Tag Archives: chili peppers

Spice Rubbed Steak w/ Avocado-Grapefruit Salsa

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This meal lets you dress up an ordinary steak with a bit of spice and seasonal fruit.  I love the marbling in rib eye steaks but you can use whichever cut of meat you prefer.  The spice rub give the meat a little extra kick while the grapefruit and avocado put a new spin on a typical salsa.  Serve alongside a baked potato and you have a complete meal in less than half an hour.  Now that is the perfect way to end your work week.

SPICE RUBBED STEAK W/ AVOCADO-GRAPEFRUIT SALSA

2 rib eye steaks

For the steak rub:

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon coriander

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Evenly divide the spice rub amongst both sides of the two steaks.  Use your fingers to massage the spice into the meat.
  • Allow to sit for 10 minutes before grilling.
  • Lightly grease a grill with cooking spray.  Pre-heat the grill to medium-high heat.
  • Place the steaks in the center of the grill and cook for approximately 9 minutes (for medium-rare) to desired level of doneness flipping every two to three minutes.  The amount of grilling time will depend upon the thickness of the meat and your personal preferences.

For the salsa:

1 red grapefruit, peeled and sectioned with membranes removed, cut into bite sized pieces

1 ripe Haas avocado, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks

1 chili pepper, seeded and minced

2 tablespoons minced red onion

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon minced fresh mint

Juice of 1 lime

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
  • Serve along side the grilled steak.

Serves 2

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Guacamole

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A party isn’t a party unless there is guacamole on the table. Or at least that is how I feel. But then again, I love all things avocado. There is something about guacamole that everyone seems to love. It is simultaneously smooth yet chunky, spicy yet mellow and takes corn tortilla chips from ordinary to extraordinary. And guacamole is versatile. Sure it is a natural pairing for chips but I also love to use it as a dip for fresh vegetables and smeared on top of a cheeseburger. I’ve also been known to eat it as is by the spoonful. Yes, I like it that much and judging by the speed at which it disappears when I make it, others agree.

The key to a good guacamole is ripe avocados. You want your avocado to be soft yet not mushing. Peeling a perfectly ripe avocado can be a messy endeavor. To make the process easier, I like to split the avocado in half lengthwise and pop out the pit. Holding each half in the palm of my hand I score the flesh through to the skin in a grid pattern. Holding the avocado over a bowl, simply invert the skin and use a fork or spoon to scrape out the flesh. And here’s an added tip: if you don’t plan on serving the guacamole right away, and it tastes best if it sits for at least half an hour, place the avocado pits directly into the dip and cover with plastic wrap until ready to use. The pits will keep the avocados from turning brown.

GUACAMOLE

3 ripe avocados, cut into chunks as described above

1 small shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 chili pepper, seeded and minced

Juice of 1 lime

1/3 cup finely minced cilantro

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

Salt & pepper

  • Place the avocado in a large mixing bowl and mash with a fork until it is slightly chunky or has reached a consistency you prefer.
  • Add the shallot, garlic, chili pepper, lime juice, cilantro and cumin powder. Stir well and season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the avocado pits to the guacamole, cover tightly with plastic warp and refrigerate.
  • When ready to serve, remove the pits, taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.

Yields: 2 cups

Cambodian Noodle Soup

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With the exception of my travels through the Balkans, I have yet to visit any metropolitan area where I didn’t stumble upon a pho shop.  With their steaming bowls of noodles, broth, and an endless variety of add-ins, these Thai noodle soup shops have a cult like following that make them both universal and hard not to like.  In grad school my favorite lunch was a steaming bowl of pho from the student union.  The options were endless so I could eat there every day without repeating the same bowl of soup twice.

I had never made pho before but decided to give it a try when my craving for the hot broth covered noodles got the best of me.  In browsing through recipe options I came across one in The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, The Splendid Table is my favorite radio program on NPR.  I can even stream their broadcasts online meaning I can get my Lynn Rossetto Kasper fix while living overseas).  I was set to give the pho recipe a try then I turned the page and saw the Cambodian twist on the soup which sounded even more intriguing.  Unable to decide which version to make, I combined the best elements of both recipes to form what I present here.  You can also add or substitute ingredients as your palate or pantry dictates.

The verdict?  This soup is delicious but a lot more work than popping into your local pho shop. But if you don’t have one in close proximity to you, make this soup.  You won’t be disappointed.

