Tag Archives: carrot

Mediterranean Fish Stew

28 Dec

mediterranean fish stew

I’m getting settled in here in Montevideo, and although a lot of things are very similar to Buenos Aires, there are also a lot of noticeable differences. For one, food on the whole is surprisingly expensive – about two to three times as much as I’d encountered in my neighborhood in Buenos Aires. So I’m cooking even more in order to save money. The river here is a lot cleaner, and we’re just at where it meets the ocean, so there’s a lot more seafood available here, and that’s one thing that’s actually cheaper. So I put together this basic fisherman’s stew, using tilapia that was on special (though any firm white fish should do). I’d never cooked something quite like this before, but it was very easy to throw together and packed with flavor. I especially liked the technique of using anchovies and garlic to create the base (instead of the usual fish stock or clam juice). Topped with fresh herbs, this stew makes a lovely simple meal.

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Quinoa Bibimbap

5 Dec

quinoa bibimbap

On Monday, I posted a great recipe for when you don’t have the time or energy to cook something elaborate. By contrast, here’s a complex recipe – for when you do feel like dedicating some time to the kitchen. Bibimbap is a classic Korean dish with a rice base and various vegetables as toppings. There are a lot of components here, but you can make this easier on yourself by preparing some ahead of time or omitting some. Or you can get creative and add different components using whatever you have on hand (bell peppers and zucchini, for example, are commonly used).

quinoa bibimbap

I stayed mostly traditional with the components here, with two main differences from the bibimbap you may have encountered before. For one, I omitted bulgogi (Korean barbecued beef) for a vegetarian version – you can add it back in, if you’re a meat-lover, or conversely, go a step further, and omit the fried egg and kimchi (or use a vegan kimchi) for a vegan version. For another, intead of rice, I used quinoa, mixed with chia seeds, as a substitute. Quinoa is a favorite of mine – a lot healthier than rice with a bit of a nutty flavor – and the inclusion of chia seeds helps to create a nice, sticky texture (while adding even more health benefits). Of course, using rice will also work just fine. However you customize this recipe, it’s a fun kitchen experiment and a tasty way to eat fresh veggies.

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Ginger Butternut Squash Soup

23 Nov

ginger butternut squash soup

I love bright, colorful food. Not only does it evoke a much better visual response to a dish, making me excited to delve in, but colorful foods are also usually the healthiest ones – win, win! So here’s a nice colorful soup, using bright orange butternut squash as the base. Carrots and red lentils add to the delightful orange hue, and ginger provides the main flavoring (you can add even more than the recipe calls for, if you’d like, or stir in ginger juice (from grated ginger, wrapped in cheesecloth and squeezed) at the end). A squeeze of lemon or lime juice (either will work just fine – or even a splash of vinegar, in a pinch) helps contrast the sweetness of the squash. You can also stir in a little plain yogurt, which the original recipe called for, but I didn’t find necessary. Instead, I topped my soup with pepitas for a pop of contrast in color and texture.

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Homemade Kimchi

19 Nov

homemade kimchi

One of my best friends in middle school was Korean, and I remember fondly much of our time spent together after school. We would take the school bus to her house, and there was always perfectly cooked rice waiting in the rice cooker, sheets of seaweed to wrap it in, and delicious homemade kimchi. At the time, I wasn’t even a fan of standard pickles, and kimchi, with its fermented odor and strangely bright red, nearly unrecognizable vegetables, seemed quite intimidating when my friend first offered it to me. But I knew it was rude to refuse, so I tried it. And somehow I was quickly taken in by the bold flavors, a mix of sour, spicy, and even a little sweet that made plain rice into a treat.

I’ve eaten a lot of kimchi since then, and these days, it’s hard for me to resist, whether it’s a side to Korean barbecue, flavoring ramen, or in an omelet. I tried my hand at making my own before, but the flavor wasn’t quite right. Now that I’m in Buenos Aires, where there seems to be a dearth of good Asian food (and certainly a dearth of spicy food), I figured it was worth another shot. I compared several recipes and techniques and tried to keep things simple but authentic with my take. The only specialty ingredients here are the Korean red chili pepper flakes (gochugaru) (which I actually carted along with me from the U.S.) and fish sauce; both shouldn’t be hard to find in an Asian market (and the gochugaru can be replaced, if necessary). As I was chopping the cabbage (feeling pleasantly surprised at having been able to find Napa cabbage at my neighborhood verduleria), I started to worry that this would make too much kimchi. And even after it reduced dramatically from the initial salting, I was still concerned. But as I packed the ready-to-ferment kimchi into its large jar, I tasted a piece, and suddenly I wondered if maybe I hadn’t made enough. The fermentation only adds more complexity and the characteristic tang to the kimchi (oh, and some great health benefits, too), and I can easily say now that I’m quite happy with this recipe. I’ve been snacking on it plain, drizzled with a little sesame oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds, and loving it.

