Monthly Archives: December 2011

Recipe: Curried Spinach with Raisins

You can look at this recipe two ways:  as a quick and tasty side dish, or a mega-dose of nutritional goodness on a plate.

To discover the “quick and tasty”, you will have to take my word for it; for the nutrition, check this out:

Recipe: Cajun Shrimp

I learned most of what I know about Cajun cooking from three great chefs:   Justin Wilson (red suspenders), Paul Prudhomme (white beret), and Emeril Lagasse (“Bam!”).

When it came to creating my own Cajun-style seasoning, though,  I needed a little more personal advice than these television chefs. I was so lucky to have two friends with strong ties to Louisiana — Aurora and Judy. Both of them jumped into action when I told them that I was working on a Cajun blend;  Aurora reached out to generations of family members back home, asking them for guidance, which led to her passing on comments like:

Here in town, it [gumbo]  is typically served with a side of potato salad and maybe some buttered french bread that’s been toasted

and

You can have heat but you got to have those flavors that come together just right“. Read the rest of this entry

Recipe: Za’atar Pita Chips

Zaatar, za’tar, zatar, zatr, zahatar, zaktar or satar!  However you spell it, za’atar is a delicious spice blend with Middle Eastern origins.

Introducing:  za’atar by Your Spice of Life!

The same way that there is no set recipe for Italian or Cajun seasoning, there is no standard for za’atar. However, the components of za’atar that are most often found are thyme, oregano, sumac berry, sesame seeds and salt.

I wanted to develop my own za’atar blend, honoring its tradition but also adding my own twist, as I do with all my blends. So I omitted the sesame seeds (mostly because of their very short shelf life) and the salt (because none of my spice blends contain it). Instead, I added some marjoram to intensify the herbiness, and a pinch of lemon peel to brighten the flavor and enhance the lemony flavor inherent in sumac berries.

Read the rest of this entry

Recipe: Salmon Bites

If you have the time,  I encourage everyone to take on the challenge of Julia Child’s infamous duck stuffed with meat, in pastry. But for most people, that is out of the question;  you have 15 minutes to get a meal on the table, and if it’s exotic / fabulous / memorable, that’s a bonus.

That’s why I like to come up with a recipe like Salmon Bites.  Super easy, quick as can be, but packing quite a ta-da factor.

The idea is simple:   sautee tiny squares of salmon that have been heavily coated in spice blend. or a straight spice.  You get an intense burst of flavor with each bite, but the salmon can take it and doesn’t get lost. Read the rest of this entry

Recipes: Time-savers and add-ins

Who wouldn’t love creating soup-to-nuts meals every day, from scratch?

OK, maybe not literally soup-to-nuts, but you know what I mean: wholesome, healthy meals that are creative and delicious. Time constraints and energy shortages can get in the way;  as much as I   to cook from scratch,  there are times when I need to take a few shortcuts.

I’m not alone in that, either;  there is a very popular show on the Food Network, Semi-homemade with Sandra Lee,  in which Sandra combines fresh ingredients with store-bought to create what she calls “semi-homemade” dishes.

Over time, I’ve come up with a few shortcuts, myself,  that are real winners: Read the rest of this entry

Recipe: Hearty 3-Bean Vegetarian Chili

Did you know that there is an International Chili Society?  Yeah,  chili (the stew) and chilis (the peppers) both have huge followings;  the ICS even has a Facebook Page!

I am a big fan of a piping hot bowl of homemade chili, myself.  This time of year when the furnace is blasting but I am still shivering, chili warms me up and fills me up.

But that’s not why I made this chili!  Read the rest of this entry

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