How to Make Burmese Coconut Noodle Soup

Coconut-Noodle-Soup_Ohn-Not-kaw-Swe

I’ve been thinking a lot about my recent trip to Myanmar lately. It might be that to a South American like me, this Buddhist nation seemed like a different planet. Or perhaps winter is coming and I’m just craving some soup. Whatever the case, I came back from Myanmar determined to make a dish I spent a significant amount of effort trying to learn: coconut noodle soup or, in Burmese, Ohn-Not-kaw-Swe. Continue reading

Frédérique’s Crepes with Ham, Mushrooms, Leeks, and Bechamel Sauce

It’s hard to dislike French food. And it’s even harder to dislike it when a French femme fatale makes it for you.

Frédérique, the French lady in question, likes to play hard to get. I’d been harassing her to teach me some good recipes for a while, but – like the good French woman she is – she was elusive. Mysterious, even. Eventually, my persistence paid off. A few weeks ago she taught me to make what she calls Crêpes au jambon de Paris – crepes with Parisian ham – which I now call, “the best way to seduce anyone.” Continue reading

Authentic Lomo Saltado – Peruvian Stir Fry

I hope you liked the quinoa soup I learned to make on my last trip to Cusco. Now we’re going back to Peru for another great recipe: Lomo Saltado – a stir-fry beef dish shared with me by Edilberto García, Executive Chef of Casa Andina in Puno.

Lomo Saltado is the quintessential Peruvian dish – a great example of the Chinese influence in the country’s rich culinary heritage. It’s cooked in a wok, it has soy sauce, oyster sauce, and it’s served over steamed white rice. Continue reading

Somali Yellow Rice and Braised Goat

When I worked as an interpreter, one of the best things about it was eating my coworkers’ food. That’s how I discovered many dishes from all over the world – and how I put on many unwanted pounds…but that’s a story for a different blog. This post is dedicated to one of my favorite people – Layla Guled – and her mouth-watering braised goat and yellow rice.

After asking Layla for the recipe and getting the all-too-common “I don’t have a recipe,” I asked her to let me watch her make it.

We met in my kitchen a couple of Fridays ago. It was 6 p.m. and we were just getting started. I knew it was going to be a late night. She brought some kebabs from Cheema’s for an appetizer and made Sambusas (which I will include in a future post). Because Layla is Muslim and doesn’t drink alcohol, I drank for the two of us. And because the goat took so long to cook, I was plastered by the time we sat down for dinner. Continue reading

Making Spanakopita by Heart

Christos Floros is 89, has a vegetable garden, a foul mouth, and makes great Greek food. He’s a man after my own heart. He lives down the street from me in an old house with a gated front yard, where, for the past few years, I’ve seen him tend to his vegetables, grapevines, apple tree, and flowers. The other day I asked him if he liked to cook, and he said, “are you kidding, I’ve owned four restaurants.”

“Will you teach me to make something Greek?” I asked.

“Yes. What do you like?”

“Spanakopita,” I said, resolutely.

“Come in then.”

“Now?”

“Yes, now.” He then paused and added, “but there’s one rule. You cannot write anything down. You must just use your brain to remember.”

I was a little taken aback by this rule; it seemed so random. But as our conversation over the next couple of hours would reveal, learning by watching and trusting yourself to be capable of excelling at anything has been the secret to Christos’s success. Continue reading