NOT QUITE MOQUECA

Moqueca is one beloved dish in Brazilian cooking. Several ingredients are mandatory: coconut milk, dende oil, tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro. The main protein can be shrimp, fish, or both. It is spicy, luscious, quite filling, and always served over a simple white rice. I have already messed up with this classic before, but with this recipe I shall infuriate my fellow native Brazilians a second time.

MOQUECA-STYLE SHRIMP AND CHICKPEAS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1.5 pounds large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (14.5 oz)
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1 shallot, finely diced
1 red or orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon harissa (or to taste)
1.5 cups crushed tomatoes with their juice
3/4 cup light coconut milk
fresh cilantro to taste
juice of half lemon

Heat the oil on a large sauce pan. Add the fennel, shallot and bell pepper, saute everything together seasoning with salt and pepper until translucent and very fragrant.

Add the crushed tomatoes, harissa, and chickpeas, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the shrimp and  coconut milk, simmer gently until the shrimp is cooked, 5 minute or so. Add the cilantro, lemon juice and serve over white rice.  If you like, add some hot sauce on the plate.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Moqueca originated in one of the hottest states of Brazil, Bahia. Even though it is a kind of stew, it is enjoyed the whole year, even at the height of the summer. I like to bring this up because those of us living in the Northern hemisphere are headed to very warm days. Don’t twist the nose to a nice serving of moqueca for that reason. This will please you no matter how hot it is outside.

I completely forgot to get fresh cilantro at the store, so I added a couple of Dorot frozen cilantro cubes together with the coconut milk/shrimp mixture. But don’t make this mistake, fresh cilantro not only looks great but it adds a lot more flavor, especially if added right before serving the meal.

I committed many sins with the recipe, but served it over white rice as any good Brazilian would. I hope this helps restore my reputation.

ONE YEAR AGO: Roasted Butternut Squash with Cashew Nuts

TWO YEARS AGO: Mississippi Roast and the Open Mind

THREE YEARS AGO: Walnut-Raisin Bran Muffins

FOUR YEARS AGO: A Star is Born!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Chestnut Flour Sourdough Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: Kinpira Gobo and Japanese Home Cooking

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Walnut Sourdough

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Thai Chicken Curry

NINE YEARS AGO: Zen and the art of risotto

 

SHORT RIBS WITH CHICKPEAS AND CHARD & LONDON COOKBOOK REVIEW

In my previous post I mentioned I’ve been mesmerized by all things Middle East. True. But there’s more. I’ve been also enjoying a virtual love affair with the United Kingdom in general and England in particular. A fascination that started many years ago when I got obsessed by Henry VIII. To the classic question ‘which book would you take to a desert island?” my answer comes quickly, The Autobiography of Henry VIII, a masterpiece composed by Margaret George. A real tour de force in historical research and writing. More recently, shows like Outlander, The White Queen, The Tudors, and The Crown have only added to my fascination with the UK. So, when amazon.com suggested The London Cookbook: Recipes from the Restaurants, Cafes, and Hole-in-the-Wall Gems of a Modern City I wasted no time investigating it further. Next thing I knew, it was in my  shopping cart. The book, written by Aleksandra Crapanzano, is pretty much a declaration of culinary love to one of the most amazing cities in the world. I’ve been to London a few times, a couple of those super briefly on a weekend break while living in Paris. Reading the book gave me an intense desire to buy a ticket and fly back. With the book in hand, following Aleksandra footsteps. Speaking of it, she opens the book with a nice walking tour that passes by… Ottolenghi’s spot, in search of his legendary Tahini Cookies.  A book that starts like that… is a book I must own. Aleksandra was kind enough to allow me to publish a recipe from it, so without further ado, here I go…

short-ribs2

SHORT RIBS WITH CHICKPEAS AND CHARD
(published with permission from Aleksandra Crapanzano,
recipe from The London Cookbook).

