Serrano chile

I’ve “invented” this recipe, inspired by a condiment of hot peppers, basil and garlic in David Rocco’s colorful, Made in Italy. There’s a gorgeous picture of him using a double-bladed semi-lune knife to chop up the peppers and basil al fresco. I don’t have one of those, so used my food processor. I thought that it turned out just fine that way.

yellow squash and corn in spicy three chile, garlic, basil sauce

yellow squash and corn in spicy three chile, garlic, basil sauce

I grew the serrano chiles in our community garden plot. These were quite small, so tasted extremely hot. The red jalapeños and the poblano came from the market, along with the rest. To reduce the heat a bit, I removed the seeds and stems at least partially from the larger, store bought peppers. Oh, and I realized after I made the condiment that I forgot to add the suggested 1 cup sun dried tomatoes. That might have made a difference in the heat. I have a lot left over, so will probably sauté some other veggies in this fiery elegant sauce soon.

yellow squash and corn in spicy three chile, garlic, basil sauce

2 medium yellow squash, chopped into large bite sized pieces
2 ears sweet corn, corn cut from cobs
~12 serrano chiles, stems removed
¼ cup red jalapeños, stems and some seeds and ribs removed
1 poblano chile; stem, seeds and ribs removed
4 cloves garlic, peeled
Kosher salt to taste
Olive oil

to make the three chile, garlic, basil condiment:

Add two cloves garlic, basil, salt (about 1 tsp), and all chiles to food processor. Run until chopped to your liking. Move them to a jar (I used a cleaned jam jar). Cover with olive oil to submerge all veggies. That’s it.

to make the dish:

Sauté squash, corn and remaining garlic in some olive oil. Once veggies get a bit tender add about a tablespoon (or more) three chile condiment, cook for another minute or tow and serve warm.


oven roasted eggplant with Indian spices

This is another recipe from Ajanta: Regional Feasts of India. I made it the same evening that I served mustard sauce masala over black cod.

The dish reminds me of Macedonian pindzur with different spices. I wonder how Alecs would like it? How’re you doing back in New York, boys? We miss you!

Like pindzur, this is a kind of eggplant dip. You can serve it with any kind of bread as an appetizer or as a side dish with Indian food (like I did) or simply with rice.

oven roasted eggplant with Indian spices

10 baby Italian eggplants (about 2½ lbs)
4 tbsp canola oil
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated fine
1 Serrano chile, minced, seeds and ribs partially removed
2 sweet white onions, chopped
10 ripe dry farmed early girl tomatoes, skin removed and chopped with their juices
2 tsp turmeric
½ tsp cayenne pepper powder
2 tbsp coriander seeds, pan roasted then ground
2 tbsp cumin seeds, pan roasted then ground
Kosher salt
½ bunch cilantro, chopped

Broil eggplants in the oven for about half hour turning every 5 minutes. A sign that they are ready is when skins are partially burned, blistered and eggplants have shrunk and collapsed a bit. Remove from oven. Let them cool down until you can comfortable handle them. Remove skin and roughly mash eggplants with a fork.

Using a deep pan heat up canola oil. Add ginger, chile pepper and sauté for a few seconds. Add onion and cook for about 12 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for another 10 minutes. Fold in turmeric, cayenne, coriander and salt. Add eggplant, olive oil then cook for another 10 minutes at low temperature. Taste and adjust flavors. Add cilantro and serve!

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mung bean dal soup

by Heguiberto on September 1, 2010

I think I mentioned this before: in the Indian culinary world, dal is used to describe any legume that has been split and had its outer skin removed. That’s why when you go to Indian shops the legume section is full of a dizzying array of dals. Red dal comes from red lentils; toor dal, from pigeon peas; and mung dal, from mung beans.

mung bean dal soup with basmati rice with black pepper and cashew nuts

Most Indian dal soups are sort of made in the same way. First you boil the dal until it gets soft then you temper it with spices. The tempering process is nothing more than sautéing the ingredients until the raw smells are gone and then adding everything to the soup. You can vary the amount of spices or use a different type of dal to create soups with varying flavors and even textures. They’re a snap to make once you’ve tried and inevitably taste great. Leftovers are even better the next day.

I served this soup with basmati rice with black pepper and cashews. Yum!

mung bean dal soup

1 lb mung dal (split-skinless mung beans)
1 tsp turmeric powder
3 tbsp canola oil
4 small fresh onions including green parts
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 Serrano pepper, minced
5 garlic cloves, minced
5 fresh curry leaves
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp madras curry powder
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
Kosher salt

Rinse mung dal then add to a pan with turmeric powder and madras curry powder. Submerge dal with hot water to cover it by one inch. Bring to a boil, reduce temperature to medium low and cook for about 20 minutes. Stir every few minutes or so to prevent sticking. Add more hot water as necessary. Discard scum that forms at the top. Dal will be ready when it dissolves and turns into a thick paste with the consistency of porridge.

