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Hawaii

macadamia crusted cod

My husband left for 3 weeks of work in Hawaii. He will be working on a home show about luxury swimming pools. (enter Hawaii-ish and jealousy emjois) I wanted to make a nice dinner for him last night with a Hawaiian flair.  Turns out, this week is also Hawaiian Food Week. How perfect! I made macadamia crusted cod with sushi rice and a salad of pineapple, avocado, and cucumber.  The macadamia nuts are finely chopped and then mixed with some panko bread crumbs for the perfect crunch. The sushi rice is mixed at the very end with some lime zest, coconut aminos, and rice vinegar. The avocado, pineapple, cucumber salad adds the perfect fresh contrast and really makes this dish. I have to be honest though, I used nectarines instead of pineapple because that is what I had. It was fantastic! But this is Hawaiian foods week, so pineapple it is.

ingredients:

macadamia crusted cod

8-12 ounce cod fillet

1/4 cup macadamia nuts- finally chopped into crumbs

2 tablespoon panko bread crumbs (I use gluten free)

1 egg + 2 teaspoons water, throughly beaten

salt and pepper

sushi rice

1 cup sushi rice

zest of 1 lime

1 tablespoon coconut aminos (or soy sauce)

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

*a note about sushi rice: This is easy to find now in most grocery stores. I like it for this because it keeps with the Hawaiian theme and I love the sticky texture. You could definitely substitute regular rice in this dish. Quinoa could be a good choice too if you’re trying to behave yourself.

salad

1 small avocado, small chunks

1 cup pineapple (or nectarine or mango), small chunks

1/2 cup English cucumber, sliced 1/4 inch thick and then into fourths

1 tablespoon olive oil

sea salt and pepper

method:

Start the sushi rice. Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Then combine with 1 1/2 cups water plus 2 tablespoons in a small saucepan.  Sprinkle a little salt in there and turn on high.  Once it’s boiling turn it to low for about 10-15 minutes and then turn it off, DON’T PEEK, and let it set for another 15 minutes. My big rice cooking advice is to just not lift the lid. Every time I peek, ruined.

Meanwhile, mix the finely chopped macadamia nuts with the panko breadcrumbs. It should be chopped this fine, or even finer:

season with some salt and pepper and set aside. Mix the egg and water and set aside. Get out the cod and pat it very dry with a towel.

Prep your salad fruits, then mix with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Don’t start making the fish until after the rice has cooked. Transfer the rice to a large mixing bowl like this:

Stick it in the fridge while you get the cod going. For this meal, the cod is best nice and hot but the rest of the meal is best at room temp. Cut the cod in to the portion sizes you desire. I cut our 2 servings into four pieces. Season each side of the cod with salt and pepper. Add the 3 tablespoons of coconut oil to the non-stick pan and turn on medium high.  Then, take the cod pieces and dunk into the egg and then dredge into the macadamia nut/breadcrumb mixture.  Press each side firmly into the crumbs and then place into the hot pan. Repeat with all cod pieces.  You want to keep the temp on medium high so that the coating gets nice and crunch and brown but the fish doesn’t get too done. overdone cod is pretty gross. Perfectly done cod is, well, perfection. 2-4 minutes each side should do the job. ​

​Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and season with a little more salt and pepper while it’s hot. Stick it in a 180 degree oven while you mix the rice.

Take the rice out of the fridge and mix it with the coconut aminos, rice vinegar, and olive oil. Use a microplane to zest a lime over the bowl and then mix it into the rice. Save that lime to serve with the meal.

Time to plate! Use a 2/3 measuring cup to scoop out rice and press it firmly into the cup. Turn it upside down and transfer to a plate to make it look fancy.  Put the cod on the plate and then spoon the salad over everything. Garnish with green onions or chives, lime wedge and some chili pepper powder. I used gochugaru (Korean pepper flakes), but ground ancho pepper would be good, or a little smoked paprika, or even spicy cayenne pepper.

Makes 2 servings with a little extra rice to put in the fridge and to make fried rice with the next day.

 

Uncategorized

monday musings

I can’t help myself. I love latte art.

I’m thinking about doing a series “cooking through the decades”. Each week I would cook  and share 2-3 recipes from each decade starting 100 years ago.  I think it would be so fun! I’ve already been doing my research with articles like this one and this one.  Do you have any ideas for me? What dish comes to mind when you think of the 40’s, 60’s, 2000’s?

