July 12, 2009

Spicy Carrot Sald

This recipe comes from Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World. Slicing or julienning the carrots takes a bit of time (I used a mandoline and julienned the carrots, but it still took some time), but once that's done, the recipe takes hardly any effort at all. The caraway seeds give this a very distinctive flavor.

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. Put the carrots, garlic, sugar, caraway, cumin, paprika, and oil into a wide skillet or saucepan.
  2. Add enough water to cover, bring to a boil, turn the heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until the carrots are slightly soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. (Bittman says to cook until the water is mostly evaporated. I never got that much evaporation, so I just scooped the carrots and spices out into a bowl with a slotted spoon.) Drain and remove to a bowl.
  3. Remove and mince the garlic cloves. Add them back to the carrots. Add the harissa, olives (if using), and feta (if using) and toss to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary. Serve at room temperature.

Posted by spaceling at 04:59 PM

June 20, 2009

Sausage and Veggie Kebabs

Broiled sausage and veggies wrapped in warm pita and drenched in spicy yogurt sauce. What could be better?

The Ingredients

For the kebabs: For the yogurt sauce:

The Steps

  1. Toss the vegetables in a bowl with the smoked paprika, olive oil, and thyme to taste.
  2. Preheat a broiler pan about 4 inches from a broiler on high.
  3. Cut each sausage into 4 chunks. Thread the sausage chunks and vegetables onto the skewers.
  4. Broil for 6 minutes.
  5. While the kebabs are broiling, stir together the ingredients for the yogurt sauce.
  6. Slide the sausage and vegetables off the skewers, wrap in pita, and drizzle with yogurt sauce

Makes 4 servings.

Posted by spaceling at 09:25 PM

March 11, 2009

Braised Carrots and Chickpeas

This makes a nice herby but sweet side dish, or could be a complete vegetarian meal with a bit of bread, rice, or couscous to mop up the broth. (Actually, bread, rice, or couscous to mop up the broth would be nice in any case - I didn't think of it when preparing last night's dinner, though.)

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan until hot. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or so, until the onion starts to soften.
  2. Add the carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes or so. (I just let the carrots cook while I prepped the sage, parsley, lemon, and the ingredients for the rest of dinner.)
  3. Add the chickpeas, sage, lemon zest, and enough broth to not quite cover the mixture in the pan. Stir it all up and bring it to a simmer.
  4. Cover and cook until the carrots are tender, but not mushy. Probably about 8 to 10 minutes, depending on how thick the carrots were cut.
  5. When the carrots are done, stir in the parsley, the lemon juice, and the butter, if using.

Posted by spaceling at 07:24 AM

March 02, 2008

Eggplant with Peppers and Yogurt

I may be getting ready to declare victory in my ongoing quest to learn how to cook eggplant properly. I'm not sure that I've figured out what the secret is, though plenty of olive oil does seem to help.

This recipe comes from Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World. It comes fairly close to duplicating an eggplant dish that I used to get at a short-lived Afghan restaurant in Berkeley. Served with a cucumber salad and some pita bread, it makes a quite satisfying meal.

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. Put 1/3 cup olive oil and all but 1/2 tsp. of the garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. (I do mean large - I used the 14 inch monster that we usually refer to as "the shield of Achilles" around here. The eggplant reduces in volume quite a bit as it cooks and loses water, but getting it all in the skillet initially is a tight squeeze.)
  2. After about 2 minutes, add the peppers and the eggplant. Cook, stirring occasionally, until everything is tender. (About 25 to 30 minutes.) Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Beat the yogurt until it is smooth, then stir in 1/2 tsp. garlic, 1 tbsp. olive oil, and some salt and pepper.
  4. Remove the eggplant and peppers from the pan, pour the sauce over them, and serve hot.

Serves 4.

Posted by spaceling at 08:31 PM

January 12, 2008

Sauteed Mushrooms

I made these mushrooms to serve alongside broiled steak. They were really tasty. I need to figure out how to make more without overcrowding the pan and ruining the recipe. (Maybe do the initial cooking of the mushrooms in batches?)

A really nice thing about this recipe is that if you have all your ingredients prepped, and start heating the skillet at about the same time you start preheating the broiler, it takes almost exactly the same amount of time as it takes to broil steaks to medium-rare and rest them. You can also throw together a very simple green salad at the same time, and you've got a complete dinner in under 30 minutes.

The use of sherry was inspired by my having bought a bottle to make Spanish Daube last weekend, and wondering how sherry would complement other foods. I might do an experiment with different kinds of booze (sherry, brandy, wine, vermouth, etc.) to see how each complements the mushrooms. Mr. Spaceling has valiantly volunteered to taste test.

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. Heat a bit of butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. (Ideally, use a skillet large enough so that you can cook the mushrooms in a single layer.)
  2. Add the thyme and garlic, and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring.
  3. Add the mushrooms. Let them cook, stirring occasionally, until they are cooked through and tender and have rendered out some of their liquid, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Add a good splash of Worcestershire sauce and the sherry. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has almost boiled away.
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper. For an extra bit of decadence, toss in some extra butter and stir until it melts. Serve as soon as possible.

