Saturday, November 21, 2009

Seafood Marinara with Capellini

Last night I had the distinct pleasure of making dinner for some of my favorite people: David, Urooj, and Nea. I quite literally started this recipe journey by going into the produce market up the street from my house and throwing vegetables into my cart that I enjoy. I had scanned some recipes online earlier in the day, and I knew that I was going to make a red sauce, but other than that it was anyone's guess as to what I was going to make.

The result was an amazing marinara that is delicious over jasmine rice or capellini. I served it with rice last night, but David mixed the sauce with leftover capellini that was in the fridge, and it was even better that way. This dish has an Italian base with some South Asian spicing and a whole lot of fun dashed into it.

Here, then, is my Seafood Marinara recipe...spaghetti ain't never been so good.

Seafood Marinara with Capellini

2 fillets tilapia cubed
1 lb shrimp deveined and de-shelled
2 red potatoes cubed
1 fennel cubed
1 large carrot sliced
2 jalapenos diced
4 cloves garlic diced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 cup cilantro diced
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
2 bunches green onions diced
1 large can of mashed or pureed tomatoes
1 lb capellini pasta aka angel hair pasta
salt to taste

First in a large pot heat the olive oil. Add to the olive oil the onions, garlic, cilantro, and jalapeno. Let them cook over a medium heat until the onion is soft. Then add the cumin, turmeric, cayenne, oregano, and basil. Stir and let cook for another minute or two.

Then add the potatoes, fennel, and carrot. Stir and make sure that the vegetables are coated with the herb mixture. Then add just enough water to the pot to cover the vegetables. You want your end sauce to be thick, so do not put to much water into it. Let the vegetables simmer in the pot until the water is about half gone. Then add the fish, shrimp, bay leaves and tomato sauce to the pot.

Cover the pot and let the sauce simmer over a medium heat for 45 minutes (as with almost any sauce, the longer you let the sauce slowly simmer, the better it is going to taste). Stir occasionally to make sure that nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan and all of the flavors have a chance to mix together.

Prepare your pasta and serve with a heaping helping of the seafood marinara. This dish will easily stuff 4-6 people and will leave leftovers. The entire she-bang will run you about $15-$20 depending on the price of the shrimp and fish in your area.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cashew Curry

A few years ago, I was at a t-shirt release party for my friend Chamindika Wanduragala ( Chamun is an amazing visual artist, a stellar clothing designer, and a wonderful cook. She has also saved my ass financially on a couple of occasions.

I walked into her party and asked her what was on the menu for eats. She said cashew curry, and I did my best not to turn up my nose too far. I mean...really....for real....for real for real? Cashew curry...I was doubtful.

But, my Mama taught me to never turned my nose up at food unless I try it first. So I scooped a bit of basmati rice on my plate and then planted some cashews on top of it. I took a bite...and I didn't move from that damn spot for about an hour. I have a problem with portion control, and Lord have mercy I overate that night yes I did.

It's been a couple of years since I've had the curry, and I moved away from Minneapolis, so I figured that if I wanted it, I would have to figure out how to cook it myself. I tried to summon Chamun's recipe, but she has had a baby and is not so much the Facebook addict that I am. So I scanned various cashew curry recipes and settled on one that seemed closest to the Sri Lankan delight that Chamun whipped up for us.

I changed very little to this recipe, so this is not an original creation of mine, but it is damn good.

Cashew Curry Sri Lankan Style As Interpreted by a Negro From the Midwest

16 oz roasted Cashews
3 Cups thin Coconut milk (or water)
1 medium Onion, sliced
2 fresh green Chilies, sliced
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
5 cm Cinnamon stick
3 tbs Vegetable oil
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbs Raw Curry powder (see recipe for raw curry powder)
1 tbs crushed red pepper
1 Cup thick Coconut milk or fresh milk

- Place the cashews in a bowl, add boiling water, close with lid and
soak for about 4 hours or overnight.
- Drain the water from cashews and add salt, turmeric, raw curry
powder, goraka and mix well until cashews are well coated.
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan then add onions, green chilies,
crushed garlic, cinnamon and fry until onions are soft and golden
- Add the cashews and keep stirring until well coated with oil and
- Add thin coconut milk (or water), close with lid and cook on slow
heat until cashews are soft and cooked.
- Add the thick coconut milk (or fresh milk) and bring to a boil on
slow heat.
- Turn off heat. Adjust salt to taste.

Here is my interpretation of the above, which is from the original recipe that I found at

First of all, do soak the cashews overnight.

Second of all use the coconut milk at the end along with two cups more water, bring to a boil and then turn the heat down low, and simmer covered for FOUR HOURS at minimum.

Then turn off heat, serve with brown rice, and enjoy.

Let me tell you....David LOVED LOVED LOVED this recipe.

This recipe will easily feed a crew of 6-8 for about $15. Also, it is a completely vegan recipe.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

10th Avenue Tilapia Stew

I love soups of all stripes whether they come with tripe or beef, seafood or pork, soups are delicious. I have met very few soups that I do not like, and those that I have not liked are usually French. Go figure.

So, today I scanned the web for some inspiration, and I took note of what flavors folks suggested should go together, and I decided, in honor of Halloween, to conjure up a creation of my own.

And the result has been a fantastic fish stew that I will be making on a regular basis. This is a lighter soup that will bring a smile to your lips and a warm feelin' in your belly.

10th Avenue Tilapia Stew

3 Tilapia Fillets cubed
1/2 pound squid sliced
1 quart fish stock
1 red onion diced
1 jalapeno
4 cloves garlic
2 bunches green onions diced
1 turnip
1 parsnip
1 carrot
3 red potatoes
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp ground sage
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 corn on the cob halved
1/4 cup olive oil
1 red bell pepper diced
1/2 cup diced basil
1 cup white wine

To begin, in a large skillet saute the garlic, red onion, jalapeno, and basil in the olive oil over high heat for five minutes, stirring frequently.

In a large soup pot, combine the remaining ingredients except for the fish and squid. Once the saute is finished add that to the pot as well. Add enough water to the pot to make sure that all of the vegetables are covered. With the soup stock you shouldn't need too much water.

Simmer the soup over medium high heat for 20-30 minutes to allow time for the vegetables to soften. Then, add the shrimp and fish. Cover and simmer for another 20-30 minutes or until the fish is flaky to the touch.

Salt, eat, and enjoy.

This delicious and healthy soup will easily feed two people for days and six to eight people until they are stuffed to the gills. The price of the soup should run you about $15-$18 depending on the price of the tilapia. Squid is amazingly cheap.