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Fattoush, a Levantene Salad for Kahlil Gibran

How to make Fattoush

“The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding
… the vision of one man lends not its wings to another man.”

- Kahlil Gibran

The best teachers’ lessons stay relevant long after their deaths. Such is the case with the Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931). Often, when I’m at a loss for what to do, I’ll pick up his book The Prophet.

Despite living a nearly hundred years ago, his wisdom still disarms me.

Kahil Gibran Quote: ""And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart, 'Your seeds shall live in my body, And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart, And your fragrance shall be my breath, And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.'"

That’s just one of his many beautiful lines.

I love the idea that the fresh produce we eat not only becomes a part of us, but improves us – brings us to life. The work of modern nutritionists back up Gibran – this is not just poetry, it’s science.

How to make Fattoush

So this week I’m making him a salad.

A salad enjoyed in his corner of the world (Gibran was born in Lebanon and, even after living in the United States, chose to be buried in Lebanon). Here’s the museum they built in his honor:

Kahlil Gibran Museum

Gibran Museum, located in Bsharri, Lebanon. Photo by Xtcrider.

This salad celebrates his teachings … and the bittersweet fact that Ava is in kindergarten this year, learning in leaps and bounds (she had her first Chinese class the other day!). 

Ava goes back to school

Such a big girl! 

(sob)

Apparently Gibran waited years before he shared his manuscript with his publisher; he wanted it to make sure every word was just right. What a glory to know we have his best words at our fingertips.

A recipe for Fattoush

I chose a salad called Fattoush to thank him – a happy combination of toasted pita, rough-chopped salad bits - cucumber, lettuce, green onion (or red), the last of the gorgeous summer tomatoes – and I toss them with fresh herbs  (mint and parsley really pop). Variations include feta and olives. The dressing is a bright lemon garlic affair, with ground sumac for a tart garnish.

This casual beauty is enjoyed throughout the Middle East, especially in Lebanon, Syria (and now… in our little corner of Tulsa, Oklahoma), making dinnertime fresh and cool.

How to make Fattoush Dressing

TIP: In a hurry? Buy pita chips at the store to make an already quick meal lightening fast!

Ingredients:

For the dressing:

juice of 2 lemons, seeds removed but not strained
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
pepper

For the salad:

1 head romaine lettuce, torn or sliced
1 cucumber, sliced in quarter moons
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 cup mint leaves, torn
1/2 cup parsley leaves, torn
1 green pepper, chopped
6 green onions, sliced

For the garnishes:

2 pieces of pita bread toasted and broken into small pieces
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil
salt

feta, to taste (optional)
black olives (optional)
Ground sumac for dusting (optional)

Method:

For the salad dressing:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl or jar and mix thoroughly.

How to make Fattoush Dressing

Salad dressing for fattoush

Prepare the pita chips

Toast the whole pita in a frying pan over medium-low heat until crisp.  When cool break into pieces and place in a medium bowl; pour oil over and toss to coat. Season pita to taste with salt.

Toasting pita chips for Fattoush

Assemble the salad:

Add all salad ingredients to a large bowl. Toss with salad dressing to taste (I used about half of it). Add the pita chips and any desired garnishes (or set the garnishes out on the table in small bowls so the guests can choose what they’d like).

I like to serve fattoush on a large platter instead of a bowl – it makes for a pretty presentation and somehow makes the meal feel as grand as it should.

In no time you’ll go from this…

How to make Fattoush

 

… to this:
How to make Fattoush

Smiles all around!

How to make Fattoush

Enjoy!

And thanks, Mr. Gibran!

Kahlil Gibran as an adult, a youth, and with his family (standing on the left of his father).

Kahlil Gibran as an adult, a youth, and with his family (standing on the left of his father).

Kahlil Gibran quote

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Fattoush is a happy combination of toasted pita, rough-chopped salad bits - cucumber, lettuce, green onion (or red), the last of the gorgeous summer tomatoes - and I toss them with fresh herbs (mint and parsley really pop). Variations include feta and olives. The dressing is a bright lemon garlic affair, with ground sumac for a tart garnish. This casual beauty is enjoyed throughout the Middle East, especially in Lebanon, Syria - making dinnertime fresh and cool.Fattoush, a Levantene Salad for Kahlil Gibran
Ingredients
For the dressing:
For the salad:
For the garnishes:
Instructions
For the salad dressing:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl or jar and mix thoroughly.
Prepare the pita chips:
  1. Toast the whole pita in a frying pan over medium-low heat until crisp. When cool break into pieces and place in a medium bowl; pour oil over and toss to coat. Season pita to taste with salt.
Assemble the salad:
  1. Add all salad ingredients to a large bowl. Toss with salad dressing to taste (I used about half of it). Add the pita chips and any desired garnishes (or set the garnishes out on the table in small bowls so the guests can choose what they'd like). I like to serve fattoush on a large platter instead of a bowl - it makes for a pretty presentation and somehow makes the meal feel as grand as it should.
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only.

