Monthly Archives: May 2012

Lentil Stew with Millet-Almond Pilaf

Another genius recipe from Eric Tucker and his Millennium Cookbook. The full recipe is found on pg. 120, and is called “Lentil Stew with Millet-Almond Pilaf and Millet Crepes”. I have learned my lesson regarding crepes during previous attempts at buckwheat crepes, and more recently at my misshaped (but tasty!) dosa attempt. This did not stop me from trying this delicious recipe. This was also my first experience with millet, and it is now in the ranks of quinoa in my eyes. A staple.

Millet is like quinoa, but remains somewhat firm and slightly crunchy even when fully cooked. The texture is welcome – I am not a fan of mush. It contrasts nicely with the lentils in the stew, and absorbs the stew flavour even better than rice would. In fact, leftovers are almost better than the fresh dish – a quick warm up in the microwave and it’s like the stew is made anew, but marinated! The stew itself is based on Ethiopian flavours, and makes use of Berber. I had some extra from Papa Tofu, and used that instead of the Millennium spice blend. The results were delicious! I don’t know if they have eggplant and plantains in Ethiopia, but they are gorgeous in this lentil stew. The plantains add a different texture to the stew deepening the flavour profile. Subtly spicy, it is a warming spice instead of a heat/spicy hot. As always, eggplant adds a nice meaty texture to the stew, absorbing all the lovely flavour and adding a toothsome texture. Do not be daunted by the number of steps to the recipe or of all the components – all in it took me less than an hour to pull the dish together, and I am one of the slowest prep cooks you will ever find! And as always, cooking from this book makes me feel like I belong on Top Chef Canada or at the very least a ticket to a cocktail party with Marcus Sameulsson.

This recipe can be found on page 120 of the Millennium Cookbook, which if you scroll ~2/3 of the way down can be found here on Google Book Previews. I highly recommend this recipe for your next weekend meal – either for yourself in your sweats or for company in your LBD, it’s sure to impress everyone!


Black Bean Sweet Potato Hash

Black beans. I cannot express my love for these glorious legumes enough. Versatle, quick to cook, and pretty to look at, these beans are a necessary staple in any kitchen. They can be snuck in brownies, put in grain salads, or be the star of the show like this simple sweet potato hash!

My favourite breakfast of all time is a tabouli and falafel plate. A very close second is cold lasagna. Brunch is often a painful affair, as most of the population doesn’t consider either of those things to be ‘breakfast’ foods. So I developed this recipe/guideline when the inevitable invite to a potluck brunch came my way. It is cleverly disguised breakfast fare that could easily be made for dinner. In fact, it tastes delicious at dinner! (To make it more like a dinner, don’t cut the sweet potato, but bake it whole. Voila – stuffed black bean sweet potato!) Best described as “Tex-Mex”, I like my black bean sweet potato hash to pack a punch. Lots of jalapeno is a must, with cumin undertones to give it depth. A dash of lime juice and fresh cilantro make their presence known just as you are recovering from the heat of the jalapeno and ready for your next bite! The sweet potatoes also add a nice contrast to the black beans – the two are a perfect match.

Many people have many versions of this dish – this is just my take. I gleaned ideas from various cookbooks, websites, and what is generally in my fridge at any given time. Feel free to go wild with the substitutions – spicier, milder, more/less curry, whatever you are feeling at that moment throw into the pot! I have yet to have a bad version, and I’m fairly certain I’ve never made it the same way twice. So next time you are faced with a potluck brunch, keep this recipe in mind. Sure to be a crowd pleaser and a refreshing change from the rivers of maple syrup that is sure to be flowing!

Black Bean-Sweet Potato Hash

1 sweet potato, cut into 5cm cubes
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
2-3 jalapenos, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (or 1.5 cups cooked)

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (to taste)
1 tbsp. lime juice (to taste)
Chili flakes to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions:
1) Place cubed sweet potato in large skillet, and cover bottom with water (~ 5cm deep).
2) Cover skillet and cook at medium-high until sweet potato tender. Add water as necessary if too dry.
(Note: if you own a microwave, you could just cook the sweet potato as you normally would)

3) When sweet potato is tender, pour out excess water (if necessary).
4) Add oil, onion, and garlic. Saute until onion is translucent.
5) Add red pepper, jalapeno. Saute until pepper soft.
6) Add curry powder, coriander, cumin, ginger, and paprika. Stir.
7) Add black beans and water if mixture dry. Stir and saute until black beans warm.
8) Season with cayenne, lime juice, chili flakes, salt, and pepper. Saute on low heat ~5min, until flavours melded.
9) Garnish with fresh cilantro. Enjoy!


