Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Recent cooking adventures

I had to do a quick post because I've made so many yummy things recently that I don't want to forget!

Spaghetti Chitarra with Pine Nuts and Bacon: Really good, really quick and really easy. I omitted parsley and the bread crumbs and used far less bacon (just four slices). I also toasted the pine nuts and added them at the end instead of adding them to the sauce. This will be a go-to weeknight dinner for us.

Poblano Mac and Cheese from Rachael Ray: I borrowed a Rachael Ray book from the library and tried a bunch of new recipes. This one was really, really yummy! I omitted the corn and substituted roasted asparagus, and my regular grocery store doesn't carry manchego so I used my favorite Irish cheddar instead.

Pakistani Chickpea Pulao with Sweet Hot Date-Onion Chutney: This was soooooo gooooood, but a lot of work. I used ground cardamom and cinnamon instead of the whole pieces the recipe calls for, and I couldn't find Thai chilies so I used whatever dried chilies I found at our local co-op. I think they were dried chipotle peppers.

Black Bean and Quinoa Enchilada Bake: Not the prettiest dish, but this was nummy. It's also a perfect clean-out-the-fridge dish. You could use almost anything in it. I made this enchilada sauce for it.

Chianti Burgers with Caramelized Onions: This is the perfect dish if you want to impress somebody, and it tastes so fucking good. I'm hungry now just thinking about it. I omitted sage, substituted Parmesan for pecorino and served the burgers on ciabatta bread. The homemade ketchup is essential.

Asian Lemon Chicken Tenders: This is the first time I made fried chicken strips, and they turned out great. I know I substituted a couple things in the sauce recipe (I think orange instead of pineapple juice and white instead of apple cider vinegar), and I would recommend making like a half serving of the glaze. The recipe made way more than I needed. I also used it as a dipping sauce instead of coating all the strips in it.

Asian Lemon Chicken Tenders
Finally, two recipes that were totally meh: Corn Roasted Walleye and Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta. Both were edible (I didn't throw them out and order pizza) but I wouldn't make either again.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014


I'm a big fan of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods. I love the fresh veggies, tangy yogurt, big pinches of hot dried peppers and bright, sunny citrus juice that come together in dishes like hummus and lahmacun.

One of my close friends finally took the hint after I constantly ranted about food from the other side of the world and bought me Jerusalem: A Cookbook. After making a few dishes out of it, I'm certain it would be the one thing I would save if my house were on fire. I highly recommend it.

Earlier this week, I made falafel and I just had to share the recipe. It was so good! I served mine on flat bread with a chopped salad of tomatoes and cucumbers and a yogurt sauce similar to tzatziki.

Like a lot of Israeli food, there is a fair amount of "wait time" in this recipe. You have to soak the chick peas overnight and then you have to let the falafel mixture rest for an hour until you use it. I recommend starting it one or two days before you're going to make it. I soaked the beans on a Saturday night, whipped up the falafel mixture on Sunday and then cooked them on Monday. It took just 20-30 minutes to prepare on serving night since I had done all the heavy lifting beforehand.

From Jerusalem: A Cookbook

Serves: 3-4
Preparation: 40 minutes hands-on time, plus 8-9 hours wait time

1 1/4 c. dried chickpeas
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 ts. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
vegetable oil, for frying
1 tsp. sesame seeds

1. Cover the chickpeas with water in a large bowl and soak overnight.
2. Drain the chickpeas and stir in the onion, garlic, parsley and cilantro. In small batches, food process the mixture for about 30-40 seconds. It should be very finely chopped but not the texture of hummus.
3. Transfer to a bowl and add the spices, baking powder, flour, water and 3/4 tsp. salt. Mix well by hand. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
4. Form tablespoon-sized balls from the mixture and set on a plate. Line a colander with paper towels and set on a plate.
5. Fill a medium saucepan with oil, until the oil comes 2-3 inches up the sides of the pan. Heat over medium-high heat until hot, about 5 minutes. Test the heat of the oil by frying one falafel. Drop into the oil and let fry for 2 minutes. Then, using a slotted spoon, turn the falafel over so the other side can fry. Fry for about 3 more minutes, until nice and brown on the outside.
6. Remove the falafel  from oil using the slotted spoon and set in the colander. Allow to cool before testing for doneness. The falafel should be brown and crunchy on the outside and bright green and cooked through on the inside. If so, the oil is hot enough. Fry the rest of the falafels in the same manner, frying 5-6 at a time. Drain and enjoy.