pepper tagged posts

Summer Food: Eggplant Napoleon

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The summer is almost over (with 2 weeks left to it), but the summer food does not have to go. Summer comes with all these fresh veggies at their peak of ripeness giving us endless possibilities for creative cooking, that does not have to be confined in the salad making. In this recipe I am making a dish that is largely inspired by a Raw Food class I recently attended in New York City. The class is regularly offered in California by Gisselle Gordon, but if you are lucky you might catch Gisselle in one of her trips. My views on Raw Food as a diet perspective are outlined in the previous posts, but regardless the fact that I largely disagree with the claims, I cannot overlook the taste aspects of it especially what it comes loaded with fresh ingredients in a way you have never seen before. This is actually a great way to few all these diets, focus on the taste and the appearance of the food, don't dismiss them just because you don't agree with their claims. It is called being open-minded, and in the culinary world it can take you very very far.

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Quinoa Salad

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The last few years there is a growing number of grains that have hit the market. Many of them have been around for a while (a few thousand years) but their nutritional value was hardly been recognized. In their majority they emerged as an alternative to the existing grains that recently have been under the gun for not being as healthy as we though they were. A major concern is gluten. Gluten is a form of tough network of proteins that is created by the cross-linking of gliadin and a gluten with the help of water. Both gliadin and a glutenin are in abundance in many grains, primarily in wheat, rye and barley. Several people have a immunogenic response to it, in which the body recognizes several molecules (gliadin in this case) as an intruder. This is causing a cascade of effects that can lead to unpredictable results. This is considered part of the Celiac Disease and is not recognized as an allergy due to the unusual response of the body ranging from stomach cramps to joint pains.

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Lentil Soup

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I am about to kick of the New Year with the probably most underrated legume of all times. Actually it is one of the most underrated food items of all time (except probably in India). Lentils! It is the one food that I used to hate as a kid and I love as an adult. As a kid all legumes were by far the worst food I could ever have. They were always served as a substitute to meat, especially during lent before Christmas, Easter or Dormition of the Theotokos (Assumption of Mary in the Roman Catholic Religion). They were usually (and by usually I mean 100% of the times) served in a soup form with tomato, garlic and the optional vinegar that very well suits them. I still, however, didn't like them because they were highly associated with the dreadful lent that meant one thing: no meat. And I am a generation Y kid. Born in the era of the fast-food globalization, the abundance of meat and wealth that spread all across Europe including Greece. And it is a shame. A big shame, because lentils are as reach in protein as meat. And of course a lot more healthy than meat.

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Cranberry Pastrami Sandwich

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In the previous post we made an awesome, kick-butt cranberry sauce. Although delicious and amazing, chances are you still have some left over sauce. The leftover once we adjust the viscosity a bit with some water are an amazing versatile syrup and condiment. It is sweet and tangy able to mingle with many different flavors. The Sugar can help reduce the spiciness of the various dishes, the acidity can pair well with meats as it changes the pH making our taste buds more sensitive and more receptive to the other elements of the dish... In other words making dish tasting meatier. Although you can always use it in a turkey left over sandwich, I think it is a pity to use this just in a sandwich with the reminiscent of thanksgiving. Here I expand the application to other sandwiches. Cranberries is a gift not only for thanksgiving, but something that we should cherish and use all year around.

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Baba Ganoush: An inevitable plate

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This is an inevitable post. Inevitable since just in the previous I presented the sibling dish of this one, the hummus. This one is all about eggplant. The one plant that has become a stable food around Mediterranean and primarily in the middle-eastern countries. Most of these countries rely heavily on vegetables as power source. Eggplant is not one of them. It is a plant, but not a power source. With a mere 25 kcal per 100 g of the fruit, eggplant is food with low energy value. It does have some other minerals and vitamins, but again they are not even enough to make eggplant a "super-food". Then why do we eat it? Why is it so valuable in Middle East, India etc?

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The Greek Adopted Dish: Hummus

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Greek restaurants across the USA had to adapt and adjust their menu and recipes. This usually happens with in three ways: i) the adaptation of classic recipes to whatever ingredients are available ii) the adaptation to the taste palette of the locals and iii) the adoption of dishes from other countries just because the locals seem to like them. Actually one of the most classic dishes, the poster child of the Greek food, the gyro sandwich originated in its final form in New York by Greek food track vendors out of necessity to battle tacos and shawarma as a fast food alternative. In the restaurant scenery, one of the Greek adopted dishes was, and still is, the hummus.

