Borani Esfanaj

My brother had stayed with me for a week after my mastectomy.  It seemed really soon for him to have to leave, probably because I was out for at least 2 days of his visit.  It ended up being way more comforting than I expected.  My friend Issac volunteered to stay with me after my brother left.  I was still struggling to do some minor things, like picking up, cooking, taking out the trash, so having the help was still needed.  The surprising thing for me was how hard it was to put on clothes.  My arms just have limited movement and stretching the arms up over my head and to put on a shirt hurts.  The doctors recommended button down shirts, which I found useful for the doctors appointments, but buttoning the buttons was no fun.  I got some loose fitting dresses and this is now what I wear.  They really are fancy muumuu’s.  Never really saw myself wearing them, but it works.  Also helps with people coming over and not just being in my pajamas.

Equally as hard is finding Bahrain recipes.  A lot of things I found online seems to be middle eastern dishes rather than specific Bahrain dishes.  With a lot of time spent researching I find a cookbook called “multicultural cookbook of life-cyle celebrations”.  It basically has recipes from all over the world.  It has a recipe for a spinach salad called Borani Esfanaj.  The book describes how it is common on feast and wedding days that a whole baby goat is served and this is a common salad to accompany it.  I’m not feeding a family, so don’t go for the whole goat recipe but want to make this salad.

When reading the Borani Esfanaj recipe it seems to be much more of appetizer or more specifically a dip than a salad.  I was thinking of this as a side dish.  What goes well with a creamy spinach dip?  BREAD!  Well as I am cooking Bahrain I start to look into what is a common bread and find that they typically eat khubz.  Which is like a pita, so I am going to make this as well and serve with the “salad”.

The khbuz is a yeast dough.  Following instructions I add yeast to water and let it sit.

img_6559

Mix the dough and let it rest.

img_6607

 

Then split the dough into small balls and let it rest.

img_6609

I roll out the dough into the circle.  Yeah, my skills are of rolling dough is getting better!

img_6616

 

Then you bake it in the oven.  While it cooks the dough puffs up.

img_6624

Then broil till brown.

img_6626

Once it is done the air in the middle forms a pocket like a pita would.

img_6629

The “salad” is straightforward to make.  Boil spinach in water and then cook with onion and garlic.  Cool a bit and mix with yogurt.

img_6659

Then top with nuts and mint.

img_6660

The result is good.  The “salad” is like a dip.  It is like a spinach dip with a bit more unique flavors.  The mint is refreshing bite with the yogurt.  The bread is like a pita not particularly flavorful, but I’m shocked at how crisp the outside and soft the inside is.  The two pair together well, this may not be how they ate it in Bahrain, but works in my imagination.


Recipes

Borani Esfanaj

The original Recipe can be found here

  • 1 lb fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons roasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped
  1. Boil water and add spinach.  Cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain spinach.
  3. In large sauce pan heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  4. Add onion and garlic.  Saute for 5 minutes
  5. Add spinach and cook for 5 minutes
  6. Transfer to bowl and let cool for at least 5 minutes.
  7. Add yogurt, salt and pepper.
  8. Serve with walnuts and mint sprinkled on top.

Khubz

Original recipe can be found here

  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
  1. In a large bowl, pour in the warm water and add in the yeast, stir until the yeast is dissolved.
  2. Add in the salt.
  3. Start gradually adding in the flour and oil while kneading.
  4. Knead the dough for 8 minutes.
  5. Put the dough into a large greased bowl and turn dough to grease all sides.
  6. Cover with a dry tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size about 1 ½ hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  8. Punch dough gently.
  9. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and shape them into smooth balls.
  10. Place on a floured work surface and dust tops lightly with flour.
  11. Cover with a dry tea towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
  12. Roll out each ball into a 6-inch diameter circle.
  13. Place in oven and bake for 5 minutes, until puffy.
  14. Then broil for 2 minutes to brown.

