Picadillo is Spanish for “hash.” Essentially, this is a Cuban version of the good old American mélange, eaten on its own or used as a filling for empanadas. Spanish influences, specifically Andalusian, are obvious due to the addition of olives and raisins. Picadillo is often served topped with hard-cooked or fried eggs and is usually accompanied by fried plantains.
This traditional garlic soup from Castile may very well be what sustained Don Quixote in his windmill attacks. Continue reading
If you are looking for the perfect partner to serve with plain-Jane grilled or roasted meat or fish, this Italian version of fried potatoes with peppers is deliciously different. You can use any combination of sweet or even mildly hot peppers (throw in a hot banana pepper for more spice), but I recommend varying the colors for a pretty presentation.
Depending upon the source you consult, this roasted red pepper and walnut dip is Armenian, Arabian, Turkish or Syrian in origin. In any case, it is healthful, delicious and a welcome addition to any mezes platter. I like to serve it with warm pita bread or cucumber slices. If you are not meat-averse, this dip can also be used as a sauce for kebabs.
Nasi goreng is Indonesia’s national dish. At its simplest, it is cold leftover rice, seasoned with sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) and whatever leftovers and spices the cook has on hand. Often it is topped with a fried egg and served for breakfast. Of course, it can be much more elaborate, depending on the circumstances under which it will be served. My version leans toward simplicity, making it a quick and easy weekday meal.
Tagine is the name for a type of earthenware vessel as well as the stew-like dishes that are cooked in it. They are popular throughout North Africa and differ among locales. This one is my own invention, but the addition of harissa gives it a Tunisian spin. I love the juxtaposition of hot and sweet flavors. It is easy enough to make for a weeknight meal, but with a tiny bit of dressing up, it is also perfect for guests
This recipe hails from northern Thailand. It is a kind of all-purpose sauce: you can use it as a dip for rice crackers or raw vegetables, or as a topping for plain rice or noodles, or stir-fried vegetables. Depending on the chile you use, it can be a bit fiery—that’s to be expected, as it is Thai, after all.
- Grill basket or baking sheet required
- Food processor required
- 5 hot banana peppers
- 2 shallots, peeled and quartered
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- 8 oz cherry tomatoes (about 11⁄2 cups/375 mL) 250 g
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro 30 mL
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice 30 mL
- 1 tbsp fish sauce 15 mL
- Preheat barbecue to high or preheat broiler
- 1. Place banana peppers, shallots and garlic in a grill basket on preheated barbecue or arrange on a baking sheet and place under preheated broiler. Grill or broil, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking, until shallots and garlic are blackened and pepper skin is blistered, about 8 minutes for garlic and shallots, and 10 minutes for peppers.
- 2. Transfer peppers to a bowl, cover with a plate and let cool enough to handle. Remove stems and lift off skins. Transfer peppers along with accumulated juices to food processor fitted with the metal blade.
- 3. Add shallots and garlic and pulse until chopped and well combined, 5 or 6 times. Add tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and fish sauce and pulse until chopped and well combined, about 5 times. Season to taste with salt. Transfer to a serving bowl and let stand at room temperature until the flavors are melded, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
- Makes about 2 cups (500 mL)
- You want a relatively large and not-too-hot chile for this salsa—that is the best substitute for the prik num chile that would likely be used in this recipe
In Chinese medicine, which is fundamentally based on the balancing principles of yin and yang, heating foods are those that warm the body, feeding it with energy. Balance, which includes establishing equilibrium among the five flavors (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami), helps the body’s vital spirit, called qi, to flow freely and support excellent health. Need I say more? Hot, sour, salty, sweet and loaded with umami from the soy sauce and mushrooms, which are also known to strengthen the immune system, this soup has all the makings of a restorative tonic. And it tastes good, too!
The addition of grilled chicken adds a flavorful and festive note to this simple chili. I like to use leftover chicken alla diavola (marinated in extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and chile peppers), which we often make on the barbecue. It adds pleasant hints of citrus and hot pepper to the mix, but if you’re opting for convenience, use a store-bought rotisserie chicken instead. You won’t be disappointed.
My paella is not traditionally Spanish. It is more like a Portuguese dish in the sense that it combines seafood and meat. But I’ve been making it for years and it is a family favorite—one that, I might add, I often serve to guests. Served with crusty bread, a simple green salad and some good white wine, it makes a perfect Friday night dinner with friends.