Long live the chili peppers!

Nutritional Tips

Love it when I stumble across good news – especially about things that I like to eat, drink, or do. Saw this piece on the health benefit of chili peppers from Epicurious.com. And I quote: “The compound responsible here might be capsaicin, the very thing that makes peppers spicy—it might guard against heart disease and obesity, and it has antimicrobial properties that might aid gut health.” Read the whole article here: Chili Peppers Might Help You Live Longer.

Red_Peppers By http://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope via Wikimedia Commons

Sharing the Love (of Okra)

Beef Recipes, Others, stew

Cooking and writing actually calm me down. And lately, I think I would not be the only one needing to simmer down. With the news being like they are, from here and there and everywhere, it is hard to disengage from it and not be angry at the world. But anyway, today is a new day and I will do my best to contribute love by cooking and writing more.

I fell in love with Okra because of Leena, a dear friend of mine in Chicago. Many years ago, Farah and I came by Leena’s house for dinner. She had prepared her fabulous Syrian stew made of okra and beef in this tomato broth (bamya). I was hooked and I would always order that stew whenever Jeff and I went to Mediterranean restaurants. I asked Leena for a recipe a while back but I never got a chance to make it. A few weeks ago, after a year of moving back to Indonesia, I began to miss all sorts of non-Indonesian cuisines. I thought of bamya. Found that recipe in my email and it was dated December 2013. That felt like a lifetime ago. Before Jeff and I bought a house in Michigan, before we had our daughter, before we sold the house, before we moved back to our homeland. Why does time move even faster once we hit 30, 35, or 36?

Anyway, I dedicate this article to my beloved, beautiful, fashion-inspiration source, Syrian friend, whose friendship I treasure, and whose homeland has been on my mind.

Below is her Okra Stew recipe, with a little bit of my touch

1 bag of fresh okra (here in Surabaya, the stores carry them fresh. One bag contains maybe 10-15 okras.) – Chopped into little cuts.
1 lb. (or 1/4 kg works too) beef stew meat
1 small onion – diced
4 cloves garlic – roughly chopped
3 fresh tomatoes – diced
Salt, pepper, basil, and oregano to taste
Jasmine rice
I added: a handful of parsley, a pinch cumin powder, coriander powder, and chili powder.
Prepare beef stew :
  • Heat up a little bit of canola oil, add onions. Cook for two minutes.
  • Add beef and cook to well done. Set aside.
  • In a deep saucepan, heat some oil and saute the garlic until pink.  Add okra.  With a wooden spoon, gently toss on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until “slimy strings” disappear.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the beef and tomatoes to the okra pot. Let simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • I add chopped parsley, oregano, cumin, coriander, and chili powder to taste and let simmer for another 15 minutes more until everything is cooked and melded together. The okra should be so nice and tender once they are done cooking. Serve hot and with rice.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!

 

 

Sweetness: Cheddar Covered Grilled Banana

Dessert, Others

IMG_20160615_204525

Banana: a simple, reliable, and nourishing fruit. Good to eat raw or cooked. What I love about cooked banana is its natural sweetness. Pair it up with a sharp cheddar and you get a great dessert in no time.

This dish is Jeff’s favorite. I had written about it a while back, but this time I grilled it on a stove top instead of inside the oven.

Here’s all you need:

  • 4-6 bananas (find ones that still have greenish color near the stem)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of shredded cheddar
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

Steps:

  • Peel the bananas and slice and cut in half (1 banana into 4 cuts)
  • Heat up a non-stick pan, low to medium heat
  • Add butter and let it sizzle
  • Add bananas and let them cook until the bottom part turn into golden color, flip them over (about 1 — 2 minutes each side)
  • Turn off the stove, move the bananas to a plate, sprinkle the shredded cheddar on top

Enjoy!

IMG_20160615_205041

Sweetness: Mung Beans in Coconut Milk

Appetizer, Breakfast, Dessert, Others

IMG_20160615_205153

It has been, what seems to me, like a million years since I last posted on my beloved blog. Let’s just say that life has been a bit eventful.We had a baby! (who is now almost a toddler), and we bought a house, then we sold the house, and then we moved across the ocean :D. A change can do you good, they say. So we, the three of us, huddle, stick together, and embrace this adventure with open arms.

