Sunday, March 30, 2008

Clickin' Hour is here!

That crazy time of the month again - last day to Click away!

The Jugalbandits (that's your new collective name, Bee & Jai!) picked a novel theme this month - Metal. My submission is this pic of a corkscrew lying atop a spoon rest- the former pretty much indispensable for us given our penchant for wine and the latter vital to restricting our cooking drippings! :)


Hey Screw, You! :)
(Pardon my french!)

Camera: Nikon D70, kit lens

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mmm ... pancakes!

Us siblings could be called children of a Disney generation - we grew up hooked onto sunday morning Disney cartoons and spent many a summer day perched on a wall or a tree branch reading their comics. And Mickey Mouse made me quite happy - I mean, who couldn't love those fabulously huge ears, that crazy Disney voice that sounded tailor-made for MM, a mouse with a dog (some insist Goofy is a cow!) for a friend, another dog for a pet, such insanity! As much as I've grown past this, and often view Disney productions with a much more skeptical eye, there are some indelible memories associated with this essential piece of our growing years.

So, what does any of this have to do with pancakes? Or even with food? Really. Well, that was the first time we even heard of pancakes - when we saw Mickey eating a ginormous stack of pancakes doused with a mug of maple syrup! Whoa! A mouse can eat a whole stack of those oothappam-lookalikes? Really? And I was filled with this crazy urge to eat those things, I mean - if they made Mickey that happy, they've got to be good, right? Soon after, my sis got hooked onto cooking and started experimenting with various foods (and with us!)

My first meal request was ...

K: Can I have pancakes?
Sis: For dinner?
K: Yessssss!
Sis: You're all crazy, girl!

But she made them anyway!

K: I want a stack of 20 pancakes for dinner.
Sis: You're all crazy, girl. You're just getting 4.
K: *grumble* *grumble* Guess that's better than zero.

Well ... I have no idea how the hell MM ate that stack, I remember struggling to finish those four small pancakes! And they were delicious :)

Anyway, years have gone by, pancakes are not the hot favourite breakfast (or dinner) item very often, mostly because I don't have much of a sweet tooth when it comes to breakfast. But every once in a while, I do get a hankering for these, especially if the recipe has a multi-grain twist to it! This recipe is adapted from Didi Emmons' Vegetarian Planet - such a happy book!

These pancakes worked really well with a simple apple compote - honey crisps with a touch of spices and a light port marinade.

Oat-Corn Pancakes
Goodness sans eggs and sugar!

Servings: About 7 pancakes

1 T unsalted butter
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking soda
1 cup buttermilk

Melt the butter over medium heat till it browns and starts to clarify, and set it aside.
In a food processor, grind the oats and transfer to a bowl.
Mix the cornmeal, salt and baking soda with the oats.
Add the buttermilk and stir well.
Now stir in the butter, continue mixing for a couple of minutes to ensure there are no lumps in the batter.

Heat a griddle to medium hot and grease it lightly.
With a small ladle, pour the batter onto the griddle to form 4-5" pancakes.
Cook till bubbles appear on top of the pancakes, then flip them and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
Keep the cooked pancakes warm in a slow oven while the rest are being made.


Apple Compote
Sweet and spicy fruit love!

Servings: 2 cups of compote (generous to go with 7-8 pancakes)

2 honey crisp apples - cored and cubed

1/2 cup water
2 T port or muscat
1/2 T brown sugar
1/8 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t ground nutmeg
1/8 t ground cloves
1/4 vanilla bean pod (split)
a pinch of salt

In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients except for the apples.
Boil gently till the sugar is dissolved and the mixture thickens (about 5 minutes).
Add the apples and return to a boil, stirring constantly.
Cook till the apples start getting tender and the mixture has thickened around the apple bits (takes about 12-14 minutes).
Take off the heat and remove the vanilla bean pods.
Cool to room temperature before serving.

Note: If you want a super mushy, almost-spreadable compote, continue to cook the apples for another 8-10 minutes.


