Returning back home after a couple of days of meandering the Great Ocean Road, or GOR, as it is commonly referred to, I am excited to deliver my first hosting roundup of Weekend Herb Blogging. Funnily enough, GOR is also an acronym for gastro-oesophageal reflux, which had obviously struck a few families on the way, judging by the number of cars pulled in to the side and children bent over in the "I'm gonna throw up" position. And just like the GOR, with its never ending twists, corners, climbs and descents, the entries for this week are an indication of the versatile cooking cultures we are all part of. With every submission that dropped into my mailbox I was again driving around a hairpin bend and discovering something new and exciting with each sharp turn.
Even Kev the Koala, would gladly give up his daily intake of intoxicating eucalypt leaves for all of these dishes.
So let’s get this show on the road.
Maria, from Organically Cooked, hails from the beautiful island of Crete, and she has used a Greek celery named σέλινο (pronounced 'selino' for the non-Greek speaking populous) and combined it with succulent pork. Selino is darker (and apparently smellier whilst cooking) than the lighter celery familiar to most of us. I especially like the addition of avgolemono sauce to her Pork and Celery if so desired.
Next stop, Zurich Switzerland, where Chriesi from Almond Corner presents an interesting ravioli made from very rare and hard to find Red Danube walnuts. The “nutty” ravioli is stuffed with goats cheese and celery, finished with a burnt butter drizzle and parmesan. I think I could go nuts over this one myself.
From nuts to crackers, we turn the corner and head to New York where Rachel The Crispy Cook presents gluten free sesame rosemary crackers. Even the non-Coeliac members of her family gobble these tasty snacks up at a “cracking” pace. With the combination of sorghum flour, sesame seeds and flax seeds, these are a really healthy snack to have with hummus. Who says a GF diet has to be boring? Not in Rachel’s house, who BTW is next weeks hostess of WHB.
Next pitstop is Manila (Phillipines), where Ning from Heart and Hearth serves up a very fruity contribution in the form of Fruit Cake Bars. After the rich and heavy fruit cakes offered around Christmas time, this lighter version is a much welcomed reprieve. Ning uses 5 cups of dried fruits in this recipe, including mango and dried jackfruits, a tropical specialty of the Phillipines.
Anna from Morsels and Musings takes us to sweltering Sydney (Australia) for a quiet slurp on a slushie. With temperatures reaching into the 100’s, Anna finds cool relief with a Kiwifruit and Lemon Grass slushie. Find out more about the Kiwifruit origins on Anna’s blog. I personally would prefer the adult version of this drink as well.
From the scorching heat of Sydney, we’re off to Alaska, where the weather is decidedly cooler. Laurie, from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska, has adapted the traditional Greek Mousaka into a Leek Mousaka, using her own meat sauce recipe, leeks and a few variations of the original recipe which inspired her to make this dish. Laurie also provides great tips on crediting recipe sources, which every food blogger should read.
Continuing our journey about 3500 miles east of Alaska, Cheryl, from Gluten Free Goodness resides in Alexandria, VA and submits an Asian Style Gingery Soup, with the addition of lettuce in the last cooking stages. We all know that ginger is a tonic food, and this soup would surely pep anyone up who needs a boost of some sort. And it’s gluten free.
Back to the Southern Hemisphere, and Haalo at Cook Almost Anything at Least Once, the new organiser of this event, has dug into her Périgord truffle stash, left over from Christmas, and made a beautiful truffle butter, preserving the last remains of this exotic ingredient just a bit longer. I can only imagine what this would taste like melted over a rib eye steak. Hopefully truffle growing in Australia will boom in years to come, and I might then be able to afford a sliver of one!
Two of my all time favourite foods are figs and chorizo, and Genie of The Inadvertent Gardner, hailing from Oakland CA, has combined them to make tasty tapas using dried figs. I think this dish would blow the concept of tapas out the window, because a “small dish” of this wouldn’t be enough. I’m waiting patiently for a good load of fresh figs to come into season in the next week or two, and this tapas is definitely going to be on the agenda.
Scott, from Real Epicurian, North Lincolnshire, (London) has decided that after all of the Silly Season indulgences, it’s time to detoxify and what better way to do this than tucking into a bowl of healthy pasta laced with broccoli, cauliflower and garlic. And why not throw in a chilli or two for exhilaration. Simplicity at its best.
On with the journey to the beautiful Garda Lake region of Valsorda (Italy) and Brii from Briiblog has made an architectural wonder of vege buns. Yeasted bread rolls filled with an assortment of chopped vegetables. What a great idea this is – a healthy meal in a bun. It seems a pity that her work of art will be demolished at break neck speeds.
While we’re in the neighbourhood, we pay a visit to Cinzia, from Cindystar, who hails from Bardolino, Lake of Garda, (Italy). Cinzia has made a Quick Fricassea, which she quotes “is a popular Italian dish made of stewed meat (usually veal or chicken) and potatoes, savoured at the end with a soft cream made of beaten eggs and lemon juice cooked just a few minutes to thicken”. The addition of fenugreek and lime juice take this dish to new heights. (Cinzia’s post is in Italian, but she has a language translator link on her page.)
Back to the US, and into Kalyn’s Kitchen, whom we are all familiar with, as Weekend Herb Blogging was born in that very kitchen. Kalyn’s thick and hearty Cannellini Bean and Sausage Stew with tomatoes and basil would definitely satisfy even the fussiest eater when the temperatures outside are hovering around the freezing mark. Kalyn freezes her abundance of summer basil for occasions such as this and adds this toward the end of cooking time.
Finally returning home and into the Backyard, my contribution is a Moroccan Fruit Salad. Fresh fruits of the season swathed in a Moroccan style syrup, finished with torn mint leaves. Just what I needed after the exciting adventure of visiting new and interesting parts of the world, learning about new and unusual ingredients and food cultures. Thanks Haalo for giving me the opportunity to host this fun event.