Global Cuisine

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Spicy Pumpkin Seeds – Great with beer

Classic Margarita – Blending is not allowed.

Lila’s Guacamole – The best way to eat green.

Huevos alla Amy – A breakfast treat.

Tortilla Soup - In case it's still cold in your neck of the woods.

Topopo Salad – A salad of volcanic proportions.

Ceviche – Cool and refreshing.

Enchiladas Suizas – Simply delicious.

Mexican Chicken – Spicing it up.

Goat Cheese and Poblano Quesadillas with Pineapple-Habanero Salsa - For those who like it HOT!

Grilled Steak Tacos with Watermelon-Mango-Jicama Salsa - It's not a celebration without tacos & salsa.

tamalesWhen it comes to cooking the food from another culture, the ingredients and techniques can be unfamiliar. Going to a foreign country and taking a cooking class is great, but not a readily accessible opportunity for most. Fortunately there are local cooking classes and cooking kits.

Recently launched Global Grub offers cooking kits with extremely well written instructions that will help you succeed in making things like sushi, or jerk chicken with coconut rice and beans. I used the tamales kit and was very impressed with the quality of the ingredients, the clear instructions and the wonderful results. My dad said the tamales were the best he'd ever eaten!

Kits include the dry and hard to find ingredients, and range in price from $13.99 up to $19.99 and for every kit purchased, Global Grub donates a meal to someone in need through their local food bank. Global Grub offers tutorial videos on their site, and the instructions with each kit are easily folded into a stand for easy reference as you cook.

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blackbeansriceThe other day I received a flyer advertising a romantic Caribbean get-away. It showed a scantily clad, deliriously happy couple lounging on the beach, cocktails in hand. I ripped it in half and tossed in the recycle bin. When you're married to someone whose Twitter handle is @Dermdoc, lying on the beach isn't in your future. Consider this: Last summer when our local Target ran out of sunscreen, they called us.

So the only thing worth going to the Caribbean for would be the food. Caribbean food is a fusion of many cuisines including African, Ameri-Indian, French, and Spanish making, making it deliciously unique. Given its temperate climate, the Caribbean produces an astounding array of exotic fruits such as passionfruit, guava, cherimoyas, and coconuts which feature prominently in both sweet and savory dishes. And their beloved jerk seasoned meats and fresh fish, are often accompanied by two of my favorite foods: plantains and black beans.

Caribbean black beans and rice. If you've never had it, I'm sorry; you've been missing out. I had my first taste about 12 years ago in an eclectic Caribbean restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina. I was smitten and still am.

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mexisoup.jpgSo any dish that I can make one day, eat it the next two or so, and enjoy it every time is a winner in my book. Soups and stews are most always better once they have “set” and allowed their flavors to thoroughly combine. This stew slash thick soup is of no exception. Delicious right out of the pot and just as good the next day, my Mexican Stew is an easy winner.

Don’t get me wrong, I love soups and food in general, but condiments, sides, garnishes, and flavor savors make a dish! Sour cream and Monterey Pepper Jack cheese in this case. Now, about this cheese…oh my! The Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack I love is from our local meat market, M&T Meats in Hawkinsville. It IS a cheese among cheeses. Very creamy, plenty of pepper warmth but not fiery, and melts in a jiffy…this is a cheese for me! The ones at the grocery are just fine, but if you have the chance to buy a local cheese, pounce on the opportunity…it is well worth it!

I digress, back on to the Mexican Stew. Meaty, hearty, and full of flavor, this stew was born out of what I had on hand – sometimes making the best dishes. A leaner ground beef and little bit of ground sausage (plain ol’ good sausage, no flavorings…mine again was from M&T) make for a textural background flavor and also provide the right amount of cooking fat for the whole stew.

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altSoups and stews are my favorite dishes during the cold-weather months. Now that the weather has turned chilly and much of the past few weeks have been marked by rain, I am ready to jump into my repertoire of soups and stews. I love meals of chicken soup or beef stew, but I also enjoy vegetarian dishes that are just as filling, nutritious, and comforting. Something with a bit of heat and spice is right up there with the best of soups and stews. That dish for me is Indian dal, a cross between a soup and stew.

Made of legumes (specifically lentils, split peas, or chickpeas), dal is simply put a very earthy dish, often served as part of a thali, a selection of different dishes that can include poultry or meats, vegetables, chutney, raita, and breads. But even when served with rice and/or the flatbread chapati, dal can make a complete meal. The Indian spice blend, garam masala brings warmth and deep flavor and a combination of turmeric and paprika creates a glowing orange color. When you desire something comforting and thoroughly warming, this favorite Indian comfort food is the dish to make.

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