Thursday, December 30, 2010

Puy Lentil Cobbler with Roasted Vegetables and Pumpkin Biscuits for MLLA 30

Lentil Cobbler with Pumpkin Biscuits

It's beginning to look at lot like...Thanksgiving. OK, so I didn't shoot and post anything that I specifically prepared for holiday meals over the past month, but this Napoleon's-chef of a recipe utilized many leftover ingredients which otherwise would likely have gone missing and grotty in the fridge.

This is an extremely versatile dish. You can easily veganize it by omitting the cheese and preparing the biscuits with butter and honey substitutes. You can also dispense with the biscuits altogether; the lentil/vegetable base makes a great quick stew, or hearty soup if you return all the cooking water to it. Trimmed of the fat and full of a confetti of natural vegetable colors, the pared-down riffs allow you a transition to more sensible eating, a perfect kick-off for New Year's resolutions to better health. Please remind me of this when I blog about two take-no-prisoners celebratory recipes early next year.

Puy Lentils & Roasted Vegetables

Puy Lentil Cobbler with Roasted Vegetables and Pumpkin Biscuits
- [Lentil and vegetable recipe, my own. Biscuits are adapted from Country Living; link follows.]

Serves 4 - 6.

2 cups Puy lentils, rinsed
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried sage, dried thyme, or crushed, dried rosemary
1 1/2 cups baby or julienne carrots
1 cup red onions, sliced or diced (I used halved pearl onions)
2 cups diced potatoes, peeling optional (scrub potatoes well if leaving peel on)
1 cup diced rutabaga (also known as a swede or yellow turnip)
3 cups coarsely chopped kale or chard (I used both)
Salt and Pepper to taste (optional; bouillon will be salty)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Recipe for Pumpkin Biscuits, below


Bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Add bouillon cubes and lentils, making sure water covers lentils by at least two inches. Return to boil, then reduce heat to simmer lentils until cooked but slightly al dente. Drain lentils, reserving them in a very large bowl with 2 cups of their cooking liquid.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large oven-proof skillet over medium-low heat, warm olive oil briefly until it shimmers. Stir in your dried herb choice to distribute, then add all the vegetables, tossing well to combine. Place skillet in oven on center rack. Roast vegetables for 12 minutes. Toss them again, and roast for an additional 12 minutes. Remove from oven and stir into lentils and reserved liquid. Transfer into a large casserole dish, at least 9 inches in width or diameter. Top mixture with shredded cheese. Arrange cut biscuits over cheese without overlapping. (Depending on size of casserole, you may have several extra biscuits.) Place assembled casserole on a cookie sheet, arranging any extra biscuits around the casserole. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until biscuits are well browned and cheese has melted. Carefully remove from oven; the casserole will be very hot and heavy. Serve in casserole at table on a large trivet or heat-proof tile. A very large serving spoon will ease dividing and transferring to individual dishes. Top each serving with a biscuit or two. Serve additional biscuits on the side.

Pumpkin Biscuits - Recipe from Country Living
[The changes I made (white whole wheat flour for the white flour, and halving the butter), created a much less rich and much more rustic dough than the original. The flavor of pumpkin is very subtle. For a more pronounced pumpkin flavor, use white flour.]

Ready to Bake - Lentil Cobbler

Pumpkin Biscuits

This recipe is for Priya of Mharo Rajasthan's Recipes, who is kindly hosting this month's My Legume Love Affair 30. Priya will be welcoming your recipes through tomorrow, December 31.


Been There, Done That ~

Roasted Root Vegetable Pot Pie
Yellow Raspberry Rosemary Crisp
Crumb-Topped White Peach Pie

Other People's Eats ~

Peach and Berry Cobbler - Kalyn's Kitchen
Sweet Potato Cobbler - Saveur
Vegetable Cobbler - Ezra Pound Cake

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Congratulations to ....

(Graphic: Microsoft Free Clip Art)

of the blog, Bittersweet. Hannah has won a copy of A Life in Balance by Meg Wolff, courtesy of the author and publisher. Hannah was the lucky seventh commenter on my recent review post, and was selected by


I received a total of twenty-nine comments. Two were omitted (one friend; one latecomer).

Hannah, I will be contacting you shortly to make arrangements to ship your prize to you. I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks to all who participated in the giveaway. Your very thoughtful comments are much appreciated. I wish you all good health and happiness. See you soon!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Meg Wolff's "A Life in Balance" - A Review and Giveaway

"Health is not valued till sickness comes." - Dr. Thomas Fuller, English physician, 1732.

“ Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are. - Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, Lawyer, politician, epicure, gastronome, 1826.

"…. man is what he eats.” - Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach, German philosopher and anthropologist, 1863.

