black pepper

Pacific cod and caper kebabs

by Heguiberto on January 17, 2013

This is another great recipe from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. It uses capers! Hurrah!!! How can you go wrong with capers? Salted or brined, these tiny flower buds are alright with me. Yotam writes that caper bushes grow wild around the city of Jerusalem. They’re hardy and you can even find them growing out of cracks in the Wailing Wall (Muro das Lamentações in Portuguese). Isn’t that cool? I’d love to see that someday.

Pacific cod and caper kebabs

Pacific cod and caper kebabs

The original dish also uses quite a bit of dill too, an herb I sometimes find a bit over powering. I think it has to do with the smell of the lagoons around my home town in Brazil. The grasses that grew around those lagoons exhaled a strange dill scent and I always associate these smells with stagnant water. Alas! I think that I must have been a dog or a wolf in a past life. My sense of smell is powerful; which is good sometimes but as in this case, not too great at others. Anyway this dish is all about beautiful colors, flavors and, yes, aromas!

Pacific cod and caper kebabs

2lbs white boneless fish (I used wild pacific cod fillets)
½ cup Italian bread crumbs
½ cup panko break crumbs
1 large free range egg, beaten
5 tbsp capers in brine, rinsed and chopped
3 whole scallions, chopped fine
½ bunch fresh dill, chopped fine
Juice one large lemon
1½ tsp ground cumin
¾ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil for frying

Cut the fillets into 3 inch pieces, place fish in the food processor and whiz for half a minute. Using a spatula push the fish down. Whiz it again for another half minute.

Transfer to a bowl, add lemon juice and beaten egg. In a separate bowl mix Italian bread crumbs, panko, turmeric, cumin, pepper, chopped capers, scallions, dill and salt together. Incorporate bread crumb mix into to fish using a spatula. Do not over mix.

Wet your hands with a bit of canola oil. Shape fish mixture into patties. Place patties on a wax paper lined tray. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Add some canola oil to a non-stick skillet on medium. Fry patties for about 3 minutes on each side. Serve hot with a side of eggplant baba ghanoush.

{ 3 comments }

simple Israeli couscous finished with Maldon salt

simple Israeli couscous finished with Maldon salt

To me Israeli couscous looks like and almost has the same texture as fish eggs. Obviously this is a pasta variety but somehow it seems so different compared to spaghetti and her friends. I love it. This recipe is a snap as an elegant side dish. We had it with salt cod brandade. Mmmmm!

The Maldon salt isn’t strictly necessary but somehow the huge flakes of the stuff crunching in your mouth as you devour the chewy couscous are a match made in heaven.

simple Israeli couscous finished with Maldon salt

2 cups uncooked Israeli couscous
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
2 tbsp butter
Sea salt
Maldon salt to finish
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a big pot with water to a boil. Add a bit of salt. Cook couscous for about 4 minutes or until pearls are still al dente. Drain.

Heat up non-stick pan on stove top, add one table spoon of olive oil and garlic and cook just until garlic is aromatic. Add couscous and toss it around to coat. Add garlic and onion powders, Maldon salt, the remainder of the olive oil and butter and toss again. Immediately remove from heat and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with a sprig of parsley and a bit more Maldon salt.

{ 3 comments }

halibut en papilote

by Heguiberto on April 27, 2012

A throw back to the past? Maybe, but the thing is I had never prepared fish this way before using the actual parchment paper. It’s a snap with tin foil, but the result is not as dramatic and pretty. I made this for five people, so reduce or increase your proportions accordingly. The approach is Mediterranean but I did bake the fish steaks over carrot cumin rice which adds an Indian flare. I sort of used Mireille Guiliano’s halibut recipe from French Women Don’t Get Fat.

halibut en papilote

halibut en papilote

We at weirdcombinations were obsessed by Mireille a year or so ago, and she remains a fave. Jasmine met her in San Francsico once, if you can believe it!?! Of course, we loved the classic FWDGF! Who doesn’t really? Did you like the book about food and style over the seasons? I haven’t read the one about work, but Jasmine loved it.

