Month: February 2011


Stuffed Grilled Trout

Serves 2 You’ve seen them at the fish market. Whole trout. Somewhat intimidating, but also intriguing.  Friends, if you’ve never ventured in the world of whole fish, I highly recommend it. Cooking them is beyond easy and the flavor is exceptional. Today we stuff them with peppers, onions, and fresh lemons –  flavors characteristic of Equatorial Guinea. Slightly spicy and super fresh – make this for a special occasion or just for fun. Ingredients: 2 whole trout, cleaned 1/4 cup thinly sliced poblano 1/4 cup thinly sliced onion 4 lemon slices salt pepper Method: First things first. Light a candle. The flickering light is warm and inviting, and does a great job of eating up fish smells. I burn candles daily, fish or no fish. Gather your ingredients and preheat the grill to medium. You won’t need too much onion and pepper, unless your fish are huge. Rinse and pat dry the fish. Then season the cavity with salt and pepper – preferably fresh, coarse sea salt. Add thinly sliced onions and poblanos… for a little …

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Menu: Equatorial Guinea

Yesterday you asked me if I was going to be cooking a monkey head. You asked because I shared a photo of a cooked monkey head with you. Totally understandable. To answer your question – there are two reasons why I will not be cooking a monkey head this week. And I think it’s best I leave those reasons to your imagination. Instead I’m cooking a whole fish and will include the whole head for authenticity purposes. As for the rest? Thankfully, Equatorial Guinea is full of all sorts of wonderful dishes, dishes whose ingredients are easily found in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Check it out… what sounds good to you? Millet Porridge with Ginger [Recipe] Millet flour cooked until thick with milk, fresh ginger and sugar. Finished with a dusting of cinnamon. Or sin, as mom likes to call it. Serve for breakfast. Grilled Stuffed Trout [Recipe] Whole trout stuffed with thinly sliced poblano, onion, and lemons – then grilled until flaky. Hot Curried Okra from Equatorial Guinea [Recipe] Okra cooked with curry, chili powder, and …

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About the food of Equatorial Guinea

My riding instructor invited me hunting when I was 15 years old. The thought of riding through France’s foggy woods seemed romantic, adventurous, and disarmingly elite. I desperately wanted to say yes, but I had a squeamish feeling I just couldn’t shake. Bottom line? I didn’t want to kill my dinner and I didn’t want to watch other people kill their dinner. Thankfully, I didn’t have to. I was surrounded by supermarkets, cafes, street vendors, and – just down from our house – carrot and mushroom farms. I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I said no. The closest I ever got to hunting was to pluck a carrot from the farm. Illegally. It was the biggest carrot I’d ever seen but, thanks to a lack of running water and guilt, it tasted like dirt. In Equatorial Guinea, killing dinner is not always a choice. The rural people are known for hunting and fishing for their dinners because this is the cheapest and most available way to eat. Whole fish [Recipe], crustaceans, and various …

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Monday Meal Review: El Salvador

THE SCENE My first mistake was getting out of bed. My second? Thinking I could cook my way through El Salvador on a stomach bug. There’s something inherently ridiculous about stumbling around the kitchen in pajamas, cooking enough food for a party, the very smell of which is hard to process, yet also insisting on taking photos for the world to see. I mean, really. And then, every fifteen minutes, I just had to call my mom about the latest weird gurgle coming from my stomach. She did a decent job of calming me down – she said it was all going to be ok, just eat some yogurt. You know, to help build up my tummy’s “live active cultures.”  Which sounded terrible, yuck, no good… but, hey, it works. Hours later I’d survived El Salvador but – when the last pot was put away – I was pretty sure I’d never get out of bed again. Eventually, however, I did get out of bed again. Why? To eat the leftovers. After all – stomach bug or not – …

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Creamy Sweet Corn Drink | Atol de elote

Serves 3 In El Salvador, Atol is made with fresh corn kernels, milk, cinnamon, and sugar. My version is simplified for the home cook – but if you have the time, and if it is in season, cut the corn straight off the cob. Do it while listening to Salvadoran music, just because. Ingredients: 1 lb frozen corn, thawed 2 cups milk 1 cinnamon stick 1/4-1/2 cup sugar extra milk, as needed ground cinnamon for garnish Method: Add golden nuggets of goodness to a medium pot. Balance a cinnamon stick on top. Pour milk over the cinnamon stick… and click on the heat. While the milk is coming to a simmer, pour on the sugar. (If you don’t have a crazy wild sweet tooth, just add 1/4 cup. Also, if your corn is ultra sweet you may not need so much). Give everything a buzz with an immersion blender. Simmer about 15-20 minutes, then strain out all the fibers and yucky bits. Put those in your garden. Reheat the strained mixture if it cools down …

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Salvadoran Pickled Cabbage Slaw | Curtido

Makes 1 giant bowl. Vinegar lovers unite! With very little effort you can have this Salvadoran slaw at your next barbecue or gathering. To be authentic, serve slightly “pickled” – about 1-3 days after making it. This should be vinegary and with the slightest hint of heat. Serve with pupusas. Ingredients: 1 cabbage, cored and sliced thinly 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly 2 carrots, grated 1 tsp dried oregano 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 1/4 cup white wine vinegar 1/8 cup olive oil salt and pepper, to taste (I put in 2/3 tsp salt) Method: Time to get out all your aggression on some red onion, cabbage, and carrot. Chop, chop, chop like there’s no tomorrow. Well really… slice thinly. Chopping is a bit too coarse for this recipe. When you’re done, mix the vinegar with olive oil, red pepper flakes and oregano. Add a little water if desired (maybe 1/8 cup) and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the veggies. Toss and refrigerate for 1-3 days. It gets better and better and … …

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Salvadoran Quesadilla | Sweet Breakfast Cake

