Monthly Archives: January 2010

Nigella Lawson’s Zucchini and Chickpea Filo Pie my oh my!

I picked up How to be a Domestic Goddess from the library on a friend’s suggestion. I knew that it would be chock full of delicious and decadent desserts, so I was surprised to find some recipes for savory pies.  This one immediately caught my eye.  A different sort of recipe with EPC’s two favorite foods, chickpeas and zucchini, and our favorite blend of spices.  I had taken a look at the recipe before Christmas and then forgotten about it, remembering it this morning as I puzzled over what to make for dinner tonight.

This recipe needs an 8 inch springform pan, which I received as a thank-you gift this past fall. So, thank you both back, as I am now equiped to make this delightful recipe.

I encountered one minor hurdle putting this exquisite pie together: we only had brown basmati rice.  I was sure we had a small amount of white lying around – certainly enough for 1/2 cup, but I was wrong.  Since brown rice takes almost twice as long as white, the recipe took considerably longer than expected.  Although an advocate of whole grains, I think in this case white rice is the way to go.

Hurdle overcome, it was out of the oven in time for EPC to scarf down a slice before heading off to his yoga class, but not in enough time for him to digest said piece before his class begins.  He just headed out the door and  I hope he does not get any unpleasant cramps during warrior pose or come home moaning of a stomach ache.

C’est la vie.


EPC came home that night without experiencing a stomach ache or cramps during yoga.  As soon as he got in the door he requested another piece of filo pie and proclaimed, “This is the best thing you have ever made.  You can make it again whenever you want and pie or no pie, I would eat the filling on its own!”

There you have it.  Nigella Lawson’s Zucchini and Chickpea Filo Pie is a winner!

Zucchini and Chickpea Filo Pie

1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 small onion or 1/2 a large onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoons of tumeric
1 teaspoon of ground corriander
3 zucchini, diced with the peel
generous 1/2 cup of basmati rice
2 1/4 cups of vegetable stock
2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
scant 1/2 cup of melted butter
7 ounces of filo dough (I am not sure how much 7 ounces is, but I layered 8 sheets for the bottom of the pie and scrunched up two, but you could easily up that number to 12 or so, for a thicker crust.)

  • Preheat the oven to 400C
  • Fry cumin seeds and onions on medium low heat until the onion is soft. Add the corriander and tumeric
  • Add the diced zucchini and increase the heat, so the zucchini cooks without becoming watery. Cook until they are tender, but not too soft.
  • Add the rice and stir well to coat with oil. Add the stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring while you do. When all the liquid is absorbed the rice should be cooked.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the chickpeas and check the seasonings
  • Brush the springform pan with the melted butter.
  • Line the bottom of the pan with 3/4 of the filo dough. Buttering each piece as you layer. Let the sheets hang over the sides of the pan.
  • Spoon in the slightly cooled filling, fold in the overlapping edges, butter and scrunch up the remaining sheets and place on the top of the pie.
  • Brush with a final coat of butter
  • Cook for 20 minutes until the pastry is brown.

Let sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting.


Tres Leches Cake with Grand Marnier

Yesterday morning we were up early and out cross-country skiing. It was a warm winter’s day, so we wanted to take advantage of the balmy weather and get some sunshine and fresh air. Although it is tough to drag yourself out of the house on a dark winter’s morning, the boost to your energy level makes it all worth it. I also attended the symphony with friends that evening.  I figured there would be just enough time between skiing and the performance to bake a cake, so I invited them all over afterwards for some post-symphony cake and coffee.

While in Mexico last month, I did not indulge in any of the traditional deserts, so I thought why not make a Mexican desert now that I am back home. Tres Leches Cake appeared on more than one menu and after reading the recipe I wish I had indulged. As a result, I cannot make a comparison or deem whether this recipe is similar to what I would have tasted in Mexico, but it is delicious.

I made a few changes to the recipe. I substituted the same amount of whole wheat flour for white flour. With all the soaking that the cake would experience after baking I figured there would be no need worry about the cake being dry, so I added a straight 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour. I also checked some recipes for Tres Leches Cake on the internet. They all include recipes for icing or other sweet topping.  For example, the recipe that I used from Fresh Mexico by Marcela Valladolid recommended  Italian meringue.  I decided the cake would be insanely rich after soaking up the “tres leches marinade”, so I topped it with fruit before serving (I had some blueberries and mango slices in the freezer).  After my first bite of cake I realized that I had made the right choice.  In fact, I think the cake would have been unbearably sweet and paralyzingly rich with an added topping.

This cake could easily entice the breaking of New Year’s resolutions. I mean really, it is quite tough to go from loads of desserts and sweet treats during the Christmas break to none at all just because it is a new year. In appearance it is quite unassuming. I guess you could call it sneakily decadent!

Tres Leches Cake

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup skim milk

1 300 ml can condensed milk
1 170 ml can of thick cream
320 ml of low-fat evaporated milk
2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier

  • Preheat over to 350°C
  • Butter and flour a 10 inch cake pan. Cut out a disk of parchment paper the same size as the pan.  Place in the bottom of the pan and butter it.
  • Mix the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon
  • Add the egg whites to a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until frothy. While beating, slowly add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form
  • Beat in the egg yolks one at time
  • Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix. Add 1/2 of the skim milk and mix. Repeat until flour and milk are all added.
  • Pour the batter into your pan and bake for 35-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool slightly and then invert on a plate with  2 cm high sides
  • Poke holes throughout the top of the cake using a skewer or fork.
  • Mix the condensed milk, evaporated milk, thick cream, and Grand Marnier and slowly pour over the cake
  • Cover and refrigerate until cold. At least 3 hours or overnight.

