Mexican Spicy Carrot Pickles

Mexican Spicy Carrot Pickles
(Zanahorias en escabeche)

I love the spicy carrots on the salsa bar when we go for tacos. So much so, a couple years back I asked The Google for some recipes. I found one that was okay at the time, but haven’t made it since.
We’re having a Fiesta Friday potluck at the office this week. (Because although we appreciate the alliteration of a Taco Tuesday, none of us has the time for an office party on a Tuesday.) I made carnitas and wanted some cebollas en escabeche to go along. That got me thinking about those carrots again. YouTube is overflowing with awesome home cooks making their zanahorias. I always wondered why there was a tiny bit of oil in the pickle juice – and now I know. The veg are lightly sauteed before adding the vinegar. Dur. Makes perfect sense.

My searches also garnered the Spanish dish by the same name, and it was interesting to see the differences – thyme and pimenton, cook the carrots a little longer. No hot peppers. I’m thinking the Mexican version is a post-colonial smoosh – but, hey. I am no food anthropologist. Anywho, this was maybe twenty minutes start to finish. I bet you have the ingredients already. These stay good a couple weeks in the fridge – if they last that long. Make some today to have ready for your Taco Tuesday. You can totally eat these the same day, but they certainly get better the longer they soak in that gorgeous escabeche.

Zanahorias en escabeche
Makes about 3 cups.
1# carrots, peeled and sliced in to ¼” thick diagonal ovals.
3 jalapenos, halved
½ large white onion, sliced in ¼” thick half-moons
3 cloves garlic, slightly smooshed with the flat of your knife
½ tsp. black pepper corns
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. Mexican oregano leaves
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 ½ c. white vinegar
1 ½ c. water
(sal al gusto)

In a large non-reactive skillet on medium, heat the oil, pepppercorns, bay, oregano, and the garlic until you can smell the garlic. Then, add everything but the water and the vinegar. Stir around (you do not want this to brown) for a minute or two until you see the onions are starting to soften. Pour in the water and vinegar, and simmer until the jalapenos are done – they will change from a deep green to an olive green.
While that is simmering, prepare your container. You want something that can handle hot liquid – I used glass with those snappy silicone gasket lids. Just be sure to heat up the container with some hot water before you dump in your pickles. (Just imagine cold glass and hot liquid. Yeah.)
When the jalapenos are done, scoop all the veg in to your prepared container. Then, pour in just enough of the liquid to cover them. You will most likely have extra liquid at the end. Toss it. Or use it to make a vinaigrette.

That’s it. You’re done. Cool it. Label it & pop it in the fridge and enjoy.
PS – all the recipes I saw added salt to these puppies, but I think this is plenty flavorful without. But add some if you like!

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the red onion and the chile de arbol in the knolled pic – I made some cebollas en escabeche at the same time. But those are already a blog post…

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

Soup. Dammit but I love soup. You get so much for so very little…..

I organized a Stone Soup at the office back in early December, and my department-mates loved it so much, we’ve got an informal ‘Soup Wednesday’ going. One of the gals left her crockpot in the kitchen, and each week someone says, “hey, let’s do such and such this week” – and away we go! Wednesdays are an insane day in my profession, and typically we can’t even get a lunch hour – so this has become quite the awesome tradition. But I digress…..

I was a-Googlin’ for something different and interesting to make next week, and stumbled across the idea of a chickpea soup with Moroccan spices. So, I cobbled together what I liked about all the recipes and what I knew I had on-hand, and gave this a shot for a Friday dinner. Oh, is this good. So, so good. It was maybe 10 minutes of actual work, and about 40 to simmer. The house smelled incredible. And on a chilly night, the warmth of the soup with that gorgeous combination of smoked paprika, cumin and cinnamon? Pure heaven. Make this right now – you prolly have the ingredients in the pantry. I even used my cheap-o Trader Joe’s smoked paprika, not the good Spanish stuff. If you don’t have that, just use regular (sweet) paprika.

