Saturday, October 31, 2015

Hummus Tofu Pasta

Happy Halloween! Today I am sharing an easy recipe because I happened to use a cute Halloween coloring as a prop.
This is a really easy recipe I came up with just using leftovers. I realized I had plenty of pasta, but I didn't really have any sauce ingredients, or so I thought. But I managed to make something out of basically nothing again.
I cooked some multigrain fusili pasta. Meanwhile, I seared some tofu cubes in a little oil until crisp. Then I mixed together a little leftover hummus and red pepper dip I had, added some garlic powder, onion salt, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, olive oil, and milk. I heated this up and tossed it into the pasta, then tossed in the tofu. It worked. It was a flavorful sauce enough to coat the pasta and made a quick weeknight meal. Just round out the meal with some vegetables and dessert of course. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Galloping Horses

Galloping Horses
1 ripe pineapple, peeled and cubed
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons peanut butter
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon pure cane sugar

In a large frying pan, heat the oil then sauté the shallots until browned. Stir in the peanut butter, soy sauce, and sugar. Allow to cool slightly. Place a spoonful on each pineapple cube.
I am not sure exactly why this concoction is called galloping horses but it is, and it is different and tasty.
I went a step further and added to my galloping horses. The base is a piece of mung been cake, followed by banana erccherry, the galloping horses, and a crumble of homemade paneer cheese. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Second South Asian Buffet

Our second South Asian buffet was the biggest yet. So big I could not get every dish in the picture (we couldn't even fit every dish on the table). However, I will list all the dishes here.
Hot Noodle Bowl with flank steak and spiced broth
Boiled Eggs poached in tea
Shrimp toast
Chicken Skewers
Pork Satay
Peanut Sauce
Yogurt Sauce
Spring Rolls
Tom Yum Goong Soup
Chicken Korma
Spinach and Ham Soup
Galloping Horses
Bananas Erccherry
Paneer Cheese
Mung Bean Cake
Chicken and Rice
Really spicy pork stew
Mango Lassi
Naan bread

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Peanut Soup

Peanut Soup
1/2 large white onion, finely diced
2 large stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, finely diced
1 red pepper, finely diced
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced
1 red chili pepper, diced
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups vegetable broth
3 cups coconut milk
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
sliced green onions, for garnish
shelled peanuts, for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the vegetables and allow to sweat (no color) until softened slightly. Stir in the lemongrass, chili, and cornstarch. Stir in remaining ingredients, Bring to a boil, then simmer lightly until thickened and vegetables are softened. You can make this thicker or thinner by reducing further or adding more broth.

If you haven't tried peanut soup, you definitely should! It may not sound the most appetizing, but if you are a peanut butter lover, you will love this savory take on it. It is filling and leftovers make a nice sauce as well. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

South Asian Buffet

naan bread
sweet and sour pork on rice
spicy noodles

spicy beef

spicy dish with vegetables. chicken, and noodles

Monday, October 26, 2015

Best Use Of Leftovers

cheese plate with grilled pineapple
It's slightly difficult to believe, but the day we were simply using leftovers from the fridge and using up ingredients, no international destination theme, turned out to be the biggest and best buffet day yet.
roast duck over pasta
duxelle burgers on pita with cheese
sweet potato and duck pierogies
Featured today we had sliced halloumi and queso fresco cheese with sweet grilled pineapple, mussels, a roast duck over rotini pasta with an eggplant sauce, burgers made from duxelles on homemade pita bread with cheese, a dessert of homemade pistachio pudding with cream cheese whipped cream and blueberry compote, sweet potato duck pierogies, pizza made with leftover vegetables, seafood chowder, dip and chips, and nut pudding dessert. 
pistachio pudding with cream cheese and blueberry compote

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Humitas (Ecuadorian Tamales)
6 dried corn husks, soaked in cold water for at least two hours
2 cups corn kernels
2 Tablespoons chopped white onion
1/2 cup oil
3 egg yolks
1/2 - 3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
3 egg whites, beaten until stiff

Purée the corn and onion together in a food processor, then add in remaining ingredients except for egg yolks. Mixture should be fairly stiff and not runny, add more cornmeal if needed. Fold in the egg whites. At this point, the mixture can be chilled until later (this helps firm it up as well).

Place about 1/4 cup of filling near the bottom of each corn husk, then fold up (fold edges in, fold bottom in, then fold top over). Secure with twine or with a skewer if desired.
Steam for about 45 minutes until filling is firm and cheese is melted. Serve with hot pepper sauce.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Second Caribbean Buffet

pepper and tomato dip with corn bread
Some prominent flavors of the Caribbean/Latin America area include corn, plantains, peppers, tomatoes, and cheese. To be honest it was far too much corn for me - cornbread, corn humitas, cornmeal in tamales, corn in salsa, etc. We already put corn and corn by products in everything (corn meal, corn syrup, ground corn fillers, etc.). Although fresh corn on the cob is definitely a different experience.

humitas (Ecuadorian tamales) with hot pepper sauce
plantains prepared three ways - fried, baked, and twice fried

miniature tacos with beef, salsa, cheese, sour cream, mole sauce
fresh salsa

spinach and cheese tamales with tamarind dipping sauces

Friday, October 23, 2015

Tamarind Balls

Tamarind Balls
tamarid paste (no seeds)
granulated (white) sugar
macadamia nuts

Knead as much sugar into the tamarind paste as needed until consistency is thick and no more sugar can be kneaded in, it should taste slightly sweet but still sour and tamarind-flavored. Roll into balls, placing a macadamia nut in the center and on top, if desired.

