Immigrant Kitchens (10)

Fall window for a favorite Mexican dish

On a recent Thursday I was delighted to find gorgeous poblano peppers at Andrew’s Farm stand at the Yarmouth Farmers’ Market. Shining with earthly energy, they reminded me something that a Mexican chef once taught me: September through November is the best time of year to cook chiles en nogada. It’s a Mexican classic: deep fried poblano chili peppers stuffed with pork, thyme, apple, and plantains, and topped with walnut cream sauce, fresh parsley, and…

Sampling pastel de choclo: Grinning ear to ear

Three Chileans taught me how to make their favorite dish from Santiago, Chile, called pastel de choclo.   Benjamin Sepulveda, a Chilean high school student on exchange at Casco Bay High School, admitted that this was the first time he was cooking the dish by himself. “I have watched my mother and grandmother do this a million times. It’s not something we cook alone, only with family.” Javiera Alvarez, a student on exchange at Freeport…

Freedom chicken

Parivash Rohani heard about Immigrant Kitchens from a friend and reached out to see if she could be involved. In her Portland home, she taught me how to make her favorite Iranian dish, called fesenjoon, which is chicken breast in a sweet and sour sauce. It’s like Persian bar-b-q sauce without the tomato base. Ground walnuts give the sauce body, richness, and a touch of bitterness. Pomegranate molasses adds dark red color and pungency. Fesenjoon…

Immigrant Kitchens: Armenian cooking secrets: Arabic music and a tablespoon of rose water

When my physical therapist, Amin Saab, in Brunswick heard about my quest to learn a dish from every country in the world, he connected me with his Armenian mother in Cape Cod. In August, she and I sat together on her back porch, overlooking a beach packed with orange parasols. Over the sounds of distant waves crashing and kids playing, Maggie Saab told me the story of the foods she was about to teach me…

Immigrant Kitchens: From the mountains of Colombia, a revelatory soup

Leonor Londono McGinn, the Colombian-American grandmother of my daughter’s schoolmate, taught me how to make her favorite food from her childhood. It’s a popular soup called sancocho, made with chicken broth, carrots, celery, whole sections of corn on the cob, whole pieces of bone-in chicken, and big chunks of potatoes, yuca root, and green plantains. My favorite part was the slices of avocado and fresh cilantro on top. After forty years of serving avocado room…

Shoulder surgery leads to food discovery

You never know who might have a delicious immigrant recipe from around the world in their back pocket. Two weeks after shoulder surgery (rotator cuff), I was headed into my physical therapy appointment when I noticed my physical therapist’s name under his picture on the wall. It wasn’t a name I’d ever seen before. As he guided me in stretches and exercises that ranged from mildly to severely uncomfortable, we chatted to take my mind…

Sour, potent and tender: Stories, taste of Serbian stuffed cabbage

I never know how I’m going to find my next immigrant-cooking teacher. This month I was getting my teeth cleaned when my dental hygienist told me about a Serbian friend who owns a bakery. Soon I was heading to a different kind of tooth appointment, turning left off Riverside Street onto 302, looking for building number 800. There was a sign for “World Cake Bakery” in front of a two-story cape. Next to the garage…

Smoked potato soup: a Russian family tradition

The first time my Russian cooking teacher, Alla Zagoruyko, tasted smoked potato soup was at her family’s summerhouse in Tver, Russia. The house was a simple log cabin with moss stuffed between the logs. Down by the river, someone had built a wood fire to heat the banya, the family’s traditional Russian steam house. Wood smoke wafted with the smells of summer — young green leaves, grasses and chives and parsley in the garden.
Subscribe to this RSS feed