I got a text from my mom asking me about these recipes from Alaska and Hawaii, so I guess I better get to sharing!
Burgers. One of my favorite things.
Well, sandwiches are one of my favorite things, but what is a burger but a fancy name for a sandwich. Amiright?
I mentioned yesterday how Alaska’s great white wilderness provides lots of raw, fresh and unique ingredients for the eating. Game meat being one. Wild berries being another. Let’s combine them, shall we?
Up next, Alaska and Hawaii! On to the states!
I got a last minute suggestion from someone on some awesome sounding scallops from New Zealand, so I’ll circle back to those next week. But, first, welcome back to the U.S. of A.
It’s been almost two years since I’ve cooked my own country and truthfully, I’m excited to see what the U.S. has to offer. For as much as I’ve traveled, much of the western U.S. remains a mystery to me and I’ve yet to make it to the non-continentals. Someday I’ll make it there, but for now, I have to settle for the food in place of the scenery.
Saturday. HOORAY! I thought you’d never come.
This week seemed to go by painfully slow. Maybe it was the unseasonably cloudy weather. Maybe it was because two weeks from today I’ll be sp-ahhhhing in Northern Virginia wine country with Lettuce and Yam, and you know how work is when vacation is on the horizon. Maybe it was just one of those weeks.
What made this particular one of those weeks bearable is that Apple Crisp and I had our annual fancy pants birthday dinner. About five or so years ago, we decided that rather buy each other birthday gifts, we’d doll ourselves up and go to a nice, more expensive than usual meal to celebrate. I mean, we both love food so much. One of the many ties that bind.
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I’ve been a long time obsessed with all things English. Even, shockingly enough, English foods.
On that note, a funny story: Before the U.S. became the land of plenty where we could get all of our favorite international goodies at the neighborhood grocery story, I used to have to bring things home from my travels. For example, you know McVittie’s Digestive biscuits and Hob Nobs? Well, I used to be obsessed, and one trip home from London I literally had 7 (SEVEN!) rolls of cookies in my carry-on bag. And of course, they searched me. Under the questioning glare of the Heathrow security guards, all I could muster was a red-faced response of, “I really like these cookies.”
I will seduce you with my awkwardness.
The Lands Down Under.
Australia and New Zealand, you’re up.
I’ve slogged my way through Eastern Europe and it’s time to jet back East before I cross the Pacific into North America. Giddy up.
Now, I know nothing about these two countries except that I want to go to there. They’ve been forever on my long list of places to go but I just haven’t made it yet, mostly because other places tend to get in the way.
There are too many places to go! But I digress.
Pork and sauerkraut seems to be a staple in the fall. For me at least. Kraut on brats, slow cooked ribs in the oven…it seems I can’t get away. And honestly, I can’t get enough.
Actually, that’s not true. I take it back. I can get enough. Two weeks through Germany and Prague with Lettuce and Tomato a few years back taught us all that there is a limit to the amount of sausage and sauerkraut that one can eat. Thankfully, this early in the season I’ve not yet reached my limit and happily embraced my last Baltic dish from Estonia: Mulgi Kapsad, or sauerkraut with pork and barley, typically served with some sort of potato.
This dish couldn’t be easier. With 5 ingredients, my tweak on it was done in a little less than an hour, most of that time hands off. I changed the original recipe by substituting Arborio rice for the barley (a substitute to make it gluten-free), bone-in pork chops rather than Boston butt and the addition of caraway seeds because it felt weird to not add ANY flavorings at all.
- 2 bone-in thick cut pork chops, seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1 pound jarred sauerkraut
- ½ cup Arborio rice
- About 1-1 ½ cups water
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sugar, pinch, if desired
- Spread the sauerkraut at the bottom of a pot,and scatter rice on top. Add the caraway seeds and sprinkle with salt and pepper and pour enough water over to barely cover the ingredients.
- Cover with the lid and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the pork chops, and bury in the sauerkraut. Continue cooking another 30-40 minutes until the pork is cooked through.
- There is no need to stir this until the very end.
- You may need to add a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity of the sauerkraut
To be honest, while this dish was good, it didn’t blow me away. The flavors didn’t really have more than one dimension, and the lack of color on my plate was downright depressing. I’m not sure making it true to recipe with the pork butt or shoulder would have changed that.
At the end of the day, I’ll take my pork and kraut grilled in a bun with a little bit of mustard.
Happy Labor Day!
