Archive for the ‘Zucchini’ Category

Chicken Soup: Peruvian Chicken Quinoa Soup – Caldo de Gallina con Quinoa

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

2010 went out with a bang. A big one:  I ended the year with a nasty cold (that has just finally run its course) and then injured my foot, which will take longer to recover.

For the last several weeks, I’ve been feeling a bit blue inside and out. So, what better a remedy than chicken soup? It’s not poshy. It’s real food – food you eat when you need something nutritional and comforting.

Caldo de gallina con quinoa (chicken soup with quinoa) was the first meal I ate in Cuzco, Peru. The city is the primary entry point for all the folks like me who set out to visit Machu Picchu and sits at about 11,000 feet in altitude, which means it gets chilly at night. The chicken soup was memorable, however, the alpaca that I also ordered was not.

This Peruvian chicken soup is a brothy fix that will take away the chill, clear the head and sinuses, and soothe your soul. It’s also packed with protein since it has chicken and the “Mother Grain” – quinoa. Read more about the history of quinoa and its nutritional benefits in my previous post.

It’s the perfect time of year for chicken soup. Have a happy and healthy 2011!

Also, if you love the outdoors or if you appreciate architecture, Machu Picchu is a must see. If you’re up for it, I’d also recommend hiking the Inca Trail to get there. It makes the journey to this sacred place – even more spectacular. My husband and I, along with two friends, made this journey in 2006 – with some unexpected adventure (but, that’s another story).

(more…)

Print & If you liked this post, please share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks

Apple: Moroccan Chicken Apple Stew

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

savory chicken apple stew tajine

Are you like the majority of Americans who only eat apples as a raw snack or in sweet dishes? If yes, you’re not alone – only a few years ago, I was the same.

More recently, I’ve taken cue from other cultures that use apples in savory dishes, much like one would use a potato – apples add a tart and sweet dimension to soups, stews and salads.

Last fall, I wrote about the Moroccan and North African cookery and how they use fruit such as apples, pears, quinces, apricots and raisins for savory dishes. This chicken and apple tagine is a twist of the Moroccan Lamb and Pear Tagine I posted. Of course, you could easily substitute pears or use both.

Although I still haven’t bought a tagine (the cooking vessel), this dish is a tagine – a reference to the rich Moroccan stew. The chicken version has more veggies (carrots, zucchini, and potatoes) and garbanzo beans. This is pure comfort food, especially when paired with couscous.

October is national apple month – so try apples in a savory dish. What’s your favorite non-sweet apple dish?

Tidbits on Apples:

  1. In 2004, U.S. per capita total apple consumption was 50.4 pounds per person, according to the U.S. Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. For fresh fruit, Americans eat 18.6 pounds of apples per person, second to bananas.
  2. The high pectin and malic acid in raw apples are good for digestion and elimination. Leave the skin on for extra nutritional benefits. The flavonoids found in apples are believed to help prevent cancer.
  3. The acid content of apples makes them a natural breath freshener.

(more…)

Print & If you liked this post, please share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks

Zucchini: Mexican Creamy Zucchini Corn Soup – Sopa de Calabacitas

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

It’s hinting of fall here in Colorado – crisp mornings and more frequent cool evenings. During the day, there’s still plenty of sunshine to keep my garden growing. And, that of course, means more zucchini.

This recipe for sopa de calabacitas y elote, Mexican zucchini corn soup, is simple and perfect for an almost-fall evening.

The recipe is mine but was inspired by a creamy zucchini soup I ate many, many years ago in Cuernavaca, Mexico. At the time, I left my gig in Austin, Texas to study and travel in Mexico. It was a life-changing experience – my first time traveling abroad. I lived part of the time with a local family and lucky for me, in addition to improving my Spanish, I dined on some amazing food.

I credit Josephina, the mujer de the casa (lady of the house), with introducing me to a vast repertoire of Mexican cuisine. She made exquisite meals every day – sometimes made with fancy ingredients and preparations and other times simple. Our main meal of the day was served early afternoon and almost always started with sopa (soup).

One day she prepared a creamy zucchini soup that I immediately adored – simple, light and comforting.

Her version was a pureed zucchini with stock and cream (which could easily be adapted from the recipe below). My version has additional texture from the corn and diced zucchini, plus fresh cilantro.

Enjoy summer’s bounty these last few weeks.

(more…)

Print & If you liked this post, please share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks

Zucchini: Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini – Kousa Mahshi

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Life can get hectic. Trying to keep up with the many things pulling us in different directions – family, work, commitments, community . . . Sometimes it feels like the world around us is moving at an unnerving pace. After awhile it takes its toll and I have to find my center.

We all have a few methods that work. For me, yoga or an escape into nature away from cell phones, computers and crowds zens me out. And, of course, cooking is also on this list.

