Thursday Night Nicoise Salad

Thursday Night Nicoise Salad
Allow all of your salad stars to shine on their own. Dress each component of your salad individually and pile onto a platter. Simple food is just so darn pretty. Make something like this whatever you have on hand!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Piri Piri Query

Piri Piri Vegetable Bean Soup with Brown Basmati Rice
I am now in love with Piri Piri. I made this killer pot of soup last night with a Piri Piri blend that was given to me by my friend, Joann who purchased the precious farrago of flavor from the Dual Specialty Store, a spice shop in New York City. Keep in mind that she was in NYC several MONTHS ago and FINALLY brought me my spices after much textual harassment like  . . . " . . . bring me my  #%*$&#!  ALEPPO PEPPER NOW!!!!! . . . " I guess you had to be there. Joann's been toting these awesome spices and forgetting to give them to me for awhile. I told her that I was miffed because I had to sub paprika for aleppo pepper in a recent request for authentic Middle Eastern style lamb kebabs . Joann brought me three interesting blends. Honestly, I'm not usually into spice blends, but I'm SOLD on this mouthwatering Piri Piri concoction.  My other aromatic gifts include a trio of Aleppo/Halaby/Marash (which are all peppers, by the way) ~ a Syrian blend ~ AND a bag of golden wonder which brings pure joy to my accessory olfactory system (i.e., makes my schnozz as happy as a pig in doodoo), the Vadouvan Spice Blend. This blend includes cardamom, cumin, clove, fenugreek, nutmeg, mustard, turmeric, curry leaf and red pepper flakes. I cannot wait to try these blends!

Back to the Piri Piri blend. First of all, piri piri (or peri peri) is pepper pepper in Swahili. You can read up on the origins back to Portugal and so on, but basically, it's the delicious African Bird's Eye Chili (pepper). This particular blend exudes the amazing flavors of South Africa . . . paprika, black pepper, ginger, garlic, onion, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, turmeric, sesame, oregano, cardamom, nutmeg and mace. I KID YOU NOT, I added this blend to a pot of soup and I was instantly hooked! It was love at first waft, not to mention first slurp. I was making a pot of what my brother Lou calls "Got-To-Go" Soup, meaning, everything's got to go (like whatever's in the fridge and whatever else that's in the pantry or on the shelf that needs to be consumed while it's still fresh). I had a hankering for a great bowl of soup yesterday.

So, I started with a little bit of olive oil in the bottom of my favorite soup pot. I added sliced shallots (about 4 large) that I had from the farmer's market. They were beautiful. I added one medium, roughly chopped sweet onion, a large sliced carrot, a few bay leaves and about a quarter of a head of purple (red) cabbage, thinly sliced. After letting everything cook with a bit of kosher salt, pepper and cayenne, I added one large can of whole tomatoes, with their juice, crushed by hand, one 48 ounce box of Swanson 100% fat free chicken broth, one 32 ounce box of Swanson Organic Vegetable broth, a few new yellow potatoes, cut into large cubes (unpeeled) and about a heaping 1/2 cup of brown Basmati rice. Remember, this soup was all about what I had on hand. I love cooking "off the shelf".  I also added about 1/2 can of water (to rinse out the tomato can). This is when I decided to go for it with the Piri Piri blend. On one hand, I was worried about "ruining" a whole pot of soup with an unknown outcome. On the other hand, I was ready to try something new. So, I added about a heaping teaspoon of the delectable mix. It smelled fabulous and the broth tasted fabulous, like immediately! I let the soup come to a boil and let it continue to boil (or high simmer) until the rice and potatoes were tender. This actually took 20-30 minutes, I think, for the rice to really cook. During this time, I tasted the soup several times because I LOVED the flavor. I adjusted the salt and added more cayenne pepper and black pepper. It tasted so delicious, I added about another heaping teaspoon of the Piri Piri blend. The last thing I added was one can of rinsed and drained cannelini beans and one can of rinsed and drained black beans. I usually add canned beans to soups last since they are already cooked. They just need to heat through. Once the rice was tender, the soup had thickened nicely from the rice and potatoes and the beans made the soup even more filling and healthy. I CANNOT wait to experiment further with these incredibly fragrant and flavorful spices. I want to make another pot of soup now but I may try something else like Piri Piri Grilled Chicken or something. I know this will be an addiction. OK. Don't tell anyone but I actually ate like 4 bowls of soup. They were small. Not. It was impossible to stop. That happens.

So, here's the moral of the story. Try something new today or this weekend when you have a chance to cook from scratch. Changing up your spices can transport you to a different country with a shake. You can go to the Far East, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, India, South America, or in this case, South Africa, in a pinch! (or a teaspoon) : ) --------- xo

Heat up your life - and your soup,

Love,

Katie

This just in: After I published this post, I was back in KPK concocting another simmering pot of exotica using the Vadouvan spice blend, fresh spinach, multi-colored organic quinoa and chick peas. OMG I can't wait to tell you about it . . . when I get back from Pondicherry. PEACE!


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MORE 4 U

From here, you can continue scrolling down to check out some of my favorite dishes and KPK highlights.

For more posts (articles), recipes, stories and pictures, you can scroll up (in the right column under "What You Missed") and click on 2008, 2009 2010, 2011, 2012 or 2013. As of June, 2013, there are are total of 139 posts in KPK. You can spend more time here when you know where to look, right?! Another way to enjoy my kitchen is to click on any items of interest in the section entitled "Passion Posts", also up above in the right column.

Love, Katie ~ I am so glad you're here! Stay awhile!

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