Saturday, January 21, 2012

Albania: Cooking Around the World with Camilla (CATWWC)

We are on a roll. The kids are as excited about this project as I am and, on the way to school the morning after our Afghani dinner, inquired eagerly, "Mommy, what's our next country?"

So, we're on to country number two: Albania.

In case you are just joining us, I was inspired - by Sasha of Global Table Adventure - to cook and eat our way through 195 countries. She researches, blogs, cooks, and blogs again about one country per week; I am not going to be that scheduled. A few here, a few there. But we will do it all. And my goal is to finish by the end of the year.

So, here we go. Për të ngrënë bukë. That's Albanian for "going to eat a meal." Dinner tonight was made up of savory and sweet dishes from ALBANIA, the second country on the list.

Click here for my CATWWC (Cooking Around the World with Camilla) launch post.

Country: Albania

Albanian cuisine reflects a mixture of influences from the Turkish, Balkan, and Mediterranean European cuisines. Something I read says that Albanian cuisine relies heavily on mediterranean herbs such as oregano, mint, and rosemary though the dishes are highly regionalized and, I am guessing, those regions farther from the Mediterranean would use these less so. In any case, the recipes I found are not too far a stretch from my usual Italian-based cooking.

It also appears that I am going to have sous-chefs for this adventure. Riley came into the kitchen and helped with everything from the main dish to the dessert.

Here's what we ate on our tabletop journey to Albania...

Tave me Presh (Albanian Baked Leeks)
Ironically, having written about Albanians' use of Mediterranean herbs, the main dish I selected isn't seasoned with anything except salt and pepper. I threw in some herbs just because. We all felt that though the dish was flavorful, it felt as if it were missing something. Maybe next time I'll serve it over rice or with potatoes. Something. But this way of preparing the leeks rendered them buttery soft. Very nice.

Tirana Salad (Albanian Tossed Salad)
Usually served as a starter, I liked this as an accompaniment to the heavier Tave me Presh that I served as our main dish. Traditionally this salad is made with romaine leaves. I used what I had - red-leaf lettuce from our High Ground Organics CSA box. But the onions and lemon provide all of the flavor, so I figured we were staying true to the taste of the original salad.

Kurabie (Albanian Lemon Cookies)
There are numerous varieties of kurabie, which run the gamut from simple butter cookies as you would find in Iranian cuisine to almond and spice-laden confections that are traditional in Greece. This Albanian version used yogurt in the dough and is lightly scented with lemon zest.

Enjoy my tabletop travels. Join me in whipping up a dish or two. If you do cook something from one of these countries, I'd love to hear about it. Feel free to comment on the posts themselves or email me at constantmotioncamilla at gmail dot com.

This Knight of the Global Table Adventure is signing off for now. We're off to Algeria next. Tomorrow, in fact. Stay tuned...

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