Category Archives: recipes

Crossroads eggplant caponata, buckwheat and black quinoa

 

(from right) Chef Tal Ronnen, Chef Scott Jones &MC at Sun Valley Harvest Festival 2013
(from right) Chef Tal Ronnen, Chef Scott Jones &MC at Sun Valley Harvest Festival 2013

Chef Tal Ronnen, owner of West Hollywood’s Crossroads, and his executive chef Scott Jones demonstrated their flavorful vegetarian cuisine for well-healed foodies at Sun Valley Lodge.  Although Sun Valley, a celebrity studded Idaho town,  may be out of budget for many, Ronnen and Jones’ cuisine at Crossroads is well within the means of the average working American. Chefs to A-list celebrities, Tal Ronnen’s bestselling The Conscious Cook will intrigue any carnivore.

Chef Tal Ronnen’s Crossroads eggplant caponata over toasted buckwheat and black quinoa

Ingredients for the caponata

Ingredients for caponata
Ingredients for caponata
  • 5 large sweet red peppers, roasted and diced
  • 2 large eggplant, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium to large white onions, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons capers
  • 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon red pepper flakes

Preparation for the caponata

Roasted, peeled & seeded peppers
Roasted, peeled & seeded peppers
  1. Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C).
  2. Place the red peppers on a lightly oiled or parchment paper lined sheet pan.
  3. Roast the peppers for 30 minutes turning every 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the peppers from the oven and place in a paper bag. Roll the top of the bag shut and cool for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the peppers and slip off the charred skin. Discard the seeds and dice the peppers. You should have approximately 2 to 2-1/2 cups diced pepper.
caponata saute
caponata saute

6. Heat a wide deep (4”) pot on medium high heat for a couple minutes. Add the olive oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add the eggplant, onions and celery and sauté for several minutes stirring a couple times. Add the red peppers and cook for 3 minutes more.

7. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.

8. Reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer and cook uncovered for 1 hour stirring every 8 minutes.

9. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: The caponata will stay fresh covered and refrigerated for several days and makes a terrific cold appetizer on crackers or topping for bruschetta.

Ingredients for quinoa

black quinoa
black quinoa

The use of black quinoa is for color contrast, not taste. Therefore any color quinoa is fine.

  • 1 cup black quinoa
  • 3 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt

Preparation for quinoa

  1. Place the quinoa in a bowl, cover with cold water and let sit for 5 minutes. Drain through a strainer and rinse.
  2. Bring the water or stock to a boil. Add the quinoa and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. When done the quinoa will display a tiny white thread.
  3. Drain through a sieve and return to the pan. Cover the pan and let rest for 10 minutes.

Ingredients for the toasted buckwheat

buckwheat
buckwheat
  • 1 cup toasted buckwheat (kasha)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper to taste

Preparation for the toasted buckwheat

  1. If you have purchased untoasted buckwheat (kasha), place the buckwheat in a dry sauté pan and toast over high heat, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. In a medium saucepan bring the water, oil and salt to a boil. Add the buckwheat and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed.

Place a generous spoonful of quinoa and buckwheat, side-by-side, on a dinner plate. Place a generous serving of caponata on top but leave each of the grains still visible on the sides. Serve with a tossed salad or a Greek salad and a crisp dry Sauvignon blanc and you have a delicious vegetarian meal.

eggplant caponata, buckwheat and black quinoa
eggplant caponata, buckwheat and black quinoa

 

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Hellenic News of America

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Not all Jordan almonds are Jordan Almonds

meze (small plates) in Jordan
meze (small plates) in Jordan

This article on the cuisine of Jordan – with recipes ­– has little to do with almonds; it has everything to do with the misunderstood terms of authenticity and fusion when it relates to national cuisines. Yet let’s take almonds as an example, in Jordan they do not coat this delectable nut in a tooth breaking armor of sugar. The reason is simple; Jordan Almonds are an invention of the Roman Empire and the Kingdom of Jordan didn’t exist until the 20th century – let’s not get into the derivation of the name.

