Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Moroccan Vegetable Ragout

This recipe is taken from The Best of Fine Cooking's Soups and Stews 2013. Meatless and full of good flavour, it was easy to make and came together in about 40 minutes. It would be great served over couscous or quinoa. 

Moroccan Vegetable Ragout

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced 
1 3-4 inch cinnamon stick
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes
1 14-16 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I used 1/2 can and froze the remainder)
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
1/2 cup pitted green Greek or Italian olives (I used Kalamata olives)
6 Tablespoons orange juice, preferably fresh
1 1/2 teaspoons honey (I used 1 Tablespoon)
2 cups lightly packed, very coarsely chopped kale leaves (I used frozen chopped spinach, about 1/2 cup)
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Add the cumin and cinnamon stick, stirring all the while until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sweet potatoes, chickpeas, tomatoes and their juice, olives, orange juice, and honey. Add 1 cup water (or chicken broth). Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are barely tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the kale. Cover and continue cooking until wilted and softened, about another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Applesauce Muffins

Applesauce is great on its own or with some yogurt, perhaps on pancakes. I was looking for a way to use up some of my home-canned applesauce and found this recipe on Epicurious. I adapted it and was very pleased with the result. Tender, buttery, a hint of cinnamon warmth, and a bit of sweetness on top. Perfect for breakfast or a snack, with tea or coffee.

Applesauce Muffins (makes 12 medium muffins)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated, if possible)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup melted butter
Optional: 1/2 cup chopped pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts, or 1/2 cup plumped raisins

Cinnamon sugar for topping (2 Tablespoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon)

Grease a muffin tin, or line with paper liners. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In large bowl, combine whole wheat flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir well, breaking up any lumps in the sugar. 

In medium bowl, lightly beat eggs until whites and yolks are combined. Add applesauce and melted butter. Stir well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Add optional ingredients, if desired. Stir until just combined. Do not over-mix. Spoon into the muffin tins. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake until set and browned on top, 18 - 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. But do eat them warm - delicious!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Copycat Green Beans

When I eat in a restaurant, I like to try new dishes - things I've never tasted before, or new ways of preparing an old favourite. During our California vacation last week, we ate at The Chart House restaurant in Carlsbad. Our table overlooked the water, which was lit by spotlights that drew fish close to shore, and gulls, since the fishing was so good. White crested waves with white gulls above made for a beautiful sight, although Tim pointed out that the lights were not very fair to the fish.

I enjoyed a piece of macadamia-nut encrusted mahi, served with a peanut sauce and a mango salsa. It was good, although I thought the combination of nuts wasn't the best. The macadamia flavour was overwhelmed by the peanut sauce. What I really enjoyed were the Asian Green Beans. Blistered skins, still a bit crunchy, with a sweet and salty sauce that made the prosaic green bean into something irresistible.

Tonight I tried my own version of the recipe and I'm fairly pleased with the result. 

Copycat Green Beans

1 pound of fresh green beans, stem ends trimmed, washed
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Siracha sauce (or another chili sauce), optional
1 teaspoon honey (or more to taste)
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

In a small skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil to medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for about 1 minute, until fragrant, but not browned. Turn off the heat and add the soy sauce, honey and Siracha chili sauce. Stir to combine. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining Tablespoon of oil to medium high. Add the green beans. Cook, tossing every 30 seconds or so, for about 7 minutes, or until crisp tender. Watch carefully so the beans do not burn, but they may char a little. Pour over the soy sauce mixture and toss to heat. Place on serving dish and sprinkle sesame seeds over.