Colonel Soupe

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Our neighbor Caroline gave me one of her garden pumpkins and I immediately thought of Haitian pumpkin soup, joumou.

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Whenever I think of joumou, I also think of Colonel Jean Claude Paul.  Colonel Paul was a corrupt military strong man, heavily involved in the illicit drug trade during the Manigat/Namphy political upheavals in Haiti.  While Colonel Paul sided with Henri Namphy against Leslie Manigat during the June 1988 coup d’etat, he was never really a partisan, but a drug money rich, independent individual, feared by both the population and the government because of the loyalty of his salary enhanced troops.  Untouchable he thought.

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Normally, the death of a man like Colonel Paul wouldn’t have deserved a footnote in Haiti’s turbulent and violent history of hundreds of greedy, selfish men just like him. However Colonel Paul, to the everlasting hilarity of the Haitian people, died while enjoying a poisoned bowl of his favorite dish, Soupe Joumou.  After the laughter died down, his death spawned numerous anecdotes and jokes entitled “Colonel Soupe”, earning Jean Claude Paul a better place in Haitian memory than he could have created for himself.

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The preparation of this soup is a bit fiddly.  The pumpkin has to be roasted first, then pureed.  There are lots of vegetables to chop but you can always draft a family member as a “coupe oignon” to help with this if you don’t have a food processor.  Make it on a heavy snow day and they’ll have nothing to do with themselves :D

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For some reason, Weiss supermarket was only selling Angus beef products.  It wasn’t on sale or anything but that’s all they had.  Over drinks at Leunes’, a farmer told us that the beef they are calling  Angus is most times just black cow and doesn’t always have anything to do with the breed.  I believe that, convinced by the mediocrity of these “Angus” beef cubes that exuded a large amount of water when I was browning them.  This is not the first time we have been less than satisfied with Weiss products.  Remember those black eyed peas?  We also found jam that had expired early last year and 8lbs of potatoes that were advertised as 10lbs on sale.

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This is the first time I’ve shopped in a Weiss store, so I don’t know if it’s the management of this particular store or the entire chain.  In any case, they’re dead to me now :D

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Soupe Joumou

1 largish pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into wedges

2 tbsp olive oil

2 lbs beef, cubed, seasoned with salt and pepper

1 large onion, chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

5 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tsp dried thyme

5 whole cloves

3 Maggi bouillon cubes

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Water to cover, 2 inches above ingredients,  plus 4 cups

2 large potatoes, cubed

2 mirliton, peeled, seeded and cubed

1/4 cabbage, chopped

2 turnips, cubed

3 carrots, diced

2 leeks, chopped

1 tbsp parsley, chopped

1 scotch bonnet, halved

1 cup broken spaghetti

Roast the pumpkin wedges in a 350 F oven for 45 minutes, then remove the skin from the pulp and puree.  Set aside.

In a skillet, brown the meat cubes in the olive oil, remove and place inside a large stock pot.   Add the onion, celery and garlic to the skillet and saute until tender, then add to the meat in the stock pot with the thyme, cloves, bouillon cubes, salt, pepper and water.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour.

Add the reserved pumpkin puree, potatoes, mirliton, cabbage, turnips, carrots, leeks, parsley and scotch bonnet to the pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 30-40 minutes.  Add the spaghetti and continue to cook until the spaghetti is done.

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, Haitian, Main dishes, Recipes, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Fresh Udon

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On Thursday we had to make a run into New Jersey for wine and to have our dog Jessie hand stripped.  Liquor stores in Pennsylvania are all government owned, run and stocked with expensive, though no class, bottles of  wine from Barton & Guestier, Louis Jadot and Gallo.  After 6 months of either abstaining or making ourselves ill, we coordinated a liquor run with Jessie’s salon appointment in Union, New Jersey, about 2 hours from Honesdale.

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Diamond in the Ruff of Westfield, New Jersey did a beautiful job of hand stripping Jessie and Jessie had a wonderful time with them.  I hope they weren’t too exhausted :D

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We bought a shameful amount of wine and ordered multiple cases for pickup later this week.  Total Wines, a chain, had a decent selection of wines and liquors from France, Spain, Italy and California.  They didn’t have Bailly Cremant nor Monkey 47, but we were not too disappointed.

Union has a marvelous Asian Food Store.  It’s huge!  They have everything; live fish in tanks, Asian vegetables and fruits, every condiment you can imagine and a large refrigerated unit packed with a variety of fresh Chinese and Japanese noodles.  Talk about choice!  It was impossible to choose, so I just took some of everything :)  I’ll have to go back soon.

