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Feast of the 7 Fishes | Linguine with Baccalà Sauce

A lump of salt cod (baccalà) just might be everything. To use the tough, leathery fillet – more hide than flesh – the cod must first be soaked in fresh clean water. Gradually the salt leaks into the water and clouds it. A change of water, then more salt comes out. Several more water changes. A couple of days go by. The cod becomes soft. Mild. Tender. Italians know: these steps cannot be skipped or the meal will be ruined. I find myself sifting around for meaning this year. Did you notice that Christmas came with Halloween and Thanksgiving was just a speed bump on the road to black Friday (which actually began before the dishes were done or the meal had settled)?  With all the fuss happening earlier and earlier in the year, the excitement of Christmas feels dilute. But as I sit with this idea, restless in my desire to make the holidays special, I realize dilution – as with salt cod – can be a benefit. As the holiday season leeches into the stores earlier, becoming increasingly consumer-based, it …

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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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Arroz con Pollo

Pneumonia make cause my heart to race, my nerves to slacken, and my breathing to rasp, but it will never stop me from making my sweetheart his birthday dinner. To celebrate in style, I cobbled together the most unexpectedly glorious arroz con pollo. Unexpected, because I honestly wondered how great could chicken and rice be? Fantastic, turns out. Put your trust in centuries of Latin American and Spanish history; the next time you have a big dinner party, make arroz con pollo. Under a gracious layer of 100% love, you’ll find a one-pot chicken and rice dish which delights in bright bursts of briny olives and capers, blushing rice (thanks to a sprinkling of ruddy ground annato and a whole lot of chopped tomatoes), and a flurry of vivid green cilantro. Arroz con Pollo is traditionally made in a giant pan – something like a paella pan which can go gracefully from oven to table – although a Dutch oven would work nicely in a pinch. I used that $20 pan I got at the Indian …

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Grilled Kofta with Zucchini Sauce

This week we dove into a summery garden spread from Oman. Kofta are grilled hand-formed sausages enjoyed in Oman and neighboring countries. In fact, versions of kofta are enjoyed as far east as India (although these are typically served in meatball form). These Omani kofta sizzle with earthy cumin, warm flutterings of cinnamon, and are rounded out by coriander seed, fresh parsley and cilantro. The sauce – entirely vegan, by the way – is loaded up with fresh zucchini, garlic, parlsey and such a little sprinkle of mint, noone will know what your secret ingredient is. You can make it as spicy as you’d like with red pepper flakes (or go wild with cayenne, if you must). P.S. This sauce would be great for a variation on our vegetarian Shakshouka that we made back with Israel. Shakshouka is also enjoyed in Oman. Recipe adapted from Laura Kelley at Silk Road Gourmet, where she journies through the cuisines, histories and cultures of the more than thirty countries that traded goods along that great lifeline of the ancient world. Ingredients: For …

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Black eyed peas in red sauce | Red Red

Serves 4-6 Have you always wanted to dye your hair red, but have never had the courage? Do the next best thing – cozy up to a bowl of west-African “Red Red.” Ginger people look dull in comparison to this electric one pot wonder. The bright red color comes from the addition of shockingly excessive amounts of red palm oil – up to one cup for three cups of beans in some recipes. Traditional recipes include so much oil that a red ring forms around the base of the beans. I’ve been fairly modest with my addition for health reasons and because I find the flavor of red palm oil quite strong. Play around with it – start with 1/8 cup, and add more at the end of cooking until you like the taste. Ingredients: 1/4 cup red palm oil (or more to taste) 1 small onion, chopped 1 poblano, chopped (or your favorite hot pepper) 5 cloves garlic, sliced or crushed 1 tsp curry powder 2 15 oz cans black eyed peas , drained 1 …

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Eritrean Lentil Stew | Wat

Serves 4 Let’s thank Eritrea for this giant, vegan bowl of deliciousness – a happy mixture of spicy lentils, offset by sweet carrots and tomatoes. The heat comes from berberé, the regional spice blend that should be added with a heavy hand. You know, for authenticity purposes. And lots of sweating. Edited to add: One of our readers posted a great tip in the comments section of our Ethiopian menu which also applies to Eritrean cooking: When I watch Ethiopian cooks in Ethiopia they chop up red onion very tiny (I use a food processor and stop short of pulverizing as it helps it cook down faster) and then dry cook it in the pan — no oil. They dry cook it stirring constantly until it turns almost into a paste — imagine the consistency of a good roux. It takes a lot of onion to get the right amount of this paste. Then add the oil/lentils, sauce stuff, etc. The onion paste is actually the thickener for the wat — if you don’t do …

