Armenia: Fasulye

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I have been falling behind on my postings. I’ve been keeping up okay with my cooking, but I continuously forget to post. Whoops 🙂

So, on February 20th (yes, almost a week ago) I made dinner for Jamie and I which originated from Armenia. While searching for what to make, I found out that a typical dish served in Armenia is dzhash. This is a watery stew consisting of a meat, vegetables, and spices. Since it was a common dish, I decided to make it. But, one thing that has been really difficult so far on this journey is finding recipes. I typed ‘dzhash’ into Google and got nothing; I couldn’t find a recipe for it 😩 . After more research and searching, I found a recipe for the main course meal called Fasulya which was described as a stew with green beans, lamb, and tomato broth. I found a recipe for it, but this recipe omitted the lamb, which I was quite okay with (refer to my Afghanistan post in which I made lamb kebabs here). The recipe I used is called ‘Taze Fasulye’ which literally means fresh beans. I just used canned beans. I really wish it was the summer. Jamie and I had a wonderful garden planted last summer. It was so fun to be able to tend to it and watch things grow, and of course, eat it all 🙂 ! We’re hoping to get a small garden going again this summer, but since we’re in an apartment, we’ll just have to settle for planter boxes. Hopefully in the future we will have a large property on which we can have a large garden. Here’s our garden from last summer.

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We had tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, potatoes, beans, and corn.

(Also, I’m really excited right now because I just figured out how to have text beside a picture! Huzzah! Life’s small accomplishments!)

This dish was fairly good. Definitely not the best one yet (I’m not sure if anything will ever beat the Caribbean pepperpot stew I made for Antigua and Barbuda (check it out here). One piece of advice I would offer about this dish is to halve (or at least reduce) the amount of oil it calls for. The end product was very oily. That’s the main thing I didn’t like about it. The beans themselves were really tasty. Oh yeah, I made some plain rice to put the beans on top of. Yummy.

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Fasulye

1 kg green beans (small fresh tender runner beans if at all possible)
250 ml extra virgin olive oil
3 medium sized chopped onions
2 large fresh peeled and flavourful tomatoes (alternatively one can of chopped tomatoes). Canned tomatoes are better than anaemic fresh ones!
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons sugar
Water to cover the beans

Pour the olive oil into a large pan and warm. Fry the onions until they are soft and translucent.

Chop the tomatoes into small pieces and add them to the onions (or pour in the can of already chopped tomatoes).

Add the beans, salt and sugar. Mix well, and pour over enough water to cover the beans.

Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat. Cook the beans on a slow simmer for approx 1 hour until they are lovely and tender, and the sauce is well reduced. Try them for texture.

Recipe courtesy of: http://www.petersommer.com/turkey-travel-country/turkish-food-cuisine/taze-fasulye-green-beans/

Next stop on my cooking adventure is Australia. If you missed my last post on Argentina, check it out here. 8 countries down, 187 to go.

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Antigua and Barbuda: Caribbean Pepperpot Stew

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Here in Canada, it’s a little chilly right now. I’m kind of at that point in winter where I regret singing “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow’ back in December. I am very ready for warn weather and all that that entails; shorts, tank tops, open windows, sun! 

Yesterday I was very excited to be making food from Antigua and Barbuda; islands in the Caribbean. I was hoping for some tropical dish that would, at least for a moment, make me forget about the blustering, cold weather.

While looking up typical cuisine of Antigua and Barbuda, Wikipedia (my best friend) kindly told me that the national dishes there are fungie and pepperpot. Pepperpot caught my attention (because it sounded like something that might warm me up). After a bit more research and digging I came across what is currently my favourite recipe; Caribbean Pepperpot Stew.

I was intrigued by the ingredient list at first. How would sweet potato, jerk seasoning, red wine vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce (man that’s a hard word to spell)… as well as other ingredients, taste together? Well, let me tell you… stinkin’ AMAZING! This was the best stew that I’ve ever had. It was both sweet and spicy. Such a mix of flavours and colours. I don’t know about you, but the appearance of food is a big thing to me. Colourful things just look more appetizing, and this was very colourful; red, green, orange, brown. If you’re going to listen to me at all while following along on this journey… do it now. MAKE THIS STEW! You will definitely thank me later. (You’re welcome). Also, a bonus to the dish, is that it is SO incredibly easy to make. Preparation is like 10 minutes. All you have to do is brown the meat, cut up a few vegetables, measure out a few things, then dump it all in a casserole dish and throw it in the oven for an hour and a half. Bonus also, it makes your house smell amazing. Jamie had to leave for a little while while the stew was cooking, but when he got home, the first thing he commented on was how good our place smelled.

