Bahrain: Tabbouleh

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As you might have seen in my last post on The Bahamas, for which I made Bahamian grilled fish (check that out here), I also made Tabbouleh from Bahrain to go with the fish. Here is a picture of that meal.

 

I had a hard time finding a meal to make for Bahrain. To find out what a country’s typical foods are, I usually search it out on Wikipedia. Most pages are very  helpful and list many foods from that country… but the page for Bahraini Cuisine was quite lacking. This page only listed about five (or less) typical meals from Bahrain. And each of the ones that I searched for, I could not find a recipe for. Thankfully Google search brought me to a recipe called tabbouleh. Technically, tabbouleh did not originate from Bahrain, but it is quite popular there. Tabbouleh is popular throughout many Arab countries including Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Palestine.

Tabbouleh is a salad which consists mainly of tomato, cucumber, parsley, and bulgur, which is “is a cereal food made from the groats of several different wheat species, most often from durum wheat” (thanks for defining that for me Wikipedia). I was able to find bulgur in the organic section of Zehrs.

I’m going to be very honest. Do not make this salad! Well, do not make this salad unless you can handle excessive amounts of parsley. This version of tabbouleh called for 2 cups of parsley for 4-6 servings. Basically this version puts parsley in as if it was lettuce. Actually, some countries version of tabbouleh uses lettuce instead of parsley. Both Jamie and I could only eat a few bites of this salad. We just couldn’t handle the amount of parsley in there. I suppose if you were going to try this salad, I would advise trying to find a version which uses lettuce instead of parsley.

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1/2 cup fine bulgur
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup boiling-hot water
2 cups finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (from 3 bunches)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 seedless cucumber*, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Stir together bulgur and 1 tablespoon oil in a heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over, then cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand 15 minutes. Drain in a sieve, pressing on bulgur to remove any excess liquid.

Transfer bulgur to a bowl and toss with remaining ingredients, including 2 tablespoons oil, until combined well.

Recipe courtesy of; http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Lebanese-Tabbouleh-106589

So yeah, I now have almost a full bag of bulgur leftover. Does anyone know any other recipes that use bulgur? That now makes 13 countries down, 182 more to go. Thanks for checking out my adventure cooking my way around the world.

 

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Colombia, May 2014!!

Hey everyone!!

I have really exciting news for you (well, I don’t actually know if you will get excited about this, but I certainly am!)

Jamie and I are going to be going to Medellin, Colombia in May for a mission trip with FEB International. We will be there for 24 days altogether. While down there, we will be working with a group of churches called the El Redil churches. We will be involved in teaching English, leading Bible studies, running a children’s program, and potentially working in a home for disabled children or volunteering at a ministry for pregnant teenagers.

We are so excited for this opportunity to go down. I am particularly excited about this opportunity because I was down in Colombia in 2012 for six weeks through my program at my college. I can not wait to return and to reconnect with my friends and with those same churches.

With all this being said, I will be taking a short break from The Recipe Passport cooking while down there. I decided that I will just be taking the whole month of May off. We leave the 3rd and return on the 28th, so the few days before and after will probably be spent preparing for the trip and re-cooperating from the trip. So, now my ‘year’ of cooking will be extended until March 5, 2015 instead of February 2, 2015. (Yes I did the math. Feb. 2, 2014-Mar. 5, 2015= 396 days. Then 396-31 (days in May)=365 days!!)

I thought that I would let you all know about this so that come May you do not think that I dropped off the face of the planet. While down there, I will probably be writing updates to my friends and family, and I might even pop on here once of twice to say hi and update you on our adventures. And because this is a cooking/food blog, I was going to keep you updated on any interesting ethnic food that we experience while in Colombia. As I said in my “About” post (check that out here), last time in Colombia I had the WORST soup ever. It was called mondongo and is made from a cow’s stomach… enough said.

Sweet, thanks everyone! Let me know if you have any questions about this trip or if you have any suggestions of food to try while down there or anything that you want me to search out!

