Key Lime & Coconut

My adventures in the world of food & wine

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Weekend Herb Blogging Round Up!

Welcome to my first stint at hosting Weekend Herb Blogging, the weekly food blogging event where bloggers around the world submit information and recipes using their favorite herbs, plants, vegetables and flowers. WHB is the brainchild of the lovely Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen. This week for WHB #74 we've got a nice even 25 entries (according to my somewhat dubious counting skills). So, without further ado, in order of submission:

Arroz con Pollo with Recado Rojo
Asha from Aroma!
North Carolina, USA
Asha creates a beautiful chicken-and-rice dish flavored with annatto, a spice from the exotic achiote plant. She mixes annatto with other spices to create recado rojo, a bright red paste often used in Mexican cuisine. Her colorful post features beautiful step-by-step pictures.

Salmon & Fatoush
Ruth from Once Upon a Feast
Toronto, Canada
This summery meal is full of flavorful herbs: mint, parsley, coriander, and the star of the dish, ground sumac. Not only will Ruth's fresh fish and fatoush (try saying that five times fast!) transport you to a time of warmer weather, it's healthy and South Beach Diet friendly.

Spinach and Tofu Paneer
Emily from Superspark
Pasadena, California, USA
Whether you call it saag paneer or palak paneer, or even if you don't know the difference, Emily's first attempt at cooking Indian food looks like a success to me. It's spicy, full of good-for-you spinach, and less buttery/oily than restaurant fare.

Nettle Soup
Joanna from Joanna's Food
Henley on Thames, England
Joanna cleverly turns nettles, a stinging weed common in the UK, into a yummy soup. Nettles are full of iron and vitamin C, so hopefully they'll help Joanna get over her cold!

Chicken and Quickly Roasted Asparagus Served with Tahini Sauce
Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Kalyn, the original creator of Weekend Herb Blogging, created yet another delicious-looking dish this week, continuing on her asparagus kick - this time served with chicken and tahini, made from sesame seeds. Kalyn, no matter what you have to say about your drizzling skills, your photographs are always beautiful!

Sandeepa from Bong Mom's CookBook
New Jersey, USA
This post provides lots of great information about turmeric, a spice used a lot in Indian cooking and culture. Sandeepa tells us why turmeric is good for you, and offers a suggestion for how to prepare fresh turmeric.

Goan Style Fish Curry with Tamarind
Ros from Living to Eat!
London, England
Despite having to deal with some irritating flatmates, Ros successfully made a yummy-looking fish curry that gets taken to another level with the addition of distinctively sour-tasting tamarind paste.

Sweet Potato Soup
Angie from My Kitchen, My Laboratory
Angie turns the sweet potato, one of many root vegetables that she's been discovering, into a sweet soup that can be served warm or chilled as a refreshing dessert. This recipe is flexible and can be adapted to your own personal tastes.

Bear's Garlic
Helene from News from the Kitchen (Neues aus der Kuche)
Landau, Germany
This bilingual (English/German) post gives lots of information about bear's garlic, an herb that tastes like a cross between garlic and chives and is sometimes called ramp in the United States. It also gives a recipe for "amaranth crackers," which I am not familiar with but look great!

Emerald Soup
Katie from Thyme for Cooking
Vendee, France
Even though St. Patrick's Day isn't celebrated in France, Katie made a festive Irish-inspired green soup made from spinach - based on a recipe she got straight from a London chef. It's colorful, looks delicious, and is good for you!

"Quintessential" Roasted Vegetables

Sher from What Did You Eat?
Davis, California, USA
Sher's gorgeous step-by-step photos walk us through the making of this incredible-looking mix of roasted vegetables. The secret to equally cook all of the various vegetables is to parboil some of them first.

Red Lentil-Cauliflower Coconut Curry
Burcu from Almost Turkish Recipes
Bloomington, USA
This improvised curry turned out so well that it's going to become one of Burcu's standards. It's full of interesting spices and flavored with bay leaves.

Achiote Potatoes and Black-Eyed Peas
Sheela from Quick and Easy Recipes: Delectable Victuals
Portland, Oregon, USA
First-time WHB blogger Sheela gives us another post featuring annatto/achiote seeds, this time using achiote paste to create a yummy red rub for potatoes. Achiote is something I am going to have to try sometime soon!

Cauliflower with Crab and Balsamic Vinegar
Rinku from Cooking in Westchester
Westchester County, New York, USA
Rinku re-invented a scallop recipe to use up some crab she had on hand, with great results. Her substitution of white balsamic vinegar helped the dish keep a light, pretty color.

