The Foodie Report
Ruminations on food, cooking in and eating out in our area.

It's entirely possible to be a vegetarian in Porkopolis. Pop culture reporter Lauren Bishop blogs about products, recipes and restaurants she's tried for others who eat meat-free. E-mail her at lbishop@enquirer.com.

Nicci King is an unabashed foodie and the Lifestyle/Food editor in The Enquirer's features department. She loves to discover new food faves, and she's on a daily quest to answer one burning question: What's for dinner? E-mail her at nking@enquirer.com.

Enquirer Weekend editor Julie Gaw tends to order the same dish every time she eats at a restaurant, but periodically ventures out to discover something new and fabulous. After living in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand for more than 8 years, she craves tasty Asian food. E-mail her at jgaw@enquirer.com.

Food/dining writer Polly Campbell loves every quirk and secret of Cincinnati's food personality, and is on a constant lookout for something good to eat. Keep an eye out for her restaurant picks, or see how she's progressing toward becoming famous for her apple pie. E-mail her at pcampbell@enquirer.com.

Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Global (re)treats

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of being in a room full of people in which at least 10 countries were represented when I attended a dinner hosted by the Global Center of Greater Cincinnati YPs. I only recently became involved with the group after learning about it from the director, Julie Arostegui. So this was a great way to meet some of the members. It was an evening of enlightenment as the YPs gathered to meet a very interesting group of international visitors who are visiting the United States to study ways to combat human trafficking. It was amazing to have the chance to discuss the matter in the presence of such a wonderful mix of people. Gareth L. Howell, president and CEO of the group, opened up his lovely home to all of us for the dinner. The cozy setting made discussion and milling about effortless. The countries that were represented included Albania, Germany, Jamaica, Kosovo, Madagascar, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Wales, Yemen and, of course, the States.

In addition to the sharing of global ideas, it was a potluck so we were able to enjoy cuisine from all over the world, too. One YP brought a taste of the American South with a big dish of Shrimp and Grits. Another made a timely (it was St. Patrick's day, for those of you who didn't spend Sunday testing hangover remedies) dish of Beef and Irish Stout Stew. We also got to sample a heavenly and hellaciously spicy pot of Chicken Biryani that another YP made. I made sambusas, an Ethiopian appetizer (see recipe in comment section). They are very similar to Pakistani samosas, Jamaican meat patties, Puerto Rican meat pies, etc...
And that's just scratching the surface of all the cultures/cuisines that were represented that evening. When I left, I wasn't just full of tasty food... I was inspired and brimming with creative energy. It was a great reminder that the world really is small. After all.


at 5:18 PM Blogger Nicci King said...

Ethiopian Sambusas (note for vegetarian version below)
1 pound ground turkey (you won't have to drain it, but you will if you use beef)
1½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons curry powder
1½ tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground red pepper
2 large onions, chopped or thinly sliced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small red chile, minced

2½ cups unbleached flour
1 tablespoon salt
2½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup very cold water
Vegetable oil for frying (or you can bake them)

Place meat in a large pan, cook meat until browned, stirring to break up meat into small pieces. Add water if meat starts to dry out and to help meat break down. Transfer to a strainer and drain off any excess fat. Set aside. In small bowl, combine ginger, curry powder, salt, cloves, coriander, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne and add to meat mixture. Set aside. Add onions, chile and garlic to pan in which meat was cooked. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Add meat with seasonings, reduce heat slightly and cook, stirring, 5 to 8 minutes. Again, add a few tablespoons of water if the mixture becomes dry during cooking. Remove from heat, cover and let it cool.

Prepare your pastry: Add a small amount of water if dough is too dry. Knead dough on lightly floured surface until it is smooth. Put in bowl and cover dough until ready to use, so it won't dry out. *Cheat alert: You could use refrigerated pie crust (pretty close to the real deal) or puff pastry (nothing like the real deal, but still tasty).

Remove small pieces of dough to work with. Roll each ball out into a circle that is 6 to 7 inches across and about 1/16-inch thick. Take a knife and gently cut the circle into four even pieces. Fill each piece with about a tablespoon or two of the meat filling. If you overfill, they will open up in the hot oil and you might have to eat the rejects yourself. Or so I hear...

So be sure the dough is sealed well so the filling doesn't come out while cooking. Repeat until all the dough and filling are used up. Put 2-3 inches of oil in a cast iron skillet or your frying apparatus of choice. Heat oil to about 350. Add sambusas, a few at a time, and fry until golden brown, turning once, and being careful not to overcook them. They should be a medium golden brown and rather puffy. Remove with slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain. Cool slightly. You can serve them right away or, if you have will power, freeze them.

Makes 24 or so, depending on how large, small you make them.

Note: I also made a vegetarian version using boiled Yukon Gold potatoes and green peas. To make them, saute the onions until translucent, then add garlic. When the garlic is fragrant (don't let it burn), add the peas. If frozen, cook for a few minutes to let them heat through. Add about 3 lbs. of boiled, diced potatoes and use the same seasoning you would for the meat version. But I tend to use a bit more salt and cumin in the veggie recipe to get some good flavor in the potatoes. And I use a green chile instead of red in this version.

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