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Multi-cultural Recipes

The course Our Food: Immigrant, Ethnic and American explores the convergence of the foodways from many immigrant cultures. Here are some recipes that reflect the blending of cultures.

Mexican:
   Refried Beans

African American:
   Collard Greens with Ham Hock
   Spicy Southern Black-eyed Peas

Hmong:
   Chicken and Bean Sprout Salad
   Stir-fried Baby Bok Choy with Pork 

Scandinavia:  
   Potato Pancakes
   Norwegian Fish Fillets in Cream Sauce
   Swedish Cheesecake

China:
   Chop Suey
   Pork Fried Rice

 Cuba:
   Cuban Black Beans

Germany:
   Spätzle
   Sauerbraten

Canada:
   Poutine
   Bannock
   The Original Nanaimo Bar

Greece:
   Tzatziki
   Patatosalata

Ireland:
   Dublin Coddle
   Irish Soda Bread

Hungary:
   Chicken Paprikas

Chowder: an American Food for the Centuries
   New England Fish Chowder
 

Mexican Cuisine

Mexican food incorporates the indigenous foods of the New World, such as corn, chili peppers, tomatoes, chocolate, vanilla, avocado, guava, papaya, pineapple, jicama, beans, squash, sweet potato, peanut, fish, and turkey, with the imported diet of the Spanish conquistadores, including rice, beef, pork, chicken, wine, garlic, and onions.

While most of today's dishes are based on the ancient traditions of the Aztecs and the Maya, they are combined in spectacular ways with culinary trends introduced by Spanish colonists. Other influences include the French occupation and its baked goods, and a minor Asian influence due to the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade, which lasted from 1565 to 1815. In small villages throughout the country, other native ingredients such as iguana, rattlesnake, deer, spider monkey, grasshoppers, ant eggs, and other insects are cooked in the Aztec or Mayan style.

According to Wikipedia.com, a distinction must be made between truly authentic Mexican food and "Tex Mex" cuisine, which is a term that describes the regional American cuisine of Texas and the Southwestern United States. Tex Mex blends food products available in the U.S. and the culinary creations of Mexican-Americans influenced by the cuisines of Mexico. Tex-Mex food is characterized by the heavy use of melted cheese, meat (particularly beef), beans, and spices, in addition to Mexican tortillas, and includes such widely popular dishes as chili con carne, chili con queso, chili gravy, and fajitas. The following primer provides a taste of Mexican flavors.

Tacos: A traditional Mexican dish composed of a corn tortilla folded or rolled around a vegetable, meat, fish, or poultry filling, which can be as diverse as the imagination. Generally eaten out of hand, a taco is often accompanied by a salsa and vegetables such as cilantro, onion, cabbage, tomato, or lettuce.

Ceviche: A form of citrus-marinated seafood appetizer. Lemons and limes are the most common citrus used. Traditional style ceviche marinates up to 3 hours; modern ceviche usually has a short marination period. Shrimp, octopus, squid, tuna, and mackerel are popular bases for Mexican ceviche. Marinade ingredients include salt, lemon, onion, chile, avocado, coriander, parsley, and tomatoes.

Carne Asada: A roasted beef dish consisting of pieces or thin cuts of beef, sometimes marinated, sometimes lightly salted or rubbed with salt, pepper, and spices, then grilled. It can be eaten alone, with side dishes, chopped and eaten as tacos, or chopped and used as filler for tortas, burritos, etc. Source: Wikipedia.com

Refried Beans: A Common Side with Mexican and Tex-Mex Dishes

Ingredients:

1 pound dried pinto beans, soaked overnight then drained
1 quart water
½ pound Mexican chorizo sausage
¼ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ cup chopped fresh coriander
¼ cup freshly rendered lard
1 cup white cheese, grated (Mexican or Jack cheese)
½ cup chopped pork cracklings
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Place the soaked and drained beans in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and add 1 quart of water. Simmer, covered, until they can be mashed with a potato masher, about 45 minutes. You may have to add more water. Don’t make them mushy.

  2. In the meantime, pan-fry the chorizo and set it aside.

  3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the garlic, onion, and cumin seeds. Add the rest of the ingredients to the mashed beans and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes.

Source: Jeff Smith. The Frugal Gourmet On Our Immigrant Ancestors: Recipes You Should Have Gotten from Your Grandmother. William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1990. Page 320.

