Tag Archives: pork

The G20 Series: Saudi Arabia

17 Jun

by Stephanie Dickison

Look, I’m going to be straight up with you. I don’t know a lot about Saudi Arabian cooking.

It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that it hasn’t really made it onto our restaurant scene here in Toronto, unless you count hummus, which is carried at mainstream grocery stores, and falafels, which is one of our city’s latest trends in fast food.

Getting  qahwa – Arabic coffee (from the Bedouins), sometimes called “The Wine of Islam” – though, may prove a bit more of a challenge.  I don’t know of one place that carries it.  As you’ll see, it’s  a little more complicated than your regular pot of joe, but a very important part of the culture.

And talking about drinks, there are no bars in Saudi Arabia because The Qu’uran states that alcohol is strictly forbidden.  You can get alcoholic-free beer and cocktails at hotels, where “bars” are located, but we both know that not being able to have a glass of wine or beer, or at least the option, will change how you think about dinner.

Being a Muslim country and the only one in the world to adhere its laws to based on The Qu’uran, pork too, is not allowed.

I am going in search of Saudi Arabian food here in the city.  In the meantime, you can read about the fascinating dishes they serve in Lyn Maby’s Food from Saudi Arabia.

The G20 Series: Mexico

13 Jun

by Stephanie Dickison

Funny, I was just thinking along the same lines as Chris – how the hell do you sum up an entire country’s food in a mere 3-4 paragraphs?!

You can’t.  I can’t, anyway, so I thought long and hard about what sets Mexican food apart for me from the rest of the crowd (I had to fight getting up in the middle of the night to make tacos).

Here’s what I came up with:

Mexican food is perhaps one of the most fun, messy foods to eat.

Tacos and tacitos drip hot sauce and juices from pork and chicken,  enchilada sauce bursts forth from your entree, and ceviches blot your napkin with lemon or lime juice.

Salsas are perhaps one of the messiest condiments, with the water from the tomato or tomatillo and citrus juices making it sometimes difficult to get on your tortilla chip or breadstick.  And when your  fajitas, quesadillas and tacos have salsa on them, just  know that it might take a few tries to get the hang of it and not have it end up on your shirt front.

The good thing about salsa is it is simple to make an outstanding one as long as you have fresh ingredients on hand, and because you don’t have to cook it, it can be made quickly.  The base ingredients include tomatoes or tomatillos, cilantro, onion, garlic, citrus juice and hot peppers.  Some pros say salt and pepper too, but I’ve never done that.  (Hmm, I’m going to try that next time….) I like to chop and mix it all by hand, but many people use their food processor.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is the making it fresh always trumps a store-bought one. And this way, you can make it as hot or mild as you like.  The best way to add heat to your salsa is to remember that:

1.  the smaller the chili, the hotter it is

2. add a little at a time and taste as you go

The other thing I’ve learned is, salsas vary in Mexico, depending on the region.   Northern Mexico is known for its hearty grilled beef dishes, so you want something vibrant to stand up against the heaviness.

In The Cuisine of Puebla by Karen Hursh Graber, Northern Mexican “Drunken” Salsa is the perfect accompaniment.  And she says if you don’t have tequila, an extra 1/4 cup of beer will do just fine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 mulato chile, seeded and deveined, soaked in hot water until soft, drained
  • 3 pasilla chiles, seeded and deveined, soaked in hot water until soft, drained
  • 3 large garlic cloves, roasted on a comal or griddle, then peeled
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 3 tomatoes, roasted on a comal or griddle
  • ½ cup beer
  • 2 tablespoons tequila
  • 1/3 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar or piloncillo
  • salt to taste

Preparation:

Grind the chiles, garlic, onion and tomato in a molcajete or blender. Add the beer, tequila, pineapple juice and sugar and blend to combine ingredients. Add salt to taste.

Made a few hours ahead of serving, this salsa develops a deeper flavor. Makes 2 cups

If you want to make something from the South, use a smoked jalapeño called Chipotle.  The Aztecs who lived in central and southern Mexico from the 14th to 16th Centuries, came up with the idea.

The only other thing I would suggest is a lot of napkins.

You’re going to need ’em.

The G20 Series: Brazil

12 Jun

Let’s face it, trying to come up with a summary of the cuisines of entire countries in a few short paragraphs is a bit of a Sysiphean task. Nations are complicated places, with regional cuisines that are sometimes foreign even to other parts of the country.

Which brings me to Brazil. The largest country in South America – and future host of both the World Cup and the Olympics – Brazil is diverse both in its geography and its people, and therefore its cuisines. Like Argentina, Brazil produces and eats a lot of beef. Unfortunately, cattle are responsible for the majority of deforestation in the country. Still, there’s more to Brazil than beef.

(And, for that matter, coffee.)

Considered the national dish of the country, feijoada is a stew of black beans and meats. You can make it the old fashioned way by including pork ears, tails and/or feet, but if your tastes are less adventurous, you can stick to sausages, pork tenderloin and bacon. I confess I have not tried this, but if anyone wants a volunteer for tasting their feijoada, you can reach me through this blog!

My own experience with Brazilian food is limited, a fact that I promise to address soon by visiting one of our city’s many Brazilian restaurants. A friend of mine who grew up in Brazil, and who has taught cooking classes for university students with me, once showed me how a bean salad can be made more delicious by adding hearts of palm. She also said she very often cooked with a pressure cooker when she was in Brazil, but when she moved to Canada, she had trouble even finding one to buy.

While cheering Brazil all the way to the World Cup final (my prediction, at least according to my office pool), try some moequeca capixaba (a fish stew); some fried plantain soup; farofa (a toasted manioc meal); or even pan de queijo, a Brazilian cheese bread. And save some for me.

Review: Fresh Food Fast

1 Jun

freshfoodfastCooking Light’s Fresh Food Fast: 5 ingredient, 15 minute recipes

Edited by Mary Kay Culpepper

Review by Chris Garbutt

My wife and I have a new game  – I pick a cookbook, and I have to cook any recipe she chooses from it. When I gave her Fresh Food Fast, she had her work cut out for her. There are more than 250 recipes, which all look easy and delicious.

So, would it be the Turkey Burgers with Cranberry-Peach Chutney? Or the Scallops in Buttery Wine Sauce? Pork Medallions with Spicy Pomegranate-Blueberry Reduction?

Wait a minute. I didn’t notice that one before. That last recipe has both of our favourite fruits (pomegranates – hers, blueberries – mine). Well, some other time.

My wife settled on the Halibut with Quick Lemon Pesto, served with Grilled Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper with Corn. Our fish place didn’t have halibut, though, so we went with black cod. And we had run out of propane so our grill pan had to replace the barbecue. This was a quick and tasty meal, served on a weeknight, with little cleanup. My kind of meal.

I will say that very few of these recipes have the titular five ingredients (most have eight or nine). And some of the “ingredients” feel a little like cheating – calling for Parmesan and roasted garlic dressing “such as Newman’s own” doesn’t seem fair. I mean who just happens to have that exact kind of dressing in their fridge?

On top of that, I suggest that you never believe a cookbook that offers you 15-minute recipes, unless the instructions end with “remove from microwave.”

Still, our meal, while not ready in 15, was still on the table in less than a half-hour, and I can’t argue with the taste. Fresh food fast, indeed. This one is destined to be a regular on the kitchen shelf.