Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy -
Marisa Batini, 80 years old
Marisa was born in Lucignano, a really small town in the middle of the Tuscan countryside. She got married when she was 24 and then she moved to Castiglion Fiorentino, the same town where I grew up. She is in fact “my grandma Marisa.” When I was young I used to spend a lot of time with her and would play with my sister and cousins in her yard all day long. While she was born and raised in the Tuscan countryside and has always been a housewife, to be honest, she has never been a great champion at cooking. Years ago she would often try, but recently she has limited her cooking to very rare occasions. However, one of her dishes cannot be beat: swiss chard and ricotta ravioli with meat sauce. When she makes ravioli she gives our whole family a tour to the past of old traditions of rolling out pasta by hand. Unfortunately, these rare tours only last the time of the meal—then we all go back to our busy lives.
Swiss chard and Ricotta Ravioli with Meat Sauce
Serves 4 to 6
For the sauce:
2 pounds ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 celery rib, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 pound ground beef
3⁄4 cup red wine,(optional)
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour (240 grams)
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound Swiss chard, center ribs removed
2/3 cup fresh ricotta, drained (150 grams)
2 tablespoons grated
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water (egg wash)
The first thing to prepare is the sauce because it takes the longest time to cook. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring some water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cut an X in the bottom of each tomato and gently place them in the boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove and immediately plunge them into the bowl of ice water. When the skin begins to separate from the tomatoes, peel them and place them in a food processor or blender to puree them into a sauce. Set aside. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and parsley and sauté until the vegetables soften and the onions are translucent. Add the ground beef. Cook until browned, about 10 minutes (if you like, you can add the red wine, too, and allow the alcohol to cook off, about 5 minutes). Add the tomato sauce and 2 teaspoons of salt and black pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer gently, uncovered, for 3 hours. Add a pinch of nutmeg and season to taste.
Make the ravioli:Mound the flour in the center of a board, as if it were a small volcano (a small mountain with a well in it). Beat 3 eggs in a separate bowl. Pour them gently into the flour volcano and use a fork to incorporate the flour starting with the inner rim of the well. Mix so that the flour begins to absorb the eggs. When the dough begins to come together, you can work it with your hands adding more flour as needed. Continue to knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic enough to be divided into four parts. Stretch each part into a 1/8” layer, using a rolling pin.
While the dough is resting bring a large pot of water to a boil, make the pasta filling. Add the Swiss chard and cook for 15-20 minutes until the chard is tender. Drain thoroughly by squeezing out all of the water.
Chop the squeezed Swiss chard with a kitchen knife or a mezzaluna. In a large bowl, combine the chard, ricotta, the remaining egg, Parmesan, a pinch of salt and a pinch of nutmeg. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt.
Cut the pasta layers in small rectangles of about 3 inches by 11⁄2 inches. Add one teaspoon of the filling to the center of each rectangle. Top each with another rectangle of pasta and close the ravioli, pressing the borders with a fork. If needed, seal the ravioli with egg wash.
Add the ravioli to the boiling water and cook about 10 minutes until the pasta is al dente. Drain and serve them with the meat sauce. Add some grated Parmesan to your taste. Enjoy!
Alaverdi, Armenia -
Jenya Shalikashuili, 58 years old
Dolma is a dish made of minced beef, rice and vegetables wrapped into grape leaves is typical of all those areas that once belonged to the Ottoman Empire—Greece, Syria, Egypt, Turkey and Armenia—and in each of these places the actual taste and preparation are slightly different. In Armenia the name, too, is a bit different: here, indeed, it is called tolma.
Jenya, 58 years old with 4 grandchildren, has lived all her life in Armenia. She learned to cook tolma when she was 15 and ever since has been cooking this dish at least 4 times a week. “It is my family’s favorite meal. My grandchildren didn’t like it when they were young, but now they love it and they always ask for it. When they come for dinner I prepare it in two different ways, because I don’t use black pepper in the ones I know they’ll eat. (This is the trick to get kids to eat them.)”
Tolma – (roll of beef and rice wrapped into grape leaves)
Makes 28 pieces
1 medium white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons whole coriander
Leaves from one sprig of fresh thyme
1 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup uncooked white rice
1 8-ounce jar grape leaves in brine, or fresh grape leaves
1 pound ground (or minced) beef
1-2 teaspoons (or less) black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine the onions, coriander, thyme and cloves of garlic in a blender. Puree until the mixture is smooth. Cook the rice until it is about 80% done, then set aside.
While the rice is cooking, bring some water to boil in a medium saucepan. Drain the grape leaves and gently remove them from the jar. Unfold them but do not separate them. When the water is boiling, turn off the heat and place the grape leaves in the pan. Let them sit for 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove the grape leaves to a bowl of cold water. By this time they should be easy to separate. Drain in a colander and pat dry. Set aside. (If using fresh leaves, follow the same procedure.)
In a medium bowl, mix the minced beef with the onion puree and stir. Add black pepper to taste (use a lot less if kids are going to eat the dolma), butter, warm rice and salt. Work this mixture together with your hands, until the butter is blended and the mixture becomes smooth.
Place the dry leaves, veined side up, on a clean work surface. Put 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each leaf. Turn the sides in and roll up firmly into a burrito shape.
Set a large pot of water to boil. Cover the bottom of a second pot with several of the larger leaves.
Place the tolma side by side over the bottom layer of leaves so as to fill the whole surface. Continue layering in this manner until all the tolma have been set in place. Place a heatproof dish with the same diameter of the pot to cover them, as if to squash them. Put a weight on the heatproof dish (Jenya used a stone from the garden or use a bowl filled with water on top of the plate) and pour the boiling water into the pot over the top until it covers the dish. Turn on the heat underneath the tolma and when the water comes back to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and gently simmer the tolma for 1 hour.
When the tolmas are cooked, remove the dish and allow the tolmas to cool in the pot. Carefully remove the rolls from the pot, being careful not to break them. Arrange them on a plate and serve.
Bangkok, Thailand -
Boonlom Thongpor, 69 years old
Six large photos of all the members of her family keep Boonlom company every time she prepares a new delicacy in her kitchen. A 69-year-old mother of two daughters and grandmother of a young child (who you can see in the photo between the hi-fi speakers), Boonlom has spent her whole life in Bangkok and considers herself the best cook in her neighborhood. Until a few years ago she used to run a small street restaurant, the kind you find everywhere around Southeast Asia, where people eat simple and quick (but often very tasty) dishes while standing or sitting on stalls on the street borders. (The average cost of a full meal at her restaurant rarely goes beyond four dollars!) Now her restaurant is run by one of her daughters, who has changed it slightly: in what used to be their garage, her daughter has arranged four squared tables so people can finally eat properly seated!
Kai Yat Sai (stuffed omelette)
Yield: Serves 3-4
2 tablespoons canola or safflower oil
1/2 pound ground pork
3-4 teaspoons soy sauce
1 white onion, cut into small
3/8–inch dice, about 2 cups
4 plum tomatoes, cut into small 3/8–inch dice, about 2 cups
1 14-ounce can baby corns, (10) cut into 3/4-inch pieces, about 1 1⁄2 cups
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
6 large eggs
Non-stick canola oil spray (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Small bowl of steamed rice, optional
Red bell pepper, sliced, optional
If you want to accompany your omelette with some steamed rice, first cook it according to package directions. Set aside.
Heat a wok or large sauté pan over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and heat until the oil is very hot. Add the pork and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add the soy sauce and cook for one more minute. Add the onion, tomatoes, baby corns, sugar and fish sauce, stirring well to combine. Cook everything together for 4 to 5 minutes or until the pork is done. Remove the pork mixture from the wok and set it aside. Wipe out the wok and return it to the stove.
Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl and whisk them with a pinch of salt.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the wok over high heat, then drain it so as to leave only a thin greasy layer on the wok (Alternatively, you can spray a sauté pan with non-stick spray). Pour the eggs in the wok and heat for slightly more than a minute, moving the wok in a circular motion to obtain a thin and large omelette.
When the eggs begin to set, lower the heat. Place the pork mixture in the center of the omelette and wrap the omelette around it. Cook the omelette for one more minute, turning it a couple of simply fold over the omelette.) The dish is ready to be eaten. Bonloon suggests topping with pieces of red pepper, but personally I preferred it plain!
Whitehorse, Canada -
Kathy O’Donovan, 64 years old
“My son chased this bison,” Kathy proudly says, while showing me a dish with a dozen pieces of dark meat. She has spent all of her 64 years in the Yukon, one of the northern regions of Canada. Then, she continues while cutting the meat into pieces, “We butchered it a few days ago—you are lucky, it hasn’t been frozen. The taste of the meat is much better when the meat is fresh.”
Kathy has two daughters and a son, and in only eight years they have given her 7 grandchildren. She is the one who spends most of the time with the children. “My daughters and son and their partners work and they often leave the children here with me, sometimes at night, too. If I listened to the kids I would cook fried things all the time, but their parents want me to cook healthfully for them. I try to do so, but three of them are a bit plump, anyway,” she giggles.
Bison under the midnight sun
4 1/2 pounds boneless thigh of bison marinated
whole, or top round sirloin 25 ounces dark beer or stout
Salt and pepper to taste
20 juniper berries for the marinade
2 tablespoons olive oil
1⁄2 pound bacon
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 bay or laurel leaves
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped rosemary One red onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup Pomi chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 large white button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
Combine the bison, beer, salt, pepper, and 10 juniper berries in a large bowl, narrow and deep enough for the meat to be completely covered. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325 ̊F. Remove the meat from the bowl, reserving the marinade. Pat the meat dry and cut it into 1 1⁄2 inch cubes.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bison and cook for 3 minutes. You want to heat the meat, but not brown it.
Transfer the warm meat to a small roasting pan or oven-proof pot with fitted with a lid. Begin layering the meat, separating each layer from the other with the strips of bacon. Season each layer with garlic, bay leaves, rosemary and the remaining juniper berries. Top the last layer with the red onion.
Stir the tomato pulp into the remaining beer marinade, then pour the mixture over the meat. Make sure the liquid filters between the layers of meat.
Cover the pan and bake in the preheated oven for 3 1⁄2 hours. Halfway through the cooking time, check the pan and to make sure the liquid has not already been absorbed. If it has, add one to two glasses of water if necessary.
After 3 hours and 15 minutes of cooking, combine the flour with 1⁄4 cup cold water in a small bowl. Stir until there are no lumps and the flour is completely dissolved and add it immediately to the stew, stirring well to combine. Sprinkle the mushrooms over the top of the meat, return the cover and continue cooking 15 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Now your bison is ready to be eaten! In Canada this bison casserole is often accompanied with iced beer, but I would also suggest a nice red wine.
