Tag Archives: cilantro

Lebanese Falafel

Lebanese Falafel served with Cucumber Tomato salad and Lemon Tahini dressing

Lebanese Falafel served with Cucumber Tomato salad and Lemon Tahini dressing

I am addicted to falafel. I judge a city by it’s falafel offerings, and can be quite picky. I have lived in two cities with sub-standard falafel, and during that time I honed in on the craft of making my own and demanded that my first meal back in my hometown was falafel. I am a walking example of the Canadian fusion girl: craving Middle Eastern cuisine with the physique of a Scandinavian.

I have tried many versions of this staple, making an effort to write down every tweak and change. Some batches were fit only for the garbage; some made me yearn for the sub-standard offerings. But through dedication and perseverance, I found The Falafel Recipe. The trick: do not cook the beans. This is true throughout the Middle East: In Lebanon and Israel, chickpeas are used. In Egypt, the chickpeas are replaced with fava beans or a combination of fava beans and chick peas (I call this garfava, because it’s fun to say). To make the falafel more Egyptian, the amount of fresh herbs should be doubled, to the point where the falafel looks green. Of course, you could also use a green such as spinach or Swiss chard to get the same effect. Lebanese falafel is the “Canadian” version of Egyptian and Israeli: enough fresh herbs for significant speckles of green, but enough cumin and spice to remind you of Israeli falafel. The uncooked beans give you the classic falafel texture. Not smooth, but grainy (about the size of uncooked quinoa seeds), with a firm bite. For a true classic version, these should be deep fried or pan fried, but I am well aware of my kitchen limitations, and know that hot oil and a stove is a recipe for disaster. Baking is much safer 🙂

To serve these falafels, I have made the traditional falafel pita, made a deconstructed pita including a cucumber-tomato salad and tahini-lemon dressing (1:1 for tahini to lemon juice, mixed well. Add water for consistency as necessary, and some cayenne for spice) and pickled red onions, and eat them plain as snacks. These are by far the best falafels I have ever tasted, and well worth the cravings! (Note: I have not travelled to Israel, Lebanon, or Egypt. But when I do, one of my first stops will be a falafel stand!) Simple, easy, minimal dishes, freezer-friendly, and delicious, these falafels are worth their exalted status in my kitchen.

 

Lebanese Falafel

2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in water

1 small onion, chopped OR ½ cup chives, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

½ tsp. paprika

¼ tsp. black pepper

4 tbsp. lemon juice

½ tsp. salt, or to taste

 

Directions:

1)      Drain soaked chickpeas. Rinse well and set aside.

2)      In food processor, add all ingredients. Process until reaches a consistency between couscous and hummus. *Note: Depending on the size of the food processor, may have to do this in batches

3)      Place 2 tbsp. of mixture in your hand, and roll into a ball. Place falafel on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat until no mixture left.

4)      Bake at 350oF for 20min. Carefully flip over falafel and bake an additional 10-15min, until falafel golden brown.

5)      Serve as a deconstructed falafel pita, as a topping for a salad, or plain!

 


Eggplant and Black Eyed Pea Curry

Eggplant and Black Eyed Pea Curry

I needed a break from the constant influx of zucchini this summer, and the cooler mornings have awakened the warming fall food monster in me. Pumpkins and butternut squash are just around the corner! I am not a summer person, and much prefer the cold winter landscapes. Snow, skiing, bright sunny days of -25dC … bliss. To celebrate the (hopeful) end to summer, I decided to make this eggplant and black eyed pea curry from The PPK as an introduction to the season. Warm and hearty, it doesn’t have winter squash, potatoes, or other typical ‘winter’ ingredients, but it does evoke feelings of being nestled up in a warm blanket by the fire with a light dusting of snow outside. If this doesn’t appeal at this time of year, it’s also a really good curry 🙂

