Dirty Rice

Dirty RiceNo, before you get all worried, I’m not suggesting you eat the rice that you swept up as part of your Passover cleaning! Dirty rice is a traditional Creole dish made from white rice which gets a “dirty” colour from being cooked with small pieces of chicken liver or giblets, green bell pepper, celery, and onion, and spiced with cayenne and black pepper. Parsley and/or chopped green onions are common garnishes. Dirty rice is most common in the Creole regions of southern Louisiana; however, it can also be found in other areas of the American South. This recipe will serve 6 as a side dish, and 4 as a main.

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked rice
4 cups chicken stock
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium/large onions, diced (about 1½ cups total)
2 medium green bell peppers, diced (about 1 cup total)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup total)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ pound ground beef
½ pound chicken giblets or livers**
2 bunches green onions, chopped*

* Click here to learn how to clean green onions.
** If you are using livers instead of giblets, please ensure to following the directions found in this article on how to Kasher your raw liver.

Directions:

If using Giblets:
Place the giblets in a pot, and cover with water, bring to a simmer for 30 minutes with 1 bunch of green onions, salt and pepper.

If using Liver:
If using raw liver, please Kasher it according to the instructions provided in the link above. Once the liver is cooked (either purchased cooked or cooked through the Kashering process), follow the same steps as the giblets, however only simmer until warmed through, not for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a colander, rinse rice several times until water runs clear. Place rice in a large pot and add chicken stock. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not overcook.

In a pan, sauté the garlic, onions, bell peppers and celery in vegetable oil until soft for about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaf and cayenne and add to rice. Cook the ground beef in a sauté pan and add to rice.

Finally, let the giblets cool enough to chop into small dice then add to rice mixture. Mix rice well and let simmer on lowest heat for an additional 30 minutes, stirring continuously, until flavors meld. Serve hot garnished with the second bunch of green onions.

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Carrot, Sweet Potato, Apple Kugel

Carrot, Sweet Potato, Apple KugelThis recipe was passed around the office as a “keeper” on a scrap of yellowed newsprint. Wanting to track down the original source, (thank you Google!) I was able to find that the recipe was first published in the Baltimore Sun back in December of 1991*. It was part of an article written by Colleen Pierre, R.D. entitled “Veggies Don’t Have to be Bland, Boring”. While yes it is a bit old (23 years!) the article, and the recipe, still hold true. If you would like to read the original article, please click here.  This recipe will serve 8.

Ingredients:

¼ cup margarine
1 cup grated, peeled sweet potatoes (1 medium/large sweet potato)
1 cup grated, peeled carrots (2 medium/large carrots)
1 cup grated, peeled apples (1 large apple)
½ cup matzo meal
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup water
2 tablespoons sweet wine
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon oil (to grease pan)

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with about 1 teaspoon of cooking oil. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the ingredients, and then pour into your prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown on top.

* According to the article, the actual recipe comes from “Life After Schmaltz,” a book for heart-healthy Jewish holiday cooking by Rosalind Trieber, M.S., Ann Sussman and Janet Brigham, Ph.D., published in Baltimore by Trieber Associates.

Sweet-and-Sour Celery

Sweet and Sour CeleryThis is a nice, easy side dish that gives a little sweet and a little sour to balance out the flavours. This recipe will serve 8 people.

Ingredients:

¾ cup water
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons mild honey
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 lbs celery, cut into 2-inch pieces, reserving about 1 cup inner celery leaves* (2 to 3 bunches, any dark green outer ribs peeled)
¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley*

* Click here to learn how to properly clean these ingredients.

Directions:

Cut a round of parchment paper to fit just inside a wide heavy 6-to 8-quarts pot, then set round aside. Simmer water, lemon juice, oil, honey, salt, and pepper in pot, stirring, until honey has dissolved. Stir in celery (but not leaves) and cover with parchment round. Simmer until tender and liquid is reduced to about ¼ cup, 35 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, coarsely chop reserved leaves. Serve celery sprinkled with celery leaves and parsley.

Russian Beet and Potato Salad – Свекла и Картофельный салат

Beet and Potato SaladIngredients:

2 beets, peeled and diced
4 small potatoes, peeled and diced
2 small carrots, peeled and diced
3 small dill pickles, diced
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
salt to taste
3 green onions, chopped

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook beets until tender, about 30 minutes. Bring a separate pot of water to a boil and cook potatoes and carrots until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain vegetables, and place in a large bowl.

Place the diced pickles in the bowl with beets, potatoes, and carrots. Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt. Sprinkle with green onions. Chill completely before serving.

Spicy Black Beans and Yellow Rice

beans and riceIngredients:

For Beans:
2 cups (about 1 pound) dried black beans, picked over, soaked overnight
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For Rice:
2 cups long-grain rice
4 cups water
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 bay leaf

Directions:

For the beans:
In a large pot, soak beans overnight covered in water by 2 inches. Drain and set aside.

