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Feast of the 7 Fishes | Linguine with Baccalà Sauce

A lump of salt cod (baccalà) just might be everything. To use the tough, leathery fillet – more hide than flesh – the cod must first be soaked in fresh clean water. Gradually the salt leaks into the water and clouds it. A change of water, then more salt comes out. Several more water changes. A couple of days go by. The cod becomes soft. Mild. Tender. Italians know: these steps cannot be skipped or the meal will be ruined. I find myself sifting around for meaning this year. Did you notice that Christmas came with Halloween and Thanksgiving was just a speed bump on the road to black Friday (which actually began before the dishes were done or the meal had settled)?  With all the fuss happening earlier and earlier in the year, the excitement of Christmas feels dilute. But as I sit with this idea, restless in my desire to make the holidays special, I realize dilution – as with salt cod – can be a benefit. As the holiday season leeches into the stores earlier, becoming increasingly consumer-based, it …

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Cousin Alfred’s Meat Sauce

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 another. Alfred lived until he was 104 years old. I think much of his long life was due to making homemade ravioli and meat sauce. He taught me when I was about Ava’s age, or maybe a little younger. We made his spinach & pork ravioli for Italy and, today, we continue to keep Alfred’s memory alive with this sauce. Mom made sure to write down his recipe for meat sauce. But the title “meat sauce” doesn’t do it justice. This is meat sauce, yes, but it’s also filled with a half dozen …

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The Pope’s Fettuccine | Fettuccine alla papalina

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 Fettuccine because it was literally created for Pope Pius XII in the late 1930’s. And guess what he wore? A skullcap. Anyway, there are many versions of how the recipe was invented. The most common, is that the pope wanted to enjoy a very typical Roman meal. The chef in charge decided that carbonara was very Roman… but he decided that he wanted to make a special version, just for the pope. So Papalina was born. Beautiful, peppery papalina.   It makes for a fancy but easy dinner party meal. It truly is the grown-up mac and …

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Ukranian Pasta Bake | Baked Lokshyna

Wouldn’t it be amazing if bacon could cure every ailment. In the Ukraine, I bet it does. Broken heart? Bacon. Spilled beet juice on your favorite sundress? Bacon. Thursday afternoon existential crisis? Bacon. I’m thinking it’s worth a try. That’s where this pasta bake comes in. “Lokshyna” are Ukrainian noodles, and today we’ve dressed them up with plenty of sizzling bacon, creamy cottage cheese, and a couple of cracked eggs to bind the casserole together. The finishing touch is a happy sprinkling of buttered breadcrumbs (as few or as many as you’d like). One note on authenticity: traditional versions of this recipe are made with fresh egg noodles. On a particularly harried shopping trip, I was unable to locate any… so my version is made with dried noodles. Keep in mind: if you do decide to use fresh noodles, you may need to alter the recipe. This is because fresh noodles can be baked uncooked, but will require more liquid to do so. But, either way, the Ukranian pasta casserole is… awesomely comforting (and perfect …

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Swallow’s Nests | Nidi di Rondine

What being a grown up has taught me: There’s no way to turn couch surfing into exercise. I cannot be a mermaid for a day, no matter how hard I will myself to grow a tail. Superman isn’t going to swoop down out of the sky and carry me away with him. Heck, he can’t even find a phone booth these days. That being said, there are lots of good things I’ve learned as a grownup. Making my daughter guffaw makes my heart happy Eating around the table with loved ones is worth a pile of dirty dishes. There are superheroes in every day life, like my husband who quietly shovels our neighbor’s drive when he thinks no one is looking. And now… thanks to the tiny country called San Marino… I’ve finally learned that I can have the best of two worlds: lasagna and cinnamon rolls.  The dish is called Nidi di Rondine, or Swallow’s Nests. Think fresh sheets of pasta spiraled like a cinnamon bun, but layered with bechamel sauce, cheese, and ham …

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Cheese & Potato Pierogi

At any given moment I’m an arm’s reach from my cellphone. It’s not just a phone, it’s a laptop, a GPS, and – when my daughter tells it “I love you” – a female voice replies with almost lifelike bashfulness “You are sweet.”  Frankly, I’m frightened. That’s why, when I receive mail – real mail, bundled up in cardboard and clear packing tape – I get so excited. Cardboard boxes don’t talk back. The postage stamp doesn’t double as a GPS when I’m fifteen minutes late for a show. It simply sits there, until I open it. The best possible mystery. The way it should be. This week, Global Table Adventure received a package from my mom which tickled my funny bone in the most delightful way. This is reason #3,568,999 why my mom is so special. Ava, who was  as curious as I was, tore out the sheets of crinkly tissue paper to reveal a heavy duty heart-shaped bowl, small pitcher, and a covered sugar bowl. The bottom of each bowl read “Handmade in Poland.” …

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Vegetarian Momos

Today let’s stove top travel to Nepal, sit in the afternoon sunshine, and make our own little mountain ranges, good enough to eat. Momos are carefully folded dumplings, each crease like a ridge in the most glorious of mountains, Mount Everest. (Did you know Nepal has 8/1o of the world’s tallest mountains?) This is a recipe for quiet days. Contemplative days. Days when you want to be more, learn more… and find out what you’re made of. With each fold you evolve. Listening becomes easier. Being present is the only option. Today’s recipe is entirely vegetarian, made from a a traditional combination of cabbage and carrot, seasoned with golden turmeric, fresh ginger and sweet onion. You’ll find similar recipes south, towards India and across Tibet, through China. From what I understand you can fold your momos in circles or half moons. The circles are typically used for meat while the half moons are typically reserved for vegetarian. You can also steam or deep fry them, although steaming is the most popular. NOTE: In case you …

