Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: cucumbers

Rack of Lamb with Pomegranate Sauce

Servings 4

Ingredients

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
½ cup Panko crumbs
1 rack of lamb, “frenched”, about 8 ribs

Directions

Brush the meat area with mustard. Sprinkle it with rosemary and garlic. Press on the panko crumbs.
Place the lamb in a roasting pan with the ribs curving down. Set aside for 1 hour at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 450 F degrees.
Roast the lamb for exactly 20 minutes for rare or 25 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 15 minutes, then cut into individual ribs and serve with the Pomegranate Sauce.

Pomegranate Sauce

Ingredients

2 cups of water
1 pomegranate, seeds removed
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 garlic clove minced
¼ cup molasses
2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into four pieces
Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

Set aside 2 tablespoons of pomegranate seeds. Place the remaining seeds, honey, and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the temperature to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Strain the liquid over a bowl and in a colander and press the seeds until most of the flesh is extracted. Discard the seeds. Set the mixture aside.
Heat the oil in the sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté until tender, about one minute.
Whisk in the broth and molasses. Add seeds.
Increase the heat to high. Boil the sauce until it reduces by half and is syrupy about eight minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk the butter into the sauce, one piece at a time, until well blended. Season the sauce to taste with salt and twists of the pepper mill.

Parmesan Rice Cakes

You can cook these patties in the oven with the lamb. Leave them in the oven to finish cooking after you remove the lamb.

Makes 6-8 patties

Ingredients

3 cups cooked rice
3/4 cup bread crumbs
3 eggs
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup onion finely minced
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper or to taste
Vegetable oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 F degrees.
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Oil a baking sheet.
Using a 1/4 or 1/3 cup measure, form the mixture into patties and place on the prepared pan.
Bake until brown and crisp about 40 minutes.

Cucumber And Tomato Salad

Ingredients

1 large cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, sliced into 1/4″-thick half-moons
1 large tomato, diced and drained
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons red onion, minced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Directions

Place cucumber slices in a colander; sprinkle with salt, tossing to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine yogurt, sour cream, onion, vinegar, sugar, and dill in a mixing bowl. Add cucumber slices and drained tomatoes; toss to coat. Let salad stand for at least 5 minutes before serving, or chill in the refrigerator for several hours.

 


Make a batch of Greek Lemon Rice. Serve some with your dinner and set aside 1-2 cups for the recipe below.

Lemon Rice

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra virgin oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice, uncooked
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 cup of water
1 large lemon (1 teaspoon zest + 3 – 4 tablespoons lemon juice)
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped herb (dill or parsley, oregano, basil chives, mint)
Salt and pepper

Directions

Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.
Add garlic and onion. Cook for 5 minutes or until tender.
Add rice and stir until rice is coated.
Add broth and water. Place lid on, bring to simmer then turn the heat down to low.
Cook for 12 minutes or until water is evaporated.
Remove from the stove and rest for 10 minutes (keep the lid on).
Remove lid. stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.

Greek Style Flounder WIithLemon Rice Stuffing

Serves 2. Double the ingredients for 4 servings

You might want to serve some crusty bread with this dish to soak up some of the tasty sauce.

Ingredients

1 lb. flounder fillets
1 cup Lemon Rice, recipe above
½ teaspoon Greek seasoning
2 plum tomatoes
Grated Pecorina Romana cheese
Sauce
1/4 extra virgin olive oil oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic, grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano

Directions

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
Sprinkle the fish fillets lightly with Greek seasoning. Spread the rice evenly over the fish fillets. Roll the fillets up and secure with a toothpick, Place the fish rolls in individual baking dishes.
Cut the tomatoes in half. Place two in each baking dish and top with a sprinkle of cheese. Pour the sauce evenly over both fish rolls and tomatoes.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve in the individual baking dishes.