Anyway, back to the fish. We had Jasmine Turner for this splendid Mireille-inspired meal. I forgot to mention it at the time, but I’m sure that she knows all about it by now. Love you, Jasmine!!

a charger with several halibut en papilote

a charger with several halibut en papilote

halibut en papilote

5 pieces of wild caught Pacific halibut
5 pieces of parchment paper, each about 13×26 inches
cumin carrot rice: double this recipe
½ cup dry white wine
4 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped fine
½ tbsp lemon zest
juice of 1 lemon
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp butter at room temperature
chili flakes to taste
Kosher salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus more for brushing

Mix salt, butter, tablespoon of olive oil, lemon zest, parsley, black and chili peppers together. Set aside.

Pre heat oven to 375F.

Fold each parchment paper into a 13×13 inch square. Lay one folded paper on top of another. Draw a half heart shape on top, filling as much of the paper as you can, then cut it out to form large paper hearts.

filling my heart shaped piece of parchment paper with carrot cumin basmati rice

filling my heart shaped piece of parchment paper with carrot cumin basmati rice

all set and ready to fold closed

all set and ready to fold closed

Place one heart shaped parchment paper on counter top. Brush with olive oil. Put two scoops of carrot cumin rice in the center, top with a halibut steak, smear some of the herbed butter over, and add a tablespoon of white wine. Inch by inch fold the edge of paper in such way that the folds overlap one another until you get to the “tip” of the half-heart. Twist the tip tightly to seal everything together. Repeat process with remaining portions. Put individual papilotes on baking trays and bake for about 15 minutes. Serve in paper.

{ 3 comments }

roasted baby potatoes with fresh sorrel leaves

roasted baby potatoes with fresh sorrel leaves

This is another simple tapas-inspired dish. Sort of a take on patatas bravas, which are potatoes baked in the oven with spices and then dredged with a spicy tomato/mayo based sauce. It is yummy and I could have just made the traditional recipe, but the thing is that sometimes a vegetable wants to speak for itself, and my new yellow baby potatoes were crying out “No sauce! Keep it simple.” They looked as if they had been harvested that afternoon, they were so fresh. So I kept it simple.

my talking baby potatoes

my "talking" baby potatoes

some usufruct fresh sorrel

some usufruct fresh sorrel

roasted baby potatoes with fresh sorrel leaves

15 new baby potatoes, cut in halves
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt
Black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
½ tbsp canola oil
Hand-full fresh sorrel leaves

Place potatoes in saucepan and barely cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 4 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 500F.

Place potato halves on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with canola oil, enough to slightly coat potatoes. Roast until golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, pat dry to remove oil. Put hot potatoes in a bowl. Add garlic, olive oil, sorrel leaves and toss to combine. The leaves will wilt. Adjust salt and serve warm.

{ 3 comments }

I love the sweet flavor of spring onions (or for that matter any onion) when they are grilled or baked. Well, raw is delicious too, so maybe I should re-state my opening with the always appropriate, “I love onions!” Perhaps I should get a t-shirt printed?

oven roasted red spring onions

oven roasted red spring onions

Onions are especially good in early spring, which is just around the corner. Yippie!!! I got these gorgeous red spring onions at the Alemany Farmers Market last weekend. Immediately I thought about grilling them, just like we had at the fabulous Estadio, a superb tapas bar in Washington, D. C. I was too lazy to fire up the grill so oven roasted them instead. The grill marks are missing here but the flavor is pretty similar to the restaurant. I even got a small jar of spicy Romesco sauce from “whole paycheck”, just like them.

salting red spring onions before oven roasting

salting red spring onions before oven roasting

oven roasted red spring onions

5 large bulbed red spring onions
Kosher salt
1 garlic clove, cut into slivers
Black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Romesco sauce – optional but highly recommended 

Pre heat oven to 500F and adjust rack to the closest position to the burner or coil.

