Mediterranean Apricot and Date Chutney

I love to can.  Yes…as in mason jars, pressure cookers, and hot water baths.  Every weekend during the summer and fall, we venture to the local farmers market to gather nearly a bushel of fresh produce. The rest of the day is spent in the kitchen canning. Storing the items for the winter months.

This weekend I tried a new recipe based solely on its name and the memories it invoked.  When we lived in Abu Dhabi, we often enjoyed various dried fruits and cheeses.  This recipe, filled with apricots, dates, raisins, mustard seeds, ginger, and coriander is perfect paired with cheese and crackers or dolloped on next to a slice of lamb and couscous. Sweet and tart, with a subtle flavor profile.

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Veggie Hash

We have been searching for new ways to incorporate more vegetables into our weekend breakfasts. We often enjoy breakfast burritos, omelets, or various other egg dishes, but most were built around some type of meat. Last week, we came upon a recipe for veggie hash…a combination of sweet potatoes, broccolini, onions, peppers, garlic, eggs, and chives. Just five minutes of prep and 15 minutes in the oven.  One pan…easy clean up.  The result was fresh and light, full of a subtle sweetness from the potatoes and richness from the sauteed onions and peppers.  Eggs provide plenty of protein for a balanced meal.

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Dining in…Vietnamese Pho

I have always loved to cook. From ribs, to desserts; French to Asian. Doesn’t matter. Cooking is a form of relaxation and creativity. Last night, Kevin, my husband and sou chief, and I prepared Vietnamese Pho. A warm and hearty combination of chicken, mushrooms, broccoli, scallions, ginger, red onions, cilantro, fish sauce, rice noodles, and homemade chicken broth, topped with fresh mint from our garden.

Great Market Hall Budapest 

While at the conference this week, I enjoyed many lunches at the market. The market was originally constructed in 1894, but a fire destroyed half the roof in 1896.  Following repairs the market reopened in 1897. Along with the many shops for tourists, many locals do their daily shopping in the market. It is hard to resist the sames of cheeses and salamis that the merchants are quick to offer anyone who lingers by their cases.


  
  
  
  
  
  

Another amazing evening at the Budapest Wine Festival. 

A light drizzle did not dampen my spirits nor did I allow it to dilute the wine.  Spent over five hours visiting the vendors, learning about the wide variety of grapes grown in Hungary. Met people from across the globe. Certainly wine is a unifying element of humanity!  Met some gents from England, a retired couple from California, and a family from New Zealand. Everyone was having a lovely time. Along with the wines, the food was scrumptious. My favorite was the open-pit smoked salmon and the dark chocolate chili truffle. Portions from all the vendors were huge!  I tried to capture the essence of the festive in photos, but you need to book a trip and experience this annual event for yourself.  (Hotels book far in advance for this event, so plan ahead.)


  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  

Lunch at the Budapest Market 

This is the largest market in Budapest. The first floor features fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables. The second floor hosts Hungarian street food and vendors catering to tourists. The food is cheap and plentiful. A must visit.

  

The Budapest Wine Festival 

I’ve been in Budapest all week attending a professional conference. After the late afternoon session,  a colleague and I ventured up to the Castle District to savor the grape

 harvest at the Budapest Wine Festival. What an amazing event. Over 200 vineyards were on display showcasing their wines. A prepayment card was used to purchase wines and foods. Upon leaving I was refunded the unused amount. The entire night cost less then $40 USD and I had the pleasure of sampling over 6 wines, grilled salmon, oven baked pizza, and a chocolate chili truffle. This event is not to missed.

Simple Homestyle Curry: A Cooking Lesson

Food in Abu Dhabi, and the UAE as a whole, is heavily influenced by both its neighboring countries and by the expatriate population (which accounts for approximately 85% of the population), the majority of whom are Indian. That makes for some great Indian cuisine.  Many hotels offer elaborate Indian buffets, small, family owned Indian restaurants are plentiful, and the local markets stock a wide variety of vegetables and spices for home cooks.

On a recent trip to Dubai, I came upon a lovely cookbook, 50 Great Curries of India, by Camellia Panjabi.  The photos and recipes were so tempting that I wanted to start cooking, straight away. But author advised to begin with a simple home-style curry before venturing into the more complex dishes.

So today I took her advice and made my first home-style curry.

All ingredients are prepped
All ingredients are prepped

Frying the onions properly is a very key step in curry making; the key is to not to get the pan too hot as to overly brown the onions.  The goal is to achieve a golden, caramelized color.

Step 1: frying onions to a golden brown
Step 1: frying onions to a golden brown (still need about ten minutes)

After about twenty-five minutes, it was time to add fresh ginger and garlic.  The ginger here is amazingly fresh and moist, not the dried out root I typically found in the US. After a minute on the heat, the kitchen smelled heavenly, but now it’s time to add the spices: coriander, cumin, garam masala, and paprika.

After about ten more minutes, the result was a reduction of Indian goodness of warm spices (not spicy hot), ginger, garlic, and onions.

20150425_130800Now time for the tomatoes.  After a few more minutes, the chicken was added to the party. The result was a rich, flavorful chicken curry that I served over rice with Arabic bread on the side.  A perfect lunch.

20150425_132748While this was a solid first attempt, my husband and I both agreed that next time (and there will be a next time) I will add some “heat” in the way of dried Asian peppers and perhaps a few more vegetables.

Bon Appetit.

Mina Port Fish Market in Abu Dhabi

What an experience! This huge building has everything a fish lover could dream of.  First…the selection.  Fresh off the boats; every possible type of fish and sea creature.  Shark, squid, sea bass, tuna, blue crabs, and prawns the size of small lobsters.  Oh yeah, they also had lobster.  Second, the cleaning stations.  After you make your purchase, you take your catch to one of the cleaning stalls where for 2 Dhs (.58 USD) for them to clean the fish to your specifications.  Third…and this is the best part, you take your cleaned fish, or in our case blue crabs and prawns, to one of the many grilling stalls.  Here your catch will be grilled, fried, or baked to perfection in about 30 minutes for a cost of 10 Dhs per kilo.  The result…beautifully charcoal grilled crabs and prawns.

As soon as our food was ready, we hailed a taxi and hurried home to enjoy our feast.  What a treat!  Yes, the market smells like fish.  Yes, it is noisy.  Yes, they speak little English.  But the food and experience is so worth it.  If you are in Abu Dhabi, you must make the trek to the Mina Fish Market. Bus 54 takes you to the front entrance.

Bon Appetit.

DSC00872                                                              Grilled blue crabs.

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Grill king sized prawns.

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