Friday, December 31, 2010

Ras el Hanout (North African Spice Blend)

"Ras el hanout" means "top-shelf" in Arabic.  This seasoning is used in many North African foods.  Like curry powders and berbere, there are regional variations - but more importantly, each cook may make their own signature blend, with potentially over 100 ingredients. My blend is based on ingredients that are more or less readily available in the U.S. - if not in your grocery store, then at a local Asian or Mediterranean market.     

Typically this blend might replace the spices in your favorite tagine , but I find that many stews can be successfully reinvented by using ras el hanout.

Makes about 8 oz.

Ingredients

3 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
1 Tbsp white peppercorns
24 allspice berries
4 tsp cardamom seeds
6 cloves
10 rosebuds (dried)
12 cinnamon sticks
12 blades of mace
3 Tbsp sweet paprika
1 tsp aniseed
8 Tbsp turmeric
8  Tbsp dried pepper flakes
1/2 tsp lavender
1 tsp saffron
1 Tbsp ginger powder

Preparation

1. Add all ingredients that are not seeds to a non reactive bowl (glass or ceramic). In the ingredient list - begin with rosebuds and continue to the end.

2. Heat skillet.  Add all seeds (ingredients up until cloves). Turn heat to low or medium, and toast until fragrant, frequently shaking (about 1 1/2 minutes).  Remove immediately from heat and add to the other spices.

3. Grind in a spice blender in small batches until powder.  Pour all batches in a non reactive bowl, and stir together when finished.

4. Store in tightly sealed glass jars.  To take advantage of the freshness, use within two weeks.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Easy Ethiopian Lentil Stew

An easy, fragrant stew; allow yourself 1 1/2 hours to prepare, but most of this will be waiting time.  You can cut the cooking time by replacing the water and dried lentils with a can of cooked lentils in a pinch; just delete step 3 and add after the carrots and potatoes are finished.

In the absence of berbere, and if you don't have time to mix up your own, try substituting your favorite curry - the taste will be different, but also delicious!

Ingredients

1 Tbsp  canola oil
2  red onions, chopped
3  garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp  berbere spice mix 
1 cup water
2 veggie bouillon cubes, low salt
1  cup  dried small red lentils, rinsed
1 20 oz can diced tomatoes
2 medium carrots, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
1 potato, cubed into 1/2 inch cubes
salt to taste
1/4  cup  finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional) for garnish

Preparation

1.  In a medium pot, heat oil. Reduce to medium low heat, then add diced onion. Saute for about six minutes, until beginning to get transluscent (not brown), then add garlic.  Continue to saute for four more minutes.  Add berbere. Mix and allow spice to heat through until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes.

2.  Add water, bouillon, tomatoes, and lentils. Simmer for 30 minutes.

3.  Add carrots, potatoes, and salt.  Cook until all are soft, about another 20 minutes.  Taste and add more berbere, salt, or cayenne pepper if desired.

4.  Serve with flatbread or basmati rice, and garnish with the fresh cilantro if desired.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Berberé (Ethiopian/Eritrean Spice Mixture )

Berberé, like any curry, has many regional inflections - and every cook has their own recipe, many containing over 30 ingredients. While this is a dry blend, berberé pastes are also often made, using fresh peppers. 

This can be used to flavor any stew (recipes to follow). I also often spray strips of root veggies with olive oil, then sprinkle berberé on top and roast. 

This year I mixed up large batches and filled assorted jars collected from thrift shops for holiday gifts- include a few easy suggestions as well as a more involved recipe.

Ingredients
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
12 whole cloves
1 tsp cardamom seeds
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp whole allspice
1 1/3 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
12 small dried red chiles
4 small cinnamon sticks
2 whole nutmeg
1 tsp dried ginger
1 Tbsp tumeric
1 tsp sea salt
3 Tbsp sweet paprika


Preparation

1. Heat a dry skillet. Reduce heat to low and add whole spices, in batches if necessary. Toast until fragrant, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from skillet immediately, and place in glass bowl to cool.

2. When seeds have cooled, add remaining spices to bowl and stir.

3. Add the spices to an electric spice or coffee grinder in three batches; pulse 4 times, then grind until powdered. Pour into a bowl, and stir all three batches together when finished.

