Friday, January 31, 2014

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

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For those of you out there who shudder at the amount of calories that will be consumed this Sunday at Super Bowl parties all over the nation, here's a healthy and fun alternative.  It may not fly with the "real men don't eat quiche" crowd but it will with those of us who are more riske in our tastes.

I must confess I was not a hummus lover for many years until one day one of my daughter's friends, a man, brought us some homemade pita chips and a container of the Sabra Roasted Red Pepper hummus.  I couldn't stop eating it and I couldn't stop buying it until I got myself sick of it.  So I gave it a rest and went instead after the pine nut hummus.  Not as addictive, but good.
Recently I saw this recipe and wondered what a real roasted red pepper hummus would taste like if it were made from scratch.  Would it be as good as the one I first tried and was addicted to or would it be like trying to make M&Ms at home?  My adventurous spirit eventually took over, if only for the chance of sharing my thoughts on this blog.  It was slightly different, but really, really good.  I must confess that I used ready made roasted peppers.  Next time around I will roast a fresh red pepper but I like to make them on the grill and it's too dammed cold.  Plus I was lazy.

If you are going to a Super Bowl party this weekend, bring some of this with pita bread or chips and an assortment of raw vegetables.  Not only will you be different, it will be most appreciated.  Let someone else bring the Buffalo Wild Wings! 

For more traditional menus and recipes for Super Bowl parties that I have posted in the past go here.

By the way, children, for some reason, love hummus  (way to go little people!).  It is one of the few healthy foods my 3 year old grandson will eat although, much to my surprise,  I have seen him pop cucumber slices in his mouth.  When I bring both of them home for an overnight I hummus them to death.

The recipe below can almost be made with your eyes closed.  Just pop everything in the food processor and let 'er rip.   Smoked sweet paprika is pimenton.  Tahini (sesame seed paste) can be found in regular supermarkets.  If you can't find it, just ask.  Heaven knows where they put it.  I found mine in the Jewish section by accident, although it makes sense by default. The other day I found pine nuts in the Chinese food area.  (@#&^*!!

I am sure some of my daughter's  friends will show up to watch the game on Sunday and I will be ready with a delicious and healthy hors d'oeuvre.  All I will need then are the ribs, beans, potato salad, chocolate brownies, beer...Never mind, I am sure someone will bring plenty of that!


  • 2 cans (each 15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 tsp. smoked sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. toasted ground cumin seed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Pita bread or pita chips and crudités for serving


In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, garlic, bell pepper, lemon juice, tahini, paprika and cumin and pulse until the mixture just comes together. With the processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil until incorporated. Season with salt. Serve with pita bread or pita chips and crudités for dipping. Makes about 3 cups.  Decorate with chopped pimentos on top.

Some recipe have you combine the tahini and garlic in the food processor first and then add the rest of the ingredients.  They claim this makes the hummus smoother .  I leave it up to you/

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

 All photos Lindaraxa

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Daube de Boeuf A La Provencal For A Cold Snowy Night

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I served this daube the night before I left for a visit to Madame Mere's. I made plenty so I could freeze a couple of dinners for my daughter, my excuse to ensure that she would have at least a couple of home cooked meals while I was gone.  The cooking didn't end there.  Once I got to the other end,  I began to cook and freeze like crazy so MM would have a few of her favorite meals  to enjoy when I left.  It is easy to cook for her these days.  She is so appreciative of everything I make her, particularly if it is one of her old recipes.  She doesn't cook anymore and her meals are very basic these days.  Nothing like the old Madame Mere and it makes me sad.  But more on that on another post.

One of the things I did not expect on my return was to find a container of beef daube still in the freezer.  I have been on a cooking strike since I returned so, instead of being hurt,  I was elated.  It is perfect for tonight after a winter storm that brought us snow and 20 degree weather.  Atlanta is paralyzed.  It seems everyone tried to get out of the city at the same time and there have been people stuck in their cars since early afternoon.  There was even a baby born in gridlock.    Not since Sherman burned the city during the Civil War has there been such pandemonium; and where is Rhett Butler and that old nag!

But back to the daube...