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African American Cuisine

Historically, African American cuisine is the food of the black southern kitchen, originally prepared by slave hands from the "make do" ingredients available to them. Dubbed "soul food" in the 1960s, this cuisine is rich in flavor and tasty through spice and technique. According to wikipedia.com, popular vegetables were the throwaway items from the plantation kitchen, including the tops of turnips, beets and dandelions, locally planted and harvested collards, kale, cress, mustard, and pokeweed, all enhanced by onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and slow cooking. African American cooks often creatively incorporated the leftover parts of the farm animal, primarily the pig, including pigs' feet, ham hocks, chitterlings, pig ears, hog jowls, tripe and skin. Local fish, shellfish, and wild game also appeared on the table. With little waste in the southern kitchen, inventive cooks found uses for leftover fish, which became croquettes, stale bread, which became bread pudding, and extra cornmeal, which was stirred with milk, an egg, a few other ingredients, and became hushpuppies. Frying is a common cooking technique.

Some scholars claim that soul food is essentially southern country cooking with a twist -- the African American version tends to be more intensely spiced than similar dishes from European American descendants. It is also important to note that Native Americans influenced the ingredients on the southern table, with cultivated beans, strawberries, corn (which includes such southern staples as hominy and grits), and chili peppers. Source: Wikipedia.com

The following recipes provide a taste of African American cuisine.

Collard Greens with Ham Hock

Ingredients:

4-6 bunches of collard greens, cleaned and steamed
5 slices of bacon
1 smoked ham hock
1 large chopped onion
seasoning salt to taste
1 bunch green onions
black pepper to taste
7 cups of water

Instructions:

  1. Lay collard greens on top of each other, no more than 4 at a time, roll like a cigar, then cut in half with a knife. Cut even smaller if you have large leaves.

  2. Line the bottom of a large stock pot with bacon. Cook on medium heat until done, rendering as much bacon grease as possible.

  3. Add the water to the stock pot and the grease and bring it to a boil.

  4. Add half of the chopped onion, the ham hock, pepper, and salt to taste. Let mixture boil for 10 minutes.

  5. Add the collard greens, the other half of the chopped onion, and more salt and pepper to taste.

  6. Rapidly boil for 45 minutes. Reduce heat and let simmer for 4-6 hours.

  7. Serve with green onions.

Source: www.soulfoodcookbook.com

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Spicy Southern Black-eyed Peas

Ingredients:

1 pound dried black-eyed peas
4 ounces salt pork, rind removed, diced, or thick bacon or hog jowl, diced
1 cup chopped onion
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 cups diced cooked ham
2 ribs celery, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon Creole or Cajun seasoning mixture
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon pepper
ground hot pepper, optional, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Soak the black-eyed peas overnight or cover with water, boil for 2 minutes, then let stand for one hour. Drain.

  2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, sauté the diced salt port with onion until onion is browned.

  3. Combine salt pork and onions with the drained peas and remaining ingredients, add water to cover. Simmer for 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours, or until tender, checking and adding more water if necessary. Taste and adjust seasonings.

  4. Serve with hot boiled rice, spinach or other greens, and freshly baked cornbread.

Source: http://southernfood.about.com

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Hmong Cuisine

According to Wikipedia.com, the cuisine of the Hmong people is unique, but has Lao, Thai, and Chinese influences. The staple food is white rice, usually eaten with a variety of vegetables, hot pepper, and boiled or fried meat. Common spices and herbs include hot pepper, lemongrass, cilantro, garlic, green onion, mint, and ginger. Fish sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and hoisin sauce are also frequently used. Many Hmong are lactose intolerant; fresh milk and dairy products are typically unavailable in their Asian homelands.

A number of frequently used Hmong herbs are not available for sale in any store in America. They are grown in small backyard plots and on the patios and windowsills of most Hmong homes.

The following recipes provide a taste of Hmong cuisine.

Chicken and Bean Sprout Salad

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken breast, remove skin and fat
1 stalk of lemon grass
several Thai basil leaves
4 cups bean sprouts
4 green onions
juice of one lime
salt
MSG (optional)
2 quarts boiling water.