Genoa Figs with Buffalo Mozzarella "A La Pearl"
Haalo from Cook (Almost) Anything at Least Once
Melbourne, Australia
This post gives lots of information about my favorite fruit in the world, the fig, which is currently in season in Australia. The dish that Haalo creates is a stunning salad of fresh figs, pomegranate, and buffalo mozzarella - it almost looks too good to be true!

Falafel Sandwiches
Nupur from One Hot Stove
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Nupur shares her love of falafel and tries out a new favorite recipe. She gives some good tips on preparing the chickpeas and frying up the falafel balls. Her tahini sauce recipe is also a bit hit - overall a very delicious looking meal!

Yoghurt Bread with Caramelized Onion
Anh from Food Lover's Journey
Melbourne, Australia
Onion, the "humble ingredient," looks anything but humble in this yummy treat. The yogurt in the bread gives it a nice tangy flavor similar to sourdough, and the caramelised onions are lightly sweet. If you have any tips for chopping onions without crying, let Anh know!

Catfish Salad with Green Beans and Toasted Almonds
Christine from Christine Cooks
Trinidad, California, USA
A special herb blend just for fish makes this catfish salad special. Christine really brings out the celery flavor in the blend by adding some extra celery salt. She tops the dish off with a really great-looking champagne-raspberry vinaigrette.

Alice Arndt's Seasoning Savvy

Eve from In Mol Araan
Greenwich Village, New York, USA
Eve put together some especially neat excerpts from Alice Arndt's book about cooking with herbs and spices. There's some interesting tidbits on coconut, dill, rose water, and marigold.

Lithuanian Pickled Fish

Anna from Morsels and Musings
Sydney, Australia
Anna's been cooking her way around the world, and this week she was inspired by the cuisine of Lithuania. She brined some white fish in a sweet-sour sauce and used dried bay leaves to give the brine an intense flavor.

Chinese Cabbage and Cumin Sour Soup
Virginie from Absolutely Green
Nantes, France
This bilingual French & English post gives us a recipe for a quick, easy-to-make, unique soup inspired by Chinese, Belgian, and Mediterranean cuisines. This soup looks smooth and warming, good for a cold winter night (like we're still having here in Boston).

Potato Hummus with Beans and Lamp Chops
Ulrike from Kuchenlatein
Kronshagen, Germany
Ulrike makes good use of the rosemary growing her garden in this hearty dinner. Tahini sauce gives it an international flavor as well.

Braised Pork Chops with Leek
Pookah from What's Cooking in Carolina?
The Triangle, North Carolina, USA
Another blogger inspired by St. Patrick's Day this weekend created a green meal with "shamrock pasta" but focused her WHB entry on another meal, braised pork chops, featuring the always popular bay leaf.

Penne with Pumpkin and Ham
Astrid from Paulchen's FoodBlog?!
Vienna, Austria
After celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a lot of food, today Astrid created a yummy light lunch of pasta. It looks so good I want to reach into the picture and take a bite!

Brown Butter Soda Bread
Becky from Key Lime & Coconut
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Finally, I made a St. Patrick's Day inspired Irish soda bread with fresh rosemary and cracked black pepper. Enjoy it with some Guinness!

Thanks for visiting this week's WHB round up. Next week our host will be Kate from Thyme for Cooking, so you can send your entries to her at kate DOT zeller AT wanadoo DOT fr. Happy food blogging!


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Luck o' the Irish

I'm pretty psyched for St. Patty's Day on Saturday. I live in Boston, so it's one of the biggest, rowdiest, and funnest (ok, not a word) holidays of the year. Naturally, then, I decided to make my WHB post this week Irish-themed. Since beer with green food coloring doesn't really qualify as an "herb, plant, vegetable, or flower," I settled for a hearty Brown Butter Soda Bread chock full of fresh rosemary.

Soda bread is a popular kind of bread in Ireland and has been since 1840. (Don't you love useless Wikipedia trivia?) I used to think it was called "soda bread" because they put Coke into the dough, but I am a silly person, and not surprisingly, I was wrong. It's called "soda bread" because instead of yeast, baking soda is the leavening agent helping the bread to rise. The baking soda reacts with buttermilk in the dough to form tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide. Fun, and delicious!

A lot of people add raisins or nuts to their soda bread, but my recipe, from the February 2006 issue of Bon Appetit, incorporates fresh rosemary, making it WHB-eligible. Rosemary is one of my very favorite herbs, mostly because of its incredibly fragrant smell. In addition to its yummy scent and flavor, rosemary is actually a stimulant and mild analgesic that can be used to treat headaches and poor circulation. For all you fellow beauty product addicts, it's also believed to revitalize your hair and prevent dandruff if you massage rosemary oil into your scalp. I'm a little skeptical, but it could be worth a try?

