Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Yemeni Appetizers

The whitefish appetizer is above and the white bean fasolia is lower in the multi serving bowl. Also had some tzatziki, olives and toasted pita bread. It was very rich and everything worked together very well!

Yemeni Whitefish Appetizer

▪8 to 12 cloves whole garlic, peeled
▪2 fresh red peppers sliced in chunks
▪1 tsp cumin or to taste
▪½ tsp turmeric or to taste
▪1 salt and freshly ground
▪1 pepper to taste
▪¼ cup vegetable oil
▪1 cup water
▪3 lb whitefish, whiting, sea bass or trout fillets
▪paprika to taste

1. Put the garlic, fresh red pepper, cumin, turmeric, salt, pepper, oil and water in a saucepan and simmer very slowly, covered for about 1½ hours.
2. Be careful not to let the sauce burn, adding water if necessary.
3. Pour some of the sauce in a baking pan and place the on top.
4. Spoon the rest of the sauce around the.
5. Cover and simmer on top of the stove for 15 – 20 minutes or until the fish flakes.

For the Fasolia:
Saute white kidney beans with onions.
Add tomatoes and blend or mash. 
Addition of some parsley or mint would go very well.
You could vary with onions and garlic as well!

Yemeni entrees and dessert

For the Yemeni entrees, we used two recipes from  A Yemeniyah's Recipes website. Both were quite easy to prepare and would be excellent to prepare early in the week to have lots of leftovers. I did find the Chicken and Rice recipe to have too much rice for the amount of chicken and sauce, so I would cut it down to 1.5 cups of rice rather than the 2 cups the recipe called for. It is like a lightly flavoured Indian dish and I would definitely make it again. Sorry, no photos today - we ate it long before I remembered to document both meals!

Chicken and Rice

chicken pieces - the recipe calls for a whole chicken but I used very large free-range chicken thighs instead (boneless and skinless).
a cup of yogurt (plain)
two small grains mastic
4 whole cardamon pods
a cinnamon bark
4 whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp of ground cumin
1/2 tsp of ground coriander
1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp of ground black pepper
1/8 tsp of turmeric
1/8 tsp of curry powder
salt to taste
2 pinches of saffron threads –once pinch soak in about 1/4 of a cup of water
2 tablespoons of ghee
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups of basmati rice –washed
2 medium sized onions thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic finely minced
a green chilly pepper cut vertically –optional.

In a frying pan under medium heat add the ghee and oil and saute the onions until they are golden brown.  Then add the chicken and let cook for about 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and let cook for another couple of minutes. In the meantime add cumin, coriander, turmeric, ground cinnamon, ground black pepper, turmeric, curry powder to the yogurt and mix well. Then add the mixture to the chicken. Add a pinch of the saffron as well. Let cook for 3 minutes and then add 3/4 cup of water and cover and let cook under medium heat for another 10 minutes. In the meantime pre heat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit and start to prepare the rice.
For the rice place a pot of hot water to boil. Salt the water and add the cinnamon bark, cardamon pods, peppercorns, and mastic and when it starts boiling add the rice. Let the rice cook under medium heat until it is almost cooked. So, it has a slight bite to it. Turn off the heat and run the rice through a sieve.
Now take an oven dish, or if your frying pan is deep enough and is oven safe take the cover off of the chicken mixture and later the rice on top of it. Then take the rice and form  a layer on top and drizzle the saffron soaks in water on top. Cover with foil and place in oven for 20-30 minutes. 

Lamb Chop in Red Sauce

3 lamb chops
3 tomatoes placed in hot water and then peeled , seeded and chopped
1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper or any red hot chilly powder that you like
1/4 tsp of cumin
1/4 tsp of coriander
1/8 of a tsp of turmeric
salt to taste
1/8 tsp of black pepper
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
6 tablespoons of Olive Oil
one onion diced
Cilantro for garnish
lemon slices for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Using a frying pan add the olive oil and under medium high brown lamb chops. Remove chops and add the onions. Sauté. Add the tomatoes and let them cook for about 3 minutes. Then add all the spices –cumin, coriander, turmeric, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt. Let that cook for about 2 minutes, then add the tomato paste and add a cup of water. Use boiled water from kettle. After about 3 minutes add the lamb chops, add more water to cover them completely (if your frying pan is not deep enough then transfer to an oven dish), cover with foil and place in the oven. Once you hear it bubbling lower the temperature to 350 and let bake for an hour to an hour and a half. Run a knife through the chops to make sure that they are tender. If tender then they are done. The sauce should be nice and thick, but not dry. Place on a serving platter, garnish with cilantro and lemon slices and serve with toasted french bread. Enjoy!

