Monday, August 31, 2009

Day 17 Philipines

Philipino cooking is uncharted territory for me. This was my first attempt at a Chicken Adobo. A short list of ingredients made me more than a little skeptical and reading through the recipe left me cold… a liberal quantity of vinegar, soy sauce, and water is boiled with garlic, bay leaves and peppercorns. The chicken is simmered in this mixture till cooked through and served over rice. At this stage, the pan juices are strained and poured over the chicken. At best it is bland and unmemorable, but the upside is that it is quick and easy .

The Shrimp and Shitake Lumpia saved the day. Lumpia wrappers from the local Asian store were filled with a combination of sautéed shrimp, shitake mushrooms, shredded carrot, bean sprouts, Napa cabbage and Bok Choy. Mint, garlic, cilantro, hot chili paste and lemongrass infused the crisp fried lumpia with an abundance of flavor and an orange chili sauce on the side kicked it up a few notches.

With lips buzzing from the birds eye chili peppers I make my way to Russia….

Friday, August 28, 2009

Day 16 Malaysia

A number of heritages contribute to the Malay culture and this is reflected in their cuisine, making it a favorite in my household. It did not take long for my family to get hooked on Roti Canai a street food, which is layered flat bread eaten torn into strips and dipped in a bowl of soupy chicken curry. In Malaysia this can be breakfast lunch or dinner - I ask can this be breakfast, lunch AND dinner?

The curried chicken is comfort food for my boys, with its flavorful soup-like gravy. It is the one day that I can let it run down their chins without complaint. Simmered over low heat the bite sized chicken pieces dissolve in the flavors of shallots, ginger, garlic, coconut milk, Kari leaves and a spice paste consisting of cumin, coriander, fenugreek, chili, turmeric and nutmeg. A healthy dose of chicken broth keeps it soupy.

The flat bread is made from a egg and milk dough. It is almost like brioche dough, but the process of rolling it out, folding over and rolling it out repeatedly gives it its characteristic layers.

Moving on to the Philippines.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 15 Nepal

Aloo Achar and Kwanti, quintessential Nepalese dishes were the picks of the day. Kwanti aka nine jewelled stew has nine different beans and legumes slow cooked with a substantial amount of onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and a plethora of spices. Asafoetida and Carom seeds gives this colorful dish its distinctive aroma.
Aloo Achar directly translates to pickled potato, but is basically boiled potato seasoned with sesame seeds, cilantro, turmeric, chili powder and lemon juice. Tempered with Fenugreek and green chilies, these golden potatoes are great with rice or flat bread ( Chappati).

Next stop: Malaysia. Can't wait ....heavenly Roti canai...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 14 Lebanon

Lebanese Tabbouleh is super healthy and tastes like summer- the parsley, lemon and cherry tomatoes impart a freshness, which synchronises well with the nutty taste of the Bulgur.

Trying to avoid the usual suspects, I went with the Samke Hara ( Baked Fish with Tahini).My fish of choice was Red snapper. Slits are cut into the sides of the fish and stuffed with a puree of walnuts, garlic, chili and cilantro. The fish is baked whole for 20 minutes and slathered with a paste of Tahini, lemon juice and salt. It is baked for 10 more minutes and served up. The tahini lends a pasty mouth-feel to the snapper, so I would not rank it high on my list of dishes conquered. It did well with the Tabbouleh but did not do quite as well alone!

Hotfooting it to Nepal. Hope you guys are keeping up...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 13 Laos

Laos : Dinner started with a feathery carrot and green papaya salad. The dressing was aromatic and sweet with a fiery undertone . A perfect complement to the buttery Chicken in a Packet. The amazing thing was the actual absense of fat. This has got to be one of the healthiest meals on the planet and guess what ? No dishes, no grease , no frying. Can't beat that!

The Chicken was rubbed with lemongrass, galangal, fish sauce , sweet Basil and scallions, wrapped in aluminum foil ( use Banana leaves if you live in the tropics!) and bake. Simple yet robust, the chicken was to quote my youngest " like creamy chicken noodle soup without the noodles".

This is turning out to be so much fun. I'm off again. Lebanon here I come!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 12 Kuwait

Kuwait, a tiny country wedged between Iraq and Saudi Arabia was a shocker. A kuwaiti menu to say the least, was looking iffy, so I was pleasantly surprised that the Chicken Mechbous was relatively quick to make and easy on the palate.

