international

Picadillo

Cuban Entree

PICADILLO

INGREDIENTS

1 green bell pepper
3 garlic cloves
1 large onion
3 Roma tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
¾ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ pounds ground beef
3 tablespoons dry white wine
3 tablespoons tomato paste
12 pimiento (aka pimento) stuffed olives
¼ cup raisins
2 tablespoons fresh parsley

Serves 6. Takes 45 minutes.

PREPARATION

Seed and mince bell pepper. Mince garlic cloves. Dice onion and tomato. Add bell pepper, garlic, onion, olive oil, cumin, oregano, pepper, and salt to pan. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Stir frequently. Add ground beef, wine, tomatoes and tomato paste. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add olives and raisins. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes or until raisins plump. Stir occasionally. Garnish with parsley.

TIDBITS

1) The first soup bowls didn’t have a bottom. Scalding-hot soup ladled into them went straight through to the would-be diner’s lap. This is why birth rates were so low until the Renaissance. Then in 1466 a young busboy, Leonardo Da Vinci, weary of cleaning up soup spills, invented soup bowls with bottoms. Suddenly, he had free time to invent and paint. Other busboys such as Michelangelo used this expanded off hours to paint and sculpt. The Renaissance was born.

2) Unfortunately, with creative energies diverted to the arts, bowl design stagnated. Soup-eating armies found little time for campaigning as they took forever to be served. Indeed, General Lee’s peanut-eating army consistently stole a march on their soup-slurping Northern counterparts. Then in 1863, busboy, George Meade discovered he could toss the soup bowls like a FrisbeeTM, if he made the bowls round. (Yes, it does take practice to this without spilling the soup.) President Lincoln, realized an army that could serve soup suddenly could keep up with the Rebels. He made Meade general. Three days, the round-bowl eating bluecoats defeated the gray coats at Gettysburg. The Union would be preserved, slavery would be abolished, and we are eating out of round bowls.

Chef Paulcookbookhunks

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with 180 wonderful recipes is available on amazon.com. My newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, is also available on amazon.com

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Potica (Nut Roll)

Slovenian Dessert

POTICA
(Nut Roll)

INGREDIENTS – YEAST

¼ cup warm milk (1 more cup later)
2 tablespoons yeast
4 teaspoons sugar (¾ more cup later)

INGREDIENTS – DOUGH

½ cup butter (6 more tablespoons later)
6 tablespoons sugar (6 more tablespoons later)
3 egg yolks (reserve 3 egg whites)
1 cup warm milk
¾ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons vanilla extract (½ more tablespoon later)
4 cups flour (3 additional tablespoons later)
1 tablespoon butter (5 additional tablespoons later)

INGREDIENTS – NUT FILLING

1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
5 tablespoons butter
½ cup honey
5 tablespoons milk
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 cups minced walnuts
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup heavy cream
3 egg whites

INGREDIENT – FINAL

3 tablespoons flour

SPECIAL UTENSILS

electric beater
3 9″-x-5″ loaf pans
about 4  mixing bowls depending how much cleaning you do along the way
sonic obliterator

Serves 8. Takes 3 hours 30 minutes.

PREPARATION – YEAST

Add ¼ cup warm milk and yeast to a small mixing bowl. Stir until yeast dissolves. Add 4 teaspoons sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Lit sit for 15 minutes or until mixture doubles in size.

PREPARATION – DOUGH

While yeast rises, add ½ cup butter, 6 tablespoons sugar, and egg yolks to a large, mixing bowl. Use high setting on electric beater until butter becomes creamy. Add 1 cup warm milk to small pot. Cook on medium-high heat until milk is almost ready to boil. Stir constantly. Add yeast mix, hot milk, salt, and 4 teaspoons vanilla extract to bowl with creamy butter. Mix with whisk or fork until thoroughly blended. Add 4 cups flour, ½ cup at a time, mixing with wooden spoon, or until dough is a ball and no longer sticky.

Grease another mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon butter. Add dough ball to this mixing bowl. Turn dough until it is well coated. Cover and let rise for 1 hour 30 minutes.

PREPARATION – NUT FILLING

While dough rises, cinnamon, ground cloves, 5 tablespoons butter, honey, 5 tablespoons milk, and 6 tablespoons sugar to small pot. Cook on medium heat until butter melts and ingredients blend. Stir constantly. Add lemon zest, and walnuts to another mixing bowl. Mix with fork until well blended. Add walnuts to mixing bowl. Pour butter/honey/milk mixture and ½ tablespoon vanilla extract over minced walnuts. Mix with whisk or fork until well blended. Fold in heavy cream with spoon. Add egg whites to cup. Beat with whisk. Fold in egg whites into butter/honey/milk/walnut /heavy cream mixture. Let cool until dough has finished rising.

