Meal 70: Guatemala

Corn, beans, tomatoes, squash, peppers, turkey...if it's a classic New World food, chances are you'll see it in Guatemalan cuisine. While it's incorporated smatterings of good stuff from Europe (note the olives in the tamales), by and large this meal could have been cooked six hundred years ago, before a conquistador set foot on Mayan lands. However so ancient the ingredients may be, the techniques  aren't: I made liberal use of the blender, and really wish I'd had a food mill, since there was a lot of tedious straining of blended sauces. We were fortunate to have some experts on hand: Mica on the left grew up in Guatemala, and Christen on the right met Laura on a human rights delegation in Guatemala. Between them are Alex, Laurel, Diana, Jennifer, Grant, Sophie, and Suzanne.

Tamales colorados | Red tamales | Recipe: Crisco; Lard: SpanishEnglish

Guatemalan tamales filling

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I find Mexican tamales too dry, and too sparse on filling relative to the mass of corn. Happily, Guatemalan tamales suffer neither of  those challenges. Rice and fat moisten up the masa quite well, and the filling is intended to be generous.

OK, this was a lot of work. Even making the pumpkin-seed-based tomato sauce was the effort of an average dish, what with individually toasting the different seeds in addition to simmering the sauce. Add to that cooking up the pork, roasting the peppers, and especially the forearm-building effort of mixing the masa...and now it's time to trim the banana leaves, and finally to assemble and wrap the tamales before a good 90 minutes of steaming.

The results were well worth it, a tasty bundle of flavor with so many different textures and directions. But I can understand why most Guatemalan families don't make this more than once a year!

Kaq'ik | Turkey and smoked chili soup | Recipe

This soup pre-dates the arrival of the conquistadores, and some consider it the national dish of Guatemala. As with so many ancient recipes, there are as many variations as there are abuelitas, but the important part is to have turkey, chilies (including a smoked variety), and a tomato-rich broth. There are two aspects I particularly liked about this recipe. The first is that you broil all the vegetables, including even the dried chilies, lending a depth you just don't get from sauteeing. The other is that it has you use just turkey legs, rather than the whole bird, and I'm much more a fan of dark meat, especially to go along with those roasted veggies. While not so labor-intensive as the tamales, this certainly isn't the simplest soup to whip together, but I didn't at all mind the work after enjoying the depth of flavor from the roasting combined with the slow simmering of the turkey.

Frijoles negros | Black beans | Recipe

While the tamales and kaq'ik are special-occasion dishes unique to Guatemala in their preparation, it's the black beans that led the folks who'd lived in the country to reminisce. I cooked them in the crock pot, a technique I'm growing to love because it really allows the flavors to meld while also preserving the structural integrity of the bean. This recipe has plenty of vegetables, including a whole head of garlic, plus onion and bell pepper. I didn't add salt at all, because the topping took care of it: the appropriately named queso duro frijolero, or "hard cheese for beans." Saltier even than parmesan, it suits its title so very well. I'm glad I made a double-batch, because we enjoyed the leftovers throughout of the following week.

Ayote en dulce | Squash stewed in sweet sauce | Recipe: SpanishEnglish

Though we were a month out from the Day of the Dead, Guatemala has such a particular cuisine for that holiday that I felt compelled to make something from it. I chose to make this winter squash simmered in a sugary, gently spiced sauce, which is then boiled until syrupy. I'd say the dish was okay, but didn't quite bring the flavor punch I'd been expecting. I'm pretty sure I got the right kind of green-skinned, fairly smooth squash (thank you, farmers' market!), so either I started with too much water and hence had to boil it too long to thicken it, or maybe this dish is just supposed to be subtle.

Atole de elote | Corn and milk drink | Recipe

This drink, on the other hand, was more of an intense experience than I'd bargained for. You go through a lot of corn -- one ear per cup of drink -- and blend the kernels with milk, then strain it out and sweeten and cinnamon it up. With the nuttiness of the fresh corn plus the richness of milk, this warm beverage is a thick one. Would probably go even better on a chilly day, perhaps even as a breakfast drink.

