Sunday, 9 December 2012

Afganistan

There were SO many options when planing this meal.....I wanted to invite like 10 people over. But it is Wednesday, not the easiest day to find dinner guests. In fact, you may be wondering why on earth would we be cooking up an elaborate meal on a Wednesday. It's simple, I am Wonder Women. Well, truth be told, I only work 4 days a week, and get Wednesday off. But, I'd like to think of myself as Wonder Women. Not the gal with the great hair who can pull off bikini bottoms and a belt every day (I couldn't do that ANY day) but just your average, run of the mill working mother. You know what I'm talking about.....you are Wonder Women too, or married to her, or will be married to her one day, and you are her son or daughter, or will join the ranks of Wonder Women one day too. So, thank the Wonder Women in your life (thanks Mom and mom-in-law), you both rock!) 
Sorry, I got a little side tracked there.

Being a Muslim country, there isn't a national "drink", so we took a liberty here, and made some Pomegranate Martini's. 

The menu:
   
We started with Boulanee, basically a meat and potato filled pastry ( that Fintan enjoyed for the rest of the week in is lunch box, score 1!!)

For the main we had Afghanistan's National Dish, Qabili Palau and Lamb with Spinach.
For dessert, we made Firnee (a cardamom flavoured custard) and Brides Fingers (kind of like Baklava)
We didn't care for the Firnee, but the fingers were tasty.

I will leave you with the recipes for the Boulanee, the Qabili Palau, and the Brides Fingers.

Boulanee


·         1 package square egg roll wrappers

·         Vegetable  oil
·         1 cup mashed potatoes
·         ½ tsp salt
·         ½ tsp coriander
·         ½ tsp cayenne pepper
·         ½ bunch chopped cilantro
·         4 green onions, chopped
·         1 lb ground beef
·         ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Add salt coriander, cayenne pepper, cilantro and green onion to mashed potatoes and mix.
  2. Brown ground beef with pepper,salt and coriander.
  3. Mix ground beef with mashed potatoes. Let cool.
  4. Take an egg roll wrapper and place a spoon full of filling in the middle.
  5. Wet the edges of the wrapper and close, making a triangle.
  6. Fold the ends of the triangle into the pastry, making a small envelope. Flatten with your hand.
  7. Heat oil and fry the boulanee until brown on both sides, about 4–5 minutes.
Qabili Palau
This was a super yummy rice dish, enjoyed by all of us, more than once! I found the recipe on this blog
Thank you!








Brides Fingers
Similar to Baklava, but super easy to assemble, Shawn "cheated" tonight, as there is wheat in the phyllo.

1/2 package (16 oz.) frozen phyllo dough, completely defrosted
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (optional)
¼-1/2 cup liquid honey
Filling:
1/2 cup almonds or pistachios, pulverised in food processor with
1/3 cup sugar
Glaze:
1 egg, beaten
sugar
Directions
  1. Combine the filling ingredients.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 1 or 2 baking sheets.
  3. Cut the phyllo in half crosswise and again in half, stacking the covering with a slightly dampened towel to prevent drying. Lay 2 rectangles on your work surface with the shorter sides facing you, and brush lightly with melted butter.
  4. Place a rounded tablespoon of the filling in a line across the shorter side of filo that faces you. Fold the longer edges of the pastry inward, sealing in the sides of the filling, and roll the pastry up from the short side, forming a fat cigar shape. Place on the baking sheet with the cut edge down. Repeat with remaining dough.
  5. Brush the tops of the pastries lightly with a bit of beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.
  7. Dip the warm fingers into honey and arrange on a serving tray. Serve at room temperature.


Monday, 26 November 2012

Nunavet



There is some Arctic Char living in our freezer, not 1, not even 2 but I believe there are 4. A friend of ours, who spends time up in Baffin Island has befriended some fishermen. And fortunately for us, this friend does not own a freezer (he's a bit of a nomad)
After some communication with another friend living in the way North we devised a menu around “our” Arctic Char. The considerations were based on traditional foods (the char, blueberries, and bannock) and what they can actually get up there. And by get up there, I refer to the fact that their groceries must be able to withstand being flown, dropped out of planes and manhandled often.
We took 2 of the char out of the freezer , with one we stuffed it with some chopped onion & garlic, seasoned with salt & pepper, wrapped it in foil and baked it for about an hour. We made a Blueberry Balsamic sauce for it (it didn't need it) and served  with roasted potatoes & carrots.
We finished our meal with bannock and home made jam.





