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VEITNAMESE SUMMER ROLLS

VIBES: The Smiths – This Charming Man

These are A M A Z I N G. Summer rolls. So fresh and so cleanclean.

Vegetarian Vietnamese Summer Rolls 

-1 Cup shredded carrot
-1 Cup shredded purple cabbage
-1 Cup shredded cucumber
-2 avocados halved and sliced into strips
-handful of cilantro leaves
-4 rice paper wrappers

Slice, shred or julienne carrot, cabbage and cucumber. Slice avocados. (You can hand chop, use a mandoline or one of these amazing julienne peelers) Soak rice paper wrappers in warm water until pliable- about 2 minutes) Transfer the rice paper to a dry cutting board. Layer sprigs of cilantro first, followed by carrots, cabbage, cucumber and avocado on top of the rice paper. Tuck top and bottom ends over the vegetables and then roll like a burrito, the rice paper should stick and hold together. Serve with dipping sauce of choice, I like sweet chili sauce. Makes 4 summer rolls.

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PASTA PRIMAVERA

VIBES: BJ THE CHICAGO KID “DENIAL”

I first had this dish at a chain restaurant in a shopping mall in New Jersey. Yes.. Fine dining at its finest. When I have a great dish, wherever that may be, I obsessively try to recreate the recipe at home. So heres my interpretation of New-Jersey-Mall-Restaurant-Pasta-Primavera 🙂

PASTA PRIMAVERA

-1/2 lb of barilla thin spaghetti
-water for boiling pasta
-olive oil
-1 TSP of red pepper flakes
-4 garlic cloves diced
-1/2 cup red onion thinly sliced
-1/2 cup zuchinni- julienned
-1/2 cup red bell pepper – julienned
-1/2 cup yellow squash – julienned
-1/2 cup carrots – julienned
-1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
-Handful of grape tomatoes halved
-1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil
-1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
-salt and pepper to taste
-pat of butter
-1/2 cup of fresh grated parmesan or pecorino romano

Bring a 5.5. quart pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook for 5 of the recommended 6 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water, drain pasta and set aside. Meanwhile prepare all the veggies, chop, dice, julienne. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan (you can also use a wok or the pasta pot). Add the red pepper flakes and swirl for 1 minute. Add Garlic and onion and cook for another minute or two until fragrant. Add zucchini, squash, carrot and red bell pepper, add a few tbsp of the vegetable broth toss around making sure to evenly cook all veggies. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tomatoes and allow to cook for another 2 minutes. Add pasta, a few tbsp of the pasta water, the fresh herbs, and pat of butter and swirl in pan until everything comes together. You should have a nice little brothy sauce in the pan as well, but should not be soupy. Just enough liquid in the pan to coat everything and bring the flavors together. Add grated cheese and serve immediately.

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PINEAPPLE MINT + BLUEBERRY CARDAMOM PALETAS

VIBES: Ghostface “Biscuits” 

As soon as summer arrives, there is a steady supply of homemade ice pops in my freezer. I like combining ingredients to create new flavors. I had these Pineapple “Mojito” pops at a farm market yesterday, so here they are. I love the combo of blueberry and cardamom, this recipe is inspired by a pop in the Peoples Pops cookbook.

PINEAPPLE MINT PALETAS

-1/2 a  fresh pineapple, cored and chopped coarsely
-Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
-3-4 TBSP simple syrup
-Handful of fresh mint leaves

Cut, core and chop pineapple. Heat simple syrup and mint leaves in a saucepan on the stove, reserving 2 fresh mint leaves to the side for use later. As soon as its about to boil remove from heat and let the mint steep in the simple syrup. After about 5 minutes strain and discard mint leaves from simple syrup.. Put pineapple (reserve a few chunks to add to pops), remaining 2 fresh mint leaves, lemon juice and simple syrup into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into ice pop molds and add reserved pineapple chunks. Leave 1/4 inch of space at the top of the molds for expansion. Freeze for 1 hour then insert sticks. Return to freezer for another 3-4 hours then unmold and enjoy!

BLUEBERRY CARDAMOM PALETAS

-1/8 TSP ground cardamom
-1/4 cup simple syrup
-1 Pint fresh blueberries
-Juice of 1/2 Lemon

Heat simple syrup and cardamom in a saucepan on the stove. As soon as its about to boil remove from heat and let the cardamom steep in the simple syrup. As soon as the syrup is cool, combine blueberries, cardamom simple syrup and lemon in blender. Blend until smooth. Adjust sweetness (add more simple syrup if needed). Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve to filter out the blueberry skins. Pour strained mixture into ice pop molds, Leave 1/4 inch of space at the top of the molds for expansion. Freeze for 1 hour then insert sticks. Return to freezer for another 3-4 hours then unmold and enjoy!

