Posts Tagged With: spices

Nopalitos Pulao

Hello friends, Amy here making something different out of the same characters I always eat, again and again and again. Eating more locally and seasonally encourages creativity! Nopalitos, young prickly pear cactus pads of many species, are DELICIOUS but like okra need special care to not let them overpower the texture of a meal. Start by harvesting a tender young pad that still has its true leaves, the little cones at the top of the pads seen in the photo below. As the pad matures, the leaves yellow, fall, and a woody internal structure develops. This might be the last I harvest before a new flush of pads comes with summer rains.

Any large spines or tiny glochids can be quickly singed to ash over an open flame, holding the pad with tongs.

Singed nopalitos can be safely touched and if they turn from bright green to pale olive, they are cooked and ready to be eaten.

To showcase this little harvest I made pulao, an extremely flexible rice pilaf from India. I started with a traditional recipe changing to local veggies and nuts. Whole cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, star anise, Indian bay, fennel and black cumin can be toasted in oil or ghee. I wish I had whole nutmeg or mace to add at the beginning, because I forgot to add them as ground spices later.

Then onion, garlic, ginger and a whole green chile (a serrano frozen from last autumn’s harvest) went in to fry. Followed by Tucson CSA carrots.

Then Tucson CSA zucchini, soaked basmati rice and mint from the garden.

After several years without, I now have a great spearmint patch again. A smart gardener gives plant starts away to friends and family for backups and last year I was a grateful recipient. Anybody need some?

After water, salt and 20 minutes covered over low heat, it was ready.

After fluffing, I toasted some local pecans and sprinkled them as well as the nopalitos on top. A totally new taste for my usual veggie friends. If you like this, you make like Tia Marta’s cholla bud jambalaya.

Categories: Cooking, Gardening, herbs, Southwest Food, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fermented Citrus: Marmalade, Indian Pickle, Mole Pickle

20170122_133637_001Hello friends, Amy here with more fermentation experiments.

It’s a good year for citrus, and I’ve come across a few mystery specimens lately, all very tart. Lemons that look like sour oranges with a lumpy, thick zest. Kumquats that were maybe calamondins. Some called calamondins, but biger, with skin and pith as thick as an orange. Something labeled meyers that were orange and more sour than a regular lemon. Rather than attempt to decipher the cultivars, I’ve just been enjoying them!

Indian Lemon Pickle

A friend’s mom from India fed me some lemon pickle. Wow!!!! Sour!!!! Salty!!!! Spicy, too! It looked as if it was going to be killer spicy, but it was only medium heat. It can be served as a condiment on the table, like with rice and cooked greens. It’s good in a vinaigrette. Any leftover soup or stew suddenly becomes new and exciting! I’m going to try marinating some chicken in it before grilling.

To make Indian lemon pickle, cut sour citrus into small pieces (about 2 cups) and remove the seeds. Add juice to nearly cover the fruit.

20170124_13340720170124_133453Add salt (2 tablespoons) and turmeric (1/2 teaspoon). The spices can be omitted if desired, like classic Moroccan preserved lemons used in cooking or Vietnamese lemons used in lemonade. I’m sure many other cuisines ferment citrus also.

Cover and let ferment at room temperature for a week or two, stirring daily. When the fruit is soft, it is ready to enjoy or spice further.

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Dry toast fenugreek seed (1 tablespoon), cool and grind. Gently heat oil (3 tablespoons) and cook black mustard seeds (half teaspoon) until they sputter! Turn down the heat and add asafoetida powder (1 teaspoon) and the prepared fenugreek. Cook briefly while stirring.

 

 

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Add the cooled spicy oil mixture and the chile to the lemon and taste! It stores beautifully in the refrigerator for a long time, thanks to high salt content. Keep the citrus pieces submerged in the brine. The salt can be reduced, but it may not keep as well.

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Mole Pickle

On a creative streak, I decided to use Mano Y Metate Adobo powder in place of the other spices. tin4I cooked Adobo powder (half a tin) in oil (3 tablespoons, cooled and added to the same fermented lemons. Yummy! The fenugreek seed in the other batch has a slight bitter edge that the Adobo version did not have. The richness of the sesame tempered the sharpness of the lemon, but it is still very potent. Perfect for tacos!!!!

 

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Fermented Marmalade

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon has a recipe for a fermented Orange or Kumquat Marmalade, so I had to try.

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I chopped three heaping cups of sour citrus and added one tablespoon salt, half a cup filtered water, a quarter cup evaporated cane juice (granulated sugar would be fine) and one quarter cup whey (drained from yogurt) as a starter culture. Fruit normally has enough beneficial Lactobacillus cultures and the salt favors their growth over the harmful microorganisms. However, I followed the recipe since this jar had lower salt concentration and added sugar. (The sugar favors different beneficial cultures to grow.) After sitting for a couple weeks and stirring daily, it was slightly fizzy and delicious!

I made some with sliced fruit and some with fruit chopped in the food processor. The barely salty “brine” was less sour than the ferments in sour juice, slightly sweet, and tasty to sip! We ate the softened fruit on buttered toast, with or without additional evaporated cane juice sprinkled on top. Honey would be good, too.

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Enjoy, and happy experimenting!

 

 

Categories: Cooking, fruit, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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