Month: October 2011

Ava-eats-Kosovo

Monday Meal Review: Kuwait

THE SCENE: Giving up the Leg There comes a time in every mother’s life when she has to hand over the ceremonial wand, so to speak. When she must forgo eating the glorious chicken leg out of love for her daughter – her daughter who has suddenly decided that dark meat is the new bees-knees, at the ripe old age of 2.45. This was just such a week for me. Miss Ava loved the Machboos so much that she not only ate what was once “my” chicken leg, but she also ate her papa’s too. This was serious. Could it be the seasoning? The browned crackly skin? I’m not sure. But I do know that I may never sink my teeth into a chicken drummette again. I know. I was once my mother’s kid. And my brother Damien and I always took the legs. Always. Even on Thanksgiving. THE FOOD: Machboos [Recipe] What I liked most about this dish: There is genius in the Kuwaiti method of simmering, then roasting the chicken. First, it cooks much …

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Kuwaiti Tomato Sauce | Daqqus

Have you ever noticed how salty tomato sauce can be? I have nightmares about it (my husband has high blood pressure so I need to moderate his salt as best I can).  Making homemade sauce is a great solution. And, let me tell you,  even if you don’t have to watch your salt intake (lucky!), you’ll feel extra epic when you learn how easy it is to make your own sauce. And, while I love a good blast of Italy, today we’re not talking about long, slow-cooked, browned up Italian-style sauce. Today is about Kuwait. Today is about duqqus. It’s easier than skydiving. It’s easier than horseback riding. It’s the opposite of rocket science. Do it and take a lil’ trip to Kuwait today via your stovetop. Ingredients: 3 whole tomatoes 2-3 whole garlic 2 Tbsp tomato paste spicy pepper to kick it up (optional) – I used part of a small poblano 1/4- 1/2 cup water, or as needed to get the blender going Salt Pepper Method: If you have any spicy peppers, this …

Dibis-W'rashi

Kuwaiti PB&J | Dibis-W’rashi

Great things happen when I shut my eyes. Dreams. Day dreams. First kisses. Second kisses. Laughter. But sometimes I don’t even want to blink for fear of missing out on the tiniest bit of excitement. In a split second, bolts of lightening can streak across the sky. Fireworks can transforming into a bouquet of roses and then dissolve. Just one look can tell you everything you need to know, as long as you don’t miss it. Well. Today I’m here to tell you not to blink. We’re at the Kuwaiti Global Table and you’re about to experience Kuwaiti’s answer to the almighty PB&J. But it’s all going to happen very quickly. So. Please. Don’t. Blink. First things first, PB&J is an analogy. It’s really a dip and it’s called Dibis wa’ Rashi. Remove the peanut butter and replace it with sesame butter (a.k.a. tahini). Then remove the jelly and replace it with date syrup – a sweet, black bit of heaven full of potassium and more healthy goods than Mr. Jelly knows what to do with (sorry Mr. Jelly). …

Machboos

Machboos

Certain times call for celebration. Babies. Birthdays. Finding the love of your life. Daydreaming about the love of your life. When a light turns green at the exact right moment, before you have to apply the brakes. For those times, I present Machboos. Take a dive off the deep end with this beloved Kuwaiti dish that boasts warm hits of cinnamon, turmeric, saffron mingled with sweet caramelized onions and raisins. We made ours with chicken, but you can also make it with fish or lamb. If you get a big enough chicken it can feed a happy collection of people (about 4-6). For our version the traditional preparation involves simmering the chicken in fragrant water (which is then used to make the rice). Next, we rub the chicken with more seasoning and pop it in the oven to brown. All kinds of flavor goodness. It took me to happy town, and it can take you there, too. Ingredients: To simmer the chicken: 1 whole chicken 2 bay leaves 1 cinnamon stick 3 cloves 3 cardamom pods …

Kosovo-Menu

Menu: Kuwait

I’m sitting at a café writing about Kuwaiti food. If shut my eyes I can almost imagine I’m in the bustling metropolis of Kuwait City. Kuwaiti culture places great emphasis on entertaining with a plentiful table – being a generous host. This menu, loaded with fragrant, flavorful food, will definitely help you towards ultimate hospitality. Just be sure to begin with a nice coffee and finish with tea. Cat costumes are optional. Today the question is not what sounds good, but what to eat first. That’s what Ava tells me, anyway. She’s hungry. Like a cat. Machboos [Recipe] A large platter of aromatic basmati rice and whole chicken, topped with caramelized onion, raisin and slivered almonds, seasoned with a blend of cinnamon, turmeric and a sour blast of black lime powder. Daqqus Sauce (Kuwaiti Tomato Sauce) [Recipe] You, tomatoes, garlic, hot peppers, a blender and an appetite. It’s love. My Kuwaiti PB&J  [Recipe] My brain went crazy when I ate this. I wonder if yours will, too. Stay tuned for details.  P.S. These recipes and the …

Kuwait City. Photo by  Rajat Kansal.

