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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sucrine du Berry and Chanterelle Quinoa "Risotto"

Everyone has an activity reserved just for the "alone" moments.  Some are more glamorous than others.. for example, changing into your birthday suit once you know you'll be alone for a while.  Some like to watch the original versions of foreign movies or TV shows.  Some like to slip on their wive's red stilettos and feel comfortable.  These secret little pleasures are not necessarily bad or wrong.  They are just the only moments we can share with ourselves when we know there will be un-interrupted alone-ness for a short time.. so we do something we almost never do, but we get a high out of.  I don't have one of those strange stiletto fetishes, but I do know that I don't have the evening to myself very often.. but tonight.. it was just me and the animals.. and my "fetish" is to listen to Ravi Shankar's intro to the Concert for Bangladesh while cooking something incredibly classy.  My recent trip to the market included a small sucrine du berry, a French squash similar to the butternut, calling my name with it's "Hey, I'm in season right this second!!" pitch.  My stilettos tonight are seasonal, but never closed toed.  They are sweetly roasted squash with wild chanterelle mushrooms and some exotic long pepper from java... and speaking to the inner voice out loud and without restraint.  I really couldn't have done a better pairing job if I had tried..
Serves 4
1.5kg (3.3 lb) sucrine du berry or butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
300g (10.5 oz) chanterelle mushrooms, wiped clean
1 bunch fresh spinach, washed
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 3/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 sprig fresh sage, chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 pinch angel hair chile (or 1/4 tsp chile powder)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 Javanese long peppers, ground in a mortar
few pinches fleur de sel
2 Tbsp heavy cream
parmesan for garnish
drizzle truffled olive oil in your plate
1.  Toss the squash cubes with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil and a pinch of fleur de seul.  Bake for about 40-50 minutes at 190°C 375°F.
2.  Bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a pot and add the quinoa, a few pinches of the long pepper, one of the garlic cloves, angel hair chile, sage, and nutmeg. Cover and simmer until the liquid has mostly absorbed.
3.  Prepare the spinach.  Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a wide, heavy based pan or wok.  Add the fresh spinach and one of the garlic cloves along with a pinch of fleur de sel.  Cook until wilted and reserve.
4.  Prepare the chanterelles.  In that same pan, add the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil along with the chanterelle mushrooms and the rest of the garlic.  Cook, stirring until they start to release liquid.  Add a pinch of fleur de sel and cook for 2 minutes longer.
5.  By now the quinoa should have mostly absorbed the liquid.  Transfer into the pan with the chanterelles.  Stir, cover, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa starts to look pearly.  I'm not really good at giving exact times.. sorry, but I was on an incredible musical high that I didn't pay attention to such details.
6.  Add in the baked sucrine squash cubes along with most of the rest of the pepper.  Stir without pulverizing the squash bits to have them evenly distributed through the dish.  Taste and add some fleur de sel if needed.
7.  The most important step is the cream.  Not because there is much of it.. but because it really binds all the flavors together.  Don't skip the stirring in of the cream.  It's the last little detail that will knock your socks off.
Serve by laying a light bed of sautéed spinach at the bottom of your dish, then the risotto mixture over it.. sprinkled with a bit of grated parmesan, another touch of the Javanese long pepper, and for the most "gourmands" a drizzle of truffled olive oil.

This dish is worthy of any high end venue.. such as my Stiletto-Evening-Chateau..

The Javanese long pepper leaves an almost clove like sensation but with a numbing pepper taste on the front of the tongue.  The truffled olive oil plays at the back of the mouth and you can taste the pair as you breath in.  Sage and squash such as this one is a no brainer.. they go so well together I'm not even sure how to use fresh sage other than with butternut or sexy squash.  The bed of sautéed spinach  is there not only for color contrast but for the earthy flavor that pairs well with the chanterelles.
This dinner was just perfection at its peak.

I'm going to put on my green stilettos and have some piment d'espelette ice cream for dessert now...

