TURKEY

Quince Poached in Sugar Syrup: Ayva Tatlısı

Yield: 4 servings

Prep time: 10 min Cooking time: 2 h Total time: 2 h 10 min

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Ingredients

  • 2 medium size quinces
  • 3 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoon stevia
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 8 dried whole cloves
  • ground nuts of choice, for serving

Preparation

Wash, peel (keep the peels) and halve the quinces lengthwise. Place on a cutting board with the cut facing up and holding each firmly carve out the core with the seeds. Don’t discard the seeds yet.

Place the quinces in a large pan and add water, lemon juice, honey, stevia and spices. Make sure the liquid covers the quinces. Put two cloves in each quince’s hollow. Add the seeds and skin peelings to the water.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a minimum and let the quinces gently simmer for two hours. Flip the quinces to the other side after one hour of cooking. After another hour turn off the heat and let the quinces cool. Serve them with some syrup, honey, ice cream or chopped nuts of your choice.

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SPAIN

Rice Pudding: Arroz con Leche

Yield: 2 – 4 servings

Prep time: 10 min Cook time: 60 min Total time: 1 h 10 min

ArrozConLeche3

I’m pretty sure this is a well-known dessert around the world and almost every culture has its own variation of it It was also one of my favorite foods when I was growing up.

But I can’t remember when was the last time I ate it, since I haven’t been eating anything white (flour, rice, sugar…) for a few years now. I do eat brown rice on a regular basis, but somehow the idea of making a rice pudding with brown rice has always seemed a bit off to me.

Luckily, I finally gathered the courage to make it and the only thing I regret is the time lost not eating this delicious dessert. It turned out great. I made only a few slight alternations of the original recipe: I used brown rice, brown sugar and I left out the butter. And, due to brown rice, the cooking time is slightly longer than when making regular rice pudding. This really is a super-fast, easy, delicious and nutritious dessert.

Ingredients

  • 600 ml (2 1/2 cups) skim (or whole) milk
  • 280 g (1 1/2 cups) brown (or white) rice
  • 45g (3 tbsp) muscovado (or white) sugar
  • 12g (1 tbsp) stevia (or 1 additional teaspoon of white sugar)
  • peel of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preparation

Pour about 70 ml (3 cups) of water in a large pot and bring to a boil and add the rice. Reduce heat a bit and simmer for about 40 minutes. Remove from the stove and allow rice to sit in the pot of water.

Pour the milk into another large pot and add brown sugar and stevia. At medium heat stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and bring everything to a boil. While you are waiting for the milk to boil, drain the water from the rice.

Once the milk boils, add the drained rice, cinnamon stick and lemon peel. Cook everything at medium heat for another 15-20 minutes, until the rice is really soft. Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon peel. Remove the pot from the stove and pour your rice pudding into a serving dish. Sprinkle the top with ground cinnamon. Allow it to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

It is also delicious when cold, in which case you can refrigerate it for a few hours before serving it.

*Note: If you don’t have a cinnamon stick, you can simply add more cinnamon into the mixture already while cooking.

ArrozConLeche2

HALLOWEEN

Happy Halloween!

When it comes to baking, I really enjoy foods with a story or a long tradition behind them. So when I needed to decide between making these rustic, rather plain looking cookies and a super sweet Halloween candy bar, I naturally picked the cookies.

The history of giving out Soul Cakes for All Hallows’ Eve goes all the way back to the Middle Ages, when “souling” was as popular among children in Great Britain and Ireland, as trick-or-treating is in today’s America.

Soul Cakes were usually filled with different spices, such as allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, or ginger, and raisins or currants. Below is my recipe, as usually with a few twists.

Soul Cakes

Yield: 18 to 20 cookies

Prep time: 20 min Baking time: 15 – 20 min Total time: 40 min

Soul pies 3

Ingredients

  • 250 g (2 cups) whole grain or white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground fresh if possible
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground fresh if possible
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of ginger
  • 75 g (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) muscovado or white sugar
  • 2 teaspoon stevia
  • 2 eggs
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) milk
  • handful of raisins (for decoration)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).

Combine flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and ginger in a small bowl. Mix well.

Cream the softened butter, sugar and stevia together in a medium bowl. Gradually add the eggs and continue beating.

Add the spiced flour and combine as thoroughly as possible; the mixture will be dry and crumbly.

One tablespoon at a time, start adding milk, blending vigorously with the spoon. When you have a soft dough, stop adding milk.

