Wednesday, June 30, 2010

So Long Chad, We Hardly Knew Ye!

It's hard for me to believe that Chad week has been over for a few days.  As I type this, I am sitting in a hotel room in Lansing, Michigan, at about 20 minutes past midnight, after finishing my homework for tomorrow.  I'm smack-dab in the middle of an intensive one-week residency for my graduate program -- Today was Tuesday, and I'm done at lunchtime on Friday.

Anyway, back to Chad.  Our final recipe was on Friday, and Gable picked out the meal.  He picked out corn/sausage/bacon/prune skewers for the grill and bread that's cooked by wrapping the dough around a stick and cooking it over a fire.  Stick bread.  It even sounds fun.

So, yet another "when I got home from work" anecdote, I guess.  Angel and Gable were deep into making the skewers, chopping corn into segments and trying to ram skewers through the cob; wrapping bacon around L'il Smokies and prunes; generally having a good time with food.  I was enlisted to hammer a metal skewer through the cobs, so the bamboo ones would go through.

The recipe is easy enough.  Honestly, it called for good sausage, twisted to nip it down to Lit'l Smoky size, bacon, corn on the cob and prunes.  Bacon wrapped around the sausages and prunes, and all of it was stuck on skewers to be grilled.  Likewise the stick bread was easy, Angel said.  It took beer, flour and like two other ingredients for the dough, and then strips of it were wrapped around sticks for the fire.

Sausage, Bacon, Corn Skewers

So, I cooked the skewers over charcoal first.  I have to say, the drawback to this one is that the corn is browned and the sausages are blackened before the bacon is even a little bit cooked.  Consequently, there were several bites of raw, squidgy bacon that I tossed over my shoulder. (we ate outside at the picnic table)  Except for that, though, I loved this one.  The corn was fresh and smoky; the bacon-wrapped sausages are like a dream-come-true, and the prune's sweetness meshed really well with the pork products.

Sausage, Bacon, Corn Skewers

The kids?  Humph.  I have the only children in the country who steadfastly will not eat food from a stick.  When I was a kid, I wished my parents would make food-on-a-stick, because of the awesomeness.  My kids?  I might as well sling a turd in front of them.  If it were on a stick, they wouldn't eat that, either.

We had problems with the stick bread.  After it was wrapped onto the sticks, I realized I had to slide the bread dough down a bit in order to lay the sticks across the grill, so I unwrapped it and slid it down...but it had already dried enough that I couldn't get it to re-adhere to the sticks.

Stick Bread

I took my oldest girl to her T-Ball game while the bread was cooking, but Angel said that it tasted fine, though there were more black and more raw parts .

Saturday was supposed to be a boiled kind of dinner, but we had a crazy hectic day, and it was hot outside, and we decided to grill steaks instead -- cop out on the project?  Sure, you can think of it that way, but we choose not to.  So there.

Actually, ELTW is going to take a hiatus for most of the month of July.  For one reason, I have this residency.  For another, we are going on vacation in two weeks and don't want to try sourcing ethnic foods while in a condo on the beach.  Evelyn did draw our next destination, though.  When we get back from vacation, we go to England.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Welcome BACK to Chad

Tuesday's post about Chad was rather bleak and sobering, I understand that.  However, there is so much more to Chad than sandstorms, strife, refugees and desperation.  Yes, there is all that -- and on a scale that's truly sobering -- but that is only part of that region of the world.

Truth be told, after looking at the cuisine of Chad for about 15 minutes, both Angel and I were excited -- this has to be the most fun country we've visited yet!  The variety of foods, and cooking methods, and seasonings...truly interesting.  Turns out, they eat lots of beef and chicken in Chad, as well as greens, bananas and plantains, and spicy foods.  There's lots of cooking over fire.  There was even a recipe for a pineapple beer that included the instruction "be careful in case the fermenting beer explodes."

Cooking + Explosions = Win!!

In stark contrast to Tuesday's meal of millet porridge stood Wednesday's dinner of Moo Sate and Futari.  I actually started Tuesday night -- Moo Sate is (are?) thinly sliced beef, marinaded in a concoction of onions, garlic, ground chilies, and curry powder, threaded on skewers and grilled over charcoal.  It's served with a peanut butter sauce that's flavored with Worcestershire, soy and Tabasco sauces, and coconut cream.  Complementing the skewers, futari is a pot of acorn squash and sweet potato chunks, simmered in sauteed onions, coconut milk, cinnamon and cloves  Look at that roster of ingredients and tell me you thought they'd come from a central African country known for starvation and refugee camps!

In our recently re-worked version of ELTW, this was my night to cook a dinner that I had chosen.  I actually got home from work before Angel and the kids and was working on the vegetable dish when they arrived.  As the charcoal out in the grill ashed over, I brought in the skewers to warm up.  This was greeted with "what is that horrible odor?" from my wife.

"Dinner," I said.  I actually thought the skewers had an enticing curry/spices aroma.  Tangent:  did anyone know that curry powder makes your fingers smell like curry powder even after washing several times, sleeping overnight, showering, working a full day and washing your hands several more times?  Well, it does.

Futari

So, I started with the futari.  It did what I thought it'd do, essentially.  I am not a fan of acorn squash...I blame over-zealous squash-loving parenting in my childhood (sorry, dad!) for my distaste of orange squash.  That being said, I know that squash and sweet potatoes take fairly well to sweet flavors like cinnamon and sugar and in the end, I actually liked this dish.  The squash and tubers did soak up the coconut, cinnamon and cloves and had a vaguely pumpkin-pie-ish flavor.  Angel thought it was just okay -- she's pretty attuned to texture and I suspect that this was a bit too mushy for her.  The kids didn't like it.

Moo Sate

The moo sate was spicy.  Flat out, I could've left out the ground chilies (I used red pepper) and maybe half the curry -- the kids wouldn't eat it, and I don't really blame them...until I tried the peanut-butter sauce with the skewers.  The sauce added a whole new dimension to the hot, curried beef, and cut the heat down almost totally.  The kids still wouldn't eat it.  Surprisingly, even to her, Angel really liked it.  She had to stop before she wanted to, just because of the spiciness.  I dunno, maybe we're wusses when it comes to spicy food.  Very tasty, though.

And last night, Evie chose the dinner and helped with the cooking.  Starting with a cup of oil, seasonings and a big helping of greens, she and Angel cooked some chicken breast, a handful of prawns and rice.  The recipe called for smoked fish, but Angel couldn't find any while grocery shopping.  As an aside, seeing the prawns, I realize that those are what we should've used for the Australian shrimp dinner.

