Showing posts with label recipe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recipe. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

On the Menu: Moroccan Food

Delicious and makes your house smell so good!!

That's what I would have to say to describe the Moroccan recipe I have for you today.  Moroccan food uses a lot of exotic spices from all over the Mediterranean, African, and Arabian areas that surround it.  Their cuisine is renowned for it's wonderful flavors and I couldn't wait to try it.  

I would have loved to go to a traditional Moroccan restaurant and maybe eat sitting on comfy cushions around a low table, drinking sweet mint tea but this week is a busy one so I cooked our meal at home.  In the slow-cooker, while I was doing a million other things! 

They use a type of slow cooker in Morocco too, called a tangine.  It's a clay vessel that you use in the oven and it keeps the meat and other ingredients moist by keeping the steam and juices inside- like a crockpot, right?  So while I was getting presents ready for my husbands birthday (Happy Birthday Darling!) and making cupcakes our house was being filled with the most delicious smells!  Try it, you'll see.

Moroccan Chicken with Apricots and Olives
Recipe adapted from one found on  
For the recipe you will need:
  • 3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 small onion cut in wedges
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • 3/4 cup green olives
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • prepared couscous or rice to serve with
  • toasted sliced almonds (optional)
1.  Combine your chicken, onions, and spices in the bowl of the slow cooker.  Make sure the spices are evenly coating the chicken.  

2.  Add the bay leaf and the chicken broth and cook on HI for about 2 hours or so.  I think mine was closer to 2 1/2.

3.  After 2 hrs add the garbanzo beans, half of the apricots and olives.  Stir it all around and cook for another hour on HI or turn it to low and give it a few hours.  

4.  I wanted a thicker sauce so about 15 minutes before I was ready to serve dinner I drained the sauce into a saucepan and reduced it on the stove.  I added a few more dashes of the spices and the rest of the apricots.  Once the apricots had plumped up and the sauce was a little thicker I added it back to the crockpot and cooked my couscous.

This was a very tasty dish.  I wasn't too sure about olives and apricots together but somehow it worked.  The chicken was super tender and the sauce soaked into the couscous wonderfully.  The spices weren't overly strong, very delicate but flavorful!!  I'm sure my kids would've really enjoyed it if they weren't too full from the cupcakes they had before dinner (bad mommy).  They ate couscous.  Are you familiar with couscous? 

It is a very small, quick cooking pasta that seems more like rice to me.  It's super easy to cook.  All you do is add it to boiling water, remove it from the heat and let it sit covered for 5 minutes.  Then you fluff it up and serve it with anything you like.  I recommend serving it with Moroccan Chicken w/ Olives and Apricots!!!! 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Last but not least

Happy Independence Day Venezuela!

We are ending our "Independence Week" with Venezuela, who celebrates their independence from the Spanish, on July 5th.  The country celebrates with big military parades, festivals, concerts and fireworks in the night!  Oh, and feasts!  Of course, there is always food!!  So we made a little Venezuelan dish to share with you.  It uses one of the most "summer-y" foods- fresh corn! YUM!  They can be eaten on their own with a little butter and salt or as a base for some guasacaca (Venezuelan guacamole), meat and queso fresco....

Cachapas (fresh corn pancakes)
For the recipe you will need:
  • 4 cups fresh corn- removed from cob
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp  melted butter
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
1. Add the ingredients to a food processor or blender and process until it is mostly smooth but still has some chunks.  I kept about 1/2 cup of the corn out of the processor and added it back to the batter after I processed it so it would have some more texture.  The mixture should be about the consistency of thick cream.

2.  Melt some butter on a hot skillet or griddle and pour batter to form a "pancake".  Brown on one side and then flip it over and brown the other side. 

I thought the batter seemed really runny when I made the first one so I added about a few Tbsp of corn meal to add some thickness but I think they were supposed to be runny.  They were good both ways!  

The adults topped ours with some avocado, carnitas meat, queso fresco and salsa.  They were really good- a nice change from just a tortilla but you couldn't really taste them.  The kids were served theirs with just some melted butter and a dash of salt and it tasted just like fresh corn on the cob only in patty form!  They were delicious and a good way to make use out of all that fresh corn that's out there in summer!!

I hope you all had a great Independence Day/Week- I know we did!!!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

As American As...

Apple Pie!!

Happy birthday America!! 
It's the 4th of July and the whole country is celebrating today!  On July 4, 1776, our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence and proclaimed that we would henceforth be pursuing our own life, liberty and happiness and no longer be under the rule of the British or anybody else for that matter.

