Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ethiopian Lentils

Have you seen that Hamburger Helper commercial that claims you can (with the Helper's help)
feed a family of four, with vegetables, for under ten bucks? The last shot before the commercial ends shows a serving bowl of Hamburger Helper, a small bowl of peas, and a glass of milk. Some meal. Lentils are super cheap, high in fibre, iron, folate and protein. Ten bucks of lentils could feed your family of four for about a month. This is a fantastic dish that gets a lot of flavour from cooking the lentils with a whole whack of onions. The vinegar may seem like a weird addition, but I assure you it completes the dish.

- 1 1/2 cup green lentils
- 3 cups water (more if needed)
- 2 large sweet onions, halved and sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 fresh green chile or jalapeno, seeded and minced
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse lentils then place in a large saucepan with water, onions, garlic, and chile. Bring to bubbling, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 45 mins, until lentils and soft and onions have more or less disintegrated. Stir periodically and add more water if needed.
2. From here, you can add in the remaining ingredients, cook for 10 mins, and serve. However, if you have the time, I like to add in the spices and cook, uncovered, for another 45-60 mins. Green lentils are durable enough to withstand a lot of cooking without falling apart. This way you can cook off some more of the water and slowly make a nice thick stew. Then, stir in vinegar and cook for 10 mins, season to taste, and serve.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ethiopian Sweet Potato Stew

I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to make more Ethiopian food, so when my in-laws were here for a visit I whipped up a small feast of 3 dishes that I will post over the next few days. My father in law must eat a very low salt diet so well-spiced food is always a great way to go. This dish is so flavourful that I didn't miss the salt, but feel free to season to your taste. An essential element to any Ethiopian meal is some good injera bread. The recipes I see online require a 3 day fermentation period, so I go with Jennifer's recipe in Vegan Lunch Box. It is quick, easy, and has great taste even with the much decreased fermentation time. We all love abandoning our forks and scooping up our food with chunks of spongy, soft injera.

- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 2" piece ginger, minced
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced (around 3-4 cups)
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
- 1 1/2 cups water (more as needed)
- 1 large tomato, small dice
- 1/2 cup red lentils
- 2 tbsp tomato paste (more as needed)
- 2 cups chopped green beans (fresh or frozen)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion, garlic, and ginger for 10 mins, until onion is a nice golden colour. Add sweet potatoes and red pepper and saute for 1 min.
2. Add spices and fry for 1 min. Don't worry about things sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add water to deglaze the pan, then add tomato, lentils, tomato paste, and beans. Mix well.
3. Bring to bubbling, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for at least 30 mins, until lentils and potatoes are soft. Stir occasionally. It is even better of you can let it cook on a low heat for an hour or two. Add more water if stew gets too thick.
4. Stir in parsley and season to taste. Adjust thickness of stew with more water or tomato paste--remember that you want to be able to scoop this up with injera.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Recipe Roundup

Busy, busy, busy! I am fully booked in both my personal and professional life, and that leaves little time to get creative in the kitchen. And, as you have noticed, it leaves little time to blog. So, tonight I thought I would give a roundup of stuff that I have been making lately to point you to gems from the past that you may have missed the first time around. The weather is getting cooler, but is still generally above zero and we have yet to get snow. Huzzah! As you can see from the pic above, soup has been a go to dish these days--packed full of a variety of veggies and perfect with a few slices of freshly baked baguette. This one is kind of like a minestrone, and I have found that I can add slices of kale or chard and the kids will still gobble it down (which is great, because a pile of kale or chard on the plate leads to wailing and gnashing of teeth). I also made Ethiopian stew one night (along with injera from Vegan Lunch Box) and was reminded about how awesome the flavours are. Must make more Ethiopian food, especially because the kids love eating without forks! I also made use of the last pumpkin kicking around the house to make Hearty Autumn Muffins--these are so awesome and full of fibre that you will be happily regular in no time! It was also a way to use up the 100 lbs (or so it seems) of apples I bought to make applesauce. OK, that's it for now, and I promise to be back soon with some new food.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thai Fried Rice

I can't remember how many times I tried to make fried rice back when I started cooking on my own before I learned that cold rice is the key to keep in from sticking together into one lump. It was a great day. Fried rice is a great way to use up extra rice, but I usually try to make a few extra cups so I can make fried rice on Asian night. This recipe has wonderful flavour, and the key is the coconut. Make sure you toast it but don't burn it.

- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp red curry paste (or more to taste)
- 4 cups cooked jasmine rice, cold
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 cup frozen French cut green beans, thawed
- 2 baby bok choy, thinly sliced
- 3 green onions, sliced
- 1 vegan omelet, rolled and sliced (optional)
- juice of 1 lime

1. Heat a wok over medium heat. Dry fry the cashews and coconut, stirring constantly, for a minute or so, until lightly golden and fragrant. Set aside.
2. Increase heat to med-hi and add oil. Stir fry garlic for 30 seconds, until lightly golden, then add in curry paste and rice and fry for a few mins, until heated through.
3. Add brown sugar, sauces, and vinegar and mix well. Add in beans and bok choy and fry until bok choy is wilted but still nice and green. Add in onions, coconut, and cashews and cook for a few mins more.
4. Mix in omelet slices and lime juice and serve.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Burgundy Stew

Hi kids! Sorry I have been gone for so long. Perhaps you caught my guest post on Crazy Sexy Life in the meantime. Things have been pretty interesting around here as of late. We are coming to the end of some pretty tense contact negotiations at work, and I was positive it was going to end in a strike. Well, a strike has been avoided but no contract has been ratified as of yet. The whole thing has been one big pile of stress. Of course, nothing relieves stress like some tasty comfort food. Say, a nice hearty stew.

- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 leek, white and light green part, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 15 whole pearl onions
- 3 turnips, cubed
- 2 parsnips, sliced
- 2 large carrots, sliced
- 2 large potatoes, cubed
- 2 cups red wine
- 2 cups veggie broth (more, if needed)
- 1 19oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 tbsp basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 1/4 cup tomato paste

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute leeks and garlic for 5-7 mins, until softened and beginning to brown. Add onions, turnips, parsnips, potatoes and fry for 2 mins.
2. Add wine to deglaze the pan, then add veggie broth, beans, and basil. Season to taste, then bring to bubbling. Reduce heat, loosely cover, and simmer for about 20 mins, until veggies are cooked. Add more broth if stew gets too dry.
3. Mix tomato paste into the stew, adding more broth if needed to get a nice thick consistency. Add spinach to the pot and cook for a min or so, until spinach wilts but is still a vibrant green. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Spaghetti Squash with Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce

Now that summer is over we are back to the tasteless, anemic, tomatoes from the grocery store. Sigh. I wanted to make a tomato sauce to go with a recently purchased spaghetti squash, but knew that the tomatoes this time of year leave something to be desired. Enter slow roasting. I was amazed--this process brought out more flavour than I ever could have imagined. Combined with the vermouth, this sauce is bursting with tomatoy goodness and is the perfect complement to the flavour and texture of the squash. Obviously, this recipe needs a bit of planning. I roasted the tomatoes the day before and kept them in the fridge until I needed them.

- 1 spaghetti squash
- 6 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- olive oil
- seat salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 leek, light green and white part, thinly sliced
- 1 tomato, small dice
- 1 cup vermouth (plus a few generous splashes)
- 1 tsp basil
- salt and pepper taste

1. Slow Roasted Tomatoes: Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Gently toss tomato wedges and garlic cloves in a bit of olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 3.5 to 4 hours, until well-roasted, wrinkly, but still with a moist centre. Peel the garlic and chop.
2. Roasted Spaghetti Squash: Cut a small hole in the squash to let steam escape. Roast at 375 degrees until soft to the touch. This will depend on how big you squash is, but generally about 1.5 to 2 hours. Cut open, let cool a bit, then remove squash strands with a fork. Toss in a bit of margarine and season with salt and pepper.
3. Sauce: Heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks and saute for a few mins, until softened. Add a generous splash of vermouth and cook for a few mins more, until nice and soft. Add more vermouth, if needed. Add roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, diced fresh tomato, and 1 cup of vermouth. Let simmer for 10 mins or so, until sauce is thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over squash.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Polenta with White Beans, Braised Kale, and Roasted Pears

If you follow this blog at all you know that I usually don't mess around with fussy presentations or preparations. But, you also know that I like to watch Top Chef. The last episode featured Natalie Portman, a vegetarian, but I found the dishes presented to be pretty disappointing so I thought I would take a try at something more fancy. The dish started with wondering about how roasted pears would taste . . . .

Makes 10
Roasted Pears
- 6 Bartlett pears, cored, diced
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar


- 2 cups water
- 1 cup plain soy milk
- 1 cup polenta
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp parsley
- salt and pepper to taste

White Beans
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 leek, white and light green section, thinly sliced
- white wine
- 1 tomato, small dice
- 1 19oz can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- salt and pepper to taste

Braised Kale
- 6 large kale leaves
- white wine
- dash of salt

1. Pears: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss diced pears in oil and vinegar and spread out on a baling sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 30 mins, turning pears regularly. Keep warm.
2. Polenta: Grease 10 large muffin tins. Bring water and milk to boiling. Slowly whisk in polenta and reduce heat to med-lo, stirring frequently to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook for 15-20 mins, until soft and thick. Add spices and season to taste, then transfer into the muffin tins. Let cool, remove from tins, then keep warm.
3. Beans: While polenta is cooking, make the beans. Heat oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Fry leeks for 2-3 mins, until staring to go golden, then add a big splash of wine. Let cook dry, then repeat until leeks are softened (about 5 mins). Add tomatoes and another splash of wine and let reduce a bit. Add beans and a last splash of wine, then let cook for 5-7 mins until tomatoes have turned into a thick sauce. Season and keep warm.
4. Kale: Remove tough stalks from kale leaves, stack leaves, then roll up. Thinly slices rolled leaves. Heat a frying pan over med hi heat. Add kale, a generous splash of wine, and a dash of salt. Let cook for a min or two, until kale is soft but still bright green.
5. Place polenta on a plate, then top with beans, then kale, then pears.