We ate these pancakes like oothappams - a dollop of compote wrapped in a shred of pancake. Weeeeeeeeeee!!! *so* much of grain and fruit goodness! This goes off to Mansi for the current edition of Weekend Breakfast Blogging - Nandita's brainchild. Thanks, Mansi and Nandita for hosting/starting this event!

And yes, I'm absolutely sending this over to Srivalli - how could I not be part of her fabulous insanity - a Dosa Mela!!! And Bee, what would I do without you - my favourite event reminder :) Thanks, monkee!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mélange - Soups

Wow! This is the longest blogging break ever. Long enough that I started going into withdrawal! Guess that's what happens when work mania takes over. Long hours, little sleep, and not enough cooking - that does not bode well for me!

Guess given how the drafts are piling up, it is time for another Mélange post. This time about a certified favourite subject - soups. We love soups - chunky, pureéd, spicy, hearty ... just bring it! And these bowls of goodness end up being even more appetizing on those cold snowy or rainy days - nothing like a cup'o'soup to warm the soul, huh?

I'm actually having to rack my brains about these recipes as I start to type them up - we made them a few weeks ago and I never did get a chance to write about any of them. Guess that's just one more reason why this whole blogging mania is so awesome - the e-trail that I can use to look up recipes!

All 3 soups featured here are relatively chunky or thick - guess that was a sign of wanting to warm the insides on a cold evening! And all of them have a zing - be it cayenne or green chillies or a healthy dose of garlic. So, if you're hankering for a read about some spicy healthy goodness, you're home!


Spiced Cauliflower Soup

I'm sure cauliflower soups and bisques are a favourite in most households - who can resist the creamy, yet light flavours of this insanely cute looking vegetable? Yes, call me crazy, but I really think the cauliflower is a hottie in the world of vegetables! And this simple soup totally showcased the cauliflower - one of those recipes that completely relies on the quality of the vegetable rather than trying to force a plethora of flavours on it.

Servings: 4

1 small cauliflower - chopped
1 onion - chopped
1 T safflower oil
1 garlic clove - crushed
1 T grated ginger
2 t turmeric powder
1 t cumin seeds
1 t black mustard seeds
2 t freshly ground coriander
4 cups vegetable stock or water
1 cup nonfat yogurt
salt and freshly ground pepper
cilantro or parsley for garnish

Put the cauliflower and onion in a large saucepan with the oil and 3-4 T of water.
Heat till bubbling, then cover the saucepan and turn the heat down.
Cook the mixture for about 10 minutes.
Add the ginger, garlic and spices and stir occasionally for about 2 minutes.
Add the stock (or water) and season with salt and pepper.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Once cooled, puree the liquid to a coarse texture.
Stir in the yogurt and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro or parsley before serving.


Pretty good! We skipped using any potatoes, so the soup was not quite as creamy as we liked, but it ended up being much lighter - which was a good thing. Next time we make this, I think I want it chunky, not pureed - I'm a big fan of cauliflower chunks :)


Vegetable Curry Soup

One fine evening, we were hankering for desi flavours, but nothing too heavy or intense. After poking around some, we decided to go for a light soup-like version of a sambar - we skipped several of the traditional sambar seasonings, even the tamarind and instead settled for the earthy flavour of freshly ground coriander. And the sweet-tart Meyer lemon totally completed the flavours of this soup!

Servings: 4

1 cup red lentils (masoor dal)
2 scallions
3 cloves of garlic - crushed
1" ginger - grated
1 red onion - sliced long
2 carrots - sliced long
1/2 red bell pepper - sliced long
1 cup fresh (or frozen) peas
1 T freshly ground coriander
juice of 1 Meyer lemon
2 bay leaves
1 T olive oil
1 t cayenne pepper

Wash the lentils and put it in a saucepan with 3 cups of water.
Cook covered on low for about 15 minutes till the lentils are cooked, but not mushed up.
In the meantime, heat the oil in a saucepan and saute the onions, ginger and garlic along with the bay leaves.
Chop the whites of the scallions finely and add them to the saucepan.
Add the carrots, bell pepper and peas and saute for 4-5 minutes.
Add the cooked lentils along with the spices and seasonings.
Simmer covered for another 4-5 minutes.
Once the soup is off the stove, stir in the lemon juice and check the seasonings.
Garnish with the chopped scallion greens before serving.