Bahamian Baked Macaroni and Cheese with a Crab Mousse Stuffing

The Bahamas loves macaroni and cheese as much as I do! It was brought over to the Bahamas by the British and of course they have made it their own.  Their variety is baked with bell peppers in it.  They serve it as a side dish and always have it for special occasions. I find a recipe that takes their traditional mac and cheese and adds crab. Okay that does sound odd, but it is a dinner party and so why not add the additional flare!

The first step is to make the crab mousse.  You just combine all the ingredients.  It seems to be much more like a crab slaw than a mousse, but it looks good.

IMG_1263

For the mac and cheese you first boil the vegetables with the pasta.  Then the rest is a standard method of creating a cheese sauce pour it into a pan

img_6458

and then bake. The result is yummy!  It is one of the cheesiest mac and cheese I have ever had.  The bell peppers I think help keep the cheesiness up.  The crab mousse actually pairs perfectly with the mac and cheese and definitely elevates the dish.  This I am making again!

I also made a side dish of okra.  My family is from the south and I love fried okra.  One of the reasons you fry it is to get the sliminess out.  I actually have never cooked with okra so I’m excited to try to make this simple salad.

I cut the okra

img_6461

I prepare the okra frying and cooking in water, but they are slimy.  I then bake them for 20 minutes thinking it will dry them out a bit, but no help.   I start to panic as I don’t think I can serve this.  So I go to the trusty internet and start to read online.  I find out that the reason that lime is added is the acid of the lime cuts the sliminess.  So, I do this and it works!

img_6463

It is still a bit slimy as that is okra.  The okra is yummy, simple and full of flavor.  I giggle at myself getting in a panic when I should just follow instructions.

 

Speaking of laughter, my first night home after surgery I went to bed listening to my brother and my friend Jeff laughing.  It was a great feeling to hear two people I really love and care about enjoying each other.  I did have to remind them to keep it down.  My neighbors are still pretty mad at me from my pre-surgery partying and another school night party will probably make them mad.  So I encouraged them to go to a bar, they are hesitant to leave me.  I explained to them that I’m just going to take my sleeping pill and go to bed and I will be fine for the few hours they’re out.  This did the trick and they went to a bar.

As the house is quiet I lay in my bed and realize it was nice to be home and nice to be in my bed.  I laid flat on my back as I still can’t roll on my side and finally nod off to sleep.  I woke up early in the morning in excruciating pain.! I try not to move to see if the pain will subside and it doesn’t.  I panic and start to cry.  After a few moments I get the courage to try and sit up to get my pain medicine.  Every slight movement sends another shock of pain through my chest.  After what seemed like an hour long struggle I have the pain pill bottle in my hand and tears streaming down my cheeks.  I now have to get my sippy cup. Yes I mean a little kid sippy cup, it is awesome for surgery.  I don’t have to worry about spills and can lay it down anywhere so it is always close.  I took my pills and lie very still waiting for the pain to subside.  After about 2 hours the pain slowly started to come back.  I take another pill.  I’m never really out of pain, but if I lay still it seems manageable.

Jeff’s wife Jan, who is a doctor, came by to check on me.  She looked at my dressing and everything looked fine.  She asked how the pain was and I tell her how I have been rationing my pain meds.  The medication was prescribed two pills for every 4 hours. However the pain comes back in 2 hours and by hour 3 it is not manageable.  So I found taking 1 pill every 2 hours will keep it at a dull pain.  Jan is shocked and explains that I shouldn’t feel anything.  So she calls my doctor and they figure out a stronger prescription that will be accepted by my insurance.  I took the new pills and it is much better!  I slept through the next night and didn’t have a moment where I am in tons of pain.

Well this concludes Bahamas.  I actually like everything I made.  Probably because I stayed away from the flavors I’m not a fan of.  I was surprised by the combinations of things.  I may start trying new adventurous combinations or just move onto the the next country which is Bahrain.


