Traveling the World in Food

This weekend we hosted Alex and Sonja for one of our back-and-forth dinners. The goal this time was to try to keep things simple, vegetarian, and delicious, while utilizing things in season, from the garden, and appropriate for a late summer/early fall meal. Lynne had two family dishes she wanted us to make (one from her mom, one from her dad), and then we found other great ideas online to complete a somewhat “traditional dishes from around the world” menu. The menu also honors our beloved Anthony Bourdain and his world-travelling cook’s tour, who we look forward to seeing in Indy in a couple weeks!

We started in Central America with a Calabaza, Corn, and Coconut Soup. This was excellent, and the corn, lime, and cilantro relish simply made the dish. This may be the first non-Asian dish I ever cooked with coconut milk, and it was a more subdued flavor than southeast Asian coconut milk soups. This was so good that I had to stop myself from eating it for breakfast the next day.

Next, we hopped in our private jet (imaginary, so what!) and headed west to Japan for Tofu Dengaku. This is a traditional Japanese dish featuring grilled tofu skewers in a vey flavorful miso paste. This was the first time I had cooked tofu in years, and I was pretty happy with how it turned out. The miso paste (disclaimer – I LOVE MISO) was spectacular, and I’m glad some was left over to put on future dishes (it was really good on my eggs the next day).

Hopping back in our jet, we continued further west to the Middle East where we sampled some amazing Tabbouleh. This was a dish we had made once before and enjoyed first thanks to Lynne’s dad. It is so refreshing and a great way to utilize herbs and vegetables from the garden. So far we have only harvested two huge tomatoes from our pink heirloom plant, but it was worth using them on this dish (along with some of our smaller yellow tomatoes).

We gassed the jet up again for another flight, this time to Italy to enjoy Mozzarella-Stuffed Grilled Portobellos with Balsamic Marinade. These were fantastic (and it helped eating two per person – FYI for your future meal planning purposes!). I found that some of the breading didn’t brown as quickly on the grill, which required me to flip them over. This was risky, but I found that I didn’t lose much topping by that point. We decided that these were basically deconstructed pizzas – bread crumbs on top instead of crust on bottom, cheese and herbs in the middle, balsamic as the “sauce,” and mushrooms on the bottom.

We finished our trip by heading back to the U.S. and enjoying apple dumplings and vanilla ice cream. These treats were a favorite of Lynne’s growing up and a recipe from her grandma. We used a better dough recipe though, and Lynne’s mom was quite impressed. The crust was top-notch, and this was quite a filling dessert!

It was a fantastic night with friends, playing with cameras and tripods, and eating!

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