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Roasted Celery Root and other Oddities

Celery root is a strange strange vegetable.  It certainly does not look appetizing in its raw root form.  It's mostly eaten here grated as a salad with lots of mayo and cream.  It's interesting, though, because it has the pungent taste of celery but without all the stalks.  The root is white and can be used in purees such as mashed potatoes or soup.
Why doesn't anybody ever roast the thing?  Afraid of too much textural confusion?  Roasting is my favorite way of subliming quality ingredients in their own fragrance.  I added some other oddities such as white turnip and sweet potato, then some other tid bits to make it a bit more colorful than just.. white.
Then it ended up making enough for 5 people, although it was originally just for me.  No worries... I am quite good at bringing the best out of individuals..
Serves 5
1/2 celery root, peeled
1 white sweet potato, peeled
1 long white turnip, peeled
2 carrots, peeled
1 red onion, peeled
4 cloves garlic, sheathed
1 large green chile, seeded
a few brussels sprouts, halved (optional)
1 tsp fleur de sel
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
pinch angel hair chile or chile powder
1 Tbsp raspberry vinegar
few sprigs fresh dill
1.  Cut all the vegetables into like size chunks and toss everything but the vinegar and dill together with the olive oil.
2.  Bake in the oven for approximately 1 hour at 200°C 400°F, shaking the pan around from time to time.
Nice.  Isn't that nice?
3.  Drizzle a bit of that raspberry vinegar on and top with some dill before serving... with for example..
some mackerel filets..
or a chile avocado burger..

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Aglio e Basilico Spaghetti Pescatore

I don't know what's going on, but I've been craving spicy pasta and noodles.  I'm also going through major cuisine ADD.  Seriously, within a single week, I can go through a Mexican, Indian, Chinese, French, American, and Italian phase...with rest on The 7th day...
The craving hits between 2-3pm, and my mind goes through several brainstorms with the inner voice before settling down on the perfect solution.  Today, I wanted some mega garlic with spicy mouthfuls of summer plancha squid tentacles.  A few months ago, I overestimate what 2 people could eat in one sitting during a plancha craving.  I ate everything that wouldn't keep, and saved the grilled squid tentacles sliced in a freezer bag to retrieve during a future craving.
That day has come...
I picked up this green garlic and basil spaghetti near the Italian border and I've been waiting for it to spring up on me in this way.  Ah coming home, placing Maurice, my bearded dragon on my shoulder while speaking with my now 27 year old brother, wishing him a happy birthday, then sitting down to this.. what a perfect evening of the day today has been!
Garlic and Basil Spaghetti in a Spicy Tomato Seafood Sauce
Serves 5-6
1 lb - 500g garlic basil spaghetti (I found De Luca's artisanal brand) cooked al dente
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 large green chile, seeded and diced
4 garlic cloves, grated
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 can Italian tomato pulp + 1 can water
zest from 1 lemon
lots of freshly cracked black pepper
1 large pinch angel hair chile (or 1/2 tsp chile powder)
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
pinch fleur de sel
grated parmesan, to garnish
1.  Heat the oil in a heavy based pan or wok and cook the onion until translucent.
2.  Add the diced chile, basil, and garlic, and cook until fragrant.
3.  Add the tomato pulp and lemon zest.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes.
4.  Add the pepper, angel hair chile, and balsamic vinegar.  It might get a bit thick and dangerously spurt.  At this point, add some water, but no more than 1 can.  Simmer for another 5 minutes.
5.  Add in the cooked and sliced squid tentacles.  Since these are already cooked, just heat them need to further cook.
6.  Taste and add some fleur de sel as needed.  The squid may have released some of its salty seawater, so don't oversalt here.
7.  Toss with the al dente spaghetti.

Serve garnished with grated parmesan.
Then.. don't tell anyone you went for seconds.. please!
This could work with any type of seafood.  The sauce would go well with anything from mussels, clams, calamari, or even a can of drained squid.  I just used some grilled tentacles I had in the freezer, but oohhh yes clams.  I will definitely be making this again with fresh clams... letting them steam over the sauce and have their magic drip in instead of adding that can of water.

