Main Courses

Colombian Chicken and Corn Soup

Ajiaco

As Adelaida Gaviria from Medellin, Columbia (pronounced MedeGEENE) taught Lindsay Sterling in Bowdoinham, Maine.

Note: Adelaida said this dish (pronounced AH hee AH Ko), originated in Bogota, but has come to be a favorite across much of the country.  
Cooking time: 45 min
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients 

  • 2 bone-in breasts
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 6 large potatoes (she prefers Yukon Gold variety)
  • 2 Tbsp dried guascas, a Columbian herb available at latin markets or online
  • 4 cups chicken broth 
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 3 ears corn on the cob or frozen corn kernels
  • 3 avocados
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1/2 cup cream

Equipment

  • cutting board
  • chef knife
  • paring knife
  • peeler 
  • soup pot
  • tongs or slotted spoon
  • shallow dish for cooling chicken
  • immersion blender or mortar and pestle
  • lettuce spinner (ideally)
  • small bowl for serving capers on the table
  • creamer for serving cream at the table
  • soup bowls and spoons for serving

Instructions

1. Cover chicken with 2 inches of water in a large soup pot on high heat. Add 5 cloves sliced garlic, 2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp black pepper. Once water boils, turn heat down to keep the chicken simmering until it is cooked throughout. Wash hands and any utensils or surfaces that touched raw chicken.

2. While chicken is cooking, peel potatoes, slice them in half, and then into 1/4-inch slices. Wash and chop the cilantro. Put half of it in a small bowl for guests to garnish their soup at the table, and reserve the other half for use in a bit.

3. Once the chicken is cooked (opaque throughout), remove it from broth and put it in a shallow dish to cool. 

4. Use an immersion blender to blend the garlic slices into the broth. If you don't have an immersion blender, scoop out the garlic with a slotted spoon, mash it in a mortar and pestle with a little broth, and whisk that mixture into the broth in the pot. 

5. Add 4 cups of chicken stock to the broth. Rub 2 Tbsp guascas between your hands letting it fall into the pot. Add chopped cilantro. Bring to a simmer and add potato slices.

6. Once chicken is cool enough to the touch, rip it into bite-sized pieces. Discard the bones and add the pulled chicken back to the broth.

7. Once the potato slices are almost cooked, add corn to the soup and simmer another 8 minutes until corn is cooked. Taste the broth and add more salt and pepper if needed.

8. Serve soup in guests' bowls. Top each bowl with 2 quarters of ripe avocado. Invite guests to add capers, cream, and cilantro to their bowls at the table as desired.

 

 

Trinidadian Garbanzo and Potato Curry

As Steve Fortune, from Marabella, Trinidad and Tobago, taught Lindsay Sterling in South Portland, Maine.

Notes: Steve served this 30-minute vegetarian curry with a flaky homemade flatbread, which takes about 2 hours to make. If you don't have time for the flatbread, use store-bought flatbread or serve with rice in a bowl. Steve uses Chief brand curry powder from Trinidad and Tobago: a blend of coriander, cumin, turmeric, fenugreek, fennel, chili pepper, and ajwan. The garbanzos and potatoes would taste great with other varieties of curry as well.

Makes: 4 servings
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, medium dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • about 3 cups water, divided
  • 2 Tbsp curry powder (he used Chief brand from Trinidad and Tobago)
  • 4 large or 8 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into wedges
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 4-8 pieces of flatbread

Equipment

  • cutting board
  • knife
  • vegetable peeler
  • measuring spoons and cups (or just eye-ball it)
  • medium pot
  • mixing spoon

Instructions

1. In a medium pot on medium high heat, saute onions and garlic in 2 Tbsp oil for about 2 minutes. 

2. Mix 2 Tbsp curry powder with 1 cup water, and pour the mixture into the pot with the onions and garlic.

3. Let the mixture cook until most of the water evaporates and you have a slurry of spices and onions. Add the sliced potatoes. Stir to coat the potatoes with the curry and let cook 2 minutes.

4. Add enough water to almost cover the potatoes, and let cook until potatoes are almost done (soft, but not mushy). 

5. Stir in the garbanzo beans. 

6. Serve with flatbread.

Chinese Spicy Peanut Chicken

Gong Bao Ji Ding (Also known as Sichuan Chicken, Szechwan Chicken, Kung Pao, or Kung Po)

As Lily Perilla, from Guilin, China, (Guang Xi Province) and her friend, Peng Qiao, from Chong Qiang, China, (Sichuan Province) taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine. 

Note: The layers of different kinds of spice make this dish really fun to eat. You have an overall warming feeling from the Sichuan peppercorns, zippy slices of ginger, and the fried dried chili peppers, all working their magic. People love the texture of the dish, studded with crunchy fried peanuts. Find the Chinese cooking wine, rice vinegar, Sichuan peppercorns, dried peppers, red-skinned peanuts, and Chinese chili-bean paste at an Asian market or online. Pictures of the ingredients she used are above.
Cooking time: 1 hour active plus marinating time (2-12 hours)
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups short or medium grain white rice

For marinating:

  • 2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp Chinese white rice wine, called Mishiu
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce (use gluten-free soy sauce if desired)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For stir frying:

  • 1 cup + 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • 1 cup red-skinned peanuts
  • 2 Tbsp whole Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup 2-inch long dried red chili peppers, broken and deseeded
  • 1/2 inch ginger, peeled and sliced into thin cross sections
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and rough chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Chinese or Taiwanese chili-bean paste 
  • marinated chicken (see above)
  • 1/2 green pepper, cut into 1/2-inch squares
  • 3 scallions, cut into 1-inch segments

For finishing sauce:

  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 tsp Chinese white rice wine, called Mishiu
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp corn starch
  • 5 tsp Chinese black vinegar (for gluten free, substitute cider or balsamic vinegar)
  • 5 tsp soy sauce (use gluten-free soy sauce if desired)

Equipment

  • rice cooker or medium pot with lid
  • small pot
  • large wok or skillet at least 12 inches in diameter
  • cutting board
  • chef knife
  • small strainer basket (for submerging Sichuan pepper corns in oil in wok then removing them)
  • slotted metal spoon
  • paper towels
  • strainer or plate
  • medium bowl
  • small bowl

Instructions

1. Prep the chicken. Slice chicken into 1/2-inch cubes and mix in 2 Tbps Chinese cooking wine (Mishiu). Then mix in the rest of the marinating ingredients: 1/4 cup corn starch, 1 egg white, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, and 1/2 tsp salt. Wash the counter and utensils that touched the raw chicken. Let the chicken marinate 2-12 hours if you can.

2. Prep the rice. Rinse the rice in a strainer so that the water runs clear. Cook rice in a rice cooker or medium pot with 4 cups water. Bring water and rice to a boil, then turn the heat to low and cook with the lid on for twenty minutes. 

3. Prep the stir-fry ingredients. Peel and roughly chop the garlic; wash and slice the scallions into 1 inch segments; halve the dried chilis (shake out and discard the seeds or leave 1 tsp of the seeds in if you like really spicy food); peel and slice the ginger into thin cross sections. 