About the food of Kuwait

Oh my goodness do I need a vacation. I knew it had been a while when Keith told me he still had 8 days to use up this year. Whoops. Bottom line, it’s just too hard to get away right now. So, instead of packing my bags, I read about Kuwait. I looked at the photos, flipped through recipes and began to daydream myself to the other side of the world. Kuwait: on this tiny, sandy country by the sea you’ll find a bouquet of influences. While now rather urban and glimmering, the area was settled after 1700 by nomadic tribes who shifted from a desert lifestyle to a life dominated by the nearby water. Thanks certainly to this history the food reflects traditional Middle Eastern and Persian food, but there are also a few spin offs from their days as a British colony as well as influences from Africa and India. I don’t know about you, but that sounds all good to me. (If you take a look at our world map, you can explore …

Ava-eats-kosovo

Monday Meal Review: Kosovo

THE SCENE: Just Getting There. Friendship is funny. Good friends don’t need much of a reason to get together. On this particular day we decided to celebrate the simple fact that I had a giant wheel of brie. Good enough. Friends gathered, wine poured, and a six person, 3 kid potluck was born (I told you I was making an effort with friends). For two entire days preceding the potluck I worked and reworked the Flija (this week’s traditional Kosovo campfire cake). The better part of 6 hours had been spent hunched over the broiler, browning dozens of layers of batter. My shoulders, my back, my thighs – everything ached. At 5:03, minutes before the first guest arrived, I pulled the flija from the broiler for the final time. It was warm, soft and smelled of tangy kefir, the yogurt-like drink so popular in eastern Europe. My mouth watered but before I could cut into the large layered cake, the doorbell rang. I quickly deposited the hot treat on a trivet and ran to the door. Exactly …

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Beef & Sausage Stuffed Peppers

I love presents. Surprises. Happy faces. So does my daughter. Imagine her ecstatic two-year old delight, then, when her dinner was a lidded present filled with a bounty of rice, sausage and beef? But the real surprise wasn’t her reaction – it was Keith’s. My very own Mr. Picky has been asking for stuffed peppers ever since I made them last week.Who knew this man would fall so hard for a simple stuffed pepper. Who knew he’d be so easy to please. He’s right, though. And, for the record, so is Kosovo – the lovely country that inspired this dish. So pull up a chair. Today we’re feasting on chilly autumnal food. Festival fall food. PS. This recipe is beloved in Kosovo where peppers, tomatoes and eggplants are all stuffed. Feel free to add your favorite herbs. Once you try it, you’ll be hooked. Makes 8-10 small stuffed peppers, or 6 large Ingredients: 1/2 lb ground sausage (pork or chicken) 1/2 lb ground beef 2 large cloves garlic, crushed 1 onion, chopped 1 cup rice, cooked (about …

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Flija

Flija, flija, flija… Have you ever loved someone so impossible that they made you want to tear your hair out? Have you ever known someone who seemed really complicated at the time, but when you really, really think back, you realize they were about simple as it gets – that just maybe you were the complicated one? Have you known someone whose company turns minutes into hours, until you forget hunger in a the wake of good conversation? Do you like to whittle? How about the opposite – slowly adding bits and bits to something until a whole forms? You’ll experience all of the above with Flija. It’s a total workout – mind, body, and soul. I’ll guide you through it. Here’s the deal. Once in a while I make recipes on this blog that take a extra effort, like the twenty layer German Tree Cake (a family favorite). Other times, I make recipes that are incredibly simple but are designed to be as much an activity as they are a meal, like Hungarian Bacon on Sticks (genius). Today I bring …

KosovoMenu

Menu: Kosovo

I found a new favorite quote. It’s about peace, but it isn’t cheesy (something amazingly difficult to come by). In fact, I think this quote really gets at the heart of the matter – at what I’m trying to accomplish here. I’m sharing it today in honor of Wednesday, “hump day” – the day that is neither the beginning of the week, the end of the week or the weekend. It’s the time of the week when everything drags just a little. I’m also sharing it in honor of neither being at the beginning, middle, or end of this Adventure… but steadily plodding on course to finish eating the world for peace in exactly 2 years and 2 weeks. As you’ll read, perhaps steadily plodding away is the only way. Perhaps that’s the way it should be. Here’s the quote: “Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” JFK And here’s a bit of food from Kosovo, shared in the hopes that it’ll …

Desivojca. Photo by Durim Shkodra.

About the food of Kosovo

Kosovo boldly proclaimed independence in 2008. Apparently the deal was highly contentious, but as you know… I’m not here for the politics. I’m here for the food. What does this mean? It means I’ll take any chance I can get to cook food from around the world. So, with that being said – welcome to Kosovo week at the Global Table. Let’s eat! If you weren’t paying close attention when you sat down, you might think you were in America during Thanksgiving. You’ll find a spread of pumpkin pie, meat and potatoes, and – speaking of meat – there’ll be meat, meat, and more meat. Even their traditional beef and rice stuffed peppers [recipe] show up in American cookbooks as “traditionally American.” Did I mention they like meat in Kosovo? While more than one country can certainly have similar traditional food, I find it fascinating that nearly all of southeast Europe shares the affinity for the stuffed pepper with America. (They also stuff eggplants and tomatoes). Then there’s the shopska salad which we made for Bosnia [recipe], …

Ava-eats-North-Korea

Monday Meal Review: North Korea

THE SCENE: My Happily Broken Heart A broken heart occurs when two hearts joined in love tear apart. It could happen slowly or quickly, but like a wishbone, something has to give. If it’s a clean break, it wasn’t love. At least, not for a long time. Sometimes both hearts have a tear, other times just one. Lots of times it feels like a piece was left behind, permanently affixed to the heart of the other. Keith has never broken my heart. Sure, we’ve had our disagreements but I’ve never once felt like he has pulled away enough to tear me up, to break my heart. Ava, however, broke my heart the day she was born. There she was, perfect, tiny and so wonderful. And there I was, completely awash with love. Overwhelming love. I wept as her tiny body struggled to take those first breaths of air. And then,there it was –  she relaxed – her eyes darted around, taking in the light – she was with the world. That’s when the tears came full …