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MINT INFUSED WATER

VIBES: Raekwon, Ghostface and Rick Ross “Molasses”

This doesn’t really qualify as a recipe, more like what to do with all that leftover mint after you made the pineapple mint paletas. Just steep the mint in a big jug of water, leave it in the fridge for a super refreshing drink. It gets better overnight. Add cucumbers, even better. Take it one step further, forget the water, add rum and sugar cane and make Mojitos.

MINT INFUSED WATER
-6 cups water
-One large handful of mint leaves

Combine mint and water and let steep in fridge for several hours or overnight. Note: You can add fresh strawberries, lemon, cucumber or any combination of summer fruits you have in the fridge.

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SUMMER CORN SALAD

VIBES: TOTO “GEORGY PORGY”

The motivation here was to cook something for the Fourth of July without actually having to cook. This combo of ingredients really just happened because I had this stuff in the fridge. (and I liked the color combos) You could easily swap the cilantro for basil, or add black beans. Lemon instead of lime. You get the picture.

FRESH SUMMER CORN SALAD
-4 ears of corn on the cob, cooked
-1/4 cup small red onion diced
-1/4 cup chopped cilantro
-1/4 cup red bell pepper diced
-Handful of cherry tomatoes halved
-Juice of one lime
-drizzle of olive oil
-splash of apple cider vinegar
-salt and pepper to taste

Shuck corn, removing husks and silks. Bring a large (5.5. quart) pot of water to a rolling boil. Add corn and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, chop and dice onion, bell pepper, tomato and cilantro. When the corn has cooled, cut off the cob. Combine all the veggies in a bowl and add lime juice, olive oil, splash of vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Toss together and serve.

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TRINIDADIAN DOUBLES

VIBES: Banks – Drowning

Sometimes you need to step out of your cooking comfort zones. This was one of those times. Chick Pea curry, no problem. But the fried-bread-pita-wrap-up-thingy was a challenge. Bara, as they call them in Trinidad. I first had these at Ali’s in Bed Stuy and i was instantly hooked. If you’re not ambitious enough to make the Bara, just grab some store bought pita or naan. Really this chick pea curry would go well with anything, kale salad, arugula, sautéed greens, quinoa, rice, etc. Traditionally you would pair it with a hot pepper sauce, and some mango or tamarind chutneys. I chose something different and made a quick pickled cucumber slaw. Delightful.

TRINIDAD DOUBLES (Adapted from this recipe.)

Channa (Chick Pea Curry)
-2 cups chick peas (garbanzo beans, channa)
-3 cups water
-2 tbsp. oil
-1 tsp. curry
-1 tsp. tumeric
-1 tsp. cumin
-1 tsp. garam masala
-1/2 tsp dried coriander
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
-1/2 onion, chopped finely
-5 leaves chadon beni, chopped finely (Cilantro is a fine substitute)
-juice of 1 lemon
-splash of vinegar
-salt and pepper to taste

Heat a heavy saucepan over medium heat. In a small bowl, mix the spices in 1/4 cup water, add to pot. Let spices cook for 1 min until fragrant, add garlic and onion. Saute until golden. Just before curry gets dry, add the chick peas, cover them fully with with water. (About 2-3 cups) Simmer for about 1 hour, add a bit more water if it cooks down too much. It should be a thick stew by the time its reduced. The beans should be tender, not too hard or too mushy. Add lemon and splash of vinegar at the very end. Add 1/2 tsp of sea salt and some cracked pepper to taste. Mash a few beans to thicken the sauce a bit. Add the chopped chadon beni (or cilantro) and you’re done!

BARA 
-1 3/4 cup of flour
-1/2 tsp tumeric
-1/2 tsp cumin
-1/2 tsp curry powder
-1 1/2 tsp tbsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp yeast
-1/8 tsp sugar
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 cup water
-1/2 tbsp oil

NOTE: You can see step by step instructions with pictures here. I halved the recipe and added a few additional spices.

Mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl, in another bowl combine 1/3 cup water, yeast and sugar. Allow the yeast and water to sit for about 5 minutes. Should have a foamy or milky consistency. Mix the dry ingredients into the yeast mixture, adding the reserved water little by little, knead until the mixture comes together into a sticky dough. It should not be too tough or dry, if its dry add more water. If its too wet add a bit of flour. When dough has come together, add a tbsp of oil to coat the dough, cover the bowl with a tea towel, set aside for 1 hour in a warm/dry place and allow the dough to rise. Allow it to double in volume. If it hasn’t doubled in an hour, give it more time. When dough has doubled, pull 2-3 inch balls from the dough and form flat round disks about 4-5 inches wide. Coat your hands with oil if its too sticky.

Heat a few tbsp of oil on medium high heat in a heavy saucepan and fry the disks of dough about 15-20 seconds per side. The dough should puff up. Don’t allow it to get too crispy or too brown, just enough to cook it through. Drain the cooked Dara on paper towels. Pile the channa and other toppings onto the Dara and serve immediately. This recipe yields about 10 Dara.

