Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Kaddo Bourani and Lentil Rice Pilaf

It’s the end of November and we finally took our Halloween pumpkin off the porch. Since it hadn’t been carved into a jack-o-lantern and seemed in fairly good shape, I wanted to cook it up. One year when I was living in a 3rd floor apartment in Virginia, I forgot about our Halloween pumpkin for several months and when I finally picked it up one day by its stem, the bottom had rotted and its insides all fell out. I was so surprised when that happened that I flung the top part of the pumpkin right off the balcony, without even thinking! What a mess that was to clean up.

To save this year’s pumpkin from a similar fate, I turned to an old favorite, Kaddo Bourani. Below is my vegetarian version of this delicious Afghani pumpkin stew. I don’t know if the lentil rice pilaf is traditional, but I like the combination because it takes care of the protein requirement for the meal. This dish is a big hit with everyone who has tried it, including my kids. If you have a large pumpkin or hubbard squash, the recipe can be doubled and frozen. You’ll just need to make fresh rice and yogurt sauce to serve with the leftovers.

Kaddo Bourani and Lentil Rice Pilaf
Serves 6

· 3 lb sugar pumpkin, hubbard squash or calabaza squash. It’s best to use one of these squashes, as other winter squashes don’t work quite as well with this recipe.
· 2 T corn or canola oil

Lentil Rice Pilaf:
· 4 cups water
· 1/2 t salt
· 1-1/2 cup brown rice
· 1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed

Sweet Tomato Sauce:
· 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
· 1 clove garlic, crushed
· 1 inch piece of ginger, grated finely
· 1 T ground coriander
· ¼ t black pepper
· ½ T salt
· 1/3 cup sugar

Yogurt Sauce:
· 1 cup plain yogurt
· 1 clove garlic, crushed
· 2 T mint leaves, chopped (fresh is best)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds, then cut each half into 3-4 crescent wedges. Divide between two baking sheets and add about ½ cup water to each pan. Roast for about 1 hour or until a fork will barely pierce each piece all the way through. Set aside to cool a bit, then peel off skin and cut pumpkin flesh into roughly 1 inch chunks.

In a medium saucepot, heat the water to boiling and then add the lentil rice pilaf ingredients. Simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes or until rice is done. (If you'd like a little more flavor, you can first saute an onion and garlic clove in oil, then add the water and bring to boil.)

Combine the ingredients to make the Sweet Tomato Sauce.

Add oil to a wide-bottomed, deep skillet. Add the pumpkin chunks and sauté about 5 minutes on medium high, until lightly browned on all sides. Stir in Sweet Tomato Sauce. Simmer, covered, about 20 minutes.

Combine ingredients to make Yogurt Sauce.

To serve, pile pumpkin stew on top of the pilaf, then drizzle with the yogurt sauce. Garnish with extra chopped mint, if available.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Potato Pancakes, Apple Compote, and Chocolate Zucchini Cake

While summer's bounty is at an end, I completely love the flavors of fall. Here are a couple of recipes to keep you cooking local through October:

Potato Pancakes

This recipe is based on the recipe for potato pancakes in The Joy of Cooking. I've made some slight changes.


5 medium potatoes, peeled, washed, and coarsely grated (about 2.5 cups coarsely grated)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (may need 3 eggs)
1 tablespoon finely grated onion (I almost always use about 1/2 teaspoon onion powder instead. A cheat, I know.)
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil for frying


Peel, wash, and coarsely grate the potatoes. Then place handfuls into a dish towel and wring out excess water. Place the potatoes into a large bowl. Mix with the remaining ingredients (except the vegetable oil).

The resulting mixture should be kind of liquid-y: mostly potatoes, but definitely some liquid that settles to the bottom of the bowl. If the mixture seems dry, add a third egg. This is a very forgiving recipe. Sometimes I only use 2 cups of potatoes, sometimes I use more like 3 cups. Sometimes it's pretty liquidy, sometimes it's more dry. It always turns out yummy, though!

Cover the bottom of a large skillet with approx 1/4 inch of vegetable oil. Heat over medium high heat until hot. (As a tip, you can use a wooden chopstick to test the oil. When the oil is hot enough, bubbles should form around the tip of the wooden chopstick when you dip it in the oil. You can then use the chopstick along with a spatula to help flip the pancakes).

