International Thanksgiving (Part One) – Last y…


International Thanksgiving (Part One)

Last year, as a writing project for my students of ESOL, I had them bring in a dish from their home country. We had an international tasting, and invited our principals, the superintendent, the neighboring classes, and the other ESOL class. There was so much food – but I was prepared! I brought loads of plastic storage containers, and meticulously transferred the food to those, then washed my students’ containers. Then, my husband and I ate that food over the entire Thanksgiving holiday.

The second part of the exercise was a little less successful. The students were supposed to stand attentively by their parents and take notes on the preparation, or help prepare the dishes themselves, and then we were going to write the recipes down. I even had plans to publish a little cookbook with the recipes in them. Of course, many of my students didn’t do this – I am sure that most of the boys did nothing while their mothers slaved away at the cooking! I went to the internet in search of “model” recipes, so that they would know how to write them. Here are some of the recipes I found.

My favorite dishes were the ones from Iran – and my two students made a LOT of food. My very favorite was the Gormeh Sabzi, but the dish that my student would only call “Makaroni” was also good!

Ghormeh Sabzi (6 servings)


750 grams boneless stewing lamb or beef

1 large onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup of cooking oil

1 teaspoon turmeric

1.5 cups water

1/2 cup dried limes (or fresh lime juice)

3/4 cup black-eye beans or kidney beans

1 large potato, diced (optional)


black pepper

1 cup spring onions, finely chopped

1.5 cups spinach, finely chopped

1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped

1/4 cup coriander, finely chopped (optional)

1/4 cup tareh (garlic chives), finely chopped

1/4 cup shanbelileh (fenugreek), finely chopped (optional)


Trim meat and cut into 2 cm (3/4 inch) cubes. Fry onion over medium heat in half of the oil until golden. Add turmeric and fry for 2 more minutes.

Increase heat, add meat cubes and stir over high heat until meat changes color and begins to turn brown. Reduce heat.

Add water, black-eye or kidney beans, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer gently for 1-1.5 hours hours until meat is tender. Time depends on type of meat used.

Fry potatoes over high heat in the remaining oil until lightly browned. Add to sauce, leaving oil in the pan. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add prepared vegetables to frying pan and fry over medium heat until wilted. Add to sauce, then add dried limes (or lime juice), cover and simmer for further 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve with white rice. An exquisite Iranian dish.

Baked Macaroni With Mixed Vegetables (closest thing to Makaroni I could find)


Macaroni 1 cup

Cabbage 1 cup

Capsicum 1/2 cup

Carrot 1/2 cup

Beans 1/4 cup

Onion 1/2 cup

Maida 1 table spoon

Milk 2 cups

Butter 2 table spoons

Oil 1 table spoon

Processed cheese 2 table spoon(grated)

Tomato ketchup 2 table spoons

Green chilli sauce 1 table spoon (optional)

Salt and white pepper as per taste


Boil the macaroni till tender, drain, run cold water through it add few drops of oil and keep aside.

Finely chop all the vegetables and wash.

Add oil in a pan and put it on fire. Now starting with onions, beans, carrot, capsicum and cabbage, saute all the vegetables.

Add some salt and pepper to vegetables and keep aside.

Now in another pan, add 1 tablespoon butter and put it on a slow stove. Add maida to it, fry for a while then add chilled milk, stir till the mixture becomes little thick.

Remove it from stove and add macaroni, also add all the cheese and some salt and white pepper for seasoning. Now take an appropriate baking dish, grease it and spread half the macaroni mixture in it making the first layer. On top of this, spread all the sauted vegetables, covering them with tomato ketchup and chilli sauce. Now cover it with remaining mixture of macaroni. Dot the mixture with remaining butter and bake it in a very hot oven for about 15-20 minutes or till the top layer becomes golden brown. Your tasty baked macaroni with mixed vegetables is ready to be served.

I also had students from Brazil. They made desserts! I couldn’t get one of them to make a feijoada!

Cocada (coconut candy)

3 cups Sugar

3/4 cup Milk

1/2 cup Corn Syrup

1/4 tsp. Salt

1 TBSP. Lemon Juice

2 cups Grated Coconut

3 TBSP. Butter

Mix the sugar, milk, corn syrup, salt, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Heat until the sugar is dissolved, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 3 minutes until steam dissolves any crystals which may have formed on sides of the pan. Uncover and cook without stirring until it reaches a soft ball stage (238° F.). Remove from the heat. Stir in coconut and butter. Pour into buttered dish. When cool, cut into squares or other shapes and allow to harden.

Brigadeiros (Brigadiers) – they were named after Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes, a very famous Air Force commander from the forties.


1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 stick of butter or margarine (you can use only 1 Tbsp and it will still work out)

2 heaping Tbsp of Nestlé Quick or 1 Tbsp of Quick and 1 of Hershey’s Cocoa

In a heavy saucepan mix chocolate with condensed milk and add the margarine. Cook in low heat stirring constantly until you can see the bottom of the pan. Continue to stir for another two minutes. Pour onto a plate and let cool completely before you form the little balls (I usually leave it in the cupboard until next day). Butter your hands slightly to form the little balls. Roll the balls in chocolate powder or jimmies and put them in small paper cups.

