5 russet potatoes (3 lbs), peeled and boiled 1- 1 1/2 cups whole milk (or as needed to make potatoes fluffy) 3/4 cup melted butter 2 tsp garlic salt pepper salt 2 cups frozen corn, thawed 2 Tbsp minced parsley Method: 1. Preheat oven to 425F. In the hot pot you cooked the potatoes, add the drained potatoes. Let steam dry a few minutes (this allows even more milky goodness to get into them). Then add 1/2 cup melted butter (reserve the rest for the corn topping), garlic powder, pepper, and salt. Mash together, adding milk in small amounts until fluffy. 2. Put potato mixture in a buttered casserole dish. 3. Puree thawed corn with remaining melted butter until creamy. If your blender has trouble, add a bit of milk …

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Hot Algerian Lasagna

Serves 8 Hot Algerian Lasagna blends traditional Italian lasagna with chickpeas, potatoes, ground lamb, and a healthy dose of cayenne pepper. Make this unusual dish once and you will crave the flavors for life. NOTE: Cayenne pepper’s heat is rated in “heat units.” This recipe was made with a 35,000 cayenne, which is on the low-end of the scale. If you have a 90,000 cayenne, you only need 1/3 of the cayenne pepper for the same kick. The label on your spice jar should give you this information. Ingredients: 1 pound ground lamb or chicken 1/2 cup olive oil 1 medium onion, diced salt and pepper 1 Tbsp harissa 1 clove garlic, crushed 2 tsp cayenne pepper (or 1 tsp to make it mild) 1/2 tsp ground cumin 1/4 tsp ground caraway 1 Tbsp tomato paste 2 cups tomato puree, plus a half cup 1 can drained, rinsed chickpeas 1 cup water 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 lb) 1 lb no-boil lasagna sheets 15 oz ricotta 2 eggs 2 cups shredded mozzarella 2 cups shredded Gruyère Method: 1. In a large …

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Lamb Baked in Yogurt | Tava Elbasani

    Serves 4-6 Although this dish is simple, the tender lamb and tangy yogurt are very satisfying on a cold winter’s day.  Use Hungarian Paprika to give the dish mild heat. Ingredients: 3 lbs lamb, cut into 10 pieces 2 cups cooking water from lamb 2 Tbsp butter 2 Tbsp flour 4 eggs 3 cups greek yogurt 1 tbsp white rice 1 tsp red pepper (paprika) salt Method: 1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, sear the lamb on all sides. Do not crowd. You may have to sear just a few pieces at a time. 2. Add all pieces back into the pot and cover with water. Add a generous amount of salt and simmer for 1 hour. 3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add flour and stir until they blend and cook together. When the mixture thickens and begins to turn the color of light peanut butter, begin adding the water. Heat until thick, stirring constantly. You are essentially making gravy.  Let cool. 4. Preheat the oven to 350F. NOTE: I …

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