"Ninety per cent of the diseases known to man are caused by cheap foodstuffs. You are what you eat." - Dr. Victor Lindlahr, American physician and health movement pioneer, 1923.

“First and foremost is improving the way you eat.” - Meg Wolff, cancer survivor and macrobiotic nutrition advocate, 2010.
It has been many, many months since I first met Meg Wolff, a seriously health-conscious blogger who writes about diet and nutritional issues on her blog, Becoming Whole 2; The Huffington Post; and her titular site, Meg Wolff. It was, like several million connections in this age of ferocious technology, an online introduction. It was in the early days of launching My Legume Love Affair, a monthly bean-centric food-blogging event which I created to highlight the health benefits, beauty, and marvelous global diversity of every sort of seed and pod bean, as well as other comestible legume plant products. Meg had contributed two fine recipes to the event: a simple navy bean soup, and a vegan chili. Little did I know how much Meg embraced the plant-based meals which I have continued to celebrate from all far corners of the world. Little did I also know the reason for her commitment to what some would consider a radical change in diet: Meg Wolff had been visited not once, but twice with cancer.

Cancer is among the most terrifying diagnoses, haunting not only those who have the misfortune of learning that they have the disease, but also the medical community. Men and women of science have made truly remarkable inroads against its ravages, and yet they still have their work cut out for them in terms of understanding its causes and identifying those who might be most vulnerable. Developing new treatments to eradicate or slow the disease's progression are equally challenging in making a positive change for patients whose quality of life and very longevity are at stake.

Meg, after enduring the loss of her leg to bone cancer, and her breasts to a radical mastectomy when the cancer returned, decided to take it upon herself to search for answers that were far away from the traditional treatments of chemotherapy and radiation, both of which did not leave her with a particularly hopeful outlook for future years of disease-free happiness.

Twelve years later, Meg has more than survived the illness which doctors predicted would take her life in a matter of months. Meg is thriving now, because she had nothing whatsoever to lose by adopting a plan for a plant-based diet, eschewing animal proteins and fats; sugars and other dubious sweeteners; and conveniently processed foods which taste great when you are stressed and in a hurry to be fed, but do not properly nourish.

From this simple, yet radical dietary and lifestyle change, Meg has written A Life in Balance – Delicious Plant-Based Recipes for Optimal Health. With an emphasis on Asian ingredients which have proven to benefit the longevity of women on the Pacific Rim, Meg presents recipes which embrace whole grains; vegetables, herbs, and fruits; legumes; seaweeds; natural sweeteners; and soy products.

Many of the recipes are not particularly difficult to prepare. “Squashed Adzuki,” a mash of four easy-enough-to-find ingredients, will be making its debut on my table very soon. Meg also presents dishes from such notable authors as Rip Esselstyn, creator of the popular 28-Day Engine 2 Diet; and Rory Freedman of the Skinny Bitch series of cookbooks. With so many varied dishes, there is no reason to be bored. The cookbook even presents some very unique and satisfying recipes for the sweet tooth in you. Yes, you can have your treat and eat it, too.

You will not find lard-laden pie crusts, nor high fructose corn syrup in any of Meg's bountiful offerings, but what you will discover between the pages of innovatively delightful recipes are those little precious life lessons on stress reduction (the stress which is often responsible for our poor eating habits), a greater appreciation for life's miracles, and the possibility that you may find yourself quoting Rabbi Harold Kushner:
"One of the most sublime experiences we can ever have is to wake up feeling healthy after we have been sick."
I am very pleased to be able to offer a giveaway of Meg's lovely new book, A Life In Balance - Delicious Plant-Based Recipes for Optimal Health. To be eligible to win, please leave any sort of comment on this post. Anonymous comments must include a contacting email address. I will assume all shipping charges no matter where the winner globally resides. All I request is that you read and cook from it in good health. Comments for the pool of entrants will be collected until 11:59 p.m. New York time, a week from today, December 15. The playing field, at my insistence, is level. The winner will be selected through a random drawing. My family and personal friends are not eligible to win. Even if you have won a previous prize from MLLA, you are still eligible to win this happy, healthy cookbook. I will announce the winner on December 16.

F.T.C. Notice - I received a review copy in addition to a giveaway copy (at my request) from the author and publisher. I am glad to promote this book and would have done so even if I wasn't afforded a copy to give away.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Akara - Nigerian White Bean Burgers for My Legume Love Affair 29

Akara Burger

I've been on a bit of a rampage with cookbook purchases lately. And while I have firm and traditional plans to cook and bake many a European recipe between now and the new year, I am as stuck on torrid spices same as I ever was. I am now the giddy owner of not one, but four compilations from Africa, North Africa, Lebanon, and the Silk Road.

