Tag Archives: Appetite for Reduction

Caribbean Black Eyed Pea Curry

Ring in the New Year with this lucky black eyed pea curry! Different and delicious: transport yourself to the Caaribbean!

Ring in the New Year with this lucky black eyed pea curry! Different and delicious: transport yourself to the Caribbean!

Disclaimer: I am in the process of moving across the country, and thus haven’t had access to a kitchen for over a month. I’m working through the archives, which seem to be full of cookbook recipes. So, I present to you another recipe from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. This particular recipe took me over a year to make. I’d been eyeing it for a while, but I was often distracted by my own cravings, whims, and hesitation for sweeter, milder curries. Finally, I gave this one a try and yet again Isa didn’t disappoint! The curry is a nice balance of sweet and savoury, and there’s a good kick at the end from the addition of habaneros. I didn’t seed my peppers giving me a greater kick than usual, but that’s completely to taste! You can never go wrong with the addition of bell peppers in a curry, and the black eyed peas are a great canvas for the curry as they soak up the flavour wonderfully. Other mild tasting beans can be substituted, such as navy beans. However, the Jewish consider black eyed peas to be lucky when celebrating Rosh Hashanah (usually in autumn), and in the southern US they are considered lucky to ring in the (Roman Calendar) New Year, so why not add a little luck on your side? The plantain addition is nice, however I would recommend simmering the plantain in the curry instead of steaming it separately as the recipe suggests. I find plantains to be really starchy, and when you simmer it in the sauce it takes on the flavour of the curry while still maintaining the plantain purpose.

This dish is simple to throw together – perfect for a weekday meal or for mimizing time spent in the kitchen with company over. The smells of this curry simmering on the stove will transport you to the Caribbean, making you forget that it’s -30 Celsius outside! So when ringing in the New Year, add a little bit of luck to the holiday spread and make this curry!

The recipe is available in Appetite for Reduction, but it is also posted on the PPK here: Caribbean Black Eyed Pea Curry with Plantains.


Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Chili

Brussels Sprout and Sweet Potato Chili

 (Apologies for the poor picture: I am in the process of moving across the country and only had capabilities for the point-and-shoot no-edit)

The title says it all. Brussels sprouts and sweet potato meet together in a fiery hot chili that has been the side dish for more than one festive meal. Brussels sprouts generally have a bad reputation – I did not have my first sprout until my late 20’s, on account of family ‘brussels sprout issues’. Perhaps I wouldn’t like them so much if I was force-fed them growing up (like tomato soup), but these little vegetables are cute versions of cabbage and taste faintly of broccoli. As an extra bonus, they hold their shape in soups and stews, so you have something firm to chew on instead of wilted leaves or random specks of broccoli florets. They are especially decadent shaved thin and roasted until very brown (some would say burnt); every bushel of brussels sprouts that make it to my kitchen have at least one dish prepared this way! But not everybody has been charmed by these cute little cabbages, so to bring them over to the dark side I present to you this chili.

This chili is a warm, hearty stew that is quick to throw together and disappears just as fast. Pinto beans add some protein, however navy beans or chickpeas are also fantastic. Sweet potatoes (always good in a chili!) are the bulk of the dish, and pair well with the tomatoes and chili powder. The brussels sprouts add some colour, a different texture, and a broccoli/cabbage feel to the chili. Brussels haters won’t even know that they are there! In fact, the last time I made this dish for the family, the self-diagnosed ‘brussels sprouts issues’ individuals first tentative spoonful came with an eye roll and a “clearly I’m humouring you” attitude, then proceeded to lick the bowl clean. And then go for seconds, thirds … one small step for the mighty Brussels Sprout!

This recipe is from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Although an excellent cookbook that is a solid standby for quick weeknight dinners, Isa has also posted the recipe for this dish on her website, the PPK. You can find the recipe here: Chipotle Chili with Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts. 

*Substitution note: As I never have chipotles hanging about, I substitute normal jalapenos. For chipotle smokiness, a drop or two of liquid smoke may get you the same effect, but I have never tried it.

Embrace the Brussels Sprout! Chili for a holiday meal? Why not, I say! It’s a wonderful change to the maple sugared toothache-inducing ‘traditional’ preparation of both the sweet potato and brussels sprout. The taste will win over even the staunchest brussels sprouts “haters” – a perfect excuse to make more!


Yam and Black Bean Soup with Orange and Cilantro

Bright and zesty, this black bean soup is deliciously different!

I am forever looking for variations of Black Bean Soup, that “little black dress” soup that can be comforting or exotic. Virtually every cuisine type has a version of a black bean soup, which I find fascinating from an anthropology standpoint. This particular version was made because I could not decide between the classic black bean soup and a version of black bean hash for dinner one day. So I turned to the cookbook shelf for inspiration, and found this Yam and Black Bean Soup in Appetite for Reduction, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Perfect!

Like all recipes in Appetite for Reduction, this stew is very simple to put together, and extremely tasty. I was a bit skeptical reading the list of ingredients – I tend to like recipes that read like novels, heavy on the spices. I also have an aversion to fruit in savoury dishes (pineapple on pizza? Ick.) and the addition of orange juice tested my resolve to stick with this stew and not revert back to the black bean hash. But this soup is absolutely delicious! Strangely enough, you can’t taste the orange, but instead it makes the soup (especially the sweet potatoes) taste ‘bright’. Zingy. It acts more like lime or lemon juice here, and was surprisingly delicious. The ingredient list may be short, but it packs a punch. The longer the soup sits, the more it thickens, making your second bowl more stew-like and extremely concentrated in flavour. The leftovers froze wonderfully, and reheated even better than when first made. When I reheated the soup, at the end I would throw in some greens (spinach, kale, chard, whatever was on hand) for some additional colour and extra level of deliciousness.

