Tag Archives: recipe

Recipe: glorious (but simple) sautéed mushrooms

I was given some mushrooms that we’re about to go ‘off’ so I decided to sauté them.

Normally I would use white onion, but happened to have a bunch of diced red onion (from vegetarian pozole two nights ago – recipe soon) so decoded to try that. Also normally would use beer, but had an (old) open bottle of white wine. Finally, I decided to try adding turmeric and cumin instead of my customary garlic. So, here you go:

Sliced white mushrooms
White wine (I used Sauvignon blanc)
Red onion, diced

Melt butter (to taste – I used about 1T for an almost full small tub of mushrooms.
Add sliced mushrooms.
Add diced red onion – about 1-2T
Once the butter begins to cook down, add a glug or two of wine.
Add spices – about two shakes of each, and a bit of salt.
Continue to sauté until the mushrooms soften.



jabulani: pap and sheba

Are you around? I’ve made some traditional Zulu food and you’ve got to try it. 

It’s not exactly the kind of message you expect to get, living in Baja.

But with South African, Thai, and Spanish neighbors, in addition to the plentiful Mexicans and Americans, even in this small town it is not entirely out of the realm of the possible.

Turns out the ‘Zulu food’ is called Pap and Sheba. It’s ‘traditional’ food in South Africa–never something you’d go to a restaurant for, but something you’d eat at home, according to my host and impromptu cooking jefe, Ron.

He made it because his first foray into home gardening has gifted him with an abundance of tomatoes–tomatoes that were delicious in the sauce of the dish, called ‘Sheba.’

Pap, the ‘starch’ of the dish, is a corn meal substance, like a polenta, over which the Sheba–saucy with tomatoes, onions, garlic and spices to taste–is poured.

It was delicious.

So delicious, in fact, that I had to go home and try to make it myself. That same night. After eating an entire bowl full.

I too, have been gifted with a garden full of tomatoes, many of which I’ve sun-dried on the dashboard of my car (that will have to be another post) but with the cooler temps that have come in, sautéing them seemed to be a good option.

Though my attempt was not nearly as tasty as the real deal (taught to Ron by a lovely African woman named Violet) it is good enough to keep the leftovers and marks my first entrance into adding a South African flair to the cooking repertoire.

jubulani! (which, I learned, is a zulu word for ‘rejoice’)

red lentil coconut dahl with sautéed greens

I happen to have a bumper crop, at the moment, of greens (chard, arugula, heirloom leaf lettuce) so I am looking for ways of using said greens in pretty much every meal. I also happened to have some coconut milk that I needed to use, so thus was born this combo.

For the dahl: 

Cook the red lentils according to instructions–I cooked about a half a cup in about two cups of water. Bring them to a boil, add turmeric and salt, then simmer until they break down, about 15 to 20 minutes. I added a bit of the coconut milk to the dahl, as it was cooking–don’t let it boil.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add one sliced onion to the oil and stir until translucent. Add garlic and ginger, (I use the already ready in a jar kind, since it’s easy to have on hand) about a teaspoon of each, more or less. Sautee a bit more.

Add cumin seeds and stir. Add curry powder–I happen to have a number of them from a recent trip to London. Use a good one–not just the kind that is called ‘curry powder’ in most US (white) grocery stores. You could use garam masala if you’ve got that.

Add diced carrot and sliced celery (about a handful of each) and stir, making sure everything is coated in the spices. I added a bit of coconut milk to keep the mixture from sticking to the pan and to give it a bit more moisture–not too much, you don’t want it soupy. Just sort of lightly covered.

Pour the onion mixture on top of the cooked lentils, cover, and let sit. Do not yet stir.

For the greens:

In the pan where you cooked the onions, which still should be full of the spice flavor, add a bit more oil and some garlic, and sautée the sliced greens–I used chard, but you could also use spinach. Slice more than you think you will need, as they cook down. Stir the greens around in the pan, getting all the leftover spices on them. After a few minutes, when they have barely begun to wilt, turn off the heat.

Stir the lentil mixture into the onion mixture.

Serve with rice. You can garnish with some plain yogurt and mint or cilantro/coriander if you’d like.

pici pasta with butternut squash, rosemary, and carmelized onions

One of the highlights from my recent trip to Italy was most definitely the food.

Being fall, it was not only olive oil season (which translated into a lovely ‘olive oil tasting dinner’) but also white truffle season. At close to €2000/kilo (which was apparently quite cheap, as referenced in the blog Fresh Truffles) I did not have an extensive encounter with the pricey fungi, but did manage to savor them over pasta one lunch.

What I did have, on what became a fairly regular (read daily) basis, was, what is called in Tuscany, pici (peachy) pasta. Pici is basically a homemade and hand rolled fat spaghetti. It is delicious. Much of the time it is served simply with “cheese and pepper.” I was glad to have my vision of what that might be corrected–somehow I pictured a sort of nacho cheese sauce, with fajita style bell peppers. The cheese, as it turned out, was local pecorino and the pepper was simply freshly ground cracked black pepper. Did I mention it was delicious?

I am not sure if pici is available freshly made in the US–I’m sure it must be somewhere. But I do know that here in Baja it is not something you find Estela’s, the local tienda. So, I decided to try and make it myself. A brief google search lead me to a recipe on Hunter Gardner Angler Cook. Having no semolina flour, I substituted masa.  Rolling the strands out by hand (see photos in the recipe description) was a bit tricky at first, but really fun in a playdough kind of way once I got the hang of it.

On my first attempt, I tried it with just cheese (I had shaved Parmesan–not at all the same as fresh pecorino) and pepper. I also forgot to check how long to cook the pici and overcooked it somewhat.

For my second attempt I was able to roll much thinner pici, and cooked them only 3-4 minutes for a delicious aldente consistency. I also experimented with the following ‘sauce’:

Butternut Squash, rosemary, and carmelized onions

Slice onion (1/person)
Saute onion in butter and olive oil on very low heat, for 45-60 min

Finely dice butternut squash (about 1 cup/person)
Add squash to onion once onion has turned transluscent
Add a bit of water so onion and squash don’t stick

Add hole cloves of garlic to taste
Add sprigs of fresh rosemary to taste
Add nutmeg, salt

Once squash has become tender and onion is carmelized, remove from sauce pan and roast in the oven or toaster oven for another 15 minutes.

Juice lemon and mix with honey, about half a lemon for half a teaspoon of honey.
Drizzle honey/lemon mixture over butternut squash as it is roasting

Serve butternut squash over pici, add crumbled queso fresco (or goat cheese or pecorino) and garnish with a fresh sprig of rosemary.