This served three people quite amply, although I think we'd happily have polished off a second batch of the mushrooms if I'd made one.

Posted by spaceling at 09:56 AM

January 06, 2008

Lentil and Farro Stew

This stew was a perfect for an evening of keeping cosy warm indoors while the rain poured down outside. Of course, since I hadn't been out to the grocery store in a few days, it was also a bit of a "let's scrounge through the fridge and the pantry and see what we can throw together" kind of recipe. (For example, I don't think it's really necessary to use two kinds of lentils, or both chicken and beef broth, but I was using up odds and ends that were on hand.)

The Ingredients

The steps

  1. In a large soup pot, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Pour off any excess fat.
  2. Add the onion, peppers, and carrots, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables start to get soft. (About 5 to 7 minutes.)
  3. Add the farro, and cook, stirring, for a minute or two.
  4. Add the lentils, white wine, and herbs and spices. Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to get up any browned bits.
  5. Add the tomatoes, broth or water, and the bay leaf. Stir. Bring to a simmer, and simmer until the lentils and farro are tender. (About 25 to 30 minutes.) Taste, adjust seasoning, and serve.
Makes...a lot. Maybe 6 to 8 servings?

Posted by spaceling at 10:09 AM

October 09, 2007

Roasted Eggplant and Zucchini

Hi! I'm not dead, nor have I stopped cooking, but I've been very busy and have been falling back on a lot of old standby recipes. I did try something new tonight that worked out really well - I think I've mentioned before that when I cook eggplant, it often comes out okay, but not great - in particular, the texture is often a bit spongy and not as silky as I'd like. Well, tonight I made some eggplant that was perfect. I don't know if the credit goes to the eggplant (a cute local variety with purple and white stripes) or the technique. Further experimentation is warranted.



  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cut the zucchini into half-inch thick rounds. (I used small, relatively thin zucchini - if you're using big ones, you might want to cut the rounds into half moons.)
  3. Cut the eggplant into pieces roughly the same size as the zucchini rounds.
  4. Put the eggplant and zucchini pieces into a roasting pan or baking dish. Sprinkle fairly liberally with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Dust with coriander, cumin, and paprika, tossing to coat.
  5. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until the vegetables are tender and just a little bit browned on the edges.
  6. Put the vegetables into a bowl, toss with lemon juice and additional olive oil to taste, and season with salt and pepper.

Serves 2. (Next time I'm making a bigger batch.) I served with pita bread, tzatziki sauce, and a gigandes bean salad.

Posted by spaceling at 10:03 PM

August 30, 2007

Roasted Cauliflower with Spanish Smoked Paprika and Cumin

Mr. Spaceling and I were at a family gathering recently, and Mr. Spaceling remarked to a cousin of mine (who knows a thing or two about cooking herself) that although I've gotten him to eat any number of vegetables that he'd never previously have looked twice at, broccoli and cauliflower remain the final frontier.

My cousin very sensibly suggested that I try roasting the stuff.

I decided to stack the deck even further by adding some Spanish smoked paprika. The result? Cauliflower cheerfully consumed by Mr. Spaceling. (I decided to try cauliflower first because it is not green and therefore is less scary.)

I didn't measure anything in this recipe, so take the quantities given as highly approximate.



  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Toss the cauliflower in a bowl with enough olive oil to lightly coat. Add the spices and salt and pepper to taste, and toss to coat.
  3. Roast in a baking pan in the oven until tender and lightly browned, stirring every 10 minutes or so. (My cauliflower took about 25 to 30 minutes).

Posted by spaceling at 11:01 AM

June 10, 2007

Garlicky White Beans and Kale over Teff Polenta Wedges

When I was in Florence back in April, one of the most amazing dishes I had was "fettunta": slices of bread brushed with olive oil and grilled, and topped with a mixture of sauteed cavolo nero (Tuscan kale) and white beans.

Since then, I've been itching to recreate that dish. I've also been wanting to have another try at teff prepared-polenta style. When I came across some nice Tuscan kale at the farmers' market yesterday, it occurred to me that the kale and white bean preparation would make a great topping for polenta.

The recipe turned out great. It would be equally good served over corn polenta. But if you want to recreate what I did, start by making your teff ahead of time, because it needs time to chill.

This recipe uses quite a lot of olive oil, because such amounts were called for in all the cookbook recipes for fettunta that I consulted for inspiration. ("Fettunta" apparently means "oily slice".) You could probably cut down some on the oil, although the oil and the starch from the beans emulsify into something that gives the dish a nice creamy texture. Mr. Spaceling described it as being like creamed spinach, only good. (Mr. Spaceling does not like creamed spinach. I fall more in the camp of thinking that anything that combines spinach and fat cannot be bad.)

