Beth’s Kitchen in Prague.

beth-11Where do you live?
I live in Prague, Czech Republic in a two-bedroom apartment with my husband. We’ve been here for six months.

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How often do you cook or bake?
I cook an average of four nights a week, sometimes more. It used to be the reverse when we lived in Boston, and Bob would cook most of the time because he got home first, but here, I’m doing it and it’s a lot of fun. I haven’t baked much, because I’m still getting used to the different ingredients and measurements, but I intend to this winter.

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What is your favorite kitchen utensil?
My favorite kitchen utensil is my metal tongs! I used to have two pairs that I got in Chinatown in Boston, but when we moved here we brought just two bags each, and had to equip our kitchen from scratch. This meant several trips to Ikea (everyone here pronounces it eee-kay-ah instead of the American iiy-key-ah, and it really is a special kind of hell here) and to the “domácnost” departments at the British department stores in town. It was somewhere in Debenhams where I finally found metal tongs and man, was I happy.

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Which part of your kitchen do you like best and why?
The best part of the kitchen is the combination of our Fenway Park calendar (boo hoo), Andre Dawson poster (he’s our family hero), and hockey stick that sits in the corner with our recycling.  I like the sports stuff in the kitchen because it makes me smile and doesn’t ever frustrate me, like some of the other things (electric oven, spices that only come in little paper envelopes — I had to take a pic to show you) do. Also, I can talk on and on about why Andre Dawson is great, but I’ll spare you.

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What was your biggest kitchen accomplishment?
I don’t think I have a big kitchen accomplishment — not in this kitchen, not yet. I’m still working on making healthy and interesting things and tracking down the best ingredients. But our favorite meal is West African Peanut Soup. Peanut butter is hard to find and expensive in the Czech Republic, but it’s worth it for me. This recipe is from the restaurant of a bookstore called Tatnuck Booksellers, which used to be the best bookstore in Worcester, Massachusetts. I usually make this or I change it — for variant recipes, Google Ghanaian groundnut stew or Senegalese peanut soup.

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Spicy West African Peanut Soup, Tatnuck recipe by Jack L. Corey, Chef
Makes 10 portions.

2 each large Spanish onions, diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 each large carrots, peeled and diced
½ cup shallots, diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons peanut oil
3 tablespoons curry powder
4 cups vegetable stock
15 very ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 dash Tabasco sauce
Fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the chopped onions, celery, carrots, shallots, garlic, and cayenne pepper.   Sauté for approximately 15 minutes, then stir in the curry powder, salt, and pepper and toss for another 2 minutes.   Lower the flame and add the tomatoes and the vegetable stock. Simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly then puree in a food processor.  Return the soup to low flame and stir in peanut butter, Worcestershire, and Tabasco. Slowly whisk in the heavy cream.  Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.

Notes: You can add chicken or shrimp to this soup and serve it as a main course over rice or pasta.

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As Promised…

Last month I mentioned that I would be soon posting photographs of some of my friends’ kitchens, along with their answers to a brief questionnaire.  Learning about my friends’ interests and challenges with cooking and food in general has been so interesting; there are peeves we all share, but then there are the frustrations that are specific to ourselves (i.e. my fear of yeast).

I’ll be putting these posts up once a week; below are the questions I asked my friends to answer.

  • Where do you live?
  • How often do you cook or bake?
  • What is your favorite kitchen utensil?
  • Which part of your kitchen do you like best and why?
  • What was your biggest kitchen accomplishment?