Tag Archives: ginger

Tropical Black Bean Quinoa Salad

6 Feb

tropical black bean quinoa salad

Inspired by the coconut breakfast quinoa I recently cooked up, I decided to try a savory preparation using quinoa cooked with coconut milk. I added black beans for extra substance and played off the tropical flavor of the coconut with mango, avocado, fresh mint, and lime juice. The resulting salad was colorful and delicious (not to mention healthy) – perfect for serving my parents for dinner at the end of a hot day of sightseeing.

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Chana Masala

23 Jan

chana masala

Despite the lengthy ingredient list, this North Indian chickpea stew comes together quickly and easily. It’s more of a tart curry, rather than some of the creamy ones with lots of warming spices (cinnamon, cloves, etc). Here, acidic tomatoes, tart amchoor powder, and citric lemon juice are strong components, alongside a hefty quantity of spices, of course. But it still manages to feel balanced, especially when served over rice (or quinoa, as I served it). I added cauliflower florets to my version (I think that actually makes this gobi chana masala), which I think are great alongside the creamy chickpeas. A sprinkle of cilantro at the end proved surprisingly crucial in rounding out the flavors (I wouldn’t omit it), and a little yogurt on top helps to quench the heat of hot peppers and ground cayenne pepper. I also topped mine with pickled red onions and thought their crispness was a great complementary texture. This curry, by the way, only improves with a couple of days in the refrigerator, so don’t hesitate to make this large batch even if you’re only cooking for one or two.

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Strawberry Bourbon Lemonade

26 Nov

strawberry bourbon lemonade

Strawberries are starting to show up here, reminding me why I chose to move to the Southern hemisphere just in time for spring. I couldn’t resist buying some up and concocting this cocktail for the increasingly hot days. Nothing like sitting on the balcony, sipping on this dangerously tasty drink, and wishing the pool below was for this apartment building instead of the next one over. I’ve been feeling nostalgic for bourbon, so that’s what I used, even though the bottle of Jack Daniels was pricey. Selection’s limited around here (the Argentine imitations are, frankly, not even close). But this recipe can be adapted to whatever liquor you have on hand, and cheap liquor works just fine, so save your high quality stuff for drinking straight. Ginger mint simple syrup was ready and waiting in my refrigerator, and the flavors are great in here, but, again, feel free to adapt – plain simple syrup will do just fine, or if you have another fancy infused one around, use that. If winter’s approaching where you are and strawberries aren’t in season, the drink’s tasty without them, and it’s a great prop for pretending you’re someplace warm, to boot.

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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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Ginger Mint Simple Syrup

14 Nov

ginger mint simple syrup

I love basics like this recipe. An infused simple syrup is a great building block that’s great to have in your refrigerator because even though it’s trivial to throw together, it makes it easy to add a gourmet touch. Suddenly, it’s no problem to make ginger mint lemonade or ginger mint iced tea. Or you can pour a little bit over a fruit salad to take dessert to the next level. And, of course, it’s the perfect addition to mixed drinks, a great foil for whiskey, gin, rum, tequila, or whatever your favorite spirit might be.

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Pear Ginger Nut Granola

31 Oct

pear ginger nut granola

Similarly to adjusting to buying my produce at a small neighborhood market, it took me a while to realize that the supermarket was not the best place for nuts, seeds, dried beans, and dried fruits (staples in my cabinet). The selection is limited, the quality bad, and the prices high, so I’d resigned myself to not having these around as much. Then I realized that the stores here called “dieteticas” were not, as I’d originally thought, purveyors of vitamins and protein powers, but instead actually specialized in just these sort of bulk goods that I like so much. At a nearby one, I stocked up on ingredients for this surprisingly easy to make granola. I tried to use a minimum of oil and honey in this recipe to keep it on the healthier side (although you can take it even further by using applesauce in place of the oil). With extra flavor from fresh ginger and orange zest, alongside traditional oats, nuts, and raisins and less traditional coconut flakes, chia seeds, and dried pears, this granola has more than enough in it to keep it exciting. And, like all granola recipes, it can be easily modified to your liking.

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Mongolian Beef

29 Oct

mongolian beef

I recently took a trip to Buenos Aires’ Barrio Chino (Chinatown) and was pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of Asian ingredients available. Finally, I could get my hands on hot sauce, soy sauce not made in Argentina (the versions made here are really quite bad to my taste), sesame oil, and more. They even had my favorite brand of soy sauce – Kimlan. But, unlike in the US, these bottles weren’t re-labeled with English and only had the most basic information written in Spanish on stickers attached to the sides of the bottles. So what I thought was my trusty Kimlan Super Special soy sauce turned out to be thick soy sauce instead. Thick soy sauce (not to be confused with dark soy sauce), also known as soy paste or soy jam, is sweetened and quite thick, often used for dipping sauces and, apparently, to color fried rice in many Chinese restaurants. I wasn’t sure what to do with the stuff, but when I saw this Mongolian beef recipe that called for large quantities of soy sauce and brown sugar, I knew this thick soy sauce would be the perfect alternative. This classic Americanized Chinese dish (despite the name, it is most certainly not Mongolian) is very simple to make, and although I wouldn’t quite call this recipe healthy, I’m sure it’s better than the usual take-out versions. In addition to the thick soy sauce, cornstarch further thickens the sauce (while tenderizing the beef as well). I also tossed in thickly sliced onions and bell peppers for color and variety of texture. I served mine over cauliflower rice, though of course, regular rice will work just fine, too.

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Spiced Cauliflower

10 Oct

spiced cauliflower

I think my priorities might be a little skewed. When I was packing for Buenos Aires, I made an effort to get my possessions down to a bare minimum, to pack only what I really needed. But I decided that, along with a basic wardrobe, laptop computer, and camera, what I really needed to bring along was as many spices as possible. I’d heard that some were hard to find, and I didn’t want to deal with the start-up cost of buying new spices (plus they’re light!). Some people made fun of me for the decision, but when I picked up a head of cauliflower and saw this recipe, I knew I’d made the right decision. For many of the main ingredients, it was just a matter of reaching into my already well-stocked cabinet, and the resulting dish is spicy and immensely flavorful, reminiscent of (though I’m sure not authentic) Indian food. And not only did it taste great hot out of the pan, it was equally tasty eaten cold the next day.

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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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