Month: July 2013

Photo courtesy of World Domination Summit, taken by Armosa Studios.

Monday Meal Review: Tunisia

Crying in front of 3,000 people. Last week, I did that. We ate Tunisia and celebrated Ava’s fourth birthday right before I hopped on a plane to go to the World Domination Summit, hosted by Chris Guillebeau. Keith and I were sticky with the honey almond samsa. Ava ate two pita sandwiches spread with the grilled Tunisian Salad. (She must be growing. Again). Then, I hugged my family goodbye and flew to Portland with a belly full of Tunisian goodness. I’d been invited to speak in front of 3,000 people at the Summit. I’d rehearsed my talk for a month or two, twice a day. I had it down pat. I was going to talk about the spiced life. How this blog helped me achieve it. How it’s kept me from running away from my happy ending. But the night before I was to deliver the talk, I received a phone call. My talk might be cut down. Way down. They’d know more in the morning. Bright and early on the big day, I got confirmation. I …

tunisia.food.recipe.img_0229

Tunisian Grilled Salad with Tuna | Salata Mishwiyya

Usually, the food we grill stays whole. We put it on a bun, or we eat it with our hands. But today’s Tunisian Grilled Salad takes a different approach. The charred vegetables – peppers, onion, tomatoes – are pulsed together into a chunky mixture, then served with flaked tuna, and hard boiled egg. This salad has body. Much of the intensity comes off the grill,  from the raw garlic, hot chili peppers, and the caraway seeds, all of which can be tempered to taste. Please, please, please… let this salad meld for at least an hour before eating. This will give the bite time to mellow.   Because you wouldn’t want to serve your guests a grouchy salad. Mellow is much nicer. Adapted from Clifford A. Wright’s A Mediterranean Feast. Serves 4-6 Ingredients: 3 green bell peppers 3 red chili peppers (like red fresno) 2 tomatoes (or 3 small) 1 onion, peeled and quartered (leave stem on to help hold it together) 3 cloves garlic 1 Tbsp caraway seeds (optional) 1 tsp salt Garnishes: Olive oil (several swirls) Juice …

tunisia.food.recipe.img_0188

Honey Almond Samsa with Orange Blossom Water

Every wedding, every baby shower, every birthday… every party… needs a smile. And by that, I mean, something that is delectable, not just to the spirit, but to the heart. Perhaps it’s an epic DJ known for Bollywood Dancing. Or perhaps it’s something as simple as a platter of Tunisian cigars, filled with crushed almonds, honey, orange blossom water, and cinnamon…Oh, and there’s a fair kiss of melted butter on them, too. These cigars are rather like baklava, but the orange blossom water makes them more floral, in a dreamy sort of way. The sticky, sweet mixture is guaranteed to get you and your guests licking their fingers. There will be murmurs and smiles. “What is that,” they’ll ask. And you know they’ll be talking about the orange blossom water. So fragrant, yet so delicate. Around the world, the word “samsa” is used to describe many, many different filled pastries, from meats to sweets. In Tunisia these are samsa. Every, last, glistening morsel is yours for the taking. Important note: Thaw the filo dough according to package instructions before …

default-image

Menu: Tunisia

“If the full moon loves you, why worry about the stars?” Tunisian Proverb I never thought I’d compare tuna fish to the beautiful moon. But here we are. This week, there were so many beautiful recipes to choose from; I had a hard time choosing what best represented Tunisia. But then I read the proverb posted above, and realized maybe it was more important to showcase what made my stomach crawl. So I scanned the dozens of recipes for two dishes that could make my stomach growl. The first one? A grilled salad topped with tuna. I know funky tuna is not for everyone, but man, oh, man I love it (am I the only one that loves a good bit of tuna?). As for the dessert, I found something just as tantalizing. In short, I found a glittering menu, or moon, so to speak … so I didn’t worry about the stars I couldn’t get to.  All recipes and the meal review will be posted throughout the week. Tunisian Grilled Salad | Salata Mishwiyya [Recipe] A charred, …

Fort Djerba, Tunisia. Photo by Cezary P.

About the food of Tunisia

The castles in Tunisia don’t look like they are made of stone. Not European stones, anyway. Those make for grey castles – the kind most of us are familiar with. No, Tunisian castles look like sandcastles. The soft yellow stones look like knobs of buttered polenta. Or couscous.  I know, because this is one of the twelve countries I visited when I was a teen. I went for my senior trip (from Luxembourg, where I was living at the time). While I was there I wanted to eat up those castles. I mean look at this… But before I ever saw the castles, I had to feel Tunisia. I stepped off of the plane, into the heat. The humidity squeezed me like a giant hug. Not only was it hot enough to swim at 8 a.m., it was hot enough to want to. The food was suitably refreshing. I had lots of tomato salads, grilled meats, and even grilled salads [Recipe]. In the morning, chakchouka was common, a quick fix cobbled together with simmered eggplant, peppers, onion, and …

View of the Five Islands, Carrera Island and Point Gourde near in Chaguaramas, Trinidad. Photo by Jean-Marc /Jo BeLo/Jhon-John from Caracas, Venezuela.

