Monday, 28 February 2011

Moosewood Mondays: Kasha Pilaf

Forget chicken and rice, just for this week. Let's give rice the week off and try a few new grain options, like kasha. No, not Kashi. That's breakfast cereal. Kasha is roasted buckwheat groats and has an earthy, nutty flavour that you won't find in your regular rice offerings. Kasha also has the wonderful trait of being quite quick to cook up, in case you are pressed for time.

This week we made a delicious kasha pilaf from the Moosewood Collective to go with our roast chicken, instead of regular old rice or spuds. The pilaf gave the meal a unique and exotic flair while adding fibre and nutritional content.

From Vitalife:
Kasha Nutritional Information

Kasha is a porridge commonly eaten in Eastern Europe. In English, kasha generally refers to buckwheat groats, but in Slavic countries, kasha refers to porridge in general, and can be made from any cereal, especially buckwheat, wheat, barley, oats, and rye. It is one of the oldest known dishes in the Slavic cuisines of the Eastern European cuisine, at least a thousand years old. The kasha used in the Aztec Power Food cereals is made from buckwheat groats.

Kasha may look and taste like a grain or cereal, but it's actually derived from the seeds of buckwheat, a fruit that belongs to the same family as rhubarb and sorrel. Because it is not a grain it is gluten free, making it suitable for people with gluten intolerance or allergies.

Buckwheat is cholestral free and it is almost fat free. Buckwheat tends to lower blood glucose.

Kasha is closer to being a complete protein than other plant sources, including soybeans. It contains all eight essential amino acids in good proportion. In particular, kasha contains significant amounts of the amino acid lysine, which makes it unique as a grain substitute. Lysine is typically lacking in most true grains.

Buckwheat is high in iron so traditionally, it's used by pregnant women to fight the pregnancy anemia.

Kasha is full of B vitamins and is rich in phosphorous, potassium, iron and calcium. One cup of buckwheat kasha kernels contains more than 20% of the recommended daily intake of fibre.

1 cup of cooked kasha provides approximately 155 calories, 5.7 grams protein, 4.5 grams fibre, 1 gram of fat, 1.3 mg iron, no cholesterol and negligible sodium. A 3/4-cup serving provides about 15% of the adult daily requirement for fiber. 
Chicken was rubbed with Chinese 5-spice, orange zest, kosher salt, black pepper and olive oil before roasting
Kasha Pilaf
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

  •     1¼ cup chopped onions
  •     1 cup diced celery
  •     4 cloves garlic; minced
  •     1 tb canola oil
  •     1 cup kasha; (roasted buckwheat)
  •     1 1/3 cup water
  •     1 cup carrots; peeled and diced
  •     2 cup sliced mushrooms
  •     1/4 cup dry red wine
  •     2 tbsp soy sauce
  •     2 tsp dill weed or 2 Tbsp fresh dill
  •     Ground black pepper
  •     Dill or parsley for garnish
  •     Fresh tomato wedges for garnish, optional

In a large skillet, saute the onions, celery, and garlic in the oil for about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the kasha and saute for another minute to lightly toast it. Pour in the water, add the carrots, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, red wine, soy, and dill. Cover and cook on low heat until the liquid is absorbed and the kasha and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add pepper to taste. Serve garnished with dill or parsley sprigs and tomato wedges. Serve hot as side dish, main dish, or as stuffing for tomatoes, bell peppers, or winter squash.


Sunday, 27 February 2011

Light Wheat Sammich Buns

Enjoy every sandwich.
Warren Zevon

Yes, by all means, enjoy every sandwich. Sammiches are the perfect vehicle for last night's leftovers and require little in the way of cutlery. But you do have an opportunity here, to make your sandwich a little more body-friendly by adding whole wheat to the equation. No, don't worry, not so much that it will weigh down the bun or, heaven forbid, overtake the flavour of the fillings. I am talking a light wheat here. With enough white flour to give it loft and mildness. And enough whole grain to give you a happy tummy. See? Everyone's happy.
Especially if you also make some awesome burgers to go with these buns, or happen to have some leftover pork loin with that garlic-balsamic from yesterday. That's the stuff. Delicious.

Happy baking!
Light Wheat Sammich Buns
adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman, Bread

The night before:

Pâté Fermentée
Bread flour- 8 oz
Water- 5.2 oz
Salt- 1 tsp
Instant yeast- 1/8 tsp

Disperse yeast in water, mix in flour and salt. Add water by drops if needed to create a cohesive dough. Cover and let rest on the counter while you get your beauty sleep.

