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Uzbek Kompot Recipe

Silk Road Punch | Uzbek Kompot

Today, we enjoy an autumn fruit punch from the heart of Uzbekistan’s Kyzyl Kum desert, shared with me by Paul Salopek, National Geographic fellow and journalist. The chilled punch quenches with ripe pear, apple, and plum, while a sprig of basil lends the memory of summer. An opportunity for our children At my grocery store, punch typically comes in a bottle or, more commonly, a box with a straw. At seven-years old, Ava has never considered what “punch” is, or how it might be made. This a good opportunity to remind our children that fruit punch is made from soft, sweet fruit – a seasonal thing, reliant on agreeable weather and the absence of pests. Punch came before refrigerators and standardization, each batch unlike the next, tasting only ‘of the moment.’ Once young children “get” the concept behind punch, they may begin to taste the individual fruits (or at least show interest in trying). Let them play with the recipe, and encourage them to invent their own favorite punch. After all, it’s as simple as stewing hunks of …

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Wassail

The question is not whether I’d sing to an apple tree, but rather where I can find an apple tree to sing to. My Oklahoman neighborhood just doesn’t deliver the crimson fruit. Regardless, I will tipple this wassail with a cheer (wassail literally means “wes hail”, or good cheer)- after all in 2014 I’m learning about celebrations around the world, a suitable follow-up to completing our first adventure: eating one meal for every country in the world. January is all about wassailing. What is wassailing? Wassailing is the Southern English art – yes, art – of cooking up some of last year’s apple crop with cider – sometimes with a flush of orange peel, warm cinnamon stick, flecks of nutmeg, or maybe allspice. To make it… just… Roast some apples. Click on the burner and clank on a pot of cider and spice. In a moment, heat shimmers through the pot and those first bubbles pop the surface. Seconds later, sweet apple and spice billows through the house. The roasted apples are whipped into a froth, then stirred to …

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Venezuelan Fruit Punch | Tizana

Crack open just about any Venezuelan fridge and you just might find a pitcher of tizana. Tizana is as much a drink as it is a fruit salad. The fruity concoction keeps for nearly a week, which makes it perfect for impromptu scooping. Though perhaps not traditional, I’m guilty of digging into the pitcher at breakfast time, dessert time, and, of course, at midnight. I can see how having tizana in the fridge would be a great way to get my daily allotment of fruit, especially when in a hurry.   So how is it made? For starters, you’ll need about… an entire orchard. Chopped. The kinds of fruit varies, but most recipes seemed to include one or more kinds of melon, pineapple, grapes, bananas, and apples. More exotic fruit like papaya, passion fruit, persimmons, guava, and mango appear once in a while, too. The whole mixture is thinned with good ol’ fashioned OJ and a splash of grenadine. Some people like to add club soda or regular soda to the mix, too.   Seriously. If this doesn’t …

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Honey & Pistachio Stuffed Quince

Say “Quince” to an Uzbek lady, and you just might see her flush with delight. Though they aren’t eaten raw, baked quince are soft and tender, like a pear.  The taste is mild, something like an apple, but with traces of pear, too. Uzbekistan is the third greatest producer of quince, after Turkey and China. They include the fruit in plov, stir it into preserves, and they bake it up with honey, and sometimes even stuff it nuts… as we’re doing today. How to choose a quince: – look for white fuzzies on the stem end, which indicate freshness – a ripe quince is yellow, although slightly green fruit can be used for this recipe – it can be bumpy and odd-shaped, but there should be no scarring or other markings. Serves 4-6 Ingredients: 2-3 quince (or 3 large apples) 1/2 cup pistachios 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (or substitute more pistachios) 1/2 tsp cinnamon honey, to taste (1-2 Tbsp per person) For the baking dish: 1 cup water 2-3 slices lemon Method: Let’s go to …

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All-American Apple Pie

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 about this time I start missing home – I start hungering for the bright, fall taste of apple pie. Of home. Use any firm baking apples you’d like.  This time I used pink lady, though many different varieties will do, as long as they are firm. Check with your grocer and see what crop they think would suit you well. While many insist on adding at least half granny smith, I prefer my pie granny-free. In the end, I …

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Fig & Honey Apple Polenta Cake | Bustrengo

Sometimes life calls for  a little something extra-ordinary. A toothy smile on a cloudy day can be enough. A favorite pair of fuzzy, polka-dotted socks can even do the trick. But on other days I want something a smidge bit … well… gourmet. I want something that says this day – this meal – this time – is more special than you know. That you’re more special than you know. And so, it’s not without a little irony that Bustrengo fits the bill. You see, this Fig and Honey Apple Cake is traditionally made in San Marino (and Italy) after dinner chatter dies down, while sitting around the embers of a dying fire. In this way, she’s a real casual sort of affair. Something to satisfy that sweet tooth, without going to too much of a fuss. As easy as a smile but as tasty as good love. Inside you’ll find all manner of diced apples, dried figs, golden polenta, olive oil, and pools of honey. Oh, and curls of orange and lemon zest. No biggie. These …

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Polish Apple “Pie” | Szarlotka

