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How to throw an Egyptian themed birthday party

How to throw an Egyptian Themed Birthday Party

Walk the aisles of any party store and the selections are the same: overpriced plastic renditions of the latest Disney craze. But what would happen if I helped my child see there’s more to the world than someone else’s fairy tale?

What interests your child? Start there.

Ava’s Egyptian-themed birthday party came about in a round-about way… but it’s always been about what she loves.

About six months before her 5th birthday, I noticed she would often ask to read a book on gemstones that her Grammie gave her. She poured over each drawing, asking me to list which gemstone was which. Soon, she knew our birthstones by heart – ruby and moonstone.

Looking to build on her interest in Geology, I introduced her to Archaeology… the art of digging up artifacts from historical sites. We took several books out of the library about ancient Egypt in particular.

How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

Observing her continued fascination with the “dig,” I asked her if she would like to do some sort of dig for her birthday party and she enthusiastically agreed.  It would be a gemstone AND an artifact dig, she decided.

Oh, and she really, really wanted to camp out.

From there the plans took off.

How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

TIP: As you read along you’ll see lots of tips, tricks, and a few printables. I put everything together (with several improvements) in an easy to download guide so you can recreate this party for your own family:

Egyptian Birthday Party Resource Kit

The Location

A beach and campsite about 30 minutes from Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Lake Oologah, otherwise known as “Egypt by the Nile.”

The Invitations

How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party | DIY Invitation

Most of our invitations were done with a Facebook Event page one month before the party. We also handmade invitations for a handful of Ava’s closest friends. I found a Hieroglyphic Key online and let Ava use it to draw the word “party.” I then color copied and cut out her designs. We glued it to card stock along with  more specific details (found on the inside).

We also included the hieroglyphic key on the back of the card so her friends could have fun drawing their own names.  We dropped these off at our friends’ homes 2-3 weeks before the party.

The Dig

How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party | DIY Artifact Dig

Ava and I spent one afternoon on a blanket at our local arboretum making artifacts out of polymer clay. I brought a cookie sheet and after each artifact was formed, we placed it on the sheet. When we got home we baked our treasures to harden and protect.

We made lots of gemstones, pendants, beads, as well as some items inspired by real Egyptian artifacts we found in library books, such as a King Tut, a sphinx, a statue of a cat, a hippo, and more. Ava got into making tornadoes and bowls, too… the photo above only shows half of the artifacts we made!

I decided to photocopy our inspiration pictures and glue them on a sheet of paper. This became a guide to go with the bigger artifacts so that the children could read up on what they’d dug up.

Oh, and no worries if your children make “unidentifiable” shapes – we invited the children to imagine what these more indistinguishable items might have been used for (that’s the job of a good archaeologist after all!).

DIY Archeological Dig | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

On the day of the dig we gave the children baskets I purchased at the local thrift store. They used them both for sifting the sand from the artifacts as well as to store their finds. While we could have done the dig by the beach, we did it up by our campsite while the “birthday cakes” were cooking (more on that later).

DIY Archeological Dig | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

DIY Archeological Dig | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

The Favors

Since our Egyptian-themed favors were a little unusual, I included a description with them. You can see it rolled up and attached to the goodie bags with raffia.

DIY Goody Bags | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

DIY Goody Bags | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

Licorice Root 

This was fun because the kids were all “why is there a stick in my favor bag”… but I explained to them they could chew it or pop it in a pot of hot water to make tea. Just like they do in Egypt (Ancient Egyptians treasured licorice root for its natural sweetness, rich flavor and restorative properties).  I found these for 10 cents each at our local Renaissance Fair, but I bet you could find them at a good spice shop – call around or browse online.

Tattoos

Did you know that Egyptian woman are credited with having some of the earliest tattoos in the world, from over four thousand years ago!? These peace sign tattoos were sent in by Ava’s Uncle G. Perfect timing! 

Egyptian Trail Mix & Sesame Candies

A mix of Egypt’s favorite snacks: almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, dried apricots, and golden raisins.

Honey Sticks

Ancient Egyptians thought honey could cure a toothache. Pharaohs were even buried with pots of honey.  Archaeologists, excavating their tombs, found pots of honey, thousands of years old. The honey was still fresh!

Glow Sticks

Last but not least, every archaeologist needs a little light! The glow sticks will help guide the children on future adventures! (Be careful to identify these as non-edible, since they look a lot like honey sticks.)

Party Favors | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

Ava helped assemble the goodie bags the night before, at our campsite…though there was still a bit of work leftover after she crashed out in the tent!

Party Favors | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

The Food

The Menu | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

egypt-1

Authentic Egyptian Menu | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

The menu was camping meets Egypt…. it had to hold up in hot weather and be refreshing. Thankfully that’s the goal in Egypt, too, where temperatures can soar up to to 104F during the day.

Popcorn

Though mentions of “corn” in the pyramids probably referred to barley, popcorn is now a popular treat in East Africa, often served with coffee.

Nuts & Fruits

Roasted nuts such as almonds, pistachios, and dried seeds are sold from pushcarts all over Egypt. On hot days a juicy slice of watermelon and dried figs or apricots cool off the weariest wanderer.

Hibiscus & Pomegranate Tea

Hibiscus from Upper Egypt is considered among the world’s finest and is particularly wonderful with another beloved Egyptian fruit – the pomegranate.

Basboosa [Recipe]

A traditional semolina cake made with orange blossom water, lemon juice, rose water, and ghee. The texture is unusually moist thanks to an overnight soak in lemon and rose water syrup.

Orange Campfire Cake (see below)

Oranges grow up and down the Nile, making Egypt one of the world’s greatest producers of the fruit. In honor of this yummy crop, each family baked a cake inside an orange to share.

Basboosa Cake | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

Orange Campfire Cakes

Oranges grow really well on the banks of the Nile – so well, in fact, that Egypt is one of the world’s greatest producers of oranges. I thought it’d be fun to help the kids celebrate this amazing fruit by doing a little campfire cake.

How to bake a campfire cake:

We cut the tops off the oranges, hollowed them out with grapefruit spoons, and added vanilla cake batter inside (from a box is fine – the batter from one box will fill 10-12 oranges).

We then popped on the top, wrapped the oranges tightly in foil and cooked them on the hot embers for 30-35 minutes (cooking times will vary depending on how hot your campfire is).

It really helped to have the foil precut and have a couple of adults help hollow the oranges. The pulp makes a great mixed drink for the adults (just add rum and ice!).

Orange Campfire Cakes | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

It’s hard to overcook these cakes since the orange skin protects the cake batter – so even if it burns, the cake inside is still moist and tender

Orange Campfire Cakes | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

How to cook Orange Campfire Cakes | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

Orange Campfire Cakes | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

Orange Campfire Cakes | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

kids-eating-camfire-cake

Orange Campfire Cakes | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

Lesson Learned:

Birthdays don’t have to be expensive look-a-likes in order to be memorable. 

In the end, Ava’s Egyptian themed birthday party was incredibly fun. Many parents echoed the sentiment, saying it was the best party they’d ever been to. Cooking the cakes in oranges was a definite highlight, though the artifact dig was a close second. 

In all honesty, there was nothing super complicated about this party. Decor was handmade or picked up at the library or thrift store… even the goodie bags were just brown paper lunch bags. The table cloths didn’t match. But everything went together in a shabby-chic sort of way… and the theme was love.

Best of all? Ava had a blast.

I may have peaked with this party planning thing… until Ava has her next awesome idea!

 

Here’s an instant download with everything we used for the party: 

 

Egyptian Birthday Party Resource Kit

 

This download includes the Dig Guide, Goodie Bag Content Description, Egyptian Menu, along with basic instructions, decor ideas, and invitation ideas. The documents have been updated and improved to have papyrus looking paper and other fun details.

How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

(Whole drawing) Procession of figures with offerings; part of a wall-painting from the tenth tomb at Gourna, Thebes. Made during an expedition to Egypt organised by Robert Hay between 1826 and 1838.

(Whole drawing) Procession of figures with offerings; part of a wall-painting from the tenth tomb at Gourna, Thebes. Made during an expedition to Egypt organised by Robert Hay between 1826 and 1838.

You may be surprised what happens when you ask your child about their interests:

Their birthday party may take a turn for the better!

What do you love about the best birthday parties you’ve been to (kids or adults)?

What did they do right? What did they do differently?

* Photo of Nofretete by Philip Pikart.

 

P.S. I’m happy to spread the Egyptian love… which means a GIVEWAY!

HOW TO WIN:  If anyone can use our painted Egyptian sheet that we used for a backdrop behind or buffet, I’ll be happy to mail it to you! If more than one person wants it, I’ll give it away to a random commenter. Just leave me a comment as to why you’d like it!

Good luck :)  

 

pickled-figs

Homemade Balsamic Figs | Entertaining the Italian way

How to make Balsamic Pickled Figs

A daydream worth dreaming

Cobblestone alleys flanked by weathered walls. Hilltop churches. Sunlight warm on fig trees and grapevines.  This is the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.

Deep in the cellars there’s Parmesan, balsamic, and prosciutto aging. They slumber in the dim recesses, the nuttiness and salt growing bolder, rounder. Waiting for the perfect moment to shine.

Waiting to become the perfect bite.

Photo of the Secchia River by Roberto Ferrari from Campogalliano (Modena), Italy.

Photo of the Secchia River by Roberto Ferrari from Campogalliano (Modena), Italy.

And by perfect I don’t mean fancy.

I mean perfectly un-fussed.

How to make Balsamic Pickled Figs

The Art of Un-fussing

When it comes to entertaining, I constantly have to remind myself to un-fuss.

My friends don’t have fancy expectations – they want laughter.

No one minds if elbows are on the table,  as long as there’s a drink in every hand.

And when it comes to food? The simpler the better.

How to make Balsamic Pickled Figs and un-fussy antipasto.

The perfect bite

I could take a lesson from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. There, antipasto is a way of life.

