Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tex-Mex Vegetarian Lentil Chili

The theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week is Lentil Love -- so here is a yummy fall dish chock full of lentils, Tex-Mex Vegetarian Chili, from Madhur Jaffrey's book World Vegetarian.  I've had this book for years and not cooked much from it, so I am really looking forward to the next six months with IHCC cooking her recipes.

Tex-Mex Vegetarian Chili
adapted from Madhur Jaffrey -- World Vegetarian

3 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped (I used roasted garlic cloves that I mashed)
1/2 large green pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped (I forgot to add this!)
1/4 to 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried crumbled sage
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup lentils, picked over and washed (I used red lentils, which cook down a lot, the recipe doesn't specify a specific lentil)
1 cup cooked dried or canned kidney beans
2 to 3 canned plum tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoons yellow cornmeal

1 1/2 cups corn (frozen or canned would work, my addition)

Put the oil in a medium pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the onion, garlic, green pepper, and jalapeno. Stir and fry for about 3 minutes or until the seasonings just start to brown. Turn down the heat to medium-low and continue to saute for another 3 minutes. Now put in the cumin, paprika, thyme, sage, oregano, and cayenne. Stir briskly once or twice and put in the lentils, 4 and 1/2 cups of water, the red kidney beans, plum tomatoes, cilantro leaves, and salt.

At this point I thought it would be nice to add some corn and used 1 can of sweet corn kernels, rinsed and drained. 

Bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat down to low, and cook gently for 50 minutes.

Mix the cornmeal with 3 tablespoons water and then pour the mixture into the chili pot. Stir to mix and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring now and then. Serves 4.


This was a hearty and delicious late weekend lunch to watch a football game with.  I served it sprinkled with shredded cheddar and with some honey corn muffins (baked in my cast iron cactus pan) on the side.  All three of my kids ate this without complaint and the most surprising part was that picky husband even ate this, liked it, and had a second bowl!  He does not do meatless very often, and I was ready to make him something different, but he gave this vegetarian lentil chili and try and actually ate it, yay :) 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Our Tuesdays with Dorie pick this week is...BAGELS!  What a fun baking project. I love bagels and have made them a few times but not in the past couple of years so this was the perfect recipe to get back in the swing of bagel making.

I split the dough in half and made five cinnamon raisin bagels, by just kneading in some raisins and a cinnamon sugar swirl before shaping.  I cut the second half of the dough into eight smaller pieces and those bagels ended up being just the right size for homemade pizza Bagel Bites.

The cinnamon raisin were a special request by picky husband...

They turned out absolutely delicious!  Picky husband and kids all loved these. The kids even helped shape a few of the plain batch and had a ton of fun making bagels with mommy.  I would use this recipe again for sure. I did boil a little less than directed, just kind of watched them until they began to float and then flipped then, I also subbed out the shortening and used butter in the dough. Lastly I lowered the baking time and temperature, they were perfectly chewy/crunchy/soft inside after about 17-20 minutes at 375.  Yum, yum! Perfect bagels, if you ask me :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Honey Corn Muffins

These Honey Corn Muffins are our second Club: BAKED pick for the month of October, thanks to Karen for hosting.  The recipe will be posted at Karen's site soon! I absolutely love cornbread and make it often, the kids and picky husband are all sweet cornbread fans. This recipe was great and produced a moist and sweet cornbread muffin. I baked these in my cast iron cactus pan and corncob pan and served them with some vegetarian chili.  I only got a couple of pictures because these were such a huge hit with the kids and picky husband and got gobbled up quite quickly :)  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Indian Cauliflower with Potatoes -- Gobi Aloo

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs the theme is Spice Bazaar.  I decided to give Madhur Jaffrey's Gobi Aloo a try from her book Flavors of India.  I'd always heard this dish called Aloo Gobi and had tried it at restaurants before but never made it myself.

I'd say this definitely fits into the theme Spice Bazaar since I got to use five spices from my spice rack, one being a spice blend.

Cauliflower with Potatoes Banquet Style -- Gobi Aloo
adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's Flavors of India

1 large cauliflower (to yeild 18 oz florets)
2-3 medium potatoes, peeled (I used two but wish I would have used three)
8 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium sized onions, finely chopped (I do not like the texture of onions and used onion powder instead)
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into very fine slices and then into very fine slivers
2 medium sized tomatoes, grated or very finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1-1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt (I forgot to add the salt and it was plenty flavorful)
1/2 teaspoon Punjabi garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground roasted cumin seeds

Break the cauliflower into medium sized florets. Cut the potatoes lengthways into halves and then cut each half leghthways to get chunky chips.

Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the potatoes and fry them until they are medium-brown and just barely cooked through. (This took about 7- 10 minutes for me) Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper towels.

Put the florets into the same oil and fry until golden brown and just barely cooked through. (This took another 7-10 minuter, I think I took mine off a little early) Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.  Remove all but 3 tablespoons of the oil from the wok or frying-pan (I did not need to remove any oil, only about 3 tbsp remained after frying the potatoes and cauliflower).

Put the onions and stir until they are light brown. Put in the ginger and continue to stir and fry until the onions are medium brown.

Add the tomatoes and keep frying until they turn soft and darker and the oil seems to separate from the sauce. Add the cayenne pepper, turmeric, coriander and salt. Stir and fry for a minute.

Put in the potatoes and florets. Stir to mix gently. Sprinkle a tablespoons of water over the vegetables (I used more like 1/4 cup). Cover. Turn the heat to low and cook gently for 3-5 minutes. Uncover. Add the garam masala and ground roasted cumin seeds. Stir gently to mix and turn off heat.

I made this one day for lunch while picky husband was at work and the kids were at school. I knew they wouldn't be too keen on trying this, but I thought it was a delicious and very flavorful dish.  When I offered the Gobi Aloo left-overs with dinner they all did not want to try it!  Go figure. I was wishing I had some coconut rice to go along with it and will definitely pair those two together next time I give Gobi Aloo a go.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Curried Peas and Mushrooms with Parathas

This post will be serving double duty!  First off I wanted to get back to doing my Random Recipes, that's where the Curried Peas and Mushrooms come in, and secondly I am excited to get cooking Madhur Jaffrey recipes with my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs, that's where the Parathas come in.

We'll start with the Parathas, they are from Madhur's cookbook Flavors of India which I have checked out from the library.  The only Madhur Jaffrey cookbook I own is World Vegetarian, and I wanted to take a peek at her other cookbooks too, so I just had to check this one out!  

Parathas -- Flaky Breads from Punjab

4 cups chapati flour or a combination of 2 cups sifted wholewheat flour and 2 cups plain (all-purpose white) flour
2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons ghee, melted, unsalted butter or vegetable oil for cooking the parathas -- I used homemade ghee

Sieve the flour into a large shallow bowl. Make a well in the center and slowly pour in about 1 and 1/4 cups water. Mix. When all the water is incorporated, knead to form a soft, pliable dough. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rest in a cool place for 45 minutes. This is the basil paratha dough.

Divide the dough into 8 equal portions and form into balls. Dust with flour.

Set a tava or large heavy frying-pan over high heat. I just used my electric griddle turned up to the highest setting (400 degrees).

Meanwhile, flatted one ball between the palms of your hands to make a disc. Put the disc on a lightly floured surface and, with a rolling pin, roll it out into a circle about 6 inches is diameter.

When the tava is hot, grease it lightly with a little ghee or the butter or oil and slap on the paratha. Cook for about 30 seconds. Flip the paratha over and cook the second side for about 30 seconds. Flip over again and brush about 1 and 1/2 teaspoon ghee over the top. Cook for 30 seconds, pressing down all over the surface with a spatula. Flip over again and brush the second side with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of the ghee. Cook for another 30 seconds, again pressing down with a spatula. Flip over a few more times, leaving the paratha to cook for about 10 seconds at a time. It should now be a nice golden-brown with a couple of dark spots. Remove and keep covered. Repeat the process with the remaining balls of dough. Keep the stack of parathas covered as you make them.  Parathas are best when they are freshly made.


The Curried Peas and Mushrooms in Yogurt is my Random Recipe #10, from the randomly plucked from the bookshelf book, Odiyan Country Cookbook -- International Vegetarian Recipes.  This book is from 1977 but I bought it sometime is the past few years, thanks to amazon. I love older books and finding hidden recipe "gems" and bought a used copy of this one, it has an ink blot on it but other than that is in decent shape for being 30+ years old. 

I actually had to make this recipe twice, the first time I followed the directions...

I even had to buy a new ingredient, black mustard seeds! I figured they would be a worthwhile purchase with I Heart Cooking Clubs new chef being Madhur Jaffrey :) 

But the first time, following the recipe was a big flop.  The yogurt curdled up and made the dish look very unappetizing, and well, just plain gross.  So I figured I'd give it another go using the spices and basic ingredients and just cooked a little differently...