(Hint : of course we are supposed to have two separate grinders for coffee and spices, but sometimes we don't have space or money for that luxury! I use the same grinder: I just clean well before and after, and enjoy the fact that my coffee is spicy for a week or so! )

4. Store in an airtight glass container.
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Curry Powder

In honor of the incomparable pleasure of eating dishes with freshly roasted spices!  There is a tremendous difference from prepared curry powders, which use a limited number of ingredients and have been ground weeks, months, or even years before. 
I often make spice blends in fairly large batches and then freeze portions of it... that immediate freshness is gone within two weeks at room temperature, though there will still be more flavor than in store-bought blends.  I also use this recipe for making gifts.  Include a note with some easy ideas (sprinkling over roasted root veggies, on hummus, etc.) as well as with a detailed recipe for a more complex curry dish.
These days one stop at a well stocked Asian market should get you all of these spices at a reasonable price.  The cardamom and saffron are the only two expensive ingredients... However, if you don't want to buy large packages, many Whole Foods stores carry all of these spices (except the saffron and onion seeds) in bulk, so you can buy smaller amounts for a reasonable price as well.
Ingredients
3 Tbs cumin seeds
4 Tbs coriander seeds
4 Tbs ground turmeric
1 Tbs cardamom seeds
1 Tbs mustard seeds
1 tsp onion seeds
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 Tbs white peppercorns
4 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp whole cloves
1 whole nutmeg
1 Tbs ground ginger
2-4 tsp cayenne powder
2 pinches (about 8 whole threads) saffron

Procedure
1. Heat a dry skillet.  When it is hot, reduce the heat to low and add all of the ingredients that are not powdered (be sure that there is no more than a single layer in the skillet at once).  Toast the seeds until fragrant, about 1-1 1/2 minutes. Remove the seeds immediately to a glass bowl and allow to cool.
2. Once the toasted spices have cooled, add the powdered spices to the bowl and stir.
3. Add the spices to an electric spice or coffee grinder in three batches; pulse 4 times, then grind until powdered.  Pour into a bowl, and stir all three batches together when finished.
(Hint : of course we are supposed to have two separate grinders for coffee and spices, but sometimes we don't have space or money for that luxury!  I use the same grinder: I just clean well before and after, and enjoy the fact that my coffee is spicy for a week or so!)
4. Store your curry powder in an air-tight glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Keep in a cool, dry place.

Monday, December 20, 2010

DIY Holiday Gifts

Working on a series of spice blends and trying out my mobile phone in the process... Recipes to follow!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tagine of Chickpeas, Autumn Vegetables and Apricots in Slow Cooker

It's a beautiful fall day, and at 6 this morning I found myself cleaning out the fridge of a number of lovely root vegetables I'd purchased at the farmer's market and trying to figure out what to do with them.  

Really, you could make this with any root vegetables, so long as you end up with approximately 6 cups or so.  You can also replace the spices with 2 - 3 Tbsp of your favorite Ras el Hanout blend.  And, of course, you can also make this in a regular pot to speed up the cooking time.

Slow Cooker tip for my high altitude readers:  For high altitude cooking, add an additional 30 minutes for each hour of time specified in the recipe. Legumes take about twice as long at 10,000 feet as they would at sea level.
4
Tbs
extra-virgin olive oil
2
large onion, coarsely chopped
3
garlic cloves, pressed
4
tsp
cumin seed
3
tsp
turmeric
1
pinch
saffron
2
tsp
coarsely ground black pepper
1/4
tsp
crushed red pepper

1
28 oz can diced tomatoes
6
cups
reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1/2
tsp
salt
1
(20-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1
butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2
turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
20
dried apricots ; 2 tsp cinnamon
1
 Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add onion; sauté until it begins to be translucent, 3-6 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 3 minutes.
2
Transfer onion mixture to a slow cooker,
3
Add cumin seeds to same saute pan. Shake to evenly distribute. Roast on low until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Deglaze pan with 1/2 cup water and add to slow cooker.
4
 Add tomatoes, vegetable broth, remaining spices, and salt. Cover and cook on low for 1/2 hour.
5
 In the meantime, chop the butternut squash and turnip. Add to slow cooker. Cook on low for approximately 4 hours.
6
 Add the apricots, cinnamon, and garbanzo beans; cook on low for an additional hour.
7
 Serve over couscous.