Drop spoonfuls of potato mixture into the hot oil. Use the back of the spoon to spread the mixture out thinly. The thinner your pancakes, the crispier they will become so flatten them according to your preference (very thin if you like crispy pancakes, thicker if you like them less crispy). Stir the potato mixture in the bowl between each spoonful you add to the pan so that the liquid doesn't just settle to the bottom of the bowl.

Fry until browned on the bottom, flip, and fry until the other side is browned. Remove to paper towels to drain.

These are delicious served with sour cream, applesauce, or the apple "compote" I'll include below.


Apple Compote

This isn't really a compote, but I'm not sure what to call it. Maybe a warm, extremely chunky applesauce?


5-8 apples
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons water (or more)


Peel the apples, and then shave chunks off directly into a large saucepan. Add a couple tablespoons of water, and place over medium low heat. Add the cinnamon and sugar and heat until warm and softened, about 15 minutes. This is another forgiving recipe. Cook it longer over a lower heat, though you will probably have to add more water if it starts to dry out. Cook it a really long time, and it'll keep getting more and more like applesauce.

The flavor and consistency of this is dependent on the apples used. I like to use a variety of apples. In the picture above, I used Macs, Jonagolds, and Mutsus, the varieties I picked earlier this week.


Okay, and dessert is really a summer dessert, that I've been meaning to post for a few months. But keep it in mind for next summer when those zucchinis are once again overflowing the crisper drawers!

Chocolate Zucchini Brownie Cake

I follow the linked recipe exactly and it turns out so amazingly. One of my friends has also make it subbing applesauce for the oil, and said it was still very good. My only complaint about the recipe is that they call it brownies. It's really more like a cake in my opinion. Whatever it is, it's delightful!


Last note: I made this meal for my Pass the Plate meal. You can see the part of the plate, which I put the potato pancakes on. KitchenAid is selling platters to raise money for breast cancer research. The idea is that you buy a plate, register it online, then cook something for a friend or family member. Then they cook something and pass it along to someone else, who passes it to someone else, etc. Everyone registers the plate online as they pass it, and every time it gets passed, KitchenAid donates $5.

It was really fun to do, and such an easy way to help raise money for breast cancer research!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Savory Goat Cheese and Leek Tart and Fried Green Tomatoes

It’s been a wet and dreary early fall here in New England, which kind of dictated this unusual but in the end, wonderful meal.
We were supposed to go camping but the weather made that an impossibility. The only upside is that this weather is that it makes me want to cook, specifically something savory and fall-like, and a chance conversation with a friend about the fate of our tomato plants in this terrible weather led me to find a recipe for fried green tomatoes at Southern Living magazine. Paired with this tart I’ve been meaning to make from Local Flavors I had a great meal for a rainy Saturday night.
There are many other recipes online for fried green tomatoes, many of them with fewer ingredients. But this one is from Southern Living, first of all, and the additions are all things like buttermilk and cornmeal, second of all -- so it seemed worth the extra effort, to me. The next day I noticed that I’m not the only Boston-ite who was interested in this southern staple -- the folks at the Boston Globe had the same idea, so you can find a another recipe here. Theirs turns the tomatoes into little mozzarella sandwiches which I just might have to try.
The tart came together with surprising ease. I didn’t make my own crust since we had a frozen rolled one already, but your favorite simple pie crust would do nicely. Since my husband was unable to find crème fraîche at the store I substituted heavy cream. I was worried about the tart setting but there’s such a high leak/other stuff ratio it wasn’t a problem at all -- it’s different than a quiche, the vegetables really do hold the dish together. I had no fresh thyme so put some dried on top instead. While the tart is best served piping hot my husband is planning on taking cool leftovers to work and I think it will be a wonderful and different lunch.
I’ve never made fried green tomatoes before but I’ve enjoyed them at restaurants, most recently at the sorely missed Magnolia’s here in Inman Square. Mine were not nearly as pretty as some of the ones you can get elsewhere but they are easy to make and absolutely delicious. And what a great use for end of season tomatoes that won’t go red before the first frost. We ate them with a little hot sauce but I was thinking that some horseradish mayo would have been amazing as well.

