Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Banh Mi Francais

When I heard that the El Floridano foodtruck was going to be a couple blocks away from my job, I decided to go and get a sandwich.  El Floridano gives you a choice of three sandwiches.  The one that caught my attention was the Ho Chi Banh Mi, a Vietnamese sandwich.  Generally, a Banh Mi sandwich has some sort of meat or seafood, with a lot of vegetables and mayonnaise.  El Floridano's Banh Mi had some not-so Vietnamese ingredients, most notably, turkey meatloaf.  That got me thinking, what kind of Banh Mi can I make and how creative could I be?

I decided to make my own Banh Mi.  I decided to use use some French ingredients for this Vietnamese sandwich.  First and foremost, I decided to use Brillat Savarin, a French cheese that is very creamy and very good.  It is somewhat expensive and you can use Brie as a substitute.  I also decided to use oysters, which are also part of French cuisine.  You can substitute any meat for the oysters. With a french baguette and some fresh vegetables, we have the start to a great sandwich that is fairly easy to make.

A Chef Bolek Original 
Serves 2

1 dozen oysters
1 cucumber, sliced into thin strips
1 carrot, sliced in thin strips
1/2 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 bunch of cilantro, ripped a few times
1/2 pound of Brillat Savarin cheese (or brie cheese)
1 whole wheat baguette
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 pinch of toasted garlic (optional)
A package of herb salad (or other salad)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1.   Melt the butter on low heat and add the thyme, oregano, garlic powder and toasted onion.  Also salt and pepper to taste.

2.  Rinse the oysters.  Fill a pot that has a steam basket about 1/4 of the way.  Turn the heat onto high and cover.  When the steam starts coming out, throw the oysters in to the steam basket. Let steam for about five minutes and check. When the oysters start to open their shell, remove them from the steam, remove the top shell and then remove the oyster.

3.  Saute the oysters in the butter for only a minute or two and remove.

4.  Build the sandwich.  Spread the cheese on the top part of the bread and line the bottom part with some of the herb salad.  Add the carrots, cucumber, pepper and cilantro and then place the oysters on top.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Domaine Drouhin Laurene Pinot Noir (2005)

Joseph Drouhin is a well established vineyard in the heart of Burgundy, France.  The Domaine includes vineyards in regions such as Chablis, Cote d'Or and Saone et Loire.  Over twenty years ago, Drouhin expanded to the United States, starting vineyards in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  From those vineyards, Domaine Drouhin Oregon grows pinot noir and chardonnay grapes.  And, in Oregon, Domaine Drouhin produces some amazing wines.

One such wine is the Laurene, which is a wine named for oldest daughter of winemaker Veronique Drouhin-Boss.  The wine is made from grapes grown at the family's vineyard in the Dundee Hills AVA.  According to the vineyard, the pinot noir grapes are picked into small bushels and the wine is fermented using indigenous yeasts.  The wine is aged in French oak barrels (with no more than 20% new oak).  Veronique Drouhin-Boss oversees the aging wine, picking the best barrels to make the Laurene.

Drouhin has been making the Laurene since 1991.  Clare and I purchased a bottle of the 2005, which we recently drank in celebration of our upcoming one year, five month anniversary.  The wine is a great example of a pinot noir, and provided a good contrast to the Sokol Blosser wine we previously drank.  Whereas the Sokol Blosser wine was earthy, the Laurene was smooth.  The smooth taste was very fruit forward, with a lot of berries.  I'm not sure about any other tastes or flavors (such as vanilla), but I could definitely taste cherries and maybe some plum in the wine.

At $65 a bottle, it is one of the most expensive bottles of wine we have enjoyed.  But it was definitely worth the price.  The wine is available in Oregon or for purchase online.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dogfish Head My Antonia

I previously reviewed a beer produced by Dogfish Head called Bitches Brew, which was an imperial stout brewed with honey and gusto root.  Dogfish Head is well known in craft beer circles for its willingness to experiment with beer styles and revive traditional or historical styles.  However, almost all of Dogfish Had beers are ales.  It is very rare for Dogfish Head to brew a lager, like a pilsner.