We will have picnics, parades and festivals to celebrate our love of America and then tonight, all over the country, there will be amazing fireworks displays lighting up the sky.  Just as the forefathers planned.  :)

So for today's post I made the most American of desserts - the humble Apple Pie.  This was a recipe that I have eaten many times but never made myself.  But making pie is easy, right?  I mean we have that idiom- "easy as pie".  Well, I soon was up to my elbows in flour, cursing whoever came up with that dumb phrase.  It turns out that making pie is NOT that easy!  Or maybe I was just doing something wrong - that happens.  Anyway, it turned out pretty delicious so maybe it was worth the mess after all.  Here is the recipe - try it for yourself :)

All American Apple Pie
For the recipe you will need:

Crust ingredients-
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 6 Tbsp room temp butter
  • 6 Tbsp shortening
  • 6 Tbsp ice cold water
  • pastry blender
Filling Ingredients-
  • 5 tart apples, peeled and  sliced and soaking in water mixed with 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt and sugar.
2.  Using the pastry blender (or a fork?) cut in the butter, shortening and water until the dough looks incorporated but still crumbly.
3.  Put the dough onto some plastic wrap and form it into a ball. Wrap it in the plastic and put in fridge for about 30 mins.
4.  After it's chilled, divide the dough in half.  Roll the first half out into an 1/8" thick circle about an inch larger than your pie pan.  This was where I had trouble- flour everywhere and it was still sticking to the roller and parchment paper.  Maybe because it was like 95° today?  Or because I don't know how to make pie crust?  We made it work though- perseverance is the American way, right?

5.  Transfer the rolled out crust to your pie tin and smooth it out and patch any hole with extra dough.  Then poke a few deliberate holes with a fork on the bottom.

6. Now make the filling.  Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Add the drained apples and sprinkle the dry ingredients and vinegar on top.  Toss it all around so it's all combined and then dump it in the pie shell.
7.  Roll out the other half of the dough and put it on top of the filled pie shell.  Make the edges look pretty- another "easier said than done" moment.  We ended up with a good old pressed fork design and threw on a couple of stars to hide some rough spots :)

8. Cover the edges of the pie with strips of aluminum foil so they don't get too brown.
9.  Bake in a preheated 400° oven for 50-60 minutes.  After 45 minutes take the aluminum foil off the edge of the crust and brush with some egg white if you want a shiny crust.  Oh! Be sure to put a baking sheet down under the pie as it's baking because it might leak out a little. 

Voila!!  That was "easy as pie"!!  Yeah right, whatever.  I'm taking a nap now before the fireworks start!  

Happy Birthday America!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy Independence Day Belarus!

Z Dniom Niezalieznasci!!

That's Belarusian for Happy Independence Day!  Today, July 3rd, is the day that Belarus (near Poland and Russia) celebrates it's independence.  They are not celebrating their freedom from the Soviet Union though, they celebrate their liberation from Nazi occupation in 1944. 
The day is celebrated with military parades, concerts, festivals and fireworks over the capital city, Minsk. 

Another fun tradition (although I don't see what it has to do with independence) is a parade of newlywed couples, dressed in their wedding finery, waving to the crowds.  At least the brides get some extra wear out of their dresses!!

The culture of the region is very similar to that of Russia, and one of my favorite memories of our week about Russia was our field trip to the Russian grocer where I discovered Half- Sour pickles.  So I found a recipe for those wonderful pickles that I am sharing with you.  The pickles take 3 days to brine so I won't know the results as this goes to post, but let's keep our fingers crossed that they are as good as the ones I found in the Russian grocer!!

Half Sour Deli Style Pickles
For the recipe you will need:
  • clean wide mouthed container
  • pickling cucumbers (as many as will fit in container)
  • 4 cups cool water
  • 1/4 cup kosher or pickling salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic- peeled and smashed
  • 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1.  Wash the cucumbers and remove any bits of stem.  Place them in the container.
2.  Add the garlic and peppercorns.
3.  Mix the water and the salt and let the salt dissolve completely.
4.  Pour the salty water over the cucumbers making sure that they are completely covered.  Any part of the cucumber that is not covered will get rotten so weigh them down if you need to.
5.  Cover them loosely and let them sit out on the counter in a dark, cool corner for 3 days.  When little bubbles start to form on the surface of the water they are fermented and ready to go into the refrigerator. Enjoy your crunchy fresh pickles!!