I drizzled mine with extra-virgin olive oil, Himself did a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and some cilantro. Some grilled Greek-style pita or a sliced baguette would go superbly with this.

Enjoy! I’m serious – go make this right now. I’m going to try it in the crockpot next Wednesday at the office – wish me luck!

Moroccan Chickpea Stew
Serves 2 seriously hungry people, or not-so-hungry plus leftovers

In your soup pot, saute:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ white onion, diced
3-4 celery ribs, in soup-sized chunks
3-4 carrots, in soup-sized chunks
After a couple minutes, add in:
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. pimenton ahumado
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ c. tomato paste
After a couple minutes, add in:
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5oz) can chickpeas, drained
2 quarts chicken (or vegetable) broth
Simmer for 30 minutes, then use a potato masher and smoosh one side of the pot and add:
1 c. frozen chopped spinach (no need to thaw before)
Simmer 10 more and soup is on, betches!

Serve with: Greek yogurt & Fresh coriander (cilantro), or XVOO, or a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Revision 1/28 – Oops! Forgot the nutritional info! According to the VeryWell.com calorie calculator, if you get 3 servings out of this, each serving has:
323 calories
12.7 g fat
693mg sodium
42.1g carbs (12.5g fiber!)
12.2g protein
and 30% of your iron and 23% potassium for the day

Parsley Pasta Salad With Chickpeas

If you like real tabbouleh, I think you will love this. The parsley is the star. This was just going to be Saturday lunch and a way to use up a half bag of the TJ’s grilled veg, so of course I have no knolled ingredients or process photos to include. But, this was yummy enough to warrant a share – so forgive me.

This is hearty, and fresh, and makes for a filling lunch. You could add some tuna to boost it up, if you wanted. Or just serve it as a side to some rotissimat chicken you picked up on the way home.
If you are lucky enough to be able to eat cheese, some chunks of feta in this would push it into the orgiastically good zone.

Try this – I am totally loving it, and I think you will, too.

Parsley Pasta Salad With Chickpeas in Garlic Dijon Vinaigrette
Salad Ingredients
½ pound rotini pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and peeled
1 small bunch ruffled parsley, chopped coarsely. (About 2.5-3c.)
12 ish pitted kalamata olives, sliced laterally in half
1/2 small white onion, diced
1.5-2c chopped grilled vegetables (I used ½ bag of the Trader Joe’s misto alla griglia – it is red bells, eggplant and zucchini.)
Garlic Dijon Vinaigrette
3 fat cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
A ton of freshly ground black pepper.

Directions:
Ok, while the water is boiling for your pasta, make the dressing. In a large bowl, whisk together everything but the oil, then drizzle and whisk it in last until you have a nice emulsion. Pour half of the dressing into a medium-sized microwave safe bowl. This dressing is really intense, do not panic. Once is mixed with everything it will mellow out.
Peel the chickpeas, put them in the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat. Microwave for one minute, stir and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, chop your vegetable and layer them on top of the dressing in the bowl (but do not mix!) and put that in the fridge to wait for the last step.
When the pasta is al dente, drain it and then immediately put the hot pasta in the bowl with the chick peas and give it a stir.
Once the pea/pasta mixture has cooled to room temperature, toss it with the rest of the ingredients and it is ready to eat. Or, stick it back in the fridge. Because you coated the beans and pasta with that super-strong dressing while they were hot, you don’t have to wait until tomorrow to enjoy this. It is ready right now.

This makes 4 meal-sized portions, or 8-10 sides.

Nutritional Info
for the meal size, verywell.com says each serving has:

927 cal
38.7g fat
123.8g carbs (fiber 21.9g, sugar 12.5g)
29g protein
Plus – 110% Vitamin A, 93% vitamin C and 56% Iron.

Jalapeno Cilantro Slaw with Lime


My new favorite coleslaw is easy, fast, zesty and bright. And easy. Wait, I said that. Oh! And no mayo! This is zippy the day you make it, the next day it will have more juice from the cabbage and it will be hotter because the jalapeno has been infusing everything.

