Recipes from the Road

Food from Kitchens around the World

Recipes collected and inspired from different corners of the world. Cooking is not just about sustenance – it is a journey and an art. Every corner of the globe has its own cuisine, reflecting the local produce sold at the many street and farmers markets. From biggest cities to the smallest villages, they are full of tastes, smells and colours. Once you become comfortable in the kitchen and with the ingredients you pick up, you can give you creativity a free run and make a cuisine of your own.


Recipe of the Day

Back to Greece – today’s recipe is:

Kotopoulo Stifatho

Stifatho is Greece’s comfort food. It is a thick stew usually made with beef or lamb in a flavoursome tomato sauce with whole baby onions. The original stifatho was made with rabbit but it can also be made chicken. This stifatho is made with chicken thighs, marinaded beforehand in white wine, with a cinnamon stick and orange peel and herbs. Serves four

Ingredients:
6 chicken thighs with bone
1 cup white wine
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
2 orange peels
2 bay leaves
1 tblsp dry oregano
12-16 baby or pearl onions, or shallots, peeled
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tblsp flour
1 400g can crushed tomatoes
2 tblsp balsamic vinegar
2 tblsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp sugar
4 cloves garlic, finely grated
1 tsp fresh oregano
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1 tblsp flatleaf parsley, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Utensils: Bowl with cover; ovenproof shallow dish; stirring spoon; can opener; casserole with lid.
Time: 45 minutes

Preparation:

  1. Place chicken with cinnamon stick, orange peel, garlic, bay leaves, oregano and seasoning in a bowl with the wine or vermouth. Cover and marinade for 4 hours or overnight in the fridge.
  2. Heat oven to high 220°C. Place onions in ovenproof dish, drizzle half theolive oil on top, season with a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper and place in oven for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove chicken from marinade and dab dry with paper towels. Heat the remaining oil in the casserole over high heat, turn chicken thighs in flour and fry until browned on each side, remove and set aside. Deglaze casserole by straining in marinade liquid and reduce by half.
  4. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and garlic to casserole with balsamic vinegar, herbs and sugar. Lower heat to medium and simmer until thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes.
  5. Replace chicken in casserole, lower heat to a slow simmer and season well. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove onions from oven and add carefully to casserole with parsley and taste for seasoning. Simmer for another 15 minutes.
  7. Serve in bowls on top of riso pasta.

Gigantes Plaki

Giant beans in English – or simply: butter beans in tomato sauce. A firend recommendes this dish, which I missed while in Greece. But I now prepare it often at home because it’s easy, healthy and tasty. I find Ardmona Rich & Thick Onion & Garlic Diced Tomatoes with Paste particularly well suited for this dish.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup extra virgin oilive oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely grated
2 onions finely sliced
2 cans Ardmona Rich & Thick Onion & Garlic Diced Tomatoes with Paste
1 tblsp tomato paste mixed with a little water
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 cans butter beans
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tblsp crumbled fetta
Utensils: Frypan; cutting board; vegetable knife; stirring spoon; grater, can opener; ovenproof casserole
Time: 1 1/2 hours

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Add 1/4 cup olive oil to frypan on moderate heat. Drop in the onions and soften. Add garlic, the Ardmona tomato, tomato paste and parsley and 1/4 cup olive oil. Simmer on low heat to thicken – about 10 minutes.
  2. Open can of butter beans and drain. Mix carefully into tomato mixture and transfer to casserole.
  3. Cook uncovered in oven for 40 minutes. Serve with crumbled fetta scattered on top and ciabatta on the side.

Spanish Tapas

The word “tapa” is Spanish for pot cover but “tapas” also refes to small food appetisers Spanish bars serve with drinks. After work, the Spanish flock to bars for their tapas to tide them over until dinner, which is not until about 10pm. Tapas originated in the middle ages when inn keepers served up samples or small portions of the food they had on offer instead of menus (because innkeepers were very often illiterate). A bar or a small local restaurant will have about eight to 12 different kinds of tapas on offer which are served with sliced bread. They are often very strongly flavored with garlic, chillies or paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, saffron and often lots of olive oil. One or more of the choices are usually seafood such as sardines, octopus, prawns or others in tomato-based sauce with seasonings. One or more types of bread are usually available to eat with any of the sauce-based tapas. Here are some I can remember from my time in Marbella, on the Costa del Sol south of Malaga. It was a small town when I lived there and famous for its five-star, celebrity resort Marbella Club, and the nearby luxury marina Puerto Banus. The ride from Malaga was on a dual lane country road, passing through a charming country side dotted with small villages. Unfortunately, now that road is a multi-lane highway passing through kms and kms of one long urban sprawl. Here are some of my favourite tapas that I dish up when the family gathers at my place.