Finally, the dessert was very simple and I can see that the traditional method of breaking off pieces and dipping them in the additional butter and honey would be quite satisfying as well as a bonding experience as we humans tend to bond over shared things - food being the most important of all! 

Bint al Sahn - Honey Cake

1 packet dry active yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
4 large eggs, beaten well
3/4 cups ghee
melted ghee or butter, for on serving platter
warm honey, also for serving

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and salt together and make a well in the centre. Pour the yeast mixture and beaten eggs into the well then stir together and turn out to kneed well. Mix in only 1/4 of ghee and continue to kneed. Add water if the dough is not elastic enough. Divide the dough into 16 balls about the size of the egg. Roll each ball into a flat, thin shape with either hands or a rolling pin. Brush a baking sheet with ghee and then stack 8 of the thin, rolled out balls on top of each other brushing with ghee on top of each one. You'll have two stacks at the end. Keep the stacks in a warm place for about 45 minutes and then bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 or until a light, golden brown. Serve hot with lots of melted butter and warm honey on the top. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

iXtapa Mexican dinner...yeah, yeah, we know it's not a country....

However, Ixtapa is a lovely region in Mexico that we decided to visit since their are no countries that start with the letter X. Borrowing the Mac flair, it seemed appropo to spell it iXtapa!

Spicy Black Bean Slow Cooker Soup

1 pound dry black beans, soaked overnight
4 teaspoons diced jalapeno peppers
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1. Drain black beans, rinse.
2. Combine all ingredients and cook on high for 4 hours. Reduce heat to low. Cook for 2 hours and serve. 

Cod and Haddock fillets coated with chick pea flour and Goya Adobo (spice)
fried in EVOO. Fry until lightly browned. Sorry about the presentation above...they tasted much better than they looked! 

Homemade tortillas 

(gluten free version made with coconut oil instead of Crisco, Robin Hood's Gluten-free mix flour)

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup Crisco

1/2 cup water

Mix and let sit. Form into 1.5" balls and then roll out. Cook on a pizza stone for 30 seconds per side at 400-450 degrees. You can also cook them in a non-stick pan on the stovetop. P.S. they freeze well so make extra for the next time you eat Mexican!

Coleslaw...recipe is lost, but really, make whatever you like to put in your tortilla since it adds and authentic crunch!

Tostones (TOS-tone-ehs):

1. Take semi-ripe plantains (skins should be light green to light/medium brown)
2. slice into 1/4 inch pieces
3. Fry in EVOO with minced garlic
4. Remove to plate
5. Smoosh with bottom of a pan or glass
6. Return to fryer...fry until golden brown

7. salt to taste

Mexican Dessert - not authentic, but tasty!

We were just craving something fresh tasting and hit upon this recipe for an Avocado Lime Cheesecake. I added candied limes similar to this recipe (although I didn't take the time to blanche the lime slices first).  The recipe does say to use an ice cream maker and in retrospect, I probably shouldn't have ignored that recommendation. However, although creamy and not exactly solid, it was pretty darn tasty. Had it been in the freezer for another hour or two, it would have been solid for sure!

Friday, August 30, 2013


Wales! It was the best choice (we thought) of the "W" countries. I know, technically Wales is part of the UK and therefore does not appear as a country unto it's own...but those grumpy, old Welshman I know would take issue with me not separating it from it's "ugly" sisters.

Our other choices were Western Sahara (we've already been on the continent of Africa. See our Nigeria post), Wallis and Futuna and Western Samoa. So, Wales it was.