The recipe can be found here: Yam and Black Bean Soup. So next time you have a spare sweet potato in your fridge and a burning desire to eat some black beans, add to your black bean soup arsenal and give this exotic soup a try!


Pesto Moussaka-Lasagna

The lovechild of lasagna and moussaka

On an evening where I was at a loss in the kitchen, I was inspired by many ingredients that only seem unrelated. I was tired of winter stews, chilis, and soups and wanted something fresh and spring-like. I had an incredible craving for Edamame Pesto, and wanted a medium that would make the pesto the star of the show. I also wanted lasagna and moussaka, but wanted the edamame pesto more. So of course I combined all inputs to this delectable lasagna-moussaka that is as delicious as it is green!

The edamame pesto recipe is, in my opinion, the best pesto recipe out there, bar none. My first experience with pesto was in a hostel in Oslo. If you have ever travelled to Oslo, you know that food is ridiculously expensive and you can almost feel your change purse get lighter just smelling the bakery scents on the street. A stop at the grocery store got me some Ichiban and a jar of pesto sauce. A quick stop at the 7/11 and I got a coffee stir stick as a utensil. Using some ingenuity, I cooked the noodles in the cup and stirred in the pesto sauce: instant dinner. Although good at the time, later in the evening I felt horrible. Enter the ‘pesto baby’. At 4:30am I vowed never to eat pesto like that again. This edamame pesto is light, fresh, lemony, and not oily at all – everything I think the Italians originally meant pesto to be. Serious deliciousness with a 5min cook time. Nothing wrong with that!

The cauliflower ricotta was a similar surprise. Usually I make the tofu ricotta from Veganomicon and have been pleased. Not blown away, just pleased. Roasting the cauliflower then mashing it with my new avocado masher (one of the best “useless” kitchen gadgets out there!) turned the ho-hum tofu ricotta into a BAM! moment. So much flavour just from the cauliflower alone! Once again, Isa hits it out of the park.

I used the Lasagna with Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta and Spinach from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz as my base inspiration. The complete recipe can be found here. Instead of tomato sauce, I used the Edamame Pesto recipe from the same book, which can be found here. Finally, to make the lasagna a moussaka, instead of lasagna noodles I roasted one eggplant and three zucchini and used those as the ‘divider’ layers. To roast the vegetables:

1)      Slice them lengthwise in ~3-5mm thick slices and placed on parchment-lined baking sheets.

2)      Roast at 400dF for ~35min, then let cool in a colander

3)      Before assembling the lasagna/moussaka, gently squeeze excess liquid from the roasted vegetables so the casserole doesn’t get too soupy.

To assemble the lasagna/moussaka:

1)      Spread a bit of pesto on the bottom of a lightly oiled 9×13” pan

2)      Layer some roasted vegetables on top

3)      Dollop some pesto on the roasted vegetables, then spread evenly

4)      Dollop some ricotta on top of the pesto, and spread evenly

5)      Layer some fresh spinach on top of the ricotta

6)      Repeat the layers until the pan is full, ending with ricotta. I got 2 full layers, but I have a shallow pan – you may get 3 or even 4!

7)      Bake at 350dF for 40min. Let set up for 10min (if you can wait that long!) before cutting into pieces.

It’s that easy! Exactly what I was craving, combining all my ‘must have’s’ in one glorious slice of heaven. Light, lemony, pesto-y (without the pesto baby), and chalk full of flavour, this dish is now a go-to recipe!

Update:

I made this lasagna recently with a “winter” theme. Layers were made with roasted butternut squash slices, celeriac root slices, and swiss chard. Pesto and butternut squash you ask? Have some faith – it’s delicious! This winter theme proved to be just as successful as the zucchini-eggplant version with the added bonus of being less watery. It turned out to be almost a stuffed layered sandwich, perfect for toting to work as leftovers. Delectable down to the last morsel!

Butternut Celeriac Pesto Lasagna

Butternut Celeriac Pesto Lasagna with Swiss Chard


Eggplant Provincial

The picture doesn't do it justice!

 

This recipe is from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, one of my cookbooks in permanent recipe rotation. I love the cookbook because it is the first that I have owned (aside from Papa Tofu, another tome of excellence) that does not dedicate space to baked goods and desserts. Space that could be used for separate sections for curries, stews, and one-pot meals, which is what I’m interested in! Let’s face it: curry is a meal. Cookies are not. This cookbook is almost like Veganomicon-lite, with recipes composed of cupboard staples that are quick to throw together, minimal leftovers, and are delicious too-boot! There is even an entire section devoted to the greatness of a bowl. Not everybody appreciates the science behind a well-proportioned and thought out bowl of food, but this cookbook pays homage to that unsung everyday hero!

 

I have been to France more than once, and the best part of French cooking is the baguettes. Munching on a fresh baguette and an apple while wandering Paris while the city is waking up is one of my favourite memories of that gorgeous city. I am not a lover of crèmes, butter, or very rich food, which is what springs to mind when someone says “French cuisine” (or Julia Child!). I tried this recipe full of trepidation, and came away liking something other than baguettes! Spurred by my French-themed dinner and a movie (I’ve Loved You so Long, and a bottle of red wine), I gave this recipe a try because it had my favourite vegetable, eggplant, and a fail-safe legume: lentils. The dish itself is a boozy stew, with fennel, potatoes, and tomatoes. Spiced with marjoram and thyme, it is almost a French chili, which I can definitely get behind! The eggplant and potatoes soak up the delicate spices, making leftovers almost better than the day-of dish. Be prepared for sideways glances from co-workers if brining for lunch – the wine makes its presence known! Serve it with a simple spinach salad dressed with red-wine vinegar and olive oil, and the meal is a nice taste of the Mediterranean – perfect for a cold winter evening!


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