Summer’s Last Hurrah – Sweet Corn Chowder – Bodacious Grub Style

Sweet Corn Chowder - Bodacious Grub Style

A Visit to the Market

So I visited the Santa Clara Farmers Market last weekend and one purveyor was selling sweet corn, end of summer sweet corn, so I jumped on it.  But what to do with sweet corn and how to make it bodacious.  Well I put my thinking cap on and thought Sweet Corn Chowder.  Well you may be thinking, yeah so what, sweet corn chowder, nothing that unusual about that.   Here is where it gets perhaps a bit bodacious.  I added an unusual spice.  Aji Panca.

What is Aji Panca you may ask?

Aji Panca is a type of chile pepper that is commonly grown in Peru, and frequently used in Peruvian cuisine.  It is dark red, mild pepper with a smokey, fruity taste. I used the powder as I have it in my pantry.  It is awesome, my favorite spice of late it adds a wonderful smokey taste to the food without blowing out your taste buds (unless of course you dump a cup of it into the dish, which I didn’t).

I also added some Spanish paprika to the chowder.  So now we have a bit of fusion going, Peru meets Spain meets good old American corn.  Hope you enjoy it.

Ingredients

4 slices of bacon – diced

1 large carrot – small dice

2 red onions – small dice

1 leek – diced

2 stalks celery diced

2 sweet Italian peppers – diced

7 cobs of corn – kernels cut off 5 cobs and the milk from 2 cobs. Reserve the corn cobs to add to the soup when cooking

1/2 bunch fresh thyme

1/2 tbl Spanish paprika

1/2 tbl aji panca

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

6 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup half and half

Method

Add bacon to soup pan and cook to render the fat.

Remove bacon and set aside.

Add onions and leeks to bacon fat and saute until softened.

Sweet Corn Chowder - #bodaciousgrub Style

Add carrots, celery and red pepper to pot and continue sauteing until softened.

Add corn kernels to soup pot, mix thoroughly.

Sweet Corn Chowder - #bodaciousgrub Style

Add chicken stock to pot and bring soup to a simmer.

Add aji panca, paprika, thyme and garlic salt.

Add reserved corn cobs.

After 1/2 hour remove the corn cobs and continue simmering for another 20 minutes.

Add the corn milk and kernels from the 2 cobs that were milked, reserved bacon, salt and pepper.

Mix in half and half.

Sweet Corn Chowder - #bodaciousgrub Style

Serve and Enjoy! I garnished the chowder with a teaspoon of Red Pepper Tapenade that I picked up at the market on Saturday.  Nice finishing touch.

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Spanish Influenced Pig Trotter Split Pea Soup

Split Pea and Pigs' Feet Soup with Spanish Influence
Split Pea and Pigs’ Feet Soup with Spanish Influence

It was a nice summer day in California and I wanted to cook something interesting with some Duroc pigs’ feet that I had in the fridge. Duroc pork is an heritage variety of pork. I was talking to my mum recently about my Grandmother’s days in Holland and how they used to butcher a pig that would be used for the entire year. At that time they didn’t have a freezer so they canned a lot of the meat. We also spoke about eating the entire animal and not wasting any of the meat. I’ve been on that kick these days myself. I was at an Offal Even in Sacramento on Sunday and the food prepared was outstanding, all made from meat that is normally discarded.

After this event, I picked up some pigs’ feet as this is another cut of meat that many people don’t eat. The question was what was I going to do with it. I know some people sous vide the pigs’ feet, others braise it, I wanted to make pea soup and use the pigs’ feet to add extra flavor. I didn’t have white beans in the house, otherwise I may have made white bean soup with the pig’s feet. Oh well, next time.