This is my first use of two kinds of lentils plus a bean in a curry. No stranger to mixing my beans, I was curious to see what would happen with green lentils, red lentils, and black eyed peas. The red lentils make the curry very creamy, and disappear into the background – hidden protein! The green lentils and black eyed peas pair wonderfully, and give the dish different ‘protein eye candy’ while complimenting each other on the palate. The eggplant is meaty, and soaks up the curry flavour wonderfully. The bulk from the lentils also makes the eggplant almost float on the surface, elevating the vegetable to prominence. It’s a simple curry, made of curry powder, fennel, and cayenne. The cilantro and lemon juice add brightness, adding a bit of ‘pop’ to the end. If the beans are canned or pre-cooked, this is a fantastic weeknight dinner to whip up and impress yourself. If you’re inspired to up the ante, add curry leaves, make your own curry powder (toast the whole or ground spices before grinding/mixing for maximum flavour), and of course you can add more vegetables! Zucchini, green beans, greens, potatoes, or even winter squash would all be fantastic. Served with roti, naan, or a grain and a fresh green salad, and you are ready to embrace the season change with this tasty stew.

The recipe can be found here: Eggplant and Black Eyed Pea Curry


Millennium Green Thai Curry

The picture does not do this dish justice. Apologies for the very poor quality!

The picture does not do this dish justice. Apologies for the very poor quality!

If I could re-name the summer of 2013, I’d call it the year of the zucchini. My CSA showered me with zucchini (courgettes) and summer squash. I did my best to keep up, and what wasn’t eaten raw or cooked was diced, grated, steamed, and frozen for delicious treats come February when I am tired of winter produce. With over 100lbs of zucchini and summer squash this summer, and an apartment sized deep freeze full of the stuff, I have gotten very creative! This Green Thai curry is one such example.

I have waxed poetic about the Pumpkin Thai Curry in the Millennium cookbook before, and am adamant that Eric Tucker is a genius. This Green Thai Curry version uses the same curry paste featured in that recipe, but substitutes all the winter squash for summer squash. Brilliant, right? I then used that curry sauce and included the rest of the curry vegetables that I love to use, as shown in my other Green Thai Curry recipe: eggplant, zucchini (more!), green beans, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and swiss chard. All save for the mushrooms were compliments of my CSA. I don’t know if it was the garden fresh veggies, the new and unique sauce, or the delight in knowing that I used two zucchinis for this bowl of greatness, but this Thai curry is a keeper! I love how the same ingredients for the curry sauce can end up with a completely different taste – it’s all dependent on how you cook it. The scientist in me is fascinated by the different flavour profiles if you add a certain spice in step one or step five, or if you pre-simmer the sauce before adding the vegetables.

There is no new recipe for this dish, just some creative imagination on how to combine two existing ones! So if you are like me and have zucchini coming out your ears and are sick of raw zucchini pasta with pesto (delicious!), try this recipe out – not only do you decrease your zucchini count, but you end up with a delicious, slightly spicy, and very piquant curry! Definitely one to keep for a rainy day!

The curry paste/sauce recipe can be found here: Winter Vegetable Pumpkin Thai Curry

The rest of the vegetable medley can be found here: Green Thai Curry

 

*Note that the vegetables are suggestions only. Use your imagination! In this edition, I also added some home-sporuted mung beans for some extra crunch, which were amazing.


Kala Chana

Kala Chana

Chickpeas are one of the unsung heroes of the legume world. (Lentils are the other). Not too terribly exciting, they demurely sit in many a pantry patiently waiting their turn. Often they are destined for hummus, other times in soups and stews. For those lucky few chickpeas, they are presented to the adventurous as besan, and maybe will end up being delicious socca or Burmese tofu. I have been known to make desserts out of them as well 🙂 These beans are taken for granted, often relegated to the sidelines. This doesn’t have to be the case! Enter Kala Chana, the venue for chickpeas to strut their stuff and shine.

Kala chana are actually black chickpeas, which are smaller and more robust than the more common garbanzo bean. I hunted them down in an Indian market, and immediately fell in love. Make no mistake – they’re still a chickpea, but with more texture and thus more presence. They also fool the eyes into thinking they’re more exotic than the garbanzo – think a black bean in garbanzo clothing! To truly appreciate this bean, I first set about finding a recipe that would really let it shine. Using the Internet, my standard Chana Masala recipe, and various other influences, I created this delicious Indian curry that is sure to satisfy all chickpea lovers out there. And convert all the ‘chickpea haters’. There’s more to the chickpea than hummus and a throw in!