Daube de Boeuf Carottes on a bed of parsnip puree

A daube is basically a stew cooked at a fairly low temperature for a long period of time.  Daube a la Provencal is made with inexpensive beef braised in wine, vegetables, garlic, and herbes de Provence.  It is traditionally cooked in a daubière, or braising pan. A traditional daubière is a terracotta pot that resembles a pitcher, with a concave lid. Water is poured on the lid, which condenses the moisture inside, allowing for the long cooking required to tenderize lesser cuts of meat.

A traditional daubiere

 I inherited my daubiere from my aunt Julieta who, in turn, inherited it from her father.  He was not a gourmet cook but he loved to collect gadgets.  I am sure this was bought at Hammacher Schlemmer, one of his favorite stores.  Here, instead of filling the concave lid with water, you add a few ice cubes on top which will melt and condense inside, adding moisture to the stew through those tiny holes in the other side of the lid.  Or something like that... . 

The meat used in daube is cut from the shoulder and back of the bull, though some suggest they should be made from three cuts of meat: the "gelatinous shin for body, short ribs for flavor, and chuck for firmness." Although most modern recipes call for red wine a minority, such as the recipe below, call for white, as do the earliest recorded daube recipes.

Variations call for olives, prunes, and flavoring with duck fat.   Vinegar, brandy, lavender, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, juniper berries, or orange peel also appear in some recipes with the latter being the most popular.  For best flavor, it is cooked in several stages, and cooled for a day after each stage to allow the flavors to meld together. In the Camargue and Béarn area of France, bulls killed in bullfighting festivals are often used to make daube.

Traditionally this dish should be cooked for a long time and prepared the night before it is served.

The recipe I have used comes from La Cuisine by Francoise Bernard.  It is my Bible for traditional dishes such as this.  It calls for the white wine mentioned above but I have given you a choice of red or white.  I cooked mine with a red Cotes du Rhone which I reduced to half the volume before adding it to the marinade.  It's an old trick I leaned from Daniel Boulud that gives the illusion that the sauce has been cooking for hours.

You can cook the daube on top of the stove or in the oven.  I have given directions for both.   Frankly, daubiere or not, I prefer to cook it in the oven.  If you want to turn your pot into a daubiere, cover the top of your Le Creuset tightly with tin foil and place the lid on top.

As I am getting ready to publish this post, there are still people in gridlock due to the storm.  Some have been trapped over nine hours and many are abandoning their cars and walking.   Lots of children are being kept overnight at their schools.  What a mess.  


3 lbs beef chuck, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 TB butter
7 ounces thick sliced pancetta or bacon cut crosswise
   into 1/4 inch thick strips
4 onions quartered
1 long strip of orange zest
Salt and pepper
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
3/4 cups black olives (optional, I omitted this time)
Chopped parsley for sprinkling at the end


3 cups dry white or red wine (previously reduced to half the amount)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 TB oil
1/4 Cup Cognag
Thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
Parsley sprigs


In a large bowl combine the beef with the marinade ingredients.  Cover and marinade overnight or at least a couple of hours.

In a flameproof casserole (or daubiere if you have one) melt the butter over medium heat.  Add pancetta or bacon and lightly brown.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl .

Scrape the marinade off the beef  (but save) and dry the meat with paper towels.  Add to the casserole and, in batches, brown on all sides.  Do not crowd the pan or the meat will steam instead of browning.  As they are done, transfer the pieces to a plate.

Add the onions to the pot and lightly brown.  Return the beef and the marinade to the pot, together with the orange strip.  Add salt and pepper to taste and cover.  If you do not have a daubiere (who does!) cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil and cover with the lid.  Cook for 2 hours on top of the stove or on a 300 degree oven.

Add the tomatoes, bacon and olives and cook for another 30 minutes.

Transfer the stew to a warm serving platter and sprinkle with parsley.  Serve over noodles of your choice.  That is very Provencal. 

Photos # 2, #3 Wikipedia
All others Lindaraxa

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Cuban Arroz Con Pollo

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Arroz con Pollo  is one of the most traditional and beloved of all Cuban recipes.  It is usually served for Sunday lunch,  family gatherings and festive events.  Contrary to what you might think, it is not a hard dish to make and that is perhaps one of its major appeals.