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Egyptian Yellow Lentil Soup

24 Oct

egyptian yellow lentil soup

I stumbled across some yellow lentils (while exploring Buenos Aires’ Barrio Chino (Chinatown), a subject for another post), and as I often cook with the quite similar red lentils, I immediately bought them. Like red lentils (which you can substitute here), yellow lentils cook quickly and fall apart when cooked which makes for hearty soups that taste thick and creamy without the need to add extra fat. Confusingly, yellow split peas are also sometimes referred to as yellow lentils (and look quite similar) even though they’re actually distinct – but they should also work as a substitute here. I decided to make this Egyptian soup with simple flavors to focus on the lentils themselves. I added turmeric to boost the color (and, as a side note, turmeric actually has lots of health benefits as well) and cayenne pepper because I like my food spicy. I’m sadly lacking one of my favorite kitchen tools – my immersion blender – so I couldn’t puree the soup, as I would have liked, but cooking the soup just a few minutes longer so that the lentils fell nearly completely apart worked out just fine for me.

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Spanish Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup

19 Oct

spanish red lentil and vegetable soup

I love walking down the streets here and seeing lots of little verdulerias and fruterias with colorful produce piled high. Most people here don’t buy their produce in chain grocery stores, but instead stop by these neighborhood vegetable and fruit markets on a regular basis. It’s been a bit of adventure adjusting to this mindset, thinking ahead to what I need for an upcoming recipe (at these places, you tell the shopkeeper what you’re looking for and how much, which, with my limited but expanding Spanish, takes a little preparation) and trying out the multiple places near my apartment to find the best quality (and the place most willing to put up with my bad accent). I think I found my go-to verduleria though – an especially friendly place where the quality is great, and the prices unbelievably low. It was a cold, rainy day when I went to buy the vegetables for this Spanish red lentil and vegetable soup, but I came away feeling excited to prepare this bright, colorful recipe. Packed with roasted red bell peppers, bright orange carrots, fresh diced tomatoes, and green spinach, this soup is a visual treat compared to the often drab-looking (although tasty) bean and lentil soups I like to make. Not to mention the intense flavor packed in here, with the vegetables adding a lot of sweetness (really!), complemented by the spiciness of cayenne pepper and smoked paprika. Red lentils add some extra heft (I like to cook them until they’re falling apart), making this recipe perfect for a hearty meal, especially on a rainy day.

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Antipasto Salad

5 Sep

antipasto salad

I know I’ve been posting a lot of salads, but this one is different. No greens, for one, which is a nice change of pace. And unlike most salads, these ingredients stand up really well to storage in the refrigerator, with the flavors melding and the vegetables pickling slightly to actually improve the dish. The mix of vegetables (which can be easily swapped out for whatever crisp fresh vegetables you have around) and spices is reminiscent of giardiniera, an Italian pickled relish usually served as an antipasto, but with the addition of chickpeas which means that this can easily serve as a meal. Of course, this salad is equally at place as a side (and would be amazing at a picnic or potluck).

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Mushroom Bourguignon

13 Aug

mushroom bourguignon

I think mushrooms are one of those ingredients that can be pretty polarizing. Some people love mushrooms, and others can’t stand them. Personally, I’m a big mushroom fan – they’re just packed with umami! For any other fungi aficionados out there, here’s a great recipe that showcases the meaty, earthy flavor of mushrooms as the main star of a French-inspired stew. As I’m not a vegetarian, I used bacon fat and beef stock to add extra meatiness, but you’ll be just fine with olive oil and mushroom or vegetable stock. I found this bourguignon very satisfying on a rainy day, and it’s sure to make for great comfort food for other mushroom lovers out there.

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Mulligatawny Soup

30 Jul

mulligatawny soup

A while back, I posted a recipe for a Japanese adaptation of Indian curry. But by far the most well-known adaptations of Indian cuisine come from the British. These fusions have become so widespread that it’s not unlikely that you’re already quite familiar with some of them – such as chicken tikka masala and vindaloo – from your favorite Indian restaurants (and in fact, they are now prevalent in India itself). Mulligatawny soup is a great example, the name itself a British take on an Indian phrase meaning “pepper water.” There are many variations, but they’re usually a rich yellow or orange color from the spices (if you’re using a curry powder without turmeric, make sure to add some) and often contain meat. This particular version, however, is vegetarian, with red lentils and carrots providing the bulk of the soup, and coconut milk (very popular in Anglo-Indian cuisine) stirred in for extra richness.

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Korean Cold Noodles and Vegetables

18 Jul

korean cold noodles and vegetables

I haven’t even finished posting recipes for food I cooked during the last heatwave, and DC is already in the grip of a new one. Yesterday, it reached 100 degrees for the sixth time this year, and we may very well have the seventh time today. This, after only having five 100-degree days in 2011 and four in 2010 – and 17 total in the entirety of 1993 to 2009. Weather, like food, is something I feel passionately nerdy about. And they go all so well together. Even in this time of air conditioning, I find myself gravitating towards weather-appropriate recipes. Although this recipe does involve using (a single burner on) the stove for the noodles, these refreshing cold noodles and vegetables, tossed in an amazingly flavorful sauce is another perfect dish for hot days. And in addition to being delicious, this plate packs a powerful visual punch. The vegetables are easily adaptable to whatever you happen to have around, and you can even omit the noodles, if you want – I had a simple meal of broccoli in this sauce one night, and it was still delicious. The original recipe calls for the Korean herb perilla, but I wasn’t able to find any (and admittedly, in this heat, I didn’t feel like exerting myself much in searching), and it was just fine without it. If you can find it, feel free to add it in. Hopefully, this recipe can help you stay nice and cool, however you decide to adapt it.

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