MY CULINARY ADVENTURES

tastes are made, not born

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Smoked Basmati | Imitating Mandi Flavors

Smoked Basmati and Chicken Kabobs

Today, we want to enjoy the convenience of our modern kitchen and to keep all those amazing flavors, and home cooks get creative to imitate them with what is available. For example, many online recipes for mandi suggest placing a small fireproof dish with hot charcoal and some fat inside the pot with cooked dish, covered with a lid to keep the smoke. The smoke is created by burning fat, which is not the most delicious smokey compound.

Is there a way to use a stovetop smoker for adding wood fire flavors?

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Tasting Menu: Tapas

Tapas cooking class follow-up

Pulpo a la Gallega

Pulpo a la Gallega

Pulpo a la Gallega

RECIPE

Empanada Gallega

Empanada Gallega

Empanada Gallega

RECIPE

Pinchos Morunos

Pinchos Morunos

RECIPE

Artichoke Flower Salad

Baby Artichoke Flower Salad

Baby Artichoke Flower Salad

My clients were looking for the recipe of artichoke flower they loved when visiting Madrid. I tried different cooking methods with locally available artichokes and couldn’t come close to the soft texture they described. Using low-acidity marinated artichoke hearts became the best solution for now. We sprayed them with olive oil and broiled for a few minutes to caramelize the tops. Look for Fancy Whole Artichoke Hearts by Native Forest, product of Peru at Central Market and Whole Foods.

Gilda | Anchovy, Olive, and Pepper Skewers

Tapas: Gildas

Tapas: Gildas

The idea is to combine these three ingredients the way they all work together without overpowering each other and the wine they are served with. We tasted many different olives and used two milder varieties: Castelvetrano (darker green, pitted) and Picholine (lighter, stuffed with sweet peppers). These olives are available at Central Market.

We found commonly used for this tapa Fefferoni peppers overwhelmingly hot and added only tiny strips of them for piquant notes. Roasted Piquillo peppers took their place.

Butterflied white marinated anchovies, Boquerones by Martel are available at Central Market. Ask for them in deli meats and seafood section, they are sold in bulk and you can get the exact amount you need to serve.

pa amb tomàquet | Pan Con Tomate | Grilled Bread with Tomato

Tapa: Pan Con Tomate

Tapa: Pan Con Tomate

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

This Catalonian dish is often referred as the simplest tapa to recreate. The truth is the opposite: you need the right kind of these down-to-earth ingredients to make it truly exciting. Connoisseurs of Pa amb tomàquet tapa only make them with a special variety of tomatoes — Tomates de Colgar, sweet and meaty. Grilled slice of white crusty bread is used a grating tool. First, add garlic flavor, and then grate halved tomato. Soaked with thick tomato pure slice of bread is then seasoned and sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil. It is simple when you have ripe and delicious tomatoes handy. We learned how to manipulate tomato flavor with what we have available — fresh organic heirloom and canned Manzano varieties. One of the ingredients we used for seasoning was sun-dried tomato powder available at Savory Spice Shop.

Angulas | Baby Eel

Tapa: Angulas | Baby Eel

Tapa: Angulas | Baby Eel

Baby eels are part of traditional Basque cuisine. There are canned angulas available at Specs (headquarters, Brodie Lane). All my guests were adventurous and open minded to appreciate this tapa with very delicate flavor and amusing firm texture. Pairs well with rounded and balanced Tempranillo.

Queso con Membrillo | Cheese and Quince Paste

Tapas: Spanish Cheese and Quince Paste | Queso con Membrillo

Tapas: Spanish Cheese and Quince Paste | Queso con Membrillo

Tapas: Spanish Cheese and Quince Paste

Tapas: Spanish Cheese and Quince Paste

Spanish cheese I served is available at Central Market, Whole Foods, and partially at Specs (headquarters, Brodie Lane). Curled Petit Basque was part of the artichoke flower salad. At the end of the dinner, we paid respect to other three great kinds of cheese, traditionally paired with a quince paste called membrillo: 2 month aged Tronchon, 4 month aged (by Don Juan) Manchego, and 3 month aged Majorero.