CAMBODIAN NOODLE SOUP

For the broth:

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 two inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced

6 whole cloves

1 star anise

Freshly ground black pepper

7 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce

For the soup:

8 ounces linguine-style rice noodles

6 ounces thinly sliced top round steak

1 1/2 cups winter squash, diced

1 cup unsweetened pineapple chunks

1 medium tomato, diced

For the table salad:

10 sprigs fresh cilantro

8 sprigs Thai or other fresh basil

8 mint sprigs

Generous handful bean sprouts

2 Serrano chiles, thinly sliced

1 large lime, cut into wedges

Add-in sauces:

Asian hot sauce

Hoisin sauce

  • Place a rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler and then pre-heat the oven.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and evenly distribute the onion, garlic, ginger, cloves, star anise, and five grinds of black pepper over the baking sheet.
  • Broil for 5-6 minutes until the spices are fragrant and the onions begin to brown.  Scrape the mixture into a large soup pot.
  • Add the broth, sugar, fish sauce, and squash to the pot.  Cover the pot tightly and bring the entire mixture to a simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  • Meanwhile, place the noodles in a large pan and cover with very hot tap water.  Allow to soak for 20 minutes or until the noodles are tender.  Drain, rinse with cold water, then divide evenly between two large soup bowls.
  • Thinly slice the steak into bite sized pieces.  (Hint:  For easier slicing, place the steak in the freezer before you begin making the soup.  Allow it to sit for 20 minutes then remove it from the freezer and slice).  Evenly divide the meat between the two soup bowls.  The hot broth will cook it to a medium-rare
  • Arrange the table salad ingredients on a medium-sized platter and place on the table.
  • When the squash is tender, add the pineapple and tomatoes to the broth and stir well to combine.  Cook for 1 minute to allow the broth to return to a simmer.
  • Ladle the broth over the noodles and meat and serve immediately topped with the table salad and sauces of your choice.

Serves 2

Chicken Tamale Pie

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How do you make a pot of chili even more comforting? Top it with cornbread then bake it until bubbling! This recipe, from Food 52, does just that, turning a warm and spicy stew into a one dish casserole that is sure to please everyone. And unlike many chilies, it doesn’t require long hours of slow cooking. The entire dish is actually quite simple with chicken, beans and corn simmering along with spices in a tomato broth. I’ve used all black beans in my version but you can use different beans or even a combination of beans. Use whatever you like or have on hand. The cornmeal topping is essentially polenta and this simple topping makes the dish feel like a complete meal.

This is so good and so satisfying. And as I discovered, it tastes even better when reheated the next day for lunch. You might even want to double the recipe!

CHICKEN TAMALE PIE

For the filling:

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can sweet corn, drained

1 4-ounce can green chilies

1 12-ounce can diced tomatoes

 
For the topping:3/4 cup yellow cornmeal1/2 teaspoon saltcups watertablespoon unsalted butter

  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • In a large heavy skillet set over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until it shimmers.
  • Add the cubed chicken, garlic, coriander, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. Cook until chicken is browned on all sides. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  • Add chopped onion to the pot and cook down until soft and fragrant.
  • Add beans, corn, chilies, and tomatoes.
  • Bring mix to a boil and allow to cook and thicken. After the mixture has thickened, stir in the chicken and cook until heated through.
  • Remove chili from heat.
  • In a small pot, heat water and salt over medium high heat to almost boiling.
  • Stir in the cornmeal and continue whisking while it incorporates the water and thickens, about 5 minutes.
  • When it is thick, add the butter and mix in to melt. Remove from heat.
  • Pour the chili into a deep casserole dish then spread the cornmeal mixture evenly over the top.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is firm and slightly browned.
  •  Allow to cool briefly, and then scoop into bowls to serve.

 Serves 6

Spicy Black Bean Soup

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I love black beans. In Albania they were virtually impossible to come by and when I could find them they were always dried. I have nothing against dried beans, in fact I prefer them on most occasions. However, some times it is nice to have canned ones on hand since they are just so easy to use. Case in point this spicy black bean soup adapted from Epicurious. If you have the time and plan ahead, by all means soak and cook your own dried beans. If not, open a few cans and you can have this warm and comforting black bean soup on the table in no time. Serve it with double corn and thyme cornbread or thick slices of roasted red pepper bread and dinner is served.

