Tag Archives: International cuisine

Ghoulish Peppers say Hello

Hello everyone!

It feels like forever since I’ve written. Though you know what? It probably has been forever!

I’ve just been preoccupied with other things like rating restaurants and such. Which is good, I mean it means I am still writing, however it just means I am not writing and working on my own pride and joy. I’ve been going to restaurants like crazy! All because the new man in my life feels the need to satisfy my belly with good food. Thank heavens that he too is a food enthusiast and finds joy when eating food. Best of all he has a sweet tooth and seems to like the idea of getting fat due to my baked goods! Love it!

Anyway it is my favourite month of the year! The month of Halloween!

Actually I spoke to a woman in line at Starbucks earlier in the month and she said that her five year old daughter said that it was the month of Halloween. She thought it was cute that her daughter said such a thing but  I am pretty sure she thought I was a weirdo for thinking the same thing! Oh well! October rocks!

Now because of this special month I have done all sorts of wonderful things like paint my nails to certain Halloween themes as well as making some Halloween themed suppers!

Spider Nail Art

Tonight was one of those nights!

I made jack-o-lanterns out of bell peppers!

I’ve actually been meaning to buy two pumpkins. One for the beau to do as its been a very long time since having made a jack-o-lantern and the other for myself as I do them annually. Only hard thing about it is carrying them from the grocery store all the way home! Having a car would have made things that much better. Oh well, guess we will be getting our exercise for the day if we buy some pumpkins!

So I ended up making stuffed peppers which I used to strongly dislike when growing up. I remember mom having made rice outside the pepper for my sister and I. Well now I make them inside the pepper!

IMG_2018

I got the recipe from Ceara’s Kitchen, a website on the well-being of living and eating in a happy life. The direct link to the recipe can be found here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups (285g) 7 grain rice
  • 3 cups (750ml) low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cups (150g) mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup (150g) red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ (340ml) cups tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de provence
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 can kidney beans (275g) rinsed and drained
  • 1 can corn kernels (115g), rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup (225ml) tomato sauce 
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoon herbes de provence
  • 3 orange bell peppers, deseeded

Instructions:

  1. In a medium pot on high heat, combine rice and broth and cook until rice has absorbed broth and is fully cooked.

  2. In a medium pan, sauté onions and garlic until fragrant. Add mushrooms and sauté until soft. Add all seasoning and mix until combined. Combine rice with vegetables and pour in tomato sauce, beans, and corn. Mix well and set aside.

  3. If you do not have a deep casserole dish or a glass dish wash out your medium pot for the rice and prepare for your bell peppers.

  4. Preheat oven to 350ᵒF or 180ᵒC.

  5. In the casserole dish, pour tomato sauce and combine with garlic powder, cayenne powder, and herbes de provence. Mix well. Grab your bell peppers and cut out little jack-o-lantern faces with a small paring knife

  6. Fill each of the peppers with the rice dish and place in the tomato sauce. Cover casserole dish with tin foil and place in oven to cook for approximately fifty-five minutes.

  7. Once peppers are cooked, remove tin foil and place the pepper lids on top of the stuffed peppers and on broil for five to ten minutes.

  8. Enjoy once browned.

Best of all I had so much leftover rice that I decided to make a burrito! Perfect for breakfast!

Breakfast Burrito

I love being able to utilize the right leftovers for another type of meal!

When I make burritos (or just breakfast wraps) I make a scrambled egg but before scrambling it in the pan, I just let it cook on a the flat surface until it’s a pancake. I then place that flat scrambled egg-like pancake onto a wrap, add some sliced marble cheese (as I can’t just have plain cheddar), and top that with the leftover rice.

Breakfast Burrito Before WrappingBreakfast burrito after

I do the same tortilla wrap and egg thing with normal breakfast wraps, though I add some sort of leafy green, feta cheese, and sriracha sauce. Also all my scrambled egg pancakes are made without milk and with za’atar. Za’atar is an Arabic spice that I was introduced to by my older sister. She married a Leb and due to his family knows so much about Lebanese and Arabic cuisine! Not that I mind! Love it.

My using of the rice is like Bubble and Squeak but better! Well maybe not as I do not refry everything together, but I do reuse it one way or another!

IMG_2016

See! Even this guy agrees! Look at his cute smile!

If any of you give this puppy a go, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Happy eating!

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Homemade Mac n Cheese with a Spicy Red Twist

Everyone, lets raise a glass to my successful meal today!

Raise your Glass
Raise your Glass

Officially I’ve been living on my own for two days and a bit. This past Thursday my mom flew back home. Though I really shouldn’t be saying home as Canada should qualify as home to me now. Anyway I’ve now cooked up three suppers and 2/3 were absolutely god awful. Okay, maybe not that bad but bad enough that I couldn’t even post a photo let alone blog about them!

Anyway today was a very successful day! Also a last minute meal decision if I might add. Thank you FoodGawker!

