Eeeeekkkk! Another celebrity foodie geek out moment for me.
You’ve kind of heard me say this before, but one of my goals is to redefine the term “Foodie.” If you are someone who like to prepare meals you can call yourself a cook. If you’re someone who loves to thrill your taste buds with various flavor you’re an eater. Of course cooking and eating can and should also be a big part of being a Foodie, but that can’t be all that there is. So what is the definition of a Foodie?
A Foodie is someone who is passionate and cares deeply about food. And so, I believe that a true Foodie, can’t only care about flavors and techniques. A true Foodie has to care about issues like world hunger, labor rights and environmentalism (to name a few).
A few months ago I read about this great project, United Noshes, started by husband and wife team Jesse Friedman and Laura Hadden. Jesse and Laura, true Foodies by my definion,decided last year to embark on a multi year project in which they’d cook a full meal from every country that is a voting member of the UN and… wait for it… wait for it… raise money for the UN World Food Program.
Jesse and Laura research recipes and ingredients to keep these meals as authentic as possible and they invite guests to join! They ask that guests bring a donation for the UN world program. Do these seem like people I needed to know or what?
Last week I realized that they were just about up to Denmark so I offered my help via Twitter and then followed up with an email. Though I knew that you could request an invitation, I thought it was probably too late since the meal was planned for this past Saturday. I wrote Jesse a fairly extensive email about Danish food and meals and offered to send over a bag of my favorite Danish candy, Toms Guldkaramellers. Jesse sent a note of thanks in reply and then invited me to the Danish dinner! Of course I readily excepted and was even more in awe on their awesomeness when Jesse asked for a list of my allergies so he could be conscious while shopping and cooking.
I arrived at Jesse and Lauren’s Brooklyn apartment on Saturday and was greeted by an eclectic group of people. Jesse and Lauren, who turned out to be just as warm and lovely in person, had invited a couple of their IRL friends and then several other people were strangers like me who’d requested an invitation through the United Noshes newsletter. It was such a great group of people. I mean how often do you sit down with 8 complete strangers and have plenty of free flowing conversation, laughter and great food. Two of the guests were actually half Danish and many of the other guests had spent time there so we all had plenty of Denmark related stories to share.
Jesse makes pretty much everything from scratch and we were rewarded with truly authentic Danish delights. First, there was Jesse own version of Aquavit, for which he infused vodka with all kinds of spice. Aquavit is not my favorite thing so I took one tiny sip for the toast, “Skål” and then let someone else have the rest.
There was also pickled herring, another thing I avoided, and delcious frikardeller, pickled beets, Danish blue cheese, leverpostej (liver pate), potato salad creamed kale and fresh baked rugbrød (dark danish rye). Of course everything was washed down with a nice cold Carlsberg!
All in all it was great fun having a little bit of Denmark right here in NYC. We all left with full bellies (seriously I must get that Kale recipe from Jesse), new friends and a promise to return for another meal!
I’m sorry that my pictures are so bad, but definitely check out Laura’s beautiful photos over at United Noshes.
“World Food Day is a day of action against hunger. Mobilize your family, friends and community this October 16th. When each of us does our part we can end the needless suffering of nearly a billion people worldwide.”
You know how good it feels when you host a dinner party you have this great sense of satisfaction knowing that everyone is well fed and content? Well consider this call to action a global dinner party and think how satisfied and happy you would feel if the whole world were well fed and content.
To learn more click here.
Remember when I got to the letter O and the only country was Oman? Well here we are again at Q and the only country that starts with Q is Qatar. So we’re back in the Middle East and the same problems present themselves. To review those problems are that most Middle Eastern dishes uses ingredients that I’m allergic too and that the food, while delicious, tends to not be very country specific. Still, Qatar is what I had to work with so Qatari food it is.
As much as I love lamb and rice and Middle Eastern spices I just couldn’t bear making yet another dish in that vein so I was excited when I stumbled on some recipes for Balaleet, a Middle Eastern breakfast treat. Throughout this project I’ve done main courses, desserts and sides so doing a breakfast dish seemed like great fun.
Balaleet is a mix of sweet and savory and is often served for special occasions in Qatar. Had I planned better (and by planned better I mean cleaned my apartment) I would’ve invited a friend or two over for brunch. Unfortunately,
my apartment looked like the seventh circle of hell I wasn’t prepared so I scaled this recipe back to serve one, but it would be extremely easy to multiply it for a bigger brunch.
I took two liberty’s with this recipe. Instead of buying vermicelli or angel hair I used Barilla cut spaghetti, but that was really because I had forgotten to buy angel hair at the supermarket so I ran to the bodega on my corner and grabbed the cut spaghetti. This recipe can also be made with rice vermicelli for those who are gluten free.
The other change I made was to use orange juice rather than orange flower water or rose water which all traditional recipes call for. While I try to keep these recipes authentic, it would’ve been a waste to buy orange or rose water that I’d likely never use again.
1/2 cup Vermicelli; broken in to about 1 inch pieces (or use cut spaghetti)
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
Large pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup orange juice
1 egg omelette
Boil Vermicelli about 2 minutes less than package directs. Drain then toss in to a mixing boil.
Immediately toss in sugar, cinnamon, ginger and mix well. The heat of the pasta will dissolve the sugar.
In a small non stick frying pan melt butter over medium high heat. Stir in orange juice.
Pour in noodle mixture and spread to flatten. Cover and turn heat down to medium low. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the liquid has absorbed and the bottom has crisped.