We don’t always do what’s expected in my family. We laugh in the face of drama. We cry whenever happy. We eat pizza for breakfast. And we’re generally 10 years out of fashion (note: I’ll never slip into skinny jeans, so don’t hold your breath on that one). P.S. We never had normal birthday cakes. I liked to have the unusual and highly troublesome (in the best possible way) German Tree Cake on my birthday. Half the time my brother Damien requested apple pie for his. If we were Polish, homemade, sugar dusted Szarlotka is surely what he would have gotten. Since it’s apple picking season, any excuse is a great excuse to make apple pie. And I’m thrilled Poland has such a fun version… Now, I should clarify – this is not exactly pie per se – that’s simply the translation most often given for this sweet treat. Instead it looks more like a fruit bar with apple pie filling. The “crust” is like a cross between a shortbread cookie and pie crust. The dough is made …

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Dutch Potato Salad | Huzarensalade

If I were to make a potato salad, it would not be loaded up with mayo, nor would it be heavy as a brick. No. My picnic table would have something far more glorious: I would make this Dutch potato salad. She’s full of bright, juicy apples, smoky cubes of ham steak, sweet corn, and tiny, salty gherkin slices. She’s an entire meal, surrounded by tender lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, cucumbers, tomatoes, more gherkins, and whatever else you’d like to nibble on. Radishes? Sure. More apple slices? Absolutely. Steamed asparagus? That’s totally Dutch. Swap the ham for beef? Yes, yes. Want to eat your potato salad in a lettuce wrap? Do it with a smile! When all is said and done, and you look down at your plate, you’ll find a fairly healthy meal. This is the perfect platter for any party. I can see it at a baby shower or bridal shower luncheon. And, of course, as an easy summertime dinner. Perhaps in the company of some rabbits. Some Dutch rabbits. Or maybe just at your …

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Dainty Apple Cake | Äppelkuch

In the southern reaches of Luxembourg, in an area called Gutland, live a happy collection of orchards where apples, plums, cherries and berries ripen in the sun. Now… I knew, without a doubt, that I absolutely, positively wanted to make a plum cake when we got to Luxembourg, however the seasons were against me. Since it is January and not a plum in sight, I somewhat grumpily resigned myself to making a traditional apple cake, a.k.a. Plan B. One bite in and I knew this was a fantastic choice. Made with a buttery dough and a wet custard, the two layers literally combine in the oven, creating a moist, incredibly delicious cake. When topped with a heavy dusting of cinnamon and confectioner’s sugar, all feels right with the world. Right… and very apple-tastic. NOTES: Use a 8″ cake pan with standard 2″ inch sides (no shorter). Do not use a springform pan, as the milk mixture will certainly leak out. The easiest way to remove the cake from cake pan is to let cool until …

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Wooden Spoon Applesauce

Sometimes I buy fruit and it just… sits there. Life takes over. I go for hikes, I play catch with my daughter, I eat the candy from my stocking, and… before I know it, I just forget to eat them. I do this a lot with apples because they last so long and are so forgiving. Eventually, the time comes when they lose a bit of shine and a few bruises pop up. If this should happen to you, applesauce is the way to go. I didn’t realize how easy it would be to make until I did it this week. Trust me, you can do this.  In countries like Liechtenstein applesauce is the go-to side dish for all sorts of meals, like Schnitzel [recipe] and Käsknöpfle (recipe will be up this weekend). The fresh flavor will totally make you forget that you left your apples just …. sitting there… for so … long. Best part? No fancy equipment required. Just a plain ol’ wooden spoon. That’s love right there. Here’s the easy, peasy recipe: Makes 2 …

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Latvia’s Apple Pancakes

This recipe is so familiar. Each bite feels like a  nibble straight out of my childhood. The funny thing is I’ve never, ever had this recipe. But, with cinnamon, cardamom, apples and pancakes-so-thin-they’re-basically-crêpes all rolled together with heaps of honey and yogurt, I can practically see my mom buzzing around the kitchen table. I smell the butter melting, crackling, sizzling, and I go right back to those days when I was too short to see into the mixing bowl. Thanks to this new-to-me recipe, I can taste my childhood all lumped together in this happy breakfast treat from Latvia. I’m totally into it. I suppose it’ll seem familiar to you, as well. After all, we’ve seen thin pancakes all along this journey, from Argentina to Ireland, and from Hungary to Eritrea. Today’s pancake is typical of the the Baltic and – even though they call it a pancake – the soft batter is almost thin enough to call a crêpe. Latvians love adding spiced apples to their pancakes. To be totally traditional, be sure to serve them with …

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Apple Empanadas

Sweet, cinnamon-loaded apple empanadas are perfect for popping at parties. Popular throughout south and central america, these tidbits will be gone before you can put the tray down. Try serving warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of dulce de leche. Makes 4 dozen 3 1/2″ empanadas Ingredients: 2 batches of empanada dough For the filling: 4 cups peeled, chopped apples (about 3 medium apples) 1/2 cup sugar 1/8-1/4 cup raisins 1 tsp ground cinnamon 4 Tbsp butter 1 Tbsp cornstarch 1 egg to brush on the pastries before baking 3 1/2″ cutter Method: First, prepare the empanada dough. Next, put on a happy song while you peel and chop the apples. Preferably this one from Ecuador. When you’re chopping go a little smaller than I did (it will make it easier to fill such the empanadas). Gather the rest of your ingredients… in a moment the sweet apples, cinnamon, sugar, and raisins will make your entire house smell like “good.” Melt butter in a pan with sugar and cinnamon. Add apples and …

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