Simple and tasty- the perfect quick fix soup that makes for a lighter version of comfort flavours. And Autumn made a fabulous veggie roast - parsnips, carrots and potatoes from her PO box - the perfect complement to this soup.


West Indian Peanut Soup

Groundnuts - also known as earth nuts, goober peas (That's right!!!), peanuts ... Mmm! I can't imagine a life without these - they're ubiquitous in tropical foods, especially in stews and sauces. I love natural peanut butter over the commercial one which contains salt, sugar and several additives. This soup, often known as a Groundnut Stew, is a great showcase of tropical flavours - we replaced the potato with a turnip and skipped the okra - I'm sure traditionalists will cringe at that, but it takes a *lot* to make me eat okra :)

We adapted this soup from Jay Solomon's recipe in A Taste of the Tropics - a fabulous book, replete with mouthwatering Pacific and Caribbean recipes. Another favourite book of his is the truly brilliant Great Bowls of Fire.

Servings: 4

2 t safflower oil
1 medium sized onion - diced
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 cup of turnip - peeled and diced
5 cups water
5 T unsweetened chunky peanut butter
1/4 cup crushed tomatoes
2 cups shredded kale
2 t dried thyme
2 t ground cumin
1 t freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
cilantro to garnish

Heat the olive oil in a stockpot and saute the onions, ginger and garlic.
Add the turnip and water and cook for 10-12 minutes till the turnip is softened.
Throw in the peanut butter, kale, crushed tomatoes and seasonings and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.
If the peanut butter clumps together, whisk it to blend it into the soup.
Remove from the heat and run a blender through the soup to make a coarse mixture.
Garnish with cilantro before serving.


*wow*! This is seriously one of my favourite soups now. I can't wait to try the chunkier stew version. *drool*! I might even throw in the okra next time around. Cyn, if you're reading this, you better tell me more about variations I can try here - I'm seriously hooked! :)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mélange - Appetizers

Over the last couple of weeks, we made a variety of appetizers that turned out to be insanely simple and totally delightful. Delicious enough that every time I looked at the pictures, I went "Ahhh!" and then balked at the idea of writing a post about each of these :)

So, the idea of this Mélange series was born. We often end up making an assortment of nibbles/dips/desserts, usually for a party, but these usually don't get written about. This consolidated post seems like a good idea for bunching together some of these long overdue posts.

So, without much further ado, I'll start babbling about several nibbles that were insanely easy to assemble and totally kicked ass!


Lavash topped with Brie and Pear Chutney

Lavash is a soft thin yeast bread of Armenian origin - really simple flavours derived from a combination of flour, water and salt. It makes for fabulous wraps and rolls, and even with dips. And last week, we discovered that it makes for a crispy baked base with a variety of toppings.

Servings: 12 pieces

1 sheet of lavash bread
Several thin slices of brie
Pear preserve (recipe follows)

Fire up the oven to 350 F.
Cut up the lavash sheet into 12 pieces - these can often be torn by hand into small pieces.
Top each piece of bread with a slice of brie and a dollop of pear preserve.
Bake for 3-4 minutes till the brie is melted and the edges of the bread are crispy.

Pear Preserve

Servings: fills a pint-sized canning jar

2 pears - peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
1/2 lemon - sliced
1 stick of cinnamon
3 cloves
1 green cardamom

Heat the water in a saucepan and melt the sugar in it.
Add the pears and lemon slices along with the spices.
Simmer till the pears just start to get tender and the syrup thickens around the pear slices.
Pour the pears and the syrup into a canning jar, let it cool before sealing the jar.