Have a great Independence Day Belarus!!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

On the Menu: Madagascar's National Dish

Let's Eat!

If this blog has taught me anything it's that I really enjoy trying the foods and recipes from different countries, and that my kids don't share that same passion.  This week we are learning about Madagascar and I didn't really know what to expect, but I was very happy to find that lemur was not a featured ingredient in any dish I saw. 

In Madagascar they raise a type of cattle called Zebu.  They were introduced to the country by Indonesian settlers over 1,000 years ago as a means of meat, milk, and as farm labor.  The people also raise and eat chickens and, because of the surrounding Indian Ocean, seafood of all types.  Many types of vegetables and fresh fruits are also part of the cuisine and rice is the main staple- it is served at every meal! 

Traditionally, meals are served and eaten on mats on the ground, with the food on a plate in the center and everyone eating from the same dish. The food is prepared simply, not usually spicy but they do have a spicy condiment that they use called sakay.

We chose to make the national dish - Romazava.  Romazava is a stew of beef and greens served over rice.  Simple, healthy and sounds pretty good.  There are many versions on the internet- here is my version since I made some variations. 

For the recipe you will need:
  • 2 lbs. cubed beef (zebu if you can find it)
  • 1 lg. onion - chopped
  • 1 can tomatoes- chopped or diced
  • 4 cloves garlic- finely chopped
  • 1 T fresh ginger- finely chopped
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 red bell pepper- chopped
  • 1 jalapeno- diced
  • 4 cups water (broth might be nice too)
  • 1 bunch of spinach (about 3 cups)- coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch watercress- coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch kale- coarsely chopped
1.  Fry the onions in a large pan until they are soft.  Add the meat and cook about 10 minutes until browned.
2.  Add the garlic, ginger, tomatoes, jalapeno and bell pepper and cook for another 10 minutes.
3.  Add the water and bring to a boil.  When boiling add the greens.  It looks like a lot but they wilt quickly.
4. Reduce heat to low and simmer (covered) for about 45 minutes or until meat is tender.
5. Serve over rice.  I added some sriracha sauce to it at the end too.

This was a simple and pretty tasty dish, although not the most attractive.  Lots of healthy dark green leafy vegetables.  The kids liked the meat and sauce over the rice but I had to pick the greens out.  I imagine that some of the nutrition leeched into the meat and broth, right?  I felt like it needed something though, I don't know what.  The original recipes had all types of different greens that I'd never heard of, the one I mainly based mine on had mustard greens.  Maybe it was my choice of greens that was off?  Who knows?  This was the first time I'd ever eaten watercress.  Kind of peppery and bitter, interesting.  Overall, this wasn't one of my favorite meals but it was good and no lemurs were injured.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

On the Menu: Arabic treats

Arabic/Indian Fusion

Traditional Emirati food is pretty much traditional Arabic/Middle Eastern food, but I did notice that a few of the dishes were very similar to Indian dishes that I have had before.  Maybe that is due to the fact that over 50% of the population is from the Indian subcontinent, maybe it's a coincidence? Doesn't really matter, good food is good food.  So, I picked a recipe that sounded like a fun way to sneak some veggies into dinner in a delicious way.  And it was yummy.

recipe adapted from Emeratican Kitchen
For the recipe you will need:

The batter-
  • 3/4 cup chickpea flour (I found this at both an Indian market and a Mexican food market)
  • 1/4 cup Corn Meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 clove garlic- crushed or 1 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Oil for frying
Combine all the above ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.  Then find some veggies in the fridge.  The link has some tasty ideas.  I used:
  • 1/2 onion- shredded
  • 5 sprigs of lemon thyme (stems removed)
  • 1 small carrot- shredded (forgot it in the pic)
  • 1 small potato- shredded
  • 2 small zucchini- shredded
1.  Add the shredded vegetables to the batter.  It should be pretty thick.  Add more flour/corn meal if necessary.

2. Heat up about an inch and a half of oil in a frying pan on medium heat.

3.  Drop spoonfuls of batter in oil and fry until golden brown- about 2-3 minutes each side.  Drain and sprinkle with a little salt.

These were pretty tasty.  I don't make deep-fried food very often because it's not supposed to be very healthy, but these didn't actually absorb much grease at all.  After I was done frying I had almost the same amount of grease left in the pan.  The batter was very good- no one noticed that they were made with chickpea flour.  Now, I'd have to imagine that regular flour would work just fine, but I love finding unique ingredients.  These would be a great way to get rid of excess or leftover veggies, maybe even with some meat in the batter too.  The combinations are endless- Go crazy! 

