Monday, January 30, 2012

Argentina: Cooking Around the World with Camilla (CATWWC)

We are whizzing through the 'A's of our Cooking Around the World adventure. Here we go to ARGENTINA, the seventh country on the list.

Country: Argentina

Argentina's complicated political history lends itself to varied culinary traditions. But one thing is for certain: if you are a vegetarian, Argentinan cuisine may not be for you with beef reigning supreme at almost every meal.

Still I navigated my way through recipe after recipe until I found a version of the main dish we selected - empanadas - that used fish instead of beef. We did, however, use the dipping sauce for the meat version. And Riley whipped up a rich, decadent caramel for dessert. Here's what we ate on our tabletop journey to Argentina...

Empanadas de Atún (Argentinian Tuna Empanadas)
Dylan did a great job on this and was incensed when Riley called them "Hot Pockets." Not that I've had a Hot Pocket, but these were fresh and filled with ingredients that we could recognize.

And for dessert, Riley made Dulce de Leche, Argentinian caramel. He spooned it atop scoops of chocolate ice cream. Thank goodness I went for a run before dinner.
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 Armenia next.

Empanadas de Atún (Argentinian Tuna Empanadas)

This was a tag-team cooking effort tonight. Riley started the process, making the filling and the dough, but as the dough rested, Jake started watching a documentary that must have been more captivating than cooking with me. So, Dylan stepped in and finished the process. And as he proudly carried his creations to the table, Riley declared, excitedly, "Dylan, you made Hot Pockets."

Dylan was indigant, "These are NOT Hot Pockets, Riley, they are empanadas from Argentina."

You tell him, Sweetheart! These are not Hot Pockets; they are fresh and homemade, filled with recognizeable ingredients.
  • 3 C all-purpose flour (normally I would use a white whole wheat flour, but Riley pleaded for "flour that normal people use...for once, please!" Fine.)
  • 1 T baking powder
  • pink Himalaya salt
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 3/4 C milk
  • 1/4 C water
Stir all of the ingredients together to form a kneadable mass. Remove it to a floured work surface and knead until silky smooth, approximately 5 minutes. Add a little flour if it is too sticky. Cover it with a towel and let it rest at least 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, make the filling. Though ground beef is de rigueur for these Argentinian empanadas, I searched high and low until I found a few variations that used fish because I had lots of fresh yellowfin tuna from a friend.

I roasted two filets in the oven, sprinkled with pink Himalaya salt and flower pepper and drizzled with fresh squeezed lemon juice and olive oil. Then I flaked the fish and set aside.

In a large flat-bottomed pan, sauté sliced leeks and sliced black olives in a splash of olive oil until the leeks are translucent. Season with paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add the flaked fish and stir till coated with oil and seasonings. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut the rested dough into 8 equal portions; you can certainly make smallers one. BUt. Lightly flour a work surface and roll each portion out into a 6- to 8-inch round.

Add about 1/4 cup of filling to the center of the pastry round, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Wet the edges with a finger dipped in water, fold over into a half moon and seal the edges with the tines of a fork or by rolling them up into a scalloped edge. Lay out on a baking sheet.

Brush tops with an egg beaten with a little water if you like. Bake for 30-40 minutes until browned on top. Serve warm.


We served these with our version of a chimichurri sauce. Minced garlic, minced parsley, minced cilantro, minced mint, minced oregano, sea salt, black pepper, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dulce de Leche (Argentinian Caramel)

"Dulce de Leche - Argentina's Legendary Dessert" the blogpost on From Argentina with Love screamed 'make me, make me'...and we did. It was the perfect end to our Argentinan feast.

Riley did a great job with this. In preparation for this dessert I told him he could choose the ice cream flavor when we were at Trader Joe's this afternoon; he selected ultra chocolate. Okay, that made it over-the-top indulgent. But it was fantastic!

Making Dulce de Leche is not difficult, but it was time-consuming; I should have looked at the recipe before I went for a run. It took hours on the stovetop to reach the right consistency. So we ended up having dessert right before the boys went to bed. Probably not the best idea, but I wasn't about to deprive them, especially since Riley made it.