Servings: 8
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/8 of a recipe (10.3 ounces).
Percent daily values based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients.
Amount Per Serving
Calories
207.4
Calories From Fat (40%)
83.61
% Daily Value
Total Fat 9.43g
15%
Saturated Fat 2.21g
11%
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 579.33mg
24%
Potassium 563.52mg
16%
Total Carbohydrates 27.12g
9%
Fiber 5.71g
23%
Sugar 6.51g

Protein 5.95g
12%
Vitamin A 2966.42IU
59%
Vitamin B12 0mcg
0%
Vitamin B6 0.52mg
26%
Vitamin C 29.4mg
49%
Vitamin E 2.14mg
21%
Vitamin K 8.47mcg
11%

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Almond Tapa

This is a fun, easy, tasty and nutritious addition to holiday cocktail parties or everyday lunchboxes!

1/4
cup
raw sugar or maple syrup
2
tsp
ground cumin
1
tsp
smoked paprika
1.5
tsp
dried thyme
1
tsp
kosher salt
1/4
tsp
cayenne pepper
2
large egg whites
2
Tbs
water
1
lb
raw whole almonds (about three cups).  If you can find RAW Marcona almonds, that's best; do not use roasted or salted almonds.
Preheat oven to 275°F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, preferably olive oil spray.


Stir together raw sugar or maple syrup and spices in a large bowl and set aside. Whisk egg whites and water in a separate large bowl until foamy. Add almonds to the egg whites and stir to coat. Transfer the almonds to the spice bown and toss to coat. 

Spread almonds evenly on the prepared baking sheet.


Bake the almonds for 30-40 minutes. Stir, reduce the oven temperature to 200° and bake until the almonds are dry and golden, about 30 minutes more. Let cool before serving, about 20 minutes.

Tips
Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or refrigerate for longer and pop in the toaster oven at 300 degrees for 3-5 minutes before serving.
Servings: 12
Yield: 3 cups
Cooking Times
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/12 of a recipe (1.7 ounces).
Percent daily values based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients using Living Cookbook.
Amount Per Serving
Calories
226.78
Calories From Fat (66%)
148.85
% Daily Value
Total Fat 17.8g
27%
Saturated Fat 1.35g
7%
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 167.06mg
7%
Potassium 273.75mg
8%
Total Carbohydrates 12.34g
4%
Fiber 4.54g
18%
Sugar 5.63g

Protein 8.3g
17%
Vitamin A 119.34IU
2%
Vitamin B12 0.01mcg
<1%
Vitamin B6 0.06mg
3%
Vitamin C 0.27mg
<1%
Vitamin D 0IU
0%
Vitamin E 9.46mg
95%
Vitamin K 3.19mcg
4%

Monday, November 8, 2010

Braised Red Cabbage (Vegan Alternative)

This is one of the first foods I turn to after the first frost - a comforting, attractive, tasty and nutritious fall food.  This is traditionally a German/Austrian dish, but this weekend we ate it together with tofu steaks marinated in an Asian sesame sauce and a wild rice pilaf - which proved to be an excellent combination!
1/4
cup
canola oil
2
onion coarsely chopped
1
med head
red cabbage, shredded roughly
2
cups
water
1/3
cup
apple cider vinegar
2
apples, peeled, cored and diced (preferably a tart apple)
2
Tbs
sugar, agave nectar, or honey
1
cube
vegetable bouillon
1
cup
raisins, craisins, blueberries, or any mixture of the three
2
tsp
cinnamon
1
tsp
cardamom
1/2
tsp
cloves, ground
1
tsp
allspice
1
 Saute onion in oil until transluscent.
2
 Add cabbage and toss to coat with oil. This will protect the color somewhat.
3
 Add all remaining ingredients and stir well.
4
 Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer.
5
 Cook for 2 - 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally (especially at beginning to ensure that the veggie bouillion cube is mixed in).
6
 Optional: toss in a handful of chopped bacon, veggie bacon, or a teaspoon of liquid smoke at the very end.
Servings: 15
Cooking Times
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 hours
Inactive Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition Information generated without optional ingredients, using Living Cookbook

Serving size: 1/15 of a recipe (5.3 ounces).
Percent daily values based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for a 2000 calorie diet.

