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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Chilies

African immigrants in the United States come from almost all regions in Africa and do not constitute a homogeneous group. They include peoples from different national, linguistic, ethnic, racial, cultural and social backgrounds. As such, African immigrants are distinct from African Americans, many of whose ancestors were involuntarily brought from West Africa and Central Africa to British North America by means of the Atlantic slave trade. African Americans whose ancestors were forced into slavery and Africans who emigrated to the US have all contributed numerous qualities in the development of the US as a nation and have greatly influenced our culinary world.

Since the 17th century, enslaved Africans and their descendants have had a profound impact on what Americans grow and eat. Watermelon, okra, yams, black-eyed peas, and some peppers are all indigenous to Africa. Fruits and vegetables brought from Africa flourished in America in large part because enslaved Africans planted their own gardens to supplement the meager rations provided by their captors. These plants eventually made their way from gardens of the enslaved to those of some of the wealthiest and most prominent people in the country, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, whose gardens were planted with heirloom seeds from Africa. Enslaved African chefs left their mark on certain cooking methods, while also developing recipes that are now staples in the American diet, particularly in the American South. Dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, pepper pot and the method of cooking greens called Hoppin’ John (a dish made with greens and pork) are all examples. “The method of deep frying of fish or barbecuing meats were all documented in West Africa before the transatlantic slave trade,” says Kelley Deetz, director of programming at Stratford Hall and who is also the author of Bound to the Fire, which explores how Virginia’s enslaved cooks helped invent American cuisine. “These dishes and ingredients were essential to the formation of Southern, and eventually American, food.”

The continent of Africa has seen many changes in migration patterns over the course of history. The influx of African immigrants began in the latter part of the 20th century and is often referred to as the “fourth great migration.” About three-fourths of all immigrants from Africa went to the United States after 1990. This trend began after decolonization, as many Africans moved to the U.S. seeking education and an escape from poverty, and this trend has been steadily rising over time. Originally, these immigrants came with the sole purpose of advancing themselves before returning to their respective countries. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of African immigrants interested in gaining permanent residence in the U.S. One major factor that contributes to migration from Africa to the United States is for job opportunities. It has been relatively easier for Africans with advanced education to leave and enter the international labor markets. In addition, many Africans move to the United States for advanced training. For example, doctors from different African nations move to the U.S. in order to increase their skills and gain more economic opportunities.

African immigrants tend to retain their culture once in the United States. Cultural bonds are developed through shared ethnic or national affiliations. Some organizations like the Ghanaian group Fantse-Kuo and the Sudanese Association are organized by country, region, or ethnic group. Other nonprofits like the Malawi Washington Association is organize by national identity and are inclusive of all Malawians. Other groups present traditional culture from a pan-African perspective. Using traditional skills and knowledge, African-born entrepreneurs develop services for immigrants and the community at large. In the Washington area, events such as the annual Ethiopian soccer tournament, institutions such as the AME Church African Liberation Ministry, and “friends” and “sister cities” organizations bring together different communities. According to estimates in 2000, there were 8.7 million African American families in the United States. The ten states with the largest populations of African Americans are New York, California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Louisiana, Michigan, and Maryland.

The migration of Africans to Europe and the US has introduced a range of African culinary dishes to the world. Ethiopian and Moroccan foods have made their mark with popular restaurants in urban hubs like London, New York, Paris, and Washington DC. Traditionally, African cuisines use a combination of locally grown fruits, vegetables, cereal grains, and meats. African cuisine can be broken down largely into styles from Central Africa, East Africa, the Horn of Africa, North Africa, South Africa, and West Africa. Heavily influenced by spices, African recipes are known for their intense flavor and often include combining sweet flavors such as dried fruit, ginger, and cinnamon with garlic and onions.

The historical record indicates chickens were known in ancient Egypt by 1,400 BC, and later in the Greek and Roman empires. When they first arrived in sub-Saharan Africa is unknown, but they are now common throughout Africa as in the rest of the world. A similar bird, the guinea fowl, is native to Africa and is widely raised there. Both are often called kuku in many African languages. Nsusu or soso are words for chicken in the Congo region. Every culture has its own way of cooking chicken. One classic method of preparing chicken in Africa is to stew it in a peanut and tomato sauce (this basic recipe goes by many names in different parts of Africa). Another delicious African chicken dish is Poulet Yassa, which is chicken marinated in an onion-mustard mixture. The African kitchen is traditionally outside or in a separate building apart from the sleeping and living quarters. By far the most traditional and to-this-day the most common sight in an African kitchen is a stewpot filled with meat and vegetables (often greens) simmering over a fire. The pot usually sits on three stones arranged in a triangle, and the fire slowly consumes three pieces of wood that meet at a point under the pot.

