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Exploring Tastes Of The World

Exploring Tastes of the World

So you’re not touring Europe, visiting the birthplace of civilization, checking in with our southern neighbors, or traveling to Thailand this summer? To explore the world in a less extravagant way, try shopping locally and eating globally with your family. Richmond has a ton of shops for all your culinary needs.

If you’re interested in really going the distance, think about inspiring your kids to do research on different countries and visit a corresponding market together. Then, while you’re cooking dinner together and enjoying a family meal that incorporates one of these recipes from around the world, you can talk about everything the kids have learned. If you’re daring, practice a world language while you cook!

Greek Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce

1 pound ground beef or lamb
2 tablespoons grated onion
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup panko
1 teaspoon crushed mint
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 egg, lightly beaten
Flour (for rolling)
2 tablespoons butter

Yogurt Sauce:

½ English cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and finely diced
1 cup plain low-fat or whole milk Greek yogurt (do not use non-fat)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Meatballs: Mix the beef or lamb with the grated onion, garlic, and panko. Add the mint, oregano, allspice, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Add egg and mix well. With floured hands, shape into approximately thirty 1-inch balls. Fry in 12-inch frying pan in olive oil and butter until nicely browned on all sides and completely cooked. Check for doneness by removing a meatball and cutting into the center. Drain on plates with paper towels.

Serve meatballs with toothpicks on a platter with yogurt sauce.

Yogurt sauce: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

African Sweet Potato, Cauliflower, and Peanut Stew

4 strips smoky bacon (optional)
1 small onion, diced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
½ head of cauliflower, cored and cut into 1-inch florets
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon berbere spice (or hot curry powder)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
15-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
⅓-½ cup creamy peanut butter (adjust for your taste)
1 to 2 cups water

In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, add bacon to cold pot and cook slowly over medium-low heat. If you’re not using bacon, add 2 tablespoons peanut oil. Fry bacon until the fat has rendered and bacon is crispy. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, and reserve for later. Now, check and see how much fat is in the pot; you want about 2 tablespoons. If unsure, you can pour out the fat. Measure 2 tablespoons, and return the fat to the pot.

Add the onions to the pot and stir gently; season with a pinch of salt. Cook onions until soft and then add sweet potato and cauliflower, cooking for about 4 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, berbere, salt, and pepper. Toast the spices for one minute or until toasty and fragrant. Add tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add the diced tomato, peanut butter, and 1 cup of water. Gently stir and bring to a simmer, allowing the stew to thicken. If too thick, add additional water.

Allow to cook until the sweet potato and cauliflower are pierced easily with a fork, about 20 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary. Sprinkle on reserved bacon bits prior to serving. Serves four to six.

Arroz Con Pollo

2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 to 4 pounds chicken thighs, legs, and drumsticks (bone-in and skin-on)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ cups long-grain rice
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
3 cups low-salt chicken stock
½ cup tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1 pinch saffron

Combine the salt, garlic powder, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne in a plastic gallon bag. Shake until well-mixed.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, and place in the bag with the spice mixture. Shake the bag, making sure the chicken is well-coated.

Heat the oil in a 12-inch, high-sided skillet over high heat until hot, but not smoking. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, about 6 minutes each side. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add the onions, green peppers, red peppers, and ½ teaspoon salt to the skillet. Cook the vegetables over moderate heat, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Add the rice, garlic and ½ teaspoon salt, and cook until the rice is fragrant and begins to turn gold, about 1 minute.

Meanwhile, combine the stock, tomato sauce, and remaining teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl. Add the stock mixture, bay leaf, and saffron to the skillet and stir to make sure the rice is covered in liquid. Nestle the chicken in the rice, adding any juices from the plate. Bring the rice to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, the rice is tender, and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 35 minutes. Let the skillet stand covered, about 10 minutes, before serving. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serves six.

Eggplant and Basil Stir-Fry

1 cup jasmine rice
2 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
2 or 3 small red chilies
3 baby eggplants, cubed into bite-sized chunks
1 medium-sized onion, diced
1 medium-sized red bell pepper, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce, such as tamari
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn

Cook jasmine rice according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat a deep skillet or wok-shaped pan over high heat. Add oil and chilies, and let sizzle for 10 to 15 seconds. Add eggplant, and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic, and stir-fry for 3 minutes more. Add vinegar and soy sauce. Sprinkle with sugar, and toss for 1 or 2 minutes longer. Remove pan from heat, add basil leaves and toss to combine with eggplant. Serve over hot cooked rice. Serves four.

Jenny Tremblay West
Jenny Tremblay West began her career as a pastry chef and currently teaches cooking in Richmond. Jenny, her husband, and their two young boys live in Church Hill. She has worked in food for more than twenty years and is part of the team at Mise en Place.
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