Sides

Trinidadian Flatbread

Buss up Shut

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

Notes: The name of this dish, buss up shut, is Trinidadian Creole for "busted up shirt," referring to the worn-in, flaky texture of the flatbread. Steve served this flatbread with a quick garbanzo and potato curry. They were delicious together. Here's a youtube video on another Trinidadian's take on how to manage the dough - worth a watch before you dive into doing this for the first time. Some details are different but the feel of the dough and the concepts are the same.

Makes: 4 servings
Cooking Time: 2 hours (50 minutes active)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour plus extra for your work surface
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • about 3/4 cup water
  • 5 Tbsp ghee 
  • 2 Tbsp oil 

Equipment

  • mixer (optional) with dough hook or mixing bowl
  • clean kitchen towel
  • rolling pin
  • spoon or flexible spatula for spreading ghee
  • two flat wooden spoons or flat sticks
  • 12-inch-wide sauté pan or flattop griddle
  • basket lined with napkin 

Instructions

1. Soften ghee by bringing it to room temperature or microwaving it a little bit.

2. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and water by hand or with a mixer with a dough hook until the dough turns smooth, soft, and stretchy (about 5 minutes w/ mixer or 10 minutes by hand.) If the dough is sticking to the sides you can add a little more flour. If the dough is hard to maneuver, add a little more water so the dough is easy to move around and manipulate but does not stick to your hands. (You can always dust your hands with flour to keep the dough from sticking to them.) 

3. Divide the dough into four balls. Cover them with a clean cloth for 20 minutes. (If you're making other dishes, such as curry, now would be a good time to make that.)

4. Once dough has rested, sprinkle flour on your work surface. Press one of the balls into a disc. Roll the disc out to a thin circle, about 1/8 inch thick. To help it keep a circular shape, turn the disc 45 degrees every couple times you roll it. When the dough starts to stick to the rolling pin, simply sprinkle flour on the dough and the counter, and spread it around with your hand.

5. Spread about 1 Tbps ghee over the entire surface, and sprinkle with flour.

6. With a paring knife, cut the radius of the circle. 

7. Roll the cut edge back on itself and keep rolling so that you roll almost the whole circle into a cone. Pull the last remaining flap over the base of the cone,  sealing the edges of the buttery layers inside.

8. Place cone on its base and press the upended tip of the cone down into the base, transforming the cone into a mound. Place the mound on a flour-dusted counter and cover with clean towel. 

9. Repeat this process with the remaining three balls of dough. Once finished, cover the mounds with a towel and let rest 30 minutes.

10.  Sprinkle counter top generously with flour. Pre-heat oiled flat pan or griddle to medium. Roll one of the mounds out into a circle. Sprinkle and wipe the top of the dough and/or counter with flour to keep the dough from sticking to the counter or the rolling pin. Roll into a thin circle, about 1/8 inch thick.

11. Place the circle of dough on the hot pan/griddle for a couple minutes, brushing the top side with vegetable oil. Flip and let the other side cook. With two wooden spoons push the edges of the circle into the middle multiple times, making it wrinkly and worn. Keep the circle scrunched in the center of the pan to make sure the edges have a chance to cook fully. Once the layered dough is cooked throughout, put it crunched up in a towel-lined basket. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

12. Serve busted up flat bread thick vegetable or meat dishes like stewed meats, dals, and curries. The classic Trinidadian combo is buss up shut and garbanzo and potato curry. Buss up shut is to be eaten with your hands - use ripped pieces of the bread to scoop up bites of other foods. 

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.

English Popovers

Yorkshire Pudding

As Josephine Morris, from York, England, taught Lindsay Sterling in New Gloucester, ME.