Here is another traditional recipe for chicken.

Piri-Piri Chicken with Piri-Piri Sauce

Piri-Piri (sometimes spelled peri-peri) is Swahili for ‘pepper pepper’, or ‘strong pepper’ and refers to an African-style chili sauce. Piri-Piri Chicken is marinated in a hot chile pepper marinade, then grilled. This dish evolved in Angola and Mozambique (once Portuguese colonies) after Portuguese explorers and settlers brought American chili peppers to Africa.

The most basic piri-piri marinade recipe calls for just oil, cayenne pepper or minced fresh hot chile peppers, and salt. Many piri-piri recipes add an acidic liquid (usually lemon or lime juice, or vinegar, or possibly wine or liquor) which adds a tang and tenderizes the chicken. More elaborate versions also include additional flavorings and spices.

This recipe makes quite a bit and since I cook for two most days, I cut the recipe in half. This dish is delicious and the chicken turns out quite tender and juicy. The sauce has a bit of a kick but not overly spicy.

6-8 servings

Ingredients

4 lb chicken cut into parts or 4 lbs of your favorite chicken parts, about 8 pieces.

Peri Peri Marinade
3 red chilies (reduce for less heat or remove seeds), finely chopped or use 2 tablespoons red chili paste
1 green chili, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Peri Peri Sauce
3 tablespoons reserved marinade
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar

Directions

Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold all the chicken parts and blend well.

Reserve 3 tablespoons of the marinade in a small storage container and the coat the chicken with the remaining marinade. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours to overnight.

Hear an outdoor grill or stovetop grill pan.

For the Piri-Piri Sauce
Add reserved marinade, water, and sugar to a small saucepan and bring to boil. Cook for 2 minutes, remove from the heat and keep warm.

To cook the chicken
Place chicken bone side down on the grill. Cook for 10 minutes. Turn chicken over and cook for 25-30 minutes. Turn chicken over once more and grill for another 5 minutes. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and drizzle the sauce over the grilled chicken.

African Cucumber Sambal

Ingredients

2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 green chili (jalapeno pepper), minced
1 teaspoon sugar or natural sweetener (honey, agave nectar, etc.)
1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 mint leaves, minced
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, quartered and thinly sliced

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir and toss well to cover.


Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving.
The Sambal will store up to 4 days refrigerated in a tightly covered container.

West African Style Rice With Black-eyed Peas

Every culture seems to have its own version of rice and beans. Peanut oil and hot red pepper give this dish a West African flavor.

Carolina Gold Rice, long grain rice, was the basis of the colonial and antebellum economy of Carolina and Georgia. Considered the grandfather of long grain rice in the Americas, Carolina Gold (which came from Africa and Indonesia) became a commercial staple grain in the coastal lands of Charles Towne in the Carolina Territory in 1685. The rice has a superior flavor, nutty aroma, a tiny texture and a beautiful golden hue in the field. Cooking directions differ from traditional rice, in that, Carolina gold is boiled in salted water rather than simmered.

4 servings

Ingredients

1 cup (200 grams) dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight in water to cover or one 15.8 oz can of black-eyed peas
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 large vine ripe tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 ⁄ 4 teaspoon ground hot red pepper (cayenne)
1 ⁄ 8 teaspoon salt
Cooked Carolina (Charleston) gold rice (recipe below)

Directions

To cook the beans if using dried beans:

Cover black-eyed peas with water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat until soft, about 1 hour. Drain and set aside.

Or drain and rinse the canned beans. Set aside.

To finish the dish

Heat oil in a heavy pot. Add onion, tomato, tomato paste, red pepper, and salt. Simmer 10 minutes, uncovered, over medium heat until vegetables are soft. Add rice and beans to the pan. Cover and let the dish sit for 5 minutes before serving. Adjust seasoning if needed.

