Balinese Sambal Matah

Many of you may or may not have heard of sambal. Sambal itself is typically a mixture of chilies and a variety of other ingredients making it one really, really good condiment. Most of us are probably aware of the default Asisan sambal oelek, the red condiment found in Asian markets, or in your ethnic aisle at your grocery store, however there are lots of other varieties. Sambal matah is one of those, and it’s a force to be reckoned with. Simple ingredients make this sambal super addicting.

Sambal Matah Recipe
Sambal Matah Recipe

This is what is known as a raw sambal using fresh ingredients such as chilies, shallots, and lemongrass.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 5 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 8 Thai bird’s eye chilies, thinly sliced
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, tender parts (near the bottom) only, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (Red Boat or 3 Crab brand)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, warmed until a liquid

That’s it, and trust me when this is all mixed it is a powerhouse of flavor.

Once you have done all of your chopping and slicing, mix everything in a bowl. That’s it.

This sambal matah goes great (in my opinion) with pretty much anything. I’ve even caught myself just eating it by the spoonful. If you love the combination of shallots and chilies, then this will be right up your alley. This sambal is sweet, salty, sour, and spicy. Store this in an airtight container in the refrigerator (if it lasts that long) and serve as a condiment with your favorite dishes throughout the week.

You can find the fish sauce, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves at any of your local Asian markets. Hope you enjoy!

Sopa de Ajo (Bread Soup with Garlic)

Lately I told you that I was making a lot of homemade bread lately.  It was a process that kept me occupied while I fought my time with cancer. I was probably making it so much that my kids were getting slightly bored with the fact that there would be a fresh loaf of bread waiting for them when they got home. Sure, everyone would tear off, or cut off a piece of the bread, swipe it in some softened butter and move along their way, but there were a few times where I was left with too much bread. That’s when the lightbulb went off in my head to use the leftover bread and make a Spanish style soup called sopa de ajo. This is not only a great and tasty soup loaded with flavor, but it is a great use of day old bread!

Sopa de Ajo Recipe
Sopa de Ajo Recipe

I’ll admit that it is not the prettiest of soups but the flavor and simplicity make up for it.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 head of garlic, skin removed, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 loaf of day old French or country bread, torn into 1 inch pieces, lightly toasted
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of pinot grigio or some version of dry white wine
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten
  • salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper to taste
What is not to love about this, right?
Start by heating up your soup pot on medium heat. Add in the oil, then add in the garlic, cooking for a couple of minutes. After a couple of minutes, add in the Spanish paprika and give it a good stir. Add in the bread and give another good stir. Keep stirring the bread until it begins to get a little bit of crust on the bread. The day old bread should already be a bit hard but trying to get a little color on it works.
After a few minutes, of cooking that bread, add in the wine, and give that a good stir. Cook for a few minutes to get rid of some of that alcohol, then add in the stock.
Sopa de Ajo Ingredients
Sopa de Ajo Ingredients

Bring the stock to a boil, then drizzle in the beaten eggs, stirring along the way. Cook for a few more minutes, then season with about 1 teaspoon of salt, and a few cracks of black pepper. Taste and season with more salt and pepper should you desire.

Ladle into a soup bowl, and dig in. This sopa de ajo is so comforting. Yes, it’s way too simple, but it is super hearty and a great use of that leftover bread. If you are looking for a great and easy soup, and one that is perfect during these rainy and cold fall days then give this one a shot. Hope you enjoy!

Filipino Tinola Halang Halang

Soup season is here. I love it. I might talk about soup two times a week, throwing out ideas, in hopes of making more soup. There is something about it. A bowl of pretty much the basic stuff, but there are always extras laying around to throw into the pot. Me? I’m hot sauce, herbs, chilies, fried garlic or shallots. Heck, sometimes an egg, a little more something, something. Who knows? That’s the great question about soup, and something that I always love.

I mentioned in the past about how much I love Filipino chicken tinola. It is a Pinoy recipe from what I know from my father-in-law, and one of pure comfort. The soup is a take on classic chicken soup in its basic form, but jazzed up a bit. This type of soup is what makes us happy and warms our body.  Coconut milk, Thai chilies, chicken? Ready?

This is (my take) Filipino Tinola Halang Halang.

Filipino Tinola Halang Halang
Filipino Tinola Halang Halang

Let’s get to it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup ginger, cleaned and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 1 russet potato, cleaned and cut into bite sized cubes (optional)
  • 1 whole chicken, breasts, legs, wings, and thighs, cut into pieces
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 cup of water
  • 15 oz can of coconut milk
  • 8 Thai chilies (preference 2 per bowl)
  • 1 whole lemongrass stalk, top part removed, trim tender bottom part
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce, to taste
  • 1 bunch of spinach, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • jasmine rice, cooked

Start by heating the oil in your large dutch oven, or medium sized soup pot, on medium heat.

Next, add in your onion and ginger and give that a stir, cooking until it slightly begins to softens, about 4 minutes. Next toss in the garlic, and give that a good stir, cooking for about a minute.