tomatoes & shredded cucumbers
tomatoes & shredded cucumbers

Salatat Khyar and Fatoosh are ubiquitous and refreshing cucumber salads, part of the common repertoire in Jordan. Yet their main vegetable, the cucumber, probably didn’t make its way into Levantine cuisine from India until circa 1000 B.C.E. – long after a thriving food culture had developed. The Spice Route and the Silk Road, legendary commercial links between Europe and Asia, intersected in Jordan and the greater Levant resulting in today’s timeless fusion Middle Eastern cuisine.

mint & lemon
mint & lemon

The many variations on classic cucumber salads found throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean mimic the layers of cultural influence made possible through commerce on the Spice Route and the Silk Road. Research Salatat Khyar and often the Algerian recipe appears, significant for the absence of yogurt in the recipe despite that dairy staple being otherwise well utilized. Why the Berbers and Moors of North Africa left yogurt out is a mystery.

raw almonds
raw almonds

Still this article is not about cucumbers, yogurt or almonds – although Jordan has wonderful raw almonds that are another story altogether. National cuisines – aka authentic – are a myth simply because cooking is regional; it’s all about what’s available. For most that was a 50-mile radius from one’s village. Yet for the Middle East that was the known world.

Pomegranate molasses
Pomegranate molasses

The delectable smoky flavor of baba ganouj – Jordan’s spelling – is known throughout the Middle Eastern culinary world. Except in Jordan tahini (sesame paste) is absent. Yet tahini was common in the region. Pomegranate molasses on the other hand was an import from Persia brought in by caravan. Concentrating juices of perishable fruits (dibs) was common. The addition of mint is a regional Jordanian variation as well not found in the more commonly known Lebanese baba ghanoush. The result for Jordan’s baba ganuj is a recipe for chopped salad rather than a dip. It’s a refreshing mezze (small plate) with notes of mint and sweet/sour pomegranate.

roasted eggplant & roasted peppers
roasted eggplant & roasted peppers

Baba Ganuj (serves 8)

Pomegranate molasses is available in better markets (Whole Foods, Trader Joes, etc) and Middle Eastern groceries. This recipe comes from The Petra Kitchen, Petra, Jordan.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds eggplant (approximately 2 medium size)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

Preparation:

  1. Prick the eggplants with a fork and roast on a baking dish in a 375° oven for 45 to 60 minutes until very soft. (Roasting over charcoal in a baking dish will impart a better smokey flavor. Turn the eggplants several times.) Allow the eggplants to cool. Split the eggplants and scoop out all the flesh discarding the skins. Place in a stainless steel or ceramic mixing bowl.
  2. Add olive oil, lemon juice and salt and mash with a fork until a chunky puree.
  3. Dice the tomato, pepper and onion. Crush and dice the garlic and add all to the eggplants.
  4. Stir in mint.

Garnish with parsley and/or additional mint and serve with flat bread.

ingredients for Muhammara in food processor
ingredients for Muhammara in food processor

Muhammara, redolent of roasted red peppers and walnuts, means brick colored in Arabic because that’s the color of the dip – the color of Wadi Rum sand. Yet variations are all over the world of the Spice Road and Silk Route as far north as Georgia in the Caucuses. It’s rich tasting yet light in texture, and this Jordanian recipe is simple to prepare.

Muhammara – 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ pounds red bell peppers
  • 1 or 2 small hot chili peppers
  • 6 ounces walnuts
  • ½ cup wheat crackers
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation:

  1. Roast the red peppers until skins are blistered and charred using one of these three methods – (1) on a baking dish in a 400° oven for 10 – 15 minutes (2) over charcoal turning the peppers several times, or (3) over the open flame of a gas stove holding the peppers with tongs or a long fork like marshmallows.
  2. Place the peppers in a bowl and cover or in a paper bag for 15 minutes. This will steam the peppers allowing the charred skin to easily slip off. Discard the skins, seeds and membranes.
  3. In a food processor, grind the walnuts, crackers, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, cumin, salt and sugar until smooth.
  4. Add the red peppers and process until smooth.
  5. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a thin stream and then the chili peppers. If too thick add 1 to 2 tablespoons water.
  6. Scrap the puree into a stainless, glass or ceramic bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight for best flavor, although it’s fine to eat it right away.

