Month: August 2010


About Canadian Food

Canada is so much more than igloos and icicles. We’re talking about the second largest country in the world, after all. Canadian food reflects the tastes of a people living in a landscape as varied as it is massive. There are foggy fishing villages on the eastern shore, towering, razor sharp mountains to the west, and a breathtaking expanse of plains within the heart of this great country. Peppered with about two million lakes, there’s no end to the wildlife and fish available. The country is experiencing a similar real food movement to the United States, celebrating local produce, farmers and manufacturers in an effort to support local economy. The effect on the food scene includes restaurants featuring many farmstand delights, such as local cheese, fruits and vegetables, like sweet blueberries, tart cranberries, and juicy summertime tomatoes served in dishes like Butter-Roasted Tomatoes. Some prized locally grown products include wild rice and fiddlehead ferns. Canadian wild rice is black as night and at least three times as long as regular rice (a very distant cousin). …

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Monday Meal Review: Cameroon

I’ve said it before, but this time I mean it. I’m never buying catfish again. Ever. Not in a million, billion years. Store-bought catfish has to be the fishiest, funkiest, stinkiest fish on this planet – which should be a crime because I know catfish is perfectly capable of being sweet and tender. You see, my father-in-law, Rick, catches catfish from deep within the lakes of Oklahoma. Before the water has a chance to drip down the fish’s fins, he fillets, salts, and bags them. Sometimes he freezes them. He packs the catfish in salt to draw out the natural bitterness and to enhance the fish’s more delicate flavors. When he’s ready to get cooking, he rinses and dries the fillets before dunking them in a tasty combination of flour and Jiffy mix (which adds just the faintest sweetness to the crust). When he serves up a platter of deep fried catfish coated in a crackling Jiffy cornbread crust, I get weak in the knees. I eat more than my fair share. Like six fillets. …

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Easy Peanut Butter Croissants | Groundnut Croissants

Makes 8 mini Peanut Butter Croissants Peanut butter rolled up into a steamy hot croissant – the ultimate snack, perfect with breakfast, lunch or dinner. While you are welcome to use homemade croissant dough, I had to take a short cut – it was one of those weeks. We’ll call this fast food for the home cook. I guess you could say that my super-cook is giving way to super-mom. There was a time when I made my very own croissants from scratch. And I’ll surely do it again, once Ava gets a little bigger and I can borrow her muscles to roll out the dough. For now, thank goodness for all-natural convenience products, like Immaculate Crescent Rolls. Ingredients: 1 package refrigerator crescent rolls (or make your own croissants with the amazing recipe in Tartine, as recommended by David Lebowitz) 8 tsp of peanut butter (1 tsp per roll) Method: Preheat the oven to the temperature indicated on your Crescent roll tube. Gather your ingredients… Roll out the dough into neat little triangles and spread with a thin layer …

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West African Peanut Sauce

Makes 3/4 cup Mild heat with a nutty blast, this West African inspired peanut sauce is straightforward. This recipe lacks the bright flavor acquired from a splash of vinegar you might find in Asian peanut sauces. Vegetarian/vegan Ingredients: 1/2 cup peanut butter (natural, not sweet) 1 Tbsp tomato paste 3/4 cup water pinch of cayenne pepper red palm oil Method: Heat oil over medium. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper. You can always add more at the end, if you can handle the kick! Toast the cayenne in the oil for thirty seconds, until fragrant. Then add in the peanut butter. A little water will help you stir things around, and make a smooth sauce. Add in some tomato paste. I’m in love with the squeeze tubes of tomato paste, making it easy to use just a little. Cook on low for a few minutes and season with salt, as needed. Serve on the side in cute ramekins, with a big smile … OR pour directly on your food – chicken, fish, rice, … whatever …

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Corn with Plantains

Serves 4 Corn with plantains is a common pairing in West Africa. Add a little heat with your favorite hot pepper, or use regular bell peppers. Our version is vegetarian/vegan. Ingredients: 1 tsp red palm oil 1 lb fresh or frozen corn 2 yellow plantains 1 chili pepper (I used a poblano from my garden that turned red), diced 1/2 cup water Method: Heat up a little oil in a medium pot. Chop up a couple of plantains… … and add them with the corn. If you’re using hot peppers, add them now. I like how they give a little splash of color in a sea of cream and gold. Add enough water to keep everything from sticking on the bottom. I like to think of water droplets as fairy grapes. Simmer, covered until everything is cooked and the plantains are tender, about 30 minutes. Makes a tasty side dish – great for a potluck or dinner party. 12345 Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: Rate this recipe! Print Recipe Corn with plantains is a common …

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Fried Fish

Serves 3 Fried fish is a common food around the world. At its best this dish is crispy with a moist, flaky interior. The secret to great fried fish is to preheat the oil completely before adding the fish. Also, dredging the fish in a little flour ensures a golden, crispy surface. You can use any fish, just watch the thickness – thin pieces will cook up in a flash. Ingredients: 3 fish fillets (we used catfish) 1/4 cup flour 1 tsp pepper 1 tsp salt Method: In a large plate, stir together flour, pepper, and salt. Dip fish into the flour, lightly coating both sides. Shake off excess. Heat up enough oil to come up the sides of the pan about 1/4″ When hot (your flame should be around medium/medium-high), add fish. You can test to see if its ready by dripping a tiny drop of water in the pan. If it sizzles, it is ready. I love the sound of sizzling oil. Cook on each side until golden brown. Drain over paper towels to remove …

