Friday, April 29, 2005


Love cilantro? I do! This is a soup that comes from the Middle East, and apparently Muslims often break their fast with this during Ramadan. This is so incredibly flavourful, and healthy to boot. It's easy to make and the ingredients aren't hard to find.

1 each large bunch fresh cilantro and parsley
8 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup brown or green lentils
1 can (19oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cans (19oz) tomatoes, chopped (I use 1 28oz can of diced)
2 onions, chopped
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp each ground cumin, turmeric, ginger, pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil (optional)

1. Chop 1/4 cup each of the cilantro and parsley and set aside. Take the rest and tie it together with some kitchen string and stick it in a large pot. Add the stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Discard herb bundle. Add lentils and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, spices. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Puree 3 cups of the soup. Return to the pot and heat through. Stir in the lemon juice, oil (if using), and reserved chopped herbs.

Notes to the readership:
- instead of tying the herbs together, I use a piece of cheesecloth and make a bundle out of it. It works really well and is much easier to handle when it comes time to discard it. Cheesecloth is super cheap, and has a few other uses in the kitchen, too.
- I have an immersion blender, so I just use it to puree at the end. I like this a bit smoother, but puree as much or as little as you'd like - but puree at least the 3 cups because this soup shouldn't be super chunky.
- I first had Harira in a Moroccan place in Old Quebec City and I was hooked! Theirs had a bit of pasta in it, but not very much. I'm sure there are many recipes for this soup.
- if you serve this with some kind of rice, you'll get a complete protein.
- I never add the olive oil in order to keep it fat free, and I've never missed it. Don't skip the lemon juice - and squeeze it fresh, eh? - you'll regret it; it adds such a bright flavour to this.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Just realized I still had my other blog blocked off from my profile. This was because I didn't want the school I was at tracking me down. So I do have a regular blog, and now will engage in some shameless blogwhoring..........

Please feel free to visit visit my den here. A link is conveniently located on my sidebar.

Cardamom Loaf

This is a fantastic, tasty and moist loaf, perfect for a snack, with coffee or herbal tea, and amazing right out of the oven smeared with butter.

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 325F and grease/flour - line with parchment paper (you'll need a bit of grease on the sides so the paper'll stick)! - a small loaf pan (22cm x 11cm, of for my American readers 8.5 x 4.5 inches).
2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, individually, and cream some more. Add vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl, sift your dry ingredients together. Alternately stir this into the egg/butter mixture with the milk, until well-combined.
4. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a knife. Bake for 55 - 60 minutes, or until a tester inserted comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning it onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes to the readership.

- If using a glass pan, decrease the oven temperature by 25 degrees.
- Cardamom is an expensive spice. I tend to buy it in small amounts from the bulk store to keep costs down. It's a wonderful spice, though, and can be used in savoury dishes as well. The Afgan Horsemen (see sidebar under Vancouver) use it in their cooking and it's so fragrant and tasty. It's delicate and warm, so don't overpower it with stronger flavours. In baking, it's often paired with citrus because they make a great team, and the citrus helps bring out the flavour. In school, I made an orange cardamom white chocolate mousse that was excellent. Paired with orange, it would make a great addition to cheesecake, too, I think, or even creme brulee. In this recipe, it's on its own, so you'll get a real sense of its flavour and what else you can pair it with.
- I don't think I've ever baked this for the full hour or so, but I have a hotter oven. Just keep an eye on it and give it at least 45 minutes before checking on it the first time.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Farmland Flax Cookies

Originally uploaded by wanderingcoyote.

This is a great recipe, and as healthy as a cookie as you'll ever get. The flaxseeds provide, on top of Omega-3 fatty acids which we all know are so healthy, a great crunch.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup quick oats
2/3 cup flaxseeds
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat your oven to 350F. Cream your butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and cream some more. Combine flour and soda and add until well combined. Add the oats and flaxseeds and mix to combine. Drop by generous spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet, or one lined with parchment paper. Bake about 12 minutes, or until golden brown.

Notes to the readership:

1. This is a really stiff dough, so you may need to use a mixer - either the stand kind or electric hand-held variety. You can make it by hand, too, but you may need to get your actual hands in their to get everything properly combined. So make sure you're hands are clean, eh?
2. I cannot say enough about parchment paper - really, it's the best thing out there for home baking. As I've said before, you can reuse it until it falls apart, and it isn't terribly expensive. You'll save yourself so much time and effort - I promise! You cannot substitute waxed paper (unless you're making a cake and the paper will by entirely covered by batter) - it'll just smoke up your place and make your fire alarm go off.


PS. This is a purloined recipe from Canadian Living.

Profiteroles with Devonshire Clotted Cream

Originally uploaded by wanderingcoyote.

So here is a shot of the dessert I made on Saturday night. The profiteroles (choux) are filled with orange-spiked whipped cream and a Grand Marnier ganache was poured over the top. The clotted cream I piped out with a star tip on the top of each profiterole and an extra few rosettes decorate the plate. I made something similar to this my first time doing dessert for the restaurant, way back in October.

