Global Cuisine

jamaica“Foodie” vacations are usually to countries like France, Italy or China. But Jamaica? Sun, surf, music and, dare we forget, ganja, of course, but food? So how fabulous to find it is also a haven for some mighty fine dining.

On a recent trip with my two adult daughters, both huge food fans, it was no surprise to find the food at Chris Blackwell’s Golden Eye Resort to be very good, considering it’s a world-class luxury hotel. By all accounts Mr. Blackwell’s chefs have been serving “farm to table” fare before Brooklyn became hip and those 3 words became an overly-used tagline.

The three of us were on a mother/daughter bonding trip. One coming in from the cold back East, one from a damp fall college semester in London, and I was coming from sunny Southern California to celebrate one of those big number birthdays!

We were all on the same page as to what we wanted to do. Nothing. Lay in the sun, swim in the green/blue bath temperature sea, read beach books, and sit by the pool sipping fruit infused drinks decorated with paper umbrellas. (Made with Mr. Blackwell’s private label rum.) Naps were nice, as well. Again, because we were staying at Golden Eye we figured we would eat well, but none of us counted on the OMG moments we had. Several times!

Read more ...

kungpo2The biggest lesson I learned  when stepping up from someone who occasionally cooked for herself to someone who cooks for a living is that the quality of ingredients is at the apex of importance. Actually, I think tasting the difference between food cooked with cheap or old elements, and fresh, high quality ingredients is a skill everyone develops whether they cook or not. This past summer I was walking home from the gym and passed a Mr. Softee truck. I was feeling depleted and entitled from my workout and stopped for a van/choc swirl cone- a prized acquisition in my childhood.

And you know something? It was disgusting. It tasted exactly like cold, wet plastic. And I was shocked- because I had decided that it was the most delicious and incredibly naughty reward I could give myself. I finished it of course but I had this sneaking suspicion that I would have felt happier had I rewarded myself with something that was good for me like one of the peaches from a local fruit stand. There are things that we all loved as a child that our adult palates won’t tolerate.

And that brings me to Chinese food. As I have mentioned before, I grew up in New York City, on a hearty diet of Chinese take-out at least once or twice a week. It’s what you did. And it was fantastic, I swear. But these days… I cannot figure out why I can’t recapture the blissful Chinese delivery food orgy of my childhood. It all tastes like crap to me, like used fry oil and old ingredients and people skimming every last cent of quality into their bank accounts.

Read more ...

huevossaladI think Mexican food is one of my all time favorites.  Growing up in Southern California, the availability of "good" Mexican food was not hard to find, it was everywhere.  I have so many old favorite places that served everything from Tex-Mex cuisine to more authentic regional Mexican cooking.  I do miss those places.  Badly.

This particular dish is a take on Huevos Rancheros (Ranch Eggs), a classic Mexican breakfast dish usually consisting of fried eggs served on top of corn tortillas with a chili-based salsa and avocado.  It's an awesome way to start the day!

But I have to say this salad also has many of my favorite beans, green salsa, chips and cheese.  The tomatillo or green salsa gives so much flavor.  I have always preferred a green salsa over red anyway.  The broiling of the chips also gives them that extra-toasty crunch which is just makes it all worth the trouble.

Read more ...

kofka-kebabsIt’s been a very, very short summer. I am not at all happy that 2 of my 3 kids are returning to school this Tuesday. WTF…it’s mid August! Packing lunches, getting up early(not a problem for me, but for them-YES), and routine is all part of this weeks drill.

Honestly speaking, I barely cooked this summer. It felt great to take a break, yet with school two days away it’s time for me to get back into the kitchen. Shopping, prepping, and organizing has filled my weekend. Cookies and brownies are made and frozen (perfect snack for the lunch box), farmers market organic fruits are flash frozen (great for morning smoothies), salad dressings are made and bottled, veggies are washed, meat and chicken are grilled (for easy sandwiches or simply served on their own), and the meal planning has begun!

Spending 30 or so minutes each morning on prep will allow me to get these nutritous and balanced meals on the table each night. Tonight’s dinner is one of my favorites. Combining all the ingredients in the morning allows the meat to marinate all day. Shaped into balls, skewered, and grilled, this is one of those perfect 30 minute meals.

Read more ...

shrimpsaladThis just screams summer and Mexico! Doesn't a tropical Mexican Riviera vacation sound good about now? A few margaritas, a couple of these salads....I'm in...who wants to go?

My oldest boy loves shrimp, I mean, really loves shrimp. And he loves taco salad. In fact, I'm not sure which one he loves more. So I decided to combine these two loves and make something summery and delicious. I think I succeeded, since he gobbled this up in no time at all. It was an epic gobbling, let me tell you.

I love watching people eat and enjoy the things I's like a weird voyeur thing, but I can't help it.

I first cook the shrimp in this buttery-lime-cilantro sauce. I slice the shrimp lengthwise before cooking because it doubles the amount of shrimp bites in your salad. And, the shrimp cooks a little faster so there is a less chance of overcooking it.

Read more ...