Category Archives: Eating and Cooking Adventure 2012

Greece…

Monday, December 31 –

Greece happened, just not the way I had imagined at first. I thought, New Years Eve + Greek food = great idea! But the planning and execution of the event made it more as appetizers, and most people showed up after they had had dinner, and most people didn’t make the stuff they brought (a few as wonderful exceptions). There was Greek food, it was good, but I honestly couldn’t tell you what was handmade and what was bought, so I’m not going to report everything. There were so many people there that I’m not going to go through them all here either. Just believe me, it was a damn good party.

I made the Greek salad exactly as it is written except I used cherry tomatoes and left out the olives. I made the spanikopita exactly as it is written except I put it into a casserole and cut it into squares instead of folding them.

By the time I got to the champagne toast and was ready to leave I realized that I never really had dinner, and I only had a bite or two of a couple of dishes (oops!), but what I had was delicious. Thank you to everyone who made and bought stuff to share for the party – it was quite the bash!

Greece
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.allrecipes.com)

Spanikopita

  • 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (16 ounce) package whole wheat phyllo dough
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Directions:
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet. Mix the spinach, feta cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and salt in a bowl.
Arrange one sheet of phyllo dough on a clean work surface and brush with melted butter. Cover the remaining phyllo dough with a damp towel. Place a second sheet of phyllo on top and brush with butter, then place a third sheet on top. Cut the buttered phyllo lengthwise into four strips.
Place about 1 tablespoon of the spinach mixture on the bottom of each strip. Take the bottom right corner and fold the dough over the filling to make a triangle. Fold the bottom left corner up to make another triangle. Continue folding until all the dough is folded. Arrange the stuffed triangles, seam-side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly brush the triangle with butter. Repeat with the remaining phyllo dough and spinach filling.
Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

Greek Salad

  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 6 black Greek olives, pitted and sliced

Directions: In shallow salad bowl, or on serving platter, combine tomatoes, cucumber, and onion. Sprinkle with oil, lemon juice, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle feta cheese and olives over salad. Serve.

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Ghana…

Wednesday, December 12 –

This dinner, hosted by Hot Momma, was like a family dinner that happened to be a blog post. So much goodness when I can share dinner with the besties in my life. We also had GrandpaBear, BabyBear,  photo(8)SlotMachine, MoneyShot, and of course my BestestFianceEver.

I knew that taking the time to put all the shrimp on skewers to bake them wasn’t going to happen, so I decided to make a curry dish out of it on the stove and serve it over rice. Maybe not true to form for the recipe, but much more appealing on a cold winter night.

So I started with melting butter in a pan, adding onions and cooking until translucent and aromatic. In next went button mushrooms, which I cut in half. Then I liberally sprinkled salt over the veggies and added the curry powder and the white pepper. Once the spices were incorporated I added the lemon juice and the tomato juice. I let the liquid heat up and then I added the shelled, de-veined shrimp. It wasn’t quite right, so I started adding more curry powder, black pepper, and a few drops of hot sauce. It was much better with those added to it. I let that simmer until the shrimp were pink throughout and then I served it over rice that Hot Momma had cooked in a rice cooker.

SlotMachine made a green salad to go with dinner and gari biscuits (more about those later). Dinner was served!

I think that the curry dish left a lot to be desired (more spice, coconut milk, more veggies) but the base of it was pretty decent. Some of the people thought it was too spicy (sorry!) but I thought that it had just the right kick. The gari dish was pretty terrible. It tasted like paste with some sugar on top. Definitely not recommended!

All in all we had lots of wine, a few spicy mouths, and some sass talk. Perfect for a Wednesday night! Next up is Gibraltar – on 12/21/12 – which could be the end of the world! Let me know if you’re interested in joining us.

