Tag Archives: stew

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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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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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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Ratatouille

8 Jun

ratatouille

It feels like we are positively barreling into summer. I love watching the gardens in my neighborhood steadily grow, plants spreading out and reaching high. Of course, my focus is always on the food, and I can’t help but smile as I start to see the tangled squash vines (not in my garden, unfortunately, as I can’t bring myself to plant them again after watching them take over and then subsequently die by root disease before producing a couple years ago) and the small fruits forming behind the wilting flowers on tomato and pepper plants. In anticipation of the most prolific summer days, when the produce is cheap and overflowing, here is a great simple ratatouille recipe to make the most of some of those delicious vegetables. I’ve left eggplant out of my version here, but feel free to include it (make sure to salt the eggplant and let it sit before using), and I’ve chosen to include mushrooms instead, which are a little less traditional, because I like the meatiness they add. Oven roasting adds a little extra depth and brings out the natural sweetness of the squash and bell peppers. This stew can be a great side or vegetarian (vegan, actually!) entree. I served mine with Tuscan braised white beans – I know, mixing my Italian and my French food here, but it was a great combination.

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Japanese Curry

16 May

japanese curry

Japanese curry is an interesting phenomenon – traditional Indian curries twisted their way through the British to Japan and beget this now widely popular dish. Usually served over rice (or sometimes noodles) and often called “curry rice” as a result, Japanese curry adds extra sweetness over its predecessors (from a grated apple in this recipe – sometimes raisins are also added) and is thickened with a flavorful roux. I can’t help but love every incarnation of curry, from Thai to Indian to British, and Japanese curry is no exception. Usually made with humble potatoes, carrots, and peas, I like to switch out the potatoes for cauliflower and add in mushrooms and chickpeas, resulting in a variety of flavors and textures, as well as quite a lot of food.

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Vegetarian Feijoada (Brazilian Black Bean Stew)

25 Apr

vegetarian feijoada

If you are Brazilian or have been to Brazil and eaten authentic feijoada, let me apologize right now. Traditionally, feijoada is a stew of black beans with a variety of cuts of meat, so I’m sure I am being completely blasphemous by creating this vegetarian version. In place of the meat, I’ve used mushrooms and quinoa (a new favorite of mine) to add a variety of textures and flavors. If you’re like me and not totally vegetarian (I eat mostly vegetarian for health and cost reasons), feel free to use beef broth in place of vegetable broth and bacon fat in place of olive oil to add a little extra heartiness and smokiness, but you should also fare just fine without it. I’m always looking for tasty and filling dishes to have on hand for weekday lunches, so this was a nice change of my pace from my usual while still using ingredients I had on hand.

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Fasoulia (Middle-Eastern Spiced Kidney Beans)

9 Apr

fasoulia

Fasoulia is simply Arabic for beans. Many different dishes go by this name, sometimes there’s meat included, sometimes a splash of pomegranate molasses. But the base of beans and tomatoes with Middle-Eastern spices stays consistent. I used kidney beans here, but other beans (including green beans) would also work, and my dad says black-eyed peas are what’s usually used in Lebanon. Traditionally, this dish would be cooked with baharat, a Middle-Eastern spice mix, but I didn’t feel up to making a new spice mix when cooking this, so after looking at the ingredients typically included in baharat (paprika, black pepper, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom) settled on using a mixture of curry powder and paprika to come close to the same flavor. This combination worked very well, although if you have baharat, that would certainly be best.

Fasoulia is usually served with breakfast, and I found it tasted amazing topped with a fried egg (or mixed with scrambled eggs) and sprinkled with a little zaatar. But this would also work by itself as a stew for a hearty lunch or dinner. I love how perfectly simple this recipe is while still managing to pack a lot of flavor; it’s really a great reminder how important spices are to a dish, so now is a good time to make sure you’re using fresh spices (ground spices typically don’t stay good for much longer than six months, and you can easily gauge how much flavor is left in your spices by taking a smell – you want a fairly strong aroma).

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Roasted Pepper and Mushroom Paprikash

14 Mar

roasted pepper and mushroom paprikash

Paprikash is a Hungarian stew, usually made with chicken, where the spicing comes entirely from paprika. As a paprika lover, this stew is naturally a favorite of mine. I’ve made a more traditional version using chicken before, but was recently inspired to try out this vegetarian version. The sweetness of roasted peppers and earthiness of cremini mushrooms is a great match with the paprika (I think I’m going to start adding both to my chicken paprikash!), and I tossed in some lentils to make it a little heartier.

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West African Peanut Soup

12 Mar

african peanut soup

Despite my love of bacon, I’ve recently found myself cooking a surprising amount of unintentionally vegan food. Meat is sadly quite pricey (especially if you’re like me and have qualms about eating factory-farmed meat with hormones and antibiotics), so I’m turning more and more to filling meals using fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, and lentils. And I’m surprised at the great flavors I can develop using these ingredients. Take, for example, this West African peanut soup. Mostly basic ingredients, but somehow combining peanut butter and tomato paste with aromatics and curry powder yields a nearly irresistible soup. Vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters alike rave about this soup. And this could be a great base for a number of variations – sweet potatoes or other root vegetables would be a natural fit in here, as would chicken (if you can’t resist the urge to add some meat).

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Fesenjan: Persian Pomegranate Walnut Chicken

7 Mar

fesenjan

Fesenjan is a simple and intensely flavored Persian chicken stew, thick with tart-sweet pomegranate molasses and rich toasted walnuts. Pomegranate molasses is a pantry staple of mine, and this recipe relies heavily on the syrup for it’s fruity tartness which permeates the chicken as it cooks. The use of walnuts meanwhile reminds me of the cashews in my vegetable korma except the walnuts here are only ground to fine bits instead of a paste. Actually, I think I’ll try grinding the walnuts to a paste with water as in the korma recipe next time; I imagine that would work well for anyone who doesn’t want actual crunchy bits of walnuts in the finished stew (although, personally, I like the variety of textures). The spicing is very simple with a few whole cardamom pods and a cinnamon stick thrown in – many recipes actually don’t even call for these (and you’ll be okay leaving them out), but I’ve found they add a little extra depth.

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