Salads & Vegetables

Tempura Tex-m-pura Baby Eggplants

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This might be the ultimate way to eat baby eggplants.
Besides the great classic recipes used for bigger eggplants, like ratatouille, caponata, Baba ghanoush, grilling, stuffing or roasting them( which I love) I feel these dainty two-three inches nightshade gems deserve a more delicate approach. I’m always looking for a contrast in texture when eating something so custardy and creamy like the way the eggplants become when they are cooked. The solution for my craving for these tender and sweet eggplants: tempura batter.
I know you have seen eggplant tempura at your favorite Japanese restaurant. They mostly use the large eggplants, which are delicious but not near as delicate in  flavor as these babies. Wait until you try this dainty two bite goodness.
These Tempura baby Eggplants are an exhilarating bite. Imagine a bite that combines a light and crispy fried tempura coat with a warm custardy buttery eggplant interior. A beautiful object to be dipped on a tangy, salty, spicy, sweet sauce. Yes, all in one bite.
Are you with me? Or did you lose it at tempura coat?…

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Radish Pineapple Mint Quinoa Salad

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Back in February, I started a little garden plot at the Mueller Community Gardens in my neighborhood. First months were rough. I started from seeds that my good friend Elizabeth gave me. Imagine all the possibilities when you are handed a box full of incredible heirloom seeds varieties from purple long green beans, carrots, greens, turnips, roman zucchinis, watermelon cucumbers, radishes, lipstick chili, melons you name it. Little did I know the challenging scenarios of starting a vegetable garden from seeds. But, nothing like five buckets of patience, a couple good days of rain, plenty of steamy sunshine and a little everyday care to make it grow. Also helpful was the good pinch of serious advice from friends and the experts, like farmer extraordinaire from Boogy Creek Farm, Carol Anne. She is always willing to help and giving the greatest advice. From her, I learned that planting a row of green beans besides the tomato plants will give tomatoes company and will help them grow together. She also emphasizes the importance to give enough space in between tomato plants for best flavor and juicy tomatoes, and pointed that leggy tomato plants need to be transplanted deeper among many other details that have been very valuable to apply on my little, garden. Also every other good samaritan that was visiting the community gardens, like David, who gave me advice from seedling spacing to how to keep the water hose untangled! I’m very grateful for all. Thank you!

Using the best of advice, applying it, and with all my expectations tossed through the window, the garden worked its own magic in a serendipitous way.

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Vegetable Taco Fillings A Mexican love letter to Vegetables

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Feelings…. nothing more than Fillings”… Hello friends, we’re back.We have been on a roller coaster; from a vacation in Mexico, to Slow Wine Festival, meeting new people, giving cooking classes, Ian giving lots of photography classes…we have been busy, but you have always been on our minds.

Visiting my Mexico after more than eight years was reinvigorating. Being back in my birth country was very fulfilling and I felt my roots strongly. We were welcomed at the airport with a big familiar smile and , thankfully, we did not have to get in the long customs line. During the visit we could eat and breathe the delicious in-season ingredients that Baja produces; from papayas, to avocados, chiles, lettuce, pineapples, limes, guanabanas, tomatoes, chard, radishes, you name it!. I just felt like a fish back in the water, especially walking along the pristine coastline. Now I’m melancholic… its hard to forget the people, the laughs, the air and the sea… and the food. From freshness, flavor, aroma, ingredients, preparations, sazones… can you imagine? Good thing we just visited one little town…Phew!

I have harnessed the melancholy and channeled it into a love letter to every Vegan and Vegetarian who has felt neglected by the Taco Love. Yes baby, not one, not two, but EIGHT vegetable fillings that will add vitamin “V” (vegetable) on any Taco night!

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Bonanza Bowl

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One Zucchini, one sweet potato, 1/3 of avocado, 11 cherry tomatoes, some spinach, the heel of a red onion and 2 pieces left from different cabbages, that was what I had in my fridge.
It happens to every fridge. These lonely rangers, the forgotten vegetables that get a little sad and tired looking. You really do not have a plan for them but you know you better eat them before you reload your fridge. All this bits and ends not enough for a complete recipe, you know how it feels when you have potatoes, but not butter, you have pasta but no sauce, or garlic but not oil sometimes your cooking just gets stuck. Some times you have to shake up your fridge and pantry to see what comes out of it.

This is the kind of Non-recipe that saves you. Sometimes if your fridge feels like this, its contagious and you’ll find that your Pantry has the same dilemma. But when your cooking bulb goes on, this bits and ends can be transformed on a blink of an eye and will turn into, perhaps the best dinner of the week.

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Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad

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Sweet peppers are what you can find at the markets in Austin, Texas right now. Beautiful varieties, colorful, different shapes and sizes. Perhaps one or two sassy ones among the bunch, but mostly they are fleshy, sweet and flavorful.

For me, grilling these kind of sweet peppers bring the best flavors in them. The sweet mild flesh with the charred pieces of skin are what inspired me to make this salad. We love to grill at this time of the year when it does not feel like you are grilling your self over, September its a better Grilling Time for us.

