Friday, February 25, 2011

2011: A Foodie Odyssey part 5, Albania: Qofte te Ferguara

Here we are again!  Part 5 of 2011: Foodie Odyssey, Albania.  This will conclude our journey through the Middle East.  I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.  I love foreign foods and cooking if you have not noticed.  This has been a good opportunity to test myself in the kitchen and to educate myself on how food of the world is different, yet the same.

Albania has a long history and has been ruled by several nations at one time or another throughout that history.  Being as such it draws on influences of Greece, the Ottoman Turks, and the Roman Empire!  Lunch is the main meal in Albania and is often served with fresh veggies and or a healthy salad.  I found lots of interesting recipes but this one caught my eye.  Featuring lamb and fresh mint I had to try it out.  Again I was suckered in by lamb. 

The dish I chose to do is called Qofte te Ferguara, a fried meat ball or patty.  I found a version that was half pork and half lamb so I went that route. It also has feta cheese, onion, and MINT!  Interesting very interesting.  I'm a large fan of mint so it was a must try.  I have never had mint in a main dish before, let alone with meat.

I also made Tullumba, a fried pastry like doughnut with a lemon syrup.  It was a complete kitchen nightmare!  I wish I had taken pictures of the mess I made.  I'm still cleaning after several days, dough is every ware.  Then my dog Bella got into the trash and made a bigger mess and has dough matted all over her face!  I was not able to make the recipe as it was because of the odd measurement of "A  Glass" which I took to mean a cup, I was wrong.  I did save them and they were edible and quite delicious.  I will post the recipe for you in hopes someone may know what I did wrong and help me out.

Lets start with the Qofte te Ferguara,

Here's What You'll Need:
1/2 Pound of ground lamb
1/2 pound of ground pork
1 small onion grated
1 piece of stale bread or toast
2 tablespoons of feta cheese crumbles
2 tablespoons of bread crumbs
2 tablespoons of olive oil or melted butter
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
salt and black pepper to taste
mint to taste
oregano to taste
1 cup or so of flour
1 cup olive oil for frying

Start by soaking your toast or stale bread and squeezing it well to drain the excess water.  Add the toast, bread crumbs, onion, feta cheese, oil, mint, salt, pepper, and your mint to a mixing bowl. Speaking of mint look at the "Living Herbs" brand I found!  Now that is fresh!

Mix all your ingredients well and form into small meat balls or 1 inch thick patties.

Flour your patties or meat balls and fry!

That's it!  Another easy and absolutely scrumptious dish!  The mint was surprisingly mellow.  I would put more in the next time around, I held back because I was not sure how it would all come together.  This is a play on an American favorite is all I could think as I was cooking.  The flavor was mellow all the way around but had so many different levels.  One minute it's onion and cheese the BAM!  You get the mint, and lamb.  You could easily do all beef or a mixture of any ground meats if lamb is not your thing.

The Tullumba was good but as I said it was one heck of a mess for me!

Here's What You Need:

2 tablespoons melted butter
1 glass flour??? what the heck dose that mean?
3 tablespoons water
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 glass olive oil

for the syrup:

2 glasses sugar
1 1/3 glass water
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Syrup:  Put sugar in a sauce pan with water and lemon juice and let reduce till nice and thick.  Set aside and let cool.

Pastry:  Melt butter in another sauce pan, add water and salt and boil.  Reduce the heat and add all the flour and stir constantly until it pulls away from the edges and forms a ball. (It never did this for me) Set aside and let cool.  Add your eggs and knead into dough.  Place dough in a pastry bag and squeeze small portions into heated oil to fry golden brown.  Set aside and let oil drain.  Dip in syrup and chill.  Plate and serve!

They are quite good.  I bet it would be out of this world if executed right.  See even I struggle,  I just find it fun and challenging!

I made a basic mash potato to go with my Qofte te Ferguara.  The only reason I'm posting about them at all is because I discovered Blue Potatoes.  They are beautiful!  They taste great and are not used enough.  If you want to add some color to your meal I suggest you go give them a try!
Well that is it for this excursion on 2011: A Foodie Odyssey.  Switzerland was the winner for next week!  Be sure to cast your vote for the next country before you go!  Vote at the top of the page.  Thanx all! 

Love Food, Live Life!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jefe's Bar & Grill

I love Latin food.  Not just the standard Mexican we all have come to recognize and enjoy.  The fact is the Mexican food we know is very Americanized.  I was fortunate enough to take a trip to Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico when I was about 23.  My first roommate was from there, and asked me to tag along when he returned to get married.  The thing that stands out most in my mind about the trip is the food and hospitality.  The food was far removed from what I'm used to. 

