Recipes from Marche, Italy

For this entry, I made two recipes. Neither of them were especially good, but I don't blame the people who posted the original recipes or any of the traditions they came from, I blame myself and my propensity for Googling things that might kill me.

Recipes from Marche, Italy: Brodetto

A seafood stew with mussels and clams, minus the Vibrio.

Recipes from Marche, Italy: Filone Casereccio

An Italian bread that will come out much better than mine did if you use fresh brewer's yeast and steam.

Recipes from Malta

This is actually the third time I’ve cooked a meal from Malta. The first time, I cooked the meal and then just did not write the blog post. Years went by.

Recipes from Malta: Imqarrun

Imquarrum (also called Imqarrun il-forn) is descended from a dish served in Sicily, but the Maltese have adopted it as a traditional staple. The key to making this dish is to be patient.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Recipes from the Dominican Republic

One of the best things about doing this blog is discovering recipes or ingredients that I would probably never have tried in my regular cooking life—especially those that I like so much that they become a part of my family menu.

One of these ingredients: pigeon peas. I love them. They have a wonderful earthy flavor and they are a great change from those basic legumes that we Americans are used to. So I was actually pretty happy to find pigeon peas in the recipes I was researching this week.

Anyway, last week we were in Dominica; this week we are in the Dominican Republic. Both are in the Caribbean, but one of them is about 64 1/2 times as big as the other.

Here's where The Dominican Republic is located:

Now, somewhere off to the southeast are a bunch of little specs, which you can't see on this map because they're so tiny. Dominica is in there somewhere.

The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola; the western one third is the nation of Haiti. The Dominican Republic is actually one of the locations "discovered" by Christopher Columbus in 1492 and was the site of the first permanent European settlement in the new world. Today it is the second largest economy in the Caribbean as well as the second most-visited Caribbean nation.

Catalonia Bavaro Beach, Casino & Golf Resort, Punta Cana, Dominican
Republic. Photo Credit: Martin Wippel via Compfight cc

Dominican cuisine is a mixture of TaĆ­no (the island's native population) and Spanish and African influences. Like the people who live in other Caribbean nations, Dominicans eat a lot of plantains, which I chose not to do (because although readers have told me I'm doing plantains wrong, I'm still not ready to give them another try), and staples like rice, beans and meat with a local twist.

I had plenty of recipes to choose from because cuisine from the Dominican Republic has a pretty big online presence. So here's the menu I ended up with:

Pollo Guisado
(from That's Dominican)
  • 1 whole chicken, cut into small pieces
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 small red onion, sliced or cut into fine strips
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, pressed
  • 4 plum tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1/4 cup pitted olives, halved
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp powdered chicken bouillon
  • 3 tbsp sazon seasoning
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • water, to cover
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • kosher salt to taste

I have to add the disclaimer that I excluded a couple of ingredients from this recipe, based on them being excluded from another version I found elsewhere. And also based on the fact that I don't like those particular ingredients. I think I still have a pretty authentic Dominican recipe since there does seem to be a fair bit of variety when it comes to this particular recipe.

Here's the side dish:

This recipe came from, which is one of those big recipe sites I don't usually like to depend on because the authenticity is hard to verify. In this case, however, I was able to cross check the ingredients with some other versions of this recipe and I'm pretty sure this one is genuine:

Moro de Guandules con Coco (Rice with Pigeon Peas and Coconut)
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp fresh parley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp fresh thyme, mined
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 pitted olives, halved
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 15-oz can pigeon peas
  • 1 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp powdered chicken stock
  • about 1/4 of a small green bell pepper, chopped fine
  • 1 pinch oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 2 tbsp capers
And for dessert:

Arepa Dominica (Sweetened Cornmeal Cake)
(From Delicious Dominican Cuisine)
  • 4 cups arepa corn flour
  • 5 cups water
  • 5 cups of milk (whole, reduced fat or skim)
  • 2 12-oz cans evaporated milk
  • 3 or 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 15-oz cans coconut cream
  • 1 tbsp anise seeds
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp butter or margarine
OK first the chicken:

Mix the lemon juice with the peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes and olives. Pour over the chicken and let sit for 30 minutes.

Now heat the oil in a large pot. Add the bouillon, sazon seasoning and sugar and cook until the sugar starts to caramelize (It will be hard to tell from the color because the sazon is a bright red. Go more by the thickening of the sauce.).

