Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Taste of Cambodian Cuisine

I've had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Demaz Baker, a local chef and author of A taste of Cambodian Cuisine .

This book is full of traditional recipes using ingredients that can be easily found at local Asian markets. I've tried a few of the recipes and they all bring back flavors and dishes from my childhood.

One of my favorite recipes from this book is Amok, a Cambodian national dish of Steamed Fish Stew. I made it for my parents and they loved it!

The fish marinade is made with thinly sliced fish in coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce and kaifir lime leaves.

The fish is then added to a banana leaf bowl lined with lightly steamed greens. You can make the bowl by cutting and folding the banana leaves into your desired size & securing the sides with toothpicks:

Once you've filled the banana bowls, add a little garnish- steam & enjoy:

You can get the full recipe by purchasing her book. For more information, please visit her site.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Keeping squirrels out of your garden!

I sprinkle a little cayenne pepper on my plants to keep the city squirrels out my planter box.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pressure Cooker

Great film- I highly reccomend it for anyone who's ever been curious about culinary school. This documentary follows the stories of 3 high school students in Philly competing to win a scholarship to culinary school.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Feeding the Soul of a City

I picked up this really dope book from busboys the other day. It features recipes and stories from workers, graduates & volunteers of the DC Central Kitchen, including renowned chefs Jose Andres (Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel, Cafe Atlantico), Anthony Bourdain (No Reservations) & Michel Richard (Citronelle, Central) just to name a few.

One of my favorite recipes is Marianne Ali's Pineapple Ginger Soup. The sweet pineapple pairs perfectly with the fresh ginger and is given a slight kick with a bit of ground cardamom. Marianne, the Director of Culinary Job Training's story is equally inspiring. After recovering from a 20 year heroin addiction, Marianne requested a position with the training program and has since worked her way up.

Checkout this video for information on how valuable this program is to our community:

All the recipes are easy to follow and range from simple dishes developed by high schoolers to kicked up classics by top chefs. They even have a beef stew recipe for 2,500 servings!

The stories will inspire you, the recipes will excite you and you'll feel good to know that 100% of the proceeds support programs of the DC Central Kitchen. The book can be purchsed directly through the DC Cetral kitchen here

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

DC Food Blogger Bake Sale this Saturday

As part of Share our Strength's Great American Bake Sale, myself and food blogger's across the country will be joining together for the first annual National Food Blogger's Bake Sale.

Nearly 1 in 4 children in the US do not have enough food to eat. Join us this Saturday April 17th as as we raise funds and awareness for childhood hunger. For those of you in the DC metro urrya, we'll be over at Eastern Market (blue & orange line) from 9am to 12 noon selling all sorts of delicious goodies. I'll be holdin' it down from 10am to noon along w/ my homegirl Marie from Lunching in the DMV

For more info on how you can contribute check out Share Our Strength's site. Look forward to seeing you all there!!!

Shout outs to Colleen at Foodie Tots for puttin' it all together!

**Update: It was great meeting/ spending time with other local food blogger. I'm so glad to share that we raised over $600 for SOS on Saturday! Everyones baked goodies were delicious!!! Dskco's Almond Pound Cake was awesome as was LivelovetoBake's Triple Chocolate Cake Balls and Mrs. Wheelbarrow's granola!!! I look forward to following you all!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Casa de Feijuada

I damn near had a food coma after eating all this:
Feijuada... Brazil's national dish- a stew made of black beans and a combination of many many many different smoked and sun-dried meats-- mainly pork, smoked sausages and beef. Originally created by Africans as a way to use leftover/ undesireable meats such as pigs ear, feet, tail. Don't let the ingredients fool you- this dish has been perfected over hundreds of years. The the stew is slow cooked in a clay pot for hours melding the flavors of the beans and smoked meat perfectly and making the meat fall apart tender.


Crusty bread w/ butter & cheese, olives & smoked sausages

Traditionally served with a ton of sides. Our meal included: white rice, collard greens minas gerais style, fried manioc, farfoa, oranges & pork rinds.

Plated for you right at your table:

Also, this is where I had that AMAZING Brazilian Fish Stew I told y'all about and had to re-create at home (check it out in my older posts)
For dessert: pumpkin & coconut compote, banana compote, and milk compote.

