Vegetarian

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. 

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).

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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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Armenian Baklava

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

Cooking time: 1 hr (plus the phyllo needs at least 3 hours to thaw beforehand)

Serves: about 40 pieces

Note: you may have to order the asterisk-ed ingredients online or find them a a Middle Eastern market near you. Phyllo dough is in the freezer in a rectangular box.

Ingredient

  • 1 box phyllo dough
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp rose water* (optional)
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 12 oz. walnuts
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • unsalted pistachios, chopped finely (optional)*

Equipment 

  • Pastry brush
  • parchment paper
  • sheet pan or cookie sheet
  • small bowl 
  • food processor
  • large mixing bowl
  • small pot
  • mixing spoon

Instructions

Ahead of time:

1. Thaw the phyllo dough one of two ways. You can either put the box of phyllo in the fridge one or two days before cooking and then put it on the counter an hour before you want to work with it (so that it becomes room temp.) Or you can take the frozen phyllo out of the freezer 3 hours before you want to work with it, take it out of the box (leaving the phyllo sealed in plastic), and thaw it on the counter for 3 hours. 

2. Make the syrup. In a small sauce pan, bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring a little bit so that the sugar melts into the water. Let boil, add lemon juice, and turn heat down to medium-low for about ten minutes. Turn off heat. Once cooled, add rose water, and cool further in the fridge.  

When you want to cook:

3. Preheat the oven to 375. 

4. Make the filling. Pulse walnuts in a food processor so that you have a crumbly mixture of nuts, with most pieces about 1/4 inch or less. Put into a medium sized bowl. Stir in cinnamon and just enough of the syrup so that the mixture kind of holds together but not all the way. You may also choose to use honey for this part.

5. Prepare and layer the phyllo dough. Melt the butter in the microwave or on the stove. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Open the phyllo dough and unroll it so that the stack of rectangular sheets lays flat. Clear a workspace in front of you. Have the butter, phyllo and cookie sheet handy. Take two sheets of the phyllo dough off the stack and lay them in front of you on the counter with the the longest edge facing you. (Cover the stack of phyllo dough with a clean towel so the rest of the phyllo doesn't dry out and break while you're working). Brush a thin layer of butter on the top sheets that you just placed in front of you. Take another two pieces of phyllo dough from the stack and lay them right on top of the ones in front of you. Brush the top layer with butter.

6. Make an inch-thick row of the nut mixture on the phyllo along the edge closest to you.  Roll the phyllo layers over the filling as tightly as you can, squeezing the nuts once they're enclosed, to get them into the cylinder shape. Continue rolling away from you through the rest of the phyllo dough so that you end up with a long cylinder that's about an inch in diameter. Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

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

7. Brush the top of the roll with butter, and use a paring knife to cut across the roll at a diagonal making pieces that are about an inch wide. Make more rolls just like the first until you run out of filling. Bake the baklava until golden, 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately spoon the cool syrup slowly over each roll. Listen to it sizzle. The syrup will pool a little below each row by about a half of an inch, but don't worry. Over time the hot pastry will suck up all the syrup. Sprinkle the tops of the pastry with crushed unsalted pistachios if you like. Present the pieces in a pretty shape like a spiral or concentric circles on a platter. 

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

Bulgarian Bean Soup

As Svetla Popova, from Kustenvil, Bulgaria, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine. Photos by Lindsay Sterling.

Serves: 6
Cooking time:  30 minutes (using pressure cooker) or 1-2 hours (using regular pot), plus soaking beans overnight
Notes: Svetla says, “Why do you have to put chicken stock in everything?” Good point. This dish goes well with spanikopita for a wonderful vegetarian meal. 

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup dry beans (any kind you like, she used kidney)
1 stalk celery, medium dice
1 medium onion, medium diced
2 carrots, cut into ½-thick rounds
½ green pepper, large dice
1 ½ Tbsp paprika
1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp chopped fresh spearmint
2 cloves garlic, minced
about 2 tsp salt

Instructions (if using pressure cooker)

1. Generously cover beans with boiling water and let soak over night or at least a few hours before cooking.

2. Strain beans, and put into pressure cooker on high with 5 cups water, onion, carrot, green pepper, celery, and paprika. Once safety valve hisses on the pressure cooker turn down heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes. If using a regular pot, it could take anywhere from 50 minutes to 2 hours to soften the beans, depending on how old they are.