Didn't get any photos of the Welsh Rarebit (pronounced "rabbit") but it sure tasted good! The recipe used is found at

Caws-Wedi-Pobi or Welsh Rarebit

·  half a pound of cheese, grated
·  1 tsp. dry mustard
·  4 tbsp. milk
·  4 slices of fairly thickly sliced bread
·  1 tsp. butter
·  2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
·  salt and pepper to taste
·  2 tsp. flour
·  2 tbsp beer (optional)
·  tomato wedges and parsley, to garnish (optional)
Cooking Instructions:
1.     After toasting the bread, heat the grated cheese gently in a saucepan until it melts
2.    Stir in the other ingredients
3.    A little beer can be added to the sauce if desired
4.    Pour the cheese sauce over the toast and place under a grill until a golden brown

5.    Garnish with tomato wedges and parsley.
Leek with mustard and chevre on garlic toast

Leek with Mustard and Mascarpone on Garlic Toast

Serves 4
2 Medium Leeks, trimmed, washed, cut in half lengthways and cut into 1/4inch half moons and washed again
30g Unsalted Butter
100ml Whipping Cream
150g Mascarpone Cheese (or Goats Cheese - this is what we used)
2 Tablespoons of English Parsley Finely Chopped
1 Teaspoon of Tewkesbury Mustard (optional)
Twist of Milled Pepper
4 slices of crusty bread
1 Peeled Clove Garlic

Melt the butter in a saucepan on a gentle heat and then add the leeks. Simmer gently for 5 minutes until the leeks are tender then turn the heat up slightly to reduce any moisture in the pan. Turn the heat down again and add the cream. Boil for about 1 minute – or until the mixture looks nice and thick. Add the Mascarpone or Goats Cheese and beat it well into the mixture until melted and bound together. Season with pepper, parsley and the mustard.
Toast the bread. Then rub the slices with the garlic, place the leeks on top and serve. You can glaze this mixture under the grill until golden and to gain a better glaze beat a fresh egg yolk into the mix before glazing. Garnish with Watercress leaves.

Creamy Leek Soup

·       8 medium leeks (3 pound), trimmed, leaving white and pale green parts only, and chopped
·       1 medium onion, chopped
·       1 large carrot, chopped
·       2 celery ribs, chopped
·       1 teaspoon salt
·       1/2 teaspoon black pepper
·       1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
·       1 small boiling potato (6 ounces)
·       1/2 cup dry white wine
·       3 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth (24 fluid ounces)
·       3 cups water
·       1 Turkish bay leaf or 1/2 California
·       1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
·       1/4 cup all-purpose flour
·       1/2 cup chilled heavy cream (only if you really want it!)

1. Wash sliced leeks in a large bowl of cold water, agitating them, then lift out and drain well in a colander.
2. Cook leeks, onion, carrot, celery, salt, and pepper in 4 tablespoons butter in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Peel potato and cut into 1/2-inch cubes, then add to onion mixture along with wine, stock, water, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Stir in parsley and simmer soup, uncovered, 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf and keep soup at a bare simmer.
4. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a 1-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then add flour and cook roux, whisking, until golden, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 cups simmering stock (from soup), whisking vigorously (mixture will be thick), then whisk mixture into remaining soup and return to a simmer, whisking.
5. Blend soup in 4 batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), about 1 minute per batch, transferring to a 3- to 4-quart saucepan. Reheat if necessary, then season with salt and pepper.
6. Beat cream in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until it almost forms soft peaks. 7. Serve soup topped with cream. There is really no need to add this as the soup is creamy enough without!
Creamy leek soup
Roast lamb, yams, squash and potato

Molasses cake

Monday, July 29, 2013

V is for Venuzeula

Well, visiting Venezuela was a welcome treat in the blahs of February! Delicious, lightly spiced food, great apps and drinks and a terrific desert!

The drink of the evening was a pineapple themed drink from the LCBO that looked like it might be complimentary to the Spanish/Mexican type tapas that we started with. It's the Lime Vodka Sunset ( and is made of:

1 oz Lime Twist Vodka
1/2 oz Coconut Run
4-5 oz pineapple juice

Mix all together and garnish with a wedge of lime.