Note: Josephine served these as part of her Sunday dinner, with roast beef, leeks in cheddar sauce, potatoes and gravy. They're also great by themselves for breakfast or brunch with jam and butter. In the U.S., these are called "popovers" because they puff up and pop over the edge of the container when they're cooking.
Makes: 24
Cooking time:  45 min

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups milk
  • 5 small eggs (or 4 large)
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Equipment

  • blender
  • muffin pan(s) for 24 muffins
  • hot pads
  • teaspoon

Instructions

1. Take milk and eggs out of the fridge so they become room temperature.

2. Turn the oven temp up to 425 degrees F.

3. Pour a teaspoon of oil in each hole of the muffin pan and stick the muffin pan in the oven to preheat.

4. In a blender, combine 5 eggs, 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp salt and 2 cups milk. Blend until smooth. When blender is stopped, look to see if there are air bubbles showing on the top of the batter. If not, blend a bit more.

5. Remove the hot muffin tin from the oven and pour batter to fill 1/3 of each mold. Put in over.

6. After fifteen minutes and give the pan a turn for even cooking. After five minutes (or when popovers are puffed up and a little golden, turn off oven and open oven door to let popovers cool down gradually (this helps them keep their shape).

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.

 



 


 

African FouFou

As cooking friends from Ghana, DRC, Burundi, Somalia, Zambia, and Liberia taught to Lindsay Sterling at various locations in New England.

Notes: Foufou is a starch similar in texture to polenta and known by many different names throughout Africa (Burundian bugali, Zambian nshima, Congolese ugali...) It served in the form of a smooth mound or a slice of a molded loaf alongside soup or saucy dishes. In the U.S. we use bread similarly as we dip our bread into soup or soak up sauce with it.

Foufou can be made out of different flours such as that of corn, rice, semolina, plantain, or cassava/yuca. Foufou mixes/flours are sold online or at tropical markets such as the Tropical Foods Supermarket (450 Melnea Cass Blvd Boston, MA). The easiest and tastiest version of foufou to make in my opinion is one made with pre-cooked corn flour that some Congolese friends told me beginners should use. Incidentally, this is the same flour my Venezuelan friend used to make arepas. 

All my foufou teachers ate foufou with their hands. They broke off small bites of foufou, dipped them in soup or sauce, and then ate them. After the novelty of getting my hands messy wore off for me, I found myself putting spoonfuls of foufou in my soup and enjoying them as I would dumplings with a spoon. For authentic dishes to accompany foufou, try these: Ghanaian peanut soup, or Burundian greens, beans, and goat.

Cooking time: 30 min.
Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fou fou mix or fine flour of corn, plantain, rice, or semolina
  • 4 cups water

Equipment

  • Small pot or microwave safe bowl
  • Foufou stick, wooden dowel, or wooden spoon
  • soup bowls or medium mixing bowl

Instructions

1. Fill medium pot on medium high heat with 4 cups water. Mix in the foufou flour in so that the water turns opaque  but is still completely watery in texture. Stir constantly with the foufou stirring stick.

2. When the mixture heats up, it'll turn thick like cream. Boil vigorously, stirring constantly. The mixture will continue to thicken. Now, keep stirring around and around the edges and bottom, about 15-20 minutes. This is hard and you will want to quit, but this is how you do it. The goal is to end up with a contained ball of thick dough: jiggly, sticky, and malleable. Keep stirring so the foufou is smooth and thick, like a wet ball of really sticky playdough.

 Ebenezer Akakpo teaches how to make his favorite food from Ghana.

3. When you have a smooth thick mass, wet the inner surface of your guest's soup bowl (this will make the foufou not stick to the bowl). Scoop a serving (about 2/3 cup) of the foufou dough into the bowl. Move the bowl back and forth and around to get the mass of foufou to bounce around inside the bowl and take on the bowl-shape. It may help to turn the foufou over to get a really smooth, mounded top surface. Repeat for other guests. You can spoon soup or sauce around the foufou in the same bowl or serve the foufou and soup/sauce in separate bowls.  

Polish Sweet Cheese Dumplings

Pierogi

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


Notes: If you will be making your own Polish farmer's cheese (it's easy) for the filling, you'll need to start the process the night before. You can find Polish farmer's cheese already made in a Polish market. 

Pierogis freeze really well. It's great to make these in advance so all you have to do on the day you want them is make the topping and boil them.  

