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Tag: Shrimp

Paleo Takeout {Book Review + Recipe, Plus a Giveaway!}

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I’ve been in a no-cooking rut lately … in all fairness life has been topsy turvy for over a year and especially this summer, where I have been travelling in Europe, and unfortunately it wasn’t for leisure.  During this time I have been playing musical kitchens (and musical countries), and at some points have had no kitchen at all … I’m so eager to be reunited with my kitchen appliances, gadgets and having the freedom to experiment again … but in the meantime, and to use the popular vernacular, I’ve fallen off of the Paleo bandwagon so many times, I have lost count…and probably have a few bruises as proof (for example, my hair has seen much healthier days).

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I’ve eaten bread. Because eating a sandwich has never been my thing but convenience got the better of me. Mea Culpa. Over the summer, I’ve eaten wheat-flour-coated fried seafood in Spain. I actually didn’t have a beer in Germany, but ate a breaded schnitzel. (But these are lesser evils as I was travelling. And that’s a valid excuse.) Mea Culpa. Returning to the US though has thrown me overboard: I’ve engaged in the art of rummaging through kitchen drawers seeking the perfect takeout menu. And worst of all, I’ve ordered and eaten the stuff. And not just once. A few times. Yes. And I had a kitchen, so there was no excuse. Except that takeout is so easy. So convenient … I’ve had pizza, filled with gluten and possibly a myriad of other things I generally avoid. I’ve eaten Chinese takeout (it’s better not to even go there). And Sushi takeout. Yes, I confess with remorse. But like I said, it was easy. It was convenient. And I couldn’t resist. Mea Culpa. I could keep ‘fessing up… but the important thing to take from the lesson that I have learned is that my stomach and digestive system can no longer take all the “junk”, no matter how irresistible the food may be or how lazy I am feeling or how convenient it may seem. I will regret for hours the few moments of pleasure these foods (and experiences) bring me.

Therefore, I must renounce the temptation of convenience in the name of trying to fuel my creative juices to encourage my return to a stable Paleo lifestyle and improved health. The problem is the juices are not really flowing and with a small kitchen, no appliances beyond a coffee maker and a toaster, I’ve been totally uninspired until this past week. The culprit source of inspiration is none other than takeout food!

carnitasWhat? How can this be? …

A couple of weeks ago, Russ Crandall offered his new cookbook Paleo Takeout: Restaurant Favorites Without the Junk for review and I jumped on the opportunity. I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into, but I did have a feeling that disappointed I would not be … what I didn’t know was how pleasantly surprised I would be and just what a great inspiration this book truly is! The creative juices are back and with a vengeance!

I have followed Russ, aka The Domestic Man, on Instagram for a couple of years now. I’m not sure how I discovered him, probably through one of the other Paleo/Primal big names, such as Bill and Hayley Staley from Primal Palate or maybe the Paleo Parents or Nom Nom Paleo…the point is that I have always found Russ’ approach to Paleo intriguing – Russ eats white rice; and I believe you will not find a single recipe for a dessert on his blog and definitely there are none in this cookbook! That to me is pretty awesome. (Ironically, I have not been following his blog regularly; something that now I’ve already changed by subscribing to the email list.) Russ is a doyen in his own right and a wealth of information and ideas! He is also what I would call a “common sense eater”.

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I have been Paleo/Primal since the end of 2012; and since then, I’ve learned, altered my template, and have seen a number of changes in the dogma (for example, white potatoes were still vilified when I started and are now widely accepted as a whole food and safe starch). What I love about Russ’ perspective is that it is not pigeonholed in strict theories. It’s an approach personally adapted to fit his health and lifestyle needs and those of his family; and it’s constantly evolving as he’s learning. Russ brings together in his “common sense” approach all of these concepts: Paleo/Primal, The Perfect Health Diet, Weston A. Price Foundation principles, A Whole Foods Approach and JERF – Just Eat Real Foods. As I mentioned, he and his family regularly eat white rice for example and include healthy dairy products. You can learn more about Russ and his philosophy here.

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He goes a step further with a formula he has created called “The Four Corners Plate”. This is described on his website and in Paleo Takeout and is a useful template for those starting off in this healthy and nutritious diet/lifestyle.