Venezuelan Appetizers:

Chunky-style Guasacaca

·3-4 large ripe avocados
·1 large onion
·1 green pepper
·1 red pepper
·1/2 cup chopped tomato
·3-4 cloves garlic
·1/3 cup olive oil
·1/4 cup vinegar
·1/4 cup chopped parsley
·Salt and pepper to taste
·Tobasco or hot pepper sauce to taste
1.     Mash one of the avocados. Chop the other avocados and mix them with the mashed avocado in a bowl. Stir in the vinegar and olive oil. 
2.     Finely chop the red and green peppers, tomato, and the onion and add to the avocado. 
3.     Mince the garlic and add to the mixture. 

4.     Season the guasacaca with salt, pepper, and tobasco sauce to taste. Makes approximately 2 cups

Chunky-style Guasacaca -

Pico de Gallo Venezuelan style

Tequeños - Venezuelan Fried Cheese Sticks (no photo)

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, chilled
1 egg
1/2 cup water
12 ounces queso blanco cheese, farmers cheese, or other firm, salty cheese that melts
Vegetable oil for frying

Prepare the dough: Place the flour in a medium bowl along with the sugar and the salt and whisk together. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces and place them in the bowl with the flour. Add the egg. Use your fingers to mix the egg and butter into the flour until the mixture is sandy and crumbly, and the butter is in very small pieces. Stir 1/4 cup of water into the flour/butter mixture using a fork. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture starts to come together as a dough. Knead the dough in the bowl several times, adding more water if it is overly crumbly. The dough should be soft and kneadable but will appear somewhat shaggy and not perfectly blended. Cover with saran wrap and let rest for 20-30 minutes (Dough can be prepared ahead of time and chilled in the refrigerator until ready to use).
Choose a firm, salty white cheese that does not turn completely gooey when melted. Queso blanco cheese, Salvadoran quesillo, and farmers cheese work well. Cut the cheese into 3-4 inch long sticks, about 1/2 inch square. Depending on the size of the cheese block you start with, you should have about 24 sticks.

Dough for the seafood yumminess (pupusas)

Seafood yumminess

Frying the pupusas
Unfortunately, we can't seem to find the recipe for these little, delicious yummy things. However, it was just a chickpea flour basic dough with chopped shrimp, parsley, tomato and chicken stock and salt/pepper. You reduce the seafood with the stock and then fill the dough. Then deep fry in coconut oil (or vegetable oil if you like).

The arepas are a staple of Veneuzelan cooking and I would make them again in a heartbeat! Below the recipes follows from

Reina Pepiada Arepas

Arepas define Venezuelan cooking. These thick cornmeal patties are griddled, then baked, and then stuffed while warm with anything from white cheese to this zesty chicken salad with avocado mayonnaise (Johan Santana’s first choice). The salad is named in honor of Susana Duijm, Miss World in 1955 and a popular Venezuelan celebrity. (Reina means "queen" in Spanish, and pepiada is perhaps most politely translated as "curvy.") 

·2 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts
·1/2 small onion, sliced
·Salt and freshly ground black pepper
·1 ripe Hass avocado, pitted, peeled, and coarsely chopped
·1/4 cup mayonnaise
·1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar, plus more to taste
·2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
·2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
·1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
·2 garlic cloves, minced
·1/2 cup seeded and diced (1/4-inch) red bell pepper
·2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
·1 scallion, white and green parts, finely chopped
·3 cups lukewarm water, or as needed
·1 1/4 teaspoons salt
·3 cups Venezuelan cornmeal, or as needed *
·2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil, plus more for the griddle


1 To make the filling, place the chicken breasts and onion in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the saucepan and let cool completely. Tear the chicken into shreds.

