lemon

vegetable paella

by Heguiberto on July 10, 2013

Yottam Ottolenghi’s Plenty attacks again! His vegetable paella is divine. It is full of color and flavors. If pilaf and paella have the same linguistic root, then I think this vegetable paella must be either an early progenitor of both or perhaps the modern trans-national child of the pair, as it not only uses saffron threads, but also turmeric and chili powders common to Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines: incredible! And then there’s the sherry… Wow.

vegetable paella

vegetable paella

Yotam recommends using Calasparra rice but to be honest I have never heard of it before, so couldn’t even begin to think of where to find it. At any given time my rice pantry will always have few different varieties, so I made do with what I had. My choice was Thai jasmine rice. I selected this kind because I’ve made successful paella before with it. He also recommends using freshly shelled fava beans which would have been great but I was not able to find them in the market. Instead I substituted them for a fresh frozen shelled bag of edamame.

This dish is vegetarian and vegan. So flavorful, your meat eating loved ones will enjoy it too.

vegetable paella

6 tbsp olive oil
1 medium Vidalia onion sliced thinly
1 red pepper cut into strips
1 yellow pepper cut into strips
½ fennel bulb cut into thin strips
4 garlic cloves crushed
2 fresh bay leaves
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp chili powder (cayenne)
¾ cup sherry
1 container of saffron threads (0.020oz)
2 cups Thai Jasmine rice
3 ½ cups vegetable stock – hot
thin half-moon-shaped lemon slices
4 tbsp julienned sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
8 halves of grilled artichokes, preserved in oil, drained
¾ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1 pint of mixed small heirloom tomatoes, halved
~ 2tbsp chopped parsley
Kosher salt

You need a paella pan or a similar large shallow pan for the dish. On high heat, add olive oil followed by the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, add sweet peppers and fennel and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Peppers and fennel will soften a bit but still hold their crunch.

Mix in turmeric, bay leaves, paprika. Add rice and mix it again so rice gets some coloring. Stir in saffron and sherry, continue to cook long enough for the sherry juices to be absorbed/evaporated. Add vegetable stock, and kosher salt to taste, lower the temperature and cook for about 18 minutes. Liquid will be almost fully absorbed by the rice. To prevent the rice from breaking refrain from stirring while cooking. Turn off the heat.

Tuck in olives, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, lemon slices, then sprinkle with parsley. Let rest, covered, for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid, drizzle with some extra virgin oil and serve.

{ 6 comments }

I have always wanted to try making a salt crusted fish, really ever since Emeril Lagasse made it on his show about ten years ago. It was so impressive when he cracked the fish out of its salty shell. He didn’t even need that trademark expression to pique my interest.

salt crusted red snapper with lemon and olive oil

salt crusted red snapper with lemon and olive oil

This dish is simple—yes, simple. And it makes quite an impression for a dinner party, which is when I made this recipe for the first time. Two of our guests, Aime and Whitney, had just ordered this at an over-priced restaurant in Las Vegas for a whopping $150—for a single fish at that.

I used the recipe from epicurious which was much simpler than Tyler Florence’s. I made two since I had a group of five. This was perfect and even left a bit of fish for Clarence to enjoy later.

salt crusted red snapper with lemon and olive oil

2 pounds Kosher salt
1 cup water
2 pound whole red snapper, cleaned
1 lemon
Olive oil

here I am patting the salt over the red snapper

here I am patting the salt over the red snapper

it's time for the oven

it’s time for the oven

the guests are enjoying themselves as I work in the kitchen

the guests are enjoying themselves as I work in the kitchen

just out of the oven it looks like dirty snow

just out of the oven it looks like dirty snow

my first ever salt crusted red snapper

my first ever salt crusted red snapper

Pre-heat oven to 450F.

Cut lemon in half then slice one half into three or four rounds. Fill fish’s cavity with lemon slices.
Pour water into salt and mix. Press about half of the moistened salt in the bottom of a baking sheet. Place fish on top. Press remaining salt over entire fish to make a bright white mound. Bake 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and crack open salt crust with a wooden spoon, meat tenderizer or what have you. This is the most impressive part of the entire process though messy, too. I performed this step in the kitchen, made a huge mess, and delighted my company.

Place fish on serving platter. Drizzle with some olive oil and lemon juice from reserved half lemon. Garnish and enjoy.

I served this with a hearty lentil and caramelized onion rice as we were drinking red wine that night.

