Aussie Twisted Vegemite Breadsticks

Homemade breadsticks are such a grown-up move. Only the most organized adult takes the time to add homemade breadsticks to an already jam-packed dinner party menu.  More importantly, only an adult can resist eating all the breadsticks. Aussie breadsticks do not apologize for their allure. These brash wands of dough smirk from their buttery throne – glistening with parmesan and Vegemite – daring you to show restraint before the main course arrives. Once you succumb? You’ll be too full for prime rib, too sleepy for Pavlova. Forget about fitting into anything but elastic. Unless, of course, you’re one of those adults who can take one trim nibble, lay down the breadstick and casually carry on a conversation for 20 minutes without the Medial Forebrain Bundle (that’s the pleasure seeking part of the brain for those who don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy) going into full on panic mode. I’ve always envied people with such restraint. Those are the real grown-ups. I’m 36 years old and still waiting. My husband and daughter? They don’t stand a chance.   What is an Aussie breadstick? Aussie …

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Homemade Balsamic Figs | Entertaining the Italian way

A daydream worth dreaming

Cobblestone alleys flanked by weathered walls. Hilltop churches. Sunlight warm on fig trees and grapevines.  This is the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.

Deep in the cellars there’s Parmesan, balsamic, and prosciutto aging. They slumber in the dim recesses, the nuttiness and salt growing bolder, rounder. Waiting for the perfect moment to shine.

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Rosemary & Lemon Harissa Kebabs

Summer still catwalks through the August air, unabashed and sizzling. There’s still time to grill, still time to sit out under the stars without a coat, or even a hoodie. There’s time to wear out those flipflops and kick back in sunglasses. And there’s still time to try Uganda’s kebabs, adapted  from Marcus Samuelsson’s beautiful cookbook Discovery Of A Continent – Foods, Flavors, And Inspirations From Africa.  The flavors are intense. Bright lemon juice starts of the explosion. A long marinade brings out bright sparks from the citrus. Then there’s a needling burn from the Harissa, a traditional spice often found in North African cooking. How much heat is there? As much as you can handle. Or as little as you’d like. Tip: You find Harissa mix at Whole Foods in the spice aisle (to be combined with water, olive oil, and crushed garlic), or you can buy a canned paste at a Middle Eastern market. Be sure to add this to taste, as some mixes may be spicier than others. IF you use the …

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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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Cognac n’ Herb Tapenade

Introducing the black diamond of Monaco: Tapenade. She glitters in the night. She belies the briny bite of the absolutely fabulous. But here’s the thing. She’s also, not so secretly, rustic. This dip and crostini topper has its origins in the grassy hills of Provence. Love for this treat spills over into Monaco and parts of Italy. While many people pulverize their blend to a paste (with a mortar and pestle or even a food processor), I prefer a rustic, coarse mixture. I like seeing the capers and slices of olives. I like seeing bits of herbs. So all I do is run my knife through the ingredients a few times. The choice is yours but, either way, this mixture tastes grand – dressed up with cognac, capers, and a sprinkling of rosemary and thyme. Serve at the beginning of your next garden party, on crusty, toasted baguette, spread on crackers, with cheese as an hors d’ouvre. And be sure to raise a glass to Provence and even sunny Monaco. Ingredients: 1/4 cup capers 2-4 anchovy …

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Pork Roast with Boozy Prunes

Remember the Sunday afternoon roast? How, as it slowly sizzled and crackled in the oven, the most wonderful smell crept throughout the house until there was nowhere to hide, and you were so hungry you almost couldn’t stand it? Eventually, playing outside was the only possible distraction. Even then the smell snuck out, through cracks in the wall, enticing you until you mysteriously found yourself infront of mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, just about anyone who would listen, asking “Is it ready yet?” … only to find yourself shooed back outside again for another agonizing half hour. As you know, waiting was always worth it. In the spirit of those wonderful Sundays, I bring you a Lithuanian-inspired Pork Roast. This moist platter of deliciousness features the regionally adored prune and the most popular meat in the country – pork. The best part about this roast is splashing the prunes with plenty of white wine. The sweet, dried fruit takes on a universe of flavor… and looks like a shimmering, liquid sky. Say hello to happiness. Recipe inspired …

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Grilled Greek-Style Lamb

Serves 4 When I started this Adventure I was seriously grill-challenged. Today, I am a new woman. I’ve learned how marinades can transform bland meat into craveable hunks of goodness, as with the intensely lemony Georgian Chicken recipe we made a few weeks ago. And now, today, I bring you Greek lamb… I would choose to eat these lamb chops over eating out any day of the week. The key is to slowly marinate the meat until it practically tingles from the inside out with garlic, lemon and a hit of rosemary. Ingredients: 2.5 lbs lamb, any combination of: Lamb Rib Chops Lamb T-Bone Chops Leg of Lamb, cubed (for kabobs) For the marinade: 4 cloves garlic 1-3 sprigs fresh rosemary 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp oregano 1/4 tsp pepper 2 strips lemon peel, or 1/2 a lemon zested 1/4 cup olive oil 1/4 cup lemon juice Method: Run to the store and buy some potted herbs. Plant them here, there, and everywhere. They’ll make your garden so gorgeous. An herb garden is unbelievably easy to grow and …

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Serves 4 When I was little, mom made ratatouille all the time. We ate it hot in the winter and cold in the summer, but always with loads of garlic. She’s half Italian, half Hungarian so – naturally – I figured ratatouille was a dish from our own, personal heritage.Later, when I moved to France, ratatouille turned up everywhere. Who knew? Ratatouille is French, French, French. Most popular in the south of France, around Nice (one of the hotspots for rich and famous folk, on the French Riviera), ratatouille means “to toss food together.” They key to great flavor is browning the veggies. With summer on the horizon, I dream about grilling each ingredient and tossing together into a ratatouille inspired salad. Ingredients: 1/3-1/4 cup olive oil (as desired) 1 large onion, sliced 1 red bell pepper, cut in 1″ pieces 1 yellow bell pepper, cut in 1″pieces 6 cloves garlic, sliced 1 1/2 lbs zucchini, sliced into rounds 1 small eggplant – about 1 1/2 pounds – cubed 4 roma tomatoes, chopped 1/4 tsp chopped fresh …

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Belgian Beef Stew | Stoofvlees

Serves 2-4 (on a bed of French fries) Stoofvlees is a typical stew in that there are as many variations as there are people making it. Depending where you live in Belgium, Stoofvlees might have more or less vinegar, slightly different spices, and a textural range from soupy to thick and sludgy. My thick, hearty version sits well on fries, but if you want it more “soupy,” feel free to add more beef stock. Ingredients: For the marinade 1 pound stew beef, cubed 1 onion, chopped 3 garlic cloves, crushed 1 rosemary sprig 1/2 tsp paprika 1/2 tsp dried thyme 1/4 tsp pepper 2 tbsp red wine vinegar 1 tbsp coarse mustard 2 tbsp oil For the stew vegetable oil 2 tbsp all-purpose flour 1/2 cup Belgian beer 1 – 1 1/2 cups beef broth 2 bay leaves 1 Tbsp molasses salt pepper Method: 1. Add meat to a small casserole with lid (or plastic bag). Combine marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over meat and squish around to combine. Refrigerate for at least an …

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