Sunday, July 31, 2011

Coconut Mung Bean Kaffir Lime Popsicles - A Guest Post by Xiaolu Hou of 6 Bittersweets

When I first connected with Xiaolu Hou of the extraordinarily sweet and charming 6 Bittersweets, it was through Flickr and our mutual love of food photography. When I saw how clever she was at capturing the cakes, cookies, and cupcakes dear to her heart (if not her ultimate career goal as nutritionist), I thought, "this girl's got something." And sure enough, a few months later, her burnished S'mores Cupcakes earned her the award of Overall Winner of the November 2010 edition of Does My Blog Look Good in This?

So, what has changed for Xiaolu since then? It's been more of the same, but bigger, brighter, and bolder with an exciting new venture into cupcake catering in the Washington, D.C. area, as well as hanging a sign out with Etsy to purvey her delightful little cake decorating touches, hand-crafted to give your desserts that bit of extra flair.

And what does the future hold for Xiaolu? It's wide open now, but I expect it, yet again, to be more of the same. The world's her oyster, but it'll be a piece of cake.

It gives me great pleasure to feature Xiaolu as she shares her tropically inspired mung bean popsicles as a guest poster in celebration of My Legume Love Affair - Kicking Off Year 4. Thanks, XL!

The following writing, recipe, and photography are owned by Xiaolu Hou and protected by copyright. All Rights Reserved. 2011. All materials appear here by permission and courtesy.



Long have I been a fan of Susan and her gorgeous blog -- for her innovative recipes, for her one-of-a-kind photography, and for its reflection of her sweet personality. For almost as long I've enjoyed and been inspired by her My Legume Love Affair blog event, so it was with joy that I accepted Susan's invitation to prepare a guest post to celebrate MLLA's 3rd anniversary! Especially as someone who's studying to be a dietitian, I'm whole-heartedly behind the cause of popularizing nutritious and delicious legumes! The mung beans I'm featuring today, for example, are low in fat, high in fiber, and packed with vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, folate, iron, potassium, and zinc. But of course we wouldn't want to eat them if they're not delicious. Well no problem on that front either. Mung beans are native to India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan but have since become popular throughout China, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia [Livestrong]. Part of their popularity probably has to do with their versatility. These legumes are equally at home boiled and added to savory dishes, ground into flour and transformed into crepes, featured in dessert soups, or frozen into refreshing popsicles.

Before we proceed any further, let me own up to the fact that sweet popsicles rich with coconut and sweetened condensed milk are probably not the best example of what a healthy addition legumes can be to your diet. The thing is, I'm trying to hook you in with this addictive treat and before you know it you'll be throwing mung beans in your sweet and savory dishes. Yea I'm sneaky like that =D... But unlike other recently trending desserts that try to put beans under the guise of common American treats, I took my cue from some Asian classics and put my mungs front and center. Luckily the flavor of mung beans is quite delicate compared to many other legumes. It strikes a lovely balance with the Thai-inspired coconut and kaffir lime flavors that accompany it, and I assure you that one taste will have you going back for more.

Thanks to Susan and all of you for having me here today. I hope you guys enjoy these popsicles as much as I enjoyed making them, and here's to the start of a spectacular 4th year of MLLA!

Coconut Mung Bean Kaffir Lime Popsicles [Printable Recipe]
Makes about 10 3-ounce popsicles

2 Tbsp rice flour, sifted
1 1/4 cups coconut milk, shaken well before opening
1 1/3 cups milk
1/2 cup dry mung beans, picked over and washed
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 2/3 cups water
1 kaffir lime leaf
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Whisk the rice flour with 3 tablespoons of coconut milk until smooth with no lumps, then gradually add the remaining coconut milk, milk, sweetened condensed milk, and water while stirring. Transfer to a 4-quart (or larger) saucepan, and bring the whole mixture to a boil over medium heat while stirring constantly (it should thicken slightly). Add the mung beans, then bring the mixture back to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and cook for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring often, until the beans are tender. About 30 minutes into cooking, add the kaffir lime leaf into the pot and stir well.

Remove from heat, fish out the kaffir lime leaf, then let the mixture cool completely. Then puree the mixture in the liquid in a traditional blender or using a handheld one. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Transfer the mixture to your popsicle molds. Insert sticks and freeze until solid - approximately 4 hours. To release the pops from the molds, run the molds briefly under warm water.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ottolenghi's Black Pepper Tofu - For Bookmarked Recipes and MLLA

Black Pepper Tofu

Since I am very short on time and energy this weekend, Jacqueline's Bookmarked Recipes event, created by Ruth of Ruth's Kitchen Experiments, was a godsend at the last minute. This Ottolenghi Black Pepper Tofu recipe, originally written for the Guardian and subsequently published in Plenty, is, quite frankly, the bomb.