I'm posting this on World Food Day. That marks one year since we did that epic Democratic Republic of the Congo meal for 75 at the youth hostel. We've now raised just about $16,000, enough for 64,000 meals. Please take a moment to think about the joy of food and the comfort of food security -- it's something we really oughtn't take for granted.

Meal 66: Greece

Greece has seen myriad civilizations, invaders, and influences over the millennia, and a climate in which most anything can grow, all of which have contributed to a cuisine that is both abundantly flavored and for the most part extremely healthy. It's also built to be sampled in abundance, with a wide range of mezedes for nibbling and sharing. Fortunately, most of these dishes didn't need to be served piping hot, which made it a little less insane to prepare ten dishes in a medium-sized kitchen with one helper (thanks so much, Neil!).

Our setting for this Nosh certainly encouraged relaxed enjoyment of the Earth's bounty: the porch of our friends' home in Asbury Park, on the Jersey Shore, on a very pleasant summer evening (thanks so much, Jenifer and Phil!).

Fasolada | Bean and vegetable soup | Recipe

In our culinary journey through time, this humble vegan soup of beans and vegetables brings us both to the very beginning and the most recent days of the history of this part of the world. The Minoan civilization, which preceded the Greeks, grew legumes -- this soup, save for a few New World additions such as tomato, is pretty much their direct legacy. Nowadays, with the Greek economy in a shambles, this soup is as popular as ever, as a big pot is cheap to make and fills the family's stomach. The flavors are simple, with few seasonings or fancy techniques to hide the true flavor of the ingredients, so if you're making this dish as a matter of recreation, make sure to get high-quality beans and vegetables, and take your time simmering to draw out the flavors.

While fasolada is considered by many to be the national dish of Greece, I don't know if I've ever seen it at a Greek restaurant; I've only known avgolemono, the egg-lemon soup that nursed me back from many a college hangover. Why is such a common dish, about which so many Greek food blogs tell deep stories, barely seen on menus of Greek restaurants in the US?

Horiatiki salata | Country salad | Recipe

Unlike the soup, this classic Greek salad is known around the world. The real version, apparently, has no vinegar or lemon juice, it's simply vegetables, feta, and olive oil. This one was pretty good, especially with the farmer's market tomatoes, but unfortunately the cucumber was fairly bitter. (Too bad there was no tartness to balance it out!)

Horiatiko psomi | Country sourdough bread | Recipe

I once read (but can't find again, alas) that a good sourdough starter is so cherished in Greece that saints are invoked during its cultivation, and that despite modern science, many Greek homemakers insist it's a magical, spiritual substance. While I'm all cool with the symbiotic relationship of those yeast and bacteria, to me the magic of Greek bread is the additions of little splashes of milk, honey, and olive oil, which turn mere leavened dough into a springy treat with just enough crunch and tooth to stand up to dipping, spreading, dunking, and straight-up nibbling. The protein and oil make the dough more forgiving to work with, and also crisp up more impressively in a standard home oven. Noted for future baking! Since our hosts weren't going to make bread anytime soon, I figured I should double the recipe, and use the whole five-pound sack of bread flour. By the morning, only one of the five loaves remained.

Skordalia | Garlic potato dip | Recipe

Is this a really garlicky, oily, cold version of mashed potatoes? Or is this a cavalry of garlic (after all, "skorda" means garlic in Greek) hitching a ride on potatoes and oil onto your bread and into your mouth? Either way, it's a surprisingly simple dish to make, and lends itself to endless modification. Creativity, too, because we didn't have a mortar and pestle handy for mashing the garlic, so I put it into a ziploc bag and pounded it a few dozen times with an empty wine bottle. Just don't freak out about all the olive oil in the recipe. If you've got good quality stuff, it'll really make the dip sing.