4. Prep the finishing sauce. In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the finishing sauce.

5. Fry the peanuts. Fill a small pot with 1 cup oil and turn heat on high to get it shimmering. While oil is heating, line a strainer or plate with paper towels and keep it near the stove. When the oil is shimmering, add the red skinned peanuts and turn the heat to medium. Stir the peanuts so they fry evenly in the oil. Do not take your eyes off them - they can quite quickly transition from golden to burned. When the peanuts are golden, turn off the heat. Remove the peanuts from the oil with a slotted spoon, placing them on the paper-towel-lined strainer or plate to dry. Pour some of the oil into a jar for some other use, keeping about 1/2 cup in the pot. 

6. Prepare to stir fry. Put the Sichuan peppercorns in a small strainer basket near the stove. Bring the garlic, ginger, chili peppers, ginger-garlic paste, marinated chicken, green pepper, scallions, and finishing sauce next to the stove.

7. Flavor the stir-fry oil with Sichuan peppercorns. Heat the oil in the pot until shimmers and then turn the heat to medium low. Dip the strainer filled with pepper corns under the oil. Let the peppercorns sizzle and flavor the oil for as long as you can without letting them burn, about a couple minutes. Remove and discard the peppercorns.

8. Perform the stir fry in the correct sequence. Transfer the Sichuan pepper-flavored oil into a wok or skillet. Turn the heat to high. Once the pan and oil are hot, add the dried chili peppers, tossing in the oil until they turn a shade darker in color, about 20 seconds. Once they do, with about ten seconds between each item, stirring constantly, add the following: ginger slices, garlic, chili-black-bean paste, and then the marinated chicken. Keep stirring and cooking the chicken until all the pieces are cooked through (opaque through the middle of each piece). Once chicken is cooked, add the chopped green peppers, scallions, and fried peanuts, stirring for two minutes. 

9. Add the finishing sauce. Add the finishing sauce and continue heating and stirring until it thickens. Serve with white rice.

 

 

Mexican Stuffed Poblanos

Chiles en Nogada

As Yazmin Saraya from Mexico City, Mexico, taught Lindsay Sterling in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Photography by Cindy Giovagnoli.

Makes: 20 stuffed poblano chiles, serves 6-8 as a full meal
Cooking time: 1.5-2 hours
Note: This dish can be deep fried or simply roasted. Pick your pleasure. Also, if you have an apron, this would be a great occasion to wear it. 

Ingredients

For the stuffed peppers:

  • 20 poblano chili peppers
  • 1.5 pound ground pork
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 apple
  • 3 teaspoons oil
  • 1 sweet plantain (yellow with black spots)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tomatoes

For deep-frying (omit this part if doing gluten-free):

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 8 eggs
  • 3 cups frying oil 

For the walnut cream sauce:

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sherry (optional) 
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp salt or 1 chicken bouillon cube

Garnishes:

  • 2 pomegranates
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley

Equipment

  • tongs
  • cutting board
  • chef knife
  • large metal bowl
  • 2 sheet pans/cookie sheets
  • paper towels
  • paring knife
  • 1 medium bowl
  • plastic wrap
  • large saute pan
  • blender
  • 2 small plates
  • 2 cereal bowls
  • toothpicks
  • slotted spoon
  • slotted spatula
  • electric mixer with whip 
  • soup spoon for stuffing filling into peppers
     

Instructions

1. Broil the poblanos on a sheet pan on the top rack in the oven and broil. Keep on eye on them. Once the flesh is blistering (and colored brown or black) turn the peppers. Repeat until all sides of peppers are blistered. Put the peppers immediately in a bowl and seal with plastic wrap to steam for fifteen minutes.

2. Prepare your other ingredients. Dice the onion, apple, plantain and keep in separate dishes. Pull the thyme leaves off the stems, discard the stems, and finely chop the leaves. Remove the skins from the garlic cloves and finely dice. Slice through the equator of the pomegranate. Hold the side that is revealing the seeds facing down into a bowl and whack she skin-side all over with the back of a soup spoon until all the seeds fall into the bowl. Repeat with the other half of the pomegranate. Remove any of the fruit lining that fell into the bowl. 

3. Make the walnut cream sauce by simply blend all the ingredients for sauce in a blender until creamy and smooth.

4. De-skin and de-seed the peppers. Line a sheet pan with paper towels and put it next to the sink. Over the garbage disposal or a bowl in the sink, peel the skin off a pepper with a paring knife or your fingers. Make a slit down the length of the pepper body and gently remove the seeds without breaking the pepper. If you do, just pretend it's not broken and move on. It'll still be great! Rinse the cavity of the pepper under the faucet to remove any stray seeds. Put the cleaned pepper on the paper towel to dry. Continue with the rest of the peppers. Increase your speed and efficiency as you practice on the next 19 peppers. I got my time down to about one minute per pepper. Pat all peppers dry with a paper towel.

5. Make the filling. In a large saute pan on medium heat add a teaspoon of oil and saute the onion, thyme and garlic with a little salt, which helps them cook faster and enhances their flavor. Once onions are soft, add pork, cinnamon, oregano, and almond slices. Blend tomatoes in a blender. Once pork is cooked, add blended tomato and turn off heat.

6. In a small saute pan, add a teaspoon of oil and saute the plantains for about three minutes until they soften and turn gold. Put them on a plate to cool. In the same pan, add another teaspoon oil and saute the apples briefly. When they are warm but still crunchy transfer them to a plate to cool. When the pork has cooled, mix the apples and plantains into it. This is your filling.

7. Fill the peppers. Spoon the filling into each pepper cavity so that the pepper is full but still closes. If you are not deep frying your peppers, skip to #11.

(Yazmin stitched each pepper closed with 1-2 toothpicks, however, when I tested the recipe at home I found that I didn't like guests having to hunt through their meal to find toothpicks hidden under the fried batter and sauce. The next time I made the dish, I discovered that you don't need to use toothpicks. If you believe the peppers will stay closed once they are sealed with batter, they do! Up to you - use toothpicks or faith.)  

8. Batter the peppers. Put the white flour on a dinner plate. Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Whip the egg whites in a mixer until the peaks are almost stiff but not totally, then mix in the yolks. Pour oil about 3/4 inches deep into a large saute pan and heat on high. Transfer the whipped eggs to deep plate or wide bowl. Line a sheet pan with paper towels and place on the counter near the heating pan of oil.  

9. Deep fry the peppers. When the oil is shimmering hot (but not yet smoking), press the stuffed pepper onto the floured plate until all sides turn white and then dip the non-seam side of the pepper into the whipped egg. Lay the battered side gently in the oil. Spoon egg mixture on the top of the pepper, encasing the whole pepper except the stem in whipped egg.

2016_Rellenos_Mar29-128.jpg

10. Gently lap hot oil against the sides of the battered pepper to help it solidify its shape. When the bottom is golden, carefully roll the pepper with a slotted spoon and a slotted spatula onto its raw side. When the egg batter looks cooked and golden all around, remove the pepper from the oil and onto the sheet pan. Continue with other peppers. If you fry more than one pepper at once make sure to leave at least an inch between peppers in the pan.

