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Cinco de Mayo is around the corner, but, it is never too early to enjoy Mexican-inspired foods.

Poblano peppers seem a bit pricey, so, I indulge every once in a while and bring a few home to fire roast and incorporate in some home-made dishes.






In addition to roasted poblano peppers and pineapples, I added some diced green apples, Walla-walla sweet onions, corn, black beans, and red bell peppers to bring a mix of textures and flavors to this salsa.

Some of the pineapple juice from the canned pineapples, plus lemon juice, and a generous dash of seasoning that includes salt, oregano, thyme, paprika, red pepper flakes, garlic, and some ground bay leaves is what I went with for this recipe, and, as usual, I didn't measure accurately. But, since seasoning can be adjusted to taste, it should be fine.
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Fall greens from last year are at the end of their lifecycle, flowering and going to seed now. If I am not too lazy, I hope to save the seeds and use it again this year.

After the cold winter, it is refreshing to see the hardy annual greens in the garden survive and thrive till they give up: Kale, Chard, and Collard greens. Arugula has flowered and gone to seed as well. Time to dig up the patch and start afresh...

Anyway, I have been incorporating these greens from the garden in my cooking lately. Collard greens is a special favorite thanks to their sturdy leaves and their tender stems that cook up easily.





Some collard greens from the garden, plus  carrots, and bell peppers, along with hunks of onion-flavored fried tofu come together in this simple stir-fry. Use any favorite stir-fry sauce, I tend to go with whatever is handy to throw together and am in the mood for, and I don't measure exactly.

Spring onion and garlic shoots have been popping up, fresh and happy as ever so I liberally garnish the dishes with these beauties.

Bui's Natural Tofu is my go-to store for getting tofu that I enjoy.
(Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Bui's Natural Tofu)


Ingredients
Onion flavored fried tofu (pictured in buinaturaltofu.com)
Carrots
Red and green bell peppers
2 cups chopped collard greens, stem and all

Flavoring:
Braggs Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce, if preferred)
Tamari
Sesame oil
Rice vinegar
Mirin
Agave nectar or Grape Molasses (or, just brown sugar is fine)
freshly grated ginger
minced fresh garlic

Preparation
  1. Heat some sesame oil in a pan, add the ginger and garlic, and stir fry till aromatic, then add the bell peppers, carrots and collard greens
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients for the stir-fry sauce, adjust flavors to taste and keep handy; usually, I make more than needed and save the rest for another day
  3. When veggies are slightly tender, add in the sauce, stir fry, and finish cooking.
  4. Garnish with spring onions and toasted sesame seeds

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Bitter gourd is another favorite of mine, which is an acquired taste for many, thanks to its -- er, bitterness.

Indian bitter gourd is about 5 inches long and deeply ridged with a darkish green skin. Chinese bitter melon is about 7 inches long, or even 8 inches, with thicker flesh and lighter color and milder flavor, still quite bitter, of course. I like both varieties, and each lends itself well to certain types of dishes, as in the many bitter gourd and bitter melon recipes shared here.

Tempeh, fermented soy beans, lends itself to many interesting additions. Here, it is sauteed with onions and spices and used as a stuffing for Indian bitter gourd.




Bitter gourd is gently slit and the seeds are carefully removed first, then par cooked in boiling salted water before stuffing and pan-cooking.

Ingredients
1 cup crumbled or diced tempeh
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp freshly grated ginger

4 Indian bitter gourd
1 Tbsp tamarind paste (sold as Sour Soup base in Asian stores)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 cup vegetable broth
salt to taste

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Preparation

  1. Heat some oil in a pan, add the tempeh and the spices with a splash of broth, cover and cook the filling
  2. Meanwhile, slit, remove the seeds, and par cook the bitter gourd in boiling salted water till slightly tender; drain and pat dry
  3. Stuff the slit par-cooked bitter gourd with the spiced tempeh mix
  4. Stir the tamarind paste, remaining broth, and brown sugar and keep handy for basting
  5. Heat some oil in a cast iron skillet, place the stuffed bitter gourd, add the basting liquid from the previous step, cover and cook till bitter gourd is softer and has absorbed the flavors from the liquid
  6. Remove the lid and continue to cook if a crispy bottom is preferred
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It's been a while since I posted any new recipes here. I've been making some of the staple comfort foods that I've already posted here, plus, I've been lazy.

The never-ending title for this post is basically the ingredients list. Eggplant is eggplant: people love it or can't stand it. I am crazy about it, as can be seen from the zillion-odd eggplant recipes here featuring this gorgeous purple berry.

The spices bring in the kick that eggplant seems to lack. Also, cooking the eggplant just enough so it is tender but nor mushy brings some texture to this dish that can be appealing.

Ingredients
 6 Italian eggplants, sliced into long wedges
1 medium onion, sliced thinly

spice/flavoring:
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
½ tsp nigella seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
6 to 8 curry leaves
2 Tbsp roasted peanuts

salt to taste
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
2 Tbsp vegetable oil for sautéing

Preparation

  1. Toast the spice/flavoring ingredients on medium low heat till aromatic, just a few minutes, then cool a bit and grind to a coarse powder and keep handy
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the grated ginger, turmeric powder, onions and the cut eggplant; sprinkle some salt, stir well and cook till partly done
  3. Add in the spice/flavoring powder from step 1 and toss to incorporate well, continue cooking till eggplant is cooked to your liking
  4. Garnish with cilantro and serve warm as-is or with a side of brown rice or quinoa

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