And if all that wasnt enough, your meal includes complementary lime and passion fruit cocktails all night (batida).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The art of drinking young coconut water (água de coco):

Coconut water,the juice found in young (green) coconuts is an excellent rehydrator and had many nutritional benefits. It contains more electrolytes than sports drinks and contains tons of natural sugar, salt and vitamins including potassium, calcium, protein, fiber, and magnesium. In fact, it has the same salt concentration as human blood and has even been used as a substitute for plasma transfusions.

So you've never had fresh coconut water before? Here are some tips on how to get the most of every nut--

- start by cutting the top of the coconut. Some people like to cut the coconut in thirds and drink it from the boat like vessels. Either way, its gotta be fresh or it loses some of its flavor and health benefits
- drink the deliciousness!
- Crack the coconut if you haven't already and chop off a small portion of the outer shell to use as a scoop (about the size of your four fingers pressed together)
- use the shell you cut off like a spoon to scoop out all the yummy coconut meat (young coconut meat is still soft enough for you to scoop out easily by hand)

There you have it a super healthy, natural and refreshing drink!

If you dont want to go through all that work (even though its definitely worth it), you can also find frozen young coconut at most international markets. As a child, this was my all time favorite drink & brand:

Note* the freshly frozen coconut is MUCH better than the canned stuff (nutritionally and taste wise)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Galetos! (baby chicken)

One of my favorite meals in Brazil had to be the Galeto's (both my 1st & last meal). Its a simple dish-- baby chicken brushed with a lime, vinegar, garlic solution and slowly charbroiled over an open fire- simple and delicious! As the juice from the baby chicken drips into the charcoal pit, the flame rises creating a thin crispy skin and wonderful smokey flavor. The frango (chicken) meat is fall off the bone tender and juicy -- absolutely amazing! The galeto's are served with a totmato onion-salsa, oil, vinegar, and salt.

My favorite spot was: "Quick Galeto's" a modest dine in bar located one block from Copacabana Beach. Check out the video below:

They also had all sorts of other grilled meats, sides and salads-- their beef skewers w/ green peppers and onions is also a winner. They even add bacon strips to the meat making the beef taste even smokier!!!
Grilled Beef Skewers w/ green peppers & onions

Hearts of Palm, tomato, avocado, onion salad

And of course galetos!

And the elderly owners are too cute ;)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Brazilian Fish Stew-- BRL Version

While in Rio I had the most amazing Fish Stew ever. I bought some Brazilian ingredients and so that I could recreate it at home. Here's what I came up with:

1 1/4 lb white fish- such as bass, halibut, or tilapia
4 cloves garlic
1-2 shallots (or 1 onion)
1 green onions/ scallions
1 inch piece ginger
4 Tb cilantro
1/2 lime
4 Tb dende oil
2 Tb Extra virgin olive oil
1 Tb tomato paste
1 cup seafood stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup coconut milk
hot peppers (optional to taste)
salt n' pepa
1-2 tomatoes

1) Chop the garlic, ginger, scallions, shallots & cilantro
2) Place the fish in a plastic ziplock bag and build the marinade by adding the olive oil, 1/2 the dende oil and half of the garlic, ginger, scallions, shallots & cilantro. Let the marinade sit for about 2-3 hours
3)Heat the remaining dende oil in a pot and add the rest of shallots, green peppers, ginger, and garlic. Let this cook for a few minutes. Add the fish with remaining marinade and lime juice. Cook on both sides.
4) Add seafood stock, white wine & salt and pepper to taste and let simmer. Add tomato paste and stir until dissolved
5) Add coconut milk, tomatoes, hearts of palm & peppers
6) Serve w/ fresh cilantro and steamed rice

**A few notes**
- I changed the written recipe from the video so that everything is cooked in the same pot--- one less dish to wash!
- Although I used a filet for the video, I would reccomend using a fish steak as it will hold better in the stew
- Feel free to add other items such as hearts of palm (very Brazilian & you can get them canned of jarred at the market) or shrimp (MMMmmmm)
- The stew in the video is a little lighter in color than you might experience. I reccomend using less coconut milk than I did in the video. I adjusted the written recipe to reflect the correct amount.
- Dende oil is very strong and high in fat so try not to go overboard with it

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Life's a Beach w/ Treats!

