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Samoan Tropical Salad

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Summer can’t come soon enough – the heat of sun on my shoulders, the way my skin smells with sunscreen on, hot evenings under the stars. So today we’re going to Samoa.

There’ll be drippy sweetness: papaya and cantaloupe. There’ll be richness, too – buttery avocado and moody – almost bitter – spinach.

And to finish it all off? A puckering of lime juice – as bright as a Samoan seascape.

"Nu'ulopa island - Samoa" by Neil - originally posted to Flickr as Nu'ulopa. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nu%27ulopa_island_-_Samoa.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Nu%27ulopa_island_-_Samoa.jpg

“Nu’ulopa island – Samoa” by Neil.

 

Typically known for rich, coconut milk-laden recipes, this Samoan salad is a healthier twist on island fare. The version I based mine on even won a Samoan recipe challenge!

Tropical Fruit

I chose this salad for sentimental reasons – something to set the scene a bit for the release of my new book Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and ForgivenessI went to Samoa 2 months before I was born (as a real life stowaway, I suppose). Scientists believe our taste preferences can be affected by what our mother’s ate while we were gestating. I like to think I carry a bit of Samoa with me today.

Samoan Fruit Salad

It was an odd beginning, I suppose – being swept halfway around the world before ever being born.

But it’s all I know.

When you read my story, you’ll understand why it’s walks the line of bitter-sweet.
Just like this salad.

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Samoan Fruit Salad
Servings
6people
Servings
6people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Add the spinach to 2 large platters or one large bowl. Slice the papaya in half, then remove seeds. Cut in strips, removing skin, and layer on salad. Do the same with the avocado and cantaloupe. Dress with a few squeezes of fresh lime juice (and serve with extra lime slices on the side). Enjoy!
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only. This recipe and hundreds more from around the world may be found at www.GlobalTableAdventure.com.

Allegory_on_the_Raid_on_the_Medway_(Cornelis_Bisschop,_1668)

On sending my book out into the world

Allegory_on_the_Raid_on_the_Medway_(Cornelis_Bisschop,_1668)sm

What we think writing a book looks like.

They say writing a book is like having a baby. I’m not so sure.

My memoir,  Life from Scratch is due into the world on March 3rd, 2015. I started writing in 2013 and can assure you that the 2-year gestation period was one of the most challenging periods of my career. I am just now starting to feel the butterflies as early press pours in from Women’s Day, O Magazine, and Food and Wine.

But in the beginning, I could only see the work that had to be done.

Weekends. Nights. Tears. Writing. Rewriting.

Rewriting again.

After I submitted my final manuscript edits to National Geographic, I told my husband “I’m ready to send my memoir out in to the world. Whatever happens now, I’ve already won – I’ve written a book – a BOOK!”

He laughed and nodded. He understood what a gift it was to get through the worry and fuss to produce a finished manuscript, ready for the world.

With a real baby weekends of worry  ramp up over a lengthy 18 years, until the child is grown up and finally off, on their own. With a book the timeline is condensed. Next week, after just two years, my book baby moves out and gets a job.

Whoa.

I can only wish what all parents wish: that you love her and become her friend.

After all, she’s still pretty new in this world. And it was a wild, sometimes dangerous adventure to get her here (see photo below).

In return, she just might inspire a few new adventures in your life.

P.S. If you’re interested in pre-ordering, please check out the special offer National Geographic has put together for you!

Allegory_on_the_Raid_on_the_Medway_(Cornelis_Bisschop,_1668)

What writing a book really looks like – controlled chaos mixed up with magic (and apparently swans).

 

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Peking Walnuts

How to make Peking Walnuts

In the spirit of DIY deliciousness, why not start off the Chinese New Year with something sweet and savory? Peking Walnuts are an impressive affair – the glossy walnuts appear lacquered, but it’s really just a simple sugar coating that’s been dunked in a vat of hot vegetable oil. While the walnuts cook, the sugar caramelizes onto the crust and takes on a reddish hue – just like Peking Duck.

The red color makes Peking Walnuts lucky.

What’s the story with the color red and Chinese New Year?

Legend has it that a Chinese beast called Nian lives under the sea and mountains. He is afraid of the color red. Chinese families use lots of red during the New Year to scare him away.Today, red signifies both luck and joy in Chinese culture.

"Central Dragon" by J Bar. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Central_Dragon.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Central_Dragon.jpg

“Central Dragon” by J Bar.

How to make Peking Walnuts (and impress all your friends):

Grab a bunch of walnuts.

How to make Peking Walnuts

Boil them until their skins fall off.

How to make Peking Walnuts

Dry well.

How to make Peking Walnuts

Toss with sugar and let dry for a couple of hours in a sunny spot (or overnight).

How to make Peking Walnuts

 

Meanwhile, go watch some fireworks!

"Kung Hei Fat Choi! (6834861529)" by Michael Elleray from England, United Kingdom - Kung Hei Fat Choi!Uploaded by russavia. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kung_Hei_Fat_Choi!_(6834861529).jpg#mediaviewer/File:Kung_Hei_Fat_Choi!_(6834861529).jpg

“Kung Hei Fat Choi!” The traditional, and famous, Chinese New Year Firework Display over Victoria Harbor in 2012. Tens of thousands of people lined the shores of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island up to 4-hours early in order to get the best views. By Michael Elleray.

When you return, deep fry the walnuts until caramelized and sticky!

How to make Peking Walnuts

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and let cool completely.

How to make Peking Walnuts

 

Chinese Candy Box

If you want to amp up the cuteness, add Peking Walnuts to a Chinese Candy Box. This red and black box has 6-8 compartments to hold candy, dried fruits, or nuts and seeds. Here’s an example:

"Candy Box" by Denise Chan - Flickr. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Candy_Box.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Candy_Box.jpg

“Candy Box” by Denise Chan.

