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Thursday, January 31

Appliance Meltdown

We’ve had appliance issues recently. Our heater died, a slow painful death. Initially, the water in the kitchen sink wasn’t heating; at the hottest setting, the water was cold. Then the bathroom sinks. And then finally the shower. As the temperature dropped outside, it was intolerable without a functioning heater.

When the hot water in the shower ran cold water, we contacted the heater company listed on the heater. The company came for an inspection and stated the obvious; the heater was at the end of its life and would not function. They suggested a replacement. Since the heater came with the apartment (one of the very few things), we contacted the person that helped us get our apartment. This person isn’t our landlord nor is he a hausmeister (apartment manager) but he has been the point of contact for us (probably because) he speaks good English. He dutifully noted he’d check with the landlord and call us back. Day 2, 3, 4, 5 passed and we hadn’t heard back. The husband called him again to inquire on the status and he said he had not been able to reach the landlord so we’d have to wait. On day 8, the husband contacted again and asked for the landlord’s number so we could contact him ourselves. He didn’t get the number but instead was told he would keep trying. Finally on day 11 I called to inquire on the status and testified it isn’t entertaining to shower in cold water. I even asked if he’d tried it and he laughed. On day 13, we received a call from the heating company for an appointment on the upcoming Tuesday.

Two men arrived on Tuesday at 8:30am and spent 3 hours identifying the problem. Around noon, they recognized accepted the heater couldn’t be fixed and started removing the old unit. The next 4 hours were spent installing the new heater. There were few glitches, so a third man was called to help. At 4pm, the new heater was installed and functioning.

2 days before leaving for India, our refrigerator bit the dust. We didn’t have enough time to order a replacement so we emptied out the entire fridge, threw away food (much to my chagrin), and asked a close friend to keep certain things I wasn’t ready to part with. (It’s hard to find variety of peppers in the winter/spring months so I freeze some varieties.)

Upon returning, we checked Amazon as well as couple electronic stores. At each place, we were told the delivery time would be 7-10 days. Unfortunately 7- 10 days seemed too long so we asked for speedy delivery. Specifically, we asked if we could pay extra for overnight delivery and were told no, each time. At one store, they had the fridge in stock however refused overnight delivery, with extra money. Then the husband asked a coworker if we could bring the fridge in her car. With her help, they bought and brought the fridge home and the three of us carried the fridge up 2 flights of stairs.

We learned out of order appliances cannot be left on the sidewalk; they have to be taken to a Recycling Center. Fortunately with the help of another friend, with a car, we took the old fridge a week later.

Here’s to hoping we don’t have appliance meltdowns anytime soon.

Tuesday, January 22


Our trip to the Philippines was planned but for the first time in a long time I didn’t search the internet high and low for good places to visit and restaurants to try. We had friends and family of friends that were locals, what more did we need?

We spent a night in Manila before heading on a few days beach trip with our friends. Our first meal in Manila was at the family’s home and full of delicious food. We tried Laing, Chicken Adobo, Whole stuffed fish and Flan. (Everything pictured below.) Laing is taro leaves cooked down with onion, garlic and spices. I believe spinach or water spinach can be used to make it as well. It was primarily fresh (& green) tasting. The chicken adobo was exactly the comfort food we needed after an 8 hour flight. It was garlicky and slightly vinegary, very appetizing. The fish with crispy skin and moist meat was tasteful. And finally the flan, it was memorable. I’ve had flan before but this was exquisite.
The four of us spent 3 days in Boracay, an island south of Manila. The weather wasn’t cooperating and rained into the night. However we made the most of the rainy day. We rode on the Tricycle, a motorbike connected to a side car. And the side car is covered for passenger seating. It was unique.

On a rainy arrival, we ate chicken wings, grilled squid and Tinola for lunch. Tinola was outstanding, soup made with broth, vegetables and chicken meat. The broth is flavorful and comforting, just the meal for a wet day on the island.

With sun shining we spent many hours in the water the next couple days. The water is clear enough to see our feet at the bottom of the ocean. A picture forever etched in our minds is many shades of blue water surrounded by palm trees on the white sandy shore. Magnificent. Boracay has been rated, repeatedly, one of the world’s beautiful islands; rightfully so it deserves the recognition. The three days we spent there weren’t enough.
We woke up the next morning to open skies and rising sun. We ate breakfast with a platter full of mangoes, pineapple and papaya. It was a delight to have local, tropical fruits. There we tasted Longanisa, a Filipino sausage. Vinegary and sweet at the same time; we were both surprised by the taste and enjoyed it.