It's getting to the point where my German-American mother is throwing her hands up in exasperation, wailing:

"When are you going to blog again about your heritage recipes? I know you love flinging yourself and your pots and pans to the far corners of the Earth, but don't you think you are neglecting so many great standards from the countries you hail from? Where are your pies, your cookies, your layer cakes; your casseroles, your noodles, your sandwiches?"

"I'm starting my holiday baking very soon, Ma. I know I didn't do Jack-O-Lantern much with the pumpkins and other hard-shelled squashes, but they'll keep, literally. I just need to get one more of those "far-flung" recipes out of my system, then I'll be turning out tortes, pastries, cocktail party nibbles, and those orange, custard-y thingies baked in a crust that everyone's been raving about the last month."

"You haven't baked a pumpkin pie in so long that you don't know what it's called anymore? So, what are you making?"

"I want to try akara, Nigerian bean fritters that are shocked with tiny bits of habanero. Only thing is, I'm in a clutch for one of the ingredients, and the recipe really isn't authentic without it. I have no idea where to get it quick in a hurry; it's not exactly a bread-and-butter item in these parts, despite my ability to source a lot of the diverse and unusual. I'd really like to fry them up once as they are meant to be."

"What is it?"

"Red palm oil, very popular in the tropical regions across Africa."

"Oh, I have it."

"Thanks, Ma. The shortbread stars will be in the oven shortly."

Akara Burgers
- Inspired by the Akara recipe from my copy of The Africa Cookbook - Tastes of a Continent by Jessica B. Harris


2 generous cups cooked white beans, rinsed and drained (Great Northern, Navy, or small white)
1 large egg
1/2 cup dry, sturdy unseasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 teaspoon very finely minced fresh habanero pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons red palm oil* (or other frying oil if not available)

Garnishes (Optional)

Shredded radicchio or other salad leaf (I choose radicchio as a bitter foil for habanero's heat and the musky, woody flavor of red palm oil.)
Mayonnaise or salad cream
Capers or chopped pickle
Additional black pepper


Reserve a quarter cup of beans. In a food processor, grind the remaining beans and egg into a coarse paste. Transfer the bean paste to a large bowl. Add breadcrumbs, red onion, habanero, salt, and pepper. Mix well to combine. Add reserved whole beans, stirring only to combine without breaking them. Form into 4 burgers of uniform size and width, building up the sides evenly to prevent them crumbling at edges when they fry. Warm red palm oil in large skillet over medium-low heat just until it melts. It will be solid, like shortening. Fry the burgers for five minutes on each side until browned. Due to its supernaturally high beta-carotene content, the oil will color the burgers a bright, light orange; ensure browning takes place so that the egg binding is fully cooked. Transfer burgers to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve burgers as is or dress them up on a bed of salad greens and top with optional garnishes, which do add interesting flavor contrasts as well as visual appeal. Alternatively, you can slide burgers into toasted whole grain rolls. In any case, serve immediately while still hot.
* Red palm oil can be found with limited availability in large, diverse metropolitan areas where African communities reside. Due to its extraordinary health**-benefit profile of high percentiles per tablespoon of Vitamin A (9,333 IUs) and Vitamin E tocopherols and tocotreinols (15 IUs), it can also sometimes be found in health food stores. Despite its solid texture at room temperature, it is not a hydrogenated fat and does not contain trans-fatty acids. It does, however, contain 7 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon, and is not a low-calorie food at the typical 120-130 calories per tablespoon of pure fat.

This recipe is for dear Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen, who hosted MLLA 29 for November. Her round-up is already online here.

Priya of Mharo Rasthajan's Recipes is now hosting MLLA 30 for December.


** And speaking of health, seriously good health and seriously healthy eating, please stay tuned for my next post when I review Meg Wolff's A Life in Balance. It's a cookbook that's easy to recommend and a tribute to Meg's commitment to stay alive despite two frightening bouts with cancer. Meg's publisher has sent me an extra copy which I will be giving away a week from the review post. I do hope you can stop by for a winning chance, but most importantly, to learn from Meg's inspiring story what winning chances are all about.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Acili Ezme - Turkish Red Pepper and Walnut Dip

Açili Esme (Turkish Red Pepper Dip)

One of the most mouthwatering of the Middle Eastern meze dishes, acili ezme is a vibrantly red Turkish chopped vegetable dip creased with rivulets of olive oil and jolted with hot pepper paste. It strikes a perfect balance of raw heat and heart-healthy ingredients that will give the spice lover in you just enough color in your cheeks without punishing yourself with the physical pain of swallowing some of those other high-octane chile recipes.

While you can blend a batch with yogurt and dried cayenne for those with sensitive palates (as with this Clifford A. Wright recipe), I prefer the stark, clear flavors of finely chopped bell peppers, onion, tomato, garlic, parsley, and walnuts, stirred into a dense and oily relish that only improves with age if you can keep away from it long enough. My love for this recipe is so large that I will dispense with the glorious, seed-topped pide, or any dipping bread for that matter, and dive into the bowl with an equally large and well-poised spoon. Though effortlessly vegan, it is also an excellent, robust filling for an omelet or dolloped on squares of grilled halloumi cheese.

