The Proven Platter, Mali

Hello Diners!

We may not be physically traveling to Mali this month, but we are still able to taste and participate in the local cuisine right here at our own dining tables.

Here is a wonderful recipe that is representative of a typical meal. My husband stood at the stove, eating right out of the pot, and was already telling me that I had to make this again! This dish should please anyone with dietary requirements, as it is vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free. Details


The Proven Platter – Cambodia

Hello Diners!

This month we’ll be paying a visit to Cambodia and cooking up some breakfast. Breakfast for dinner, you ask? What is Linda thinking? Well, I’m thinking that Bai Sach Chrouk (grilled pork served with pickled vegetables and rice) sounds like a mighty fine dinner to me. Although, in Cambodia, this is a very popular breakfast, served up on the streets of the capital, and it’s hard to find this dish past 9 o’clock in the morning.

In the streets of Cambodia, you will find this dish everywhere, slowly grilled outdoors over charcoal. Since it’s winter right now, we’ll just have to take it indoors and try using a grill pan, or, alternatively, you can broil the pork.

The dish usually comes with a bowl of warm chicken broth, too. You dip a bite of pork and rice into the broth, and then have a taste of the bracing pickles. I did not serve mine with chicken broth, but I did reduce the marinade from the meat which made a delicious sauce.

I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions about this month’s recipe, or comments. You can contact me at


Cambodian Grilled Pork with Pickled Vegetables (Bai Sach Chrouk)

Serves 4

I’ve used country-style boneless pork ribs for this dish, but pork shoulder will work as well. The ribs come in manageable pieces, you’ll have to further cut them into half-inch slices. If you use a whole chunk of pork shoulder or butt, you’ll cut the meat into half-inch slices, but you may have to further cut them lengthwise if the slices are too wide.

For a vegetarian version of this dish I would imagine you could substitute tofu for the pork and it would be delicious. Just cut the tofu into sticks, marinate, and bake in the oven, turning over once, until the tofu caramelizes and starts to sizzle.

I like to use a short grain white rice for serving with this dish, as it sticks together well and makes the whole thing easy to eat.


For the Pork

1 cup coconut milk

3 cloves garlic, crushed

3 tbsp. palm sugar (the equivalent of one disc, melted), or brown sugar

3 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tbsp. fish sauce

Juice of 1 lime

Freshly ground black pepper

1 lb. boneless country style pork ribs, or boneless pork shoulder, thinly sliced, about ½” thick

Cilantro leaves for garnish


Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and add the pork strips. Marinate for one hour, or as long as overnight.

Remove the meat from the marinade and save it. Grill the pork in a grill pan on top of the stove, or broil it, turning once until you can see grill marks and it looks like the meat is beginning to caramelize.

Bring the marinade to a boil and boil for at least a minute to make the reduction safe to eat, add a splash of water if it is boiling away too fast.

Cut the meat into thin strips and serve with rice and pickled vegetables. Pour the sauce over the meat and garnish with cilantro leaves.


For the Pickled Vegetables

½ cup rice vinegar

¼ cup sugar

1 tbsp. salt

splash of fish sauce

2 mini Persian cucumbers, about 5 oz.

1 chunk daikon radish, about 4 oz., or substitute regular radishes

1 medium carrot

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1 birds eye chile, sliced fine

1 red fresno chile, sliced fine


Into a small saucepan add vinegar, sugar, salt, and fish sauce, bring to a simmer, or until the sugar is dissolved, let the vinegar cool. Slice the cucumbers, radish, and carrot into julienne strips. Combine the vegetables, garlic and chiles in a bowl. Pour marinade over. Place the vegetables in a jar to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.


Recipe adapted from: Cambodian Cooking, by Joannès Rivière

Photo credit: Megan McElroy

RECIPES-1216 - Daraba

The Proven Platter – Chad

Hello Diners!

The Republic of Chad, located in northern Central Africa, is the subject of our focus and our dining destination this month.

Okra is one of the most commonly consumed vegetables there. It is used both to thicken sauces and as a vegetable used in preparation of soups and stews. I suppose you either love okra or hate it, but as it happens, I love it! And since I’ve yet to post a recipe calling for okra, I think okra’s time in the spotlight has come.

