I received so many reader comments from the poached egg pizzaiolo of a week or so ago that I decided to publish 2 more but, that’s it folks. You all get the idea. It has everything to do with the “dressing”. A poached egg alone…not so tasty. Dress it up a bit and it’s fit for company. That’s why Eggs Benedict is such a popular dish. It’s more about the Canadian Bacon and Hollandaise Sauce.
English Muffin + Romesco-like sauce + ham steak + wilted spinach + grilled tomatoes...
My version of a Poached Egg Romesco-esque*
Don’t you just love the way I caught that drip (pure luck!)
*Sauce was made by pulsing piquillo peppers, garlic, walnuts, 2 crackers, olive oil, S&P
poached egg, piquillo pepper, parmesan, pureed peas*, pepper (black)…perfection!
*Quick blanch of frozen peas, then pulse with a small garlic clove, a little olive oil, a little chicken broth, S&P, till you get to the right consistency. Note: It was my intention to add bacon bits but I forgot. The salt and crunch would have made it even more delicious.
Ethiopia represents the midway point on the tour. Six countries before it, six to go. Like any vacation, the beginning seemed to be going slowly but now that we’re faced with the back end, I fear we’ll be returning to the USA before we know it. And, like any vacation, I’m already starting to wish it wouldn’t end. I hope you’ll continue to keep me company along the way — either by contributing or commenting.
We food bloggers are not timid! When the going gets tough, the tough get going! Thanks to the brave bloggers who decided to ‘meet’ me in Ethiopia. (There were many more of you than I expected!) I know the cuisine presented a real challenge and I appreciate the effort. I hope readers enjoy what my foodie friends brought to the party. Please visit their individual blogs for recipes, stories, more photos — and just to get all-round inspired!
We Are Never Full, the witty team of Amy and Jonny from Brooklyn, NY, got ambitious and prepared injera, berbere, yekik alicha, gomen, zigni we’t (an authentic looking Ethiopian palette of crepe/bread with spice paste, split peas, collard greens, spiced beef stew).
js and ts, the sister team at The Eating Club Vancover, made a delicious-looking baked eggplant with dried fruit and rice stuffing. Amusingly, the recipe called for 2 eggplants or 1 duck!?!
Cristina of La Cucina Di Cristina from Italy made an Ethiopian honey bread and, as usual, provides the recipe in English, Italian and Romanian for you multi-linguists out there.
Another style of spiced honey bread (Yemarina Yewotet Dabo) comes to us from Ivy of Kopiaste in Athens, Greece. She served hers with home-made quince jam.
Cake of Laws of the Kitchen in Australia joined us again. She took on the Doro Wat (spicy chicken stew) as did I…and had the same reaction. She loved it!
Cindy of Cindystar in Lake Garda, Italy rushed back from skiing to whip up this injera for us. Her version is served with chopped chicken and bitter peppers. Cindy tells us that Venice is hosting an exhibition dedicated to Ethiopic Ancient Art entitled the Holy Beauty of Christian Ethiopia from March 13-May 10.
Val of More than Burnt Toast in British Columbia spun another fascinating tale about “travel” in Ethiopia and prepared these tasty-looking chick pea fritters which get coated with Berbere, the spice paste.
Rachel, The Crispy Cook in Schuylerville, NY, had an unsuccessful experience with making injera but happily made 2 interesting stews: a doro wat with tofu and Atar Alecha (a spicy green pea porridge) served over rice.
Chef Holly of El Hajii joins us again from Honolulu. She made 2 side dishes — a spicy salad with a chick peas/green peas & carrots and a beet/potato salad.
Brii from Brii’s Blog in English in Lake Garda, Italy was also ambitious. She made injera, berbere and doro wat which provided 3 interesting photos for me to make this mosaic.
And, in case you needed something to put out the fire from all the berbere, Joie de Vivre in Washington State made Birz, a healthy alternative to alcohol which is popular in Muslim households. It is made from honey and water left to sit on the counter for 2 days.
Observation: The common thread in all these dishes is they are not from the Rachel Ray playbook of ‘under 30 minutes’. Each dish took hours to prepare, if not days! The uncommon thread is…it’s all in the interpretation (or presentation). There are several versions of doro wat, injera, berbere and spiced honey bread and, yet, each looks slightly different. Cooking is like art…and the beauty is in the eye of the beholder (and taster?)
Next stop: Russia on or before March 2. Round-up March 4.
Wow…this is a tough one to write. I conceived of A Culinary Tour Around the World event as a purely pleasurable substitute for the real thing. And, to challenge myself and other bloggers to explore different cuisines. All fun. Afterwards, when I decided to attach it to BloggerAid to help bring awareness to the plight of many who are faced with hunger, it took on an additional and somber dimension. But that dimension has been in the background until now.
