Iran 🇮🇷 Nan-e Berenji (Rice cookies)

I went looking for some interesting international treats to send in a Mother’s Day package and found these. Nan-e Berenji are common Persian party fare. They’re just like shortbread cookies but made with rice flour and oil so they’re gluten-free and dairy free. They’d be great with a cup of cocoa or tea.

*Naptime Tip: The dough needs to chill overnight but can be refrigerated for several days before baking.

Nan-e Berenji (Persian Rice Cookies)

Recipe compiled from Ahead of Thyme and The Daily Meal. Makes about 32

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1/2 tsp. Vanilla

4 cups rice flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. ground cardamom

Method:

In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat again until mixed. Stir in the flour, baking powder and cardamom. Once a soft dough is formed, put it into a large ziplock bag and seal, then flatten it to 1/3″ thick. Refrigerate overnight.When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325°F.

Slit the ziplock bag down the sides so you can cookie-cut the dough right on the plastic. Cut the chilled dough into any shape and place on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet, at least 1″ apart.

Bake for 12-18 minutes, or until the cookies are dry, lightly colored on the bottom but pale on top. Serve.

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Bahamas 🇧🇸 Spicy Macaroni and Cheese

Cheesy macaroni, spiked with habanero. This Bahamian side, simply called “macaroni” on the island, is a great way to kick up a picnic plate!

*Naptime Tips: Serve hot or room temperature. Don’t skip on the habanero, there’s plenty of cheese to tame the flame.

Spicy Macaroni and Cheese

Recipe from True Bahamian Food Tour

1 lb. uncooked elbow macaroni

1/2 cup butter

2 lbs. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1 large green bell pepper, diced

1 medium onion, diced

4 eggs

black pepper

salt

2 tsp. paprika

1 habanero or goat pepper, finely diced or 1 1/2 Tbs. habanero hot sauce

12 oz. evaporated milk

Method:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add uncooked macaroni pasta and boil 5-7 minutes until not quite tender.

Drain the pasta and place it back in the pot. Add the butter and stir until it’s melted.

Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Reserve the last 1/4 for the top.

Stir in the paprika, black pepper, onion, bell pepper, and the finely diced habanero or goat pepper.

Beat the eggs with the evaporated milk and stir into the pasta.

Grease a 9×13″ pan with butter or cooking spray.

Pour the macaroni mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish. Top with remainder of cheese and loosely cover with foil.

Bake at 375°F for 1 hour covered then 5-10 minutes or until the top is bubbling and lightly browned.

Cool at least 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve hot or room temperature.

The Netherlands 🇳🇱 Bitterballen (Gravy Croquettes)

I saved a recipe for Bitterballen months ago and then while researching Aruban food, I stumbled across the recipe again. If these crunchy, meaty, gravy bites are good enough for the Dutch to bring on their island vacation, then they must be worth trying.

Back in the mid-1900s, bitterballen were the housewife’s perfect way to repurpose yesterday’s roast meat. And I am ALL about bringing back that tradition.

* Naptime tip: Since the gravy has to chill before scooping, it can be made several days in advance, if needed. These can also be frozen for quick party food!

Bitterballen

Recipe slightly adapted from The Dutch Table

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of flour

3-4 cups beef, chicken or vegetable stock

3 Tbs. minced onion

2 cups of shredded cooked beef, chicken, or pork (or even chopped roasted veg for a meatless version)

Salt

Pepper

Nutmeg

2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley

For the breading

1/2 cup flour

Salt

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups dry bread crumbs

Method:

Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes to cook the roux.

Slowly stir in all the stock, whisking the whole time. Simmer 5 minutes on a medium low heat. Stir in the onion and the shredded beef. Simmer 3-5 more minutes. Add salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Stir in parsley, then remove from heat.

Pour the meat gravy into a shallow container, cover and refrigerate for several hours, or until the gravy has solidified.

Set up your dredging station: One bowl of flour seasoned with salt, one with the beaten eggs, one with the breadcrumbs.

Take a heaping tablespoon of the chilled gravy and quickly roll it into a small ball. Roll it lightly through the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Make sure each bitterbal is well coated. Set each ball aside on a plate. When done, freeze the balls while the oil in your fryer heats up to 375°F.

Fry in batches, turning as needed to reach golden brown-deliciousness. Serve hot with a nice grainy or spicy mustard.

Chad 🇹🇩 La Bouillie (Breakfast porridge)

This rice or wheat porridge from the country of Chad has a surprising peanut flavor with a slight buttermilk tang that’s sure to shake up your morning!

*Naptime tip: This Chadian breakfast favorite is also a common baby food!

