Savory Saturday: Omani Cuisine

I was fantasizing about someone booking a trip for me to Oman yesterday. It didn’t quite work, but I can at least cook a meal to transport me to the area, if I were to close my eyes (ps – I won’t handle a knife while my eyes are closed).

Chicken Maqbous

  • 1 WHOLE CHICKEN, cut
  • 1 TBSP BAHARAT
  • 2 ONIONS, chopped
  • 2 DRIED LIMES, cut
  • 1 GREEN PEPPER, chopped
  • 2 CLOVES GARLIC, chopped
  • 3 TOMATOES, cubed
  • PIECE OF GINGERROOT, grated
  • HANDFUL CORIANDER LEAVES, cut
  • 2 CUPS RICE

Stir fry the onion, garlic, limes and pepper for three minutes. Sprinkle the chicken with half of the baharat, add it to the onion and fry until brown on all sides. Add the tomatoes, the remaining baharat and gingerroot and salt to taste and bring to the boil; simmer for half an hour. Take out the chicken and put it under the grill for 15 minutes or so. In the meantime, add as much water as needed to the tomato sauce for the amount of rice. Bring this to the boil, add the rice and simmer for 20 minutes; add the coriander. Put the grilled chicken on top of the rice.

Yum YUM! Can’t wait to try it.

Savory Saturday – Jolly ol’ England

I am having flashbacks of some English food I was “forced” to eat growing up. One included Shepherd’s Pie and I remember absolutely haaaating it! But now I feel like my tastebuds have ‘grown-up’ and that I should give this traditional English dish another try.

Wish me luck:

Easy Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground round beef
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1-2 cups vegetables – chopped carrots, corn, peas
  • 1 1/2 – 2 lbs potatoes (3 big ones)
  • 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice

Method

1 Peel and quarter potatoes, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).

2 While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 Tablespoons butter (1/2 a stick) in large frying pan.

3 Sauté onions in butter until tender over medium heat (10 mins). If you are adding vegetables, add them according to cooking time. Put any carrots in with the onions. Add corn or peas either at the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat has initially cooked.

4 Add ground beef and sauté until no longer pink. Add salt and pepper. Add worcesterchire sauce. Add half a cup of beef broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth as necessary to keep moist.

5 Mash potatoes in bowl with remainder of butter, season to taste.

6 Place beef and onions in baking dish. Distribute mashed potatoes on top. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. You can use the fork to make some designs in the potatoes as well.

7 Cook in 400 degree oven until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes). Broil for last few minutes if necessary to brown.

Yield: Serves four.

 

Enjoy!!

Quote for Sunday – South Africa

I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself.

Nelson Mandela

Savory Saturday – Bredie

Welcome to South African cuisine – this sounds delicious and I cannot wait to try it out!

Bredie/South African Lamb Stew

Bredies are simple, traditional South African mutton stews in the Cape Malay tradition. The most popular are green bean bredie, tomato bredie and cabbage bredie. A basic bredie recipe is listed here, with the more common variations below. (Tip: A bredie will always taste better served the day after it is made.)

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Stewing mutton or lamb, cut into cubes — 1 1/2 pounds
  • Oil — 3 tablespoons
  • Onion, chopped — 1
  • Seasonings (see variations) — to taste
  • Water or white wine — 1/2 cup
  • Vegetables (see variations) — 1 pound
  • Potatoes, cubed — 3
  • Salt and pepper — to taste

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high flame. Add the mutton or lamb in batches and brown well. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add the onion and desired seasonings to the pot and saute until the onions are cooked down and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add back the browned meat and pour in the water or wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to very low, cover tightly, and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Stir in the desired vegetables, potatoes, salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium and return to a boil. The reduce heat to low again, cover and simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. Adjust seasoning and serve with rice or slices of hearty bread.

Key word: Pho!

Photo of the Day: Monday morning in Ho Chi Minh City

by Jessica Marati (RSS feed) on Jan 31st, 2012 at 6:00PM

Each morning in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, mobile street vendors brave the city’s frenetic traffic to hawk breakfast specialties like banana patties, pho, and other popular Vietnamese street foods. A typical Monday morning scene is captured in today’s monochrome Photo of the Day from Flickr user Jeryc Garcia.

