Spicy Cumin Scented Broccoli

Spicy Broccoli with Cumin

Spicy Broccoli with Cumin

After a 4-week hiatus, I give you this healthy broccoli recipe. I wish I could say that I’ve kicked my sugar addiction and the focus of this blog will now be classic healthy recipes, but that might as well be an early April fools joke. I have plenty of decadent desserts and sweet recipes in the pipeline! I will continue to throw in a healthy recipe or two, especially as the weather gets warmer and we begin to think about squeezing into that bathing suit again. This Spicy Cumin Scented Broccoli recipe is a great way to change-up that boring green vegetable routine but still keep it healthy.

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Greek Kale Salad

Greek Kale Salad | imPECKableeats.com

Greek Kale Salad

Have you met my trendy friend Kale yet? This popular leafy vegetable continues to be a health craze. I am admittedly late to the party: this was my first kale salad (gasp). I’ve always been apprehensive about using this high fiber vegetable, rich in vitamins and minerals. Its rough texture seems almost too healthy to hold it’s own as the main leafy part of a salad. Lets face it – no one wants to feel like they’re eating cardboard, right? But the idea of a Greek kale salad seemed much more enticing. I love Greek salad and it just so happened that a friend of mine was serving what she referred to as Greek kale salad at get together. It was brilliant. Classic chunky Greek salad vegetables and feta combined with leafy kale and a lemony vinaigrette. It was the perfect kale salad for those of us that are scared of kale salads.

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Curried Carrots and Peppers

Curried Carrots and Peppers

Curried Carrots and PepperIndian food is often my go to comfort food. When the warm intense spices fill the kitchen with the scents of cumin, coriander, and mustard seeds, I feel at home. I also don’t feel guilty after eating a big meal because most of what I make from this unique spicy cuisine, is healthy (unlike other comfort foods like mac and cheese and mashed potatoes that I also adore). Indian food isn’t usually considered diet friendly because Indian restaurants often use a lot of oil and cream. And the Samosa, arguably the most popular Indian dish/appetizer, is basically potatoes and vegetables fried in dough. But since the traditional spices are strong and flavorful, it’s easy to make tasty Indian dishes with very little fat – especially vegetables. This recipe for Curried Carrots and Peppers uses just a little oil, spices, lemon juice, and touch of sugar. It makes a flavorful side dish (or main dish if you are full from all of that holiday food).

Surprisingly, this recipe is from “The Art of Good Cooking.” It continues to amaze me how my grandmother managed to replicate and publish such ethnic recipes over 50 years ago, when so many side dishes still came from a can. Living in Harlem, she was surrounded by diversity and learned many of these recipes from friends or neighbors. This dish, titled “Oza’s Carrots and Peppers” in her book, is an example of that influence. An obvious question is, who’s Oza? The introduction to the recipe mentions that Oza was an Indian friend and neighbor. Not long ago, I heard from Oza’s son. He mentioned that Oza, now 92, still has fond memories of my grandmother and grandfather.

The only modifications I made to the original recipe is the amount of oil and curry powder (I believe curry powder was less potent in the 1960’s). I also prefer to make my own curry powder by using a combination of ground coriander, cumin, and turmeric (proportions below). The original recipe already had the fat, acid, and sweet components to make it the perfect party for your taste buds. As we fatten our bellies with baked goods and rich foods this holiday season, these spiced vegetables can provide a nice break for your body but still provide the comfort of the holiday season.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup peanut oil
2 teaspoons brown or yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons curry powder (or 1 teaspoon each ground cumin and ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 carrots, thinly sliced
3 green bell peppers, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Salt and Pepper
Juice of 1 lemon

In a deep saucepan, heat peanut oil until almost smoking. Add mustard seeds. Turn heat down and add cumin seeds, curry powder, and cayenne. Cook 2 minutes. Add sliced carrots and green peppers and stir into the spices. Cook until vegetables begin to change color but are still crisp. Stir in brown sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.

Serves 4

 

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Pork and Black Beans with Rice

Pork and Rice with Black Beans

Pork and Rice with Black Beans

I have to admit this was a difficult dish to make look as good as it tastes. This is basically classic Latin American comfort food, Paula Peck style. I refuse to credit a specific country in Latin America for Pork Black Beans and Rice because so many of them have their own version. I would hate to offend one country if this is not their authentic preparation, or leave another out that makes a similar version. One thing’s for sure, it’s hard to go wrong with black beans and rice on a chilly fall day. In this case, the addition of pork sausage and chunks of pork tenderloin give this dish a salty meaty flavor and also makes a protein packed meal that keeps you full longer when you’re out raking leaves or picking apples.

