Friday, April 28, 2017

Roasted Pumpkin Bisque (Simple & Delicious Creamy Pumpkin Soup)

A super simple and delicious creamy soup based on Peruvian pumpkin soup we enjoyed. Sadly we don't get the same kind of pumpkin outside of Peru; but there are other flavorful ones we can use! Although my favorites are butternut or kabocha, I have used various pumpkins and winter squashes with delicious results; Buttercup, Castilla, Banana squash or any other sweet flavorful pumpkin or pumpkin-like veggie will work well.

Note: Do include a little red pepper (cayenne) to enhance the sweetness of the pumpkin.
If you are toasting the seeds yourself, saute them in a little olive oil and add a pinch or two of thyme, red pepper and a little sprinkle of salt towards the end for a flavorful treat! Croutons are a delicious option for topping the soup.

6 - 8 Servings

About 3 lbs Pumpkin (see suggestions above)
1 Medium Orange fleshed Sweet Potato (aka yam)
1 Tbsp Oil + a little for roasting
1 small Red Onion, diced
1 tsp Sea Salt
1-2 cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Turmeric
3-4 sprigs fresh Thyme or 1 tsp Dry
1 pinch freshly grated Nutmeg
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Red Chile powder (cayenne)
Salt and freshly ground Pepper to taste
1 cup Coconut Milk (optional)
6 - 7 cups boiling Water
4 Tbsp Coconut Milk OR Coconut Cream for Garnishing
4 Tbsp Toasted Pumpkin or Sunflower seeds for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peel and cut the pumpkin or squash and sweet potato into 1/2" cubes.

Place the pumpkin, sweet potatoes, onions and garlic in a lightly oiled pan with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle the oil over the veggies and stir to coat. Sprinkle the turmeric and thyme over the veggies. Roast until the veggies are tender and begin to caramelize a little, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Puree the the roasted veggies with the nutmeg, cayenne, and coconut milk using a food processor, traditional or an immersion blender; pureeing may need to be done in batches if using a regular blender. If using a blender, some of the boiling water may be needed to process.

Pour the puree into a large soup pot with more of the boiling water a little at a time to get the right consistency without making the soup too thin. Warm the soup gently and simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes.

The soup should be thick and creamy; but if it looks too thick, add a small ladle or two of boiling water but not too much.

Check the seasonings, add salt and a few grinds of black pepper if needed.

Serve the soup in warm bowls with a little swirl of coconut milk/cream and the toasted seeds.

Enjoy! 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Warm Noodles & Veggie Salad With Sriracha Tofu & Garlic-Ginger Dressing (Asian Style)

Warm Noodle & Vegetable Salad is very versatile; it is easy to prepare ahead and makes a fabulous main meal for busy days or potlucks. Colorful, tasty and filling, everyone loves it, me included!

If you want to avoid too much soy in the diet, use panfried Burmese Tofu. Tofu, nuts/seeds, noodles, and the abundance of assorted veggies make for a very satisfying meal. Use a combination or a single type of nuts or seeds.

All the ingredients can be prepared ahead including the dressing and kept separately; mix when ready to serve. Although I prefer freshly cooked and cooled pasta, it can be precooked also and brought to room temperature by removing from the fridge about 30-45 minutes before serving before mixing.

Notes: Do include Napa Cabbage; it adds a lacy look and lots of crunch! Other veggies like kale, leeks, baby bok choi, Edamame (young green soy beans), broccoli, as well as finely sliced or coarsely shredded turnips, sugar-snaps or snow pea pods etc. make great additions also.

Serves 4 - 6

Ingredients:

Salad:
1 large Carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
1 small Daikon radish, cut into thin matchsticks
1 small Red Onion, thinly slivered
1 tsp Oil
1 Pinch Sea Salt
1-2 Persian type Cucumbers, thinly sliced into half moons
1/2 small Red Cabbage, sliced thinly
1/2 small Napa/Green Cabbage, sliced thinly
1 small Romaine Lettuce heart, thinly sliced
1 bunch Green Onions, thinly sliced diagonally
1 bunch fresh Cilantro, coarsely chopped
8 oz Cappellini (Angel Hair Pasta) OR Spaghetti
1 Lime, cut into 6 wedges to serve

Sriracha Tofu or Roasted Tofu with only the following spices/condiments
1 block firm Tofu (14-16 oz)
1 pinch Turmeric
1 generous pinch Salt
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce

Topping:
2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
2 Tbsp Slivered Almonds
1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds
1/4 cup Pumpkin Seeds
Roasted Peanuts/Cashews, coarsely chopped

Dressing:
1/2" knob of fresh Ginger, chopped
1-2 cloves fresh Garlic, peeled
1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
4 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp firmly packed Jaggery, Coconut sugar, OR Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 Tbsp Asian Toasted Sesame Oil

Method:

Make the Dressing:  Place ginger, garlic, brown sugar, black pepper, rice vinegar and soy sauce in the carafe of a blender; process until smooth. Pour into a clean jar, add a spoonful of water into the carafe to gather every bit of the ginger and garlic and add to the jar along with the rest of the ingredients - the oils. Shake well to mix and taste. Adjust soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and pepper. Cover tightly with a lid and store in the fridge until needed.

Prepare sriracha or Roasted Tofu. If making sauteed tofu, drain the tofu well, wrap in paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible, then cut into cubes or batons. Heat a skillet, add a spoonful of oil just to coat the bottom of the skillet, add tofu pieces with a pinch of turmeric and salt. Cook for a couple of minutes, turn each piece to an uncooked side, and repeat so all the the sides are slightly golden - a couple of minutes per side over medium heat. Stir together a tablespoon of soy sauce and sriracha sauce and drizzle over the tofu, continue to cook tossing to coat all the pieces evenly. If made ahead, cool and chill. Warm in a skillet or in the microwave.

Make the Salad: Wash all the veggies well and prepare them as directed; some are sliced, some are cubed, etc. Keep the radish and carrots separate. Place the rest of the veggies in the bowl and mix well. If made ahead, the veggies may be chilled until needed.

Toast the nuts/seeds for Topping: Toast all the seeds/nuts individually using a dry skillet (no oils). As each one is done pour onto a large plate to cool. Add the roasted cashews and peanuts. cover and keep at room temp until needed.

Cook the Pasta/noodles: Boil some water with a little salt, add pasta and cook according to manufactures' directions. Drain. Add a teaspoon of oil and mix well so the pasta does not stick or clump.

Assembly

Heat a large wok, skillet or pot with the oil; stir in onion, carrots and daikon with a pinch of salt and cook until warmed through - about 1 minute or so.

Tip the pasta into the warm veggies, and turn to coat with the oil and mix well. Turn off the heat.

Add the rest of the prepared veggies along with half of the dressing and toss well. Taste and add more dressing, salt & pepper etc as needed.

Divide into large shallow bowls and top with a few tofu pieces and some of the toasted nuts/seeds.

Serve immediately.  Pass the lime wedges and extra dressing to drizzle as desired.

Eat! Enjoy!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Simple Kadapa (Dal & Veggie Stew With Coconut)

Kadapa With Idlis
Kadapa is a very tasty and flavorful saucy korma type of stew to accompany Idli and Dosa instead of the usual Sambar! It is very similar to Poricha Kuzhambu or Molagutal. Kadapa is delicious with roti/pooris as well as served over cooked grains. Coconut, fennel seeds, and lime juice add a lovely flavor to the stew.

NOTE: If grinding coconut is not an option, use 1 cup of coconut milk instead of the fresh/frozen/dry. If you prefer, onions and garlic may be omitted. Cumin seeds may be used instead of the fennel.

4-6 Servings

Ingredients:

Grind together:
1/2 cup fresh/frozen Coconut (1/3 cup dried)
1 tsp Fennel seeds
1 Green Chile, Serrano type
4 - 5 Raw Cashew nuts or a small handful of cashew pieces
1/2 tsp uncooked rice OR roasted Gram Dal (Pottu kadalai)

For the Stew:

1/4 to 1/3 cup dry yellow Moong Dal
1 cup Cooked dried Whole Peas, Black-eyed Peas, OR Chickpeas (optional)

1 small Potato, diced
1 Carrot, diced
1 handful Green Beans, diced 
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1-2 tsp Salt

1 T Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard seeds
1 pinch Asafetida
4 - 6 Shallots OR 1 small Onion, peeled and sliced
2 Green Chiles, sliced 
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, minced
1-2 cloves, Garlic, peeled and minced
1-2 stems Fresh Curry leaves, sliced fine
1-2 Tomatoes, diced

1 Lime/Lemon, juiced

Method:

Rinse and cook the dal in enough water to cover until soft; pressure cooking speeds this process.