11. Serve three peppers to a plate for a full meal. (Peppers should be served warm -- they might need a moment in the oven if they have cooled off). Top peppers generously with walnut sauce, chopped parsley, and pomegranate seeds.

 



 


 

Chilean Corn Pie

Pastel de Choclo

As Benjamin Sepulveda, Marcela Naveas, and Javiera Alvarez, from Santiago, Chile, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine. 

Serves: 4
Cooking time: 1 hour
Note: Easily make this dish for 8 by doubling the amounts and using a large casserole dish or two pie plates. 

Ingredients

  • 6-8 ears fresh corn or substitute with 4 cups frozen kernels
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp paprika (sweet, not spicy variety)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 3 leaves fresh basil (plus more for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup black olives
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 Tbsp sugar

Equipment

  • cutting board
  • knife
  • meat grinder, blender, food processor, or grater
  • 2 medium pots
  • 1 large pot
  • measuring spoons -- or just eyeball it!
  • 1 small pot 
  • 1 pie plate or similarly sized oven safe dish 
  • spatula

Instructions

1. Shuck the corn, and grind the kernels using whatever tool you have. You can grate the kernels off the cob using a grater, or you can slice the kernels off the cob with a knife and then turn them into a rough paste using a meat grinder, food processor, or blender. (To cut the kernels off the cob, turn a cob on its thick end and slice down the length of the cob, shaving the kernels off. Rotate cob and repeat until all the kernels are shaved off.)

2. Chop basil roughly or pulse it briefly with the corn in the blender or food processor. (Don't puree it in there otherwise your topping will turn slightly green, not as appealing as yellow!)

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook the ground corn and basil in a medium pot with the milk for 20-30 minutes on medium-low until the mixture thickens. 

4. Hardboil the eggs, and boil the chicken. You can do this together in one pot. (Cover both with water, add 1 tsp salt, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down so water is simmering). Once water boils, set a timer for 14 minutes.

5. Dice the onion. In large saute pan, saute the onions in 1 Tbsp oil. When the onions are soft, add ground beef, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 Tbsp paprika, and 1 tsp oregano. Saute, stirring occasionally until the ground beef loses all its pinkness.  

6. When the timer goes off, remove the chicken from the broth and cut into to it to see if it's done (opaque throughout). Cover the eggs in cold water.  Peel the eggs. Slice the chicken and eggs into 1/4-inch pieces.

7. Make the following layers in a deep pie dish or oven-safe baking dish: beef and onions on the bottom, then the chicken slices, then egg slices, olives, and raisins. Cover everything in the corn porridge. Sprinkle the top with sugar. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden. Broil the top for extra crispy texture. 

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Polish Cheese-Potato Dumplings

Pierogi Ruski

As mother and daughter, Jadwiga and Izabela Lutostanska, from Szczecin, Poland, taught Lindsay Sterling in Brunswick, Maine. Photos by Cindy Giovagnoli.

Note: if you will be making your own Polish farmer's cheese (it's easy), you'll need to start the process the night before. You can otherwise find Polish farmer's cheese in a Polish market, or substitute ricotta or fresh goat cheese from a typical supermarket.

Makes: 70 dumplings, enough to serve for 6 for dinner or more as an appetizer or snack.

Cooking Time: 3-4 hours (less if friends or family are doing this with you)

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 3/4 cup Polish farmer's cheese, called twarog (store bought or homemade)
  • 3 medium yellow potatoes, peeled
  • 1 onion, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper or to taste

For the dough:

  • 3 1/2 cups flour + 2-4 Tbsp for dusting
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg, whipped

For the topping:

  • 1 onion, finely minced
  • 4 Tbsp butter

Instructions

The night before: Start the Polish farmer's cheese process and boil the potatoes until soft. Strain and let cool. Mash potatoes with a potato masher (Jadwiga used a meat grinder but the masher worked fine). Let potatoes cool and refrigerate.

The next day, make the filling. Finish making the farmer's cheese. Also, saute minced onions in butter slowly on medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Combine farmer's cheese with potato,  half the sauted onions in butter, and generous salt and pepper to taste.

Make the dough. Warm the milk. In a large mixing bowl, mix the milk and whipped egg into the flour with your hands until you have a mass of globby, rough, sticky dough that sort of sags when you hold it up as opposed to stays in its shape. It's a wet dough. Spread flour across your cutting board or counter and put the blob of dough on it. Knead the dough for 15 minutes. Use a knife or pastry cutter to scrape any dough that sticks to the counter. You may dust some more flour to help contain the stickiness but keep in mind that you want the dough to end up tacky so that it will stick to itself when you are making the pierogis. Stop kneading when the dough is smooth, stretchy, and slightly tacky. It feels like a baby's bottom when it's done. Form the dough into a ball and cover it with a towel so that the dough doesn't dry out while it is resting and you finish making the filling.

Assemble the pierogis. See this video on how to form the pierogis. Put a 1-2 Tbsp of flour off to the side of your workspace on the counter. Break off a piece of dough about the size of a small apple, or about a quarter of all the dough. Roll the piece into a cylinder about as thick as a nickel. Cut across the roll, making 3/4"-thick pieces of dough. Dip the fingers of one hand in the flour and use them to turn each segment on its side and pat down on top of it once with two fingers to begin to flatten the piece into disc.

Use a rolling pin to roll out each piece into your dumpling wrapper. What you want is a thin disk about 2 inches in diameter and about 1/8th inch thick. Put the disk in one hand, and add a tsp of filling to the middle of the disk. Fold both halves of the dough over the filling, match the edges on top of one another, and press them together, sealing the filling inside. If the filling gets on the edge of the dough where you are trying to seal it together, then the seal won't work. If you need to push the filling back from the edges, it's helpful to dip your finger in a little pile of flour before using them to nudge the filling out of the way because then the filling doesn't stick to your fingers. Then press the dumpling wrapper closed.  Once the seal is secure, then pinch the dough six or seven times along the edge to make a pretty decoration.

Boil the pierogis. Bring a pot of water and 1/2 tsp salt to a boil. One by one, add enough pierogis to make a single layer in the water. Once they float, they're done. Another Polish source says she puts a tablespoon of oil in the water and then the pierogis don't stick to each other. Remove cooked pierogis with a slotted spoon or spatula and serve with sauteed onions-in-butter drizzled on top.

 Jadwiga (left) and Izabela (right) Lutostanska teach how to cook Polish pierogis.

Freeze any uncooked pierogis in a single layer on a flour-dusted sheet pan. Once frozen, transfer into a Ziplock. Cook within 3 months.

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Burundian Chicken with Summer Squash and Bell Peppers

Isosi


As Assumpta Karire, from Gitega, Burundi, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine.

Serves: 8
Cooking time: 1 hr
Note: The chicken and vegetables are in the photo above in the 6 o'clock position. They are served here with spicy rice called ipilau (at 12 o'clock in the photo), and Burundian spinach (3 o'clock). 

