Month: April 2012

default-image

Monday Meal Review: Micronesia

THE SCENE Ava’s at a funny age. Literally. Everything is all giggles and “that’s so funny, mama.” It adds a breath of fresh air to my reality of taxes, tornadoes, and keeping the car clean. All equally impossible to deal with. This week Ava chuckled when she saw the silly straw in her Pineapple Papaya Coco Smoothie. And she loved the fact that there were oranges in our Micronesian Orange Coconut Cake. She laughed and laughed about that one. And, of course, I laughed watching her laugh. (Although I must admit I’m still not sure what exactly was so funny). But the point is, it didn’t matter. We were laughing. We were happy. Oh, if the world could just… stay this simple. If everyone could laugh more. Share smiles over good food. Giggle from the heart over nothing at all. Since Ava was feeling so silly, the Orange Coconut Cake gave me the perfect opportunity to teach Ava her very first joke. “Knock knock” “Who’s there?” “Orange” “Orange who?” “Orange you glad to see me?!?!” I should …

Read More
micronesia.food.img_4108

Micronesian Ginger & Lime Marinade

In college I went by MacGyver. It had nothing to do with my ability to save lives (with little more than a shoestring and a balloon), and everything to do with feeding my four hungry roommates in the face of the greatest of obstacles (an empty refrigerator). I once made them lasagna without pasta or sauce. True story. Which brings me to this Micronesian marinade. There are four fantastic reasons to make it: 1. There is really no need to measure the ingredients. I have it on a local’s authority that any ratio works well. 2. The marinade tastes grand on just about anything. Fish. Chicken. Steak. Tofu. Leather shoes. 3. The marinade does double duty as a dipping sauce. 4.  Katrina says so. Katrina is the gal from Micronesia who emailed me, recommending that I try this marinade. To be honest that was enough motivation for me. And when she said any proportions will do? That was the clincher. I like not measuring. It’s more fun to simply dump a few ingredients into a bowl at …

Read More
micronesia.food.img_4155

Pineapple Papaya Coco Sipper

It took Micronesia to get me excited about a smoothie. Don’t get me wrong – I love smoothies. After a while, though, they all taste the same. Until now. This smoothie blushes, straight from the easy, breezy islands. Why? Because out of the soft, sweet flavor of papaya and pineapple comes the daring zip of fresh lime juice. Adding lime juice to a smoothie may sound strange, but Micronesians know – this is like adding a hint of key lime pie to your drink. A bit of soprano to your alto. A bit of shine to your sun. And then there’s the fact that it’s mixed with coconut water. Healthy, healthy, healthy. So come on, let’s take off our shoes, slide our feet in the sand, and sip a smoothie til we blush. This recipe is inspired by the tropical fruits of Micronesia…but not any one particular recipe. Makes about 4 cups (serves 2) NOTE: Be sure to chill all ingredients overnight in the refrigerator for best results. Ingredients: 2 cups fresh pineapple chunks 4 cups …

Read More
micronesia.food.img_4297

Glazed Orange Coconut Cake

There are times when I want to be fancy, but not fussy. When I want a pretty cake, but I don’t want to decorate it with elaborate roses. When I’d rather be swimming in the sea instead of doing my taxes. Ahem. These are the days when I want (need!) a little slice of heaven to serve along side my afternoon cup of tea. I never thought I’d find my answer in Micronesia. But I did. This orange infused cake comes all the way to us from a little Micronesian island called Kosrae and a local named Katrina. Her version is called a “Juicy Orange Cake” which pretty much sums up the incredible flavor. When Katrina emailed to say that citrus is fantastic on the islands, I knew I had to adapt her recipe. Even without a photo I knew it’d be epic. I changed a few things – most notably knocking down the sugar a bit in the cake so I could coat it with an irresistible orange glaze (which would serve as tacking for a …

Read More
default-image

Menu: Micronesia

This week we’re enjoying a sampler-style menu based on Micronesia’s beloved citrus fruit. Each of the recipes I selected for you is bursting with fresh squeezed lime and orange juices. And, given my family’s reaction, I should warn you: they just might make you silly. Especially that crazy orange coconut cake. Speaking of crazy, have you heard the expression “cray cray”? I really amused myself reading the various definitions of this expression in the urban dictionary. I can’t quite decide if it’d be appropriate to describe either the cake or my family as cray cray. But I’m leaning towards yes on both accounts. What sounds good to you?* Ginger & Lime Marinade [Recipe]  A simple mixture of fresh ginger, lime juice, garlic, and soy sauce. Use on fish or chicken destined for the grill. Be sure to finish it off with some fresh cracked pepper – which is grown in the region to top it all off. Glazed Orange Coconut Cake [Recipe] This bundt cake will be you so happy. The rich coconut milk makes the cake so …

Read More
Sunset at Colonia, Yap (taken from Manta Ray Hotel). Photo by Eric Guinther

About the food of Micronesia

Micronesia and her gaggle of islands amaze me. She is a dream – half a world away. There is not a lot of information to be found about her thousands of islands because many of them are, at best, sparsely settled.  In an effort to delve deeper into the cuisine of this sprawling federation, I used one of my more recent tactics to educate myself on the cuisine: contacting a local. I love this technique. Emailing with someone halfway around the world makes me happy. While I’ve done it here and there throughout the blog, it really took off with Maldives and my successful recipe hunt for Lomi Lomi on twitter. The banter is friendly. People are excited to talk about food from their homelands and it makes me feel like I’m a part of a neighborly world. A small world. A happy world. This week my pen pal was Katrina from Kosrae – a landmass not even 10 miles wide – a tiny island within the Caroline Islands. As I read Katrina’ s suggestions on what to try, I …