Jamie and I are going to be keeping a record of what dish was our favourite overall by the end of the year. We both agreed that this was the best dish yet.

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Sigh, just looking at this picture again makes my mouth water. Unfortunately though, I just finished up the leftovers a few hours ago. 😩

Caribbean Pepperpot Stew

Low calorie cooking spray
400g stewing beef, all visible fat removed, cut into bite-size pieces
2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
200g green beans, trimmed and halved
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp jerk seasoning
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Πtsp sweetener
200g passata with onions and garlic
200ml beef stock
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 160°C/140°C Fan/Gas 3. Place a medium, flameproof casserole dish sprayed with low calorie cooking spray over a high heat I just cooked the meat in a frying pan then added it to the casserole dish with the other ingredients). Add the beef and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

Add the peppers, sweet potato, beans, garlic, jerk seasoning, wine vinegar, sweetener, passata, stock and Worcestershire sauce. Season and stir well. Cover and cook for 1œ hours, or until the beef is meltingly tender.

Recipe courtesy of: http://www.slimmingworld.com/recipes/caribbean-pepperpot-stew.aspx

See, doesn’t that sound like a super easy recipe to make? Well, it is… so go make it. Seriously, anyone who has not tried this is missing out. Warning though for those, who like myself, are really wimpy when it comes to spicy foods, this is a spicy dish. My mouth was on fire while eating, but I couldn’t stop because it was just so dang good.

Alright, I really should be going to bed soon (it’s 12:54am, yes, I am a night owl for sure!). Because of only making dishes from two countries last week, my schedule got messed up. So this week I am trying to do five countries. Well, it’s Wednesday night (well technically Thursday morning now), and I have got 1/5 countries done. I’d say I’m doing pretty well 😛 These are going to be a busy next few days. Wish me good luck as I once again venture out to try new dishes. Next stop, Armenia.

In case you missed my last post on Argentina, in which I made a delicious, cheese-filled, onion topped pizza, check it out here. 7 countries down, 188 more to go!

Argentina: Fugazzeta

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As I mentioned in my previous post on Angola (check it out here), I skipped Antigua and Barbuda to cook something from Argentina first because I was making this to bring to an international dinner at my school. The food that I had picked out for Argentina, fugazzeta, was a better thing to be shared.

Fugazza is a popular Argentinian pizza which is topped with sweet onions. I, however, chose to make fugazzeta, which is a variation of fugazza. Fugazzeta is a double crusted version of fugazza which is stuffed with mozzarella between the two crusts, and still topped with sweet onions.

This pizza is absolutely amazing!! I loved it. This pizza does not have any pizza sauce on it, so I was wondering how this pizza would taste because of that. It was so delicious though. Possibly one of the best pizzas that I have ever had. The combination of the mozzarella stuffed crust and the parmesan and oregano on top made it a mouth-watering treat. No wonder it is a popular meal in Argentina.

I doubled the recipe in order to make two pizzas, but I ended up only having time to make one pizza before the dinner, so I have the extra pizza dough in my fridge. I will likely be making this again tomorrow. This was the first time that I had ever made a pizza crust before. It turned out very well. This recipe for pizza dough is a really good one. I’m saving this recipe for sure! Also, everyone who managed to get a slice of it at the dinner said that it was really delicious too!

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Fugazzeta

2 3/4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 onion
6-8 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1/3 cup grated aged provolone cheese (optional)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Parmesan cheese

Warm the milk to 100-105 degrees F, and place in a small bowl. Stir the sugar into the milk and sprinkle the yeast over. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, until mixture is bubbly.

Place the flour, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer and mix together briefly using the dough hook. Add the yeast/milk mixture and begin to knead, adding the water gradually. The mixture should come together as a soft, stretchy dough, pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Add a bit more flour if mixture is too wet, and add a bit more water if mixture seems dry, crumbly, or overly firm. Knead for 5-10 minutes, until dough is smooth, soft and elastic.

Oil a bowl with olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise until doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, peel and slice the onion into very thin strips. Place them in a bowl of cold salt water and soak for 30 minutes. Drain onions well and dry them with paper towels.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide dough into two pieces. Roll each half into a smooth ball. Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a 12-inch pizza pan or cast iron skillet. Place one ball of dough in the middle of the pan and flatten gently with your fingers. Let dough relax for 10 minutes.