Monday Meal Review: Trinidad and Tobago

This week, gorgeous Trinidad and Tobago helped me question what was real about my relationship in a way I’d never thought about before. The timing couldn’t have been better, since Keith and I just celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. The lesson came in an unlikely form: The Swiss Family Robinson. The Swiss Family Robinson was filmed in Tobago in 1960.  The filmmaker, Ken Annakin, emphasized how perfect the location was for shooting…  After visiting countless less-than-desirable locations, they called Tobago “love at first sight.” It was beautiful. It was serene. The island was everything they’d been looking for. And yet – even with this “love at first sight” location – they still flew in countless animals from around the world (think elephants, cranes, parrots, tigers, anacondas, and more), to build the ambiance of the film. They still constructed their own set in Tobago, bending the location to suit their needs. All this was done to make the story of a shipwrecked family seem more real. I thought about this story, while my stew chicken simmered. A few questions kept popping back …

trinidad.tobago.food.recipeimg_0039

Caribbean-Style Orange Juice Rice

In Trinidad and Tobago they say “Don’t pick fruits after 6 p.m., the tree is sleeping.” I’m not exactly sure what the tree would do to retaliate if you interrupt its sleep … but I do know that when I don’t get my sleep, I’m not only gruffy, but I can’ t focus on anything. I’m so tired that my work suffers. I pout. I play with my hair. I pace rooms. I can’t bear fruit, so to speak. So. Let’s avoid picking fruit from the tree after six, both literally and figuratively. Instead, let’s enjoy fruit in our rice. I first read about orange rice in The World Cookbook for Students. Apparently, this is a popular side dish in parts of Trinidad and Tobago. And for good reason. When cooked with orange juice, rice becomes sweet, tangy, and makes the perfect complement to spicy food. Now. There is nothing subtle about replacing all the water with O.J., so if you’d like to start off with something more mild, try using half water (or broth) and half O.J. …

trinidad.tobago.food.recipeimg_0019

Trini Stew Chicken

Many a good thing requires we throw our all into it. Swimming, for example. If we don’t swim with our all, well… we sink. Fast. When it comes to food from Trinidad and Tobago, adding a ton of flavor goes a long way to making unctuous and irresistible stew chicken. And when I say a “ton of flavor”, I mean, we’re going to throw our all into it.  Just about everything your market (and your herb planter) has to offer goes into stew chicken. The basis of Stew Chicken is Green Seasoning. We made green seasoning back when we cooked Guyana. There are hundreds (thousands!) of recipes for green seasoning, so I thought it’d be fun to make up a second batch with this recipe. I used a different mix of herbs and aromatics, like ginger, garlic, tomato, green onion, and thyme. These flavors speak to Trinidad and Tobago’s preferences… and go wonderfully with this chicken. For this recipe, I used four whole chicken legs, which weighed about 2 lbs total. This sauce is enough to serve with 4 lbs …

menu-from-trinidad-and-tobago

Menu: Trinidad and Tobago

Keith and I just celebrated five years of marriage. There’s an old saying from Trinidad and Tobago that sums up the depths to which I love this man: There’s more in the mortar than the pestle. In other words, there’s more to this man than meets the eye. He’s not just a pair of jaw dropping hazel eyes. He’s not just the funny one. He’s sure. Stable. All things committed. And I’m so lucky to have him. What better way to celebrate my husband than two of his favorite things? Spicy food and orange juice. Sweet and hot. Please and thank you. These recipes will be posted throughout the week along with the meal review. Orange Juice Rice [Recipe] Take ordinary rice on a tropical spin; cook it up with orange juice! This pale orange, fruity dish is a must-have on the side of any spicy food. Caribbean Stew Chicken [Recipe] Stew chicken is a celebration of the Caribbean. There are so many seasonings in here – a true melting pot of flavor characteristic of the West …

default-image

About the food of Trinidad & Tobago

If you’d like to dig into a melting pot, try visiting Trinidad and Tobago via stovetop travel. These Caribbean islands, right off the coast of Venezuela, are known for having absorbed a bit of Spain, Portugal, France, Dutch, China, Africa, Creole, and Indian cooking… and spat it back out in their own, lovely cooking style. From what I can tell, the food is spicy, bold, and – like a brilliant tapestry – layered with infinite threads from the many influences… which weave an intricate flavor portrait. Curry is probably Trinidad and Tobago’s most popular food, often seasoned with an incredibly hot batch of Green Seasoning, or some variation thereof. This could be fish curry, chicken curry, long bean curry, or pretty much whatever your heart desires. The ever popular Stew Chicken is a great example of a curry-like dish made more robust with bits of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce [Recipe]. Some even add ginger and soy sauce. Hot peppers (a.k.a. Scotch Bonnet or Habenero pepper) and seasoning peppers, which are a lot like scotch bonnet peppers with …

tonga.food.recipe.img_9924

Monday Meal Review: Tonga

  My family almost didn’t get to try the Sweet Potatoes this week. Twice I screwed up the caramel. Once, Ava was too tired to eat. When she was better rested, I was out of sweet potatoes. It was a comedy of errors. Except I wasn’t laughing, To blow off some steam, Ava and I decided to wash the car. We got on our bathing suits and began to scrub. Dust and bird gunk (and so much more) gradually peeled off the car. As the car cleaned up, something curious began to happen. I began to feel better. Cleansed, even. Ava laughed – no squealed – as she got caught in the spray. And I found myself joining in her joyous refrain. When we were done, we had the watermelon ‘Otai. It was just hot enough, and we were more than thirsty. Ava wasn’t crazy about the chunks of watermelon (although I loved chewing them)… but that wasn’t the point. It never really is. The point is to try it. And to have a little fun in the process. …