Soups & Salads

Okinawan Sweet Potato Salad

 

You are probably thinking where am I ever going to find purple sweet potatoes where I life? Well, Whole Foods does have them on their website, but Okinawan purple sweet Potatoes are gaining popularity so you may find them showing up in your local farm markets. They are delicious baked, or mashed, but with summer’s arrival why not splash out with a Colorful “Hawaiian” Purple Sweet Potato Salad!

 

Purple sweet potatoes are generally identified as Okinawan sweet potatoes where thy are revered for their nutritive contribution to the islander’s historic longevity. The Okinawa’s are more likely to attribute their longevity to their warm tropical climate and their easy lifestyle. But that said, these purple sweet potatoes are just loaded with nutrients and antioxidants and have replace rice in the local Okinawan diet.

The purple sweet potato’s origins goes back thousands of years to Central and South America where native farmers cultivated purple sweet potatoes. After the Spanish Inquisition Spanish merchants brought the purple sweet potatoes to the Philippines, and from there to China in the late fourteen hundreds, Okinawa in the sixteen hundreds and onward into south East Asia and East Asia.

Here in Hawaii purple sweet potatoes arrived with Polynesian island settlers. Over time the original plantings were replaced with the Okinawan variety that are grown on the island of Molokai. They available in local farm markets and some super markets across the Hawaiian-islands.

The recipe that follows is my  own riff on a…

Colorful “Hawaiian” Purple Sweet Potato Salad

  • 1 ½ lbs. Okinawa purple sweet potatoes

Peel the potatoes and cut them into ½ inch cubes. Place then in a saucepan and cover with water. Add a little salt and bring the water to a low boil. Cook until the potatoes are softened but still holding their shape. Purple potatoes will take longer to soften so be patient and attentive.

When the potatoes are done, drain and set them and set them aside to cool. when cool transfer them to bowl, cover, and refrigerate.

For the salad

  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced sweet Maui onion, or yellow onion
  • 1 six inch fresh red chile, seeded and finely diced
  • ½ cup diced canned pineapple, reserving the remaining rings that will be halved for garnishing before serving the salad.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate.

For the Dressing

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup full fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice + more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • sea salt to taste
  • ¼ cup sliced fresh cilantro leaves 

Combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk until completely combined.  Taste and add more lime juice and salt to taste. Cover the dressing and refrigerate.

Assembly and Serving   

  • several large lad leafy salad greens
  • ¼ cup chopped roasted macadamia nuts, cashews or pine nuts
  • sprigs of fresh cilantro leaves
  • halved pineapple rings

Line a serving platter or large shallow bowl with fresh salad greens leaves and set aside

Remove the bowl of salad ingredients and add the cubed purple potatoes and fold everything together until combined.

Add the dressing and fold the salad together until is evenly coated with dressing.

Spoon the salad onto the prepared serving platter or bowl and garnish with sprigs of fresh cilantro. Place half slices of pineapple rings around the the edge of the salad. Scatter the macadamia nuts lightly over the top of the salad and serve!

CAULIFLOWER SOUP

CAULIFLOWER SOUP

 

As uninteresting as a cauliflower soup may sound, here is an easy cauliflower soup that may persuade you otherwise.

With just a hint roosted roasted garlic, a dash of golden turmeric, a flurry of dried marjoram leaves, and a splash of lemon juice is what turns everything around and delivers a delightfully soothing, fresh, and warming winter cauliflower soup. The flavors are subtle but just assertive enough to win over any cauliflower skeptics at your table.

Cauliflower Soup

  • 1 medium size head garlic, roasted
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed and divided into florets
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper + more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock, simmering
  • broad leaf parsley leaves, thinly sliced, or whole cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice per serving

 

Place the whole head of garlic in a 325 degree oven and roast just until the flesh is softened and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. When cool enough to handle separate the cloves and squeeze the garlic out of their skins and set aside.

Place a stock pot on the stove top set over medium high heat. When hot add the olive oil. When the oil is hot add the onions and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the roasted garlic, and stir to combine. Add the cauliflower and potatoes and sauté for several minutes while tossing all the ingredients together. Add the turmeric, salt, white pepper, marjoram, and sugar and toss while sautéing for another 5 minutes.

Add about 1 ½ quarts of simmering stock to completely cover all the ingredients. Adjust the temperature and simmer for 30 minutes or until all the ingredients are very soft.

Using an immersion blender, blend the ingredients until the soup is thick and very smooth. Then add more stock until the soup is the consistency you prefer. Taste the soup and adjust seasoning to your liking.

When you are ready to serve the soup add the parsley or cilantro leaves and lemon juice and stir into the soup until combined
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

If you plan to serve the soup later, omit the parsley or cilantro and the lemon juice and set aside to aside to cool. Then transfer the soup to containers and cool on a rack before covering with lids and either refrigerate or freeze.

Be sure to remember to add the parsley or cilantro leaves and lemon juice just before serving the soup nonce it has been brought back to a full simmer before serving.

 

Mexican Rotisserie Chicken Soup

Mexican Rotisserie Chicken Soup

 

Rotisserie chicken soup seems to be getting a lot of buzz these days. It’s a given that those beautifully browned super market rotisserie chickens more often than not fail to live up to expectations, so why not repurpose the chicken for a better outcome. The bones will make a very flavorsome stock for any hearty home made soup that strike your fancy.

