Argentina (Part 1)

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Bunuelos de Espinaca

Argentinean spinach fritters.

Total time: 60 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 450g fresh baby spinach, chopped and steamed
  • 3/4 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • oil for frying (liquid coconut oil recommended)

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Directions

  1. Chop spinach, then steam over boiling water for 4-5 minutes until fully wilted.
  2. Mix spinach and onion together in a bowl. Add milk and eggs. Mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, and pepper together.
  4. Stir flour mixture into spinach mixture until batter is evenly combined.
  5. Heat about 1 inch of oil in a large, deep frying pan over low-medium heat. Oil is ready to use with a drop of spinach batter added to the oil bubbles immediately.
  6. Drop batter (about 1 tablespoon per fritter), into the hot oil. Fry until outside edges of fritters are golden brown (3 – 4 minutes per side). Remove fritters with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil and adjusting oil temperature as needed.
  7. Serve with tzatziki sauce and chimichurri.

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Family Ratings

  • Mama: 4/5, very good as an appetizer!
  • Papa: 3.5/5, somewhat bland but the coconut oil adds a nice flavor
  • Girlie: 2/5 by themselves, but 4/5 when served with tzatziki sauce
  • TW: 2.5/5 by themselves, 4/5 when served with tzatziki sauce or chimichurri

Original recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/236662/bunuelos-de-espinaca-spinach-fritters/

Egypt (Part 3)

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Ta’ameya

Egyptian falafel made with fava beans. Chickpeas are more commonly used in other Middle Eastern versions of falafel.

Total time: 45 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 3 cups canned fava beans*
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 cup fresh dill
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2  teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup sesame seeds
  • vegetable oil (peanut oil or canola oil) for frying*
  • pita bread (to serve)
  • lettuce (to serve)
  • lemons, cut in wedges (to serve)

Directions

  1. Combine fava beans, red onion, parsley, cilantro, dill, garlic, coriander, and cumin in a food processor. Process to a doughy consistency.
  2. Toast sesame seeds in a skillet over medium heat (5 minutes). Stir frequently.
  3. Shape fava bean mixture into balls (2cm diameter). Roll balls in sesame seeds to coat.
  4. Fill a large saucepan with oil (4cm deep) and heat over medium heat. Fry fava bean balls in batches until golden brown (3-5 minutes).* Drain on paper towels.
  5. Serve with pita bread, lettuce, lemon wedges, creamy yogurt sauce, and chipotle tahini dip.

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Notes

  • Most falafel recipes recommend using dried beans that are soaked overnight. However, dried fava beans were not available in our local grocery stores, so we had to substitute with canned fava beans. Using canned beans instead of dried/soaked beans may have altered the consistency of the falafel, which may have contributed to our difficulty deep-frying.
  • Deep-frying the falafel was unsuccessful despite various adjustments in oil temperature and frying technique. Falafel balls fell apart in the oil and did not develop a crispy outer texture. To achieve a crispy coating, we tried baking the falafel in the oven (425F for 5 minutes) which was moderately successful and we tried cooking the falafel on the barbecue (400F for 20 minutes, rolling balls frequently) which seemed much more effective in creating a darker, crispier outer texture.

Family Ratings

  • Papa: 4/5 for falafel alone (great taste but unable to achieve crispy texture) and 4.5/5 for falafel served in pita (with creamy yogurt sauce and chipotle tahini dip), highly recommend barbecuing the falafel to create a crunchy texture
  • VOD: 4/5, great flavor but could have had a firmer consistency
  • McM: 4/5, really tasty served raw (not baked or barbecued) and I didn’t mind the softer consistency when served in a pita with crunchy lettuce

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Original recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/254743/taameya-egyptian-falafel/

Egypt (Part 2)

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Chipotle Tahini Dip

Spicy dip for falafel or pita bread.

