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Archive for the ‘Spicy’ Category

Inspired by the changing autumn colours, the crisp morning bike rides through the streets of Ottawa, and the bountiful harvest, I sometimes feel like I cannot satisfy my desire to cook at this time of year. There are so many things I’d like to make!

This soup is inspired from rebar, a fantastic cookbook Catherine has already talked about. What I love about this soup is the tangy, rich and spicy flavour, in the form of a light soup. It is simply delicious!IMG_20151004_200842

Ingredients – 6 servings

-1 1/2 lb tomatillos, de-husked and washed
-1 hot chili of your taste (jalapeno or other), diced. You can remove or keep the seeds depending on how spicy you want it
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-4 garlic cloves, minced, and divided in 1/4 and 3/4
-1/2 tsp salt and pepper

-6 cups vegetable stock, kept hot while preparing the rest
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-1 red pepper, diced
-1 tsp ground coriander
-1 tsp salt
-2 cups corn kernels
-1 small zucchini, chopped
-1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro plus more for garnish
-1/2 lime, juiced

Directions

Preheat oven to 425. Cut the tomatillos in half and place in a bowl with the olive oil, the chili and 1/4 of the garlic. Toss with salt and pepper and then place in a large enough baking dish that they can all be roasted without being piled up. Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes until they are browned and roasted. Cut in quarters and set aside.

In a saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer, with the corn kernels.

In a large soup pot with a lid, heat the olive oil. Sauté the onion until it softens. Add the red pepper, the garlic, coriander, salt, and sauté for a further 3 minutes before adding the zucchini. Once the zucchini is in add the minced cilantro and stir, until the veggies are soft and the garlic is fragrant. Add the stock and lime juice and bring to a boil. Simmer the mixture for 30 minutes, then add the roasted tomatillo mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Add cilantro leaves for garnish. This is a delicious tangy soup you can have as a full meal with fresh corn bread or as a first course in a bold autumn feast!

-Sitelle

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I’ve been waiting for some inspiration in the last year in order to bring you some new recipes on Gourm(eh), and I’ve finally admitted to myself the reason that it’s been a slow time in my culinary adventures. The truth is, it’s not very exciting to cook for oneself. One thing that I’ve really enjoyed, however, has been long-distance meal-planning with my significant other, especially because it’s so exciting to see that despite distance, food is still able to bring us together and we often send messages back-and-forth of ideas and questions about how best to prepare things, and what produce has been good lately at the market or grocery store. Yes I’ll admit, Hamilton is a bit ahead of Ottawa, but we’ve got some good things here too now! It’s not nearly as nice as a meal together, but it will do if it’s all we’ve got for now!

I’m telling you this because this recipe was inspired by his own a few weeks ago. A tomato sauce with beets! I had one pound of delicious ground beef from my CSA box, new young leeks, fresh oregano and beets, so I decided to attempt some meatballs with spaghetti and a spicy beet tomato sauce. The spicy sauce is well-balanced by the sweet beet base, and it goes very well with flavourful beef.

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Ingredients – 4 servings

Meatballs

1 lb ground beef, extra lean
2 young leeks, cleaned and minced
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
3 tbsp bread crumbs
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed (I like to pound mine in a mortar and pestle)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 egg
dash salt and pepper
olive oil

Spicy beet tomato sauce

1 onion, diced
2 young leeks, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 – 1 tsp dried chili flakes (to taste)
1 beet, diced into small pieces
1  good tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 can diced tomatoes (796 mL or 28 Oz)

Spaghetti or other pasta, enough for 4 (according to package)

Parmesan, for garnish

Directions

Mix all ingredients for meat balls except olive oil and egg in a bowl with hands until everything is well mixed, then add the egg. Form into small balls in the palm of your hands, and place on a plate drizzled with olive oil. Roll the meatball in the olive oil so it is coated, and repeat until you have made all the mixture into meatballs. Depending on the size, you should get 20-30 meatballs. Set aside in refrigerator while you prepare the sauce.

For the sauce, dice the onions first, and heat up the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onions for a few minutes, then add the minced leek. Cook for a few more minutes and then add the garlic, chili flakes and basil. Stir until the onion is soft and everything is fragrant. Add the beet, and then the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a strong simmer and then reduce the heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, while you prepare the meatballs and the pasta.