In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, jalapeno pepper, garlic, and bay leaf and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and cover with water by about 1-inch. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until the beans are tender. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Taste the beans and season with salt and pepper.

For the rice:
Put all the ingredients into a heavy-bottomed pot, stir well, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat until the rice has absorbed the water, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Discard the garlic and bay leaf, fluff with a fork, and serve.

Jicama Slaw

Jicama SlawFor those of you not familiar with jicama, you don’t know what you’re missing! Jicama, (HEE-kah-ma) also known as Mexican Yam or Mexican Turnip is the name of a native Mexican vine that has an edible tuberous root. The root’s exterior is yellow and papery, while its inside is creamy white with a crisp texture that resembles raw potato or pear. The flavor is sweet and starchy, reminiscent of some apples or raw green beans, and it is usually eaten raw. In Mexico, it is popular in salads, fresh fruit combinations, fruit bars, soups, and other cooked dishes. You can find it year-round in the produce section of many supermarkets and Latin American markets. Select firm, dry jicama roots. Skin should not appear shrivelled, bruised, or blemished.

Ingredients:

1 large jicama, peeled and finely shredded
½ napa cabbage, finely shredded*
2 carrots, shredded
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
2 tablespoons honey
½ cup canola oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves*

Directions:

Place jicama, cabbage and carrots in a large bowl. Whisk together the lime juice, vinegar, ancho powder, honey and oil in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Pour the lime mixture over the jicama mixture and toss to coat well, fold in the cilantro. Let sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving.

* Click here to learn how to properly inspect a Napa Cabbage and cilantro.

5 Spice Carrots

5 spice carrotsIngredients:

10 large carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder (click here to see recipe)
salt to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut halved carrots in half again crosswise on the diagonal. Place carrots into a 2-quart baking dish and drizzle with vegetable oil; sprinkle with 5 spice powder and salt to taste. Toss lightly to coat carrots with oil and seasoning. Arrange carrots into an even layer.

Roast carrots in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, and check for tenderness and stir if desired. Continue roasting until tender, 15 to 20 more minutes. Serve warm.

Hot and Sour Chinese Eggplant

hot and sour eggplantIngredients:

4 long Chinese eggplants, cubed
4 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 green chili peppers, chopped (to taste)
3 teaspoons cornstarch
1 ½ teaspoons chili oil (to taste)
1 tablespoon salt
⅓ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Directions:

Place the eggplant cubes into a large bowl, and sprinkle with salt. Fill with enough water to cover, and let stand for 30 minutes. Rinse well, and drain on paper towels.

In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, red wine vinegar, sugar, chili pepper, cornstarch and chili oil. Set the sauce aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Fry the eggplant until it is tender and begins to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Pour in the sauce, and cook and stir until the sauce is thick and the eggplant is evenly coated. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Fagioli al l’uccelletto (Beans Braised in Tomato and Sage Sauce)

beans braised with tomato and sageIngredients:

1 (796ml) can cannellini beans
1 (796ml) can crushed tomatoes
3 – 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
A few fresh sage leaves*
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Directions:

Begin by making a simple tomato sauce: gently sauté a few garlic cloves and some fresh sage leaves in olive oil. When the garlic is just beginning to brown, add the canned tomatoes, and let it simmer, always on gentle heat, until the tomatoes have reduced nicely to a saucy consistency.

Add the cannellini beans, season with salt and peppers, and allow them to simmer in the tomato sauce for about 10 minutes or so, just long enough for them to absorb the flavor of the sauce. Test for seasoning, adjust if need be, and serve your fagioli all’uccelletto immediately.

* Click here to learn how to clean sage.

Cipolle al Forno (Baked Onions)

Baked OnionsIngredients:

8 medium sized onions
Salt and pepper
A few sprigs of fresh parsley, finely chopped*
Best quality, fruity olive oil
Dry white wine (optional)

Directions:

Take each onion, and slice off both the top and root ends. Remove the outer, dry layers of the onion, then slice each onion in half across their midsection, against the grain so to speak, so their rings are exposed. Place the onion halves in a well-oiled baking dish, cut side up. Season very generously with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the parsley. Finally, drizzle the onion halves with best quality olive oil you can find/afford.

Place the baking dish in the oven set at 350 degrees, for an hour or more, until the onions are well reduced in size, very soft and slightly caramelized. Baste the onions with their cooking juices every so often as they cook. Be careful not to allow the onions to burn, which will give them a bitter taste. If you like, you can cover them with a sheet of wax paper for the first 30 minutes or so or If need be, you can lower the oven temperature.

About 5 minutes before they’re done, splash a bit of white wine on top of the onions. This gives the onions a very slight tang, which nicely balances their natural sweetness, and produces a little ‘sauce’ you can pour over the onions when you serve them. Let the onions cool slightly before serving.

* click here to learn how to clean parsley.