Thursday, February 18, 2010

New Zealand - Take 1

So, today, Mate left Fiji and headed for New Zealand. Today, our friend, Rhonda had a big interview. So, we had Rhonda and her husband, Chuck, over for dinner from New Zealand. I have not done my research yet, so I cannot tell you about New Zealand. But, I have until March 12th to do that. I made three things tonight and all were ranked 5 out of 5.

Roasted Rack of Lamb - 5 out of 5, serves 5, 21 WW Points each (we think this may be wrong!)
*Please note our Lamb Rack is a product of New wonder it was $18!*

1/2 cup bread crumbs, 2 tbsp minced garlic, 2 tbsp rosemary, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 2 tbsp olive oil, 7 bone rack of lamb, salt and pepper, 1 tbsp dijon mustard

- Preheat oven to 450.
- In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, garlic, rosemary, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.
- Season rack all over with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large, oven-proof skillet over high heat. Sear rack of lamb for 1 - 2 minutes on each side. Set aside for a few minutes. Brush rack of lamb with mustard. Roll in bread crumb mixture until evenly coated. Cover the ends of the bones with foil to prevent charring.
- Arrange rack bone side down in the skillet. Roast for 15 minutes.

Kumara and Corn Fritters - 5 out of 5, serves 4, 5 WW Points each
1 can creamed corn, 2 tbsp chives, 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup milk, 1 egg (separated), 1/2 cup cooked kumara (that's New Zealand for sweet potato) (roughly mashed), 3 tbsp butter

- Mix corn, chives, flour, milk and egg yolk in a bowl.
- Beat egg white until stiff (Bob had to show me how to do this...we used my butt whisk) and mix in sweet potato.
- Mix sweet potato mixture with corn mixture.
- Melt butter in a pan and add mixture by the small spoonfuls. Cook until golden on both sides. (You have to be patient...this was hard for me!)

Pea, Feta and Mint Salad with Pistachios - 5 out of 5, serves 4, 7 WW Points each
1 cup peas, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 white onion chopped, 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp honey, salt and pepper, 1/3 cup shelled pistachios, 1/4 cup fresh mint leaf, 100 g feta

- Blanch peas in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet and saute the onion.
- Put mustard, vinegar and honey in a bowl. Whisk in remaining oil and salt and pepper to taste.
- Fold in onions, peas and pistachios into the dressing.
- Add mint and feta. Toss and serve.

We will be in New Zealand again on Monday night for the Bachelor Party. I will have my facts by then so you will know what this country is all about. I hope you can join us again then!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fiji Foods

I am so moving to Fiji! If I could eat this soup I am eating right now every day and live on an island, I would do it! While native Fijians sit on mats and use their hands to eat, Bob and I are sitting at the table using our silverware.

I wonder what Mate and Shawn are doing in Fiji now. I sure have missed her these last few days. I learned from Mate that Fiji prides itself on being a secluded getaway, so there are no phones and no Internet access. Or, at least where they are. I am ready for her to move on so we can communicate again.

Do you know anything about Fiji? I did not, but I do now. I learned quite a few things. Some interested me and some, I just skimmed over (politics, etc). Here are some of the things that interested me:
- The official name of this country is the Republic of the Fiji Islands. It is an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean and is comprised of 322 islands. It covers 75,000 square miles, 10% of which is land. The 2 major islands account for 87% of the population.
- It was settled somewhere between 3500 - 1000 BC (that's quite a time span) and was settled by Europeans that were beachcombers, missionaries and whalers.
- Constant warfare and cannibalism gave Fiji its early name - The Cannibal Isles. YIPES!!
- The islands are mountainous and are covered with thick tropical forests. The climate is tropical and warm most of the year (we have 3 inches of snow here).
- The national sport is rugby.
- The islands get most of their revenue from sugar and tourism.
- Their cuisine is a mixture of Melanesian, Polynesian, Indian, Chinese and Western . Their staples are: breadfruit, yams, cassave, taro root, leaves, beef, pork, poultry and seafood.

I also found they use a lot of spices. Here are the things I made...

Fijian Chicken Wings - Serves 4, 7 Weight Watchers Points, 7 out of 5

16 - 20 chicken wings, 6 oz soy sauce, 6 oz cooking sherry, 2 oz coconut milk, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 3 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp ginger root, 2 tsp cardamom, 2 garlic cloves (minced), 3 chili peppers (chopped)
- Place all ingredients, except chicken, in a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Marinate chicken in mixture overnight, turning a few times.
- Remove chicken from marinade and bake at 400 for 30 minutes, turning twice and basting each time.

I would like to state for the record that my husband gave the chicken a 7 out of 5. (He ranks everything I cook on a scale of 1 - 5 and he says this is the best thing I have ever made for him in our 4 and a half years of knowing each other!) I will definitely try this marinade on some tofu. I dipped my finger in before I added chicken and it was delicious!

