Korean-style Poached Eggs

Korean-style Poached Eggs

These very simple and quick little eggs are elegant on the plate and taste just as wonderful. They would make a marvelous light lunch with a small green salad, but I must admit that I had them for breakfast the other day with toast and an orange.

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Pine Nut and Orange Wild Rice

Pine Nut and Orange Wild Rice

Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while will undoubtedly have come across at one time or another one of my recommendations for Yamuna Devi's cookbooks, in particular her hefty compilation of authentic and extraordinary Indian vegetarian recipes in Lord Krishna's Cuisine — a timeless cooking classic if there ever was one. I'll always be devoted to that book more than any other for awakening a genuine love for delicious and quality food, but I'm fortunate to own a copy of a later book — Yamuna's Table — in which she departs from traditional Indian fare but uses that knowledge to come up with some astonishingly creative and tasty modern dishes that are in many cases the equal of the old classics.

One of these is this exquisite pine nut and wild rice pilaf tinged with just the right amount of orange for a light, refreshing and flavorful summer side dish. Serve on a patio, at a picnic, or just at home — everyone will love it. I reproduce the recipe almost exactly as found in the book, partly because it's too good to change in any way except possibly to add a few more pine nuts or jalapeños as your taste goes, but also because the book appears unfortunately to be out of print. But there are usually a few used copies lying around for the lucky ones.

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Spicy Chickpea and Potato Curry


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Spicy Chickpea and Potato Curry

I look forward to entertaining a special friend with my culinary creations next week, but in the meantime I cook just for me. How selfish is that when I have willing neighbors and friends eager to taste my food? Alas, I'm just not as motivated to fuss around in the kitchen during the summer months, opting instead to escape into the backyard with a book if possible.

Tonight's solution to solo dining was a simple chickpea curry served along with some plain basmati rice sprinkled with some tamari sauce. This is a dry curry and served with some cold yogurt, could almost pass as a salad. It proved to be a very refreshing summertime menu choice.

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Chickpea Flour Pancakes (Pudla) with Crushed Peas, Ginger, Chilies and Cilantro


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Chickpea Flour Pancakes (Pudla) with Crushed Peas, Ginger, Chilies and Cilantro

The beautifully haunting solo cello suites of Bach simultaneously soothe and disturb. The perfection of the compositions is utterly satisfying and yet a yearning is nonetheless experienced. True, I am playing the role of hermit more intensely these past few days since my husband left for a two week work-related trip, but for brooding types such as I, Bach is often an occasion for reflection.

Consider the act of nourishment that paradoxically can become more complicated when you suddenly find yourself alone. As much as I like to cook, there is less incentive involved when the diner is just me, the cook. Not that I don't enjoy the fruits of my labors, but I don't relish the idea of eating the same dish for more than 3 days, yet cutting corners with bread and cheese and simple egg dishes quickly loses its appeal. Still, there is a certain satisfaction in indulging in whatever you wish, without witnesses, no matter the time of day or method of execution.

Chickpea Flour Pancakes (Pudla) with Crushed Peas, Ginger, Chilies and Cilantro

Craving a more nourishing meal, and determined to cook something other than eggs, I was reminded of these gluten free and dairy-free chickpea flour pancakes (pudla) that Lucy made after consulting her copy of Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. I've owned a copy of this cookbook for years, and although I vaguely recalled seeing the recipe, somehow I hastily scanned over it. My loss, until now.

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Mor Kali (Savory Fried Rice Flour and Buttermilk Porridge)


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Mor Kali (Savory Rice Flour and Buttermilk Porridge)

No, this is not a photo of a plate of mashed potatoes, although the texture of the dish is quite similar to fried mashed potatoes. What you are seeing is my attempt to make a popular south Indian savory breakfast porridge called "Mor Kali". Usually a kadai is used to cook this dish, but I used a wok, which is similarly shaped. I didn't manage to produce the thick brown crust I was hoping for, but the result was a fragrant treat that I enjoyed for dinner with a bowl of yellow split pea soup.

