Black and Yellow Chickpeas in a Sweet and Spicy Sauce


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
An intense but balanced blend of smoky, hot and pungent flavours 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) and whole urad beans are easily obtained at any Indian grocer, as are black mustard seeds and asafoetida.

Adapted from Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries, this book is quickly becoming a favourite tool for incredibly fast and easy midweek meal ideas.
Black and yellow chickpeas in a sweet and spicy sauce

1/4 cup dried black chickpeas
1/4 cup dried chickpeas
1/4 cup dried red kidney beans
1/4 cup dried whole
urad beans
2 tablespoons
ghee, or a mixture of butter and olive oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
3 whole dried red chillies
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
1 large tomato, diced
4 fresh cayenne peppers, slit lengthwise
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
chopped fresh parsley for garnish


Thoroughly rinse the dried beans together under running water, rubbing them between your palms. Soak overnight covered in several inches of cold water with a little yogurt whey or lemon juice added. Drain the following day, and cover with several inches of fresh water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender. Drain and set aside, reserving 1 cup of the rich cooking broth.

Heat the ghee or butter and olive oil mixture over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. When hot, toss in the mustard seeds and quickly cover with a lid. As soon as the seeds stop popping, about 20 to 30 seconds, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the dried red chillies, honey, cumin seeds, ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric and asafoetida, and cook for a minute or so in the hot oil. Now add the tomato and fresh cayenne peppers, and return the pan to the stove. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the beans and the reserved cooking liquid, and simmer for 15 minutes or until a thick sauce has formed.

Season with salt, sprinkle with parsley, and serve hot. Serves 4.

Caramelized Corsican Apple Tart

Caramelized Corsican Apple Tart

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.

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Pear and Fig Whole Wheat Pancakes

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.
Pear and Fig Whole Wheat Pancakes

Pancakes:

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups whole fat milk
1 large egg
butter for greasing


Filling:

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds Bartlett or other pears, cored and chopped
4 ounces dried Calimyrna figs, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
zest from 1/2 orange


Sift the flour, sugar and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Make a small well, and pour in the milk with the egg. Stir until smooth, then let the batter rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 200°. Lightly grease a small 7- or 8-inch non-stick frying pan and heat over medium heat. When hot, pour in a half cup of the batter and tilt the pan to cover the bottom. Cook for 30-45 seconds until the surface is mostly dry and the underside is a golden brown. Flip the pancake and cook the other side for another 30 seconds or until it is set.

Transfer the pancake to a sheet of parchment paper. Repeat the process until four pancakes have been cooked, separating each cooked pancake with another sheet of parchment paper. Wrap the finished stack of pancakes and parchment paper in foil and keep warm in the preheated oven.

Meanwhile, melt the butter for the filling in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the pears and figs, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes or until the pears are tender when pierced with a fork. Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and orange zest and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Remove the pancakes from the oven and lay out on separate plates. Spoon a quarter of the filling mixture into the center of each pancake and fold over in the middle. Serve hot, with warm maple syrup or fresh whipped cream on top.
Other breakfast pancake ideas you might like:

Baked whole wheat crêpes with apple blueberry sauce

Baked blueberry and peach pancakes

Baked strawberry pancakes

Spiced pumpkin waffles

Banana oatmeal pancakes

Cottage cheese blintzes and peach-plum compote

Pumpkin Scones

Pumpkin Scones

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.

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Curried Black-Eyed Peas


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
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.
Black-Eyed Peas with Mustard, Cumin and Curry Leaves


1 cup of dried black-eyed peas
2 tablespoons of ghee, or a mixture of butter and oil
1 heaped teaspoon of black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons of sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons of ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of ground asafetida
1 - 2 green chilies, finely chopped
1 large tomato, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
a generous handful of dried curry leaves
2 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro or parsley


Soak the black-eyed peas in enough water to cover overnight. Drain, transfer to a large pot, cover with fresh water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cover and simmer until the beans are soft - about 40 - 45 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds and cook until they turn grey and begin to pop. Immediately add the salt, cumin, coriander, turmeric, asafetida and hot peppers. Stir and add the tomatoes, tomato paste and curry leaves to the pan. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are thickened. Stir in the black-eyed peas and cook for another 10 minutes or so. Stir in the parsley or cilantro and serve over hot basmati rice.

Serves 4 - 6.

Roasted Tamari Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted Tamari Pumpkin Seeds

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.

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Chickpea Pumpkin Burgers

Chickpea Pumpkin Burgers

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.

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Hearty Italian Bean and Pasta Soup

Hearty Italian Bean and Pasta Soup

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.

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Brownies with Dried Fruit

Most of the treats that appear on Lisa's Kitchen are savory, but bleak 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 flavour of the fruit pleasantly underlies the rich chocolate taste, and adds a bit of chewiness besides.

Sugar High Fridays is hosted by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook this month. The theme is sweets that dazzle and glitter. Not many can resist the lure of moist dark chocolate. Yes, even this savory girl nibbled on a warm piece.
Brownies with Dried Fruit

1 1/2 cups of unsalted butter
375 grams of dark chocolate
6 eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla
2 1/2 cups of sugar
1 1/2 cups of unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 cups of chopped dried fruit (I used dates, figs and a few prunes)


Grease or line a 12 X 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large, heavy bottomed pot.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, chopped fruit and salt.

Pour the melted chocolate and butter into the egg and sugar mixture. Beat to combine and then add the flour and fruit and beat again. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for roughly 40 minutes, or until the top dries and begins to crack slightly and the interior is dark and gooey.
Other brownie recipes you will be sure to enjoy:

Cocoa Brownies with Peanut Butter Chocolate Icing

Peanut Butter Brownies

Quick and Easy Fudgy Brownies

Mushroom Pulao


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Mushroom Pulao

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.

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Red Bean and Squash Soup

Red Bean and Squash Soup

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.

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Nigerian Black-Eyed Pea Patties with Pilipili Sauce

Nigerian Black-Eyed Pea Patties with Pilipili Sauce

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.

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Chickpeas with Mango Powder (Amchoor Chana)


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Chickpeas with Mango Powder (Amchoor Chana)

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.

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Vegetarian Cassoulet with Bread Topping

Vegetarian Cassoulet with Bread Topping

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.

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Baked Cheese and Tortilla Pie with Jalapeños, Corn and Pinto Beans

Jalapeño Pepper Plants
At least once a year towards the end of the summer I'm confronted with the problem of disposing of an absurd number of jalapeños from the over-zealous plants in my garden. Giving dozens away to friends and family turns out to be an inadequate solution, and I'm not especially partial to the taste — or labor, to be honest — of preserving them. So jalapeño-heavy recipes it must be then…

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.

Jalapeños
This year I went with loads of jalapeños and cheese again, but in a more elaborate Mexican-style pie with plenty of cool sour cream, pinto beans, and some lovely fresh local sweet corn. Layered like a lasagne but with soft corn tortillas instead of pasta, this is a firm but deliciously gooey pie that goes beautifully with a green salad and vinaigrette to cut the dairy.

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Rice and Green Lentils in Coconut Milk

Rice and Green Lentils in Coconut Milk

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.

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