Thursday, September 22, 2011

Round the World Tapas Night

In honor of my to-be cookbook, and all of the cooking, recipe creating, and experimenting I was doing over the summer, I invited some friends over and cooked a round the world tapas night for ten. I had one small plate for each country I cooked in (which amounted to five courses), along with two desserts. So here they are, in order:

First Course: I started with a homemade Indian samosa with mint and tamarind chutneys. Samosas are a popular snack food in India, but are rarely made at home. When they are, they are usually smaller and shaped as seen in the picture, rather than upright like most of those seen in restaurants.

 Second Course: I made a Moroccan soup called Harira, which is one of my favorite dishes from Morocco. Harira should be delicious at the first bite, and then outstanding once the lemon is squeezed in. Served with Moroccan bread, 'Khobs,' like most food in Morocco, Harira is said to be a meal all in one, since it contains so many ingredients common in Moroccan cuisine.

Third Course: For this course, I made Paticlan, a traditional Turkish eggplant salad, which I added a lettuce cup and roasted red peppers to for color. Unfortunately, this course wasn't captured on film, but its lemony flavor provided the perfect middle dish to cleanse the pallet.

Fourth Course: My fourth course was a real peasant dish from Ethiopia called 'Ful', or lima beans. Usually eaten for breakfast, Ful isn't found in any restaurants or cookbooks, since Ethiopians consider this something to eat rather than a meal that represents their cuisine. I found out about this dish by spending the day in a aluminum-sided shack in the corner of a government office courtyard, which served as a spot to feed employees. Absolutely tiny, this little eatery was manned completely by one woman, who spent her day alternately serving customers, cooking on her charcoal stove, cleaning, and teaching me to cook. Ful is served with baguettes bought from the store, and was one of my favorite Ethiopian dishes.

 Fifth Course: My final course was the real entree of the meal, and consisted of what I call my Ultimate Thai Bite. After cooking a plethora of Thai food, I finally combined aspects of my favorite recipes, along with my own favorite flavors, to create a bite that would provide the best of Thai cuisine, all in one. The layers start with a marinated and roasted portabellini, followed by jasmine rice, a peanut encrusted chicken, and a Thai herbal salad. It is finished with a panang curry drizzle. This was my favorite dish, partly because it was a creation of my own, but also because it has a blast of flavor that will blow your socks off.


One of my desserts was a hardened chocolate imbedded with fresh mango and peaches. It turned out quite nice, and is a great, quick dish of my own creation which is always a hit.

 The other dessert I made was a Kefir Lime Meringue pie with a caramelized ginger-graham cracker crust. This was one of the first desserts I made in my efforts to take classic American desserts and combine them with classic international flavors, in this case Thai. This pie has four very important Thai flavors coming through: Kefir lime, ginger, lemongrass, and mint. It turned out great, and is one of my best baking recipes.