Tag Archives: cheese

Honduras…

Saturday, March 16 –

For this dinner we had: BestestFianceEver, Bestie Extraordinaire (wine), Mistress Whiskey (wine), Hot Momma (wine), Mr. Hero (baleadas), BabyBear, GrandpaBear, LittleBigBrother, ChinUp (mango, avocado photosalsa and chips), and MyBuddy (banana milkshakes). Later in the evening we also had LightsOn and WingWoman show up to hang out and drink some wine.

I started by adding oil to a pan and cooking the onion and bell pepper until they were just starting to brown. Then I added the garlic and let that heat up. While the veggies were cooking on the stove I added the rest of the ingredients to the crockpot. Once the veggies were done I added them in, stirred to mix, and let it simmer for a couple of hours. I did not use the sherry and I substituted a seeded habanero for the yellow pepper, which made it really, really spicy. Almost too spicy, really (which is really weird for me to say). After a few hours I blended the soup with an immersion blender and let it continue to simmer until everyone was ready to eat.

The sweet potato I substituted for a yam because I like their flavor better. Steamed, drained, crisped in hot oil, then drained. Put on a bed of baby arugula (which is what I had in the fridge) and feta, then tossed. I added the dressing in on top, made exactly as the recipe says, and gave that a good toss too.

ChinUp and MyBuddy had the salsa and chips out. Mr. Hero made the baleadas with all the toppings (basically tacos on soft corn tortillas), including beef, beans, onion, cheese, sour cream, and avocado. The wine was flowing freely, and dinner was served!

The soup was ok. I think I would have liked it better unblended. It was spicy but not terribly flavorful. Maybe it needed some ham or something to go with it? I’m not sure. The salad was good, the dressing was tangy and delightful. The beleadas were good and a great compliment to the other dishes. And the mango, avocado salsa was a perfect topping to chips and to all the rest of the food. Last we get to the milkshakes. They were good… and then they added rum. Banana rum milkshakes are pretty darn delicious. And dangerous, because you don’t really notice the rum!

Honduras
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: http://sidewalkmystic.com)

Bahia Black Bean Soup

  • 1 Onion
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 garlic minced garlic cloves
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 15-oz cans black beans, drained
  • 2 C stock
  • 1 1/2 t. oregano
  • 1 yellow chili, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (brave souls leave the seeds)
  • 1 15-oz can whole tomatoes with liquid or 18-oz can sauce
  • 1/2 lime, squeezed for juice (critical)
  • 1/4 c. sherry (I use red wine)
  • fresh cilantro (1 1/2 t. if fresh isn’t available)

Directions:  [The website author says: my adjustments to the recipe include adding a smoked ham hock for flavor.  As well, if you find the soup too heavily favored by the tomatoes, merely back down on the amount of tomato and increase the stock proportionately]. Saute onion; bell pepper and garlic in oil until onion is translucent. Add beans, stock and oregano. Heat thoroughly. Seed and chop yellow and jalapeno chilies and put into blender. Add lime juice and tomato. Puree to finely mince the chilies. Add black bean mixture to blender (in batches) and puree. When everything is pureed, return it to the soup pot. Simmer at least 1.5 hours. Add wine and fresh cilantro to taste.

Garnishes: Rice, grated cheeses, diced onion, salsa, sour cream, plain yogurt, grilled sausages.

Mixed Greens with Sweet Potatoes and Feta Cheese

  • ¾ lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼ to ½ inch dice
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T fresh lime juice
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar (don’t pinch; buy the top shelf stuff)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ½ t of Dijon mustard
  • ¼ C of buttermilk (you can use regular milk; just let it stand with a T of regular vinegar in it)
  • 8-10 oz of fresh greens (we use spinach and escarole – small slices of red cabbage add to the esthetic appeal)
  • 4 oz fresh feta cheese (I have used blue cheese when I make a fresh blue cheese dressing to accompany the salad)

Directions:  Steam the sweet potato for 5-8 minutes.  Just tender.  Remove and drain on paper towels.  Get the steamed potatoes very dry. Heat 2 t of olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat.  Add potatoes, shaking pan often for 15 minutes.  Remove when crisp and drain again on paper towels.  Mix together the lime juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt pepper, and remaining olive oil and buttermilk.  Whisk in a blender (start to drool). Place greens and cheese in a salad bowl and toss with the dressing.  Top the salad with the sweet potatoes, serve, and call me.  Serve with tortillas.