Ingredients

  • 8-12 chicken drumsticks
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 chayote squash
  • 1 onion
  • 1 yellow summer squash
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 + 3 bouillion cubes (she used Maggi brand) or 1 Tbsp Better than Bouillion
  • 2 tsp spice mixture (see below)
  • 1/2 cup water


Spice mixture:

  • 1/2 tsp whole coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 whole allspice
  • dash ground nutmeg
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp whole black pepper

Instructions


1. In large pot cover drumsticks with water and boil for about twenty minutes. While chicken is cooking, cut up all your vegetables into one-inch cubes. Blend the spices for the spice mixture in a spice grinder (a coffee grinder dedicated to non-coffee flavors). If you have more than you need, simply put it in a small jar or ziplock for use again later. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Strain the chicken and let it cool to the touch. Discard chicken skins and put the chicken in a bowl. Add 1/2 tsp pepper to chicken and 2 crushed bouillon cubes or (if you don't like MSG) 1-2tsp salt. Grate 3 cloves garlic over the chicken. Massage the flavorings into the chicken. Using your fingers, pierce the thickest parts of meat and stuff garlic in the slits. Cover a sheet pan with tinfoil and place drumsticks on it evenly spaced. Bake for 20 minutes until chicken is a little bit crusty and golden.

3. In a large pot on the stove, saute the vegetables with 2 tsp spice mixture in oil. After a couple minutes, add ½ cup water, and 3 bouillion cubes or 1 Tbsp Better than Bouillion (for those who don't want MSG), and cook with the lid on. After ten minutes, grate 3 cloves of garlic into the vegetable pot. A couple minutes later when vegetables are soft and juicy and garlic is cooked, remove from heat. 

4. Serve baked chicken with saucy vegetables. Assumpta served them with Burundian spicy rice and spinach with smoked fish. Click at right for those recipes.

 

 

Armenian Bulgur in Lettuce Leaf

Itch

As Maggie Saab, whose family was from Kilis, Armenia (today part of Turkey), taught Lindsay Sterling in Falmouth, MA.

Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 4-6
Note: You'll likely need to find the asterisked ingredients online or at a Middle Eastern market.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp sumac*
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup fine grain (#1) bulgur wheat*
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 head fresh lettuce or 1/4 head cabbage or fresh grape leaves
  • 6-12 sprigs fresh spearmint
  • 6-12 sprigs fresh parsley
  • Small dish of delicious olives with pits (optional)
  • 6 pita bread or flatbread (optional)
  • 8 oz. mild white cheese such as hallum (queso blanco also works) (optional)
  • 6-12 small sprigs fresh thyme (optional)

Equipment

  • large pot with lid
  • spoon
  • liquid measuring cup (or eyeball it)
  • cutting board
  • chef knife
  • mixing spoon
  • serving platter
  • bread basket or serving plate
  • 4 small serving plates (for sides of olives, herbs, leaves, and cheese)

Instructions

1. In a large pot with lid, saute onions in oil until soft. Add tomato paste and three cups water and bring to a boil. Add salt, sumac, and lemon juice. Once this boils, stir in the bulgur wheat and cover. Let the mixture sit off heat for about 40 minutes.

2. Adjust the texture. If after resting the bulgar has not become a paste, stir in a little bit more bulgur, which will soak up more liquid. The texture you want is is a soft, yet firm paste. If the mixture is too firm and dry you could stir in little bit more water. If adding water or bulgur, let the mixture rest again before serving so the bulgur has time to soak up liquid.

3. Serve itch on a family-style platter, garnished with fresh parsley sprigs. Put out additional fresh leaves of lettuce, cabbage, or grape vine; and fresh spearmint and/or parsley leaves. Guests spoon the itch (the bulgar dish) onto the leaves and top with a fresh sprig of parsley and/or mint. Delicious! Armenian itch also goes well served along with olives, pieces of pita, and slices of mild white cheese with sprigs of fresh thyme.

 Maggie Saab (right) shares her favorite dish from Armenia.

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Colombian Chicken Soup

Sancocho de Gallina

As Leanor McGinn from Bogota, Colombia, taught Lindsay Sterling in Durham, Maine, June 2015

Note: Find culantro, plantains, and yuca at Latin or tropical international markets. If you can't find those ingredients, use cilantro to replace culantro and use extra potatoes and corn to replace the plantains and yuca (pronouced YOU-Kuh). 

Cooking time: 1 hour
Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 bunch culantro or cilantro
  • 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces or 8 country style chicken pieces
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 2 green plantains, peeled (see how-to-video) and cut into 1 inch segments, then halved lengthwise
  • 48 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 lb. yuca, peeled, cut into 3 inch long segments, and quartered lengthwise (you can buy this already peeled and frozen), or buy it fresh and peel it yourself
  • 1/4 green cabbage, cut into 1-inch thick chunks
  • 2 stalks celery cut into 1/4" pieces
  • 2 carrots cut into 1/4" pieces
  • 3 Tbsp sofrito (see step 1 below)
  • 2 tsp season salt (or blend of sea salt, dehydrated onion and garlic, coriander, black pepper, celery seed, allspice, ginger, red pepper, oregano, basil, thyme, paprika)
  • 2 whole ears of corn, shucked and cut crosswise into four sections each
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 cups white rice (optional)

Instructions

1. Blend green pepper, onion, garlic and all but a small bunch of culantro or cilantro in blender. Try to add as little liquid as possible (if any) to get the blender moving. Reserve 3 Tbsp of the blended mixture, called sofrito, for making this batch of soup and freeze the remaining sofrito in 3 Tbsp portions for making soup (or rice dishes) in the future. You can fill ice tray cubes or make dollups on a sheet pan or plate. Once frozen, transfer frozen sofrito into Ziploc bag.

2. In a large pot cover chicken pieces with chicken stock and enough water so that liquid is at least 3 inches deep over the top of the chicken. Put pot on high heat. Add sofrito, yuca, plantains, carrots, celery, and season salt. Simmer until chicken is cooked or opaque throughout (about 30 minutes) and then remove the chicken pieces from soup. Add the potatoes. After about ten minutes, add the corn pieces. When the potatoes are soft, add chicken pieces back to pot.

3. Remove the large pieces of yuca from the pot, and place on a cutting board. Cut the yuca in half lengthwise. Remove and discard the hard fiber running through the center of the yuca root. Cut lengthwise again into smaller pieces and return to the pot.

4. Season the soup to taste. Garnish each bowl with pieces of avocado and fresh cilantro leaves.
 

Cape Verdean Cod Casserole

Bacalhau Com Natas

As Clarice Pinto and Lucy Pires from Santiago, Cape Verde, taught Lindsay Sterling in Brockton, Massachusetts.

