Koshary

I’ve been thinking a lot about Egypt lately since the news coming out of the Middle East is intense to say the least. Since, lately, the news has been all bad, I wanted to share something amazing to come out of Egyptian culture - Koshary. Koshary is a staple street food in Egypt and is beyond delicious.

"Koshary originated in the mid 19th century, during a time when Egypt was a multi-cultural country and the economy was booming. The lower-class’ usually limited pantry became full with a myriad of ingredients: lentils, rice, pasta, chickpeas, tomato sauce, onions, garlic, oil, etc. At the end of the month, families would usually have a little left of everything, so families would use it up by putting it all together into a tasty dish."*

This recipe is a little time consuming, but the results are worth it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 (14.5 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed**
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 (16 ounce) package ditalini pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups short-grain rice, rinsed
  • cold water, to cover
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown lentils
  • water, to cover
  • 1 pinch salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (14 ounce) can crushed tomatoes**
  • 1 tablespoon oil (canola, olive oil, vegan margarine)
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 (3 ounce) can French-fried onions
** I doubled the amount of chickpeas and crushed tomatoes and I think it was just the right amount. You can adjust that according to your taste.
 
Directions:
  1. Combine the chickpeas, vinegar, coriander, cayenne pepper, and cumin in a resealable bag or container with a tight-fitting lid. Store in refrigerator while prepping remainder of dish, shaking occasionally.
  2. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Cook the ditalani pasta in the boiling water until cooked through yet firm to the bite, about 8 minutes; drain and set aside.
  3. Combine the rice with enough cold water to cover; allow to soak for 20 minutes. Drain.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the lentils with enough water to cover in a pot; season with salt and pepper. Bring the lentils to a boil and cook at a boil until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat; cook and stir the onion and garlic in the hot oil until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, reduce heat to medium-low, and maintain at a simmer while preparing remainder of dish.
  6. Add the oil to a pot over medium-high heat. Add the rice to the oil, increase heat to high, and fry for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour the vegetable stock over the rice; bring to a boil. Season the rice mixture with salt and pepper, reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and cook until rice is tender, and the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  7. Mix the rice and lentils together on a large serving platter. Spread the cooked ditalani over the rice and lentil mixture. Serve with the marinated chickpeas, the tomato sauce, and the French-fried onions as condiments.

* From Wikipedia

via: All Recipes

Chocolate Wacky Cake

There is a lot of marriage-related news happening this week which, in addition to my wedding anniversary coming up in a few days, warrants a quick story about the wedding cake my wife and I had at our big event.

Several of our friends had recommended an older woman to us who was a cake baker who lived out in the country. She had been making wedding cakes out of her home for years and years and was said to be a true artist. We set up an appointment to meet with her one afternoon and when we arrived, she warmly greeted us with a book of beautiful cake photos in hand. She had jumped right in to some ideas and options when I stopped her and said that we were actually looking for a “vegan” cake and asked if that would that be possible. The blank stare seemed to imply that she wasn’t familiar with the term. I explained that, while we didn’t want to interfere with her process, we didn’t want any animal products at all in the cake. She gave me a long stare before her eyes lit up and she said, “Wait, you mean a wacky cake? I haven’t made one of those in years!”

Turns out, during the Great Depression era, animal products were expensive and hard to come by. By World War II, food rationing was also to blame. A popular cake recipe was passed around that used inexpensive ingredients as replacements, making it completely vegan. This timeless recipe is known as “depression cake” or “wacky cake”.

Once we all were on the same page with the ingredients, we picked out some colors and sizes and gave her many thanks as we went on our way. Sure enough, when the cake arrived at our wedding, it was absolutely beautiful, very delicious and came with a little bit of history, too!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together by hand.  Add all the wet ingredients until well combined.  Pour into a 8×8 pan which has been prepared with non stick spray.
  2. Bake for 30 minutes or until done.  Allow to completely cool before serving. Cake is even better if eaten the next day.  Enjoy!
  3. Optional: top it off with a dusting of powdered sugar or your favorite frosting.

via: Savory Sweet Life

French Picnic Lentil Salad

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups water
  • 2 cups French green (Puy) lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 small celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Directions:

  1. Place the water, lentils and bay leaf in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt and continue simmering for 8-10 more minutes, or until lentils are tender but still hold their shape.
  2. While the lentils are simmering, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the celery, carrots, garlic, onion, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent, 5-7 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly, until vinaigrette is thoroughly blended.
  4. When lentils are done cooking, drain into a colander and discard bay leaf. Add lentils and vinaigrette to the pan with the cooked vegetables and stir to mix. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature. Leftovers will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

Notes:

  • Brown lentils can be used in place of French green lentils. Start checking for doneness a few minutes earlier.
  • This recipe can easily be halved, but the salad keeps so well and makes such an excellent lunch or snack, it’s worth making the full amount.
via: Eat Your Greens