To make bannock:
4 cups white flour
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
½ cup vegetable oil or lard
4 cups water
¼ cup powdered milk

Mix all dry ingredients. Cut in the lard with 2 knives. Make a well, and then slowly pour in water until mixture becomes doughy. From here, you can make little balls and flatten them on a cookie sheet and bake for about ½ hour. You can also wrap bits of dough around sticks and roast over them over a fire. This time, we chose to pan fry them in oil.....we set the fire alarm off twice doing it this way, but it was well worth it!












We worked hard at eating a lot of the char, but alas between the 4 of us we didn't make a big dent. The heads, tails and bones of both char went into the big soup pot.....and we ended up with a big yummy pot of chowder.....which we called “Arctic Char-der” We dined on this chowder for the next 3 meals.
With some of the meat from the baked fish, we made fish cakes, well enjoyed by all 5 of us (we ran out of cat food, so Cyrus got a taste for a couple of meals)
But, the highlight of our Char experience, was when Shawn fired up the smoker, sliced the char, used the last little bit of our own maple syrup for a glaze, and smoked it.....


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Jamaica


We're jammin' in Jamaica mon! So we threw some Bob Marley on the stereo, made a blender of Hummingbird, nibbled on coconut lime shrimp, grilled some Jerk Chicken with mango salsa with a side of Rice & Peas(rice & red kidney beans cooked in coconut milk) and finished with Toto. Was another fine tropical dinner on a cool fall evening.

Hummingbird (well, my interpretation of the drink, based on ingredients in the kitchen already)
2 oz rum
2 oz Kaluha
2 oz milk
1 banana
6 strawberries
ice
Blend, pour drink!








Jerk Chicken
I used the recipe from the Looneyspoons cookbooks......I have all 4 of them! Highly recommend them to any kitchen

1/3 cup green onion
¼ cup lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sou sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp grated ginger root
2 clove minced garlic
2 jalapeno peppers, minced & seeded (I used less to accommodate the boys palates)
2 tsp allspice
1 tsp thyme (I used fresh from the garden)
salt & pepper
½ tsp each cinnamon and nutmeg
Combine above ingredients for marinade, pour into a large resealable plastic bag with chicken (I used legs, the recipe called for 12 skinless, boneless thighs)
Let marinate overnight, and BBQ!


Mango Salsa
1 large mango, peeled and diced
1 diced red pepper
½ cup minced red onion
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 tbsp each lime juice & cilantro
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp
olive oil
cumin & salt to taste
Combine all, let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving


Toto
This was a dense coconut cake that was quite delicious, we served it with some sliced mango on the side. As Shawn is not eating wheat, I substituted the flour for 1 cup soy flour + 1 cup ? Flour + 1 tsp xantham gum....result was good!


1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
cinnamon & nutmeg (about 1 tsp each)
2 cups grated coconut ( I used a blend of dried and fresh.....see below for tips on how to crack a coconut!)
2 tsp vanilla
¼ lb butter
½ cup milk
1 egg
lime zest form ½ lime

In our trusty, and well loved Kitchen Aid mixer
Cream butter & sugar
Sift in dry ingredients
Add lime & coconut
Add egg and vanilla
Slowly add milk, the end result is a fairly stiff dough.
Spread mixture into a greased cake pan and bake at 350 for about ½ hour.

My new sure fire method for cracking a coconut: (I learned it from the Food Network Magazine.....I am addicted to buying food magazines, I totally get hooked by the yummy covers, and the promises of having all my lunchbox dilemmas solved....they have yet to be solved by the way)

1.      Poke the 3 eyes with a skewer to find the one that is soft. Push the skewer through the soft eye, working it to create a ½ inch hole
2.      Drain the water, you will have to shake it quite a bit. You'll get about ½ cup coconut water (I used it to cook my rice in)
3.      Hold the coconut with a towel, and firmly tap with a hammer, turning as needed until the shell starts cracking in half.
4.      Split the shell, then put coconut cut-side down on a flat surface. Tap with hammer to loosen flesh.
5.      Carefully pry the flesh away from the shell with a butter knife (this was the trickiest part)
6.      Peel off any brown skin that may be on the flesh.


