Oaxacan Green Corn Cakes with Green Chilies

Corn Cakes with Green Chilies

“The Corn Mother from whom we receive our nourishment is thus an entity like Mother Earth, and so closely are they united that they are virtually synonymous. Because we build its flesh into our own, corn is also our body. But corn is also spirit, for it was divinely created, so we are also offering spiritual thanks to the Creator.” — Book of the Hopi

I started with Nopi’s soufflé corn cakes recipe and … changed it to make them greener and gluten-free. I also walked away from the Mediterranian flavors. Oaxacan Green corn flour, miso-glazed shishito peppers, and Roth’s Moody Blue (American smoked blue cheese) made a wonderful contribution to a complex flavor and color of the cakes.

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Cucumber Guacamole Topped with Octopus Ceviche

Octopus Ceviche and Cucumber Guacamole

As you know, the main ingredient of basic ceviche recipe is fresh raw fish marinated in lemon or lime juices and seasoned with salt, chili peppers, onions, and fresh cilantro. Ceviche de pulpo, or octopus ceviche can be made with cooked octopus. This ceviche is good for those who avoid eating uncooked fish (acid marinades do not provide the same level of food safety as heat cooking). In case of cooked octopus, we don’t need large amounts of citric juices and hours of marinating to cause denaturation of the proteins. We mostly add flavor, and the level of acidity in ceviche can be adjusted to your taste.

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Of Love and Hate: Brussels Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts with Cranberries, Barberries, and Smoked Blue Cheese

We kids feared many things in those days – werewolves, dentists, North Koreans, Sunday School — but they all paled in comparison with Brussels sprouts. — Dave Barry
I feel sorry for all people who were served poorly cooked Brussels in the childhood and now miss the beauty of these tiny cabbages every season. How do YOU like your Brussels?

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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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My Hawaii: Lomi Lomi

Lomi Lomi Salmon Salad

The name of this salad comes from its cooking method. Lomi lomi today is a term for “massage therapist” or “Hawaiian massage.” In Hawaiian, the word lomi traditionally used to describe an action of kneading, rubbing, or soothing, just like happy or content cats do. It is documented that for ages Hawaiians have beed preparing fresh fish salads by mixing diced ingredients — fish, sweet Maui onions, tomatoes, and salt — and gently massaging them with hands, letting fish to get cured by salt and vegetable juices.

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Pork Ribs: Cowboy Bigos

Cowboy Bigos

There are magical recipes so simple, a child can follow and get professional quality results. They do not require any special skills or equipment. I’m serious! I shared this recipe with my friends, clients, strangers, who were experienced and inexperienced, poor and rich, teenage students and mature adults, cooking for one or for large family — they all made perfectly cooked ribs.

When you pack seasoned ribs relatively tight in foil and cook it low (270-300F) and slow (~3 hours), you do not let any moisture to escape. Thus, you keep in all the juices and flavors of meat, bones, cartilage, and fat. They gelatinize tough tissues and concentrate. The result is full of flavor and melts in your mouth!

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Chard Pkhali

Chard Pkhali

Pkhali (ფხალი) is a signature Georgian appetizer. Its consistency is similar to pesto and tapenade. Pkhali’s main ingredients are cooked vegetables and walnuts mixed with traditional herbs and spices. Georgians are fond of greens. Many pkhali recipes include leaf cabbages/lettuces, chard/beetroot greens, or spinach. “Pkhali” is a Georgian name of chard. Follow my recipe to make this version of pkhali — full of umami and meat-like flavors, yet vegan.

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“Howdy!” Salad

I always think about it as a transitional flavor combination for people who are not familiar with Mexican, Tex-Mex, or Southern cuisines, as an introduction to our local specialties. It tastes wonderful with or without hot chilies. It is beautiful! It is perfect as a light summer meal, or as a side dish. It works well with grilled meats and poultry, with seafood, different tacos and enchiladas, or just corn chips or tortillas.

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