An intense but balanced blend of smoky, hot and pungent flavors from fried spices, fresh and dried hot peppers, and mustard seeds popped in hot oil complements an earthy and buttery mixture of beans in this simple but beautiful and fragrant Indian-style chili. Black chickpeas (actually brown) have a fuller and chewier texture and deeper earthier flavor than yellow chickpeas. The combination of these two peas with red kidney beans and creamy urad beans provides wonderful contrasts in color and texture. Black chickpeas and whole urad beans are easily obtained at any Indian grocer, as are brown mustard seeds and asafetida.
Over the years, I have collected a lot of recipes for apple treats. One such recipe is this apple tart that I remember every autumn as one of the most heavenly custard-like fruit desserts I have ever enjoyed. I only made it once, years and years ago, and though I had such fond memories of this fruity tart, I never did make it again, distracted each year by other apple creations to test out in the narrow amount of time I set aside for baking. This year I was determined to see if my memory served me correctly, and the occasion of a dear friend's birthday provided the needed inspiration. To complete and accompany an entrée of split pea cilantro dumplings in a coconut curry, I served up the famed Corsican apple tart.
Fresh Ontario pears and sweet dried Calimyrna figs lend these crêpe-style whole-wheat pancakes an elegance that entirely belies the small effort that goes into making them. Adapted from a Readers Digest recipe for those of us who think more in cups and spoons than milliliters and grams, they'll add instant warmth to your kitchen and breakfast table.
This recipe for pumpkin scones I'd bookmarked for over a year, and only just now got around to making them. I enjoyed these biscuits flavored with pumpkin pie spices before a dinner as well as for a dinner accompanied by hearty Italian bean and pasta soup, and again and for dessert together with roasted pumpkin seeds. Dense, but flaky and moist, these are quite possibly the most satisfactory baked breaded delights I have produced to date.
Here is another quick and easy bean curry that I was inspired to make after consulting my trusted copy of 660 Curries. Elegant, but satisfying enough to placate the agitated masses.
Admittedly, pumpkins are a bit of a nuisance to clean. The seeds must be separated from the goo, and paring the skin from the flesh is a task I would hand over to my sous chef if I had one. But it is not a thankless task. Oh, not at all. There is no finer treat perhaps than homemade roasted pumpkin seeds. This recipe is a variation on my standard recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds. I soaked the seeds with some tamari and sea salt and sprinkled them with some cayenne before roasting. Warning: these are addictive.
Two little pumpkins, too many recipes was I tempted by. For a few weeks the pretty little squashes graced my kitchen table while I imagined the occasion for their sacrifice. The carving knife was finally brought out after I saw Helen Graves' pumpkin and chickpea burgers. While pumpkin butchering is a rather laborious experience, the yield is worth the effort: a few cups of flesh stashed away in the freezer, and roasted pumpkin seeds, scrumptious patties and wholesome pumpkin scones were offered up this past weekend. Certainly a cure for the onset of the winter blues.
As I was considering what to make for November's No Croutons Required, I remembered this hearty bean, vegetable and pasta soup that I used to make at least once every winter. Served with crusty bread, this soup is always a filling and warming meal on a cold snowy day. Colorful and nourishing, it's also very easy to make. This time I served the soup with pumpkin scones for a very comforting meal on a chilly day.
Most of the treats that appear on Lisa's Kitchen are savory, but bleak fall days call for dark and decadent solutions. Rather like chocolate cake, these brownies are based on a Nigella Lawson recipe. I wanted a moist, gooey brownie, without the crunch, so I added some dried fruit instead of nuts. The flavor of the fruit pleasantly underlies the rich chocolate taste, and adds a bit of chewiness besides.
I have a confession to make. I actually used canned mushrooms for this dish. Yes, I, who takes an essentially purist approach to cooking. While remaining realistic, I rarely use canned tomatoes or sauces, never purchase pre-prepared dressings, make my own pastry and go with fresh herbs and produce whenever possible. So why would I use canned mushrooms of all things when I can easily pick up a bag of mushrooms at the local grocery story or market?
