Thursday, November 3, 2011

Spicing Things Up

Last week, I found an awesome recipe. In fact, it was so awesome that I decided to make it this Friday and have been looking forward to it all week. The only problem? The recipe is from the UK and I had trouble finding the right ingredients for this incredible feast.

The main ingredients were no problem. The issue was with something called harissa paste. Not only had I never heard of it, but I had no idea where to start looking for it. After a quick Googling, I learned that harissa paste is a spice paste used frequently in cooking in north African countries like Tunisia and Morocco. Apparently, the ingredients differ between countries, or even between households, but it's readily available at supermarkets in the UK. I searched my local health food stores and grocery stores with no luck, so I decided to attempt to make the paste from scratch.

I found a recipe that sounded doable on a Whole Foods recipe app on my phone. The ingredients were easy to find, and I was able to make the paste tonight so it'll be ready for me to use in my recipe tomorrow.

Pastey goodness
Once I made the paste, I decided to try it out for taste in tonight's dinner. I shredded Brussels sprouts and diced a shallot, and sauteed both in olive oil with two cloves of garlic. I added the paste for a little extra kick. The result? Amazing sprouts that literally tasted nothing like sprouts! Success!

Dinner -- miso soup, sauteed sprouts and brown rice

Harissa Paste
4 chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce
8 dried red peppers (I used New Mexico peppers)
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
8 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Remove seeds and stems from dried chilis. Cover with boiling water and leave for 20 minutes to rehydrate.

Preheat a dry skillet over medium-high heat and toast cumin, coriander and caraway seeds until seeds begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cool, and add to a food processor. Grind seeds until they make a powder.

Drain dried chilis and add them to the food processor. Also add chipotle chilis, garlic cloves, olive oil and salt. Blend to a smooth paste.

Transfer to a Tupperware container and refrigerate for up to 2 months.

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