Duroc Pork trotters
Duroc pig trotters

As for seasoning, I just seasoned the soup as I went along. I had picked up some pebrella at the Spanish Table in Berkeley so I started with that. Pebrella is a rare form of wild thyme indigenous to the area in Spain between Valencia and Alicante. It has a flavor that is reminiscent of savory, oregano and thyme all at once. Then I added some Chimayo Chile Powder (not quite Spanish, but it did come from New Mexico). Finally I added some Spanish paprika, some dried thyme and a bay leaf. It as my version of a Pig Trotter Split Pea Soup with a Spanish Influence. Hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients

2 pig’s feet – split (I used Duroc Pork trotters)
2 cups green split peas
6 cups water
1 tsp dried thyme
1 large bay leaf
1/4 tsp pebrella (Wild Spanish Thyme)
1/4 Chimayo chile powder
1/4 tsp Spanish paprika
3/4 tsp salt

1 large carrot diced
1 leek diced
1 stalk celery diced
1 tbl olive oil (I used Spanish olive oil)

Directions

1. Boil water, cover split beans in boiling water and soak for 2 hours
2. Drain split peas
3. Add split peas to dutch oven
4. Wash pigs’ feet
5. Add pigs’ feet to dutch oven
6. Cover split peas and pigs’ feet with water
7. Add bay leaf and thyme to dutch oven

duroc pork trotter and split pea soup
Duroc pork trotter and split pea soup

8. Bring water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, skim off any skim and simmer for 2 hours.
9. In another pan saute the carrot, leek and celery in olive oil.
9. Remove trotters (pigs’ feet), add seasonings and vegetables and continue to simmer for another hour.
10. After trotters have cooled removed meat from the bone and reserve meat.
11. Add meat back to pan. I didn’t have a lot of meat, perhaps 2 ounces from the 2 pigs’ feet. Mix meat through.

Garnish with your favorite yummy tidbits.

I garnished with Pickled Watermelon Rind and Chocolate Sea Salt.

Split Pea Pig Trotter Soup
Spanish Influenced Split Pea Pig Trotter Soup

Enjoy!

Serendipity: Green Lipped Mussels – Thai Style

I went downtown to the Asian market to buy herbs and other food.  I found the best fresh food at the market including the most beautiful fresh galangal that I have ever seen.  It was so fresh.   Galangal is a rhizome of plants in the ginger family.  It’s culinary uses originated in Indonesia.  It is used in various Asian cuisines (Thai, Cambodian, Laotian, Vietnamese and throughout Indonesian cuisine).  While it is related to ginger it does not taste similar,  It is more like a combination of citrus, black pepper, cedar and ginger.  I love this stuff and I have never seen such a gorgeous selection of galangal.  It was very well priced too.

Fresh galangal
Fresh galangal

While I was shopping I ran into Melanie and she told me that there was a Songkran (Thai New Year) celebration happening in downtown San Jose, just 1 block from the market. It is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year’s Day from April 13 – April 15. So after I finished my shopping I packed my car with my goodies and wandered over to the street party.

Songkran
Songkran – Thai New Year

It was a beautiful sunny day with festivities and fun happening everyone.  There were tents and booths over a two block stretch. There was also a beauty pageant taking place at a stage at the end of one of the streets.  Another event that was taking place was a wrestling competition.  Can’t say I expected that.

As I walked through the festival I noticed people walking around with what appeared to be powder on their faces.  I asked someone about the significance of the powder on their faces.  A lovely young woman responded that a big part of the  celebration of Songkran is the throwing of water upon others. People roam the streets with containers of water or water guns. Also, many people  have bowls of beige colored powder and they mix it with water.  This paste  is then smeared on the faces and bodies of random people as a blessing for the new year. That’s what I saw everywhere, faces smeared with powdery paste.  After I asked, I thanked them and one of the guys squirted me with the water gun.  I laughed and said spray me more as it is hot.

After I finished my exploration of the That New Year celebration I came home and decided to make a mussel dish to celebrate the new year at home.  I had picked up the ingredients at the market earlier and thought how appropriate it would be to make Thai influenced green lipped mussels.  What a coincidence, go to the market to buy food, find out it is Thai New Year and then I make Thai green lipped mussels.  Serendipity for sure.

