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Almond Carrot Cake | Aargauer Rüeblitorte

Yes, I have a three year old daughter. No, I don’t hide a head of cauliflower in her mashed potatoes. I never slip zucchini in her pancakes when she’s not looking. And I refuse to bury carrots in her cake. I don’t cater to my daughter that way. Don’t get me wrong.  On any old Monday, Ava can blow through a bowl of cauliflower mashed potatoes. On the weekend, she can annihilate a tower of zucchini pancakes before the early bird has had his breakfast. And, as of today, she loves carrot in cake as well as any Swiss child. But she knows the vegetables are there. We talk about it. Laugh about it. In our house, we revel in a real carrot’s gnarly glory. I point out the knots, the hairs, the fuzzy green top to Ava.  She giggles, she scrunches up her nose, and then she chows down. When I happened upon this traditional Swiss Carrot Cake, I realized that, though Ava had enjoyed many a gnarly carrot, she had never eaten carrot …

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Dutch Spice Cake on a Rope | Ontbijtkoek

This spice cake creates so much joy, it should come with trumpets and streamers. Cake on a rope. So simple, and yet so brilliant. Every child will tell you: this is the stuff dreams are made of. All over the Netherlands, the Dutch nibble on swaying ropes of cake in honor of the Queen’s birthday. No hands allowed. This wildly popular event is called a koekhappen. Weather permitting, many lucky children enjoy a koekhappen on their birthday as well. One of our readers, Sylvia, told me a bit more about the Koekhappen: Koekhappen is a great game for kids. A birthday game, but an old-fashioned game as well that is done everywhere in Holland on Queen’s Day. The Royal family usually visits a specific few towns/villages in a certain region on Queen’s Day alternating them every year and celebrate the Queen’s Birthday. It’s still a day of many traditional games, singing and showing (local) talents. Certainly do this ‘koekhappen’ with Ava. Go for it and enjoy! Here’s Ava, desperately trying not to eat the cake before I …

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Bread of the Wild | Veldt Bread

Today we’re traveling to the sandy, dusty plateaus of of Southern Africa where you’ll find the Veldt – large expanses of wilderness, often filled with scrubby bushes and the occasional scraggly tree. Here, too, you’ll find prowling lions, circling scavenger birds, and hearty veldt bread – which pretty much means bread of the wild. According to the World Cookbook for Students, this quickbread was created by European settlers as a way to nourish themselves with familiar ingredients in an unfamiliar land. Since it’s leavened with baking powder, there’s no long rise time – just pop in the oven (or over a campfire) and chow down. No muss, no fuss. Spices like ginger, cinnamon and cloves give this rugged, dense “wheaty” bread a lovely lift. Much like Irish soda bread, Veldt bread tastes best when steaming hot, slathered with butter. So go ahead, set up camp by a Namibian sunset and enjoy a slice. Makes 1 loaf Ingredients: 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 3 Tbsp brown sugar 1/2 …

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Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Sweet Honey Figs

Today I’m taking you to a special place where family and friends gather around the dinner table with happy hearts. Silverware is optional, but bread is not. Settle into this sacred space, where tagine of lamb meets chestnuts, figs, cinnamon, honey, and orange blossom water. Pause for a moment to celebrate this crazy wonderful combination, to feel the hot air blow through your hair, then dig in and scoop up the glory with a handful of bread. When you’re done, cozy up to an evening of conversation so good you wish you could bottle it. Tagines are Moroccan party food – each nibble is filled with glorious, cheerful flavor; a festive bite of beauty; a deep, dark bowl of goodness, glimmering like the Moroccan night sky. To be honest, there was a time when the word “tagine” sent shivers down my spine. The very word sounded terribly exotic which, in my mind, translated to “extraordinarily difficult to make.” If I only knew how wrong I was. I’ve since learned that many Moroccan tagines, such as …

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Stuffed and Fried Potato Wedges | Mbatan Batata

The New Year is all about possibility, hope, health, and doing things better. That’s why I’ll be deep frying as the ball drops. But I’m not deep-frying just anything. This isn’t the state fair (where everything from butter to kool-aid makes it into the bubbling oil). I’m in the real world. This is a Libyan dish – one that combines the best of everything – delicate potato wedges, stuffed with wonderfully spiced meat loaded up with fresh parsley, crunchy breadcrumbs and a whole lot of yum. I can count on one hand the number times I’ve deep fried in the last couple of years, so this is a big deal. And, while it isn’t steamed veggies, it’s pretty well rounded as far as fried food goes. Eh. Who am I kidding. This isn’t the healthiest dish in the world. But it is a nod to mixing things up, having little Adventures, getting out of my comfort zone. And that’s what I hope for all of us in 2012. Note: Some Libyans like to serve these swimming in …

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Smoked Ham & Green Bean | Jollof

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 free spirit.  I play with food. Experiment. Get all MacGyver on it. If things begin to head south, I’m quick on my feet. A dash of this and a squirt of that will usually bring the meal back into edible form. I rarely make the same thing, the same way, twice. Well, today we’re revisiting Jollof – a dish we made a few months ago with such success that I thought I’d make another popular variation for Liberia, a country that loves Jollof as much as any …

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Plantain Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake

  I’m not really a dessert person, so it’s all the more surprising when I come across a recipe which makes me want to lock the doors, draw the curtains, and eat until every last crumb is gone. I mean, seriously. Plaintain Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake??! If this isn’t the perfect holiday recipe, I don’t know what is. And of all the places for it to come from… Denmark is known for gingerbread. Germany. Even the United States. But I was genuinely surprised to find gingerbread cake in the bustling big cities of Liberia. Now, I’m not talking the same-old gingerbread you’ve had before. This is an African spin. Yes, it’s a standard upside-down cake, but instead of pineapple, it boasts a dizzying spiral of ripe, tropical plantains – a perfect match for the molasses-based cake.  The butter and brown sugar bubble and brown, making the edges of the cake just a little bit crisp – which is the best part. For those of you wondering, the love of gingerbread comes from Liberia’s historical ties with …

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West African Rice with Veggies | Jollof

Serves 6-8 Listen, friends. I thought Jollof sounded weird. Scary. Difficult. It’s not. This is rice with veggies. And spices. Sometimes meat, but not here. Not today. All over West Africa people enjoy Jollof. They make it with whatever they have on hand and more often that not it does not include meat. This recipe is flexible. It’s usually spicy. And it always has some version of tomato sauce/paste in it. The rest is a fun improvisational dance. So, go on – boogie, boogie through that bottom drawer and pull out whatever veggies inspire you. Ingredients: 2 cups frozen green peas vegetable oil 1 onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, sliced 1 tsp ginger (fresh grated or ground) 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp cayenne 15 oz can tomato sauce or puree 1 small head of cabbage, chopped 2 cups white rice 1 quart water or stock salt and pepper, to taste Method: My boogie, boogie led me to peas, which is a fairly common addition to Jollof. So, first things first, set out the green …

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Homemade Curry Powder

Makes about 1/4 cup Curry powder isn’t just for India anymore. Fijians, all the way in Polynesia, also love the golden goodness. I took a look at Mark Bittman’s curry recipes (he has three different ones in The Best Recipes in the World), and made a version which combines the best of his fragrant curry and mild curry. The result? An all-purpose curry that will taste great on almost anything. Except maybe ice cream. This version ended up quite a bit different than Bittman’s, most notably because of a little extra cardamom and a bit less fennel seed. I’m just not that into fennel. If you’d like more heat, try mixing in extra cayenne until you get a blend you like. If you want bonus points, toast and grind each spice individually – you’ll be able to toast the spices more evenly and you’ll also have better control of the grind. You know… unless you have a little Miss Ava to keep up with. Ingredients: 2 tsp black peppercorns 2 tsp ground turmeric 2 tsp coriander seeds …

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Gingerbread Cookies

Makes about 48 3″ cookies Any time, any place. There are no rules when it comes to cookies. In fact, when I was little my mom made gingerbread cookies so often that I didn’t realize that most people only ate them in December. We ate homemade gingerbread/vanilla ice cream sandwiches in the summer – one of my all-time favorite, cry-until-you-get-another-one, crave-it-for-the-rest-of-your-life snacks. Although gingerbread can be found all over north america and Europe, today we made them for our Estonian Global Table. Ingredients: 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder Spices: 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp ground cardamom 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg 1/8 tsp ground cloves 1/8 tsp black pepper a pinch salt 8 Tbsp softened butter (1 stick) 3/4 cup brown sugar 1 large egg 1/2 cup molasses 1 tsp vanilla extract Method: Get your baking shoes on. Whisk together the flour with the baking soda, baking powder, and the spices. Gosh that’s pretty. Let’s all move to gorgeous Spice Land. Whaddya think? …

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Berberé |Hot East African Spice blend

Berberé is a spicy and savory spice mixture used all over Eritrea and Ethiopia. This blend goes well with chicken, beef, or lamb, and would also be great with lentils and other legumes. I’ve used it with our Doro Wat (chicken stew) and Awaze Tibs (lamb stew) recipes. A few sprinkles would also be great in our Lentil Wat. Makes about 1/4 cup Ingredients: 3 cloves 1/2 tsp coriander seeds 1/2 tsp  fenugreek seeds 1 tsp cumin 1 Tbsp paprika 1/4 tsp peppercorns 1/4 tsp ground ginger 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp ground turmeric 5 whole allspice balls 1/4 tsp cardamom seeds (removed from pods) 1/8 cup chili powder Method: Heat the spices in a clean, dry skillet to toast them. Once cool, grind them in batches. Keep going until most of the stragglers get ground up! Hey, that’s my sister! Enjoy. Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: Rate this recipe! Print Recipe Berberé is a spicy and savory spice mixture used all over Eritrea and Ethiopia. This blend goes well with chicken, beef, or lamb, and would …

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Sweet Potato Pone

Serves 6 Sweet Potato Pone is a slightly spiced, dense custard-like dessert, reminiscent of pumpkin pie. Adjust sugar according to your tastes. This version will give you cavities on the first bite. Ingredients: 1 lb finely grated sweet potato 1 12 ounce can evaporated milk (or coconut milk) 1 egg 1 cup brown sugar 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp nutmeg 1/4 tsp ginger pinch salt Method: 1. Preheat oven to 350F. Meanwhile grate sweet potato and combine all ingredients in a large bowl. NOTE: You want to grate your sweet potatoes as finely as possible. I think mine were too large because the texture, instead of being smooth, was rather coarse (see finished photo at the bottom of recipe) Perhaps a food processor could help in this situation? 2. Ladle into 6 individual ramekins (be careful not to overfill them. I did and they spilled over… making a sticky, ugly mess – give yourself about 1/4 inch buffer at the top). Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for one hour. Serve chilled. Optional …

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