CCC: Cured Pork with Caramelized Apples on a bead of Potato Paillasson

Welcome to the second Creative Cooking Crew challenge. The theme of our first round was vegan, so when it was announced that this month’s theme was meat and potatoes…I thought that was a bit of a sarcastic choice. Opposites attract right? Well I have to say it left me really uninspired at first. I spent a lot of time trying to come up with a concept.

Nothing was appealing until I came across this clever way of serving potatoes. Originally it was going to be a bigger serving with the potatoes serving as a crust for an exotic pizza-like dish. But an energy took over me: an artsy-farsty, 1960s style on a plate. The result looks both cool and silly to me but I decided to just go with the flow. After the photo shoot I could not help myself from laughing at how certain pictures looks like objects or animals. I had a little fun with those pics and photoshop, you will see below. I had fun like a child with crayons and paper, the time in my life I associate the most with meat and potatoes.

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Is it a bird?
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Is it a candle?
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Is it a fish?
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No it’s Cured Pork with Caramelized Apples on a bead of Potato Paillasson of course!

Paillasson is a French word that means straw mat, just like a Welcome mat that you place at your front door. The grated potatoes imitates the straw.  The recipes for the potato and apple below will make one portion in total. If you want to make more just multiply. You may remember this cured pork recipe which was seasoned with Parmesan, Garlic and Basil. This is a new version with a change and flavor.

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Ξ Pommes paillasson Ξ

1 yellow gold potato
2 tbs unsalted butter
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Peel, wash and dry the potato, then grate coarsely using a mandoline or a grater. Gather grated potato in a clean kitchen towel and wring out as much liquid as possible.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over a moderately high heat and then reduce to moderate. Add the grated potatoes in a pile about 3/4 inch thick, salt and pepper. Cook until bottom of cake is golden brown and crisp, pressing down with a spatula once in a while, about 10 minutes. Flip the cake back into the skillet, adding a little bit more butter in the skillet if necessary. Cook until bottom is golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes more.

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Check out the Creative Cooking Crew Pinterest board to see the other participant’s creations on the Meat and Potatoes theme.

Ξ Caramelized Apples Ξ

1/2 apple, cored and sliced thin
1 tablespoon Butter
1/2 tablespoon Sugar

In a large skillet over medium-high heat melt the butter and reduce to moderate. Sprinkle the sugar over the melted butter. Cook the butter and sugar for 1 minute or so.

Add the sliced apples to the skillet. Cook until they are golden and tender but not soft, 3 to 5 minutes.

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Ξ Cured Pork Tenderloin with Garlic, Black Pepper and Oregano Ξ

1 small slim pork tenderloin
4 tbsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp dried oregano

Prepare the pork by removing any fat or membrane. In a flat dish mix salt, garlic powder, pepper and oregano. Roll the pork tenderloin in the mixture, pressing hard and ensuring the the meat is well encrusted. Lay out a thick cotton cloth (or other natural material), spread any mixture left on the cloth and wrap the meat carefully and fairly tight half way, fold in the ends and continue wrapping , secure both ends with a rubber band. Put the wrapped tenderloin in the fridge and leave it for at least 5 days (maybe a little more if the tenderloin is thick). Slice thinly and serve chilled.

SRC: Rebel Bacon Mac and Cheese

Today is my group’s reveal day for the Secret Recipe Club. What is the SRC? Basically you are assigned a fellow participant’s blog by the organizer and then you pick a recipe of your choice from that blog and make your version of it. But it is a secret, you cannot reveal whom you picked and what you made until the established posting date and time.

This months I was fortunate enough to get a really fun blog to explore, the Cookaholic Wife by Nicole. Nicole’s passion for cooking started around the age of 16 when she cooked something for the first time. Her first attempt turned into her now famous Nichole’s Famous Crab Dip.

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Later when Nicole was dating her now husband she would cook alot for him to stop him from eating fast food every time she came over. With time and confidence, she now prefers challenging recipes to push her boundaries. There were so many recipes for me to choose from on the blog. I was intrigued by all of the following: yummy Irish Car Bomb Cheesecake Bites, Nichole’s Famous Crab Dip, healthier Baked Churros, Pierogi and Kielbasa Bake, and a Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto.