Thursday, 8 November 2012

France

So, we never actually landed on France.....but we had taken a break for a couple of weeks, and I needed to get back on track, and thought France would be a great pick!
SO many options for this menu.....considering how much my boys (I include my husband in this description) LOVE seafood, I decided on oysters to start, and Bouillabaisse for the main. 
With the oysters on the half shell, I made a Mignonette, an amazingly simple sauce for oysters. The peppercorns and vinegar heighten their flavor without overwhelming the oyster's pleasing brininess.

Mignonette

3 tbsp Black  peppercorns, coarsely ground
2-3 minced shallots
2/3 cup red or white wine vinegar (I used red)
pinch of salt
Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl and chill well.
Of course, I had a baguette, some brie and wine! White with the oysters, and the red with the Bouillabaisse.










Mmmmm....the Bouillabaisse....for the stock I actually used stock I had made with the lobster shells from our Newfoundland stop (part of the reason I chose France for this stop, really wanted to use the stock!)


And for dessert.....Creme Brule! We devoured the entire dish, I think it was supposed to serve 6






6 egg yolks
6 tablespoons white sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons brown sugar
DIRECTIONS:
·         Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).   
·          Beat egg yolks, 4 tablespoons sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl until thick and creamy.
·          Pour cream into a saucepan and stir over low heat until it almost comes to boil. Remove the cream from heat immediately. Stir cream into the egg yolk mixture; beat until combined.    
·          Pour cream mixture into the top of a double boiler. Stir over simmering water until mixture lightly coats the back of a spoon; approximately 3 minutes. Remove mixture from heat immediately and pour into a shallow heat-proof dish.    
·          Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or overnight.          
·          Preheat oven to broil.   
·          In a small bowl combine remaining 2 tablespoons white sugar and brown sugar. Sift this mixture evenly over custard. Place dish under broiler until sugar melts, about 2 minutes. Watch carefully so as not to burn.    
·         Remove from heat and allow to cool. Refrigerate until custard is set again.





Suriname


When asked what country are you on this week by friends, no one had ever heard of Suriname! Us included. A tiny country between Guyana and French Guiana, Suriname has a very rich and interesting cuisine - quite different from the rest of South America.  Suriname was a Dutch colony until the 1970's, and the Dutch brought Indonesian and East Indian laborers to work on their plantations. These workers made their favorite dishes with locally available ingredients. Their cooking gradually blended with the native and European dishes (there's Chinese influence too), and all of this together became modern Surinamese cuisine.
I found it slightly challenging to find something that I thought would be distinctive, yet different, considering the Indian influences; we had already "dined" in India.
And now, I have an extra challenge to our tour.....Shawn in no longer eating wheat!




The menu for this stop:

Goedangan (mixed vegetable salad with Coconut Dressing)
Surinamese Chicken Curry 
Bojo Cake (a Coconut and Cassava cake)

My Mom was on her way to visit from Toronto, so I asked her to bring me some Cassava; a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family) native to South America. It is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy, tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. .  Cassava, when dried to a starchy, powdery (or pearly) extract is called tapioca. Who knew?

Goedangan (adapted from about.com)


  • 1 small head of cabbage
    8 ounces green beans
    2 hard boiled eggs
    1 sliced cucumber
    1/3 cup coconut cream (I used the top part of a can of coconut milk, if you buy the Thai kitchen brand and don't shake it up, there is a thick cream at the top)
    1/2 cup plain  yogurt
    3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
    1 small green chili pepper, like a jalepeƱo, very finely diced
    1 teaspoon ground coriander
    Juice of 1 lime
    Pinch of salt
    Preparation:

    Make the dressing: Whisk together the coconut cream and yogurt. Stir in the minced green chile (to desired spiciness), sugar, coriander, lime juice, and salt. Chill until ready to serve.
    Slice the cabbage into thin strips.
    Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
    Add the cabbage a to the boiling water and cook very briefly, for about 2 minutes.
    Drain cabbage and dump into ice water.
    Bring another pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain green beans and add to the bowl of ice water.
    Drain cooked vegetables into a colander.
    Arrange vegetables on a platter with slices of hard boiled egg and cucumber slices. Drizzle with coconut dressing, and serve extra dressing on the side.

    I like to bake, and was delighted to find a dessert I could bake, that was also flourless! Bojo is a rich flourless cake made from grated coconut and cassava, that is flavored with rum and cinnamon.....and it will certainly be made in our kitchen again!