Spiced Dahl Soup - Makes six 1 cup servings, 3 Weight Watchers Points, 5 out of 5

water, 7 oz lentils, 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (I had never heard of these), 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 40 oz vegetable broth, 1 tbsp olive oil, 4 garlic cloves (chopped), 1 onion (chopped), 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, 2 carrots (chopped), 2 celery stalks (chopped), 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp curry powder, 1 tbsp soy sauce

- Place lentils, fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds in a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Soak for 1 hour until the lentils are soft. Drain and rinse.
- Return the mixture to the pot and add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil and lightly brown onions and garlic.
- Add onion mixture, red pepper flakes, carrots and celery to the lentils. Mix well. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.
- Add salt, turmeric, curry powder and soy sauce. Heat through. Serve warm. YUM!!

I loved this soup...and I have not had such great experiences with lentils in the past. Another good thing about this recipe is that it is detox-friendly. So, when I do my detox diet 4 times a year, this will be a new recipe I throw into the mix. Sweet!

And, some Potato Curry we threw in the trash. I will not waste time typing in that recipe.

Mate leaves Fiji on February 18th and heads to New Zealand. I will see you there!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day One - Super Bowl 44

Who Dat say gonna beat dem Saints? Who Dat?

So, I am considering today Day One of Mate's trip (even though she is still in the country and even though this stop was not planned until two weeks ago). Today, Mate is in Miami, Florida to cheer our Saints on to victory at the Super Bowl. She will be sitting in section 246, row 9, in a seat somewhere between 1 and 8 (almost her whole family is there).

Even though the Super Bowl will be played in Miami, I did not cook Miami food. I cooked Louisiana foods. We are going to our friends, Julia and Jason's house. We will meet up with our friends Say-rah and Stephen there. Bob and I may be the only Saints fans there, but we will make enough noise, do not worry!

So, here are the things I made:

Red Beans and Rice - to make this, you go to your grocery store and buy a box of Zatarain's Red Beans and Rice mix. You make it according to package directions. There is no need to mess up a good thing here.

Natchiotoches Meat Pies - I got this recipe from a girl I acted with at Louisiana College, Christine Causey, now Hutchins. These have been a hit every time I have made them.

You need the following ingredients to make these: 1/2 lb ground beef, 1/2 lb spicy sausage, 1/2 small can of tomato paste, 1/2 onion chopped, 1/2 can Rotel (with juice), 1 frozen pie crust (and, I substitute 1 1/2 lb veggie crumbles for the beef and sausage in mine)

And, here are the instructions:

- Thaw the pie crust until it is soft and fold-able.

- Brown meat (or crumbles). Add all other ingredients and let simmer for 10 minutes until thick.

- Put mixture in half of the pie crust. Fold the other half over and seal.

- Bake at 250 for 20 - 30 minutes.

I also made a King Cake. When Mom told me it was $82 to ship an Atwood's King Cake, I decided to make my own. This recipe I got from Mate.

For the cake, you need: 3 cups flour, 1/4 cup warm water, 1/4 cup margarine, 4 tsp yeast, 1 tsp salt, 3/4 cup scalded milk (this means to bring almost to a boil, stirring constantly), 1/2 cup sugar and 1 egg.

To make the cake, follow these easy steps:

- Dissolve yeast in water.

- Let sit 10 minutes.

- Add milk, sugar, salt, egg, margarine and 1 1/2 cup flour and mix until smooth.

- Add remaining 1 1/2 cup flour and knead.

- Please in a greased bowl, cover and let sit for at least 1 1/2 hours.

- Divide dough into 3 parts. Roll into tubes and braid.

- Make a ring of the braid.

- Cook at 375 for 20 minutes. While still warm, insert baby (we used a golden baby...for the Saints!).

For the icing, you will need: 3 cups confectioners sugar, 1/4 cup water and colored sugar (I found purple, green, yellow and black at AC Moore craft store)

- Mix water and confectioners sugar until smooth.

- Pour over cake. And, before it hardens, cover cake with colored sugar.

And, last, but not least, we made some Saints cookies. We made one batch for our Sunday school class and will make another for the Super Bowl 44 crowd. To make these, you buy a tube of Pillsbury Sugar Cookies, cut out in circle shapes (unless you have a small fleur de lis cookie cutter...mine is too big and I only would have gotten 4 cookies per batch!), cook according to package directions, let cool and then decorate appropriately. Fleur de lis can be tricky to draw in icing!

Now, I must go and get ready to watch my boys win their first Super Bowl title. Please help me cheer them on. And, remember...look for Mate.

Next stop in our Around the World trip, Fiji. See you there!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What is this all about?

So, I watched Julie and Julia the other night while stuck in the Nashville snowstorm. Then, I drove for 6 hours back to Asheville and had lots of time to think. I thought how I would love to have a blog like Julie in the movie did with all kinds of recipes - with a challenge in mind. So, this is what I plan to do...

Since my best friend, Mate, is traveling the world for the next five and a half months, I needed a way to keep up with her. So, I thought I would make a calendar for her trip with her destinations. Then, I would like to research the places where she is going (I have no clue about Geography and I have no clue about foreign people). So, I will study a place while she is there and then I will prepare a meal like the people there eat. I will share my fun facts that I learn about the place and my recipes with you. Thankfully, Mate will be spending more than one day in each of the places that she visits, so I will have a few days to complete my task.

Will you come along with me on my journey? It will last from February 5 (when Mate and Buddy start their trip with Super Bowl 44) and will end on July 1 when they get back to the States to New York. I hope you enjoy!