Maraq Fahfah (Somali Soup)

It’s time for the MENA (Middle Eastern & North African) Cooking Group. This monthly group has for goal to help us discover the culture and cuisine of the countries found in these parts of the world. The host of the month will choose a savory and a sweet dish from the country and the members pick one dish to make.

This month we are exploring Djibouti and I chose to go with the Maraq Fahfah (or Somali soup).

Somali Maraq Fahfah Soup

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

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.

meat and potatoes 007

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

SRC Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadilla

I have the name in hand of the winner of the An Edible Mosaic cookbook contest! Chosen by random.org, the winning number is 37. I hope you enjoy your prize.

Congratulations to Victoria of Flavors of the Sun

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 month I got a great blog called Everyday Mom which is authored by Kim. Like me, Kim began cooking at a very young age after she received her first cookbook.  She does not mention the cookbook, I remember mine was Disney character based but printed in France so it was all metric. Kim and I also share a dangerous bond: a sweet tooth, oh the hips! Kim is quite the baker and she enjoys the help of her 3 little assistants.

Lots of great family recipes here. I ultimately settled on the Black Bean Sweet Potato Quesadilla recipe. I really enjoyed them a lot and the sweet potato really made them unique. I used Havarti cheese.

I am proud to say this post will be part of this week’s Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up #18 over at Gastronomical Sovereignty, a link-up to encourage fresh food production, consumption, activism, and awareness.

 

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadilla

A great twist on the Quesadilla vegetarian style

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Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 large can black beans
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp taco seasoning mix
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • Tortillas
  • Monterey cheese, shredded

Instructions

  1. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into thin rounds. Place in bowl drizzle with olive oil and add seasoning. Cook on high in microwave for 4 minutes. Mix halfway through cooking.
  2. Drain and rinse beans. In a skillet add a drizzle of olive oil and garlic, cook for 3-5 minutes. Add beans, seasoning mix and salsa cook until warm.
  3. Over a medium heat, in a skillet lightly coated with oil, warm both sides of one tortilla, just until light golden brown. Remove from pan and add second tortilla, again lightly browning both sides. When browning second side add a spoonful of each filling, salsa and a handful of cheese. Top with the first tortilla, cover with a lid that will press the tortilla down. Cook until cheese begins to melt.
  4. Keep warm in 200° oven, while assembling additional quesadillas.
  5. Serve with salsa, avocado or sour cream
Cuisine: Mexican | Recipe Type: Main Course
7.6.4
209
http://cultureatz.com/src-black-bean-and-sweet-potato-quesadilla/

Caldo de Papas y Cilantro: Potatoes and Coriander Soup from the Canary Islands

When I discuss ethnic food with people there are always the usual suspects that come up: Italian, Asian, Middle-Eastern and the occasionally more exotics fares like African for example. But sometime I love to research really small destinations to see if they have a typical dish, an unusual herb, or a unique specialty. This time my searches lead me to the Canary Islands.

These Spanish islands are located on the west coast of Africa, near Morocco. The landscape is African, the culture all European. The most mystifying island to me is Lanzarote. All the Canary Islands are of volcanic origin but Lanzarote is mystical with its incredible rock formations from created by solidifies lava streams, craters and caves, best seen in the Timanfaya National Park. Surprisingly there are a few gorgeous beaches amidst the rugged coastline. Even more unexpected are the Lanzarote vineyards. The vines are planted in rock pits and covered with soil and volcanic ash. The ash retains the morning dew, keeping the vines perfectly humidified.

Canarian cuisine includes plentiful fish, stews, potato dishes and mojo sauces. Today I bring you a wonderful potato soup which is topped off with a poached egg that is cooked right into the soup. Play around with the amount of potatoes and vegetables, as well as the seasoning. It looks like  very simple soup but it is very nourishing. I thought the flavor really developed overnight and it was even better the next day when I added leftover chicken to the broth.