Serve drizzled with extra olive oil and/or pomegranate molasses garnished with walnuts or pine nuts and accompanied by wheat crackers or flat bread.

smoked salmon on flatbread with labna, dill & capers
smoked salmon on flatbread with labna, dill & capers

Labna (soft yogurt cheese) is more common than butter as a spread especially on traditional flat breads. It’s frequently on the breakfast table along with smoked fish. Flatbread with labna, smoked salmon, red onion, capers and dill is as common in Jordan as bagels and lox in America. Fusion isn’t the adulteration of cuisine; it’s evolution and creativity.

Baba Ganuj & Muhammara
Baba Ganuj & Muhammara

 

Disclosure: the author was a guest of Jordan Tourism North America arranged for members of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association. Royal Jordanian Airlines has non-stop flights to Amman from Chicago and New York. Baba Ganuj recipe courtesy of the Petra Kitchen, Petra, Jordan. Muhammara, recipe “The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean” by Paula Wolfert)

You can read additional articles on Jordan by Marc d’Entremont at:

The historic beauty of Jordan

Four serene destinations in timeless Jordan

Petra and pizza fuses Jordan with the ancients

A glimpse at the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

 

 

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Hellenic News of America

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Cedar planked salmon: the Pacific Northwest on a plate

Cedar planked salmon & fennel
Cedar planked salmon & fennel

A trip to the Pacific Northwest inspired this dish. It’s hard to ignore the glistening salmon, the allure of the sea and the moist forest scents of cedar. The forests and rivers provided the ingredients for this dish, common to the Native American cultures of the Salish Sea. Here it’s fused with ginger from the east captured in English inspired preserves. Most grocers sell ginger preserves, and it’s available through mail order.

ginger preserves
ginger preserves
pure apple cider
pure apple cider

The rich oils of wild salmon are excellent for absorbing flavors, and the aromatic wood pairs well with the tangy sweetness of the ginger and lemon. The slow caramelizing with sweet onion enhances the anise flavor of fresh fennel. The apple cider syrup napping the vegetables compliments the ginger glaze on the fish.

Cedar planks for cooking are available from kitchen supply stores, upscale grocers and by mail order. Never use cedar that has been treated for construction. Follow the instructions for soaking the cedar plank before proceeding with cooking.

 

cedar plant soaking in apple cider
cedar plant soaking in apple cider

 

Ginger Glazed Cedar Planked Salmon & Cider Glazed Caramelized Fennel 

Ingredients for the cedar plank:

  • 1 cedar plank
  • 3 to 4 cups apple cider (water or wine may be substituted).

Preparation:

Two hours before grilling, place the cedar plank in a roasting pan large enough to fit.

  1. Pour the apple cider over the plank and soak, turning once. Soak for two hours.
fresh fennel
fresh fennel

Ingredients for the fennel and sweet onion:

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup simmering water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Cut stalks off fennel bulb. Remove and reserve fronds, discard the stalks. Slice bulb into 4 to 6 slices.
  2. Peel and slice the onion into 4 to 6 slices.
  3. Melt the butter in a 12-inch sauté pan, or one large enough to fit the fennel and onions in a single layer.
  4. Arrange the fennel and onions on top of the melted butter.
  5. Add the simmering water and cover. Reduce heat and gently steam for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the lid and cook an additional 15 minutes allowing the water to evaporate and the vegetables to lightly brown. Turn at least once.
salmon ready for the grill
salmon ready for the grill

Ingredients for the salmon

  • 1 pound wild caught salmon fillet, ideally with the skin on
  • olive oil to coat
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons ginger preserves

Preparation:

  1. Heat a gas or charcoal grill to about 350ºF or a medium heat-setting.
  2. Remove the plank from the apple cider and place it on a baking sheet. Reserve the apple cider for the fennel glaze.
  3. Place the salmon fillet, skin side down, onto the plank. Lightly coat the top of the salmon with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Mix the lemon juice and zest into the ginger preserves and spoon over the salmon.
  5. Place the cedar plank on the grill and cover the grill. Cook for 12 to 18 minutes. The salmon is done when it is uniformly pink in the center.
grilled salmon
grilled salmon

Preparation for the fennel’s cider glaze:

  1. reduced cider
    reduced cider

    While salmon is grilling, pour the reserved apple cider into a sauce pan and reduce over high heat until it’s a light syrup, about a 75 percent reduction.

