Month: April 2012


Monday Meal Review: Monaco

THE SCENE We have this crazy obsession, this culture of ours, with recording our memories. You’ve seen it before: a waiter delivers a beautiful meal to the table and, instantly, four cellphones fly up to “capture the moment.” A minute later the photos are uploaded to Facebook. Suddenly, no one is paying attention to their beautiful dinner anymore – instead they’re busy checking for likes and comments on Facebook. It’s as if our experiences are somehow not valid if we don’t snap a quick picture to immortalize them. It’s as if we can no longer sit in the present and simply enjoy “being.” I’m as guilty of this as the next person. This week my good friend Chad came for a visit. We’ve been friends for the better part of a decade – from way back in my pre-Okie life.  We weren’t expecting his company but, then again, no one ever expects Chad. He blows in like the wind. We had three days notice – he was just driving through from one big city to …

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Cognac n’ Herb Tapenade

Introducing the black diamond of Monaco: Tapenade. She glitters in the night. She belies the briny bite of the absolutely fabulous. But here’s the thing. She’s also, not so secretly, rustic. This dip and crostini topper has its origins in the grassy hills of Provence. Love for this treat spills over into Monaco and parts of Italy. While many people pulverize their blend to a paste (with a mortar and pestle or even a food processor), I prefer a rustic, coarse mixture. I like seeing the capers and slices of olives. I like seeing bits of herbs. So all I do is run my knife through the ingredients a few times. The choice is yours but, either way, this mixture tastes grand – dressed up with cognac, capers, and a sprinkling of rosemary and thyme. Serve at the beginning of your next garden party, on crusty, toasted baguette, spread on crackers, with cheese as an hors d’ouvre. And be sure to raise a glass to Provence and even sunny Monaco. Ingredients: 1/4 cup capers 2-4 anchovy …

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Chickpea Crepes | Socca

I am ready for a day-dreamy sort of day. One where I walk along the pier and smell the salty, ocean air…  On this easy-breezy day I’ll nibble  bits of crispy socca – an olive oil and chickpea based crêpe popular along the riviera. On this day I do not stumble. I do not stain my shirt. Nothing I say sounds silly and I’m free of heartache. Yes, there are days when a crêpe can do this for you… …especially if enjoyed in glitzy Monaco, with diamonds on the soles of your shoes. The bonus? This recipe is gluten-free. While the gluten-free craze has infiltrated popular culture, there are some segments of the world that have eaten this way for generations. Mostly thanks to dishes like socca. Along the Mediterranean coast socca is the go-to street food, enjoyed hot, out of hand, while walking around, listening to the  the caw of gulls. While laughing. While smiling at the clouds bumble by. I shared this treat with my friend who’d recently been to Sicily, where he said he …

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Candied Cantaloupe & Cherry Almond Tart | Galapian

. Very rarely does a dessert glisten as brilliantly as the Galapian. She’s like unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before – slices of candied cantaloupe enrobed with a light almond cake, studded with brilliant maraschino cherry drops and glazed with lavender honey. . This movie star of a dessert was invented in 1994 by Alain Bouchard in Apt, a region of France near to Monaco. While a relatively new invention, it has all the glitz and glamour that is so enjoyed by the Monégasque. . While relatively easy to prepare, this dessert brings even the fussiest gourmands to their knees. Try it for a bridal or baby shower, or maybe just an afternoon sitting by the shore, sipping sweet muscat wine (as recommended by Bouchard). . Instant glamour. . Absolutely Fabulous. Inspired the World Cookbook for Students. . Ingredients: . Sweet Pastry Dough: . 1 cup flour 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar 1/2 cup (8 Tbsp) butter, chilled 1/4 cup slivered almonds, measured then ground in a spice mill 1 egg . Fruit & Almond Filling: . 4 egg whites …

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Menu: Monaco

On this windy Wednesday I’m visiting with a friend who I haven’t seen in seven years. We’re laughing and reliving old memories. We’re also experiencing Monaco, as I cook each of these dishes, one by one. Ava, each day bigger than the last, now helps serve the food. I’m all smiles. So what did I choose? For our week in Monaco I’ve chosen recipes fairly typical of the region – you’ll find similar in France and in Italy (such is the life when en entire country spans only 0.76 square miles).   This is a combination of rustic street food and elegant fine dining. What sounds good to you?* Chickpea Crepes (Socca) [Recipe] Forget what you know about crepes. These crispy, browned pieces of golden goodness are made with naturally gluten-free chickpea flour and plenty of olive oil. We’re talking crispy, finger-lickin’ goodness straight from the French Riveria.  Cognac & Herb Tapenade [Recipe] Olive oil cured olives with cognac, fresh thyme and rosemary, capers and a giant heaping of deliciousness. The black diamond of starters. Candied Cantaloupe & Cherry …

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Monaco. Photo by Senet.

