Pakistan 🇵🇰 Nankhatai

Three different types of flour appear in these peppery Pakistani cookies; Semolina, all-purpose and chickpea flour. The unique combo gives these cookies a surprising yet delicious taste and texture.

These taste delicious warm with a cup of cocoa or tea but they also travel well for gift-giving.

*Naptime tip: Raw chickpea flour is not delicious, I’d skip a taste of this cookie dough and just dig into the finished cookies.

Nankhatai

Recipe adapted from The Daily Meal. Makes about 40 cookies.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups butter or ghee, at room temperature

1/2 white sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. Vanilla

2 1/2 cups besan (chickpea flour)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup semolina

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. freshly ground black pepper (yes, really that much!)

1 tsp. baking powder

About 40 whole almonds (or 1/2 cup jam for thumbprint cookies)

Method:

Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease or line 2 sheet trays with parchment.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter or ghee and sugars until light in color. Next add the eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, semolina, salt, pepper, and baking powder. Add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and mix until combined.

Scoop into tablespoon-sized balls, rolling them smooth. Place 2″ apart on your sheet trays, pressing an almond into each. (Or make a divot with a 1/2 tsp. measuring spoon to fill with jam partway through cooking.)

Bake almond-topped cookies until bottoms are lightly browned 15-20 minutes.

For thumbprints, remove the cookies after 10 minutes (they will not be fully baked.) Press with the back of the measuring spoon again and fill with a scant amount of jam. Return jam-filled cookies to the oven and bake 5-10 more minutes until golden brown. Cool on a rack, then enjoy! Great for a tea-time treat, fresh out of the oven or you can store them in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

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Venezuela 🇻🇪 Arepas

My friend served an LDS mission in Venezuela and insisted I make one of their staples: Arepas. They’re very similar to pupusas except you stuff them after they’re cooked. Or, you can just leave them as is and serve them like you would rolls, tortillas or chips. The possibilities are endless!

*Naptime Tip: You can stuff these with anything! Leftover taco or burrito filling, sautéed vegetables or even make big ones and use them for a gluten-free sandwiches. These also make great party appetizers!

Cheese-filled Arepas

Recipe from Food and Cooking of South America. Makes 15 (plan on 2-3/person)

Ingredients:

200g/1 3/4 cups masarepa or masa harina

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 1/4 cups water

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

200g/7 oz. melting cheese such as queso fresco or mozzarella, cut into 1″ squares, 1/4″ thick

Salsa to serve

Method:

Combine the masa harina and salt in a bowl. Gradually stir in the water to make a soft dough. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes.Once rested, divide the dough into 15 balls, about 1 1/2 tablespoons each. Wetting hands slightly, form the balls into 2″ circles, about 1/2″ thick.Heat 2 tsp. Oil in a large skillet over medium low to medium heat. Working in batches, fry arepas for 3-4 minutes per side until crispy, browned and cooked through. Add more oil between batches. Transfer cooked arepas to a cutting board to cool. Once cool enough to handle, cut open a pocket and stuff in a piece of cheese. Return to the pan on low and heat until cheese is melty. Top with salsa and serve.

Guatemala 🇬🇹 Hilacha

We wanted tacos for Cinco de Mayo but having already cooked Mexico, I looked to their neighbor, Guatemala for a new recipe. Enter Hilachas! Shredded beef in a sauce of tangy tomatoes and tomatillos and smoky chilies that gets all wrapped up in a warm corn tortilla.

You can bulk it up by adding potatoes and carrots to the meat, which is traditional or just eat it as is. Serve it with plenty of corn tortillas, rice and beans. And Tres Leches for dessert since Guatemala, and a surprising amount of other Latin countries claim it as their own.

*Naptime tip: If needed, you can braise the beef in advance then just reheat it with the sauce before serving.