Cooking Time: 1 hour + 24 hours soaking the salt cod
Servings: 10
Note: Recipe adapted slightly to avoid MSG, which was in a couple of pre-prepared spice mixtures they used.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb. salt cod
  • 2 1/2 lb potatoes
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion sliced into 1/4"-thick rounds
  • 1/4 tomato sliced into 1/4"-thick rounds
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, rough chopped including stems and leaves
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • dash chili powder
  • dash sweet paprika
  • dash annatto or achiote powder (optional)
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch

Instructions

1. The night before cooking, soak the salt cod in water in the fridge over night.

2. At least an hour before you want to eat, peel the potatoes and cut into 1" chunks. Cover with water in a large pot. Put the eggs (shells on) in the water along with the potatoes. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 14 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Take the eggs out and peel them. Strain the potatoes.

3. Preheat the oven to 350. Strain the salt cod.

4. In a large pot with 1/2 cup olive oil in it, saute the onions, tomato, cilantro, red pepper, yellow pepper, and garlic with all the spices (chili powder, paprika, annatto, and white pepper). When onions are soft, add the salt cod. Stir and cook until salt cod breaks down a little bit and turns kind of mushy. Then gently stir in the the potatoes.

5. In medium sauce pan, melt butter, whisk in corn starch, and then whisk in milk and cream. Heat on medium, stirring constantly, until the milk and cream thicken.

6. Spread the sauteed fish-potato mixture evenly in an oven-safe casserole dish. Slice the eggs into 1/4" rounds. Decorate the top of the cod and potato mixture with green olives and cross sections of egg.

7. Pour the thickened milk mixture over the whole thing. Bake for 40 minutes. Broil at the end so the top is slightly browned.

Taiwanese Chicken with Bok Choy

San Bei Ji [Translation: Three Cup Chicken]

As Ling-wen Tsai, from Tianan, Taiwan, and her partner, Nathan Kolosko, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine.

Note: This recipe requires you using a cleaver. This is worth the effort - the bones give the sauce body and flavor that meat alone will never do. Plus, using a cleaver is great therapy. If you don't have a cleaver, use chicken wings.

Makes: 4-5 Servings
Cooking Time: 1 night (marinating) + 1 hour active

Ingredients

  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1-2 lb bok choy
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 2 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce (for gluten free, use gluten-free soy sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp + 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp + 1 tsp Taiwanese rice cooking wine Mishiu (find this at an Asian market)
  • 2 cups short grain rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 6 green onions
  • 4 inches fresh ginger root
  • 2 tsp Taiwanese chili-bean paste (find this at an Asian market)
  • 2 bunches fresh Thai basil (find this at an Asian market)
  • salt to taste 
  • 1/8 tsp pepper, tri-colored or black

Equipment

  • 2 large mixing bowls
  • 2 small prep dishes
  • 2 cereal bowls
  • measuring spoons (or you can eyeball it)
  • Cleaver
  • large cutting board
  • wok with lid or large deep saute pan with lid
  • mandolin
  • chef knife
  • small pot with lid
  • three serving bowls

Instructions

1. Cut bok choy stems into 1-inch segments and leaves into two-inch segments and store them in separate bowls. Peel and slice garlic and put it into a small dish. Pick basil leaves and put them into a bowl. 

2. Use a cleaver to cut chicken thighs into 1-inch bone-in, skin-on chunks. If you have never used a cleaver before, just really wack through the bones confidently perpendicular to the bone, skin-side down. Saying "high ya!" as you chop down helps you give a strong, clean, powerful whack, which is required for a clean cut. Use the pads of your fingers to feel the cut bone ends and remove any loose bone fragments. Marinate the chicken pieces ideally over night with 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp sesame oil, and 1 tsp rice cooking wine. 

3. Cook short grain rice with water according to package directions.

4. Scrape the skin off the ginger root with the tip of a spoon or the back of a knife. Slice ginger into paper thin rounds on a mandolin, or do your best to slice thin cross sections with a chef knife. Slice the green onions into thirds crosswise and then into quarters lengthwise so you have thin segments. Pick Thai basil leaves off the stems. 

5. Heat wok with 1 Tbsp sesame oil on high. When hot, add the marinated chicken. Cook without stirring until the moisture leaves and the chicken pieces begin to caramelize (turn deep golden brown) (about 4 minutes). Stir. Add green onions and ginger slices, and turn heat to low and cover.

6. After 3 or 4 minutes, stir in 2 tsp Taiwanese chili-bean paste (remove the beans), 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp cooking wine, and 1 tsp sesame oil. Let cook 3 more minutes or as long as needed until chicken is completely cooked. Mix in fresh Thai basil leaves. Transfer chicken and sauce into a serving bowl.

7. Rinse wok and heat on high heat. Saute garlic in sesame oil for 2 minutes. Add the bok choy stems and saute about 3 minutes before adding bok choy leaves. Cook for another two minutes. Add salt and pepper.

8. Serve chicken, rice, and sauteed bok choy family style in separate serving dishes at the table.

Tanzanian Green Bananas and Beef

Ndizi Na Mkia Wa Ngombe

As cooked with Iman Lipumba from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in Portland, Maine. Adapted from A Taste of Tanzania, by Miriam R. Kinunda.

Cooking Time: 2 1/2 hours

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 lb. oxtail or beef with bones
  • 1 lb. stew beef
  • 1 1/2 lb. green bananas
  • 1/2 yellow onion, medium dice
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups beef broth (from oxtail)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced or grated
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions

1. Simmer the the oxtail or bone-in beef in water, along with the stew beef. Once the broth gets cooking, with a large, flat spoon skim oil and foam off the top of the broth repeatedly. 

2. While the broth is cooking, peel the green bananas by slicing the skin length wise with a knife, prying your fingers between the peel and the flesh, and popping the peel off the round banana inside. Slice the banana flesh lengthwise in half, and then crosswise so you have segments. Cover the peeled banana pieces in water in a bowl until use so they don't turn brown.

3. When stew beef is tender (about an hour and a half, depending on the cut of beef you're using), remove the beef from the broth. Keep the oxtail cooking in the water longer if you would like for even more flavor in the broth. When the oxtail is tender (or you've run out of time!) remove it from the broth. 

4. In another large pot, add the oil and saute the stew beef pieces on high so they're nicely browned. Remove the meat from the pan. 

5. Turn the heat to medium, and add the onions to the pan and saute until soft. Add black pepper, cumin, fresh ginger, turmeric and chopped cilantro and garlic and stir for one minute. 

6. Mix in the tomato paste and let cook for three minutes, stirring. Then mix in tomatoes. Lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pot. Simmer until the tomatoes soften. Use a cooking spoon to press the tomatoes to help them disappear faster.

7. Once tomatoes have blended in, add coconut milk and about 2 cups of broth and stir. Once the liquid is boiling, strain the banana pieces and add them to the liquid along with the oxtail (if your diners don't mind gnawing beef right off the bone), and the cooked stew beef. The liquid should be level with the beef and bananas. Cook until bananas are soft like cooked potato. Garnish with cilantro if you like.

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Indian Creamy Spinach with Cheese Cubes

Palak Paneer

As Shweta Galway from Umreth, Gujarat State, India, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine.

