As American As: Oysters

Oyster Loaf | La Mediatrice

It’s amusing to read historical recipes and observe how the perception of foods changes over time. At first, all those stories about delicacies we highly value today being served as dog or prison food in old times seem shocking and funny. On the second thought, it’s logical. It’s in human nature to praise what is not easily available and disregard what is more abundant. Oysters are different. “There were always oysters, and there were those to praise them.” Are oysters to be admired forever?

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Steamed Buns: Liu Sha Bao | Golden Lava Buns

Golden Lava Steamed Buns

They were one of the most exciting dim sum items I ever tasted in Singapore — you make a bite and watch how hot golden lava slowly flows out. That lava is an unusual custard based on salted duck egg yolks and condensed milk. Steamed buns are served hot with hot green tea. They are addictive for those who crave for rich milk and egg flavors, creamy and fluffy textures, and a delicate, sweet and salty balance.

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Dumplings: Vareniky with Black and Red Currants

Red and Black Currants Dumplings

I don’t have an explanation why we’ve never made dumplings with red and black currants at home. My Mom used to add currents to the sauce, but never fill dumplings with them. It’s funny that I am tasting this well known version of Ukrainian varenyki only now, so far from home, in Texas, where currants are exotic! I asked myself why dumplings with tart cherries and currants are so popular in Eastern European countries. I think, the key is the intensity of sweet and sour flavors rounded with soft dough and a little bit of cream or butter. Many other fruit and berries change its flavor when cooked, but tart cherries and currants keep it well and tease our taste buds with every bite!

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Layered Bread: Qatlama Patir Non

Kyatlama

The name of this famous Uzbek layered bread is similar to some other breads of Middle East, but it’s different. It can be made with unleavened or leavened dough, with melted lamb (tail) fat or with melted butter. It’s soft, flaky, and crunchy at the same time. If lamb fat is used, it adds additional flavor.

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Korovai

Korovai

Korovai is a traditional Ukrainian bread baked for weddings and anniversaries. Like in many other Eastern-European cuisines, it symbolizes family union. The recipes and decorations vary from region to region and depend on occasion. See recipe notes for more information.

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Romantic Breakfast: Smoked Fish Benedict

Smoked Fish Benedict

Eggs Benedict is an American breakfast dish — two halves of English muffin, a slice of ham or bacon, and a poached egg are served with hollandaise sauce. There are many variations on the basic recipe. The one I use in my Romantic Breakfast: Mastering Eggs Recipes cooking class comes from the Two for Tonight: Pure Romance from L’Auberge Chez François cookbook. It belongs to Alsatian cuisine, which combines the rustic simplicity of neighboring Germany and French finesse. My version below is adopted to our locally available ingredients. I use smokey reduced cream sauce with vegetables instead of Hollandaise.

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Flat Bread Stuffed with Greens and Feta

Flat Bread Stuffed with Greens and Feta

This recipe/variation is based on Zhengyalov Hats, a specialty of Karabakh region in Armenia. “The main purpose of its preparation is to unite once again to make a family meal together, to talk about all pressing matters, to exchange news.” To make Zhengyalov Hats, unleavened dough is rolled as thin as paper, stuffed with a mixture of 10-20 different varieties of wild and garden chopped ​​greens, and cooked on hot saj. It is very important to create a well-balanced mix of greens and herbs. Cheese and fried onions are sometimes added.

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Badambura, Almond Puff Pastry

Badambura

Badambura means almond (badam) pie (bura). It belongs to Azerbaijani cuisine, one of the cuisines of the Caucasus. This multylayered pastry is filled with almonds meal, sugar, and ground cardamom. Badambura is usually prepared for the spring holiday Novruz, but can be enjoyed all throughout the year.

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Aebleskiver

Ableskivers

“Katya, it’s too early to make them! Danes would think you are crazy…” laughed my friend from Denmark, when I shared a picture on Facebook. A Christmas treat in Denmark, this wonderful pancakes can be enjoyed any time of the year in Texas, I say! Æbleskiver (appleskives) are traditional Danish pancakes. The name in Danish means “apple slices.” But because they are spherical, it make more sense to me to think about them as pancakes in a shape of an apple.

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