Tzatziki Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

2 medium cucumbers, peeled
½ teaspoon of sea salt
`/4 cup Feta Cheese
Dressing
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup sour cream
¼ of a sweet onion, finely chopped
½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
½ tablespoon olive oil
½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, grated
½ teaspoon dried dill weed
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Cut the peeled cucumber in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.
Cut each half into ½ inch thick slices (half moons). Place in a colander and sprinkle with the salt. Toss gently to evenly distribute the salt.
Let the cucumbers drain while you make the dressing.
Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a storage bowl with a cover.
Place the salted cucumbers on several thicknesses of paper towels and squeeze gently to rid them of extra moisture.
Add them to the dressing and mix well. Cover the bowl and chill several hours before serving.


Franks and Sauerkraut

2 servings

Ingredients

4

4 all-beef organic  frankfurters, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
2 cups sauerkraut, drained

Directions

Heat a skillet with a cover on medium heat. Melt the butter, add the onion, garlic, and paprika, cook until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the franks and sauerkraut, simmer, covered, 20 minutes.

Serve with rye bread or mashed potatoes.

My Homemade Rye Bread recipe.

Cucumbers in Sour Cream

Makes About 2 Cups

Ingredients

2 large cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, sliced into 1/4″-thick half-moons
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons green onion (scallions), minced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey or sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried

Directions

Place cucumber slices in a colander; sprinkle with salt, tossing to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels.

Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, onion, vinegar, honey, and dill in a mixing bowl. Add cucumber slices and toss to coat. Let salad stand for at least 5 minutes before serving, or chill for up to one day.


Chicken Tenders

4 servings

Ingredients

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for the grill pan 

1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 

1/4 teaspoon coriander 

1/4 teaspoon paprika 

1 clove garlic, minced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound chicken tenders, about 8

2 Pita bread,  halved and warmed

Directions

Mix the yogurt, oil, lemon juice, oregano, coriander, paprika, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl until fully blended. Add the chicken and mix to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.

Preheat a stovetop grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush oil over the pan. Place the tenders on the pan.

Grill the chicken until it is cooked through (an instant-read thermometer should register 165 degrees F), about 4 minutes per side. Serve in pita bread halves with the cucumber sauce.

Cucumber Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 peeled and seeded cucumber, finely diced 

1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried

1 clove garlic, grated

¼ cup feta cheese

Kosher salt

Directions

Combine the yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice, dill, garlic, feta cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Chill, covered, for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors blend.

Spoon into a pita half and add 2 grilled chicken tenders.


Oven BBQ Pulled Pork

Dry Rub:
3 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
1 (5 pounds) pork shoulder or Boston butt

Cider-Vinegar Barbecue Sauce:
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup yellow or brown mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Burger Rolls and Cucumber Salad

Directions

Mix the paprika, garlic powder, brown sugar, dry mustard, and salt together in a small bowl. Rub the spice blend all over the pork. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Put the pork in a roasting pan, uncovered, and roast it for about 6 hours. An instant-read thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the pork should register 170 degrees F, but basically, what you want to do is to roast it until it’s falling apart.

While the pork is roasting, make the barbecue sauce. Combine the vinegar, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, salt, cayenne, and black pepper in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently, stirring, for 10 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Take it off the heat and let it sit until you’re ready for it.

When the pork is done, take it out of the oven and put it on a large platter. Allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes.

While the pork is still warm, you want to “pull” the meat: Grab 2 forks. Using 1 to steady the meat, use the other to “pull” shreds of meat off the roast. Put the shredded pork in a bowl and pour half of the sauce over. Stir well so that the pork is coated with the sauce.

To serve, spoon the pulled pork mixture onto the bottom half of each hamburger bun and top with some of the remaining sauce.

Cucumbers in Dilled Sour Cream

Makes About 2 Cups

Ingredients

2 large cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, sliced into 1/4″-thick half-moons
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons green onion (scallions), minced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey or sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried

Directions

Place cucumber slices in a colander; sprinkle with salt, tossing to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels.

Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, onion, vinegar, honey, and dill in a mixing bowl. Add cucumber slices and toss to coat. Let salad stand for at least 5 minutes before serving, or chill for up to one day.