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My mom’s Pizza

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Today the 13th day of October it is my mom’s name day. It is a typical Greek traditional celebration to celebrate the day of the saint or martyr that you are named after. So today it is my mom’s day and we are celebrating by making the best pizza ever. It is all that my mom’s cooking is all about simple ingredients, simple flavors that they highlight and accentuates the taste of simple ingredients, like feta and tomato. And this is the bottom line of the greek cuisine: simple ingredients brought together in a simple manner. So this sort of pizza is just that. And I call it sort of pizza, because it does not share anything of the typical pizza characteristics, sauce, melted cheese, thin crust. It is on the contrary puffy, with just tomato and feta a non melting cheese. I am making two version the original and still king, my mom’s and mine a more gourmet take on it. So let’s get started.

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My Take on a Classic: Greek Salad

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Greek salad is one the poster foods of greek cuisine. And for a good reason. It combines in a plate all the vegetables that mean summer in Greece; sweet juicy tomatoes, succulent snappy cucumbers, peppery sweet onions, crisp peppers and of course who can leave out the greek briny cheese, also known as feta. All of them held together with the power of olive oil, topped with oregano. A herb that is 100% greek. You find it in abundance in the hills and mountains of the greek country side. The greek salad is not only a delicious combination, but it is also visually appealing. As they say: you eat with your eyes first. And the crispness of the vegetables also engage your ears in the experience. It is therefore a full sense experience. The quintessential greek summer (and not only) dish.

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Summer Food: Swordfish Steak with Zucchini pasta

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Usually around this time I start posting a series of post entitled Summer Food. But, what is summer food? What makes a great summer food plate? It has to be, simple, fresh, not heavy in oils and fats, and most importantly remind you of summer. Being in Boston the summer food time is a little late, but it is here at last, and being in Boston it is a great opportunity to get our hands on some fresh amazing fish. This time some freshly caught (or at least I want to believe freshly caught) swordfish. Served with an unusual type of pasta…

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Strawberry Shortcakes

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This is a very special post. For many reasons. For one thing this is the first of the 5 that will complete the 100 recipes on the blog. Very special. It is dedicated to my eternal second home the good old state of Florida. There were the South opened its arm and welcome me. A desert with character and the true meaning of soul food. Also it was created only days after a dream just died and took me back to square 1. Not the first time. But enough with emotions. Let ’s go together and see what makes this desert so special, so incredible and so surprisingly fresh.

Strawberry shortcake is one the most traditional southerner deserts. It combines many of the ingredients of the south, cream, butter, sugar biscuits… Oh yeah it does have biscuits. Although the name itself suggest a sort of a cake, and the recently the convenience and time efficient have actually offered the option of the cake, the real shortcake is a sweet biscuit. The biscuit is from the french word biscuit which is derived from the Latin words bis (twice) and coquere, coctus (to cook, cooked), and, hence, means “twice-cooked”. Originally the biscuits were breads that after baking were cut and baked a second time to harden. A great way to make bread last longer, especially when it is indented for long trips etc. The modernization of the cuisine and the kitchen tools in the 19th century made the second baking obsolete, since now fretted baked bread can be made everyday. The name however, caught on and it is still used. A traditional southerner biscuit is based largely on the british scone. It is a quick and easy way to create the ideal breakfast bread. I don’t think that at this point it really requires a lot of brains to add some sugar and sweeten things a little. From this point on the rest is history. A sweet southern history. So let’s get started.

So here are the ingredients of the southern delight:

Strawberries sugar: Turn your attention to the right of the photo

  • 1 lb of strawberries
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • A brandy of sort
  • 1/4 lb of sugar
  • Black pepper… What? Black pepper? Oh yeah! it is awesome!

Biscuits: Turn your attention to the right of the photo

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 4 tbsp of butter
  • 4 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/4 tbs baking soda
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup of buttermilk

For the garnish and plating:

  • Creme fraiche
  • Whipped cream
  • Berries for garnish

Start by washing the strawberries.

Remove the stem with the little piece of hard stem in the core of the strawberry.

And slice them.

I use roughly 1/5 by weight of sugar. So here we have 500 g of strawberries (after subtracting the weight of the bowl)

Cut and squeeze the lime juice.

Add the brandy. Here as you can see I use AppleJack. It is a brandy made out of apples so the fruity flavors get well very well.

Now add the sugar.

Add the pepper… I am not joking! Pepper is very good with strawberries.

And stir them well. Well but carefully. Put them in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. The sugar will force liquid out of the strawberries slowly dissolve the sugar and become a nice syrup.