Oh hey! It’s me in Colombia in 2012!

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Bahamas: Bahamian Grilled Fish

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This post might just make my mother faint… I actually made fish. I am not a fish person… I’m not really a ‘anything from the sea’ person. I prefer to stick with food that lives on dry land. (I remember one time as a child, my mom made fish for dinner and said I couldn’t leave the table until I ate it, I think I sat there stubbornly for a few hours, refusing to eat the fish). Jamie however, really likes fish, but I never make it. I decided that maybe, seeing as a big part of Bahamian cuisine is fish, that I should give it a go. This is the true heart of why I am doing this; to venture out from my fears of strange foods to try new things. So, I decided to make fish.

(My last time, and the first time in years, eating fish was when I Imagewas in Colombia in 2012 on a mission trip. We went to an island on our day off. They prepared food for us, and lo and behold, the food was a whole fish. I was starving though, so I actually ate it. I did however douse it in lime to try to counteract the fishy taste. Here I am bravely eating my fish).

To learn about my new, exciting news regarding Colombia, check it out here.

Actually, I was going to be really adventurous. The plan was to make conch fritters (you know, like with meat from a conch shell). I was all gun hoe to do this, but I couldn’t find conch meat ANYWHERE. I grew up in a small village of about 1,000 people. When I lived there, it as almost a daily occurrence that our tiny, local grocery store did not always have what I was looking for. But now I live in a city of 133,000. I thought that my chances of finding this were substantially better. But to no avail. Jamie and I literally went to four different grocery stores/meat shops looking for this, but it was no where. I should have clued in to the fact that I wouldn’t be able to find it when the person who works solely in the fish department in Zehrs didn’t even know what conch meat was. That should have been a pretty good indicator, but I was determined. We searched high and low, and checked out many international food sections. There was plenty of other weird fish type things, but no conch meat… so I had to change my plan. That is when I decided to make Bahamian grilled fish.

The recipe that I used listed a few different kinds of fish that you could use for this recipe (striped bass, sea bass, bluefish, and mahi mahi). My lack of luck continued however when I was unable to find any of these types of fish. I did however find basa, which, with my lack of knowledge of fish, I thought might be similar to bass, so I got it. Jamie laughed at my reasoning behind that.

While I was checking out of the grocery store, the cashier asked me if I was going to have to force anyone to eat that fish, and I said “nope, just myself”. I explained that Jamie loves fish, but I don’t so I never cook it for him so I felt bad about that. It was going to be a struggle for me to eat that fish.

I would say for making fish for the VERY first time that it went quite well. I had no idea how to tell if it was done or not. I think I over cooked it a little because while I was trying to flip it, it would just fall apart. I didn’t want Jamie’s help though because I wanted to try this one all on my own.

ImageI took this picture to show how reluctant I was to try the fish. That is Jamie’s portion compared to my own. (The salad on our plates is called Tabouleh, which I made for Bahrain. Check that post out here).

What was the verdict you may ask. I actually kind of liked it (if my mother hasn’t fainted yet, that just might have made her faint). For this recipe, the fish marinates for about an hour before being cooked. The marinade actually was really yummy and covered up any fishy taste. I ate my whole serving (even though I know that’s not a lot). Jamie liked it too, but that is not as amazing as me liking it 😛

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Bahamian Grilled Fish

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
4 fish fillets, 6-8 ounces each
salt
black pepper

Combine oil, garlic, lime juice, ginger, and scotch bonnet in a non-reactive bowl. Add fish and turn to coat well. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

Remove fish from marinade and scrape off most of the garlic and ginger pieces. Season with salt and pepper and grill about 3 minutes on each side, or until fish is nicely browned and just cooked through.