Beef Tenderloin Steaks

2 beef tenderloin steaks, (about 6 ounces each)
Olive oil, for brushing
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Place the steaks between pieces of plastic wrap and pound to a 1/2-inch thickness. Refrigerate.

A half-hour before cooking, remove the steaks from the refrigerator and preheat an outdoor or stovetop grill. Brush meat lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place steaks on the grill and cook, without moving, until grill marks appear, about 4 minutes. Turn the steaks over and continue to grill until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meat sideways registers about 120 degrees F, about 3 to 4 minutes more. Set aside on a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Steak Salad

For 2 servings

3 cups mixed salad greens
Small red onion, sliced thin
Half a cucumber, peeled and sliced
Large tomato, diced
Celery stalk, sliced
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
Ranch Dressing, recipe below

Combine all the salad ingredients in a salad bowl and drizzle with the dressing according to taste.

Ranch Dressing

Ingredients

3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dried chives
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, sour cream, and vinegar. Add the chives, parsley, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper and whisk well to combine.

Easy, Easy Biscuits

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for shaping the dough
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ cup milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Sprinkle lightly with flour.
Stir biscuit ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. Pour flour mixture into the prepared parchment-covered pan.


Pat into a rectangle and cut the dough into six equal pieces. Separate the biscuits on the pan.

Bake until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Serve with the steak salad.


Though cod is not a fish found in the Mediterranean, Italians consume large quantities of it dried (called stoccafisso), and salted (called baccalà). In Venice, baccalà, creamed and spread on bread, is one of the most common and popular appetizers.
Codfish cakes are traditionally made with salt cod, which needs a day or more of soaking to soften and desalinate the fish. For the most part, though, salt cod has gone out of style, at least in North America. It’s too bad since there are so many wonderful Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and French dishes that feature it.

A simple solution is to use a light cure which gives the fish the seasoning it needs. It also helps keep the flesh firm when cooked and gives the cakes a moist texture. See the instructions below.

Sicilian Codfish Cakes

Ingredients

1 lb of cod fillets
1 teaspoon salt
1 lb potatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
Olive oil, for frying

Directions

Curing the fish

Season cod fillet all over with the salt and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
Boil and mash the potatoes and set them aside.
Rinse the codfish briefly with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

Cooking the cod

Fill a saucepan with water. Add a thyme sprig and a bay leaf and bring to a boil. Carefully slip fish into the water and turn off the heat. Wait 3 minutes and test with a fork; the fish should be just done. Drain fish and let cool, then transfer to a mixing bowl and flake.

Mix the flaked fish, the potatoes, parsley, cheese, garlic, onion, pepper andeggs together well by hand. Form into 4-6 patties and place them on a sheet of waxed paper.

Dredge the patties in panko crumbs, pressing them into the fish cakes. Refrigerate for several hours.

 

Heat enough oil in a large skillet to cover the bottom of the pan. Fry the fish cakes until brown on the bottom,2-3 minutes and turn the cakes over and fry 2-3 minutes more.

Roasted Butternut Squash Noodles

Ingredients

12 oz pkg. frozen butternut squash spirals, defrosted
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400*.F

Let the noodles drain in a colander and then place them on a kitchen towel. Gently squeeze out some of the water. Toss the noodles with the avocado or olive oil and spread out on a sheet pan in a single layer.

Transfer to the oven, and roast the squash until tender and al dente, about 10 minutes, stirring the noodles halfway through.
Remove the butternut squash noodles from the over and season with salt and pepper.and serve immediately.

Cucumbers in Dilled Sour Cream

2 servings

Ingredients

Half of an English cucumber, sliced into thin rounds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 whole scallions, chopped
2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Directions

Place cucumber slices in a colander; sprinkle with salt, tossing to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
Combine sour cream, scallions, vinegar, sugar, and dill in a mixing bowl. Add cucumber slices and toss to coat. Let salad stand for at least 5 minutes before serving, or chill for up to one day.


Vietnamese Americans are the fourth-largest Asian American ethnic group after Chinese Americans, Filipino Americans, and Indian Americans, and have developed distinctive characteristics in the United States.

