#142: Lebanon

Buona Sera!!

I have been watching sooo much of Master of None this week. The new gentleman caller and I are absolutely addicted to this season– and sort of shipping this Francesca/Dev romance. There’s a wonderful scene where they are dancing in Dev’s kitchen (which for those men reading, that is the single most romantic move you can have in your arsenal. You can thank me later for that one) and Francesca starts translating this song to Dev that’s in Italian. Where are you going with this Kris? Well, till that moment, I found the idea of translating to be so annoying and cumbersome… I now have fallen in love with the moving of words from one language to another. A new appreciation was born. It’s a beautiful thing. In this vein, I’ve starting taking Italian lessons. Allora, Allora.

THE DINNER: Now, while I love translating language now– I’m still not a fan of translating units of measure. This week’s recipe did call for a little of that nonsense. I just think the US should get away from standard measure, but que sera sera (look how good I’m getting at Italian!? haha).

I have a lab collaboration with a team at the Technion in Israel and have had a stream of conference calls. It’s gotten me in the mood for some food from the region. Thus, we picked Lebanon for this week. We were happy to find it really is a gateway between the palates of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The recipe we picked was a Challah bread with feta, olives and sun dried tomatoes. It’s like stuffed bread?! What’s not to love about that. And we have had the most lovely love affair with this type of bread ever since we made Passover for #46 (Israel). It’s fluffy and buttery and while it takes forever this is a simple case of “good things come to those who wait”… even if they wait impatiently.

Lebanese Challah Recipe: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/452189618825355611/

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Ease of prep and cooking: FIVE STARS out of five this meal!
Woof, guys. This one was a marathon not a sprint. Now this wasn’t entirely a shocker, as this is not our first hollar at Challah, if you know what I mean 😉 but it was not a picnic in Civic Center Park either. It’s not that the ingredients were tricky, it was just incredibly time intensive and a massive amount of baby sitting. All that aside, the ingredient list was considerably different from our traditional Israeli Challah many moons ago. So don’t get caught on auto pilot. We also would like to note, our first rise did not double in size, though it did expand. Additional notes from the kitchen, the amount of eggs is staggering– you’ve been warned. This one is an all day commitment.

Best dish of all time scale: THREE (and change) STARS out of five for Meal!!
GAHHH. It’s always a bummer when you spend the whole day working for it to just miss the mark. That’s what happened here. It’s a build up and let down situation. It was so much more dense than it’s traditional neighbor… not like Challah at all. It was also sweet… which if you know me, is so not a problem, but since it was stuffed with savory cheese and olives it was so bizarre. It was just not correct somehow. Though ironically and in all fairness– we all kept eating it! So it must not have been disgusting. All in all, I just couldn’t give it more than a “three and change” star mark.

SIDE NOTE WORTH MENTIONING: Those were the best damn sun dried tomatoes that I’ve ever encountered. I may not be eating those directly from the jar…

Where are we off to next? Well, that would be Kosovo for #143! ALSO— we have new aprons and t-shirts for those of you interested, DM me 🙂

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Ciao, Bella!
– L & K

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#141: St.Vincent and The Grenadines

Doesn’t that sound like an 80’s band? Like Katrina and the Waves. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers or Joan Jett and the Blackhearts??

That was exactly my thoughts on the matter too. If you’re anything like us, we love some good tag team duos. The last few weekends have been organized chaos, with graduations, moving, trips, bridal showers and the impending promise of endless summer. We took a few minutes out of the fray to sit down and share a meal with each other, because at the end of the day– those are the best days. The ones where you’re in your mom’s kitchen having a glass of wine. Your hair is a mess (and your life is a little too) but you couldn’t be happier.

THE DINNER: This one was sort of a breakfast… now I say “sort of” because it is still unclear as of yet what exactly we ended up cooking for St. Vincent. Basically these are what is commonly referred to as “Johnny Cakes” and they are typically served for breakfast. In the St. Vincent area they are called “Fry Bakes”. Now, if you’re state side like I am, it’s not drenched in syrup and therefore I have a hard time getting my mind around them. No, they’re not pancakes. They’re like sweet fried bread. All those words together are wonderful, so we are not surprised if these were just that.