Paleo Takeout is Russ’ second cookbook (the first is Ancestral Table) and with which he just made the New York Times Bestseller list! (Congratulations Russ!) Russ’ story is amazing, having suffered a stroke at age 24, and fully recovering and then finding a healing path for his autoimmune condition through the Paleo diet. His blog is full of delicious recipes and health tips, presented in an elegant, no-nonsense fashion with an historical and international approach which makes reading it a pleasure and a learning experience.

And Paleo Takeout: Restaurant Favorites Without the Junk is a cookbook you will want to get now and keep forever! It’s a cookbook every respectable home cook must have. I kid you not. I’m not using a marketing gimmick. I truly and really mean it. It doesn’t matter if you are Paleo or not. This book is amazing. You’re going to want to make every single recipe out of it, and on top of that you’re going to want to experiment with your own ideas (kind of like I did below in the picture).

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Paleo Takeout is like a condensed and very easy to understand cooking course in Asian dishes and other extras. Included are tutorials on how to wrap Asian rolls, how to bread meats and use different batters for frying (all healthy and Paleo-friendly), how to make crispy fried chicken, and how to make Asian meatballs (beef, chicken, pork and fish too!). Essential techniques such as stir-frying, grilling and thickening sauces with starch slurry are explained and demystified. And there are recipes for pizza dough, flatbread and hamburger buns!

Most of the ingredients are readily available in most larger-metropolis supermarkets; and the harder to find ones (such as possibly the Chinese cooking wine, mirin or rice vinegar) can always be ordered on Amazon or via Thrive Market if you’re a member; or if you have access to a local Asian market, I’m sure you can find them there. Once you stock up on the basics, you will not be able to put this book down. Maybe even before stocking up, you’ll experiment with the things you do have on hand inspired by Russ’ scrumptious recipes, like I did last week when I opened the book to page 59 and saw the picture of Chow Mein. I had completely different vegetables in the fridge, but was so determined to eat Chow Mein that night (just like takeout), that I adapted it as you can see on my Instagram feed.

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All the recipes have easy to follow instructions, many of which are accompanied by suggestions for experimenting with more vegetables and different ingredients, encouraging the home chef to expand his/her knowledge and explore away, taking home cooking of our favourite and traditional takeout staples to another level!

And if you’re thinking you’re going to be stuck in the kitchen for hours prepping and cooking, think again! What makes Paleo Takeout even more amazing and a must-have cookbook is that the majority of the recipes can be made in record time! Forty-one (41) of the recipes can be enjoyed “Fridge to Face” in 30 minutes! Another 30+ recipes take between 30-60 minutes to throw together. The marinated dishes, although recommended to plan ahead for more intense flavours, can actually be enjoyed in less time. And lastly, there are about 40 recipes which you can make in batches, freeze and then quickly reheat for instant and very convenient satisfaction! You can’t beat that. Not even with real takeout! And remember, you’ll be cooking with wholesome ingredients, “giving you all the gratification and none of the regret”!

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At the back of the cookbook is the pictorial recipe index, which is captivating and reads like a Asian/American takeout menu that has me salivating for all of the dishes since I opened the book. It is here, in the index, where I am incited to discover the essence of this cookbook and where I find myself …

… transported to Chinatown in NYC about to order a bowl of Singapore Noodles. Or should I first start with a bowl of Hot & Sour Soup? I’m always intrigued by how the flavours are such a contrast between the slightly sour notes and the spiciness. And I rather would like something warm. There’s Egg Drop Soup. Egg Foo Young. General Tso’s Chicken. An American favourite. Moo Goo Gai Pan. Moo Shu Pork …

I flip to the next pages. OMG! Wait. Could it be that I’m back in Hanoi about to eat Pho and bite into a fresh and fragrantly sultry Summer Roll? My eyes are starting to get bigger than my stomach…make that pho, summer rolls and an exotic Green Papaya Salad. Yes, definitely. I’ve even made that one at home after my trip to Vietnam a few years ago. I know that will not disappoint.

Pad Thai. That’s it. I’m having that. I love pad thai. Can you tell I have a penchant for sweet, salty and sour tang?