Notes: Palak paneer is a spinach dish cooked with paneer cheese and spices. She served it with a kind of flatbread called roti. This is her quick weeknight recipe. For a more involved recipe, I enjoyed this one: www.vegrecipesofindia.com/palak-paneer. 

Click here to find Indian markets in your area. In Maine, I go to Masala Mahal, 798 Main St., South Portland, ME, 207-699-5555. 

Makes: 6 servings
Cooking time: 30 minutes (it's helpful to thaw the frozen spinach the night before) 

Ingredients

  • 8-10 oz. store bought or homemade paneer
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, medium dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 boxes frozen creamed spinach, thawed
  • 2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (optional)
  • 2 pounds frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 tomato (optional)
  • 1 inch ginger (optional), peeled
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • flatbread (for gluten-free meal, serve with rice)

Instructions

1. Cut paneer cheese into 1/2-inch cubes. Fry paneer pieces in 1 Tbsp oil on medium heat in a saute pan. Turn cubes every so often. You want them to turn golden brown on many sides of the cubes. Dry the fried cheese on paper towels.

2. Add another Tbsp oil to pan and fry onions and garlic until soft. Mix in creamed spinach and chopped spinach. Mix in garam masala, chili powder, and salt. If you like you can blend a tomato and the ginger in a blender and mix that into the spinach. Mix in the fried paneer pieces to the spinach and simmer for 10-20 minutes. 

3. Eat palak paneer by breaking off a piece of flatbread and scooping up a bite of spinach and cheese with it. Repeat.

Congolese Fried Tilapia

With Yellow Rice and Red Sauce

As Ariane Kambu Mbenza from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, taught Lindsay Sterling in Yarmouth, ME, in May 2013.

Makes: 8 servings
Cooking Time: 1 hr 15 min + 6 hours marinating
 

Ingredients

  • 2.5 pounds whole Tilapia with the skin on
  • 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp + 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 + 2 + 2 Maggi cubes (for no msg, use 1 tsp Better than Bouillon per Maggi cube)
  • 2 Tbsp + 1/2 cup + 2 cups vegetable oil or red African palm oil
  • 2 pounds carrots, peas, and green beans cut into bite size pieces (she used a frozen medley)
  • 4 cups basmati rice
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp super hot dried chili powder (optional)
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 10 cloves or 2 Tbsp chopped garlic 
  • 16 oz. tomato puree

Instructions

Day Ahead:

1. Marinate the fish. Cut heads off 2.5 pounds tilapia and slice across fish into individual portions. Rub fish with oil, 1 Tbsp parsley, and 2 crumbled Maggi cubes. Let marinate for 6 hours or over night.

Day of:

2. Shallow-fry the fish. Fill a fry pan 1/4 inch deep with oil. Bring oil up to medium-low heat. Gently place fish pieces in oil with plenty of space around each (if the pan is crowded, the skins won't get crispy). Let fish cook slowly (about 20 minutes) so you don't burn the outside while the inside is still raw. I would say she had her heat on medium low and her fish cooked for 10 minutes a side. The skins were golden all around and crispy. Delicious!

3. Saute rice and veggies with seasonings. Cover the bottom of a deep, large saute pan or soup pot (with lid) or rice cooker with oil. Add 2 pounds frozen vegetables (peas, carrots, green beans) and saute until thawed, or add fresh vegetables and cook for 2-3 minutes. Put 4 cups basmati rice in a bowl, cover with water, and drain. Cover with water again and drain. Add rice to the vegetables and stir in 2 tsp parsley, 2 crumbled Maggi cubes or 2 tsp Better than Bouillon, 1 tsp black pepper, 2 tsp turmeric, and 3 Tbsp butter. Stir and let cook on medium-low for 30 minutes, stirring every so often.

4. Boil the rice. Separately heat up about 7 cups of water water (for adding to the rice later). I think cooking the rice without the water allows the grains to soak up the oil, flavored with all the things you put in it. I also suspect that it helps the grains stay separate, and not get all mushed together. After 30 minutes, add enough hot water to cover the rice by 1/4 inch (this is less than you would for plain rice because those veggies don't suck up water, quite the opposite - they provide moisture!) Cover and let cook on low for 15 minutes.

5. Make the tomato sauce. Pour enough oil in a small saute pan to be about 1/4 inch deep and add sliced onion. Saute on medium-low for 20-30 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp chopped garlic. Continue cooking. You don't want to brown the onions, just get them softer and softer, so adjust your heat accordingly. Add 16 oz. tomato puree, 1 Tbsp parsley flakes, 1/2 tsp dried piri piri or birds-eye chili powder (lighter in color and much hotter than the chili powder at your American supermarket). As the onions continue to cook they will disintegrate into the tomato puree. Disappearing onions is the secret to the sauce! Add 2 crumbled Maggi cubes or 2 tsp Better than Bouillon. Sauce is done when onions have disappeared and the sauce is smooth. (FYI, this sauce is great with rice, fried, chicken, potato, seafood, anything!)

6. Serve a big pile of rice on half the plate. Next to that, a nice piece of fish, and a pile of the red sauce on the last third of the plate.

Burundian Beans, Greens, and Goat

Sombe and Bugali

As Alain Bitariho and Mia Ntahobari from Bujumbura, Burundi, taught Lindsay Sterling.

NoteSombe (pronounced sahm BAY) are the greens, and bugali (pronounced boo GAH lee) is the white starch that's similar to polenta. The greens, chopped cassava leaves, can be toxic if not boiled for a minimum of 1.5 hours. 

Serves: 12-16
Cooking Time: 3 hours (plus 8 hours soaking beans the day before) 

Ingredients

From an African market such as Ebenezer, 654 Congress Street, Portland, ME:

From the regular grocery store:

  • 1 green pepper, large dice
  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • 1 + 1/4 onion, large dice
  • 2 leeks, quartered lengthwise and sliced across
  • 2 + 2 bouillon cubes
  • 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 + 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 16 oz. tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter

Instructions

1. The night before, cover beans with water by 2 inches and soak over night. Drain and cover again with fresh water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about an hour or as long as it takes for the beans to become tender.

2. Put cassava leaves in large pot on high with 4 cups of water, two chunks of goat meat, and two bouillon cubes. Simmer covered for 3 hours. 

3. Put the rest of the goat meat in a medium pot (with lid). Add enough water to not quite cover the meat all the way and 2 bouillon cubes, and cook on high with the lid on. Cook until the meat is brown.

4. When cassava leaves become fragrant, add cubed eggplant, green pepper, onion and leeks, and enough hot water so that it comes just under the vegetable tops. Add bay leaves, Sazonador Total, black pepper, garlic, and cook covered on medium high heat.

5. When goat meat is brown, strain the broth into a container for later use, and add 1/3 cup oil so that the oil is half way up the meat pieces. Add 1/4 onion, minced, black pepper, 1/2 tsp basil, bay leaf and curry powder.

6. After cassava cooks for fifteen minutes, add 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Continue cooking covered on medium high for another 2 1/2 hours, adding cups of water periodically to keep it somewhere between a soup and a solid. In the end, you don’t want it watery, but very moist.