If you want to live like a true carioca (native of Rio), you gotta know Rio beach food. Rio de Janiero has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world- soft sand, beautiful warm water, and of course great food!

What could make any beautiful beach day better? BBQ!!!

Food on a Stick: Beach vendors go around w/ with hand held charcoal grills in one hand (above) and a cooler filled with either meat, cheese or shrimp on a stick and grill your food right there on the spot-- Ahhh, the life!!!
Shrimp on a stick served w/ fresh limes:
2 sticks for R$5 ($2.50 US)

Mate Gelado:
Nick being the Baltimorian that he is was overjoyed to discover the matte man. A guy walks up and down the beaches with 2 ice cold kegs- one filled with iced tea (or matte) and the other filled with lemonade. For R$2 (or US $1), he lets you fill up whatever proportion of half-and-half (or Arnold Palmer) you prefer.

Other great beach and/or street vendors:
- Corn on the cobb with as much buttery goodness as you can brush on
- Tapiocas: crepes made on the spot and filled with anything from cheese to coconut
- Roasted Nuts
- Fresh coconut water
- Caipirinha-- a national favorite drink
(more on the latter 2 in future posts)

...and of course beer (SKOL!)

Bom-dia Brazil!!!

I just spent an amazing week in Rio de Janeiro- Brazil and want to share some of my cultural and culinary adventures with you all!

A little background on Brazilian food--
Brazilian cuisine is a unique combination of three main cultures: Native Indians (aboriginals), Portugese (colonizers), and the Africans (slaves). The ingredients and cooking techniques of these people are all integrated into the food that is Brazil.

While Brazil has a very diverse immigrant community, including the largest Japanese population outside of Japan (Sao Paulo in secific), most of these other cultures have retained their own culinary identity and are not as integral to Brazilian cuisine.

Over the next few weeks I'll be blogging about all things Brazil and sharing with you the deliciousness of Rio de Janeiro!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fried Turkey & Cabbage Wontons

Most traditional recipes call for ground pork but I happen to have ground turkey at home plus this is a leaner/ healthier alternative... without sacrificing taste!

1/2 small cabbage (about 8 oz)
1/2 tsp salt + 1/4 tsp
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, grated
3 scallions, chopped
1/2 lb ground turkey
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 Tb soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

1) Toss cabbage w/ 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Let it stand for 15 minutes (this draws the moisure out) & squeeze out any access liquid
2) Combine turkey, garlic, ginger, scallions, soy sauce, salt, sesame oil w/ cabbage until well mixed
3) Place a bit of the mixture in the middle of a wonton wrapper & fold according to the directions below & seal w/ egg mixture
4) Deep fry until golden brown & cooked. Serve w/ soy dipping sauce (below)

Folding Wonton Dumplings:

- Place the wonton on a flat surface in a diamond position
- Add a small spoonful of the mixture to the center of the wonton (be careful not to over stuff)
- Brush the edges w/ egg

- Fold the wonton in half so that the bottom corner of the wonton fold over the top corner to form a triangle & seal

- Fold the right and left corners together and seal w/ egg

Soy dipping sauce:
soy sauce, rice vinegar, salt-- combine ingredients to taste

Monday, January 4, 2010

Strawberry Basil Sorbet

This Strawberry Basil Sorbet recipe only calls for 5 ingredients (strawberries, sugar, basil, lemon juice & salt) and is all natural. Its a great way to treat yourself to a healthy dessert for the New Year!

3 cups strawberries (cut in half, stemless)
2/3 cup sugar-- I used all natural cane sugar
1/4 cup basil, coarsely chopped
2 tea fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt


1) Combine the strawberries, sugar & basil and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes-- you'll know they're ready when a thin glossy syrup coats the strawberries

2) Add everything (mixture, lemon juice & salt) to a blender or food processor and let 'er rip

3) Cover & refrigerate the mixture (2 hours or more)
4) Pour the cold puree into the ice cream maker and churn

5) Place in freezer safe container and sit in freezer for at least 2 hours.

And thats it- you've got fresh all natural sorbet at home!

**update: I redid this same recipe w/ fresh mint instead of basil and it turned out just as great!**