Month: April 2010


Menu: Bahamas

I tried to book a flight for all of us to go to the Bahamas this week, but their capacity was 50. We’ll have to settle for a Bahamian feast instead. Get ready for some down-home cooking, spiked with a little (or a lot) of Bahama Mama! Red Conch Chowder [Recipe] Everyone makes Conch Chowder a little bit different. Our version is made with ham, potato, green pepper, carrot, and celery. Island Macaroni & Cheese (Macaroni Pie) [Recipe] This macaroni and cheese is sliced into squares for serving – perfect for parties. Coconut Bimini Bread [Recipe] Sweet and dense, this bread is flavored with honey and coconut milk. Leftovers are perfect for French Toast. Bahama Mama [Recipe] Sail away with a Bahama Mama. Our version of this famous drink has coconut rum and orange juice.

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About the Food of the Bahamas

Remember this part of Forrest Gump? Well, in the Bahamas, seafood comes any (and every) which way you want it. The most popular seafood treats are the giant, snail-like conch, crayfish, shrimp, and the clawless spiny lobster. Take conch, for example. Typical food shacks keep live conch on hand, cleaning them for each order. Most menus offer boiled conch, crack conch (deep-fried), grilled conch, and steamed conch. Some customers eat the sweet mollusk raw while others prefer it cooked. The creamy white flesh can be  tossed with fresh lime juice, laid on a salad, layered in a sandwich, made into a grilled patty for a burger, or floated in a brothy soup. And in case you were hankering for fish for breakfast, you’re in business. Locals eat seafood for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bubba Gump would be impressed. Not a fish person? There are plenty of other great foods from the Bahamas, many of which are also loved in the US south. Grits and johnnycakes are popular side dishes. Another side dish, Peas n’ Rice is …

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Monday Meal Review: Azerbaijan

This is meal #11 in my personal challenge to eat one meal from every country in the world. “Hey, wait a minute!” Brian said. Startled, I looked from him, to his fiancée, to my husband. We were standing in the kitchen. I was pouring drinks and telling them about the Azerbaijani food we were about to eat. “What?” I asked. Brian didn’t answer immediately; he was scanning my kitchen. I followed his gaze nervously, wondering if I’d missed a spill. The counters were clear. The dishwasher was running. Maybe that was the problem. The dishwasher was a little loud, I thought. “Oh, I’m sorry, I can run this later,” I said, pulling the door open. The rythmic swish of the water stopped suddenly. There was a pause while we shifted in the new silence. “No – where’s the,” and he trailed off, looking at the empty stove top. “The food?” I asked, finishing his sentence, laughing with relief. “It’s  under control.” I pulled a tray of raw lamb kabobs from the fridge and headed to the …

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Sweet Saffron Custard with Rose Water

Serves 4 This dessert combines crunchy almond pieces with creamy custard.  I learned from my Global Table dinner people either love or hate the contrast of texture. Enjoy with hot tea. Ingredients: 3/4 cup slivered almonds 2.5 cups milk 1/4 cup sugar 1 Tbsp butter 1/8 cup semolina 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp rose water pinch saffron, crushed slivered almonds & cinnamon – garnish Method: 1. Finely grind the almonds in the bowl of a food processor. Heat ground almonds with milk and sugar. Bring to a boil, to infuse the almond flavor into the milk. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. 2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, toast semolina in butter, stirring for a few minutes. 3. Add milk mixture to semolina in a smooth, steady stream. Simmer, uncovered for about 15-20 minutes or until thickened like pudding. Add saffron and cinnamon. NOTE: If you let this boil by accident, the bubbles are like volcanos. The lava pudding can give quite a burn. Don’t ask me how I know… 4. Stir in …

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Spiced Meatballs with Pomegranate sauce | Fesinjan Kyufta