40 DRINKS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Celebrate Labor Day with 40 Cold Drinks from around the world

40 COLD DRINKS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

 

IMG_0788_HsmHi friends!

When someone asks how you are doing, do you reply “Oh, SO busy”? I recently read that being ‘busy’ is the new norm. Turns out that’s how many people are measuring their self worth and even asserting their status as an “important” person.

Ugg.

This makes labor day an even more important holiday in my book.  A time to slow down, enjoy the bounty the world has to offer, and just… be… with your family and friends. I’ve compiled 40 cold drinks from your global neighbors for you to enjoy this weekend (perhaps not all at once, eh?).

Bonus challenge?

Vow not to say you’re busy for the entire month of September.
Even if you are. #letsbanbusy
xxoo Sasha

NOTE: These recipes are enjoyed in their particular countries, but not necessarily exclusive to the countries.

 

Cold drinks from Africa

The African drinks we’ve tried on our cooking adventure include a lot of fresh, tropical fruits like mango, pineapple and papaya. There’s also a good deal of ginger (think ginger beer and ginger tea), hibiscus, and earthy spices like cinnamon. All of these ingredients grow easily in Africa. The most unusual drink by far has to be the “burnt” rice tea, made with toasted leftover rice in Madagascar. A real curiosity that’s sure to fascinate your loved ones.

 

African drink recipes (from upper left to bottom right)


Vanilla Ginger Bissap
 | Mali
West-African Inspired Watermelon Lemonade | Ghana
Chapman Cocktail | Nigeria
“Burnt” Rice Tea (Ranovola) | Madagascar
Mango Daiquiris | Cameroon
Swahili Ginger n’ Milk Tea | Mozambique
Coconut Milkshake | Cape Verde
Lemon Ginger Tea (Gingembre) | The Gambia
Spiced Papaya Milk | Chad
Iced Hibiscus Drink with Pineapple (Bissap a la Bonne Dame) | Burkina Faso
Not pictured: Coconut Milk Chiller | Cape Verde

.

Cold drinks from Asia

Asia is an enormous continent which extends from the Arabian peninsula, through eastern Russia, all the way east towards Japan. We were lucky enough to try cold drinks available representative of this variety. Anything with rosewater or orange blossom water is interesting (When I first tried it I thought it was like drinking perfume, but now the floral note is a household favorite). Kids will love the drinks with unusual textures (like tapioca pearls or jello in the glass – so fun!).

 

Asian drink recipes (from upper left to bottom right)


Masala Chai (Spiced tea with milk)
 | India
Israeli Juice (Lemon-Limeade with fresh mint) | Israel
Tapioca & Jello Sipper | Sago at Gulaman | Philippines
Rosewater Lemonade | Oman
Orange Blossom Juice | UAE
Lomi Lomi | Maldives
Not pictured: Espresso Jello with Evaporated Milk | Japan

.

Cold drinks from Europe

I’m not sure what happened with the European drinks we sampled – but there’s a lot more boozy drinks in this list – everything from the Lithuanian Honey Spirits (take it from me: make them now for Christmas gifts later), to the quirky concoction called Bambus, made with red wine and coca cola (apparently a great way to use up sub-par wine)!

 

European drink recipes (from upper left to bottom right)


Iced Fruit Drink (Kompot)
 | Bulgaria
Honey Spirits (Krupnikas) | Lithuania
Sangria | Spain
Finnish Blueberry Milk | Finland
Bambus (Celebration Drink) | Croatia

.

Cold drinks from North America

Here’s another grouping that makes me smile – all sorts of fresh fruit, sparkling flavors, and certainly more than a little bit of “punch.” One of my favorites is also Jimmy Buffet’s favorite – the spiked Coconut Water, but I’ll take a Killer Bee or Strawberry Horchata any day of the week. The strangest one of all is definitely the grapefruit and avocado smoothie… the creamy avocado gives the drink body (and does a body good)!

 

North American drink recipes  (from upper left to bottom right)


Spiked Coconut Water
 |Barbados
Pineapple Horchata | Nicaragua
Sparkling Grapefruit Breeze | Antigua & Barbuda
Caribbean Rum Punch | Grenada & beyond
Mojito | Cuba
Killer Bee Cocktail with Black Pepper & Nutmeg | Saint Kitts and Nevis
Strawberry Almond Horchata | Mexico
Sorrel Drink | Jamaica
Grapefruit & Avocado Smoothie | Dominica
Bahama Mama | Bahamas

.