La Bouillie

Recipe from Tchad.org, serves 4-5

Ingredients:

5 cups of water, divided

1 cup rice or whole wheat (wheat will take extra time to cook)

3 Tbs. natural peanut butter (for authenticity, this should be pure crushed peanuts, no additives)

Pinch of salt

3 Tbs. wheat, millet or corn flour

2-3 Tbs. buttermilk, or 1 Tbs. lemon juice (optional)

1 cup or whole milk

Sugar to taste

Method:

In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil then add the dry rice or wheat. Stir in the peanut butter and a pinch of salt.

Mix the flour (wheat, corn or millet) with the remaining cup of water (cool or likewarm) then pour the liquid into the boiling mixture.

Cook 10-15 minutes for rice (20-30 for wheat), stirring frequently until tender.

Stir in the buttermilk or lemon juice, if using and add sugar to taste. Pour in as much of the whole milk as needed to thin it out to the desired porridge consistency. Serve hot.

Aruba 🇦🇼 Keshi Yena (stuffed cheese)

At its heart, this Aruban dish is a mashup of leftovers. But the particular mix of flavors showcases the cultural diversity of the island.

Leftover meat was seasoned with Caribbean spices and pantry staples then spooned into an empty rind of Dutch Edam cheese. Then the whole thing gets baked or steamed to melty perfection.

These days, most chefs use slices of Edam or aged Gouda (not smoked) to line individual baking dishes and fill those with the spiced-meat. Serve with crusty bread or cornbread.

*Naptime tip: The filling can be made in advance and refrigerated until ready to fill your cheese-lined dishes.

Keshi Yena

Recipe adapted from A Taste For Travel

1 pound of cooked and shredded chicken or ground beef

1 small onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1 garlic clove, grated

1 Tbs. raisins

4 prunes, chopped

1/4 cup green pitted olives, coarsely chopped

1 Tbs. capers

1/2 Scotch Bonnet pepper, finely chopped (or a few dashes of Habanero hot sauce)

1 Roma tomato seeded and chopped or 2 whole canned tomatoes, chopped

1 Tbs. ketchup

2 Tbs. tomato paste

2 Tbs. sweet relish

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1 Tbs. chopped parsley

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 to 3/4 pound Edam or Gouda cheese, sliced

Method:

Warm and brown the shredded chicken or ground beef in a large skillet over medium to medium high heat.

Add in all the remaining ingredients except for the Edam cheese and parsley.

Simmer 10-15 minutes.

Grease a medium-sized casserole pan for family style or 4-5 ramekins or little crocks. Line the bottom and sides with the slices of cheese, making sure the pieces overlap.

Fill the dishes with the meat mixture and top with another slice of cheese to fully encase the filling.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or place inside a steamer basket and steam for 5-8 minutes.

Garnish with parsley and serve, or wait 5 minutes then use a paring knife to unmold the cheese onto a plate. Top with an onion salsa like this one or a thin mixture of tomato and hot sauce. Serve hot with sliced toasted French bread or cornbread.

South Korea 🇰🇷 Samgyupsal Gui with Gamja Jorim (Grilled Pork Belly with sweet and salty potatoes)

My brother-in-law, Zach, served his LDS mission in South Korea and he told me Samgyupsal gui (grilled pork belly) is what all the missionaries crave after returning home.

Pork belly is uncured, unsmoked bacon. Pair that crispy, fatty meat with some tangy spicy kimchi, sweet and spicy gochujang sauce and some fresh lettuce and you’ve got a delicious bite for sure.

As for these sweet and salty potatoes, they’re called Gamja Jorin and are a common panchan (appetizer/side dish) in Korean. I fell in love with these the last time I ate at a Korean restaurant. And I’m not the only one! I’ve also learned they’re a lunchbox favorite in Korea! So if you’re looking to change up your kids’ lunch, why not try Korean?

*Naptime tip: Make the potatoes in the morning so they have plenty of time to chill before dinner time. And the next day, you can add eggs to any leftovers for a mean Korean breakfast burrito!

Gamja Jorim

(Sweet and salty potatoes)

Recipe from To Food with Love

Ingredients:

3 medium-sized potatoes (approx 2 cups), cut into 1/2 inch sticks or cubes

2 Tbs. oil

½ cup water

2½ Tbs. soy sauce

2 Tbs. Corn Syrup

1½ Tbs. sugar

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp roasted sesame seeds (optional)

Method:

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the uncooked potatoes (turning occasionally) on med-high heat for 5-7 minutes until half cooked and lightly seared on all sides. Add the water, soy, corn syrup, sugar and garlic and simmer until potatoes are cooked and the sauce thickens and is no longer runny, 6-8 minutes. Add salt to taste. Finish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and chill until ready to serve.