Fry Bakes Recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/mamas-fry-bakes-st-vincent-and-the-grenadines-194158

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Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STAR out of five this meal!
So this was odd in a whole lot of ways. It’s not as simple as pancake batter– it’s bread dough. But with that taken in to account, it was not hard to make and with the simplistic ingredient list, it was a dream and half to pull together. Frying is cake… Johnny Cakes. See what I did there? 😉

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR STARS out of five for Meal!!
I just wanted these to be sweeter… or more buttery. I’m not sure if powdered sugar would have solved this problem or a glaze or hell, just plain ol’ maple syrup; but I will tell you that I’m not altogether upset about the lack of sweetness. They were fluffy and crispy all at once. They were warm and satisfying. It wasn’t a bad trip to the islands, man. It might not have been a 5 star trip, but any trip to the sand and sun is welcomed when you have snow at the end of May in Colorado. Am I right?

We will be diving in to the culinary world of Lebanon for #142!

Bon Appetite, mon amour!
– L & K

#140: Brunei

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Sorry about the radio silence this last week—we were hanging on Stinson Beach in Fog City taking a much needed vacation. So I was a little remiss in posting this one. The City by the Bay was sooo good to us. We did it all: spent some time in prison (Alcatraz and angel island), walked our shoes off on Fisherman’s Wharf and the Embarcadero, proceeded to eat all the chocolate at Ghirardelli Square, had sushi and oysters after walking on Golden Gate Bridge and then we were off to Marin Woods and Napa. We hit three amazing wineries when we got to Napa (Andretti, Hess Collection and Domaine Carneros). I have to give a little shout out to our awesome sommeliers– here’s looking at you Sue and Douglas! They made our tastings so enjoyable. Additionally, since we are Hitchcock fans, we stopped off in Bodega Bay for a little breakfast with The Birds. All in all, we were happy little clams and it was hard to come back to the Mile High City.

THE DINNER: While we may have left our hearts in San Francisco, we picked Brunei for our 140th country meal! Just to update you all on this project, we have 55 countries left– which means we are a little over a year’s work of Sunday’s away from finishing our project multiyear cooking adventure.

On the topic of Brunei and Napa, alcohol is banned in the country. Which is still astonishing in this day and age. They do drink a lot of coffee, and since that’s the nectar of the gods, I’m positive they’re doing just fine. Most of their food is halal due to their high Islamic population and staple foods are fish, chicken and rice. Pork is avoided for religious reasons and beef is super expensive, so it’s less common but occasionally seen for special occasions. They eat a whole lot of wild game (read: venison and fowl). You can expect that the flavor profile will be much like it’s geographic partners (India, China and Thailand/Indonesia) with flavors of curry, shallot, ginger, etc. We picked Bruneian Buttermilk Chicken for the dish. Evidently, this is the Bruneian equivalent to meatloaf or pot roast. It’s their go-to family meal. Easy, quick and delicious. They literally have buttermilk chicken sandwiches and pizzas and it’s everywhere in Brunei.

Bruneian Buttermilk Chicken Recipe: http://www.yummygraphy.com/2014/10/bruneian-buttermilk-chicken.html/#tc-comment-title

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this meal!
We had to find curry leaves. That was a little tricky, but it afforded us a trip to our favorite place– P.O.M (Pacific Ocean Market). Once there, we easily located the needed leaves (and so much more we didn’t need but desperately wanted). From there, it’s basically fried chicken and added to a curry cream sauce.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
Nice and complex. The curry leaves really added an extra element to this one. It was somehow both sweet from the condensed milk, spicy from the peppers, and citrusy from the curry leaves. The cornmeal made for a very crisp fry on the chicken, allowing for it to hold up with the cream curry. Often times the breading will get greasy or bogged down with a curry or sauce– lucky for us this was not the case. The sauce itself? Super velvety in texture. What would have made it a five star meal…? Well, it just needed something. More heat or more sweet? Maybe one way or the other on the spectrum would have made it hit a home run.

Speaking of Home Runs, I’m off to the Rockies Game and then we will be traveling to St. Vincent and the Grenadines for #141!! I know we just got back from the coast, but I’m ready for a trip to the Caribbean 😉

Happy Eating!
– L & K