Bojo Cake

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup rum
  • 1/2 pound peeled cassava (with woody center removed)
  • 2 cups grated coconut (fresh or dried)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Preparation:

  1. Soak the raisins in the rum (overnight if possible).
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. 
  3. Butter a 9 inch round cake pan, or 9 inch square brownie pan, and line bottom of pan with  parchment.
  4. Finely grate the manioc root (easily done in a food processor). Stir the coconut and grated manioc root together with the cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl. 
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, vanilla, almond extract, and salt. 
  6. Stir the liquid ingredients into the coconut mixture. Stir in the melted butter. Stir in the raisins and the rum. 
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown on top. 
  9. Run a knife around the edge of the pan while the cake is still warm, then let cool in the pan. 
  10. Cut into small squares or slices and serve. This cake is delicious warm or cold, with a dollop of whipped cream.



Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Newfoundland

This was another exciting land for us.....as we love seafood. All of us do. So a trip to Mike Mundell's for some lobster was in order.




We threw some Great Big Sea into the CD player, and had us a lobster boil! Iain LOVES mussels, so we cooked up some mussels and boiled potatoes to go with our lobster

We dined on the back deck.....and to drink? 

Cruelty to animals? I hope not

It was another great night on our World Tour!







Hawaii


Yes! The perfect excuse for a luau in rural Ontario:) We landed on Hawaii in summer, how perfect. We've been so busy, it was nice to have an evening to relax and build a dinner around a tropical theme. But what is a luau without people?! So we invited the country neighbours down.  We briefly talked about a pig roast, but decided against it. Instead, we picked up some pork shoulder, and fired up the smoker, which we probably only use once or twice a year.We ended up with lots of leftovers that found it's way into the freezer for future enjoyment. 


For the rest of the feast we served Coconut Lime Shrimp Skewers, Aloha Sweet Potatoes, Hawaiin Rice Pilaf with fresh fruit and banana bread for dessert. For the banana bread, I used my family recipe, and added  crushed pineapple and shredded coconut.


To drink? We started with Mai Tai's (in the punch bowl my Grandma bought me for Christmas a number of yeas ago, saying that every "housewife" should have one. It was it's first appearance at my table.....Now I agree, everyone should own a punch bowl, something about a bowl of drink is wonderful!) At first, I thought that there was too much....then we ran out and had to make Blue Hawaii's


Hawaiin Rice Pilaf
 The macadamia nuts ($7 worth!) gave it a really great flavour. 
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white rice (I used basmati)
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 each diced red & yellow pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2  cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup roasted macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 tsp sage
  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • 1/4 cup parsley

Melt butter in oven-proof casserole dish with lid. Add rice & garlic, stir to coat. Stir in peppers and broth, cover & bring to a boil. Stir in raisin, nuts and sage. Cover and place in 375 F oven for about 2 minutes. When it is finished, gently stir in pineapple & parsely. Serve and enjoy.

The Aloha Sweet Potaoes
  • 4-5 sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
Boil potatoes in their jackets until just tende, about 20 minutes. Let cool, then peel and cut into 1 1/2 inch slices. In a large skillet melt butter. Stir in brown sugar and water and cook for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat, add sweet potatoes. Heat gently until warm, sprinkle with coconut to serve.



Monday, 29 October 2012

Vietnam

Check out what we found at No Frills when the boys and I went shopping for our Vietnam stop:

Yep, the plan is a fish dish, and we were able to find fish from Vietnam.  Fintan pretty much yelled it out at the grocery store....."Mom! This fish came from our country" Yep, we got a couple of looks.

So, for our appetizer, we planned on making spring rolls, already a favorite in the house. But alas, when I pulled out the rice papers they were all broken:( So, we turned the spring rolls into a "De-constructed Spring Roll Salad"

 We drizzled the Nuoc Cham (salty-sour dipping sauce) over the salad.(recipe from whats4eats.com)
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1/4 cup Fish sauce 
  • 3 tbsp Lime juice
  • 2 tbsp Unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Sugar 
  • 1 clove Garlic, crushed 
  • 1 Chile pepper, sliced into rounds 
  • 1 tbsp Carrot, shredded 
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the water, fish sauce, lime juice, vinegar and sugar until the sugar is dissolve. Adjust seasoning, adding more lime juice if too sweet, more sugar if too sour and more fish sauce if it needs more salt.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients and let set for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to mingle

