How to make Argentine Pumpkin Soup

Argentine Beef Stew in a Pumpkin | Carbonada en Zapallo

In 2011 a young Argentine man went viral in a 6-second video when he laughed about the cost of a burger at a soccer stadium. His exact words were: Con quince peso me hago alto guiso.pum For 15 pesos I could make quite the stew. To put this young man’s remarks in perspective, 15 Argentine pesos is just under $2 USD. It seems as though, relatively speaking, overpriced stadium food is a shared phenomenon – as common as rainy days and sunny dispositions. What is remarkable – and what made the young man’s comment go viral – is the assumption that good, homemade stew can be made for the cost of an overpriced burger. I looked into his logic: here in the USA an overpriced stadium burger in Silicon Valley goes for $12. Surely, I could make a soup for less than $12, even shopping at costly American grocery stores. Testing the theory… Curious (and inspired), I began looking into Argentine stews – sending me down a delicious rabbit hole of beef and root veggie based bowls. I finally emerged …

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Recipe for Colombian Steak & Eggs | Bistec a Caballo

Colombian Steak & Eggs | Bistec a caballo

Bistec a caballo is the kind of hearty, Colombian chow that will feed a child with a full grown appetite – and grow the appetite of an aged person. The seasoned steak and eggs are as easily gobbled up by children on the back porch (barefoot from playing in the creek, their minds already on the next adventure), as they are sliced up during a late summer dinner party (complete with twinkling candles, and bottles of Cerveza Ancla – a popular Colombian brew). Feeding children’s imagination Though I had an overactive imagination as a child, I was never much good at certain types of pretend. I specifically remember trying to make myself have an imaginary friend because all the other kids had one. I drug a rope around as a leash for two pitiful minutes before I gave up. Even though I couldn’t conjure up characters, going on adventures in character was one of my favorite pastimes. My brother Michael and I ran the neighborhood as any number of characters. Often he was the Lone Ranger and I was Tonto …

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

Sometimes I want it all: A clean house and a lazy weekend. A good night’s sleep and a Doctor Who marathon. Salad and pizza. Mexican and Italian food. I might not be able to balance out the former two, but as for the latter? Yes and yes.  The biggest tortilla in town. Tlayuda is Mexico’s answer to pizza. But don’t expect tomato sauce and basil leaves. This popular Oaxacan street food is made on an enormous tortilla and spread thickly with black beans (Take note: these aren’t ordinary black beans – they’ve been blended with a heaping of roasted garlic and onion, cumin, and chile powder). Purists will spread the tortilla with lard, too – though I prefer a light brush of vegetable oil. Finally, cheese is sprinkled on top, as is your choice of meat (beef, pork, or browned chorizo) and a garden’s-worth of toppings (think avocado, tomato, cheese, cilantro, lettuce, and jalepenos). It can be served open-faced or folded in half. When the first hot bite passes your lips, be prepared for a flavor explosion –  especially when you add a puckering of freshly …

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DIY Fresh Spring Rolls | Bò nhúng dấm

Today, let me show you how Vietnamese food is like a dream. Delicate. Lingering. But, also, let me show you how their food is like a celebration. Bold. Unapologetic. Before I do, call your friends and family because today’s recipe is a Vietnamese food party. The star? The DIY Fresh Spring Roll. Here’s how it works: Every guest gets to pick and choose their fillings, from cucumber and sprouts, to vibrant mint, thai basil, and cilantro. The best part? Everyone gets to cook their meat at the table in a vinegar and lemongrass broth. You can do this in a crock pot, a fondue pot, or, if you don’t have any of these, simply cook the beef in the kitchen right before dinner. Think of Bò nhúng dấm as Vietnamese fondu… also known as hot pot. Some like to cook shrimp, others beef or pork. I’ve even heard of people cooking squid in the broth. The bets part about this recipe is that the ingredients can be prepped and gathered way ahead of your guests ringing …

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Cousin Alfred’s Meat Sauce

When I ask my mother how I’m related to Cousin Alfred, the answer usually goes: “Well…” and then there’s a  contemplative silence. I can see her running through all our different relations, high up on the family tree, doing mental gymnastics to connect one branch to another. Eventually, she comes out with “I think he’s my mothers, mother’s cousin’s”… and then, either she trails off, or my attention span wanes because, really, all that matters is that he is family, one way or another. Alfred lived until he was 104 years old. I think much of his long life was due to making homemade ravioli and meat sauce. He taught me when I was about Ava’s age, or maybe a little younger. We made his spinach & pork ravioli for Italy and, today, we continue to keep Alfred’s memory alive with this sauce. Mom made sure to write down his recipe for meat sauce. But the title “meat sauce” doesn’t do it justice. This is meat sauce, yes, but it’s also filled with a half dozen …

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Harvest Stew | Dimlama

If it were up to me, every gardener would know about Dimlama, the Uzbek one-pot answer to harvest-time (no canning required). While every Uzbek family makes it a little differently, potatoes, carrots, peppers, and tomatoes are standard fare, as is a hearty sprinkling of whole cumin seeds. The key to dimlama rests in the layering. First of all, lamb is browned, then onions are added in the mix. One they submit to browning, the remaining vegetables are layered (and, once they’re added, you never stir the pot!). The final layer is always cabbage, which helps seal in the moisture. When the vegetables release their juices, they drip down to the bottom of the pan and deglaze all those nummy browned bits. The result? A luscious brown gravy worthy of being sopped up by a nice piece of Central Asian Yogurt Naan. Serves 6 Ingredients: 1/2-1 lb cubed lamb or beef 1 large onion, sliced in quarter moons 5 small yellow potatoes cut in half 2-3 large carrots, peeled & sliced 2 red peppers, sliced in strips 2 …