1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground caraway
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
2 cups cooked chickpeas
6 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 lemons
1 cup labneh or full-fat Greek yogurt

Combine the salt, cumin, caraway, coriander, and paprika. Sprinkle half of the spice mixture over the ribs. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day, pat the ribs dry with paper towels.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the ribs and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. If your pan is on the small side, work in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. Transfer the ribs to a plate, leaving the oil behind. Add the onions to the pan and sauté over a medium-low heat until they are soft and nearly translucent. Stir in the garlic followed by the chard and the remaining spice mixture. Stir and cook for 5 minutes longer. Add the short ribs and chickpeas, pour in the stock, and bring to a boil. Skim any foam that floats to the surface and then lower the heat, partially cover, and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, basting occasionally. The ribs are done when the sauce has thickened and the meat pulls away from the bone. Season with salt and pepper and the juice of 1 lemon. If you have labneh, use it. Otherwise, vigorously whip the yogurt and olive oil together with a fork. Season to taste. Serve the stew with a dollop of labneh and a wedge of lemon.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Short ribs are the definition of comfort food, but when chickpeas and chard are added as supporting actors, you have a show-stopping dish that spells comfort in capital letters. I knew it would be hard to get a good picture, because well, that is the problem with brown food, but allow yourself to go past the photo and trust me, the taste is sublime. Plus, Aleksandra’s choice of labneh to spoon on top fulfills the circle of my fascination, joining Middle East and England in one amazing dish. There’s something about labneh, you must try it if you are a labneh virgin. Easy to make if you cannot find it at your grocery store, just follow Sawsan’s recipe and be ready to be amazed.

shortribs

And now, a virtual tour of Aleksandra’s book…

First, let me say that she is a delightful writer. She doesn’t simply offer you a recipe, she will show you why that particular restaurant made the cut to be showcased in her book. The quality of the food matters, but it’s clear that behind great food and service you’ll find genuine, hard-working people with the passion to share their cooking with family, friends, and customers. You will read fascinating stories about places that have been in business for a long time… She offers the perfect amount of prose before each recipe, with a nice balance of wit and knowledge. The recipes are for the most part quite straightforward to make at home, Aleksandra often suggests adaptations for ingredients that might be hard to find.  As you know, I have no partnership with amazon.com or any other company, and only review cookbooks I fall in love with. This was definitely one of them.

The book is divided in 10 chapters.

Chapter #1 – Light Fare. The first recipe of the chapter is a perfect example of what the book is all about. A wonderful praise of Ruth Rogers, from The River Cafe, the way she runs her restaurant with “no shouting, no swearing, no fear.”  The recipe, a Crab and Raw Artichoke Salad. Have you ever considered shaving artichokes to enjoy in its raw form? I had not. Intriguing…  Other favorites from the chapter: Potted Shrimp, from Rules, a place dear to my heart, since Phil and I enjoyed two very romantic dinners at Rules years ago; Shrimp Aguachili Seviche with Jalapeno and Citrus; Grilled Leeks, Chevre, Brown Butter & Smoked Almonds. Smoked almonds, now that’s something to dream about.  In this chapter you will get to know interesting facts about Ottolenghi, in the introduction to one of his recipes – Mung and Haricots Verts. As Aleksandra puts it, the recipe is “very Ottolenghi.” The mung beans are Asian, the haricots verts French, the spices Indian. The recipe for the classic Welsh Rarebit comes with a delightful description of two gentlemen enjoying it at St. John. All very proper, as you must expect for all things London.