The Mexican rotisserie chicken soup recipe that follows is just one of many possibilities you might choose for your rotisserie chick soup. The idea is to be creative and utilize what you have on hand. The objective is to make a hearty soup with all the depth, character, and flavor of a hearty regional chicken soup from any culture that inspires you.

Mexican Rotisserie Chicken Soup

A whole rotisserie chicken,  skin, meat, and bones separated

For the stock:

  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • reserved chicken bones and skin
  • 6 quarts water + more as needed
  • 1 bunch of cilantro sprigs or broad leaf parsley
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves

Heat the olive oil in a stock pot and add the onions and sauté until the onions have softened. Add the garlic, carrots, and celery and sauté until softened.

Add the bones and skin and stir to combine. Add the water and bring to a boil. Add the cilantro or parsley, peppercorns, bay leaves, and the marjoram.

Bring the pot back to a boil and lower the heat too a simmer and cook for 1 ½ hours. The broth/stock should have reduced by about half.

Let the stock cool and then strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Be sure to press the solids and bones as you strain to extract all their flavor. Set the stock aside and discard all the solids.

Once the stock is cool skim off excess fat and discard. Otherwise refrigerate the stock and skim off the fat once it has solidified.

For the soup

Prepare ahead: flame roast or broil 1 large red bell pepper and 1or 2 green serano chiles until charred. Place them in a bowl and seal with cling film and set aside to sweat. When cool enough remove the charred skin and discard. Open the pepper and chiles and remove seeds and membranes. Slice the red pepper into thin strips and cut the stripe into 1 inch lengths. and finely dice the serrano chiles .

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 2½ cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 ½ quarts stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
  • pulled rotisserie chicken
  • 1 prepared red bell pepper and serrano chiles as described above above
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add the oil to a sock pot set over medium heat. When hot add the onions a sauté until the onions soften. Add the corn, carrots and sauté for several minutes. Then add the stock and bring the contents of the pot to a simmer. Add the marjoram and cook for 20 minutes.

 pull the chicken into bite size strips and add them to the soup and bring back to a simmer.

Add the prepared red pepper strips and diced seranno chiles and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Serving:

  • tostada chips
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • fresh lime wedges

Bring the soup to a simmer and ladle the hot soup into individual serving bowls.

Place the tostada chips, cilantro leaves and lime wedges on the table to be add to the soup to each persons liking.

Ajvar

 

Ajvar is a traditional roasted red pepper sauce/ puree favored throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, with regional variations across Lebanon, Syria, the Balkans, Turkey, and the Middle East. Ajvar is served with grilled meats, fish, kabobs, mezze plates, or just slathered onto a warmed pita bread.

Ajvar is a simplified Muhammara (see Recipe here),either of which I like to keep on hand to jazz up those meals that beg for a flavor boost.

Ajvar is available in in Greek and Middle Eastern shops and online, through rarely found on supper market shelves. So why not prepare Ajvar at home. The ingredients are all readily available and the recipe that follows will walk you through the process. Preparing the peppers and eggplant may seem a bit tedious, but it is all well worth the effort I assure you. The slightly sweet and smoky aroma wafting throughout the kitchen will be enough to spur you onward with the tasks at hand.

Putting up a jar freshly made Ajvar is one of those cook’s moments, a raison d’etre if you will and, I have to say, what makes cookery  so compelling.

So, with that thought in mind let’s get cooking!

 

Ajvar

makes 1 quart

  • olive oil as needed
  • 4 ripe red bell peppers
  • 1 ripe red jalapeno chile
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 5 large garlic cloves, skin on
  • 2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt + more to taste

 

Rub the bell peppers, jalapeno, eggplant, and garlic with olive oil and place on a large baking tray.

Place the tray of vegetables under the preheated broiler and broil until the skins on the peppers, jalapeno, and eggplant blister and are are charred in spots. Turn all the vegetables and continue broiling. Remove the garlic as soon as it is lightly colored and set aside.

Continue broiling the reaming vegetables until all sides are charred and blistered.

Transfer all the broiled vegetables to a large bowl and seal tightly with cling film and set aside to cool.

When the vegetables are cool enough to handle you are going to peel away the charred skins and discard them. As tempting as it may be, do not rinse the vegetables under the tap as you work. Doing so will only wash away the flavor you have created during the broiling process.

Likewise be sure to reserve all the juices from the roasting pan as well as the juices collected as you remove the seeds from the peppers, chile, and eggplant. All these flavorsome juices will be added back into Ajvar later.

Cut the bell peppers and jalapeno in half. Remove all the seeds and membranes and discard them. Tear the bell peppers into strips lengthwise and place them in the work bowl of a food processor along with the peeled eggplant.

In a small bowl combine the jalapeno, peeled garlic, salt, and vinegar and mash together with a wooden spoon to form a paste and set aside.

Begin pulsing the peppers and eggplant in the processor until the mixture looks like a coarse puree.

Stop the machine and spoon the garlic chile mixture on top of the red pepper puree and pulse until the mixture begins to smooth out.

Place a wide nonstick fry pan over medium low heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot add the Ajvar puree to the pan and stir for several minutes. Then add any reserved juices and stir them into the puree continue to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time to avoid any scorching.

Taste and add salt if needed.

Transfer the Ajvar to a sterilized jar and cool to room temperature. Add a thin layer of olive oil on top of the Ajvar and seal tightly with a lid and refrigerate.

The Ajvar will keep in the refrigerator for at least a month or more.

 

Serving

Serve as suggested as well as with j sandwiches, pasta, tacos or anything else that comes to mind.

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