Global Cuisine

squashcurryYou can find a version of lentil stew or soup in almost every country. It's a dish that's popular because it's hearty, filling, and inexpensive. Some would call it food for the poor, but lentils stand for more than just that. Many cultures give it significant meaning, equating the small legumes with coins, symbolizing prosperity. Besides that, lentils are very nutritious, delicious, and perfectly satisfying on a cold fall day.

The cuisine of Morocco inspires this dish, which features a classic combination of lentils, chickpeas, and squash. Ras el hanout, the Moroccan spice blend, as well as saffron, give this stew its exotic flavor. Translating to "top of the shop," Ras el hanout is a special spice blend that is traditionally sold in markets by spice mongers, each of whom has his own secret mix, which can include cumin, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, and other spices. It's like the Moroccan version of the Indian spice blend Garam Masala.

The choice is yours—make this recipe into a stew or soup. The ingredients give you the option of using more or less stock, depending on how thick or thin you want the consistency. Since this recipe uses vegetable stock and contains no dairy, it's completely vegan. But all you omnivores, don't be afraid, it's packed with protein and fiber, so you won't even miss the meat. But if you can't live without meaty flavor, use chicken stock.

Read more ...

limesaltchips.jpgCorn tortillas come in such huge bags, I don't know how can you possibly use them all. Buying one of those packages, though they are cheap, is a major commitment in my house. It means weeks of enchiladas, tacos, chilaquiles and when I run out of ideas, tortilla chips or totopos as they are known in Mexico. I love the word totopos, even though it sounds a bit too much like the Italian name of a certain well-known cartoon mouse.

Traditionally totopos are tortillas cut into triangular wedges that are deep fried in oil. If there is one thing I just can't bring myself to do, it's deep fry anything in oil. I just can't. Don't ask me. So here is what I do instead, I bake the tortillas. Baking doesn't make them as light, crispy and decadent as frying, but they are still yummy and as a bonus you can enjoy them with very little guilt.

If you look for tortilla chips in the store, you'll find they come in all kinds of flavors. With a little experimenting I found you can make great lime and salt flavored chips with--you guessed it, lime and salt! Eat them plain, with salsa or with toppings like guacamole, refried beans and crumbly Mexican cheese. Are you getting hungry yet? Because I sure am.

Read more ...

grilledshrimpSpicy and tropical flavors always transport my imagination to lush jungles or azure beaches belonging to more temperate climates. Mexican food in particular has that effect on me. At home whenever I want to add a south-of-the-border touch to recipes I reach for dried chiles. Ancho chile powder, made of ground dried poblano peppers, lends a smoky and earthy flavor to recipes (think of the many famous mole sauces). Combine it with lime juice and oil and you have the perfect Mex-like marinade for meat or fish. In this case it's shrimp, briefly marinated and then grilled. Paired with a fresh salsa, it's a summery dish that serves well as a quick appetizer when friends stop by.

The grilled shrimp is spicy and savory whereas the mango salsa is sweet and tangy. It may sound a bit unusual to have fruit in a salsa, but it's not uncommon in Mexico and the Caribbean. Fruits indigenous to these areas are utilized in many different ways in recipe preparations. Pineapple, papaya, or guava are also commonly used in salsa frescas. Once combined with savory elements and herbs, such as onions and cilantro, and lime juice to add acidity, the salsa becomes a wonderful condiment, especially for seafood. Use it as a topping for any seared or grilled fish. This dish truly brings to mind Mexico and its unique culinary heritage. Its flavors will have you there in no time. 

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

friedriceinbowlSometimes a huge craving for Chinese food can be settled with a simple bowl of fried rice.

But before you even think about pulling over for any belt busting take-out Chinese like Panda Express, you need to know that a mere cup and a quarter of their fried rice, even with no meat, has 570 calories!!! That’s one third of the calories my 5’5 self should have in a whole day!!

Instead, make this skinny fried rice–loaded with veg and protein– in just minutes, at home.

By skipping almost all of the oil, using Egg Beaters instead of whole eggs, and using a mix of Cauliflower Rice and Brown Rice, you can have the full taste of take out…but for only 120 calories a cup! If this delish dish doesn’t convince you that learning how to make Cauliflower Rice and Magic Rice is worth the wee bit of effort,  nothing will!

Read more ...