Set aside noodle cake and wipe out the frying pan. Make a one egg omelette. Cut the omelette into a few large pieces and serve on top of the noodle cake.
FINAL VERDICT: B-
This dish was definitely interesting and I don’t mean that in a, “Well he’s err got a great personality” kind of way. I mean it in more of a, “Ya know we had a nice time; good conversation; I’m just not sure there was spark,” kind of way.
I went light on the sugar, though most recipes call for far more, because I thought the sugar in the orange juice would add a ton of sweetness, but surprisingly it didn’t. It was actually not very sweet at all definitely should’ve added another Tablespoon of sugar.
I did like the play of textures with the crispy noodles and fluffy egg though. I would definitely try this recipe again, especially for a brunch with other people!
Last day of catch up! We made it, whoop!
Last summer I had some beautiful zucchini and peppers on hand, so I went out and grabbed some shrimp and feta and whipped up a Greek inspired shrimp dish. I made it again a couple of weeks ago and it was just as good as I remembered.
Of course I didn’t bother to measure anything so this recipe has a lot of “to taste” or “whatever looks good to you” in it. It’s so simple though that it’s really hard to mess up. When I made this maybe 3 weeks ago there were still lots of zucchini and peppers at the farmer’s market. You should still be able to get the last of the season right now, but if they’re already gone in your area you can just save this recipe for next summer 😉
Baked Shrimp With Feta
- 1 large bell pepper diced; (I like to use red or orange to contrast with the zucchini)
- 1 medium onion; diced
- 2 large zucchini diced; (I like to use one green and one yellow if I can for purely aesthetic purposes)
- 1 can of diced tomatoes; drained
- Salt, pepper, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes to taste
- 1lb shrimp; cleaned and peeled
- 4-6 oz. crumbled Feta cheese
Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil. Saute onions, peppers in olive oil until they soften and begin to brown, 5-7 minutes.
Transfer veggies to a bowl. Stir in tomatoes. Add salt, pepper and herbs and adjust to your liking. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 500.
Wipe out skillet and put back on medium heat with just a touch more oil. Saute shrimp for 1 minute per side (2 minutes total!) just until they are no longer translucent. Toss in with the vegetable mixture.
Spread the whole mixture in to a baking dish (I use a 9X13) and top with Feta.
Bake for 10 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through and cheese has browned.
Serve over rice or orzo.
Yield 4-6 servings.
Ok so I’m STILL playing catch up, but I’m determined to be all caught up by the end of this week, especially since I plan to make both my Q and R recipes this weekend.
Two weeks ago Jews all around the world observed Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. As you probably know on Yom Kippur we refrain from eating or drinking anything (yes, even water) from sundown to sundown. It’s a time for personal reflection and repentance. As we are starting a new year we look back at wrongs we’ve done in the past year and pledge to do our best to be better in the new year.
Fasting sucks. Really really sucks. But guess what, 364 days of the year I am privileged to have access to safe and nourishing food and clean drinking water. So on Yom Kippur I choose not only to reflect inwardly, but also globally. I say prayers of gratitude that I always have enough food to eat and water to drink and I pray for the same for every other human being I share this earth with. I do believe though, that prayer is nothing without action so on Yom Kippur I also recommit myself to the fight against food insecurity, GMO’s, climate change, and the fight for labor rights and access to clean water and so much more.
If you’d like to join the fight, I feel that I can speak for all of us who are committed to sustainable food systems and access to clean water when I say, “We’d love to have you!” A few easy things that you can do; stop drinking bottled water, try to reduce your food waste by buying only what you will consume, bring reusable bags with you when you go shopping, commit to incorporating vegetarian meals in to your diet a couple of times a week and of course use your consumer dollars and your votes to send a message to companies and law makers.
As for the observance of Yom Kippur itself, like all Jewish holy days, it starts at night so before heading off to synagogue we eat a big meal since it’s all we’ll eat for the next full day.
Challah, a traditional Jewish bread, is usually braided, but for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur it’s baked in to a spiral to symbolize the circle of life as one year flows in to another.
My mom made brisket with egg noodles and roasted brussel sprouts. Yum! To paraphrase Anthony Bourdain, the only people who really know how to cook brisket are Jews and Texans.
Obviously the best part of the day is when you actually get to break the fast. Since no one is cooking while they’re fasting, most people break the fast with bagels and what Jews call, “appetizing” aka all the fixin’s that go with bagels like cream cheeses, smoked fish, lox, side salads, etc or what my mom calls, “Jewish Soul Food.”
Sadly today what often passes as a bagel is really just a roll with a whole in the middle. Luckily there are still a few places, like my personal favorite, Absolute Bagels, that still make authentic bagels.
If I had to choose the meal I’d want on my death-bed it would be a tie between some form of gooey cheesy baked pasta or a toasted egg bagel with cream cheese (plain or scallion), whitefish salad (which is smokey, but not fishy btw) and a thick slice of tomato.
And so, refueled after my fast I’m ready to return to the fight!
Yes yes, I’m a proud Manhattanite, but I really love Brooklyn too. Maybe it’s because both of my parents grew up there and growing up all of my grandparents lived there. Maybe it’s because Brooklyn, despite being part of New York City, proudly functions in many ways as its very own city. Or maybe it’s because all of the incredible food that can be found there these days.
A couple of weeks ago my friend JulieAnne and I attended, Brooklyn Local, a fundraiser for City Harvest.