Chachouka

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Chachouka ~ adapted from River Cottage Veg

3 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1 large onion, thinly sliced in strips

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp paprika (hot smoked if you have it on hand)

a pinch of saffron strands

1 14 ounce can plum tomatoes, chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large eggs

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the cumin and onion and saute for a for about 8-10 minutes or until soft and golden in color. Add the garlic and peppers and continue to cook on low heat for around 20 minutes, stirring often, until the peppers are soft and wilted. Add in the paprika, a little salt and pepper, crumble in the saffron with your fingers, and add the tomatoes with any liquid from cutting. Cook, stirring from time to time, for about 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Taste the pepper mixture and adjust seasonings if needed then transfer to an oven-safe baking dish. Make two hollows in the pepper mixture and add an egg to each. sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for around 12 minutes depending on how you like your eggs cooked. If you like your eggs runny (the way this dish is meant to be served) then stop at around the 12 minute mark. Any longer and your eggs will be more set.

Enjoy ~

Eggplant Parmigiana

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I am trying to be present here more. I think it would be good for my well being to cook more and thus post more. Let’s see how this plan goes.

According to River Cottage Veg this is a lovely dish to make on a long rainy afternoon when you don’t have much to do. It is the first recipe in the book, perfect to start my new cooking-more adventure with. So after work on a Thursday at 7:30 pm I embarked on the eggplant parmigiana journey. It would be no problem I thought, You just layer everything and cook! Not realizing that the sliced eggplant should sit for an hour and the sauce needs to be prepped then cook for an hour and once assembled the dish itself needs to bake for an hour. Determined to see it through I didn’t take as much time as needed to let the sauce thicken and the eggplant drain but I did eat around 11 pm that night and it was worth it. Next time, though, I’m saving this for a lazy weekend day… This cooking new things after work will be learning process. 😉

Eggplant Parmigiana ~ Adapted from River Cottage Veg

4 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds)

4-5 tbsp of olive oil

2 balls of buffalo mozzarella (about 4 oz each)

finely grated parmesan cheese, or other hard cheese

For the sauce:

2 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 (14 oz cans plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped (any stems and skin removed)

1 bay leaf

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

a pinch of sugar

*I ended up only using 2 (12 oz) cans of already chopped tomatoes. Maybe the ratio to the whole ones is different. Either way it isn’t a bad thing to end up with to much home-made sauce.

Trim the eggplants and slice lengthwise (thinly). Layer the slices in a colander and sprinkle with a little salt. Leave to drain for an hour or so. (I skipped this step but I think it is a useful one if you have the time).

Make the sauce: Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute   for about 10 minutes, stirring on and off, until soft and fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their juice and the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer then simmer briskly stirring often for around 30-45 minutes. The end result should be a nice thick sauce. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar.

Rinse off the eggplant slices and pat dry. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot fry a batch of eggplant slices for about 2 minutes per side, until golden and tender. Remove and set aside. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices adding a little more oil before each batch.

Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees. In an oven proof dish (8 by 10 inches) layer a third of the eggplant slices. Cover with sauce (make sure to remove the bay leaf first). Then top with teared pieces of the mozzarella and sprinkles of the grated parmesan. Repeat this layering process until the dish is full, about 3 layers of each.

Bake for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is golden on top. Great on its own but also perfect with a large salad to make a meal.

Enjoy!

Oven-Roasted Quinoa + Spiced Apples, Carrots, & Red Onions

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Warm and nutty quinoa mixed with fresh lemon and parsley paired with roasted spiced vegetables. A lovely combination of unusual flavors, the bite of the red onion with the sweetness of the apple all tied together with a hint of cardamom. Serve as a side dish with chicken or fish.

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Oven-Roasted Quinoa + Spiced Apples, Carrots, & Red Onion

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp salt

3 medium carrots

1 medium apple

1 medium red onion

1 1/2 tbsp EVOO

i cup quinoa, rinsed

zest of 1/2 a lemon + 2 tsp lemon juice

1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl stir together the cardamom, coriander, pepper, and 3/4 tsp of the salt. Peel the carrots, slice in half length wise then into one inch pieces. Half and core the apple and slice into one-inch cubes. Half and thinly slice the red onion. In a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, add the carrots, apples, red onion and EVOO. Add the spice mixture and stir to combine.