Chapter #2 – Soups. My heart missed a beat with the description of the Fennel and Watercress Soup from Newman Street Tavern. Fennel is like green candy for Aleksandra, and I was left nodding in full approval. She mentions walking in blizzard-like conditions in New York to get some fennel juice at City Bakery, and that made me want to go to London with a stop at JFK with enough hours to allow for a quick Uber drive to that spot. If you live in New York, go sip a glass and tell me all about it.  She follows with Smoked Paprika, Piquillo Pepper, and Tomato Soup with Chevre Toasts. Yes. To. All. How about Roasted Corn and Chorizo Chowder? But the recipe that had me mesmerized for good was Celeriac and Chanterelle Soup. I made it. I absolutely loved it. Here it is, as a teaser for you. Simply spectacular.

parsnipsoup2
Chapter #3 – Pasta, Rice, and Grains.  This whole chapter is a must-cook. Just to give you a couple of examples, consider the Cinnamon-Scented Porcini Duck Ragu, from Mission. If I had easy access to duck meat, I would definitely make it.  Another dish that almost made it to my choice to feature the book: Pork Shoulder, Black Pepper, and Mascarpone Ragu. Totally understandable, right?  But maybe the very best is a Chestnut Straccetti with Mushrooms and Chestnuts. You make the pasta from scratch using chestnut flour. OMG.  Her description says it all: This dish is, quite simply, a knockout.  The photo, folks, the photo is almost too much to stand. You need to host a dinner party for your very best friends and bring that to the table.

Chapter #4 – Vegetarian.

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This session opens with Spiced Heritage Carrots, Freekeh, and Labneh, which prompted her profession of love for cardamon, which I totally share. In fact, I also open the jar and take a good sniff just for the pleasure of it. It makes me feel like riding on a magic carpet to far away lands. This recipe has my name written all over it and I know I’ll be making it soon.  It follows with Roasted Squash, Braised Lentils, Soft-Boiled Egg, Garlic Yogurt, and Dukka. A symphony. Potato Chaat with Pomegranate, Mint, and Rose Raita also quite enticing to me, and apparently to everyone who dines at Gymkhana: almost everyone who walks through the door of Gymkhana orders this potato chaat before even being shown to a table. Talk about endorsement!

Chapter #5 –  Seafood. Scallops with Corn Puree and Chile Oil is maybe my favorite choice in this nice chapter.  Of course, she includes the classic Fish and Chips, her version coming from Tom’s Kitchen.  In her words: They are indisputable. A fact of British life. “Since the days of Charles Dickens and his chips with reluctant drops of oil“.  How cool is that? But there’s also Sugar-Brined Salmon with Radish, Cucumber, and Pea Shoot Salad, Ginger and Cilantro Spiced Cod with Cauliflower Couscous (love this one!), or my favorite fish in the world, Sea Bass with Hot Paprika Vinaigrette, from Moro a must-visit restaurant.

Chapter #6 – Fowl.  I would gladly cook (or eat) every single one of the recipes in this chapter. Period.  It starts with Chicken Scaloppine with Mushrooms and Marsala, you simply cannot go wrong with that. But how about Indian Chicken and Pumpkin Curry?  In fact, the chef behind that recipe, Mark Hix, from Tramshed, was one of the first to offer recipes, encouragement and introductions to Aleksandra when she started her research for this book.   Chicken Berry Britannia is a very interesting recipe too, the name pays tribute to a very famous place, Bombay’s Britannia. Americans will flip for Buttermilk Fried Chicken in Pine Salt. Yes, pine salt. Or some Honey-Glazed Duck Breast with Roasted Plums and Bok Choy

Chapter #7 – Meat. The recipe I shared with you comes from this chapter, obviously. The chapter is full of unusual recipes, counting three different takes for the fashionable pork belly: Kakuni (Japanese Braised Pork Belly), Ottolenghi’s Pork Belly with Apple and Yuzu Puree with Black Bean Sauce, and finally Treacle-Cured Pork Belly. You will also find the super classic Beef Strogonoff, a version coming from The Delaunay. Her words: strogonoff has lost its reputation, having appeared too often and never well, on one too many cafeteria lines and airplane trays. So true!  This recipe will do away with unpleasant  memories… I should try it, as Beef Strogonoff is a favorite of ours.

Chapter #8 – Desserts.