The first time we made this snack, we used our friend Daria's pear chutney and some pepper jack cheese over lavash bread. The pear chutney was fabulous, but the jack cheese wasn't quite right. The next time around, we went with some brie and my version of the pear preserve. The combination worked much better, but I still like Daria's version of the pear chutney better - especially because it had sat around enough for the flavours to totally blend - insanely delicious!


This goes to Raaga at Chef At Work for AFAM-March (brainchild of Maheshwari from Beyond the Usual) - the current theme is Pears. Thanks, Raaga - for organizing this edition.


Eggplant Bruschetta with marinated vegetables

This recipe was born when we wanted to make some bruschetta-style nibbles, but had no bread to work with! But we did have a giant eggplant - obviously we often mistake one of these for a giant loaf of bread, right? :) Weeellll, not really, but we could go for a lo-cal bruschetta if we found a way to use these!

Servings: 15-20 pieces

1 large eggplant
8 oz Reduced fat feta cheese - crumbled
10 stalks of pickled asparagus
1 marinated red bell pepper
1 marinated yellow bell pepper
freshly ground pepper
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T olive oil

Fire up the oven to 400 F.

Slice the eggplant into 1/3" thick slices and place then on a greased baking tray.
Brush the eggplant slices with a mixture of the olive oil and vinegar.
Cut the asparagus into 1/2" pieces and mix it with the crumbled feta cheese in a bowl.
Chop the bell peppers into small pieces and throw them into the mixing bowl.
Season with the pepper (and salt if needed).
Top each of the eggplant slices with a generous dollop of the veggie mixture.
Bake for 6-8 minutes till the eggplant is cooked (but still firm) and the cheese is melted.


Eggplants rock. Seriously. I'm often leery of Mr.Big Eggplant, but this was a perfect use for it. The tartness of the marinated vegetables and the juices of the eggplant blended quite nicely with the cheese flavour. And these slices disappeared in *no* time at all :)


Nombu Adais

We do not celebrate nombu (another of those days where the guys get all the attention while the girls slave their asses off), but that does not stop us from working any recipes associated with nombu. Especially the salty nombu adai kind :) We attempted a variation here by skipping the coconut and garnish, instead adding some curly parsley. And we topped each adai with a few drops of thick european yogurt.

Servings: 16

1 cup rice flour
1 cup water
1/2 t ghee (clarified butter)
3 green chillies
1" ginger
1/2 cup packed curly parsley
1 t hing (asafoetida)
salt for seasoning

Roast the rice flour for 5-6 minutes till it start smelling, but before it starts turning brown.
Add water, 1 T at a time to the flour, mixing thoroughly to avoid any lumps.
Grind the green chillies, ginger and parsley into a coarse paste.
Add this paste along with the hing, salt and ghee to the flour mixture, gently kneading the dough till the seasonings are all mixed in.
Grease a set of idli plates with oil spray.
Take a small handful of the dough and flatten it to fit into one of the idli moulds.
Repeat this till all the plates are filled with adais.
Steam for 6-8 minutes till the adais are cooked.
Serve topped with some yogurt and a sprig of parsley.


These rocked! They were way better than we expected them to turn out. And we're becoming more obsessed with parsley by the day! Guess we added more green chillies than we realized, these adais had some serious zing to them. And given that we haven't really done much with rice lately, we were a bit worried that these adais might feel heavy on the palate. Nope! Surprisingly, they seemed light and flavourful - a happy healthy snack.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bread, Soup and happiness

Sometimes, that's about all that's needed to put a smile on the face! A bowl of hot soup, some crusty bread to mop it up and soon life is all goodness.

I was wandering around Columbus Foodie's insanely fun blog - brimming with a wide variety of recipes that I could pick from for T&C VII. Just as it seemed like I was going to drown in eternal indecision, I saw this recipe for beer batter bread. Whoa! That sounded really delicious. Plus I've been hankering for more baking lately, so this sounded perfect. And the plan was to try this recipe out right away - how insane would it be if I posted a recipe for an event a couple of weeks in advance? Do things like that ever happen?!!