BEIJINHO DE COCO (Coconut fudge candy)


1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

1 cup of grated coconut

½ cup of coconut milk

3 egg yokes

40 cloves to decorate.


Over medium-low heat, stir vigorously the

sweetened condensed milk, grated coconut and egg yokes.

Cook the mixture until it thickens enough to show the pan bottom during stirring.

Pour the mixture in a greased dish and let it cool to room temperature. Take small amounts of the mixture with a teaspoon and make 1 ½ inch balls.

Roll the balls over granulated sugar to decorate and stick a clove on the ball.

Hint: Grease your hands with margarine to make the balls easily.

SERVE: Place the balls in candy cups to serve.

They are great for birthday parties.

SERVING SIZE: 40 candies.

Maracuja Mousse (Passion Fruit Mousse)

Great Summer Dessert!

1 can sweetened condensed milk

same measure of passion fruit juice

3 egg whites

1 envelope of unflavored gelatin

Creme de leite-

2 cups milk

4 egg yolks (the three left from the mousse plus one)

1 cup sugar

6 whole cloves

Blend condensed milk and passion fruit juice. Dissolve gelatin in a cup of water (sprinkle it on water, stir, and let it stand for a minute). Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture. Add gelatin. Wet a ring mold and pour the mousse into it. Refrigerate for 6 hours. Unmold and serve with a creme anglaise, Creme de leite. Its a perfect combination of colors and flavors because the mousse will be on the tart side.

Creme de leite-

Dissolve sugar well in milk. Beat egg yolks slightly with a whisk -or in a pinch with a fork- and add to milk and sugar mixture. Strain the mixture and cook over low heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until it starts to simmer. DO NOT let it boil, it will curdle on you! Refrigerate. To serve, put a slice of mousse on a plate and spoon creme on top. Use the cloves to decorate the plates. Make sure your guests don’t eat them!

I also had a student from India – He finally brought me a dish! It was Pav Bhaji. You can buy ready-made packages of the spice, but here is the recipe:

Pav Bhaji – Makes 4 servings

” This is a very popular recipe in India, liked by almost everyone. You may have to go to a nearby Asian Indian store to get the ‘Pav Bhaji Masala’ that is the special spice to bring the flavor (Masala means spice). Pav is actually the buns. Bhaji is the vegetables cooked with spice. ”


1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

1 teaspoon finely chopped green chile peppers

1 cup chopped onions

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 cup chopped roma (plum) tomatoes

2 cups cauliflower, finely chopped

1 cup chopped cabbage

1 cup green peas

1 cup grated carrots

4 potatoes, boiled and mashed

3 tablespoons pav bhaji masala

salt to taste

1 tablespoon lemon juice

8 (2 inch square) dinner rolls

1/2 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon finely chopped green chile peppers

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


1. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Saute garlic and green chile for 30 seconds, then stir in onions and ginger. Cook until onions are brown. Add tomatoes, and cook until pasty. Stir in cauliflower, cabbage, peas, carrots and potatoes. Season with pav bhaji masala. Cover, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt, and stir in lemon juice.

2. Toast the dinner rolls, and spread lightly with butter. Serve garnished with chopped onion, green chile and cilantro.

Spices (pav bhaji masala):

Red chili powder, 1.5 tsp

Coriander powder, 2 tsp

Turmeric powder, 1/4 tsp

Garam masala, 1 tsp

Cumin (jeera)seeds, 1/2 tsp

Amchur (mango powder) 1 tsp

Cloves, 5, cut into fine pieces

Hing (Asafoateda), 1 small grain or powder

Salt to taste

I am going to share the Mexican recipes in my next entry, but I had one Peruvian student who brought this unusual chicken soup with whole boiled eggs and pasta in it. I couldn’t find the exact recipe – he brought chopped scallions and toasted corn (corn nuts?) to garnish the soup with. Here is a recipe for a chicken soup:

Peruvian Chicken Soup


2 ½ lbs. chicken quartered

2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 6 pieces

6 tablespoons rice, rinsed and drained

1 stalk celery

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon salt

8 1/2 cup of water

1/2 cup of frozen mixed vegetables (diced carrots, cut green beans, whole corn kernels)

1/2 bunch cilantro

Pepper and Lime juice, optional

Steps: Bring chicken, potatoes, rice, celery, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 8 cups of water to boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until chicken is tender, stirring every 15 minutes. Add frozen mixed vegetables. Process cilantro and remaining 1/2 cup water in blender. Stir into soup mixture. Remove soup from heat. Remove chicken and celery stalk. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones. Discard skin, bones and celery stalk. Return chicken meat to soup. Bring soup to simmer over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes. Add remaining 2 teaspoons salt and pepper to taste


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