Archives for the month of: May, 2012

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To go with my vegetarian pasta, I made mussels cooked and steamed in a Pernod and fennel based broth. Pernod is an anise base Liquor, and after the production of absinthe was banned, the parent company of Pernod Ricard started making Pernod instead. Fennel is actually one of other herbs used to flavor Absinthe, along with anise, and its scent and flavor is very similar to that of anise. Read the rest of this entry »

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As an omnivore, I often have issues eating purely vegetarian dishes. Having been raised in a country at a time when meat was a commodity, most of my diet as a child have been vegetable based, seasoned with either lard, bacon, or bones. In my nearly 20 years in America, I’ve had no shortage of meat, yet I’ve only begun to appreciate meals that are completely vegetarian. Read the rest of this entry »

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One of the few things I don’t like to make is homemade ice cream. My ice cream maker is not the best in the world, and the results are so unpredictable that 90 percent of the time, the ice cream is too watery or icy. Recently I’ve been a fan of buying store bought ice cream and enhancing it at home to make it “gourmet”.

The trick is to make a recipe that incorporates really simple favors such as coffee, vanilla, and chocolate, and you will find it’s quite simple to dress them up. Read the rest of this entry »

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Roy Choi is a Korean American chef who is famous for his Kogi dogs, a korean style hotdog served from his food truck in LA. I’m rarely a fan of food trucks unless it’s 2am and there is nothing open. I always associate spending quality time with the food and the company you are with in a sit down restaurant setting, and the idea of getting food from a truck seems so rushed and impersonal, unless you are going to the food truck everyday, and develop some sort of relationship with your vendor. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fideo is a Spanish pasta that is equivalent to angel hair pasta. Unlike regular pasta, fideos are stir fried dry until browned, and water or broth is added to the browned fideos until absorbed and tender, not unlike paella. Jose Andres is a Spanish chef who trained under Adria Ferran, and he is supposed to have brought the concept of small, tapas style dishes to America. I’ve been itching to try this recipe of his for a while, and I finally got around to it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Along with the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, I also bought A Girl and Her Pig, the April Bloomfield recipe book. April Bloomfield is a chef from England who owns the renowned Spotted Pig restaurant in NYC. Her dishes are known for simple, but good quality ingredients cooked with precision, letting the ingredients speak for themselves rather than hiding it with too many levels of complexity. I was immediately drawn to her recipe for Gnudi with brown butter and sage sauce because I think it really showcases her cooking style. Read the rest of this entry »

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I bought Christina Tosi’s recipe book for Momofuku Milk Bar a few weeks ago, and got it in the mail last week. Milk bar is the sweets branch of David Chang’s growing Momofuku empire. A few years ago when I went to NYC to visit a friend, we went to Milk Bar and got their compost cookie, which is a cookie that has everything but the kitchen sink in it : coffee grounds, potato chips, pretzels… It sounded like the most unlikely combination for a cookie, but was it tasty!  Read the rest of this entry »

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When I don’t have time to cook a decent dinner, and don’t feel like going out for dinner, I usually do a soup and sandwich dinner with store bought ingredients to save time. I started with a recipe for pasta e fagioli with fresh fava beans. If not in season or not available, you can substitute frozen fava beans, or peas. Read the rest of this entry »

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This the last part of my Afro-Middle eastern inspired menu was a Swahili vegetable curry. Okra, green beans, tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, corn, cauliflower, baby potatoes, carrots….Nine total vegetables are featured in this all encompassing vegetable curry.

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The vegetables are stewed in a coconut based sauce with a variety of spices, and I cracked my own fresh coconut to extract the coconut flesh.

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The spices are first heated in a pan until fragrant, and then are finely ground in a spice or coffee grinder.

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To make the spice paste, grated coconut flesh is sautéed with some olive oil until lightly browned,

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The coconut is transferred to a blender along with the toasted spices and onions.

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And blended until a paste forms. The paste is set aside until ready for use.

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To start the curry, sliced onions and mustard seeds are cooked in a large casserole over high heat, until the onions are browned. Turmeric, mace, Garam masala and bay leaves are added to the casserole, and cooked until fragrant.

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The coconut spice paste is added to the casserole and simmered over low heat for 10 minutes.

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The coconut milk and water are added to the casserole and brought to a simmer.

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Sliced carrots and potatoes are added to the pot, and simmered for 15 minutes.

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All vegetables, except for the okra, are added to the pot with the tomato paste and simmered for 25 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

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At this point, the curry can be made ahead of time, cooled and refrigerated over night, which is what I did.
The next day, the dish is slowly brought to a simmer, and the okra is added to the pot, and cooked for about 5 minutes. Fresh curry leaves and cilantro are stirred into the curry, adjusting the seasoning to your taste.

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I like to serve the curry with some hot sauce and basmati rice.

Swahili Vegetable Curry

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One of the recipes I picked for my Afro-middle eastern inspired menu is by Marcus Sammuelsson, a Swedish chef of Ethiopian heritage. Marcus won the title of Top Chef Masters a few years ago, and while I was rooting for a different chef to win, I’ve been intrigued about his heritage and cooking style. I found a brown lentil dip recipe from him that would be a great appetizer for our dinner, and i thought it would also give me a chance to learn about his cooking.

This lentil dip is made with brown lentils and loads of middle eastern spices. Beware of the recipe portions because although I made only half the recipe, it was still too much for our dinner. It did, however, made a great little snack for the rest of the week.

To cook the lentils, they are simmered with carrots and sliced red onions in water for about 35 minutes, until very tender and almost all of the liquid has evaporated.

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The lentils and vegetables are then puréed in a food processor.

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The spice mix used in this recipe consists of cumin, coriander, ginger, cayenne, nutmeg, and allspice.

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The spices are cooked in a couple of tablespoons of butter over low heat in a medium sauce pan until fragrant, about 3 minutes. To make this recipe vegan, substitute vegetable oil for the butter instead.

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The puréed lentils are added to the pan and stirred into the spice mixture, for about 5 minutes.

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The dip is finished of with some lemon juice and seasoned to taste. Before serving, I topped the dip with some chopped cilantro leaves, and served it with some baked pita chips.

African Spiced Lentil Dip