Alevropita | Feta-olive oil tart | Recipe

From the northwestern reaches of the country comes this dish that's equal parts simple, tasty, and ridiculous. If you can make pancake batter from scratch, you've already got more than enough skill to put this together. If you like feta and flatbreads and the taste of olive oil, you'll eat the whole pan. And with nearly a half a cup of olive oil and a quarter-stick of butter with a little more than a cup of flour, you'll probably be half grinning and half cringing as you make the dish. Even without the feta this would be a tasty starch halfway to fry dough, but with the cheese, it's just super good.

Piperies gemistes me feta | Feta-stuffed peppers | Recipe

Macedonia, the covering much of the north of Greece (not to be confused with The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia directly to the north), is apparently the most exciting place for food in a country that seems pretty stimulating all over. It's a real convergence location between Balkan, Greek, and Turkish, and also has the legacy of a once-sizable Jewish community. These peppers themselves mark a convergence of spicy, creamy, and toasty, making use of the broiler twice: once to soften the peppers, and another to heat the cheese filling to brown. Greece is, of course, a wine country, but if you ever need a Greek dish that goes well with beer, look no further.

Kolokitho keftedes | Zucchini fritters | Recipe

Crete, the largest of the Greek islands, is the home of what is essentially a latke (i.e., potato pancake), but made instead of zucchini. Poor Neil spent upward of an hour shredding by hand the two largest zucchini I'd ever seen in my life, along with onion, carrot, and other ingredients. And all that yellow in the photo? That's extra virgin olive oil, in abundance. The fritters were darn good, especially accompanied by the tzatziki I whipped up (Greek yogurt, shredded cucumber and garlic, mint, salt, done). The only problem with making them for a crowd is that you're spending valuable minutes right around service time standing impatiently around a skillet, waiting for them to cook -- out of all the dishes we made, this is the only one that held up our starting at the appointed hour.

Keftedes me saltsa domata | Lamb meatballs in tomato sauce | Recipe

"What do you do with this stuff?" asked the butcher at Fairway while handing me the ground lamb. "I had it once at an Arab stand and it was weird." Well, dear friend who doesn't enjoy what he's selling, you might enjoy this dish as a re-introduction to the other red meat. The lamb is first blended with spices, especially the ever-present oregano, then fried as little meatballs, and finally nestled in with a tomato sauce -- which I made from fresh tomatoes from the farmers market rather than canned. This one was a winner, especially with the little kids!

Karithopita | Olive oil walnut cake | Recipe

For what the EU called its 50th birthday, the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, all its members sent two cakes representative of their national cuisines. This is one of the two Greece sent. The cake starts out rich enough, with a cup of olive oil, lots of walnuts, and semolina and cake flours. But the real treat comes when it's drenched in a lemony syrup -- so much so that you have to pour it a third at a time to make sure it all absorbs. Not too hard to make, and really nice, would make for an excellent coffee cake and is also great with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Galaktoboureko | Milk custard phyllo cake | Recipe

I've already made baklava for Armenia, but I felt the need to make something with that flaky phyllo dough for this meal. Behold this amazing pastry, made of an astonishing 10 cups of milk, seven eggs, and a half pound of butter. As long as you're patient and attentive with the stirring, it's actually pretty easy to make, and it's really tasty, a little more subtle and less heavy than baklava. The only tweak I made was to replace about half of the sugar and water in the syrup with honey, which I would definitely do again. The Ottoman influence on Greek cuisine is clear here: "boureko," meaning stuffed pastry, comes from the Turkish "börek."


Meal 22: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Upon stepping into the EuroMarket at 31st Street and 30th Road in Astoria — and residents of Queens wonder why we make fun of their street naming! — I was assaulted by the smell of smoke and meat, from bins labeled suho meso, which a quick search on my phone confirmed is Bosnian smoked, dried beef. I agonized for several minutes over whether to cram a kilo sack of Bosnian flour into my bag, and decided to go for it, since it was labeled at Type 400, which another search revealed is a soft pastry flour that would make for a better burek. A six-pack of Bosnian beer here, two bottles of Herzegovinan wine and some Croatian plum brandy there, ground meat, homemade clotted cream and sundry other ingredients later, I was laden like a pack mule for my three-train ride home.