According to Rebecca, the force behind the From Argentina With Love blog, there are a few ways to make Dulce de Leche, and they all give you the same basic result. I opted for the version from scratch - not surprised, right? - and was in shock that there's a version that boils a can of sweetened condensed milk while still in the can. That just sounds hazardous.

4 C milk
2 C organic granulated sugar
1 t baking soda
1 T pure vanilla extract

Bring the milk to a boil in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Add all other ingredients, stirring the sugar with a whisk until it is completely dissolved. Cook on medium low until it turns into caramel, about 2-3 hours. It should have a rich tan or brown color and smooth texture when done. Consistency is a matter of preference. Some like their dulce de leche runny, like a sauce; others like it thick.

Ours was a little gritty because Riley didn't whisk as well as he should have, but he's still learning the kitchen ropes. He proudly served his Dulce de Leche atop chocolate ice cream.

Seeded Garbanzo Crackers

I've made bread. I've made pretzels. But I have never made crackers. I remedied that last night so Jake and I could have some cheese, crackers, and wine after the boys went to bed. Though it is so easy to drop a box of crackers into your shopping basket, making crackers is almost as simple.

I started with this recipe, via, from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day. Then I made a few changes to match what I had in my cupboard. Also, I chose not to use a cookie cutter or slice the cracker; instead I rolled it flat and baked it as one large cracker that we then broke into organic shapes and smeared with brie. Delicious!

2 C garbanzo flour
1 C white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
1/4 C black sesame seeds
2 T olive oil
1 T fennel seeds
2 T honey
3/4 C water, room temperature
freshly ground pink Himalaya salt and flower pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Use a large, sturdy wooden spoon and stir for 1 or 2 minutes. The dough should quickly form a firm ball and shouldn't be sticky. Stir in flour or water as needed to adjust the texture.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 30 seconds to be sure all of the ingredients are evenly distributed and that the dough holds together. It should be slightly tacky but not sticky.

Preheat the oven to 300°F and line a baking stone with parchment paper. Roll the dough between two pieces of parchment paper until it is about 1/8-1/16" thick. Mine were on the thicker side. Sprinkle the surface with whatever garnishes you like. I simply used more salt and pepper.

Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Once thoroughly cooled, the crackers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 8 days, or in a ziplock bag in the freezer indefinitely.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Green Papaya-Yellowfin Curry Bowl

A firm believer in cooking what you have on-hand, I had an open, unripe green papaya - you can read about my Antingua papaya pie disaster - some fresh yellowtail from a friend, and leftover coconut rice. Some researching into savory dishes that utilize green papaya and I came up with this...

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 finger-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 potatoes, washed and cubed
1 green papaya, peeled and cubed
1 t ground curry powder
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground paprika
dash of cinnmon
1/2 t fennel seeds
1 can of coconut milk
1 C water
2 filets of yellowfin tuna (or whatever fish you have), cut into cubes
2 C leftover brown basmati coconut rice with peas (or whatever rice you have available)
rough-chopped cilantro for garnish

In a large flat-bottomed pan, brown the garlic and ginger in a splash of olive oil. Add the potatoes and green papaya. Cook till they begin to soften. Add spices, coconut milk, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add the cold, lefover rice, pressing into the liquid. Lay the yellowfin on top. Cover and steam for 10 minutes or until fish is cooked through. Spoon into individual bowls and serve with chopped cilantro on top.

Dylan did a great job on this dinner...and I still have half the green papaya to make a Thai salad for lunch tomorrow.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Antigua and Barbuda: Cooking Around the World with Camilla (CATWWC)

We traveled to Antigua and Barbuda tonight. Two names, three islands, one country. This duo plus Redonda belong to a cluster of islands known as the Leeward Islands. Other islands in the chain include Anguilla, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, the British Virgin Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands. Nothing like a little Caribbean flavor to warm up even the coldest winter evening. Though, truth be told, winter on the central coast of California isn't very cold. Still, this menu brought a little sunshine to an otherwise grey January day.