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In the end the Bacon Lover’s Mac and Cheese won out. I had been craving a mac and cheese for a while so when I saw bacon added on top of it I was sold. But I calling mine the Rebel Bacon Mac and Cheese. Why?

Look at how many vegetables there are in the recipe. Each portion actually includes at least one vegetable portion. I actually did one modification to the recipe by adding half an onion as well. Aslo I went really of the beaten chart by choosing a bow tie pasta instea of the classic macaroni. I am such a rebel, ha ha. Join the revolution with me!

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Bacon Mac and Cheese
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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups pasta
  • 6-7 slices bacon
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced (baby bella or button)
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups low-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 3 cups spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a skillet over medium-high heat cook the bacon until crispy. Transfer the bacon a plate and blot with a paper towel to absorb excess grease. Reserve two tablespoons of the bacon grease in a small bowl. Discard the rest, but leave the skillet just barely coated.
  4. Add the onions and mushrooms to the skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
  5. In a large saucepan, combine the bacon grease and butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and garlic and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is lightly golden.
  6. Whisk in the milk. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cheddar and Gouda cheese with a wooden spoon until completely melted. Add the crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
  7. Crumble the bacon, reserving a bit for a garnish. Add the pasta, mushrooms, spinach and remaining bacon to the saucepan and stir until combined.
  8. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, top with reserved bacon bits and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Let rest for a few minutes, then serve.
Cuisine: American | Recipe Type: Vegetables & Side Dishes
7.6.2
226
http://cultureatz.com/src-rebel-bacon-mac-and-cheese/



Austrian Potato Salad

Some of my friends organized a Vodka and Perogie party. I wanted my contribution to reflect the theme but also include a twist on my heritage. Hence I chose to make an Austrian Potato Salad.

This potato salad has a little trick up its sleeve. There is no mayonnaise and very little oil. The sauce is made with a bit of potato water and a small amount of mashed potatoes, plus all the other ingredients. Less calories and just as creamy. I like the tangy touch of the mustard and vinegar contrasting with the sweet red onions and sliced gherkins. This is as refreshing as a potato salad can get.

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Here is a tip I bet you did not know: apparently adding a bit of vinegar to the boiling liquid will keep the potatoes from falling apart into mush once cooked. For white potatoes it will also help to keep them white when mashing.

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I found this recipe on Jersey Bite blog but she claims its origins from the Cook’s Illustrated Magazine.

 

Austrian Potato Salad
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Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (do not use any other kind)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard (I used with seeds too)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped fine (about 3/4 cup)
  • 6 gherkins, minced (about 2 Tablespoons)
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Peel and quarter potatoes lengthwise, and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices.
  2. Bring potatoes, broth, water, 1 teaspoon salt, sugar, and 1 Tbs. vinegar to boil in 12 inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until potatoes offer no resistance when pierced with paring knife, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove cover, increase heat to high (so cooking liquid will reduce), and cook 2 minutes.
  3. Drain potatoes in colander set over large bowl, reserving cooking liquid. set drained potatoes aside. Pour off and discard all but 1/2 cup cooking liquid (if 1/2 cup liquid does not remain, add water to make 1/2 cup.) Whisk remaining tablespoon vinegar, mustard, and oil into cooking liquid.
  4. Add 1/2 cup cooked potatoes to bowl with cooking liquid mixture and mash with potato masher or fork until thick sauce forms (mixture will be slightly chunky.) Add remaining potatoes, onion, gherkins, and chives, folding gently with rubber spatula to combine. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Cuisine: Austrian | Recipe Type: Vegetables & Side Dishes
7.6.2
224
http://cultureatz.com/austrian-potato-salad/

 

Pan-Roasted Salsify

Thanks for all your good wishes. I am still fighting this cold. Some days I win, some days the cold winds. But it shall pass. Thus I remain a bit quieter still on the blog front.