Cold drinks from Oceania

These are such fun! The Recycled Iced Coffee has the most interesting background (locals they really do sell them from shacks in recycled water bottles and other plastic containers!), while the ‘Otai and Papaya sipper are nearly impossible to put down. Seriously.

 

Oceanic drink recipes (from upper left to bottom right)


“Recycled” Iced Coffee
 | Nauru
Coconut Watermelon Refresher | ‘Otai | Tonga
Pineapple Papaya Coco Sipper | Micronesia

.

SOUTH AMERICAN DRINKS

South America knows what’s what… but perhaps this list is not what you may have expected. The fruit salad looking drink is as awesome as the coca cola infused ice coffee (I mean, how could it not be?!). Perhaps most interesting, however, is the Lemongrass Dawet – originally a drink from Asia but that has been popularized in Suriname. I dare say, the USA is not the only melting pot!

 

South American drink recipes (from upper left to bottom right)


Colombian Oatmeal Smoothie (Avena)
 | Colombia
Iced Brazilian Mocha-Cola | Brazil
Lemongrass Dawet | Suriname
Venezuelan Fruit Punch | Tizana | Venezuela

.

P.S. Here’s something for those of you looking to grill this Labor Day: 21 of the World’s Best Grilled Eats!

The-world's-best-grilled-recipes

Cold soup recipes from around the world.

Chill out with 7 cold soups from around the world

7 Cold soup recipes from around the world.

A few things have changed since the early days of this blog (namely the photography), but one thing is certain: I love a good, chilled soup in the summer. Here are seven awesome cold soup recipes from around the world that aren’t gazpacho – because, my goodness, there are other cold soups besides gazpacho! So, without further ado, summer’s almost over – let’s skip the heat and chill out.

1. Mul Naengmyeon | Korea [Recipe]

Iced Korean Buckwheat Noodles (Mul-naengmyeon) | 7 cold soups from around the world

This Korean recipe is the most recent addition to our collection – a soup so cold, it is actually served with ice. It’s claim to fame? The balance of flavor between earthy buckwheat noodles spicy cucumber, sweet Asian pear, and tart vinegar.

The best part? This soup is DIY, so everyone can add exactly what they like (and leave out the rest) – perfect for picky eaters who want to stovetop travel to Korea!

Mount Bukhansan (북한산) seen from Shinseondae (신선대) Peak observation area. Photo by Kellnerp.

Mount Bukhansan (북한산) seen from Shinseondae (신선대) Peak observation area. Photo by Kellnerp.

2. Rye Bread Soup with Homemade Rhubarb Raisins | Iceland [Recipe]

 

Rye Bread Soup Recipe | Iceland | 7 Cold soup recipes from around the world.

A soup made with bread? Yup. It’s thick, heavy on the rye, and just odd enough to get table conversation going. While traditionally served hot, Brauðsúpadc makes quite an interesting cold soup. My favorite part has to be the “raisin topping” made from sun dried rhubarb – so easy and fun! You make them in the oven or – if it’s super hot where you live – you can literally dry them in the sun. Fun for the whole family!

It’s just the kind of soup to turn heads.

Just ask this horse.

An Icelandic horse near Krýsuvík. Photo by Andreas Tille.

An Icelandic horse near Krýsuvík. Photo by Andreas Tille.

3. Tart Rhubarb Soup | Iceland [Recipe]

 

Tart Rhubarb Soup Recipe | Iceland | 7 Cold soup recipes from around the world.

Speaking of rhubarb, this soup just might be the happy offspring of rhubarb and lemonade. The puree is tart in a sparkly sort of way, rounded out with a touch of sweetness. Want to make a good thing even better? Give each bowlful a soft spoon of whipped cream on top.

It’ll taste the way this feels:

Sunset at Goðafoss in Winter, Iceland. Photo by Andreas Tille.

Sunset at Goðafoss in Winter, Iceland. Photo by Andreas Tille.

4. Chilled Cherry Soup | Hungary [Recipe]

 

Chilled Cherry Soup | Hungary | 7 Cold soup recipes from around the world.

This cherrylicious soup is one of my favorites. Sure, I’m part Hungarian, but even if I weren’t the combination of cherries, wine and cinnamon is… ridiculous. In the best possible way. You can use fresh tart cherries or jarred – but be sure to top each bowl the Hungarian way: with sour cream. The richness is the perfect foil to the fruity soup. Perhaps it might be fun to enjoy while contemplating the work of Hungarian artist József Rippl-Rónai (1861–1927) – a sour cherry tree!