Knead the dough thoroughly and roll out 0.5 cm (1/4-inch) thick. Cut into 5 cm (2-inch) cookies and place them on the prepared baking sheets.

Decorate with raisins and brush liberally with beaten egg yolk or milk. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until just golden.

Soul Pies 2

INDIA

Gujiyas

Yield: 12 or 13 cookies

Prep time: 45 min Baking time: 13-15 min Total time: 1 h

India2

Ingredients

  • 125 g  (1 cup) whole grain (or white) flour
  • 25g (2 tbsp) coconut oil
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) skim (or whole) milk
  • 200 g (1 cup) mawa
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) muscovado (or white) sugar
  • 12 cashew nuts, cut in tiny pieces
  • 1 tbsp raisins
  • cinnamon, to taste

Preparation

Combine the flour and coconut oil. Warm the milk a little and knead the dough, using the milk. Cover the dough and keep it aside for 20 minutes. While the dough rests, prepare the filling for the Gujias.

Combine the mawa, sugar, pieces of cashwes, raisins, and cinnamon.

Knead the dough again and break it into small balls (12 to 14). Take each ball in your hands and press it until it becomes a flat oval. Prepare all the balls in this manner. Cover them with a cloth and keep them aside.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Take the pressed dough ball and roll it to a 3.5-4” thin disc. Make sure it’s a perfect a circle as you can make. If you have a Gujia mould, put the disc in it. Keep it on the mould, add 2 tablepoons of the filling in the middle of the circle. Dip your finger in water and use it to water the edges. Now close the mould so that the stuffing is enclosed fully inside the poori. Press the mould firmly together.

If you don’t have a mould, like me, simply put the stuffing in the middle of the circle and close it tightly with your fingers, making a little shell. Then press around the edge with a fork, to create a decorative pattern.

Before baking, you can brush the gujiyas with some warm milk, which will contribute to a lovely color and shine, once they are baked baked.

Grease the baking pan, place the gujiyas on it and bake at 200°C for about 13 minutes. Check the gujiyas and if they seem under baked, bake for another minute or two.

Serve chilled to room temperature.

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DENMARK

Red Berry Pudding: Rødgrød med Fløde

Yield: 2 servings

Prep time: 30 min Cooling time: 120 min Total time: 150 min

BerryPudding2

Ingredients

  • 500g red berries or fruit, fresh or frozen (red currants, black currants, raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, or a combination)

*Note: I used strawberries, so nutritional info is based on strawberries.

  • 480 ml (2 cups) water
  • 20 g (about 2 tbsp) stevia or 10 g white sugar

*Note: You can also use sugar or any other sweetener you prefer. The amount also depends a bit on the kind of berries you are using and your personal preferences. I used strawberries, which are sweet enough as it is, so I didn’t need a lot of additional sweetening.

  • 20 g (2 tbsp) cornstarch, dissolved in 60 ml (¼ cup) water

Preparation

Simmer the berries of your choice, sugar, stevia or whatever sweetener you prefer, and 2 cups water over medium heat. Cook until the berries begin to break down. Strain the syrup through cheesecloth or a fine-meshed sieve; discard the berries or save them for another use.

Return the syrup to the pan and bring to a boil. Whisk in the dissolved cornstarch liquid; cook, whisking constantly, until a thick pudding forms, 8–10 minutes. Transfer the pudding to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the pudding; chill for at least 1-2 hour. Divide into serving dishes.

DSC_0252

Adapted from Saveur.

IRELAND

Soda Bread

Yield: 1 big or 2 small loaves

Prep time: 15 min Baking time: 30 – 45 min Total time: 45 – 60 min

Irish Bread1

Ingredients

  • 310g (2 ½ cups) whole grain (or white) flour
  • 7g (1 tbsp) baking powder
  • 15 g (1 ½ tsp) baking soda
  • 3 g (½ tsp) salt
  • 40g (3 tbsp) muscovado (or white) sugar
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 165 g (1 cup) raisins
  • 40 g (1/3 cup) dried cranberries
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) skim (or whole) milk

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the peanut butter and egg and mix until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in the raisins and cranberries, then make a well in the center and pour in the milk. Stir with a spoon until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and, using floured hands, knead gently 8 to 10 times. If you want to make two small loaves, divide the dough into two balls and place onto the prepared baking sheets. If you’re making one big loaf (like I did), the baking time is slightly longer – about 45 minutes.

Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes; then reduce heat to 375°F (190°C) and bake until the top of the bread is golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Transfer the bread to a wire rack and cool completely before slicing.

Irish Bread 3

SWEDEN

Cinnamon Rolls: Kanelbullar

CinnamonRolls3

Ingredients

Dough

  • 245 ml (1 cup) skim (or whole) milk
  • 25 g fresh yeast (or 1 envelope dry active yeast)
  • 65 g (1/3 cup) muscovado (or white) sugar
  • 420 g (3 ½ cup) whole grain or white flour
  • 1 tsp whole cardamom seeds
  • ¼  tsp salt
  • 75 g (1/3 cup) low-fat yogurt or applesauce

Cinnamon filling

  • 75 g (1/3 cup) low-fat yogurt
  • 30 g (2 tbsp) muscovado (or white) sugar
  • 1 ½  tsp cinnamon

Topping (optional)

  • one small egg (whipped together)
  • pearl sugar or sliced almonds

Preparation

 Dough

Crumble the yeast (if using dry yeast prepare it as required) in a big bowl. Heat milk until it is warm to the touch. Add the milk to the yeast and stir until yeast has dissolved.

Crush the cardamoms in a mortar and pestle.

Mix together flour, sugar, cardamom and salt before adding it to the milk and yeast mixture. Add in the yogurt or applesauce. Blend well, either by hand or by using a food processor. Knead it well for about 5-10 minutes.

Cover the dough and place in a draft free place and let it rise for at least 40 minutes.

Filling

Mix all ingredients for the filling to an even batter.

Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each of them out separately to the shape of a rectangle.

Spread half of the filling onto each piece of rolled out dough so that it covers the entire area. Roll the dough up beginning with the long side. Slice each roll into about 13 equal sized slices and place them with their cut side up on baking sheet.

Let them rise for about 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg and brush all buns and sprinkle pearl sugar or sliced almonds on top.

Bake them in the oven at 225ºC (about 440ºF) for 8-10 minutes.

CinnamonRolls2

The recipe is adapted from: http://kokblog.johannak.com/3685/.

LYBIA

Semolina Cake: Basbousa Bil Tamr

libya2

Ingredients

  • 334g (2 cups) semolina
  • 136g (1 cup) whole grain (or white) flour
  • 60g (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut
  • 64g (1/2 cup) muscovado (or white) sugar
  • 245g (1 cup) low-fat (or regular) yogurt
  • 240ml (1 cup) skim (or whole) milk
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 500g date-paste

Decoration

  • blanched almonds (optional)

Preparation

Mix all the liquid ingredients together, and then add them to the dry ingredients.

Brush a rectangle 20×30 dish and spread half of the basbousa mix.

Arrange date paste on top carefully, then cover with the remaining basbousa mix.

With a sharp knife, mark 30 equal squares into the top layer of semolina, decorate each with halved almonds.

Bake in a preheated oven, 200°C, until golden in color. Pass a knife over the squares again, deepening the lines.

Leave to rest before cutting and serving.

*Note: The original recipe finishes off with pouring syrup over the squares while still warm. I omitted this step completely, but I think it would work great with maple or agave syrup, or maybe even warm honey, for those who are looking for a healthier alternative.

libya3

ARGENTINA

Alfajores

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Ingredients

  • 120 g (1 cup) whole grain or white flour
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) cornstarch
  • 5 g ( 1 tsp) baking powder
  • 115 g (1/2 cup) low-fat (or regular) yogurt
  • 70 g (1/3 cup) muscovado (or white) sugar
  • 1 egg
  • vanilla extract (to taste)
  • 200 g (7 ounces) homemade dulce de leche
  • 25 g (1/4 cup) unsweetened shredded coconut

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and prep your cookie sheet. Mix together the flour, cornstarch and baking powder; set aside.

Beat together the yogurt and sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl. Slowly add the egg and the vanilla extract. Gently fold in the flour mixture with a spoon, making a crumbly dough. When the dough becomes cohesive enough, press it together into a ball with your hands. Wrap the ball with a plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough, using as little extra flour as possible, about 5 mm (¼ inch) thick. Cut out about 50 small circles. Place the cookies on the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake in the preheated oven 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the cookies immediately to cool on a wire rack.

When they are completely cool, sandwich two and two cookies together with the homemade dulce de leche (you can prepare that beforehand, as it can be wonderfully stored in the fridge for days). When done, roll the sides of your alfajores in the shredded coconut. You should have about 25 of them.

