Happy Memorial Day and big thanks to our men and women who proudly and courageously serve our country!
This week we cooked cuisine from Korea. Since it was Memorial Day weekend ( the traditional time for firing up the BBQ and grilling wonderful meat); we decided that Korean BBQ sounded appropriate. This meal was a fun, interesting and spicy twist on our normal pork BBQ tradition in our home. The spices are readily available down the ethnic food aisle at the grocery store; but if you have the time I would recommend that you completely immerse yourself in this culture by visiting an Asian market for these ingredients.
THE DINNER: This recipe was easy to find. There are so many variations! Korean’s refer to this BBQ as “Bulgogi” and let’s just say, it’s super spicy but really flavorful! I’m sure if you have kiddos (or adults like my dad) who can’t handle the heat— don’t throw them out of the kitchen like the saying goes; just tone down the red pepper flakes and Korean chili paste!
Be sure not to skip the step where you freeze the pork before cutting it. It may save time, but you will have the hardest time trying to slice it. Pork is naturally sinewy and fatty, which makes for a tricky time cutting it. The freezing sets the meat so you can get it nice and thin.
We decided to grille it on the grille as it called for this– though I’m sure you can pan fry it if you don’t have access to a grille. Just throw it on the skewers like kabobs.
Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five. This dish along with the sides (rice and coleslaw) were relatively easy to prepare. Nothing tricky and no special cookware or kitchen tools (some people call these utensils…but I like referring to them as tools) required. Best dish of all time scale: FIVE stars out of five. These dishes were quite simply out of this world good to eat! But not for the faint of heart…they are spicy and the longer the coleslaw marinates, the hotter it gets. Of course, they were also healthy eats which made them all the better in my book.
There’s been a few requests for us to announce next weekend’s country at the end of our posts so that some people can cook along, or not die from the anticipation! With the poll from last week’s post, we are doing Guatemala!
This week we decided to head to Europe for our food adventure. We picked the Ukraine since it’s been on the news so much these days. Sad as their plight is as of late, we were seriously excited to take this challenge on this Sunday. I mean, who doesn’t absoutely love and adore a country who basically puts sour cream in everything!? AM I RIGHT? (I already know I am, but your validation of this point is priceless all the same).
THE DINNER: We basically had so much to choose from- and settled on a cucumber salad as it has an ironic twist of kismet that we loved. In finding recipes this week, I noticed this Ukrainian dish called “Spring Salad”…I was naturally intrigued because the picture looked just like a cucumber salad my mom makes through the warmer months. She’s been making this cucumber salad for what had pretty much been the entirety of my life and I’m sure dates well beyond my 25 yrs on this planet. I had to know more! Interestingly enough, it was sort of the same dish and we never knew! So, our side dish this week was a no-brainer.
Our main course was chosen because it sounded like fun! We decided to make dumplings! Neither one of us had ever made dumplings before and we could just imagine some darling little Ukrainian grandmother pinching these cute little dumplings together and we fell in love with it. The dumplings were called “Vushka” which means “little ear” in Ukrainian. They are totally darling little things indeed. No meat in the menu this week! These dumplings are flour based (not potato) and filled with this mushroom/breadcrumb/butter goodness. We were so very excited to fill them and stuff them… and it certainly was no where near as easy as it seems to stuff them and pinch them closed without having them lose it all in the boiling water. Some various things caused these to be tricky- mainly it was that the dough sometimes wouldn’t stick to itself or that we had accidentally overfilled them. Those problems were pretty much remedied with practice. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. They were scrumptious. They offered two choices on how to serve the Vushka (our new fav word around the house this week, by the way). One was in borscht and the other was to be served with sour cream and fried onions. We chose the later because it sounded so yummy. Sour cream, need I extrapolate more?
OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE: Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five. This meal offered some challenges in dumpling making. It was very easy to cook though, just boil them till they float. Also the salad was a handful variety of easily chopped produce and the dressing was literally two ingredients. There was a slight learning curve with the assembly of the Vushka, but it wasn’t difficult at all. Best dish of all time scale: FOUR stars out of five. We were all delighted with how well this one turned out. Dumplings smothered in sour cream and fried onions was not a mark to miss. They were flavorful and hearty. The salad (as my mom’s other salad typically is) was incredibly light and refreshing. This one was a great country. I could easily see us integrating it into our rotation of everyday food based solely on taste. BIG YUMMY noises coming from my dad at the table too.
