Stuffed Mushrooms with Goat Cheese

Stuffed Mushrooms with Goat Cheese

I adore mushrooms. I could eat them almost everyday. They are so versatile, they are good at any time of the day in combination with a variety of foods. I was looking to fill out a meal of leftovers, and so decided to prepare some stuffed mushrooms with goat cheese. As I am also fond of spicy food, I added some cayenne pepper and chopped fresh chillies to the stuffing, along with a little cornmeal for texture. Simple and delicious, they didn't last long.

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Cherry Ricotta Crêpes

Cherry Ricotta Crêpes

Watching cooks flip crêpes at a crêperie might make the prospect of making your own intimidating, but you don't even have to turn over these wonderfully light melt-in-your-mouth ricotta crêpes from Mollie Katzens Sunlight Café. In fact, they're so fast and easy to prepare and cook that they were done before I knew it — great for a summer weekend breakfast. I love the flavour of sweet Rainier cherries for the filling, but you can use any kind of cherry or any other berry for that matter.
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Eggs in a Vegetable Mulligatawny Sauce


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Eggs in a Vegetable Mulligatawny Sauce

The other day, I made a thick, creamy and spicy vegetable Mulligatawny soup. Delicious the first day, it tastes even better the second day when the flavors have mingled longer. The second day is then a great opportunity to use it as a sauce for serving hard-boiled eggs in, and makes for a delightfully simple and attractive dish.

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Lentils with Browned Onion and Garlic

Lentils with Browned Onion and Garlic

Tonight I was looking for something fast as it's been a busy week, and so I decided to make this quick and easy lentil dish flavored with garlic and chilies, and topped with crispy slices of fried onion. It may be simple, but it isn't lacking in taste. Serve it with bread and lemon rice with toasted cashews for a satisfying light dinner.

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Lucknow Rajma with Sautéed Chard


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Lucknow Rajma with Sautéed Chard

Rajma is a curried tomato and kidney bean dish that's strikingly reminiscent of Southwestern-style chilis, but it's all Indian in origin and spicing, and made everywhere across the Indian subcontinent with all kinds of regional variations. It's also one of my favorite Indian dishes, so I'm always on the lookout for new versions to try. And since, oddly enough, only one of the local Indian restaurants actually serves rajma, I just have to make my own!

This Lucknow recipe is a spicy hot rajma that I've adapted from Yamuna Devi's Vegetarian Table to compensate for the ridiculous party-sized quantity it suggests and to make it even more fiery — just the way I like it, but feel free to slightly reduce the spices or to leave out the chili pepper. What makes this rajma unique is the addition of sautéed chard to a dish that's typically made without vegetables. Make sure you use the stems of the chard as well — they're the sweetest part of the vegetable.

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Food, Food, Glorious Food

Tomatoes

I've been tagged by Holler of Tinned Tomatoes to come up with 7 random "foodie" facts about myself. I've become quite fond of my Scottish friend, so I'll play along.

1. I've since mellowed, but I have been known to throw dough across the room when dissatisfied with the result.

2. Relatedly, I'm pretty sure I remember throwing some phyllo pastry (my old friend Basil could verify this) and I am certain I was angry with the whole experience. I've yet to get over my fear of phyllo pastry, though my first and last attempt worked out well if one factors out the anger and I love phyllo pastry creations besides.

3. Herbs and vegetables I started growing in pots in the backyard on Monday: Snow peas, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, parsley, chives, lemon grass, mint, bay leaves, dill, coriander.

4. When I was a kid, I did eat meat, but I preferred beef and bacon, especially because they didn't contain bones. If served chicken from a bucket, I would consume that first, dispose of the bones, and then finish my dinner. Mind you, I used to poke at the thawing ground beef marinating in blood in disgust.

5. I once told by my mother that I would never, ever, clean out a turkey or chicken, as I watched her doing several times in disgust, though I would later consume the cooked carcass. My mom assured me that one day I would prepare a chicken for consumption, though I have proved her wrong.