Makes: about 70 dumplings, enough to serve for 6 for dinner or more as an appetizer or snack.
Cooking Time: 3-4 hours

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 3 cups Polish farmer's cheese (twarog), store bought or homemade
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 package vanilla sugar (subst. 1/2 tsp vanilla)
  • (possibly 1-3 Tbsp milk)

For the dough:

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

For the toppings:

  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 8 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 4 Tbsp honey
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Instructions



Make the dough. Warm the milk. In a large mixing bowl, mix the milk and whipped egg into the flour and salt 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 you make the filling.

Make the filling. Mix the filling ingredients together: Polish farmer's cheese, egg yolk, powdered sugar, and vanilla sugar or vanilla. You want it to be creamy and uniform rather than crumbly. Depending on how dry your cheese is, you may need to mix in small amounts of milk until your filling comes together in a creamy uniform mass.

Form 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 snake shape 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.

If you are serving these another day, freeze pierogis in a single layer on a flour-dusted sheet pan. Once frozen, transfer into a Ziplock. Cook within 3 months.

On the day you want to eat them, prepare the toppings. Saute breadcrumbs in butter slowly on medium-low heat until breadcrumbs are golden. Remove from heat. Mix yogurt, honey, and lemon together in a bowl. If you're using Greek yogurt, whisk in a little water to loosen it into a sauce.

Boil the pierogis. Bring a pot of salted water 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 if you want to try cooking more at once.

Remove cooked pierogis with a slotted spoon or spatula and serve on a platter. Top with small splatters of yogurt sauce and buttered breadcrumbs.
 

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 Handmade Tortillas

As D., from a village near Uspantan, Guatemala, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine.

Note: My Guatemalan friends eat these thick tortillas like bread with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The day we cooked together they ate them with their favorite homemade Guatemalan chili sauce and chicken and vegetable soup.
Makes: 4-6 servings
Cooking Time: 45 min

Ingredients

Instructions

1. Put the masa flour in a wide bowl. Add water and knead with your hands for about 5 minutes until you have a smooth, soft dough that leaves the sides of the bowl clean. Form a smooth top and let the dough sit for 5 to 10 minutes in the mixing bowl covered with a clean towel.

2. Heat a crepe pan, flattop griddle, or an iron skillet (whatever you make pancakes in should work) to medium heat. 

3. Watch this video to see how she formed the tortillas by hand. She did not use a tortilla press. Her dough was softer (it had more water in it) than the dough that works well in a tortilla press.  You basically break off a enough dough to form a lime-sized ball, then pat it back and forth between your hands until you have a flat disc shape about 1/4-inch thick.

4. Place the tortilla on a hot, dry pan and don't move it for about 2 minutes. (Depending on your pan, you may have to wipe an oiled paper towel on the surface to help the tortilla not stick. My Calphalon stainless steel pan does not work at all for this. My iron skillet works well, as does any pan with a nonstick surface.)

5. When the side of the tortilla facing down looks golden in parts, flip it over and heat the other side for minute or two until it is golden in parts. If you are burning the tortilla before the inside is cooked (cooked looks a darker shade of yellow than the pale raw dough), then turn your heat down a smidge.

6. Place the finished tortilla in a basket. This allows the steam to release - otherwise the trapped steam makes soggy tortillas. Continue forming and cooking tortillas until all your dough is gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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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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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Chinese Cucumbers

As Ann Shen from Guilin, China, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine. Photography by Lindsay Sterling.

Cooking time: 15 minutes
Makes: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 long or 2 smaller cucumbers
  • 2 Tbsp Chinese black vinegar* (if you're gluten free, please substitute with another vinegar - this is made with barley)
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce (if you're gluten-free, please check the label on this before use)
  • 3-4 Tbsp Chinese chili paste* (crushed dried red chilis in oil with Sichuan pepper, salt, and peanuts)
  • 4 green onions, sliced into thin circles
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro

*Find these ingredients at an Asian market near you, or online. For the black vinegar you could substitute red wine, white wine, rice, cider vinegar, or balsamic with a little water added to it. For the chili paste, you could use anything hot - try some chili flakes sauteed in oil, chili oil, or the more mainstream Sambal Olek chili paste (this is much hotter so use only 1 Tbsp) - and add a handful of whole peanuts.

