Month: April 2010

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Eating Out in Bahrain (Polls)

Hope your week was lovely! Here are a few fun facts about food and culture in Bahrain: – Souqs are the markets in Bahrain: Historically, souqs were held outside of cities in the location where a caravan loaded with goods would stop and merchants would display their goods for sale. Souqs were held when there was a caravan or more available. At that time, souqs were more than just a market to buy and sell goods; they were also major festivals and many cultural and social activities took place in them. Later, due to the importance of the marketplace and the growth of cities, the locations of souqs shifted to urban centers.  (source: Wikipedia) – Rumor has it there are no Bahraini restaurants in Bahrain. Sounds unlikely, but this advice holds true, no matter where you travel: if you want to eat authentic food, go to someone’s house. – Italian and Lebanese restaurants are preferred by locals. – When drinking ‘gahwa’ (Arabic coffee) be sure to shake your cup side to side when you are full. …

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Technique Thursday: Fruit Leather

Let’s just get something out in the open. Fruit Roll-ups are no good. They’ve got corn syrup and hydrogenated oil in them. Take it from me, life is much better if you make the nummy sweet snacks yourself! And I have good news – it’s easy. But you have to promise not to call them Fruit Roll-ups. The proper term for the homemade goodness is fruit leather. Sounds so much more John Wayne, don’t you think? The Basics: 1) Puree Fruit with seasonings and water. (Make the texture like apple sauce. I used an immersion blender.) 2) Smear the puree around on a lined cookie sheet. 3) Dry it out in the oven for several hours (anywhere from 2-8 hours, depending on how watery the mixture is). (If you’re a fancy pants you can use a dehydrator, Or, if you’re mad cool, you can harness the power of the sun, like this gal) 4) Eat, Drink, and be Merry! That’s right, I said drink. You see, in the Middle East fruit leathers are rehydrated in …

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Menu: Bahrain

In the traditional recipes I’ve oggled, Bahraini fuse Middle Eastern cuisine with spices from India. Sounds great to me! I’m always dragging my husband to both sorts of restaurants. How great that I’ll be able to eat both in one bite. I’m particularly looking forward to trying the variation on rice pilaf. Roasted Eggplant Dip (Uukkous Al-Badinjan) [Recipe] A tantalizing blend of roasted eggplant, garlic, olive oil, chili pepper, paprika, lemon juice, and parsley. This reminds me of a spicy baba ganoush, without the tahini. Bahraini Shrimp Balls (Chebeh Rubyan) [Recipe] Shrimp pureed with rice flour, turmeric, and cilantro. The shrimp paste is then formed into balls, stuffed with a seasoned onion mixture and simmered slowly in a chili tamarind sauce. Rosewater Rice Pilaf (Mulhammar) [Recipe] Basmati rice steamed rosewater, cardamom, saffron, ghee, and sugar. Although slightly sweet, this dish is not a dessert, but is served with main courses. Apricot Fruit Leather (Quamar-el-Deen) [Recipe] This “fruit roll-up” is eaten during Ramadan throughout the Middle East. For a variation, the leather can then be dissolved …

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About the food of Bahrain

NOTE: In the time it took me to write this post the temperature dropped ten degrees and fits of rain sporadically fell on Tulsa. Although cold, rainy days are perfect for writing, I couldn’t help but think “Bah, rain.” (I’m working on my mom humor, what do you think?) All 700 square km of the island Kingdom of Bahrain is in the Persian Gulf. Bahrain is made up of many islands (some sources say 33, others say 40). The name means “two waters” and refers to the country’s water sources, salt (from the sea) and fresh (from the springs that bubble up and provide irrigation for crops). Although spring water is available for crops, not much can be grown in Bahrain, so imports are the main source of foods. This also means that Bahrain is particularly susceptible to outside influence on cuisine and culture (such as India who, by international trade,  spread their love of turmeric and tamarind to Bahrain). The kingdom is very well-organized and is considered one of the most modern countries in the Middle East. Their …

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Monday Meal Review: Bahamas

This is meal # 12 in my personal challenge to eat one meal from every country in the world. Our Bahamian feast in a snapshot: An especially nerdy group of writers eating Bahamian food under the stars, vaguely lit by tealights, reading Hemingway to the crickets. I’ve always used the word nerdy as a compliment. To me, a nerd is a person who cares enough to delve deeply into a subject and really get to know it. Quite the opposite of superficial. So, as I was saying, this week I hosted a backyard Bahamian pot luck for my especially nerdy writer’s group. I’ve already told you how much I loved the pot luck we had for Australia. There’s something exciting about seeing what everyone will bring to share. This week was just as great. Here are the contributions: – A Bahamian inspired playlist on her iPod (who says people can’t bring music to a pot luck? What a great idea!) – Various wine – Fresh mango – Carrot cake with pineapple and other goodies tucked …

A "slice" of Mac & Cheese is easy to deal with at a party

Macaroni Pie | Island Macaroni & Cheese

Serves 8-10 This grown-up Mac & Cheese gets its kick from cayenne pepper. Substitute paprika for the cayenne if you prefer non-spicy food. Ingredients: 1 lb elbow macaroni 2 eggs 2 tbsp. butter 1 cup onion, minced 1/2 cup green pepper, minced 1 – 1 1/2 tsp cayenne (mild-hot) 1 lb grated cheddar cheese 1 12 oz can evaporated milk 1/2 tsp salt Method: 1 Boil elbow macaroni for about 5 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and return to pot. 2. Stir in cheddar, pepper, and onion. 3. In a small bowl or measuring cup stir together eggs, cayenne, evaporated milk, and salt. Pour over macaroni and stir to combine. 4. Pour into a greased lasagna pan, spreading evenly with spatula. Dot with butter. NOTE: At this point I refrigerated the macaroni until shortly before I needed it. 5. Bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes and slice into squares. Serve hot.   12345 Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: Rate this recipe! This grown-up Mac & Cheese gets its kick …

Bahamian Conch Chowder, yum!

