Is it too late to wish everyone a Happy New Year? Hopefully not. As we move tip toe towards the midpoint of January, it’s still crazy to think that the year 2013 is actually here. You’ve probably made some resolutions, changes, promises, goals, whatever you choose to call them. The title is inconsequential, but the meaning is the same. It’s the time of year when you may be feeling antsy for what lies ahead, and that internal energy can be quite the ember to start a fire! Much success with your plans. Feel free to share them with us. We hope you enjoyed the holidays with your friends and family, and thanks for stopping in as we finally start off this New Year with a new recipe. If you’re thinking it’s about time, well, you don’t have to wait any longer.
Some serendipity was involved with this month’s Ethnic Exploration. As Chrystal and I were planning out our EEs for the rest of the year, we were tapped by someone on Twitter out of the blue. A man named Tim, the founder and owner of White Lion Imports, hit us up to see if we’d be interested in trying out a Sri Lankan spirit he just started distributing in the U.S. It’s no secret that the Duo loves a libation. Always down to try something new, we decided to give it a go. As the three of us chatted further, though, it became clear that we should collaborate on a culinary exploration of Sri Lankan cuisine. For the first time, we’d have an expert at our disposal, serving as a direct liaison into this new food world on which we were about to embark. Off we go!
Everyone. Meet Ralphie. Ralphie. Meet everyone! He is a wonderful friend who turns up to most of our meal gatherings, and he never arrives empty handed. Whether it’s a tower of roasted brussels sprouts and grapes, or a peach and blueberry upside down cake (always casually thrown together by the way), Ralphie makes every entrance with a beautifully decorated platter of something amazing in hand. It was just a matter of time until it was his turn to share in our monthly Guest Test Kitchen section. We hope you enjoy this edition. We know you’re gonna love him as much as we do!
It is perfectly chilly here in Los Angeles. But we are wimps about it. We are wimps about weather in general. During the summer, we’ll tell you it’s blazing hot, the air is dry, and we can barely go outside. Let the first and only drops of spring rain hit the ground, and we turn into maniac drivers and complain about getting wet. Come fall, the cool breeze that forces us into wearing a light jacket is rather upsetting. And don’t get started on winter. Once the temperatures reach the 40s at night, you’ll hear our teeth chattering, and folks are wrapped snug as bugs in a rug when it’s time to go to bed. We are weather wimps, and it’s time everyone admitted it. One of the best ways to stay warm right about now is with soup. Soup is healthy, comforting, nutritious and, well, it’s warming. Especially if you make it spicy.
There’s something about canning that has an air of nostalgia to it. Perhaps your grandparents were the ones who first introduced you to this idea. Or, your parents perhaps. Neither one of us comes from a family of canners, but we do have interest. It’s the perfect way to preserve seasonal freshness of fruits or vegetables when they are at their peak. Almost anything can be canned–tomatoes, beans, peaches, rinds and seeds. It’s an easy, inexpensive way to have food at the tips of your fingers when their season for availability may be far off. Sometimes, though, you just can to can. Not because you necessarily want summer corn in the dead of winter, but just because you want something to break through the boredom of a slow Saturday afternoon. Unequipped with tongs and mason jars, you can still pull off a means of veggie preservation. You can always find a way around an obstacle.
Every time we cook, we’re always looking for simple ways to kick the flavor up a notch or two. Using the freshest ingredients, citrus zest, and a variety of herbs have always been our go-to methods to enhance the taste profiles of our food. Plus, we both love spice! A few dashes of red pepper–in its many forms–to turn up the heat does just the trick when it comes to heightening flavor. Lately, we’ve been into infusions. Almost all of our homemade cocktails and even some tasty treats have some kind of flavored simple syrup in them to add a little jazz. As you probably know already, making these infusions is super easy—as easy as making a cup of tea. So we thought, why not go the savory route and tweak the average olive oil? Let the experimentation begin.
We put a call out on Facebook first for ideas for this month’s cuisine, and there were several excellent suggestions. We didn’t pick any of them this time. You’re probably wondering what the point of asking is if we didn’t follow through. Well, the good thing is that your ideas got our brains going, and we bounced all the way through the list and meandered through our own. Finally, we came down to two–Cuban or El Salvadoran. After a quick Twitter survey, we finally decided to try a few dishes from the smallest Central American country–El Salvador. Having absolutely no previous experiences with a single food from the region, we at least knew that we would stumble upon something quite interesting.
Many of you noticed the architectural wonder that was part of our May Guest Test Kitchen. The dish was an ode to the flavors of the Caribbean. Although the meal was created in a town in North Carolina, everyone who looked at the photo seemed to have a virtual taste on their tongue of the coconut, lime and spice that sat on the plate. Cooking can indeed take you places, and you don’t have to go any farther than your local market if you’re ready for the trip. Nothing can beat a real flight out of town and into a new world, but sometimes you have to take what you can get. Well, it’s time for another trip to the Caribbean, and this time, we will be your tour guides.
Right in the heart of LA, there’s a small strip of Ethiopian eateries lined up to each other for several blocks. It was just a matter of time until this little neighborhood, appropriately called “Little Ethiopia,” was on our radar for one of our monthly Ethnic Explorations. We decided this was the month to venture into the African cuisine. Immediately, Merkato Ethiopian Restaurant and Market stood out among the many options in the area for its quaint market and gift shop filled with goodies.
We’ve done a lot of chicken recipes on this site, especially wings. What can we say? It’s not just Hooters who can make good wings! There’s something about the fun in flavors. There was Sunny Anderson’s Caribbean Chicken Wings, Honey Balsamic Chicken Wings and traditional Hot Wings. Now, here is a version that combines several Asian flavors to create a sweet, slightly spicy and sticky sauce that may have you rudely licking your fingers. You can go to a spot that has a night dedicated to cheap wings and beer, but if you can do it at home, save yourself the trouble. It’s worth it!