3. Then put whole pot in clean sink, run cool water over pot until it stops hissing, and open it up to add tomato and salt to taste. Simmer to incorporate, 5 minutes. Turn off heat and add fresh mint and garlic before serving.

Instructions (if using regular soup pot) 

1. Generously cover beans with boiling water and let soak over night or at least a few hours before cooking. 

2. Strain beans, and put into large pot with 6 cups water and paprika. Once boiling, turn down heat to medium-low. Cook for 45 minutes. Add onion, carrot, green pepper, celery and continue cooking until beans and veggies are soft, 15-60 minutes depending on the age and type of beans.

3. When beans are soft, add tomato and salt to taste. Simmer to incorporate, 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Add fresh mint and garlic before serving.

Nicaraguan Beans and Rice

Gallo Pinto

As Jenny Sanchez, from Leon, Nicaragua, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine. Photo by Lindsay Sterling.

Note: "Gallo" means "rooster" in Spanish; "pinto" means "spotted." The rice and beans cooked this way look mottled like a rooster's feathers.
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Makes: 4-6 servings

Ingredients 

  • 1 can pinto beans, strained and rinsed
  • 1 cup medium or long grain white rice (preferably not parboiled)
  • 1/4 green pepper, medium dice
  • 1/4 red pepper, medium dice
  • ½ small yellow onion, medium dice
  • 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp salt
  • about 16 cilantro leaves
  • 4 ripe bananas or plantains (yellow with black spots)
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 8 oz. salsa
  • 1/2 small cabbage
  • 2 tomatoes, large dice
  • 1 1/3 limes
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, cut in ½ inch cubes (Jenny couldn’t find the Nicaraguan cheese in the States and found that cheddar tastes great here)

Instructions

1. In a small pot with a lid, bring 1 cup rice and 2 cups water to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover, and let cook for 20 minutes.

2. While the rice is cooking, in ¼ cup olive oil in large sauté pan, saute yellow onion, red and green peppers until soft. Mix in beans and let cook for 5 minutes on medium high so beans are sizzling in the oil and beginning to brown. Turn over sections of the beans gently with spatula to brown the other sides of the beans. Once beans are slightly browned, scoot the beans into a ring around the outer edge of the pan so the center of the pan is empty.

3. Pile the cooked rice into the center of the pan. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt onto the beans around the rice. Mix the beans and rice together so that the beans are evenly distributed in the rice. Add cilantro leaves, cover and turn off heat.

4. Peel bananas or plantains and slice each lengthwise, then across so that you have 2.5-inch long segments. In 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large sautee pan (preferably nonstick) on medium-low heat, saute bananas or plantains in a single layer until golden brown. (If not using non-stick pan you may use more oil). You may use two pans at once or fry the plantains batches. Because the fruit is so sweet, the natural sugars can burn easily, so keep an eye on your heat and if they’re getting too dark too fast, turn the heat down. Flip each piece so both sides become golden brown.

5. While the bananas are cooking, shave the cabbage on a large cutting board into lacy thin shavings with a paring knife. Cut limes in half and squeeze lime juice directly onto the cabbage. Sprinkle cabbage with ¼ tsp salt. Toss the cabbage so that the lime and salt are evenly distributed.  Sprinkle the diced tomato on top of the cabbage.

6. Get ready to assemble each person’s plate by putting all the components of the dish next to your stack of serving plates: the rice and beans, sour cream, salsa, fried plantains, and cabbage salad.

7. Now fill a cup-sized small bowl or measuring cup with rice and beans and press down as if packing sand into a mold for a sand castle. Flip over the cup of packed rice and beans onto the center of the first plate, releasing an unusually orderly mound of rice and beans. Now make an “X” out of two banana or plantain segments on one side of the beans and repeat with two more segments on the other side. Decorate the empty parts of the plate surrounding the beans and plantains with a generous dollop of sour cream, a couple spoonfuls of salsa, and the cabbage salad. Sprinkle cubes of cheese on top of the rice and beans. Continue assembling the rest of the plates. Enjoy this fine meal!