Songkran
Thai green lipped mussels in celebration of Songkran

Ingredients

  • 1 pound green lipped mussels (I used frozen green lippped mussels on the half shell as that is all I could find)
  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 3/4 cup white wine (I used Austrian Gewurztraminer, an old one that I lost in the cellar, I wanted the foral aromatics of the Gewurtz)
  • 3 tsp fish sauce
  • 14 oz can coconut cream
  • 1 1/2″ knob of fresh galangal (mine was about 1 1/2″ diameter) cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass – smashed to open up the fibers and cut into 2 ” lengths
  • 3 tsp green curry paste
  • 15 leaves of Thai basil
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tbl coconut oil

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a deep pot.
  2. Add onions and saute until softened
  3. Add curry paste and saute to extract the flavors
  4. Add white wine and continue to saute for a couple of minutes
  5. Add coconut cream, galangal, lemon grass, thai basil leaves, a handful of cilantro and bring to a simmer.
  6. Simmer for 30 minutes until thickened, reduced and until the flavors are incorporated.
  7. Add green lipped mussels and cook for 12-15 minutes or until done.
  8. Serve in a deep bowl with lots of liquid to soak up the juices, Garnish with fresh cilantro.  I topped mine with a mint/cilantro/basil pesto as well.
Yummy, all gone.
Yummy, all gone.

Lavender, Rose Soda Water – Bodaciously Delicious

It’s a gorgeous sunny April Sunday, threatening to hit 86 degrees, and I was picking through recipes and cookbooks as I often do on Sunday mornings.  Somehow I tripped upon a celery soda water recipe on the Internet and from there I was on the search for flavored soda waters and how to make them.   As I discovered many flavored soda waters start with a base of flavored simple syrup.  I found many flavors of soda water from celery soda water to lavender soda water.  I found something totally interesting and that was a recipe for Lavender Syrup (based on a recipe from The Girl and The Fig restaurant in Sonoma, CA).   I thought that would be an interesting place to start.

And so I started playing with the recipe and went from there. On my monthly pilgrimage to Costco I found coconut sugar and bought a bag of it.  I did want to change the lavender syrup recipe up as I didn’t want to use sugar but rather coconut sugar.   I have been using coconut oil these days for frying my food and coconut milk and coconut cream when I make Thai food.  So I thought coconut sugar must be healthy.  I bought it sight unseen and did my research when I got home.  Well coconut sugar is a powerhouse of nutrients too.

coconutsugar4

Coconut sugar is made from the sugar blossoms of the coconut tree.  The one I bought is organic.  Information I found online indicated that it is a  natural sweetener and studies show promising results for people who suffer from conditions such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes. It has a low glycemic index: 35 which is 1/2 of the  GI of white table sugar of 68. It is filled with lots of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Coconut sugar contains the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, phosphorus and boron. It contains 12 of the B vitamins and 16 of the 20 amino acids.  It’s a health powerhouse.

The bud of the coconut tree flower is sliced to release the sap or coconut nectar.  The sap is boiled into a thick caramel.  It is dried into crystals.  It looks and tastes similar to brown sugar.

So I thought coconut sugar for the white sugar in the recipe that I found online.  I also reduced the amount of sugar in the syrup as I thought it was sweet enough (I reduced the water to sugar ratio to 2:1 instead of 1:1).  Once I made the syrup I let it cool and bottled it so I could use it to make Lavender, Rose Water Soda Water. I added 1 tablespoon of the syrup to 3/4 cup of soda water and garnished it with a sprig of mint for a refreshingly delicious drink on a hot Sunday afternoon.

syrupsoda

Ingredients for Lavender/Rose Water Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/8 cup dried lavender flowers
  • 1/8 cup rose water

Directions

  1. Bring water and sugar to a boil
  2. Add lavender flowers and rose water and simmer 10 minutes
  3. Let cool and strain into a clean jar or bottle