Note: Peking walnuts are a great gift idea unless, like me, you have a husband that eats them all in one sitting, in which case you may want to make a double batch. Ahem.

Enjoy with luck and …

"Chinese paper cuttings" by ProjectManhattan - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chinese_paper_cuttings.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Chinese_paper_cuttings.jpg

“Chinese paper cuttings with lucky words for the Chinese New Year” by ProjectManhattan.

… love in your heart.

"World City. World Party. (6822307599)" by Michael Elleray from England, United Kingdom - World City. World Party.Uploaded by russavia. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:World_City._World_Party._(6822307599).jpg#mediaviewer/File:World_City._World_Party._(6822307599).jpg

“World City. World Party. Hong Kong 2012″ by Michael Elleray.

Makes 3 cups

Ingredients:

3 cups walnuts
1 cup sugar

2 cups vegetable or peanut oil
sesame seeds

Method:

Add to boiling water and cook about 8 minutes, or until pale and softened (most of the skin will have come  off).

Dry well with towels. Toss completely with sugar on a cookie sheet and let dry in a warm sunny spot for about 2 1/2 hours. The sugar will cling to the seemingly dry walnuts since there will be traces of moisture. You may want to turn once or twice early on to make sure they’re coated well. The walnut and sugar mixture is done drying when the sugar hardens into a crust around the walnuts (it’ll be hard to the touch).

To cook:

Add oil to a wok or small pot and heat to 350F. Add the walnuts in batches and fry until golden brown – 1-2 minutes (I like them best after 1 minute). Use a slotted spoon or similar to remove. Place on a clean baking sheet and spread apart with the spoon. Sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds. Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container for a couple of weeks.

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The glossy walnuts appear lacquered, but it's really just a simple sugar coating that's been dunked in a vat of hot vegetable oil. While the walnuts cook, the sugar caramelizes onto the crust and takes on a reddish hue - just like Peking Duck.Peking Walnuts
Servings
4-6
Servings
4-6
Ingredients
Instructions
To prepare
  1. Add to boiling water and cook about 8 minutes, or until pale and softened (most of the skin will have come off).
  2. Dry well with towels. Toss completely with sugar on a cookie sheet and let dry in a warm sunny spot for about 2 1/2 hours.
To cook
  1. Add oil to a wok or small pot and heat to 350F.
  2. Fry until golden brown - 1-2 minutes
  3. Place on a clean baking sheet, spread apart, and sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds.
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only. This recipe and hundreds more from around the world may be found at www.GlobalTableAdventure.com.

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Salad Niçoise

How to make Salad Niçoise.

There’s nothing like a mid-winter picnic, especially if Salad Niçoise is part of the equation.

The other day my daughter asked if we could eat dinner outside. It was sunny, the temperature in the mid-sixties. My answer? Most definitely. We bundled up – each in a cozy sweater – and set up our colorful spread on the scraggly winter landscape.

How to make Salad Niçoise.
How to make Salad Niçoise.

For the Salad Niçoise, I piled on delicately steamed French beans, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, and everything deliciously funky: Tuna, olives, capers and a few anchovies (for salty chew). A handful of crackers with cheese completed dinner (though a hunk of crusty bread would be nice, too).

How to make Salad Niçoise.

My husband flashed us all back to his “Mr Picky” days as he struggled to down one solitary anchovy. He did the work but remains unconvinced of their merits. My daughter escaped the challenge since she’s a self-proclaimed vegetarian, focusing her efforts instead on the vegetables and cheese (for protein). As for myself, I ate everything.

While we enjoyed our meal, the sun sunk behind our neighbors’ rooftop (taking the warmth with it). Our fingers gradually chilled until we found ourselves laughing, rushing our blanket and plates inside before dusk turned the invigorating air into brittle chill.

We finished our picnic indoors, huddled around the coffee table.

How to make Salad Niçoise.

Even though our winter picnic lasted a mere fifteen minutes, it was just the sort of spontaneous fun needed to break up the winter doldrums.

How to make Salad Niçoise.

Your turn.

I’d like to offer you a chance to make such a feast with your family. Thanks to Genova Tonno, one reader will win a gorgeous Gourmet Gift Basket filled with premium oil-packed Yellowfin Genova tuna, a bottle of pinot noir, tomato and basil cheese, tapenade, pesto, crackers, couscous, and artichoke hearts. The Sur la Table cutting board is aces (it’s made with olive wood) and the cookbook is full of exquisite recipe ideas.

How to make Salad Niçoise.

To Enter:

UPDATE: A winner has been chosen by random selection. Congratulations Wakenda

1.) Place a pre-order for my new memoir LIFE FROM SCRATCH (e-book or hardcover version). You can find it online at Barnes & Noble and Amazon, and will soon be available from your local independent bookstore! If you already pre-ordered my book, you can still enter this contest.

2.) Leave a comment below. 

3.) And you’re entered to win!

4.) The winner will be announced and contacted after February 16th, 2015.
If your name is chosen, you’ll need to email me your proof of purchase (a confirmation email or a photo of a receipt). 

Why pre-order my book?

life from scratchMy new memoir, LIFE FROM SCRATCH, will be here on March 3rd. If you love this blog and plan to read my memoir, please consider taking a few minutes to pre-order the book today. You may not realize this, but the more people who pre-order the book, the better chance the book has at doing well (more pre-orders help books get on the New York Times Bestseller list, for example).

Consider this contest a heart-felt thank you for your continued support.