Our future house is still in the works. So I am sharing a kitchen at my mom’s house. After months of eating out, I started missing cooking. Now, I have been returning to it little by little. It feels good to cook, to create, to produce again. I hope to resume and sustain this good habit here in our new world.

Last night, I cooked up a storm. But of course, I forgot to take pictures of the main dishes. I did remember to take pictures of the desserts. Oh well, let this post and the next be about sweet stuff.

Mung Beans is pretty popular in the South East Asian countries. I love having it cooked in coconut milk mixed with palm sugar. You can have it hot or cold. Either way is delightful. So here is my simple recipe for 4 people:

We need:

  • 2 cups of mung beans
  • 1 cup of palm sugar
  • 1 cup of coconut milk (if using the light coconut milk, you can use the whole can)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 or 2 inches of ginger
  • 6 cups of water

Steps:

  • In a medium size pot, bring water to a rolling boil
  • Add mung beans and ginger. Let it cook for 5 minutes
  • Turn off the stove and cover the pot.
  • Let the mung beans sit for an hour in that covered pot
  • After an hour, see if it needs a bit of water. If so, add enough to immerse the beans
  • Turn on the stove again and add sugar. Stir well
  • While stirring, add the coconut milk. Keep stirring until it starts to come to simmer again
  • Turn off the stove, let it cool down, and enjoy
  • Refrigerate the rest and try it cold for the next dayIMG_20160615_204919

 

 

 

Parsley Yogurt Sauce

Condiment

I have parsley growing beautifuly in the garden. It is doing so well that now I am compiling recipes on what to do with it. Here is one recipe that I liked a lot: Salsa Verde. I added plain yogurt (whole milk) to the recipe since I went anchovies-happy and put too many of them and made it a bit too salty. The yogurt also added a nice creamy texture to this delicious garlicky and parsley parfumed sauce. I served it on steak. But I think it is good on many things like pasta, bread, potatoes, grilled fish.

Thanks for reading!

Parsley Yogurt Sauce

Parsley Yogurt Sauce

Rhubarb Crisp

Dessert

I had never tried rhubarbs before. One of the neighbors found out about this and she gave me some from her garden. She convinced me of their delights when made into a crisp. I found Mark Bittman’s recipe and the rest is history. Convinced and sold! I might go to my neighbor’s house and ask for some more rhubarbs. Oh, and I think I will be making crisps of different fruits all summer long. What a fantastic rustic treat!

Rhubarb Crisp

Rhubarb crisp

Slow Cooked Roast Chicken and Kale

Poultry Recipes, Slow Cooking, Vegetable Recipes
Cooked with onions, coconut milk, and spices

Cooked with onions, coconut milk, and spices

Slow Cooked Roast Chicken and Kale Kale in Chicken Broth

When hunger and inspiration come together, delicious dishes appear. That was the case for me today. I had some chicken thighs, kale, and onions in the fridge, along with coconut milk. Added some spices: ginger powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, salt, pepper, and lemongrass, and put them all in a slow cooker.  Left it on high for about four hours and let the magic happened. The sweet smell of coconut milk mixed onions, lemongrass, and kale made the chicken so aromatic. The meat was so tender and melted in the mouth. And the kale tasted so rich for being cooked with all of the spices and juices from the chicken. I separated the chicken and kale at the end. I also wanted to add some golden color on the chicken so I put it in the oven to broil for five minutes (this last part is completely optional).

Recently, a friend had recommended a slow cooker to me. She said that it has freed her from standing for a long time in front of the stove while cooking, which allowed her to tend to other things. Curiosity and the need to tend to other things (while still wanting to cook too), drove me to Target to get a small slow cooker :D. The results have been promising. So I will keep on trying different things in my slow cooker.