 Rice

If you use regular long grain white rice, follow the package directions for cooking 1/2 cup rice.

4 Servings

Ingredients

1/2 cup Carolina gold rice
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups of water

Directions

Bring the water to a boil in a medium heavy saucepan. Rinse the rice three times with tap water in a mixing bowl. Add the rice and salt to the boiling water. Stir gently to separate the grains and cook in boiling water 12-15 minutes until rice is tender and doubled in size. Drain the rice in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside to add to the beans.

Sources:  Jessica B. Harris’ The Africa Cookbook; Marcus Samuelsson’s The Soul of a New Cuisine and The Congo Cookbook.

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Shrimp Tacos with Tomatillo Sauce

2 servings

Tomatillo Salsa
1/2 lb. (about 8) tomatillos, husks removed and washed well
1 large or 2 small serrano chiles, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped white onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

Avocado Cream
Half an avocado mashed
1/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon honey

Shrimp
12 large raw shrimp (16-20 count), peeled, deveined and tails removed
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
4 low carb/gluten-free/regular tortillas, heated
1 cup shredded red cabbage

Directions

For the tomatillo salsa
Dice the tomatillos. Put them in a blender, along with the chiles, onion, cilantro, salt, and garlic. Pulse until the ingredients are very finely chopped and combined (the salsa should be somewhat smooth, but still have some texture), 30 to 60 seconds. Place the salsa in a large bowl. Let sit at room temperature until serving time.
Yields about 1 cup.

For the avocado cream
Combine all the ingredients and chill in the refrigerator.

For the shrimp
Pat shrimp dry. Toss the shrimp with Cajun seasoning and a little salt in a medium bowl.

Preheat a stovetop grill over medium heat. Place the shrimp on the grill and cook until the shrimp are just cooked through about 4 minutes total. Place the cooked shrimp in a serving bowl and spoon several tablespoons of the tomatillo salsa over the shrimp. Toss.and serve the shrimp in tortillas, topped with red cabbage and avocado cream.

Serve a tomato salad on the side.


 

Mexican Americans have lived in the United States for most of the country’s history. Ethnically, Mexican Americans are a diverse population, but the majority are Mestizo, which in colonial times meant to be a person of half European and half Native American ancestry. Nonetheless, the meaning of the word has changed through time and currently refers to the segment of the Mexican population who do not speak indigenous languages.

The United States is home to the second-largest Mexican community in the world, second only to Mexico itself, and comprising more than 24% of the entire Mexican population of the world. Mexican American families of indigenous heritage have been in the country for at least 15,000 years, and Mestizo Mexican American history spans more than 400 years, since the 1598 founding of Spanish New Mexico. Spanish residents of New Spain in the Southwest included New Mexican Hispanos and Pueblo Indians and Genizaros, Tejanos, Californios and Mission Indians. Approximately ten percent of the current Mexican-American population are descended from the early colonial settlers who became U.S. citizens in 1848 following the conditions of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which ended the Mexican–American War.

Generally, when Americans speak about Mexican food, they are usually referring to Tex-Mex (or Cal-Mex) cooking, an extremely popular cuisine that follows the long border between the United States and Mexico. The food of the southwestern US state of New Mexico and the dishes of many of the Native American peoples of the southwestern US have similar names to many Tex-Mex and some Mexican dishes but they use different flavorings and cooking techniques.

Dishes like chili, fajitas, salsa, tortilla chips, chimichangas, quesadillas, burritos, and nachos are actually homegrown American inventions. Even dishes that exist in Mexico like enchiladas, tacos, and tamales are cooked and served differently in the United States. True Mexican dishes are not as spicy as many US versions. American versions of Mexican entrees add prodigious quantities of cheese, either shredded or melted, to nearly every dish, a practice rare in Mexico. The same heavy hand applies to the American use of sauces of all kinds. North of the border portions are larger, plates are filled so that the food items tend to run one into the other. In Mexico, the soft corn tortilla performs the function that bread on the table performs in the United States; it is a side starch. In the United States, fried tortillas, become an ingredient in nearly every dish.