The Abster was coming over for dindin and said she was hankering for a soup. And when I mentioned bread, I could pretty much hear her jumping around on the other end of the phone line! But wait ... she *hates* onions! Well, the recipe could be reworked to use garlic instead, can't go wrong with that! And then she said she wanted swirly soup. Hmm ... I was kind of hoping to kill 2 food events with one meal here :) If we made a spicy soup instead, I could totally ship it off for March's edition of No Croutons Required!

Yay for food agendas :)

We poked around several cookbooks and the Pupp found a really simple and elegant spicy soup - a plethora of veggies, some marjoram, kicked up with some cayenne ... sounded pretty good!

We also ended up reworking the bread recipe to use whole wheat flour. And we made some muffins and scones instead of a big loaf - worked out pretty well.

Beer Batter Muffins and Scones
Mmm ... garlic! Mmm ... cheese!

Servings: 12-14 muffins/scones

2 heads of garlic - peeled and chopped into bits (not minced, unless you don't want to feel the yummy sticky garlic chunks in your mouth!)

3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 T olive oil
3 T sugar
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 cup grated light cheese
1 12 ounce beer (we used amber ale)
3 T butter - melted

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the garlic until lightly browned.

Sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a bowl.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add in the cheese, beer and garlic.
Stir/knead until the mixture is just moist and well-mixed.

Grease palms with cooking spray before taking handfuls of the mixture and plopping them onto a greased baking tray.
Another option is to drop dollops of it in a muffin pan.
(We did both!)

Drizzle 1.5 T of butter over the muffins/scones and set in the oven.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the muffins/scones, drizzle the remaining 1.5 T of butter over them.
Set back in the oven for about 12-14 minutes till they are lightly browned.
A toothpick or knife inserted into the muffin should come out clean.

Cool the muffins and scones on a wire rack.


Weeeeeeee! Enough garlic to chase all those vampires away! The scones were chewy and tasty. We did think that maybe they needed a little zing - think we'll add some minced jalapeno next time around. And they tasted better today than yesterday - seemed moister than ever! And the beer definitely gave the bread a yeasty flavour - very appetizing.

Thanks Becke for this recipe, we're definitely going to try it out again!


The Drunk Muffin
Photo Courtesy: Abbie


While the bread was baking, we started the soup. We were a little dubious about how hearty this soup would be - it didn't seem to ask for a lot of ingredients, but my fears were totally unfounded. Simple is good, especially in soups.

Spicy Chunky Vegetable Soup
*so* fresh and happy!

Servings: 4

1 red onion - chopped
4-5 cloves garlic - finely chopped
1 small carrot - diced
1 large potato - diced
4 oz green peas (we used frozen petite peas)
2 cups of drained tomatoes
1 L reduced sodium vegetable broth
2 scallions - sliced diagonally into thin pieces
1 T butter
1.5 t dried marjoram
2 t cayenne
salt to taste

Saute the onion in butter till browned.
Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and add the tomatoes, garlic and marjoram. Cook for about 15 minutes.
Stir in the carrots, peas and potatoes along with the cayenne and salt.
Cover partially and cook on medium for 10+ minutes till the potatoes are cooked.


The recipe had likened this soup to minestrone, but described a much lighter flavour. We didn't quite grok that when we first read it, but one spoonful and we knew exactly what that was about. The consistency was just right, the drained tomatoes were *perfect*, the soup tasted *so* damn fresh! Like if I was running through a garden and noshing on all the veggies! Well ... no, not quite like that. But you know what I mean - it just felt ... so right. And spicy too.

Eat (bread), drink (soup), make merry!


Off this goes to Ms. Tinned Tomatoes for No Croutons Required.

Many thanks to Nicole for another fun edition of T&C.


And I'll leave you with a snapshot of the craziest cat around hereplace :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Salad heaven ... *so* colourful :)

If there was such a place, would it filled with fresh spinach, amaranth, rocket and many other greens? With crisp pears and apples, a plethora of nuts, varieties of olive oil, grapeseed oil, some truffle for fragrance? Maybe juicy meyer lemons and blood oranges? How about marinated beets and eggplant? *sigh* ...

