Sweetness finding America

The Assyrian origin of strudel, is from Asia to Turkey. The use of this thin puff pastry stuffed with a sweet filling brings us back to the Asiatic regions where the consumption of these type of cakes has its roots in the ancient times of the Mesopotamians.

 Everyone, at least once in the life, has eaten strudel, the fragrant dessert stuffed with apples, usually connected with the lodges in the mountains of Trentino Alto Adige, Austria or the middle European regions. This dessert, the classic Viennese recipe of the Apple strudel foresees a filling of apples, raisin and pine nuts, however in other American versions, we invented them as an apple muffin strudel.

Adding some gelato, far away from Tuscany and the Rhine country side, with pure simplicity reminds me of “The Land of a Hundred Castles” its rocky mountainous landscape and wooden valleys.

Moving back to another continent, a neighborhood where I grew up, there was a bakery where I walked every day ~ the smell of the strudel is still very vivid. As sometimes we make eating a ceremony, so sacred that could become a religious one – yes, an utterly gastronomic ceremony.

Every day has something sweet to say for itself, and every season its own particular treats.

Apple strudel muffins

Thank you Priscilla and Aaron for your spices from Africa. Cinnamon made the difference.

Thank you Kathy for the beautiful serving platter.

When Life gives you Lemons

When Life gives you Lemons

We may never know the real origin of Limoncello! What we do know, is Italia as the birthplace of this delicious liquor.

A story tells about a local lady in a small inn on the island of Capri who had a luxurious garden of lemons. What we do know, is that it was created in the 20thcentury.

Thanks to the California weather, in our garden, I was able to grow thick skin lemons that are rich in oils, fragrant and strong aroma, making it possible to echo the Sorrento masterpiece.

When traveling through Sorrento, I cherish every one of my senses to create a mental snapshot of this delicious liquor. To enjoy it, It surely takes time and… lots of patience…

“A sip of Limoncello feels like a kiss from the sun.” ~Take a sip, smell the aroma, close your eyes and, you will be transported to Italia. Saluti!

As I drink it, I find myself dreaming on my next journey to my beloved Italia.

“Stay strong Italia” We will see you soon! Ci vediamo presto.

Mexican Deli meets heat

When winter or spring winds blow, there is something wonderful about dipping into a steaming bowl of Tortilla soup. The broth is only the beginning. Each spoonful revels tender morsels of chicken, guajillo chilies, avocado and lively cilantro.

In the America of yesteryear, Tortilla soup was relished primarily by Mexican Americans who inherited family recipes which were passed down from one generation to another.

Slowly Tortilla soup has found a place in the pantheon of American soups, and nowadays there are recipes for it, both classic and adventurous, from Latinos and non- Latinos.

This soup is hearty enough to be the centerpiece of a casual supper. As the feast of unleavened bread approaches, celebrating freedom we enjoyed it with a chipotle – stuffed matzah ball.

From Warsaw to The United States, “Tell me a story” Isaac Bashevis Singer. (1903-1991).  Nobel Prize in Literature 1978

For the love of chilis

To most of us, lovers of Mexican food, chiles rellenos conjure up images of crisp, battered – fried poblanos. Today, mine are stuffed with picadillo, a blend of minced meat and spices, having a result of the best savory chile rellenos.

The basic recipe is a family heirloom; it was handed down from my grandmother, Ernestine- a Russian immigrant to beautiful Mexico which she loved.

Wherever we traveled, I took up this game of culinary pursuit. Exploring ethnic cuisines in each destination, myself, with roots in Spanish – speaking ancestry I embrace myself as a Latin.

Chilies originated in the Americas. They were brought to Spain in 1490’s by a physician who sailed with Columbus. Because chilies are native from America, India and Thailand did not have the spiciness in their cuisine.

As it boosts a metabolic rate burning 50 more calories a day, Chili day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in February – most needed in a cold month.

Today, I have written this blog to keep all the culinary traditions under “Cooking around the world.”

Welcome to my blog wherever you are Christopher Columbus and Dr. Diego Chancla

Calcutta meets Antigua

The West Bengal state, home of the Bengal tiger – meets southern Guatemala, home of the “Volcan de Fuego.”  Beauty within two different countries.

Malabar Parotha ~ an Indian delicious bread stuffed with a mix of chickpeas, lentils and root vegetables. Yes… “Show me the curry!”

Chiltepe – a fascinating mix of heat and spices from Antigua, Guatemala. Yes… “Show me the bread!”

Marco Polo, (1254- 1324)~ was only in his teens when he left Venice, Italy following a route to the East. Most of Marco Polo’s tales are accepted as true and accurate by modern scholars. What we do know, is that he spent most of his life in the East including India.