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No Croutons Required - The Roundup

July's edition of No Croutons Required is now complete. Check out all of the tempting herb creations and vote for your favorite.

I will be the host for August. Check back at the beginning of August for the theme and the winner for July.

Mixed Greens with Warm Goat Cheese and Pesto on Toast

Mixed Greens with Warm Goat Cheese and Pesto on Toast

An old friend of mine is soon to embark on a journey a great geographic distance away from me. Always an enthusiastic and appreciative dinner guest, most importantly a highly creative and rational influence and loyal friend, I selfishly regret that Mike will be escaping the city walls of London, Ontario.

Virtually we will remain connected, and I'll mail him non-perishables.

Lest it sound like I am writing a eulogy, I am reminded of valuable friendships I have forged that would not have occurred without the internet. I immediately think of my Scottish friend Holler, who kindly surprised me with a cookbook that this recipe was inspired by.

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Mung Tamarind Dal


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Mung Tamarind Dal

Contrary to some people's expectations, nothing beats the summer heat like a spicy hot dal from south India — where they ought to know about beating heat, after all. But if the idea of plenty of fresh and dried hot chillies makes you sweat a little, tamarind infuses this refreshingly light and fragrant dal with a sour and sweet tang that pushes the heat to almost a pleasant undertone. Wonderful for lunch or a small dinner with a plate of hot rice to spoon a little of the colorful dal liquid over top.

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Feta, Olive, and Sun-Dried Tomato Scones

Feta, Olive, and Sun-Dried Tomato Scones

It might seem strange that I would choose a recipe from Delia Smith's Winter Collection when it's close to 30 degrees during the day here, but once you try these savory scones you will understand why I just couldn't resist. Containing as they do some of my very favorite ingredients, these cheesy little treats are a comfort food anytime of year as far as I am concerned. Besides, the air conditioning has finally been turned on, which is a reason to celebrate as a heat wave is in the forecast, they don't take too long to prepare, and they are in the oven for a short time. Serve with a soup and salad for lunch or light dinner, or simply enjoy as a satisfying snack.

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Spicy Azuki Bean Risotto

Spicy Azuki Bean Risotto

Just at those moments when cooking begins to feel like a recycling scheme for old ideas, new ideas crop up in the least likely of grounds. Looking for a dinner idea through my bulging folder of recipes printed off from other food blogs I was struck for no apparent reason by the copy I had made of Gattina's sweet risotto with azuki inspired by her mother's Asian red bean dessert. Despite telling myself that the last thing I needed was another dessert idea when I was really just looking for something to make for dinner, I found I couldn't keep it out of my head…

…which is when it came to me to substitute the sweetness for the savory. I adore risottos, but until seeing a sweet risotto it had never occurred to me — me, who loves fiery flavors! — to make a spicy risotto. What I've been missing! Keeping with the oriental theme of Gattina's recipe it was a matter of just a little thought to scribble in my favorite Asian flavors — tamari, sesame, scallions and peppers — for an untraditional but warm, zesty and filling fusion of cuisines that didn't last long on anyone's plate. Gattina's lovely-looking dessert risotto is still on the radar for another day, but in the meantime I'm delighted with the off-the-wall inspiration the recipe provided.

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Chinese-Style Sautéed Azuki and Mung Beans

Chinese-Style Sautéed Azuki and Mung Beans

We are in the grip of a heat wave here in Ontario, and as my appetite decreases, so too does my desire to cook. Besides, it was only just today that our landlords downstairs decided to turn on the air conditioning, and though I reside in an airy apartment, the humidity still results in an uncomfortably hot environment.

Eating well is important to me though. Even when I don't feel like cooking, I do it anyway, as I don't eat prepackaged food and I don't like to eat out very often. Tonight I made a simple Chinese dish from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian that I have been meaning to try for a good long while. The beans are cooked and flavored separately, providing a slight but enjoyable contrast. Ms. Jaffrey suggests serving this dish with rice, with vegetables, or with some bread. She also recommends scooping the beans into a pita pocket, along with some tomatoes, and lettuce for a satisfying lunch or light dinner. I was pleased with the end result, as the earthy flavor of the beans was nicely enhanced by the modest seasonings.