And we're finally cooking a country to which I have actually travelled: Antigua. Remembering conch fritters on a sandy beach as azure seas lapped the shore. I wasn't sure that I would be able to locate conch - and I didn't - but research suggested I substitute clams. And we have those!
So, we're on to country number six of our Cooking Around the World adventure. Since it's a Friday night with no homework to hassle with the boys on, no early morning looming ahead, we had a leisurely feast that included an appetizer and a dessert from ANTIQUA AND BARBUDA, the sixth country on the list. Many thanks to my medium-sized kitchen elf tonight. He rolled tamarind and rubbed fish like a champ.

Here's what we ate on our tabletop journey to Antigua and Barbuda...

(Faux) Conch Fritters
We started off the meal with crisp, salty morsels that tasted like the sea. Though I couldn't find any conch meat, I substituted clams. These tasted very similar to what I remember eating in Antigua. I skipped the mayonnaise-based dipping sauce they served with these fritters, opting instead for just a squeeze of lime.

Cacao-Rubbed Fish with Tamarind Chutney
Wow. Wow. And wow, again. Did I say 'wow'? This dish was incredibly flavorful. Jake said that this topped his list of the international meals we've had so far. That is saying something. The spicy fish topped with the tangy chutney is unforgettable and will definitely be on our dinner table again soon.

Coconut Rice with Peas
I cooked brown basmati rice and fresh English peas in a mixture of water and coconut milk for a mild side dish that paired perfectly with the strong flavors of the fish and chutney.

Papaya Pie was not to be...
I bought what I thought would be a ripe papaya, excited about the ubiquitous papaya pie recipes I found when searching for Antiguan desserts, more like a papaya mousse in a baked shell. This fruit was soft to the touch but when I sliced into it, instead of the distinctive pinkish orange flesh with juicy black seeds, I saw this: pale green. Not even close to ripe. I moved on to plan B - tamarind balls - and will make a tart salad with grated green papaya tomorrow...or something else. Bummer about the pie though. I'll have to try again.

With my planned papaya pie a complete let-down, I found several recipes for this Caribbean sweet and sour treat...kind of like a fruity truffle. Just tart enough to make your mouth pucker, yet sweet enough to make you reach for another. Nature's SweetTarts. Yum.

Oh, and Jake and I had some pink rum cocktails, named for the unique pink sands of Barbuda: Barbuda Sands Cocktail. Happy Friday!

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 Argentina next.

Spiced Cocoa-Rubbed Fish with Tamarind Chutney

Adapted from a recipe I found by Gary Rhodes' Rhodes Across the Caribbean, this dish was the centerpiece of our Antigua dinner...and it was a hit! Best of all, it was amazingly simple.

I used some fresh ono and yellowtail tuna that a friend had given me and skipped the garlic and onion powder since my chutney had enough garlic to scare away vampires!

Create a rub with organic brown sugar, cocoa powder, ground cayenne pepper, ground turmeric, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and freshly ground pink Himalaya salt and flower pepper. Pat your filets dry and completely covered the fish with the spices, gently rubbing the flavors into the flesh.

Heat butter and oil in a large flat-bottomed pan set over a moderate heat and cook the fish for 3 minutes before turning. The sugar will have caramelized and the fish taken on a dark sheen. Cook on the other side for another 3 minutes.

Add 3-4 tablespoons of water to the pan, cover with a lid and gently simmer the fish for 2-3 minutes to finish cooking. The fish will flake easily when ready. Add another pat of butter to the pan and sharpen with a squeeze of lime. This dish works really well with the tart tang of tamarind chutney and a coconut basmati-pea pilaf.

Tamarind Chutney
1/2 C wet tamarind
1/2 C water
1 T minced garlic
3 T organic granulated sugar
2 T freshly squeezed lime juice
3 T freshly chopped fresh cilantro

Place all but the lime juice and cilantro in a saucepan. Cook till the tamarind is completely blended with the water and beginning to thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in lime juice and cilantro.