I haven't been this satisfied with a pasta dish in a very very long time.  I didn't follow a recipe, I just followed my inner voice which seems to guide me everywhere I place my hands..

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Dan Dan Mian with Udon Noodles

Slick oily spicy umami chewy Sichuan noodles.  The kind you slurp up and have to wipe your running nose after eating.  That's the kind of luxury these Dan Dan noodles bring to your life.
I'd been imagining these all day and made all the careful chili oil preparations when I realized I may be having company over that doesn't know me.  This isn't really a problem, it's just that people that know me expect to be eating something out of the ordinary when at my table.. some people do not do well with unknown flavors.
Lucky for me, everything went smoothly.. and I didn't even have a drop of red chili oil left after the meal!
Inspired by Yi Reservation
Serves 3
230g (8oz) dried udon noodles
1 handful fresh spinach (I didn't have any so I left it out)
250g (9oz) ground turkey or pork
115g (4oz) preserved mustard or radish green, chopped
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tsp ginger, grated
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp five spice
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp grated garlic
2 tsp sesame paste (or tahini)
3 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp ground Sichuan peppercorns
1 Tbsp Mirin or 1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp black vinegar
2 + 2 Tbsp red chili oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 cup boiling hot water
chopped scallions (I used leek greens)
crushed peanuts
1.  Prepare the "meat" ingredients.  Heat the oil in a wok and add the ground turkey, ginger, garlic, and preserved greens.  Stir fry until cooked through, then add the five spice and deglaze with the soy sauce.  Watch out because the preserved greens are already salty, so don't overdo it with the soy sauce.  Cook until nice and brown and almost crispy.  Reserve.
2.  Cook the noodles with the spinach.  My dried Udon cooked for 5 minutes until they attained their desired chewy texture.  Then drain and rinse.
3.  While that is happening, prepare the sauce.  Stir everything but the chili oil and hot water together in a bowl until nice and smooth.  This may take some time because tahini tends to thicken with liquid.  Add 2 Tbsp of the chili oil and the boiling cup of water.  Stir well, finger taste test to see if the spiciness is enough.  I left the other 2 Tbsp on the table and added it onto my plate.
4.  Assemble.  Place home hot udon noodles and spinach in a bowl, spoon a few Tbsp of the sauce over the noodles.  Add some of the meat, then garnish with chopped scallions and crushed peanuts... and a few extra spoonfuls of red chili oil... if you can handle it.
Yes, you can eat this with chopsticks.. it's a slurp-with-face-near-bowl experience but its is the best way to enjoy this.

The spiciness was incredible.  I highly recommend making your own red chili oil.
I also discovered preserved radish greens.. which is very interesting.  They are pickled, crunchy, and salty, but with this earthy pleasant flavor.  Don't skip the preserved greens!

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Chinese Red Chili Oil

There is something hypnotizing about red chili oil.  I've made cold olive oil infused with red chiles chile oil before, but this one is the specific one used in some of the best Chinese noodle recipes, hot infused and filtered for a pristine red hot ma la condiment.  Traditionally, it is made with peanut oil but since I didn't have any, I used coconut oil and grape seed oil.  Neutral oils that are slightly healthier than peanut oil, but work fine since they are not fragrant like olive oil.  I mixed the two because coconut oil solidifies at room temperature, and I wanted a liquid result.
Inspired by ChinaSichuanFood
Yield 5 Tbsp
3 Tbsp coconut oil
3 Tbsp grape seed (or sunflower) oil
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
3 Tbsp dry roasted and ground red chiles
2 tsp dry roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns
1 inch knob of ginger
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1.  Place everything in a ceramic bowl except the oil, cinnamon, and star anise.
2.  Heat the oil in a sauce pan with the cinnamon and star anise.
3.  When it starts to sizzle, wait about 30 seconds for the cinnamon to "unravel," then remove the anise and cinnamon.
4.  Pour the hot oil into the bowl over all the other ingredients.  It will foam up, but then reduce a bit.
5.  Let infuse and cool down for at least 3 hours.
6.  Strain with a fine mesh or cheesecloth to achieve the pristine red liquid that will blow your head off.