I confess that I was a bit scared to try it myself as, for years, it had been the domain of one of my aunts.  Whenever one of us wanted to have it,  all we had to do was ring her up.  No way would any of us step up to the plate.  A couple of months ago my nephew came up for a visit and begged me to make his favorite dish.  Maybe it was the vodka, or the fact that it had been a long time since I had it,  but it was time for one of us to man up and meet the challenge.  So the next day, with my aunt on the line every step of the way, I finally conquered the fear and can now say that the "torch has been passed to a new generation."  Phewey!!

As with black beans, every Cuban cook has his or her own version of this famous recipe.  Aside from the chicken and the Cuban sofrito, the traditional ingredients are saffron, Valencia rice, pimentos and peas.  My grandmother also added canned asparagus to finish the dish and my aunt adds a bit of pimenton to the rice.  This is a new twist and a welcomed addition.  Pimenton is one of the key ingredients of the Spanish paella and it definitely adds depth to the flavor of the rice. Wine is not traditional and beer is debatable, but they also add to the flavor and I would not omit.  Just like I add a dash of vodka on the rocks at the end of some of my recipes,  I am sure there was a time when some Cuban did the same with the beer he had been drinking and that's how it became a part of the recipe.

Last December,  for the second time since I've been in Georgia, I invited my son's in laws for a family gathering on the Sunday before Christmas.  The first year I served them the Roast Pork and the Cuban Black Beans with a Flan for dessert.  This year they had the Arroz Con Pollo with Fried Bananas, Avocado and Pineapple Salad and mother's Merengon for dessert.  I am flattered my daughter in law's grandmother asked me for the recipe.  Not only is she a fabulous cook but also one of the most gracious and charming of Southern ladies and the epitome of the old South.  It is a pleasure to share this recipe with her.

Cook's Notes:

The recipe is for 8 to 10 servings.

I usually figure on a cup of rice for 3 people and a piece and a half of chicken each.

It is best to buy a whole chicken and cut it up, as the pieces will be uniform in size.  If you buy pieces, buy legs and thighs, bone in and skin on, as they have more flavor.  Don't use breasts as the meat is too dry.  If you must, only add a breast or two and cut them in half.

Valencia rice can be found in most supermarkets.  I buy mine at Publix under the brand Mahatma.

Saffron can be found sometimes in the Latin section of the supermarket for less than you would normally pay in the Spices section.

If you cannot find pimentos unsliced in a jar, look for roasted red peppers.

Try to use Spanish olive oil.  Remember what grows together goes together and olive oils differ in taste.

Pimenton is Spanish paprika and can be found in Specialty stores.  I buy mine at HomeGoods!  Don't substitute with regular or Hungarian paprika.

Buy the canned small peas and white or green asparagus, not frozen.

Arroz Con Pollo A La Chorrera


12 pieces of chicken, bone in and skin on, preferrably legs and thighs
Spanish olive oil
1 large onion diced
1 green pepper diced
3 lg cloves of garlic, mashed and finely diced
2 laurel leaves
1/2 tsp. Pimenton de la Vera (Spanish Paprika) 
1/2 cup Pomi tomatoes crushed
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp saffron threads
2 1/2 cups Valencia rice
5 cups good chicken stock heated
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can or bottle of beer (I used Heineken, but any good beer, not lite, will do)
1 can whole Pimentos
1 large can small Petite Peas (I use Le Seur)
1 jar or can white or green asparagus


Marinade the chicken in lemon juice, sliced onions and some garlic at least for a couple of hours.  Remove from the marinade and dry in paper towels before browning.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Bring the chicken broth to a boil and add the saffron.  Turn off but keep warm.

In an oven proof deep skillet add 3 TB olive oil and slightly brown the chicken.  Remove to a plate.

In the same skillet make a sofrito by adding the onions, green peppers, garlic and bay leaves.  Cook until the onions are translucent.  Add the wine and 1 cup of the heated  broth and saffron. Bring to a boil,  Reduce the temperature to medium and add the Pomi tomatoes.   Add the chicken and braise until tender and almost cooked.

