Month: August 2012

Pakistani Coffee with Cinnamon & Cardamom

I’m not a sadist by any means, but I will take any chance I can get to make my sweet Mr Picky drink coffee. For years now, he has claimed to hate the stuff. I maintain that coffee simmered gently with milk and spices is not the same as the sludge served at the local gas station. I’ve tried making him Nauru’s “Recycled” Iced Coffee (no luck), Arabian Cardamom Coffee (no luck), and even an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony, complete with popcorn (he exhibited mild curiosity but only ate the popcorn).  I’m not disappointed at my lack of success, however. I look at this as a challenge, one of the few hurdles we still have to tackle with his picky ways… I’m determined to find a winning combination that he’ll at least tolerate by the end of this Adventure (and open to any suggestions you might have). Today’s coffee, inspired by Pakistan, is a milky mixture of sweet cardamom, the most haunting whisps of cinnamon, and a lingering sweetness that is sure to bring out anyone’s smile. I …

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Garlic Basmati Rice with Pine Nuts

I’d like the record to state that I’m ready for a big hug. It’s the end of summer, times are changing, and I’m ready for that love-filled feeling that comes with a smooshable hug. I see people doing it all the time – their bodies smiling as they pull to each other. My husband still hugs me, which is the best kind of snuggle-hug I can ask for. But I want more. I want the kind of hug that can’t come from him. Or any person. It’s the kind of hug that comes from taking a giant bite of garlic bread. It’s the cozy feeling I get as I methodically tear apart a tray of buttery garlic knots. But even that kind of hug seems so… ordinary. Today I want the extraordinary. Actually, every day I should want the extraordinary, but that’s something I’ll need to work out with my life coach. Enter Pakistan and an ambling line of garlic goodness. This grand garlic is going into a heaping platter of Garlic Basmati Rice sprinkled with Toasted …

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Menu: Pakistan (& Giveaway)

Whenever I cooked our Pakistani Global Table, our little family was swimming in sweat. Each day soared well over 100F (at times over 110F) and my air conditioner had all but decided to go the way of the puffin. So please forgive me if the menu feels a bit summery – a bit light on, well, cooking. While simmering curries for hours are a wonderful hobby for the bone-cold winters of Pakistan, I still managed to eek out a beautiful Pakistani menu for summer livin’ here in Oklahoma (with the exception being the coffee, if only because it whips up in a flash). Interestingly, the island nation of Palau (up next week on our Global Table Adventure) eats very similar food, so stay tuned for more options (I’m thinkin’ there’ll be a tandoori dish… and who knows what else!). All three of this week’s recipes were inspired by Laura Kelley’s Silk Road Gourmet. The recipes and the meal review will be posted throughout the week. Garlic Basmati Rice with Pine Nuts  [Recipe] Take everything you love about …

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Children in Pakistan near the Boarder to Iran. Photo by Graef.

About the food of Pakistan

Pakistan is said to be the birthplace of the tandoori oven, where white-hot walls glow and crackle with spit-fire. These incendiary cylinders char-roast kebabs and breads alike. Although it is only the exceptional hostess that has a tandoori oven in her private home, if I had one, I would use it to cook our cumin seed naan (the one we made back in Afghanistan. P.S. This bread which would also work for a Pakistani meal. P.P.S. Oh, how far our recipes have come haha). Even though I swoon for naan day and night, there’s debate from the Pakistani highlands to the plateaus, as to whether a traditional meal goes best with bread or rice – there are local devotees to each. For those who choose flatbreads (typically naan or roti), the meal is easily enjoyed with the fingers. For those who choose rice, a lovely assortment of biriyani are available. Basmati rice can be seasoned simply with saffron (as we did with Rosewater & Saffron Rice for Bahrain or the Azerbajani Saffron Rice with crusty potatoes) or perhaps …

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Monday Meal Review: Oman

Curls of frankincense billow towards me. I breathe in slowly through my nose. The house submits to the sweet, deep darkness and I feel the urge to sleep. My body is ready to sink down anywhere – the couch, the bed, the kitchen floor – but, as Robert Frost would say “I have miles to go before I sleep.” I drag the tip of my spoon along the soft white scoop and put the cold ice cream to my lips. I slip into a dream lit by exotic pine, orange, sandlewood and cream. There’s ginger in there, too. This is Frankincense Ice Cream. I look around the empty kitchen. I feel the empty house. There is silence. I shut my eyes and I am in Oman, sitting under a tree feeling nothing but absolutely… pure. When I open my eyes, the house is still empty. “It doesn’t taste like it’s going to kill me,” I whisper to a photo of Ava on the wall. Her 11-day old head is cradled in two hands: mine and Keith’s. My fingers …

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Rose Water Lemonade

For some, the season of flip flops is over, now replaced by the steady clickety-clack of school shoes on polished linoleum. For others, school is nothing more than a faint memory, farther yet than the setting sun’s shimmering rays upon which our dreams cling. Either way, Rosewater Lemonade will put a smile where you need it most. For the back-to-schoolers, this drink represents everything easy-breezy; a way to go global, even in the midst of lost backpacks, homework, and forgotten lunches. Each sip will take you to the middle east and Oman, where Rosewater Lemonade is a cherished treat. For those who cling to the distant memory of schoolyard days, this is your ticket to the lost joys of youth. Each sip tastes like a thousand roses bathing in fresh squeezed sunlight. Literally. Now, here’s the deal. This time of year I have too many paper cuts to squeeze my own lemonade. If you find yourself in the same position, I have a sneaky trick for you. Add several slices of fresh lemon to each cup of store-bought lemonade …

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Grilled Kofta with Zucchini Sauce

