cayenne

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 }

Moqueca is a delicious fish stew traditional to the beautiful and sunny state of Bahia in Brazil. Seafood there is of excellent quality. In Bahia this dish is named moqueca but outside we call it moqueca baiana. I think I’ve actually been biased toward moqueca capixaba, a lighter version popular in the neighboring state of Espírito Santo, just to the south. Perhaps the reason is simply because I have a couple of dear friends who live in ES. In Bahia, one only eats moqueca Baiana; and in Espírito Santo, moqueca capixaba. Truly, both are delicious.

moqueca baiana AKA Bahian fish stew

moqueca baiana AKA Bahian fish stew

Traditional moqueca baiana is made without paprika or shrimp paste. I decided to use these two alien ingredients for enhanced flavors and more color vibrancy. But this doesn’t make this a lesser a moqueca in any way. At times, Bahian foods remind me of South East Asian dishes or even things made in Louisiana. See here and here.

I purchased the dendê oil (palm oil) from the outrageously expensive Rainbow Foods Supermarket in San Francisco. It was Colombian, not Brazilian, but has an identical flavor. Actually, I had to go to several shops before I could locate it, so thank heavens for Rainbow. It was their last jar of the stuff.

I’ve had moqueca baiana many times but never actually made it at home, so this was a very exiting experience for me. I hope that you enjoy it as well.

some key ingredients for moqueca baiana AKA Bahian fish stew

some key ingredients for moqueca baiana AKA Bahian fish stew

my organic palm oil

my organic palm oil

moqueca baiana AKA Bahian fish stew

2½ lbs skinless thick pieces of wild caught ling cod, cut in ~6 inch steaks
½ lb medium sized wild caught shrimp; shelled, deveined and chopped
1 lb ripe heirloom tomatoes, skin removed, cut into chunks
½ bunch cilantro
4 scallions, green and white parts chopped
¼ cup coconut milk
2 tbsp dendê oil (palm oil)
¾ tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp shrimp paste (belakan)
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin rings
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin rings
1 white onion, diced small
2 limes
5 cloves garlic, crushed
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt to taste
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 red chili pepper, seeds and ribs removed, sliced thinly

Rinse fish in cold water; pat dry with paper towel. Place in a dish. Squeeze juice of 1 lime over it. Add equivalent of 3 cloves of garlic, followed by salt and a sprinkle of black pepper. Let it marinate for about ½ hour, in the fridge if too hot. In blustery San Francisco, I just let it chill on my kitchen counter.

Rinse shrimp in cold water; pat dry with paper towel. Place in a small bowl. Squeeze juice of second lime, add salt, black pepper, equivalent of one garlic clove, cover and let it marinate next to the cod fish.

Using a large and wide cooking pan, add dendê oil and onion. Bring temperature to high and cook for a few minutes just to sweat the onion, add remaining garlic, peppers, belakan, paprika, sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir everything together. Cover the pan and cook for about 3 minutes on high heat. Stir to avoid burning. Add tomatoes and cook until they collapse. Remove 1/3 of partially stewed vegetables to a bowl. Add fish steaks with juices to pan. Top with reserved stewed veggies. Cover and continue cooking vigorously on high heat for another 10 minutes. Carefully flip the fish half way through.

Uncover and scatter spring onion and ½ of the cilantro over fish followed by the shrimp with juices. Cook for another minute. Carefully mix in coconut milk and remaining cilantro. Adjust flavors with more salt and pepper if needed. Serve with white jasmine rice and extra wedges of lime.

{ 8 comments }

I always think of stuffed veggies as an elegant treat. When I was younger, they mystified me. How in the world did anyone figure out how to fill these delectable creations just right? Now that I’m officially “middle aged” and thus more experienced in the kitchen, the question no longer interests me. Instead, I’m quite comfortable improvising.

yellow bell peppers stuffed with mung bean, feta and fresh herbs

yellow bell peppers stuffed with mung bean, feta and fresh herbs

And that is what these mung bean filled peppers are all about. I had the ingredients at home already and sort of made the recipe up as I went along. I liked it so well, that I kept snacking on the filling while I was preparing the dish. Mmmm.