The next day

Good morning! You look great. Ready for day two?

Whole wheat flour- 1lb
Bread flour- 8 oz
Water- 1 lb, 0.6 oz
Salt- 2 tsp
Instant yeast- 1¼ tsp
Honey- 1 oz
Pâté Fermentée - all (that stuff you made last night)

Combine the flours, water, salt, yeast and honey in your stand mixer on low for 3 minutes until incorporated. Add the pâté fermentée in chunks and mix on second speed for 5 minutes until fully dispersed and well kneaded. Empty dough out onto a lightly floured surface and finish up the kneading into a smooth ball. Place in a bowl and allow to rise, covered, for one hour. Fold the dough in onto itself and let rise another hour.
Divide dough into 12 evenly sized pieces and roll each into a ball. Smush down with the palm of your hand and place each smushed ball onto baking sheets lined with parchment or silicone.
Cover and let rise one hour.
Half way through the  rising, turn oven on to 450°F to preheat.
Lightly mist buns with water.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until nicely browning on top.
Let cool on wire racks.
Make awesome sammiches for you and your friends.

This bread has been Yeastspotted!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Roasted Pork Loin with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette and Braised Greens with Smoky Bacon

Here piggy, piggy, piggy!

What goes best with pork? More pork, of course!

This pork loin is made super flavourful with the addition of a roasted garlic vinaigrette featuring mouthwatering balsamic vinegar, but it is also complemented beautifully by the smoky bacon in the greens.

Hey, you have to eat your veggies - and if they have bacony goodness in them? All the better!

And since we should probably have at least as many veggies as we do pork products, I lightly seasoned some thickly sliced fennel and threw it right in with the loin to roast along and absorb all those beautiful juices. Have you ever had roasted fennel? This is your opportunity. It turns into candy, I swear. You will be stealing it off your mate's plate as soon as they aren't looking. And Honey, if you are reading this, of course I would never do that to you. ☺  
Ahem. Let's get to the recipes, shall we?

Roasted Pork Loin with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
*Note - Giada uses a loin roast here, I had the long tenderloins, so I seasoned, seared, and roasted them all in the same awesome cast iron frying pan until done to my liking. Cast iron frying pans are a cook's best friends (that and the wine, and the stand mixer...) Make sure you have at least an 8-inch and a 12-inch in your kitchen ensemble. 

Roasted Garlic:


    * 2 heads garlic
    * 2 tablespoons olive oil
    * Salt

Pork Loin:

    * 1 (3 1/2 to 4 1/2-pound) boneless pork loin
    * Salt
    * Freshly ground black pepper


Roasted garlic, recipe follows

    * 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
    * 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
    * 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    * 1 teaspoon sugar
    * 1 teaspoon salt
    * 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    * 2 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

For the Roasted Garlic:

Cut the bulbs of garlic in half crosswise into a top and bottom. Place the garlic halves on a sheet of foil, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Fold the foil up and around the garlic halves, making sure they stay flat. Seal the foil into an airtight package. Roast until golden and soft, about 60 minutes. Keep the garlic in the foil and let cool slightly.

For the Pork:

Place the pork loin in a medium, heavy roasting pan. Season all sides with salt and pepper. Place the pork in the oven 30 minutes after the garlic has started roasting. Roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 140 to 145 degrees F, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, tent the pork loin with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes.

For the vinaigrette:

Remove the garlic from the foil. Remove the cloves by squeezing the base of the garlic. Place the garlic, parsley, and balsamic vinegar in a blender. Pulse the machine until blended. Drizzle the oil into the blender while the machine is running. Add the sugar, salt, pepper, and water and blend until incorporated.

To serve:

Slice the pork into 3/4-inch thick slices and transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the pork and pass the remaining vinaigrette alongside the pork in a small dish.

Braised Greens with Smoky Bacon
Recipe adapted from Michael Symon


    * 8 ounces slab bacon, cut into lardons
    * 3 tablespoons duck fat or lard
    * 2 cloves garlic, sliced
    * 2 shallots, sliced
    * 2 fresno chiles, seeded and sliced
    * 1 pound hardy greens, such as Swiss chard, collards, rapini, or beet greens, stems trimmed
    * 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
    * Salt and freshly ground pepper
    * 2 tbsp honey


Heat a 6-quart casserole over medium heat. Add the bacon and duck fat and cook for five minutes to render the fat from the bacon. Add the garlic, shallot, and chiles and cook until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add the greens, reduce the heat to low, add the vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Cook the greens down until they're tender, about ½ hour. Drizzle with the honey and mix well.