Recipe courtesy of; http://www.food.com/recipe/bahamian-grilled-fish-372932

Well, that is probably the most adventurous thing that I have tried so far. I am still disappointed that I wasn’t able to make conch fritters though. In case you ever want to, I discovered later that you can buy conch meat off of amazon. 45 ounces for $35. I’m not quite sure how I feel about buying meat off of Amazon. Seems a little sketchy. For the conch fritters recipe, click here.

Oh no, I know this has nothing to do with The Bahamas, but I just looked outside and it’s snowing. Ugh, Canada. Someone please tell the weather that Spring started five days ago!

Anyways, that’s my latest cooking around the world adventure. To check out my last post on Azerbaijan, check that out here. 12 countries down, 183 more to go.

Azerbaijan: Beef Plov

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Now, off to a country I have a very hard time pronouncing; Azerbaijan. Jamie had to keep correcting my when I said ‘Azerbaijan’ or ‘Azerbaijani cuisine’ because I kept saying it wrong 😛

Over the years, Azerbaijani cuisine has been influenced by other cultures, while at the same time, staying unique and distinctive. Azerbaijan apparently has nine out of the eleven climates of the world. This results in a rich selection of food that is available to be grown. It is well known for the abundance of vegetables that are grown. Also, being on the Caspian sea, fish is a large part of the cuisine of this country. One of the most popular main course dishes is soup. Another popular dish is plov (similar to pilaf) which is a rice cooked in a seasoned broth. They have over thirty different soup recipes and over forty different plov recipes. Kebabs are also popular there, made from varying kinds of meat.

There were clearly many options of food to make from Azerbaijan, but I choose to make beef plov (partly because I had stewing meat left over from making Caribbean pepperpot stew from Anituga and Barbuda. Check that out here).

This was a very tasty dish. We both approved of it. One nice thing about it, is that this recipe makes a lot, it is filling, and it is so easy to reheat. I love any meal where we can have leftovers. Ha, since being married to Jamie (since December 2012), I have really come to realize how much guys can eat. I would often make a meal expecting that it would be enough for that meal plus leftovers, but often times, there would be no leftovers. That man can eat!

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Beef Plov

1 1/2 lbs Beef chuck or beef sirloin
1/3 cup canola oil, or extra light olive oil (not extra virgin)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks or grated
1 tsp salt for the meat and veggies + 1 1/2 tsp salt for the rice
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
3-4 bay leaves
1 3/4 cups hot water for braising meat
3 cups long grain rice (Basmati or Jasmin rice work great!)
4 cups hot water when cooking rice
1 head of garlic
1 tsp ground coriander

Trim beef of excess fat and sinews (aka the chewy stuff), pat the meat dry with a paper towel and chop into ½” to ¾” pieces.

Preheat your dutch oven (or your large soup pot with a heavy bottom), to high heat. Once it’s hot, stir in your ⅓ cup canola oil. Once oil is hot, add chopped meat and saute uncovered 7 min over high heat until meat is browned, stirring every minute or so so it doesn’t scorch to the bottom of the pan.

Reduce heat to medium and Add chopped onion, stirring often until onion is softened (5 minutes). Stir in sliced carrots, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp cumin, 3-4 bay leaves and continue to cook over medium heat 5 minutes until carrots are softened.

Add 1¾ cups hot water, cover and simmer over medium/low heat 45 min or until meat is tender.

Meanwhile, rinse rice until water runs clear, then drain and set aside (this gets rid of the starch so you won’t end up with a sticky rice).
Spread rice over the meat and add 4 cups hot water. Sprinkle the rice with 1½ tsp salt (DO NOT STIR), bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and Let cook uncovered until most of the water is absorbed (10 min).

Cut off the head of your garlic to expose the cloves. Put your head of garlic, cut side down into the center of the rice and sprinkle the top of the rice with 1 tsp ground coriander.

Poke 7-10 holes through the rice to allow steam to escape to the surface, reduce the heat to low then cover and cook an additional 15 minutes or until rice is cooked through. Remove the garlic head and bay leaves and stir everything gently to combine and you’re done.

