Goooooooooool

Chaaarlie

Time for two truths and a lie:

1: Univision has the best World Cup broadcasts.

2: My refrigerator is exploding with produce.

3: I’ve been updating the blog regularly with witty anecdotes and delicious recipes.

Capitol, Tour de Fat

I think you can guess which of these things is not like the other, and that thing (that whole not blogging thing) has felt like the elephant in my cyber room for a long, long time now. So here I am! With pictures! And recipes from Spicy DC!

deutschland

Beet-licious salad recipe coming soon, because I’m determined to make everyone eat more beets. (I’m thinking “Beets by Kra” type thing. Thoughts?)

view

Recipes:

I got a fever, and the only prescription is more World Cup: Bazaar Spices’ Flavors of the World Cup.

Maybe you’ve still got rhubarb? Make rhubarb syrup (For soda! Cocktails! Ice cream!), and get rhubarb jam.

Baby, it’s hot outside: Rose hip lemonade.

merica

 

Until next time’s beets,

Kara

Paupac

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Strawberry Lemonade/Spring

YOU GUYS IT’S SPRING OMG EVERYBODY!

Spring!

(Sorry, but I had to yell that at you. HAD TO.)

Today we have a deliciously grownup Strawberry Lemonade from Janessa, perfect for the impending bucket-loads of strawberries that will be hitting the markets.

And, a few links to recipes from the Bazaar Spices blog, written by yours truly:

Braised Collard Greens with Black Cardamom and Coconut Milk - I know you might not feel like braising these days, but trust me and just do it one last time before you start quickly blanching things and eating salads.

Smokey and Sweet Roasted Nuts – These are ADDICTIVELY good, and now that I’m on my own blog and not that of a professional establishment, I can be immature and giggle. Anyways, go make these nuts. (Tee hee).

And now, Strawberry Lemonade!

Kara

 

Strawberry Lemonade (My Way)

FOREVER ago, Kara asked me to come up with a unique-ish drink.  I did, took pictures, but forgot to write about it.  When cleaning up and organizing iPhoto a couple days ago, I ran into these pictures again.  I figured there is no harm in sharing it with you all now!

I love strawberries.  Fresh, juicy strawberries make me happy.  Unfortunately, when making this drink, we didn’t have any.  Frozen strawberries aren’t the same, but they worked fairly well.

Ok, so either thaw a handful of frozen strawberries and chop them, or slice the yummy fresh kind.  Add a little bit of sugar (probably 2 teaspoons) to soften the berries as well as provide a delicious bit of juice.

Strawberry mush

Next, measure 1.5 ounces of vodka using nifty shot glasses.

Vodka

 

Fill a cup with ice, add some of the strawberry mixture, and the vodka, and top with lemonade.

 

Add lemonade

 

Ta-da!  Easy, and delicious!  I added a bit of basil to the top of my glass.  It was aromatic and mmmmm.

 

Topped with basil

Janessa

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Spicy DC

reservoir

Everyone!

As I may or may not have mentioned, I’ve been working at Bazaar Spices at Union Market in Washington, D.C. for a while now. It’s fabulous, and part of my work includes blogging for their Spicy DC Blog.

for the birds

YEUP, I’ve been blogging elsewhere and neglected to tell you!

Forgive me?

White House in white

What if I give you the recipes?

And promise an update of adventures soon?

oysters, meats, breads, oh my

Yeah?

Good.

what the what

1: Brown Butter Cinnamon Cookies with Crystallized Ginger – because it’s March and your New Year’s resolution to “eat less butter” or something doesn’t apply anymore.

2: Spicy Carrot and Chickpea Stew – because even though it was 70 degrees today in Washington, D.C., it’s going to be 30 degrees tomorrow. (Womp.)

my favorites

3: Chermoula Buttermilk Roasted Chicken Legs – because Chermoula is the best spice blend you’ll ever try, and I’m never prone to exaggeration.

Bonus round: All about infusing your liquors with botanicals – because, well, cocktails.

Maslenitsa! Blini!

Happy March,

Kara

warmth soon

P.S. This has been on repeat, just because.

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The Olympics

Sochi’s Opening Ceremony is just minutes away from starting. I found a live feed to watch online, and the sounds of Russia are blaring from my computer.

Rossiya

If I had my ducks in a row, I would’ve made a huge Russian feast for this day, but my ducks are swimming all willy nilly, as it were, so for now I’ll give you a roundup of all the Russian/Eastern European recipes posted on the blog.