We love this with grilled chicken, or pork. As a side with tacos, and actually ON fish tacos. It is super yummy.
You ready? Let’s do this!

Whisk together:
3 Tbsp. mild oil
¼ c. agave sweetener (or 2 Tbsp sugar)
¼ c. freshy squeezed lime juice.
Pour over:
3 c. napa or green cabbage, chopped for slaw
¼ c. chopped cilantro
¼ c. white onion in wafter thin crescents
½ to 1 small fresh jalapeno, in wafer thin rings or crescents.
Toss. Eat. Add S&P to taste.

Nutritional info for four servings (according to verywell.com recipe analyzer).
Cal 164
Fat 10.3g
Carb: 19.1g (sugars 17.2g)
Protein: 1g
Vitamin A 79%, Vitamin C 49% of daily allowance.

Lemony Carrot Salad with Fig & Pistachio


SUMMER! The rains are finally here. It took a long time this year, so long we began to wonder if they would ever get here. But now it is officially summer. Hot, sticky days beg for cold, crunchy salads.

You know how much I love me some carrot salad. It’s a summer staple in our house. I made this one for my mom’s birthday lunch, and loved it so much I’ve made it again and again.
This is an easy-peasy salad, almost like that carrot raisin salad from childhood, but with a grown-up (and mayonnaise-free!) twist.

1# fresh carrots, peeled and grated (about 3 to 4 c.)
¼ c. dried figs, sliced in thin rounds
¼ c. toasted pistachio meats, coarsely chopped
Zest of ½ lemon (1 tsp.)
Juice of ½ lemon (2 Tbps.)
1 Tbsp. agave sweetener (or sugar, or honey)
1 Tbsp. mild vegetable oil

Use a food processor to grate the carrots. Or use children – free labor, quick healers, and all that.

In a medium-sized salad bowl, whisk together the lemon, agave, oil. Dump in the rest, stir and serve. Or, you can stick it in the fridge and eat it later. It is good both ways: crisper with less sauce the first day, crunchy and juicier the next.
This is fantasic for picnics and barbecues (no mayo!), or with a sammie at lunch.
Going with four servings, the calorie calculator at verywell.com says each serving has:
Calories 163
Fat 7.3g
Carbs 23.9g
Fiber 5g
Sugars 14.8g
Protein 3.1g
and…..632% of your Vitamin A for the day!

Roast Butternut Soup

I know, I know. ANOTHER butternut squash recipe? I should be getting some kind of commission from the Butternut Council of America. I am so googling to see if that exists after I finish this post.

So, you know what they say. Soup: it’s what’s for dinner. Or at least, that’s what my poor, long-suffering husband says every time there’s a grey sky. Besides – Costco had two packs of these bad boys. On a cold day, this is a win/win, people.


Roasting concentrates the flavor and brings out the sweetness of the veg. Add some earthiness with the celery and the thyme, and the tartness from the apple, and this is simple goodness all around. Shall we?

Roast Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
½ large (or one small) white onion, large dice
1 small green apple, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tsp. dried thyme
S&P
1 ½ to 2 quarts chicken (or veg) stock.

Toss together everything but the stock on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast 375* for about an hour
The last twenty minutes, bring one quart of the stock to boil, then reduce to simmer to keep it hot. When the squash et al are done (fork tender, nicely caramelized), toss it all in the pot. The stock should just cover everything (add more if needed). Take a stick blender to it, puree, consume. Add more stock if you’d like a thinner soup.

Or – keep the squash in the fridge, and bring to boil and puree later when you’re ready to eat. It’ll keep in the fridge for several days (as will the soup once it’s done.) If you freeze this one, expect some water separation at the thaw. You can do it, I just wouldn’t recommend it.


I garnished mine with a little greek yogurt and some toasted walnut – butter would also be delish.

P. S. That Butternut Council of America does not exist. I must confess to being disappointed, although another smartass food blogger had the same idea back in 2013. So there’s that.

