Category Archives: Recipes

Povitica: Eastern European Sweet Bread

SlovenianFlagFlag_of_Croatia.svgWithin the past week, we have come across references to Povitica at least three times, which seems like quite a lot given the fact that until now we had NEVER heard of it at all. Povitica (aka Potica) is a sweet yeasted bread, rolled with fillings like sugar, poppyseeds, nuts and sometimes chocolate. You can see this especially when you get a swirly slice/cross-section of Povitica. It also known in the US simply, a perhaps a little boringly, as “nut roll.”  The name Povitica comes from a Slovenian word, poviti,  meaning “to wrap in,” though the bread or similar varieties are found throughout Central and Eastern Europe, especially in Croatia and Slovenia. Brownie Bites has a recipe for nutty Povitica, and Serious Eats has a recipe for Chocolate and Walnut Povitica, which seems especially delicious.


Povitica by Tina Marie

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Reclaiming Ramen

JapanWhen the word “ramen” comes up, your first thought may be of the ten-for-a-dollar deals your local supermarket had on instant ramen in college. However, there is a lot more to it than that, and the traditional preparations of this Japanese soup dish are catching on in the US. Food and Wine has a profile of Ivan Orkin (with recipes) about how he and other chefs are reclaiming ramen’s good name. There are ramen shops popping up all over NYC and Chicago, and Serious Eats Chicago ranked suburban Mount Prospect’s Misoya as the top ramen in the area.

Ramen in Kyoto

Ramen in Kyoto by Claire Yuki

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Desserts in Tiny Cups: Brazilian Doces de Colher

brazilWe have talked before about one of our favorite Brazilian treats: brigadeiros. However, you can also get brigadeiros in another, slightly more liquid form. Known as doces de colher literally “spoon sweets,” these Brazilian treats come in little cups and are meant to be eaten with a spoon. Technicolor kitchen has recipes for some of the most popular spoon sweets: brigadeiro, beijinho and bicho-de-pé. Warning: these are definitely only for those who have a VERY sweet tooth.

Doces de Colher by Biana Bueno

Brigadeiro Doces de Colher by Bianca Bueno

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How to Make Sugar Skulls for Dia de Los Muertos

One of our favorite traditional foods for Dia de los Muertos is the sugar skull, which we have written about previouslyWe usually buy pre-made sugar skulls – and we even got new ones this year personalized with our names in Pilsen. However, we are stepping up our game this year. We picked up sugar skull molds at the Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC last week, and are excited to make sugar skulls of our own for the first time.  Once you have the skull-shaped molds, the process doesn’t seem too daunting. However, the recipe included with the molds called for something called meringue powder, which you can buy online or pick up in many craft or large grocery stores. Fortunately, making a recipe with egg whites works just as well, as does a traditional recipe with egg white and cornstarch.

Sugar Skull for Dia de Los Muertos

Sugar Skull for Dia de Los Muertos at the Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC

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Refreshing Agua Fresca Recipes for Hot Weather

Mexico FlagIt may be September, but the thermometer in Chicago is still peaking in the 90s. One of our favorite remedies for a blisteringly hot day in any month is a nice batch of Aguas Frescas. Aguas Frecas (“Fresh Waters” in Spanish) are cold water-based drinks flavored with combinations of fruit, grains, herbs, sugar and spices popular in Mexico and the US. You can find Aguas Frescas sold by street vendors and in many restaurants and bodegas, often in large, iconic glass dispensers. The range of Agua Fresca flavors is almost infinite, but our two favorites are Sandia (Watermelon) and Jamaica (Hibiscus). It won’t be long before everyone is dipping into their hot Pumpkin Spice Lattes, so enjoy the Aguas Frescas while you can. We also think these combinations would make excellent paletas.