Now add the chicken to the pot and turn until coated with the seasoning. Cook on both sides until lightly browned.

Put enough water in the pot to cover the chicken (Note: I had to put in a lot of water, and I ended up with a sauce that was far too thin. You may want to try less water but you'll need to keep an eye on the chicken to make sure it doesn't dry out). Now add the vegetables.

Turn up the heat to medium high. When the water boils, add the tomato paste, cumin and chili powder. Cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and serve.

Now for the peas and rice:

Heat 1 1/2 tbsp oil in a large pot and add the seasonings, herbs, peppers, salt and olives.

Keep stirring until fragrant, then add the tomato paste. When well blended, add the pigeon peas and chicken bouillon, then the water and coconut milk. Bring to a boil.

Now add the rice, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking. Let most of the water burn off, then cover and turn the flame down to its lowest setting. Let simmer for 15 minutes, then stir and add the remaining oil. Cover and let simmer for an additional five to 10 minutes. The rice should be al dente.

OK, now for the dessert.

What can I say about this dessert? It sounded good. I'm sure in capable hands, it is good. But this was as near to a disaster as anything I've ever made for Travel by Stove.

But I will repeat the recipe anyway, since I'm confident that its original author knew what she was doing. Here goes:

Add the arepa flour to a large bowl with the water. Stir to eliminate clumps. The flour will swell up, absorbing most of the water (this is what you want). Set aside.

Now preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, heat the milk over a medium flame. Add the evaporated milk, cinnamon sticks, raisins and sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then add the coconut cream (don't substitute coconut milk, they are not the same thing), the vanilla extract, salt and anise seeds.

Stirring continuously, let the mixture come just to a boil.

Now, when I was a teenager I remember reading this Stephen King short story about these people who had teleportation technology. In this particular world, when you teleport you have to be put under general anesthesia because if you are awake, the teleportation journey that physically happens in an instant will seem to your mind as if it takes an eternity.

Yes, that is what boiling milk is like.

Because milk scalds easily, so you can't walk away from it. And you can't boil it quickly, because it will curdle and then it will be all nasty. So you have to stand there and stir. And stir. And stir. And wish that someone had just given you the general anesthesia already.

So when you finally start to see those bubbles, like when your kids are ready to put you in that old folks home, you can add the damp arepa flour. Mix well, breaking up the clumps, and let cook on the stove. You'll have to stir it every minute or two to stop it sticking.

Meanwhile, use half of the softened butter to grease a large baking pan (this recipe makes a huge amount, so I actually cut mine in half and was still using a pretty big pan).

So eventually, your arepa will turn into a thick porridge like mixture. When this happens, you can put it in the baking dish. Dot the top with the remaining butter and transfer it to the oven.

I don't really know what went wrong at this point, but my arepa did not bake. I left it in the oven for the hour and 15 minutes as instructed, and it turned into this dark almost burned brown color on the top and was just goo in the middle.

I took it out and tried microwaving it, because I was desperate. 10 minutes in the microwave also did nothing for it. Then I tried microwaving a slice of it and just ended up with a block of concrete that made my microwave smell like burned arepa for about a week. My kids were furious with me because the dessert I promised failed to materialize.

Funnily enough, the next morning the arepa had solidified to the point where it looked exactly like the photos from the original recipe. So I really don't know what was up with that. The instructions did say it was done baking when a toothpick came out clean (which never happened) but it also said to let it sit for an hour before slicing. Well, mine sat out over night and then was actually edible in the morning. Martin snacked on it for a couple of days—I tried a piece too but was underwhelmed. I don't know if it was my personal tastes or if it was because of how wrong the recipe went for me.

 This is actually what it's supposed to look like.

Anyway, the chicken and the rice and pigeon peas were both delicious. Martin and I both gave a thumbs up to those two dishes, and Dylan did too (Though the girls didn't want to have anything to do with the pigeon peas. Typical.). So after a delicious main meal it was a little disappointing to not have a nice dessert to finish it off, but oh well. They can't all be winners.

Next week: Eastern Canada

For printable versions of this week's recipes:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Recipes from Dominica

Do you feel the warm breeze?   The sand between your toes? Smell the ocean? That's right! It's another trip to the Caribbean.

This week we are in Dominca, not to be confused with The Dominican Republic, which is in the same neighborhood but is not the same country.

 Dominica, as you can see on the map below, is another one of those microscopic island nations in the Caribbean.  At 290 square miles it is roughly the same size as Lexington, Kentucky, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in scenic beauty.