This time, I'll admit that I was the one a little bit dubious about greens boiled in oil, and I generally have a love for greens that's unheard of in most Yankees.

Amusing story:  Years ago we lived in Indiana, and most of my co-workers proudly touted their southern upbringing.  "I wuz born'n reared in Kentucky," they'd proclaim.  So, one Christmas season they were deciding on the menu for the department holiday party and sent around a little menu so we could check off whether we wanted beef or chicken, potatoes or yams, cole slaw or salad....corn or collard greens.  So, I filled out mine and sent it on to my manager.  About a week later, he comes into the computer room while I'm working and starts out, "Nick, um..."  Turns out, the only one in the department of 50 or 60 Hoosiers who wanted good, southern collard greens was the northerner from Michigan!

Sweet Potato Greens w/ Fish & Shrimp

Back to Chad -- dinner was awesome!  The greens soaked up the flavors of the oil, spices, chicken and prawns, and it all melded into a wonderful, mild dish -- granted it did call for chili peppers, but Angel left them out to have mercy on the kids.  The flavored oil soaked into the rice, and everything picked up a bit of prawn-y essence.  Very good.



Recipes:

Moo Sate
  • 2 lb Beef; thinly sliced                1 c Peanut butter
  • 3 tb curry powder                     1 c coconut cream
  • 1/2 ts Ground chilies                  1 tb lemon juice
  • 2 garlic clove; minced                1/4 c Soy sauce
  • 2 Onion large; minced                1 tb Worcester sauce
  • 4 tb lemon juice                         2 x Tabasco sauce; dash
  • 1 tb Honey                                1/4 ts salt

  1. Slice the meat into thin strips no more than 1/4" thick and about 1" wide.
  2. Make strips paper-thin if possible.
  3. Mix curry powder chilies garlic onions salt lemon juice and honey in a large bowl.
  4. Add the meat strips and toss well to cover with the marinade.
  5. Thread meat strips on bamboo skewers 3 or 4 pieces per skewer.
  6. Make sure that plenty of Onion and garlic bits cling to the meat.
  7. Arrange skewers of meat in a dish cover with any remaining marinade and refrigerate while making the sauce.
  8. Brown or grill the meat skewers and serve with the warmed Peanut butter sauce for dipping.
  9. Sauce: Blend all ingredients together well to make a smooth sauce.
  10. Keep refrigerated but warm before serving.
 Futari
  • one Onion, chopped
  • one pound Squash, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
  • a pound or two of yams (sweet potatoes may be substituted), peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
  • oil to sauté
  • one cup coconut milk
  • one-half teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • one quarter teaspoon ground cloves
  • salt to taste


  1. Fry Onion in skillet, stir and cook until tender.
  2. Stir in all other ingredients, and heat to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, cover and stir occasionally.
  4. Cook until vegetables are tender (ten to fifteen minutes).
 Sweet Potato Greens with Fish and Shrimp
  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • 2 to 3 pounds (or more) of sweet potato greens, or similar
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 hot chile pepper, cleaned and chopped (or left whole)
  • 1 piece of dried, salted, or smoked (such as cod or herring), soaked in water and washed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup of dried shrimp or dried prawns (or a handful of fresh shrimp or prawns)
  • any, pan-fried and cut into pieces (optional)
  • chicken, pan-fried and cut into pieces (optional)
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot.
  2. Add the greens, onion, pepper, dried, tomato paste, baking soda, and dried shrimp or prawns (if desired).
  3. Cook for fifteen minutes, stirring often.
  4. When greens are tender, add fresh shrimp or prawns, and fried or chicken.
  5. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  6. Serve with rice. 
-- all recipes from the wikia lifestyles Recipes Wiki.

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Welcome to Chad

    "You don't...have...to live like a refugee." -- Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

    So Tuesday was our first real start of Chad week, and we began with what we thought of when we thought of Central Africa -- refugees, subsistence rations and so on.  The family from Chad detailed in Hungry Planet is actually from the neighboring country, and living in a refugee camp in Chad, where they subsist on millet provided by aid agencies, and not much else.  Over 350,000 people currently live in refugee camps in Chad, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, and 541,000 people are assisted by the UNHCR.

    The acute malnutrition rate in the refugee camps is around 12%.  There is not enough water.  The majority of camps lack enough latrines.  Movement to and from the camps is restricted due to attacks by roadway bandits.  Women are raped in the camps.  Regularly.

    That is right now.  In 2010.  While my children play at their grandparents' house.  While I sit in an expensive office chair and put a blog on the internet.

    If there is a bright side to look at, the U.N. has a $161 million budget to try improving the situation.  The "general health condition" in the camps is "acceptable."  Most amazing to me is that school enrollment in the camps is at 80% -- in stark contrast to my son, who would skip school for a hangnail if he could.

    So with that bleak background, last night we set out to make aiysh, a congealed porridge of ground millet.  I think most people in America are familiar with millet -- it's the little round seeds in birdseed.  Chadian refugees are given a ration of millet seed, and either take to a mill to be ground into flour, or they grind it themselves with mortar and pestle -- or rocks.

    Millet, Granite and Rocks

    So, we found and purchased millet seed and some millet flour.  We measured out a pound, which would be the ration for a family of six.  I found and washed a couple of rocks from our firepit, and a couple pieces of flat granite that I had lying around, and took them out on the deck. And we ground our millet into flour.  Our deck is on the west side of the house, and in full evening sun.  Yesterday was an 85-degree day, so the kids almost immediately started complaining that they were hot.

    Millet to be Ground

    "Yes, it's hot," I said.  "Just like Chad.  In fact, it routinely hits 100 degrees in Chad, so this would be a relief for them.  And they can't just duck into the kitchen to cool off like we can."  I think they got it.

    Evie Grinding Millet

    First, we put some millet in a Ziploc bag and tried to grind it, to keep from losing any.  We didn't do much but rip the bag.  Next, we sprinkled some on a granite slab and rolled the rock on it, and that ground the millet nicely, but was slow.  Lastly, we put another granite slab on top and rubbed back and forth, which was quicker, but ground less finely, and also spilled a fair amount of the seed on the deck, and on that point we told the kids of the women who will spend hours sifting through the sand where the millet is distributed to pick out individual grains so their children have another mouthful.

