Monday, May 31, 2010

Sweet and Sour Green Chickpeas and Spinach Curry - My Legume Love Affair 23 and Green Gourmet 1

Palak Hara Chana

It's not easy staying green. That's what I learned when I made this glorious recipe using the uncommonly beautiful and tasty green chickpea. I'd fully expected to prepare this with the fresh-from-the-pod variety, a gobsmacked, serendipitous discovery at my local supermarket, of all places. A big sack of pods, however, only yielded a cupful of beanie babies. I was forced to eat the lot of them out of one scoop of my curled fingers.

Fresh Green Chickpeas
Fresh chickpeas are irresistible when steamed for fifteen minutes,
then dusted with a ground spice of your choice and a pinch of salt.

Plan B fared far better, but the dried beans must have been as old as the Grand Canyon. They took three hours of simmering after an eight-hour soak to become tender. Though my patience paid off, I was rather perplexed that they'd turned from a jaunty verdant hue to one best described as maroon. The longer they cooked, the darker they became. But I am not complaining. It really doesn't matter what color they are. This dish is a knockout. It tastes like I struck gold.

Dried Green Chickpeas
Dried, this variety is much smaller than the more common
white chickpea, even after it is cooked.

Green Chickpeas with Spinach (Palak Hara Chana) from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer.

Given my changes to this recipe are quite insignificant (oil reduced to 1 tablespoon; water reduced to 1 1/2 cups; chickpeas cooked the day before), I will not venture an "adapted" rewrite. You can find the full recipe here, miraculously as it is presented in the actual cookbook, PDF'd by Google Preview.


This is my own contribution to MLLA 23, hosted here by me. Please stay tuned for the round-up, likely at end of the week, when I will announce the winners of May's two random drawings while I show off all your fabulous recipes. I've received at least another dozen just today. Please bear with me while I sort through them. I expect to visit and comment on each on Tuesday, June 1. Thanks so much for spoiling me with your participation! I hope you've all enjoyed your weekend!

Diana of A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa will be announcing MLLA 24 shortly. Please stop by to feed her with your legume posts during the month of June.

This recipe is also for Preeti of Write Food, inaugurating her Green Gourmet Event. You have until June 9 to send her your gorgeous and healthy green recipes.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Presto Pasta Nights # 164 - The Round-Up

Carb-uretors, that's what we are, these efficient biological machines that take in fuel to keep us running, keep us humming, really. Carbohydrates are the only food energy that feeds the brain to ensure our thoughts are clear, and tames that brain, too, to keep us calm and happy. And do you know what has also kept us running and humming every week, every Friday for the last, now 164, weeks? It's Presto Pasta Nights, created by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast. I know that I speak for all of us in thanking her for her genius of the obvious: we all love our carb fixes, and love her, too, for indulging us.

Here is but a twenty-four-recipe sampling of the gazillions of fabulous recipes that Presto Pasta Nights has brought to all our tables for over three years. My energy and time have been in particularly short supply lately. If I have erred or omitted anything or anyone, please let me know, and I will amend the post immediately.

Thanks so much for joining in. And thanks to Ruth for allowing me the fun privilege of hosting another round of PPN. If you are interested in guest hosting, give Ruth a shout. I'm sure she has a spot somewhere down the road that will be convenient to your schedule.


Out of the smallest kitchens can come the biggest meal
ideas. Let multiple mushrooms show you the way.

Spaghetti with Mushrooms
Su-Lin - Tamarind and Thyme


Emerging from the cocoon of a sick bed, a discerning palate
compensates for lost taste with a melt-all-over dairy dish.
Fabulous Baked Penne
Kait - Pots and Plots


A family-favorite recipe prepared with local seafood is as out of
this world as the price of Gulf shrimp will be in the near future.

Cosmic Shrimp Pasta
Rachel - The Crispy Cook


When life hands you leftovers, fling them in a fry pan
for a quick frittata that tastes like the first time around.

Pesto Pasta Frittata
Nupur - One Hot Stove


When lightly marinated and grilled, calamari keeps its
Italian roots for a fettuccine far from the Mediterranean Sea.

Chili Garlic Squid Fettuccine with Pinenuts
Daphne - More than Words


Curls of fusillini tossed with fresh vegetables make a
light and easy meal that's always good to go.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Nicola - Lemon and Cheese


A loving niece prepares a Mother's Day meal learned in
the kitchen of her equally loving second-mom of an aunt.

