Recipes from Marche, Italy

For this entry, I made two recipes. Neither of them were especially good, but I don't blame the people who posted the original recipes or any of the traditions they came from, I blame myself and my propensity for Googling things that might kill me.

Recipes from Marche, Italy: Brodetto

A seafood stew with mussels and clams, minus the Vibrio.

Recipes from Marche, Italy: Filone Casereccio

An Italian bread that will come out much better than mine did if you use fresh brewer's yeast and steam.

Recipes from Malta

This is actually the third time I’ve cooked a meal from Malta. The first time, I cooked the meal and then just did not write the blog post. Years went by.

Recipes from Malta: Imqarrun

Imquarrum (also called Imqarrun il-forn) is descended from a dish served in Sicily, but the Maltese have adopted it as a traditional staple. The key to making this dish is to be patient.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Recipes from French Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Guess what, another island where they eat a lot of fish. Yay.

Eh, it was actually pretty good. But these islands, you know, they really need to try chicken now and then.

In the defense of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, though, there's not a whole lot of people there writing cookbooks on local cuisine. In fact at just under 6,000 people, French Saint Pierre and Miquelon is only about four times the size of Rough and Ready, CA. So it's possible and probably even likely that there are many different local recipes for chicken, but of course I couldn't find them because I am always singing the same song about these places. La, la, la no recipes online.

Located 12 miles off the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland, Canada, French Saint Pierre and Miquelon is an archipelago consisting of eight islands, two of which have actual people living on them. These islands are the last crumbs of New France, the former colonial empire that once stretched from the gulf of Mexico to the northern tip of Newfoundland. Poor France.

St. Pierre. Photo Credit: Gord McKenna.
Saint Pierre has the dubious distinction of being the site of the one-and-only execution by guillotine ever performed in North America. Saint Pierre is evidently proud enough of this little bit of infamy that said guillotine, which had to be imported from the Caribbean of all places, now resides in a local museum. The French also made a movie about the whole sordid affair (The Widow of Saint-Pierre). Well, we all have to have our claims to fame.

Anyway as I mentioned earlier, they eat a lot of fish on Saint Pierre and Miquelon. Cod is fished in the region and is heavily eaten there, along with lobster, snow crab and mussels. So my menu is very seafood-based, and came entirely from French-language sources because that's literally all there was.

Here are the recipes:

Cod Fillet with Cream
(From Recital Culinaire)
  • 4 fresh cod fillets (or cod)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives, tarragon and parsley
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
On the side:

Salad with Crab, Apples and Oranges
(From The Workshop of Boljo)

For the salad:
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 1 orange, peeled and diced
  • 1 apple, peeled and diced
  • about 1 1/2 cups cooked crab meat
For the dressing:
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Now I must admit, I am not utterly convinced that this recipe comes from St. Pierre and Miquelon. It was on a French language blog authored by someone who does post recipes from the region, it was included in a link list of recipes from St. Pierre and Miquelon, but it wasn't specifically tagged as such. So the jury is out.

And for dessert:

Date Squares
(From Recital Culinaire)
  • 1 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 18 oz pitted dates
  • water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
Starting with the dessert:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flour with the baking soda, brown sugar and rolled oats.

Now add the butter and mix with your hands until you get a crumbly mixture.

Chop up the dates into a small dice and add to a saucepan with enough water to cover. Add the brown sugar and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes or until the mixture is the consistency of jam. Remove from heat and mash. Let cool.

Butter an 8x8 inch baking pan and cover the bottom with half the dough. Now add the dates and top with the remaining dough.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top begins to turn a golden color. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, then cut into squares and serve.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the fish and place it in a buttered casserole dish. Drizzle with the wine and lemon juice and add salt and pepper.

Transfer to the oven and bake until a meat thermometer registers 100 degrees. Cover with aluminum foil and continue to bake until the thermometer reaches 145. Remove.

Meanwhile, mix the herbs with the softened butter, a little bit of lemon juice and some salt and pepper.