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Summer Rolls with Mango Ginger dipping sauce

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The noodles in my head are fried. August in Texas is no joke. Our Thermostat is on a bi-polar rampage. We are trying to deny the existence of such a thing called “electric bill”. We better stay still and attempt to use the stove much less on these days. Its sad but true, I’m not even craving BBQ or to go out for lunch or dinner when the temperature outside reads 90 F degrees even at 9:00pm. I’m Summernating!

So whats for lunch and dinner these days? The freshest crunchy vegetables, cucumbers, carrots, jicama, crispy lettuce, and thin rice noodles cooked in less than 4 minutes. Summer rolls or Gỏi cuốn which translate in “rice paper rolls, are found all over in East Asia and Southeast Asia cuisine. A fine sticky rice paper is the wrapper which holds vermicelli rice noodles and vegetables. Usually these Summer Rolls are served as a popular appetizer. Odds are you have had them if you eat in Vietnamese or Thai restaurants here in the U.S. But why not make them for dinner as the meal itself?

So what are you going to need? You can find the round rice paper at almost any supermarket with an ethnic foods aisle. Or of course you can shop for them in Asian markets or Wholefoods. They are very inexpensive. If you can’t find them, well you can easily order them online if you are Summernating like me.

These rolls are filled with julianne fresh vegetables, vermicelli noodles and a lean protein, usually shrimp or pork. I used in-season ingredients like fresh cucumbers which I spiralize to create noodles. If you don’t have that handy apparatus you can use a Juliane peeler or your handy-dandy knife skills to make fine vegetable strips of your carrots and lettuce. In this version I added avocado and shrimp.
In addition of the traditional peanut sauce, I prepared a dipping Mango-ginger sauce to make them fresher and add a bit more sweetness. These Summer Rolls are what I’m craving these days.

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Preparation of these rolls is a sticky affair but I have a nice trick which helps. If this is the first time making Summer Rolls my best advice: “Do Not” follow the instructions on the package, Heheehe. Everything will be easy after that…

Most of the packages and cookbook instructions out there which (for this roll-up process I call them “des-tructions”) call to dip the rice paper in water, to soften and rehydrate. Then to carefully transfer this world’s stickiest, see-thru, delicate, rice paper film into a wood surface or a plate… Let me tell you, this is sticky fingers, crinkled edges, tear apart of a nightmare.

To avoid this situation, I will share with you my secret weapon to make these Summer Rolls, roll easily. I use a spray bottle.

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Ceviche de Pulpo-Octopus Ceviche

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Octopus, the smartest, flexible and unique looking creature of the bottom of the sea. Eight arms, purple skin, side eyes, camouflage expert and a bag of attitude that will ink any snoozy neighbour. Why is this mollusk so intimidating? texture?, tentacles? I think Octopus are phenomenal, lots of personality and intelligent creatures.
Please, Do not judge by appearances this invertebrate is so delicious!. The meat is extra white, when is cooked properly, the texture is tender and mildly fishy, almost sweet. If you are lucky enough to get a fresh octopus you will taste the freshness of the sea water. You will have to tenderize the hell out of it before cooking,  like people from the Mediterranean smash their octopus against beautiful sea rocks right after being caught, or massage them until their arms are floppy and relaxed. But if you buy it previously frozen, from a good Sea food source half of the work is done for you and it saves you from doing the villain job.

 

If you follow my simple recipe instructions your Octupus will be tender, and flavorful, ready for ceviche, or just a simple drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive oil sea salt, lemon, smokey paprika and you have “Pulpo a la Gallega”. But, today, for me on a Summer day, Ceviche is my dish of choice. Trust me on this one.

I chose slightly different vegetables than the commun ceviche, like Cherry and Sun Gold tomatoes, which balance the acidity of the traditional ceviche adding a sweet balance. Also instead of red onions which for me are too strong and can overwhelm the delicate Octupus flavor, I chose shallots, they have a milder, onion and garlic profile that complements the Octupus. A good punch of heat with sharp and bright Serranos thinly sliced, that tickle your tong with out setting it on fire. Fresh cilantro, Mint and seedless cucumbers which add a lot of crunch and freshness to the dish.

If you want to eat like a Mermaid along with your Sailor this Summer, this Ceviche de Pulpo-Octopus Ceviche recipe is for you.

Jazz it up!

 

Ceviche de Pulpo-Octopus Ceviche

Serves 2 hungry sailors or 4 mermaids…

2 Medium Octopus, I used previously frozen from …*
3/4 cup Cherry tomatoes cut in halves
3/4 cup Sun Gold tomatoes cut in halves
1/2 English Cucumber, small diced
2 Shallots thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1-2 Sprigs of Mint just the leaves torned.
1 Serrano thinly sliced
1 Habbanero thinly siced optional
3 Juicy limes = 1/3 cup fresh lime juice approx.
1 lemon, the juice and the zest
1 glug Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea salt
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste, optional

1-2 Avocado Hass
Corn Tostadas, or crackers…
Extra lime for wedges
Cholula, Valentina, Hiuichol or Tabasco hot Sauce

* Thanks to Steven, Fish Monger at Whole Foods Market- Domain, Austin for saving me some octopus!