Either way, this bread is easy and delish. I'll eat a slice on Saturday morning, toasted, with lots of butter... and of course, a big pint of Guinness.

Brown Butter Soda Bread
Makes 2 loaves
  • 1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3-1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 T. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. ground black pepper, plus more for topping
  • 1-3/4 c. buttermilk
  • 1 egg white, beaten to blend
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375F. Stir butter in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until melted and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir flour, oats, sugar, rosemary, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in large bowl to blend. Pour buttermilk and melted browned butter over flour mixture; stir with fork until flour mixture is moistened. Turn dough out onto floured work surface. Knead gently until dough comes together, about 7 turns. Divide in half. Shape each half into ball; flatten each into 6-inch round. Place rounds on ungreased baking sheet, spacing 5 inches apart. Brush tops with beaten egg white. Sprinkle lightly with ground black pepper. Using small sharp knife, cut 1/2-inch-deep X in top of each dough round. Bake breads until deep golden brown and tested inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool breads on rack at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, which I'm hosting this week! Get me your entries by Sunday, 3pm Utah time (5pm for us East Coast-ers). Send them over to me at rhammer AT law DOT harvard DOT edu.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Getting My Groove Back

Like I mentioned in my last post, it's been a while since I've done the whole food blogging thing. Honestly, I haven't been doing much cooking at all. In the post-breakup weeks I indulged myself in ordering junk food and letting my friends feed me. Which was great, and what I needed, really, but now I'm finding out that I'm a bit rusty in the kitchen. Oops.

Last night I decided to cook myself an honest-to-goodness meal, and while it started out a little rocky, in the end I was pleased with myself. I didn't want to get too ambitious, so I picked a Rachael Ray recipe: Honey Chicken with Snow Pea Rice. Yeah, I hate Rachael Ray, but I felt like a 30 minute meal was about all I could handle. Also, I'd been craving Chinese food after watching an Asian-themed episode of the Phantom Gourmet. I figured this would hit the spot.

Well, I started off on the wrong foot as I put too much oil into the rice and then burned it by turning the heat up too high. Not my finest culinary moment. But I somehow managed to get my mojo back, and by the time the meal was finished (more than 30 minutes later, I have to admit) I was pretty darn happy. Small accomplishments, people... sometimes that's all you need.

Honey Chicken with Snow Pea Rice
Serves 4
  • 3 T vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 c. long-grain rice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine (I used pinot grigio)
  • 4-1/2 c. chicken stock, divided
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 large handfuls snow peas, thinly sliced across the width
  • 2 lb. chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 T honey
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 5 scallions, thinly sliced
Heat a medium saucepan or pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 T of the vegetable oil and the butter to the pot. Once the butter melts, add the rice, season with salt and pepper, and lightly brown the rice for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and allow it to evaporate entirely, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 3 cups of the chicken stock and the lemon zest to the rice. Bring the liquid to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat. Cook the rice for 18 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Once the rice only has about 3 more minutes of cook time, remove the lid and add the sliced snow peas. Don't stir the rice; just add the snow peas on top and put the lid on. The steam will lightly cook the snow peas. Once cooked, fluff the rice and with a fork and stir in the snow peas. They should still have some crunch to them.

While the rice is cooking, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the remaining 2 T of vegetable oil. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper, and brown for about 3 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, onions, garlic, ginger, and honey. Stir frequently and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the onions are tender. Add the remaining 1-1/2 c. of chicken stock to the pan and bring to a simmer. Once at a simmer, combine the cornstarch with a splash of water, and mix to create a thin paste. Add the cornstarch mixture to the simmer chicken, mix thoroughly, and continue to cook for 2 minutes, or until the liquid is thickened. Add the sliced scallions and the lemon juice to the chicken and stir to combine. Serve the honey chicken over the snow pea rice.

Recipe from
Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Just an Update

Some of you have probably noticed that I haven't blogged in a couple of months. Without going into too much detail, I just wanted to give a quick explanation why. My boyfriend of two years and I split up in late January and it's been kind of a rough patch, but things are finally settling back down into normal and I am just now starting to get back into cooking again. I'm going to start blogging again too this week, probably tonight or tomorrow, and of course I'll be hosting Weekend Herb Blogging this weekend for the very first time! A pretty good way to get back into the swing of things, I do believe. So no worries, keylime & coconut is going to be back up and running before you know it. Can't wait to cook with you all again! :)