The meal I prepared from an Ethiopian recipe was really delicious and, yet, Ethiopia is the first country we are visiting that has an extremely high incidence of famine. It left me with a dilemma.
How do I enjoy their cuisine while many of them cannot?
How do I present a view into the culture in my usual carefree style while there is such suffering?
…with humility and hope that through organizations like BloggerAid and The World Food Programme, we live to see an end to world hunger.
Ethiopia is a landlocked country situated in the Horn of Africa. Its flag was adopted after the Marxist Mengistu regime ended in 1991. The emblem represents diversity, unity, peace, hope, strength and prosperity. A lot of wishing for a nation besieged with problems.
• Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries in the world.
• It is predominantly a Christian country, steeped in religion and biblical quotes.
• It is Africa’s second most populated nation.
• While gains have been made, 85% of Ethiopian women live in rural areas and engage in subsistence agriculture.
• The coffee bean originated in Ethiopia and it is their main export.
• It is the 10th largest exporter of livestock.
• According to The Economist, Ethiopia is 4th fastest growing economy in the world although urban and rural poverty remains a serious problem.
• A typical Ethiopian dinner involves several dishes of stew and sides which are eaten family style with injera (a sourdough flatbread/crepe) which is either used as a plate or utensil.
• Diners eat with their right hand only.
• Traditional beverages are tej (honey wine) and coffee.
• Feeding someone you like is encouraged. It is called gursha.
• Pork is forbidden.
Berbere is a 15-ingredient spice paste used in Ethiopian cooking.
A very popular spicy chicken stew.
For those who want to learn more about the problems in Ethiopia. Current statistics from an executive director of the World Food Programme are available on the Catholic News Service. BloggerAid recently announced that they have chosen “School Meals“ of The World Food Programme as the vehicle through which its fundraising will be channeled.
Next Stop: Russia on or before March 2. Round-up to be posted March 4.
My first (I think) poached egg. Well, if it’s not the first ever, it’s the first successful one. What’s made me stay away from poached eggs is ‘fear of white gooey stuff”. But what drew me to the concept anew was the opportunity to eat an egg without oil or butter. And now that I found the perfect poached egg*, I’m happily going to try it in various settings. The first is my version of…Italian poached egg pizzaiolo…and I’d like to think I was sitting in an outdoor cáfe in Portovenere with a cappucino, this view, and a laptop telling you about this simple and delicious egg dish.
photo taken 2006
Ingredients and Layering:
puffed pastry shell (or slice of toast, 1/2 English muffin, etc.)
favorite pasta sauce
spinach wilted in skillet
Spoon a little sauce on the plate, layer the toasted bread, spinach, egg, and liberally grind black pepper, salt and top with parmigiano reggiano.
*It’s also a humorous read.
Well, one thing I learned in this stop is that if you’re Romanian, you are fiercely proud. Several of my travelmates have personal ties to Romania and it is clear these are ties than bind forever. They couldn’t stop themselves from submitting more than one dish. (It’s good thing I conquered the mosaic maker technique!)
Cake of Laws of the Kitchen from Melbourne, Australia was the first to meet me with a dish of Parjoale (Romanian meatballs) which she served with mashed potatoes and twice-cooked spicy beans. I was beginning to think it was just going to be the 2 of us in Romania, but then…
I’m happy that Gabi showed up to give us an authentic and much tastier version of mititei than I presented. Gabi, was born and raised in Romania and only moved to Chicago after he married an American. He writes a blog called Mamaliga (named after the national dish of Romania) and it’s chock full of Romanian recipes. He’s a computer programmer, chef/blogger, guitar-rocker, and all-round good guy.
Cristina of La Cucina di Cristina was born in Bucharest, Romania and currently lives near Bologna, Italy. She was so excited to show off her native cuisine that she first prepared Chicken Ostropel…and then sent me 3 more recipes: semolina gnocchi in broth, traditional sweet bread and a cookie from Transylvania. She provides recipes in English, Italian and Romanian. And, if you visit her blog, you’ll also see an enticing travel video with scenes of Romania.
Liliana of My Cookbook Addiction has a very special attachment to Romania. It is the birthplace of her 2 daughters and she once had the opportunity of spending 9 weeks there. The happy family now live in Montreal. Liliana also made mititei and sweet bread, as well as sarmale (stuffed cabbage).
Cindy of Cindystar in Lake Garda, Italy, has been a loyal travel companion on this journey. She offers up some heartfelt facts about children in need and about an organization called Fondazione Bambini in Emergenza with which she is involved. She also prepared this beautiful Cozonac, the traditional sweet bread.
Another loyal travelmate, Brii who writes Brii’s Blog in English is also from Lake Garda, Italy (you gotta love those Lake Garda gals!). This time Brii gave us a very interesting narrative about her husband’s experience working in Romania and a friend’s experience with adoption. Oh, yes, and she made something interesting called Indushaim, a geranium and quince jam.