The tradition of hand chopping each ingredient into precise dice or mince can be time consuming if you are impatient. A food processor will hurry things along, but only if you pulse the vegetables briefly and separately, rather than combining everything and over processing into a purée. This particular recipe's appeal is as much distinctively textural as it is tantalizing. Get out that spoon and taste for yourself.

Acili Ezme - Adapted from the My Kitchen Turkish Food recipe

Serves 4-6 as a starter


1 large red bell pepper, cored and seeded, then cut into quarters
1 large green bell pepper, cored and seeded, then cut into quarters
1 medium red onion
3 cloves garlic
2 medium tomatoes, cored
1 handful fresh, flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons hot red pepper paste (I used harissa)
2 tablespoons canned tomato paste
1 handful walnuts, coarsely chopped then toasted briefly in a dry skillet over medium heat (about 5 minutes, tossing frequently with a large spoon)
Salt and pepper to taste (optional; harissa is highly seasoned)

Garnishes (optional)

Toasted walnut halves
Kalamata olives
Parsley leaves, flat-leaf or curly variety


Pulse the peppers, onion, tomatoes, garlic, and parsley separately in a food processor, only enough to chop each ingredient into fairly uniform pieces. Empty chopped ingredients into a large serving bowl, including any liquid produced during processing. Stir all chopped ingredients together, then add olive oil, lemon juice, hot red pepper paste, and tomato paste. Stir again to combine well. Taste for optional additions of salt and pepper. Dip is ready when the oil rises and separates from the other ingredients, but is best when allowed time for all flavors to meld. Garnish as desired. Serve with traditional pide, pita, or crackers.

This recipe is for Anh of A Food Lover's Journey, hosting Haalo's Weekend Herb Blogging, which just celebrated its fifth year of sharing the glories of cooking and baking with everything edible from plants.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Vegetarian Avgolemono Soup with Quinoa - No Croutons Required: Quinoa

Avgolemono Soup with Quinoa

Avgolemono, the stellar Greek combo of egg and lemon makes for a brilliant bowl of pure sunshine which you can beat up quickly without missing a beat. Applying hot broth to raw egg is not nearly as intimidating as it sounds; the likelihood of wrecking the batch to curdling is slim if you temper the tangy mixture slowly up to a general warmth that the eggs can handle. If this method fails you, you can, at the slightest sign of egg separation, rub the mixture quickly through a cheese cloth-lined sieve. But you must act with lightning quick speed. This will save your soup and your neck if you are planning on serving it to guests. Quinoa, the high-protein South American grain-like seed, is obviously not a traditional ingredient, but adds an off-beat beauty and texture that pair well with the zesty, creamy broth. For a light and satisfying meal, serve with small crusty rolls smeared with soft goat cheese. Drizzle olive oil on the cheese and top with a few crushed Kalamata olives and curls of orange rind.

Vegetarian Avgolemono Soup with Quinoa - My own recipe, generally based on the classic trio of ingredients: broth, eggs, and lemon juice. It is garnished most often with dill.

Serves 4.


1 cup dried quinoa (prepared with plain water according to the package directions)
1 quart vegetable broth
3 eggs
1/3 - 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, strained of pit and pulp (use 1/2 cup if you prefer a very sour taste)
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 small handful fresh dill fronds
Additional salt and pepper to taste (optional, depending on how seasoned your broth is)
Lemon wedges


In a large saucepan, heat vegetable broth. Do not boil nor simmer. Remove from heat. Test its temperature by taking up a spoonful then dipping your pinkie in the broth. If it is uncomfortably hot, it will also be too hot for the egg. Allow to cool slightly before testing again.

In a large bowl, beat eggs with lemon juice until they are very smooth and foamy. Using an 1/8 cup measure, transfer warm broth to egg-lemon mixture, beating very quickly with a whisk to disperse heat after each measure. Continue adding and beating one measure at a time until the mixture is very warm to the touch; you can tell by cradling a hand around the bowl. Pace yourself; the egg must be slowly introduced to incremental heat to prevent curdling. When broth in saucepan cools to comparable temperature of egg-lemon mixture, pour mixture into the saucepan, quickly following with a thorough whisking. Over the very lowest burner flame or setting, heat the soup, whisking constantly to prevent it from engaging with the bottom of the pan, closest to the heat source. Do not let soup even come close to a simmer. As soon as soup begins to steam, remove from heat and pour immediately into serving bowls to prevent stored saucepan heat from overcooking the egg. Adjust salt and pepper per bowl if necessary. Add a generous scoop of cooked quinoa to each bowl, then garnish generously with carrot and dill. Serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side.