We had quite a full table tonight. Many of our guests came from The Moth, Laura's workplace: Brandon brought his roommates Eric and Nicole, David brought his wife Anna (to whom he proposed in Bosnia!), and Aditi put in an appearance before finishing her internship. We also enjoyed the company of Jeff and Elly, as well as Mark who'd recently been to Bosnia's neighbor Macedonia and brought some potent liquor. Very present in absentia were Snezan and Neely, who helped a ton with the menu and shopping suggestions, but couldn't make it tonight.

Big thanks to everyone for schlepping over from Jersey, the Bronx, and Prospect Heights!

Ćevapi | Beef and lamb kabobs | Recipe

As far as I'm concerned, if you want to make a ground meat kebab (aka kefta), look no further than this recipe. The blend of two meats makes for rich flavor and lovely texture, the overnight wait lets the flavors permeate, and the soda water makes it fluffier or something. One modification I made, based on several sources I read, was to replace the salt and pepper with Vegeta, which seems to be the ubiquitous Balkan equivalent of Mrs. Dash.

Ajvar | Red pepper and eggplant sauce | Recipe

A delicious sauce/dip/spread of roasted pepper, eggplant, onion, and garlic, whose sweet and tang makes for a classic contrast with the meat. If you make this recipe, and I hope you do, two notes: it yields more than a half gallon so don't hesitate to shrink it if you don't need that much ajvar, and be generous with the roasting time since the extra time in the oven to get the veggies good and blistered will spare you at least that much when it comes to peeling the skins.

Kajmak | Clotted cream

This is apparently the result of slowly boiling unpasteurized milk, carefully collecting the cream that gently cooks and collects on the top, and then aging it. Several pages mentioned that homemade was far superior to storebought, so I was delighted to see a so-called homemade version at the store. (It was also double the price of the more commercial looking version so I'll believe them!) I'm not sure how close to authentic it was, but it was sure yummy, slightly tangy with a beautiful thickness.

Somun | Flatbread | Recipe

As you can see from the photo, this bread was not flat. I think I let it rise too long, and didn't start it on high enough heat. But whatever! It looks like an explosion from a manga in glutinous form, and it also tasted really good with the meat and spreads. Next time, if I'm starting the bread on the early side I'll try to remember to use a little less yeast.

Rakija and šljivovica | Brandies

Mark's rakija (grape brandy) and my slivovitz (plum brandy) made for several delicious rounds of shots. Živjeli!

Pita zeljanica | Spinach and feta pie | Recipe

One of the Ottoman Empire's enduring gifts to humanity is the borek, the great empanada of the sultans. A fun Balkan twist on this stuffed-dough genre is to spiral it up like a snail. In Bosnia, the term borek generally applies only to the meat-filled version, whereas the broader name is pita. I chose this version to add some greenery to the meal. I also made the dough from scratch, with that soft Bosnian flour, which was really smooth and rolled out super big. I thought it turned out really nicely: a crust with just enough flavor but neither too crispy or too chewy, and a filling that was fully cooked and tasty. Paired nicely with a big scoop of yogurt.

Tufahije | Stuffed baked apples | Recipe (in translation from Croatian)

Blessedly, the most distinctive Bosnian dessert doesn't involve pastry or bread. It's baked apples, but the technique is a bit of a twist: you boil the apples first in a light syrup, stuff the apples with egg whites and walnuts, bake them off, and simmer down and sweeten the syrup. Add a dollop of whipped cream, and you've got yourself a treat.

Thanks to our guests for their generous contributions to the World Food Program, which will make for a $220 donation, our biggest yet for a single meal. Next week we're heading 4,800 miles due south to Botswana, whose cuisine has at least one point in common: dry-preserved meat. More on that soon!

Week 8: Armenia

Armenia has a very long and tough history. The country as it currently stands is a small patch of just a few million people in the south Caucasus, with a diaspora of many million more around the world. As with many diaspora populations, the culinary tradition is a core part of identity, so I was glad to have our friend the nomad, Ed, helping me through it properly.

