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Mexican Mango with chili and lime juice

Mexicans offer up an unexpected appetizer for the margarita lover in all of us. Take a walk along a Mexican beach and you’re likely to find carts of mangoes being peeled and cut into elaborate flowers and wands. Mango carving is not unique to Mexico – the art can be found wherever the fruit is grown – but Mexican mango flowers smack of lime juice with puffs of chili powder and salt. Just look at this video: I planned to make a mango flower for you today. How could I not? Real Talk: When I tried to replicate his mango carving technique I ran into trouble. My first problem was that the ripe mango slid down any stick I put it on (I tried chopsticks and skewers). And, without the proper handle, carving the flower became a slippery, dangerous mess. By the end of the afternoon I’d hobbled together a few cranky looking flowers but, as I had nothing to stand them on, I’ll leave their appearance to your imagination. The happy solution? A ridiculously simple approach …

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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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Spicy Coconut Shrimp

Fact: Shrimp are like relationships. They should be warm and inviting. Not cold and clammy. I’ve never been a fan of cold shrimp at cocktail parties. I eat them begrudgingly (if only because I’m an eternal grazer). All the while, I daydream of a crackling, crusty, and “fried-until-golden-brown” shrimp. I’m not sure why I settle on cold and clammy at cocktail parties, but I do it every single time. Thankfully, I didn’t make the same mistake when choosing my husband. And, after this week’s Global Table, I may never do it again with shrimp. While you won’t find Coconut Shrimp in the remote villages of Papua New Guinea, you will find it in the country’s coastal restaurants. In fact shrimp would be the dainty option; often they’ll use humongous prawns and serve spicy chili sauce on the side for dipping. To give the shrimp authentic spice without sauce I added a sprinkle of brilliant cayenne… a spice the color of a Papua New Guinean sunset and a fishermen’s dream. Ingredients: 1 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined, tails on 1/3 cup …

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Tandoori marinade for fish or chicken

“It smells good in here.” That’s what Keith said as he wandered by. I was leaning in, photographing spoonfuls of spices that I’d later mix with yogurt for beautiful tandoori marinade. There was sweet, grassy coriander and bright lemon juice. Tangy yogurt and earthy garam masala. The ingredients slid together into intoxicating deliciousness – not without a bit of sass thanks to the fresh ginger and spicy garlic. Tandoori is enjoyed from Pakistan to India … even, as we learned this week, as far as the tiny island country of Palau, way out in the Pacific. To eat proper tandoori, you need a tandoori oven. These cylinders of shimmering heat create addicting char-grilled flavor while retaining perfect moisture. At home you can approximate the flavor of good tandoori in your regular oven or on the grill. Try this marinade next time you bake or grill fish (and even chicken). Your house will smell like an exotic market. Amazing Town. Ingredients: 3-4 lbs fish like cod, salmon … or even chicken Tandoori Marinade 1 cup yogurt 1/4 cup …

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Grilled Plantain spears with crushed peanuts | Boli Bopa

This is so quick, it’s silly. All you need are a few medium-ripe plantains (as pictured), some red palm oil, and a bit of salt & hot pepper. You can find the red palm oil at your natural grocer or, if you’re lucky enough to have an African market, there. You brush on the red palm oil (back in the day I wrote a bit about this popular west African oil)… Sprinkle with salt and whatever spices you like (think hot, like cayenne… or mild, like paprika)… Grill until tender and charred, but not mushy. Slice and serve… … preferably with crushed peanuts and a sprinkling of extra spices, as desired. This would also be great with minced chili peppers, like jalapeno. That’s it! A quick and relatively fuss-free taste of Nigeria. Adapted from The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent by Jessica Harris. Here’s what you need… Ingredients: 3 plantains 1-2 Tbsp red palm oil handful crushed peanuts salt cayenne pepper, optional Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: Rate this recipe! Print Recipe This is so quick, it’s …

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West African Toasted Baguette Sandwich with Spinach Scrambled Eggs

If you’re going to serve an egg sandwich, you best do it up right. Layer hot, scrambled eggs in a crusty, toasty baguette and wrap ’em up. Make sure there’s something green in there to keep you strong and healthy. Tie it with a bow. Simply put: turn breakfast into a present for your belly. I learned this trick from Niger. When I dug around for traditional recipes I kept stumbling upon the same thing: eggs sandwiches sold by street vendors. Simple. Comforting. Filling. This is the kind of thing people crave once they leave Niger – a fond memory in the making. Most people say they come wrapped in old newspapers, but any old paper does the trick. Turns out wrapping up a sandwich is by far the best thing you can do to help keep your eggs from running away. Particularly if you’re 3 years old. Just ask Ava. Seriously. This could have been bad. While I used spinach and a little green onion in our sandwich, the fine folks of Niger often …