My favorite part of this dish is the orange. That orange slice you see in the photo is not just for decoration and color, there is actual orange juice in this dish. It’s mixed with red wine to deglaze the pan (release all of those flavorful brown bits) after browning the pork. This is the acid and sweetness the salty fat of this dish needs to provide that balanced flavor our taste buds look for. So ignore the deceiving sloppy look of these pork and beans – serve with orange slices and these are far from the blah rice and beans you may be used to.

Ingredients:

2 cups dried black beans
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
2 small green peppers, seeded and diced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 1/2 lbs pork shoulder or tenderloin, cut into 1″ cubes
3/4 lb fresh pork sausage
2/3 cups orange juice
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups peeled fresh orange slices

Wash, pick over beans and soak overnight or cover beans in water and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes, remove from heat and cover for 1 hour. Drain.

Heat olive oil in a deep pot. Add garlic, onion, and green pepper. Saute until tender and season with salt and pepper. Add beans and enough additional water to cover them. Cover pot and simmer 45 minutes or until beans are tender, adding more water if necessary. Drain liquid from pot and reserve.

Remove two cups of cooked beans from pot. Cover remaining beans to keep warm. Puree the two cups of cooked beans with as much liquid as necessary in blender. Stir bean puree into cooked beans and keep warm.

Brown pork cubes and sausage in their own fat in a skillet. Pour off fat when meats are golden all over and cut sausage into 1-inch pieces. Add both meats to beans. Season with additional salt and pepper, if required.

Pour orange juice and wine into skillet that meats were browned in and cook on high heat until liquid is reduced by half, scraping up any brown bits. Pour into bean mixture and stir to combine all flavors.

Serve over fluffy, steamed rice.

Serves 6.

Adapted from “The Art of Good Cooking,” by Paula Peck.

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Grilled Swordfish Skewers

Grilled Swordfish Skewers

Grilled Swordfish Skewers

After what seemed like a never-ending cold snowy winter in the Northeast, grilling season is finally here. Lucky for us, “The Art of Good Cooking” by my grandmother, Paula Peck, has many barbecue recipes I have yet to share. Similar to this Grilled Swordfish recipe, most are in the form of skewers – one of my favorite ways to grill. There is nothing revolutionary about this grilled skewer recipe but it’s simple and delicious. The marinade, which consists of garlic, olive oil, soy sauce, lemon, salt, and pepper, is just light enough to bring out the fresh clean taste of not only swordfish, but any seafood (check out the shrimp shown in this photo). With its meaty firm texture, swordfish is one of the few fish that can actually hold up to being cut into chunks, skewered, and grilled. Like all fish, it’s important not to overcook it – no one enjoys chunks of rubber.

Grilling can be challenge here in NYC. For the authentic grilling experience, the only options are the park or the roof deck or backyard of a wealthy friend. I usually end up doing most of my grilling out of town on vacation. However, the limited grilling options in NYC never stopped my grandmother. Although all of her grilling recipes can be converted to the oven or broiler, she grilled right in her Harlem kitchen. She would set up the grill plate on the stove and fan the smoke out the window, as best she could. The neighbors definitely didn’t appreciate this and I doubt she could get away it now. An actual grill (particularly charcoal) will produce a more flavorful result. But by marinating the fish for 2-3 hours and following the proper cooking times, juicy garlicky swordfish will become a favorite whether broiled, baked, or grilled. Don’t forget the grilled vegetables and fruit– my favorites are bell peppers, grape tomatoes, eggplant, and pineapple!

Ingredients:

2 lbs swordfish steak
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
salt and pepper

Lemon Parsley Sauce (for serving)
6 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Dry fish well on paper towels. Cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks.
Combine garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and soy sauce. Place swordfish in a bowl and pour mixture over the chunks. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, turning occasionally.

Thread chunks on skewers. Broil, preferably over charcoal, turning occasionally, until swordfish is lightly brown all over. Season with salt in pepper.

Mix together sauce ingredients and spoon over skewered swordfish.

Serves 4-5.

Adapted from “The Art of Good Cooking,” by Paula Peck.

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