Friday, June 7, 2013

On the Menu: Danish Food

A meal fit for a Viking!

Actually, while I'm sure the Vikings would have loved a meal like I'm about to share with you, I really can't picture the Vikings sitting around on their longships eating butter cookies and stuffed pork loin.  But I could be wrong. 

The cuisine of Denmark is pretty similar to the other Scandinavian countries we have visited ( the Netherlands and Sweden), and actually pretty similar to the whole Northern Europe region in general.  The cuisine was founded on the time when what you ate was what you grew or raised.  The food is relatively simply made using easily found ingredients.  Some of the most common ingredients included potatoes, rye, currants or lingonberries, cabbage, pork and seafood.  Some of their well-known dishes include "smorrebrod"- an open-faced sandwich of various toppings on buttered rye bread, frikadeller- fried meatballs, and one that I know is popular in our house, Danish butter cookies!  In fact, our neighbor gave us a 5lb. (!!) tin of butter cookies last Christmas and we ate all of them!!  Funny how 5 lbs. of cookies translated into 10lbs. on the scale.  But I digress. 

We have a great recipe for authentic Danish butter cookies that my friend Carla gave to me.  Her Danish grandfather made them in his bakery and now we can make them in our own home!!  Thanks Carla (and you will thank her too after you try them) but before dessert we need to eat our dinner.  We are preparing a pork loin stuffed with prunes and apples, the delicious gravy it makes will go over some boiled potatoes and on the side some sweet and sour cabbage.  I have been assured that this is a very Danish meal.  I hope you enjoy.....

Pork Loin stuffed with Prunes and Apples
recipe found online at
For the recipe you will need:

  • 12-15 pitted prunes (or dried plums as they are called now)
  • 1 large tart apple- cored and cubed and sprinkled with a little lemon so it doesn't discolor.
  • 1 boneless pork loin- about 5 lbs.
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine (I used what I had, I don't know if it was "dry" or not)
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp. red currant jelly
  • kitchen twine
  • salt and pepper
1.  Plump up the prunes by placing them in a bowl with some boiling water for about 30 minutes.  Drain and pat dry.

2. With a sharp knife cut a deep slit in the pork loin almost all the way down the length of it.  Season with some salt and pepper and stuff it with the prunes and apples.  Tie it back together with some kitchen twine.
3.  Preheat the oven to 350°
4.  In an ovenproof pot that is just big enough to hold the meat, heat the butter and oil and brown the pork roast on all sides.
5.  When it's browned, remove the fat (spoon or turkey baster) and add the whipping cream and wine to the pan.  Cover the pan and place in preheated oven.
6.  Cook about 1 hr (maybe a little more) until the meat is about 145°.  I over did my meat because I followed the directions that said 1 and 1/2 hours- still tasty but tougher, oops.
7.  Take the meat out of the pan and bring the liquid to a boil on the stovetop.  Boil until mixture is reduced to 2 cups.  Add the red currant jelly and add some salt and pepper to taste.
8.  Carve your roast into 1" slices and serve with some boiled potatoes and vegetable of your choice.  We served ours with sweet and sour cabbage.  I'm not sharing the recipe but there are hundreds of them on the internet.

As I mentioned, I overdid my pork loin, but even tough it was still pretty good.  I thought the filling was a bit sweet but it looked nice.  The gravy was really good though!!  Sweeter than most gravies, because of the red currant jelly, with a very unique flavor.  The kids both ate it with delight and even asked for more!!!!!!  My daughter proclaimed my simple boiled potatoes with Danish butter (cost me $6!) "the best potatoes I've ever made"- must've been that butter.
This meal was pretty fancy and I think I used every pot and pan in the house, but I could see myself making an unstuffed pork loin in the sauce again in our future.  

And now since you were so good and ate your dinner....

Carla's Danish Butter Cookies
For the recipe you will need:

  • 1 1/2 lb. butter- room temp.
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 7 cups flour
  • more sugar for rolling
1.  Cream together the butter and sugar.  Not until "fluffy" just until combined well. 
2.  Add the 2 eggs and mix until combined.
3.  Add the 7 cups of flour and mix until incorporated.  I used my hands to really smush it all together.
4.  Divide the dough into 4 blobs and roll them into logs. 
5.  Sprinkle some sugar on your work surface and roll the logs in the sugar.  Put them into the refrigerator to firm up.
6.  When they are firm, slice the logs into 1/2" slices and put on cookie sheet.