I prepared it today to the letter of the recipe. (Per Rosa's comment, a bowl of rice on the side will cushion the heat for some folks.) It so happens that with tofu as its main ingredient, it also qualifies for my own event, My Legume Love Affair - Kicking Off Year 4. For someone like me who views spices as the holy grail of cooking, the copious black pepper, red chiles, and fresh ginger in this amazing dish wind down a frenzied July with a bang. There will, however, be one more very talented guest blogger featured tomorrow with a recipe that is guaranteed to beat any sort of heat.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Black and White Wednesday - Culinary Photography - Week #3

Thank you so much for sharing your incredible talents for Week #3. Here are the details for participation should you want to add your work in future weeks. I hope you enjoy a scroll down the gallery; I'm sure there is something to catch every eye. See you next week!

Sub Sandwich Delivery - Why, Thank You!
Mimi - All Things Mimi


Miniature Utensils
Rajani - My Kitchen Trials


White Eggs
Kankana - Sunshine & Smile


Stack of Noodles
Kankana - Sunshine & Smile


Celery Standing Tall
Kankana - Sunshine & Smile


Birthday Cake
Barbara - Winos and Foodies


Making Cheese
Simona - Briciole


Home-Grown Okra
Champa - Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen


Janet - A Cook at Heart


Chinese Food Stall - West Side Market - Cleveland, Ohio
Lynne - Cafe Lynnylu


Aqua Vitae
Rosa - Rosa's Yummy Yums


Idlis in the Making
Amruta - Delicious Vegetarian


Haalo - Cook Almost Anything at Least Once


Hong Kong Street Market
Susan - Eat Little, Eat Big


Indian Pears
Aparna - My Diverse Kitchen


Brown and White Rice
Nandita - Paaka-Shaale - My Virtual Kitchen


Who Moved My Cheese?
Rinku - Cooking in Westchester


briciole di schiacciatina su mac & iphone


Chocolate Bar
Susan - The Well-Seasoned Cook

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gluten-Free Gâteau Trois Frères (Three Brothers Cake) - A Guest Post for Soma of eCurry

Gâteau Trois Frères (Three Brothers Cake)

Having hit the ground running all this month with my own group of guest bloggers, it is only now that I can present a guest post of my own which was published on June 30 for Soma of eCurry. Soma had kindly asked if I would guest blog for her while she was spending a few summer months back home in India. I was thrilled and honored by the invitation, and vowed to create something special for the occasion.

And a Gâteau Trois Frères is very special, indeed. Its cheerful elegance belies an easy French sponge cake which is made entirely of rice flour by its original design, making it an excellent choice for gluten-free bakers. A jam glaze and bits of candied herb or fruit decoratively finish its curved and circular form. I call it sweets for the sweet.

Dear, talented Soma has returned to the States and is feeling a little homesick now for the old country. I'm sure she would love for you to stop by for some cake and tea.

Thank you, Soma, for the great pleasure of allowing me to bake for you.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Black Lentils from Enna with Tuna - A Guest Post by Simona Carini of Briciole

The first time I ever connected with Simona Carini and her golden, gloriously Italian-themed blog, briciole, was when I answered her sidebar invitation to pick her brain with questions about the origins of Italian words and expressions that might otherwise remain mystifying. This was back in 2007, when each of our blogs were young, and I was looking for a backbone of an online culinary community. I still remember our email exchanges and the exacting research which Simona conducted before writing a post which helped a great deal to clarify one of the dessert highlights of my childhood.

Four years later, I am still reading and enjoying briciole, but also with the clear distinction that briciole is the only blog which I also listen to. Yes, you heard that right. For in every post, Simona has embedded an audio file which releases her well-modulated and lyrical voice to share snippets of Italian words and phrases which are normally lost in the everyday conversations of a predominantly English-speaking country. Her little sound bytes complement the big, beautiful bites she elaborates on in each of her posts.

In addition to her linguistic accomplishments, Simona is a Daring Cook and Baker who has cultivated a talent for cheese making, and has bridged the worlds of words and food as co-creator of the long-running event, Novel Food.

Born in Italy, and now a resident of Northern California, Simona is also keenly interested in the pleasures of
travel, paper art and bookbinding. Back in her kitchen, though, while she contemplates her next recipe, there is always a part of her mind that is searching for something more. For Simona, there is always a word for it.

I am very happy to feature Simona and her uniquely Italian lentil recipe as she guest blogs to help celebrate My Legume Love Affair - Kicking Off Year 4. Thank you, Simona!

The following writing, recipe, and photography are owned by Simona Carini and protected by copyright. All Rights Reserved. 2011. All materials appear here by permission and courtesy.


black lentils from Enna with tombo

black lentils from Enna / lenticchie nere ennesi

When I am in Perugia, the Italian city where I was born, I always visit the store mentioned in this post to buy some of the traditional legumes of the region (like roveja, lenticchie di Castelluccio, fagiolina del Lago Trasimeno). The last time I was there, I noticed some beautiful black lentils. Their color caught my attention, because it reminded me of the lava fields I had seen on the Big Island of Hawaii some months before.