PREPARATION – FINAL

Dust large flat surface with 3 tablespoons flour. Roll out dough onto dustedt surface until it is 24″ long, 18″ wide, and ¼” thick. Ladle cooled nut filing evenly over dough. Start with 18″ side and gently roll up the dough to form a 24″ long dough long. Cut 24″-long loaf into 3 8″-long loves. Put loaves in loaf pans. Cover pans and let rise for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes or loaves turn golden brown and toothpick stuck in center comes out clean. Use sonic obliterator on impatient guests

TIDBITS

1) The Sonic obliterator is an essential item for the serious home chef. It gets rid of door-to-door salesmen who interrupt you right when you take the chicken Florentine dish out of the oven, causing you to drop the casserole dish which shatters into a million pieces. Also, zap oafs who complain that dinner is taking too long. You don’t need that negativity in your kitchen.

2) Be advised that although owning a sonic obliterator is not illegal as of press time., obliterating someone might be. One never knows with law enforcement. So to be safe, please ask your local police officers in advance.

Chef Paulcookbookhunks

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with 180 wonderful recipes is available on amazon.com. My newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, is also available on amazon.com

Categories: cuisine, international, politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Looking for Toilets, My Travels Through Europe: Venice

VENICE

Doge’s Palace has a public toilet.

See Venice while you can for many parts of it are sinking into the sea. It’s kinda like California slipping into the ocean at the rate of a half inch a year. But there are differences as well.

California has earthquakes, fires, has water shortages, is a hot bed of information technology, has a huge agricultural sector, gives free water at restaurants (if you ask for it) and lets you use restrooms at all sorts of places such as restaurants, supermarkets, and just about any sort of business where the public comes in.

Venice has no shortage of water. It’s everywhere sometimes it floods the main square that tourists infest, which is exciting if you’re wearing designer shoes.

Venice was founded in the fifth century when Attila the Hun was rampaging through Italy, sacking cities, slaughtering the populace, destroying the Roman Empire, and otherwise being rather unpleasant. Anyway, the citizens of Aquileia, a thriving city, saw no future in being massacred and high tailed to the nearby swamp. They reckoned the Huns, a tribe that grew up in east-central Europe, wouldn’t want to slog through the swamp just to extinguish a bunch a people whom they had no real quarrel with. The Aquileians were right and before you knew it, they were sinking pillars in the marsh to provide support for the buildings they were going to put up.

These swamp people called their new city, Venice after Venn diagrams, they were astoundingly into the theory of logic, and ice, a rare commodity in a Mediterranean* seaport in the Dark Ages. Anyway, the Venetians minded their own business for centuries. In disgraceful contrast, the other nations and city states, generally went around for centuries impaling each other with lances and other weapons.

All of a sudden a Venetian woke up and decide to make galleys. These were ships powered by men using oars. Think of fishing in a tiny lake. You used a rowboat. Only the Venetians galley were huge multi-decked rowboats requiring hundreds of oarsmen. Just as you want to protect your fishing spot and perhaps wanted the lake to yourself, the Venetians wanted the Mediterranean to themselves and used their galleys to sink the other nations ships.

However, instead of catching fish, the Venetians transported spices from the Middle East to the rest of Europe. The Europe of the Middle Ages and Renaissance had really no refrigerators to speak of. Thus, their food other rotted and stank, more than lutefisk even. So, the Middle Age diners really appreciated a good spice to cover up the bad food. And so the Venetians thrived.

Until suddenly, the Ottoman Empire conquered the Near East and shut off access to the spices. Moreover, Western Europe developed large sailing vessels that could whoop the pants off the Venetian galleys in combat and could travel long distances across the open sea. Venice went into a centuries long decline. You would have thought they could have used that declining time to come up with anything, like reclining chairs and public restrooms, but no.

Venice lost its independence to Austria in 1806. However, the conquered city still had lots and lots of pasta and fish. This made going to restaurants lots of fun. About this time, Signor Scampi added chairs to his pizzeria. What a great idea. People loved being able to seat down for supper. More and more chefs provided chairs for their customers. The trend toward chairs in Venetian restaurants continues to this very day.

Venice was a republic of sorts, although if you didn’t like the current governor–doges they called them–you were denounced, tried, convicted, and imprisoned or executed in one day. Movers and shakers you bet. People were so afraid of appearing unhappy, that they sported smiles all day long. Hence, the expression, “As smiley as a Venetian.”