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the chicken: Pull off the hard outer leaves of the lemon grass and cut away the root and the top 2 inches of the leaves. Add lemon grass to boiling water. You may have to tie it in a knot to get it in the pot. Add the basil and season to taste with salt. Add the chicken meat to the pot and allow the chicken to cook gently until cooked all the way through, about 15 minutes.

  2. Prepare and mix the salad: Remove the chicken from the stock and place it in a large mixing bowl. Strain the broth, and save some of it to moisten the salad. When the chicken is completely cool, shred the meat with your hands. Wash the bean sprouts. Wash and chop the green onion. Chop the cilantro. Mix all together, adding salt and MSG to taste.

  3. Squeeze the juice of one lime over the mixture and a little of the reserved broth over the salad and mix again. Serves 6.

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Stir-fried Baby Bok Choy with Pork

Ingredients:

½ pound pork belly
1 bunch of baby bok choy (about 10 small heads)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 chicken bouillon cube (Asian style preferred)

Instructions:

  1. Cut the pork belly slab into 1 by 1/8 inch pieces and set aside.

  2. Carefully wash the bok choy, pulling each leaf off of the head. Cut each leaf in two, from tip to stem. Drain on paper towels.

  3. Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. Add the pork, salt, and the bouillon cube. Stir fry about 10 minutes. Add the bok choy and stir fry about 5 more minutes.

  4. The dish is done when the meat is cooked, the bok choy leaves are limp, the stems are still a little crispy, and a glossy glaze covers it all.

  5. Serve hot accompanied by fluffy jasmine rice. Serves 6.

Source: “Cooking from the Heart: The Hmong Kitchen in America” at www.hmongcooking.com/recipes/

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Scandinavian Cuisine

According to Alice B. Johnson in The Complete Scandinavian Cookbook, the five Scandinavian countries -- Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland -- are closely aligned by language, political history, customs, religion, character, ways of living, and food traditions. Johnson states, “The Nordic race was and is a strong, hardy race, and its diet is a hearty one, a diet of the fields, the forest, and the sea. Fruit, wild berries, vegetables, whole and refine grains, meat, game and fowl (wild as well as domesticated), a great deal of fish, and dairy products, particularly cheese, form an important part of the Scandinavian diet” (x). French influences were introduced to the Scandinavian food scene in the 19th century, which added a delicacy previously unknown in this hearty fare.

The smorgasbord, for example, is famous throughout the region. In Swedish, the word smorgasbord means “butter and bread table” or “sandwich board.” In Norway, it is called a “koldtbord” or “kaldbord,” meaning “cold table,” which could be appetizers or snacks but more often means a table of substantial and elaborate dishes, some of them hot. In Denmark, the “koldtbord” or “smorrebrod” is a variety of complex open sandwiches. In Finland, the same type of spread is called a “voileipapoyta.” In Iceland, it is a “kaltbord.” (xiii)

The following recipes are a few examples of Scandinavian cuisine.
 

Potato Pancakes

Dozens of variations of the potato pancake are served throughout Scandinavia. This version is delicious.

Ingredients:

8 medium baking potatoes, pared and coarsely shredded
½ cup flour
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ pound thick sliced bacon
Lingonberries or cranberries

Instructions:

  1. Rinse potatoes in cold water and drain well. Place in a large bowl and mix in the flour, chives, milk, egg, salt, and pepper.

  2. In a heavy, preferably nonstick skillet, over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon slices from the skillet and drain. Hold the bacon on paper towels until ready to use. Spoon all but 2 teaspoons of the bacon fat from the skillet.

  3. Place the skillet over medium heat and spoon about ¼ cup of the potato mixture into the pan and flatten slightly to make a pancake. Cook until golden and crisp, about 3 or 4 minutes, on each side. Repeat this procedure with remaining batter. Keep cooked pancakes warm until ready to serve.

  4. Serve with the crisp bacon on top and lingonberries or cranberries on the side.

Source: Beatrice Ojakangas. Scandinavian Feasts. Stewart, Tabori & Chang. 1992. Pg 21.

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Norwegian Fish Fillets in Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

8 fish fillets
½ lb mushrooms
2 cups cream
4 egg yolks
2 lobsters
sherry

Instructions:

  1. Roll fish fillets and tie with string. Cook 8 minutes in fish stock

  2. Simmer mushrooms in butter, stir in 2 tbsp flour, and add 1 cup fish stock. Add cream and slightly beaten egg yolks mixed together.