Dogfish Head had some experience, albeit indirect with pilsners.  As I recounted in a review of the Golden Revolution Imperial Pilsner, Dogfish Head's owner, Sam Caliglione provided assistance to Pivovar Herold when it brewed that beer.

My Antonia represents Dogfish Head's own effort at an Imperial Pilsner. The beer pours with a frothy head and a golden, clean hue, which is the epitome of a pilsner.  The nose of the beer greets the drinker with a nice aroma of hops.  According to the bottle, Dogfish Head continually hops the beer with Noble and West Coast Hops  As for the taste, this beer tastes much more like a pilsner than the Golden Revolution.  Yet, the cleanness of a pilsner that one ordinarily expects is somewhat "clouded" by the ABV.  The taste of alcohol is very present and noticeable, even though the beer only has a 7.5% ABV.

This is a good beer.  It sells for about $10.99 and is available in stores like Whole Foods, if you can find it.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Crab

I was standing at the seafood counter at my local grocery store and I saw something that I don't usually see in this region ... dungeness crab.  The store did not have whole dungies, but dungie clusters, which was good enough for me.  So, I bought a pound of dungeness crab clusters (which is only two clusters) and proceeded to the produce aisles to buy some hot peppers, herbs and other ingredients because I had an idea.  It was kind of an Iron Chef moment.  I saw the ingredients and a recipe came to mind.  The recipe is inpired by a Vietnamese dish called Cua Hap Bia or Crab in Beer Broth. 

Cua Hap Bia generally uses whole crabs, but there is nothing that prevents you from using crab clusters.  Dungeness clusters are especially good to use because they have a lot of meat in them.  Generally speaking, dungeness crab is pre-cooked and then frozen.  So, when cooking this type of crab, you only need to heat it up.  But you also have to be careful about overcooking the crab, because then it will become mushy and waterlogged.  While I used dungeness crab, you can use snow crab or king crab. The same precautions apply with respect to these types of crab because, like dungeness, they are pre-cooked. 

With respect to serving this dish, I served this over jasmine rice flavored with garlic and cilantro.  Rice is not necessary, you can simply spoon the crab and vegetables into a bowl and eat it.

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 2

1 pound of dungeness crab clusters
1 large (or 2 small) jalapeno peppers, sliced
1 large (or 2 small) sweet red peppers, sliced
1/2 onion, large diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 beer
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons canola oil or vegetable oil.

1.  Prepare the crab.  Break down the crab clusters into pieces.  

2.  Saute the vegetables.  Heat the oil on high.  Add the onions, hot peppers and sweet peppers.  Stir-fry for five to ten minutes until all of the vegetables are cook.  After a couple of minutes, add the garlic to the vegetable mix and continue to cook. Stir occasionally.

3.  Add the crab to the vegetables.  Add the crab and mix well so that the crab is covered by the vegetable mixture.  Add the beer. Continue to cook for about five more minutes.

4.  Finish the dish.  Remove from the heat.  Spoon into a bowl or over rice.  Also, spoon some of the beer broth over the crab. 


Sokol Blosser Estate Cuvee Pinot Noir (2006)

Sokol Blosser is a vineyard located in the Dundee Hills area of Willamette Valley.  It is a "green" vineyard, being the first in the United States to get the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).  Sokol Blosser was one of about a dozen vineyards and wineries that Clare and I visited during our honeymoon.  The people at Sokol Blosser were very nice, and we got a behind-the-scenes tour of how Sokol Blosser wines are made, aged and bottled.  One of the more unique aspects to this vineyard's operations is the underground barrel cellar, which was built in accordance with standards of the U.S. Green Building Council.  The cellar is pictured below.

We left the vineyard with some of Sokol Blosser's wines, including the Estate Cuvee (2006).  The Estate Cuvee is a limited production wine, with only 425 cases having been produced by the vineyard.  The wine is made only from pinot noir grapes grown organically through sustainable farming from a single vineyard in the Dundee Hills AVA.  The wine is aged sixteen months in French oak barrels.

