Menu: Kazakhstan


Cabo loved his scraps as much as the next cat, which is why I know he would have endorsed this Kazakh saying: "Meat brings strength, shurpa brings beauty" (as found in Please to the Table). If he could speak, he probably would have used it anytime the grill was on (although he was known to love watermelon, too). I can hear him now: "MMmmmmeow, that smells good. Can I have some? Purrrrlease? You know, the Kazakh's will tell ya - meat brings strength, shurpa brings beauty. … [Read more...]

About the food of Kazakhstan


Last night we had to say goodbye to my sweet kitty Cabo. He was very sick with feline AIDS. I'm feeling pretty low right now, so I hope you understand if I keep this brief. Thankfully, Kazakhstan has fascinating food, so it is a decent diversion from my tired, puffy eyes and splitting heartache. And diversion is exactly what this heartache needs. So let's go for it. Let's talk Kazakhstan. Imagine eating a meal that has elements of Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East all bundled up … [Read more...]

Monday Meal Review: Jordan


  THE SCENE I had a lot of time to think while caramelizing the four giant onions for the mujadddara. Ninety minutes, to be exact. My eyes were puffy and red from the sharp fumes. The scent clung to my hair and clothes. As the onions burned hotter and hotter, they released their juices until they were swallowed up in their own bubbling oniony swimming pool. It took at least 45 minutes for the liquid to steam off. I thought they would never start browning. As I stood there, … [Read more...]

Recipe: Jordanian Inspired Spiced & Grilled Chicken


Serves 4 There was a time when I wasn't a very good cook, but I sure liked to try. Every night I rifled through my spice collection, eventually sprinkling a little of this and a little of that on top of whatever I was making. And when I say a little I mean a little. A speck. A drop. A dusting. My food never had much flavor because I was scared to overdo it. I've since learned (mostly thanks to my time at the Culinary Institute of America) that you need to be brave - bold - … [Read more...]

Arabian Cardamom Coffee


There's nothing as relaxing as sharing a cup of coffee with a dear friend. It helps you celebrate the life you are in. A part of the past. A bearer of the future.  Everything connected. There are even coffee ceremonies organized around this special drink, in which the raw beans are carefully washed before grinding and brewing. To make an extra special pot of coffee, grind the seeds of 3-6 cardamom pods for every 1/4 cup of coffee. Brew as normal - with a smile and a … [Read more...]

Snacktime in Jordan


The weather finally took a turn here, in Oklahoma. Over the course of 24 hours we dropped rather suddenly from 100+F degree temperatures to a rather balmy 70 something or other. I've never been happier. The proof: I did two cartwheels on our freshly cut lawn. I'm guessing it's been at least 8 years since I last did a cartwheel. My hands ended up covered in grass clippings, but it was totally worth it. In the spirit of the perfect picnic weather, I'm sharing an unusual Jordanian … [Read more...]

Recipe: Mujaddara (Lentil & Bulgur Pilaf)


Serves 6 Generosity. When people give it freely you feel loved. Taken care of. Your spirit smiles from the inside out. Your day is instantly better. It's one of the most splendid qualities a person can have. In Jordan, as in many of the region's countries, generosity to strangers is an honored mealtime practice. In times of plenty, the best part of the meal goes to the stranger. Even in poverty the last crumb goes to the hungry stranger. Today we explore Mujaddara - a splendid … [Read more...]

Menu: Jordan


I'm feeling rather minimalist, especially after cooking Japan last week. Thankfully Jordan has plenty of recipes that fit the bill. This week's menu is organized around the beauty of simplicity. Each of our Jordanian dishes celebrates fresh, clean but intense flavors, from caramelized onions in an otherwise simple pilaf, to a few cardamom seeds ground into regular coffee. Even plain chicken breasts can be perked up with a blast of straightforward spices. After all, life is easier when you … [Read more...]