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Arg. I’ve been cooking a decent amount lately and coming up with some tasty treats but I’ve had no time to sit and write down what I’m making. It’s insanely frustrating to try and remember what I did three months ago – that tart was fabulous… “What did I put in it, raspberries? How many?” Arg… So I’m forcing myself to record my recipes now. But forget pictures for a while. That will put me over the top.

Champignon Bourguignon
Serves four

2 lbs button or baby Bella mushrooms, quartered
Porcinis or other hearty mushrooms
1 lb pearl onions
4 carrots, thickly sliced
6 cloves garlic
4 cups red wine
4 cups broth
3T butter
1T fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
Pepper
2T olive oil
2T sweet rice flour or another GF flour
Salt to taste

Serve with steamed new potatoes.

Prepare their pearl onions. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Plunk the pearl onions in, skins and all. Boil for three minutes and then plunge into cold water to stop cooking. Cut off the root end and squeeze to remove the skins. Careful not to squirt them across the room!

In a large saucepan, melt 3T of butter and brown the onions on high. Don’t worry about cooking them through – they’ll have plenty of time later. Once browned on at least one side, turn down the heat slightly and add the garlic and the carrots. Sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add the wine, bay, thyme, and pepper and let cook down until the liquid is halved. Add the veggie broth and do the same. Salt to taste. In a small bowl, combine olive oil and sweet rice flour into a paste. Scoop out a 1/4 cup of liquid from the saucepan and whisk it into the flour and oil mixture. Add to the stew and stir. Simmer a few more minutes until sauce thickens. Serve over steamed new potatoes (tip: smash them with a wooden spoon to break the skins and let the bourgui-goodness in).

Ye-gads, it’s been a while since I posted a recipe here! It’s not for lack of effort. I have tons of food pics and recipes jotted down here and there… just no screen time. Sorry.

Well, summer is high in Chi-city and we are lovin’ life farmer’s market and CSA style. Tomatoes, cukes, peppers – each week our CSA fills our fridge with delicious bounty and we’re forced, like good Greek peasants, to eat what we have makings for. And what do we have makings for? Greek salad! WOOT!

Traditional Greek Salad (Horiatiki Salata)

Traditional Greek Salad (Horiatiki Salata)

It may not surprise you to hear that the Greek salad that is served in most restaurants is not the real deal. For one, Greeks don’t have lettuce – at least they didn’t for a long time. In fact, my grandmother used to use our lettuce in soups, thinking it was just another leafy green to cook, rather than using it in salads. Of course, this has most certainly changed these days, but the Greek salad of my youth was closer to the recipe below. When you are inundated with fresh garden tomatoes and cukes, this is the best treat in the world.

A note on ingredients: There is a variety of cucumber that I’ve never seen anywhere besides Greece. They are smaller (kirby sized), lighter skinned, kind of football-shaped, and crispier than anything we find here. The closest I have been able to find in texture is the Armenian Cucumber, a long, pale green, ribbed and slightly fuzzy cuke that is available at my farmer’s market. If you can get your hands on one of these, hubba-hubba. Also, the green peppers I’ve had in Greece are nowhere near the massive, watery bohemoths you find in our supermarkets. They are small, thin-walled and incredibly flavorful. Unfortunately, I have no clever tips on how to get your hands on something comparable here. Oh, well.

Traditional Greek Salad (Horiatiki Salata)

  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut in thick wedges or large chunks
  • 1/4-1/2 of an Armenian cucumber or 2 pickling cukes, sliced in rounds
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 small red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 1/4″ thick slice of feta cheese (please don’t waste your money on the pre-crumbled stuff!)
  • olive oil
  • kalamata olives or capers
  • salt
  • oregano

Directions in 30 words or less: Throw all the veggies into a serving bowl. Salt and toss. Drizzle with more olive oil than you think you’ll need. Place feta on top. Sprinkle with olives or capers, and top with oregano.

Dang! Four words over. It’s ok. You’ll forgive me.

So it was recently Passover, which I secretly call Celiac Appreciation Week. Of course, the two don’t exactly overlap (I guess it depends on how strict your views are on what is and is not acceptable fare during that time period) but anywhoo, I always listen smugly to my friends who kvetch heartily about how hard it is to cut bread out of their diet for a WHOLE WEEK. Mmm-hmmm. Yes, it is hard. Try it for life. But as I’m sure you’ve all noticed, they’re making everything gluten-free these days. We even found gluten-free matzohs at our regular grocery store! Who knew? Now, to the purist, they are not acceptable Passover fare but I’m a celiac shiksa, what do you want?