Savory Goat Cheese Tart with Leeks
1 9-inch prebaked tart shell
6 slender leeks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 ounces goat cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup crème fraîche (or heavy cream)
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper
white pepper
2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves (or one teaspoon dried)

1. Preheat the oven to 400.
2. Slice the leeks into thin circles and then rinse them thoroughly in water. Meanwhile, elt the butter in a skillet. Add the leeks and cook over medium heat until they are tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Beat the goat cheese and the egg in a mixer until blended. Add the milk, creme fraiche or cream, a pinch of salt and a pinch of white pepper. Put the leeks into the pie shell and then pour the custard over them, mixing a bit with a spoon or spatula so they are evenly distributed. Put the thyme on top of the part and bake for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Apple Peach Blueberry Pie

Quick, it's that magic time of year when you can get fresh, local apples, peaches, and blueberries. And there's nothing better than Apple Peach Blueberry Pie.

I created the recipe for Pi Day this past year, expanding upon my mom's delicious apple pie recipe. And let me tell you, while I loved this pie in March, it's a million times better with ingredients fresh off the tree!

Here's my recipe for Apple Peach Blueberry Pie:

6 to 8 apples (I like to use a variety of types, larger sized apples. If you use small apples, peel more like 10 to 12)
2 or 3 peaches
2/3 cup of blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons of butter (optional...I almost always forget it!)
2 pie crusts (make your own or buy from the refrigerator section...I won't tell!)


Peel apples and peaches and thinly slice into a large bowl. Add blueberries, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir gently to coat and let sit for at least ten minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place bottom pie crust into pie plate. Add all of the filling. Cut up the butter and dot around on top of the filling. Top with second pie crust. Cut vents in top.

Place aluminum foil around the edges of the pie to prevent burning. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and continue baking an additional 10 to 20 minutes until the pie is nicely browned.


For all you locals, we went to Parlee Farms to pick fruit. They are reasonably priced (we spent $39 for a peck of stone fruit and a 1/2 bushel of apples...over 30 lbs of apples, peaches, nectarine, and plums!) And, it's a lot of fun for kids with a hay ride out to the orchards, a small farm animal area, and a hay maze. They also have a nut-free bakery. It was such a joy to be able to buy a cookie for my son with nut allergies. And if that's not enough, they even had local fall strawberries in their farm stand. Local strawberries! In September! Yum.

Figured I'd pass along the recommendation since we had such a great time!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Raw Fruit/Vegetable Salads

The latest "raw food craze" has sparked my interest in preparing more fresh fruits & vegetables for my family. Due to concerns with the overall safety of the current food supply and the need for proper nutrition in my food allergic family, I can't go totally raw - yet I can incorporate some of the basic ideas. Growing up on a fruit & vegetable farm in Michigan, it was as much of a delight to pick a fresh juicy green bean and eat it raw as it was to eat a plump strawberry warm from the summer sun.

Purchasing local produce is as close as I'll get to my childhood lifestyle, though affordability and convenience are now also concerns. Moving into the fall season, I thought I'd share a couple of great fruit/vegetable salad combinations, that are perfect to make in the evening and send for lunches/snacks the next day. Feel free to experiment/substitute any kind of vegetable or fruit your CSA sends (i.e. shredded beets/zucchini/jicama for the carrots, pears for the apples, etc.), or add unsweetened shredded coconut or other dried fruit.

Apple/Carrot/Pineapple Salad:
3 crunchy apples, peeled or unpeeled, chopped into chunks (whatever size you prefer)
about 1 can pineapple chunks (fresh or canned in their own juice, drained)
about 4 carrots shredded in a food processor or sliced into thin strips
1/4 c. dried currants or raisins (any dried fruit would work)
1/2 - 1 green pepper, thinly sliced and chopped
optional: chopped walnuts, pecans or any kind of nut

Just mix everything together, it will keep overnight and for at least a day in the fridge. You could choose to put some sort of dressing on it if you wanted (yogurt dressing - yogurt, lemon, and honey), mayo, or a vinaigrette. My kids liked this plain with a little honey drizzled on top (I shred the carrots in my Cuisinart, it makes them much easier to eat for the younger ones, and I used canned pineapple so some of the juice was enough "dressing"). I had to leave off the nuts for the kids (allergic), but they are easy to add last if the adults want some extra protein.

Option for busy people (pictured above): Shred 3 carrots, 1 apple, and 1 green pepper in your Cuisinart food processor. Dump in a can of pineapple juice. I made this for my kids to eat in the car or on-the-run.