 

 

Posted in Asian, Chinese, Cooking, Food and Wine, Japanese, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Arriba! Arriba!

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I follow Chica Andaluza’s blog because 1) she knows how to cook and 2) she knows how to eat.  Of course these are excellent reasons.  So that’s why.

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Her latest “drool worthy” recipe is Morrete de Setas or mushrooms and potatoes, a tapas plate from Southern Spain.  It is so good, yet quick and easy to make.  I did go a little rogue with the recipe but I think it’s the kind of recipe that permits deviation.  Do visit her site at the link above for the original recipe.  As I have never visited Spain and don’t know much about Spanish cuisine preparation, I won’t confuse you with my rendition.

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Still, knowing nothing about Spanish cuisine did not stop me from making my idea of Spanish chicken :D  I mixed together chicken thighs, onions, bell pepper, garlic, oregano and olive oil, then threw everything into a tajine.  Fabuloso and colorful!

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Ideally, I should have browned the thighs before mixing them in with the vegetables but I couldn’t be bothered because I was already satisfied from eating the plate of potatoes and mushrooms and it’s not absolutely necessary to brown the thighs unless you just want them browner :)

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Mediterranean Chicken Tajine

6-8 chicken thighs, browned or not

1 1/2 bell pepper, cut into strips

2 onions, quartered

4-6 garlic cloves, slivered

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 1/2 tsp dried oregano

5 fresh oregano sprigs

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup white wine

In a large bowl, mix the chicken, bell pepper, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, oregano(s) and olive oil together, then pour into a tajine.  Pour the white wine over everything, cover and roast in a 400F oven for 45 minutes, remove the cover and continue to roast for an additional 15 minutes.

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, side dish, Spanish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Fresh Borlotti Bean Blizzard Soup

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According to the weathermen, we are in for an historic blizzard starting tonight.  The inhabitants of Boston and New York City are freaking out :D

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Not us!  In rural Pennsylvania, we laugh in the face of blizzards; ha, ha, ha, and then we make soup.  We also count the bottles in the wine rack and check the liquor pantry  ;)

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Hoarder that I am, food is never an issue.  In the freezer I had fresh borlotti beans and some leftover ham from Christmas.  In the refrigerator there were carrots, a really large leek, celery and some nice mirliton (chayote) that I found at the Laos Asian Market.

Bring it on!

Fresh Borlotti Bean Blizzard Soup

2 tbsp butter

2 cups smoked, cooked ham, coarsely diced

1 large leek, halved vertically and sliced

2-3 small carrots, sliced

2 celery stalks, sliced

1 tsp dried thyme leaves

1 bay leaf

2 mirliton, peeled, seeded and coarsely diced

2 cups fresh borlotti beans

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Water to cover

6 cups of water

Melt the butter in a large stock pot, add the ham and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add the leek, carrots and celery, continuing to saute until the leek is wilted and soft.  Mix in the thyme, bay leaf, mirliton, beans, salt and pepper, then put water in to cover and add an additional 6 cups of water to that.

Bring the soup to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Twice Cooked Honey Roasted Duck Legs

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I’ve found an Asian supply grocery!  It’s called Laos Asian Market.  Very old school with vegetables, fruits, rice and noodles scattered around the floor in boxes, multiple freezers and refrigerators, shelves bursting with condiments, flours, spices, tableware, baskets, chopsticks, etc.  Just what I was looking for!  And I absolutely adored the really, really old guy who, looking like a proximate observer if not escapee from the Cambodian killing fields, speaking perfect English but choosing to leave us to our shopping while he continued viewing his TV program in the back room, was consideration itself.  Perfect. Rural Pennsylvania has it’s moments :)

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Of course I bought a ridiculous amount of stuff but was rational enough to remember that I had good quality, “gaver” duck legs in the freezer to cook.

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I remembered a recipe for twice cooked duck legs that I thought was beyond good and decided to go with that.  The recipe gives you a nice crispy duck skin that you have to appreciate.

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I love eggplant!  I love Asian prepared eggplant!  I just remembered the word for eggplant when I was in Bangladesh; brinjal.  Brinjal!  Sounds exciting :)  I gathered together the necessary to excite my Laotian brinjal.

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Spicy and delicious.  I am convinced that, if you can get them, Asian eggplants are requisite when preparing Asian cuisine.  There’s something about the texture and perhaps the taste.

