Homemade Creamed Corn

Homemade Creamed Corn

As a child I always enjoyed corn, but not particularly creamed corn from a can. This recipe that I drafted changed my mind because it is homemade. A sprinkling of red pepper flakes, some fine freshly cracked black pepper, combined with corn kernels and fresh cream makes all the difference and you can control the salt content besides.

I made this in preparation for some johnny cakes to go along with a baked potato puff. Certainly a warming winter meal. I do enjoy vegan dinners, but sometimes I just want something that is packed full of cheese and carbs. This really should become a staple on your menu.

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No Croutons Required - The winner for January

The winner for the January Rice Challenge is Kevin of Closet Cooking who entered this elegant and tempting Mushroom and Leek Wild Rice Salad. Congratulations Kevin. I can't wait to try this dish. You can be sure to find more creative mushrooms recipes from Kevin, so if you are a mushroom fan and just want mouthwatering recipes to try, do visit his blog.
Jacqueline will be hosting the next edition of No Croutons Required. The challenge for February is to come up with a creamy soup or salad. It does not have to be dairy based unless you choose, but it must be vegetarian friendly. We look forward to your entries.

Pickle Flavored Chickpeas

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Yes, I am offering up another chickpea dish. As far as I am concerned, you can never have enough recipes for this most tasty legume. I can never resist nibbling on the cooked beans before they even make it into the dish I am preparing. The addition of potato here adds a nice texture to this North Indian entree and the spicing is just the thing for cold winter evenings. Serve with brown basmati rice for an especially nourishing meal.

I adapted the recipe from 1000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra. This cookbook was a gift from my dear friend Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook and it comes highly recommended from my kitchen. Though not strictly vegetarian, there are tons of options for vegans and vegetarians, and lots of room to play around with the recipes that are presented. I rarely follow a recipe to a tee but instead like to add my own touches and spicing and ingredient options.

Pickle Flavored Chickpeas

1 1/4 cups of chickpeas, soaked in water overnight
1 large potato, roasted and peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons of tamarind pulp
1 tablespoon of panch-phoran
2 tablespoons of ghee, butter or oil
2 tablespoons of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced or crushed
2 green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1 tablespoon of ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon of asafoetida
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
sea salt to taste
1/2 cup of fresh parsley or coriander
1/2 teaspoon of garam masala

Soak the chickpeas in enough water to cover overnight. Drain, transfer to a large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook until the chickpeas are buttery soft - roughly 1 hour. Drain and set aside.

Soak the tamarind pulp in one cup of hot water for 20 minutes. Press through a sieve, discard the pulp and reserve the water.

Mash the garlic and ginger in a mortal and pestle. Heat the oil over medium heat in a wok or large pan. When hot, add the garlic, ginger mixture, along with the chillies and panch-phoran and stir and fry for 5 minutes. Add the turmeric, ground coriander, cayenne, asafoetida and stir and fry for 2 minutes. Add the tomato, stir and fry for 5 minutes and then add the drained and cooked chickpeas, along with the reserved tamarind water, potato and Dijon mustard and salt. Cook for another 5 - 10 minutes until most of the liquid is evaporated and the flavors are blended. Stir in the parsley, and sprinkle with garam masala.

Serves 4 - 6.

More Chickpea Recipes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Marinated Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus with Olives
Chickpea and Lentil Salad with Zucchini and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Chickpea Flour Dumplings in a Spicy Yogurt Sauce
Scrambled Chickpea Flour with a Fiery Red Chili Paste

On the top of the reading stack: Company's Coming Muffins & More by Jean Pare

Audio Accompaniment: Biosphere

Easy Fudgy Brownies

Savory girl that I am, I don't often make decadent treats, but a dear friend of mine wanted to learn how to make gooey squares. What better way to start than with this ridiculously simple recipe for rich fudgy brownies — 10 minutes or less of prep time, and a little washing up while waiting for them to come out of the oven.