Typically, poblanos are my favorite pepper to stuff, as I prefer their earthy, smoky flavors over the plain sweet bell peppers. Mine were too tiny for that. So instead I chopped one up and sautéed it to bring those tastes to the dish.

bake any remaining filling in ramekins for an attractive presentation

bake any remaining filling in ramekins for an attractive presentation

my big jug of dried green mung beans

my big jug of dried green mung beans

yellow bell peppers stuffed with mung bean, feta and fresh herbs

4 to 6 medium to large yellow bell peppers
3 tbsp olive oil plus more
1 poblano pepper; stems, ribs and seeds removed; chopped fine
2 pieces green garlic, green and white parts, chopped fine
4 scallions, green and white parts, chopped fine
1 small bunch Italian parsley, chopped fine
1 small bunch mint, chopped fine
3 cups prepared mung beans
½ lb. French feta or similar that will melt easily
2 tbsp pignioli nuts
12 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne

I usually start with dry mung beans. This time, I had some that I’d already prepared, frozen and awaiting this delicious recipe. These lovely beans don’t require soaking. Just boil in water for about 30 to 45 minutes. That’s it. They should be completely drained before using here.

To prepare yellow bell peppers for stuffing, remove tops and interior seeds and ribs with a paring knife.
Steam for ten minutes then rinse to cool.

Pre heat oven to 350F.

In a large skillet, add olive oil then sauté green garlic, scallion, chopped poblano pepper and a pinch of salt for a few minutes until they soften. Add mung bean, cover and warm through. Add feta, mint, parsley, pignoli, olives and mix everything together. Adjust salt and add black pepper. Remember for the filling to taste right with the unsalted peppers, it should be slightly salty on its own.

Gently fill yellow bell peppers with mung bean mix and place on a baking dish. If you have extra filling (like I did) you can bake that in ramekins for an elegant presentation, or in any baking dish. Finish with some more olive oil and dust the filled peppers with cayenne.

Bake about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. We had ours with plain basmati rice.

{ 4 comments }

batter fried apple rings

by Stevie on October 24, 2011

This is not something that I’ve ever tried before: deep frying apple rings in a corn flour batter. I read about it in the New York Times Magazine recently. The article had a dozen recipes for apples. Of course, I was only drawn to the deep-fried section ;) Aside from this one, they recommended a way of making tempura-style apple rings, which sounded great but looked more complex; plus the more widely-known apple fritter.

batter fried apple rings

batter fried apple rings

This dish calls for corn meal, but I didn’t have that, so I used corn flour instead. I made this for breakie, though I think that it could be a fun sweet-treat, especially served à la mode with vanilla ice-cream. If you’re feeling particularly frisky, then add hot fudge or caramel sauce and some whipped cream. Now that sounds good!

batter fried apple rings

2 medium apples—I used Granny Smith
½ cup flour
½ cup corn meal or flour
1 cup buttermilk
1/8 tsp cayenne
Canola oil to fry with

Peel and core apples. Cut into about quarter inch thick rings. Soak in the buttermilk.

Mix dry ingredients together. Toss apples into flour mixture. Fry in hot oil until golden brown. Let drain on paper towels. Serve warm.

{ 7 comments }

This recipe comes from Paul Prudhomme’s incredible cookbook, Louisiana Cooking. When I lived in Dallas in the nineties, I frequently used this book. I was especially partial to his panéed chicken and fettucini, spice-coated deep fried chicken thighs over a rich and spicy cream sauce with pasta. The dish blew my socks off.

Louisiana style shrimp and crab stuffed eggplant

Louisiana style shrimp and crab stuffed eggplant

Everything in the book has butter, fat, lots of oil and usually something gets fried. Plus there’re tons of thrilling Cajun spices thrown in the mix. This is food for the young. You need to be in good health with a fast metabolism to survive it unscathed, at least if you’re dining this way on a regular basis. Otherwise, these succulent recipes fall into my once-in-a-blue-moon culinary category.

we felt like this after the Louisiana eggplant dish, all tired and sluggish, though it was amazing

we felt like this after the Louisiana eggplant dish, all tired and sluggish, though it was amazing

Actually, I haven’t cooked from this book in about ten years. When I‘d first met Hegui, I wanted to show off a bit by making an eggplant recipe found in these magical pages. It was sort of like today’s dish: deep fried eggplant stuffed with shrimp. We were in New York then, and it was late July during a heat wave. Only one room of my apartment had air conditioning. So I turned it on full blast, moved the dining table and chairs into the bedroom, and slaved away for a while in the really hot kitchen. I plated everything and it looked perfect! The only problem was the level of spice. Then Hegui didn’t appreciate spicy food at all. I loved (and still love) it. But I think that I made some sort of mistake somewhere along the line. This dish, like the weather, was impossible: way, way too hot. Neither of us could tolerate it. What a disaster!

to recover, what we should have done is this, gone dancing

to recover, what we should have done is this, gone dancing

So I’ve been thinking of that dinner from long ago, wondering about trying again. There are several recipes for stuffed eggplant in Louisiana Cooking. This one with crab and shrimp, called Eggplant Bayou Teche, I don’t think is the same as that one I made before. But like all Prudhomme recipes, it requires lots of oil, shellfish, butter, spices, and the eggplant, of course, gets deep fried. So this is really good and really filling.