Ok, I'm back! But it was so good to be romping around in that field of greens :)

I'm pretty sure I sound like I'm off the rocker, but this was just another of my crazy food dreams! I woke up with a smile and a serious hankering for some yummy salad. Which finally brings me to the subject of this post - a salad. Surprised, anyone?

Every once in a while, we want a salad that is a little more substantial than just greens with a variety of garnishes - especially if that is going to be lunch following a workout. After puttering around the fridge and assessing possible salad options, my eyes fell upon an eggplant. Hmm ... was I ready to risk it?

"How can people say they don't eat eggplant when God loves the color
and the French love the name? I don't understand."

- Jeff Smith (The Frugal Gourmet)

I grew up a picky brinjal eater - we only got the small ones in India and we referred to them as brinjals. Brrriiinnjjaaaalll ... hmm ... somehow that sounds waaay more interesting than eggplant, don't you think? Anyway, I only used to like the little ones stuffed and crispy. But I've learned to embrace the giant variety that we get here, but I still have my reservations about it being chunked up into a salad!!

After staring at Mr.Big Brinjal for a while, I finally decided to go for it - diced eggplants marinated for a few hours in a lemon-muscat vinegar dressing. That can't be too bad, right?

Lemony Eggplant and Spinach Salad
Ooo ... and it has olives too :)

Servings: 2

1 large eggplant - cut into 1" cubes
2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves - washed and patted dry
1 T olive oil
1 T red moscato vinegar
grated rind and juice of 1 Meyer lemon
10-12 green olives - halved (I used those awesome jalapeno stuffed ones)
2 T chopped curly parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 t red pepper flakes

Heat the oil in a wok and cook the aubergine for about 7-8 minutes, tossing frequently until golden brown. Add the vinegar and saute for a couple more minutes.
For the dressing, mix the lemon juice and rind, olives, parsley and seasoning.
Toss the aubergine cubes with the spinach and dressing till the aubergine pieces are coated with the dressing.
Add the red pepper flakes if you want a little more zing in your salad.


I bow to you, Mr.Big Eggplant - you can totally be the ultimate absorber of flavours! And that Meyer lemon kicks some serious ass!


Cook's Tips:
  • You could potentially shallow fry the eggplant in a little more oil, but I'm not a big fan of that.
  • The longer the eggplant soaks up the marinade, the better it tastes. This can totally be made a couple of days ahead and refrigerated. Just make sure that you return it to room temperature before serving - can't quite imagine cold eggplant *ick*

More salad recipes:

A twist on Banh Mi Chay

The sandwich world can sometimes be a bare desert for vegetarians - often one, maybe two items on a menu at a sandwich joint might be veggie friendly. Can be such a pisser! Until we see one of those silver linings on the meat-filled sandwich cloud - those fabulous vietnamese sandwiches. Mouthfuls of crunchy, flavourful goodness. *sigh*

Tonight called for a quick fix. A quick, delicious fix. A quick, delicious and healthy fix. Hmm ... how about a Banh Mi Chay? That fabulous vietnamese sandwich. Wait, did I say that already?!

Well, like always, any meal calls for variations, right? This one was no exception. I realized I only had this absolutely fabulous multi-grain bread to work with, no hoagie roll - which is what the banh mi usually comes in. That's cool, multi-grain makes me happy, am sure them vietnamese folks wouldn't be too insulted if I used it! And I figured it would be fun to add a few more twists here - maybe some marinated parnsnips? And spinach instead of lettuce or cilantro? And how about some habanero mustard instead of mayo?

Banh Mi Chay of the day
A new look for the vietnamese favourite!

