Italy (Part 2)

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Pasta Primavera

Vegetarian pasta dish with farfelle and oven-roasted vegetables.

Total time: 40 minutes
Servings: 10

Ingredients

  • 200g matchstick carrots
  • 5 medium zucchini, cut into thin strips (2 inches long)
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips (2 inches long)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips (2 inches long)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried Italian herbs
  • 700g farfalle (bowtie pasta)
  • 30 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the sliced vegetables (all except cherry tomatoes) with oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Arrange the vegetables in an even layer on two large baking sheets. Bake, stirring after 10 minutes, until the carrots are tender and the vegetable begin to brown (20 minutes total).
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente (8-10 minutes). Drain.
  4. In a large pot, toss the pasta with the vegetable mixture, cherry tomatoes, and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

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Family Ratings

  • Mama: 4.5/5, light and tasty pasta dish!
  • Papa: 3/5, rather bland for my taste
  • Girlie: 3/5, not enough flavor
  • TW: 3.5/5, could have used more spices
  • McM: 4.5/5, baked vegetables have a nice texture and the spices and Parmesan add a delicious subtle flavor!

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Original recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/pasta-primavera-recipe.html

Iceland (Part 3)

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Baked Fish

Traditional Icelandic dish with cod or halibut. Pictured above (left) with brauoterta (bottom) and spiced cabbage with blueberries (right).

Total time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 6 fish fillets (cod or halibut)
  • 1 lemon
  • 250g emmenthaler cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven at 180° C (350° F).
  2. Place fish fillets in a buttered baking dish. Season fillets with salt, peppers, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Cover the fish with grated cheese.
  3. Mix mustard with cream and pour mixture over fish. Cover with breadcrumbs.
  4. Bake fish for 35 minutes until topping is golden brown. Serve warm.

Family Ratings

  • McM: 5/5, amazing fish with a delicious creamy sauce!

Original recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/baked-fish-from-iceland-103714

Sri Lanka (Part 1)

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Scrambled Tofu

Vegetarian Sri Lankan meal.

Total time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1kg firm tofu, crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 250g fresh baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Steam the spinach until wilted. Squeeze out excess water. Set aside to cool.
  2. Heat olive oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and sauté (2 minutes). Add mushrooms and cook (2 more minutes). Add tomatoes and cook (1 more minute). Add steamed spinach and cook (2 more minutes).
  3. Add turmeric, chill powder, soy sauce. Stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add crumbled tofu. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until heated (10 minutes).
  5. Serve with additional soy sauce and hot sauce as desired.

Family Ratings

  • Mama: 3.5/5, excellent with soy sauce!
  • Papa: 4/5, initially a bit bland but very tasty with soy sauce and hot sauce to add spice and flavour
  • Girlie: 3/5
  • TW: 5/5, really delicious with soy sauce added
  • McM: 4/5, could use more spice but great with soy sauce!

Original recipe: http://www.srilankanrecipes.info/recipes/TofuEggSoyaDishes/ScrambledTofu.aspx

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Scrambled tofu (left) served with pol sambol (bottom) and gotukola sambol (right) for a traditional Sri Lanka meal (see other recipe posts on this blog). We felt that this meal had some of the most interesting and exotic flavor combinations of any country so far!

Germany (Part 3)

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Chicken Schnitzel

Traditional German meal. Other types of meat (pork, veal, lamb) can be substituted for chicken if desired. Chicken schnitzel pictured above (left) with cucumber salad (top) and german spinach with ham (right).

Total time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced for garnish
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1.3kg chicken breast, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
  • 1/2 cup tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced for garnish
  • additional parsley for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Beat eggs in a bowl with garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Dip each tenderized chicken breast into egg mixture to coat completely, then coat with breadcrumb mixture.
  3. For each chicken breast, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Cook two chicken breasts at a time until golden brown and cooked through (3 minutes per side).
  5. Transfer the cooked chicken to a shallow pan and keep warm in the oven while preparing the rest of the meal.
  6. After all chicken breasts are cooked, wipe the skillet clean with paper towels.
  7. Heat butter in the skillet until melted and add wine. Heat for 30 seconds, then stir in chicken broth and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer (2 minutes).
  8. Remove chicken from oven and pour broth mixture over chicken breasts. Garnish with parsley and lemon slices. Serve.

Family Ratings

  • McM: 4.5/5, tender chicken and flavorful sauce!

Original recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/chicken-schnitzel-100005

Spain (Part 2)

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Paella

Paella is a traditional spicy Spanish dish with a variety of meats and seafood served over rice.