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Uruguayan Hot Dog | Pancho

Yes, that’s corn on a hot dog. Listen, friends: if  you’re going to have a hot dog, you might as well have a Uruguayan one. Sure, it might just cost a buck or two, but… They’re amazing. Dramatic. Game changers. If this seems like a lot of responsibility for a hot dog, that’s because it is. The pancho’s success is not so much about the meat, though it’s true:  the “dog” is usually bigger and better than your average hot dog (it sticks out a good inch or two on either side of the bun). But when it comes down to it, the pancho is all about the toppings. At many pancho stands, you’ll find some combination of corn, melted cheese, relish, salsa, and especially “salsa golf,” which is a blend of mayo and ketchup.   You can eyeball the salsa golf: aim for half of each… and it’ll be pale pink. There’s not much of a recipe…. simply grill a batch of extra-long hot dogs, provide a small bowl of each topping, and let your guests …

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Barbecued Ribs

I’ve heard that finger-lickin’ is not allowed in finer circles. Rumor has it, you should only order foods that are easy to eat during business dinners. No spaghetti, no lobster, and definitely no ribs. The same goes for when you meet your in-laws for the first time. Is this true? I don’t know. But I do know that, when you find yourself face to face with a rack of ribs, you aren’t getting away from them without a little finger lickin.’ Barbecued pork ribs can be made any number of ways, depending on the part of the USA you’re emulating. Some ribs are prepared as wet BBQ, meaning they are brushed with barbecue sauce throughout the cooking process, while others use a simple dry rub of assorted spices, as is popular in Memphis barbecue. Even though I’m American, I really don’t have much experience cooking ribs, so I looked at The Best Recipe by Chris Kimball for inspiration. He suggested going with a dry rub, then brushing BBQ sauce over them at the end.  I played around with …

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Rosemary & Lemon Harissa Kebabs

Summer still catwalks through the August air, unabashed and sizzling. There’s still time to grill, still time to sit out under the stars without a coat, or even a hoodie. There’s time to wear out those flipflops and kick back in sunglasses. And there’s still time to try Uganda’s kebabs, adapted  from Marcus Samuelsson’s beautiful cookbook Discovery Of A Continent – Foods, Flavors, And Inspirations From Africa.  The flavors are intense. Bright lemon juice starts of the explosion. A long marinade brings out bright sparks from the citrus. Then there’s a needling burn from the Harissa, a traditional spice often found in North African cooking. How much heat is there? As much as you can handle. Or as little as you’d like. Tip: You find Harissa mix at Whole Foods in the spice aisle (to be combined with water, olive oil, and crushed garlic), or you can buy a canned paste at a Middle Eastern market. Be sure to add this to taste, as some mixes may be spicier than others. IF you use the …

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Turkish Flatbread “Pizza” with Spiced Lamb | Lahmacun

Lahmacun is Turkey’s answer to pizza. The flavors are rich and deep, like an old love story. And, like any good love story, each bite makes my knees sink a little closer to the floor. Why? Because of the layers of flavor. This is no “jarred sauce” affair. This is no mess of waxy cheese. Lahmacun is pure, unadulterated ingredients – as fresh and intense as mother nature grew them. The version we made today includes lamb, olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, tomato paste, paprika, mint and parsley. There’s even a gated onion to provide a sweet background note. The flavors come together to create an unbelievable explosion of flavor. Once baked, Lahmacun is a DIY dream. Diners choose their own toppings and pile them on.  In Turkey, you can find everything from pickles and lettuce, to onions and lemon juice. It’s an awesome way to get kids involved and to work through dinner party doldrums. Ava had great fun adding onion, parsley and lemon juice to hers… plus a few sprinklings of sumac (a spice with a …

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Lamb Plov with Dried Apricots & Raisins

I’m an awkward girl; I’m not up on fashion trends, my slang is two decades passe, and I’d rather drink wine at home than be surrounded by 100 people I don’t know. Dinner parties can really put me to the test, especially when I’m the hostess. I want everyone to have a good time, but I’m never entirely sure how to bring everyone together. That’s where Tajikistan can help. You know that moment, right as everyone sits down to eat? I refer to it as the calm before the storm. It’s a little bit awkward; there’s a pause while everyone gauges the mood of the room. What follows this quiet determines the success of every dinner party. In Tajikistan, where there’s a crowd, there’s Plov. Pulling up to a giant communal platter of rice brings a natural closeness.  By forcing yourself to dip hands into a communal platter breaks down any barriers and is a natural conversation starter. If your guests are unfamiliar with communal eating, the best thing to do is to give them …

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Syrian Lamb kebabs with Sour Cherries | Kebab Karaz

I can almost hear it; the hiss and sizzle of grills waking up from their long winter naps. It’s warm in Oklahoma and we’re ready to move our kitchen outside, into the sparkling sun. Today’s inspiration comes from Syria and the pucker of sour cherries, which will be in season sometime in the next few weeks, depending where in the world you live. Syrian Lamb Kebabs with Cherries can be made two different ways. The first is easy – you string up the meat along with the sour cherries. The second involves creating a gravy of sorts with the sour cherries and serving the whole shebang on a platter over pita bread. The latter is more of a winter dish, so we’re going all summer, all the way. The distinctive seasoning in these kebabs is baharat (we’ll have that recipe posted very soon), but if you don’t have time to make any, add some pepper, allspice, and cinnamon, plus a pinch of clove and nutmeg  to this recipe and you’ll be good to go. Makes …

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