Friday, May 15, 2009

Recipe: Rice with Brazilian Sausage, Red Peppers and Chickpeas

One of my favorite kinds of restaurants to eat at is a Brazilian steak house or "Churrascaria". Typically the service is "rodizio" style. Basically, you're seated and cocktails are offered Shortly thereafter the feast begins. "Passadors" or "meat waiters" come by your table with knives and skewers full of a variety of meats slowly cooked in special rotisserie ovens. Among my favorite meats are sirloin, tenderloin, pork loin and pork tenderloin. Though, I can't complain about the lamb, chicken, fish or duck, though I usually pass on the chicken hearts or chicken livers.

One of my friends' and my own favorites is the roasted Brazilian sausage. I can remember one night in particular at a churrascaria in Montreal known as Le Misla where the sausage was incredible. In fact I think many of the guys at my table that night would have said it rivaled the beef tenderloin!

While it was in churrascarias that I was introduced to Brazilian sausages, it's in my own home and from my own grill that I tend to eat it the most. Luckily, I live near an Portuguese/Brazilian/Spanish market and a dependable supply is always available.

While it is easily great served solo right from the grill, I have managed to use it in a couple of rainy day recipes, when the grill is not available. The recipe below represents my current favorite.

I f you can't find Brazilian sausage where you are, don't fret. This recipe will also do well with a variety of sausages like Italian, chorizo, chourico, andouille and others. Never be afraid to experiment!

Rice with Brazilian Sausage, Red Peppers and Chickpeas

2 TBS. Olive oil
2 lbs. of Brazilian Sausage
4 plum tomatoes (diced)
2 medium onions (diced)
4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 tsp. smoked sweet paprika
1 bay leaf
2 cups of red bell pepper (diced)
1 15 oz. can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
1 cup of white wine
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups of water
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chopped parsley (to garnish)

Put the sausages in a deep pan and just cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil and simmer the sausages until the water almost runs out.

Set the sausages aside. When cool, slice into 1/4" disks.

Set another deep pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer add the onions and simmer until they begin to brown.

Add the tomatoes and cook stirring often until they give up their juice.

Add the red pepper, garlic, paprika, bay leaf, and chickpeas and continue to cook stirring occasionally.

Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

Raise the heat a little. When the mixture almost loses all its moisture add the white wine and deglaze.

Add the rice and sausage and mix them in thoroughly. Cook it for a few moments to allow the rice to soak up some of the juices and flavor.

Add the chicken broth and water. Stir to mix in well and bring to a boil. Then lower to a low simmer and allow to cook uncovered until the rice is tender and absorbs most of the liquid. Add more liquid during cooking if necessary.

Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Top with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Recipe: Tasty, Dreamy, Light and Creamy Hummus

Way back yonder in a place we commonly refer to as the 1960's and 1970's we didn't see a lot of chickpeas in my family and social circle. We other things either, not broccoli, not asparagus, not mushrooms or anything else that didn't fall into our socio-economic reality. I've got no grudges, we ate well. Having a father who hunted and a grandfather who hunted and owned a farm, we ate a lot of things other people didn't eat, like rabbits, pheasant, quail and the occasional raccoon, woodchuck or other animal that wasn't quick or smart enough to evade the hunters. Jethro Bodine has got nothing on me and Granny Clampett could have learned a few things about cooking vittles from my Grandmother!

Like I said, no chickpeas. I think my first chickpea experience may have been in the early 1980's at one of those horrible, corporate all-you-can-eat salad bars. You know the places: heavy on the atmosphere but also heavy on the overly salted reheated frozen entrees? YUCK! That's a rant left for another post in the future. Anyway, my chickpea experience then was pretty unimpressive. It was a cold, waxy marble that turned into a grainy mush in my mouth. Boy have things changed.

We keep a pretty good supply of chickpeas in my house. Both dry and canned varieties for a variety of reasons. I suppose it was Indian food that swung it for me and certainly my wife. Things like Aloo Chole and Chana Masala can make a chickpea lover out of many people. One of the things we prepare regularly is hummus. Boy, do I love hummus. I can remember the first time I ever tried it, it was at my sister Carolyn's wedding, (She's still married, amongst me and my siblings, well that's just AMAZING!). I've loved hummus ever since.

That's not to say I've never had bad hummus, I have. Sometimes it's too garlicky, other times there's not enough garlic. Other times it's like school paste or just filled with a lot of pseudo-food-ingredients or chemicals that you just don't need in your body. Like many things though, I've solved those quality control issues by preparing the stuff at home and creating something I love.

The basis of this recipe comes from two sources. One is a local Lebanese market that makes great hummus, the other is a great television program and publication called "America's Test Kitchen". The market gave me a target for great hummus and the America's Kitchen recipe was a perfect starting point. I spent some time tweaking (and eating a lot of homemade hummus) to get it to a great recipe for me, my family and friends.

The thing about hummus is that it is easy to prepare. So you can kind of take it where you desire when you make it yourself. You want it thicker? Cut the water. More garlicky? Add garlic! You want it ungodly hot? Add lots of cayenne. It's weird that I've had as much bad hummus as I have, it seems so simple and easy to prepare well, what were all theses people and companies doing wrong? : )

Recipe: Tasty, Dreamy, Light and Creamy Hummus

3 TBS Lemon juice (fresh squeezed, THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE!)
1/3 cup of cold spring water
6 TBS tahini (stirred well)
3 TBS blend oil (recipe below)
1 14 oz. can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed, I use Goya)
1 tsp garlic (minced well and gently packed into spoon)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cumin (fresh ground, NO SUBSTITUTE)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

To prepare the blend oil mix 1/2 TBS olive oil with 3 TBS peanut oil, blend well.

Mix the lemon juice and the cold spring water together.

In a separate bowl mix the blend oil and the tahini together.

In a food processor add the chickpeas, garlic, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper. Chop until all the ingredients are well blended and the chickpeas are almost ground.

Scrape the side of the food processor. Then with the food processor running, add the water/lemon juice mixture in a steady stream allow to blend for about 1 minute.

Scrape down the side of the food processor again. Then with the food processor running, add the tahini/blend oil mixture in a slow and steady stream. Continue processing until the hummus is smooth and creamy (about 15 seconds).

Put the hummus in a covered container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Serve with pita chips or any other way you like.


Tasty, Dreamy, Light and Creamy Hummus from Chop Onions, Boil Water - World Food at Home by Henry Krauzyk