Month: March 2011

MrPicky

Monday Meal Review: Fiji

THE SCENE: I knew it was time but I secretly hoped to fail. “Can I help you?” the fishmonger asked. He was bright eyed and eager. His apron was starched. “I am making ceviche and need a very fresh piece of Mahi-Mahi.” Please, oh please, I thought, scanning the fish case. Please let him say they don’t have any. “We don’t carry sushi-grade fish,” he said, shaking his head. He looked genuinely disappointed. “Oh, ok. Well, thanks anyway” I turned on my heel, giving Ava a little wink. But, before I could step away, another  voice called out – “You don’t need sushi-grade fish to make ceviche.” I cautiously looked back over my shoulder. His name tag said Josh. He was a little scruffier than the first guy, maybe a few years older, and he was definitely not wet behind the ears. I turned to face him. He repeated himself “You don’t need sushi-grade fish to make ceviche. You just need really fresh fish.” He picked up a slab of mahi mahi and brought it right up to his nose. …

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Polynesian Coconut Bananas

Serves 4 People all over Polynesia eat this rich, sweet dessert. It’s uber simple to throw together – just take care to not overcook the bananas, lest they become mushy. Mushy is a big time banana fail. I never met anyone who loved mushy bananas. Do you? TIP: This amount of coconut milk can easily cook more bananas – perhaps up to 8 small red bananas. I only needed 4 for our small family though. Ingredients: 4 small red bananas or 2 regular bananas 1/4 tsp salt (or just a pinch) 1/3 cup sugar 1 (13.5 oz) can of coconut milk Method: Are you a coconut fanatic? Good. Get ready! In a saucepan big enough for your bananas, add coconut milk, sugar,… … and a little salt. Bring this lovely mixture to a simmer and stir to dissolve sugar. Add the bananas (you can use whole bananas or slice them in bite-sized pieces). Simmer gently for 2-4 minutes (do not overcook or the bananas will become mushy). You really just want to warm them through. …

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Fijian Coconut Ceviche | Kokoda

Serves 4 (as an appetizer) Until Kokada entered my life, ceviche was uncharted territory for me. Raw fish dishes are definitely not native to my hometowns – Boston, Atlanta, Paris, or Luxembourg – they’re really more of a tropical item. (Is it weird to say I have more than one hometown? It’s all I know…) I had my reservations about consuming raw fish in landlocked Tulsa, Oklahoma – but, after taking a big sniff, the fishmonger assured me the mahi-mahi was fresh. What a flavor sensation it is – mild fish swimming in a blast of tart lime juice and cloaked in creamy coconut milk. I added a bit of hot pepper to give even more dimension, but you can use regular green peppers if you’d prefer. TIP: Ask your fishmonger to skin the fish and remove its bloodline. TIP 2: If you have leftover coconut milk from a can, use it to make some Grilled Corn with Coconut Milk. Ingredients: 1/2 lb fresh mahi mahi (skinned & bloodline removed) 2 limes, juiced 1/4 tsp …

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Fiji teaches: what food would be on your flag?

Do you ever, in the midst of clipping your fingernails, start wondering about the meaning of life? Do you ever, while tweezing those stray hairs, start wondering “who am I, anyway?” Do you ever, while watching a movie, start thinking about what food your soul might be made up of? The other night we watched “Cold Souls,” an offbeat film about the possibility of removing the soul and freezing it until needed again. The main character (played by Paul Giamatti) extracts his soul only to find out it looks exactly like a chickpea. A chickpea. It made me laugh. Then, rather abruptly, I stopped laughing. “Wait a minute,” I thought “What food might mine be made of?” A flood of possibilities crossed my mind- basically my favorite foods – but none seemed suitable. Basalmic vinegar is too tart and runny, artichokes are too prickly at heart, garlic is too stinky. I simply couldn’t decide. Fiji’s Answer One look at Fiji’s flag and I could tell – they’ve already figured out their answer. But they didn’t …

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Fijian Curried Corned Beef

Serves 6-8 I’ll be honest – I’ve spent the better part of my life avoiding corned beef. It seemed messy, unwieldy, and way too, well,… meaty. Global Table has a way of taking me out of my comfort zone, though. Turns out this one pot dish is super easy and wickedly tasty. Today we’re making a Fijian version. Their special twist is a hearty helping of curry powder. If you’d like to make it even more Fijian, try swapping the potatoes with taro root and/or chunks of yucca. Also, Fijians would typically make this dish with canned corned beef – but I wanted to go the extra mile for Saint Patrick’s Day! Thanks Fiji. Ingredients: 4 lb piece of corned beef 1-2 Tbsp Homemade Curry Powder water, to cover 2 onions, cut in large chunks 2 large carrots, cut into 1.5 inch pieces 6 medium potatoes (yukon gold), quartered Method: Get a pot large enough to hold your meat (and, eventually, all your veggies). If I had a big cast iron pot, that’s what I …

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Homemade Curry Powder

Makes about 1/4 cup Curry powder isn’t just for India anymore. Fijians, all the way in Polynesia, also love the golden goodness. I took a look at Mark Bittman’s curry recipes (he has three different ones in The Best Recipes in the World), and made a version which combines the best of his fragrant curry and mild curry. The result? An all-purpose curry that will taste great on almost anything. Except maybe ice cream. This version ended up quite a bit different than Bittman’s, most notably because of a little extra cardamom and a bit less fennel seed. I’m just not that into fennel. If you’d like more heat, try mixing in extra cayenne until you get a blend you like. If you want bonus points, toast and grind each spice individually – you’ll be able to toast the spices more evenly and you’ll also have better control of the grind. You know… unless you have a little Miss Ava to keep up with. Ingredients: 2 tsp black peppercorns 2 tsp ground turmeric 2 tsp coriander seeds …