Aguas Frescas in San Jose, California

Aguas Frescas in San Jose, California by Lifeofpie

Agua Fresca Recipes:

New spins on the Agua Fresca classics:

Aguas Frescas for sale in Mexico City

Aguas Frescas for sale in Mexico City by Frankenschulz


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(Almost) End of Summer Peach Pie

Happy Labor Day! If you live in the US, you’re probably going to be attending a BBQ/cookout or two. Though Labor Day marks the unofficial end to summer, we refuse to let go until September 21st. Either way, there was still plenty of delicious fruit at the farmer’s market so we decided to celebrate the almost end of summer with a delicious, classic peach pie. This recipe from Smitten Kitchen turned out well for us (we also decided to add a handful of raspberries). Don’t let summer go, yet!

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Japanese recipe site Cookpad, now in English

Japan[Via MetaFilter] I recently learned that the huge Japanese user-contributed recipe site Cookpad, which has over 20 million users and 1.5 million recipes, now has an English version. Cookpad seems similar to, and you can browse recipes by category or ingredient. Over 1,500 recipes have been translated into English so far, with more planned (the translations are not by a machine, though there are a few errors anyway). There are a ton of cool-looking recipes including Taro Root Croquettes, Somen noodlesUdon with Yuzu and Tofu with dashi sauce. Any fans of Japanese food should definitely explore. Did you find any favorite recipes?

Tonkotsu Ramen Style Somen Noodles via Cookpad

Tonkotsu Ramen Style Somen Noodles via Cookpad

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Globally-Inspired Iced Tea for Summer

Nothing is more refreshing on a hot summer day than iced tea. Tea (in its many forms) is one of the most universal drinks, whether in hot or iced form, so why not give the Snapple and Lipton a rest and try something new? Even though the end of summer is sadly approaching, there are still plenty of hot days to enjoy some cool drinks (preferably on a balcony or beach).

Bellocq Mint Tea from Design Sponge

Bellocq Mint Tea from Design Sponge

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Recipe: Goan Vegetaria Feijoada

Feijoada, a meat and bean stew of Portuguese origin, is extremely popular in Brazil, which we experienced while we were there. Everyone has a recipe, and making feijoada turns into a weekend event/party on nearly every corner. However, Brazil is not the only place that feijoada has taken hold – it also enjoys some popularity Goa, IndiaGoa, a region in Western India, was once a Portuguese colony (until 1961, even), which explains the heavy Portuguese influence on the local cuisine. However, feijoada from Goa is a little different in that it may include pork (rather than the typical beef in Portuuese or Brazilian versions), or is vegetarian. Goan Food Recipes has a version with pork, and  My Diverse Kitchen has a recipe for vegetarian Goan feijoada.

Goan Feijoada by My Diverse Kitchen

Goan Feijoada by My Diverse Kitchen

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Food 52’s Heirloom Recipes

We love the food site Food 52, and we are really enjoying one of their newest features: Heirloom Recipes, where a different blogger each week shares a family recipe passed down to them. There is something very satisfying about recipes that are passed on from generation to generation, and almost everyone can think of something that their grandma, grandpa, aunt, etc. made that was absolutely THE BEST. Heirloom recipes on Food 52 is a weekly feature, and so far they have included recipes for Zucchini Bread and Norwegian Boller (Cardamom rolls).

Norwegian Boller

Norwegian Boller from Food 52

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Enough Popsicle and Paleta Recipes to Last the Whole Summer

We recently bought new popsicle molds, and we are excited to make some recipes. We are especially fond of Mexican-style popsicles, paletas, which often combine sweet and spicy flavors. In honor of our new popsicle/paleta maker, we curated a collection of pop recipes from simple to avant-garde. The first recipe we made was yogurt and black raspberry (very similar to this recipe). We pretty much winged it and the result was great – so just let these recipes be a jumping off point for inspiration. Anything goes!

Paleteria in Texas

Paleteria in Texas, by Steve Snodgrass

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Baking Bread with the Tangzhong method

JapanOur previous attempts at making bread were not terribly successful, but we’d love to give bread making another try. One of the techniques we recently learned about was the Japanese Tangzhong bead-making method, which involves making a roux (called the Tangzhong) and incorporating it into the dough. Apparently this addition results in a very soft, tender loaf of bread. There are countless different breads you can make with the Tangzhong method, and many recipes we found are for various types of Hokkaido Milk Bread (here’s a cinnamon and chocolate chip version and a Nutella version). We had a favorite milk bread back at our local fruteria in Chicago, and we are mourning the fact that they don’t carry it any more. Maybe some of these Japanese milk breads are worth a try to fill our cravings. You can also try your hand at hot cross buns and 10 grain milk bread made with the Tangzhong method.