In a 8 or 9 inch baking dish add the rinsed quinoa and spread into an even layer. Place the quinoa and the vegetables in the oven. Toast the quinoa until fragrant and golden, about 8 minutes, then pour 2 cups of water over the quinoa and loosely cover the dish with a sheet of aluminum foil. Cook the quinoa until it looks fluffy, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven, fluff with a fork, re-cover with the foil and set aside.

Meanwhile continue to roast the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until onions start to blacken around the edges and the carrots are tender. About 30 minutes total.

Transfer quinoa to a serving dish, stir in remaining 1/4 tsp salt, the lemon zest and juice, then parsley. Serve with vegetables.

* I wrote this recipe down at some point in the last two years and can’t remember where it came from.

~

Simple Lemon Pasta with Spinach + Green Olives

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Last night I went to bed with today all planned out in my head. I was making a toasted quinoa dish with indian spiced apples and veggies. As you can see that isn’t how things happened. Instead I bring you one of my go-to meals. Easy and satisfying.

Recently I started reading again.. for the first time in a long time. I have a tendency to collect books I want to read and the beautiful untouched pages couldn’t be ignored any longer. Unlike most 20-somethings out there I spend my extra cash on random kitchen gadgets, plates and bowls, french patterned spoons… and cookbooks. So almost a year after purchasing ‘My Berlin Kitchen’, by Luisa of the blog The Wednesday Chef, I cracked the book open and began to read. It ignited a passion in me, opened my eyes again to everything I want to do with myself. It is easy to forget the things you enjoy when dealing with the ups and downs of day to day life. I laughed, my heart sank and flew as I read through the chapters of Luisa’s journey, and I was swept away by the tasty recipes that I have now added to my own tremendous pile of scribbled recipes. Like Luisa and so many other wonderful f00d-loving people I want to make a real effort to finally cook all the recipes I have collected over the past 5-6 years. Everything that I took time to keep around because something about it seemed special and tantalizing.

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This pasta is light and has a summer edge from the lemon, perfect for when you need something that isn’t take-out. Fast to prepare, you can use any veggies you happen to have on hand. The olives are what brings the pasta to life.

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Simple Lemon Pasta with Spinach + Green Olives

Brown rice pasta

spinach + corn (I used frozen)

A good extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

olives (I used jalapeno stuffed green olives)

fresh lemon juice

freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta, any variety will do, according to package directions. Chop up your olives in the meantime. I tossed my frozen spinach + corn in the microwave for a second before mixing with the strained pasta. Add desired olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a decent amount of parmesan cheese to top it off.

Enjoy on a stoop or porch in the summer sun.

Green Curry Vegetable Macaroni & Cheese

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Macaroni & cheese is one of my all-time favs when it comes to comfort food. Is there anything better on a bad day then a nice big bowl of macaroni and cheese? When food supplies are low I tend to whip this up quite frequently as an easy weeknight dinner. Mixing in different spices and vegetables every time to keep it fun! Here The classic dish gets dressed up with spicy green curry paste, fresh lemon and parmesan cheese.

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Green Curry Vegetable Macaroni & Cheese

1 3/4 cup dried pasta

3 large cloves of garlic, minced

olive oil

3 medium carrots, sliced

about a tbsp of soft cheese, I used a laughing cow wedge

1 tsp green curry paste

1-2 tbsp plain yogurt or milk

frozen spinach + corn

grated parmesan cheese

squeeze of lemon

sriracha

salt

Boil pasta according to box directions, I used quinoa shell pasta. drain pasta and set aside. Add minced garlic and about a tbsp of olive oil to the same pot. cook for one minute then add the spinach, corn and carrots. Cook until the vegetables are warm. Then add pasta back to pot with the yogurt or milk, green curry paste and soft cheese. I used laughing cow, you can use any type of cheese you like. Stir till combined and add more yogurt/milk if necessary to get the right consistency. If you want your macaroni to have a little more zing then go ahead and throw in a bit more green curry paste! Once everything is well combined and hot season to taste with salt, fresh lemon juice, and sriracha (if you like it a bit spicy). Serve with a lemon wedge and grated parmesan cheese on top.

The Taste of Spring

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The first rays of sunshine have touched down in Manhattan. The weather last week may have been cold and snowy and today may be filled with rain and gloom…but you can feel the difference in the air. Spring is on its way and I can already see that picnic in the park in the not so distant future.