Makes 12 large meatballs In this case, spiced means seasoned, not hot. Serve with rice pilaf … or stick on toothpicks for a finger food at a party (just put the sauce in a little bowl in the center). Ingredients: For the meatballs: 3/4 lb ground beef, 85% lean 3/4 lb ground lamb 1 large onion, grated 1 egg 2 Tbsp ice water 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs 1/2 tsp ground allspice 1/2 tsp hot Hungarian Paprika (for mild, increase for hot) 1 tsp dried mint 1 – 1 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp pepper For the Sauce: 2 cup chicken stock 1/2 cup pomegranate concentrate (available at natural grocers) 1/2 tsp black pepper 2 Tbsp honey Method: For the meatballs: 1. Combine onion, egg, water, bread crumbs, allspice, paprika, mint, salt and pepper in a small bowl. 2. Pour onion mixture over ground beef and lamb. Using hands, squish everything around until all the seasonings are evenly dispersed. 3. Chill meatball mixture for an hour. 4. Shape meatballs and place on a foil-lined baking …

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Azerbaijani Lamb Kabob | Lyulya Kabob

Serves 6-8 These spicy kabobs are wonderful for lunch or a light dinner. The cayenne provides medium heat, add up to a 1/2 tsp more to make them spicy. Ingredients: 1 3/4 lbs ground lamb 2 medium onions, grated 4 cloves garlic, crushed 1 tsp ground cumin 2 tsp dried mint 1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 1 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp pepper 1 tsp paprika Optional Accompaniments: Lavash flatbread Pita Bread Sliced red onion sliced tomatoes fresh sprigs of parsley, mint, and tarragon yogurt and/or yogurt sauce Method: 1. In a small bowl, combine grated onion, garlic, cumin, mint, parsley, cayenne, salt, pepper, and paprika. 2. Add ground lamb to a large mixing bowl. Add onion mixture. Knead into the lamb, making sure to evenly disperse the spices and ingredients. 3. Shape lamb onto skewers, making sausage shapes. I found it easier to use 2 skewers per sausage because the meat has a tendency to roll around just one skewer. Flat skewers can help, but I didn’t have any. The …

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Azeri Rice Pilaf with Kazmag

Azeri Saffron Pilaf with Potato Kazmag

Serves 6 I almost didn’t make this pilaf because there were so many steps. I went out on a limb because I figured Azeri’s must know how to cook basmati rice better than me. I was right. This is a great rice dish, buttery and delicately perfumed with saffron. Ingredients: 2 Potatoes 2 cups basmati rice 2 tsp salt 1/4 cup water 2 sticks butter 1 tsp saffron threads, soaked in a Tbsp of hot water. optional garnish: fresh mint leaves Method: For the potato crust: 1. Slice 2 potatoes thinly. Mix water with 4 Tbsp melted butter. Pour into the bottom of a large skillet or pan that has a tight-fitting lid. 2. Line the bottom of the pan with potato slices, fitting them close together without overlapping. Mine overlap a little because the sloped sides of my pan caused them to slide down – the crust still turned out fine, so don’t worry too much about this. 3. Cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, or until the potatoes soften and begin to turn …

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The culture & varied climates of Azerbaijan

About Azerbaijan from Anar GARIBOV on Vimeo. I adore this video! Also: I read the most fascinating fact in this article by Laura Kelley about Azeri food and culture: Like Georgia, Azerbaijan has a wide variety of climatic zones as well. In fact, nine of eleven climatic zones are represented, and in Azerbaijan one can simultaneously see all four seasons just by traveling from one end of the country to the other. High mountains, fertile foothills growing tea and citrus, dry steppes, luxurious forests, and Caspian shores—Azerbaijan has it all! So, in addition to a long history of foreign occupation, a widely varied climate has led to one of western Asia’s most diverse cuisines. Full Article

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For the Love of Plov: Azerbaijan