    Grinding Millet

    Lastly, I told the kids how if we were in Chad, I wouldn't even be there.  "I would've been killed three years ago when our village was raided."  And I went off to mow the lawn.  Angel says they got through about half of the millet before they were all fed up, and she used flour to fill out the rest of the pound.

    Aiysh

    The porridge itself wasn't actually too bad.  I thought it was rather like Cream of Wheat cereal, with no cream or sugar in it.  Angel likened it to rice, with the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Gable liked it as-is.  The twins did not.  Evie started out liking it but quickly turned to thumbs-down.  I found much the same thing...it started out okay, but started leaving a mildly acrid residue in my throat and I needed a glass of water.  Regardless, aiysh is very filling and at least palatable, if not scrumptious.  Actually, in the end I added butter and brown sugar as if it were cereal and everyone but Gabe liked it more.

    As a final aside, we were all pretty darn hungry again by 10:00 p.m.  It doesn't take much empathy to understand how full one would NOT feel from eating this every day, three meals a day.



    Recipe:

    Ingredients
    • 1/2 coro (approx. 1 lb. millet flour
    • 1 coro (approx. 2 qrt) water
    • vegetable oil (enough to coat aiysh) 
    Bring millet flour to mill to grind.
    After obtaining ground millet flour, light fire and bring water to a boil in a pot.
    Add millet flour in small amounts until it begins to thicken and bubble. Stir constantly, pulling mixture toward you in the pot until it holds together in a gelatinous mass.
    Press mixture into an oiled bowl to make a round shape. Invert onto serving plate or tray.

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    Hanging Chad

    So, I realize I never let on what country we're traveling to this week.  It's Chad.  You know, Chad.  Central Africa, poverty, starvation, refugees...Chad.  From the moment I even put Chad in the official tin, I knew I was gonna have to make the "hanging chads" joke at some point, so there it is.  It's even a bit relevant.

    You see, last night was supposed to be our first Chadian night.  (Chadians, that's what they call themselves.)  So all we (and I) had to do last night was:
    • 5:10-5:15 -- get home from work
    • 5:30 -- run Evie to her T-ball team photos and game.
    • 7:30-8:00-ish -- get home from T-ball game
    • 8:00 +2hrs -- Cook authentic Chadian Dinner
    • After That -- clean up authentic Chadian Dinner
    • After THAT, what's this now...10:30? 11:00? -- Begin homework: Business Law Case Discussion
    • 1:00 am -- Continue homework: Business Law online lectures
    • 2:00am -- Business law quiz
    • 2:30am -- quiz complete, go to bed.

    So we punted on the first night of Chad and ordered pizza to cut out the two hours of cooking and subsequent hour of cleanup.  My wife took the kids to the T-ball game and I got those two hours to work on homework, so I was able to go to sleep before 1:00 am.

    So I'm sorry for the bad pun...but we've left you hanging, Chad.

    Thursday, June 17, 2010

    Vegemite

    "He just smiled, and made me a vegemite sandwich." -- Men at Work

    Vegemite is an Australian staple.  It's one of the first foods fed to Australian babies.  It's a phenomenal source of B vitamins.  I've heard the taste described as "distinctive," and been cautioned that I won't like it.  We know that it's sold by Kraft, and it's a yeast extract.  So yeah, if we're trying the Australian experience, we needed to experience Vegemite.  We ordered a jar of it from a website.

    When we got it, the first thing I did was open the jar and smell it.  Well, I've smelled worse things, I guess.  I think everyone has a different description of what it smells like, but my stab at it is a mixture between beef bouillon and boiling beer wort.** -- like yeasty barley malt with beef undertones.  I swiped my pinky finger in it and tasted it...kind of like salty beef-yeast malt.  Kind of icky, to tell the truth.

    Vegemite Toast

    Well, Sunday morning came and we'd put off having traditional Vegemite for breakfast, as we read the Aussies do.  On toast.  So I toasted two slices of bread, (not six...I've heard that we probably wouldn't like it, so I figured baby steps) spread a liberal amount of Vegemite on them, and cut them into toast points.  When spreading, I would describe the color and consistency of Vegemite as somewhat akin to axle grease, or maybe really dark Vaseline.

    Anyway, I carried the toast points to the table, and distributed them amongst us.  The kids looked skeptical, and we admonished them that they had to at least swallow ONE bite...there would be no spitting.  We agreed to eat on the count of three.  One...  Two....  Three...

    ...and we all bit down on our Vegemite toast.  The initial flavor wasn't good, but wasn't too awful.  Rather like the smell, actually.  Salty, yeasty (I guess) and sort of tangy...

    ... that was for the first 1.4 seconds.  Then all hell broke loose in my mouth, and from the sound of it, in everyone else's mouth as well.  A sort of strangled howl loosed forth from all of us at the same time.  Hands started flapping, eyes started watering, and at least one of us spun around in place a few times.  During the following 2.3 seconds I debated whether the contents of my mouth were, in fact, swallowable, or whether someone had actually shat in my mouth when I wasn't looking.  I came to the conclusion, as I lunged across the kitchen for the trash can, that neither scenario was possible, and I spit it out into the garbage.

    This was not happening in a vacuum, mind you.  Behind and around me, bedlam was breaking loose.  In my peripheral vision, I could see what looked like a dozen people rushing back and forth and spinning around.  Person after child after person bent over the garbage can and spat.  I looked over at the twins, trapped in their high chairs, and they were inconsolable.  I carried the can over and they blew out the vegemite slurry in their mouths.  Poor Elouise had big, sad tears and a look on her face that said, "Why, daddy?  Why would you do this to us?"

    But things didn't stop here.  Vegemite toast appears to have adhesive qualities similar to spackle, and we immediately found that even after spitting, the flavor remains, as do little bits and specks in your teeth.  I didn't know if I should use my beleaguered tongue to scrape out the Vegemite -- thus tasting it more -- or leave it in my teeth -- thus tasting it more. I found iced tea in the refrigerator and swigged, and swished, and spit...and found marginal relief.  Unthinking, I upended the nearly empty jug in the sink as Angel screamed "NOOoooo!" over her outstretched hands.

    The kids were still crying, by the way.

    I sprinted across the house and out into the garage, where the beverage fridge sits, and found a 2-liter of diet orange soda.  I brought it back and poured glasses for all of the kids and handed it back to my red-faced wife.  There was a disgusting chorus of gargling and swishing, and we all, finally, found some relief from the oral putrefaction.

    Whereupon we went out for brunch.