Drain the juices from the casserole and transfer to a small pan. Bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes or until reduced to about 3/4 its original volume. Remove from heat.

Add the butter and herb mixture and the cream, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer for 1 or 2 minutes. Pour over fish fillets and serve.

Finally, the salad:

Line the bottom of a salad bowl with the spinach. Then add a layer of tomatoes, red onion, orange pieces and apple pieces.

Top with the crab. Whisk the ingredients for the dressing together in a small bowl and pour over the salad. That's it!

Meal from French Saint Pierre and Miquelon
What we thought: I loved the salad. Martin, not so much. He said it was just because he wasn't in the mood for crab, but whatever. I thought the crab with the fruit was a really nice combination.

The fish was good, too. Basic, but good. The original recipe said to serve it with fries, which honestly probably would have been a better fit than the salad since it was a pretty rich dish. But I'm trying to cut some calories out of my diet so I'm glad I went with the salad, though it was a bit of an odd combo.

The date squares were fabulous. So good in fact that I gave half the pan away because I was afraid that I would eat them all. Martin was quite angry with me actually. He went away on a business trip and when he came home the date squares were all gone. But yeah, they were yummy.

So that's another seafood meal done. Now it's on to … another seafood meal. Jeez.

Next week: French Wallis and Futuna

For printable versions of this week's recipes:

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Recipes from French Polynesia

I am not a chef. Sometimes, I mangle some nation's beloved favorite dish. Actually it probably happens more than I know.

Of course if you're a regular reader you know about my struggle to find recipes. Sometimes there just isn't much out there, so I have to rely on dubious sources. But I use recipes that appear to be authentic whenever possible, and I always stick to the recipe as much as I can. Sometimes it's actually the recipe that's wrong and not my interpretation of it.

If I get something wrong I want to be called on it. So if you're from French Polynesia or The Falkland Islands or the Czech Republic and you can't read that entry without cringing, I would dearly, dearly love it if you would send me the correct version of the recipe I got wrong, or at least tell me where and why my technique failed.

Not because I think I got French Polynesia wrong or anything. But I'm pretty sure something went wrong with that lettuce soup from the Falklands.

French Polynesia Meal
Anyway, this week we're in Tahiti, baby! Which, along with a bunch of other islands in the region makes French Polynesia. Remember Clipperton Island? It was administered by French Polynesia until 2007. Though I'm not sure what exactly there is to administer on Clipperton Island. All those nasty little man-eating crabs I guess.

French Polynesia Scene
Bora Bora, Tahiti. Photo Credit: Pierre Lesage.

Like so many other territories of [insert European Colonial Power], Tahiti and the rest of French Polynesia have a long history of other people coming along and telling them that their religion and lifestyle are all wrong and now they have to do things the European way. To make a long story short, the French moved in, kicked out the king of Tahiti and converted all his followers to Protestantism. And made a few bucks off the subsequent tourism industry. The end.

Tahitian food as you might imagine is heavily seafood-based. Exotic fruits and vegetables are often featured and the cooking style is distinctly Polynesian with a French twist.

One of Tahiti's signature dishes is poisson cru, which is basically just raw fish marinated in lime juice and coconut milk—the Polynesian answer to sushi. I felt like I ought to make poisson cru but I didn't, because it was too similar to the oka popo I made back in American Samoa. (I did like the oka popo, but I don't like to repeat myself because that seems too much like cheating). Anyway here's what I did choose:

For an appetizer:

Papeete Tahitian Prawns
(from The Polynesian Kitchen)
  • 1 lb prawns
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2-3 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground red pepper (more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp parsley, finely chopped
The main course:

Mahi Mahi with Passion Fruit, Ginger and Vanilla Coulis
(from Hawaii Travel at, which did promise this was a Tahitian recipe)
  • 8 oz passion fruit juice
  • 1 one-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 vanilla pod, split open
  • 4 tbsp of unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp of peanut or olive oil
  • 4 six- to eight-ounce mahi mahi fillets
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
On the side:

Green Papaya Salad
(from Tahitian Dreams)
  • 1lb green papaya
  • 2 chili peppers, deseeded and finely sliced
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
And for dessert:

Guava Cake
(from SOS Children's Villages, which does work in French Polynesia and has local recipes on their site)

For the cake and frosting:
  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • 1 1/3 cup guava juice
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 small package of whipped topping, thawed
For the guava gel:
  • 2 cups guava juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
Now how about that, in that early paragraph I said I almost always use authentic sources, and this week I got a recipe from the always questionable Dang.