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I would make every single one of the recipes. There, I said it. And I don’t even like sweets that much. Starting with Chocolate Nemesis, described as “this is the real thing.” But how about Ras El Hanout and Buttermilk Loaf?  Irresistibly intriguing. Muscovado Custard. OMG. My favorite perhaps would be Orange, Mint, and Rose Petal Cake. I almost chose it as featured recipe. Bakewell Tart from Rules also called my name. By the way, did you know that Rules Restaurant opened the same year that Napoleon began his campaign in Egypt? Yeap, 1798, making it the oldest restaurant in London.  And was a favorite spot for Clark Gable, Charles Chaplin, amongst others. A total of 22 mouth-watering recipes to choose from in this chapter.

Chapter #9 – Chilled Desserts. Baked Alaska is in there, but the recipe that has me absolutely mesmerized is Black Sesame Panna Cotta. I even bought black sesame paste and intend to try it soon. Her description (and the photo) is enough to make me drool in anticipation.  Of course, Orange Blossom and Milk Pudding, Burnt Orange Chocolate Sorbet (swoon!), and Marsala Raisin Ice Cream would be more than welcome to wrap up a dinner party.

Chapter #10 – Cocktails. I confess that the “idea of a cocktail” appeals more to me than actually having one. But if you enjoy them this chapter will be quite amazing.  From River Cafe you’ll find White Peach Summer Martini, and Blood Orange Winter Martini. There’s also a Mumbai Martini from Benares, one of the most sophisticated restaurants in London.  This particular drink has notes of curry and ginger. Maybe I should turn it into a tea? (just kidding).  But, speaking of tea the Cinnamon Bellini would be perfect for tea lovers, as it mixes Assam tea leaves with cinnamon schnapps (Godschlager). Ottolenghi shines in this chapter too, with a Sage and Cardamon Gin with Pineapple and Cloves.  All quite enticing!

I hope you enjoyed my little virtual tour of  The London Cookbook. Consider making a little place for it on your bookshelf, even if it is a bit crowded, like ours. Or, go Kindle for a guilty-free experience, which is exactly what yours truly did.

Aleksandra, thank you once more for allowing me to publish one recipe from your wonderful book! I simply must go back and go straight to Ottolenghi to grab a nice portion of tahini cookies. Then, keep calm and carry on!

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ONE YEAR AGO: Asian-Style Short Ribs 

TWO YEARS AGO: Herbed Goat Cheese Souffles

THREE YEARS AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

FOUR YEARS AGO: Jammin’ Blueberry Sour Milk Pancakes

FIVE YEARS AGO: Scallops with Black Pasta in Orange Cream Sauce

SIX YEARS AGO: Stir-fried Chicken with Creamed Corn

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedo

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THE BEST, THE VERY BEST HUMMUS

We eat hummus all the time. Almost always store-bought, because we actually like the two brands available in our neck of the woods: Sabra and Athenos. Sometimes I refresh it with a little lemon juice, olive oil, some cumin or paprika, but sometimes we just dig in, straight from the container. I have quite a few hummus-like recipes in the blog, departures from the classic, using avocado, edamame, even pumpkin. Oddly enough, I never posted the classic, chickpea-tahini entity. Until now, that is. The recipe I tried this past weekend was a revelation, and I am still kicking myself for taking such a long time to try it, when bloggers and cookbook authors have been raving about it for ages. This is the way hummus is prepared in the Middle East. The prominent flavor is exactly what is intended to be: chickpeas and tahini. No distractions. The texture, unbeatable. Absolutely nothing to do with the grocery store variety. This might just spoil you forever.  I adapted the recipe from a few sources, including Ottolenghi, to make a version that has a little bit less tahini and more lemony. Play with it, but don’t mess with the cooking of the chickpeas.

hummus
THE VERY BEST HUMMUS
(adapted from several sources)

1 cup dried chickpeas
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup tahini (best quality you can find)
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup cold water
red pepper flakes (optional)
cumin or paprika for decoration (optional)

The night before making the hummus, cover the chickpeas with enough water to cover by 2 inches and soak them for 12 hours. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and place them in a large saucepan with the baking soda. Cover them a couple of  inches of water and bring the water to a boil. Simmer for an hour or until very tender. Drain the beans, let them cool slightly and add to a powerful mixer (Vitamix is available). If you don’t have a Vitamix, use a food processor.