Before I continue, how has everyone been? I feel like it has been such a very long time since writing on here. I mean I know I wrote once while at my sister’s house but other than that? Nada! I almost couldn’t get back into it but then I remembered just how much I like writing. And then there is my pathetic new age love for taking photos of food. My brother-in-law has commented on this a few times even.

So back to food.

What are two things that all North American’s seem to like? From my understanding the first love of all North American’s is definitely Mac & Cheese while the second food love for all is definitely Sriracha. So what can one do with these two food items? Well combine them of course!

Macaroni & Cheese and Sriracha
The American Staple

I got the recipe from Life as a Strawberry and although I didn’t completely follow the recipe, my outcome was still incredibly fabulous. Not only in looks but also in taste! The original recipe for my meal can be found here if you feel the need to cook it!

Mac & Cheese Spaghetti with Sriracha

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz (113g) spaghetti
  • 2 Tablespoons butter (salted)
  • 2 Tablespoons white flour
  • 1 cup (236ml) almond milk
  • 1 cup (115g) Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon Sriracha, plus 1 teaspoon as garnish
  • ½ teaspoon dried cilantro
  • Pinch of parsley

Instructions:

  1. Cook spaghetti in salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.

  2. In same pot, spoon butter and allow to melt. Spoon in flour and mix continuously to form a roux. Slowly add milk to roux and whisk constantly until smooth.

  3. Allow sauce to thicken. Remove from heat one at desired thickness and add cheese. Stir cheese until completely melted. Add salt and pepper and ½ teaspoon of Sriracha sauce and mix well.

  4. Add cooked spaghetti to cheese sauce and mix until all spaghetti is coated.

  5. Spoon spaghetti into serving bowls and sprinkle with Sriracha, dried cilantro, and a couple of leaves of parsley for a touch of green.

  6. Enjoy!

Although parsley wasn’t the herb of choice, it tasted quite good with the spaghetti!

Also, why on earth doesn’t Monterey Jack cheese exist in other continents besides North America? I always read about this cheese when reading North American blogs or food related things and have always wondered what it tasted like. I thought it would be spicy. Boy was I wrong, it’s just sharp.

Cheesy Goodness

Delicious though! This cheese really does need to become an international thing!

It would make for a fabulous cheese on an International Cheese platter at some restaurants! Mmm mmmm!

Basically this was an excellent meal and I cannot wait for more deliciously executed meals.

Happy eating y’all!

Spana-what? Greek Spanakopita for Dinner!

Happy Sunday everyone!

Hope you all have had a lovely weekend! Was yours also a long weekend with Mayday – international labour day?
Well all weekend long I’ve been thinking about making Spanakopita, but I got lazy. Thankfully my mom knows when I’m getting lazy and asked whether I am up to making dinner. If I don’t give a proper response or make a certain face, she then pipes in that we should have takeout. For this I am glad that she knows me so well.

Thankfully I was able to make the Spanakopita today! Have you ever heard of Spanakopita? If not let me explain it to you. It is a Greek pastry made with spinach and feta, wrapped in phyllo pastry and then baked. You can find it at any Greek restaurant worldwide. If not, you should really wonder what sort of restaurant you are at!

Spanakopita

So I got the recipe from the wonderful website Budget Bytes, a great food website for uni students who want to eat proper food besides KD Mac n Cheese or ramen and want to keep it rather cheap. The direct link to the Spanakoptia recipe can be found here.

Ingredients:

• 1 Tablespoon olive oil
• ½ yellow onion, chopped finely
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 cup (225g) cottage cheese
• ¼ cup (25g) parmesan cheese
• 1/8 teaspoon allspice
• Pinch of salt and black pepper
• 2 large eggs
• 16 oz (453g) frozen spinach, drained and dried
• 1 sheet puff pastry
• 2 Tablespoons flour
• 1 large egg, beaten for egg wash

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 190ᵒC (375ᵒF).

2. In a small frying pan, sauté yellow onion and garlic cloves on low heat until fragrant and soft. Remove from heat.

3. In a medium bowl, mix together cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, allspice seasoning, salt and pepper, and two eggs.

4. Once mixed well, combine onion, garlic, and spinach with cheese mixture and set aside.

5. Dust a clean work space with flour and roll out sheet of puff pastry. Roll out pastry to be a 30 cm by 30 cm square (12”x12”). Drape the rolled dough over 9 inch pie dish.

6. Spread spinach mixture inside pastry-lined pie dish. Spread corners of the pastry back over top of spinach filling. If they do not reach each other it is okay.

7. Brush egg wash over pastry and place in oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

8. Enjoy!

I don’t know about you, but for my family we can’t enjoy any Greek food without tzatziki! Tonight wasn’t any different. The spinach pastry tasted absolutely FABULOUS with the tzatziki, actually it made it TEN times better. Mom even told me that I may have made the best tzatziki she has ever had. Even better than a restaurant? She said yes!