Chongqing, China -
Pan Guang Mei, 62 years old
Pan Guan Mei has a son and only one grandchild. She was born 62 years ago in the countryside of Sichuan and now she lives in Chongqing, a city of more than 30 million people, which is considered among the biggest five cities in the world. She grew up in a tiny house, where the kitchen was a sort of camping stove placed on a table. Now she lives with her husband on the nineteenth floor of a skyscraper in the southern part of the city, and her kitchen is as big as her first house.
The word rou (the third in the word of the recipe) means “meat cooked again in the wok” in Chinese and, indeed, the meat has to be cooked twice: the first time in boiling water and the second in a wok with some vegetables. Folks in China know that eating pork every week is good, but with moderation and provided that you accompany the pork with plenty of vegetables (and possibly that you cycle every day to the market to shop). This is how you keep slim, according to Pan Guan Mei.
Hui Guo Rou (twice-cooked pork with vegetables)
14-ounce pork belly, skin on
2 1-inch pieces ginger root, thinly sliced or shredded
2 bunches green onions (two bunches), trimmed and chopped into 2-inch pieces, divided
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (or hot chili paste - doubanjiang)
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch dice
1/2 green pepper, cut into 1-inch dice
1 large red onion, cut into 1-inch dice
Place the pork belly in a wok or large saucepan; add water to cover the meat completely. Add half of the ginger root and half of the chopped green onion. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cook 30 minutes until the pork is tender.
Drain the pork, remove the skin and cut it into thin slices.
Wipe out the wok. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and warm over high heat until the oil is very hot. Add the rest of the ginger and cook one minute. Add the sliced pork and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Then, remove everything to a dish.
Wipe out the wok again and add the remaining two tablespoons oil and sugar over low heat. When the sugar is melted and begins to caramelize, add the hot chili sauce and soy sauce. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, then add the sliced pork, bell peppers and onion and heat everything together for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
Natawa, Fiji Islands -
Balata Dorote, 62 years old
Balata is the grandmother of three grandsons, whom she hopes will become fishermen as their grandfather, her husband, once was. She lives in a small house among palm trees and close to the sea. One bedroom, one bathroom and a kitchen are enough for her and her husband, but the house had been enough even before, when their two children used to live with them.
Almost every day Balata cooks the fish caught by someone in her family and only a couple of times a week do they have meat, mainly chicken. She has never worked in her 62 years of life and she doesn’t understand why nowadays women are so keen on working outside their home. “Women have to take care of their house and children, there is no time to work. They have to cook at least twice a day; this is their job,” she says a bit ironically of modern Fijian women.
Miti Ika (fish in coconut sauce with Dalo)
3 small Taro/Dalo roots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 coconut (not a young coconut)
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
1 small fresh red chilli pepper such as jalapeno, chopped
A few small Fijian chillies "Junglee Mircha - or birds eye chillies, finely chopped 1 small yellow onion, chopped
One, 2 1⁄2 to 3 pound, white-filleted fish of your choice such as red snapper (Balata used Sanga— also know as trevally or ulua—a firm white-fleshed reef fish)
3 bunches of fresh spinach, about 8 cups
Salt and black pepper to taste
The most difficult step of this recipe is probably getting the dalo, a common Fijian tuber whose taste is similar to that of a potato. Place the dalo into a large pot of boiling water, reduce heat and simmer gently, until fork tender, 40 to 50 minutes. When it is ready, drain and season to taste. Set aside to keep warm to serve as a side dish for the fish.
Prepare the coconut sauce: Open the coconut and add the water to a bowl. Separate the white coconut flesh from the husk and grate it into the bowl with the coconut water. Stir the mixture, and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Then using your hands, squeeze the mixture in another bowl, reserving the liquid. (Discard the solids.) Add the lemon juice, salt, chillies and onion to the coconut liquid. Stir to combine, then set aside.
Fill a large roasting pan or fish poacher 3⁄4-full with water. Bring to a rolling simmer, add the fish and cook until the fish is opaque, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
While the fish is cooking, bring a medium saucepan with water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook 3 to 5 minutes. Drain the spinach, season well with salt and pepper, and place on a serving platter.
When the fish is ready, carefully remove it from the water and slice it into serving-size pieces. Season it to taste with more salt and pepper and set it on top of the spinach, arranging the fish in its original shape. Pour the coconut sauce over the fish. Add the dalo to the platter and serve.
Manila, Philippines -
Fernanda De Guia, 71 years old
Fernanda was born in Manila and she has lived there all her life. She has three sons and five grandchildren, and lives with her husband in a big house in the north part of the city. All of her sons live in her neighborhood with their families, or rather, they live on the same street. The house of the son who lives the farthest is not more than one kilometer away from hers. “I really love the fact that my sons and my grandchildren are nearby, I never have a moment of rest,” she giggles. “They are always here: lunch, dinner, tea time. You could say I’m a full time cook, but without salary. Sometimes I’m tired of cooking so much, but in the end I think that having a family so close to me is the best thing I could ask for. They keep me happy all the time.” I meet all of them on a nice Sunday morning and we have a fantastic lunch together.
Sinigang (tamarind soup with pork and vegetables)
1 1⁄2 pounds of pork belly, cut into 1 1⁄2 - inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
4 whole fresh regular tamarinds pods (not sweet)
3 whole ripe tomatoes
2 small (about 6 ounces each)
taro corms (tubers), peeled and chopped into one-inch pieces Boiling water
4 cups kangkong (also called ong choy or water spinach), or baby spinach
8 string beans, cut in half
2 big green finger peppers (frying peppers) cut into 1-inch pieces
In a medium pot, combine the pork with enough water to cover (about 6 cups). Add the salt. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the tamarind pods and tomatoes. Cook 10 minutes, then remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon. Peel and mash them and then put them back into the soup. Add the taro.
Simmer 5 more minutes until the tamarind is tender and the shells begin to show cracks.
Remove the pods from the soup. Open them and remove the tendrils (they should be discarded along with the pod shells). Place the pulp and seeds in a heatproof bowl and pour in 1⁄2 cup of boiling water to cover. Press gently against the pulp and seeds and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the juice through a fine strainer back into the soup. Discard the remaining pulp and seeds. Continue to gently simmer the soup for another 15 minutes.
When everything has simmered for about 55 minutes in total, add the water spinach, okras, spring beans and green finger peppers. Salt to your taste and simmer for another 10 minutes.
El Nido, Philippines -
Carmen Alora, 70 years old
Carmen has lived all her life in El Nido, in the north of Palawan Island, in the Philippines. The island is a sort of paradise with nice beaches, fantastic green mountains, and an incredibly beautiful sea rich with color and sealife. El Nido is a small fishermen’s village that sits between the jungle and the barrier reef and Carmen was the first person to open a restaurant there, nearly 40 years ago. Today there are a dozen restuarants, each made to satisfy the few tourists that visit. The restaurant kitchen has presently become her home kitchen and, there, she cooks her delicacies for the only one among her three sons who still lives in El Nido and her two grandchildren. I met Carmen thanks to the couchsurfer who hosted me. He introduced her to me bragging, “she’s the best cook in town and her Kinunot has to be in your book. It is for sure the most representative dish of this area Indeed, the sea around the island is rich in the species of shark necessary for this dish. While sudsod shark is considered to be one of the finest fishes by the local fishermen, it is illegal to fish in some parts of the world where it is considered an endangered species.
Kinunot (shark in coconut soup)
(1 1⁄4 cups per serving)
3 pounds “sudsod” shark, a small shovel-nosed shark or substitute skate or stingray fillet
2 tablespoons (or more) palm tree oil
1 large red onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
One 1- inch piece ginger root, finely chopped
5 red and 3 green birds eye chilies, chopped
1/4 cup white vinegar
4 1⁄2 cups coconut milk
4 cups Malunggay (also known as moringa) leaves (a common plant in the Philippines) or baby spinach
Steamed white rice (optional)
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, add the fish and cook until opaque, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the cooked fish meat to a bowl, let it cool, and crumble the meat into pieces.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the red onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté for 5 minutes until the mixture is golden brown. Add the chopped chillies and vinegar. Simmer 5 minutes, then add the pieces of fish. Let everything cook for 15 minutes, then pour in the coconut milk and bring to a rolling simmer. Taste the soup every now and then and adjust the seasoning to taste.
Simmer the soup for 15 minutes, before adding the Malunggay leaves. Cook for another 10 minutes before serving over steamed white rice.
Grace Estibero, 82 years old
Grace was born in Goa, in the south of India, and grew up there, in between the sea and the jungle in a nice colonial house. However, she has lived the last 10 years in a new building made of concrete and glass in the northern quarter of Mumbai, with the family of one of her two sons. She is of Portuguese origin, like the majority of Indians in Goa, and as a result her cooking has that same influence. Some years ago, for the first time in her life, she left India with her younger son to visit Lisbon where her parents are from. I could see with my eyes the place of my origins–the place from where my language and culture came from. I had always thought it as similar to Goa, but, in fact, it wasn’t. There is no jungle there and the houses are really different from what I thought they were. I liked it, but I’m happy that I grew up in Goa instead of Lisbon,” she says.
Typical of the Indian cooking, chicken vindaloo is a hot dish, which was originally introduced to Goa by the Portuguese. Often served on special occasions, this dish is traditionally prepared with pork, but I am sure you will be fully satisfied with this chicken version.
2 red onions, finely diced
10 dried red (finger) chillies
2 fresh green chillies, roughly chopped
1⁄2-1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
10 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
One 1⁄2-inch piece ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
10 whole cloves
10 whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 skinless boneless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds), cut into bite size pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the masala sauce:In a blender, combine half of the red onion with the red chillies, green chilis, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, cumin, cloves, black peppercorns, turmeric, tamarind paste, sugar and 1⁄2 cup water. Puree until everything is finely chopped. Add another 1⁄2 cup of water and blend until the mixture becomes a puree.
In a large sauté pan heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the remaining diced onion and saute until it becomes golden. Add the masala sauce to the pan and stir to combine. Cook the sauce for 5 minutes, then add the chicken pieces. Continue cook for about 18 to 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
Kekava, Latvia -
Inara Runtule, 68 years old
“This big poster on the wall shows my whole family, starting from my grandparents’s grandparents,” Inara says, leading me to the living room. “My granddaughter made it when she was 14, for a school project. It’s one of the most beautiful things I have in my house. I love looking at it and thinking about all my relatives, especially the ones who live far away and I can’t invite for dinner or lunch. There is only one thing I’m sorry about now I have other grandchildren and the family tree should have more branches, but my granddaughter is never in the mood for adding them.”