South Vietnamese immigration to the United States began after the Vietnam War ended in 1975. Early immigrants were refugee boat people, fleeing persecution or seeking economic opportunities. More than half of Vietnamese Americans reside in the states of California and Texas. Other states with concentrations of Vietnamese Americans were Washington, Florida (four percent each) and Virginia (three percent). According.to the 2012 American Community Survey (ACS), 76 percent of foreign-born Vietnamese are naturalized U.S. citizens.

The April 30, 1975 fall of Saigon, which ended the Vietnam War, prompted the first large-scale wave of immigration; many with close ties to America or the South Vietnam government feared communist reprisals. Most of the first-wave immigrants were well-educated, financially comfortable, and proficient in English. Although Vietnamese immigration has continued at a fairly steady pace since the 1980s, the pathway to immigration for Vietnamese today has shifted entirely. As opposed to the earlier history of Vietnamese migration that stemmed predominantly from refugees, an overwhelming majority of Vietnamese are now granted lawful permanent residence (LPR) on the basis of family-sponsored preferences or by way of relatives who are U.S. citizens, at 53% and 44% respectively.

Many Vietnamese Americans are small business owners. According to a 2002 Census Bureau survey of Vietnamese-owned firms, more than 50 percent of the businesses are personal services or repair and maintenance. The period from 1997 to 2002 saw substantial growth in the number of Vietnamese-owned business. Throughout the country, many Vietnamese (especially first or second-generation immigrants) have opened supermarkets, restaurants, bánh mì bakeries, beauty salons, barbershops, and auto-repair businesses. Restaurants owned by Vietnamese Americans tend to serve Vietnamese cuisine, Vietnamized Chinese cuisine or both and have popularized phở and chả giò in the U.S.

While adapting to a new country, Vietnamese Americans have tried to preserve their traditional culture by teaching their children the Vietnamese language, wearing traditional dress (áo dài) for special occasions and showcasing their cuisine in restaurants throughout the country. Family loyalty is the most important Vietnamese cultural characteristic, and more than two generations traditionally lived under one roof. The Vietnamese view family as including maternal and paternal grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. In adapting to American culture, most Vietnamese American families have adopted the nuclear pattern while trying to maintain close ties with their extended families.

Lunar New Year festivities take place in Little Saigon at Falls Church, VA

Erica J. Peters, director of the Culinary Historians of Northern California and author of “Appetites and Aspirations in Vietnam: Food and Drink in the Long Nineteenth Century,” says, “The immigrant story is that you miss the foods from your home country when they’re not available and you talk to each other a lot about, ‘Well, how can we make do? How can we recreate some of the flavors of what we had there?’
So, Houston, Orange County, CA and New Orleans became huge hubs for Vietnamese families. The matriarchs were all great cooks and their children had high standards when it came to Vietnamese food. So when they went out to eat in a restaurant, they wanted to have that similar taste or better; otherwise, they wouldn’t eat there.

Common ingredients in Vietnamese cuisine include fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, bean sauce, rice, fresh herbs, fruit, and vegetables. French cuisine has also had a major influence due to the French colonization of Vietnam. Vietnamese recipes use lemongrass, ginger, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander, Saigon cinnamon, bird’s eye chili, lime, and Thai basil leaves. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is greatly admired for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of dairy and oil, complementary textures, and reliance on herbs and vegetables. Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide

So what dishes did Vietnamese restaurant owners bring to the U.S. with them?

To mention just a few classics:
Pho is a simple staple consisting of a salty broth, fresh rice noodles, a sprinkling of herbs and chicken or beef.

Banh xeo is a crispy crepe bulging with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, plus the garnish of fresh herbs that are characteristic of most authentic Vietnamese dishes.

Cao lau is a pork noodle dish from Hoi An that is a bit like the various cultures that visited the trading port at its prime. The thicker noodles are similar to Japanese udon, the crispy won-ton crackers and pork are a Chinese touch, while the broth and herbs are clearly Vietnamese.

