Archive for the ‘side dishes’ Category

Spiced Apple Cider Carrot Tzimmes

September 17, 2015

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This year, I made tzimmes by simmering carrots with apple cider, spiced with cinnamon, ginger and a pinch of nutmeg. As it bubbled away on the stove, the tzimmes filled the air with the intoxicating aroma of mulled cider. (more…)

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Leeks, Spinach, Tomatoes & Beans

September 11, 2015

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If you like to serve leeks, spinach and black-eyed peas on Rosh HaShana, here is an easy recipe that combines all three.

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Spinach and Chickpea Curry

January 7, 2015

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My sister gave me a stash of cooking magazine to look through and this recipe popped out at me. It is the sort of brilliant recipe that is dead simple and super quick to make, but tastes as complex as a time-consuming complicated recipe.

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Swiss Chard, Chickpea and Tamarind Stew

May 2, 2014

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This recipe, adapted from Ottolenghi’s Plenty, is very much like the Tunisian ragout of Swiss chard and chickpeas called Morshan. The Swiss chard gets meltingly soft and gets infused, along with the chickpeas, with tangy, hearty flavors that are completely unexpected.  Morshan is heavy on the garlic and coriander. Here, coriander is still dominant, but caramelized onion replaces garlic; caraway and tamarind form an intriguing undertone.

The caraway most surprised me because I associate it with rye bread, but it is a spice used in the Middle East. Ottolenghi calls for caraway in a few of his recipes, including his barley risotto (Jerusalem).

 

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Paula Wolfert’s Pan Roasted Cauliflower

March 19, 2014

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I love Paula Wolfert and I love cauliflower. Here is a recipe from Paula for cauliflower. What could be better?

As a cookbook writer, Paula has been a visionary, an innovator who was exploring and writing about authentic Mediterranean cuisine long before it was trendy. Her classic book on Moroccan food was published in 1973, and she has promoted the food of the region ever since with a series of acclaimed books such as The Cooking of Southwest France, The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Mediterranean Grains and Greens, The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen, Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking and, most recently, The Cooking of Morocco (2012 James Beard Award winner for best international cookbook).

Recently, Wolfert was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Well, actually, to be precise, she was diagnosed by two different neurologists with either early-stage Alzheimer’s disease or “mild cognitive impairment, a form of dementia that can progress to Alzheimer’s.” In addition to changing her diet by adding in more super foods, she has become an Alzheimer’s activist. This April, she is behind a fundraiser dinner for the cause. The Mediterranean Feast menu will include her pan roasted cauliflower.

As she explained in a PBS segment with Judy Woodruff, Wolfert learned this cauliflower recipe from a well-known chef and cookbook author, Arto der Haroutunian (born in Syria to Armenian parents and then transplanted to England). She likes it because “it is so simple to make.”

This is the basic idea: cook cauliflower in oil in a pot until it gets soft and caramelized. Then add garlic, tomatoes, raisins and pine nuts. After that, put in in the oven in an oven-proof casserole. Finally, sprinkle with lemon juice and parsley. It is a nice change of pace from the usual oven-roasted cauliflower and the texture is superior, I think.

Bonus: Here is my version of Wolfert’s recipe for Morshan, chickpeas and greens.

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(Almost) Just Like the Boxed Mix Rice Pilaf

February 12, 2014

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My kids love the boxed rice pilaf that is a mix of yellow rice and toasted orzo. For a long time, I tried to replicate it with a “from scratch” recipe and it just wasn’t quite the same.

What is in the rice mix that makes it so appealing, I wondered–is there the food equivalent of crack in there? I looked closely at the ingredients and noted that there is something called autolyzed yeast extract. That is the main ingredient in Marmite and Vegemite. It is high in glutamic acids and is analogous to MSG. Autolyzed yeast extract, then, is an umami flavor-enhancer. This is the ingredient that amps up the savory taste of the rice pilaf.

I don’t have any autolyzed yeast extract in my spice cabinet, but I can produce the remaining ingredients: parboiled rice, toasted orzo, dried onion, dried onion, salt and turmeric. Using parboiled rice is key to reproducing the distinctive texture of the pilaf, but, if you don’t care about that, you can use regular long grain rice. I found that Hawaij spice mix, which contains turmeric and other spices (black pepper, coriander, cardamon and cumin), is better than plain turmeric for this rice pilaf.

Slight digression: If you want to make your own Hawaijj, or just want to read an interesting article about Yemenite Jewish cuisine, take a look at this article from Gourmet Magazine. The article is from the website of food writer Adeena Sussman, which has other interesting articles and recipes.

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Multi-Grain Spinach Balls

January 20, 2014

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Everyone loves spinach balls. I thought this classic appetizer could use a little makeover to be a little more healthful, though. The usual spinach ball recipe calls for spinach to be bound together with butter, cheese, eggs and either stuffing mix or seasoned bread crumbs.

