Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

From Dish Erin:

I had the opportunity to go to Istanbul recently, an item on the bucket list I’ve been wanting to check off for a long time. Yes, it’s rich with history, yes it’s exotic, yes I had a blast. But most of all, I ate my way through the capital of the former Ottoman Empire. And it was delicious. One of our favorite dishes was Iskender Kebab, aka lamb kebab with savory yogurt sauce, spicy tomato sauce and unctuous pieces of toasted pita bread. It’s spicy, savory, and full of texture and though I ate it about 10 times in 5 days, the moment I got back to the states I tried to recreate it in my American kitchen. Fun fact: the name of the dish comes from Alexander the Great, whom the Persians called “Iskender.”

The actual Iskender Kebab is made on a spit and slow roasted for 2 full days, so I took a necessary shortcut and grilled it instead.

1 yellow onion
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon
2 cloves garlic
Blend of spices: paprika, cumin, ground coriander, a touch of cinnamon and turmeric (optional)
3/4-1 lb top round lamb cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup Greek-style natural yogurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt & freshly ground pepper
2 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 can of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons water or chicken stock
1 baguette sliced into 1 inch cubes
2 long fresh green chillies

Puree the onion, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of oil and spice mixture in a food processor. In a bowl, pour over lamb and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 2 hours to marinate.

Combine the yogurt and half the garlic, another tablespoon of lemon juice, and a touch of S&P in a small bowl. Cover and place in the fridge.

Heat the remaining oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the remaining garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until soft. Add the paprika and chilli and cook for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add the tomato sauce and water and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place pieces of bread in a bowl and pour a little olive oil over, then season with salt & pepper. Toss to coat. Place on a pan and bake until crispy on outside, but soft in the middle, about 6-7 minutes.

Remove the lamb from the marinade and season with salt and pepper. Thread the lamb onto 4 skewers.

Preheat a barbecue or large grill pan on high. Add the lamb and cook, turning occasionally, for 10 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. When the lamb is about halfway done add the 2 large chilis to the pan and roast, turning every few minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork.

Divide the bread and chillies evenly among serving plates. Remove lamb from skewers and place on top of bread. Dress with even amounts of yogurt and spicy tomato sauce.

Afiyet olsun! (Bon Appetit!)

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From Dish Amelia:

Dish Danielle and I just returned from a beautiful trip to Oaxaca, Mexico (the most southern state). This was no all-inclusive-lie-on-beach trip; we were in the capital Oaxaca City, and ventured out a couple times on day trips to rural village markets. As you can imagine we spent most of the time eating or considering our next meal. Oaxaca is famous for many special things: chiles, mezcal (a spirit made from agave), toasted grasshoppers (protein-rich crunchy-salty-leggy), chocolate (mostly for drinking), squeaky fresh and stringy cheese, unchanged ancient corn drinks, seven kinds of mole (a deep and complex sauce made of many, many ingredients), and nieves (“snow” in spanish, ice milks). We saw nieves stalls at the markets, and on the streets, and all of them have each flavor packed in a canister set in a barrel of salted ice, and the vendor must periodically spin the canisters to keep them icy.

Some of the nieves are sorbets, made with fruit and water, and some are made with milk, but none of them are made with cream and eggs, so they are light and icy in a good way. I remembered there was a church in the center (there are lots of churches) where there was a courtyard I went to with my dad to get nieves. Eventually, we found the church, and then the courtyard, but due to construction there were no vendors. Darn…man, its pretty hot. Oh, wait, there they are! They moved! Tucked along the outside wall facing the street, the stalls looked temporary with many tarps shielding them from traffic and sun, but also cozy, (cast iron tables, glassware and tv). All the stalls sell nieves, so you have to pick one based on how many people are in line (the more the better) or flavors they have, or in our case a totally arbitrary one. (But a winner!!) I tasted leche quemada (burned milk, hoping for it to be something akin to burnt caramel, but this was not so.) And then nuez (nuts, or pecan) and it was so wonderful I ordered that right away.

Danielle got nuez and cajeta (goat milk caramel, a slightly funky yummy flavor). I hadn’t realized I could get two flavors in my cup at once (duh) and the vendor offered to switch one out but I went tunnel vision at this point and all I could see and and taste and feel at this point was sweet, hydrating, pecan-city nieves de nuez. Later I wished I had tasted elote (corn) mamey (a seasonal fruit), the zapotes (more fruits), and beso oaxaqueno (oaxacan kiss..I have no idea what this could mean), but of course I didn’t regret my decision.