Dominica has beaches, rainforests and many rare species of plants and animals. It is also the home of the world's second-largest hot spring: Boiling Lake, which is 60 miles across, reads between 180 to 197 degrees Fahrenheit along the edges, and is actually physically boiling at its center.

Named by Christopher Columbus, who first spotted it on a Sunday (the Latin word for Sunday is dominica; not terribly long on creativity, that Columbus), Dominica was the first British Caribbean colony to have a black majority-controlled legislature. After changing hands a few times it finally achieved complete independence in 1978.

As with all microscopic island nations, it was a bit challenging to find native recipes. The food in Dominica is pretty standard Caribbean stuff, though they do have a special dish of their own called "mountain chicken." Mountain chicken is not in fact actual chicken, but frog—though it's no longer widely eaten because the frogs used for the dish are critically endangered.

I actually considered making mountain chicken for this entry, because I have some frog's legs in my freezer right now. But they're the French variety, and I didn't think they were close enough to the giant frog used on Dominica to serve as an acceptable stand-in. Also because the species is endangered I didn't really want to promote eating it, even though that's not technically what I would have been doing.

So instead of mountain frog I chose this recipe:

Caribbean Reef Chicken
(from Great Tasting Dominica Recipes)
  • 2 broiler/fryer chickens, halved (I just used pre-cut chicken pieces)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp dark rum
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 drops hot pepper sauce (I used Jamaican Pickapeppa)
  • 10 oz mango chutney
  • 2 tbsp dark rum
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • Parsley
and on the side:

(from Search Dominica)
  • 1lb salted cod
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 gloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 blades chive, chopped
  • 4 seasoning peppers, sliced*
  • 1-2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 ½ cup coconut milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp flour (optional)
* In the Caribbean, a "seasoning pepper" is a pepper that is used for flavor rather than heat. But most people living in the Caribbean are fairly tolerant of heat, so to them a "seasoning pepper" is probably still going to have some heat to it. I used red jalapenos, which are fairly mild compared to, say, a habanero.

And for dessert:

Banana and Mango Bread
(also from Great Tasting Dominica Recipes)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp grated fresh nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 ripe bananas
  • 1 small ripe mango, peeled
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
First the chicken:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Season the chicken pieces with the salt and pepper and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the next nine ingredients to make a paste.

Now place the chicken skin side up in a baking pan, and rub the paste all over it. Bake for 45 minutes or until cooked through. (The thickest part of the chicken's thigh should reach an internal temperature of 175 degrees; breasts should be cooked to 165, so you may need to take these out sooner to avoid overcooking them).

Now place the chutney and the rest of the rum in a blender and pulse until smooth. Spoon over the chicken and bake another 3 minutes or until the chutney is heated through. Garnish with the lemon, lime and parsley.

Meanwhile, make the sancoche.

Now to we Americans, it may seem strange to serve a fish dish as a side, but I thought it worked really well with this meal. Here's how to make it:

Wash your salted cod and remove the bones. Do not be afraid. Salted cod is smelly and you may fear you will end up poisoning your family, but be reassured that there is so much salt in a piece of salted cod that you could probably store it on your countertop for several months and not have to worry about it spoiling.  Of course, don't try that because it would be smelly, and also because I'm not a salted cod expert and therefore can't really say that with authority. I got my salted cod from Red Star International in Sacramento and I kept it in the freezer, just to be safe.

Anyway, cut the salted cod up into bite sized pieces and boil for 10-15 minutes. Ignore the horrified screams of your children as they smell the cooking fish. Drain and flake the fish, then set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot and saute the onion, garlic, chives and peppers. Add the curry powder and stir until well-mixed.

Continue to cook for three minutes or so, then add the coconut milk, fish and black pepper. Let simmer for another 5 minutes. If the sauce is a little too thin, mix the flour with a small amount of water and add that to the pot.
Now for the bread. I discovered when I cut my mango open that it had turned brown inside, so I had to make a special Sunday afternoon trip to Holiday market to buy a single mango. Oh the things I will do for this blog.

Anyway, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, then add the eggs, one at a time, stopping when well-mixed but before they curdle.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour with the salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Now put the banana and mango in a blender and pulse until smooth. Add about half the banana/mango puree to the creamed butter/sugar, then add half the dry ingredients. Repeat until just blended, then fold in the raisins and nuts.