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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.


France…

Saturday, October 20 –

I am not even sure where to start with this dinner. It was a potluck and there was so much food that it still hurts to even think about it. A HUGE thank you to Sassy Desserts and ManlyMan for hosting this French food explosion. This might be my favorite dinner so far, and I feel like it’s going to be hard to top in the future (but I will certainly give it a shot!).

DevouringWorld & BestestFianceEver: saffron mussels bisque, au gratin potatoes, mushroom garlic escargot, french bread, 3 types of french cheeses, crackers, wine
ChinUp & MyBuddy: ratatouille, wine
Sassy Desserts & ManlyMan: artichoke tartlets, shrimp cucumber & curry cream cheese canapes, apple clafouti
Kid Kreole: etouffee
Miss Sweets: nutella crepes
Harvey Danger: drinks, garlic bread
RubsWithLove: stuffed pumpkins with everything
Mr. Hero & Hot Momma & BabyBear: wine, french bread
SlotMachine: wine, eclairs
OurCuz: food photographer for the night

I started with the au gratin potatoes, knowing that they had to bake the longest. I sliced up four russet potatoes, which actually filled two 9×12 casserole dishes and needed twice the amount of sauce. I made it exactly as it is written, and it was simple and straight-forward. Butter, then flour, then salt, then milk, then cheese – stirring often. Presto! Cheese sauce! Covered with foil and into the oven for 1.5 hours it went.

Multi-tasking around the sauce thickening I started the escargot. Again, this recipe was followed exactly as it was written and it was simple and easy to make. I soaked the escargot in water and then cut each of the snails in half. In the pan was the butter and garlic, then the mushrooms and snails. Wine, cream, flour, pepper, and tarragon were whisked together and poured on top. Left to simmer for a few moments the sauce thickened and I took it off the heat. Into the baking dish went the mushrooms first, then the escargot into the caps, then the sauce on top. Sprinkle with cheese, then into the oven for about 15 minutes.

As the mushrooms were softening, I was starting the mussels bisque. Lucky number three, this recipe didn’t need much in the way of change either. Mussels cooked in water and wine, drained with liquid reserved. Butter, onion, garlic, leek, and fenugreek cooked until soft. Flour, then saffron mixture, then broth and reserved liquid. Simmer until flavors are all mixed together. Then parsley, salt, pepper, and cream – and finally the shelled mussels.

My thoughts on all of this:

  • saffron mussels bisque and french bread – Flavorful without being heavy. I usually think of bisque as a creamy, heavier base and this was not. With the fresh French bread dipped in it the flavors made a perfect fall-time soup.
  • au gratin potatoes – This dish was all of the best things that I love about cheesy potatoes, especially the crispy cheese on the edges!
  • mushroom garlic escargot – Creamy, garlicy, heavy sauce on top of cheesy, baked mushrooms = heaven. I could have easily left the snails out and been just as happy with the flavor. Yum!
  • 3 types of french cheeses and crackers – There was a creamy white, an herbed, creamy white, and a sharp, nutty orange cheese. This managed to keep the hunger at bay while the oven worked overtime trying to get all of these dishes done.
  • ratatouille – The last time I had ratatouille it was slightly mushy and mostly flavorless. This time, it was heavenly and very, very flavorful. Apparently if you make it like Disney, you get a great dish!
  • artichoke tartlets – Picture it: flaky pastry, gooey cheese, ripe tomatoes, and salty artichoke. Sounds amazing, right? It was. Very, very. Have a party you’re throwing soon? Make these, they won’t disappoint.
  • shrimp cucumber & curry cream cheese canapes – These were indulgent squares of flavorful goodness. It was almost overwhelming how much flavor they had in them, but then you reached for another and realized that you didn’t mind.
  • stuffed pumpkins with everything – Get up. Go to the store. Get the stuff. Go home. Make this recipe RIGHT NOW. Your mouth (and whoever you decide to share it with) will thank you. I could easily see this becoming a base for many recipes in my kitchen.
  • etouffee – This was a homemade recipe, hence no link. It was spicy, slightly creamy, and very flavorful. He even plated it for everyone so that it ended up beautiful when served.
  • nutella crepes – I only managed to eat half of one of these, but it was dangerously good. With banana and nutella inside and whipped cream on top – how could you say no?
  • apple clafouti – Almost like a pie, almost like a tart, and almost like coffee cake – it was amazing. And the very last thing that I could possibly eat.
  • eclairs – I couldn’t even have one of these, I was so full. But they looked amazing and I am sure they were delicious.