Albondigas in Salsa

Albondigas is a must on the tapas menu. The word albondiga comes from Arabic “al-búnduga”, meaning “hazelnut”, referring to the shape of the meatballs. Today’s albondigas are bigger, reflecting our improved living standards since the Middle Ages. There are as many albondiga recipes as there are chefs and the sauces also vary. Here is my take:

Ingredients:
500g lean beef mince 1 egg
1/2 onion
1 clove garlic 50gr bread crumbs, soaked in
100ml milk
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
1 tblsp flour
For the salsa:
1 tblsp olive oil
1 onion 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 400g can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp fresh oregano
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tblsp flatleaf parsley, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Utensils: Bowl; wooden spoon; cutting board; sharp knife; skillet; saucepan
Time: 20 minutes

Preparation:

  1. Put minced meat in a bowl, stir in the egg, onion, garlic and the bread soaked in milk and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Form meat into small balls and roll in flour. Heat skillet to medium and fry meatballs until brown and set aside.
  3. In a separate saucepan, soften onion in oil. Add garlic and tomatoes, paprika, cayenne pepper and herbs. Season with salt to taste, reduce until sauce thickens add albondigas and serve in small bowls.

Chorizo in Cider

Ingredients:
250g Chorizo
1 tblsp extra virgin oil
1 clove garlid
3 cups apple cider 1 tblsp continental parsley, finely chopped Utensils: Cutting board; sharp knife; heavy-bottom skillet; wooden spoon taste. Time: 20 minutes

Preparation:

  1. Cut chorizo in 10mm thick slices. Heat frypan on medium. Pour oil into skillet and heat to medium. Add chorizo slices and fry until they start to brown.
  2. Add cider and finely grate garlic into pan and cook for about 10-15 minutes until the cider has reduced by one-third.
  3. Place in earthware tapas bowls, sprinkle parsley on top and serve while still hot

Guacamole

Strictly, not a tapa, guacamole – a Latin American dip – can still be added to the tapas table.

Ingredients:
1 avocado
1/4 onion or 1/2 brown shallot
1 tblsp freshly squeezed lemon juice or lime juice
2 tblsp light sour cream or creme fraiche
A few drops of Tabasco or 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Sea salt to taste
Utensils: mixing bowl, fork, grater, juice squeezer
Time: 10 minutes

Preparation:

  1. Slice avocado in two, remove the stone, scoop out the flesh into a mixing bowl. Break it up with a fork until smooth. Grate the onion or shallot into the bowl, add lemon or lime juice and mix.
  2. Stir in cayenne or Tabasco and sour cream or creme fraiche. Squeeze lemon or lime juice on top and serve with corn chips or slices of ciabatta.

Greek fare

Two visits to the Greek Islands have left me with several favourite recipes such as BBQ octopus. Apart from Greek salad, other favourites are Gigantes Plaki – or baked beans, Greek style – and Soulaki. Common Greek flavours are oregano, mint, garlic and lemon.

Souvlaki

Souvlaki is a popular Greek dish of marinated pieces of meat grilled on skewers.

Ingredients:
2kg lamb, chicken or pork
1 lemon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 dsp fresh oregano, finely chopped, or
1 dsp dried oregano
​2 dsp fresh mint, finely chopped, or
1 dsp dried mint
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Utensils: Cutting board; vegetable knife; bowl with cover; tongs; skewers; shallow ovenproof roasting tray (optional)
Preparation Time: 1 hour Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Preparation:

  1. Cut meat in 1-inch cubes and place in bowl with olive oil, juice from the lemon, herbs and seasoning. Marinate for 30 minutes or overnight (the meat can be kept in the marinade for up to three days.
  2. Thread the meat on the skewers and if desired, alternate with cherry tomatoes, capsicum and onion.
  3. Cook on hot BBQ for 15-20 minutes or in hot oven at 230°C until done.
  4. Serve with Greek salad and rice or potato chips.

