All posts tagged: Valentine’s Day

A older couple in love

Cook a “5 senses” Valentine’s Day Dinner with these world-wise tips

While I love my husband dearly, there are times that our love feels so comfortable I’m at risk for taking him for granted. But then I smell some garlic frying in oil, maybe some tomato sauce bubbling on the stovetop, and I know he’s making me pasta for dinner. It’s nothing complicated – a simple gesture, really – but I know in that moment he loves me. Food, prepared with care, is the meaningful gesture that can fix  just about everything, especially an in-the-rut relationship. To me, Valentine’s Day is about taking this simple attentiveness and amplifying it – by exposing our five senses to something new. After all, new experiences breathe life into the old.  They help us notice. And so this week, while I’m finishing up a few more last minute edits on my memoir, I assembled some awesome food traditions and ideas from around the world that will have your heart swooning in no time… in every sense, with every sense. Note: These tips, though most might assume are geared for couples, are completely …

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Cream & Current Scones

The first time I had a scone – a real British scone – I almost lost my mind. The small disc had a tender crumb and tasted of lightly sweetened cream. A speckling of currants brightened the flavor, giving it just a hint of color, too. The giving texture of the scone is worth further mention. I think much of the lightness stems from the fact that  real scones are made with good quality European butter. European butter is richer (averaging 85% fat instead of just 81%), so there’s less water, which means a more delicate crumb. It also helped that the scone was made with a light touch: there was nothing overworked about the recipe ( a baking crime which can quickly turn a featherweight scone into a hockey puck). With such delicious ingredients, a true scone needs very little accouterments. Still, I did as the British do, and split my scone and added a spoonful of homemade strawberry preserves. The garnet colored preserves filled the craggy crevice so completely, the sticky goodness nearly spilled …

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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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Blueberry Bublanina | Bubbly Cake

From early springtime all the way into the deep heart of fall, Slovakia’s mountains and hills burst with nature’s bounty. For those who search, a perpetual harvest reveals herself. Here, trees swoon with the weight of delightfully sour cherries, juicy, grapes, apricots, and apples. There, bushes bloom with blueberries, woodsy and sweet. This land, surely, is magic. When there is more fruit than can be gathered in an apron, Slovakia makes Bublanina, a.k.a. Bubbly Cake. Just one secret makes this slightly sweet cake light and fluffy: whipped egg whites. Fruit, sliced, chunked, or left whole, is scattered across the foamy surface and, as the cake puffs up in the oven, it bubbles around the fruit. Some fruit sinks down. Some fruit does not. Once out of the oven, the whole thing is covered with a cloud of powdered sugar, until even the air around it tastes sweet. It’s all kinds of whimsical and the perfect way to ring in the hope of spring (I promise it’s coming – I even witnessed a few daffodil leaves …

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West African Peanut Bites | Kanya

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this Adventure, it’s that my family’s unfaltering love of peanuts inexorably links us to the fine people of West Africa, where this little legume is  enjoyed in both savory and sweet concoctions. Peanut soups and cookies are both fair game, but today we explore Kanya, an altogether new delight. Kanya are naturally gluten free and beyond simple, made with just three ingredients: peanuts, sugar, and toasted rice flour. That’s it! Kanya remind me of fudge, but with a drier, slightly crunchy texture thanks to the toasted rice flour. There’s just one catch (there always is, isn’t there?)… If you want to make Kanya the old fashioned way, you’re going to need arms of steel to push, and punch, and grind the mixture until it is so pulverized that it begins to stick together. Women in Sierra Leone (and beyond) know this art well and can be found patiently pounding grains and peanuts in the dappled sunlight, laughing and talking all the while. When I read about Kanya, I …

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Valentines

12 Romantic Recipes from Around the World, Just in time for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and there’s no better way to show love than to bump hips in the kitchen, or, at the very least, to deliver an edible prize to the champion who stole your heart.  While you’re at it, why not take your love on a mini vacation, via stovetop travel? Without leaving your own global table, they can experience Egypt, Belgium, Morocco, Malawi, and beyond. And you can go with them, in the most sensual way possible: with your taste buds. It’s all here, for the ravishing, so go on, eat your way around the world.   PART ONE: 5 Unique Ways to Give Your Sweetheart Flowers   1. Egyptian White “Coffee” Mix hot water with rose water, made from thousands (millions!) of rose petals and  a little sugar, and you’ll have a caffeine-free way to warm up next to your sweetheart.  A great drink for late night cuddling, since it won’t keep you up past your bedtime. Unless you want to stay up past you bedtime. 2. Moroccan Honey Buttered Semolina …

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Creamy Coconut & Banana Tart