This Kala Chana is a spicy Indian curry with a tomato puree base. I love using fresh tomatoes, green chilies, garlic, and onions and pureeing them first to create the curry sauce. I have also used canned tomatoes in the past, with fantastic results. The resulting puree is so fragrant you know it’ll be delicious. The tempering for this dish is cumin-seed based, with some asafoetida for sourness, coriander and turmeric for ‘curry spice’, and garam masala for a more savory taste. The green chilis and the red chili powder pack a punch, making the final product craveable. The besan (double chickpea action!) acts like a thickener, making the curry sauce have a bit more creaminess and ‘oomph’. I served it over greens, but you can be more traditional and serve it with rice and/or your flatbread of choice (Roti or naan make for great scooping vessels!). Hands down this is one of my favourite curry recipes, and one that I will keep going back to time and time again. All hail the chickpea!

 

Kala Chana

1 cup kala chana (dry) *Note: if you don’t have kala chana, substitute dried chickpeas. Just as tasty!

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 green chilis, chopped

1 tbsp. ginger, minced

1 tbsp. garlic, minced

1 tsp. canola oil

1 tsp. cumin seeds

⅛ tsp. asafoetida (hing)

1 tbsp. besan (chickpea flour)

1 tbsp. ground coriander

½ tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. red chili powder

4 cups water + as needed

salt, to taste

fresh cilantro, chopped

 

Directions:

1) Soak kala chana overnight. Rinse and cook until al-dente.

2) In food processor, puree tomatoes, chilis, onion, and garlic.

3) In large pot heat oil on medium-high. Add cumin seeds and sauté until start to sizzle.

4) Add asafoetida and besan. Stir continuously and cook until besan light brown and toasted

5) Add coriander, turmeric, garam masala, and chili powder. Stir.

6) Add tomato puree. Stir and bring to a boil. Let cook until most moisture gone and starts to darken.

7) Add cooked kala chana, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, let simmer 20-30min.

8) Garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice and flatbread of choice.

 


Mixed Grain Beet Pesto Risotto

Mixed Grain Beet Pesto Risotto

Sometimes I wonder if too much of the Food Network is a bad thing. And then creativity inspires me to create this dish, which on paper looks odd and disjointed at best, but in the mouth is creamy and delicious and bursting with “Summer is Here!” flavour. My first CSA share was a bit of a mishmash, and came with lots of bits and bobs – enough to not want to eat them all raw in salads, but not enough to make a dish highlighting the ingredients. As this summer I am addicted to re-runs of Top Chef and Chopped, I thought that I’d host my own little culinary challenge with my basket. The ingredients:

– Beets (3 small)

– Garlic Scrapes

– Basil

– Cilantro

– Beans

– Radish

– Kale

Granted, all of them could work well together in a myriad of ways – the challenge was the quantity! Tasters of each, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

I adore mixed grains in a risotto/pilaf dish. Because each grain has a slightly different cooking time, the result is a chewy, creamy mouthful of goodness. This dish started out as a pilaf, but when I added the pesto mixture there was too much liquid, so it became a risotto. Quite possibly the easiest risotto ever – no stirring required! (Take that, Tom Colicchio). To the CSA offerings I added cauliflower and red onion – that’s it! The radishes were going to be incorporated, but I ate them all before the dish was born. For good measure, the radish greens made it in though. Radish greens are like dandelion greens, and quite bitter – I am addicted.

I had pre-roasted the beets as an experiment, but I don’t know if it’s worth it. By all means – go ahead if it’s cool enough to turn the oven on. I thought that the roasting quality got lost in the bright risotto, and the pre-cooked beets turned the risotto purple quite quickly. I think next time what I’ll do is leave the beets raw, and grate them on top for garnish. This would make the beet flavour more prominent, add another crunch level, and *hopefully* decrease the beet stain of the risotto!