My family and I as we got off the water taxi that took us from the port to St. Mark’s square. We headed to our first event, a gondola ride. We took our time, enjoying the architecture. Inevitably with a family of four, some of us had to pee. Where were the public toilets? Where was Waldo? Where was Ameila Earhardt? Actually, we found Ms. Amelia, but the need for the toilets remained unabated. Indeed the pressure mounted. We did find a fancy hotel near the gondola ride. After making our donations, we went outside to find the place where we would show our vouchers. According to the maps, the gondola extravaganza was supposed to be only ten yards away.

As the crow flies. As the drunken crow flies. We crossed a bridge and went to the gondola kiosk. The sphinxes periodically manning the booth ignored us. We recrossed the bridge in search of a caring employee. Nothing. We crossed back to the booth. Nothing. We ended up going over that bridge six times before we found an employee who put a round orange sticker on our shirts. We were good to go.

We got in line. We had a good position even though the gondola guys had sold hundreds of tickets for our time slot. Actually this wasn’t true due to a cultural misunderstanding. In America, people generally stand behind the last person in line. In Venice and in the airport coming back, standing in line meant standing to the side of people in line, generally near the front. Soon a vast semi-circle sea of people stood around the gondolas pressing ever forward as if  trying to get into a Who concert.

Eventually we got on a gondola and began our bumper-to-bumper (prow-to-bow on a gondola?) tour of the back canals of Venice. Many power boats made deliveries on alcohol to the back entrances of various bars. Cool, actually.

After the ride, I had the clever idea of finding where our evening Vivaldi concert would be. Although the venue had St. Mark’s as part of its address, our consensus was to use GPS. GPS resolutely marched us to and around tiny alleys away from St. Marks. We came to an epiphany; GPS sucks in narrow alleys.

We did find a small pizzeria where authentic Chinese waitresses provided efficient and cheerful service. This restaurant might have had a restroom. We’ll never know. None of us felt brave enough to pass a shrieking toddler to look. Oh how, weak and naive we were.

But we were smart and experienced enough now to head back to St. Mark’s Square to find Saint Mark’s Cathedral. (By the way, twenty-four years earlier I had the good fortune to visit this square during the Carnival season. I saw many wonderful acts, many in Italian and some in English. I also did the Hokey Pokey with a bunch of Americans. My contribution was, “You put your left ear in. You put your left ear out…)

Anyway the biggest tourist attraction in Venice is St. Mark’s Cathedral, named after St. Mark. My family went there for a full mass on Saturday evening. Mass was in Italian, but the choir was from Britain and sang in English, which was cool. But no restroom. During mass, touring around the cathedral is forbidden. So is flash photography, at least in theory. Sitting is forbidden during the tourist hours. So, you can’t sit in a pew and look at spectacular mosaic in the ceiling. And there’s no public restroom inside.

After mass, we went outside to find our concert. My gosh, it was literally twenty yards away. There was a big sign saying, “Vivaldi Concert tonight.” Fuck you, GPS.

The concert was fantastic. We were in the second row, only fifteen feet away from the musicians. The concert hall had seats for only about forty people. The energy and the skill of the musicians, well oh my gosh they were great. And they played Vivaldi’s the Four Seasons, one of my favorites. (I had listened to Vivaldi’s Two Seasons a couple decades earlier from a slow-arriving herd of Parisian violinists. No comparison, these Venetian folks were the real McCoys.)

And the concert venue had a public toilet. Sure I had to clamber up a two-foot high step, but I had been toughened, and so it proved no obstacle at all.)

A great concert, two public toilet, and mass at one of the most famous cathedrals in the world, the day had been good.

Next day we stampeded the doge’s palace in St. Mark’s square. The doges had  lived there. It’s also where the nobility conducted the affairs of state. Venice was by the standards of its times, a rabid democracy. At first, nearly all the men could vote. Then sometime during the Middle Ages, the nobility in an admirable display of voter suppression struck all but a few thousand men from the voting rolls. The criminal justice system occurred in this building as well. With a strong Protestant work ethic, this Catholic government (the Reformation wouldn’t occur for centuries) heard, convicted, and sentenced people with assembly line efficiency.

