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May 20, 2007

Sweet and Sour Chickpeas and Sausage

Mr. Spaceling and I went out to Half Moon Bay today - had a great time walking on the beach and drinking coffee in a local cafe. When we arrived back home it was after 8:00pm, and I hadn't been grocery shopping all weekend. I threw this recipe together from some stuff I had in the fridge and the pantry. It was good enough to be worth repeating.

The recipe uses tomatoes and sherry vinegar to give a kind of sweet and sour effect. (It's not super sweet.) It also uses lots of Spanish smoked paprika, which continues to be one of my favorite ingredients for giving a simple dish an extra flavor boost.

The Ingredients

The steps

  1. Cook the sausage in a deep skillet until lightly browned.
  2. Add the vermouth, and let it cook down for a few minutes.
  3. Add the chick peas, the tomatoes, the paprika, and the Tabasco sauce (if using).
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have broken down to a slightly saucy consistency.
  5. Stir in the vinegar, taste, and adjust the seasoning.

Serves 2.

Posted by spaceling at 09:42 PM

May 13, 2007


I cooked teff for the first time last week. Interesting stuff. Fans of Ethiopian food might recognize teff as the grain that is used in making injera, the spongy flatbread that is a staple of Ethiopian cuisine. (And maybe sometime when I'm feeling brave, I'll buy some teff flour and try making my own injera.) But teff can also be cooked as a whole grain. Teff grains are very small, so it cooks up with a consistency very similar to cream of wheat or polenta. It has a mild nutty flavor, without any of the tanginess that injera gets from being fermented.

My first use of it was essentially as a substitute for polenta. (I got this suggestion from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking, though I didn't precisely follow her recipe.) I cooked up a batch and topped it with an improvised ragout of tomatoes, mushrooms, and Italian sausage. I loved it, Mr. Spaceling was not entirely enthusiastic. (About the teff polenta. He ate two helpings of the ragout.) I think the teff polenta would be even better prepared according to Swanson's suggestion of spreading it out in a thinnish layer to chill, cutting it into wedges and grilling them, but that involved more time than I had for a quick weeknight supper.

A slightly more traditional use of teff is as a breakfast porridge. I reheated some of the leftover cooked teff with milk and cinnamon, and then stirred in some fresh blueberries. Wow. Really nice.

The basic method for cooking teff: use 3 parts water to 1 part teff. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the teff has reached the consistency you like.

If you can't find teff in your local grocery store, you can order it from Bob's Red Mill.

Posted by spaceling at 05:52 PM

Farmers' Market Haul - 5/13/2007

Today was fruit day at the farmers' market. I got:

I love stone fruit season. Hurrah!

Posted by spaceling at 05:50 PM

May 12, 2007

Black Bean, Fresh Corn, and Mango Salad

You can tell that spring is here, because suddenly all I want to eat is salad. And fruit. (But oddly enough, rarely fruit salad. I'm not a fruit salad kind of girl.)

I was in the supermarket this afternoon, and came across some fresh corn and a lovely looking mango. And the idea for this salad was born. It's a bit sweet, a bit spicy (or a lot spicy if you want), and loaded with more anti-oxidants than you can shake a stick at. And it takes almost no time at all to make.

I like the combination of Tabasco and Sriracha hot sauces in this recipe. I find that Tabasco gives a nice vinegary bite, but doesn't taste rounded enough on its own. Sriracha adds a nice depth of flavor without being overpowering on the heat. It might be interesting to experiment with different hot sauces.

The Ingredients

I learned a neat trick recently for removing kernels from a corn cob: start by cutting the cob in half across the middle. This gives you two short pieces of cob, each with a flat end, and you can just stand them on your cutting board and slice the kernels off with a knife. Amazing. For the first time ever, I've cut kernels off an ear of corn without getting corn all over the kitchen.

The Steps

  1. Combine the corn kernels, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, mango, scallions, and cilantro in a large bowl.
  2. Squeeze over the lime juice, and drizzle on some olive oil. Add a bit of the Tabasco and Sriracha sauces, and toss everything together well.
  3. Taste, and add more lime juice, hot sauce, oil, salt, or pepper to taste.

I served this over some baby spinach for a bit of extra greenery. It worked pretty well.

Serves about 4.

Posted by spaceling at 07:32 PM

May 07, 2007

Lentil Salad with Whole-Grain Mustard Dressing

I whipped this up tonight because I felt like lentils for dinner, but due to the hot weather I didn't want anything too heavy. Mr. Spaceling requested that I blog this so I can be sure of making it again.

The secret ingredient in this is a whole-grain mustard. It helps add a nice sharpness to counterbalance to earthiness of the lentils. I used a British whole-grain mustard that's pretty mild - you'll probably need to taste frequently as you put the salad together to figure out how much mustard you need.

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. Put the lentils in a pot with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and cook, about 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender, but still relatively firm.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, cut up your vegetables, cheese, and salami, and put all the ingredients except the lemon juice, mustard, and oil into a large bowl.
  3. Whisk the lemon juice, mustard, and olive oil together in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper, taste the mixture, and add more mustard or lemon juice if necessary.
  4. When the lentils are cooked, drain them, and toss them while they are still warm into the large bowl. Add the dressing, and toss everything.
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (You might find that you need to add more mustard.)

Posted by spaceling at 09:34 PM