Homemade Harissa

Harissa, suace, Tunician, Middle Eastern, hot

I divide all Harissa recipes into three groups: basic, variable, and exquisite ones. For basic harissas, the list of ingredients is shorter — dried chiles bring heat and fruity flavors, cumin and coriander represent spices, garlic (often sun-dried) adds pungence, salt, and olive oil. Variable harissas may include sun-dried tomatoes and fire roasted sweet peppers, onion, and herbs. Extra fancy harissas have an extensive list of spices and herbs and even include Damask rosebuds. My recipe belongs to the second category.

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Bulgogi Under the Broil

Bulgogi with Vegetable Stir-Fry

Cooking bulgogi outdoors over smoking charcoal is, of course, number one choice. The second choice is grilling the beef on a skillet over very high heat. My recipe is intended to show how to broil bulgogi. Broiling allows making large portions of meat to serve at the same time without mess and hassle. It also requires the least amount of oil and your efforts. Think about it as a cooking method you can utilize for other marinades and meats that belong to different cuisines.

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Salsa de Pina y Mango | Fresh Pineapple and Mango Salsa

Pineapple and Mango Salsa

This salsa is one of my favorite. I like seafood, and it’s perfect with many seafood dishes as a side. It’s beautiful! Bright, sunny colors of fresh tropical fruit. It tastes like vacation in Hawaii, if, of course, you come across excellent ripe golden pineapples and Ataulfo mango. This salsa is easy to make — all its ingredients are raw, but you have to know smart ways to cut, slice, and dice pineapple and mango to enjoy the process of making it. When you do, you can make this salsa quickly and impress your guests with a presentation.

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Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup

Tortilla soup is one of the most popular Mexican soups. Google it, and you can easily get tons of “classic” recipes and even more variations. The base is always the same — dry red chili peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, tortilla chips, cilantro, and lime. In some recipes tortilla chips are used to thicken the soup, in other, they are the topping. In central Mexico, this soup flavor is defined by pungent and tangy thin fleshed pasilla, in Michoacan region it’s a fruity and mild ancho, in Puebla a smokey chipotle takes the place. There are also a variety of additional toppings from cooked meat and poultry to avocado, cheese, and cream. Every local chef or home cook features the best regional ingredients in this soup. I often joke comparing tortilla soup in Mexican cuisine to borsch in Ukrainian.

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Galician Pie Made in Texas

Empanada Gallega

Empanada Gallega is popular all over Spain and around the world, it is one of the most known Spanish dishes.

The dough is made of wheat flour, fat (lard or oil), and water. The base for the filling is sofrito — onions and peppers — plus seafood or meat. Empanada Gallega is served freshly cooked or cold, sliced into portions, as an appetizer or tapas. The most common versions of this pie are made with canned tuna, scallops, and chopped pork sausage. My absolute favorite are scallops.

Empanadas Gallega can be large or small, round or square; they can be shaped as a large crescent and named empanadillas. As it often happens with famous dishes, there are many recipes of this pie. Mine is based on the original recipe in Spanish from recetaempanadagallega.com, which is featured as one of the best recipes of this pie. It uses a very interesting cooking method to prepare vegetable filling — peppers and onions are poached in oil, strained, and the same flavored oil is used for making pie dough. Which is genius!

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Summer Vegetables Soup

Summer Soup with Ramps Puree

The beginning is always the same — sauté some diced onions and grated carrots in melted butter and cream for color. Because beta-carotene in a carrot is fat soluble, this step is important for the final color of the soup and for making the best use of the nutrient. The rest in this recipe is variable — adjust it to your taste and diet!

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Chicken and Portobello Mushrooms Julienne

Portioned Chicken amd Mushroom Julienne

While the rest of the world used this word to describe a matchstick knife cut, for Russian-speaking culinary community julienne has always been a chicken and mushroom casserole en cocotte. This legendary dish was extremely popular during the Soviet era in high-end restaurants as well as at home. Naturally, the assumption was that the recipe is a result of French influence on pre-revolution Russian cuisine. All stories I know about this dish are mostly anecdotes. Many different recipes claim to be original. Some insist on using mushrooms, preferably porchini. Other include cooked chicken and other vegetables. Restaurant versions often add bechamel or mornay sauces, while home cooks prefer sour cream. Everybody makes this dish adjusted to their personal taste, keeping the same only basic ingredients and the way it is served. Russian julienne has to be cooked individually portioned in mini casseroles and covered with a generous amount of cheese to melt on top. It is simple and delicious!

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Romantic French Menu: Seafood Served on Puff Pastry Shell

Crabmeat Appetizer

It was our seafood block. Chef J finished his st jacques demo and arranged seared scallops between two halves of baked puff pastry with a splash of creamy sauce — perfect combination of flavors and textures. For the old classic preparation, the puff pastry was shaped as a shell. I couldn’t understand why nobody serves scallops like this any more. Since than, I’ve been using this idea for my scallop dishes and seafood appetizers.

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Romantic Breakfast: Smoked Fish Benedict

Smoked Fish Benedict

Eggs Benedict is an American breakfast dish — two halves of English muffin, a slice of ham or bacon, and a poached egg are served with hollandaise sauce. There are many variations on the basic recipe. The one I use in my Romantic Breakfast: Mastering Eggs Recipes cooking class comes from the Two for Tonight: Pure Romance from L’Auberge Chez François cookbook. It belongs to Alsatian cuisine, which combines the rustic simplicity of neighboring Germany and French finesse. My version below is adopted to our locally available ingredients. I use smokey reduced cream sauce with vegetables instead of Hollandaise.

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