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Posts Tagged ‘The Diary of My Stomach’

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This popular Indian non-alcoholic beverage — wait, hold up. Something is wrong here because the mango lassi is perfect as a cocktail. Rich yogurt can soften the sharpness of liquor while mango provides natural sweetness. A clean-flavored liquor like vodka is ideal.

Ingredients (serves two)

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and chopped (leaving some for garnish)
  • 1 cup mango nectar
  • 2/3 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1½-2 shots vodka

Directions
Pureé in a blender until smooth and slightly frothy. Serve with a mango garnish.

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While I have a healthy obsession with spinach and cheese, palak paneer tends to be a dish that often looks better on the menu than it tastes on most restaurants’ plates. I found myself sloshing through the murky and over-pureed sauce to pick out the few cubes of paneer cheese oh so generously bestowed by the chef. I fixed these problems at home and found a way to make a palak paneer with a vibrant green sauce that still says “spinach.” The amped up flavor will excite your palate. And most of all, you won’t be searching for the cheese… well, at least not until you’ve finished it all.

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced Salt
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala (Indian spice mix)
  • 1-2 dashes of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 11 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon goat cheese spread/ plain yogurt (optional)
  • 3 ounces of heavy cream
  • 5 ounces low-sodium paneer, cubed

Directions

In a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in enough butter to coat the bottom of the pot and a drizzle of olive oil. Add a sizeable pinch of salt and cook until the onions are translucent.

Add the garlic, the garam masala, a shake or two of cinnamon and the ginger paste. Continue to cook while you make the spinach.

Heat a large sauté pan on high and coat with some water. Add the spinach and salt to taste. Cook down until the spinach is soft yet still bright green. In a blender or food processor, purée half the spinach from your pot. Add the purée to the onions.

Incorporate the goat cheese spread/yogurt (optional) and the cream until you are happy with the consistency and richness. It should be thick but not too chunky. Cook with paneer and salt to taste.

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Photo Credit: Scott Figatner 

Originally published in The GW Hatchet

A fall-themed potluck is always fulfilling. Perhaps, it’s the anticipation of brisk air, amber leaves, cups of tea and pajama pants. Most of all, it’s the beauty of preparing a meal with your friends, eating and drinking until you wonder why your jeans always shrink so erratically. I made pappardelle, thick pasta ribbons, with a rich sauce of butternut squash and sage, topped with dollops of ricotta cheese and candied pecans. Warm and hearty, it’s the perfect dish to fuel yourself during the fall… or at the very least until dessert.

 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium-size butternut squash
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3-4 tablespoons butter
  • Sage leaves, chopped
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • Apple juice or water
  • Honey
  • Pappardelle pasta
  • Pecans
  • Sugar
  • Ricotta cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400°

2. Peel the squash, cut it in half and remove the pulp and seeds with a spoon. Wash and dry the seeds and reserve. Chop the squash into 1-inch pieces. Coat lightly in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and spread evenly on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook for 20-30 minutes, turning once, or until fork tender.

3. In a blender or food processor, purée the squash with a drizzle of olive oil until smooth. In a pan, sauté the garlic and shallots in butter and add the purée. Add the sage, the parmesan cheese and salt, thinning it out to the desired consistency with either apple juice or water. Add a drizzle of honey until it’s just a tad sweet.

4. Put a liberally-salted pot of water up to boil. Lightly coat the seeds with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt. Roast until browned and audibly crunchy (cooks excuse to taste one).

5. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook for 6-8 minutes or until al dente. Strain and add to the sauce, readjusting sauce consistency.

6. For the candied pecans, simply pan cook them with butter, salt and loads of sugar. They do burn easily. Cool and reserve outside the pan.