Ghanaphoto(9)
(recipe borrowed from the cooks at: www.ghananation.com)

Shrimp Kebabs

  • 2 pounds fresh large shrimp, cleaned
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • l/2 pound mushrooms (optional)
  • l/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • Rice to serve

Directions: Season Shrimp with lemon juice and salt. Let stand for 10 minutes. Clean Mushrooms. Mix remaining ingredients together. Alternate Shrimp and Mushrooms on skewers; coat with mixture of remaining ingredients and arrange in a shallow baking dish. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F., turning from time to time until Shrimp are done and sauce dries up. Baste constantly. Serve hot. Serves 4 Cooking time: 1 hour


Germany…

Friday, December 7 –

I kept hoping that we would get to a country that was heritage for one of us, and it finally happened. Germany, thank you for being the birthplace for two of my favorite mothers of our group, and thank you for photo(6)having such yummy food! I do have to admit, though, before we get going that even though I like most everything pickled, I don’t really like very many recipes of sauerkraut. I know, I know, that’s weird. But true. So I took a regular sauerkraut from a jar and made something fabulous from it, called Bavarian sauerkraut. Add bacon and red wine and all of a sudden it’s yummy? Yep.

I cooked the sauerkraut recipe exactly as it reads below, I just made half of what it calls for. Bacon – then onion and garlic into the bacon fat. Then caraway seeds, chicken bouillon cube, and brown sugar. Stir. Red wine plus the whole jar of sauerkraut. Stir again and let simmer. Next add the potato, paprika, and pepper – then the roux. Simmer. Our stove doesn’t really do “low simmer” very well, so I simmered it for about ten minutes with the lid on the pan, then turned the heat off but left it on the burner until we were ready for dinner. Stir a little more and then serve!

I made the wiener schnitzel exactly as it is written. Pounded meat plus salt and pepper. Then dip in flour, egg mixture, and bread crumbs. Fry each one in canola oil, then set aside under foil to keep it warm. As the last two schnitzels were frying I steamed some broccoli to serve on the side.

I also ended up making spatzle, but I cheated a little and made it from a box. We had a hiccup in the planning (because planning plus late wine nights always end well…) so boxed pasta it was.

This dinner was not only savory, tart, fried, and buttery – it was delicious. I could have kept eating that bacon/wine/sauerkraut the rest of the weekend! So if you’re like me and you like a little tart but canned sauerkraut is usually too strong, try the recipe below.

YUM!

And thanks to BestestFianceEver, Hot Momma, and SlotMachine for sharing this dinner with me. Cheers!

Germany
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.squidoo.com and www.bavariankitchen.com)

Wiener Schnitzel

  • 4 veal scaloppini
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoons water, buttermilk or milk
  • ½ tablespoons canola oil (and more for frying)
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 6-8 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • salt, pepper
  • lemon to serve
  • parsley to serve

Preparation:

Dry the veal scaloppini with paper towels. Tenderize the veal on both sides evenly with a meat mallet. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.

Prepare three dishes: 6 tablespoons flour in first dish, whisked egg with 1 tablespoon water and 1/2 tablespoons oil (or 1 tablespoon buttermilk or milk) in the second dish and 6-8 tablespoons bread crumbs in the third dish.

Coat the veal with the flour on both sides, shake off any excess, dip in the egg mixture on both sides and lastly into the bread crumbs shaking off any excess.

Prepare a stainless steel or cast-iron skillet with some canola oil just enough to cover the bottom of the skillet and let it get hot on medium-high heat. Drop in a few bread crumbs, if the oil starts to sizzle carefully place the Schnitzel inside. Reduce heat to medium. Fry veal until golden brown turning once. Do not cover the skillet. Garnish with lemon slices and parsley.

Serve with rice, french fries, mashed/boiled potatoes, steamed vegetables or a garden salad. Garnish: 4 slices of lemon and some chopped fresh parsley.

Bavarian Sauerkraut

  • 2 quart jars of good-quality sauerkraut. (How do we know it’s good quality? It costs more.)
  • 1 pound of smoked bacon, cut into thin strips.
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large russet potato
  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon of caraway seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons of paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon of black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons of cold roux
  • 1 large beef bouillon cube
  • 1 cup of red wine – aah, make that 2 cups!

Preparation:
First, we fry the bacon strips halfway, then adding chopped onion and garlic we cook this until it’s all golden brown and the bacon is crispy. During the last 5 minutes, we add the caraway seeds, beef bouillon cube and brown sugar to the pan. Now we add the 2 cups of wine and the sauerkraut and let this come to a simmer. At this point, we grate the raw potato into the mix! After seasoning with paprika and black pepper, we mix the cold roux (equal amounts of flour and butter, gently cooked for about 15 minutes) into the kraut. Turn the heat to a low setting and simmer the dish for an hour or two. Bohemian sauerkraut, like so many other stews, tastes even better when reheated the next day.


