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Fritters with Brown Sugar Syrup: (Bunuelos con Miel de Piloncillo y Canela)

You don't have to break the dish for good luck after eating these, as is done in Oaxaca. Just serve them with plenty of the cinnamon flavored syrup. Piloncillo is the dark brown sugar, sold in cones, that gives many Mexican syrups and candies a depth of flavor not achieved with white sugar. North of the border it is called brown loaf sugar.Ingredients:

3 cups sifted flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ teaspoon anise seed
2 eggs
¾ cup milk
½ cup softened butter
vegetable oil for frying

Preparation:Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the sugar, anise seed, eggs and butter. Stir in the milk and add this mixture to the large bowl.Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Add a few drops of milk if it seems too dry.Shape the dough into 20 balls, cover them with a clean cloth, and let them rest for 30 minutes.In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1 inch of oil until hot but not smoking. Meanwhile, roll out the balls on a floured board into thin, 6-inch diameter circles.Fry the buñuelos one by one in the hot oil, turning once, until light golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve with syrup, below. Makes 20.For the syrup:

1 pound piloncillo cones
6 cups water
4 sticks cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a deep, heavy saucepan, stirring with a wooden spoon. Once the piloncillo has dissolved, continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the syrup is thick enough to coat the spoon.Remove from heat, discard cinnamon sticks, and serve warm (but not piping hot) over the buñuelos. Makes about 4 cups, enough for 2 batches of buñuelos.

Mexican Casserole

Recipe Ingredients:

1 lb. shredded cooked chicken
1/4 cup Onion chopped
1 (4-oz.) can Green Chiles diced
11 oz. can Enchilada Sauce
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 can Celery Soup
1 doz. Corn Tortillas
1 cup Cheddar Cheese shredded
Recipe Instructions:

1. Combine chicken, onion, chiles, sauce and soups. Layer ground beef mixture with corn tortillas in 9x13 pan. Top with cheese. Bake 30 minutes at 300 degrees.

Mexican Bean Salad

Blend the "wet" ingredients:2/3 cup safflower oil¼ c. lime juice2 Tbsp. cider vinegar 2 TBSP. brown sugar4 pickled jalapenos2 Tsp. chili powder 1 tsp. cumin¼ c fresh cilantroMix 1 bunch of scallions chopped1 can each of pink, black and wht beans1 cup brown rice1 can corn. Add1/2 wet mix to the rice and beans then refrigerate. Add the other 1/2 wet mix at serving time.

Ancient Chinese food

When you think of Chinese food you think of rice, and rice was the first grain that was farmed in China. There is archaeological evidence of rice farming along the Yang-tse River as early as about 5000 BC. People cooked rice by boiling it in water, the way they do today. Or they made it into wine. Rice wine has been popular in China since prehistory.

But rice doesn't grow in northern China, which is much drier and colder. People in northern China gathered wild millet and sorghum instead. By 4500 BC, people in northern China were farming millet. They ate it boiled into a kind of porridge.

Another food people associate with China is tea. Tea grows wild in China. By about 3000 BC (or it could be much earlier), people in China had begun to drink tea. Soon everybody drank tea.


Wheat was not native to China, so it took much longer to reach China. People in northern China first began to eat wheat in the Shang Dynasty, about 1500 BC. Wheat was not native to China, but people brought it to China from West Asia. People in China boiled it like millet, to make something like Cream of Wheat.

These were the main foods of China - rice, millet, sorghum, and wheat. In northern China, people mostly ate millet, wheat, and sorghum. In southern China, people mostly ate rice. Poor people ate almost nothing but these foods.When people could afford it, they bought or grew vegetables to put on their rice. Soybeans, for instance, are native to China. So are cucumbers. For fruits, the Chinese had oranges and lemons, peaches and apricots. The native flavorings are ginger and anise (Americans use anise to make licorice).

On special occasions, people also put little pieces of meat on their rice. By 5500 BC, the Chinese were eating domesticated chicken, which came originally from Thailand. By 4000 or 3000 BC, they were eating pork, which was native to China. Sheep and cattle, which were not native, reached China from West Asia also around 4000 BC. Since meat was so expensive, and because Buddhists didn't eat meat, starting around the Sung Dynasty (about 1000 AD) people also put tofu, or bean curd, in their food as a source of protein.

Because China doesn't have big forests, it was always hard to find fuel to cook with. Chinese people learned to cut up their food very small, so it would cook quickly on a very small fire.

During the Han Dynasty, millet wine became very popular and was even more popular to drink than tea. Also beginning in the Han Dynasty, about 100 AD, Chinese people began to make their wheat and rice into long noodles.

Marco Polo, a visitor to China from Venice, wrote that by the time of Kublai Khan, about 1200 AD, Chinese people ate millet boiled in milk to make porridge. Even as late as 1200 AD, Chinese people did not bake bread.