Add the lemon juice, tahini, salt, and blend until very smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in the water and continue to blend for a few more minutes. Taste and season with additional salt if needed. Add the red pepper flakes, if using, and mix gently. Transfer to a serving dish, top with a drizzle of olive oil, maybe some cumin or paprika sprinkled on top. If you like, a little bit of fresh lemon juice brightens up the flavors.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: When Phil tried the first bite of Ak-Mak cracker with this creamy hummus spread on it, he was silent for a few seconds, then told me it was the best hummus he’s ever had. Followed by… you know you’ll have to make this all the time now, right? I have to agree, the texture is three logs of magnitude better than any hummus you can buy or make by simply opening a can of chickpeas. I guarantee you it is worth the time you’ll have to wait for the beans to get tender. Just go for it, do it on a Saturday morning, while you sip your coffee, your tea, while you read the newspaper. Just remember to soak the beans the evening before. That is all.  You will notice there is no garlic in my version. It is listed as optional by some, mandatory by others. I am very partial to the pure flavor of chickpeas and tahini and find that garlic would throw this delicate balance off. You should do what your taste buds tell you to…  Olive oil? Only drizzled on top at the time you serve it. In the hummus itself, water is the best emulsifier. Just think about it, tahini is extremely oily, adding more oil to the dip makes no sense.   It is soooo creamy, I tried to capture the texture on my first photo, it has the feeling of a luscious mousse. Everyone was mesmerized by its looks. Everyone.

bogeyhummus


Go ahead, make my day and pin me!

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ONE YEAR AGO: Cheddar Cheese Crackers

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INDIAN SPICED CHICKEN WITH CHICKPEAS AND SPINACH

Another great recipe using my beloved pressure cooker, but no need to run away if you don’t own one, the original method (found here)  uses a regular pan.  We’ve been so busy lately (by lately I guess I mean a few years in a row…)  that shortcuts to get dinner at the table faster are more than welcome. As long as they don’t compromise flavor. No need to worry about it in this recipe, flavorful is one adjective that comes to mind to describe it.

Chicken Curry Spinach

 

INDIAN SPICED CHICKEN WITH CHICKPEAS AND SPINACH
(adapted from Bon Appetit)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used grape seed oil)
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 + 1/2 tablespoons grated ginger
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1 cups chicken broth
5 ounces baby spinach
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped (optional)

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat or in your pressure cooker. Season chicken with salt. Working in batches, cook chicken, reducing heat as needed to prevent over-browning, until golden brown on all side.Transfer to a plate.

Add butter and shallot to drippings in pot; season with salt. Cook, stirring often, until soft and fragrant. Stir in ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne. Cook, stirring constantly, until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in chickpeas and chicken broth. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pot. Bring to a simmer. Cover pot and either braise it in a 325 F oven for about 50 minutes, or cook under pressure for 15 minutes.

Quickly release the steam (or place the closed pan under running cold water in the sink), and when the pressure equalizes open the pan. Return the pan to the stove, add the spinach and simmer for a couple of minutes until wilted. Stir yogurt into cooking liquid, mix gently and serve right away, sprinkled with fresh cilantro, if you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

served

Comments:  I absolutely love the way pressure cooking intensifies the flavors of a sauce, and this one with all the warm spices and the chickpeas turned out quite spectacular indeed. The recipe made so much sauce that even after leftovers were enjoyed at lunch, a little sauce remained. I went at it with a spoon on day 3. Yeah, that good.  And, of course the time-saving aspect is hard to be neglected…

