Sunday, December 27, 2009

Vegetable Couscous

One of the other things I like to eat while P is out of town is couscous. Again, it's simple to prepare, but more importantly, it's one of those things I don't eat often when P is here because he doesn't like Moroccan couscous. Anytime he's out of town I try to take advantage of the opportunity to load up on couscous. This is a simple meal to prepare, but also works very well when you just need a side dish (instead of a full meal, as I'm using it for). Hope you enjoy!

1/8 cup dried mushrooms (I used king oyster but you should use what you have)
1/8 cup dried rutabaga (optional)
3/4 cup boiling water
5-6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1 3/4 cups vegetable broth and reserved liquid (total; the vegetable broth should make up the difference lacking from the reserved liquid)
1/4 preserved lemon, diced
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
2 dried lime
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/3 cups couscous

Pour boiling water over mushrooms and rutabaga, then let sit for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid. Dice mushrooms. Combine reserved liquid, vegetable broth, mushrooms, rutabaga, sun-dried tomatoes, preserved lemon, corn, dried limes, salt and pepper, then bring to a boil. Add couscous, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Drizzle with olive oil if desired. Serves 1-2 for a meal, or 2-4 as a side.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

No Food Waste Friday today, since it's Christmas. I'm out of town, and there wasn't any waste before I left.

I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas and spend it sharing love and laughter with your friends and family.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mashed Potato Topping

Well, you guys may have noticed in previous posts that I eat a lot of random stuff when P is out of town and I'm on my own. One of the things I normally don't admit to eating copious amounts of when I'm by myself is potato flake mashed potatoes. I primarily because I never have fresh potatoes on hand (and I like to use canned potatoes for other things), but also I eat them because they're fast to make, can be made in single portions easily and because technically, dairy + potato = nutritionally complete meal. Sometimes I really like to top my potatoes with something (loads of mashed potatoes really can get boring sometimes), though, and today is one of those days. These toppings are convenient and easy to make, and I often make them out of scraps of produce that I need to use but simply haven't gotten around to yet. It's easily modified for whatever produce you have on hand, and of course it's great on "real" mashed potatoes as well. Hope you enjoy!

1/2 - 3/4 cup sliced onions
1/4 cup sliced celery
3 sliced cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat the pan over low-to-medium and add butter and oil. When butter is melted, double check to make sure you're not frying any butter wrapper, then add the celery, onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Fry for 5 minutes, then add the lemon and fry another 5 minutes. Serves 1.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Food Waste Friday

No picture this time either.

I lost:

2 slices havarti
1 slice toast
2 biscotti (can you imagine I let biscotti go to waste???)

Thursday, December 17, 2009


For ages, I have looked at packages of apricot paste when I go to Phoenicia with longing. Lots of longing. Ridiculous amounts of longing. Oh, how I wanted it. However, looking at a 500 gram package of what I equate with fruit roll-ups seemed maybe... not so good for the waistline. So I just looked, and occasionally touched the beautiful, bright orange packages, but never put one in my basket (which really is impressive, given the tiny amount of restraint I have when it comes to food). Then, one day, I was reading one of my favourite Syrian food blogs, Syrian Foodie in London, and I suddenly had a great excuse to buy this stuff. Kano posted a wonderful roundup of traditional Ramadan drinks, including one that contained this enticing paste. It seemed to me that drinking 300 of the 500 grams (and munching on the remaining 200) seemed okay, particularly given that I'd split it with P. Still not great for the waistline, but less damaging given that I wouldn't simply open the package and happily eat my way through the entire thing. I bought a package of the paste. It sat on my counter, and I stared at it over and over, but then an elliptical arrived at my house and I knew the time was right. So I give you Kano's recipe for this delightful drink, kamruddin. The link to Kano's blog takes you directly to the original recipe. This drink was everything I could have wanted, and more. It was sweet and tangy and floral. The only change I would make would be to make it thinner, as the thickness the original recipe has makes it more like a smoothie. I will definitely be making it again. If you see this paste, get it! Hope you enjoy!

300 grams apricot paste
500 mL water (in the future, I'll use a full litre of water)
couple spoonfuls of sugar
1 tablespoon orange blossom water

Cut the paste into one inch-ish pieces (I used a pizza cutter to do this) and put it in a container with the water and sugar. Let it soak for one hour, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a blender and blend well. Add the orange blossom water and blend briefly again. Chill in the fridge before drinking. Serves 2.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Carmelized Maple Pumpkin

I finally got around to cutting open one of the pumpkins that's hanging out in the pantry. Since then, we've enjoyed the seeds, and I made a batch of pumpkin butter to can. Yum. I still had half the pumpkin left after roasting, though, so I thought it might be good as a sweet addition to an overly savoury meal (sausage and kraut). Normally I might have mashed the pumpkin and then roasted it a second time with butter and sweetener, but I really just wanted cubes this time. Hope you enjoy!

1/2 sugar pumpkin, roasted then shelled and cut into cubes
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch each: nutmeg, ginger, salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Melt butter and sugar together with spices in a medium skillet. Add pumpkin and cook lightly, evenly coating the pumpkin with the butter mixture. Let cook long enough that the butter mixture becomes sticky and caramelized on the pumpkin. Drizzle on maple syrup and cook another minute. Serves 2.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Food Waste Friday

So close. Again. But once again, no cigar. Despite the rampage I went on to eat up all leftovers in the fridge, I discovered a lone culprit who languished for God knows how long before I discovered it, covered in mold. What I didn't do, however, was keep track of the things on the counter. You'd think that having lived in Houston almost three years I'd be used to the humidity, but sometimes I forget (as I did this week) and as a result, some baked goods were lost. Hopefully next week I can have zero waste.

