Red Hot Cooked Salsa

Appetizer, Condiment, Snack, Vegetable Recipes

red hot salsa by tiny chili pepper

The other day, I had tons of cherry and beef steak tomatoes. Using a technique that a friend taught me, I turned them into a fantastic red-hot cooked salsa. Easy and delicious!

My friend G, whose family came from Oaxaca, Mexico, shared her homemade cooked salsa verde (green salsa) with me a while back. It was so garlicky, spicy, fresh, and good, I could just drink it. I slightly modified her recipe in a blog entry titled: Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with Tomatillo Mango Salsa. Cooking the tomatoes (or tomatillos for the green salsa) definitely made this condiment so great.

Here’s what we’ll need for the red hot salsa:

  • Two cups of cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 2 beef steak tomatoes (cut into four pieces)
  • A handful of cilantro (just use the leaves and chop in a food processor along with the garlic and jalapeno peppers)
  • 2-3 garlic
  • 5 jalapeno peppers
  • Salt
  • Lime juice from 1/2 of lime

Steps:

  • Heat up a cooking pot over medium heat
  • Add the tomatoes into the pot, cover with a lid, and let them cook for 5–10 minutes until they fall apart and become juicy. Turn of the heat.
  • Add the chopped jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, salt, and lime juice into the pot. Stir well to mix with the tomato. Let it cool down for a few minutes before serving.
  • Serve with corn chips

red hot salsa on corn chips by tiny chili pepper

Thanks for reading!

To my friend G and our book club

 

Versatile Vegetable Stew

Seafood Recipes, Vegetable Recipes

(My version of gulai sayur. Origin: Indonesia)

Here is my version of gulai, which refers to the flavorful yellow broth made of turmeric, chili peppers, garlic, shallot, and coconut milk. It makes such a wonderful vegetable stew. In fact, I have written a couple of versions of this recipe before, titled Chayote Squash in Spicy Broth and Spicy Kale. Today, I’d like to adjust it a bit to show how easy and versatile it could be.

Squash and Shiitake Mushroom by Tiny Chili Pepper

When summer comes to an end, it usually yield tons of produce. Like many of you, I love going to farmers market to get those goodies. Maybe like some of you, I tend to get too many things. Just like the other day, I got a variety of peppers and tons of shallots and garlic—the three key ingredients in Indonesian cooking and in this vegetable stew recipe. I also had a couple of Chayote squash and two handful of shiitake mushroom in the fridge.  So, here’s what I did with them:

Prepared the vegetables:

  • Peeled, cored, and sliced the Chayote squash into long and thin cuts. Then I soaked the cuts in a bowl of water mixed with salt for about 30 minutes to get rid of the sap. Could be substituted with summer squash/zucchini/ bell pepper (see more vegetable options on the bottom of the page)
  • Remove the shiitake stems and roughly chopped the mushroom

Prepared the gulai broth:

List of ingredients:

  • 4 shallots
  • 4 garlic
  • 3 hot peppers (red/orange color)
  • 3 sweet peppers (red/orange color)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2-3 cups of water
  • 1/2 can of light coconut milk
  • 1/2 inch of sliced galangal root (or 1 lemongrass) to add lemony aroma to the stew. Could be substituted with lemon zest (from one lemon).

Steps:

  • Chopped shallots, garlic, hot peppers, and sweet peppers in a food processor (or blender)
  • Added turmeric powder and a little bit of salt to the mixture
  • Sweat it in a heated pot with a tablespoon of vegetable oil, to release the moisture
  • Added water and galangal root, let it simmer
  • Added coconut milk, stirred
  • Once the broth simmered for the second time, I added the squash and mushroom
  • Let them stew for about five minutes or until the broth simmered for the third time
  • Removed galangal root before serving

At dinner time, my guy had a good point. He said that the stew’s contents could vary. We could have different types of vegetables with (or without) mushroom or even with tofu/tempeh/some seafood in it. Aha! That comment gave me an idea. I listed several produce that would taste great in this vegetable stew recipe:

Choose one vegetable or do a pairing of a vegetable with either mushroom/one of the seafood selections/tofu/tempeh from the following list: (I’d combine up to two things to avoid stew overcrowd)

Vegetable:

  • Summer squash
  • Zucchini
  • Chayote
  • Eggplant
  • Bell peppers
  • String beans

For these greens, I prefer to have it just by itself in the stew, not in a combination.