Nem ran/cha gio
Vietnam’s bite-sized crunchy spring rolls might not enjoy the same popularity as their healthier fresh equivalent, but they deserve a special mention. The crispy shell with a soft veggie and meat filling dunked in a tangy sauce.
Most Vietnamese dishes are actually really easy to make at home.
Nem ran/cha gio are crunchy spring rolls with a soft veggie and meat filling dunked in a tangy sauce.

Bun bo nam bo is a bowl of noodles without broth, tender slices of beef mingle, crunchy peanuts, bean sprouts that are flavored with fresh herbs, crisp dried shallots, a splash of fish sauce and fiery chili pepper.

Xoi is a bowl of savory sticky rice. Rice is less of an accompaniment to meals in Vietnam and more of a meal itself. The dish comes with any number of mix-ins (from slithers of chicken, or pork to fried or preserved eggs), and always with a scattering of dried shallots on top.

Banh mi Sandwich. The French may have brought with them the baguette, but Vietnam takes it to a different level by adding a combination of cheese, cold cuts, pickled vegetables, sausage, fried egg, fresh cilantro, and chili sauce.
For dessert
Bbánh flan – a coconut and galangal crème caramel flan

Make this Vietnamese Dinner at home.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Pork Filling
1 cup shredded cooked pork
1/2 cup dried Asian mushrooms (rehydrate in water for 30 minutes or until softened then finely mince)
1/2 cup cellophane rice noodles rehydrated in water for 30 minutes or until softened then into 2-inch lengths)
1 green onion (trim off ends and slice thinly)
1/2 small white/yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
6 Spring Roll Rice Wrappers
Warm water to rehydrate the wrappers
Vegetable oil for frying
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Mam Cham), recipe below

Directions

Filling
In a medium-size bowl, mix together the pork, mushrooms, cellophane noodles, green onions, white/yellow onion, sugar, black pepper, salt and oyster sauce. Set aside.

Rolls
The dried rice paper wrapper needs to be softened before wrapping. To do this, fill a shallow bowl with warm tap water Take one rice paper wrapper and immerse it completely in the water. Make sure that the wrapper is completely wet. Wait about 30 seconds for the wrapper to soften. It will turn malleable and start to feel sticky and that’s ok.

Put the wet wrapper on a kitchen towel or large empty plate or cutting board. Place 2 tablespoons of filling about 1 inch from the edge of the wrapper, on the side closest to you. Press the filling together.

First, fold the edge of the wrapper closest to you so that it covers the filling. Make sure that this first fold completely covers the filling, and pull the edge of the fold slightly under the filling making a taut, small parcel.

Using both your hands, fold the right side of the wrapper toward the center, stopping where the filling is. Do the same with the other side–fold the left side of the wrapper toward the center, stopping where the filling is.

Continue folding the wrapper by grabbing the enclosed filling and turning it over until it reaches the end of the wrapper. Check all sides to make sure there are no loose ends on the wrapper. This ensures the filling won’t escape when frying.

If you’re not going to fry the spring rolls right away, line them all up on a plate and cover with plastic wrap so that they do not dry up. Make sure that the spring rolls do not touch each other, as they can be a bit sticky and may tear if you need to pull them apart. If not frying right away cover the rolls with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Alternatively, you may freeze the wrapped spring rolls to be cooked at another time.

To bake the rolls
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Make the spring rolls: Pierce each roll with a skewer in a few places to prevent bursting.
Place a rack in a baking dish and brush with vegetable oil. Mix 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil; lightly brush on rolls. Place the rolls on the rack; bake until golden on top, about 15 minutes. Turn the rolls; bake until golden and crisp, 8 to 10 more minutes.

Serve with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce.

Nuoc Cham Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

Nuoc Cham is a must at every Vietnamese table, no matter what is served. You can use this condiment for dipping meat, seafood and vegetables, and for drizzling on rice. Although it will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator, Nuoc Cham is best when freshly made.

Ingredients
3 Thai bird chiles, or 1 serrano chile
1 garlic clove, sliced
3 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
5 tablespoons fish sauce, such as Red Boat
2 tablespoons finely shredded carrots for garnish

Directions

Cut the chiles into thin rings and cut each in half. Place all the ingredients except the carrots in a small serving bowl. Stir well and set aside for at least10 minutes before using. Sprinkle carrots on top before serving.
Yield 1 cup.