 

Salad Niçoise

Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the dressing:

2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 shallot, minced (a small one will do nicely)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard (heaping)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspooon pepper

For the salad:

1lb baby potatoes, boiled then halved
1lb green beans, steamed and shocked in cold water
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 head butter lettuce
4 eggs, hard-boiled and sliced in half
oil-cured black olives
1-2 cans tuna
capers

Method:

For the dressing:

I like to make the salad dressing first so the shallots and garlic have time to infuse the vinegar mixture.I just add all ingredients to a small jelly jar and shake, shake, shake.

How to make Salad Niçoise.

For the eggs:

I place mine in a small pot, cover with cold water and turn the heat on high. 13 minutes later they come out perfectly. Here’s my nifty trick for perfectly sliced hard-boiled eggs.

For the potatoes and green beans:

Depending on the size of the baby potatoes, they can be cooked with the green beans (just remove the green beans with tongs if the potatoes aren’t done when the green beans are). I find both took 9-10 minutes at a boil. Shock the green beans in cold water to stop them from turning muddy.

How to make Salad Niçoise. How to make Salad Niçoise.

Once the potatoes are cooked, slice in half and toss with a few tablespoons of dressing (while still warm). In a separate bowl, do the same with the cold green beans and tomatoes.

(Adding vinaigrette to each ingredient makes for a perfectly seasoned composed salad. If you’re just going to toss everything together simply wait until serving time to add the dressing).

To assemble the salad:

Layer some lettuce on a large platter. Mound the potatoes in the center.

How to make Salad Niçoise.

Arrange the green beans in 6 bundles around the outside. Add the tomatoes and eggs in a decorative fashion.

 How to make Salad Niçoise. How to make Salad Niçoise.

Finish with a mound of tuna in the center, along with olives, capers, and some anchovies.

How to make Salad Niçoise.

Serve with extra dressing on the side.

Bon Appétit!

How to make Salad Niçoise.

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Delicately steamed French beans, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, and everything deliciously funky: Tuna, olives, capers and a few anchovies (for salty chew). A handful of crackers with cheese complete dinner.Salad Niçoise
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Dressing
Salad
Instructions
Dressing
  1. Add all ingredients to a lidded jar and shake.
Salad
  1. Layer some lettuce on a large platter. Mound the potatoes in the center.
  2. Arrange the green beans in 6 bundles around the outside. Add the tomatoes and eggs in a decorative fashion.
  3. Finish with a mound of tuna in the center, along with olives, capers, and some anchovies.
  4. Serve with extra dressing on the side.
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only. This recipe and hundreds more from around the world may be found at www.GlobalTableAdventure.com.

kir.imperial.img_7331

Kir Impérial

Kir Royale

In honor of Valentine’s Day – and being one month away from the release of my new memoir (Eeee!!) – I went to the “way back” machine and dug up what I consider to be the most romantic of all French drinks: a Kir Impérial. There are only two things you need to know about Kir Impérial.

#1 It bubbles.

#2. It tastes like love.

Kir Royale

But… since I’m a front row kind of gal…

The Story Behind Kir

Once upon a time the Kir was actually called “vin blanc cassis” – which just means “white wine currants.” According to Larousse Gastronomique, this was a specialty drink from Burgundy, France. It mixed two of the region’s best drinks: an Aligoté wine (dry white wine) and cassis (black currant liqueur).

After World War II everything changed. A priest, who helped 5,000 people escape a prisoners of war camp, was knighted and elected as the mayor of Dijon. He always served vin blanc de cassis during official meetings and celebrations, in part because there was a red wine shortage.

His name was – you guessed it – Felix Kir.

The drink became named after him because… well… by all accounts he was awesome.

Felix Kir. Photo by Dijobb Beaune www.dijonbeaunemag.fr

Felix Kir. Photo from Dijon Beaune.

Variations

Kir:  dry white wine with cassis (black currant liqueur)
Kir Communard or Rince Cochon:  red wine and cassis
Kir Royale:  champagne or dry sparking white wine and cassis
Kir Impérial:  champagne or dry sparkling white wine and raspberry liqueur (such as Chambord)

Today there are still other variations – like subbing the cassis for peach liqueur.

You can add as much of the sweet stuff as you’d like. I find a slight blushing of cassis or Chambord to be just right.

Chambord Liqueur

I enjoyed my Kir Impérial once at home, once at writer’s group, and once again while promoting my memoir in Chicago (at the ALA Mid Winter Conference). In Chicago, the Kir Impérial was the signature drink of the first author event I attended (I was honored with several prominent authors). Here are a few pictures from the weekend!

Here I am with National Geographic’s Marketing guru, as well as at a private author reception honoring me, Paolo Bacigalupi, Irvine Welsh, and one other. What a group to be included in!!

If you weren’t aware, Irvine Welsh wrote Trainspotting and a gazillion other books (he’s the tallest gentleman above), and Paolo Bacigalupi writes award-winning SciFi for adults and young adults (he’s wearing glasses).

There are more photos on my Instagram including one with me and Jason Segel and LeVar Burton.

Needless to say, I spent most of the weekend starry-eyed – what a gift to be included in the company of such great human beings and authors – especially as a first-time author.

Kir Impérial

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 750 ml bottle champagne (chilled)
1 small bottle Chambord
6- 12 raspberries (optional)

Method:

Pour a bit of Chambord at the bottom of each champagne flute – up to 10ml per person.

Next, add on the bubbly!

Enjoy with love in your heart!

Cheers – or, as they say in France… “Santé”!