Spanakopita and tzatziki

Now that is some tzatziki if mine is better than any restaurant grade stuff!

Interested in this fabulous recipe? Just look below!

Ingredients:

• ½ large cucumber, unpeeled
• 1 cup (245g) plain Greek yoghurt
• 4 large garlic cloves, minced
• 2 Tablespoons olive oil
• 1 Tablespoon vinegar
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon ground pepper
• 1 Tablespoon dried dill

Instructions:

1. Grate cucumber and drain through a fine mesh sieve, preferably overnight in the fridge. (I drained it by hand in a half hour and then squeezed the last bits of liquid from a paper towerl)

2. Combine the yoghurt, garlic, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and dill in a large bowl and cover. Refrigerate overnight, (or until needed as I did)

3. Transfer grated cucumber into yoghurt mixture and stir to combine. Serve chilled.

Heaven in a bowl is this.

Anyway, I didn’t quite follow the tzatziki recipe, well I did, I just utilized a whole other yoghurt type. Usually I would prefer to have the basic Greek yoghurt, but I got Bulgarian yoghurt. Have you ever heard of that before? I sure haven’t!

Plain Bulgarian Yoghurt

I got the recipe for the tzatziki recipe from the Wanderlust Kitchen, however the direct link for the recipe can be found here.

It is a real hit and you all should truly try it. You can enjoy tzatziki with bread, pitas, or any specific Greek treats!

I hope you all make this entire dish and enjoy it thoroughly just as we have!

Happy eating!

Brazilian Rice and Beans with Chicken Sausage

Bom día todo o mundo!

I recently realized that I have cooked so many different cuisine types since becoming a food blogger. And I love constantly learning about the different types of cuisines and dishes each country has to offer. I just love trying new dishes!

But today I decided to categorize the tab on my homepage for “international cuisine” into all the cuisine types. So now if you go to the main page and look above at the tabs you will read “appetizers”, “dinner”, “dessert”, and “learning about the chef”, then within the dinner you will find different tabs and that will then go on to different types of tabs within those tabs!

While thinking about all the different types of cuisines I like and am interested in, I then thought of more foods I lust to try. For tonight’s meal I also wanted to keep up with my international way and keep up with the food I’ve had over my travels.

About thirteen years ago my father moved my family to Brazil for a few years where I tried all sorts of great foods and just enjoyed myself. I did have issues at school, but I had some great friends and would enjoy the beach right down the road from our house as well as all the great amounts of food. We lived in the very popular suburb of Ipanema for a while before we had our apartment in Leblon. Both the hotel in Ipanema and the apartment in Leblon were within two blocks from the beach.

View from Balcony while in Ipanema
View from Balcony while in Ipanema
My sister and I in Rio
My sister and I in Rio

Anyway, after we moved from Brazil, I remembered missing pão de queijo, farofa, coxinhas, freijão preto, and my absolute favourite: biscoito de polvilho. Of all those great Brazilian foods, for this evenings meal I tried to make a meal with beans.

I got the recipe from favourite family recipes, though if you would like the direct recipe just click here.

Brazilian rice and beans

I did tweak the recipe some as the original recipe calls for smoked sausage, but as I do not eat red meat or pork I just used plain old chicken sausage. And as good as the original photo on the recipe looked, I will have to say that the meal itself was pretty bland in my opinion.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 chicken sausages, chopped
  • ½ cup (115g) green onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup (210g) basmati rice
  • 2 cups (470ml) chicken broth
  • 1 can (425g) pinto beans
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet sauté sausages, green onions, and garlic in olive oil until onions are soft.

  2. Stir in rice, chicken broth, pinto beans, salt and pepper, and bay leaves and bring to a boil.

  3. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until rice is cooked.

  4. Remove from heat and fluff rice with a fork.

  5. Remove bay leaves and enjoy!

Brazilian Rice and BeansAlthough I wasn’t all too keen on this dish, it was great to enjoy some Brazilian food again. Though I really do miss biscoito de polvinho. The last time I had that was last April when I went to visit my wonderful Brazilian friend in Paris.

Selfie with Biscoito de Polvilho

Amazing treats those things are! I love my friend Sashinha for treating me with those. I do remember finding a store in Amsterdam or Rotterdam that sold these one year and having boughten so much. Loved them!

Anyway, this was our meal for the night and I hope that you all enjoy it. If not try any of the other links for wonderful Brazilian foods that would be a great addition to your list of meals to try!

Happy eating!

Bringing Canada to South Africa one treat at a time!

Ever wanted to go to Canada? I know a lot of people who have dreamt of one day exploring the vast and beautiful country of Canada and believe it or not, I was once like that myself. Although I was briefly there at an age where adults do not remember anything, but that is just the thing, I couldn’t recall it. And because I couldn’t recall it I longed to return at an older age. To explore and enjoy snow.