Amount Per Serving
Calories
109.53
Calories From Fat (33%)
36.46
% Daily Value
Total Fat 4.12g
6%
Saturated Fat 0.52g
3%
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 36.08mg
2%
Potassium 262.25mg
7%
Total Carbohydrates 18.73g
6%
Fiber 2.56g
10%
Sugar 12.8g

Protein 1.6g
3%
Vitamin A 636.56IU
13%
Vitamin B12 0mcg
0%
Vitamin B6 0.18mg
9%
Vitamin C 34.41mg
57%
Vitamin D 0IU
0%
Vitamin E 0.76mg
8%
Vitamin K 24.97mcg
31%

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chocolate Chip Carrot Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

This carrot cake has undergone a number of changes over 15 (!) years, to become a delightfully quirky take on a classic dessert - and one that significantly cuts saturated fat and calories (though still - eat with moderation!) while dramatically increasing nutritional content. At a recent writing retreat, my fellow writers loved it enough to demand a second cake over the weekend!


2
cups
whole wheat pastry flour
1
cup
sugar (light brown – raw sugar)
1.5
tsp
cinnamon
1.5
tsp
allspice
1
tsp
baking soda
1.5
tsp
baking powder
1/2
tsp
salt
4-5 large carrots, grated (at least 3 cups!)
1
tsp
vanilla
1
cup
canola oil
4
eggs, lightly beaten
1/2
cup
golden raisins
1/2
cup
dried cranberries, blueberries or raisins
1
cup
semi-sweet chocolate chips

8

oz
Frosting
Neufchatel cream cheese or soy "cream cheese"
2
Tbs
frozen orange juice concentrate
2
cups
powdered sugar


1
 Mix dry ingredients in large bowl (flour through salt).
2
 Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. (To increase fluffiness, you can beat the egg whites separately until they are stiff, slowly add the yolks, and then fold into entire mixture).
3
 Add dried fruit and chocolate chips.
4
 Bake in oiled and floured 9x9 pan for about 50 minutes at 325 degrees. 

After cooling, sift the powdered sugar into a bowl.  Beat powdered sugar, Neufchatel cheese, and orange juice.  This will make a runnier frosting than you may be used to, but it is delicious! 





Servings: 15
Nutrition Information generated using Living Cookbook
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/15 of a recipe (4.2 ounces).
Percent daily values based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients.
Amount Per Serving
Calories
399.71
Calories From Fat (56%)
222.97
% Daily Value
Total Fat 25.7g
40%
Saturated Fat 6.02g
30%
Cholesterol 67.89mg
23%
Sodium 306.97mg
13%
Potassium 230.21mg
7%
Total Carbohydrates 40.09g
13%
Fiber 3.86g
15%
Sugar 18.02g

Protein 6.84g
14%
Vitamin A 3870.99IU
77%
Vitamin B12 0.21mcg
4%
Vitamin B6 0.15mg
8%
Vitamin C 2.6mg
4%
Vitamin D 4.67IU
1%
Vitamin E 2.98mg
30%
Vitamin K 13.91mcg
17%









































Saturday, April 10, 2010

Chard Lasagna

This dish made for a perfect meal for a semester-end gathering with my graduate students - you can prepare the day before and refrigerate; serve with a simple salad.  Preparing this dish, I thought of two inspirations in my life.  Sara, an energetic teacher, researcher, and activist regularly opens her home to her students for evenings of wine, food, and stimulating conversation, feeding the body and mind.  Julie integrated hope, good food, and a sort of radical acceptance into her classroom, and always reminded me of the importance of care for self and others in any intellectual life.  Both teach me much about imagining a different future.


As I was preparing this for my own students, I was not yet aware that Julie died last week. There is much to celebrate about the life of this remarkable woman...


serves 10-12

1 1/2 pkgs flat lasagna noodles (the kind you don't have to cook - I did this with whole wheat noodles and it worked splendidly)
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
olive oil for sauteing 

1 28 oz + 1 12 oz can diced tomatoes (fire roasted if you can get them)
30 oz container low fat or fat free ricotta cheese
2 bunches chard
2 eggs
1 small bunch fresh basil
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup shredded cheese (Parmesan/Provolone/Mozzarella blend is perfect)
salt and pepper


Begin by dicing the onion and mashing or pressing the garlic.  Start to work on sauteing the onion in a large saute pan.  Allow to saute until translucent.

In the meantime, chop your chard and set aside in a large bowl.
Chop your basil and set aside.

By now your onions are probably translucent; reduce heat and add the garlic, allow to saute for another 3-4 minutes, until garlic just begins to brown.  