Teff Polenta



  1. Bring the water to a boil. Add teff and salt.
  2. Turn down to a simmer and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the teff reaches the consistency of a thick spreadable porridge.
  3. Stir in the cheese. (To avoid getting clumps of melted cheese, add it bit by bit and stir thoroughly.)
  4. Line a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Spread the teff out in the pan and let it cool a bit. Cover with more foil or plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  5. Cut the polenta into wedges or squares. (I got 8 wedges out of a 9 x 9 pan.)

White Beans and Kale



  1. Wash the kale. Remove the leaves from the stems, and cut the leaves into bite-sized ribbons. Discard the stems.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the kale for about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water. (Plunging the kale into a bowl of ice water would probably be the approved method for shocking your greens. Rinsing with cold water worked fine.) Press out the excess water.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medim heat. Add the garlic, and saute for 30 seconds or so. Then add the greens and the beans. Simmer everything gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. In another skillet, heat a thin film of olive oil over medium high heat. Cook the polenta wedges, in batches, until browned and slightly crispy on each side. Keep the cooked wedges on a plate covered with foil to keep warm.
  5. Serve a wedge or two of polenta in a shallow bowl, with the bean and kale mixture piled on top.

Serves 4 or so.

Posted by spaceling at 08:38 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

March 23, 2007

Quinoa and Chickpea Salad

I've been making this tasty and versatile salad quite frequently of late. It's quick. You can serve it as a main course, or a side dish. You can add whatever vegetables you have on hand. It would probably also be good with diced cooked chicken or tofu if you wanted to really boost the protein content.

I thought I'd blogged about quinoa before, but a quick search didn't turn up anything. Quinoa is a Peruvian grain that is one of my favorites, because it is a whole grain that cooks in less than 15 minutes. You can use it in much the same way that you would use bulgur or couscous. Tonight, I used the "Inca Red" variety, which is an heirloom variety that's a very striking dark brown red color. Ordinary quinoa is kind of a pale yellow-beige.

Since this is such a versatile recipe, I'll give the basic proportions, and then describe some ways in which I've embellished them.

Basic Quinoa Salad Recipe

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. Put the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse it well. (Quinoa seeds have a bitter saponin coating that keeps the seeds from being eaten by birds. Many commercial varieties have been either pre-rinsed or bred for lower saponin content, but I always rinse, just to be safe.)
  2. Put the quinoa into a sauce pan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook until the water is absorbed. (About 12-15 minutes.) Quinoa seeds have this funny little opaque band around the outside of the seed - the quinoa is cooked when this band has partially or fully separated from most of the seeds.
  3. Let the quinoa cool a bit, then toss with the chick peas, olives, feta, and other embellishments. Season with salt and pepper, and dress with olive oil and vinegar/lemon juice to taste.

Quinoa Salad Embellishments

A selection of the following additional items can be added to the salad as appropriate:

There are probably lots of other things you could add. Tonight's variation used tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and roasted asparagus and was dressed with sherry vinegar and olive oil. (Good sherry vinegar, if I haven't mentioned this before, is a revelation. The stuff I get at the local grocery store is just meh, but the stuff I got at Whole Foods is amazing.)

Posted by spaceling at 08:50 PM

December 22, 2006

Roasted Carrots

This is a great simple side-dish. Roasting carrots makes them tender and brings out their natural sweetness. (If you wanted to take that one step further, you could probably drizzle with honey before or after roasting.)

I used baby carrots. You could probably use bigger ones - I'd cut them into thick-ish carrot sticks first, and possibly peel them.

Anyway, here's what I did:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

  2. Scrub your carrots. Dry them well. Cut off the tops and any straggly hairy bit of root at the ends.

  3. Put the carrots in a roasting pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle them with olive oil, and then shake the pan so that they are evenly coated.

  4. Put the pan in the oven, and roast for 20 to 30 minutes, shaking the pan a couple of times to make sure the carrots brown evenly.

I took the carrots out when they were just lightly golden brown. I had intended to sprinkle them with chopped parsley, but since the rest of dinner was ready, I forgot and just popped them straight onto our plates. We scarfed them. There was just enough for two servings, plus a smidgen extra. I let Mr. Spaceling have the extra, because having Mr. Spaceling ask for seconds on a cooked vegetable is exceedingly rare and a thing to be encouraged. But I was very tempted not to.

Next time, I'll roast 2 bunches of baby carrots.

Posted by spaceling at 09:49 PM | TrackBack

December 16, 2006

Roasted Vegetable Salad

I'm catching up a bit on things that I made while my computer was being wonky. I made this for dinner one night last weekend. It was loosely inspired by a recipe in Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries, and by the fact that I'd picked up a pound of baby eggplant without any real notion of what to do with them.

The Ingredients

*Harissa is a Tunisian spice paste, composed primarily of red chilies, cumin, and coriander. It's hot, but not tongue-searing. I bought mine from Kalustyan's, though I'm not sure I picked a particularly good one. It seems a bit tame. I'll probably try making my own soon, since I have about half a dozen recipes for it in various books.

The Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Put the tomatoes in a baking dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer. (I used a 9 x 9 inch square pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Shake the pan until the tomatoes are coated with olive oil.
  3. Quarter the baby eggplants. (Or cut large eggplant into 1 x 1 x 2 inch chunks.) Put them in a baking dish large enough to hold in a single layer. (I used a 9 x 13 inch pan.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with oil, and stir/shake to coat. (I also meant to add about a teaspoon of whole cumin seed at this point, but I forgot. I will try it next time, though.)
  4. Roast the tomatoes and eggplant for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring or tossing every 15 minutes or so, until they are browned and soft. (I went about 55 minutes, which I think was slightly too long for the eggplant - it was a bit dry when it came out of the oven, though it recovered nicely as it soaked up the dressing.)
  5. Let the roasted vegetables cool slightly while you prepare the other items.
  6. Combine the chickpeas, peppers, halloumi, and olives in a large bowl.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, harissa, cumin, and lemon juice to make a dressing.
  8. Stir the roasted vegetables and their juice into the chickpea mixture. Then stir the dressing and the cilantro into the salad.
  9. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve garnished with mint leaves and with warm pita bread on the side.

I think this would be equally good with a different mixture of roasted vegetables. Some roasted onions might be very nice, or chunks of zucchini. Perhaps even some root vegetables. I'll experiment when I next make it.

Posted by spaceling at 03:56 PM | TrackBack

November 02, 2006

The Great Pumpkin

When October rolled around, lots of food magazines ran features on cooking pumpkin. Vegetarian Times did one, and Cooking Light did one. So, when I came across a beautiful pile of Cinderella pumpkins at a local market a few weeks ago, I picked one up, figuring I'd cook it.

Now, the key thing to know about cooking pumpkin is that the big orange pumpkins that you buy for carving into jack-o-lanterns are lousy for cooking (according to all of these articles), though the seeds are very tasty toasted. If you're going to cook and eat the flesh of the pumpkin, you want one of the following varieties: sugar or "pie" pumpkins, cheese pumpkins, or the Cinderella pumpkin, also known as the rouge vif d'etampes.

The Cinderella pumpkin is so called because it really does look just like the Cinderella's pumpkin carriage in the Disney movie. It's a deep orange, and a lovely shape.

The Cinderella pumpkin I brought home weighed something like 3.5-4 pounds. This turned out to be a lot of pumpkin. So, I've been cooking a lot of pumpkin. Read on to find out how.

Pumpkin and Red Lentil Curry

This recipe came from the October issue of Cooking Light. It was tasty, especially the day after it was made. But it used a bit less than half of my enormous pumpkin.

I peeled the remaining pumpkin, cut it into largish (1.5 inch) cubes, and stored it in a ziploc bag in my fridge. I also separated the seeds from the pulp, and spread them on a paper towel to dry.

Roasted Pumpkin

The next day, I roasted the pumpkin cubes. I tossed them with rosemary salt, pepper, and olive oil and put them in a roasting pan. I roasted at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. The pumpkin cubes got soft and sweet and very tasty, but never browned. Next time, I'll use higher heat.

Spiced Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Proof, if more be needed, that Mark Bittman is a genius. I took his suggestion from How to Cook Everything and tossed a cup of pumpkin seeds with a teaspoon of garam masala, a half teaspoon of salt, and a tablespoon of olive oil, and spread them on a baking sheet. I put the baking sheet in a 350 degree oven. Bittman suggests roasting for 30 minutes or so, but after about 15 minutes, pumpkin seeds were exploding from the pressure of hot steam inside the shells and ricocheting all over the oven, so I declared them toasted.

I plucked a hot pumpkin seed off the baking sheet and juggled it to my mouth. "Wow! These are good!" I shouted. Mr. Spaceling came and tried a seed. And another. And another. They were really magical: crisp and hot and salty and nutty and addictive. After they cooled, I put them in a small tupperware. They are still really good, but not quite as amazing as they were hot out of the oven.

It was totally worth having to clear out half a dozen burnt exploded seeds from the bottom of the oven.

Pumpkin Soup

I used some of the roasted pumpkin to make a pumpkin soup: I pureed roughly three cups cooked cubed pumpkin with 2-3 cups chicken broth. Then I heated the soup over low heat in a saucepan, and added cumin (3/4 tsp.), cinnamon (1/2 tsp.), coriander (1/2 tsp.), and hot paprika (1/2 tsp) to make a spicy soup. When it was hot, I drizzled it with yogurt mixed with premade harissa (Tunisian chili paste). Not bad, though Mr. Spaceling liked the yogurt sauce better than the soup.

And I still have about 2-3 cups of roasted pumpkin in the fridge! Will I be cooking pumpkin again? Absolutely. But I think I'll start with a smaller one.

