Hummus

humus (1 of 1)

Timothy van Poucke, photographer

And you are all thinking: Oh no, not another hummus recipe on a cooking blog!!!! I know, I know…..  No I am not posting this hummus recipe by default. Never mind that I have loads of papers to grade and couldn’t think of anything else to make for lunch that was quick and nutritious.  I am posting this recipe because this hummus is delicious and quickly made, has a light taste, it’s loaded with protein and makes a perfect sandwich, snack or part of a salad. Although I really like tahini in general this humus is tahiniless, since I don’t like the heaviness that it creates in this otherwise fresh summery dish. Chickpeas are creamy enough on their own, specially combined with olive oil.

Hummus

1 can of chickpeas (2 cups cooked chickpeas)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste

1/2 cup roasted pine nuts
1 tbs. cumin seeds
2 tbs. olive oil extra
1/2 chili pepper finely chopped
cilantro
black olives
paprika powder
extra olive oil

-purée the chick peas, olive oil, lemon juice, one clove of garlic chopped and salt with a hand blender until creamy, stir in the chopped black olives and some of the chopped cilantro leaves
-in a heavy frying pan heat the  2 tbs. olive oil and add the cumin, chili pepper and other piece of garlic chopped.
-stir for a couple of minutes until fragrant
-place the chickpea purée in a serving bowl and drizzle with the olive oil cumin mixture
-sprinkle the hummus generously with powdered paprika
-sprinkle the roasted pine nuts on top
-drizzle with a bit more olive oil and possibly a bit more lemon juice
-garnish with cilantro, parsley or chives (I didn’t have any today)

 

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The Cooking Angels

Sometimes one just has to let someone else do the cooking. Maybe that someone cooks so well that if one insists in doing all the cooking one would be terribly missing out on some major yumminess, or maybe the others are really good at preparing quick lunches with the ingredients that are around at moments when one has to spend hours at the computer preparing lesson plans for the impending and fast approaching school year. I will be starting a new job at a Waldorf School teaching English as a foreign language, and although I am really looking forward to it, in combination with my cooking activities it will be quite a handful. So I am very relieved to be able to count on these cooking angles with whom I share a home, to regularly lavish me with delicious wholesome treats and wonderful meals.

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Yesterday my husband made a wonderful rice dish for lunch, with fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market. He made it in such a way that the vegetables remained colourful and vibrant, but at the same time were cooked long enough to impart loads of flavour to the dish; specially the whole cherry tomatoes were a special surprise.

Farmer’s Market Veggie Rice
about 3 cups of cooked brown rice(left over is perfect)
1 or 2 onions cubed
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 large carrot cut in small pieces
1 red bell pepper cubed small
1 cup of brad beans
1 leek cut fine
about a cup of cherry tomatoes
a bunch of black olive
sea salt
pepper
paprika
2 tbs.tamari
2 tbs. mirin

-sauté the onions and garlic in a broad cooking pan with a bit of olive oil(about 2 tbs) and a pinch of salt
-add the veggies one group at the time starting with the carrots
-add the red bell peppers, the broad beans and leeks and stir a bit
-add the paprika powder and the tomatoes with a pinch of salt and cook a bit, stirring but don’t bruise the tomatoes
-add the olives and the rice, stir a bit and add the mirin and tamari
-cook at low and medium fire stirring to make it cook evenly and prevent burning
-after about 10 minutes turn off the fire and served garnished with spring

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Chocolate Banana Nutcase
210 gram mixed ground nuts (about 3 cups)
1 small cup fine polenta
1 cup cacao powder
1 3/4 cup palm sugar
2 tablespoons maca
3 tablespoons chia seeds
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 bananas well mashed
3 tablespoons coconut butter melted
1 1/2 tablespoon butter(substitute for melted coconut oil)
1/4 cup coconut milk
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoon grated ginger

-combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl
-in another bowl combine all the wet ingredients including the banana
-mix the wet and dry
-prepare an oven try by covering it with baking paper
-spread the batter evenly on the tray and bake it for about 15 minutes at 180* C

My oldest daughter Ella took care of dessert today. She is a fantastic cook and great at just whipping something up out of thin air. Ella made some seriously rhapsodic brownie like things, that made us all desperate for a second piece and in some cases a third.
I got to finish my lesson plans and have a great dinner, as well as figure out what to put in my and my 12 year old daughter Anna’s lunch lunchbox, since we both have our first school day tomorrow albeit in different roles. While others were taking care of dinner I put a dish in the oven filled with sliced zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and bell pepper, with a drizzle of olive oil and salt. I let them roast and tomorrow I will drizzle the veggies with a bit of balsamic vinegar, minced basil and some pine nuts to make delicious sandwiches.