Thai Pumpkin Soup

Comfort in a bowl – Thai style!

I was making room in my freezer for the anticipated CSA harvest, and found a lone freezer bag of diced pumpkin shoved forgotten in the corner. Right beside it was my prepared lemongrass, and I knew exactly what I needed to cook. Thai Pumpkin Soup. No matter that it was 26 degrees outside, soup was what was calling my name!

This soup is another recipe that turned my tofu-hating family into tofu-tolerating. I brought it to a family gathering in a Crock Pot once, counting on the fact that my family of picky eaters wouldn’t touch an orange soup with green things floating and to*FAU* (insert wrinkly nose here) with a 10-foot pole, but it got slurped up well before the other offerings! No leftovers for me … This soup is warm, hearty, and will cure whatever ails you. The lemongrass and ginger are excellent for fighting the winter blahs (if it is winter outside), and the spice level can be adjusted to taste with the addition of fresh chili peppers. The pumpkin is easily substituted for acorn squash or butternut squash, or that lone bag of squash hanging out in your freezer! Like most soups, it tastes even better the next day warmed up, and freezes wonderfully. You can serve it with vermicelli or rice, but I like to eat it as is.

The recipe can be found here: Thai Pumpkin Soup. So clean out your freezer, embrace that lone bag of pumpkin, and delight your taste-buds in this super easy, super tasty, soul-satisfying soup!


Banana Date Ice Cream with Tahini-Molasses Topping

I have a love affair with frozen bananas. Consuming fresh bananas to me is akin to some sort of creative torture, but when frozen the bananas lose their texture and penicillin-like mouth coating and become something entirely different and delicious. My favourite snack is a piece of frozen banana dipped in peanut butter or sunflower seed butter. This mad love for the frozen fruit made me search out and ultimately create my own ice cream after recovering from the price shock of a pint of non-dairy ice cream. Who needs to shell out $7.50/pint when you can make it at home?

I have a base ‘recipe’ which is more of a guideline, which I tweak as the mood strikes. This particular version was created to match my Egyptian feast and so to keep with the theme I made banana-date ice cream. I remembered reading from a Vegan MoFo post that a popular dessert topping was tahini and molasses, and since my love of tahini knows no bounds, I decided to give molasses a shot at stardom. Too often molasses is disguised in bread products – it needed its chance in the limelight! Finally, I added some pistachios to sprinkle on top for a little crunch. The end result was a delectable, not-too-sweet, dangerously addictive (but thankfully healthy) ice cream that I cannot get enough of!

Banana Date Ice Cream

1 3/4 c. frozen bananas, sliced
6 pitted dates
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. water, or your favourite non-dairy milk for extra creaminess

Directions:

Before you start:
It is important that the bananas are frozen first. This is super easy – peel and throw into the freezer on a cookie sheet. When frozen, just stick in a Ziploc bag to use later!

Tip: If you are using dried dates, soak them in 1c. water for ~10min., to soften. Use the water as your liquid in the recipe.

1) Place all ingredients in food processor. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape the sides as necessary. To adjust for consistency, add water as necessary
2) Pour mixture into a glass bowl, cover, and place in freezer. Freeze until the mixture is somewhat frozen, ~4h. I usually judge by the sides of the bowl are solid, but the centre is still poke-able with a spoon.
3) Pour mixture in food processor. Process until smooth. This step is very important! It helps prevent ice crystals from forming in your ice cream.
4) Pour mixture into final storage container (yogurt containers, old nut butter jars …) and place in freezer.

To serve, take out of freezer and let thaw for ~5min to make the scoops look nice and pretty.

Tahini-Molasses topping:
2 tsp. tahini
1 tsp. Molasses – this can be date molasses if you are feeling fancy/have it, or the normal cooking molasses, blackstrap molasses, or whatever is in your pantry.
*Note: you can adjust the quantity to taste or to the amount of ice cream you have. The ratio is 2 parts tahini to 1 part molasses.

