Friday, February 25, 2011

At Home: Laotian Stuffed Green Peppers (Moke Mock Pit)

After an extended holiday hiatus, I'm happy to bring back At Home with Hippocrene! As you may notice from the pictures, the "home" part looks different. I'm still adjusting to a much smaller kitchen, often reminding myself of the increased space overall. If you ever despair in your urban kitchen, read My Life in France and be thoroughly put in your place by all of Julia Child's delicious accomplishments in her tiny appartement!

The grocery store in my new neighborhood has lots of exotic (to me, at least) produce like giant aloe leaves, hunks of yucca, cactus, and cheyote. Unfortunately, it did not have the dill and lemongrass I needed for this recipe. It seemed silly to make a special trip for under $4 worth of ingredients, but the results were worth it!

Moke Mock Pit (Stuffed Green Peppers)
(from Simple Laotian Cooking, page 108 )

Serves 6

1/4 cup rice
6 large bell peppers
1/4 cup sliced lemongrass
6 cloves garlic
3 shallots or 1 small onion, sliced
1 large hot pepper, sliced or 1/4 bell pepper for a mild dish
1 lb ground pork, beef, or turkey
1/2 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 stalks scallions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill


Note: If you have a moment in the produce aisle like I did, trying to decide if you're holding a bunch of green onions or scallions, look here! Some people may use the names interchangeably, and although they look alike, they do have slightly different tastes. Green onions have a definite round bulb at the base, while scallions look like miniature leeks, straight all the way to their stubby roots.

1. Soak the rice in warm water for 30 minutes. 

2. Wash the green peppers. Cut off their tops, scape out the seeds, and set aside. Cut up the other ingredients while you wait on the rice. I used half a jalapeƱo, which gave it a kick, but wasn't overly spicy.

3. In a blender add rice, lemongrass, and 1/4 cup water. Blend ten seconds. Add garlic, shallots, and pepper. Blend until you have a coarse puree. If you're going to roast them, preheat the oven now. If steaming, make sure your pot has water, etc..

4. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add ground pork (or other meat), salt, fish sauce, scallions, and dill. Mix well with a spoon.

5. Spoon 1/6 of the mixture in each pepper and spread it evenly. place the peppers in a baking dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Steam for 1 hour on high heat or roast in a 375-degree oven for 1 hour. Serve with rice and steamed vegetables. While it may not be traditional, the peppers taste great with ketchup, Thai sweet chili sauce or even plum sauce!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Chinese New Year, Trinidadian-Style with Ramin Ganeshram

Jean-Paul Vellotti for NPR
Chinese New Year started yesterday, and the festivities will continue for 15 more days (shouldn't everyone do that?). Sweet Hands author Ramin Ganeshram shares how to celebrate the lunar new year like a native Trinidadian with NPR!  Trinidad & Tobago usually brings to mind glossy travel photos of beaches and palm trees, or rum-infused Carnival partying, but the celebrations for Chinese New Year run a close second. Ganeshram notes that: 

"Chinese were first brought to the islands in the 19th century as indentured laborers on British colonial plantations. They soon became part of the general population of Africans, Indians, Europeans and Syrians. Their influence on the island's food was profound, perhaps because once they left indenture, Trinidad's Chinese often owned the island's grocery stores."

Now a part the multiethnic population, Ganeshram says "it's common to see Chinese New Year good luck symbols in retail centers in Trinidad, and parades, complete with dragon dances, are hosted by various Chinese associations islandwide." Of course, this intermingling made for great eats, and Ramin has adapted some of her recipes for you to enjoy, including Fried Wontons, Shay Shay Tien's Pow, Eight-Treasure Trini Chow Mein, Dasheen Pork, Five-Spice Rum Pork and Vegetables, Bitter Melon with Onion Seeds, and Chinese CakesSee the article for recipes!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hippocrene Double Feature on Pierre Wolfe's Show

Two of our authors will be on America's Dining & Travel Guide this Sunday! An internationally renowned chef, Pierre Wolfe has been hosting his nationally syndicated radio program for over 20 years. Every Sunday from 3-5 pm Pierre interviews culinary experts, and recommends the latest fine restaurants, wine, and travel destinations.

Sunday, February 6th
  • 3:30 pm EST: Arthur L. Meyer
  • 4:30 pm EST: Karen Hulene Bartell

    Arthur L. Meyer is the author of Corsican Cuisine and the forthcoming Danish Cooking and Baking Traditions (Hippocrene), as well as Baking Across AmericaTexas Tortes, and co-author of The Appetizer Atlas which won "Best English Language Cookbook" and "Best in World" Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in 2003. He has been cooking professionally since 1963, and in 1992 opened the critically-acclaimed Clarkesville Restaurant, specializing in global cuisine, in Austin, Texas. He has taught cooking internationally and is considered an expert on world cuisines. He resides in Austin, Texas.

    Karen Hulene Bartell has traveled extensively in the Philippines and lived in Taiwan for many years. She is the author of Fine Filipino Food,  Best of Korean CookingBest of Taiwanese Cooking, and Best of Polish Cooking, all published by Hippocrene Books. She resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband.

    In NYC you can tune in to WGCH AM 1490. You can find your local Business Talk Radio station here