This recipe is for lovely Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen, hosting No Croutons Required: Quinoa. Lisa and Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes created No Croutons Required, the long-running vegetarian monthly event featuring soup and salads.

Been There, Done That~

Greek Mushroom Filo Cups
Stuffed Grape Leaves with Avgolemono Sauce
Baklava-Stuffed Figs

Other People's Eats ~

Greek Lemon Soup - The Nourishing Gourmet
Avgolemono Soup - Closet Kitchen
Lemony Quinoa with Butternut Squash - FatFree Vegan Kitchen

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging #259 - The Round-Up

Thanks to everyone who makes Weekend Herb Blogging special every week. The fifteen recipes highlighted below are a testament to the enduring good taste, culinary ingenuity, and endless generosity of the food blogging community. It's always a pleasure when my hosting week comes up every few months. I encourage others who have not yet enjoyed being a host to contact Haalo of Cook Almost Anything at Least Once in order to give it a try. It's an easy, manageable, low-pressure gig. You will thank her for it, as I always do. Haalo herself is organizing the current week's round-up #260, The Fifth Anniversary. I am planning to prepare something to help her celebrate. I hope you can, too.


Stirring a pot of rice and musky mushrooms stirs the
decades-old memories of a cook for her friend and teacher.

Risotto with Porcini and Morels
Katherina - Culinary Flavors
Athens, Greece


Go ahead and pile your plate high with parathas. You will
have little guilt with a fruit-filled recipe free from most fat.

Raw Papaya Parathas
Megha - Live to Eat!!!
Mumbai, India


Sweet onion and savory sage mellow the bitter bite of
a bullet of radicchio mixed in a classic rice recipe.

Medallions of rare fish glow on the plate when trimmed
with the golden crunch of autumn's favorite seed.

Pumpkin Seed-Crusted Tuna
Yasmeen - Heathnut
Ohio, U.S.A.


Though the recipe's name escapes her, a minimalist cook
picks up a fancy trick for a memorably spicy dish.

Apple-like Asian pears pair well with a fall-favorite squash
in a golden bowl of soup strewn with toasted walnuts.

Zuppa di Zucca e Pere Arrosto (Roasted Pumpkin-Pear Soup)
Simona - Briciole
Northern California, U.S.A.


Small and sugar-sweet, seckel pears drizzled with
syrupy, spicy cider are a sexy still life of a dessert.

Cider-Baked Seckel Pears with Rice Pudding
Lynne - Cafe Lynnylu
Georgia, U.S.A.


Meat-rich Spanish cuisine is a challenge for vegetarians, but you can
make everyone happy when you make your own animal-free links.

Mexican Oregano Vegan Chorizo Sausages
Saveur - The Taste Space
Toronto, Canada


Black Forest flavors deepen and darken when a
bottle of brew is blended into a fruitcake batter.

Cherry Chocolate and Stout Loaf
Haalo - Cook Almost Anything at Least Once
Melbourne, Australia


Giant coins of semolina are a savory and sensational departure
from a more familiar recipe for Italian artisan dumplings.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi alla Romana
Val - More than Burnt Toast
British Columbia, Canada


A medley of colorful vegetables tossed with cheeses and
crumbs makes a tasty argument for a meat-free meal.

Veggie Balls
Brii - Brii Blog in English
Lake Garda, Italy


A scooped-out squash is the perfect edible vessel for a
spicy stew that pays homage to a land a world away.

Indian-Spiced Chili in a Winter Squash "Bread" Bowl
Joanne - Eats Well with Others
New York, U.S.A.


A mélange of glistening, creamy vegetables tops toast
rounds for an elegant platter to pass around with cocktails.

Autumn Crostini
Cinzia - Cindystar
Garda Lake, Italy


A handful of home-harvested herbs enchants a simple
pitcher of water with its citrus and woodsy touch.

Tisane of Thyme
Christine - Kits Chow
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


Savory, starchy disks of unripe banana spark and
satiate the appetite when twice fried up to a crisp.

Tostones with Mojo Sauce
Susan - The Well-Seasoned Cook
New York, U.S.A.

As always, please let me know of any errors or omissions. I will correct them as soon as I am notified. Best wishes for a wonderful week!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Going Bananas - Tostones with Mojo Sauce for Weekend Herb Blogging #259

Tostones and Mojo Sauce

My mind is so full these days, it feels as cluttered as an Escher drawing. I need simple food which I can cook and eat with minimal fuss that leaves me recharged and not feeling the least bit deprived. Carbs and fried food, preferably together, are always the answer for me. Not healthy, you say? I hear you. But this classic Latin combo of twice-fried green plantain rounds with a side of shrieking garlic and lime dipping sauce is far less damning than indiscriminate and desperate fingers in the candy dish.