Clotted cream is amazing stuff; I sweetened this with a bit of sugar and added some Grand Marnier to it as well. The combination of orange and chocolate is divine, and cream of any consistency is an amazing addition to any dessert.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Fast and Easy Snacking Cake

This is a great, easy recipe that isn't incredibly fattening. It's versatile, as you can use either pumpkin, apple sauce, or mashed bananas. Ice with a simple buttercream icing or a cream cheese frosting.

2 eggs
1/3 cup melted butter, or vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup mashed over-ripe bananas, OR canned pumpkin puree, OR 3/4 cup smooth apple sauce
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp each ground nutmeg, allspice, and cloves

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, butter/oil (make sure the butter has cooled a bit) and sugars. With an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy - about 1 minute. Add whatever fruit you're using and blend very well. In a separate bowl, sift together your dry ingredients - flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and spices. You can omit the spices in the banana version if you don't think they work. Add the dry ingredients in two or three additions, with a wooden spoon or spatula, and stir just until all the dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Pour into a greased and floured 8" or 9" square pan. Bake 40 - 45 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Cool completely on a wire rack before icing it, slice and serve.

Notes to the readership.

1. For God's sake - don't overmix this or your cake might sink once it comes out of the oven because you've incorporated too much air.
2. Also, you can mix the dry ingredients in with the electric mixer - just be very brief about it. A) you don't want to overmix (see above) but B) you also don't want to work your flour too much. Cakes, cookies, etc. generally turn out better when you fold in the flour by hand because using an electric device tends to work the gluten in the flour too much, then you don't wind up with as tender a product in the end.
3. If you use the pumpkin, DO NOT use pumpkin pie filling! It's not pure pumpkin and contains sugars and seasonings that may or may not work here. You need to use pure pumpkin and pure pumpkin only.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Greek Pasta for One

My husband was out for dinner tonight, so I was on my own. I whipped this up on spec, using ingredients I had around for another meal. Don't get too caught up with measurements; everything should be to your taste. The flavours are strong, so tinker with this at will.

as much pasta as you want, whatever shape you want
6 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
about 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 generous tbsp oil packed sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
olive oil & pepper
crumbled feta cheese

Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain it and return it to the pot. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, just to lightly coat it so it doesn't stick together. Add the olives, parsley, sundried tomatoes and garlic. Grind pepper over the top, to taste. Toss all this together, add more olive oil if necessary, and any of the other ingredients you think you want more of. Crumbe the feta cheese over the top and serve.

Notes to the readership

- you can use other fresh herbs; chives might be nice, as would a little fresh basil. Chop well with a sharp knife.
- you could use vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, red onions, and mushrooms as well. If using spinach, keep back a few tablespoons of the cooking water from the pasta in the pot and then add the spinach; toss until wilted. If using broccoli, cut it into bitesized pieces add it to the pasta pot in the last minute or two of boiling; you just want it to be bright green so don't cook it too long. Then just pour it out with the pasta into the colander.
- roasted garlic (see a few posts down) would be awesome in this, too.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is from Regan Daley's In The Sweet Kitchen and it's a good, junky, basic recipe.

1 cup unsalted butter,at room temperature
1 cup tightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
16 oz chocolate chips, or a similar weight of good quality chocolate bar - bittersweet or semisweet - cut into chunks

1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Cream your butter and sugar until well creamed. I have a stand mixer, and if you're lucky enough to have one yourself, put on the paddle attachment and cream away for a few minutes. This is an essential step; the purpose of creaming the butter and sugar is to incorporate air, which gives you a lighter cookie. If you're doing this by hand with a wooden spoon, take the time to do it properly. The sugar should nearly be absorbed into the butter; it'll still feel grainy, but it should be homogenous.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, making sure the first egg is fully incorporated before adding the second one. Also a very important step in cookie making and baking, because you need to give the yolk time to absorb the fat of the butter. You'll get a curdled effect that you have to fix later otherwise.
3. Add the vanilla, salt, and baking soda until well combined, if using a mixer. Otherwise, sift the flour, salt and soda together, and mix until just combined. If using a mixer, still fold in the flour by hand, so it doesn't get overworked. Fold in the chocolate chips last.
4. Decide how big you want your cookies, and shape your chosen size into a knob on a greased cookie sheet, or better yet, invest in some parchment paper and line your cookie sheets with it (it's reusable; don't chuck it). With a wet hand, press the dough down a bit to flatten slightly. Make sure you have an inch or two between the cookies to allow for expansion. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes, less if you want a chewier cookie, more if you want a crisper one.

Notes to the readership:

- For one thing, I never use the whole amount of flour; usually the 3 cups is adequate
- the 16oz of chocolate is way too much for this recipe, in my experience. I've never been able to squeeze all the chocolate in. I know what you're thinking: you can't have too much chocolate! Well, yes you can. The dough will only hold a certain amount of chocolate chips/chunks before it becomes saturated and cannot take any more. Experiment. I've found just over a cup to be sufficient. I don't want to be forcing excess chocolate chips into my dough - it's ridiculous, and they just wind up falling out anyways.


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