Thursday, July 7, 2011

Blueberries Two Ways

Continuing with my current berry obsession I bought 5 pints of blueberries from HEB the other day because they cost $1.67 each. 5 pints of blueberries - local blueberries - for less than $10! I am only surprised that I didn't go and buy 20. Nevertheless, I was left with 8 cups of blueberries sitting in my fridge, twice as much as I needed for my open-face blueberry - my concession to patriotic desserts. Also, one of my favorite pies to make if only because it is so simple. You prebake a pie shell - homemade or store-bought, I don't judge - then add your slightly cooked blueberry filling. Chill for a couple of hours and slice into berry heaven. The filling takes less than 15 minutes to make and once you've tasted you'll wonder why anyone would bother buying canned blueberry pie filling, anyway.

 The remaining blueberries left me in a bind. Sure, I could leave them to be eaten as snacks or with yogurt, though I had no yogurt, but without fail some of them (most of them, likely) would go moldy before I (or Seth) had a chance to finish them. I hate to let food spoil. And yet I'm not much of a breakfast person in that I don't care for breakfast, at all (I'd rather wait for lunch) so blueberry pancakes were out. I could only see one way out: I had to make another dessert. Le sigh, my life is so very difficult.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Though my last post was on willful ignorance, specifically of international and national news, I simply have too much American spirit - in the form of patriotic Crown Royal and tequila, just as the Founding Fathers intended - to write about anything other than: Happy Fourth of July! Go watch 1776 and be merry!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Apple Raspberry Pie

I love berries, from the exotic lingon to the oft-despised rasp, the flashy strawberry to the humble blue: I want them all. With berry season in full-swing I have been buying pints and quarts every time I enter a store, then gobbling them by the handful like the candy they are. It's been three years since I've had fresh berries, considering they weren't available in Uganda (not the right climate) and while blueberries and blackberries were occasionally imported to Kuwait, Seth and I looked at the price of a pint and decided to go on a trip to England, instead. But here in Texas I have fresh berries grown right in the states. Not since LA I have tasted anything so sweet.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Official Hiatus

All right, after several unofficial hiatuses I will now declare an official 1-month hiatus. In addition to working again (seriously, how to people have the energy to work, enjoy life AND blog about food? Still working on proper scheduling) Seth and I are apartment-hunting and my mind is not on food. My dinner tonight was chips, salsa and sour cream; the thought necessary to even mix the salsa and sour cream together stressed my brain enough to convince me a break was needed.

Once we are settled in our new place (hopefully in a month!) Cooking the Globe will be back, good as new - or maybe even better!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pasteles - a Taste of Puerto Rico in Austin!

After (another) unplanned hiatus - this time three weeks! - I decided to come back big. I tackled pasteles, a kind of Puerto Rican tamale, which my friend Rachel requested I make a couple of months ago. I was slow getting to it, but I blame my sister-in-law for inducing me to read the Fire and Ice Chronicles (Game of Thrones series) which occupied my time completely for the first 6 weeks I was in Austin. There were days I didn't even leave the house because I couldn't stand to put the books down for more than 20 minutes. People asked me what I thought of Austin so far and I could tell them what I thought of the Starks and Westeros. Then there's that pesky "job search" thing. I don't know how many hours I've spent searching and applying for jobs, but the result of the effort is still lacking. Austin is a great city for live music, the software industry and the University of Texas - outside of that it's a bit of a struggle! So what I'm trying to say is, I haven't cared much about cooking for the past few weeks - but now I'm back.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Barbacoa (Beef Cheek Tacos)

My first experience of barbacoa was Chipotle which, despite what Steve Ells may claim, isn't exactly authentic Mexican cuisine. But who am I to complain? Hello, one barbacoa burrito, no rice, pinto beans, corn and hot salsa, extra sour cream, cheese, lettuce, hello deliciousness! Hurry into my mouth! At this point I should also admit that, possibly, my only experience of barbacoa is through Chipotle. If I am truly honest with myself I didn't even know it was cow head (or cheek) until I began dating Seth. My first thought was, "Do other Chipotle customers know what barbacoa is?" followed by, "I really want another burrito."