Plantains (Musa paradisiacal), like other fruit of the banana family, are loaded with fiber, potassium, and other nutrients. In their unripe green state, they are far less naturally sugared up than when yellowing and covered in black bruises (although this metamorphosis creates its own culinary delights; see maduros link below).

Despite the indulgence, this dense, savory snack fills you up fast on just a few pieces. Now, if only I could empty my mind just as quickly. ~

Tostones - A generic, historic recipe which I learned from Latin women in my neighborhood when I was growing up.

If you are being careful about your fat intake, my take on the recipe uses a fraction of the oil of the deep-frying method. If you want to avoid it entirely, this recipe from Pioneer Thinking looks very promising.

Serves 2 - 3.


1 large very green unripe plantain
Olive oil
Sea or flaked salt, if not pairing with mojo sauce


Cut stem ends from plantain. Slice fruit through its skin into rounds 3/4-inch thick. Make a few even, tiny cuts around each piece without cutting into the flesh. Peel the skin off and discard. (The traditional method for peeling the skin in one piece is here.)

Pour just enough oil into a large skillet to easily cover the bottom by gentle swirling. Heat the oil on a medium-low burner for a few seconds until it thins. Add plantain pieces, leaving space between them. Shallow fry the pieces for approximately 2 minutes on each side; they will be pale golden. Do not let them brown. Turn off burner. Transfer pieces to a cutting board lined with 2 sheets of paper towels. Place another 2 sheets of paper towels on top of the pieces. With the flat bottom of a heavy glass or jar, press evenly on each piece until it flattens to half its height. Peel off paper towels. If the pieces stick to the bottom paper towels, gently lift them off with a fork. Reheat oil in skillet to medium. Arrange pieces in hot oil and fry them to a golden brown (about 2 minutes each side). Since the pieces will be larger than the originals, you will have to fry two batches. If you find the second batch is a little dry, drizzle in a minimal amount of additional oil. Serve immediately while still hot, either salted or with mojo sauce for dipping.

Mojo Sauce - Adapted from the Whats4Eats recipe


4 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin


Whir all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Pour into small bowl to serve.

This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging #259, which I am hosting. I will have the round-up online tomorrow evening, Monday, November 15, New York time. Thanks to all who have participated. There are a number of posts which I received today; I will acknowledge them tonight before I turn in. Thanks are always in order, too, for Haalo of Cook Almost Anything at Least Once for continuing to champion the WHB cause started by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, the creator of the event.


Been There, Done That ~

Green Plantain Soup
Batata Chips with Ají Amarillo Crema

Other People's Eats ~

Tostones - Mobile Test Kitchen
Maduros - Apartment Therapy - The Kitchn
Chifles - Laylita's Recipes


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging #259 - Here This Week


I am very pleased to announce that I am currently hosting yet another round of Weekend Herb Blogging, the popular weekly food blogging event, going strong in its fifth year. The rules are easy to follow, and you still have plenty of time to send me a recipe post before the Sunday, November 14, deadline. The round-up will be online Monday, November 15.

I will be preparing an easy recipe with green plantains, although if I don't get cracking, they will ripen right before my eyes.

Big thanks to all who have already sent in their posts, and special thanks to Haalo of Cook Almost Anything at Least Once for another opportunity to host this always fun and low-stress event.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Indian Spiced Tamarind Cooler for My Legume Love Affair 28

Indian Spiced Tamarind Cooler

This post was supposed to be all about candy, tamarind candy: those little earthy, sweet, and tangy Thai nuggets rolled in coarse sugar, bursting with bite, their gummy texture clinging to your teeth, their smoldering undercurrent of spice clinging to your tongue. It was supposed to be a snappy exotic departure from all the squash that is lined up in my kitchen for an assortment of cakes, custards, cookies, soups, and the pies that I swore I would resist baking. So I stirred up a pot of tamarind syrup that bubbled (quite appropriately for Halloween) into the foulest black pit of tar ever to spit up at the witches of Macbeth. Such is the magic of candy making.

The slag heap cooled off more quickly than I did; hovering over a hiss of hot sugar for twenty minutes will sweat out every toxin you've ingested for a month. You will be cleansed, but exhausted, and you will want to reach for that chilled high-fructose can of soda, as dewy and dripping as your cheeks. But don't let that extra tamarind go to waste. As simple as preparing chai, you can pour yourself an icy drink as earthy, sweet, and tangy as those Thai hot rocks. If you can't stand the heat, go ahead and get out of the kitchen for a while.
Indian Spiced Tamarind Cooler - From a gorgeous recipe in my print copy of Silk Road Cooking - A Vegetarian Journey
I prepared this recipe without adaptation. It is not available online which prevents me from linking to it. I am also prohibited by copyright to reproduce it here without permission. What I can tell you is that I boiled 1 part tamarind pulp to 4 parts water, then strained the liquid before adding minimal sugar and pinches of powdered ginger, fennel, green cardamom, cumin, and cloves. I've also garnished each glass as instructed with a lime slice and mint sprig. For those who prefer an actual recipe to follow, I have found another stunner: Tamarind Ginger Fizz by Wanderash via the food52 site. This version has a fire ring of chili salt tracing the rim of the glass.