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Once upon a time the Kir was actually called "vin blanc cassis" - which just means "white wine currants." According to Larousse Gastronomique, this was a specialty drink from Burgundy, France.Kir Impérial
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Pour a bit of Chambord at the bottom of each champagne flute - up to 10ml per person.
  2. Add the bubbly and enjoy.
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only. This recipe and hundreds more from around the world may be found at www.GlobalTableAdventure.com.

avas.lunch_.img_7143

Going “Down Under” with an Easy Kid’s Lunch

An Australian Lunch for Kids

Throwing together a Down Under lunch requires just a few fun ingredients. My kindergartner loves a good cheese sandwich (don’t we all!?) so this week I smeared her sandwich bread with sticky, salty yeast extract like they do in Australia and New Zealand (I couldn’t find Aussie’s preferred version, Vegemite, so I used Marmite, the version preferred in Britain and New Zealand). Let the record state: ooey gooey cheese paninis with yeast extract are also grand!

The salty smack goes a long, long way; don’t overdo it!

Ava considers Marmite

Next, leftovers came to the rescue.

On the side are leftover sweet potatoes drizzled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. In New Zealand and parts of Australia they call sweet potatoes “kumara.”

The shining star of the meal came from the fruit basket: one shiny Granny Smith apple. These green beauties were first cultivated in Australia in 1868. What an easy, authentic addition to the lunch box.

The container came back empty, so I’d say her lunch “down under” was a success!

Tips & Tricks:

  • Ava’s lunch is vegetarian but others might enjoy tossing the sweet potatoes with bacon and green onion, as with this grilled kumara salad.
  • I found marmite at the local grocery store near the… soup. I’m not really sure what that’s about.
  • Yeast extract is hard to spread – toast the bread to make it easier.

Ava's Around the World LunchesAbout around the World Lunches

Around the World Lunches began when I shared a few of Ava’s globally-inspired lunches on Instagram and Facebook. Turns out a lot of people are looking for lunch ideas – whether for school or work.

In this regular column, I share one of our Around the World lunches with you. I give you tips, like where to find ingredients or possible substitutions. If you have ideas for lunches you’d like to see or challenges you need help dealing with, let me know in the comments!

Eritrean.Spiced.Bread_.Hembesha.img_7251

Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

How to make Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

This year Ava and I brought a loaf of Eritrean Hembesha bread to the annual Martin Luther King parade. It’s a random sort of thing to bring to a parade, but I’d just pulled batch #3 out of the oven and couldn’t stand the thought of the bread cooling down without being able to enjoy a still-steaming, soft wedge.

There are few things better than a steaming-hot piece of homemade bread. 

Hembesha is no exception: the east African bread is soft and earthy with whispers of garlic, coriander, cardamom, and fenugreek. The distinct flavor profile is great with hearty stews or even on the side of scrambled eggs (perfect for a savory brunch). That being said, hembesha is traditionally served in the afternoon with tea and a drizzle of honey and/or tesmi (tesemi is spiced ghee made with ginger, garlic, onions, and berbere)

While original recipes decorate the flat loaves with nails, I’ve used a ravioli wheel (the idea came from the blog Yesterdish). I learned the hard way – don’t just score the dough – cut through 99-100% of the way. By the time the dough rises up and bakes it will seal back together with just a slight perforation (making this bread an easy one to tear apart). If you just lightly score the dough, the marks will disappear completely.

How to make Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha Recipe

Once baked, Hembesha is fragrant – though not overpowering (mound the spices in the measuring spoons for stronger flavor).  The egg and whole wheat flour add rich wholesome flavor.

I enjoyed a few pieces of the soft crumb from my lawn chair while the Martin Luther King parade marched by. Martin Luther King Day never ceases to choke me up. As always, I left with renewed hope that – one day – all peoples might be treated equally…wherever they’re from, whatever their appearance. Food is certainly a great unifier – and why I’ve kept at this blog for as long as I have. Bringing the best foods from around the world to my table – and sharing them with you – helps us feel closer to our global neighbors and brings us closer to a more peaceful, loving world.

Today, in the spirit of Martin Luther King’s message of inclusion, we’re celebrating Eritrea – one small step in celebrating the entire world

How to make Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

NOTE: Want something sweet from Eritrea instead? This hembesha recipe with cumin and raisins.

Makes one 12″ hembesha

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp instant dry yeast
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp salt
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup warm water (start with a little less)
1 large egg

additional vegetable oil, for cooking

Method:

Let’s go to beautiful Eritrea…

"Village Houses in Eritrea" by David Stanley from Nanaimo, Canada.

“Village Houses in Eritrea” by David Stanley from Nanaimo, Canada.

First, knead all ingredients together until smooth except for the last bit of vegetable oil for cooking.

Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 45 minutes- 1 hour or until doubled in size.

(Instant dry yeast works very quickly – but if you only have regular yeast this will take about 1 1/2 hours)

How to make Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

Roll out thinly to fill an oiled, 12-inch oven-safe pan or skillet – about 1/3″ thick. I used a paella pan.

How to make Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

Immediately cut with a ravioli wheel – first cut in wedges like a pizza, then cut series of lines. If the dough pulls with the cutter, try cutting towards the center.

How to cut and decorate Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

Be sure to cut 99-100% of the way through – this is the only way your cuts won’t “disappear” once baked.

How to make Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

Let rise 30-45 minutes – until puffed and doubled in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F.

After this second rise, the dough will look like this:

How to make Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

Brush with oil and and bake 15-20 minutes.

NOTE: Eritreans also like to cook their Hembesha on the stovetop. Try over medium-low (flipping once after 10 minutes)- this works better with a heavy bottom pan as it cooks more evenly.