  3. Remove meat from boiled lobsters and add to cream sauce in small cubes.

  4. Add a little sherry and pour around cooked fish fillets.

  5. Makes 8 servings.

Source: Alice B. Johnson. The Complete Scandinavian Cookbook. The MacMillan Company. 1964.

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Swedish Cheesecake

Ingredients:

1 30-ounce carton ricotta cheese, about 3 ½ cups
½ cup flour
¼ cup lemon juice
4 eggs
¼ cup sugar
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
½ cup finely chopped almonds

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, flour, lemon juice, eggs, sugar and cream. Mix with a whisk until well blended. Add the almonds. Turn into a lightly grease 2 quart baking dish.

  3. Bake for 1 hour, or until the cake is set. Remove from the oven. Serve while still slightly warm or at room temperature. Cut into squares or wedges to serve.

  4. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Source: Beatrice Ojakangas. Scandinavian Feasts. Stewart, Tabori & Chang. 1992. Pg 107

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Chinese Cuisine

Chinese food has a long and checkered history on American soil. According to Wikipedia, in the 19th century, Chinese cooks catered to Chinese laborers, then began to establish restaurants in towns where Chinese food was completely unknown. These restaurant workers adapted to using local ingredients, substituting easily obtained vegetables and meats when authentic ingredients were unavailable. and spice levels to their customers' tastes (the truly fiery cuisine of southern China is generally too strong for American tastes). Thus, these restaurants created certain dishes for American customers that are not common in Chinese cuisine. American Chinese food tends to be meat-centric with a small percentage of vegetables included, while authentic Chinese tends toward a balance of meat and vegetables. For example, batter fried meats, common in such dishes as sesame chicken, lemon chicken, orange chicken, sweet and sour pork, and General Tso's chicken, only appear occasionally in the native dishes of Hunan Province, which use lighter sauces and fewer sweet ingredients.

In most dishes in Chinese cuisine, food is prepared in bite-sized pieces because the Chinese traditionally considered using knives and forks at the table to be barbaric since these implements are regarded as weapons. It was also considered ungracious to have guests work at cutting their own food. Fish are served whole to emphasize freshness. Chicken is cut into pieces, and all parts of the chicken are served, including gizzards and head in order to signify completeness. Pork is the preferred meat in most of China, with beef and lamb appearing more frequently in the south and in the north, respectively.

The following recipes provide a small taste of distinctly American Chinese flavors.

Chop Suey (connotes "leftovers" in Chinese)

Ingredients:

¼ cup shortening
1 ½ cups diced pork loin
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup hot water
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 14.5 ounce can bean sprouts, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup cold water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar

Instructions:

  1. Heat shortening in a large, deep skillet. Sear pork until it turns white, then add onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add celery, hot water, salt and pepper. Cover skillet and simmer for 5 minutes. Add sprouts and heat to boiling.

  2. In a small bowl, combine the cold water, cornstarch, soy sauce and sugar. Mix together and add to skillet mixture. Cook for 5 minutes, or until thickened to taste.

  3. Serve over hot rice, topped with chow mein noodles and soy sauce, if desired.

Source: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Chop-Suey/Detail.aspx

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Pork Fried Rice (a frugal dish that uses leftover rice in a tasty way)

Ingredients:

1 6 ounce boneless pork loin chop, cut into ½ inch pieces
¼ cup finely chopped carrot
¼ cup chopped fresh broccoli
¼ cup frozen peas
1 green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg, beaten
1 cup cold, cooked long-grain rice
4 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet, sauté the pork, carrot, broccoli, peas and onion in butter until pork is no longer pink. Remove from skillet and set aside.

  2. In same skillet, cook and stir egg over medium heat until completely set. Stir in rice, soy sauce, garlic powder, ginger and pork mixture; heat through.

You can substitute any meat for the pork, and any mix of vegetables desired.

