Sunday, January 30, 2005

Morrrocan garbanzos with olives and tomatoes

This was a fava bean recipe that we modified from our North African cookbook and changed to garbanzos. It would probably also be great with a bit of spiciness thrown in.

1 cup wild rice (uncooked)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium tomatoes
8-10 parsley sprig, minced
1 tsp turmeric
0.5 tsp black pepper
2 tsp lemon juice
2 cups green olives, pitted and chopped
rind of one lemon, grated
2 cans of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

Add rice to broth and bring to boil. Simmer for 45 minutes. While the rice is cooking, mince the garlic and parsley, juice and grate the lemon, drain the beans, and pit the olives, if applicable.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat and sauté garlic, tomatoes, parsley, turmeric, and pepper for a minute or two. Turn down the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 8-10 minutes. Add the olives and lemon rind and continue cooking for another 8-10 minutes. Finally add the beans and heat through. Serve over the rice.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Almond Butter and Honeycrisp Apple Slices

Nut butter and fruit is such a wonderful combination and this one is at the top of my list. For a slightly tart apple like honeycrisp, I prefer the mellower, sweeter almond butter over peanut butter.* Honeycrisp is an apple that we discovered this year, and have rarely bought anything else since. Each one is crisp, sweet, juicy, and tart. Not one has let me down; even when bruised they still manage to be crunchy.

*All the nut butters I eat have nothing added other than occasionally salt, so my peanut butter is not sweet.

California Pizza Kitchen

It's not haute cuisine, but it's pretty tasty for chain food, especially if you find yourself hungry and stuck in a mall. The shrimp lettuce wraps (also available in chicken) are my favorite because they are light and crisp instead of fried, but are still very filling. They come do-it-yourself style with iceberg lettuce leaves on the side to fill with the shrimp, mushroom, and green onion goodness, and top with a (non-spicy) chili-ginger sauce. I tend to avoid the crispy rice noodles; by the time they are in a wrap they lose their crispiness and therefore their appeal to me.

The lemonade, on the other hand, was much too sweet and strong to be palatable. It would probably be very refreshing mixed in equal parts with club soda.

Raspberry Lemonade


Shrimp Lettuce Wraps


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Cheddar Cheese

Grafton Village Cheese Company's five star, five year old cheddar - it's on the crumbly side and definitely pricier than your average cheddar, but, damn, is it good.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


A hot bowl of pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup, on a cold night is extremely satisfying. Pho Pasteur in Harvard Square makes a simple and tasty veggie one, and for $6 and change. They have several meated phos and plenty of non-pho options, as well as three other locations, but veggie at Harvard is good enough for me.


Monday, January 10, 2005

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Ice Cream

I have been known to be a slightly picky ice cream eater. My cardinal rule is "no vanilla-based ice cream,"* but there are a couple of other guidelines I follow:

1.Chocolate-based is the best. However, coffee, mint, and very occasionally fruit-based are acceptable for appropriate variety.
2. Fudge and caramel ribbons are delicious. Marshmallow ribbon is foul.
3. No chocolate chips, flakes, or chunks. I like my chocolate to melt in my mouth and ice cream is just too cold for it.
4. The ban on nuts has been relaxed to allow chocolate covered nuts or tolerate nuts if they are accompanied by other fillings. Absolutely no walnuts.
5. No brownies.

I also like lots of fillings, which can be hard to come by in a chocolate ice cream with no brownies, chocolate chips or nuts. Fortunately, there is a local ice cream chain, Toscaninis, that has an amazing variety of mind-blowingly delicous ice cream, and there is usually at least three flavors at any time that I love. Store brands however, ususally leave me unsatisfied. There have been fleeting glimpses of greatness, in limited edition flavors, notably Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Cherry Garcia (chocolate frozen yogurt with cherries and white chocolate chunks - so good I bent rule number 3) and Haagen Dazs' chocolate caramel (chocolate with a generous caramel ribbon).

Now there is one more: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough - chocolate peanut butter flavored ice cream, peanut butter cookie dough gobs, and fudge chips (softer than chocolate chips and therefore acceptable). It's a limited batch though, so if you want to try it, you'd better hurry. Plus, maybe if you and enough other people buy it, it won't go back to the flavor graveyard. Please don't let it die.

*I will occasionally taste a very high quality, very vanilla, vanilla ice cream, but in general vanilla is just an excuse for a lack of flavor.