For dinner we went to a Spanish restaurant called Dos Mesquitos and ordered a seafood paella. The rice was cooked perfectly but the Spanish flavor was missing in the paella. Thankfully the fresh seafood covering the paella made up for it.
Two memorable dishes, at another restaurant, were chicken and fish in coconut milk
sauce. The grilled chicken was tender and juicy and it came with two dipping sauces, sweet and spicy and another salty. Our friend said the coconut milk with the fish is Thai influence. While whole fish isn’t for the faint heart, it’s typical to get fish with head and tail on in Asian countries; Philippines is no exception. Something we enjoyed with most meals was garlic rice. We’re garlic fans and rice loves so having those two combined was eye-opening.
Another time I ordered Pancit, a noodle dish with vegetables, shrimp and chicken. It reminded me of lo mein with citrus notes. Speaking of citrus, there are varieties of fruits available in the Philippines we haven’t seen or heard of elsewhere. One is Calamansi (pictured below with Pancit), a sour citrus the size of a golf ball. Dalandan is a type of a sweet orange. At the family home, we drank Dalandan juice, daily. Our friend had heard about the Calamansi muffins at a local café in Boracay so we bought some before departing the island. The muffins tasted like citrus muffin with a hint of sour. Comparatively the muffins were milder in taste than a Calamansi shake (pictured below).
We arrived back to Manila with our luggage and a sick stomach. We ate at a Mexican restaurant in Boracay on the previous night and caught a stomach bug, unfortunately. The next couple days in Manila were troublesome but we got through it with lots of medication and homemade food.

The joy of living with a family includes the luxuries of home cooked meals. Each morning we woke up to breakfast that included sausages, eggs, fresh fruits, and local cheese. I had no idea Philippines produced their own cheese but I am glad they do. We ate the cheese with Pan de Sal, a bread roll. That’s the way to start off breakfast. And if that wasn’t enough, one morning we had hot chocolate. HOT CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST! When I’ve made hot chocolate, it’s been runny and watery but this was thick and rich,  liquid gold. A tablespoon of milk is added when the hot chocolate is ready. We learned both coffee and chocolate are locally grown in the Philippines. I am sad I didn’t watch someone make it.  My mouth is salivating thinking about the chocolate.

When photographing Boracay, alone, I’d run into a soymilk vendor. When I told our friend, she explained soy milk is drunk in the morning with sugary syrup. One morning in Manila when a soymilk vendor strolled through the neighborhood, (this reminded me of India with vegetable and milk vendors walking through neighborhoods, selling their produce off of a mobile cart), the family bought some. It is curdled tofu with its liquid. Instead of the sugary syrup, our friend suggested adding agave. At first glance it looks odd but after the first sip, I was a convert. Don’t judge a drink by its cover looks.