Source: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Pork-Fried-Rice/Detail.aspx

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German Cuisine

According to Wikipedia.com, like most countries, German food is regional cuisine, and varies dramatically across the country. Pork, beef, and poultry are the most popular meats consumed, with pork outnumbering the others by a substantial amount. Meat is often pot-roasted or pan fried, with more than 1500 varieties of sausage. Trout is the most common freshwater fish. Vegetables, often eaten in stews or vegetable soups, include carrots, turnips, spinach, peas, beans, and many types of cabbage. Potatoes are a major part of the diet, and asparagus, especially white asparagus, is a popular side dish in season. Noodles, such as the spätzle from the southwestern region, are common, and are usually thicker than Italian pasta and often contain egg yolk. Common flavorings include assertive flavors, like mustard, horseradish, black pepper, juniper berries and caraway. German bread usually combines wheat and rye flour, as well as wholemeal and seeds, and is an integral part of the diet. About 6,000 types of breads and approximately 1,200 different types of pastry and rolls are produced for sale in Germany. Known for its beers, wine and coffee are also popular drinks in Germany.

The following recipes provide a small taste of distinctly German flavors.

Spätzle

Ingredients:

3 cups flour
4 eggs
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1-2 teaspoons salt
1 quart cold water

Instructions:

  1. Stir flour, eggs, salt, and ½ cup of water. Beat until batter is smooth and no longer adheres to the spoon. Add water as needed. The dough can be firm enough to be rolled and cut into slivers or soft enough to be forced through a sieve, colander, or späetzle-maker with large holes.

  2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. If you have a späetzle press, press the dough through the press and into the boiling water. If you do not have a press, place dough on cutting board and roll out. Cut dough into tiny noodles. Add noodles to boiling water. They cook quickly and are done when they float back to the surface. As the noodles finish cooking, remove them with a slotted spoon.

  3. You can sauté the noodles in a tablespoon of butter before serving. Other suggestions: serve with a brown gravy or beef stock.

Source: http://recipesbycindy.homestead.com/

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Sauerbraten

Ingredients: (originally made with venison, I prefer beef)

4 lb beef rump or sirloin tip
1 ½ cups vinegar
1 cup dry red wine
¾ cup water
3 medium onions, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
10 whole peppercorns
10 whole cloves
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
flour
3 tablespoons oil

Gravy:

3 cups drippings plus strained marinade
5 tablespoons flour
5 tablespoons ginger snap crumbs

Instructions:

  1. Place meat in a large plastic bag. In a large bowl, thoroughly combine vinegar, wine, water, onions, celery, carrots, pepper, cloves, bay leaves, sugar and salt; pour over meat. Seal bag tightly and lay flat in a 9” x 13” pan. Refrigerate 2-3 days, turning bag each day. (For stronger sauerbraten, let marinate for 4 days.)

  2. When ready to cook, remove meat, saving marinade, and dry well. Rub the surface lightly with flour. In a Dutch oven, heat oil and slowly brown the meat well on all sides. Add 1 cup of the marinade liquid plus some of the vegetables and bay leaves. Cover tightly and simmer on surface heat or in a preheated 350°F oven for 3 to 4 hours until the meat is fork tender. If needed, add more marinade during the cooking time to keep at least ½ inch liquid in the Dutch oven. Remove the meat and keep warm until ready to slice.

  3. Into a large measuring cup, strain the drippings. Add several ice cubes and let stand for a few minutes until the fat separates out. Remove the fat, then make the gravy.

  4. For gravy, combine the ingredients in the Dutch oven, stirring and cooking for about 5 minutes over medium heat until the gravy has thickened. Taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary. This makes about 3 cups of gravy. Number of servings: 8. Serve with noodles, rice, or potatoes.

Source: http://recipesbycindy.homestead.com/

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Canadian Cuisine

According to Wikipedia.com, Canadian cuisine varies widely from region to region, depending on the influences of the many immigrant groups that settled the continent. In English Canada, the food is closely related to British and American cuisine. In French Canada, the food has evolved from French cuisine and the foodways of the fur traders. In the western provinces, the food has been heavily influenced by German, Ukrainian, Polish, and Scandinavian immigrants. These groups have all depended heavily on seasonal, fresh ingredients and preserves. The cuisine of the Arctic and the Canadian Territories has depended on wild game and Inuit and First Nations cooking methods.

The following recipes provide a small taste of distinctly Canadian flavors.