Antipasto is the embodiment of the pefect, unfussed bite: A leathery bit of dried fruit or the sweet squish of fresh fruit. A pluck of cheese and a shaving of meat. Some sort of soft pickled thing and a crispy crust.

In Emilia-Romagna, even the most ordinary antipasti are laden with the best of their local harvest  – figs wrapped in prosciutto, perhaps some microgreens, a drizzle of balsamic on a hunk of Parmesan. 

Place it on a board, call it a day. Something for everyone. 

The magic of Balsamic

This week Whole Journeys, Whole Food Market’s amazing new travel division, challenged me to pickle something incredible with balsamic vinegar from Modena, a province of Emilia Romagna… to help bring in the summery goodness of Emilia-Romagna to light.

What an honor! And what fun!!

Balsamic vinegar from Modena

Whole Journeys is all about lo-key tours centered around the ingredients Whole Foods Market sources, in the countries where they source them. Think bicycle rides through the Italian country side, exploring markets and farms …all while cooking and tasting the best ingredients. And, of course, they have a tour of Emilia-Romagna coming up this fall, featuring local wines, step-by-step making of balsamic vinegar, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Proscuitto di Parma.

I immediately knew what I had to do: marry the most beautiful ingredients in the region with Homemade Balsamic Figs.

Fresh Brown Figs

A seasonal delight

For the Whole Journeys challenge I picked up a pound of fresh Brown Figs, making sure the fruit was heavy and the skin velvety. Figs are in season right now – tender, mildly sweet bites of summer. 

A few nicks here and there told me the skin was fragile – one telltale sign of ripeness. Still – they figs should be fairly firm so as to not fall apart when pickled.

How to make Balsamic Pickled Figs.

After a quick boil in honey and a pucker of balsamic vinegar, the figs find the perfect sweet/tart balance. But it’s the rosemary and thyme infusion that makes the figs and their thin syrup hum… a fresh, earthy note, as though they were plucked from the trees moments ago.

And darned if I can’t shut my eyes when I’m eating them and imagine myself in Italy.

Antipasto Salad

What to do with pickled figs

  • Antipasto-inspired Salad: fill a platter with peppery leaves of arugula. Top with shaved parmesan, rolls of proscuitto, cracked black pepper, and slices of pickled figs. Fresh strawberries are a bonus. Drizzle with pickling liquid and olive oil. You can see my rendition on Instagram.
  • Snacks: As the weeks go by, the ripest figs will soften into the pickling liquid. Smash them on a cracker or over a salty piece of Parmesan.
  • Hostess Gift: Have a friend that loves figs or balsamic vinegar?  A small jar of pickled figs will wow them. Bonus? Bring some on the antipasto salad to share (and convince them of the figs’ winning flavor), then give your friend their own jar as a parting gift.
  • Sweet Balsamic Fig Salad Dressing: The leftover pickling liquid can be used to make the most divine salad dressing. Just add olive oil and season with salt and fresh cracked pepper!
  • Prosecco Mixer: Add a drizzle of the honey-infused pickling liquid to a cold, bubbly glass of Prosecco. This treatment is inspired by the folks in Emilia-Romagna who add straight balsamic to their glasses. Ah-mazing.

How to spike prosecco with balsamic vinegar

THE GIVEAWAY

UPDATE: Congratulations to reader, Kelly D.! After running everyone through Random.org, she’s our lucky winner! Send me an email to claim your gift certificate, Kelly :)

I invite you to capture the essence of Emilia-Romagna yourself… especially the art of un-fussing your feasts. To help with this, one lucky winner will get a $50 Whole Foods Shopping Spree to create the un-fussed antipasto of their dreams… thanks to the generosity of Whole Journeys.

How to win:

1. Leave a comment on this page and tell me how you un-fuss your feasts – especially how you keep entertaining simple during the summer.

2. Share this post on your favorite social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter) and link to it in your comment for an extra entry.

3. That’s it!

The contest runs through Wednesday, July 16, 2014. A winner will be chosen at random the next day.

How to pickle figs

Balsamic Pickled Figs with Fresh Herbs & Honey
Recipe inspired by Food & Wine.

Ingredients:

One quart canning jar OR three to four 1/2 pint canning jars with lids and rings
1 1/4 cups honey
2 cups water
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1  pound small firm-but-ripe fresh brown figs (18-20)
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
a sprig rosemary and/or thyme per jar

Method:

Sterilize the jars and tongs.

Prepare jars, lids, and tongs by running through the sterilize setting on the dishwasher or covering them with water and boiling for 10 minutes. Do not remove from sanitized pot or dishwasher until needed.

How to sterilize jars for pickling

Cook the figs

Place the  honey, water, and balsamic vinegar in a pot ad bring to a boil. Add the figs, simmer 1-2 minutes, and remove from heat.

Jar & season the figs

Divide the figs evenly among the jars with sterile tongs. Cover with cooking liquid (leave about 1/4 inch at the top of the jar). Divide the peppercorns and herbs between jars. Attach lids.

Tip: If there’s any extra cooking liquid, save it as the base for a fantastic salad dressing!

Cook the figs again

Boil a large pot with water. Place the sealed jars in the pot, completely submerging them. Start a timer and boil this way for about 10 minutes. Let rest in the hot water about five minutes, then remove with tongs and let cool at room temperature.

Check the seal

The next day make sure each lid is sealed (there should be no flex up or down when you push down on the lid (same as with a tamper proof lid). Store in a cool, dry and dark place for up to 12 months. Tip: If jars have not sealed refrigerate immediately and eat them up within a week.

Enjoy!

A recipe for Pickled Figs

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Homemade Balsamic Figs | Entertaining the Italian way
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Sterilize the jars and tongs. Prepare jars, lids, and tongs by running through the sterilize setting on the dishwasher or covering them with water and boiling for 10 minutes. Do not remove from sanitized pot or dishwasher until needed.
  2. Cook the figs Place the honey, water, and balsamic vinegar in a pot ad bring to a boil. Add the figs, simmer 1-2 minutes, and remove from heat.
  3. Jar & season the figs Divide the figs evenly among the jars with sterile tongs. Cover with cooking liquid (leave about 1/4 inch at the top of the jar). Divide the peppercorns and herbs between jars. Attach lids. Tip: If there’s any extra cooking liquid, save it as the base for a fantastic salad dressing!
  4. Cook the figs again Boil a large pot with water. Place the sealed jars in the pot, completely submerging them. Start a timer and boil this way for about 10 minutes. Let rest in the hot water about five minutes, then remove with tongs and let cool at room temperature.
  5. Check the seal The next day make sure each lid is sealed (there should be no flex up or down when you push down on the lid (same as with a tamper proof lid). Store in a cool, dry and dark place for up to 12 months. Tip: If jars have not sealed refrigerate immediately and eat them up within a week.
Recipe Notes

You'll need one quart canning jar OR three to four 1/2 pint canning jars with lids and rings

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.

gta.burgers.img_5774

If your part of the world was a burger, this would be it. (ASIAN EDITION)

The World in 12 Burgers: Asian Edition!

Photos: Afghan girl, by Capt. J. Severns; Filipino girl by V. David, Nepalese child by Steve Evans.

 

What’s cooking in Asia?

Asian food might have you thinking stir-fry and noodle soups, but I’m in the mood for a little imaginative play …

I’m in the mood to make Asian-inspired Burgers.

But first. A warning.

Asia is HUGE.

Not all the flavors are soy sauce and sesame oil!

Map of Asia courtesy of Wikipedia.

A road map to flavor

We’ll start with a burger characteristic of the Middle East – yup – the Middle East is part of Asia, too! Then we’ll travel north through central Asia, onto the more “standard” Asian flavors, at which point we’ll make a SHARP turn south to hit Oceania… a bonus continent for this round!

As always, these burgers are mere teasers.

If any of them inspire you to explore the continents in more depth, check out more than 650 recipes I made from every country in world. There’s something for everyone!

Also, check out the two other editions of this series: Part 1 (Burgers of the Americas & Europe) and Part 2 (Burgers of Africa).

 

The Middle Eastern | Kofta Burger

The World in 12 Burgers: The Middle Eastern (Kofta Burger)

There are so many incredible flavors in the Middle East, but this Kofta Burger captures the essence of them all. Kofta means spiced meatball (often finger-shaped), so the burger is an easy (and logical) adaptation. The flavor profile? Just like the original recipe! Think fresh parsley, cilantro, grated red onion, cinnamon, coriander, and cumin.

Epic, bold and easy.

This is definitely one of the best burgers in this series.

Camel Herder in the Middle East. Photo by Nick Shields.

How to make a Kofta Burger:

Combine 1 pound ground beef or lamb with 1 Tbsp fresh parsley (chopped), 1 Tbsp fresh cilantro  (chopped), 1 small red onion  (grated & excess liquid drained off), 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook on a well-oiled grill over medium heat until done, flipping once. Serve on a toasted bun and top with grilled red onion.

 

The Central Asian | Red Pepper and Basil Lamb Burger

The World in 12 Burgers: Asian Edition (The Central Asian/Red Pepper and Basil Lamb Burger)

One of the more interesting dishes we tried when my family cooked our way around the world was Lagman Shurpa – a noodle stew from Central Asia with lamb, root veggies, tomato, handmade noodles, a touch of vinegar, basil and red pepper flakes.

We couldn’t stop eating it!

So I decided to take inspiration from this wintery soup to make a summery burger. The result is fresh, moderately spicy, and filling… the secret? Give it a little tang with a touch of white vinegar on the bun.

Yum, yum.

Karkaraly National Park. Photo by S. Reznichenko.

Karkaraly National Park, Kazakhstan. Photo by S. Reznichenko.

How to make a Red Pepper & Basil Burger:

Combine 1 lb ground lamb with 1 small red or white onion  (grated & excess liquid drained off), 2 cloves garlic (crushed), 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 heaping tablespoon thinly sliced basil leaves.  Cook on a well-oiled grill over medium heat until done, flipping once. Serve on a toasted bun and top with sliced tomato and sirracha sauce for additional heat (optional). For authentic flavor, brush the bun with a little white wine vinegar.

