30 June 2008

Swiss Chard With Chickpeas and Tomatoes

Summer is in full swing and CSA is coming through with the good stuff now.

If you can get past the hungry goats that is.

As the veggies come in, we find ourselves turning more and more to Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian to make sense of things like Kohlrabi. We made her recipe for swiss chard stewed with tomatoes and chickpeas, which was simply the best chard dish we've had in a long time.

28 June 2008

Moroccan Night (First Attempt) and a Book Review: Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco

We recently had Moroccan night straight out of Paula Wolfert's Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco. The book is a classic and deservedly so. It's the most interesting cook book I've read in a long time. Not only are the introductory sections filled with food history and footnotes to obscure old (really old) food and travel books, but she keeps the book interesting throughout recipe descriptions and chapter introductions. It's a bit less versatile than I would like, with only a few vegetarian recipes—a handful of salads and some breads and pastries. And it's not easy to get a sense for how to make vegetarian versions of some of the couscous dishes either, even though she suggests that such dishes are commonplace in Morocco.

A Prerequisite: Preserved Lemons

Paula writes:

There is, and I cannot emphasize this enough, no substitue for preserved lemons in Moroccan food. ... To not use preserved lemons is to completely miss the point, and also to miss a whole dimension of culinary experience.
Not wanting to miss out on "a whole dimension of culinary experience," I dutifully preserved a batch of lemons. The basic recipe is readily available, but it takes a month or more for the lemons to cure, so you have to plan well ahead. On the other hand, I see preserved lemons in Whole Foods now, so that may be an option. Also, I used myers lemons, which seemed at the time to be an appropriate choice, but I wouldn't use them again. While the lemon flavour was certainly strong, it had a certain tinge to it I didn't care for and that wasn't present in any other preserved lemons I've ever tasted.

The lemons were needed for her excellent Chicken with Lemons and Olives Emshmel. We also made an orange and black olive salad and a salad of roasted peppers and tomatoes.

Tomato and Green Pepper Salad, Fez Style
Adapted from Paula Wolfert, Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco (1973)
  • 3 green peppers
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed with some 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of sweet paprika
  • 1/2 freshly ground cumin
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 preserved lemon, rinsed, flesh removed, peel cut into a dice.
Grill the peppers over a flame until blackened, then remove their skins, stems and seeds. Cut the peppers into smallish chunks. Plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for a few minutes to remove their skins. Slice the tomatoes open and remove most of the seeds before also cutting into smallish chunks. Mix the tomatoes and peppers with the remaining ingredients other than the lemons, which are sprinkled on top. This was excellent.

02 June 2008

Grilled Tempeh Fajitas With Apple Salsa

Robin Robertson's Vegan Planet continues to provide great recipes a year or more after we bought it. This was a successful vegan "fajita" dish with grilled jerk(ish) tempeh and peppers, and a salsa made from green apples, jalapeños, scallions, lime juice and mint leaves. The salsa really worked well with the spicy tempeh. I would add papaya to it next time and maybe use a hotter green chili.

01 June 2008

Ramps: Trendy Springtime Eating

Spaghetti with Ramps and Breadcrumbs

Three weeks back when ramps were the all consuming ingredient of the food blogosphere we made this recipe of Mario Batali's (available on, alas, MarthaStewart.com). Totally recommended, but sadly you have to hold that thought until next spring.