Anyway, I like to start with the dessert, so here goes:

Mix up the cake batter, but substitute guava juice for the water. Bake according to the package instructions.

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy, then beat in the sugar and vanilla. Fold the whipped topping into the mixture and refrigerate until the cake is ready to be frosted.

To make the gel, bring the guava juice and sugar to a boil. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with enough water to make a paste. Remove the juice from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch paste. Now bring back to a boil for one minute, then cool in the refrigerator.

When the cake is finished, ice it completely with the whipped cream frosting, setting aside a little bit of the frosting.

This is why I always buy my kids' birthday cakes at Safeway.

Spread the guava gel over the top of the cake, then using a piping bag (I just cut the corner out of a ziplock) make a little ridge out of the remaining frosting so the gel doesn't run down the sides. Return to the refrigerator and serve cold.

Now for the prawns:

Wash and devein your prawns. Set aside.

Saute the onion in the oil until it starts to turn golden, then add the prawns. Cook until just pink. Season with salt and pepper, then add the white wine, garlic and paprika.

Cover and let simmer for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

And the main course:

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees. In a medium pan, bring the passion fruit juice, ginger and split vanilla pod to a boil. Add 3 tbsp of the butter and and reduce heat. Simmer gently for two minutes or until syrupy.

Now heat the oil over a medium-high flame and add the rest of the butter. When the butter has melted, add the mahi mahi, season with salt and pepper and cook for about a minute.

Transfer the fish to your oven and cook until a meat thermometer registers 145 degrees.  Serve topped with the vanilla coulis.

And finally, the salad:

Peel the papayas and cut them in half. Remove the seeds and grate into a large bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients and toss. Serve at once.

This was another me-and-Martin-only meal, since I don't like to waste expensive fish on my seafood-hating children. Those poor kids have no idea what they're missing. I can't think of anything I didn't like about this food. OK maybe just that one thing, which I'll get to.

The shrimp was mildly spicy and quite yummy, and was even enjoyed by Martin, who usually thinks shrimp is pretty ho-hum. The fish was also delicious; the vanilla sauce gave it a very light sweetness. I was really afraid it would be overwhelmingly sweet, but it was perfect.

The salad went great with the fish. My papaya probably wasn't as green as it was supposed to be (it's hard to find them green so far from the source) but I really didn't mind. I like papaya in all forms.

And the cake, it was yummy too. Except for that weird guava gel. Now, I know I am not normal in thinking this but I have a problem with foods that have that texture. (Remember the spotted dick back in England? Custard, blech.) I know this makes me a freak of nature, but I felt the same way about the guava gel. Gel is not supposed to be eaten. It's supposed to be put in your hair. Some people's hair, anyway. But it's not supposed to be eaten. I scraped mine off.

I thought the meal was missing a nice cocktail, though, because what's a Tahitian vacation without a cocktail? Oh yeah, it wasn't a Tahitian vacation. It was my dining room. Sigh.

Next week: French St. Pierre and Miquelon

For printable versions of this week's recipes:

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Recipes from French Guiana

Every year, I plant a garden. This year I planted some bush beans, some Thai chili peppers, some little mini bells and three different kinds of tomatoes. I grow them on my deck in containers, even though I have five acres, because in our neighborhood the soil really isn't very good and there are hungry deer everywhere.