Greek Salad

My first meal in Greece, was in an Athens taverna – a tasty Greek salad, which at its most basic consists of tomatoes, cucumber, campsicum, Kalamata olives and fetta with an oregno-flavoured dressing. My first Greek salad also had lettuce with ham and hardboiled egg grated on top, making it a substantial lunchtime meal.

Ingredients:
2-3 tomatoes, cut in wedges
1 large, Lebanese cucumber cut in thick slices
1/4 red onion, sliced
1/2 red capsicum, seeded and sliced
2 tblsp kalamata olives, pitted
150g fetta cheese in cubes
2 tblsp continental parsley, chopped (optional)
1/4 iceberg lettuce (optional)
400g ham off the bone, cut in strips (optional)
2 hardboiled eggs (optional)
For dressing:
2 tblsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
​3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp freshly chopped oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Utensils: Cutting board; vegetable knife; salad bowl
Preparation time: 10 minutes

Preparation:

  1. If using lettuce, wash, shred and dab dry in paper towel or lettuce spinner and put in bottom of salad bowl. Add tomato wedges, cucumber, onion, capsicum and olives to bowl and scatter fetta on top with parsley if desired.
  2. Make salad dressing by putting olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and seasoning in a jar with a lid. Shake the jar to mix and pour over salad and mix well.
  3. If using egg and ham, slice ham in strips and add to salad. Grate hardboiled eggs on top before fetta and parsley and salad dressing.
  4. Serve with slices of chiabatta bread.

BBQ Octopus

The best BBQ Octopus I ever tasted was in a beach taverna in Chios – a Greek island near the Turkish coast. It was melt-in-the-mouth tender and crisp on the outside from searing on the BBQ. I have been given several tips on how to tenderise octopus. One is to beat it against a rock 40 times, another is to marinade it in wine with a cork. The cork is supposed to have enzymes that enhances tenderising. The main thing is to get rid of the liquid in the octopus and brasing beforehand helps to tenderise the octopus.

Ingredients:
2kg octopus
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
splash of red vinegar
2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
​1 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves of garlic, finely grated
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Utensils: Stewing pot with cover; cutting board; vegetable knife; fork; tongs; skewers; two bowls
Preparation Time: 1 hour Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes

Preparation:

  1. Place octopus and cork (optional) in pot over high heat and cover. Leave to release liquid for about 5-8 minutes. The octopus should now be almost covered in liquid. If using baby octopus, remove from heat and set aside.
  2. For regular octopus, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer under cover for about 45 minutes, adding water if drying up. Braise until octopus is easily pierced with a fork. Remove from heat.
  3. Add wine, vinegar, half the oregano and garlic to octopus. Let it marinade in the liquid until cool, leave covered in fridge overnight.
  4. Remove octopus from fridge and let it reach room temperature. Lift out of liquid, turn in olive oil, remaining oregano and season.
  5. Sear on hot BBQ until charred and serve with Greek salad, fresh bread and lemon wedges on the side.

Three ways with eggs

Eggs were long regarded as bad-for-you high cholesterol food. But new studies have revealed egg yolks can be an excellent source of choline, an essential nutrient for fetal brain development and helps prevent birth defects. According to the US Egg Board choline also helps adults’ brain function and relay messages from the brain through nerves to the muscles.

Two eggs provide about 250mg of choline, or about half the RDI for pregnant and breast feeding women. Lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants found in egg yolks, help prevent macular degeneration, a leading cause of age-related blindness.

Research has also found eggs are lower in cholesterol than previously claimed. The newly reviewed nutrient composition of standard big eggs lists the average amount of cholesterol in one egg as 185mg, 14% less than previous claims. The analysis also revealed big eggs contained 41 IU of Vitamin D, up 64% on previously health claims.