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My eyes are quick though. I am back in Barnes (my neighbourhood of London) and about to order Chicken Tikka Masala from the little Indian restaurant down the street from my flat.  Or maybe I’ll have the Lamb Vindaloo. There’s Kare Kare too.

No… stop, there’s Pancit and Lumpia! I haven’t had those in ages! I used to eat them regularly when I was growing up in Spain and had what seemed like a gazillion Filipino friends. I remember learning how to wrap the rolls and selling the lumpia for our senior year fundraisers.

Alas! The takeout menu pages continue. Aren’t all takeout menus like being presented with a bunch of snippets of your favourite novels? There are more mouth-watering dishes. I can’t decide if I want to be American tonight. A bunch of crispy and juicy Fried Chicken in a Basket would be so delicious right now. Or maybe I could go for a pizza with extra garlic and a bunch of cool toppings like we get in Mystic… with this pizza I know I wouldn’t have a stomach ache afterward. Maybe I’ll have a Burger Party for two instead. And indulge in some Tzatziki Sauce to go with my burgers.

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No that’s for another occasion. I’m doing Mexican tonight. The succulent cilantro-topped Pork Carnitas with a flatbread that looks just like soft corn tortilla shells look divine. Ummm…but I think I saw something a couple of pages back that was more irresistible.

I flip backwards because that’s what I always do with a menu, especially a takeout one. I read through it once and then I go back through it again. I must make sure that I get the best meal. There’s so much from which to choose… and I’m not sure what tickles my fancy today, right now, because takeout is like that: I can have whatever I want. And tomorrow I can pick and choose something new, exotic and different. And I’m losing patience with myself as I’m getting hungry. And everything is enticing.

Paleo Takeout is like no other takeout though. What makes it unique is that you know the ingredients of this takeout are not going to upset your tummy. You won’t have heartburn. You can eat gluten-, chemical- and guilt-free. And your health will thank you for it….

I’ve never been to Japan or Korea. Sure, I eat sushi all the time. I’ve made kimchi. But there are more intriguing dishes on this menu in this cookbook. The Haemul Pajeon or Korean Seafood Scallion Pancake looks beautiful. The ingredients sound fascinating together. There’s Dashi too. Ramen and Miso. Gyudon and something called Okonomiyaki! Yes, let’s grab the chopsticks Russ the publishing house so graciously included and take a bite … but I have to go back to the first page again. There was something there that is calling me …

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I just landed on Gerrard Street and the neighbouring blocks. London’s Chinatown is boisterous and crowded, yet elegant and much cleaner than its NYC counterpart. Here one can find a range of very authentic Chinese, Korean and Thai food. I see myself walking toward the red arches and then my eyes stop at some crispy Spring Rolls. I love spring rolls. And there’s the Chow Mein that inspired my dinner last week. And there’s Vegetables in White Sauce. Honey Sesame Chicken. Szechuan Beef and Bam Bam Shrimp. Love that name. Oh my! There’s more…

Shrimp with Lobster Sauce. Now that I have never tried. “They say” it’s a Chinese-American dish and a takeout favourite. Lobster sauce. Are there lobster pieces in that? Or maybe some sort of lobster seasoning? Chinese soups and sauces are mysterious to me. How can there possibly be such sophisticated combinations of flavours in those sauces that are almost translucent yet so precisely thickened? … I’m having that. I could never replicate that at home, right? That makes it more tantalising.

But wait! I’m not on Gerrard Street. And I’m actually privy to the secret behind the sauce enigma. Shhh… you can be too… and you can make it tonight instead of having takeout! And you can’t beat the timing on this one. Twenty minutes from fridge to fork (and no lobster required)!

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Russ is letting me share with you a taste of what you can find in this amazing cookbook. Below you can find the recipe for Shrimp with Lobster sauce, which we’ve enjoyed now a couple of times and I’m sure you will too.

But wait, it gets better. You can be the proud owner of your own Paleo Takeout: Restaurant Favorites Without the Junk by entering my very first giveaway. However as there will only be one lucky winner, I would urge you to buy this cookbook as it will become a reference in your kitchen and you will never, ever want to rummage through your drawers again in search for a takeout menu, much less order from one!

Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

“To be honest, I had never heard of this dish until my family moved to the East Coast in 2008. I first ordered it out of curiosity; what the heck is lobster sauce, and why are they selling it for so cheap? … Turns out that lobster is a Cantonese-inspired dish made with broth and eggs, similar to other sauces that are poured over lobster dishes (there’s the connection!).”

~ Russ Crandall, The Domestic Man

Ingredients, for 4. Preparation Time: 10 minutes. Cooking Time: 10 minutes.

For the Slurry:

  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot starch (tapioca starch can also work)
  • 2 tablespoons cold water

For the Sauce:

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup Chinese cooking wine
  • 2 teaspoons tamari
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 pounds (c. 1 kilo) raw shrimp, peeled and cut in half
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, rinsed in cool water and drained
  • 3 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 green onions, sliced

Method

Stir together the arrowroot starch and cold water to create a slurry, then set aside.

In a stockpot, combine the sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once the sauce is simmering, add half of the arrowroot starch slurry and stir until thickened, about 1 minute, adding more slurry if needed. Add the shrimp, carrots, peas and mushrooms, return to a simmer, and simmer until the shrimp are just pink, about 1 minute.

Slowly pour the eggs though a fork into the sauce. Whisk gently with a fork to prevent the eggs from clumping, then allow to cook through, about 30 seconds. Stir in the green onions and serve.

Note: Dried shiitake mushrooms can be used in this dish; just soak them in warm water for 30 minutes before slicing.

Note from The Saffron Girl: I don’t like peas and I didn’t have shiitake mushrooms available. Instead, I used some leftover fresh cabbage that I had, slicing it julienne style and thinly sliced some brown button mushrooms. Because the cabbage is a bit tougher than the peas, I first allowed it to cook in the sauce’s liquid ingredients until almost tender (about 7 minutes). I then added the slurry and continued with Russ’ instructions. Also, I didn’t have Chinese cooking wine, and instead used half the amount stated in the recipe of regular (light) red cooking wine; hence the slightly darker colour. To compensate for the change of flavours, I added a bit more tamari than Russ calls for. 

This dish is really tasty and versatile. I used the leftovers as a sauce over some pork chops, as you can see in one of the pictures above. Delicious!

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G I V E A W A Y

To win your copy of Paleo Takeout: Restaurant Favorites Without the Junk, please follow these instructions:

  1. Sign up to receive The Saffron Girl newsletter (Email subscription).
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Please use Rafflecopter to log your entries and unlock extra bonus entries!

A Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: No purchase is necessary to win. This giveaway is open to everyone worldwide. However, it is void where prohibited by law. There are 3 mandatory entries and 4 optional/bonus entry opportunities. The giveaway will be open from Thursday, 3 September 12:00am until Saturday, 19 September 12:00am. 

A winner will be chosen randomly through Rafflecopter. I will announce the lucky winner on Monday, 21 September. The winner will have 48 hours to contact me with his/her full name, complete postal address and phone number (please include the country code). Please make sure to check your spam folder in case the email should go there. The email will be coming from thesaffrongirl [at] gmail.com. Should the winner not respond within this timeframe, a new winner will be chosen at random. The winner’s contact information will be forwarded to Victory Belt Publishing to send out the prize. The Saffron Girl is not responsible for lost, stolen or misplaced prize.

Good luck!

Stuffed Avocado with Garlic Shrimp

During our travels this summer, we spent some time in The Netherlands; and one evening, we ate at a lovely restaurant in Lisse, near the beach. If you’ve ever eaten out in The Netherlands, you know that evening is prime time and usually quite expensive. On the up side, the food is generally fresh and delicious.

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And as usually happens with me, since I want to try everything that sounds intriguing or new, my eyes are bigger than my stomach… I ended up ordering an avocado appetiser and a full entree. Fortunately, the fish entree was normal Dutch portions, or else I would’ve had to leave it there or exploded. 😉

The appetiser was an avocado stuffed with shrimp and other ingredients, which I cannot recall. What I do know is that it was rather creamy. In Spain, a halved avocado stuffed with shrimp and/or ensaladilla is tapa that is very typical in Granada, where bars give you a free tapa with a paid drink. I can’t recall the last time I had a stuffed avocado, so the appetiser in Lisse tasted sublimely divine!

