Posts Tagged onions

Not Your Average Ratatouille

ratatouille-image_1There are about a million recipes (might be a slight exaggeration, frankly) for this dish online and, in my younger years, I’m sure that I used one of them. Since then, I’ve played with it and have changed it.

I added pancetta, the Italian version of bacon, but if you prefer meatless, then it’s fine to leave it out. It will not ruin the dish. This is normally a side dish, but I’ve actually served it as a main course over rice.

It can be served sprinkled with Reggiano Parmesan. It can also be served with a couple of dollops of Mascarpone cheese. The sweetness of the cheese goes nicely with the spicy complex of the dish. Give it a try.

Ingredients

5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

8 oz chopped pancetta

1/4 cup minced garlic

1 medium Vidalia onion, rough chopped

1 medium zucchini, rough chopped

1 medium yellow (summer) squash, rough chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded, cored and rough chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, cored and rough chopped

1 medium eggplant, trimmed and cut into cubes*

1 tbsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

1 can diced tomatoes with juice (14.5 oz can)

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock

Salt & pepper to taste

Reggiano parmesan or Mascarpone Cheese for serving

Directions

Heat up the evoo in a deep skillet and add the pancetta. Cook over medium heat until the pancetta crisps, moving it around the pan so that it cooks evenly. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Add the minced garlic to the oil, and cook until slightly brown and the oil is infused. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Next, add the onions, peppers, zucchini and summer squash. Cook for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the thyme and oregano and mix well. Cook for about another 2 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, wine, tomatoes and eggplant. Simmer uncovered for abut 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is a bit reduced. Add the pancetta, stir, and simmer for about another minute or two. Do a spice check here. Give it a taste. The pancetta is salty, so you may not need salt. The choice is yours. Add pepper, however, for sure.

Remove from the heat and serve with either the parmesan or Mascarpone.

*I “trim” my eggplant, which means cutting off the edges. I never peel my eggplant. But the choice is yours. It works either way.

 

 

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Slow Cooker Lamb Vindaloo

Lamb vindaloo with Basmati RiceAnother amazing Indian food here, this time made in a slow cooker. I have to tell you that I think a slow cooker (or crock pot or whatever you want to call it) is an essential kitchen item, and I have just posted this in my Kitchen Essentials section.

Vindaloo, whether it be with lamb, pork, chicken or beef, is one of the hottest dishes in all of Indian cooking. Not only does this recipe call for cayenne pepper, but it also calls for six Chipotle chili peppers. These are essentially Jalapenos that have been smoked. This dish is not for the weak willed, but it is so delicious. It should be served over Basmati rice.

For those who may not have an adventurous palate where “heat” is concerned, I am also providing a recipe at the end for a yogurt sauce that can be used to “cool” the dish when serving. The combination of the rice and the yogurt sauce should make it tolerable for even the weakest palate.

Ingredients

1 boneless leg of lamb, 4-5 lbs, trimmed of fat and cut in bite-sized pieces

3 medium red potatoes, washed and cut in bite-sized pieces

4 tbsp olive oil, divided

2 large Vidalia onions, chopped and divided

1.5 cups of frozen petite peas, defrosted

10 garlic cloves, crushed

6 Chipotle chili peppers, reconstituted and scraped (see Directions)

2 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp cardamom

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 cup low-sodium beef broth

1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes

2 bay leaves

2 tsp ginger paste

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp Kosher salt

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp sugar

1/2 cup chopped, fresh cilantro

1 tbsp cornstarch plus 1 tbsp water

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 cucumber, peeled, trimmed and seeds removed

Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper (to taste; for the yogurt-cucumber sauce)

Directions

The first order of business is to prepare the Chipotle chili peppers. Reconstitute the peppers by soaking them in boiling water for 30 minutes. Once they have cooled, cut them open and scrape the chili meat from the skin and set aside.

In a food processor, take half the onion, the garlic, the Chipotle chili peppers, the cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, cayenne, cumin, paprika, ginger paste and two tablespoons of the olive oil and pureé into a paste. Put it into a bowl and add the lamb pieces. Stir to coat the lamb thoroughly and place in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day heat the balance of the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the marinated lamb. You may need to do this in batches, but you do not need to cook the lamb through. Place in a slow cooker along with the beef broth, the salt, the sugar, the tomatoes, the potatoes, and the bay leaves. Cook on low for about 6-8 hours. About 30 minutes before the vindaloo is done, add the peas, then mix the tablespoon of cornstarch and the tablespoon of water and add it to the slow cooker. Stir thoroughly. The cornstarch-water mix will help to thicken the stew.

