Peanut Free

Three Eritrean Sauces

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Silsi (Spiced Tomato), Ades (Lentil), and Shiro (Smooth Chickpea)

As a gentleman from Eritrea taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine. 

Notes: He served these three vegetarian sauces on sourdough flatbread called injera. He shared this platter with friends who all ate from it with their hands, using ripped pieces of the flatbread to scoop up sauces into delicious bites. If you can't find injera at an Eritrean/Ethiopian market or store near you or don't want to make your own (it takes 3 days to ferment and is quite tricky), serve these sauces as dips or spreads with sourdough toast.

Before you start this recipe you'll want to make the Eritrean spiced butter, and order berbere spice and shiro powder online. Once you have those and the rest of the ingredients, making these sauces is easy. 

Cooking time: 45 min
Makes: 6 servings as a light meal

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp Eritrean spiced butter (omit this for a vegan or lactose-free version)
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup corn or canola oil
  • 3 Tbsp berbere spice
  • 5 large red tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup shiro powder 
  • 1 cup pink lentils 
  • 4 pieces injera or a loaf of whole wheat sourdough (or gluten free bread as desired)
  • small fresh green chilis for garnish (optional)

Equipment

  • sheet pan/cookie sheet
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • three medium sauce pots
  • blender or food processor
  • spatula
  • wooden spoon

Instructions

1. In a medium sauce pan on medium heat, saute a finely diced onion in 1/2 cup corn or canola oil for about ten minutes, stirring often, until onion is soft. Put the lid on between stirring. 

2. In another medium sauce pot, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Spread lentils on a sheet pan or tray and sort through them with your fingers, removing any non-lentil debris.

3. Rinse lentils, and add them to the heating water. Bring them to a boil, turn heat to medium-low and and continue to simmer until the lentils have softened somewhat but still have a little firmness to them and hold their shape. 

4. To the pot of frying onions, add 3 Tbsp berbere spice and cook another ten minutes, stirring frequently. 

5. Blend tomatoes in blender or food processor until smooth. Add the blended tomatoes to the frying onions along with 2 Tbsp spiced butter. Simmer for five more minutes, stirring frequently, and adding salt to taste. This is the first sauce, spiced tomato, or silsi.

6. In a third pot (small or medium size), bring 2 cups of water to boil.  

7. Once the lentils are half-way cooked, mix in 1 cup of the spiced tomato sauce and continue cooking on medium low until lentils are soft. Taste for seasoning and add salt as desired to finish. This is the lentil sauced called ades.

8. Once the water in the third pot is hot, stir in 3/4 cup spicy red sauce and continue to heat. Once it comes to a boil, turn it to simmer and whisk in 1/2 cup shiro powder. Heat on medium, stirring intermittently until the sauce becomes thickened, and slightly looser than pudding. Turn off heat.

9. Serve Eritrean sauces (spiced tomato, chickpea, and lentil) on injera or with slices of sourdough. Decorate the edges of the injera with small, fresh green chilis. Have extra injera or bread at the table. 

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.

 

 

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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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.

 

 

Burundian Spicy Rice

Ipilau 

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

Serves: 8
Cooking time: 30-45 minutes
Note: Assumpta said: "ipilau has everything in it that you need." In Burundi, it's often served with beans, stewed greens, baked chicken with saucy vegetables, and salad.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 green pepper, sliced
  • 2 large onions, large dice
  • 1/2 cup carrots, cut into 1 1/2 inch segments
  • 4 tsp pilau spice mixture (see below)
  • large handful green beans
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 2 1/2 cups white long-grain rice such as basmati or jasmin
  • 4 cups water

Ipilau Spice Mixture:

  • 6-16 small, hot dried chilis or 1-3 tsp ground chili powder depending on your spice preference
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon or 5 pieces (1-2 inches long)
  • 10 whole green cardamon pods
  • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp whole cumin
  • 1 piece whole mace or 1/2 tsp mace powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds


1. Blend the ipilau spices in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. You'll have about 12 teaspoons total of the spice mixture. You'll only use 4 tsp today, so put the extra in a small jar or ziplock and use it again next time you make ipilau.

