Exploring global food and food culture

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Pav Bhaji Recipe – A Vegetarian Mumbai Street Food

Pav Bhaji Recipe – A Vegetarian Mumbai Street Food

There’s a strong tradition in countries with high population metropolitan areas (such as India) of street food.  This is economical food, using ingredients for their ease of availability and affordability.  While America doesn’t really have a huge tradition of ‘street food’ per se (unless you […]

Southern Comfort – a Southern Poutine Recipe

Southern Comfort – a Southern Poutine Recipe

My Grandma kept a jar of bacon grease on the counter. It’s a very Southern thing to do. There’s something about the distillation of flavor aligning with the practical economics of the act. You make do with what you have. That’s also a very Southern […]

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I confess, dear readers, that I’ve been in something of a funk lately.  It happens to lots of people this time of year.  The slow descent of the year into torpor, the trees losing their glorious leaves, the ever shortening days.  The air grows crisp, the nights begin to dominate over the day after the Solstice.  When this happens I feed the soul, taking solace in the sure comfort that I can make something delicious out of humble ingredients (and you can too).  With this in mind, I made this almost decadent Sweet Potato Gnocchi.

As much as pumpkin screams ‘Autumnal’ to many people, I find that the humble sweet potato is just as representative of the season.  The sweetness of things hidden, the small miracle that something so delicious can come out of dirtIt’s nothing short of amazing, when you stop to think about it.

The technique:

First, bake a sweet potato wrapped in aluminum foil.  350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Unwrap the sweet potato, slice it in half and let it cool down for a while.  Then scoop out the insides and place into a bowl.  Mash the sweet potato until it has a soft texture.

Add flour, salt, a dash of pepper, olive oil and an egg.

Mix well, then knead for about five minutes until it forms a soft dough.

Roll the dough out into long ropes, a little larger than a finger.  Using a knife, cut off knobs of dough about half an inch wide.

Cook the sweet potato gnocchi in boiling water for about 5 minutes, just long enough for them to lose the taste of the raw flour.  While doing this, add butter and olive oil to a pan.

Add fresh sage leaves (or rosemary, or any other fresh herb, if sage is too ‘sagey’ for your tastes) and cook in the oil.  Add two tablespoons of flour and cook over a medium heat for several minutes.

If you’re feeling REALLY decadent (or need to comfort your soul that much) add a splash of heavy whipping cream.  Pour over the cooked sweet potato gnocchi, and serve quickly.  This dish is best served warm and fresh.

The ingredients:

  • 1 baked sweet potato, mashed
  • 4 tablespoons flour (for the gnocchi)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter (for the sauce)
  • several fresh sage leaves (or other fresh herb)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (for the sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • splash of heavy whipping cream (optional)

What do you make when you’re feeling down, in a funk, and just need to reconnect with your soul?

Thai Curry Grilled Pizza

Thai Curry Grilled Pizza

Summer is perfect for grilling.  Of course, grilled pizza is divine, and probably the way everyone should be cooking pizza if they don’t have access to an actual pizza oven.  A grill can give the intense heat that really good pizza needs.  There are a […]

Basil Rosemary Potato Pizza

Basil Rosemary Potato Pizza

I know what you’re thinking.  Potato?  On a pizza?  Yes.  Potato.  On a pizza.  Seriously.  Basil rosemary potato pizza with a sourdough crust, to be exact.  I’ve made other pizzas before, but this time I wanted to do something a little different. I recently was […]

Bacon Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic and Blue Cheese

Bacon Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic and Blue Cheese

The holidays for many families are about traditions, new and old, the continuity of life continuing, year after year. Despite changes. Despite anything. We have a lot of traditions in our family around Christmas time, and many of them revolve around food. One that my wife and I have added in the last few years is this recipe for Bacon Brussels Sprouts.

Bacon and brussels sprouts are meant to go together. I used to think, like many people that I didn’t like brussels sprouts. That was because the only way I had had them prepared was boiled, essentially leaving nothing but a rubbery semi-bitter approximation of their former glory. Cooking them with bacon caramelizes them, balancing out the faint bitterness (common to most brassica vegetables; there’s a blog post there somewhere in the future). Also, it adds bacon. Because, you know. Bacon.