Poutine

A quintessential comfort food from the 1950s most common in Quebec but available in restaurants and fast food joints across the continent, this dish consists of French fries topped with fresh cheese curds, covered with brown BBQ chicken gravy and sometimes other additional ingredients. The freshness of the curds matters in allowing the cheese to soften under the hot gravy without completely melting. Source: Wikipedia.com

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Bannock

Native Americans and particularly the Métis in western Canada and the northern Great Plains in the U.S. adopted this Scottish oat scone bread into their cuisine in the 18th and 19th centuries because it was easy to make on the trail and complemented high protein trail foods like pemmican and dried meats. Their version is generally prepared with white or whole wheat flour, baking powder, and water, which are combined and kneaded, sometimes with spices, dried fruits or other flavoring agents added, then fried in rendered fat, vegetable oil, or shortening.

Source: Wikipedia.com

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The Original Nanaimo Bar

Ingredients:

Bottom Layer:
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg, beaten
1 ¼ cup graham wafer crumbs
½ cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Second Layer:
½ cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cream PLUS 2 teaspoons cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Third Layer:
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions:

  1. For bottom layer, melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8” x 8” pan.

  2. For second layer, cream butter, cream, custard powder and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

  3. For third layer, melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator. Yield: 24 bars.

Source: www.nanaimo-info.com/gpage.html

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Greece

According to Diane Kochilas in The Food and Wine of Greece: More than 300 Classic and Modern Dishes from the Mainland and Islands of Greece (St. Martin’s Press, 1990), very few people outside of Greece experience true Greek cooking. Essentially, she states, “Greek cuisine is country cookery at its best, home-based, dependent on the seasons, and often passed on it nothing more than a calligraphic hand in a ragged notebook from grandmother to mother to daughter” (xi). This marvelous venture into Greek food covers a broad spectrum of dishes. In keeping with the coming of spring, please enjoy the following recipes:
 

Tzatziki (Yogurt, Cucumber, and Garlic Dip)
(page 84)

Ingredients:

1 32-ounce container plain yogurt*
1 large cucumber
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill or fresh mint
3 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
salt, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Empty yogurt into a large square of doubled cheesecloth. Tie at the top and elt hang to drip for 2 hours, until yogurt thickens and is strained. Place yogurt “cheese” in a medium sized bowl. You should have about 1 ½ cups.

  2. Peel and grate cucumber. Taking a little at a time between the palms of your hand, squeeze as hard as possible until water is removed. Add to yogurt cheese.

  3. Mix in garlic, dill, olive oil, vinegar, and salt. Combine all ingredients well. Refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with warmed pita. Yield: about 2 cups.

*Note: In place of strained yogurt, use a mixture of ¾ cup plain, unstrained yogurt and ¾ cup sour cream, if desired.

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Patatosalata (Traditional Greek Potato Salad)
(page 100)

Ingredients:

2 pounds small new potatoes, boiled, halved and sliced
15-20 kalamata olives, rinsed and well drained
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced into rings
3-4 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
2 tablespoons quality red wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme

Instructions:

  1. In a medium-sized serving bowl, combine potatoes, olives, and onion.

  2. In a small jar, shake together olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and oregano and pour over salad. Serve cold or at room temperature.

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In The Frugal Gourmet On Our Immigrant Ancestors: Recipes You Should Have Learned From Your Grandmother, author Jeff Smith traces a number of recipes that he considers to be typical of a country’s cuisine as represented on American soil by immigrant descendents. This cookbook is a broad collection, which covers recipes from a range of origins, including sections on Armenian to Filipino to Latvian to Puerto Rican to Swedish to cuisine from the former country of Yugoslavia. The recipes range from the super simple to the extremely complex, and in general result in a delicious meal.

Cuba

Cuba is located 90 miles south of the tip of Florida, and Cuban immigration to the land that became the United States began as early as 1565 when St. Augustine, Florida, was established and hundreds of Spanish/Cuban soldiers moved to settle there. According to the 2000 Census, 1,241,685 Cuban Americans live in the United States, representing 3.5 percent of the all Hispanics in the U.S. Although Cuban Americans live all over the country, the largest clusters of Cuban Americans live in a number of cities in Florida, North Jersey, and New York.

Cuban cuisine in general is a fusion of Spanish, African and Caribbean cooking, with prominent spices, a strong rice and bean presence, a complex dessert culture due to the island’s sugar industry, and regional influences based on settlement patterns around the island. For example, Eastern Cuban cuisine reflects Caribbean influences, highlighting the flavors of garlic, cumin, onion, Cuban oregano and bay leaves, but using almost no peppers. Western Cuban cuisine reflects a stronger European and Asian influence, with a greater use of flour, eggs, sauces, and an emphasis on sweet and sour combinations. Source: Wikipedia.com.