Ianara was born and raised in Kekava, a small town really close to Riga, the capital of Latvia. She has retired with her husband in a big house with a big greenhouse in the backyard where they farm fresh vegetables almost all the year long.
I met them with her granddaughter on a cold evening at the end of October and we all cooked together for a couple of hours. I usually don’t like herring, but Ianara’s preparation is really delicious.
Silke Krèjumà (herring with potatoes and cottage cheese)
4 fillets of salted herring
2 large boiling potatoes, peeled
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 cups sour cream
1 1⁄2 cups Kefir (Kefir works best here, as Greek yogurt is too thick)
2 sprigs dill, chopped
2/3 cups cottage cheese (15 ounces)
Salt and pepper
Soak the herring fillets in water for at least two hours, changing the water several times. (This process is used to wash the herring from the salt. If you want to give the herrings a sweeter taste, use milk instead of water. You can also add 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar to the water to cut the sharpness of the herring.) Remove the filets from the water and rinse.
Boil the potatoes until they are cooked to your desired tenderness. Cut each into 8 slices.
Meanwhile, fill a bowl with the vinegar and about XXX of hot water. Place the onions in the bowl and let them marinate for about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Drain the herring fillets and remove their skin and pin bones. Cut the filets into 1-inch pieces and lay them on a plate. Top the chunks of herring with the marinated onions to cover the fillets completely.
Combine the sour cream and 1 cup of Kefir in a medium bowl, stirring until well blended. Pour the cream over the fish and onions. Sprinkle with half of the chopped dill and refrigerate for at least one hour.
In a separate bowl, mix the cottage cheese with the remaining 1⁄2 cup kefir and the remaining dill. Season with salt and pepper. (This cream will be used to season the potatoes in the end.)
Now that everything is ready, plate the dish: place the herring and the potatoes on the same dish, seasoning the fish with some cream from its own marinade and the potatoes with the other cottage cheese mixture. Serve with white wine or iced beer.
Beirut, Lebanon -
Wadad Achi, 66 years old
“I am 100% Lebanese.” This is the first thing Wada says in English when I ask her to tell me something about her life. She grew up in the north of Beirut, the Christian area. Now Wada lives in the city center, a few steps from the sea and the biggest mosque in the city. Her two daughters are 30 and 25 years old, and thanks to the older one, she is the granny of two grandchildren. “My grandchildren are young and luckily they haven’t experienced the war, but I’m worried that they are growing up here, where sooner or later a new conflict might break out,” she says. I met Wadad at her house on a sunny afternoon with a couple of bottles of red wine to drink with the dinner she was preparing. She warned me that she is not a good cook, at which point her husband—who is clearly overweight—stroked his large belly and said, “Gabriele, don’t believe her; she’s a big liar!”
Mjadara is the typical Friday dish in the Christian Lebanese communities because it is vegetarian. There are different ways of preparing it; the uniqueness of Wada’s recipe is that at the end of the preparation she adds some red radishes to decorate the dish. She says the taste of the red radish enhances that of the lentils.
Mjadara (rice and lentils cream)
1 cup dried lentils
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
1 cup rice
1⁄2 cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
Salt and black pepper
chopped mint (for garnish)
Place the lentils in a medium saucepot and add water just to cover. The lentils should absorb all the water, so add more if needed while cooking. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until the lentils are very tender.
While the lentils are cooking, heat the oil in a medium sized skillet. Fry the onions over medium- high heat, until they have browned and are crispy, about 10 minutes.
When the lentils are tender and have absorbed all of the water, remove them from heat and let cool slightly. Place them in a food processor or blender and puree them (being careful when blending hot liquids). Place the puree in a saucepan and add 3 cups of water to the puree (to thin it out) and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the rice and the bulgur, and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to a simmer, stirring frequently. (It may be necessary to add more water if all of the liquid has been absorbed before the rice is tender.) After about 15 minutes, or 5 minutes before the rice is ready, add the fried onions.
When the rice is tender, serve the mjadara in soup dishes, garnished with onion, red radish and mint.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -Thilaga Vadhi, 55 years old
On a wall in the kitchen three photos of Thilaga’s parents and relatives in their traditional Malaysian costumes keep her company while she cooks delicious dishes for her husband and her two children, which is at least twice a day. “My men work almost all day long. Lunch and dinner are the only moments we can spend together and I am happy when I see them leaving the table satisfied with what they have eaten. That’s the reason why I love cooking for them. I have always been a housewife and I love this ‘job’ even if I don’t get any money for it,” she says smiling. I met Thilaga and her family on a nice evening at the end of March. They live in a big apartment at the seventh floor of a huge building in the south part of the city. (I almost got lost in the building because there were so many corridors and more than 200 doors, but fortunately I found my way.) They were all waiting for me with a fantastic hot tea on the table. We chatted for more then an hour before I started cooking with Thilaga. The best thing that I learned from her is how to make good coconut rice which is something that I really love! Nasi Lemak is a traditional Malaysian dish, which is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner in restaurants, but it isn’t difficult to prepare it at home.
Nasi Lemak (coconut rice with vegetables and fried dried anchovies)
Serves 4 to 6
For the spice paste:
15 dried red chillies, soaked in water to rehydrate
15 small red Asian shallots (or 5 regular shallots)
2 onions, finely chopped
7 garlic cloves,
5 roughly chopped,
1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped
7 tablespoons palm or vegetable oil – divided
2 teaspoons shrimp paste (Blachen)
1 teaspoon salt and
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the rice:
2 cups of Jasmine rice (400 grams)
1 cup coconut milk (250 grams)
12 cubes (50 grams) rock sugar or small “lump candy” (found in Asian markets)
3 pandan leaves (screw pine leaves) – tied together in a knot
1 cup dried anchovies
1 pound of spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup peanuts
1 cucumber, sliced
4 hard-boiled eggs
Prepare the spice paste: Combine the chillies, shallots, half of the onion, the 5 chopped garlic cloves, ginger and 1 tablespoon of oil in a blender or food processor. Blend everything until you get a smooth paste. Place the shrimp paste and the 2 minced garlic cloves in a mortar and crush until smooth.
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add the spice and shrimp pastes, stirring well to combine. Add the salt and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the remaining chopped onion and the sugar. Continue simmering for 10 more minutes.
Prepare the rice. Wash the rice in cold water and drain. In a medium pot, combine the rice with the coconut milk, rock sugar, and 2 cups water, and stir to combine. Add the pandan leaves and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and cook for 18 to 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. (If you have a rice cooking machine, you can achieve a better result.)
In a small skillet, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Fry the dried anchovies until they are crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
In a medium skillet, heat 11⁄2 tablespoons oil. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
Lastly, heat the remaining 1⁄2 tablespoon of oil in a skillet. Add the peanuts and salt to taste. When the peanuts are well toasted, remove from heat and drain on a paper towel to cool.
At this point the rice should be cooked and the sauce should be ready. Cut the eggs in half and place all of the ingredients on a dish, as shown in the photo.
Aghrimz, Morocco -
Fatma Bahkach, 59 years old
Fatma and her husband have two sons, who are 36 and 34 years old, and a 6-year-old grandson. They all live together in the same house, the first son’s wife included. Though the house is not really big, there is enough space for everybody and it sits 10 minutes outside of the village and 15 minutes from the sea. Fatma is the only cook in the house. “Cooking for the family is my job,” she claims, while telling me that all the other members of the family work in the fields from dawn to dusk. “Dinner is the only time of the day when we are all together under the same roof, because for lunch I usually prepare something that I bring to the field where the others work. Every morning I wake up early to prepare our special fresh bread, which is the easiest dish to bring to work.”
This Berber bread is not so different from the Italian schiacciata (a flat loaf of bread). The ingredients and the process of making it are very similar. The difference is in the shape and baking. The Berber bread is cooked in a cast iron pan and is softer and not as crusty as the Italian bread.
Bat Bot (Berber bread baked in a pan)
Makes 4 large (8-inch) loaves or 8 medium (6-inch) loaves
4 cups all- purpose flour
1 1⁄2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 1⁄2 cups or more
warm water 120°-130°
Combine the flour, the yeast and the salt in a large bowl. Slowly pour the water into the bowl whisking with a fork or using your hand to combine all of the ingredients. If necessary, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time. When the dough comes together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands until it is smooth and soft, about 10 minutes.
Divide the dough evenly into 4 (or 8) pieces and roll each piece into a ball, then flatten slightly with your hand. Place the disks onto a clean well-floured dishtowel. Dust each with a little more flour and cover with another towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.
Working on a lightly floured work surface with one disk at a time, (while keeping the other disks covered), use a rolling pin or your hand to flatten each disk until it is 1/4-inch thick and measures about 8 inches (or 6 for small loaves) in diameter. Place a towel dusted with flour on a baking sheet or large board and transfer the flattened disks to the towel, cover and let rise in a warm area for 1 hour.
At this point, preheat a 9- to 10-inch cast iron pan over medium-low heat, until it is hot, about 5 minutes. Place one disk into the pan, letting it sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. Turn the bread over and heat for 4 to 5 minutes more. Continue turning the bread over every few minutes until it is evenly brown on both sides and the disk is puffed up. The bread should be soft inside, with a thin crispy crust outside (12 to 14 minutes total cooking time).
You can eat the bread plain or you can stuff it with whatever you want.
Veracruz, Mexico -
Laura Ronzòn Herrera, 81 years old
Laura was born in Veracruz and still lives there in a big house with her husband and one of their two children. Her kitchen is a real mess. Jars of spices are stacked up in every corner; clean dishes (and dirty ones, too) are piled up on the sink; there are vegetables everywhere and loads of empty beer bottles in the corner next to the trashcan, which is full. However, as soon as she starts to cook, I just close my eyes and let the smell to take control of my senses: the aroma of frying vegetables mixed with spices and the sweet smell of banana tree leaves boiling in water. While Laura may not be so concerned about appearances, substance is more important. And, indeed, her dishes are delicious, even if they are not so beautiful!