I only had my first pair of jeans at the age of ten or so. Before that I lived a life in shorts and skorts. So when we moved to Canada, my family and I had to get all warm clothes so we could handle the weather. Especially as it was the very peak of winter where it got up to -18C sometimes.

Anyway I know many South Africans who love the idea of going to Canada but fear the cold. Though honestly, I wouldn’t blame them.

So instead of them venturing to the icy cold country, I thought I would bring some of it to South Africa.

No, I did not get an artificial snow machine though that would have been cool. No instead I made a great Canadian treat that is often enjoyed at weddings and large parties alike. Although these are loved at parties, anyone could go to a grocery store or frozen food store such as M&M’s Meat Shops to buy these treats.

What are they called? Nanaimo bars!

Look at the layers!
Look at the layers!

Nanaimo bars are these extremely sweet treats with a bottom layer of a chocolate cookie base, a middle layer of a vanilla custard, and an upper layer of chocolate and these beautiful things come from the town of Nanaimo in British Columbia. I believe the woman who made these treats entered a competition and won with these things making them the hit of the country! Now they are enjoyed nationwide by everyone.

And this week they were enjoyed worldwide as I made them for my friends and family to enjoy.

Nanaimo Bars

I got the recipe from this adorable blog called I Wash You Dry – how cute is that name? There are a bunch of great recipes on there! The direct link to the recipe can be found here. I did follow everything to a T though I wish I didn’t when it came to the upper level of the Nanaimo Bars. I just struggled like crazy when it came to the chocolate layer. You’ll see later in photos. However below is the recipe:

Ingredients:

Bottom layer

  • ½ cup (115g) margarine, softened
  • 5 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ½ cup (100g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 ½ cups (150g) Digestive cookies
  • ½ cup (64g) walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup (75g) coconut flakes

Middle layer

  • ½ cup (115g) margarine, softened
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla custard powder
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream (I used a vegetarian cream substitute)
  • 2 cups (280g) powder sugar

Upper layer

  • 1 cup (200g) chocolate chips
  • 3 Tablespoons margarine
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream

Instructions:

For crust:

  1. Line tin with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In an oven safe bowl, melt margarine until turned into a complete liquid. In a larger bowl add cocoa, sugar, and vanilla extract. Once margarine is melted, add to cocoa and sugar in bowl and mix well. Whisk in egg and mix until incorporated. Once egg is mixed add crushed cookies, walnuts, and coconut flakes.
  3. Scoop mixture into prepared tin and flatten out. Pop into refrigerator to allow to set.

For custard:

  1. In a large bowl whisk together softened butter, custard powder, and cream until light and fluffy.
  2. Add powdered sugar to custard mixture bit by bit until custard is light and fluffy.
  3. Remove tin from refrigerator and spread custard on crust layer and smooth out. Return tin to fridge to prepare upper layer of Nanaimo bars.

For chocolate:

  1. Melt chocolate, butter, and cream in an oven safe bowl until chocolate is soft. Whisk until melted and smooth. Let cool for 10-15 minutes.

  2. Pour on top of bars and smooth out, chill in fridge until set and cut into small squares.

  3. Store in fridge and enjoy!

So I really hate this top layer. Really really.

Why? Well for some reason the chocolate formed a gross oiliness to it. Like when you are making a soup and the upper layer has an oily layer? The only word I can think of is “vet” this being the Dutch word for fat. Well the upper layer of the Nanaimo bars retained a lot of fat. To the point where after applying the chocolate to the custard layer I had to pat THREE paper towels on the chocolate to absorb all the oil.

Paper towel grooves in chocolate
Paper towel grooves in chocolate
Oil from butter in chocolate
Oil from butter in chocolate

I think the worst thing is that it wasn’t the margarine that did it. I made two Nanaimo bar recipes, one with margarine and the other with unsalted butter. The SAME thing happened with both recipes. I’m not sure what I did differently from the original recipe, but my Nanaimo bars looked gross when not patted down.

Regardless of this issue I had, my Nanaimo bars came out perfectly. I brought them to tea after Pilates this morning and they were thoroughly enjoyed by all. I even got my one friends son to give in to my treats. He who is VERY strict about his diet and exercising. I am very chuffed about that.

If you all are interested in visiting Canada but cannot handle the cold, these Nanaimo bars are the way to handle all! I hope you all enjoy them!

Happy eating!

South African Creole Fusion from a Favoured Cookbook!

I miss the days where we would get fabulous recipes from cook books. Don’t get me wrong though, I love finding recipes online too. It is just that those recipes you tend to find in cook books are usually delightful and wholesome. If they were published in a book, they must be the best of the best! Online you have to dig through millions of recipes before you find one which truly is amazing.