Continue to flatten dough into the pan, flattening it and pushing it toward the sides of the pan, letting it relax in between, until dough covers the bottom of the pan. Oil the counter and roll the other piece of dough into a 12-inch circle, letting it relax in between until it holds its shape.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the slices of mozzarella cheese over the dough in the pan. Sprinkle the provolone over the mozzarella. Place the other round of dough over the cheese and seal the edges of the two dough circles together.

Top the pizza with the sliced onions. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over the onions, and sprinkle with the dried oregano and some Parmesan cheese.

Place the fugazzeta in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and crispy. Brown the onions under the broiler for the last 3 minutes of cooking if desired.

Remove from the oven. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting into slices to serve.

Recipe courtesy of: http://southamericanfood.about.com/od/maincourses/r/Fugazzeta-Stuffed-Argentinian-Style-Pizza.htm

Also, shout out to my mom who helped me make this pizza.

Well, next stop on my journey cooking my way around the world, Antigua and Barbuda. 6 countries down, 189 more to go.

Angola: Arroz de Cabidela and Funje

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Hello food lovers.

First off, sorry to have taken so long in between posts. It’s been a busy week for me…. so busy that I was only able to make dishes from two countries this week. I know, I’m a failure 😩 And so busy that I only have gotten a chance to post now, at the very end of the week… But, this week is my reading week, so I will have plenty of time to get caught up on my international cooking. In fact, I was thinking about this coming week; I have quite the full homework schedule lined up for myself. One of my main ways of procrastinating it to go and eat, whether I am hungry or not (bad habit, I know). So, this week will be perfect. Anytime I want to procrastinate from my work, I can go and make an international dish! Perfect!

This week, I made food from Angola and Argentina. Yes, if you are following along alphabetically, you will notice that I did skip Antigua and Barbuda.. I did that because I was scheduled to cook food from Antigua and Barbuda on Tuesday, but on Tuesday, my school was having an international dinner which I wanted to cook something for (pretty convenient eh?) I thought that the recipe that I had picked out for Argentina was more suitable for this international dinner than what I had picked out for Antigua and Barbuda, so I changed the order, with the intention to cook from Antigua and Barbuda on Thursday or Friday. (As I explained though, things got busy, so I never got around to Antigua and Barbuda this week).

Now, as for Angola, it just so happened that on Monday, I met and was chatting with a lady who had had two girls from Angola live with her and her family for a few years. I was asking her if she knew of any Angolan recipes that she could share with me. She then told me about possibly the strangest thing I have ever made; funje. While I was looking up the cuisine of Angola, I read that funje (or funge) is a common dish that is usually consumed at every meal in Angola. Because of its commonality, I decided that I should make it, even though I wanted to avoid it.

Funje is porridge type food made from cassava flour (also called yuca or manioc). It is gelatinous in consistency and grey in colour. Essentially, it is sticky, grey goo (not the most appetizing looking thing). After I made it and before we tried it, Jamie commented that it looked like snot. Thanks Jamie, as if I wasn’t already a little wary about trying it. On it’s own, funje was very bland; tasteless even, and very sticky. It is normally eaten not on its own, but with something else; chicken, rice, beans… But after the snot comment, one bite was enough for me.

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Funje

50g Cassava Flour

(If you cannot find cassava flour, you can also use tapioca starch because apparently they are the same thing. I ended up using tapioca starch because I could not find cassava flour)

150ml Water

Preheat oven to 180°C. Boil 50mL of water.

Pour cassava flour or tapioca starch into a container and mix it with 100mL of cold water. Beat the mixture until it is smooth and creamy.

Add the mixture to the boiled water, whisking to combine (it become very sticky here). Keep beating until the mixture becomes smooth, yellowish and a little transparent.

Place the mixture into the preheated oven for 20 minutes until the mixture has thickened to a dough-like consistency.

Recipe courtesy of: http://wakeupandeatglobal.weebly.com/angolan-breakfast.html

I decided that I should probably make something else Angolan to go along with the funje. So I made arroz de cabidela (essentially just rice and chicken). The recipe that I used called this dish that, but when I was looking up Angolan cuisine, it said that cabadela was usually a dish cooked in blood and then served with rice and funje. This dish was not cooked in blood though. So this dish might be more similar to arroz da Ilha which is a rice and chicken dish.

This dish was very tasty, and fairly basic to make too. The roasted red peppers gave it a good flavour.  I made it on Tuesday, and we still have leftovers in the fridge. It made a LOT of food. Actually, we have lots of leftovers in our fridge. I have nicknamed it “the international smorgasbord”.