Makes 18-22 cupcakes Don’t expect cheese and tortillas. Instead, think poundcake. Think party food. Think happy mornings, popping a few too many quesadillas in your mouth. In El Salvador they eat rich, buttery quesadillas in the morning with a big cup of coffee and I suggest you do the same. You’ll love the slight crunch of the sesame seeds in combination with the sweet/salty cake. I’m proud to say that this recipe was awarded First Place in food52‘s Gluten-Free Baking Competition. Best served with dulce de leche and a cloud of whipped cream. Ingredients: 1 cup rice flour 1 tsp baking powder 1 pinch salt 1 cup butter 1 cup sugar 3 eggs 1 cup sour cream 1/2 cup grated hard cheese, like cotija (parmesan can be substituted) sesame seeds, to taste Method: Get your baking shoes on! You’re about to whip up a batch of Salvadoran goodness. Gather your ingredients, then preheat the oven to 350F. Whisk together the rice flour, baking powder, and salt. Meanwhile, in a standing mixer, cream the butter with …

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Drinking & Dancing in El Salvador

Elegance turns to a sloppy muddled mess in the Salvadoran danza de los chapetones. On purpose. For giggles. The satirical dance begins with thirteen dancers, 12 men and a woman. All are elegantly dressed – the men represent Spanish nobles, wearing suits with fancy hats, the woman represents the Spanish queen, wearing a crown and white wedding dress. Which all makes sense once you realize El Salvador was once a Spanish colony. The satire begins as a waltz, wickedly exaggerated. As the dance continues, the queen tipples chicha into the dancer’s cups – a sweet local booze made from maize, panela, and pineapple – over and over again. With each sip the dance becomes sloppier, rowdier, and – eventually – downright wild. Have you ever had chicha? If not, would you try it? Source: Lonely Planet & others Photos: Folklor de El Salvador, Dtarazona

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Cheese Pupusas |Pupusas de Queso

Makes 6-10 pupusa Take a big bite of El Salvador with cheesy pupusas. Many locals eat pupusa several times a week – some are filled with beans, others meat. But, no matter how you fill it, there’s an art to shaping the mighty pupusa. Here’s Martha Stewart’s demonstration: Here are four things I wish I knew when I got started: Make your dough fairly moist. Play with the consistency. You don’t want a lot of cracking on the edges. The one Keith is holding is perfect. My others (pictured in the recipe) were a little dry and as a result, not so great. Rub vegetable oil on the pupusa before you put it on the griddle. This will keep it from – ahem – drying out. It will also give it a pretty, golden color. The one Keith is holding is nice and golden. The others are pale because I forgot this step. Make the pupusa thinner for a cheesier effect. Use salt. It really pulls the flavors together. By making sure I did …

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Menu: El Salvador

El Salvador is calling my name but I can’t go, no matter how badly I want to. We just dug ourselves out of a 14″ snowstorm that sent Tulsa to a screeching halt. The newspaper didn’t print, milk has been missing for days, and – someone help us – we’ve got another 5-10 inches coming. At times like these, I find “denial” to be a fairly decent coping mechanism. So, if you need me, I’ll be tucked away, under comforter, spooning Salvadorian food into my mouth, waiting for the snow to melt. Cabbage Slaw (Curtido) [Recipe] Crunchy cabbage mixed with shredded carrots, and red onion. Toss with vinegar, olive oil, oregano, and red pepper flakes to make a classic Salvadorian side dish. Pupusa with quesilla [Recipe] Thick corn tortilla packet conceals a melted layer of quesilla, or soft melting cheese. Serve with salsa on the side. Atol (corn drink) [Recipe] There are many ways to make this traditional central american drink. Ours is quick and dirty – and uses fresh corn, cinnamon, and sugar for …

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About the food of El Salvador

Do you like colorful birds? What about ruins – ancient, gothic, and colonial? Step right this way. Meet El Salvador, a tiny country freckled with mighty volcanoes, thickly coated by lush tropics, and so much more. In this steamy dreamland, I discovered a theme: corn. First, there’s pupusa – thick corn flour (masa) based tortillas stuffed with cheese, meat, or beans. Pupusas [Recipe] are often served with a bright, vinegary scoop of curtido [Recipe], or cabbage slaw, and fresh salsa. Then, there’s a corn drink called atol [Recipe]. Made with fresh corn, sugar, cinnamon and milk, it’s so rich you’ll think you’re drinking sweet custard, and you’ll be just as happy. And, finally, let’s not forget riguas, a moist mixture of corn (rather like tamales), spooned onto a banana leaf and griddled until firm enough to handle. Whew. And then there’s the produce. Mounds and mounds of gorgeous tropical goodness. Vivid. Fresh. Fabulous. Just look at this lady. She knows she’s got a good thing going on. Still hungry? No worries. There’s more at the Salvadorian …

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Monday Meal Review: Egypt

THE SCENE We huddled together on the couch – three big geeks – faces glowing in the flickering light. It was Mr Picky, myself, and our friend Janine. Ava was asleep for the night. In fact, she’d been asleep for hours and hours and hours. The coffee table was loaded up with platters of Ful Medames, White Coffee, and a box of kleenex – just in case. Now, before you get the wrong idea, I should state that I’m not normally a TV person. I was raised without it. My mother kept hers in the closet. My foster parents had a no-TV-unless-you’re-on-vacation rule. Times were tough. Today? I live wild and free, by my own rules. And my own rules clearly state that I am allowed to occasionally stream Netflix to my otherwise functionless TV. So there we were, living wild and free, watching our biggest guilty secret, Roswell. Have you heard of it? It’s a show about teenagers, romance, and aliens. In no particular order. From 1999. So, why Roswell? I love watching the characters strain towards …

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