Monday, March 16, 2009

Roasted bell peppers salad

A German friend of mine is an "India"-freak, if I may say so. She is a vegetarian, loves Indian food (she had lived in England for a year), and has fullfilled her dream of seeing India on a trip with me and wishes to go again. Last year she even tried a class called "Bollywood dancing" with another colleague of hers. The first time I heard about it I had to laugh. Though I did not want to be mean to her tried to resist it not to make fun of it. But, with time I realised that I am the one not up to date, as it looks like, it is a serious business now. I was recently reading in the online New York Times an article and my eyes fell on this article heading in the sidebar on Bollywood Excersise (note: not Hollywood, just in case you didn't know about it) in Health blog column "Well" at NYT.
Bollywood is big in coming here, so much so that they now show Indian movies, as always translated in German, on German TV channels like RTL. And I have heard from a French friend of mine who is now living there, that there also they get to see these translated movies on TV. And from what I know they produce Bollywood films now keeping the 'global' viewers in mind with the third generation of 'Indians' growing up outside India and globalisation showing its impacts on Indian culture as well.

Now coming back to the lovely roasted bell peppers. I had been wanting to eat them like this since a while until I finally took out the book and checked the ingredients, got some nice fresh bell peppers and the anchovies in salt and brine I required for it and got going that very day.

Roasted mediterranian bell peppers

Recipe by PG of My Kitchen Stories

Based on a recipe from the book Le Cordon Bleu 'Vegetables'

1 red belll pepper, washed, cleaned, stem and seeds removed, and cut into stips lengthwise
1 yellow bell pepper, (same as above)
1 green bell pepper,
(same as above) - I substituted it with red bell peppers
1 red onion, halved vertically and then thinly sliced
olive oil to brush on bell peppers while roasting/grilling
2-3 tbsp capers, optionally with a few tsp of the brine (if using capers in salt, soak in warm water and use the water)
4-5 anchovies, finely chopped
3 -4 tbsp fresh basil leaves, washed and chiffonaded
2-3 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
1 garlic, finely chopped
5 tbsp olive oil (EVOO)
1-2 tsp lemon juice, as per taste

fresh green lettuce leaves like Roma
some Italian bread (like Ciabatta), sliced

  • wash the salad leaves and set aside
  • Clean and cut the peppers into 6-8 long strips each and brush the skin with olive oil
  • spread the sliced onions in a small flat baking dish
  • place the bell peppers on a baking try with the cut skin showing upwards along with the onion and grill in a preheated oven for 20 minutes till the skin gets charred and the peppers have turned soft
  • set the onion aside to cool down
  • place the bell peppers in a freezer bag, close it for a few minutes till the peppers cool down a bit
  • remove the peppers from the bag and peel the skin
  • In the mean time chop anchovies, herbs, capers and garlic and mix with the olive oil and lemon juice
  • add the peeled bell peppers along with the onions to it and refrigerate for a few hours to let them take up flavour
  • serve with some Italian bread slices and fresh salad leaves
NOTE: I for got to add the onion while taking the first picture, but you see it in the next one, which i just about remembered to take. :)

In addition to the salad and the bread I had also boiled some potatoes and to make them a little more flavourful I mashed the potatoes and fried a small onion in 1 tbsp olive oil in a fry pan till golden and added the potatoes on top of it and pressed it down and cooked for another two minutes to have a 'sort of' rösti.
We all enjoyed our meal fully. I had put a bit too much of olive oil at the very end before serving. But, no one of us minded that. :D I think I'll have to do some dieting soon, I've been eating so uncontrolled lately :I
Recently we got to know of sunny boy's allergies, right now we know that he is allergic, though mildly, to wheat, rye and spelt. Haven't tested it with other things like barley and he seems to be doing fime with oats, though I'm not 100% sure. The doctor says the important thing is to see how his body reacts to the food than the tests. But since we don't use barley as such much I don't care. Luckily he is only mildly allergic and we can live with it. Luckily his Kindergarten can offer gluten free food so I don't need to worry in that regard.
So, I always have to have an option for sunny boy which he can eat. Here it was potatoes, or we would have simply eaten bread, toasted or plain withthe peppers.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Carribean adventure

