Global Cuisine

Chicken Enchiladas Suizas

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by Joseph Erdos

ImageSince I love pretty much all Mexican food, it would be hard for me to pick a favorite, but I particularly love any dish poured over with salsa verde, made of tomatillos. This fresh, slightly tart, and bright green sauce is so aromatic and flavorful, that you can't help but think of Mexico. Sometimes, though it's hard to differentiate between authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex recipes. Many foods that are popular in American culture are interpretations of Mexican foods. Just think of nachos, burritos, and chili. But no matter the actual origin of these foods, they all taste great due to the familiar Mexican flavors.

My favorite dish, enchiladas Suizas, isn't entirely Mexican either. But it's served at Mexican restaurants and is for all its worth considered authentic. As the story goes, Swiss immigrants brought their love of dairy products along with them to Mexico, where they opened dairies and began producing cheeses like the ones they knew back home. Somewhere along the line, the traditional dish of enchiladas, made with either red or green salsa, was reinterpreted using the Swiss cheese (Suizas means Swiss). The dish consists of corn tortillas wrapped around filling, then layered in a casserole, poured over with salsa verde, and covered with cheese. It's Mexican home-cooked comfort food at its best.

Matt Armendariz' Sopaipillas

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by Matt Armendariz

sopapaillas.jpgThere are just some things that instantly take me back to my childhood. Sopaipillas do that to me every time. Made by my grandmother, the tender warm pillows of fried dough were sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and drizzled with honey and always disappeared within minutes. She would encourage us to eat them immediately while they were still warm, but it was always said with a wink in her eye – she knew we couldn’t keep our hands off them until there was an empty plate of grease-laden cinnamon-scented crumbs.

My grandmother was the best cook I have ever known (next to my mom, of course!). She was in the kitchen every day and her way with food was astonishing, no matter what she prepared.  But unlike her rice and beans, sopaipillas were for special events (as were her bunuelos, too). It was usually Christmas or New Year’s Eve when she would make dough and fry it in her cast iron skillet, and I always wondered why we had to wait so long. To a child eleven months might as well be an eternity.

Traveling the world you’re bound to find various versions of hot-oil-meets-dough desserts, whether it be beignets, youtiao, malasadas, loukoumades or gulab jamun.  Unfortunately I adore every single one of them. But sopaipillas top my list, and not just because of their familial significance but also because they are among the most basic of all fried dough desserts. A very simple dough puffs up in the hot oil in a matter of minutes, and when drizzled with honey it’s pure nirvana.

Chickpea Curry

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by Joseph Erdos

ImageChickpeas are among the most ancient and versatile legumes. Originating from the Middle East long before Christ, chickpeas eventually spread throughout Asia and Europe and have been a part of our diets for milennia. Popular chickpea dishes include hummus and falafel from the Middle East, roasted ceci from Italy, and besan ladoo and chana masala from India. Chickpeas can be cooked whole from dried beans, eaten fresh from the pod, dried and ground into flour, or puréed. One of my favorite Indian sweets is besan ladoo, which uses chickpea flour to create the buttery and sugary balls enjoyed as a Diwali festival dessert.

One of the easiest and most loved Indian chickpea dishes is stew. Indian chana masala is a flavorful vegetarian curry of chickpeas with a wonderful blend of Eastern spices. Indians hold chickpeas in high regard and the bean is considered to be the most widely used legume in the subcontinent. Vegetarians especially appreciate chickpeas for their nutritional value as they are high in protein and fiber. But even if you aren't a vegetarian, you too can enjoy this chickpea curry. Whether you eat it as a main dish or a side to pair with meat, this dish is completely versatile. It's easy to love and most certainly worthy of having seconds.