Onions and raisins are fried to a crisp with lime peel, sugar and black pepper and set aside as a garnish. A whole chicken is cooked in cinnamon, cloves,cardamom,peppercorns and enough water to create a flavorful stock. The stock is then used to cook the rice. The final step is to make a tomato sauce redolent with garlic, to serve on the side.

It was delightful -a reminder that every country has it's comfort food. This one is definitely a keeper.

An impromptu Raspberry Meringue Gateau gave the meal a not-so-healthy, yet wickedly sweet ending!

Laos tomorrow.....

Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 11 Korea

Korean Bulgogi aka fiery Beef,which is top round marinated in soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil , sesame seeds and sugar, went down well with the family. The sweet dipping sauce further enhanced the smoky flavor of the beef and it was a pleasure watching it vanish rather rapidly from the platter.

The Mu Saingchai (which is julienned daikon and apples in soy sauce, scallion, red peppers,sesame oil and rice vinegar) was a different story. A tad pungent and lacking any distinctive flavor , it was, to say the least disappointing. Thankfully the standby bowl of stir-fried veggies came to the rescue.

Next destination : Kuwait. So long ....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 10 Japan

Konnichiwa !!!

Here's the fabulously succulent chicken Teriyaki with a Tempura of cauliflower and broccoli florets, red peppers and zucchini. A sweet dipping sauce was made and poured over grated daikon to complement the crisp deep fried veggies. For those of you who buy Teriyaki sauce in a bottle- take it from me -it is really simple and tastes so much better home made.

The sticky rice was Kukuho Rose recommended by an unsuspecting Japanese customer at the local Asian grocery store. It was sticky and fragrant, just the way we like it!

Korea here I come....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day 9 Israel

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves and Israeli Couscous salad was on the dinner menu in Israel.

The meat and rice filled cabbage leaves was substantial in itself , but the couscous salad hit the spot as the temps hit the high 90's. Refreshing diced cucumber from the garden, scallions and red peppers gave it sufficient crunch and dill was the herb of choice instead of the standard parsley. What makes it great is how easy it is. Shake up some extra virgin olive oil, a dash of lemon juice / red vinegar , salt and pepper and you are ready to go.

A hop skip and a jump and we are in Japan tomorrow for some sinful Tempura and Teriyaki chicken.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 8 Iran

Iran hmmm....To make the Chelow the rice is rinsed twice, salted and left for a couple of hours. It is rinsed again in warm water and then poured into a well oiled wide pan. Oil is poured over the rice, and it is cooked covered until a crust forms.This is referred to as the Ta-Dig and is the essence of a good Chelow. The result tastes almost like Rice Krispies!

The kebabs are made from ground lamb mixed with egg, onions and salt. This meat mixture is put onto skewers and grilled.The last step is to sprinkle over with Sumac (not to be confused with the poisonous sumac of North America) a spice harvested from a berry indigenous to the Middle East.
The overall effect is not of sophistication,but in fact accentuates the unique earthy quality of the region.

Next port of call is Israel .Until then....

Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 7 Indonesia

Indonesia blew us away. My first attempt at the Beef Rendang was pretty damn good. The vegetables weren't too bad either.The pumpkin, green beans and mushrooms sauteed in a spice paste were a mixture of heat and sweetness, balancing out the full bodied taste of the Rendang which was cubed topside cooked in a shallot, garlic, ginger paste. The meat is then simmered in Coconut milk with lemon grass and galangal till tender and then stir- fried till dark brown- this last step, I'm told, is the essence of a good Rendang. I pushed it as far as possible without scorching it and it worked !

I'm making my way to Iran as we speak, to a delightful Chelow and Kebab Koobideh.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Day 6 India

Finger lickin' good. The meat was so tender -it fell off the bones. The Pulao made with long grain Basmati rice cooked with onions and peas with a hint of spices complements the rich flavors of the Saag Meat well.

This popular North Indian dish is made by simmering mutton in onions, tomatoes, and spinach
with a medley of spices.

I am on my way to Indonesia where a Beef Rendang and a Sambal
Goreng await me. See you tomorrow.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Day 5 China

Hello from China and how do I resist the spare ribs.... spare ribs it is. To ease the conscience I have included a healthy dose of veggies in my stir fries. Bokchoi and shitake for us adults and a Zucchini with red peppers for the kids and their favorite sticky rice.

