When Life Gives You Oranges, Make Marmalade

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Ever heard of a trifoliate orange? Me neither until a few weeks ago when my friends at Prospect Heights Community Farm were generously offering them, and since I never refuse anything even remotely edible, I accepted.

They’re about 1½ inches in diameter, slightly fuzzy, at once both sour and bitter, and contain more seeds than pulp – the very definition of a culinary challenge. I decided to try my hand at improvising marmalade. Since that’s a task I had never attempted, I reasoned that no one could criticize me if the result was less than stellar.

I sliced the peels, added the purported pulp, orange juice and sugar, and repeated the procedure using some sweet Valencia oranges (actual pulp!) to offset the aggressive components, and tossed in a handful of dried cranberries because I had some in the pantry (the reason I incorporate many left-field ingredients into my experiments) then cooked the mixture until it reached a marmalady consistency.

The outcome was surprisingly tasty for a first effort and complemented toasted English muffins and wedges of brie with equal appeal (no pun intended).

BUT: given the frequency of repeated tests involving a touch more of this and a lot more of that, I have quite a bit left over!

So what’s your favorite way to use orange marmalade?

Happy Diwali!

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Dear Friends,

I can no longer keep this to myself. I am an addict, hooked on mithai. What’s that? You don’t know about mithai? Mithai are Indian sweets and since Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, is upon us, I can think of no better time than now to tell you my tale. So gather round your diyas and check out my post “Indian Sweets 101: Meeting Mithai” right here on ethnojunkie.com!
दिवाली मुबारक
Happy Diwali!

Creamed Bacalhau

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To follow up on my last post, no trip to any Seabra’s is complete without a visit to the bacalhau department. Bacalhau (pronounced ba-kal-Yow) is dried, salted cod that’s used in purportedly thousands of recipes in Brazilian/Portuguese cuisine and I recommend that you try it even if you’re not a fan of fish (an afishionado, as it were). As a rule, the larger the Seabra’s, the bigger the seafood department, hence the wider the assortment of bacalhau varieties, provenance, and sizes from small chunks to whole fish. It goes without saying that it has a seriously long shelf life.

I generally purchase enough to make a few dishes like brandade and the creamed bacalhau shown here. It’s simple to execute, doesn’t require much time in the kitchen (i.e., not including a 2–3 day soak in the fridge to rehydrate and desalinate the fish), and is deliciously rewarding.

Here’s an oversimplification of what I did after soaking, rinsing, and draining the fish: Simmer the cod in water until it’s tender (it will break up). While that’s going, sauté chopped onions, garlic, and bell pepper in butter and set aside. Cook the softened cod a bit in more butter – it doesn’t take long. Add some half and half and continue to cook as the fish absorbs the liquid; you may need a few additions until it’s nearly saturated. The idea is to completely soften the fish and have no liquid remaining.

Add the aromatics back to the cod along with some thawed frozen peas and enough heavy cream to reach the consistency you desire. Add freshly ground black pepper, a bit of salt and any other seasonings you like as the spirit moves you. Cook to heat through.

I garnished it with chopped scallions and petits poivrons and plated it with glazed carrots on the side.

Sometimes I think that I could do an ethnojunket to the Ironbound just for Seabra’s, Nasto’s Ice Cream, and Teixeira’s Bakery (all posted on my website if you’re curious). Just a thought. 😉


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I recently returned to Newark’s Ironbound district, the mecca for all things Portuguese and Brazilian. The area is host to six suburban-sized Seabra’s supermarkets all within walking distance of each other – the mother lode of Portuguese and Brazilian food cravings! Since I was traveling solo that day, I and my OCD decided to hit every one in order to compare and contrast.

And it was absolutely worth the exercise, because I struck gold in the form of Brazilian prepared food.

I’ve written here about churrasco, Brazilian style grilled meat; churrascarias often offer rodízio where waiters parade an assortment of meats impaled on formidable skewers directly to your table. So I was more than pleased to see that a couple of the Seabra’s I visited had continually replenished extended steam tables and refrigerated counters brimming with a diversity of grilled meats, seafood, authentic Brazilian dishes and the best pão de queijo I’ve had in a long time.

Item by item, I filled my containers, hastily scribbling notes between each addition in order to subsequently identify and further research it.

I arrived home with my treasures and piled them onto the three plates shown here – not for serving purposes but so that you could see the sheer variety and abundância; obviously, there are considerably more than three meals represented here. Everything was delicious and, more important, a fraction of the cost of venturing out to a churrascaria a few times.

So it wasn’t quite rodízio because I had to serve myself, but it was close enough, hence the title of this post.

And yes, I’m going to do this again. Soon.

Día de los Muertos

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You’ve heard it before: “Oh, Día de los Muertos is Mexican Halloween, right?”

Wrong. Día de los Muertos is decidedly not Mexican Halloween any more than Chanukah is Jewish Christmas – and if any unenlightened soul tries to tell you that, please disabuse them of that fallacious notion inmediatamente!

The Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead, is celebrated from October 31 through November 2 (dates may vary depending upon the locality) – and “celebrated” is the proper word: families congregate to memorialize loved ones who have passed away, but it is seen as a time when the departed temporarily revivify and join in the revelry rather than as a sorrowful occasion. Additionally, these days Día de Muertos, as it is also known, serves as a paean to the indigenous people with whom it originated in pre-Hispanic times.