The East Asian | Peanut Satay Burger

The World in 12 Burgers: Asian Edition (The East Asian/Peanut Satay Burger)

Our East Asian burger is inspired by our Indonesian Beef Satay recipe – I still dream about those flavors! While you can do loads to make the patty taste like Indonesian Satay (like adding a little grated onion, heaps of garlic, ginger, and seasonings like coriander, soy sauce, and peanut oil)… the key to a great Satay Burger is the peanut sauce.

In fact, you can make any burger a satay burger with nothing but a spoonful of delicious peanut satay sauce.  

I have a recipe for an authentic, homemade satay sauce, but there are many great brands readily available at the local supermarket.

Raja Ampat Islands. Photo by Jonathan Chase.

Raja Ampat Islands. Photo by Jonathan Chase.

How to make a Peanut Satay Burger:

Combine 1 lb ground beef with 1 small onion  (grated & excess liquid drained off), 3 cloves garlic (crushed), 2 teaspoons palm or brown sugar,  1 teaspoon grated ginger, 1 teaspoon peanut oil, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon soy sauce or kecap manis (a thick, sweet soy sauce popular in Indonesia), 3/4 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

If you can handle it, fold in some minced Thai Bird chili peppers for heat. One should be more than enough for most.

Cook on a well-oiled grill over medium heat until done, flipping once. Serve on a toasted bun and top with plenty of peanut sauce (here’s a recipe).

The Oceanic | Aussie Burger

The World in 12 Burgers: Asian Edition (The Oceanic/Aussie Burger)

I made an Aussie Burger waaaay back when we cooked our Australian Global Table… and man was it a hit!

With good reason. This burger is all about the toppings… and – unless you’ve been to Australia – you may think I’m pulling your leg about what they include.

There’s sweet pineapple rings, sliced beets (I like to use pickled ones for tang), and a fried egg (keep the yolk runny)! A fat slice of cheese is also standard fare.

The result is sweet, rich, and totally addictive.

The World in 12 Burgers: Asian Edition (The Oceanic/Aussie Burger)

 

How to make an Aussie Burger:

Top a beef hamburger patty with 1 pineapple ring, 1-2 beet slices, a fried egg, and a slice of cheddar. For more details, check out the original recipe (and behold how much my food photography has changed over the four years since I started this blog – eeeek!).

Underwater Earth / Catlin Seaview Survey. Photo by Heron Bommie SVII.

Underwater Earth / Catlin Seaview Survey. Photo by Heron Bommie SVII.

A note on this week’s favorites:

Keith would eat the Middle Eastern all day long. Me? Same. Next favorite? The Aussie Burger. Especially if the beets are pickled! What about you?

Psst…

What do you think? Did I get your part of the world right? What would you do differently?

In PART 1 we explored burgers inspired by the Americas and Europe

In PART 2 we explored burgers inspired by Africa

Happy Grilling!

xxoo Sasha

P.S. Share your pics on FB and Instagram with #GTAgrams!

gta.burgers.img_5700

If your part of the world was a burger, this would be it. (AFRICAN EDITION)

The World in 12 Burgers: African Edition!

Photos: Moroccan girls by M. Osmenda, Bhutanese girl by C. Michel, & children in Ghana by K. McCormick.

The heart of African cooking…

I’m so excited about today… because today  we’re diving into the heart of African cooking. I’ll be sharing four burger creations inspired by four distinct regions of Africa.

It’s not all the same…

Next time someone tells you all African food tastes the same (or that they know nothing about African cooking), send them here. I know firsthand how much they’re missing. You see, when I first began cooking the world, I could fill a thimble with what I knew about African cooking. But there is enormous flavor, history, and creativity in Africa.

Consider these four African-inspired burgers a teaser. Once your appetite is whetted, go on to the hundreds of recipes for each of the 54 countries in Africa that my family tried when we cooked our way around the world.

Let this celebration of Africa’s culinary diversity be a reminder: Africa is not a country.

The North African | Tagine Burger

The North African: Tagine Burger | The World in 12 Burgers

Inspired by the sweet and savory tagines of Morocco (specifically our Lamb Tagine with Honeyed Figs), I developed this recipe for a juicy lamb burger moistened with grated red onion and seasoned with garlic, ginger, and cinnamon.

Oh, but … the topping!

It’s simple but completely irresistible: fig jam simmered with orange blossom water (!!) and saffron. The flavor is altogether haunting.

We could not stop eating it. In-credible.

Orange Blossom Water

How to make the Tagine Burger:

Mix 1 lb ground lamb with:  1 small red onion (grated & excess liquid drained off), 1 large clove garlic (crushed), 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, 3/4 teaspoon salt. Shape into patties and cook on a well-oiled grill over medium heat until done (flipping once). Serve on a toasted bun with grilled red onions and fig topping.

For the fig topping: Warm 1/4 cup fig jam with a pinch of crushed saffron until simmering. Remove from heat and add 1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water. Cool to thicken and spread on toasted bun.

 

Moroccan Sand Dunes by Jamou.

Moroccan Sand Dunes by
Jamou.

The West African |  Spicy Chicken Burger

The West African: Spicy Chicken Burger | The World in 12 Burgers

The primary flavors of West Africa include red palm oil (a very bold oil found in just about everything! You can buy it at some health food stores and African markets), hot peppers, ginger and garlic. When combined with ground chicken and served on a bun with sliced, grilled peppers, the result is a West african-inspired delight. This particular recipe is inspired by our Togolese Global Table.

How to make the Spicy Chicken Burger:

Combine 1 lb ground chicken with 1 tsp ground ginger, 2 cloves garlic (crushed), 1 teaspoon red palm oil, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (for medium heat!), 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tbsp bread crumbs to bind. The mixture will be sticky. Shape with clean, wet hands to keep from sticking to skin. Cook on a well-oiled grill over medium heat until done, flipping once. Serve on a toasted bun with grilled peppers and green leaf lettuce.

Taberma House in Togo. Photo by Erik Kristensen.

Taberma House in Togo. Photo by Erik Kristensen.

The Southern African | The Bobotie Burger

The Southern African: "Bobotie Burger" | The World in 12 Burgers

Here’s a burger that packs a punch! The unusual Bobotie Burger, inspired by the South African casserole of the same name, smacks of curry with the fresh brightness of lemon zest, ginger, and garlic.

The topping? Another winner…

A generous spoonful of mango chutney and  a leaf or two of lettuce.

united.kingdom.food.recipe.img_1362

How to make the Bobotie Burger: 

Combine 1 lb ground beef with 2 teaspoons curry powder, the zest of a lemon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. If it sticks, use damp hands to shape. Cook on a well-oiled grill over medium heat until done. Serve on a toasted bun with mango chutney and green leaf lettuce.

South Africa. Photo by FreeStock.

South Africa. Photo by FreeStock.

South Africa. Photo by Lickr.

South Africa. Photo by Lickr.

The East African | The Berberé Burger

gta.burgers.img_5700

For my East African burger I took inspiration from Ethiopia… and used infused a lamb patty with homemade berberé. This is a lovely spice blend – warm with a dozen different spices (like cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, cumin, fenugreek and more), but easy enough to make on your own in  coffee grinder!

The finishing touch?

A handful of fresh spinach leaves for the topping.

How to make the Berberé Burger: 

Combine 1 lb ground lamb with a small red onion  (grated & excess liquid drained off), 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 2 cloves garlic (crushed), 1-2 teaspoons berberé, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. . Cook on a well-oiled grill over medium heat until done, flipping once.

Serve on a toasted bun with fresh spinach leaves.

 

Ethiopian Highlands by Andro96.

Ethiopian Highlands by Andro96.

Psst…

What do you think? Did I get your part of the world right? What would you do differently?

In PART 1 we explored burgers inspired by the Americas and Europe

In PART 3, when we dive into Asian burgers.

xxoo Sasha

.

Swedish girl wearing a Midsummer crown. Photo by Bengt Nyman.

22 Campfire & Scandinavian Recipes to celebrate Midsummer’s Night

Midsummer bonfire in Lappeenranta, Finland. Photo by Petritap.

Midsummer bonfire in Lappeenranta, Finland. Photo by Petritap.

Midsummer’s Eve – the longest day of the year – is celebrated in dozens of countries with huge bonfires, maypole dancing, and glorious food. In Scandinavia, the sun never fully sets. But even if night falls where you live, you can still celebrate.

Midsummer festival in Errenteria. Photo by Beñat Irasuegi.

Midsummer festival in Errenteria (Basque Country). Photo by Beñat Irasuegi.

To get into the spirit, simply drop out of big city chaos and into nature. This is a time to make flower crowns, swim in clear streams, sing hymns, and laugh more than is wise.

Swedish girl wearing a Midsummer crown. Photo by Bengt Nyman.

Swedish girl wearing a Midsummer crown. Photo by Bengt Nyman.

Some say Midsummer is also a time for love. After long, dark winter the cheerful sun naturally warms hearts. One famous Swedish proverb states: “Midsummer Night is not long but it sets many cradles rocking.” It is also said that, if a woman is to pick seven flowers in silence and places them under her pillow on Midsummer Night, she will dream about her one true love.

For me – already fully in love and married with a child – the main purpose of Midsummer is to enjoy the light with my family. Camping is a fantastic way to do this. After all, every time I camp, I stay up late and wake up with the birds.

As the Bare Naked Ladies sang 16 (!) years ago, “Who needs sleep?”

With this in mind, I’ve gathered some of my favorite campfire foods from around the world… though not exactly traditional, these foods would be perfect for any Midsummer’s campfire celebration.

1. Bacon on Stick | Hungary

Get ready to sit and chat the night away: this Hungarian favorite includes large cuts of bacon rendered slowly over a campfire. The drippings fall on slices of rye bread, which is then enjoyed with gusto. The crispy bits get added to salad. Try it and soon you’ll be seeing stars.

2. Flija | Kosovo

Nothing like making a cake on a campfire… especially if that cake looks like edible sunbeams. Flija is made layer by painstaking layer … by campers in Kosovo. Learn how (be sure to watch the video to discover exactly how folks in Kosovo make flija).

3. Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Arugula and Chevre | Argentina

Roasted Acorn Squash Salad from Argentina | 22 Campfire & Scandinavian Recipes to celebrate Midsummer’s Night

Take a hot, roasted squash and stuff it with arugula, aged goat cheese, and an oregano and mint dressing… mash it all together into a big, hot mess… and life is good. This recipe, inspired by the famous Argentinian chef Francis Mallman, uses a whole pumpkin that’s roasted in the embers. Yes.

4. Bobotie | South Africa

Bobotie from South Africa | 22 Campfire & Scandinavian Recipes to celebrate Midsummer’s Night Traditionally cooked over campfires in South Africa, Bobotie is an explosion of flavor. Today, Bobotie is often cooked on an outdoor grill or in the oven… but don’t be afraid to whip out the cast iron skillet and make it campfire-style! Get ready for curry goodness with sweet chutney love!

5. And… last but not least… 18 traditional Scandinavian Recipes

If you’re not going camping, but you still want to celebrate Midsummer, consider making some of these traditional Scandinavian recipes – where Midsummer has the deepest roots. (Or go super simple and serve a basket of berries – perfect Midsummer fare!)

Sweden

No Midsummer would be complete without a little bit of Sweden. Perhaps a a bowl of Swedish Meatballs followed by a slice of Swedish Princess Cake (Prinsesstårta)? Yes, please.

Norway

Forget everything you know … and go for some truly magical food. There’s nothing quite like a Scandinavian Ring Cake (Kransekake) , this lovely Norwegian Summer Shrimp Party, or a batch of homemade Dill & Lemon Pepper Gravlax. Okie Dokie!

22 Campfire & Scandinavian Recipes to celebrate Midsummer’s Night

Finland

Enjoy some hearty Finnish fare this Midsummer’s Eve – like this Maple-Glazed Rutabaga, or a side of salmon topped with homemade Scandanavian Mustard & Dill Sauce. Wash it down with Finnish Blueberry Milk. Or just go for broke and live off a loaf of Cardamom Sweet Bread (Pulla). I could. Yes-sir-ee. 

Maple-Glazed Rutabaga | 22 Campfire & Scandinavian Recipes to celebrate Midsummer’s Night Mustard & Dill Sauce | 22 Campfire & Scandinavian Recipes to celebrate Midsummer’s Night

Finnish Blueberry Milk | 22 Campfire & Scandinavian Recipes to celebrate Midsummer’s Night Pulla Loaf | 22 Campfire & Scandinavian Recipes to celebrate Midsummer’s Night

Denmark

We made some wintery treats back when we cooked Denmark, like this Mulled Wine (Gløgg)… but there’s also a nice, summery Smoked Salmon Smørrebrød, hearty Danish Meatballs (Frikadeller), and a simple Danish Apple Cake (Æblekage).

Mulled Wine (Glogg) | 22 Campfire & Scandinavian Recipes to celebrate Midsummer’s Night Smoked Salmon Smorrebrod | 22 Campfire & Scandinavian Recipes to celebrate Midsummer’s Night Danish Meatballs (Frikadeller) | 22 Campfire & Scandinavian Recipes to celebrate Midsummer’s Night Danish Apple Cake | 22 Campfire & Scandinavian Recipes to celebrate Midsummer’s Night

Iceland

Everything’s cold in Iceland – even these soups! Try Sweet Rye Bread Soup or this Tart Rhubarb Soup. Not in the mood? No problem – eat Rhubarb Raisins, or spoon a purple bowl of Blueberry Cardamom Ice Cream. Ahhh. Now that’s good!

Sweet Rye Bread Soup | 22 Campfire & Scandinavian Recipes to celebrate Midsummer’s Night Chilled Rhubarb Soup from Iceland | 22 Campfire & Scandinavian Recipes to celebrate Midsummer’s Night Rhubarb Raisins | 22 Campfire & Scandinavian Recipes to celebrate Midsummer’s Night Blueberry Cardamom Ice cream | 22 Campfire & Scandinavian Recipes to celebrate Midsummer’s Night

The world in 12 burgers.

If your part of the world was a burger, this would be it. (AMERICAS EDITION)

The world in 12 burgers.Photos of children by Tabea HuthRod Waddington , Christopher Michel.

 

In honor of father’s day, and in consideration of the fact that I hardly ever make burgers despite my husband’s passion for them… I give you the world in a dozen burgers – a three part series to be presented throughout the month of June.

First up? Europe and the Americas.  

Next week stay tuned for PART 2 several African burgers (I’m SO excited about these ones).

Finally, we’ll complete our world tour with PART 3… burgers inspired by parts of Asia and Oceania… yum and yum.

 

1. The Caribbean | Jerk Chicken Burger

Caribbean Jerk Burger | The World in 12 Burgers

Good Caribbean cooking goes hand in hand with scotch bonnet peppers (a.k.a. Habeneros… a.k.a. a little heat mon). For this burger I took inspiration from the Jerk Seasoning we enjoyed when we cooked Jamaica. This muddy green blend contains enough habenero to make a firefighter sweat, tempered with mild bell pepper, green onion, garlic, ginger, a garden of herbs  (think thyme, basil, and parsley), plus a host of spices (say ‘yow‘ to allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper). There’s even a splash of soy sauce and OJ. Thanks to this fierce blend, our Jerk Chicken Burger POPS with flavor. 

Intimidated?

Don’t be. Jerk seasoning makes an epic chicken burger. Plus, once you’ve mixed up a blender of the Jerk Seasoning, you can use any leftovers for a week or two afterwards as a marinade (it’s particularly great on chicken, fish, and pork).

Jerk Chicken Burger | The World in 12 Burgers

How to make the Jerk Burger:

For mild/medium heat, add 2 tablespoons Jerk Seasoning to 1 pound ground chicken along with 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs to help bind the mix. For a spicier burger, add more habeneros to your jerk seasoning. Shape into patties with moist hands (this will prevent sticking) and grill over medium heat until done. Top with grilled orange peppers (because they look like habeneros!) and sliced green onion.
Makes 3-4.

Sunset on the sea at Seven Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica. Photo by Chaoleonard.

Sunset on the sea at Seven Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica. Photo by Chaoleonard.

 

2. The South American | Carne Asada Burger

Carne Asada Burger | The World in 12 Burgers

In South America you’ll find three things just about everywhere you go: tomato, avocado, and Carne Asada – that spiced, grilled steak served in strips with tortilla and a host of summer-fresh toppings.

Just look at this beautiful selection!!

Any of these would be great on your Carne Asada Burger – even the extra squeeze of lime!

To recreate classic Carne Asada flavor, I mixed ground beef with a tangy blend of lime juice, garlic, oregano, and ground black pepper. For our toppings, I chose fresh sliced tomato and avocado – a nod to the incredibly beautiful Bolivian salad we once made on our around the world cooking adventure.

How to make the Carne Asada Burger:

Start with 1 pound ground beef. Add 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon oregano, the juice of a lime, 1 teaspoon salt, and a half teaspoon pepper. Shape into patties. If the mixture is too wet, add a tablespoon of breadcrumbs to bind it together. Grill over medium heat until done. Top with tomato and buttery avocado slices. Makes 3-4.

The mountainous scenery of Chile’s Chajnantor Plateau, with snow and ice scattered over the barren terrain. Photo by the ALMA.

The mountainous scenery of Chile’s Chajnantor Plateau, with snow and ice scattered over the barren terrain. Photo by the ALMA.

 

3. The European | Swedish Meatball Burger

Swedish Meatball Burger | The World in 12 Burgers

While it’s nearly impossible to narrow down all of Europe to one burger, I let intuition – and my heart – be my guide. You see,  I adore Swedish Meatballs the way Doctor Who loves fish fingers and vanilla custard. There’s just no explaining it.

But unlike the Doctor’s favorite dish, there’s actually an entire country that agrees with me about Swedish Meatballs.

Why?

They’re tender from a good dose of cream, bursting with flavor thanks to two cuts of meat – beef and pork. Then there’s the moist grating of onion and a requisite hint of nutmeg.  The kicker is a tart spoonful (or three!) of lingonberry jam. The jam cuts the meat’s richness with sparkle – just like cranberry sauce helps roast turkey.

With  a few precautions, Swedish Meatballs are easy enough to turn into burgers – read on for our tips.

How to make a Swedish Meatball Burger: 

Simply mix together our Swedish Meatball Recipe. Take care to squeeze the grated onion dry before adding it so the burgers aren’t too moist. Shape into patties and grill over medium until done (at least 7 minutes on the first side if thick). Trust me – they won’t dry out (the cream gives them a tendency to fall apart if turned too soon). The impossibly tender burger makes a delectable showstopper, especially when topped with lingonberry jam. Done and done! Makes 6-8.

Sånfjällets National park in Härjedalen, Sweden. Photo by  "CC-BY-SA-3.0" Jonny Hansson.

Sånfjällets National park in Härjedalen, Sweden. Photo by “CC-BY-SA-3.0″ Jonny Hansson.

 

4. The Central American |  Jicama Slaw Burger

The flavors of Central America are fresh and bright. For an easy global fix: top a standard burger with a Jicama and Chayote Slaw like the kind we enjoyed for Honduras (pictured above). Your mouth will be bursting with fresh lime juice and orange segments. Ah-mazing. Want an even simpler idea from Central America? Think Mexican: try several spoonfuls of homemade guacamole on the bun. Delicioso.

 

The North American  | Bison Bacon Burger

There’s nothing more American than the great Bison. Why not combine the health benefits of this lean ground meat with one of America’s favorite unhealthy courses (that’s right, courses) – bacon!? It might seem like an oxymoron, but the flavors complement each other and… hello… they’re easy, peasy.

P.S. If you like bacon, you need to check out Hungary’s ingenious bacon on a stick campfire treat.