Plated for a dinner for two

Friday, 25 February 2011

Bal's Quick and Healthy Indian

Bal's Quick and Healthy Indian
Bal Arneson
Softcover, 208 pages

Bal Arneson is a Canadian cook and television personality who can be seen on Canada's Food Network as well as the U.S.'s Cooking Channel. She came here almost two decades ago from a small village in the Punjab and has made Western Canada her home. There she teaches her unique fusion of Indian flavours and western ingredients. With a passion for healthy yet lively food, she balances flavour, fun, and diversity in this, her second cookbook.

This is a family cookbook, with kid-friendly recipes like Masala Chicken Fingers with Mint and Mango Chutney and Zucchini and Cheese Quesadillas, as well as more traditional Indian fare and inspiring East-West fusion dishes.

The recipes are easy to follow and, as long as you have good access to spices, easy to find the ingredients for.

In our KitchenPuppy test kitchen, we whipped up her Avocado and Chickpea Salad, combining two of my favourite superfoods with earthy Indian spices - delicious!

Avocado and Chickpea Salad
The first time I tried avocado was here in North America. I was intrigued by its creaminess, and I suspected it would go well with Indian spices and with chickpeas.

To grind cumin and cardamom, I use a coffee grinder set aside for this purpose. With cardamom, I remove the seeds from the pod and just use the seeds. I prefer green cardamom to black.

Serves 4

Avocados are a good source of dietary fiber, health-promoting monounsaturated fats, vitamin C, and potassium (good for preventing muscle cramps). Once I learned all this I began using them on a regular basis in my cooking.


2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil

1 Tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice

1 Tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped ginger

½ tsp (2 mL) ground cardamom

¼ tsp (1 mL) ground cumin

¹⁄8 tsp (0.5 mL) Spanish paprika

¹⁄8 tsp (0.5 mL) salt


4 avocados, sliced

14 oz (398 mL) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

¼ cup (60 mL) finely chopped green onion

1. To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, ginger, cardamom, cumin, paprika, and salt in a small bowl and mix well.

2. Combine the avocados, chickpeas, and green onion in a large bowl and toss gently. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad and toss to thoroughly coat the ingredients.

We also whipped up the Spiced Sweet Potatoes Cooked with Split Red Lentils, great source of fibre and very tasty with brown basmati rice and a salad. I did find that I had lentils left over, but they were wonderful in a wrap with some sautéed greens.

Spiced Sweet Potatoes Cooked with Split Red Lentils
In my kitchen I cook with lentils, chickpeas, and beans very frequently. There is really no end to what you can do with them. The best part of this recipe is the spices that form a nice crust on the sweet potatoes.

Serves 4


3 cups (750 mL) split red lentils (masoor dhal)

6 cups (1.5 L) water

½ tsp (2 mL) salt

1 tsp (5 mL) ground turmeric

Spiced sweet potatoes

2 Tbsp (30 mL) grapeseed oil

1 Tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped ginger

1 Tbsp (15 mL) cumin seeds

1 Tbsp (15 mL) Ginger Masala (page 8)

½ tsp (2 mL) coriander seeds, crushed

½ tsp (2 mL) mustard seeds

10 to 12 curry leaves

¹⁄8 tsp (0.5 mL) salt

1 small sweet potato, peeled and cubed

½ cup (125 mL) water

1. To prepare the lentils, place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft, about 15 to 18 minutes.

2. To prepare the spiced sweet potatoes, heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the ginger and cook for 10 seconds. Add the cumin seeds, Ginger Masala, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves, and salt and cook for 5 seconds. Stir in the sweet potato and water. Bring to a boil and turn the heat to low and simmer, stirring regularly, until the sweet potato is tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.

3. To serve, add the cooked sweet potatoes to the lentils and mix them gently. Enjoy over rice or with rotis.

Bal's Quick and Healthy Indian - Definitely healthy, definitely delicious!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got that Zing

I know what you are thinking: But Natashya, my super-awesome barbecue is the star of the show, the potato salad is merely a mild mannered sidekick. 

Sure, spuds are there when you need them, propping up your otherwise fantabulous meal and asking little of the limelight themselves. But they are stronger than you think -  they can handle the heat, and even the glory.