7. Top the pasta with the candied pecans, toasted squash seeds, clumps of ricotta cheese and more sage.

 

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Photo credit: Jordan Emont

Taken from The GW Hatchet by Scott Figatner

It’s hardly summer in Spain until people are drinking tinto de verano outside. Tinto de verano is a popular drink where wine is mixed with lemon-lime soda. I wanted to combine the fruity flavor of Sangria, but also the light effervescence of tinto de verano. I made mine with strawberries— inspired by sangria I had in Seville—and also added kiwi, a popular fruit in my home stay. Blood orange soda, instead of lemon-lime, is a great and refreshing way to expand a bottle of wine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of a red wine you like (I used Evodia Calatayud red wine ’10)
  • 1 package of strawberries
  • 3 kiwis
  • 1 bottle of Lorina sparkling Italian blood orange juice

Directions:

  1. Quarter the strawberries and peel and slice the kiwis.
  2. Marinate the fruit in the red wine, refrigerating for 24-48 hours.
  3. Pour in the blood orange soda and serve with a strawberry or kiwi garnish.

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One of the most delectable bomb drinks every created, the Mo’Pagne Bomb takes the flavors of a classic mojito and incorporates them into a glass of champagne. It’s a classy twist on a type of drink that is fun and…well, highly alcoholic. The champagne gives the drink a welcomed sweetness and hints of lime and mint make your eyes widen while you chug.  Or maybe it’s the extra shot of light rum. For your next party, mix up a drink that will make a splash.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Asti Champagne (about 5 shots)
  • 1 Lime wedge
  • 3 Mint leaves
  • 1 shot of Bacardi light rum

Directions:

Muddle the mint in the bottom of a short glass with a small amount of champagne. Add the juice of a lime wedge. Drop in a shot of light rum and chug like crazy. What are you waiting for? Make another.

 

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Ceviche is a popular dish in Central and South America and is gaining popularity in The United States. It is certainly one of my favorite dishes. In a ceviche, cubes of fresh, raw fish are marinated in citrus juice, which denatures the surface proteins as cooking would. I designed my recipe based on my dad’s nostalgic description of the dish he had in Costa Rica. My ceviche has a subtle sweetness from a bit of sugar and a splash of gingerale, which balances the tart lime. Avacados and corn are classic pairings, but I also added juicy  costa rican pineapple, cherry tomatoes, and edamame.

Ingredients:

  • Fresh Marlin and Tilapia, cubed
  • Ripe Avocado, chopped
  • Pineapple, diced
  • Frozen Peas, thawed
  • Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • Corn (frozen or fresh)
  • Red Onion, diced
  • Canned Chickpeas

Marinade:

  • Lime Juice, be generous
  • Ginger Ale, a splash
  • Fresh Garlic, minced
  • Jalopeño, minced
  • Salt and Pepper, don’t skimp
  • GOYA Cilantro Cooking Base
  • Sugar, a hint

Directions:

  1. Prepare marinade and pour over ingredients in a shallow dish. There needs to be enough liquid to almost cover the fish. Refrigerate covered for about 1 hour, carefully folding every 15 minutes. Serve alone or with tortilla chips.

Tips:

  1. The fresher the fish, the safer and tastier the ceviche.
  2. Be sure to use enough lime juice than you think or you’ll be eating sashimi, not ceviche
  3. Cut your ceviche pieces all the same size.
  4. Ripe avocados should be tender to the touch. Next, break off the stubby stem. If it’s green, it’s fresh.
  5. Slice lengthwise all around the avocado and twist to open. Take a careful wack with the chef’s knife and twist to dislodge the pit.

 

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The hideous organ on my cutting board hardly looked like dinner. However, trimmed, stewed and sliced, tongue can be delicious. In the oven, I stewed the tongue in a pot with canned plum tomatoes, carrots onions, cilantro, thyme, garlic and water. I seasoned the sauce with spices like cumin, chili powder, Spanish paprika, Adobo seasoning and oregano and finished it with brown sugar and a sauce made from tamarind and vinegar from Costa Rica. Finally, I pureed everything to add body. I smothered the tongue in the tangy, brick-colored sauce, piled it over white rice, garnished with diced red onion, chopped tomatoes, roasted corn and cilantro.

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On a hot, summer day a mango salsa is the perfect refreshing snack. The tanginess of the tomatillos makes a good backdrop behind the sweet mangos while the char from the grill adds a welcomed complexity. Honey and lime round out the flavors, while tempering the heat of the jalapeño—which I tend not to go easy on.

