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Archive for the ‘main courses’ Category

I was hungry. It had been a long, chaotic day spent on my feet cooking for other people and the last thing I wanted to do was cook for myself. A drive thru was in order. Driving home, I passed the usual suspects and wasn’t all together thrilled. Burger? Fries? Ugh. I started thinking about healthy fast food and the lack thereof. In general, the options are not great. Back in my advertising days, I worked on my fare share of fast food accounts and time and again, no matter how great the option, healthy fast food never sold. The sad truth – surprisingly (or maybe not), there’s not a high demand for healthy options in fast food restaurants. But there was one thing, quite a while ago, that was pretty good. Back in the late ‘90s Wendy’s had fresh pita sandwiches on the menu and they were delicious. Really good.

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A few months ago, suffering from a terrible bout of jetlag, I decided to sort and rearrange my cookbook collection. I purposely avoided counting them (some things just don’t need to be known) but let’s just say I have a lot. In the course of sorting, I found quite a few I haven’t cracked in years and were happy reintroductions, others left me perplexed as to why I had them and yet others made me laugh out loud. One of the later was The Northern Exposure Cookbook: A Community Cookbook From the Heart of the Alaskan Riviera. I’m sure it was a gift though I don’t recall from who. I loved that 90’s show about small town Cicely, Alaska and all the characters that lived there. Plus DJ Chris Stevens was hot. (When has John Corbett not been hot?) While the DVDs are readily available, the show doesn’t seem to be streaming anywhere. That’s a shame.

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This recipe has been stalking me. True story. It first appeared in The New York Times in October of 2017 and has shown up in my social media feeds regularly ever since. Last summer it showed up in my feeds every single week for two months. Maybe it’s stalked you too. Every single time that bright green sauce caught my eye I thought, I’m going to make that one day. Well, that day is here. I needed something to bring to a holiday BBQ and thought, well here we go.

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As a product/recipe developer, I end up with a lot of stuff. Leftovers from various projects, bags and jars and cans of stuff upon stuff add up. Some, I give away but a lot ends up hanging around. I cleaned out my refrigerator earlier this week, a horrifying prospect at any time, and found quite a bit of nut butter accumulated on that bottom shelf. All open, all filled to various levels. I took inventory: 2 jars peanut butter, 1 jar sunflower butter, 1 jar cashew butter and 2 jars of almond butter, all tucked into that back corner that regularly escapes your attention. WTF? This was ridiculous.

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During this little project I’ve been doing for the last few weeks, exploring the foods of recently maligned cultures, I’ve become a bit fascinated with the layered Moroccan meat pie called b’stilla. It was one of the first things I thought of when I started this exploration. This isn’t that post. I did buy all the stuff to make a b’stilla but I just wasn’t feeling it. My first attempt was underwhelming and I really didn’t feel like making it again right now. Instead, struggling with some horrendous jet lag that has me turned all upside-down, I wanted something spicy, something comforting, something saucy. I wanted a project; one that would eat up some time since I seem to be awake at all kinds of weirdo hours and provide my addled brain something to focus on. I wanted doro wat. Luckily, I had everything on hand, including all the spices so I dove in, taking most of my Moroccan ingredients and turning them into a spicy Ethiopian chicken stew instead.

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I had friends over for dinner recently, where I tried out a bunch of dishes I’ve been working on, exploring the foods of maligned cultures that I know little about. Turns out, they knew little about them too. Haiti, El Salvador and all the countries that make up Africa, few knew much about the food and it lead to lively discussions, great conversation and a really enjoyable meal. Food has the power to do that, bring people together. Today’s post is from Haiti and it is a hell of a good stew – Poulet Creole. All the lively flavors interwoven in the country’s history, namely from waves of African and French immigrants, come together in this dish in the best possible ways.

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Continuing on with this culinary journey of recently maligned countries, today it’s Africa, specifically Senegal. When I was a kid I had a cookbook that featured the customs, a brief history and a recipe from various countries. It’s where I learned that cashews grow on trees and the nut grows off the bottom of the fruit, the cashew apple, in a very hard shell. Each apple has one cashew nut, or seed. Though I don’t remember the featured country – Brazil? India? – I figured out pretty quick why cashews were so expensive. That little nugget of information has absolutely nothing to do with this post except that there was another page in the book that was very interesting. It was a recipe for an African “groundnut stew” and contained peanut butter, which blew my 8 year old mind. My entire frame of reference for peanut butter at that time was a sandwich, on smooshy bread with grape jelly and yet here it was in a stew. For dinner. What? I’ve been intrigued ever since.

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