Easy Fudgy Brownies

It was fun spending time in the kitchen baking and getting warm, and I spread the wealth around to neighbors and friends. There is simply no way that a huge pan of these brownies could be consumed in a household with just two people — or maybe it could, but it wouldn't be a good idea as these brownies are rich and really should be consumed in moderation. So I made them along with some poppy seed muffins in preparation for a visit with my charming and caring father-in-law. What a treasure he is — and yes, he liked them a lot too!

Easy Fudgy BrowniesEasy Fudgy Brownies
Recipe by
Published on January 25, 2011

Quick and easy brownies — 10 minutes prep, hardly any fuss, and delicious fudgy and chocolate-y brownies right out of the oven

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  • 1 1/3 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 2/3 cups white sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Grease a 13 × 9 inch baking pan or line with parchment paper. Preheat an oven to 350°.

  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well to combine.

  • In another large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa and salt. Add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Transfer to the prepared pan and spread evenly.

  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is dry and a cake tester comes out clean. Let stand for 15 minutes to cool. Serve warm, dusted with icing sugar if desired.

Makes about 2 dozen squares
Easy Fudgy Brownies

More brownie recipes from Lisa's Kitchen:
Brownies with Dried Fruit
Chocolate Cocoa Brownies with Dried Cranberries and Chickpea Flour
Gooey Peanut Butter Brownies with Carob Chips
Cocoa Brownies with Peanut Butter Chocolate Icing

On the top of the reading stack: 1,000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra

Audio Accompaniment: Dropsonde by Biosphere

Greek Lentil Soup (Fakes)

Next to Indian cuisine, my favorite dishes come from the Mediterranean region, especially Greece. Such diverse and creative delicacies can only tempt those who enjoy good and nourishing food, not to mention diners who fancy treats that tickle the palate.

One of the most popular Greek staples is lentil soup, known as fakes, which is often eaten during Lent and typically made with brown lentils and vegetables. The possibilities are endless and I was inspired to come up with a not-so-traditional version of my own that I served with buttered basmati rice. The flavor is greatly enhanced if you splash some vinegar over each serving, along with some fresh parsley and extra virgin olive oil.

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No Croutons Required - Rice

The challenge for January was to come up with a soup or salad featuring one of our favorite staples, rice. Plenty of inspiring entries this month to tickle your palate. Please do cast your vote in the comment section or via email. Neither my entry nor Jacqueline's is eligible for voting.

Our first entry is from Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe. Despite computer problems, she has come up with this most inspiring Vegetarian Sushi Rice Salad. Combined here is sushi rice, ginger infused cider vinegar, rice wine vinegar, carrot, red capsicum, snow peas, cucumber, spring onions, asparagus, tofu, avocado, nori and sesame seeds. Other vegetables can be substituted according to your preference. Such a nourishing dish. (Melbourne, Australia)

Next up is Janet of The Taste Space with a lovely Apple, Lentil and Wild Rice Salad. Wild rice adds a nutty compliment to lentils, shallots, apple and carrot. Then this salad is dressed with cumin, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes. Surely this dish will impress your dinner guests. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Megha of Live to Eat enters her hearty English Winter Soup. A meal in a bowl, arborio rice is cooked up with potatoes, peas, garlic, nutmeg and parsley. Garnished with sliced hard boiled eggs and served with toast, this soup is just the thing to help with the winter chills. (India)

Eleanor of Brownieville Girl offers up this tempting Mushroom and Chestnut Soup. I never can resist mushrooms and in this soup they are complimented by onion, chestnut puree and risotto rice. A perfect way to start the new year with healthy eating habits in mind. (Ireland)

Helen of Fuss Free Flavours serves up a delightful Red Rice and Italianesque Vegetable Salad. This pretty salad is made with wild rice, broccoli, cauliflower and cherry tomatoes and dressed with olive oil, soy sauce and lemon juice. Helen took this to a picnic at her dance club and I am sure everyone there enjoyed this fulfilling salad. (West London, UK)

