Global tastes with personal flair: Favorite recipes from Blurb cookbook authors
If we’re thinking about traveling, we’re thinking about food. That’s why we’ve gone to four of our favorite exotic cookbook authors around the world to get them to open up about travel, food, memory, and heritage. From the Netherlands to Morocco to the sunny Yucatan peninsula of Mexico to Sri Lanka, they’re sharing their culinary traditions with us by way of favorite recipes you can make at home—wherever that may be.
My favorite recipe is my dad's Boerenkool, which is kale mashed with potatoes and served with sausage, because it's one of my dad's specialties and a classic in the Dutch immigrant community. I hated it as a kid, but I’ve come to appreciate it, perhaps because my dad adds butter, sour cream, and bacon. After all, bacon makes everything taste better.
— Boerenkool —
• 2.5 lbs potatoes
• 3-4 cups fresh, frozen, or canned kale (If you grow your own kale like my Dad does, he recommends freezing it in bag without cooking or blanching it.)
• 2 Dutch sausages, such as old-fashioned rookwurst
• ½ package bacon
• ¼ cup butter
• 1 cup sour cream if you are eating the dish right away, OR milk if you are making it ahead of time.
• salt and pepper to taste
1. Peel and cut up the potatoes.
2. Boil in a large pot until about ¾ done cooking.
3. Add finely chopped kale to the top of the pot and continue cooking.
4. Shortly before potatoes and kale are done cooking, lay the sausage on top of the pot to heat through.
5. While this is cooking, cut up the bacon into bite-sized pieces and fry until just getting crispy
6. When the potatoes and kale are done, set aside the heated sausage and drain the water from the pan.
7. Mash the potatoes and kale, adding butter and milk or sour cream until it reached the texture you like. Adjust amounts of butter and milk or sour cream to your preference.
8. Mix in the bacon. My Dad recommends adding in some, but not all, of the bacon grease for a little extra flavor.
I grew up in the US and overseas, and, while we visited Morocco often, we never lived there, so food was the best link to mom's family, heritage, and culture. The unique savory-sweet combination in meat dishes (see Beef and Prunes and Chicken Bastilla) sets Moroccan cooking apart. The floral notes in cookies and desserts will always remind me of time spent in Morocco with my aunts and cousins; bright, delicious, comforting, and, foremost, fresh. One scent of orange blossom water and I'm back there, a kid in the sunshine of a dusty courtyard.
My favorite recipe is my mom's Beef and Vegetable Couscous; it has so much flavor without having really any spices. In Morocco, it's traditionally served on Fridays at the family table and that's what it represents for my family: A centerpiece of a home-cooked meal around which we can gather. The dish signals the weekend (it takes most of a day to make) and a time to slow down, savor, and be grateful.
However, I can't make Beef and Vegetable couscous as well as my mother can, so I stick to Moroccan Meatballs. This favorite is always a crowd-pleaser. It's usually made in a tagine (earthenware pot), but turns out nicely in any deep skillet. It's a "country dish," and is especially rustic with the addition of eggs (the only way I make it). These meatballs are chock-full of the robust flavors of an exotic spice market.
— Moroccan Meatballs —
• 1 lb. ground beef (lean works well)
• 2 onions (1 chopped, 1 grated, divided)
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 28 oz. crushed tomatoes (canned works)
• 1 tsp each of paprika and cumin
• 1/2 tsp ginger
• 1/4 tsp cinnamon
• salt, pepper to taste
• handful of fresh cilantro and/or parsley, minced
• 1–2 tbs olive oil
• 2–4 eggs (optional)
1. Mix the ground beef with grated onion, all the spices, and the herbs until evenly incorporated.
2. Form into small (1-inch) balls.
3. In a deep skillet or wide saucepan, sauté chopped onion in olive oil, add garlic and tomato sauce.
4. Add same amount of spices to sauce, stir, and heat over medium until bubbling.
5. Add meatballs to hot sauce, gently placing each one in pan.
6. Cook meat in gently bubbling sauce until cooked on outside, but still soft or pink in center.
7. Crack eggs one a time on top, cover with lid, and cook until yolks are desired doneness and meat is fully cooked.
Serve with good bakery bread, preferably crusty, to sop up sauce and as a vessel for the meatballs.