  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Collard Green

Mushroom:

  • (I like using) Shiitake mushroom

Seafood:

  • Smoked salmon (I’d cut it into small square and add into the stew closer to the end of cooking, since it is already cooked)
  • Shrimp (cook together with the vegetable of choice in the simmering broth until shrimp is fully cooked, about 5 minutes)

Soy-based protein goodies:

  • Tofu (extra firm and cut into small square. Cook together with the vegetable of choice in the simmering broth for about 5 minutes)
  • Tempeh (cut into small square and cook together with the vegetable of choice in the simmering broth for about 5-10 minutes)

What do you think? Anything else we could try? I’ll add to the list if I could think of more.

Thanks for stopping by!

Parsley and Feta on Pita Bread

Baking, Sandwiches, Snack, Vegetable Recipes

Feta and Parsley on Pita Bread by Tiny Chili Pepper

I love the scent of parsley, especially right after picking. One of the things I like to do with the herb is to mix it with feta cheese, fold it in filo dough sheets, and bake them—just like in the Turkish baked borek. This time, I wanted to try something different with the mixture. So, I spread it on a few pita bread, topped the bread with cherry tomatoes, and baked them. Oh, what a fantastic aroma they created as they cooked in the oven! They tasted delicious too. The fresh herb and tomato definitely added more complexity to the salty white cheese melted on the warm bread.

Feta Parsley by Tiny Chili Pepper

Here’s how I did mine:

(serve 2)

I used:

  • A handful of parsley (just the leaves)
  • About 4 oz. of feta cheese (I bought one of those 8 oz. plain regular chunk)
  • Olive oil
  • 3 pita bread
  • Cherry tomatoes

Then I heated the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, mixed/chopped the parsley and feta in a food processor, brushed the pita bread with olive oil, spread the cheese mixture on it, topped with cherry tomatoes, and baked for 6-7 minutes.

Thank you for visiting!

Parsley Feta Pita by Tiny Chili Pepper

Summer Party on a Plate: Grilled Sea Scallops, Guacamole, Mango Salsa, and Beets Orange Salad

Salad, Seafood Recipes, Vegetable Recipes

There are days when I get highly motivated. When they come, something like this materializes:

Party on a plate by Tiny Chili Pepper

Moved by a warm summer day with the perfect breeze, I went a little overboard with Wednesday’s dinner menu.  I wanted something light and colorful.  Grilled scallops, mango salsa, and guacamole immediately came to mind. But as I walked around the farmers market, I also got some beets (and a lot of other things!). I had never cooked beets before but I was curious about it.

IMG_5134

When I got home, I realized that I forgot to get cilantro for my mango salsa and guacamole. So, I substituted with green onions, which worked out quite well for both dishes—though I still prefer using cilantro. For this version of my mango salsa, I chopped 10 cherry tomatoes, two garlic, four cayenne peppers, and three green onions in a food processor. I added a little bit of lime juice and salt to the salsa before I mixed it with the mango slices. I also cut more cherry tomatoes, each into four pieces, and added them to the mango salsa.

IMG_5126

For the guacamole, I followed the recipe I wrote last year. The combination of creamy avocado with cumin, lime juice, salt, garlic, and onion made such a wonderful treat (cilantro would add a fantastic taste and aroma to it too). And it wasn’t hard to make at all! I like to have guacamole and mango salsa as side dishes for grilled fish as well.