The taco shells were never fried.  I never saw a taquito nor a burrito.  I did not eat chips and salsa with a single meal.  There were small taco and street food vendors everywhere, serving home cooked food from a hot cart.  I tried cow brains, goat, menudo, lingua (toungue), and an assortment of other animal parts I would never have thought to eat.  I was impressed with myself, this was Bizzare Foods

Getting to the point I was taken back to that time just last Saturday :)  I was invited to go out with some friends from work to "Latin Night" at a local restaurant called Jefe's Bar & Grill.  It was my first time there, and my first night out dancing in over a year.  Those who know me well know that I love to go out and dance and just have a good time.  For me to go a whole year was agonizing.  The people I work with in the front of the house don't like to go out and dance, we usually just end up at a local bar or Buffalo Wild Wings.  I was excited when I was invited.  Jefe's did not disappoint.  It was Latin music the whole night, I could not understand a word of the music, and the friends I was with have a limited English vocabulary.  But we all spoke the language of rhythm!  They tear down all the tables at 10:30 on Saturday nights and it becomes a small club.  Nothing fancy, just good music and friends enjoying a good time. 

After having such a good time I had to go back and try the food.  They serve Peruvian food as well as the standard Mexican fare.  Lunch is cheap and they have great lunch specials as well.  I did not notice any Peruvian food on the lunch menu, the dinner menu is where it's at!  I will have to go back and try dinner for sure.  For lunch I had the "Jefe's Plate" which was marinated beef (they offer chicken as well) red peppers, onions, and cheese.  Served with rice and beans this dish was delicious!  It was slightly spicy and the veggies were grilled to perfection.  The rice was cooked perfectly and the beans were not all dried out like I have come to expect.

My Aunt had a burrito that was at least a foot long!  It was not filled to the brim with fillers like rice and beans though they both made their appearance in the burrito.  My Mom had a combination enchilada and taco plate that did not disappoint.  The atmosphere is very relaxed and the food is delicious and a home cooked style.  I can't wait to go back for dinner, and you can be sure I will be posting an update when I do.  I really want to try some Peruvian food!

What is your favorite Latin dish?  Whats your favorite Latin restaurant?

Switzerland was the winner of this weeks 2011: A Foodie Odyssey!  Albania will be posted soon, I'm cooking right after this is posted!  Thanks to all those that voted!  The new poll will be up soon! So be sure to check back!

Love Food, Live Life!

Jefe's Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Baked Apricot Chicken!

On my last post I mentioned that I had been in the mood to cook with fruit.  I happened to stumble upon this recipe from All in my search.  It was way to good and simple to pass up.  It requires only 4 ingredients!  The bake time is an hour and prep is done in less than five minutes.  Doing the dishes was the hardest part of this one!

Here's What You'll Need:
1 14 oz. can apricot halves
1 11 oz. can apricot nectar
1 pack dried onion soup mix
8 chicken thighs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Add your nectar and onion soup mix to a mixing bowl and whisk.

Place chicken in a baking dish and pour mix over the chicken.  Place in oven and bake for 55 minutes.

Remove chicken and top with apricot halves.  Replace in oven and bake for 5 more minutes.

Remove from oven and you are done!

This was so gooooood!  The apricot and chicken combination work well together.  I was doubtful that the onion soup would work but it did.  It added a layer of flavor that brought the dish to the next level.  It would be good without it, but I think it would be rather bland.  This is definitely worth a go if you are looking for an easy recipe to try. 

 This would also be a great opportunity to get the kids in the kitchen.  With no knives or open flames it would be a good start.  Remember we are grooming the next generation of foodies!  This healthy dinner with a fruit twist is a great way to show them healthy can be delicious!

I also have a question.  How do you feel about the videos?  Would you like to see more?

I want to say thanks to all my readers!  I appreciate you dropping in and leaving awesome comments!  I also want to thank those of you that vote every week for 2011: A Foodie Odyssey.  It has been a lot of fun!  Keep dropping by, and don't be afraid to say hello!

Love Food, Live Life!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Andoullie Chicken with Red Pear & Red Peppers over Fettuccinie with a White Wine Sauce

Spring is coming!  Thetemperature here in North Texas is warming up, it's been  80 degrees the last couple days!  Being so I was inspired to cook with some fruit.  I recently tried a Pear and Gorgonzola Ravioli that was amazing!  I liked it so much that I had to find a recipe featuring pear.  I did a little snooping around and found one that sounded interesting and delicious not to mention simple!

USA has a wide selection of recipes from beverage, deserts, mains and everything between.  I chose to do this one because it just sounded good to me.  I liked the idea of a chicken sausage, and as I mentioned before it looked and was simple to prepare.