I hope everyone is taking it easy. Mama Buddha paid me an impromptu visit and we’re being pretty chill- sitting around, taking a few leisurely strolls and not putting forth any effort to make big elaborate meals, which is why this tea is pretty much perfect for what should be the laziest day of the year.
Caraway tea from Latvia. Yup, sounds pretty weird.
Caraway is not a taste I’m all that familiar with on its own. Sure, I’ve had it in sausage, mixed in with sauerkraut, and plays pretty prominently in rye bread. But, as tea? I was skeptical to say the least.
This recipe comes from a source I found thoroughly describing Latvian cuisine. Like Lithuania and Estonia, the foods of their ancestors were primarily rye, barley, millet and other grains and heavy meats of the game variety. Spices that I’ve come to know and love through my culinary travels out East are almost never used, and seasoning came from mustard, garlic, salt and caraway seeds.
After some prompting from Mom, I looked up the health benefits of caraway seeds and found they are high in soluble fiber, provide many digestive benefits, are a potent antioxidant and an excellent source of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Good news all around.
This took less than fifteen minutes to prep and I was pleasantly surprised by the sweet, earthy taste. Served hot or cold, with milk or without, it may be the perfect mix-up for your next tea party.
- 2 tsp caraway seeds
- 2 cups water
- 4 tsp sugar
- Add the seeds and sugar to boiling water and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. That’s it!
- Serve hot or cold, with milk or without
How did that happen? This week was both short and long. Long in the sense that Wednesday at work seemed like it should have been Friday, but short in that every night when I got home from doing whatever I was doing, it seemed like I only had an hour or so to get it together before it was time for bed. Somehow my kitchen activities got away from me, so you can look forward to a lot of Baltic-inspired posts this weekend when I finally have the time to catch up.
Remember how I said it was almost fall?! Well, with Labor Day this Monday and this being the first weekend of college football madness, I hereby declare that it is, if not by date then most definitely in spirit. With fall comes apples, and with apples comes gazillion and one ways to use these juicy little buggers, and I am here, in the Lithuanian spirit, to provide another.
This recipe comes from my college friend’s sister, Carrot. Carrot and I meet up every few years at football tailgate. Through talking to her and from Facebook stalking, I learned that she is Lithuanian, and so I demanded that she provide me with some authentic Lithuanian favorites.
Being the sweetie that she is, she happily obliged, and even had a Lithuanian cookbook her great grandmother helped edit. Talk about going straight to the source!
Due to its location, the raw ingredients that come from Lithuania are those suited to colder climates such as potatoes, barley, beets and mushrooms, and heavier meats such as pork, and these simple ingredients combined with the influence of its neighbors (Russia, Eastern Europe) comprise Lithuanian cuisine. Carrot noted that many of Lithuania’s traditional dishes could be time and labor intensive, but gave me a recipe for simple baked apples that took little time at all to prepare, and, as a bonus, made my whole apartment smell like fall. Now I really don’t want to leave.
I loved the apples cooked this way. It reminded me of the baked Korean pear of yore, and the prune center was a welcome little “surprise” (even though I knew it was there). Also, because I usually “bake” my apples in the microwave, I realized that all along I’ve been missing out on the crispy crust that the oven provides. As breakfast or dessert, this recipe will surely be on repeat this fall, and for falls to come.
- 2 firm, tart apples, cored
- 2 pre-soaked or ready to eat prunes, pitted
- 2 TB honey
- sprinkle cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Places apples in an oven-proof shallow dish. Into the cavity of each apple, put two moist prunes and 1 TB honey. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Add water to cover the bottom of the dish, about 1/2 inch deep. Bake for 1 hour or until apples are tender.
- Serve hot or cold
- Level the bottom of the apples to help them stand upright.
- 2 cups freshly-squeezed tomato juice
- ½ cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
- ¼ cup pickled beet juice
- 2 TB and plus 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 4 TB horseradish
- 2 TB plus 2 tsp Cholula chipotle hot sauce
- 4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 TB plus 2 tsp smoked sweet paprika
- 6 shots vodka
- 3 shots Grand Marnier
- Pickled beets
- Fresh orange wheel
- Smoked paprika and coarse black pepper, for the rim
- Pour some smoked paprika and coarse black pepper onto a small plate. Rub the juicy side of an orange wedge along the lip of a pint glass. Roll the outer edge of the glass in the paprika and pepper until fully coated. Fill with ice and set aside.
- Add the remaining ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake gently and strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with an orange, olives, picked beets and parsley.
- Adjust all the spices and add-ins according to your taste.
- Shaken and strained is not necessary. Feel free to stir.