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Brown Lentils and Rice with Roasted Onions and Spicy Baked Tortilla Chips

Brown Lentils and Rice with Roasted Onions and Spicy Baked Tortilla Chips

If I ever appear to be making fun of vegans, let me reassure my vegan friends and readers that it is only in the same gentle and slightly perplexed spirit with which my carnivore friends tease me. I'm not all about the eggs and cheese, you see, and I'm never one to complain about a good vegan meal, as much as my meat-eating friends enjoy my own vegetarian cooking.

But I must say that after picking up a copy of Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero for its wide assortment of unique and appealing vegan recipes, the first recipe I tried out turned to be so full of glaring errors and omissions that my first thought was that the authors weren't getting enough nutrients to the brain. Ah well, there's no missing or duplicated steps or ingredients that a little imagination and innovation can't take care of, and this simple and satisfying lentil and rice dish with sweet roasted onions turned out to be a real delight for lunch, even if it required a substantial re-write.

The added bonus for me was the suggestion of serving it with spiced pita crisps, which I did not discover until after having already decided to make it. What a glorious coincidence that I still happened to have plenty of my spicy baked tortilla chips left over from the day before, turning an already tasty rice-and-lentil lunch into an incredible combination of flavors and textures. Do try making both.

Brown Lentils and Rice with Roasted Onions and Spicy Baked Tortilla Chips Brown Lentils and Rice with Roasted Onions and Spicy Baked Tortilla Chips
Recipe by
Adapted from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
Published on July 10, 2008

A simple and earthy seasoned rice and lentil dish with roasted onions — a great side dish or light lunch

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Ingredients:
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 2 lbs (900 g) yellow onions, sliced into thin rings
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 3-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 2 dried whole red chilies
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
Instructions:
  • Rinse the rice and lentils separately under cold running water. Soak the lentils under cold water in a bowl and let the rice air dry in a fine-meshed strainer.

  • Preheat an oven to 400°. Separate the onion rings into a large baking pan and toss with the olive oil. Roast in the oven, stirring frequently, until the onions are a deep brown. It is quite alright to let some of the smaller rings blacken at the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside.

  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Toss in the rice along with the cinnamon stick, red chilies, and ground cloves. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes without disturbing.

  • Drain the lentils and add to the rice along with the allspice and cumin. Stir in gently. Cover again and continue to cook at low heat until the lentils are cooked and the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.

  • Remove the cinnamon stick and chilies. Fluff the lentils and rice with a fork and fold in the onion rings with their roasting oil.

  • Serve warm or at room temperature with spicy baked tortilla chips placed around the edge of the plates.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Brown Lentils and Rice with Roasted Onions and Spicy Baked Tortilla Chips

Shahi Paneer (Butter Paneer Masala)


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Shahi Paneer (Butter Paneer Masala)

I have been craving a substantial dinner lately despite the hot and humid weather we are currently experiencing in Ontario. Having a taste for something spicy and Indian, I could resist the block of paneer cheese in the refrigerator no longer and transformed it into one of my favorite classic paneer dishes, paneer butter masala or "shahi paneer". Punjabi in origin, tender lightly fried paneer cheese cubes are smothered in a rich spicy tomato, butter and cream gravy. A staple on the menu at most Indian restaurants, along with mattar paneer, this is very easy to prepare at home.

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Creamy Sesame Miso Salad Dressing

Creamy Sesame Miso Salad Dressing

Simultaneous cravings for a thick and creamy salad dressing and for the nutty and warming taste of toasted sesame led me to come up with this Asian-style miso and tahini sauce for a huge carton of mixed field greens I had on hand. It turned out to be better than I could have hoped for, and it's almost substantial enough to make a light meal out of by itself on a hot summer day. This would make a great dip for fresh cut vegetables like broccoli or peppers or for whole pea pods as well.