Red Conch Chowder

Serve 6-8 Bahamian Conch Chowder is light and brothy, not creamy like the famous New England version. Leftovers thicken slightly, due to the starches that leach out of the potatoes. I might actually prefer this chowder the next day. Ingredients: 1 large onion, diced 2 garlic cloves, sliced 1/2 green pepper, diced 1 Anaheim pepper, diced 1 ham bone (I used a smoked ham shank) 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes 4 Tbsp tomato paste 2 carrots, sliced into half-moons 4-5 potatoes, cubed 1 cup clam stock 1 lb conch, diced 1/2 tsp dried thyme 3 bay leaves water, to cover everything Method: 1. In a large pot, sauté onion, garlic, green pepper, and Anaheim pepper, over medium heat until softened. Add ham bone, tomatoes, paste, carrots, potatoes, clam stock, conch, thyme, bay leaves, and water to cover.   2. Bring mixture to a simmer. Simmer covered for at least 2.5 hours, or until conch breaks down and gets tender. I simmered my chowder for 5 hours and all the flavors had melded wonderfully. NOTE: If you try to serve this …

Coconut Bimini Bread, fresh from the oven

Coconut Bimini Bread

  Makes 2 small loaves or 1 large “Pullman” style loaf Coconut Bimini Bread is easy with the help of a bread machine or standing mixer fitted with dough blade. Sweet and doughy, try serving leftover slices in French Toast or Bread Pudding! Ingredients: 2 1/4 tsp instant dry yeast 4 1/2 cups unbleached flour (plus extra , if the dough comes out too wet) 1 tsp salt 1/4 c nonfat dry milk powder 1/3 cup sugar 1 cup coconut milk (if you warm this slightly it will help the dough rise quicker) 3 Tbsp honey 3 Tbsp butter, softened 1/3 cup vegetable oil 3 eggs Method: 1. In the mixing bowl of bread machine add all ingredients in order given. Set on dough cycle (just mixing and rising). The dough cycle usually lasts about 1 1/2 hours. 2. When dough cycle is complete, or dough is approximately doubled in size, remove dough and place in oiled baking pans. I used a Pullman pan, which is quite large (see photo). You can also use two …

Ready for seaside sipping!

Bahama Mama

Makes just over a gallon Cooking a meal for every country in the world makes this mama thirsty! The Bahamas have the perfect solution – a traditional, tropical Bahama Mama. Serve Bahama Mamas chilled, under the hot summer sun. Play around and adjust this recipe to your preferences. NOTE: Some prefer to add unflavored rum for all or part of the rum flavor. You decide for you, below is what I like Ingredients: 1 quart chilled orange juice 1 quart chilled pineapple juice 1/4 cup grenadine 2 cups chilled coconut rum, or to taste Method: 1. In a large pitcher, combine all ingredients. Stir well. Return to refrigerator until needed. 2. Serve over crushed ice. Garnish with orange slices if desired (I completely forgot to do this, but I know you’ll forgive me as soon as you taste this drink ) 12345 Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: Rate this recipe! “Cooking a meal for every country in the world makes this mama thirsty! The Bahamas have the perfect solution – a traditional, tropical Bahama Mama. …

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Once upon a Conch in the Bahamas (Polls)

I know we spent yesterday talking about the lovely slug-like conch, but we’re not quite done. Stay with me. You’re going to love this. You see, I have a mild obsession with children’s stories and it just so happens that there is a Bahamian folk-tale involving a conch. Food often makes its way into folk-tales in interesting ways, and the conch is no exception. Guess what?  The conch is in a race! A race! Oh, the silliness. Let’s remember what a conch looks like: But perhaps this isn’t so far fetched: Jumping Snails! A conch does not just slowly creep along. Instead, it can move in jerks. While most other snails have a broad operculum to seal the shell opening, members of the Conch family have a narrow operculum. Instead of a broad flat foot, a conch has a narrow foot that is strong and muscular. The conch digs its claw-like operculum into the sand and pushes against it to ‘hop’ forwards like a pole-vaulter. Source: Wild Fact Sheets So here’s the story: One day …

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Technique Thursday: Conch

I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be eating the flesh of a giant slug this week (here’s a crazy photo). But that’s probably the yuckiest way to look at the whole thing. In reality, this large creature lives in a beautiful shell (prized by the Victorians I might add) and is happily eaten throughout the Caribbean. Although I had my fears, I quickly learned that proper cooking makes conch (pronounced “konk”) tasty and even worthwhile. (Photo by Pratheep PS) If you aren’t in the Bahamas you’re probably going to have to buy frozen conch (most good fish markets carry frozen conch). The good news? Frozen conch (usually) comes cleaned for you. No icky black stuff, no eyes, just pristine white flesh. I was beyond thrilled to discover this. About the texture: Conch meat is thick and, well, meaty. Things to watch out for: – the flesh should be white. Gray areas indicate age and/or spoilage. – the scent should be clean, even sweet. The conch is no good if it smells strongly of fish. So, you’ve heard …