Preparation Method:

1.Fill a large pot with at least 1.5 Gallons of water. Add 1 tablespoon sea salt and 1 large bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Once Water is boiling place the two octopus into the pot and lower the heat to low simmer. Cover pot with a lid and cook for 25-35 minutes.
Cooking times:
Usually this medium-small octopus cook very fast and they are tender. If you decide to use a bigger Octopus, increase the cooking time at least for 1 hr. and 30minutes, depending on the size.
How to tell when is cooked?,Use a fork and prick the wides part of the leg. or in between the leg and head if it feels tender and inserts with no trouble, octopus is done! Remove from hot water into a iced water bowl to prevent overcooking.Octopus-Ceviche-de-Pulpo_how-to-cook-octopus_Yes,-more-please!

2. Meantime your octopus is cooling off, Chop all your vegetables, do your prep.

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3. Once your octopus has cooled down slice each arm into 1/4 inch to 1/4 inch slices, discard the center and slice the head like if you where slicing a calamari, or into dice, what ever you prefer. Place into a plater and squeeze the lime juice, add salt and olive oil.

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4. Add All the chopper Vegetables, Toss well and live it rest for 15-20 minutes. Smash 1-2 Avocados season with a bit of salt an lime juice. This will be the glue when you built your tostada.

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Call all the Sailors, Mermaids and Drummers!

Serve with tostadas and a cold beer…Enjoy!

Music Pairing: Caravan Written by Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington

Version from the movie Whiplash

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Peperoncini Shrimp Ceviche Stuffed Avocados

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After a rainy, muggy and wet Spring, Summer arrived early here in Austin.

Temperatures are on the rise and bright sunny days with blue skies are here. Vacation time is upon us. This means get out of the kitchen!!! Enjoy the outdoors, and whether you are planning a vacation to the beach a picnic or a staycation at home, there are always ways to enjoy this great weather.

This recipe is a fresh and light option, for gatherings, entertaining, or to take to a picnic or just to enjoy by the pool, patio or in the comfort of your house watching your favorite movie or reading a book. The goal is to relax and enjoy something fresh and delicious and pamper yourself.

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These stuffed avocados are a party on a plate. The Peperoncini Shrimp Ceviche is out of this world a punch of flavor, fresh, light and serving it on avocado halves makes it just irresistible. All the delicious summer flavors: cucumbers, pineapple, onions, limes, orange juice in combination with a pepper kick from the peperoncinis and the creamy avocado make this recipe a win win situation.

Healthy? Yes, indeed. Fun to make? Yes! Peperoncini Shrimp Ceviche Stuffed Avocados It is just what you are craving on your Summer vacation.
Good music, refreshing drinks, a relaxing attitude and these  are all you need to bring the heat and enjoy your Summer vacation… Let’s cook!

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Peperoncini Shrimp Ceviche Stuffed Avocados

Serves 4 to 6 with a bit of left over to refill the avocado halves.

2-3 Medium Avocados Hass is the preferable variety from Mexico (check the sticker!)
1 pound small medium shrimp peeled, deveined and cooked.
1 small tomato small diced
½ english cucumber small diced
1 small purple onion slivered
1 cup fresh pineapple small diced
8-10 pieces of Peperoncinis sliced.
¼ cup parsley finely chopped
2 glugs or 3 round drizzles of ExtraVirgin Olive Oil
1 lime juice
1 small orange, the juice and the zest
2 tablespoons of the peperoncini brine
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon celery salt
2-3 good cranks of fresh Black pepper
Pink Himalayan salt to your taste

Preparation:

1.In a medium size bowl combine all the chopped vegetables, shrimp, and the sliced peperoncinis. Add the lime juice, the orange zest and juice, 2 tablespoons of the peperoncinies brine, extra virgin olive oil, garlic powder, celery salt, Black pepper and one or two pinches of Pink Himalayan salt to taste. Toss throughly, cover, refrigerate and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.

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2.When ready to serve, cut Avocados in half length-wise, remove pit, and slice a sliver from the backside of each half to flatten the rounded side and make them stable on the plate. With a paring knife carefully cut the interior of the avocado into a grid. This will help to make it easier to eat.

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3.Drizzle some lime juice and a little pink salt, on each avocado half place them on a serving platter and stuff with the Peperoncini Shrimp Ceviche. Garnish with lime and orange wedges, plantain chips or water crackers, Enjoy!

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Welcome the Summer!

If you are on Vacation mode, weather if it is staycation, the beach, pool party or a picnic this give away is for you!

Enjoy your Summer and Bring the Heat!!!

Thank you to Mezzetta for sponsoring today’s post and inspiring us to try your delicious peppers!

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Music Pairing: Zorba The Greek `original Sound track from the 1964 Movie

https://youtu.be/66dJoVawkb8

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. The Mezzetta company sponsored it and compensated Yes, More Please! via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, Yes, more please! only recommends products or services we use and believe to be good fit for our readers. We are disclosing this post in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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