The Seasoned Traveler

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


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Vegetarian Sushi, Maki-Style

SushiTST2While living in Japan, I grew to love sushi, not only for its fresh flavors but also for the playful variety of colors and textures. When I saw Emma Galloway’s vegetarian sushi tutorial on Food52 last week, I decided to get creative and come up with my own variations. Like Emma, I love avocado + sesame seeds + mayo, so I made that one, then looked to other colors and flavors for inspiration. Beets, asparagus, cucumber, carrot, sprouts and baby lettuces also made great sushi fillings, I discovered. Then I wanted to mimic the texture of that orange roe (fish eggs) you often see atop sushi, so I made little carrot juice bubbles, thickening them with some cornstarch and piping out little spheres and letting them gel in the fridge. It was fun getting playful, creating a feast for both the palate and the eyes. 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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Aromatic Beef Noodles with Cucumber & Mint

BeefNoodleTST6I have a growing collection of international food staples bought online. It started with spices and teas, then expanded to various grains and flours, and then bloomed with an assortment of oils and pastes. My husband barely raises an eyebrow now when he lugs home a 3-lb. jar of coconut oil or a pallet of rice flour and I gleefully add them to my stash. I’ll say, Just wait til you see what I make with this!

This bowl of noodles started with a little jar of tamarind paste that I ordered online. I had just read The Spice Merchant’s Daughter, Christina Arokiasamy‘s tantalizing account (and recipes) of growing up working in her family’s spice stall and kitchen in Malaysia. Her recipes are rich with exotic and aromatic spices and ingredients, including some unfamiliar ones to me, such as tamarind. Then Bon Appétit featured this mouth-watering spicy tamarind skirt steak, and Steve at Oui, Chef followed suit with this deliciousness; I knew I had to give tamarind a try. Continue reading


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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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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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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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Gingery Pork & Chive Pot Stickers

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Dumplings taste better when filled with memories.” ~ From an NPR series, “Dumpling Week.”

First it was NPR’s airing of vignettes about dumplings from around the world that got my memories and taste buds stirring last August. Then in October, fellow blogger Amanda from What’s Cooking ~ Fine Dining My Way posted these jaw-dropping delicious photos and description of her  Chicken & Chive Pot Stickers with Ginger Chili Soy Dip. You could say I’ve had dumplings on the brain for a long time.

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