Like most immigrant groups, Mexican Americans have remained loyal to the food traditions of their homeland. Many shops in small ethnic markets carry Mexican specialty foods. When they cook, they follow recipes handed down to them by their parents and grandparents and their cooking styles have certain things in common. Meat, usually pork or beef, is central to the diet. It is often eaten with salsa on the side. Corn, beans, rice, and root vegetables are also staples, especially sweet potatoes, yams, yucca, jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, and taro. Also popular is a pear-shaped squash called chayote. Here are some Mexican American recipes for you to make at home.

Carne Asada

Carne asada means grilled beef in Spanish. The best cuts for making carne asada is Arrachera or skirt steak. It’s the taste that comes to mind when you think carne asada.

In Mexico, there are several marinating techniques that vary depending on the region of the country.
In the south and in the Gulf of Mexico area, where bitter oranges are grown, cooks will add some of its juice to the meat they are using to make Carne Asada; in other regions, they will add lime juice, and others will add a splash of beer.

Carne asada is traditionally made using a skirt or flank steak. The two cuts are very similar, but I prefer flank steak. When cutting the cooked meat, be sure to cut against the grain. It is quite easy to see the grain running through the meat in both of these cuts. It looks like long lines. Do not cut parallel to these lines, always cut perpendicular to them.

 

Carne Asada

Adapted from Rick Bayless, Chicago Chef

Servings: 6
Ingredients

2 limes juiced
4 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 jalapeno minced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 pounds flank steak

Directions

In a gallon size resealable bag, combine the lime juice, crushed garlic, orange juice, cilantro, salt, pepper, olive oil, jalapeno, and vinegar. Squeeze the bag to mix it up.
Put the entire flank steak into the resealable bag. Seal it up tight. Make sure all the meat is exposed to the marinade, squashing the bag around to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight is better.
Heat an outdoor grill or grill pan over high heat.
Remove the flank steak from the marinade, and discard the excess marinade. Cook on the grill for 7 to 10 minutes per side.
Once done, remove from the heat and let rest 10 minutes. Slice against the grain, and serve.

For Carne Asada Tacos

Thinly sliced grilled flank steak
Sliced tomato
Sliced avocado
Sliced red onion
Shredded lettuce
Cotija cheese, crumbled
6 tortillas
Blood oranges, cut into eighths

Grilled or Roasted Corn On the Cob

Ingredients

4 ears corn
2 tablespoons butter (softened)
Parmesan cheese, grated
Chopped herbs (your choice)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F or use the grill when cooking the meat.
Remove husks and silks from the corn. Place the corn on sheets of foil.
Butter corn and sprinkle with herbs and Parmesan cheese. Enclose the corn in foil and press the edges to seal.
Place wrapped corn on a cookie sheet or on the grill and roast for 25-30 minutes.

Mexican Red Rice

Arroz Rojo Mexicano
Adapted from Rick Bayless, Chicago Chef

Ingredients

2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ cups long-grain white rice
1 ¾ cups unsalted chicken broth or water
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (roughly 1 to 2 serranos or 1 large jalapeño), stemmed and cut a slit down the side of each one
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into ¼-inch cubes
1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro

Directions

Place the garlic into a blender or food processor, add the canned tomatoes and process to a smooth puree.

In a large saucepan, stir together the oil and rice. When the rice is thoroughly coated, stir in the tomato puree, broth (or water), carrots and 1 teaspoon salt. Nestle in the chiles. Cover the pan, bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes. Gently stir the rice, re-cover and let the rice cook about 20 minutes. or until tender Taste a grain of rice: It should be very close to done at the core. If not, sprinkle in a little water, re-cover and cook 5 minutes more.

When the rice is done, uncover it and sprinkle in the peas and the parsley or cilantro. Use a fork to gently fluff the rice, reaching all the way to the edges of the bottom, to release steam and slow the cooking. Re-cover, let stand 5 minutes.

Black Beans with Chiles

Ingredients

1 pound dried black beans
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
2 whole serrano chiles or 1 jalapeño chile
1 tablespoon ground cumin
4 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Rinse beans. Place beans in a large bowl. Cover with water by several inches. Let soak overnight.
Place oil, onion, and carrot in a Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat until the onion is tender. Drain beans and add to the Dutch Oven. Add whole chiles, cumin, chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 1 hour. Uncover and simmer until beans are very tender, about 15 minutes more.