Guacamole by Tiny Chili Pepper

For the sea scallops, I marinated them with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice from one lemon, salt, and pepper. After 15 minutes, I threaded the scallops onto the skewers (which I have soaked in water for about 15 minutes prior to using). It’s much easier to grill scallops this way. Then, I grilled them for about three minutes on each side.

Grilled Sea Scallops by Tiny Chili Pepper

I saw a recipe called Perfect Roasted Beets with Orange Slices in a magazine and was intrigued by it. I basically followed the recipe but did not have sherry vinegar so I went without. The result? The orange slices and juice gave sweet taste to the dish. But the beets’ earthy flavor was definitely something for me to get used to. Let’s see, maybe I could find a different beet recipe to try. Do you have one to recommend?

IMG_5118

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

A Favorite Summer Salad

Salad, Vegetable Recipes

Hi all! I hope you are having a wonderful summer wherever you are. Doesn’t it seem like the season is evaporating so quickly?

This summer, I found a favorite salad combination: arugula, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, walnut, peaches/apples/nectarines (pick one or use all of them), with fresh squeezed orange and lemon juice- based dressing mixed with olive oil, honey, dijon mustard, green onions, and cayenne peppers.

Summer Salad by Tiny Chili Pepper

Arugula has this wonderful peppery taste that I like so much. The selection of bountiful summer fruits add natural sweetness to the bite. Salty feta cheese, crunchy walnut, chopped green onions, and cayenne peppers liven things up with their distinct flavors. Oh, and the dressing! It enhances the peppery, tangy, sweet, and refreshing taste of this salad. Such a great companion for grilled fish/shrimp/sea scallops, turkey sandwiches, or even steak.

Summer Salad with Grilled Turkey Sandwich by Tiny Chili Pepper

Here’s the list for the salad (serve 2):

  • 3-4 cups of arugula (you could also add radicchio or other greens that you prefer)
  • ½ cup of crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ cup of walnut (chopped or not, you decide 🙂 )
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
  • 1-2 peaches/apples/nectarines (sliced)

For the dressing, mix the following in a bowl:

  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • ½ tablespoon of dijon mustard
  • 2 green onions (chopped)
  • 2 cayenne peppers (chopped)
  • Salt and pepper

Optional: you could also add a little bit of dill to the dressing

Combine the arugula, walnut, cheese, and fruits in a big bowl and mix with the dressing. Serve immediately. My mouth is watering as I type up this recipe 😀

What’s your favorite summer salad? Do share.

Thanks for reading!

Recipe inspiration came from: Arugula, Watermelon, Feta Salad by Ina Garten

Heavenly Buttery Soft Broccoli

Vegetable Recipes

A new favorite Brocolli cooked with anchovies by Harini

Salty and aromatic, garlicky, and buttery soft broccoli! The dish has earned a spot on my favorite list. Thanks, Food52. The trick? Immerse the vegetable in boiling water (also known as blanching) for five minutes and then cook it with olive oil, garlic, chili peppers, and anchovies. Yes, anchovies! The result? Incredibly tender, savory, but yet sweet broccoli that would melt in your mouth.

I do mine slightly different from Food52‘s recipe. Here’s my adapted version:

(Serve 2)

  • 1 bunch of broccoli (a bunch that would be enough for two people). I remove the florets by hands and make sure that they’re not too chunky.
  • 8 anchovies (chopped). I use marinated ones. The original recipe asks for 4 anchovies but I think 8 make my dish much more flavorful. I believe anchovy is the key ingredient here 😀
  • 3 garlic (chopped)
  • 3—4 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4 hot finger peppers or 2 Thai peppers (chopped)
  • Black pepper

Steps:

  • Fill 1/3 of a medium pot with water and bring to boil over medium heat
  • Add broccoli florets into the water, cover the pot, and let simmer for five minutes
  • Meanwhile, heat a medium pan (over medium heat) and add olive oil, garlic, anchovies, and chili peppers. Stir frequently and let them cook for one minute or until the anchovies start to melt in the oil. Reduce the heat.
  • Once the five minutes of hot bath is done, drain the broccoli, and add into the pan
  • Stir and mix the broccoli with the olive oil-anchovies concoction. Add black pepper. Cover the pan, lower the heat, cook for another three minutes (until the broccoli become soft), and then turn off the heat. Let the broccoli stay in the covered pan to soak the olive oil, anchovies, garlic, and peppers for at least half hour before serving. (The original recipe calls for 2 hours of cooking over low heat, but I find that my broccoli gets soft enough after the blanching, then the three-minute cooking with anchovies, and the half hour of resting in the covered pan. I think the heat gets trapped and continues to cook the vegetable for a while.)

Great to serve by itself, over rice, on top of egg noodle or pasta, or as a side dish to Yakiniku-style Beef and Sauteed Onion.

Inspired by a similar recipe using the same method of cooking, I tried my recipe above with carrots! I found that shredded or thin-sliced carrots work better for this method. I skip the blanching part and just cook the carrots directly in the anchovies-garlic-chili pepper infused olive oil. Stir and mix them well, cover the pan, lower the heat a bit, and let it cook for about 10-15 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the carrots rest in the covered pan for half hour before serving. The mixture of anchovies, garlic, and chili peppers magically brings out the natural sweetness of the carrot. So good!

Carrot cooked in anchovies-garlic-chili peppers infused olive oil by Harini

Hope you like it. Thanks for visiting!

Peace

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes, and Sweet Onion

Vegetable Recipes

Once upon a time, there was a girl who didn’t like any vegetables. Not peas, not broccoli, not spinach, not eggplant. Brussels sprouts? Forget it. I heard that trying to convince her to try vegetables was nearly impossible. So I never tried. Until one day, her friends ordered a plate of delicious roasted Brussels sprouts. Yummy, crunchy, and crispy. She tasted one and became a believer. A believer in the fact that vegetables can be (even more) tasty and enjoyable when seasoned and prepared in certain ways. The girl is a dear friend of mine. She gave me her permission to use this story as long as she remained nameless :D. So I dedicate this entry to her: my good friend who is, slowly but surely, starting to enjoy delicious vegetables.

Roasted Veggie Combo by Harini

I think of food preference as something personal, cultural, and habit driven. Sometimes, I feel like it is also colored by each individual’s beliefs, experiences, memories, and perception. A fascinating thing to observe. So I digress. Anyway, in the spirit of enjoying tasty and delightful veggies, I offer you my latest favorite side dish, late night snack, and (sometimes) breakfast. I like them THAT much!

Roasted Veggie Combo by Harini

My current favorite roasted-veggie combo contains of Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, and sweet onion. The sweet potato and onion absorb the spicy chili powder, salt, and black pepper really well. The vegetables’ natural sweetness and peppery seasonings complement the nutty flavor of Brussels sprouts nicely. Here’s how I do it. We will need:

Brussels sprouts

  • 10 Brussels sprouts (Remove Brussels sprouts’ end of the stem and outer leaves. Halve the vegetable.)
  • 1 sweet potato (Cut into thin wedges)
  • ½ sweet onion (Slice into thin wedges)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Chili powder

Steps:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and chili powder. Coat each one of them.
  • Place all vegetables on a large oven tray. Give space between vegetables, avoid crowding them up.
  • Let them roast for 15 minutes, flip, and cook again for another 5 or 7 minutes.
  • Serve 2

Note: Sometimes, when I do Brussels sprouts only, I just broil them for about 5–8  minutes. Heat the broiler for a minute before starting. I give more than 8 inches of distance between the broiler and the tray, or use the middle or lower rack, and leave the oven door ajar, just a little bit, to avoid charring.