Sour Cherry Tree in Blossom (1909). Photo by

Sour Cherry Tree in Blossom (1909). Painting by József Rippl-Rónai (1861–1927)

 

5. Coco-Mango Soup | Guyana [Recipe]

 

Coco-Mango Soup | Guyana | 7 Cold soup recipes from around the world.

This might be my favorite of the cold soups – simply puree fresh mango with coconut milk, yogurt, and honey…. until satin-smooth… top with coconut chips. I mean… what’s not to love?! Still not sure? It takes like… 10 minutes to whip together. Talk about an entertainers dream!

Thanks for this mango landing, Guyana!

Here’s another mango landing from Guyana to enjoy while we eat:

Pontoon Crossing at Mango Landing Essequibo River.

Pontoon Crossing at Mango Landing Essequibo River. Photo by Nick Taylor.

6. Chilled Cucumber Soup – Tarator | Bulgaria [Recipe]

 

Chilled Cucumber Soup - Tarator | 7 Cold soup recipes from around the world.

Tarator is a lovely surprise – fresh cucumbers and yogurt with a dollop of dill. A great big bite of delicious beloved throughout much of Eastern Europe but prepared when we cooked Bulgaria!

All in all, a great recipe that tastes like… a true Bulgarian beauty almost as great as this vista:

The Black sea coast near Chernomorets. Photo by Evgord.

The Black sea coast near Chernomorets. Photo by Evgord.

7. Borscht | Eastern Europe [Recipe]

 

Borscht | 7 Cold soup recipes from around the world.

Oh, look at this photo! Have faith ye new food blogger! Keep snapping those pictures. It took me four years of trial and error to put photos like this in the past. As for the soup? This one is as good cold as it is hot. We’re talking beets, cabbage, potatoes, and more.

Yum. Yum. Yum.

We tried it for Belarus where… apparently…

Swans on the beach beside the Dryviaty tourist centre near Braslaŭ, Belarus. Photo by Andrej Kuźniečyk.

Swans on the beach beside the Dryviaty tourist centre near Braslaŭ, Belarus. Photo by Andrej Kuźniečyk.

this swan lives…

As with the previous soup – you’ll find variations on this recipe throughout eastern Europe and central Asia.

Pssst… How are you keeping cold this summer? I invite you to try one of these soups and tag me on instagram (@globaltable) or use #GlobalTableAdventure to share your feast. I so LOVE seeing what you all are up to!

recipe.Iced.Korean.Buckwheat.Noodles.img_6295

Iced Korean Buckwheat Noodles | Mul-naengmyeon

Iced Korean Buckwheat Noodles | Mul-naengmyeon

Perhaps you’ve had chilled soup, but have you ever had soup on ice?

Korean naengmyeon is just that – a brothy, noodle soup topped with spicy cucumber, Asian pear, daikon radish, hard-boiled egg, and ice. While the soup starts out mild in flavor, adding vinegar, mustard oil (or paste), and even a spoonful of kimchee takes the soup to a whole new flavor profile – the catch is this seasoning is usually done at the table, so everyone can control how their naengmyeon tastes.

Do you want it spicy? Sour? Heavy on the pear? The choice is yours.

Iced Korean Buckwheat Noodles | Mul-naengmyeon

Iced Korean Buckwheat Noodles | Mul-naengmyeon

Have you ever had Asian pear?

I love Ava’s face, here! She wasn’t sure about the Asian pear, but ended up eating nearly an entire pear herself by the end of dinner. While you could substitute bosc pears or just leave them off, crisp Asian pears are incredibly floral as compared to standard pears… they remind me a lot of star fruit in that way.

Iced Korean Buckwheat Noodles | Mul-naengmyeon

Tips:

– I made my own seasoned broth, adding dried mushrooms and kelp powder, but if you’re in a hurry you could just use regular beef broth and call it a day. Doing this would make this a super fast weeknight meal.

– I got all the ingredients for this soup at my grocery store – the noodles and kelp powder were on the international aisle, the kimchee was refrigerated, and the daikon and asian pear were in the produce section.

– Try not to cut your noodles – slurping them whole is considered good luck. When purchasing the noodles, look for a combination of buckwheat and sweet potato flour – they provide the characteristic chewy/snap that makes the dish so fun to eat. In a pinch, regular buckwheat noodles can be substituted.

– You really don’t need all the toppings – that’s up to you. The key is to have fun and let your personality shine!

"Holding a drinking party" (transliteration:Jusa geobae) from Hyewon pungsokdo by 19th-century Korean painter, Hyewon. Original stored at Gansong Art Museum in Seoul, South Korea.

