Month: August 2012

Plantain Chips with Sea Salt | Tostones

Fried plantain chips are a slice-it and deep-fry-it situation that you’ll find all over Panama (and beyond). They’re the kind of yummy you can enjoy whether you’re grouchy and glum or over-the-moon happy. Today I made a nice “thick cut” chip – for a little crispy-chewy action, although tostones are often shaved skinny, like potato chip. Either way you’ll find it helpful to use a mandolin for nice, even slices. This is nothing like a sweet banana (looks can be deceiving). This is her savory cousin – full of good fiber and lots of potassium. I like to remind myself of that, as I reach for my second and third helpings. Serves 2-4 as a snack Ingredients: 2 green plantains vegetable oil for deep frying sea salt cracked black pepper Method: For starters, peel your plantain. Tip: Peeling a green plantain can be a little tricky. The easiest way is to cut off the top and bottom and score a line along the length of the plantain. Lift up from this line to remove the peel. If …

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Midnight Mocha Rum Cake

Let’s talk about world peace for a second. Pretty much everyone I know agrees we need a big dollop of it to make the world a happier place, but not many people know what this world loaded up with peace would actually look like. Except for that one image of children holding hands. While the notion of all our children holding hands is a beautiful image, I can’t help but wonder where all the adults are. Why is it always just children? Are we so jaded that we think they’re the only ones who can do it? Are we past the point of no return? Is it really too late to lead by example? I’ve put some thought into this lately. I think world peace will be a lot like chocolate cake. Delicious. Lovely. But definitely not overly sappy or idealistic. Sure, everyone would wear the smile of the dove in their heart (they’re eating chocolate cake, after all) but there would still be varying points of view. Disagreements. People need to be able to have opinions, …

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Menu: Panama (& Giveaway)

I’m happy. Not only did I get to dig into an amazing rum cake this week, I also get to give one of you beautiful readers a nice treat. (More on that in a moment.) For now, I need to focus on one very special man – my husband. This week’s Global Table was Mr. Picky’s birthday luncheon. Happy Birthday, my love! The meal was hearty, delicious and, as always, a bit challenging for him. I must apologize for the fact that his birthday plate included such offenders as cilantro, olives, capers, plantains, rum, and coffee. He really dislikes all of those things. I promise, it wasn’t on purpose. At least there was chocolate. And cake! (Not every country serves cake, ya know…) Right? All recipes and the meal review will be posted throughout the week. Plantain Chips with Sea Salt [Recipe] Long slices of green plantain deep fried and sprinkled with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Finger lickin’ and totally craveable. Make a believer out of your picky eater. Arroz con Pollo [Recipe] A hearty helping of annato-seasoned …

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View of Isla Taboga, with Panama City in the background. Photo by Osopolar.

About the food of Panama

The skinny squiggle in Central America is Panama. Her spine crackles with mountains, while her shores undulate with soft, green hills. This is the tropics and, even in the winter, skirts and flowers flow freely, rum punch spills willy nilly, and banana leaf tamales make an all-star appearance with the likes of arroz con pollo (spiced rice with chicken and olives) [Recipe]. But it’s the butterflies that catch my attention. With more than 1500 species in this tiny country, Panama has the “winged workforce” to fly our dreams into the hills for safe keeping. These butterflies are as plain as can be when resting, but their wings unfold into an electric rainbow of glory in flight. Some say Panama’s namesake is in reference to this “abundance of butterflies.” Friends of ours are potentially moving to Panama, so of course they had lots to say about this week at the Global Table. They assert that ceviche, or fish chemically “cooked” in lime juice is a grand way to spend an afternoon by the seashore.  For those who want …

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Monday Meal Review: Palau

Keith left me last week. He didn’t leave-leave me, but he went away for an extended business trip that meant he’d be at a motel in Vermont for his birthday. If that isn’t wretched enough, in an unfortunate twist of fate, I came down with an incredible self-induced illness caused by accidentally inhaling an aleve pill into my lungs. Ka-plunk. (That’s the sound it made as it plopped into the soft tissue normally dedicated to taking oxygen to my bloodstream). To give you an idea of how inhaling an aleve pill affected my body: I lost 6 pounds in 2 days and within four days developed aspiration pneumonia. This is the kind of miserable illness that makes you wonder if you’re going to make it to see another day, let alone make it long enough for your sweetheart to come home a week later. I don’t know about you, but when my snuggle buddy is nowhere in sight and my three year old still needs lots of active play, despite me being nauseous, sweaty, and full of …

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Tandoori marinade for fish or chicken

“It smells good in here.” That’s what Keith said as he wandered by. I was leaning in, photographing spoonfuls of spices that I’d later mix with yogurt for beautiful tandoori marinade. There was sweet, grassy coriander and bright lemon juice. Tangy yogurt and earthy garam masala. The ingredients slid together into intoxicating deliciousness – not without a bit of sass thanks to the fresh ginger and spicy garlic. Tandoori is enjoyed from Pakistan to India … even, as we learned this week, as far as the tiny island country of Palau, way out in the Pacific. To eat proper tandoori, you need a tandoori oven. These cylinders of shimmering heat create addicting char-grilled flavor while retaining perfect moisture. At home you can approximate the flavor of good tandoori in your regular oven or on the grill. Try this marinade next time you bake or grill fish (and even chicken). Your house will smell like an exotic market. Amazing Town. Ingredients: 3-4 lbs fish like cod, salmon … or even chicken Tandoori Marinade 1 cup yogurt 1/4 cup …

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Grilled Mussels Dabbed with Barbecue Sauce

