The Seasoned Traveler

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


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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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Creamy Pasta with Salmon, Asparagus & Peas

PastaSalmonTSTI love wholesome dinners that come together in under 30 minutes and use fresh seasonal produce. I can’t get enough of asparagus! Here it’s cooked up quickly with the pasta and combined with pan-seared salmon, peas (I used frozen, since we don’t have spring peas yet), and a creamy tarragon sauce. This one is easy enough for a weeknight (even our pre-schooler ate seconds!) but fancy enough for a special occasion.

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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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Pappardelle with Pork Rib Ragù

RaguTST2It’s rare that something I cooked myself will bring me to tears. Unless I’ve ruined it. But in this case, my tears welled up at the first bite of this pappardelle with pork rib ragu because it brought back a flood of happy memories in Tuscany, sipping incredible wine and enjoying plates of pasta and cinghiale, wild boar. Since I lack any connections to wild boar hunters at the moment, this is probably the closest I’ll get to pappardelle al cinghiale in my kitchen. The recipe is easy, in that it doesn’t require any fancy technique, but it does require a good 3 hours to slowly braise the ribs in red wine until the meat falls off the bone. It’s even better if you can let it rest overnight, letting the flavors meld, and just re-heat for the final seasoning with balsamic vinegar and tossing with the pasta the next day. Goes nicely with a Tuscan dry red like Sangiovese, Montepulciano red, or Brunello di Montepulciano. Enjoy!

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Wine-Braised Beef, Carrot, Daikon & Mushrooms

BraisedBeefTSTSpring’s dance has begun. She steps forward, beaming and bright; she retreats behind a sudden gust of cold air and mist. After a stretch of warm, sunny days, we have a chill in the air, another forecast of cold rain & snow. There’s still time before we put away the heavy blue dutch oven, still time to enjoy another comforting and hearty braise.

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Cardamom-Coconut Rice Pudding with Mangoes & Nigella Seeds / Films for Foodies & Lovers

CardamomCocoRicenMango You could say I’m on a bit of a mango kick lately. And coconut. Oh, and rice. So when I was dreaming up something I could bring to the online blog party that is Fiesta Friday, hosted by the lovely Angie over at The Novice Gardener, this is what came to mind. It’s a bowl of tropical sunshine and comfort to get you through another February weekend, with or without a valentine. My inspiration came from (wait for it…) Yotam Ottolenghi (I know! I have to stop stalking him, I really do…) and his Cinnamon Rice Pudding with Cherry Compote and Pistachios, but I did it minus the cinnamon, the cherry compote, and the pistachios! But I have rice, and it’s kind of pudding-like, so there you go. It’s a coconut-mango sticky rice with a touch of cardamom and a little sprinkle of nigella seeds, both of which add a subtle peppery flavor. It’s simple, delicious, and apparently makes you loopy. Continue reading


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Seared Scallops with Coconut, Mango & Kiwi

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My husband and I once traveled to a remote coastal town in Maine in search of the perfect seared scallops. Unfortunately for us, the chef was having an off night, and so the pinnacle of our scallop-tasting experiences eluded us.

But now, it just might be here, in these butter-seared scallops with a trifecta of sauces: coconut cream infused with lemongrass and ginger, a puree of mango and lime juice, and a kiwi puree. And just in time for Valentine’s Day! I hope you make this and enjoy it with your favorite one(s).

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“Jerusalem” Roasted Chicken with Clementines & Ouzo

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My new Jerusalem cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi enchants and entices me on every page. Somehow the authors manage to transform traditional and familiar dishes from Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine into even more delicious, vibrant, and novel flavor combinations. We had the roasted chicken with clementines last night (substituting ouzo for arak), and it was sensational! The recipe heaps on intense anise seasonings from fennel, fennel seed, and the anise-scented liquor, but in the roasting process, it imparts just a subtle anise note with an enormous punch of wowing flavor. My tastebuds were dancing at each bite of tender and delicious chicken — slightly charred but moist — the softened fennel, the hints of thyme, and the delightfully bittersweet slices of clementines, peel and all.

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Seared Duck Breasts with Cherry & Red Wine Sauce

IMG_6545I’m not sure I can convey how phenomenal this dish is. Consider this: We’ve made it about 20 times since discovering the recipe on Williams-Sonoma’s site a few years ago. It was our Christmas dinner last year AND our New Year’s feast. And yes, we are having it again this Christmas!

Oh, we are having it again this Christmas and I cannot wait. Probably New Year’s too, let’s just get it out there now.

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