My submission this month is a refreshing Curried Rice and Fruit Salad with Fresh Mango Dressing. Basmati rice is cooked with shallots, garlic, homemade curry powder and ginger and then combined with apples, pineapple, coconut, dried apricots, mint and cilantro and dressed with fresh mango chutney, lemon juice, sesame oil and honey. My friends were pleased with this dish. (London, Ontario, Canada)

Mango Cheeks of Allotment2kitchen presents a flavourful Parsnip and Wild Rice Soup. This creamy soup is made with wild rice, onion, garlic, parsnips, turmeric, curry powder, vegetable stock and fresh coriander. Good for you and tasty too. (West of Scotland, UK)

Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes cooked up a Potato, Leek and Spinach Soup with Rice which she describes as thick and stew-like. I am sure this combination of basmati rice, onion, garlic, leeks, potatoes, cumin, vegetable stock and baby spinach would be hard to resist. (Scotland, UK)

Sweatha of Tasty Curry Leaf serves up a warming and silky bowl of Thai Inspired Pumpkin, Rice and Coconut Milk Soup. Rice is combined with pumpkin, turmeric, fresh chilies, ginger, lemon grass, shallots and coconut milk. An inspired dish indeed. (Bangalore, India)

Valerie of City Life Eats offers up an inventive and appetizing Non-Traditional Insalata di Riso. This tempting dish is made up of brown rice, peas, grapeseed oil, tofu, tamari, turmeric, curry powder, carrots, artichoke hearts, green pepper, parsley, red onion, lemon juice and red wine vinegar. Served with shredded romaine, this salad is sure to stimulate your appetite. (Washington, DC, USA)

Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook submits a mouthwatering Shiruko - Japanese Mochi and Azuki Bean Dessert Soup. This inspired dish is made with azuki beans, a wee bit of sugar, and topped with kirimochi (hard rectangular rice cakes) cooked in a waffle iron, and a bit of mugwort. Certainly this dish would warm and comfort the soul. Definitely worth a trip to a Japanese market. (New York, USA)

Our final entry is from Kevin of Closet Cooking. This elegant Mushroom and Leek Wild Rice Salad combines wild rice, a mixture of mushrooms, leeks, garlic, thyme and roasted chestnuts and is dressed with a balsamic viniagrette. Kevin served this on a bed of arugula and shaped the salad with ramekins. I know I could not resist this fine dish. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Jacqueline will be hosting the February edition of No Croutons Required. Check back at the beginning of the month for the theme.

Curried Rice and Fruit Salad with Fresh Mango Dressing

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Curried Rice and Fruit Salad with Fresh Mango Dressing

This colorful salad of curried rice with a beautiful array of sweet, tart and tangy fruits provides plenty of contrasts in flavor and texture to delight the eye and palate, and it's terrific served as part of or as the main feature of a warm weather meal. There's nothing more refreshing than a fresh mango dressing! I made my own mango chutney with fresh fruit juices and chilies to provide an extra fresh taste in the dressing, but you can use your own favorite mango chutney, homemade or store-bought — although you will find that store-bought chutneys may be more pungent and less fresh-tasting, so you may want to mix in a little extra honey in the dressing if going that route.

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Shredded Mango and Coconut Chutney

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Shredded Mango and Coconut Chutney

Attractive and almost uncooked, this bold and assertive mango chutney is layered with intriguing sweet, tart and peppery flavors from coconut, orange and lime juices, dried fruits, fresh chilies and cilantro … and, of course, there's the sweet and tangy star of the chutney, fresh ripe red mangoes. I prepared this easy-to-make chunky chutney in preparation for a rice salad that I am sharing soon for No Croutons Required, but you can enjoy it with almost any other Indian meal, especially if there are other bold and assertive flavors on the plate. It's really very tasty on its own, too!