Dairy/Egg-Free Fresh Coleslaw:
1/2 head cabbage, shredded (I use my Cuisinart food processor)
1-2 carrots, shredded
1-2 apples, peeled, cut into chunks
1/2 c. raisins, dried currants or cranberries/dried cherries

1 T. rice milk
3 T. white vinegar
2 T. orange juice
1 t. honey
1 T. lemon juice
6 T. olive oil

Just whisk the dressing together and mix in to the vegetables.

Fresh Beet/Carrot Slaw (from Martha Stewart's, "Great Food Fast"...a great cookbook arranged by season):
1 pound raw beets (shredded in food processor)
2 carrots (shredded)

1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1 T. olive oil
1 T. honey
3/4 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. ground coriander
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/8 t. cayenne

Just mix up the dressing and add to the vegetables. I adjust the spices in the dressing for my kids, but otherwise, this is a fun way to eat beets (though perhaps slightly messy).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Robust End-of-the-Summer Spaghetti

Our summer is winding down now, and we probably had our last visit the Kendall Square Farmers' Market last week.  We're heading off on vacation tomorrow, and once back will fall into the crazy routine of school, activities, and work, which will leave less time for trips to farmers' markets and cooking complicated meals.  I'll still try to get a post up here and there, and hopefully my fellow bloggers will continue sharing recipes as well.

I chose to make this recipe from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison.  I made a few modifications. I left out the anchovies, since we don't eat fish.  I also discovered after broiling all the eggplant that just-broiled eggplant tastes really, really good, so not all the eggplant made it to the dish.  I also thought the dish needed more protein, so added in a can of white beans.  

The dish was fairly easy to make, although it was time consuming.  If I did it again, I'd probably broil the vegetables in the morning, since they would have kept well.  I was wondering how the vegetables would combine with the olives, and whether the white beans would fit in, but it all came together quite nicely and made for a good meal.  I doubled the recipe so that we'd have lots of leftovers, but I never got to eat any leftovers since they disappeared from the fridge, so I guess it was a popular dish.

Something very strange happened when I was broiling the eggplant, though.  When I took out the second batch, parts of it were a fluorescent blue color.  It was perfectly fresh and cut right before it went in.  It looked like the blue-ness had somehow seeped from the pores of the eggplant.  I've done some googling to see if this is normal, but haven't found any information, so if anyone knows why some slices of my eggplant turned partially blue, I would love to hear the explanation.  I took a picture, since it seemed to need documentation, but I swear it was even bluer in real life.  (My son was doing watercolors in the next room at the time, so there's a slight chance there was some paint contamination, but I couldn't figure out how that could have possibly happened.)  

I just googled again and found this link about garlic turning blue, and googled again and found that eggplant also contains arthrocyanin, so perhaps I have answered my own question.  What did we do before Google when our food turned mysterious colors?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Barley, Kale, and Kidney Bean Stew

Rachel had recommended this recipe in the comments, and I wanted to give another recipe a try from the book Vegetarian Planet.  I hadn't yet cooked with kale this summer, and this looked like a pretty hearty dish.  Here is a link to the recipe.

We tend to enjoy lots of stew for leftovers, and were expecting guests for dinner, so I doubled the recipe.  The kale and carrots were both from the farmers' market, but I had to substitute in some baby carrots since my kids insisted on eating raw carrots while hopping around the kitchen like bunny rabbits, and that was hard to say no to!

There's a warning in the book not to oversalt, so I was careful to undersalt so that everyone could adjust according to their taste preferences.  The stew was good, and the barley was a nice change of pace for a grain.  One of our guests suggested adding more kidney beans, since they brought a lot of flavor to the dish, but there didn't seem to be enough of them.  It was quite easy to prepare, especially if chopping is done in advance.  Even though kale is in season now, it felt like more of a fall/winter dish.  I might make it again at some point, but I wasn't excited enough about it for it to be part of our regular meal rotation.

In addition to the stew, we also had some fried squash blossoms with dinner, following WhatACard's recipe here.  I'm sort of terrified of deep frying, but they came out really good, though were sort of luke-warm by the time they got to the table.  I didn't read that I was supposed to leave the stems on until I had already taken them off, which would have made them a little easier to handle in the scary hot oil.  The rest of it was pretty straightforward, though it did take a good amount of prep for such a small part of the meal.  My picture isn't nearly as pretty as the one posted earlier, but here's what they looked like.