Recipes

Bahamian Baked Macaroni and Cheese with a Crab Mousse Stuffing

Original recipe can be found here

  • 5 cups penne pasta
  • 2 lbs grated organic yellow cheddar cheese
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3  eggs
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 2 stalks of celery (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt (Divided)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • cooking spray
  • 4 ounces high-quality shredded crab meat
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • dash of cayenne
  1. For crab mousse, in a medium bowl, combine crab meat,  1/3 of chopped onion, 1/3 red pepper, 1/3 of a celery, lime, mayonnaise, cayenne  and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.
  4. Add remaining onion, pepper & celery.  Boil for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add pasta.  Bring heat down to medium. S immer for about 15 minutes (until pasta is cooked).
  6. Drain- off excess water.
  7. Place pasta, onion, sweet pepper & celery back into pot.  Turn off heat.
  8. Add cream, butter, cheese & eggs.  Mix until all the ingredients bind/melt (smooth consistency).
  9.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
  10. To serve top with crab mousse.

Okra Salad

Original recipe can be found here

  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1lb okra (caps snapped)
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 2 tablespoon lime
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 dashes of crystal hot sauce
  1. In frying pan heat 1 tablespoon of oil.
  2. Add okra and saute for 3 minutes.
  3. Add salt and pepper.
  4. Add water cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Drain if needed.
  6. Mix together the okra, remaining oil, lime, garlic, and hot sauce.

Guava Duff

Guava Duff is a dessert served in the Bahamas.  It is a dish believed to be inspired by UK cuisine.  It resembles figgy pudding in the way the dough is steamed with the tropical fruit of Guava.  It sounds interesting to make.

The first step is to find guava.  It calls for fresh guava or guava puree. I grew up in Hawaii and didn’t think guava would be that hard to find but it turns into a nightmare!  I go to three grocery stores and all I find is pineapple and mangos.  I go to a Japanese market and no luck there either.  I end up at a Hawaiian speciality store where I find guava butter.  I get it as it may not be exact, but this is all I can find and I have been walking for 3 hours from store to store and my dinner party is the next day.

IMG_1261

Turns out medical insurance is like finding guava in Northern California.  When I first took my job I thought to myself, “I’m a healthy adult, so I can get the cheapest insurance.” Well that wasn’t a great decision.  My co-pay for the specialist was $80 and even worse my co-pay for my biopsy was $1200.  I ended up almost hitting my out-of-pocket limit before my surgery.  My insurance renewal was happening right around my surgery, so my brother and I sat down and figured that paying more per month would be cheaper than the free insurance.  This is because the amount of out of pocket is reduced by the higher cost I pay per month.  After this change my co-pays go back to $10.  This is the first time I understood the importance of benefits and why people will take a job because of it. Thankfully, I figured this all out ahead of time as the day I was released from the hospital was the day the program switched.  If I stayed one more day in the hospital it may have gotten complicated.  It all ended up fine for me, but I have never felt so dependent on medical care and a job before.  Not a great feeling.

Well hopefully making this cake will be easier than navigating insurance and finding guava.  The first step is to make the dough.  The dough isn’t hard to make, but it feels a lot like cookie dough rather than a bread dough.  I’m worried this isn’t right and about to get more complicated.

IMG_1251

Roll out the dough.

IMG_1252

My rolling skills are not getting much better.  It’s supposed to be a rectangle.  Don’t worry, I know how to cut!

IMG_1253

There, a perfect rectangle!   Now to spread on the guava butter.

IMG_1254

The butter is thick and easy top spread.  I try a bit.  It’s sweet and tastes like guava.  I’m sure it will work. T hen I roll the dough.

IMG_1255

Then roll it in tin foil.

IMG_1257

I double it in tin foil, so as not to let it get wet.  However when I put it in the boiling water, it is way to long for the pan.  So I cut the suff in half.

IMG_1258

My two halves come out.

IMG_1259

It doesn’t totally look appetizing, but as I proved earlier I handy with a knife!