Directions:
1) Drizzle tahini and molasses on top of ice cream
2) Add shelled pistachios for extra decadence

Update: For more soft serve ideas including flavours, toppings, and mix-ins, check out my post Ultimate Guide to Ice Cream. Banana Date Ice Cream with Tahini-Molasses Topping was so addicitve I had to go crazy and try other combinations to find the next addiction!


Kushari

Kushari is also known as koshary, kosheri, and koshari. However you spell it, it is an inexpensive dish from Egypt that is popular street food. Apparently some consider this to be Egypt’s national dish, so I had to try it! At first glance it looks to be a bizarre combination of ingredients, but when put together in a bowl it is and unbelievably tasty dish that fills you up quickly! The basic elements of kushari are lentils and rice, then a layer of macaroni or ditalini pasta, followed with a chunky tomato sauce, and topped with chickpeas and loads of fried onions. At first I was a huge skeptic – rice and pasta in the same dish? I even contemplated omitting the pasta, but in the end decided to stay true to the spirit of the dish. And am I glad I ever did! The dish is like a mini casserole in a bowl, and the flavour profile is amazing. With red hot chilis in almost every component of the dish, there is some nice heat to the combination. The marinated chickpeas and vinegar in the tomato sauce make the dish nice and tangy. But what really won me over was the fried onion topping. With just oil and onion, the dish is transformed from a 4-star rating to blown out of the park! As an added bonus, all ingredients are most likely already in your pantry!

This recipe isn’t hard, but it will use every burner you have on your stove. If you’re not careful, it is possible to boil dry your lentils and rice like I did, but with some more water added the dish was none the worse for it! Simple enough for a weeknight but fancy enough for a weekend meal or company. Serve with a fresh salad and enjoy the street food of Egypt!

This recipe is a compilation of various blog notes that I could find. Most didn’t have quantities of ingredients, and none had the exact amount of each layer. This is my version of these various hodgepodge recipes – I did my best to maintain the spirit of the dish while amalgamating all of these comments. I was pleased with the result, but by all means build your bowl to your taste!

Kushari

Component #1: Lentils and Rice
1½ cups brown lentils
1½ cups short grain rice
1 tbsp. ground cumin
6-8 cups water
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

Directions:
1) In large pot bring water to a boil. Add cumin and lentils.
2) Lower heat to a simmer and cook lentils until half-cooked, ~15-20 min.
3) Add rice; stir. Cover and cook until rice is tender, ~20 min. If too dry, add water as necessary.
4) Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir.

Component #2: Macaroni
8 oz. macaroni or ditalini pasta
water

Directions:
1) In large pot bring water to a boil. Add pasta.
2) Cook pasta until al-dente, ~8 min.
3) Drain and set aside.

Component #3: Garlic Vinegar Tomato Sauce
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. garlic, minced
3 tbsp. white vinegar
2 (28 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

Directions:
1) In saucepan sauté garlic in oil until fragrant, ~1-2 min.
2) Add red pepper flakes. Stir.
3) Add vinegar, tomatoes, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a simmer.
4) Simmer ~20 min, while pasta and rice are cooking
5) If too thick, add water as necessary

Component #4: Toppings
1 (14 oz.) can chickpeas, or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. ground cumin

4-5 large onions, cut into thick rings or strips
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
1) In Tupperware container mix chickpeas, red wine vinegar, coriander, cayenne, and cumin.
2) Place in fridge and let marinate until ready to use, shaking occasionally.

3) In large fry pan, sauté onions in oil until crispy and fried.

 Assembly:
To serve, layer components as follows:
1) ½ cup lentils and rice mixture
2) ½ cup macaroni
3) ¼ – ½ cup garlic vinegar tomato sauce
4) 2 tbsp. marinated chickpeas
5) 2 tbsp. fried onions