Hilachas

Recipe slightly adapted from Whats4eats.com. Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

2 lbs. Beef, flank or skirt steak, cubed

5 cups water

1 tsp. Salt

1 onion, chopped

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1 cup chopped tomatillos

3 Guajillo chiles, dry toasted in a skillet, deseeded and torn into 1″ pieces

2- 3 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 lb. potatoes, peeled and chopped (optional)

3 carrots, peeled and chopped (optional)

1-2 corn tortillas, blitzed into crumbs (if needed to thick)

To serve-

Chopped cilantro

Chopped red onion

Rice

Warm corn tortillas

Method:

Place the beef, water and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the beef is very tender.

While the beef simmers, place the onion, tomatoes, tomatillos and chiles in a food processor or blender and blitz, adding a little water if necessary to obtain a thick purée.

Heat the veg oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion-tomato purée and simmer, stirring regularly, until the puree is cooked down and darkens somewhat in color, about 10 minutes. Then remove from heat.

Once the beef is tender, transfer the pieces of beef to a plate to cool, reserving the broth. When cool enough to handle, shred the beef.

Add the shredded beef and 2-3 cups of the broth to the onion-tomato puree and season with salt and pepper. (Use 3 cups if adding potatoes and carrots) If just serving the beef, simmer 15 minutes.

If adding the veg, stir in the potatoes and carrots and simmer until tender about 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the tortilla crumbs to thicken as desired. Serve with chopped cilantro, diced onion, warm corn tortillas and/or rice.

Denmark 🇩🇰 Frikadeller and Agurkesalat

The funny thing about countries is that just because you cross an imaginary line into a new one, it doesn’t immediately change the cuisine. The Swedish love meatballs and the Danes love meatballs and both varieties are similar. Danish meatballs are called frikadeller. And this simple cucumber salad called Agurkesalat is a refreshing compliment.

*Naptime Tip: Make a double batch of both meatballs and sauce. Pour the sauce into a pouch and freeze along with half the meatballs for a quick dinner later.

Frikadeller with Agurkesalat

Recipe adapted from Fav Family Recipes

Ingredients:

For the meatballs-

3/4 lb. ground beef

1 lb. ground pork

1 large onion, grated

1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs

2 Tbs. Flour

2 eggs

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. Pepper

1/4 tsp. Nutmeg

3 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp. Chopped fresh sage leaves

1/4 cup whole milk or half and half

2-3 Tbs. butter

For the gravy-

Drippings from Frickadeller

2-3 Tbs. butter

3 Tbs. flour

1 cup heavy cream

1- 1 1/2 cups milk

1 Tbs. beef bouillon

1/4 tsp. Nutmeg

Salt

Pepper

Lemon juice to taste

Method:

Combine the beef, pork and onion. Add breadcrumbs, flour, eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg, garlic, sage leaves and milk or half & half. Mix gently until well combined.

Melt 1 Tbs. of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Scoop tablespoon sized balls of the meat mixture into the pan and fry in batches, 3-5 minutes each side until browned and tender but no longer pink. Add more butter between batches as needed.

Drain cooked meatballs on paper towels then tent with foil.

For the gravy- Put 2-3 tablespoons of butter to the now empty skillet still over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk, scraping up all the delicious browned bit. Add the bullion, then slowly whisk in the heavy cream and milk.

Continue whisking until bubbling and thickened. Season with nutmeg, salt & pepper to taste. Finish with a squeeze of lemon. Spoon the gravy over meatballs and serve with rice or potatoes and a side of Agurkesalat.

Agurkesalat

Ingredients:

1 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced

1/4 cup white vinegar

1-2 Tbs. sugar

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/4 tsp. Pepper

2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill or 1 tsp. Dried dill

Method:

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and dill. Add the cucumbers and toss to coat. Chill until ready to serve.

Bhutan 🇧🇹 Shamu Datshi

Bhutanese cuisine features a lot of cheese. Ema Datshi is a chilies and cheese dish appearing at breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s eaten at least once a day. Shamu datshi is another common cheese dish, with mushrooms as the star and the spice is optional. Both are traditionally served over red rice.

*Naptime Tip: The red rice takes twice as long to cook as white rice, so plan accordingly.

