Global Cuisine

mushypeasMushy peas are a traditional side dish to the British classic - Fish & Chips. I was recently in London for the Queen’s Jubilee and stayed at the incredibly beautiful Corinthia Hotel.

It is truly one of London’s best properties. The hotel’s restaurant, The Northall, features "traditional British fare focusing on seasonal produce supplied by artisanal producers from around the British Isles."

Without hesitation, I chose the Deep Fried Haddock in Beer Batter, chips and “proper mushy peas”. My version of mushy peas may not be “proper”, but they are delicious.

Bright, vibrant green with just a hint of mint, they’re great with fish or chicken. Use caution when pulsing with the food processor, you want them coarsely mashed, not pureed.

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shrimppinxtosOn a trip to Northern Spain in the spring, I discovered pintxos.

In Spanish bars, the appetizers served with beverages are tapas (about which everyone knows), pintxos and bocadilas. There's an easy way to distinguish one from the other. No bread on the plate, it's tapas. One slice of grilled bread, pintxos. Two pieces of bread (or a roll), bocadillas.

Bar food can be as simple as a bowl of beer nuts, but in Spain having a bite to eat in a bar means something very different.

On the trip, we ate elaborately designed pintxos with shrimps riding bareback on saddles of caramelized onions and smoked salmon that topped freshly grilled slices of sourdough bread.

Others featured anchovies with hardboiled eggs, whole roasted piquillo (small red peppers) stuffed with tuna fish, prosciutto wrapped around wild arugula leaves, delicately thin omelets rolled around finely chopped seasoned tomatoes and flat strips of roasted red bell peppers topped with slabs of brie and an anchovy fillet.

The invention and flavors of pintxos are unlimited. Think of wonderfully supportive flavors and textures to place on top the solid foundation of a thin slice of grilled bread and you have a beautiful and tasty appetizer to go with an ice cold beer, glass of crisp white wine or a refreshing summer cocktail like fresh fruit Sangria.

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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.

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garlicspreadGreek cuisine features many great snacks and nibbles from olives to pastries and dips. An easy dip to make is skordalia. Recipes vary regionally, but generally feature garlic, extra virgin olive oil and potatoes though sometimes egg yolks, almonds or bread as well. The problem for me is raw garlic which gets more and more potent over time. The solution? Roast garlic.

Roast garlic is sweet and soft and most important, mellow. It won't overpower most dishes like this skordalia inspired dip made with potatoes, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and roast garlic, instead of raw. Not only is this dip good for Passover, it's vegetarian (vegan if you use vegan mayo) and gluten free! That is if you use a gluten free mayonnaise, which adds additional creaminess to the dip.

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phoBeing creative in cooking sometimes means breaking the rules or borrowing a sauce from a traditional dish and using it in a non-traditional way.

When a diner is served the popular Vietnamese soup called pho, a basket of fresh green vegetables and bean sprouts accompanies a giant soup bowl filled to the brim with meat and noodles. For seasoning, a dipping sauce is also provided. As a matter of personal taste, I prefer the lighter pho ga, made with chicken, to its deeper flavored, beefy cousins. After years of eating pho ga I realized that part of my craving for the soup was because I loved the dipping sauce called nuoc cham gung.

In the sauce, finely minced ginger and garlic mingle with flecks of dried Szechuan peppers in a vinegary-salty-sweet sauce, accentuated with lime-citrus notes.

With one of those wonderful epiphanies that happen to foodies who think about food a bit too much, I realized that nuoc cham gung would make a good marinade and glaze for my favorite appetizer—chicken wings.

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