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In recreating this, I thought I would first steam the shrimp and use mayonnaise, to achieve the creaminess…but after messing up a batch of mayonnaise*, I changed my mind.

(*Mayonnaise is not that difficult to make. But my blender broke a couple of months ago, and instead of replacing it, we purchased a food processor that has a blender as well. However, this blender doesn’t work for making mayonnaise. I’ll have to resort to my mini-pimer -immersion blender- from now on. But today, I was too lazy to keep trying.)

Back to the avocado: Sometimes it’s actually good that things don’t work out. If they had, I wouldn’t have enjoyed this delicious combination.

How I came up with the idea? Simple. I love garlic shrimp, and that mixed with the natural creaminess of avocado is, for me,  just a perfect match.

You can use this recipe as an appetiser for 2 persons or a meal for one. I had the whole avocado as lunch… talk about ingesting a lot of good, healthy fats! 😉

Stuffed Avocado with Garlic Shrimp
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1-2
Serves 1 as a meal, or 2 as an appetiser
Ingredients
  • 1 whole medium avocado
  • about 2 cups medium to large shrimp, raw or uncooked frozen (defrost prior to cooking)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • coarse sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
  • chili powder, optional
Instructions
  1. Half the avocado and take the pit out.
  2. Scrap out most of the meat, leaving a very thin layer to hold up the shell better. Set aside.
  3. Chop up the meat into squares and place in a bowl. With your hands, squish the squares a little bit, to crush some but so that most keep their shape. Set aside.
  4. In a pan, place about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the minced garlic and the shrimp.
  5. Add a dash of coarse sea salt, and over low heat, cook just until the shrimp turn pink. Do not overcook, or they’ll be dry and hard.
  6. Pour the shrimp with garlic and olive oil into the bowl with the avocado pieces.
  7. Add some chopped parsley or cilantro and mix well. (If you want to incorporate some chili powder for extra flavour, do so now before mixing.)
  8. Spoon the mixture into the avocado shells, sprinkle with some freshly ground pepper, and garnish with additional parsley/cilantro if desired.
  9. Serve immediately.
  10. (I added a leftover, hardboiled quail egg as garnish, but it’s not essential to the recipe, of course.)

 

Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp), Spanish Style

The traditional way to have this dish is in individual oven proof clay dishes. However, I don’t have any at home. I must remember to buy them on my next trip to Spain.

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You can however, of course make this on the stovetop in a regular frying/saucepan, like I did today.

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Gambas al Ajillo is a dish, typical from the region of Andalucia (Southern Spain) but that is widely eaten in other areas of the country, as well. It’s easy, quick to make and delicious. You only need five ingredients: shrimp, olive oil, garlic, and guindillas (cayenne peppers), and some sea salt.

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Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp), Spanish Style
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
Serves 2-3
Ingredients
  • 1 kilo medium to small shrimp, peeled (with tail on is ok)
  • 1 large head garlic, cut the cloves in lengthwise slices
  • 3-4 guindillas (dried cayenne peppers, more or less to taste, of course), sliced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • coarse sea salt, to taste
  • a bunch of parsley or cilantro, chopped (I prefer cilantro)
Instructions
  1. In a large frying pan, heat up the oil over low heat with the garlic and guindillas.
  2. Sauté until the garlic is toasted and starting to change colour, but do not burn or they will go sour.
  3. Add the shrimp and sea salt.
  4. Turn up the heat to medium and sauté the shrimp until they are done. I like mine about 1 minute past turning pink. Longer makes them hard and dry.
  5. Drizzle with chopped cilantro or parsley and serve immediately.
  6. If you prefer to make them in individual bowls:
  7. Follow all the steps, but do not cook the shrimp in the pan. Sauté them about a minute, then pour them into individual oven proof dishes.
  8. Bake on the top rack at 200C (400F) just until they turn pink. Stir if necessary.
  9. Remove from oven, sprinkle with the cilantro and serve immediately with another plate underneath. (This is the traditional way to have gambas al ajillo in Spain, in individual pottery dishes.)