Grind together the coconut and rest of the ingredients into a smooth paste using a small amount of water. Set aside until needed.

Add the prepared potato and carrots along with turmeric and salt to the dal and cook over low to medium heat until just tender, about 8 - 10 minutes.

While the veggies are cooking, heat a small pan and add oil. Stir in mustard seeds and cover until they finish popping.

Stir in asafetida, curry leaves, ginger, garlic, and onion; stir and cook until onions soften.

Tip the tomatoes into the onion mixture and cook until soft.

Pour the ground coconut mixture into the dal and veggies; use a small amount of water to collect all of the ground spices and add to the pot.

Add the cooked whole beans/peas, green beans, and the tomato mixture to the dal and veggies. Bring to a boil and cook until green beans are tender - a couple of minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let rest for 5 minutes.

When ready to serve, stir in the lime/lemon juice to taste. Correct for salt as needed.

Serve hot with Idli, Dosa, etc. Enjoy!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sichuan Style Asparagus with Ginger and Garlic

A simple but delicious dish to enjoy with rice, other grains, or pasta. Other veggies like green beans, long beans, etc may be prepared the same way.

Instead of fresh or dried chiles, red pepper flakes or chili paste may be used.

Ingredients:

1 lb Asparagus
2 Tbsp Oil
1-2 Hot chiles, fresh or dry
1/4 tsp Turmeric
2 Tbsp Ginger, minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 pinch Sugar (optional)
1 Tbsp Soy sauce
1 pinch Salt & freshly ground pepper
1- 2 Tbsp Toasted Sesame seeds for garnish
Cilantro for Garnish

Wash, trim and slice the asparagus into 2" lengths. 

Heat a wok or skillet, add the oil, chiles, asparagus, turmeric, and the pinch of salt; cook stirring until beginning to soften - for about three to four minutes.

Mix in ginger and garlic, cook for about 30 seconds. 

Sprinkle the sugar if using and then the soy sauce. Stir to combine and remove from heat.

Add pepper if using and mix well. 

Serve hot garnished with sesame and cilantro. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Quick & Easy Thai Red Curry

This tasty curry is so quick and easy to prepare that my family would not believe that it was actually made fresh! Fabulous food for a busy weeknight!

Before prepping the curry, start the rice, grains or pasta cooking and you will have everything ready by the time the curry is finished. If you have leftover cooked grains or noodles, then you can serve even quicker. Delicious over cooked white/brown/red rice, quinoa, couscous, rice noodles, angel hair/linguine/spaghetti etc.

Serves 4

Ingredients: 

1 can Coconut Milk
2 -3 T Thai Red Curry Paste
1 - 3 t Coconut OR Brown Sugar
1 tsp Curry Powder (optional)
1/4 t Turmeric
1/2 t Salt
Stems from the Cilantro
1 small Onion, diced large
2 - 3 Carrots, sliced thickly
1 pkg Tofu, cut into 1" cubes
6-8 oz Mushrooms, quartered
4 - 6 Mini Sweet Peppers, sliced
2 cups Baby Spinach OR chopped Cabbage
3 - 4 Scallions, sliced
1 Handful Fresh Cilantro

4 Servings cooked hot Rice, grains or noodles
Roasted Cashews or Peanuts, chopped
Thai Style Chile-Garlic Sauce, to serve

Place coconut milk, curry paste, sugar, curry powder (if using), turmeric and salt in a large pan. Heat stirring to mix the curry paste well into the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, lower heat so the sauce is simmering. 

Add the lower thick stems from the cilantro, onions and carrots to the pot, cover and simmer for about 3 minutes. 

Tip the tofu cubes, mushrooms, and peppers into the curry and stir gently to coat; cover. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.

Top the curry with the spinach/cabbage and scallions; do not stir! Cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Let the curry rest for about 5 minutes. Stir in the torn cilantro into the curry and serve.