Tamarind Pod

This beverage is for Divya of Dil Se who is wrapping up MLLA 28; her round-up with be online later this week.

Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen is manning the fort for this month's MLLA 29. Do be on lookout for her announcement coming in next day or two. I will have a link in my sidebar as soon as it goes online.


Been There, Done That ~

Peach Oolong Almond Milk Bubble Tea
Japanese Cherry Blossom Tea
Iced Darjeeling Chai Tea

Other People's Eats ~

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Painted Pumpkins
May the day put a big, silly smile on everyone's face. : D

Friday, October 29, 2010

No Frills Friday - Pink Satin Applesauce for Weekend Herb Blogging #257

Pink Velvet Applesauce

Go on. You can admit it: you lugged home just as many fresh fall apples from the farm stand as you did pumpkins to carve for Halloween. Well, I know I did. What to do with them, what to do? Apple pie, of course, is always nice and seasonally appropriate, but devilishly disastrous on your waistline given the buttery, crumbly, flaky platform of pastry that it requires. And that platform of pastry can be just as devilish in another way, too, if you want to do your pie justice with a crust that will be buttery, crumbly, and flaky.

Since all apples need to be cored and seeded regardless of recipe, and most require peeling, I opted for an easy pot of my mother's applesauce, tinted naturally pink from the red peelings, then whirred in the blender to create a silky texture and satiny shine that adds just a little extra oomph for your festive holiday table. You may be tempted to use Red Delicious since they are among the most handsomely red of all apples in the marketplace today, but their beauty is quite literally only skin deep; they are bred for maximum eye appeal and shelf life rather than outstanding flavor. Consider, instead, Jonathan, Stayman, Braeburn, McIntosh, or Macoun. With a little sugar added to the cooking water, these varieties taste so much like candy that you may not even miss that apple pie.

Pink Satin Applesauce – My mother's recipe, reproduced with her permission (original source, if any, unknown)

Serves 4-6.


1 cup water
Scant ½ cup sugar (optional; I used brown)
4 pounds fresh, unblemished red-skinned apples (choose those fruit that are the most deeply red; colors can vary even from same harvest)
1 large bowl cold water acidulated with the juice of 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon or nutmeg to top finished sauce (optional)


Arrange a large saucepan with 1 cup water and optional sugar on stove top. Wash apples under running water. Transfer to cutting board. Core and quarter each apple, removing any errant seeds. Discard cores and seeds. Peel quarters, slipping them into acidulated water to prevent browning. Drop peelings into saucepan with water. Drain off acidulated water from prepared apples. Add apples to peelings in saucepan. Turn on burner to low heat to prevent apples from scorching as they render their own liquid and become softer. Stir occasionally; it will be easier to mix apples with peelings as apples become mushier. If apples are very watery, you can increase heat to medium-low. You will, however, need some liquid to facilitate blending; apples should not be too dense and “dry.” Sauce is ready when peelings have faded to a dull beige. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Spread cool sauce onto large platter or plate. Pick out the peels and discard them. Transfer sauce to blender container. Whir in bursts until sauce is smooth and shiny. Transfer to serving/storage bowl. Dust with optional spice. Refrigerate leftovers.

This recipe is for Chriesi of Almond Corner, hosting Weekend Herb Blogging #257 for Haalo of Cook Almost Anything at Least Once.

I do apologize for not being around much these last few weeks. Work and other obligations have left little time and energy for blogging pleasures. I will be catching up with your recipes as soon as possible. I know that I have missed a great deal of good cooking and baking.

Been There, Done That

Baked Mutsu Apples
Apple Bundt Cake
Cardamon Apple Custard

Other People's Eats

Crockpot Applesauce

Plum Applesauce
Frozen Applesauce
Ancho Chile Applesauce
Cranberry Applesauce

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Legume Love Affair 27 - The Round-Up

In September, you'd been been returning from your late-summer holidays, and some of you with children were busy preparing to return them to another year of school. Everyone always has so much on the plate, and yet you took the time and effort to join the table for another lavish spread of My Legume Love Affair. I am most appreciative...and most hungry. There are sixty-three recipes here, representing the ever-creative dynamos you all are in your kitchens. There is, as usual, something that will comfort or intrigue you - and, of course, torment your diet - from lovely fried morsels to delicate wobbly sweets. Thanks so much for the opportunity to again be your personal hostess.

