Peru

February 27, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Posted in Central & South America | Leave a comment

Last year, the usual suspects gathered for a faux Anzac day weekend.   Typically Anzac day makes for nice long weekend but unfortunately the RSL are sticklers for taking time off when it’s bloody well appropriate.   Hence, if Anzac day falls on a Saturday, there’s no long weekend.

However, that can’t stop determined people.   So, all four families engineered at least one day off (if not two) and had 4-5 nights at Colo River.   However, the Norths were sh0rt-staffed – Pete had taken two months off to travel South America.

Nearly a year later we were back at Colo and this time Pete was in attendance as we formed the list of countries for this dinner.  He mentioned a fantastic dish where “they just pour lemon juice marinade over raw fish and serve and it’s fanstastic!”  Hence, the dish we’re looking for is Ceviche.

Ceviche is a disputed dish, either originating from Peru or Ecuador.   Impromptu coin toss in my kitchen settles it – today we dine in Peru!

The Plan

I’m short on time to get through all 80 meals so we’ll go for a lunchtime snack.   A quick run to the fish market this morning and I’ll get some nice white fish fillets.  Given the work we’re doing on the house today we’ll need a lot of protein – win!

The Recipe

I grabbed this one from SBS’s food safari.  However, I eliminated the chilli and I served diced avocado as a garnish – the green next to the bright orange potato against the gleaming white fish and purple salad onion made for a great visual treat.

2 fillets of boneless white fish, diced thickly (I used deep sea perch)
½ red onion, finely sliced
1 Peruvian chilli (or a long orange or yellow chilli)
Pinch salt and pepper
Juice from 2 limes
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1 small, sweet potato
1 tbsp raw sugar
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp cloves (optional)
Ice cubes

For the Peruvian chilli paste, boil the chilli and peel the skin. Add a little lime juice, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and in a mortar and pestle grind into a paste.

For the accompanying sweet potato, boil the sweet potato with raw sugar and cinnamon. Leave it to cool and then cut into thick cubes, about 2 cm pieces.

For the salad, combine the diced fish, lime juice and some ice cubes (to keep ingredients fresh) in a metal bowl. Then add the onion, a pinch of salt, a little freshly ground pepper and little chilli paste (not all of it) and mix together. Top with some finely chopped coriander.

In a small shallow bowl place the fish mixture.

Add the cubed sweet potato on the side and serve to eat immediately. The fresher, the better.

The Event

I ended up misreading the resume and used 5 limes instead of 2.  First mistake.  However, the fish did start to turn white within a few minutes.

The Outcome

Liam:  “I cannot believe this!  I hate fish, onion, sweet potato and avocado!  This dish has everything I hate and nothing I like – it’s the worst dish ever!!”

Jacq:  “Um.  It just tastes like lemons”

Chris:   “Liam, just try some  – its just like eating a lemon.  And no Tim, that’s not a good thing over all. ”

Me:   Ok, yes, it was too citrus-y but I loved it.  The sweet potato against the tart fish was a great mixture.  After speaking with Pete, I’ll be trying this again with less lemon and probably sashimi grade salmon.    This is easily the most interesting dish of the tour so far.

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Belize

February 21, 2010 at 8:35 pm | Posted in Central & South America | Leave a comment

Belize is one of those countries that only seems to come up on a games night.    Belize just feels like a bit of unknown – it’s hard to name a famous food, event or even a person from Belize.

One possible reason is that it’s pretty damn small.   It’s less than a quarter the size of Tasmania and it would easily inside the Sydney basin.  Another reason for it’s obscurity is that it was formerly known as British Honduras – a name I really shouldn’t be familiar with given the country was officially renamed only three years after I was born.  I blame the globe my parents bought in the 70s for being out of date.

People of Belize are known as Belizean but at least one web site refers to them as Belinean which rolls off the tongue far more satisfactorily.