I am drooling at this very moment. No lie! Pho….mmmm pho.

Savory Saturday – Eating Ethiopian

I’ve tried Tuscany, Italy and Montreal, Canada so far on my new adventure to test out my cooking skills every Saturday.

I really need to start taking more pictures of this process.

BUT it’s very hard for me. I am new to cooking and I am hungry 24/7, so once I start chopping, assembling, baking and timing…I cannot wait any longer.

I need to EAT!

Blue Nile Falls

This weekend, my boyfriend is away and is sometimes a bit shy to warm toward my experiments. So I thought I would start delving into new cuisine realms and try exotic Ethiopian food.

I am not sure if it is as popular in other cities, but for the past 7 years of living in Toronto, I have heard countless time again that the Ethiopian  restaurants in the T.O. have some of the best food around.

So!

Inspired by a few very popular, very delicious sounding restaurants in Toronto (from BlogTO):

1. Nazareth

At Dovercourt and Bloor, Nazareth has a line-up out the door nightly. The small, intimate space has limited seating but the delicious food served in large portions for (surprisingly) low prices make it well worth waiting for a table. It’s a short menu, but most people just order the veggie platter that easily serves two hungry people for only $8. Wander in for a beer on a Saturday night and Nazareth’s regulars might even be having a quiet and charming dance party.

2. Addis Ababa

This staple of Ethiopian cuisine has been in business in the Queen and Dufferin area for 20 some odd years. Between the traditional coffee ceremony, the wide array of hoppy Ethiopian beers, the great dishes and the walls adorned with Ethiopian warriors and kings, Addis Ababa offers the full experience.

3. Lalibela

This popular spot now has two locations, one at Bloor and Ossington and another over near Danforth and Coxwell. They serve up a mean beef tibs and the price is right. With a little more seating than some of the others, this is a great place for bigger groups or those just looking to avoid line-ups at the nearby alternatives.

…..here is my attempt at a delicious meal:

Yataklete Kilkil

Source

(Ethiopian gingered vegetable stew)

Ingredients

  • New potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks — 6
  • Carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds — 4
  • Green beans, trimmed and cut in half — 1/2 pound
  • Onion, chopped — 2
  • Garlic, minced — 2 cloves
  • Gingerroot, peeled and minced — 1 tablespoon
  • Chile pepper, minced — 2 to 3
  • Oil, butter or niter kibbeh — 3 tablespoons
  • Cardamom or nutmeg, ground (optional) — 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt and pepper — to taste

Method

  1. Place the potatoes, carrots and green beans in a large saucepan, cover them with water and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through, 10 to 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the water, and set aside.
  2. Place the onion, garlic, ginger and chile pepper in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
  3. Heat the oil, butter or niter kibbeh in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion puree and sauté until the moisture evaporates and onions lose their rawness, 6 to 8 minutes. Do not let the onions brown.
  4. Add cooked vegetables, cardamom or nutmeg, salt, pepper and about 1/2 cup of the reserved water. Stir well and simmer on low heat for 15 to 30 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Now.

Is this a plus or minus? I have to eat this by myself!

Fantasy Friday – Lost in Laos

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I have heard so many amazing things about Laos in the past few years, ever since the country opened its doors to a large flow of tourists in 1999-2000.

The food, people and culture are all said to be unique and great.

Here’s my fantasy agenda:

1. Attapeu

It has a rich history dating back to the Lane Xang Kingdom in the 16th century, as evidenced by the ancient stupa That Sayasettha, which local people believe to house the remains of King Saysetthathirath.

Ther is an extensive river network which includes th XeKong, Xe Kaman and Xe Xou rivers. One can travel the Xe Kong River along the border of Cambodia and then up in the Xe Pian River with access to Xepian National Protected Area (NPA). so you can accessible by trekking or by boating.