The family hosted a birthday party at the house the next day. I was still recovering from the bug but I managed. The husband had already recovered so he ate like he’d never seen food. I tried Pancit, again, and Lumpia. Lumpia is spring roll filled with vegetables (sometimes also meat) and then fried. It is eaten with a lot of sauce. Lumpia is like Vietnamese or Thai fried spring rolls. A highlight of the party night was lechon, whole roasted pig. Although I tried very little of the lechon, the husband approved. He went back for fourths. We both liked the skin; crackly, slightly sweet and overall tasty. From lechon began a conversation to try chicharon. Chicharon is pig skin fried. It’s eaten as a snack and we devoured half the bag. We liked it so much, we brought some to Germany. Filipinos eat chicharon with garlic, vinegar, black pepper. Speaking of vinegar, we learned (and experienced) Filipinos love their vinegar. Many dishes are cooked with vinegar or many foods are eaten with vinegar. For a country in Southeast Asia, in the middle of the Pacific ocean, I am amazed how important vinegar is to the cuisine.
Sinigang is traditional Filipino soup that’s made from broth and vegetables. It sounds very much like Tinola but the key difference is in the broth, Sinigang is sour and Tinola isn’t. I’d never heard of Sinigang before this trip, so when a Top Chef contestant made it for a challenge (and won!) last week, I was thrilled for Filipinos. Crazy, I know.
On New Year’s Eve, we toured Manila and its malls. A well known architect has put a lot of thought into the design of these indoor spaces and earned awards. The layout and the design were modern. We were taken aback by the high clothing prices at designer shops. It confirms Manila is a bustling city that attracts high earning individuals from other parts of the country, as well as the world. Another outdoor shopping mall is connected to one of the green markets in the city and the drastic difference between high-end shopping and an outdoor, pedestrian market couldn’t be more distinct than here.
Filipinos speak fluent English and though it’s not shocking for most people, it’s a change from Germany. Not only the language but the attitude towards customers (& strangers) was far different than what we’re used to. I’ve read about Filipinos but to experience their friendliness in person was striking. Everywhere we went we were greeted with a hello and a smile. Even the maids at the house greeted us with a warm welcome. Did I type maids? Yes, I did. There were 2- 3 live-in maids at all times. I was content they washed the dishes and did the laundry, but the plates cleared after dinner and beds made everyday? That’s luxury! I am thinking about asking to be adopted by the family.  On language, the husband was fascinated by Filipinos' poetic speech. It wasn’t How are you? it was Howwww are you, sirrrrr? with bells and whistles and a little rhyme in their question (or statement).

On a sweet note, we had many desserts. Bibingka (pictured) definitely stands out in my mind. It’s sticky rice cake with caramel-like topping. (It doesn't photograph well because it's too good for photo ops.) At the party, the rice cakes were filled in banana leaves (used as a vessel) topped with sugar and cheese and grilled on charcoal. I enjoyed the sweet- salty with sticky rice. The husband favored the puto bumbong. Also sticky rice (I believe) steamed in a cylinder and topped with shredded coconut before serving. This blogger does a great job explaining the difference, in photos! Suman is another glutinous rice cake, slightly sweet and wrapped in banana leaves. It was the simplest and stickiest of the three. Ube jam is purple yam jam. Say that 5 times. Purple yam jam, Purple yam jam, Purple…. I was expecting a gluey texture but it was smooth and sweet. Buko pie is coconut pie, crust filled with thick slices of coconut and coconut milk filling. I wouldn’t think to make this but it worked and featured coconut brilliantly.
We took a day trip with the family to Tagaytay, 2 hour drive from Manila. We arrived at a sophisticated restaurant, Antonio’s. Tucked away on an inside road, Antonio’s is serene in the middle of a lush garden.
The menu is refined with local ingredients. There was roasted chicken, duck confit, rack of lamb and risotto. I remember risotto because we ordered that with the roasted chicken and a salad. The chicken and risotto were topped with a red sauce (possibly a Romesco sauce). The risotto was creamy and the chicken had a crispy skin implying it was fried. For dessert we ordered Dark Chocolate Soufflé with Cardamom Crème Anglaise. Overall the husband favored the chicken and I favored the Soufflé. We finished lunch with a stroll through their garden. The traffic back to Manila from Tagaytay was horrendous and it took us 4+ hours to get home. Now I understand why our friend complains about the traffic in the Philippines.
We saw many “Chooks to go” signs and the husband had to find out what this was. Chooks means chicken in Filipino and this is their version of KFC. After Tagaytay, we had take-out chooks to go, homemade scrambled eggs, Gising Gising, dried fish and bier, (pictured). Chooks was unfortunately the least memorable of the meal. It was roasted chicken with a semi-sweet glaze. Gising Gising, on the other hand, was an eye opener, literally. It means wake up, wake up and it woke us up, even at 9pm. It’s a greens dish (like Laing) but this had extra chilies for a kick. The family believed it was too hot but we Indians appreciated it. Out of the many foods we ate, Gising Gising will be unforgetable for its simplicity and fiery kick. The dried fish was unusual; crunchy, salty, and slightly fishy. Since it was dried, there wasn’t much meat to eat. It was fine with rice and other things, but I wasn’t wowed.
Some rave about San Miguel bier. The men drank it like water but for me, it was a cold beverage. I am spoiled from German bier.

New Year’s Eve was pleasant. We ate an extravagant dinner at a Chinese restaurant and then sat on the front porch at home, watched the fireworks and wished everyone a happy new year at midnight. It was just the type of evening we needed before heading home.