Regardless, this dish is exceptional. Fancy enough to serve to company, delicious and decadent, I give myself a score of 10! Now where’s the Chopped auditions …

 

Mixed Grain Beet Pesto Risotto

¼ cup barley

½ cup buckwheat

½ cup rice

½ cup wild rice

½ cup red onion, sliced into quarters

¼ tsp. dried thyme

1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets (approx. 4½ cups)

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil (if short, make up difference with fresh cilantro)

1½ tsp. garlic, minced (or 3 garlic scrapes, chopped)

1¼ cup green beans, cut in 1” pieces

½ cup roasted beets, cut into wedges*

1½ cup fresh kale

salt, pepper to taste

*To roast beets, wash beets and place whole in tinfoil packet. Roast at 375dF for 40min-1h, or until just tender.

 

Directions:

1) In large pot, sauté onion in ¼ cup water until translucent, approx. 5min.

2) Add barley, buckwheat, rice, wild rice, and 6 cups water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and simmer approx. 25min., stirring occasionally.

3) In large pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add thyme and cauliflower. Cover and cook until cauliflower tender, approx. 10min.

4) Remove cauliflower from heat and let cool slightly. Puree contents of cauliflower pot with basil and garlic until silky smooth.

5) Add cauliflower mixture to grains. Stir.

6) Add beans to mixture. Stir, cover, and let simmer approx. 5min., or until beans just tender.

7) Add beets, kale. Stir.

8) Adjust for seasonings. Turn off heat and let sit 10min.

9) Stir and serve!

 


Khao Soi Thai Curry

Khao Soi Thai Curry

Khao Soi Thai Curry is a dish that hails from Chiang Mai, Thailand. It is completely different from all other Thai curries I have tried in the past, and completely delicious. Traditionally it is a noodle dish, with a spicy coconut-based curry sauce drenching the noodles. With some crunchy noodles to top off the dish. What intrigued me about this dish was the use of picked sour mustard greens, which I picked up at my local grocery store because I had never heard of them. The other curiosity was the method of the curry paste. Instead of the traditional ginger/lemongrass/herbs/fresh chilies, this one uses roasted dried red chillies ground into a paste with some ginger, shallot, garlic, coriander, and turmeric. I had only seen that technique before with Indian curries, so I knew I had to try this out!

I took inspiration from this recipe found here: Herbivoracious – Khao Soi Thai Curry Noodles. However, I was more in the mood for a vegetable based curry, so I made some significant additions to the recipe. A brief moment of panic near the end of my creation – I had forgotten about the noodles! The dish as I made it however was superb. The curry paste has so much flavour – it definitely packs a wallop even for this spice lover! The vegetables were a lovely counter balance to the tofu, giving the dish different textures. For serving, I chiffonade the picked sour mustard greens and added them to the curry pot. Their tang added that extra dimension to the curry sauce, making it a well-rounded bowl of bliss. Unique and different, this curry is definitely a go-to recipe in the future. Maybe next time I’ll even remember the noodles!

Khao Soi Thai Curry

Curry Paste:

5 large, whole dried red chilis (pasilla, ancho, New Mexico), stemmed

½ cup shallot, diced

2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

½ tsp. garlic, minced

½ tsp. coriander seeds

1 tsp. turmeric

2 tsp. garam masala

Directions:

1) In large pot (save on dishes!) dry roast chilis on medium for 2min.

2) Add shallot, ginger, and garlic. Stir continuously and cook until chilis very fragrant

3) Add coriander, turmeric, and garam masala. Stir to combine.

4) Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

5) Puree mixture in blender with ¼ cup water until thick paste forms. *NOTE* This mixture stained my blender. To let it rest, I highly suggest pouring it into a bowl. Unless you don’t mind turmeric-stained blenders 🙂

Curry:

3 (13.8oz.) cans coconut milk (5¼ cups) OR almond milk

¼ cup light soy sauce

2 tsp. Sucanet

1 (454g.) package firm tofu, cut into ½” cubes

Salt, to taste

1 cup (+) water

Juice of 4 limes

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 cup Chinese pickled mustard greens OR 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage tossed in ¼ cup white vinegar

Optional additional vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, green beans, asparagus, bok choy (or other Asian greens), cherry tomatoes

Version depicted above: 2 chinese eggplants, cut into ½” moons

2 small zucchini, cut into ½” moons

1 cup cherry tomatoes

4 cups fresh spinach

Directions:

1) In large pot pour 1 can coconut milk (1¾ cup). Simmer on medium until milk begins to separate

2) Stir in half of the curry paste, soy sauce, and Sucanet. Simmer until thick enough to coat back of spoon, approx. 10min.

