Friday, October 17, 2014

Around the World in 14 Dishes

What do flan, french fries, brisket, and empanadas have in common? 

Well, to most people, probably nothing (and they probably sound gross all together). 

But, for my group at work, they have a lot in common! They represent our very unique and diverse team! 

While at work recently, we thought: "Hey, our team really has a lot of diverse people with different backgrounds, we should celebrate that! And by celebrate, I mean how about we plan a potluck and eat tons of food that we all love." 

That is how the Around the World Potluck was conceived.

And today, it was executed. About 15 people from out team came together over a lunch of delicious foods from all over the world to share recipes, stories, some laughs and an overall great time! The food was amazing and I was seriously impressed by people's cooking and baking skills! Some folks were all about grandma's receipes ... others just threw ingredients together and made it work (i.e. the girl who made flan ... FLAN ... seriously impressed by someone who can make flan without a recipe and without measuring things out!). 

Since I am 100% Romanian, I made the only Romanian thing I can do on my own - Salata de Vignette. Eggplant Salad. Super easy to make and it is really healthy, low cal, a great snack, easy to make in bulk, and refreshing. Particularly great in summer. And it is always a staple at the holiday table. (Recipe include at the bottom of this post)

Here was the menu. Now you can see why I was in a total food coma all afternoon ... and totally impressed by people!

Salata de Vignette (Eggplant Salad)
Greek Orzo, Tomato and Feta Salad
Jamaican Beef Patties
Jamaican Empanadas

BBQ Brisket
Italian Aioli pasta
Smoked knockwurst with sauerkraut

Colombian Arepas with Cheese
Nigerian Jollof Rice
Cuban Tostones
French Fries
Mac & Cheese

Coconut Flan
Graham Cracker Toffee
Sweet Potato Pie

Assorted Mexican drinks (soda, horchata, agua de jamaica, etc)

Brisket, mac & cheese, sausages, rice, fries, pasta .... oh my!
Yup, those are McDonald's fries ... FRENCH fries. Get it? The woman of our team who is of French descent (and has proclaimed herself a "non-cook" brought that in). Good idea!
This was mine - Salata de Vignete (Eggplant Salad). Super duper easy ... recipe at the bottom of this post. 
Sausages and sauerkraut from the best place in the city - Kramarczuk's.
That flan was AMAZING! And she made it with no recipe ... just "threw it together". Well done!
Totally indulged and had the classic Mecican Coke.

So, for the vignette. Super easy recipe and it's really refreshing and very light and diet friendly!

2-4 whole eggplants (really as many as you want)
Purple onion (tablespoon size quantity)
Mayo with olive oil
Tomatoes, bread and/or crackers to serve

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Bake whole eggplants on cookie sheet for 2 hours (like photo below)
  3. Prepare a cutting board on the edge of kitchen sink with towels rolled under one end so it is angled into the sink
  4. Slit eggplants open and use a spoon to scoop out the eggplant's insides - make sure you do not take any of the skin with you - it will create a bitter taste in the final dish!
  5. Spread insides onto cutting board and let water seep out and into sink
  6. Allow eggplant insides to dry overnight
  7. Using a food processor, mix eggplant insides, small amount of purple onion and mayo until well blended into smoothie-like consistency. Add additional mayo and purple onion as desired for taste.

You can serve this just in a bowl with crackers and/or bread ... or you can do what I did in my photo! Take small tomatoes (the ones at Costco are the perfect size) and cut off the top and scoop out interiors leaving hollow tomato bowl. Scoop vinette into hollow tomato cups. Ta-da ... instant (and deceptively easy) appetizer that everyone will love! It looks and tastes very unique ...

Spread them out on the cookie sheet. No other prep needed. Might want to cover them all with some aluminum foil just in case one bursts, to prevent the oven from getting dirty. 
Yummy! And pretty to serve. 

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