Chopped Satay Salad

Chopped Satay Salad
Salad with Satay Sauce
If you are like me, and when you go out for a specific kind of food – you order the same baseline item to gauge if you’ll like the rest: Chips and salsa, eggs benedict, fried rice, fish taco. When we go out for Vietnamese or Thai food, we always get the rice paper rolls and peanut sauce. Oh, that sauce. When it is good, I just want ask for a bowl of it and a spoon.
chopped salad with satay

It dawned on me this weekend that (duh!), there is probably a good recipe for it online. And there is – I made this recipe from SheSimmers.com, and it is AMAZEBALLS. Instead of just eating it with a spoon (and believe me, I can neither confirm nor deny that happened), I thought I’d get out the rice paper and make some spring rolls with tofu. Then as I was slicing the jalapeno and the cilantro, I got lazy and said ah, hell. I’m just going to make a chopped salad and dress it in the satay.
So tasty
Holy Peanut Sauce, y’all. This is yum. Just so much yum.
Make the sauce – it takes all of five minutes and you will be SO HAPPY.

Mix together:
1 c. chopped green cabbage
1 c. diced extra firm sprouted tofu
½ c. chopped broccoli
½ c. celery
½ c. diced jicama
½ c. diced cucumber
¼ c. diced red pepper
¼ c. chopped cilantro
2 radishes, sliced thin
¼ jalapeno, sliced thin
1/8 sweet onion, sliced thin
½ c. satay sauce
Toss it, serve with lime wedges and the sauce and some sesame seeds if you feel fancy.

If you don’t like tofu, do chicken. Or grilled fish or shrimp. Or,a add some cold rice vermicelli as a base. That would be delicious, too.

Tacos de Camotes (Sweet Potato Tacos)

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I toyed with some pretentious hipster title for this puppy – caramelized sweet potato tacos in a chipotle garlic emulsion. But, nah. This are simple and good – so tacos de camotes is much better. I want to try it with pumpkin, too. One day….. Anyway, if you get tired of turkey day leftovers in a couple of weeks, or want to use up that leftover sweet potato on the counter, or hell! Make an awesome first course to Thanksgiving dinner, these are ready to roll. Fast, easy and yummy. I can’t really say ‘no pica’, but the heat isn’t bad.
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These are crunchy and soft, tangy, sweet and spicy. Truly lovely.
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This is enough for two people as a main dish, or four for a side.

For the Taco filling:
2 large sweet potatoes, diced*
1/2 white onion, diced
1 Tbps. olive oil
garlic salt
For the chipotle emulsion:
2 large cloves garlic
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
2 whole chipotle peppers en adobo
2 Tbsp wine/cider/sherry vinegar
2 Tbsp olive olive
(A little water mixed with some adobo if needed)
And…..
Soft corn tortillas

*(diced means 1/2” cubes, people)
Preheat oven to 375*. Line a cookie sheet with parchment. spread out evenly the sweet potato and onion, drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the garlic salt.
Roast about 20-30 minutes, until really nicely caramelized.
sweetpotato4
While that’s roasting, put the dressing ingredients in the blender and puree. You may need to add a little water/adobo sauce mix to get enough liquid to blend. Transfer to a bowl large enough to hold all the potato/onion mix when it comes out of the oven.
sweetpotato2collage

When the potato/onion mix is done, remove from the oven and set aside just for a few minutes. (This lets the outside crust on the sweet potato cubes develop just a tidge more). Heat your tortillas and get your serving plate. Toss the hot sweet potato/onion mix in the chipotle emulsion, fill the tortillas and consume immediately.

These would be awesome with a smoked fontina cheese. Or avocado slices. Or even with some scrambled egg for an amazeballs breakfast taco. Or hell, underneath some poached eggs for that matter.