There aren’t enough words to describe our experience in the Philippines. The Boracay beach with clear blue water is unreal and the people are friendly, accommodating and always smiling.

We are beyond grateful to Tito and Tita, C & C and little P and the entire family for their warm welcome, kindness and generosity in opening their homes to us. We felt like part of the family. Thanks to you, we ate our way through Manila and can't wait to come back for more. Sarap!

More importantly, we are lucky for some of the best friends we have! Thank you ma'amsir!

Wednesday, January 16

Zoll- Customs Office

The customs office experience is new. I say that because I’ve never dealt with customs office in America. The husband informed me every country has stringent rules for international packages. Surprisingly, I’ve never dealt with any of this in America. And I’d already decided I wanted to share this story.

I ordered a warm sweater from Etsy. (Did I mention it’s brutally cold here?) Etsy is a host website for individual/private parties to sell homemade and/or vintage materials without outrageous fees. It allows people to start an online business with free promotion. Etsy sellers sell everything under the sun including clothes, shoes, jewelry, paintings, and household goods.

After ordering and paying, the seller (in US) mailed me the sweater by post. Few weeks later I received a letter from Zoll (customs) asking me to pick up my package.

Unfortunately for us living in old city customs office is in the middle of nowhere. It’s an ubahn to the last stop and two bus transfers away. If that wasn’t enough, there is a 6 minute walk from the bus stop to the office.

Once there, I took a number to be called by one of the workers. Everyone has to wait until their number is called. When my number was called, I went through a closed door and asked for my package. The lady behind the counter asked for my passport and afterward fetched my package. With the box in hand, she asked me for an invoice. Invoice? I gave her a puzzled look. She explained all packages require invoices; if the package does not contain an invoice to scan, the recipient has to pick it up, with an invoice.

I didn’t get that memo.

So I called the husband for plan B since the office is so far away from our apartment. The clever man that he is suggested he fax the invoice while I wait. The kind lady agreed and gave me the fax number. After 15 minutes, she retrieved the package and called me to the back room. She wrote my information on a form and signed off on the package. She explained that items valued at less than 22 Euros are tax free and I was free to go, however in future if I had an international item worth more than 22 Euros, I would be called into the Zoll to pay the appropriate tax for the item.

An American friend in Nürnberg told me her mother sent her a kindle as a gift. She had to deal with customs and paid tax on the kindle, a steep sum, she said.

I ordered two pairs of sandals from a vendor in Greece and asked him to include the invoice in the package. He knew the process so he agreed to reduce the price of the sandals on the invoice even though I paid him the full amount. There are always ways to find loopholes in the system, leave it to us to find them.

Although I haven’t worn the sweater and the sandals at the same time, I’ve enjoyed both in their appropriate season.

Wednesday, January 9

reminiscing of Istanbul with Sultan's Delight

Months after Istanbul, the husband and I were browsing through TV shows to watch online. We came across Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations- Istanbul. Those of you that don’t like him because of his attitude, I am almost with you. His snarky comments and his brash behavior are rude but the guy eats well, mostly. In this episode, we enjoyed seeing familiar streets and places. One worth mentioning, again, is Dürümzade. If you find yourself in Istanbul, this place deserves a stop or two or three.

But that’s not why I am writing today. I am sharing a recipe because it was inspired by Anthony’s trip. Often he has a “host” that tours the city with him and more often than not the host invites him to their home for a homemade meal. This woman hosted Anthony and the crew at her parent’s place for dinner and her mom made a dish that resembled lamb in tomato sauce served with eggplant. As the cameraman zoomed in while it was being served, both of us looked at each other and said we had to make that, as soon as possible! It looked mouth watering and like homey, comfort food of Turkey. With the weather cooling down it gave us a good reason to try this recently.

After many internet searches and finds, I found 5 recipes that seemed similar with small variations on herbs and spices. I interpreted the dish the way I thought would be best. I added Oregano and Aci Pul Biber because we purchased those at the Spice Market in Istanbul. I omitted the traditional Parsley because I am not a fan of the herb. Don’t judge me.

I've used lamb for a traditional taste however when in India, we substituted cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans) for the lamb and it was well received.