Thank you to those who took the leap and met me in Romania. And thank you to those of you who commented from the comfort of your armchairs…you’re equally appreciated!
From here the tour moves to Ethiopia, an even more challenging location than any we visited before. Look for my post on or before Feb 23. Round-up will be Feb 25.
Ethiopia represents the midway point of the tour, followed By Russia March 2, India March 9, Mongolia March 16, Philippines March 23, Peru March 30. The tour ends Apr 6 in the U.S.A.
Buna dimineata (good morning) and welcome to Romania, ‘the last frontier’, i.e., the last European nation to come of age. It’s also said to be a ‘nation of survivors’. Like many of its European neighbors, Romania’s early history is scarred by foreign conquests and wars; its later history by a reign of communism. While I can’t vouch for its accuracy, I found this write-up on the history, particularly as it relates to its 50-year rule under the dictator Ceausescu, to be very interesting reading. It helped me understand why the country is seemingly lagging in cultural development and modernization. However, since it is way behind the curve in tourism, it still represents value for travelers.
Romania is also a very ‘colorful’ country steeped in mystery. One thinks of Romania and automatically Count Dracula…vampirism…Transylvania…gypsies come to mind. For a peek into the culture of the gypsy communities, check out this and this. For the Dracula legend, check this. These articles are not only enlightening but fascinating.
Food and Culture
• The culture is very rich in tradition and folklore.
• The language, unlike its Slovak neighbors, is Latin-based and considered one of the romance languages.
• Traveling in Romania today is said to be like traveling in western Europe in the 1940s.
• The country has 3000 towns and villages and all are no more than 40 miles apart.
• Romania produces 402 different types of wine and was rated #12 of 70 world producers in 2005. Who knew?
• Tuica, a strong potion, made from fruit is the national drink Noroc!
Fish and guests stink after three days. (Romanian proverb).
I had a difficult time with the cuisine in Romania and I must admit this dinner is not something I’d repeat. I saw a lot of recipes for stuffed cabbage, but I’d had my quota of cabbage in the first few stops. I also came across a lot of cake recipes (they must be good bakers) but, since I lack both the precision and patience gene, baking has always been my Achilles’ heel.
This noodle recipe called for serving it with caramelized apples, but did not include instructions so I just pan grilled a few slices with butter and some grated nutmeg and then sprinkled thyme to marry it with the herb in the meat.
Conclusion: All in all, I was left with a lot of bowls, fry pans, and pots to clean — and, sadly, not a satisfying meal. It could have been the “chef-ess” had a bad day in the kitchen or, it’s just not my proverbial cup of tea. I hope some of my travelmates will show up to Romania and do the cuisine the justice I’m sure it deserves.
Next Stop: Ethiopia, on or about Feb 23. Round-up Feb 25.
We momentarily interrupt the Culinary Tour Around the World to introduce a healthy chili recipe.
For those of you who follow FOODalogue, you know I like colorful plates and lots of vegetables. I incorporate veggies into eggs for breakfast, in sandwiches at lunch time, and in pastas for dinner. But, admittedly, I also like pasta, crusty bread and wine a little too much (well, o.k., a lot) so my New Year’s resolution was to try bringing in even more vegetables as a substitute for the carbs I really crave.
I also like to ‘waste not’ in the kitchen…so when I had 2 small slices of pork loin leftover from a roast and I wanted to healthy-it-up, I thought about making a mainly vegetarian chili with a little pork to add flavor.
Like most of my recipes, this is more about food pairings and presentation than actual technique and measurements — but because it is ‘chili’, I’m sending it off to Gloria of Cookbook Cuisine* for her ‘chili cook-off‘.
What I did:
• baked 2 squash halves (butternut and acorn) in oven till tender; scooped out filling, cubed it and reserved to side for later. Meantime,
• sauteed shallot, green pepper and garlic in olive oil with some fresh thyme
• added about a cup of halved grape tomatoes
• a splash of wine
• 1 can of Goya white beans
• 8 ozs of tomato sauce
• diced pork loin
• chili powder, cumin, chipolte, pimenton (paprika)
• chopped fresh cilantro
• a squeeze of lime
• a dash of hot sauce
• simmer till flavors meld
• fold in reserved chopped squash and serve in squash shells.
*Gloria is a published author of some 2 dozen books and she is offering a free online course of how to write a cookbook. We’ve only had one lesson so far so I don’t think it’s too late to sign up. She’s out promoting her new book but will be back to resume her head mistress role soon.
Muito obrigado (many thanks) to my travelmates for sharing their stories and enlightening readers to the cuisine of Portugal which, as you can see, is delicious.
