Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 7 - Antigua!!

This was by far the most beautiful meal I've prepared so far. Also the most expensive because the fish cost about $50. But it was SO worth it, and when one considers how much a similar meal would cost in a restaurant, it was WAY worth it.  I'm really partial to seafood and Caribbean/West Indian cooking, so I was very excited about this dinner.

So by now, everyone knows the history drill, which I feel compelled to give because you can't know the people and the country if you don't know where it is:

Antigua and Barbuda's rich history dates back to the Siboney followed by Arawaks, on to Christopher Columbus, through English and French settlers, the influence of sugar and the plantations, slavery and the years of colonialism. The island gained independence in 1981. Seems like every time Christopher Columbus' name shows up, bad things happen.

West Indian food has strong traditions. The best of it is delicious, with a good use of local fresh fish and the exceptional spices and fruits. In general local food includes stews accompanied by  starchy vegetables such as yams and of course, rice dishes.

For this meal, I made Red Snapper (warm water fish not known to the Eastern Coast) encrusted in coconut and thyme with a pineapple salsa; plantains with a mango sauce (bought at Whole Foods); sweet potatoes and sliced cucumbers. Dessert was sliced papaya and mangoes.

Red snapper fillet, papaya, mangoes, coconuts, sweet potatoes and pineapple

The meal was really easy to make, the flavors fresh and clean and the colors were beautiful

A big thank you to my love-girl, Sarah H. for her consultation on cooking the fish - I love you! The recipes follow:

For the pineapple salsa 
1 small pineapple, prepared, flesh diced 
1 small onion, finely diced 
1 small green pepper, finely diced 
1 tsp sweet paprika, or 1 tbsp diced pimento 
1 tsp white wine vinegar 
2 tbsp olive oil
For the fish 
4x 175g red snapper, or mahi mahi fillets 
2 limes, juice only, plus 1 tbsp extra 
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped 
4 tbsp finely grated fresh coconut, (available from Asian shops) 
4 sprigs thyme, or enough to give 2 tsp leaves 
2 tbsp vegetable oil 
1 tbsp butter
1. For the salsa, mix the pineapple with the onion, green pepper, paprika, sugar, white wine vinegar and olive oil. Leave on one side while you cook the fish.

2. Put the fish fillets in a shallow dish. Combine the juice from 2 limes with the garlic and pour over the fish. Leave on one side to marinate for 1-2 hours.

3. Mix the coconut with the thyme leaves and use to coat each fillet on both sides, pressing the coconut down well.

4. Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a deep frying pan set over a medium heat. Fry the fish for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden and crisp. About a minute before the fish is ready, add the butter and the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice to the pan. Transfer the fish to warmed plates and pour over any buttery juices. Accompany with pineapple salsa.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 6 - Angola is in the HOUSE!

All I can say is ... indescribable!  Something about this particular food felt inherently exotic and "un-American" in a really, really good way.

Some background and history about this formidable country that has struggled through occupation, war and eventual independence: Angola is located  in southwestern Africa surrounded by Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and the Atlantic Ocean on the western side. A former colony of Portugal, Angola has had a turbulent history, culminating with the 27 years long civil war. Because Angola was a colony of Portugal for many years, Angolan cuisine has many Portuguese influences. The cuisine of Angola can be called a ‘rainbow cuisine’ because it has integrated influences from India, Malaya and Europe. If you like curry, peanuts, plantains and spicy hot food as I do, you'll love this region!

For this meal I made Arroz Integral com Manteiga de Amendoim e Bananas and Chicken in Red Palm Oil. * Note - I did not use palm oil as that sh*t is really bad for you, plus it would be really hard to find around this white bread town. I did use peanut oil, but fried the chicken in canola oil.