Georgia…

Sunday, December 2 –

This was one of those dinners that went from four people to fifteen people really, really quickly. Good thing I had already picked a recipe that made a lot of food! We had: BestestFianceEver, Hot Momma (lots of wine), Mr. Hero, photo(5)BabyBear, RamblingMan, WingWoman (gluten-free baklava), LightsOn, ChinUp, MyBuddy (lamb stew), DangerD (plates, cups, rum, coke), CreepShow (Chikhirtma – Fresh Coriander-Onion Soup), Kodiak, RubsWithLove, Sir VJ (dumplings), and yours truly (Chanakhi – Braised Lamb).

The dish I made was extremely simple, so I doubled it to accommodate so many guests. I chopped some eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, onion,and green beans and layered them all into different glass baking dishes. Then I spread out chopped lamb meat, salt, pepper, and (of course, even though it wasn’t in the recipe originally) garlic. I changed the water to chicken broth, hoping that would add more flavor and character. Wrapped in aluminum foil they went into the oven at 325* for an hour, and when checked the potatoes weren’t quite done so I did 20 more minutes at 400*.

On the side I also made a tomato and cucumber salad brightened with lemon, mint, salt, and olive oil. I also made a huge pot of rice for something to scoop the juices onto. The table also had a bowl of cilantro to put on whatever people wanted and the dumplings, sauce, stew, and soup. People dished up as much or as little of each thing as they wanted.

The braised lamb that I made wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t very good either. The veggies were pretty good but the lamb was pretty tough and flavorless when it was done. The dumplings were amazing and the sauce on top was incredible. The tomato salad was a perfect bright spot on the plate. The stew was amazing and flavorful and I instantly wanted more. The soup was… well… loud. The flavors of it were amazing but it had been allowed to sit and get stronger for several hours so when we finally got to eat it, it was very intense. The baklava was about as you expect baklava to be (buttery and nutty), just less flaky.

Overall I would count this dinner as a success, but not one of my favorites. I can’t wait for the Germany potluck on Saturday!

Georgiaphoto(4)
(recipe borrowed from the cooks at: www.russian.recipes-recipies.com)

Chanakhi, Braised Lamb (Georgian manner)

  • 500 g lamb (1+ lb)
  • 750 g potatoes (1 – 2/3 lb)
  • 200 g tomatoes (2/5 lb)
  • 300 g eggplant (2/3 lb)
  • 200 g string beans (2/5 lb)
  • 1 onion
  • Salt, pepper
  • Parsley or kindza (coriander)

Wash the meat and cut into pieces (2 or 3 per portion). If available, use a 2 or 3 liter stoneware casserole. Add finely chopped onion, chunks of potatoes, tomatoes cut in half, string beans from which the strings have been removed, diced eggplant, parsley greens or kindza. Season with salt and pepper. Add two cupful of water. Cover with a lid and bake for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Serve in the casserole.


Gaza Strip…

Friday, November 30 –

Did you miss me? I missed you. I let this blog dinner slide into being about a week late, and I felt guilty the whole time. But I’m all caught up now, I promise!

This dinner was just BestestFianceEver and me and it was wonderful. I started with the stuffed cabbage by prepping all of the veggies, spices, and stuff for the filling. I used somewhere between one cup and one andphoto(3) a half cups of ground lamb – it was one large handful. Then half a chopped onion, half a cup of rice, then two teaspoons of each of the spices. Mixed altogether and let sit while I prepped the cabbage. We only bought a half of a head of green cabbage and we boiled each leaf for a few minutes each until they were pliable. Then I filled them with the meat stuffing, wrapped them as carefully as I could, and set them at the bottom of another pot. BestestFianceEver had the genius idea of using the hot water from boiling the cabbage to pour over the cabbage rolls. I ended up using just over two cups of that water to almost cover a double layer of rolls. I dumped a couple of scoops of chopped garlic over the top and turned the heat on and let it simmer for an hour. (I never did see where the lemon juice in that recipe was supposed to go…)

While we were waiting for that to cook, I chopped a little cucumber, a little tomato, a few leaves of mint, a radish, and a green onion, mixing them altogether. I put on a sprinkle of parsley, a dash of olive oil, and a good squirt of lemon juice. I let that mix marinate together for about a half hour. Then I shredded some lettuce leaves and scooped the tomato mix and set it on top, pouring the juices over the whole as a salad dressing.