Makes 4 large tamales or 8 small tamales
Banana tree leaves (available frozen or fresh in Asian and Mexican markets)
1 pound white corn flour (masa/masa harina)
2 teaspoons salt plus more for seasoning vegetables
2 tablespoons Crisco oil (the best vegetable oil choice for vegetable tamales)
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1⁄2 -inch dice
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1⁄2 -inch dice
1 small chayote, cut into 1⁄2 -inch dice
20 string beans, cut into 1⁄2 -inch dice Hot sauce or chili powder, for serving
Prepare the banana leaves: Wash and trim the tough edges. If the leaves are brittle, soak them in warm salt water for 1 hour. Pat the leaves dry and cut into 8- by 10-inch rectangles for smaller tamales, 10- by 12-inch for large.
Prepare the masa: If you choose, you can obtain the masa harina like Laura does from 4 white corncobs. Cut off the grains of the white corncobs and collect them on a dish. Then, crush the grains with a mortar and pestle or any other suitable tool in order to obtain some flour.
To make masa with masa flour, in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, salt, oil and 1 1⁄4 cups water. (In the past, people would add a spoon of quicklime to the mixture because they thought it made their bones stronger). Working the masa with your hands, add water gradually, mixing well to combine. Continue until the dough resembles whipped potatoes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt carrots, potato, chayote, and green beans and cook for 10 to 20 minutes. When the vegetables are soft enough to your liking, drain and set aside.
Lay the banana leaves out on a work surface with the light green smooth side up and place 1⁄2 cup (for small tamales or 1 cup for the large tamales) of the masa in the center of each leaf, shaping it to resemble a small boat. Add 1/3 of a cup (for small tamales or 2/3 of a cup for large tamales) of vegetables inside each masa boat, and close them up by bringing the masa around them. Fold one long edge of the banana leaf down over the filling. Bring the other long edge up over the top. Then fold both sides over each other to make a rectangular package. Be careful not to wrap it too tightly or the filling will squeeze out. Flip the package over so it is seam side down. Secure the tamale with kitchen twine or a long strip of the banana leaf.
Place a steamer basket into a large a Dutch oven or soup pot with enough water to reach the bottom of the basket. Place some banana leaves on the steamer basket, layer your tamales on top of the leaves, and finish with more banana leaves to cover the tamales. Steam the tamales for 1 hour and serve them. If you like it, you can eat them with hot sauce or simply top them with some chilli powder.
The yield for this recipe was supposed to be “4 tamales”. I found it very difficult working with the larger size banana leaves needed to hold so much filling. I used frozen banana leaves and found them to be quite fragile, prone to splitting. Had no problem with the smaller size and 2 tamales seemed an appropriate portion.
Stockholm, Sweden -
Brigitta Fransson, 70 years old
Brigitta is a hundred per cent Swedish, having been born and raised in Stockholm, though she is well travelled. Her clean and tidy house sits on the second floor of a new condo. Everything is set with extreme precision and white is the predominant color of her furniture. Many big windows allows light to stream inside. Entering her house, I initially had the impression that I was in an Ikea showroom, but then, the good smell of salmon wafting from the kitchen wiped that idea out of my mind. Brigitta lives with Nina, a German student who is renting her daughter’s former room. “My grandchildren live far away and I don’t see them often. Nina has lived with me for one year and now she is like part of the family. I’m glad to be able to cook for someone at the end of the day and not to be alone. We sit at the same table almost every night and we have dinner together. I feel like I have a new grandchild and I love it.”
Undoubtedly, salmon is the most widely served food on Swedish tables. It can be cooked in a thousand of different ways, simple and lighte or not. This recipe follows the most common procedure (and it’s probably even the healthiest). It is a typical summertime recipe for two reasons: because it is served cold and because sweet potatoes can be found only in summer.
Inkokt Lax – (poached cold salmon and vegetables)
4 new potatoes (8 if they are very small)
1⁄2 pound string beans
2 sprigs fresh dill, plus more for garnish
2 teaspoons Salt
1 lemon, thinly sliced plus more for garnish
1 pound salmon fillet
1 cup Greek yogurt
Boil the potatoes and the string beans in two separate pots until they are cooked to your taste. (In Sweden spring beans are usually boiled for a few minutes only, so that they are still hard and crisp.) Set aside.
Remove the dill fronds from the stalks and reserve. Place the stalks into a skillet or saucepan (large enough to hold the fish in one layer) with 41⁄4 cups of water and of the salt and bring to a boil. When the water boils, add the sliced lemon, cover and let it cook for 5 to 6 minutes.
Now, cut the salmon fillet into 4 pieces and place them in the pot, making sure that the fish is completely covered with water. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Leave everything in the pot, covered until the water cools completely, 40 to 45 minutes. (This cooking method enhances the taste of the salmon, because it doesn’t waste its aroma in the boiling water.)
Place the reserved dill fronds in a small bowl, add the yogurt, and mix well to combine.
Remove the salmon from the poaching liquid and arrange the pieces on a dish with the potatoes and the string beans, garnish with some fresh dill and sliced lemon, and serve with the yogurt sauce. You can match this dish with cold white wine.
Massa, Morocco -
Eija Bankach, 62 years old
Eija’s kitchen has are neither gas nor electric cookers so when she cooks she only uses embers (which are always kept burning) in the yard outside her house. The house is big, on top of a small hill overlooking the fields where her family works every day. “I can always control what they do,” she smiles. For what Eija remembers she has always lived in Massa, which is one hour southern from Agadir. She lives with her husband and her younger daughter, whereas her older one moved in with her husband a few years ago, a couple of kilometres from her house. Thanks to her, Eija became a grandmother four years ago. Her grandson, Norden, spends a lot of time with her and often enjoys helping her in the kitchen. “He’s really good at chopping carrots. He loves to measure the pieces and try to make them all the same size. He’s the best helper I could ask for,” she points out.
Tajine draws its name from the characteristic plate used to cook it, which is traditionally made of clay and is composed of two parts: a lower flat-bordered and round part, which is used as the serving dish at the table, and an upper conic lid, which covers the dish during cooking time. The shape of the lid forces the condensation downwards, and it has a knob on top to handle it easily.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 hot green chilies, minced
2 large red onions, chopped and divided
One 3 1⁄2-pound chicken, cut into quarters, skin removed
2 large potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sweet chillies, minced
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 white turnips, roughly chopped
3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
Place the lower part of the tajine plate or a skillet with a lid, on embers on a fire or over medium- low heat. Add the oil, and saute the parsley, green chillies, and half of the onion, about 1 1⁄2 cups. Cook 7 to 8 minutes or until the onion is translucent and the chillies have softened.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place it on top of the onion mixture. Top the chicken with the potatoes, sweet chillies, tomatoes, turnips and carrots. Add salt and pepper to taste, cover the tajine or skillet with the lid and let it cook until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked, about an hour and 15 minutes to one and a half hours.
At the end of the cooking, set the tajine in the middle of the table and, as part of the tradition, let your guests help themselves to the dish, using their hands. If you prefer using cutlery, the food will taste the same, but you won’t have the pleasure of literally licking your fingers in the end.
Istanbul, Turkey -
Ayten Okgu , 76 years old
Ayten was born in Izmir, one of the most beautiful Turkish cities on the Mediterranean coast and she spent the early years of her life there. “I loved growing up in Izmir, which has some of the best beaches in the world,” she says. When she was about 10 she moved to Austria with her family, where she lived until she met her husband at the age of20, while travelling in Turkey. Her husband brought her back to her original land after the marriage and she has been living in Istanbul ever since. in a suburban and very quiet area in the Asiatic part of the city.. She has two daughters and four grandchildren, two of whom are already 18. “Unfortunately, I don’t see my older grandchildren so often. They live in the opposite part of the city and it takes me almost two hours to get there to visit them. They never come to this part of the city, since all the forms of entertainment are to the north of the Bosphorus, in the European side,” she says, looking wretched. While I visited, she cooked me Karniyarik, a typical Turkish dish, not one you might find in a restaurant, but a common home cooked meal.
Karniyarik (stuffed aubergines with meat and vegetables)
4 medium eggplants
1⁄2 cup flat leaf parsley
1⁄2 cup sunflower oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, cut into small dice (about 1 cup)
3 small green sweet chillies, minced
1 pound ground beef
Ground black pepper
4 tomatoes, two diced and two sliced
4 long green sweet chillies for garnish (optional)
Peel the eggplants lengthwise in stripes of 3/4 -inch until only 50% of the total skin is left. Then, make a vertical slit, in order to create an opening for the stuffing, but don’t cut them completely in in half. Sprinkle some salt inside and outside and let them sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
Wash the parsley in a bowl with water and vinegar (Ayten says it makes the parsley smell better), then chop it and set aside.
Pat the eggplants dry. Heat the sunflower oil in a large skillet. Add the eggplants and cook them on all sides until they are golden and softened, for about 10to 12 minutes. Drain them on paper towel while you prepare the filling.
Heat the olive oil in a medium pan. Add theonions and chillies and sauté until golden. Then add the ground beef, salt, and pepper. When the meat is no longer red, add half of the diced tomatoes. Cook over medium-low heat, covered, for five minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until all of the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Using a spoon, create some space inside the opening of the eggplants for the filling. Stuff each with the mixture of vegetables and beef, patting firmly. Put the eggplants in a baking dish and top them with the sliced tomatoes and, if you like, a sweet chilli. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour 3⁄4 to 1 cup of boiling water over the eggplants and top with the remaining diced tomatoes. Loosely cover with aluminium foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 15 minutes or until the filling is browned.
Serve the stuffed eggplants with the tomatoes and juice from the pan.
Kalulushi, Zambia -
Joyce Muape, 49 years old
Joyce was born and raised in Kitwe, one of the biggest cities in Zambia, but since she married 25 years ago she has been living in Kalulushi, a small village in the northern countryside that is close to the Congo border. The village is in the middle of the forest and the closest city is a 2-hour bus ride away. Joyce has two daughters and a son, but only this last one lives near her. Her daughters, instead, moved to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, nearly 7 hours south, after getting married. Joyce hardly sees her five grandchildren so she tries to make up for their absence by spending time with other children. Indeed, she works as a janitor in a primary school for deaf-mute students and spends most of her time with more the 200 children. While working there, she has learned sign language, and every time she sees her grandchildren she tries to teach it to them, too.
Nama Spices (Roasted spiced chicken)
1 large medium onion, finely chopped (about 11⁄2 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons mixed powdered barbecue spices (or spices to your taste)
2 teaspoons salt
One 3 - 3 1⁄2 pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
In a large bowl, combine the onions, rosemary, parsley and basil. Add the lemon juice, 1⁄2 cup oil, barbecue spices and salt. Stir well to combine and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Add the chicken pieces to the herb and lemon juice mixture, and turn to coat well.
