Monthly Archives: May 2010

Three Sisters’ Stew with Corn Dumplings (did I mention how much I love Peter Berley’s recipes?)

I am constantly amazed.  Peter Berley never disappoints.

I will confess that I take a look at some of his recipes and wonder, will this taste good, will it have enough flavour, will EPC like it?  I know I wondered when I made his Root Vegetable Risotto with Red Beans.

Silly me.

Even if I begin cooking with doubts I always end the meal convinced.  Convinced that Peter Berley makes fantastic cookbooks and I am lucky to have one.

I was also convinced by the dumplings.  Before eating this stew I had never had dumplings before.  They are wonderful.  I can’t speak for all dumplings, but corn dumplings made with masa harina are the bee’s knees!  The great thing about corn dumplings is that besides being taste-bud friendly they are also celiac friendly.  I imagine that they eclipse wheat flour dumplings in the way that corn tortillas do flour tortillas.

In fact, EPC figured that the stew could be improved with even more dumplings (the recipe made 18 dumplings!).

Of course he was joking, but I am sure you get the point.

Enough about dumplings and onto the three sisters.

He is not referring to actual sisters, but instead to the three sisters of corn, squash, and beans which make up the cornerstone of Native American Cuisine and are the main components of the recipe.  In the recipe’s introduction he paints an idyllic picture of the cornstalk providing support for the bean tendrils, the large squash leaves spreading over the ground holding in moisture and shading out weeds, all benefiting from the nitrogen that the beans add to the soil.  In addition to agricultural support, the three sisters combine well with thyme and sage to make this delicious stew.

Located in the hearty stew section of The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, Three Sisters’ Stew with Corn Dumplings was a perfect choice for a spring evening meal when the weather seems more like fall or early winter.

Three Sisters’ Stew with Corn Dumplings

1 cup of dried pinto beans, soaked overnight and cooked until tender (I soaked them for 3 hours andcooked them in the pressure cooker with 2 cups of water for 20 minutes at high pressure)  You can also use 3 cups of canned pinto beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large leek, washed well and sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 medium butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled and chopped
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (leave a few seeds if you like it spicy)
400 ml of canned crushed tomato
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig of fresh sage
2 cups of thinly sliced fresh spinach
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup of masa harina
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Get the dumplings underway first:

  • Add masa harina to a medium-sized bowl
  • Bring the water to boil in a small pot.
  • Whisk the olive oil and salt into the boiling water and then pour over the masa harina.
  • Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together into a ball.
  • Cover the bowl with a plate and set aside

Then get the stew started:

  • Heat the oil over medium heat and add the leeks, carrots, squash, and jalapeno.  Saute for 10 minutes to soften, stirring frequently
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, pour in the beans with their juice (if using canned beans add about 1 cup of water).  Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water, if needed, to thin the stew.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
  • While the stew simmers, form the dumplings into bite sized oblong balls. I made about 18 dumplings.
  • Add about 1/2 inch of water to a pot with a steaming basket and stem the dumplings for 8 minutes.
  • To the stew, add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add spinach and stir
  • Add the dumplings and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes until the spinach is cooked through.

Click to print

Advertisements

Better than good! Peanut Butter and Honey Fudge

It was cold this  weekend – alternating between rain, snow, and the barest hint of sun.  In fact, the weather last weekend was rather crummy as well, but I was in Calgary having fun with my best friend, so I didn’t notice.

The cold wet weather made it the perfect weekend to stay indoors and make something delicious.  Trying to  compensate  for the depressing state of affairs outside, I guess.

So, I made some fudge.

Some pretty darn amazing fudge, I might add.

But, it isn’t really fudge, at least not in the true sense of the word. There is no milk or butter to be found, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t chewy, sweet and absolutely delicious.

EPC has named it “The Best Treat of the Year”.

The main ingredients are peanut butter and honey.  A mix of nuts, seeds raisins and coconut plus some carob powder  give this fudge its body and rich taste (I am sure that cocoa would work too).