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Skoudehkaris

Serves 4 Suffering from 1 digit weather? Ice, snow, and rain? What about sleet? Let’s warm things up with Skoudehkaris. Known as the national dish of Djibouti, this heavy stew is a spicy, comforting treat. The bonus? It’ll make your house smell amazing. Ingredients: 1 lb lamb, cubed 1 onion, chopped 1-2 Tbsp ghee or vegetable oil 1 tsp cumin 1/4 tsp cloves 1 tsp cardamom 1/4 tsp cayenne (or to taste) 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes 1 cup water, plus extra as needed 1/2 cup long-grain rice salt & pepper Method: Put on your beret – today you are going to be an artist, painting flavor with spices.  (Trust me, the beret is totally appropriate: Djibouti has been heavily influenced by France – it was French ruled until 1977) So.. like I said, get out your beret. Here is your palette… the warm colors of cumin, cloves, cardamom, cayenne, and cinnamon. Heat it up in a large pot or skillet with lid with ghee (or oil) and onions. Cook until soft …

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Fish and leeks in Hot Mustard Sauce | Sorse Bata Diya Maach

Serves 4 We made this flavorful dish with salmon which became incredibly tender after an overnight marinade and gentle steaming. Although not very spicy, the mustard sauce reminds me of wasabi. Ingredients: About 1 1/2 lbs of fish pieces or 4 fish filets (salmon or trout are ideal) 1 large leek, cleaned and sliced thin (only white and medium green, not dark green parts) 4 green onions, sliced thin For the sauce: 1/4 cup chopped cilantro 4 cloves garlic, crushed 1 1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated (about 1 Tbsp) 2-6 green chilis (4 = Medium Hot) 1 tsp cracked mustard seed (Rai Kuria) 1 tsp turmeric 1/2 tsp cumin 1 tsp garam masala 1/2 tsp salt 1 15oz can diced tomatoes 1 Tbsp mustard oil Method: For the sauce: 1. Put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Puree. (or use an immersion blender). 2. Add sauce and fish to a casserole. Sink fish into the mixture and cover completely. Let marinate overnight in the refrigerator. 3. Heat a little mustard oil in …

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Bahamian Conch Chowder, yum!

Red Conch Chowder

Serve 6-8 Bahamian Conch Chowder is light and brothy, not creamy like the famous New England version. Leftovers thicken slightly, due to the starches that leach out of the potatoes. I might actually prefer this chowder the next day. Ingredients: 1 large onion, diced 2 garlic cloves, sliced 1 green pepper, diced 1 Anaheim pepper, diced 1 ham bone (I used a smoked ham shank) 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes 4 Tbsp tomato paste 2 carrots, sliced into half-moons 4-5 potatoes, cubed 1 cup clam stock 1 lb conch, diced 1/2 tsp dried thyme 3 bay leaves water, to cover everything Method: 1. In a large pot, sauté onion, garlic, green pepper, and Anaheim pepper, over medium heat until softened. Add ham bone, tomatoes, paste, carrots, potatoes, clam stock, conch, thyme, bay leaves, and water to cover.   2. Bring mixture to a simmer. Simmer covered for at least 2.5 hours, or until conch breaks down and gets tender. I simmered my chowder for 5 hours and all the flavors had melded wonderfully. NOTE: If you try to serve this …

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Armenian White Bean Plaki | Lupia Plaki

Serves 8 This dish can be enjoyed hot or cold. We served the Plaki cold in an Armenian Meza style dinner (cold buffet) and scooped it up with flatbread. Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups dried Great Northern Beans, soaked overnight in water 1 Tbsp salt 2-3 medium carrots, peeled and diced 1 celery stalk, diced 1/2 cup diced onion 1 can diced plum tomatoes, drained 2 Tbsp tomato paste 1/3 cup olive oil 8 cloves garlic, quartered 2 Tbsp lemon juice 1 tsp Hungarian paprika 1/2 tsp cayenne 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley and stems 2 cloves, crushed chopped celery leaves (optional garnish) Method: 1. Add beans to a large pot. Add enough water to cover 1″ and salt. Simmer until almost done. 2. Add remaining ingredients, except for crushed garlic and celery leaves, and cook another 30 minutes. 3. Take off heat and add crushed garlic and celery leaves. Serve warm or cold. Adjust seasonings before serving if necessary. Beware of Baby. Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: Rate this recipe! Print Recipe This dish can be enjoyed hot …

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