Lemongrass Beef And Shrimp Skewers

Ingredients

1 pound top sirloin, strip or ribeye steak
1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails intact
Skewers – metal or wooden soaked in warm water

Marinade
1/3 cup minced fresh lemongrass, white part only
1/4 cup minced shallot
1 red chili pepper, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Garnish:
Lettuce
Finely chopped scallions
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce
Rice Noodles with herbs, recipe below

Directions for the skewers
Slice the steak into small thin pieces approximately 3/4″ square and 1/4″ thick.
Combine all the ingredients for the Marinade. Add the marinade to the meat and mix well. Marinate for at least 1 hour. Insert the meat through the skewers.

Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and add to the Marinade with the beef cubes. Stir to combine well and marinate for 15 minutes. Thread shrimp onto the skewers.

Heat a stovetop grill. Grill the meat for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until desired tenderness. Grill the shrimp on both sides until they are charred and cooked through.
Place the skewers on a lettuce-lined serving platter. Place the noodle mixture in the center, the skewers on the one side of the plate and spring rolls on the other side.. Garnish the Skewers with bits of scallion and serve with the dipping sauce.

Rice Noodles With Fresh Herbs

\Ingredients

3 oz dried rice noodles
3//4 cup fresh bean sprouts
1/3 cucumber, cut in matchstick strips
1/3 cup mint leaves, cut into thirds
1/3 cup Asian basil leaves, cut into thirds

Directions

Pour boiling water over the noodles to cover. and stir gently to loosen. Set aside for 30 minutes.. Drain and let noodles sit until dry and sticky about 30 minutes
Gently toss together the bean sprouts, cucumbers, mint, and basil leaves in a mixing bowl. Add the sticky noodles and toss. Add a little salt and pepper.
Place the noodles in the center of the lettuce-lined serving platter and serve with the skewers and spring rolls. Serve the dipping sauce on the side.

 


Panzanella

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small country bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small clove garlic, grated
11/2 lbs ripe, meaty tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 3-1/2 cups)
Half an English cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed

For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon grated garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

For the bread preparation:
Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and a sprinkle of salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette:
Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

For the salad:
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, mint, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Italian Style Grilled Tuna

For 2-3 servings

Ingredients

12 oz fresh tuna fillets (albacore and yellowfin, 1/2-inch thick, cut into serving pieces
1/2 lemon, zested
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, grated
1/2 tablespoon each of coarse salt and coarse black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for coating the tuna

Directions

Combine the lemon zest, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Drizzle olive oil over the tuna fillet and rub the herb and garlic mixture into the fish, coating evenly on all sides. Let stand 10 minutes.

Heat an outdoor grill or a stovetop grill pan.
Grill tuna steaks 4-5 minutes on each side over medium-high heat. Serve with the salad.


African immigrants in the United States come from almost all regions in Africa and do not constitute a homogeneous group. They include peoples from different national, linguistic, ethnic, racial, cultural and social backgrounds. As such, African immigrants are distinct from African Americans, many of whose ancestors were involuntarily brought from West Africa and Central Africa to British North America by means of the Atlantic slave trade. African Americans whose ancestors were forced into slavery and Africans who emigrated to the US have all contributed numerous qualities in the development of the US as a nation and have greatly influenced our culinary world.

Since the 17th century, enslaved Africans and their descendants have had a profound impact on what Americans grow and eat. Watermelon, okra, yams, black-eyed peas, and some peppers are all indigenous to Africa. Fruits and vegetables brought from Africa flourished in America in large part because enslaved Africans planted their own gardens to supplement the meager rations provided by their captors. These plants eventually made their way from gardens of the enslaved to those of some of the wealthiest and most prominent people in the country, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, whose gardens were planted with heirloom seeds from Africa. Enslaved African chefs left their mark on certain cooking methods, while also developing recipes that are now staples in the American diet, particularly in the American South. Dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, pepper pot and the method of cooking greens called Hoppin’ John (a dish made with greens and pork) are all examples. “The method of deep frying of fish or barbecuing meats were all documented in West Africa before the transatlantic slave trade,” says Kelley Deetz, director of programming at Stratford Hall and who is also the author of Bound to the Fire, which explores how Virginia’s enslaved cooks helped invent American cuisine. “These dishes and ingredients were essential to the formation of Southern, and eventually American, food.”

