Tag Archives: Vegetable

{ Curry Roasted Calabaza with Apples & Honey }

If you think that grocery shopping in the Unites States is annoying and tedious, then you would not believe what it takes in Argentina. It is an all day, sometimes doble day process, that requires one to visit multiple verdulerias (veggie markets), canicerias (meat markets), fruterias (fruit markets), and superchinos (the adopted name for small Korean-owned markets, which clutter the city). There is no such thing as one-stop shopping in Buenos Aires, and finding even the most basic ingredients (i.e. black beans, peanut butter, jalapeños, ect…) can often be as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack. As a result, my culinary skills were contsantly put to the challenge as I was continuously forced to rethink many of my weeknight dinners and side dishes. Given that there is absolutely NO shortage of calabaza  in the city of Buenos Aires (calabaza = Spanish pumpkin), I decided to start incorporating it into my meals to simplify my shopping experience. It very quickly became a grocery staple, right up there along with bread, butter, and eggs.

One of my favorite ways to prepare calabaza is to simply roast it with a seasoning of olive oil, salt, pepper but then one night I decided to add a sprinkling of Indian curry into the mix and it turned out amazing. The next time I prepared the dish, it evolved even further when I added chopped granny smith apples to the roasting pan halfway through baking. The apple cubes compliment the spice of the curry and add the skins provide a little texture to contrast the smooth butteriness of the pumpkin. Drizzle a little honey on top after everything has roasted and viola….deliciousness!

This has undoubtably become one of my favorite side dishes (served either hot or cold), and I even like to eat it as a main dish over white rice.

{ Ingredients }

  • 3 cups calabaza, chopped into 1″ cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons curry, depending on your taste
  • 1 cup green apple, chopped into 1/2″ cubes
  • Honey, optional for finishing

 { To Prepare } Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare you calabaza, cutting it into 1″ cubes. You can either clean down your own calabaza, or use pre-packaged ones cleaned by the store (as I have shown below).

Place into a large mixing bowl and add olive oil, curry, salt, and pepper, tossing with your hands to coat. Arrange the calabaza on a baking sheet in a single layer and put in oven. NOTE: Make sure to turn over calabaza with a spatula every 3-4 minutes, to ensure even cooking!

While the calabza is cooking, prepare your 1/2″ apple cubes. Add the apples to the baking sheet 10 minutes into the baking process, and return to oven.

Continue to bake for additional 5-10 minutes until the pumpkin is tender and the apple is golden.

Remove from oven, drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons of honey, adjust seasonings, and serve!

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{ Parmesan Roasted Asparagus }

What is a meal without the supporting cast?! Every good entree deserves a delicious side dish, and these parmesan roasted asparagus are one of my all-time favorites! They compliment any protein and taste delicious over rice and risotto. Recently, I have been cooking them in the oven using the broiler setting, but when the weather is nice I prefer to cook them out on the grill. Either way, they taste great!

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese

{ To Make the Asparagus } Turn the broiler setting of your oven on high.

Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil and toss to coat. Place the asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet and put in oven. Cook for 8 minutes, turning the asparagus halfway through cooking process. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately!

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{ Chicken and Lime Tortilla Soup }

As I walked downstairs to get breakfast this morning, my olfactory was assaulted by the pungent aroma of vinegar. I can’t say that I altogether hated it, because I love vinegar…but why did my home suddenly smell like a bag of Herr’s salt & vinegar chips? I headed towards the kitchen and as I rounded the corner, I was greeted by both of my parents who were standing at the center island, casually canning tomatoes and pickling cucumbers… at 8 am in the morning! And let me tell you, this was no little home-ec “project”—this was a miniature factory. There were at least 75 ripened tomatoes on the windowsill, along with dozens of cucumbers and jalapenos peppers, not to mention the several cases of Mason jars that were being sterilized in cauldron-like pots on the stove. I felt like I had stepped into one of Professor Snape’s potion classes from Harry Potter.

By 10 O’Clock they had canned about 15 jars of tomatoes, pickled 9 jars of cucumbers, and made 10 or so jars of fresh salsa. Needless to say, if you’re coming to our house this month, you’re leaving with a Mason jar in hand…but don’t even think about keeping it and using it as a vase if you want salsa next summer! Anyways, when all was said and done, there were still a decent number of tomatoes and hot peppers left and I decided to look for a recipe that would put them to good use. I took out the Soup for Supper cookbook by William Sonoma and resolved to make this spicy chicken and lime tortilla soup, which turned out fabulous!