All-Colour Cookbook by Annette Human
All-Colour Cookbook by Annette Human

Well as of late one of my friends has been spoiling me with South African treats of all sorts. A few weeks ago I tried a koeksister which is a little cookie type thing. Last week I got to try a melktert, this being the Afrikaans way of spelling out “milk pie”, however in Dutch it would be spelled as “melktaart”. This took me forever to realize that a tart or pie in Dutch is not the same as it is in Afrikaans. Yet they are pronounced the same.

Afrikaans eh? They really changed Dutch words to make it more their own.

Anyway, my lovely lovely friend who has been introducing me to South African treats also loaned me one of her mama’s cookbooks which was written by a South African woman. Ever heard of Annette Human? No? Well she is a well-known food writer in South Africa! And from reading this cookbook I see why!

For the recipe I made for this evening, this is the blurb she wrote before writing out the recipe:

“The Creole descendants of European colonists in Latin America have developed a distinctive and very flavourful style of cooking. Tomatoes, green peppers, and rice are characteristic ingredients in their recipes – as in this dish. The chicken may be replaced with portions of boerewors.”

For those of you who don’t know boerewors is the Afrikaans spelling of “farmer’s sausage”.  As I do not eat red meat, this is not for me, but my family and friends love it as well as other South African meat treats such as droëwors (droge worst) or in English “dry sausage” and biltong. Biltong is the South African version of beef jerky when simply described to foreigners.

Creole Chicken Casserole Pre-Cooking

So according to that blurb above, the dish I made was a Creole Chicken Casserole. The cookbook I got it from is called the All-Colour Cookbook and it is by Annette Human. If you are interested in the recipe, read below:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (200g) white basmati
  • 1 kg chicken portions (I used 3 thighs and 4 breasts)
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup (125ml) sunflower oil
  • 2 smallish green peppers
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 can (400g) diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Instructions:

  1. Cook rice as directed on packaging. Rinse in a colander under cold running water and drain. Set aside.

  2. Season chicken portions with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Quickly fry a couple of chicken portions at a time in oil until golden brown on both sides. Place chicken in shallow ovenproof dish with a volume of 10 cups (2.5L). Sprinkle rice on top.

  3. Halve and seed the green peppers and cut into strips. Peel the onion and chop roughly. Peel and crush garlic. Place in pot in which the chicken was fried. (Leave just enough oil in pot to braise the vegetables.) Add tomatoes with juices, curry powder, and dried thyme. Cover with lid and braise the vegetables for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. Spoon the vegetables over the rice layer. Pour liquid in after. Cover the container and cook the dish for about 40 minutes at 200ᵒC (390ᵒF) until chicken is tender. Serve with young peas and a beetroot salad.

Serves 6

Creole Chicken Casserole from the All-Colour Cookbook by Annette Human
Creole Chicken Casserole from the All-Colour Cookbook by Annette Human

I think my favourite part about this cookbook is that Annette Human wrote the measurements out in both metric and imperial! I only know and understand imperial measurements in the kitchen which makes it hard for me to follow recipes which need a scale to measure out the grams for every ingredient when following a British recipe. But thankfully this woman thought it out and wrote every ingredient in both grams and cups! What a lifesaver!

Although I did tweak the recipe some (I added an additional pepper as mine were on the small side) I also added more seasoning. And of course as a lover of garlic, I added two more cloves. I’ll include a photo of the original recipe so you can see it without my tweaks.

Creole Chicken Casserole from All-Colour Cookbook by Annette Human
Creole Chicken Casserole from All-Colour Cookbook by Annette Human

This was a pretty good recipe. A little bland for me (thank goodness I added more seasoning!) but I quite enjoyed it!

I know I will try to do some more South African recipes from this book before I give it back!

I hope you all enjoy this recipe!

Happy eating!

It was a Japanese Style Night!

Asian cuisine is the absolute way to go. I mean Asian women are predominately slim and fit, so it must be the cuisine and way of eating it that keeps them that way. Chopsticks are incredibly slimming. Not because you eat the wood but because of how you go about eating your food. One small bite at a time.

Fabulous right? It is said that if you eat your meal slowly you will become full quickly which is likely how Asian women stay so slim.

So I guess we should all be eating sushi for the rest of our lives! Not that I would mind as I love it!

Although sushi is fantastic, so is what I made for last nights meal.

Onigiri is very similar to sushi in the way that it is made of rice and most commonly wrapped around with nori (seaweed), the only difference from sushi is that it’s small while onigiri is usually the size of your palm. Maybe even bigger.

Onigiri

I first encountered onigiri when I lived in Brazil and my Japanese friend brought onigiri to us once for a snack. It was amazing. This little rice ball filled with small slices of nori made my mind whirl. I loved it so much.

Well for last nights meal I didn’t quite make the traditional onigiri ball with plain Japanese rice and seaweed, but went for a different take on it. Mostly because my mom abhors nori and my dad isn’t keen to have any starch in his diet.

