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Hot & Sour Dipping Sauce | Nước mắm pha

Nước mắm pha is the quintessential Vietnamese dipping sauce, used on spring rolls, rice noodles, salads, and more. It’s sweet, salty, and heavily spiced. A basic recipe includes freshly squeeze lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and water. The real flavor comes from garlic and fresh red chilies. I learned on Food Safari (a great food/travel show – catch it if you can!) that if the cook can get the garlic and chili pieces to float in the nước mắm pha, they will get married. Now, for those of you naysayers: there’s no reason to tell anyone about the fish sauce. I promise. Many unwitting folk enjoy this dipping sauce without being aware there is fish sauce inside. That’s because it lends a salty flavor to the dip, not an inordinately pungent one. There is one exception: if you make it with “first press,” “extra virgin” fish sauce, as I did this week. The flavor, much like olive oil of the same name, is quite a bit bolder in flavor. Even my own Mr Picky, who has tastebuds of …

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Syrian Lentils

There’s a whole head of garlic up in these cyber pages. By now you should be able to smell it through the screen. I know. You have boys to kiss. Important business meetings and no Altoids. You don’t have time to smell like garlic. But indulge me for a moment, please. We’ve eaten a whole head of garlic on this Adventure before, as with our Lebanese garlic sauce Toum, but this time our garlic is making friends with lentils and Swiss chard. They bubble and steam up together, considerably mellowing out the flavor. To round out the flavor, there’s a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a splash of pomegranate syrup, and a pile of cilantro. (To my cilantro haters: don’t worry, the offending leaves get waaay cooked down. If you can eat Salsa, you can eat these lentils). The result is a lovely warm lentil side dish or dip (best enjoyed with homemade pita bread). I even like it cold, with salad. And it’s definitely better the next day, although you might want to “refresh …

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Swiss Fondue

If I had to face life or death, I’d choose Swiss Fondue. Every. Single. Time. This decision is purely based on personal experience. A) I know that life gets better whenever I dunk hunks of rustic bread into ooey-gooey cheese. To support my case, I must call attention to a fictional character: Heidi (does this help me or hurt me?). She knows all things are better with melted cheese because, apparently, this is the only thing she eats at her grandfather’s house, on the flower dotted Alps… and she is happier there than anywhere else in the world B) If I’m faced with death, I’m willing to bet that, if I crack open a pot of fondue, Mr. Death would certainly realize they are no match for boozy cheese. I’d like to think that, as he slunk away, I’d toss him a cube of cheesy bread for the road. A peace offering of sorts. Two days ago I wrote about my near death experience in the Swiss Alps and how Fondue is one of the few comfort …

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Lemon & Garlic Piri Piri

Welcome to golden, fire-breathing sunshine. This is piri piri, a famous hot sauce in Africa which has hundreds (thousands!) of variations. Today’s rendition comes from Mozambique, where bright lemon juice meets smooth olive oil, tiny hot peppers, and a healthy scoop of red pepper flakes. Piri Piri has her roots in Portuguese culture, whose influence is still felt today in Mozambique. Keep in mind that you can make piri piri by mincing a mountain of hot peppers, if you’re brave. In that case you might not even need the red pepper flakes. It’s all about what you feel like. The more peppers, the thicker the sauce, which can be nice (and is, in many ways, more traditional). For today, however, I simply wanted to make a hot sauce that would be edible for my rather mild-eating family, including my toddler … who, I might add, wasn’t nearly as scared of it as I expected. Which is amazing, considering the face I made when I gave it to her. Makes 1/4 cup Ingredients: 1 lemon, juiced (2Tbsp) 2 …

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Roasted Pepper Spread | Ajvar

Some days I dream about reinventing myself – pulling myself up, out of the ordinary into the wildly wonderful. On these ornery-sorts-of-days, I imagine myself strutting around in a bold color I’ve never worn before, like mustard yellow. On really good days I actually make these dreams happen. I become a mustard-wearing queen. Other days I just end up wearing mustard. Literally. That’s the way life goes: sometimes change works, sometimes it doesn’t. The fun is in the trying. Are you willing to reinvent yourself – even just a little? What about your eating habits? Today, in the spirit of trying something new, we’re going to reinvent our ketchup eating habits. Here’s how it’s going to work: instead of slathering our food with globs and globs of ketchup, we’re going to be bold, sassy, and totally Balkan. We’re going to slather it in Ajvar. Ajvar is a pepper spread popular all over the Balkans. Typically made with fresh, roasted paprika peppers and (sometimes) eggplant, the bright garden flavor goes great with all manner of meat, especially burgers. The versatile …

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Cognac n’ Herb Tapenade

Introducing the black diamond of Monaco: Tapenade. She glitters in the night. She belies the briny bite of the absolutely fabulous. But here’s the thing. She’s also, not so secretly, rustic. This dip and crostini topper has its origins in the grassy hills of Provence. Love for this treat spills over into Monaco and parts of Italy. While many people pulverize their blend to a paste (with a mortar and pestle or even a food processor), I prefer a rustic, coarse mixture. I like seeing the capers and slices of olives. I like seeing bits of herbs. So all I do is run my knife through the ingredients a few times. The choice is yours but, either way, this mixture tastes grand – dressed up with cognac, capers, and a sprinkling of rosemary and thyme. Serve at the beginning of your next garden party, on crusty, toasted baguette, spread on crackers, with cheese as an hors d’ouvre. And be sure to raise a glass to Provence and even sunny Monaco. Ingredients: 1/4 cup capers 2-4 anchovy …