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Seafood Spelt Pasta

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Since coming back from Italy I have been screaming about how fed up I am with pasta, but here I am again with yet another pasta recipe. This one however doesn’t use refined wheat pasta, which is what totally got to me during the holidays. Spelt is an old grain similar to wheat which fortunately hasn’t been ruined by the agricultural business. Just like wheat spelt contains gluten, but because the inherent make-up of spelt remains intact, many people who have develop intolerances for wheat can tolerate spelt. Those people don’t have celiac but have an intolerance to the product that has resulted from the agribusiness’s tampering with wheat in an attempt to creat a higher-yielding crop.
It is really too bad that wheat, a product which is such an integral part of the Western cooking tradition has been ruined to the extent that it has, and that it makes so many people very sick, sometimes without them even knowing that wheat is the culprit.

Ever since I became aware of the power of modern wheat to cause so many health problems, our family changed from wheat to spelt for most of our baking and pastas. Even though we are not completely wheat free, these changes seem to have helped us tremendously.

This pasta recipe was the result of having to make a quick early dinner for my two youngest, not seaweed loving kids, with the few ingredients I had around and no time to go to the shop. The dish has a subtle fresh fish taste, in the direction of mussels(for those of you who would consider this a plus). This may be a good way of using all that dry seaweed you have sitting around your pantry without offending anybody.

a package of spelt pasta
1 1/2 zucchini cut in medium dice
5 medium tomatoes peeled and roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper diced
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
a handful of dried hiziki
3 tbs dried instant wakame
2 tbs olive oil
a big handful of leaf parsley
2 tbs of chipotle in adobo
2 extra cloves of garlic
1 tbs olive oil extra
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

-cook the spelt pasta
-soak the hiziki and the wakame separately
-in a broad pan heat the olive oil and add the zucchini
-stir a bit and add a pinch of salt
-after 5 minutes add the red pepper and stir
-add the tomatoes and cook until the liquid begins to thicken and then add the garlic and the sea vegetables
-cook a bit longer, about 5 minutes
-in the mean time put the extra garlic, extra olive oil, chipotle and parsley in a mortar and stamp it a bit(it doesn’t need to be a paste, just enough to blend the flavors
-add pasta to the cooked veggies and give it a good stir, then add parsley mixture
-after 1 or 2 minutes turn of fire
-drizzle with balsamic vinegar
-serve

Cheezy Tofu

Eat with bread or cracker, or as filling for some veggies, or as a filling for dates, or in salads delicious mixed with seasonal tomatoes and basil!

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Among non vegetarians tofu often gets a bad wrap. I can understand why if you look at it from the perspective of the “normal” western taste. Westerners in general are not so enthusiastic about bland tastes, we like strong flavors and extremes: fat, sweet and salty. But due its modest and bland character, tofu is a very agreeable and willing to comply with the idiosyncrasies of our western taste. We can fit tofu into many different costumes and the “cheezy” costume is one that can be approached in several different ways. Why create the illusion of cheese? Well, one reason could be a desire to not eat animal products due to one or all of the many reasons out there: animal welfare, environment, allergy to dairy, avoidance of saturated fats, etc…. while at the same time having a cultural attachment to the texture, taste and feel of cheese; recognizing the need to eat foods which are not only good for us, but also fit with our traditional sense of what food means in a cultural and social context. To me part of the magic of cooking involves the fun of playing with wholesome traditional ingredients to achieve a desired taste and feeling which would make dishes fit into our own personal concept of what an enjoyable eating experience is, while maintaining personal and environmental good health.
To make dishes that excite you, you must learn to understand your characters(ingredients), and see their potential role in the drama of your cooking.Tofu may seem like a nondescript bystander, but why not see it as a white canvas, with all its possibilities?

1 package of tofu
2 tbs. olive oil
sea salt
1 tsp of miso or vitamix
1/4 pine nuts
extra olive oil

-crumble the tofu with your hands and then puree it with the hand blender
-add 2 tbs olive oil and salt and blend well
-add miso or vitamix, blend
-add the pine nuts, leaving a tbs for later
-blend again, but just for a second as to not to puree the pine nuts too much
-place mixture in a ceramic ovenproof dish, or in another oven dish
-drizzle the extra olive oil on top(about 1 tbs)
-put in the oven at 200*F for about 10 minutes, looking at it regularly so that it doesn’t burn.
-the last 2 minutes of baking sprinkle the left over pine nuts on top

Delicate Humus

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This humus is so easy and so tasty. I don’t use tahini or cumin because I like to keep it fresh tasting and those two ingredients are a bit heavier. Make this humus when you have great olive oil around!