Guatemala, country known for its volcanic landscapes, Mayan culture and Antigua ~ a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Chiltepe a Mayan, Xinca and Garifuna roots, was developed by indigenous for the love of heat and spices.

Parotha and chiltepe, a magnificent combination of taste and flavors.

Buen provecho amigos!

Micuilxochitl and the Mayas

 Mesoamerica, during the Pre-Hispanic times flourished for nearly 4000 years.

After four days of fasting, chile Colorado  was the meal given as a gift during festivities to Micuilxochitl.

Micuilxochitl was the Mayan God of the flowers, dance, games and love. Men and women with an improbable appetite had an active part on this celebration.  

The Mayan Empire were agricultural people who originated about 1000 B.C.  Cooking with these peppers, the magic continues in 2020. 

Chile Colorado makes my heart skip a beat! Made of tender pieces of beef simmered in a rich and flavorful combination of dry, red hot peppers sauce. 

 We can hear the country speak and learn its secrets through its stories and its recipes. 

As we say in Mexico “Buen Provecho.” 

Tamales for La Candelaria

 A traditional desert for the Eve of Epiphany – Fiesta of the three kings when a “Rosca” ~a fruit bread is cut.”   

During  “Dia de la Candelaria”, the tamales are served to everyone on this second day of February. 

 Everyone? you may ask, Yes… There is a baby doll in the Rosca and whoever finds it at his/her share is responsible for this magnificent tamale party.  

Children are dressed for the Candelaria ~ Fiesta at the Market celebrating the birth of the new testament. 

With a romantic story behind, many celebrations happen during this “Candelaria Day.” A historical one, is at a chapel in Coyoacan, in the south of Mexico City where Hernan Cortez and the Malinche had performed mass in 1526.

As the advisor to the Spanish Conquistador, The Malinche played a role during the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire.

With a magnificent experience of spices, vegetables and hot peppers at beautiful Baja Peninsula, filled this masterpiece.  

Thank you to Kathy Shapiro for creating this masterpiece of flavors in 2020. 

Manchuria meets Indo-China with a story.

Manchuria meets Indo-China with a story. 

This is a simplified version of Manchurian cauliflower. It is oven – baked and seasoned Indo – Chinese style. 

A dear relative of mine, sitting in his living room brought me to an exciting journey. A journey full of stories describing conflicts such as the Great War, League of Nations and the United Nations. 

In flushing, New York, enjoying pure poetry with a cup of tea is where the story of Manchuria comes alive.  

For many of us, it could be difficult to understand the conflicts during WWI and WWII. The aggression from Japan to Manchuria was vivid in my great – grandfather’s eyes. It was the Chinese uprising in the 1900, which was put down through the combined forces of eight countries.

As a slave, though Manchuria, was where my great -grandfather escape from the USSR.

In America, in the 21 century my combined forces are the spices within this recipe. I am wondering how the Manchu government will welcome my recipe with the balance of Chinese and western spices, among some… ginger, jalapenos and molasses. 

Ura moi druz’ya ~ Enjoy my friends.

Happy Holidays to all!

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa!

  And, a wonderful 2020 from our home to yours! 

“If music be the food of love, play on.”  The twelfth Night!  

The speaker, Orsino is asking for music as he is frustrated in courtship of countess Olivia; he wants an overabundance of love so he may lose his appetite. (16th century to 21 century.) 

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Back 4000 years ago Babylon (ancient Mesopotamia) celebrated the recreation for the New Year. The Spaniards have so much in common with this celebration. My always favorites for a year full of luck, love, wealth and life is… Yes! exactly… 12 grapes – pop one grape for every month for the New Year. It will not hurt! 

As the new year arrives around the globe… 

 Sweet cakes and noodles representing long life 

 Peas, representing coins  

Herring, represent abundance 

 Pigs, represent good luck. 

Happy 2020 everyone! 

Thank you! Aaron & Priscilla for the beautiful Shakespeare art. <3

American in Sicily

Chicken Marsala, an Italian – American dish cooked with golden pan – fried cutlets, mushrooms, herbs and Marsala wine sauce. This delicious wine comes from Marsala, Sicily or as in the year 200’s B.C. was called Messina.

This harmonious recipe reminds me of Jim Messina, a rock & roll duet “Loggins & Messina.” As their record on 1972 A.D. “Your Mama Don’t Dance” and your daddy don’t Rock & Roll… reached the “Billboard Hot 100,” my Marsala has reached my “Hot 100 recipe” and… I am still dancing.

Chicken Marsala’s elegance was enhanced for its “Royal- level popularity.” and it was assigned the well – deserved label of “D.O.C.” Denominazione di Origine Controllata.

“You have to love either what you are going to eat, or the person you are cooking for. Then, you have to give yourself up to cooking. Cuisine is an act of love.” – Alain Chapel, Chef