3) Add tofu and optional vegetables. Simmer 10min.

4) Add remaining chili paste, coconut milk, and water. Simmer approx. 5min.

5) Add lime juice, cilantro, and Chinese picked mustard greens. Stir and remove from heat.

6) Serve with noodles.


Sancocho and Chocolate Orange Dulce de Batata Cake

This Latin feast is compliments of Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero. Once again, Terry delivers massive Latin flavour that will make you exercise all your restraint to not eat the whole thing before making it out of the kitchen. I am a novice to Latin food, but these recipes that I have previously written about (and with more to come!) have me seeking out Latin food wherever I can!

Sancocho

Sancocho: The Latin Sambar.

The Sancocho could be best described as a Latin Sambar – they are so similar in fact I often get the two confused! They are both soothing, spicy, comfort foods in a bowl. Sancocho is coloured the distinctive Latin Chorizo “hue” with Annatto spice, the Latin turmeric. The rest of the seasoning is the standard Latin combination of oregano and cumin, supplemented with some thyme and heaps of onions. The soup is loaded with veggies: carrot, yucca, green plantains, tomatoes, and corn. Lima beans add the protein element, and are deliciously creamy. For those with Lima issues, Fava beans, edamame, pinto beans, or even chickpeas would be a wonderful stand-in. I made some modifications to the recipe – I hate corn. With a passion. Thus I omitted the corn on the cob from my soup, and I think it didn’t suffer from intent at all! Although I will not deny – eating corn on a cob in a soup sounds pretty cool. I also added some spinach at the end, because greens in soups are never wrong! The resulting soup is soothing, delicious, and exotic enough to make you think you can cook any Latin dish you desire. (I may be delusional.) This is the perfect soup to usher in the not-quite-ready spring produce but tired of the winter standards of squash and potatoes.

The recipe can be found on p. 154-155 of Viva Vegan!, or on Google Books here.

Chocolate Orange Dulce de Batata Cake

Chocolate Orange Dulce de Batata Cake: Not too sweet, slightly spicy, and all around delicious!

The Chocolate Orange Dulce de Batata Cake is a surprise all in of itself. The frosting is actually Dulce de Batata, which is an orange-infused sweet potato pudding. Yes – sweet potato! I have never had sweet potato as part of a dessert before (or any non-savoury application after the Mashed Sweet Potato and Marshmallow experiences of my childhood – ick), and so I knew I had to try this cake just for that reason. To make the Dulce de Batata is relatively easy – basically boil sweet potatoes to a mash, and stir constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn the bottom of the pan. A helpful tip: use a lid when you reach pudding consistency, otherwise you will end up with sweet potato splatters all over your kitchen. The aroma from this dish was what really surprised me – it was very difficult not eating the entire pot as soon as it was made. The sweet potato taste isn’t pungent, and the cinnamon and orange pair wonderfully.

The chocolate cake is a typical chocolate cake, but with the addition of ‘spice’ cake spices and orange juice. It pairs well with the dulce de batata, and again isn’t a sweet cake. I used a combination of quinoa and buckwheat flour, and it came out wonderfully moist, and had a great crumb. The instructions say to cook the cake as one layer, and then cut the layers in two. I could foresee that disaster, and instead opted to cook two layers of cake separately, and reduced the cooking time. To “frost”, you smear as much dulce de batata as you can on the top of one half, add the second layer of cake, and frost with the remaining dulce de batata. The combination is phenomenal, and definitely something you could serve to company and bask in the compliments. Not too sweet, slightly spicy, and with the hint of orange, it is a chocolate cake you will crave. Especially so for people who are not partial to sweet desserts, and usually avoid chocolate cakes for this reason. I froze my leftovers and ate the rest like cake pops, and I think I liked that serving style even better than eating it fresh!

The recipe can be found on p. 236-239 of Viva Vegan!, or on Google Books here.

Sancocho and Chocolate Dulce de Batata cake – the latest Latin offerings that have continued to open my eyes to the delicious offerings of the Central and South Americas!


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