Total time: 1 hour
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked white rice* (see notes below)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1kg chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes* (see notes below)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 lemons, tested
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 500g medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 250g mussels
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cook rice according to package instructions (we prefer to use a rice cooker).
  2. Cook mussels according to package instructions. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Set aside  in refrigerator to marinate.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, and cooked rice. Add parsley, chicken stock, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer while proceeding with the next steps.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a separate large skillet over medium heat. Stir in marinated chicken and onion and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in shrimp and cook until shrimp is pink (5 minutes).
  6. Serve rice in bowls topped with meat and seafood mixture.

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Notes

  • The original recipe involves cooking the rice in the skillet. However, we found that it was easier and faster to cook the rice ahead of time using a rice cooker.
  • The original recipe describes the chicken cut into 2 inch pieces but we found that these pieces were too large to eat easily from the bowls. We recommend using thinner strips or 1 inch cubes of chicken.

Family Ratings

  • Mama: 4/5, quite spicy
  • Papa: 4.5/5
  • McM: 4/5
  • TW: 4/5
  • Girlie: 4/5, a little too spicy for my preference

Original recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/84137/easy-paella/print/?recipeType=Recipe&servings=8

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Japan

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Sushi

Homemade sushi is fun for the whole family with lots of opportunity to customize rolls based on individual preferences for fillings. Leftover rolls are delicious the next day!

Total time: 1 hour
1 cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sushi rice
  • 10 nori (seaweed) sheets
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, halved, stoned, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 170g smoked salmon
  • 2 can tuna
  • 100g crab meat (artificial or canned)
  • 4 tablespoons spicy mayonnaise
  • 1 lettuce leaf, thinly cut
  • soy sauce (to serve)
  • pickled ginger (to serve)
  • wasabi (to serve)

Equipment

  • bamboo rolling mat
  • chopsticks

Directions

  1. Cook the sushi rice according to package instructions. We used a rice cooker which worked well. More tips for cooking sushi rice are available below with the original recipe link.
  2. Shred the crabmeat and stir in mayonnaise to create a thick paste (pepper, wasabi, or sriracha sauce can be added to make a spicier version).
  3. Mix the canned tuna with mayonnaise to create a thick paste (pepper, wasabi, or sriracha can be added as above).
  4. Assemble the sushi rolls. Place a nori seaweed sheet on top of the bamboo mat. Wet your hands and scoop a small amount of cooked sushi rice (approximately 1/4 cup). Gently spread the rice evenly across the nori, leaving a small 1 inch gap without rice on the end you are rolling towards. Add the fillings (below). Folding the bamboo mat on the side closest to you, roll slowly and gently with even pressure to wrap as tightly as possible. Place the rolls in the refrigerator after rolling until they become firm (10 minutes). Use a wet sharp knife to cut rolls into 1 inch pieces.
  5. Some of our favourite flavour combinations included: creamy crab with avocado, smoked salmon with lettuce and avocado, creamy tuna with cucumber, spicy tuna with avocado. Feel free to create whichever combinations you like!
  6. Serve cold with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.

Family Ratings

  • McM: 5/5, a delicious meal that was a lot of fun to prepare!

Original recipe: http://www.ticklemytastebuds.com/perfect-sushi/
Sushi rice tips: http://makemysushi.com/sushi-preparations/how-to-make-perfect-sushi-rice.html

Norway (Part 1)

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Fiskekaker

Traditional Norwegian fish cakes.

Total time: 45min
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1.2kg cod* (see notes below)
  • 3 teaspoons salt* (see notes below)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup milk* (see notes below)
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup minced chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • vegetable oil as needed
  • bread crumbs as needed* (see notes below)

Directions

  1. Slice the fish into small chunks and pound with a meat tenderizer until fish is soft and flaky.* (see notes below)
  2. Combine salt, pepper, 2/3 cup milk, butter, eggs, chives, and nutmeg in a large boil.
  3. Add fish to the mixture and knead together until the desired consistency is reached. (The mixture should be thick enough to allow firm patties to be formed. If the mixture is too watery, breadcrumbs can be added while stirring until the mixture thickens. If the mixture is too thick initially, another 1/3 cup of milk can be added).
  4. Make patties approximately 2-3 inches in diameter and approximately 1 inch thick.
  5. In a large pan, heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil on medium-high heat. Sauté fish patties until golden brown (3-5 minutes each side).
  6. Serve as patties with a side dish (see smoked salmon rolls on this blog) or in a bun as fish burgers.

