The Seasoned Traveler

Recipes and remedies using herbs, spices, and other natural ingredients from the world's pantry


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Pork & Scallop Shumai (Open-Faced Dumplings)

ShumaiSquare3TSTEarlier this year, when I made Gingery Pork & Chive Pot Stickers, I declared 2014 The Year of the Dumpling. As a second foray into making these bite-sized morsels, I tackled another favorite of mine, shumai (in Japanese) or shãomài (in Chinese). I roughly followed Andrea Nguyen’s lovely recipe for pork-based dumplings (from her exquisite Asian Dumplings cookbook) except combined the pork with scallop to create more of a Yokohama-style shumai that I loved from my time in Japan (true Yokohama style also uses shrimp in the mix). Continue reading

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Chinese-Style Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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To me, the ideal summer meal comes together relatively quickly without turning on the oven. These chicken lettuce wraps are just that; the most labor-intensive part is in chopping all the fresh produce, and then it cooks up in less than 15 minutes on the stovetop. It’s a wonderful family dinner or summer party finger food. I love the vibrant colors and flavors here, especially the kick of ginger and sweet hoisin sauce and the subtle notes of orange. Some lightly sautéed bell pepper and crushed peanuts give it some lovely crunch. I use romaine lettuce as I think it stands up better than traditional iceberg to hold all that delicious filling inside and to me has more flavor. Make these fresh & vibrant chicken lettuce wraps and you won’t ever crave the Chinese restaurant ones again! Continue reading


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Beet, Carrot & Goat Cheese Stack with Chive-Pistachio Pesto

BeetStackTSTI believe there’s some wisdom in the mantra, “Eat Your Colors,” and this little stack of goodness embraces it. Just the sight of these colorful layers of earthy red beet, crisp grated carrot, soft melt-in-your-mouth goat cheese and a drizzle of chive-pistachio pesto energizes me. As an appetizer, lunch, or side dish, this is one mighty tower of wholesome goodness. Have you filled your plate with colors today? Continue reading


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Meatball Sliders with Basil Marinara

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Just a little something for the weekend — these meatball sliders can be prepared ahead of time on the stovetop and could feed a crowd while you fire up the grill and get sides and salads ready. The meatballs are super soft and moist on the inside so they’re easy to scrunch down in a sandwich roll. I like them smothered in marinara sauce and garnished with mozzarella and extra fresh basil leaves.  I hope the crowd at Fiesta Friday enjoys them. Happy weekend, everyone!

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No-Knead Artisan Olive & Herb Bread

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Olive lovers, you know how when you buy a loaf of olive bread, there are never enough olives in there? I have a solution: make your own at home! I assure you, it’s not that hard. (And if you don’t like olives, you can still make your own bread with different flavorings of your choice.) For this recipe you do need an oven-proof pot with a tight-sealing lid that will withstand 450 F/ 230 C degree heat. I use my 5.5-quart Le Creuset dutch oven and it works like a charm. You just mix everything together the night before, let the yeast do its magic overnight, then plop it in a preheated pot and cook. It comes out crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside, and (my version, at least) loaded with olives and herbs. It’s the only bread recipe you’ll ever need (and never knead)!

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Mediterranean Eggplant, Spinach & Ricotta Rolls

EggplantTSTThis dish is our new favorite for a Meatless Monday, because for relatively little effort, we can have a rich, wholesome, flavorful meal that doesn’t leave us missing meat. And by “us” I mean my husband. My dear carnivore loves his steaks and this kind of meal, and rarely does he feel satisfied without a little meat. Except with this dish. I think it’s because of the rich texture of the eggplant. I love it because of all the flavors reminiscent of the Mediterranean, with fresh and dried herb seasonings, and creamy ricotta and spinach that oozes out of these little eggplant rolls. The tomato sauce is simple and rustic, and the whole meal comes together in about 40 minutes. We’ll be making this again for a meatless meal any day of the week!

For more eggplant ideas, check out Nancy’s delicious Eggplant Stacks at Feasting with Friends, as well as Johnny’s delectable Eggplant Slices in Spiced Batter at Kitschnflavours and Elaine’s lovely Baba Ganoush at Foodbod. I know I’ve probably left out other great eggplant recipes I’ve seen lately – please feel free to add your favorite eggplant links in the comments. Enjoy!

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Steamed White Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce, Chervil & Ham

AsparagusTSTIt’s a little early for asparagus here in Germany, though buds are blossoming and fair-weather birds have returned, but we’re getting imported white asparagus from Greece with purple hues at their tips. Once steamed, the fat white spears turn buttery soft and sweet and go so nicely with a heaping of rich and lemony hollandaise sauce (made super easy with an immersion blender), a sprinkling of herbs (I used chervil here, but chives work well too) and coils of sliced ham. A plateful of flavors to usher in a glorious asparagus season!

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Tabouleh-Stuffed Globe Zucchinis with Mint & Sumac Yogurt Sauce

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Two things I love about Middle Eastern cuisine are stuffed vegetables and fresh herb-filled salads like tabouleh. When I found some beautiful little globe zucchinis, I thought about combining these two loves into one — zucchinis stuffed with tabouleh. This way, I can have my bowl of tabouleh, and eat it too!

It made for a striking presentation, and was quite simple to prepare. I’m going to try this out sometime at a dinner party; it would be a great accompaniment to grilled meat or kebabs — easy for the host to assemble, and fun for the guests to eat. It might also be good to serve vegetarian guests or as part of a whole vegetarian spread.

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