Food and wine and people everywhere – holy cow. Thank you to everyone who came to this dinner and made such wonderful food. All of it collectively knocked my socks off and I’m so happy it turned out the way it did. Three cheers to our France potluck!

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

Saffron Mussels Bisque

  • 2 pounds mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
  • 1 1/4 cups white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 leek, bulb only, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, finely crushed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 saffron threads
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Directions:  Place saffron threads in a small bowl, and cover with 1 tablespoon boiling water. Set aside.

Scrub mussels clean in several changes of fresh water and pull off beards. Discard any mussels that are cracked or do not close tightly when tapped. Put mussels into a saucepan with wine and water. Cover and cook over high heat, shaking pan frequently, 6-7 minutes or until shells open. Remove mussels, discarding any which remain closed. Strain liquid through a fine sieve and reserve.

Heat butter and oil in a saucepan. Add onion, garlic, leek and fenugreek and cook gently 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add saffron mixture, 2-1/2 cups of reserved cooking liquid and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, keep 8 mussels in shells and remove remaining mussels from shells. Add all mussels to soup and stir in chopped parsley, salt, pepper and cream. Heat through 2-3 minutes. Garnish with parsley sprigs, if desired, and serve hot.

Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes

  • 4 russet potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 onion, sliced into rings
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter a 1 quart casserole dish. Layer 1/2 of the potatoes into bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Top with the onion slices, and add the remaining potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a medium-size saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Mix in the flour and salt, and stir constantly with a whisk for one minute. Stir in milk. Cook until mixture has thickened. Stir in cheese all at once, and continue stirring until melted, about 30 to 60 seconds. Pour cheese over the potatoes, and cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake 1 1/2 hours in the preheated oven.

Easy Garlic Escargots

  • 1 (7 ounce) can escargots, drained
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 20 mushrooms, stems removed
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:     Place escargots in a small bowl, and cover with cold water; set aside for 5 minutes. This will help to remove the canned flavor they may have.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8×8 inch baking dish.

Drain the water from the escargots and pat dry with a paper towel. Melt butter with the garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the escargots and mushroom caps; cook and stir until the mushroom caps begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Whisk together wine, cream, flour, pepper, and tarragon in a small bowl until the flour is no longer lumpy. Pour this into the skillet, and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat, and use a spoon to place the mushrooms upside down into the prepared baking dish. Spoon an escargot into each mushroom cap. Pour the remaining sauce over the mushroom caps and into the baking dish. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over the top. Bake in preheated oven until the Parmesan cheese has turned golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.


Cook Islands…

Saturday, June 2 –

Dear Cook Islands, please be in my kitchen and my belly ALL of the time. You were probably the best fish recipe I have made for this entire project and one of the best I’ve ever made in my life. YUM.

I started with making the onion tart. I put it together just like the recipe said, with maybe a little bit extra of the Gruyere cheese because of the block that I got from the store. Into the oven it went and it smelled like heaven turning warm and bubbly. While that was cooking I put together a simple green salad and set that aside. Once everyone was ready for dinner I started on the fish. It was simple to coat the filets in the egg-mixture, then the coconut-mixture, and then into the pan with some oil. I cooked them until they were flaky but still moist.