Someone help me, but up until a few days ago, I was not a lover of mussels. I blame those times when, as a little girl, we dug them out of the sand in Cape Cod and drove them in the summer heat all the way back to Boston.  The drive took over an hour and half.  I don’t think I need to tell you the rest. It’s a shame, really, because good mussels are sweet, mild, and tender… a bit of romance for your mouth. But we’re here to change perceptions, and I knew I had to give them another try. (we can’t move forward if we don’t keep trying and learning). So I grabbed a bag a the store, zipped home as fast as possible, and got to work. Funny thing? There really wasn’t a lot of work to do thanks to this Palauan trick of tossing them on the grill and brushing them with a dab of barbecue sauce. You need two simple things. 1. Barbecue Sauce I went with our Homemade Ginger …

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Ginger Peach Barbecue Sauce

Way out in the Pacific ocean sits a bumpy, bumbling little island country called Palau. From what I hear, the fine people (20,000 strong) slather barbecue sauce on just about anything. Fish. Chicken. Even mussels. Some say it’s the American influence on their cuisine, but I detect a nod to the rich gingery-garlic barbecue sauces of Asia as well. I immediately knew that I had to make homemade barbecue sauce to experience our Palauan Global Table to the fullest. And if I was going to take inspiration from anywhere for the sauce, it would have to be from one of my favorite food blogs, Joy the Baker. Joy recently made Bourbon Orange Coriander BBQ Sauce. Hello, there’ s bourbon in her sauce. As I went along, however, I realized I needed to make a few changes …. of the whimsical, I-can’t-leave-well-enough-alone variety.  For starters, I wanted to add peaches since I had a bunch to use up from the late summer’s harvest (oh… an Oklahoma peach is a divine thing indeed). Once there were peaches in the …

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Menu: Palau (with $150 Giveaway)

My door handle stopped working the other day. The one in my car that lets me get out. It just snapped off. Around the same time I inhaled a pill into my lungs. Yesterday the doctor told me I have aspiration pneumonia. All this has happened in the week that Keith’s been away on business. It’s a bit much. I’m hoping that’s it for now. Luckily I cooked all this food before the drama rolled in, so I have plenty of good eats for you… but Panama? Well, I might be in bed for most of that meal. And rather light on recipes. I hope you’ll forgive me. To make it up to you, this giveaway is extra epic (see after our yummy Palauan menu) All recipes and meal review will be posted throughout the week Grilled Mussels Dabbed with Barbecue Sauce [Recipe] One of the most elegant dishes to serve but so, so simple.  I had no idea. Fire up the grill, friends. We’re eatin’ island style.  Ginger Peach Barbecue Sauce [Recipe] A little …

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Jellyfish Lake. Photo by Anaxibia.

About the food of Palau

Let’s sink into the sea. Let’s swim with the jelly fish. Snorkel with me to Palau. From deep below her waters (where divers will find barrier reefs and wrecks from World War II), to the top of her lush forests, this island nation is a dream. From overhead she looks less like an island, and more like mossy bumps of land popping up from the ocean. A closer look reveals bridges snaking across these bumps and puffs of island, as well as stones carved out by the sea that, ironically, look like bridges themselves. Trees also overhang the turquoise waters – shading places with names like “Jellyfish lake.” The food is typical of the Pacific islands- you’ll find taro, pandan, and pumpkin. But there’s also an incredible love for Japanese food (especially sushi and sashimi). American food is everywhere. Barbecue sauce [Recipe] makes it’s way on everything from grilled chicken to mussels [Recipe]. To get a better picture, read these words from Emma Krasov of Art and Entertain Me, who traveled there: Palau absorbed culinary influences of Japan, …

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Monday Meal Review: Pakistan

Keith once told me that he hated cilantro. He despised how green and soapy it felt in his mouth and how the little green bits snaked through his teeth, sticking with him throughout the day like a tag-along little brother. This was in the days before our Global Table Adventure, a time when he also hated tomatoes, had no idea what eggplant was, and had never had fresh spinach. A time when one salad per year was a major accomplishment. So, naturally, when I pop the platter of garlic rice on our rough, wooden dining table, I neglect to mention it is tossed with cilantro. After all, cilantro and parsley look remarkably alike. I heave the extra wide spoon into the rice and scoop him a large serving. Leaning in, I say “this is garlic rice,” purring over the syllables as though they themselves are made of ghee. He leans in, sniffs his plate, and digs in. A few stray bits of cilantro flutter dangerously on the edge of his spoon. He chews a moment …

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Pakistani Mixed Bean Salad

Next time you go to a potluck,  spice up everyone’s life with pakistani mixed bean salad. Each bite has bits of chickpea, northern white beans, tomato, onion, and peppers. The salad can be spicy or mild, tart or savory. It all depends on how you mix it. Either way, it’s fresh, healthy, and – thanks to being seasoned with lemon juice, cilantro, and garam masala –  just on the other side of unusual. Be sure to make this salad at least a few hours before you need it, to give time for the flavors to meld. Overnight is best. Recipe adapted from Laura Kelley at Silk Road Gourmet. Ingredients: 1 (15 oz) can northern white beans, drained 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained 2 tomatoes, chopped 1/2 large onion, chopped 1 red pepper, chopped green chili pepper, minced (to taste)* 1- 1 1/2 lemons juiced (to taste) 1/4 cup grapeseed oil (vegetable oil may be substituted) 1 tsp garam masala ** pepper salt 1/2 bunch cilantro, stemmed & torn roughly *I used part of a hatch chili …

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