The story behind the lenticchie nere delle colline ennesi, black lentils from Enna hills (Enna is a city in the heart of Sicily), is unfortunately a familiar one: an old cultivar of high quality (resistant to drought and rich in proteins) that requires manual cultivation and that comes close to extinction under the pressure of mechanized agriculture. A small quantity of black lentils was saved and sown, and the precious black beauties can again be offered to a public eager to savor their intense flavor. I yielded to the temptation and got 250 g. The lenticchie nere I bought come from Leonforte (a town famous also for its typical fava larga, broad fava bean).

The owner of the store gave me two recipes, which can also be found online. Even if you don't know Italian, you can see that there are basically no quantities specified. I went to work with the material I had, choosing the ingredients of the first recipe and the fish of the second and using my inner compass to direct me when it came to establishing quantities. However, I could not use my precious stash of lentils to refine the recipe, so I bought some black beluga lentils for testing purposes. The choice was based on color, but also on my desire to try that type of lentils, which I had seen in a store in Oakland, but never tasted.

lenticchie nere ennesi and black beluga lentils
The photo above shows the two kinds of lentils: the black beluga lentils (left) are smaller than the lenticchie nere ennesi and cook in less time. The result of my rehearsals with black beluga lentils were satisfactory, so I decided to apply the recipe to the lenticchie nere ennesi. I will give you the recipe I followed for the lenticchie nere and then the adjustments for the black beluga lentils. As you can see from the photos, the cooked lentils are of a color called brunito in Italian (burnished). The flavor is exceptional. The Italian food and wine magazine Il Gambero Rosso describes it thus: "rich but refined and not overwhelming, of a rustic and earthy sweetness that is unique and distinct" [my translation].

black lentils from Enna / lenticchie nere ennesi Ingredients:

  • 2 oz onion (possibly fresh onion)

  • 3 oz carrot (scrubbed and skin scraped off with a blade)

  • 1.5 oz celery (one medium rib)

  • 4 oz organic tomato sauce (from an 8 oz. can) that has a minimum of added ingredients (alternatives: tomato purée or strained tomatoes)

  • 1 cup lenticchie nere ennesi

  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • olive oil of good quality

  • one or two slices of fresh tombo (albacore tuna)

Sort lentils to remove any small rocks and debris, then rinse under cold water and drain. Place lentils in a saucepan with 2 cups of cold water, cover, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to simmer. Cook gently for 15 minutes.

Mince onion, carrot and celery very finely, mix and measure half, about 2/3 cup (you can freeze the rest for future use). Add to the lentils together with the tomato, stir, cover and continue cooking gently until lentils are tender, about 40-45 minutes — 42 in my case: I tasted the lentils after 30 and then after 40 minutes to estimate the remaining cooking time. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Heat up a lightly oiled cast-iron skillet on the stovetop. Sprinkle a bit of sea salt and of pepper on the fish, then cut it into 1-inch pieces and place on the skillet. Sear to desired doneness and remove from skillet. The amount of fish depends on the number of people you want to serve. You can always cook extra and then use it in a salad with new potatoes (recipe upcoming on briciole).

Spoon some lenticchie nere on a plate, place 2 or 3 pieces of tombo on the lentils and drizzle some olive oil over them. Serve immediately.

If using black beluga lentils, add vegetable mix after 5 minutes of gentle cooking. Taste lentils 20 minutes after the addition of the vegetables to estimate the remaining cooking time.

If fish is not part of your diet, you can certainly enjoy this lentil dish without it, paired according to your taste.

I hope the cultivation of lenticchie nere not only continues on the Enna hills, but also expands so they become more widely available and appreciated. I am thankful to the people who made sure they did not disappear.

Year4LogoFinal300 This is Simona of briciole's guest post and submission for My Legume Love Affair 37 — Year 4, the current edition of the popular, legume-centered event created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook, and hosted this month by the creator herself.

I have special ties to the illustrious history of My Legume Love Affair: I participated in the first edition, which Susan thought would be a one-off event. I participated again in the Second Helping (which inaugurated the monthly appointments), and in 14 other editions after that, so this is my 17th contribution to MLLA. Finally, I have had the honor of hosting three editions (Fifth Helping, 26 and 31). Thank you, Susan!

Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post: lenticchie nere ennesi con tonno

or launch the lenticchie nere ennesi con tonno audio file [mp3].

[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application.]


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Blowing Hot and Cold - Green Chile Gazpacho Granita


Depending on your proclivities, this frozen soup will either slap you in the face with refreshment or slap you down with mouth burn after one spoonful. I find it true that spice heat has a cooling effect when the actual weather temperature around you has you melting into a puddle on the pavement.

This recipe is very easy, but for the best icy results, a juice extractor is required. You can also prepare this in a blender, adding a cup of ice cubes for a traditional gazpacho, but it is critical that the hot chile pepper/s you use are added last, slowly and separately. If you dare to live dangerously and toss them in together, membranes, seeds and all, don't say I didn't warn you. While it may be hot outside, there might still be hell to pay.