Taste the sauce and correct for salt and pepper.

Add the rice, a pinch of pimenton and the remaining 3 1/2 cups of broth and bring to a boil.  Place in the preheated oven and cook until the rice is almost done.  Add  half of the beer and continue cooking.  If the rice absorbs most of the beer and is still hard, add the other half and continue cooking until done.  You want to make sure the rice is tender and moist  and the consistency is similar to that of a risotto.  Cooking time is approximately 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven.  Cover the top with the pimentos halved, the petit pois and the asparagus in a decorative way.

All photos Lindaraxa 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

On A Cold Winter Night...Crabmeat And Roasted Red Pepper Quiche

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After all the holiday food of the last month and a half, I was ready for something new and radically different to make and post...something without the word pie, cookie, leftovers or peppermint bark.  Looking through my drafts for future posts, I came across this quiche.  I looked no more.

This recipe has been in my archives for a long time, waiting for Spring and a ladies lunch.  Together with the Mandarin Salad, and its slightly sweet and sour dressing,  it is the perfect menu for the Ladies Who Lunch any time of the year.  Instead, it was made yesterday, for dinner, on the coldest day we have had so far this winter.

Although there were no ladies in attendance this time, except for us five chicks, we really enjoyed it.  Under the lights of the Christmas tree, a roaring fire and The Remains of the Day on TV it was a great menu for a quiet Friday night.  If you have "real men" in the family who don't eat quiche, call it a pie.  They'll bite.

Tomorrow we have Season Four of Downton Abbey and the possibility of snow here in North Georgia.  If you want something lite and special for dinner, run to the store and grab what you need.  Don't forget a good bottle of white wine, preferably a Sauvignon Blanc, although a French Chardonnay would do well if you are serving the Mandarin Salad.

Make sure you buy fresh crabmeat, although you can use  Lump which is more reasonably priced than the Jumbo Lump.  That is what I used and it was perfect.  The recipe calls for six ounces but the container I bought had eight and I used all of it.
There is a recipe for the pie crust below but Mrs. Smith's ready made crust will save you lots of time.  As to the roasted red peppers, ditto, but buy good ones in a jar. We've cooked enough this past holiday season and a few short cuts here and there are well deserved.

 Crab Meat And Roasted Red Pepper Quiche
4 to 6 servings
One 9 and 1/2-inch tart crust


  • Short-crust dough (see recipe), rolled and chilled in a 9 1/2-inch tart pan
  • 1 small red pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 and 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 teaspoons slivered chives
  • 6 ounces cooked crab meat, or use chopped cooked shrimp or lobster


Bake prepared dough at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Patch any small holes with leftover dough. Cool.
Set red pepper in the flames of a stovetop gas burner turned to high. Turn with tongs until skin is blackened, 5 to 7 minutes, then cool. Peel, remove seeds and veins, and slice into 1/4-inch strips.
Make the custard: in mixing bowl, beat eggs, mustard, salt, black pepper, paprika and cayenne. Whisk in cream and herbs. Set aside.
Set tart pan on a baking sheet. Spread crab meat evenly over bottom of pastry. Arrange red pepper strips over crab meat. Beat custard once more and carefully pour into tart shell. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, until top is golden and custard is set. Cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 Basic short-crust pastry


  • 145 grams all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter (1/4 pound), cut in 1/8-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons ice water


Put flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor. Add butter and quickly cut it into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add ice water and mix briefly, about 30 seconds, to form a soft dough. Remove dough, shape into a thick disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Bring to cool room temperature before rolling.

To roll, lightly flour dough and counter. Roll out gradually, periodically letting dough rest for a moment before continuing. This makes rolling easier and will keep dough from shrinking back during baking.

Roll dough to a thin round approximately 13 inches in diameter, then trim to make a 12-inch circle (refrigerate and save trimmings for patching). Lay dough loosely into a 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom, letting it relax a bit. Fold overlap back inside to make a double thickness, then press firmly against the pan so the finished edge is slightly higher than the pan. Refrigerate or freeze for an hour before pre-baking.

Adapted from David Tanis New York Times
All photos Lindaraxa
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