Posted by spaceling at 11:59 AM | TrackBack

September 03, 2006

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

The idea for this came from a recipe for a zucchini "carpaccio" I saw once in a food blog. I no longer remember which blog it was, and I don't seem to have bookmarked the recipe, but the basic idea stuck in my mind: slice zucchini very thinly, salt it and drain it a bit, and then toss with herbs and top with fresh cheese. (The original recipe used fresh ricotta; I used goat cheese.) I added some chick peas to make this more of a main dish.



  1. Put the zucchini ribbons in a colander, and sprinkle with salt. Let them drain for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Rinse the zucchini ribbons and let them drain for another 5 minutes. Spread them out on a paper towel and pat them dry. (They don't need to be bone dry, but they shouldn't be sopping wet.)
  3. Toss the zucchini in a medium bowl with the chickpeas, olives, herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. As you serve the salad, dot each portion with bits of goat cheese.

Makes about 2-3 servings.

Posted by spaceling at 08:05 PM | TrackBack

Roasted Cipollini Onions

Tonight as part of dinner, I roasted the cipollini onions that I got at the farmers' market yesterday. I adapted a recipe from Andrea Chesman's The Roasted Vegetable. Cipollini onions are a small, flat onion that is fairly sweet.



  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Put the onions in a bowl of warm tap water for a couple of minutes. This makes them easier to peel. Then peel them.
  3. Toss the peeled onions with the olive oil, herbs and fennel seed. Spread them out in a lightly oiled roasting pan in a single layer.
  4. Roast for 15 minutes or so, then turn the onions over and roast for another 15 minutes.
  5. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar to taste, and serve.

I served these with a yummy zucchini and chick pea salad - recipe to follow.

Posted by spaceling at 07:52 PM | TrackBack

August 10, 2006

Bulgur Tomato Salad

I made this Easy Bulgur Salad with Summer Tomatoes as part of dinner last night. It is indeed easy, and very tasty. It also seems like a very versatile recipe - you could add other herbs besides the mint, or additional raw or blanched veggies (next time I think I'll add some roasted red pepper), or some feta cheese, or even some cooked chicken or tofu if you wanted extra protein.

I omitted the pine nuts because I didn't feel like fiddling with toasting them.

I used the bulgur from the Mollie Stone's bulk bins, which was not labelled as to whether it was coarse, medium, or fine. I think that it's probably the type usually sold for making tabbouleh, which probably means it was a fine grind, but it worked in this recipe. (My local Indian grocery store sells bulgur in 4 different grinds, but most American supermarkets seem to carry just one.)

This was the first time in ages that I've cooked bulgur. (I recall making tabbouleh at least once with my mother when I was a teenager, but this is probably the first time I've prepared bulgur in my own kitchen.) I think I'll be cooking it again - with a ~10 minute preparation time, it joins quinoa on the short list of "Good Whole Grains for the Last-Minute Cook".

Posted by spaceling at 10:02 AM

August 06, 2006

Summer Chili

This chili sort of came about serendipitously. On Friday, I was in the grocery store, and came across some habanero and green chile chicken and turkey sausages. I thought, "Hey, I bet this would be good in a chili," and bought them.

Yesterday, I was at the Willow Glen Farmers' market, and bought some ears of white corn. And I thought, "Hey, corn is good in chili."

Today, I decided it was finally time to make that chili. It came out really good. Spicy enough to clear your sinuses, but not overwhelmingly spicy, and tasting very summery with the corn and tomatoes and peppers. Quoth Mr. Spaceling, "It's good to be Mr. Spaceling."

(The fresh tomatoes were an accident, too. I was planning on using canned, and then realized in the middle of the recipe that I didn't have any canned tomatoes. So I grabbed a pint of grape tomatoes that I had been planning on using in salad.)



  1. In a large pot, saute the sausage over medium-high heat until it starts to brown.
  2. Dump in the onion, pepper, tomatoes, garlic, chipotle, and chipotle powder. Cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the corn and the beans, and about 1 can of water. Bring to a boil.
  4. Turn heat to low and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Adjust seasoning, and serve.
Makes a bunch of servings. (At least 6. Maybe more.)

For a little extra punch, serve with a bit of shredded habanero jack cheese on top. (I seem to be on a habanero kick lately. I'm still too scared to actually buy and cook with the raw chilies, but if it's habanero flavored, I'll probably buy it.)

Posted by spaceling at 08:57 PM | TrackBack

July 31, 2006

Portobello Mushroom and Zucchini "Souvlaki"

This is one of those serendipitously inspired recipes. I was wandering around the supermarket, thinking that something vaguely Greek would be nice for dinner, when I happened upon a pile of portobello mushrooms. The idea for this recipe popped into my head. It's a bit of a stretch to call this souvlaki - I believe the term refers to grilled meat. But it's not entirely unlike those souvlaki sandwiches you sometimes get in Greek restaurants.

The recipe came out really well. Mr. Spaceling made me promise to blog it so that I would be sure to remember how to make it again.