This is how I feel like calling it and it took me some time to have enough confidence to try out these Carribean recipes. Like always I wanted to make things more complicated and wanted to get a feel of what Carribean food is all about before trying out something. Until I realised that the best way do it was to 'try out' the recipes than to just keep reading them all.
Initially I had no time at all and at the end I had just about a couple of days time left. Then came the problem of finding sources which I felt were reliable enough, but this post of Meeta at WFLH helped solve both the problems. Even now, I just about managed to cook these recipes I had choosen, to my utter happiness.

To make sure I got the 'Carribean' feeling just right I tried to buy all the ingredients I could get hold of yesterday. As I also happened to go to the city centre, I went to the Chinese shop there for cilantro and bought dried 'American' black beans (according to the packet) - not canned - and ground allspice from the local supermarket. I haven't used alllspice in this form so far and, infact, the last time I had bought whole allspice was more than 10 years ago and while cleaning up the kitchen on our move few years ago the remaining packet was discarded and I, somehow, never required to buy it again. But, things will change now that I have taken up this challenge! *smiling big*

These are the recipes I decided upon and took help of, after going through the links given by Meeta:

Carribean Rice and Carribean Vegetables (Sweet potato and Zucchini)

I tried to make them as true to the recipes as possible as this was my very first trial at cooking or, for that matter, eating Carribean food. However, I changed the first recipe slightly as I felt that a combination with sweet potato made the use of sqash unnecessary and because I just could not get this recipe of a Cuban Salsa Verde out of my mind and at the very end decided to add it as well to the rice and, despite my fears, it was fantastic!
Since I have modified the recipe of the Rice dish, I will write down the recipe here:

Caribbean Coconut Rice with Cuban Salsa Verde

Recipes by PG of My Kitchen Stories

A combination of two recipes of Caribbean Rice and Rice with Cuban Salsa Verde


1-1/2 cups chicken broth (I used vegetable broth)
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup parboiled rice (I used regular Basmati rice)
2 tbsp olive oil (EVOO)
1 cup red onion, finely chopped
1-3/4 cups (1/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (I left this out)
1 tsp chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (I used dried thyme)
1/8 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp black pepper from the mill
2 handfuls of black beans, soaked for 6-8 hours, rinsed and drained 3x in between
4 tbsp Cuban Salsa Verde*

  • cook the black beans in a pressure cooker or a deep saucepan till very tender
  • Bring the vegetable broth and coconut milk to a boil in a saucepan over high heat untill it starts to boil, add rice.
  • Cover with a lid, reduce heat to minimum and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and uncover lid.
  • In the meantime, heat 2 tbsp oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add chopped onion, sauté for a few miutes till golden brown.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add squash, if using, and cook until done, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in thyme and remaining spices, stir for a minute and add the black beans.

  • Add rice to beans mixture, stirring gently and not too much to combine but not to break the rice too much.
  • prepare the salsa verde by grinding all the ingredients together and cooking in the microwave for 2 mintes at 900 W (optionally for 5 minutes on stovetop) until it starts to throw bubbles
  • eat warm or cold combined with a salad

Cuban Salsa Verde*

1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro leaves, washed throughly and chopped coarsely
2 green onions, cleaned and chopped
1 tbsp lime juice (I used lemon juice)
1 tbsp olive oil (EVOO)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried crushed red pepper (I used black pepper and a pinch of red chilli powder)

Grind all the ingredients in a food processor or with a hand mixer until smooth.

oh! What a lovely combination did it make! So flavourful. We all loved the spices in the sweet potato, even sunny boy, who initially was abit hesitant , but after persueing hin to tr it again, he finally was of the opinion that 'it tastes good'. I have a small portion of it left for me to enjoy tomorrow.
It feels good to send these entries, though almost last minute, to Carribean Cooking, this month's Monthly Mingle at Meeta's What's For Lunch Honey.

And it feels so good to be back blogging after a long break!