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Braided Heart Bread | Pleteno Srce

We are closing in on spring …  that special time of year, when weddings and baby showers sprinkle our calendars, and everything is awash in the promise of new love. In Slovenia, such times are marked with Pleteno Scre – an ornamental, braided, tender loaf of bread, shaped into a heart. Pleteno Scre is an honored gift. The slightly sweet loaves are painstakingly decorated with edible tokens, like wedding rings and flowers (as I have done), or even astonishingly detailed birds, or paper thin leaves that seem to crackle under the slightest breeze. This art form takes time to master, so I stuck with simple flowers, a wreath, and rings. The best part is that this is something you can do as a family. Little ones love to have a piece of dough to play with. Mashing and rolling, twisting and turning – it’s what they do best. Ava didn’t even want to make any shapes for the heart – she just wanted to play next to me, while I worked. It was sweet. And …

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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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Midnight Mocha Rum Cake

Let’s talk about world peace for a second. Pretty much everyone I know agrees we need a big dollop of it to make the world a happier place, but not many people know what this world loaded up with peace would actually look like. Except for that one image of children holding hands. While the notion of all our children holding hands is a beautiful image, I can’t help but wonder where all the adults are. Why is it always just children? Are we so jaded that we think they’re the only ones who can do it? Are we past the point of no return? Is it really too late to lead by example? I’ve put some thought into this lately. I think world peace will be a lot like chocolate cake. Delicious. Lovely. But definitely not overly sappy or idealistic. Sure, everyone would wear the smile of the dove in their heart (they’re eating chocolate cake, after all) but there would still be varying points of view. Disagreements. People need to be able to have opinions, …

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Tiramisu

Makes one large trifle (Serves at least 8) Your day was hard. Maybe you have a party coming up. Or you are out of ice cream. Perhaps your favorite DVD  got scratched. Or your 20 lb cat left a 1lb hairball on your favorite sweater. I have the answer for everything: make tiramisu. Trust me. After a hard day, tiramisu is easy. It’s the perfect dessert for fancy parties and casual parties. Plus, you won’t ever crave ice cream again. Well… not while tiramisu is hanging out in your fridge. After one taste, you’ll be so in love that you won’t care about the DVD or  the sweater. It’s just stuff, after all. Tiramisu, however, is glory on a spoon. Glory that you can scoop up at midnight, when no one is looking. Plus I have a few little secrets that’ll make it the prettiest tiramisu you’ve ever seen (or tasted). NOTE: Please start this recipe the night before you need it. Also, you can make caster sugar (aka fine sugar) by putting some in a …

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Chilled Coco-Mango Soup

Serves 4 Hello summer, nice to see you again. This year let’s stay cool, no overheating, no frustration, no sweaty t-shirts. I have to admit I don’t think you’re playing fair – soaring above 100F in June, but I’ll take drastic measures to keep the peace, if need be. I can curl up in an ice bath. Thankfully, however, there’s something better and tastier: cold soup. Inspired by the Guyanese in South America and their love of Caribbean flavors, today’s special is mango and coconut-tastic. I’m ready to do laps in this chill goodness. The flavor is light – thanks to the coconut water – silky, even. This is high class – good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Eat it by itself or eat it as a starter or eat it as dessert. Just eat it. Ingredients: 4 medium ripe mangoes (about 3.5 cups chopped) 1 1/3 cup coconut water (1 can) 1 cup yogurt 1/2 cup coconut milk 1/2 cup milk 1 Tbsp rum (white or dark) honey, if necessary ( I didn’t use …

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1 2 3 4 Caribbean Rum Punch

Makes…as much as you can handle! I’m no mixologist, so I love when there’s a clear cut way to mix a drink, such as with the ever-mighty Rum Punch. The recipe is easy to remember, as long as you can count to four. You’ll need 1 part sour, 2 parts sweet, 3 parts strong, 4 parts weak. As for what specific ingredients to use? That’s where you get to be creative. Take “Sweet” for example: that could be a sugar syrup or a naturally sweet fruit juice. You get to choose. I went for a middle of the road drink – tropical, fruity and fresh without being cloying. As for the dash of nutmeg – it’s Grenadian fairy dust – be sure to add some for your finishing touch. Ingredients: 1 part sour: fresh lime juice 2 parts sweet: pineapple juice 3 parts strong: rum 4 parts weak: orange juice If my ratio confuses you, just replace the word “part” with cup, and you’ll end up with a little over a half gallon. Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg 1 …

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German Tree Cake | Baumtorte / Baumkuchen

This is my favorite cake. All 21 layers of it. It has been since my mitten-wearing years. My mom used this intricately layered almond and chocolate cake as an activity for us kids – something to keep us busy on rainy mornings, when crayons had lost their interest. It is single-handedly responsible for my obsession with almond paste (and it’s sweeter counterpart, marzipan). The original recipe might as well be called “the dance of dirty bowls.” I took a hacksaw to the method, removing five extra bowls. Your baby soft hands will thank you. The best part? No cake goodness was harmed in the streamlining of this recipe. NOTE: You need two days to make this cake because the cake needs to chill in the fridge overnight. Serves 12 Ingredients: All ingredients should be room temperature 1 1/2 cups almond paste, tightly packed (12 oz) 6 Tbsp half & half 1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tbsp), softened 1 cup sugar 10 eggs, separated (put the whites in a bowl big enough to whip them up to …

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Caribbean Tres Leches Cake

A proper Tres Leches cake is thirsty. Really thirsty. Each dry, pocket of cake crumb soaks up more milk than a stray kitten. Our version soaks up a little over 3 cups (!) of liquid as it sits in the fridge over night. While the texture is moist, a good Tres Leches cake will never be soggy or mushy. It will – against all odds – retain a discernible crumb in spite of the milk within. NOTE: See my recipe and associated feature story about Global Table Adventure in the Tulsa World. They probably learn about this cake in engineering school. If not, they should. Tres Leches cakes are primarily thought of as a Latin American/Mexican dessert. Q: What’s in the three milk mixture? A: It depends… Traditional Central American Tres Leches Cakes: – sweetened condensed milk – evaporated milk – heavy cream Drunken Tres Leches Cakes (Pastel Borracho): – water – rum/brandy – sugar Caribbean Tres Leches Cakes: – coconut milk – evaporated milk – heavy cream or sweetened condensed milk – sometimes rum RECIPE Makes …

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Mojito

Makes 1 drink The bold flavor of mint, lime juice, and sugar come together in this classic Cuban drink. If you have time, a simple syrup made of water and sugar cooked together is another possibility for sweetening the drink. Ingredients: 1/8 cup superfine sugar a handful of fresh mint 1/2 lime, juiced 1 shot rum crushed ice Method: Gather your ingredients… Drop a healthy handful of fresh mint leaves into a glass. Add the sugar and mash it together with the mint. Renowned author Mark Bittman says that there should be enough mint pieces to chew on. Squeeze in the juice of a lime for that tangy wow-factor. And a shot of rum. This is my faithful “Planet Hollywood” shot glass one of my brothers got me years ago. Remember when every kid had to have a Planet Hollywood t-shirt? I’m into the retro cool factor. Add crushed ice, stir well and drink! Minty fresh… Now, if only you can get your dentist to approve it! Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: Rate this recipe! Print …

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