The continent of Africa has seen many changes in migration patterns over the course of history. The influx of African immigrants began in the latter part of the 20th century and is often referred to as the “fourth great migration.” About three-fourths of all immigrants from Africa went to the United States after 1990. This trend began after decolonization, as many Africans moved to the U.S. seeking education and an escape from poverty, and this trend has been steadily rising over time. Originally, these immigrants came with the sole purpose of advancing themselves before returning to their respective countries. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of African immigrants interested in gaining permanent residence in the U.S. One major factor that contributes to migration from Africa to the United States is for job opportunities. It has been relatively easier for Africans with advanced education to leave and enter the international labor markets. In addition, many Africans move to the United States for advanced training. For example, doctors from different African nations move to the U.S. in order to increase their skills and gain more economic opportunities.

African immigrants tend to retain their culture once in the United States. Cultural bonds are developed through shared ethnic or national affiliations. Some organizations like the Ghanaian group Fantse-Kuo and the Sudanese Association are organized by country, region, or ethnic group. Other nonprofits like the Malawi Washington Association is organize by national identity and are inclusive of all Malawians. Other groups present traditional culture from a pan-African perspective. Using traditional skills and knowledge, African-born entrepreneurs develop services for immigrants and the community at large. In the Washington area, events such as the annual Ethiopian soccer tournament, institutions such as the AME Church African Liberation Ministry, and “friends” and “sister cities” organizations bring together different communities. According to estimates in 2000, there were 8.7 million African American families in the United States. The ten states with the largest populations of African Americans are New York, California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Louisiana, Michigan, and Maryland.

The migration of Africans to Europe and the US has introduced a range of African culinary dishes to the world. Ethiopian and Moroccan foods have made their mark with popular restaurants in urban hubs like London, New York, Paris, and Washington DC. Traditionally, African cuisines use a combination of locally grown fruits, vegetables, cereal grains, and meats. African cuisine can be broken down largely into styles from Central Africa, East Africa, the Horn of Africa, North Africa, South Africa, and West Africa. Heavily influenced by spices, African recipes are known for their intense flavor and often include combining sweet flavors such as dried fruit, ginger, and cinnamon with garlic and onions.

The historical record indicates chickens were known in ancient Egypt by 1,400 BC, and later in the Greek and Roman empires. When they first arrived in sub-Saharan Africa is unknown, but they are now common throughout Africa as in the rest of the world. A similar bird, the guinea fowl, is native to Africa and is widely raised there. Both are often called kuku in many African languages. Nsusu or soso are words for chicken in the Congo region. Every culture has its own way of cooking chicken. One classic method of preparing chicken in Africa is to stew it in a peanut and tomato sauce (this basic recipe goes by many names in different parts of Africa). Another delicious African chicken dish is Poulet Yassa, which is chicken marinated in an onion-mustard mixture. The African kitchen is traditionally outside or in a separate building apart from the sleeping and living quarters. By far the most traditional and to-this-day the most common sight in an African kitchen is a stewpot filled with meat and vegetables (often greens) simmering over a fire. The pot usually sits on three stones arranged in a triangle, and the fire slowly consumes three pieces of wood that meet at a point under the pot.

Here is another traditional recipe for chicken.

Piri-Piri Chicken with Piri-Piri Sauce

Piri-Piri (sometimes spelled peri-peri) is Swahili for ‘pepper pepper’, or ‘strong pepper’ and refers to an African-style chili sauce. Piri-Piri Chicken is marinated in a hot chile pepper marinade, then grilled. This dish evolved in Angola and Mozambique (once Portuguese colonies) after Portuguese explorers and settlers brought American chili peppers to Africa.