Please join me in congratulating Tamanna of The Dazzling Kitchen, the winner of the book prize; and Sana of Creative Sanyutka, the winner of the Hurst prize. (Since an international winner cannot take all prizes, a subsequent drawing was conducted from U.S. participants to ensure a Hurst prize will now be awarded every month.) Winners, I will be contacting you directly to make arrangements to have your choices shipped to you. If I've made an error or omission, I will make the correction promptly on your advice.

Divya of Dil Se is currently hosting MLLA 28 and will be happy to pull at least one winner out of a hat for October.

Big thanks, everyone! See you soon!


Mugachi Bhaji ( Yellow Mung Daal Dumplings)
Manali - Manali's Cravings
Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.


Thai Red Beans Curry
Anu - Truth Personified
Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.


Multi-Vegetable Kootu
Priya - A Healthier Me
Sharjah, U.A.E.


Eggplant Tofu Rolls
Laura - Seasonal Foods


Homemade Steamed Egg Tofu
Annie and Nate - House of Annie
Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia


Roasted Stuffed Okra (Bhuni Bharwan)
Sanyukta - Creative Sanyukta
Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.


Narkel Diye Moong Dal (Moong Dal with Coconut)
Tanvi - Sinfully Spicy
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.


White Chicken Chili
Graziana - Erbe in Cucina


Heather - girlichef
Indiana, U.S.A.


Janet - The Taste Space
Toronto, Canada


Samo Seeds Rice and Peanut Soup
Sanyukta - Creative Sanyukta
Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.


Black-Eyed Peas in Yoghurt Sauce
Sanyukta - Creative Sanyukta
Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.


15-Bean Tailgate Chili
Matt - Hurst Bean Blog
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A.


Simple Dal
Pavani - Food Lovers


Lentil and Root Vegetable Pasties
Johanna - Green Gourmet Giraffe
Melbourne, Australia


Piyaju (Dal Pakora)
Tamanna - The Dazzling Kitchen
Toronto, Canada


Red Kidney Bean Curry
Usha - Veg Inspirations
North Carolina, U.S.A.


Quinoa, Basmati Rice and Red Lentil Pilaf
Katie - Thyme for Cooking
Lot en Garonne, France


Urad Dal Vada
Priya - Enveetu Kitchen
Sharjah, U.A.E.


Sprouted Chana Palak Curry
Sujana - Sujana's World
Illinois, U.S.A.


Sweet Lentil Stuffed Flatbread
Sanyukta - Creative Sanyukta
Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.


Corn and Saffron Cappuccino
Vanessa - Sweet Artichoke


Channa Pulao
Amritha - AK's Vegetarian Recipe World
San Diego, California, U.S.A.


Roasted Bell Pepper Hummus
Satyasree - Super Yummy Recipes
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.


Chickpea Adai with Bell Pepper Chutney
Satyasree - Super Yummy Recipes
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.


Sprouted Mung Aloo Paratha
Satyasree - Super Yummy Recipes
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.


Cauliflower and Peas Pulav
Nithu - Nithu's Kitchen
New Jersey, U.S.A.


Red Kidney Beans and Mint Biryani
Nithu - Nithu's Kitchen
New Jersey, U.S.A.


Pav Bhaji with Chickpeas and Peas
Nithu - Nithu's Kitchen
New Jersey, U.S.A.


Cabbage and Chickpea Roulade
Soma - eCurry
Texas, U.S.A.


Garlic Hummus
Nidhya - Aaha Oho
Washington, U.S.A.


Sprouted Green Gram Salad
Amritha - AK's Vegetarian Recipe World
San Diego, California, U.S.A.


Mung Bean Jelly
Treat and Trick - Treat and Trick


Eggplant Curry Stuffed with Coconut
Akheela - Torview Toronto
Toronto, Canada


Gujarati Tuvar Dal
Priya - Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes
Paris, France


Marinated Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus
Lisa - Lisa's Kitchen
London, Ontario, Canada


All Time Classic - Simple Dal
Parithra - The Yummy Morsel
Maryland, U.S.A.


Corina - Searching for Spice
London, U.K.


Lentils and Sausage
Sarah - Seph's Well Fed
Mishawaka, Indiana, U.S.A.


Crock Pot Dal Makhani
Denise - Oh Taste N See
Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.


Horsegram Rasam
Nithu - Nithu's Kitchen
New Jersey, U.S.A.


Spicy Dry Lentil Powder
Sanyukta - Creative Sanyukta
Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.


Mung Dal (Lentil Soup)
The Magpie - Magpie's Recipes


Serbian Bean Soup
Lana - Bibberche
California, U.S.A.


Eritrean Alitcha Birsen
Bala - A Life Journey Together
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A.