  1. Pour the brown rice, tomato juice, and 2 cups water in a 2-quart pot over high heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until rice is done (45 to 50 minutes). Meanwhile, slice onions and green peppers and sauté in ¼ cup peanut oil until onions are soft. Add curry powder, salt, and pepper; mix well, heat for 1 minute. Add ¼ cup water, tomatoes, and Peanut butter. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. In a large skillet heat the remaining ¼ cup peanut oil. Peel bananas and cut into ½-inch slices. Sauté bananas until lightly golden on both sides.
  3. To serve, place the rice in a serving platter, pour the Onion sauce over the rice and top with the fried bananas. This dish goes well with grilled Chicken, Pork or Beef 

    1. In a large cast iron or frying skillet, melt the red palm oil. Heat the red palm oil over high heat until you notice the traditional "burn off" that is a result of not filtering the oil. You will notice a small amount of smoke followed by the oil darkening several shades. Turn the heat to medium.
    2. In a small bowl, mix the salt and spices. Dust the Chicken with the spice mixture. Place the Chicken in the skillet and cover with a lid. Cook each side of the Chicken until well browned and thoroughly cooked. Drain and serve with coconut jasmine rice and Red palm oil veggies.
For dessert, I served Champagne Mangoes - these are different from "regular" mangoes in that they are a little smaller (as is the seed) and 10x as sweet.  They needed no accompaniment.

Taking a little rest after a tasty meal and.... my trusty laptop, covered in Saran-wrap to protect it from splashing mango, peanut sauce and chopped onions :)


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Day 5 - Andorra

First, some background on this gorgeous little country, which I will admit I didn't even know existed until I embarked on this adventure. Aside from getting to cook and eat all kinds of interesting food, one of the best parts of this journey is learning about countries, their history and culture in a meaningful and permanent way.

Andorra is located in the middle of the Pyrenees between Spain and France. One of the most mountainous areas in Europe as well as one of the smallest countries covering just 468 km2, Andorran cuisine has both French and Spanish influences.

Tonight I made Wild Boar Stew served with an Andorran Rice and Mushroom dish and a Dandelion Greens and Pine Nut salad.

I marinated the boar for 24+ hours and cooked it pretty much the way beef stew is cooked. So far, the recipes I find on line have to be tweaked because details are often lost in translation. For example, you'll notice that the attached recipe for the stew doesn't specify the quantities to be added, so I just wing it  and hope for the best.  To make the stew richer, the recipe called for dark chocolate, so I used 65% bittersweet -

The rice dish called for varieties of mushrooms I was unable to find, so I used a combination of baby bella, shitake and oyster mushrooms - really, really good!

The dandelion greens salad was great - if you like bitter greens, which I do. I added pine nuts to the salad because I felt like it (and Andorrans use a fair amount of pine nuts in their cooking anyway).

AND - I served a baguette with GOAT MILK BUTTER: shout out to Meyenberg Goat Milk Products in California: for some of the best butter I've ever had and that complimented the country meal beautifully.

My family rates this meal their favorite so far.

Lastly, or perhaps, firstly, a kiss, hug and eternal love to my Mom, Liz Gude,  the best and most intuitive cook I know who taught me everything I know about food, family and mothering - I love you!

Recipes Below:

Wild Boar Stew

  • Wild boar
  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Cognac
  • Bacon
  • Vinegar
  • Red wine
  • Almonds
  • Crackers
  • Dark chocolate
  • Garlic
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Cloves
  • Bay leaves
  • Nutmeg
  • Pepper
  • Oil
  • Salt 
Andorran Mushroom and Rice
Cut the wild boar into small pieces and place them in a ceramic pot with the salt, pepper, garlic, chopped onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves, cloves, oregano, thyme, nutmeg and cognac, as well as a splash of vinegar and a drop of oil and cover it all with red wine.
Leave it to stand for a minimum of 12 hours. Let the wild boar drain well and fry it in oil in a large frying pan. At the same time, bring all the ingredients of the marinade to the boil in a pot until the carrots are cooked.
Strain it all and put it in a casserole with the wild boar. At the same time, fry the pieces of bacon and the onions in the oil in which we cooked the wild boar. Add the wild boar and a bowl of water, then cover and leave it to simmer very gently
When it is almost done, add garlic, almonds, chocolate and crackers, all finely-chopped and mixed together. Stir it well, add more salt if necessary and, after 30 more minutes, it is ready to be served.
You can also add chestnuts or potatoes, depending on your personal tastes. If the pork is very well done you will need to add more onion to counteract the strong taste of the meat. Reheating this dish will only improve it.