Moo Goo Gai Pan

Ingredients

1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
8 cups chopped broccoli florets
4 (8 ounce) cans sliced bamboo shoots, drained
4 (8 ounce) cans sliced water chestnuts, drained
4 (15 ounce) cans whole straw mushrooms, drained

1/4 cup vegetable oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into strips

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup rice wine
1 cup chicken broth

Directions
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat until it begins to smoke. Stir in the fresh mushrooms, broccoli, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and straw mushrooms. Cook and stir until all the vegetables are hot, and the broccoli is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the wok, and set aside. Wipe out the wok. 2. Heat the remaining tablespoon of vegetable in the wok until it begins to smoke. Stir in the garlic, and cook for a few seconds until it turns golden-brown. Add the chicken, and cook until the chicken has lightly browned on the edges, and is no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes. Stir together the cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine, and chicken broth in a small bowl. Pour over the chicken, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for about 30 seconds until the sauce thickens and is no longer cloudy. Return the vegetables to the wok, and toss with the sauce.

Honey Apples

5 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into 4 rings

SYRUP

2/3 cup (125g) soft brown sugar
4 tbsp clear honey
1 cup (250ml) water
juice of 2 lemons

BATTER

1 cup (125g) flour
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup (75ml) water
3 egg whites, stiffly beaten
vegetable oil for deep-frying

3/4 cup (75g) confectioners' sugar

1. TO MAKE THE SYRUP: Put the sugar, honey and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Drop the apple rings into the syrup and carefully stir to coat them thoroughly. Set aside for 1 hour. 2. TO MAKE THE BATTER: Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar. Beat in the egg yolks and water, then fold in the egg whites. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apple rings to the batter and stir well to coat then completely. Discard the syrup. Set the batter mixture aside. 3. Fill a large saucepan one-third full with oil and heat until it is hot, Carefully drop in the apple rings, a few at a time, and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they are crisp and golden brown. Remove the apple rings from the pan and drain on kitchen towels. 4. Put the icing (confectioners') sugar in a deep dish. Dip the apples in the sugar and arrange them on a warmed serving dish. Decorate with the lemon slices and serve at once.

Cannelloni (Manicotti) with White Sauce(Cannelloni con la Balsamella)

Cannelloni (meaning big canes) or manicotti.serves 8

balsamella white sauce:
(makes approx 6 cups sauce):
4 1/2 oz butter
5 1/2 oz flour
5 1/3 cup milk
salt
2 1/2 oz parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated
Pinch of nutmeg

filling:
3 - 4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 lb ground beef, or mix of different ground meats (beef, pork, cold cuts)
salt and pepper
3 oz parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated
pinch of nutmeg

cannelloni:
20 dry no-boil cannelloni (manicotti)
3 oz parmigiano reggiano cheese, freshly grated White SaucePlace butter in a saucepan and turn the heat to low. When the butter is melted, remove the saucepan from the stove.Sift the flour into the butter a little at a time stirring continuously to combine them. Add the milk a little at a time. Put the saucepan back on the stove and slowly stir with a wooden spoon, until the sauce starts boiling and becomes thicker.Turn heat off. Add salt, and stir in the grated parmigiano cheese and pinch of nutmeg. Preparing the fillingIn a frying pan put the butter and olive oil, on medium heat. When the butter starts foaming add the ground meat, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring and breaking the meat in small particles, until browned. Place the meat in a food processor and run the blade until the meat is very fine. Add 3 - 4 tablespoons of white sauce, nutmeg, and the parmigiano cheese. Continue running the blade until a soft compound is obtained. Transfer to a bowlFilling the shellsPreheat oven 350 F (175 C). Butter one flat oven pans approximately 11 x 14 inch (27 x 35 cm). Spread approximately 1/2 cup of white sauce on the bottom of the pan. Stuff the dry cannelloni with the meat filling and place them in the pans side by side. Top the cannelloni evenly with the rest of the white sauce and the parmigiano reggiano cheese.Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake few more minutes until the surface starts coloring, and the cannelloni are soft when tested with a fork. Remove from the oven and set aside. Serve after approximately 5 minutes.

Venetian Corn Cookies

Zaleti is the Venetian word for "Gialletti", the little yellow ones. These little yellow corn cookies from the Veneto area have a characteristic flattened diamond shape. Crunchy and soft at the same time they are perfect served at tea time.Makes about 2 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
12 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold
3/4 cup dark raisin
2 large eggs
grated zest of one lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
powder sugar for finishing Preheat oven 350 F (175 C). Mix cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the butter.Combine the butter, leaving the mixture cool and powdery.(Note: If using a a food processor, place the dry ingredients in the bowl fitted with metal blade, and pulse. Add the butter cut into pieces, and pulse until mixed finely) Lightly beat the eggs with the lemon zest and vanilla and add them to the bowl.Mix with a spatula until fully combined.Add the raisin. Transfer the crumbly dough to a lightly floured work surface.Lightly knead the dough to obtain a smooth compound.Divide the dough in four equal piecesRoll them into cylinders about one inch diameter. Flatten slightly.Cut diagonally at about 1 1/2 inch (4 cm) intervals. Flatten the cookies about 3/8 inch (1 cm) thick, making diamond shapes.Arrange the zaleti on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for about 15 minutes, until light gold brown color. Cool on racks and dust with the powdered sugar. As an alternative.... Flatten the dough with a rolling pin to about 3/8 inch (1 cm) thick.

