Roasted Red Pepper Salad

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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:

Roasted red pepper salad

Ingredients:

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.

Hearts of Palm Salad with Shrimp and Avocado

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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:

Hearts of palm salad with shrimp and avocado

Ingredients:

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.

Cheesy Zucchini and Red Onion Flatbread

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this recipe was almost a disaster, as i accidentally placed all the toppings before transferring it to the baking sheet, and in the process of trying to move it made a huge mess. in the end, i resurrected it and it came out wonderfully.

Cheesy zucchini and red onion flatbread

Ingredients:

nonstick spray
1 lb whole wheat pizza dough
3/4 cup garlic and herb cheese spread
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 T chopped parsley
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 thinly sliced zucchinis
olive oil
red pepper flakes

1. preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray baking sheet with nonstick spray.
2. roll out dough to 1/2 inch thick. spread half of herb cheese over 1 long half of dough, leaving 1/2 inch border. sprinkle with half of parmesan and 2 tablespoons parsley.
3. fold plain half of dough over filled half. spread remaining herb cheese over top; sprinkle with remaining parmesan.
4. arrange 1 row of zucchini down 1 long side of the dough. arrange onion slices in row alongside zucchini. repeat with zucchini and onion until surface of dough is covered. brush vegetables with oil; sprinkle with salt and red pepper.
5. bake bread until puffed and deep brown at edges, about 24 minutes. sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley.

in other news, i finished reading christopher de bellaigue’s in the rose garden of the martyrs: a memoir of iran. considering that most iranian memoirs are written by iranians, it was a fresh look into a european’s take on modern iran, and namely how the revolution and iran-iraq war has shaped it. and with all the headlines about iran lately, i highly recommend rageh omaar’s bbc documentary inside iran. it’s easily one of the best documentaries i’ve seen on the subject.

Spring Pea Falafel

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khodahafez, taabestaan

a couple of weeks ago i scrambled to make the best of the end of summer produce. although i’ll have loads of mushrooms and squash and beets to look forward to, i’ll miss being able to easily make fresh renditions of these:

this was deeelicious!
spring pea falafel with marinated radishes and minted yogurt

the peanut sauce was too thick
grilled beef sates with peanut sauce and jasmine rice

fresh mozzarella and salami! oh joy!
antipasti salad

too flavorless
corn and jalapeno muffins

not too sweet
watermelon-ginger lemonade

here’s the recipe for the falafel:

1/2 cup dried yellow split peas
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 T flour
2 T chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 t ground coriander
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 t salt
3 T olive oil

1. working in two batches, grind the split peas to a powder in a spice grinder. in a food processor, pulse the thawed peas a few times. add the ground split peas, onion, flour, parsley, garlic, coriander, cumin, baking powder, cayenne, lemon juice and salt and process until thoroughly combined. form the mixture into 12 falafel patties. refrigerate until firm.

2. in a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil. add the falafel patties in two batches and cook over moderately high heat until browned, crisp and heated through, about 3 minutes per side.

3. serve the falafel with flatbreads, yogurt, sliced red onions, fresh herbs, and marinated radishes.

Hot and Sour Egg Flower Soup

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everyone says i cook too much east asian food. i guess its true, but i never tire of it. i mean, there’s so much to discover. and this of course includes chinese food. these are adapted from martin yan recipes:

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sichuan spicy noodle salad

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macanese steak with mushrooms

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hot and sour egg flower soup

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hakka shrimp-stuffed eggplant with black bean sauce

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gum-lo wontons with seafood sweet and sour sauce

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fujian fried rice

here’s the recipe for the soup:

3 dried black mushrooms
1 dried wood ear mushroom
2 ounces dried bean thread noodles
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup carrot, sliced thinly
1/2 package medium tofu, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch, drissolved in 2 tablespoons water
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 green onion, sliced thinly

1. soak mushrooms with warm water until soft, about 20 minutes. drain and slice thinly.

2. soak noodles with warm water until soft, about 10 minutes. drain and cut into four-inch lengths.

3. bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large saucepan. stir in the mushrooms and carrot, simmering for about 2 minutes.

4. stir in the noodles, tofu, vinegar, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and sugar. simmer for about 2 minutes. pour in the dissolved cornstarch and cook, stirring, until the soup boils and thickens, about 1 minute. slowly pour in the egg, stirring the soup to create “egg flowers.”

5. ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with green onions.