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Arroz de Cabidela (or Arroz de Llha)

1 lb long -grain rice
2 lbs chicken pieces
4 Tomatoes
3 roasted red peppers, from a jar, chopped
(I couldn’t find a jar of roasted red peppers, so I just had to roast my own.)
2 medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups beef broth
1 cup white wine
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
7 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Heat half of the oil in deep skillet and add the chicken, brown on both sides, about 8 minutes per side.

Add salt, pepper, the cloves and the bay leaves. Add the wine, cover and to cook over low heat until chicken is tender, about 35 minutes. (If the chicken begins to dry, add just a little bit of water).

Heat the remaining oil in separate oven-proof saucepan, fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes on low heat. Add one of the peppers and the tomatoes, and to continue frying 10 minutes more. Incorporate the chicken and the broth, and when it begins to boil, to add the rice.

Cook ton high heat, uncovered, until rice is about half-way cooked, about 10 minutes approximately. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken, loosely covered, so that it finishes cooking approximately for 10 minutes.

Garnish with remaining peppers and serve hot.

Well there you have it everyone, another country down, only 190 to go. In case you missed my last post on Andorra, check it out here.

Andorra: Crema Catalana

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To be honest, I had to look up where Andorra was. It is not surprising though that I didn’t know where it was… it’s the tiny dot nestled in between Spain and France. Being so small, there is no distinct Andorran cuisine. Andorran cuisine is largely Catalan cuisine which is a Mediterranean cuisine which originates from Catalonia, Spain. There are some French influences on the cuisine of Andorra too though.

This weekend, Jamie and I are at my sister’s house for a birthday celebration. I have two sisters, and we all have our birthdays in January, so every year, we have a joint birthday celebration. We had plans to go out for dinner, so I thought that for Andorra, instead of making a main course meal, I would make a dessert for our birthdays.

I chose to make Crema Catalana, which is very similar to Creme Brulee.

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Creme Catalana

1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 stick cinnamon
grated rind of 1 lemon
2 cups milk

In a pot, beat together the egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar until thoroughly blended and the mixture turns frothy. Add the cinnamon stick and grated lemon rind. Pour in the milk and cornstarch. Slowly heat the mixture, stirring constantly, just until thickened. Remove pot from heat immediately.

Tip: As soon as the mixture thickens and you feel resistance while stirring, remove the pot from the heat or the mixture may curdle or separate! The texture of the finished crema will be grainy instead of smooth and creamy as it should be.

Remove the cinnamon stick and ladle the milk mixture into 4-6 ramekins (depending on size). Allow to cool, then refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.

Before serving, preheat the broiler. Remove ramekins with the crema catalana from refrigerator and sprinkle the rest of the sugar over each ramekin. When broiler is hot, place the ramekins under the broiler on the top shelf and allow the sugar to caramelize, turning gold and brown. This may take 10 minutes or so, depending on your broiler. Remove and serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of: http://spanishfood.about.com/od/dessertssweets/r/cremacatalanar.htm

(Also, I only had four ramekins, but there were six of us, so I used my punch glasses instead. It worked. But it wouldn’t work to put these under the broiler, so we used my brother in laws welding torch. Worked quite well actually).

For being so “fancy” of a dessert, it was actually really easy to make. I’m definitely saving this recipe to pull out sometime I need to impress some dinner guests.

Next stop on my journey cooking my way around the world, Angola. (In case you missed my last post about Algeria, check it out here).

(Sorry for the relatively short post tonight… but it is 2:50am and I am quite tired. Goodnight fellow cooking enthusiasts).

Algeria: Shakshouka

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On Friday I ventured to the north-west corner of Africa; to Algeria. Algerian cuisine is a distinct fusion of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. It is this mix that has contributed to the unique culinary delights that are found throughout the country. It is an eclectic mix of flavours, smells, and textures. Common foods from Algeria include khabz, a flatbread served with every meal, mergeuz, a spicy lamb sausage, berber couscous, and shakshouka. I choose to make shakshouka.

Shakshouka is a dish of poached eggs in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, and onions.

Eggs and I have had a very hot and cold relationship. As a child, I really liked eggs. It was always great to get some scrambled eggs for breakfast. But then as I grew, so did my indifference towards eggs. I eventually came to the point where I no longer liked them. Then, last year, eggs and I had a fling. I went through a period of about a month where I really liked eggs again, especially scrambled with relish in them. But I think that I had a little too much and made myself not like them again. Shakshouka sounded like a fairly easy and quick dish to make though, so I thought “Hey, what the heck, If I don’t like it, Jamie will eat it up for me.”