Grease two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pans and transfer the batter to the pans. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Except for the sancoche (obviously) this meal was a hit with both kids and adults. The chicken was wonderfully fruity and flavorful, and the bread was an improvement on typical banana bread—the mango added a nice tang to it that made it extra delicious.

Martin and I both liked the sancoche. It was salty, though, and it needed something starchy to temper it. If I made this again (and I think I might) I would serve it with white rice. Of course, I didn't try giving it to my kids because duh. They wouldn't have touched it, though trying to coerce them to might have made for some entertaining drama.

Next week: The Dominican Republic

For printable versions of this week's recipes:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Recipes from Djibouti

Confession: I don't know how to use Twitter. I mean, I can click the little bird icon at the top of the page and I'm pretty sure that sends out a tweet, but other than that, really, I have no idea. So a couple of days ago as I was sitting in the waiting room at the 10 minute oil change place I happened to open up my heretofore unused Twitter iPhone app and discovered that people have been tweeting me, and tweeting about me, and I never knew anything about it. I'm pretty sure that makes me Lame.

So I'd just like to apologize in blog form (because Blogger is a technology I do actually know how to use) to anyone who tweeted me and was rewarded with silence. But I still don't know how to use Twitter. Don't worry, I'm putting it on my to-do list.

Anyway this week we are in Djibouti, which is pronounced (don't laugh) "Ji-booty." OK, stop laughing. Yeah, it's kind of funny.

Djibouti is a very small country in the horn of Africa. How small? It comes in at just under 9,000 square miles, which is roughly the size of New Hampshire. Djibouti is bordered by Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea, with the Red Sea to the east. As far as African nations go, it is by no means the worst off, but it does have its problems, not the least of which is a very hot, dry climate that makes agriculture challenging and leaves the country dependent on imports. Djibouti has few natural resources, but it does have a port--and therefore an important position as an international shipment and refueling center. The secession of Eritrea from Ethiopia left the latter without any link to the sea, which provided Djibouti with a much-needed economic boost. Beyond that, though, its unemployment rate hovers at 40 to 50% and the government struggles with deep external debt.

I'm sure it won't surprise you to hear that Djibouti doesn't have a gigantic online presence, and recipes from that part of the world aren't exactly flooding the world's recipe sites. In fact, as far as I could tell, there is exactly one online resource for Djibouti cuisine. And guess what? She's a good one. I feel pretty lucky to have found her.

Photo by Rachel Pieh Jones.

Rachel Pieh Jones is an expat from Minnesota who lives in Djibouti and blogs at Djibouti Jones. What's more, she's the author of a cookbook called Djiboutilicious, which let's face it is an awesome title. It has an even awesomer subtitle: celebrating culture and cooking in a country as hot as your oven. The book features a few local recipes and other recipes that use locally available ingredients. If you're interested in this country in particular or even the region in general, this is a great slice-of-life resource focusing on food and culture.

So all of my recipes this week come from Djiboutilicious, and Rachel was kind enough to give me permission to share them with you. Here they are:

Isku Dhex Karis (Meat Pilaf)
The name of this dish literally translates to "Everything Mixed Together"
  • 1 lb beef, goat or chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used beef)
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 3 cups cooked rice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
and on the side:

Misir Wat (Red Lentils)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups orange lentils
  • water
and some bread, though I confess I don't really know if this is the sort of thing you would actually serve with a dinner meal (it's kind of sweet and seemed almost like it would be nice for breakfast, maybe with a little honey). I should have asked Rachel, but by the time I started wondering about it it was already blog day, and I didn't want to change my game plan on short notice.

Maandazi (Khamir)
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
Anyway, this was a very simple meal with simple ingredients, which was great because for once I didn't have to start cooking at noon. Starting with the stew:

Cover the meat pieces with water and boil until cooked through. Drain, then add the oil and onions.

Meanwhile, put the cumin seeds in a dry pan and toast until fragrant. Make sure to keep stirring them because they will burn quickly if you're not paying attention.

Remove from the pan and crush the seeds in a mortar and pestle (or use your repurposed coffee grinder, which is what I did). Now mix the cumin powder with the garlic.

Add the tomatoes, garlic paste and rice to the meat, then stir in the tomato paste. Cook until the onions are translucent and the tomatoes are soft.

Next, do the lentils. If you haven't made red/orange lentils before, they cook much faster than regular lentils because they are a lot finer. Here's how to make them in this recipe:

First saute the onion in the oil, then add the tomatoes.