Green Chile Gazpacho Granita
- My own recipe


1-2 hot green or yellow chile peppers (serrano, Thai, jalapeño, or Hungarian)
2 large unwaxed cucumbers
6 medium tomatillos
1 large green bell pepper
1 large white or yellow onion
1 large clove garlic
2 generous handfuls Italian flat-leaf parsley with stems
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 1 large lime
1 tablespoon white or red cider vinegar
2-3 teaspoons salt, or more to taste


Prep for juice extractor:

Stem the chiles and halve them lengthwise, optionally removing inner membrane and seeds; most of the heat is held in the membrane and seeds. (Per Sra's suggestion in her comment, wearing gloves while handling the chiles will avoid unintended transfer of volatile oils to your eyes and other delicate parts if you are not careful to wash your hands after contact.) Top and tail cucumbers, then quarter them lengthwise. Husk and rinse tomatillos under cold water until they are free of their sticky residue; nick out the stems with point of knife, then cut them in half. Stem and quarter bell pepper, removing large membrane core with attached seeds. Peel and quarter onion. Peel garlic clove.

Extract juice from chiles, keeping face away from collection cup (the fumes can be powerful). Transfer chile juice to a separate cup; reserve. Extract juice from all other vegetable ingredients, pouring them into a large glass, plastic, or stainless steel bowl. Stir in olive oil, lime juice, and vinegar. Add reserved chile juice incrementally by the half-teaspoon, stirring well and tasting after each addition until you reach a heat intensity that is noticeable yet you can still discern the other ingredients. Discard any leftover chile juice. Add salt incrementally as well, tasting after each addition.

Cover bowl tightly and place in freezer. You can either freeze it solid, then let sit on the counter for about 15 minutes, before you start raking it with a metal fork into chunky crystals, or you can periodically visit your freezer at 45-minute intervals to rake and stir the crystals back into the mixture. Freezing time will depend on your freezer setting and the depth of the bowl. The juice will freeze more quickly if you transfer it to a shallow glass baking dish.

Scoop granita into bowls. Serve immediately to maintain its icy crunch or let it sit for a few minutes to become slushy. Slush, by the quirky nature of melting ice, is actually colder than hard ice.

This is my very late contribution to No Croutons Required, the monthly vegetarian soup and salad event, created by Lisa of Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen and Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes. Lisa, host for this month, selected the theme of hot chile peppers. I thank dear Lisa for waiting on me. She will be publishing the round-up today. Do stop by to check out all the sizzling recipes. I have heard it on high authority that there is a very nice selection for all of us heat freaks out there. ; )

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Black and White Wednesday - Culinary Photography - Week #2

It's just after 11:00 p.m., and I'm calling it a night. I am thrilled to present the final gallery for today's ongoing event. Please feast your eyes on these lovely images. Thanks so much for making Black and White Wednesday a hit so quickly! See you next week and keep on clicking!

Salted Fish
Ribbon Clown - Ribbon and Circus


Janet -A Cook at Heart




Old-Time Kitchen
Rajani - My Kitchen Trials


Josie - Daydreamer Desserts


The Very Last Drop
Aqua - Served with Love





Black and White Rainbow Carrots
Simona - Briciole


Madeleine Molds
Susan - The Well-Seasoned Cook

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bean-Based, Grain-Free Pizza Crust - A Guest Post by Ricki Heller of Diet, Desserts and Dogs

When I think of Ricki Heller, the Canadian creative force behind her terrifically inspirational and informative blog, Diet, Desserts and Dogs, I am immediately struck by the letter "V." Ricki's vegan commitment to optimal health for her wide readership and herself is infused with a distinctive vigor to impart her comprehensive nutritional knowledge; a veracity to explore new developments in her field; and an endless variety of dazzling and innovative recipes which reflect the unique challenges of cooks and bakers whose diets are tailored to exclude animal products, refined sweeteners, and gluten.

With a doctorate in Modern American Literature, which led to an early career teaching English, and certification as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who currently conducts classes for a wide range of alternative-health organizations, Ricki is a natural educator and motivational speaker, sharing the same enthusiastic and entertaining style that has enhanced her strong blog following.

In addition to several appearances in the media (such as Canada AM and Citytv's Breakfast Television) Ricki has written for several publications, as well as authored three e-cookbooks designed for the anti-candida diet, with the added distinction of being featured as one of three food authors recommended by Ellen DeGeneres on the celebrity's website.

Practicing what she preaches, Ricki has documented the evolution of her dietary journey with a dramatic and well-maintained weight loss, proof positive that Ms. Heller is one helluva health advocate.

I am very happy to feature Ricki Heller's fabulous bean-based pizza crust recipe as she guest blogs in celebration of My Legume Love Affair - Kicking Off Year 4.