IMG_1260

They come out!  This is my kind of dessert.  The dough is dense like a pudding.  Almost like a pudding cake.  The guava is a little subtle.  I should have added more guava butter.  It is fairly simple to make and totally worth trying again.  Much better than finding the guava and insurance!


Recipes

Original recipe can be found here

Guava Duff

  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup guava butter
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

 

  1. Whisk butter and sugar in a large bowl until smooth.
  2. Add eggs & spices.  Whisk well.
  3. Sift in flour and baking powder, mix well and turn stiff dough out onto an extra-large sheet of floured aluminum foil.
  4. Flour a rolling pin and roll out dough to make a sheet that is 1″ smaller on all sides than the aluminum foil sheet.
  5. Smear 1/2 cup guava butter (more if desired) all over dough sheet.
  6. Roll up the dough into a cylinder, making a jelly-roll shape. ( may need to cut in half based on the size of your pan).
  7. Fold up edges of aluminum foil and seal both the top and sides, retaining the cylindrical shape.
  8. Roll out another sheet of aluminum foil, place the cylinder on it and again, roll up and seal all edges.
  9. Place the cylinder in boiling water and boil for 1 1/2 hours, or until very firm.
  10. Remove from water, drain, let cool slightly, then unwrap on a cutting board.
  11. Cut into thick, round slices.

 

 

Shuyud plov

Plov is extremely popular in Azerbaijan and they have 40 different types.  Shuyud plov is a dill rice pilaf.  With my pre-surgery health kick I’m also going to make a salad called Çoban Salati, which is a tomato cucumber salad.  To add to all this healthiness my surgeon didn’t want me drinking any alcohol before surgery.  So that is 10 days with out any liquor, which should be easy to do.  However I don’t find this out until about two weeks before my surgery.  I was planning on throwing a party before the surgery, but with this new restriction there is no time.  I instead I go out with friends and make the most of the few days I had left.  Most of my social activities have to do with liquor, so I think I am going to be bored out of my mind for 10 days.  However I find that it isn’t all that bad. I still have to work out daily, which ends up being a great social activity going hiking, long walks, and yoga with friends.  Shane works me out about 2 times a week and we go to lunch.  I do a spring cleaning of my house, get a microwave, make keys, prepare my job for my leaving. All great healthy things, but after surgery I plan to go back to my partying ways!

To make shuyud plov you par-steam the rice and create a qamaq for the bottom.

IMG_9372

Add the rice, butter saffron water, and dill.

IMG_9373

Cook

IMG_9374

The salad is much like a greek cumber salad.  Finely chop the vegetables.

IMG_6273 IMG_6274 IMG_6275 IMG_6276 IMG_6277

Combine.

IMG_6287

The rice has a nice subtle dill flavor.  It is not overly powerful, but with certain foods like fish the dill will pair nicely.  The salad is a refreshing bite.


Recipes

Shuyud plov

Original recipe can be found here

  • 400 g/1 lb basmati rice
  • 100 g/4 oz melted butter
  • two medium-sized bunches of fresh dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon threads of saffron
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg and 1-2 tbsp yogurt
  • 100 g/4 oz plain flour

Preparation

  1. Put a few threads of saffron in a cup and add boiling water.  Cover and leave to infuse.
  2. Wash and chop the dill.
  3. Rinse the rice.
  4. Fill a large, heavy saucepan with water and add salt.  Bring to the boil.
  5. Add the rice to the boiling water. Turn the heat down slightly but cook at a rapid boil for 5 to 10 minutes.  Be careful not to cook for too long or the finished rice will be sticky.
  6. Strain the rice through a rice colander.
  7. Add the chopped dill to the rice, mixing it in gently.
  8.  Mix together 1 egg, 4 tablespoons of the parboiled rice and 1-2 tablespoons of yogurt. Add some of the infused saffron water.
  9. Rinse and dry the rice pan.  Return it to the heat and melt a generous knob of butter. Spread the qazmaq mixture or lavash over the bottom of the pan and fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
  10. Add the parboiled rice mixed with dill.  Spoon it gently into the pan to avoid breaking the grains.  When half the rice is in the pan, pour over some of the saffron infusion.
  11. Put the rest of the rice in the pan and pour most of the remaining saffron infusion over it.
  12. Put several knobs of butter on top.  Make holes in the rice with the handle of a wooden spoon to allow the steam to escape.
  13. Place a well-fitting lid on top of the saucepan, covered underneath with a clean tea towel. The towel helps to absorb the steam.
  14. Once the rice is steaming, turn down the heat and leave to continue steaming for 30 to 45 minutes.  The rice can be left to steam for longer without coming to any harm.
  15. Serve on a large dish.