Divide the hot grains or noodles among 4 wide bowls, ladle the curry on top, sprinkle with nuts and serve.

Pass a little bowl of Thai-Style Chile-Garlic Sauce for those who would like to spice up their curry.

Enjoy!




Friday, March 31, 2017

Cazuela - Peruvian Vegetable Soup


Cazuela - Peruvian Vegetable Soup
This beautiful and flavorful soup was inspired by this; it is as handsome as it is delicious! The wonderful variety of veggies adds to its taste and beauty! I made a few changes to accommodate the availability of certain ingredients as well as the cooking to keep the veggies intact.

I make homemade broth to enhance the flavor of the soup. The fresh vegetable broth makes this soup unforgettable! I keep a stock pot with simmering water before starting to prep the veggies. As they become available, I add the clean trimmings from each of the vegetable - starting with the onion and garlic ends, ends and leaves from celery, trimmings from carrots, zucchini, and green beans, potato peels, stems and leaves of carrot greens (these add a wonderful carrot flavor), corn cobs, parsley and cilantro stems, zucchini, cauliflower stalks, etc -  to the stock pot. Lastly, don't forget the nutrient-rich and flavorful cooking broth from beans! By the time you need the stock, it is ready!

Notes:

1. I added a Morita chile in lieu of the aji paste which is not easily available. Morita chiles are available in Mexican and Latino markets.

2. Fava beans star in lots of recipes in Peru; but fresh ones aren't always available and when they are, they are labor-intensive as they have to be  and then each bean has to be peeled before adding to the recipes. So I use readily available frozen green Lima beans instead; what could be more Peruvian than Lima beans?

3. Yuca is a Peruvian root veggie and is a lovely addition to this soup; check this post on preparing yuca. If yuca is not available, taro or regular potatoes may be substituted. If using taro roots, precook in their skin until just tender, cool, peel, cut into chunks and add to soup along with carrots and green beans.

4. I love to add cooked barley or small pasta such as orzo as well as Israeli couscous to add to the heartiness; cooking them in the soup requires a lot of time and would overcook  the veggies into a mush.

5. Other dried beans may be used in place of the garbanzos; some possibilities are Limas, Great Northern, Kidney or Peruvian. The beans may be prepared one or two days ahead and reserved in the fridge until needed or frozen for longer storage.


Vegetable Broth

6 cups fresh Water
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1 pinch Asafoetida (optional)
Vegetable Trimmings, 3-5 cups
Stems from 1 Bunch Flat Leaf Parsley, Thyme, and Oregano (save leaves for other use)
Lower stems from 1 Bunch fresh Cilantro (save tender stems and leaves for other use)

If you don't have enough trimmings, add a chopped onion , a clove of garlic, a couple of coarsely chopped carrots and celery pieces. The herbs are important for flavor; do include them. Bring all to a boil, lower the heat, cover with a lid slightly ajar, simmer for 30-60 minutes. Let cool and strain. Cool and refrigerate any extra until needed; will stay fresh for 3-4 days in the fridge. May be frozen for longer storage.

Cazuela

1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, finely diced
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1 big Pinch Sea Salt
2 ribs Celery, diced (1 cup)
2 cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
1 Morita Chile
4-5 sprigs Fresh Oregano OR 1 tsp Dried Oregano
2 fresh Corn on the cob, sliced into 1" thick circles
1 cup Corn Kernels, fresh or frozen
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 slice Pumpkin, Winter Squash, OR Sweet Potatoes diced (about 1 cup)
1 small Turnip, diced
1 cup Yuca, peeled and diced OR 1 Potato
1 cup Green Lima Beans, fresh or frozen
1 cup Cooked Garbanzo beans
6 cups Vegetable broth, combination of water and Broth, or water
Salt & freshly ground Pepper to taste
1 handful Fresh Green Beans, cut into small pieces
1 Carrot, diced1 slice green Cabbage, diced (1 cup)
1 medium Zucchini, diced
1 cup Cooked Barley, Quinoa, Brown Rice, or Tiny Pasta
4 Tbsp EACH, Cilantro stems and leaves & Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 recipe Chimichurri to serve (optional)

Method:

Prepare all the ingredients and keep them separate as they will each be added to the pot at different times.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot; stir in onions, turmeric and the pinch of salt. Cook covered for about 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally; adjust the heat so the veggies don't burn. Tip in the celery, garlic, morita chile and oregano; cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes. 