Yield: 200 ml or 13.5 tbl
Calories:  205 = 13 calories/tablespoon

Blue Hubbard Squash Soup

bluehubbardsquashsoup

I love farmer’s markets and the beautiful winter squashes that are available in the fall.   I recently found a squash that I just love, the Blue Hubbard Squash. These babies are beautiful, blueish hue on the outside with bright orange flesh.  They are super sweet and make amazing soup as they take on flavors wonderfully.  They used to be very common in the early 20th century as they were one of the few foods that could be counted on to pass through a long winter unspoiled, if  stored properly.  Legend has it that Hubbard squashes came from South America where apparently they have been cultivated for some 4000 years. Stories say that that they were brought to  Massachusetts in the late 1700’s. A woman named Elizabeth Hubbard may have been responsible for spreading and endorsing the seeds.

pumpkin_bluehubbardopt

These squashes can be beasts –  some can weigh thirty pounds or even more – and with a tough rind that makes getting to the flesh quite difficult.   I’ve heard that the best way to open the large ones is to wrap them in a plastic bag and drop them with some force to the ground.  They apparently split open easily.  I didn’t have to worry about it as my hubbard was just a baby, at least it was small. I managed to cut it open with a sharp knife and then cut off the rind with the same knife.   After that I cut it up into cubes so it could be roasted.

bluehubbardinterioropt

I looked in my pantry to see what I could find to complement the squash.  I didn’t want to mess around with too many other vegetables so I opted only to use leeks and shallots to keep the flavor of the squash pure.  At the end I added some apples as I thought the apples would work perfectly.  I wanted just a hint of aji panca (a chili native to Peru)   in the soup.  This is my favorite chili powder these days, I love the flavor of this chili powder.  I added some half and half to finish the soup and to round it out.

I think it worked out well, but you be the judge.

Ingredients

¼ tsp ground aji panca chili powder

aji-panca-powder_lg

¼ tsp Alderwood sea salt

1 tsp French thyme

1 bay leaf

3 1/3 cups roasted blue hubbard squash (cut into 1 cubes)

1 ½ cup diced leeks

½ cup dice shallots

2 small fuji apples that have been cut into 1 inch pieces

5 cups organic chicken stock

1 tbl olive oil

½ cup half and half

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Roast blue hubbard squash (that has been coated with olive oil) for 45 minutes or until soft and lightly caramelized. Remove from oven
  3. In soup pot, sauté leeks and shallots in 1 tbl olive oil until softened.
  4. Add roasted blue hubbard squash to leeks and shallots
  5. Add chicken stock and spices
  6. Add apple pieces
  7. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes until apples are softened
  8. Puree soup
  9. Add  half and half

bluehubbardsquashsoup

Enjoy!

Bodacious Grains of Paradise, Chicken & Lentil Soup

I felt like cooking soup today and had some grains of paradise that I had purchased at Boulette’s Larder at the Ferry Market in San Francisco.

Grains of Paradise from Boulette’s Larder in San Francisco

Grains of paradise are peppery seeds from the Aframomum melegueta plant. They have been used in their native West Africa for centuries, and in Europe since at least the 800s. Today, they are commonly in used in Northern Africa. Stores which specialize in spices may carry grains of paradise. They can also be ordered through companies which import spices.

This spice is also known as alligator pepper, Guinea grains, or melegueta pepper. It has a slightly peppery flavor, but the taste of grains of paradise is a bit more complex than pepper. The spice tastes a bit like coriander, ginger, and cardamom, with a bit of a citrus flavor. It is milder than black pepper, but it still packs a punch, especially when applied in large amounts.

Grains of Paradise

I had a few ingredients that I wanted to use up along with some home made veggie stock. I had not one onion in the house (I turned the veggie drawers over and could not find one) so I used leeks instead and that was a success as leeks are wonderfully sweet and complex. I also had some lovely small garnet yams in the fridge and added those as well for more sweetness.