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Smoked Ham & Green Bean | Jollof

I’m that girl who orders the same thing over and over again at restaurants. I know – not what you’d expect from someone cooking the world. But I can’t help it. I like knowing what to expect. Plus, there’s nothing worse than wasting hard-earned money on a dish that I could possibly end up hating. After all, it’s not like I can send the food back just because I don’t like it. Now, to be fair, I’m a completely different person at home. Without the burden of outrageous restaurant bills, I’m a free spirit.  I play with food. Experiment. Get all MacGyver on it. If things begin to head south, I’m quick on my feet. A dash of this and a squirt of that will usually bring the meal back into edible form. I rarely make the same thing, the same way, twice. Well, today we’re revisiting Jollof – a dish we made a few months ago with such success that I thought I’d make another popular variation for Liberia, a country that loves Jollof as much as any …

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West African Rice with Veggies | Jollof

Serves 6-8 Listen, friends. I thought Jollof sounded weird. Scary. Difficult. It’s not. This is rice with veggies. And spices. Sometimes meat, but not here. Not today. All over West Africa people enjoy Jollof. They make it with whatever they have on hand and more often that not it does not include meat. This recipe is flexible. It’s usually spicy. And it always has some version of tomato sauce/paste in it. The rest is a fun improvisational dance. So, go on – boogie, boogie through that bottom drawer and pull out whatever veggies inspire you. Ingredients: 2 cups frozen green peas vegetable oil 1 onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, sliced 1 tsp ginger (fresh grated or ground) 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp cayenne 15 oz can tomato sauce or puree 1 small head of cabbage, chopped 2 cups white rice 1 quart water or stock salt and pepper, to taste Method: My boogie, boogie led me to peas, which is a fairly common addition to Jollof. So, first things first, set out the green …

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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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Hickory Smoked Flank Steak Sandwiches | Coupé coupé

Serves 4 Barbecue, called coupé coupé, is all over Africa. This sandwich is inspired by Gabonese love for smoked meats piled into crusty baguettes.  I posted this recipe in diary format because, well, it was a little bit of an Adventure. Ingredients: 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder 1 1/2 tsp powdered chicken bouillon 1/4 tsp cayenne salt pepper 1 1/2 lbs flank steak grilled poblano peppers, skinned and cut into strips 1 onion, sliced and grilled (I grilled in foil with olive oil) 1 baguette 2 cups hickory wood chips Method: 8:00 am Woke up to a perfect day. Methinks one should always smoke meat under a blue sky and budding trees. 8:01 am Realize we don’t have any wood chips. Keith runs off to get some. I go back to sleep, ignoring blue skies and budding trees. 8:30 am I wake up to my hero, sneaking in with arms full of hickory wood chips, aluminum trays, and cat food. Nice. (Cat food for cats, not for sandwiches. Double nice).  Soak wood chips for about …

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Homemade Curry Powder

Makes about 1/4 cup Curry powder isn’t just for India anymore. Fijians, all the way in Polynesia, also love the golden goodness. I took a look at Mark Bittman’s curry recipes (he has three different ones in The Best Recipes in the World), and made a version which combines the best of his fragrant curry and mild curry. The result? An all-purpose curry that will taste great on almost anything. Except maybe ice cream. This version ended up quite a bit different than Bittman’s, most notably because of a little extra cardamom and a bit less fennel seed. I’m just not that into fennel. If you’d like more heat, try mixing in extra cayenne until you get a blend you like. If you want bonus points, toast and grind each spice individually – you’ll be able to toast the spices more evenly and you’ll also have better control of the grind. You know… unless you have a little Miss Ava to keep up with. Ingredients: 2 tsp black peppercorns 2 tsp ground turmeric 2 tsp coriander seeds …

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Spicy Egyptian Tomato Sauce

Makes 2 cups Spicy, garlicky, and tangy, this “doctored” tomato sauce goes great with pasta, rice, or all of the above (a.k.a. kushary … noodle, rice and lentil casserole). Feel free to tone down (or up) the heat, if you like things a little milder. Often extra sauce is placed on the table so diners can heap it on in whatever quantity desired. Ingredients: 1 can tomato sauce (15 oz) 4 cloves garlic, crushed 1/2 tsp cayenne (or to taste) 1 tsp vinegar salt (only needed if your sauce is “no salt added” sauce) pepper Method: Add tomato sauce to a small pot. Stir in the garlic, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in the vinegar. Give the mixture a stir and let simmer for five minutes, or until the garlic is cooked through. Serve over Kushary, or anything else that needs a little kick! Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: Rate this recipe! Print Recipe Spicy, garlicky, and tangy, this “doctored” tomato sauce goes great with pasta, rice, or all of the above (a.k.a. kushary … noodle, …

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