I dipped my finger in to measure the spiciness and I was not disappointed!
I used this in Dan Dan Mian which resulted in an extremely spicy Ma La heaven...

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Salt Cod Soup with Angel Hair Chile

Salt cod (morue salée) is not something you should take lightly.
Salting cod is a method used often in Portugal to preserve it.  In addition to preserving the fish, it helps it keep a wonderful meaty texture once it's been rehydrated and cooked.  You must not just "wing it" for cooking.  I tried that and realized my mistake.  To re-animate the dry salted fish, it needs to go through a soaking and rinsing process that can 12-24 hours depending on how dry it is.  Once you get paste that, it is quite a treat.  A traditional Portugese use is in Bacalhau, a baked emulsion of salted cod, olive oil, and potatoes.  I wanted to go for something soupy.. and I was not disappointed..
Serves 3
300g salt cod, soaked and rinsed during at least 24 hours
1 extra large handful cauliflower florets
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 onion, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 serving pan fried brussel sprouts
3 cups chicken broth
few pinches angel hair chile (or chile powder)
lots of fresh cracked pepper
please no salt!
1.  Make sure not to skip on soaking and rinsing time on that salt cod... if you do, it will be inedible.  Remove from soaking water and cut into pieces.
2.  Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions.  Cook until translucent, then add the carrots.
3.  Cook, stirring for a few minutes until things start to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Add in the cod, cauliflower, and broth.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes.
4.  Now comes the creamy part.  Using an immersible hand blender, give it 3 or 4 pulses.  This will thicken the soup and give it a creamy texture without the addition of actual cream.  I like my soups chunky, so I didn't blend it too much.
4.  Add the peas, pepper, pan fried brussel sprouts, and angle hair chile.  Simmer for another 5 minutes.  Taste and add more water if it's too salty (which you shouldn't have to do if you respected the soaking time).

Serve hot

This rather comforting and filling soup is actually quite healthy.  I was going for more of a chowder-style soup which is generally full of flour and cream to get it thick, and this came out chowder-like but without all those extra fillers.  I am no longer afraid of using salt cod.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Masoor and Toor Dal with Leeks