Which they needed to do as they apparently had and still have, thank goodness, one public restroom. Would you want to spend hours uncovering quilt when you needed to pee. How did I know of this restroom? Twenty-four years earlier, I had toured the doge’s palace with a reasonably empty bladder. Only after leaving the palace did I look at my tour guide. It said, “Don’t forget to visit the public restroom at the palace. People restrooms are scarcer than hens’ teeth in St. Mark’s Square.” The tour book was right. A few hours later, I found myself wandering the Square saying, “A toilet! My American ExpressTM travellers checks for a toilet.” So this time I was able to comfortably whiz away while surrounded by centuries of history.

We then took our self-guided tour of St. Mark’s Cathedral. For love of God, Montressor, book your tickets in advance. Plate tectonics moves faster than lines at the Cathedral’s kiosks. The cathedral was as beautiful as it had been the previous day.

Our ticket to the doge palace gave our free entry to the city’s art museum. Let me tell you the energy spent railroading enemies of the state to their death did not diminish in the slightest the output of the land’s magnificent artists. Lots of busts of Napoleon, which was exciting for me as I am a direct descendant of his and it was nice to speculate how all this art and city could have been mine if only he had won the Battle of Waterloo.

Then tragedy struck. The men’s bathroom in the museum was, was . . . oh the humanity, was blocked of for cleaning. Well fuck. So we went outside to look for a public bathroom. We saw a sign for one. We did! We did!

We didn’t find it. We looked for hours. In desperation, we went into a restaurant. Number Two Son approached the proprietor*. The conversation remains burned in my brain.

“Do you have a restroom?” asked Number Two Son.

“Yes,” said the evil proprietor.

“May we use it?”

“No.”

“How about if we eat dinner here?”

“No.”

So we head back to the water-taxis with my bladder full as Boulder Dam after a rainy season. And there it was, Harry’s Bar! My gosh, the famous Harry’s Bar. Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, Orson Welles, Aristotle Onassis, and other luminaries used to get drunk here and it was quite all right. And carpaccio was invented here. Contessa Amalia Nania Mocenigo was told that for her health she had to give up cooked meat. The clever bar owner sliced sirloin steak as thin as possible drizzled a sauce made of mayonnaise, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, olive oil, and a soupçon of milk. A place fit for an exclamation point!

I went in to whizz. I asked to use the restroom. They answered politely and pointed the way. I expressed my gratitude after I came out. I said how excited I was to be at Harry’s Bar. They smiled and thanked me. We went back to our ship. A palace, an art museum, culinary history, and two public restrooms. Life was good.

* = Mediterranean is hard to spell. So is proprietor.

Paul De Lancey, Intrepid Explorer

 

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with 180 wonderful recipes is available on amazon.com. My newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, is also available on amazon.com

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Chicken and Hearts of Palm Pie

Brazilian Entree

CHICKEN AND HEARTS OF PALM PIE

INGREDIENTS – DOUGH

4 cups flour (3 tablespoons more later)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups lard or butter
1 egg

INGREDIENTS – FILLING

1½ pounds chicken breast
3 garlic cloves
1 large onion
1 pound hearts of palm
3 tomatoes
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons parsley
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt

INGREDIENTS – ASSEMBLY

2 tablespoons flour (1 more tablespoon flour later)
no-stick spray
1 tablespoon flour
1 egg yolk

SPECIAL UTENSIL

8″ x 8″ casserole dish
Serves 9. Takes 2 hours.

PREPARATION – DOUGH

Add 4 cups flour, baking powder, and salt to large mixing bowl. Blend together with whisk. Add lard and egg. Moosh together, or knead, with hands until dough is well blended. Separate dough into 2 balls. One ball should be almost twice as big as the smaller one. Cover dough balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

PREPARATION – FILING

While dough refrigerates, cut chicken breast into ½” cubes. Mince garlic cloves and onion. Dice heart of palm and tomatoes. Add garlic, onion, and vegetable oil to pan. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until garlic and onion soften. Stir frequently. Add chicken cubes. Sauté for 10 minutes or until chicken starts to brown. Stir frequently. Add hearts of palm, tomatoes, parsley, pepper, and salt. Sauté for 5 minutes at medium heat. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool for 30 minutes.

PREPARATION – ASSEMBLY

While filling cools. preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dust flat surface with 2 tablespoons flour. Flatten larger flour ball until you get a square that is 12″ wide or large enough to cover the bottom of the casserole both and its sides . Spray casserole dish with no-stick spray. Carefully place 12″ dough square into pie pan. Remove any dough hanging over the edge with a knife. Ladle filing into pie pan. Smooth filling with spoon.