Homemade Dulce de Leche

Ingredients

  • 720 ml (3 cups) milk
  • 240 g muscovado sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean (or some vanilla extract if you don’t gave a bean)
  • ½ tsp baking soda

Preparation

Combine the milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds in a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the baking soda and stir to combine. The reaction to adding baking soda is quite amazing, as the whole thing starts foaming and rising, so don’t get scared.

Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered at a bare simmer for about an hour. After that, remove the vanilla bean, if you used one.

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GREAT BRITAIN

Merry Christmas everyone!

Today I’m going to share the last of my national Christmas desserts with you. This one’s very special, as I’ve started working on it about a month ago and haven’t quite finished it until yesterday evening, when I finally flipped it out and had my first taste. It was quite specific, but delicious all the same. So here it is, my very first Christmas Pudding.

Christmas Pudding

My main concern with this pudding was how to store it. I read about it a lot and it seems that most people nowadays still just store it in a cold place for about a month (or even more) and feed it with rum or any other liquor every once in a while. To be completely honest, I never gathered the courage to do something like that. There are eggs in it for crying out loud. And I certainly don’t want to poison my family for Christmas. So, after thinking long and hard, I decided to simply put the thing in the freezer for four weeks. I took in out the day before our Christmas dinner and then steamed it right before the dinner for about an hour.

Christmas PuddingI have to say it has surpassed my expectations. However, this is the only Christmas Pudding I have ever tasted in my life, so it is possible I’m not being quite objective enough.

This is the recipe that I used and I have to admit I haven’t really experimented with this one a lot. I got the impression that this was quite a specific dessert, so I just followed the instructions as thoroughly as I had the chance.

Even without the four week period of waiting, the preparation of this dessert spreads over more than just one day. It goes sort of like this:

  • Day 1: Soak the dry fruits in stout (rum, brandy, anything you have at hand)
  • Day 2: Mix all the ingredients together
  • Day 3: Steam the pudding for 5-6 hours

Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding

Ingredients

  • 350g/12oz mixed dried fruit (raisins, currants, sultanas)
  • 100g/3½oz pitted ready-to-eat prunes, chopped or left whole
  • 100g/3½oz dark muscovado sugar
  • 4 tbsp dark rum
  • 100ml/3½fl oz stout
  • 100g/3½oz chopped walnuts
  • 100g/3½oz blanched almonds
  • 100g/3½oz ground almonds
  • 100g/3½oz fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 50g/1¾oz plain flour
  • 100g/3½oz frozen butter, grated, plus a little extra for greasing
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 100g/3½oz chopped glacé cherries (or left whole if you prefer)
  • 3 large free-range eggs, beaten

Preparation

Combine the mixed fruit, prunes, muscovado sugar, rum and stout in a mixing bowl. Stir well to mix, cover and leave for 24 hours to soak.

After 24 hours, mix the walnuts, almonds, ground almonds, breadcrumbs, flour, butter, spices, cherries and eggs along with the soaked fruit mixture in a large mixing bowl, making sure you include all the soaking liquor from the soaked fruit. Mix well until completely combined (let all the members of the family have a stir and make a wish). Cover with cling film and leave to stand in a cool place for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, grease a 1.2 litre/2 pint pudding basin with butter. Cut a circle of baking paper and place into the bottom of the pudding basin and then grease it with a little more butter. Pack the pudding mixture into the pudding basin, pressing as you add it. Fold a pleat into the middle of a large piece of baking paper and place over the pudding. Cover with a large piece of pleated foil, ensuring the pleats are on top of one another. Secure tightly with kitchen string tied under the lip of the pudding basin.

Place an upturned saucer into a large saucepan one-quarter full of water. Fold a long piece of foil into quarters lengthways to create a long strip and place the pudding basin in the middle of the strip. Bring the sides of the strip up the sides of the pudding basin and lower into the saucepan. Ensure the water in the saucepan comes one-third of the way up the side of the pudding basin, but nowhere near the top of the basin. Leave the ends of the foil strip hanging over the side to make it easy to remove the pudding later.

Bring the water to the boil and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer gently for 5-6 hours, topping up the water level as necessary throughout cooking (do not allow the pan to dry out).

Once the pudding is cooked, remove from the pan and set aside to cool. The pudding can be stored for up to two years in a cool, dry place. To serve, reheat the pudding by steaming again (in the same way) for two hours, or until hot all the way through. Alternatively, remove the foil and reheat in the microwave.

Source: BBC Food Recipes