The Ingredients

We used Sabra baba ganoush, which is by far our favorite commercial baba ganoush. (Actually, our favorite baba ganoush, period. While I can make a decent hummus, all of my previous attempts to make baba ganoush have been staggeringly unsuccesful.)

The Steps

  1. Put the mushrooms, zucchini, and garlic into a medium-sized bowl. Add juice of 1/2 a lemon, oregano and pepper to taste, and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat.
  2. Allow vegetables to marinate for 15-20 minutes. (I recommend using this time to put together a simple Greek salad of cucumber, red bell pepper, olives, tomato, and feta.)
  3. In a large skillet (the larger the skillet is, the easier it will be to get your mushrooms and zucchini nice and browned), heat a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms/zucchini mixture, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are cooked through and lightly browned. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
  4. Serve the vegetable mixture stuffed into pitas and topped with baba ganoush, if desired, along with the Greek salad.

Serves about 2.

Posted by spaceling at 10:14 PM

June 13, 2006

Roasted Green Beans

I tried out a recipe tonight for roasted green beans, from Andrea Chesman's The Roasted Vegetable. I hadn't really thought of green beans as good roasting vegetables, but Chesman's description of this recipe as one that could turn green bean haters into green bean lovers made it too intriguing to pass up.

The recipe is really simple: Take 2 pounds of green beans, ends trimmed. Spread them out in a single layer on 1 or 2 pans. Drizzle with 2 tbsp. olive oil, and pop them in a 500 degree oven for 15 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to make sure they brown evenly. (I shook the pan a couple of times, but the beans just slid around rather than turning over, so they browned mostly on one side. Next time, I think I'll stir - or use a deeper pan, so I can shake more vigorously.) When done, put the beans into a bowl, add salt to taste, and serve.

The beans did not look very pretty when they came out of the oven. They were brown on one side, drab olive green on the other, and somewhat shriveled. However, they tasted wonderfully caramelized and delicious. The recipe lived up to its billing - Mr. Spaceling, who does not like green beans, had two helpings.

And he asked me to roast some more vegetables soon. I wonder what I should try roasting next?

Posted by spaceling at 10:27 PM | TrackBack

June 10, 2006

Provencal Green Bean and Tomato Salad

I have no idea if this dish actually resembles anything actually eaten in Provence. But I was going for a sort of Provencal combination of flavors. This makes a really quick and scrumptious side dish. It made me do the happy dance when I tasted it.


The Steps

  1. Blanch the green beans in a pot of simmering salted water for about 1 minute. Drain and run under cold water to cool. (Note: this produced green beans that were still very crunchy and raw tasting - it you want them more cooked, increase the time.)
  2. Toss the beans, tomatoes, shallot, herbs, and lemon juice together in a bowl. Drizzle in olive oil to taste. Crumble in the goat cheese, and toss again.

Posted by spaceling at 07:17 PM | TrackBack

April 09, 2006

Chicken, Meatball, White Bean, and Fennel Soup

I was puttering around the house this morning, mentally composing a grocery shopping list, and I decided that I wanted to have chicken soup for dinner. And I remembered that I had a bulb of fennel sitting in the crisper that I needed to use. So, I went to the store and started grabbing things that I thought would go well with fennel and chicken. The resulting soup is kind of a riot of vegetables and chicken and stuff. But it's very tasty.

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the fennel, leeks, celery, carrots, garlic, and herbs and cook, stirring, for 5-10 minutes, until the vegetables are starting to get translucent and everything smells amazing.
  2. Add broth/water. Bring it to a slow simmer. While the broth is heating up, trim excess fat from the chicken thighs and season them with pepper.
  3. When the broth is simmering, add the chicken thighs. Poach them for 20 minutes, being sure to keep the broth at a simmer and not letting it get to a full rolling boil.
  4. Remove the chicken thighs to a plate. Add the tomatoes, beans, kale, and meatballs, and bring everything back to a simmer.
  5. Shred the chicken. Return it to the pot and continue to simmer until the kale is fully cooked. (Perhaps another 15 minutes.)
  6. Adjust seasoning, and serve

Makes a whole bunch of servings. It's a good thing I like this soup, because I have enough leftovers to last a while.

Posted by spaceling at 12:04 AM

March 19, 2006

Okra and Shrimp Stew

I'm catching up here - I made this dish nearly two weeks ago, when I picked up that okra at 99 Ranch. It was tasty enough to be recorded for future reference, so I scribbled down a few notes, but I didn't get around to putting together this post until today.

One nice thing about this recipe is that it's really quick. It only takes about 20 minutes to put together.

I adapted this recipe from a recipe in Barbara Kafka's Vegetable Love. She had a recipe for an okra and red pepper stew. I beefed it up into a main dish by adding shrimp and tomatoes, and spiced it up with a little Cajun seasoning.

This makes a fairly brothy stew. I just served it up in shallow bowls, but it would be terrific over rice or couscous.