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Menu: Fiji

“He who plants a coconut tree, plants food and drink, vessels and clothing, a habitation for himself and a heritage for his children.” – South Seas Proverb I love this quotation. Not only does it show the importance of the coconut in the region, but it also shows a deep regard for one’s family and the future. Of course, it also makes me think of sweet Miss Ava. If there were a tree I could plant that would afford Ava all of these same luxuries my hands would be blistered from the effort of digging 500 trees. For now, I’ll have to continue passing on the heritage of our world’s countries, one by one. Fijian Curried Corned Beef & Veggies [Recipe] A hearty pot filled to the brim with potatoes, carrots, onion and corned beef. Oh, and a healthy dose of curry powder, too. Fijians love canned corned beef, but in honor of St. Patty’s Day I went all out and bought a fresh piece of corned beef.  Homemade curry powder [Recipe] Golden, fragrant and mildy …

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About the food of Fiji (a.k.a. how to live a good life)

“Bula” my dear friends. That’s Fijian for “Hello, live life fully.” And I really mean it. I hope you take risks – get the courage to talk to your cute neighbor, be brave enough to speak up when someone is in need, and spread love with every action. Make an effort to look past the superficial. In the wake of the sunami, which set Fiji on red alert this weekend, Fijians certainly were not worried about what brand shoes they were wearing (if they ever worried about this at all). They were cherishing each moment – each second – with family and loved ones. Yes, wake up each morning and say “Bula.” Your conviction will be contagious. And eat some Fijian food while you’re at it. You’ll be delighted by the variety … Fan-curry-tastic Because she was a former British colony, British-ruled Indians came to Fiji and spread a love for all things curry. My eyes almost fell out when I read that they happen to love curried corned beef (you know, what with St. …

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Monday Meal Review: Ethiopia

THE SCENE Popcorn. The final frontier. I traced my fingers along the counter tops, navigating between a giant red bowl and a small plastic bag filled with popcorn kernels. I stopped when I reached the spot the microwave was supposed to be. About this time last year, early one Saturday morning, I had a minor meltdown (in my baby blue bathrobe and fuzzy slippers, no less). I was bleary eyed. My head hurt. All I wanted in the whole, wide world was a giant mug of hot chai tea with milk. I walked into the kitchen and literally couldn’t see the counters for the appliances. Stuff was everywhere. I could almost feel all 3.75 walls of my tiny windowless kitchen closing in on me. I started crying. All thoughts of tea forgotten, I hastily unplugged the microwave, my bread machine, and coffee maker. I began taking them, one by one, to the curb. (If I know how to do anything, it is how to be impulsive and overtaken by emotion.) Mr Picky stumbled into the …

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Ethiopian Lamb & Onion Stew | Awaze Tibs

Serves 2-4 I was a total lamb newb before starting Global Table Adventure – I simply had never cooked it. Sure, I grew up eating it with mint jelly (although the jelly always stayed on my plate, untouched), but the actual process of making a tasty meal out of lamb was a mystery to me. Thanks to our Adventure, it’s becoming rather second nature and this Ethiopian recipe might be my favorite lamb recipe thus far (barely edging out the Roast Lamb from Cyprus). Our recipe is adapted from Laura Kelley of Silk Road Gourmet, a most wonderful author and world traveler. Serve with Injera. Ingredients: 1/8 cup peanut oil 2 red onions, chopped 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated (about 1 1/2 tsp) 3 cloves garlic, crushed 2 tsp berberé 1 cup beef stock 1.2 lbs cubed lamb yogurt, to taste Method: Chop the onions (you can do a large dice or strips) and cook them until golden (10-15 min) over medium high, or until you can no longer stand how good the …

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Stovetop Popcorn

Makes 4 quarts Stovetop popcorn is a must have if you’re looking to replicate an Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Sure, you could pop a bag in the microwave in less than three minutes, but… well… sometimes it’s more fun realizing how much you can do without special gadgets and gizmos. As far as who had more fun with this – me, Mr. Picky, or Miss Ava – it might have been me. I spent most of the time squealing while I waited for the first few to explode… I mean… pop. Also? I ate the most. Ingredients: 3 Tbsp vegetable oil 1/2 cup popcorn kernels salt Method: Popcorn needs to be made in a large pot, so there’s room for all the kernels to pop into white, fluffy snack goodness. It’s a lot like the heart – the bigger our hearts, the more room for all of 0ur emotions to … well… pop into white, fluffy bursts of life. With an open heart we experience so much more. Never let your heart run out of room. …

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How to eat Raw Meat like an Ethiopian (Kitfo)

If one must eat meat raw it is surely best done in this way, for the sauce gives the impression of being hot enough to cook the meat right on the tongue. – Laurens Van Der Post (as quoted in Ethiopia, Cultures of the World by Steven Gish, Winnie Thai, and Zawiah Latif) Van Der Post is talking about an Ethiopian raw beef dish called kitfo (kit-foh).  The sauce is made almost entirely of berberé – the crazy, smoke alarm hot spice blend we made recently – as well as lemon juice and a buttery-good mixture of sautéed peppers, onions, ginger, garlic, and cardamom. And, of course, raw beef. Now, for the moment of truth… would you eat it? Why or why not? Photo: Diádoco

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