It’s the season of warm meals shared with friends and family, lively conversations, and hearty mains. For us, it is also a time for saying goodbye. We’ve put together a collection of 9 of our most frequently requested international main dishes to inspire your fall cooking.
Berbere Spiced Chicken, Doro Wat
Berbere Spiced Chicken evokes memories of Ethiopia, the place where Paul and I first became friends. During our time in Addis, I got sick and Paul was appointed my hospital companion. I found a kindred spirit and we spent the rest of our time in Ethiopia together at every opportunity. A few months later, back home again, our relationship evolved into something more. The nuanced spice of berbere is a shared food memory; the start of a relationship, excitement of plans, passionate discussions, and the flash of recognition at finding a life partner.
Berbere is a distinctive spice mixture from Ethiopia -- fiery hot balanced with pungent garlic and warming spices. Many households prepare their own berbere mixture, and tarps laid out with drying chilies and spices were a common sight and smell in Ethiopia. Berbere Spiced Chicken is our greatly simplified and adapted version of the classic Ethiopian Doro Wat. Once you hunt down some berbere seasoning at your local spice store or online, this dish can be made in an hour and half with everyday ingredients.
A few years ago we traveled to India. India is the place where Paul’s brother and sister-in-law met, and where Paul’s brother lived and worked for a number of years. It is a vibrant country with a huge diversity of cuisine. We learned early on in our travels, how hard it is to recreate dishes in our home kitchen without some hands-on experience of the regional cooking techniques and ingredients. Having struggled to master Indian cooking at home, we signed up for a cooking class in each region we visited, and Goan Vindaloo was at the top of our list.
Pork Vindaloo is a spicy, garlic and vinegar seasoned pork dish that comes from the South Indian state of Goa, known for its unique blend of Portuguese and Indian cuisine. Vindaloo’ s name comes from the Portuguese words ‘vinho,’ wine (vinegar) and ‘alhos,’ garlic. Introduced to Goa by Portuguese colonists, Vindaloo evolved with the addition of Indian spices and seasonings. Vindaloo is a uniquely pungent stew with a strong punch of garlic, vinegar and mustard, mellowed by rich coconut milk. Madhur Jaffey, an award winning Indian cooking authority, is a wonderful resource if you are looking to make Indian food at home, and our recipe for Pork Vindaloo follows in her style of simplified Indian cooking.
Flemish Beer Braised Beef & Onions, Carbonnade de Boeuf
In Pittsburgh we are beginning to see the first glimpses of spring. As I write, rain and fog are rolling over the city -- an oddly welcome change after months of snow and ice. With Saint Patrick's Day festivities this weekend, we thought it appropriate to celebrate the coming end to winter with our streamlined take on the rich and unctuous Flemish Beer Braised Beef & Onions, Carbonnade de Boeuf. This dish uses beer for 100% of the braising liquid, so pick one you really like. I used my homebrewed brown ale, which has a rich toastiness and mild bitterness. Be careful using a bitter or hoppy beer, since the cooking will concentrate these flavors considerably. While this dish takes some planning ahead (around 4 hours start to finish), it is straightforward to make and works every time. Your house will be filled with the enticing aromas of caramelized onions, braising meat, and simmering beer.
Best of 2015
Looking back, 2015 has been a pivotal year for us, we've changed jobs, careers, houses, countries, and in just a few weeks, our two will become three. Throughout all these transitions, food has played an important role, from eagerly trying our hand at Haitian recipes in anticipation of our move, to the sometimes bizarre pendulum swing of my pregnancy cravings, to meals shared with family and friends, celebrating holidays and saying goodbye. We have loved watching our readership grow, and receiving your many emails, recipe pictures, comments and support through these many life changes, thank you.
To start off the New Year, we wanted to share our readers' favorite recipes from 2015 (click directly on the images above or recipe titles below):
Cuban Shredded Beef, Ropa Vieja
A pastel-hued Cuban diner in Philadelphia was the site of my last fragrant bowl of Ropa Vieja, and I have been plotting to recreate this succulent dish ever since. For me, nothing compares to a slow braised, big flavored, meat dish swimming in a pungent, aromatic sauce. This is my protein paradise!