  • 6 cups rice
  • 14 cups water or stock
  • 1kg assorted mushrooms (scotch bonnet, woodwax, milk-cap...)
  • 50g butter
  • 2 onions
  • 2 bulbs garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 1 sprig parsley
  • olive oil
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
In an aluminium casserole, sauté the finely-chopped onion, the chopped garlic and parsley, and the bay leaves.
When the onion is transparent, add the mushrooms and leave it all to cook for a further five minutes. Next, add the white wine.
Add the rice and stir it a bit. Next, pour on the boiling water or stock, adjust the seasoning and cook it for about two minutes on a high heat. Then put it in the oven on 180ºC for two more minutes.
This rice is very suitable for serving with meats.

Dandelion Salad

  • Dandelions
  • Bacon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oil
  • Vinegar

Clean the dandelions thoroughly and put them to soak in water in a cool place.
Next, drain them and mix them well with a lot of oil, a little splash of vinegar, salt and pepper. Then add the bacon - which you will have fried in very hot oil in advance - chopped up into little bits, while it is still slightly warm.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Wild Boar Has Arrived

The wild boar arrived today via FedEx - Even the delivery guy was psyched!  A big shout out to D'Artagnan, Inc. in Newark, NJ ( ) for getting this order to me so quickly and inexpensively, packed on ice in a reusable container! Now for the fun part. Because boar is considered a game animal, it's pretty tough, so the Andorran Wild Boar Stew recipe I'll be using calls for marinating the meet for 48 hours: check out the marinade ingredients:
  • salt, pepper
  • garlic
  • chopped onions
  • carrots
  • celery
  • bay leaves, cloves, oregano, thyme, nutmeg
  • cognac, as well as a splash of vinegar and a drop of oil
  • cover it all with red wine.
I will be serving on Sunday.

Lastly, my friend Mary gave me the idea to chart the countries I've covered on a map, so I dug this one out my closet from my teaching days. I've put star stickers on the 4 countries I've already cooked in: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria and Andorra...

Stay tuned~

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Algeria - day 3

How awesome is Algerian food? Pure and total f*cking awesomeness. This land,  so steeped in rich and mysterious tradition produces food with some of my favorite ingredients: cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, hot peppers. lemons, mint, cilantro,onions, garlic, parsley, a whole variety of vegetables,  couscous and of course, olive oil  -- all influenced by French cuisine; could it get any better?

First of all, I knew before I even started cooking that I would be instantly transported to this ancient country. My kids came sniffing around and volunteered to taste test and photograph the process...hence the new "artsy" pix.

I decided to make a meal, rather than just a dish to fully experience a typical dinner. I made a traditional Algerian tomato & cilantro salad and a chicken and vegetable couscous (leave out the chicken and you have a great vegetarian dish) . A number of my friends have asked me to post the recipes (thanks for the suggestion Lulu and Gail!), so they're included here. And my old (not literally) friend Jimmy encouraged me to journal about this experience - thank you! I think food and eating is best when it's a total sensory experience: smell, taste, texture and color. These dishes hit all of those elements and then some.

And another interesting thing is happening. My pantry. My house was built in 1840 and like most houses of this colonial era, it has one bathroom. I had the option to turn my pantry into a bathroom several years ago, but NO, I chose to keep it as a pantry. Since I've started this project, it's filling up with cool stuff. Also, the guys in the produce department of my local Market Basket are into this project now (since I've been back & forth about 20x in the past 4 days), and my local butcher is game (get it, pun? heh). This was my hope; that through this project, a network of people as whacked out and hungry as I would develop. Plus, how great is is it to go around the world without leaving my kitchen?

Finally, what is a country without music? So from here on in, I'm going to find music (that I like) that represents the country I'm cooking in...attached is a band for your listening pleasure- I think the Clash would approve ... 


Banadura Salata B'Kizbara (Tomato and Coriander Salad)


  • ½ cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1 small hot chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 5 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled
  • 4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Slice the peeled tomatoes and place in a bowl.
  2. Sprinkle the chopped coriander over the tomatoes.
  3. Mix the chopped chili pepper with the lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  4. Beat the olive oil into the chili-lemon juice mixture.
  5. Pour over the tomatoes and coriander.
  6. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.
Makes 6 servings.

