Monday, September 22, 2014

Basque Stewed Chicken

Basque Recipe

S is for Spain...

Basque regions are the border land regions between the Spanish and French border. They are an indigenous ethnic minority with their own language. My familiarity with the Basque region began in the 1990's when my Dad got me interested in tennis. One of my favorite tennis stars was Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. Her and her two brothers Emilio and Javier were big tennis stars at the time. When watching the Grand Slam events on TV, the announcers would often talk about their Basque heritage, which I had never heard of previously.

The Basque language has no resemblance to other European languages and their existence dates back to the Middle Ages. The three Spanish provinces that are in Basque country have limited self governing powers since 1978. The French Basque, who only inhabit one province, have no self governing powers. There are approximately 2 1/2 million Basque who live in these Basque regions between Spain and France. However, many more live throughout Spain and even more with Basque heritage live out of the country, especially in South and Central America, as well as the United States. Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, California, Idaho and Nevada all have large populations of Basque. Idaho has a Basque Cultural Museum and the University of Nevada is home to the Center for Basque Studies.

Basque cuisine is rich in seafood, due to their coastal location. It has incorporated many culinary influences of neighboring countries. Spanish Basque food is usually a little spicier than mainstream Spanish cuisine and the ubiquitous smoked paprika that the Spanish love, is used abundantly.

This is a not a specifically traditional or signature dish that Spain is known for, but rather a dish created in the flavors of the Spanish Basque. Since I had come home from the farmer's market with some green tomatoes and a friend had brought me some fresh red tomatoes from her garden, I wanted to incorporate the use of both in this recipe. However, you can also make it using only red tomatoes.

Basque Stewed Chicken
Serves 5
  • 1 large red tomato, about 8-9 oz., chopped
  • 1 large green tomato, about 8-9 oz., chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 Asian chiles (or 1/2 jalapeno)
  • 5 chicken drumsticks (about 22 oz.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon capers (or olives)
  • 1/2 cup Port wine
  • 1/4 cup Serrano ham, torn
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
Sprinkle chicken pieces with black pepper, smoked paprika and salt. Toss to combine.
Heat oil in a deep skillet and brown chicken on all sides.
Add  garlic, capers, tomatoes, chile and wine. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until chicken is cooked though, about 15 minutes.
Add parsley and ham.

Stir to combine and cook for 1 more minute.
Stewed Chicken, Spain Recipes, Basque Recipes

Serve with saffron rice to absorb the delicious sauce and grilled or roasted vegetable.
Spanish Recipe

You can also use white wine. Since I used green tomatoes to contrast the tart flavor of the tomato, I used the sweeter Port wine.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 44

Chef Mireille

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Thai Five Spice Pork

Thai Recipe

With the use of five spice powder, this recipe from my Thai cookbook is a result of the Chinese that migrated to Thailand. This recipe is a delicious fusion of Thai & Chinese cuisine.

If you are not a pork eater, feel free to substitute chicken or even potatoes, for a Vegetarian version.

Thai Five Spice Pork
Serves 4
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 lbs. pork shoulder, chopped into large pieces
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons five spice powder
  • 2 tablespoons black soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro
Separate cilantro leaves from the stems. Finely chop the stems. Chop the leaves separately.
Heat oil. Add garlic and cilantro stems. Saute for a few minutes until the garlic starts to change color.
Add pork and five spice powder. Fry for about 5 minutes, until the pork is well browned and coated with the spices.
Add tomato, sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, salt and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
Add cilantro leaves and stir to combine.

Serve with Jasmine rice.

Or for a non traditional gluten free meal, you can serve it with this Corn Salsa like I had it.

This post is for the CC Challenge of the month

Chef Mireille

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Lasary Citron...Lemon Condiment from Reunion Island

Lasary Citron

This pickled lemon condiment is a specialty of Reunion Island, the French island in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar. This condiment is usually served with seafood, poultry and vegetable dishes. You can complement any Reunion Island meal with this condiment. I sauteed some cabbage with just a little garlic and thyme and topped it with a little Lasary Citron to make this Reunion Island Goat Massale dinner.

Lasary Citron (Pickled Lemon Condiment)
Yield: approximately 2 cups
  • 2 1/4 lbs lemons (8 large lemons)
  • 12 dried piri piri peppers
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, grated
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
Using a microplane grater, remove only the yellow part of the lemon zest/skin.
Remove the lemon flesh, discarding the white pith, membranes and seeds.
Combine lemon flesh, lemon skin with salt and onions in a large bowl. Leave out for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
Add all of the other ingredients. Stir to combine. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerattor.

Leave to marinate for 1 month before using. After a month, the vegetables will soften and your condiment will be ready.

Chef Mireille

Reunion Island Massale Goat

Masala Goat

R is for Reunion Island...