Pskov

To start, a few infused vodkas and a cocktail:

Ginger Vodka

Lemon Vodka, Pepper Vodka, The Slippery Russian

Lemon Vodka II

Some appetizers and snacks:

Tomato and Dill Salad

Badrijani nigvzit (Georgian Eggplant Rolls) and Baklazhanaya ikra (Eggplant Caviar)

Perepechi with Meat and Mushrooms and Perepechi with Cabbage (Udmurt Rye-Crust Savory Pastries)

Syrnyi Pashtet s Chesnokom i Morkovyu (Cheese Garlic Carrot Spread)

A few heartier dishes:

Vegetarian Borsch

Skorospelye Gurievskie Blini (Quick Blini, Guriev-Style)

And for your tea, a few preserves:

Varenye iz Yablok (Russian Apple Preserves)

Apricot and Blueberry Preserves

basil

Enjoy the games, everyone!

Kara

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Not Your Mama’s Plantains

We watch a lot of cooking shows, like a lot a lot.  I’ve noticed that most dishes focusing on Puerto Rican food have plantains in it.  I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to visit my parents in Puerto Rico over the Thanksgiving holiday.

beach

tunnel

on the beach

San Juan fort

Being that I had never tried plantains before (shocker, I know), I was so excited to try them on this trip.  I tried so many different versions and was so stinkin’ disappointed that I didn’t really care for them.  Not to let that stop me, I kept trying them.  Over, and over, and over, and…you get the idea.  To those of you who like the original plantain, I am so jealous, and this recipe is probably not for you.  Although the recipe may provide an interesting change…maybe?

When figuring this recipe out, I was thinking about my favorite way to indulge in starches.  I love mashed potato leftovers formed into patties and pan-fried.  I was hoping plantains wouldn’t be any different.

To start, take two ripe plantains.  They should be fairly soft (again, I have no idea if this is traditional when using plantains, but it is what I did).

ripe plantains

Peel the plantains, mash ‘em, and lightly cover the mush with salt and pepper.  I love salt, so it is a must for me.  If you don’t like salt (whaaaaa????) then leave it out.  I must warn you…if you leave it out, you may end up with bland goop.  That’s just my very biased opinion.

mash

Ok.  Now that we have established that I love salt, I will remind you, yet again, that I have had a long-standing love affair with scallions.  Unfortunately, I was out and no interest in going to the store.  The next best option was to use sliced washed leeks.  I sautéed them in butter for just a few minutes to slightly soften them.  If you use scallions, there is no need to soften them.  Now combine everything, and add a few tablespoons of flour, just to firm up the texture a little bit.  I also added about 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro, just for a little extra flavor and the pretty green color.

flour 

Next, take ¼ cup of the mixture, flatten it between your hands and coat the patties in seasoned breadcrumbs.  Once all the patties are formed, place them on a plate and refrigerate for an hour or so.  This will ensure that they stay together during cooking.

Finally, heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  Melt 2 tablespoons of butter, and add just a little bit of oil to keep the butter from browning.  Cook the plantain patties until both sides are browned, turning only once during cooking.

Now comes the best part: time to chow down.  I decided to serve them with the most delicious spicy mango sauce that my amazing mother made and sent home with us from Puerto Rico.  It is unfortunately almost gone…she may have to mail more.  That wasn’t too subtle, was it?  Maybe she will even post the recipe sometime (it is that amazingly good, and you haven’t lived until you try it.  For real.)

done 

Happy February to you all, and here’s to many more delicious meals in 2014.

Janessa

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Ho ho ho and a bottle of rum

Merry Christmas, dear readers!

rum

I hope your bellies are full, your presents unwrapped, and your naps taken.

Here’s a tasty drink to try this evening, if you happen to have a few ingredients on hand.

Rum hot toddy

For one drink:

  • 1 black tea bag
  • A few slices fresh ginger
  • 1 slice lemon
  • 1 slice lime, or 1/2 key lime
  • 1 shot rum
  • Whole nutmeg to grate on top

Brew your tea, muddling the ginger slices in the bottom of the mug. Leave enough room in your mug for the rum! Squeeze the juice from the lemon and lime into your tea, and add the slices to the mug if you like. Stir in the rum. Grate nutmeg on top, to taste. Enjoy. Repeat.

hot toddy

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from The Troika Table.

Tami, Janessa, and Kara

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Spicy Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!

I write to you with a belly full of food, pajamas that look like candy canes, and three movies lined up for watching: Frosty The Snowman (currently watching), A Charlie Brown Christmas (up next), and How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (the natural one to end the evening). I’m at Braeden’s parents’, and tomorrow we will have German food for Christmas. It’ll be sehr, sehr gut.