Cookbooks among celebrity non-chef’s are so popular. Have you tried any? These are a few that look good to me: Cravings, (here is a good review on itThe Seasoned Life, Audrey At Home and here is a long list of celebrity cookbooks. Pippa Middleton? Freddie Prince Jr? Kris Jenner? Ok!

I heard a piece on the radio today about bringing back fresh cooking in schools.  When is the last time this was common practice? I know at the school I teach, the actual nutrition is much better than it was 10 years ago, but the main dishes are still majority pre-packaged and heated up.  I will say that there are always fresh fruits and veggies instead of canned. There are so many good cooks out there, I know many school food service people would be happy to actually use their real skills to cook again in the school.  Like this woman!

On that note, I leave you with a lovely picture of some chives I snapped as I was leaving my doctor’s office last week. It makes me wonder and hope that perhaps employees get to go out and snip some fresh chives for their meals?

Chives at Kaiser
Uncategorized

twice cooked truffled baby potatoes 

Ok! Last Easter recipe post. I gotta make it short and sweet. My laptop is broken and so Ive been blogging the last couple posts from my phone. Yuck! 

These potatoes are delicious of course because of truffle oil and truffle salt, two items worth splurging on. A little goes a long way and they are soooo delicious on things like potatoes, risotto, scallops. The trick to these potatoes is to cook them long enough. You’ll boil them, smash them and then oven fry them. They go great with anything! Serve them room temperature or warm.

twice cooked truffled baby potatoes

ingredients

serves 6-8 side dishes

2 lbs small baby potatoes

1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 more tablespoons

2 teaspoons white truffle oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teasooon truffle salt

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf (italian) parsley

Freshly cracked black pepper

Boil the potatoes in a large pot with salt water that just barely covers the potatoes. Boil for about 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are quite tender when pierced with a fork. You want to be able to easily partially smash them with your fork once they’re drained. After the potatoes are partially smashed. Transfer them to a baking sheet and toss with the 1/4 cup olive oil. Add the kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees until browned and a little crispy but still soft too. 

Remove from the oven and put in a large bowl. Add two more tablespoons of olive oil, the truffle oil, parsley, truffle salt and more pepper. Toss to evenly coat. Add more truffle salt and oil if desired. Happy Easter! 

I apologize for any mistakes. Again, iPhone blogging is a true struggle. But I do it for you, my faithful 5 readers. xoxox

Iowa, North America

easter feast part three: mini ham loaves

Mini ham loaves or ham balls, however you shape these tasty little things you’ll love them. Both my grandma’s used to make ham balls. They were one of my favorite things they made. Ham balls have that sweet, salty, tangy factor. In Iowa and other parts of the Midwest you can buy pre-mixed ham loaf. It’s usually a mixture of ham and pork or ham, pork, and beef. In Denver, you really can’t find this premixtire of ground meats. I had to really ask around several meat counters before I found one willing to grind up ham and pork for me. Special thanks to Marczy’s Fine Foods on 17th in Denver for happily accepting this special order!

I didn’t have my grandma’s recipe so I called my mom and she gave me a recipe that was not my grandma’s exact recipe but she thought it was “pretty close”. This recipe had graham crackers as a binding agent and tomato soup in the sauce. Oh my. As she was reading me the recipe my aunt, who happened to be visiting my mom, yelled out that she didn’t think grandma used Graham crackers and she KNEW that her sauce didn’t have tomato soup. Uh oh. I needed to find out more! After that I messaged my cousin and my sister because I knew they would have the best memory of the ham balls and maybe the best resources. They didn’t dissappoint. My cousin even had grandma’s recipe card! 


My aunt was right. No grahams and no tomato soup. We also decided that grandma’s recipe was most likely not developed because it was her preferred method, but rather because she didn’t have those ingredients on hand and she did without, or she thought they were too expensive and it was “just fine” without. I plan on trying the graham cracker, tomato soup version soon, but for the sake of authenticity, I’m making grandma’s simple version for my Easter feast. 

grandma’s mini ham loaves

ingredients:

2 1/2 lbs ground ham loaf mixture- a combo of ham, pork, and beef. I just had them grind together 1 1/2 lbs ham and 1 lb ground pork (not lean)

2 cups fresh bread crumbs- put a few slices of bread in the food processor

2 eggs

1 cup milk

sauce:

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup white or apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix together the meat mixture, bread crumbs, eggs, and milk. Shape the mixture into small little loaves. They should look sort of like little footballs. About 2 inches wide and 3 inches long. Place them in a 9×13 casserole pan. Mix together the sauce ingredients and pour over the little loaves. Bake, uncovered for about an hour and a half. 