Çoban Salati

Original recipe can be found here

  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1/4 medium-sized red onion
  • a few sprigs of coriander, dill and basil
  • tablespoon olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Preparation

  • Wash and dice the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.
  • Finely chop the onion and herbs.
  • Mix all the ingredients together. Add salt & pepper and leave to stand for up to 1 hour before serving.
  • Dress with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil before serving

 

Macaroni Salad

In Hawaii macaroni salad is served in plate lunch.  Plate lunch is similar to southern meat and three.  However in Hawaii for plate lunch you really only pick the meat; the sides are always a scoop of rice and macaroni salad.  It is believed that plate lunch came about during the plantation times and was started from the concept of the bento box.  Back then they had rice and meat and later macaroni salad was added to bridge the two.

When I was a kid I didn’t really like macaroni salad.  I love food, but I am actually a picky eater.  I don’t like beans, avocados, blue cheese, and pineapple to name a few things.  So when Shane wanted to cook dinner for me I was a bit nervous for him as I didn’t want him to fail.

Shane and I  have been on a few dates since I first met him.  He is easy to talk to, fun to be around, and I feel comfortable.  He is not the cutest guy that I am dating as he is balding and has a big belly, but I always feel immediately comfortable around him and forget all the superficial stuff.

He is ridiculously excited about showing me his culinary chops and I am excited just to spend time with him.  I call him the night before as he is running around getting ingredients for this meal and I tease him that I expect this to be a 7-course meal and better top our recent dining experience at Nico’s.  He teases me back that his going to make a blue cheese, banana, and  avocado sandwich… Gross!

This is the first time I have been to his apartment.  It is a nice place.  There is a single room that is his living room, kitchen, and dining space.  The kitchen is small but it is open to the rest of the area.  Shane’s bedroom is in the back of the apartment. There is a stairwell that leads upstairs to his roommate’s room.   I get there a bit early for dinner to avoid traffic and I have a few things that I need to finish for work.  So he pours me a glass of wine, I work on my laptop, and he keeps cooking.  His roommate comes downstairs and I meet him.  I start to get into my introverted ways and feel a bit uncomfortable with his roommate there.  Shane seems perfectly comfortable.  I sip my wine and use my keyboard as a distraction.

When he is ready to start serving the first course, his roommate finally leaves and I am able to get comfortable.  I am odd that way.  This feels like a private moment and having a perfect stranger there throws me off.  Shane ends up creating a 5 course meal.  The first course is a flat bread.  It is a complicated bite, but yummy.  Then it is a tomato soup and grilled cheese.  He made the grilled cheese with smoked mozzarella, which is my favorite.  Then a simple salad.  For the main course it is mussels and chorizo.  Then finally a simple berry fruit dessert.  The food is good.  Portions are a bit big for me and I’m stuffed.  But it is so nice how much thought and time he but into the meal.

After the meal we chat and finish the bottle of wine.  We move from the table to his couch.  It was an amazing night.  The conversation never died down.  We chatted about nothing in particular but all was engrossing at the time.  There is this moment when I come back from the restroom and see him sitting on the couch.  I think happily to myself this is going to be my man.  I then have another thought and it is of sheer terror that I am going to die if I date him.  I move past the terror, sit down next to him have a sip of wine and snuggle against him.  Maybe I found a boyfriend and hopefully this fact won’t kill me.