During a never-ending 4-5 hour drive home with never changing landscape, my mind struggles between dozing off (if I'm a passenger), singing (if there's good music such as Elvis or Cream in today's case), or concocting taste hallucinations in my mind (during any life situation, really.)
Today's taste hallucination involved some chopped leek greens I keep in my freezer whenever a recipe calls for the whites or tender parts of leeks.  Those green parts are quite useful in any leek situation, or in a green onion deficient situation.  They are pretty much the same vegetable, aren't they?  Leeks are just green onions on steroids.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
So when I'm out of town all week with no kitchen (it's torture to not have a single centimeter of kitchen during a whole week.. at least a fridge and microwave please??? but no.. not this week) I have taste hallucinations all week.  I've been currently taste hallucinating butternut squash roasted with apples, ginger, and drizzled with orange juice.. and also some golden egg style paneer in a cashew sauce.. and also some sprouted whole mung curry.
The thing is.. when I finally get home, I don't go food shopping, so I have to adapt my imaginative desires to my real life supplies... which I don't find to be so much of a challenge as I do during my "coming to" after taste hallucinating.  I have an intelligently stocked freezer and a whole cabinet full of lentils, bean, split peas, and rice.  Why should coming home after a week out on a friday at 7:30 pm be considered a hamper to my meal plan?  Well, it isn't once I get my hands on my happy place!
The secret ingredient this time around is Sambar powder.  That stuff is amazing.  It adds another dimension to the dish.  I'm talking beyond space time.  You know the 3 coordinates + time = 4 dimensions.  Well.. I'm giving you the taste-time coordinate.  Because how you process the taste depends on the mood at the time.  Something delicious may appear bland if you're not in a receptive mood.  Inversely, something ridiculously bland may taste exceptional if ingested at a dopamine-high moment of the psyche.
I may have gone out of hand again with my explanations, but what I was aiming for was the comfort emotion (and therefore taste).  Emergency items I always have on hand dried such as rice, beans, split peas, or lentils are always useful on evenings such as tonight, to bring my comfort as well as joy and a real world offering to one of my taste hallucinations.
Serves 4
1/2 cup masoor dal (red lentils), washed
1/2 cup toro dal (yellow split peas), washed
1 handful chopped leek greens
2 tsp sambar powder
juice from 1 lemon
3-4 cups water
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
pinch hing
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 large red chile, seeded and sliced
1 handful cauliflower
pinch angel hair chile (or chile powder)
salt to taste
1 tsp yogurt per serving (optional)
1.  Soak the washed dal for at least 30 minutes in cold water.
2.  Rinse the dal and place in a pot with the 3 cups water, leek greens, lemon juice, and sambar powder.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
3.  Heat the oil in a wok and add the cumin, fennel, and mustard seeds.  Cook for about 30 seconds until they crackle.
4.  Add the hing, turmeric, curry leaves, ginger, garlic, and sliced chile.  Cook for another 30 seconds, then add the cauliflower florets.  Stir fry for 1-2 minutes, then add to the pot with the dal.
5.  Stir, bring to a boil, then reduce heat.  Taste and add salt if needed, then add the angel hair chile and let infuse for about 1 minute.

Serve piping hot with some basmati rice.. and if you're feeling a bit "gourmand," add a tsp of Greek yogurt into your plate, 
and mix it around before indulging.

Prepare yourself for some serious bliss in all its forms..

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Angel Hair Chile

This morning, shortly after waking, I crossed paths with something incredibly intruiguing.
Tianjin angel hair chile.
I'm not sure if this northern Chinese chile grows as angel hair or if it is just sold that way, but either way, the fact that a new element was introduced to me turned my energy dial from 5 to 10 (10 being the maximum.)
Now, brussels sprouts are something I've never cooked before.  They are a vague distant memory of something quite disgusting, usually mushy and with a foul aftertaste.  But now with a few years of experience and a partly mature brain, I couldn't quite possibly imagine why brussels sprouts would not be delicious.  I mean, they're like baby cabbage.  Cabbage is delicious.  Anything miniature of anything else is also usually delicious (baby carrots, baby corn, baby romanesco, etc).  My challenge of the day was to cook brussels sprouts myself and make them delicious, which in the end was not very difficult to do, especially when you let them keep some texture instead of becoming mush.
Serves 2
300g (10.5oz) brussels sprouts, halved
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig rosemary
2 Tbsp EVOO
juice from 1/2 lemon
few cracks black pepper
pinch Tianjin angel hair chile
1.  Heat the oil in a wok and add in the brussel sprout halves and rosemary.  Cook for about 4-5 minutes until lightly colored, then shake around.
2.  Add in the garlic, black pepper, and angel hair chile.  Cook for another 1-2 minutes, deglazing with the lemon juice.
3.  Remove the rosemary and serve.

Do NOT, pair it with salt cod filets.
DO serve alongside any other non salted fish, chicken, or steak.
You see how the last 3 recipes I've posted go with just about "anything?"

I just learned tonight that salt cod (morue salée) is meant to be eaten in a soup or stew.
That stuff is SALTY!!  Even after rinsing and soaking... please do NOT cook them as filets.  It is not their business being a filet.  It is their business being a condiment or a base for some sort of fish stock.

That angel hair chile worked wonders with the brussels sprouts.  They are not very spicy.  Similar to piment d'espelette.. which have a very distinct flavor and mild heat. 
I very much enjoyed the pairing with this vegetable subzi.
I'd rather warn you.. it will be making an appearance hear and there in many of my dishes from now on.
I'm hooked...