Let me know what you think! Did you like this retro Midwest recipe? 

Anywhere and Everywhere

easter feast part two: spring pea salad

This recipe is from Food Network Magazine.  I’ve adapted it slightly. I’m not sure how I stumbled upon it, probably at my friend Jamie’s house because she always has Food Network Magazine.  I’m surprised I even tried it because I’m not always wild about peas of any variety and my husband certainly is not.  It’s strange, Dirk is a pretty open guy when it comes to food.  He actually prides himself on it.  But he has this strange prejudice when it comes to springtime veggies.  That being said, we both love this recipe.  Can you believe it?  I will definitely admit that these ingredients sound a little suspect but the combination is really beautiful. Cook the peas to just tender. Don’t overcook!  The shallots are salty and sweet, the walnuts roasted and crunchy and the dates add even more sweetness to round the salad out perfectly.  What better addition to your Easter dinner than a recipe that is all about the renewing of the growing season? And dates? That’s totally a biblical food. Right?

One note: Unless you are a die-hard pea fan, only use the English peas if you can find fresh.  If you’re like me and you’re quite suspicious of peas you won’t want to use frozen. And I can’t even talk about canned.  Fresh peas that you shell yourself are an entirely different story.  If you find those at the store, definitely add them. I typically can’t find fresh peas, so I leave the English peas out.  I usually increase the amount of snow peas but 1/2-1 cup.

Kosher or coarse sea salt

2 cups shelled fresh English peas or thawed frozen peas (about 10 ounces)

2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut into 2-3 pieces 

1 cup snow peas, trimmed and thinly sliced 

2 tablespoon walnut oil

1 medium shallot, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup chopped pitted dates

⅛- ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper

 

snap peas
Thinly sliced snow peas. I used more than a cup because I didn’t use any English Peas.

 

About the walnut oil…you can definitely sub extra virgin olive oil and it will taste great.  But really, it’s worth looking for the walnut oil. It adds amazing flavor and it an oil that can stand up to some heat so you can use the rest of the bottle for cooking or in salads, no problem.  I used this brand:

I found it at Marczyk’s Fine Foods in Denver and I’m sure they would have it at Whole Foods too. Or order it here.

method:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice water. If using fresh English peas, add to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 1 minute. Add the snap peas and cook until bright green, about 2 minutes, then add the snow peas and cook 30 seconds. Drain the peas and plunge into the ice water to cool.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the walnut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the walnuts, dates, and cayenne and cook until the nuts are slightly toasted, about 1 more minute.

Drain the peas, shaking off the excess water, then add to the skillet (if using frozen peas, add them here). Add some salt and cook, stirring, until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the walnut oil and toss. Add more salt and some freshly cracked pepper to taste.

Iowa, North America

easter feast part one: deviled eggs

2 egg

Deviled eggs happen to be another early high school cooking class recipe.  Our teacher taught us how to make deviled eggs using a plastic sandwich bag to mash all the ingredients together in.  Then, you snip off the corner and squeeze it into the egg white.  I remember going home that day and making them after school.  Thinking back, I find it really funny that I would make myself deviled eggs for an after school snack.

Deviled eggs are a fun, retro type snack that everybody loves. You always see people getting real excited when you bring them to a party. Everyone has to really hold themselves back from not taking too many.  I found quickly that the secret to good deviled eggs is having enough salt and vinegar. You need that yolk mixture to be just a little too strong to eat on its own so that the egg white shell balances it.  I’ve eaten quite a few amazing deviled egg combinations: green goddess (avocado with tarragon), deviled eggs with bacon and sriracha, and deviled eggs with smoked salmon and capers.  All these combinations are amazing and I love trying really unique deviled egg recipes.  This recipe, however, is very basic, but also my favorite. If I had to pick one recipe to stick with my whole life long, this would be it!

classic deviled eggs

serves 6

ingredients:

6 eggs

1/2 cup mayo

4 teaspoons yellow mustard (I prefer 2 tsp. Colman’s and 2 tsp. regular yellow mustard)

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 tablespoon white vinegar

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Fresh chives and or paprika for garnish

 

mustard
I used 2 teaspoons of Coman’s mustard and 2 teaspoons regular yellow mustard. The Colman’s has a sharper, slightly spicy flavor to it. Quite strong.