To round out the flavor, we add balsamic vinegar, for that hint of sweet and sour, and blue cheese, for creaminess, of course, but also because of the assertive funky flavor that it adds. You end up with something that’s much more than the sum of its parts. It all just works together.

The technique:

First, you need your mise en place:

brussels sprouts

Halve brussels sprouts. Cook bacon and dice it (set aside some for snacking, if needed). Gather bacon grease, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Dice garlic cloves and set aside.

Make sure you know where you blue cheese is. You’ll want that handy.

blue cheese

Next, in a large pan, add olive oil and bacon grease, and fry the halved brussels sprouts over a medium heat. Like so:

brussels sprouts

Add kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper (seriously, none of that nasty pre-ground stuff, please) and continue to fry until they begin to brown. They should start to look something like this:

Next, add cooked bacon and garlic, and cook for another few minutes, stirring constantly so that all the garlic bits start to brown.

brussel sprouts

When the sprouts start to become a little soft, deglaze with balsamic vinegar and cook for a minute or two more, stirring constantly.

Finally, add the crumbled blue cheese, then take the pan off the heat and cover. This dish is best served warm, with the blue cheese just beginning to melt.

And that’s it.  Humble ingredients transformed by the alchemy of cookery into the sublime and elegant.  A small bit of joy and magic in an otherwise mundane and drab world.

That’s one of our holiday food traditions.  What are yours?

The ingredients:

  • 1 package brussels sprouts
  • 5 pieces cooked and diced bacon
  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup whole walnuts
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 package crumbled blue cheese
Tortilla Espanola

Tortilla Espanola

The first time my wife made tortilla espanola (I know, I was confused too; it doesn’t look like a tortilla; I usually just call it a Spanish omelette) for me, when we were attempting one of our tapas meals for some friends, I was skeptical. […]

Ode to a Potato, or Patatas Bravas of Thee I Sing

Ode to a Potato, or Patatas Bravas of Thee I Sing

I suppose it’s the Irish ancestry showing up in my love for patatas bravas.  There’s something so wholesome, so appealing about the simplicity of a fried potato.  I’m also a sauce nut.  Seriously.  My wife was making lasagna earlier tonight, and she just brought me […]

Lemon marinated olives

Lemon marinated olives

Olives are a testament to human ingenuity. In their natural state, they’re bitter. Hardly edible at all. But somehow, in the course of human history, someone got desperate enough (or perhaps it was an accident of some sort) that they fermented or cured some olives. And then they discovered the almost sinful delight they can be. Lust is really about the only way you can describe how a good olive can make people feel.

It’s also getting easier to find decent olives. I’m not a fan of the typical black olive or the green olives with the pimentos. They’re alright, but they pale in comparison to others. You can actually find halfway decent Calamatas at most supermarkets, now. Thankfully, which makes this recipe much easier to plan and execute.

The technique:

This is one of those so simple you can’t screw it up recipes.  The zest of a lemon, and the juice of two lemons, is mixed in with Aleppo pepper (you could use red pepper flakes or maybe cayenne or paprika, if you wanted), fresh cracked pepper, a single diced garlic clove, a little olive oil and a bowl full of Calamata olives.

The longer you let this marinate, the more flavorful it’s going to be.  When you’re done, and have eaten all the marinated olives you’re going to eat, chop up the chunks of lemon that are left over, then return the leftover olives and juice to the jar, to slowly marinate the rest of them.

The ingredients:

  • one bowl of Calamata olives
  • 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of two lemons
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • one diced garlic clove

If you try this, let me know how it works for you.  It’s an incredibly yummy recipe.

Benedictine Walnut Salad with Blue Cheese and Balsamic

Benedictine Walnut Salad with Blue Cheese and Balsamic

I’m not a big drinker. I’m just not. I could never hold my alcohol in college, so I’m a total lightweight. But I’m odd. I’m fascinated by the whole history and process of making beer (even though I really don’t like it that much). A […]