Brush a baking dish with 2 tablespoons of oil, add the chicken skin side down and roast it in the oven for about 45 to 50 minutes, turning the pieces after 25 minutes. If you would like the skin crispy, place it under the broiler for a minute or two.
If you are using a wood-fired oven, just like Joyce did, check the chicken quite often, because the temperature of the oven is more uncertain and can vary at moments during the cooking time.
Neriman Mitrolari, 52 years old - Albania
Neriman was born and grew up in Tirana. She has been familiar with kitchens since when she was very young because her mum was a cook. “I enjoyed accompanying mum to the restaurant where she used to work. I immediately started to learn so many things and I dreamt of doing her same job”, Neriman says. Unfortunately her mum is not here anymore. After getting married, when she was 21, she began to work as an assistant chef in the university canteen and then became a cook for the priests of an Italian parish in Tirana. Every day she cooks breakfast, lunch and dinner for them. “I like my job, even if it keeps me away from home and I never get the chance to cook for my family. We can spend some time together only on Sundays”. Neriman has got two grown-up children and three grandchildren: they all live near her house and the parish and sometimes join the priests for a meal, so that she can be happy of having cooked for them as well.
Time: 2 hours
- 1/2kg flour
- milk, butter, water and salt
- 4 eggs
- maize starch
The most difficult part of the recipe is the preparation of the thin layers of pastry (on the left in the photo):
In a bowl, blend a glass of water, a teaspoon of salt, a spoon of seed oil and ½ kilo of flour until you obtain a smooth paste. Knead it with your hands, adding some water if necessary. When the dough is ready, roll it in little balls with the diameter of 3-4 cm and let them rest for 10 minutes.
At this point, put two pinches of maize starch on a pastry board and roll out all the balls, one by one, so as to create very thin round layers of pastry of about 30 cm. You should use a rolling pin (a broomstick for example) to make them as thin as possible.
Then, bake the layers in a metal baking tin, cooking each of them separately for 5 minutes at 200° in the oven. After that, let them cool for a bit.
Now it’s time to prepare the actual Burekoe
Susana Vezzetti, 62 years old – Buenos Aires, Argentina
Susana has got Italian origins, but she was born and grew up in Argentina. She started to work in a furniture factory when still young and for about 20 years she was in charge of the sales department. She got married at 28 and was pregnant soon after. She gave birth to her second daughter 13 months after the first one, and two years after, the third child, a son, arrived. At that point she decided to stop working and devote herself to the family. She was a housewife for almost 20 years. However, she has recently had much more free time. Her children are now grown-up and live with their respective families. So, Susana has come to the decision of going to work again and started a small business. She imports religious books from Italy and sells them in the Argentinian market. Her new job keeps her busy for the almost the whole week, but luckily at the weekend she can spare some time to visit her grandchildren.
Empanada Criolla (that is, meat stuffed pastry)
Time: about 1 hour
Ingredients for 12 empanadas:
- 1/2 kg flour
- ½ kg minced beef
- 2 eggs, 2 onions, 1 red pepper
- raisins and olives
- oil, salt and cumin
The first thing to do to cook empanadas is preparing the dough, called masa:
- Knead 1/2kilo of flour with one egg and half glass of water. Work it well and add water (if necessary) until the dough is dense but smooth.
- Now you can roll out the dough on a pastry board using a wooden rolling pin. Stretch until it is about 1 mm thick and then cut it in rounds of about 15 cm in diameter.
Preparation of the filling for the empanadas:
- Chop onions and peppers and put them in a pan with two spoons of oil. Sauté everything.
- Boil the other egg until it is hard-boiled.
- After 5 minutes of cooking, add the minced beef in the pan, along with a pinch of salt and one of cumin.
- Cook for about 10 minutes, until the liquid is completely absorbed. When it is ready turn the gas off.
Isolina Perez De Vargas, 83 years old – Mendoza, Argentina
Isolina was born in Mendoza, at the foot of the Argentinian Andes, 83 years ago. She was the fifth child in her family. When she was still very young her parents divorced. Her mum kept the children with her, but, because she was very poor, she had to place them in foster care to five different families, separating them. So, Isolina could not grow up with her family. At the age of 22, she married the wedding photographer of her town and started to work with him. They worked together until 5 years ago, when he died. Now Isolina lives with one of her two children. Every Sunday the whole family gathers together at their house and she cooks meat for them, her 7 grandchildren and her 2 great-grandchildren included.
Asado Criollo (mixed meats barbecue)
Time: about 2 hours
Ingredients for 6 people:
- 1kg asado carnizero (beef ribs)
- 6 morsilla (blood sausages)
- 6 chorizo (pork sausages)
- 1/2kg costillas (pork ribs)
- ½ kg chinchulin (beef tripe)
- salt, oil, tomatoes
Argentina is famous for its excellent meat, so, an Argentinian grandmother could not but cook a tasty asado for me:
- It is essential to prepare a good fire with hot embers to cook a tasty asado.
- So, light a fire with some Algarrobo or Jarilla wood. Let the fire burn the wood well and wait for the embers to remain in the end.
- Put some salt on the beef and pork ribs and on the tripe.
- When the embers start to lose a bit of their heat, put a metal grill above them and place the meats and sausages to cook on that.
- The Argentinian secret to cook asado, differently from other countries where they prepare barbecues, is that everything is grilled very slowly. The embers must create a low but constant heat.
- Let the meats cook for about 1 hour (sometimes even more)
Serve the meat accompanied by good Argentinian wine.
Julia Enaigua, 71 years old – La Paz, Bolivia
Julia was born more than 70 years ago in a little village on the shores of the Titicaca Lake. In her family everybody was, and is still now, a fisherman or a farmer. Indeed, she grew up first playing and then working in the fields, too. When she was 25 she got married and moved to La Paz, the city where her husband came from. Since that moment her job has changed: from a farmer into a seller of vegetables. She has got a small stall in one of the many markets in the city. Every day she wakes up very early, takes a bus to go to the countryside outside the city, buys huge bags of vegetables from the local farmers, goes back to the city by bus and, after arranging her stall for the day, she is at the market until she sells almost all the vegetables. Unfortunately, nobody is waiting for her home now, her husband died a few years ago and her children live in another house. However, it’s a pleasure that every weekend they both gather at her house and she can cook for them and her 5 grandchildren.
Queso Humacha (vegetables and fresh cheese soup)
Time: 1 hour
- 8 big haba (green beans similar to fava beans)
- two tufts Huakataya (Bolivian herb similar to mint)
- 3 ears of white maize
- 12 small papa piño (red potatoes)
- 1 red onion
- 200 gr salted fresh cow cheese
- oil, salt, chilli powder
Queso Humacha is one of the most popular and traditional dishes in Bolivia. You can easily find it in any restaurant in La Paz and, even more, in the street restaurants near markets.
It is easy to make:
- First of all, boil the ears of white maize and the papa piño (without peeling them) in some water in two separate pots. Cook them for 40 minutes.
- In a casserole, fry half chopped onion with some oil on a low heat.
- Peel the haba beans and add them to the onions.
- After 10 minutes, add some chopped Huakataya and a pinch of chilli powder. Pour in a glass of hot water.
- Check on the cooking point o
Maria da Penha Vito Barbosa da Silva, 43 years old - Sao Paulo, Brazil
Although she is very young, Maria is already a grandmother! Indeed, only a few months ago her elder daughter has given birth to her first grandchild. Maria was born 43 years ago in the Brazilian countryside, but she has almost never lived there. She moved with her family to Sao Paulo, one of the biggest cities in the world, when she was 2. Her parents used to have a restaurant and that’s where she learnt how to cook. Her family business is not there anymore, but she still works in a kitchen, in one of the most popular restaurants in Villa Madalena, the youngest district of the city.
Pastel de carne
Time: 20 minutes (if you have already got some ready-to-use or defrosted puff pastry)
- tomatoes, onions, parsley and stoned green olives
- minced beef
- frozen puff pastry (or, even better, make some homemade pastry if you feel like doing it!!!)
Pastel is undoubtedly one of the most popular kinds of food in Brazil. You can buy it in restaurants, cafes, night pubs and many small street stalls or markets. Brazilians eat pastel for breakfast, as an afternoon snack and often also for lunch or dinner.
Its preparation is not very difficult:
- First of all, defrost the puff pastry at room temperature. It takes about 3 hours to defrost it completely.
- Chop an onion and some parsley. Dice some tomatoes. Cut the olives in small pieces.
- In a pan, fry the chopped onion with some oil. After 2 minutes, add the minced beef, the diced tomatoes, olives and parsley. Add some salt.
- When the meat is cooked, turn the gas off and let it cool for 5 minutes.
- Cut the puff pastry in squares (15 cm side length). Place two abundant spoons of cooked meat and vegetables in the centre of each square. Fold and press the sides together so it won’t open, like when you make panzerotti.
- Now deep-fry the pastel in very hot seed oil, until it gets golden and crispy.
- Drain it from th
Maria Luz Fedric, 53 years old – Cayman Islands
Maria was born 53 years ago on a small island in the Caribbean Sea of the Honduras. She started working in restaurants when she was still young. Her first experience was at the age of 12, when she used to serve fried chicken to the tables of a small café. When she was 16 she went to work in a fish restaurant and at 20 she decided to open her own business. “It was always crowded with people coming to eat, my restaurant was a great success!”, she says. When she turned 30 she met a man coming from the Cayman Islands. They fell in love and got married soon after, so she closed her restaurant and moved with him. She has been living in George Town, in the Cayman Islands, for 23 years now and has been a housewife, but sometimes helps as a dishwasher in an Italian restaurant. She has got two grown-up children and two young grandchildren, for whom she cooks one of the dishes of her place of origin at times: the Honduran iguana.
Honduran Iguana with rice and beans
Difficulty: low (high if you have to chase the iguana, indeed)
Time: about 2 hours
- 1 fresh iguana
- Garlic, thyme, celery, onion, a green pepper, hot chillies and sweet chillies
- 1 plantain to fry
- ½ kg rice
- a dish of pre-cooked red beans
- 2 litres coconut milk due
- seed oil
- Maggi products: mixed spices seasoning cubes, sauces, stock meat
1. The most difficult step in preparing this dish is obviously to catch a fresh iguana! If you succeed in that, the rest of the recipe will be rather easy!
2. First of all, the iguana has to be cleaned: cut the head; slit the iguana open down its belly, along its legs and tail and skin it completely pulling with energy.
