Huazontle Salad

Think broccoli with thinner and more fibrous stalks and stems. That’s huazontle, just with more tiny green buds and fewer stems and leaves. Huazontle bud clusters are simmered in salty water for 5-15 minutes (different sources give different timing) first. Then they are cooked as tortas (patties), which are formed by pressing huazontle clusters around a portion of queso fresco, dipped in flour then into an egg foam, and deep-fried. This recipe is sort of the same, but deconstructed.

January 18, 2017
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Cachucha Peppers Stuffed with Green Mexican Chorizo

To compare cachucha peppers to other green chili peppers I know, I’d say they are close to Spanish padron or Japanese shishito peppers in terms of texture. They are not meaty and slightly crunchy when cooked. To my taste, cachucha peppers are very flavorful and complex with clean and fresh grassy note. There is no heat in them at all. Thus their other name is sweet chili, Ají dulce, though there is no sweetness in them at all, at least when they are green.

January 18, 2017
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Green Mexican Chorizo

Two years ago a horrible thought came to my mind. What if I have to move from Texas somewhere north, and there is no Mexican chorizo there, and I have no idea how to make it myself. I looked for recipes and discovered that in addition to regular red chorizo there is a specialty of the Toluca region of Mexico, green chorizo. It is colored green because dry red chilies in it are replaced by fresh Poblano and Serrano chilies along with cilantro and other seasonings. In my recipe below, I use only Poblanos. If you like it with more chili peppers heat, replace part of Poblanos with Serranos.

January 17, 2017
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Dukkah’s Exotic Charm

Just reading the list of ingredients convinced me I have to make it: roasted hazelnuts and sunflower seeds, fennel and cumin seeds, dried green peppercorns, coriander seeds, sesame, nigella, sea salt, and sweet paprika. Ottolenghi suggests sprinkling this mix over leafy salads, roasted vegetables, bean pastes, and rice and legume dishes. “It adds an exotic charm,” — he says. And it’s true to the letter!

July 30, 2016
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Miso-Braised Shishito Peppers

There is no Japanese cooking class I teach or tasting event I host without mentioning Asahi Imports store. Besides having the best selection of sake and Japanese beer in Austin, they now make really good fresh snacks in store. Every time I shop there, I treat myself with their onigiri, and they are always amazing. Last time I’ve got onigiri with miso-braised shishito — to die for! Today I’ve made my own at home using the recipe below.

June 20, 2016
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Easy-Fizzy Cucumbers

If you live in Texas, where we have everything available in every supermarket, you don’t really need to know how it works. The main three ingredients for success are baby aka cocktail aka small Persian cucumbers, San Pellegrino carbonated mineral water, and Kosher salt. Just skip to the recipe and do it! Unless, you are curious…

May 26, 2016
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Cold Summer Soups: Botvin’ya

This season I returned to making real kvass, which resulted in rediscovering some traditional kvass-based Slavic cold soups — Russian botvin’ya, Belorussian haladnik or bats’vinne, Ukrainian cold borsch, etc.

May 19, 2016
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Chimmichurri

Chimmichurri is a sauce originally from Argentina and Uruguay. Its main ingredients are oil, water and/or vinegar, parsley, garlic, and other herbs, spices, and vegetables. It’s perfect for grilled meats, but it is also good with so many other foods, including vegetarian — grilled vegetables, fresh goat cheese, mozzarella and burrata, toasted bread, etc. Someone said that when you add chimmichurri to the dish, it fills like you are dining in the middle of the herb garden. So true!

May 1, 2016
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Preserving Ramps: Frozen

Freezing herbs is the easiest and fastest way to preserve them. When added at the end of cooking or right before serving, frozen herbs work almost the same as fresh. You can freeze whole, chopped, or pureed herbs. Freeze them in water to make flavored ice cubes for drinks and cocktails. Or freeze them mixed with vegetable oil, butter, or animal fat to use for cooking savory dishes. Frozen herbs retain their taste, smell, and nutritional benefits for up to one year. Since ramps season is so short, freezing is a great way to make this unique ingredient available for longer than a few weeks.

April 13, 2016
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Preserving Ramps: Dry

Allium tricoccum — commonly known as ramp, ramps, spring onion, ramson, wild leek, wood leek, and wild garlic — is a North American species of wild onion widespread across eastern Canada and the eastern United States. It is similar to better known in Texas chives, but with more delicate and intriguing flavor profile. I often use ramps as a flavoring ingredient for my tasting events and catering. French omelets with ramps are admired and remembered by everybody who tasted them. Green ramps paste adorns fresh pasta, risotto, soups, beans — they become unforgettable. Ramps compound butter is another hit, as well as pickled ramps served with roasted or grilled meats and poultry.

April 12, 2016
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