The Recipe
Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/3 cups leeks, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup carrots, finely chopped
2 cups diced garnet yams
8 ounces chicken breast cut into 1/2 pieces
1 cup red lentils
1 cup tomato sauce
8 cups vegetable stock
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon grains of paradise
1/4 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp ground dried thyme
1 bay leaf
parsley and pea shoots for garnish
Directions
1. Heat the olive oil in large pot and add the leeks and saute until softened, about 8 minutes.
2. Add the carrot and sweat until the carrots are softened, about 7 minutes.
3. Add the chicken breast and continue to saute until the chicken is slightly browned.
4. Add the remaining incredients and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 40-50 minutes. Check from time to time and add additional stock (or water) if the soup is too thick.

I topped mine with a bit of parsley and some delicious pea shoots for some additional pepperiness. Be warned if you munch on a grain of paradise you will get a good hit of peppery flavor. But a lovely pepper it is.

Enjoy, serve with a side salad for a healthy meal.

Lentil Soup With Grains of Paradise
Finished Lentil Soup With Grains of Paradise

Bodacious Chili – East meets Southwest, Peru and Koronis Purple Beans cooked in Columbian Black Clay Pot

I love the fall season and the ingredients that come to market. Gone are the days of heirloom tomatoes, corn and fava beans. These are the days of winter squash, turnip and dried beans. My Saturday mornings are spent at one of the local farmer’s markets looking for interesting food. One of the local purveyors, Lonely Mountain Organic Farm, sells interesting dried beans. On this day he had Koronis Purple Beans. The Koronis Purple is a bush bean, a shelling bean. It was developed by Robert Lobitz and was grown for its shelling beans with deep purple seeds. They were far to pretty to pass up. I was speaking to Kevin, the farmer from Lonely Mountain that grew these beans, and he said that they had just been harvested and were so fresh they didn’t need to be soaked overnight. We thought they would work well for chili. And so I thought what kind of chili would be interesting. Let me do an east meets southwest, Peru, Koronis Purple for some bodacious fun. I was hoping that the glorious purple would remain. But alas that was not to be the case.

Gone are the days when our only choices for chili were red pepper flakes and chile powder. Cayenne, jalapeño, anchos, pasillas can be found at most grocery stores. But there are even more interesting varieties that are not mainstream and I had a couple in my pantry that I wanted to use in this chili. I opted instead for the Peruvian, Southwest dried chili powder : chimayo style chile powder (from New Mexico), amarillo chile powder (from N. Mexico), ground aji panca (from Peru) and aji amarillo (from Peru).

“Aji” means chile pepper in Spanish. I could find no English translation of panca. Aji panca is a type of chile pepper that is commonly grown in Peru. It is dark red and mild with a smokey, fruity taste.

I also used aji amarillo. “Amarillo” means yellow. Aji amarillo is often thought of as the most important ingredient in Peruvian cooking. It is worth seeking out for its unique flavor, which offers a lot of fruitiness for its heat. It’s a different kind of fruitiness: less sharp and harsh, more full-bodied, and a lot more subtle and tastes like sunshine. This is a comforting hot chile, which may seem odd. Aji amarillo is used in many classic Peruvian dishes and I thought why not try it in a classic American dish “Chile”, the ultimate comfort food made with the comforting hot chile.

I have a beautiful clay bean pot that I bought at La Toque in Half Moon Bay.

lachamba

It is hand-crafted black clay La Chamba bean pot from La Chamba, Colombia and can go directly from microwave, stove or oven to the table top. There are no toxins in the La Chamba because no glazes are used and there is no lead in the clay. The black color comes from the firing process and the smooth, satiny finish is accomplished by hand-rubbing the surface with stones. La Chamba is exclusively made in a village in Columbia and the women and craftsmen who make these pots are their own bosses and set their own prices.