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So glad I saw Frugal’s recipe for  ramen with pak choy.  That was my inspiration for buying and preparing this simple, easy dish of bok choy.  Thanks Frugal :)

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Spicy Brinjal

1 tbsp peanut oil

3 Asian eggplant, cut into batons

1 tbsp sesame oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 inch fresh ginger, minced

2 scallions, thinly sliced

2 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

Heat the peanut oil in a wok, then add the eggplant and stir fry until lightly browned. Push the eggplant to the side, add the sesame oil, garlic and ginger, stir frying until aromatic, toss with the eggplant and stir fry everything together for about a minute.  Add the vinegar, soy sauce and sugar, stir fry for an additional minute.

 

Asian Style Baby Bok Choy with Broth

2 tbsp peanut oil

2 star anise

3 scallions, diagonally sliced

6 baby bok choy, halved

2 tbsp soy sauce

1/2 cup beef broth

1 tbsp honey

Heat the oil in a wok, then add the star anise, scallions and bok choy.  Stir fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the soy sauce, broth and honey.  Boil covered for about 2 minutes until the sauce thickens.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, side dish, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Walkabout Goat Curry

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The inspiration for the Indian food today comes from Simply Vegetarian 777.  I don’t remember how I got to her site but once there I was immediately transfixed by her Mung Methi Dal with Garlic Tadka.  I’m not quite sure if I’ve had yellow mung dal before but am quite sure I’ve never heard of garlic tadka, however her pictures were gorgeous and I just knew I wanted some.  I immediately placed my order with amazon prime for a quick order of dal, asafetida and dried,  whole, red chillies.

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The dal met all of my expectations and beyond, although I didn’t have any methi leaves but used chopped baby spinach instead.  Don’t neglect to make the garlic tadka.  The crunchy, spicy pieces of garlic gild the lily for this dish.  The recipe is quick and easy and, oh, so tasty! Thank you simply vegetarian!  Go to the site for the recipe because I don’t have anything of value to add to what has already been so beautifully accomplished.

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As I said, Simply Vegetarian inspired me to make Indian food today.  I had a bag of goat meat cubes in the freezer that I had purchased a while ago from the freezer section of Weiss supermarket.  Surprisingly, the meat comes from Australia, is free range and therefore  “walkabout”  :D

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Nice looking meat; bone-in.

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I’ve got to get back into always making pastes of my aromatics when making a curry or masala.

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I think that a curry sauce made with pastes of aromatics is both thicker and richer tasting than one made with plainly sauteed aromatics; more authentic.  That’s what I think :)

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Sumptuous!

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I’ve got to get an exotic/Indian can of ghee.  There’s nothing wrong with it but “Super fine Brookside” ghee doesn’t quite set the tone :)

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Goat Curry

6-8 garlic cloves

1 inch ginger root

1 tbsp water

1 can diced tomatoes

1 large purple onion, thinly sliced

4 tbsp ghee

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp Indian red chili powder

1 tbsp garam masala

1 tsp salt

2 lbs goat cubes, bone in, seasoned with salt

3/4 cup water

Grind the garlic and ginger together with the water to make a paste.  Add the tomatoes and blend well.  Set aside.

Cook the onion in a skillet  with 2 tbsp of the ghee until lightly browned, remove and then grind into a paste.  Add the remaining 2 tbsp of ghee to the same skillet and cook the onion paste with the coriander, cumin, turmeric, chili powder, garam masala and salt for about 3 minutes.  Add the reserved tomato mixture to the onion paste and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add the goat cubes to the skillet, cooking until browned, then add the water, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours.

Serve with rice or chapatis.

 

 

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, Indian, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Things Fall Apart

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I actually made this black eyed pea/potato/meatball stew the day before yesterday but was so disgusted with the whole thing that I couldn’t be bothered to post it.  I decided to post today because I was bored and the pictures were on the camera.

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I was really excited when I saw the containers of fresh black eyed peas in the Weiss supermarket, even though the expiration date was that day.  Expiration dates are guidelines; they don’t mean that the product will immediately go into a meltdown or turn toxic the very next day.  Although I did have a friend who believed that and when we were in Niger, where certain products were scarce,  I would hang around her house waiting for something to expire so that she would give it to me instead of throwing it away :D

The package instructions for cooking the fresh peas said 20 minutes but I’ve cooked fresh beans a lot and I thought it would be more like 40 minutes.  Still, at 20 minutes I checked, at 40 minutes I checked, at 70 minutes I checked and again at 100 minutes I checked, finally giving up and regretting the the good vegetables, spices and meatballs that I had included with the still crunchy black eyed peas.

So that’s why.  No recipe.  No glory.

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 24 Comments