How to make Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

Either way, brush with oil again and serve a sunny sort of afternoon…

"Making Berbere" by David Stanley from Nanaimo, Canada

“Making Berbere” by David Stanley from Nanaimo, Canada

… with a nice, hot cuppa tea and some honey or ghee mixed with berbere.

xxoo

 

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The east African bread is soft and earthy with whispers of garlic, coriander, cardamom, and fenugreek. The distinct flavor profile is great with hearty stews or even on the side of scrambled eggs (perfect for a savory brunch).Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha
Servings
6-8
Servings
6-8
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Knead all ingredients together until smooth
  2. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 45 minutes- 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  3. Roll out thinly to fill an oiled, 12-inch oven-safe pan or skillet - about 1/3" thick.
  4. Immediately cut with a ravioli wheel.
  5. Let rise 30-45 minutes - until puffed and doubled in size.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  7. Brush with oil and and bake 15-20 minutes.
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only. This recipe and hundreds more from around the world may be found at www.GlobalTableAdventure.com.

south.africa.food.recipe.img_9632

5 Easy ways to use up your spices

thailand.food.recipe.img_0918

Cleaning out the spice drawer: you either love or hate the job. For every person that has a collection of barely-used spices from their wedding 20 years ago, there are folks who try to rotate through their spices yearly. But sometimes we get stuck on how to use up that last tablespoon of a spice without trudging through an obscure recipe (a recipe that probably barely uses a pinch of the herb or spice anyway). 

The good news is that we don’t need recipes – there are a handful of quick solutions to make using up your spices simple and painless:

1. Seasoned Butter

This is by far the easiest method to use up spices – soften a stick or two of butter on the counter, then mix in 1-2 tablespoons of salt-free herbs or spices. Try making a sweet blend with cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg (honey is great in here, too). Or try a savory version with oregano, basil, and garlic (really any green herbs will work together!). Or go spicy with hot paprika, berbere or ground harissa. It’s all good on hot bread.

Use up at a dinner party, give away as gifts, or wrap and freeze until needed.

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2. Homemade Bread

Take your favorite bread recipe – an old standby – and toss in some herbs and spices to give it new life. A batch of bread dough that takes 4 cups of flour will easily take 2 Tbsp of mixed herbs or spices (as long as they are salt-free). Try equal parts cardamom, coriander and fenugreek for an east African flavor. Personally, I love a couple teaspoons of cracked, dried rosemary sprigs mixed with thyme, marjoram, or any other green herbs that need purging.

Naan in Tajikistan, photograph by Steve Evans.

Naan in Tajikistan, photograph by Steve Evans.

3. Bean Soups

Bean soups can take a lot of added flavor. Have fun adding a dash of this or that – by the time you’re done, you’ll likely wish you’d written your recipe down. For every quart of soup, add about 1 tablespoon of mixed herbs and spices. Turmeric makes any soup golden and has great health benefits. I really like adding smoked paprika for depth of flavor and 1 or 2 bay leaves are guaranteed to be good.

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4. Rice

Are you tired of plain-Jane white rice? Dump in some of your neglected herbs and spices! For every cup of white rice I make, I often add a good 2 teaspoons of seasoning – sometimes mild ones like tarragon or thyme, other times I’ll throw in a cinnamon stick with turmeric, coriander, ginger, and garlic. Just about anything works great – even mustard seeds or a couple of star anise. Use it up!

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5. Salad Dressing

Mix together 1/4 cup vineger with 1/2 cup olive oil and a little water – and whisk in green herbs – about one tablespoon makes a really flavorful dressing. Don’t forget freshly cracked peppercorns for some bite!

Bonus:

When in doubt? Sprinkle your favorite spices on homemade popcorn for a surprisingly delicious kick!

Also: our site is currently being redesigned for a simpler, cleaner look. The programmers will be adding a new feature where you’ll be able to search by ingredient – including spices or herbs – so you’ll soon have unlimited ideas with little more than the click of a mouse!! It’s going to be so fun.

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Labneh

Labneh Recipe

Labneh Recipe

Labneh Recipe

For much of December I found myself being entertained rather than entertaining. It was a nice, relaxing way to spend two weeks but I find myself – even now that we’re well into the New Year – looking for a way to make someone else feel special and cared for.  After some recipe rummaging, I had my answer: Labneh.

Soup might comfort, jelly might wibble-wobble, but Labneh delights. This Middle Eastern thickened yogurt appetizer seems oh so fancy but is really a set-it-and-forget-it kind of affair – exactly what I need to pay it forward during a busy time of year. It’s mild and tangy – but if you use full fat yogurt, very creamy and indulgent in a… healthy way (it’s made with yogurt, after all).

Does your mind ever wander when you cook? Mine does.

  • As the yogurt strained in the cool, dark refrigerator I considered the people who came in my life for no more than a season – perhaps a brilliant season, perhaps a painful one. I reminded myself that letting them go is a gift. Ahhhh, what a gift for my heart.
  • As I spooned the thick yogurt into a shallow bowl, forming ridges and valleys with my spatula, I thought of my oldest brother who gave my family a tour of the small beach town during our visit to Cape Charles, VA – the landscape undulating in its own way. I sent him a smile – thanking him for opening his world to us during Christmas.
  • As I drizzled on the olive oil, I thought of my sister who took time to sketch with me over the holidays. We’d giggled at the kitchen table, pencils in hand as we sketched fluidly. What a memory. I sent her a hug.
  • As I released a fluttering of parsley and spice over the bowl, I thought of our cousin’s New Year’s Eve wedding and the sparklers that guarded her procession through the darkness to her love. I sent her warm well-wishes.

Ava-with-more-cousins

Ava-with-her-cousins

Now… if I could just travel back to where they are and share this labneh with our whole family!

Vacation went by way too fast (doesn’t it always?).