Add pumpkin, turnip, yuca, corn, tomatoes, garbanzos and the broth or water. Season with salt and Pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer the soup for about 10-12 minutes.

Increase the heat so soup comes to a boil; tip the green beans and carrots into the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes. then stir in barley/pasta, cabbage and zucchini, Turn off the heat. Let sit with lid slightly ajar for 10 minutes.

Fish out the Morita chile; make a paste using a mortal and pestle and stir it back into the soup; but if you prefer a mild soup, discard the chile.

Stir in the Cilantro and Parsley. Serve in large bowls with one or two pieces of the corn on the cob circles in each bowl. Pass the chimichurri to spoon in and mix into the soup if desired. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Israeli Couscous, Corn, Cucumber & Tomato Salad

Israeli Couscous Salad
This is a very versatile salad and you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Israeli couscous is very similar to regular couscous; both are a type of pasta! The regular is tiny whereas Israeli couscous is larger and look similar to tapioca pearls. This fresh tasting salad is similar to the regular Tabbouleh; it includes crunchy cucumbers and other refreshing veggies.

For a quick but delicious variation, stir in some Carrot Top Chimichurri instead of the green herbs.

Note: Any couscous may be used; cook according to manufacturer's directions. If Isreali couscous is already toasted, cook according to directions on the package; but make sure they are cooked until tender with additional water if needed. Other grains such as farro, barley, quinoa, etc or small pasta like orzo may be used as well instead of the couscous.

1 cup Israeli Couscous
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 Lemons/Limes, juiced
2 Shallots, finely chopped
1 Carrot, coarsely grated
1 cup Corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup cooked Garbanzos or other beans
1 large bunch Flat Leaf Parsley
3 young Scallions (aka green onions)
1 bunch Garlic Chives
1 small bunch fresh Mint
Salt to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Romaine hearts to serve

Heat a skillet and add 1 T of the oil and stir in the couscous; stir and cook over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and 2 cups of boiling water; bring to a boil, reduce heat so couscous is simmering. Cover slightly ajar, and cook until tender. Add corn whether fresh or frozen  to the couscous; stir well to mix; let cool slightly.

Prepare all the veggies and herbs while the couscous is cooling.

Finely slice the scallions and chives, mince the mint and parsley.

When the couscous has cooled to lukewarm, add all the ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust salt, lemon/lime, and pepper. 

Separate the leaves of romaine hearts and wash and dry. Chill in bags until needed.

Serve the couscous surrounded by romaine leaves. Diners can scoop the salad into the romaine to eat like tacos. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Carrot greens & Cilantro Chimichurri (Spicy Carrot Greens Pesto)



When you grow or purchase a nice bunch of garden fresh carrots, what do you do with all the lovely feathery carrot greens? Why, make Chimichurri of course! Carrot tops taste similar to parsley; which is no surprise, as they are from the same family! Next time you have carrot tops, don't chuck them in the compost or worse yet, throw them in the trash heap. The feathery greens can be used just like parsley. 

We love to spoon the chimicurri over a bowl of steaming quinoa, brown rice or root veggies. Delicious mixed with couscous and cucumbers for a quick Tabbouleh! 

Note: Save the stems for the stock pot - they add a lot of carroty goodness to the broth!

Ingredients:

1 cup Carrot greens (only the leaves), packed
1 handful, Cilantro
1-2 Limes, juice
1/4 tsp Salt
1 clove Garlic
1 Serrano Chile
1/4 cup Shallots OR Red Onions, finely minced
2-3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Place carrot greens, cilantro, salt, lime juice, garlic and Serrano chile in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped; you may have to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Taste and add additional salt or lime juice if needed. Add the oil 1 Tbsp at a time and process until you have a nice mixture but not too smooth. Tip the onions in and pulse once or twice just to mix.

Scoop into a bowl and chill until needed. Serve over roasted or steamed veggies, cooked grains, pasta, as a spread for sandwiches, as topping for soups and salads, etc. Thin with more olive oil if needed. Will last in fridge for about 1 week or so.

Enjoy!