3. Pull out all guts and wash it carefully in the water.
4. Cut the tail in 5cm pieces. Separate the legs from the body and chunk the rest in two pieces.
5. Place the chunks in a bowl with some water and 50% distilled vinegar and let them there for about 10 minutes. Wash again
Maria Del Carmen Pinzon, 58 years old – Bogotá, Colombia
Maria was born almost 60 years ago in Cali, Colombia, but when she was very young she moved to Bogotá with her family and has lived there ever since. Her family is quite large, she is the sixth of nine children. She got married at an early age, she was 16 and still attended school. One year later she gave birth to her first son, at 23 to the second one, at 30 to the third one and when she was 40 she had her last one, a daughter. Now she has even got 7 grandchildren! For a period of her life she worked as an assistant for the manager of a building firm, but, because of her husband’s jealousy of her boss, she decided to quit. She has never started working again and has devoted herself to the family. “I have never regretted my choice, even though at that time quitting was a difficult dcision to take. But then, as soon as I realised the time I would have gained to spend with my children, I understood that it had been the right thing”.
Coffee with panela
Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients for 4 cups of coffee:
- 50 gr panela (unrefined sugar cane)
- 50 gr Colombian coarse ground coffee
When I asked Maria to cook something typical from Colombia, she had no hesitation in answering: “a good coffee!”
Even if it is not properly a recipe and maybe it goes a bit offline my project, I thought: “why not? I only need a photo and a story to close my project…what else can I find better than a closure with a coffee!!”
So, here is how to prepare a good coffee in the Colombian style:
- Heat ½ litre of water.
- When it boils, put half a cube of panela (about 50 gr) in it and let it melt.
- When the panela is completely melted, pour two spoons full of coffee in the water and blend until the coffee becomes a smooth liquid, without lumps.
- Now you need to filter the coffee to take away the unmelt powder. You can use a percolator or even a piece of fabric to do it.
Enjoy your coffee. If i
Fifi Makhmer, 62 years old – Cairo, Egypt
Fifi was born in the desert, 4 hours to the south of Il Cairo, in a village along the river Nile. That’s where she spent the first 20 years of her life, until when she got married and, thanks to her husband, moved to the city. She lives with her husband and two of her three children in a small house in the Eastern outskirts of the capital city. Her eldest son got married two years ago and made her a grandmother. She has always been a housewife and cooked for the whole family. Her children say she is the best cook ever, while, instead, she says she doesn’t know much about cooking and can only prepare simple dishes.
Kuoshry (pasta, rice and legumes pie)
Time: 1 hour
- 1 onion, 2 tomatoes
- 1 dish of chickpeas, 1 of lentils and 1 of rice
- 1 packet of spaghetti and 1 of small macaroni
- oil, spices and salt
- tomato sauce
The first thing to do for the Kuoshry is breaking spaghetti in 2cm-long bits.
- Then, in a pot, boil a plate of rice, small macaroni and the bits of spaghetti. Let everything cook until the rice is ready (at that point the pasta should be very soft – overcooked for the Italian style – but that’s what you need for this recipe!)
- Boil also the chickpeas and lentils (in two separate small pots) until they are soft enough.
- While they are cooking, chop thinly 1 onion and fry it in hot olive oil until it becomes crispy. Drain it from the oil and keep it on a side to use it as a decoration for our dish at the end.
- When pasta and rice are ready and so are lentils and chickpeas, place everything together in a pan and mix, adding spices to your liking. Leave some chickpeas on a side for the final decoration.
- Now place the mixture into a ring-shaped pudding mould (it’s up to you if you prefer to use just one big mould or small ones for individual portions), pressing it well inside to make it compact. Then overturn it on a dish and take the mould away: what y
Bisrat Melake, 60 years old - Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Birsat was born 60 years ago in Dessie, a town in the north of Ethiopia. She lived there and attended the small school of her village until she was twenty. Then, she moved to Addis Ababa to go to university, but she never obtained a degree, since she got married and stopped studying before the end. From that moment on she has been a housewife and, even if rarely, also an assistant in her husband’s garage. Bisrat has got four sons, all of them grown-up, but only one grandchild. She hopes the number of her grandchildren will increase soon!
Enjera with churry and vegetables
Time: 3 days (if you need to prepare the enjera), less than 2 hours if the enjera is already ready
- 1 savoy (cabbage), 10 sweet green chillies and 25 string beans
- red chilli powder
- 4 onions
- oil, salt, pepper
- cauliflower leaves (costa variety)
- a plate of Mitin Shuro (yellow dried peas powder)
- a plate of split peas
- Teff flour (typical cereal from Ethiopia)
To prepare this dish you need to cook different ingredients separately. It is the product of various recipes. The Enjara, whose preparation takes 3 days, is the first thing to make:
- Mix 1 kilo of teff flour and 1 spoon of yeast with some water until you obtain a smooth and dense dough (like the one you would use to make bread).
- let it ferment for 3 days
- now the dough should be much softer than when you prepared it 3 days before. Add water until it becomes cream-like. Use it in the same way as when you make crepes. If you have the possibility to use an Ethiopian oven in ceramic (like the ones at her back in the photo), do use it!
Churry (in the centre of the photo):
- Stir fry 3 chopped onions and 10 chopped sweet chillies in some oil for a few minutes. Add 3 glasses of water and let it cook for about ten minutes. Then, add the split peas and the plate of Mitin Shuro. Mix well, cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for abo
Rosane Liborio, 54 years old - Florianopolis, Brazil
Rosane was born in Rio de Janeiro 54 years ago and grew up in Copacabana, living between school and the beach. One day, at the age of 22, she met a man on the sea front. “He was playing the guitar. I stopped to listen to him and we started to chat. We got married a few months later and we are still together. We moved on his boat, which was anchored in Porto Alegre. We lived on our floating boat for several years. Every summer we sailed to the Caribbean. It was wonderful. Then, about ten years later, I got pregnant and we decided to move on the mainland”. Rosane and her husband have lived in Florianopolis since that moment and they own a small clothes factory. Their son, who is now 23, lives in the USA, is married to an American woman who had already got a daughter and is waiting for the second child from him. So, Rosane will soon become a grandma!
Garlic prawns with rice and prawns pirao
Time: 1 hour
Ingredients for 4 people:
- about 60 prawns – already cleaned and washed
- manioc flour (a typical Brazilian tuber)
- garlic, 2 tufts of parsley, oil and salt
- half onion, 2 lemons and 6 tomatoes
- 500 gr rice
To prepare this typical dish from Rio de Janeiro you don’t need to be a master chef, its preparation is rather easy:
Preparation of the prawns Pirao:
Pirao is a sauce made from fish or prawns and manioc flour, often used to accompany other dishes.
- First of all, chop ¼ of an onion, a tuft of parsley and all the tomatoes and sauté them in some oil. While they are cooking, you should squash the tomatoes so as to obtain a smooth sauce. Let everything cook for 10 minutes and then add about 20 prawns (peeled and cut in two pieces), a glass of water and a pinch of salt.
- When the prawns are cooked, add two glasses full of manioc flour, pouring them a little at a time and stirring constantly (as you would do when preparing polenta). Cook for about 10 minutes, always stirring.
Natalie Bakradze, 60 years old – Tblisi, Georgia
Natalie was born 61 years ago in Tblisi, where she grew up and has spent all her life. She was a good student and got a degree in child psychology when she was 22. However, she has never practised because, at the age of 23, she got married and started her career as a housewife! Now, after 35 years of marriage, two children and two twin grandchildren, her two greatest passions are knitting and cooking. Everybody in the family wears sweaters and scarves that she knitted for them and everybody – included her daughter-in-law - says she is the best cook in town!
Khinkali (pork and beef dumplings)
Time: about 1 hour
Ingredients for 4 people:
- ½ kg flour
- 200 gr minced pork and 200 gr minced beef
- ½ onion and tuft of parsley
- salt, pepper, chilli powder
This recipe, which is very similar to the Chinese dumplings, is typical of the area surrounding Tblisi. It can almost be considered its official dish.
To prepare this dish you don’t have to be a master chef, but some precision and good manual skills can come handy!
- First of all you have to prepare the dough: stir together ½ kilo of flour and some water and work with your hands. Add the water in small doses, a bit at a time. The dough should become rather stiff and no salt is needed.
- Chop half onion and a turf of parsley (you can use a mixer considering the ingredients have to be chopped very thinly).
- At this point you can mix the minced beef and pork, adding the chopped onion and parsley, a pinch of chilli powder and a teaspoon of salt.
- Now roll the dough into a thin layer (about 1mm) and cut it in rounds with the diameter of 10-15cm.
- Place a large spoon of the filling made of the minced meats and spices in the centre of the rounds and fold the edges, pressing them with your fingers and then twisting the dough to seal it in a knob.
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the dumplings for about 20 minutes.
- Serve hot an
Doris Russel, 84 years old . Gut Asperschlag, Germany
Arme Ritter – the poor knight meal
Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients for 4 people
- ½ kilo fresh white bread without crust
- flour, sugar, milk and breadcrumbs
- 6 eggs
- a bit of white wine
This is one of the most popular desserts in the northwest regions of Germany:
Preparation of the fried bread:
- Slice the bread (about 1 cm thick) and cut the crust
- Whisk the eggs in a bowl and add half a litre of lukewarm milk. Mix also a full spoon of sugar (and a pinch of cinnamon, if you like it) into the mixture
- In another bowl, beat 2 eggs
- Put a mound of breadcrumbs on a plate.
- Then, take a bread slice, dip it well in the bowl with milk and eggs and leave it there for about 1 minute.
- When the slice has absorbed the liquid, let it drip and coat it first with the beaten eggs and then with the breadcrumbs. Turn the slice on both sides to coat it properly with the breadcrumbs.
- Fry with butter in a pan until golden brown.
Preparation of the cream:
- Blend half a litre of white wine with 2 beaten eggs, 2 spoons of flour and 2 spoons of sugar in a bowl. Put it on a low heat, bring it to boil and let it boil for a few minutes, until the cream becomes thicker.
Now you can place the two slices of fried bread on a dish, pour some cream on top of them and serve.
