Tag Archives: #9 World Peace

Episode #9: The culinary pursuit of world peace

15 Jan

The pursuit of world peace through the cultural blending of cuisines from different regions really put culinary skills to the test. This was a theme and a challenge I was trying to avoid because of my perceived lack of creativity in possibly turning out a dish that anyone could bring themselves to taste let alone enjoy.  In the end, this was an evening filled with one fused culinary surprise after another.  It was an explosion of flavors  in your mouth that you wouldn’t necessarily think would work together but we made it happen and had a great time attempting to create  a palate of world peace.

Joanna was first up with snacks and drinks.  Here’s how she pulled it together.

World peace, at last! I waited a long time for world peace.  Well, I have to say, it looked a bit more like world anarchy on my counter Saturday morning.  Dried galangal, saffron, chickpeas, coriander seed, mint, lemongrass, banana leaves…a whole aresenal of spices.  Could these all make sense somehow?

I was assigned snacks and cocktails that were to feature the cuisine of Afghani and Thai.  Out of all the cuisines assigned, these two were located not too far from each other.  There were definitely some common denominators.  The biggest challenge for me in this was making small bites.  I usually do well with bigger portions and I felt that snacks ruled alot out.  I wanted something fun to eat as well.  Honestly, even two days before the big event, I still didn’t know what I was going to make but then it all came together.

I have never eaten at an Afghani restaurant and had no familiarity with Afghani food.  I assumed there must be some middle eastern influences.   Through some internet research, I found a cuisine very meat heavy, typical middle eastern spices and rice seemed to be very important in their dishes. Lots of Indian influences but not much Thai. I kept seeing recipes for a type of Afghani dumpling but thought it too heavy for a snack.  Then I saw the meatballs, kofta.  Kofta are a very common start to the meal in Afghani cuisine.  Perfect.  I decide to use ground lamb, as lamb is very common.  Usually the kofta are served with a tomato based sauce.  I instantly thought of thai red curry.

Thai cuisine is something more familiar for me.  I have made curries in the past and was very familiar with the flavor profiles in Thai cuisine.  I really had no idea how a red cocomut curry sauce would pair with a meatball though.  I made the paste on a Friday night to allow time for the flavors to develop a bit.  I used shallot, garlic, dried galangal, fresh ginger, a bit of fresh tumeric root, grated kaffir lime rind, lemongrass and of course rehydrated thai red bird chiles.  To obtain the perfect blend I mixed all the ingredients in a food processor then threw them in a jar to do their thing.

The next day I made the meatballs and fried them up.  I came up with my own recipe after reading through several on the internet.  I used lots of freshly toasted & ground coriander seeds and lots of fresh coriander as well.  I found a kofta spice packet at Kalustyans market and put some of that in the mix as well.  The end result was some tasty balls.

I fried up some onions in another pan then added my curry paste frying it for a little bit before I added some coconut milk.  I adjusted the sesoning a bit and left it to simmer.  I dipped one of the balls into the curry, nervous that the flavors would be so off together, but they married wonderfully! World peace right in the pot!!

To serve, I used a banana leaf on a plate to represent Thailand.  I put the meatballs into the curry sauce and placed them on the banana leaf.  I drizzled some sauce on top and served them with long toothpicks to resemble kabobs representative of Afghanistan.   I garnished with a little fresh coriander which can be found in both cuisines.

I felt meatballs and sauce were a bit lackluster and perhaps not enough for a snack.  I remember a while back seeing a recipe for fried chickpeas that I always wanted to try.  Chickpeas are a staple in all middle eastern cultures.  I had some chickpeas in the  cabinet so I soaked  them on Friday night.  The next day I cooked them up a bit, dried them very well and then roasted them in the oven for about 35 minutes.  After that, I placed them in  a hot pan with oil for a quick fry.  I added a spice mixture of thai spices, lemongrass, and the kofta seasoning packet I had. It needed a bit of sweetness so I added sugar and salt.  They crisped up perfectly and tasted delicious.

Now for the cocktail. This was a big challenge.  I thought of thai iced tea and looked up Afghani teas.  I decided to do a riff on a fusion of the two.  It ended up being more like an Indian chai tea, I think but that’s ok.  I combined Assam tea and steeped it in boiling water with cinnamon sticks, star anise, clove, peppercorns, green cardamon & sliced fresh ginger.  Much to my dismay, all of the recipes for thai iced tea called for sweetened, condensed milk.  This is something I never use, for me it falls into the ‘bad’ food category with things like corn syrup and crisco.  I was shocked to even find it in whole foods so I painfully bought it and when I added it to the tea mixture it was delicious! It was very sweet, so I only added a little honey.  On site at the FMC, I added vodka and served the drink shaken over ice. I floated a star anise on top because it finished off the drink beautifully.    I was surprised at how well the chai tea cocktail went with the meatballs.