This week, let's kick those spuds up a notch (sorry Emeril) and let humble potato salad be the dish that blows you away. And who better to put fire in something so pedestrian as a potato salad? Mr. Bobby Flay of course.

Take it away Bobby!

Mesa Grill's Southwestern Potato Salad
Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay

    8 servings


    * 1 1/2 cups prepared mayonnaise
    * 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
    * 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    * 2 tablespoons chipotle pepper puree
    * 1 large ripe tomato, seeded and diced
    * 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
    * 3 scallions, chopped, white and green parts
    * 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced (I omitted)
    * 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
    * 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    * Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    * 16 new potatoes, about 3 to 4 pounds, cooked, drained and sliced 1/2-inch thick (I used Yukon Golds)

Combine all the ingredients, except the potatoes, in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place warm potatoes in a large bowl and pour the mixture over potatoes and mix well. Season again with salt and pepper, to taste.

Seriously sexy spuds

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Pane Nero: Rye Bread from Bolzano

Ever get a craving for a certain kind of sandwich, say, because the eggman inexplicably left two flats of eggs at your doorstep instead of the usual one? Yep, egg salad it is. Just in time too, I had a craving. But to have a simple egg salad sandwich, you have to have the right bread. I like a light rye, a bit of bite and attitude, without overwhelming the filling.

This recipe starts with a sponge, a pre-ferment that gets all nice and yeasty and excited while you go on with other tasks, like sleeping and trying to figure out what to do with sixty eggs.

Easy to put together, this pane nero is the perfect vehicle for my egg salad sandwich. Hey, between that and the omelettes yesterday, that's half a flat down!
bbd #37 - Bread made with sponge or pre-ferment hosted by Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen
Pane Nero
Rye Bread from Bolzano
adapted from Carol Field, The Italian Baker
You can taste a strong German influence in the dark rye of Bolzano, just as the city, tight against the high Alps near the border of the country, is still at least as Middle European as it is Italian. Street signs and shop names are in both German and Italian, and the alpine look of the architecture is a continual reminder that the city was part of the south Tirol of Austria before World War 1. Rye thrives in these cold northern regions where wheat cannot grow. This bread is traditionally flavoured with caraway seeds and put to rise in bannetons. 
Rye breads are always made with some wheat flour so that they will rise nicely, for there isn't much gluten in rye flour to hold the bubbles of fermenting gasses. Because rye always makes sticky doughs, be prepared with your dough scraper at hand.
Makes 2 loaves

4¼ tsp active dry yeast or 30 grams fresh
1½ cups warm water
2 cups plus 2 tsp (250 grams) rye flour
Stir the yeast into the water in your stand mixer bowl. Let stand 10 minutes until lively. Stir in flour until completely incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 3 hours or up to overnight. The longer it ferments, the stronger the taste will be.

1 cup water, room temperature
1 Tbsp malt syrup
2 cups plus 2 tsp (250 grams) rye flour
3¾ cups (500 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp slat
2½ tsp caraway seeds
Mix all the ingredients, including the sponge, in a stand mixer on low until fully incorporated. Mix on medium for 3 minutes and then move to a lightly floured board to finish kneading. Shape into a boule and let rise, covered, until doubled in shape - 1½-2½ hours.
Divide in two and shape into oval loaves, roll in cornmeal lightly and let rise, covered, until doubled - about 1½ hours.
Preheat oven with baking stone to 425°F.
Slash loaves with a lame.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Cool on racks.

This bread has been Yeastspotted!
Bread Baking Day #37 - Bread made with sponge or pre-ferment (last day of submission March 1st, 2011)

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Dust the Snow off that Grill - It is Time to Get Grilling!

Everyday Grilling
50 Recipes from Appetizers to Desserts

by Sur La Table
Hardcover, 144 pages

It's been a long and temperamental winter so far. Freeze/thaw/sun/wind/snow.. always keeping us on our toes. And indoors. But don't fret, spring is indeed on the horizon - sooner for some than others. Certain rodents have been coaxed out of their homes and interviewed extensively. They all agree on one thing: At some point winter will be over.

Can you feel it? I can. I am already looking at garden magazines (this time I will be better, I promise!) and I am really excited about grilling again. Yes, we Canadians can be found grilling in the depths of snow. But not often. We like to at least wait until just about now, just when the promises of spring tempt us from our homes, blinking and gasping in the sunlight. It's time.

