All posts filed under: Oceania

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Grilled Mussels Dabbed with Barbecue Sauce

Someone help me, but up until a few days ago, I was not a lover of mussels. I blame those times when, as a little girl, we dug them out of the sand in Cape Cod and drove them in the summer heat all the way back to Boston.  The drive took over an hour and half.  I don’t think I need to tell you the rest. It’s a shame, really, because good mussels are sweet, mild, and tender… a bit of romance for your mouth. But we’re here to change perceptions, and I knew I had to give them another try. (we can’t move forward if we don’t keep trying and learning). So I grabbed a bag a the store, zipped home as fast as possible, and got to work. Funny thing? There really wasn’t a lot of work to do thanks to this Palauan trick of tossing them on the grill and brushing them with a dab of barbecue sauce. You need two simple things. 1. Barbecue Sauce I went with our Homemade Ginger …

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Ginger Peach Barbecue Sauce

Way out in the Pacific ocean sits a bumpy, bumbling little island country called Palau. From what I hear, the fine people (20,000 strong) slather barbecue sauce on just about anything. Fish. Chicken. Even mussels. Some say it’s the American influence on their cuisine, but I detect a nod to the rich gingery-garlic barbecue sauces of Asia as well. I immediately knew that I had to make homemade barbecue sauce to experience our Palauan Global Table to the fullest. And if I was going to take inspiration from anywhere for the sauce, it would have to be from one of my favorite food blogs, Joy the Baker. Joy recently made Bourbon Orange Coriander BBQ Sauce. Hello, there’ s bourbon in her sauce. As I went along, however, I realized I needed to make a few changes …. of the whimsical, I-can’t-leave-well-enough-alone variety.  For starters, I wanted to add peaches since I had a bunch to use up from the late summer’s harvest (oh… an Oklahoma peach is a divine thing indeed). Once there were peaches in the …

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Menu: Palau (with $150 Giveaway)

My door handle stopped working the other day. The one in my car that lets me get out. It just snapped off. Around the same time I inhaled a pill into my lungs. Yesterday the doctor told me I have aspiration pneumonia. All this has happened in the week that Keith’s been away on business. It’s a bit much. I’m hoping that’s it for now. Luckily I cooked all this food before the drama rolled in, so I have plenty of good eats for you… but Panama? Well, I might be in bed for most of that meal. And rather light on recipes. I hope you’ll forgive me. To make it up to you, this giveaway is extra epic (see after our yummy Palauan menu) All recipes and meal review will be posted throughout the week Grilled Mussels Dabbed with Barbecue Sauce [Recipe] One of the most elegant dishes to serve but so, so simple.  I had no idea. Fire up the grill, friends. We’re eatin’ island style.  Ginger Peach Barbecue Sauce [Recipe] A little …

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Jellyfish Lake. Photo by Anaxibia.

About the food of Palau

Let’s sink into the sea. Let’s swim with the jelly fish. Snorkel with me to Palau. From deep below her waters (where divers will find barrier reefs and wrecks from World War II), to the top of her lush forests, this island nation is a dream. From overhead she looks less like an island, and more like mossy bumps of land popping up from the ocean. A closer look reveals bridges snaking across these bumps and puffs of island, as well as stones carved out by the sea that, ironically, look like bridges themselves. Trees also overhang the turquoise waters – shading places with names like “Jellyfish lake.” The food is typical of the Pacific islands- you’ll find taro, pandan, and pumpkin. But there’s also an incredible love for Japanese food (especially sushi and sashimi). American food is everywhere. Barbecue sauce [Recipe] makes it’s way on everything from grilled chicken to mussels [Recipe]. To get a better picture, read these words from Emma Krasov of Art and Entertain Me, who traveled there: Palau absorbed culinary influences of Japan, …

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Monday Meal Review: New Zealand

THE SCENE Anthony Bourdain tumbles down a steep sandy embankment on the New Zealand shore, drug down by the weight of his four wheeler. His body twists and flops like a rag doll, swapping places with the four-wheeler in a death-defying dance. He finally manages to leap out of the way, narrowly escaping a bone crushing end by mere seconds.  As the scene replays in slow motion, I white knuckle the couch and hold my breath. One really bad word escapes my lips – consider it a foul-mouthed prayer for his safety – followed immediately by “thank goodness that’s not me.” Seriously. What a lucky, lucky man. I’ve toppled a motorcycle twice now – once during a track day and once on the street. I have zero interest in a GSXR 750 landing on me, let alone a four wheeler. But then I think about my reaction. That fleeting, knee-jerk thought: “Thank goodness that’s not me.” The show was filmed years earlier and half a world away, yet my desire for self-preservation kicks so hard, I find myself a little …

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Grilled Sweet Potato & Bacon Salad | Kumara

When I read that New Zealander’s love “kumara,” I wondered what this dreamy word could mean. When I found out kumara are simply a variety of New Zealand “sweet potatoes,” I was thrilled. Sweet potatoes are on my “will-eat-any-time-of-day-for-any-reason-especially-for-my-last-meal” food list. Not many foods make that cut. Today’s salad takes inspiration from New Zealand’s love of barbecue. For color I combined two kinds of sweet potatoes on the grill before tossing them with bacon, green onion, and a quick, zingy honey mustard dressing. This is grilled sweet potatoes, dressed up for a party in your mouth. P.S. Since I couldn’t get my hands on actual kumara, I used an orange fleshed sweet potato and a white fleshed sweet potato. This makes for a really pretty salad. If you do the same, be sure to watch the cooking times. Some varieties tend to cook quicker than others. P.P.S. New Zealander’s love grilled lamb, especially with rosemary. I’d highly recommend serving these kumara with our Grilled Greek-stye Lamb from back in the day. The lamb is seasoned with rosemary, …