Can you imagine my excitement when I saw beef cheek at HEB (major Texas grocery store)? Maybe not, but I'll tell you it was more to do with the fact that the store carried beef cheek - and beef heart, knuckles, sweetbreads, probably lung if I asked - and that I saw it for the first time after attending the country fair. "That could be one of the winning show cows!", I whispered to myself. And I knew I wanted to eat it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bacon Salsa

Bacon salsa. Not just bacon in salsa, but salsa whose main ingredient (next to tomatoes) is bacon. This makes it awesome, though that should be a given. Mmm, bacon. I owe this recipe to my father-in-law Jim, who made this salsa for a barbecue held in honor of Seth's and my return to the States. Love came instantly and I found myself scooping spoonfuls into my mouth as though it were a chunky, bacon-y soup. The chips provided were nothing more than a vehicle to carry the salsa into my eager belly. Bacon.

I have been meaning to recreate Jimbo's salsa for over a month with nothing stopping me other than a general laziness and unwillingness to consume a half cup's worth of bacon grease (or thereabouts.) Don't stop reading! I adjusted the recipe slightly and left out the majority of the grease - hell, Jimbo might do the same but judging that the dominant flavors are "bacon" and "heartburn" I am pretty sure he leaves everything in. You will notice I use only a spice mix, specifically Lawry's Seasoning Salt, because that's what Jim uses. Perhaps one day I will attempt to break down the amount of paprika, turmeric and whatever else Lawry's provides, but today is not that day. Nor was Friday, when I made this. Hell, it may never happen, but it's always good to hope.


Some notes: unlike your basic salsa recipe, which is ready to go in about 5 minutes, this one takes almost an hour due to the slow cooking of the bacon. Don't try to rush this! You need the bacon to become nice and crisp (not burnt, but crisp) and as much fast as possible to be rendered; this is achieved by cooking the meat slowly. I used two serranos, one seeded and one not, and had almost no heat, but serranos are notoriously fickle in that category. As with so many recipes, you control the level of heat by the number of chilis you add and how you add them (with seeds or no.) Add the seasoning salt gradually because your bacon may be saltier than mine or less salty than others and the last thing you want is a pot of salt lick. Finally, Jimbo uses green onions, which I didn't have, so I substituted half a sweet onion. The bacon is the star, though, so whichever type of onion you use be sure the flavor isn't overpowering. Enjoy!

Bacon Salsa

1lb bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2cup minced onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 serrano peppers, minced (seeded or not, whichever your preference
1cup chopped cilantro (loosely packed)
28oz can chopped tomatoes (or crushed, if you don't want chunks of tomato)
1-2tbsp Lawry's Seasoning Salt

1. In a Dutch oven (I used plain cast iron, but enameled will also work) slowly cook bacon pieces over medium-low/ medium heat, stirring occasionally. The cooking will go slow at first but as the fat renders the process will speed up so be aware of the temperature to ensure the bacon doesn't burn. You want the bacon fully cooked and crisp. Once done, remove bacon from pan (drain if desired) and remove all but 2 tablespoons grease from Dutch oven.

2. With heat on medium, add onions, garlic and peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and opaque (about 10 minutes.) Add cilantro, cook for a few minutes to allow leaves to wilt, then add tomatoes and reserved bacon pieces. Bring to a simmer.

3. You can begin adding the seasoning salt at this point. Start with 1 teaspoon; allow to simmer for a few minutes, taste, then add more seasoning if necessary.  Continue this process until the salsa tastes seasoned. If it seems like you are the tipping point of "maybe it needs more, maybe not", don't add anymore! The flavors will become stronger as they cook (and if they sit.)

4. Allow the salsa to simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Serve hot and keep plenty of Tums on hand.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spiced Grilled Chicken (Djej Mechoui)

 Hello again, my Moroccan cookbook. I feel it's been a long time since I spent any time with you (though I am sure my Indian cookbook feels an even greater loss) but I am back and I am glad you openly accept me.

