It’s been so long since I’ve posted anything for My Kitchen, My World that I’m surprised Susan hasn’t kicked me out of the club. Every week that I’ve missed, I’ve still researched recipes to figure out what I would make… but then never made them. I missed some good countries, too – the USA, Jamaica, England, Indonesia, Lithuania.
For this week, Aunt Lolo of The Chow Review was up and she chose India. Now, I’ve had Indian cuisine enough to know what I like and don’t like. I wouldn’t say I’ve had much success with Indian food other than naan bread. A lot of the stuff that I’ve tried just doesn’t have that sweet element that I always go for and the spices are a bit too overwhelming. I picked up Mark Bittman’s book The Best Recipes in the World and settled on an Indian recipe called Blazing Hot Shrimp Curry in Coconut Milk. I’m not a big fan of yellow or red curry (I love green though), but I figured I’d be alright since the coconut milk was a main ingredient. It was a pretty easy recipe really, finished in less than 20 minutes. The rice took longer to cook than the actual meal. I didn’t change much from the recipe except I didn’t use 25-30 dried chiles, because I still can’t find them around here anywhere. I just used crushed red pepper and kept adding it until I thought I should probably stop.
It tasted good. It had a kick but really only at the beginning and the end, it was a *tad* bland in the middle. Which was ok, I mean I didn’t want to be freaking out and gasping for water from too much spiciness. But I have to get my hands on dried chiles, this is two recipes now where I’ve substituted them for something else and the dishes have come out a lot less fiery than I expected.
The recipe for Mark Bittman’s Blazing Hot Curry Shrimp in Coconut Milk is already online here, along with some questions answered by the man himself.
Make sure to stop by the My Kitchen, My World site to see what everyone came up with for India. With how busy I am during the week with overtime at work and how busy I am on the weekend with everything else, the MKMW posting kind of has to take a back seat for a while. I hope to participate a little more often than I have lately, but I guess it all just depends on how things work out. Until next time…
For week 8, the My Kitchen, My World group is cooking food from China in honor of the 2008 Olympic Games. I’ve been super busy lately, I wasn’t even sure if I had enough energy to get this post done. But here I am, and only two days late.
Beijing, China is a place I have visited and it was one of my most favorite places that I’ve gone. My boyfriend, his best friends and I took a trip there this past March for five days which wasn’t anywhere near long enough. But we did get to see a lot in the short time we were there. My boyfriend travelled extensively overseas for his last job so he’s gotten to see a lot of cool places. Sometimes it gets hard to plan vacations because he kind of has been there, done that with everything. But China is one place all four of us had never gone so we eventually all settled on it. A quick fourteen hour plane ride and we were there…
I’m the kind of person that will only stay in a hotel room to shower and sleep. The rest of the time, I have to be out going non-stop. There was so much to see and do in Beijing that I was exhausted every single night. Some of the things we did: Forbidden City, Tian’anmen Square, the Great Wall, Jingshan Park, Beihai Park, Beijing Zoo, Houhai Lake, Temple of Heaven, Ming Tombs, a jade factory, walked through many hutongs, and even visited a Chinese hospital for a traditional check up.
We also got the chance to see the Bird’s Nest, the Cube and the construction of the Olympic village which was amazing. It was evident that the city was going through a massive overhaul to prepare for the 2008 Olympics. It was quite impressive to see people working day and night in order to prepare. You could tell there was huge pride in being the host and it showed absolutely everywhere.
My favorite parts of Beijing centered (suprisingly?) around the food. The Wangfujing Night Market was definitely a highlight, here you could find street vendors selling anything from sugared fruit on a stick to octopus to scorpions to grub worms to pretty much anything squiggly and wiggly. We tried everything between the four of us. Ever heard of a century egg? Looks and sounds gross, but it tastes good. Of course, the Peking Duck was amazing (we had the 115,002,273th served at the restaurant we went to). The shark fin soup in a papaya was to die for. The bakeries were phenomenal! Totally decked out fancy desserts all for… get this… about 70 cents. I could go on and on with all the wonderful food we ate, I really could. But I need to get to bed soon.
Me eating grasshoppers… they were very papery like.
My boyfriend and I took 2,650 pictures while we were there. One of my best friends joked that I only saw Beijing through a camera lens. We took the best pictures and had a really nice hardcover book made through one of Apple’s picture programs. We have so many good memories from Beijing, everything was such a new and fun experience. All of the history is truly mind boggling, especially when I think of America and what a young country we are in comparison. We plan on going back the first chance we get, this time to stay for a longer time and to venture outside the main city more.
So, on to the food I made for this week’s MKMW. I wanted to stay more on the traditional Chinese side instead of the Chinese-American I know and love so well. I found The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook by Gloria Bley Miller at my local library and looked through that for days trying to figure out what to make. In the end I tried to find a recipe where I already had everything on hand that I needed and that eventually led me to Stir Fried Shrimp with Almonds.