Sautéed Flat Noodles
Ela - Everything's Herbed


Ever-popular pesto is never the same old grind of green
when teamed with bracing herbs and briny feta.

Kevin - Closet Cooking


The cooling novel touch of mint freshens a bowl of
classic dumplings dished out with woodsy overtones.

Graziana - Erbe in Cucina


Blood-rich red sauce fixed from a forage in the fridge
is the ideal dinner for cooks on the quick.

Pasta Presto
Alex - Eating Adelaide


A neighbor's generously tendered produce enhances a
pan full of equally fresh ribbons of delicacy and taste.

Egg Noodles with Wild Leeks
Elizabeth - Blog from OUR Kitchen


Dreams of a journey to North Africa can sometimes begin in the
belly of a soup pot bursting with exotic spices and tiny pastas.

Moroccan-Inspired Vegetable Soup
Sarah - What Smells So Good?


Misquoting the Song of Solomon might be a pardonable offense
if one is being comforted with kugel instead of apples.

Sweet Kugel
Mary - Food Floozie


Rabbits do multiply, but a deep casserole of lasagna disappears
fast when studded with the first flush of spring vegetables.

Spring Vegetable Lasagna
Katie - Thyme for Cooking, the Blog


It starts with the simple boiling of water, but by the end of your
cooking, you will have multiple meals bound to make you smile.

Colorful Veggie and Legume Pasta
Sanyukta - Creative Sanyukta


Rotini will have you wrapped around its fingers when prepared
with a peppery sauce tempered with calming greens and dairy.

Springtime "Green" Pasta with Arugula Pesto Sauce
Bethany -


Your instincts would have you wolfing it down, but a bowl of
South-of-the-Border flavors deserves to be savored slowly.

Ben - What's Cooking?


Though lasagna is a classically layered recipe, what
really makes this rock is a clever bit of rolling.

Toni - New Veginnings


An Asian cook uses her noodle to marinate the main
ingredient for extra-special flavors and color.

Shacha Fried Bee Hoon
Ann - Pig Pig's Corner


Looking for new horizons while questing for that
perfect pesto? Your journey may well stop here.

Claudia - Honey from Rock


Don't let so many recipes, so little room keep you from
exploring new taste sensations at the touch of your keyboard.

Ruth - Once Upon a Feast


Don't drop your fork. You will want it for every last morsel
of this drop-dead lasagna, drenched in richness and light.

Lasagna alla Bolognese
Jean - Lemons and Anchovies


Eggs make it golden, but the Midas Touch of skilled hands
brings the sun directly to the table when preparing fresh pasta.

Cinzia - Cindystar


Though the seeds of a poppy won't get you high, you'll still get a
buzz on when they're scattered like buckshot on a bowl of noodles.

Mákos Tészta
Susan - The Well-Seasoned Cook


Next week, Rachel of The Crispy Cook hosts PPN #165. Starting now, you can send your recipe posts to Rachel at oldsaratogabooks AT gmail DOT com. Please see Ruth's guidelines here on how to participate.

Thanks again, everyone, for your wonderful recipes! Have a great weekend!

Hungry for Hungarian - Mákos Tészta (Sweet Poppy Seed Noodles)

Mákos Tészta

Nothing says comfort like buttered noodles. That this twisted and wide egg pasta is slightly sweet with the subtly aromatic, nutty crunch of poppy seeds makes it all the more delectable and satisfying. You may well have enjoyed a similar recipe of the savory sort. As much as poppy seeds are enjoyed in many world cuisines, I think of them as most epitomizing Eastern European cookery, the stick-to-your-ribs, hearty fare that helps denizens of cold weather weather the cold, and feel loved and coddled. And can't everyone do with a little love and coddling no matter what it's doing outside?
Mákos Tészta - Slightly adapted and modernized from a passed-down-through-the-generations recipes from many different European countries. One of the recipes can be found on

Serves 4 generously.


1 pound wide egg noodles
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark blue poppy seeds (most commonly ground into powder, but I have kept them whole; quite possibly they are available already ground, but I haven't looked for them yet.)