Ha, look at me trying to be funny - and failing. That's what happens when you write a post after a few glasses of wine: suddenly humor seems like a good idea while the ability to pull it off is severely dampened with each passing sip. Anyway, grilled chicken, Moroccan style, which means paprika, cumin and cayenne, along with hints of lemon juice and olive oil. Nothing flashy, just nicely spiced chicken with some dandy (yes, dandy!) grilled lemons to eat alongside. Mmm, grilled lemons.

Depending on the saltiness of your salt you may need more. The recipe calls for watercress when serving the chicken; I served a salad. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mighty Millet Pilaf


Millet. The word always makes me giggle because it invariably makes me think of "pellet", as in food pellets that you feed gerbils, guinea pigs and rats. My word/image association wants millet to look like pet food, as unappetizing as that sounds, but if you are unfamiliar millet is a round, tan little grain that looks either like over-sized couscous or the ugliest bead ever. Fortunately, it cooks somehow like rice (an initial toasting, add double the amount of water, then simmer until absorbed) and, like so many grains, adepts itself well to many flavors. Not that I have always known this, but since seeing millet in my sister-in-law's pantry (and subsequently cooking & eating it) I am able to sing the praises of this humble little bead of deliciousness.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

And the Beet Goes On

No big build-up with this one: here is the recipe I submitted for food52's "Best Winter Tart Recipe" contest last week. It is a slight variation on a tart recipe my sister gave me years ago, albeit for summer vegetables, but it is easy to change to whatever season you like. I've made it with  my own crust; store-bought pizza dough; puff pastry; and phyllo dough. It's your choice, though the puff pastry and phyllo help make the tart a bit lighter - which is especially nice when using winter vegetables. One thing: on my food52 version I listed only 5 ounces goat cheese, but that small amount was overpowered by the beets and brussels sprouts. The tart won't be harmed with an extra few ounces of cheese, so I modified it as such for here. I also listed 10 sheets of phyllo but I had problems separating my sheets so I probably ended up using 15? more? It just makes for a flakier crust. Enjoy!

*This tart was chosen as an editor's pick on food52! Which means that 5oz of goat cheese works just fine, though if you are fan a cheese go ahead with the larger amount listed below.

Winter Vegetable Tart
Originally from something my sister read, but at this point all mine
3 beets, peeled, halved and sliced to 1/4inch thick  
2 leek2, roughly chopped  
1 cup brussels sprouts, quartered  
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped  
8 ounces plain goat cheese  
1 tablespoon chopped chives  
1 tablespoon chopped chervil  
1 garlic clove, finely minced or forced through garlic press  
1 tablespoon milk  
10 sheets phyllo dough  
3 tablespoons butter, melted  
salt & pepper  
olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Place beets, leeks and brussels sprout on sheet pan and sprinkle with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper then, using hands, toss vegetables to coat. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are fork-tender. 
  3. Prepare the phyllo crust: place one sheet of dough on greased sheet (or pizza) pan and brush sheet completely with melted butter. Place next sheet of dough on top, brush with butter and repeat with next 7 sheets of dough (you will have one remaining.) 
  4. Place final sheet of dough on top and brush only outer edges with butter (make about a 3-inch border.) Spread the cheese mixture in the middle, being sure the cheese touches the butter border. When vegetables have finished roasting arrange on top of cheese, being sure they are an even layer, then fold edges of dough over filling (to partially enclose the vegetables and cheese.) You can make this fold fancy or keep it in a square shape - your choice. Brush dough with additional butter and bake for 25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Serve hot.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Grapefruit Granita

I find it difficult to blog while watching Top Chef but if I keep putting this off it just won't happen. Some good news: Seth and I have finally finished trekking around the States collecting all of our stuff! Last week we flew to San Diego to pick up my car - and see my fabulous friend, Kerry - where I managed to pick up a Showgirls tattoo and eat the best pizza of my life at a winery in Escondido. Oh, the wine was also pretty tasty, but seriously: pizza, hot damn.