Servings: 2

4 slices of multi-grain bread
1/2 carrot - sliced into thin long strips
1/2 parsnip - sliced into thin long strips
160 gms of extra firm tofu (2/5 of a block)
a couple of handfuls of baby spinach

Marinade for tofu:
1 T sambal oelek (I make my own, but you can buy this at any store)
2 T soy sauce
2 T muscato vinegar
1 T coconut flakes
1 T minced garlic

Marinade for veggies:
1 T habanero mustard
2 T water
1 t soy sauce
1 T white vinegar
1 t horseradish paste

Slice the tofu into long thick strips about 1/2" thick.
Mix the tofu marinade ingredients, except for the coconut flakes.
Place the tofu in a baking tray, pour the marinade all over it and dust with the coconut flakes.
Broil the tofu till it gets browned.
Mix the marinade for the veggies and soak the carrots and parsnips in it for about 1/2 hour.
Toast the bread before assembling the sandwich.
Layer a handful of the spinach, then the tofu, followed by the veggies on a slice of bread.
Serve it open-face or top the veggies with a second slice of bread.


*yum*! This was seriously the quickest, easiest and tastiest sandwich I've had in a while. The coconut totally added a crispy kick to the tofu and marinade, the spinach was crisp and fresh, the parsnips added an earthy flavour - made for the perfect french countryside salad sandwich :)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Feelin' the bean love

So, what do you do when you get a fabulously fresh batch of green beans from your CSA?

  1. Stash the beans in the fridge till you can find a recipe for it
  2. Be insanely magnanimous and give them to a friend
  3. Skip around in circles all excited about them green beans
  4. Pore feverishly through all those cookbooks trying to find a new recipe that'll showcase the beans
  5. Do 3. and 4. - basically certifying that you're a minor nutcase! :)

Well, no points for guessing what I did. Kind of hard to keep skipping around in circles while flipping through those cookbooks, but I did it nevertheless! :)

I finally settled on a green beans and garlic recipe - not the traditional pan-asian one, but one with a bit more gravy - a bunch of chopped tomatoes thrown in, along with a batch of cannellini beans for more fiber goodness. A generous dash of white wine totally added a slurpy tingling aftertaste - much better than any vinaigrette could have.

Beans and Beans with Garlic and Tomatoes
Skip as you stir, makes it taste better :)

Servings: 4

12 oz cooked cannellini beans (I just used them drained and rinsed out of a can for this recipe)
1 T olive oil
1 onion - finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves (crushed)
3-4 tomatoes - peeled and chopped
12-14 oz green beans - sliced diagonally into long chunks
1/2 cup of white wine (I used a chardonnay here)
2/3 cup water (or veggie stock)
1 T fresh parsley
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and saute the onions and garlic for 3-4 minutes till soft.
Add the chopped tomatoes and continue cooking over low heat for another 3-4 minutes till they start softening.
Add the green beans, wine, water (or stock) and a little salt and stir well.
Cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes.
Stir in the cannellini beans and simmer covered for another 3-4 minutes.
Increase the heat to reduce the liquid and season with the black pepper.
Garnish with the parsley before serving.


The earthy cannellini beans and garlic added a yummy french twist to the green beans - I originally started making this as a side, but it turned out so good that it was the meal of the night, along with some crispy spiced flatbread.

More recipes with beans:

This goes to Kel from Green Olive Tree for WHB (Kalyn's brainchild) - thanks to both for organizing this!
And on a different note, if you haven't had a chance to check out Sig's blog yet, head over yonder to read about our insanely fun blog gathering last week. Thanks Sigster, for jumpstarting this!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Got to love that pome!

No, I'm *not* talking about any fabulous device from that AAPL :)

A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon An Apple A Day hosted by Rosella. Her story is incredibly poignant - after having a stroke at 30, she seems to be doing well now and totally enjoying writing about her life and travails on her blog. And this event is extra special to her - she wants March 3rd, the day she had a stroke last year to be a celebration of healthy living and eating. It isn't any surprise that she chose to focus her event on apples along with a variety of other ingredients.

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.
- Martin Luther King

And I'll be totally fine with that - can't quite imagine life without apples - guess that's one of the best things about living in Washington :)

Apples, to no surprise, are way up there in terms of being a tasty source of goodness. They're full of soluble and insoluble fiber, the skin has a ton of Vitamin C, the pulp contains phenolic compounds ... and they're super delicious to boot!