The meal was quite delicious and a heck of a lot of work, starting with marinating and butter-clarifying the night before. I think the chopped-onion count came to about twelve, and at one point we had four people actively cooking and preparing with oven, wood fire, and gas grill — and miraculously, it came together all pretty much at the same time. Besides Ed as our guest of honor, everyone was a first-timer: Emily and her boyfriend Noel, Ed's friend Colin, and our friends Lisa and Tammy. Despite the arrival of fall weather at precisely 3 PM this Thursday, the weather was clear and still and definitely amenable to eating outside.

Armenian string cheese

This puts the string cheese you had as a child to shame! Saltier, fresher, and just all around tastier. A wonderful little nibble while waiting for the food to hit the table.

Armenian brandy

Ed's greatest hesitation as we were discussing the menu was whether he could find Armenian brandy. But, lo and behold, he found it at the first liquor store he checked. Ararat brandy (named, wistfully, after Mt. Ararat, an important landmark for Armenians now in Turkish territory, where legend has it Noah's Ark landed) was delicious and shockingly smooth and perfect for toasting.

Khorovats | Barbecue | Recipe and guide

As you can see, Armenian barbecue is done with large chunks of meat on skewers, suspended over coals rather than placed on a grill. There seem to be as many recipes for khorovats marinade as there are Armenian families, but they all share a base of onions and something sour. The recipe I chose called for pomegranate juice; since I had pomegranate molasses I cut it with water and vinegar, and marinated over 24 hours. I got so much lamb (from the halal butcher on Atlantic) and pork (from the Italian grocery around the corner) that I doubled the recipe for the marinade. Noel took on the role of grillmaster, and got them just charred, which imparted a nice smoky flavor and sealed in the juices.


According to the khorovats guide I found, you throw veggies right in the fire, so that's what we did with eggplants and peppers, just scraping back the char and scooping out the inside. And check out that super-long and skinny eggplant! Deliciously smoky. We also had, incongruously but deliciously, some portobello mushrooms which we grilled in foil.

Yalanci | Vegetarian stuffed grape leaves | Recipe (I made "Alice Aveydan's Yalanchi")

Ed says that the word yalanci means "fake" in Armenian, in reference to the fact that there's no meat in the filling. But when you've got onions, pine nuts, raisins, dill, and allspice, all wrapped in a briny grape leaf, who needs flesh to be happy? We did consider using grape leaves from our vines in the back yard but realized they needed to be brined first, so we scrapped that. Ed made thorough work of the jar of leaves, and they were just so tasty: the tang of the brine and the lemon, and the sweetness of the raisins, balanced out by the onions and rice. Just scrumptious.

Ich | Tomato and lemon bulgur salad | Recipe

According to Ed, this is a quintessentially Armenian-aunt dish. It's simple enough, but quite delicious and a substantial side. It takes 6 lemons' worth of juice, so it's got an abundantly fresh feel.

Lavash | Flatbread | Recipe

When you go to restaurants whose cultures eat ready-baked flat breads, it seems simple enough that hot, steamy bread just shows up when you want it. But when the people cooking the meal are also the ones enjoying it, it's quite a logistical challenge, especially when oven space is limited and already occupied by other dishes. Fortunately we were able to press the gas grill into surface, so we created a rhythm where Emily rolled out the breads and par-baked them in the oven, then I finished them off during the dinner on a griddle on the gas grill as we ate. Some of them got quite on the crispy and nearly burnt side, but Ed convinced us that lavash is sometimes cooked that crisp.

Lahmajoon | Armenian "pizza" with lamb topping | Recipe

This is one of those dishes you see in many countries, but Ed had me convinced that Armenians treat it as core to their cuisine. So I made it! I'm not sure if the dough is all that different from lavash, but I did follow the recipe carefully and hence had two different doughs rising. Emily rolled out these doughs too, and they hogged the oven space from the lavash. They were really quite tasty and great with jajik.