I can only plead mushroom addiction. Lover of all things mushroom, I was cruising past the kosher clearance bin shortly after passover a few months back at the grocery store near my home when the cans of mushrooms caught my eye. I stopped to investigate and couldn't resist purchasing a can, reminded as I was of the mushroom pulao that I enjoy whenever I visit Curry's Restaurant here in London Ontario. I'm not entirely certain Curry's uses canned mushrooms for their rice dish, but I've cooked with mushrooms for many years now and was never able to recreate the texture of the mushrooms. Freshly fried mushrooms cannot be matched but there is just something about the chewy and juicy little slices of shrooms languishing in a tin that cries out for consumption. You only live once.
And yeah, I also used frozen peas.
After years of relative neglect I've been lately re-discovering winter squashes as a cold-weather kitchen staple, based on the premise which has been suggested to me that our seasonal nutrient requirements correspond with what is obtained in seasonal produce. There is an appealing sense of natural justice and propriety to this claim, but it wouldn't seem to hold quite as much merit by the time February or March comes along, unless all we'd need by then would be onions, cabbages, and root vegetables.
In the event that I'm not about to stop buying oranges or bananas at any time of year, or even berries for that matter, winter squashes are still a lovely base for autumn and winter soups, stews and other pot dishes. Usually a fine source of fiber, potassium and beta carotene as well as smaller amounts of vitamins C and B, magnesium, iron and manganese — depending on the variety — winter squashes are also simple to cook with and adaptable to all sorts of other ingredients, herbs and spicings. This colorful and hearty soup, adapted from Canadian Living, takes very little time to prepare and cook, and is a tasty way to warm and fill the belly on a cool day.
Looking for something different to make with black-eyed peas, I consulted my valued copy of World Vegetarian Classics by Celia Brooks Brown. Once again, I was attracted to the two chapters devoted to African recipes. These simple fried black-eyed pea patties are Nigerian in origin and are served with "pilipili", which essentially means chili sauce. The author suggests using canned beans, as the traditional preparation involves rubbing the skins off. I decided to use dried beans, neglected to rub off the skins, adjusted the measurements slightly and came up with pea patties instead of the smaller cakes featured in the book. The earthy and nutty taste of the black-eyed peas really comes out here, and is perfectly complemented by the vibrant chili sauce.
660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer is proving to be one of the wisest cookbook investments I have made lately. There is an abundance of easy but deliciously satisfying curry recipes that are ideal for days when you want proper nourishment without much fuss. The extensive chapter on legume curries is one that I continue to explore, as most of my meals are centered around beans and legumes.
An old legend about cassoulet relates that the popular French bean casserole was invented in the southern French town of Castelnaudary during an English siege in the Hundred Years War. Unable to venture outside the town walls to collect fresh vegetables, the townspeople invented a rich and hearty repast with their preserved stock of dried beans and herbs, cold storage vegetables, and pork sausages and duck fat. A more contemporary legend has it that we vegetarians can dispense with the copious meats that are added to traditional cassoulets and still enjoy a robust, filling and delicious meal that's perfect for cool fall weather.
Even people of average tolerance to heat should not be deterred by large quantities of hot peppers when they are tempered with plenty of dairy — east Indians have happily known this for centuries, serving cooling bowls of yogurt raitas with their spicy dishes. So last year I made an extraordinarily simple jalapeño pie loaded with jalapeños and lots of cheese and eggs that was surprisingly easy on the palette.
Once again I have consulted my copy of World Vegetarian Classics by Celia Brooks Brown. Forgoing the simple task of deciding on a bean and soaking it the night before, I was focused on split dals and legumes, and a grain to balance it all out. This one pot creamy rice and lentil dish from Tanzania turned out to be the perfect mid-week meal solution. Like the split pea cilantro dumplings in a coconut curry I made recently, this recipe comes from the chapter on dishes from Central, East and Southern Africa. Much like a khichari in texture and spicing, the Indian influence in the Eastern region of Africa shines out here. I modified the recipe to suit my spicy tastes.