Instructions

1. The goal is to have equally long, wedge-shaped segments of cucumber to stack into a neat pile. To do this, cut the cucumber into equally sized segments, about 2 inches long. Then cut the segments in half lengthwise and then cut the haves lengthwise again into to wedges.

2. On a serving platter, stack the cucumber segments on top of each other like a wood-pile.

3. Pour the vinegar, sesame oil, and soy sauce over the cucumbers and around them on the dish.  

4. Spoon Chinese chili paste on top and around the cucumbers.

5. Sprinkle green onions and cilantro on top.


 

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 Mini Waffles

Gaufres

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

Makes: 146 pieces, serving 10-35 people depending on appetite!

Ingredients

  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • spray butter (aka nonstick spray) or oil

Instructions

1. Put flour in bowl of a stand mixer. Cut 1/2 stick of butter into 1/4 inch cubes and melt the rest. Mix cold butter into flour, then mix in warm butter, sugar, and 3 eggs. Mix until incorporated.

2. Add enough milk so the consistency is thick but doesn't completely hold it's shape. Mix until smooth.

3. Heat up waffle iron. Spray the center of each quadrant with spray butter or oil so the waffle doesn't stick to the waffle iron. (You could also brush both sides of the waffle iron with oil).

4. Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon of batter into the center of each quadrant. Spray the top of each mound of batter with spray butter. Close the waffle iron.

5. When waffles are done, pluck them out of the press with a fork and put on a serving tray to cool. Serve straight up or with whipped cream, honey, ice cream, or peanut butter.

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 Yellow Rice

Pilaf

As Zemfira Ahmadov, from Baku, Azerbaijan, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, ME.

Serves: 10
Cooking Time: 1/2 hour active, 2 hours total
Note: The rice has a wonderful scent, flavor, and texture - individualized and firm - not soft or mushy. 
Perfect with: meat dishes such as Azerbaijani cornish hen, or Azerbaijani beef.

Ingredients

  • 3 c. basmati rice
  • large tortilla or potato sliced into 1/4 inch planks
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/3 c. ghee (a little less than a stick of butter's worth)
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Equipment

  • large pot with tightly fitting lid
  • clean cloth towel
  • strainer
  • small plate
  • large serving platter

Instruction

1. Cover rice generously with water in a large bowl and massage rice to aid rinsing off white powder. Strain. Boil rice as you would pasta, for 8 minutes, and strain. It should be slightly uncooked and not yet fragrant or flavorful. Strain and let dry for 5-10 min.

2. Melt ghee in microwave or stovetop. Oil the bottom of a large pot and fit large tortilla in the bottom of the pot. With a small bowl or dessert plate take some of the rice out of the strainer and sprinkle it into the tortilla. Repeat, making a mountain of fluffed rice in the tortilla with the mountain peak in the middle of the pot.

3. Once you have a mountain of fluffed rice in the pot, sprinkle turmeric all over the top like the mountain is dusted with yellow snow.

4. Pour melted ghee in a small stream over the surface area of the rice mountain with a small drizzle as possible.

5. Cover the opening of the pot with two layers of paper towels or a clean cloth towel. Seal the lid over the towel, which keeps condensation from dripping back down into the rice. Fold edges of towel on top of lid so they don't dangle by any fire. Cook on low, setting 4 out of 10, for 1 1/2 hours.

6. Use a small dessert or salad plate to lift the rice out of the pot and toss the rice lightly onto a platter. The goal is for the rice to be fluffed onto the platter. 

 

 

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Congolese Orange-Ginger Energy Drink

As Constance Kabaziga's daughter, from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, ME. Photo by Ted Axelrod

Note: This awesome energy drink cleanses and burns in a reviving way. It wakes you up with flavor!