Algerian Chicken Couscous
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion -- chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne
  • 1 Can Tomato -- diced
  • 2 Medium Carrots -- chopped
  • 2 Stalks Celery -- chopped
  • 1 Cup Cauliflower -- chopped
  • 1 Medium Red Bell Pepper -- chopped
  • 1 Medium Turnip
  • 1 Cup Chicken Broth
  • 1 Pound Chicken Breast -- strips
  • 1 Medium Zucchini -- dials
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Couscous
  • 3 Tablespoons Parsley
Directions Saute in oil, onion and garlic 5 mintues. stir in seasonings. Add tomatoes, carrots, clelry, cauliflower, pepper, turnip and broth. Boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add chicken and zucchini, 10 more milnutes. Cook couscosu as directed, fluff with fork, stir into mixture. Serves 4

Monday, April 19, 2010

Albania - Day 2

First of all, a huge thank you to Jimmy K for connecting me to his friend, Esat whose family immigrated to NYC when he was a young child. He shared some of his childhood food memories with me, and gave me the 411 on real Albanian cooking and commonly used ingredients - I hope he pursues his idea of writing a contemporary Albanian cookbook!

Tonight I made Lamb Stew with Okra and for desert, Walnut Cake with a Lemon Glaze. Both dishes were infused with wonderful ingredients: garlic, onions, celery, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, lemons, thyme, walnuts and yogurt.

My human guinea pigs (a.k.a. dudes) agreed that the stew was fantastic...I will admit to adding about a 1/2 cup of red wine and about 8 tiny new potatoes and parsley for color - I couldn't help myself. The cake was crazy-good. As it was baking, I made a lemon syrup from sugar, water, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, juice from 3 lemons and grated lemon peel. Once baked, I poured the syrup over the hot cake and returned it to oven or 10 minutes. The cake absorbed the syrup, and any that wasn't absorbed collected on the bottom of the pan and made a kind of sponge cake whose flavor reminded me somewhat of baklava. It was the perfect combination of sweet, savory and tart.

Albanian food is a mixture of the national cuisines of the surrounding countries. In time, it has accumulated concepts from both the Balkan and the Mediterranean nations. Together with the Greek and the Turkish cuisines, the cuisine of Albania is one of the most famous in the Mediterranean area. However, depending on a family's economic status, their diet can range from being almost exclusively vegetarian (by necessity) or rich in protein (for the most excluding pork), vegetables and rice. Olive oil is the primary fat source - amen.

Here are a few facts about the beautiful country of Albania:
Situated on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, with Montenegro and Serbia to the north, Macedonia to the east, and Greece to the south.
-Slightly larger than Maryland.
-Population: 3,619,778
-Capital: Tirana
-Currency: Lek

It was an honor and a privileged to cook and sample (albeit as a total amateur) this beautiful country's food.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Afghanistani Meal - Day 1

Afghanistani Meal - Day 1

After surfing around numerous sites, I settled on Chelo Nachodo,(chicken & chick-pea stew with rice) a family-style dish. It's a substantial stew, well seasoned in Afghan style and combined w/a crispy-bottomed rice which provided a nice contrasting texture to stew. Ingredients included: Chicken, chick-peas, onions, celery w/leaves,carrot,zucchini, ,cumin seed, coriander, fresh dill, lemon juice .

It was pretty good, but not that interesting. I liked the chic peas and dill, and the crispy rice (first time I've ever made it that way) was very good.

The overall consensus was okay, but kind of bland.

What's Cooking in your World?

About a year ago, my son Tim asked me if I would cook a meal from a different country at least one night a week. It sounded like a cool idea, as I love to cook and am blessed with a family of adventurous eaters, but like so many other things I think about yet never do, I put the idea on the back burner, so to speak, and pretty much left it there to simmer.

Last night we watched Julia&Julia. When it was over, Timmy said, "Well, if SHE could get through an entire cookbook in 365 days, why couldn't you make a meal from a different country once a week, huh?" - Hmmm...the little sh*t threw down a challenge!

The Almanac lists 193 countries in the world. Turns out, this is a somewhat dynamic number though, as new countries are continually formed depending on political agendas - usually war. Given that reality, this project will try to reflect our ever changing global map, while doing justice to each country's regional cuisine. In the process, I hope to expand my world views and cultural insight, one meal at a time.

So here's my goal: Prepare 1, possibly 2 meals per week from a different country, until I've worked my way through all the World's countries in alphabetical order.

First stop: Afghanistan

p.s. I'd really like to communicate with people from around the world to collect authentic recipes!