Imagine sitting by the sea one lazy afternoon, focused on the tattered nets of nearby fishing boats, when something big and hard bumps against your foot. When you look down, you see a giant, two lobed coconut has washed up, onto the sand. From end to end, this coconut is as long as your forearm, with tufts of hair poking out between the brown, oblong lobes. She would have traveled hundreds (thousands!) of miles to reach you, all the way from the Seychelles. And you’d know she came from there, because it is the only place where these incredible coconuts grow. Once you saw her, you’d never forget her.  She’s called Coco de Mer, or coconut of the sea. And she really is quite… shall we say… graphic. I had the awkward pleasure of sitting next to one this week, hand delivered from the Seychelles by my friend Barry. Weighing in at 40-50 pounds, these are the world’s largest coconuts, stars of countless legends and pirates tales (one of which we’ll hear from Barry in a …

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Sweet Semolina Cake with Lemon & Rose water | Basboosa

Love’s every whimsy can be found in the tender, fragile curve of a rose. Arab cooks must know this in their hearts, as they imbue many of their desserts with the essence of this great flower. Rose water is made from hundreds (thousands!) of rose petals and I’m convinced there is magic in every drop. Today’s cake, called Basboosa (also called Basbousa), is heavy with such magic. This sweet cake is conjured up with durum semolina, then soaked in a pool of syrup made with sweetened rose water and fresh lemon juice. Some versions are dense while others are fluffy – I’ve provided options for both below. No matter how you slice it, each bite is like a garden at sunrise. The dreamy perfume of roses and lemons unite, overflowing the senses like King Fahd’s Fountain in Saudi Arabia (the tallest fountain in the world… “The water it ejects can reach a speed of 233 miles per hour and its airborne mass can exceed 18 tons.” Wiki). This magic is glorious with a cup of strong tea (I’m talking …

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Cocoa Tea

When I told Ava that the fine people of Saint Lucia like to wake up in the morning and drink Cocoa Tea, she squinted her eyes, titled her head, and said “what mama?” “It’s like hot cocoa,” I smiled, “but richer, and seasoned with cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg.” Her eyes instantly popped open in recognition and the corners of her lips curled impishly. I showed her my mound of chocolate chips and added that in Saint Lucia they use cocoa sticks and balls to make their Cocoa Tea, but we’d be making it with chips since that’s all we can get in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “Don’t worry,” I added, “It’ll still taste amazing and feel completely snuggly.” Truth is, the end result is a rich, thick blanket of goodness… each sip is almost like dreaming underneath a giant bar of ooey-gooey warm chocolate. This is the kind of drink you want after a chilly walk or sledding. After a breakup. Or an engagement. It’s the exact right statement for any sentiment, in fact. A giant mug …

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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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Crystal Crunch “Fudge” | Besan Burfi

No  matter where you live in this great, glorious world, you know someone with a mega sweet tooth. Someone who can’t get enough of the sugary, fingerlickin’ foods. This person can’t be trusted with a cookie jar and – I’m here to tell you right now – they most certainly can’t be trusted alone with a platter of Besan Burfi. And, really, can you blame them? Besan Burfi, popular throughout Nepal and India, tastes a little like sugar cookie dough… a little like a dreamy pistachio flower … and a lot like, well, happiness. The “fudge” is made with ghee, chickpea flour and sugar. Every bite is an outrageous crunch of crystalized goodness. When topped off with a smattering of cardamom and pistachios, you’ll find these make for a rich and irresistible snack. A snack, in fact, that makes you repeat to yourself “curiouser and curiouser.” So come on down the rabbit hole. Never mind that this “fudge” is made with besan, a.k.a chickpea flour. That sounds entirely too healthy and … beany.  Trust me. This turns …

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Candied Cantaloupe & Cherry Almond Tart | Galapian

. Very rarely does a dessert glisten as brilliantly as the Galapian. She’s like unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before – slices of candied cantaloupe enrobed with a light almond cake, studded with brilliant maraschino cherry drops and glazed with lavender honey. . This movie star of a dessert was invented in 1994 by Alain Bouchard in Apt, a region of France near to Monaco. While a relatively new invention, it has all the glitz and glamour that is so enjoyed by the Monégasque. . While relatively easy to prepare, this dessert brings even the fussiest gourmands to their knees. Try it for a bridal or baby shower, or maybe just an afternoon sitting by the shore, sipping sweet muscat wine (as recommended by Bouchard). . Instant glamour. . Absolutely Fabulous. Inspired the World Cookbook for Students. . Ingredients: . Sweet Pastry Dough: . 1 cup flour 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar 1/2 cup (8 Tbsp) butter, chilled 1/4 cup slivered almonds, measured then ground in a spice mill 1 egg . Fruit & Almond Filling: . 4 egg whites …

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