The Plan

It turns out that while we’re counting Belize in our Central American leg, the cuisine certainly has it’s roots in the Caribbbean.   Yep, it’s rice and beans again.

http://www.caribbeanchoice.com/recipes/recipe.asp?recipe=145

http://hungrybrowser.com/phaedrus/m082203.htm#3

The Recipe

Belinean Rice & Beans with Stewed Chicken

1 cup of chicken stock
1 cup of rice
1 onion, diced
1 green capsicum, diced
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup red kidney beans
2 cloves of garlic , mashed.
1/2 teaspoon of thyme

1 onion, diced
2 chicken breasts, cut into large cubes
powdered ginger

1.   Lightly fry the onion until translucent.  Stir in the rice and a bit more oil until a few grains start to go translucent. Add the capsicum and garlic and cook for 30 seconds before adding the stock, red kidney beans and  coconut milk.

2.   Add enough additional water to just cover the rice, and bring to a gentle boil.

3.  Fry the chicken and remaining onion in oil, sprinkling liberally with powered ginger.  Once browned, add enough water to cover and stew for 20 minutes.

4.  When the rice is cooked, stir through the thyme.   Strain the chicken and serve over the rice.

The Event

This was a rushed job but it came out OK.   I used too much water and as a result the rice was a bit stodgy.

The Outcome

Liam:  <silence>  (he actually just tuck into it, I can’t recall any whinges what soever)

Jacq:  ”Yum!”

Chris:   “Another keeper.  I like this”

Me:   I was more impressed with the equivalent Rice & Beans from Puerto Rico but this was OK.

Argentina

February 13, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Posted in Central & South America | Leave a comment

I asked my good friend Jayne about Argentina – she lived there with Matthew for around a year.   She was a little unkind about the food – “It’s boring! Nothing but meat, meat and meat.  And it’s always cooked the same – it’s the only country that likes to BBQ more than Australia!”    I think we’re on nice, safe protein-y ground here.

Argentina is the giant of South American – big country, big cows, big economy (formerly), big football reputation, big on everything.   Oh, and once took on Thatcher over a rock.

Jayne and Matthew moved there in the late 90s – Jayne speaks fluent Spanish.   Matthew does not, and apparently even after a year of lessons and living in the country still can only string together “Excuse me sir, but my helicopter appears to be full of eels”.  Shame he’s not been called upon to use it.

The Plan

Jayne was right – the country does have a signature dish called Asado, which essentially looks like one devours a entire cow in well structured manner.   I’m used to having a single meat portion in a meal, not five or six.   But, when in Buenos Aires….

The cupboard is fairly bare tonight, and time is short.  I’m going to use a bit of artistic license here, and skip the offal.

The Recipe

A range of cuts of steak, sliced in fingers
Sausages
A side of pork ribs
BBQ sauce
Brown sugar
Garlic & salt
Corn cobs (4)
Tomatos, Salad Onions, Lettuce, etc

1.   Sprinkle the steak cuts with garlic and salt and put aside for 30 minutes.

2.  Cover the pork ribs liberally in BBQ sauce and sprinkle some sugar over them.  Bake in a 200C oven, covered, for an hour. Turn once at the mid point and re-coat with the sauce and sugar.   Remove the cover after an hour and bake for 10 minutes.

2.  Boil the corn for 10 minutes.

3.  Grill the sausages and steak cuts until nearly cooked.  Place on a meat tray and leave to finish in the oven for 5 minutes.

4.  Make a salad.

The Event

Ok, I’m cheating on this one a little bit:  its not much more than an Aussie barbie.   However, I did make it so we had up to 300gm of meat per person, so it was a bit of a protein overdose.

The Outcome

Liam:  “I’m on my third sausage!”

Jacq:  “Yum!”

Chris:   “My god, I can’t believe how much meat I’ve eaten.  I know why Matthew came home with hemorrhoids”

Me:   Yep, this was a meat fest.   I want to live in South America.

India

February 13, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Posted in South Asia & South-East Asia | Leave a comment

India is one of those countries that really should be a continent rather than a country.  There’s just so much food diversity in the country that I would dearly love to treat it as a region all of it’s own.   One of most favourite recipe books is a rich description of 50 curries of India, detailing all the variations of the cuisine by the regions.    In addition, when a recent curry night at camping showed off the very best of Matthew’s concoctions (the Chicken Tikka Masala, although arguably British) and Pete’s superb  prawn & spinach dish, I just want to go back and eat everything the country has to offer.