2 Mash the avocado, mayonnaise, and vinegar together in a medium bowl with an immersion blender or large fork until smooth. Stir in the cilantro, parsley, jalapeno, and garlic. Add the chicken, red pepper, red onion, and scallion and mix together. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more vinegar to give the filling a pleasant, but not sour, tang. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3 To make the arepas, stir 3 cups lukewarm water and the salt together in a large bowl to dissolve the salt. Gradually add 3 cups cornmeal, mixing with your fingers to dissolve any lumps, adding enough to make a soft dough that holds its shape without cracking when molded. Set dough aside to rest for 3 minutes. Add the oil and work it in with your hands, adding cornmeal or water to return the dough to the proper consistency.
4 Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Shape each into a 4-inch diameter disk, about 1 inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet.
5 Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a large nonstick skillet or griddle and heat over medium heat.
6 In batches, place the arepas in the skillet. Cook until the underside is a splotchy golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn and brown the other side. Return arepas to the baking sheet.
7 When all of the arepas are browned, transfer them directly to the oven rack (without the baking sheet). Bake until the surfaces of the arepas have formed a taut skin—if you rap your fingers on one, it will feel and sound like a drum. Return arepas to the baking sheet and let cool slightly. Split each arepa in half and fill with the chicken mixture. Serve warm.

 Venezuelan Beef Stew

All sorts of flavours abound in this stew since there are so many types of meat. Do yourself a favour and hit up the butcher shop before making this so you can buy in the exact quantity...otherwise you'll have lots of different meats left. Or, just make a double batch with the extra! It would be worth it and would freeze well also.

5 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
1 lb round steak
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cooked ham, cubed
2 1/2 ounces chorizo sausage, halved lengthwise then sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 (4 ounce) package pepperoni, sliced
1 (15 ounce) can tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1 cup beef broth
1/4 cup sherry wine
1 1/2 teaspoons cilantro, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons steak sauce (A1 sauce preferred)
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups potatoes, peeled cubed
1 cup white pearl onion
1/2 cup carrot, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
1 In a dutch oven, cook bacon until crispy. Set aside but reserve drippings.
2 Trim fatty edges from round steak and then cube steak into 1 inch pieces. Toss beef meat with flour to coat.
3 Brown beef in the drippings. Drain fat and then stir in next 13 ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce heat.
4 Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add potatoes, onions and carrots. Cover and cook for 35 more minutes. Stir in the peas the last 5 minutes.
5 Sprinkle with bacon.

Venezuelan beef stew
 Dessert was a coconut flan that while appearing finicky was surprisingly easy to make. I also wanted to do baked plantain but figured that we always have too much food on our hands so we probably didn't need an extra dessert. Here's a link to a recipe for them anyway:

The coconut flan (picured below) is from
The Venezualan name is Quesillo de Coco.
For caramel
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
For flan
3 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3 large eggs
1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
3 tablespoons dark rum
Equipment: 12 (4-ounce) ramekins

Make caramel:
Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals from side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Boil, without stirring, swirling pan occasionally so caramel colors evenly, until dark amber.
Immediately pour into ramekins and swirl so caramel coats bottom of each, then put ramekins in a large roasting pan.

Make flan:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Blend 2 cups milk with remaining flan ingredients in a blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, then divide among ramekins.
Bake flan in a water bath until just set but still wobbly in center, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
Remove ramekins from water bath and cool slightly on a rack, at least 15 minutes (flan will continue to set as it cools).

Just before serving, run a thin knife around each flan, then invert onto plates.
Coconut flan
 Also notable...and not so Venezuelan...

YUM! Hope you try some of these recipes!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

USA - exactly one year ago and somewhat forgotten...

Hi folks,

We're back online now and digging into the memory banks for our trip to the United States of America.  Since one of our gang is a true American, the meal was All-American as Apple Pie (which we did have for desert). However, since this happened so long ago, there are a few blank spots. There aren't really any recipes for these as many were just done off the cuff but we didn't want to leave "U" out of the alphabet. This is what we can piece together so far:

Appetizers - Beer, ribs, beer, potato skins, beer bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers, beer and more beer. There may have been some Californian reds mixed in there in the beverage department, too....

Potato Skins
Stuffed jalapenos (with cream cheese) 
The end of the ribs...they went fast!

 Main course - Ribs (different recipe, not pictured) and chicken wings, white hots (from Wegman's), potato salad.
Close up of chunky potato salad

Desert - Good Ol' Fashioned Apple Pie

Unfortunately, the only pictures I took were in the making of the pie, not once it was complete!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Steve & Abby's Thai food blog entry

Friends who are travelling in Thailand by bike write a hilarious blog entry on street food in the country. Just makes me a tiny bit jealous!