Spices are very important in Moroccan cuisine. Common spices include cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, ginger, paprika, coriander, saffron, mace, cloves, fennel, anise, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, fenugreek, caraway, black pepper, and sesame seeds. Twenty-seven spices are combined for the famous Moroccan spice mixture called “ras el hanout”.

Due to its location on the Mediterranean Sea, the country is rich in natural resources and meals are usually built around seafood, lamb or poultry. The Moroccan national dish is a tagine or stew named for a special pot that is used for cooking. Common ingredients include chicken or lamb, almonds, hard-boiled eggs, prunes, lemons, tomatoes, and other vegetables. The tajine, like other Moroccan dishes, is known for its distinctive flavoring, which comes from spices that may include saffron, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, and ground red pepper. Give this Moroccan inspired recipe a try.

Moroccan Spiced Chicken

Ingredients

1 tablespoon chili paste (harissa or sambal oelek)
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 orange, zested, then cut into segments
2 tablespoons oil
4 bone-in chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup green olives
1/4 cup chopped preserved lemon
Couscous, recipe below

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Heat a wide, deep braising pan over medium-high heat.

In a small bowl, combine the chili paste, paprika, turmeric, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, allspice, cardamom, cayenne, orange zest, and 1 tablespoon oil. Stir to form a paste.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper; rub half of the spice mixture on both sides of the chicken thighs.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the heated pan. Sear the chicken skin-side down until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn and brown the other side. Remove the chicken to a plate.

Add the garlic, onion and remaining spice mixture to the same pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the onions are softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Return the chicken to the pan along with the tomatoes, chicken stock, olives, preserved lemon, and sliced oranges. Cover the pan and place it in the oven to braise for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to braise until the chicken is tender, another 15 to 20 minutes.

Couscous

Ingredients

1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ¼ cups no salt added chicken broth

Directions

Bring the chicken broth and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Pour in the couscous and the olive oil, give a quick stir, cover and turn off the heat. Let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork to break up any lump and serve.

Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

1 English cucumber, sliced thin
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed.

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a serving bowl. Mix well, cover the dish and refrigerate several hours before serving.


Taco Flavored Zucchini

2 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium zucchini
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon of your favorite taco seasoning
1 hot pepper (serrano), seeded and minced
1/4 cup prepared salsa
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving 1/4-inch shells. Brush with oil; set aside. Chop zucchini pulp.


In a skillet, saute pulp, hot pepper, and onion in oil. Add garlic and taco seasoning; cook 1 minute longer. Add salsa; cook and stir for 1 minute.


Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the cheese. Spoon the mixture into the zucchini shells.

Preheat an outdoor grill. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 15 minutes or until the zucchini is tender. You may also bake the stuffed zucchini in a 400 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes.

Carne Asada

Epazote has a sharp, herbal flavor, reminiscent of oregano and fennel with minty, pine notes. It is commonly found in Mexican cooking.

Ingredients

1/2 pound skirt steak or flank steak pounded thin
Marinade
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/2 teaspoon dried epazote
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Combine the marinade ingredients in a shallow glass dish. Cut the steak into 4 pieces and pound them to an even thin thickness. Marinate beef in the refrigerator, 2 hours to overnight.


Preheat an outdoor grill or stovetop grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grate. Grill beef over direct heat until firm and pink in the center, 2 minutes per side. Remove steak to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.

Coleslaw

Ingredients

1/4 of a large head of savoy cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion

Dressing
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Directions

Place the dressing ingredients in a serving bowl and mix well. Add the cabbage, carrots, and onion. Thoroughly combine and refrigerate covered for several hours.


Appetizer

Arugula Salad

2 servings

Dressing
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Salad
1/2 cup toasted pecans halves
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
3 cups baby arugula

Directions

Toast the pecans in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes.

Whisk in a medium mixing bowl: balsamic vinegar, honey, and mustard. Add olive oil slowly, while whisking briskly, then season dressing with salt and pepper.

Place the arugula in a salad bowl; add some dressing and toss to coat. Add the pecans and cranberries. Divide the salad between 2 serving plates; top each with the crumbled blue cheese.

Main Course

Seafood in Creole Sauce

Serve with Crusty Bread on the side.