This week we dove into a summery garden spread from Oman. Kofta are grilled hand-formed sausages enjoyed in Oman and neighboring countries. In fact, versions of kofta are enjoyed as far east as India (although these are typically served in meatball form). These Omani kofta sizzle with earthy cumin, warm flutterings of cinnamon, and are rounded out by coriander seed, fresh parsley and cilantro. The sauce – entirely vegan, by the way – is loaded up with fresh zucchini, garlic, parlsey and such a little sprinkle of mint, noone will know what your secret ingredient is. You can make it as spicy as you’d like with red pepper flakes (or go wild with cayenne, if you must). P.S. This sauce would be great for a variation on our vegetarian Shakshouka that we made back with Israel. Shakshouka is also enjoyed in Oman. Recipe adapted from Laura Kelley at Silk Road Gourmet, where she journies through the cuisines, histories and cultures of the more than thirty countries that traded goods along that great lifeline of the ancient world. Ingredients: For …

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Frankincense Ice Cream

I like a little mystery in the midst of routine. A drizzle of scented massage oil makes the evening fly by. A simple puff of incense fills every crevice of my home with glorious serenity. And of all possible aromas, Frankincense reigns supreme. Ever since I was a little girl, poised with wonder under the glittering Christmas tree, Frankincense has captivated me. My little brain could never quite grasp what on earth Frankincense was or why it was so special, but that didn’t stop me from dreaming of the magical era when a gift of Frankincense was as beloved as gold. In fact, the mystery only made it seem more special. Then, thundering in from the far reaches of Oman comes Frankincense Ice Cream. Each nibble is creamy and sweet – Frankincense has an alluring bite of pine, sweet ginger, something like orange zest, and foggy twilight smiles. In my research I  learned that Frankincense is resin (a.k.a. dried sap)  from the Boswellia tree. The highest quality flows creamy white and is called luban, meaning …

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Menu: Oman (& Giveaway)

I love a good surprise. Today our Omani menu is full of hidden, sneaky treats. The ice cream? Laced with frankincense oil. The lemonade? As good as a garden of roses bathed in summer love. And the kofta are juicy and fragrant, hiding cinnamon and cumin, lounging on a bed of zucchini tomato sauce with a slightly cooling, sneaky handful of mint. And then there’s this kind of surprise: This represents a portion of packages that came in the mail from my mom yesterday. They are binders. These binders contain every post I’ve ever written on the blog. Every. Single. Post. Every recipe. Every photo. Almost every comment. Ever since the first week, she’s been printing out my posts. Dutifully and unbeknownst to me. If that ain’t a mother’s love, I don’t know what is. I’m completely floored. Grilled Kofta with Zucchini Sauce [Recipe] Hand rolled beef seasoned with earthy cinnamon, wild cumin, and coriander seed. Served with a quick tomato and zucchini sauce laced with parsley and a smattering of mint, the perfect way to …

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Jabreen castle wall. Photo by Tristan.

About the food of Oman

Pull up a chair, grab a steaming cup of Kahwa and a few dates. We’re going to Oman, a boomerang shaped country on the edge of the Arabian pennisula. Kahwa is omani coffee, made with enough sugar for the biggest smile in your heart, a dusting of dreamy cardamom and brittle, sunset-colored strands of saffron. Sip by sip, let the heat soak into your pores as you dream your day away. If coffee isn’t your preference, perhaps a cold glass of rosewater lemonade [Recipe], or a salty buttermilk drink called laban, or even a creamy yogurt sipper will help you while away the time among the desert dunes. Whatever you choose, just be sure to heed the traffic signs. When it comes time to dine, Oman has an astonishing array of rice dishes (anything from steamed rice to pilafs or even mekboos, a.k.a. machboos). We cooked machboos [recipe] last fall and it was so good it actually inspired me to boil my Thanksgiving turkey. While the house smelled like a far away spice shop mixed with down home …

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Monday Meal Review: Norway

I walk out of the kitchen and the steam immediately slides off my face like a mask. The worst is behind me; one pound of large pink shrimp plucked from the bubbling boil now recline in a cool bowl of ice water. I’m on my way to the dining room with an armful of unlikely friends. First, the mayonnaise. This thick, white creamy spread is never on our table unless guests are present. I grimace, thinking of Ava and Mr. Picky. Oh, how they’ll balk when they see it. Then the capers, a personal favorite. I get lost in their grassy brine, each bite like a prize, bursting in my mouth like a carnival. Despite Keith’s aversion, Ava and I will be happy, this much I know. I also carry a lemon, heavy with juice and canary yellow despite the season. A few fresh sprigs of dill are the finishing touch, their delicate stems like a feather in a hat or a weeping willow, grazing the table with grace. Something I rarely think to use …

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Norwegian Summer Shrimp Party | Shrimp Canapes

When longtime reader Mette suggested a Norwegian-style shrimp party for this week’s Global Table, I knew I was in luck. What could be more summery than cracking and assembling DIY shrimp canapes? Here’s what she said: In summer, people also enjoy a lot of fresh shrimps, eaten cold and very simply with white bread, butter, mayonnaise and a squish of lemon. The shrimps with their shells and heads on are set on the table in a big bowl, and everyone peels their own as they load their sandwiches – it’s slow and messy eating and very sociable, since the mouths are free to talk until the hands are done with the peeling. I couldn’t find any head-on shrimp, but I did find these beauties which I boiled and chilled… Instead of using traditional white bread, I used slices of soft wheat bread cut into dainty circles with cutters (I used the scraps to make baked French toast the next morning). I loaded my canapes up with the salty capers, a splash of lemon juice and …

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