    Vegemite Sucks

    ** beer wort is the raw barley malt / water / hops mixture that one boils for an hour before putting in a bucket with yeast to ferment for two weeks.  It's a heady aroma, malty, yeasty and warm-smelling.  If you've ever driven by a distillery, it's much the same.

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    Aussie Weekend, 'Mate

    Saturday was an off-kilter day at the Eating Like The World laboratories.  Friday night was spent at the drive-in, and we didn't turn in until three in the morning -- well, the kids fell asleep way before that, but Angel and I were awake until three.  So I didn't get up until 11:00 Saturday morning, which is uncharacteristic for me.  I spent the next hour and a half cleaning all of the dishes from Friday's awesome burgers, and then had to run into work for a few hours...and THEN run another half-hour north (I know, right?  Further north from Traverse City must put me in Canada, or Santa's Workshop, right?) to pick up an internet purchase for a friend of Angel.

    When I returned, Angel already had dinner mostly prepared.  We had a pair of Australian staples:  Meat pie was the first.  We served it with a pea salad and had a dessert of the other staple: damper bread -- apple/cinnamon in our case.

    Australian Pea Salad

    Nobody really liked the pea salad -- peas and bell peppers and water chestnuts in some kind of white sour-cream-like sauce.  I like peas, especially fresh and snappy like these were.  I like bell peppers.  Together, though it left me cold.  Sorry peas'n peppers, no hard feelings.

    Meat Pie

    The meat pie, on the other hand, was great.  Honestly, it was like a home-made, 12" beef pot-pie with no vegetables.  Savory, flaky, beefy...yum.  There wasn't enough to satisfy all the requests for seconds.  The damper, too, was pretty good.  Sort of like an apple-y sponge cake.  It was supposed to be covered with "golden syrup," which is totally unavailable in northern Michigan, and akin to a 50/50 corn syrup/honey mix, I guess.  We had some honey syrup and it was pretty good with that.

    Damper Bread

    Sunday morning we tried a common Australian breakfast...and went out for brunch.  I'll save that for another post.  For dinner, Angel chose fish'n chips, a staple brought over from England, I'd wager.

    Fish'n Chips

    We used whiting fillets, which still had the skin on one side, and made a batter using an Australian beer (*not* Foster's!!) that I'd found in an awesome beer store in Lansing.  We also sliced potatoes and made our own home-made chips.  The fish was pretty good -- the skin imparted more of a fishy flavor than I prefer, but the batter was golden, crispy and great, and the fish was white and flaky, apart from the skin.  I did have four pieces, I couldn't have hated it TOO much.  Even the kids ate fish, which they typically regard as on the same level as old socks or Brussels sprouts.



    Recipes: ...coming soon!

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Feels Like "Man vs. Food" Around Here

    Friday was the day of Gable's recipes and cooking, and let me say that he was more engaged and excited about Friday's meal than any previous day in this project, bar none.  Gable picked out Aussie Burgers "with the works," bacon-wrapped baked potatoes and what is apparently the national dessert of Australia -- Pavlova.  All week, Gable kept pestering us as to whether it was "his" night or not.

    Granted, I was at work while a lot of the preparations went on, but Angel reports that he was all about mixing the meat mixture for the hamburger patties -- they were more like meatloaf patties, actually, and took a fair amount of squishing to mix in the eggs and whatnot.  He and Angel also made the Pavlova while I was at work, and it was really quite pretty, all white meringue and colorful berries on top, and Gable was proud of his work.  Everybody apparently loved making the bacon-wrapped potatoes.  With their long skewers poking up out of them, the kids dubbed them "their new flags."

    When I got home, though, it was crunch-time.  Angel had already started the grill, and the charcoal was just about perfect right when I walked in the door.  I changed out of my work clothes and started grilling right away -- we had just over an hour to finish preparing dinner and eat it before we needed to rush Evie to her Tee-Ball game.  Angel was in a frenzy, frying eggs, broiling bacon, sauteeing onions and toasting buns -- somehow all at the same time -- while various children orbited the kitchen.  Everything came together, however, and we assembled the "Aussie Burger With The Works" on six different plates.

    The burger was constructed as follows:  Toasted bun heel, fried egg, burger patty, cheese, sauteed onions, BBQ sauce, shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, sliced raw beetroot, bacon strips, pineapple ring, bun crown.  They were big -- no, they were huge burgers, towering over the plate and seemingly swaying in the breeze.  There was no way any of us could actually get our mouth around the whole thing at once.  My tactic was to compress the burger as much as I could without shooting condiments out the side, and then eat from edges and corners at an angle...

    Awesome Australian Burger

    ...and the burger was good.  Hm, that seems a little anticlimactic.  I should put it this way:  The Burger Was Good.  Like, really good.  I've never had a fried egg on a cheeseburger before, though I've seen it on Food Network shows, and it added a creamy, full-bodied something to the burger.  The beetroot, which I was pretty darn skeptical about, was slightly earthy and contributed some "snap", while the pineapple -- well it all really combined into a wonderful, sloppy, delicious mess.  The meatloaf-like patty crumbled quickly, and after about three bites I essentially had a handful of Aussie burger -- a beautiful, satisfying, scrumptious handful of Aussie burger.  Evie declared it "the best burger I've ever eaten in my life!"  Then again, she tends toward the dramatic.  I would truthfully rank this in the top 5 burgers I've ever had, though, and Gable's chest visibly swelled with pride when I made that pronouncement.

    The side-dish, bacon-wrapped potatoes, honestly was a hit with everyone but me.  I thought they were good, but not exciting -- whole new potatoes wrapped with bacon and baked.  That's it.  The bacon-y goodness perfused the potatoes, sure.  I guess I'm not much of a baked potato fan.  The kids simply loved them, though.  Like I said, they called'em their "flags" and each of them munched through several.

    Bacon-Wrapped Potatoes

    Sadly, dessert had to wait, and I covered the Pavlova on the countertop -- the instructions said NOT to refrigerate it -- while we took Evie to her Tee-Ball game.  After the game we had no time for dessert, as we all went to the drive-in theater to watch Karate Kid and Iron Man 2...while huddled inside our van in the middle of a thunderstorm.  We didn't get back until 3:00 a.m.  By Saturday afternoon, the whipped cream on top of the Pavlova had started to separate and run, and the whole concoction was looking pretty rough.  We tested it and it seemed okay so we had pieces, then tossed the rest.