Tamarind is a sticky, sour-flavored fruit with a unique taste. It is kind of reminiscent of dates, but not as sweet. It is often seen in Asian recipes.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Caribbean Buffet

tamarind candy balls

black fruit cake with caramel coconut custard and rum-soaked fruit

sweet potato cake



scallop ceviche


Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Khoshaf (Dried Fruit Compote)
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup dried black currants
3/4 cup pitted prunes
water to cover
1/3 cup sugar
zest and juice of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon each: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves
Cover the dried fruits with the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer until fruit is softened and juices thicken. 
Chill well before serving, compote will thicken further and become sweeter.
Serve with bread or as a dessert sauce.

I really like this compote and could eat it by the spoonful. It is not too sweet, so could be used for both savory and dessert items. It keeps well too. If you don't want to use sugar, use honey, maple syrup or molasses instead for a slightly different flavor, and feel free to mix up the fruits and spices; no need to be exact! It's also very good if you add some chopped nuts to it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Second Middle Eastern Buffet

Here is our second day of middle eastern fare. Unfortunately I do not have an aerial shot of the full buffet table, but I will picture each individual dish. Our buffet was relatively small today, but still very tasty. Dominant flavors were garlic, spice, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and nuts. The food was lighter and refreshing. Today we had a dried fruit and nut baklava with a spicy sweet syrup and figs, a halloumi cheese omelette, a lamb stew with onions and tomatoes on rice, pita bread with two types of baba ganoush - one with parsley and the other with chives, savory pancakes, and a saffron rice with toasted pine nuts and tahini crusted monkfish. 
Halloumi Omelette


pita and baba ganoush 
savory pancakes
saffron rice with tahini monkfish

Monday, October 19, 2015


Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper And Walnut Dip)
one pound red bell peppers, roasted until blackened
1/2 cup walnuts
2 Tablespoons bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red chili paste
salt and pepper
Place the hot peppers in a plastic bag and allow to sweat for ten minutes or so. Then peel off the skin and remove seeds and core (sweating them in the bag helps the skin come off easier. An ice water bath works well for this too). Process with the walnuts, then add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Chill for at least two hours for flavors to blend. Serve with bread or crisps of any kind, or vegetables or meat. It also makes a good sauce base for pastas and pizzas, though that's not the same type of cuisine. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Middle Eastern Buffet

soft bread and hummus
From left to right: Falafel, Dried fruit compote, Roasted red pepper and walnut dip, Crisp whole wheat flatbread, Lentil stew, Naan bread with cucumber yogurt dip, Baklava, Lamb burgers, Fish omelette, Hummus, Mushroom triangles with sweet dip, Chicken and rice, Duxelles, Soft white breads.
fish omelette
chicken and rice
I enjoyed this buffet as a change from the heavy buffets we have been eating, loaded with cream and butter. Today was full of homemade flatbreads, beans and lentils, garlic, lemon, and cumin flavors, nuts, and vegetables. Lighter, healthier, and extremely flavorful fare.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Leftovers Day

Some days, we don't make a big buffet. Some days we have research days to learn about the cuisine of new regions so we can plan our meals and dishes, find recipes, and gather ingredients. So some days, we use up any leftovers in the fridge to make a buffet out of that for lunch. Sometimes it is as simple as heating up leftover dishes and sometimes we make something new out of ingredients we are trying to use up. Nonetheless, sometimes these turn out to be the best buffets, and they certainly are not lacking in food and variety. Here is our first leftover day.

Clockwise from 12:00: cheese and tomato dip made fresh, baked oysters with spinach and lemon made fresh, barbecue-glazed ham to use up the ham, cracker, crab and garlic béchamel bake to use up the crab, sautéed zucchini to use up zucchini, leftover bean stew, fresh made pasta from leftovers using leftover cream sauce, and cucumber cream salad in the center. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Charlotte Russe Malakoff Au Chocolat

Here is the dessert I decided to make for the second European buffet. I wanted to do a dessert (of course, I would do a dessert everyday but I figure I should learn to do some savory foods as well and expand beyond my comfort zone, plus we have two days in each region), and I wanted to do something not so simple. Something extravagant that I had never done before. And what better for a dessert than something classical French.

