Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Leblebi are the Turkish snack of spiced, roasted chick peas (garbanzo beans). I had made some beans the other day to make hummus but then decided that since I feel too lazy to make more flat bread (I think there's only one loaf I tucked away in the freezer, and that's just not enough). So I went with this instead. Please feel free to use canned beans if you like. It makes it more convenient for those who don't love cooking their own beans. Enjoy!

2 cups cooked chick peas (drain and rinse if canned)
spice mixture*
2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to 450F. Blot peas, then toss with oil and spices. Spread over a baking sheet and roast for 15-30 minutes or until dry and crispy and delicious.

Spice Mixture:

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon aleppo pepper
1 tablespoon sumac

Grind together in mortar and pestle or spice grinder (coffee grinder; whatever you use).

*There are a lot of different options for how to spice these little guys, so play around with it and find a combination that you like best!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Latkes (Potato Pancakes)

I remember these always having carrots grated into them when I was a kid, but today I didn't want them that way. I wanted it to mainly scream of potato and olive oil. And that's what they did. Happy Chanukah guys.

1 1/2 pounds peeled, scrubbed and grated potato
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sumac
1/2 cup bread crumbs (or matzo meal)
2 eggs
1/2 cup or so olive oil

Mix everything except the oil together. Heat the oil in the pan until water dances on it. Scoop out large handfuls of the potato mixture and squeeze it to remove as much of the starchy liquid as you can. Drop each handful into the oil and press it with a spatula to flatten it out (I use a 10" pan and do 2 at a time). Fry until the bottom is golden, then flip over and fry until the other side is golden. Serve with sour cream and apple sauce. Serves 2 (makes 6).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sweet Potato and Rosemary Penne

Sorry to have been absent so long. Between a pile of pears I've been canning, a touch of nausea and several botched meals (bad kitchen juju these days!), I've had nothing to say, really. But tonight I did not fail in the kitchen, and that makes me smile. I hope you enjoy it!

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 onion, diced
salt to taste
8 ounces penne, cooked according to package directions
1-1 1/2 cups white beans, cooked with a sprig of rosemary (if using canned, ignore the rosemary sprig, of course)
2 cups finely grated parmesan
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Infuse the rosemary in the oil over very low heat for 15 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes (and season it) and increase the heat to medium low. Cook for 15-20 minutes, then add the onions (season again) and cook another 15-20 minutes (until the sweet potato is cooked through). Add the beans and penne and toss lightly, then stir in the lemon and parmesan and heat through. Serves 2.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Eggplant, Lentil and Chick Pea Stew

I had this huge eggplant calling to me, saying, "Eat me before I go bad!" and I didn't really have any specific sort of anything I wanted to do with it. I do like stew, though, so I decided to make another winter-type stew that would keep me full all evening while I finish preparing for my last final. Hope you enjoy!

1 globe eggplant, peeled and cut into 1" cubes ($1)
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes ($0.50)
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce ($0.20)
4 cups chicken broth (free, I made it)
1/4 teaspoon each: ground cinnamon, ground mace, aleppo pepper, tumeric (~$0.20)
1/2 teaspoon each: ground coriander seed, salt ($0.10)
1 teaspoon each: ground black pepper, pomegranate molasses, crushed omani (if you don't have the omani, you can sub dried lemon peel. I don't know a sub for the molasses, so just leave it out) ($0.30)
1 cup-ish (it might've been a little more) cooked chick peas ($0.10)

1/2 pound beef sausage, cooked ($3.00)
1/3 cup puy lentils ($0.15)

1 cup rice ($0.10)
1 teaspoon salt (penny)
2 teaspoons dill weed ($0.02)
1 3/4 cups water

Combine the first group of ingredients in a large saucepan. Cover and set to medium heat. Cook for about an hour. Add in the lentils and sausage and cook another half hour or until lentils are done. During the last part of the stew cooking, combine the last group of ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover with a paper towel and then lid and drop the heat to low. Cook 10-15 minutes, then turn off the heat and let sit, covered, for at least 15 more minutes (or until stew is done, which is what I do). Serves 4.

Total cost: $5.68 (with sausage); $2.68 (without sausage)
Per serving: $1.42 (with); $0.67 (without)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Crabapple Jelly

I found some crabapples at the store, and while really they were a bit more expensive than I'd like (particularly since I remember the trees overloaded with fruit as a kid that we could've picked since no one wanted it), at $2.99/pound, but that is still a lot cheaper than you can buy crabapple jelly for. So I got a couple pounds. I looked at yet another billion different recipes, and pretty much everyone seems to make it the same way. I added a bit more lemon than people seem to like (and I might not've used the normal amount of sugar, since I kind of lost track of what I put in. I was thinking about the meat sauce that was cooking so I got distracted), but I'm obsessed with lemon. It's reasonably simple to make, though I really do need to invest in a jar lifter so I can stop turning water bath canning into a terrifying experience.