Cooking in clay is different than cooking in metal. The clay retains heat and moisture and there is less harsh steam in the pot, so food is able to cook in its own juices and not dry out. Beans, come out of La Chamba pots tasting earthier and with a creamier texture. I love this pot because it works beautifully on the stove as well as in my oven. I have a gas stove and it works perfectly on the flame. (no sticking at all). I have used this pot to make soups, beans and and braises and am always happy with the results. Somehow, the food I cook in this pot seems more infused with flavor. It keeps the food warm for a long time. It is my go to pot now, over my enameled cast iron pots. I love using this cookware and cooking with clay. It’s amazing, the food never sticks and cleanup is a breeze. So perfect, fusion chile made in a clay pot made in Columbia.

Ingredients

2 tbl olive oil

1 large white onion – diced

2 medium red onion – diced

2 celery stalks – fine dice

1 poblano pepper – diced

chicken stock – 3 cups

tomato sauce – homemade – 3 cups

1 1/2 tbl chimayo style chili powder

3/4 tsp amarillo chili powder (from N. Mexico)

1 1/2 tbl ground aji panca

1 1/2 tbl aji amarillo

½ bunch of fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

3 tbl cumin

2tsp alderwood smoked sea salt

cilantro – chopped

1 ¼ pounds heirloom purple kidney beans

firm tofu- 1 ½ pounds

Method

  1. Because these beans were so fresh, no soaking was required
  2. Saute onions in olive oil until softened in clay bean pot
  3. Add celery and poblano and continue to saute
  4. Add chicken stock, tomato sauce and spices (except salt) and stir to mix
  5. Add purple kidney beans and bring to a simmer
  6. Simmer for 2 hours or until beans are tender
  7. Dice fresh tofu into 1 inch pieces.
  8. Add to kidney beans.
  9. Simmer for an additional 1/2 hour. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Add cilantro to finish

Enjoy!

Last Call of Summer – Sweet Corn Chowder – Bodacious Grub Style

A Visit to the Market

So I visited the Santa Clara Farmers Market last weekend and one purveyor was selling sweet corn, end of summer sweet corn, so I jumped on it.  But what to do with sweet corn and how to make it bodacious.  Well I put my thinking cap on and thought Sweet Corn Chowder.  Well you may be thinking, yeah so what, sweet corn chowder, nothing that unusual about that.   Here is where it gets perhaps a bit bodacious.  I added an unusual spice.  Aji Panca.

What is Aji Panca you may ask?

Aji Panca is a type of chile pepper that is commonly grown in Peru, and frequently used in Peruvian cuisine.  It is dark red, mild pepper with a smokey, fruity taste. I used the powder as I have it in my pantry.  It is awesome, my favorite spice of late it adds a wonderful smokey taste to the food without blowing out your taste buds (unless of course you dump a cup of it into the dish, which I didn’t).

I also added some Spanish paprika to the chowder.  So now we have a bit of fusion going, Peru meets Spain meets good old American corn.  Hope you enjoy it.

Ingredients

4 slices of bacon – diced

1 large carrot – small dice

2 red onions – small dice

1 leek – diced

2 stalks celery diced

2 sweet Italian peppers – diced

7 cobs of corn – kernels cut off 5 cobs and the milk from 2 cobs. Reserve the corn cobs to add to the soup when cooking

1/2 bunch fresh thyme

1/2 tbl Spanish paprika

1/2 tbl aji panca

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

6 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup half and half

Method

Add bacon to soup pan and cook to render the fat.

Remove bacon and set aside.

Add onions and leeks to bacon fat and saute until softened.

Add carrots, celery and red pepper to pot and continue sauteing until softened.

Add corn kernels to soup pot, mix thoroughly.

Add chicken stock to pot and bring soup to a simmer.

Add aji panca, paprika, thyme and garlic salt.

Add reserved corn cobs.

After 1/2 hour remove the corn cobs and continue simmering for another 20 minutes.

Add the corn milk and kernels from the 2 cobs that were milked, reserved bacon, salt and pepper.