Molokhia Soup

Molokhia Soup, also known as Melokhia, Jute Leaf Soup, or simply “Egyptian Green Soup” is an interesting taste sensation. I stumbled upon the existence of a green soup from a traveller blog and then found the actual recipe in the comment string from a completely unrelated blog. Curious, I decided to give it a go, not really knowing what it was. Molokhia leaves were easily located in the frozen food section of Superstore, which was a surprise. The package available to me already had the leaves cut (shredded more like), and looked a lot like the frozen spinach block used for the spinach dip in sourdough bread. When I was cooking it I noticed that the leaves have the same slimy texture as okra slime, which combined with the visual of a bubbling green pot made me think of a witches brew, as well as question my sanity. However, don’t forego your efforts just due to some bubbling green slime! The molokhia leaves are subtle in flavour but distinct. The spices and heat from the extra hot peppers really shone through, and I slurped up the bowl in record soup-eating time. Absolutely delicious and worth a repeat! I guarantee you will be rewarded with this soup taste profile, plus you will have bragging rights of being able to slurp down some slimy green soup next time the subject of ‘gross foods’ comes up at the water cooler.

*Note* If you can’t find Molokhia leaves in the frozen section, a Middle East grocery should stock them. If all else fails or you want the soup to be pantry friendly, frozen spinach could be easily substituted with similar delicious results.

The recipe below was taken from a couple of comment threads from various travel boards. However, aside from the molokhia leaves, every single ingredient listed was optional. This is my version of the optional ingredient list. Feel free to make your own version! 

Molokhia Soup

6 cups vegetable broth
1 lb. (400g.) frozen molokhia leaves, thawed
2 hot chili peppers, minced
1 bay leaf
1 small onion, diced
black pepper, to taste
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp. lemon juice
cayenne pepper, to taste

Directions:
1) Chop molokhia leaves into strips: roll a handful in a cigar shape and slice into think strips
2) In large pot bring vegetable broth to a boil.
3) Add molokhia leaves, chili pepper, bay leaf, onion, and black pepper. Stir. Reduce heat and simmer ~20 min.
4) In small bowl mash garlic and coriander into a paste.
5) In small fry pan, sauté garlic paste in olive oil until garlic slightly browed.
6) Add paste and remaining oil to soup. Stir.
7) Add cilantro, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper. Stir and let simmer ~5 min.
8) Serve hot over rice.


Ful Mudammas

This week’s culinary adventure took me to Egypt. I felt the urge to expand my food repertoire of Indian, Moroccan, Ethiopian, and Asian. Knowing nothing about the cuisine of Egypt, I set off on a research mission. I ended up making four dishes: Ful Mudammas, Molokia Soup, Kushari, and Banana-Date Ice Cream with Tahini-Molasses topping and pistachios. To be honest, the ice cream is a stand-by that turned out to be Egyptian-ish, so I did cheat a little. I found it very challenging to find information about Egyptian dishes, but my efforts were rewarded ten times over with each dish! As I have never been to Egypt, nor have I eaten at an Egyptian restaurant before, I will not claim that the recipes are 100% authentic. But what I will guarantee is that they are 100% delicious and different from the standard trinity of Indian, Moroccan, and Asian!

Ful Mudammas, also known as Ful Medames, Ful Muddammis, or Ful Medames (thank you, Wikipedia), is a fava bean mash that is often served at breakfast with some pita bread. I broke from tradition and ate it for dinner with some injera, but it is delicious! My avocado masher came in handy again, and the tomato, onion, garlic, bean mash was delectable and the perfect consistency. It is a very simple dish to prepare and quick to throw together. I think it could also easily be a salad if it’s too hot to use the stove, or you could blitz it in the food processor to make Egyptian hummus. It doesn’t look like the most appetizing dish, but what it lacks in presentation it makes up for in flavour. It now joins the ranks of tabbouleh as my favourite breakfast food!

This recipe is a combination of a fava bean salad recipe from AllRecipes.com, a fava bean breakfast spread recipe from AllRecipes.com where most comments started with “I am Egyptian and this is …”, as well as some liberal interpretation of my own from my Ethiopian W’et bean mash cooking.

Ful Mudammas

1 (15oz.) can fava beans
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 large tomato, diced
1 tsp. ground cumin
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
1) Saute garlic and onion in oil until onion translucent, ~5 min.
2) Add fava beans. Smash a bit with back of spoon. Cook until heated, adding water if too dry as necessary.
3) Add tomato, cumin, parsley, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium. Simmer ~5 min, smooching mixture as required
4) Serve warm with pita, topped with a drizzle of tahini or chili sauce


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