 

Eastern Europe | The Balkan Burger

Yum and yum! Balkan burgers are made with beef, pork, lamb, paprika, and more. Delish! Arguably, however, the best part about the Balkan Burger is the avjar seasoning that goes on top – a lovely roasted red pepper spread that I could eat by the spoonful!

What do you think? Did I get your part of the world right? What would you do differently? Stay tuned for the next installment of the series: African burgers, and then Asian Burgers!

xxoo Sasha

 

recipe.spicy.vietnamese.slaw.img_5468

Spicy Vietnamese Slaw + Extreme Compassion

Spicy Vietnamese Slaw (with a lesson in Extreme Compassion)

Extreme Compassion

Stopping to move a wandering worm off the sidewalk. Helping a baby bird that fell out of it’s nest. Not walking by with indifference. This sort of extreme compassion is a thing that some of us – with our busy, distracted lives – strive for imperfectly. But there are others – startlingly kind souls – who live and breathe extreme compassion.

Last week I went to the tailor – a big deal for me since I know how to sew. But I have a dress – a dress with lace, three layers, and a hidden zipper. I love this dress but it needs to be 2 sizes smaller. This project is totally out of my league.

Downtown Tulsa, Photo by jordanmac101.

Downtown Tulsa, Photo by jordanmac101.

Wendy’s tiny, crowded shop is located in a remote basement shop of an art deco building in downtown Tulsa. Little Ava and I circled the whole property 5 times before we phoned Wendy, defeated. Two minutes later she appeared: a bespectacled Vietnamese woman in cherry lipstick. As she led us down to the basement she crooned “So pretty” in a thick accent every time she looked at my daughter.

Wendy’s shop was more closet than office. Clothes hung around us thickly, torn slips of paper pinned to each shoulder, indicating the owner’s name and number. She was efficient, though, clucking as she  tucked my dress in a few spots and pinned it. It’d be ready in a week, she asserted.

Hope in all creatures

That’s when I heard the cheeping. I looked through a doorway, towards the back of her shop. A robin was perched on the back of a sewing chair. Ava grinned and I chuckled.

“You want to see another?” Wendy asked.

Ava and I nodded hastily in agreement.

As she shuffled to the back of her shop she continued: “I see them. I stop, sew them when I can.”

She reappeared with a basket covered with another, smaller basket. She lifted this last to reveal a raggety white bird – perhaps a dove – with dozens of red threads sticking up from the top of its head. It let out several frail, excitable chirps.

Woman stitches dying bird's head shut in an act of extreme compassion.

“This bird – I find on road. A car hit – was bleeding, everywhere blood. The head was open. I could see the brains. Both wings broken. I take it, I see it still move. I sew it. Sew the brains in. Sew the wings, then bind so they can heal.”

“How long has it been since you found him?” I asked, wondering if it could possibly survive.

She picked the bird up tenderly. It flapped its wings perfectly, revealing the red stitches that had made such movement possible. “Three weeks. Doing much better now. Will be okay.”

I ask her how she knows how to do this (and by “this” I mean bird brain surgery). She tells me she learned in her village back in Vietnam, at her father’s side. She’s stitched up many birds like this. She always stops – she sees hope in all creatures.

Ooof. Talk about extreme compassion!

I took a couple of pictures because I thought – surely – no one would believe me if I didn’t have photographic evidence of Wendy’s handiwork (a closeup of the bird can be found on my Instagram @GlobalTable). Long after I left the shop I thought about her gracious good deeds. I found them at once tender and almost reckless. She had no fear of disease, of getting her hands dirty, of making the situation worse than better. She only cared about helping those birds get better.

Simply amazing.

A Spicy Vietnamese Slaw

Today, in honor of Wendy’s extreme compassion, I offer up this Spicy Vietnamese slaw – but without the sliced chicken that is so commonly served on top. Little Ava will also be pleased because – some time ago – she asked me “Mama, is chicken chicken?” and when the answer came back yes, she put down her fork and hasn’t touched it since. Who knows what she’ll chose in the future, but right now we’re mostly a chicken-free household.

Spicy Vietnamese Slaw (with a lesson in Extreme Compassion)

The salad is a simple affair, really – commonly served on the side of many Vietnamese meals: cabbage and carrots tossed with fresh herbs, crushed peanuts, and a Nước mắm pha-style dressing. It’s at once spicy and fresh. Bold, yet healthy.

Don’t be shy with the herbs – the more the better. They’ll carry you through summer with a smile.

The lesson in all this? Next time you think about passing through life indifferent, reconsider.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

For the dressing:

1-5 Thai bird chilies (5 is super hot!)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
6 tablespoons rice vinegar, or lime juice, or half of each

For the salad:

1 small green cabbage, quartered, cored, and shredded
1/2 pound of shredded carrots
1 bunch mint leaves, chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro or rau răm, chopped
1/2 bunch basil or Thai basil, chopped
salt – up to 2 teaspoons to make the flavors pop

Garnish:

6 ounces peanuts, lightly cracked

Method:

Spicy Vietnamese Slaw (with a lesson in Extreme Compassion)

First, prepare the dressing. I like to use a mortar and pestle to grind the peppers and garlic with the sugar. Then I add the remaining ingredients and adjust the flavors to taste. Alternatively, you could just slice the peppers in tiny rings and crush the garlic.

TIP: Five chili peppers makes a really spicy salad even though it mellows a touch after an hour or so. For mild, use just one.

Spicy Vietnamese Slaw (with a lesson in Extreme Compassion)

Next, slice up the cabbage and carrots and toss in the largest bowl you have, along with all the herbs you can manage. I used a full bunch of mint and bit less of the rest… and still think it could have taken more. Add as much dressing as you’d like along with 1-2 teaspoons of salt.

TIP: Instead of slicing the herbs, tear them. This bruises the leaves, giving more flavor to the salad. It also makes for larger pieces which gives a nice, salady mouthfeel. The salad will keep in good shape for about an hour (The next day leftovers will be soft, but fine enough for a quick, easy lunch. The heat will have mellowed somewhat, too).

Toss with lightly crushed peanuts right before serving. Aside from lovely crunch, they also give the salad a bit of much needed richness (since the dressing has no fat).

Spicy Vietnamese Slaw (with a lesson in Extreme Compassion)

Enjoy with chopsticks, a tall glass of water, and extreme compassion in your heart…

Spicy Vietnamese Slaw (with a lesson in Extreme Compassion)

…perhaps with a portrait of beautiful Vietnam in your mind’s eye…

Ha Long Bay on a sunny day. Photo by Disdero.

Ha Long Bay on a sunny day. Photo by Disdero.

What examples of extreme compassion have you experienced or witnessed in your life?  I’d love to hear your stories… after all, compassion is contagious!

 

xxoo
Sasha

 

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The salad is a simple affair, really – commonly served on the side of many Vietnamese meals: cabbage and carrots tossed with fresh herbs, crushed peanuts, and a Nước mắm pha-style dressing. It’s at once spicy and fresh. Bold, yet healthy. Don’t be shy with the herbs – the more the better. They’ll carry you through summer with a smile. The lesson in all this? Next time you think about passing through life indifferent, reconsider.Spicy Vietnamese Slaw + Extreme Compassion
Servings
6-8people
Servings
6-8people
Ingredients
For the dressing
For the salad
Garnish
Instructions
  1. First, prepare the dressing. I like to use a mortar and pestle to grind the peppers and garlic with the sugar. Then I add the remaining ingredients and adjust the flavors to taste. Alternatively, you could just slice the peppers in tiny rings and crush the garlic. TIP: Five chili peppers makes a really spicy salad even though it mellows a touch after an hour or so. For mild, use just one.
  2. Next, slice up the cabbage and carrots and toss in the largest bowl you have, along with all the herbs you can manage. I used a full bunch of mint and bit less of the rest… and still think it could have taken more. Add as much dressing as you’d like along with 1-2 teaspoons of salt.
  3. TIP: Instead of slicing the herbs, tear them. This bruises the leaves, giving more flavor to the salad. It also makes for larger pieces which gives a nice, salady mouthfeel. The salad will keep in good shape for about an hour (The next day leftovers will be soft, but fine enough for a quick, easy lunch. The heat will have mellowed somewhat, too).
  4. Toss with lightly crushed peanuts right before serving. Aside from lovely crunch, they also give the salad a bit of much needed richness (since the dressing has no fat).
  5. Enjoy with chopsticks, a tall glass of water, and extreme compassion in your heart…
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.

The-world's-best-grilled-recipes

21 of the World’s Best Grilled Eats

The-world's-best-grilled-recipes

Have you fired up the grill yet? In honor of Memorial Day and the start of this year’s heat wave, here are some of the best grilled foods from our family’s around the world cooking adventure, including several vegan and vegetarian dishes. For more than 600 other recipes from every country in the world, check out my Countries I’ve cooked page

P.S. The recipes below may be enjoyed in multiple countries, but the countries identified below indicate at what point in our adventure we sampled the dishes. 

1. Carne Asada | PARAGUAY (Recipe)

Oh man. Steak marinated in garlic, oregano, fresh lime juice, and black pepper? Then sliced and served in a tortilla with avocado, tomato, cheese, and more? Yes, and yes!

Carne Asada | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

2.  Barbecue Ribs | USA (Recipe)

These ribs are fall-off-the-bone good and blasted with paprika, brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic, cayenne pepper, and cracked peppercorns. After a low, slow grillin’, they’re brushed with a lick of sweet barbecue sauce at the end. Need I say more?

 Barbecued Ribs | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

3. Beef Suya | NIGERIA (Recipe)

If ever there was a recipe that surprised me with it’s utter deliciousness, it was these kabobs. They’re loaded with fresh ginger, garlic, peanuts, and bouillon cubes (yes, you heard me right – maggi cubes are a very typical sub-Saharan seasoning). Anyone who has tried them has fallen in love.

Beef Suya | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

4. Grilled Sweet Potato & Bacon Salad | Kumara |  NEW ZEALAND (Recipe)

Need an easy, but impressive side dish? Try grilling fat slices of white and orange sweet potatoes (called Kumara in New Zealand), then tossing the lot with bacon and green onion. Happy, happy.