Then on Friday, someone left my deck gate open. And a deer came right up on my deck in broad daylight and ate all of my bush beans, about half of my Thai peppers and half of my tomatoes. I'm pretty sure the only reason he didn't eat my bells is because I came home and caught him in the act.

So why am I telling you this? I'm seeking commiseration I guess. Stupid deer.

Meal from French Guiana
Anyway this week we are in French Guiana, not to be confused with Guyana, Dutch Guiana or Portuguese Guiana. Confused? Me too. Apparently, at one point everyone wanted a piece of Guiana. Though I'm not really sure why, because it sounds like 18th century Guiana was an unkind place. In fact, the French sent 12,000 settlers there in 1763, and 10,000 of them died from the harsh climate and tropical diseases. So then they turned it into a prison, for, you know,  obvious reasons. Where better to send your prisoners than to an island where only 10 percent of them would survive? Dead prisoners are cheaper than live ones.

Called Île du Diable (Devil's Island), French Guiana hosted these prisons until 1953. Today the area is better known for its space center (yes, I said space center), which is an important part of the European space industry.

Nouragues French Guiana. Photo credit: Sean McCann (

As you might guess, the cuisine in French Guiana is heavily influenced by French cuisine, its coastal waters, and prison food. I'm just kidding about the prison food. French Guianan cuisine is actually quite flavorful, which you wouldn't really expect from prison food. Hot peppers and spices grow in the region and are used to add South American flavor to dishes that are distinctly French in origin.

Of course as you might expect, there really aren't any French Guianan cookbooks, food blogs or other websites. I literally blew a couple of hours just tracking down the three recipes I did find:

Poulet Colombo (Chicken Colombo)
(from Easy French Food)
  • 1 chicken cut up, or 8 pieces of chicken
  • 1 shallot, peeled and chopped finely
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, divided
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tbsp colombo spices, divided*
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 chili pepper, minced fine
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • salt and pepper
* Recipe below

Chayote-Potato Cakes
  • 2 1/2 cups chayote, shredded
  • 1 large boiling potato, peeled and shredded (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 small yellow onion, shredded
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • papaya-avocado salsa*
*I homemade my papaya-avocado salsa, but am not including the recipe because it isn't from French Guiana. I'm pretty sure you can just wing it and not get in too much trouble.

Colombo Powder
(from Latin Caribbean Food)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds
  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1/4 cup turmeric
And I was also going to make some sugar roti from this page, but I didn't, because it was at about that time that someone told me Hailey's birthday party was scheduled for the exact same time and place as someone else's birthday party, and I spent the rest of the evening stressing out about the possibility of having to reschedule a birthday party at the last minute.

So here's how to make the dishes that I did serve:

First the spice powder, which is unusual because of the dried white rice (it helps thicken the food it's added to). It's easy to make and here's how:

Toast the rice in a dry pan until it starts to turn a light golden color. Keep stirring so it doesn't burn.

Transfer the rice to a bowl and let cool. Meanwhile, put your spices (except the turmeric) into the same dry pan and toast them until fragrant, stirring constantly. Let cool.

Put the toasted rice and toasted spices into a grinder or a mortar and pestle and process to a fine powder. Add the turmeric. Done!

OK now salt and pepper your chicken pieces, then marinate them in a mixture made from the chopped shallot, four of the garlic cloves, 1 tbsp of the colombo powder and the coriander, vinegar and water.

Refrigerate for two or three hours or overnight.

Now heat the oil over a medium flame and add the onions, chili pepper and the rest of the garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add the chicken (reserving the marinade) and brown on both sides, then add the vegetables, lemon juice, herbs and the marinade. Cover and cook over a medium-low flame for 15 minutes.

Add the rest of the colombo and stir to combine. Cover and cook for an additional 15 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender. Add the coconut milk and salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice.

And now for the chayote:

Place the chayote, potato and onion in a potato ricer and squeeze out all of the excess moisture. Place in a bowl and add the eggs, cornmeal and seasonings.