2. Bokeo

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All tourist attractions around Huay Xai can be seen on foot within a day. Observe the view from the top of the Chinese-styled temple, Jom Khao Manilat, the most important local sacred place. It’s not to be missed and why not have a look at the stunning French-built Fort Carnot. Both sitesare located near the ferry crossing pier Huay Xai Chiang Kong.

Besides temples, markets, and other site attractions around the town, Huay Xai offers several interesting villages, where traditional ways of life can be observed and where you can learn how villagers earn their living. Sightseeing through villages in the city should take approximately half a day. Some of the hill-tribe villages can be found within walking distance and others can be reached with an open taxi or ‘songteaow’. Hill-tribe villages in Bokeo are rather traditional and more conservatyive than those found in northern Thailand. Visitors are suggested to see the Village Headman (or phuu nyai baan) before strolling around the villages.

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3. Bolikhamxay

Only an hour-drive from Vientiane, the small and peaceful village of Ban Na on the outside of Phou Khao Khouay offers guided trekking and a great opportunity to watch wild elephants from the safety of an observation tower. Finding numerous tracks and possibly getting a glimpse of these wonderful creatures will be an unforgettable experience!

In the mid nineties, a considerable part of Ban Na’s land has become ‘home’ of anelephant herd of more than 40 heads, victimizing the local farmers by frequently raiding their fields. The shifting of the elephant’s territory from the upper hills to the lowland has probably been caused by the planting of sugarcane or disturbances due to the construction of a reservoir for power generation several kilometres to the north.

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4. Champasak

One of the most visited provinces of Laos; Chamapsak has a population of around 50,000 and is formed by Pakse, the Bolaven Plateau, Paksong, Champasak and Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands). Bordering Thailand and Cambodia, Pakse sits at the confluence of the Mekong and is the province’s capital, as a result of the Lao-Japanese Bridge spanning the Mekong, the town has quickly grown as an area of trading importance and is a popular tourist destination.

The Mekong River flows past the ancient Khmer religious compound at Wat Phu Champsak, before dispersing at Four Thousand Islands, an area of utter tranquility. The Bolaven Plateau is renowned for its production of coffee, rattan, fruit and cardamom, while the vast number of wats (temples) across the terrain make for interesting viewing.

The Champasak cultural landscape, including the Wat Phu Temple compound, is a well-preserved planned landscape more than 1,000 years old. It was shaped to express the Hindu belief of the relationship between nature and humanity, using an axis from mountain top to river bank to lay out a geometric pattern of temples, shrines and waterworks extending over some 10 km.

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5. Luang Namtha

Famous for trekking and ecotourism opportunities in the Nam Ha National Protected Area and home to over 30 distinct ethnic groups, Luang Namtha is perhaps the most diverse province in the entire country. If you are interested in Trekking, forest camps, home-stay, hiking, kayaking, rafting, biking, mountain biking, boat tours through the villages of Luang Namtha, Muang Sing, Vieng Phoukha and Long makes you a partner in improving people’s lives and in preserving the wonders of the Nam Ha NPA.

6. Vientiane

The landscape in Vientiane Province varies from the flat, fertile alluvial plains of the Mekong River Valley to rugged limestone mountains in the northern and western part of the province. Outside of the main provincial towns the countryside is a beautiful, lush green mosaic of rice paddies, tropical fruit trees, and jungle vegetation dotted with quaint villages where traditional architecture and lifestyles can be seen.

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7. Vientiane Capital

That Luang, or the Great Stupa, in Vientiane is a national symbol (its image is on Laos’ official seal) and also the most sacred monument in the country. From the outside That Luang looks more like a fortress surrounded by high walls an it features two temples with the main stupa, the top of which is covered with gold leaf, standing 148 feet tall.

The beautiful architecture is in Lao style, influenced by Buddhist beliefs-these include finely-gilded, red-lacquer doors, pointed lesser stupas, many Buddha images and beautiful flower and animal images.

Thanks to the novel The Lost Girls and my friend Katie for inspiring this weeks Fantasy Friday. Come to think of it, Katie has been my inspiration two Friday’s in a row!