Jajik | Cucumber-garlic yogurt

No recipe here: throw some cucumber and chopped garlic into yogurt, let sit, and serve. Happy to say the cucumber came from our yard! This creamy sauce was a steadfast accompaniment to everything else on the plate. The yogurt I got was shockingly high in fat, which only helped the flavor I'm sure.

Pakhlava | Baklava | recipe

The Armenian version of this filo-based pastry isn't terribly different from the Turkish or Greek versions, except that it doesn't have honey, but did have some grated orange peel for a nice citrus-y tinge. I've always enjoyed this crispy, gooey, utterly indulgent sweet, but never made it until now. Turns out it's really just a pound and a half of butter and close to three cups of sugar, with some flaky pastry and ground nuts to give it a blush of respectability. As with every other time I've eaten it, the meal preceding was so filling that I couldn't eat nearly as much as I'd have liked.

With all these dishes, there sure were a lot of leftovers, and I foisted pakhlava, lahmajoon, and other leftovers onto folks heading home — not before a very small map-scratching for this little country.

Week 2: Albania

A nation's food is quite often a reflection of its geographic and historical circumstances. In Albania's case, it's across the Adriatic from Italy, not far from Greece, and was a part of the Ottoman Empire for centuries. Hence: yogurt, peppers, lamb, and a hell of a lot of olive oil. (See the shopping list, which doesn't include the gallon of olive oil I bought later.) But of course, each country adds its own twist. In the case of Albania, it's egg. Of course, almost every culture makes use of eggs. But I've never seen a cuisine that puts a little bit in almost every dish!

Our guide for the evening was Rudina, a radio producer from UNICEF from the north of Albania. (Thanks also to Elton and Quinn who sent their advice!) We met her through Snezan, the agent who found us our amazing apartment, and his girlfriend Neely. Rudina gave me a bunch of suggestions of what to cook, and the recipes that went with them. Along with the three of them, we had my college roommate Jeff, his girlfriend Elly, another college friend Sarah-Doe, and Laura's coworker Kirsty.

There were six dishes in the meal, four of which were oven-baked and three of which were fried in olive oil. (Huge thanks to Kirsty for helping with chopping, frying, and much more.) For those of you doing the math, that means that one dish was indeed fried and then baked. It required some gymnastics to do it all on the small range, but it all turned out quite well. Most of the dishes came from Rudina directly; she's graciously allowed me to include them at the bottom of this post.

Rakia | Grape brandy

The Turkish national drink is Rakı, a potent licorice firewater which gives me an instant headache. Given the similarity of the word, I was a bit scared when Rudina brought a bottle of Rakia. But contrary to my assumption, it wasn't licorice-flavored at all, but rather a nice grape brandy.

Fergese | Fried peppers with tomato-feta sauce | Recipe below

The recipe calls for 1.5 cups of oil. Eek! But yum. The same oil that fried the peppers is the foundation of the sauce with tomato and feta (and a little egg). Pour the sauce on top of the peppers, eat it with a chunk of bread, and you have a deliciously self-contained dish.

Tarator | Fried zucchini with cucumber-garlic yogurt dip

This one is so simple I don't need to give a separate recipe. Just peel and slice zucchini lengthwise and fry it. Pour on a sauce of yogurt with some chopped cucumbers and minced garlic. Done. Yum. These zucchini came from the local farmer's market this morning, and were so fresh they still had that little fuzz on the skin.

Musaka | Spinach and egg casserole | Recipe below

I know the word from Greek food, as an eggplant dish. So what a surprise to see this one based on spinach. Really simple, really good.

And that was just the first course. Here's the mains.

Byrek me spinaq | Spinach pie | Recipe (scroll down to find it)

I'm only a slight bit ashamed I didn't make the filo dough. It was effort enough even using pre-made sheets. Did this one have egg too, you ask? Yep, mixed in with the spinach. Baked it most of the way earlier on, then finished it off right before serving. Could have baked it a bit more to make it even crispier, but the filling was great.

Stuffed eggplant | Recipe below

Ta-da! This is the one that was first fried, then baked. The eggplant was lovely and tender, and the filling a nice balance of veggies and meat.