Shrimp with Tomato Almond Sauce, Refried Beans, and tortillas

Both of these recipes are variations on ideas I got from a great Mexican cookbook that Terri gave Bill for Christmas a few years back. The sauce turned out to be about twice as much as we needed, so we froze half for a quick and easy dinner next week.

Tomato Almond Sauce

1 ancho or other dried chile
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
4 tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 c. vegetable stock
1/2 c. almond butter
1/3 c. creme fraiche
1/2 lime
1 lb. cooked peeled prawns
cilantro for garnish

Bring a pan of water to a boil. Remove from heat and soak dried chile in it for 30 minutes. Drain and chop, removing seeds if you want a less spicy sauce.

Saute onion and garlic until soft. Add tomatoes, chile, and cumin. Cook for 10 minutes. Add stock and transfer to food processor. Process until smooth. Return to pan over low heat and add almond butter, followed by the creme fraiche. Once thoroughly mixed, add juice of 1/2 lime. Increase heat until sauce simmers, then add shimp until warmed through.

Refried Beans

1 onion, finely chopped
1 can of refried beans
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander

Gently cook the onions over low heat until soft and carmelized, about 30-45 min. Add beans and spices. It's pretty simple, but it makes the beans taste a million times better.


This doesn't really require a recipe. You just add water to flour tortilla mix, roll out the tortillas, and cook them. But they so far surpass store-bought tortillas that I had to mention them seperately to emphasize how important it is that you give them a shot. They are really not difficult; the only obstacle can be finding the mix. Quaker makes it, and sells it at Wal-mart (!) I think. There is also a Great Value brand, which I couldn't find reference to online.

Four recipes from Chocolate and Zucchini

Chocolate and Zucchini is an excellent food blog: well written, well organized, with beautiful photography, and most importantly, with delicious recipes. Following are links to some that I have tried and loved.

Velvety Lentil Chestnut Soup

The soup turned out so well Bill declared it the best lentil soup he's ever had, and one of the best soups, period. Chestnuts were new to me and I was delighted to discover their slight sweetness. They lent an incredible richness to the soup.

-Since creme fraiche is not readily available here, I made my own. Mix 3 parts heavy cream with one part plain yogurt (you could also use sour cream or buttermilk). Let stand in a warm place overnight, until it thickens. Refrigerate. We choose to add the dollop upon serving.
-Frozen chestnuts were not available to me, either. Whole Foods had whole, peeled chestnuts in a can, which I used instead.
-Black strap molasses was my optional teaspoon of sweetness

Fig and Mozzarella Warm Sandwich

Quick and easy to prepare, this is nonetheless a combination that would never have occurred to me on my own. The buffalo mozzarella that I tried was much softer and richer than regular mozzarella. Now it's a favorite.

-Dry figs, softened by soaking in water, were substituted for fresh figs
-Cibo Naturals makes wonderful pesto. The leftovers were happily dipped into the rest of the week.

Banana Pear Pecan Crumble

Another simple and easy (seems to be a theme with C&Z), yet delicious recipe. I doubled the topping as she suggests and now only have to slice a bit of fruit to make it again.

Soft-boiled Egg, Red Pesto Bread Fingers

It's hard to believe something so tasty and fun can be ready in less than ten minutes.

-Again, Cibo Naturals makes some wonderful red pestos. Both the sun-dried tomato and the roasted red pepper are terrific.
-I don't have an egg cup, so I used a shot glass and Bill used the large end of a two-sided jigger.

Fruit Salad

Reposted from blahdiblog:

Bill and I decided to have fruit salad this morning, so we headed out to buy fruit. Of course it had snowed all night and was still coming down. Our usual stroll was covered in several inches of frozen powder and slush. Suprisingly I wasn't cold and actually kind of enjoyed the walk. It's amazing how much less you hate snow when you don't have a car and do have a landlord to shovel it for you.

We picked up our fruit and stopped at the local bakery to get bread for dinner as well. It reminded me of being in Paris where we would assemble a meal from several different specialty shops instead of getting everything at one big grocery store. Hopefully we will go back someday.

Here is the delicious recipe. Mom made it for us when she was visiting, just trowing together whatever we happened to have on hand. It was so good that we've made it several times since.

2 bananas, sliced
1 honeycrisp apple, diced
1/3 bunch grapes, halved
3/4 c. plain yogurt or kefir
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 c. pecans, chopped

That's it. Just toss it all together in a bowl and you've got instant yumminess. The creamy, sweet, crunchy combo from the yogurt, syrup, and pecans is marvelous.