Believe it or not but this recipe for lentil ‘meatballs’ with Meyer lemon pesto was my first experience using the tart yet lovely Meyer lemon. Both of these recipes come from the amazing Sprouted Kitchen cook book. The blog has been a top favorite of mine for a very long time and I highly recommend their book (The photography is stunning) and trying out some of their tasty recipes. I used red lentils for they were all I had on hand and the fennel seeds in the ‘meatballs’ pair so perfectly with this warm and sunny pesto.

Cheers to the warm weather, it may not be here yet but it won’t be long ~

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Curry & Lemon Roasted Vegetables with Hummus

Welcome Fall. My first dish of the season not eaten cold. Hearty Veggies with a lemon twang and topped with a creamy goodness. YES. Welcome Fall.

Purple potatoes are a million and one times better then your average yukon gold. Their dark mysterious skin gives way to vibrant tie-dyed insides that not only taste great but up the cool-ness level of your dinner a few notches.

Curry & Lemon Roasted Vegetables with Hummus

{any vegetables you have on hand will work}
I eggplant, halved length-wise & chopped
2 medium sized potatoes, halved & chopped
3-4 large carrots, chopped
2 large leeks, halved length-wise & chopped
1 tsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp red curry paste
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp garlic powder
pinch of cumin
dash of cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper
 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place all of the chopped vegetables in a baking dish. In a small bowl whisk together all other ingredients until combined and the curry paste is completely dissolved. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix until everything is coated. Sprinkle with additional salt/pepper if desired. Roast for about an hour, until all vegetables are soft and cooked though. Eggplant may get a bit crispy around the edges.

Serve over salad, pasta, rice or as a side dish. I spooned mine over a bed of fresh spinach and topped with a generous spoonful of smokey baba ganoush (hummus is also equally delicious).

~

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Honey & Coriander Roasted Eggplant Strips & Chopped Radishes

A lovely reason to buy more summer vegetables.

A quick and easy summer side dish that welcomes creative spice pairing.

Honey & Coriander Roasted Eggplant Strips & Chopped Radishes
 
1 medium eggplant, chopped into strips
8-12 radishes, washed and quartered
2-3 garlic cloves, sliced
coconut oil
honey
coriander
salt & pepper
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet or line with parchment paper, and spread out the chopped eggplant, garlic and radishes evenly. Drizzle with coconut oil (you won’t need very much) then follow with a drizzle of honey. Season generously with coriander then salt and pepper. Toss to coat then arrange evenly on the baking sheet again. Roast in the oven for around 30 mins, times will vary. When the eggplant is cooked through with crispy edges everything is done, the radishes will remain a bit crunchy. Serve as a side dish with fish or roasted chicken and a small salad.  

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Fairy Tale Eggplant Pasta with Wilted Arugula & Basil

Is there a better name for a vegetable? For me, no. For others, probably. But when I saw fairy tale eggplant for the first time last weekend at the farmers market I immediately felt enchantment in the air. I waited for a moment to see if a unicorn would poke its head around the corner of the tent…..just a moment… Apart from their adorable miniature size fairy tale eggplant do not differ too much from your average eggplant. Wanting a refreshing summer dish, I found pasta the best way to go. Sautéing the eggplants with garlic and lots of spring onions. A touch of lemon zest over thin pasta noodles with lots of fresh arugula and basil and finished with a drizzle of cool olive oil.

Fairy Tale Eggplant Pasta with Wilted Arugula & Basil:
10-15 fairy tale eggplant
2-4 servings of pasta (I used pasta made with corn flour, any variety will work)
coconut oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
chopped spring (green) onion, enough to equal 2 large handfuls
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
a pinch of chili flakes
fresh arugula
fresh basil
1 large tomato
olive oil
salt and pepper
 
Coat a medium-large skillet with coconut oil and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the spring onions and chopped fairy tale eggplant and cook until the eggplants are soft and tender. Roughly 15-20 minutes, stir occasionally, they will loose their bright purple color. Stir in the lemon zest and pinch of chili flakes while the eggplants are cooking. While this is going on cook your pasta. When both are done turn off the heat. Toss the arugula in with the eggplant for a minute until wilted, add the pasta and toss everything together lightly. Transfer to a large bowl. Top with lots of fresh basil, chopped tomato, and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and the lemon juice to taste. Serve with a light salad and a lemon wedge.