2. Choose a large pot that has a lid. With the lid off, saute onions and peppers in oil for twenty minutes on medium.

3. Add carrots, salt, spices, peas, green beans, and rice. Saute for a couple minutes, stirring, and then add water.

4. Bring to a boil, put lid on, turn heat to low. Rice is ready in about 15 minutes when all the water is absorbed and rice is soft.



 

Guatemalan Chicken and Vegetable Soup

As E., from a village near Uspantan, Guatemala, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine. Photo by Lindsay Sterling. 

Note: My Guatemalan friends ate this soup with thick, fresh homemade tortillas and a spicy tomato mash. 
Makes: 8-10
Cooking time: 1-2 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 large whole free range chicken, cut into 2-3inch, bone-in pieces
  • enough water to cover the chicken by 3-4 inches
  • 3 Tbsp salt
  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 chayote squash, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered + 2 whole tomatoes
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into 3" segments
  • 4 culantro leaves (he called it samate) or small handful cilantro leaves, rough chopped
  • small bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • small bunch of fresh parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chicken bouillon + 1 Tbsp as desired
  • 2 fresh hot chili peppers of your choice
  • 1 lime
  • 16-20 thick, handmade tortillas (substitute corn bread or bread)

Instructions

1. If you are handmaking the tortillas, start by making the dough first. Once it's resting, then get the soup started.

2. In a large pot cover the chicken pieces with water by 3-4 inches, add salt, 2 Tbsp chicken bouillon and boil until chicken is cooked (opaque throughout). While that's cooking, if you are making your tortillas from scratch, this would be a good time to make them.

3. Once the chicken is cooked, then add potatoes, squash, carrots, and the 2 quartered tomatoes to the soup pot.

4. While those are cooking, in a separate pot boil the two whole tomatoes and 2 whole fresh chili peppers until the chili peppers are soft. Peel skin off tomatoes and roughly chop chili peppers and then mash the tomatoes and peppers together in a mortal and pestle. 

5. When vegetables in the soup are tender, add all the chopped herbs (culantro/cilantro, mint, and parsley). Taste. If you think it needs it, add 1 Tbsp bouillon to enhance flavor. Serve bowls of soup with a basket of warm, thick tortillas, a bowl of lime wedges, and a bowl of the chili-tomato mash for guests to add to add spice their soup as desired.

Armenian Cheese Phyllo Packets

Burek

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

Cooking Time: 45 minutes (plus thawing something in the fridge over night)
Serves 8-16 as an appetizer or along with a meal

Ingredients

  • 1 box phyllo dough
  • 1 cup shredded mild, unsalty cheese (she preferrs Munster)
  • 1 cup feta cheese
  • 5-6 sprigs parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

Equipment

  • sheet pan or backing sheet
  • parchment paper
  • pastry brush
  • 2 small bowls
  • 1 medium bowl
  • cheese grater

Instructions

The night before:

1. The night before you want to cook, thaw the phyllo dough out in the fridge.

The day of:

2. about an hour before cooking put the phyllo on the counter to bring to room temperature before working with it.

3. Preheat the oven to 375. Melt the butter and add the oil to the butter in a small dish. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

4. Mix the cheeses together with chopped parsley in a medium mixing bowl.

5. Open the phyllo dough and unroll it so you have a stack of rectangular sheets. Keep a clean towel handy for covering the stack when you're not using it. This keeps the sheets from drying out and breaking.

6. Take two sheets from the stack at once and place them in front of you with the short end of the rectangle facing you. With a paring knife cut the rectangle in half the long way, making two really tall rectangles. Brush butter along the edges of each rectangle with the pastry brush.

7. Place a spoonful of cheese mixture at the bottom of each rectangle. Then fold the bottom edge of the phyllo over the filling and line it up with side edge so that you start to form a triangle. Then keep folding the triangle up the phyllo dough. You effectively close in the filling and make each triangle have many layers of pastry. Brilliant! Fold the triangle until you can fold no more. (If you've ever folded a flag into a neat triangle it's the same idea here).

8. Place the burek on the lined cookie sheet. Make as many more as you can with your ingredients. Brush the tops of the burek with the butter/oil, stab the tops with a sharp knife to let steam out while cooking, and sprinkle sesame seeds on each. Bake them in the oven 'til golden.

