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Falafel Scotch Eggs – Snacking with Selkies

Let’s travel to Scotland and enjoy a traditional Selkie legend paired with a Selkie-friendly recipe for Scotch Eggs. But first… what is a Selkie? On the cold, northern shores of Scotland you’ll find smoke-grey seals basking on the wet rock, backs glistening with ocean spray. On an ordinary day the seals might sit for a time then slip into the water, hardly making a sound as they go about … well… whatever it is that seals normally do. But when the light is dim or fog blankets the horizon, some report having seen the seal skins drop away, revealing men and women of great beauty, whose big, brown eyes give their gaze a look of dewy grace. These are Selkies – merfolk who can shed their skins and walk about on land. But there’s a catch with the Selkie’s freedom: if they lose their skin, they cannot return to their natural form. Instead, they are trapped on land, destined to remain human until they discover their skin again. A note on the Biology of a Selkie: Unlike …

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Peking Walnuts

In the spirit of DIY deliciousness, why not start off the Chinese New Year with something sweet and savory? Peking Walnuts are an impressive affair – the glossy walnuts appear lacquered, but it’s really just a simple sugar coating that’s been dunked in a vat of hot vegetable oil. While the walnuts cook, the sugar caramelizes onto the crust and takes on a reddish hue – just like Peking Duck. The red color makes Peking Walnuts lucky. What’s the story with the color red and Chinese New Year? Legend has it that a Chinese beast called Nian lives under the sea and mountains. He is afraid of the color red. Chinese families use lots of red during the New Year to scare him away.Today, red signifies both luck and joy in Chinese culture. How to make Peking Walnuts (and impress all your friends): Grab a bunch of walnuts. Boil them until their skins fall off. Dry well. Toss with sugar and let dry for a couple of hours in a sunny spot (or overnight).   Meanwhile, go watch some fireworks! When you return, deep …

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Almond Stuffed Date Balls

When I made the amazing Pistachio Date Balls for Iraq, I thought I’d seen the easiest recipe in the world.  It only uses two ingredients (third if you feel like getting extra fancy), and there’s no cooking. Well, today’s date balls are even easier: they don’t require a food processor. Boom! Even as simple as they are, the flavor is amazing – as though from a much more complex recipe. There’s a sweetness from the dates that transports me straight to Yemen… I mean, forget it. Let’s just lay under some Yemeni trees for a while, before we get around to making this recipe. Okay? Now, maybe this sunny afternoon in Yemen has you wondering: why include almonds and sesame seeds? Why not just eat straight dates? Well, you know how good peanut butter is with jelly? The balance of the nuttiness with the fruity date in this dessert is similarly satisfying. And addicting. Before I knew, I ate three of these. And to think. When I started this adventure, I (thought) I hated dates. …

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Honey Almond Samsa with Orange Blossom Water

Every wedding, every baby shower, every birthday… every party… needs a smile. And by that, I mean, something that is delectable, not just to the spirit, but to the heart. Perhaps it’s an epic DJ known for Bollywood Dancing. Or perhaps it’s something as simple as a platter of Tunisian cigars, filled with crushed almonds, honey, orange blossom water, and cinnamon…Oh, and there’s a fair kiss of melted butter on them, too. These cigars are rather like baklava, but the orange blossom water makes them more floral, in a dreamy sort of way. The sticky, sweet mixture is guaranteed to get you and your guests licking their fingers. There will be murmurs and smiles. “What is that,” they’ll ask. And you know they’ll be talking about the orange blossom water. So fragrant, yet so delicate. Around the world, the word “samsa” is used to describe many, many different filled pastries, from meats to sweets. In Tunisia these are samsa. Every, last, glistening morsel is yours for the taking. Important note: Thaw the filo dough according to package instructions before …

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Burmese Ginger Salad | Gin Thoke