For the meatballs, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium-high heat in another frying pan. Once the oil is hot, cook the meatballs, turning them carefully so all sides brown. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, until they are cooked through (you should not see any pink inside).  Set on a paper-towel lined plate once cooked.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and cook pasta to your liking. Pour a ladle-full of water into the beet sauce to make it a little saucier if you like. Serve the meatballs tossed in the sauce, over the pasta, with grated parmesan and enjoy!

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By March, I’m tired of winter food: the root veggies, onions, and garlic are at the end of their time, and the new spring crops are far from being ready, unless Maple Syrup falls in the category of a proper food!

Instead I’ve been leaning to dried pulses: beans and lentils, which seem to be timeless. This week, I’ve been inspired to create new dishes inspired by Latin American flavours. This dish came together on its own, from simple ingredients, and requires little effort other than remembering to soak the beans in advance. The result is a delicious bean stew, which can be eaten with tortillas, over rice, or even as a soup if you cook it in large volumes of water or broth!

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Ingredients – 4 servings

-1 cup dried kidney beans, soaked for 1 day or boiled, rinced, boiled again, and soaked for 3 hours
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1/2 red onion, diced
-1 jalapeño, finely diced (seeds removed if you don’t like it too spicy)
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-2 tsp chili powder
-1 stick cinnamon
-1/2 to 1 tsp salt (to taste)
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-juice from 1/2 a lime
-1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce (omit if vegetarian, and add 1/4 vegetable bouillon cube to replace)
-1/2 red pepper, small dice
-2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
-1L water

Directions:
Soak the beans in advance. When ready, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions until they become soft, then add the garlic, jalapeño, cinnamon stick and the spices. Sprinkle the salt over the top, and stir, until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.

When the onion begins to brown, add the water, and bring to a boil. Add the Worcestershire sauce and the lime juice and simmer on low for 1-2 hours, covered.

Increase the heat to medium and add the red pepper. Remove the cover, stirring and crushing a few of the beans. Allow to simmer uncovered at a mild boil until most of the liquid is either absorbed or boiled off. The beans stew should become a bit thicker, and there should not be more than a ‘sauce’ when it is ready. Finally, add the cilantro, and if you like the lime feel free to add another spritz or two of lime before serving!

-Sitelle

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Farmer’s markets are one of my favourite places to visit. I enjoy how markets allow me to meet the people who grow the greens, raise the laying hens that produce eggs, and who produce anything else that catches my eye.

There’s another important reason why I enjoy markets so much: I draw inspiration from everything I see, and I like to challenge myself to cook  vegetables or fruit I am less familiar with. This past weekend I attended the Sweetwater Music Festival in Owen Sound, and since I did not have any concerts to attend in the morning G. and I went to the farmer’s market to explore what local products were available.

At one of the vendors, a basket of tomatillos caught my eye, and I remembered a bunch of cilantro in my refrigerator in Ottawa.

Back home, I drew inspiration from the beautiful sunny weather, despite the cold, whipping up a tangy spicy green salsa for a lunch BBQ at my neighbour’s place. In the end, I was invited to play some board games another time, “as long as [I] make that salsa again!” I’ll leave it to you to try it, and see if it measures up to its reputation as an immediate “invite-granting” commodity!

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Ingredients – An appetizer for 8, as long as there are enough tortilla chips!

-1 lb Tomatillos, peeled and washed

-3 Shallots, peeled and quartered

-2/3 Cup fresh cilantro leaves

-Juice from 1 lime

-4 Dried red chilli peppers (or more or less to taste)

-Tiny pinch salt

-Tortilla chips

Directions

Preheat the broiler while you peel and wash the tomatillos and prepare the shallots. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and place 2/3 of the tomatillos and two of the shallots on the sheet. Make sure none are touching (they roast better that way). Broil for 7 minutes, then turn the vegetables and broil on the other side for another 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the remaining raw tomatillos and shallot, and place in a food processor (or blender). Wash the cilantro and place in the food processor as well with the hot chillis and juice from half of the lime.

When the veggies are done roasting, place them in the food processor as well, then coarsely blend it all. Add a pinch or two of salt, and some additional lime (to taste).

Place in a bowl and serve with tortilla chips – or alternatively, serve on burgers hot off the grill!

-Sitelle

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As you can probably guess, my last two weeks have been quite an adventure. Sandwiched between two vastly different rock-climbing weekends, I spent two weeks working on some intense mind-numbing data collection in the field in the Eastern Townships of Québec. With that behind me, however, I’m thrilled to be home and to enjoy the simple things like cooking dinner together at home.