“Holding a drinking party” (transliteration:Jusa geobae) from Hyewon pungsokdo by 19th-century Korean painter, Hyewon. Original stored at Gansong Art Museum in Seoul, South Korea.

Serves 4

Ingredients

one 9-ounce package Buckwheat noodles
crushed ice

For the broth:

2 quarts beef broth
1/2 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
1-2 teaspoons kelp powder
salt

Toppings:

4 hard boiled eggs
1 cucumber, seeds removed and cut into sticks
1 small daikon radish
1 Asian or bosc pear, cut into sticks, optional
sugar
rice vinegar
salt
ground chili flakes, to taste (optional)
kimchee (optional)

Garnishes:

mustard or sesame oil
rice vinegar

Method:

Add the dried mushrooms and kelp powder to the water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes, until flavorful. Refrigerate until cold (go ahead and leave the mushrooms to steep longer). After chilling give the broth a taste – cold food loses some flavor – you may need to add some seasoning.

Iced Korean Buckwheat Noodles | Mul-naengmyeon

Meanwhile:

Prepare the cucumber and daikon radish garnishes. Place each in their own bowl and add the sugar, salt, and vinegar, starting with 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Keep adding the sugar and vinegar until you get the sweet/tang you are looking for. I like somewhere between 1 and 2 teaspoons of vinegar and half as much sugar.  I generally go with about 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Add chili flakes to the cucumbers until they are spicy enough for your tastes (I liked a half teaspoon, for medium burn).

Slice up the pear right before serving or slice ahead and store in lemon water so the fruit doesn’t brown.

Iced Korean Buckwheat Noodles | Mul-naengmyeon

Next:

Cook the buckwheat noodles and rinse well (you’re looking to cool them down and rinse off the starch so they won’t be gummy).

To serve:

Divide the noodles among 4 bowls.

Ladle on the chilled broth, ice, and toppings, as desired. Season with vinegar (I like a lot!) and mustard oil or paste (I like a few drops).

Eat!!

Iced Korean Buckwheat Noodles | Mul-naengmyeon

Enjoy with a view of the flowers of Korea…

 

The Flower Village of Paju City by Ben Hur.

The Flower Village of Paju City by Ben Hur.

… What a dream!

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Korean naengmyeon is just that – a brothy, noodle soup topped with spicy cucumber, Asian pear, daikon radish, hard-boiled egg, and ice. While the soup starts out mild in flavor, adding vinegar, mustard oil (or paste), and even a spoonful of kimchee takes the soup to a whole new flavor profile – the catch is this seasoning is usually done at the table, so everyone can control how their naengmyeon tastes. Do you want it spicy? Sour? Heavy on the pear? The choice is yours.Iced Korean Buckwheat Noodles | Mul-naengmyeon
Servings
4people
Servings
4people
Ingredients
For the broth
Toppings
Instructions
  1. Add the dried mushrooms and kelp powder to the water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes, until flavorful. Refrigerate until cold (go ahead and leave the mushrooms to steep longer). After chilling give the broth a taste – cold food loses some flavor – you may need to add some seasoning.
  2. Meanwhile: Prepare the cucumber and daikon radish garnishes. Place each in their own bowl and add the sugar, salt, and vinegar, starting with 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Keep adding the sugar and vinegar until you get the sweet/tang you are looking for. I like somewhere between 1 and 2 teaspoons of vinegar and half as much sugar. I generally go with about 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  3. Add chili flakes to the cucumbers until they are spicy enough for your tastes (I liked a half teaspoon, for medium burn). Slice up the pear right before serving or slice ahead and store in lemon water so the fruit doesn’t brown.
  4. Next: Cook the buckwheat noodles and rinse well (you’re looking to cool them down and rinse off the starch so they won’t be gummy).
  5. To serve: Divide the noodles among 4 bowls. Ladle on the chilled broth, ice, and toppings, as desired. Season with vinegar (I like a lot!) and mustard oil or paste (I like a few drops).
Recipe Notes

Tips:

– I made my own seasoned broth, adding dried mushrooms and kelp powder, but if you’re in a hurry you could just use regular beef broth and call it a day. Doing this would make this a super fast weeknight meal.

– I got all the ingredients for this soup at my grocery store – the noodles and kelp powder were on the international aisle, the kimchee was refrigerated, and the daikon and asian pear were in the produce section.

– Try not to cut your noodles – slurping them whole is considered good luck. When purchasing the noodles, look for a combination of buckwheat and sweet potato flour – they provide the characteristic chewy/snap that makes the dish so fun to eat. In a pinch, regular buckwheat noodles can be substituted.