OK so raise your hands if you have ever tried salsify before? I knew it, only 2 of you know what this root vegetable is, right? The first I ever heard about salsify was the day my mom mentioned them from her childhood and she said they sorta vanished. Of course I made it my mission to buy some if I ever came across a bunch of salsify. And guess what? That day has come. I purchased them on the same occasion that I bought the topinambour (or Jerusalem Artichoke) . And I am keeping the mystery for a third exotic vegetable discovery that day, to be posted soon.

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I bet I know what you are thinking: you want me to eat that UGLY thing? Yes I do and trust me you will love it. There are two types of salsify actually: the white salfify and the black salsify. I think you guessed I got the black one. It can also be called black oyster plant, serpent root, viper’s herb, viper’s grass. The black salsify is native to Southern Europe and the Near East. Although the skin is black the inside flesh is a creamy white.

There are a few precautions to know before preparing black salsify. The thick black skin exudes a sticky latex substance when peeled before cooking. Some prefer to boil the salsify first and peel once cooled. And once the salsify is peeled you want to immerse it immediately in water with lemon juice added or the flesh will turn brown very rapidly.

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It’s mystical witchy look of course made people think it was miracle cure against the bubonic plague and snake bites. I am sad to say those claims are both false but it is a wonderfully nutritious root vegetable. It contains potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, and vitamins A, B1, E and C.

The salsify taste is reminiscent of artichoke hearts or a delicate asparagus. Some even say it has a faint taste of oysters but I did not think this to be true. I found a wonderful and simple recipe using the pan roasting method on the Eggs on Sunday blog. Basically you boil the salsify first to cook the vegetable and then you roast in a pan with caramelizes a little bit the exterior and intensifies the flavor.

 

Pan-Roasted Salsify
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Ingredients

  • 4 large or 8 thin/small salsify roots
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1–2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • A sprinkling of chopped parsley or thyme

Instructions

  1. Peel the salsify roots and place them in a shallow pan with water to cover, lemon juice, black pepper, bay leaf, and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender (about 20-30 minutes, simmering, based on the thickness of the roots.)
  2. Remove the salsify roots from the liquid and let cool slightly, then cut into small pieces (I cut mine into 2-inch batons.)
  3. Heat some olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat until hot, then add the salsify pieces along with a sprinkle of coarse salt and a grinding or two of fresh black pepper. Cook until golden brown, then toss in the chopped fresh thyme at the end.
Recipe Type: Vegetables & Side Dishes
7.6.2
213
http://cultureatz.com/pan-roasted-salsify/

 

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5 Star Makeover: Retro Aspic Green Bean Casserole

I always find it funny when the theme of the 5 Star Makeover is a holiday that I do not celebrate…at least not at the same time. Nor the same way. Of course I am happy to make a special post to my American readers and wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving this coming Thursday November 22nd.

In Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving on the 2nd Monday of October. The holiday is a celebration of the end of the harvest and giving thanks to the past year, just like the US. But since we are a bit more north of the equator our harvest ends sooner…hence the varying dates. On top of that in my province of Quebec it is just not a big holiday. In my family we traditionally close the family cottage for the winter on Canadian Thanksgiving so we have slightly better meal on the BBQ. No turkey, no sweet potatoes and no green beans.

So when the November theme came out, the classic green bean casserole, I was a bit at a loss. I know what is in this dish but I have never eaten it in my life. And my god can it be any more old fashion? Did you know that this dish was first created in 1955 by the Campbell Soup Company? The word retro got stuck in my head as I was trying to come up with a concept for my gourmet rendition. Why not combine it with the next retro popular food fancy dish of the 1950s: the aspic!

Let’s travel back in time as I set on my Thanksgiving table for you a Retro Aspic Green Bean Casserole. The basic ingredients are all here – green beans, mushrooms, cream of mushroom soup, and homemade healthier french fried onions – just under a very unique presentation.

 

Yields 6-8

Retro Aspic Green Bean Casserole
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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/2 Knox gelatin envelope
  • 1/2 can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 can milk
  • 3/4 pound mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • A big handful of green beans
  • 1/2 tomato, chopped small
  • 1 Knox gelatin envelope
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 3/4 chicken stock
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. Bloom the 1/2 envelope of gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. In the mean time warm the soup and milk in a small pot. Add gelatin to soup mix. Bring to a boil and stir until gelatin is dissolved.
  2. Lightly grease a 6 inch round cake pan with olive oil. Pour soup mix into the pan and refrigerate until set, about 2-3 hours.
  3. Slice mushrooms. Heat olive oil in a pan and brown the mushrooms. Set aside.
  4. In a large pot bring to a boil the green beans in water. Simmer 8-10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Cut green beans down to 2 inches. Mix with tomato.
  5. Bloom the 1 envelope of gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. In the mean time bring to a boil the chicken stock. Add gelatin to stock and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Let cool.
  6. Slice onion 1/4 in thick. Mix flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Dip the onion rings in the flour and fry them on medium heat until brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  7. Place the green beans on top of the set soup mix. Layer mushrooms on top of green beans. Just cover veggies with cooled stock and refrigerate until set, about 8 hours to overnight.
  8. To unmold, pass a knife around the perimeter of the mold. Fill a pot with hot tap water. Place aspic mold in the hot water for 10seconds.
  9. Place a plate on top of mold and flip in one quick move. Lift mold gently.
  10. Top with fried onions.
Cuisine: American | Recipe Type: Vegetables & Side Dishes
7.6.2
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http://cultureatz.com/5-star-makeover-retro-aspic-green-bean-casserole/

 

hosted by 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro Cooks!

Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke and Walnut Salad with Ricotta

As I was catching up on my favorite food blogs the other day I felt so awful for Bren who described how she broke her camera during an event. I also got a bad gut feeling. Well exactly one week later I broke my DSLR lens. I could not believe it. In such a stupid and careless way. I was carrying 50 things at once, including the camera, to toss on the couch as I was planning on downloading picture. Well I loss my grip on the camera and it fell. The UV filter was shattered and and the zoom extending part was crooked.

Well it looks like the body is OK and I was able to download my shots. I also had just received 2 payments on Paypal which now became lens shopping funds. Good timing but would have skipped the whole episode. Found one on Ebay and waiting for the mail man to bring my package. This is one of the recipes that I was thankfully able to download, a Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke and Walnut Salad with Ricotta adapted from this blog post.

Have you broken broken a camera lens before or an expensive electronic ‘toy’?

Back to the salad. Have you ever eaten a Jerusalem Artichoke before? I discovered this vegetable about 10 years back and fell in love. At the time it was really hard to find but it is gaining popularity. My mom said she remembers it from her childhood but I guess was forgotten for a few decades.

In case you are wondering, it is not related to the artichoke nor has it a connection with Jerusalem. It is actually part of the sunflower family and when the Italians started immigrating to North America they called it by the Italian name girasole (sunflower in Italian) which somehow turned into Jerusalem.

And how do we explain the artichoke part? The delicate and earthy taste has a faint resemblance to artichokes. Do not judge it for its tubular root look, this is a refined vegetable to the palate. Most recipes ask to peel them but don’t bother. The skin is thin and totally edible. Just give it a good brushing under cold water. This is a great warm salad that can totally substitute as a meal, it is a hardy portion.

 

Yields 2

Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke and Walnut Salad with Ricotta

A lovely earthy warm salad with Jerusalem Artichokes

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound Jerusalem artichokes, cut in half
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • A head of salad or greens of your choice
  • 2/3 cup ricotta
  • 1tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Place the artichokes on a baking tray lined with aluminum, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put in the oven for about 30min until soft and cooked through.
  2. Put the walnuts on a baking tray. Pop in the oven for about 5min until golden. Take out and leave to cool. Chop roughly.
  3. Prepare the seasoning by mixing together the mustard, the vinegar and olive oil. Toss with the artichokes.
  4. When the artichokes are cooked and warm, prepare 2 plates with greens on the bottom. Spoon the artichokes on top and add the walnuts and ricotta on top. Serve straight away.
Recipe Type: Salads & Soups
7.6.2
214
http://cultureatz.com/roasted-jerusalem-artichoke-and-walnut-salad-with-ricotta/