The Estate Cuvee is an outstanding Oregon Pinot Noir. It pours a deep ruby red, with a nose full of fruit.  When tasting the wine, one is greeted by tastes of dark berries, such as black berries and black cherries.  According to the winemaker, you can also taste caramel and mocha.  These flavors are possible because the Estate Cuvee is a very earthy wine for a pinot noir.  While pinot noirs are not necessarily known for being earthy (a description usually given to wines like Cabernet Sauvignons or Syrahs), when you are able to drink an earthy pinot noir, it is definitely a great experience.

Due to the limited production, it is very difficult to find this wine.  If you can find a bottle, it sells for about $32.99. 


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Oysters with a Mango Habanero Mignonette

Anytime I see oysters in the store, I almost always buy them because both Clare and I love oysters.  Mostly raw, but occasionally in a good po' boy sandwich.  One of the few good things from working in a seafood restaurant is that I left with the knowledge of how to shuck oysters, and fairly quickly.

So, when I recently visited Whole Foods and saw that they had oysters, I bought a dozen.  The question was whether to make a mignonette.  Generally, a mignonette is a "sauce" of shallots and vinegar, usually with some other ingredients.  A few weeks back, I made oysters with a Peach Champagne mignonette.  This time, I wanted to go in a different direction, away from sweet and toward the heat.

So I decided make a mango habanero mignonette.  I have to say that the idea is not truly original.  Buffalo Wild Wings has a mango habanero sauce for its wings, and that is where the idea came from.

But a wing sauce is the last thing you want on oysters.  Rather, a mango, half a habanero, a scallion and a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.  That is it.


A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 2

1 dozen oysters
1 mango, diced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/2 habanero, finely diced
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

1.  Mix all of the ingredients of the mignonette together.  Spoon a little on each oyster.

2.  Shuck the oysters.  Rinse each oyster.  Only use an oyster knife.  Oysters have an opening in the back.  Work the tip of the knife into that opening and begin to turn the knife to each side, working to loosen the top shell.  Once you can get enough of the knife into the oyster, Begin to push down to lift up the shell. Once the top shell is separated, use the knife to make sure the oyster is separated from the top shell.  Use the knife to separate the oyster from the rest of the shell.  There is a muscle underneath the oyster that connects to the bottom part of the shell.  Cut that muscle.  Rinse the oyster if necessary.

3.  Fill a bowl with crushed ice.  Spoon the mignonette onto each oyster.  Serve the oysters over the crushed ice.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Around the World in 80 Dishes: Ecuador

My culinary travels find me in Ecuador, a small South American country with diverse geographical regions, whether it is the coastal region along the Pacific Ocean, the high elevation of the Andes mountains or the rainforests.  Along the coasts, the food centers around fish, beans and plaintains.  As you move inland and into the Andres mountains, the cuisine changes to meat and rice.

While my culinary challenge requires me only to make a main dish, I wanted to create a meal that would require me to cook outside of my comfort zone.  Ecuador presents such a challenge because one of the quintessential dishes is Ceviche de Corvina or Sea Bass Ceviche.  There is some debate as to whether ceviche originated in Ecuador or Peru, but what is not disputed is that ceviche in each country is different.  In Ecuador, ceviche is typically fish or shirmp, but it is usually steamed for a couple of minutes before citrus is added.  In Peru, the fish or shrimp is raw when the citrus is added.  So, for my first time at making ceviche, Ecuador provides a good starting point since I would not be making ceviche from raw seafood.  In addition, I decided to make my own aji criollo, which is an Ecuadorian hot sauce to serve as a condiment with the fish.

To complete the meal, I decided to make a soup called Locro, which is a soup of potatoes, milk, and cheese and a drink called Cuaker, which is a pineapple oat drink.  All together, the warm soup and drink contrasted with the ceviche and the aji criollo made for some wonderful contrasts and an excellent meal.


 LOCRO (Creamy Potato Soup)
Adapted from Ecuador Channel
Serves 2

2 pounds of potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)
2 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup light cream
1/4 pound of Munster cheese
Salt to taste
2 cups of water

1. Saute the onions.  Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the paprika.   Add onions and saute until translucent.