Here's What You'll Need:

12 ounces of pasta (any type will do!)
1 pound of Andoullie Chicken
1 tablespoon of  olive oil
1 1/2 cups white wine
1 cup red peppers thinly sliced
1 red pear cored and cut into matchstick slices
Parmesan cheese to taste

Get your water heating to a boil. As your water is warming, par boil your sausage, it will be easier to slice into pices. In a large saute pan cook sausage until nice and brown over medium heat. Be sure your sausage is cooked thoroughly! Remove sausage and set aside.
  In the same pan cook your peppers until slightly tender then add your pear.  Heat all the way through but do not over cook, the pear will fall apart if you do.  Remove peppers and pears and set aside with sausage.  Pour your wine into the pan and scrape the drippings from the bottom.  Reduce wine to about half volume and add your sausage, peppers, and pear.  Simmer for a short time and stir to coat your sausage mix.  Your pasta should be done or close to it by this time. 

 That's it!  Plate some pasta and top with your sausage mix, spoon some sauce over it and finish off with the Parmesan cheese.

There are several layers of flavor to this dish.  The peppers complement the pear wonderfully, and the spice of the Andoullie was brought down by all the other ingredients.  It is still one spicy dish though!  I loved it and will be making it again for sure!

Whats your favorite pasta dish?

Don't forget to vote on the next country for 2011: A Foodie Odyssey at the top of the page!

Also I feel the need to share this info with bloggers who use Twitter.  You need to check out  You can shorten your url like so:
This,  becomes this,  and gives you more room to share your thoughts!  Happy blogging!

Love Food, Live Life

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2011: A Foodie Odyssey part 4, Syria: Imnesila

Syria was the winner of last weeks 2011: A Foodie Odyssey!  I was excited as I have never eaten a dish from Syria.  Have you?  What was it?  Share with us by leaving a comment at the bottom of the page!

Come to find out Syrian cuisine is influenced by it's Greek and Asian neighbors, as well as French occupation.  Not to say there is no middle eastern influence.  Gaining independence from France in 1946, Syria has since been a major player in the middle east.  Well I'm here to learn about and share some food from a country known more for it's politics.

Typically a meal is served with an assortment of appetizers called Meze.  Syria is also known for Shawarma, Humus, and their cheese.  I chose to make Imnesila, an eggplant and lamb dish.  The best way to describe this meal off the top of my head is, "It's like eggplant parmesan without the breading, and a lamb meat sauce!"  Of course if you know me I was sold.  I love lamb and am always looking for new recipes that I can try that require it.  I was not to sure about the eggplant, I have only had it the parmesan way.

I am glad that I took a leap of faith!  This dish was very easy to prepare and was very simple to execute.  The flavor was off the charts, and there is so much you could do to add your own flavor.  The pine nuts are an awesome flavor and add great texture.  Beef would work just as well as the lamb, or you could even go vegetarian if you like!  The time it takes to cook is just about the most difficult thing about this dish, it could take about an hour if you take your time.   I must also warn you that eggplant has a high absorption rate, do not use to much oil or you will regret it for sure.

Here is What You'll Need:

1 large eggplant
3/4 pounds of ground lamb
1 medium onion diced
1 can tomato paste
olive oil
pine nuts
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Brown your lamb, pine nuts, and onion, adding all the ingredients at the same time.  Be sure to continually stir as the lamb is much more sticky than beef.  You will have large meat balls if you get lazy here!  Add sea salt and black pepper to taste as you cook.

 Dilute your tomato paste with water and mix well.  This is where I took some liberty to add some ingredients of my own.  I added minced garlic and a touch of salt. 

Next you need to peel the eggplant, you can slice it how you like. I opted to go lengthwise as suggested. To tell you the truth that part of the recipe confused me. It calls for you to slice the portioned eggplant pieces on the top. Then you fry them, careful on the amount of oil! I figured that the eggplant would open up allowing me to stuff it, that was not the case.

    I just layered the meat mixture on top of the eggplant and topped with the tomato sauce.  Bake for a half hour and serve. I hope you give this one a go!  If you have been wanting to try something new and not difficult to prepare this would be a good one to consider.  Put your own spin on it and have fun, love food, and live life!  If you do I would love to hear about it!

It is suggested to serve over rice. I can not cook rice! It is the kryptonite to my culinary existence. I have tried and tried but always find a way to mess it up. So I use boil in a bag rice! Now even I can cook rice!

Albania is the winner of country of the week!  I will be making a main and a desert so be sure to check back in!  Don't forget to vote for next week on the poll at the top of this page! 

What's your culinary kryptonite?  We all have one!

Love Food, Live Life!