However:   we must settle on one meal per country.    As well, there’s a  doozy of a problem:  in addition to being great food, Indian meals are a great outing too.    And while there are many great Indian restaurants in Sydney – Nilgiris, The Clove – the local one is a huge favourite with us and our local mates.   Tommy’s Curry and Tandoori club.

Tommy’s is legendary with our locals.   It’s not particularly exotic or even that spicy but their menu hasn’t changed in 15 years and it’s littered with favourites.   This evening the four of us had one set of our favourites:   Tandoori prawns, butter chicken, daal, Palak Gosht.     Had we had the stomachs of elephants, we also would have had Palak Paneer, Tandoori lamb, Bhuna Gosht and Madras Chicken.

The food is great, familiar and a reliable hit with everyone.  Just don’t bring someone who likes things vigorously hot – nothing’s too spicy.  Cheap and cheerful at it’s best.

Trinidad & Tobago

February 13, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Posted in North America & The Caribbean | Leave a comment

Apart from Canada, we’ve been focusing mostly on dinners.   There’s no particular reason to, it’s just that the most quintessential dish of country trends towards being a dinner.  However, I was very pleased while looking for one of our last stops in Caribbean that one particular country declares their most popular dish to be more-or-less a tropical kebab.

Doubles are a street vendor food from Trinidad and Tobago.      Trinidad and Tobago is one of the old formerly-Spanish-formerly-English countries that litter the Caribbean, and, unknown to me until now, the home of both calypso and the limbo.

Apart from these epic contributions to world culture, the doubles are a curiosity.   They’re essentially a fried bread sandwich, the filling made up of curried chickpeas.    They’re sold all over the country from street vendors

The Plan

I figured this could be done as a surprise country for the family – that easy and simple I could through this together in a half hour

The Recipe

Taken from Trinigourmet

INGREDIENTS:

Bara:
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon gheera (cumin)
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 teaspoon yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1/4 tsp sugar
Oil for frying

Filling (Curried Channa):
1 14 oz channa, tinned
1 tablespoon curry powder
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tsp ground geera (cumin)
1 tsp Pepper sauce
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

METHOD:

1. In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, curry powder and gheera.
2. In a separate small bowl place the warm water, sugar and yeast and set to sponge for 5 minutes.
3. To the flour, add the yeast mixture and enough water to make a slightly firm dough.
4. Mix well, cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours.
5. For the filling, heat the oil in a heavy skillet, add onion, garlic and 1 heaped tablespoon of curry powder mixed with 1/4 cup water.
6. Sauté for a few minutes.
7. Add the channa, stir to coat well and cook for five minutes.
8. Add 1 cup water, gheera, salt and pepper; cover, lower heat and simmer until the peas are very soft (20-30 minutes).
9. When the channa is finished it should be moist and soft.
10. Add pepper sauce and season to taste with additional salt if desired.
11. For the bara: The dough should be punched down and allowed to sit for 10 to 15 minutes
12. To shape the bara, take 1 tablespoon of the dough and flatten to a round, 4 or 5 inches in diameter.
13. Use oil to moisten palms of your hands so that the dough won’t stick to them :)
14. Fry the baras in hot oil until puffy (about 15 seconds per side), turn once and drain on kitchen paper
15. When all are cooked, fill with channa by placing a heaping tablespoon of the cooked filling on each bara, covering with another to form a sandwich

The Event

Making the bread is of course a doddle, and something the kids really liked.     The tumeric makes the dough bright yellow.   Unfortunately the yeast must have been old as I barely got a rise out of it.   No matter – the spreading out of the bread into little discs and then frying it up turned them quickly golden&  puffy (albeit very oily).

The channa was also simple.    I didn’t have Trinidadian curry powder, just some stock standard Keens.

The Outcome

Jaqueline: “This is good.   I like it a lot”

Liam: “The bread it like a chip, so that’s good.  But the filling is like yuck.”

