Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chinese Fortune Cookies from San Francisco for their New Year

I held my breath as the car climbed a 40 degree street. When we precariously reached the top of it, I could see the city below, and could only anticipate what it would feel like to go down.
 Suddenly the vehicle was released much like a pinball, and it sped down the street like a roller coaster car. And the slow climb began once more, to take it once again. We searched for similar streets, and found and explored most of them.
The next vehicle we would take would be a boat--straight to an island that most people that visited it in the past dreaded going to--Alcatraz. If it hadn't been for the prison cells, the lovely view of San Francisco, the seagulls, and the boat ride would have made it feel like a pleasant seaside day trip, without the extra dose of excitement that prison cell stories gave it.

 Other pleasant visits in San Francisco are the Presidio and Golden Gate Parks, which have many beautiful views to explore, from Chinese or Japanese Gardens to ocean views of the Golden Gate.


One of the most credible stories about where fortune cookies were created claims that San Francisco was their birthplace.  They were gourmet treats called fortune tea cakes until a fortune cookie machine was created, and they were able to be mass produced.
Originally, Japanese Americans brought the idea to the United States of a similar confection in Japan. Chinese Americans later produced them, and it became a Chinese American tradition.

The instructions are quite clear, except I would add that it is better to make the cookies one at a time and/or on a griddle, as it is quite tricky to fold them! It is necessary to form them when they are very hot, before they are too brittle to be shaped.
The most fun part of making the cookies is typing up the fortunes--you get to choose your favorite ones, add lucky numbers, print and cut them out, and finally insert them in your concoctions!


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Curdled Milk Candy from Ahuachapan, El Salvador

"La Asuncion" Church
The annual festivities in Ahuachapan take place on the second week of February, and are called the "Sweet Name of Jesus". Ahuachapan was originally founded in the 500's by the Pokomame Indians, but was not declared a city by the Spaniards until 1869.

Tower in Plaza Concordia


The curdled milk candy you can find in El Salvador is only made in the department of Ahuachapan; there it is known as "Dulce de Bodoque".  It was probably brought to El Salvador by the Spaniards in the colonial period, around the 1600's, as similar versions are also made in Guatemala, Peru, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic.

Recipe (from Comida Tipica, by Vilma G. de Escobar)
6 eggs
1 liter of milk
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cylinder of solid brown cane sugar (panela), grated
2 tablespoons of lime juice
grated zest of 1 lime
3 cinnamon sticks
Panela, hard brown sugar
 Place all ingredients, except for the cinnamon sticks in a blender and mix well. Pour into a wide and tall pot, and bring to a boil. Do not move the liquid. Let it simmer for about an hour. By this time, you can move it a little bit if you need to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
 Usually it doesn't burn, but once in a while a few pieces might. When most of the liquid has disappeared, the candy will be ready, and its consistency will have become stickier and more solid.
Dulce de Bodoque next to coffee beans and ground coffee


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Stroopwaffels in Amsterdam for Candlemas

Someone moved the bookshelf, which opened like a door, revealing more rooms inside. I stepped in a genuine secret chamber for the first time--before, I had only read about them or played pretend. Here, the austere quarters of a young girl and her family took me to the 1940's, when Amsterdam was occupied by Nazis. I was in Anne Frank's house.
That was not the only time travelling I did in this city. I was able to mix colorful powdered earth for paints in Rembrandt's home from the 1600's, and to witness more than one of Van Gogh's 19th century sunflower paintings in his museum.
Outside the royal palace, amid festive carrousels and other rides, at Dam Square, I enjoyed patats (french fries) with mayonnaise, and slices of gouda at a bakery. Cheese is not the only invention the town of Gouda left us. Stroopwaffels were also made there for the first time.
These cookies were invented in Gouda in 1784. Its creator, Gerard Kamphuisen, put crumbs and spices together into a waffle, and them spread it with syrup. It became known as the poor man's cookie, because it was made out of leftovers.

-Cooked pizelles;find recipe at

My Molasses Filling Recipe
1 cup brown sugar
8 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Cook brown sugar, 6 tablespoons of butter, molasses, corn syrup, and cinnamon until the mixture reaches 240 degrees. Remove from heat, then add 2 tablespoons of butter.

Take a pizelle and spread 2 tablespoons of molasses filling on top of it, then stick another pizelle onto the filling. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter, preferably a comfort grip cutter. Cut through the sandwich cookie and remove excess.
If you place the cookie on top of a cup of coffee, the vapor should warm it.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mauritian Banana Tart for February 1st

When I was in tenth grade, I had to complete a social studies project on an island I had never heard of before--Mauritius. Light green palm trees leaves graced the pamphlet I would later receive by mail. Because there was no internet at the time, that would be all the extra information I would get, other than short accounts in encyclopedias at the library.
Now, however, thanks to the internet, anyone can find travel packages and tourist attractions galore. (See )  Mauritius is more than a few palm trees; this is proven by the fact that it won a Travelers' Choice Award for 2012. It has tea plantations, French chateaus, colonial houses, safaris to see zebras/lions/cheetahs/tigers, giant tortoises, rum breweries, salt basins, and a sugar museum.
The following video shows waterlilies that are larger than baseball bases, pencil thin waterfalls on steep cliffs, as well as mountains that look like Mexican hats or brown goblins:
But now let's get to the recipe section. I found and made a wholesome tart that is mostly freshly cooked fruit.

Festivities in Mauritius
Mauritians hold the spiritual Cavadee Festival at the end of January and the beginning of February. The indians of Tamil origin place needles in their body and carry an ark on their back.
On February 1st, the abolition of slavery that took place in 1835 is conmemorated every year. The Dutch first took people from Madagascar and the East Indies to develop the island, during the 17th and 18th century.

Recipe from
2 cups flour
175 g butter
2 cups banana puree
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the crust, mix all the ingredients for it together and roll into a ball. Roll out the dough and cut into one-inch strips.

I painstakingly placed the strips on one by one. However, now I purchased a nordicware mini pie pan that allows you to cut the lattice all at once!