Buttermilk Herb Quick Bread

Although this bread is a quick bread, it still takes about 35-45 minutes to bake. If I am making it on a weekday I whip it together and pop it in the oven as soon as I get in the door. That way it will have a chance to bake and cool while I get the rest of the meal together.

I have made this bread for years and I always serve it with chili. If you do try it, it is not recognizable as your classic cornbread, although it does get called that in our house. I find it keeps better than most cornbread and does not get dried out and crumbly the second day (if it lasts that long!)

Regrettably I cannot say for sure where I got this recipe. If memory serves me correctly I think it came from one of Anne Lindsay’s Heart Smart Cookbooks.

Buttermilk Herb Quick Bread

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (I use whatever milk we have and a generous tablespoon of white vinegar)
1 egg beaten
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Top with 1 tablespoon sesame seed

  • In a large mixing bowl combine flour, cornmeal, herbs, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  • In a small mixing bowl beat one egg and then add buttermilk, oil, honey.
  • Mix the liquid ingredients well and then add to the dry ingredients.
  • Spoon into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper (alternatively you could grease and flour the pan)
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds
  • Bake at 350°C for 35-45 minutes depending on the size of your loaf pan.

Tex-Mex Vegetarian Chili

After holidays, it is nice to ease back into cooking with satisfying favorites like Madhur Jaffrey’s Tex-Mex Vegetarian Chili from her wonderful cookbook World Vegetarian. This is one cookbook that I refer to quite often. My best friend introduced me to one of her East Indian cookbooks about 8 years ago and no word of a lie her recipes are fantastic. Having never been to India, I can only say that her recipes create a meal that tastes like food you would eat at a well-respected East Indian restaurant. One word, delicious.

Back to the meal at hand.

I modified Tex-Mex Vegetarian Chili from the original to speed up the preparation time. Even though I love cooking, I certainly do not want to stand in the kitchen all evening after a long day at work. Sadly, I checked our Ikea receipts and noticed that today is the last day we can return some unneeded items. That means a 25 minute drive each way after dinner tonight.


So, on a weeknight, whether you have exciting plans like I do, speed is essential. We all want to get home, get eating, get cleaned up, and get doing what we want (or what we have to do) for the rest of the evening.

This the perfect meal for that.

With some cornbread on the side, or a couple of cheese quesadillas (use corn tortillas for a gluten-free meal), you will certainly have enough for 2 to take leftovers in their lunch. For me, leftovers for lunch is an important weeknight meal consideration. I would rather something warm, than unpacking a sandwich at noon.

The sage and thyme do give this chili a bit of a different flavour compared to other chilies that I have made. I really like the mix of spices and the addition of a jalapeño, rather than relying on commercially prepared chili powder for heat and flavour (which in some cases gives you no heat at all and a lot of extra sodium). Even with adding a small can of low sodium V8 juice this chili is more chunky than saucy and balances quite nicely on slice of cornbread.

Tex-Mex Vegetarian Chili

3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion finely chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
1 large green pepper finely chopped
1 jalapeño chili finely chopped (Rather than adding all the seeds, I usually slice the chili in half and discard half the seeds to cut down on the heat)
1 1/2 teaspoons of cumin powder
2 teaspoons of paprika
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne (optional)
1 can of brown lentils, rinsed
1 can of kidney beans, rinsed
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (156 ml) can of low sodium V8 juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I add about 1/2 to 3/4 of a teaspoon)

  • Heat oil in a medium size saucepan. Add onions, garlic, green pepper, and jalapeno and sauté at medium high heat until garlic starts to brown.
  • Turn heat down to medium-low and sauté until the onions are translucent.
  • Add cumin, paprika, thyme, sage, oregano, and cayenne. Stir until mixed and add lentils, kidney beans, tomatoes, and V8 juice.
  • Heat until bubbling and the turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes.

This is great topped with cheddar cheese

Peter Berley’s Spicy Coconut Sweet Potato Soup with Spinach

We arrived home from our winter holiday 2 days ago and today is the first day that I attempted to transition from restaurant food to cooking for myself.

The transition worked out well. Extremely well, in fact.

The first audible sound out of EPC’s mouth, after”ummmmm” and various slurping sounds, was “This is the best soup I have had in a long, long, time!” He loved it and so did I.

Thanks to Captious Vegetarian for introducing me to Peter Berley! I picked up his cookbook Fresh Food Fast at the library and have thoroughly enjoyed reading through the recipes. We will certainly be making this soup again and will likely include the accompaniments that the author recommends – rice and Crispy Tempeh Strips (I was so out of practice with putting together a meal that I forgot to make the rice and neither of us had the energy to source out tempeh this morning after grocery shopping). However, the soup was fantastic on its own.

Coconut milk gives such a creamy buttery texture to soup. The yams held their own and added a delicious sweet flavour to the recipe, rounding out the spicy jalapeño and tangy lime juice

Spicy Coconut Sweet Potato Soup with Spinach

2 tablespoons olive oil 2 cups diced onion (about 2 medium)
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (I prefer yam to sweet potato)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small jalapeño pepper with seeds, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 small bunch of  spinach
1 lime cut into wedges
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish
2 cups of water
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchen Lite Coconut Milk)

  • In a large saucepan heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, a pinch of salt and sauté until softened.
  • Add the sweet potato, garlic, jalapeño, ginger, coriander, and turmeric, and saute for 2 minutes.
  • Add 2 cups of water, coconut milk, and 2 teaspoons of salt.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes
  • Add the spinach to the soup and simmer until softened – about 1 minute.
  • Add a bit of water if the soup is too thick.
  • To serve: ladle soup into bowls and top with brown basmati rice (or do as we “did”, and serve with thick slices of fresh bread).
  • Squeeze with lime juice and add cilantro to garnish.

Click to Print