All posts filed under: North America

Cheesy Roasted Poblanos | Rajas con Crema

Listen. Not everything has to look perfect. We don’t always need lipstick and hair straighteners (In fact, I haven’t seen either of those since Ava started crawling). Some days I don’t even look in a mirror until night time. Until it’s too late. Let yourself off the hook once in a while. Let your hair down. Smear your lips with chapstick and call it good. While you’re at it, eat messy food. Because, no matter how it looks, if it tastes good, then all is well in your world. Which brings us to Rajas con Crema… There’s nothing like two weeks of 90 degree weather in March to make me want to fire up the grill.  Thankfully, Rajas con Crema gave me good reason to do so. While not exactly a princess on the plate, this messy looking dish is simply strips of roasted poblano cooked with onion, cheese, and Mexican cream. Some people like to add bits of roasted corn as well. Talk about addicting. What to do with Rajas con Crema: Mexicans enjoy this for …

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Strawberry Almond Horchata

There should be a rule. Whenever the weather is sunny and fine, when it is hot enough to swim in the deep seas – you should absolutely swim. Even if you forgot your bathing suit. Likewise, if you are ever offered horchata – the famous Mexican summertime sipper – consider yourself lucky and drink, drink, drink. The freedom of swimming, no matter what – that’s what I taste in this drink. This is a summer’s worth of happy – chilled and served with a straw. You’ll taste almond and rice milk. Your smile will be made of strawberries, deepened by a dusting of cinnamon and splash of vanilla. This is fresh, summer joy. This is laugh out loud good. Ingredients: 1 cup of long grain white rice, ground fine in spice mill 1 cup of blanched almonds 1 large cinnamon stick (4″) 3 cups of hot water 1/4- 3/4 cup of sugar, as desired 3 cups whole milk 1 Tbsp vanilla extract Garnish: Strawberries shaved ice Method: Even if you see clouds, close your eyes …

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5 Step Mole Poblano

I’ll be honest. On the onset, learning how to make Mole Poblano sounded a lot like learning how to knit a wedding dress. Outrageously epic, but not entirely something I had the skills for. In case you’ve never heard of it, we’re talking a Mexican recipe from Puebla that has a million, gazillion ingredients (ok, really just about two dozen), many cooking phases, and centuries of history behind it. Yikes. After staring at dozens of recipes, drinking several cups of tea, and more than a little sleep lost, I broke mole poblano down into 5 basic steps. Deep sigh. Smile. This feels better. Five steps are manageable. So, my goal today, is to make you Mole happy. To encourage you to give it a try. Because if you do, you’ll be in Mexico with every bite. NOTE: This Mole Poblano is vegan, although you can serve it on whatever you’d like – veggies, meats, etc. Traditionally it is served with turkey and made with turkey stock. Makes 6-7 cups Ingredients: These ingredients get toasted: 1 Tbsp …

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Menu: Mexico

After letting you all decide our fate for this week’s Global Table in polls, I am happy to present the menu – your menu. Each item won lovingly – with no close seconds. These are nibbles for rainy days, sunny days, and everything in between. You’ll use your grill and your blender. You’ll open wide and you’ll dance on the roof. Well, maybe not on the last item… but you should. When was the last time you danced like a cat on a hot tin roof? Are you ready for Mexico? Rajas con Crema [Recipe] Just when you thought you’d run out of ideas for peppers, comes this Mexican favorite. Often eaten for breakfast, Rajas con Crema is a simple but incredible mixture of char-grilled poblano peppers, ooey gooey cheese, and Mexican crema. 5 Step Mole Poblano [Recipe]  This is authentic mole – including the chocolate and 5 million other ingredients – but simplified into five easy-to-remember steps. Strawberry Almond Horchata [Recipe] Cool off with this creamy drink made with rice, almond, and regular milks, cinnamon, vanilla extract and …

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About the food of Mexico

My first time to Mexico was all “rainbows and puppy dogs.” In fact, the only reason I got to go was because a co-worker broke up with his girlfriend and his two free tickets were simply passed down the line to me. A totally free vacation! In all my 27 years I had never won anything like this. The scene was set for perfection. There was just one catch: I found out on a Tuesday. The flight took off on a Thursday. There wasn’t much time to plan. Keith (a.k.a. Mr Picky) – who had been my boyfriend of a just a few months – would be my companion. He had never left the country. He didn’t even have a passport. Thankfully, this was in the days before passports were required to enter Mexico. He simply had to track down his birth certificate. This first trip to Mexico would be his initiation (at age 36) into the world “out there,” beyond the border. Let’s just say I’d be watching for signs of an open mind …

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Monday Meal Review: Jamaica

THE SCENE: My lips started off with a low-grade tingle and then flared up into a fire engine burn. Careful not to touch the jerk seasoning again, I put the lid back on the blender. “So that’s what three habeneros taste like.” I said to the faded photo of my Great Aunt, Lulla Rina. She smiled back at me, as she had for decades. She was holding my brother Damien – a chubby baby boy – in her soft, grandmotherly arms. He’d be 33 if he were alive today. And he’d probably love habeneros. I silently promised him I’d be brave. I’d eat my share. I’ve lived longer without Damien than with him, yet he remains one of the most important, influential people in my world. Life’s funny that way. We remember the shooting stars so vividly, even when the sky is full of trillions of other stars. Looking back at the mixture, I considered suiting up with gloves, goggles, and a clothespin to pinch my nose shut. I settled on just the gloves. As …