Broiled Brussels Sprouts by Harini

Hope you like it. Thanks for visiting!

Great tips on roasting veggies from Food52

How to Roast Any Vegetables

More Brussels sprouts recipes:

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Potato with Shiitake Mushroom, Sweet Corn, and Brussels sprouts

Stir Fry: Green Beans and Tempeh

Vegetable Recipes

I enjoy a tasty and crunchy vegetable dish. When I want an easy one, I often turn to stir-frying (similar to sautéing) things like green beans, bitter melon, asparagus, broccoli, Chinese broccoli, Napa cabbage, carrots, and many more. Cook with a little bit of oil, shallots, garlic, hot peppers, and light soy sauce and watch how the vegetables turn into wonderful delights. When I want something more substantial out of these veggies, I combine them with either Shiitake mushroom or tempeh. Superb!

Green Beans and Tempeh by Harini

Green beans and I go back a long way. Years ago in early college days, days of my first attempts to cook, a friend noted that I cooked green beans a lot. He’d joke and say that it seemed like it was the only thing I was able to do :D. He wasn’t wrong. It was! 😀

Tempeh with Green Beans by Harini

Anyway, in this recipe I choose to mix crunchy green beans with tempeh. Tempeh, a soybeans-based patty, is so versatile and a source of protein. Indonesians use it as their meat substitute. Here in the US, tempeh can be easily found in the organic section.

Ingredient list:

  • 1 organic soy tempeh (8 oz) (cut into four pieces and slice into thin cuts)
  • A handful of green beans (about 2 cups)
  • 2 shallots (chopped)
  • 2 garlic (chopped)
  • 2 Thai peppers, also called as Bird’s Eye peppers (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoon of light soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoon of vegetable/canola oil
  • ¼ cup of water

Steps:

  • Heat up a medium pan over medium heat
  • Add 2 tablespoon of vegetable/canola oil
  • Brown both sides of tempeh (turn only once)
  • Remove from the pan and set aside
  • On the same pan, use remaining oil if available, if not, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable/canola oil
  • Add shallots and garlic and let them cook for 2-3 minutes
  • Add the light soy sauce, Thai peppers, and green beans
  • Stir and mix them together
  • I usually add a little bit of water to help the vegetable cook better (about 1/4 cup)
  • Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for about 5 minutes or until the liquid starts to boil. Taste and adjust.
  • Remove pan from the heat and add the cooked tempeh. Mix everything together and serve with jasmine rice.

Hope you like it!

More favorite tempeh recipe:

Tempeh with Chilies and Vegetables

Chili-Topped Tempeh

***

A little reflection:

I think of cooking, like writing, as one of my creativity outlets. One that allows flow to happen and take over me for a little bit. Maybe my friend and fashion blogger (and a fellow cooking enthusiast), Leena, would agree that there are some similarities in the process of putting together a beautiful outfit and making a delicious dish. I imagine they both require imaginative minds; attention to texture, colors, feel, and in cooking: taste; and appreciation for beauty. Best of all, they both create enjoyable results!

Cooking might not create flow for everyone as it does for me. Besides, different folks different strokes, right?

So, what about you, dear readers?

What fully absorbs and captures your creative energy?

Egg Noodles and Sea Scallops in Eggplant, Pepper, and Tomato Sauce

Noodles, Pasta, Seafood Recipes, Vegetable Recipes

Egg Noodle with Scallops in Eggplant/Tomato Sauce by Harini

My kind of pasta dish: spicy and loaded with seafood and vegetables.

Egg Noodles with Sea Scallops in Eggplant/Tomato Sauce by Harini

Last summer, I wrote about an eggplant/peppers/tomato dish that I learned from a good friend of mine. I really liked the dish and this time I decided to mix it up with some egg noodles and sea scallops. Definitely another favorite pasta dish: light, infused with great fresh produce flavors, and boy…would you just look at the colors! Such a treat for the palate AND the eyes.