Grilled Sweet Potato and Bacon Salad | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

5. Grilled Island Fries | NAURU (Recipe)

Nauru is teeny tiny – the road around the island nation is only about 11 miles long. Which is just right to walk off this incredible vegan side dish inspired by their love of fries and grilling. Grilled fries. I mean, come on!

Grilled Island Fries | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

6. Bushmeat Skewers (a.k.a. Alligator) | NAMIBIA (Recipe)

Alligator becomes tender and zesty with homemade piri piri marinade (piri piri is a lemon and hot pepper sauce that can be used on any grilled meats, but is particularly good with chicken)

Bushmeat Skewers | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

7.  Coupe Coupe (Hickory Smoked Flank Steak) |  GABON (Recipe)

Head to Gabon and you’ll surely bite into some smoked meats on the street served in a toasted baguette. This recipe (which my husband still asks for on a regular basis) includes the requisite bouillon cube of sub-Saharan cooking as well as a nice pop of cayenne and other seasonings. Great with some grilled poblanos as seen here.

Hickory Smoked Flank Steak | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

8. Balkan Burger | MONTENEGRO | (Recipe)

These burgers are extra juicy thanks to grated onion and garlic. A kick of paprika rounds out the tantalizing mixture of ground beef, sausage, and lamb. Served with pepper sauce, ajvar, there’s no need for ketchup.

Balkan Burger | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

9. Muhammara (Char-grilled Red Pepper Dip) | IRAQ (Recipe)

This vegan dish will go into regular rotation once you try it. The grilled peppers are blended with pomegranate syrup, cumin, olive oil, garlic,  and walnuts. This recipe makes me incredibly happy, especially on a warm summer day with bits of pita bread.

Muhammara | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

10. Grilled Whole Wheat Pita Bread | IRAQ (Recipe)

Speaking of pita bread… you can grill it, too. Making the pockets puff is a great challenge (and vegan, too).

Grilled Pita Bread | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

11. Kabab Koobideh IRAN | (Recipe)

Ground beef or lamb on a sword, served with pomegranate syrup. The seasonings? Turmeric and the lemony kick of sumac. Seriously.

Kabob Koobideh | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

12. Beef Sate | INDONESIA (Recipe)

The longer this beef marinates, the happier you will be. SO incredible. Think garlic, ginger, kecap manis, peanut oil, coriander, and red chili peppers (the food, not the band). Yum.

Beef Sate | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

13. Grilled Rosemary Lemon Lamb | GREECE (Recipe)

What’s not to love about rosemary, lemon, oregano, and tender morsels of grilled lamb? Greece is so smart!

Grilled Rosemary Lamb from Greece | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

14. Whole Stuffed Trout | ANDORRA (Recipe)

This was the first time I grilled a whole trout. The fish comes out much more tender and flavorful this way – a fun method to try!

Whole Stuffed Trout from Andorra | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

15. Garlic Butter Tuna Steaks | EAST TIMOR (Recipe)

The most lovely tuna steaks I’ve ever had the privilege of tasting… and there’s almost nothing to the recipe. It was inspired by fishermen in East Timor who grill whole Tuna this way (as retold to me by Karen Coates of Rambling Spoon).

 Garlic Butter Tuna Steaks from East Timor | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

16. Jerk Chicken | JAMAICA (Recipe)

Spicy, spicy, spicy. There’s heat thanks to habenero peppers, yes, but also complexity to this grilled chicken thanks to allspice, orange juice, soy sauce, bell peppers, garlic, ginger, thyme, basil, and more. Sound like a lot of ingredients? Trust me, it’s worth it.

Jerk Chicken from Jamaica | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

17. Butter-Grilled Poblanos | BHUTAN (Recipe)

Just exactly what it sounds like. And, yes. I’ll have two, please.

Butter Grilled Poblano Peppers from Bhutan | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

18. Coconut Grilled Corn | CAMBODIA (Recipe)

Oh man, oh man, oh man. This vegan side dish is simple, but it’s also my favorite way to finish off that can of coconut milk lurking in the refrigerator. Try adding some palm sugar (or brown sugar) to the mix for a sweet variation.

Coconut Grilled Corn from Cambodia | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

Coconut Grilled Corn from Cambodia | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

19. Lyulya Kabob | AZERBAIJAN (Recipe)

Ground lamb with cumin, grated onion and garlic, mint, parsley, and hot pepper. Ah-mazing.

Lyulya Kabob from Azerbaijan | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

20. Grilled Mexican “Pizza” | Tlayuda | MEXICO (Recipe)

Nothing like this enormous corn tortilla topped with seasoned black beans, browned chorizo sausage, and a whole garden of tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, and jalepenos. Oh, but don’t forget the queso fresco. I would eat an entire one of these if left to my own devices.

Grilled Mexican Pizza (Tlayuda) | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

 

21. Syrian Lamb kebabs with Sour Cherries | SYRIA (Recipe)

Try sour bursts of cherries with ground lamb balls (think homemade baharat, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon). Delish, especially with a spoonful of yogurt and a few bits of that homemade pita bread. Smiles all around!

Syrian Lamb Kebabs with sour cherries | 21 of the World's best grilled eats.

I want to personally thank each of these countries for their delicious food. Because of their recipe ideas my grill has become a very real way to stovetop travel and to share a love of the world with my family.

What in the world is on your grill?

xxoo Sasha

DIY Teacher's Gifts for under $3

18 Meaningful DIY Gifts for as little as $1.22 each for teachers, friends, & more!

18 DIY "You mean the World to me" Gifts for as little as $1.22 each for teachers, friends, and more! What do you see when you look at several boxes of tea? I see opportuni-tea.  I’m so, so sorry! But it’s true: with just six boxes of tea, I can create a world of flavor for up to 18 people (some boxes only hold 16 bags) for hardly any money.  It’s so easy I almost feel guilty for making a step-by-step post about it.

A little background first.

There’s no end to the occasions that require thoughtful gifts. But it’s hard to find thoughtful gifts that are affordable. While these gifts would be great for Valentine’s Day, Office Christmas gifts, or party favors… School is almost over so we’re doing them as a teacher’s thank you. Ava will give one to each of her four teachers, as well as the preschool director. She’s had an amazing time these last few years, and we wanted to put care into thanking them. We accompanied the gifts with a little Q&A about Ava’s favorite memories and messages she wanted to pass on to make it even more personal. 18 DIY "You mean the World to me" Gifts for as little as $1.22 each for teachers, friends, and more!I chose boxes of individually wrapped tea bags – this is very important.  No one wants a random floating bag of tea.  Who knows where that thing has been. Packaging is everything! Numi Organic Tea has a fantastic assortment for whatever theme you want to go with. Here are the flavors I chose to go with my “You mean the world to me” theme:

Chocolate Pu-erh, from China
Dry Desert Lime, from the Middle East
Aged Earl Grey with Bergamont, from India, but inspired by European tea parties
White Rose, from Southeast Asia
Mate Lemon, from South America
Rooibos, from South Africa

Look how pretty! 18 DIY "You mean the World to me" Gifts for as little as $1.22 each for teachers, friends, and more!   I put them in a petal card, affixed with a tiny glue dot so they wouldn’t wiggle around. 18 DIY "You mean the World to me" Gifts for as little as $1.22 each for teachers, friends, and more! Then I shut the card and used hot glue to affix one of my “You mean the World to me” labels to hold it shut (I was out of card stock, so I simply printed it on regular computer paper and glued it to a sheet of yellow construction paper to reinforce the label and add a pop of color. 18 DIY "You mean the World to me" Gifts for as little as $1.22 each for teachers, friends, and more!   The end result is as cute as cute can be… and will surely warm your loved ones hearts. 18 DIY "You mean the World to me" Gifts for as little as $1.22 each for teachers, friends, and more!

You can do this one of two ways:

a) Make 18 meaningful gifts that cost $2.44-$3.19 each

SUPPLIES:

  • 18 6.25″ x 6.25″ Petal Cards (You can make these yourself with card stock for pennies, or pick them up at an office supply store on online, where you can get 25 for $18 – which works out to $0.75 each) 
  • 1 printable “You mean the world to me” PDF Instant Download ($0.99)
  • Glue dots (on hand)
  • Hot glue (on hand)
  • 6 boxes of tea from different parts of the world ($6.99/box)

b) Make 18 meaningful gifts that cost $1.22- $1.97 each

(For this one, simply use three tea bags per gift and use the “empty space” in the card to write a loving message… or use a smaller petal card and save even more money.)

SUPPLIES:

  • 18 6.25″ x 6.25″ Petal Cards (You can make these yourself with card stock for pennies, or pick them up at an office supply store on online, where you can get 25 for $18 – which works out to $0.75 each) 
  • 1 printable “You mean the world to me” PDF Instant Download ($0.99)
  • Glue dots (on hand)
  • Hot glue (on hand)
  • 3 boxes of tea from different parts of the world ($6.99/box)

18 DIY "You mean the World to me" Gifts for as little as $1.22 each for teachers, friends, and more! That’s it!

How do you show appreciation to the teachers and special people in your lives?

A thoughtful token like this can be just the thing!

18 DIY "You mean the World to me" Gifts for as little as $1.22 each for teachers, friends, and more!

Filipino Garlic Rice

Filipino Garlic-Fried Rice | Panlasang Pinoy

Filipino Garlic-Fried Rice | Panlasang Pinoy

 

A Labor of Love

I have a garden. It’s small – an L-shaped  raised bed built with heavy stones. In it I have a few tomato plants, basil, thyme, parsley, chives, and lemongrass. There’s also an abundance of mums; they come back every year and explode with burgundy, gold, and white in the autumn. Just next to the wall is my terracotta strawberry planter, perched atop a pedestal of chubby cherubs.

It’s about as idyllic as my corner of the world gets.

From my Instagram account, GlobalTable

From my Instagram account, GlobalTable

This is the first year I’ve really been able to dote over my plants. I recently handed in the last edits of my memoir, so time – for a little while, at least – is mine again (I even used old drafts of my memoir as weed guard). But paying attention comes with a certain degree of… noticing.

