Friday, September 16, 2016

Samoa

Samoa is a little island in the Pacific Ocean about 3,200 kilometers north of New Zealand. Lonely Planet calls it the place where "emerald shores meet azure waters." Sounds pretty much like every other island in the Pacific.
We chose to make Masi Samoa which are coconut cookies. Please do not confuse these with the Girl Scout "Samoa" cookie. They are not the same thing. At all. 

The best part of this recipe is the way your house smells while the cookies are baking. The 4 year old walked into the kitchen just as the cookies were finishing up in the oven and proclaimed, "Hmmmm ça sent très bon!!" (It smells very good!). 

Apparently these cookies come in neatly piled stacks tied with ribbon on the streets of Samoa. Whenever we make our way there I will gladly pick them up and devour them as fast as possible.  They're a cross between a shortbread cookie and a scone. Although delicious as they were, we found that slathering them with nutella was a great addition. They were also lovely the next morning coated in a touch of butter and strawberry jam.  

The ingredient list is pretty simple and you've probably already got everything in your pantry. Butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, vanilla extract and coconut milk. I followed this recipe

A's rating: 3 
M's rating: 4-5
H's rating: 6

The cookies are delicious but very simple. I think the leftovers are going to serve as the base for strawberry shortcake. 


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Tanzania

My best friend has been perfecting donut recipes this summer so it seemed appropriate to make Tanzanian Mandazi. Mandazi are donuts traditionally eaten for breakfast and are spicier and less sweet than their American counterpart. We enjoyed them with coconut vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries. 

Although I wouldn't necessarily repeat the recipe for my personal use, they were fun and I would welcome finding them on the streets of Tanzania when we make our way there one day. 

I found the recipe slightly unusual in that coconut milk was added to the warm water and sugar prior to adding the yeast. I felt that this meant that the yeast did not fully develop before kneading, resulting in a very dense donut. 

This is the recipe I followed. 

A's rating: 3 
H's rating: 5

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Cuba!

What's better than pineapple rum mojitos and slow cooked red meat? Not much.

Ropa Vieja is the national dish of Cuba and we had it with friends. I must confess that I cheated and used the crockpot. Don't judge. It was easy and made the house smell delicious. Double win. The dish is the Cuban version of a beef stew with lots of fun things like green olives, capers and peppers. I've already made this dish twice, it's that good. Serve it on buttered noodles, or rice or polenta or some other starch and you're done.

I loosely followed a couple of different recipes this one and this one.

A's Rating: 7
M's Rating: 7
H's Rating: 8

We have made this recipe a total of 4 times. It is that good. And, if you're lazy like me and use the crockpot it's ridiculously easy for a midweek meal.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Jamaica

Another Caribbean country finished!

Jamaica was fun, bright, and delicious. Jerk chicken, rice and peas, rum punch and a pineapple cake. We broke with tradition and made the rice and peas even though it wasn't Sunday. Great recipes if not a tad heavy on the carbs.

As an aperitif we had some plantain chips and coconut soda.

Wonderful way to spend a Thursday evening.

Rice and Peas

Ingredients
1 can red kidney beans
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp fresh thyme
4 green onions, chopped
2 cups of rice (rinsed well)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
water
salt
pepper

Preparation
Drain the kidney beans over a measuring cup that holds 4 cups. Add the coconut milk and then add enough water to make 4 cups of liquid.

In a large pot, add the liquid mixture, garlic, thyme, onions, kidney beans, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and taste the liquid for saltiness. Next add the rice and boil or 2 minutes. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 15 - 20 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve warm.

Jerk Seasoning
1/2 pimenta (allspice berries)
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 garlic cloves, minced
5 scotch bonnet peppers
2 tbsp thyme leaves
2 green onions, chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper
2 tbsp soy sauce

Ratings
A's Rating: 7
H's Rating: 8 (loved the chicken and the coconut rice)
M's Rating: 7 (wasn't as thrilled as I had hoped)
Guest Rating: 7

I will be repeating the rice recipe again. Loved the hint of coconut and the fresh herbs. Will also be repeating the jerk seasoning.

Friday, February 5, 2016

China

Interestingly enough, especially in the midst of Chinese New Year, we hit China on our journey around the world.

I decided to tackle Chinese dumplings (known as jiaozi) since they're a traditional New Year dish. Happy Year of the Monkey!

About a year ago, we were invited to dinner at our neighbors' house. They are a wonderful couple from Shanghai. They taught us the art of dumpling making. It was delightful if not time consuming. For our country night, I decided to brush out my notes from that dinner and the results were delicious.

I used pre-made dumpling wrappers so I guess that's cheating. Oh well.

Pork Dumplings

Ingredients
1 and a half packages of dumpling wrappers
1 cup ground pork
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine
3 tbsp sesame oil
3 green onions chopped
1 1/2 cups of shredded napa cabbage
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves minced

Preparation

Mix all the ingredients for the filling.

Place 1.5 tsp of filling in each wrapper. Using a touch of water, seal the wrappers in a half moon shape.

Place a large pot of water on the stove. Once it boils, add half of the dumplings and then immediately add 1/2 cup of cold water. Once the water boils again add another 1/2 cup of water. Do this a second time adding cold water again when it boils. After the pot boils for the third time the dumplings are done.

If you like crispy dumplings, you can now fry some (or all) in a pan with cooking oil.

Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce.

H's Rating: Solid 7
Husband Rating: 7 (though with the addition of sriracha the rating goes up to 8)
M's Rating: At least an 8.5 (she had 3 crispy dumplings and 3 boiled dumplings)