Gluten-Free Matzoh Ball Soup

Gluten-Free Matzoh Ball Soup

Gluten-Free Matzoh-ball Soup

for the matzoh-balls:
1 (10.5 ounce) package gluten-free matzoh
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

if you’re making your own vegetable broth:
1/2 an onion
2 stalks celery, cut in half
2 carrots, cut in half
4 cloves garlic, whole
2 bay leaves
handful of parsley, whole
1 tsp peppercorns
salt to taste

for the soup:
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic

Make broth: Use your favorite gluten-free vegetable broth, or throw 1/2 an onion (quartered), 2 stalks celery (cut in half), 2 carrots (cut in half), a handful of fresh parsley, 4-5 cloves of garlic (peeled, but not crushed), 1 t. peppercorns, and 2 bay leaves into a large pot of boiling water. Let boil while you prepare the matzoh-ball batter and chop the soup ingredients.

Make the matzoh-balls: In a food processor, grind the gluten-free matzoh until a pebbly consistency. Pour in a large bowl and sprinkle with water until just moist (start with 1/4 c. and add tablespoon by tablespoon until just a teeny bit of dry crumbs remain). Salt & Pepper to taste. Add 3 eggs, parsley, and melted butter and mix well. Set aside.

Put it all togethuh: Strain the vegetable broth if you’re making your own, saving the liquid and discarding the large vegetable chunks and spices. Return liquid to your soup pot and add your diced celery, onion, carrot and parsley. Bring to a rolling boil. With your hands, form the matzoh-ball batter (mush? I don’t know if it really qualifies as “batter”) into small golfballs and drop them into the boiling broth. They will float relatively quickly. Let them boil for a few more minutes and serve. Makes many, many delightful matzoh-balls. Mmmm…

Could it be true?!? Have I discovered the answer to my four-year quest for gluten-free filo dough? This guy sounds legit, the video looks legit, and the baklava looks like it might just make my yiayia proud. Oh, nellie. You know what I’ll be up to this weekend!!!

Ugh. I don’t mean no disrespect to carnivores, but they honestly have no inkling of how you can possibly make a meal without flesh. I can’t tell you the number of people who asked me last month whether we were cooking a tofurkey for Thanksgiving. Listen, meat-tards. If you would care to look up from your mountain of over-fattened, top-heavy, saline-injected Butterball bird, you might notice that pretty much every other dish on your table is vegetarian. HELLO! Thanksgiving is MADE for vegheads, and besides, anyone who eats fake meat should just man up and accept the fact that they crave hamburger.

Anywhoo, all this to say that whenever I go outside the confines of my carefully crafted gluten-free, veghead world for more than a day or two, I come home craving leafy greens and flave-tastic vegetarian food. In other words, give me Indian food or give me death.

With a little direction from my favorite veghead muse, Madhur Jaffries, I came up with the following version of Saag Aloo. Spinach. Dandelion greens. Inspiration.

Saag Aloo

Serves 2-3

  • 3 medium potatoes (about a pound and three quarters)
  • 1.5 lbs spinach (frozen or fresh), finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb. dandelion greens, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (ok to omit)
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1″ square fresh ginger, minced
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 fresh green chile (serrano or jalapeno)
  • 2 tsp roasted, ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-2 T ghee
  • 1/4 c. milk or cream
  • vegetable oil

Cube the potatoes and fry with salt and garam masala in a deep-sided fry pan until translucent. Remove from pan. In a food processor, puree the garlic, onion, ginger and green chile with 1/4 cup of water. Place into the frying pan and saute for 1 minute. Add the cumin and saute another minute. Add the spinach, dandelion greens, and dried fenugreek leaves and cover. Turn heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a tablespoon or two of water if it begins to scorch on the bottom. Add the potatoes back into the mix and cook, covered, for another 5 minutes, or until they are cooked through. Add the cream and butter at the last minute. Salt to taste and serve over rice.

Bi bim bap, anyone? I used to think that was safe for celiacs, and I especially relished the thick, red sauce, gochujang, that came with it. I even found it at an Asian market and got through an entire jar before bothering to read the ingredient list. No surprise, the wheat-beast was featured prominently on the list. Dangit. So the search was on for a recipe. Unfortunately, I came face-to-face with the following line from Wikipedia:

It has been made at home in Korea since the 16th century, after chili peppers were first introduced. The making of gochujang at home began tapering off when commercial production started in the early 1970s and came into the mass market. Now, homemade gochujang can hardly be found.

Hardly be found?!?! Was this written in the age of The Internets?! Impossiblum. I set to searchin’.