** This would also work with kabucha squash.
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Bon apétit

Butternut Coconut Curry Soup

November will be here in a few days. It is still ninety forking degrees here (You guys are all watching ‘The Happy Place’, right?) I am thoroughly disgusted. As Himself enjoys saying, “Love that global warming!” Oy. But still, that autumnal food urge is upon me. The markets are filled with winter squashes – butternut, acorn, turban, delicata, sweet dumpling, kabucha. Makes my head swim with happiness. I’ve got a cashew cream kabucha gratin idea floating in my mind, but it hasn’t fully formed yet. Maybe in a few weeks.
In the meantime, this behemoth of a butternut keeps winking at me every time I walk past it on the kitchen counter. It’s a four-pound giant. Gonna get two meals outta that mofo.
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I think the hard squashes scare off a lot of people. Did you know you can peel him with a vegetable peeler? (Mainly because it isn’t lumpy like an acorn.) Goes quickly, and you can peel and cube him in a few minutes – toss half in a ziplock in the fridge to make a couple days later. Here, check it out.
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This and a big salad, and dinner is done. Or, if you’re really hungry, a grilled cheese and fresh jalapeno sandwich would be awesome with this: melty crunchy spicy contrasting with slightly sweet and creamy. Such happiness!
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Butternut Coconut Curry Soup
3 stalks celery
½ white onion
2# (about six cups) butternut, peeled & in 1” cubes
2 Tbsp. oil or butter
3 Tbsp curry powder
1 (-ish) quart chicken (or veg) stock
Coconut milk, the full-fat kind.
Fried onions for garnish

Over medium heat, stir together the curry powder and oil. Let it get a little toasty (when you really smell the spices, time for the next step.) Ad the celery and onion, cook over medium until the onion is translucent around the edges. Add the squash and just barely cover with the chicken stock. (It if boils down, you can always add a little more. Harder to take it away if you do too much, though.) butternuecoco2med
Simmer on medium for about half an hour, until the squash is tender.
When it’s done, purée. (With a stick blender, in an actual blender (remember to allow for steam escape!), or in the food processor. It should be like loose mashed potatoes, almost thick enough to hold up a spoon. Return it to the pot, stir in about ¾ can of coconut milk just to heat it back up. Ladle in to bowls, garnish with a swirl of the remaining coconut milk and or fried onions.
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Bon apétit!

White Gazpacho: Adventures in the Land of Meh

Bill tells me I need start a fail tag. Made me laugh.  My friend T always raves about the white gazpacho at one of our favorite wino bars.  I was wracking my brain for a post idea, and a friend suggested salsa. Which made me think of gazpacho. Which made me think of T and her white gazpacho. 

Google recipe search garnered pretty much the same recipe over and over – water, almonds, bread, garlic, sherry vinegar, olive oil. Garnished with grapes. And if you drill down, they almost all go back to José Andrés.

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Serve chilled. Sounds simple. Easy. 

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Gotta tell you, though. We just weren’t big fans.  Grapes are not himself’s favorite fruit, which maybe didn’t help.  We tried this the day we made it after it chilled,  and again the next day.  We tasted it over and over, and are just on the fence. It’s cool, and creamy, and subtle; but the bread flavor is just too strong. Maybe it’s the homemade (poolish) bread I used; maybe its flavor is too strong and I needed a more neutral one.  

WhiteGazpacho4BCmedWell, we have tried this recipe for white gazpacho. And with $5 worth of almonds as the main ingredient, I am not so sure we’ll pursue this to see if tweeks would change our minds.  But, it sure is purdee. So, enjoy the pictures if not the soup. 

Soup
4 cups water
7 ounces blanched almonds
2 clove garlic
3 ounces day old white bread
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
Garnish
Drizzle of the olive oil
Handful of green grapes, halved
Sliced cucumber
Instructions
Put the almonds and the garlic in a sauce pan with one of the cups of water.
Bring to boil, then drain.
Add another cup of water.
Bring to boil, then drain.
Cool to room temp.
Put all the (remaining) soup ingredients in the blender, and puree until super smooth.
Strain through mesh and chill, prefereably overnight.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil on top, dotted with the grapes

Servings 4
Calories 617
Fat 54 g
Sodium 571 mg
Carbs 26 g
Protein 13 g