I settled on making a Charlotte, something I had never made, seen, or eaten in person. For those unfamiliar, a Charlotte is a dessert, often classified as a cake, trifle, or icebox cake. There are, of course much like anything, many variations on this dessert. It consists of a base, either cookie, cake or bread used for lining the mold, and may also contain more layers of this. The filling is typically a mousse, custard, or gelatin. Charlottes may be decorated with fruit, additional cookies, chocolate, whipped cream, nuts, and more. There are several famous types of Charlottes. A Charlotte Russe, invented by Marie-Antoine Carme and named for famous royals, consists of Bavarian cream and ladyfingers; whereas a Charlotte Royale is lined with swiss roll instead.
I did not choose to do an exact, classical Charlotte version, but I got the base of my recipe from "The Art of French Cooking" book by Julia Child, so I figured it would be pretty authentic and successful.

I choose to use ladyfingers as my outside lining for the mold, a chocolate spongecake for the base, and Malakoff au chocolate for the filling, which is a chocolate almond mousse, but I substituted hazelnuts instead (because it reminds me of nutella). I decorated my Charlotte with chocolate whipped cream and dipped the ladyfingers in dark chocolate on one end and white chocolate on the other end.

My Charlotte did not turn out exactly as I had envisioned (just search the internet for pictures of 'Charlotte cake'. The main issue was the ladyfinger batter - I don't think the egg whites were quite stiff enough as the batter was too thin too pipe into the classic ladyfinger shape, so I ended up having to just spread it onto a sheet pan, bake it, then slice into rectangles. It doesn't give the same form of a classical Charlotte, but the taste is equivalent and I think my presentation is nice nevertheless.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Second Western Europe Buffet

Here we have in the back row: Bolognese stuffed peppers, Crab and champ bake with spinach vinagrette, Cucumber salad with creamy vinaigrette, Eggplant parmesan with ham, Blue cheese and potato fritters with sour cream, Lobster bisque.
Front row: Chocolate hazelnut charlotte, Saffron risotto with seared scallops.

Let's see here; the crab and champ bake has cream, the cucumber salad has cream, the eggplant parmesan sauce has cream, the lobster bisque has lots of cream, the charlotte has lots of cream.

Every dish here has butter aside from the cucumber salad.
The crab and champ bake has cheese, the eggplant parmesan has cheese, the fritters have cheese, the risotto has cheese.

What am I getting at here? This region is heavy on high-fat dairy products, cream, butter, and cheese. It leaves you feeling heavy and makes for high fat meals that stick with you all day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Knödel are German potato dumplings. I have had the real thing twice in Germany, and was even shown how to make them. For some reason though, I just cannot seem to replicate them in the same way. Mine always turn out fine, just not as good. These dumplings are made with half mashed and half shredded potatoes for their texture, as well as some potato flour for binding. They can be stuffed with croutons, meat, or vegetables. I made my own breadcrumb-like filling. 

4 large russet baking potatoes
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup potato flour
1 Tablespoon salt
2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
2 Tablespoons chopped chives
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon mustard
Peel the potatoes, then cut two into small cubes and boil until tender. Drain, then allow to stand for a few minutes until dry. Shred the remaining two potatoes, place in a dish towel and squeeze the water out of them.
Combine all ingredients and mix well with your hands until it begins to stick together. Form into twelve balls. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of each, ensuring it is completely enclosed. 

FILLING: Mix all together well with your hands until it clumps together, then toast mixture briefly, stirring constantly, in a frying pan over low heat.

Gently simmer (do not boil or they will fall apart) the dumplings in salted water for about 15 minutes until tender. Drain, then serve smothered in sauce. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Western Europe Buffet

cucumber shrimp salad
From left to right: White chocolate crème brulée with shortbread cookies; Rice and scallops; Potato, leek, and mussel bisque; Lobster with beurre blanc; Lobster pasta with mussels and tarragon lemon cream sauce; Breaded pork schnitzel with fried potatoes; Pan-fried haddock and calamari with garlic lemon mayonnaise, German potato dumplings with creamy mushrooms sauce; Curried mussels; Duck à l'orange; Beef stroganoff with rice; Shrimp and cucumber salad. 
These dishes come from France, Germany, the British Isles, and surrounding area. 

lobster pasta
I thought this was the best buffet yet. I really enjoyed every dish here, and some were just outstanding. The white chocolate crème brulée was liquid gold but very rich and sweet and the shortbread were probably the best I ever had. The bisque was very tasty and the beurre blanc was heavenly. The schnitzel and potatoes were so tasty and done well, and the fish was also cooked well, with a delicious mayonnaise to accompany it. The dumplings were a bit softer in texture than I had hoped but the sauce was so good. The duck was tender, moist, and juicy, the stroganoff sauce yummy, and the salad refreshing.
white chocolate crème brulée and shortbread cookies

duck à l'orange
One complaint I have about this style of cuisine is it tends to rely a lot on butter, cream, and salt for flavor. These are some key cooking ingredients, especially for classic cuisine, but they are also not very nutritious and leave you feeling very heavy and full. You can't eat too much of anything, and I am looking forward to exploring other cuisines which use different ingredients for flavor.