Wow, this is a really awful picture.

When the onions are translucent and the tomatoes are soft, add the lentils and the water. Boil until the lentils are tender (this shouldn't take more than 20 minutes). That's it!

Finally, the maandazi:

Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the egg and milk. Blend into a smooth dough and then roll out on a floured surface to a thickness of about 3/4 inch. Cut into 1-inch square pieces (mine were a lot wonkier than that). 

Cut into sort of semi pseudo-squares.

Fry the pieces in hot oil on both sides. When golden brown, remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.

So here's what we thought: by now you know how bonkers my kids are for bread and biscuits of any kind. So as I served the maandazi, a black hole opened up in my dining room, there was a huge sucking sound and all the maandazi disappeared. So I guess you could say it was a hit. The kids wouldn't go anywhere near those red lentils, though, oh no. They were way too colorful and formless. As for the isku dhex karis, well, they picked the meat out and ate that. Honestly, I don't know what's wrong with those kids. It was rice, meat and tomatoes. It really doesn't get less scary than that.

Martin and I liked everything. The maandazi had a nice, soft texture and a mildly sweet flavor that would have been good as a snack or, as I mentioned, for breakfast. I thought it went well with the rest of the meal though I don't know if that's really its traditional place. We also liked the isku dhex karis and the lentils, which were simple and hearty and nice on a cold day, which is pretty ironic when you consider that Djibouti doesn't have any actual cold days (once, in December, it got down to 63 degrees. Brrr!).

Anyway, another big thanks to Rachel for this meal and we're off to country the next.

Next week: Dominica (not to be confused with The Dominican Republic)

For printable versions of this week's recipes:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Recipes from Dhekelia

Do you remember Akrotiri? Well, that's where we are again. Except it's Dhekelia.

Dhekelia is exactly the same sort of place as Akrotiri; it's a British-administered sovereign base area on the island of Cyprus, with the primary difference of course being that Akrotiri is on the southernmost point of the island, while Dhekelia is in the south east.

I'm sure it will not surprise you to hear that the roots of this arrangement lie in British colonialism—after the Cypriots gained independence from the British Empire in 1960 they agreed to let the UK have a couple of bases on the island, I suppose as a consolation prize. This was important to the Brits because Cyprus is strategically located at the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, and they wanted a place where they could stage military aircraft in the event of an international incident in that region.

Both of these "sovereign base areas" are squarely in the category of "not really a country and I have no idea why they are on my list." Now Akrotiri and Dhekelia have their own separate legal system, which is distinct from that of both Cyprus and the United Kingdom, so I suppose that is enough to set them apart as their own psuedo-nation. But whatever their reason for being there, there they are, and since I managed Akrotiri without too much difficulty I figured I might as well tackle Dhekelia, too.

It actually wasn't terribly difficult. A quick Google search of "Dhekelia Food" turned up several references to a restaurant called Lambros Fish and Chips, which is widely hailed as one of the best eateries in the area. Lambros serves (you guessed it) traditional fish and chips as well as other traditional British meals like steak and kidney pie, which is unsurprising when you consider that most of the restaurant's patrons are British nationals.

This was the only creative commons photo I could find of Dhekelia.

Now I wish I'd found this reference before I actually made this meal, because I would have done a couple of things differently. Instead I relied on a few other scattered restaurant reviews, mostly from  From these reviews I gleaned that the restaurant serves a starter of pita or village bread with tahini, and from there was able to locate Cypriot versions of all three recipes (between the two breads I settled on the pita). Then I tracked down a recipe for traditional British fish and chips and was ready to go.

Now after I served this meal I noted the following differences between what I made and what Lambros Fish and Chips actually serves:

    1. Their chips are thick-cut; mine were thin (mostly because my French fry cutter doesn't have a thicker insert).
    2. They do serve the traditional mushy peas with their fish and chips, though it sounds like you have to order them separately. I didn't make the mushy peas because yuck.
    3. They serve their fish and chips with Sarsons vinegar, which I didn't have (or know about), though you'd think Martin would have said something.