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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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Dipping sauce with Chippies | Tsabola

Today’s fun recipe is a 5 minute African salsa.  You’ll need two accessories to make this snack completely Malawi, however: blue pastic bags and your most favorite potato wedges. Here’s how it works: simply chop up onions, tomatoes, hot peri peri peppers (I used Thai bird chilies). Mix it all around with loads of salt. While I normally go light on the salt, you need to use a heavy hand when making Tsabola … as Brittany (Be-ing Brittany), a Community Health Advisor in Malawi, tells me “Malawians eat a lot of salt to help stay hydrated with little water.” Traditionally Malawians eat Tsabola with Chippies (deep fried potato wedges), but I decided to go healthy and baked my “chippies” (just with a bag of frozen potato wedges). The choice is yours. For extra fun, epic bonus points, be sure to serve the “Chippies” out of blue plastic bags. That’s the tradition, Brittany tells me. A very pretty tradition, if you ask me. Happy Friday! 12345 Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: Rate this recipe! Print Recipe Traditionally …

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Baba Ghanoush with Roasted Garlic

When I’m at parties I like to dip, dip, dip. You’ll recognize me immediately – I’m the one in the corner, filling up on dip before the meal ever comes. And if, for some reason, I’m not? Just know that’s where I really want to be. When it comes to dips, baba ganoush is everything I never thought it would be.  Roasted eggplant, far from bitter, transforms into a smoky and smooth treat , able to fill my belly in just the right sort of way – without that greasy, pop-out-my-bellybutton feeling some foods leave me with. In fact, baba ganoush strikes me as one of those diet foods that is actually as comforting and every bit as delicious as French fries. But I’m crazy like that. Baba Ghanoush has long been in my top favorite dips. While Baba Ghanoush is traditionally made with raw garlic, something about the chill in the air made me decide to roast a whole head of garlic for the soft, warm richness. You can never go wrong eating a …

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Laotian Salsa | Jeow

It took me a few tries to figure out what Jeow means. Turns out Jeow is a lot of things, but mainly any sort of dipping sauce, typically made with char-grilled veggies. Sometimes spicy. Sometimes not. Always delicious. It could be vegetarian or it could be made with crushed beetles.  Or anything in between. I’ll skip to the chase: my version is beetle free. Phew. And it’s also really easy. Recipe for a Simple Jeow 3 tomatoes 3 Thai bird chilies 1 head garlic pinch of cilantro And, if you’re not vegan, add several shakes of fish sauce. Method: Roast tomatoes, chilies, and garlic over a campfire, on a grill, in a comal  (flat pan available at Latino markets) over medium heat or in the oven until blackened and soft. Be sure to continually turn the garlic so it cooks evenly. Peel and puree  with cilantro, fish sauce and salt. That’s it! Enjoy… 12345 Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: Rate this recipe! Print Recipe Turns out Jeow is a lot of things, but mainly any …

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Minty Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

Minty Garlicky Yogurt is an oddball recipe. An oxymoron. Personally I love loads of garlic. I don’t mind dragon breath. I don’t mind scaring away the cat. So, I suppose Minty Garlicky yogurt sauce is good for people with garlic regret. As you eat it, the garlic infuses your breath but then – woops – the mint comes along for the ride, sweetening things up in the background. Of course, you’ll probably still need to brush your teeth after eating this dip. You’ll find similar recipes all over north Africa, central Asia and beyond. The nomadic peoples of Kyrgyzstan have no shortage of dairy, thanks to their herding lifestyle. To keep things interesting they blend yogurt with either mint or cilantro and plenty of fresh garlic. The secret is to let this mixture sit overnight or the garlic will be much too harsh. And a fun fact I ran across in my reading – nomads dig holes in the cool earth for refrigeration: The nomads always set up their yurts near streams, brooks, rivers and lakes …

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Kuwaiti PB&J | Dibis-W’rashi

Great things happen when I shut my eyes. Dreams. Day dreams. First kisses. Second kisses. Laughter. But sometimes I don’t even want to blink for fear of missing out on the tiniest bit of excitement. In a split second, bolts of lightening can streak across the sky. Fireworks can transforming into a bouquet of roses and then dissolve. Just one look can tell you everything you need to know, as long as you don’t miss it. Well. Today I’m here to tell you not to blink. We’re at the Kuwaiti Global Table and you’re about to experience Kuwaiti’s answer to the almighty PB&J. But it’s all going to happen very quickly. So. Please. Don’t. Blink. First things first, PB&J is an analogy. It’s really a dip and it’s called Dibis wa’ Rashi. Remove the peanut butter and replace it with sesame butter (a.k.a. tahini). Then remove the jelly and replace it with date syrup – a sweet, black bit of heaven full of potassium and more healthy goods than Mr. Jelly knows what to do with (sorry Mr. Jelly). …

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