Saturday, May 9, 2009

From Cookies to Burek

My 21-month old son made his first batch of chocolate chip cookies. I wasn't sure the task would keep his interest, but he stuck with it from making the dough to watching me remove the last batch from the oven. And why not? Chocolate chips were involved. This cookie making foray was special for two other reasons: we used my one and only bag of Nestle Toll House chocolate chips (shipped from the U.S.) and we baked after our pyjamas. When I'm in the U.S. I easily pass up Nestle brand chips for those made by Ghiradelli. But let's face it, Nestle chocolate chips are a classic, and it's a fun tradition to make Toll House cookies with kids. Or so says the marketing! We followed the recipe exactly except for adding a handful of M&Ms, another big hit with my son. By the way, chocolate chips are NOT available where I live. Imagine! I found some once but they came in a very small bag (1/2 cup max.), were expensive, and the size, shape, and taste were just not the same. Did I also mention that I have found only two different brands of peanut butter in Denmark? I've tried both and they're quite good, but how many different types and brands of PB are there in the U.S.? 20? I haven't seen any other nut butters here, either. Too bad--I've had my share of almond butter kicks in the past, too. But back to the cookies. Even though my kitchen and my kid were an utter mess, this was the most fun I've had in a long time.

I was able to put quite a few of our CSA ingredients to use in last night's Asparagus Stir Fry, from 101 Cookbooks. The only variations I made to the recipe are that I added some chopped mushrooms, used handfuls of bok choy instead of the spinach or chard, and sprinkled toasted sesame seeds on top. While my expectations for this dish were high and the potential great--how can you go wrong with so many fantastic ingredients?--I was disappointed for one reason. Too much lime. The recipe called for the zest and juice of one lime. My husband and I agreed that it overpowered the other amazing flavors and made the dish just okay instead of memorable. I will make this recipe again, but next time I will use half of a lime and save the other half for another dish.  I almost forgot to mention that I finally found a market in my town that carries boxed, extra firm-tofu.  I'm not a huge tofu eater, but hooray!

Dinner tonight was potato leek soup. There is not much to say except that it was simple to make and extremely delicious. All you do is peel and chop a few potatoes, chop two big leeks, put it all in a pot with water (about 6 cups) and 1-2 T of butter, and cook for 1 hour. Once it's very soft, puree in a blender or food mill, which is what I used. This is an extremely comforting and satisfying soup.

My friend Tennison is a culinary student in Portland, OR. She has a great blog, Schmackofatz, that chronicles her adventures, and it's worth checking out. Recently she posted about making Burek, a classic Eastern European meat-filled pastry. It made me think about my years spent in Washington, DC, where I had the opportunity to try all kinds of different and fantastic ethnic food. Oh how I miss that part of living in the Capitol City. I've had my share of burek along with many other foods from Eastern Europe but hadn't thought about it since I moved away from DC in 2003. Tennison's mention of it has inspired me to try making it, and I'm even considering ordering a cookbook with recipes from Romania, Bulgaria, and Ex-Yugoslavia to try other interesting recipes.


  1. Hello, I'm from Brazil, and was looking for interesting blogs, and I found yours. I think it's very difficult live in a place with a different culture... I've loved yours stories and your recipes... Your son is so cutty... happy to meet so interesting person as you!

  2. Thanks for reading, Sylvia. I have a lot of fun with it. It is definitely challenging living in a different culture - it has its good and bad parts for sure. I'm happy to know that a Brazilian found my blog, and I am going to make it a goal to make a Brazilian dish soon. Cheers!