Three ways to share labneh:

1. Set a shallow bowl of labneh out and serve with flatbread and vegetable sticks.

2. Cover your palms with olive oil and roll the labneh into balls. The oil will help prevent sticking. Store in olive oil. And/or finish them off by rolling in chopped herbs, za’atar or ground sumac. Spread on toast or flatbread.

3. If you can’t use it all up here’s another idea – cook it!

Yogurt strained through muslin is a traditional food in the Levant, Eastern Mediterranean, Near East, Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent, where it is often used in cooking (as it is high enough in fat content to avoid curdling at higher temperatures). (Wikipedia)

Who knew!?

As far as easy entertaining and impressive edible gifts go, labneh ranks up there among the a) most impressive b) simplest c) best edible gifts.

Just be sure to set some yogurt to strain a day or two before you need it (things will go quicker if you start with Greek yogurt, as I have done).

Makes about 3 cups labneh

Ingredients:

1 quart Greek yogurt, preferably whole
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

Toppings (use as desired):

up to 3 Tbsp ground sumac or za’atar
handful fresh parsley and/or tarragon, torn
olive oil for drizzling

For Rolling:

Handful minced chives
up to 1/4 cup ground sumac
1 -2 cups olive oil, for storing
small glass jars (for gifts)

Method:

We’re going to the Middle East.

There may be camels.

Camel Crossing. Photo by josefstuefer.

Camel Crossing. Photo by josefstuefer.

Set a strainer over a bowl and line with cheesecloth. Spoon in the yogurt and let drain 1-2 days, depending on desired thickness.

How to strain labneh

Meanwhile, take a stroll through the countryside.

Looking down into a wadi on the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. A tree of an unidentified species of Acacia (possibly Acacia tortilis) grows even in this arid environment. Photo by Florian Prischl.

Looking down into a wadi on the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. Photo by Florian Prischl.

Stir thickened yogurt together with salt and lemon juice to taste.

Labneh Recipe

To serve:

a) Spoon into shallow bowl and top with fresh herbs.

b) Roll into balls with oiled hands. Store in olive oil or roll balls in fresh herbs, sumac, or za’atar. Keep refrigerated.

TIP: If you place the herbs in a small cup or bowl, you can just shake them around. They’ll get coated and become rounder in the process.

Labneh Recipe

Labneh Recipe

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It's mild and tangy - but if you use full fat yogurt, very creamy and indulgent.Labneh
Servings
3cups
Servings
3cups
Ingredients
Yogurt ingredients
Toppings (as desired)
For rolling
Instructions
  1. Set a strainer over a bowl and line with cheesecloth. Spoon in the yogurt and let drain 1-2 days, depending on desired thickness.
To serve
  1. Spoon into shallow bowl and top with fresh herbs.
  2. Roll into balls with oiled hands.
  3. Store in olive oil or roll balls in fresh herbs, sumac, or za'atar.
Recipe Notes

If you place the herbs in a small cup or bowl, you can just shake them around. They'll get coated and become rounder in the process.

Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only. This recipe and hundreds more from around the world may be found at www.GlobalTableAdventure.com.

avas.lunch_.img_7198-600x400

A Polish lunch that’ll clean out your fridge

Polish Lunch

Whether your child is in a growth spurt or you just need a meal to satisfy you longer than the 20 minutes it takes to eat it, Polish comfort food is the answer. We ate ours back on December 23rd, three hours before locking up the house and flying to spend 11 days with more than a dozen family members (First stop: Cape Charles Virginia, to see one of my brothers and sisters, and their kids. Second stop: Martinsburg, West Viriginia for our cousin’s wedding and most of Keith’s family).

In large part, this hurried meal was the kind of “cleaning out the fridge” and “pantry upkeep” situation I engage in every time I travel. It started because the potatoes threatened to grow legs and walk off while we were away.  In the fridge, I had a link of kielbasa sausage and package of fresh sauerkraut with imminent expiration dates, plus some carrots and Brussels sprouts that I just knew would be despondent upon our return.

I pan-fried the vegetables and sausage while the potatoes boiled. As the components came together on our trays I realized this is very Polish. So, for good measure, I added some pickles, apple sauce, and apple cider. And there you have it. Polish comfort food. (Later, when turbulence and a thunderclap less than a mile from the plane kept our flight attendants from passing out snacks and drinks, I was able to focus on fear instead of fear and hunger.)

Notes and Tips:

  • Try serving your Brussels sprouts with dill and sour cream – this is very traditional in Poland.
  • The Brussels sprouts are also very good fried with the kielbasa (I kept them separate s0 my little vegetarian could enjoy them – she got tofu instead of kielbasa). If you have other veggies, feel free to add them (onion would be really good).
  • Instead of potatoes, try pierogi.
  • Leftovers can go straight into the freezer for another time. The night we got back I chopped them up and added them to lentils to make soup – even the sauerkraut. It was great!
  • For more Polish recipe ideas and cultural info, check out some of our other Polish posts.
  • Watch out for cider thieves!

Ava's Around the World LunchesAbout around the World Lunches

Around the World Lunches began when I shared a few of Ava’s globally-inspired lunches on Instagram and Facebook. Turns out a lot of people are looking for lunch ideas – whether for school or work.

In this regular column, I share one of our Around the World lunches with you. I give you tips, like where to find ingredients or possible substitutions. If you have ideas for lunches you’d like to see or challenges you need help dealing with, let me know in the comments!