3 cups of cooked chick peas( you can use canned)
the juice of 1 large lemon
olive oil
1/2 clove of garlic minced(or none if you prefer)
sea salt
about 1/4 to 1/2 cup roasted pine nuts
fresh cilantro
A handful of Kalamata olives without pits and chopped
paprika powder

-puree the chickpeas with the hand blender or the food processor
-add a bit of olive oil, garlic and sea salt
-add the lemon juice and blend a bit more
-stir in the pine nuts(leave some for garnish)and the olives
-add the cilantro
-garnish with the pine nuts and drizzle with extra olive oil, creating a film of oil on top of the humus.
-sprinkle with paprika powder

The Onion goes Solo

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Making onion soup is easy! It is not only easy but also rewarding in many ways. First of all onions are not expensive, and this soup uses very few ingredients, which makes it possible to make it when your pantry is almost empty. Second, there is something very basic and homey about onions, usually this lovely vegetable plays an indispensable supporting role in an infinite number of dishes, which makes it almost touching to feature it as protagonist in this story. When the onion goes “solo” people listen. The third reason for my case for the onion is the variety of tastes that it provides depending on how is it is prepared. Cutting the onion in thin half moons, and letting it cook for a long time brings about a transformation in taste and effect. How can a vegetable that is by nature sharp, that can make you cry when you fiddle around with it, turn so sweet, so agreeable and humble? Well the onion can do that given the proper script.

Onion Soup

about 2 onions per person, peeled and cut in very thin half moons
olive oil for sautéing the onions
vegetables broth or water with a bouillon cube

-in a pan with a thick bottom pan sauté the onions in the olive oil, use a low fire and stir regularly. This will take from 45 minute to an hour.
-when the onions are caramelized add the liquid. If you want a thick soup add enough water to cover the onions, if you want a thinner soup add more liquid.
-serve with pieces of toasted bread which you have toasted in the oven sprinkled with olive oil

Jane Doe

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Today I really had no time to let my cooking imagination wonder. I am involved in a series of projects which don’t have anything to do with cooking and require a lot of my time. Nevertheless the kids have to eat, and the blogger has to blog!
Yesterday while laying leisurely on the park during our picnic, I enjoyed reading bits of a fantastic book I’ve had around for a couple of years but never really bothered to read: “The Lost Art of Real Cooking“, by Ken Albala and Rosanna Nafziger. I really recommend it!

Well, the book really helped me today to cook with some dignity and confidence even though I had few ingredients and little time. If you read the book you’ll know what I mean!

The dish I am about to describe is not a miracle or a new idea, but for some reason I felt really “together” and even creative while making it, and the eaters liked it.

I am naming this dish “Jane Doe” since it’s far from unusual and bit generic if you will, but beautiful in its simplicity, and once you experience it, just as with any Jane Doe you’ll experience its uniqueness. Here it goes:

2 cups of brown rice
1 tbs. olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
3 cups of water
1 tbs of a concentrated mushroom bouillon paste(I use Vitam, Steinpilz-Hefebruhe, from the health food store), but you can substitute a bouillon cube dissolved in the 3 cups of water
1 red bell pepper finely sliced
1 large onion cut in cubes
2 cloves of garlic minced
About 200g. canned pomodori
A bunch of fresh broad beans
1 carrot chopped in small cubes
Some leftover raw spinach
Sea salt
A bit of fresh rosemary

-in a heavy iron pan sauté the rice and the garlic in the hot olive oil for several minutes, until you feel it’s beginning to toast a bit, keep stirring
-add the water and the concentrated bouillon paste or cube
-cover and let it cook for about 40 minutes at very low heat with a flame deflector, in the mean time cut your veggies
-in another pan make the “sofrito”, or sauté the onions, garlic, rosemary, pepper and other vegetables, adding the spinach at the end
-when the vegetables are done(not over cooked!), add the cooked rice and stir well
-cook for a minute and serve garnished with parsley

You see it is nothing amazing, but it was tasty and quick. And, if you read The Lost Art of Real Cooking