– You really don’t need all the toppings – that’s up to you. The key is to have fun and let your personality shine!

Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only.

corn around the world

Around the world in corn ~ 20 recipes to celebrate the harvest

Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

I can get behind a holiday in which corn on the cob is the star. The Green Corn Ceremony (a.k.a. The Busk) is just that – a Native American celebration marking the first corn harvest of the season… which usually occurs in August or September. Not only is The Busk a time to feast on corn in a variety of forms, it is a time to right old wrongs, clean the home, and purify the mind.

Mind. Belly. Spirit.

In honor of the harvest, I’ve gathered the dozens of corn recipes we tried when we cooked our way around the world. I invite you to try one of these recipes and share your photos on Instagram with #GlobalTableAdventure (be sure to include the people and food pics).  Let us know how it went! I’ll regram the yummiest ones! (And be sure to leave a comment below with what you’d most like to try!)

No passports required – by trying one of the recipes below, you can be where ever you’d like in… a… forkbeat!

 

Mealie Bread | SWAZILAND [Recipe]

The moistest, corn-blasted cornbread around. (with no cornflour in sight!)… Try it warm with a pat of butter!

Mealie Bread Recipe from Swaziland | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

 

Street Corn with Lime Juice, Chilies and Salt | KENYA [Recipe]

There’s almost nothing easier than rolling hot, grilled corn in salt, lime juice, and minced chili peppers… and it tastes amazing. Take a hint from the Kenyans and make it a staple in your life.

Kenyan Street Corn | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

Here’s a recipe card I made, if you want to pin it for later:

How to make Kenyan Street Corn

 

Fresh Corncakes with Cheese | Cachapas | VENEZUELA [Recipe]

Just three main ingredients: corn, masa harina, and an ooey gooey cheese like queso mano or mozzarella. Ready, set, get your stretch on!

Venezuelan Cachapas Recipe | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

Around the world in corn ~ 20 recipes to celebrate the harvest

 

Coconut Curried Corn | Galey iyo Qumbo | SOMALIA [Recipe]

Ohhh, Somalia! Serve up this curried corn at the next potluck… everyone will be happy with the luscious sauce – a blend of creamy coconut milk, turmeric, tomato sauce, and onion.

Coconut Curried Corn | Galey iyo Qumbo| Somalia | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

Spiced Elote | Mexican Corn on the Cob with cheese, chili powder & lime juice | MEXICO [Recipe]

Say Hola to lady Mexico with this standard street food – Rich, cheesy elote (don’t forget the chili powder). Not just tasty – this one’s a looker, too!

Spiced Elote | Mexican corn on the cob | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

Roasted Squash with Corn and Cheese | ZIMBABWE [Recipe]

The very last country we cooked on our quest to eat the world. This one is as good on the grill as it is in the oven, making it a year-round staple. One of my daughter Ava’s most requested side dishes!

Zimbabwe's Roasted Squash with corn and cheese | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

Potato and Corn Casserole | Pastel de papa con eliote | ARGENTINA [Recipe]

Comfort food deluxe… mashed potatoes with a pureed corn topping. I like the crusty bits on the edges!

Potato and Corn Casserole (Pastel de papa con eliote) | Argentina | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

 

Pancho | URUGUAY [Recipe]

Corn on a hot dog? In Uruguay they’d tell you… sí!

Pancho | Uruguay | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

Cheesy Cornbread with fried peppers | Sopa Paraguaya | PARAGUAY [Recipe]

Inside you’ll find tons of flavor thanks to fried peppers and onion with cottage cheese, monterey jack, and more. Practically a meal in itself!

Sopa Paraguaya | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

Grilled Corn with Coconut Milk | CAMBODIA [Recipe]

This is the big easy! Just corn and coconut milk! To mix things up, try adding a little sugar and chopped green onion to the coconut milk. (Thanks to reader Sophie S.W. for sharing this yummy suggestion on our Facebook page)

Cambodian Grilled Corn | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

Dutch Potato Salad | Huzarensalade  | THE NETHERLANDS [Recipe]

This one has it all: Ham, hard-boiled eggs, corn, gherkins, apples, and so much more. Perfect for a hot afternoon’s feast!

Dutch Potato Salad | The Netherlands | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

Irio | TANZANIA [Recipe]

This east African favorite is a classic on our tables now… mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas and a whole lotta love!

Irio | Tanzania | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

Mealie Bread with Blackened Chilies | ZAMBIA [Recipe

This mildly spicy cornbread is GREAT with a bowl of piping hot chili. The pieces of corn make it even more irresistible.