Antigua (Faux) Conch Fritters

With conch meat no where to be found here on the central coast of California, I opted to use clams. It tasted very similar to the crispy morsels I recall from Antigua.
2 cans whole clams
4 stalks celery, washed and diced
3 carrots, washed and diced 
1 egg
1/2 C coconut flour
1 T minced garlic
1/2 t baking soda
1 t pink Himalaya salt
1/4 C milk
Blanch the carrots and celery, then drain and cool. In a large mixing bowl, blend all ingredients until a thick paste forms. Press the mixture into patties and cook - in butter - in a large flat bottomed pan until browned and crisp.

Serve with a sprinkling of freshly ground pepper and a lime wedge.

Barbuda Sands Cocktail

The original Barbuda Sands cocktail was invented at a seaside restaurant in Antigua in 2002 and named for the unique pink sands of Barbuda. It included two different kinds of rum and two kinds of juice. I used one kind of rum, since that's all we had, and three different juices. I added the coconut milk since the original recipe called for "coconut rum." No idea what that is.

1 oz rum
equal amounts of each - guava, pineapple, and mango juice (to almost fill your glass)
1 T coconut milk
squeeze of lime

This was delicious. Cheers!

Sweet and Sour Tamarind Balls

I hardly call this a recipe, it's more like a process. We started with wet tamarind...about 2 cups. I bought this at an Asian market but you can probably use tamarind paste from Whole Foods or another specialty grocery store. Or, if you're feeling really industrious, buy the whole fruit and make the pulp and deseed them yourself.

We kneaded in 1/2 C organic granulated sugar.

We rolled them into balls, then rolled them in granulated sugar.

Kind of like a sweet and sour fruit truffle.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Angola: Cooking Around the World with Camilla (CATWWC)

We are whizzing through the 'A's and are on to country number five of our Cooking Around the World adventure.

Here we go to ANGOLA, the fifth country on the list.

Country: Angola
Having been a Portuguese colony, the traditional dishes of this African nation seem to reflect that influence. You see combinations of chicken, meat, fish, peanuts, peas, sweet potatoes, beans, palm oil, corn, coconut, cassava, okra, greens, zucchini, tomatoes and garlic simmered together in spicy stews and soups. Simple, yet flavorful.

And in that vein of simple yet flavorful, I opted to make a single dish for our Angolan dinner...and no dessert much to the Mann boys' dismay. When I pointed out that we had two sweets from Andorra, they were silenced but still grumpy.

I loved the simplicity of this dish - some chopping, one pot, and dinner on the table in less than 40 minutes. And the scent wafting from my kitchen while it cooked made my mouth water.

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

Angolan Vegetable Soup

I took some liberties with the vegetables included, using what I had in my fridge, but I stayed true to the seasonings. The tradtional recipe included kohlrabi, zucchini, and raisins that I didn't have.

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, chopped
1 large fennel, chopped (my addition)
1/2 head of cauliflower cut into bit-sized piece (my addition)
5 tomatoes, chopped (I used a variety of heirloom tomatoes)
1 can of chickpeas, with liquid
1 C whole wheat couscous
ground coriander
ground turmeric
ground cinnamon
ground ginger
ground cumin

Combine all the ingredients in a large souppot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender. Serve in soup bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro.

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 Antigua and Barbuda next. Wow. Finally a country to which I have actually travelled: Antigua....remembering conch fritters on a sandy beach as azure seas lapped the shore. Not sure I'll be able to find conch anywhere, so I'll be researching some other recipes. That's part of the adventure, right?

The Food Matters Project - you are what you eat

I need another cooking project like a need a hole in my head, right? Well, this one is important. A blogger friend of mine mentioned this in one of her posts, so, naturally, I clicked to take a gander and decided within the first few sentences that I was in. Click here to read more about The Food Matters Project. I cook three meals a day for my family; I may as well cook with a purpose.

The Food Matters philosophy is all about eating more plants and fewer animal products and processed foods — and the positive impact this has on our health and the environment.

I am not a vegetarian and will never be a vegetarian again. Been there, done that. I like meat; and I love cheese. But, for my family's health and the health of the planet, I can definitely eat less of it and animal products in general.

