The Culinary Traveler: Moroccan Bread with Sesame and Aniseed and Morrocan Mint Tea

There are an entire world of rustic ethnic breads that are easily reproduced in your modern home kitchen. These are breads that were once only available regionally, tasted by the adventurous traveler. But no more. The invisible family boundries are down and the light is rushing in. What is old is now new. What was hidden by geography and religion, is now open to interpretation. Bakers are pushing the envelope. They want to master the techniques.

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The Baker: Russian Challah (Jewish Egg Bread)

This is my friend Ilana Sharum’s grandmother’s recipe from Russia, which she had transcribed over the phone to me from her recipe written in cursive Hebrew. It is one of my most treasured recipes and I make it for just about every special occasion. There is a saying that when you make this traditional bread (every Friday), you are creating an atmosphere, not just food.

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So You Wanna Host An End of Summer Potluck-A Chat About Tips of the Trade

I get lots of questions about how to do a potluck and tips on giving a successful end-of-summer outdoor buffet party. Here are some off the cuff Q&As and a favorite recipe for entertaining.

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The Legend, The Lore, and How to Make the Ultimate Buckwheat Crêpe

Ti Couz (“the old house” in Gaelic) is a popular San Francisco crêperie bretonne conceived, owned, and run by my friend Sylvie Le Mer, who was born and raised in Quimper in Lower Brittany, France. Once a staple in the diet of both the rich and the poor, savory buckwheat crêpes, known as krampouz, are traditional in this area of France.

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The Culinary Traveler: The Forgotten Cereal of the Ancients: Quinoa

Quinoa translates to “mother” in Quechua, one of the main languages of native Andean peoples and Incan descendants. It was a staple highland grain of equal importance as maize, and considered a premium food source of strength and endurance for working in the thin mountain air.

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Savory Dumplings-Staples of our Ancestors’ Kitchen

I like to remind bakers about dumplings. That is European style dumplings-matzo balls, gnocchi, potato dumplings, and späetzle, not stuffed Asian dumplings, which are in a category all their own. Large or small, sweet or savory, dumplings are little round balls, spheres, or small fat sausage shapes made from flour, potatoes, semolina, or breadcrumbs, then boiled.

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Bread Machine: Soft Pretzels

Pretzels, with their beguiling iconography of crossed arms connoting the four seasons or the folded arms of Christ, were said to be invented in a medieval monastery as a reward for children saying their prayers. They were often made in a size proportioned to the individual child.

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My Life in A Grain of Rice and How I Found My Rice Cooker

“Your first look at the rice cooker can be a bit confusing, especially with the digital face on a fuzzy logic machine. But the procedure is exactly the same with all models: choose a recipe, assemble your ingredients, measure and wash the rice, load the rice bowl, add the water, close the cover, plug in, and press the button.”

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Basmati Rice with Corn and Peas

This is a recipe from food writer and restauranteur Jesse Cool and it is a keeper because it adapts for seasonal flexibility with no fuss. For all her fancy cooking, this is one of her staple standbys for dinner at home. In winter, Jesse uses organic frozen vegetables from Cascadian Farms; in summer, fresh. We like white corn, if available. Keep your paprika in the refrigerator instead of the cupboard to keep it fresh.

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Pilaf, Pilaff, Pilaffi, Pilau, Perloo, Pillao, Paella

A pilaf, so to speak, is as old as the hills. Derived from the Turkish word pilau, the method of cooking rice by first cooking it in meat fat or oil to coat the grains to enrich the flavor and keep the grains perfectly separated when they are cooked before adding meat or poultry broth for steaming, was invented in ancient Persia.

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