Two super flavorful and easy international recipes.

Anytime children come home to visit (like this Mother’s Day weekend)  is a good time to teach them a few  simple recipes that they may not be familiar with.  Here are two quick and easy recipes that will help them explore useful flavor combinations so they can begin their own creative culinary discoveries!

This first recipe takes only 15 minutes of prep and baking–manakeesh, or also spelled manaqueesh, and pronounced like  manaeesh.

 You can make your own dough, which  everyone should learn how to make  because it is so satisfying, or to save time, just use frozen naan bread!

Warm up some frozen naan bread for 30 seconds in the microwave, then just spread a mixture of Za’atar and olive oil on top of the bread and bake at 425 for 5-10 minutes– depending on how brown you want them to be.

You can buy Za’atar in any Middle Eastern grocery store, or make your own.  It is a mix of thyme, sesame seeds, sumac and sometimes a few other spices depending on who makes it.

I use equal portions (plus one or two extra teaspoons of olive oil) of Za’atar and olive oil.

bread with zaatar and....

Here is some more information about manakeesh from someone who writes beautifully about Middle Eastern food and culture


The second recipe is called Northeastern Chinese spicy and sour potatoes

A woman I knew from Manchuria taught me how to make these.  They are super delicious and introduce people to the  many uses of vinegar as a major flavor ingredient!

(Prep and cook time ½ hour—serves 2-3 people)


Northeastern Chinese Spicy and Sour Potatoes (Prep and cook time ½ hour—serves 2-3 people


2- 3 peeled potatoes, chopped into thin matchstick size pieces (any kind)

Vegetable oil

Two two-three inch small pieces of ginger–sliced into matchsticks (baby ginger is preferable, but any kind of fresh ginger will do.)

2 cloves garlic

Two-Three tablespoons Rice or White vinegar

Two-three green onions, chopped in half then sliced into thin matchstick type pieces

Two-four small dried red chili peppers (optional, but they add flavor and look good)

1 teaspoons sugar and 1 teaspoon salt


Peel Potatoes and cut potatoes in matchstick sized pieces and place in bowl of cold water.

Peel ginger and slice into matchstick sized pieces.

Heat two tablespoons vegetable oil in pot.

Put peppers into pan and heat for thirty seconds.

Carefully add potatoes, (be careful of oil splashing.)  Cook for 4-5 minutes; add ginger slices and green onion and garlic.  Continue cooking (while stirring) until slices are tender—another 10 minutes.  Sprinkle potatoes with vinegar.  You want them tender.  Some of them might brown, don’t brown all of them.  Add salt and sugar mixture.  Remove from heat and eat—delicious!