Thursday, November 19, 2009

North America - Three Sisters Soup

The Three Sisters - A Native American Legend

A long time ago there were three sisters who lived together in a field.These sisters were quite different from one another in their size and way of dressing. The little sister was so young that she could only crawl at first, and she was dressed in green.

The second sister wore a bright yellow dress, and she had a way of running off by herself when the sun shone and the soft wind blew in her face.

The third was the eldest sister, standing always very straight and tall above the other sisters and trying to protect them. She wore a pale green shawl, and she had long, yellow hair that tossed about her head in the breeze.

There was one way the sisters were all alike, though. They loved each other dearly, and they always stayed together. This made them very strong.
One day a stranger came to the field of the Three Sisters - a Mohawk boy. He talked to the birds and other animals - this caught the attention of the three sisters.
Late that summer, the youngest and smallest sister disappeared. Her sisters were sad.
Again the Mohawk boy came to the field to gather reeds at the water's edge. The two sisters who were left watched his moccasin trail, and that night the second sister - the one in the yellow dress - disappeared as well.
Now the Elder Sister was the only one left.
She continued to stand tall in her field. When the Mohawk boy saw that she missed her sisters, he brought them all back together and they became stronger together, again.

                        Three Sisters Soup

                                                     (Serves about 4 as a main dish)

1 acorn and/or butternut squash, cut into wedges, drizzled w/ olive oil, sprinkled with salt and roasted (325*, 30 minutes)
1 onion, diced
2 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
a couple garlic cloves, minced
5 slices bacon, cut into small pieces and sauteed until crispy
1 to 2 C. frozen or fresh corn, roasted in dry saute pan until slightly brown
1 30 oz. can pinto beans
4-5 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth
1 tsp each: dried ginger, allspice, sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
2-3 Tbs. chopped fresh herbs (thyme, sage,parsley, or cilantro would be great)
salt and pepper to taste
While you are roasting the acorn squash wedges in the oven,  begin sauteing onions in an oiled pan over medium low heat.  Stir occasionally, until slightly brown, then stir in garlic and fresh ginger.  

Cook for one more minute, then add stock, beans, roasted corn and bacon.  Increase heat and simmer while you finish the squash.
When the squash is tender, and then cool enough to handle, cut the skin off  and cube squash into bites-size pieces.  Add to the pot and let the flavors  marry as it comes to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and add herbs and spices.  Let simmer for at least 20 minutes.

For instructions on growing your own three sisters garden click  here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Greek - Loukoumades


Greek Honey Puffs, or Honey Tokens

     Two thousand seven hundred and eighty four years ago, in 776 B.C., the ancient Olympic Games were born.

     Victors were awarded a wreath fashioned from a small branch taken from a wild olive tree that stood in Zeus’ sacred grove at Olympia. The wreath is an unmistakable symbol of the importance of the olive and its cultivation to the Greeks, both past and present. Olive oil is a fundamental ingredient in Greek cooking and has been so from the most ancient times.

     The poet Callimachus tells us that one of the earliest prizes awarded to the winners were what is commonly translated as “honey tokens” , which were essentially fried balls of dough covered in honey. These were offered to the victorious athletes in a highly ritualized ceremony along with the kotinos wreath. Callimachus’ reference to these “honey tokens” is the earliest mention of any kind of pastry in European literature. Today, the “honey tokens” of Callimachus are known as Loukoumades (pronounced ‘loo-koo-MAH-thess) and can be found throughout Greece in special pastry shops that serve only Loukoumades.

Here is the recipe we followed today in class:

1 1/2 Tbsp yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
3 cups lukewarm milk
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 Tbsp vanilla
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt

2 cups honey
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sugar

In a mixing bowl, mix the yeast and sugar with the warm milk.  Let rest for 5 minutes, then add the egg and vanilla,  flour and salt.   Mix until the batter is thick but smooth.   Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot to rise for about an hour. (don't stir again or it will deflate.) The result should be a bubbly batter.

In a deep fryer or a large heavy pot, heat four inches of oil to 375º F, making sure there are at least 2 inches between the oil surface and the top of the pot. This should take about 20 minutes.
While the oil is heating, prepare the syrup by warming the honey in a small pot over low heat (or in the microwave for a quick minute, then add the lemon juice.

Working in batches, slide dollops of the batter (about the size of a heaping tablespoonful each) into the hot oil at a time, making sure not to crowd the pan. The dollops will puff up and float to the top. Turn the puffs occasionally with a slotted spoon until they are a deep golden brown on all sides and very crisp, about 2-4 minutes total. Remove carefully and drain on paper towels or brown paper bags.

Drizzle with honey lemon syrup and dust the puffs generously with cinnamon-sugar.
Enjoy while warm, as they do not keep well.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Greek - Spanakopita


  • 3 lb frozen, chopped spinach 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt (1 tsp table salt)
  • 6 tbsp pine nuts
  • 3 tbsp fresh mint
  • 4 tbsp fresh dill
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups feta cheese

Before you start the spanakopita, be sure your phyllo is defrosted and the spinach is well drained.
Then preheat your oven to 350° degrees Fahrenheit.
Dice the onions, heat a fry pan over medium heat, add the oil and sauté the onions until slightly browned. While the onions cook, toast the pine nuts over low heat. Then roughly chop and set aside. Next, finely chop the mint and dill. When the onions are done, turn off the heat and add the spinach, chopped herbs, pine nuts, pepper, and nutmeg. Mix everything together, transfer to a bowl and let cool slightly. Add the eggs and mix until evenly combined. Lastly, break up the feta and fold into the spinach mix.

  • 1 package phyllo dough, defrosted
  • 3/4 cup clarified butter

To assemble the spanakopita, place a sheet of phyllo onto a cutting board, and brush with the melted butter. Cover with a second sheet of phyllo, brush with butter and cut into 3 strips.

Portion some of spinach mixture onto each end of phyllo and fold into a triangle. Place onto a baking tray and brush with a little extra butter.
Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Once done, remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.
Serve warm with homemade tzatziki sauce (see below for recipe).

Note:  Spanakopita can also be made a few hours ahead, or frozen raw for baking later. There is no need to defrost them before baking, but keep in mind, the baking time will be a bit longer.


  • 1 cup cucumber (1/2 cucumber)
  • 2 cups plain thick yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 tbsp chopped scallions
  • 3 tbsp dill
  • 3 tbsp mint

Start by chopping scallions, garlic and fresh herbs. Peel cucumber and remove the seeds, then chop.  Add all ingredients into yogurt along with salt and pepper. Fold everything together.

Check out this link to a video with 
 step-by-step instructions for making