The highlight of the meal was the Ca Kho To, or Vietnamese clay pot with caramel sauce Yes, that says carmel sauce. Yes, on fish. Yes, it was absolutely delicious. Quote from Fintan "Best dish since we started World Wednesday!!"
We don't have a clay pot, we used our camping dutch oven!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Australia

Would you have ever guessed that you could find kangaroo meat in Kingston?! Yep, you can get it at the Pig & Olive.....so of course we had to make the trip to that end of town for a $20 piece of tenderloin...a small piece. But hey, have YOU ever eaten kangaroo??


 Of course, we also had to have some "Shrimp on the barbie"


And practice our Aussie accents:

video


To drink, WolfBlass of course:)


But the highlight? Pavlova! Fun fact: Pavlova was created to honour the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova during her visit in the 1920's. Both Australia and New Zealand lay claim to the birthplace of this dessert.....I figure I will support both claims, and make it again when we 'land" in New Zealand.
Note the fingers on the right side of the photo......

Pavlova
6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 Egg whites, room temperature 
  • pinch of Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar 
  • 1 tbsp Cornstarch 
  • 2 tsp Vinegar 
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 cups Whipped cream 
  • 3 cups fresh fruit  

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper, and use a plate or pie tin to draw a 9-inch circle in the middle of the paper with a pencil. Turn the paper over so the circle is on the bottom.
  2. Add the egg whites and salt to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high until the whites form soft peaks, about 1 minute. With the mixer still running, slowly add the sugar and beat on high for another minute or so until the whites hold firm, shiny peaks.
  3. Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift the cornstarch over the beaten whites. Add the vinegar and vanilla and gently fold them all into the whites with a spatula.
  4. Scoop the meringue into a pile in the circle on the parchment paper and smooth them out with a spatula. Use the spatula to make a gentle depression in the middle of the meringue.
  5. Reduce the oven heat to 250°F. Place the meringue in the oven and bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn off the oven, leave the door closed and let the meringue cool completely in the oven.
  6. Carefully remove the pavlova from the baking sheet and center it on a serving platter. Spread the top evenly with whipped cream and arrange fruit nicely on the top. To serve, cut into wedges.

Papua New Guinea

To date, this was our least favorite meal to eat, but the most fun to cook!
We decided to do a Mumu, a traditional way of cooking food over an open fire, usually in a pit with hot stones over covered food. We already had the fire pit, and we pulled out our maple syrup pot to create an oven:


We lined the pot with banana leaves (found some at the little Asian market down the street from work) and layered veggies, pineapple & chicken then poured in a can of coconut milk, and wrapped the banana leaves around the food. We had dug out the firepit deeper, and let the fire burn down to a good bed of coals and the whole meal slow cooked for a couple of  hours.


Big pile of fresh fruit & veggies

What it looked like cooked

To drink we made Muli Wara (lemonade!)

And fresh fruit for dessert:

The only reason I say it was our least favorite to eat, the banana leaves left a flavour we did not enjoy, the method of cooking was great though, we will make this again, without the banana leaves!



Thursday, 25 October 2012

Japan

We LOVE Sushi. So we were so very excited to land on Japan. I would like to say, that Kingston has about as many Sushi restaurants as it does Tim Hortons. They are all pretty good, but I will also say some of the best sushi I have had was in Montreal. But don't ask me where, because I don't remember. Actually, Shawn is the one that has always loved sushi. He had to persuade me many times to try it.....for me it was an acquired taste. But once I acquired it.....yum-yum. The boys also like it, in fact Fintan called all fish sushi for quite some time when he was young. But he may have been referring to goldfish crackers. He may have just been trying to say "fishy".

Little Man F draws the flags,
if they are simple!

Anyway.....Japan!
We started with Zaru Soba,  Japanese cold buckwheat noodles with dipping sauce. They were cool and refreshing; and enjoyed by all 4 of us. Here is the recipe I used: Zaru Soba





Next, was our maki and sushi feast, tempura and Sake (the LCBO only stocked one acually made in Japan)
This tray was made by a friend of ours, Jesse Stinson. Check out more of his and his family's work: Stinson Studios

Dessert....well we all tried it.....but only one bite: