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Korea…

Friday, August 23 – photo 1

Sooooooooooooooo much good food. This, I’m pretty sure, was one of the best blog dinners ever. My mouth still waters thinking about it, and it happened two weeks ago!

I made Bibim Bap, using the marinade recipe below instead of bottled sauce. I also purchased cabbage kimchi, seaweed salad, and pickled ginger to go on the side. Sir VJ and RubsWithLove made short ribs, pork belly, mushrooms, stuff for lettuce wraps, and a bean sprout salad. They also purchased cucumber kimchi. Sir VJ had a table-top grill that he set up outside on the picnic table and grilled the ribs, pork belly, and mushrooms right in front of us. It was amazing times a million.

I made the marinade and put it into a ziplock bag (I don’t have a juicer, so for the pear I just put it into a food processor and then strained the juice). Then I cut the beef (which was actually a sirloin cut) into thin strips and put them into the marinade. I put that in the fridge while I prepped the veggies and the hot sauce. I cut and sliced and prepped all of the veggies into their own bowls and set them aside. Then I made the hot sauce into a bowl and set that aside. I made the executive decision to use just one pot of boiling water to cook all of the veggies, even though it says not to. How bad could it be? Turns out, it wasn’t bad at all – it worked just fine. I started with the carrots, then the zucchini, then the mushrooms, then the sprouts, and last was the spinach. Once all of the veggies were done, I put the beef and marinade into a hot pan and cooked until *just* done enough. While I was doing that, WingWoman cooked us some fried eggs, leaving the yolk as runny as possible. photo 2

Into the bowl went rice, then some of each of the cooked veggies, then little bits of ripped up seaweed sheets, then sesame seeds, then the meat, then the egg, and then I dumped the cooked sauce over the top of all of the bowls.

We dug into the Bibim Bap (read: devoured) and there was much “mmmmmmmmmmm”ing going on. With the short ribs, pork belly, mushrooms, garlic, and sides, there was so much food I didn’t want to get up from the table. Absolutely epic dinner. Thank you to all of my Korea dinner friends, it was a night I’m going to remember and drool over for a very long time!

Korea
(recipe borrowed from the cooks at: http://recipes.wikia.com and http://koreanfood.about.com)

Bibim Bap

Beef

  • 4 slice bulgogi beef – (⅛ lb)
  • 2 tbsp bottled bulgogi marinade
  • 1 tsp oil

Vegetables

  • 4 x fresh shiitake mushrooms sliced
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tbsp bottled bulgogi marinade
  • 2 x carrots
  • 4 cup spinach
  • 1½ cup soybean sprouts
  • 1 large zucchini

Rice

  • 2 cups short-grain rice

Sauce

  • ¼ cup red pepper paste (kochujang)
  • ½ tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 garlic clove minced

Assembly

  • ½ cup bottled kimchi cut thin strips
  • 1½ tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • ½ sht nori seaweed – (8″ square) sliced into fine, thin strips
  • 1 fried egg

Directions:

Beef:    Place the beef in a bowl, add the bulgogi marinade, cover and refrigerate, 1 hour.    Remove the beef from the marinade and cut into ½-inch slices.    Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.    Add the beef and stir-fry until cooked through, 1 minute.    Note: cook the beef just before assembling the dish.

Vegetables:    Cook the mushrooms in the oil and the marinade in a skillet over high heat until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.    Set aside.    Cut the carrots into very thin, long strips.    The spinach, carrots and soy bean sprouts need to be blanched in separate pots of boiling water.    Blanch the spinach 30 seconds.    Drain and squeeze dry.    Blanch the carrots, 1 minute; the soybean sprouts, 30 seconds.    Cut the zucchini into very thin slices.    Cook the zucchini in boiling water until tender, about 3 minutes.

Rice:    Wash the rice several times in cold water until the water is clear, rubbing the rice well.    Drain.    Place the rice in a heavy pot; add 3 cups of cold water.    Cover and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and steam, covered, until the rice is tender, about 30 minutes.

Sauce: Combine the red pepper paste, sesame seeds, honey, oil and garlic in a small bowl.    Set aside.

Assembly:     Place the hot cooked rice in a large serving bowl.    The vegetables can be at room temperature.    Arrange them on top of the rice in separate groups, along with the kimchi.    Sprinkle with the sesame oil and sesame seeds.    Arrange the beef on top and a small pile of nori strips at one side. Place the egg in the center.Pass the sauce in a separate bowl. Add this to taste and stir it into the mixture, preferably with a long-handled Korean spoon.

Korean Meat Marinade (Bulgogi sauce)

  •     3 Tbsp chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
  •     3 Tbsp soy sauce
  •     2 Tbsp sugar
  •     1 Tbsp honey
  •     2 Tbsp fresh squeezed juice from an Asian pear
  •     1 Tbsp Japanese rice wine (mirin)*
  •     1 Tbsp sesame oil
  •     3 green onions, finely chopped (including white part)
  •     1 tsp pepper

Preparation:    Mix marinade together until sugar and honey are dissolved/distributed.    Can be stored in refrigerator or freezer for use on beef, pork, and chicken.    (Serves 4)   *If you don’t have access to the rice wine, a splash of dry white wine will also work here.

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Iran…

Friday, April 19 –

It was raining like crazy on Friday, and this dinner was just BestestFianceEver and me, so really, we didn’t have to make a big production out of it. Instead of grilling the meat we just put it in the marinade with photochopped tomatoes and onions, let it sit for a few hours, then baked it for a short amount of time on a high heat (leaving the middle of the meat a little bit pink). Served with rice and the spinach yogurt sauce, it was a simple, easy to make dinner. The spinach dip I cheated on measuring anything and just used a big handful of spinach, with a quarter of an onion, a couple of spoonfuls of yogurt, a few chopped garlic cloves, and some salt and pepper. Once mixed I put it in the fridge to sit until the meat was ready. Dinner was served! Thanks to BestestFianceEver with the help on the marinade and dishes (as always).

The lamb was tender, but didn’t have much flavor. I would have liked more punch out of the sauce. The spinach yogurt mix went well with the rice and lamb in one big forkful. I thought that all-in-all it went well, it just needed a little bit more kick. (But really, I usually always think that!)

Iran
(recipe borrowed from the cooks at: www.iranchamber.com)

Kabab Barg (lamb kebabs)

  • 800 grams boneless lamb
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 large grated onions
  • 1 clove of garlic (crushed)
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sumac (optional)

Directions:

Prepare marinade: combine olive oil, lime juice, onions, garlic, saffron, salt and black pepper. Cut lamb into 1 cm thick and 4-5 cm long pieces. Do not remove all the fat as you will need it to melt. Marinate overnight (preferably 24 hours) in refrigerator. Container should be covered.

Thread lamb on long, thin metal skewers. Thread whole tomatoes separately on another skewer. Brush with marinade. Barbeque for about 5 minutes on each side, turning frequently. Serve hot with plain rice (Polow or Chelow) or on middle-eastern bread. If served with rice, some sumac may be sprinkled on.

Borani Esfenaaj (spinach yogurt dip)

  • 1 kg fresh spinach
  • 250 grams yogurt
  • 2 onions (thinly sliced)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:  Wash spinach and cut into small pieces. Fry onions and garlic in oil until slightly golden. Add spinach and fry together over medium heat until cooked. Let it cool down completely in the refrigerator. Add salt and pepper to yogurt to taste and beat the yogurt until. Add spinach to yogurt and mix well. The mix should be thick and homogeneous. Now this tasteful side-dish is ready to serve.


Grenada…

Monday, January 14 –

This dinner definitely won a place in my top ten dinners from this project. BestestFianceEver even agreed with me, which makes it super, extra delicious times two. If you like pork loin, you will love this recipe.photo(12)

I started with the pork roasting part of the recipe by chopping the shallots, dumping them into a mixing bowl, then throwing all of the spices on top. I put the two tenderloins (that came in one 2-3/4 pound package) into the bowl and moved them around to coat with the mixture. Most everything stuck to them without much effort. Then I put the spiced pork onto a roasting rack and put it in the oven at 450*.

Next was the sauce – mince the ginger and throw it all into a pan, let simmer. I let it simmer almost the whole time the pork was baking so that it was nice and gingery.

Finally, the salad. I threw the black beans and frozen corn into a colander and rinsed it all at the same time. Then the corn and black beans were put into a mixing bowl and I added the rest of the recipe, mixing well.

For plate presentation I put a pile of spinach leaves (torn into more bite-sized pieces) in the middle, scooped the salad on top, placed slices of avocado onto the top of the salad, then the sliced pork. It did take longer for the pork to reach 155* in the middle than the recipe said, so it is important to check it before you cut into it. Also, remember to let your cooked meat rest for a few minutes so that the juices all stay inside the meat. Slice, then serve. Drizzled over the top of the whole thing was the orange-ginger sauce. Dinner was served!

The meat was juicy, the sauce was perfectly gingery, the salad was a nice counter flavor – all in all it was amazing. I will be making this dinner and variations of it much more often now. Please, do try this at home!

Grenada
(recipe borrowed from the cooks at: www.caribbeanchoice.com)

Roast Pork with Black Bean, Heart of Palm, and Corn Salad

Roast Pork:

  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 3/4-pound pork tenderloins

Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Also:

  • Fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted, sliced crosswise
  • Minced fresh parsley

Black Bean, Heart of Palm, and Corn Salad:

  • 1 16-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen corn, thawed, drained
  • 1 7 1/2-ounce can hearts of palm, drained, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

METHOD / DIRECTIONS:

For Roast Pork: Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine shallots, bay leaves, salt, allspice and ginger in small bowl. Add generous amount of pepper. Rub mixture into pork. Set on rack in roasting pan, Roast pork until thermometer inserted into centers registers 150°F., about 25 minutes. Cool slightly. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Bring pork to room temperature before serving.)

For Sauce: Combine first 6 ingredients in heavy small saucepan. Season with pepper. Simmer until slightly syrupy, about 10 minutes. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

For Salad: Mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. (Salad can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Line platter with spinach. Mound black bean salad in center. Slice pork. Alternate pork and avocado slices around salad. Discard bay leaves from sauce and drizzle sauce over pork and avocado. Sprinkle with parsley.


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.


Cameroon…

Friday, March 16 –

This dinner was just the three of us at the house, and a lot less hectic. But the food was definitely worth making!

There were four parts to this dinner – the chicken and veggie mixture, the fried spinach, the fried plantains, and the rice. I started with the chicken dish, getting all of the veggies cut and ready to go. I made it almost exactly as it was written… the changed I made were to put in a three inch piece of chopped up ginger (with bigger pieces so that you got the fun ginger zing as you bit into the pieces), I added four cloves of garlic instead of one, and I also added some salt and pepper.

As that was cooking down, I put the rice together. I decided last-minute to actually make rice in the rice cooker with coconut milk, bay leaves, and chives mixed in instead of the recipe given. I did that because once I got to really reading the recipes, the veggies in them were mostly the same! So instead of duplicating the flavors, I just cut the veggies out and kept the coconut flavor. Unfortunately, the rice didn’t soak up the coconut milk as much as it did the water, so it turned out crunchy and mushy at the same time. Weird, and not something I’ll do again!

Once the rice was cooking, I got started on the fried spinach and the fried plantains. I made the spinach exactly as written except I sliced the mushrooms instead of quartering them. And I fried the plantains plain in a little oil until they were brown on both sides. (And yes, we absolutely made sure they were ripe first!)

Everything came together perfectly. I love it when that happens. We dished up, poured some wine, and toasted to friendship. The chicken was a little drier than I like, and I am not entirely sure why. It might be that I let it simmer too long, but the flavors were great. The ginger was definitely a kick in the taste buds – in such a good way. The spinach and mushrooms were slightly garlicky and definitely a good addition to the chicken. I probably could have mixed it altogether and it would have been great. The plantains were ok – not my favorite way of eating them so far. And the rice was a fail – but I’m glad it was there to soak up the sauce from the chicken dish.

Things I have learned: Green beans wilt pretty quickly when you let them simmer. Don’t lose the crunch next time!

Cameroon
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.allrecipes.com, www.cdkitchen.com, and www.celtnet.org.uk)

Cameroonian Fried Spinach

  • 1 (10 ounce) package baby spinach, rinsed
  • 1 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • garlic powder to taste

Directions: Heat the olive oil in a wok, or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and onion, and saute until they are about halfway done. Dump in the spinach, and liberally sprinkle with garlic powder. Fry until the spinach has wilted, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Buea Coconut Joloffe Rice (Cameroon) Recipe

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon tomato puree
  • 1 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • hot pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 small slice ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1 1/4 cup long-grain rice, washed
  • 1/4 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small green pepper, seeded and chopped

PREPARATION:  Fry the onion in hot oil, in a large saucepan, for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato puree. While stirring, fry over a moderate gas for 5 – 6 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup of the coconut milk and continue to cook until the mixture is reduced and thick. Add the rest of the coconut milk, carrots, hot pepper, ginger, bayleaf and salt. Bring to the boil, and add the rice and the remaining vegetables, stirring with a fork. Reduce to a low heat, cover and cook until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Remove the lid, cover with foil and replace the lid until the rice is done.

Poulet Directeur Général

  • 1 chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 60ml oil
  • 2cm piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 ‘Maggi’ cube or a chicken stock cube with a pinch of ground cumin and coriander seeds
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • handful of French beans with ends trimmed
  • 3 sweet bell peppers, de-seeded and chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • optional: plantains for frying

Method: Combine the chicken, 1 tbsp oil, spices, carrots, green beans and peppers in a bowl then allow to marinate for at least two hours. Heat the remaining oil in a casserole dish or large frying pan then add the onions and fry briefly until they just begin to soften. Add the chicken then fry over high heat until the pieces are lightly browned all over. Add the remaining ingredients, except the tomatoes then reduce the heat to as simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is done and most of the liquid has evaporated (add a little water if it becomes too dry) then add the tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes more. Serve with rice or Baton de Manioc and fried plantains.


Andorra…

Wednesday, August 10 –

This dinner was a challenge to my sense of timing, more than anything. It is always a trick to get stuff to the table, all being warm and done at the same time. I started with the trinxat, which is basically a cabbage, potato patty. I chopped up two potatoes and a half a head of cabbage into roughly one- to two-inch pieces and dumped them in a big pot of boiling water. Then I moved on to braising the spinach (which if you’re like me and you’re not sure how exactly to braise something, youtube is a great resource). I used an entire package of spinach from the premade salad mix section of the grocery store. Then I took the spinach out of the pan, finished the recipe, and mixed it all together in a bowl and wrapped it in aluminum foil to keep it warm.

This was about the time that I started checking on the potatoes and cabbage, and started on the bread mixture. When someone says to me, “Get some good, crusty bread.” I usually head straight to the loaves of garlic rustic bread, which is exactly what I did here. I toasted the slices and spread a little bit of roasted garlic on top, topped with the tomatoes and serrano ham like the recipe calls for. It looked like a little open-faced sandwich of goodness.

The potatoes and cabbage were done by now, and I set my Wonderful Boyfriend to smashing it all together with the garlic. I diced and cooked the bacon, leaving the bacon grease in the pan. Our Roommate Extraordinaire made the patties and I cooked them in the bacon grease. (Yes, I really did. Everything is better with bacon. And garlic. And wine. But really, bacon makes my world a better place. Both the guys agreed wholeheartedly.)

While this was all being put together, I figured that I had to do something with the other half of the cabbage. Cabbage is dangerous to crohn’s, so I don’t cook with it much and I didn’t want it to go bad in our refrigerator. So I made coleslaw. I know, it’s not really something that screams “Andorra” from the recipes that I read, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to make as a side. So I threw it together to go with the dinner we were making.

We ate outside, and both my Wonderful Boyfriend and Roommate Extraordinaire made sounds of contentedness throughout the meal. I would have to say that the spinach dish was my least favorite, but the dish was almost empty at the end of the meal, so I think the guys liked it.

After dinner was over, I started on the honeydew dish, which while it was cooking smelled like candied heaven. It made a lot more than we could eat in one sitting, so it will definitely be warmed and appreciated again over the next couple of days. The weird thing about this recipe was the way the sugar behaved. The recipe said to let the sugar melt over the heat and then throw in the melon. I did, and it instantly hardened into candy crystals. I let the little pieces melt again into the melons but had to scoop out the bigger crunchy pieces. I let the melons warm up and then I sprinkled a little more sugar on top to make up for what I scooped out. It worked much, much better that way. Then I added the honey as a drizzle from the bottle, and then juice from a whole lemon and a whole orange. I used white wine and poured about a quarter of the bottle into the mix. I let it bubble for a little bit and then took it off the heat so it would thicken. We were too impatient to wait for it to cool very much, so I scooped it over the vanilla ice cream and it turned into a melty, delicious mess. People with more willpower than us would probably have more luck waiting for it to cool a little longer so the ice cream wouldn’t turn into instant soup, but it tasted amazing anyway. Believe me, all three bowls were scraped clean of any lingering sauce.

Things I have learned: Making this many dishes at the same time is possible to do by yourself, but having an extra set of hands is nice. Don’t turn down help when easy stuff like smashing potatoes can be done out of the way. Cold melons makes hot sugar crystallize. And don’t be afraid to add something extra to use up an ingredient that would otherwise go bad, it might be just the right touch to round out the meal.

Recommendations from our sommelier, Leigh Olson: Today’s meal, with it very diverse flavors and ingredients, gives us an opportunity to do some course pairing.  Simply put, each course will have a specific wine matched to the dish.  Though not necessary, it is fun.

For the sake of tradition, we will assume that the salads ~ Catalan Spinach Salad and Andorran Onion Salad with Honey ~ would be served first.  Both salads have an underlying “green” flavor that is punctuated with some sweetness (raisins in the case of the spinach salad and honey for the onion salad).  In steps Sauvignon Blanc with its bright green grass flavor to complement the green flavors of these two salads.  Truth be told, if you are serving a salad this wine is a pretty sure bet.

Next comes the Trinxat.  This course is pure comfort on a plate. There is nothing pretentious about the ingredients or the preparation. Just earthy, smooth  flavors.  In my mind a French Chablis would work wonderfully.  The brisk, flinty flavors would be a perfect contrast to the silky textures of the Trinxat.

For our last course, Pan con Tomate, we will end with a Soave (pronounced So-Ah-Ve as in Rico).  This is a wine from the northeast region of Venento in Italy and is a very subtle wine that will play nicely with the tomatoes and the ham.

Fun Facts:  Sauvignon Blanc was dubbed so due to its early origins as an indigenous grape in Southwest France ~ sauvage (“wild”) and blanc (“white”). The Chardonnay grape grown in the Burgundy Region that creates French Chablis has endured The French Revolution, The Little Ice Age, the Prussian Invasion, an odium outbreak, the phylloxera epidemic and two World Wars. Soave is experiencing a revival in the United State somewhat due to the movie “Letter to Juliet” which was filmed partly in the town of Soave, Italy.  Oh, how our movies inspire us!

Serving Temps:  Mid 40’s – 50 degrees.  No wine cooler, no problem.  Store your wines in the refrigerator and pull it out 45 minutes before serving.

Vessel of Choice:  General White Wine Glass with a tulip shape to capture the aromas of these three whites. Remember, if you can’t smell the wine, you can’t taste the wine.

Andorra
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.alleasyworld.com, www.curiositykilledthecook.blogspot.com, and www.celtnet.org.uk)

Trinxat

  • Savoy or green cabbage
  • 10 thick slices of salt pork or bacon, diced
  • 2 lbs. potatoes, peeled
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

Directions:  Boil the cabbage and potato until well done and very tender. Mash both ingredients together with a potato masher. Season to taste with salt, and set aside. In a frying pan, lightly brown salt pork or bacon on both sides, drain on kitchen roll and set aside. Fry garlic, in olive oil until soft, 2-3 minutes; then add oil and garlic to cabbage mixture, mixing until thoroughly combined, but still a bit chunky; Stir in the bacon or salt pork. Drop the mixture into hot oil by large spoonfuls, pat into smooth patties with a spatula and fry until browned on both sides, or mound onto a serving platter without frying and garnish with any leftover bacon.

Catalan Spinach Salad

  • 2 bunches of spinach, chopped and blanched
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (I used slivered almonds)

Directions:  Wash, chop, and blanch the spinach. Warm the oil and garlic in a pan until the garlic turns golden, then add the raisins and nuts, cooking until the raisins are plump. Place spinach in a bowl and top with the raisin/garlic/nut mixture.  Serves 4

Honeydew Melon with Caramelia Sauce

  • 1 Medium honeydew melon, peeled, de-seeded and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 4 tbsp Sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 120ml (just under a half cup) White or red wine
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • The juice of half an orange
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • vanilla ice cream

In a large frying pan, cook the sugar until it melts then add the honeydew melon and stir to coat in the sugar before adding the remainder of the ingredients. Continue cooking until the sauce begins to thicken and bubble then serve immediately with vanilla ice cream.

Bread with Tomatoes (Pan con Tomate)

  • 4 thick slices of good, crusty, bread
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 large, very ripe, tomatoes
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 4 slices Serrano ham

Method: Toast the bread, then rub it all over with the garlic. Halve the tomatoes then rub one half over the top of each piece of toast, squeezing them to get the pulp out. Season with salt, drizzle a little olive oil over the top, add the Serrano ham and serve.