2.  Make the soup.  Add the water and bring to boil.  Then add the potatoes and reduce the heat, allowing the potatoes to simmer for about 15 minutes.

3.  Add the milk and cream.  Before the potatoes are fully cooked, add the milk and cream.  Stir occasionally to make sure that it is blended.

4.  Add the cheese.  When the potatoes start to brake up, add the cheese.  Salt to taste.


AJI CRIOLLO (Ecuadorian Hot Sauce)
Adapted from Laylita's recipes

4 red or green chiles, seeded (red ones are hotter)
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1/2 cup of water
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup of lemon or lime juice
3 tablespoons of finely chopped onion
Salt, to taste.

1. Add the chilies, cilantro, water, garlic and lime juice in a food processor.  Blend thoroughly.

2.  Pour the blended mixture in a bowl.  Add the onions and salt, to taste.


And on to the main dish, Ceviche de Corvina or Sea Bass Ceviche.  This is an excellent dish that is relatively easy to make.  For the fish, I used Branzino, which is a Mediterranean Sea Bass, with very flaky flesh and without a very fishy taste. 

Adapted from Galapagos Travel
Serves 2

2 fillets of sea bass (Branzino, Black, etc.)
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
1 small bunch of parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons of cooking oil
1 teaspoon of aji criollo
4 tablespoons of lemon juice
Salt, to taste
Ground pepper, to taste

1.  Steam the fish.  Steam the sea bass for 3 minutes.  Turn once during steaming.  Once the flesh is white, remove the fish and place in a glass dish.

2. Prepare the citrus marinade.  In a bowl. mix the lemon juice, oil, parsley, aji criollo, onion, salt and pepper.

3.  Marinade the fish.  Pour the mixture over the sea bass and coat the fish thoroughly.  Let the sea bass stand for one hour.


Finally, this great meal needs a beverage.  I came across a recipe on Whats4eats.com for Cuaker, an Ecuadoran oatmeal beverage.  Cuaker is the Spanish word for "Quaker," as in Quaker oats.  According to Whats4eats.com, oat-based beverages are popular in Central and South America.  The concept of an "oatmeal beverage" fascinates me, so I decided to make the beverage.  The key to this recipe is to use real oats, not the instant kind.  I used steel cut oats to make the Cuaker for this meal.

CUAKER (Oatmeal Beverage)
Adapted from Whats4eats.com
Serves 2

1 Pineapple, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 cup of oats
1/2 cup of sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
5 cups of water

1.  Boil the ingredients.  Add all of the ingredients to a pot and bring it to a boil.  Reduce the heat medium-low and let the ingredients simmer for about 20 minutes.  Stir frequently.

2.  Strain the ingredients.  Remove the pineapple and cinnamon sticks.  Strain the remainnig liquid, pressing down on the oats to extract all of the liquid.  Discard the oats.

3.  Serve.  Serve the beverage chilled or warm.  (I prefer it served warm.)

*     *     *

Well, I have to say that this was a very good meal.  I learned about making ceviche and learned that I probably should have let it stand in the citrus for a little longer, but it was still good.  The locro was also very good and is an ideal soup for a cool, rainy day, which was today.  But, the star of the meal was the Cuaker, which is very good and, actually, would make a great holiday drink.

With my cooking adventures in Ecuador coming to an end, I need to start planning the next stop.  I can't wait.  Till next time....


Around the World in 80 Dishes: Iran

After making some great jerk chicken, I had to decide where I would go next for my personal culinary challenge.  Generally, I have been using a random country generator to choose my next stop, keeping in mind the many suggestions that have been offered by friends.  (I intend to visit every country that you have recommended.)  When I consulted the generator after Jamaica, the country it selected was Iran.   