The most basic piri-piri marinade recipe calls for just oil, cayenne pepper or minced fresh hot chile peppers, and salt. Many piri-piri recipes add an acidic liquid (usually lemon or lime juice, or vinegar, or possibly wine or liquor) which adds a tang and tenderizes the chicken. More elaborate versions also include additional flavorings and spices.

This recipe makes quite a bit and since I cook for two most days, I cut the recipe in half. This dish is delicious and the chicken turns out quite tender and juicy. The sauce has a bit of a kick but not overly spicy.

6-8 servings

Ingredients

4 lb chicken cut into parts or 4 lbs of your favorite chicken parts, about 8 pieces.

Peri Peri Marinade
3 red chilies (reduce for less heat or remove seeds), finely chopped or use 2 tablespoons red chili paste
1 green chili, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Peri Peri Sauce
3 tablespoons reserved marinade
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar

Directions

Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold all the chicken parts and blend well.

Reserve 3 tablespoons of the marinade in a small storage container and the coat the chicken with the remaining marinade. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours to overnight.

Hear an outdoor grill or stovetop grill pan.

For the Piri-Piri Sauce
Add reserved marinade, water, and sugar to a small saucepan and bring to boil. Cook for 2 minutes, remove from the heat and keep warm.

To cook the chicken
Place chicken bone side down on the grill. Cook for 10 minutes. Turn chicken over and cook for 25-30 minutes. Turn chicken over once more and grill for another 5 minutes. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and drizzle the sauce over the grilled chicken.

African Cucumber Sambal

Ingredients

2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 green chili (jalapeno pepper), minced
1 teaspoon sugar or natural sweetener (honey, agave nectar, etc.)
1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 mint leaves, minced
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, quartered and thinly sliced

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir and toss well to cover.


Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving.
The Sambal will store up to 4 days refrigerated in a tightly covered container.

West African Style Rice With Black-eyed Peas

Every culture seems to have its own version of rice and beans. Peanut oil and hot red pepper give this dish a West African flavor.

Carolina Gold Rice, long grain rice, was the basis of the colonial and antebellum economy of Carolina and Georgia. Considered the grandfather of long grain rice in the Americas, Carolina Gold (which came from Africa and Indonesia) became a commercial staple grain in the coastal lands of Charles Towne in the Carolina Territory in 1685. The rice has a superior flavor, nutty aroma, a tiny texture and a beautiful golden hue in the field. Cooking directions differ from traditional rice, in that, Carolina gold is boiled in salted water rather than simmered.

4 servings

Ingredients

1 cup (200 grams) dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight in water to cover or one 15.8 oz can of black-eyed peas
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 large vine ripe tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 ⁄ 4 teaspoon ground hot red pepper (cayenne)
1 ⁄ 8 teaspoon salt
Cooked Carolina (Charleston) gold rice (recipe below)

Directions

To cook the beans if using dried beans:

Cover black-eyed peas with water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat until soft, about 1 hour. Drain and set aside.

Or drain and rinse the canned beans. Set aside.

To finish the dish

Heat oil in a heavy pot. Add onion, tomato, tomato paste, red pepper, and salt. Simmer 10 minutes, uncovered, over medium heat until vegetables are soft. Add rice and beans to the pan. Cover and let the dish sit for 5 minutes before serving. Adjust seasoning if needed.

 Rice

If you use regular long grain white rice, follow the package directions for cooking 1/2 cup rice.

4 Servings

Ingredients

1/2 cup Carolina gold rice
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups of water

Directions

Bring the water to a boil in a medium heavy saucepan. Rinse the rice three times with tap water in a mixing bowl. Add the rice and salt to the boiling water. Stir gently to separate the grains and cook in boiling water 12-15 minutes until rice is tender and doubled in size. Drain the rice in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside to add to the beans.

Sources:  Jessica B. Harris’ The Africa Cookbook; Marcus Samuelsson’s The Soul of a New Cuisine and The Congo Cookbook.



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