I found this recipe in Lenten Cookbook: a collection of vegan/vegetarian recipes.  It was put out in 1998 by the Ukrainian Women’s Association Olha Kobylianska Branch from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  Since its first printing in 1998, it has been revised and printed four times – undoubtedly a popular cookbook.  I was lucky to get the last one in stock at a local Ukrainian church when a coworker picked one up for me at one of their popular Friday night perogi dinners.

I thought it might be fun to take a look a cookbook that was put out to give church members some vegan and vegetarian options during fasting days.  Without a doubt some of the recipes are a little strange, containing such delights as non-dairy topping and canned tomato soup.  Cool whip is certainly vegan, but YUCK!    And canned tomato soup, well, I hate when recipes ask for a can of any kind of soup to masquerade as a sauce.

Aside from a few questionable recipes, there is a section featuring traditional Ukrainian recipes that contains at least four recipes for borsch, plus recipes for buckwheat Kasha and potato pancakes.

Regardless of how the other recipes turn out, this fudge recipe is worth its weight in gold.

Peanut Butter and Honey Fudge

1 cup of natural peanut butter (please don’t use Kraft)
1 cup liquid honey
3/4 cup carob powder
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped cashews (or nut of your choice)
1/2 cup raisins

  • In a saucepan over low heat gently heat, but do not cook, peanut butter and honey until blended
  • Add carob powder and mix well.
  • Stir in sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, coconut, chopped cashews and raisins.
  • Line a 9 x 9 cake pan with plastic wrap and fold in mixture.  Press into pan and flatten with a spatula.
  • Chill for 2 hours before slicing.
  • Makes 16 large squares, but I cut them in half.

Click to print

Katchoomber Salad (and a Recipe Index!)

I love non-lettuce salads.

I like the fact that you get more nutritional bang for your buck with more substantial vegetables in the salad bowl.  Another plus is that these salads keep longer in the fridge than their lettuce-based counterparts and you know how much I love taking leftovers for lunch!

Katchoomber is one of my favourite salads.  It is easy to make, tastes wonderful, and keeps for a couple of days in the fridge without going soggy.  I am not a fan of raw onion, so feel free to add a few slices of red onion to the carrots, cucumber, and celery if you like.

This recipe has been adapted from Daksha’s Gourmet Spices Cookbook Three: Indian Vegetarian Cuisine. The neat thing about this cookbook is that it my In-Laws picked it up for me at a local craft sale.

They certainly know me well: I love cookbooks and I love Indian Cuisine.

The cookbook comes in a package with 5 or 6 spices that are needed to make the recipes in the book. Of course you can pick them up at any specialty Indian grocer, except for one. One of the spices, thana jeero is a special blend from the author’s family, so when I ran out I had to make a trip to the craft sale the following year to pick up more of the spice.

As I mentioned before, the best thing about this salad is the crunch. Of course the tangy vinegar, the musky cumin, and the surprise bite of freshly grated parmesan (which at first seemed a little out-of-place – until I tasted it!) make this salad stand out. Just to prove my point, I took this salad to a work potluck and it was all anyone could talk about. Everyone, even the more conservative eaters, couldn’t get enough.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I have added a recipe index to Cookbook Cooks to make searching for your favourite recipes a bit easier.  You can access it from the top of the page, or by clicking here.

Katchoomber Salad

1/2 long english cucumber, julienned
3 medium carrots, julienned
3 celery stalks, julienned
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds (I crushed them using a motar and pestle)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon grated parmesan

  • Put vegetables in a large serving bowl
  • Whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, cumin, and cayenne until well blended
  • Pour dressing over salad and toss.
  • Add cilantro and parmesan before serving

Click here to print

Quick and tasty weeknight meal – Thai Curry with Vegetables and Tofu

Did you ever think you could enjoy a Thai curry on a weeknight without having to go to a restaurant?