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

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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 Winter Squash

Futari Ya Maboga

As Iman Lipumba from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine. Adapted from A Taste of Tanzania, by Miriam R. Kinunda. Photos by Lindsay Sterling.

Note: You can make this dish to by saucy or not depending on how much liquid you add. Cooking time: 30 min.
Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1/2 small onion, medium dice
  • 1 butternut squash (or kobocha or hubbard), or about 1 1/2 lbs., peeled and seeded, and sliced into rectangular planks 1/2" x 2" inches
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder or 3 whole black/brown cardamon pods (green also tastes good)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1-3 cups water (if you want sauce - enough to hit the squash in the pot shoulder high)
  • dash cinnamon to taste

Instructions

Heat oil in large pot and saute onion until soft. Add ginger and cardamon, stir for one minute; then add water, coconut milk, and salt. Stir and bring to a boil. Add squash and turmeric. Once liquid boils again, cover pan and turn heat to low. Try not to stir or bump the squash if you want nice large pieces. Remove cardamon pods if you used them. Serve pieces of squash with sauce. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of each dish to taste.

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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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Argentinian Beef Hand Pies

Empanadas

As Valy Steverlynck, from Luján, Argentina, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine.

Serves: 12-24 depending on how big you make them
Active time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hr (if you use pre-made dough) to 2 days if you make your own dough and prep the filling the day before.

Note: For the dough, Valy used pre-made empanada discs or "discos" as they are named on the package. They're sold in the freezer of Latin markets and some supermarkets. These make this recipe really easy. I've provided a dough recipe for those who want to make dough from scratch.

For the dough:

  • 2-3 packages pre-made empanada dough discos OR:
     
  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 egg, mixed up
  • 1 egg for egg wash at the end
  • two dashes salt
  • 5-7 Tbsp cold water

For the filling

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 lb. ground beef 
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, rough chopped
  • 1/4 cup green olives, chopped
  • dash cayenne or hot chili powder to taste

For the glaze:

  • 1 egg

Equipment

  • 2 half sheet pans or cookie sheets
  • rolling pin
  • 2 cereal bowls
  • 1 small bowl
  • spatula

If you are making your own dough:

  • large food processor or large bowl with fork/pastry cutter
  • wax paper 
  • plastic wrap 

Instructions

1. If you are using the pre-made empanada dough, skip ahead to item number two. If you are not using the pre-made dough discs, make the dough a day ahead of time if you can. Put flour, salt, the mixed egg, and butter in a food processor or use a fork or your fingers to cut the butter into the flour until you have what looks like course coarse corn meal. Add 5 Tbsp ice cold water and blend briefly until the dry flour-y look is gone, but what you see is still loose and crumbly, not dough-y. Try squeezing the loose pieces together. Do they stick together? If not, then continue mixing in water teaspoon by teaspoon until they do. When the crumbles do stick together when pressed, then dump half the contents onto a sheet of wax paper, and the other half on another sheet. Press the contents on the wax paper into a long rectangular pile perpendicular to you and roll the wax paper over tightly so you make the dough into a cylinder, about 2 inches in diameter, contained in wax paper. Do this with the other pile and wax paper. Refrigerate the cylinders wrapped in plastic wrap for thirty minutes or better, over night.

2. You can make the filling the day before, too, if you like. Hard boil 2 eggs. Saute onions in oil. When soft, add ground beef, spices, tomatoes and salt. When beef is all the way cooked, mix in parsley, hard boiled eggs (cut into 1/4 inch pieces), green olives and raisins. Refrigerate until you want to assemble and cook the empanadas. 

3. Take the package of dough discs out of the freezer or your handmade dough and put out on the counter to soften. 

4. Preheat oven to 350.  

5. Assemble the empanadas. If you're using the store-bought discs, you can roll them out a little thinner on a generously floured counter top. Also dust the tops of the dough with flour to keep the rolling pin from sticking. 

If you're using your homemade dough, unwrap the wax paper, cut across the cylinder to make 2-inch thick pieces. Flour your counter and your rolling pin and roll a piece out in to a circle about 4 inches in diameter.

