Monday, November 30, 2009

Ghanaian Red-Red and Kelewele: My First Guest Post!



When Rebecca from Chow & Chatter asked me to do a guest post, I was incredibly flattered. Her blog is a great read - a mix of diverse cuisines and interesting recipes, nutritional advice, and travelogue. I must admit though, her guest bloggers are always so interesting that I felt very nervous trying to pick the perfect topic to write about.

After much indecision and mental back-and-forth, I realized it's best to stick with what you love, so I decided to make one of my very favorite meals for her: red-red and kelewele, a traditional Ghanain beans and starch combo. Red-red is a spicy stew of black-eyed peas; kelewele is an even spicier dish of fried plantains.

The flavors are utterly unique and absolutely intoxicating. Please head on over to Chow & Chatter for the recipes!

Friday, November 27, 2009

An Antidote for Gluttony: Spicy Baked Tofu with Chinese Celery

Thanksgiving leftovers are all well and good, but sometimes you need a little break from all that starch and heaviness. Something nutritious, incredibly flavorful, but light and easy on the tummy - and of course, a lot less likely to take up permanent residence around the waistline!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Left Behind! and a Mystery

The photo above may or may not be borscht, but that is definitely a slice of homemade beer batter quick bread perched on the side of the bowl. Whatever that soupy stew was, it was delicious - but I'll get to that in a sec.

You see, it's the day before Thanksgiving and I am too sick and flu-ey to go with Poppa Trix to the grocery store.  In a futile effort to feel better, I took cough medicine,  congestion medicine, and some extra strength Tylenol. I attempted to get dressed, even applying uncharacteristically excessive amounts of eye makeup to try to mask my death-warmed-over appearance, but Poppa said I still looked wretchedly ill. In truth, I am in no shape to go - I almost fell over into the fridge while I was trying to ascertain whether or not we needed more eggs.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not Just Another Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage Sauce Post

I know what you're thinking: Does the world really need another post about sweet potato gnocchi? Particularly, you may be saying to yourself,  a gnocchi with a brown butter, brown-butter-sage, brown-butter-sage-and-Parmesan, or any other permutation of brown butter sauce?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sole Food: Fish en Papillote

Remember that surreal feeling you got the first time you saw a childhood friend of yours - one you used to crack wise and joke around with -  do something serious ... something grown-up? It's quite shocking, really. This happened to me in my early 20s (practically yesterday, cough) at a birthday dinner for my grandfather.  My mom and I had chosen the restaurant because a friend of mine from high school worked there as a chef.

We ordered the fish in parchment paper, a dish I had never ordered before. Even though I knew my friend worked in the kitchen, nothing could have prepared me for the sight of him dressed in his full chef's whites, cutting open the parchment paper tableside. It made a huge impression on me.  "Whoa, he's a real chef!" I remember saying to my mom.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Maharagwe, a Spicy Kenyan Red Bean Dish with Cashew Curry Rice

Everything about maharagwe makes me happy. The spicy peppers make me euphoric, the red beans remind me of New Orleans, and the coconut tomato broth is pure comfort. And there's that color -  the vibrant yellow ochre the turmeric imparts to the liquid feeds the eyes before the tastebuds even get involved.

Although Kenyan, maharagwe is an example of the influence that Indian culture has had on some of the cuisine of East Africa. The turmeric, tomatoes, coconut milk, cardamom, and green peppers are all things you might find in any number of Indian dishes, but it all comes together with a distinctly East African feel. Typically maharagwe would be served with ugali, a starchy cornmeal mush. But I thought I'd play off of the Indian influence and serve it with a cashew curry jasmine rice.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Technicolor Dinner to Cure the Blues: Smashed Purple Potatoes & Cheddar Sage Biscuits

You may have noticed that a number of my posts lately have centered around chasing away the impending fall/winter blues. I've sought solace in  soup, bread, cake, and of course, liquour.  These things all worked just fine - for a time.  But when I got a big bag of purple potatoes from my CSA last week, I thought: Maybe color is the cure. I mean, who says the autumn palette has to be muted?

My first attempt at creating a Dr. Seuss style meal fell depressingly short, however. I sauteed the potatoes with peppers and onion and all the color drained out. Not fun! Undaunted, I did some research and discovered that I should have cooked the potatoes whole, with their skins on, and then hit them with a dose of acid - lemon juice or vinegar - to retain and boost their cartoonish color.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Benedictine Yogurt Cake

I rarely crave sweets, and I almost never eat dessert - I'd rather  let the savory flavors of a good meal linger. But recently I found myself unable to get the thought of the French yogurt cake at one of my favorite blogs, Citron et Vanille, out of my head. Perhaps it's the gloomy weather, or the fact that the ever-shorter days depress me ... there really is something undeniably comforting about the smell of a baking cake. I suppose the fact that it's not overly sweet attracted me, but I was also drawn to its simplicity, as I have next to no experience making cakes.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Chili Pepper, Popcorn, & Inuit Tea

What, you ask, could chili pepper, popcorn, and Inuit tea possibly have in common? Well, these are all goodies I got as part of the new Foodie Exhange program, a Google group which you should totally check out. You get to share $10 of your favorite local (non-perishable!) grub with fellow bloggers, and they'll do the same for you.

From Felice in the Kitchen in Arizona I got some  hot Southwestern goodies:  New Mexico chili powder, Arizona Gunslinger Hot Sauce and Smokin' Hot popcorn. Have you ever found a red pepper in your popcorn?  I'm talking hot.

From Cheap Ethnic Eatz in Montreal I got steak spice (which I plan to use on salmon since I don't eat steak), Inuit tea, yummy golden fudge - sucre a la creme - an unfortunately exploded maple syrup, and ice cider. Let's just say it's a good thing I don't live near a store that carries this stuff ... hic!


And what did I send them? Well, to find that out you can either check out their blogs or do an exchange with me! I'll give you a hint: chips and cookies were involved.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Homemade Butter, Radishes, & Salt: A Love Story

This isn't so much a recipe as it is a love story. You see, I used to think that radishes were useless. Sure, they looked cute enough, but their red round cuteness belied their inner hatefulness. What good were they? Just a watery afterthought, a bitter, unimaginative addition to salads, mere space wasters on trays of crudites.

But my relationship with radishes has undergone a radical transformation. You might even say we're in love. It's all due to butter, salt, and of course, the French. As in the best love stories - or perhaps more accurately 1930s screwball romances - the dramatic conclusion was not reached without some initial animosity, some madcap misadventure, and (hopefully) a good dose of witty banter.