In The Frugal Gourmet On Our Immigrant Ancestors: Recipes You Should Have Gotten From Your Grandmother, Jeff Smith provides a simple version of a delicious and totally satisfying Cuban meal, which can be morphed into a another standard meal with the addition of white rice, called Moros y Cristianos. (p. 110-111)

Cuban Black Beans

Ingredients:

1 pound dried black beans, rinsed
4 cups water
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
¼ pound salt pork, chopped
1 pound smoked ham hocks, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
2 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 bay leaves
4 cups Chicken Stock
¼ teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Wash the beans and place them in a 6-quart stovetop casserole with 4 cups water. Cover and boil 2 minutes; shut off the heat and let stand 1 hour.

  2. Add the remaining ingredients, except the vinegar, salt and pepper, cover, and simmer 2 hours until the beans are tender. You may have to add a bit of fresh water to the pot as the beans should be just covered with water when you begin the second cooking stage. At completion, debone the hocks, chop up the meat, and return it to the pot.

  3. Add the vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and heat through.

To morph this dish into Moros y Cristianos, take 1 cup of the Cuban Black Beans and drain for a moment in a colander. Combine with 2 cups of fresh-cooked long grain rice. Stir until evenly incorporated and serve.

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Ireland

These recipes come from his section on The Irish Immigrants, who rank as the third largest immigrant group to America, after the English and the Germans; today, at least 40 million Americans claim Irish heritage. The Irish have been among America’s immigrant population since the beginning of colonization, but a huge number of Irish immigrants came in the mid-19th century in the wake of the potato famine in Ireland, and continued into the early 20th century.

These simple, tasty dishes are among those that sustained the Irish once they arrived on America’s shores.

Smith, Jeff. The Frugal Gourmet On Our Immigrant Ancestors: Recipes You Should Have Learned From Your Grandmother (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1990).

Dublin Coddle
(p. 212)

Ingredients:

1 ½ pounds pork sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 ½ pounds smoked ham, cut into 1-inch dice
1 quart boiling water
2 large yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Place the sausage and ham in the boiling water and boil for 5 minutes.

  2. Drain, but reserve the liquid.

  3. Place the meat into a large saucepan (or an ovenproof dish) with the onions, potatoes, and parsley. Add enough of the stock to not quite cover the contents.

  4. Cover the pot and simmer gently for about 1 hour, or until the liquid is reduced by half and all the ingredients are cooked but not mushy. You may need to remove the lid during the last half of the cooking process.

  5. Season with salt and pepper.

  6. Serve hot with the vegetables on top, fresh Irish Soda Bread and a glass of stout. Serves 8.

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Irish Soda Bread
(p. 214)

Ingredients:

6 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups buttermilk

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix very well.

  3. Pour all of the buttermilk into the bowl at once and stir, using a wooden spoon, just until a soft dough is formed. Do not try to make it smooth at this point.

  4. Pour the contents of the bowl out onto a counter and knead for a minute or so until everything comes together.

  5. Divide the dough into two portions and shape each into a round loaf, pressing the top down a bit to just barely flatten it. Place the loaves on a large ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle some additional flour on top of each loaf and, using a sharp paring knife, make the sign of the Cross in slashes on the top of each.

  6. Allow the loaves to rest for 10 minutes and then bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and done to taste.

  7. Cool on racks. Makes 2 loaves.

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Hungary

This recipe comes from his section on The Hungarian Immigrants, who began immigrating to the United States in the late 1800s through the period of World War I. According to Smith, “nearly two million Americans claim Hungarian ancestry.”

The following deliciously simple, but intensely flavorful recipe is published in Jeff Smith’s The Frugal Gourmet On Our Immigrant Ancestors: Recipes You Should Have Gotten From Your Grandmother (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1990), p. 178.

Chicken Paprikas

Ingredients:

3-4 tablespoons freshly rendered lard or oil
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
3 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
1 3 ½ pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
1 cup chicken stock
1 medium tomato, diced
2 Anaheim or Cubanelle green peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
2 closes garlic, peeled and crushed

Thickening:
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Instructions:

  1. Heat a 6 quart heavy stove-top casserole and add the lard or oil and paprika.

  2. Sauté the paprika for about 1 minute and add the onions. Saute for a few minutes and add the remaining ingredients, except for the thickening, to the pot.