However, this is not my attempt at recreating that delicious pie but my attempt to use more of those damn grapefruit stubbornly sitting outside. Over a week ago I made grapefruit curd (with whipped cream stirred in, making it seem more like chiffon than curd) and, of course, the candied peels, and while I have been hoping to use the fruit in some savory dish I ended up making a grapefruit granita thanks to the suggestion of my sister and the super-easy recipe that shouted to me from Amanda Hesser's The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Candied Grapefruit Peels

Some time ago I read Smitten Kitchen's post about candied grapefruit peels, in particular how they ended up a complete disaster: SK's recipe didn't specify "completely remove pith" - actually, the recipe (below) states specifically to retain the pith; nasty -so she didn't and as a result her peels were inedibly bitter. I was sad, because the pictures were so beautiful that it was difficult to believe the product didn't match the advertisement, and because I was tempted to try the recipe but was worried the problem had to be something other than pith. I wasn't willing to waste grapefruit just to experiment on some damn candy.

However, now that I am trying to create everything from breakfast to dinner to cocktail time with the 50-pound sack of grapefruit sitting on my sister-in-law's porch, I am no longer concerned with wasting fruit as anything I do with the things will at least serve the purpose of removing them from the porch. My time for candied grapefruit peels had come.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mushroom Risotto

Last night my sister-in-law chided me for the lack of a recent blog post, admitting she only signed up on Google's blogroll to follow my blog(s) and therefore keep up with how I (and Seth) are doing. I was touched, but could only think of the most pitiful excuses to explain the lack of posts: "I was packing and arranging things in Maryland"; "Seth and I have driven 2500 miles in a moving van over the past week"; "Moving van."

Really, no excuse at all, considering I do have a Jetboil and over the weekend we picked up Seth's camping stove. However, before the torture of driving (for a week) in the most uncomfortable of automobiles (I'd actually prefer a matatu over that Budget truck) I did manage to make a large saucepan of simple, creamy mushroom risotto, simultaneously satisfying my joy of cooking with wine (how I've missed it) and proving that I now truly dig mushrooms.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Satay Sauce with a Touch of Fire

Not one to be easily discouraged by my own tastebuds and refusing to believe that I no longer like shrimp (at least not all that much) I gave in to the roommate's request and made shrimp tacos for dinner last night. I managed to eat two but when I tried a shrimp on its own I spit it out. Spit it out! I think my tastebuds have made an exchange of shrimp for mushrooms and can't help but feel cheated. I mean, I am glad I now like mushrooms, but at the expense of beautiful, delicious shrimp? It's just not fair.

A woeful state, I know, but fortunately my love for peanuts is still going strong. Salted, honey-roasted, chili; butter, brittle sauce: I love peanuts in any form. I am eating some chili-coated peanuts right now. I once had a Slovenian try to convince me that peanut butter is, really, actually, quite disgusting, but he did not understand both the deep love Americans have for goobers and my own personal dedication to that modest little nut. I eat peanut butter straight from the jar (having no need for bread or crackers as a vehicle) and, if given the chance, will do the same withe satay sauce because, really, actually, it is warm, spicy peanut butter that happens to go well with noodles rather than strawberry jelly.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Angel Food Cake with Blueberries

Monday was Seth's birthday - the big 3-2 - and the first birthday we were able to spend together (last year I was in Uganda, the year before in the States.) My Thai cookbook includes a recipe for Shrimp Pad Thai (Phat Thai.) Seth had expressed interest in it back in December and, not to keep on the edge of your seat, that's what I made him for dinner. It would also have been the subject of this post except I had trouble juggling the order of ingredients and couldn't be bothered with taking pictures of the process. Plus I overcooked the noodles and, honestly, I didn't like it. Seth and Ryan loved the dish but I thought it was slightly bland and I think it's possible I don't like shrimp much anymore. That possibility horrifies me so I'll ignore it for now and give you some cake instead.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tuna Two Ways

Browsing through my recent posts I realize that the vast majority are cookbook recipes, as though I don't cook anything of mine - at least, nothing worth sharing with you. And that's not true, it just happens that when I make something off the cuff I don't pay much attention to what I am doing and so when requests come from my husband or friends to remake a certain dish I attempt to retrace my steps and, more often than not, am left with a blank. I am sure I am not the only one! But for the past couple weeks I have been watching MasterChef America and MasterChef Australia (which, by the way, I think is much better than the American version) and decided that, damn, I need to cook my own recipes more often and earn my keep.