But for now, some hot sauce!

fixins

I got the basic recipe for this sauce from my friend Caleb, who said that I should keep it secret, and keep it safe, but things this tasty shouldn’t really be kept secret, so Caleb said I could share it with you. I made two variations: one with just jalapeños and apples, and another with jalapeños and chipotles in adobo sauce. Both are tasty, but I liked the chipotle one the best – it’s just so smoky and delicious! I like my sauces a little thicker, so that they really stick to the foods they adorn, but if you like yours a bit thinner feel free to add more vinegar or water.

tah dah

Hot Sauce: Two Variations
adapted from Caleb’s Super Spicy Super Sauce

Base for both sauces:

  • 5 ounces (145 grams) hot peppers – I used just jalapeños, but feel free to use a variety
  • 1 smallish bell pepper (about 3 1/2 – 4 ounces, or 120 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water

For Apple Hot Sauce:

  • 2 small or 1 medium sweetish apples (about 4 ounces or 115 grams), peeled and cored – I used Macoun
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, if you like, minced
  • A few dashes Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or other sweetener of choice)

For Chipotle Hot Sauce:

  • 2 chiles in adobo, plus a spoonful or two of the sauce
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, if you like, minced
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons brown sugar

Trim and chop your hot peppers, removing the seeds if you’d like it less spicy. Remove the stem and seeds from the bell pepper, and roughly chop. Put the peppers and salt in a medium saucepan, cover with vinegar and water, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer about 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients for either the Apple or Chipotle sauce and simmer for 10 more minutes. Blend sauce to desired smoothness (easiest with an immersion blender, but doable with a food processor or blender as well).

Store in sterilized jars for optimum shelf life; keep refrigerated.

Yield: about 3 cups each sauce (that is, if you don’t accidentally break one of the jars with the all powerful hotness of the sauce…)

oops

P.S. This is SUPER adaptable. I made another batch the other day and added roasted poblanos, agave syrup, and smoked paprika. Homemade condiments > store-bought.

P.P.S. Watch this.

Kara

 

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Eat Your Cake…and Coffee, Too

Today’s tropical recipe is like a coconut macchiato on a plate.  I started with a basic yogurt cake recipe and mixed in some coconut, fresh-ground Puerto Rican coffee beans, and a splash of coconut rum.  Topped with a yogurt-based glaze and toasted coconut, this simple cake will make an appearance on our Christmas dinner table.

Before we get to the recipe, a little coffee tour:

coffee farm

 

the view

 

coffee

We visited Hacienda Pomarrosa with Kara when she was here in September, and it was an informative and enjoyable morning in the beautiful mountains above Ponce. With our own farming background and recent experience living in the Rheinland, we really liked having an opportunity to visit with Kurt, the owner of Hacienda Pomarrosa (who is originally from Düsseldorf).  The location is a bit off the typical tourist track, but a visit to the farm is well worth the drive, and the hacienda also offers bed and breakfast stays for those who would like to spend the night in the peaceful Puerto Rican mountains.

And now, let’s get to baking!

Coconut and Coffee Yogurt Cake

  • ¾ cup plain yogurt, divided
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut rum (optional, you can omit and flavor with vanilla if you like)
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon finely ground coffee
  • 1½ cups coconut, divided (I used sweetened coconut)

Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan and preheat oven to 350 F.  Beat ½ cup of the yogurt together with the sugar, eggs, coconut oil, and coconut rum.  Stir together and add the dry ingredients, folding in just until well blended, then stir in ½ cup of the coconut.  Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for about 35 minutes, or until it feels springy to the touch and a toothpick tester comes out clean.  At the same time, spread the remaining cup of coconut on a baking sheet and put it into the oven until it is a toasty golden color.

After the cake cools, spread it with this glaze: stir together the remaining ¼ cup plain yogurt, 1¾ to 2¼ powdered sugar (quantity depends on how thick the yogurt is), and ½ teaspoon vanilla.  Sprinkle with toasted coconut just before serving.

cake ingredients

cake

 

Tami

 

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Coconutty Balls

Happy 4th Day of Tropical!

Call me immature, but I still giggle when my 9-year-old son dies laughing every time someone uses the words “balls” or “nuts”.  Yes, he is still in the phase where that is funny, and apparently I am as well. B had no interest in helping me in the kitchen today, but my youngest daughter did. She is featured in these pictures.

To make this yummy treat, all you have to do is toast some coconut, chop a little chocolate, and of course add nuts.

What we used:

  • 1 ¼ cups sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (we used macadamia nuts and walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup not super sweet chocolate, chopped (a semi-sweet bar worked great)
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips

 chopped

Start off by toasting the coconut in a 350-degree oven, for about 10 minutes. Next, chop the nuts and chocolate.  Melt the chocolate by placing it in a bowl over a pot of boiling water; just make sure the bowl isn’t touching the water.