Experts now say healthy adults can enjoy an egg a day without increasing their risk of heart disease, particularly when opting for low cholesterol foods throughout the day. Some dietary guidelines recommend individuals consume, on average, less than 300mg of cholesterol a day. A single big egg contains 185mg cholesterol.

  1. Place octopus and cork (optional) in pot over high heat and cover. Leave to release liquid for about 5-8 minutes. The octopus should now be almost covered in liquid. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer under cover is easily pierced with a fork.
  2. Remove from heat and add wine, vinegar and half the oregano. Let octopus marinate until cool or put in bowl and leave covered in fridge overnight.
  3. Remove octopus from fridge and when it is at room temperature, lift out and turn in olive oil and remaining oregano and season

Scrambled eggs

I find scrambled eggs are best made in a non-stick saucepan on the stove and finishing them off at low heat. If you have some bubbly handy – adding that can make the eggs nice and fluffy.

Ingredients:
30g butter
4 eggs
1/4 cup reduced fat cooking cream
2 tblsp Champagne or sparkling white (optional)
1/2 cup of snipped chives or herb of
​your choice: parsley, chervil, dill, basil
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of sea salt to taste
Utensils: Non-stick saucepan or microwave dish/CorningWare pot with cover; whisk; vegetable knife; spoon
Time: Under 10 minutes

Preparation:

  1. Add butter, eggs and cooking cream in saucepan on stove at high heat.
  2. When the butter is melted, turn heat to low and whisk until well blended.
  3. When the eggs start to thicken, turn off heat and at this time add the Champagne and fold in herbs with the spoon and cover.
  4. Alternatively, put butter in microwave dish, cover and melt in on high in the microwave for 20 seconds or until melted. Break eggs into the bowl, whisk in cream and add the Champagne.
  5. Cover and cook in microwave on high for one minute.
  6. Remove from microwave, stir egg carefully, shifting the cooked parts at the edges into the middle. Return to microwave, stir and cook in increments of 30 seconds and 10 seconds until cooked but still soft, fold in herbs.
  7. The egg should finish up fluffy but still soft. Cover and stand for one minute, season and serve with slices of toast or English muffins.

Poached eggs

Poached eggs, particularly if you do not have a poaching pan, can be tricky but it is less greasy than fried egg and can be served on slices of toast with a stewed tomato, onion and basil for a healthy meal or for a more indulgent fare, dished up as Eggs Benedict (see below), or in a Caesar salad.

Preparation:

  1. If you do not have a poacher, you can poach eggs in a pot or pan of boiling water. Bring water to boil, lower heat to a simmer and add a pinch of salt. The size of the pan depends on the number of eggs – the more eggs you prepare, the bigger the pot. Alternatively, you can use a small saucepan and do one or two eggs at the time.
  2. Add a splash of vinegar to the water (to make the egg stay together). Crack egg into a small shallow dish. With a fork swirl the simmering water until a vortex is formed, slide the egg carefully into the water. The white should swirl and set around the yolk.
  3. Let the egg simmer for three to four minutes until the white is set and lift it out with a slotted spoon. Let it drain in the slotted spoon positioned over the simmering water while you prepare English muffins or pieces of toast.
  4. If poaching several eggs, preheat oven to a low 75-100°C. Cover a dinner plate with a double layer paper towel and leave eggs to drain on top until all are done and ready to serve.

Eggs Benedict

Mastering Eggs Benedict, means you have graduated as a skilled cook. This famous brunch dish is said to have originated at the turn of the 20th century in the US, at Delmonico’s Restaurant in Manhattan. The story goes, banker and yachtsman Commodore Benedict and his wife walked into Delmonico for a meal and asked if the chef could make something new. When he asked Mrs Benedict if she had any suggestion, she asked for poached eggs on toasted English muffins with a thin slice of ham, Hollandaise sauce and a truffle on top. These days, Eggs Benedict comes without the truffle.

