Chipotle Shrimp Salad in Tortilla Cups

Cocktail FoodI found this recipe in Cocktail Food: 50 Finger Foods with Attitude, which we bought on a whim at the Williams-Sonoma outlet one day.  (A fantastic book, by the way — highly recommended.)  I made it in 2008 for an office party at the State Department, and it received rave reviews.  We soon moved on to our new assignment in Moscow, and my wife wowed many of her catering customers with this recipe.  When we returned to Washington in 2011, a colleague from the Department noticed my name on an e-mail and wrote to me, not having seen me in almost four years, and remembered the shrimp cups from that office party. Continue reading


Chicken en Mole Poblano

MoleWhen I was growing up in Texas, many years ago, my favorite cuisine was Tex-Mex, and we had many different Tex-Mex restaurants to choose from.  One of the more popular venues was El Chico, a family-owned establishment that started in Dallas in 1940 and has since expanded to almost 100 restaurants across the country, and even to Cairo, Riyadh, and Dubai.  Mariano Martinez, the owner of Mariano’s Mexican Cuisine in Dallas and Arlington, learned Mexican cooking from his grandmother, Gabina Cueller Gamez, one of El Chico’s founders. According to the January 1993 issue of Texas Highways magazine:

Mariano’s favorite family Christmas dish is Chicken en Mole Poblano, a variation of the national dish of Mexico. Chocolate provides the special ingredient of the spicy sauce. Mole recipes abound, but Mariano’s wife, Wanda, likes to flavor her sauce with chili powder, dried red pepper, and sesame seeds. The Martinezes serve the dish with rice, homemade pork tamales, picadillo, flour tortillas, and a salad of tossed greens and tomatoes. Fruitcake and buñuelos complete the feast. Continue reading

Spinach, Onion, and Feta Quiche

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you really want to impress your guests for Sunday brunch, this is it! I first found this recipe in an NPR article. On September 13, 2009, I had the time and a good excuse to make it. And it was unbelievably fabulous. I’m reprinting the recipe below exactly as it appeared, but with photos of my own result. Instead of the standard Quiche Lorraine, I decided to go for a meatless combination and substituted a mixture inspired by my wife’s family spanakopita recipe: 10 oz. of frozen spinach, thawed and with all water squeezed out; 2 medium-sized onions, chopped finely and sautéed in butter over medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes; a cup (or a little less) of crumbled feta cheese; 3 chopped scallions, and 2 teaspoons of oregano. I used this mixture in place of the bacon-onion combination in the original recipe, layering it inside the pre-baked crust together with the custard mixture and a cup of grated Emmentaler cheese. (The recipe calls for a half cup, but I doubled it because I like cheese.) Also, because I was a bit pressed for time, I didn’t chill it for eight hours after baking as the recipe recommends. But I didn’t notice that the end result was any less scrumptious. Continue reading

Chocolate Truffle Tart

Photo: Romulo Yanes

Photo: Romulo Yanes

We first tried this recipe while we were posted in Tashkent in early 2007.  We pulled the recipe from the February 2007 issue of Gourmet magazine and made it with locally available Russian bittersweet chocolate bars and chocolate cookies from Turkey.  This tart has a creamy, almost pudding-like center.  Choosing a quality brand of bittersweet chocolate (like Valrhona) results in more well-rounded flavor and the silkiest possible texture. Continue reading

The Ultimate Thai Dinner

52400_1647272182930_3475421_oOn October 9, 2010, my brother-in-law and I ventured out into the dark streets of Bangkok in search of a remarkable dinner.  We found it at Chote Chitr (pronounced, roughly, “Choat Chit”), a divine hole in the wall at 146 Prang Pu Thorn, Tanao Road.  It was a bit hard to find.  We had to call the place in advance and have them give directions to our cab driver.  But the experience was well worth the journey. Continue reading