While this is happening let’s make some biscuits. Start by sifting the flour.

Why sift the flour? Fro this! Especially when you make a cake type of dough where we don’t really want to mix to much these lumps will never dissolve. It is important step. Please do not skip.

Add the sugar.

Add the baking powder.

Follow with the soda…

And mix the dry ingredients together.

Measure the butter.

Cut it in small pieces.

And add it in the dry goods.

With the tips of your fingers break it in small chunks. It will resemble rice.

Add the buttermilk.

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Mix them until they just come together.

Flour your bench or board.

flip the dough and don’t worry if it is not perfect it will be like that.

Use the dough roller, roll it to a thickness of one inch. 2.5 cm for the metric mind.

With a cutter or a glass or anything that is about 2 inches wide punch out as many biscuits as you can.

Like this. Gather there remaining dough and repeat.

I usually get about 12. Like this. I know there is a runner up… I told you I “usually” make 12. Place them close to each other for more even rise. Also since they are butter made they will have a tendency to spread. Putting them close together will prevent them from spreading.

Bake at 375F (190 C).

Unitl they look GBD. Golden, Brown and Delicious.

Cool them before serving. Serving with the strawberries!!!

It is the perfect breakfast by the way.

Before we start we need to whip the the heavy cream. Add ice cold heavy cream in your work bowl.

Follow with some sugar.

Add a bit of Vanilla.

And whip. No need for mixer. You need a whisk and a little labor.

In less than a minute you have whipped cream.

And now we BUILD!!!!

Plate!

Split biscuit in half. Yes a fork is better just like on an english muffin.

Add some whipped cream on the plate to hold things together.

Add the bottom part of the biscuit.

Put the strawberries and don’t forget the the syrup. It will soften the hardest biscuits.

Top them with a bit of creme fraiché. Creme fraiché is think rich and a bit sour. It will just brink a little something to the party. Break the sweetness and brink things together.

Top it of with the over part of the shortcake.

More strawberries. Technically you can stop here, but I go one more layer.

To hold it better I add some more creme fraiche.


And more strawberries…. And syrup

Garnish with the rest of the berries.

If you have a pipping bag use it. I don’t I use the old school method with the two spoons. Move it from spoon to spoon until you shape it to what is called a canelli.

Place it on the top of the pile. And garnish with a nice mind leave.

There you have it!

I know I know you need another shot? Here… You eat with your eyes first.

Oh and one more bonus. The strawberries will get a lot of juice out within a day… What to do with it? Mix it in a shaker with ice, some vanilla vodka and some lime juice. Aaaand…

Here you have a pepper berry cocktail like nothing else!

Printable Recipe Card

Strawberry Shortcakes

From Nerd Meets Food | Desserts | American

01:45
01:00
00:45

cal Calories 218kcal

fat Total Fat 8g

High sat-fat Saturated Fat 5g

chol Cholesterol 21mg

sodium Sodium 299mg

carbs Total Carbohydrate 33g

Serving size 118g Calories from fat 71kcal Fiber 1g Protein 3g Sugar 15g
12 servings

Ingredients

  • Strawberries
  • 1 lb of strawberries
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 oz of brandy
  • 1/4 lb of sugar
  • Black pepper
  • Shortcakes
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 4 tbsp of butter
  • 4 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/4 tbs baking soda
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • For the garnish and plating
  • 1/2 cup of creme fraiche
  • 1 cup of whipped cream

Directions

  1. Strawberries:
  2. Wash the strawberries, remove the stem and slice them.
  3. Put them in a bowl and add the sugar.
  4. Cut and squeeze the lime juice.
  5. Add the brandy and freshly ground pepper.
  6. Put them in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
  7. Shortcakes:
  8. Start by sifting the flour.
  9. Add the sugar.
  10. Add the baking powder and the soda
  11. Mix the dry ingredients together.
  12. Cut the butter in small pieces and with the tips of your fingers break it in small chunks. It will resemble rice.
  13. Add the buttermilk and mix them until they just come together.
  14. Flour your bench or board and flip the dough.
  15. Use the dough roller, roll it to a thickness of one inch. 2.5 cm for the metric mind.
  16. With a cutter that is about 2 inches wide punch out as many biscuits as you can.
  17. Bake at 375F (190 C) unitl they look Golden, Brown and Delicious.
  18. Whipping Cream:
  19. Add ice cold heavy cream in your work bowl.
  20. Follow with some sugar, a bit of Vanilla and whip.
  21. Split shortcake in half with a fork.
  22. Layer shortcake, strawberries and whipped cream.


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