I got the recipe to make these protein-packed onigiri balls from BittersweetBlog. Her creation of this treat featured lentils, the most difficult legume to ever make a dish attractive! Though because the lentils did not have to be made into a mush-like consistency, the dish didn’t look as unattractive as any other lentil-filled meal I have ever made.  So that was good! Here is the direct link to the recipe I followed and below will be my re-written recipe.

Onigiri before Forming Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups (300g) sushi rice
  • 2 cups (470ml) water
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup (10g) fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 cups (400g) lentils, rinsed
  • 4 cups (940ml) water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, bring water to boil while at medium heat. Once water is boiling add sushi rice and immediately turn heat to low while covering pot with lid to cook rice. Allow to cook for 15-20 minutes. Once cooked rice should absorb all the water.

  2. While rice is cooking, in a large pot combine lentils and 4 cups water and bring water to a boil. Once at a rapid boil turn down heat until lentils are simmering. Add 2 bay leaves and allow lentils to cook uncovered. Lentils should cook 20-30 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan/wok and add onions to hot oil to sauté. Once onions become translucent and begin to brown ever so slightly on the edges (approx. 10 minutes), add ½ teaspoon of salt and turn heat down. Continue to cook at a low heat stirring occasionally until onions take on a caramelized deep brown color. This should take approximately 30 minutes. Once onions are at desired color remove from heat and add balsamic vinegar and spices. Mix thoroughly and keep aside.

  4. Once lentils are finished cooking, drain excess water and remove bay leaves. Season with salt and keep aside.

  5. When rice and onions are warm enough to touch mix together with lentils and chopped parsley and add additional salt to mixture.

  6. Scoop out about 1/3-1/2 cup of onigiri and press into rounded triangles within your palms. If rice mixture isn’t holding allow to cool further. Or you could place a sheet of nori just beneath your onigiri form and fold the onigiri on your desired shape. Remember that water is necessary to keep nori folded on your onigiri.Onigiri wrapped in Nori

  7. Serve immediately. You can also wrap your onigiri (with and without nori) in plastic wrap to save for another time. Ensure your onigiri is in the fridge to keep firm.

Although this is not the normal onigiri recipe, it came out quite well. I was definitely content but I adore seaweed and rice. All one needs is a little soy sauce and all is good.

We had the onigiri with a Japanese style chicken. This being normal grilled chicken with a soy sauce type liquid poured into the sliced chicken. This sauce contained soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, ginger, and white wine (because we couldn’t find sake). To me the sauce tasted very similar to teriyaki, but not as sweet. It was a unique taste, that’s for sure. The recipe we followed was from the Best Recipe Box, the direct recipe is here. So if you want to do a lentil nori wrapped origini with the chicken you now can!

Final look for Onigiri

I’ve been eating the onigiri all through the morning as a breakfast. Which probably isn’t the best thing for someone, but I am very American in the way that I eat leftovers for breakfast. I’m known to eat pasta, rice, soup, and now onigiri for breakfast. I also like to have cereal and yoghurt for dinner or a late night snack. How odd am I? Oh well, the onigiri was delicious and I hope you all enjoy it too!

And if you are wondering, I ended up making sixteen onigiri rolls, most with seaweed but five were plain rice and lentil onigiri rolls. Though the original recipe said 24 rolls can be made.

Anyway, happy eating everyone!

Empanadas for Days!

Last week I spent my time in the Netherlands and as my Pilates classmates say “got soft”, they’re right. I didn’t eat all that healthy and didn’t feel guilty about it either. My week was spent gobbling stroopwafels! How awful right?! For those of you who do not know Dutch, a stroopwafel directly translates to a syrup waffle, this being two wafers filled with a syrup in between. When you are Dutch or have lived in the country for several years, you will know how heavenly these things are. Especially when you have been without them for three months or longer (as I have).

But because I have been in the Netherlands all of last week I didn’t have a kitchen to cook in so I mostly ate out or got salads from our local grocery store.

So I thought I’d write about a breakfast I had made for my Pilates class one Tuesday just two and a half weeks ago. I’ve been attending Pilates for about two and a half months now and love every minute of it. I’m getting fit while enjoying the company (all of which are women). I’ve also started to see a change in my body (before I went to NL that is), I could even get into a pair of shorts that were a struggle just this June! But the other week they fit perfectly on my problem area (my thighs). It felt great!

Anyway, I spoke to my class about the fact that I had made chicken empanadas the other day and they were really interested in them so I thought “why not make some vegetarian ones for these guys!” as half the class is a vegetarian.

So Tuesday I came to class with a tub of empanadas and little ketchup packets I had collected from some fast food joint!

Empanadas

I can honestly tell you that everyone loved them! My Pilates teacher even sat down with me and gobbled three or four! That’s how much they loved them! Good thing as I never had made these before! Would have been sad if my empanadas didn’t turn out to be a hit.

I got the recipe from here, though I didn’t follow this recipe for the pastry.