Mercifully, I found two recipes relatively quickly. I tried this one first, from the Shizouka Gourmet. Since the measurements are all in grams and mL (awkward!) I’ve included the conversions below. Then just follow Shizouka’s directions. Deeeeeeeelish!

Gochujang: Korean Spicy Bean Paste

  • 1 1/8 c. water
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. + 1 T Korean chili powder (I suppose you could substitute any ol’ chili powder, but real chiliheads would cry foul)
  • 1 c. miso paste (be sure to read the ingredient list because some misos are fermented with barley)
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 t. sake
  • 1 t. rice vinegar

I love this line from the executive chef at New York’s Ilili:

It’s a poor man’s dinner, eaten with eggs, or with tomatoes and scallions…

He’s referring to a dish he makes called Lebanese Potatoes with Cilantro Sauce, which may or may not appeal to you given the centrality of cilantro to the dish. Being a reformed cilantro-hater, I’m psyched to try it. And we just got potatoes from the stupormarket on Saturday. Woo.

The Philosopher's Kitchen by Francine Segan

The Philosopher's Kitchen by Francine Segan

I just came across the coolest cookbook. It’s called The Philosopher’s Kitchen by Francine Segan. Apparently, the author has spent time studying ancient texts to glean recipes from Ancient Greece and Rome which she then adapts for the modern kitchen. And, if we believe that eating 2 lbs of meat per person per day is a relatively modern occurrence (which we do), it should come as no surprise that there are many delicious vegetarian recipes in the book. And, BONUS! Most are also gluten-free. Recipes such as

Minted Garlic Spread
Red Lentils in Garlic-Roasted Artichoke Cups
Lemony Celery and Leek Soup
Acorn Squash with Pine Nuts and Honey

… Interesting, no?

Here’s more from her site

Slowly but surely my cravings for Chinese food are being sated. I may not be able to order Chinese take-out anymore, but no need. Chinese food is mine again! I’d still be game for lessons from a real Chinese gourmet, though. If you see one wandering aimlessly on the street, holler. Mmm, kay!?

Mu Shu Vegetable

Gluten-Free Mu Shu Vegetable

Gluten-Free Mu Shu Vegetable

  • 4 eggs + 2 t. sesame oil, beaten
  • 3 T oil
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 4 celery stalks, shredded
  • 4 oz. shiitake mushroom caps, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 oz. dried wood ear mushrooms, rehydrated in 1-2 cups hot water
  • 1 T grated ginger (lightly packed)
  • 1/4 c tamari
  • 1/2 c. rice cooking wine
  • 20-25 soft corn tortillas, warmed
  • double recipe of gluten-free Hoisin Sauce

A note on mu shu: Real mu shu gets its flava-flave from lotus shoots and wood ear mushrooms. Both can be found dried at Chinese markets, but seriously, peeps, how often will you have those chillin’ in your cupboard? If you do or if you can make a special trip to Chinatown, hot dang. If not, cabbage is a great substitute. As for the wood ear mushies, they actually sell them at Whole Paycheck. Niiiiiize.

Soak your wood ears in warm water (they may take up to 30 minutes to rehydrate, so be prepared) and prep the other ingredients. This’ll be a fast dish once all the parts are ready, so take the time now to get organized. Also, while you’re at it, turn the oven on to 200° F. Wrap a stack of corn tortillas in tin foil and place in the ov to warm. Word. Let the cooking begin.

Makie ze omelette: Put a bit of oil in a frying pan and heat until hot. Pour the egg beaten with sesame oil into the pan and turn down the heat to medium. As the omelette begins to cook, take a fork and pull the cooked edges towards the center of the pan while simultaneously tilting the pan so the uncooked egg runs out to fill the space you just created. Keep doing this until the egg is no longer runny. Now you’re ready to flip ‘er. That’s right. Man (or woman) up and just flip the beetch. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely.

Makie ze other schtuff:In a large wok or high-sided pot, put 3 T of oil and heat on high. Add garlic when hot and saute for a minute or two. Add the cabbage, celery, and shiitake mushrooms and saute until the cabbage begins to turn translucent. At this point you can add the remaining ingredients: the scallions and wood ear mushrooms, the ginger, and the rice wine and tamari. Saute until the cabbage is nice and tender, about 10 minutes.

Serve hot with the warmed tortillas and gluten-free hoisin sauce. As with real mu-shu, let everyone assemble their own at the table by taking a tortilla, spreading a bit of the hoisin on first and then spooning ~2-3 T of filling on top. Fold the tortilla in thirds over the filling and chow. Serves 3-4 if it’s the main dish. Alternatively, for a full gluten-free Chinese meal, serve with gluten-free hot and sour soup as an appetizer and gluten-free tofu with black bean sauce as another main dish. Then it’ll go much further!

