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, February 25, 2021

Recipes from Mali: Tukasu

Okay so it took me a couple of days to get this one up and it looks like I'll be saving the dessert recipe for tomorrow. Or the next day. That's still better than three years though, right?

This is tukasu, and I just want to begin by saying that it looks better in person, and when you're using natural light and are actually good at taking pictures of food. Honestly, sometimes I think I just want to have my daughter draw pictures of blog food so it will look like it tasted.

This dish is kind of like a cross between chicken and dumplings and a really rich marinara pasta, but without the chicken and without the pasta. Here's how you make it:

Make the dough first. It's a pretty basic dough with just flour, water, yeast, and salt. I just put the ingredients in my bread machine and let it do all the kneading. Note that the amounts listed in the recipe below are less than what the recipe called for (the recipe called for eight cups of flour, which is enough to make two decent sized loaves of bread and I thought that seemed a little excessive).

Anyway, mix up the ingredients, cover with a damp towel and set aside for now. 

Then cut up some onions into thin strips. Here some onions, because even though I haven't done many of these posts in the last few years I never get tired of taking photos of onions (actually I am still absolutely sick of always having to take an onion photo, like every single blog meal, because there's no such thing as a culture that does not use onions. I'm  just trying to put on a brave face).

There are five onions in the ingredient list -- you only need to cut up two of them. The other three you'll just drop whole into the sauce.  

Now on to the tomatoes. The recipe said to just kind of smash the tomatoes to remove the skins, but it's easier to blanch them. To do this, just drop them in a pot of boiling water and then take them out when the skins start to split. Let them cool and the skins will come right off. 

Now cut the meat into largish chunks and chop up the tomatoes. Heat the oil in a large pot and add the meat, the two chopped onions, the tomatoes, and some salt to taste. Let the meat brown.

Next you're going to take all of your sauce ingredients and put them in a blender: water, spices (except the bay leaf), tomato paste, and the whole onions. Puree until smooth. 

Take the resulting liquid and strain so it's a little less watery. Then put it in a separate pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. 

Time to go back to the dough. You'll want to knead it for a few more minutes, then divide it up into small balls. Cover the balls with a damp towel and let them rise.

Now add four cups of water to the sauce along with the bay leaves. Drop the dough balls into the sauce, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. When they're done they'll look like this:

Turn the heat down to low and let the sauce reduce down until it is the consistency of marinara sauce.
To serve, place a few of the bread balls on the plate and top with sauce. Add the meat and onions and serve.

The verdict: Adults loved it, kids sort of liked it. They were pretty into the dough balls but they didn't go back for seconds or anything. For the record, the sauce was crazily rich -- that's a whole lot of tomato paste for one recipe and it was kind of hard to eat more than a small portion. But eating small portions isn't really a bad thing, is it?

Here's the printable recipe:


  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 3 lbs beef
  • 1 cup oil
  • 5 large onions
  • 8 tomatoes
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 8 to 10 fresh dates
  • 1 tsp ground anise
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chili powder to taste


  1. First make the dough. Add the salt and yeast to the water, then add the flour. Mix until you have a smooth dough. Knead for around 15 minutes. Cover with a damp towel and set aside.
  2. Cut two of the onions into thin strips. Blanch the tomatoes in hot water until the skins start to split, then remove and let cool. Remove the skins and discard.
  3. Cut the meat into largish chunks and chop the tomatoes. Heat the oil in a large pot and add the meat along with salt to taste, the two chopped onions, and the tomatoes. Let brown.
  4. Put the water, all spices except the bay leaf, tomato paste, and the whole onions in a blender and puree until smooth. Strain and then add to a separate pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer.
  5. Knead the dough for another five minutes or so, then divide into small balls. Cover with a damp towel and let rise.
  6. Add four cups of water to the sauce along with the bay leaves. Drop the dough balls into the sauce, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
  7. Reduce heat to low and let the sauce reduce down until it is the consistency of marinara sauce.
  8. To serve, place a few of the bread balls on the plate and top with sauce. Add the meat and onions and serve.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Recipes from Mali

I just spent the last hour deleting like 200 spammy comments from my blog, and I accidentally deleted a couple of real comments from actual people. So if you left a comment and are actually one of the like three people who came back here more than just the one time, I'm sorry! Please repost and I promise I won't delete you again. 

I had to turn on comment moderation because of the ridiculous number of "escort" ads that kept showing up. "Your posts are great! Also here's a link to an escort site." Eye roll. And Mount Everest trekking company ads, what's that all about? I mean, I support my local Sherpa as much as the next blogger but I don't think Travel by Stove is super popular with the "let's climb Mount Everest" crowd. I could be wrong, though, so if you've ever climbed Mount Everest do leave me a comment. But without a link to your trekking company please.

Mount Hombori, which is definitely not Mount Everest.
Anyway here we are in Mali, where the highest peak is is Mount Hombori, which at 3,782 feet is roughly 25,250 feet below Mount Everest, so I don't expect any Mount Hombori trekking companies to come dropping into these comments. 

I have to say it was tough to find Mali recipes. I was determined not to make jollof again and I was also kind of shying away from stuff with peanuts, since that just seems so typically African and I wanted something that was more specifically Malian. So in the end, I found this recipe for tukasu from It's basically dumplings served in a meat and tomato sauce, and it sounds a lot more challenging than it actually is:

And yeah, I recognize that my photography sucks right now. My photography lights are sitting on a shelf covered in dust and one of them is burned out and I really just don't want to.

But the good news is, I saved back a couple of these for the next day and took photos of them in natural light, so theylook a lot nicer than the tukasu does. They're called "fonio cakes" after the ancient grain flour they're made with. The recipe comes from

I'll have the recipes posted tomorrow. I hope. 

Where is Mali?

On Sunday, my oldest daughter told me she wanted to try sushi. This girl does not eat seafood, so I was like, "What? Okay let's get some before you change your mind." You know, expanding horizons and all that. Of course we're in a pandemic so it's not like we can go get sushi at a proper sushi boat place or anything, so I had to get some from Raley's.

Tirelli, Mopti, Mali. Photo by C. Hugues.

Now, I've never had any problem with the sushi at our local Raley's. It's always fresh. But after eating this particular box of sushi, well, let me just say I was not present at my day job today, and my oldest daughter isn't doing so great either. Instead, I spent my day sitting on the sofa binge watching Worst Cooks in America. And I also redesigned my blog. Sort of. I mean, I uploaded a free template and now the blog looks different. 

Anyway, for this entry we are in Mali, which is actually the eighth largest country in Africa, yet most Americans couldn't find it on a map or probably say anything about how big it is. It's also the world's third largest producer of gold, which means it must be one of the wealthier African nations, right? Nope. Mali is, in fact, one of the world's poorest nations with an average annual income of about $1,500. The fact that Mali is a unitary semi-presidential republic under a military dictatorship might have something to do with that, though I can't say I'm especially educated in the particulars of the Malian economy. 

Because Mali isn't a wealthy nation, they eat a lot of cereals and not very much meat. Rice and millet are usually on the menu, and the Malians make sauces out of peanuts, tomatoes, spinach, or some combination thereof. The also eat fufu in Mali, which, no, and jollof rice, which I didn't make this week mostly because I made a version of it when I did the Gambia like eight years ago and I couldn't possibly make the same basic dish twice in any one decade. 

Instead I chose tukasu. Because I was warned that tukasu was kind of a complicated dish, I selected just one other recipe to make, a dessert called "fonio cakes." How'd it go? I'll let you know in a couple of days.

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