6. Bacon was the last meat that I enjoyed before becoming a vegetarian.

7. The spicier, the better, and everything tastes better with red wine.

Hot Peppers

Peanut Butter Brownies

Peanut Butter Brownies

Just once in a while I like to treat my husband and friends (okay, and myself just a little) with a pan of homemade brownies. Brownies take very little time to think about, to prepare for, and to cook, so they're great for spur-of-the-moment treat decisions. They're versatile too, and can handle the addition of dried fruits, nuts or almost anything you want to add. In this case, it's a wonderfully sweet and creamy peanut butter topping that adds a layer of decadence on to an already rich, soft and chewy brownie. They pretty much melt in your mouth, and you'll have to exercise a little patience to let them cool a little out of the oven before indulging.

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Vegetable Mulligatawny Soup


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Vegetable Mulligatawny Soup

A faithful reader emailed me last week wondering if I made a vegetarian version of Mulligatawny soup. Though I sometimes enjoy a bowl of this spicy soup when visiting Indian restaurants — my local favorite being the dark and very spicy version offered at Curry's here in London, Ontario — I had yet to make my own, until now.

Mulligatawny, literally "pepper water", is Anglo-Indian in origin. There are hundreds of versions of this soup. It's easy to make, though it does take a little while to prepare the ingredients for the soup. I had a browse through a few of my cookbooks, and decided to try Madhur Jaffrey's recipe. I've adapted it somewhat to suit my tastes. Free feel to experiment with different kinds of vegetables, and add some chopped fresh chilies for extra heat.

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Simple Dill Rice


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Simple Dill Rice

This dill and pea rice is simple to prepare and cook, and makes a tasty and versatile accompaniment to any Indian meal. For a delicious and attractive addition, serve the rice with diced cucumber, tomato, onion or mango chutney on the side.

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Chickpea, Olive and Feta Cheese Salad

Chickpea, Olive and Feta Cheese Salad

This is a delicious salad that combines all the great flavors of the Mediterranean — Feta cheese and Kalamata olives from Greece, chickpeas from southern Europe, and some homemade harissa hot sauce from North Africa to give it a spicy kick. It's a refreshing and simple dish for the hot summer months when a light meal is called for. Serve it on a bed of salad greens with rice or as part of a picnic with crusty bread.

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Staple Corner: How to Make Your Own Harissa

Homemade Harissa

Harissa is the classic flavor of Tunisia, a fiery hot sauce that is widely used across Algeria and Morocco as well. Plenty of dried hot chili peppers, garlic and roasted cumin seeds give harissa a characteristic burst of fire that works wonderfully as a condiment for couscous, flatbreads and vegetables and also as an ingredient in soups, stews and salad dressings. If you're looking for a creative way to spice up any of these kinds of dishes, try adding a little harissa — but be sparing with it until you're used to it!

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Raspberry Cornmeal Muffins

Raspberry Cornmeal Muffins

I'm relatively new to food blogging, but I find that the experience is constantly inspiring me to go through my cookbooks and discover recipes that I'd overlooked before. I'm not sure how I missed this one before, because raspberries are quite possibly my favorite berry and I love the crunchy texture and slightly sweet corn taste that cornmeal brings to baked goods. Put them both in an easy-to-make muffin, and I'm hooked! A quick dash to the grocery store later, these gorgeous soft and moist muffins were in the oven in no time at all. They didn't take much longer to be eaten either!

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Staple Corner: Basic Salad Vinaigrette

Basic Salad Vinaigrette

While visiting my parents this past weekend, I rummaged around in the fridge for some salad ingredients and created a very simple Dijon mustard vinaigrette for a dressing that can be put together in less than two minutes.

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Pasta and Feta Cheese Casserole

Pasta and Feta Cheese Casserole

Though I often make meals that vegans would find friendly, this vegetarian cannot resist the goodness of cheese. If you like olives and Feta cheese, then you'll want to try this recipe that I found years ago in a milk calendar. I've adapted the recipe to my taste and so increased the amount of Feta cheese and olives, and included a few green chillies to add a little heat. It's so good, I've decided to submit it to Once Upon a Feast's weekly Presto Pasta Night.

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Lisa's Classic Vegetarian Caesar Salad

Vegetarian Caesar Salad

A beautiful early summer day, I just can't resist making my famous Caesar Salad with a creamy dressing. This salad remains popular with my dinner guests and I've been asked several times for the recipe. To this day, I've yet to try a tastier version.

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Cornmeal Biscuits

Cornmeal Biscuits

If you are looking for a simple solution to fill out a meal, these easy-to-make delicate biscuits are a perfect choice. The addition of cornmeal provides a slightly crunchy texture. They take about 30 minutes to prepare and bake, and are best served warm with some butter. If you have any biscuits left over from dinner, consider finishing them off for breakfast.