Simple, heavenly, and delicious. I couldn’t have asked for a better meal. Just scroll down, copy the recipes, and make them soon. I promise you they won’t disappoint! The fish was flaky, sweet, and the topping was crumbly and had just enough spice to it. The onion tart was cheesy, warm, bubbly, and I had to move it away from my plate to stop eating it. And the salad was a perfect counter point of fresh veggie. Magnifique!

Now let me tell you about the drinks that we had. Two new guests for dinner joined us, Kid Kreole and Harvey Danger, and they brought something called “yucca”. Take a whole mound of lemons and squeeze the juice into a container. Add some of the rinds in with the juice. Add the juice of one orange. Add some bakers sugar. Add a whole fifth of golden tequila. Close the container and shake it continuously for several (maybe 5?) minutes. Pour into a glass and sip cautiously! It will be sweet, tart, smooth, and dangerously good. And you won’t even barely taste the tequila. Holy cow was it good!

And last, but not least, are the desserts for this dinner. Sassy Desserts hosted this dinner at her house (and let me make a mess of her kitchen!) and she made two different desserts. The first was sugared doughnuts, which actually gave her a little trouble in the beginning. When we showed up to her house, she had a batch of the dough sitting to rise. But it was super soupy, and didn’t look like it was going to get anywhere any time soon. So she made another batch with less liquid added and set it to keep warm on the warming part of her stove. The dough did get nice and fluffy while we were eating dinner, and the other just kind of stayed soupy. So we made doughnuts with the second batch of dough and man, were they good. Just like the little doughnuts you get at the carnival stands. I would recommend that you make these, but only if you have the self-control to stop after a few!

The second dessert was baked papayas. She peeled them, cut them in half, scooped out the seeds, covered them in sugar and baked them for the whole time the recipe says. Then you pour in coconut milk and let it get bubbly and then serve it. The flavor was… ok, but not really good. The texture was mushy and a little odd with the milk on top. It was interesting to try but I wouldn’t make it again.

Cook Islands
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.tamarind.co.ck and www.foodbycountry.com)

Pan-fried Fish Coated with Coconut & Spices

  • 750g.(1 ½ lb.) fish fillets
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 cup grated coconut fresh, lightly toasted or desiccated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoon garam masala or mild curry
  • ¼  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Oil for shallow frying.

Method: Cut fish in lengthwise pieces, around 10cm.x 4cm. (6”x2”) or similar.  Combine milk and egg, beating lightly till combined.  In a separate bowl mix together the flour with the coconut, salt, chilli powder, garam masala and pepper. Dip fish fillets in egg mixture, and then flour/coconut mixture, shaking off any excess.   Pour oil to about 2cm. (3/4”) deep in a frying pan, and cook fish on both sides till golden about 5 minutes a side. Fish can also be cooked in a deep-fryer.  Drain on kitchen paper.

Onion Tart

  • 1 quantity quiche pastry or short crust pastry, home-made or bought
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2 large onions, cut into quarters, then sliced very thin
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1½ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon wholegrain or French mustard
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • A few drops Tabasco
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere or Cheddar cheese 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

METHOD: Preheat oven to 200C (400F). Roll out pastry to fit 23cm (9”)) quiche or pie dish, prick the pastry all over with a fork, brush with egg white and chill while preparing filling. Cook onions in butter for about 10 minutes over a gentle heat, until very soft. Once the onions are soft, remove from heat and stir in the flour till well mixed in. Meanwhile beat together the eggs, cream, and milk with the mustard, parsley, salt, pepper and Tabasco. Put ½ cup Gruyere or Cheddar cheese into the pie dish, followed by the onions, then pour in the egg mixture & sprinkle remaining ½ cup cheese on top. Sprinkle with the Parmesan. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 160C (325F) and cook a further 30 minutes or until set. Allow to cool slightly before cutting. Serve the tart with a crisp green salad.

Variation (Bacon & Onion Tart.) Cooked chopped bacon or ham can be added to the filling. Stir into onion mixture.