Boil noodles until tender according to package directions. In meantime, melt butter and powdered sugar together. (Usually, the sugar dusts the noodles along with the ground poppy seeds.) Pour into large bowl. Stir in vanilla extract. Drain noodles, then add to butter mixture. Toss to coat well. Divide into bowls. Sprinkle tops evenly with poppy seeds.
Mákos Tészta
This is my recipe for Presto Pasta Nights, the long-running and very popular Friday night event, created by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast. The round-up will be online presently, literally within minutes of this post. I have the honors of hosting this week.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pork-Free Pozole with Red Beans for No Croutons Required


Legend has it that back in the days of pre-Columbian Mexico, the meat bobbing in a broth of giant lime-slaked kernels of pozole (better known here as hominy) was of, let's just say, a rather intimately known species on the planet. I am neither an anthropologist nor archeologist, but after researching some pozole recipes, the general consensus is that this amazingly flavored soupy stew has more recently been traditionally prepared with pork. Well, a ham hock doesn't have any better appeal to me than leg of Uncle Waldo. In fact, the last time I prepared a pork meal was probably just about the time of the Spanish conquest of Mesoamerica. I did not, however, want to be cheated out of what all the raving pozole fuss was about that I'd been reading over the last few years.

I can now enthusiastically gush with the rest of you. This recipe is the very sloppy, gut-bursting result of too much tinkering over the past two days. A meat-free diet does not necessarily mean you won't have a big mess to clean up in the kitchen (I had so much vegetable debris that I could have sold it by the bale for compost), but it does mean that with some relatively easy engineering, you can eat well without missing out on good flavor and health. And I'm not pulling anyone's leg.

Tomatillos, the sour, pulpy fruit, generally essential to green-based pozole.

Pepitas (roasted, salted pumpkin seeds).

Small Red Beans
Small Red Beans, not to be confused with Asian azuki beans,
are commonly used in Latin and American recipes.

Pork-Free Pozole with Red Beans (My own vegetarian/vegan-convertible recipe adapted from elements among several dozens found online, such as Posole Verde, Pozole, and Authentic Mexican Pozole.)

Serves 4-6.


6 cups salted vegetable broth
1 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and stem cores nicked out with a sharp knife
1/2 cup roasted, salted pepitas, ground in a food processor to a fine meal
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup dark olive oil
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon dried epazote
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 2-inch green serrano chile peppers, stems removed, then sliced into coins with seeds intact
3 cups cooked beans (any variety), drained and rinsed of starch residue (I used small red Latin beans for color contrast.)
3 cups cooked pozole, drained (I used canned. Preparing dried pozole takes at least 6 hours to soak, and another 3 hours to cook.)

Garnishes (use any or all of them)

Leaves from 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups shredded cabbage or romaine lettuce
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
4 cups fried corn tortilla strips (method here) or broken tortilla chips
1/2 cup roasted, salted pepitas
1 small white onion, chopped
1 avocado, peeled and cubed right before serving
2 cups grated cheese, such as Queso Quesadilla, Asadero, Monterey Jack and/or Cheddar (omit if you are vegan)
1 large lime, cut into wedges


In a very large saucepan over medium-low heat, cook tomatillos in broth until they are soft (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before transferring to a blender container. Carefully secure cover to prevent spattering, and blend to liquefy tomatillos. Return contents to saucepan, then stir in ground pepitas. Reserve on back burner on the very lowest heat, just enough to keep it warm.

In a dry, medium skillet, toast ground cumin briefly on medium-low heat until fragrant (about 20 seconds). Pour in olive oil, then stir in Mexican oregano, epazote, onion, and garlic. Maintain heat, cooking vegetables until golden, translucent, and fragrant (about 12 minutes). Stir in serrano chile coins. Cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add vegetable mixture to tomatillo stock. Increase saucepan heat to medium-low and simmer stock for 15 minutes. Stir in beans and pozole. Heat through (about 5 minutes). Divide soup into 4-6 bowls (depending on size), then layer and pile garnishes over top of each. Serve immediately with lime wedges on the side.

This warm-as-sunshine recipe is going to lovely Lisa, hosting May's Mexican-inspired No Croutons Required, the popular and long-running vegetarian event co-founded by Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen and Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes, featuring salad and soups attuned to different monthly themes. Lisa will have the round-up online in a few days, including an opportunity to vote for your favorite recipe.