Here’s how I do the eggplant/peppers/tomato sauce:

  • Get 2-3 smaller and skinnier eggplants (or 1 big eggplant)
  • Halve the eggplants and cut into 4 long pieces
  • Chop them up into shorter cuts
  • Dice 4 medium size tomatoes
  • Mince 4-5 garlic
  • Chop 1 red bell pepper
  • Chop 5-7 hot finger peppers (Serrano or jalapeno would work too. Warning: spicy! Please adjust to your spicy-tolerance level)
  • Heat up a medium pot with a tablespoon of olive oil
  • Let the garlic sizzled for 2 minutes, add all of the above, sprinkle a little salt and pepper into the pot
  • Close with a lid and cook until the eggplants turned soft and translucent (15-20 minutes over medium heat)

Prepare the egg noodles:

  • Bring water to a boil in a medium pot, add a little bit of olive oil and salt, and cook 2-3 cups of egg noodles for about 6-8 minutes (or as directed on the bag)
  • Drain and set aside

Prepare the sea scallops:

  • Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice from 1-2 lemons on the (thawed) 8-10 scallops
  • Sprinkle a little bit of salt and black pepper
  • Let them sit for about 10-15 minutes to marinate
  • Heat up a non-stick pan (medium heat) and sear the scallops for 2-3 minutes on each side (until both sides get that beautiful golden crust).
  • Set aside

Mix the egg noodles with the eggplant/pepper/tomato sauce, top it with some scallops, and eat up! :).

(Serve 2)

We’re inching closer to spring time in this part of the world. Still cold. But at least the sun is out today! Wishing you all for some good weather wherever you are.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Sweet Corn, Green Beans, and Cabbage in Tamarind Soup

Vegetable Recipes

(My version of sayur asem)

Sweet Corn, Green Beans, and Cabbage in Tamarind Soup

Sweet Corn, Green Beans, and Cabbage in Tamarind Soup

Here’s another favorite, Indonesia-origin, vegetable dish in our home. Though its main ingredient is tamarind, a sour fruit typically used in many Southeast Asian cuisines, this soup has a lot more to offer than just a tangy flavor. It has a good balance of sweet, sour, and spicy. The vegetable selections of corn, green beans, and cabbage give crunchy texture to the dish, while a little bit of hot peppers adds a nice punch.

Here’s my take on this East Java version of sayur asem or the vegetables sour soup:

List of things we need:

  • 1 small bag of frozen sweet corn
  • 1 cup of green beans cut into shorter lengths (traditionally Indonesians use Yardlong Beans instead of green beans).
  • 1 small cabbage (remove wilted outer leaves, halve, remove the stem, and slice). If you can’t find a smaller cabbage, use ½ of the regular size.
  • 1 inch cube cut of seedless wet tamarind/ tamarind block
  • 4 shallots
  • 3 garlic
  • 4 Candlenuts
  • A pinch of shrimp paste
  • 2-3 Thai peppers
  • Salt
  • ½ inch cut of Galangal root for the aroma

Cooking steps:

  • Fill 1/3 of a large pot with water over medium heat
  • Chop and mix shallots, garlic, Candlenuts, shrimp paste, Thai peppers in a food processor
  • Add the mixture into the pot along with tamarind, Galangal root and a little bit of salt. Bring to boil, reduce the heat a little bit, and let the broth cooks for another 20-30 minutes or until the tamarind dissolves.
  • Remove galangal root and tamarind pulp, before adding the vegetables into the broth, using a food colander or strainer and a big bowl. (Strain the broth using a colander or a food strainer into the big bowl and then return the broth back to the pot.)
  • Add the vegetables into the pot and bring to boil.
  • Turn of the heat and cover the pot with a lid. I let the vegetable soup rest for half hour to an hour before serving. That way the vegetables have some time to absorb all of the wonderful flavors. It taste even better the next day too!

Serve 4-6.