Sur la Table has come out with the perfect little book to inspire you to dust that grill off and put it to good use. There's a little bit of everything in this book; Appetizers, Salads and Sandwiches, Vegetables, Main Dishes, and even Desserts! The portable size makes the book perfect for toting to the cottage and even makes for a great host or hostess gift.

I'm really looking forward to trying the Grilled Pattypan Squash with Chorizo and Cotija Cheese, the Wood-Grilled Brie Burgers wtih Grilled Onions and Fresh Tomato Relish, and even the Tropical Fruit Kebabs with Honeyed Crème Fraîche.

In our KitchenPuppy grill, we made the Stir-Grilled Chicken, Mushrooms, and Baby Bok Choy in Oyster Sauce - what a revelation, stir-grilling! We broke out the grill wok (perforated for the grill) that we got at an end-of season sale last year, and made this delicious dish. Amazing the depth of flavour cooking it on the grill gave.
And, speaking of depth of flavour - we whipped up the Grilled Pound Cake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce. Wow, I have never thought to grill pound cake before - it really brings out the flavour! This became a new instant favourite with my husband.
All in all we found this book to be very inspiring, and very tasty!

Stir-Grilled Chicken, Mushrooms, and Baby Bok Choy in Oyster Sauce
Serves 4


Oyster Sauce
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons chicken broth
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon peanut oil

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pound baby bok choy, cut in half lengthwise
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
½ fresh red chile, seeded and sliced
Steamed rice for serving

With steamed rice, this stir-grilled dish makes a wonderful meal. Stir-grilling involves marinating foods, then stirring them with wooden paddles or spoons as they cook in a grill wok to a caramelized finish.

1. To make the sauce, combine the garlic, ginger, chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, and peanut oil in a large bowl. Add the chicken, bok choy, mushrooms, and chile and toss to blend. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

2. Prepare a very hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to high (450° to 500°F). Oil the inside of a grill wok.

3. Place the grill wok on the grill grate. Add the chicken mixture to the grill wok. Cover the grill and let cook for 2 minutes. Stir the mixture with wooden paddles or a long-handled wooden spoon, cover, and cook again for 2 minutes. At 2-minute intervals, stir, cover, and cook for 10 more minutes or until the chicken is opaque and firm.

4. Transfer the stir-grilled food to a serving bowl. Serve atop steamed rice.

As you can see, my fruit is a mixed bag of summer fruits that I froze last year. The rhubarb and strawberries aren't up here yet. But they will be soon! So much to look forward to. ☺
Grilled Pound Cake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce
Serves 8


Pound Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for preparing the pan
2 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for preparing the pan
½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce
1 pint strawberries, cored and quartered lengthwise
½ pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
6 to 8 tablespoons sugar

Vanilla ice cream

Many fans of pound cake know that toasting it heightens the cake’s buttery flavor. Grilling works the same magic, so when you have the grill going for a summer dinner, why not grill dessert, too? Be sure to brush the grill rack clean first.

1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan with butter. Coat the bottom and sides with flour and shake out the excess.

2. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar gradually, beating constantly until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice, then beat in the lemon zest and poppy seeds. On low speed, add the dry ingredients gradually, beating just until blended. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, spreading it evenly.

4. Bake until the cake is firm to the touch and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 1¼ hours. A cake tester inserted in the middle should come out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes, then invert onto a rack. Invert again so the top is up and finish cooling on the rack.

5. To make the strawberry-rhubarb sauce, put the berries, rhubarb, orange juice, and 6 tablespoons sugar in a medium saucepan. Set over moderate heat and heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Cover, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit softens and forms a sauce, about 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on the saucepan, reducing the heat if the mixture threatens to bubble over. Cool slightly, then taste and add more sugar if desired. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill thoroughly.

6. Prepare a moderately hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium-high (375° to 400°F). Cut the ends off the cake, then cut the cake into 8 equal slices. Grill directly over the coals or gas flame, turning once, until lightly toasted on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.

7. Put about 1/3 cup of the sauce on each dessert plate. Top with a slice of toasted cake and a scoop of ice cream. Serve immediately.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Moosewood Mondays: Lentil and Barley Salad with Curried Mango Yogurt Dressing

I don't know what happened. One day I was young and cute... What? Okay, it was a long time ago and very brief, but it happened. During those halcyon days I could eat anything. Really. I had the iron stomach of youth.

