Thursday, September 30, 2010

Okra and Chickpea Stew and my New Kitchen!

Guess what? I moved to San Francisco!

I live in the Haight, home of the Summer of Love and the Upper Haight Farmers' Market.

Here is the kitchen:
So I went to the farmers' market and bought some okra. Why not? I thought, this will give me a reason to look up a recipe for okra.

But smitten kitchen didn't have one.

And our blog didn't have one.

So I tried TasteSpotting, and I found this Okra and Chickpea Stew Recipe on a blog called Roti N Rice.

I didn't have a bunch of stuff in the recipe, so I'll note below what I substituted / skipped.

Okra and Chickpea Stew
12 oz okra, trimmed
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (I didn't bother rinsing or draining)
4 oz roasted lamb, cubed (I didn't have any lamb - omitted)
2 tomatoes, cubed (I had about 1 cup of cherry tomatoes)
2 tbsp tomato paste (didn't have any - omitted)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ tsp tumeric (didn't have any, so I used a combination of: garam masala, cumin, and chili powder)
2 tbsp olive oil
1½ cups water (didn't use any -- used the water from the chickpeas instead)

salt and pepper to taste In a heated pan, add 2 tsp olive oil. Sauté onions and garlic until soft. Add lamb, pepper, and tumeric. Cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste. Add chickpeas and water. Bring to a boil. Add okra, reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove and serve immediately with basmati rice.

even with all the omissions / substitutions, the recipe came out really good!


we ate it with a kale salad with pluot and pepperjack cheese.

it's like you're there!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

We made quinoa gratin with spinach and sweet potato

I saw this recipe a couple years ago in The New York Times. Except it didn't have sweet potatoes--just a simple quinoa, spinach, gruyere casserole that would make a good side dish. And then last week, Joey and Lauren were coming over for dinner on a gross, rainy day, and I wanted to make something warm and comforting. I thought of this recipe, and decided to add sweet potatoes in order to make it more of a main dish. It worked beautifully! In fact, I think it's a format you can use to make a lot of different quinoa-based casseroles. Quinoa+cheese+vegetable+some kind of spice or herb or something else to flavor it. Like, can you imagine this baby with BUTTERNUT SQUASH? and KALE or CHARD instead of spinach? And maybe some GOAT CHEESE?? Or what about EGGPLANT and some MOZZERELLA?!?!? The possibilities are endless.

Quinoa Gratin with Spinach and Sweet Potatoes (adapted from Baked Quinoa with Spinach and Cheese)


1 6-ounce bag baby spinach

A few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 or 5 sweet potatoes, skinned and sliced into medallions or half medallions, depending on the size

1 medium onion, chopped

2 plump garlic cloves, minced

4 cups cooked quinoa, (1 cup uncooked)

2 large eggs

3 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (3/4 cup)

1 teaspoons nutmeg

1 ounce Parmesan, grated (1/4 cup)


1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Oil a 2-quart gratin or baking dish.

2. Heat the oil in a medium frying pan or a wide saucepan over medium heat. Sautee the sweet potatoes slowly until tender enough that you can easily break the pieces with a wooden spoon. Remove from the pan and set aside.

3. Heat a little more olive oil ithe pan, and add the onion and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir with the onion until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the spinach and season with salt and pepper. Cook just until wilted. Remove from the heat.

4. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in the quinoa, the onion and spinach mixture, the sweet potatoes the Gruyère, and the nutmeg. Add freshly ground pepper and stir the mixture together. Scrape into the gratin dish. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top and drizzle on the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Place in the oven and bake until nicely browned on top, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to sit for about 5 minutes, and serve.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I made blueberry muffins!

Long time no post! Hi from sunny Austin, Texas everyone. Lately I've been cooking more (this is mostly inspired by my addiction to this season of Top Chef) and I'm going to let you in on a little secret: I'm not a great cook. What I am pretty good at is baking, so I'm having fun with that these days.

Recently I stumbled upon the blog Smitten Kitchen. Her recipe for perfect blueberry muffins really caught my eye so after another unsuccessful night of trying to cook an original and delicious dinner (sorry, husband), I opted to make dessert. Below is a slightly tweaked version (aka I didn't add lemon zest because I personally don't like it and I don't have a sifter so that didn't happen either but you can see the original here).

PERFECT BLUEBERRY MUFFINS! (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

3/4 cup plain non-fat yogurt

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with 10 paper liners or spray each cup with a nonstick spray. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well, then yogurt. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into batter. Mix just until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently fold in your blueberries. The dough might be thick so Smitten Kitchen lady suggests an ice cream scoop tool to fill your muffin cups [note: I didn't need one. A spoon was fine]. You’re looking for them to be about 3/4 full, nothing more, so you might only need 9 instead of 10 cups. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of muffins comes out clean.

The end result is beautiful, delicious and pretty dang perfect.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I made Paletas de Pepino con Limon y Chile (Cucumber Ice Pops With Lime & Chile)

A few weeks ago, during one of those really hot weeks, I got a lame summer cold! My throat really hurt, and I was drinking a lot of hot tea with lemon, honey, and cayenne pepper. The heat+spice felt really good on my throat, but the tea just made me sweaty and more uncomfortable in the nasty summer humidity.

Then I saw a post on the website The Kitchn all about sweet+spicy POPSICLES. The perfect thing to soothe my throat AND cool me off!!!

So I impulse bought some fancy popsicle molds (shaped like rocket ships!!!) and made the recipe below. They are also pretty healthy, which can't hurt when you have a cold! But the point is, you don't NEED to have a cold to enjoy these. They are refreshing, sour, spicy, a little sweet, and of course, nice and cold.

Paleta de Pepino con Limon y Chile (Cucumber Ice Pop With Lime & Chile)

Makes about 5/6 pops

* 2 cucumbers (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded and chopped
* 1 tablespoon sugar - (I used honey because I thought it would taste good too.)
* 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
* 1/2 teaspoon habanero chile powder -- (OR you can totally substitute cayenne pepper, which is what I did. Just add a little (few pinches) at first, and then add more if you want to make it more spicy. Apparently you can find habenero powder at places like Whole Foods.)
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions: In a food processor (or hand blender), pulse all but 1/2 cup of the cucumber until smooth. Strain into a bowl; you should have about 2 cups juice. (I did not strain. It came out fine! But if you want a really uniform texture, go ahead and strain.)

Add the rest of the ingredients and pour about 1/3 cup of mixture into each mold. Freeze for at least 2 hours.