Put a cereal bowl upside down on the dough and trim off any excess. Put 2 Tbsp filling on the bottom half of the disc, keeping the edges of the disc clean. Dipping your finger in a small bowl of water, wet the edge of the dough so that when you fold the dough over the filling to make a half circle, you can press the dough together along the outer edge and it sticks, sealing the filling inside. 

Press the tines of a fork along the sealed edge (like rays shining out from the filled center) to make a pretty pattern. Or you can fold the edges on top of themselves (see pictures above).

6. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling, putting each assembled empanada on a sheet pan or cookie sheet. Prick the top of each empanada with a fork. Mix up the last egg in a small bowl and brush the tops of all the empanadas with egg wash.

6. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and shiny. Serve immediately.

 Valy Steverlynck shares her favorite dish from Argentina.

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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.

Vietnamese Noodle Soup

Pho

As Hieu Nguyen from Dalat, Vietnam, taught Lindsay Sterling, in Falmouth, ME July 2013

Note: Hieu gets the fresh herbs, bean sprouts, fresh ginger, fish sauce, spices, chilis, limes, rice noodles, packets of pre-mixed pho seasonings, and even Pho serving dishes (super large bowls) at Veranda Asian Market in Portland, Maine, 695 Forest Avenue, Portland, ME, 207-874-8001, (open daily 9am-9pm). Look for an Asian market near you and go - it's a great experience. 

Makes: 8 servings
Cooking Time: 3-4 hours, with a lot of inactive time

Ingredients

 For the marinade:

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2" ginger
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce (he prefers Viet Huong brand)

For the broth:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2" ginger (okay to leave skin on)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 2-4 Tbsp fish sauce (he prefers Viet Huong brand)
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 cinnamon sticks (3" inches each)
  • 10 whole cardamon pods
  • 20 whole cloves
  • 6 whole star anise
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/3rds
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled
  • 16 oz. chicken broth

For the soup:

  • 24 oz. rice noodles (1/4" wide)
  • 1 bag (about 4 cups) fresh mung bean sprouts*
  • 1 bunch Thai basil
  • 1 bunch culantro
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 6-12 red Thai chilis
  • 1 lime
  • 4 scallions
  • Hoisin sauce (if you are gluten free, please check the label or avoid)
  • Sriracha sauce

Equipment:

  • stainless steal spice ball (for infusing herbs in broth) or cheese cloth and string*
  • sharp boning knife
  • large cutting board
  • 2 medium bowls
  • 1 large soup pot or stock pot
  • small handheld mesh strainer and small bowl
  • large colander for noodles
  • 8 larger-than-normal, pho-style bowls with base plates*
  • 8 large, flat-bottomed spoons*
  • 8 pairs chopsticks*

Instructions

1. Marinate the meat.

Rough chop garlic and 2" of the ginger. Put in a medium bowl. Take skin off whole chicken using a boning knife. Carve meat off the bones (breasts, legs, thighs and back muscles), trimming all fat off as you see it, and place meat in the bowl with the ginger and garlic, and the bones in a stock pot. Mix 1/2 Tbsp sugar, 1/4 Tbsp salt, and 1 Tbsp fish sauce into chicken meat with hands. Wash hands. Discard all chicken fat and skin. Wash cutting board and anything that touched the raw chicken. Cover chicken and let marinate.

2. Make the stock.

Place bones in a large soup pot or stock pot.  Cover chicken bones with cold water by 2-3 inches and turn on medium. Add 16 oz. chicken stock, 2 Tbsp sugar, 1/2 Tbsp salt, and 4 Tbsp fish sauce. Enclose black pepper, cumin, clove, cardamom, star anise and cinnamon in a cheese cloth or a stainless steel spice ball. Roast whole onion and ginger over bare stove flame until ginger skin is black and onion is steaming and put both broth. Once broth begins to steam, turn heat to low. Don't let the broth boil or simmer at all. Once the broth has been steaming for about 20 minutes, swipe a handheld mesh strainer through the top three inches of broth, removing particulate matter and any oil. Discard the contents of the strainer and run it upside down under water as necessary to clean. The goal in the end is to have a clear broth, which is achieved by getting rid of floating particles and oil, and never boiling the broth. Repeat this process about every ten minutes over the course of an hour and a half to achieve clear broth. If you have oil on the top, skim off with large flat spoon.