But if you only had time to try one recipe from this book and needed it to be quick and easy, I'd recommend the Harscha. Its only ingredients are semolina, a pinch of salt, and a binding agent (water, olive oil, milk, cream, or butter...basically whichever one is within your reach). Served with tea, it's the perfect breakfast or snack, elevated by its utter simplicity. Harscha is filling and hearty and reminds me that the basic elements can be the most satisfying. In Morocco, you'll find these little rounds in every kitchen and griddled fresh by street vendors.
I love this recipe for the combination of flavors that remind me of my travels to the Yucatan in Mexico. It takes me back to memories of Merida, Chichen Itza, and swimming in cenotes. The Achiote has this exotic, earthy, authentic Mexican flavor with a vibrant rusty color. Combined with the zing of the lime, coriander, and chilies, it’s a real winner. I hope you too enjoy it.
— Achiote Butternut Tacos —
• 1/2 butternut pumpkin (cut into 1 cm pieces)
• 60gm achiote paste*
• 1–2 limes, juiced
• 3 chilies (jalapeño or poblano)
• 1 handful of cilantro leaves
• chipotle crema
• salt and pepper
• small corn tortillas
• Yucatecan pickled onion
• finely shredded red cabbage (or iceberg lettuce)
• queso fresco or feta cheese
• margarita dressing
• candied pepitas
* Achiote is a Yucatan-style paste made from ground annatto seeds, garlic, and spices.
1. Blend the achiote paste with lime juice until thoroughly dissolved. Toss the pumpkin chunks in the achiote.
2. Grill, peel, de-seed, and dice the chilies.
3. Grill the achiote-pumpkin mixture until tender.
4. Toss the pumpkin, coriander, and chilies.
5. Lightly dress the cabbage with margarita dressing.
6. The tortilla is usually lightly grilled, steamed, or microwaved to soften it and make it more pliable.
7. Fold up two or three hot tortillas on serving plate.
8. Fill each with a little cabbage, then the pumpkin-chili mix, pickled onions, and a zig-zag of crema.
9. Crumbled over some feta, place a few dots of guacamole, and a sprinkle of candied pepitas.
10. Pass around some habanero hot sauce for those who want some!
**For recipes for the Yucatecan Pickled Onions, Margarita Dressing and Candied Pepitas please refer to my book.
Sri Lanka is an absolutely beautiful country and, in my opinion, has the best food in the world. Growing up in Canada, our grandmother ensured that all of her grandchildren got to experience a bit of her home country through her amazing cooking. Chicken biryani is by far my favorite dish for us. This summer, I actually got the chance to visit Sri Lanka, and I got to taste different varieties of biryani—they were all great! However, nothing will ever compare to my grandma’s recipe and the way she made it. The recipe is super simple, and a great way to get a little taste of Sri Lanka!
— Chicken Biryani —
• 1 small onion
• 2 tablespoons oil
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 4 chicken legs
• 1 tomato
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon cumin seed powder
• ¼ teaspoon chili powder
• half-inch ginger slice
• 2 garlic cloves
• 3 cups basmati rice (6 cups water)
• a pinch of coloring (or saffron)
• ½ teaspoon salt
1. Chop onions and place in a large pot with oil. Fry at medium heat.
2. Put in butter and chicken. Cook at medium-high heat for 20-30 minutes. Add a bit of water so that the chicken doesn't stick to the pot.
3. Add chopped tomato, salt, cumin seed powder, chili powder, crushed ginger, and garlic in pot.
4. Wash rice three to four times.
5. Once chicken is cooked, add water, rice, coloring and salt.
6. When it boils, bring heat down to medium.
7. When the water goes down, reduce heat to low for five minutes and then turn the stove off.