Here’s how I did the two dishes:

Ingredients:

  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 3 small onions (chopped)
  • 1 small cut of lemongrass
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 bunch of kale (only used the leaves, no stem)
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon of  turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon of coriander powder
  • salt
  • pepper

Method:

  • Placed the chicken in the slow cooker pot
  • Poured the coconut milk
  • Added the onion, lemongrass, and spices
  • Mix them by hands
  • Put kale on the top and covered the pot
  • Set the cooker on high and left it for about four hours (I mixed everything again while it was cooking).
  • Once they were all done cooking, I separated the chicken and kale
  • Placed the chicken on an oven-safe plate and let them broil in the oven for five minutes. I wanted that roasting golden color on the chicken (optional)
  • Placed the kale on a deep dishware so I could serve a little bit of the broth with it
  • I used the remaining broth to cook tofu. Just put the broth in a pot on a stove, medium heat, added firm tofu that I diced, let it simmer for a bit and ta…da…another dish!

Wishing all of you a good week!

Eat well and be well

Green Chili with Shallot Sambal

Condiment

Hello again blog! It has been too long. Here is one to add to the list of favorites: Sambal Ijo, green chili sambal, my mom’s recipe. The spicy condiment is a perfect company for poultry, seafood, or meat dishes that are served with rice.

Green Chili Sambal - A spicy condiment

With peppers growing in the garden, I have plenty of supply to make the condiment. Here is how I did it:

Ingredients:

* 5 cayenne (or hot fingers or jalapeno or serrano peppers)

* 2 shallots

* a dash of salt

* 2 tablespoon of canola oil

My method:

* Heat up a frying pan (medium heat)

* Chop peppers and shallots

* Add oil to the pan and cook the peppers and shallots until they wilt, add salt. Set aside to cool down

* Once it is cool, I make it into a rough puree using a food processor.

* Serve with the main dishes

Tempeh with Garlic, Shallots, and Peppers

Vegetable Recipes

tempeh by tcp

tempeh by TCP

As one of my favorite food, tempeh shows up a lot at the dining table for lunch or dinner. Recently, my mom taught me another way to enjoy it. Tossed with garlic, shallots, and chili peppers, and lightly drizzled with sweet soy sauce, I may have found another version to love.

Here’s how I do it and the list of ingredients:

  • 1 organic soy tempeh (8oz) (cut into small square pieces)
  • 3 garlic (thin sliced)
  • 2 shallots (thin sliced)
  • 2 cayenne peppers (warning: spicy! For milder option, try using bigger peppers such as: jalapeno, poblano, banana, bell or sweet peppers)
  • 2 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet soy sauce (found it at Asian grocery store)

Steps:

  • Heat up a medium pan, add vegetable oil
  • Lightly brown the sliced garlic, shallots, and peppers
  • Remove from pan and set aside
  • Using the remaining oil to brown the tempeh
  • Return the garlic, shallots, and peppers and mix them up with the tempeh
  • Add the sweet soy sauce, stir, and serve

Zucchini and Rustic Bread Lasagna

Appetizer, Baking

 

Zucchini and Bread Lasagna

Zucchini and Bread Lasagna

Summer is here! Time for me to make things a lot simpler in the kitchen and be outdoor as much as possible. Found a recipe that represents simplicity and deliciousness: layers of zucchini, tomato sauce, cheese, and rustic bread. I mean, who doesn’t like bread and cheese together? Add some summer produce like tomatoes and zucchini and develop a fantastic lasagna. Here’s my adapted version:

Ingredient list:

  • 3 medium zucchini (place in boiling water until they are tender and then slice thinly lengthwise)
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 4 small tomatoes (sliced)
  • 3 garlic (chopped)
  • A teaspoon of olive oil
  • 2 cups of shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 loaf of rustic bread (sliced)

Steps:

  • In a small saucepan, cook the slices of tomatoes and garlic together until they dissolve into watery sauce. Add a can of tomato sauce (add herbs that you like here: oregano, basil, etc.) and a little bit of salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Start layering the lasagna in a medium deep pan: spread the tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan, cover with slices of bread, more tomato sauce, top with slices of zucchini, more tomato sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Repeat until everything is used up.
  • Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

 

Original recipe: Lydia’s Italy Zucchini and Country Bread Lasagna