Directions:

  • Peel two mangos, remove the pits, chop and mix with diced red onion. Add a generous amount of lime juice. Grill one ear of corn, half a jalapeño and the tomatillos (with the husks on), turning them until they are charred and soft. Remove the husks and stems and pulse in the blender with a drizzle of olive oil, one chopped garlic clove and jalapeño to taste (remove the seeds and membranes for a gentler heat).
  • When it has cooled, mix with the mangos and add salt, more lime and a healthy drizzle of honey. Remove the corn kernels and mix in. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips. My favorite brand is Xochitl totopos de maíz sold in a large paper bag. Chopped scallions make a pretty garnish.

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My parents recently transformed their diets into something much healthier. They reduced the quantity of red meat and started cooking lighter food. We used to bake fatty salmon with mayo, lemon and dill. I used a leaner salmon steak and seared it for as a low-fat preparation. We all know that salmon is healthy because of its protein content and good fats, but did you know that a 4 oz serving of wild salmon provides a full day’s requirement of vitamin D? A honey mustard sauce is high in flavor, yet low in fat. Quinoa is one of the healthiest grains available and I boosted the nutrition with some spinach. I sauteed mushrooms and peas in white wine and marsala wine to add flavor without unnecessary salt or fat. Finally, sweet potatoes are the healthiest item in the produce department, so roasting them alongside seemed like a no-brainer.

Ingredients:

Spinach Quinoa:

  • half a package of quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • chicken stock (follow quinoa package directions)
  • 1 bag of Spinach
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt and fresh black pepper to taste
Mushrooms:
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • fresh thyme, de-stemmed
  • Splash of white wine of choice
  • Splash of marsala wine
  • light brown sugar to taste
  • Dash of worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic and onion powder
  • Salt and fresh black pepper to taste
Salmon and sauce:
  • Thick salmon steaks (1 per person)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 tablesoon tamari

Directions:

Spinach Quinoa:

Over medium heat, toast quinoa grains in a drizzle of sesame oil for 5 minutes and then add a splash of rice wine. Follow the directions on the package to cook, replacing the water with chicken stock. Sauté spinach in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. When the quinoa is tender and the moisture is absorbed, add the spinach.

Mushrooms:

Over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in 3 tablespoons of olive oil with two cloves of garlic and salt. Wash and slice the mushrooms and add to the pan. Add fresh thyme leaves and a splash of white and marsala wine. Add some light brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.

Salmon:

1. Heat a pan on high and sear the salmon steaks with 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 4 minutes on each side. Both sides should be well browned and peek inside the flesh to determine doneness. The center should be bright pink, yet still flaky. To make the sauce, combine honey and your favorite mustard. I like either Dijon or something grainy. The last component is tamari, which is thicker, richer, more complex and a little less harsh and salty than soy sauce.

2. Plate the salmon steak over the quinoa and mushrooms and drizzle the sauce over the salmon. I served the dish with roasted sweet potatoes, which can be made by rubbing the skins with olive oil, salt and pepper, poking them with a fork, wrapping them in aluminum foil and roasting in a 350° oven until fork tender all the way through.

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A thai curry is a great way to make use of fresh vegetables and impress people with an exotic dish. Although curries may sound daunting, they are no more difficult than a standard stew. Coconut milk is a rich, dairy-free and forgiving backdrop to a spectrum of flavors. I cut its richness with lime juice, contrast the heat of the red curry paste with some light brown sugar and use turmeric and curry powder for a warm, yellow color. Since the vegetables are pre-steamed, you can spend more time eating than cooking!