Ξ Caldo de Papas y Cilantro Ξ

1 onion
2 pounds of peeled potatoes (mix different kinds)
2 tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
8 to 10 cups water
2 cube vegetable or chicken stock
A few sprigs of coriander
salt
2 oz olive oil
saffron
4 eggs

Chop onion normally and all other all vegetables in chunky pieces.

Heat a little bit of oil in a large stock pot, and sautee onion until translucent.

Add potatoes, tomatoes and the bell peppers. Add water, stock cubes, olive oil, saffron, salt, and coriander.

Bring to a rolling boil, then cover and simmer on low for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are cooked. Adjust seasoning.

Keeping the pot on the heat, crack the raw eggs into it and leave it some minutes until the eggs are cooked.

Cretan Memories with Boureki

Have you entered my GIVEAWAY yet which celebrates my 5th Blogiversary? Ends June 22 2012…hurry do it now!

As I was dusting my bookshelf my attention was focused on a series of 6 huge photo albums. Yes the actual printed pre digital kind. All of these albums are exclusively trips. When I was younger I did a lot of backpacking trips or loner road trips across Europe and North America. I could not help but pick an album up and go down memory lane. It hit me it could be cool to tell you a little bit about these trips and share a recipe from that destination…those are some pretty Ethnic Eatz, Cheap too hi hi. And the recipe for this trip is Boureki. This is a classic Cretan dish made with sliced zucchini, sliced potatoes, mizithra or feta cheese and mint. This may look simple and not too pretty but wow it is ever flavor packed.

So this time around I picked up an album from a Greek island cruise I took back in 2001. I am a fan of archaeological sites and there are plenty in that part of the world. Let’s look today at the Palace of Knossos, a mus destination for your holidays to Crete. I took digital pictures of some prints I have from that trip…check them out. Crete was the center of the Minoan civilization, a sophisticated Bronze Age culture from 2600-1150 BC. The largest archaeological site is the Palace of Knossos home of King Minos. Built very much like a maze, the palace inspired the myth of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur, one of the most famous tales from Greek mythology.

The king of Crete, king Minos, refused to sacrifice the beautiful snow-white bull sent to him by Poseidon and had a plain bull sacrificed instead. Poseidon found out about the switch and exacted his revenge by forcing Minos’s wife to fall in love with the bull (oh those liberal Greeks). Their copulation resulted in the birth of the mythical beast, the Minotaur. Minos had a gigantic labyrinth constructed to hold the Minotaur captive. Minos sent seven boys and seven girls every seven years to be sacrificed by the Minotaur. When the third sacrifice approached, Theseus, son of king Aegeus, volunteered to slay the monster. Ariadne, daughter of Minos, fell in love at first sight, and helped him by giving him a sword and a ball of thread, so that he could find his way out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth. Theseus killed the Minotaur. On his return home, Theseus neglected, however, to put up the white sail, indicating his victory. King Aegeus, from his lookout, saw the black-sailed ship approaching and, presuming his son dead, committed suicide by throwing himself into the sea named after him, the Aegean Sea.

Photos from my trip in 2001 to Crete and Knossos Palace

So now you can say you learned something new today. No go make some Boureki while you contemplate!

Ξ Boureki Ξ
adapted from Explore Crete

1.5 zucchini
1 big potato
1 tomato
150gr feta
1/2 bunch mint or 1 tsp dried
8 tablespoons yogurt
1/2 wineglass olive oil
Salt, pepper, oregano
All-purpose flour

Cut zucchini, potatoes and tomatoes into thin rounds then sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano. Toss potatoes and zucchini with flour in a zip-lock bag. In an oiled medium sized pan, layer half of the potatoes and zucchini. Then spread half of the feta and half of the mint over the top. Repeat the procedure with the remaining potatoes, zucchini and tomato. Spread the remaining feta and mint over the top. Spoon on yogurt and drizzle olive oil. Add enough water to almost cover. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F for about two hours. Serve warm.

