Braised Monkfish in Red Pepper Almond Sauce

A quick Spanish recipe that presents beautifully. If I am pressed for time I use good quality roasted red peppers in a jar rather than roasting them myself. The result is quite similar. Monkfish flesh is covered with a gray membrane that needs to be removed as it shrinks when cooked and looks unpleasant in contrast to the whiteness of the fish.

Patatas Bravas Recipe

Patatas Bravas

In Spain, Patatas Bravas is a key tapas dish. The pan-fried potato cubes are traditionally served with Salsa Brava, a fiery sauce flavored with smoked red peppers from La Vera in the Extremadura region. Instead of frying, I roast the potatoes. It’s less of a hassle in the kitchen.

Polpo (Octopus) alla Luciana Recipe

Polpo (Octopus) alla Luciana

Polpo alla Luciana is one of the simplest and most delicious ways to prepare this exotic seafood. A traditional recipe from Borgo di Santa Lucia, a picturesque district next to Naples’ port. Buying pre-cooked or frozen octopus really helps as it cuts down the preparation time considerably to about 45 minutes. Even in the US pre-cooked octopus is now more readily available in some supermarkets, like Costco.

Spicy Sardine Pâté

A can of sardines is often a cupboard staple that can be easily forgotten. You can turn it into a spicy creamy spread in 10 minutes. A fork and a bowl are all you need as kitchen utensils. A food processor is not required unless you prefer it really smooth. I personally prefer it with a bit of texture. Oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes are excellent to “mascarade” the fishy taste of the sardines and to give the pâté an appealing orange/red color.

Eggplant and Crispy Tofu with Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe

Eggplant and Crispy Tofu with Sweet and Sour Sauce

Stir-fried eggplant and tofu is a delicious meatless dinner loaded with lots of flavors and quickly put together. Tofu’s crispiness is an important step when assembling this dish. It should not be overlooked, even if you are in a hurry. Start by pressing tofu down first, according to instructions. Every bit helps and splattering of oil will be greatly reduced when stir-frying. Serve with Jasmin rice.

Salmon and Puy Lentil Salad with Creamy Honey Mustard Sauce

Serving a lentil dish on January 1 is a tradition followed in many countries. The theory behind this custom is that you start New Year with a humble dish. Those of us, who have summer temperatures in January, surely don’t crave lentil soup to “warm us up “. A lentil salad is a definite answer in this situation. Elegant enough to be served at a New Years’ party and surprisingly delicious. Sockeye salmon with its vibrant color is a perfect match. The creamy honey mustard sauce livens up the contrast.

Crispy Fish Balls with Sweet and Spicy Sauce Recipe

Crispy Fish Balls with Sweet and Spicy Sauce

Very popular throughout Southeast Asia, the perfect quick bite dunked into a piquant sauce. Serving fish balls on a bed of crispy bok choy elevates this humble street food into something special. Bok choy’s hint of spicy bitterness and its fast cooking properties is my stir-fry choice to go with.

Indonesian Baked Tofu with Spicy Peanut Sauce Recipe

Indonesian Baked Tofu with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Crispy baked tofu and spicy peanut sauce is a rather fortuitous combination. Tofu straight out of the package doesn’t have much taste, but it’s ideal to absorb flavors like the rich and spicy sauce in this recipe. I use Sambal Oelek, the famous Indonesian spicy sauce so popular in Southeast Asia and the Netherlands. This dish rewards you with amazing flavors and instant gratification.

Salt Cod and Potato Bake Recipe

Salt Cod and Potato Bake

A traditional salt cod recipe from Northern Portugal, Bacalhau a Moda do Minho. Each family has its own recipe passed down for generations, but I bet they all have a common denominator, namely potatoes. This recipe is from my 1930’s Portuguese cookbook.

Noire de Caromb Fig

Noire de Caromb Fig

The “Noire de Caromb”, the dark Caromb fig is a very sweet, juicy fig that is firm when it is ripe. It”s much sought after in France during the summer. The first crop, in July, is a larger fig that is long and dark red outside and red inside. The second crop, in September, is more round and dark purple outside and red inside.

Faiselle

Faiselle

Eating out in France you will sooner or later find Faisselle on the menu, often served as a light refreshing an alternative to the cheese plate as dessert. Especially authentic is the Faisselle de Chèvre, with soft curd and fresh light sour flavor.

Grilled Octopus with Roasted Peppers and Potatoes Recipe

Grilled Octopus with Roasted Peppers and Potatoes

This classic of the Spanish and Portuguese cuisine is still a culinary curiosity in the US. Long hours of low and slow cooking or hitting it on a stone until tender are things of the past. A good brand of precooked octopus offers the same quality as a fresh one with the added bonus of less time in the kitchen.

Peruvian Shrimp Chowder (Chupe de Camarones) Recipe

Peruvian Shrimp Chowder

In Peru, Bolivia and Chile “chupe” means stew, a word from the Quechua language. Chupe de Camarones is a specialty from Arequipa. The key ingredient is Aji Amarillo paste (aji=pepper, amarillo=yellow) available nowadays in most US supermarkets, your Latino food store or online. It balances its medium heat, which you’ll feel in the middle section of your palate, with a bit of fruity flavor, a very agreeable sensation.

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