So if you want the more authentic Lambros experience, you may want to make these changes or additions to your menu. Otherwise, here's what I did:

Cypriot Pita Bread
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
And the tahini:
  • 5 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water (I left this out because it seemed like it would be way too runny)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cilantro (for garnishing)
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Traditional Fish and Chips
(modified heavily from a recipe I found at Great British Chefs)

For the fish:
  • 18 oz cod (the1 original recipe called for haddock, but cod is what they serve at Lambros)
  • 1 1/8 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup lager beer
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp mild curry powder
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp old bay seasoning
For the tartar sauce:
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp English mustard (I used Coleman's)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 tbsp capers, minced
  • 1 tbsp chives, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh tarragon, minced
  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • Zest of 1 lemon
For the chips:
  • 6 red-skinned potatoes
  • 4 1/2 cups oil for frying
  • pinch salt

That's a ton of ingredients, I know (you should have seen the original recipe, which included mushy peas and also had you make your own mayonnaise). Anyway, to get started let's do the bread:

First mix all the dry ingredients together. Slowly add the water until you get a smooth dough (it should not be sticky).

Or, put everything in your bread machine.

Now cover the bowl with a clean towel and let rise in a warm spot. When the dough has doubled in volume, punch down and then divide into 10 pieces.  Shape the pieces into balls and cover for another 10 minutes or so. Then flatten each piece with your hand.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees on an greased baking sheet until golden. (The recipe says that this will take 15 to 20 minutes, but in my oven it was more like 35 or 40. My oven is weird.)

Meanwhile, make the tahini:

You may need to warm up the tahini in order to get a uniform paste, which is what you want. Add the tahini to a food processor with the garlic, lemon juice and salt. Pulse until you get a thick cream, gradually adding the water and olive oil (like I said, I left out the water and I thought the texture was perfect).

Garnish with the cilantro.

And finally, the fish and chips:

To make the tartar sauce, mix the mayonnaise with the lemon juice and English mustard, then add the salt and pepper. Gently stir in the garlic, shallots, capers, chives and tarragon. Grate the hardboiled egg over the mixture and fold in gently. Finish with the lemon zest.

Peel the potatoes (I just left my peels on) and cut them into thick, evenly sized wedges (since I used a French fry cutter, mine were a little more McDonald's sized). Wash under cold water and drain.

Heat the oil until bubbles rise around the non-stirring end of a wooden spoon. Fry the chips until golden on all sides (7 to 8 minutes if you are a Great British Chef, 12 to 15 minutes if you are me).

 Drain the chips on paper towels and keep in a warm oven while you cook the fish.

Meanwhile you can make the batter (but keep a close eye on those chips): mix the flour with the beer, salt, pepper and curry powder. Whisk until smooth. The batter should be pretty thin, so add a little more beer or a little less flour as necessary.

Cut the fish up into strips. Mix the 3/4 cup flour with the Old Bay Seasoning and then coat each piece of fish lightly in the flour, then dip in the batter. Let most of the batter run off (you don't want too much).
Using tongs or some other tool that will keep your hand away from that hot oil, hold half of each fish piece in the oil for about 30 seconds. This should stop the fish from sinking and sticking to the bottom of the fryer. Then gently drop the fish in the oil and keep cooking for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the batter is golden all over. Drain on paper towels and place in a warm oven until all the fish is done cooking.

I tried to take some photos of the batter, but they were awful.

Serve with the tartar sauce and lemon wedges.

OK so I'll start out by saying that Martin is dieting. I am too, but Martin is actually starving himself half to death. So we went easy on the portion sizes, which was a real shame because this whole meal was delicious. The tahini paired beautifully with the pita bread, though Martin and I were its only fans since my kids seem to hate anything that is delicious. The kids did gobble up the pita bread with loads of butter, though, which is how they eat any kind of bread.

The chips were obviously the favorite. My kids had them with ketchup, which is borderline sacrilegious, but there you go. They also ate the fish with ketchup, but at least they ate it.

The fish really came out well. Shockingly well, when you consider how most of my deep fried stuff usually turns out. The batter was really crispy and delicious and I loved the tartar sauce, which was really different than the stuff I usually make out of mayo and pickle relish.

Hailey ate one fish stick and exclaimed excitedly that she loved it, then asked for another and failed to eat the second piece. What that means, I don't know. Maybe she was trying to protect my feelings, though that was unnecessary because I am very confident that the fish was delicious and she's just a crazy eater.

So overall this was a huge success, so I'm glad I tackled Dhekelia instead of just excusing myself based on it not really being a country and being exactly the same as Akrotiri. I do find that most of my non-countries end up being pretty tasty meals, maybe because I have to get so creative when I come up with the recipes.

So anyway, back to the real world next week: Djibouti.

For printable versions of this week's recipes:

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