Serve over Basmati rice and garnish with cilantro.

Turning Down the Heat

Yogurt is a great way to temper the heat of this dish. Take the cup of plain Greek yogurt and the cucumber and put it in a food processor. Pureé until smooth and add salt and pepper to taste. Put in bowl and refrigerate until you serve the Lamb Vindaloo.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cajun-Creole Jambalaya

jambalayaThis can loosely be called the Louisiana version of Paella. The only real difference is that I bake this in the oven to finish it off, as opposed to cooking it on top of the stove. This is a crazy good dish, a complete meal in itself.

Again, I first got turned onto Jambalaya on my travels to New Orleans in the eighties. Although the travels were for business, I never failed to tack on vacation time at the end of my business obligations to enjoy the food and culture of New Orleans. While a lot can be said about New Orleans crime and corruption, the one thing that is absolutely certain is that you will never be served substandard food and drinks in that town.

This recipe calls for Andouille sausage. I have never had a problem finding this in my local supermarket, but Tasso or some other kind of smoked ham is a great substitute here. Alternatively, buffalo chicken sausage is great also.

You will need a pretty deep baking pan for this. If your skillet is big enough and can handle oven cooking, you can simply work with that.

Ingredients

3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces (about 2 cups)

2 cups Andouille sausage, cut in 1/4 inch pieces then quartered

1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup chopped onion, divided

1 cup chopped celery, divided

1 cup chopped green bell peppers, divided

3 tbsp minced garlic

1 28-oz can Italian whole tomatoes, undrained and broken up by hand

1 tsp broken-leaf sage

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 whole bay leaves

3 tbsp olive oil

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups long-grain rice (Basmati works well here)

Tabasco sauce (for the table)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat up 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken and Andouille sausage, and cook until browned. (The meats do not need to be cooked through.) Remove and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of the olive oil and heat up. Add 1/2 cup each of the celery, onion and peppers, along with the cayenne pepper, sea salt, garlic, sage, basil, oregano and thyme. Cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Now, we move to the pan you’re going to bake in. Add the meats and shrimp. Then add the cooked vegetables and all of the juices that are left from that process. Add the rice, chicken stock, the remaining uncooked half cup of the celery, onions and green pepper. Add the tomatoes and the bay leaves. Stir everything together.

Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour on 350 degrees.

Serve with a full bottle of Tabasco sauce.

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Good Karma’s Awesome Hummus Recipes

Hummus-Recipe-1There’s nothing quite like Hummus. It’s so versatile, and so tasty, and there are so many ways to serve it. I confess that there are days when I buy Hummus ready made. Sabra makes a great Hummus. But there’s nothing like making your own because you can make as many permutations as you like!

I got turned onto Hummus way back in the 80’s when I spent a lot of time eating at a great restaurant called Grendel’s Den in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was awesome. That’s where I learned you could serve Hummus with more than just pita bread.

We’re going to start here with five recipes for Hummus, but I can guarantee you that I will be posting several more as the winter months progress.

All of these recipes call for roasted garlic. It’s much better when the garlic cloves are roasted before adding them to the rest of the ingredients. Garlic is sweeter after roasting, and the flavor isn’t overpowering. It doesn’t take rocket science to roast garlic. Toss the cloves in a 350-degree oven lightly coated with olive oil and roast for about 20 minutes. Just be sure to keep an eye on it. It could take less time, it could take more. You want the garlic to be slightly browned and softened, but not burned.

Lemon-Garlic Hummus

Ingredients

1 16-oz can chick peas, drained and liquid reserved

1/4 cup reserved liquid

4 tbsp Tahini paste

5 tbsp lemon juice

5 cloves garlic, roasted

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

2 tbsp olive oil

Olive oil and paprika (for garnish)

Directions

Roast the garlic and set aside. Put all ingredients into a food processor and puree until smooth. Remove to a serving bowl and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Place in a serving bowl, make a small well in the center, add some olive oil, and sprinkle with paprika. Serve with pita chips, warm pita bread, cucumbers, petite carrots, pepperoncini, whole pitted Kalamata olives, and red onion slices.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Ingredients

1 16-oz can chick peas, drained

1/3 cup Tahini paste

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves, roasted

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

3/4 cup roasted red peppers

Directions

Roast the garlic and set aside. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with several strips of leftover roasted red peppers. Serve with pita chips, fresh cut red pepper strips, red onion strips, and warm pita bread.

