International Cuisine: Chrov Plov

My oldest two sons were born in Kazakhstan. We feel so blessed to have the chance to celebrate and explore another culture. And we truly love the country, people, and food (!) of Kazakhstan. March 22 marked the Kazakh New Year (Nauryz) and so we enjoyed celebrating with friends and eating some traditional dishes. This was one of my absolute favorites but I will be sharing four different recipes throughout the coming weeks – they were all delicious.

The recipes were adapted from Cooking for Kaz: Meals for Hope, Volume 2 – my mom and I both have recipes in the book as well as many other talented cooks (how is that for a shameless promo! :)). Please feel free to check it out – the fundraiser is put on by Two Hearts for Hope and all proceeds from the sales of the cookbook benefit orphans in Kazakhstan. And the cookbook features many different types of recipes in addition to several Kazakh recipes.

adapted from Cooking for Kaz: Meals for Hope, Volume 2
Print This Recipe

1 c. rice, uncooked
¼ c. almonds, chopped
2 T. currants
2 T. raisins
6 dried prunes
3 T. dates, chopped
4 T. butter
¼ c. dried apricots, cut into strips
1 T. honey
2 c. water

Soak dates, currant and prunes in warm water for 15 minutes. Remove and pat dry, mix with apricots and raisins. Melt the butter in a large skillet over high heat and add the fruit mixture and almonds. Reduce the heat to low and stir for four minutes. Stir in the honey, rice, and water. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce to low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes, serve hot.

*I very successfully made this in my rice cooker by adding the sautéed fruit, almonds, butter, and honey to the rice and water in the cooker.

Kids in the Kitchen: Applesauce Cake

My boys love it when I invite them to help make something in the kitchen. Their eyes light up as they eagerly scrub their hands and get ready to help. They generally get along well and bend over backwards to take turns. I think cooking with kids is a great way to build relationships, teach skills, and create appreciation for all that goes into food preparation. And we always have a great time!

This cake was so fun – it’s all mixed up in the pan so both of the boys had a chance to stir it.

They were so proud of their handiwork and they really liked eating this cake, too!


1 1/2 c. flour (white or whole wheat)
1/3 c. sugar or honey
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. applesauce
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. nuts, chopped (we used pecans)

Mix dry ingredients in a greased 8×8 or 9×9 pan. Add the wet ingredients and stir with a fork until combined. Stir in the raisins and nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool and serve.

This is wonderful as is or you could dress it up with a soft whipped cream (add a little cinnamon and sugar) or for an adult dessert, a rum sauce.

Market Fresh: Carrots

Carrots are often so present in our lives that we forget to take notice of them or use them as the highlight of a meal. Carrots are plentiful at this time of year, having been harvested in the fall and put in cold storage where they keep well through the winter.

There are a multitude of uses for carrots: soups, salads, side-dishes, carrot cake, carrot muffins, carrot souffle, carrot pudding, carrot bread, and as an addition to roasted vegetables, to name a few.

Today I have two recipes for carrots. The first is Carrot & Coriander Soup or perhaps it would be better “Americanized” by the title Carrot & Cilantro Soup. Cilantro, in most of the world, is known as coriander. This soup is a gentle, almost sweet soup, flavored with ground coriander and finished with fresh cilantro/coriander.

(adapted from a recipe at

2 Tbsp. canola oil (or other mild oil)
2 medium onions, chopped
2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
1-2 tsp. ground coriander (depending on taste)
vegetable stock — enough to cover vegetables
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
salt & pepper
cream or sour-cream or creme fraiche for serving

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add chopped onions and carrots and cook over medium heat until beginning to soften — 4-7 minutes. Stir in the ground coriander and cook for another minute.

Add the vegetable stock, just covering the vegetables. Bring to a boil and simmer until the carrots are tender.

Puree soup in a blender or with a hand blender until smooth. Return to pan, reheat briefly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the fresh chopped cilantro and serve with a dollop of sour cream, creme fraiche or a bit of heavy cream poured over. Garnish with additional chopped cilantro. Serve with bread and salad.

Serves 6.

This carrot salad is a quick dish I’ve made time and again, especially when I don’t have any fresh greens in the house and need a salad to accompany dinner.

(from Everyday Food magazine)

2 Tbsp. olive oil (I use canola)
1 Tbsp. white-wine vinegar (I use red wine if I don’t have white)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. sugar
salt & pepper
4 medium carrots, coarsely grated
1/3 c. raisins (or less)

In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, and sugar; season with salt and pepper. Add carrots and raisins. Toss to combine.

Serves 4.