Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bloody Sangria

My friend had a Halloween party last night and I wanted something fun to drink. I was searching for Halloween cocktails while watching Semi-Homeade Cooking with Sandra Lee. She made Sassy Sangria and decided to make a blood-red sangria. I didn't originally plan posting this, but it was so delicious I felt the need to share.

Sangria is a wine-based punch that originated in Spain and Portugal. It consists of mixture of wine, brandy, seltzer/ginger ale, and fruit pieces. Brandy is not something I normally drink so I added a bit of tequila instead. Also, Walmart did not have ginger ale for some reason, so I used Sprite instead. I normally don't drink soda at all, but once in a while it's okay to have a bit extra sugar.

Bloody Sangria
1 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon
4 oz tequila
1 orange, sliced
2 limes, sliced
1/2 liter of Sprite

Pour the wine into a large pitcher.

Add the tequila.

Drop in to the orange and lime slices.

Chill in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight if you have the time.

Before serving, add the Spite.

If you want it "bloodier," you can add some grenadine and some fake spider.

I hope you all have a happy and safe Halloween! Keep an eye on your keiki (Hawaiian for kid) and please don't drink and drive. Also, please keep your pets indoors if possible. There are sick people who torment cats for fun or witchcraft.

I was one happy bunny. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Kabocha Squash Soup

I love when good things are cheap. My local health food store had variety of locally grown squash on sale. The minute I saw them, I thought of hot bowl of creamy soup. I first picked-up a butternut squash but then a lovely little green one caught my eye. I didn't know what kind it was but it wad lighter (hence cheaper) so I bought it. After a bit of Google and asking my mom, I learned it was a kabocha.

Kabocha is a Japanese winter squash. It looks like a squat green pumpkin. It has the texture of pumpkin but tastes more like a sweeter butternut squash. It is high in iron, vitamin C, and potassium. It's meat is bright orange and it's packed full of seeds too (I roasted them, a bit chewier than pumpkin seeds but still good). 

I came up with this recipe on my own, but it's pretty much like any basic squash soup. This would also be wonderful with most other squash varieties as well. 

Kabocha Squash Soup
1 kabocha squash
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cup vegetable broth 
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 cups of kale, chopped
3 cups water
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. 

Spray a baking sheet or pan with cooking spray and lay the squash cut side down.

Bake for about an hour, until totally soft. 

While that roasts, chop up the veggies. 

In a large pot, heat a some oil and sauté the onions until translucent. 

Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes. 

Add the kale and cook until tender. Add the 3 cups water. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Once the squash is done and cooled, scoop out the meat into a blender. 

Add the coconut milk and vegetable broth. Blend until smooth. You may need to add a bit of water if it's too thick.  ( I don't know what happened to the picture of this step, sorry!)

Add the squash puree to the pot and turn the burner on to medium-low heat. 

Add the spices and salt and pepper to taste. Bring up to desired temperature and serve hot. 

I have a bit of a cold again so I had my with a lovely glass of Theraflu. Hopefully the vitamin C in the squash will do me some good. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pindi Chana

I fell in love with Indian food while I was studying abroad in Australia. There was a little place right on campus that was pretty cheap. It was also conveniently on the walk back from the tram so I would get some when I got off work on occasion. The menu rotated every day but there was the usual selection of curries, chutneys, and such. I have looked-up the recipes for some of my favorites before, but they scared me. Tons of weird spices, ingredients I have never heard, and insanely long cook times. But the other day I wanted something spicy so I decided to search for a simple recipe (there had to be one, India is a very big country, someone has to be lazy like me!) I came across a site called Indian Food Forever and found some really tasty sounding recipes. Then I saw it---a recipe that was easy and I had almost everything it called for already. And It has chickpeas, one my favorite foods.

Pindi chana is pretty much curried chickpeas. What intrigued me the most about the recipe was that the chickpeas are soaked overnight with teabags. This give them a deeper, earthier flavor that stands up against the curry. I cannot find much information on the origins of the dish, the one website I found was half in Hindi, which I sadly cannot read. 

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans if you prefer, are one of the oldest vegetables know to man. They have been around since biblical times and even spread to the Roman Empire. Apparently some cultures even use them as substitute for coffee (I think I will stick with my Kona coffee). Chickpeas are high in zinc, fiber, folate, and protein. I love to make hummus with them or have them cold on a salad.

Pindi Chana
1 cup dry chickpeas
2 bags of black tea
1 onion, chopped
1 two inch piece of ginger, chopped
2 clove of garlic
1 green chili, de-stemed and chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chili powder
1tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Salt to taste

Rinse and pick through the chickpeas. Cover with water and add the tea bag. Soak for at least 6 hours, I left mine overnight.

Drain the chickpeas and add to a large pot. Cover with water, cover and cook until tender, about 25 minutes.

Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid and drain off the rest.

Heat some oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté until golden.

Add the chopped ginger, garlic, and chili sauté for another a minute or two.

Add the tomatoes, reserved liquid and all the remaining spices.

Simmer uncovered until the majority of the liquid is absorbed.

I garnished mine with some more spices. I didn't feel like waiting for rice to cook, so I threw a sweet potato in the microwave for a minutes and served my pindi chana over it. I loved the orangey-yellow color palate.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mashed Plantains

I mentioned yesterday in my Sopa de Mani post that I had a side of mashed plantains. They were so good I decided to give it it's own post. I have wanted to cook something with plantains for awhile now. I've never had them before, but I see them all the time in the Hilo Farmers Market. I finally bought some this weekend and then searched for a recipe. I kept finding various ways to to fry them, which does sound delicious but not the healthiest. Then, I found one for mashed plantains. Made just like mashed potatoes, but boiling plantains and adding a bit of spices. I loved the idea and thought it was the healthier option.