The Steps

  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the okra. Cook, stirring, until bright green, about 4 minutes. (The okra really does turn a nice bright green. Pretty neat.
  2. Add roasted peppers, tomatoes, Cajun seasoning, broth, and shrimp. Stir everything together.
  3. Bring to a boil, and cook until the okra is tender and the shrimp are cooked through. Maybe 4 to 5 minutes.

Posted by spaceling at 09:13 PM

March 18, 2006

Lentil, Mushroom, and Spinach Soup

I came up with this recipe to use up some stuff that I had in the fridge. I had a half a bunch of spinach left over from making the salad, and I had 8 oz. of sliced mushrooms that I'd intended to put in said salad before the salad took a turn in another direction. I also had some fresh thyme.

My first taste of this soup made me say, "Wow!" It is amazingly rich and hearty tasting, even more so than most lentil soups I've had. I'm not sure if the key is the red wine, or the mushroom bouillon that I used, or what, but it's good. And completely vegan. (Well, if your wine is vegan. I didn't check mine.)

The Ingredients

The Steps

    Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until the onion starts to get translucent.
  1. Add the mushrooms, and cook another 5 minutes or so, until the mushrooms start to get tender.
  2. Add the red wine, and cook until it's reduced down considerably. (By at least half, I'd say, maybe a bit more.)
  3. Add the broth, lentils, and herbes de Provence. Strip the leaves off the fresh thyme sprigs and drop them into the pot (the leaves, not the stems). (Alternatively, you could just toss in the whole sprigs, and fish them out again before serving, but I like having the thyme leaves in the soup.)
  4. Bring the pot to a slow boil, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes (or longer), depending on how long it takes the lentils to be done.
  5. About 5 minutes before the lentils are done, stir in the spinach.
  6. Just before serving, taste and add freshly ground pepper and/or salt (salt probably not necessary if you used reconstituted bouillon) to taste.

Posted by spaceling at 09:16 AM | TrackBack

March 11, 2006

Braised Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli rabe. A.k.a broccoli raab. A.k.a broccoli di rabe. A.k.a rapini. A.k.a yummy.

I know I've eaten broccoli rabe before. But I'd never cooked it before. And I don't remember it ever being this good.

This very simple recipe is adapted from Barbara Kafka's Vegetable Love.

The Ingredients

The steps

  1. Heat a bit of olive oil in a saute pan with a lid. Put it the broccoli rabe, and a generous sprinkling of red pepper flakes, and cook, turning with tongs until it is bright green and the leaves wilt.
  2. Pour in chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  3. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook about 8 minutes.
  4. Uncover, and boil off of the chicken broth a bit. (I was too impatient to let all the broth boil off, and a bit afraid of overcooking the broccoli rabe, so I just lifted the broccoli rabe out of the broth with tongs.

This was really delicious. I was bound to think so, since I've never met a leafy green I didn't like. However, Mr. Spaceling, who is somewhat suspicious of leafy greens and deeply suspicous of anything with the word "broccoli" in the name, pronounced this good. (I think part of the trick here is that broccoli rabe actually doesn't taste that much like broccoli. It actually resembles spinach in some ways.)

I'm definitely going to be cooking more broccoli rabe in the future.

Posted by spaceling at 07:00 AM | TrackBack

February 23, 2006

Curried Tomato Yogurt Soup

So, I've been busy trying not to come down with a cold for the past couple of days. So far, it's hard to tell whether I'm succeeding - I have a perpetual sore throat, ameliorated only by large quantities of hot beverages, and I'm tired as heck. Under such circumstances, anything I cook has to be simple to prepare, and easy on the throat.

Oddly enough, this kind of state tends to lead to improvisational cooking. For some reason, when I'm tired, following a recipe seems like too much effort.

Tonight for dinner, I improvised this soup, which is both of those things.

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. Sautee the onion in a bit of oil until soft.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, and spices. Sautee for about 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, and broth.
  4. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  5. Turn off the heat, and stir in most of the yogurt, reserving a little bit to dollop on top of the soup at serving time.
  6. Serve soup garnished with cilantro and reserved yogurt.

This was pretty darn good. It had enough spice to it to clear your sinuses a bit, but they were balanced out by the creaminess and tang of the yogurt. Next time I make it, I'd like to tinker with the spices a bit - I think the soup would have a little bit of extra zip if I took the time to intelligently blend more individual spices, rather than just dumping in a bunch of curry powder that's probably been sitting in my spice rack for a bit too long, if truth be told. But this was not an "intelligently blend spices" kind of night.

I served this soup accompanied by cheese toasts, which were absolutely amazing. I think all of that comes down to the quality of the cheese: I took a couple of ounces of grated Dubliner cheese, spread it on top of two slices of whole wheat bread, and toasted it under the broiler until it was bubbly and slightly golden on top. The Dubliner cheese is terrific, and this was the first time I'd ever had it. It's kind of like a cross between a cheddar and a Swiss. A really good cheddar and a really good Swiss. It more than made up for the bread I used being decidedly mediocre. (Oroweat 100% Whole Wheat "Carb Counting" bread. I picked it up because it doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup as its second or third ingredient, as so many whole wheat breads do. Meh. It's not bad, but it's a bit dry. The quest for the perfect 100% whole grain bread continues. So far, the leader of the pack is Alvarado Street Bakery.)