Firifiri (Tahitian Sugared Doughnuts)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1½ to 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Peanut oil, for frying (another oil may be substituted)

Procedure

  1. Mix the flour and dry yeast. Add water and mix to form a soft dough.
  2. Add sugar and let rise 4 to 5 hours. Divide the dough into about 12 to 15 pieces.
  3. Pull them into “ropes” and twist to form figure eights.
  4. Fry in very hot peanut oil until golden. Roll in sugar after frying. Makes about 1 dozen.

Baked Papaya Dessert

  • 2 small ripe papayas, peeled, seeded, and cut in half lengthwise
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1½ cups coconut milk (canned, bottled, or fresh; see recipe)

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Place the papayas, cut side up, in a shallow baking dish.
  3. Sprinkle with the sugar and add the water.
  4. Bake uncovered in the middle of the oven for 1½ hours, or until the papayas are tender but still keep their shape.
  5. Every half hour, pull out the oven rack and baste the papayas with the liquid from the dish (pour it over them with a spoon).
  6. Raise the heat to 400°F and bake until the syrup gets thick and becomes the color of caramel, about 5 minutes.
  7. Turn off heat and pour the coconut milk into the center of the papayas.
  8. Leave them in the oven until the milk gets warm, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, or refrigerate and serve cold. Makes 4 servings.

Bosnia…

Friday, January 6 –

This dinner had four parts to it, all of them equally amazing. We had meatballs, yogurt sauce, cheese turnover, and salad. We also had a new face at the table, Missing Man, joining Wonderful Boyfriend, Roommate Extraordinaire, and Mr. Hero. Roommate Extraordinaire brought the wine of the evening, all of them rating nothing more than a “meh” at best. He tries to pick regionally appropriate wine, and apparently wine from Hungary just isn’t our taste. But it was a good experiment with flavors, that’s for sure!

So I started with the cheese turnover, which I probably screwed up right away. I didn’t thaw the phyllo dough for 10 hours… actually, I didn’t thaw it much at all. Oops! I took a pie pan and sprayed it with cooking spray and then I layered the phyllo, butter, and cheese mixture as it called for in the recipe. I used a cheddar/monterey jack blend that had jalapenos in it – because that’s what we had in the fridge to use. I put a baking moat under the pan just in case the butter and cheese decided to try to escape from the pan, and then I prayed that it puffed up like it should had I thawed the dough.

I moved onto making the meatballs, in which I used all pork meat. I shredded the onion in my brand new, extra fancy food processor, and then mixed all of the rest of the ingredients together as the recipe called. I used half smoked paprika and half regular. Once the balls were formed and into a hot pan I moved onto the yogurt sauce. I made that recipe exactly as it called with the exception of the garlic, which I, of course, quadrupled. I also didn’t let the cucumber drain for an hour. Instead I sprinkled the grated cucumber with a little bit of salt, let it rest for a few minutes, and then I packed it all into paper towels and then squeezed out the juices. Roommate Extraordinaire made us a green salad and Wonderful Boyfriend set the table and made sure the glasses were topped off.

Dinner was served! The meatballs were slightly spicy without too much heat. The yogurt sauce was perfect – not runny, not bland – just perfect. The cheese turnover was almost like a quiche made out of layers of phyllo dough. Not my choice, personally, but all of the guys at the table loved it so much that they had seconds. I would probably want to add some stronger flavored cheeses to it, or something. It was bland and greasy for my tastes. But we all know (by now at least) that I really love food when it has punch to its flavor.

Things I have learned: This is a repeat lesson from earlier, which I haven’t learned apparently. And that is to read the recipe the day before, in case there is something like thawing that requires more time than I have after work.

Bosnia
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: recipes.wikia.com)

Cevapcici

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 tbsp hot Hungarian paprika, or sweet paprika and a little cayenne
  • 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • olive oil for basting

Yogurt sauce

  • 1 pint yoghurt
  • ½ cucumber, peeled, grated and drained 1 hour
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and ground white pepper to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions

Mix all the ingredients, except the oil, thoroughly and roll the mixture into little “cigars” about 1 inch by 3 inches. Rub lightly with olive oil and grill or broil until done.