Plantains are less sweet and starchier than bananas. Common in the tropics and along the pacific, they are a staple in South and Central America cuisine. They need to be cooked before eaten and are usually eaten while still green (I used yellows ones because I did not know green ones are better for cooking). Like bananas, they are high in potassium and fiber.

Mashed Plantians
2 large plantians
1 tsp butter
salt and pepper
chili powder
red pepper flakes

First, peal the plantains. This is best done by first cutting off the ends.

Then making an incision into the peal length wise. You might make another on the other side too.

Then pull the peal off.

Next remove the seeds inside. Cut the plantain in half.

Then cut just to the side of the seeds.

Now cut off the top strip with the seeds.

Cut the plantains into smaller pieces so they fit into the pot better.

Add to a large pot or saucepan and cover with water.

Bring to boil over high heat and cook until tender.

Drain and return back to the pot. Add the butter and mash until smooth. You may need to add a bit of water to help the texture.

Add the seasoning to taste.

Taste similar to bananas but a bit starchier. Sweet with some spice, but neutral enough to go with most main dishes. I even ate the leftovers for breakfast the next morning.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sopa de Mani: Bolivian Peanut Soup

I was chatting with my Bolivian friend Leslie again and decided to make another Bolivian dish. I wasn't sure what I wanted to make and did not want to have to go buy tons of ingredients. After some searching on the web, I came across a recipe for soap de mani and thought it sounded amazing. It's a peanut base soup traditionally made with chicken, raw peanuts, and carrots. It's a little thick and sweet from the carrots. In Bolivia, soups can be a starter or main course (just like everywhere else I guess....). I left out the chicken and used purple sweet potatoes because that is what I had on hand. I found a recipe that skipped the whole raw peanut boiling step by using natural peanut butter instead. Yeah, I know it is not the traditional way, but I do not have the money to buy whole raw peanuts nor the patients to wait for them to cook down. And, since I found this recipe on an international recipe site, I am sure plenty of Bolivians cheat with peanut butter too.

Peanuts are native to the tropical regions of America. They are high in protein, vitamin B3, and vitamin E. They are also a good source of fiber and antioxidants. They were consumed by the Aztecs, who even mashed them into a paste. But modern day peanut butter is quiet different than the paste the ancients ate. Most modern versions of peanut butter roast the peanuts first, and include oil to make it more spreadable and sugar to make it sweeter. Although peanuts have some health benefits, the peanut oil or other vegetable oils added to peanut butter are still fats so it should still be eaten if moderation. And natural peanut butter, meaning it is only ground up peanuts and a bit of unprocessed peanut oil, is always the best way to go. No one needs the added sugar of processed peanut butter.

This recipe is based on one from Whats4Eats called Soupa de Mani. That recipe serves 4, but I cut mine down to serve 2.

Sopa de Mani
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable stock
3 carrots, sliced
3 small potatoes (I used purple sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
Red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

Chop the onions, mince the garlic, slice the carrots, and cut up the potatoes. Always easier to prep all the veggies before you start cooking.

In a large pot, heat some oil and add the onions. Cook on medium-low heat until translucent.

Add the garlic for cook for a minute or two.

Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil.

Add the carrots and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the potatoes and cook for another 10 minute until all the veggies are soft.

Remove a bit of the hot broth and whisk in the peanut butter to temper it.

Add the tempered peanut butter to the pot and let it simmer for a minute or two. Season with the red peppers flakes, salt, and pepper to taste.

I garnished mine with a bit of basil, not sure if that is Bolivian, but I wanted a splash of green. The soup is creamy and sweet, with a bit of a kick from the red pepper flakes. I loved it, the flavors blend together so nicely. I ate this with a side of mashed plantains, which I will be posting tomorrow.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sweet Potato and Squash Pizza

I was too lazy to go the store to get ingredients for my friday night pizza, so I decided to use the random veggies I had in the fridge and freezer. Some frozen yellow squash, purple sweet potatoes, onion, and olives. Bit of a random assortment, so I decided to first sauté everything (except the olives) in olive oil, garlic, and Italian seasoning.

Sweet Potato and Squash Veggie Pizza
1 ball of pizza dough (try mine)
1/2 cup pizza sauce (try my mushroom sauce)
1/2 cup frozen sliced yellow squash
1-2 purple sweet potatoes (normal potatoes if you cannot yet purples), peeled and sliced
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic
1 tbs Italian seasoning
Handful kalamata olives
1/2 cup vegan cheese (I used Daiya)

Pre-heat the oven to as high as it will go.

Cut the sweet potatoes into fairly thin slices. Slice the onions and chop the garlic too.

Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and some red rappers flakes if you want some kick. Add the onions and cook until they start to brown slightly.

Next add the sweet potatoes and cook until they start to brown too.

Add the squash and cook until no longer frozen.

Add the Italian seasoning and mix together well, then remove from the heat.

Next, roll the pizza dough out and shape into desire pan.

Spread on the tomato sauce.

Then the vegan cheese.

Next add the sautéed veggies and top with the kalamata olives.

Cook for 10-15 minutes or so, until the crust is golden.

I love the texture contrast between the sweet potatoes and cheese. It paired nicely with a glass of merlot.