Been There, Done That ~
Cannellini Bean Chili
Salsa Verde
Black Bean, Tomatillo and Green Olive Salsa

Other People's Eats ~
Red Posole
Vegetarian Pozole
Squash Posole

(Final Note: Thanks to everyone for your well wishes as I recover from dental surgery. Please bear with me while I continue to juggle receipt and compilation of PPN recipes due tomorrow evening for round-up #164, in addition to welcoming your MLLA dishes. If I haven't yet visited your blogs to acknowledge and thank you for your contributions, please know that I'm just a day or two away from doing so. I must say that this month has been especially tormenting: all these gorgeous foods parading in front of my face, and I am relegated to pudding for the last week. You think you want to eat pudding all the time, until you have to. ; D)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Announcing - Presto Pasta Nights # 164 - Hosted Here This Week!

Man (or woman) may not live by bread alone, but we sure can get by very nicely when flour and water are mixed into a paste, then fashioned into hundreds of different shapes to incorporate into several thousand different recipes. For the moment, though, I'd like you to focus on just one recipe featuring any pasta, and send it my way for Presto Pasta Nights #164, hosted by me for Ruth of Once Upon a Feast. Many thanks to Ruth, the creator of this popular, long-running event, for allowing me the fun privilege of hosting again.

The guidelines are simple ~ please:

* Prepare a pasta recipe of any kind, representing any course or culture, and post it to your blog between now and Thursday, May 20*, linking to this announcement and Presto Pasta Nights.

* Use of logo is optional.

* Email (with PPN in the subject line) to thewellseasonedcook AT yahoo with a copy to ruth AT 4everykitchen DOT com:

- Your name
- Blog name
- Permalink with your recipe
- Photo of your recipe

I will post the round-up early evening NY time on Friday, May 21. * Latecomers are welcome as long as I receive your details before the round-up is online.

Thanks in advance for what I anticipate will be another lovely collection of recipes that I will be proud to present.

(Special Note: I will be out of commission until mid next week, recovering from dental surgery which was performed earlier today. Please know that I will acknowledge your submissions as quickly as possible, and that my PC has not misbehaved to your disadvantage. Indeed, my PC is in much better shape than I am at the moment. ; }) Until soon.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Announcing - My Legume Love Affair 23

It's been a while. A long while. I am very happy to report that the May edition of My Legume Love Affair is being hosted here by yours truly. This month is not only special because I'm running my own show for a change, but that I've scored for prizes, not one, but two copies** of Mallika Basu's newly published stylin' and sassy cookbook, Miss Masala - Real Indian Cooking for Busy Living. Many of you will already know Mallika from her popular food blog, Quick Indian Cooking. Since I've two copies to give away, I will be running two separate drawings: one for U.S. residents that also will include the monthly Hurst Bean prize, and one for international participants. Each book will be shipped directly from me at my expense.

The guidelines to join are the usual, but bear repeating. Please read through:

* Post a recipe featuring legumes between now and May 31, linking it to this announcement.

* Your choice of recipes is very broad. As much as legumes are most commonly known as fresh or dried beans, peas, lentils and pulses, they are also the sometimes edible pods that contain these seeds. Add to the list alfalfa, fenugreek, peanuts, carob, tamarind, and other members of the Fabaceae or Leguminosae family, as well as derivatives such the saifun mung bean noodles featured in the logo, and you'll have a hard time focusing on just one. All courses and cuisines (vegetarian/vegan/non-vegetarian) are welcome, as long as legumes are the dominant ingredient. (Please note: In France, vegetables of all sorts are known as légumes. They are not included in this event.)

* Multiple recipes are permitted (although only one submission will be counted towards the random drawings).

* Recipes submitted to other events are also permitted.

* Recipes from archives can be accepted ONLY if updated and reposted as current.

* Recipes from those who are not bloggers are welcome and make eligible the participants to win either prize. Please email me your name, location, recipe, and optional photo, and I will ensure you are included in the drawing and round-up.

* Location of each participant is necessary so that I will know who qualifies to win the supplemental Hurst Bean prize, shipped to U.S. residents only. If you don't want your location published in the round-up, please indicate this in your email so that I can maintain your privacy.

* Use of logo is optional.

* Photo is preferred, but not essential, with a width or length dimension of 400 pixels.

* I will post the round-up/winners' announcement during first week of June.

* My family and personal friends are not eligible to win any prize.