We are now on the letter R for International Cooking by Alphabet. Since I had cooked an Estonian dish (although I ended up changing my mind and posting Ecuador instead) and it is very similar to Russian food - I really didn't want to do Russia and while I found some nice Romanian recipes - especially from the breads, cakes and pastries genre, nothing was really exciting me to prepare.

I then Googled countries beginning with letter R and came across Reunion Island. I thought this was different and most likely few, if any of the other BM would be doing food from Reunion. After just a little bit of searching, I found a site with a bunch of Reunion Island recipes - and so many of them I wanted to prepare. I couldn't decide on just one so I decided to present an entire meal for you from Reunion Island...but time and scheduling got the better of me and you will have to wait for a later date for desserts and lentil preparations from Reunion Island. In the meantime, enjoy this dinner.

Reunion Island is a French island in the Indian Ocean. Very close to Madagascar, their cuisine is a fusion of French, East African, Indian and Chinese. With our main course, I have prepared Lasary Citron, a pickled lemon condiment, which is often served with fish or vegetables.

Reunion Island Dinner Menu
Massale Goat with fresh massale powder
Sauteed Cabbage with Lasary Citron

Let's first make the masala powder that is going to make our goat flavorful and delicious. This masala powder, spelled Massale in Reunion flavors many of their curried dishes.

Reunion Massale Powder
Yield: approximately 1 cup
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons brown mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 4 teaspoons cloves
Roast all the spices except the turmeric in a dry skillet. Cool and grind with the turmeric in a coffee/spice grinder.

Cabrit Massale (Reunion Island Goat Masala)
Serves 4
  • 2 pounds goat meat
  • 2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 7 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons masala powder (from above)
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • oil for frying
  • 5 scallions, finely chopped
Using a mortar and pestle or food processor, make a paste with the garlic cloves, cumin and black pepper.
Season meat with salt and pepper. Heat oil. Add goat meat and brown on all sides. Add onions and garlic paste. Fry for 1 minute.
Add the masala powder and curry leaves. Add 3 cups water. Bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and cook until meat is tender, adding more water as necessary, approximately 2-3 hours.
Add salt and pepper, as needed.

Serve, garnished with scallions.

This is a very flavorful goat to make your Reunion Island meal.
Goat Masala, Masala Goat

Chef Mireille

Friday, September 19, 2014


Q is for Qatar...

That's obvious isn't it since the only country in the world beginning with the letter Q  is Qatar. Qatar is an Arab country surrounded by the Persian Gulf, sharing just one land border with Saudia Arabia. Once part of the Ottoman Empire, Qatar then became part of the British Empire until they achieved independence in 1971.

Qatar is the world's richest country and the most developed in the Arab world. Much of this prosperity lies heavily on the labors of migrant workers, with only 13% of the population native Qatari's. Most of the migrant population comes from India, Nepal, the Phillipines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Qatar has one of the worst records in the treatment of its migrant workers.

Recently, there has been a slew of Qatar advertising on TV aimed at getting more international tourists to Doha I assume since the commercials have been airing here in the US. A few weeks ago I saw on interview on CNN about the construction of a huge complex that uses solar energy as well as wind tunnels so that you can essentially travel a good part of the city without ever having to experience the dessert heat. It's a great concept in terms of energy conservation, but from the statistics above, we know this is only possible through the labor of the migrant workers.

This dish to represent Qatar for letter Q is a popular breakfast item throughout the Gulf Countries like United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, etc. The preparations may vary slightly from country to country, however, the base dish of sweetened vermicelli noodles with eggs is always included.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Yiyimbre Muffins - Panamanian Gingerbread

Panamanian Gingerbread

P is for Panama...

It's funny..even though I am born and raised in NY and have lived my whole life here (except for 1 year as a child in Florida and going away to college in New Mexico), I always get asked where I am from. I don't have a typical NY accent. I think because English was not a first language for either of my parents, my parents knew book English so we always had to speak properly and were not allowed to talk slang as children. Even now, I am always way behind in slang talk. Someone will say an expression and as I look at them blankly, they will wonder how I don't understand an expression that's usually already been in use 1-2 years.

What does this have do with Panama..well I have often been mistaken for Panamanian. Growing up in a neighborhood with a lot of Latin people, I think I have a slight Spanish accent and then based on my complexion and other features, people usually think I am from Dominican Republic and when I say no, they then go down the list of all Latin countries that have black populations - Cuba, Puerto Rico, Panama are usually next on the list after DR. Since I often get pegged as Panamanian, I decided it was time to learn a little about their cuisine which I haven't previously explored.

let's first learn a little about Panamanian history...

Panama's indigenous culture was colonized by Spain in the 16th century. However, much of the indigenous community resisted colonization and Spain had little control over most of the territory. Due to the lack of Spanish control, the route of which Panama is the primary port from the region to Europe with silver and gold mined from Peru, was often plagued with pirates. In 1671, England sacked and burned Panama City, at the time the second most important city in the Spanish empire. They became part of the Republic of Gran Columbia which consisted of Columbia, Venezuela and Ecuador in 1821.