In Québec, I could well have been paid for my work in mulberries, fresh Montreal Tasty heirloom tomatoes, and zucchinis from a delicious garden in the place I stayed at. Monkeying around in the mulberry tree at 7am probably made me look like quite a character to the neighbours – but I was willing to take on the role if it meant a salad-bowl full of mulberries for breakfast every day!

When I came home, we basically changed gears into preparing for an up-coming adventure (more details to come – but I will admit it will require us to move, and very far at that). That has meant planning to cook so many meals we’ve had on our list of recipes to try all summer. Tonight was no exception: we cooked Lamb Keema from the LCBO’s Food and Drink magazine (summer 2012).

We had high hopes for this recipe. Full of home-mixed spices and protein, it’s a perfect end-of-summer meal for those days that are heavy in exercise (it was also delicious without exercise too). Not only was it delicious, it was easy to make as long as all the ingredients are readily available in your kitchen (as long as you’re into Indian cooking, your pantry can probably handle it). Topped off with a sunny-side-up egg, this meal is also an eye-pleaser. Finally, I also want to mention that it is low in carbs, if you’re looking for that.

Ingredients – 4 servings (don’t be discouraged by the long list – most are spices!)

1/2 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
salt

1 lb ground lamb (500g)
1/2 cup yogurt

2 Tbsp cooking oil + 1 Tbsp clarified butter
2 whole green cardamom pods
3 whole cloves
1 large bay leaf
1 stick cinnamon

1 medium cooking onion (or the other half of the large red onion), diced
1 Tbsp grated ginger (fresh)
4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup tomato purée
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground coriander

2 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1 cup frozen peas
2 tsp garam masala

4 eggs
1 Tbsp butter
cracked black pepper, cayenne to taste

Fresh cilantro (optional)

Directions

Slice the half onion into half-rings. Sprinkle with salt, and let stand.

Heat the oil in a pot with a lid. Once hot, add the whole spices and fry until fragrant, around 3 minutes. Add the diced onion, and fry until translucent but not browned.

Meanwhile, mix the ground lamb and yogurt in a bowl. Mince the garlic and grate the ginger. When onions are ready, add the lamb to the onion mixture and stir to break it all apart. Cook until it is no longer pink, then add in the garlic and ginger. Cook for a minute or two.

Add the tomato purée and 1 1/4 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil. Sprinkle all of the spices on top except the garam masala. Add the potatoes, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, covered. Remove the cover near the end and leave open if amount of liquid remaining is too much.

Heat the butter in another frying pan. Cook each egg separately sunny-side up, seasoning according to taste.

Finally, add in the peas and garam masala. Remove from heat. Rince the onions under the tap. Divide the keema into four portions and serve with a sunny-side-up egg on top, accompanied with some of those salted onions, and fresh coriander if you have some.

This meal is delicious alone, accompanied with naan, or salad!

The only thing I want to do is thank the LCBO for publishing such a delicious recipe in its Food and Drink magazine!

-Sitelle

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Having another home in West Africa means I have added a whole new repertoire of recipes, West-African style, to my cooking – and I’m really excited to share them on gourm(eh).

Cooking in Gambia is a totally different story than here. Imagine cooking mostly one-pot meals over an open fire, or if you are fortunate enough, an improved cookstove. It a communal experience, and the saying ‘many hands make for lighter work’ is fitting as the work is hard, and most often done in groups.

I found it interesting that my taste buds actually adjusted while living there: a dish I did not like at first became one of my favourites by the end – and this was actually the case with a number of dishes. Domoda, however, was always at the top of my list from the beginning!

Domoda is a rich groundnut (peanut)-based stew, a favourite of mine from Gambia and Senegal.

Ingredients – Dinner for 6
2 purple (spanish) onions, diced
1.5 lb cubed stewing beef or 6 chicken pieces
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp (heaping) tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, germ removed
2 bouillon cubes (I like to use chicken)
1 tsp peppercorns
2 cups just peanut smooth peanutbutter
Juice from one lemon
1 scotch bonnet pepper (very spicy) or 1 jalapeno pepper
3 carrots, peeled and then cut into thirds or quarters
1 eggplant, washed and quartered
1 cup squash cubes (any kind – butternut or acorn for example, peeled)
salt to taste
water
1.5 cups uncooked rice, medium grain

Directions
In a heavy-bottomed pan with a lid, heat oil over medium-medium high heat. Brown the beef, reduce the heat, and add the onions until they are translucent. Then add the tomato paste and stir. Cook for another 3 minutes stirring occasionally. If you have a mortar and pestle, pound the peppercorns and then add the garlic and the bouillon cubes until you get a smooth paste. If you don have a mortar and pestle, just chop everything finely and mix by hand.