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Why I’m terrified of telling you about my memoir

sasha-martin

My dear friend Becky and I had been chatting over drinks for more than an hour when I suddenly mumbled “I’m terrified of telling my readers about my memoir.” The admission took me by surprise, as did the tears that spilled down my cheeks. I added, almost self consciously, “I don’t know how to tell them … isn’t that crazy?” I darted my eyes around R Bar expecting to lock eyes with frowning onlookers, but the only other patrons were engrossed with each other, the flush of new romance in their eyes.

Truth is, I’ve been scared to tell you about my memoir for a long time. Sure: I’ve told you about the book casually – in a billboard announcement sort of way (clipped, chirpy, and relatively benign). But I haven’t told you in a pour my soul out through the keyboard sort of way. And – for better or worse – that’s the kind of announcement this book seems to require.

My friend took in my tears, then said:  “Tell them the truth: that you’re scared; that you cried at a bar just thinking about telling them.” She gave me a gentle smile and added, “Start there. You’ll know what to write after that.”

And so the words flow on…

Contradiction or Confluence?

One major reason I’m afraid to tell you about my memoir is because it will mark a significant change both in how you see me and how you see this blog. Until now, I’ve been a fun-loving food explorer to you. You cheered as my daughter grew from a 7-month old to a 5-year old, all while eating food from 195+ countries and territories. You laughed when my picky husband sniffed his way through (most of) the foods I prepared.  And you sent email after email in support of my mission of peace through food. This blog has always been about the good and the silly - purposefully bypassing any discussions of war, poverty, or suffering in an effort to celebrate the cuisine of every country.

I was the world’s biggest cheerleader.

And yet.

Naked before you.

Obsessively cooking the world distracted me from my troubled past – a past I had yet to examine and whose truths I kept from these pages by maintaining a careful grip on my keyboard.

But soon – in less two months – you’ll know so, so much more about me.

Adrenaline flows through my fingertips even as I write these words.

So many of you think my memoir will be about cooking the world – and it is, in a way. But that’s only the last third of the book. So much more of my memoir is about what drove me to obsessively cook the world – the trials and tribulations of my childhood that made me hungry for peace. In fact, most of the book dives deeply into the very things I avoided through this blog:

Grief. Loss. Separation. Heartbreak.

I crave peace because I lived so long without it.

Of course, it couldn’t be my book without food. Rest assured: this is a real food memoir with 29 recipes and countless delicious descriptions. Within the pages food and cooking repeatedly reveal themselves to be sources of comfort and healing. Perhaps that is why this book is also unlike any food memoir I’ve read – it gets raw with life – my life.

Eeek.

Dream stone

A significant change in the life of this blog for 2015

I have to face the facts: with the release of my deeply personal memoir, Global Table Adventure must become something more. What exactly that will look like, I don’t know. To be honest, change scares me. I’m a bit slow on the uptake. That being said, we’re pushing forward because a redesign process is way overdue (we’ve had this current design for four years now). The new look will be revealed in February. If all goes according to plan, the new framework will provide some wiggle-room for Global Table Adventure to grow and flourish in new ways.

What I know so far:

  • I want to keep sharing and learning through world cuisine.
  • Thus far, the word “table” in Global Table Adventure has indicated the 650+ recipes I tried and shared with you, as well as this last Year of Global Celebrations, and several Around the World Lunches.  But the “table” can represent much more: community, family, togetherness. We do more than eat around the table. I want to explore this.
  • I’m not exactly planning a barrage of personal essays but I DO want to blend a little more of me into these pages. I’m not just a cook. I’m a mother, an artist, a writer, and a dreamer. And many more things besides. (Why is this so scary to admit!?!)
  • I want to connect more with each of you! I am so grateful for your support over the years and consider you friends, whether you joined today or back in February 2010. I hope you will be open to these changes as the site evolves. (Several of you who follow me on Instagram – especially while I wrote the book – have already seen more of my life. This openness has fed my soul).
  • It is my great desire that, by opening up in this way, I find my spark again – that curiosity will once again drive this site and that, together, we can make great discoveries.

I hope you don’t mind. In fact, I hope you come along for the ride.

With love, from our home to yours.

xxoo
Sasha, Keith & Ava

P.S. If you want to enter to win a copy of my memoir Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness, please enter now at Goodreads. 50 copies are available: I’d be thrilled if some of you won them! Also: if you’d like more info on the book, including how to preorder, go to my book page.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

 

Life From Scratch by Sasha Martin

Life From Scratch

by Sasha Martin

Giveaway ends January 15, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

New-Years

10 New Year’s Food Traditions from around the World

New-Years

Before the confetti and the fireworks glitter through our skies, our global neighbors teach that we must first take a little time to dream. You see, if we imagine our futures as bright and as shiny and as real as the stars above us, we come that much closer to realizing our dreams. It’s called positive thinking. And all around the world, people accomplish this through a brilliant collection of New Year’s food traditions.

These food traditions aren’t just another nice meal with a game attached; they’re a way to represent everything we want for ourselves and our loved ones. When we eat symbolic meals, it’s the best kind of positive thinking (hello, happy tummies and hearts).

Here are my favorite New Year’s food traditions from around the world, with recipes pulled from our archives. Try one this year to make your very own Global New Year.

LOL

1. “RING” in the New Year

Rings are a symbol both of continuous love and of “coming full circle.” Any food made in a ring shape is a great choice to celebrate the New Year because it is said to bestow upon the people a promise of love and completeness in the year to come.  While donuts and bagels fit the bill, many cultures, especially in Europe, are particularly fond of ring cakes.

I adore the Scandinavian Ring Cake we made for our Norwegian Global Table. This cake is make from chewy almond paste cookies “glued” together with icing. The end result is an epic tower worthy of weddings, birthdays, and – yup – New Year’s. While many recipes use special pans to accomplish this geometric beauty, I did the math so that all you need is a couple of baking pans and a ruler.