Mealie Bread with Blackened Chilies | Zambia | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

Nigerian Curried Fried Rice | NIGERIA [Recipe]

Curry? Rice? Veggies? Fried???? Yes, please and thank you!

Nigerian Curried Fried Rice | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

Albanian Cornbread with Feta | ALBANIA [Recipe]

A bright, fresh cornbread featuring feta and green onion. Good enough to eat.

Albanian Cornbread with Feta | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

Corn with Plantains | CAMEROON [Recipe]

Here’s a nice, homey side dish from Cameroon. Cooked peppers, plantains, and corn… seasoned with red palm oil, a West African staple. Easy peasy!

Corn with Plantains | Cameroon | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

South American Chicken Casserole (Pastel del Choclo) | CHILE |  [Recipe]

A funky combination of chicken, egg, and olives under a sweet corn topping. A strange but utterly addictive combination that’ll have you smiling from ear to ear.

South American Chicen Casserole | Pastel del Choclo | Chile | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

Mamaliga | Dense Cornmeal “Bread” | MOLDOVA [Recipe]

Think polenta of sorts… but Moldovan… Serve it up with stewed meats and pickled veggies.

Maliga | Moldovan Cornbread | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

Corn on the Cob with Fried Cheese | BOLIVIA [Recipe]

Corn with cheese… it’s a theme, even in Bolivia.  There’s gotta be something to this trend!

bolivian-recipe

Sweet Corn Atol  | El Salvadore [Recipe]

And, yes, there’s even a lovely sweet drink made from corn called atol. All you’ll need is a blender and a smile… and you’ll be sippin’ pretty in no time!

Sweet Corn Atol | El Salvadore | Celebrate Corn season with 20 dishes from around the world

So many great recipes, so little time.

Perhaps, with all of us cooking, we can make them all!

So….

What recipe are you going to try with your family?

Leave a comment below so we can all be inspired!

spiced.elote.recipe.img_6046

Mexican corn on the cob | Spiced Elote

Spiced Elote | Mexican corn on the cob

A well-roasted corn kernel is smoky.  Chewy. Juicy. Irresistible.

This much, Mexicans know.

Some elote are cooked for hours inside clay ovens. They sit over shimmering coals until their bright yellow kernels turn deep, toasty brown and their husks turn brittle.*

Macedonio Alcalá Theater, Oaxaca by Ulises Estrada. Chichen Itza by Daniel Schwen..

Elote Macedonio Alcalá Theater, Oaxaca by Ulises Estrada. Chichen Itza by Daniel Schwen.

More simple recipes speed up the roasting process, but have triple-decker toppings: salty cotija cheese, rich mayonnaise (just enough to make the cheese stick), and smoky ancho chili powder.

Spiced Elote | Mexican corn on the cob

Then the whole cob is sprinkled with cilantro and a good puckering of fresh lime juice. The end result is an ear of corn that is practically a meal in itself.

Spiced Elote | Mexican corn on the cob


Spiced Elote | Mexican corn on the cob

Spiced Elote | Mexican corn on the cob

Spiced Elote | Mexican corn on the cob

Ultimately, the lime juice is what sold me on elote. Even a single, tart wedge does wonders to bring the richly spiced corn into relief… though I found myself squeezing much more on each cob. One bite satisfies me almost as well as a good margarita does.

My version of elote takes extra limes into consideration as well as an interesting technique from America’s Test Kitchen – adding the ancho chili powder before grilling in order to bloom the flavor.

Spiced Elote | Mexican corn on the cob

Friends, this recipe is a celebration of one simple fact: this is a quiet summer – and I insist it stay that way.

There’ll be no extra steps and definitely no fussy soaking of the corn. Next week I go through final proofs of my memoir before National Geographic sends it off to print. Once those are complete, I’m headed to visit my brothers and sister and their families… and I’m just going to… be.

With a bit of ocean on the side.

TOP: Arenas Bay by Cdw1952. BOTTOM: Bahia by Cdw1952.

TOP: Arenas Bay by Cdw1952. BOTTOM: Bahia de los Angeles, in the state of Baja California, Mexico. by Cdw1952.

Bahía de los Ángeles

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 large ears corn, with husks still attached
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder, plus more as needed
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 cups crumbled cotija cheese
a handful fresh cilantro leaves, torn
salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 limes, cut into wedges

Method:

Peel back the corn husks and tie back (I used raffia). Pull off the silk and discard. Mix together the vegetable oil and chili powder, then brush onto corn husks.

Spiced Elote | Mexican corn on the cob

Grill over medium high until cooked through and nicely browned in areas, turning occasionally as needed. Position the husks away from the fire so they don’t burn. This should take about 20 minutes.