Heat up 5 tablespoons ghee in pan, add mustard seeds and cook for 30 seconds until they start to pop, add in 1 and 1/2 teaspoons curry powder and 1 pound thinly sliced fresh mushrooms.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly over medium high heat.  Add in 1 and 1/2 cups frozen peas and saute for a couple of minutes until the are heated up. Turn off heat and let stand covered for 10 minutes.

Stir in 1 cup plain yogurt (I warmed it up in the microwave for about 30 seconds before adding to the peas and mushrooms) Add about 1/2 teaspoon salt, stir well, and serve with breads.

The kids had one tiny bite and did not like it, picky husband would not try it.  I thought it was pretty good but not something I'd be clamoring to make again. The yogurt flavor was very strong (probably because I used Greek yogurt), but the sweet peas and warm curry spices balanced it out nicely.  It was fun to try something new and get back into finding a Random Recipe.  The parathas were a great pairing with the curried peas and mushrooms and I thought it was a pretty yummy lunch.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cranberry Pumpkin Walnut Loaves

Jumping back into Tuesdays with Dorie with this delicious fall flavored mini bread!  You can find the recipe here at Rebecca's site, thank you for hosting, Rebecca!   I love pumpkin baked goods (and anything pumpkin, really) and this was my first pumpkin recipe of the season, now I can't wait to make some more pumpkin goodies.

I used frozen cranberries and raisins, I debated using dried cranberries which I also have in my pantry but went with the frozen ones since I have so many to use up.  They add a delightful juicy burst of tartness when you get a bite with one. I think they bread would have been a little prettier with fresh cranberries, will have to remember that for next time.  I have been baking along with TwD just not posting, so I'm looking forward to the October make up date to share the rest :) Thanks for visiting!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake

This cake was chosen for Club: BAKED as our first October recipe! I haven't baked along with Club: BAKED for a while (actually I have baked along on quite a few, just hadn't blogged about them) so this was a nice recipe to jump back in with.

Thank you to Stephanie at Ice Cream Before Dinner for picking this recipe, you can click on the link to her website for the recipe for this cake.  

I am a fan of bundt cakes and love the specialty shaped pans, but decided to go with my traditional bundt pan for this recipe because of the frosting, didn't want it to clash with the cake design.

This cake has a fun optional topping, caramel candy "shards" that you make to decorate the top with.  They really made this cake an attention grabber.  All in all, the Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake was a nice subtle dessert, it had a mellow flavor with a hint of caramel and a pound-cake like texture. The scent while baking filled the house and seemed to say "welcome to fall baking"  :)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Poblano Pepper Quesadillas with Roasted Tomato Salsa

I'm sneaking back in at I Heart Cooking Clubs for the last couple of weeks of cooking Rick Bayless recipes. I've had a ton of fun making his authentic Mexican dishes for the family and really enjoy his recipes.  When I made these "Crusty Griddle-Baked Quesadillas" I was surprised at what a huge hit they were.  I made half with the roasted poblano peppers and half plain cheese for the kids, which they appreciated since they are not yet poblano fans.  The Tomato Jalapeno sauce is so yummy, it is our new go to salsa recipe and I've made it many times. I love the short ingredient list and depth of flavor. This was a fun recipe to try with the roasting of the poblano peppers and also the homemade quesadilla dough.

Essential Simmered Tomato Jalapeno Sauce
adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen
* I usually make a half batch and only use 1 jalapeno so it is not too spicy for the kids

2 and 1/4 pounds tomatoes
3 to 4 fresh jalapeno chiles, stemmed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large white onion, thinly sliced (I use about 1/2 tsp onion powder)
1 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth

Roast the tomatoes and chiles on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until blackened on one side, about 6 minutes then flip and roast on the other side.

Cool, peel the tomatoes (I don't peel them), collecting all juices. Roughly chop the jalapenos (I don't bother to chop them). Coarsely puree the tomatoes (with their juices) and chiles in a food processor or blender.

In a medium size pot, heat the oil over medium. Add half the onion and fry, stirring often, until browned, about 8 minutes. (I just heat up the oil and add the onion powder with the tomato chile puree) Increase the heat to medium high and when very hot, add the tomato-chile puree mixture. Stir for about 5 minutes as the mixture sears and thickens, then reduce the heat to medium-low, stir in the broth and simmer about 20 minutes, until just beginning to thicken again. Taste and season with salt. Cover and keep warm.

Crusty Griddle Baked Quesadillas -- Quesadillas Asadas
adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen

For two cups essential roasted poblano rajas
1 pound 6 medium large fresh poblano chiles
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 large white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
Salt, about 1/2 teaspoon

Roast the chiles directly over a gas flame or 4 inches  below a very hot broiler until blackened on all sides, about 5 minutes for open flame, about 10 minutes for broiler.

Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand 5 minutes. Peel, pull out the stem and seed pod, then rise briefly to remove bits of skin and seeds. Slice into 1/4 inch strips.

In a medium sized skillet, heat the oil over medium to medium-high, then add the onion and cook, stirring regularly until nicely browned but still a little crunchy about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano, toss a minute longer, then stir in the chiles and just heat through. Taste and season with salt.

1 and 3/4 cups masa harina mixed with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot water
2 and 1/2 cups shredded Mexican chihuahua cheese, or other melting cheese such as brick or Monterrey Jack

Cut two squares of medium heavy plastic (I used a zip lock bag) to cover the plates of your tortilla press. If necessary, knead a few drops more water into the masa to give it the consistency of a soft cookie dough, then roll it into 12 balls. Cover with plastic.

Turn on the oven to the lowest setting. Heat a large griddle or heavy skillet over medium. (I just use my electric griddle at the highest setting). One by one use the tortillas press to press out the dough between the two sheets of plastic, peel off the top sheet, then flip the uncovered side of the tortilla onto your hand (the top of the tortilla should alight with your index finger and fingers should be slightly spread to give support.) Carefully peel off the plastic, then, with a gentle swift motion, lay the tortilla on the hot griddle. Evenly sprinkle on a portion of the cheese, leaving a 1/2 inch border all around so the cheese doesn't run out onto the griddle, then lay a portion of the rajas down the center.

When the tortilla comes free from the griddle (it will take about 20 seconds) use a spatula to fold it in half, and gently press the edges together, more or less sealing them. Move the quesadillas to the side to continue baking as you begin the next one. Continue making and folding quesadillas, letting them bake on the griddle until crispy/crunchy and nicely browned (the masa on the inside will still be a little soft), 2 or 3 minutes in all. Keep finished quesadillas warm on a rack set on a baking pan in the oven.

When all are made immediately line them up on a warm serving platter or wooden board or basket lined with colored paper or a napkin, and serve with salsa. (I also like some sour cream on the side.)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bucatini con Melanzane Spappolate -- Pasta in Chunky Eggplant Sauce

Our My Kitchen My World destination for the month of September is Italy and we are focusing on regional Italian cuisine.  I adore Italian foods and love learning more about the different regions of countries everywhere so I was very excited to give this a go.  I have a few regional Italian cookbooks and used the book, Rustico -- Regional Italian Country Cooking for this cooking questOne recipe that immediately caught my eye was Bucatini con Melanzane Spappolate from the region of Calabria, right at the toe bottom of the boot of Italy...

I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand, including two lovely eggplants that my mom brought over from her garden. This was the first time I've ever had an eggplant sauce like this, with the eggplant essentially  mashed up -- spappolate is derived from spappolare which means to crush, mash, or pulp in Italian. This ended up being a delicious lunch that I wouldn't hesitate to make again, I think the sauce would be delicious with any pasta and also wonderful with spaghetti squash, which I plan to make it with next time.

Bucatini con Melanzane Spappolate 
Bucatini in Chunky Eggplant Sauce
adapted from Rustico -- Regional Italian Country Cooking by Micol Negrin

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped (I used roasted garlic cloves, smashed)
3/4 pounds eggplant, peel on, cut into 1/4 x 1/4 x 3-inch strips
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced (I used 1 pound of canned imported San Marzano tomatoes, and forgot to chop them, just ended up mashing them in a potato masher)
1 teaspoon minced oregano
12 basil leaves, torn
1 pound bucatini (long hollow spaghetti type noodles, also called perciatelli from what I've read)
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch saute pan over a medium flame. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, then add the eggplant, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper.

Cook, stirring often, for 25 minutes, or until soft.

Crush the eggplant with a fork into a coarse puree while it is still in the pan, then add the tomatoes and oregano and cook 5 minutes more.

Stir in the basil and keep the sauce warm.

Meanwhile, bring 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add the bucatini and the remaining 2 tablespoons of salt and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. (Side note -- my pasta box said cooking time was 11 minutes for al dente, so be sure to taste test the pasta before you drain, you do not want it underdone, mine had to cook for about 12 minutes and was still plenty al dente!)  Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Toss the bucatini and sauce in a bowl.

Dilute with enough of the reserved cooking water to coat the bucatini and serve hot, dusted with the Pecorino.

If you are an eggplant / tomato / pasta fan, I bet you would enjoy this southern Italian dish too! Can't wait to browse through my cookbooks and try some more regional Italian cuisine!

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