Tineke Reijndorp, 64 - The Hague, Holland. “I come from a warm, loving family. My father was a greengrocer, my mother full time housewife. I have two sisters and one brother. I started working right after school, at the age of sixteen. During my second job in sales in a large company in the petrochemical industry, I met my husband Guus. We married in 1975. In ’77 I became the proud mother of twins Olga and Paul. I then quit working all together and focused on raising my children. When the twins went to school I spent my time with the sewing machine. I refined my hobby to become a qualified tailor’s cutter. In 2011 Kees was born, our first grandchild. I have a new hobby now, photoshopping. Little Kees has already been shopped to Easter bunny, Santa Claus and Boeddha. My biggest hobby ever though is and will always be cooking. There’s no bigger gift than your good food being enjoyed by your loved ones.” These are the words that Tineke used to descrive herself when I met her at her house on a sunny but cold sutarday evening.She lives in a nice house made of 2 floors and close to the center of The Hauge together with her husband Guus. I spend almost the whole evening cooking with them and she gave me her secrets to make the best mousse of goat cheese:Mousse of goat’s cheese with sauce of strawberriesThis dessert isn’t typically Dutch, I actually found the recipe at our local liquor store once. Over time, I have personalized and perfected it. The combination of white chocolate and goat’s cheese sounded quite unusual to me, though exciting. I am now confident everyone loves it. To illustrate: my little sister ducked over the table to get my plate and finish that as well. The sauce of strawberries (mind you, also use the leaves as they add freshness to the taste!) is essential to balance the sweetness and very easy to make.IngredientsFor the mousseFresh, soft goat’s cheese 100 gr/3,3 oz/½ cupWhite chocolate 125 gr/4 oz/½ cupVanilla sugar 2-3
Valagerdur òlafsdòttir, 63 years old – Reykjavík, Iceland
Kjotsùpa (lamb and vegetables soup)
Time: about 2 hours
- 4 large lamb ribs
- 3 turnip (Icelandic typical root)
- 5 potatoes, 4 carrots, 4 onions, half savoy (cabbage)
- rice and salt
The majority of Icelandic typical dishes are based on soups, but without any doubt the most popular one is the lamb soup. It isn’t very difficult to prepare:
- First of all, place the 4 lamb ribs in a pot with some slightly salted water and bring everything to boil. After a few minutes, you will see that the fat of the meat is floating on the water, creating a thick layer. Throw it away using a spoon. Repeat the same action every 2-3 minutes since the meat will continue to lose its fat for the first 30 minutes of cooking.
- 30 minutes after the start of boiling, add the vegetables to the soup, all of them thinly chopped except for the turnip and potatoes, which should be in big pieces or even uncut if they are small.
- Let everything cook for about one hour and then add the rice.
- Cook for 30 minutes more.
- Enjoy the soup!!!
You can add other spices, such as some chilli powder, during the cooking to suit your taste. But be aware that the original soup is without spices!
There are two ways to serve it:
1. Separate the meat, turnip and potatoes from the soup and serve them in two different plates (as it is shown in the photo)
2. Take the meat out of the soup and chop it on a dish. Then, take the potatoes and turnip and cut them in small pieces. Finally put everything back in the soup and serve it.
Hiroko Horie, 66 years old – Tokyo, JapanHiroko was born on the island of Kyushu, in the south of Japan, in the small town of Misaki to be more specific. She spent there the first five years of her life, in a wonderful house whose look reminds of an ancient Japan. “The house where I was born and grew up is still there and looks as beautiful as it was at the time. My family donated it to the government after we moved to Tokyo and it is now part of the national heritage. Many tourists visit the house and we are really proud of it. My only regret is that we can’t go back to live there”, Hiroko tells me about her life. I met her in Tokyo, in her new house. A house, which is not traditional at all, but on the other hand, has got a large and well-supplied kitchen. In fact Hiroko often cooks and she does it so well that she has been a star in Japanese TV cooking shows where she teaches to cook since the age of 30. “I have been working for Channel4 for many years. Almost every day I cook live and teach my audience how to make quick and tasty recipes. However, when at home, I don’t just stick to quick and tasty things, but I cook the most delicious dishes I know for my children and grandchildren!” Chirashizushi or scattered sushiDifficulty: mediumTime: 1 hour (5 hours if you need to soak the dried mushrooms in water)Ingredients for 6 people:- 450 gr rice- 2 fried or sauté slices of tofu- 1 root of burdock - 3 big dried mushrooms - “shitake”- ½ carrot- 3 eggs- 1 leaf of Japanese seaweed - 4 fuki (Japanese herb)- salt, sugar, sesame, sweet-and-sour ginger - soya sauce, rice vinegar, sakePreparation:1- Soak the dried mushrooms in some water for 5 hours.2- Wash the rice well and put it in a rice cooker (everybody has got a rice cooker in Japan) with 600 ml of water, two spoons of salt and a leaf of Japanese seaweeds on top of the rest. Let it cook for about half an hour. Switch off the cooker when the rice is still al dente.3- Clean well the burdock root and
Normita Sambu Arap, 65 years old – Oltepessi (masaai mara) Kenya
Normita lives in a hut made of mud and straws in a masaai village in the south of Kenya. Her kitchen is nothing else than a small cooking area on the ground made of four stones and a metal grill placed on top. Every morning she lights a fire and keeps it on all day long. In her village there are 250 people and more than 500 animals among cows, goats and dogs. She is the chief of the village’s ninth wife and also the oldest woman. She has spent there all her life. Cooking, collecting water from the river and gathering wood for the fire have always been her jobs. She has got 19 grown-up children and more than 40 grandchildren. They all live in the same village.
Mboga and orgali (white corn polenta with vegetables and goat)
Time: about 1 hour
- Goat meat and a leg of goat
- 50 gr cow’s fat
- two tomatoes
- 500 gr white corn flour
- a plate of sukuma (a vegetable similar to spinach)
Orgali (which is a sort of white corn polenta) is one of the most popular kind of food in Africa. In particular, in this area of Kenya, it is part of the everyday meal and it is at the base of almost any recipe. It is always eaten together with something else: meat, vegetables, fish and so on…
The first thing to prepare for our recipe is the orgali:
Bring to boil a bit less than a litre of water with some salt. When it boils, add 500 gr of white corn flour, pouring them in the pot a bit at a time and stirring continuously until you obtain a dense mixture. Cook for about 10 minutes, turn the gas off and then let it cool.
Now you need to prepare meat and vegetables:
- Chunk the goat meat into small pieces (about 3cm). Take the skin off the leg of the goat and strip the flesh from it. Put the meat in some water with salt.
- Melt the cow’s fat in a saucepan and when it starts to fry, add two tomatoes chopped in cubes.
- As soon as the tomatoes go mushy and create a sauce, add the chunk
Cettina Bugeja, 53 years old – La Valletta, Malta
Cettina has got distant Italian origins, but she was born and grew up in Malta. She has lived all her life in La Valletta, but has often wished she could go back to Italy in search of her roots and, maybe, move there. “I really love living here, but you can sometimes feel yourself a bit isolated in Malta. The island is beautiful, but small”, she explains when telling me about her life. However, Cettina has been in Italy only for some holidays and has never remained to live there. She has now been married for 30 years and is a housewife. She has got two children and three grandchildren and she cooks for them almost every day.
Cosksu with vegetables and ricotta cheese
Time: less than 1 hour
- 1 onion, 2 potatoes, garlic
- tomato purée
- olive oil, salt, pepper
- 200 gr ricotta cheese
- 400 gr pasta Cosksu
- a dish of fava beans (about 300 gr)
The preparation of the Cosksu with vegetables is very simple:
- first of all, chop the onion and two cloves of garlic and fry them on a low heat in a saucepan with two spoons of oil
- add a pinch of salt and one of pepper
- when the onion and garlic start to brown, add two spoons full of tomato purée
- 3 minutes later you can add the fava beans
- chop the potatoes in small pieces and add them too
- let everything cook for about 5 minutes and then pour in two full glasses of hot water and cover with a lid
- after 5 more minutes add 200 gr of ricotta cheese in crumbles
- cook for 10 minutes and then add the pasta Cosksu
- it takes 10 more minutes to complete the cooking. Turn off the gas, let it rest for 3 minutes and serve
This dish is usually served as a soup and accompanied by white wine.
Some people love the soup with the addition of a fried egg on top… fancy trying that?
Synnove Rasmussen, 77 years old – Bergen, Norway
Kjottsuppe (Icelandic bull meat and vegetables soup)
Synnove is nearly 80 but she has the energy of a twenty-year-old youth. She lives on her own in a nice flat in the centre of Bergen. Every morning, with cold weather or not, she has a nice one-hour walk at least. She keeps fit, travels with some friends or even by herself twice a year. When she is at home, she paints, plays the piano or cooks. “I have always enjoyed life, I used to do a job I loved and I was married to a wonderful man. Unfortunately he is not here anymore, but with him I had a son who made us grandparents. I’m sorry he lives in Oslo and I can’t see him so often. However, when in summer my son comes to visit me and leaves here my grandchild for a few days with me, I am the happiest grandma in the world”.
Time: 2 hours
Ingredients for 4 portions:
- 1 kg bull meat (back and belly)
- 3 carrots, 3 potatoes, 1 leek
- 1 savoy (cabbage)
- 1 tuft of parsley
- salt, pepper, oil
- 1 rutabaga (Swedish turnip)
Preparation of the soup:
- First of all, boil the bull meat in salted water for about 2 hours!
- In another pot, boil 3 peeled potatoes, carrots and the savoy (cut in thin stripes). Turn the gas off 10 minutes before the perfect cooking point and drain them.
- 10 minutes before the two-hour-cooking of the meat, add the vegetables in the pot. Chop the leek thinly and add it to the soup. At that moment, drain half of the meat and the potatoes.
- After 5 minutes, add a chopped tuft of parsley to the soup.
- Cut the meat you have previously drained from the soup in pieces of about 5 cm and wipe them with a cloth or some blotting paper.
- Heat a non-stick pan and melt two knobs of butter in it.
- When the butter starts to fry, add the pieces of meat and cook them for about 6 minutes (3 minutes on each side). Salt and pepper to your liking.
Now you can serve the dish: arrange the fried pieces of meat on a dish with the potat
Itala Revello Rosas, 77 years old - Lima, Peru
Itala’s house is cosy, spacious and well arranged. The walls of the living room are covered with glass cabinets full of various dishes, glasses and crockery. Looking at them you get the impression that Itala often cooks for a large number of people. Instead, 99% of the times she only cooks for her husband and herself because, unfortunately, – as she points out – their grown-up children and grandchildren live far way. Itala was born and grew up in the mountains in Peru, but since when she got married she has lived in the south of Lima. She has never worked in a different place from at home, as a housewife, has got 2 children and 3 grandchildren.