In the year 1 BC (Before Covid), I headed out to Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to get myself into the Día de los Muertos spirit. Sequin-eyed, neon icing-coiffed calaveras (sugar skulls) are relatively easy to find in the neighborhood; this one came from Panadería La Espiga Real, 5717 5th Avenue. Although spirits don’t eat, this one seemed particularly interested in the pan de muerto I picked up at La Flor de Izucar, 4021 5th Avenue.

This bread of the dead is customarily embossed with bone shapes, sometimes crossbones, sometimes in a circle, and other traditional embellishments such as skulls and a single teardrop. It’s a barely sweet, simple bun (like so many Mexican panes dulces), light and airy with a tight crumb, and topped with sesame seeds or sugar (like this one) with hints of cinnamon, anise, and orange flower water.

Above: A view of the inner sanctum.

Goblin’ Futomaki on Halloween

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Halloween is just around the corner and I wanted to indulge in something that didn’t involve Reese’s Cups, M&M’s, or Kit Kats, so I’ll be goblin’ futomaki that’s decked out in an All Hallows’ Eve costume – I guess that makes it both a trick and a treat. (But, not gonna lie, I’m waiting for the post-holiday sales: just as leftover Thanksgiving dinner tastes better the next day, so does leftover half-price Halloween candy.)

In obeisance to the official black and orange Halloween rubric, the black monstermaki (futomaki means thick or fat roll) is wrapped in nori, its conventional costume, and its orange sidekicks are swathed in soy wrappers that come in five flavors/colors: original soy, sesame, spinach green, turmeric yellow, and paprika orange.

I filled them with kani (krab sticks), avocado, cucumber, strips of sweet kanpyō (dried gourd) and most important, eel because – in keeping with the holiday spirit 👻 – it’s only one letter away from EEK!

And in case you’re wondering – no, I’m not handing out these spookomaki on October 31; the kids are supposed to scare me, not the other way around!


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Qurutob (you might see kurutob) is often said to be the national dish of Tajikistan. Essentially a bread salad (Tajikistan’s answer to Italy’s panzanella, perhaps?), qurutob ascends beyond the level of granting second life to shards from a stale loaf in that it features fresh fatir, a flaky, layered bread that provides the recipe’s foundation.

The distinguishing ingredient is a sauce made from qurut (you might see kurt), balls of dried, salty yogurt about ¾ of an inch in diameter that are crushed and rehydrated in hot water; shreds of bread are torn and soaked in the resulting liquid to form the base of the salad.

The next layer typically consists of tomatoes, cucumbers, onion slices (I sautéed them a bit to soften and sweeten), cilantro and other herbs. Sometimes bits of roasted lamb shank are added, but it’s optional. My garnish of choice was chopped scallion, toasted walnuts, and a few fresh chili peppers.

Mix well and try to get a bit of everything in each bite.

It’s a breeze to make and economical to boot. If you’re curious and you’d like to give it a go, both the bread and qurut are readily available either in Tashkent Market, Brooklyn or in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

(Of course, traveling to Uzbekistan will render the proposition considerably less economical, but you do you. 😉)


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You know about mochi, the popular Japanese rice cake, often sweet but not necessarily, made from glutinous rice pounded into paste.

You might not know about hopia, pastries hailing from the Philippines and Indonesia that can be found with a variety of fillings like ube (purple yam) or sweet bean paste enclosed within either a flaky or a cakey dough.

This product is called Mochipia, a portmanteau of mochi and hopia, both in name and composition. They’re filled with ube/macapuno paste surrounding a chewy mochi center that provides a snackworthy contrasting texture. Macapuno is a cultivar of coconut, sweet and jelly-like in texture, and often found in combination with ube in Filipino snacks because the two flavors are deliciously compatible.

And, of course, we always get some along the way on my Elmhurst food tour. Want to know where? Get the details on my Ethnic Eats in Elmhurst page and sign up to join in the fun!

Spooky Season

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This post is dedicated to someone who loves Spooky Season as much as I love Christmas. Her devotion to all things pumpkin-spice rivals my passion for eggnog. I get it: these ephemeral seasons only come around once a year, and we are obliged to indulge enthusiastically before they evanesce.

But because my focus is all about international treats and since Spooky Szn is as American as apple – er, pumpkin – pie, I’ve never been able to write about it here and still stay within my rubric.

Until now.

I spotted these dim sum at the Main Street level grab-n-go outpost of Royal Queen Restaurant in Flushing. They’re not pumpkin flavored of course and they’re not filled with candy, but they are filled with sweet bean paste so as far as I’m concerned we have an acceptable crossover here.

Couldn’t resist taking a minute to PShop it a bit! 🎃

Herring in Garlic Sauce

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Okay. One more post from my Little Poland explorations. I discovered several brands of herring each offering a number of divergent styles in the refrigerator cases of Polish food markets in Greenpoint. In this case, the brand was Lisner and the style was “in garlic sauce”. Not all of the products were equally enjoyable but this one easily made the cut.

Plated over shiso leaves (yes, I know, but I’m all about multiethnic), I dressed it up with cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced sweet onion and tiny adorable cucamelons, aka Mexican sour gherkins (yes, I know, but I’m all about…), Mediterranean capers (yes, I know, but…) and snipped Chinese garlic chives (yes, I…you get the idea), accompanied by a hyperbuttered toasted poppy seed bagel.

Lots of good eats in this neighborhood!