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Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

Hokey Pokey, it would seem, is not just a toddler’s dance. Down Under, it’s a beautiful, fluffy, yet crispy piece of confectionery delight enjoyed from New Zealand to England.  Even Nigella Lawson loves a good nibble of this treat – straight out of a gift box, in the car – from time to time. Traditional recipes use golden syrup, but since I don’t have any of that, I used honey which gave the hokey pokey the most incredible,  buzz-worthy flavor and just about turned me into a honey bee. Friends at my writer’s group suggested it tastes somewhat like peanut brittle without the peanut. All the tiny air holes make it crunch like a wafer, though. In my reading, I found that many people have trouble making this sweet treat, even though there are only three ingredients. As with any candy making, a good candy thermometer is a great idea, although I double checked my reading by dropping the candy into a bowl of ice water and found that to be more reliable. You’ll see. P.S. You can crumble hokey …

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Pavlova with Summer Berries & Kiwifruit

Summertime means running barefoot through sprinklers, nibbling fresh fruit, and shining your smile all the time, even when you’re sleeping. It means laying your back, watching bubbles of clouds dot through the sky. And today we’re eating one such cloud. Pavlova. Named after a Russian ballet dancer, this meringue “cake” takes center stage, topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit, like berries, kiwifruit, mango, or even passionfruit. Both New Zealand and Australia lay claim to inventing this famous dessert. I’m happy to say that I’d eat Pavlova any which way – even if it was invented on the moon. Since we’re making Pavlova in honor of our New Zealander Global Table, we’ll be adding slices of fresh kiwifruit (be careful not to call it kiwi, as that is the state bird as well as a nickname for local New Zealanders). Kiwifruit is a major export of the island nation. P.S. Make this when you need it, to ensure a crackly exterior and soft interior. P.P.S. Make a big pot of hot tea to drink with this. Or coffee. Unsweetened. …

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Menu: New Zealand

Here are three food tips I learned from New Zealand, inspired by our thoroughly delicious Global Table. 1. All desserts are 100% better whipped up and inflated, whether done with air or chemical leavening. 2. Everything tastes better grilled. While I didn’t think sweet potatoes could rock my world much more, I was wrong. Grill ‘em. Just grill ‘em. 3.  Don’t say you’re going to eat a kiwi. A Kiwi is an endangered bird – the national chirper of New Zealand. Kiwi is also a nickname for the people of New Zealand. Say you’re going to eat kiwifruit instead. Much, much better and 99% less likely to land you in jail. Now for our menu… what sounds good to you? Grilled Sweet Potato & Bacon Salad | Kumara [Recipe] Thick, grilled slices of sweet potatoes tossed with green onion and bacon. Serve with a quick, zingy honey mustard dipper-dressing. On second thought, maybe this isn’t a salad. Maybe it’s just nummy potatoes with a few friends. Pavlova with Summer Berries & Kiwifruit [Recipe] A cloud of sweet …

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Beach at Punakaiki, New Zealand. Photo by Ville Miettinen.

About the food of New Zealand

With her long line of rugged, scraggly mountains, New Zealand looks like the backbone of the world. Perhaps this is why she was chosen as Middle Earth for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and continues to capture the imagination of people all over the world. If I were a hobbit New Zealand is definitely where I’d choose to live. Even if I were not a hobbit (which I’m not), I’d love to explore this beautiful land. Of course, I might have to wait a few months as it is winter Down Under right now and I’m rather enjoying my Oklahoman summer. Once you settle in, a long list of nummies await you, many of which are also beloved in Australia. The food is a combination of Pacific Rim (see map) and European, particularly British. For starters, there’s an incredible love of all things barbecue, whether it’s fresh seafood, lamb, burgers (don’t forget the pickled beets), or something as simple as grilled asparagus or sweet potatoes. There’s just one thing. They don’t call sweet potatoes “sweet potatoes.” Known instead …

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Monday Meal Review: Nauru

After a few minutes of rummaging through the kitchen, I find a plastic bottle in the refrigerator door, half full of water. The bottle is from Ava’s trip to the zoo a couple of weeks ago and is covered with tigers, zebras, and lions. Apparently, it’s the only bottle in the house. I remove the lid and slowly begin to fill it with iced coffee. For an odd, fleeting moment, I find myself wishing I had more plastic bottles laying around to use. I shake my head at the silliness. “What are you doing, mama?” Ava asks, standing on tiptoe to peer over the counter. Her head is now a good few inches above the counter, growing taller every day. “This is a grownup drink enjoyed in Nauru, made with coffee and milk,” I say, and offer her a tall glass of milk so she doesn’t feel left out. They drink their iced coffee out of old water bottles” I say. “It helps them make less trash.” Ava’s eyes gets big. “It’s good to use …

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Coconut Crusted Fish

I like to do what makes sense. And in Nauru fish is the natural meal, considering beautiful, fresh fish can be found just two steps outside of most people’s doors. People love to eat it any which way – particularly on the grill, deep fried and pan fried. Today we’re doing a crispy coconut crusted rockfish – a fish native to the Pacific waters as a nod to our Nauruan friends. This fish is light, flaky and has a wonderful mild flavor, rather like cod. After gentle panfrying, squeeze on fresh lime juice and welcome to happy town. Ava can show you how it’s done. She was… … a fan! Ingredients: 6 fillets of Pacific Rockfish, or other fish of choice salt & pepper For the breading: 1/2 cup breadcrumbs 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut 1 egg coconut oil, for pan frying (about 1/4 cup for an 1o inch pan) 1-2 limes, sliced Method: First, stir together soft mountains of breadcrumbs and snowy coconut. Next, whisk together an egg. Look at this pretty shell. This egg …

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