Hope your week found you enjoying nice weather… it snowed here… in May. Which I wish I could say was abnormal, but if I’m being honest, Colorado natives have seen stranger things happen. So, 10 inches of wet snow in May is really not something we concerned ourselves about.
We decided that since it was Mother’s Day weekend (and we didn’t want Mom to have to cook up a storm, but rather get to relax instead Sunday) we would do our country Saturday. And along that vein, since it was her weekend, we decided she should pick the country. She picked Morocco! THE DINNER: We set out in search of a good tagine recipe and, of course, we had to find some good couscous to go with it!
We had a great time finding all the ingredients– turns out our spice cabinet was in massive need of some exotic spices. Turmeric and cumin to be precise. The kitchen smelled just as I would imagine a Moroccan market does by the end of it all. For all the ingredients, the dishes really weren’t difficult just time consuming. We weren’t trying to tackle more than we could handle, so traditional Naan was purchased at the grocers instead of trying to find a wood burning stove or a wood pit to make ours traditionally. Perhaps some things really are best left to the experts? Speaking of which, some of the instructions in the recipes left something to be desired and something to the imagination.
Some things said in the kitchen this week:
“To drain or not to drain liquid from the chicken. That really is the question…?”
“Do you suppose they really meant a whole red onion? Of what size?”
“I wonder if you’re supposed to chop the olives in the chicken?”
“We should always dance when cooking.”
Ok… to be fair, the last one isn’t applicable to the recipes– but we really enjoy dancing in our house…
OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE: Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STARS out of five. This meal is offered some challenges in prep work. LOTS of chopping and some “babysitting” with the couscous. Best dish of all time scale: TWO stars out of five. Universally we agreed that the chicken was a little dry, though flavorful. I personally would have liked to grille the veggies to make them much more crisp in the couscous- it seemed oven roasting just didn’t do the trick like we would have wanted. That being said, it was all so very yummy and leftovers were still delicious well into the week! BONUS!
We had a debate on how to start our journey into food-land recently… how should we decide where to start?? Throw a dart in our map? Spin around and pin the tail on the first country we touch? Toss a globe in the air and whatever country my left pinky finger touches is the food we will commence with?!
All really good ideas. But when it came down to it, we, as we so often do in the Brovsky house, let our stomachs do the talking. Cinco de Mayo celebrations filled our city- which is known regionally and globally for it’s large Mexican population and kickin’ cuisine from South of the Border. So, with this our first weekend, we took it as a sign and paid humble homage to that tradition. We start our food extravaganza in Mexico.
THE DINNER: My mom has always made these amazing baked enchiladas. It’s a casserole and the recipe is very simple (as is the key to good Mexican food– Simplicity). I definitely will be happy to give away this family secret to anyone who really wishes to know- but the recipe is close to this one: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Enchilada-Casserole/
Now, my mom is clever and has made these several variations in my time on this earth. You can make chicken ones (my favorite) and vegetarian ones (because I stick to mainly a vegetarian diet) include black beans. You could also use Mexican rice and corn.
We used the traditional ground beef in light of the holiday and because it sounded good at the time. Topped with green onions, black olives and PLENTY of sour cream (because that’s the best part!). We toasted margaritas and Coronas and set off to decide what next week would be!
OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE: Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five. This meal is simple and ingredients are easily found. Best dish of all time scale: THREE stars out of five. It is everyday delicious, though nothing that will leave you speechless. Good, solid standby.
My wonderfully brilliant mother had an epiphany one night last week…She, in all her adventurous wonder, was going to cook and bake; grille and saute; season and baste her culinary way around the world. Her goal is simple. There are 195 countries (according to Wikipedia) and over the course of 195 weekends to come, we, the Brovsky clan will embark on native cuisine from each of these lands. One country each Sunday will be invited into our Colorado home and given a warm welcome.
Call us foodies. passionate. silly. crazy. But this truth remains: a wonderful adventure it will be.
So armed with a map and hungry for more, each week, we will be updating you on the new and interesting menu we have planned. Sure, it’s certainly a lot of work ahead… but we should all believe, “Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with complete abandon or not at all.”