 

Mango Chili Coconut Shrimp

This past Sunday was actually splendid in London. It was sunny and perfect Spring weather with temperatures reaching 17C. Londoners, or Brits for that matter, immediately start to wear flip flops and short sleeves and act like it’s Summer, something that still startles me somewhat, especially since 17C is still Winter weather in the south of Spain! But it doesn’t seem to get too much warmer on the British Isles, so we have to take what we get and enjoy the most of it, especially the rare sun rays!

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So, we spent a lot of time outdoors on Sunday soaking up as much Vitamin D as we could. And with no plans and no real thought about lunch, I found myself needing to make something quickly before we could head back outside again…

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This dish is so easy to make, it’s ridiculous to say… but it’s so delectable that it’s actually post worthy and perfect for Spring or Summer!

Bon Appétit!

Mango Chili Coconut Shrimp
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 3-4
3-4
Ingredients
  • 1/2 kilo (1 lb) peeled and deveined shrimp, raw or frozen (if frozen, thaw out first)
  • 1 medium onion, cut julienne style or chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium mango, diced
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder (or more, to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage or 3-4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • coarse sea salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • a few tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, for garnish and flavour
  • a squeese of lime juice, if desired
Instructions
  1. Over low to medium heat, melt the coconut oil in a frying pan.
  2. Add the onion and cook until softened.
  3. Add the garlic and shrimp and cook until the shrimp are pink, but not overdone.
  4. Add the sage, chili powder and mix well.
  5. Add the mango pieces and sauté a bit to warm up the mango.
  6. Add the desiccated coconut and mix well.
  7. Remove from heat and serve.
  8. Garnish with cilantro and a squeese of lime juice, if desired.
  9. Serve with your favourite rice or cauliflower “rice”.

Cassava & Plantain (or Bananas) Mofongo with Pollo Encebollado

I made this dish a couple of weeks ago and although it was “to die for”, I took horrible and unappetising pictures*… so I just had to repeat it of course!  Well, and the second and most important reason is that it’s really delicious. 😉

The first time I made it with regular sweet bananas, the kind you eat as fruit. I fried them just like you do with the plantains and mixed it with the cooked cassava root. The result was very tasty, slightly sweet and a great combination with the pork back rashers/bacon. So, if you don’t have plantains on hand, definitely try this with regular bananas.

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With the plantains, the flavour will depend on whether you’re using the “platano verde” (less ripe) or the “maduro” (ripe and sweeter). I happen to have one of each!

Mofongo is a traditional dish in Puerto Rico and usually served with a tomato-based sauce with chicken, shrimp or pulled pork. But the sauce and toppings you use are entirely up to you and your palate. I am not a big fan of tomato-based sauces, so I made a typical Spanish recipe, called Pollo Encebollado, which is basically chicken with onions. It’s super easy to make and always comes out delicious.

I served the mofongo with creamed spinach, for the recipe please click on the link.

Cassava & Plantain Mofongo with Pollo Encebollado
Recipe Type: Easy
Cuisine: Latin American, Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 large cassava, peeled (about 300g), cut into chunks
  • 2 large plantains (or if you don’t have them, 3 regular bananas can also be substituted – it makes the dish sweeter), cut into thick slices
  • 4 cloves garlic, halved
  • 2 strips of pork back rashers or bacon, diced
  • 3 large chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces (you can also use thighs/legs meat for juicier results)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 large golden onions
  • 3 small red onions
  • 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric/curcuma
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup filtered water
Instructions
  1. For the mofongo: Cook the pork rashers or bacon in a fry pan. Set aside.
  2. Peel and cut the cassava into slices. You can either cook it in water until tender or fry it. Drain and set aside.
  3. Fry the plantains or bananas in coconut or olive oil. Drain and set aside.
  4. In a mortar or large bowl, with a pestle, ground the 4 cloves of garlic.
  5. Add the cassava and bananas and ground everything until you form a paste. You may have to do this in step, if you have a small mortar.
  6. Add the pork rashers or bacon bits. Mix well.
  7. Place on serving plates, by shaping the mofongo into a “bowl”. I made mine by placing it inside a round cookie form and later making an indentation in the center.
  8. For the “onion chicken” or pollo encebollado:
  9. In a deep sauce pan or wok, heat the olive oil with the chicken.
  10. Cook until the chicken is slightly brown on all sides.
  11. Add the onions and turmeric and cook about 5 minutes, until the onions begin to get tender.
  12. Add the water and wine and season to taste.
  13. Cook for 20-25 minutes on low heat and until the sauce thickens. Add more water if necessary, should the sauce become too thick.
  14. Serve over the mofongo “bowls” and enjoy!