Well now there was a tangent; let me get back to the macaroni salad.  I have always avoided this dish, but made it once for a Hawaiian dinner party I was having and finally became a fan.  I don’t know that I can eat any macaroni salad, but I do enjoy this one.

The first step is to cook the macaroni.  You actually want to over cook the macaroni as it will soak up the dressing better.  Then poor in the vinegar and let the macaroni soak up the vinegar.

IMG_6160

Next mix together the ingredients for the dressing.

IMG_6171

 

Poor in half the dressing into the noodles and let it sit over night.

IMG_6172

 

About an hour before serving, cut the vegetables and mix together with the remaining sauce.

IMG_6212

 

It is rich and creamy, with some tang from the vinegar, bite from the onion, and crunch from the celery.


Recipes

Macaroni Salad

Original recipe can be found here

  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 4 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta until very tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl.  Add vinegar and stir until completely absorbed.  Let pasta stand until cool, about 10 minutes.
  3. Whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, mustard, lemon juice, hot sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
  4. Add half of the dressing and stir until well coated and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
  5. About an hour before serving, stir in remaining dressing celery, shallots, scallions, salt and pepper.

Altwiener Apfelstrudel

Altwiener Apfelstrudel or what us English speaking folks call Apple Strudel.  This is a traditional Viennese dish and considered a national dish of Austria.  Wait a second wasn’t Tafelspitz the national dish of Austria?  How many can a country have?  Anyway, it is related to baklava, which is from the Ottoman empire.  So the dish came to Austria from Turkey to Hungry during the Austro-Hungrian empire.  It became popular during the Hasburg empire, which is a large influence over Austrian cuisine.

First thing is to make the dough and let it rest for an hour.  While the dough is taking its nap I soak the raisins in rum.  Maybe this is why it is a national dish alcohol and napping!

IMG_5821

 

Then I toast some bread crumbs in butter.  This is part of the filling.

IMG_5822

Then combine the apple and raisins for the filling.

IMG_5824

Now roll out the dough to be paper thin.  I don’t have a friend helping me so don’t have pictures, but after you get the dough thin, you need to stretch it by hand to make it so thin it is see through.  This is the result.

IMG_5827

Next spread the bread crumbs on the dough.

IMG_5832

Then place the apple mixture on one side of the dough.

IMG_5835

Fold the dough over the apple mixture.

IMG_5836

Fold the dough sides over to create a pocket of  a burrito.

IMG_5837

Then roll the dough over its self.  This will create the flakey layers.

IMG_5843

At the end you will have a log.

IMG_5847

Bake it and melt some butter to brush on.

IMG_5914

I’m not sure why I am sad.  Its almost my birthday and I am loving all of the celebrations.  Brush on the butter.

IMG_5911

 

Sprinkle some powdered sugar.

IMG_5915

Cut and serve with ice cream.  Then sing happy birthday to me!

IMG_5928

The result is awesome.  The dough is flaky and buttery.  The apples are like baked apple or apple pie.  I’m extremely impressed that it turned out.  I think I’ve only had the Pillsbury package strudel and this one is definitely better than that!

This is it for Austria.  I have really enjoyed the food.  Other than the disastrous Kärntner Kasnudeln, which is way more my fault than Austria’s,  I would have to say that I loved all the food and how hardy and comforting it is.  This country has some of my flavor profiles.  Next up is Azerbijan!