The following writing, recipe, and photography are owned by Ricki Heller and protected by copyright. All Rights Reserved. 2011. All materials appear here by permission and courtesy.



On a scale of one to ten, people’s views about pizza can vary just as wildly as their views about who should run the country, whether we should introduce socialized health care, or if we should legalize gay marriage. For instance, should the crust be thin and crispy, or deep dish, bread-like? Should it arrive piping hot, delivered to your door in the arms of a breathless delivery person (30 minutes or free), or should it be heated slowly, lovingly in your own oven and brought to your table straight from the pizza stone? (Okay, maybe pizza is just a tad less important in the grand scheme of things; Leader of the Free World:10. Pizza: 9.5.).

Then there’s the question of toppings. Do we go for the classic, tomato-cheese-pepperoni? Or perhaps a nouveau pesto, artichoke, sundried tomato ensemble?

For years, my notion of pizza was embodied by what we referred to as “all dressed” in the city where I grew up ( Montreal ). An all-dressed pizza bore the usual tomato sauce topped with cheese and pepperoni, a smattering of green pepper and mushrooms added over top. In fact, when you ordered from a pizzeria, there were exactly three choices: all dressed, pepperoni, or plain cheese; that was it. It wasn’t until I moved to Toronto that I encountered the “add toppings as you wish” concept. Immediately, I knew I’d love my pizza topped with red onion, black olives or roasted garlic; I opted to try the pineapple once—just once—to see what it was like (let’s just say I was not a fan).

Throughout it all, however, it always seemed to me that the crust, more than the rest, was usually fairly nondescript. I mean, how many of us even notice the subtle wheat flavor of the crust as we focus on the infinite—and infinitely more interesting--toppings?

Once I altered my diet and switched to a gluten free, sugar free eating plan, I started to play with various pizza crust recipes. In general, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. My first attempt to revamp my favorite spelt crust was a dismal failure—crumbly, doughy, wet in the middle even after excessive baking. The next try was better but still crumbled apart at the touch, like an ancient rose petal discovered in the pages of an antique book. Eventually, I hit upon a recipe that worked. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good: sturdy, tasty, a solid platform on which the real star of the show—the toppings—could make an appearance.

When I recently decided to create a grain-free version (in order to keep the glycemic index, or GI, as low as possible and simultaneously amp up the protein content), I wasn’t sure it could be done. Was it possible to create a bean-based crust that served as a foil to the toppings, unobtrusively in the background like Paul Schaffer with David Letterman, or Tony Okungbowa with Ellen DeGeneres, or Gayle with Oprah?

The answer, as it turns out, was “yes.” My first few (okay, dozen) bean-based crusts tasted great, but they simply wouldn’t hold together (or, as my engineer hubby might say, they lacked structural integrity). Eventually, I hit on the formula that would bake up like a "real" pizza, even allowing me to eat a slice out of hand—no utensils required!—which is what I consider the true characteristic of a successful crust.

Then again, on a scale of one to ten, people seem to have their own opinions on the best way to eat pizza, too.


Bean-Based, Grain Free Pizza Crust (Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Anti-Candida Friendly)

1 can (19 oz or 540 ml) white kidney or navy beans, rinsed well and drained (about 2 cups/480 ml)
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic, plus about 1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra
1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened plain soymilk or almond milk
5 drops plain stevia liquid
4 tsp (1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp or 20 ml) apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp (45 g or 1.6 oz) coconut flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) whole chia seeds, ground to a meal in a coffee grinder (about 1/4 cup or 60 ml of the meal)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) potato starch
1/4 cup (60 ml) buckwheat flour
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking soda
3/4 tsp (7.5 ml) baking powder
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
1 tsp (5 ml) dried basil

Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line a large pizza pan with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.

In the bowl of a food processor, process the beans until you have a chunky paste. Add the remaining ingredients (except for 1 Tbsp o1/4 cup (60 ml) oil, soymilk, stevia, vinegar, coconut flour, chia meal, potato starch, buckwheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and basil and process again until the mixture comes together in a ball. Do not overprocess!

Take the ball of dough and, using your hands, pull of chunks the size of baseballs and distribute them evenly over the pizza pan. Use the final 1 Tbsp (15 ml) of oil to grease your palms and fingertips; then press the dough evenly in the pan until all the chunks come together in a single crust. Keep greasing your hands as necessary to avoid sticking. If desired, make a slight rim all around the edge of the dough.

Bake in preheated oven 30-35 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned on the edges and bottom. Top with desired toppings, then return to the oven for another 30-35 minutes, until heated throughout and toppings are cooked. Slice and serve. Makes 4-6 servings. May be frozen; wrap slices individually in plastic and freeze until solid, then store in a Ziploc bag.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fresh Black-Eye Peas & Haitian Accras - A Guest Post by Cynthia Nelson of Tastes Like Home

The Scotch Bonnet is the chile pepper of choice for much of the Caribbean's multiculturally influenced cuisine. And while its name implies a jaunty little red cap which you could sylishly wear when you want to look cool, its heat will, in fact, blow the top of your head off. Just ask Cynthia Nelson; she ought to know. As cook, writer, stylist, and photographer of her very popular blog, Tastes Like Home, Cynthia has the kind of multiple talents that are as hot as that Scotch Bonnet she knows so well.