To round out the dinner I decided to make baked fried eggplant. Not necessarily a true Gaza Strip recipe, but it kept with the theme and it was less calories than doing true fried eggplant.

When there was only ten minutes left on the cabbage rolls I toasted some pita in the oven next to the eggplant and set the slices on the plates next to the salad mixture. A scoop of sour cream for my plate, a few cabbage rolls for each, and we were ready for dinner!

The salad was a bright, sharp flavor that cut nicely into the cabbage/meat flavor. The cabbage rolls were flavorful and filling. I would definitely make them again.

Gaza Strip
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.webgaza.net)

Fattoush

  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 spring onions
  • Lettuce
  • 1 Radish
  • Parsley
  • Green mint
  • 1 loaf of pita bread
  • Dressing: Lemon, salt, and olive oil

Fattoush Preparation: Cut the vegetables into small – medium size pieces. The lettuce, parsley and green mint should be cut in small pieces. Cut the pita bread into squares of 1 square cm each and either fry them until golden brown or roast them under the grill. Add the bread to the vegetable mixture. Add lemon, salt, and olive oil to taste.

Malfouf – Stuffed Cabbage

  • Medium Cabbage
  • 1 ½ cups ground lamb
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 1 cup short grain rice
  • Garlic, you need few whole garlic cloves peeled and some minced.
  • Optional, you may use whole head of garlic with the peel in between the layers
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons of the following spices: Cumin, Caraway, Coriander, Cinnamon, Salt and Black Pepper. You may all the above spices or omit whichever you do not like to use.
  • Cooking oil
  • 1 cup Lemon juice
  • 1 cup water or as needed

Preparation:     Wash and drain rice.    Mix up the ground meat, diced onions and rice; add cooking oil and the spices (Cumin, Caraway, Coriander, Salt and Black Pepper) set aside.    Prepare your cabbage leaves by separating the leaves from the cabbage head. Cut away stems, save them and use them at the bottom of the pot.    Boil the leaves a few at a time in boiling salted water until they are soft enough to roll.    Prepare stuffing of meat, rice, salt, pepper and the above spices.    Cut the leaves to form a cigar size roll. Place stuffing on each leaf, fold sides toward center and roll up from bottom into a cigar shape (similar with stuffed vine leaves). Do not over stuff; make sure that you have space for the rice to expand inside the cabbage rolls.    Press together firmly. Place layer of the saved stems.    Place the whole garlic heads in between the rolled Malfouf.    Sprinkle with salt, caraway and cumin in between layers. Add water, boil then simmer for an hour to an hour and a half. Half way through the cooking time add crushed garlic on to. Let simmer. Simmer gently until rice is tender in barely enough water to cover. Invert your pot in a platter.    You may serve this dish hot or at room temperature, depends on your personal taste.


Gambia…

Friday, November 16 –

I’m not entirely sure what happened to my brain with this post – I cooked it but never wrote it up. Oops! Here it is, just a little late.

I started with three chicken breasts because there were only four of us eating dinner: BestestFianceEver, Bestie Extraordinaire, Mistress Whiskey, and yours truly. I cut the chicken up into large bite-sized pieces and set aside. Next I cut one onion into slices, peeled one bulb of garlic, chopped one jalapeno, juiced two lemons, and mixed all of that with one quarter cup red wine vinegar, one tablespoon dijon mustard, sprinkles of crushed red chili flakes, black pepper, one bay leaf, two chicken stock cubes, and salt. I put the chicken pieces into that mixture, stirred, and let it sit for about a half hour. Then I separated the chicken out into a hot pan and browned the chicken pieces on both sides. In a separate pan I took all the onions and jalapenos out and cooked them on medium until they were soft and almost brown. Then, while the chicken wasn’t done yet, I dumped the onion mix and the left over marinade onto the chicken, covered it and let it cook on medium for about fifteen minutes – just long enough for the chicken to cook all the way through. I served this mess over white rice.