Tavë Kosi | Lamb casserole with rice and yogurt sauce | Recipe below

Despite appearances, I am pretty sure I'll be making this one again. I had never poured dry rice into a pan of roasting meat, let alone an entire quart of yogurt (with — you guessed it! — a bit of egg). Took a while to all set and get the nice crust on top, but worth the wait. Creamy and meaty, but not heavy.

Rudina didn't give any advice about dessert. When I told her I had an ice-cream machine, she advised that I make anything that Italians would eat, "not oreo or cookie or something." I saw the most beautiful cherries in the market, and I knew what I had to do.

Cherry sorbetto | Recipe


When Rudina saw it, she said I couldn't have done anything more appropriate. Apparently, cherries are a popular fruit in Albania. Yes for guesswork! It was so good too. Elly had the genius idea of pouring a bit of rakia over the sorbet to give it a kick, and by the time dessert was over, the entire bottle of 50% alcohol rakia was gone.

As we lingered over dessert, Rudina told some stories about Albania: how folklore has it that rakia cures just about any disease; how the entire country fell into a pyramid scheme in 1997; and how the house she grew up in is 2,500 years old, older even than the Albanian language. I bet that even back then, they were putting a few eggs into whatever they were cooking.

As promised, some recipes from Rudina.


• 10 italian frying peppers, seeds removed, cut into strips • 1-1/2 cups olive oil • 4-5 big, ripe tomatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces • 1 tablespoon flour • 2 eggs • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced • 1/4 lb feta cheese, cut into small pieces • chili pepper (optional) • crusty bread

Fry peppers in olive oil until soft and brown. Remove them from the pan and place on a plate to cool off. Pour off about a half-cup of the oil and saute tomatoes and garlic slowly until it thickens a bit. While sauteing, beat eggs with flour. Add chili (if using) and cheese. Cook for few more seconds, than add the egg mixture. Cook for 1 minute until the sauce looks thick. The red sauce is put in the middle of the plate and the idea is to deep the peppers to it.


• 1 shallot, minced • 1 kg (a bit over 2 pounds) fresh spinach, cleaned and cut • 5 eggs, beaten • some olive oil, salt and seasonings

Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a large pan, saute the shallots, than add spinach, salt and spices. Cook until the spinach is wilted and some of the water boils off. Put a baking pan in the oven a few minutes before the spinach is ready. Move spinach into baking dish, pour eggs on top, bake for 30-35 minutes.

Filled Eggplants

• 6 pieces of eggplants (smaller the better) • 2 onions • 250 gr minced meat • 3 tomatoes • 1 small can of good tomato sauce • 5-6 cloves garlic, peeled but not minced • 2-3 green peppers • parsley • black pepper • paprika • salt

Clean eggplant by removing the tip end. Peel in stripes, dark stripe – white stripe. Cut the eggplants in the middle and scoop out the bitter inside. Put them in salted water for 45 min. After drying the eggplants with a paper towel, fry them in olive oil. Remove the eggplants and fry the garlic, onion, minced meat, tomatoes and peppers, and add parsley, spices and salt.When done, fill the eggplants and lay them in a oiled baking pan. Add the canned tomato sauce and a glass of water. Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes.

Tavë Kosi • 1 kg of good quality lamb • olive oil • salt • pepper • 1 liter (4 cups) of fatty yogurt, the fattiest you can get • 2 eggs • little rice (a handful, I used about a half tup) • 2 tbs flour

Cut the meat in five or six pieces. (Note: I used lamb stew meat and it turned out great.) Put it in the baking pan with some olive oil, salt, pepper and bake in miedum heat (I did 350 degrees). Just before the meat is ready, add rice with ½ glass of hot water. Mix the rice into the juices and let it cook. In a bowl mix yogurt, eggs and flour. When rice is done, add the yogurt sauce slowly, stirring it in so it doesn't shock. Put it back in the oven for another 10-15 mins until the top begins to firm up, then remove and serve.