Dust flat surface with 1 tablespoon flour. Flatten remaining, small dough ball until you get a square that is 8″ wide or large enough to cover the filling. Carefully place 8″ dough square on top of filling. Remove any dough hanging over the edge with a knife. Add egg yolk to small bowl. Beat egg yolk with whisk. Brush egg yolk onto top crust. Poke 4 holes crust with toothpick or fork. This will let steam escape. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

TIDBITS

1) Some stores carry hearts of palm.

2) Others do not.

3) Mine didn’t. When I went to pay for my groceries the checker asked, “Did you find everything you were looking for?” I answered no, I had been looking for hearts of palm.

4) The checker favored me with a deer in the headlights look.

5) They called over a box boy to help me look. He couldn’t find it. I think we were all happy when I left.

6) The same thing occurred even when I was looking for galangal, Thai basil, or dandelions.

7) Also, don’t even think of asking for a type of radish that is found only in Northwest China and then only occasionally.

8) So the next time the checkers ask you, “Did you find everything?” answer yes.

9) I know we thought the supermarkets had everything when we were little. But they don’t. It’s disillusioning I know.

10) Kinda like finding out Santa Claus didn’t exist.

11) Life is hard.

12) But I have bunnies living in my front yard and that’s way cool.

Chef Paulcookbookhunks

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with 180 wonderful recipes is available on amazon.com. My newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, is also available on amazon.com

Categories: cuisine, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Prawn Barbecue

Australian Entree

PRAWN BARBECUE

INGREDIENTS

2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons fresh parsley
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine
¾ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt or salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1½ pounds shelled-and-deveined extra-large shrimp* (16-to-20 per pound)
1 lemon (optional)

* = The terms prawn and shrimp are often used interchangeably. However, they are technically different having some unmemorable difference in their shells.

Serves 4. Takes 1 hour 15 minutes.

SPECIAL UTENSILS

outdoor grill
5 skewers

PREPARATION

Mince garlic and parsley. Add garlic, parsley, butter, olive oil, white wine, pepper, sea salt, lemon juice, and shrimp to large mixing bowl. Mix with hands until shrimp are well coated. Marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour.

10 minutes before marinating is done, heat outdoor grill to medium heat. Thread 6 shrimps onto each skewer. Cut lemon into 5 slices. Grill shrimp for 2 minutes or until it turns pink. Flip skewers over and grill the other side for 2 minutes or until it to is pink. Garnish with lemon slices. Goes well with rice, spinach,  avocado salad, and beer.

TIDBITS

1) Alexander the Great of Macedon invaded the Persian Empire. in 336 BC. This was okay as the previous year was 337 BC, although the people of the time didn’t know this. Alex was a complete foodie. Unfortunately. the menu of his kingdom, Macedon, consisted of 1,223 almost indistinguishable varieties of wheat and olive oil. So when he heard of prawn barbecues to be had in the Persian empire, he invaded. It transpired that the idea of prawn barbecues was story concocted by long suffering Greek chefs to get the ever harping food critic Alexander far away.

2) Alexander’s army thrashed the Persians at the battle of Granicus. Being an relatively young army– about the age of frat boys albeit ones with twenty-foot spears and trained be an unparalleled fighting machine–they repaired to the local tavern to eat and drink. The tavern’s cook, Bessyrus, knowing a little something of Macedonian cuisine offered Alexander and his troops bread drizzled with olive oil. Alexander became enraged, shouted, “I’m sick of bread and olive oil. Where’s the prawn barbecues?” and ran a spear through the tavern’s chef.

3) This still seems a little unfair. The chef knew nothing of the mythical prawn barbecue. In fact, culinary historians remain absolutely amazed that a cook over 2,000 years ago could make enough bread in one hour to feed 50,000 ravenous soldiers. Alexander’s mob headed to the town’s other eatery and asked for prawn barbecues. Fortunately, the synapses in this restaurant’s cook were firing particularly well. He said that there were prawn barbecues in Egypt. And off Alexander’s mob went dispatching another Persian army along the way.

4) Alexander asked the first Egyptian priest/chef he saw for a prawn barbecue. The priest/chef offered bread drizzled with honey. Alexander drew his sword. The quick thinking priest/chef mollified Alexander by declaring him to be a god. Alexander really liked the idea of being a god and strutted around for days saying, “Look at me, I’m a god. Wow, it’s really cool to be a god.” Anyway, Alexander was so smitten by the idea of his divinity, that he plum forgot to behead the priest/chef. The holy Egyptian chef, however, couldn’t help but dwell on his close call. :Hey, Alex,” he said one day, “there’s plenty of prawn barbecues in Persia.” And off Alexander’s army went.

5) The Macedonians utterly crushed the Persian King’s army at Guagamela. The surviving Persian nobles didn’t want Alexander staying around. Alexander was losing his head beheading them. “Hey Alex,” they said, “there’s prawn barbecues aplenty in India.” And off Alexander’s soldiers went.

6) Alexander’s force kicked hiney in India. But the story remained the same. Alexander the Great One didn’t care for the rajahs’ curry bread and offed one baker after another. “Hey, Alex,” the noble bakers said, “there’s oodles of prawn barbecues in Australia.” And off went Alexander.

7) Except this time, the Macedonian spearmen didn’t follow. They were sick of endless marching. Besides, they had discovered pistachios in Persia and really, really liked them. Why massacre entire cities for an alleged gourmet meal when you could munch on delicious, almost addictive pistachios?Alexander gave in. The Macedonian army would conquer no more. But the mutiny by his beloved army broke his heart. He died soon after. Ironically, the noble Indian bakers were right. There were prawn barbecues in Australia.

8) The Australian aborigines of that time loved shrimp (Same as prawns, remember?)  like no one has ever since. They’d eat 100 shrimp at a time. Of course, no one could barbecue 100 shrimp on the tiny skewers of today. Those hardy people fashioned wooden skewers out of trees. Unfortunately, the millions upon millions of Native Australians made so many long skewers that they totally deforested most of Australia. Shrimp barbecues became impossible. The crestfallen aborigines left Australia in outriggers to settle Hawaii.  They left behind petroglyphs of their enormous shrimp skewers.

9) In 1895, Baron de Courbertin saw these shrimp-skewer pictures. You and I would shrug them off, but the young baron’s mind came up with pole vaulting. His active mind would not rest until he found a way to showcase his new athletic event and so the Olympics were born. There you go.

Chef Paulcookbookhunks

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with 180 wonderful recipes is available on amazon.com. My newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, is also available on amazon.com

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Searching For Toilets: My Travels Through Europe

This book will be coming out on April 1st. Traveling around Europe is a lot like the cover. You can spend a lot of time looking for a public bathroom or even a restaurant with bathrooms for its customers. Yes, I’m looking at you Venice. But many Europeans cities are nearly as bad. And the restaurants and the cafes keeping wanting us to drink, yet they don’t let us pee there. And if you want water with your meal you have to pay for it. But be careful, where will you pee it out? Thank goodness for the U.S. of A. with toilets in every restaurant. USA! USA!

Paul De Lancey, Intrepid Traveler

 

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with 180 wonderful recipes is available on amazon.com. My newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, is also available on amazon.com

Categories: international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Grandma Anna’s Spritz Cookies

Swedish Dessert

GRANDMA ANNA’S SPRITZ COOKIES

INGREDIENTS

1 cup (2 sticks) butter*
⅔ cup sugar
3 egg yolks
2½ cups flour
1 tsp almond extract (optional)

SPECIAL UTENSILS

electric beater**
cookie gun, aka cookie press
2 cookie pans

* = This was also made with NucoaTM. It’s hard to imagine how fiercely devoted some people were to this margarine.

** = Grandma didn’t use an electric beater. She used a hand-held one. However, those beaters are mighty hard to find these days.

Makes 80 cookies. Takes 50 minutes.

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 360 degrees.  Add butter to large mixing bowl. Use beater set on high until butter is light and fluffy. Add sugar. Mix with beater until butter and sugar are well blended. Add 1 egg yolk at a time, blending each instance. Gradually add flour, mixing all the time. Add almond extract, if desired, and mix briefly with electric beater.

Grease cookie pan lightly with paper from butter. Choose a disk for the cookie gun. Add dough to cookie gun. (Follow instructions that come with cookie gun.) Use cookie gun to press out dough onto cookie pan. Be creative. Make whatever shape you want. (My grandma favored the letter s.) Bake at 360 degrees for 10 minutes or until cookies start to brown. You might have to cook in batches. Gently remove cookies from cookie pans using fork. Gently, gently, as some cookie shapes crumble easier than others.

TIDBITS

1) Why are there so many towns in the western America named after Sweden? Culinary historians hold it is because of the wondrously sturdy wheels the immigrant Swedes used in their covered wagons. While others used wooden spokes in their wagon wheels, the Swedes made theirs from spritz cookie dough. Egg yolks were much stronger back then, making for more durable spokes than ones made from wood. Indeed, chickens were buffer in the 1800s, being able to bench press a 200-pound man.