QUICK PICKLED CUCUMBERS
-1/2 medium purple onion – thinly sliced
-1 large cucumber – sliced into matchsticks
-1/2 tsp sea salt
-1/2 tsp sugar
-3 TBSP red vinegar
-cracked pepper
-splash of olive oil

Slice the cucumber into thin matchsticks, slice onion very thin. Combine in a bowl and add sugar, salt, vinegar, olive oil and pepper. Stir to combine. Allow to marinate for at least 15-20 mins. Stirring occasionally. You can store this in the fridge and the flavor will get better with time.

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CACIO E PEPE

VIBES: The Lox – Go Head

Cacio e Pepe. Cheese and pepper pasta. The ultimate comfort food. Costs almost nothing to make, with ingredients you already have in the house. The only rule is: USE GOOD CHEESE. By ‘good cheese’ I don’t mean that kraft-green-can-parmesan-joint they sell in every supermarket. Go to the dairy section and grab a container of freshly grated Pecorino Romano.  Anyone can make this.

CACIO E PEPE

-Sea salt
-1/2lb of pasta (I used Barilla thin spaghetti)
-2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
-1 Tsp. Fresh cracked pepper
-1/2 cup Pecorino Romano
-1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
-Pinch of fresh lemon zest (optional)

Bring 3 quarts salted water to a boil in a 5qt pot. While water is heating, prepare your ingredients. Crack the pepper, grate cheese, cut butter, etc. Add spaghetti to boiling water, cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water in a mug. Drain about 1 minute before tender (Barilla thin spaghetti cooks in 6 minutes, so you’d drain in 5 minutes)
Return pot to burner and melt butter over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan to toast the pepper. Cook for 1 minute. Add pasta, add pasta water, stir. Add cheeses and toss with tongs until combined. Cheese, butter, pepper, water should all come together in broth like sauce. Transfer to bowls and serve immediately.

*Optional – Add a pinch of lemon zest right before serving.

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BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

VIBES: Twin Shadow – Run My Heart

I went to the grocery store to buy paper towels and left with three pints of blueberries. They were on sale. They’re in season. So thats how these happened. Im not going to say that baking muffins in the heat of July is the brightest idea, but thats my story.

BLUEBERRY MUFFINS (Via this recipe @ Smitten Kitchen)

-5 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 large egg
-3/4 cup greek yogurt
-1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
-1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 cup fresh blueberries (You can also use frozen, don’t defrost)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or cooking spray. Beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well, then add yogurt then lemon zest. Place flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a sifter and sift into the batter mixture. Mix until combined. Gently fold in the blueberries. The dough will be thick and sticky. Almost like a cookie dough. Scoop dough into muffin tin. I used a large tin (6 muffins) this recipe will yield 6 large muffins or 9 small muffins. The cups should be filled 3/4 of the way with batter. Bake for 30 mins or until a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean. Let cool on rack, serve with a pat of butter.

NOTE: This is not a super rich typical blueberry muffin recipe, its not overly sweet and the greek yogurt gives it a lighter feel, the lemon zest adds a fresh element. If you’re looking for a lighter tasting recipe this is for you -however it is definitely not the buttery, sweet, coffee cake-like muffin recipe.

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GUACAMOLE

VIBES:The Clash – The Magnificent Seven + Police and Thieves

Whats better than fresh guacamole? I mean..really. Put it on a sandwich, burrito, eat it with chips, eat it by the spoonful. I won’t judge you. It goes like this:  Avocado, Lime, Onion, Cilantro, Sea Salt, Jalapeño. That. Is. All.

FRESH GUACAMOLE
-2 Ripe Avocados (should be slightly soft to the touch)
-1/4 cup finely chopped onions
-Juice of one lime
-Generous pinch of sea salt
-2 TBSP chopped Cilantro
-Chopped jalapeños to taste (you can also substitute red pepper flakes)

Mash the onions, salt and lime juice with a mortar and pestle (if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, just mash it with a fork in a bowl) let the lime marinate with the onion for a minute. Add avocado and keep mashing, mix in cilantro and jalapeños. Taste. Adjust flavors as needed. Done.

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HUMMUS

VIBES: The Black Keys – Everywhere I Go

Use this recipe for a sandwich. This one is a good start. It will take you 10 minutes to make. Dip for chips. Dip for veggies. Eat it by the spoonful. Either way its all good.

CLASSIC HUMMUS
-One 15 oz can of chick peas (you can also use dried beans)
-1/4 cup lemon juice, or juice of 1 large lemon
-zest of one large lemon
-1/4 cup tahini
-Half a garlic clove, crushed
-1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
-1/2 tsp cumin
-2 Tbsp water
-Olive oil and Dash of paprika for serving

Rinse chickpeas under running water. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse for 30 seconds, add 1 tbsp of water until mixture appears smooth. Add more water if hummus is too thick or clumpy. You can add a dash of olive oil as well. Scrape sides of bowl and pulse again until mixture comes together into a light smooth consistency. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of paprika. Store in an airtight container. Will keep for 1 week in the fridge.
(Adapted from this recipe)