Wash spring onions and pat dry them. Arrange on baking tray, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and bake for about 10 minutes. It’s that simple! Serve with Romesco sauce at table. We had this as side dish for a homemade tapas-inspired dinner. More Spring inspired recipes from 2sisters2cities

{ 3 comments }

quinoa tabouli

by Heguiberto on March 13, 2012

quinoa tabouli

quinoa tabouli

I made this dish for a “healthy-“themed potluck at the office the other day. Several areas of my company are on an inter-departmental contest for weight loss. I am impressed with the dedication of my colleagues and the number of pounds some people are dropping. Go marketing team! The recipe is a variation on tabouli with endive and escarole, which is also quite healthy. Here the quinoa adds additional protein. They’re these incredible little seed power-packs. I was inspired by our recent visit to Herbivore where we tried something similar. This makes a perfect vegan meal.

quinoa tabouli

1½ cups quinoa
4 whole scallions, chopped
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
1 bunch mint, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cube vegetarian bouillon
1 pinch cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt

Rinse and soak quinoa for about 10 minutes. Drain, transfer to a sauce pan add 2 cups of water and the cube of vegetarian bouillon. Bring to a boil then reduce temperature to low and cook until soft but not mushy. Add more water if needed. Pour quinoa over a strainer and let it drain excess water and cool down to room temperature.

Once quinoa has cooled, add the rest of the ingredients. Adjust salt to taste. Let sit at room temperature before serving, or better yet, refrigerate and serve the following day. The tabouli will taste even better.

{ 3 comments }

This intensely flavorful recipe comes from the wonderful blog, Pescatarian Journal. We always feel a spiritual connection with Alaiyo’s food, which is land-animal free, often vegetarian and low fat, and using both familiar and unusual ingredients in exciting ways. Her black-eyed peas and polenta with minced collards really caught my eye. This then is my “version” of her masterpiece.

black-eyed peas with purple kale and polenta

black-eyed peas with purple kale and polenta

Of course, I’ve had to modify things a little. For starters, I used the purple kale that we’ve been growing in our community garden rather than collard greens. I put the stems in the polenta and sautéed the leaves to serve separately. I didn’t have fresh turmeric or ground chipotle pepper, so I used dried for the first and pasilla pepper for the second. I was anxious about not pre-soaking the dried black-eyed peas, so went ahead and did that for about 3 hours before cooking to relieve my nerves. Finally, I cooked the stems as described below.

This dish was really thrilling!

purple kale from our community garden plot

purple kale from our community garden plot

Oh, just remembered, I couldn’t find the quick-cooking polenta which was a real drag. Instead I used the regular stuff which I prepared over a double boiler per package instructions.

black-eyed peas with purple kale and polenta

for the black-eyed peas:

1½ cups dried black-eyed peas, rinsed, picked over and soaked in water about three hours
3 cups water
1 yellow onion, in medium dice
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp dried pasilla powder
1 tsp dried turmeric
Black pepper to taste
1 cup veggie stock (I made my own with onion and celery)
Kosher salt to taste

for the polenta:

1 cup polenta
2 to 3 tbsp mascarpone
¼ tsp ground white pepper
1 large bunch of purple kale stems, sliced thin
½ onion, in medium dice
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup sake or cooking wine (white)
Salt to taste

for the sautéed purple kale:

1 large bunch purple kale (use stems above), sliced finely
1 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1 tbsp soy sauce

to prepare black-eyed peas:

onions with turmeric and pasilla powder in pot with uncooked black-eyed peas

onions with turmeric and pasilla powder in pot with uncooked black-eyed peas

Drain soaking peas. Place peas in pot with 3 cups water.

In a skillet, sauté the onion in olive oil until translucent. Don’t add salt or your peas won’t cook. Add garlic, turmeric and pasilla then cook for a half minute more. Add to peas and bring the pot to a boil then reduce to simmer. Stir occasionally. Add veggie stock when liquid is reduced by about half. Cook until peas are tender (about an hour). When ready, add salt and black pepper to taste. Set aside.

to prepare polenta:

Sauté the onion and crushed garlic in olive oil with a pinch of salt. After they’ve begun to cook, add the kale stems and sauté for a few more minutes. Add sake and cover to let steam. If still not tender, add some water and let cook until tender. Discard garlic clove and set aside.