How ants cluster and teem along the stone wall whenever I water the plants.

How on hot days, even before a leaf begins to wilt, it’s shiny luster goes dull.

How my cat likes to sleep in the cool dirt next to the tomatoes. And how the plant eventually grows bushy enough that he must retreat to the cement slab under my car, instead.

From my instagram

From my Instagram account, GlobalTable

With noticing comes awareness, and with awareness comes concern; inevitably, tending over my garden during this growing season has become an exercise in fretting.

I fret about odd fruit shapes, like the pinched one above (will it be delicious?). Or about soil acidity (does it matter?).

Most recently, we had to cover the strawberry planter with netting to keep squirrels away from the blushing fruit. Keith actually caught  squirrel on its hind legs tearing a three-inch opening into our netting so it could eat the ripe berries.

Though he should be commended for his industrious, dedicated spirit, the squirrel did not get his strawberry.

But tomorrow is a new opportunity to enjoy the fruits of our labor.  The questions remains: will it be us, or the squirrel who takes the first bite?

 

Meanwhile, in the Philippines…

The good people of the Philippines understand the importance of the harvest – this precarious labor of love that ultimately flourishes and nourishes or succumbs to the weather and peckish animals alike. There are multiple harvest festivals throughout the growing season. This week is one the biggest festivals: Pahiyas.

Photo by Andy Nelson.

Photo by Andy Nelson.

Pahiyas Festival (May 15)

As far back as the 1500’s, Filipino farmers have been celebrating Pahiyas by setting out the season’s bounty to be blessed during a festive procession that honored San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers. Over time, homeowners’ decorations became increasingly elaborate. Today, houses bedazzled with fruits, vegetables, and petal-shaped rice wafers called “kiping” are just a few of the sights you’ll see in Lucban, Philippines in May.  

Photo by Bibliosensei. Photo by Andy Nelson.

Decorated house photo by Bibliosensei. Kiping photo by Andy Nelson.

What’s the story with Kiping?

A couple of men from Lucban, Philippines went to Mexico for a trip in 1734 and discovered tacos. I can only assume it was love at first bite because when they got home one of the men, Juan Suarez, tried to make tacos from locally available ingredients. What he ultimately came up with was kiping.

Photo by

Photo by Andy Nelson.

The flat petals are made from a fairly liquid rice paste which is dyed vivid pinks, yellows, and greens, then poured over banana leaves and steamed. They are then pressed, dried, and strung together in flowers or, more commonly, a large chandelier of sorts that looks to me like an enormous cluster of bananas. These decorations line the streets during Pahiyas.

Here’s much more detail on how to make Pahiyas.

Photo by

Photo by Andy Nelson.

What to eat

Harvest festivals typically celebrate the foods most important to the culture. So rice (and rice paste decorations) make total sense for a Filipino harvest festival, as do the piles of fresh produce, including eggplant, cucumbers, chayote, and other gourds that grow abundantly.

If you’ve ever cooked Filipino food, you’ll also know this: yet another beloved crop of the Philippines is garlic, with a side of garlic, topped off with more garlic.

Filipino Garlic-Fried Rice | Panlasang Pinoy

We saw this when we made Pork Adobo for our Filipino Global Table. Just look at those soft, glistening morsels of mellow garlic goodness…

Pork Adobo from the Philippines

Yum.

In light of the popularity of both rice and garlic in the Philippines, it seemed logical to me to do a quick garlic rice. Best of all, it’s a quick stir-fry and great way to use up leftovers.

Filipino Garlic-Fried Rice | Panlasang Pinoy

After you eat your bowl? Don’t even bother with a mint; it won’t help. Instead, pile on grilled, stewed, and braised veggies or meats. The heartier the better. If you’re wondering if Pork Adobo would be too much garlic, you’re asking the wrong question.

There’s never too much garlic. Not in my bowl.

TIP: 3/4 cup uncooked rice will make about 3 cups cooked rice

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil
8 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups cooked rice, refrigerated until cold
1 green onion, sliced thinly
salt, as desired

Method:

Chop, chop, chop your way through a mountain of garlic.

Filipino Garlic-Fried Rice | Panlasang Pinoy

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Toast the garlic until light golden brown. The key is to get it crispy, but not too dark or it will taste burnt.

Filipino Garlic-Fried Rice | Panlasang Pinoy

Reserve about a tablespoon for garnish.

Add the cooked rice and increase heat to high and cook until hot.

Garnish with green onion and enjoy…

Filipino Garlic-Fried Rice | Panlasang Pinoy

… perhaps while wandering the lovely Pahiyas Festival and admiring the rice decorations…

Photo by Andy Nelson.

Peacock. Photo by Andy Nelson.

What’s growing in your garden?
Any harvest you’re particularly looking forward to?

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In light of the popularity of both rice and garlic in the Philippines, it seemed logical to me to do a quick garlic rice. Best of all, it's a quick stir-fry and great way to use up leftovers.Filipino Garlic-Fried Rice | Panlasang Pinoy
Servings
2
Servings
2
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Toast the garlic until light golden brown. The key is to get it crispy, but not too dark or it will taste burnt.
  2. Reserve about a tablespoon for garnish.
  3. Add the cooked rice and increase heat to high and cook until hot.
  4. Garnish with green onion 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.

funny-kids

13 funny kids from all over the world, plus the food they eat.

funny-kids

In honor of Mother’s Day here are 13 children from all over the world with some of the cutest (and straight up giggle-worthy) expressions I’ve seen around. Along with each child’s photo you will discover a few of their country’s favorite recipes. If these munchkins inspire you to take a taste of something new, excellent! Simply follow the recipe links below to get cookin’!

 

1. INDIA

Baby in India. Photo by Michael Gäbler.

Baby in India. Photo by Michael Gäbler.

 

“And then he said… What!?”

 

Children in India love an ice cold kulfi pop on a hot summer’s day. And spinach with homemade cheese (saag panir) is a fun and healthy meal for lunch or dinner! Celebrate Mother’s Day with a recipe from India.

food-from-India

 

 

2. IRAN

Kurdish Mother and child. Photo by Adam Jones.

Kurdish Mother and child. Photo by Adam Jones.

 

No, you can’t have my ice cream.”

 

Children in Iran love kebabs (on ‘swords’!), Persian sour cherry rice, and cucumber salad topped with sumac – the bold spices will surprise (and delight!) you. Celebrate Mother’s Day with a recipe from Iran.

food-from-Iran

 

 

3. PAKISTAN

Photo by Vicki Francis/Department for International Development.

Photo by Vicki Francis/Department for International Development.

 

“But mom… who’s that photobombing behind us?”

 

Kids in Pakistan clamor for their version of the ubiquitous three bean salad (chickpeas, anyone?), and crazy-good garlicky rice (with pine nuts and cilantro). Their parents enjoy sips of cardamom coffee. Yum. Celebrate Mother’s Day with a recipe from Pakistan.

food-from-Pakistan

 

4. MEXICO

Photo by Eneas De Troya.

Photo by Eneas De Troya.

 

“They see me rollin’… oh wait. I seem to have run out of gas.

 

There’s no shortage of yummy food in Mexico. Kids love a strawberry horchata (think strawberry milk, but better!), cheesy popblano dips, and grilled “pizza” that tastes like a giant taco! On a very special day, they might even enjoy a 5-step mole poblano. Celebrate Mother’s Day with a recipe from Mexico.

 

food-from-Mexico

 

5. SLOVENIA

Slovenian baby (1959)

Slovenian baby (1959)

 

Hand. Glass. Hand. Glass.

“Fascinating.”

 

Kids in Slovenia celebrate special occasions with braided heart bread (you’ll find these a lot at Slovenian weddings). And they know a good soup when they see it: bean and barley is the way to go! Celebrate Mother’s Day with a recipe from Slovenia.

food-from-Slovenia

 

 

6. ISRAEL

Israel (1940s)

Israel (1940s)

 

“Ready, set, go!”

 

Children in Israel love a good minty lemonade (it’s so popular they call it “Israeli lemonade”). Speaking of lemon – their lemony and garlicky hummus is first rate! Fruit salad has mint in it, just like the lemonade – so refreshing – with all manner of yummy citrus. Celebrate Mother’s Day with a recipe from Israel.

food-from-Israel

 

 

7. TAJIKISTAN

A young boy from Tajikistan holding a goat in 2006. Photo by Steve Evans.

A young boy from Tajikistan holding a goat in 2006. Photo by Steve Evans.

 

“Can we keep him mom? He followed me home…”

 

Kids in Tajikistan love a good hunk  of bread, like naan (and it’s healthy, too – the dough is made with yogurt), as well as lamb and dried fruit plov, or rice. Celebrate Mother’s Day with a recipe from Tajikistan.

food-from-tajikistan

 

8. MONGOLIA

Photo by Tiarescott.

Mongolian boy and his hawk. Photo by Tiarescott.

 

“Up, up, and away!”

 

Kids in Mongolia love their carrots – they are one of the few veggies that grow well in the brutal climate. The carrot salads have gone into our regular rotation. And their tea parties? All about green and millet tea – with plenty of milk, of course. Celebrate Mother’s Day with a recipe from Mongolia.

food-from-Mongolia

 

9. MAURITANIA

Photo by Ferdinand Reus.

Photo by Ferdinand Reus.

 

Confidence accomplishes more than size.

 

Children in Mauritania clamor for couscous, roast lamb with dried fruit stuffing, and hot sips of sweet North African green mint tea. Celebrate Mother’s Day with a recipe from Mauritania.

food-from-mauritania

 

10. ETHIOPIA

Photo by Gianfranco Gori.

Photo by Gianfranco Gori.

 

Workin’ the look! (Puts Blue Steel to shame!)

 

No meal is complete in Ethiopia without injera, the spongey flatbread, perhaps with a bit of spicy lamb stew. Fresh popped popcorn is a way of life in Ethiopia, served during the country’s ubiquitous coffee ceremonies. Celebrate Mother’s Day with a recipe from Ethiopia.

food-from-ethiopia

 

11. CAPE VERDE

Kindergartners enjoying ice cream in Cape Verde. Photo by DuncanCV.