    Pavlova

    So granted, day-old Pavlova might not really be representative, but I thought it was pretty interesting.  Not a cake, exactly, it's kind of a meringue jello-mold, with the whipped cream and berries on top.  Very light, very moist, very tasty.



    Recipes:

    Aussie Burger:

    Ingredients
    • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 1 lb of beef mince
    • 1/2 cup of dried breadcrumbs
    • 1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce
    • 1 egg for beef patties
    • tomato or bbq sauce
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 onion, thinly sliced
    • 4 eggs
    • 4 hamburger buns, which have been toasted
    • 1 cup of lettuce, shredded
    • 8 tomato slices
    • 4 beetroot slices
    Cooking Instructions
    Heat barbecue plate and brush with oil. Cook the onion for a 2 minutes, or until soft. Combine with mince, breadcrumbs, worcestershire sauce, egg, salt and pepper and shape into 4 patties.
    Cook patties for 8-10 minutes each side until they are done, on either the BBQ plate or grill depending on which flavor you prefer.
    Cook sliced onion for a few minutes on hot plate until soft and brown.
    Cook eggs in lightly oiled egg rings, as desired.
    Cut hamburger buns in half horizontally and toast cut sides of the hamburger buns on barbecue grill to make them crispy.
    On each base, put some lettuce, tomato, beetroot, cooked beef pattie, egg, onions, and tomato or bbq sauce. Top with toasted hamburger bun.
    It would be considered an aussie burger with “the works” if you also included pineapple, bacon and cheese, but these are optional.
    -- from the freerecipes.org website

    Bacon-Wrapped Potatoes

    Bacon-wrapped potatoes might just be the easiest side dish recipe out there and so very delicious.
    To hold the bacon in place while roasting, I pierce the potatoes with bamboo skewers which have been previously soaked in water to stop them from burning.
    For this recipe, it's best to use small potatoes such as fingerlings or baby potatoes as they roast quite quickly.
    Try to use potatoes that are of a similar size -- about 1.5 inches x 1 inches (4cm x 2.5cm).
    The bacon-wrapped potatoes are a great accompaniment to garlic roast chicken or lemon pepper salmon.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 - 1 1/2 kgs of baby potatoes, washed & patted dry
    • 25 rashers of thin, smoked bacon
    • Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 15 minutes
    • 1/2 cup of sour cream
    • 1 clove of garlic, grated
    • 2 tsp of chopped chives
    • A pinch of sea salt

    Preparation:

    1. Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
    2. Wrap one or two pieces of uncooked bacon around the potatoes and secure with a dampened skewer.
    3. Place potatoes in a baking dish with about 1 inch (2.5cm)of space in between each potato. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until tender.
    4. Prepare the dipping sauce by combining the sour cream, garlic, chives and salt in a small bowl. Stir quickly to combine. Cover and refrigerate until you need to use it.
    5. Remove potatoes from oven and place on a serving dish.
    6. Serve potatoes with a bowl of the sour cream dipping sauce.
    Pavlova

    Ingredients:

    • 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 such as strawberries, raspberries, kiwi fruit, passionfruit, bananas, blueberries
    • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

    Preparation:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Bake the meringue for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it goes a very pale, pinkish egg shell color.
    7. Turn the oven off and leave the door slightly ajar to let the meringue cool completely. As the meringue cools, it will crack slightly.
    8. Just before serving, take the meringue out of the oven and remove it gently from the foil and place on a plate.
    9. Whip the cream with the vanilla extract until it forms peaks. Prepare the fruit by washing and slicing.
    10. Gently spread the cream to the top of the meringue with a spatula and arrange the fruit on top.

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    Throw Another Shrimp On The Barbie, Mate!!

    Oh man...does any phrase sum up Australia like that one...at least since that infernal movie came out?  I'll admit it...as soon as we drew this week's country, Angel and I quipped "throw another shrimp on the barbie, mate!" in stereo.  So it was a foregone conclusion that ONE of us was going to be cooking some shrimp...outside over charcoal.

    It's even funnier that my seven-year-old daughter picked shrimp on the BARBIE.  At least it's funny to me.  Because she loves Barbie dolls.  See?  Never mind.

    So when I got home from work last night, I fired up the rusty, trusty grill again.  Seems like a lot of work, taking a half-hour for charcoal to ash over just to grill some shrimp for one minute per side.  Maybe Australian shrimp are bigger, but the bag of shrimp I had to work with were more like cocktail shrimp and I had to put tin foil on the grill to keep them from falling in, and consequently they had almost no smoky grill flavor.  Also, we spent probably 20 minutes just peeling the darn things after they were cooked, and had to microwave 'em before eating if we wanted warm shrimp.

    Shrimp On The Barbie

    As an aside...I refuse to grill with propane.  No, Hank Hill would not be my friend.  All the BBQ I've had from gas grills tastes...well, like propane.  There's no smoky goodness, there's no similarity to cooking over a campfire other than the charred parts, and that's really what the barbecue grill is trying to emulate, in my opinion, is the experience of cooking over an open fire like our ancestors did all the way back to the discovery of fire itself, when Fred and Barney cooked the first Brontosaurus burgers. (probably)

    So I haven't followed the trend and bought myself a fancy-schmancy gas grill; I still cook on a (relatively) cheap charcoal kettle grill.  It's almost 10 years old, it's faded and it's kind of bent-up from the time I kicked it off the deck and hosed it down with wasp killer spray.  Come to think of it, I actually set it on fire once to kill the hornet's nest in it -- I doused it with lighter fluid and touched it off with a propane torch, then stood back and listened to the bees popping like popcorn.  I lost a good set of grill tools that day.

    Okay...I'm back.

    So, as Evelyn picked out the meal, she liked it.  One of the twins liked the shrimp, and the other liked the green beans. Gable liked nothing.  I'd mark this one as above average on the kids-not-mutineeing scale.

    And then there was dessert.  Evie made Lamingtons.  I guess that there are entire bake sales dedicated to these cakes in Australia, and that they are a revered part of the dessert culture there.  We looked at the recipe -- day old sponge cake, dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with coconut -- and didn't see what the big deal was, though they sounded good.

    Lamingtons

    Let me tell you -- holy wow, they were fantastic!  I don't know how dipping day-old cake in chocolate and coconut can do it, but they were way more than the sum of their parts.  If you've ever had Hostess Zinger cakes, they were like that, but so much better.  And when served with some whipped cream in or on 'em...well, I had FOUR of them, okay?