If we can’t open our hearts to the “weird” things in life, we’re not living fully. The girl who wears rain boots in the snow. The man that studies a bustling ant hill for an hour. The child that dips her scrambled eggs in molasses (Ava did this yesterday). These people all have one thing in common: they see the world through a different lens. Their world has no limitations. Wouldn’t it be glorious if a salad could change how you see the world? If one bite could take away all your preconceived notions and open your mind to the new, the exciting, and – let’s just be honest – the weird? Today we’re going beyond watery diner salads, sporting  browning lettuce, one measly crouton, a white-washed tomato, and a solitary red onion ring. (Thank goodness) Instead we’re loading our chopsticks with fresh, spicy ginger, salty fish sauce, fried lentils and chickpeas, chickpea flour,  peanuts cabbage… and… and… so much happy goodness. This is a bouquet of flavor that sounds more … quirky.. than it really is. This Burmese salad is extremely …

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5 Step Mole Poblano

I’ll be honest. On the onset, learning how to make Mole Poblano sounded a lot like learning how to knit a wedding dress. Outrageously epic, but not entirely something I had the skills for. In case you’ve never heard of it, we’re talking a Mexican recipe from Puebla that has a million, gazillion ingredients (ok, really just about two dozen), many cooking phases, and centuries of history behind it. Yikes. After staring at dozens of recipes, drinking several cups of tea, and more than a little sleep lost, I broke mole poblano down into 5 basic steps. Deep sigh. Smile. This feels better. Five steps are manageable. So, my goal today, is to make you Mole happy. To encourage you to give it a try. Because if you do, you’ll be in Mexico with every bite. NOTE: This Mole Poblano is vegan, although you can serve it on whatever you’d like – veggies, meats, etc. Traditionally it is served with turkey and made with turkey stock. Makes 6-7 cups Ingredients: These ingredients get toasted: 1 Tbsp …

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Pepian Sauce for Stewed Chicken or Veggies

Makes 3 cups Is your blender lonely? Do you want to blast away from boredom? Try pepian, a thick mole-like sauce from Central America and beloved in Guatemala. With a quick whizz-whirr in the blender, this vegan sauce (a.k.a. recado) blends the smoky flavor of roasted, toasted seeds and other goodness with a half stick of cinnamon and dried chili peppers. If that sounds like a lot of different ingredients, don’t worry, pepian is so balanced that even the pickiest eaters in your house won’t realize what they’re eating. The smooth, complex flavor makes me happy – especially when I’m in a cooking rut. Serve over vegetables or stew with chicken. Our recipe is adapted from our friends over at Uncornered Market (where you can watch a great video of Pepian preparation in Guatemala). They used guaque and pasa chilis; we could not obtain these so we substituted the closest we could find. The result was a completely mild pepian. Enjoy! Ingredients: 2 ounces sesame seeds, toasted 2 ounces pumpkin seeds, toasted 5 large roma tomatoes, …

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Salvadoran Quesadilla | Sweet Breakfast Cake

Makes 18-22 cupcakes Don’t expect cheese and tortillas. Instead, think poundcake. Think party food. Think happy mornings, popping a few too many quesadillas in your mouth. In El Salvador they eat rich, buttery quesadillas in the morning with a big cup of coffee and I suggest you do the same. You’ll love the slight crunch of the sesame seeds in combination with the sweet/salty cake. I’m proud to say that this recipe was awarded First Place in food52‘s Gluten-Free Baking Competition. Best served with dulce de leche and a cloud of whipped cream. Ingredients: 1 cup rice flour 1 tsp baking powder 1 pinch salt 1 cup butter 1 cup sugar 3 eggs 1 cup sour cream 1/2 cup grated hard cheese, like cotija (parmesan can be substituted) sesame seeds, to taste Method: Get your baking shoes on! You’re about to whip up a batch of Salvadoran goodness. Gather your ingredients, then preheat the oven to 350F. Whisk together the rice flour, baking powder, and salt. Meanwhile, in a standing mixer, cream the butter with …

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