 

Ariosto Italian Seasoning

I enjoying writing the occasional product review because it give me an chance to try foods or spices I would probably never discover otherwise. Often the items I get are not even available in Canada yet which is kind of funny. Most companies who contact me are located in the US even if the item is prepared on another continent. But this time it was an international company that sought me out directly…really cool. I received an email by the Ariosto company which is located in Italy. Ariosto seasonings, apparently one of the top selling spice brands in Italy, have been harnessing their craft for over 47 years.

Ah Italy, it is one of those countries that influenced me the most in my travels. If I could just pick up and go I would be looking for the best holiday deals right now and fly off to to this enchanting country.

Ξ  Tomato and Meat sauce Ξ

7gr tomato based pasta sauces
1 tbsp olive oil
1 17oz can of tomatoes, whole
1 pd ground beef

In a skillet heat olive oil and spices together for a minute until fragrant. Add ground beef and brown meat well until there is no more pink. Add canned tomatoes, bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer 20 min. Serve over pasta and sprinkle some freshly shaved Parmesan.

The flavor of the sauce was simple but good. I modified the suggested recipe of 1/4 pd of beef because I like my sauce meaty, and oh boy it was. Happy carnivore.

There are several mixes of the Italian seasoning spices to choose from. I tested the following:

  • Seasoning for tomato based pasta sauces: salt, garlic, basil, onion, carrot, parsley, leek, laurel, mint, caper.
  • Seasoning for roasted and fried potatoes: Salt, garlic, rosemary, sage, juniper, basil, marjoram, oregano, laurel, coriander, parsley.
  • Seasoning for roasted meats grilled chicken: Salt, rosemary, garlic, sage, juniper, laurel, oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil.
  • Also available seasoning for oven cooked or Barbequed Fish, Garlic and dry chilli, and for stewed Meat.

The potato seasoning was really excellent and flavorful. I par boiled the potatoes and fried them in a pan with lots of butter. The meat mix I used with a mild sausage that I removed from the casing and browned in a skillet with tons of sliced leeks. I found the sausage mix over salted but I may have used to much seasoning.

Crazy Cooking Challenge with Mashed Potatoes

Phew, 2 cooking challenges in one day! This has happened as you know in the past and usually I manage to hit two birds with one stone. But since these 2 challenges must be published at a specific time I had no such luxury. But I could make sure the 2 challenges could compliment each other!

So welcome to my first participation with the Cray Cooking Challenge. This challenge is the brainchild of Mom’s Crazy Cooking.I n this challenge we are given a theme: this month it was Mashed Potatoes. Now here is the twist, the recipe must be found on another food blogger’s website. Only catch is that it cannot be a famous blogger or chef. I love a new challenge!

As I mentioned above this is my second challenge today. The first one for the Secret Recipe Club where I posted a recipe for Green Chutney, an Indian condiment. I really wanted to find a mashed potato recipe that I could serve my Green Chutney with. I found such a recipe at Cook Me Healthy with a Indian-Spiced Vegetable Cakes post. Technically the original recipe is not mashed potatoes so I modified things a bit and voilà.

The result was an amazing burst of flavors in every mouth full. I have to admit at first having Indian flavors in mashed potatoes was a bit confusing for my brain…but I adjusted quickly. It was fantastic, especially served with a hefty dollop of Green Chutney.

Ξ Indian-Spiced Vegetable Cakes Ξ

Ingredients

1 ½ lb potatoes, skin on, cubed
1 small yellow zucchini (I only found green, blah late fall)
1 rep bell pepper
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 small green chili pepper, finely minced- check for heat first!
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Salt to taste

Directions

First steam or boil the potato cubes until tender. When fully cooked, set aside to cool. In the meantime, add the zucchini and bell pepper to a food processor and process until very finely minced. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and process briefly. Mash the potatoes with a manual masher and add a touch of butter and milk, I like my mashed potatoes still a bit chunky. Stir gently in the vegetable mix with the mashed potatoes. To serve, scoop a dollop of chutney onto the warm mashed potatoes on a plate.

Yep my favorite masher is my grandmother's old pastry cutter.

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