The middle of summer represents such a cornucopia of fresh vegetables and fruits coming from the farms of southwestern Ontario that I have to restrain myself from buying everything I see at the local market. I always find at this time of year that I can't keep up with all the possibilities these wonderfully fresh flavors present, but this week I found myself particularly attracted to some large, beautiful and perfectly unblemished heads of local cauliflower. Since I haven't used cauliflower for some time now, I decided to dress it up in this simple and colorful cauliflower & olive salad that's one of my summer favorites. Considering it's sweltering hot here in London, this no cook salad was a perfect compliment to a light summer meal.
Inspired by one of the staple ingredients of her native Indian kitchens, Nandita at Saffron Trail is hosting a round-up of recipes featuring chillies this August. While anyone who reads this blog knows that I'm equally inspired by Indian cuisine, I decided to make this remarkably simple and fast jalapeño pie for the round-up, not only because it showcases these hot and juicy chillies so prominently, but also because my jalapeño pepper plants are raging out of control just right now and I need to find ways to use them in quantity!
Two cups of jalapeños might sound overwhelming, but the eggs and extra-old Cheddar cheese temper the heat enough that not only will most people be comfortable with it but they'll be coming back for more. I like to serve this pie as part of a light dinner on a hot, sweltering summer day with some fresh bread and a salad with vinaigrette to cut the dairy a bit. Roughly chopped mushrooms and a dash of cayenne can be added if desired.
It's been a while since I've cooked a dish with black-eyed peas, so the other day I flipped through some recipes for a curry dish featuring this delicate bean which originated in Africa. I couldn't find anything that quite captured the taste I was looking for, but my determination inspired me to make up my own recipe. I've used dried wild mushrooms here, but fresh mushrooms can be used instead of or in addition to the dried ones — just put them in when you add the cooked beans.
I'm simply a huge fan of Indian paneer cheese, a dry-textured whey cheese that holds its shape when cooked and beautifully absorbs the flavors of curry spices. I add it all kinds of curry sauces, such as this fragrant and creamy spicy tomato gravy that serves as a vehicle for some fresh crunchy vegetables as well. Feel free to use any combination of vegetables — just use about 2 to 3 cups worth. Adjust the amount of yogurt to obtain the desired consistency of the gravy.
A friend of mine was recently complaining that I hadn't yet put up a recipe for French toast on Lisa's Kitchen. Well, he won't be complaining now because I went out and made the most gorgeous and delicious French toast that I've been meaning to make ever since coming across it at a now sadly defunct food blog called Gourmet A Go-Go. A trip to the weekly Farmer's Market at the Covent Garden Market to pick up a loaf of bakery-fresh multi-grain bread and a few pints of the plump local blueberries that have just come into season was just the excuse to put it together — a small effort that was amply rewarded.
This is quite possibly the most decadent chocolate cake I have ever made, or eaten for that matter. There's so much chocolate in this cake, it will satisfy even the meanest chocolate craving. It's not your traditional chocolate cake, as it doesn't contain any flour. The main ingredients are chocolate, eggs, butter, sugar, and more chocolate. I'd describe it as a cross between cake, brownies and fudge. I could only eat one small piece but thankfully I had eager friends to share with.
As in many homes around the world, rice is a definite staple food in my kitchen. Though I sometimes just add a little butter and lemon juice, it's always a treat to dress it up. This is the first time that I have used radish in a rice dish, but it won't be the last. Serve with a spicy bean curry, such as channa masala or moong dal, and an Indian flat bread for a very satisfying meal.
Rajma is one of my favorite Indian dishes. It is a curried tomato and kidney bean dish that is popular throughout northern Indian. For those unacquainted with the delights of Indian cuisine, it's an Indian-style vegetarian version of Southwestern-style chili.
The other night I made these nachos for a snack. Nachos make a good appetizer, though if you load on the cheese like I do, they are filling enough to serve as a meal. I make a different version every time. For this batch, I spread some spicy blue corn tortilla chips over a baking sheet. Then, I layered the chips with some grated aged Cheddar cheese, pickled hot peppers, diced dill pickle, and finely chopped onion. To finish off, I sprinkled some hot pepper flakes and a pinch of cayenne over the top. Broil in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese melts and begins to brown.
Other suggested toppings: diced firm tomato, corn kernels, goat cheese, chopped jalapeños, finely chopped garlic and fried mushrooms. Serve with some salsa sauce or a homemade simple tomato chutney.
The city meets the sagebrush in this aromatic and flavorful Southwest-inspired lentil and kidney bean vegetarian chili. The secret here is the fried pine nuts that add an irresistible smoky little crunch to the herb and spice chili seasonings. Make sure to use dried oregano, sage and thyme instead of fresh for their added pungency.
Considering it seems that I put hot chilies and/or jalapeños in pretty much everything I make, my regular readers might be surprised to learn that my very favorite cornbread consists of little more than cornmeal. But my regular readers will also know that I love the sweet taste and crunch of cornmeal, and this dense and filling bread will satisfy any cornmeal craving. For a satisfying snack, serve slices of this cornbread with a bit of butter. It also goes well as a side with any spicy Mexican meal.
Spice it up is my motto, and that includes eggs. The finest deviled eggs I ever tasted were made by my Mom. I cherish the memories of helping her make a batch to go alongside her potato salad. I've since developed a taste for spice, and accordingly, added a twist to mom's devilled eggs and served them alongside a not so traditional potato salad.
I've found that these light fluffy pancakes from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Café are the perfect way to start a lazy summer Sunday, combining the light crunchy chewiness of cornmeal with the tartness of buttermilk and the sweetness of vanilla and fresh berries to produce an amazing balance of flavours and textures. With a little pat of fresh butter and a drizzle of my father's homemade maple syrup, there's nothing like them. I've used fresh blueberries here, but any kind of berry or chopped fresh fruit like peaches are just as pleasing.
I've had a few requests since I started Lisa's Kitchen for nutritional information, recipe suggestions and food tips. I'm honored that folks are seeking my advice, and I'll continue to answer your questions to the best of my abilities. I'm looking forward to the day when this site will become a virtual culinary reference stop.
Delia Smith's Vegetarian Collection is one of the most gorgeous vegetarian cookbooks I've ever come across, not only because of the mouth-watering glossy photographs, but most importantly for the hundreds of tantalizing and original recipes for all kinds of grains, beans, vegetables, cheese and eggs, running from light to hearty and from simple to inspired. This pilau rice from her book takes hardly any time to prepare and cook and, with its heavenly combination of nuts and spicy seeds, is a protein-packed favorite of mine that can be served any time of year, on its own as a snack or alongside any savory meal.
The last time I made chana masala, the classic Indian chickpea curry, I made a version using my own homemade homemade chana masala powder. I like to make variations of my favorite dishes, so this time around I started from scratch, without a recipe. I think this is my best chana masala to date, absolutely flavorful and healthy besides. Serve with a grain, like mushroom pulao rice, for a very tasty and spicy meal.
The addition of fresh herbs and green beans are a delightful compliment to the earthly flavor of brown rice. This easy to prepare side dish would go well with any bean dish. I served it with Indian style spicy mung beans.