Here are my substitutions:
1/4 cup olive oil instead of lots of butter;
quinoa and brown rice instead of stuffing mix/seasoned bread crumbs;
ground flax instead of eggs; and
ground seeds or nuts and nutritional yeast instead of cheese.

Ground flax seeds combine with the excess moisture in drained spinach to make an egg substitute. As you mix the flax seeds and spinach, you can see the moisture around the spinach turn slightly viscous, as if the spinach were bound together with egg whites. When the spinach/flax mixture is combined with cooked whole grains, the mixture becomes firm enough to shape into balls. Lots of well cooked onion and garlic, plus generous seasoning give the spinach balls the flavor boost that they need in the absence of lots of butter and cheese.

With all the changes, the spinach balls are also gluten-free and dairy-free.

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No Refined Sugar Apple Cranberry Sauce

November 18, 2013

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I love cranberry sauce, but I don’t love the massive amount of sugar that goes into it. My solution was to offset the tartness of the cranberries with sweet fruits.

My first attempt involved cooking the cranberries with orange juice and a super sweet apple. The cranberry sauce was almost, but not quite sweet enough. I needed to add a small amount of sweetener to take the edge off the tartness.

For my next attempt, I used white grape juice and golden raisins. That did the trick. The apples, golden raisins and white grape juice add sweetness without changing the taste of the cranberries.

If you puree this, the texture, from the apple, becomes something between applesauce and cranberry sauce.

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Chanukah Hush Puppies

November 18, 2013

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A popular theme for Chanukah this year is “Food that is Thanksgiving-ish or Autumnal but still recognizable as Chanukah fare.” Put another way, the question is: What Thanksgiving food can be fried as latkes or sufganiyot?

I offer you hush puppies. It is fried–perfect for Chanukah. It is a traditional recipe from the American South that is a twist on cornbread, a Thanksgiving classic. Basically, hush puppies are mini latkes made from cornbread batter. Or maybe it is more accurate to say that hush puppies are to cornbread what latkes are to kugel.

Why hush puppies are not more popular (outside the South) I will never understand. They are, according to one journalist, “the best fried food in existence.” Hush puppies may be ready to have their moment, though. The New York Times just featured an article about quinoa hush puppies, as served at Market Table. I wouldn’t be shocked if the NYT quinoa hush puppies recipe makes the rounds for Chanukah.

There are a lot of stories about how Hush Puppies got their name. A popular story is that hush puppies were made from cornmeal leftover from frying fish and thrown to the dogs to quiet them.

My husband was reminiscing recently how his mother would make little latkes from matzoh meal/breadcrumbs and egg that was leftover from breading something for frying. I’ve done that, too. You don’t want to throw away the extra egg and breading, right?

That is kind of what hush puppies taste like, those little breading latkes, but there are also little bits of onion, like with potato latkes. Actually, they also kind of remind me of falafel, but cornbread flavored, of course.

Traditionally, hush puppies are served with fried fish and tartar sauce, but I am not such a fan of dipping deep-fried food into a fat-based sauce. I think the hush puppies taste nice by themselves or served with cranberry applesauce.

But serving hush puppies with a rich sauce is apparently the norm. Curious whether anyone else is serving hush puppies for Chanukah, I came across an article about Amanda Cohen chef/owner of Dirt Candy in New York City. Apparently, Dirt Candy has a super popular appetizer consisting of hush puppies with a side of maple Dijon butter. Market Table offers a spicy aioli to go with the quinoa hush puppies, which is a mayo-based sauce. If that appeals to you, follow the links to get the Maple Dijon Butter and Chili Aioli sauce recipes.

There are lots of recipes for hush puppies, but I offer you the recipe I have been making for many years, which comes right off the side of a bag of Indian Head cornmeal.

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Garlicy Cashew Green Beans or Broccoli

October 14, 2013

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There is a popular recipe for Spicy, Garlicy Cashew Chicken that appeared in the NYT.  Basically, the recipe calls for marinating and then grilling chicken in a paste of cashews, lime, jalapeno pepper, oil, garlic, soy sauce and brown sugar. I made the recipe (using boneless dark meat chicken), and the cashew paste very much reminded me of coated kale chips.

I got the idea of using the sauce to make vegetable skewers using broccoli and red pepper. I parboiled broccoli, tossed it with olive oil and salt and pepper and then coated it with the cashew paste. The broccoli was then grilled (I used a George Foreman grill). The results were fantastic. The nut mixture got crisp in spots and remained soft in spots. It added the kind of varied texture and savory intensity to the broccoli that a cheese topping usually does.

Anyway . . . . fast forward to this week. I ask my husband if he would like the cashew sauce on grilled green beans and he said “YES!” before I could even finish my sentence. This cashew sauce inspires that kind of enthusiasm.

Note: I grilled the green beans, but I think roasting the green beans would also work.

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