I mis-read the directions so failed to peel the eggplant. I don’t think that was such a problem. I used only one pound of shrimp, instead of the recommended 1½ lbs. Also, I had two large eggplants. I think that turned into a lot of food in a single serving, since you really need to give each diner an entire “eggplant canoe” at the table for it to look right. Next time, I’m going to use smaller eggplant and more of them. You’re supposed to add one teaspoon of garlic powder to the spice mix, but I didn’t have any so left it out. I needed more breadcrumbs than recommended, ran out of the spice mix and made my own seafood stock with the shells from the shrimp, the juice from the container of lump crab meat, half an onion and two celery stalks.

We had ours with black beans and rice. There were lots of leftovers.

preparing the eggplant canoe

preparing the eggplant canoe

Louisiana style shrimp and crab stuffed eggplant

3 medium eggplant
½ onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
½ green bell pepper, finely chopped
¼ cup vegetable oil plus more to fry eggplant
1 cup flour
1½ cups seafood stock
1 cup fine breadcrumbs
¾ cup soy milk
1 large egg
6 tbsp unsalted butter
½ pound lump crab meat
1 pound shrimp
½ cup finely chopped green onions
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp Pastis or similar anise flavored alcohol

For the spice mix:

4½ tsp salt
1 tbsp sweet paprika
2 tsp white pepper
1½ tsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried basil

Remove woody parts of eggplant, (peel if you wish), cut in halves the long way. Carefully remove the interior of the eggplant so that there is about a quarter inch shell. I used a paring knife and scooped it out with a spoon. Use removed eggplant for another dish. Wrap eggplant shells tightly and refrigerate.
Mix all spice ingredients together and set aside.

In another bowl, mix chopped onion, celery and green pepper together. Set aside.

To make the sauce:

Start by making a roux. In a medium saucepan, add ¼ cup oil on high heat. Cook until it begins to smoke. Then slowly mix in ¼ cup flour. Stir with a wire whisk for several minutes until the roux becomes medium brown in color. Remove from heat, and stir in the chopped veggies and 1½ tsp of the spice mix. Set aside.

In another saucepan, bring seafood stock to boil. Gradually stir in the roux. Cook on high heat for about five minutes, then simmer for another five minutes. Remove from heat and strain the sauce into a bowl. Set aside. Discard the veggies.

To prepare the eggplant boats:

Beat the egg in a large bowl. Add milk and 1 tbsp spice mix. In another bowl, add remaining flour and 1 tbsp spice mix. In a third add breadcrumbs and 1 tbsp spice mix. Heat enough oil in a deep skillet to submerge the eggplant at least half way. Unwrap each eggplant. Rub each with about ½ to ¾ tsp spice mix. Dredge in flour mixture, then milk mixture and finally the breadcrumb mixture. Fry until golden brown. Let drain on paper towels. Repeat with all eggplant halves.

To prepare seafood fillings:

Melt 2 tbsp butter in a medium pan. Add crab meat, half of the green onion, the garlic and ¼ tsp spice mix. Cook for a couple minutes then set aside.

Melt remaining butter in a medium pan. Add shrimp, remaining green onion, 1½ tsp spice mix and cook for a minute. Add reserved sauce and Pastis. Cook until shrimp turn pink.

To serve:

Place eggplant boats on a large heated tray or dish, or you can make individual plates. Fill them first with the crab meat, then with the shrimp and sauce. Enjoy!

{ 5 comments }

My cauliflower didn’t get to sear as much as I wanted for this dish because I was pressured for time. So you can’t see much of the blistering I was aiming for in the florets compared to this other delicious cauliflower recipe. Regardless the flavor was excellent: sweet, smoky with a slight crunch to it.

pan roasted cauliflower with pea shoots

pan roasted cauliflower with pea shoots

Roasting cauliflower either in the oven or on the stovetop brings out a whole new dimension of flavors to this humble cruciferous vegetable. I urge you to give it a try sometime. I complemented the natural flavors with lemon, lime, cayenne pepper and the pea shoots. Serve it a side dish.

pan roasted cauliflower with pea shoots

1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite size pieces
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp smoked paprika
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper
2 cups pea shoots
4 cloves garlic cut into slivers

Toss cauliflower with salt, black pepper and 2 tbsp. olive oil. Place in on a non-stick pan and pan roast it for about 15-20 minutes or until soft but with a crunch. Towards the last five minutes, add garlic, remaining olive oil, then cook for a minute or so until raw garlic smell is gone. Add pea shots, cover pan and let them wilt. Remove from heat, squeeze in lemon and lime juices. Toss in cayenne. Taste, adjust flavors. Sprinkle with paprika and serve warm or at room temperature.