Alright vegheads, brace yourselves. It was bound to happen, and after a year at the helm, I’m just going to suck it up and do it: a recipe with fish. So now you know our dirty little secret. We’re really pescatarians. But we eat fish so rarely and feel so guilty about it when we do that we’re functionally vegheads. Oy. Let’s move on.

So I’ve never really dug paella. Am I the only one? Maybe it’s the bits of mussel shell that get inadvertently broken and have the nasty habit of sneaking up on you in the midst of what you’re hoping will be a tasty bite. Or perhaps it’s the dusty, musty combination of colored-but-not-flavored paprika and can-taste-like-basement-so-use-it-wisely saffron. Or maybe it’s that cooked bell peppers and rice are too good an approximation of the flavor of all airplane food in the 1980s. I dunno. Bottom line is, I’m just “enh” on paella. Blasphemy, you say!? You should be pleased. It means more for you.

Except that now I’m not so sure you don’t have to worry about competition from me at the paella table. Perhaps it’s due to the moon being perfectly aligned with the stars, or to the fact that I am missing exactly half of the ingredients for a seafood paella according to Ruth Reichel. Either way, tonight I made an almost-paella that I want all to myself. Every night. Me. Mine. Unless you volunteer to bring the wine. Then I might share.

Almost-Paella or Green Chile Paella

Almost-Paella or Green Chile Paella

Almost-Paella (or) Green Chile Paella

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/2 c. arborio rice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced/mashed/smashed
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 3 T white wine
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1/8 t. saffron
  • 4 c. vegetable broth, heated
  • 1 c. peas
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 2-4 T chopped green chile (can substitute 1 chopped fresh jalapeno or serrano pepper)

**A note on kitchen gear: If you have gads of space and a paella pan to fill it, then by all means, break out the paella pan for this recipe. If you’re like me and are trying to get by with the minimum gear needed for maximum gourmetness, you might not have made the paella pan choice. No problem. Just use a large, high-sided saute pan like this. You’ll need the high sides for when you add the liquid so it doesn’t spill out and make a dern mess.

Prep everything first. This is a fast-flyin’ dish when it comes down to it so you don’t want to be stuck chopping onions while the garlic burns. Peel and devein your shrimp, if they aren’t already cleaned. Mash the garlic and combine it with the tomato paste and the salt in a small bowl. Pour the wine, lemon juice, and saffron into a glass and let sit. Chop your scallions into thin rounds. Slice your onion into strips. Measure out your peas (and let them thaw if they’re frozen). Dice or coarsely chop whatever spicy chile you decide to use.* Ok, nice work. You’re ready.

Preheat your oven to 400° F. Put 3 T olive oil in the frying pan and heat on medium high. When hot, throw in the shrimp and shimmy around for a few (two-ish) minutes. The goal here is not to cook the shrimp, just to sear it nicely. It’ll cook fully later. When seared on both sides, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Put the tomato paste, garlic and salt into the hot oil and fry for a minute, stirring constantly so the tomato paste doesn’t burn. Add the rice and stir so the tomato paste coats the grains evenly. Add the bay leaves, the wine/lemon/saffron mixture, the hot veggie broth, and a generous grrrp-grrrp-grrrp of black pepper. Give a good stir and allow to simmer for 5ish minutes. Add the scallions, onion, and peas and stir again. Arrange the shrimp on top. Place the pan uncovered in the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, pull it out and test the rice. The rice should be a bit too al dente. Cover the pan and let sit for another 10 minutes. Test the rice again. If it’s not done, add another 1/4 c. boiling water and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Follow the same plan after pulling it out of the oven the second time – let sit, covered, for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley, garnish with lemon slices. Serves 2-3 hungry hippos.

*A word on chile-ville: New Mexico green chiles are akin to the Sirens in Greek mythology and have been known to inspire obsessive behavior in their victims. Once you’ve tasted them you will go to great lengths to have them readily available in your home. Assuming you have not been bitten by the NM green chile bug and therefore don’t have a freezer full of roasted, peeled and seeded chiles ready to thaw and chop, I’ll offer some other options to achieve chileness.

  1. I have seen channed green chile at the supermarket; you can use these.
  2. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can buy 2 poblano peppers, roast them in a broiler, turning them every 5-10 minutes until the skins are blackened. Place them in a paper bag and close the top to let them steam. When cool, peel off the skin and remove the stems and seeds. Chop and use in place of the green chile.
  3. Or, you can just use a fresh jalapeno or serrano pepper, finely chopped.
    1. Your call.