Follow package instructions for your polenta. Instead of butter or olive oil, add mascarpone at the end of cooking with the sautéed purple kale stems and white pepper. Press polenta into an oiled pie or cake dish. I used a pie-shaped serving dish. Set aside.

to prepare sautéed purple kale:

Merely sauté kale in olive oil. Add soy sauce and crushed red pepper after kale has begun to wilt.

the three components for black-eyed peas with purple kale and polenta

the three components for black-eyed peas with purple kale and polenta

to assemble dish:

Ladle some black-eyed peas onto a dinner plate. Top with a slice of polenta. Garnish with sautéed kale. Mmm-mmm-mmm! Thanks again for this amazing recipe, Alaiyo!

{ 2 comments }

Portuguese businessman’s salt cod aka bacalhau à Gomes de Sá

Portuguese businessman’s salt cod aka bacalhau à Gomes de Sá

This is another Portuguese salt cod recipe which I adore. Legend says that it was created by a businessman from the northern city of Porto, hence the name Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá. It is a complete success all over Brazil and a comfort food for me. It reminds me of the holidays from my childhood. My brothers and sisters would all come home and my mom would make special delectable meals for the 13 of us! Lots of activity in the kitchen preparing meals for a big family! This was one of the best.

Portuguese businessman’s salt cod aka bacalhau à Gomes de Sá

2lb dry salt cod
4 large Yukon gold potatoes
4 red bell peppers, cut in quarters, stems and seeds removed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp black peppercorn
1 cup olive oil
4 tbsp canola oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 eggs boiled – how to boil eggs?
½ cup pitted Kalamata olives
½ bunch Italian parsley, chopped fine
3 medium sized white onions, 2 of them cut thinly in half moon shape
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt

Soak cod in cold water for about 24 hours changing water about 4 times. Place cod in a large saucepan, fill with fresh water; add bay leaf, peppercorns and one whole onion. Bring to a boil then reduce temperature to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer cod with part of the cooking water to a bowl and let it cool down to room temperature. Retain remaining cooking water in pan. Drain, shred cod into bite size pieces. Remove and discard skin and any bones.

cooked, desalinated cod

cooked, desalinated cod

prepared salt cod

prepared salt cod

Return saucepan to the burner. Add whole potatoes, top with more water if needed. Bring to a boil and cook until soft by not crumbly. Mine took about 25 minutes. Scoop potatoes out of the pan, and let them cool in a colander. Once cool enough to handle, peel and cut into thick slices then set aside, keep warm.

Follow the link above to boil the eggs.

Meanwhile add canola oil to a pan that is wide enough to lay quartered peppers skin down in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt, cover, bring temperature to high. Then lower it and cook/poach peppers until soft and skins are wrinkled, about 15-20 minutes. Do not burn them. Remove from heat, let cool, peel and discard skins. Set aside. Reserve the oil for other cooking purposes.

Wipe the pan with a paper towel, add ¾ cup olive oil, sliced onion, some salt and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring every now and then. Onions should be soft but not browned. Towards the last minute add crushed garlic followed by the prepared cod. Put in parsley, bell and black peppers. Carefully fold in potatoes and heat through.

Transfer to a warm serving bowl, garnish with slices of egg and Kalamata olives. Drizzle remaining olive oil over everything.

{ 9 comments }

corn penne with tempeh in black pepper sauce

February 13, 2012

I’m really excited about this dish because the pasta I’m using is made of corn! Can you believe it?!? While I’m a huge fan of corn, I was just skeptical about it as pasta. Is it even possible to make good pasta with grains other than wheat? Okay, that’s a little dramatic as I’ve had […]

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patê de sardinha AKA sardine paté

February 6, 2012

I simply love the site sardine society. It is fully dedicated to the noble, cheap and widely available canned sardine, and all-things canned-sardine related. What a great way to honor these humble, delicious and prolific fish. Sardines have a wonderful flavor, are inexpensive and are a rich source of protein. Yet they always seem to […]

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