7. When goat is getting darker brown and fried and 16 oz. tomato paste to goat and let cook for ten minutes, stirring to create a thick, red, pasty sauce. Stir in 1-2 cups of the reserved goat broth to loosen the paste into a bright red sauce. Turn off heat.

8. When the cassava has cooked for 2:45, then reheat the goat and pour most of the sauce into the cassava, keeping the goat pieces from falling into the cassava pot. Stir peanut butter to the cassava leaves. Cook for fifteen minutes more. Add more broth if you have it to extend the sauce in the goat pot.

9. You can make white rice or a thick style polenta called bugali to go with this dish (also called foufou in other African languages.) To make thebugali, bring water in a medium nonstick pot to a boil. Split water into two pots. Pour enough corn flour into the 1st pot (still on the heat) to reach the surface of the water. Stir with a wooden spoon, mashing the corn flour against the sides of the pot continuously.  Add water from the 2nd pot only if the corn flour remains dry and uncooked. When the corn mixture becomes bouncy and pulls away from the pot in a single mass, it’s ready. Press the bugali evenly into the bottom of the pot, then overturn the pot so the bugali falls onto a plate. Sprinkle water on another dinner plate and use the wet plate to press the sides of the polenta into a smooth mound.

10. Serve a 1-inch thick slice of bugali on each plate (or a serving spoon of white rice) with along with piles of cassava leaves (called sombe), goat meat with sauce, and boiled beans. Top with 2-3 drops of super spicy Akabanga oil.

 

 

 

Dominican Rice and Beans

As Angel Ferreras from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine.

Note: Along with meat and fried green plantains, these rice and beans make up the classic Dominican lunch called La bandera (the flag). It's named after the flag, Angel explained, because the meal is as Dominican as the flag and it's served everywhere in the country. These rice and beans are so easy to make and delicious, my family has this dish probably every other week. 

Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients

For the beans:

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp Adobo seasoning (main ingredients: salt, turmeric, garlic powder)
  • 1/4 green pepper, cut into 1/2" chunks
  • 1/8 red onion, sliced into small segments
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 can Roman beans, drained and rinsed (pinto, kidney, red, or black would work as well) 
  • 4 oz. tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves

For the rice:

  • 2 cups white rice (Goya Canilla brand long grain enriched white rice recommended)
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil 
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups water

Instructions

1. Put all the ingredients for the beans in a medium sauce pot. Bring up to a boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes. 

2. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil with 2 Tbsp vegetable oil and 2 tsp salt in a large, heavy-bottomed pot with lid.

3. Add rice to the boiling water, stirring with a wooden spoon. After five minutes or so, when spoon stays standing up in the cooking rice, or no water is standing above the rice, turn heat to low, and cover the pot with a lid.

4. After ten minutes, turn the rice so that the rice that was on top is on the bottom. Recover. Cook another ten minutes. When rice is cooked, increase the heat to medium-high for two minutes so that the rice on the bottom fries and gets crunchy/toasted but doesn't burn. 

5. Spoon the fluffy rice into one serving bowl and the concon - the crispy rice at the bottom of the pot - onto a separate serving plate. (If you run cold water on the bottom of the rice pot, it makes the rice release much more easily. Also, you can slice through the concon in the pot to make chunks that are easier to pry/lift out of the pan with a spatula. 

6. Serve beans, rice, and concon in separate bowls family style on the table. Serve with Dominican tostones and meat for the popular lunch: la bandera

 

Azerbaijani Beef With Chestnuts and Sour Plums

Turshu Kourma

As Zemfira and Tarlan Ahmadov from Baku, Azerbaijan, showed Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine. Photos by Tiffany Converse.

Cooking Time: 2 hours
Serves: 4-6
Note: Persian dried golden prunes, also known as sour plums, are can be found at Middle Eastern markets. They do have pits so warn your guests. Great substitutes that are pit-free and taste great are dried apricots sliced in half, dried cherries, or dried cranberries. The cherries are my favorite because their flavor is both sweet and sour like the original golden prunes.

Note: She served this with yellow rice, a fresh vegetable platter, and pickled vegetables. 

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cubed beef (stew meat)
  • 2 onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ghee 
  • 1 cup Persian sour plums (substitute dried cherries, apricots, or cranberries)
  • about 40 fresh chestnuts from produce department 
  • or 20 prepared (peeled and cooked) chestnuts from a jar or Cryovac-ed

Equipment

  • large pot
  • knife
  • cutting board
  • 2 large saute pans, at least one with lid 
  • medium saute pan
  • mixing spoon
  • medium bowl
  • large bowl
  • spoon
  • strainer and pot or slotted spoon
  • 1 tsp (or eyeball it)

Instructions

1. If using prepared chestnuts you can skip this step. If using fresh chestnuts, make an "x" with a knife in the base of each chestnut, and then boil for five-seven minutes. Preferably sit with a loved one as you two then peel off the hard shells and dark skins together.

2. Cook beef cubes covered in salted water for an hour and a half or 15 minutes in a pressure cooker.

3. Soak dried fruit in a dish of water (wash any salt off sour prunes if there is any). 

4. Remove beef from broth with a slotted spoon or strain beef, reserving the both.

5. In large saute pan (with lid) on medium heat, saute onions nearly covered in oil and sprinkled generously with turmeric, until they cook down to half their original size.

6. In another large saute pan, saute meat on high heat in a small amount of oil for about ten minutes to brown the sides. Remove meat and put the meat in with the onions on medium-low.

7. Strain the dried fruit. In the large saute pan you used to saute the meat, saute the dried fruit in a teaspoon of ghee for five minutes on medium, and then add the fruit to the with the meat and onions.

8. In the same pan you used to saute the dried fruit, add another teaspoon of ghee and sautee the chestnuts until they're golden. Add the chestnuts to the onions and beef.

9. Now continue to cook all the ingredients together on medium-low for about 45 minutes mostly with lid on, occasionally turning the contents gently, and adding spoonfulls of beef broth here and there to keep everything moist and together but not saucy.

 The Ahmadovs (right and center) share their favorite dishes from Azerbaijan.

Serve beef and chestnuts with Azerbaijani yellow rice, fresh vegetable platter, and pickled vegetables if you wish. 

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Azerbaijani Cornish Hen

As Zemfira Ahmadov, from Baku Azerbaijan, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine. Photos by Matt Boutet.

Serves: 10 with many other dishes present, 6 as a main dish
Cooking Time: 1 hr
Note:
Perfect with:
Azerbaijani yellow rice, fresh vegetable platter, pickled vegetable platter

Ingredients

  • 1 cornish hen
  • 2 onions
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 cup ghee
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tomato
  • 8 eggs
  • pinch citric acid (optional)

Instructions

1. Remove any parts from the cavity of the cornish hen. Cut hen into bone-in pieces: wings, legs, breasts, thigh. Trim off any excess fat and the very wing tips and discard. Slice each breast piece across twice so you have three smaller pieces, about the size of a leg or wing. Place in a large soup pot on high with about 1/4 cup water.