 

Recipes

Altwiener Apfelstrudel

Original recipe can be found here

  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. plus 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 15 T. lukewarm water
  • 4 T. butter
  • 1 c. breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 4 T. rum
  • 6 Granny Smith Apples, chopped
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1-2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 4 T. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  •  2 T. Melted butter for brushing dough
  • Powdered sugar for decoration
  1. Place the flour in a bowl with the salt and add the water, then the oil and mix.
  2. Knead the dough until it is smooth and tacky, but not sticky, about 5 minutes.
  3. Form the dough into a smooth ball, brush it with a little oil and place it back in the bowl for 1 hour.
  4. Soak the raisins in the rum.
  5. Heat the butter in a pan until foaming and add the breadcrumbs.  Toast them, stirring constantly, until they are medium brown.  Let cool.
  6.  Peel, core and chop the apples into small pieces.  Add the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, raisins and cinnamon and mix well.
  7. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board to about 9 inches by 13 inches.
  8. Place a towel of a matt under the dough.
  9. Using your hands, gently stretch the dough thinner on all sides, working your way around the sheet of dough.  Stretch it until it starts to look translucent in spots.  Let it rest a minute and stretch the areas you think are too thick, again.
  10.  Brush dough with melted butter.
  11. Spread the breadcrumbs over 2/3 of the dough and pat down evenly.
  12. Drain the apples and spread them over the other 1/3 of the dough.
  13. Using the towel, fold one side of the dough over the filling.
  14.  Fold in ends of dough like a burrito.
  15. Fold other side of dough up and over filling to form a roll.
  16. Roll strudel onto parchment paper so that the seam-side is down.
  17. Brush with melted butter.
  18. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes and then at 350°F for 40-60 minutes longer.
  19. Remove from oven, brush top with melted butter and sprinkle with powdered sugar while still warm.

 

Kärntner Kasnudeln

Kärntner or in English Carthina, is the Southern most Austrian state.  There are many lakes there, so fish is a popular main course.  They also have a Carthia noodle or Kärntner Kasnudeln, which is described as a pasta filled with various fillings.  It reminds me of a pirogue.  I learned about pirogues from my ex-husband, who loved them.  He once tried to make them and it was a bit disastrous as the dough expanded when cooking that it was a giant dumpling with only a  little bit of potato filling.

One of the worst parts of getting a divorce was having to tell people that we were getting a divorce.  Just seeing the disappointment on my friends and familys’ faces made me relive the heart break over and over again.  When I had to break the news to people that I have cancer I imagined it would be the same if not worse.

I figured that the easiest people to tell first would be those who had known I had a lump.  Some I told in person, some on text, and some by phone.  They all expressed a sorrow and fear with the news, but they had a similar quality as I do, “Okay that sucks, now what is next.”  It was a relief to have such pragmatic friends who care, but understand that dwelling isn’t going to help much.  They also reminded me that I’m not in this alone.  I’m single and my family doesn’t live near me, so it is just me. So it was nice to be told that they will be there to support me.  It all made me fell grounded and safe.

The next group of people I told was my family, actually just my mom.  I hadn’t let my family know about the lump, because they live far from me and why have them worry about something that could be nothing.  The superstitious side of me wonders would it have been nothing if I had said something.  Yup, that is a silly thought, but it definitely crossed my mind a few times. I know I need to call my mom and brothers, but didn’t really figure out how to tell my extended family.  I wait a few days after getting the results to call my mom.  My call with my mom is short.  She is in shock by the news and I don’t have a lot of information other than I have cancer and a tentative treatment plan.  She asked if it was okay to share the news with others in my family and with relief I agreed.  This is a big help as telling bad news sucks and when it is about me I feel like I am breaking peoples hearts.  Within an hour of calling my mom one of my brothers call.  It makes me laugh as I think my mom immediately hung up with me and called my brothers.  Well she is making this a lot easier on me.

I have a bunch of friends that I have met in different stages of my life.  They know me well and have seen the best and worst of me.  They aren’t all in my daily life for one reason or another, but are still totally important to me.  I know I need to tell them. The thought of having to call all of them is overwhelming.  At this point I probably have about 10 people to call, but to have to hear the sadness, disappointment, worry, and fear is just daunting.  I know that they are important to my recovery and will be supportive, but I can’t do the calls.  So I decided to text them, its the modern form of a call right?  I slowly text them over a few days.  Some text back and some call.  It actually ends up being extremely comforting to hear from all of them.

