Archive for November, 2011


Curried Butternut Squash over Coconut Rice

When I make this I make it very spicy.  It goes really well with the sweet components of the dish.  This time I tried Korean chilies.  I also make this without the chilies and my girls love it as well.

I use medium-sized butternut squash.  If you have never used it before I have a couple of tips  for preparing it.  First of all the top is solid squash and the bottom had seeds similar to a pumpkin.  I first, with a large knife, remove the bulb at the bottom.  I then slice off the ends and peel it.  If your knife skills are good you can stand the two  up and run your knife down the side to peel them.  If you are going to use a peeler I would use this one because the skin is kind of tough.

You can use a regular peeler but you will have to go over it a couple of times.  You peel it until you get all orange.  After you peel it you slice the top part and cube it into 1/2 – 1 inch chunks.  You can seed and keep the bulb for something else.

Curried Butternut Squash

Top of a medium butternut squash chopped

1 – Onion chopped

1 – Package California Mission Figs (in the raisin aisle)

3 – Apples chopped

2 – Korean Chilies

1 – Lime juiced

2 – Tbs honey

1 – Tbs curry powder

1 – Tbs kosher salt

1/2 – Cup chopped cilantro

1 – Tbs Sesame seeds (toasted, found in the Asian section)

2 – Tbs canola oil

Enough water to cover

For the Coconut Rice

1 – Cup of Jasmine rice

1 1/2 – Cups of water

1/4 – Cup of shredded coconut

1 – Tsp kosher salt

First get everything chopped, except the apples.  This includes the figs.  You first need to cut off the stem.  After this quarter them.  Once you do this put the onions and butternut squash in a pot with the oil.   Cook over medium high heat until the veggies start to soften, about 5 minutes.  While this is happening go ahead and chop up the apples and add them along with the figs.  After another couple of minutes  add the Korean chilies and the seasonings, not the sesame seeds.  Cook this for another 3 or four minutes.  Squeeze in the lime juice and add enough water to cover.  You can also add the honey at this time.   The only things that should be left are the sesame seeds and cilantro.  Cook this mixture over medium heat for 30-45 minutes.  If it looks too thick add some water.  I normally don’t need to, but I like it thick.  Once it is done add the chopped cilantro and sesame seeds.  It should now be done.

For the rice, combine 1 1/2 cups of hot water, from the sink, with the shredded coconut.  Let this set for about an hour.  After an hour pull the coconut out and give it a good squeeze.  If there is some coconut left floating around it is actually a good thing.  Bring the water to a boil and add the salt.  Once it boils add the rice and reduce the heat to low.  Cook for 10 – 12 minutes and remove from the heat.  Let this sit covered for another 5 minutes.

To finish the dish get a scoop or rice and top it with a scoop of the butternut squash mixture.  You can garnish it with more cilantro, sesame seeds, sour cream, ect.  Enjoy


Black Bean Soup

This is one of my favorite soup recipes.  Not only is it delicious, but it is also very versatile.  This recipe varies depending on what is in my fridge.   I like serrano peppers because the heat is more consistent than jalapenos.  The “secret” ingredient in this Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans.  They are cheaper if you buy them in the bean section as opposed to the international ingredient section.  You could also buy an extra can or two and make some hummus latter.



Finally, here is the recipe.

2 – Cans of black beans (rinsed)

1 – Can Chick Peas (rinsed)

1 – Large onion chopped

1 – Bell Pepper (your favorite color) chopped

2 – Carrots chopped

2 – Celery stalks chopped

3 – Serrano peppers

4 – Cups water

1 – Good hand full of cilantro

1 – Lime

1 – Tsp cumin

1 – Tsp chili powder

1 – Tsp garlic powder

1 – Tbs kosher salt

1/2 – Tsp black pepper

2 – Tbs canola oil

This is a really simple recipe once you get all your veggies chopped.    I go for about 1/2 inch pieces.  This size isn’t overly important because it will be partially pureed later.

First chop your onions, carrots, celery and bell peppers.  Once you get that done toss them in a large soup pot with the oil over medium high heat and start to soften them up a bit.  I probably let them cook for about 5 minutes or so until they begin to soften (stirring occasionally).  While this is happening I chop up my serrano peppers.  You’ve got to be careful when chopping any hot pepper.  The oils on the inside of the peppers can harm your skin if you don’t wash up properly.  After you finish chopping them toss them into the pot and wash your hands, knife and cutting board.  Don’t put them away because you have to chop the cilantro later.  After another minute or two add all the spices, black beans and chick peas.  Stir to get everything coated with the spices then add the water.  Bring this to a boil then reduce to medium heat.  Cook for about 30 – 45 minutes stirring occasionally.  Once the veggies look nice and soft take it off the heat and use an immersion blender to puree it about 50%.  If you don’t have an immersion blender I strongly suggest you go and get one.  Here is the one I use:

Depending on how chunky you like your soup you could not puree it or fully puree it.  I prefer mine about 50%.  Once this is done check your seasoning to see if you need to add anything.  You can also add some water if it is too thick.  Once it is all cooked, seasoned and pureed add a good handful of chopped cilantro and squeeze the lime in.  Stir well and serve immediately.

