Orange Slices with Cinnamon, Brown Sugar, and Candied Ginger

Candied Spices


6 Navel Oranges, peeled and cut into ½-inch-thick slices
¼ cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon minced candied ginger

Arrange the orange slices side by side on a serving platter. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and candied ginger and sprinkle over the oranges. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature, and serve.

Variation: substitute grapefruit slices for the oranges

© 2008 Nina Simonds “China Express”


Cardamon Rice

6 Cups Cooked Rice

There’s nothing more basic or delicious than fragrant white rice, particularly when you toss in a few smashed pods of cardamom. I prefer the fluffy long-grain varieties such as Basmati and jasmine, which are sold in Asian markets. The cooking time varies depending on the rice, so test the rice for doneness and cook until JUST tender. It will continue cooking even after being removed from the heat.

2 cups long-grain rice
3 pods cardamom, smashed with the flat side of a knife
3 1/4 cups water

  1. Put the rice in a bowl and, using your fingers as a rake, rinse the rice under cold running water to remove some of the talc. Drain the rice in a strainer.
  2. Put the rice, water, and smashed cardamom in a heavy, 2-quart saucepan with a lid. Heat, uncovered, to the boiling point. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the water has evaporated and craters appear on the surface. Remove from the heat and fluff lightly with a fork to separate the grains. Serve, or, if using for fried rice, spread the rice out in a thin layer on a tray. Let cool completely, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

© Copyright Nina Simonds 2008

Spicy Garlic Soba With Mushrooms And Greens

Versatile Noodles

six to eight servings

Nutty Japanese soba, or buckwheat, noodles are extremely versatile. They can be served cold or hot in soups and stir-fried dishes. Here, soba noodles are mixed with wild mushrooms, Chinese garlic chives, and bok choy. Serve this as a light lunch or dinner, or as a vegetable or staple side dish.

Spicy Garlic Soba with Mushrooms and Greens

½ pound shiitake mushrooms, rinsed and drained

½ pound cremini mushrooms, minced and drained

1 pound bok choy or baby Chinese cabbage, stem ends trimmed

½ pound soba noodles

2½ tablespoons canola or virgin olive oil

3½ cups garlic chives cut into 1-inch lengths (if not available, use shredded leeks with 3 tablespoons chopped garlic)

1 teaspoon dried chile flakes (optional)

5 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or sake

5 ½ tablespoons light soy sauce, or to taste

  1. Remove and discard the stems from the shiitake mushrooms. Trim the cremini stem ends. Cut the mushroom caps into thin slices.
  2. Cut the bok choy on the diagonal into ½-inch sections, separating the leafy parts from the stalk sections.
  3. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the stalk sections of bok choy and cook for about 2 minutes, then add the leafy parts and cook for 1 minute, until just tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and refresh under cold running water in a strainer. Drain thoroughly. Bring the water to a boil again and add the soba noodles. Once the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat slightly and cook for 3½ minutes, until al dente. Drain in a colander and rinse the noodles under warm running water. Drain again.
  4. Heat a large wok or a skillet until very hot. Add the oil and heat until hot, about 10 seconds. Add the garlic chives and dried chile flakes, if using, and stir-fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the sliced mushrooms and stir-fry over medium-low heat. Add the rice wine or sake, cover, and cook for 3 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender. Uncover and turn the heat to high. Add the bok choy and soy sauce, and toss lightly over high heat to heat through. If the soba noodles are sticking together in clumps, rinse in a colander under cold running water. Drain thoroughly. Add the noodles and toss lightly to mix and heat through. Scoop out onto a serving platter and serve immediately.

Copyright Nina Simonds “Spices of Life” 2008

Grilled Swordfish with Avocado and Tomato Salsa

A recipe for six servings

I first tasted freshly-caught grilled seafood with salsas right on the beach in a small restaurant in Mexico. Wrapped in warm flour tortillas, they make an ideal lunch or dinner. But you can skip the tortilla and serve this dish with another staple such as rice or quinoa.

1 ½ pounds swordfish steaks, about 1 to 1 ½ inches thick, or a firm-fleshed fish fillet, such as cod, haddock, or mahi mahi, rinsed lightly and drained
For the marinade, mixed together:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons dry white vermouth or white wine
1 recipe tomato-avocado salsa, prepared as directed (See recipe below)

  1. Put the fish fillets in a bowl. Add the marinade and toss lightly to coat.
  2. Put the prepared Tomato Avocado Salsa into a serving bowl and cover tightly.
  3. Prepare a medium-hot fire for grilling or preheat a gas grill, and place the rack about 3 inches above the coals. Arrange the fish steaks on the grill and cook covered until the meat turns opaque, basting with the marinade, for about 7 to 8 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the fillet.
  4. Carefully slide the fish off the grill onto plates and serve. Each diner puts some swordfish on a flour tortilla, spoons some of the salsa on top, rolls it up, and eats it with his or her fingers.

© 2008 Nina Simonds

Avocado Tomato Salsa

Makes about 5 to 6 cups

This salsa is delicious, easy, and versatile. I serve it with many grilled foods, including seafood, pork or chicken. It’s also excellent as a dip with tortilla chips. To preserve the salsa and prevent it from darkening, bury the pits in it, cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator.

¾ pound ripe tomatoes, rinsed and drained, and stems removed
2 avocados, peeled, pit removed and cut into ¼-inch dice
juice of 1 lime, about 4 ½ tablespoons
1 jalapeno pepper, or to taste, cored, and seeded
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup minced scallion greens
2 tablespoons fruity extra- virgin olive oil
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt

  1. Remove the stems from the tomatoes, cut in half, and scoop out the seeds. Cut the tomatoes into ½- inch dice and put in a serving bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and carefully stir to mix evenly. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Use as directed in the recipe or serve with any type of grilled meat, seafood, or vegetable.

© 2008 Nina Simonds

Disclaimer: Herbs, foods, and other natural remedies are not substitutes for professional medical care.
For a specific health problem, consult a qualified health-care giver for guidance.