SPICY BLACK BEAN SOUP

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

1 4-ounce can diced green chilies

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 jalapeno chilies, chopped with seeds

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 15-ounce cans black beans, undrained

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

8 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

  • Heat the oil in a large soup pot set over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion, green chilies, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, coriander and salt. Saute until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the beans with their juices and the broth. Bring the soup to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until the flavors are blended, about 15 minutes. At this point you can reduce the heat to low and allow to sit for up to 1 hour.
  • Using a stick blender, puree the soup until smooth. Alternatively, if you prefer more texture, you can puree up to 3 cups of the soup and allow the rest to remain chunky.
  • Adjust the seasoning in the soup if needed and serve topped with the chopped cilantro.

Serves 4

(Holy) Guacamole

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A party isn’t a party unless there is guacamole on the table. Or at least that is how I feel. But then again, I love all things avocado. There is something about guacamole that everyone seems to love. It is simultaneously smooth yet chunky, spicy yet mellow and takes corn tortilla chips from ordinary to extraordinary. And guacamole is versatile. Sure it is a natural pairing for chips but I also love to use it as a dip for fresh vegetables and smeared on top of a cheeseburger. I’ve also been known to eat it as is by the spoonful. Yes, I like it that much and judging by the speed at which it disappears when I make it, others agree.

The key to a good guacamole is ripe avocados. You want your avocado to be soft yet not mushing. Peeling a perfectly ripe avocado can be a messy endeavor. To make the process easier, I like to split the avocado in half lengthwise and pop out the pit. Holding each half in the palm of my hand I score the flesh through to the skin in a grid pattern. Holding the avocado over a bowl, simply invert the skin and use a fork or spoon to scrape out the flesh. And here’s an added tip: if you don’t plan on serving the guacamole right away, and it tastes best if it sits for at least half an hour, place the avocado pits directly into the dip and cover with plastic wrap until ready to use. The pits will keep the avocados from turning brown.

GUACAMOLE

3 ripe avocados, cut into chunks as described above

1 small shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 chili pepper, seeded and minced

Juice of 1 lime

1/3 cup finely minced cilantro

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

Salt & pepper

  • Place the avocado in a large mixing bowl and mash with a fork until it is slightly chunky or has reached a consistency you prefer.
  • Add the shallot, garlic, chili pepper, lime juice, cilantro and cumin powder. Stir well and season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the avocado pits to the guacamole, cover tightly with plastic warp and refrigerate.
  • When ready to serve, remove the pits, taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.

Yields: 2 cups

Lamb, Orange & Chile Kabobs

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Fire up your grill and impress your guests with these flavorful lamb kabobs from The Food Republic. Cinnamon and garlic pair with chili peppers and orange to create a surprisingly tasty combination that is sure to wow. Because they marinade overnight the spices really permeate the meat. Lamb is best but if you can’t find it feel free to substitute a lean cut of beef. This is one of those dishes that takes some planning since the meat does need to marinate overnight. However, once you are ready to grill the meal comes together quickly. (Prep your meat on Thursday night and you could even make this as a Fast Friday dinner). To compliment the flavors and the quick factor, I served these kabobs over a bed of couscous. Yum!

 

LAMB, ORANGE & CHILE KABOBS

4 double metal skewers

2 1/4 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed

1/2 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, crushed with 1 tablespoon sea salt

2 bay leaves, finely chopped
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 large orange
2 red chilies, halved lengthwise and seeded
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
honey, to drizzle
  • Cut the lamb into 2 1/2 inch pieces and place in a large sealable plastic bag.
  • Add the oil, crushed garlic and salt, bay leaves, cinnamon and all spice and seal the bag. Massage the bag with your hands until all of the ingredients are combined and the meat is well coated.
  • Add the orange zest and chiles to the meat then juice the orange and add to the bag.
  • Reseal the bag and allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight.
  • When you are ready to cook, remove the lamb from the refrigerator, season with salt and pepper, and mix well. Allow the mixture to come to room temperature before proceeding.
  • Cut the orange zest and chiles into pieces.
  • Threat the lamb onto skewers alternating with the pieces of chile peppers and orange zest.
  • Preheat a grill to medium-high heat.
  • Grill the skewers over direct heat, turning occasionally until the meat is cooked through, approximately 12 to 15 minutes depending upon your preferred level of doneness.
  • Remove the meat from the grill and drizzle with honey. Tent the meat with foil and allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Serves 4
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