Read More
Tulum-beach

Monday Meal Review: Mexico

THE SCENE: I wipe the sweat from my forehead. “Why is it 92 degrees in March?” I ask the cat. Malky draws his back up into a leisurely stretch, pads lightly onto the floor, and lets out a startlingly abrasive meow. Apparently he doesn’t care. He is ready to go outside. I crack open the door enough to smell the humidity and watch his tail flick out into the sunshine. I shake my head and get back to work. The blender cranks into high gear as I buzz together the homemade rice and almond drink, called horchata.  This summertime sipper will chill all afternoon in the refrigerator, along with a bundle of fresh strawberries, cinnamon and vanilla. And the joyful purpose of this drink is fulfilled in Ava’s happy slurp. Pure delight. In the afternoon I’d wind the blender up again to blast the mole into smooth submission. In mere minutes, 24 million ingredients would become one – a symphony of flavor so complex I’d have no way of understanding it. I simply would have to listen to …

Read More
mexico.food.img_3853

Cheesy Roasted Poblanos | Rajas con Crema

Listen. Not everything has to look perfect. We don’t always need lipstick and hair straighteners (In fact, I haven’t seen either of those since Ava started crawling). Some days I don’t even look in a mirror until night time. Until it’s too late. Let yourself off the hook once in a while. Let your hair down. Smear your lips with chapstick and call it good. While you’re at it, eat messy food. Because, no matter how it looks, if it tastes good, then all is well in your world. Which brings us to Rajas con Crema… There’s nothing like two weeks of 90 degree weather in March to make me want to fire up the grill.  Thankfully, Rajas con Crema gave me good reason to do so. While not exactly a princess on the plate, this messy looking dish is simply strips of roasted poblano cooked with onion, cheese, and Mexican cream. Some people like to add bits of roasted corn as well. Talk about addicting. What to do with Rajas con Crema: Mexicans enjoy this for …

Read More
mexico.food.img_3259

Strawberry Almond Horchata

There should be a rule. Whenever the weather is sunny and fine, when it is hot enough to swim in the deep seas – you should absolutely swim. Even if you forgot your bathing suit. Likewise, if you are ever offered horchata – the famous Mexican summertime sipper – consider yourself lucky and drink, drink, drink. The freedom of swimming, no matter what – that’s what I taste in this drink. This is a summer’s worth of happy – chilled and served with a straw. You’ll taste almond and rice milk. Your smile will be made of strawberries, deepened by a dusting of cinnamon and splash of vanilla. This is fresh, summer joy. This is laugh out loud good. Ingredients: 1 cup of long grain white rice, ground fine in spice mill 1 cup of blanched almonds 1 large cinnamon stick (4″) 3 cups of hot water 1/4- 3/4 cup of sugar, as desired 3 cups whole milk 1 Tbsp vanilla extract Garnish: Strawberries shaved ice Method: Even if you see clouds, close your eyes …

Read More
How-to-make-mole-poblano

5 Step Mole Poblano

I’ll be honest. On the onset, learning how to make Mole Poblano sounded a lot like learning how to knit a wedding dress. Outrageously epic, but not entirely something I had the skills for. In case you’ve never heard of it, we’re talking a Mexican recipe from Puebla that has a million, gazillion ingredients (ok, really just about two dozen), many cooking phases, and centuries of history behind it. Yikes. After staring at dozens of recipes, drinking several cups of tea, and more than a little sleep lost, I broke mole poblano down into 5 basic steps. Deep sigh. Smile. This feels better. Five steps are manageable. So, my goal today, is to make you Mole happy. To encourage you to give it a try. Because if you do, you’ll be in Mexico with every bite. NOTE: This Mole Poblano is vegan, although you can serve it on whatever you’d like – veggies, meats, etc. Traditionally it is served with turkey and made with turkey stock. Makes 6-7 cups Ingredients: These ingredients get toasted: 1 Tbsp …

Read More
mexico.food.img_3897

Menu: Mexico

After letting you all decide our fate for this week’s Global Table in polls, I am happy to present the menu – your menu. Each item won lovingly – with no close seconds. These are nibbles for rainy days, sunny days, and everything in between. You’ll use your grill and your blender. You’ll open wide and you’ll dance on the roof. Well, maybe not on the last item… but you should. When was the last time you danced like a cat on a hot tin roof? Are you ready for Mexico? Rajas con Crema [Recipe] Just when you thought you’d run out of ideas for peppers, comes this Mexican favorite. Often eaten for breakfast, Rajas con Crema is a simple but incredible mixture of char-grilled poblano peppers, ooey gooey cheese, and Mexican crema. 5 Step Mole Poblano [Recipe]  This is authentic mole – including the chocolate and 5 million other ingredients – but simplified into five easy-to-remember steps. Strawberry Almond Horchata [Recipe] Cool off with this creamy drink made with rice, almond, and regular milks, cinnamon, vanilla extract and …

Read More
Cabo-beaches

About the food of Mexico

My first time to Mexico was all “rainbows and puppy dogs.” In fact, the only reason I got to go was because a co-worker broke up with his girlfriend and his two free tickets were simply passed down the line to me. A totally free vacation! In all my 27 years I had never won anything like this. The scene was set for perfection. There was just one catch: I found out on a Tuesday. The flight took off on a Thursday. There wasn’t much time to plan. Keith (a.k.a. Mr Picky) – who had been my boyfriend of a just a few months – would be my companion. He had never left the country. He didn’t even have a passport. Thankfully, this was in the days before passports were required to enter Mexico. He simply had to track down his birth certificate. This first trip to Mexico would be his initiation (at age 36) into the world “out there,” beyond the border. Let’s just say I’d be watching for signs of an open mind …

Read More