Posted by spaceling at 09:32 PM | TrackBack

January 27, 2006

World's Prettiest Salad

I made a really gorgeous-looking salad tonight to accompany these Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps. It's a very simple salad, with just 4 ingredients: a couple of red bell peppers, half a head of purple cabbage, 4 or 5 scallions, and a bit of Ginger People Ginger Sesame vinaigrette.

Here's what you do: Chop the scallions (both white and green parts). Thinly slice or shred the cabbage. (I used a mandoline to get really nice thin shreds, but you could use thicker slices.) Slice the bell peppers into julienne strips. (I probably could have done this with the mandoline as well, but I just used a knife.) Put everything in a bowl, splash on some of the Ginger People dressing, and toss well to coat.

This salad just looks gorgeous in a bowl - the contrasting colors really seem almost jewel-like. It's also quite tasty, and you get a nice big dose of vitamins A, C, and K from it. And though it's not precisely traditional, it would make a great side-dish for a Chinese New Year celebration, with all that nice red.

Posted by spaceling at 10:58 PM | TrackBack

January 26, 2006

Roasted Kabocha Squash

Kabocha squash is a winter squash that looks kind of like a small pumpkin, only it's green with light green stripes. I like squash quite a bit, but I rarely cook it, for some reason, and when I do, I usually go for the familiar old acorn squash. When I was at the Asian market last weekend, stocking up on instant miso soup, they had a big pile of kabocha, so I bought a couple. (I always go to the Asian supermarkets to buy instant miso soup, and I invariably leave with some item of produce I've never cooked before.)

I ended up roasting one of them, using a recipe from Sally Schneider's brilliant A New Way to Cook. It's pretty simple - cut the top and bottom off the squash, and cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds. (I saved the seeds for toasting - I'll post on that later.) Cut the squash up into 2 inch thick slices.

Mix up some spices in a bowl: 1 tsp. ground coriander, 1 tsp. sweet paprika, 1/2 tsp. ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, a sprinkling of salt and a pinch of cayenne. (Sally's recipe also calls for caraway seeds, which I omitted because I don't have any.) Brush the squash slices with olive oil, and rub them all over with the spice mix. Stick them on a baking sheet, and put them in a 400 degree oven for half an hour.

Yum. Kabocha has a very creamy, slightly sweet flesh. It's less stringy than some kinds of squashes that I've had. It tastes a lot like sweet potato. In fact, if you blindfolded me and gave me a bite of roasted kabocha, I'm not sure that I'd know that it wasn't sweet potato. Maybe I'll do a side by side test sometime - I could roast kabocha and sweet potato together, and compare the flavors.

The sweet warm flavors of the kabocha played off really well against the salad I served with it, which was watercress, avocado, and kalamata olives, dressed with a very mustardy Dijon vinaigrette. Mmmm. It's funny - I've been eating watercress from the salad bar of the cafeteria at work, but I didn't realize that it was watercress until I spotted some in the supermarket labelled "watercress". It's funny - I always expected watercress to be seaweedier somehow. Silly, really.

I think next time I'll try a slightly different spice rub on the squash. I bet it would be brilliant with a touch of chipotle. (Of course, my culinary philosophy is that there is no food in the universe that wouldn't be improved by a touch of chipotle, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a squeeze of lemon, or a splash of soy sauce. Though I don't think there is any food that would benefit from all four at once. First person to send me a viable recipe for a chipotle-soy-lemon-balsamic vinaigrette wins a prize, okay?)

Tune in next time, when I'll toast some kabocha seeds.

Posted by spaceling at 09:50 PM | TrackBack

January 19, 2006

Tunisian Style Chickpeas and Chard

Tonight I tried a new recipe that I found online: Paula Wolfert's recipe for Chickpeas and Swiss Chard in the Style Tunisian Sahel. Just to make it really simple and easy, I used canned chickpeas, and substituted vegetable broth for the chickpea cooking liquid.

The most fun part of this recipe is pounding up the garlic, chile, salt, and coriander in a mortar. I have an inexpensive Japanese-style mortar (called a suribachi). It's more lightweight than other types of mortars I've seen, and it's probably not robust enough for some pounding jobs, but for bashing up a couple of cloves of garlic with some spices, it works just fine. The garlic/chile/coriander paste just smells heavenly. Pounding everything in a mortar that way really amplifies the aromas.

I served this with pita bread and a salad of sliced tomatoes and olives dressed with olive oil, salt, and pepper. (I've been getting really good tomatoes at Mollie Stone's in Palo Alto lately. They're not quite equal to a really great summer tomato, but they actually smell and taste like real tomatoes.)

Posted by spaceling at 09:13 PM