I like a dollop of sour cream in mine.


Sukuma Wiki (Kenyan stewed greens) and Ugali

I first had this dish while in Naivasha, Kenya.  If you like greens of any kind, you will absolutely love this dish.  Sukuma Wiki is Swahili for, “to push the week”.  This dish is used to stretch the limited food supply through the week.    I have used several different greens in this dish.  While in Kenya we used Spider Weed.

You CAN’T have Sukuma Wiki without it’s traditional and delicious side, Ugali.  I also call it the Kenyan biscuit.  I do so because it is used just like we in the South use a biscuit.  You hold it in your non fork hand and use it to sop up whatever is on the plate.  Here is a pic I took of Jael making Ugali.

Now, on to the recipe.

1 – Large bunch of greens (I prefer mustard greens)

1 – Onion

2 – Tomatoes

2 – Cloves of garlic

2 – Tbs of canola oil

Salt and pepper to taste

The first think I do is take the stems out of the greens.  Fold the leaves over and pinch the stem.  Begin pulling the stem apart from the leaves working your way down.  You just need to go as far as the stem lets you.  After this I wash the greens.  I rinse them each under running water rubbing away the grit.  It is extremely important to wash the greens well.  I’m sure there are better ways to clean them, this is just how I like to do it.  The next thing to do is chop the greens.  The greens I had in Kenya were very thinly sliced.  The best way to to this is to stack several leaves on top of each other and then roll them up like a cigar.  Using a very sharp knife start shaving off the end as thin as you can.    Here is a pic demonstrating.

Once this is complete go ahead and dice the onion and tomato.  If I use anything other than a roma tomato, I rinse out the seeds.  Also, don’t forget to dice on mince your garlic.

Finally, start with a medium to medium high skillet.  The leaves really cook down so a 10 inch pan would be fine.  Add the oil and begin to give the onions some color.  After a couple minutes add the tomato and garlic.  You can do an initial seasoning at this time as well.  After a couple minutes add a good hand full of the greens.  Once they cook down some, a minute or so, add another hand full.  Do this until all the greens are in the pan.  Once they are all in add about 2 cups of water.  From here simmer for about an hour on medium low.  Keep an eye on the water lever and add some if needed.  Once it’s done check the seasoning one last time.  Enjoy

The ugali is really easy to make.

1 – Cup Corn Flower (not meal)

2 – Cups Water

Bring the water to a boil and add the corn flower.  Immediately reduce the temperature to medium or so.  It gets thick very quickly so you may need to pull it off the burner till it cools a bit.  Stir with a wire whisk pretty much the entire time, about 12 minutes.   Once it is done scrape it out onto a plate.  Spread it out evenly keeping it a bit thick.  Once it cools a bit slice it up and enjoy it with your Sukuma Wiki.



Vegetarian Tempeh Chili

I prepared some chili a couple days ago with a little used, under appreciated food, tempeh. It is basically fermented soybeans originating in Indonesia, I believe. It was delicious, vegetarian and very healthy. I purchased this in Kroger down the organic health food aisle close to the tofu. Here is a good link that explains it well.


Now on to the recipe.

1 – 8 oz. package of tempeh
2 – portabello mushrooms (without stem, It’s not edible)
1/2 – red and green bell pepper
1 – medium onion
2 – serano peppers
3 – cloves garlic
1 – can tomato sauce
1 – can diced tomatoes
1 – can black beans (rinsed)
1 – bottle of light beer
1 – tbs cumin and chili powder
1 – tsp salt and black pepper
1 – good shake of ground clove or cinnamon
2 – tbs canola oil

First run a knife down the side of the package to get the tempeh out. It is firm and kinda in a slab. On a cutting board slice length wise into 1/2 inch pieces. Then slice tempeh the other way about every 1/2 inch or so to give you 1/2 inch cubes. This is a good “chili size”. Bring a pot over medium to medium high heat and add the oil. Toss in the cubed tempeh and begin to brown. This could take 5 minutes or so depending on how hot your burner is.Next move on to chopping your veggies. If you are not a speed demon at chopping you might want to these veggies before you take on the tempeh. Chop the veggies into about 1/2 inch pieces as well. Add the chopped vegetables, except the mushroom, and cook for about 5 minutes to soften them up a bit. After this add garlic and spices and cook for one or two more minutes. Next toss in everything else. Let this cook for at least 30 minutes. Once this is finished taste and re-season as needed. I normally serve it with some sour cream and a little sriracha hot sauce.

This recipe can be easily changed up depending on what is in your pantry and fridge. I sometimes add celery, carrot, jalapeno, red beans, brown sugar, etc.  You could also add or subtract from your seranos depending on how spicy you like it.  Simply adjust it to fit your taste.