This was a very simple recipe. It called for shrimp, toasted almonds, ginger root, cornstarch, salt and celery (which I didn’t use) stir fried in a sauce of garlic, soy sauce, sherry, water and pepper (which I added after the picture was taken). It was so fast to make, the rice took so much longer to cook. I thought this was pretty good. Though I do like most of my food with a sweeter element that this dish just didn’t have. I would definitely go for something with a little more sweetness over this next time, maybe a stir fry with pineapple instead.
Make sure you stop by My Kitchen, My World to see everyone else’s creations this week. There was some really amazing dishes that were made by all the talented members.
This week, the My Kitchen, My World group went to Mexico to find culinary inspiration. I went to Mexico on a cruise back in January of 2003 and we went to Cozumel on one of our stops. Talk about the most beautiful beaches and crystal blue water I have ever seen, it was amazing. I’m used to gray oceans around here where I live.
I had to think for a while about what I would choose to make this week. I knew I would not be able to post on Saturday like I was supposed to due to timing issues. So I decided to wait until Sunday morning and make a common Mexican breakfast – Huevos Rancheros.
Huevos Rancheros translates to “Eggs Ranch Style”. Common versions consist of fried corn tortillas, a tomato based sauce and fried eggs. It’s a dish that I’ve never had before. One of my best friends eats Huevos Rancheros every Saturday at a popular local Mexican place so I decided this challenge was the perfect time for me to try it out for myself.
The sauce is probably the most complex thing to make in this dish and it’s not even hard. The recipe I used called for charring the tomatoes, onion and pepper before pureeing in a blender with a little salt and garlic. The tortillas are fried two at a time for about 30 seconds each. The eggs were cooked over medium heat for about 3 to 4 minutes. Then everything is put together and covered with some cheese and a little cilantro. Nothing to it really. This doesn’t have to just be a breakfast meal either.
Um, excuse the chip in my plate. Thanks.
I ended up using the Huevos Rancheros recipe in the big yellow Gourmet cookbook. I found a simplified version online at Epicurious that is worth checking out:
Click here for Gourmet’s Huevos Rancheros Recipe
Things I learned this week: I fried an egg for the first time ever (I think). Usually I just scramble them. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not much of a cook (I’ve always been partial to baking) so a lot of these techniques coming up in the future will probably be new to me. Just like cooking a whole chicken was last week – which I cooked and served upside down but hey… whatever.
Also, I HATE cilantro. I really do. It’s like the Seinfeld where Newman is forced to eat broccoli, he spits it out and exclaims “VILE WEED!”. That’s EXACTLY how I feel about cilantro. The taste and the smell just put me off. But anyway, I put the hate aside and used it in this recipe and it made it through ok.
Thanks to Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies who chose Mexico for all of us. Make sure you stop by her blog to check out her Mexican meal. And then stop by the My Kitchen, My World site to see everyone else’s.
On another note:
Susan of She’s Becoming doughMESStic who created the My Kitchen, My World blog event has also recently began Operation Baking Gals, a group that will bake monthly and send the baked goods overseas to troops stationed in Iraq.
About a week ago, Susan put out a call for help from fellow bloggers to help her bake enough goodies to send to her cousin stationed in Iraq and all of his troop mates. Within a few hours, she got such a tremendous response from people willing to help her out that she decided to create Operation Baking GALS (Give a Little Support) in order to keep it going to send homebaked goodness to other troops as well. The VERY FIRST package of cookies have been received by the soldiers and you can see the post with pictures over at the Operation Baking Gals site. I’m excited for Susan, this is amazing!!
If you’d like to join in, stop by Operation Baking Gals to sign up!
This week, the My Kitchen, My World bloggers went to Greece. Susan of She’s Becoming doughMESStic bestowed upon me the wonderful opportunity to choose the country for Week Six. Without hesitation, I knew that Greece was my choice.
When I was about fifteen, I lived with my best friend and her Greek family for a little less than a year. I was having troubles at home and they took me in with no questions asked and treated me like I was one of their own. I have many great memories from this time from being exposed to so many of the family’s Greek customs, traditions and ways of daily life. I eventually learned how to follow the language, they mostly spoke only Greek at home and I got good at being able to understand conversations even though I couldn’t speak the language very well myself.
And, of course, I was exposed to the cuisine.
At the young age of 15, I had never experienced foods like Grape Leaves, Lamb, Feta Cheese and even Olive Oil. So it was a great experience to try so many new and unheard of things. My favorite meal would hands down be Chicken and Potatoes with Lemon and Herbs. Especially the potatoes. You just can’t go wrong there. And that’s what I decided to make for this week’s event. It’s a simple recipe, but it tastes great. And it brings together traditional Greek ingredients such as Olive Oil, Lemon and Oregano in just the right way. I haven’t had this dish in almost fifteen years, that just doesn’t seem right!