Bestie Extraordinaire made some dish that had wild rice, fish, and veggies in it. Which, when by itself was a little bland. And my chicken by itself was pretty strong. But you mix the two together and it was amazing! Creativity by proximity on the plate, I suppose. Over all, they were ok, but not amazing.

Gambia
(recipe borrowed from the cooks at: www.accessgambia.com)

Gambian Chicken Yassa

  • 1-2 chickens cut into serving pieces
  • 6-8 large onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon-style mustard
  • 3 heads of garlic (optional)
  • 1 cup of red vinegar
  • 2 fresh chili peppers
  • 1 teaspoon of dried chili peppers
  • 1 tablespoon of black pepper (freshly ground)
  • 6 Maggi © cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 lemons or limes
  • Salt to taste
  • Cooking oil
  • rice to serve

Cooking Method:

1.            Wash the chicken pieces and dry them with a clean cloth.
2.            Now score the chicken and set aside for later.
3.            In a large cooking-pot, mix the onions, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, bay leaf, mustard, vinegar and chilies.
4.            Now add the chicken pieces, stirring in well – preferably by hand.
5.            Let the chicken marinate for at least one hour. (For the best results you can keep the chicken marinating in the fridge for several hours or overnight).
6.            Before any cooking, remove the chicken pieces from the marinade; and, grill, over charcoal, until done on both sides.
7.            Remove the onions from the marinade; sauté gently in a little oil until soft and brown.
8.            Add the marinade and cook for five minutes.
9.            To this, add the chicken pieces and half a cup of water.
10.          Cover with lid and simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until the chicken is properly cooked; adding the Maggi© cubes, salt and pepper to taste.
11.          Serve with plain boiled rice (preferably Basmati Rice).


Gabon…

Monday, November 12 –

Yes, I know this dinner was made a day later than it should have been, but it was super important for us to be at one of our bestie’s birthday dinners, so it had to happen. Worth it to be able to be there.

This dinner was just BestestFianceEver and I, and it was perfect because of that. Because there were only two of us, I just winged it on the amounts and it turned out perfectly.

Mustard chicken – I took two chicken breasts and browned them in vegetable oil, then set them aside. I threw in half a chopped onion and browned the pieces before adding a quarter cup of dijon mustard and a quarter cup of yellow mustard, juice from one small lemon, and four crushed garlic cloves. Mixed it all up, put the chicken back in, put the lid on, let it cook on medium-low for 10 minutes. Turned the chicken, stirred the mustard sauce, put the lid back on, cooked for 10 more minutes.

For the salad I chopped up a small wedge of onion, a handful of cherry tomatoes, and a third of a cucumber. On top went a squirt of lemon juice, a dash of olive oil, shakes of dried parsley, pepper, and salt, and then a pinch of chopped fresh mint. Mixed that altogether and let it sit until the chicken was done cooking.

With the rice done (just a small amount for the two of us), dinner was served. The chicken was moist and flavorful, the sauce was tangy without being overwhelming, the rice was a perfect starch to put the sauce on, and the salad was a good, bright flavor to cut the mustard. All in all, a win on both recipes. If you want an easy, quick dinner for any night of the week, this is a great one.

Gabon
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.celtnet.org.uk)

Gabon Cucumber Salad

  • 1 large onion, sliced paper thin
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 bunch parsley, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp minced mint
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Slice the onion paper thin, cut the tomato into thin slices. Peel the cucumber, slice in half and then cut into long thin slices (about the same length as the tomato). M9x together the onion, tomato cucumber and parsley. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and cumin. Season with salt and pepper and toss.

Gabon Mustard Chicken

  • 8 chicken pieces (legs, thighs, breasts
  • 200ml mustard (Dijon for a milder flavor or a mix of Dijon and English for more of a punch)
  • 1 kg onions, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • rice to serve

Brown the chicken in a little oil then transfer to a plate and fry the onions in the same oil until translucent. Transfer the onions to a large lidded pot, add the chicken, mustard and lemon juice. Mix together then cover the pot with aluminum foil and then the lid to trap all the steam. Cook on very low heat for about an hour until the chicken is cooked through. Serve on a bed of rice.