Sultan’s Delight
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 kilogram (1 pound) lamb, cubed (preferably from leg or shoulder)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green chili or bell pepper, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tomatoes, petite diced
1 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon Aci Pul Biber* or red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried Turkish oregano (if unavailable, Greek is fine)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (I would increase this to 1/2 teaspoon next time)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1 1/2 cups hot water

for eggplant puree
2 medium eggplants
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Turkish hard mature cheese, Kasar**, (also known as Kashkaval) or aged Swiss cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Aleppo Pepper, Aci Pul Biber, red chili flakes
*Aci Pul Biber is a spicy Turkish pepper. Syrian Aleppo (also grown in Turkish towns near the Syrian border) is milder in heat. I’ve only purchased it at Pensey’s and tasted Turkish grown Aleppo pepper so unfortunately I don’t have a point of reference for the true Syrian Aleppo.

**A hard, yellow Turkish cheese made from cow’s milk.

Season the cubed lamb with salt and pepper. In a dutch oven or pan on medium high heat, melt butter and add cubed lamb. Brown the lamb on the first side for 5 minutes and then turn and brown on the other side. Remove lamb from the pan, reduce heat to medium low. Stir in onions and pepper and sauté for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook briefly before stirring in tomatoes, tomato paste, biber, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook the mixture until tomatoes simmer. Then add the lamb and its juices back to the dutch oven along with hot water. Increase heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil. When bubbling, reduce the heat to low (as low as it goes), season with a pinch of salt, cover and cook for 2 hours, minimum.

45 minutes before lamb’s finished, make the eggplant béchamel sauce. (If roasting eggplant in oven, start 1 hour before lamb’s finished)

Wash and pierce the eggplants with a knife or fork. On an open gas flame (or grill), roast the eggplants on one side, turn frequently and continue browning until the skin is completely charred and black. Once charred, place the eggplants in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the eggplants to cool for 20 minutes.

If roasting in an oven, set the oven temperature 400°F/200°C or as high as it will go and rotate every 10 minutes for 40 minutes. Although the oven method won’t give it a charred skin effect, the eggplant will be cooked.

Once cool, remove the stem and charred skin from eggplant. Mash the eggplant with a fork or potato masher into a fine paste.

Heat milk in the microwave or on the stove until warm to touch. Melt butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute or until the mixture is lightly browned (this is known as blonde roux). Reduce the heat to low, slowly whisk in the heated milk and simmer for 5 minutes. Continue whisking to avoid lumps. Add the mashed eggplant, salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and cook the mixture for 10 minutes. Uncover, stir in the cheese and simmer for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust with salt and black pepper, if necessary.

Taste the cooked lamb with sauce and adjust seasoning. Continue to simmer uncovered until the sauce is thick, 10 minutes. Remove from heat and serve hot or warm over eggplant béchamel sauce.

Serve eggplant on a plate and top with lamb and its sauce.

Although we did not try this particular dish during our visit, it will be one more added to the list of many things we ate in Turkey that invokes wonderful food memories of the trip.

Tuesday, January 8

Rounding out 2012 with a Tart

Happy 2013. It came really fast and out of nowhere. I am off my wagon at the moment because for the first time, I believe, jetlag’s gotten the best of me. I am sleepy at 8 and in bed by 9 and worst yet, I am up by 5- 6am. Shocking for someone that loves sleeping in.

Looking back on 2012, we are very grateful for the trips we took, family and friends we saw and good food we ate. To end the year with a bang, we hosted a holiday dinner at our place two days before leaving for our trip. Here, almost all Americans go “home” for the holidays. We did the same last year. This year we chose to stay here for no particular reason, until in October we planned the Philippines trip. There are couple close friends that also decided to stay back. Staying put (during the time when everyone’s with family and friends) is no easy feat so it called for a holiday dinner. And it was a pleasant dinner for 4.

When I obtained my work permit, I started making calls and contacting local businesses to collaborate on food ventures. One of those conversations led me to a café owned by an American. At our meeting, she and I discussed options for me to explore; one of which was to cater a Christmas party she’d plan for her café employees. I accepted.

We collaborated on the menu and came up with American holiday foods with a healthy twist. It included Fig & Onion Crostini and Roasted Smashed potatoes for appetizers. For the main course stuffed Turkey breast, roasted Cauliflower with raisins, Broccoli and Leek casserole, and penne with Butternut Squash sauce. Since it is a café, I had to think hard in coming up with a dessert. The owner and its employees are accustomed to desserts; keeping that in mind, I found a tart that was unusual but also appealing.