Mix in half and half.

Serve and Enjoy! I garnished the chowder with a teaspoon of Red Pepper Tapenade that I picked up at the market on Saturday.  Nice finishing touch.

Luscious Lental Soup with Young Ginger Shoots

I love shopping at farmers’ markets as one always finds unusual fresh produce. Today proved to be one of those days. I scored lots of great produce. The big find was fresh young ginger complete with tender shoots and leaves. Given I hate wasting I thought it might be kind of cool to cook the shoots and leaves, well at least add them as a seasoning to soup.

It was cloudy outside so a perfect time to have a body warming soup. I love red lentils so it seemed like a perfect thing to eat on a fall evening. This recipe was put together on the fly. Given I had no yellow onions, I used leeks and red onions. I thought some orange bell peppers would be nice and sweet so I put some of those into the soup. I did have some hot Ethiopian Berbere peppers so I added one small green one to the soup. But the star of the soup were the ginger leaves and shoot. They proved to be delicate and sweet. The soup itself was very delicate and yet flavorful. A perfect dish for a cool evening.

The soup was garnished with some Indian Micro Greens from Baia Nicchia Farm and Nursery.

Luscious Lentil Soup with Fresh Ginger Leaves and Shoots

Ingredients
1 cup red lentils
2 cups chopped leeks
3/4 cup diced red onion
1 large clove garlic – finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
2 cup vegetable stock
2 cups water
2 ginger root leaves
1 tender young ginger root shoot
1/4 tsp ginger root – grated on microplane
1 cup diced orange bell pepper
1 small berbere pepper – finely diced
2 tsp canola oil

garnish: Indian Micro Greens

Method
1. Heat canola oil in heavy bottom pan.
2. Add the leek to pan along with salt and saute for 5 minutes until softened.
3. Add the red onion to pan and continue sauteing until softened – another 8 minutes.
4. Add the bell pepper to pan, saute 5 minutes.
5. Add the berbere pepper to pan along with grated ginger root and saute 5 minutes.
6. Add the garlic to pan and saute 2 minutes.
7. Add the red lentils to pan and briefly saute.
8. Add the vegetable stock, water, ginger leaves, ginger shoot and cardamom.
9. Simmer for about 40 minutes until lentils are cooked.

Serve piping hot garnished with Indian Micro Greens… Delicious.

The Berbere Pepper – Super Hot Food

One of the local newspapers printed an article about the Ethiopian Berbere Pepper. The Ethiopian Berberes have been available dried and ground, but the fresh peppers are hard to find and not always in season. The paper indicated that they were now in season and available at the Menlo Park farmers’ market for a limited time.

berbere
Ethiopian Berbere Peppers

The young ones resemble the Padron in appearance. They have a mild, sweet flavor. The larger, older green ones are generally hotter.

Like a padron, young Berberes are fantastic when quickly sauteed in olive oil then sprinkled with sea salt. The Berbere becomes a beautiful purplish mocha color when mature and it develops thick, sturdy skin that is best removed after roasting.

I was hoping to find some young Berberes at the market to saute and also some more mature Berberes. This time I got more mature peppers some green and some very mocha in color. The purveyor and I started speaking about the glorious Berbere pepper and how to prepare them. She suggested, when green, that I dice them and saute them up and add garlic and a green of choice. She also suggested making a paste using the more mature pepper, roasting them, adding garlic and olive oil. With this preparation I would have fantastic berbere pepper paste all winter that would add heat to winter dishes.

I followed her suggestion and roasted all of the mocha colored Berbere peppers and removed the skins. I then added olive oil and fresh garlic (that had been sauteed) to the peppers and pureed everything to a paste.

WOW, what flavor. The peppers were wonderfully smokey and yes very hot!! But just a little bit is enough to add some wicked heat to an otherwise bland dish.

berberesauce
Ethiopian Berbere Pepper Sauce

Enjoy!