Posts tagged New World
Lecsó and "Lecsó Shakshuka"

It’s mid-August, people. When and how exactly did that happen? Out here in the ‘burbs (also known as my parent’s house north of NYC), my mom is reaping the benefits of her vegetable garden. Kale is ready to be cut, eggplants shine in the summer-sun, basil plants are knee-high, and, somehow, there is a new zucchini on the vine each time you blink. Wasn’t it just a moment ago that the farmers’ market was brimming with spring’s sugar snap peas, asparagus, and strawberries? This morning, it was overflowing with the high-summer harvest: beans, corn, summer-squash, peppers of all colors and kinds, and tomatoes, tomatoes, and more tomatoes.

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Benne Wafers: A Sweet South Carolina Staple with West African Roots

The first time I visited Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding coastal region known as the Low Country, it was hot. Really, really hot. Thankfully, every little inn and shop had a gracious shaded porch, lazily spinning ceiling fans, and icy pitchers of sweet tea to help Northern tourists like me avoid succumbing to heat stroke. Alongside so many sweating pitchers of iced-tea and lemonade often stood a plate piled with thin, humble-looking little cookies—the kind that don’t usually tempt me, since they aren’t brimming with chocolate chunks or peanut butter gobs, or caramel. Not interested, at first, I passed on the first few plates of the drab little cookies, but they had an unusual name, and I kept seeing them all over town. So, ultimately, intrigued, I had to try them. I discovered that they were delightful: crispy, light, buttery, and caramelized, with a satisfying little chew owing to their star ingredient, sesame seeds. Over the remainder of my visit, I downed more of these little cookies than was probably called for, and I decided to find out a bit more about them and their unfamiliar name, benne wafers.

It turns out benne wafers tell an interesting story which starts long ago, and far away:

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Frogmore Stew

Frogmore Stew contains no frogs. Actually, it isn’t really a stew either. It is one of the beloved recipes in the category of recipes known as Low country cuisine, the food local to South Carolina’s coastal towns and cities and the bit of coastline south of Savannah, Georgia. Also called a Low Country boil, Frogmore Stew showcases the seafood of the region, and, although it has a grandiose name, it’s simple to prepare. 

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Lemon Strawberry Charlotte

This week’s recipe was supposed to be easy. Especially for me. I’m a trained pastry chef. I’ve made puff pastry, croissants, petit fours, sugar showpieces, and wedding cakes. For this week’s recipe, all I had to do was open some pre-packaged ingredients, do a little stirring, and stick a pan in the fridge to chill, and voila!, I would have a beautiful, refreshing, delicious cake to write about for my blog.

Things didn’t quite go as planned. First off, there was the weather issue. Next, the pre-packaged ingredients weren’t so easy to come by. And then there was the problem of the eggs. Here’s what happened, starting from the beginning:

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Palacsinta (Hungarian Crêpes) with Sweet Cheese and Caramelized Rhubarb

This week’s post is inspired by the Jewish holiday Shavuot, which, this year begins at sundown on Saturday, May 23rd and ends at sundown on Monday, May 25th. For Jews, Shavuot is a spring festival with both historical and agricultural significance. Often remembered as The Festival of The Torah, it celebrates the giving of the Torah (the Jewish Bible) at Mount Sinai. Sometimes referred to as Feast of The First Fruits, Shavuot also celebrates the harvest of the season’s first fruits and grains. To observe Shavuot, Jews are not required to perform any or rituals or attend a particular type of service; only festive meals and celebration are called for.

Some have nicknamed Shavuot “the cheesecake holiday”, because it has become customary for Jews of all kinds to celebrate Shavuot by eating foods featuring dairy. Why dairy?

 

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