{ 7 comments }

taro root and mustard green soup

taro root and mustard green soup

I simply love taro root. I especially prize its glossiness and slippery texture when cooked. In Brazil we eat taro root mostly in savory dishes, such as soups and stews. I bought a bag of fresh taro root at a Filipino market we went to recently in Daly City. It looked as though the roots had just been harvested. Each one was heavy for its size, firm, hairy and unblemished. I was excited because every time I see these roots at the markets here in San Francisco they never look that good, tending to be badly mistreated, moldy and dehydrated. Taro roots might not be as cute, but in my opinion, they are as sensitive as fresh berries and deserve equal treatment. What do you think?

So the roots are my inspiration today. I made them into this delicious tropical style soup that sort of reminded me of the French Vichyssoise except that there is not dairy or potatoes here.

fresh taro root

fresh taro root


The pic of the fresh taro comes from Just Hungry.

taro root and mustard green soup

1 bag taro roots (about 2lbs.), peeled and quartered
1 white onion, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 vegan vegetable bouillon cube
4 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
I bunch of mustard greens, cleaned, leaves left whole
White pepper
Wedges of lemon (optional)

vegan veggie bouillon

vegan veggie bouillon

Place a saucepan on stove top, bring temperature to high; add olive oil, followed by onion and sauté until translucent. Add garlic, taro root, soup bouillon and enough water to submerge the veggies by about two to three inches. Cover pan and cook until taro starts to dissolve, stirring periodically. Add more water as needed. Use a stick blender to purée until smooth and thick. Add more hot water to thin the soup, as you like. Season with salt and white pepper. Just before serving, drop in mustard leaves and let them wilt without losing their crunchiness. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with wedges of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.

{ 5 comments }

fish biryani

by Heguiberto on November 8, 2011

This is our recipe for the biryani cook-off that the delightful Heavenly was so good to sponsor. Though after making this marvelous, complex dish; I’m starting to think that she might have been misnamed, as it appears that a tiny bit of a devilish streak lies hidden among all that domestic goodness and glamour. Have you ever seen one of those cartoons with the good angel and the bad angel sitting on the main character’s shoulders, giving opposite confusing advice? Then you know where I’m coming from here.

fish biryani

fish biryani

Okay I always promise myself whenever I’m about to cook Indian that I’ll get the spices out first, so I don’t get mixed up or forget anything, then proceed to the actual cooking adventure. But no, I didn’t do that again! Perhaps that was my evil angel’s counsel. I got dizzy from relentlessly having to go back and forth to the pantry and spinning the lazy-susan over and over and over again to locate the next needed spice for this dish. How funny that now that we have a new kitchen with a dedicated place for spices, I still find myself unable to find anything. I hope that one day they add some computerized artificial intelligence with a soothing voice to kitchen cabinets that will both find anything that I want via verbal-command and will calm me with his/her flattery and encouragement as I freak out at the stovetop. Then no more getting lost in the aromatic black hole I call my spice cabinet.

spice chaos as I look for ingredients for fish biryani

spice chaos as I look for ingredients for fish biryani

I must confess I think I have never made a dish that was so complicated. Lots of steps! I quite liked the result, but this was an effort. I am going to test the recipe again using spices in different proportions. I feel sure each time it will come out tasting slightly differently, so I can mix it up some. I’m excited to read about everyone else’s versions in the cook-off. You should be too. Follow these links for the other “contestants’” biryani masterpieces.

Heavenly Housewife from donuts to delirium
Vanessa from sweet artichoke
Glamorous Glutton
moinetteTeczcape: An Escape to Food
Laura from healthyjalapeno

fish biryani

Make Masala powder first. See below for recipe.

toasting the spices for the Masala powder

toasting the spices for the Masala powder

for the rice:

2 cup basmati rice
1 bay leaf
2 inch piece of cinnamon stick
Few peppercorns
¼ tsp kosher salt

Soak rice in plenty of water for about one hour. Drain. Place rice in a saucepan with 5 cups of water. Drop in salt, bay leaf, pepper corn, and parboil the rice for about 10 minutes. Do not overcook it! Drain and set aside.

for the fish:

1 lb monkfish cut into individual pieces, or any other firm white fish
Juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp Masala powder*
1tsp coriander powder
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tsp kosher salt

Make a paste by mixing lemon juice, garlic and ginger paste, salt and powders. Rub on fish pieces and marinate for about ½ hour. Keep it refrigerated if your kitchen gets too hot.