Hokkaido Milk Bread

Hokkaido Milk Bread by Divya Kudua

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Miniature Waffles from the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mini Waffles

Mini Waffles from Immigrant Kitchens

DRCFlagImmigrant Kitchens has an awesome post about a food we would love to try: Congolese mini waffles (Here’s the recipe). Now, we love waffles, and every food certainly tastes better in miniature form. Though initially it seemed a little strange that waffles might have turned up in the DRC, it makes sense given the country’s colonial past. Immigrant Kitchens is a great blog, with the goal of sharing home recipes from around the world, by talking with international cooks living in the US and sharing their stories. We are looking forward to reading through all of the archives.

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Paçoca de Amendoim – Brazilian peanut candy

Brazilians love little candies and treats, and at some places, like Perini supermarket, you can buy the individual bite-sized treats and create your own box of goodies. One of these popular treats is Paçoca de Amendoim – kind of a riff on Peanut Fudge – with the added texture of Manioc flour. The name comes from the Tupi word Posok which means “to crumble.” Making Paçoca is super simple, and we found versions at Pink Bites (using cookies instead of manioc) and Flavors of BrazilAs Flavors of Brazil points out – there is a dish also called paçoca that is completely different – think beef and onions. We actually ran into this situation at the São Cristóvão market in Rio – which has food from the Northeast – both kinds of paçoca were for sale. Be careful you order the one you’re intending!

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Recipes for Rieska, Finnish Flatbread


We’ve been having all sorts of bread cravings here in Salvador, where there is good bread, but we are missing some carb-y favorites like pita and bagels. So in the interim, we’ve taken to finding exotic bread recipes form all over the internet to make when we get home. This recipe from Honest Cooking for Finnish flatbread – Rieska – caught our eye for its simplicity. We’ve seen a few different takes on this bread, whether from the inclusion of potato in the Honest Cooking recipe, to the use of rye flour, to a barley dough-only recipe. In any cake Rieska looks like it is the perfect base for a myriad of toppings.


Rieska as an accompaniment to chili – by dwwebber

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Pastry Post-Doc: The irresistable desserts of Momofuku Milk Bar


Momofuku Milk Bar by Robyn Lee

Meet Christina Tosi , the acclaimed chef of NYC’s Momofuko Milk Bar, who is known for her unique, whimsical and nostalgic desserts. We visited Milk Bar in 2010 and fell in love with Tosi’s creations, especially the cereal milk ice cream and the crack pie. However, we are not in NYC every weekend, so we are looking forward to recreating some of those recipes at home. For some of the cookies, there are even official Milk Bar mixes, and Serious Eats did a test of the mixes against Milk Bar-bought cookies (the compost cookie mix was a hit). Tosi came out with a Milk Bar Cookbook that has some of the delightful recipes from the store, which has further inspired bloggers. For other Milk Bar fans, we have found a number of recipes online we wanted to share with you. Feel free to share more in the comments section! Which are your favorites? I’m most looking forward to making the birthday cake, a riff on the childhood classic Funfetti.


Momofuku Milk Bar Cakes and Pies – by Gary Wong


Cakes and Pies


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Sephardic recipes for Hanukkah

spainWhile Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Hanukkah foods may be more well-known in the USA, Sephardic (Mediterranean) traditional foods are worth a second look if you are hoping to switch up your Hanukkah menu. The mix of Jewish traditions and Mediterranean flavors is definitely a good one. I am very interested to try Jessamyn’s Sephardic Challah Recipe, which seems different than its eggier Eastern European counterpart. Other traditional Sephardic Hanukkah foods include buñuelos, a Spanish cousin to sufganiyot, and even fried turnips. Buñuelos, (aka Bimuelos, Burmuelos, among others) were initially created by Spanish moriscos, but have since spread in popularity across Latin America.