When you ask most people what they think of when they are asked about Iran, they will most likely provide a negative answer.  Some might mention Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and some of the rather crazy things he says.  Others may mention the Iranian nuclear weapons program.  And, still others may mention the hostage crisis back in 1979.  For me, if I were asked Iran, I would respond by saying Persian food.  I am a big fan of the cuisine, especially the various kabobs, such as Kubideh (ground meat), Chenjeh (lamb), and/or Jojeh (chicken).  For years, I would satisfy my cravings for Persian food by going to a local restaurant, Moby Dick, to get a Kubideh or Chenjeh kabob, along with a big plate of jasmine rice and freshly baked bread.


Well, with the next stop on my culinary journey being Iran, I decided that I would take this opportunity to make my own kabob.  Rather than making Kubideh or Chenjeh, which I would always order at Moby Dick, I decided to try making Kebab-e Jojeh, or chicken kabob.  For a side dish, I decided to make Salad-e Shirazi, a tomato cucumber salad.  And, for a beverage, I decided to make doogh, a yogurt drink with mint and black pepper. 

KEBAB-E JOJEH (Chicken Kabob)
Adapted from about.com
Serves 4

1 pound of chicken (boneless chicken breasts)
1/2 cup of olive oil
A pinch of saffron threads
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon warm water.
1 tomato, quartered

1.  Marinate the chicken.  Cut the chicken breasts into one inch pieces.  Mix the chicken with the onion, saffron, oil, water, salt and pepper.  Let the chicken marinate for 24 hours.

2.  Grill the chicken.  Preheat the grill to medium high or 350 degrees.  Place the chicken on skewers.  Place the tomatoes on separate skewers.  Cook the chicken skewers for about 15 to 20 minutes, turning the skewers after about ten minutes. The chicken will be done when there is no pinkness and the juices are clear.  Remove the chicken from the skewers and serve with basmati rice.


Salad e-Shirazi is a salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic and mint.  The salad is very easy to make and the fresh ingredients make this a delicious and healthy salad to compliment any kabob.

SALAD E-SHIRAZI (Tomato Cucumber Salad)
Adapted from about.com
Serves 4

3 tomatoes
2 cucumbers
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons with lemon or lime juice
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Mix all of the ingredients well.


Finally, as a beverage, I decided to make doogh, a Persian drink of yogurt and mint.  There are several recipes for doogh on the Internet, and they vary slightly.  Some use dried mint while others use fresh mint.  Some use ground black pepper, while others do not.  I decided to use fresh mint and black pepper.

Serves 4

1 cup of yogurt
1 tablespoon of finely chopped mint
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup of water

1.  Add the mint, salt, and black pepper to the yogurt.

2. Whisk water into the yogurt mixture gradually.

3.  Chill and serve.

*     *     *

In the end, this was a delicious meal and a very easy one to make.  I was able to recreate Kabob e Jojeh just like I remember it on the very rare occasions that I would order it at Moby Dick.  The Salad e-Shirazi was also very good.  Both the kabob and the salad also make great leftovers for lunch.  And, as for the doogh, I was never a big fan of the beverage; but, I wanted to try to make it to go with the meal.  It was very refreshing and went well with the meal. 

Given this experience, I am looking forward to trying to make other types of kabobs, such as Kabob e Chenjeh.  However, that will have to wait, because my culinary adventures (and the random country generator) have me traveling to another country. Until next time....


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dogfish Head Bitches Brew

About a week ago, I posted a review of North Coast's Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale, a brew brewed in honor and recognition of the jazz great Thelonious Monk.  Well,  there is another brewery who has combined water, malt, hops and yeast to honor another jazz legend ... Miles Davis and the release of his album "Bitches Brew."  It has been forty years since the release of the original album and that is as good as any reason to brew a new beer.

The Bitches Brew is basically an imperial stout, which gets a twist with the use of honey and gesho root. Dogfish Head describes it as three parts imperial stout and one part Tej.  (For those following my culinary adventures, Around the World in 80 Dishes, you will remember that I made Tej, which is an Ethiopian honey wine or mead.)  The combination of a stout, with its smooth, chocolate character with Tej, which has a sweetness from the honey, is a really interesting combination. 