Quick and Easy: Creamy Tomato Mushroom Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 servings of pasta
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8-oz sliced mushrooms (2-3 cups)
  • 1-1.5 cups canned diced tomatoes, to taste
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/4-1/3 cup nutritional yeast, to taste
  • 1.5 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt, or to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in your pasta and cook until Al dente, about 7-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Sauté the garlic and onion in the olive oil for about 5 minutes, or until translucent.
  3. Stir in the sliced mushrooms and diced tomato and cook for another 8-10 minutes or so over medium-high heat, until some of the water cooks off.
  4. Stir in the fresh basil, nutritional yeast, tomato paste, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes. Add salt to taste. Simmer for another 5 minutes or so and adjust seasonings to taste if desired.
  5. Drain pasta and add back into the pot. Stir in the pasta sauce, heat, and serve immediately with garlic or crusty bread if you’d like.

Mall Pretzels

Ah, summertime. I’m sure we all have fond memories of swimming pools, bike rides, and of course, soft pretzels at the mall! At least we can enjoy one of the three while sitting behind a desk at work …

Ingredients (makes 6):

  • ¾ cup warm water (110°F)
  • 1 ¼ tsp of active dry yeast (half of a .25 ounce package)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm water (110°F)
  • 2 tbsp baking soda (for soaking)
  • ½ tbsp vegan margarine or other oil, melted
  • coarse kosher salt (or pretzel salt)
  • mustard, for dipping (optional)

Directions:

  1. Pour ¾ cup warm water into a mixing bowl. Dissolve yeast, brown sugar, and salt into the water. Stir in flour. When mixture comes together, dump onto a floured surface. Knead dough about 8 minutes, until smooth. Pour a few drops of olive oil into mixing bowl; place dough in and turn to coat surface. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  2. When dough is ready, cut into 6 pieces. Roll each into ½ inch thick ropes. Shape pretzels by forming a U, then twisting ends and flipping over onto itself, gently pressing overlapping dough to seal. Let rise for 15 minutes.
  3. Fill a bowl with 1 cup warm water. Add baking soda and stir. Soak each pretzel for 30 seconds, flipping over halfway through if not fully submerged. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with margarine or oil and sprinkle coarse salt over top. (If you prefer sweet pretzels, use cinnamon sugar instead of salt.) Bake at 450°F for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

via: Elephantine

Tomato Salad: sour, sweet and spicy

This summer is the first time I’ve been able to get a proper garden up and running. It’s not for a lack of trying, but more a lack of decent sunlight. I recently moved to a new home a few months back and now have a great garden spot full of sunshine. One of the first things in the ground was an array of tomato and pepper plants, so I was really excited to get this submission from Tumblr user Cucsusoon so I can put them to good use in a few weeks. Thanks for the great recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 5 - 6 tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper (yellow makes for a great look)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 - 4 dried apricots
  • 1 pinch of chili powder
  • 1 pinch of salt and sugar each
  • 2 - 3 tbsp olive oil (or other oil if preferred)
  • 3 - 4 tbsp vinegar (tastes best if it’s a mix between generic wine and balsamic vinegar)

Directions:

  1. Finely chop the onion, the dried apricots and the garlic.
  2. Add a pinch of chili powder (or more, if you like it spicier), then a pinch of salt and sugar each.
  3. Add the oil and the vinegar and stir the mix which is the salad’s dressing.
  4. Cut both the pepper and the tomatoes in rather small pieces and add them to the already prepared dressing mix.

Note: The salad tastes even better if you leave it for 10 - 15 minutes after preparing it because the tomatoes and pepper will have already absorbed some of the dressing. The salad can also be used as a sort of BBQ sauce if the ingredients are either cut into tiny pieces or even mashed.

via: Cucsusoon

Moroccan Vegetable Tagine

Ingredients:
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 3 tbsp coriander seeds
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
  • 3 1/2 ounces ginger, grated 
  • 1 red chili, seeded and chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 cans tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, halved and sliced
  • 2 fennel bulbs, cut into batons
  • 1 celeriac root, cut into batons (sub turnip or other root vegetable)
  • 1/2 bunch spinach
  • handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 4-5 dates, chopped
  • 1/4 preserved lemon peel, chopped (or just some lemon juice and zest)

Directions:

  1. Toast the cinnamon sticks, cloves and seeds in a dry frying pan until their aroma rises. Grind finely using a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a heavy saucepan and stir the spices, including the turmeric, in it briefly. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes, then add the ginger, chili and garlic. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the flavours are well blended. Add the tomatoes, dates and all the vegetables, except the spinach. Cover the pan and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes
  3. Fold the spinach and cilantro into the vegetable tagine, season to taste. Sprinkle with preserved lemons and serve over couscous (see below for an optional recipe).