Samgyupsal Gui

(Grilled Porkbelly lettuce wraps)

Recipe adapted from Korean Bapsang

Ingredients:

For the pork belly-

1 lb. thick sliced fresh pork belly (1/4″-1/2″ thick)

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon salt

black pepper to taste

2 green chili peppers (optional)

(It’s also common to grill sliced onions, mushrooms and/or kimchi with the pork.)

3 – 4 scallions, thinly sliced to garnish

1 head of green leaf or butter lettuce

For the sauce-

3 Tbs. gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste)

2 tsp. sesame oil

2-3 Tbs. rice wine vinegar

1 Tbs. sugar

3-4 Tbs. water

Method:

Cut the pork belly slices in half so they’re smaller to grill. Put them into a bowl or plastic bag and add the garlic, oil, salt, pepper and chilies if using. Add in onions or mushrooms, if desired. Toss to coat. Set aside or chill until ready to grill.

Put all the ingredients for the sauce into a jar then shake to combine.

Heat the grill, skillet or griddle to medium high or high.

Grill any veggies and kimchi as desired. Grill the pork until crispy on both sides. Toss the pork with a little of the sauce then return to the heat for a minute to cook on that glaze.

Serve the pork and kimchi immediately in lettuce wraps, top with more sauce and some chopped scallions. Pair with steamed rice and your potatoes.

Spain 🇪🇸 Torta de Santiago

Torta de Santiago means “Cake of Saint James” and has been around for centuries. It is typically stenciled with the St. James cross which is a sword-like symbol representing the national Patron Saint’s defense of Christendom.

And on top of that, it’s a really delicious and easy cake! It’s a beautifully moist, orange-scented almond cake, simply finished with a dusting of powdered sugar.

*Naptime tip: Before cutting out your cross stencil, attach a piece of tape as a tab so you can lift your stencil without disturbing the design. And a tiny paintbrush dipped in water can remove stray bits of sugar.

*Bonus! It’s gluten free and Passover friendly.

Torta de Santiago

Recipe from Goodie Godmother. Serves 8

Ingredients:

6 eggs, separated

1 cup packed brown sugar (213 g)

2 1/3 cups almond meal (228 g)

zest of 1 orange (or 1 tsp. Orange oil)

1 Tbs. fresh orange juice

1 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

Powdered sugar

Method:

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 9″ springform pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the brown sugar until lightened in color. Stir in the almond meal, zest, juice and extracts.

Fold 1/4 of the whites into the almond mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in the rest of the whites until only a few streaks remain.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center shows a few crumbs. Cool in pan on a wire rack, then invert and remove parchment. Choose the prettiest side to be the top. Add your tabbed stencil like this one then dust with powdered sugar. Remove stencil and serve.

Tonga 🇹🇴 FaiKaKai (Coconut-Caramel Dumplings)

We love coconut around here, especially my daughter. She begs me to sprinkle some in a little bowl for her to eat while I put the rest in a recipe. And this traditional Tongan dessert called FaiKaKai (pronounced F-EYE-KA-KA-EYE) uses coconut milk, a little coconut flavoring AND toasted coconut…triple yum!

The dumplings themselves are a blank canvas but the coconut caramel dresses them up right pretty! And, as is to be expected with a Tongan dish, it feeds a crowd.

*Naptime tip: You can totally make the caramel sauce ahead of time and store it at room temp. Just warm it up while your dumplings cook.

FaiKaKai (Coconut-Caramel Dumplings)

Recipe adapted from Pioneer Palate.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

For the dumplings-

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 Tbs. Baking powder

1 tsp. Salt

1 cup whole milk

3 Tbs. butter, melted

For the Coconut Caramel-

4 cups sugar

1 14 oz. can of Coconut Milk

A dash of salt

1 tsp. Vanilla extract

1 tsp. Coconut flavoring

Toasted coconut and ice cream to serve

Method:

For the dumplings- Bring 4-6 cups of water to a boil in a stockpot or deep sauté pan.

Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Microwave the milk until just warm, about 1 minute. Stir the warmed milk and melted butter into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until incorporated and smooth.

Drop dumplings by the tablespoon (you can use a spring-loaded scoop) into the boiling water. You should have about 18 dumplings. Turn the heat to low, cover, and cook until the dumplings have doubled in size, 15 to 18 minutes.

For the Coconut Caramel- While the dumplings cook, put 4 cups of sugar in a large, light-colored skillet and cook on medium high heat stirring frequently at first, then constantly when it really starts melting. First it’ll clump, then the clumps will melt and turn golden.

Keeping a close eye on the caramel, pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan and heat until steamy but not boiling. Keep hot.

Once the caramel reaches a deep golden brown and most if not all of the clumps have melted, carefully and slowly begin adding the hot coconut milk. Take your time, stirring constantly until all the coconut milk has been added. Stir in the salt, vanilla and coconut flavoring. If any unmelted clumps remain, strain them out.