A native of Guyana who now resides in Barbados, Cynthia specializes in the diversely delicious food of the Caribbean islands and north-most continental coastal countries of South America, punctuated by a distinctive nostalgia for the cooking of her early years.

With an extensive history in broadcasting (as a radio personality, anchorwoman, and producer) Cynthia currently teaches this media, while continuing to be the voice of several advertising campaigns.

Her love of communications and passion for food have evolved into several impressive writing positions in addition to her fine work on Tastes Like Home. Cynthia is featured every Saturday in the Stabroek News, as well as a contributing writer for The Christian Science Monitor, and a contributing writer for the
Latin Caribbean Food section of, where she specializes in West Indian foods. She also writes for Caribbean Belle; Canada's City - Style and Living Magazine; and "U Magazine" in Trinidad and Tobago. Awarded the Bronze Medal for her photography by Barbados' National International Festival of Creative Arts, Cynthia has also recently published her Tastes Like Home: My Caribbean Cookbook, a glorious tribute to the flavors of the regions she knows so well. They're all just more feathers in Cynthia's bonnet.

I am most delighted to feature Cynthia Nelson who shares her love of fresh black-eyed pea fritters as a guest blogger for My Legume Love Affair - Kicking Off Year 4.

The following writing, recipe, and photography are owned by Cynthia Nelson and protected by copyright. 2011. All Rights Reserved. All materials are presented here by permission and courtesy.



There are multiple parts of the Caribbean. There is the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, the Dutch-speaking Caribbean, the English-speaking Caribbean and the French-speaking Caribbean. The cuisine of the region is vast and diverse and the food is heavily influenced by the happenings of the colonial era. Too often when people (Caribbean people included) talk or refer to the Caribbean, we tend to speak exclusively of one part of the Caribbean, that is, the section to which we belong.

I am from the English-speaking Caribbean but as someone interested in the food culture and heritage of the region, my taste for Caribbean food extends beyond the borders of the English-speaking nations of the Caribbean. For this 37th helping of MLLA, I bring to you Accras from Haiti (French-speaking Caribbean).

Accras are fritters made of black-eyes peas and tannia, also known as malanga. Accras are very popular in Haiti and has its influence from West Africa.


Fresh Black-Eye Peas

One of the things I am fortunate to be able to get here, at the farmers market in Barbados, is fresh black-eye peas. Green, plump and begging to be cooked, I usually grab about 2 bags of these peas whenever they are available. Accras are traditionally made with rehydrated black eye peas or canned black-eye peas, so please do not feel that you cannot make this recipe if you cannot find fresh black-eye peas. Also, feel free to substitute the tannia/malanga with taro/eddo.

It is important to label these accras as Haitian accras because in other Caribbean countries like Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, there are also accras. While those accras are fritters too, they are made with a seasoned batter that contains salted codfish.

Haitian Accras

Yield: 24


2 cups fresh black-eyed peas

½ cup water

1 ½ teaspoons salt

2 green onions chopped, white and green parts

1/3 cup diced onions

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Minced hot pepper to taste

2 cups grated tannia/malanga or taro (1 ¼ lbs)

1 egg at room temperature, beaten

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

Oil for shallow frying


Add the following ingredients to a food processor and puree: black-eye peas, water, salt, green onions, onions, garlic, black pepper and hot pepper. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add tannia to pea-seasonings mixture. Mix in beaten egg.

Mix flour and baking powder together. Add to tannia-pea mixture and incorporate fully.

Heat oil in pan until very hot but not smoking.

Using a tablespoon, dip batter and add to pan. Do not over crowd. Fry until nicely browned and crisp. Be sure that one side is browned before turning over.

Drain on paper towels.

Serve with meal as a side dish or as a snack or appetizer.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Turkish-Inspired Borlotti Bean and Lamb Stew with Cheesy Eggplant Purée - A Guest Post by Rosa Mayland of Rosa's Yummy Yums

With wildly eclectic interests that range from heavy-metal music to homey domesticity, Rosa Mayland has a personal style of natural magnetism. It is no wonder that her blog, Rosa's Yummy Yums, approaching its sixth year, should have such a wide and devoted following. Her Blogger profile alone boasts over 66,000 views. This is a girl who clearly gets around all parts of the world through her kitchen. And when she is not innovating special recipes to cook, bake, and photograph, Rosa takes her talents to the road where her camera revels in the Swiss countryside around Geneva, where she makes her home. We are routinely treated to the visual splendors of weekend getaways with their dazzling natural beauty, often in pictorial essays, but sometimes tucked into her writings on all things sweet and savory, mixed with her very wise, soulful, or entertaining observations of the world at large.