And then the Sultan Center had fresh Saudi tuna on display so I decided I would also tackle my fear of cooking fish. Never a recipe for disaster, right? I am not uncomfortable with all seafood: I love shellfish and find preparing them fairly easy, except for maybe scallops and lobster. Fish, on the other hand, just seems tricky and temperamental. Maybe it will come out dry, maybe raw, maybe with hidden little bones - and what's this poaching in oil thing I've heard about? Fascinating.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tangia (Slow-Cooked Beef with Herbs)

Kites flying in the Kuwait desert aren't beef stew, I know, but my photo mojo is currently at zero, what with the move and all, especially the anxiety and stress with attempting to export my cat out of Kuwait. I have a stop in Dubai and all animals flown into Dubai have to go as cargo, so once I land I will have to go pick up Umberto, clear him through customs, then check him in as excess baggage - if I can even do that. My next stop is in London and everyone - the woman helping me with all of this, the man at Emirates SkyCargo and the airlines - are worried because usually pets are flown cargo into Heathrow and, what with England's strict quarantine rules, there is a possibility that Umberto might be whisked away to a 6-month quarantine, while I'm thinking, seriously? I am the first person to attempt to travel through Heathrow with a pet in transit?

But enough of my problems: let's discuss this amazing beef stew. I love slow-cooked meat because, as long as you keep it moist, it's almost impossible to screw it up. The meat literally melts in your mouth, all the flavors blend together to make even a vegetarian drool and you wonder why you want to start a diet and give up something so delicious. Harissa, a hot chili paste, should be easy to find in many stores, though be careful because are hotter than others. The 1/2 teaspoon used, however, adds a gentle heat rather than overpowering fire. The recipe calls for a cooking time of 3 1/2 hours, but I couldn't resist the smell after 2 1/2; luckily, my beef was still like butter. Sop up the delicious juices with pieces of your freshly baked kesra.

Now off to raise my anxiety level to %180 while I try to work out my pet travel woes. Enjoy!

The Food of Morocco

2lb (1 kilo) chuck steak or boneless beef shin
1 1/2 brown onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2tsp ras el hanout spice mix*
1/2tsp harissa* (or to taste) or1/4tsp cayenne pepper
1/4tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 rope tomatoes
1 1/2 preserved lemons or finely grated rind of one lemon
2tsp honey
1tbsp chopped cilantro
2tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsely

1. Trim the beef and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place beef in a deep casserole dish along with the onion, garlic, oil, ras el hanout, harissa and black pepper. Season with salt.

2. Toss the meat with the marinade. Preheat the oven to 275F (the meat will marinate while you prepare the remainder of the recipe and your oven heats.)

3. Halve the tomatoes crossways and squeeze out the the seeds. Coarsely grate the tomatoes down to the skins, grating them straight into the casserole. Discard the skins. (I used canned tomatoes because delicious ripe tomatoes don't exist in Kuwait and squeezed them right into the casserole.)

4. Rinse the preserved lemons and remove the pulp and membranes. Chop the rind into chunks, reserving some for garnish, and add to the meat along with the honey, cilantro and 1 tablespoon of parsley. (Conversely, add grated lemon straight into casserole.)

5. Stir well, then cover and cook in the oven for 3 1/2 hours. Juices from the meat should keep the dish moist, but check after 1 1/2 hours of cooking and add a little water if necessary.

6. When meat is very tender, transfer to a serving dish, scatter over the reserved lemon rind (if using) and garnish with the remaining parsley.