A few days ago I got into my “me time” while cooking these kousa mihshi, Lebanese stuffed zucchini (also called/spelled kousa mihshi, and kussa mihshi).

For the hour that it took to prep ingredients I was “present” – mind and body, enjoying the sensory experience:  coring several zucchini and hearing the corking sound it made with each first cut and tug of the pulp; chopping fragrant fresh herbs: inhaling the warmth from cinnamon and allspice as I measured them out; mashing raw meat with bare hands; and stuffing narrow tubes of zucchini with messy fingers.

This is not a difficult recipe just one that takes a little more time. I could have rushed through the process but why? It was an opportunity to slow down and enjoy the beauty of something I created – from garden to table.

Stuffed vegetables like these kousa mahshi are frequently a Sunday staple but are also served at weddings, parties, and other special gatherings. On such occassions, they are usually prepared communally.

That day, in my kitchen, somehow I felt connected to the generations of Lebanese women who’d made stuffed zucchini for their families and extended families.  This is a meal that is as much about process as the final plate.

Sahtayn! – the Arabic version of “bon appétit,” which means “two healths to you.”

Tidbits on Stuffed Vegetables:

  1. The origin of stuffed vegetables is uncertain, although the Turks and Greeks claim ownership. Originally, they were served in palace kitchens to the wealthy and ruling class.
  2. Traditionally, lamb is used rather than beef to make the meat and rice filling and very traditional recipes for stuffed vegetables like kousa mahshi called for frying them first before stewing.

(more…)

Print & If you liked this post, please share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks

Zucchini Balsamella – Zucchini Bechamel

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

My garden runneth over with zucchini. I know. I’m not alone.

About this time of year the excitement in finding one or several zucchini beneath a canopy of green begins to wear thin. If you’re like some of my gardening friends you take the easy way out and give most of them to friends and neighbors.

Yes, it’s nice to share. But, don’t do it because you’re uninspired.  When I first started this blog I posted two excellent recipes for zucchini:

- Calabacitas con elote – a Mexican zucchini and corn succotash
- Kabak mucveri – Turkish zucchini fritters

And, because I’m a zucchini aficionado, I have a few more recipes coming your way, including this one for zucchini béchamel.

If you’re unfamiliar, not to worry, béchamel is a white sauce made out of a simple roux of butter, flour and milk. It is considered one of the mother sauces of French cuisine. So, when I came upon a recipe for Tortino di Zucchini, a crustless zucchini tart with béchamel sauce in the famed Italian cookbook, The Art of Eating Well by Pelligrino Artusi, I was curious.

Artusi explains that the Italian “balsamella,” is the “. . . equivalent to the béchamel sauce of the French, except theirs is more complicated.” His version omits the French step of cooking the sauce with onion and cloves.

According to many, The Art of Eating Well is the grandfather of Italian cookbooks, treasured by home cooks like the Joy of Cooking is to American audiences – except it dates back more than a century. . . In 1891, Artusi a retired Florentine silk merchant, self-published La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiare bene (The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well). It is a collection of recipes from all the different regions of Italy – although it is heavily Tuscan-influenced. The cookbook has been in continuous print since 1894 and was finally translated into English in 1996.

The recipes sometimes have obscure ingredient measurements and scant instructions, which I think adds to its charm. Since most of these recipes were collected from home cooks, it makes sense – a pinch of this or a handful of that.

Since the first time I made the zucchini tart last summer, I’ve modified it significantly for the modern cook. And, I think it has more in common with a casserole than a tart. And, technically my version is a Mornay sauce (since it has cheese). It’s not a quick dish to make, but it is worth the effort. To make it easier, make up the béchamel a day or two in advance and reheat.

The final result is semi-crisp zucchini baked in a creamy cheese sauce that hints of nutmeg. It’s a perfect dish to take to a potluck or for those occassions you’re hankering for macaroni and cheese – but, this one is vegetable based.

Buon appetito!

(more…)

Print & If you liked this post, please share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks

Quinoa: African Peanut Quinoa Soup

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

African Quinoa Peanut Soup_ForkFingersChopsticks.com

If you haven’t tried quinoa yet, this toothsome African peanut soup will surely lure you in. It has a slew of nutritious vegetables in a creamy, peppery broth with lovely bits of crunchy quinoa. The soup makes the rotation in my comfort food repertoire several times during the cold-weather season because it is both healthy and decadent.

Although quinoa is native to the South American Andes region (read about its origins), it is now cultivated around the world – from Colorado to the Himalayas to Ethiopia and other areas of East Africa. This dish has a definite African influence – the use of nuts to thicken the stew, and staple ingredients such as sweet potatoes and okra. Frankly, it’s the peanut-based sauce that makes this dish a stand-out. If you don’t like peanuts, you won’t appreciate this dish. But, for nut fiends, you’re in for a treat.