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Wild Mushroom Soup

Wild Mushroom Soup

Mushrooms are the "fruit" of the underground growing fungus. Not only are mushrooms a versatile food, they are especially good at absorbing flavors because of their high water content. Most edible varieties of mushrooms are also quite good for you — mushrooms are high in fiber and protein, and provide B complex vitamins, iron, calcium, phosphorous and potassium. Mushrooms are also a good source of trace minerals and antioxidants such as selenium, which is essential for healthy blood circulation. Some varieties are believed to have anti-cancer properties.

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Curry Couscous

Curry Couscous

This is a fast and tasty way to enjoy couscous, the staple grain food of northern Africa. Despite the addition of a teaspoon of curry powder, this recipe contains only a hint of spice. It's a good choice if you are looking for a simple side dish to compliment a meal. Increase the amount of curry powder and add some cayenne pepper and cumin to spice it up a bit if desired.

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Penne with Fennel, Tomato Sauce and Blue Cheese

Penne with Fennel, Tomato Sauce and Blue Cheese

I don't serve pasta for dinner very often as I generally prefer beans and grains, but I was inspired to make this robust and tasty penne with fennel, fresh tomato sauce and crumbled blue cheese by a package of some lovely import sun-dried tomatoes and some extraordinary looking blue cheese at the local market. This is a perfect quick light supper or lunch served with a green salad. If blue cheese is too bold for your taste, crumbled feta can be used instead.

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Staple Corner: Tomato Sauce with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Tomato Sauce with Sun-dried Tomatoes

When I first started cooking, I relied heavily on pre-prepared tomato sauces for my dishes. Since I learned how to make my own from fresh tomatoes, I never purchase tomato sauce anymore. It is relatively easy to make, and you can control the consistency and seasonings. The key to a nice thick sauce is to simmer the tomatoes over medium-low heat, uncovered, for about 30 to 40 minutes to let the flavors come out.

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Baby Artichokes and Peas

Baby Artichokes and Peas

Artichokes and peas are wonderfully complementary vegetables, and the vermouth in this Italian dish adds a perfect dry and slightly spicy finish to their flavours. I cooked this Carciofi con Piselli the other night and they didn't last long at all!

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Chickpeas in a Spicy Mint Sauce


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Chickpeas in a Spicy Mint Sauce

This dish is often sold as a snack food on the streets of northern India, where it is known as Paraati Chana from the round tray known as a paraat in which it is served. Another reason to go to India. One might think that the large amount of mint leaves would overwhelm the spices that flavor the chickpeas, but in fact the mint forms a perfectly complementary background layer to the predominant cumin and coriander seasoning, combining to make a wonderfully multi-textured taste. As I often do, I've adapted this recipe from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian to pack it with an extra punch. It is filling and nourishing enough to be served as a meal with grains or breads and a vegetable dish.

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Mushroom, Ricotta and Asiago Cheese Pizza

Mushroom, Ricotta and Asiago Cheese Pizza

If you like mushrooms and cheese, this is the pizza for you. In addition to the cheese used for the topping, the no yeast crust contains cottage cheese. The flavor of three different types of mushrooms provide a perfect earthy complement to the cheese. It takes a while to make, but every delicious bite makes it worth the effort. It's very filling, so all you need is a simple salad for a very satisfying meal.

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Tempeh Breakfast Hash-Up

Tempeh Breakfast Hash-Up

Tempeh is an old Indonesian invention made from partially cooked soybeans fermented with a Rhizopus fungal culture that binds the beans into firm, chewy cakes or patties. Soybeans are by themselves a very detrimental source of proteins and nutrition due to a very high content of enzyme inhibitors and phytic acids that block the absorption of essential minerals and cause potential intestinal problems — however, thorough fermentation in the production of tempeh, miso and soy sauce removes both the inhibitors and phytates. The process of precipitation used to make tofu or bean curds, on the other hand, removes only some of the inhibitors and hardly any of the phytates, so these soy foods should be generally avoided. Through fermentation, however, tempeh becomes not only an excellent source of proteins but one of the best sources of vitamin B12 you can find — but only as long as it has been properly innoculated with the Rhizopus culture, so make sure to check the label. Look for it frozen or refrigerated in 8 or 12 oz packages in natural food stores.

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