Corvina fish ceviche
Time: about 1 hour
Ingredients for 2 people:
- 250 gr fresh corvine fish fillet
- 1 ear of choclo corn (soft white maize)
- 1 onion, 5 lemons, 2 tufts of cilantro, 1 hot chilli
- 1 camote (sweet yellow potato)
- some lettuce leaves
- salt and pepper
Ceviche (fresh raw fish marinated) is a popular dish in the whole Latin America, but the one I had the chance to taste in Peru, cooked by Itala, was undoubtedly the best I have ever tasted.
Here is how to make it:
- the first thing to do is to cook the camote and the ear of choclo corn, because it takes longer to prepare these two ingredients. So, boil them in some water for about 40 minutes. However, before turning off the gas, check on their cooking point and see if they need to boil for a few more minutes.
In the meanwhile:
- Cut the corvine fish fillet (previously cleaned and washed) in pieces of about 2 cm
- Chop the onion very thinly (you’ll need it to garnish the dish)
- Squeeze 5 lemons and filter to take away the stones
- Chop a tuft of cilantro and slice the hot chilli very thinly (as you can see in the photo)
- Place the pieces of fish fillet on a pie-dish and pour on top of them the lemon juice, in a homogeneous way. Salt and pep
Ewa Tadel, Age 63, Bydgoszcz, PolandEwa is a grandmother of 3 lively grandsons and one granddaughter Two of them (on the pictures on the sideboard) live in UK in a village near Bath. She misses them a lot and often talks to the photographs.For last 35 years she lived in the same house with a small kitchen where she spends most of her days producing food. The breakfast is always big, for lunch she makes several dishes: one for her husband, one for her grandson Olek aged 10 who comes in nearly everyday after school and one for her busy working daughter Dorota. In the evening very often friends just pop in and there is always enough food for everybody.Every year, before Christmas and Easter Ewa opens her catering business. She takes orders for traditional festive food. The whole house smells then of pates, fried fish and cakes.She with her husband of 40 years deliver locally the food to satisfied clients.An old Polish proverb says “Guest coming into your house - God coming into your house.” In Ewa’s house everyone is always welcome and you can be sure that you will be fed.I spent almost the all day at Ewa’s house and together with her i cooked for the whole morning.She gave me some good recipes and the best one is for sure this one!
Gołąbki z ryżem i mięsem (Cabbage with rice and meat)Time: about 2 hoursDifficulty: mediumIngredients for 6-8 people:- 1 whole cabbage- 1 kilo minced pork- ½ kilo rice- 1 egg- 1 onion and 8 potatoes- 1 jar of tomato purée- 75 gr butter- a sprig of dill and a leaf of laurel- salt, peppercorn, flour, oil and spices to your liking Preparation:1- First of all, strip the leaves from the cabbage.2- Boil some water with half kilo of rice.3- In a large pot, bring to boil about 4 litres of water with a teaspoon of salt. When the water boils, put in the cabbage leaves one by one and cook them for 2 minutes. Then, drain them. 4- Chop and fry slowly the onion with some oil in a pan, on a medium heat.5- Mix the minced pork and the alread
Natàlija Kaze, 65 years old – Riga, Latvia
Natàlia was born in Riga 65 years ago. She grew up amongst her father’s science books and got a degree in theoretical physics. She collaborated for most of her life with several inventors and registered some patents on her name. Then, after the fall of the Soviet Union, when science in Latvia was not necessary anymore, she started teaching foreign languages, mainly English. She got married twice, at the age of 20 and, later, at 33. She has got a daughter and a son, two grandchildren and a great-grandchild!
Abolu Pirags (sweet pizza with apples and chocolate)
Time: about one hour
- 100gr margarine
- 400gr flour for pumcakes
- 2 eggs
- a jar of sour cream for cakes
- sugar and milk
- 1 lemon, 8-9 apples
- a bar of dark chocolate
Natàlija’s sweet pizza is her own speciality and the recipe is unknown to the rest of her country (or at least that’s what she says!)
It isn’t difficult to prepare:
- First of all, melt 100gr of margarine. Then, add the sour cream, two eggs, two spoons full of sugar and 400 gr of flour and blend everything together so as to obtain a homogeneous mix.
- Pour in the juice of half a lemon and work the dough with your hands.
- Slice the apples very thinly, but without peeling them.
- Use the margarine to grease a large rectangular baking tin and dust it with flour.
- Roll out the dough in a round of the diameter of about 30 cm and slightly more than 1 cm thick.
- Cover the dough with layers of the sliced apples and turn upwards the edges to contain them.
- In a small saucepan, mix 5 spoons of sugar, two of flour and a glass full of milk in order to obtain a sort of cream. Pour it on top of the apples.
- Then grate some dark chocolate on it.
- Dip your fingers in the milk and damp the edge of the pizza.
- Put it in the oven at 180° for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, check it: if it is not well baked leave it there for 5 more minu
Ivonete Tortoretti Correa, 64 years old - Sao Paulo, Brazil
Ivonette was born 64 years ago in San Paolo, in the Mooca quarter to be precise, the Italian district, and she spent there the first 20 years of her life. She grew up walking on her points, amongst pirouettes and pliés. Between her tens and twenties she would always wear her tutu and chalk ballet shoes. Ivonete was a ballet dancer, a great classic ballet dancer. She used to dance in the main theatre in Sao Paulo and it became her job. Then, when she turned 22, she madly fell in love with a man, married him and they had children soon after. Since that moment she has decided to stop dancing and devoted herself to family. “Everybody asks me if I have ever regretted this choice, but I am always keen in answering: no, I have never regretted it! Being able to follow my children first and my grandchildren later has been the best ballet I could have seen”.
Rice, Farofa, beans and meat (“todos dia” food – every day food)
Time: about 1 hour
Ingredients for 4 people:
- 500gr beef
- 300gr rice
- 200gr manioc flour
- 400gr Brazilian beans
- 1 onion, 2 bananas, garlic, 1 tomato, 1 lemon
- 4 bay leaves and 2 hot chillies
- salt, oil, parsley
The recipe you are going to prepare is one of the most typical and common dishes of Brazil, and indeed it is called usually “comida de todos dia” (everyday food):
Preparation of the beans:
- The first thing to do is wash the beans and cook them in a pressure cooker for 35 minutes – in some salted water – with 4 bay leaves.
- Then, in a pan, fry some garlic and a large quantity of thinly chopped onion with 3 spoons of oil. When the onion becomes brownish, add the beans with just a bit of the water they have cooked in.
Preparation of the rice:
- In a pan, fry abundant chopped garlic with 2 spoons of oil.
- When the garlic starts to be golden, add the rice to the oil and cook it on a low heat
- Then, add some hot water, bit by bit (as if you
Carmina Fernandez, 73 years old – Madrid
Asadura de cordero lecca con arroz (milk-fed lamb offal with rice)
Time: about one hour
- heart, liver and lungs of a milk-fed lamb
- a red and a green pepper
- one onion, one tomato, garlic
- oil, salt, paprika
- a glass of white wine
Maybe the ingredients for its recipe could even scare or touch someone’s sensitivity, but this typical dish from Madrid and its surrounding area will come as a surprise to you.
It isn’t difficult to prepare:
- The first step is to chop half onion, half green pepper, half red pepper, half tomato in pieces of about 2cm. In a pan, sauté all the ingredients with a coffee-cup of oil.
- Then chop heart, lungs and liver of a lamb in pieces of about 3cm and add everything to the vegetables – which have already been frying for about 10 minutes.
- 5 minutes after that the meat has been added to the cooking, pour in half a glass of white wine. Salt to your taste, add a spoon of paprika and let it cook with a lid on for other 10/15 minutes.
- Now add a coffee-cup full of rice and two of water for each person.
- Bring to boil and let it cook (just like you would do for an Italian risotto) until the rice is ready. If you need it for the rice, you can add some more hot water.
- Two minutes before completing the cooking, crush a clove of garlic in a mortar and put it in the pan.
- Stir everything, turn off the gas and let it rest for two minutes. Then, serve it!
Miraji Mussa Kheir, 56 years old – Bububu, Zanzibar
Miraji was born and grew up in Zanzibar and she has never left the island. She lives in the northern suburb of the capital city, Stone Town, in a small house that she shares with her husband and two of her three daughters. She has only one grandchild, the son of her first-born daughter. Every day after school he spends some time with her, helping her with the dinner for the family.
Wali, mchuzina mbogamboga (rice, fish and vegetables in green mango sauce)
Time: about 1 hour
Ingredients for 4 people:
- one barracuda of 1,5kg ( or another kind of fish)
- 4 green mangoes, 4 tomatoes, 2 aubergines, 1 red chilli, ginger and two bunches of spinach
- seed oil, salt, pepper, curry and masala
- a dish of rice
The barracuda is one of the most popular catches in Zanzibar, but it is not fundamental for this recipe, you might want to use any other kind of fish. Let’s see how to prepare it:
First of all, scale the fish and cut it in chunks of about 10 cm length. With a knife, make some cuts on the side of the fish and salt them inside. Chop a piece of ginger and put it inside and outside the fish.
Heat two spoons of oil in a pan and fry the fish for 10 minutes on each side. Drain it from the oil.
If you have the rice cooking machine, you can use it, otherwise boil the rice in some water.
Wash two bunches of spinach and cut them in stripes. Boil everything in some water for ten minutes and drain.
Wash the tomatoes, aubergines and green mangoes and dice them. Heat two spoons of oil in a pan and when it is hot enough add, first, the tomatoes and, 5 minutes later, the aubergines. At this point, add a teaspoon of curry, one of masala and two pinches of salt. Let it cook for 5 more minutes and then add the mangoes. Wait for 5 more minutes and add the boiled spinach. Stir the mixture and pour a glass of water. When the water starts to boil, let it cook for other 10 minutes.
Now, the dish is ready to be ser
Saint-Jean du Sud, Haiti -Serette Charles, 63 years old
Mrs. Serette Charles has 10 sons and daughters (all of them alive, which, in Haiti, unfortunately is not so common) and 15 grandchildren. She lives in the countryside near Saint-Jean du Sud, in the southern area of Haiti, not far from the sea. Getting to her house involves a one-hour unsurfaced drive in a four wheel drive from Les Cayes (the second biggest city in Haiti), followed by a 50- minute walk. Her house, which is really a hut, is in the middle of the forest near other families; all together they form a little village. She has neither electricity nor running water at home, but fortunately there is a nice river that runs very close to the house that she uses. She cooks with the coal that she makes and loves making lambi, a Haitian type of conch, but, of course, someone has to fish it for her, usually one of her nephews.