This project is based on Mark Bittman's cookbook, The Food Matters Cookbook. Once a week we will all cook the same recipe, blogging our versions for all the see. I hope you'll follow along, maybe cooking a few here and there. We start on February 6th. Stay tuned...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Andorra: Cooking Around the World with Camilla (CATWWC)

When I began researching a menu for our Andorran dinner, I realized that today was actually Chinese New Year and figured we'd go with Chinese for dinner tonight. But I was soundly vetoed by two little boys who are loving our cooking around the world adventure. "No, Mom, we're on the 'A's not the 'C's." So, I decided to skip the duck friend rice and braised bok choy that I had planned and went full steam-ahead with the Andorran planning.

If you search online for "Andorran recipes" or "Andorran cuisine", you get very few results. I looked at what Sasha from Global Table Adventures cooked for her Andorran feast and, as good as hers looked, I wanted something a little bit more exotic than a potato-cabbage pancake, though I did make the same appetizer. Then I found a link between Andorran cuisine and Catalan cuisine and ran with that; there were so many more options for Catalan recipes.

So, we're on to country number four of our Cooking Around the World adventure. Here we go. We're moving to a tiny - and I do mean tiny - country that is sandwiched between France and Spain, high in the Pyrenees. Dinner tonight was made up of a two savory dishes and two sweets from ANDORRA, the fourth country on the list.

Country: Andorra
Due to the fact that Andorra is sandwiched between France and Spain, it cuisine reflects those influences. In the northern part of the country, Andorran cooks use pasta, cheese, bread, and fish; while in the southern part  of the country, the food is mainly Catalan. From my reading, they cook a lot with rabbit and lamb. Wanting to use what I had on-hand, I opted to make a Catalan dish with snails and sausages. Yes, you read that correctly: snails. And I really did have escargot in my cupboard - it was a stocking stuffer from my mom at Christmas! I know, I know, that is not normal. But it was there and made this dinner a snap to make.

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

Pa amb Tomaquet (Bread with Garlic & Tomato)
Resembling Italian bruschetta in flavor, this starter allowed the boys to play with their food! They loved it.

Cargol (Cooked Snails)
Snails are quite popular in Catalonia and are given to a proverb: Al juliol ni dona ni cargol (In July, neither women nor snail). What does that mean? But my research revealed another snail-based proverb from Sicily that made much more sense: Babbaluci a sucari e donni a vasari 'un ponnu mai saziari (Snails to suck out and women to kiss, that's all one needs to be satisfied). I am not sure my husband would agree with that one! I was very proud of all my boys for trying these.

Xocolata Espanyola and Xurros (Andorran Hot Choocolate and Baked Pastry)
While we didn't have any real dessert with our Algerian feast, we had two treats for our Andorran dinner - a delectably thick chocolate drink into which we dunked cinnamon-sugar coated pastries. Yum.

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 Angola next.

Andorran Congols (Snails)

This recipe was my inspiration, apparently snails are quite common on Andorran and Catalan-region tables. Thank goodness I had just gotten escargots in my Christmas stocking!

I cooked the snails - without their shells - in butter, minced garlic, and a squeeze of lemon.

In the meantime I dropped the shells in boiling water and boiled them for 10 minutes to sterilize them. Drain, cool, and stuff the snail meat back into the shells. Set aside.

In a large flat-bottom pan, I sauteed diced fennel, fresh rosemary, and diced pancetta until the pancetta begins to brown and the fennel is softened. Add coins of cooked sausage (I used a basil chicken sausage); quartered, cooked artichoke hearts; sliced green beans; 1/2 C tomato sauce; 2 C water; 1 C rice (I used a brown basmati rice, but the photos of this dish appears to use more of an arborio rice); and cooking liquid from the snails. Season with freshly ground sea salt and flower pepper.

Gently tuck the stuffed snails into the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook till the rice is softened and the liquid completely absorbed.
"Mommy, do I really have to eat this?"
Yes. You have to at least eat one.

He did. Proud, proud mommy moment.