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*I have to admit that I’m posting this time around anyway, although I also don’t think the pictures are that great. I really must start using my better camara and learning more about styling and food photography!

Garlic Butter Shrimp & Mushrooms with Courgette Pasta

While in Vietnam, I took a cooking course in Hanoi and used this amazingly rustic kitchen tool. I was even luckier when our instructor/chef allowed me to take one home with me. It’s slightly dangerous looking (thankfully I had the Tetanus vaccination just before the trip) and can be made with a piece of wood and a can of soda actually. Anyway, we made a divine green papaya salad, which I intend to make soon, as soon as my order of Vietnamese food stuff arrives. But in the meantime, I’ve played around with the tool to make spaghetti out of courgettes or zucchini.

I’ve seen a number of gluten-free and Paleo sites using this type of “pasta” as a substitution for real pasta dishes and I thought I’d give it a try too. I have to say, they are amazing, better than wheat or regular pasta!

The dish today is a variation of an appetiser that I’ve made for one Christmas that my parents visited us in Germany. My father couldn’t stop raving about it…so I thought I’d make something similar with which to accompany the “pasta”.

 

GARLIC BUTTER SHRIMP & MUSHROOMS WITH COURGETTE PASTA

Ingredients, for 2

  • 4 courgettes/zucchini
  • 6 cloves of garlic (adjust according to your taste, however), minced
  • 1/2 kilo of raw shrimp, shelled, rinsed and pat dry
  • 6 medium brown mushrooms, sliced
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • juice of 1 1/2 lemons
  • fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese

Process

Rinse the courgettes and peel. With a special vegetable slicer (or if you are lucky to have one of the same tools I have), create noodles out of the vegetables. Set aside. Place a pot with water and a pinch of salt on the stove over  high heat and bring to boil.

In the meantime, in a saucepan or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. When both are hot, add the garlic and saute 3 minutes, stirring frequently so that the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the shrimp and cook at medium heat until they start to turn pink. Add the mushrooms and cook until shrimp are done, about 1-2 minutes (do not overcook, or the shrimp will be hard and dry). Add sea salt and pepper, to taste. Squirt lemon juice over and stir. Remove from heat.

When the water is at boiling point, add the courgette pasta and cook about 3 minutes. Do not cook longer or you’ll end up with a vegetable mush instead of the stringy pasta shape desired. You also want the vegetable to be slightly al-dente.

To serve: place the pasta on the plate and spoon the garlic shrimp and mushrooms with sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and cilantro. And it’s ready to eat!

 

 

Ceviche

I literally cried, sneezed and coughed my way through making this dish. The sneezing and coughing started when I cut up the peppers (and they were only “mild”) and the crying took place with the chopping up of the onion. Onions always do this to me. I used to get away with not crying when I have my contacts on; but lately not even the contacts protect me from a bout of tears…

My mother learned how to make ceviche, when we lived in Panama. And this dish, which is traditional in a number of Latin American countries, is a favourite at home with my father and now my husband. In fact, my husband always requests ceviche when we are visiting my parents.

Ceviche can be made with shrimp, scallops or fish (the one we use the most and which provides the best results is sea bass). But whatever seafood you do use, make sure it’s very fresh and of course, raw. The citrus juices do the “cooking”.

CEVICHE DE GAMBAS (SHRIMP CEVICHE) 

Ingredients:

  • 400g fresh, raw shrimp
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeeze lime juice
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 small green chili pepper (mine, as said, were mild; however, you can substitute for poblano or jalapeno if you want a bit more “punch” in the ceviche), finely chopped
  • 1 small red chili pepper, finely chopped
  • lime wedges, for serving
  • tortilla chips

Process:

In a glass or ceramic bowl, combine all of the ingredients, except the shrimp and lime wedges. Add the shrimp and toss well to coat. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight, until the shrimp are opaque and have absorbed the flavours of the marinade. The citrus, salt and the peppers actually “cook” or macerate the shrimp. (I left mine overnight in the fridge.)