gently poaching the monkfish in the Masala sauce

gently poaching the monkfish in the Masala sauce

for the Masala sauce:

1 large onion, cut into thin half moon slices
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Serrano peppers, minced, ribs and seeds partially removed
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
A few mint leaves, julienned
1 tsp Aleppo pepper
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp fresh garlic paste
1 tsp fresh ginger paste
2 tbsp Masala powder *
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ajwain seeds
1 tsp black peppercorn
½ tsp allspice powder
¼ tsp clove powder
¼ tsp onion seeds
1½ cups plain yogurt
2 tbsp canola oil
A few strands saffron
1 tsp sugar

Add oil to a large skillet followed by onion and minced Serrano pepper. Cook until onion becomes wilted and translucent. Push onion to the side of skillet. Add ginger and garlic pastes, ajwain seeds, bay leaf, black peppercorn, Aleppo pepper, Masala powder, turmeric, allspice and clove powder, saffron, onion seeds, sugar and cook until raw smells dissipate. Add tomato, stir everything together and cook until tomatoes begin to dissolve. Mix yogurt with half cup of water and fold into the sauce. Carefully lay fish pieces over the Masala sauce, cover pan and cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes. Mix in cilantro and mint leaves.

At this point heat up the oven to 450F.

ready to layer the baking dish with rice and fish

ready to layer the baking dish with rice and fish

several layers of rice and fish to form my biryani

several layers of rice and fish to form my biryani

*for the Masala powder for fish

5 whole cloves
4 green cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks ~3 inch each
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin leaves
1 bay leaf
½ tsp grated nutmeg
1 tbsp ground coriander

Place cloves, cardamom, fennel and bay leaf in a saucepan; put it over burner over high heat. Dry roast spices for a few minutes until aromatic, being careful not to burn it. Transfer to a coffee grinder and pulverize. Mix in ground nutmeg and coriander. (My coriander was already ground, if you have seeds use them instead).

to assemble the fish biryani:

Using an oven-proof baking dish with a cover, assemble the biryani with one layer of rice, followed by a layer of fish masala, and finish with the remaining Masala sauce. Repeat so you end up with three or four layers of all ingredients. Cover and bake for about 30 minutes. The rice will finish cooking in the masala sauce without becoming overly cooked. Remove from oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

If you haven’t had enough fish biryani yet, look here, here and here for other related versions.

{ 7 comments }

And here’s another dish from the-Y-O, that’s Yotam Ottolenghi to you and me. This adaptation from “Plenty” was a huge success. The dish is South East Asian inspired, since it uses sambal sauce.

sambal okra over coconut rice

sambal okra over coconut rice

Sambal is a fiery sauce made with chili peppers, shallots, tamarind and other spices. The-Y-O claims that a dish like this is served in Malaysia for breakfast. “Wow” is all I can say, people and their cuisines sure can be different. This is spicy! I can’t imagine having it for breakfast. It reminds me of our trip to Thailand and Cambodia a few years ago. When we first arrived, the brutal jet lag had me hungry for spicy foods loaded with fish sauce in the morning. That’s standard fare there, so it worked out really well, at least at the beginning. Fried rice and fish soup at 7AM, no problem! I ate with gusto and it was all simply delicious! After a week or two, as I adjusted to the Thai clock, I began to have trouble with that kind of breakie.

I’ve made sambal before with calamari and shrimp, but didn’t think breakfast-time. We had this sambal okra for dinner, which is just fine by me. Really, it was so tasty that I’d be willing to have it anytime, including for breakfast… I bet this would be a super remedy for a hangover…

sambal okra over coconut rice

for the coconut rice:

1 cup basmati rice rinsed
½ cup coconut milk
1½ cups water
2 rinds of lemon
4 thin slices of fresh ginger
Kosher salt to taste

for the okra:

1 lb frozen baby okra
Lemon or lime wedges
Cilantro leaves for decoration

for the sambal sauce:

3 fresh Jalapeño peppers, seeds and ribs partially removed (leave some for heat)
5 dried red chili peppers, seeds discarded
8 baby shallots
2 garlic cloves
1tsp paprika
½ cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp sugar
Kosher salt to taste

Add chilies fresh and dried, shallots, garlic, paprika, tamarind, sugar, 2 tablespoons of oil and another 2 of water to the food processor and spin until it turns into paste.