 

Fried Eggplant Garlic Parsley Dressing

Happy Sunday everyone! I am so very excited today to talk to you about a cookbook that is about to hit the shelves in November 2012. I was very lucky to get an advanced copy by the author, my dear friend and fellow food blogger Faith of the blog An Edible Mosaic. Faith’s cookbook is an absolutely wonderful collection of traditional Middle Eastern dishes. I was so honored to receive a copy of the book because I think the message Faith wants to convey is very close to my blog’s purpose: it is for food lovers, restaurant goers and home cooks who would like to explore a more exotic palate in their plate.

Giveaway: I have a copy of the An Edible Mosaic Cookbook to give away. Check out the end of the post to learn how to enter the draw.

I have been lucky to have made friends over the last 20 years with people from various parts of the Middle East so I have been exposed to classic Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian, Palestinian and so forth dishes. The cuisine has nothing to do with your local Shish Taouk sandwich shop. Faith did not grow up accustomed to these dishes either, not until she met her now husband Mike who is Middle Eastern. She learned to cook these fabulous dishes during the first 6 months of her marriage in her mother-in-law’s kitchen. Faith brought back this treasure of recipes to North America.

In this cookbook you will find such classics as hummus, kebabs and pistachio drenched sweets. But you will discover a whole plethora of delectable flavors which I hope you will try like tabbouleh, saffron rice, stuffed squash with yogurt sauce, beautiful lamb dishes and scented milk puddings. The recipe I prepared is an unusual choice for me: Fried Eggplant with Garlic and Parsley Dressing. I have never been a fan unless it has been cooked and drenched in tomato sauce but made the effort to turn into a now acquired taste. Faith’s husband, Mike, also hates eggplants. His mother always hoped he would one day marry a girl who liked this vegetable. When Faith tasted and fell in love with this recipe she also got her mother-in-law’s blessing. So it just goes to show you never know what can come out of keeping an open mind and trying new foods!

 

Fried Eggplant with Garlic and Parsley Dressing (BATINJAN MEKLEH)
Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic:  Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission.

Serves 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes, plus 30 minutes for the eggplant to drain
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

1 large or 2 small globe eggplants (about 2 lb/900 g)
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 bunch fresh parsley, minced
Oil, for shallow frying

  1. Fully or partially peel the eggplant if desired. (To partially peel it, peel one strip off down the length of the vegetable, then leave the next strip in place and peel the next strip off, and so on). Slice into 1/4 to 1/2 inch (6 mm to 1.25 cm) thick slices (lengthwise or crosswise is fine if you’re using baby eggplant, but if you’re using a large eggplant slice it crosswise).
  2. Sprinkle the salt on both sides of each slice and transfer to a colander; put the colander in the sink and let it sit for 30 minutes. Rinse the eggplant under cold running water, then gently wring out any excess water and pat dry.
  3. Combine the vinegar, water, garlic, and parsley in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Coat the bottom of a large skillet over moderately high heat with oil. Fry the eggplant in batches (so the pan isn’t overcrowded) until golden brown, about 2 to 4 minutes per side. (You can add more oil to the pan if necessary.) Transfer the cooked eggplant to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.
  5. Serve the eggplant warm or at room temperature, along with the dressing to drizzle on top.

Want to win a copy of this cookbook?

3 ways to enter the contest, each way counts as a separate entry so more chances to win!

– Leave a comment in the post!
Share this giveaway on Facebook and leave separate comment
Tweet: I just entered the Edible Mosaic #cookbook #giveaway with @cethniceatz at http://cultureatz.com/a-sneak-peek-at-the-edible-mosaic-cookbook-fried-eggplant-with-garlic-and-parsley-dressing/

This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE. You have till November 4th, 2012, 23h59 EST to enter. GOOD LUCK!