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Burmese Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup | ohn-no-khao-swe

Oh, yes. Even on the hottest day in steamy, tropical Myanmar, you’ll find gaping bowls heaped with noodles, chicken, and silky coconut curry. It doesn’t matter if you’re sick. It doesn’t matter if your skin is tacky with salty sweat.  “Ohn no khao swe” is what’s for dinner. . You can call it Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup, if you’d like. To a local, this curry topped with egg and a garden of garnishes is breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s as easy to find in rambling shacks as it is in roadside stalls. I can’t get over how easy it is to make. Chop a few things, toss them in a pot and simmer. After a happy mingle serve with noodles and enough garnishes to bring out even the Grinch’s smile, not to mention little Miss Ava (have I told you lately how much kids like to help build their own meals?). . The secret to making a great ohn-no-khao-swe is in the toppings. More specifically, in assembling your own bowl, just as you like it. If you do …

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Chilled Buckwheat Noodle Salad with Feta & Cracked Black Pepper

It only seems natural that we eat something black during our week at the Black Mountain (a.k.a Montenegro).  But here’s the thing – nothing in life is black and white. There are all sorts of shades of gray (that’s where the beauty is – somewhere in the muddled middle). So, in the spirit of variety, we’re adding a few shades of gray to our pasta. We’ve got black pepper, white feta, and charcoal grey buckwheat noodles with a bit of sparkle from pools of golden olive oil. This is simple as can be and a fantastic chilled pasta salad for a hot summer’s day. And did I mention? It’s also gluten-free. You can buy buckwheat noodles (a.k.a. soba noodles) or make them yourself for a fun afternoon project. I tried this both ways and, while I loved the satisfaction of making the noodles myself, I also loved the easy, breezy simplicity of popping open a package of pre-made buckwheat noodles and having dinner on the table less than ten minutes later. NOTE: You can find buckwheat/soba noodles …

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Rainy Day Steamed Couscous

I’ve been putting off making couscous. I don’t mean the boxed, nearly instant kind – I make that fairly often. What I’m tackling today is delicate, fluffy steamed couscous. The kind  you buy in the bulk bin. The kind that fluffs up like a dream. According to Clifford A. Wright, steaming the tiny pearls twice, sometimes three times, is the “only” way to make proper couscous. Color me intrigued. While we’ve cooked many countries that enjoy couscous (Libya and Algeria for example), I put off making authentic couscous because I was… well… afraid of failure. I have a tendency to do that when it comes to trying something new. I dance around challenge, especially when I’m tired. However, on quiet rainy days, when there is nothing else to do, I feel braver. Like I can accomplish anything. Be anything. That’s when I’m most likely to  buckle down and go for it in the kitchen. It’s like there’s a cloudy cushion surrounding me, making it okay. Turns out, Clifford A. Wright is on the same wavelength. He suggests, …

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Vermicelli Frittata | Froga tat-Tarja

Some days are for feeling grown up. Responsible. Full of lists and the determination to check them off. Other days are for bubbles, silly string, and dancing with your shoes off. And eating Maltese Froga. Froga is the adorable lovechild of omelets and angel hair pasta. Yes, pasta in your eggs. Eggs in your pasta. It’s like the noodles are doing a squiggly dance in your breakfast. This is major happy food. Where has it been all my life? In Malta (and nearby Sicily), you can find Froga made with all variety of fillings – ham, prosciutto onion, green onion, parsley, ricotta, spinach – if you like it in a regular frittata, you’ll most likely enjoy it in Froga. The only requirement is the pasta. Be sure to use long stranded pasta – vermicelli (angel hair) or even thicker spaghetti – the most common (and the most fun). Makes 1 8″ “frittata” style omelet. Ingredients: 4 medium eggs 1/4 cup ricotta cheese 1/3  cup parmesan cheese 2 cups angel hair or spaghetti, cooked fresh chopped parsley, …

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Triple Cheese Pasta with Sweet Onion |Käsknöpfle

When I told Keith, a.k.a. Mr Picky, what was for dinner this week, he said “Bless you.” You try saying it – Käsknöpfle – and see if you get the same response. Some words just sound like a sneeze, I guess. But don’t let that fool you. This week’s Käsknöpfle is … ahem… nothing to sneeze at. This wonderful, cheesy pasta dish enjoyed in Liechtenstein is like mac and cheese, but all grown up … a meal that has had a few years to explore the world and came back refreshed and refreshing – a great, big bowl of alpine comfort… A free spirit, if you will. This recipe is for the days when you don’t want everything all wrapped up in a neat little bow. When  you want things to be squiggly. And cheesy. And oniony. Trust me, it’s not too much to ask for. Just ask Liechtenstein. The fine folks of Liechtenstein recommend three cheeses… Fontina is creamy and has a bit of tang, Gruyere is salty and a bit drier (a bit reminiscent of Parmesan), and Emmenthalier is like a mild …

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