That combination does come through in the taste, although the taste leans more toward the stout than the Tej, which one would expect with the 3:1 characterization by Dogfish Head.  It is smooth, with sweet undertones, and, overall, a very delicious beer.  The beer could pair very well with spicy food, taming the burn of most any pepper or spice.

It is a limited edition beer with a low IBU (only 38) and a high ABV (9.0%).  It is available from coast to coast for about $12.99 a bottle.

For more info on this beer, check out NPR and Dogfish Head.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Around the World in 80 Dishes: Jamaica

After a very delicious stop in Bangladesh, I proceeded to the next destination on my culinary adventures ... Jamaica.  I've always been interested in Jamaican food, especially Jerk Chicken.  I was riveted to the television as Anthony Bourdain was standing on a Jamaican street with his guide, watching as street vendors cooked the chicken.  I would tell myself that I have to make this chicken.

"Jerk" is a method of cooking chicken that originates with the indigenous inhabitants of the island of Jamaica, the Arawaks.  Originally, the cooking method involved smoking the chicken over pimento wood, or the wood from the allspice tree.  Over time, the method evolved to its present form in which the chicken is grilled in pit barrels or steel drums. But for those who not have a steel drum in their backyard (or, for that matter, who do not have a backyard), really good jerk chicken can be made using a stove.

As is often the case with cooking, there are many different recipes for a rub or dish, with each recipe being slightly different from the next.  The reason is that there is no one jerk rub recipe.  Everybody has their own recipe with their own twists or modifications.  To make this rub, I relied upon a couple of recipes, which had common ingredients like allspice, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, scallions, soy sauce, oil and thyme.  Other recipes may also add cloves, citrus juice (orange or lime), and nutmeg.  But, to be a true Jerk recipe, the rub must include allspice.  This recipe is simply my basic version of a Jamaican Jerk rub.  Next time, I will probably add more, like 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, maybe some lime juice and even a teaspoon or two of dark rum.  Who knows, it is always fun to tinker with recipes.


Makes about 1 cup of jerk rub
Serves about 7-10 people

1 bunch of scallions, minced
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons of minced ginger
2 Scotch Bonnet peppers (or Habanero peppers), sliced, seeded
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of allspice
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of black pepper
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1/4 cup of soy sauce (I used dark soy sauce, and cut the amount in half)
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
7 pounds of chicken

1.  Prepare the jerk sauce.  Add all of the ingredients except the liquids (soy sauce and oil) to a food processor.  Run the processor a few times to mix the ingredients.  Begin running the processor and add the soy sauce in a slow stream.  Then  add the oil in a slow stream.

2.  Marinate the chicken.  Pour the rub in a non-reactive bowl.  Add the chicken and make sure the chicken is covered.  Let it marinate for at least a couple of hours or overnight.

3.  Preheat the grill.  With the chicken having marinated for a few hours or overnight (see rub recipe above), begin to start a fire for the grill.  You want to get the grill to about 350 to 400 degrees F.  Rub the grates with oil, so the chicken will not stick to the grates.

4.  Grill the chicken.  Add the grill to the chicken, skin side down. Cook until the chicken is about 165 to 170 degrees and the juices are clear and not pink. Transfer the chicken to a platter and loosely tent with foil and let rest for about 15 minutes.  Alternatively, you can cook it in the oven at about 350 to 375 for about 50 minutes. 


Of course, a spicy dish like Jerk Chicken needs a cool drink to go with it.  I found a recipe for a non-alcoholic ginger beer (no fermentation required) which was easy to make.  I fiddled with the amounts but the recipe is adapted from one found at Whats4eats.com.

Serves many

1 pound of ginger, peeled and cut into small pieces
3 cups of water
3/4 cup of sugar
Juice from 2 to 3 lemons and/or limes
At least 5 cups of club soda


1. Add the ginger, sugar and 3 cups of water to a blender and blend well.  Let the blended mixture rest for a couple of hours or overnight.

