With the arrival of more temperate weather -- and sun -- in North Texas, it seems fitting to put away the recipes for hearty comfort food and begin to experiment with new flavors and the fresh options that spring will usher in. It's also time to start planning the garden. But, with the games of the Winter Olympics occupying our minds and our evenings this week, it's appropriate to try out some simple, easy recipes with an international flair to celebrate the competition taking place in Sochi.
The games are colorful and fun to watch. Media attention on the preparation, the skill, the determination and the sportsmanship of the athletes is educational and entertaining, and the competition is exciting.
It's an event that comes seldom enough that we feel no guilt eating in front of the TV at least several times during the season -- and, at the very least, it's nice to have some unusual snacks to enjoy later in the evening while awaiting the standings and medal presentations.
Watching the disappointing performance of the Jamaican bobsled team brought to mind memories and familiar flavors of that island nation, and sparked an interest in exotic spices. So, here's a simple recipe combining the best of those flavors while providing a quick, simple, nutritious, delicious family meal.
Jamaican Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa: Prepare all in advance to allow the flavors to meld. Grill the chicken at the last minute, and serve with rice and peas, or with grilled vegetables. Later in the evening, how about vanilla ice cream complemented by bananas and caramel sauce?
Need some great snacks? Try smoked salmon served the Nordic way, on rye or flatbread, with a dollop of sour cream and capers; or buy bagels and pile the halves with cream cheese, topped by lox, onion and tomato. A third alternative: roll slivers of smoked salmon into suchi rolls with green onion and avocado; serve with pickled ginger, wasabi and a bit of soy for dipping.
Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels: With a bread machine, a little time and the goal of winning raves for your efforts, baking these pretzels will win you the gold for sure. Perhaps a Saturday project with the kids, these require some care, but they are great!
The games in Sochi fueled visions of Russia in the winter; and also visions of borscht, blinis and piroshkis -- if you want to try some authentic dishes, you'll find great recipes on this site, as well as history and additional insights into the culture.
For simple, however, this one can't be beat! Russian Eggs with Horseradish Sauce: Quick and delicious! This is a keeper for summer barbecues and family buffets, as well.
You can search the web for your own finds -- we know there's a whole world of recipes, and as many ways to celebrate the Olympics as there are nationalities in the competition. We think it's a wonderful way to come together every two years. Here's to the athletes -- the winners and the losers!