Place remaining oil in a large skillet on high. Pour paste in and sauté for a minute or so. Turn temperature down and cook it for about 10 minutes. The sambal sauce will be ready when it becomes dark brownish red in color and oil starts to separate from the paste. Set aside.

Place all rice ingredients in a saucepan on high heat. Give it a good stir. Bring to a boil. Stir again, reduce temperature to low, cover and cook until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, keeping covered, and let rest for 8-10 minutes.

Have a pan ready with boiling water within the last 8-10 minutes rice is finishing cooking. Drop frozen okra into the water and cook 3-4 minutes to scald the little pods. Transfer okra to a colander and run some cold water over to stop cooking process.

Heat up sambal, fold in okra and let it warm through.

Transfer rice to a serving platter, top with sambal okra & decorate with cilantro leaves and wedges of lemon.

{ 11 comments }

Everybody throughout the northern hemisphere is probably eating summer food right now; you know: barbecue, ice cream, sno-cones, watermelon, and most anything grilled. Not us! The heat wave that has sent temperatures soaring past the 100’s elsewhere has yet to reach San Francisco. So we’re ‘stuck’ in the almost eternal refrigerator chill that makes the City by the Bay that much more unique. Yesterday was typical. The sun peeked out early in the afternoon, but then as night began to fall, the fog blew in and temperatures plunged. So San Francisco. We all know that nothing’s better than a warm, spicy bowl of soup on a cold day, whatever the season. So that’s my inspiration. If this sounds appealing to you, then bookmark the recipe for winter ;) or come for a visit sometime soon.

Indian red lentil soup with Savoy cabbage

Indian red lentil soup with Savoy cabbage

This is based upon another soup that I’m partial to: vegan spicy Indian red dal. The advantage of making dal soups is that you can improvise, adding many different ingredients that will completely alter the flavor and texture, giving them new dimensions. This time I added Savoy cabbage, which I do not believe is a typical Indian vegetable.

To me, Savoy cabbage looks like a mixture between “regular” and Napa cabbage. It has the spherical shape of the former but the leaves are tender and wrinkled, like you see in the later. Savoy is sweet, and healthy, of course. Like broccoli, cauliflower and the other cabbages, it is a member of the brassica family. I love that name, “brassica,” which is why I’m constantly writing it on the blog. Plus they’re good eating and very versatile. They’re especially successful in soups, like here, or simply sautéed with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.

key ingredients for Indian red lentil soup with Savoy cabbage

key ingredients for Indian red lentil soup with Savoy cabbage

Indian red lentil soup with Savoy cabbage

½ cup of red lentil, picked over and rinsed
1 stalk celery, chopped
¼ tsp turmeric
2 medium carrots, diced small
3 medium onions chopped
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp grated fresh garlic
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
5 Roma tomatoes, peeled and diced
½ head Savoy cabbage, chopped
1 Poblano pepper, seeds and ribs partially removed, cut into small squares
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp ground chili pepper (e.g cayenne)
4 tbsp canola oil
½ bunch chopped cilantro
Wedges of lemon
Salt

Place lentils, turmeric, carrots and celery in a large pot. Add about 5-6 cups of water. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, until soft. These foam up a bit so to avoid a mess, keep lid partially off. Stir every now and then to prevent sticking. Add a bit more of water if needed but don’t overdo. Lentils are ready when soft and mushy with a thick consistency. Turn temperature down, add cabbage, cover pot and let simmer.

Toast cumin seeds in a large pan for a couple of minutes just to bring the aroma out. Transfer to a dish and set aside.

Using the same pan, add oil then mustard seeds and fry them. As they begin to pop, about a minute or so, add onions, Poblano pepper and sauté until onion becomes translucent (about five minutes). Push onion mix to one side of the pan. Add garlic and ginger. Cook until raw smells are gone but avoid burning. Stir everything together. Add toasted cumin seeds, chili pepper, coriander and cumin powders to onion mixture. Stir again. Add tomatoes and a cup of water. Bring to a boil then reduce temperature to simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes.

Pour onion/tomato mix over lentils and fold together. Add salt to taste. Simmer for another 10-12 minutes. Stir in cilantro.

Serve with basmati rice and a wedge of lemon.

see what I mean about the fog

see what I mean about the fog?