Chris:  ”It’s alright.  Not bad for fast food.  Although, there must be a large amount of farting in the country of origin.”

Me:  Really quite nice.  The cucumber was essential to complement the curry mix.  The bread was a little too oily for my liking.    Next time I’ll ensure I use better yeast so the bread is bit more….er, bready.

Haiti

February 3, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Posted in North America & The Caribbean | Leave a comment

Haiti’s a sadder story, both recently and historically.  An earthquake that killed over 150,000 is obviously the most recent  horrific news, but this is against a backdrop of  country has suffered through a variety of shockingly bad governments that have lead this country to be one of the most violent, impoverished and arguably corrupt nation in the Western hemisphere.

From a food point of view, the national favourite seems to be Griots, a orange marinated pork dish.   As a side, the regional standard black beans and rice has a local variant, red kidney beans and rice.

The Plan

We still have the issue of the fact Chris doesn’t like pork – roast, grilled, fried:  it’s a barrier I need to get past.  This recipe calls for pork shoulder, but I think I’ll substitute this for pork loin – it’s a cleaner, fresher flavour.

The Recipes

I got both of these from Whats4Eats

Griots

  • Pork shoulder, cubed — 4 pounds
  • Onion, thinly sliced — 1
  • Green or red bell pepper, thinly sliced — 1
  • Scotch bonnet peppers, chopped (optional) — 1 or 2
  • Shallots, thinly sliced — 2 or 3
  • Garlic, chopped — 3 or 4 cloves
  • Thyme — 2 teaspoons
  • Salt — 2 teaspoons
  • Pepper — 1 teaspoon
  • Oranges — 2
  • Limes — 3
  • Oil — 1/4 cup

Method

  1. Add the pork and all the other ingredients except the oil to a large, non-reactive bowl and mixt together well. Refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours to let the meat soak up the marinade.
  2. Oven to 375°F. Place the pork and its marinade into a large roasting pan and cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil. Place in the oven and roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the pork is tender.
  3. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Remove any extra liquid in the pan, putting it into a saucepan, and set aside. Add the oil to the pan and stir it into the meat. Return the roasting pan to the oven and let the pork cook for 20 to 30 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Any liquid will evaporate away and the meat will begin to fry in the oil and brown.
  4. While the meat is frying in the oven, place the saucepan with the reserved liquid on the top of the stove and boil it down until it is well reduced and thickens. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and mix the reduced sauce into the browned pork. Serve hot with with sos ti-malisbanan peze and a side of pikliz.

Diri ak Pwa

4 to 6 servings

  • Olive oil — 1/4 cup
  • Onion, finely chopped — 1
  • Bell pepper, finely chopped — 1
  • Garlic, minced — 3 to 4 cloves
  • Tomato sauce — 1/2 cup
  • Red Kidney beans, cooked — 2 cups
  • Thyme –1 teaspoon
  • Oregano — 2 teaspoons
  • Bay leaf — 1
  • Rice — 1 cup
  • Water or stock — 1 3/4 cups
  • Red wine vinegar — 1 tablespoon
  • Salt and pepper — to taste

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium flame. Add the onion and bell pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add tomato sauce, beans and herbs and simmer for 5-10 minutes to meld flavors.
  3. Stir in the rice, stock or water and vinegar and season well with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover tightly and simmer for 15 to 18 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and let set covered for another 5-10 minutes. Then stir lightly with a fork and serve.

The Event

This was a dead easy dinner to cook – baking the pork is a no-brainer, and the rice is easy too.  Jacq helped with all the rice and went a bit overboard on the tomato sauce, but it worked out great.

However:  the use of loin was a bad call.  Without the fat, the meat was drier than the Nullabor.

The Outcome

Jaqueline: “I don’t like the meat, so that gets 1/5.  But the rice is 4/5!”

Liam: “Really good Dad.”

Chris:  “Ooh, you can cook the rice again.  Not the pork.

Me:  Disappointed with the pork, but I’ll give it another go next time with decent pork shoulder.

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