    Recipes:

    Shrimp on the Barbie

    Ingredients:

    • 1 kg of large shrimp, shells intact
    • 1/2 cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 lemon, juiced
    • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 2 sweet basil leaves, finely chopped
    • 1/2 tsp of sea salt
    • A pinch of freshly ground black pepper

    Preparation:

    1. Add the olive oil to a small mixing bowl with the lemon juice, garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Mix quickly to emulsify to the mixture. Set aside.
    2. Heat up the barbecue and throw on the shrimp. Cook one side for 1 minute. Turn and cook for another minute.
    3. Shell the shrimp, being careful not to burn your fingers, and dip in the garlic basil oil.

    Garlic Ginger Beans


    Ingredients:

    • 800g green beans, trimmed
    • 2 cloves of garlic, finely grated
    • 1 inch (2cm) piece of ginger, finely grated
    • 1 Tbsp butter
    • A handful of flaked almonds
    • Sea salt for sprinkling
    • Serves 8

    Preparation:

    1. Steam the beans for 4-6 minutes or until tender but crisp.
    2. Place garlic, ginger and butter into a mixing bowl. Remove beans from steamer and immediately place into the mixing bowl. Stir well to coat the beans. Add the flaked almonds and stir again.
    3. Serve immediately.

    Lamingtons

    Ingredients:

    • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
    • 2 tsp of baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp of sea salt
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/2 cup of room temperature butter
    • 3/4 cup of white sugar
    • 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup of milk
    • 2 cups of icing sugar
    • 1/3 cup of cocoa powder
    • 3 tbs of butter
    • 1/2 cup of milk
    • Whipped cream for serving

    Preparation:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
    2. Lightly butter an 8 inch square cake tin. Set aside.
    3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
    4. In a separate bowl, use an electric beater to cream the butter and sugar mixture together until pale and fluffy.
    5. Add the eggs one at a time to the butter/sugar mixture. Beat well after adding each egg.
    6. Add the vanilla to the mixture and mix well to combine.
    7. Next, use a spatula to alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, starting and finishing with the flour.
    8. Spread the batter into the cake tin, making sure it's evenly spread.
    9. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Test the center of the cake with a toothpick and make sure it comes out clean.
    10. Cool the cake in the tin for about 5 minutes and then invert it onto a wire rack to cool.
    11. Once the cake has cooled cut it into squares of a desired size and place them in an airtight container. Pop the container in the fridge for at least 2 hours or even overnight.
    12. Now for the icing. Place the icing sugar, cocoa powder, butter and milk in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
    13. Stir the mixture until it is smooth but still a bit thick. You don't want the liquid to get too thin otherwise the sponge cake won't absorb the coating.
    14. Now it's time to assemble the Lamingtons. Put out some newspaper under wire racks to catch any mess. Place the cake pieces on the racks and have your chocolate icing and desiccated coconut ready.
    15. Quickly coat the sponge cake on all sides in the icing mixture and then gently roll the cake in the coconut. Repeat the process.
    16. The Lamingtons can be stored in an airtight container for 5 days.
    -- all recipes from the Australianfood.about.com website

    No Worries, Mate!

    So, we have arrived in Australia.  Wednesday was our first official meal and it was the one I picked out...an authentic Australian "sausage sizzle."  To the un-discerning eye it might look like I grilled brats out on the deck, but it was, in reality, an authentic Australian meal.

    The gist of the "sausage sizzle," as I read it in several places, is that it's the food typically served at every church picnic, fair grounds, yard sale, fund-raiser, etc -- just as here in the U.S. you could expect to find hot dogs, chips, baked beans and the funny marshmallow stuff with coconut in it.  The sausages aren't the same -- brats don't contain lamb, mutton or gristle.  The Desperately Seeking Crab blog has a post that really explained it to me well.

    So the basic recipe, if this could be graced with such an official-sounding term, is that one grills sausages, and serves them on white bread (not buns, no, never) with sauteed onions and either BBQ sauce or tomato sauce. (ie, ketchup)  We had ours with chips and a cream ale.

    Sausage Sizzle

    And the kids ate it.  I kinda thought they would...I mean, big hot dogs, right?  I was worried a bit about the problem we've had before, where as soon as I call something foreign, they scream and make the "yuck-face."  Not to worry, though, as the kids all polished off their sausages, though there were some quibbles about the onions.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Constant Evolution

    This is Wednesday of "Australia Week" at ELTW, and there hasn't been an entry yet.  Normally, that would be because I am a lazy bugger.  This time, however, it's due to some program changes we've made to try to get the kids more on board with the project.

    A recurring theme has been the kids' steadfast refusal to help with the cooking, or to even eat the food.  I know I have made several disparaging comments about my offspring -- mainly because they break my heart, etc...  Anyway, to try boosting their engagement levels, we've changed it up a bit this week.  Angel is NOT breaking her brain making a seven-day menu comprising all relevant regions of the country, and traditional vs. everyday foods, and then spending all day, every day in the kitchen cooking elaborate recipes.

    This week, each of us picked a recipe...and is responsible for preparing that recipe.  Rather than seven days this week, we're doing five, and we're sharing the labor more than we have been.  We hope this makes things a little more harmonious en la casa.  Tonight will be the first actual meal from Australia.

    On a different subject, we drink coffee like everyone else does, right?  During Mexico week, we purchased some fun-looking extra products -- coconut candies, fun sodas...and a "Mexican" coffee -- Cafe Bustelo.  I know the can reads "beans from around the world," but it was sold in the Mexican food section at the supermarket.



    We thought this coffee would be nasty, but it really turned out to be pretty nice.  I just ran it through our cheap coffee maker in the morning, we called it "Cafe Bust-a-Move" and enjoyed it without really thinking anything more about it.  Well, yesterday was the end of the can, and today marked our return to Folger's.

    Yecch!  I never realized how much of a nasty, acidic, disgusting aftertaste Folger's left in my mouth.  I'd just thought, "gee, it's better than Maxwell House, anyway," but this morning I wanted to gargle with Clorox.  We might have just migrated our daily coffee to Cafe Bustelo -- it's the same price, too.

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Beer, and Behind the Scenes

    It's Sunday evening, the night before we begin our Australian week.  Australia is both hard and easy.  Their diet is largely Western...burgers, steaks, chips, cookies, etc...  But...just a little bit off so that it's HARD to find the right ingredient or recipe.  Smoked sausages -- here we just get a pack of Johnsonville Brats or something...but we read things about lamb and mutton being in the sausages.  Yeah, we're not going to find that at the local Meijer's.