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
  • 2 handfuls of diced carrots
  • 3 small yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 2-3 large rotisserie/leftover chicken breasts (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 large red or white onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 15.5 oz. can of garbanzos/chickpeas, washed well
  • 2 13.5 oz. cans of coconut milk
  • 2 limes, rolled and halved
        Spices:
  • 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon thai seasoning mix (includes things like dried lemongrass, garlic, ginger and mint)
Directions:
1. Steam broccoli and carrots until tender, keeping in mind that they will cook longer in the sauce. Steam potatoes or poke them with a fork and microwave until tender. With leftover rotisserie chicken, take off the skin and bones and chop into cubes.
2. Over medium heat, drizzle olive oil in a pan and sauté onion and garlic with salt until translucent. Add chickpeas, steamed broccoli, carrots potatoes and chicken.
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3. Stir in red curry paste until dissolved and add yellow curry powder, ground cumin, coriander, chili powder, turmeric, salt, light brown sugar and thai seasoning mix. Add the juice of two limes and the peas.
4. Simmer for a bit and turn the heat off. Allow to rest for about 1 hour in order to marry the flavors. Reheat and serve over your favorite rice.

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Stop mashing, baking and frying your potatoes and experiment with a classic Spanish tapa, patatas alioli. Spaniards drool over these tender potatoes covered in a smooth and rich mayo-like sauce made by emulsifying garlic and olive oil. Eggs give it extra body and a richness which, when cut by a bit of acid, is delicious. Olive oil, garlic and potatoes just might be Spain’s culinary holy trinity. Make them once and you’ll be eating them religiously.

Ingredients:

  •  6-7 small Potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced (how much do you like garlic)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

1. Fill a large pot with cold water and bring it to a boil with the skin-on potatoes. Lower the heat enough to stop the boiling and cook until fork tender, approximately 20 minutes.

2. While they cook, prepare the sauce. In a bowl using a whisk, electric hand mixer or immersion blender, mix the eggs, garlic, salt and the vinegar or lemon. The acid serves to stabilize the emulsified sauce’s texture by preventing protein coagulation and, therefore, separation. It also cuts through the richness of the olive oil from a flavor standpoint.

3. Keep the mixer on and add a steady stream of olive oil, slowly at first, until you reach a consistency that is thinner than a store-bought mayonnaise, yet still has body.

4. Peel the potatoes with the back of a pairing knife and cut into bite-size pieces. Cool to room temperature. If you do not cool them, the potatoes will soak up too much sauce and become overly soft. If you cool them too much, they will not soak up any flavor. Mix with the alioli and garnish with the parsley.

Note: While Salmonella does not grow in acidic environments, the egg yolks in this recipe are raw, so use proper caution if it is of concern in your area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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         The Tortilla de Patatas is integral to Spain’s culinary culture. To this day, the tortilla makes for a quick, cheap, filling, and delicious meal. You can go all over Spain, to local dives or upscale restaurants and, although you will find a myriad of variations served hot, cold, on a toothpick, and between bread, you will not find the best. Ask any Spaniard where to find the best tortilla and he/she will say his mother’s or his grandmother’s house.

My host mother makes a perfect tortilla: tender and moist without being runny, sweet from the onions, and smooth from the olive oil, yet not overly greasy. Although it is not eaten for breakfast in Spain, I think it beats two eggs over-easy any day of the week.

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 1 medium-size onion
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt

Directions:

1. Fill a large pan with sloped sides halfway with olive oil. Cut the onion into thin slices while preheating the oil on medium heat. Add the onions to the oil. They should bubble, but not furiously for about 3 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, with the large opening side of a cheese grater, slice potatoes into thin discs. Add them to the onions and allow to cook, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes, or until tender.

3. Whisk the eggs and add a few generous pinches of salt. My host mother does it by eye, so I cannot give an exact measurement. Using a spider or some other tool, drain off excess oil from the potatoes and onions and reserve for future cooking. Incorporate them into the eggs.

4. When the pan is empty of all oil, add enough back to coat the pan. Over medium heat, return the mixture to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes. Using a large plate facedown over the pan, invert the whole thing so that the eggs end up on the plate. It may help to slightly wet the plate to prevent sticking. Transfer back to the pan, with a dash more oil to finish cooking for the same time. It does not have to be a flawless.

5. Adjust the shape while in the pan with a wooden spoon, tucking in the egg off the sides of the pan. Slide it off and eat it hot or at room temperature.

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In Spanish cuisine, sofrito is used as a base for many dishes and is made of garlic, onion, and tomatoes. I used tomato paste to give my dish the complex flavors of something cooked for a long time. Just a bit of wine, herbs and spanish spices complete a sauce that is flavorful, yet very light and healthy. It is thickened in the Catalan style with toasted bread. Diverging from Spanish cuisine, I served it with butternut squash roasted with maple syrup and brown sugar and sprinkled with sage leaves. Some fresh rice is a must.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 large Spanish onion, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 5 sweet banana peppers, minced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup of  white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1/3 cup “less sodium” beef stock (or chicken)
  • 6 sprigs thyme, de-stemmed and chopped
  • Southern Spain Pinchito Spice to taste
  • About 2 lbs. thin chicken cutlets.

Directions:

1. On low heat, sauté onions in olive oil with salt until translucent. Add sugar, paprika and tomato paste—some nonstick spray on the spoon will help the paste to glide off.

 

2.  Add banana peppers and garlic and simmer for about 20 minutes. Build the sauce with the white wine and beef stock and add the thyme.

 

3. Season with a few pinches of cinnamon. I used a spice mix called Southern Spain Pinchito Spice. This includes salt, cumin, paprika, oregano, coriander, garlic, turmeric, ginger, fenugreek, anise, cayenne and saffron.

 

4. Toast some bread (I toasted a bagel and removed the insides) and grind finely in a food processor. Add a few tablespoons to the sauce and expand it by adding some water until the consistency is just right.

 

5. Coat chicken cutlets in olive oil and rub with a light coating of salt, pepper, paprika and pinchito. Grill or sauté until cooked through (about 2 minutes on each side) and warm together with the sauce.

 

Butternut Squash: In a 400° oven on a foiled sheet pan, roast 1 inch. cubes of butternut squash on a sheet pan with olive oil, salt and pepper  for 15 minutes. Flip, drizzle with maple syrup, sprinkle with brown sugar and top with dabs of butter. Finish roasting for another 15 to 20 minutes or until tender through.

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Photo by Jordan Emont

You don’t need a stove to make a delicious seafood dinner. By marinating diced tilapia and shrimp in an acidic mixture, the seafood flesh actually cooks. Well, it’s not cooking per se, but the denaturing of the proteins mimics the process. With fresh ingredients, the South American dish is perfectly safe. In fact, my Peruvian ceviche is both low in calories and high in vitamins and protein. The seafood has a tender, yet resilient texture, which, along with ripe diced avocado, tomatoes, and red onion, soaks up the flavor of the marinade, tangy with lime juice and slightly sweet from fresh coconut water. Served in a coconut bowl, the only other perfect accompaniment would be Peru’s national cocktail.

Sneak Peek: Check the blog next week for my take on the Pisco Sour.

Ingredients: (serves 2)

  • 1 coconut/ ¼ cup coconut water
  • 1 tilapia filet, diced
  • ¼ pound peeled rock shrimp meat, diced
  • ¾ cup lime juice
  • 1/8 habañero pepper, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons small-diced tomato
  • 3 tablespoons small-diced diced red onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • ½ avocado, diced

Important: Because the ceviche marinade will only kill surface bacteria, the tilapia and shrimp must be extremely fresh. It is best to prepare the ceviche on the day of purchase.

Directions:

 1. To make the coconut bowl, use a screwdriver to make a whole in the base, drain the water and reserve.

2. Place the coconut on a towel in your palm. Use the blunt side of the knife to whack it forcefully where a natural line is visible—be sure to wear protective eye gear. Once a crack forms, continue to pound it until the crack spans its entirety. Pull it apart and fix jagged edges.

3. Generously salt the equally sized tilapia and shrimp cubes and mix with ¼ cup of the coconut water, the lime juice (with habañero and garlic added), the tomatoes and the red onion. Make sure everything is submerged in the marinade. Refrigerate for 40 minutes, mixing at least once.

4. Generously salt to taste and add chopped cilantro, and avocado. Add fresh ground black pepper. Scoop into the coconut bowl, draining the ceviche of excess marinade. Serve immediately as it will continue to “cook”.

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Ingredients:

  • chopped chicken breast
  • celery, peeled and diced
  • red onion, diced
  • mayonnaise
  • dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • turmeric
  • fresh black pepper
  • paprika
  • cilantro, chopped
  • lettuce
  • tomato
  • poppyseed challah
1. Chop chicken breast and mixed with the celery and red onion. Make the dressing separately by mixing mayonnaise, a bit of dijon mustard, olive oil, garlic powder, turmeric,  fresh black pepper, and paprika. Mix in chopped cilantro.
2. Combine the dressing with the chicken and sandwich between challah with lettuce and tomato.

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This is my version of a Navratan Korma, which is an Indian curry dish. Navratan means nine gems and this usually refers to the vegetables, fruits, or nuts in the curry. I cut down on the fat—which is why the color is a pale orange instead of a bright yellow—, but not the the flavor and depth of this vegetarian dish.

 

Ingredients:

  • very fresh tomatoes (enough to fill a whole sheet pan when cut)
  • olive oil or wegmans basting oil
  • 1/2 a head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 3/4 of a 16  oz. can 0f coconut milk
  • 4-5 tablespoons plain, greek yogurt
  • 1 zucchini, cut into cubes
  • 1 squash, cut into cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt, pepper, turmeric
  • a handful carrots, chopped
  • broccoli (similar amount)
  • ground coriander (few pinches)
  • garam masala (few pinches)
  • red curry powder (few pinches) It’s spicy
  • a handful of whole, unsalted cashews
  • 3 small waxy potatoes
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk (whatever fat content you like)
  • 1 cup of peas
1. Cut the tomatoes (large-bite size) and scatter, filling an entire foiled sheet pan. Roast them on 400º for about 30 minutes with olive oil and seasonings (I used a Wegmans basting oil blend). In a blender or food processor, purée.
2. Roast the cauliflower in the same manner, but only for about 15 minutes.
3. Cook the tomato sauce in a pot with the coconut milk. Add the greek yogurt and stir until homogenous.
4. Sauté the zucchini and squash in olive oil with salt, pepper, minced garlic, and two pinches of turmeric and par-cook the broccoli  and carrots however you choose. I parboiled the carrots until just cooked through and used frozen broccoli. Add all these vegetables to the pot.
5. Add the spices to the curry: turmeric, ground coriander, garam masala, and red curry powder. Salt and continue to season to taste. Add the cashews. Microwave the potatoes until fork tender and cut into bite-size pieces, adding them to the curry.
6. Add the cream or milk . You can adjust richness by adding more coconut milk, cream, or yogurt. Although I didn’t, butter would be a good addition since most recipes call for ghee. When the consistency is perfect, cover the pot, If it reduces too much, add a bit of water.
7. Add half of the peas. Serve over basmati rice (add the remaining peas to this). Garnish with fresh cilantro.

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For those of you who have not had fish tacos, you’re missing out on a real pleasure. Chewy, dry corn tortillas can be transformed into crispy, yet pillowy ones by lightly frying them. With fish tacos, it only takes one bite to enjoy many flavors and textures: tender and flaky tilapia with a fresh grilled flavor, cool crema with a hint of tequila and the bright flavor of lime, a Margarita salsa fresca that is slightly sweet and bursting with flavor. Some fresh lettuce or cabbage slaw tops off the presentation as well as the final textural component. I served mine with crispy plantain tostones and black beans.

Tilapia: tilapia, salt, pepper, dried oregano, annatto seeds, olive oil

Season the fish with salt, pepper, dried oregano, and annatto seeds. Annatto provides a subtle peppery flavor, but mostly gives the fish an appealing orange color. Grind the annatto in a coffee/spice grinder or buy pre-ground. Coat the fish in olive oil and grill until they are almost done. Finish them off in the oven (this will prevent flaking on the grill and will allow you to make sure the fish is hot when you serve it)

Tequila Lime Crema: sour cream, lime juice, tequila, cumin, garlic, Goya Adobo seasoning

Mix sour cream with lime juice and a few tablespoons of tequila. You should be able to taste tequila and lime easily, but they should not be overpowering. Add minced garlic, ground cumin, and a little Adobo seasoning. Let the flavors marry in the refrigerator for an hour and taste again for readjustments.