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This recipe could be served quite simply with a slice of naan bread, but I opted for cauli-rice and some snow peas sautéed in olive oil and a little mint. We ate like the King and the Queen… except for the fact that we did the dishes afterwards. I doubt royalty deals with such mundane issues. Their loss. Doing dishes can be a lot of fun. All you need is the right music in the background…

😉

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Curry Cardamon Cookies

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, March 2014

THREE YEARS AGO: Boeuf Bourguignon for a Snowy Evening

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chickpea Salad

FIVE YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

SIX YEARS AGO: Roasted Onion and Asiago Cheese Miche

SPINACH AND CHICKPEA CURRY

This recipe was published in a recent issue of Fine Cooking magazine, and it called my attention because I absolutely love chickpeas. My dear Mom would have a shock if she read my blog. I would not touch chickpeas with a 10-foot pole when I was a child. Actually, I would not touch them until I was about 30 years old.  Then, I fell in love with hummus without realizing what went into it.  Once I became aware of the true nature of hummus,  I decided that by crushing those strange-looking grains, and mixing them with a ton of other stuff, their evil nature was neutralized.  From the tasty dip to trying the actual beans many years more passed.  But now you have me here, enjoying chickpeas in every possible way, roasted, sautéed, braised… Go figure.  This is a very nice way to prepare them, by the way. For a recipe that comes together so quickly (start to finish will be less than 20 minutes), the taste is surprisingly complex.  The amount made was enough for our dinner and two lunches for me and me only.  I did not even offer to share.  It was better on day 2, and outstanding on day 3.   Make this and you will thank me…

SpinachChickpeaCurry

SPINACH AND CHICKPEA CURRY
(slightly modified from Fine Cooking magazine)

3 Tbs. canola oil
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh ginger
1 Tbs. curry powder
1 tsp. garam masala
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 14-1/2-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt or to taste
7 oz. (7 packed cups) baby spinach (I used less)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (optional)

Heat the oil in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, ginger, curry powder, garam masala, and cayenne, and cook, stirring often, until the shallot is softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the chickpeas, tomatoes, and about 1 tsp. salt. Add the spinach by the handful, stirring to wilt it as you go. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the spinach is completely wilted and the flavors have melded, 4 to 5 minutes more. Season to taste with more salt, if needed. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cilantro.

Serve with the yogurt on top, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Served

I should have changed the name of this recipe to “Chickpea & Spinach Curry“, because mine definitely was chickpea-heavy. I used all the spinach I had leftover from a huge bag, but clearly more would have been better. Spinach: the ever-disappearing leaf… We enjoyed this tasty curry with my default chicken thigh recipe that has been on the blog since its beginning.  It is one of Phil’s favorites, that and my Chicken Parmigiana. are on the top of his selected list of frequent requests. You know, partners of food bloggers suffer a strange fate: rarely a dish is made again, no matter how great.  We are always in search of the next best thing.

Back to the curry, though.  I can see it served over couscous for a completely vegetarian meal, satisfying and super delicious. On day 2, I had some chicken to go with it, but on day 3 the simple couscous was my whole lunch, with half an avocado to round-up the meal. Sort of India meets Mexico. The hot curry with the cool avocado was a surprisingly nice match.

ONE YEAR AGO: Sautéed Zucchini with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil

TWO YEARS AGO: Orzo with Heirloom Tomato Relish

THREE YEARS AGO:  Headed to Brazil!

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Rhubarb Brouhaha: Revelation Compote

FIVE YEARS AGO: Love me tender…

CILANTRO JALAPENO “HUMMUS”

cilantrohummus11
I haven’t yet met a “hummus” I did not like. This one is another example of a tahini-less version, with the garbanzo beans standing up to justify the name. 😉  The recipe is from a wonderful blog I recently stumbled upon:  “Garnish with Lemon“.  It called for peeling the chickpeas, and after reading a lot about the benefits of this extra-step, I went for it. You’ll need a considerable amount of Zen for the job, but I now believe it is totally worth the trouble.  If I am making hummus just for the two of us, I might skip it. But, for special occasions you’ll find me standing by the sink, mindfully peeling pea by pea while wondering about the meaning of life, the origin of the universe, and the mechanism of iron uptake by Escherichia coli.