Recipe courtesy of: natashaskitchen.com/2013/05/15/beef-plov-beef-rice-pilaf-recipe/

Hmm, that was a rather short post, I guess I don’t have too much to say about this dish. It was good… try it out sometime. That’s about it.

That makes 12 countries down, 183 more to go. Oh boy! If you missed my last post on Austria for which I made apple strudel, check it out here.

Austria: Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel)

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Well Ladies and Gents, we ventured up from Australia to Austria. I suppose that I had a sweet tooth, because I decided to make another dessert for this country too. What dessert you ask, well, none other than the most popular pastry in Austria, Apfelstrudel (German) or Apple Strudel.

A bit of history on apple strudel for you just because I can. Apparently the oldest surviving recipe for apple strudel is from 1696 and it is housed at the Vienna Library at City Hall. ‘Strudel’ is a German word meaning ‘whirlpool’ or ‘eddy’, I’m guessing because you have to roll up the pastry…(?) The strudel gained popularity in the 18th century throughout the Habsburg Empire (1278–1780). Strudel is related to the pastry baklava from the Ottoman Empire, and came to Austria via Turkish to Hungarian and then Hungarian to Austrian cuisine. Though it is often considered an Austria dessert, it technically is from the Austro-Hungarian empire. Now, apple strudel is extremely popular in Austria and is considered to be the national dish of the country alongside wiener schnitzel (thin, breaded, and deep fried veal) and tafelspitz (boiled beef in broth).

This was my first time ever making apple strudel and it may or may not have turned out not so great. This was my fault. For apple strudel, you have to make the dough and then let it sit for a while so that it is able to be stretched very thin. I was able to stretch my dough to the recommended size (2 by 3 feet) but this is where I messed up. I laid the dough on the table and got ready to add the filling. I realized quite quickly that I did not have enough bread crumbs, so I asked Jamie to run out and grab some more for me. By the time he got home, my dough, being so thin, had dried and began to flake and break as I tried to roll up the strudel. I eventually, with MUCH frustration, got it rolled up relatively well and got it in the oven. It was edible and tasted fine, but it was definitely not the prettiest thing. (I’ll add a picture of it, even though I’m quite embarrassed to, but hey, everyone messes up a recipe sometimes).

Well, here’s the beauty. Doesn’t really look as nice as the one in the recipe(guess which one’s mine). It’s kind of just a mash of apples, dough, and crumbs.

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Apple Strudel

For the Strudel
2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum (or use apple juice)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe below)
1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)

For the Strudel dough
1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

For dough

Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.

Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle

Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it’s about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time.

For filling

Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.

Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs.

Spread the walnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts.

Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. (NOTE: I did not have a tablecloth, but I can see how much easier it would have been)

Place on pan in a curved horseshoe shape and brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

Bake for about 30 minutes until it is golden brown.

Recipe courtesy of: http://chefinyou.com/2009/05/austrian-apple-strudel/

Yes, I know that it looks intimidating because of all of the instructions, but really, it isn’t that hard. Just have the filling ready for right once your dough is stretched, or else it might dry out like mine did. Now, as for our opinions, we both liked it alright, but we both thought that there were too many bread crumbs. If I were to make it again, I would definitely reduce the amount.

Well there you have it, a delicious dessert right from the Alps. Enjoy.

That now makes 11 countries down, 184 left to go. We’re getting there (slowly!). Hope you enjoy following along with me as I cook my way around the world.

If you missed my last post on Australia, check it out here.

Australia: Pavlova

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So, it has taken me a long time to write this post about the delightful dessert called Pavlova. I actually tried to make this recipe a little while ago and I totally messed it up. Whoops. So I decided to give it another go. This time, it turned out so well!