 

Plate the salmon and fennel:

  1. When the salmon’s cooked, remove the plank to a cutting board. Slice the fillet into three portions and, using a thin spatula, separate the skin from the fillet.
  2. Arrange on plates with the fennel and onion. Drizzle the apple cider syrup over the fennel and decorate the dish with chopped fennel fronds.

Usually cedar planks can be re-used once or twice until they become overly charred, cracked or impossible to clean. Clean under hot running water – do not use detergent – scrubbing off the skin and loose ash. Allow to dry on a rack and store with the grill.

Mount Shuksan, North Cascades National Park, Washington
Mount Shuksan, North Cascades National Park, Washington

 

You can read more articles by Marc d’Entremont at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

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A surprise pairing: vanilla, pineapple, salmon, scallops

Sautéed salmon and scallops with caramelized pineapple and vanilla sauce
Sautéed salmon and scallops with caramelized pineapple and vanilla sauce

Vanilla sauce and pineapple certainly don’t seem like they ought to pair with fish and seafood. Yet this savory sauce along with caramelized fresh pineapple accent the natural sweet notes of salmon and scallops in surprising ways. Just as in desserts, the vanilla highlights the natural flavors of this dish.

As a chef I enjoy playing with food especially deconstructing dishes I’ve enjoyed in restaurants. The recipe I’ve created for this dish was inspired by several variations of these four ingredients over the years. For this dish please resist substitutions.

vanilla bean
vanilla bean

Vanilla extract will be too intense whereas the natural bean provides a subtle essence of vanilla. Sweet unsalted butter will coat your mouth with flavors in a way oil will not. Canned pineapple is too wet to properly caramelize; seek out a ripe fresh fruit.

Sautéed salmon and scallops with caramelized pineapple and vanilla sauce

wild salmon fillets over fresh tarragon
wild salmon fillets over fresh tarragon

Ingredients for two generous servings

  • 2 six ounce wild salmon fillets with skin
  • 6 sea scallops, approximately ½ pound
  • 3 one inch thick slices of fresh pineapple, skin removed
  • 7 tablespoons sweet butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves
  • kosher salt and white pepper to taste
vanilla bean infusing wine
vanilla bean infusing wine

Ingredients for the sauce

  • 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 1/3rd cup (5 ounces) white wine
  • 2 tablespoons grated sweet onion
  • 2 tablespoons sweet butter
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 2 tablespoons white wine
  • kosher salt and white pepper to taste

Preparation

Place one large cast iron pan and two medium size cast iron or heavy stainless steel sauté pans into a cold oven and preheat the oven to 425° F.

pineapple caramelizing
pineapple caramelizing

For the salmon, scallops and pineapple

  1. Lightly season the salmon on both sides with kosher salt and white pepper.
  2. Dry the sea scallops with paper towel.
  3. Remove the pineapple skin and cut 3 one inch thick round slices. Slice each round in half. (reserve and refrigerate the remaining fruit for other uses).
  4. Pull off 1 packed tablespoon of fresh tarragon leaves

(Set all these ingredients aside and make the vanilla sauce before proceeding with step 5).

  1. Using a thick potholder remove the large hot cast iron pan and place it on the stove over high heat – leave the other 2 pans in the oven. Melt 3 tablespoons of sweet butter in the pan, add the fresh tarragon leaves and top immediately with the salmon fillets skin side down. Sauté the salmon for 2 minutes.
  2. Using a thick potholder, remove the medium pans from the oven and place on the stove. Using the same potholder place the large cast iron pan with the salmon into the oven and bake for 7 to 10 minutes. Leave the salmon skin side down as it will become crisp and flavorful.
  3. Place the medium cast iron or stainless steel pans onto high heat and melt 2 tablespoons sweet butter in each. Sauté the pineapple in one pan until lightly caramelized for 5 to 7 minutes turning half way through.
  4. While the pineapple is cooking  sauté the sea scallops in the other medium pan for about 2 minutes per side.
  5. When the pineapple and scallops are finished remove the salmon from the oven and follow the plating instructions.
fresh tarragon in the pan ready to be topped with the salmon
fresh tarragon in the pan ready to be topped with the salmon

For the sauce

  1. Slice the vanilla bean in half and gently scrape the seeds into a small saucepan and add the pod. Pour the wine over the vanilla. Over medium heat bring the wine to a simmer and reduce to 4 tablespoons (2 ounces). Discard the pods.
  2. In a small sauté pan melt 2 tablespoons sweet butter over medium heat and add the grated onion. Gently cook for a few minutes until the onion is translucent. Do not brown.
  3. Add the onions to the reduced vanilla wine and pour in the almond milk.
  4. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook uncovered for 7 to 10 minutes.
  5. Dissolve the cornstarch in 2 tablespoons white wine and stir into the almond milk. Simmer gently for 1 to 2 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened.
  6. Line a strainer with cheesecloth and strain the sauce into a small heat proof bowl and keep warm by placing into a larger bowl containing enough hot water to reach half way up the side of the sauce bowl.

