What's Cooking in...

Chef Laxman with the ingredients for Jhinga Masala — Holiday Inn Resort Penang. Photos by Sandra Scott


The Malaysian island of Penang is on many travelers’ lists of great places to visit during one’s lifetime, and it is second on CNN’s list of “17 Best Places to Visit in 2017.” It is easy to see why. The island has myriad things to do, including exploring the UNESCO World Heritage City of Georgetown, taking a walking tour through the new Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm and parasailing over the Strait of Malacca.

I found the island’s...

Ingredients laid out for qarnit moqli (pan-seared octopus). Photos by Sandra Scott

Malta is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. 

The Maltese Archipelago is located south of Sicily, which means it is blessed with a Mediterranean climate. (Think ‘no snow.’) 

And there are many wonderful places to visit. In fact, Malta has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the City of Valletta, the Megalithic Temples and the H¯al Saflieni Hypogeum, with several other sites on UNESCO’s tentative list, awaiting inclusion —...

Chef Ning preparing for the cooking demonstration aboard the ship. Photos by Sandra Scott

I have found a great way to remember trips and also engage guests with my travel tales. I serve a dish using a recipe from one of the countries I have visited, and when friends or relatives ask, “What is this?” I have the perfect opportunity to tell them about the recipe and my visit. 

Such was the case when I recently served Tam Mak Hoong (or, more traditionally, Dtam Mak Huhng), also known as Green Papaya Salad, which my husband, John, and I learned how to make...


My husband, John, and I have been to Nicaragua several times since our first visit in the ’90s. We returned in December 2015 and stayed on the island of Ometepe, home to twin volcanoes connected by a narrow isthmus. 

The island is popular with nature lovers and can be accessed by ferry from the city of San Jorge. Many visitors like to climb the volcanoes, but we preferred walking on the beach, where there were more horses than people. 

We also enjoyed a visit...


One of the things that I love about Asian food is that the preparation is so easy. 

I once mentioned to a Myanmarese, “There are no fast-food restaurants in Myanmar.” The reply was, “All food in Myanmar is fast food.” 

Indeed, with many Myanmar recipes, once you have the ingredients, creating the dish is quick. In addition, simple alterations to many recipes can create equally delicious dishes. Such is the case with Myanmar Ginger Salad....


So many recipes can be found in cookbooks, which are some of the most popular-selling books, and we all have family recipes. However, when I’m looking for something different to make, I refer to recipes from the cooking classes that my husband, John, and I have taken in a variety of countries. 

I like the fact that we completed each recipe under supervision and have taste-tested the result. Also, we know the recipe is ethnically authentic because the class was taught by a...


In October 2015 I was able to check off one of the adventures on my bucket list: to travel through the waterways and canals of the northeastern US and southeastern Canada.

Used by Native Americans, explorers, settlers and armies, the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes were key to the development of the Canadian provinces of Québec and Ontario as well as New York state and the interior of the United States. 

I was excited when I learned about the “Locks, Legends...



While my husband, John, and I were on a tour in the Philippines in 2008, one of our stops was the island of Cebu, where we stayed overnight at Plantation Bay Resort & Spa (Marigondon Beach Road, Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines 6015; phone +63 [32] 505 9800, www.plantationbay.com). 

I was impressed with their pools — eight of them, four of which are saltwater lagoons and four, freshwater pools — covering a total of six acres. I never forgot about the...