Regional Specialties

Pickled Eggs & Beets

Rebecca loves pickles: pickled onions, pickled vegetables, Haitian style pickled cabbage, sauerkraut with juniper and caraway, red cabbage sauerkraut with apples and cloves, and of course dill pickles. Whether by nature or nurture, our 2-year old Madeline is developing the same taste. Our current strategy of getting her to eat veggies is to make them sour. This weekend, with piles of fresh beets and local eggs from the market, I was remembering an old fashioned Pennsylvania Dutch classic from my grandparents generation -- Pickled Eggs & Beets. I adapted this recipe from a few of our old Pennsylvania Dutch/Amish cookbooks (yes, we brought them with us to Haiti), reducing the sugar significantly and boosting the spices and vinegar. The resulting magenta pickles are sublime, and super easy to make. Our fridge version of Pickled Eggs & Beets will keep for at least two weeks, and works beautifully as a side, a quirky topping to salads, on toast, in a grain bowl, or as a toddler snack (well at least for our funny girl). Happy pink pickling!

Pickled Eggs & Beets

Haitian Ginger Cake (Bonbon Siwo), Birthdays, and a Break

As many of you may have noticed, we at the Hungry Hounds took a long break over the holidays from posting. Of course, that didn't mean a pause in cooking and eating, just a pause in posts while we relaxed with family, enjoyed time with our kids, and caught back up on work. This week our Madeline turns two, and last month Gideon passed the six-month mark. Gideon is (finally) mostly sleeping through the night, and Madeline is getting more and more fascinating as her vocabulary grows and she is able to share what she's thinking. Last week when we mentioned her upcoming birthday she asked us if "Maybe...maybe...I can eat cake....that'd be DEEEELicious!" Well cake you shall have, Madeline! We will be making her this subtly sweet Haitian classic ginger cake, Bonbon Siwo. It is a warmly spiced Haitian gingerbread cake that is dark and dense with coconut milk and blackstrap molasses, and boldly flavored with fresh ginger, cloves and cinnamon.

Haitian Ginger Cake (Bonbon Siwo), Birthdays, and a Break

Crisp Thai Cucumber & Peanut Salad

A Caribbean flu hit our household in Haiti this week. First Paul, then me, now the kids. Sigh. During times of illness, my go-to comfort food is the reassuringly simple, cool, and refreshing cucumber. Cucumbers are my vegetable equivalent of chicken soup. As I gradually felt better throughout the week, my cucumber salads became more elaborate and flavorful. This Crisp Thai Cucumber & Peanut Salad, a Thai-inspired riff, is crunchy, sour,  and salty, with a hint of coconut sweetness.

Crisp Thai Cucumber & Peanut Salad

Pittsburgh Style Haluski

Just over a week ago, Hurricane Irma swept past Haiti; bringing heavy rains, wind, and flash flooding to many of the communities we work in. These have been busy days of travel, hearing the stories of survivors, seeing the damage first-hand, and responding with food and emergency supplies to families who lost everything. My final trip last week was to the small community of Goyave, high in the mountains overlooking the coastal city of St. Marc. Goyave is a farming community that had been devastated by Hurricane Matthew last year. I was there to join in the celebration of a successful harvest and the end of an MCC project to help these farmers rebuild their gardens and livelihoods. Each of the 200 families who participated in the project brought a symbol of their good harvest. Soon our outdoor meeting area was filled with piles of beautiful fresh produce: cabbages, militon squash, corn, beans, avocados, onions, leeks, sour oranges, bananas, plantains, passion fruit, pumpkins, bell peppers, hot peppers, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, and yams. As we finished our meeting, a community elder stood up to speak, he reiterated his thanks for the project that had helped the community rebuild, and added that we all must remember the Haitian proverb, "Men alemen vini, fe zanmi dire." This essentially translates as 'reciprocity is what makes for lasting friendships.' He advised that there were times when one needed to receive help, such as after a Hurricane, but that one must always work to give back. "It is bad for friendships if only one side gives," he said. So the community celebrated their rebuilding and their harvest by giving freely, to each other and to our group of visitors. It was humbling and beautiful to witness and receive this generosity. Arriving home late at night, dusty and tired, with a bag full of fresh cabbages and onions, I thought back to other celebrations and shared meals. I remembered many potlucks and meals with friends from our Pittsburgh days, and one of the region's classic comfort foods for shared celebrations -- Haluski. While there is much debate on whether Halsuki is authentically Polish (as is claimed by most Pittsburghers), there is little controversy about how simple it is to make, and delicious to eat. It is comfort food at its best: caramelized onions, cabbage, and kielbasa mixed with buttery egg noodles. A hearty and rustic crowd-pleaser, and a celebration of the season's bounty.

Pittsburgh Style Haluski

Henan Citrus Chicken Broth

Henan Citrus Chicken Broth is Paul's non-traditional adaptation of the famous aromatic Daokou chicken from Henan province, China, near the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. Already a deft broth maker, Paul has honed his technique and varied his flavor profiles during my pregnancy, in empathic response to my near-daily nausea. I love this broth's bold citrus aroma and flavor, subtle honey sweetness, and rich background spices. Its a great broth on its own (Paul's favorite), or with fresh steamed veggies and rice (the way I like it best). This recipe is adapted from Carolyn Phillips' wonderful new Chinese cookbook All Under Heaven.

Henan Citrus Chicken Broth

Asparagus with Fresh Herb Sauce Gribiche

Paul and I started dating 12 years ago, and quickly found that we had some pretty distinct food preferences. At the time, I professed to hate red meat, Paul loved it. I obsessed over salty briney flavors, which caused Paul to shudder. Time has made converts of us both. In fact, one of the first things I craved on a trip back to to North America from Haiti was a perfectly grilled steak. Paul's tastes have changed as well. Half a dozen years ago, when I first started making tangy sauce gribiche, I was on my own eating it. No longer. We like to make a big pile of asparagus and slather on this winning mustardy, eggy, French sauce gribiche. For the French cooking enthusiasts out there, I will note that this is my own, non-traditional version of the classic sauce gribiche.

Asparagus with Fresh Herb Sauce Gribiche

Spiced Moroccan Carrot Salad

When the winter chills set in, this colorful tangerine hued salad, with its bright splashes of pomegranate, feta, and cilantro is a full flavored pick you up. This is a long-standing recipe in our repertoire, with a captivating citrus and spice vinaigrette. 

Spiced Moroccan Carrot Salad

Thai Peanut Sauce Smoked Chicken Wings

Christmas in Indiana this year had as hankering for these Thai Peanut Smoked Chicken Wings. Given the challenges of finding both chicken wings and a smoker in Haiti, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to chow down on an old favorite while back in the US. This pungent Thai sauce is chock full of vibrant flavors, tangy lime, creamy peanut butter, garlic, and spicy jalapeno. For those without a home smoker, the recipe includes an easy adaptation for oven roasting.

Thai Peanut Sauce Smoked Chicken Wings