After the chocolate is melted, combine it with the nuts and coconut.

mixing

Finally, scoop balls of the mixture onto a lined baking sheet. We decided to sprinkle them with a little powdered sugar, before chilling them for a bit.  They turned out to be more of a blob-ish shape, but were delicious nonetheless!

done!  

B loved them, although he wouldn’t let me take his photo…

Enjoy!

Janessa

 

 

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Hot Tropic Jam

Fruit, juicy…..how about a nice tropical punch? Sheesh, did that commercial really make anyone want to buy Hawaiian Punch?  I have to admit, I did like artificially flavored and colored sugar water when I was a kid, but now I know it was a poor imitation of the real thing, which is a refreshing beverage made by steeping dried hibiscus flowers and sweetening the resulting “juice” to taste (this is known in Mexico as agua de jamáica).  A tall iced glass is so good on a warm day, and the fruity flavor, floral aroma, and vivid red color will no doubt let you imagine yourself on a sunny beach with a tropical breeze blowing through your hair.  I made the agua not long ago and thought, why not try to capture that taste in a jar?  I tossed in fresh ginger and scotch bonnet peppers for some tropical heat, cooked it into a jam, and ¡caramba!  The result is sweet, tart, spicy, and delicious.  I can think of so many uses for this jam: plop it over a brie round, cover with puff pastry and bake, or spread it over a block of cream cheese and dig in with your favorite crackers, or mix some of it up with a little soy sauce and use it to glaze baked or barbecued chicken.  What the heck, eat it with a spoon!

jam and cream cheese

The recipe includes a few specialty ingredients, but they shouldn’t be too hard to find, and if they are, I have some suggestions for substitutions. You’ll need the dried hibiscus flowers, which are often found in the Hispanic foods section of large supermarkets (and you are certain to find them in a little Mexican store if you have one in your vicinity – ask for flor de jamáica), some fresh ginger, a few hot peppers (habanero, scotch bonnet, or something along those lines), guavas (I used canned), and the clincher is Pomona’s Universal Pectin (I ordered it from Amazon).

If you can’t find the hibiscus flowers, brew some strong hibiscus tea (I would say 12 teabags for two cups of boiling water) and top off the rest of the liquid needed with pomegranate juice.  If guavas are not available, swap in chopped pineapple or another fruit.  Don’t substitute another kind of pectin, though, because the Pomona’s will let you sweeten your jam to taste (plus the ratio of pectin to other ingredients in the recipe is based on Pomona’s but would just be a guess with another type of pectin).  And speaking of sweetening to taste, let your own preference be your guide in spicing as well.

flor de jamaica

scotch bonnets

guavas

all mashed up

Spicy Hibiscus and Guava Jam

  • 2 cups dried hibiscus flowers
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 – 2 cups sugar (I used 1 1/3 cups)
  • ¼ – ½ cup minced ginger
  • 4 hot peppers, halved (I think mine were scotch bonnets – handle carefully to avoid a burn!)
  • 1 ¼ cup chopped guava (20 oz. jar, drained)
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 1 box Pomona’s Universal Pectin (mix calcium water according to directions and use 4 teaspoons calcium water and 1 tablespoon pectin; there will be enough of the package left over for two or three other recipes)

Before you start, prepare jars and lids by washing and sterilizing in boiling water (number depends on the jar size; the recipe will yield about 3 ¾ cups).  Mix the calcium water according to package directions, ½ teaspoon calcium powder in ½ cup water, and mix 1 tablespoon of the pectin powder with ½ cup of the sugar.

Put the dried flowers and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or so, then scoop out the flowers with a slotted spoon. Add the minced ginger and halved peppers and simmer gently for another 20 minutes or until the liquid tastes as spicy as you would like.  Strain through several layers of cheesecloth, rinse the saucepan and pour the liquid back into it (except for the little bit of sediment that will settle out).  Stir the lime juice, chopped guavas, 4 teaspoons calcium water, and the ½ cup sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon pectin into the hibiscus liquid and bring to the simmering point again, stirring to dissolve pectin.  Taste and add additional sugar until the mixture is at the desired sweetness, then bring to a full boil and cook for two minutes.  The jam will still be rather saucy, but it will thicken when it cools.

Pour jam into hot jars, seal, and process in boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove from canner and allow to cool completely before checking seals.  The jam is a nice deep claret color. Add a glittery ribbon or bow, and these are ready to hand out for Christmas.

close up

jam outside

Tami

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