Heat up a saucepan with oil. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add minced Serrano pepper, ginger and garlic and cook for about a minute. Add onion and cook for about 10 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add cumin and coriander powders followed by the curry leaves. Transfer this mix to the soup. Add salt and adjust flavors. Serve.


vegetarian paratha or maybe paratha veggie burgers

I absolutely love Indian cuisine and never got around making my own paratha. Paratha is just a pan-fried unleavened flat bread originally from the Punjab region that is popular all over India nowadays. This recipe was adapted from Prerna’s beautiful blog. Her parathas looked so tempting that I had to try them at home. I always have this phobia about making bread even when the dough does not require rising. I’m glad I finally made this one. They are supposed to be flat, but mine turned out kind of thick; sort of like a veggie burger. Scrumptious!

vegetarian paratha

1 bunch of organic spinach rinsed, dried and thinly chiffonaded
1 cup carrots, shredded
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
3 tbsp fat free cottage cheese
1 medium just harvested white onion cut into small cubes
3 small potatoes boiled and roughly mashed
1 clove garlic, mashed
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 Serrano pepper cut into thin disks
5 long beans chopped fine, steamed for 3 minutes
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp ajwain seeds
1½ cups flour
1 cup cream of wheat
Fresh black pepper
Kosher salt
Olive oil

vegetarian paratha is rich in wholesome fresh vegetables

the cream of wheat box is sooooo old-fashioned looking!

Mix spinach, carrots, cottage cheese, onion, ginger, garlic, salt, fennel, Serrano and black pepper together. Add dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. No other fluid is required as the vegetables will release liquid.

Grease your hands with a bit of olive oil. Grab enough dough to make a ping-pong size ball in your hands. Flatten the dough into thin discs. Place a bit of oil in a non stick skillet, bring temperature to medium and fry parathas about 6-8 minutes flipping half way through. The parathas will turn a bit brown on the surface. Watch out for hot temperature as it may burn the outside and leave the inside uncooked. It is super fun to make this bread, sort of like cooking pancakes.

Serve as a side with rasam, dal or with tamarind, mint and cilantro salsa. Enjoy them on their own as well. These are good!

vegetarian paratha dough is messy fun


Last Thursday I was home alone for the evening. Steven had a work-related function to go to at Gary Danko, a fancy restaurant in town near GHIRARDELLI SQUARE. He had great time there—more to come on that next week. Lucky him! But I had fun at home too.

hearty summertime vegetable lentil soup

It’s getting around that time of the year here when that often quoted, tiresome, though completely accurate saying of Mark Twain is apropos: “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.” Alternatively, there’s the famous line from that popular Rodgers and Hart song, “The Lady is a Tramp,” (think Ella Fitzgerald here) “Hate California, it’s cold and damp. That’s why…”

Well it is true that the weather here is funny: always cool, occasionally cold and only rarely lukewarm. When Steven and I moved from NYC to SF in mid-June 2003, we ran the heat throughout the summer until we finally got acclimated to the “big chill” San Francisco micro climate. Now that we’ve more-or-less adjusted, it seems like a privilege to live in this Mediterranean-like coastal weather climate. But it was hell at first!

Ella Fitzgerald, Mark Twain and the two of us might have suffered here at first, but our adorable bully, Clarence, never complains. He’s the opposite: loves the cold weather and becomes miserable when the temperature gets anywhere near 65 degrees. Since last week was chilly, I took him for a long walk to give him some exercise. I let him play in the dirt at a nearby park and run around for a while. He really enjoyed it, though was merely tolerant of the bath that he had to suffer through when we got home. Mostly he’s resigned to the miserable task of grooming. It’s a good thing that he’s forgiving or I’d never get him into the tub ever!

Finally, it’s time to groom myself and face the kitchen.

Thursday is nearly week’s end in our grocery shopping routine, which means that it was a random mix of veggies that have seen better days left in the fridge. That and the cold weather always get me thinking of soup. It’s a great way to ‘get rid’ of the old stuff in a flavorful and tasty way. This soup has a bit of Indian/Moroccan flavors going on as I used a spice mix made by Steven’s workmate, Ernestina. Neither of us remembers exactly what she said she put into the homemade blend. It tastes like a pulverized version of Chex mix without the flour. It seems like it has nice toasty flavors of cumin, coriander, red pepper, black pepper, cashew nut, sesame seed, Brazil nut, nutmeg and mace.

So everything eventually went into the pressure cooker. I poured a glass of red wine to sip while perusing a new food magazine while my hearty lentil soup reached perfection on this cold summer day.

hearty lentil soup for a cold San Francisco summer day

2 cup beluga lentils
½ head cabbage, chopped
5 small red potatoes, skin one, quarted
5 small carrots (Nantes)
1 Roma tomato, skinless and chopped
1 kholrabi, peeled and roughly chopped
5 scallions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
Pinch asafetida
1 tbsp kosher salt
3 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp black pepper
2 tbsp “Ernestina’s Spice mix” or similar (see above)
1 Serrano pepper minced (ribs and seeds discarded)

Boil a large pot of water (I use an electric kettle). Pour water over lentils and let them soak for 15 minutes. Rinse and set aside. Fill pot (or kettle) with water again and bring to a boil.

Put pressure cooker on high heat. Add oil. Once it begins to smoke, add mustard seeds and let them splutter for a few seconds. Add onion then sauté for a couple of minutes to soften it a bit. Add garlic, ginger, Serrano and asafetida. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add remaining ingredients including lentils. Pour hot water over everything just to cover all vegetables with water. Stir. Close pressure cooker and let it cook for 8 minutes after it starts whistling. Remove from heat.

Cool a little and serve. Add a lemon wedge for a bit of acidity. I had this with the herb slab bread from Acme.

This is perfect in the summertime in San Francisco, or winter most anywhere. This soup keeps well and is even better the next day!

a tired dog might make a happy dog but a clean one makes a happy owner

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