3. Prep the fresh toppings.

Wash the bean sprouts, all the fresh herbs, lime and chilis. Dry with paper towels and place each on separate plates. Slice the lime into 8 wedges and then slice the wedges across into half wedges so you have 16 pieces.

4. Cook the chicken.

After the stock has been cooking for about an hour and a half, remove the ginger, onion, carrot, spices and bones. Slowly submerge the marinating chicken into the hot broth. Cook for 13 minutes, remove chicken and place in a clean bowl to drain and cool. Send the hand held strainer through the broth 4 or 5 times to get the ginger and garlic chunks out. Slice the chicken into 1/4 inch slices and put on serving plate(s).

5. Make the noodles. 

Bring a full large pot of water to a boil (for cooking rice noodles). Add rice noodles to boiling water and cook for 8 minutes. Strain and run cold water over them so they don't stick together as much when they're cool.

6. Assemble the bowls. First put rice noodles in the bowl, then 4-5 pieces of chicken, sprinkle on sliced scallions. Ladle on broth so the noodles and chicken are surrounded. Pick leaves off Thai basil and cilantro leaves from stems. Add about 4 of each to each bowl. Break culantro leaf into 1 inch long pieces, and add to soup. Add a mountain of bean sprouts on top. Squeeze lime over top. Serve with fresh whole Thai chili on the side.

7. Finish each bowl at the table. Diners squirt generous squiggles of Sriracha and Hoisin sauces on top of his or her bowl of pho. Before eating, toss the contents of the bowl with the chopsticks in one hand and flat-bottomed spoon in the other as you would a salad. Use chopsticks to help load up the flat-bottomed spoon, and go ahead and slurp the contents of the spoon and juice into your mouth. Take a nibble of the Thai chili (one of the hotter chilis in the world). When all you have is broth left, it's okay to lift your bowl to your mouth to sip the rest.

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.

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

 

Dominican Stewed Beef

Note: In the Dominican Republic, a lunch plate of meat, rice and beans, and fried green plantains, is a classic called La bandera. In Spanish, "la bandera" means "the flag," which is to say that the dish is as Dominican as the flag itself. The kind of meat served varies. This is one of my favorites.

Makes: 10 servings
Cooking time: 30 min in pressure cooker; 80 minutes in regular pot + 1-12 hours marinating

Ingredients

For the marinade (called sazon or sofrito):

  • 1/2 head garlic
  • 1 onions
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup rough chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 chicken bouillon cub
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 Tbsp achiote powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp green olives
  • 1/2 Tbsp capers
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water only if needed

For the beef:

  • 2 1/2 pounds stew beef
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce (if you're gluten-free, please be sure to use gluten-free soy sauce)
  • 2 Tbsp sazon or sofrito marinade
  • 1 tsp pepper  
  • 4 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste
  • pinch cinnamon
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3-4 cups hot water
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • salt to taste

Instructions

1. Make the marinade. Peel the garlic cloves, peel the onion, and cut the onion and green pepper into quarters. Place all of the marinade ingredients in the blender with just enough water to get the blender going. Blend until smooth.

2. Reserve 2 Tbsp of the marinade for making the beef, and freeze the rest in 2-Tbsp portions in an ice tray or in piles on a sheet pan/cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Once frozen, transfer the marinade nuggets into a sealed Ziplock. Use these later when making this beef dish again, rice, or soups. 

3. In a large bowl mix soy sauce, 2 Tbsp of the marinade, pepper, garlic, and cinnamon. Coat meat evenly with this mixture by massaging with hands. Cover and let marinate in fridge for 1-12 hours.

4. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed large pot (with lid) or pressure cooker pot. Once oil is hot, add meat. Once the meat is brown on the surface, add cilantro and enough water to come up "shoulder high" on the meat. Cook the meat until tender. If you're using a pressure cooker, this will be about 15 minutes. If you're using a regular pot, this could be more like an hour - you'll need to add more water to keep it saucy. When the meat is tender, add tomato paste, and cook for five minutes more. Taste and add salt if necessary.

 

 

 

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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