12th July 2007


The second course of tonight’s geez-it’s-hot-inside feast was this gazpacho, a chilled tomato-veggie soup that was incredibly fresh tasting, and Lisa’s favorite dish of the night. We liked this one better than the one featured in Great Bowls of Fire, which seemed closer to salsa than soup. I halved the recipe listed below, which like the others from tonight is from Healthy Latin Cooking.

6 large, very ripe tomatoes, cored
2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded
1 red bell pepper, quartered
1 green bell pepper, quartered
1 medium red onion, quartered
4 scallions, trimmed
2 cloves garlic
2 cups vegetable stock or vegetable broth
4-6 tbsp red-wine vinegar
2 slices country-style white bread, crusts removed, chopped
salt and pepper
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1-2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Seed and finely chop 1 of the tomatoes; set aside in a small serving bowl. Quarter the remaining 5 tomatoes. Finely chop 1 cucumber; set aside in a small serving bowl. Finely chop 1 quarter of each bell pepper; set aside in a small serving bowl. Finely chop 1 onion quarter; sed aside in a small serving bowl. Finely chop the scallions; set the scallion greens aside in a small serving bowl.
In a blender, combine the scallion whites, remaining onions, garlic, stock/broth, 4 tbsp of the vinegar, the bread, and the remaining tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers. Puree until smooth. The gazpacho should be thick but pourable. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the gazpacho into a large bowl. Stir in the parsley. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to mingle and intensify.
Just before serving, season with more salt, pepper, and vinegar, if desired. Ladle into serving bowls and sprinkle a little oil on top. Set the bowls of chopped vegetables on the table and let each diner garnish as desired.

8 Servings

posted in Healthy Latin Cooking | 3 Comments

12th July 2007

Plantain Spiders

Our friend Carrie came over for dinner tonight and we planned a nice, outdoors-because-it’s-too-hot-inside three-course feast! All the recipes come from Healthy Latin Cuisine, and tonight was the first time making them — they were all a hit!

For our appetizer, Lisa made these Plaintain “Spiders”:

Extremely easy to make, and really flavorful — shredded plantains, garlic, and ginger! We served it with some extra chimichurri sauce.

Plantain Spiders
2 large green plantains, peeled
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced and cut into thin slivers
1 piece (1″) fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced and cut into thin slivers
salt and ground pepper
1 tbsp olive oil or nonstick spray

Preheat the oven to 400F. Coat a nonstick baking sheet iwth nonstick spray.
Grate each plantain on the coarse side of hand grater. Transfer to a bowl, add the garlic and ginger. Season with salt and pepper, toss to mix.
Using your fingers, shape the mixture into 1″ balls. Flatten slightly (don’t pack tightly). Arrange the flattened balls on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the balls with olive oil or coat generously with nonstick spray.
Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Transfer to a platter and season with more salt and peppers, if desired.

Serves 4 (24 pieces)

posted in Appetizers, Healthy Latin Cooking | 0 Comments

7th July 2007

Vietnamese Grilled Chicken with Rice Noodles

It’s been pretty warm here lately, so we’ve been planning recipes that rely heavily on grilling outdoors as to not heat up the kitchen. This grilled chicken and noodles dish was delicious, and the marinade smelled fantastic. I’m always pleasantly surprised at how little oil goes into a lot of the Vietnamese and Thai recipes we make at home. We’ll definitely be making this one again. The recipe below is adapted from Williams-Sonoma Asian Cooking, and the nuoc cham is from Authentic Vietnamese Cooking.

Vietnamese Grilled Chicken with Rice Noodles
1.5 lb chicken breast
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 kaffir lime leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/6 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp chinese rice wine
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp peanut oil
1/4 lb rice vermicelli, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes
Nuoc Cham (see below)
1 thai pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1/8 cup very finely julienned carrots
4 or 5 cilantro sprigs

Cut the chicken breasts into large pieces and set aside in a shallow bowl. In a mortar, combine the garlic, shallot, cilantro, lime leaves, salt, and pepper and grind together with a pestle to form a paste. Transfer the paste to a bowl and stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce, rice wine, soy sauce, and peanut oil. Pour the marinade over the chicken pieces and turn to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Set a grill to high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the grill, turning until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Lower the grill heat to medium, cover, and continue to heat the chicken until cooked through.
Just before the chicken is ready, bring a saucepan full of water to a boil. Add the rice vermicelli and cook until tender, about 1 minute. Drain, place in a bowl, and toss with 1/8 cup of the Nuoc Cham.
Divide the noodles between two serving plates and arrange the chicken on top. Garnish with the chili pepper, carrots, and cilantro sprigs. Serve with the remaining Nuoc Cham for dipping.

Serves 2.

Nuoc Cham
Makes about 2 cups
2 1/2 tbsps sugar
1 1/2 tbsps water
1/6 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Thai chili, minced

Whisk together the sugar, water, fish sauce, and lime juice in a bowl until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the garlic and chili, then let stand for 30 minutes before serving.

Makes approx. 1 cup.

posted in Asian, Main Dishes | 3 Comments

2nd July 2007


This parsley and bulgur salad is a great summer side dish. Unlike Americanized versions that contain mostly bulgur, this traditional recipe from The Complete Armenian Cookbook focuses more on the parsley and other vegetables (tomatoes, onions, cucumbers) present.

3/8 cup fine (#1) bulgur
3 ripe tomatoes, minced
1/2 small onion, minced
3 green onions, minced
2 bunches parsley, minced
1/4 bunch mint, minced
1 large cucumber, diced

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
salt and hot red pepper to taste
pinch of black pepper

Romaine lettuce leaves for garnish

In a mixing bowl combine the bulgur and the tomatoes with their juice. Let it sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes, until the bulgur is soft and all the liquid from the tomatoes is absorbed. Add the other vegetables and mix thoroughly. Combine the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and start pouring over the bulgur mixture, stirring as you pour. Stop when the vegetables are well coated (you don’t want it swimming in dressing!) Chill. Surround with Romaine lettuce leaves for garnish… and scooping!

Makes 6 side-dish servings.

posted in Armenian, Middle Eastern, Salads and Light Soups | 2 Comments