I also made a salty yogurt drink very typical in Afghani cuisine.  It’s called dough.  It’s supposed to cool down the heat of the food or the heat of your body.  Well, it was kind of warm that winter day at around 50 degrees….not really the heat they have in Afghanistan but I decided it would be fun to try.  On site, I mixed together plain yogurt, water, cucumber, mint, and salt.  Mixed it up and served.   I wanted to float mint leaves on top but I was happy just to get my meatballs out and served with the cocktails!  I arrived to the FMC, later than I wanted, to a kitchen full of busy and hungry prepping chefs.  I was happy just to be able to quickly feed them..

Next up appetizer…..compliments of our visiting French chef Laurent

Laurent combined the cuisines of Morocco and Germany.  After  two days of  intense  research on the internet, Laurent came up with the idea to prepare a famous Moroccan appetizer “Briouates au poulet safrane” (samosa with saffron chicken) placing this mixture in a traditional German strudel that is nothing more than a puff pastry.

From a historical standpoint, the strudel is an Austrian pastry whose origin is from the Orient, and imported into the Danube after the Byzantine conquest of 1453 but used so much in German cooking that it became a specialty from this country.  The most famous is the “Apfelstrudel” made with apples and served with whipped creame.  It was recenty immortalized in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds with the now famous replica of Christopher Waltz, “wait for the cream!”  The strudel can also be prepared as a savoury dish prepared in Germany as a main course with ground beef (Fleischstrudel) or with vegetables (Gemusestrudel).

Laurent prepared two sauces one reflective of a typical moroccan sauce with mint and coriander in an olive oil base and a German beer sauce.  The beer sauce was essentially a beurre blanc sauce substituting  beer for the wine,  For the paired drink, same idea, a German beer and a soft drink from Morroco called “Assir mehlabat” which is basically a milky drink with almonds and avocado.

 Joanna and Laurant

Moving onto our next course: Soupe Aztec combing ingredients from Mexico and France.

Nina prepared her soup with chiles ancho and chipotles, lime, and a nice tomato base.  The soup was served with minced  avocado and toasted crisp chiles. Instead of queso fresco; creme fraiche and small cubes of french cheese.  A warm crisp baguette replaced warm tortillas.  This fabulous soup was paired with an amazing Sausa tequila anejo

Delicious!

Our first main course involved a second run in between Greece and China.   The first being China’s financial bail out of Greece [inside joke;) ].  You can just imagine the peacemaking going on here.

David negotiated an agreement between the two countries, using Greek ingredients but incorporating Chinese cooking techniques.

First: the Chinese tea egg:

David Added a twist to the featured Chinese tea egg, as it appeared in the January issue of Saveur Magazine (how convenient; thank you).  The twist, was to substitute Greek ingredients in the marinade: Greek coffee for the Chinese tea, anchovy for the soy sauce, ouzo for the anise, plus some sugar, salt, balsalmic, smoke, cinnamon and  cayenne.

This was served alongside stir-fried rosemary lamb, eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, red pepper, onion, fresh oregano with a garnish of super-firm tofu cubes,

along with a side of orzo, lemon zest, olives, parsley, and feta cheese cubes packed in a mini Chinese take-out container — blue, like the Greek flag.

Our first main course was served with a glass of ouzo.

We transitioned into the next main course via an amuse bouche provided by  Kiri’s thoughtful culinary fusion between Italy and Tanzania.

The century-old conflict between Tanzania and Italy was resolved amicably under a micro-pizza palm tree. Chapatti dough (homage to simple breads and strong Indian influence in Tanzanian cooking) with added cumin and cardamon (for the Zanzibar spice route) topped with combined tropical (banana and coconut) and Italian (goat’s cheese, pinenuts and pepperdew) with Italian coconuts….

this tropical delight was paired with an Italian Prosecco, garnished with a “chicken’s foot” candy corn, and tanzanian (jelly) beans

PJ was up with our second main course transversing the globe to Spain and Iran she prepared a Spanish paella incorporating the flavors of orange and figs representative of  Iran. More details to follow

paired with a Spanish Rioja

My salad and/or side was to combine the cuisines of Korea and Britain.

I chose to take a familiar dish with different references in Britian, Scotland, and Ireland.  The British reference the dish as Bubble and Squeak, the Scotish as Rumbledethumps, and the Irish as Colcannon. The dish is a side of potatoes that are mashed and mixed with LOTS of butter and warm milk with the final addition of  cabbage (the Irish version).

I chose to follow the recipe substituting the cabbage with my own homemade Kimchi.  I then created a dumpling filled with the colcannon/kimchi mixture.

All of this was served over a english cucumber cilantro salad dressed with rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, chili pepper flake dressing and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. The final result…..

Paired with a Scotish IPA mixed with a shot of Korean Soju

Guy prepared our next main course representative of India and Norway…….

Meatballs with toasted almonds and cardamon.  Hopefully, more details to follow in regards to the sauce. Paired with Four Vines Zinfandel.