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Notes

  • Depending on availability, haddock or pollock can be substituted for cod.
  • Some of our family members found this recipe quite salty, so less salt (1-2 teaspoons) may be preferable.
  • The original recipe suggests using a much larger quantity of milk. However, we found that this made it very difficult to form patties. We added bread crumbs to thicken the mixture and recommend using 2/3 to 1 cup of milk as needed to reach the desired consistency. Our fish patty mixture is pictured below.
  • The original recipe suggests using a food processor to prepare the fish. However, we found that slicing and manually tenderizing the fish gave the patties an appealing chunky texture and emphasized the flavor of the cod.

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Family Ratings

  • Mama: 4.5/5, delicious recipe although quite salty!
  • Papa: 4.5/5
  • Nanya: 5/5
  • TW: 5/5
  • Girlie: 5/5
  • McM: 3/5

Original recipe: https://arcticgrub.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/homemade-fiskekaker-our-monday-dinner-suggestion/

Iran (Part 2)

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Uyghur Polo

Beef and rice pilaf, a staple dish among Central Asian countries including Iran. Pictured above (on left) with yogurt spinach dip (on right).

Total time: 1 hour
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 500g beef (we used tenderloin)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 500g carrots, julienned
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • salt to taste

Directions

  1. Cook rice according to package instructions (we used a rice cooker).
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Cook the beef in the oil until evenly browned, stirring occasionally (about 10 min).
  3. Add chopped onion to the pot and cook until translucent (about 10 min).
  4. Add carrots to the pot. (Initially it may look like there are too many carrots in the pot, however they will shrink with cooking and mix well into the recipe).
  5. Pour water into the pot. When the water boils, add the garlic bulb. Let the mixture simmer (5 min).
  6. Remove the garlic bulb and reserve. Add cumin. Allow mixture to simmer on medium-low heat (15-20 min).
  7. Add cooked rice to the mixture and stir.
  8. Replace the garlic bulb and pour raisins on top of the rice. Cover pot and cook on medium low heat (10-15 min).
  9. Remove the garlic bulb.
  10. Serve with naan and yogurt spinach dip as garnish (see recipe on this blog).

Family Ratings

  • McM: 4.5/5, very flavorful!

Original recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/uyghur-polo-pilaf-411849

Afghanistan

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Qorma-E-Samaruq

Traditional Afghan mushroom stew with lamb.

Total time: 60 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 3 cups chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2kg lamb chops, diced and bones removed* (see note below)
  • 2 800ml cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • salt to taste
  • 900g mushrooms, rinsed, stems trimmed, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions until lightly browned (about 3-5 min).
  2. Add chunks of lamb and continue to saute, turning frequently, until lamb turns light brown (about 10-15 min).
  3. Add tomatoes, spices, and salt to taste. Stir and continue cooking until lamb is almost fully cooked (about 15 min).
  4. Add mushrooms, cover, and cook until mushrooms are tender and lamb is done (about 15-20min).
  5. Serve with rice or naan.

Notes

  • Some family members do not like lamb so we prepared this recipe using 1kg diced lamb chops and 1kg diced tenderloin (other cuts of beef could be substituted). We used separate skillets for lamb and beef and divided the above ingredients in half for each skillet.

Family Ratings

  • McM: 3/5, very flavorful with tender juicy lamb but very spicy overall and would recommend using half the spices next time.

Original recipe: http://www.afghankitchenrecipes.com/recipe/qorma-e-samaruq-chicken-and-mushroom-stew/

Costa Rica

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Baked Tilapia

Traditional Costa Rican style rice dish with pineapple, black beans, and salsa.

Total time: 90 minutes
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white rice
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (plus more for garnish)
  • 1kg tilapia fillets
  • 4 cups jarred tomato salsa
  • 2 440ml cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups fresh pineapple, diced
  • 4 limes, thinly sliced
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine the rice and chicken broth in a pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice is tender and has absorbed all of the liquid (about 20 minutes). A rice cooker could also be used to prepare the rice.
  3. While the rice is cooking, prepare the marinade. In a large bowl, whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, sugar, and 4 tablespoons of cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place the tilapia fillets in a large flat pan and coat with marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator, turning fillets occasionally (about 20 minutes).
  5. In a large baking dish, mix together the cooked rice, salsa, beans, pineapple, and remaining 4 tablespoons of cilantro.
  6. Remove the tilapia from the marinade (reserve leftover marinade) and lay the fillets over the rice mixture.
  7. Pour the reserved marinade over the fish. Shingle lime slices over the fish.
  8. Bake in the oven until the fish flakes easily and is opaque (about 25-30 minutes).
  9. Garnish with chopped cilantro before serving.

Family Ratings

  • McM: 2/5, the tilipia was excellent but I found the salsa flavor overpowering in the rice and would recommended using half the salsa next time.

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Original recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ingrid-hoffmann/baked-costa-rican-style-tilapia-with-pineapples-black-beans-and-rice-recipe.html