Ingredients:

For Pastry:

  • 2 ¼ cup (350g) plain flour
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch baking powder
  • ¾ cup (145g) margarine, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup (100ml) lukewarm water

For Filling:

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 cup (200g) sweet potato, cooked and mashed
  • 1 cup (172g) canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 5 Tablespoons green onions, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

Instructions:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients for the pastry and mix well, slowly add margarine and mix until combined. Begin to mix in egg and combine until slightly wet. If pastry is not wet enough for your liking, pour little amounts of water at a time to moisten up and continue to knead dough. Wrap in clingfilm and place in refrigerator to set (for 30 minutes). Meanwhile place sweet potatoes in pot of water and turn heat to high to allow water to begin to boil. Watch pot to ensure water doesn’t boil over. 

  2. Once thirty minutes have been and gone, check potatoes to see if they are soft, if so drain water and mash in same pot that you made them in with a potato masher. 

  3. Combine sweet potato with cumin and cayenne powder until flavoursome. Then add black beans, green onions, cilantro, chili powder, and salt. Mix well. 

  4. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F)

  5. Remove dough from fridge and take off clingfilm and roll out small balls of dough and then flatten them out with a rolling pin or use your hands (as I do). For each flattened roll of pastry, fill with a teaspoon and a half of filling. Fold closed and fold one edge over the other. Then crimp closed with a fork for a nice design. 

  6. Place on prepared cookie sheet (covered with wax paper) and continue making empanadas, rolling out, filling, folding, crimping, etc. 

  7. Once cookie sheet is filled with empanadas, lightly brush with egg wash and pop into oven to cook. 

  8. Bake at 200°C for 16 minutes or until lightly browned. 

  9. Remove and allow to cool and continue process until all filling and pastry is used. 

  10. Enjoy!

Empanadas for Class

It is a shame, I do not have a photo of what the inside of the empanada looked like, but it did taste quite good.

I’ve made empanadas a few times now and I can say that every time I make them I have much more pastry than I do filling, but this time around it all fit perfectly! I was very impressed.

Anyway, if you are a fan of latin cuisine but find yourself more along the lines of a vegetarian, then this may be the perfect recipe for you! It is delicious, full of vitamins and iron, and just overall good for you! Plus I think they make a fabulous breakfast for when you are on the go.

I hope you all enjoy the recipe and have a wonderful weekend!

Buen provecho!

Savory Argentine Treats

¡Qué maravilloso!

I made the best food ever. Food that I grew up on. There are many foods that are popular in South America. Foods that can be found in several Latin American countries, foods like empanadas, arepas, rice and beans, etc.

But I know certain foods as being from one country. To me arepas are only Venezuelan. Arepas con queso blanco – yum! While empanadas are best made in the province of Salta in Argentina. Though the province of Tucumán holds an annual National Empanada Festival, neat right? But according to my Argentine friend Nico, there is a dispute about where the best are from, is it Salta, Tucumán, or Buenos Aires? When I lived in Buenos Aires my teacher informed me that it was Salta so I will stick to that fact. ¡Gracias Paola!

I remember seeing people dressed as giant empanadas dancing downtown in Buenos Aires. Poor guys in those suits in the middle of summer, but the guys sure caught people’s attention to visit the empanada restaurant.

Anyway, I decided to give empanadas a go!

 Trial Empanadas

I’m glad I did it!

I got the recipe from here, but I tweaked it some.

Ingredients:

For Pastry:

  • 2 ¼ cup (350g) plain flour
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch baking powder
  • ¾ cup (145g) butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup (100ml) lukewarm water

For Filling:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 (200g) chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • 8 green olives, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. First make the pastry. Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir in butter and one of the eggs and mix until combined well. Gradually add some lukewarm water if your pastry is too dry. Wrap your pastry in plastic wrap and all to firm up in fridge for thirty minutes.

  2. To make the filling heat oil in small frying pan and add onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes, then add garlic and bell pepper and cook for an additional couple minutes or until soft and aromatic.

  3. Stir in tomato paste, paprika powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper and mix well. Add olives and chicken, don’t forget to season with salt and pepper. Allow flavours to combine for two minutes. If chicken mixture is too dry add a splash of water and set aside to cool.

  4. Preheat oven to 200ᵒC (392ᵒF) and begin to roll out the pastry to 3mm (1/8 inch) and cut out circles of approximately 14cm (5 ½ inch) diameter. Divide the filling between the pastry circles and moisten edges with water to allow to stick.

  5. Fold the pastry over to enclose the filling and pinch the edges together, use a fork to press the edges tightly together. Transfer to a baking sheet and brush with milk to glaze. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

Easiest recipe ever! Except I made my pastry with both eggs that were stated in the original recipe and instead of rolling the pastry and shaping with a circular tool, I just pressed everything together with my hands. I didn’t use additional water or milk either as my pastry was already too eggy/oily.