Margarita Pico de Gallo: Tomatoes, onion, margarita mix, honey, Adobo, white vinegar, corn

Dice tomatoes and add diced onion. Add Jose Cuervo Margarita mix and a good drizzle of honey. Add diced mango, more of that Goya Adobo seasoning, and a bit of white vinegar.  Cilantro would make a great addition. Boil an ear of corn, char it on the grill, and add it to the Pico de Gallo.

Black Beans: olive oil, onions, garlic, oregano, Adobo

Use either canned or fresh beans—fresh must be soaked a whole day. Sauté diced onion in a pot in some olive oil with plenty of minced garlic. Add the beans and season with dried oregano and Adobo. Canned beans may be salty enough already.

Tostones: Plantains, olive oil, salt

Use plantains that are just beginning to yellow. Cut into thick slices, coat lightly in olive oil, and bake in the oven on a foiled sheet pan for about 10-15 minutes on 350°. With a spatula, press them so they’re half as thin. Brown both sides in a pan with a light coating of olive oil, transfer to some paper towels and salt generously.

Making the Taco: corn tortillas, canola oil

Heat about an inch of canola oil in a pot and fry the corn tortillas on both sides until they are crispy, yet pliable. transfer to de-grease on paper towels and serve immediately.

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Try something other than your usual pasta and meat sauce. Pesto takes little cooking to make and is very healthy and light. Add whatever vegetables you feel like. You can also experiment with different types of nuts; pine nuts are traditional, but walnuts are great and even pistachios could work. You won’t miss meat at all!

Ingredients:

Pesto Sauce

  • Basil (2 cups, almost filling a small food processor)
  • Walnut pieces (a palm full)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese (a palm full)
  • Artichoke hearts (A few pieces from a jar)
  • Olive Oil (until desired consistency is reached) I used thyme-infused oil that I made.
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper
♦ Make extra pesto and use as a condiment for sandwiches, a marinade for steak, or mix with mayo and slather on salmon.
Pasta and Veggies
  • 2 small yellow squashes cut into chunks
  • 1 ear of corn, boiled and de-kerneled
  • Cannellini beans (White Kidney)

Sauté the squash in olive oil with salt, pepper and dried oregano. When the squash has softened, add the corn, spinach, and Cannellini beans and re-season. Boil Pasta until al dente. A few minutes before it is done, start the pesto sauce. In a food processor, grind the pesto ingredients, adding olive oil gradually. The basil should not be chunky, but over-blending will affect the pesto color.

Strain the pasta and mix with the pesto and vegetables. Fold in freshly grated parmesan cheese while it’s warm. Garnish with parmesan ribbons, basil chiffonade, and toasted walnut pieces.

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Inspired by a Caribbean restaurant in Delray Beach, FL, this basa basa is steamed inside a banana leaf with exotic spices, fresh vegetables, cilantro, coconut milk, and lime juice. The fish comes out of the sauna, refreshed and invigorated, while all the vegetables are imparted with the coconut and lime flavors. Feel free to eat as much as you want; this dish is low on calories.

Ingredients:

  • banana leaves
  • basa basa
  • salt
  • blackpepper
  • garam masala
  • turmeric
  • red curry powder
  • ground cumin
  • canned corn
  • zuchinni
  • squash
  • limes
  • cilantro
  • coconut milk

1. Blanch a banana leaf in boiling water for about a minute. Lay down a skinless filet of basa basa and season on both sides with the spices. Top with slices of zuchinni and squash, canned corn, squeezed lime wedges, torn cilantro leaves and a pour of coconut milk. Finish with some more salt and pepper for the vegetables.

2. Wrap up the fish like a present and flip over onto aluminum foil. Wrap it up in the foil and flip again. Place on a sheet pan and bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes.

3. Open the package and take a taste, if it is not fully cooked, finish it off in the oven uncovered.

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