Bunuelos / Bimuelos by Joe Goldberg

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Rick Bayless Teaches Us To Make Guacamole

“Everything is better with bacon.” – Rick Bayless

We were lucky enough to catch Chicago’s own Rick Bayless at a cooking demonstration during the Printer’s Row Lit Fest a few weeks ago. Originally we had considered not even going – too hot, too crowded, we thought – but were shocked when we arrived just a few minutes early to find a few open seats. Stay we did, and we are glad, because over the next fifteen minutes Rick Bayless absolutely blew our minds making a simple bowl of guacamole. Here’s some of his key thoughts, which we have already started incorporating into our home-made guacs:

1. Avocados are amazing. Use Hass avocados – they were bred specifically for guacamole-like uses. They are one of the few fruits that does not ripen on the tree. Amazingly, if picked and left at below 50 degrees, they will never ripen. What this means is that when you buy them at the grocery store they have been pre-refrigerated, and so will not ripen for another 3-5 days. The takeaway: you cannot use an avocado the day you buy it. When buying an avocado, check to make sure the stem is still intact (it will be brown inside otherwise), and afterwards you can store them up to a year in the fridge and they will never go bad. They are ripe when you have left them out for 3-5 days and the top by the stem is squishy.

2. Lime juice and avocado pits: you’re using too much! Leaving avocado pits in the fruit or in guacamole does not help them stay fresh. Neither does adding lime juice. And adding too much of either makes the guacamole taste less like avocado and more like something else. To keep it fresh, only temperature matters. And getting rid of the rumors helps you highlight the other ingredients.

3. Use white onions. They taste better, they are crispier, and it is a sin against cooking to use red or Spanish ones. He said this and he meant it. If you are concerned about them being too overwhelming in the dish, here is how to fix it: Cutting white onions causes chemicals in two different sections of the membrane to interact, producing a kind of sulfuric acid. To stop the reaction, just run them under cold water – this is called “deflaming” the onion in Mexico. It is for this reason…

4. Do not make guacamole in a molcajete! Crushing the onions with the stone mortar and pestle will just re-break the onion membrane and thus ruin all the good washing work you did. Better to make the guacamole in another bowl (mixing it), and then serve it in a molcajete for maximum classiness.

5. Guacamole is largely an American invention, as the USA is largely, as Mr. Bayless put it, “a chip-and-dip culture.” Mexican guacamole is very simple: avocado, garlic, a little lime juice, and perhaps salt and pepper. That’s because it is meant to be used on foods in concert with other accompaniments: fresh cilantro, salsas, etc. When you realize how American guacamole is, you realize that you don’t have to be dependent on stereotypically Mexican ingredients, which brings us to point 6….

6. Avocados are adaptable. They go with sweet, sour, and savory, and do it well. Americans tend to be too limited in how they use avocados, and they tend to not be particularly knowledgeable about the ones they are using. Rick Bayless made a salsa with tomatoes, cilantro, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and – wait for it – bacon. (He even held up a piece of bacon and said “everything is better with bacon.”) Another great combination he recommended: watermelon cubs, habaneros, and mint. Mangoes are great as well in guacamole. Most of us don’t think to use these ingredients, but trust us, they are killer.

You’re welcome!

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Illustrated Bites: A Visual Recipe Blog

Roast Potatoes Illustrated

We think food and art are a pretty natural match, so we were excited to find Heather Diane’s Illustrated Bites blog, which combines the best of both worlds. The blog features recipes and some pretty nifty how-tos, all very playfully and colorfully illustrated.

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Challah Cumulus Clouds

Cozywalls’ challah cumulus clouds

Until I saw this post by Cozywalls, I had never really considered the obvious fact that when Challah is sliced it makes the shape of perfect cumulus clouds (a finding also discovered by others)! Smitten Kitchen has a recipe for challah, a Jewish egg bread, as well as some great braiding instructions, which of course are the most important part in obtaining the cloud shape.

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