2 pounds crabapples
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
6-7 cups water
4 cups sugar, approximately

Wash the apples and pull off their stems. Toss in a saucepan and add lemon juice and water. Bring it to a boil and then turn down the heat a bit. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the apples make your entire house smell edible, and they mash easily when you push a wooden spoon against them. Strain them. You should have about 4 cups of liquid. Clean out your saucepan and put the juice back in there. Add about 4 cups of sugar (volumetrically, you want to use as much sugar as you have juice). Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Boil it until it hits 220F while stirring constantly. Pour into sterilised jars and process. I did mine in the water bath for 15 minutes, but I think the Ball book says 10. I was just busy, so I gave it longer. Mine made 4 half pints. Theoretically it would've made more jars, but I had a little issue the first time with it not setting so I had to redo it and it condensed it slightly more than I think this normally makes.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Hearty Winter Soup

I was looking for something to really fill me up, and keep me that way. Rustic soups and stews are my favourite for this. Since it's "cold" now (ok... it's not as cold for us as it is for many of you, but it's all about what you're used to), all the better. Also in the job description was something that could cook itself while I was at school. This is really perfect for a slow cooker. I did this in 3 steps, but if you are going to be at work all day it will work equally well using just two steps. If you have leftover turkey, use that instead. It'd be a fine substitute for chicken. Hope you enjoy!

1 onion, cut into large chunks
2 carrots cut into 1" pieces
1 cup wheat berries (I pre-soaked mine but you can just dump them in unsoaked and it'll be fine)
1 tomato cut into large chunks (or a small can of tomatoes)
1/2 bulb garlic, peeled and cloves left whole
5 cups chicken broth (homemade is ideal)
1 large raw boneless and skinless chicken breast (mine was still frozen when I put it in), ~8 ounces

1 slice dried galangal (if you don't have this, go ahead and use ginger. If you can find it, however, its flavour is better for this)
1 dried chile arbol
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon each: cider vinegar, pomegranate molasses
1/4 preserved lemon, cut into little bits
1 cup cooked appaloosa beans (sub: any kind of bean you like)
2 celery stalks cut into 1" chunks

3 cups shredded cabbage

Combine group one in a saucepan or slow cooker. Cook about two hours. Remove the chicken, cut it up and put back in the soup. Add group two (I put the anise, chile and galangal in a big tea ball for easy removal); cook another couple hours. Add the cabbage 30 minutes before you want to eat. Alternately, put all but cabbage in your soup pot and let it hang out. Add in the cabbage 30 minutes before you want to eat. Serves 4.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Pear Preserves and Jelly

P is a little persnickety about his pear preserves. Most people spice them and he doesn't like that so I decided to make my own (okay... more truthfully I decided to make my own because the one he likes is expensive and he's almost out again). I did not use pectin (I don't know why I didn't, since I actually bought some), though you certainly may adjust the recipe for it. Pears are on sale here in Houston for 4/1.19, which is quite a lot cheaper than the $6.25/10.5 ounce jar we spend on the type he normally prefers.

9 cups pear, peeled, cored and sliced (2.38)
42.15 ounces (1200 grams) granulated sugar (1.04)
3/4 lemon, sliced super thin, then cut into quarters (19 cents)

Combine the pears and sugar, then refrigerate overnight (ideally. Otherwise, if you're forgetful like me, refrigerate for 24 hours). Stir and add lemon, then slowly cook until it reaches 220F (some people say to do this at a simmer for a couple hours; I just cooked it over low heat until it reached 220 on my candy thermometer and the pears were relatively transluscent). This took for-freaking-ever, because I was studying for a test and as a result, I had the heat much lower than I normally might have. I wound up with significantly more syrup than I expected (likely a bi-product of having let it sit for 24 hours instead of 8-ish), so I spooned the pear and lemon bits into the jars and then poured some syrup over them. This left a lot of remaining syrup (4 jars worth). I packed them into jars too, but when I should have done, and what I know you will do, is reheat it until it's a full 220F again. Then pack into jars. I left 1/2" headspace and processed in a water bath for 10 minutes.

The preserves set beautifully. 3 half-pints worth. The jelly doesn't look like it's going to set, although it appears to be similar to one of those runnier jellies instead of one of the loose syrups. Either way, I'm keeping it on hand for pancakes instead of trying to set it again. I got 4 half-pints of that.

Total cost: $3.48 (I do not count jar costs, since they get used over and over)
Per jar: $0.50