Shamu Datshi

Recipe slightly adapted from Arundati

1 lb. sliced cremini mushrooms

2 Tbs. butter

1/2 cup water

1-2 red chilies (like Chile de Arbol) (optional)

2 cups shredded melting cheese such as fontina, gruyere or Monterey Jack Cheese

1 tsp. Corn starch mixed with 2 tsp. water

Salt

3 green onions, thinly sliced

Method:

Melt the butter in a saucepan over high heat. Add the mushrooms and brown 3-5 minutes. Add the water and chilies, if using, then cover. Turn heat to medium low and simmer 5-8 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Stir in the cheese and corn starch slurry. Season with salt as needed. Sprinkle with green onions and serve over red rice.

Spain 🇪🇸 Chicken, Shrimp and Squid Paella

Paella is party food! It’s meant to be the showstopper that feeds a crowd. And that is why I love it. You can even buy (or rent) 5 foot wide paella pans to feed the whole neighborhood!

Flavorful, garlicky rice is a given, but what you put on top is up to you! In Spain, a myriad of seafood, veggies, meat and game appear in paella such as clams, squid, veal, mussels, shrimp, sausage, mushrooms, rabbit, quail or whatever else is fresh that day.

I like to serve mine with a lemony saffron aioli (garlic mayo) to really send it over the top.

*Naptime tip: Homemade stock really is the best for paella. You can make it and the sofrito well in advance, freezing any leftovers for future paellas. Use the shrimp shells in your stock and the meat to top your paella.

Chicken Shrimp and Squid Paella

Recipes adapted from Paella by Alberto Herraiz. Serves 5-6

Ingredients:

For the sofrito-

1 scant cup olive oil

2 red onions, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, grated

800 g (1 3/4 lb.) canned or fresh whole peeled tomatoes, diced

Pinch of sugar

Salt and pepper

For the aioli-

1 Tbs. olive oil

3 cloves garlic, grated

1/4 tsp. Saffron

1 cup mayo

Juice from 1 lemon

Salt

For the paella-

4 cups homemade chicken/shrimp stock

1/4 cup olive oil

3 cups short grain rice like Calasparra

1 cup sofrito

2 tsp. Smoked paprika, divided

3/4 tsp. Saffron threads

3 boneless chicken thighs

Salt and pepper

12 oz. calamari (squid), cleaned

12 oz. Medium Shrimp, peeled and deveined

Juice from 1/2 lemon

1/2 green bell pepper, sliced

1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

More lemon, cut into wedges to serve

Method:

For the sofrito- Put the olive oil and onions in a large pan over medium low heat and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Tip in the diced tomatoes and stir. Simmer over medium low heat until the sofrito has thickened considerably, about 50 minutes. Stirring occasionally.

Season with salt and pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Pulse in blender or with stick blender until mostly smooth. Cool until ready to use.

For the aioli-

Put the olive oil, garlic and saffron in a cold skillet or small pan then set over medium heat. Cook 3-5 minutes or until softened and fragrant. Remove from heat and scrap it into a small bowl. Add the mayo, lemon juice and salt to taste. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

For the paella-

Set a rack on the lowest level in the oven and heat to 450°F.

In a large, oven proof skillet or paella pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the rice, stirring to toast 3-5 minutes or until just starting to brown. Carefully stir in the sofrito, 1 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika and the saffron. Once bubbling, pour in the stock and stir.

Nestle the chicken thighs in the center of the pan, season the meat with salt and pepper then place the pan in the oven. Bake 10-15 minutes or until rice is tender and chicken registers 165°F.

While the rice cooks, toss the shrimp and squid (in separate bowls or the same) with salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika and the juice from 1/2 a lemon. Have your bell pepper ready too.

Carefully open the oven and poke the shrimp, squid and peppers into the rice. Work fast, but make it look pretty!

Close the oven and cook 3-5 more minutes or until the shrimp is opaque and squid is tender. Remove from oven and top with thawed peas. Finish with a sprinkle of salt all over. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and aioli.

Australia 🇦🇺 Pavlova

Why did I wait so long to make pavlova?!? I knew what it was, but always thought it was one of those “light refreshments” that leave you hungry at the party.

I’m happy to report, I was very wrong. It’s a deliciously crispy meringue, with a marshmallowy center topped with pillowy whipped cream and a heap of fresh fruit. It is light, but perfectly satisfying. And naturally gluten-free!