Your email to me (thewellseasonedcook AT yahoo DOT com) with MLLA 23 in the subject field must contain the following

* Name
* Blog Name
* Recipe Name and URL of Recipe Post
* Location

* Photo - optional


1) One copy of Mallika's new book, randomly drawn for a U.S. resident.

2) One copy of Mallika's new book, randomly drawn for an international resident.

3) Hurst Bean Prize - A six-pack assortment of the U.S. winner's choices shipping directly from the Hurst facility. This generous prize is provided by Hurst Bean and has been arranged through their initiative. I do not receive product nor financial compensation from Hurst Bean.

** The books which I am offering this month are complimentary copies sent to me by Harper Collins, the publisher. I have also been provided with a copy for my own personal enjoyment.

I am very much looking forward to being dead center in MLLA's activities this month, so hit me with your best recipes. I'll be ready for them! Thanks always for making every month special with your delicious dishes.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Talking Up Tofu - Vegan Dubu Kimchi - My Legume Love Affair 22

Dubu Kimchi

As I officially return from Easter break, which lingered unexpected and unofficially through most of April, I am getting back up to speed with a speedy recipe to restore some sensible eating after weeks-long, post-holiday gorging from pastel baskets brimming with animal-shaped sugars. Some might jeer that you can't get any more balanced than with the blandness of tofu. To those naysayers I would counter that while a block of tofu presented in its birthday suit is not the most inspiring of ingredients, it does have that unique chameleon quality that cheerfully embraces its far-more-flavorful neighbors in a recipe. You can't expect much from it if you pair it with a few steamed green beans, but it will glow in the dark of your belly if you light it on fire with the unrepentant spicy condiments common to the Korean cook. If you are hot for heat, and an advocate of Meatless Monday, then I have a dish for you.


Dubu Kimchi – Adapted for vegans and vegetarians from the out-of-print The Food of Korea – Authentic Recipes from the Land of the Morning Calm
Serves 2-3.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 10 ounces)
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 large clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 large dried, hot red chile pepper, chopped or crushed, seeds intact
2 green onions, cut into 1/3-inch diagonal lengths (white and green parts)
3 cups napa cabbage kimchi*, drained and coarsely chopped
1 pound block extra-firm tofu
¼ cup black sesame seeds, toasted briefly in a dry skillet


In a large, preferably non-stick skillet, warm vegetable oil briefly over low heat until it thins (less than 1 minute). Add mushrooms, stirring to coat with oil. Raise heat to medium-low. Cook mushrooms until nearly all water has been extracted and evaporated from them (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally to prevent browning. The mushrooms will be substantially shrunken, but tender and limp.

Stir in sesame oil, garlic, green onions, and chile pepper. Sauté briefly while occasionally stirring until garlic is golden (about 2 minutes). Stir in kimchi. Maintain temperature to heat through. Remove from heat, keeping warm by covering skillet.

Cut tofu into small cubes or rectangles. Arrange pieces in a single layer in a microwavable container filled with enough water to cover them (you might have to do this in batches). Microwave on high power until tofu is heated through (about 2 minutes). Carefully remove steaming container to a stable surface, then gently remove the delicate pieces of tofu by lifting underneath them with a fork, placing them to drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Press sesame seeds into tops of tofu. (Note: the black sesame color will bleed somewhat into the tofu; this is normal, especially if you are generous with the seeds.)

Fill the center of a large platter or serving bowl with mushroom-kimchi mixture. Again, carefully lift tofu pieces with a fork and arrange them around the vegetable mixture. Serve immediately while still warm with short-grained Asian sticky rice, such as what is used to make sushi. –

* Kimchi, a typically spicy, brine-fermented staple of the Korean diet can be made with nearly any vegetable. Napa cabbage is the most commonly used featured ingredient. N.B. - Most kimchi is prepared with anchovy or other fish sauces or pastes. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, look carefully at ingredient panels before selecting, or make it yourself at home to your own specifications.

This recipe is for Sowjanya of RuchikaCooks, closing out hosting of My Legume Love Affair 22. Sowjanya will be accepting late recipes until she posts her round-up end of this week. Please stop by her lovely blog to ooh, aah, and bookmark what will be the usual fine collection of delicious fare from around the world. I will be posting the announcement for MLLA 23 later tonight, which will be hosted right here by me at The Well-Seasoned Cook.