Rule number 2 in catering for clients, never make a recipe you haven’t previously tried or tested. I know this. I know this. I promise, I do know this. I always keep this in the back of my mind but putting that rule to practice was overlooked in this instance.

This tart turned out so good I recreated it for our holiday dinner for 4.

Pear and Chocolate Tart
Adapted from In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon or 100 grams unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups or 250 grams all purpose flour

4 ounces top-shelf bittersweet chocolate chips, finely chopped bar
3 medium-sized ripe pears, preferably Anjou or Bartlett
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tbsp for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar and salt on low speed until light, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add egg and mix well to combine. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and form into a disk; wrap the dough in plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour up to overnight.

Remove dough from the refrigerator and allow to soften for 15 minutes at room temperature. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to an 11 inch circle, 1/4 inch thick. Fit the rolled dough onto an 11 inch tart pan with removable bottom. Place the dough in the tart pan back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F or 190°C.

Prick the bottom of the chilled tart shell with a fork. Line the bottom of the tart with a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Fill the liner with dried beans or pie weights and place the shell on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are just lightly browned.

Remove the foil and weights and return the shell to the oven for another 10 minutes or until browned. Remove the tart from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile peel and halve the pears, then core them to remove the seeds. Place one half, cut-side down, on a cutting board. Slice the pear into thin slices, keeping the shape intact.

Scatter the chopped chocolate evenly over the bottom of the cooled tart shell. Spread the sliced pears in a fanned shape over the chocolate. Repeat with the other halves until the tart shell is full. If the pears do not completely cover the tart, don’t worry.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, and 3/4 cup sugar. Add the cream and vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Pour the custard over the pears and chocolate. Sprinkle the top of the tart with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet to avoid any leaks.

Bake the tart in the center of a preheated oven for 40 minutes or until the custard is just set in the center. Allow tart to cool completely before slicing and serving.

Store any leftovers, if there are any, in the refrigerator.

I am lucky this was a hit because it would’ve been a shame otherwise. I hope you had a wonderful time ringing in the new year. Happy New Year.

Friday, January 4

World Peace Cookies for everyone

We had a mini vacation for the holidays. It was planned with some friends. She is Filipino, he Indian. I've known her for many years (by the way of the husband) and have become close friends with her.  She is a thoughtful woman.  At their wedding, the husband was the best man and I a bridesmaid. When their trip as a married couple was planned to the Philippines, both the husband and I invited ourselves to tag-along. Good friends almost always say yes. Thankfully they are good friends. 

Her kind family offered us to stay with them in their home while visiting.  The least we could do was bring a gift or two.  We bought gifts for a young child and few German foods (Lebkuchen, bratwurst, etc) for the family.   The simplest gift was these cookies.  I know my strengths and weaknesses; baked cookies wrapped in a bow as a gift is a strength.

They’re called World Peace Cookies by Dorie Greenspan. She explains why but I just like the name of these chocolatey goodness associated with world peace. If we ate these all the time, would we live in a more peaceful world? I’d like to think yes.

Here’s to eating food, sharing laughs with friends and having peace.

World Peace Cookies
Recipe from here
Originally from Dorie Greenspan

1 1/4 cups or 175 grams all-purpose flour
1/3 cup or 30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
11 tablespoons or 150 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup or 120 grams (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup or 50 grams sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces or 150 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Whisk flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda into medium bowl.

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth and creamy. Add both sugars, vanilla, and sea salt; beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture; beat gently just until blended (mixture may be crumbly).

Add chopped chocolate; mix just to distribute (if dough doesn’t come together, knead lightly in bowl to form ball). 

Divide dough in half. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment. Form each piece into 1 1/2-inch-diameter log. Wrap each tightly and chill until firm, about 3 hours. (Note: this can be done in advance – logs can be stored in the fridge up to three days before slicing and baking).

Preheat oven to 325°F or 165°C. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, cut logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Space cookies 1 inch apart on prepared sheets.

Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies appear dry (cookies will not be firm or golden at edges), exactly 12 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool.

We both enjoyed these, especially with the sea salt. You can omit the sea salt if sweet/salty together isn’t something you fancy. I hope her family liked them as much as we did.