As I find the experience of hearing from my friends and family comforting.  I realize that there are a lot more people in my life that are special to me and I want to share with them what is happening to me.  A friend of mine showed me Caring Bridge, which is a website were I can keep people up to date on what is going on: doctor appointments, tasks I need help with while I’m sick, my thoughts and updates.  I decided the best way to do this is to share my news on facebook with the link to Caring Bridge.  It isn’t the most personal way, but it is the fastest and again a modern approach.  My friend Jeff argues with me that I won’t want all these people knowing about such a personal thing, but I don’t agree so I post.  The support is amazing.  I’m not excited that I am here, but it feels super rewarding to know that folks care.  That I am as important to them as they are to me.  I even hear from old friends from college that  I have lost touch with.  It is amazing.  Oh and of course it always feels good that I was right and Jeff was wrong!

I know I have a long road ahead of me and that I will need all my friends and family support to get through it.  It has always been hard for me to share the scary and sad parts of my life with others.  However this feels oddly important.  I realize that I have a long road of treatment and a blog that is going to take me about 10 years to complete.  I also have a friend who is convinced that if I write about this it will be made into a movie, I’m not so sure.  But the writing and sharing is comforting and helps me process.   I  have decided to share my story here along with my cooking adventures.  It doesn’t really blend together well, but for me writing about my experiences is easier with the comfort of food.  It is such a 180 from me trying to hide a folder that says breast cancer on it.

Now to see if I can make Kärntner Kasnudeln better than my ex-husband made his pirogies.

The first step is to make the pasta dough.  I use the pasta make attachment from my kitchen aid to get the dough thin.  I then use my favorite cup, which appropriately is from Germany to cut circles from the pasta.

IMG_1241

I make the filling which is potato, seasoning, and quark.

IMG_1242

 

Take the circle and add filling.

IMG_1243

Rub the ends with egg.

IMG_1249

 

Fold in half.

IMG_1245

With a fork seal it and make a pretty pattern.

IMG_1246

Look how pretty!

IMG_1247

Then you boil it in hot water for a few minutes.  My creation is worse than my ex husband pirogues!  All of them explode when I boil.  It is basically a noodle potato mess.

IMG_1248

I should have tested a single dumbling first.  I must have left them too long, made it too thin, or the boil was too rough.  Well I had put all the dumplings in at once, so I can’t really cook more.  Luckily I am only cooking this for me.  So I eat it as is and it tastes like it looks, a soggy mess.  I have some left over potato filling, which is yummy and creamy.  I make the most of the disastrous meal.


Recipes

Kärntner Kasnudeln

Original recipe can be found here

  • 2 1/4 cups of flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • egg white for coating
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 8oz  quark
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1 teaspoon dried fine herbs
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt + 1 pinch
  1. To make the dough, mix flour, 1 egg, pinch of salt.
  2. Work in a little oil and  water to produce a smooth, workable dough.
  3. Kneed for 5 minutes
  4. Form into a ball, cover with film and leave to rest for 45 minutes.
  5. Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 30 minutes or until fully cooked.
  6. Cook onions for 5 minutes in 1 tablespoon of butter.
  7. Mash potatoes, herbs, salt, 1 egg, onions, and quark.
  8. Roll out the dough on a floured work surface until it is the thickness of the back of a knife.
  9. Cut out disks of approx. 10 cm diameter using an upturned glass or circular cutter.
  10. Shape small balls of the paste filling and place these on the dough circles, or use a spoon to apply the filling.
  11. Coat the edges of the dough with the beaten egg white, fold the dough together and press firmly.
  12. Press the edges between the fingers to form grooves and set down on a floured board.
  13. Heat up a generous quantity of salted water in a large pan, reduce heat to a simmer.
  14. Place the noodles into the water and, depending on size, leave to simmer gently for 5 minutes.
  15. Remove carefully and arrange on pre-heated plates.
  16. heat remaining butter until brown and pour over dumplings.