Chef Paulcookbookhunks

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with 180 wonderful recipes is available on amazon.com. My newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, is also available on amazon.com

Categories: cuisine, history, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Crab Rangoon

Chinese Appetizer

CRAB RANGOON

INGREDIENTS

1 garlic clove
1 green onion
½ pound canned crabmeat
1 egg
½ pound cream cheese (room temperature)
⅛ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
48 wonton wrappers
3 cups or enough vegetable oil for deep frying

SPECIAL UTENSIL

wok

Makes 48 wontons. Takes 1 hour 40 minutes.

PREPARATION

Mince garlic clove. Cut green onion into thin slices. Drain and flake crabmeat. Add egg to cup. Beat egg with whisk. Add garlic, green onion, crabmeat, cream cheese, pepper, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Use brush to moisten to edges of wonton wrapper with egg. Add 1-to-1½ teaspoons of crabmeat/cream cheese filling to center/upper half of wonton wrapper. Flatten mixture slightly with spoon. (Do not let mixture reach edges or bottom half.) Fold bottom corner of wrapper to top corner to form a triangle. Press down gently as you go. (This will squeeze out pockets of air.) Press down firmly on edges to seal wonton. Place completed wontons on plate and cover with thin, damp towel. (This will keep the completed wontons from drying out.)

Add enough oil to wok to cover wontons. Heat oil to medium-high heat. Oil is hot enough when a little bit of wonton wrapper will dance in it. Carefully ladle in wontons. Do not let wontons touch each other. (You probably will need to cook wontons in batches.) Deep fry for 45 seconds or until wontons turn golden brown on bottom. Turn wontons over and deep fry for another 45 seconds or until that side becomes golden brown. Remove wontons with slotted spoon and let drain on plate covered with paper towel. Goes well with sweet-and-sour and Chinese-mustard.

TIDBITS

1) The Northrop GrummanTM B-2 Bomber, is designed to penetrate deep into enemy airspace to deliver nuclear and conventional bombs, even in the teeth of formidable air-defense systems.

2) Speaking of teeth, did you know that the B-2 bomber’s design is based on the shape of the humble, yet tasty, crab rangoon? Yep.

Chef Paulcookbookhunks

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with 180 wonderful recipes is available on amazon.com. My newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, is also available on amazon.com

Categories: cuisine, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pastrmajlija, Macedonian Pizza

Macedonian Entree

PASTRMAJLIJA
(Macedonian Pizza)

INGREDIENTS

1¼ pounds pork chops, center cut or lamb
½ tablespoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon pepper
1½ cups flour (4 tablespoons more later)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
½ tablespoon yeast
1½ tablespoons milk
½ cup water, room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons flour (1½ tablespoons for each pizza)
4 tablespoons lard or butter (2 tablespoons for each pizza)
no-stick spray.
2 eggs

SPECIAL UTENSILS

bread maker (optional)
baking sheet
x-ray vision

Makes 2 small pizzas. Takes 2 hours.

PREPARATION

Cut pork into ½” cubes. Add pork cubes, cayenne pepper, and pepper to mixing bowl. Toss pork cubes until well coated. Put in refrigerator and let marinate for 1 hour or until is ready to have meat put on it.

While pork marinates, add salt, sugar, yeast, and milk to a large, 2nd mixing bowl. Mix with fork until thoroughly blended. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add 1½ cups flour. Mix with fork until thoroughly blended. Gradually add water. Mix with fork each water gets added. Dough should be soft and pliable. Knead dough for 10 minutes or put in bread machine for 10 minutes on dough setting. (There’s a tiny ant crawling over my monitor as I am typing this. It can’t wait for the recipe.)

Add olive oil to 3rd mixing bowl. Spread oil over the bowl. Add kneaded dough to this mixing bowl. Turn dough until it is well coated with oil. Cover for 40 minutes or until dough doubles in size. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Divide risen dough ball into 2 balls. Dust flat surface with 2 tablespoons flour. Add 1 dough ball to flat surface. Flatten dough ball with rolling pin, can, or hand until it is a ¼” thick oval about 9″ by 7″. Use spatula to smooth 2 tablespoon lard over dough oval. Add half of the pork cubes to the dough leaving a 1½” edge all around. Fold edges inward until they almost touch the pork. Repeat to make 2nd pizza.

Spray baking sheet with no-stick spray. Add pizzas to baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes or until dough is done to your liking and pork is no longer pink inside. (X-ray vision helps a lot with this. If you don’t have x-ray vision and let’s face it it’s not possible everything to make every recipe, you make remove a pork cube and cut it open.)