BAKLAVA

1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough1 pound chopped nuts1 cup butter1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water 1 cup white sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 cup honey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan.
Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 - 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 - 8 sheets deep.
Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers. This freezes well. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.

GREEK MAC AND CHEESE

In Greek: ????????? ????????, pronounced mah-kah-ROHN-yah oh-grah-TEN Macaroni and cheese is a favorite with all families, and this oven casserole is the reason why Greeks love it. It's made a bit differently than the familiar "mac n cheese" and it's delicious! Prep Time: 25 minutesCook Time: 30 minutesTotal Time: 55 minutesIngredients:· 1 pound of macaroni pasta (or long ziti) · 1 1/4 cup of grated kefalotyri (or pecorino, or regato, or other sharp white cheese) · 3 eggs, separated · 1/3 cup of melted butter · ----------- · Sauce: · 6 tablespoons of butter · 7-8 tablespoons of flour · 3 1/2 cups of whole milk · 1 egg yolk · salt · pepper · ----------- · Topping: · 1/4 cup of toasted breadcrumbsPreparation:Make the sauce: In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. As soon as it melts, add the flour a little at a time, stirring with a wire whisk or wooden spoon, until smooth and remove from heat. Warm the milk until it gets hot but not boiling, and add slowly to the flour mixture, stirring continuously. Put the sauce back on low heat and stir until thickened and smooth, the consistency of cream. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper, and once it cools, beat the egg yolks and stir them in. Preheat oven to 390F (200C). In salted water, cook the macaroni for half the time recommended on the packaging. Drain and coat with half the melted butter. Beat the egg whites until fluffy and stir into macaroni. Add half the grated cheese and toss. Lightly butter (or spray) an oven-proof casserole dish and put a thin layer of sauce in the bottom, sprinkle with a little cheese, add a layer of macaroni, sprinkle with cheese, and add a little sauce. Repeat until all macaroni is used, and pour the remaining sauce over the top. Sprinkle first with cheese, then breadcrumbs, and top off with remaining butter. Bake for 30 minutes and serve hot.

CHEESE SOUFFLE

1 1/2 cups milk
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus for ramekins
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
Pinch cayenne pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
4 large egg whites, room temperature
A few drops freshly squeezed lemon juice, or vinegar, or a pinch cream of tartar
3/4 cup lightly packed coarsely grated full-flavored cheese like Gouda, Gruyere, or Fontina (about 2 ounces)

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter 4 (6-ounce) ramekins and sprinkle with Parmesan to lightly coat, tapping out excess. Put prepared ramekins on a baking sheet and refrigerate.To make the souffle base: Put the milk, thyme, and bay leaf in a microwave-safe measuring cup and microwave on HIGH until steaming, about 2 minutes. (Or, bring the milk and herbs just to a simmer in a small saucepan on the stove, and then pull from the heat.) Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture (roux) lightens and foams, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the warm milk, bring to a boil, and cook, whisking constantly, until the souffle base thickens slightly, about 1 minute. Remove the herbs. Transfer the base to a large bowl and whisk to cool. Add the egg yolks, the Parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, cayenne, and nutmeg.Slowly whisk the egg whites in a very clean bowl with lemon juice, and pinch of salt with a hand-held mixer until foamy. Increase the speed to high and whip until the whites hold a soft peak. Quickly, but gently fold 1/4 of the whites into the base with a rubber spatula. Fold in the remaining whites just until streaky, then scatter the grated cheese on top and fold everything together, taking care not to over mix. Pour into pan, and bake until golden, puffed, and just set in the center, about 30 minutes.

Madeleines

2 eggs
1 c. sugar
1 c. flour, sifted
6 oz. unsalted butter, softened
1 t clear vanilla extract
Confectioner's sugarPreheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour Madeleine pans.In top of a double boiler over hot water, beat eggs and sugar together to warm mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. Then set top of double boiler over cold water. Continue beating egg mixture for 5 more minutes, or until light and fluffy.Remove bowl from water and gently fold in flour until just combined. Stir in butter and vanilla extract. Place one tablespoon of batter into each Madeleine tin. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden. Cool for one minute, then remove from pans carefully. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar just before serving


France
The Cradle of Culinary History?

France is internationally recognized for its exceptional cuisine and famous chefs. But France did not earn this recognition overnight.Food historians credit the ancient Romans for initially bringing cooking to the level of an art form. But the pre Renaissance food of France was heavy and highly spiced. Ironically, it was Italian-born Catherine de Medici, whose arrival in France in 1533 was pivotal in the development of France's culinary arts. De Medici and her cooking staff introduced delicacies previously unknown to the French, as well as strict etiquette policies. Her presence in France not only elevated the civilized dining experience, but also influenced the future of French cuisine.