Another great option is the King’s Cake from our Global Table for Liechtenstein. These soft, sweet rolls are made with fresh citrus zest, a twinkling of sugar, and raisins. Traditionally served for Epiphany on January 6, an almond is tucked inside; whoever receives it is crowned King or Queen for the day. Due to the ring shape of the cake, I think it would be a fun addition to a Global New Year’s buffet.

2. “Hidden Future”

Speaking of hiding almonds… there’s an entire quadrant of New Year’s food traditions that revolves around hidden treats, especially in rice pudding. The hidden prize (usually an almond or raisin) is a symbol of how we don’t know what the future holds, but it also promises that whoever gets the lucky token will receive a year of good fortune. We’ve made several rice puddings over the years, including a Mango Coconut Rice Pudding from Laos, a Macedonian Rice Pudding with cinnamon, and an epic Chocolate and Coconut Rice Pudding from Samoa.

3. Soak up the “bad”

If you’re planning a rough night out on the town, the answer might be Russian Potato Salad, a.k.a. Olivier Salad. This bad boy is a three course meal in one bite. Russians love bringing the ham, pea, carrot, and egg laden salad to any celebration, but especially to New Year’s because of it’s ability to soak up a boozy belly. Speaking of which, some people like to press the salad into a bowl and then flip it over. The resulting dome shape is said to be the pillow upon which a drunken fool can sleep. Really.

4. “Pass the Plate”

Need a bit of jingle in your pocket? If you seek prosperity in the New Year, legumes are the answer. In Italy this means Lentils, while in the Southern parts of the United States this means eating a hearty serving of Black-eyed Peas. Why not set a Global Table this year… and try an African recipe featuring this beautiful bean? Just be sure to eat at least one bean for every day of the year. That’s right…365 beans, my friends. We’ve made two neat dishes with black-eyed peas…

There’s Red Red, which we cooked for Ghana. This recipe featured Black Eyed Peas in red palm oil (hence the name). The flavor of red palm oil is rich and unique to West African cooking… and a really fun with the added peppers, onions, and tomatoes.

Then there’s Pureed Black Eyed Peas mashed with butter (lots of it) from Benin. This creamy, addictive recipe comes from the early days of the blog (pardon the photography and lack of stovetop travel photos), but if you can handle the task of peeling a pile of beans, you’ll be rewarded with the most comforting puree around.

5. “A bite of Gold never hurt”

While we’re talking about good luck and prosperity from “coin” beans, what about good-ol’ fashioned “gold”? Have no fear… if you’re looking to bring more gold into your life, you simply need to eat some cornbread (traditionally served with the black-eyed peas). We’ve made two great cornbread recipes during this Adventure… both of which would make a delightful addition to any New Year’s spread.

The Paraguayan Cornbread, loaded with peppers, onions, real corn, and tons of cheese, is Mr. Picky’s favorite. The Albanian Cornbread, made with feta, green onion and paprika, is one of mine.

6. “Pork for Progress”

Have you ever watched a pig walk? They root their snout into the soft earth, and inch their way forward. This habit has created yet another New Year’s food tradition around the world: “roast pork” for progress in the year to come. Why not try a Roast Pork with boozy Prunes from Lithuania, or a Milk and Herb Braised Pork Roast from San Marino (that tiny country inside of Italy) to help you make progress on that DIY project or workout goal?

7. “Noodle Ahead”

In Asia, long noodles represent a long life… as long as they aren’t cut. Why not invite some friends over for a noodle slurping night? We’ve made some really awesome noodle dishes, but my favorites are Laos Rice Noodle Soup (a DIY soup made with fresh herbs, raw beef flash cooked in the hot broth, limes, and more) and  Lagman Shurpa (an amazingly simple but flavorful lamb, carrot and turnip soup with homemade noodles and seasoned with basil, from Central Asia).

8. Get your Grape on

Spanish and Portuguese folk have been eating 12 grapes for good luck on New Year’s for more than a hundred years. The game is to eat them all before the stroke of midnight. Apparently it all started as a way to use up surplus grapes. You don’t need a Global Recipe for this idea, just some sweet produce and an appetite for the good life. Pay attention to which grapes taste sweet and sour though: if the 8th grape is sour, August will be a sour month.

If, however, you do want to cook something a little tricky, try this Grape and Walnut Candy from our Georgian Global Table… Maybe make strings of 12 walnuts per person? A little creativity is the name of the game when it comes to a Global New Year!

9. “Think Green”

Turns out it pays to eat your greens at least one day per year… Foods like kale, collards, and cabbage are eaten the world around to symbolize wealth… the green representing dollar bills. Try Rwandan “Agatogo” with Collard Greens (made with a simple combination of plantains, peanuts, and collard greens) and Kale to “Push the Week” from Kenya, a fresh and flavorful side.

10. Put some Booze in It

I’m not sure it’s an official New Year’s food tradition, but pretty much any food with booze in it seems to fit the bill for a great New Years. My vote? Guinness Chocolate Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream from Ireland. Either that or Midnight Mocha Rum Cake from Panama (bonus: it’s ring-shaped!). Both cakes are so amazing, you won’t even miss the champagne.

Unless you wanted to eat them with champagne.

Speaking of which… before this Adventure, the only thing that crossed my mind when I heard the words “New Year’s” was champagne. Bubbly. Golden. Ethereal.  But once I looked to the world to mix and match my Global New Year’s Table, I realized there are many more beautiful ways to celebrate than just sipping on flutes.

What are some of your traditions?

Wishing you and your loved ones a most Joyous 2013. 

See you on Tuesday, when we resume our Global Table Adventure with Saudi Arabia!