Ras el hanout

A spice blend used expansively in Moroccan cuisine can be purchased online (and probably at some specialty stores, depending on where you live) or you can make your own. Recipes vary, but this is the one included in my cookbook. I divided it half for use in the tangia.

1/2tsp ground cloves
1/2tsp ground cayenne pepper
2tsp ground allspice
2tsp ground cumin
2tsp ground ginger
2tsp ground turmeric
2tsp ground black pepper
2tsp ground cardamom
3tsp ground cinnamon
3tsp ground coriander
2 nutmegs, freshly grated (or 6tsp ground nutmeg)

Mix together and store in a cool, dark place.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kesra (Moroccan Bread)

I have no willpower. Just four (maybe five?) days after starting the Master Cleanse diet I gave up - I couldn't take it. I suppose I should have been drinking more of the lemonade but regardless, the only time I felt okay was when I was sitting or lying down - any movement made me light-headed. Seth made me take my phone with me everywhere in case I should pass out (I don't know how I would have called, though) and I tortured myself by watching marathons of cooking shows and browsing all my favorite foodie websites. So on the fifth day I gave in and decided to return to the tried and true technique of "eat less, exercise more" - to make a pie with my remaining maple syrup.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tom Khaa Kai (Chicken, Coconut and Galangal Soup)

I am loving my new Thai cookbook; I haven't even bothered to read the introductory chapter because I have full-on into the recipes. And of the ones I've made, damn, they are delicious - and surprisingly simple. Take this soup: nothing to saute, brown or what-have-you, just dump your ingredients in a pot and simmer until done. Bang. Of course there are complicated recipes I've yet to tackle - and may not tackle until I get to the States - but who wants to fuss over a soup? This will have dinner (or lunch, or breakfast, if that's how you roll) on your table in less than 15 minutes, so my mind is already in step with the working people of the world.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Deep-Fried Mini Chickens

My regular readers may have noticed a slight difference in tone in my recent posts, as though I have only a passing concern for this blog - which I do. It's not that I am already tired of posting recipes but rather that I have been dealing with the aftermath of news Seth and I received during my trip to the States in December: we are leaving Kuwait in February. Oof. So my days have been filled with culling our clothes, packing up foot lockers, working to get Umberto (our cat) his export papers - plus it took me until yesterday to my body's clock on the proper time zone. When I continued to wake-up at 3am day after day I thought it would give me extra time to get my tasks (writing, cooking, packing) done, but really it just left me in a semi-conscious daze all day. Woe is me, I know.

Luckily I can still drool over my new cookbooks - and occasionally cook something from them, even if my pictures are currently lacking. How could I resist something as simple as deep-fried little birds? The recipe calls for quails, which I knew I could find if I went to a live bird market, but laziness struck me so I substituted mini chickens (which about a pound each) cut in half. The marinade is quick and delicious, with a light hint of star anise, and the chickens came out of the fryer crisp and juicy in all the right places. I used brown sugar instead of palm but all other ingredients were easy enough to find - and how often can I say that in this blog?

Want to make your own dipping sauces? Try here and here.

Deep-Fried Mini Chickens
The Food of Thailand

5 white peppercorns
5 coriander seeds
1/4tsp cumin seeds
1 star anise
2 garlic cloves
2tbsp soy sauce
1/2tsp brown sugar
2 mini chickens cut in half (or 4 quails, whole)
oil, for deep-frying
dipping sauces such as sweet chili sauce or roasted chili sauce

1. Using a pestle and mortar, pound together the peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, star anise and a pinch of salt. Add the garlic, soy sauce and brown sugar to a paste.

2. Rub the paste all over the chicken halves, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

3. Heat the oil in a wok or other deep pan to 350F (or until a piece of bread dropped into it sizzles and turns brown. Pat the chickens dry with paper towels. Add the chickens to the oil and deep-fry for about 10 minutes, turning them so they cook on all sides. (I had to do this in two batches in order not to over-crowd my pan.) If using whole quails, be sure the oil gets inside the birds, as well.

4. Drain well and sprinkle with a little more salt. Serve with desires dipping sauces and enjoy.