Jalapeno Hummus

Ingredients

1 16-oz can chick peas, drained and liquid reserved

1/4 cup reserved liquid

2 Jalapeno peppers, cored, seeded and chopped

1/3 cup Tahini paste

3 garlic cloves, roasted

3 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

Directions

Roast the garlic and set aside. Put all ingredients into a food processor and puree until smooth. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Transfer to a serving bowl, create a small well in the middle and add olive oil, garnish with strips of Jalapeno peppers. Serve with warm pita bread, blue corn strips, and Pepperoncini.

Black Bean Hummus

Ingredients

1 16-oz can black beans, drained

1/4 cup Tahini paste

3 garlic cloves, roasted

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3 tbsp lime juice

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground chili powder

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

Directions

Roast the garlic and set aside to cool. Add all ingredients to a food processor and puree until smooth. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with blue corn chips, warm pita bread, and fresh pepper strips.

Roasted Pine Nut Hummus

Ingredients

1 16-oz can chick peas, drained and liquid reserved

1/4 cup reserved liquid

1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp roasted pine nuts

3 tbsp Tahini paste

3 garlic cloves, roasted

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

2 tbsp olive oil

Directions

Roast both the garlic and pine nuts and set aside. Add all of the ingredients, reserving the 2 tbsp roasted pine nuts for later. Puree until smooth. Put in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with the reserved 2 tbsp roasted pine nuts. Serve with warm pita bread, red onion strips, pita chips, and fresh red, orange and yellow pepper strips.

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Chicken Biryani

Chicken-BiryaniI made this the other night for a potluck Indian feast at a friend’s house. It was outstanding, I must say. However, biryani is not only considered an Indian dish, but also a Pakistani dish. Unlike Paella, you want to use a long-grained rice for this dish. Basmati rice is absolutely perfect for biryani.

This dish also makes use of one of the greatest spices on the planet: Cardamom. It may well be expensive, but it’s lends an amazingly aromatic flavor to this dish. I used both pods and ground Cardamom for mine.

Ingredients

3 lbs boneless, skinless thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks

4 tbsp canola oil; plus an additional 2 tbsp canola oil

6 small potatoes, cut in half

2 large onions, chopped

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tbsp ginger paste

2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp chili powder

1 2-inch cinnamon stick

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves

2 tsp ground turmeric

1 tbsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional; but not really if you like a little heat)

1.5 tsp salt

1 15-oz can diced tomatoes

2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt

5 Cardamom pods

1 tsp ground Cardamom

1 pinch Saffron

16 oz Basmati rice

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

Directions

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large skilled. Add the potatoes and fry until browned. Remove to paper towels and reserve.

Add 2 more tbsp oil to the skillet and fry the 2 finely chopped onions, garlic, and the ginger paste until the onions are soft and golden. Add the chili powder, pepper, red pepper flakes, turmeric, cumin, salt and the tomatoes. Cook, stirring continuously, for about 5 minutes. Add the yogurt, mint, cardamom pods and ground cinnamon. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat until the tomatoes become pulpy. Add a bit of chicken broth or water if the mixture becomes too dry and begins to stick to the pan.

Once the mixture becomes thick and smooth, add the chicken and stir well to coat evenly. Cover and cook over very low heat for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken becomes very tender. The mixture should be fairly thick once the chicken is done. If your mixture looks to runny, remove the cover and cook for several minutes to reduce the mixture.

While your chicken is cooking, wash the rice well and allow it to drain in a colander for about 30 minutes.

In another large skillet, heat the additional 2 tbsp canola oil and fry the single diced onion until it is golden. Add the saffron, ground cardamom, cinnamon stick, ground ginger, ground cloves and rice. Stir continuously until the rice is coated with the spices.

In a medium-sized pot, heat the 4 cups of chicken stock. When the stock is hot, pour it over the rice and stir it well. Add the chicken mixture from the other skillet, as well as the reserved potatoes. Stir everything together gently, and bring it to a boil. Cover the skillet tightly, turn the heat down low and cook for about 20 minutes. Do not life the lid or stir while cooking.

Spoon the biryani onto a warm serving dish, remove the cinnamon stick, and you’re ready to feast!

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