Ingredients:
8 eggs
4 English muffins
8 slices of ham off the bone
Butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of sea salt to taste
Chives or parsley
Utensils: Saucepan; small olive dish; fork; slotted spoon; dinner plate; paper towel
Time: 15-20 minutes
For Hollandaise sauce
2 egg yolks
Juice from one lemon (3 1/2 tblsp)
1 tblsp warm water
100g softened butter
A few drops Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground white pepper
A pinch of sea salt
Utensils: Double boiler; whisk; wooden spoon
Time: 20 minutes

Preparation:

  1. Heat oven to 75-100°C. Place slices of ham on a plate in the oven, cover with foil and leave to warm up.
  2. Poach the eggs and leave on paper towels on another plate in the oven while preparing the Hollandaise.
  3. Make Hollandaise: fill the bottom half of double boiler, or a saucepan, halfway up with water. In the top half, or the smaller saucepan, gently whisk egg yolks, lemon juice and the warm water with. Place saucepan inside the bigger pot, taking care the bottom of the saucepan does not touch the simmering water in the pot underneath. With a wooden spoon, stir in a teaspoon of softened butter until it melts and keep stirring in the butter, a teaspoon at the time, as the sauce thickens. If it is too thick add some more warm water.
  4. Season and add a splash of Worcester sauce at the end. Lift saucepan out, stir and cover to keep warm.
  5. Divide the English muffins and toast each half. Spread each with softened butter. Place two muffins on each plate, cover with slices of ham and place a poached egg on top of each.
  6. Stir the Hollandaise, coat the poached eggs with the sauce and garnish with snipped chives or a sprig of parsley.
  7. For Eggs Royal, substitute smoked salmon for ham.
  8. For a vegetable variation, plunge a packet of baby spinach in salted boiling water, drain and press between two plates to remove all moisture, toss in a knob of butter, season and cover the muffins before placing the egg on top.

Classic omelet

Making a perfect omelet is the first skill in your cooking repertoire. You should not whisk eggs too vigorously nor cook them too long. It is quick and easy to whip up after coming home from a long day at work and you can add your own choice of fillings for a tasty meal.

Ingredients:
4 eggs
1 1/2 tblsp water
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch of sea salt to taste
1 tblsp water
30g butter
Utensils: Bowl; fork; 22cm heavy-base, non-stick frypan; vegetable knife; chopping board; spatula
Time: 10 minutes

Preparation:

  1. Break the eggs in a bowl and beat with a fork until the yolks are broken, season. Heat a non-stick fry pan over medium heat. When warm, drop in butter and when foaming, quickly add water to the eggs and pour them into the pan. Leave for 10-15 seconds and then stir with the flat of the fork. Leave another 5-6 seconds. Lift up the edge of the omelet furthest away with a spatula and tilt the frying pan away from you to let the raw egg run to the end of the pan.
  2. Continue lifting and tilting the pan to distribute egg mixture. While the eggs are still soft, use the spatula to loosen the bottom of the omelet, shake pan and fold the omelet in half with the spatula. Remove from the heat and serve. This omelet is enough for one hungry person and two not-so hungry.
  3. For an French Omelet au fines herbs (herb omelet): stir in one rounded tablespoon of mixed chopped herbs: parsley, thyme, tarragon (or marjoram) and freshly snipped chives with the water before pouring the eggs into the pan. The omelet will go quite green with the herbs.
  4. For a cheese omelet: scatter 3-4 tablespoons grated cheddar or Gruyère thickly over the omelet while it is still soft, fold over and serve.
  5. For a tasty tomato, ham and cheese omelet: chop tomato in small cubes, cut ham in short strips, or if using prosciutto, tear in small pieces, and scatter on top of omelet while it is still runny. Add grated cheese and chopped parsley before folding over and serve.
  6. For a mushroom omelet: prepare 200g button mushrooms. Wash and quarter them and then toss in with a little olive oil and soy sauce. Fry them separately in butter and add to omelet while it is still runny, scatter grated cheese and parsley on top before folding over and serve.
  7. For an Asian crab omelet: mix a cup of fresh crab meat; 1/2 cup of bean sprouts; 1/4 cup sliced shallots; chopped fresh chili to taste; and bind with a little oyster sauce. Add mixture to omelet while still soft and fold over.
  8. In a separate pot heat up 1/2 cup strong chicken stock, stir in a little soy sauce and oyster sauce; and drizzle the sauce over omelet.