Total time: 10 minutes
Servings: 10-12

Ingredients

  • 1 cup tahini
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 can (about 100g) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 3 tablespoons adobo sauce

Directions

  1. Puree all ingredients in a food processor until evenly blended.
  2. Serve with falafel or spread on pitas.

Family Ratings

  • Papa: 5/5, one of my new favorite dips!
  • VOD: 5/5, subtle flavor at first with more spice in the aftertaste
  • McM: 4/5, great flavour but a little too spicy for my preference

Original recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/falafel-with-chipotle-tahini-dip.html

Egypt (Part 1)

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Creamy Yogurt Sauce

Falafel dressing made with navy beans and yogurt.

Total time: 10 minutes
Servings: 8-10

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups canned navy beans
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

  1. Puree all ingredients in a food processor until very smooth.
  2. Serve with falafel or as a salad dressing.

Family Ratings

  • Papa: 5/5, fantastic!
  • VOD: 5/5, really good in combination with the chipotle tahini sauce
  • McM: 5/5, light and refreshing, very flavorful

Original recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/melissa-darabian/falafel-recipe.html

Romania (Part 1)

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Cheese Dumplings

Romanian dumplings made from cottage cheese.

Total time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 500g cottage cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour (plus additional as needed)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Use a colander to strain the excess liquid from the cottage cheese, leaving just the curds behind.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the cottage cheese curds, 3 eggs, and one tablespoon of sugar.
  3. Slowly add flour, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, while stirring until the consistency of the mixture thickens enough to allow the formation of small balls. If the mixture crumbles, continue adding flour to thicken. (We used approximately 1/2 cup of flour total).
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a gentle boil.
  5. Wet your hands and shape the cottage cheese mixture into small balls (2-3cm diameter). Drop the balls into the boiling water (they should sink to the bottom of the pot). Avoid stirring as this may break apart the balls.
  6. Boil the dumplings until they rise and float on the surface of the water. Gently scoop the dumplings out of the water and set aside.
  7. Serve with pepper to taste.

Family Ratings

  • Mama: 4/5, these are better than most traditional dumplings!
  • Papa: 3.5/5, would be even better by substituting some of the cottage cheese for more flavorful cheese (such as grated Parmesan, chunks of sharp cheddar, or crumbled blue cheese).
  • Girlie: 1/5, I really didn’t like these.
  • TW: 4/5, would be even better using different types of cheese.
  • McM: 3.5/5

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Original recipe: http://www.romanianfoodrecipes.com/recipe/cheese-dumplings-galuste-cu-branza

Finland (Part 2)

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Punajuuripihvit

Finnish beet steaks.   

Total time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 400ml cans sliced beets, drained
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • fresh parsley (for garnish)

Directions

  1. Dip beets in beaten egg. Coat with breadcrumbs.
  2. In a skillet, melt better over medium-low heat. Saute beet slices, turning once to brown each side (3 minutes per side).
  3. Place on serving platter, sprinkle with lemon juice, and garnish with parsley.

Family Ratings

  • Mama: 3.5/5
  • Papa: 3.5/5
  • Girlie: 3/5
  • TW: 3.5
  • McM: 3.5/5, great way to serve beets, but would be even better with fresh garden beets (baked and sliced) instead of canned beets!
  • AC: 3/5

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Original recipe:  http://www.food.com/recipe/punajuuripihvit-finnish-beet-steaks-373374

Finland (Part 1)

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Porkkanasosekeitto

Finnish cream of carrot soup.   

Total time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 500g carrots, peeled, sliced into 1cm rounds
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 3 tablespoons brandy
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups 1% milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)
  • nutmeg (for garnish)

Directions

  • Combine beef broth and brandy in a small pot and bring to boil. Add carrots and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender (about 20-25 min).
  • Mash the carrots in the broth. Set aside.
  • Heat the butter in a large pot. Add the flour and stir until blended.
  • Gradually add the milk to the pot, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, then simmer (3-5 minutes).
  • Add the mashed carrots, broth mixture, and sugar to the boiling milk. Stir thoroughly.
  • Serve. Garnish each serving with parsley and a dash of nutmeg.