Back in her kitchen, Rosa, of English and French-Swiss extraction, broadens our horizons farther as she carries us along with recipes which emphasize sound nutrition, natural ingredients, and economy of table, without sacrificing flavor, hedonism, and originality. A strong advocate of home cooking, Rosa never fails to serve her large readership generous portions of all the pleasures created as mistress over her own pots and pans. Despite her prodigious kitchen and blogging output (with over 1,000 posts), she is always the very first friendly face to comment on your own latest culinary creation. I'm not quite sure if there is anyone out there who doesn't know who Rosa Mayland is, but to those scant few, let hers be the first friendly blog you comment on to start your day.

I am very happy to present Rosa and her outrageously inventive and flavorful stew which she has created as a guest blogger in celebration of My Legume Love Affair - Kicking Off Year 4.

The following writing, recipes, and photography are owned by Rosa Mayland and protected by copyright. All Rights Reserved. 2011. All materials appear here by permission and courtesy.



In August my blog will celebrate its 6th year of existence and while it might not be the oldest or the most fashionable or famous site on the internet, I am nonetheless very proud to have been able to go the distance and I feel so blessed to have brought it to a certain level of “popularity.” Thanks to “Rosa’s Yummy Yums," I have had the opportunity to discover numerous inspirational blogs and come across many brilliant, moving and like-minded foodies hailing from all corners of the planet and whom I have befriended and even met.

As corny as it might sound, I have to say that the blogging world is a vast and exciting place to be. Not one day passes without me discovering new as well as fascinating sites or thinking to myself that I am so happy to be part of such a remarkable community of people who share the same passion, enthusiasm and respect for food as me.

So when Susan proposed me to write a guest post for “My Legume Love Affair N°37” I was honored and thrilled to have been chosen by her. There was no way I was going to turn down her offer as I have much respect for this lovely lady whose blog I have been visiting and enjoying since 2007…

Thank you so much, dear!


Being someone for whom it is a must to feed in a healthy and budget-friendly manner, it is natural that leguminous vegetables are an important part of my nutrition. I very much appreciate meat, but I firmly believe that we should not overdose on it as it is not an everyday necessity (not ecologic or particularly beneficial for one’s well-being when it consumed on a daily basis), so it is for that reason that I am a part-time vegetarian.

Another ground for not being a big carnivore is my limited financial situation. I cannot afford to spend a fortune on grub and unfortunately, meat is not cheap here in Switzerland. Yet, despite my limitations, I am determined to cook mouthwatering repasts while controlling my expenses, so those little babies come in handy as they are inexpensive/economical, versatile, nourishing, lipsmackingly scrummy and packed with nutritional benefits (protein, minerals, oils, calcium and vitamins) as well as energy. Did you know that when pulses are combined with dairy products, eggs, veggies, reasonable quantities of nuts/seeds and oil, you are assured to get all that your body needs and your diet can be labeled as well-balanced?

Regretfully, no matter if those precious gems are considered to be good for one’s wellness and bank account, too many people still have preconceived visions about them and categorically dislike them. So sad as it is a wonderful ingredient that has a lot of potential and which is used in many different cuisines around the world. So, if you adore the culinary traditions of India, the Middle East, Africa or the Mediterranean, you’d better get acquainted with this minuscule wonder of nature!

My appreciation of legumes is not recent. As far as I can remember, I have always carried those dry fruits in my heart and savored them with much pleasure. It is impossible for me to get bored of concocting succulent menus with them.

Maybe, it has to do with the fact that I was raised on legumes and have been eating them all my life. At home, my very health-conscious mother kept several bags of beans on stock and made sure that there was an abundance of choice. Considering that 50% of our meals were vegetarian, not one week passed without us being served a legume-based dish for lunch or dinner.

Generally, legumes were employed to create salads, patties, soups or stews. My mom prepared a wide assortment of tasty dishes with them, but she didn’t experiment that much with pulses and made only very few traditional English or Swiss specialities with that ingredient. The same can be said about both my grandmothers who also cooked their legumes in a very basic fashion.


My English granny who lived in Derbyshire usually whipped up some devilishly tasty mushy peas to accompany the fish & chips that we fetched from one of the best chippies in England/town, hastily brought back home and savored in the garden. One of her speciality was also fresh homegrown broad beans which were boiled, flavored with mint and served with butter. When it comes to my Swiss grandmother, she principally cooked with lentils and prepared dishes that were very French-like. I cannot recall her offering us another variety of legumes, but I will never forget her extraordinarily comforting, incredibly palatable, bay leaf-infused and wintry green lentil stew that she accompanied with Saucisson Vaudois (a large type of smoked sausage that is poached or sometimes baked in brioche bread) and boiled potatoes.

Although my family’s legume dishes were absolutely delectable, they are either not really worthy of blogging about as they are too simple or they are just too calorific, hence not being suited for the summery season. This is why I decided to come up with an original recipe that I would invent specially for this event and which would reflect my personality.

Having a buoyant imagination and being a food obsessed maniac who is totally addicted to Far Eastern specialities, I had no problem coming up with a glorious idea while rummaging through my cookbooks, in search for inspiration. For this very occasion, I was going to cook a highly-seasoned “Turkish-Inspired Bean & Lamb Stew” which would be served on a lusciously velvety bed of “Cheesy Eggplant Purée”. That sounded pretty awesome and promising. The sheer thought of all those fantastic flavors mingling in my mouth sent shivers down my spine. I could not wait to get in the kitchen and play!

Just like a witch making her secret potion, I stood above my pans and artfully added the ingredients one after the other while malicefully grinning with excitement and devilish anticipation. As it is my habit, I improvised greatly. I did put my observations as well as the basic guidelines down on paper and write a list of ingredients with approximative amounts, but it was all very vague. It is only once I had my knife and spatula in my hands that my final recipe started to take shape.

A lot of cupboard opening, mad chopping, spice sprinkling, enthusiastic stirring, loving simmering, deep thinking and concentrated tasting took place. One and a half hour later, the ragout and cream were ready, and the apartment was filled with the most exhilarating of smells. I was knackered. I felt exhausted, as if I had worked hard at the gym. However, I was overjoyed by the gorgeous and succulent meal that graced my table. Just amazing!

The purée was beautifully creamy, soul-upliftingly hearty, magnificently smooth and groovily cheesy. The stew was exquisitely aromatic, remarkably flavorful, pleasantly beany, lightly lamby and deliciously tomatoey. Both complemented one another perfectly and even my boyfriend who is not the immense fan of beans - on account of their floury texture (unless they are served in the form of hummus) - had second servings and did not complain.

I hope my dish will spark your interest and give you as much pleasure as it did to us!


~ Turkish-Inspired Borlotti Bean & Lamb Stew With Cheesy Eggplant Purée ~
Recipe by Rosa Mayland, June 2011.

Serves 4.

Ingredients for the "Borlotti Bean Stew":

4 Tbs Olive oil
2 Red onions, chopped
6 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
230g Ground lamb
1 Carrot (big), diced
2 Tsp Paprika
2 Tsp Ground cumin
2 Tsp Ground coriander
1/2 Tsp Ground cinnamon
1/2 Ground allspice
1/2 Tsp Fennel seeds
4-5 Sprigs thyme
570g (4 medium) Tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbs Tomato paste
2 Tsps Turkish chilli paste
450ml Chicken stock
2 Tbs Pomegranate molasses
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
400g Cooked borlotti beans
Fresh coriander or flat parsley, chopped (for decorating)

Ingredients for the “Eggplant Purée”:

4 Italian eggplants
6 Tbs (90g) Unsalted butter
4 1/2 Tbs Flour
480-500ml Light cream (25% fat)
200g Gruyère cheese, grated
1 Pinch nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fine sea salt, to taste

Method for the "Borlotti Bean Stew":

1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, until hot.
2. Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes, until translucent and golden.
3. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute.
4. Add the ground lamb and stir-fry for another 5 minutes.
5. Add the carrot and cook for about 3 more minutes, then add the paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, fennel seeds and thyme. Stir quickly.
6. Then add the tomatoes, tomato paste and chilli paste. Stir well and cook for 3 more minutes before you add the stock, molasses, salt and pepper to taste.
7. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and let simmer with the lid off for about 1 hour, or until the stew is thick, most of the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes have “melted” (it should have the consistency of a chilli).
8. Add the cooked beans and cook for an additional 20-30 minutes.


Method for Ingredients for the “Eggplant Purée”:

1. While the stew is simmering, stab the eggplants several times with the knife or a fork and bake them whole at 250° C (480° F), on a baking tray lined with baking paper for about 35 minutes, or until the eggplants look slightly charred and are soft.
2. Remove them from the oven and let it cool.
3. When they are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and scrape away any of the eggplant flesh that remains on the skin. Discard the skin.
4. Drain the eggplants in a colander while you make the béchamel.
5. In a saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Cook this mixture for few minutes, until lightly golden in color, then gradually add the cream, stirring constantly with a whisk to keep it from lumping.
6. Cook the béchamel for a 1-2 minutes to thicken.
7. Meanwhile, purée the eggplants in a blender until you obtain a homogenous and fine mixture.
8. Incorporate this purée to the béchamel and mix. Cook for another 5 minutes, then add the grated cheese and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
9. Stir well to avoid the cheese from lumping.
9. Serve together with the stew and sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander.


You can replace the fresh tomatoes by the same quantity canned Italian tomatoes.
If you don't have any Turkish chilli paste, then you can also use the same quantity of red Tabasco or harissa.
Both the eggplant purée and the stew can be made in advance and reheated when desired.

Serving suggestions:
Serve with pita-like flatbreads.