Sharbat: When the summer sun roasts everything from the birds, to the bees, Azerbaijani enjoy Sharbat drink, a traditional, fruity nectar whose name evokes the refreshing dessert, Sherbet. This drink is chilled, not frozen, however. Popular flavors include pomegranate, cherry, mint, and lemon. The drink can also be flavored with saffron, honey, and basil seeds. Canned soda is gaining popularity, however, threatening to push this homemade drink to the back of dusty shelves. Ovhsala: Ovshala, or rose petal drink, is popular throughout the Caucus. Rose petals are literally plucked from fresh roses, boiled with lemon juice, and sweetened with sugar. Make this drink with your family and friends as a fun summer project, instead of traditional lemonade! Just be sure to use flowers from your garden, not the chemical-sprayed roses from florists and grocery stores. Plov: Azerbaijani enjoy more than 40 kinds of Plov, or rice pilaf. Plov is served at special gatherings, including weddings, and is considered the true test of a cook’s skill. Many include crusts, such as the potato crust, pictured above …

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How to make great meatballs, from any country

Glorious meatballs, bathing in hearty, simmering sauce, can be found all over the world. Some meatballs are a meal unto themselves, requiring a knife and fork, while others are delicate, dainty droplets – more garnish than substance. Although most people enjoy a good meatball, entirely too much effort goes into making them. Intended to be comfort food, even homemade street-food, meatballs should not be an all day affair. Here are my simple tips for how to make great meatballs, from any country. 1. Roast the meatballs, don’t fry them. I’ve ruined at least 4 cute shirts by pan-frying batch, after batch of meatballs. Oil spatters not only ruin shirts, but also burn skin, grease up the stove top, and yellow surrounding walls. Not to mention the time it takes to carefully rotate each meatball. One. By. One. Usually, the little balls get beat up in the process and end up with flat sides, like the skulls of babies who aren’t given enough tummy time. To roast meatballs, all you have to do is lay them on …

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Menu: Azerbaijan

The Azerbaijani table is commonly adorned with flatbread, yogurt, sumac, and fresh herbs. This is because diners scoop meat dishes up into either lavash or pita bread and then top them with these regional “condiments.”  Although a month late, we’re celebrating the spirit of the Azerbaijani holiday “Novruz” by gardening and spring cleaning before our feast. Sides & Condiments: Pita Bread, fresh mint and other herbs, sliced red onion, sumac, and yogurt Rice Pilaf with Potato Kazmag [Recipe] Basmati rice, steamed over a crispy layer of potato slices, then tossed with saffron butter. Laura Kelley’s Green Beans with Azeri Tomato Sauce [Recipe] Laura was kind enough to share this recipe from her cookbook “The Silk Road Gourmet, Volume 1.” Her book was recently nominated for a “golden ladle” in Le Courdon Bleu’s World Media Food Awards. Congratulations, Laura! Fresh green beans are cooked with caramelized onion, then tossed with a creamy, tangy tomato sauce. Spicy Meatballs in Pomegranate Sauce (Fesinjan Kyufta) [Recipe] Ground lamb and beef is mixed with onion, paprika, breadcrumbs, and mint. The …

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About the food of Azerbaijan: Happy Novruz!

I’ve been digging in the dirt lately, planting tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and peas. This is not the first year I’ve gardened, but this is the first year my seedlings survived long enough to be planted in the ground. Last year, out of 48 seedlings, only one lived long enough to eat from. Parsley. The rest died because I planted my seeds too early and was forced to wait to put them in the ground. Without adequate sunlight the seedlings became gaunt and gave up the fight long before they hit 2 inches. This year I became neurotically obsessed with the weather. I waited patiently to plant my seeds until just a month before all danger of frost passed. Things are looking good; I just put the seedlings in the ground. They’re thick and hardy; I’m hopeful for this year’s harvest, although I remain at the mercy of mother nature. Experiencing firsthand how temperamental and fragile vegetable gardening can be gives me an understanding of why so many cultures mark the changing seasons with festivals and …

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