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Leek and Artichoke Quinoa Risotto

Sometimes these things just happen, and they satisfy you when you feel you cannot be comforted.  Thus is the emmersion of this quinoa risotto.
The unplanned event of all these different ingredients came together almost naturally, before I even realized what the final result would be.
That phenomenon has been happening regularly to me lately.  It's as if I'm in a zone where I'm not consciously making any decisions, but just going with the flow.  It's relaxing and surprising at the end as well.  I know I did it, but I don't know why or what was motivating me.
I don't experience moments like that very often in general.. usually only when I'm cooking.
Serves 4 as a side
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and squeezed
1 leek, sliced down the center, then sliced crosswise
handful torn kale (or spinach)
1 small diced red chili (mine was not strong at all)
2-3 Tbsp EVOO
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
lots of cracked black pepper
handful parmesan
chopped basil for garnish
1.  In a heavy based pot, heat half the olive oil, then add the artichoke hearts.  Cook for a few minutes, turning them around so they color evenly.
2.  Add half the garlic, cook for another 2 minutes, then reserve the hearts.
3.  In that same pot, add the rest of the olive oil and brown the leeks until tender while stirring continuously.  This can take about 5-10 minutes.
4.  Add the kale, chile, and rest of the garlic.  Cook until the kale is wilted.
5.  Add the quinoa, black pepper, and broth.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low until the liquid is absorbed.  The quinoa will become pearly and beautiful.
6.  Before serving, stir in the yogurt and parmesan.  This should make it nice and creamy.

Serve garnished with some chopped basil.
I served mine alongside some roasted chicken thighs.  The next day with an over-easy egg, and then another time with half an avocado.  This really pairs nicely with anything or can be eaten on its own as a meal because.. well, isn't risotto a meal?

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Roasted Roots drizzled in Raspberry Vinegar

Roots have been lingering...
I was longing for something sexy and spicy at the same time.  Sexy because there are purple and orange vegetables.  Spicy with red and green chile peppers, tangy with the raspberry vinegar.  I knew it would be a winning combination I wanted to pair with something I recently bought in the "Spanish" section of the grocery store called angulitos.  The angulitos in their little can called out to me so loudly that I was already in line ready to pay for my groceries when the urge was greater than my resistance.  I held up the line while I ran back to the "world" aisle to grab that little can of angulitos.
Judging by the name and the picture on the cardboard box, I had assumed they were mini eels in olive oil.  My multilingual brain must have played a trick on me.  In French, anguille is an eel, so in Spanish, angulito must be small eel, right?
I think this fish stuff was made to look like small eel, but is actually just a sort of shredded surimi in olive oil.  It doesn't make it bad, but I was expecting somewhat of a marinated anchovy party of baby eels..
Anyway, it worked well as the protein part of my roots.
Have I mentioned I love purple vegetables.. especially when mixed with orange ones.. ooh I think I just now this instant got excited for fall!
Serves 2
3 carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
1 large beet, peeled and cut into sticks
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into sticks
1 red chile, seeded and cut into chunks
1 green chile, seeded and cut into chunks
3 shallots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp thyme
1/2 tsp fleur de sel
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
Few drizzles raspberry vinegar
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1.  Toss all the vegetables with the thyme, fleur de sel, and olive oil.
2.  Spread out evenly on a baking sheet and cook for 30 to 40 minutes in a 190°C 375°F oven.
3.  Remove and serve topped with chopped cilantro and a drizzle of raspberry vinegar.

I served mine with angulitos, but this would have gone well with just about any fish, meat, or egg.
The flavors were perfectly balanced with the natural sweetness coming from roasting the beets, carrots, and sweet potato.  The roasted shallot chunks added another dimension of sweet depth, and the chiles gave it just the right amount of heat.  All was nicely balanced by the tangy drizzle of raspberry vinegar.
I suppose you could use balsamic vinegar as well, but it might stain your pretty orange beauties...

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