It didn't take much effort to find a fun recipe showcasing apples and a couple of other ingredients from Rosella's list. I was initially thinking of a dessert, but figured a salad was a much healthier idea. This Moroccan salad seemed like the perfect option, brimming with sweet and tart flavours and some spice.

Pepper Apple Tomato Salad
- adapted from Traditional Moroccan Cooking: Recipes from Fez

Servings: 2 as an entree, 4 as an appetizer

1 Granny Smith apple - coarsely chopped
1/2 Gala apple - coarsely chopped
6-8 black cherry tomatoes - halved
20 sugar plum tomatoes - halved
1/2 red onion
1/2 red bell pepper
3-4 pepperoncinis - drained and chopped
10-12 almonds - coarsely chopped or ground
3 cloves garlic - crushed
2 T lemon juice
1 T chopped fresh curly parsley
1 t dried mint
1/2 t dried thyme
3 T red wine vinegar
1 t olive oil
freshly ground pepper

Toss the tomatoes and apples with the lemon juice in a mixing bowl and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.
Heat the oil in a wok and saute the onions.
Once browned, add the garlic and bell peppers and saute for another 3-4 minutes.
Add the contents of the wok into the mixing bowl and toss with the tomatoes+apples.
Add the chopped banana pepper and almonds and toss again.
Season with parsley, mint, thyme, salt and pepper.
Add the vinegar, 1 T at a time, checking the flavours before adding more.


*yum*! Those moroccans know how to fix a mean apple salad. This was fabulous. And is fabulous (as I struggle to type while feeding my face) :)

Off this goes to Rosella - hope you feel better and may the good times roll!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Vegetable Ribbons in gravy

If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry?
~Author Unknown

I felt like eating some pasta. And some vegetables. But if those veggies were my antipasto, does this mean I was going to end up hungry after my meal? Well, what if i combined my pasta and antipasto - or even better made my antipasto the pasta? Have I confused you yet? :)

All this started when I stumbled upon a recipe for pasta-like veggie ribbons. Fascinating! Ribbons of zucchini and carrots in a lemony sauce. I could totally work that! Well, I did ... except it only took an hour and a half of peeling those damn vegetables into ribbons. Why didn't anyone tell me this was a ton of work? I want a vegetable ribbon maker *now*!

Veggie ribbons in gravy
Vegetables a la fettucine

Servings: 4

4 long zucchini - peeled
4 long carrots - peeled
8-10 brussel sprouts - halved
1 cup silken tofu
juice of 2 meyer lemons
2 T fresh parsley
1 t cayenne
1/4 cup - grated feta cheese
freshly ground pepper

Ok, get ready for applying some serious elbow grease here!

Peel the zucchini and carrots.
Use a potato peeler and peel long strips of the zucchini and carrots - we basically want strips/ribbons of these veggies. I found that it was a lot easier to make strips of zucchini than carrots - those damn carrots are *so* damn hard!
Once the veggies are all ribboned out, throw the zucchini into a pot of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. No more or it'll turn into mush! Throw the zucchini into a bowl.
Do the same 3-minute cooking thing for the carrots, drain the carrot strips and add them to the bowl.
Now cook the brussel sprouts in the boiling water for 4-5 minutes before draining them out.
Puree the tofu with the lemon juice, parsley and cayenne, season with salt and pepper.
Cook the tofu puree on medium-low for 2-3 minutes before adding it to the veggies.
Toss the vegetables with the sauce, season with salt and pepper.


It turned out pretty tasty. The vegetable ribbons were perfectly cooked and picked up the flavours really well. The tofu sauce had this mildly nutty taste that blended really well with the sweet-tart flavours of the meyer lemons - that was really yummy!

The only thing I wasn't super happy about is how my ribbons turned out - they were a real pain to work with, I'm wondering if I needed a different peeler here to make life easier. Plus the carrot strips did not turn out as long and dainty as I wanted them to be. Whatever, it tasted pretty happy :)

I meant to send this out to Lady Coffee yesterday, but totally zoned out. This is my entry for JFI-Lemons/Limes.