Spiced Elote | Mexican corn on the cob

Brush with mayonnaise (Many recipes use much more than I do. I have to say – the more you use, the more cheese will stick.). Then roll in the crumbled cheese.

Spiced Elote | Mexican corn on the cob

Sprinkle extra chili powder on the cobs if desired and douse with lime juice to taste.

Spiced Elote | Mexican corn on the cob

And Ava’s verdict?

Hmmm…

Spiced Elote | Mexican corn on the cob

But it’s messy mama…

Spiced Elote | Mexican corn on the cob

Oh well… here goes nothin’!

Spiced Elote | Mexican corn on the cob

One of the great joys of parenting is when she tries food she’s apprehensive about!

Now it’s your turn! Enjoy … perhaps with some carne asada or a fun Five-step mole poblano!

Yum, yum.

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Some elote are cooked for hours inside clay ovens. They sit over shimmering coals until their bright yellow kernels turn deep, toasty brown and their husks turn brittle.Mexican corn on the cob | Spiced Elote
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Peel back the corn husks and tie back (I used raffia). Pull off the silk and discard. Mix together the vegetable oil and chili powder, then brush onto corn husks.
  2. Grill over medium high until cooked through and nicely browned in areas, turning occasionally as needed. Position the husks away from the fire so they don't burn. This should take about 20 minutes.
  3. Brush with mayonnaise (Many recipes use much more than I do. I have to say - the more you use, the more cheese will stick.). Then roll in the crumbled cheese.
  4. Sprinkle extra chili powder on the cobs if desired and douse with lime juice to taste.
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only.

recipes-and-ideas-to-use-up-watermelon

5 Global Recipes to dress up watermelon this summer

Recipes-and-ideas-to-use-up-watermelon

Thump the bottom of a watermelon and you thump millenia of history. The sound might be hollow, but the content is ripe. Origins of this hefty fruit trace back to Southern Africa, though fandom is widespread: even Egypt’s beloved boy Pharaoh Tutankhamen (a.k.a. King Tut) stashed away some watermelon seeds in his tomb to ensure an abundant (and refreshing) afterlife. Today, watermelon can be found all over the world and is especially beloved in Africa, Asia, and Oceania.

While the simplicity of a fat slice is always welcome, here are a few foolproof ways to add a touch of elegance to your watermelon experience:

1. Watermelon lemonade [Recipe]

West African Watermelon Lemonade | 5 Global Recipes to dress up watermelon

Watermelon and citrus grow abundantly in West Africa. When the fruit is in season, piles of melons line the streets. This naturally pink lemonade is a great, easy way to use up extra watermelon (or even that not-so-perfect specimen).  But, be warned this drink is hard to resist on a hot day – it’ll be gone before you know it! Try the recipe.

2. ‘Otai [Recipe]

'Otai from Tonga | 5 Global Recipes to dress up watermelon

Here’s anther drink – this time with texture – from Tonga in Oceania. Grated watermelon, coconut milk, and a tart squeeze of lime juice come together in this addictive Oceanic drink that’s more slushy than smoothie. Ironically, the slushy qualities are textural – there is no ice. Slurp your own today.

3. Watermelon Jam [Recipe]

 Watermelon Jam inspired by Turkmenistan | 5 Global Recipes to dress up watermelon

Central Asia loves watermelon so much, there are entire festivals devoted to the fruit. Even simple afternoon teas will include a bit of watermelon, sometimes in the form of jam as we learned when we cooked Turkmenistan. Making watermelon jam is surprisingly easy and a great way to capture the essence of summer for hostess gifts. Pop a jar open in the dead of winter and the room is bound to warm up. Let’s Jam.

4. Watermelon and feta [Recipe]

Jordanian snack | 5 Global Recipes to dress up watermelon

The salty/sweet combination of watermelon and feta might seem classic today, but there was a time that this was a purely “foreign” idea, inspired by the cuisine of the Middle East. We first experienced it whenever we cooked Jordan with the addition of pita bread… and were immediately hooked. Bite into the basics now.

5. Tizana [Recipe]

Tizana from Venezuela | 5 Global Recipes to dress up watermelon

Venezuelan fruit punch is incredible. Think fruit salad with the fresh flavor of orange juice and grenadine. Our superstar watermelon dances around in this soft pink drink with apples, grapes, banana, and pineapple… making every sip/bite a festival. No wonder Venezuelans keep some on hand in their refrigerators just about constantly! Create a punchbowl for your next party!

Photos: Square watermelon by laughlin from Tokyo, Japan. Truck of watermelons in Morocco by Makary.
egypt-birthday-party

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.

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!

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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

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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