Turkish Çerkez Tavuğu (Chicken with Walnuts)

P1040295My recent travels to Europe introduced me to quite a few noteworthy dishes. Among them was Çerkez Tavuğu, a Turkish dish of chicken and walnuts. Chicken is poached then shredded and mixed with a paste of ground walnuts, garlic, milk and bread. Paprika is then cooked in hot butter and drizzled on top of the finished dish.  Continue reading

(Not quite a) Smurfentaart

P1040130I recently visited some friends in Belgium. While there I was introduced to a local dessert called Smurfentaart. Despite its namesake, the color blue is nowhere to be found in or on this pie. The pie has a layer of apricot jam and whipped cream and is covered with heaps of white chocolate shavings. It is virtually unknown outside the Limburg Province of Belgium and is a favorite with children. I’ve heard that the Smurfentaart was probably invented when children were watching Smurf programs.

Sofie, my Flemish friend, made her Smurfentaart with just three layers: apricot jam, whipped cream, and a topping of shaved white chocolate. I have read that some bakers add a layer of custard first as well, which is what I did. No wonder children young and old devour this pie with abandonment.

Unfortunately I could not find white chocolate so it was dusted with a combination of Dutch cocoa powder and sugar. So this recipe is not quite a Smurfentaart but it is every bit as delicious in its own sweet cocoa way. Continue reading


P1040191My recent visit to Amsterdam and Belgium introduced me to a variety of new foods from the old Low Countries. I ate Dutch Apple Pie in Amsterdam, sampled a Flemish beef stew called Stoofvlees, ate an incredible meal prepared by Stefan, which included his homemade Apricot Tart, and helped make and bake a sweet dessert pie called Smurfentaart, which is rarely known outside of the Limburg Region of Belgium.

Today’s blog is about making Stoofvlees, which is essentially beef stew made with brown beer.  Continue reading

Prawn Saganaki, Inspired by Stavros

P1030778Last week I received an email from my friend Glenn who was visiting a very dear mutual friend of ours, Stavros, in Athens, Greece. Glenn mentioned that Stavros was making a Greek dish of prawns, tomatoes, and feta cheese. It sounded so delicious that I emailed Stavros to ask him what the name of the dish is and how he makes it. Last Thursday I received an email from Stavros that included a picture of his dinner table covered with wonderful dishes of Greek food.  Continue reading

Crispy Pork Belly Cubes with Fried Rice

P1030760After reading Stefan’s blog on his Suckling Pig over an Open Fire, I had to make another pork dish. And since I don’t have room in my kitchen to roast such a pig, I opted to roast some pork belly in a closed oven. This would be my first time and not my last. My butcher did not have a slab of pork belly; all he had were strips of them so I bought two. Since this was the first time that I had attempted this recipe I decided to marinate both of them and roast only one to test the timing.  Continue reading

Chinese Hoisin Spareribs

P1030620P1030613Whenever I crave pork spareribs of the sweet and sticky, finger-licking-good variety, I tromp down to Stockton Street while dodging tourists, locals, and street merchants along the way to procure a whole slab of them. These ribs are usually proudly displayed in the windows of the Chinese meat markets located there. Some of them are barely visible from the street because they are hidden behind delivery trucks laden with fresh produce and meats. I make these ribs at home to avoid playing that dangerous game of dodge-people in Chinatown. Continue reading