Add the seasoning mix to the meat, stir, and then add the vegetables and the whole (washed) hot pepper. Cover with water, stirring well to incorporate all the tomato onion mixture. Increase the heat and bring to a simmer. Once it simmers reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove a cup of hot liquid and pour into a large bowl with the peanutbutter. Stir well with a fork until the peanutbutter is all incorporated. Stir this into the pan with everything else, and stir well so everything is evenly mixed. Add the lemon juice. Let the mixture simmer uncovered until you have a stew-like consistency. If you find the vegetables still need more time but there is little sauce left, just cover the pot.

When it is almost ready, cook rice according to package instructions.

To serve, ladle stew over rice. You can squeeze the hot pepper on your spoon a tiny bit to get spicy juices out thereby tailoring how spicy your own plate is – and then share the hot pepper with the others. Just remember scotch bonnets are VERY spicy!

Alright, bonne appétit.
-Sitelle (Alias Ya Ndey)

Pumpkin

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As this post suggests, I am back! I must admit the fast pace of life throws me off a but here, as do all the choices availe in the super-market, and the orderly queues. Oh yeah, and Toronto feels so cold… apparently it is possible to acclimatize to new environments quite easily.

First of all I want to thank Catherine for all her wonderful contributions to Gourm(eh) while I was out of regular internet range. Catherine is alive and well in Kenya now (we traded continents, and spoke today!), and I am back in Canada. Now, it is my turn to share my west African adventures with you.

Actually, for the next little while I have many, many recipes I want to share: both Central America-inspired and Senegambia-inspired, and I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do. I find it exciting to try new styles of cooking, and each of these recipes has so many stories and memories attached I cannot help but be excited to post them!

Akara, or bean fritters, are very common throughout West Africa. I typically purchased them from women frying them on charcoal stoves along the streets who packaged them up in ripped brown paper from flour bags and doused them in spicy sauce. Resisting the urge to eat them right away, I would carry them home and eat them from the comfort of my mat while sharing them with my friends.

Ingredients

Akara

1.5 cups black-eyed peas, soaked in water overnight
1 large red onion
1 jalapeno or scotch bonnet hot pepper
6 black peppercorns
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Dipping sauce

50g tomato paste
1 red onion finely sliced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
juice of 1-2 lemons
1 tsp black pepper corns
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water

Directions

Soak beans overnight in plenty of water. The following day, squeeze or rub the skins off the beans (if a few remain, don’t worry), remove them by dumping the water out of the beans. Keep the beans in a large bowl and pass the water through a strainer to catch the skins. Add more water and continue to remove the skins and wash the beans.

Clean the onions and half the hot peppers in a food processor or blender with the beans and pulse. Pound the pepper corns and add to the mixture, and add the parsley if you want to add a bit of a unique taste. Pulse well, until a you have a thick bean paste. Add salt to taste and the remaining hot pepper if you want the fritters to be spicy (warning: scotch bonnet peppers are very, very spicy).

Heat up about a centimeter of oil in a pan with a lid over high heat. Once heat-waves show up on the oil reduce heat to medium high. Carefully add spoonfulls of the bean mixture into the hot oil. Test it with one first, and make sure to add more only when the oil is bubbling around the bean paste. Cook for a couple minutes on each side, then remove from the hot oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Make Akara dipping sauce (spicy):

Dice the onions and garlic. Heat up the oil in a frying pan and add the onions and pounded black pepper. When the onions begin to become transparent, add the garlic and cook for another minute. Then stir in the tomato paste and cook for a couple more minutes before adding the chopped hot peppers and 1 cup water. Increase heat to medium-high until mixture boils, after which reduce the heat and simmer until at least half of the water has evaporated, and the sauce thickens. Add lemon juice and season with salt.

Pour sauce over fritters, and serve as an appetiser or main course with a salad.

Hope you enjoy them!

-Sitelle (Alias: Ya Ndey)

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