2 servings

Ingredients

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/2 small bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small fresh chile pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
3/4 cup chicken or fish stock or water
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning (Store-bought or see recipe below)
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, optional (depending on how hot the chile pepper is)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or low carb flour
4 U.S. sustainably caught raw shrimp, 16-20 per pound
4 large sea scallops
8 oz red snapper, redfish, cod or haddock fillet, skinned and cut into 2 portions

Directions

For the sauce

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add celery, bell pepper and chile; cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste; cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, broth, wine, creole seasoning, hot sauce if using and thyme; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes until very thick. Season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and return to a gentle simmer.

Peel shrimp and set aside. Wash scallops and remove side muscle and set aside.

For the redfish

Whisk flour with ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Lightly dredge fish, shaking off excess flour. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish and cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the simmering sauce. Cook shrimp and scallops in the same pan, turning once or twice, until pink and curled, 1 to 2 minutes adding the remaining oil if needed.

Transfer the shellfish to the sauce; simmer for 1-2 minutes. Serve in individual bowls.

Creole Seasoning

Ingredients

2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons salt

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, or Jar and stir so that all the ingredients have been fully combined. Store in an airtight container or zip lock bag.

Dessert Course

Cherry Clafoutis

Clafoutis is a baked French dessert of fruit, traditionally black cherries, arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter. The clafoutis is dusted with powdered sugar and with cream.

For Valentine’s Day, I use a heart-shaped layer cake pan.

Ingredients

4 eggs
2/3 cup (5 oz./155 g) sugar
6 tablespoons (2 oz./60 g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 lb. (750 g) fresh cherries, pitted, or 1 1/4 lb. (625 g) frozen cherries, thawed and drained
2 tablespoons Amaretto
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Whipped Cream or Vanilla Ice Cream for serving (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F
Grease a round 9-10″ baking dish and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit on the bottom. Arrange the cherries on the bottom of the pan in a single layer and then set aside.


Combine the rest of the ingredients – except for sliced almonds – in the bowl of a food processor or blender and process on high speed until thoroughly blended; the mixture will be similar to a thin crepe batter.
Pour the mixture over the cherries and then sprinkle the sliced almonds across the top.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 50-60 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. If you find that the clafoutis browns too quickly, cover it loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil.
Remove the pan from oven and let cool for a few hours then transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely. Serve with sweetened whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

To make this dessert gluten-free and low carb:

Ingredients

4 eggs
1/3 cup sugar substitute
½ cup almond flour
¼ cup arrowroot powder flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh raspberries or blueberries
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Follow the directions in the recipe above.


Serve with coleslaw and any other Mexican side dishes that you like.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups New Mexico Hatch Chile Pepper Sauce or any green chile sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs or chicken tenders
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups canned finely chopped tomatoes
One (8 ounces) package shredded Mexican cheese blend
Tortillas

Directions

For the chicken


Melt butter in a large deep skillet with a cover over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Pour chicken broth over thighs and bring to a boil. Cover skillet and reduce heat to medium. Cook the chicken thighs until no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Remove the pan from the heat. Remove chicken from the chicken broth to a plate, reserving any broth in the pot in a small bowl. Shred the chicken and set aside.

For the sauce


Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook and stir onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper in hot oil until onion is soft about 6 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, reserved chicken broth, and the Green Hatch Chile Sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until thickened.
Stir the shredded chicken into the pot with the chile tomato sauce.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Spread half of the chile chicken sauce on the bottom of an oiled 9-inch pie dish and sprinkle with half the Mexican cheese blend over the sauce. Repeat with a second layer of chicken tomato chile sauce and cheese. Bake in the preheated oven until the sauce is bubbling, about 30 minutes.
Serve on heated tortillas and top with sour cream.

Coleslaw

Ingredients

6 ounces shredded cabbage
1⁄4 cup finely chopped green onions
1 cup shredded carrot
1 teaspoon honey or sugar substitute
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup heavy cream (whipping)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the coleslaw, carrots and green onion.
Put aside.
In a separate bowl, combine the honey, salt, pepper, celery seed, mayonnaise, whipping cream, vinegar, and lemon juice, using a whisk.
Pour over the vegetables, stir gently to mix.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Stir before serving.

 



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