Yes, I’m one of those people who eats spoonfuls of nut butter just because I can. So, when I came across the original recipe for this soup online at FoodDownUnder.com several years ago (the original recipe is no longer on the site), I knew I had to try it. Over the years, I’ve fine-tuned it:  the recipe below is more aggressive with spices and chiles; it also has more veggies, peanut butter and quinoa; and, the consistency is that of a soup rather than a thick stew.

This recipe doubles easily and has been a hit at parties with vegetarians and meat-eaters. It’s a great way to introduce quinoa into your diet. And, if you’re already eating the “Mother Grain,” its a must-have recipe.

Tidbits on Quinoa:

  1. As quinoa cooks, the pearls of germ separate and form tiny spirals. The cooked grain is tender, with a slight crunchiness from the germ (see spirals in image below).
  2. Colorado, with its high altitude and cold climates, was crucial testing ground for introducing quinoa to the United States in the mid-70s. Don McKinley and Steve Gorad, founded the Quinoa Corporation in Boulder, Colo., and first planted quinoa seeds in their backyards and eventually in plots in the San Luis Valley. However, most quinoa sold in the United States is imported from South America.
  3. A quinoa plant can grow to anywhere from three feet to over ten feet tall. Plant stems can be straight or branched, and seeds can vary in color from white, yellow, gray, light brown, pink, black to red.

(more…)

Print & If you liked this post, please share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks

Zucchini: Turkish Fritters – Kabak Mucveri

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Turkish Zucchini Fritters

You probably have plenty of recipes that call for zucchini baked, grilled and stewed. I do too. So the first time I tasted a zucchini fritter at a community garden potluck, I was thrilled and inspired to do some research . . . What’s a fritter?

Technically, something that’s coated in a batter and fried. There are a lot of versions out there, most calling for grated zucchini in a batter with some sort of cheese. Personally, I’ve become partial to the Turkish version, Kabak Mucveri, because I really like feta and mint. Kabak Mucveri is typically eaten as a hot or cold appetizer and is served among several fingerfoods as a meze like tapas, but it’s also a great side dish. In Turkish cuisine, vegetables shine.

My version is light but not skimpy on flavor (I ate five the first time I made them). They have a crunchy outside and a flavorful center with the zucchini slightly crisp and bits of sharp feta and refreshing herbs in every bite. I prefer them served hot but they are also yummy at room temperature.

Tidbits – Zucchini:

  1. Since squash was domesticated in the Americas, most summer squash were introduced to the Old World after 1492, the time of European colonization. To the Romans, squash resembled other cucurbits belonging to other plant species and became integrated into the Mediterranean diet. Squash received the name of “calabash” and in Syria was called “zucco.” From this comes its present-day name, zucchini, according to the Encyclopedia of Food and Culture.
  2. Squash is now cultivated throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, China, India, and Indonesia.
  3. Zucchini has a high water content (95%), which makes the vegetable low in calories – about 25 calories per raw cup and nutritionally contain folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C.

(more…)

Print & If you liked this post, please share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks

Zucchini: Mexican Succotash – Calabacitas Con Elote

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Calabacitas con Elote - H

Zucchini? Yes, zucchini. I’m launching my food blog with this humble, under-appreciated summer squash. Why? Because it’s used way, way too much to make stuff like zucchini bread (although I do make my own version). And, some folks are itching for another way to use all those zucchini that proliferate the gardens and markets this time of year. I know what you’re thinking . . . blah. But, you’re wrong.  It’s all about how it’s prepared.

In this recipe, the zucchini’s fresh, buttery taste is complimented by crisp corn kernels and the sweet juices of tomato and Mexican seasoning. It’s basically a succotash and it’s been served up in my family and other Mexican kitchens for generations.

This is comfort food more often eaten at home rather than in Mexican restaurants, especially those in the States, where the menu favors greasy, fried tacos over vegetables. This dish is just some of the healthy Mexican food I enjoy and it’s quick and easy to make. Of course there are many variations of calabacitas – some omit the corn, others the tomatoes. I like it with both.

Tidbits on Zucchini:

  1. Squash was domesticated as early as 10,000 B.P in central Mexico and Peru, as well as other parts of the Americas. As such, squash was an integral staple in Mexican cuisine, along with corn and beans, according to the Encyclopedia of Food and Culture.
  2. The word calabacita is derived from the Spanish word calabaza, meaning squash; the diminutive “ita” changes the meaning to little squash.
  3. Zucchini is like the tomato – botanically a fruit but thought to be a veggie.

(more…)

Print & If you liked this post, please share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks