This week, I've invited guests to join me in traveling to five countries. While we won't be actually jetting on a plane and heading to each destination, five rooms in my house will be transformed into a specific theme based around each country. The rooms will have unique decor, music, food, and drinks. In the Mexican themed room I'll fill huge bowls with multi colored tortilla chips and homemade salsa. A large mortar and pestle will hold just mashed guacamole. I'll take help from the grocery store or local Japanese restaurant for the Japanese themed room, and offer platters of various types of sushi: California rolls, spicy tuna rolls, assorted sashimi, etc. Order whatever you and your friends like. Offer guests a classic bite of Russia with cornmeal blinis and caviar in the Russian themed room. To take a culinary journey around the world in your very own home,

From Simply Recipes

2-3 medium sized fresh tomatoes (from 1 lb to 1 1/2 lb), stems removed, finely diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeño chili pepper (stems, ribs, seeds removed), finely diced
1 serrano chili pepper (stems, ribs, seeds removed), finely diced
Juice of one lime
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: oregano and or cumin to taste

  1. Start with chopping up 2 medium sized fresh tomatoes.
  2. Prepare the chilies. Be very careful while handling these hot peppers. If you can, avoid touching them with your hands. Use a fork to cut up the chilies over a small plate, or use a paper towel to protect your hands. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling and avoid touching your eyes for several hours. Set aside some of the seeds from the peppers. If the salsa isn't hot enough, you can add a few for heat.
  3. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Taste. If the chilies make the salsa too hot, add some more chopped tomato. If not hot enough, carefully add a few of the seeds from the chilies, or add some ground cumin.
  4. Let sit for an hour for the flavors to combine.

Makes approximately 3-4 cups.

Modified from Avocado Central

4 Hass Avocados, peeled and pitted
2 lemons, juiced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
¼ Cup cilantro, chopped
¼ Cup green onion, diced
¼ tsp ground cumin
1-2 Jalapeño, seeded and all of them minced
Salt and chile powder to taste

  1. Place avocados in a large bowl and mash them.
  2. Add lemon juice and mix well.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and serve with tortilla chips.

Serves 12.

Cornmeal Blini with Caviar
From Chow

1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
Vegetable oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons salmon caviar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Osetra caviar
2 cups crème fraîche
1 bunch chives, finely chopped
30 small fresh chervil leaves

  1. Heat the oven to 250°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, and salt and stir well to mix. Add the egg and milk, and mix until smooth.
  3. Heat a heavy griddle or skillet over medium heat until hot, then brush with oil. Using a spoon and working in small batches, drop 1-tablespoon-size dollops of batter into the skillet. When bubbles form evenly on the top of the blini, turn (just once) and cook the blini until golden.
  4. Transfer the first batch of cooked blini to a heatproof plate lined with paper towels and keep warm, covered, in the oven.
  5. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  6. To serve, top each warm blini with 1 tablespoon crème fraîche, 1 teaspoon salmon caviar, 1/2 teaspoon of Osetra caviar, a pinch of chives, and a chervil leaf. Serve immediately.

Makes 30 blini.

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