Shakshouka turned out to be incredibly delicious. Tomatoes have always been a personal favourite of mine, and since they are a main part of this dish, it made me love it all the more. I love the versatility of this dish. You can choose whether you want to make it sweet or spicy. To make it sweet, you add more sugar, and to make it spicy, you add more cayenne pepper. Also, this dish is quite visually appealing. If you wanted to add more colour you could add green or yellow peppers instead of red ones.

I’m certainly saving the recipe for this dish. It’s a keeper. It is versatile as it can be served for any meal. We ate it for dinner, but it can be a breakfast or a lunch food. Here’s the recipe.

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1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium brown or white onion, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped
4 cups ripe diced tomatoes, or 2 cans (14 oz. each) diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp chili powder (mild)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper (or more to taste– spicy!)
Pinch of sugar (optional, to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
5-6 eggs
1/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)

Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium. Slowly warm olive oil in the pan. Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add garlic and continue to sauté till mixture is fragrant.

Add the bell pepper, sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium until softened.

Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan, stir till blended. Add spices and sugar, stir well, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes till it starts to reduce. At this point, you can taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences. Add salt and pepper to taste, more sugar for a sweeter sauce, or more cayenne pepper for a spicier shakshuka

Crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce.

Cover the pan. Allow mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced. Keep an eye on the skillet to make sure that the sauce doesn’t reduce too much, which can lead to burning.

Garnish with the chopped parsley, if desired.

Recipe courtesy of: http://theshiksa.com/2010/07/28/summer-2010-travel-blog-shakshuka/

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So far, my jaunt around the world has been a successful one. I’m enjoying trying all of these new dishes and new ways of making food. It is also a great chance to learn more about other cultures. Next stop, Andorra. (In case you missed the last one, check out Albania here.

Albania: Stuffed Peppers & Tomato and Cucumber Salad

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Last night I traveled to Albania to have a taste of their cuisine. Albanian cuisine is Mediterranean and is influenced by the flavours of Greek, Italian, and Turkish cuisine. I was extremely looking forward to making something from Albania because I love Mediterranean food, particularly Greek food. Being a fertile area with a variety of vegetables grown there, my two dishes were mainly vegetable dishes. No meat for Jamie last night. He survived though.

A common appetizer or vegetable dish in Albania is a stuffed pepper. Usually stuffed with rice and an array of vegetables (and sometimes meat). I opted out of the meat last night though and made peppers stuffed with rice, tomatoes, onions, and delicious Mediterranean spices.

I decided to get a little crazy last night and make two dishes (mostly because every option looked so good and I couldn’t choose just one). So for my second dish I made a tomato and cucumber salad. But there was more in it than just that. There were tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, green peppers, olive oil, and feta cheese. The recipe also called for olives, but I opted out of those because neither Jamie nor I like olives. This salad was absolutely AMAZING! I woke up this morning looking forward to getting to eat the leftover salad for lunch. It’s a new favourite of mine.

I could go on and on for a while about how amazing each of these dishes were (particularly the salad), but I’ve got a lot of homework to get through today, so I’m going to keep this short… so here are the recipes.

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4 peppers

2 tomatoes

4 onions

2 cups rice (raw)

1/2 cup oil

4 cups water

salt, parsley, oregano, paprika

Saute onions in oil and a small amount of water until tender. Add remaining water, rice and seasonings. Boil this mixture until rice is parcooked.

Clean peppers and scoop out pulp of tomatoes. Add tomato pulp to rice mixture. Fill peppers and tomatoes; spread remaining rice mixture in a 9×13 inch pan adding an additional 2 cups of warm water. Place peppers and tomatoes on top of mixture and bake at 350° for 30 to 45 minutes.

Turn peppers once.

Recipe courtesy of: http://www.tastebook.com/recipes/1501630-Stuffed-Peppers?full_recipe=true

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Tomato and Cucumber Salad

2 -3 Tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, sliced and quartered
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, diced
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 cup feta cheese
Combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and peppers in a mixing bowl and toss.
Drizzle the olive oil over the salad and season with salt to taste. Garnish with olives and cheese.
All together, it was an amazing, vegetable packed meal. Image
Next stop on this journey cooking my way around the world is Algeria. And in case you missed the last country, check out my adventure in Afghanistan here.