    And there's the British influence on the Australian menu.  Essentially, it seems like Australia started with the Aboriginal people's diet of kangaroo, grubs and indigenous plants...which was shoved aside for a British invasion of treacle, puddings, tea-time, mutton and meat pies...which has in recent years been melded with Asian, Mediterranean and, well, everyone else's culture.

    We wanted to find a real Australian beer, too -- not only for beer-battered fish, but because...well...we at the Eating Like The World offices just like beer.  If we're to believe the TV ads, Foster's lager is Australian beer.  Right.  A little bit of research shows that Victoria Bitter is THE beer of Australia...and it's available in exactly one bar in the United States...in San Francisco...and they don't ship.  Luckily, I visit a college town every other week and was able to find some Cooper's ale, and hopefully it doesn't taste too much like the average mass-market swill.



    The Eating Like The World Kitchens


    The above photo is of the Eating Like The World kitchens in an ultra-rare clean state.  I wanted to show my loyal reader(s) that they don't need any kind of special setup to do what we're doing, or anything adventurous in the kitchen, really.  This is it, the standard kitchen of a spec-built house circa 2004.  There's no granite countertops, or stainless-steel anything, and certainly no Jenn-Air or Viking ranges.  Nope, standard stove and fridge bought at the local discount appliance store.  Microwave that came with the house...built in 1996, according to a sticker on it.

    We do have a nice set of Anolon pots that my dad got Angel for Christmas a couple of years ago, and they're a welcome replacement for the mix'n match set of Kmart pots and 10-year-old T-Fal that we'd peeled most of the Teflon out of, even if I do have to wash them by hand every evening.  But you know what?  Angel still cooked food that tasted as good in the old, crappy pots.  The rest of our utensils were bought at dollar stores and discount outlets -- we don't have expensive cutlery, or boutique measuring cups, or...well, anything. I think we still have the toaster we got for our wedding, 13 years ago this August.

    What I'm saying is that you don't need the total Emeril, Alton Brown, or All-Clad kitchen to be able to make original, good-tasting food.  If you have an itch to do something like we're doing...don't say "I can't, because I don't have the stuff to cook real food."  Just do it.  Your kids will thank you.  Well, our kids don't...their attitude is more like open rebellion...but I'm sure your kids would be different.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Theyyyy're Hee-eeere!

    We had guests, Sunday!  C'mon, you have to read it with a voice like an excited puppy, tumbling and peeing all over itself -- mixed with Looney Toons' abominable snowman:  WehadguestsWehadguests-WehadguestsWehadguests...and we would pet them and pat them, and name them George...

    We don't invite people to the Eating Like The World Kitchens often.  Okay...like, ever.  So it was a pretty big deal that for the last day of Mexico week, we invited over our neighbors who hail from New Mexico and have a pretty fair palate for Mexican food.  In order to preserve their anonymity, let's call them "Patrick" and "Margie."

    "Patrick"

     
    "Margie"

    First off, Margie had made tamales a week or two ago, and we were curious how she'd like ours, knowing full well that we'd emasculated the spiciness and that Angel hated them utterly.  Turns out, Angel should be proud of her tamales.

    "If you don't like these," they said.  "Don't bother ordering tamales at a restaurant, because this is what they'll taste like."

    They also brought yet more Corona's with them.  We have inhaled more beer this week than any week I can think of since college...and stereotypical or not, a Corona with lime just goes well with most of the dishes we've prepared.

    So, for Patrick and Margie, we prepared chicken with Spanish rice, sopapillas, and grilled corn on the cob with queso fresco melted on top.  As the chef's prep cook, I was pressed into the usual service of chopping up vegetables.  This time, a colorful mix of green, yellow, orange and red bell peppers, with a couple of small onions, for the rice.  I was also tasked with preparing a dish all on my own -- the grilled corn.

    I've never grilled anything but meat before, honestly, but I'm kinda the grill guy around the house.  I hadn't fired up the grill yet this year, so I scraped off the wasps' nest, pulled out the last of last year's charcoal, the lighter fluid and the propane torch and headed out to the back deck.  Yes, I said "propane torch."  It doesn't blow out and lights the lighter fluid with a decent "fwomph."  And it's no secret that we at ELTW like fire.  Half an hour later, we had a nicely ashed bed of coals, and grilling the corn turned out to be an anticlimax.  No sizzling and smoking like steaks and burgers...just the occasional pop.  After grilling, the ears were rolled in melted butter, brushed with mayonnaise and sprinkled with crumbled queso fresco.

    Meanwhile, Angel was working on the sopapillas -- little, deep-fried rolls that are supposed to puff up like pillows, I guess.  At one point, over my shoulder I heard "Hey!  They're floating up!  Yesss!"  From what I understand, to cook them you slide them under the oil and when they're ready to turn, they float to the surface.

    So, at dinner we had the six of us, plus "Patrick and Margie" and their two kids.  We covered the table with chicken and rice, platter of corn, bowl of sopapillas, and a cup of lime wedges for the Coronas and to drizzle over the corn.  The kids all siezed lime wedges and did a passable interpretation of them as the greatest treat ever.  Go figure.

    Arroz con Pollo, Maiz de Cojito, Sopapilla

    I thought the main dish was really good.  The rice was saucy and bell-peppery -- it was a more risotto-style rice than a long-grain rice, so it was good and sticky.  The chicken, braised and simmered with the rice, was soft and tasty.  Angel didn't like it -- mostly because of the rice texture, she said -- and the kids split about 70/30 in favor of it, I think.  Next, the corn was a nice surprise.  I was mildly repulsed while brushing mayo on perfectly good corn, but it actually imparted a nice, creamy flavor to counterpoint the smoky, slightly charred grill flavor...and on top of that there was the salty, melty queso fresco dancing with the tart lime juice.  It was surprisingly good, I thought.

    And the sopapillas...kind of bland and fried-tasting by themselves, like fairground elephant ears without any cinnamon or sugar on them.  "Got any honey?" Patrick asked.  I found a jug of the stuff in a cupboard, and it transformed the sopapillas into a beautiful thing.  It's like that was what they were meant for.

    Oh, I almost forgot -- for dessert, Angel made an orange angelfood-like cake.  Flavored with fresh-squeezed orange juice and fresh-grated orange peel, and made with egg whites that had been beaten to stiff peaks and folded back into the batter, it was a light and airy, citrusey tasting delight.