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Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Serves 4 There’s no way around it. Jerk chicken is supposed to be blacker than a starry night – and more sizzlin’ than that smokin’ hot hotty you wake up to every morning (Hi, Keith!). Typically cooked in a barrel smoker, Jerk gets it’s distinctive flavor and color from low, slow cooking over smouldering all spice wood. The long cooking time gets the jerk seasoning extremely caramelized. Now, for those of you who want to go all out, you can easily get your meat much darker than mine (and spicier), by basting the chicken with extra jerk seasoning as it cooks. I had a toddler to feed, so I kept it a little lighter. Ingredients: 1/2-1 recipe Jerk Seasoning 4 lbs chicken legs and wings, or other dark meat For smoking: 1/2 cup whole allspice hickory wood chips, as needed OR Allspice wood chips, as needed Method: So exactly how black is Jerk chicken supposed to be? Blacker than Jamaica’s Black River. (and tastier, too) To get the most flavor, marinate the chicken pieces for …

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Jamaican Jerk Seasoning

Makes about 3 cups Are you in need of a lil’ pep in your step? Do you want to go beyond your comfort zone? Would you like to make your taste buds burn with the fire of Jamaican delight? I am. I do. I would. Also, a friend’s birthday is coming up, and she loves spicy food. In a pretty bottle, with a cute recipe card, jerk seasoning makes quite the fabulous gift. So, join me friends. Let’s go on a stovetop journey to the clear waters of Jamaica, where we can heat things up for ourselves and a friend or two. Ingredients: Liquid: 1/4 cup soy sauce 1/2 cup orange juice Produce: 3 habenerno (scotch bonnet) peppers 1 green bell pepper 4 green onions 1 onion 4 cloves garlic 1 hunk ginger – about 1 inch, peeled and cut 5 sprigs fresh thyme – leaves stripped from the stem 3 fresh basil leaves 3 sprigs parsley leaves Spices: 1 Tbsp whole allspice 1 Tbsp cinnamon 1 Tbsp nutmeg 1 Tbsp black pepper 1 Tbsp salt Method: …

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Jamaican Sorrel Drink

Makes at least 1 1/2 quarts (more, depending on how much you dilute it) August has drug on too long. I know because the mosquitoes have given up for the summer. Not a one can be found. They’ve been cooked off. I’ve been shriveling up, too. Thankfully a few of our readers suggested I try sorrel, Jamaica’s perky, often spiked answer to iced tea, typically served at Christmastime. Sorrel is better than pouring a bucket of ice down your back. And it’s (literally) cooler than mulled wine (although I like that too). Imagine: It’s December. The sun has her cheery face on. The tin roofs are hot. Cats hide in the shade while people sip sorrel in flip flops. Christmastime in Jamaica. Prime Sorrel drinkin’ time.  I love it! Now, let’s get clear on terminology… (UPDATE: Please check the comments  – I seem to have this mixed up a bit…) Sorrel is the Jamaican word for hibiscus, a flower which grows abundantly on the island. Even though this drink is served on ice, sorrel retains the flavors of …

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Jamaican Escovitch Fish

Makes enough Escovitch topping for 2-3 meals. I’ve long adored the British tradition of dousing Fish and Chips with vinegar. In fact, I like to add enough vinegar for my fish to swim in. Sure, Keith won’t kiss me for days afterwards, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Well, this week I learned about Jamaican Escovitch, based on Spanish  Escabéche. Escovitch is like taking your fried fish on a trip to vinegar city, on a vinegar boat, through vinegar nation At it’s most basic, Jamaicans briefly cook fresh veggies in spiced vinegar, pile them on top of fried fish, and ladle extra vinegar sauce over the top. The veggies retain some crunch while also making the mouth pucker up. Big time. Oh, and there’s a little burn, too, thanks to hot chili peppers. What’s not to love? Ingredients: 1 bell pepper, sliced in rings hot pepper, sliced in rings (jalepeno, habenero, etc) – to taste 1 onion, sliced in half moons 1 large carrot, sliced in matchsticks 1 chayote, seeded and …

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Menu: Jamaica

“Me only have one ambition, y’know. I only have one thing I really like to see happen. I like to see mankind live together – black, white, Chinese, everyone – that’s all.”  Bob Marley I’m with Bob on this one. I’d just like to add one thing – my vision also includes kittens, rainbows, and puppy dogs. And grouchy turtles. They’re important, too. As I’ve said before, we can’t create peace alone -we have to set a Global Table and invite everyone to dinner. And we’ll need a few animals to pick up the scraps. So, with this spirit of peace and friendship, let’s eat Jamaica! What sounds good to you? Jerk Chicken  [Recipe] Spicy chicken, smoked slowly until tender and perfumed with the floral aroma of all spice. Jerk Seasoning [Recipe] With a quick buzz-whir of the blender, and you have jerk seasoning – made with fresh produce, rich spices, and loads of love. Perfect marinade for chicken, pork, and fish.  Jamaican Escovitch Fish [Recipe] Wake up like a Jamaican -with the tangy, briny blast of Escovitch. …

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Sunset on 7 Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica. Photo by Chaoleonard.

About the food of Jamaica

Seems like everyone I know has been to Jamaica – usually, for a wedding, their honeymoon, or spring break. Or a scary combination of all three. (I shudder to think). While many visitors stick to strolling the soft sands and wading in the clear waters, some seek out other adventures, like ecological river tours, climbing sheer waterfalls, and exploring local museums. While all this sounds fantastic, my stove top Adventure is clear. You see, back when I made the Caribbean Green Seasoning for Guyana, I totally wimped out on the amount of habeneros required. I used 1/4 of a whole habenero, when the recipe called for 6 habeneros. Six. That means I used 1/24th  of the recommended heat. Laughable. Thankfully, my friendly readers from Jamaica told me I could redeem myself this week. So, with that in mind, I did some research. Turns out Jamaicans sure do love spicy food. The people are mostly of African descent, but also European, Chinese, and Indian. They eat everything from curries, to puddings, and from stir fried, to deep fried. Still, no …

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