Fragrant Peanut-Lime Noodles

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by Cathy Pollak

ImageWhile I was staring aimlessly into the cupboard the other night, looking for my daily dinner inspiration, I came across four jars of peanut butter. I had crunchy, creamy, smooth and natural. The point was I needed to do something with them. Peanut butter and jelly wasn’t going to cut it, unless I wanted a mutiny on my hands. Since I love a good peanut sauce, I figured that was the direction I was heading. Before I knew it, Fragrant Peanut-Lime Noodles graced my dinner table. I decided not to make them spicy since it was a family meal but a few red pepper flakes could definitely give you the heat, if so desired.

The sauce is creamy and clings nicely to the linguini. With added broccoli, you have your vegetables covered and the peanuts add a nice crunchy texture. Mealtime was a smashing success and everyone walked away from the table content. The best part, this dinner comes together easily for a quick, weeknight meal while packing a weekend punch.

Tempura Vegetables and Shrimp Congee

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by David Latt

ImageCongee is rice served "wet" in a broth with vegetables, tofu, meat, seafood, or poultry.

Congee is the Asian equivalent of Jewish chicken soup, perfect when the weather is cold and damp or you're fighting off a cold. Served in a variety of ways, depending on the country of origin or what's in season, the basic dish is made with cooked rice, a liquid, and flavorings. You'll find dozens of authentic, regional recipes in cookbooks and online, but in our kitchen "congee" is another way of saying repurposed deliciousness.

Whatever we don't eat at a Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, or Thai restaurant we bring home. Invariably, a container of rice is included along with the kung pao chicken, tempera shrimp and vegetables, stir fried beef with broccoli, or sweet and sour pork that we couldn't finish.

Reheating these dishes at home is one option, but transforming them into congee is better. For example, converting vegetable and shrimp tempura into an aromatic, deeply satisfying and delicious congee is one way this simple technique can turn left-overs into the best comfort food you've ever eaten.

Tempura Vegetable and Shrimp Congee

Serves 2
 
Time 30 minutes
 
Ingredients
 
2 tempura shrimp, tail removed
4-6 pieces tempura vegetables
1 cup cooked rice
1 garlic clove, skin removed, finely chopped
4 cups spinach leaves, washed to remove grit, stems and leaves finely chopped
4 shiitake mushrooms, washed, tips of the stems removed, thinly sliced
1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh or from a can
2 cups water or miso soup or a combination of both
1 tablespoon olive or sesame oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
 
Method
 
Cut the shrimp and tempura vegetables into bite-sized pieces and set aside.  Saute on a medium-low flame the garlic, shiitake mushrooms, and corn kernels until lightly browned. 
 
Add the cut up spinach and water or a mix of miso soup and water. Raise the flame and simmer 10 minutes.
 
Add the cut up tempura vegetables and shrimp to the broth. Stir well and simmer 10 minutes.
 
Add the cooked rice, stir well and simmer a final 5 minutes.
 
 
David Latt is an Emmy-award winning television producer who turns to cooking to alleviate stress. He shares his experiences with food and his favorite recipes on his blog Men Who Like To Cook.  

Mango Lassi

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by Joseph Erdos

mangolassi.jpgThis hot weather has had me craving countless summery foods and refreshing drinks, more than I can count. To keep cool I've been snacking on fruit and drinking iced teas and smoothies. Recently I was reminded of the popularity of mangoes while walking in the city on an extremely hot day. Everywhere I noticed vendors selling mangoes carved into flowers. I couldn't help but feel transported to South America where that custom is prevalent. Mangoes are a celebrated fruit throughout the world with hundreds of varieties grown in tropical climates, particularly in India from where they originate. Mangoes can be enjoyed as desserts and snacks or in savory dishes like Indian chutneys and pickles. But one of the most popular ways to enjoy a mango is with a lassi, a traditional Indian yogurt smoothie.

Lassis are very popular in India, where there are both sweet and savory versions with some including spices. Mango lassis are more common outside of India and are specialties of Indian restaurants. I always order one at any Indian restaurant because the yogurt always helps cool off my taste buds by counteracting the heat of the spicy Indian dishes. But even when I'm not eating spicy food, I still crave a refreshing lassi. It's very quick and easy to make right at home.