Update: Don’t cook and serve your chicken upside down like I did. I’m just sayin’.
Greek Lemon Chicken and Potatoes
1 whole chicken
half a cup of olive oil
2/3 pinches of oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
4/5 potatoes cut in half
Click here for directions and to see where I originally found the recipe.
And dinner just wouldn’t be complete without dessert, now would it? And my favorite Greek dessert is Rice Pudding. So of course I had to make that, too.
Ryzogalo (Rice Pudding)
1 1/4 cups of water
3/4 cups of short grain rice
2 1/2 cups of whole milk
3/4 cup of sugar *
3 3/4 tablespoons of cornstarch
3 egg yolks
For the topping: ground cinnamon
Click here to see the directions.
Things I learned this week: I’ve always been a fan of the boneless, skinless chicken breast variety so I had never cooked an actual whole chicken before. I will say that it was kind of strange and I felt kind of guilty as I was preparing to cook it. Now that it’s all said and done, I guess it wasn’t that bad.
Thanks again to Susan of She’s Becoming doughMESStic for starting this awesome blog event. Both weeks that I’ve participated have challenged me in the kitchen in different ways. See you next Saturday for the next installment of My Kitchen, My World. For now, head on over to the MK,MW site to see all of the Greek dishes the other bloggers created.
My boyfriend and I are very adventurous when it comes to eating different cuisines, yet we don’t cook like that at home. So when I found out that Susan of She’s Becoming Doughmesstic has recently started a new blogging group called My Kitchen, My World, I knew I wanted to join. I figured it would be a great way to challenge myself in the kitchen. Each week, MKMW members cook and blog their way through cuisines from different countries. One big difference with this group from other groups I belong to is that once the country is announced, you have seven days to pick whatever it is YOU want to make. The recipes are not selected by someone else. This was actually really hard for me since my first week of participation was Italy… and there’s TONS of awesome Italian dishes to choose from.
I researched, and then researched some more, and some more. And then I couldn’t make a decision at all. I was originally going to prepare a full meal but life got in the way and time ran out. As it is, I’m already posting this entry a day late.
I’ve never been to Italy but it’s definitely on my list of places to go. A few years ago, my boyfriend lived in Rome for a few months while on a job assignment. I didn’t get a chance to visit him over there at that time. Of course I regret that now. Hopefully soon I’ll get to experience Italy for myself and figure out my favorite part. I’m sure food will be one of my top answers.
Anyway, I finally settled on Penne All’Arrabbiata, a well known Italian pasta dish with a spicy tomato sauce. Arrabbiata translates to “furious”, “angry” or “enraged”. I looked across the internet and found plenty of recipes calling for crushed red pepper for the heat. But I’ve had this one pasta book for a few years that I’ve never made anything out of so I decided I was going to use that book no matter what. This recipe called for dried red chiles, not crushed red pepper. I couldn’t find dried mushrooms or dried chiles so I just used fresh (which I know is not the same flavor profile as dried). Honestly, while very good, the version I made could have been a bit spicier. I was pretty conservative and the sauce tasted semi spicy all by itself, but not when it was mixed with the pasta and cheese. I don’t even think you can see the chiles in the sauce from the pictures. Still though, it was a great introduction for me to other homemade Italian recipes besides lasagne and spaghetti and meatballs. I definitely want to try this recipe again and perfect it to just that right level of “arrabbiataness”.
adapted from The Complete Book of Pasta
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms (I had to use fresh)
7 tablespoons butter
5 oz pancetta
1-2 dried red chiles, to taste (I had to use fresh)
8 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
a few fresh basil leaves, torn, plus extra for garnish
3 cups fresh or dried penne
1 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated (or 2/3 grated parmesan and 1/3 grated Pecorino)
salt, to taste
Soak dried mushrooms in water for 15-20 minutes (if using dried), drain. Finely chop mushrooms. Melt 4 tbsp butter in skillet. Add pancetta and cook over medium heat until crispy. Remove pancetta from pan, set aside. Add mushrooms, cook over medium heat and then remove and set aside. Add chile and garlic and cook until garlic is slightly browned. Add tomatoes, basil and salt (to taste). Cook tomato mixture for 10-15 minutes, cooking the penne during this time. Add the pancetta and mushrooms to sauce, taste for seasoning and hotness and add more chile if necessary. Drain pasta, add remaining butter. Stir cheese into pasta then pour in tomato sauce. Stir to combine. Garnish with fresh basil. Serve immediately. Enjoy!