 

Method:

Boil the eggs for 10 minutes and then put them into an ice water bath immediately.  I’ve heard the secret to easy peeling eggs is that they are cold when you peel them.  You can find all sort of tips on the internet about this but what I’ve found is that none of them work.  It’s all luck.  Either that or I’m horrible about peeling eggs.  I usually make my husband do it and laugh when he gets really mad with how poorly he can peel them.  

Once the eggs are peeled (you’re now either really satisfied because it went well, or pissed off about how ugly your whites look), slice them in half the long way and gently scoop out the yolks into a medium sized bowl.  Add the mayo, mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Mix with a fork or potato masher until desired smoothness. Carefully spoon the yolk mixture into the egg whites. Sprinkle with freshly chopped chives and or a little paprika.  Be sure to remind people to savor them because peeling them was such a pain.  People sometimes need a little guilt with their deviled eggs 🙂

1 egg

*This is the first post in my Easter feast series.  I’ll soon be adding recipes for my grandmother’s ham balls, a spring snap pea and snow pea salad with shallots, walnuts, and dates, and also a recipe for truffled twice-cooked new potatoes. If you’re wanting to try the ham balls and you don’t live in the midwest, call your butcher now to have them ground together 2 pounds of ham and 2 pounds of ground pork. They won’t be happy about it because they will have to clean out their grinder and then clean it again.  I’ve been told it’s a real pain. 

By the way, do you have any tips for me on how to easily peel eggs? Tell me what works for you. Please! And Mom, I know you’re reading this.  Is this pretty close to how you make deviled eggs?

 

 

Asia, Korea

kimchi fried rice

Kimchi. Fried Rice. Yes please. This recipe is so easy, delicious and comforting. You have to use cold rice from the day or two before or at least make it in the morning and then stick it in the fridge. After that, this recipe really only takes about 20 minutes. If you haven’t started buying kimchi on the regular its time to start. Buy it for the delicious fermented taste and then keep eating it for the probiotic health benefits. You’ll find it at any grocery story in the refrigerated pickles and saurkraut section.

I learned how to make fried rice in 10th grade home economics class. Oh how I loved these classes with the fake little kitchens.  I liked to pretend that my group was my own little family. It was playing “house” for a 16 year old.  I loved how we all helped to cook, sat down at our little table, ate together, and then all did the dishes together.  Don’t worry I wasn’t deprived of this in real life, I just really enjoyed playing house. I remember we had this recipe for fried rice and our teacher explained that the rice needed to be cold and made a day ahead of time.  This helped it to fry better.  The recipe she had did not have kimchi but it did have ham, onion, garlic, carrots and peas! Also soy sauce so you know I liked it. This recipe I’m posting may be even easier than my 10th grade cooking class recipe.  Most of the flavor comes from the fermented kimchi.  I’m adding a little cut up pork chop and of course a fried egg on top.  I used chives as a garnish because they are growing outside in my garden.  You of course could use green onions.  I had an extra pork chop that’s why I chose it, plus I love pork with Korean-inspired dishes.  You could use any protein, or not.  That’s what eggs are for! I’m topping it all with a super umami sauce made from soy sauce (this is my favorite brand), gochujang, and sesame oil.

kimchi fried rice

serves 2 really hungry people or 4 sorta hungry people

ingredients

2 cups cold cooked rice- made that morning or the day before- I used short grain rice  (mepssal).

¼ cup high heat oil- I used red palm but avocado would be good too

1 cup kimchi- strained over a bowl, reserving the liquid

1 ¼-⅓ lb pork chop

3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru)

Sesame seeds for garnish

2 tablespoons chopped chives or green onions

Salt and pepper

Sauce:

3 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons gochujang 

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Method:

Chop up the kimchi and set aside, make sure to reserve the liquid that drained from it. Thinly slice the pork chop and cut into small pieces. Heat a tablespoon of the high heat oil in a wok or deep skillet. Once hot, add the pork pieces and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on high until cooked through and set aside. Without cleaning out the pan, add the chopped kimchi on high. Add a little oil if needed. Fry the kimchi for about 3-5 minutes. You want it to get cooked down and develop a sweetness. Add the red pepper flakes and toss and then add the rest of the oil, make sure it returns to high, and then add the rice.  Fry, tossing frequently, for about another 4-5 minutes. Add some or all of the reserved kimchi liquid to help create a desired consistency and get any cooked bits off the bottom of the pan. Return the pork to the pan and add the 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and the 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Cook for another couple of minutes. Taste and adjust soy sauce and or salt and pepper.  Cover with a lid for a moment while you fry your eggs and make your sauce. For the sauce, just whisk together the soy sauce, gochujang, and the sesame oil. For the eggs:  use as many eggs as there are people eating.  Each person gets a fried egg on top. You want the yolk to be runny. You’ll feel so sad if you overcook it. If you do overcook it, just save it for egg salad and make a new one. Having a runny yolk over your fried rice is quite satisfying. Now plate your fried rice. Put your perfectly cooked fried egg on top of the rice. Now drizzle the sauce all around all cute-like and sprinkle with sesame seeds, more pepper flakes, and chopped chives. Yummy!