    After dinner...we pulled out the official tin.  The twin who was slated to draw our next destination...had fallen asleep in her high chair.  So Gable reached in and pulled out...

    ...Australia.  G'day, mate!


    Recipes:

    Chicken with Rice (Arroz con pollo)

    Chicken:
    2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
    1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    1 minced garlic clove
    1 lime’s juice
    2 tsp salt
    Place a cup of water and the remaining ingredients except for the chicken in a double-bagged gallon size zip top bag. Add the rinsed chicken (always rinse meats before using) to bag, toss it up a bit with a spoon and seal, pressing out as much air as possible. Marinate / brine for no longer than 3 or 4 hours but at least 2, turning and rearranging a couple of times. Don’t be afraid to throw in some macerated fresh herbs like oregano or thyme or even an un-macerated rosemary sprig??

    Rice:

    1 large chopped green/red/yellow/orange sweet pepper
    1 large chopped yellow onion
    6 cloves garlic
    1 tsp oregano
    1 fat pinch of saffron (think dip, not leaf)
    2 medium size bay leaves
    1/2 cup Virgin olive oil
    1/2 can tomato paste (small can)
    1 cup chicken broth
    2 1/2 cups Valencia or Arborio or some sort of risotto rice
    3 1/2 cups water
    1 bottle beer, imported–of course, try Lowenbrau
    After the chicken has soaked long enough, take it out and dry it on and off with some paper towels. To your dutch oven that has been gathering momentum for the past 5 minutes over medium high heat, add 1/4c of the oil. Once the oil starts a-shimmerin and a-smellin, place as many chicken parts in there you can without crowding. You are trying to give the chicken some nice brown crust, so as much of it should be in contact with the pan. Brown on the other side and place browned chicken in a dish covered with foil (loosely). Repeat with remaining chicken.
    Add the other 1/4c of oil and when ready, add the chopped onion and pepper, reducing the heat to medium now. Cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, scraping up the browned chicken bits off the pan.
    Add the minced garlic and cook for another 4-5 minutes until all these veggies are nice and soft and and quite silky in their extra helping of oil (it’ll come in handy for the rice). Add the oregano, the bay leaves and the saffron and stir some more, until the saffron fragrance tapers (1-2 min). Now add the tomato paste that you mixed with a 1/2 cup of water and cook this SERIOUS sofrito down for a few minutes so as to be more pasty than watery.


    Throw in the chicken and it’s juices collected in the plate, making sure to toss all this together to coat the chicken in the sofri. This goes on for another 3-4 minutes. Now, add the 2.5c of rice and toss that with the chicken and sofri for a few minutes. Finally, add the 1 cup of chicken broth and 3.5c of water (ok, 4.5c if you want it sloppy), mix and bring to a boil. Stir, cover and reduce heat to as low as possible on your range. Now kick back for the next 20-30 minutes and get your beer. I mean, you can go ahead and pound a couple, but save one for the rice!
    Your rice is cooked now and there is still some liquid in the pot amongst the rice. This is good, yes. Crack yer beer and pour that bad boy in there and don’t be all slow or careful about it either, it’s not champagne for chrissakes. Look at that sucker foam up!

    Now cover immediately and turn off the stove. Wait at least 10 minutes before serving. How about a crisp romaine salad with a lime vinaigrette?

    -- from the arrozyfrijoles.com website

    Mexican Corn on the Cob ( Elote)

    Ingredients

    • 4 ears corn, shucked
    • 1/4 cup melted butter
    • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/2 cup grated cotija cheese
    • 4 wedges lime (optional)

    Directions

    1. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat.
    2. Grill corn until hot and lightly charred all over, 7 to 10 minutes, depending on the temperature of the grill. Roll the ears in melted butter, then spread evenly with mayonnaise. Sprinkle with cotija cheese (we used crumbled queso fresco) and serve with a lime wedge. 
    -- from the allrecipes website
    Sopapillas
    3 cup all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons
    baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    4 to 6 tablespoons lard or shortening
    1 1/4 cups warm milk (approximate)
    Vegetable Oil

    In a large bowl, blend together the flour baking powder, and salt. With a pastry cutter (unless you are one of those, like my teachers, who always used their hands) cut in the lard or shortening.

    Add the milk all at once, and mix the dough quickly with a fork or by hand until the dough forms a mass. 

    Turn the dough onto a well-floured board and begin to knead the dough by folding it in half, pushing it down, and folding again. It should take about a dozen folds to form a soft dough that is no longer sticky. 
    Cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap to let it rest for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. 
    Divide the dough in 1/2, keeping the 1/2 you are not working with covered with plastic wrap or a towel so it does not dry out. 

    Roll the dough half you have chosen on a floured board with gentle strokes. Roll the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. The more you work the dough, the tougher your sopapilla will turn out. However, to keep a sopapilla well puffed after cooking, you may want to work the dough a minute or so longer.
    Cut the dough into rectangles that are about 10-inch by 5-inch. Divide the triangle into a 5-inch squares, and then cut this into a triangle.  NOTE: If you find the dough beginning to dry as you work with the remainder, cover this loosely with a some plastic wrap. 
    Do not attempt to reform and roll the leftover dough scraps. They do not roll out well on the second try. You can cook these dough scraps along with the others, and they taste just as good.

    Heat some vegetable oil in a large skillet or a deep fryer until the oil reaches about 400 degrees F. NOTE: Check the temperature of the oil with your digital cooking thermometer.

    Carefully slide the first sopapilla into the hot oil. Submerge the sopapilla under the oil. It should begin to puff immediately. 

    NOTE: For sopapillas, they either puff, or they don’t puff. Their puff is what makes it a sopapilla - but don’t despair as both can be eaten. If your sopapillas are not puffing properly, the temperature of the oil may need to be increased or decreased.  Environmental changes in temperature and altitude can make setting the temperature tricky at times.
    Using a slotted spoon, turn the sopapilla over to brown the other side. Sometimes this can be difficult, as the sopapilla will want to stay on the side it was on. A little coaxing with your slotted spatula will help this. Hold it for only a moment, and it will adjust to the side it is on. Once both sides are browned, remove the sopapilla to a surface to drain (paper towels or a draining rack will both work).
    NOTE: Sopapillas can be kept warm in a 200 degree F. oven for up to 1 hour. They refrigerate well and can be reheated in a 350 degree F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
    -- from the whatscookingamerica website