Heat the oil over a medium flame and drop about a half cup of the mixture onto the skillet, flattening with the back of a spoon (they should each be four or five inches in diameter). Cook on both sides until lightly browned, then transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Repeat until all the cakes are done. Serve hot with papaya avocado salsa.

This was my first time eating chayote, which I found quite pleasant actually, especially considering that I usually hate squash of any kind. It was vaguely cucumbery and not all soggy and yucky like cooked squash usually is. The potato gave the cakes some nice body and with the salsa they were a really tasty accompaniment to the chicken.

The chicken was a different twist on a curry—there were a lot of curry flavors in it but most curries don't have the quantity of vegetables that this one had. This really could have easily been a one-dish meal, since there was plenty of protein, vegetable and starches just on that one side of the plate. I'm not crazy about eggplant really but I thought this was a good use for it, though I might accidentally forget to put it in if I ever made this recipe again.

So that's the first in our five week foray into countries that begin with the word "French." Next week: French Polynesia.

For printable versions of this week's recipes:

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Recipes from Finland

Originally, I'd planned to do my Finland menu for the entire family. Then at some point it occurred to me, it would be a special kind of torture to make my children eat this particular main course.

That's because this week I got it into my head that I wanted to try reindeer, which is a popular meat in Finland. Can you imagine feeding Rudolph to a child? "But Mom, where did you GET the reindeer meat??" "Well, dear, remember that special magic reindeer food you sprinkled around our house last Christmas Eve?"

Finnish Meal
 Sauteed reindeer with swede casserole and Finnish flatbread.
So I didn't make my kids eat any reindeer, nor did I tell them it was what Martin and I were eating.

Anyway, Finland (as I'm sure you know) is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. It is bordered by Norway, Sweden and Russia, with Estonia on the other side of the Gulf of Finland. Finland is both the eighth largest nation in Europe as well as the most sparsely-populated nation in Europe. It is also one of the world's wealthiest nations (I bet you would never have guessed that). Finland is known for its excellent educational system and high quality of life, and it is also ranked as one of the most peaceful nations in the world.

Now I was going to add a "but" in regard to the weather in Finland, which I assumed would be mostly oppressively cold, but I had it all wrong. Southern Finland actually sounds a lot like Northern California, though maybe 10 or so degrees colder in the winter, and with snow that hangs around instead of coming and going like it does here. Average winter daytime temperatures are around 32 degrees Fahrenheit (though much colder at night), with summer temperatures peaking at around 95 degrees. Northern Finland, of course, is much colder, with snow cover from October to May and short summers where a "heat wave" is 77 degrees. Now, Martin would love this kind of weather. Me, on the other hand … I like swimming too much. I need hot summers.

Taka-Töölö, Helsinki, Southern Finland, FI.
Photo by: taivasalla

Finnish cuisine is what you would probably expect from a sparsely-populated northern country: traditional, hearty, country-style fare. One third of Finnish meat products are eaten as sausage, and fish and grains such as barley, oats and rye are also popular. So are berries, especially wild lingonberries, raspberries and bilberries (a type of wild blueberry). Moose is a popular game meat, though because of strict regulations restaurants typically serve reindeer instead.

Which brings me to our main course:

Poronkäristys (Sautéed Reindeer)
(This recipe is from Finnguide, which appears to no longer be online.)
  • 2 lbs reindeer meat, sliced
  • 3 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cup beer (pale lager is popular in Finland)
  • 2 small onions
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbs flour
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black or white pepper
On the side I picked this recipe, which is typically served on Christmas day in Finland. I thought it would go well with the red meat, so I pretended it wasn't June.