To assemble- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the dumplings into a large serving bowl and cover with the caramel sauce. Serve dumplings warm with plenty of sauce, ice cream and toasted coconut.

Antigua and Barbuda 🇦🇬 Salt Cod Stew and Ducana

I love sweet and savory combos and this Antiguan specialty fits the bill. This dish pairs a warm-spiced sweet potato dumpling, with a salty, tangy fish stew and some buttery spinach to round it all out.

*Naptime Tip: Use salt cod for the stew if you can find it, but if you can’t, don’t bother making it yourself. It’s time consuming (2-3 weeks) and you’re just drying it out to rehydrate it again, so just poach fresh cod.

Salt Cod Stew and Ducana

Recipes adapted from Kitchen Tested

Method:

For the Salt Cod stew-

1 lb. fresh cod or salt cod

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 1/2 bell peppers, any colors, cut into strips

2 cloves garlic, grated

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

8-oz can tomato sauce

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 tsp black pepper

Salt to taste

For the Ducana-

2 cups grated sweet potatoes (white or orange)

2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes

1 1/2 cups water

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1 tsp. Ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. Salt

3/4 cup raisins

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp. Baking powder

Method:

For the fish- If using salt cod, soak the fish pieces in water for about 4 hours then simmer gently in water for 30-45 minutes. If using fresh cod, simmer the fish in salted water 5-8 minutes until cooked. Set aside to cool.

For the Ducana- Set a large pot on the stove to boil. Stir together the grated sweet potato with the coconut, water, sugar and spices. Fold in the raisins, baking powder and flour until combined.

Lay out 8 squares of aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray and spoon about 1/2 cup of mixture on to each square. Fold each packet over, tuck in the sides and roll up tight.

Place the ducana packets in the boiling water and cook 20-30 minutes. If you open a packet and it’s dry (not gooey) it’s done.

For the stew- While the ducana cooks, pour the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat and add the peppers and onions. Sauté until the vegetables are softened and starting to brown.

Stir in the garlic, cook 30 more seconds. Pour in the tomato sauce and vinegar and add the fish. Stir to combine, breaking the fish into bite-size pieces. Simmer over medium low heat 5-10 minutes. Season with black pepper and salt to taste.

To finish- Carefully remove the ducana packets from the boiling water. Unwrap and serve along with the salt fish stew and some buttered sautéed spinach.

Bosnia and Herzegovina 🇧🇦 Meat-Filled Burek

Phyllo-filled sweet and savory pastries are all over Eastern Europe. I made a cheese and yogurt filled one called Banitsa from Bulgaria that my husband just loved. So, when I asked him to help me search for a Bosnian recipe, he was naturally drawn to another savory Burek. This one comes together quite quickly and makes a great weeknight meal served with some plain yogurt and greens on the side.

*Naptime Tip: Remember to thaw your Phyllo dough 2 hours before using! Also, there is no shame in patching up tears in your spiral with a strip of buttered dough.

Bosnian Burek

Serves 4-5 Recipe slightly adapted from Manu’s Menu

Ingredients:

For the filling-

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil1 medium onion, chopped

1 lb. Ground beef or lamb

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 garlic cloves, grated

3 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley

1 Tbs. sweet paprika

For the pastry-

1 package filo pastry (only thaw 1 sleeve)

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 egg lightly beaten

1 Tbs. sesame seeds

Plain yogurt to serve

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until softened and starting to brown. Add the ground meat and cook until the meat is thoroughly browned. Stir in the salt, pepper and garlic. Sauté 30 seconds, then remove from heat. (Drain off excess grease if necessary.)

Off heat, add the paprika and chopped parsley. Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Lay a 3 foot-long sheet of plastic wrap on the counter. Lay 3 phyllo sheets (short end to short end) on top of the plastic, overlapping each other 1-2 inches to create one long rectangle of pastry. Brush lightly with some melted butter, you don’t need to coat the entire surface.

Lay three more sheets of phyllo on top of the first layer, staggering the seams slightly. Lightly butter. Add one more layer of phyllo, and one more brushing of butter.

Spoon a line of the meat mixture down a long side of your pastry, keeping it at least 1 inch from all the edges.

We’re ready to roll! Tuck in the short sides to cover the meat. Then, using the long edge of the plastic wrap to help you lift evenly, roll the phyllo, tightly encasing the meat and keep rolling until you have one very long snake.

Staying on the plastic wrap, carefully coil the snake into a tight spiral (patching tears with a thin, buttered strip of extra phyllo dough if needed.)

Using the plastic wrap as a sling, lift your spiral on to the baking sheet and slide out the plastic. (Wrap the remaining phyllo dough tightly in plastic and reserve for another use.)

Brush the entire spiral with the egg wash and sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown. Cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

Slice into wedges or unravel slightly to cut into short sections. Serve with plain yogurt.