2.  Strain the blended mixture through a fine mesh strainer.

3.  Add the club soda to the mixture until there are 2 quarts or 8 cups of the beverage.

*     *     *

Once again, I think this cooking adventure was a big success.  I really liked the jerk rub, which was full of flavors and spice from the peppers was really good.  Jerk chicken is definitely a good meal to share with friends, whether for a dinner or a party.  As with everything that I have made, I will make this meal again. Until next time....


Friday, October 8, 2010

Around the World in 80 Dishes: Bangladesh

The next step on my culinary journey takes me half-way around the world to Bangladesh.  A populous county in South Asia, Bangladesh suffers from a lot of calamities such as famine, typhoons, and poverty.  Despite all of its troubles, the country's cuisine is quite interesting and which is heavily influenced by geography.  Bangladesh is situated in the Ganges Brahmaputra delta. The proximity to water means that fish is one of the key staples of Bangladeshi cuisine, as are lentils and rice. The cuisine is also well known for the use of spices, including ginger, coriander, cumin, chilies and tumeric.


I searched the Internet to try to find a dish that is "commonplace" in Bangladesh.  Having no knowledge about the cuisine, other than what I was reading on various websites, it was quite a challenge to decide upon a dish.  Ultimately, I chose Makher Taukari or Fish Curry.  This is a fairly easy dish to make and, with a couple of variations, it is also relatively quick to make.  I cut the fish into even sized pieces, so that it would cook evenly and quickly.  I also cut the tomatoes two different ways.  I sliced two of the tomatoes into wedges and I diced two tomatoes.  It provided a difference in terms of texture and presentation.

Serves 2-4

1 pound of fish (I used trout, halibut and turbot), cut into roughly even sized pieces
1 tablespoon of red chili powder
1 tablespoon of tumeric
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon of garlic
2 to 3 green chiles, sliced
3 to 4 tomatoes
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Cilantro, chopped for garnish


1. Saute the onion and garlic.  Saute the onions in the the oil until translucent and then add the garlic.  Saute for a few more minutes.

2.  Add spices.   Add the red chili powder, and tumeric.  Saute for 3-5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and peppers and continue to saute for a couple of minutes.

3.  Cook the fish.  Add the fish and saute for a couple of minutes on each side.  Then add enough water to just cover the fish.  Continue to cook the fish until it is done, a few minutes more.

4.  Plate the dish.  Divide into bowls and sprinkle cilantro as garnish.  Serve immediately.


As I mentioned above, rice figures prominently in Bangladeshi cuisine and so I decided to make some Basmati rice to go with the Makher Taukari.  I combined a couple of recipes to make this dish and it was so good by itself I decided to plate it separately from the curry (although I ended up mixing the two together when I ate it). 

Serves 2-4

1 cup Basmati rice
2 cups of water
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick, crumbled
4 cloves
8 peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of butter
Salt, to taste


1.  Toast the spices.  Heat a pot on medium heat.  Add the spices and toast them for a minute or two.  

2.  Saute the onions.  Add the butter and and onions. Saute the onions until transluscent..  Add a little more oil if needed.  Then add the carrots and saute for about five minutes more.

3.  Cook the rice.  Add rice and stir to combine.  Then add water and bring to a boil.  Once you have a boil, reduce it to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.  Check the rice.  If the rice is not tender, let it cook for a little more.  If the liquid is low, add a little at a time. Once the rice has reached the desired tenderness, take it off the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes.

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In the end, I would label this part of the adventure a success, primarily because I worked off of recipes that had no pictures, so, especially with the Makher Taukari, it took a little imagination to figure out what the dish would look like.  I think my experience in cooking Italian dishes is reflected in these dishes.  The Makher Taukari turned out to look a little like a brodetto, although it tasted completely different than a brodetto primarily because of use of tumeric.  My experience with Italian cuisine also helped to save the rice, which I forgot to reduce from a boil, resulting in the water steaming off two quickly.  But, my experience in making risottos helped me to save the jasmine rice, adding just enough water to ensure the rice continued to cook without burning or becoming soggy.

Both Clare and I really liked these dishes so I will definitely make them again.  I hope you enjoyed this stop on the culinary trip.  Until the next time...