Add 1/2 of the onion/garlic mixture to the chard.  Add the tomatoes to the onions and garlic in the pan, with juice, and allow to simmer until somewhat thick.

Mix the ricotta cheese, half of the basil, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste into the chard.  Form a well in the middle and add the eggs; beat them lightly with a fork before mixing well into the whole mixture.

Check on your sauce.  When it is somewhat thickened, remove from heat and add the remainder of the basil.

In a 9 1/2 x 13 pan, spray the bottom and sides with olive oil.  Spread a few tablespoons of sauce on the bottom, followed by a layer of noodles (should take about 5 to cover).  Follow with 1/3 of the cheese/chard mixture, a 1/4 cup sauce, and another layer of noodles.  Repeat two more times. Pour the remaining sauce over the top, and top with the shredded cheese and foil.  Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, remove the foil, and bake another fifteen minutes, until the top is brown.

Yum!




Thursday, April 8, 2010

Red Beet Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Unlikely combination? Absolutely. Delicious?  Oh, you have NO idea... A recipe using red beets was circulating a month or two ago. Using the usual tricks to cut on fat and calories, I came up with this version based on my own favorite ingredients (not to mention refrigerator contents).

3/4  cup          beet puree
3/4  cup          sugar
3/4  cup          flour
1/2  cup          cocoa
1/4  cup          canola oil
1/4  cup          nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp applesauce
1     tsp           baking powder
1/2  tsp           baking soda
1/2  tsp           balsamic vinegar or ume plum vinegar
1/4  tsp           salt
2                    eggs, at room temperature
Canola oil spray or unbleached baking cups (Beyond Gourmet makes some that work well)

Preheat oven to 350. Insert 12 baking cups or spray 12 cups in a muffin pan. Stir together the dry ingredients. Set aside. Mix together the yoghurt, oil, beet puree, vinegar, milk and eggs. Slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Fill 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before icing.


Nutrition (calculated from recipe ingredients)
----------------------------------------------
 Calories: 149
 Calories From Fat: 54
 Total Fat: 6.1g
 Cholesterol: 36mg
 Sodium: 166.6mg
 Potassium: 125.7mg
 Carbohydrates: 22.6g
 Fiber: 1.7g
 Sugar: 13.5g
 Protein: 3.1g


                  

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spaghettini with Greens, Lemon and Olive Oil

6 oz whole wheat spaghettini
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups chopped greens (I used kale)
3 cloves minced or crushed garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped parsley or 3 tsp. dried herbs (I suggest basil and sage or thyme)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions.  In the meantime heat two tablespoons of olive oil.  Saute the greens for five minutes, then push to the side and add the garlic.  Saute garlic until golden, mix thoroughly with the kale.

Add pasta and remaining ingredients, and toss well.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Gourmet Cowboy Cooking III : Cowboy Mac & Cheese

Mmm, I was saving my favorite camp food for an evening after a nice long hike - this time, ten miles on the Chinle Trail at Zion National Park.  We arrive back to the campground exhausted and starving, but full of memories of amazing views of canyons and rock formations.

Serves 4

1 package of your favorite mac n cheese
1 small can diced tomatoes, drained
1 can tuna, drained
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 10 oz can whole kernel corn, drained
Optional: 3/4 cup shredded cheese

Make the mac n cheese according to the directions.  Mix in all of the remaining ingredients, and 1/2 of the cheese, if using.  Garnish with remaining cheese and serve!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Gourmet Cowboy Cooking II: Pita Pizzas

Easing our way into camping season slowly, we spend the day acquainting ourselves with Zion National Park, checking out the scenic drive and doing the easy 2.9 mile Watchmen Hike, accessible right from the campground. Indeed, the immensity of the natural beauty surrounding us is overwhelming enough, and we seem to need the day to absorb our environment. 

After our day exploring, it's yummy pita pizzas on the menu! On this day two early in March, it was easy to plan for two evenings with food from a cooler. This is definitely a recipe for car camping.


Campfire / Grill option: Below I describe using a propane stove and frying pan. We so frequently are in deserts with fire restrictions that we normally don't plan for campfires. But you could stuff the pitas with the ingredients, wrap in aluminum foil, and heat over a fire or charcoal.

Serves 2 – 4 depending on hunger and whether you intend to follow up with S'mores!