Our last main course hailed from Japan and Jamaica prepared by Cassie.  Cassie prepared a plantain pancake topped with pan seared tuna marinated in a Jamaican rub.  (hopefully, further details on the rub to follow)


Paired with a bottle of Saki

and finally………desert combining the flavors of Europe and the food delivery system of Ethiopia

After an extensive google search, it turns out that deserts don’t seem to exist in Ethiopia.  Marc opted to utilize the fruit that  most eastern Europeans can come by; the apple.  He prepared crepes that were utilized as a tool to scoop up the apple crumble enabling you to enjoy your desert utilizing your hands as flatware.

1/7/12 Episode #9 photos up… need descriptions

9 Jan

Thank you everyone… what a meal.  Very impressive showing.  Here’s how the recap is gonna work… you’ve got 2 options; either post here yourselves, describing your dish; inspiration, ingredient sourcing, pairing, etc.  You can poach as many photos as you like from this gallery

or, if you’re not so tech-savy to post here yourself, then…

Email me or Francine the text, and she or I will illustrate with photos and post.

Thank you Nina & Marc for already emailing your descriptions… I’m guessing from the cab ride home, at 1:47am sunday(?)!!!  And thank you to Laurant & Francine for graciously sharing photographer duties.

Peace out

01/07/12 Episode #9 theme and assignments:

28 Dec

Well, voting in the poll yielded a tie between “World Peace”, and “Foods We Feel Sorry For”.  Placing the two themes in a hat, and asking the lovely (and impartial) SarahL to do the drawing after work, I’m excited to announce that the theme for Episode #9 will be….

All we are saying...

“World peace:  Various regional cuisines are written on cards and placed in a hat, then for each course, two are drawn which must be combined to inspire one dish.”

That meant we had a lot more drawing to do: Ten names to assign the course sequence, and then twenty Countries/Regions to match up as the inspiration for each course.  After an exhausting session of post-it notes and a hat, here’s what we’ve got:

  • Thai + Afghani: Prep-time Snacks and Cocktails – JoannaM
  • Morrocan + German: Appetizer – LaurantL
  • French + Mexican:  Soup – NinaG
  • Chinese + Greek:  Main #1 – JDavid
  • Italian + Tanzanian:  Amuse Bouche – KiriM
  • Iranian + Spanish:  Main #2 – PJ
  • British + Korean:  Side / Salad – Francine
  • Indian + Norwegian:  Main #3 – Guy
  • Jamaican + Japanese:  Main #4 – CassieA
  • Ethiopian + Ukranian:  Dessert – MarcJ

Whew.  Remember, courses are paired with a beverage — but the cuisines must be combined in the dish — not simply Kung Bao Chicken + a Greek wine… prepare smallish plates and portions — we’re 10, pretend you’re cooking for 6 and we’ll still have plenty.  Assignments can be swapped.

Speak up if you’ve got dietary restrictions, phobias, or allergies.

On the day of the event, we’re typically out doing a shopping run in the morning, so call or text if you need any last-minute ingredients or equipment.  The AdventureLoft™ will be available starting the late afternoon for prep.  Full details here.

Looking forward to seeing everyone soon!

01/07/12 Episode #9 theme voting

14 Dec

The table is full!  Quite the response, I must say.  Well, here’s the line-up — in no particular order (course assignments will be determined at a later date):

Francine, JDavid, NinaG, MarcJ, JoannaM, LaurentL, CassieA, PJ, KiriM, Guy

While theme nominations can only be submitted by episode participants (still not to late to suggest ’em), voting is open to all FMC members.   So vote early, vote often.  Voting will close and the winning theme announced by Dec 28th, or sooner if there is a clear people’s choice.

 

By the way, on an administrative note, thanks to a generous anonymous donor, the FMC blog is now advertisement-free.  Yeah!

Announcing Episode #9: 01/07/12

14 Dec

Yes, we’re now in the throes of the holiday season, but soon it will be over.  We’ve got a FMC date picked for when they’ve past…

Jan. 7th.  Saturday.  2012.  Check your calendars.

Back to the old format:  Eight people, each randomly assigned to cook and serve one of eight beverage-paired courses.

Have a look at the current list of theme ideas.  Sign up for the event and nominate a theme from the list, or suggest something new.  Once the table is filled, we’ll put up a poll of nominated themes, and resign ourselves to cook the will of the FMC at large.

I’m thinking: keep it simple.  Take a deep breath.  My theme nomination is:

Homage to Kozy Shack rice pudding (milk, rice, sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla): No dish can use more than six ingredients.

But I’m just one of 8.

PS: Spanish Chorizo is done (and delicious), which means the Meat Locker is free for the time being if anyone wants to use it. Also, check out the Batterie de Cuisine, there have been a few purchases and acquisitions: knives, cavatelli maker, and a torchio press.  Available for your cooking pleasure.

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