Pavlova is a dessert which is a meringue shell upon which you fill with whipped cream and fruit. It is extremely delicious, and also very easy to make (which sounds ironic because I totally messed it up the first time..) The trick to pavlova, to get the meringue just right, is to beat the egg whites until they start to form stiff peaks. To be honest, I had never beat egg whites that much before, so I didn’t even know that they could reach that consistency. I used a different recipe the second time, hoping that maybe it was the recipe’s fault and not my own that my first attempt was a flop. 😉

Now, before this, the only meringue that I had had was the meringue on top of lemon meringue pie. This is quite different. That meringue is all soft, but this meringue, because it is baked for an hour and fifteen minutes, forms a hard shell. This shell cracks, A LOT. The recipe said that while it is cooling, it would crack, mine didn’t though. It didn’t crack until I tried to move it from the pan to the serving plate. It was so beautiful before I began to move it. I wish that I had taken a picture of it to show you how nice it looked. I guess you’ll just have to take my word form it. Now, inside the hard shell is a light, fluffy meringue. It is so sweet, and so delicious with the whipped cream and fruit. Yummy! It was quite a lot for just the two of us… but I’m not complaining. Now we get to eat the leftovers for the next few days to come! 🙂

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Oh yeah, I almost forgot. This dessert has kind of a funny reason behind its name. As some of you might have clued in, Pavlova is the last name of Anna Pavlova, the Russian prima ballerina (1881-1931). This dessert was created and named in honour of Anna Pavlova while she was on a tour in Australia and New Zealand. This dessert is named Pavlova, because she danced “as light as air” in reference to the light meringue. I thought that was a cute little fact. Pavlova is now considered to be one of Australia’s national foods.

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Pavlova

4 large egg whites at room temperature
1 cup of Castor sugar, also known as “Berry sugar”
1 tsp of white vinegar
1/2 Tbsp of cornstarch
1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
1/2 cups of whipping cream
Fresh fruit
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 275F (140C) and place the rack in middle of the oven. Line a baking tray with foil and draw a 7 inch circle on the foil with the blunt edge of a knife (don’t tear the foil). Set aside.
In a clean, medium-sized metal bowl, beat the egg whites with a clean electric mixer on medium speed. Beat until the whites form soft peaks.

Gently sprinkle the sugar into the egg whites, one teaspoon at a time. Don’t just lump the sugar in the bowl and never stop beating the eggs until you finish the sugar. Your egg whites should now be glossy stiff peaks.

Sprinkle the cornstarch and vinegar on the meringue and fold in gently with a plastic spatula. Add the vanilla and gently fold the mixture again.

Now gently spread the meringue in the circle on the foil to make a circular base. Make sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher then the center so you have a very slight well in the middle.

Bake the meringue for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it goes a very pale, pinkish egg shell color.
Turn the oven off and leave the door slightly ajar to let the meringue cool completely. As the meringue cools, it will crack slightly.

Just before serving, take the meringue out of the oven and remove it gently from the foil and place on a plate.

Whip the cream with the vanilla extract until it forms peaks. Prepare the fruit by washing and slicing.

Gently spread the cream to the top of the meringue with a spatula and arrange the fruit on top.

Recipe courtesy of: http://australianfood.about.com/od/bakingdesserts/r/Pavlova.htm

This recipe is definitely a keeper. It is so delicious! Jamie and I both really liked it.

Oh, I forgot to mention to you all. When I posted on Facebook that I was going to be making food from Australia, my friend who lived there for a year asked if I was going to be making kangaroo. At first I just laughed it off, but then I go to thinking, Hey, why kanga_roonot. I had actually seen a store in my city advertising unique meats like kangaroo and emu. I sent Jamie there on a mission to pick some up for me, but unfortunately the place is just a restaurant that sometimes features unique meats. So sadly, no kanga and roo for us. (Ps- it took me YEARS as a child to figure out that kanga and roo from Winnie the Pooh together made up the word kangaroo. I was a bright one!)

Well, that now makes 10 countries down, 185 left to go. If you missed my last post on Armenia, check it out here. I hope that you will continue to journey with me on my adventure cooking my way around the world.