A Little Bit of Curry Goes a Long Way

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by David Latt

curry2.jpgNothing is more satisfying than farmers' market fresh vegetables. Usually I'm completely happy relying on olive oil, sea salt, and pepper when I saute, grill, or roast the great bounty of summer vegetables.

Do carrots, broccoli, asparagus, fennel, peas, string beans, tomatoes, squash, and potatoes really need elaborate sauces to bring out their flavors?

The Italians get it right, in my opinion. Buy the best ingredients and get out of the way.

And yet, there are times when a little more spice or a variety of flavors is needed to reinvigorate the palate. A few drops of fresh citrus juice, a dusting of cayenne, a sprig of fresh rosemary, or a drizzle of nam pla can transform the familiar into the exciting.
 
Authentic Indian curries are complex combinations of a dozen spices and herbs. An easy-to-make version for every day use can be made with a packaged curry powder or pulled together with five basic elements: fresh garlic, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and coconut milk.  

Sweet & Spicy Fruit Salad

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by Susan Russo

fruitsalad.jpgIf you ever visit a San Diego farmers' markets, then chances are you'll see several people milling around who are holding tall, clear plastic cups filled with deliciously ripe fresh fruit such as mangoes, pineapple, and watermelon that have been doused with lime juice, salt, and chili pepper. They may be eating the fruit with a long toothpick (or just with their hands, if they don't mind sticky fingers).

These fruit cups, called copas de frutas in Spanish, are the inspiration for today's recipe: salty, sweet, and tangy Chili Lime Fruit Salad. I have incorporated seasonal fruit such as fresh strawberries, blood oranges, and kumquats, but feel free to substitute what's available where you live.

I added jicama (pronounced hee-kah-mah), also known as a Mexican potato or turnip. It's a large, dense root vegetable with a thin beige peel and a juicy, creamy white flesh. What does jicama taste like? Jicama tastes sort of like a cross between an apple, a potato, and celery. It's mildly sweet and exceptionally crunchy, like a water chestnut.

Savory Mexican Cornbread

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by Cathy Pollak

jalapenocornbread.jpgIf you are planning a Cinco de Mayo feast, you are going to need a satisfying side dish to accompany your meal. A Savory Mexican Cornbread is the perfect canvas for sopping up the sauce. And for those of you who can't have your food touching (you know who you are) it's okay to keep it on a separate plate.

This cornbread does not have a dense, hockey puck-like consistency. Instead it is cakey and very moist. Void of any overwhelming flavor, it makes the perfect sidekick for an already flavorful meal. It melds nicely.

I know lots of people stick with their Jiffy cornbread from a box but this has such a better consistency and does not take much effort to put together. If you are like me and enjoy your cornbread sweet, butter and honey are a stunning addition to each slice. You must try it.

Chilaquiles

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by Joseph Erdos

ImageFor those who love Mexican food, there's nothing better than finding a good Mexican restaurant to frequent regularly. That's because foreign cuisine can seem tough to tackle at home, especially the unique Mexican. But sometimes the craving hits without notice and you want something more than salsa and chips. For me that's when I get the urge to make authentic Mexican food at home. I have yet to master the cuisine, but rather than hit the fast-food chain with the bell or an expensive restaurant, I make my favorite dish in my own kitchen. Chilaquiles is the dish I've found really easy and successful for a beginner in south-of-the-border cooking.

Chilaquiles, a Mexican dish purposely invented to repurpose day-old tortillas, is also the perfect dish for using leftover Thanksgiving turkey or chicken. Made up of fried tortillas, shredded chicken, tomatillo salsa, and cheese, it can resembles a lasagne when layered in a casserole dish. But for faster results, chilaquiles can also be put together in tortilla stacks and placed in a hot oven just to melt the cheese and warm it through. When I first tasted chilaquiles at a restaurant, it hit my comfort spot immediately. Once I found a recipe by Daisy Martinez, I knew I had to try making it for myself. It's a dish that can make a person or—if you're willing to share—an entire family very happy.

 

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