About the food of Monaco

Monaco sparkles. Built right up on the scrubby, rocky, Mediterranean coastline, she’s bustling with luxurious yachts, zipping Ferrari, and more Formula 1 fan-wear than anyone can sport in a lifetime.  This is a place where you can pay $40 for a beer and $1,200 for vodka (just head over to Jimmy’s Bar, according to  Stepping the World). Incredible. It’s hard to believe that all this flashiness can be built into a teeny tiny country like Monaco. She’s the second smallest country in the world, measuring in at just 0.76 square miles. In this compact bit of land, there lives almost 36,000 people. I’m no math whiz, but this seems like a lot of people such a microscopic parcel of land. I’m wondering if perhaps some of the people live out of sight – perhaps in a maze of underground hideouts for superheroes? In any case the food matches the glitzy lifestyle. It’s as if you took French food and Italian food and dusted it with diamonds or, better yet, gold. Literally. (Just look at the giant …

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Monday Meal Review: Moldova

THE SCENE Two days before I cooked Moldova I was invited to Tulsa’s local United Nations annual meeting. While there I listened to very intelligent people talk about things which are generally beyond the scope of my daily duties – being a good mother, working hard, and playing harder. Let’s just say they talked about how to solve problems on a global scale. And it was amazing. Still, even as cheerleader to the world, I felt out of place. Not because I’m not interested, but simply because I feel that I don’t know enough to contribute intelligently. For the topic at hand, an almost 200 year of history had to be summarized before the discussion could even begin. There’s no way I know that much history about anything (except for my rogue obsession with Arthurian legend). But then it hit me. As I watched serious people explore serious issues in the world, I realized that my feeling of isolation in the discussion was probably not unique. I believe there are millions of people like me who are …

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I’ve done it standing in front of my refrigerator at midnight. I’ve done it at 8:30 in the morning, right after eating a complete breakfast. I’ve even done it in celebration of eating all my veggies. I fill my belly with bowlfuls of carbs – pasta, bread, potatoes, or rice – it really doesn’t matter. Simply put: I’m carb crazy. Enter Mamaliga, Moldova’s favorite side dish (and Romania’s, too). Carb-tastic. This thick, dense polenta is made with corn meal (the coarser the better), water, and a bit of butter to make it slip-slide out of the bowl you set it in. Traditionally Mamaliga is sliced into slabs with a string or fishing line. Traditionally, you’d serve it with sour cream and cheese, and it is much appreciated on the side of nearly any dish, especially the locally adored sour soups (like borscht [recipe]). So, friends, join me on the fast train to Moldova with Mamaliga. I’ll save you a seat. Serves 3-4 Ingredients: 3 cups of water 1 cup of yellow cornmeal (medium or coarse grind, …

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Moldovan Preserved Peppers

Logistically speaking, peppers make for really great dinners. They’re healthy. They’re big on sweet, juicy flavor. The don’t go bad quickly. And they go with nearly anything. But when you have a veggie garden, figuring out how to use up all your peppers can be a nightmare. Heck, even if you don’t garden it can be a challenge to take advantage of the fresh produce at the market (hello, sale prices!). Today, thanks to Moldova, we’re going to solve that. We’ve already had several great recipes on the blog, including Stuffed Peppers, Ratatouille, and Muhammara (the craziest roasted red pepper dip you’ve ever dipped).   With today’s Moldovan Preserved Peppers you can jar your peppers and enjoy them all year round. They taste like sweet pepper sunshine covered in olive oil and a hint of vinegar. Pile it up on the side of your fish or even on top of a sandwich. In Moldova this recipe is typically made with peppers called “gogosari” which, according to Susan, a volunteer in the Peace Corps with an …

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Moldovan Veggie & Feta Stuffed Zucchini

In honor of Moldova, let’s clear out the weeds. Let’s make room for a garden. A springy, happy sort of place where you can go to daydream in the morning sunlight, with a cup of steaming hot tea at the ready. A place where you can feel your connection to the earth and the soil. Where you can think those thoughts you never have time to think. Where you can finally stop being too busy. While you’re there I’d like you to plant a tiny sprout that will one day grow up into one hundred dream boats. One hundred zucchini boats  that will set your mind to sail and carry your heart to Moldova. You’ll be able to bring anyone you like along for the ride. Are you ready? Let’s go on a Moldovan boat ride. NOTE: Most authentic recipes call for tomato juice mixed with a spoonful or two of vinegar on the bottom of you casserole pan. Instead I opted for a plain tomato sauce to add textural oomph, but the choice is yours. Also, …

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Menu: Moldova

Two days ago Ava, Keith and I had our fingers in the soil. We planted seedlings from a shop in Bixby called Carmichael’s. For our small garden-wall-turned-veggie-patch, we bought tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and summer squash. We rounded things out with basil and two types of lettuce. We all had dirt under our fingernails and smiles in our hearts. We nibbled bits of lettuce and basil straight from the ground. It was glorious. And the timing couldn’t be more perfect. The people of Moldova love to garden and much of their traditional recipes are designed around using up the fresh produce that pops up in their gardens. Some items are stuffed for healthy, quick bites of summertime goodness. Others are simmered with spices and vinegar, to be stored on dark pantry shelves during the long winter. In this way, the garden in Moldova becomes a year-round fixture, indoors and out. Perhaps these recipes will help you make the most of your garden goods this year. What sounds good to you? Veggie & Feta Stuffed Zucchini [Recipe] …

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About the food in Moldova

If you’re looking for wine, Moldova is waiting for you. For the last 25 million years (give or take a few), grapes have been growing in the region, ripe for the juicing. There’s even evidence that, if you were to travel back in time about 5,ooo years ago, you could meander through vineyards sipping wine from cultivated grapes. Not out of glass, perhaps, but you’d be sippin’-happy all the same. Thankfully, you don’t have to travel back 5,000 years to enjoy a good selection of Moldovan wine. Simply amble over to “Mileştii Mici,” the world’s largest wine cellar located in central Moldova. Trust me, one bottle won’t be missed. Spread over hundreds of miles of cellars you’ll find approximately five million bottles. What would you fill 5 million bottles with? Wine is so integrated into the Moldovan culture, many people make table wine in their very own kitchens. They serve it up with an array of food that is unique with bits of Russian, Turkish, Greek, and German influence. For starters, there’s all manner of stuffed …

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