My frozen treat loving companion was adamant that we do. This. Every. Day. But there was so much to see we didn’t make it back. Danielle and I walked a bunch of blocks up Tinoco Y Palacios in the shade in a state of extreme bliss I will never forget.

Lucky for you and me I was able to recreate the product pretty dead on. Excepting for the fact that I used an ice cream maker, and for a slight difference in milk/terroir/exhaust fumes etc..

1/2 cup toasted pecans
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp sweet rice flour or cornstarch
pinch of kosher salt

Yields 1 quart.

Toast the pecans in a dry cast iron, let them cool, then rough chop. Be sure to gather up any fine pecan dust as well as the larger pieces. Put all ingredients in a sauce pot and heat gently for about 15-20 minutes. Dont let the milk boil and stir often so the starch thickens the mixture slightly, and it doesn’t get too hot. You want the sugar to dissolve and the pecans to impart their flavor to the milk.

Pour the mixture into a stainless bowl and set it in a ice bath, and stir until chilled enough to put in the fridge. After about an hour, run through an ice cream maker, store in a quart container, and fluff with a fork.

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From Dish Danielle:

I’ve just returned from my very first trip to Mexico. I had the perfect guide, Dish Amelia, who’s been across the border before and knows Oaxaca City like the back of her hand. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that we did an excellent job eating our way through the OAX. SLD style….

The trip provided each sense with its own degree of intoxication: The brightly colored buildings and the incredible flora of southern Mexico; the hypnotizing sounds of bustling markets; vendors waving flags and enticing you with their sing-song-y pitches; the dizzying aromas wafting out of kitchen windows; Mexican chocolates, fresh tortillas, grilled meats over massive barbecues; the textures of traditional woven garments…
All of the flavors of Oaxaca are woven into their food and drink: bright yet earthy, hearty but not heavy. Dreaming of mezcal to mouth watering mole, I’m already dying to go back.

With that being said, I’ve had a killer hankering for a particular breakfast that Amelia & I ordered nearly every morning (and kicked ourselves when we didn’t…), Huevos Divorciados, behold:

For salsas:
1 lb plum tomatoes, rinsed
1 lb tomatillos, husks discarded & rinsed
3 small jalapenos
1 poblano, roasted, skinned and deseeded
1/2 a large white onion
4-5 garlic cloves
Handful fresh cilantro, rinsed
Water as needed.

For 8 tortillas:
1c masa harina (I actually picked up ‘instant’ which meant I didn’t need to wait for the dough to ‘set.’)
2/3 c water, plus a little more if needed

For desayuno:
2 eggs per person being served.

Start by roasting the tomatoes, tomatillos, jalapenos and onion on a comal or dry cast iron skillet until blackened on all sides, (15mins or so). Core roasted tomatoes. De-stem/de-seed jalapenos.

Make red salsa: Puree tomatoes, 1½ jalapeños, 2 garlic cloves, ½ the onion, and salt in food processor, (add water to thin salsa if desired). Set aside.

Make green salsa: Purée tomatillos, 1½ jalapeños, poblano, 2 garlic cloves, rest of onion, salt, cilantro, and 1/2 cup water in food processor, (add a bit more water if desired).

Make tortillas: Combine masa harina and water in medium bowl. Mix with hands until a soft malleable dough forms that keeps its shape. Add tiny amounts of masa/water as needed if too wet/dry. Form into 8 small balls. Keep dough covered with damp towel. Use tortilla press to flatten into perfect discs! Fire up your comal/dry cast iron to cook these bad boys. Gently place tortilla on hot surface. Cook for about 1min on each side—you’ll see it firming up and your nose will tell you when it’s time to pull one off!

Once your tortillas are finished place them snuggly in a tea towel to keep warm. Now fry your eggs to your own liking and lay 1 fried egg atop 1 tortilla, and serve 2 of these per plate.

Spoon liberal amounts of green salsa on one egg and red salsa on the other. I complimented the eggs with my own rendition of a black bean puree we had on the side of this breakfast in Oaxaca, (I simply stewed the beans with a few cloves of garlic, a hunk of onion and some freshly ground Oaxacan allspice that I picked up down there). Feel free to make any accompaniment to your Saucy Little Dish, and enjoy.


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