Makes: 10 servings
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 quart of orange juice
  • 6-inch stalk of ginger
  • Sweetener (optional)
  • Pineapple juice (optional)

Instructions

1. Peel and cut ginger into chunks.

2. Blend ginger in blender with orange juice. Pour juice through a mesh strainer to strain out the ginger fibers.  

3. Serve the strained ginger-orange juice straight as a refreshing and healthy energy drink. Add sweetener or fresh pineapple juice if you wish.

Vietnamese Papaya Salad

As Hop Nguyen, from Bac Ninh province, Vietnam, showed Lindsay Sterling in Yarmouth, ME, February 7, 2010.

Makes: 4 servings as appetizer or side salad
Active time: 20 minutes
Note: To find a green, unripe papaya for this dish, you may luck out at your mainstream supermarket. If not, Google your location and "Asian Market" to find an Asian market near you or try ordering green papaya online. Whole green papayas are large, firm, and have green skin. Some Asian markets sell freshly shredded papaya. It looks like light green spaghetti noodles and is ready for making the salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. shredded green papaya
  • 1-2 carrots
  • 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp salt
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 heaven point chili pepper, diced
  • 1 c. raw peanuts
  • large handful fresh thai basil, cilantro, or mint leaves

Instructions

1. Toast peanuts dry in a saute pan until fragrant. Peel carrot with a peeler and cut the peels into shoelaces. You want about 1 cup shredded.

2. Soak papaya and carrot in salt water (1 Tbsp salt) in large mixing bowl for about ten minutes to begin to soften. While they’re soaking, put peanuts in a quart size ziplock bag with towel over it and tap with a meat grinder until peanuts are the size of small gems. If you want to make a fancy garnish, carve carrot into flower.

4. Strain carrot and papaya. Squeeze handfuls of them hard and you’ll wring almost a cup of water out. Mix in salt, then sugar, then lemon juice. Mix until you see the papaya start to become more limp. Strain remaining liquid and mix in peanuts.

5. Serve topped with whole leaves of fresh cilantro, basil, or mint, and your decorative carrot-flower

Chinese Potstickers

As shown to Lindsay Sterling by Rattana Sherman, from Bankok, Thailand, in Durham, ME. Photography by David Holman.

Note: You can make these in advance so that all that’s left to do is step 6 - sauteeing. After step five, freeze them on the cooling tray, then transfer to an airtight container and store in freezer. 
Cooking time: 2 hours
Makes: about 42 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cabbage, chopped then turned granular in a food processor
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp white whine
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 package circular dumpling wrappers (she used Twin Marquis brand Shanghai style)

For sauce:

  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2-3 drops sesame oil

For garnish:

  • sesame seeds
  • or fried garlic

Instructions

1. Mix sauce ingredients in small bowl.

2. Make pot sticker filling by mixing everything except the dumpling wrappers in a large mixing bowl until evenly incorporated.

3. Set up where you’ll assemble and cook the dumplings. Next to your sink place the bowl of filling, the stack of dumpling wrappers, and a large plate or tray for your assembled pot stickers. Turn the faucet on cool drip. Put a pot of water on high on the stove for boiling them, and next to it a tray where you’ll place the boiled pot stickers to cool. Next to that, put a small dish of vegetable oil with brush for coating the hot pot stickers so they don’t stick.

4. Take one wrapper and wet it on one side with your fingers. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of the wrapper. Fold it in half, sealing the filling inside by pressing the wrapper edges together. Make three pleats in the round edge of the dumpling. Set aside on a tray and keep making more.

5. Boil a pot of water. Add batches of potstickers (if you put more than one layer in, they'll stick to each other), stirring gently at first to make sure none stick to the bottom. Once they’re all floating (about 4 min.), place on perforated tray or strainer. Brush all over each with oil to prevent sticking. Assemble the rest of the pot stickers and cook. Freeze what potstickers you want on a tray without them touching each other. (Once they're frozen, put in a Ziplock bag). 

6. In a large saute pan with 2 Tbsp of oil on med-high heat, brown about 10 pot stickers at a time on each side. Then toss a shot of water into the pan. Put the golden potstickers on plates, drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with fried garlic or sesame seeds.