 

Those are some seriously seductive chives right there.

 

Catalonia, Spain

Calçots

I’ve been having the good fortune of people giving bunches of large vegetables.  Not only are the bunches large, but the vegetables themselves…they’re large! Most of those carrots from Pachamama Farm were big daddies! Then, the very next day my husband and I were coming home from a walk and I see my elderly neighbor, Kim, with a large knife cutting away at these giant green onions.  Kim sees me and holds out half of her bunch and says they’re for me! Quite exciting!  I ran to her and accepted my gift.  Kim is always giving me vegetables and I do return the favor when my garden is producing in the summer.  In fact, we had a silly thing going on last summer where I gave her a zucchini plant and she insisted on giving me half of all it’s produce.  I also had two zucchini plants so I decided I would give her zucchini too. We just kept trading zucchini like that all summer.  

img_4215 So I had all these giant green onions and I knew I had to do right by them.  I decided to throw it out on instagram (follow me @travellovecook)…give me some ideas for these onions! My sister suggested the ever popular retro midwest card club appeteaser: wrap them in cream cheese and dried beef! Ok, first of all YUM. But oh yeah, that was a joke… My mom suggested slice them in salads. Ok, but I wanted something exciting Mom! As you can see I have quite the instagram following.  Finally, someone suggested grilling. Yes! I do a little internet search and I find that there’s this thing in Barcelona called Calçotada . A type of festival every spring where they grill a type of green onion that grows in Spain called “calçot”.  Click on that link, and you’ll learn more. So, they char grill these giant green onions and peel away the tough charred outer skin and eat the tender innard.  They dip them in romesco sauce a type of sauce with a pepper and almond base.  Finally, I had found something worthy of these giant green onion gifts.

Calcots

Large Spring or Green onions- If you’re in the states, try going to a

Course Salt

Olive Oil

Romesco Sauce:

1 Tablespoon higher heat oil such as avocado

5 garlic cloves in the skin

¼ onion cut into chunks

¼ cup raw almonds

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ cup panko bread crumbs

1 14 oz can tomatoes

3 dried chiles, I used guajillo, rehydrated in a bowl of hot water for about 20 minutes

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and Pepper

Make the Romesco sauce first. Heat the avocado oil in a pan over medium heat and then add the whole garlic cloves, still in their skin. I did this because I wanted them to have a roasted taste and not browned at all.

img_4222

Saute for a couple of minutes and then add the onion and some salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat stirring frequently.  You don’t want the almonds to burn at all! Next, add the breadcrumbs and the smoked paprika.  Cook for about another 1-2 minutes.  

img_4224

Take out the garlic cloves and remove the garlic from the skin. Transfer the garlic and the rest of the ingredients in the pan to a food processor.  Also add to the food processor the tomatoes, the chile peppers, red wine vinegar and about a teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper.  Blend all the ingredients.  It will take a while with those whole almonds. Then start slowly pulsing in your olive oil. The sauce should be blended but small chunks of almonds are fine and even quite pleasant. Taste the sauce and adjust the salt and pepper and even add a little more vinegar if you want.  I heard once that sometimes when you think that certain something is missing and you don’t know what it is, a splash of vinegar is what you need! You will have lots of leftover Romesco sauce.  That’s ok because you can use it for whatever! I tossed it with penne and that was good but I think some linguini would have been even better!

img_4236

Back to the calçots. Heat Your grill. You want the final temperature to be around 450-500 degrees.  Wash and dry your green onions.  Lay the on the hot grill. Leave the grill open. Just stand there now and don’t go do anything else because you may get distracted. Once one side is quite brown, use tongs to flip them over.  Don’t try to use those giant, awkward grill tongs.  Use tongs that you use inside and you’ll be much more dexterous with them. You’re going to get pretty mad if you drop one through the grates.  That’s why you want to use very large green onions.  Once, the other side is very brown too, almost black, they are done.  Put them on a platter and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with course salt. Serve the calçots with the romesco sauce.  Drizzle the romesco sauce with more olive oil and a sprinkling of course salt. Now peel away that outer layer, dip in the romesco, and enjoy all that delicious mess. 