I like this recipe because the tortilla strips are used as a garnish rather than an ingredient cooked in with the broth, which keeps the soup a lot lighter and healthier. I absolutely hate when I get tortilla soup at a restaurant, and the consistency is so thickened that it resembles porridge more than broth. I also like that the chicken is cooked in advance and separate from the stock because it keeps the broth clear without all of the necessary straining (for those of you who make homemade chicken noodle soup and stock, you know what I am talking about!). Overall, there are very few ingredients required to make this soup and it doesn’t take a whole lot of time to cook—so it’s cheap and fast!

It provides the comfort of traditional chicken noodle soup, but the jalapeno pepper adds a nice unique twist. If you don’t feel like making the homemade tortilla strips (which are a little messy with the frying oil), then serve this soup over rice…or do both, as I did! When serving, I like to garnish my soup with the tortilla crisps, cubed avocado, and chopped cilantro.

Ingredients }

  • 9 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 lb boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large spanish onion., chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 2-3 jalapenos, sliced (remove and discard the seeds to make soup less spicy)
  • 1 1/2 cups seeded and diced tomatoes (I use fresh, you can use canned)
  • 6 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 6 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (do according to taste though, because amount varies if you use low-sodium chicken broth)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 12 very thin slices of lime, cut into quarters
**If you are making the tortilla crisps then you will also need vegetable oil for frying and 3 corn tortillas cut into 2″ strips!

 

Directions for Soup } In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 2 cups of chicken broth and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a low simmer. Add the chicken breast and allow to cook through (about 8 minutes), doing so in batches if needed. Note: I like to add a little salt and pepper to my chicken for additional flavor (see photo), but the recipe does not call for this and you don’t have to.

Once the chicken has cooked through, transfer to a cutting board and once cool enough to handle, cut the chicken breasts into bite sized pieces (I cube my chicken, but you can also shred it!). Set aside and discard the stock.

In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, warm 3 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chopped onion and sauté until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and jalapeno pepper and cook for another 1-2 minutes to soften. Add the chicken stock, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Once the stock boils, reduce the heat and add the chicken, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Simmer until the chicken is heated through, about 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste and serve in warmed bowls with garnishes.

To Make the Tortilla Strips } Cut the flour tortillas into 2″ strips, using a pizza cutter. Heat vegetable oil (2″ deep) in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, until it reaches about 375 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, then test the oil by throwing bread crumbs into the oil….if it doesn’t begin to fry immediately, then the oil isn’t yet hot enough!Once the oil is hot and ready, add the tortilla strips, working in small batches. Fry them for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and allow them to dry on paper towels to absorb the oil!

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Flip the tortilla strips with slotted spoon, if they begin to cook too much on one side

Let the paper towel absorb the grease, and sprinkle with Kosher salt

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{ Spinach Salad with Citrus Dressing and Parmesan Frico }

Spinach Salad with Citrus Dressing, Almonds, Orange Segments, and Parmesan Frico

This week has been mildly depressing for me. Not only did I graduate from the best four years of my life (aka college—my four year paid vacation), but I also turned 22 years old. Twenty-two is a miserable birthday because it is the first birthday that doesn’t come with any special privileges. On your 16th birthday you look forward to driving, on your 18th you look forward to moving out of the house and going off to college, and on your 21st birthday you look forward to drinking…legally (for a female in Miami, this means you can now get into a club without dressing like a prostitute!). But here I am, turning 22 and I find myself regressing in life; I am leaving college, moving back home, and wearing all the alcohol that I legally consumed over the past year on my hips and thighs. The only thing that I have to look forward to this year is beginning the use of anti-aging products. For some reason this just doesn’t feel like something that I want to celebrate…weird.

So instead of going out and making a big fuss at a restaurant, I decided to celebrate with a homemade BBQ here at home with my family. And oddly, it turned out to be my favorite birthday yet. There was no hype, no pressure, and no disappointment. Just good times with the people that I love the most, doing exactly what I love the most—EATNG!

Of course, I had to have my hand in the cooking and tried out a few new recipes that are certainly blog worthy. The first recipe being one of Giadas’ for Spinach Salad with Citrus Dressing and Parmesan Frico. The dressing is very light and the citrus from the orange and lemon is refreshing. It makes for a perfect summer side or appetizer salad (I would add a protein like chicken if you were to serve it as an entrée salad).