Spanish Cheese: Petit Basque

Spanish Cheese: Petit Basque

Spanish Cheese: Petit Basque

Spanish Cheese: Petit Basque

Tapas: Pinchos Morunos | Moorish Skewers

Pincho, or pinchito, means “little thorn” or “little skewer,” so pincho moruno roughly translates as Moorish kabobs and is a typical tapa of the Spanish autonomous communities of Andalusia and Extremadura. Being Muslims, the Moors made similar dishes with lamb. Christian Spain took their traditional spice mixes and applied them to preferred chicken and pork. During the summer, pinchitos are often served with bread, wedges of lemon, and wine. Usually, these skewers are made during the barbecue season. Steps 5 nd 6 of this recipe show how to make this delicious appetizer using the convenience of your indoor kitchen, rain or shine.

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Lamb Kabobs: Making Shashlik in Texas

Lamb Cabobs | Shashlyks

How authentic is this shashlyk? Well, let’s see. Instead of traditional mangal, I use shichirin and instead of grapevine — binchotan charcoals from Japan. While true Georgian shashlik is made of non-aged lamb, I choose conditioned lamb from New Zeland. Finally, the marinade is based on local herbs, vegetables, and spices. I couldn’t even find a good substitute for young Georgian wine and decided to use sake for its cleaner taste.

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Swedish Meatballs: Köttbullar

Swedish Meatballs

Yes, they exist in all cuisines of the world, in some of them — forever. Different names, kinds of meat, sauces, and seasonings depend on what is available in the region. Last night, during the class we made classic Italian meatballs with tomato sauce to serve them with fresh pasta, and I remembered how much more I like Swedish meatballs. It’s time to add my favorite school recipe to this website collection.

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Steamed Buns: Liu Sha Bao | Golden Lava Buns

Golden Lava Steamed Buns

They were one of the most exciting dim sum items I ever tasted in Singapore — you make a bite and watch how hot golden lava slowly flows out. That lava is an unusual custard based on salted duck egg yolks and condensed milk. Steamed buns are served hot with hot green tea. They are addictive for those who crave for rich milk and egg flavors, creamy and fluffy textures, and a delicate, sweet and salty balance.

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Dumplings: Har Gow | Shrimp Bonnet

Dumplings: Har Gow

They are fascinating for many reasons. First of all, they attract everybody’s attention because of their semi-transparency, which is stunning with colorful filling. Secondly, they are gluten-free by nature. The wrappers are made of starches that do not contain any gluten. Finally, they are totally delicious with incredible texture.

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Ramen: Creamy Chicken Stock | Tori Paitan | 鶏ガラパイタン

Tori Paitan Ramen

Creamy chicken stock for ramen is now my number two favorite after tonkotsu. Torikotsu uses the same technique but requires less time and efforts to make it than tonkotsu — it is much easier to gelatinise chicken cartilage and connective tissues and extract flavors from less dense chicken bones. Most of the myoglobin is neutralized during the fist step of soaking chicken in cold water. To make it efficient, chop chicken wings and legs to smaller, 1-2″ pieces to expose bones marrow. As a result, there is significantly less scum to skim during the second step. Just like for tonkotsu, it is essential to remove the foam that appears, but keep the chicken fat and emulsify it into the creamy stock later, during the rapid boiling. Pressure cookers are very helpful and streamline the last stage of making chicken paitan even more if you are working on just a few portions. For the recipe below, use a 10-quart stock pot.

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Ramen: Pork Belly for Ramen | Chāshū | チャーシュー

Rolled Pork Belly Chashu

Chāshū is my favorite meat ingredient for ramen. Just like ramen, it came to Japanese cuisine from China and transformed into a very different dish. Originally, char siu 叉燒 is a kind of barbecued pork in Cantonese cuisine. In Japan, it is meaty pork belly slowly cooked in a flavorful broth. At the end of cooking, pork belly loses a lot of fat and becomes very tender and soft. Every bite of chashu melts in the mouth. For ramen, chashu os served thinly sliced. A very similar Japanese recipe for cooking pork belly to serve it with cooked rice, hot mustard sauce, and pickled vegetables is called Buta no Kakuni (豚の角煮, “pork cut square and simmered”). For both recipes, pork belly can be skinless or with pigskin, based on personal preferences and availability.

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TASTES ARE MADE, NOT BORN

Culinary coach and personal chef with extensive knowledge of various ethnic cuisines,
I bring my best discoveries to you!