I don’t like bell peppers. I never have, but lately I’ve been trying to make dishes in new ways that feature ingredients I’m usually not so fond of. So when I made a vinegar-heavy bell pepper salad a few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it came out. So much so that I think I’ll be making this one over and over again:
2 red bell peppers
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons drained capers in brine
2 tablespoons basil
1. Preheat broiler. Meanwhile, half peppers lengthwise, discard stems and seeds, and put peppers in an oiled shallow baking pan.
2. Broil until charred and softened, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover and let steam for 15 minutes. Cool and peel peppers.
3. Toss together all ingredients and let stand for 1 hour to let flavors develop.
I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I make an exception with a lot of Iranian desserts like bakhlava and zoolbiya. Still, my favorites tend to veer towards the lighter sweets, like faloodeh. So when I tried fereni, a rosewater-inflected rice pudding for the first time a few months ago, I was pleasantly surprised at how refreshing and light its taste was. I tried making it at home recently and loved the results. Go easy on the rosewater – a little goes a long way.
1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups milk
2 tablespoons rosewater
1. Pour milk in a large saucepan over medium heat and add rice flour, stirring to dissolve. Add rosewater and sugar.
2. Stir constantly over heat until mixture comes to a slow boil and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
3. Remove from heat and transfer to individual serving bowls, and let cool. Serve cold or at room temperature.
I discovered the joys of Torani syrup when I was a kid, gleefully mixing it with club soda to make Italian sodas. I’ve since learned to make the grownup version, and with homemade syrup. Feel free to play around with the flavors, and since I had a bunch of Iranian mint and green tea lying around, I went with these:
For a quick cocktail, add a few spoons to some vodka or rum with a splash of club soda. I’m planning on making a seasonal cranberry-orange syrup for Thanksgiving cocktails.
1 handful fresh mint
zest of two limes, peeled in 1/2 inch-thick strips
2 bags of pomegranate green tea
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1. In a medium saucepan, bring one cup of sugar and one cup of water just to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add mint and lime zest, cover, and turn off heat, letting the mixture steep for an hour. Remove lid and let cool, then pour into a jar and refrigerate.
2. Repeat the process of dissolving the remaining cup of water and sugar over heat, and steep with the tea and honey for a hour. Let cool, and pour into another jar and refrigerate.
I first encountered hearts of palm at Pampas Grill, a Brazilian churrascaria in the Farmers Market in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. I have no idea how I’d gone so long without coming across the vegetable, but it’s been a favorite ever since then. I used them in making what is now one of my favorite salads:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cans hearts of palm, drained and rinsed
1 hard-boiled egg, shelled and chopped
1/2 pound cooked tiny shrimp
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper
1. In a bowl, whisk olive oil, vinegar, capers, lemon juice, shallots, mustard, and salt to taste. Cut hearts of palm in half lengthwise. Lay hearts of palm in dressing, turn over, and let stand for 5 minutes.
2.Lift hearts of palm from dressing and arrange on a large salad plate. Add shrimp to dressing in bowl and mix. Arrange avocado on salad. Spoon shrimp and all the dressing over the hearts of palm and avocado. Top with egg, and sprinkle with pepper to taste.
After a whirlwind of a week, I can finally sit down again and post. Summer is over, but I made this black sticky rice pudding during warmer weather when all I was craving was something slightly sweet.
2 cups black sticky rice
3 cups water
2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup brown sugar sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 mango, sliced or chopped
1. Rinse rice a couple of times to remove any impurities until the water clears. Place the rice and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Let boil and stir frequently for 5 minutes, then cover, lower heat to medium-low, and cook for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to low and let cook, covered, for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, place the coconut milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until dissolved. Add the coconut milk to the rice and stir well, then remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature and top with mango slices.