Notes:

This makes a LOT so you might want to cut in in half on plan for leftovers. Also, try serving with some plain, soy yogurt if you want to cut the spice just a little.


Spicy Couscous

Ingredients:

  • 200g (7 oz) wholewheat couscous
  • 200 ml (6¾  oz) boiling water
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, each cut into 2 to 3 pieces
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp harissa (Tunisian hot chilli sauce)
  • 4 Tbsp water

Directions:

  1. Place the couscous in a heat-proof glass bowl, and cover with the boiling water.
  2. Place a lid on top, and allow the couscous to absorb the water –  for around 6 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small non-stick saucepan, pour the olive oil, and fry the garlic for a minute or so (don’t burn it).
  4. Next, add the tomato paste, and harissa. Lower the heat, add the water, and allow to cook for 10 minutes, stirring so that it won’t stick or burn.
  5. You will be left with a thick sauce – don’t be discouraged at the quantity, as this is highly concentrated.
  6. Now remove lid from the couscous, and pour the sauce over it. Fluff up with a fork, and garnish with orange pieces and freshly chopped parsley.

via: Treehugger and Mouthwatering Vegan (there’s another great tagine recipe there, too)

Curry-Coconut Popcorn Balls

Summer is around the corner here in the US and these popcorn balls would pack perfectly for a picnic at the park. You’ll want a candy thermometer for this one, but you can always follow the carefree Summer ethos and “wing it”. I’m sure it’ll work out fine!

Ingredients:

  • 9 cups plain popped popcorn
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sweetened angel flake coconut, toasted
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped candied ginger

Directions:

  1. Coat a large heatproof bowl with coconut oil or cooking spray and place popcorn in the bowl.
  2. Place sugar, corn syrup, water, vinegar, and salt in a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Place over high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Bring to a boil and cook until mixture registers 260°F on a candy/fat thermometer, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in coconut oil, curry powder, and vanilla until melted and smooth.
  3. Immediately drizzle sugar mixture over popcorn. Add coconut and ginger and stir continuously with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom of the bowl, until popcorn is thoroughly coated and cool enough to handle, about 3 minutes.
  4. Using oiled hands, tightly press mixture (it may still be a bit warm) into 3-inch rounds. Place on waxed or parchment paper to cool completely, about 15 to 20 minutes.

via: Chow.com

Focaccia With Tomatoes and Rosemary

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons (8 grams) active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) olive oil, plus an additional 2 tablespoons (25 grams) for drizzling
  • 250 grams (approximately 2 cups) whole-wheat flour
  • 200 to 220 grams (approximately 1 2/3 to 1 3/4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour, plus additional as needed for kneading
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons (13 grams) salt
  • 3/4 pound Roma tomatoes
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (to taste)

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, or in a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water. Add the olive oil, whole-wheat flour, 200 grams of the all-purpose flour and salt and mix together briefly using the paddle attachment. Change to the dough hook and beat for 8 to 10 minutes at medium speed, adding flour as necessary. The dough should eventually form a ball around the dough hook and slap against the sides of the bowl as the mixer turns; it will be sticky. Remove from the bowl, flour your hands and knead for a minute on a lightly floured surface, and shape into a ball.
  2. If kneading the dough by hand, dissolve the yeast in the water with the sugar as directed. Stir in the olive oil, whole-wheat flour, salt and all-purpose flour by the half-cup, until the dough can be scraped out onto a floured work surface. Knead, adding flour as necessary, for 10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and smooth. Shape into a ball.
  3. Clean and dry your bowl and oil lightly with olive oil. Place the dough in it, rounded side down first, then rounded side up. Cover tightly with plastic and let rise in a warm spot for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or in the refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours, until doubled.
  4. Punch down the dough. Cover with lightly oiled plastic and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably with a baking stone in it. Line a sheet pan with parchment and oil generously. Roll or press out the dough into a rectangle the size of the sheet pan or just slightly smaller. To do this efficiently, roll or press out the dough, stop and wait 5 minutes for the gluten to relax, then roll or press out again, and repeat until the dough reaches the right size. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Just before baking, use your fingertips to dimple the dough all over.
  6. Cut the tomatoes into rounds and place on top of the focaccia. Sprinkle with coarse salt and the rosemary. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of olive oil over all.
  7. Bake, setting the pan on top of the baking stone (if using), for 20 to 25 minutes, until the bread is deep golden brown. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving, or allow to cool completely.

Note: You can divide the dough in half and make 2 smaller focacce that would fit 14-inch pizza pans.

Yield: 1 large focaccia or 2 smaller focacce, 12 to 15 pieces.

Advance preparation: You can make the dough through Step 4 and place it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Remove from the bag and bring to room temperature before proceeding. The bread should be eaten or frozen within a couple of days.

via: NY Times