Seriously, now I know why Australia and New Zealand fight over who owns this dessert. One bite, and you’ll know too.

*Naptime tip: You can make the meringue in the afternoon or even in the morning and just let it sit in an off oven until ready to assemble. Also, a little corn syrup in your whipped cream helps it hold stiff peaks for 1-2 days so that can be made ahead too.

Pavlova

Recipe slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker. Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

For the meringue-

6 egg whites, at room temperature

1½ cups granulated sugar

Pinch of cream of tartar

For the topping-

1¼ cups heavy cream

2 Tbs. powdered sugar

1 Tbs. corn syrup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

About 2 cups of fresh fruit

Method:

Heat the oven to 250°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch circle in the middle as a guide. (I did 9″ and it was too wide, taller is better.)

For the meringue- Beat the egg whites on low for 1 minute, then turn up the speed and whip until stiff peaks form. Continue beating while slowly adding the granulated sugar and cream of tartar. Whip until glossy, 5-10 minutes. Spoon the meringue onto the parchment and use a spatula to shape it into a tall cylinder. Smooth or decorate the sides as desired. Don’t fuss about the top, it’ll be covered with cream and fruit.

Bake the meringue for 1 hour, or until firm to the touch. Then turn off the oven and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the pavolva to cool completely in the oven, at least 1 more hour.

For the topping- When ready to serve, beat the heavy cream with the powdered sugar, corn syrup and vanilla until it forms stiff peaks.

With spatulas and conviction, transfer the pavlova to a serving plate. Top with the whipped cream and fresh fruit. Serve immediately.

Egypt 🇪🇬 Om Ali (Bread Pudding)

Om Ali is a bread pudding named for the mother of the ancient Egyptian ruler, al-Mansur Ali, the son of Aybak.

After a long, soap opera, Om Ali, ordered her bondmaids to kill the villainous Shajar al-Durr in revenge for stealing her husband and killing him as well as plotting against her son becoming the new Sultan.

Shajar al-Durr was beaten to death by Om Ali’s bondmaids. In celebration, Om Ali ordered the cook to create a new and delicious dessert and distribute it to everyone announcing the death of Shajar al-Durr.

🎶Ding dong, the wicked witch is dead!🎶

*Naptime tip: You can bake off the puff pastry, cool it and store it in a ziplock bag for several days, if needed before assembling the dessert.

Om Ali (Egyptian Bread Pudding)

Recipe adapted from Stella’s Meza and All Recipes Serves 8

Ingredients:

1 17.5 Oz, package of puff-pastry, thawed 40 minutes

1/2 cup golden raisins

2 cups assorted nuts such as pistachios, pine nuts, peanuts, walnuts or almonds- toasted and roughly chopped

1/3 cup shredded coconut

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 cups heavy cream

1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup sugar, divided

Pinch of salt

2 Tbs. honey

2 cups whole milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. orange blossom water, orange oil or rose water

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place thawed, unfolded sheets of puff pastry on a parchment or Silpat-lined sheet tray (cutting them to fit). Bake 15-20 minutes or until puffed and well-browned. Set aside to cool. Leave the oven on.

In a bowl, stir together the raisins, chopped nuts, coconut and cinnamon. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the heavy cream into stiff peaks with 1/4 cup of the sugar. Chill until ready to use.

In a medium saucepan, stir together and heat the sweetened condensed, sugar, a pinch of salt, honey, and whole milk over medium heat until steaming. Remove from heat and add vanilla and orange blossom/rose water or orange oil.

Butter a 9×9″ pan or small casserole dish. (Or ramekins for individual desserts.) Tear the pastry into bite-size pieces and scatter over the bottom of the dish. Pour 1/3 of the hot milk overtop. Sprinkle over 1/4 of the nut mixture then press down to make sure the pastry is soaked with milk.

Continue layering torn pastry, hot milk, nuts and press, more pastry, milk, nuts and press.

Finally, spread about 1/2 of the whipped cream overtop and sprinkle on the last of the nuts. (Reserve the remaining whipped cream for serving.)

Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes then broil for 2 minutes or until top is golden brown. Serve hot with reserved whipped cream or ice cream.

Burma 🇲🇲 Khow Suey (Coconut Curry Spaghetti)

This Burmese dish seems to borrow flavors from both China and India, and combine them into one unique and delicious dish.

*Naptime tip: Precooked Chicken can also be used, just toss it in the sauce at the end to heat it through.

Khow Suey

Recipe slightly adapted from What an Indian Recipe

Ingredients:

3/4 lb. spaghetti

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 inch of fresh ginger, grated

5 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp. Turmeric

1/2 tsp. Chili powder

1 Tbs. Besan (gram/chickpea flour) or AP flour

1 can Coconut milk

1/4 tsp. Crushed red pepper (optional)

Soy sauce or salt

To garnish-

Chopped green onions

Canned or homemade fried onions

Chopped cilantro

Chopped green chilies (Serrano, jalapeño)

Hard boiled egg – cut in wedges

Lime wedges

Method:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add dry spaghetti and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water when draining.

While the pasta cooks, sauté the onions in vegetable oil over medium high heat until translucent. Add the chicken and cook 2 minutes.

Stir in the ginger, garlic, turmeric, chili powder and chickpea (or all purpose) flour. Cook 30 seconds then pour in coconut milk. Stir until bubbling. Simmer 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked.

Season with soy sauce or salt and crushed red pepper, if desired. Stir in cooked spaghetti. Thin out the sauce with as much of the reserved pasta water as needed. Top each portion of noodles with some diced chilies, green onions, cilantro and fried onions, with a lime and wedge of hard-boiled egg on the side. Enjoy!

Turkey 🇹🇷 Pide

Another boat of bread and cheese! My husband’s favorite thing these days: Cheese boats. If you mixed Armenian Lahmajoon with Georgian Khachapuri you’d get Turkish Pide! Feel free to change up the toppings as desired.

*Naptime tip: Instead of letting the dough rise at room temp, it can be covered with plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days before using…in fact the flavor will be even better!

Pide

Recipe fromArbuz.com

Ingredients:

For the dough-

1 Tbsp. active dry yeast

1 cup warm milk

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 egg

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

3 cups all purpose flour

For the toppings-

2 Tbsp. butter or vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

10 oz. lean ground beef

2 cloves garlic, grated

1/2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

2 Tbsp. of fresh mint, chopped (optional)

2 Tbsp. juice of lemon

1 medium tomato, diced

1 1/2 to 2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated

2 eggs (one per Pide)

Method:

For the dough- Pour the warm milk in a medium bowl. Stir in the yeast and wait 10 minutes. Next add the sugar, salt, egg and oil. Mix well, then stir in the flour. Once a shaggy dough comes together, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 5 minutes into smooth and springy dough, adding up to 1/2 cup more flour, if needed.

Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel. Leave to rise 60-90 minutes or until doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, prepare the topping for Pide. Also, preheat the oven to 400°F with a pizza stone (if possible) on the second-highest rack.

For the topping- Heat the butter or oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté until translucent. Next add the ground beef and sauté until browned. Then stir in the garlic, salt, pepper and cumin. Cook until spices become fragrant (30-60 seconds) then remove from heat.

To the meat mixture, stir in the chopped tomatoes, parsley, mint (if using) and lemon juice. Mix ingredients well and adjust seasonings as needed.

Once the dough has risen, divide it in half. Roll each piece out on a lightly floured piece of parchment to an 18″ long oval.

Evenly spread half of the meat topping on each oval. Sprinkle on the tomatoes followed by the cheese.

Fold in the sides of the Pide, creating a crust and boat-like shape.

Beat one egg with a fork. Using a pastry brush, brush the sides of one Pide with the beaten egg. Slowly pour the remaining egg evenly over the toppings. Repeat with the second egg for the second pide.

Using an overturned sheet tray or a pizza peel, slide the pide one at a time, parchment and all onto the pizza stone. Bake 20-25 minutes or until crust is cooked through and well browned. Cut in half lengthwise then into wedges and serve.