I can honestly tell you that I hate English recipes. The original recipe comes from a website that ends in .co.uk and it bothers me that it says you’ll need two eggs but instead you only use one! What is the point of that other egg!? The original recipe doesn’t even use the other egg for an egg wash before baking it! They use milk! UGH!! I always have issues with English recipes!

Anyway my pastry is just a bit too brittle, but the flavours are all there. Tastes just like Argentina! I know my sister and father are jealous (neither of them are here to experience my empanadas)!

Empanadas de Pollo

Even with my little mishap, this came out fantastic!

Only thing missing in our house are medialunas (another Argentine pastry)! But those are a little more difficult to make so I may try those another day. Maybe when my sister is in the area. She is the Argentine after all (well, she was born in Argentina).

If you end up making this recipe I hope you enjoy it just as much as my mother and I have!

¡Buen provecho!

P.S.

I know this post had nothing to do with my Pumpkin Everything month, so I thought I’d add my new friend to the mix.

Meet Dr. Rockskin, the Rock’n Roll Pumpkin:

Dr. RockskinDr. Rockskin

I’ve never named a jack’o lantern before, but I thought to do so for a friend.

Anyway, enjoy the food and the remainder of your day!

Here’s a Pilaf for Meatless Monday

I had planned to make dinner at three in the afternoon, but you know what happened? I couldn’t for the life of me find the bay leaf! And I needed that bay leaf! I searched high and low for it and came up empty. So instead I had to wait for 5 o’clock to roll around so I could ask mom where she had hidden it.

Well when she came she too could not find the packet of bay leaves. It is as though they have gone missing!

Well luckily dinner is super-fast and easy tonight, with our without the bay leaf! So I just started dinner at five, two hours later than I had hoped. But I can tell you I did make some homemade raita at three-ish. That can hint off the theme for tonight’s meal.

But if you are not so culturally experienced in cuisines, tonight’s theme of a meal comes from India! And you know what? It fits with Meatless Monday!

Indian Pilaf with Raita

I love Indian cuisine. So much that I told my parents the other day that I should fall in love with an Indian so that his mama and I can be in the kitchen together so I can learn proper traditional Indian food. Sounds good does it not? I guess I should go down to Durban for that. Apparently that is where all the Indians are located in South Africa.

Anyway, I got the recipe from here, but pretty much followed the recipe except for the fact that I didn’t have a bay leaf. This fact really annoys me.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cup (250g) Jasmine rice
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • 1 cup (170g) frozen assorted vegetables, thawed
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small tomato, chopped small
  • 1 Large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green chili, chopped finely
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • Juice from one lemon
  • A handful of fresh cilantro, washed and chopped

Spices

  • Salt to taste
  • ½ teaspoon Tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon mango, baked
  • ½ teaspoon Garam Masala

Instructions:

  1. Wash and soak rice in water for a half hour, while soaking add all spices excluding cumin and Garam Masala together in a small bowl and set aside.

  2. In a large pan, heat oil and cook cumin until its aromatic (10 seconds)

  3. Add minced garlic, ginger, and green chilies to oil and cumin mix, fry for a minute and then add chopped onion and cook until lightly caramelized.

  4. Once onions are lightly browned, add spices in small bowl to mixture as well as thawed vegetables. Mix and cover and cook for five minutes.

  5. Add chickpeas and chopped tomato to mix and combine.

  6. Now add strained rice and 1 ½ cups water to mixture and gently fold in. Allow mixture to begin to boil at medium heat and cover and turn to simmer. Cook rice for 10-12 minutes or until rice is cooked completely.

  7. Once rice is cooked, add lemon juice and stir lightly. Turn heat off and add Garam Masala to the mix.

  8. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and raita to lessen bite.

  9. Enjoy!

Pretty easy right? Yum yum. But do you know how to make raita? If not here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • ½ cucumber, grated
  • 1 cup (250ml) Greek yoghurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon, Garam Masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

Instructions:

  1. Grate half a cucumber (with skin on) and press until dry with paper towels. Once drained place in a small bowl.

  2. Add minced garlic and yoghurt and mix thoroughly.

  3. Sprinkle Garam Masala and mix well.

  4. Once ready to serve, sprinkle chili on top and enjoy!

So the recipe for the raita I got from here, but it didn’t have garlic in it and well I LOVE garlic (plus isn’t raita meant to have that spicy kick that garlic makes?) so I added that key ingredient.

If you checked out the original recipe for the pilaf you would have noticed that it called for Mango Powder. If you were anything like me you would have wondered what the hell that was. Well I googled to see how to make it and was pretty bummed to find out it takes five days to create. BUT if you are interested in creating it click here to find the recipe.

Vegan Indian PilafIf you aren’t a fan of spicy I would opt out from adding chili powder to the raita, otherwise follow all that is above. It should make a spectacular meal that you will very much enjoy!

I know I did.

So if you make this meal I hope you do enjoy.

As they say in Hindi:

अपने भोजन का आनंद लें or

Apanē bhōjana kā ānanda lēṁ