Lanttulaatikko (Swede Casserole)
(From FinSki's)
  • 3-4 medium rutabagas (called "swedes" in Europe)
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 3 tbs golden syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs cream
  • Butter
  • Breadcrumbs
And this bread:

Perunarieska (Finnish Flatbread)
(This recipe came from a post at The Finland Forum)
  • 2 cups mashed potato, cooled
  • 3 tbsp melted butter, cooled
  • 1-2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cup to 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
And for dessert:

Mustikkapiirakka (Blueberry Tart)
(From The World Cookbook for Students)

For the pastry:
  • 2⁄3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1⁄4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom seeds
For the filling:
  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
OK, first let's do the casserole, which takes a bit more time to make:

First peel and cut up the rutabaga into 1-inch pieces. Place in a pot and add the butter, nutmeg, and salt.

Add water and bring to a boil. Let boil for about an hour, adding water as necessary, until the rutabaga is easily pierced with a fork. Drain and mash.

Now preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Add the flour, syrup, egg, salt, butter and cream.

Mix well and transfer to a greased casserole dish. Mix the breadcrumbs with melted butter and place on top.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes. Serve hot.

Swede Casserole
And the bread:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with the salt, sugar and melted butter. Add the mashed potato and mix thoroughly.

Now gradually add the four to the potato mixture until you get a dough. Cover and let stand for 15 or 20 minutes.

Separate the dough into 8 to 12 equal-sized pieces. Dust your hands with flour and place the dough pieces on a well-floured surface. Flatten with the palm of your hand to a thickness of about a quarter inch. Poke in a few places with a fork, then transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden (an egg wash will help you get a nice color, though it was not specified in the recipe). Serve warm.

Finnish bread
Now for the reindeer, which is really simple.

First a note: my reindeer came in 4-oz medallions. I tried to slice them, but the meat was very tender to the point where it actually crumbled when I attempted to cut it. Now if I'd sharpened my knife I probably would have had more success, but I couldn't be bothered, so I just cooked my meat in its original shape.

Just in case you needed proof. :)

First melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the meat and onions and cook until the meat is nicely browned.

Season with salt and pepper and add the flour, stirring until well-incorporated. Then add the beer and mix well.

Cover and let simmer on low for one hour.

Sauteed Reindeer
And finally, the blueberry tart:

To make the pastry, mix the butter, egg, milk flour and cardamom together until you have a dough.

Cover and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour. Meanwhile, mix the blueberries with the sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. On a wax paper-lined backing sheet, roll the dough out thinly into an oval or circular shape. Spread the blueberry mixture over the dough, leaving about one inch of bare dough around the edges. Roll up the edges of the dough so you get a nice rim around the outside.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden.

Blueberry Tart
OK so the major challenge of this meal is the different oven temperatures. You might want to bake the rutabaga all the way, then take it out of the oven and do the bread. The bread does need to be served warm so I would definitely do it last. Put the rutabaga back in the oven for the last five minutes or so while the bread is baking, that way it will be hot when serving. Meanwhile, prepare the tart and stick that in the oven while everyone is eating.

So what did we think? Well, I didn't cook the reindeer as long as I was supposed to because I was afraid of overcooking it. But I think that was a mistake, because the meat came out a little tough. A longer cooking time probably would have made it more tender. It was tasty though. It had a lot of flavor and was not gamey or anything. It was very venisony, as you might expect. I liked the simple recipe since those other ingredients didn't overpower the taste of the meat.

I loved the rutabaga, which is something I only started eating within the last year or two. I can see why this is usually a Christmas dish, though, because it was sweet and very wintery.

The bread was excellent. I could taste the potato, which gave the bread a unique flavor though it still had the same texture as any flatbread.

And the tart … well, Martin and I each had a piece that night. It was yummy. The next day, we devoured the leftovers like pizza. The kids loved it. Yes, it was very simple. But oh, yum.

Martin had an interesting comment that I'm going to think about—I've been doing these meals in alphabetical order, but he wondered if I should change my format: maybe cook from those tropical nations during the summer, and from the northern ones during the winter. Because this meal did seem a little out of place in June. It was delicious, but would have tasted even better if the house wasn't maxing out at 80 degrees.

What do you think, would you like to see more summery recipes in the summer months?

Next week: French Guiana

For printable versions of this week's recipes:

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