{ 5 comments }

red and white onion bajiis

by Heguiberto on August 30, 2011

Bajjis, bhajis or pakoras are Indian vegetable fritters I adore. They sort of remind me of the type of vegetable/rice fritters my mother used to occasionally make when I was a kid. She called them bolinhos de arroz, or rice balls. It was a creative way of using leftover rice. There was never waste at home and that was a good thing.

red and white onion bajiis

red and white onion bajiis

To make her bolinhos de arroz she would mix flour, baking powder, mild spices, eggs, water, left over rice, grated zucchini or chayote and just fry and serve them as an appetizer or side dish. I thought it was such a treat when she made it! But when you grow up and develop a taste for bold flavors then you replace bolinhos de arroz with bajiis.

You can make bajiis with peppers, eggplant, potatoes, or cauliflower; but my favorite ones have onions.

Here’s a simple recipe with a Brazilian-Indian approach.

red and white onion bajiis

1 medium sized white onion, thinly sliced in half-moon shape
2 medium sized red onions, thinly sliced in half-moon shape
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup chick pea flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper powder
1 tsp kosher salt
2 large organic eggs, lightly beaten
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
3-4 tbsp cold water
Neutral oil such as canola for frying

Mix cilantro, sliced red and white onions together. Set aside.

Fill a skillet with about ½ inch of oil; bring oil temperature to high.

Meanwhile whisk flours, black and cayenne peppers, salt, cumin and turmeric powders together. Incorporate egg and water to make a thick batter. If too thick add a bit more of water. Fold in onions. Drop spoons full of batter into hot oil and fry for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve warm.

{ 7 comments }

Tutu is a dish made in my birth state, Minas Gerais, in Brazil, that consists of mashed beans seasoned with spices and some fat, either of animal or vegetal origin. In the essentials, it is more-or-less the same as the popular Mexican style dish in the US called “refried beans.” Traditionally tutu is served with fried pork skin, braised pork belly or ribs, fried egg, cassava flour, rice and sautéed collard greens. It is a delicious food bomb: you eat it and go directly into a food coma. Next time you visit Minas, make sure to include this on your culinary tour, for it is a local delicacy.

tutu de feijão or vegetarian refried beans

tutu de feijão or vegetarian refried beans

Steven and I used to eat tutu with all the fatty pork all the time, though not since we’ve become pesce-vegetarians. Nevertheless, the other day Steven cooked a large pot of red kidney beans so, feeling inspired, I decided to make some into a delicious vegetarian tutu. Turns out it doesn’t really need all the animal fat to be excellent. Tutu can be served as a side dish to any meal or as party dip. It is nutritious and full of flavor, and, since these are beans, children can have fun making jokes (after all, to English speakers this Portuguese name sounds a lot like “toot-toot”) while the whole family eats healthy.

tutu de feijão or vegetarian refried beans

6 cups cooked red kidney bean plus some of cooking liquid
3 cloves garlic, mashed
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp cumin powder
Pinch cayenne
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
2 whole scallions, chopped

Place beans with some of the liquid in a deep pan. Using a stick blender process until it turns into a thick paste.

Add olive oil to a non-stick skillet, followed by garlic and sauté until aromatic. Next in goes bean paste, salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne pepper. Bring it to a boil, reduce temp to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes to allow time for flavors to blend. Stir every couple of minutes or so to prevent sticking. If excessively wet, cook longer.

Turn oven to broil.

Transfer bean to a heat resistant bowl. Mix cheddar cheese with scallions and scatter mixture over beans. Place bowl in the oven just long enough to melt cheddar. Remove and serve with a side of rice.

{ 6 comments }

dinosaur kale chips

June 14, 2011

We’ve an overabundance of kale right now, what with the unusual June rain we’ve been experiencing in the Bay Area. Our community garden plot has been thriving! That’s good: we’ve been harvesting it weekly and even giving some of the produce away. But it has created a confusing problem, too: what to do with all […]

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spicy scrambled eggs with onion, garlic, celery, tomato and avocado that long to be an omelet

April 5, 2011

I am trying to eat more healthily, but who isn’t really? I have this recipe for an omelet that I got from my acupuncturist. I’ve been going in hope of relieving a muscle spasm that has resulted from a bulging disc in my lower back. He always lectures me about eating more veggies; taking proper […]

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