While pizzas bake, add eggs to small bowl. Beat eggs with whisk or fork. Take baking sheet out of oven. Brush edges of pizzas with egg. Ladle the remaining egg over the pizza’s pork centers. Bake for 5 minutes over egg is cooked to your liking.

TIDBITS

1) Pastrmajlija tastes fantastic hot of the oven. Like all pizzas it still tastes great the second day. Very good the third day. Good the fourth day. Okay the fifth day, and highly edible the sixth day. And on the seventh it gets so hard that you could use it in your garden as a stepping stone.

2) Many have done so. See, the June 1985, edition of Better Homes and GardensTM for the definitive article on this subject.

3) Dried out, hardened Macedonian pizzas buckle and crack under the weight of a semi truck. This is one reason America’s freeways use concrete instead. However, properly dried-out Macedonian pizzas (MPs) will sustain the weight of people, cattle, and wagons.

4) Indeed, the great Cumberland Pike Road, built 1811-1837, was to have been constructed with MPs. After all, the fabled Roman roads were built with MPs. Unfortunately in 1809, the Federal Government clashed with the project’s culinary engineer, Alexander Cleitus, over the materials for the pike. President Madison, had a delicate stomach and couldn’t handle cayenne pepper. So he hated MP and demanded dried-out Italian pizzas (IPs). Cleitus refused. Madison insisted. Cleitus said, “It’s my way or the highway.” “Na, na, na, poo, poo,” said President Madison, “it’s my funds. It’s my highway. You’re on your way.”

5) The project languished for two years while President Madison searched for other culinary engineers. He did manage to hire the famed Alfonso Linguini from Sorrento, Italy. However, Linguini used too much oregano for Madison’s liking. Not only that, his round pizzas wouldn’t fit together neatly like the rectangular Macedonian pizzas. Signore Linguini was so fired.

6) After that, no culinary engineer would touch the Cumberland Pike Project. It looked like the lands to the west would never be opened up to settlers and commerce. America seemed doomed to hug the Atlantic Coast forever.

7) Then Secretary of the Treasury, Benedict Cumberland, suggested hiring a civil engineer instead. “What a great idea!” said everybody. And so, John Loudon McAdam was hired to complete the turnpike. His macadam roads so revolutionized travel that no one considered using pizzas as materials ever again.

Chef Paulcookbookhunks

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with 180 wonderful recipes is available on amazon.com. My newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, is also available on amazon.com

Categories: cuisine, history, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Affogato, Italian Ice Cream Coffee

Italian Dessert

AFFOGATO

INGREDIENTS

2 cups hot espresso or hot and very strong coffee*
2 scoops vanilla ice cream*

* = There’s only two ingredients here. Higher quality ingredients will show up more than in other recipes. Also, there’s a lot of leeway. The size of your glass or cup and ice-cream scoop can vary a lot. Frequent research will reveal your optimal amounts. Excelsior!

Serves 4. Takes 2 minutes (Plus any time to brew the espresso.)

SPECIAL UTENSILS

4 narrow juice glasses or other glasses you might have. I mean how easy is it to find espresso glasses near you? And if no one’s looking, a Minnie MouseTM coffee mug will do just fine. Of course, a Minnie Mouse espresso glass would be better. The culinary world is fraught with perilous decisions.

PREPARATION

Put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in each glass. Pour hot espresso over ice cream.

TIDBITS

1) “Affogato” is a condensed version of the phrase “(A fog, a to)mato.” Actually, it’s short for “(A f)rigging (fog, a to)mato”

2) Italy experienced tumultuous–There are four “u”s in that word. Remember that for ScrabbleTM- times in 1968. The oafish Soviet led Warsaw Pact invaded nearby Czechoslovakia. Communist provoked student riots erupted up and down the Italian peninsula. It seemed inevitable that Italy would go communist and fall under Russian domination.

3) Remember the fogs of 1968. Over and over, drivers racing high-performance cars through Italy’s mountain passes experienced massive car pileups when fogs descended with stunning quickness. When the fogs lifted, inspectors would wrecked cars along with a single red tomato, the symbol of Italy’s communist party.

4) Italy teetered. But once aroused, its leaders acted decisively. By law, all Italian tomatoes had to be made into pasta sauce. This decree left no tomatoes for Italy’s Communist party. Deprived of their symbolic flourish at car-crash sites, they lost all interest in the people’s revolution thing and went out to restaurants to sample all the new exciting pasta sauces. Italy has been at peace ever since.

Chef Paulcookbookhunks

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with 180 wonderful recipes is available on amazon.com. My newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, is also available on amazon.com

Categories: cuisine, history, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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