Burek

  • 10 sheets of filo dough
  • 4 – 5 eggs
  • 500 g ricotta cheese
  • 200 g of your 2 favorite cheeses
  • pepper
  • butter and oil

Directions

Mix the cheeses, eggs and pepper together. Set aside. Use a large soufflé or a deep pie dish for this one. Oil the bottom of the pan. Then put 1 sheet of filo dough and cover the bottom. Brush some butter over the filo dough. Repeat this again and then put some filling on. Repeat this until you use all of the filo dough sheets and cheese. Top with butter and put into a pre-heated oven at 350°F for 45–55 minutes. Do check from time to time and brush additional butter on the top. Serve in small triangles or enjoy as a dinner dish with a green salad. Ziveli!.


Albania…

Monday, July 18 –

Well, this dinner was pretty much a fail. And I have to say, holy butter smotheredness! I started with the veggies and feta (more about the feta later) and realized once I was partly into the recipe that it called for an entire stick of butter. Against my better judgement, I made it the way the recipe said. Oops! Next time I’ll adjust things that look a little too ridiculous. But I made it, and as you’ll see in the photo below, it was swimming in grease. The chicken was pretty good, but the walnuts made more of a coating than a sauce, and the flavor was a little bland. That recipe ALSO called for an entire stick of butter, but realizing my mistake with the first one I opted out of the second half of the stick in this recipe (thank goodness!). I served these dishes with a simple green salad to try to perk up the plate and cut down on the grease. My wonderful boyfriend said the chicken was “ok-ish” and the veggies and feta was like “someone scooped off the top of a greasy pizza” and put it on his plate.

Now if I could eat cheese on a regular basis, I probably would have kept the veggie dish and used it on rolls as a mock-pizza for lunches at work. I can’t, though, so we ended up throwing it away. That’s the fail. I HATE throwing food away. I did make it through eating a little bit of feta, which I would put under “the lesser evil” category; not as bad as cheese from a cow, but still noticeable to my crohn’s in the morning. At least I know I can sprinkle dishes with a little bit of it and still be ok (which will be wonderful once I get to Greece).

Next week will hopefully be something completely different: Algeria!

Finished dinner

Greasy veggies

Albania

(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.albaniantranslators.com/recipes.html)

Chicken or Veal with Walnuts (Albanian Name: Gjellë me Arra)

  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 15 finely crushed shelled walnuts
  • 2 beaten egg yokes
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/4 lb. sticks butter
  • 2-3 lbs of Veal or Chicken meat cut up in 1″ cubes

Cooking Instructions:  Place the meat or chicken in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until tender. Then remove the meat setting it aside in a dish while leaving the remaining juices in the saucepan. In another saucepan, add the flour and sauté over heat until it becomes light brown in color (do not overcook!) and add the half a stick of butter. Then, add the finely crushed walnuts, minced garlic clove, and the two egg yokes, stirring constantly. Add the juices from the other saucepan and sauté until all the ingredients thicken. Immediately remove from the heat to avoid solidifying the egg yolks. Then fold in either the meat or chicken. Pan fry the remaining half stick of butter until brown and pour over the four servings. Enjoy it. Servings: 4

Tirana Furghes with Peppers (Albanian Name: Fergesë e Tiranës me speca)

  • Green or Red Peppers, half- pound
  • Red Tomatoes, one pound
  • Salted Cottage Cheese or Greek Feta Cheese, half-pound
  • Flour, one tablespoon
  • Butter, one quarter-pound stick
  • Virgin Olive Oil, 3 tablespoons
  • Add Salt, Black Pepper, and Chili Pepper to your taste

Cooking Instructions:  Peel the skin off the tomatoes and peppers. Sauté them in a saucepan for 5-7 minutes only in the olive oil and then set them aside to cool down for 15 minutes. Dice them the way you like. In another saucepan, melt the butter. Add flour, cottage or Feta cheese, and black pepper, salt and chili pepper to taste. Mix all the ingredients together and place them in saucepan. Put saucepan in a preheated 350 oven for 15 minutes. Take out and serve immediately.