Now I can eat.. many things. But I also have to think about my insides. Seriously. Each and every part of your interior introduces itself when you reach a certain age and you must make sure to please all those parts. Don't worry, you can still have ice cream and burgers.. you just have to balance them well with healthy foods. You know, foods that will love you back.

The Moosewood books are great resources for such body-loving foods and this week we made the super-healthy lentil salad, that I made into a perfect protein by adding barley to. It makes a great meal all on its own and is perfect lunch-box fare. Try it yourself! Your body, and taste buds, will thank you.

Lentil and Barley Salad with Curried Mango Yogurt Dressing
adapted from Moosewood Low-Fat Favorites

¾ cups green lentils
¾ cups barley
1 cup onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups water
1 large tomato, chopped
3 ribs celery, sliced
1 small red onion, halved and sliced thin - soaked in ice water for 10 minutes, then drained

Curried Mango Yogurt Dressing
1 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons prepared mango chutney
1½ teaspoons curry powder
Juice of one lime

1. In a saucepan, combine lentils, barley, white onions, garlic, and water. Cover, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30-40 minutes until barley and lentils are tender but not mushy.

2. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, celery, and red onions in nonreactive bowl. When barley and lentils are cooked, drain and add them while hot to the bowl. Stir and set aside at room temperature for 15 minutes.

3. In a separate bowl, combine all of the yogurt dressing ingredients. Stir the dressing into the barley and lentils and serve on a bed of baby greens.


Sunday, 20 February 2011

Braised Chicken Thighs with Olives and Orange

Last night we gave bananas the night off and got all our potassium from dates. Tonight we are giving lemons the night off and getting our citrus fix with orange. Now is the time to use them, while they are still fairly inexpensive.

This chicken dish is tagine-like in its preparation, indeed if you are feeling brave serve it with some harissa for heat. I have paired it with a simple green salad tossed with an orange dressing to emphasize the orange theme and some brown basmati rice for a fragrant and delicious bed to soak up all those yummy juices.
This recipe will take some time, but most of it will be spent getting all soft and fall-apart-y in the oven. Perfect for Sunday dinner!

Braised Chicken Thighs with Olives and Orange
adapted from Michael Symon
for Michael Symon Sundays

12 bone-in chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted and ground
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup olive oil, or more as needed
1 medium red onion, halved and sliced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 fresno chili, seeded and sliced
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup fresh orange juice
3 cups chicken stock
12 black oil-cured olives, pitted and chopped
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chestnut honey
1 cup toasted sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 225F.

Put a 6-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt, pepper, and the coriander and then dredge in the flour, shaking off excess. Add the oil to the Dutch oven. Working in batches if necessary, brown the thighs for about 2 minutes per side. Remove them to a large plate. Add the onion, garlic, chili, almonds, and a pinch of salt to the Dutch oven, and sauté until the vegetables and almonds begin to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine, orange juice, and stock, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Return the thighs to the Dutch oven and bring the liquid to a simmer. Cover the pan, transfer to the oven, and braise for 3 hours, or until the meat is very tender.

Remove the thighs from the pot. Over medium heat, return the sauce to a simmer and whisk in the olives, parsley, and honey. Return the thighs to the pot to reheat and then serve.

Orange Viniagrette
adapted from Michael Symon

Juice and zest of one orange
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1Tbsp minced shallot
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a mason jar and shake vigorously. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Roasted Dates with Bacon, Almonds, and Chile

It's date night!

No, we are not getting dressed and going out. Don't be silly. We are old. And funny looking. And besides, it is cold out there.

Rather, I am dressing up these lovely dates for a fun and delicious appetizer or accompaniment to a fabulous meal. They'd be great along with Moroccan food, or a great bottle of wine. Or, why not, both!

Dates are naturally sweet and high in fibre. They are also a great source of potassium. Give bananas the night off, it's date night!
Roasted Dates with Bacon, Almonds, and Chile
adapted from Michael Symon, original recipe here


2 cups pitted dates
4 strips thick cut bacon, finely diced (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Put the dates on a small rimmed baking sheet, bellies pressed in with your thumb to make little boats or shells for filling.

3. In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until it is crispy, about 5 minutes. Strain the excess fat. Add the almonds and red pepper flakes and continue cooking until they brown, a few minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add the butter, lemon juice and parsley. Remove from heat and let cool until comfortable to handle. Stuff into dates and roast for 5 minutes. Serve.