Europe, France

pachamama farm carrots with cilantro pesto

My husband was given some carrots from Pachamama Farm, in Longmont, Colorado. These carrots had grown all winter and were delicious and sweet.  I love roasted carrots, but since these carrots were so fresh and flavorful on their own, I wanted to create a dish using them raw.  Growing up, we always had grated carrot in our salads.  I enjoyed this much more than chunks.  It was a way to give their flavor in a more delicate package. In French cuisine, shredded carrot salad is a classic and I always love to refer to it to make good use out of my carrots. For this recipe, I’m using long ribbons of carrots that are created using your vegetable peeler.  It’s like you’re peeling the skin and then you just keep on peeling! If you’re using organic carrots, just scrub them clean and use the whole carrot.  If not, then peel away the outer skin and then start saving the rest.  I mixed the carrot ribbons with cilantro pesto. Cilantro pesto is very easy to make and makes good use of the rest of your cilantro after you bought a bunch for a recipe that calls for 2 tablespoons.

carrot ribbons with cilantro pesto


serves 8 small servings

ingredients:

6-8 carrots peeled or scrubbed clean if organic

pesto:

1/2 of a bunch of cilantro- very roughly chopped

1/2 cup cashews (other nuts like almonds or walnuts would be good)

1 garlic clove

1 lemon, juiced

1 garlic clove

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Using a vegetable peeler, peel long ribbons off of the carrot into a bowl. Put the cashews in a pan over medium heat. Shake them up quite a bit in the pan and heat until they are fragrant. Put the cilantro into a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the garlic, lemon juice, red pepper flakes if using, and some salt and pepper to the food processor.  Pulse until well combined. Now, start pulsing in the olive oil very slowly until everything is mixed together. Taste it.  Probably needs more salt! Add more and pulse, pulse, pulse. Add as much of the pesto as you like to the bowl of carrot ribbons and mix together. Bon appétite!

 

Africa, Tanzania

Tazanian peanut soup

I’ve said before that African food is my heart food. My travels to Tanzania began my love of East African cuisine. It was exciting and flavorful and familiar all at the same time. Most recipes use things that someone in a small town could find at the grocery store. Many dishes are naturally gluten free, dairy free, and vegan. This soup is dairy free and gluten free. It uses plenty of veggies and gets its smooth and creamy flavor from peanut butter and coconut milk. Tanzanian peanut soup can be ready in as little as a half hour. You could serve it with fruit and bread if you like, but I promise you, it’s filling all on its own!

Tanzanian peanut soup

serves 4-6

ingredients:

1 tablespoon organic red palm oil

1 onion chopped

3 tomatoes cut into quarters

2 cloves garlic chopped

1 average eggplant, peeled, sliced about an inch thick, each slice cut again into 4 quarters

1/4 cup smooth, unsweetened, unsalted peanut butter (I use Justin’s)

1 can coconut milk

1 quart chicken broth

1 teaspoon chicken bouillon base (I like Better than Bouillon)

a couple dashes of Maggi (optional)

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon curry powder (I used Penzy’s Spices “sweet curry“)

salt and pepper

*red pepper flakes I went a little off course and used Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru) because I have so much and I used a full teaspoon. It was excellent in this dish. You can Aleppo use pepper or cayenne pepper. The authentic pepper flake would be crushed African birdseye pepper. A good starting point would be 1/4 teaspoon and increase as you wish.

optional add-ins and ons:

2 cups greens such as spinach, chard, or collard

avocado slices

chopped cilantro

sliced hot pepper

1.Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and some salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add the tomato and cook for about another 3 minutes.  Add the garlic, Maggi (if using), bouillon, curry powder, hot pepper flakes or powder, turmeric, and a little more salt and pepper. Stir and cook for about 1 minute.

2.Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, and peanut butter. Stir and heat to a simmer. Add the eggplant and bring it back to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until the eggplant is really tender.

3.Now get out that immersion blender and blend it all up! You want it to be silky smooth.  If you’re using greens, you can add them now and simmer for maybe around 5 minutes.  Don’t make my mistake and add long ribbons of chard.  While tasty, it conflicted with the texture of the soup. Chop those greens up real good before you add them. Top with the avocado, hot pepper, cilantro too if you please.  Usually I’m all about the soup toppings but honestly, this soup is absolutely delicious without.