Perhaps it seems to exotic to fall into the quick and easy category?

Well, exotic or not, this Thai Curry is quick and tasty enough to spruce up your weeknight dinner repertoire.

I came across a version of this recipe in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers, but after taking a look at the recipe I realized that it was basically the same as the one on the side of my jar of Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste.

Thats right. I took this recipe straight of the side of the jar of curry paste – with the appropriate vegetarian modifications, of course. You certainly do not have to limit yourself to the red curry, as the green curry paste is equally good. In addition, feel free to experiment with the vegetables: half a can of baby corn, some broccoli or cauliflower would work equally well.  I also think a bit of spinach would be a tasty addition.

Aside from slicing a carrot and a couple of shallots, chopping and seeding a roma tomato, cubing a package of firm tofu, and tearing some basil leaves, the meal came together with frozen green beans, frozen peas, and a can of coconut milk. To cut down on time I decided to forgo the brown rice and use brown rice noodles instead. They cook quite a bit quicker and offer a pleasant change of pace.

Thai Curry with Vegetables and Tofu

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 -14 ounce can light coconut milk
1-2 tablespoons Thai Kitchen red curry paste (this is quite spicy, so adjust for personal taste!)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons soya sauce
1 block firm tofu, cubed
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 roma tomato, seeded and chopped
2 medium carrots (cut into thirds and thinly sliced lengthwise)
1 cup of frozen green beans
1/4 cup of frozen green peas
10 basil leaves, shredded

  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet add tofu cubes and cook until golden.  You will need to turn the tofu half-way through cooking.
  • Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside.  In the same pan gently fry the scallions for 3 minutes and then add the curry paste, stirring until fragrant.
  • Add the coconut milk, soy sauce and sugar and stir to mix well
  • Add the carrots, tomato, green beans,peas and simmer until tender (about 10 minutes)
  • Add the tofu and basil and cook until heated through
  • Add water if sauce is too thick.

Click to print

Homemade Apple Cranberry Granola

Every morning I have granola and plain yogurt for breakfast.   EPC is more of a crunchy bits and flakes with milk kinda’ guy.  He also loves to mix different types of breakfast cereal into one bowl.  Whenever there is homemade granola in the house, you can be sure he has a bit buried beneath his favourite flake.

We regularly buy Nature’s Path, Dorset Cereals, and Alpen.  We find these to be high quality and not too sweet.  I have also been known to splurge and pick up a package of Bob’s Red Mill Muesli or Alberta-made  Highwood Crossing Granola from time to time.  However, every once and while I get tired of packaged granola (as good as they are) and get down to making my own granola.

My Mom got me started on granola making.  She always has a Tupperware container of homemade granola in her cupboard.  I used her recipe for years.  She picked it up while she and my Dad were staying at a bed and breakfast in Vermont.  I am guessing this would have been over 10 years ago, but perhaps longer.  I won’t be sharing this recipe with you today, but you can look forward to it in the not to distant future.

I have branched out with my granola making, so this recipe is a combination of a couple of different recipes I have tried  over the last year, with an emphasis on whatever nuts I had lying around in my cupboard.

Using a can of concentrated apple juice gives this granola a very “appley” taste (imagine all those flakes of oats swimming in and soaking up all that sweet apple goodness).  Most granola rely on honey or maple syrup to sweeten, so I thought I would offer up some variety in case you feel like expanding your homemade granola repertoire and trying something new.

Homemade Apple Cranberry Granola

6 cups of large flake oats (not quick oats)
1/4 cup oat bran
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, unsalted
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup raw cashews, toasted
1/2 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
1/4 cup pecans
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 can concentrated apple juice, thawed
1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup unsweetened cranberries

  • Preheat oven to 350°C
  • In a large roasting pan or baking dish mix oats, nuts, seeds, and cinnamon.
  • In a bowl stir together thawed concentrated apple juice and oil.
  • Pour apple juice mixture over oat mixture and stir well until oat mixture is thoroughly coated.
  • Bake at 350°C for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and stir.
  • Return and bake for 30 more minutes.  Remove from oven and stir.
  • Return to the oven and after 10 minutes remove from oven and add cranberries.  Return to oven and bake 10 minutes more.
  • Let cool and store in airtight container

Click to print

Madhur Jaffrey’s Besan, or Polenta with an Eastern Flair

By the time the end of the workweek roles around the two of us are often too tired to do much of anything other than eat dinner, relax, go for a walk, and then go to bed.  This Friday night we decided to spice it up and head down to Whyte Ave for a short walk and a trip to Chapter’s to browse the bookshelves.

Lucky for me EPC wanted to head over to Planet Organic to pick up a snack from the deli.  That meant we could also pop into Greenwood’s Bookstore (they have a much better vegetarian cookbook selection than the Whyte Ave Chapter’s, at least in my opinion).  Tonight turned out to be my lucky night!

At Greenwood’s I found a copy of Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cooking discounted 50%!  The front cover was slightly creased at the corner, but other than that it was completely intact.  This cookbook gets such favourable reviews that I had been contemplating picking it up for a few months now, but figured I really could not justify buying yet another cookbook.  However, at 50% off how could I refuse? I was so excited with my new discount purchase that I decided to make Sunday’s dinner from its pages.

While flipping through the Beans and Dried Peas section and I came across an intriguing dish the likes of which I have never seen before.  Madhur coins it a Savory Chickpea Flour Quiche, but take a look at the recipe.

Cook the chickpea flour with onions and seasonings, pour into pan, cool, cut and serve.  The instructions read like polenta, not so unfamiliar after all, so I figure this dish can be coined polenta with an eastern flair.

It turned out fantastic.  EPC and both loved it.   I served it alongside Rasam, which Madhur describes as a tomato, tamarind and dal broth.  This sour spicy soup is one of my favourite South Indian dishes.  Although I really enjoyed the soup, I think that next time I make the Besan (and there will be a next time -it was delicious and not much work at all) I will serve a vegetable curry or two on the side instead.

Besan

2 1/2 cups of chickpea flour sifted
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground (I crushed mine with a mortar and pestle)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 -1 teaspoon of cayenne
1 medium onion, sliced in half and then into fine half rings
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 dried curry leaves

2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
1 hot chili, seeded and minced
1/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut

  • Put the sifted chickpea flour in bowl.  Slowly add 4 1/2 cups of water, breaking up the lumps as you go.  When all the water has been added, pour the batter through a fine mesh sieve to remove all the lumps.
  • Combine the garlic ginger, cumin, turmeric and cayenne in a small cup with 1/4 cup of water.  Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy 2 1/2 quart pot (I used an enameled Dutch oven) over medium heat.
  • Add the curry leaves and stir.  Then add the onions.
  • Cook the onions for 2-3 minutes, until softened, but not brown.
  • Add the spices in the cup with the water and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  • Add the chickpea flour mixture into the pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  • Turn the heat to medium low and stir vigorously until the mixture pulls away from the side of the pot.  This should take about 20 minutes
  • Add the salt and lemon juice and mix well.
  • Put the mixture into a 9 X 9 cake pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  • Sprinkle the cilantro, chilies, and coconut and let cool.
  • Slice into 16 squares.

Click to print

The Worst Meal of the Year, so far.

Yes, it is true. We are almost half way through the year and EPC has already crowned this dish the Worst Meal of The Year.  I think he is being overly optimistic.  Afterall, I do have over 6 months to whip up another culinary disaster to torment our taste buds.

Perhaps it was silly to think that I could make a delicious macaroni and cheese recipe with tofu.  Mind you, this recipe still contains cheese and milk, but it didn’t help any.  The block of soft tofu and the two teaspoon of prepared mustard brought this dish into the winner’s circle.