Creamy sesame miso salad dressing Creamy Sesame Miso Salad Dressing
Recipe by
Cuisine: Asian
Published on July 7, 2008

A creamy and slightly spicy Asian-style miso and tahini dressing with sesame seeds and sesame seed oil

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Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup spring water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup miso
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 green onions, sliced, both green and white parts
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 4 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
Instructions:
  • Put together the water, rice vinegar, miso and tahini in a mixing bowl and let the miso and tahini soak in liquid for a while to soften up. Mix together well, then stir in the green onions, ginger, sugar, cayenne, and sesame oils.

  • Toast the sesame seeds over low heat, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Spoon the dressing over your favourite salad green mix and sprinkle over some of the toasted sesame seeds.

  • Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Makes 1 1/2 cups or enough for a pound of salad greens

Creamy Sesame Miso Salad Dressing

Baked Strawberry Ricotta French Toast

Baked Strawberry Ricotta French Toast

If the reaction to the baked strawberry pancakes I posted last week is any indication, there's a blossoming passion for strawberries these days at least in those regions where the fresh local berries are just hitting the seasonal market. I know that I myself won't be without a pint or two around for the next month or so, so it seems like a good idea to share some other ideas for those extra strawberries that don't go straight into the bowl for snacking.

For that reason, I do hope that you try these baked French toast slices stuffed with creamy ricotta and loads of fresh strawberries for a remarkably easy but extraordinary breakfast, made even simpler by preparing them the night before for baking the next morning. If you're not sure you're hungry first thing, the heavenly fragrance of strawberries baking that wafts through the kitchen will definitely have you anxious for their arrival on the breakfast plate.

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Spiced Yogurt with Chickpeas and Tomatoes


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Spiced Yogurt with Chickpeas and Tomatoes

One of the many delights of Madhur Jaffrey's ethnic cookbooks apart from the astonishing variety of foods and tastes is the simplicity of so many of her recipes. This cooling and refreshing dish adapted only slightly from her World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking is no exception to any of these rules, and is a perfect light patio lunch for warm weather on its own or a nice counterpoint to a spicy meal, such as when I served it with a very hot spiced urad dal rice. Even if not for the pleasing taste, the aroma of dry roasted ground cumin — which I substituted for whole seeds — is worth the very small effort of putting this together.

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Cherry Clafouti (Baked Cherry Pudding)

Cherry Clafouti (Baked Cherry Pudding)

My first attempt at clafouti, a French custardy delicacy, was savory. I danced with the season this time around and transformed some plump cherries into a naturally sweet indulgence. Yes, sugar is included in the mix, but the true sweetness is courtesy of the fresh cherries.

A cross between a pudding and a cake, I was rather surprised to learn that traditionally this dish is made with unpitted cherries. Apparently, leaving the pits in preserves the shape and juices of the fruit and also the pits are said to contribute an almond-like flavor. Well, I'm known to be a purist in the kitchen at times, but somehow the idea of a mouth full of cherry pits didn't appeal to me. Though pitting cherries is not my favorite kitchen task, even armed with a cherry pitter, I went against tradition in this instance. I was not disappointed in the result in the least. Add a few drops of almond extract if desired, or be bold by sticking to the original recipe and taking smaller bites.

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Fried Halloumi Saganaki and Asparagus

Fried Halloumi Saganaki and Asparagus

Looking at the fresh local asparagus in the market this past weekend I was reminded that the end of the season must soon be at hand and with it my annual mad dash to incorporate asparagus into my recipes again after almost taking its availability for granted in just a little over a month.

For those of you who have contributed to Holler's and my No Croutons Required food roundups, your wonderful suggestions have not gone unappreciated … this little lunchtime saganaki and asparagus plate is directly inspired both by the season and by the success of my recent saganaki with Greek tomato salad. Add on the fact that it was less than fifteen minutes between pulling the ingredients out of the refrigerator and putting the finished product on plates, and there's no question that this is now one of my favorite early summer salads.

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