Family Ratings

  • Mama: 4/5
  • Papa: 4/5, a little on the sweet side but very tasty!
  • Girlie: 3/5
  • TW: 4/5, this is very sweet so I would recommend not adding sugar next time.
  • McM: 4/5, excellent soup!

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Original recipe:  http://www.food.com/recipe/cream-of-carrot-soup-porkkanasosekeitto-274678

Mexico

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Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

A healthy Mexican baked dish with quinoa and lots of vegetables.    

Total time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 2 415ml bottles of Old El Paso mild taco sauce* (see notes below)
  • 1 cup canned corn kernels, drained
  • 1 cup canned kidney beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 avocados, halved, seeded, peeled, diced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • small tortillas and lettuce to serve* (see notes below)

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, cook quinoa according to package instructions. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375F.
  3. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, taco sauce, corn, kidney beans, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, 1 cup shredded cheddar, and 1 cup shredded mozza. Stir until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Spread quinoa mixture into a large baking dish. Top with remaining cheese.
  5. Bake in oven until the casserole is bubbly and the cheese has melted (10-15 minutes). Serve immediately.

Notes

  • The original recipe specified Old El Paso mild enchilada sauce, however this product was not available in our local grocery store. We substituted with Old El Paso mild taco sauce. Mild sauce (half the amount) or tomato sauce (increase cumin and chili powder) could also be substituted if taco sauce is not available.
  • Our kids enjoyed eating the casserole wrapped up burrito-style in small tortillas with lettuce and additional tomatoes.

Family Ratings

  • Papa: 4/5, this recipe would be even better with more spice (medium or spicy taco sauce) and substituting half of the quinoa for ground beef.
  • Girlie: 4/5, this is great burrito-style!
  • TW: 4/5,
  • McM: 4.5/5, very light and healthy recipe, I love the quinoa!

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Original recipe: http://damndelicious.net/2014/07/07/quinoa-enchilada-casserole/

Philippines (Part 1)

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Lentils and Pechay

Filipino side dish with bok choy.

Total time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 3 cups canned lentils, drained
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cups fresh bok choy, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetarian chicken broth

Directions

  1. Blend the onion in a food processor to create a soft mush.
  2. In a large pan, combine blended onion, 1/2 cup broth, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes. Cook (3 minutes).
  3. Add the canned lentils and remaining broth. Bring to a boil, add the bok choy, and cook until tender (about 5-8 minutes).
  4. Serve.

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Family Ratings

  • Mama: 3.5/5
  • Papa: 4/5, would be even better with more bok choy!
  • Girlie: 4.5/5
  • TW: 3.5/5, I don’t like tomatoes
  • McM: 4/5, double the amount of bok choy next time!

Note

  • Lentils were substituted for mung beans in the original recipe. Mung beans were not available in our local grocery stores.

Original recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/philippines-monggo-beans-and-pechay-mung-beans-and-bok-choi-305953?photo=155213

Laos (Part 2)

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Papaya Salad

A traditional Laotian side dish.

Total time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 3 medium ripe papayas
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small red chilis, deseeded and minced
  • 3 tablespoons shrimp paste (see previous post on this blog)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions

  1. Peel papayas. Cut in half. Scoop out seeds and discard. Shred papaya and set aside.
  2. Mash garlic and chilis together using a meat tenderizer or mortar and pestle.
  3. Drain the excess juice from shredded papaya. Then add the mashed garlic and chilis, shrimp paste, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, and cherry tomatoes. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Serve.

Family Ratings

  • Mama: 4/5
  • Papa: 4/5, would have liked more tomatoes and more chilis!
  • Girlie: 5/5, this is delicious!
  • TW: 4/5
  • McM: 3/5, very sweet initially with a spicy aftertaste, a little too spicy for my preference but a tasty side dish with an exotic flavour!

Original recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/lao-papaya-salad-447215