Serve cold with tortilla chips and lime wedges.

Welcome with Fideua

Wow! London is so inviting when the sun shines and it’s warm out. I went out for a walk to take advantage of this rarity, in a city, which is typically grey and wet. And on the walk, I made the decision to create this blog to share my experiences, discoveries and photographs of my travels and to have a place to compile recipes, which I find in my search and passion for new foods and challenges.
Gorgeous sunshine during my walk today.


I am half-Spanish, half-American and grew up in the south of Spain. I’ve travelled around the world since the prime age of 3 months…and hope to never stop discovering new places and revisiting old ones! 

Now, I live in London with my husband, and we moved here about 6 months ago. Adjusting to the weather has been a challenge, although we were relocated from Germany, which does not necessarily have 360 days under the sun, as Spain proclaims. But London has a lot to offer otherwise and it’s an amazing place to explore.

Yet, every once in a while, there is a need to get away and soak up some Vitamin D au naturel, in Spain for example.


During my recent visit to Sevilla, not only did I procure a healthy tan, but also enjoyed a number of my favourite dishes. One of them is a typical dish from Valencia, called Fideua, which my aunt made for me.

Valencia is the region of Spain, south of Catalonia, on the Mediterranean coast. It’s famous for producing Valencia oranges, Marcona almonds, rice, and has an extensive repertoire of seafood dishes; one of the most famous is the paella.

The Fideua is similar to the paella, but is made with noodles instead of rice.


Fideua de Gandia, adapted from Evarist Miralles, Best Chef Spain 2011. 

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 400 g of Fideua noodles (number 3 in Spain) 
  • 250 g of monkfish, clean and cut up in chunks
  • 12 large shrimp, with skin and heads
  • 1 teaspoon of pimenton (or paprika)
  • 1 calamar or sepia (squid), cleaned and cut up in slices and pieces
  • 2-3 large spoonfuls of tomato sauce with chunks or homemade tomato sauce
  • “majada de ajo”: 2-3 cloves of garlic and parsley, crushed with a mortar and pestle
  • 1 litre of fish broth*
  • 1/2 cup of white cooking wine
  • sea salt to taste
Fish broth: in a pot, bring to boil and simmer, the following ingredients: 2-2.5 litres of water, one whole fish (scaled and clean), one large onion, 2 carrots (cut into large pieces), and 2 celery sticks. Cook for about 30 minutes, and leave to rest for about 20 minutes, so the flavours integrate. 

Process
In a large skillet or paella pan (for 6 persons), heat the olive oil, enough to cover about half of the bottom of the pan. Once the olive oil is warm, add a few pinches of sea salt and stir. Add the shrimp and saute, enough for the shrimp to turn pink. Remove the shrimp from the pan. 

In the same oil, saute the monkfish and remove from pan. Again in the same oil, saute the calamar/sepia. Add the pimenton to the calamar, frying just a bit and moving both the calamar and pimenton together. Do not over-fry the pimenton, or it will turn sour. Add the tomato sauce and stir well. Then add a few spoonfuls of the majada and 1/2 cup of white wine. Cook for 1-2 minutes. 

Add the fideua noodles, stir and cook about 1 minute. Add the fish broth (generally 1.5 times of broth per unit of noodles). The broth should be thin and clear, for a better fideua. Cook 5-7 minutes. 

Place the monkfish and shrimp on top of the noodles and cook an additional 4 minutes, or until the pasta is “al dente”. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

And to really bring out the flavours of the seafood in this dish, we generally pair it with a chilled Albariño, the Spanish white wine from Galicia, in northeastern Spain. Buen provecho!


Note: In the version pictured, as I didn’t have monkfish or calamar at home, I used a small whiting and clams instead. I used the fish head and the clams to make the broth, removing the clams as they opened, to not overcook. I sauteed the whiting, in large chunks, just as the recipes says to do with the monkfish. Then added the fish, with the clams, at the same time as the shrimp. 

As you can see, you can substitute a variety of seafood, depending on your taste and what you may have available in your kitchen. I tend to do that a lot, so I don’t have to go out shopping at the last minute. 😉
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