Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Sometimes we forget how easy it can be to make certain food and drink. While watching Lemon Tree recently, I was reminded of how simple it is to make lemonade; all you need is the fresh juice of a lemon, a little sugar to taste, and cool water. Plus, with spring's new growth starting to peek out, I was in the mood for something that reminds me of warm, sunny days.
Here, I added the juice of a small orange for more complexity of flavor. If you want to make the flavor even more interesting, you can add a couple drops of orange blossom water to your glass.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Minestrone soup always reminds me of my elementary school days. Though that soup had wheat pasta, you can easily switch it out for rice pasta to make it gluten-free. I made this soup vegan as well. This time around, I included onion, fennel, garlic, carrot, Italian green beans, pink beans, zucchini, spinach, and rice pasta. I added a little tomato paste for color and flavor, as well as basil and fresh oregano.
Monday, March 19, 2012
I made a basic Thai red curry (instructions often on containers of curry paste) with wild shrimp but thinned it out with some water, and then adjusted the flavor with some fish sauce, and extra galagangal, lemongrass, dry kaffir lime leaves, and Thai basil. The galangal, lime leaves, and basil were of the dried variety, because I unfortunately can't find fresh ones in these parts. I served it over rice noodles. That's it!
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Tabbouleh: without any doubt, one of my favorite foods since I was a baby Diana. But, oh, the injustice that has been done to it! If you are someone who is not familiar with Arab food, go to Google and do an image search for tabbouleh. See those pictures that feature a ton of grain? That's not tabbouleh. Inexplicably, much of the tabbouleh made or marketed by non-Arabs has turned into something akin to pilaf. Once, in horror, I watched a television chef making "tabbouleh" by cooking grains in chicken stock and then adding a few tablespoons of parsley.
Real tabbouleh is a verdant, fresh parsley salad. Traditionally it contains bulgur (burghul in Arabic), a wheat product that you add uncooked to the salad. That means traditional tabbouleh contains gluten, making it unsafe to eat. The good news is that tabbouleh can be made gluten-free with no effort! A giant, family-sized salad bowl of traditional tabbouleh contains only a few tablespoons of burghul. So what happens to the texture and flavor of this salad when you leave the burghul out? Nothing! It's still as delicious as it always was! I see no reason to muddy this vibrant salad with quinoa or other gluten-free substitutes for the burghul.
Tabbouleh, being a salad, is easy to make, but does take a little bit of time. Get about two very large bunches of parsley for every 3 people you plan to serve. After washing the parsley very well, remove the leaves from the long stems. You can keep the smaller stems (the ones attached directly to the leaves) on if you like; I usually do. Traditionally, all the parsley is minced by hand. However, if you are short on time, energy, or knife skills, you can divide the parsley into batches and give them quick pulses in a food processor. (I was in a hurry this time around, so that's what I did here.) Be careful not to overdo it. You don't want to turn the parsley into soup. It should be noted that when you mince your parsley by hand, it's fluffier, which is preferable to the sort of pressed-down quality of the machine-chopped results. But either method is fine.
Then, finely chop (by hand, of course) some plum tomatoes (making the pieces about the size of a large bean), mince some onion, and mince a bunch of fresh mint. Dress with extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, sea salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. I usually refrigerate the salad for about an hour, because it tastes best chilled and when all the ingredients have had time to marry. In fact, this is the only salad I know of that tastes better the next day!
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Nothing very fancy here. I bought frozen langoustines from Trader Joe's and sauteed them in olive oil with a little onion, lots of minced garlic, and some parsley, with sea salt to taste. I served it over rice cooked with raisins. (If you haven't eaten rice with raisins, you haven't lived.)