{ 7 comments }

I’ve been dreaming of this polenta cake with citrus glaze for months, ever since I stumbled across the recipe on the delightful blog, Journey of an Italian Cook. That was just around the time our kitchen remodel began so I’ve been putting off preparing it. Well, the wait is over and I can tell you, just as Claudia writes in her story, this cake is mesmerizing.

polenta cake with citrus glaze

polenta cake with citrus glaze

Heguiberto is a real fan of any corn-cake and I love glazes, so this one truly is a match made in heaven.

I didn’t have any oranges as is called for in the original recipe (we’d just squeezed them all into juice). And I ended up using three Mexican limes, which are smaller than “conventional” ones. They were hard to zest, but worth it. I made about half the amount of glaze than was recommended. Claudia got me thinking that it was easy to overdo it. Also I didn’t use the spring form pan (I always struggle with those). Instead I tried a round glass baking dish which I lined with wax paper. The cake came out quite easily.

But unfortunately, it fell in the middle. This worried me a bit, especially after I applied the glaze and it pooled in the center excessively. Fortunately, the cake was fairly dry so absorbed it. I had missed the direction about sifting the powdered sugar for the glaze so mine was lumpy. To cover that I sifted more sugar over the whole thing before serving.

It was a huge success! My charming dinner guests didn’t even mind that the cake fell. To them it seems it felt more authentically homemade. What wonderful guests!

polenta cake with citrus glaze

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup instant polenta
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 lemon
3 Mexican limes
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup confectioner’s sugar (sifted)

Preheat oven to 325F.

Zest citrus.

Mix flour, polenta, baking powder, and salt together.

In another bowl, beat eggs and sugar together for about three or four minutes on medium high until they triple in volume. Mix in zest. In an alternating fashion, add dry mix then olive oil into beaten eggs. Blend until just moist.

Line baking dish with wax paper and pour batter into dish (about 9 inch round). Bake 30 to 40 minutes until slightly golden and surface of cake becomes firm. Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 15 minutes. Gently remove from baking dish and peel off paper.

Squeeze citrus into small bowl with confectioner’s sugar. Mix to combine. Pour glaze over cake. Dust with more sugar just before serving.

{ 4 comments }

I’ve made this delicious recipe before but this time around it is even more special to me because this Swiss chard has Potrero Hill terroir. That’s right! My community garden plot has finally produced its first crop.

sautéed rainbow Swiss chard with garlic and lemon

sautéed rainbow Swiss chard with garlic and lemon

I was able to harvest this batch of tender, shiny chard leaves from my thriving plants. They are clearly enjoying soaking up the California sunshine and Pacific breezes in the windy heights of Potrero Hill. What an exciting moment! We’ve been working on this garden since February and it is finally paying off. Now I’m really looking forward to harvesting the different types of kale and the sweet peas soon.

one of the Swiss chard plants in my community garden plot

one of the Swiss chard plants in my community garden plot

fresh rainbow Swiss chard from my community garden plot

fresh rainbow Swiss chard from my community garden plot

This dish is very simple to make. In the original post, I used Meyer lemon. This time I used a squirt of Lisbon lemon at the end just to give a hint of sourness. This is a perfect side dish of greens to accompany almost any meal. I served mine with Pindzur, rice and cranberry beans. Yum!

sautéed home-grown rainbow Swiss chard with garlic and lemon

14 leaves Swiss chard, stems cut into ½ pieces, leaves roughly cut into large pieces or left whole
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt to taste
Juice of ½ Lisbon lemon

Add oil to a skillet on high. Add garlic and sauté for a couple of seconds until aromatic. Add chard stems and cook for a minute. Add chard leaves. Shake the pan a couple of times to coat leaves with olive oil. Cover and vigorously continue to shake the pan to cook leaves evenly. It’s ready when volume has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add lemon juice, transfer it to a platter and serve.

{ 7 comments }

kiwi fennel ceviche

February 1, 2011

Last Saturday we practiced a day of casual hedonism. It was one of those typical rainy and cold ones that drearily says “winter” in San Francisco. Not to be put out by Mother Nature’s uncooperativeness, my work friend, Chris, joined us for an afternoon of wine tasting, then cooking at home, more drinking, and watching […]

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grilled artichokes with mint, caper and anchovy

November 8, 2010

My friend John made this antepasto several times for us. It is so tasty that I requested, no, firmly insisted, on the recipe from him. He spotted it on Epicurious. He did make some minimal changes to the dish, mostly with the amounts of ingredients. This is his version as best as I can make […]

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