Kindergartners enjoying ice cream in Cape Verde. Photo by DuncanCV.

 

“I don’t know what she’s so excited about.”

 

Slurp your way through a coconut milk smoothie like a Cape Verdean … or go for their veggie-packed cachupa stew… or better yet, some sweetly addicting avocado and date dip (I have a feeling this one would be great for babies)! Celebrate Mother’s Day with a recipe from Cape Verde.

food-from-cape-verde

 

12. BENIN

Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D.

Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D.

 

Peekaboo!

 

Kids in Benin love bananas cooked in orange sauce (ice cream is a bonus!), mashed black eyed peas, coconut rice, and baked crabs! Celebrate Mother’s Day with a recipe from Benin.

food-from-benin

 

13. BASQUE COUNTRY

Photo by jazpillaga.

Photo by jazpillaga.

 

“I have the same hat as my daddyyyy!”

 

The Basque country straddles France and Spain; children in this region love  everything from  pots de creme, French onion soup, artisan French bread, paella, churros, sangria, and more! Celebrate Mother’s Day with a recipe from France or Spain.

food-from-France

food-from-spain

 

Happy Mother’s Day, from our Global Table Adventure, to yours!

Love you all loads and loads.

xxoo Sasha

 

P.S.  Hungry for more? You, too, can explore all of the world-wide recipes our family tried when we cooked our way around the world! Simply view our interactive map to begin.

 

recipe.mexican.pizza.img_5185

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Mexican Grilled “Pizza” | Tlayuda

recipe.mexican.pizza.img_5190
Sometimes I want it all:

A clean house and a lazy weekend.
A good night’s sleep and a Doctor Who marathon.
Salad and pizza.
Mexican and Italian food.

I might not be able to balance out the former two, but as for the latter?

Yes and yes. 

The biggest tortilla in town.

Tlayuda is Mexico’s answer to pizza. But don’t expect tomato sauce and basil leaves.

This popular Oaxacan street food is made on an enormous tortilla and spread thickly with black beans (Take note: these aren’t ordinary black beans – they’ve been blended with a heaping of roasted garlic and onion, cumin, and chile powder). Purists will spread the tortilla with lard, too – though I prefer a light brush of vegetable oil.

recipe.mexican.pizza.img_5130

Finally, cheese is sprinkled on top, as is your choice of meat (beef, pork, or browned chorizo) and a garden’s-worth of toppings (think avocado, tomato, cheese, cilantro, lettuce, and jalepenos).

It can be served open-faced or folded in half.

recipe.mexican.pizza.img_5156

When the first hot bite passes your lips, be prepared for a flavor explosion –  especially when you add a puckering of freshly squeezed lime juice and salsa on top.

It’s like eating an enormous taco… but better.

Is your mouth watering yet?

recipe.mexican.pizza.img_5220

In Memoriam

I planned to send my grill out in style by making just such a mouth-watering Tlayuda in honor of Cinco de Mayo.

The grill was gifted to me seven years ago by a friend. Most grills only last a handful of years, so ours was quite geriatric. Recently the drip pan rusted through, the ignitor failed twice, and two of three grates had crumbled into oblivion. We’ve spent more in replacement parts than the grill’s original worth.

After  my first two attempts the Tlayuda tasted pretty good, so I sent the grill off to our industrious and free-spirited neighbors, the Bearded Boys. They offered to baby the rusted box through a final season before it goes where all old grills go.

TheBeardedBoys

And then I did what all bloggers should do before they hit publish: I reviewed my recipe and photos. 

Oh my.

The post was totally unusable – the steps were too complicated and most of the pictures looked completely unappetizing. Has this ever happened to you? There’s nothing worse than yucky photos of a delicious treat!

So I tried again. This time with my new grill.

So you’ll see pictures of the old and the new today.

All for cinco de mayo.

What’s the story with Cinco de Mayo?

What everyone likes to say is that Cinco de Mayo is about Mexican freedom – about how they defeated the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

But there’s much more to the story than that…

The city of Puebla, as seen from Loreto Fort. Photo by Ger1010.

The city of Puebla, as seen from Loreto Fort. Photo by Ger1010.

A year after the famous Cinco de Mayo victory, the city of Puebla in Mexico was still under siege.  The first Cinco de Mayo celebrations were held in California, on the first anniversary of the Puebla victory… so as to drum up support for the ongoing struggle

You see, California had only become a part of the USA back in 1848 – less than 20 years earlier. The chicano population was vibrant and passionate.

Today, fierce Chicano pride has continued to keep the celebration alive in the United States. And all of Mexico observes May 5 as a holiday. As to be expected, the city of Puebla hosts special events and celebrations.

Cinco de Mayo dancers. Photo by dbking.

Cinco de Mayo dancers. Photo by dbking.

Today the holiday has grown to encompass fiestas, dancing, and amazing Mexican food.

Bite into the Celebration

There’s no better way to celebrate the cross-cultural celebration Cinco de Mayo than a tlayuda, or Mexican Grilled Pizza. I’ve adapted the traditional recipe somewhat, making a thicker corn tortilla base, rendering this recipe more like a thin-crust pizza – and serve it in wedges. You could also slice it in squares.

Or… you can roll it thinner and fold it, as they do in Mexico!

recipe.mexican.pizza.img_5233

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

4 ounces fresh chorizo sausage

For the black bean spread:
5 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 small onion, peeled and sliced in thick rings
One 15 ounce can of black beans
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
salt, to taste

One 13-inch homemade corn tortilla (or several store-bought)
8 ounces Oaxaca, Monterey Jack, or mozarella cheese

Toppings (as desired):
handful sliced lettuce or cabbage
small handful fresh cilantro
1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped
1 fresh jalepeno, sliced (optional, for heat)
1 tomato, chopped
queso fresco, crumbled
salsa
lime wedges

Method:

Preheat the grill to 450F.
Brown the chorizo sausage in a skillet. Set aside.

recipe.mexican.pizza.img_5124

Add the garlic and onion to the grill and cook until browned and softened, turning once (if the garlic is too small and threatens to fall through the grates, simply put them on a piece of foil). Set aside.

recipe.mexican.pizza.img_4992

For the tortilla:

If preparing your own corn tortilla, follow my recipe – but instead of making several small tortillas, make one thick 13-inch tortilla. Corn tortillas can be fragile; to minimize handling I recommend rolling the dough out on a pizza peel that has been heavily dusted with masa harina. Do not flip. While rolling, occasionally press with your hands on the top edge and side to crimp back together any jagged bits. Brush the top of the tortilla with vegetable oil.

recipe.mexican.pizza.img_5151Slide  tortilla onto a well-oiled grill. Cover and cook 5-8 minutes. Keep on the pizza peel, under a damp (not wet!) cloth until needed.

For the black bean topping:

Add a can of black beans with their liquid, chili powder, cumin, and salt to a blender or food processor. Peel the grilled garlic and onion and them to the mix. Pulse until mostly combined.

recipe.mexican.pizza.img_5006

Assembly & cooking:

Spread the tortilla(s) with black bean spread (there may be a little leftover – it makes a great dip). Sprinkle on the cheese and cooked chorizo sausage. Grill for a few minutes until very hot.

recipe.mexican.pizza.img_5169

Garnish as desired with chopped lettuce, cilantro, avocado, sliced jalepeno, tomato, queso fresco, and/or salsa. Squeeze lime wedges over the top.

Enjoy with a contented sigh and too-big bites.

recipe.mexican.pizza.img_5185

A few more Cinco de Mayo Menu Ideas:

Strawberry Almond Horchata

5 Step Mole Poblano

Cheesy Roasted Poblanos (Rajas con Crema)

 

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Tlayuda is Mexico’s answer to pizza. But don’t expect tomato sauce and basil leaves. This popular Oaxacan street food is made on an enormous tortilla and spread thickly with black beans (Take note: these aren’t ordinary black beans – they’ve been blended with a heaping of roasted garlic and onion, cumin, and chile powder). Purists will spread the tortilla with lard, too – though I prefer a light brush of vegetable oil. Finally, cheese is sprinkled on top, as is your choice of meat (beef, pork, or browned chorizo) and a garden’s-worth of toppings (think avocado, tomato, cheese, cilantro, lettuce, and jalepenos). It can be served open-faced or folded in half.Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Mexican Grilled "Pizza" | Tlayuda
Servings
4-6people
Servings
4-6people
Ingredients
For the black bean spread
Toppings (as desired)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the grill to 450F. Brown the chorizo sausage in a skillet. Set aside. Add the garlic and onion to the grill and cook until browned and softened, turning once (if the garlic is too small and threatens to fall through the grates, simply put them on a piece of foil). Set aside.
  2. For the tortilla: If preparing your own corn tortilla, follow my recipe – but instead of making several small tortillas, make one thick 13-inch tortilla. Corn tortillas can be fragile; to minimize handling I recommend rolling the dough out on a pizza peel that has been heavily dusted with masa harina. Do not flip. While rolling, occasionally press with your hands on the top edge and side to crimp back together any jagged bits. Brush the top of the tortilla with vegetable oil.
  3. Slide tortilla onto a well-oiled grill. Cover and cook 5-8 minutes. Keep on the pizza peel, under a damp (not wet!) cloth until needed.
  4. For the black bean topping: Add a can of black beans with their liquid, chili powder, cumin, and salt to a blender or food processor. Peel the grilled garlic and onion and them to the mix. Pulse until mostly combined.
  5. Assembly & cooking: Spread the tortilla(s) with black bean spread (there may be a little leftover – it makes a great dip). Sprinkle on the cheese and cooked chorizo sausage. Grill for a few minutes until very hot.
  6. Garnish as desired with chopped lettuce, cilantro, avocado, sliced jalepeno, tomato, queso fresco, and/or salsa. Squeeze lime wedges over the top. Enjoy with a contented sigh and too-big bites.
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.