The ribs are so good that I am compelled to post the recipe -so here it is:
2lbs lean pork spare ribs
2 pints stock ( Veg/ meat)
1 t five spice powder
2 star Anise
2 large shallots
2 T Tamari/ Soy sauce
2" piece of ginger
4 spring onion
2 bay leaves

Combine all in a food processor and marinate overnight.
Heat stock pour over the ribs and cook at 450 degrees for an hour. Reduce heat to 350 and cook till ribs are cooked through . Remove ribs. Pour remaining juices into a pan and thicken with a cornflour slurry till transparent. At this point I added in a little Mae Ploy( Sweet and spicy Thai sauce) to give it more juice.Pour over ribs and enjoy!

The veggies were sauteed with garlic slivers , soy sauce and a dash of oyster sauce. Cook over high heat, add a little cornflour slurry and season. Serve immediately.

Our next stop is India. Saag meat and Basmati pea pulao is the POA.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Day 4 Burma

Burma ranked high with its Panthe Kaukswe. The ubiquitous coconut milk played a large role in giving this curried chicken soup its creaminess. Served over egg noodles and topped with an array of crisp salad veggies , sliced hard-boiled eggs, crisp fried garlic, beansprouts and fresh cilantro, it hit the spot on a gray rainy day.

The chicken is cut into bite sized pieces, and cooked in onions, ginger, garlic, turmeric and red chili powder.The trick is to add in enough chicken broth to make the gravy soupy and yet thick enough to cling to the noodles.Yum!

Dishes were few, but lots of garnishes to be prepped. Rhea and David stopped by for a taste. Don't know why but I have a feeling they enjoyed it!!!! Off to China. See Ya!

Day 3 Bangladesh

There you have it- Doi Machi from Bangladesh. The strange rings above are fried spaghetti squash with a coating of spices-a big hit with the kids. In the absence of Jaali Kumra/Wax Gourd, I was forced to go with the squash, but it worked out just fine!

The fish tasted pretty good, despite the fact that it was frozen in faraway Bangladesh. The mustard paste gave it a zing , and the green peppers left us panting!

I have a thing for fruit desserts, so although this was not part of the menu, I surprised the kids with a homemade Raspberry tart. needless to say -it was the perfect ending to a spicy meal.

Tomorrow we head over to Burma, so keep reading .

Monday, August 10, 2009

Day 2 Afghanistan

Afghanistan wasn't as tough as I had anticipated. Can't say the same for the lamb which was simmered in a Le Creuset crock pot for over two hours as instructed in a onion, cinnamon, and cumin gravy. The rice was then cooked in the gravy, with carrots and raisins adding a sweet succulence to each mouthful. The Borani Esfenaj, it turns out is a spinach stirfry which when whipped with yogurt makes a concoction perfect for a warm summer's evening.

I even tackled the dishes and clean-up with enthusiasm. Give it time- it's only the first day and 79 to go!!! Uploading the pix was fun- thanks payal!

Today we jump over large land masses to get to Bangladesh. I am trying to keep each continent alphabetical, in case you are wondering how this all works out. I have fish imported from Bangladesh and today's menu is DoiMachi and Fried Jaali Kumra. Keeping my fingers crossed that kids can handle it!!

Day 1

It is with a great amount of excitement that I embark on my culinary tour, albeit in the confines of my own kitchen. I trained as a Cordon Bleu Chef a few years ago and did a stint at the Mesa Grill in Las Vegas. Coming to live in Jersey was a whole new ball game and it has taken almost two years to feel at home here. Jug handles, speed traps, wet lands and BYOB's take getting used to after Vegas. Anyway I figured since I have a penchant for cooking simple yet eclectic meals for my two boys and hubby, I would expand my horizons to cuisines from around the world- some that I have never tasted and others tried and tested over the years. I have been shopping for unusual ingredients ( thanks Rhea) and surfing for recipes and fortunately I have a very enthusiastic group of tasters( fellow foodies) at my disposal and intend to make use of them! My journey begins in Asia and ends in the USA. Today I will be in Afghanistan, doing a Qabili Pilau and Borani Esfenaj. If this sounds very exotic, it's probably because it is.So wish me Bon Voyage and off I go!!!!