Leeks and chickpeas soup

September 3, 2013

leeks and chickpeas soup
Today was a soup day in Vancouver. ¬†The sky was cloudy and rainy but it wasn’t dull or gray. It was quite pleasant and welcoming to hear the rain pattering against the glass window by the kitchen. All that was missing was a bowl of heartwarming soup.

This leeks and chickpeas soup that fills your heart with wonder because it’s so flavourful. It’s chock full of goodness filled with aromatic vegetables, chickpeas and some potatoes and a bundle of herbs – that’s it! It is a perfect bowl of soup if I should say so for a day like this or for when you need a little dose love, give or take.

I would recommend that you use dried chickpeas that you would have to pre-soak first but tinned chickpeas will do too. Chickpeas are also called garbanzo beans. And they are delicious to eat. I am sure you’ve had in them in their various incarnations, i.e. hummus, falafel, or chana masala?

For this recipe, you will need two pots; one big soup pot and a smaller pot. If you are using tinned chickpeas, you can make this soup in one pot but if you’re using pre-soaked chickpeas, you’ll need two. You’ll see why in a minute. read more …

Tagliatelle Two Ways: Tasty Vegetarian Ragu vs. Parmesan, Lemon and Zucchini

June 16, 2013

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I am about to share two very tasty recipe for pasta that I think you should try. They are two very polarizing sauces, one is heavy while the other is light and summery. Both are equally good and completely vegetarian. I really don’t miss the meat on these sauces at all because they are that tasty!

A couple of weeks ago, I made pink tagliatelle using beet root and I made these two sauces to go with it. The vegetarian ragu was tomato based so that kind of hid the lovely pink pasta’s colour a little. If I could do it again, I’d make a creamy meat sauce instead for pink pastas but that’s for another time. Regardless, the flavour definitely makes up for the lack of visual forethought! This vegetarian ragu recipe has been perfected by me for my vegetarian husband over the years. He loves it to bits and as a non-vegetarian myself, I think it’s a pretty decent sauce. I’m tooting my own horn here but it’s really delicious *pats self on the back* ūüôā

I think the secret lies in one particular spice called star anise. When onions are cooked with star anise, something magical happens in the chemical reaction neighbourhood. The reaction increases the umami flavour of the dish. The star anise flavour plays a very complementary role, you cannot tell that there’s star anise in there, you just go “MMmmm”!

The other sauce is a light and summery “sauce” that is perfect for a hot summer day. You will see why I put quotation marks on the word sauce in a bit. I had left over pink pasta and the green and white from the zucchini makes it a lovely dish to look at. And the lemon and parmesan lends a very refreshing tone to the dish, which makes it lovely to eat. Best part is it takes minutes to make. Honestly, pasta is the real fast food. Forget McDonalds and all that nonsense, fresh pasta takes 1-2 minutes to cook and and this dish takes about the same time to assemble.

So, let’s begin.

Before you start:
You will need a large pot for the ragu and a pan for the Parmesan, lemon and zucchini sauce | Remember to have a pot of boiling salt water ready to cook the pasta | You can add minced beef, lamb, pork or chicken into the ragu as well | You can grate the Parmesan with a regular vegetable peeler

read more …

Beets in Tagliatelle is a lovely pink!

June 9, 2013

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You know that lovely pink-coloured pasta you see in fancy grocery stores with really fancy sounding Italian name brands? They sometimes costs more than you’d like to pay for noodles and well, I’m happy to say that it’s actually something that is quite achievable at home. I had a mid-sized, organic red beet sitting in my pantry since my previous grocery shopping spree and it needed to be used because it’s actually taking up too much space! I wasn’t really in the mood for roasting it, much less eating it in a salad but I did like the idea of pureeing it into a smooth paste and converting it into tagliatelle.

This post is a recipe on how to make pink tagliatelle with beets and you can easily use this recipe to create other pasta shapes as well. But the general rule is that the thicker the pasta strands, the heavier your sauce should be. So meat sauces like vegetarian ragu would go really well with tagliatelle. And I make a mean ragu, you won’t even miss the meat! Yes, I said it, meatless ragu. And let’s see how long this post gets. Maybe I should honour my ragu with a post of its own. Let’s see.

Before you start:
Remember to cook your beets, it takes 45 minutes | You will need extra flour handy | Beets stain, so be careful | It will take some kneading to make the dough smooth, so use your bread machine or a food processor if you’d like | Make sure you cook your pasta in boiling, salted water | If you let your pasta dry out a little, it retains its vibrant colour better

read more …

Out of this World Crispy Fig, Nut and Oatmeal Cookies

May 15, 2013

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I have a cookie recipe that I’ve been unconsciously making a lot of. I am crazy about it. It is a recipe I had found from Ree Drummond, femme fatale of the Pioneer Woman blog and FN show fame. I had too much oatmeal in my pantry and was wondering what I could do with them besides making them into porridge or throw them into muffins. Her recipe for oatmeal cookies changed my life because now I don’t have large bags of oatmeal lying around in my kitchen anymore. And speaking of kitchens, P and I had¬†¬†just recently moved to Vancouver. Say what?! Yep, west coast, baby!

I love my new kitchen but it’s far from done as we’re still settling in but I can’t help but make these lovely cookies to¬†baptise the workspace¬†. These oatmeal cookies are not just great for energy, they are delicious and crispy too! Originally, Ree’s recipe called for two cups of sugar but I cut a lot of the sugar out and replaced it with other sweeteners; in this case, I used figs and dark chocolate chips. You can add anything you want in this recipe as long as you follow the base but here’s my version. Do enjoy! read more …

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Ridiculously good onion bhaji recipe

March 18, 2013

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I’m a big fan of South Asian cuisine. There was a momentous time when I was growing up in Malaysia where I ate proper Indian food for the very first time. I was captivated by the plate-less experience as a large and green banana leaf takes the place of a plate. All of a sudden, five different vegetable side dishes were generously spooned around the leaf by an Indian guy carrying a large metal container with 5 compartments. Did I tell you that these vegetables were refillable, free of charge too? Another Indian man then swoops in to deliver scoops of steamy hot rice until you say ‘when’ and then with a large ladle delivers your choice of curried gravy: fish, chicken, dhal/sambhar and then he tops it all off with some papadum. Still in awe, a small unpretentious¬†plastic plate arrives and on it, nuggets of crispy, caramelized onion fritters. It was a side of onion bhaji and it came with a sweet and spicy tamarind dipping sauce. It wasn’t an essential component to banana leaf rice, it sure was a decadent addition. I took a bite and it was crispy, sweet and spicy on top of a strong caramelized onion flavour. It was delicious!

I don’t get to eat banana leaf rice in North America. The closest I’ve gotten was a thali meal ¬†served on a metal plate, sometimes with a small square of banana leaf, and you don’t get to refill your vegetable side dishes. But I have eaten my fair share of onion bhajis around town in Montreal. And I have to say, I wasn’t very impressed with them. Most of them were just okay, all of them were over-floured. And so were my quests to make them at home. Then I found an onion bhaji recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Nation. The episode explored Gujerati cuisine in the UK. The method the Gujeratis use to make their onion bhaji floored me, it was simple and it made sense. The result was a crispy, delicious onion bhaji from my childhood and I have an alternative flour you can use if you cannot find chickpea flour.

This recipe makes approximately 30¬†ping-pong¬†ball sized onion bhaji. read more …

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