My waste this week is:

2-ish ounces cream cheese
6 dinner rolls
1/3 apple-pear cake

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Fig and Walnut Biscotti

I was looking for the perfect cookie to make. Something spiced, and sweet but not too sweet. Something that you could taste and it would just make you smile. But not something I might normally label as "junk food," i.e., a treat that was a delicious dessert while still being "real food." Something I'd never had before. Something with figs. I poked around all my bookmarks, finding nothing that appealed. Then I poked around my favourite blogs (which really did take a considerable amount of time). I'm thankful I found something here, at Smitten Kitchen, because the next step was to start sorting through my hundreds of cookbooks in search for the one. I found The One. Fig and walnut biscotti.

These things are just delicious. I was actually too lazy to toast the walnuts, and they were still phenomenal. I took some of these to work so I could share (because really, who needs to eat 2 dozen cookies on their own?) and even the girl who lives on frozen pizza rolls (she is anxious to never ingest anything that could be considered real food) enjoyed them. I'm just cut and pasting the recipe directly from the link above, but I'm putting the changes I made in italics so you can decide for yourself how you want to do it. I hope you make them; they really are quite delicious!

"Makes approximately 24 biscotti

1 cup walnut pieces
1 cup dried Turkish or Calimyrna figs, quartered
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons or 3 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling (I didn't sprinkle any sugar)
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (plus another teaspoon of vanilla paste)
Grated zest of 1/2 a large orange (I used a clementine)(I used a valencia)
1 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (or 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons) unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon. ground nutmeg (I used 3/8 teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (I used 1/4 teaspoon)
1 egg white, lightly beaten (I didn't bother with this at all)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Allow the walnuts to cool completely. (I skipped this step entirely)

2. Place the walnuts and dried figs in a food processor and process until they are finely chopped. (I chopped these with a knife, making them ring-fingernail sized)

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula occasionally. Beat in the vanilla and the orange zest.

4. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Beat the dry ingredients into the butter mixture to form a somewhat firm dough. Add the walnuts and figs and beat until thoroughly combined. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic and chill 35 to 40 minutes or until completely firm. (I put it in Tupperware and left it overnight)

5. When the dough has chilled, lightly grease a baking sheet. On a floured board, use your palms to roll the piece of dough into a log the length of the baking sheet. Place the log on the baking sheet. (really, don't skimp on the flour)

6. In a small bowl, beat the egg white with a fork until frothy. With a pastry brush, glaze the log with some egg white and sprinkle it with granulated sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes (this took longer in my oven, but everything seems to these days), or until the log is lightly golden brown, firm to the touch and just beginning to crack slightly. (I didn't do the egg and sugar. Also, I heated my oven to 350F, since that's my normal biscotti temperature and a temperature was only listed for toasting the nuts)

7. Allow the log to cool on the cookie sheet until cool to the touch, about 40 minutes. With a serrated knife, slice the biscotti, slightly on the bias, into 1/2-inch slices. Lay the slices on the cookie sheet in single layer (I always end up needing a second baking sheet in this step, as they have a lot more surface area); Return the biscotti to the oven and cook for 20 more minutes, or until the biscotti are toasted and crisp.

Store the biscotti in an airtight container. They will keep up to about 2 weeks."

Monday, December 07, 2009

Chickpeas and Israeli Couscous (Risotto Style)

Is it just me, or have I been posting a lot of things that are not related to recipes recently? Food waste updates (which are important, since I'm trying to consistently eliminate food waste from my life), product reviews (which admittedly, never make me sad to post because I LOVE LOVE LOVE trying new foods), and updates on my semester.

But no recipes.

Somehow, that just doesn't sit right with me. My last exam was Thursday, since I happily have no finals to take this semester, I was left with one 5th grade class left to teach on Friday and then lots of cooking to do. I've been baking a lot, which I rarely post since I rarely make my own recipes for baked goods. Perhaps I should start posting those things as well. It's a thought. It's fall, and during fall and winter I think we all get bitten a bit by the baking bug (say that five times fast!). So I believe I'll start posting the things I'm baking, with links back to the original site I got it from.

For today, however, we are combining a craving for chick peas with a need to use up some eggplant before it went bad. Initially I'd planned to make this with rice, but then I thought Israeli couscous would be so much better with it, not to mention a good way to use some more of the couscous which has been lingering on my shelves, asking me to stop ignoring it. In addition, switching to the couscous allowed me to participate in Presto Pasta Nights, hosted with month by Kevin at Closet Cooking. I've never participated in this event before, but it seemed fun. I really enjoyed this dish and plan to make it again. It's easy to make, filling, healthy and delicious - all in all a win in my book. Hope you enjoy!

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 carrots, finely diced
1/4 finely diced red onion
1 stalk finely diced celery
4 minced cloves garlic
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup diced eggplant (peeled)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
handful kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1/2 preserved lemon, chopped
3/4 cup Israeli couscous
1 can chicken broth (or vegetable)
1 1/2 cups cooked chick peas (or one can, rinsed)

Heat a skillet and add olive oil. Once the oil is heated, add carrots, onion, celery, garlic, salt, pepper and pomegranate molasses and fry lightly, for about 5 minutes. Add eggplant, lemon juice, olives and preserved lemon and lightly fry for another 5 minutes. Remove veggies and add couscous. Toast for 1 minute, then add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously. After the third addition of broth, add veggies back in as well as the chickpeas. Finish cooking until couscous is soft and liquid is mostly absorbed. Serve with cheese. Serves 2-4.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Food Waste Friday

This week was better. We lost only 3-5 ounces of carne asada. Not perfect, but a definite improvement.

And, a recipe will be coming either tomorrow or Sunday. I'm done with all my exams now, so I actually have time to cook!