(Continue with steps 5 – 9 of the salmon, scallops and pineapple).

To plate the dish

  1. Cover the bottom of a dinner plate with vanilla sauce. Place one salmon fillet in the center of the plate. Arrange 3 sea scallops on top and/or to the side of the fillet. Arrange 3 half slices of pineapple to the side of the salmon and scallops.

Enjoy this mélange of flavors from the tropics and the sea with a crisp green salad and a dry white wine such as a sauvignon blanc.

Sautéed salmon and scallops with caramelized pineapple and vanilla sauce
Sautéed salmon and scallops with caramelized pineapple and vanilla sauce

 

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Hellenic News of America

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Exquisite Pacific Bisque at the El Faro Hotel, Costa Rica

El Faro Seafood Bisque
El Faro Seafood Bisque

Hotel El Faro’s Executive Chef Ali Garita Fonesta makes the finest seafood bisque that I as a chef journalist has ever tasted in all my international travels. Besides the talent necessary to create such a delectable dish, location to the freshest fish and seafood is essential. Quepos on Costa Rica’s central Pacific Coast is that ideal location.

fish tacos El FaroThe Pacific Ocean coastline of Costa Rica is a veritable super market for some of the freshest sustainable seafood available. Costa Rica has strict laws governing commercial fishing – catch and release only for sports fishing.

Only forty some miles south of Costa Rica’s capital of San Jose, the Central Pacific Coast has been popular with locals and expats for decades. Besides the warm water of Manuel Antonio National Park and the shrikes of the holler monkey, Quepos is a quintessential beach town. Lush vegetation surrounds a jumble of beach houses, B & Bs, hotels, restaurants and bars.

Beach at Manuel Antonio National Park
Beach at Manuel Antonio National Park
El Faro, lighthouse, off Quepos, Costa Rica
El Faro, lighthouse, off Quepos, Costa Rica

From the waterfront the landscape rises dramatically up tropical forested hills. Sitting high up the hills is Costa Rica’s unique shipping container Hotel El Faro. From every balcony is a view of the dramatic swimming pool and its namesake the El Faro (lighthouse) clearly visible on its small rock island in the harbor.

Hotel El Faro
Hotel El Faro

The use of shipping containers as unique modular housing, given the tiny house movement, is in line with Costa Rica’s drive for ecologically sensitive living. The repurposed containers provide all the amenities any guest would desire. Sizes range from compact to suites with efficiency kitchens.

stream at El Faro
stream at El Faro

Although the location is positioned on a dramatically steep location the hotel provides transport from its reception area and parking lot to the hotel rooms. The reception area is at the base of an impressive tropical plant and rock landscaped stream that flows from the hotel high on the hill. It’s a favorite habitat for Costa Rica’s impressive garrobo lizards which are virtual pets of the El Faro.

Yet it’s the restaurant that’s the El Faro’s most impressive feature. Under the talented hands of Chef Ali Garita Fonseca this open air venue at the edge of the hotel’s infinity pool is ideal. The location is perfect and the cuisine equals the view. All the selections I sampled were superb, but the Pacific Seafood Bisque was outstanding.

garrobo lizards at El Faro
garrobo lizards at El Faro

Chef Ali Garita Fonseca’s El Faro Seafood Bisque – 2 to 4 servings depending if it’s a first course or the entrée.

Notes: This is not inexpensive for the average North American but well worth the cost, time and effort. Although a cook can substitute packaged seafood stock, the dish’s unique flavor begins with a home made fish stock. Since it’s best to purchase a whole small red snapper simply ask the fish monger to give you the head and tail after filleting the fish.

