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Orphan Dinner

Defined as a dinner party or a holiday get together with friends who have no family to spend the holidays with. Usually a potluck event. The phrase resonated with me, it’s a big part of the ex-pat experience. Most of us don’t have family here but most of us have made friends. We’re bonded by similar interests, world views or simply by sharing a common language. Some people do fly “home” for the holidays, but most don’t. It gets expensive and sometimes it’s physically challenging. I haven’t spent Thanksgiving with my family in three years. It’s always been one of my favorite holidays, sharing first place with Halloween, Independence Day (July 4th) comes in third. I like Christmas and Easter for the family dinners and the decorations but they aren’t big on my list. Any holiday that has mandatory gift giving stresses me out, I like receiving presents, I like giving them but as an expression of love and affection ...

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son in law eggs

Yesterday, we has vegetarian pad Thai for lunch. Not that we needed the carbs or anything. It is quick however and has the virtue of calling for bean sprouts as an ingredient. There were a whole lot of bean sprouts in the refrigerator so I have been finding recipes to use them up. Later that evening, I prepared son-in-law eggs. The recipe is pretty simple. Take hard cooked eggs, cut them in half. Deep fry them face down until golden and bubbly. Drain face up while you make a sauce from 2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup fish sauce. I used grated piñoncillo, you heat the oil, melt the sugar in the oil (stir it so it doesn’t burn) and then add the fish sauce. Simmer until thick and smooth. Cover the eggs with the sauce, garnish with crisp fried onion flakes, chile slivers and cilantro. Husband liked them, me not so much, but they do ...

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Albóndigas de Tailandia

Husband’s birthday is in May. I have been racking my brain for gift ideas. Today, I hit on one. I am cooking Thai food every day for him this month.It’s his favorite cuisine. Starting today, I am making at least one Thai dish every day this month. I did warn Husband that I wasn’t promising a full Thai meal every day but I would do my best.  Which is why I made Panaeng Neua for lunch today. The recipe name translates into beef balls but it’s really meatballs in a peanut sauce not anything really exotic.I am calling them Albóndigas estilo Tailandia because it still sounds exotic but I know how to pronounce it.It was really tasty, easy to make (I already had coconut milk in the refrigerator) and quick to cook, what more can you ask for. Husband felt that they would be great appetizers if made a bit smaller, I agree.Lunch today was quinoa pilaf, steamed oriental vegetables ...

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Dipping sauce for Spring rolls

Dipping sauce for spring rolls ¼ cup soy sauce ½ cup water 1 tbsp corn starch ¼ cup rice vinegar 2 cloves garlic, minced and crushed ½ inch fresh ginger root, grated ¼ cup sugar Combine all ingredients in small saucepan and simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring, until sugar dissolves and corn starch is well mixed. Cool before serving.

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Spring rolls

Fresh Spring rolls 12 Vietnamese Spring roll wrappers 9 inch (if you use 6 inch makes then you will need more rolls) quarter of a cabbage shredded (I used all red, but you can use a mix of both or just green cabbage) 5 green onions, chopped 1 cup thin noodles, pre-cooked bean thread noodles* 1 cup fresh herbs (I used Italian parsley and Thai basil you can use cilantro,basil or mint too) 2 small carrots, grated 1 tbsp lime juice 1 tbsp soy sauce 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated Toss together all ingredients together except wrappers in large bowl. Submerge wrappers in hot water until pliable, about 15 seconds. Place about 1/4 of mix on wrapper and wrap like a burrito or egg roll. Refrigerate until cold. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce *to precook rice noodles (also called rice vermicelli),Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Boil rice vermicelli 3 to 5 minutes, or until al dente, ...

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Steamed chinese buns

I had a can of red bean paste in my pantry getting old so I made steamed buns filled with red bean paste last week. Today I was reading the back posts on Rachel’s incredible food blog called Coconut and Lime and I found a recipe for red bean buns. Since I’m lazy, I’m going to just link to her recipe.I have two recipes for steamed buns, one with yeast like Rachel’s and another one made with baking powder. I like them both equally well.

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Please pass the ear.

The other day, Husband and I met some friends at Las Ruinas which is a bar familar within walking distance of our house. When we arrived the table was stacked with all sorts of little dishes of food. Botanas or snacks. As long as you are drinking, the food keeps coming. The variety is amazing, there was pig’s ear in adobo, chunks of liver, bulgar wheat, calabasa (a small green pumpkin similar to the a patty pan) in tomato sauce, elbow macaroni in tomato sauce, guacamole, ceviche, thick corn chips, ceviche and I don’t remember what else. The elbow macaroni which was cooked in the sauce,sopa seca style was tasteless, the rest of the food was good. The pig’s ear was spicy, and chewy, I tasted it, decided it was too picante, and then found myself eating more. Spicy food is like that, I think chiles are addicting. The guacamole was excellant and the liver was pretty good too. I ...

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Caponata-Cold Eggplant Appetizer

This recipe comes from The International Appetizer Cookbook by Sonia Uvezian 2 small eggplants (about 3/4 pounds each) berenjena5 tablespoons olive oil aceite olivo1 cup finely chopped celery apio1/2 cup finely chopped onion cebolla1/4 cup red wine vinegar 1 tablespoon sugar1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped1 tablespoon tomato paste *3 tablespoons coarsely chopped green olives aceituna1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained alcaparras2 flat anchovy fillets, rinsed and mashed to a smooth paste**Freshly ground pepper to taste1 1/2 tablespoons pine nuts piñon Remove the stems and green tops from the eggplants but do not peel them. Cut the eggplants into 1/2 inch cubes. Sprinkle the cubes generously with salt and place them in a colander to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse under cold running water and dry with paper towels. Set aside. In a large, heavy skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the the oil over moderate heat. Add the celery and onion and sauté, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes or ...

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Carimañolas (stuffed yucca fritters)

This a dish we ate in Panamà which I couldn’t remember the name of. This recipe is also from Cocina Panameña. I changed the recipe a little for clarity (the filling instructions used to be in the middle of the fritter instuctions) but the original was translated into English from Spanish so some of the wording is still awkward. Please read the notes before you make this for the first time. 3 pounds yucca 3 teaspoons* oil (aceite) 1 tablespoon salt (sal) oil for deep frying Peel yucca, cut into pieces and cook in water until slightly soft. Do not over cook. Grind while warm and knead with oil and salt until the batter is soft but firm. Form balls with the yucca, flatten it, add one tablespoon of the filling and close it, giving it an elongated form (cylinder shape). Heat the oil and fry the fritters until brown. Remove from oil and drain excess oil by placing them ...

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