From Mother Russia with Love: Kulich and Paskha and Easter

Because Russian Orthodox Easter falls on the same day this year (2010) as the Western Easter, it seems appropriate to include recipes for Russia's most well-known Easter sweets: Kulich, a tall puffy "baba" or sweet-bread cousin to Italian Panettone (maybe with phallic overtones and fertility in mind?) and Paskha, a cheesecake-like dairy-rich concoction eaten with…

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Cheese + Flour + Yeast + Salt + Eggs = The Ancient Mystery of Bread

To contemplate bread even more, please go my previous post, Panis Gravis, or, Bread, Endless Nurturer. I’ve baked bread for years and years. In fact, except for the odd hamburger bun, my family never eats “boughten bread,” as my mother-in-law called it. In a time when “carbohydrate” evokes images reminiscent of horror films, singing the…

Panis gravis, or Bread, Endless Nurturer

A whole world dwells within each tiny  seed. Of porridge,  of bread, of love it whispers – in all these lies the promise of wheat. With it all comes both the caress of crumbs and the sour stink of brown bread and garlic, the pain of brokenness ... and the bitter bread of exile. But…

Water, the Essence of All

Begin with a washing of hands, cleansing and purifying, before approaching the stove, as to an altar. Pouring water into a pot, do you remember the source? Rain, clouds, rivers, streams, lakes, oceans … Transformation, from elements and compounds and chaotic matter to life. Essence. Alchemy. In your hands, a cook’s hands, water shape-shifts into…

Panis focacius, la Gibacié, and la Pompe à l’huîle, Kin Under the Crust, One of the Thirteen

Christmas cakes were baking, the famous pompou and fougasse, as they were called, dear to the hearts of the children of old Provence. ~~ Christmas in Legend and Story A Book for Boys and Girls I've always loved the "Jacob's Ladder" look of fougasse. The lacy leaf-like lattice reminds me of the connection between bread and…

From Mother Russia with Love: Kulich and Paskha

Because Russian Orthodox Easter falls on the same day this year (2010) as the Western Easter, it seems appropriate to include recipes for Russia's most well-known Easter sweets: Kulich, a tall puffy "baba" or sweet-bread cousin to Italian Panettone (maybe with phallic overtones and fertility in mind?) and Paskha, a cheesecake-like dairy-rich concoction eaten with…

Traditional, “Authentic” St. Patrick’s Day Food

He's a desperate big, little Erin go brah; He will pardon our follies and promise us joy, By the mass, by the Pope, by St. Patrick so long As I live, I will give him a beautiful song! No saint is so good, Ireland's country adorning: Then hail to St. Patrick, today, in the morning!…

The Black Fast, a Mortification of the Appetite

With Lent fast approaching (February 17, 2010), an examination of fasting and other fleshly challenges seems apropos. Religious-based fasting, in the history of English speakers anyway, belies its importance in the commonly used word for the first meal of the day: breakfast or “break fast.” After all, for much of Western European history, almost half…

Pandolce: From Liguria with Love, Thanks to Laura Schenone

Laura Schenone, author of the soulful The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken and the scholarly (and prize-winning) A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove, traveled back to Liguria for Christmas in 2007. From that trip came her perpetual Christmas gift to all of us, Pandolce. In an article in the December 2008 issue of SAVEUR…

Hunger is the Best Sauce

A hungry people listens not to reason, nor cares for justice, nor is bent by any prayers. [Lat., Nec rationem patitur, nec aequitate mitigatur nec ulla prece flectitur, populus esuriens.] De Brevitate Vitoe (XVIII), Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca) Chronic hunger is something that most of us in the United States will never really know.* Yet…

At the Tables of the Monks: Daily Fare (Part III)

Fermentation provided a number of foods on the tables of medieval monks. Beer, cheese, wine, sausages all result from fermentation processes. While it is true that medieval monks invented none of these foods originally --- the Romans made cheese, wine, and sausages and Norsemen enjoyed beer --- the monks, after the fall of Rome, guarded…