2. Slice the onions into 1/4" thick moons, and add to pot with 1/2 cup ghee, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp turmeric, and 1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper. Lower heat to 8 out of 10, and cover with lid.

3. Let cook, stirring once in a while, until onions are almost disintegrated. Turn down heat or add a little water if contents threaten to burn. Cut off tomato skin with paring knife, cut out and discard stem, dice flesh and add to pot. Let cook ten minutes more.

4. Scramble 8 eggs in separate bowl. Stir in a pinch of citric acid if you wish (it's super sour, literally a pinch will do), and then pour eggs into the pot with the chicken. Stir and let cook just until egg solidifies. Spoon hen and egg mixture into a serving dish and serve with platter of yellow rice. You may warn guests that there are bones in the cornish hen dish.

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Albanian/Greek Chicken Pie

Kotopita

As Bill Dilios, from Politsani, Albania (formerly part of Greece), taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, ME.

Serves: 10 for dinner, 20 as an appetizer or side
Cooking Time: 2 hours plus thawing overnight

Ingredients

  • 1 box phyllo dough
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large yellow or sweet onions, medium dice
  • 1 stick butter, cut into 1/2" chunks + 1 stick butter
  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into 1/2" cubs
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 boullion cube, 1 tsp boullion paste, or 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs

Equipment

  • cutting board
  • chef knife
  • mixing spoon
  • large soup pot 
  • large mixing bowl
  • medium bowl
  • pastry brush
  • Bill's special kotopita pan [link to store]:
  • or 3 pie plates
  • or 2 9x12, 2-inch deep baking dishes 

Instructions

1. Thaw phyllo dough. The day before you want to make kotopita, transfer the phyllo dough box from the freezer to the fridge to thaw it. Then an hour before you want to start cooking, take the phyllo box out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature on the counter. If you forget to take the phyllo out of the freezer the night before, you can thaw it on the counter in 2-3 hours. 

2. Make the filling. Saute onions with 2 Tbsp oil and 1 stick butter (cut into chunks) until onions are soft, 5-10 minutes. Cut the chicken pieces into 1/2 inch cubes and add to the onions. Wash all surfaces that raw chicken touched.  When chicken is half-cooked (opaque on the outside but still translucent in the center), add rice and saute for 2 minutes without browning anything. Add chicken stock so that the rice is just floating in liquid, about 3 cups. Add crushed bouillon cube, bouillon paste, or salt as desired and incorporate. Saute, stirring frequently, until the liquid disappears and you have a thick mass of chicken and rice with no runny liquid. Remove from stove and let cool. Mix in three eggs.

3. Preheat oven to 395. 

4. Assemble the pie. See how he did it in this video. You melt a stick of butter in cereal bowl and get a pastry brush out. Bill made one awesome, giant pie in a what looked like an extra-large, deep-dish pizza pan. Alternatively you can use three pie dishes or 2 9x12 baking dishes. Brush the bottom and sides of the baking dish with olive oil. Layer whole phyllo sheets over the bottom of baking dish, overlapping the edges of the pan by roughly 2 inches. (No folding, cutting or fussing!). 

Now be like Jackson Pollock with the butter brush dripping melted butter on the phyllo. You don't need to brush the butter around - just drip enough butter so that it looks like it's starting to rain on a sidewalk. Make another layer of phyllo overlapping the edges again. Drizzle butter again. Layer phyllo again. Drizzle butter again. When you have about five layers of phyllo, make a layer of chicken filling about 1/2" inch deep. Cover with two more layers of phyllo/butter drips. Add another layer of filling about 1/2" deep. Do five more layers of phyllo. Fold all the draped edges of phyllo on top of the pie. Brush butter over the dry edges of phyllo, folding them down onto the pie. 

If you are using multiple pies, when you complete one pie, just follow the same process and make another one in another dish. 

5. Bake for about 40 minutes, turning the temp down to 385 after ten minutes. When the entire pie is golden brown, remove from oven and let the pie cool for 10-20 minutes. 

 Bill Dilios teaches how to cook his favorite dish from Politsani, Albania.

6. Serve. A cool trick for cutting the pie: place a large cutting board (one that is bigger than the pie itself) over the top of the pie. Holding the pan and the cutting board together, flip them over so that the pan ends up upside down on top of the cutting board. Now just lift the pan off the pie. Use a serrated bread knife to pie into squares or wedges, depending on what look you want.

Once pie is cool, store leftover pie in tinfoil in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in a 350 degree oven or toaster oven.

 

 

Bosnian-Serb Meat Pie

Burek

As Sanja Bukarac, from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine. Illustration by Margaret Owen. Photos by Matt Boutet.

Serves: 9
Cooking Time: 1:15

Ingredients

  • 1 package phyllo dough
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds ground meat (she used beef, veal and pork)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 bunches scallions, sliced into rounds
  • salt
  • pepper
  • bottle of plain kefir
  • sour cream (optional)

Instructions

1. One day before cooking transfer phyllo from the freezer to the fridge. One hour before cooking, transfer phyllo box to the counter. Leave it all wrapped up; you don't want the filo to dry out.

2. In a large saute pan with a little oil, saute ground meat with scallions until the meat loses all raw pink spots and is evenly brown. I didn't see her drain the meat of liquified fat, but I had a lot so I drained it off. Season with salt and pepper. In a separate container whisk together the eggs and yogurt. Grease a rectangular baking dish with spray cooking oil. Preheat oven to 385.

3. On a large cutting board or tray, lay out 2 sheets of filo on top of one another with the long side of the rectangle facing you. Spoon ground beef onto the phyllo dough in the shape of a line about an inch thick parallel to the long edge closest to you, leaving an inch of phyllo on each end meatless. Use about 1/2 cup ground beef mixture to make the line. Drizzle yogurt mixture over the top. Roll the phyllo over the meat and keep rolling so you have a long cylander of meat rolled in phyllo. Be quick and confident when working with phyllo, and use as few touches as possible to do what you need to do. For example, just leave the roll you just did where it finished rolling as opposed to moving it somewhere. The more you touch phyllo, the more it falls apart. Cover it with a clean kitchen towel if you need to step away for a minute - otherwise it dries and breaks easily. Make 2 more of meat-in-phyllo rolls.

4. Now put another two sheets of phyllo down, this time off-setting them by 3 inches vertically to give you a little more surface area to roll the three meat rolls you just made inside these sheets of phyllo. Before you roll them up, spoon yogurt mixture in a zig zag pattern across all three rolls. Once they're bundled in the phyllo, transfer this "roll of rolls" into the baking dish, seam side down. Repeat this step two more times, fitting rolls flush against each other in the baking dish.

5. Spray the top of the meat pie with cooking oil and bake until golden and crispy, about 45 minutes. Cover with a clean kitchen towel for ten minutes to help the interior be soft.

Slice cross sections and serve with forks, and glasses of plain kefir with spoons. Instruct your guests to alternate bites of meat pie and spoonfuls of kefir. Also, some like a little sour cream with their meat pie.