Ingredients:
4 whole wheat pitas
1/2 cup red sauce or pesto
Diced green pepper
Veggie "pepperoni"
Optional: 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
1 cup shredded cheese

Spread one side of pita with sauce or pesto (or inside if using campfire or grill). Divide toppings among the pitas. Heat in frying pan for 5-7 minutes per pita. Cut and serve immediately, popping the next pita in the pan while you enjoy the first.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gourmet Cowboy Cooking: Rice and Beans

We're off to the canyons of Utah for a much needed vacation!  Our first few days will involve tent camping in Zion National Park where the only amenity is running water (for us a great luxury, as we often are camping in much more primitive spots in national forests, though we rarely do true backcountry camping).  Since we are often camping and hiking in desert areas with fire restrictions, I always plan to I cook with a two burner propane stove, good ole' Coleman.  It turns out there are actually cafes/restaurants/shops nearby, but we've gotten in the habit of bringing everything and enjoying our evenings outdoors.  We continue the tradition!

This recipe is so easy that I find myself with plenty of time to snap photos while the rice is cooking.

serves four

1 cup brown rice or jasmine brown rice
water
veggie bouillon cube
__
small onion
Cuban pepper
1 Tbsp canola oil
__
medium can diced tomatoes - hint, try adobo seasoned fire roasted tomatoes (don't drain)
can black beans , drained
1-2 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 2 cups baby spinach (I always bring along a bag and use it up in the first two days with whatever I cook)
Optional: shredded cheese


Cook rice according to package directions, adding the bouillon cube. Optional step: In the meantime, chop and saute pepper and onion; if you aren't in the mood to saute, just set aside and add them raw - this is cowboy cooking! When rice is almost finished, stir in can tomatoes (don't drain). Cook for last five minutes. Stir in spinach if using. Stir in peppers, onions, beans, curry powder, and salt and pepper to taste.

If your cooler is so equipped and you are a dairy eater, garnish with a tablespoon or two of shredded cheese.

Voila! If you are cooking for two, and car camping where it will be cool at night, park the pan in the car and use the leftovers for a fabulous breakfast burrito filling!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Peruvian Inspired Baked Vegetable "Fries"

This recipe is inspired by our favorite appetizer at a local Latin Restaurant, Aji.  While both ingredients and preparation are quite different than the Peruvian Papas a la Huancaina, it is that dish that prompted me to find a new way to use up some root vegetables in the fridge.  This makes a lovely contribution to a tapas party or a nice centerpiece for an evening meal, perhaps accompanied by a small salad.

For an even faster, vegan alternative, serve with a balsamic vinaigrette or vegan "goddess" dressing.

Serves 4 as appetizer, 2 as entree.

Veggies
1 large potato
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 zucchini
olive oil spray
salt and pepper
Sauce  
4 Tbsp goat cheese, ricotta, or queso fresco
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried basil
handful of crackers
salt and pepper
Garnish
8 black olives, quartered
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
1 cup baby spinach, optional

Preheat oven to 400.  Spray baking sheet with olive oil.  Cut the potato and sweet potatoes into wedges about 1/2" thick on the bottom, and arrange on tray.  Spray tops with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, cut zucchini into similarly sized wedges.  Add to baking sheet, spray with olive oil, and bake everything for another 15 minutes, or until tender.

In the meantime, put all ingredients for sauce except for cracker in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add crackers one at a time until thickened to desired consistency (should still be liquid).

If desired, spread baby spinach on plate.  Arrange vegetable wedges on plate.  Drizzle sauce over top, and garnish with the black olives and hard boiled eggs.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Coconut Couscous with Greens

A quick and easy Monday night dinner... It seriously took me no more than 15 minutes!

Serves 2 

1 bunch greens (I used collard greens tonight)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sesame oil
1 cup couscous or couscous/lentil mix (Israeli coucous works especially well; I use a mix that I buy at Trader Joes)
1/4 cup light coconut milk
1 tsp. curry powder
salt to taste

Cook the couscous according to package directions, adding the curry powder after turning off the heat.  Remove the stems from the greens, chop and saute in the oil until wilted. Add couscous and coconut milk to greens and stir.  Add salt to taste.

I served with a veggie burger - but take it easy on the salt in the couscous mixture if you do, as veggie burgers tend to be fairly salt laden. Alternatively, toss in a package of diced seasoned baked tofu to make a one pot meal.