CILANTRO-JALAPENO HUMMUS
(adapted from Garnish with Lemon)

1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, rinsed and peeled
1 cup cilantro
1/2 cup Italian parsley
1 jalapeño, seeded
3/4 tsp salt
Juice of 1+ ½ limes
1/8 cup olive oil
2 Tbs non-fat yogurt (more or less according to consistency)
.
Place the beans, cilantro, parsley, jalapeño, salt and lime in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for at least two minutes, until well mixed and smooth, stopping to clean the sides of the bowl halfway through. Slowly add olive oil as the food processor is running.
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Stop the processor, add one or two tablespoons of yogurt, depending on how thick or runny your dip seems.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Place in a container and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here
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comphummus.
Comments:
  The composite picture above should help me convince the hummus-makers out there that peeling the chickpeas is a good move.  See all those peels on the first photo? I had worked maybe half of the can at that point. The peels have a bit of a slimy texture. Getting rid of them can only improve your masterpiece.
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hummus111.
This creamy dip is great with pita chips, Ak-mak crackers, carrot sticks, but trust me: it works tremendously well over grilled salmon, and it would certainly be great topping other grilled concoctions like chicken breasts, thick tuna steaks, pork tenderloin.  Of course, being a lover of cilantro is mandatory to enjoy this versatile “hummus”.
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ONE YEAR AGO: A Moving Odyssey (has it been one year already?  😉

HEART-HEALTHY RECIPE FOR A CAUSE

Through The Secret Recipe Club, I got to know Jey, from “The Jey of Cooking“.  A year ago, her Mom received a new heart in a transplant, and Jey decided to post a heart-healthy recipe in her blog, inviting also other bloggers to do the same.  For every recipe posted, she made a donation for The American Heart Association .  Now, to mark the first anniversary of her mother’s surgery, she is launching the same campaign, and this is my contribution.  By the way, if you have a food blog, or even if you don’t, you can join too: simply cook a heart-healthy recipe, blog or take photos from it, and send an email to Jey, you can find more details jumping here.  The deadline is March 25th.

CHICKPEA AND FIRE-ROASTED TOMATO SOUP
(adapted from Fine Cooking; issue 116, March 2012)

1 Tbs. olive oil
Fine sea salt
1 medium shallot, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (15 oz)
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
2 rosemary sprigs
3 cups water (or vegetable broth)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup low fat yogurt
squeeze of lemon juice

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.Add the onion, celery, carrot, and a pinch of salt and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas and tomatoes with their juice, stir to combine, and cook for 1 minute. Add the rosemary, water, 1 tsp salt, and freshly ground black pepper.  Partially cover the pan and simmer gently for 20 minutes.  Remove the sprigs of rosemary, leaving behind any leaves that fell off the stem.  Purée the soup with a hand blender or in batches in a regular blender or food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, mix the yogurt with lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Divide the soup among 4 bowls, add a nice dollop of yogurt in the center of the bowl, and swirl it around with chopsticks.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

The original recipe, in the latest issue of Fine Cooking,  used regular tomatoes and had a higher proportion of chickpeas.  I confess to having a mild addiction to the heat and flavor of Muir fire-roasted tomatoes, so I try to sneak them in my cooking at every opportunity.   Their heat was quite obvious, so the yogurt swirl was a nice addition to tame the fire.

We are pretty much saying goodbye to soup weather, but this version would be great even on a warm Summer evening.  Chickpeas and tomatoes are  awesome together. I have paired them in stews and salads, but this was my first time enjoying them in a soup.  Tasty!

Jey, I hope you’ll get a lot of contributions to celebrate the first anniversary of your Mom’s surgery!

ONE YEAR AGO: Almond Butter Cake

TWO YEARS AGO:  Taillevent (a meal to remember…)

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