The Parmesan frico is something that I have never made before, but it was super easy and added a great salty crunch to the salad. I prefer I over croutons any day, and it looked pretty impressive aesthetically on top of the salad. Giada suggests using almond slivers in the salad, but I like the more pungent flavor of walnuts and would substitute them next time I make this recipe.

Parmesan Frico Before Baking

To make the Parmesan Frico, grate about 1 ½ cups of good Parmesan cheese on a fine grater. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place teaspoon sized mounds of the cheese onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about 3 inches apart from one another. Use the back of the spoon to then gently flatten the mounds into disks that are about 2-3 inches in diameter. Grate freshly ground black pepper over the tops of the cheese disks. Bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown on the edges. Remove from oven, let cool completely, and then peel the crisps off the parchment paper and place on top of salad.

{ Ingredients for the Citrus Vinaigrette }

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 ½ teaspoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

{ DirectionsWhisk together all ingredients in a small bowl or shake to combine in an airtight container.

Citrus Dressing

{ Ingredients for the Spinach Salad }

  • 1 package of baby spinach leaves
  • 2 oranges, peeled and cut into segments
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds (or walnut pieces if you prefer)
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced

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Gigi ****

Steak Chow Fun with Mushrooms and Eggplant Served Over Thick Egg Noodles

305.573.1520
3470 North Miami Ave
Miami, Fl 33127

CHECK OUT THE MENU!

When I go to a restaurant for the first time, I usually disclose the fact that I have a food blog and then ask the waiter what the top three menu items are, based on both their personal opinion and customer popularity. I do this for a few reasons; (1) I am hoping that they will try to “buy” a good review from me in exchange for some samples of free food and preferential service (but don’t worry, I am completely honest in my reviews and won’t be bought by a free appetizer!), (2) I really do like to try the signature dishes that a place is best known for, and (3) it narrows down the menu substantially and takes the guess work out of ordering!

When I arrived at Gigi in Midtown for the first time, I went through my usual routine and was happy and surprised to find that the waiter was equally as obsessed with food as I was (keep in mind that this is very unusual). I asked for some suggestions and he lit up, listing off his personal favorites and customer’s top picks. The limited menu is divided into sections labeled: basics, buns, raw, noodles, snacks, and rice bowls (the place is clearly Pan-Asian and Pacific Rim cuisine!).

To start, he recommended the Tuna Roll from the raw menu, which was similar to sushi (minus the rice) with Tuna, Avocado, Cucumber, and Citrus. The ingredients seem so simple, but the flavors are very full and clean. The citrus compliments the tuna, and the thin cucumber casing adds a nice crunch to the soft texture of the tuna and avocado.

Raw Tuna Roll with Avocado, Cucumber, and Citrus

Next we got an order of the Grilled Butternut Squash off the snack menu, served with yogurt sauce, spicy vinegar, and scallions. The squash was cooked to perfect with a nice black char from the grill on the edges, yet it was still super sweet. The yogurt sauce was nice and light, so it complimented the dish without over powering it. After polishing off our first round of squash, we went ahead and ordered a second….yes, it is that good!

Grilled Butternut Squash served with yogurt sauce, spicy vinegar, and scallions

We also placed an order for the Grilled Sweet Potato, served with Shiso hollandaise sauce, citrus, and scallions. This dish—also off the snack menu—looked very similar to the butternut squash, but it wasn’t nearly as good! Everyone’s forks attacked the butternut squash until it was gone, and then we slowly picked at the sweet potato….until the second order of squash arrived, of course! There was nothing wrong with the potatoes; they just looked too similar to the better tasting squash dish.

Grilled Sweet Potato, served with Shiso hollandaise sauce, citrus, and scallions

Next the waiter surprised us and brought out an order of Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower for the table to sample. The vegetables were roasted and then tossed with fresh bacon and soy. The reason that I didn’t order them myself, is because I knew that I would compare them to the brussel sprouts served at Sugarcane, which are out of this freaking world! After trying Sugarcane’s version of brussel sprouts, I can no longer enjoy them prepared any other way, and even though the waiter tried to convert me to Gigis, they still didn’t hold a candle to Sugarcanes. They were tasty, but Sugarcane’s are simply incredible. Success on getting some free food though, right?!?

Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower with Bacon and Soy

For my main dish, I ordered the Steak Chow Fun, which is sliced steak, mushroom, and eggplant, served over thick egg noodles (photographed at top of blog). I was a little surprised by the density and size of the noodles, which were like Italian paparedelle noodles. Most Asian noodles are very thin and delicate, and so this was unusual for me, but the dish was absolutely incredible! The meat was cooked just to my liking; it was very juicy and tender. The sauce that everything was tossed in had a great garlic-soy flavor, and it had the rich consistency of an eel sauce so it adhered nicely to the pasta. The mushrooms were little bites of heaven, it was like finding gold whenever I came across one with my chopsticks!

And finally, just when I thought the meal was over, the waiter brought out a miniature soft ice cream cone for everyone at the table (more free food, yay!) And of course, once the sweetness hit my lips, I wanted more. So, I walked myself over to the bar area and ordered up some cookies: Peanut Butter Chunk and Classic Chocolate Chip. These cookies are enormous and only $2!!!! It’s one of the best food deals that I have seen yet, especially since the cookies are amazingly delicious! I rarely want more than a couple bites of a cookie and I had no problem devouring the entire peanut butter monstrosity. I think my friend’s face captures just how delicious they were!

Miniature Soft-Serve Ice Cream Cones

Peanut Butter Cookie

The Amazingness of the Gigi Chocolate Chip Cookie

Overall, Gigi is an amazing place to grab a bite at any time, and especially late night. They are revolutionizing and redefining drunk-eating by staying open till 5 am on Friday and Saturday nights, and 3 am on week nights. I love everything about this place, and make sure you save room for one of the cookies!!

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{ Thai Lemongrass Vegetable Soup }

Thai Vegetable Lemongrass Soup

One of the most challenging aspects about cooking as a college student is that you’re typically only cooking for yourself and so there tends to be a lot of waste. You make a tray of lasagna on Monday and you have to eat it for every lunch and dinner all week to get rid of it. But since no one enjoys eating the same thing at every meal (unless you are a freakish creature of habit), it usually ends up getting left in the fridge until a roommate complains about the smell and makes you throw it away. I’ve found that the best solution to this wasteful dilemma is to cook soup! You can make a large pot of it and store a desired amount in the fridge for the week, and then freeze the rest in individual serving-sized plastic ware. This week I was craving something hearty and healthy, and I decided to experiment with Thai flavors. I always order Tom Kha Gai soup to start at Thai restruarants, which is a lemongrass chicken soup (sometimes made with coconut milk), and I wanted to create my own version at home. I don’t really know how to cook Thai, but since I love to eat it so much, I am familiar with the flavors and how to combine them. What I didn’t take into account was how hard the ingredients are to find, how expensive they become, and how difficult and unusual they are to work with!

I went to Whole Foods, and $80 later, I had a had 4 large bags filled with enough groceries to open a small Thai restaurant myself. Since I couldn’t find a recipe that I liked online, I decided to combine aspects of 4-5 different ones I saw, and create my own. I felt like a little kid, just throwing things into the pot as I went, but it turned out awesome! I used a lot of really great vegetables, and the broth has an awesome spicy lemongrass flavor.

To serve the soup, I took inspiration from Vietnamese Pho and garnished the bowl with bean sprouts, cilantro leaves, jalapenos, lime wedges, and Siracha hot sauce. I ate the vegetables with my chopsticks in my right hand and held a spoon for the broth in my left! None of this soup made it to the freezer, because I looked forward to eating it for every meal of the week (I also shed some pounds, because it is super lo-cal!). Hopefully, you will enjoy the recipe!

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2-3 stalks fresh lemongrass, peeled and chopped into 2 inch lengths
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 4 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated or minced
  • 5 teaspoons Thai red curry paste (less if you don’t want it to be as spicy)
  • 2 cups shitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 cups Napa cabbage, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1-2 jalapenos, thinly sliced (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Garnishes: bean sprouts, green onion, sliced jalapeno, cilantro, and Siracha

{ To Make Soup }

 In a large stock pot, combine the vegetable stock, chicken stock, and lemongrass pieces. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes.

In a small pan over medium-high heat, warm the vegetable oil and then sauté the garlic and ginger for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant but not burnt! Add the Thai red curry paste and combine mixture over heat for 2 minutes.

Add the garlic, ginger, curry paste to the broth in the stockpot and stir well. Add the broccoli, red peppers, jalapenos, and zucchini. Allow to boil for 5 minutes and then reduce heat to low. Add the cabbage, green onion, and shitake mushrooms and allow to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove pot from heat and stir in soy sauce, lime juice, and cilantro. Season to taste with these ingredients and serve in individual bowls with garnishes.

Lemongrass Vegetable Soup with Plate of Garnishes

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