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Oils and Seasonings in Cameroon (with poll)

Cameroon’s name derives from the Portuguese word for shrimp. Speaking of shrimp… When Ava was a newborn we called her shrimp and the basket she napped in we called her “shrimp basket.” She is the sweetest thing I’ve ever laid eyes on. I could just eat her up. Nom nom. We propped our little shrimp up by 5 gazillion blankets and one boppy (never unattended, mind you). Pretty cozy for a shrimp basket. Yawn. ZZZzzz. She did a lot of that those first weeks. That’s right. I’m one of those moms. I’ll talk/love/gush/ramble on about my baby Ava any chance I get. Thanks, Cameroon for giving me a reason to talk my daughter. Ok, back on topic. Different oils are available in Cameroon’s varied regions: generally red palm oil in the south and sesame in the north Country onions are used for seasoning along with garlic and hot peppers, usually habenero. The small country onion (the bulb is about the size of a large grape) adds a smoky garlic note to food.

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Mango Daiquiris

A puckering combination of tart and sweet, the frozen Daiquiri blends ripe fruit, rum, and fresh lime juice with a mountain of shaved ice. This slushy sip of paradise makes it five o’clock everywhere. It’s true. I’ve tested it myself. The original daiquiri from the early 1900’s was nothing so complicated – a plain, stout mixture of sugar and lime juice poured over (or shaken with) ice. Over the years, the drink gained popularity and traveled around the world from Cuba to Cameroon. Today we honor Cameroon’s wonderful mango groves with a flexible recipe for a frozen Mango Daiquiris. You’ll see the proportions generally say “to taste.” This is because some like it strong with a little ice, while others don’t want any alcohol, but enjoy a great amount of ice. By leaving the mango and lime quantities static, everything else is easy to play with. My goal is to provide you with basic guidelines to get you poolside with your favorite drink, as soon as possible. So grab your blender. Let’s play! Makes up to 1 …

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Menu: Cameroon

My husband about climbed the walls with excitement when he found out we were making Groudnut Croissants (well, there was a five second delay, until he realized that by “Groundnut Croissants” I meant croissants spread with ooey gooey peanut butter). Who wouldn’t? Peanut butter rolled up into a steaming croissant? Yes please! Our Cameroonian menu represents a crossroads of cultures and traditions. With elements of West African and French cuisine, the simple recipes below are easy to prepare and full of flavor. Particularly that peanut-buttery croissant! Fried Whole Fish [Recipe] Fish is an affordable and readily available source of protein in Cameroon. Regional fish include Tilapia, Catfish, Carp, and Snapper. West African Peanut Sauce [Recipe] Peanut butter and cayenne pepper join forces to create a simple sauce for any dish. Corn with Plantains [Recipe] Fresh or frozen corn stewed with sweet plantain. Peanut Butter Croissants (Groundnut Croissants) [Recipe] Croissant dough spread with peanut butter, rolled up and baked until golden. Mango Daiquiris [Recipe] Fresh mango, lime juice, sugar, and rum.

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Photo courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

About the Food of Cameroon

Wild bush meat and French pastries. If you’re going to stereotype Cameroon, that’s just about the best way to do it. This unusual food combination stems from Cameroon’s origins, in 1961, when this African country formed from the union of two colonies, one British and one French. Like most coastal African countries, the people on the shore towns of Cameroon rely on fish, serving them up grilled, fried (recipe), steamed in banana leaves, or stewed with plantains, corn, yams, or beans on the side. One typical dish is corn cooked with plantains (recipe). Further inland, dinnertime gets a little more bizarre, as mice, snakes, and monkeys are hunted in the bush and stewed with a little water, tomato or peanut sauce. Most meals are served with fu-fu (soft, starchy mixtures pounded into a paste – often cassava), millet, or rice. Peanuts, called groundnuts in Africa, are particularly plentiful in this region. They make their way into sauces, stewed vegetables (like bitterleaf greens), breads and desserts. Spicy peanut sauces are poured over fried fish, chicken, and meat …

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Monday Meal Review: Cambodia

We had a fantastic long weekend in Virginia. The temperature never even got close to 104F. We visited family, swam on the beach, helped Ava build her first sandcastle, and ate like royalty. When I say royalty, I mean it. My sister-in-law made breakfast, lunch, and dinner for up to twelve people every day. On real plates. That woman is a superhero. Her sidekick, my brother Chris, isn’t so bad either. And then. Reality check. We came back to Oklahoma with nothing but a few pickled limes to greet us. It was time to get cooking, or Cambodia would pass us by. Grilled Corn with Coconut Milk [Recipe] What I liked most about this dish: I am always looking for new ideas for corn. This concept is a win-win-win – tropical coconut flavor, simple preparation, and a real conversation piece at the family barbecue. If you chill the coconut milk in the fridge, it thickens up (like mud) and spreads onto the corn better. What I liked least about this dish: While the coconut milk stays …

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