Denise of Chez Us in San Francisco, CA made a 3-course dinner. Chez Us also took the tour to a new technical level with a live webcast of the actual dinner. Up first: chicken soup with meyer lemon and mint, followed by clams & chorizos with bacalao-infused mashed potatoes, and an orange custard for dessert.
Ricardo of Rico Cafe Bistro comes to us from the U.K., but he actually was born in Portugal so he spoke to us from a position of authority. Eggs with peas and potatoes “his way” is a sure winner (with or without the chorico that his ‘mum’ used to put in).
Val from More Than Burnt Toast in British Columbia takes us on another adventure with history, culinary tidbits and “Dear Joan” postcards from the front. She also introduces us to Bolo de Queijos (savory cheese bread).
Lydia of Cookbook Addiction in Montreal was delighted to find a recipe for Portuguese Paehla and imported these delicious-looking custard tarts called Pasteis de Nata from a nearby Portuguese bakery.
Holly from El Hajii in Honolulu not only prepared a delicious Punahou Portuguese Bean Soup which she served with Portuguese Sweet Bread, she tells us about some of the many contributions Portugal made to Hawaii’s culinary history.
And then, lucky us, along comes Karen from Karen Cooks in Montana with a recipe for Massa Souvada (Portuguese Sweet Bread) which was passed down by her maternal grandparents, who immigrated from the Azores. Their wedding photo is on the website.
Vinos d’Alhos (Portuguese wine and garlic marinated pork) came from ts and js, the sister team at Eating Club Vancouver. They have a very interesting and popular blog with each of them “speaking” intermittently and critiquing the dish online as they did with this one.
Brii in Lake Garda, Italy, who writes Brii’s Blog in English. reminisced about her trip to Portugal 6 years ago and made these lovely pastries, Pastéis de Bélem.
And what’s a party without a nightcap? Thanks to Cindy of Cindystar in Lake Garda, Italy, we won’t have to deal with that question. She brought a Port Wine Flip.
Portugal was a great stop. I think everyone really enjoyed the experience. But, as much as I’d like to linger, we need to move on. And it’s going to get a bit challenging from here on out. I hope you all have the stamina to hang in there with me. Every stop is made sweeter by your presence, be it by participating or leaving a comment. I encourage readers to visit all the participants. Blogs are like their authors…each with a distinctive personality.
See you in Romania next week. I arrive on or before Feb 16. The round-up will be posted on Feb 18 (EST-USA) so please get your links to me before then.
A note to food bloggers: Just a reminder about BloggerAid. The call for recipes for the fundraising cookbook is ongoing. Who wouldn’t want to see their recipe in print (I mean besides our blogs) and at the same time do something to help eradicate world hunger?
Boa Vinda a Portugal. I was in Lisbon for a few days about 12 years ago; not nearly enough time to know the country or even the city. The 3 things I remember most are (1) eating grilled sardines at an outside cáfe (yes, it’s always about food), (2) visiting the Monument of Discovery which is beautiful, and (3) going to a Fado show in the evening which can best be described as public suffering from ill-fated love put to music with a lot of dramatics (somewhat similar to Flamenco). A serious case of ‘singing the blues’.
Food and Culture
• Bacalhau (cod fish) and sardines are the most popular choices from the sea.
• Most meals are accompanied by a boiled potato.
• Portugal produces dry wines like Vinho Verde and Vinho de Douro, as well as sweet ones — most popularly ports, madeiras and muscatel. Saude!
• It is home to the largest cork-oak forests in the world, producing some 30 million corks per day.
• Like other countries from the region, they also produce fine olive oil which is heavily used in recipes.
• The Portuguese cuisine has been widely influenced by the spices brought back from Vasco de Goma’s travels and to its proximity to Africa.
• Sadly, the cuisine seems to be comparatively under-represented outside of Portugal and small Portuguese communities abroad.
Well, as the Portuguese say…“belas palavers, ñao preencher a barriga” (fine words don’t fill the belly.) So, let’s eat!
Squid stuffed with shrimp, chorico, bread, garlic, herbs and a simple sauce with fresh tomatoes makes a very delicious dish in about 30 minutes. I served it with sauteed spinach and toasted garlic bread. (Didn’t want to lose all that delicious juice.) This is definitely one recipe I would make again. I mistakenly omitted the butter that was called for in the stuffing and guess what, folks? It wasn’t needed. I also substituted white wine for water. Why not? Note: Photo title links to recipe.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS:
Group round-up posts for Portugal will be posted on Wednesday, Feb 11.
Next Stop: Romania on or about Feb 16.
Group round-up posts for Romania will be posted on Wednesday, Feb 18.
Remaining itinerary after Romania: Ethiopia Feb 23, Russia Mar 2, India Mar 9, Mongolia Mar 16, Philippines Mar 23, Peru Mar 30, USA Apr 6.