7.  Bake in preheated 375° oven for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. 

OMG!  These are simple but TASTY cookies. Buttery and sweet but not too sweet.  Very similar to the shortbread cookies that we made for Scotland.  They made a great snack and got raves from everyone who tried them.  Be warned that the recipe makes a LOT of cookies, but I don't see why you couldn't freeze the logs and use them when the desire for a cookie (or 12) strikes.  Thanks again to Carla for sharing her family recipe!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

On the Menu: Jamaican Food

What a jerk!

No, I'm not talking about my husband- he's the greatest guy around.  I am talking about the Jamaican recipe of Jerked chicken/pork/goat that is one of their most famous dishes.  It's a dish that has been made for hundreds of years.  Basically the meat is marinated with garlic, herbs, allspice and one of the hottest peppers, the hot scotch bonnet.  The meat is then grilled.  In the time of the Arawak tribes, this would dry out the meat and help to preserve it, now it's just a delicious, flavorful way to prepare meat. So, of course, we had to try it.

Ackee fruit
  I would've tried the national dish, Ackee and Saltfish, but ackee (a fruit/vegetable that resembles scrambled eggs when cooked) isn't easy to come by and is supposed to be poisonous if not prepared correctly.  I don't like dangerous food so I went in search of a homemade jerk sauce.  I found this one on and liked the fact that it used rum in the sauce. 
The Scotch Bonnet Chile Pepper- BEWARE!
I couldn't find scotch bonnet chile peppers (and probably couldn't handle the heat) so I used a serrano.  Anyway here is the recipe, in Jamaica it is used on every type of meat or fish you can imagine, but I used chicken and pork.  It makes a lot of marinade, BTW, if you mix the dark rum with some lime juice and diet coke it makes a very tasty beverage :)

Jamaican Jerked Chicken and Pork
For the recipe you will need:

  • 3 oz. dark rum
  • 6 oz. beer or other liquid (orange juice would probably be good)
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 2 T minced ginger
  • 1 scotch bonnet chile pepper or other pepper- minced
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh marjoram (I used dried)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 bay leaves
  • chicken pieces
  • pork chops
1.  Put all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and add the meat.  Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight if you plan ahead like that- I never do.
2.  Preheat your grill.  The chicken was much thicker than the pork so I put that on first and when it was halfway cooked I added the pork chops.  Grill the meats until cooked thoroughly.  I boiled down the leftover marinade and served it with the meat.

We served ours with some Jamaican coleslaw (which has an oil and vinegar dressing instead of a mayonnaise based one) and some sweet potato fries.  When I was tasting the marinade (before I put the raw meat in), I wasn't sure I was going to like it.  I'm not a big fan of nutmeg it seems.  However, after it was grilled and the sauce was all caramelized, it was really good.  I was afraid to make it too spicy so I used a Serrano pepper and left it rather large, but I wish I had made it a little spicier.  Also, while the rum gave it a nice taste, the beer wasn't noticeable, I think maybe some orange juice would have been really good!!  All in all, it was good but I don't know if it's one of my all time faves.  I must admit, though, that I am really enjoying the rum!!  Yah Mon.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Talking Turkish

Gobble, Gobble?

That's what my daughter said when I asked her if she knew any Turkish words- she cracks me up sometimes.  Anyway the real answer to my question would have been a big N-O !!  I'm not even sure if I've heard it spoken before, but here are a few words for your foreign language lesson this week.....

Hello- Merhaba    Good Morning- Gunaydin    Goodbye- Gule gule
Thank You- Tesekkur ederim    No - Hayir   Yes- Evet
Happy Birthday! - Dogum gunun kutlu olsun!
I Love You - Seni sevi yorum
1- bir   2- iki     3- uc    4- dort     5- bes
6 - altl   7- yedi    8- sekiz    9- dokuz    10- on
black- kara     white- beyaz     red- kirmizi     blue- mavi   
yellow- sari    orange- turuncu    green - yemyesil    purple- mor
pink- pembe
The Turkish word for delicious is "Leziz" and I apologize that I didn't make a recipe for you all this week but it's been so busy around here.  If you are interested in making some of the delicious Turkish food like we ate at Aspendos please check out these web pages- ,,
 they all look pretty good!!

We are going to be out of town for a few days and so next week we will be taking a break from our "travels" and just enjoying ourselves. 

 Have a great week and we'll catch up where we left off!!