  3. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 45-60 minutes, or until all is tender.

  4. Remove the chicken pieces and set aside.

  5. Mix the sour cream and flour well, using a wire whisk. Add 1 cup of the gravy from the pot to the cream and stir well to avoid lumps.

  6. Stir this mixture into the pot and stir while it thickens. Return the chicken to the pot and restore the heat.

  7. Serve over Hungarian Dumplings or egg noodles.  Serves 4-6.

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Chowder: An American Food for the Centuries

In his comprehensive discussion of North American chowders in 50 Chowders: One-Pot Meals – Clam, Corn & Beyond, Jasper White traces the history of this delicious American food from known roots in Old World European dishes to the cast iron stew pot of the early 18th century Northeastern coast.

The first written reference to chowder is recorded by New Englander Benjamin Lynde in passing in his diary in 1732. Thereafter, chowders are mentioned in newspapers and cookbooks with some regularity, almost always including the basic ingredients of salt pork, onions, hardtack (later largely replaced by potatoes), fresh fish, and a few herbs and spices, with a few variations. Clams are added to the pot by 1833; potatoes have become a standard by 1842; milk, cream and butter appear by 1860; corn becomes a common ingredient by 1884; and tomatoes are introduced by 1894.

“Chowder is greater than the sum of its parts,” extols White, who adds “it is the singular flavor created by the combination of these foods that will dominate” (27). Simple, fresh ingredients combine to create a sublime taste experience.

The following recipe is published in Jasper White’s 50 Chowders: One-Pot Meals – Clam, Corn & Beyond. Scribner, 2000, pages 79-81. Please consult this book for excellent recipes for Strong Fish Stock (page 58), Traditional Fish Stock (page 60), and Chicken Stock (page 72).
 

New England Fish Chowder

Equipment: 4- to 6-quart heavy pot with a lit, a slotted spoon, a wooden spoon, and a ladle.

Ingredients:

4 ounces meaty salt pork, rind removed and cut into 1/3-inch dice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions (14 ounces), cut into ¾ inch dice
6 to 8 sprigs fresh summer savory or thyme, leaves removed and chopped (1 tablespoon)
2 dried bay leaves
2 pounds Yukon Gold, Maine, PEI, or other all-purpose potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/3 inch thick
5 cups fish stock, chicken stock, or water
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds skinless haddock or cod fillets, preferably over 1 inch thick, pinbones removed
1 ½ to 2 cups heavy cream

Garnish:
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

Instructions:

  1. Heat the pot over low heat and add the diced salt pork. Once it has rendered a few tablespoons of fat, increase the heat to medium and cook until the pork is a crisp golden brown. Using slotted spoon, transfer the cracklings to a small overproof dish, leaving fat in pot.

  2. Add the butter, onions, savory or thyme, and bay leaves to the pot and sauté, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for about 8 minutes, until the onions are softened by not browned.

  3. Add the potatoes and stock If stock does not cover the potatoes, add just enough water to cover them. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil, cover, and cook the potatoes vigorously for about 10 minutes, until they are soft on the outside but still firm in the center. If the stock hasn’t thickened lightly, smash a few of the potato slices against the side of the pot and cook for a minute or two longer to release their starch. Reduce the heat to low and season assertively with salt and pepper (you want almost overseason the chowder at this point to avoid having to stir it much once the fish is added). Add the fish fillets and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat and allow the chowder to sit for 10 minutes (the fish will finish cooking during this time).

  4. Gently stir in the cream and taste for salt and pepper. If you are not serving the chowder within the hour, let it cool a bit, then refrigerate; cover the chowder after it has chilled completely. Otherwise, let it sit for up to an hour at room temperature, allowing the flavors to meld.

  5. When ready to serve, reheat the chowder over low heat; don’t let it boil. Warm the cracklings in a low oven (200 degrees F) for a few minutes.

  6. Use a slotted spoon to mound the chunks of fish, the onions, and potatoes in the center of large soup plates or shallow bowls, and ladle the creamy broth around. Scatter the cracklings over the individual servings and finish each with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and minced chives. Makes about 14 cups; serves 8 as a main course.

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