The first attempt to build the Panama Canal was made by the French in 1881, but had to stop in 1889 due to engineering problems and thousands of deaths due to malaria and yellow fever. This led to some French influence on the cuisine. Panama's Pan Michita is a Panamanian interpretation of French Miche bread. Panama seceded in 1903 from Gran Columbia and with the US help, built the Panama Canal, which connects the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.

After decades of democracy, the military took control and that began regimes of repressive government and illegality. President General Noriega in 1988 was convicted of trafficking drugs to the US, which led to the US invasion in 1989. Although this ended Panama's repressive government, it also displaced many Panamanians and is not viewed as positively in Panama and throughout South America. I remember going on vacation in 1989 to Venezuela and the feelings was definitely anti-American. There would be graffiti on buildings with signs that said "Americans - Keep Out". My friends and I always made sure we spoke Spanish when we were outside of our hotel room in some of the inland cities away from Caracas, especially when security guards walked around with machetes and cops wore rifles.

Despite this past, Panama is quite a developed country with the 2nd most competitive economy in Latin America. Much of their GDP comes from Panama Canal tolls, which was transferred 100% to Panama from the US in 1999.

Most of Panama's black population are descendants of the Cimarron people. These were slaves who had escaped from Spanish ships in the 1500's and established their own communities in Panama jungles, where the Spanish couldn't find them. I don't mind being mistaken as a descendant of this brave community.

Now let's get to the recipe...

This is traditionally made as a sheet cake and served as 2" square slices. However, I had a lot of sweets around the house already, so I scaled down the recipe and with such a small quantity of batter, muffins were a more appropriate form.

Yiyimbre Muffins
(adapted from here)
Yield: 8 muffins
  • 1 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 ounces ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup + 2 teaspoons molasses
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray muffin cups with non stick spray.
In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder. Using a whisk, mix it a little.
In a small bowl, combine shortening, molasses and ginger. Mix well. Add to dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
Divide batter evenly among 8 muffin cups.

Bake 30-35 minutes, until muffins are set.

Let cool completely.

These are great for tea time or with a glass of milk. Not too sweet and with the spicy tones of ginger...mmmm

Chef Mireille

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Omani Bamia Stew

Omani Cuisine, Omani Stew

O is for Oman...

Oman is a small coastal country in the Middle East located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, sandwiched between Yemen, Saudia Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Officially known as the Sultanate of Oman, they were once a large empire with control over South Asia and as far south as Tanzania. Because of this, they are an ethnically diverse society with over a dozen languages spoken among its citizens.

Believe it or not, I actually have a cousin that lives in Oman. I have cousins everywhere. That's what happens when your Mom is one of 25 and your Dad is one of 10 kids. Unfortunately, I don't have a relationship with her so didn't feel comfortable to try to contact her to ask for ideas for recipes. It's really sad how racism can also separate families. My uncle was a surgeon here in New York in the 1960's, but at that time black doctors could not get operating privileges at hospitals, so if a patient needed surgery, he would have to get one of his white doctor friends to admit the patients and do the surgery. As you can imagine, this was very frustrating.

When the newly formed country of Zaire put out an International call for French speaking black doctors, my Haitian uncle with his wife, were on the first plane to Africa. Although he visited us annually to get certifications he needed or attend medical conferences, I never met his children. It is so sad that they are my first cousins but because of racism forcing my uncle to leave the country, I have no relationship with them. Otherwise, I would have grown up with them. Unfortunately, my uncle died young because he had contracted AIDS via his work and that broke off most of the contact we had with them. I did meet his daughter once when I was about 12 years old as she spent one night with us on her way to attend University in Arizona, where her older brother was already studying.
A few years later, she married a man from Oman, who she had met while attending University. We were invited to the wedding in Oman, but my parents didn't go, but my Mom still gets a holiday card from her every year.
Since I did not contact my cousin Sheila, I had to rely on online sources for traditional Omani recipes.

The meat used in this stew can also be beef or lamb.

Omani Bamia (Okra) Stew
(adapted from here)
Serves 6-8
  • 1 3/4 pounds goat meat with bones
  • 3 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 pounds okra
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups water (or stock)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Season meat with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a pot and add goat meat. Brown meat on all sides. Remove meat to a roasting pan.
Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, tomatoes, tomato paste and 1 cup of the water or stock. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper. Pour over meat in roasting pan. Transfer to oven for 1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, cut off the tops of the okra. Place in a bowl with the vinegar for 1/2 hour. Drain and rinse.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil and saute okra for about 3 minutes.
Add over the stew in the oven and remaining water. Sprinkle lemon juice on top. Cook, covered,  for another 30 minutes. Remove cover and cook for another 15 minutes.

Serve with white rice.
Omani Recipe

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 44

Chef Mireille

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