Now add in your chicken pieces, moving the onion mixture around so that you are able to brown up some of the chicken skin. Cook the chicken for about 20 minutes, turning halfway through. After 20 minutes, add in the lemongrass, chicken stock, water, coconut milk, salt, pepper, and fish sauce. Add in the potatoes if you will be using them. Give this a good stir.

Filipino Tinola Halang Halang Ingredients
Filipino Tinola Halang Halang Ingredients

Cover, and cook this mixture on medium-low heat for about 30-45 minutes. Lastly add in the bunch of spinach, and Thai chilies, and give another stir. Cook for about 10 more minutes or until the spinach is wilted and cooked through.

Now it is time to serve. Ladle in the soup into your bowl, making sure you get pieces of chicken, potatoes, onion, etc. Garnish with more chilies should you desire or some fried shallots and get ready to dig in.

I like to serve mine with a side bowl of rice. This allows me to spoon some of that wonderful coconut broth and then chase it with some rice. This is everything you will love about Filipino tinola, but one with a twist. I mean you can’t go wrong with coconut milk, chilies, and chicken soup on a cool, Fall day. Hope you enjoy!

Homemade Baklava using D’Vash

I find it interesting that over the last few months there are a couple of boxes of fillo dough and puff pastry in my freezer. I’m almost certain I had a couple of ideas bouncing around in my head during those purchases, but it was not until team members from D’Vash Organics contacted me once again to partner with them in creating yet another great recipe using their amazing D’Vash Date Nectar.  That’s when I knew exactly what I was going to make. A traditional baklava, in some ways, but using D’Vash date nectar in replace of honey. The result was mind blowing to say the least.

Homemade Baklava using D'Vash
Homemade Baklava using D’Vash

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 rolls or 1 box of fillo dough, thawed
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups of shelled pistachios
  • 2 cups of walnuts
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of D’Vash date nectar
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Start by making your sweet sauce that will be used after the baklava has baked. You will want to do this ahead so that it has time to cool.

Add 3/4 cup of sugar, water, lemon juice, and D’Vash date nectar to a small pot. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, then once boiling reduce the heat and cook for about 5 more minutes. Stir along the way. After 5 minutes, remove from the heat and let it cool.

Now the backbreaking work. Just kidding. This is the only time consuming part, and if you are having your kids help, this can take a bit of patience as unlayering each piece of fragile fillo can be a bit nerve wracking. Just make sure your fillo dough is completely thawed. I set mine out the day before and place it in the refrigerator overnight for a day or two to ensure it is completely thawed.

Get a baking sheet out, or if your are super detailed get a baking dish out that will fit your sheet of fillo dough. I go with my baking sheet and make sure that when I layer each fillo that it matches up with the previous fillo dough.

Make the sugar and nut mixture. To a food processor, or use a knife if you desire, pulse the nuts into a fine chop. Add the nuts to a bowl along with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon and give that a good mix.

Get your bowl of melted butter ready along with a pastry brush. Unroll a roll of fillo and get ready to baklava!

Place 10 fillo sheets onto the baking sheet one at a time, and brush each sheet with butter once it’s in the pan before adding the next sheet of fillo.  After the 10th sheet, spread about 1/5 of nut mixture over the fillo dough.

Do the same process, but this time layer only 5 sheets, buttering each sheet, then on the 5th sheet, top with the nut and sugar mixture.

Do this about 4 more times with the 5 sheet layer process, then on the final top, go back to the 10 stack of fillo, ensuring that all nut mixture is used up before layering the top 10 sheets of fillo.

Butter the top of the 10th sheet, then gently push down and form the baklava.

Homemade Baklava Ingredients using D'Vash
Homemade Baklava Ingredients using D’Vash

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Now let’s cut the baklava. Cut the fillo into about 2 inch strips, lengthwise, then make diagonal cuts to make somewhat of a diamond shape. If you want to keep things simple, just cut into rectangles, it’s up to you.

Place the baking sheet into the oven and cook for about 1 hour, up to 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Once the baklava is a great golden brown, remove from the oven, and immediately ladle over the cooled syrup you made earlier, ensuring that you get into all of those crevices.

Now the hard part… waiting.

The goal is to not only let the baklava cool, but you want that syrup to penetrate all of that great fillo that you took your time stacking. After about 4 hours, go ahead and try the baklava, but trust me the longer you wait, the better it gets. Kids approved, neighbors and friends approved, and chef approved.

If you are looking for a great treat that will be sure to please everyone (with the exception of those with nut allergies), then give this baklava a try. The replacement of D’Vash really made this baklava stand out. It had this subtle tartness that really made this delicious baklava pop.

If you are wanting to try D’Vash Organics Date Nectar (and I highly recommend it), then head over to their store and pick some up. My lucky readers can use the coupon code DVASHSIMPLECOMFORTFOOD upon check out! Hope you enjoy D’Vash as much as we do!