Ingredients:

For the fish stock:

  • Head and tail of a filleted red snapper or other firm white  fish
  • medium onion peeled and chopped
  • 2 to 3 stalks of fresh celery
  • small bunch of rinsed cilantro
  • 1 to 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 1 peeled carrot
  • 6 cups cold water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Add all the ingredients to a pot and cover with the cold water. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 40 to 60 minutes. Strain and reserve the stock. Discard the solids.

Soup ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons sweet butter
  • 1 large sweet bell green pepper chopped
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 4 chopped celery stalks
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cups fish stock
  • 2 ounces chives chopped
  • 1 ounce of fresh chopped cilantro
  • 4 ounces shrimp in the shell
  • 8 to 12 ounces of red snapper fillets or other firm white fish
  • 4 ounces of cleaned clams in the shell
  • 4 ounces of cleaned mussels.
  • 8 ounces of lump crab meat or 16 ounces of crab legs in the shell
  • 6 ounces of sliced octopus – tubes &/or tenticles
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the peppers, onion, celery and gently cook for 5 to 8 minutes until soft but not browned.
  2. Add the white wine, fish stock and herbs. Bring to a gentle simmer.
  3. Add all the fish and seafood. Cover and gently simmer for 5 to 8 minutes or until the clams and mussels open.

You may want to garnish the bisque with additions of steamed rice, common in Hispanic cuisine, and spritzes of fresh lime.

El Faro restaurant & pool
El Faro restaurant & pool

When you go: Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) is served by many airlines worldwide and is within an easy 20 minute drive of downtown San Jose.

Disclaimer: The author was a guest of Hotel El Faro,  ENroute Communications and Revista Ander de Viaje. Special thanks to my guide throughout my stay in Costa Rica Mauricio Aymerich, director Small Distinctive Hotels. Transportation within Costa Rica was provided by Toyota Rent a Car of San Jose. A Rav4 made Costa Rica’s mountain roads, especially the few unpaved, safe and comfortable.

Additional articles on Costa Rica by Marc d’Entremont:
It begins with scented hand towels
Cuna del Angel is discretely gluten-free in Costa Rica
Monteverde Biological Reserve is a climate change laboratory
Costa Rica and the vision of Pedro Belmar
Cream of Pejibaye: a Costa Rican national dish
Hotel Grano de Oro: ethics and luxury in Costa Rica
Villa Caletas: luxury with a conscience in Costa Rica

 

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Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

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Easy lentil and prosciutto stuffed peppers

Pepper with lentils – before baking
Pepper with lentils – before baking

 

As I often do, I created a recipe with ingredients I had on hand. In this case it became a baked stuffed pepper recipe using lentils instead of rice. The nutritional difference between rice and lentils is negligible. I simply like the taste of lentils and figured it was a good alternative. The prosciutto and feta cheese adds all the salt this dish requires.

Ingredients for 2 to 3 servings:

  • 3 bell peppers – note: I prefer to mix bell pepper colors: red, yellow, green, and orange
  • ½ cup lentils
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups water
  • 1/3rd of a sweet onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 celery stalks with leaves from the center of the bunch
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 slices prosciutto
  • 1/3rd cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 6 leaves fresh basil
  • 3 sundried tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

Procedure:

  1. Bring 1 & ½ cups (12 ounces) water to a boil. Add the lentils and reduce heat. Cover when the lentils are gently simmering. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes checking half way through to add additional boiling water if necessary. The lentils should be tender and all water evaporated.
  2. While lentils are simmering, slice the tops of the peppers off and set aside. Place the peppers into an oven proof baking dish that will provide a snug fit for the peppers.
  3. Dice the onion, celery and garlic.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan and gently cook the onion, celery and garlic until soft but not browned. Turn the heat off.
  5. Dice the prosciutto, basil leaves and sundried tomatoes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  7. In a small sauce pan heat the chicken or vegetable stock just to the boiling point.
  8. When the lentils are tender combine with the onion, celery and garlic. Add the prosciutto, basil leaves, feta cheese and sundried tomatoes. Gently combine – do not mash the lentils.
  9. Spoon into the peppers and replace the tops. Pour the stock into the baking dish around, not over, the peppers.
  10. Place the dish into the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes until the peppers are soft.

A crisp dry white wine goes well with this dish. Try an Assyrtiko from the Greek island of Santorini.

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