Spring is in the air

 

 

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Spring is in the air. If you are thinking about taking the family camping during spring break, how about putting fajitas on the menu? They are a great communal meal. Everyone has fun making their own and rolling them up. And then there are toppings to add. Even if you are pitching a tent in the living room or just enjoying a family dinner at home, this Tex-Mex classic is a great mealtime choice.

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Ajvar

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Ajar is a  delicious Balkan red pepper and eggplant spread. It’s really simple to make, too.  Vine Vukicevic, my Pilates coach, introduced me to ajvar.  She is from Bosnia and tells me that no house in the former Yugoslavia is ever without this tasty spread.  She always looked forward to arriving home after school and enjoying it as a snack, spread on bread and sprinkled with crumbled feta cheese. Once I learned to make ajar, it quickly became a popular appetizer at my house – I spread goat cheese over toast triangles or crackers and top them with a good dollop of this instant, positively ambrosial treat. 

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Cape Verde Sausage Stew (Cachupa)

Cape Verde is a collection of islands off the west coast of Africa, and cachupa is their national dish. There are many different versions, but most are based on some kind of pork or perhaps freshly caught fish, although vegetables may be substituted. Since Cape Verde was a Portuguese colony, this rendition contains chorizo. Because sausage is relatively pricy, the result is probably deserving of the description cachupa rica, which means it was prepared when the family was feeling prosperous.

 

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Original San Antonio Chili

If you are looking for the ground beef chili your mother made for Friday night dinner, this isn’t it. If instead you want to taste what amounts to a fabulous, highly spiced beef stew, then I highly recommend this chili. Leftovers reheat well.

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Ginger Tea

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My favourite afternoon pick-me-up is a cup of hot ginger tea. I shred ginger root on the coarse holes of a box grater, add it to boiling water, stir well and let it steep for a minute or two. Then I strain it into a mug and stir in honey to taste. Delicious and good for me, too. Ginger is highly anti-inflammatory and an excellent digestive.

Parsnip Soup Shooters

How’s this for cold-weather hospitality? If you are entertaining on a chilly night, start the evening with a welcoming shooter of hot soup. I serve this parsnip soup in espresso or demi-tasse coffee cups before a glass of wine. It makes about 16 shooters.

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Parmesan Crackers


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I’m hosting book club tonight and spent the morning making a variety of nibbles – including these delicious parmesan crackers. They are shortbread like with butter, parmesan and cayenne dissolving in a creamy umami bite. They’re really delicious with a glass of red wine…

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Chile-Spiked Chocolate Pots

This is an updated version of classic French pots de crème. You won’t taste the chile, but it adds appealing depth to the flavor of the chocolate. Served with a big dollop of sweetened whipped cream, this dessert is a welcome indulgence.

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