We’ll be making a stew called “Daraba,” a vegetarian okra and sweet potato stew. If you have unpleasant childhood memories of eating canned gumbo soup and trying to avoid the weird looking okra pieces floating around in it, I hope this recipe will put okra back in your good graces!

There were several recipes on the internet for Daraba, and they all basically said to dump the vegetables into the pot, cover with water, boil, add peanut butter to finish; done. That’s OK, but I really like to coax a little flavor out of each vegetable, and I think it’s worth taking a little extra time and care with your ingredients. I’ve included extra steps for sautéing each vegetable separately, and then completing the soup.

I’d also like to direct your attention to last month’s Around the World Appetizer Party. If your group didn’t meet in November but are meeting in December that would be a really fun option for your meeting.

Appetizer party recipes:

Spice Crusted Sweet Potato WedgesAfrica
Easy SamosasIndia
Sweet Chocolate TamalesGuatemala
Shaking BeefVietnam
Mexican Shrimp Cocktail  Mexico
Afghan Eggplant Dip  Afghanistan
Peruvian Lime-Marinated Raw Fish  Peru
Nepalese Lentil Patties  Nepal
Lamb Flatbread Jordan
Peruvian Caramel Cookie Sandwiches Peru
Peanut Chicken Skewers Niger


Sweet Potato and Okra Stew (Daraba) (Tested)

Serves 6

This is a wonderful vegetarian stew that is so easy to make. In about 30 to 40 minutes you’ll be sitting down to a delicious, comforting stew. The peanut butter stirred in at the end really brings all the components of the stew together. Serve with white rice if you like.


2 tbsp. oil

1 medium onion, chopped, about 2 cups

1 Asian eggplant, skin on, diced, about 2 cups

3 small tomatoes, diced, about 2 cups

1 large sweet potato, diced, about 2 cups

1 beef or chicken bouillon cube

2 to 3 tsp. salt

¼ to ½ tsp. crushed chile flakes

20 fresh okra, sliced, or 1 ½ cups frozen

4 cups Swiss chard, chopped, about ½ bunch

½ cup peanut butter


Sauté onion in one tablespoon of oil for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and then the eggplant, saute for another 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, and cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. Add the sweet potato, along with 5 cups of water. Add the spices and simmer for 15 minutes. Add okra and greens and simmer for 5 minutes. Put the peanut butter into a small mixing bowl and add ½ cup hot water, stir to blend the peanut butter into a smooth paste, and add to the soup. Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve along with white rice.


Recipe and photo credit: Linda McElroy


The Proven Platter — Holiday Appetizer Party

Hello Diners!

I’ve got lots of good recipes coming your way this month. I thought I’d share with you a tradition that we have started with my group. Every year in either November or December, depending on what month we are meeting, we plan what we call our “holiday appetizer party.” Initially the idea was to bring a favorite appetizer, or bring an appetizer that you were thinking of trying out for the holidays. There is no better audience for feedback than our enthusiastic DFW members!

It has proved to be really successful and fun. There’s less emphasis on planning a meal and the meeting is a little more casual. We pretty much snack and talk and discuss the whole evening.

Of course, you can bring any type of appetizer you like. But I thought it would be fun, and in keeping with our world mission to plan an “Around the World Appetizer Party!” Details


The Proven Platter – Mali

Hello Diners!

We are off to Mali this month, located in West Africa, in support of the Tandana Foundation. Their Women LEAP program provides literacy and numeracy training, as well as democratic governance and leadership skills.

Often, the program we are supporting will send us recipes that are rooted in their culture. This month we received a very detailed recipe called “Recipe for Toh, (Oro Dja), Traditional Food of the Dogon People,” by Jemima Tembiné. She started learning to cook when she was about 10 years old and has been preparing Toh since she was 15 years old. Near as I can tell, Toh is a dish of millet dough that has been pounded, and served along with different sauces made out of various leaves, dried fish and dried vegetables. Details


The Proven Platter – Bolivia

Hello Diners!

This month we get to travel somewhere new, Cochabamba, Bolivia. And we are making one of Bolivia’s most beloved dishes, “Pique Macho.”