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Mixed Vegetable Curry ( Sabzi Bhaji )

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Seems most everyone likes potatoes and if you enjoy your vegetables spicy, this is the dish to try, especially if it's so very cold outside, as it is here in London this week. Easy to prepare, very warming, and a delightful accompaniment to serve with any Indian flatbread or savory bread. Feel free to adjust the spice mixture to suit your preferences. Mu cupboard is always overflowing with spice jars, so I like to experiment with a variety of mixtures in my Indian dishes. Without further ado, onward to the recipe.

Mixed Vegetable Curry ( Sabzi Bhaji )

2 large potatoes, cut into julienne strips
2 carrots, cut into julienne strips
1 onion, finely chopped
3 green chilies, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
dash of amchoor powder
dash of mace
1 teaspoon of sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper

2 tablespoons of ghee, or a mixture of butter and oil
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon of asafoetida
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 cup of peas, frozen or fresh (or any green vegetable of your choice)
a generous handful of fresh parsley or coriander, chopped
2/3 cup of plain yogurt
juice of 1 fresh lemon
1/2 cup of water
1 tablespoon of chickpea flour (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine the potatoes, carrots, onions, chillies, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, amchoor powder, mace, salt and black pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for an hour.

Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium heat. When hot, toss in the ginger, cumin seeds and asafoetida. Stir and fry for a few minutes. Add the potato and carrot mixture to the pan and cook for a few minutes, stirring often. If you are using fresh peas, add them now along with the tomato, lemon juice and most of the freshly chopped parsley. If you are using frozen peas, add them during the last 10 minutes of simmering the dish. Cook, stirring often, for another 5 minutes. Gradually stir in the yogurt and add 1/2 cup of water. Cover and cook for 30 - 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add more water if necessary to achieve your desired consistency or a bit of chickpea flour if the dish has excess water. Garnish with the remaining parsley or add to the cooking pot and stir.

Serves 4 - 6

Other potato recipes you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Aloo Gobi
Paratha with Sweet Potato and Potato Filling
Scalloped Potatoes with Best-Ever Mushroom Sauce
Scalloped Potatoes with Coconut Milk and Mushrooms

On the top of the reading stack: The Best Quick Breads: 150 Recipes for Muffins, Scones, Shortcakes, Gingerbreads, Cornbreads, Coffeecakes, and More by Beth Hensperger

Audio Accompaniment: Discreet Music by Brian Eno

Savory Blue Cheese Crackers

Savory Blue Cheese Crackers

A cross between a biscuit and a cracker, these flaky and puffy little blue cheese nibbles go well with cheese, soups or just on their own. Baking the blue cheese helps to cut the sharp and salty flavor, while at the same time adding a unique burst to the palate in these otherwise simple crackers. Any sharp cheese can be substituted, such as extra old Cheddar or perhaps aged Gouda. I might add that baking is a good way to warm up on a chilly winter day.

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Black-Eyed Peas in a Yogurt Curry

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

Black-eyed peas are traditionally served on New Year's Day in the American southeast and around the world as they are thought to bring prosperity. Because they swell with cooking, the peas are considered to represent growing prosperity in the New Year and are sometimes believed to represent coins as well. Frequently the peas are served with cooked greens, which symbolize money, and cornbread — representing gold — is also a feature of the New Year's Day table. This earthy legume is a favorite at any time of year for me, but how could I resist the promise of good luck? This black-eyed pea curry simmered in a tangy spiced yogurt sauce has a wonderful aroma and an incredible flavor — it's a good start to any year!

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No Croutons Required - The winner for December and the theme for January

Congratulations to Sue of Our New Life in the Country who won the December Festive Photo Challenge. Such an inspiring photo.

The challenge for January is to come up with a soup or salad featuring the mighty staple rice. Think brown rice, basmati, white rice, wild rice, arborio or whatever strikes your fancy. I look forward to your inspired creations. For a recap of the submission details, please follow this link.