Bolivians consider Pique Macho the world’s greatest expression of meat and potatoes!

The dish is a sultry combination of perfectly seasoned beef cubes and sliced hotdogs. It is served over a bed of crispy potato fries and finished with julienned vegetables and multiple garnishes. Hot sauce is an integral part of this dish. Bolivians use a fiery hot sauce that they make from their local locoto peppers, but you can use your own favorite hot sauce. Details


The Proven Platter – Uganda

Hello Diners!

We are going to Uganda this month in support of DIG, Development in Gardening. DIG provides experiential training in sustainable agriculture, nutrition and improved cooking practices, along with developing 400 women-led home gardens.

It is July, it’s hot, and I’m hoping that you’ll be able to do some grilling. I’ve got Beef Skewers in Green Masala on the menu, although you could certainly use chicken or pork if you prefer. A Cabbage Salad with Pineapple presents a fresh new take on coleslaw with an African twist. And for dessert, we have a stunning Mango Coulis with Tapioca. Details


The Proven Platter- Mexico

Hola Amigas (y Amigos)!


I didn’t have to think too hard this month to decide which recipes that I wanted to share with you. Although I owned an Italian restaurant in Seattle for 25 years, my entire kitchen staff is from the state of Michoacán, Mexico, and the food of their country is the one that we have made over and over again for restaurant family meals and celebrations. As you may have guessed from the photo accompanying this post, what you are looking at is our end-of-the-shift family meal. These tried-and-true dishes are at the heart and soul of my repertoire. I hereby bring you “McElroy Family Favorites!” Details


The Proven Platter – Making Your Own Coconut Milk

Hello Diners!


We’re off to Tanzania this month. “Prawns in Coconut Sauce” and “Pilau Masala” are headlining the menu. These recipes have been graciously shared with us by Miriam Kinunda, the author of the blog “Taste of Tanzania.” I’ve tested both recipes and I give them the thumbs up. You’ll find many other recipes to choose from on her site, as well as some very good ones on our own Dining for Women recipe site.



The Proven Platter – Nepal

Hello Diners!

We are off to Kathmandu this month. I’ve always wanted to go there. Since I’m stuck in Seattle in front of my computer though, I will have to find another way to experience Nepal. That’s one of the great benefits about being a Dining for Women member: armchair travel, through our monthly grantees and exploring the cuisine of different countries feels like I’m there – almost. So let’s go! Details


The Proven Platter | A Vegetarian Thali Platter

Hello Diners!

This month our culinary journey takes us to India, specifically the Maharashtra state in Western India. I got a little ambitious this month though, and rather than present you with one “proven platter” dish, I constructed an entire thali platter just for you! I had a lot of fun working on this project, and even more fun eating the leftovers for days!



The Proven Platter—Nepal, December 2015

Hello Diners!

Our culinary travel this month of December finds us in the Himalayas, specifically Nepal.

Originally, I had it in mind to come up with an interesting twist on the “momo”, a Nepalese steamed dumpling with a meat or vegetable filling, wildly popular and sold on the streets. What about a sweet dumpling filling and call it dessert? My first attempt at this idea was a complete failure, but I still liked the idea and decided I’d work on this for the next time we visit Nepal in April 2016. So I’ve got time to get this right!



The Proven Platter—Togo, November 2015

Hello Diners!

This month we visit the small West African country of Togo. Sandwiched between Ghana on the west and Benin on the east, the southern end of Togo sits at the Gulf of Guinea, where plenty of access to fresh fish helps to round out the cuisine. While fish is an important source of protein, bush meat is also often consumed. The most well-liked bush meat is the giant rat. I think we’ll skip that and make a delicious beef stew instead!


Cabbage Tostada

The Proven Platter: Guatemalan Beet and Cabbage Tostada

Hello Diners!

This month we travel to Guatemala. Oh how I love the food of Central America! While Guatemala does not seem to have a national dish, tamales are very popular. I hesitate to share a recipe with you because they’re pretty labor intensive. Instead, how about something simple, refreshing and different, like a Cabbage and Beet Tostada?