A Meatless Journey, New Cookbooks and Chickpea Spinach Stew

Along with giving up wine for Lent (as part of Rebecca’s Do Without Challenge at Midnight Maniac), we also made a commitment to up our meatless nights from one to at least three a week.  We are not quite a week into both and there is still time for you to “do without” and join the group. It doesn’t have to be meat or wine…any indulgence will do.

For our meatless meals last week, I shot from the hip, pulling a few recipes from online cooking resources. A very kicked-up black-eyed pea and penne salad hit all the notes for a spicy dish (which we both crave and crave often), a fruited couscous stuffed squash deliciously scented with cardamom and yesterday, a zesty citrus chickpea stew with lemongrass, yam and spinach (recipe below).

A very good start for week one!

But this is a long journey and I am not a meatless meal expert. Oh, I have made the occasional meatless meal (butternut ravioli, lobster and truffle risotto, Basque tortilla, and the most decadent Gnocchi a la Parisienne) but never on a regular basis or intentionally.

When we took the pledge, I knew one thing.  We would not eat rice and beans every night.  That was not going to keep the tummies happy. I needed inspiration to keep our meals exciting and there is nothing like holding a gloriously photographed cookbook in my hands for inspiration and motivation to stay the course.

I admit, I have shelves and shelves of cookbooks collecting dust that rarely see the light of the kitchen but none of them are vegetarian (or vegan) and none of them focused on clean eating.  Keeping to my “try before I buy” cookbook resolution (1/2011), I reserved several books on clean eating, vegetarian and vegan cooking from the library.  A few more than several…15 to be exact. Lucky for me,  Mister “volunteered” to make the 2 mile walk to the library with me and with 15 books to bag and carry, I was certainly thankful for his help.

I couldn’t wait to get home, curl up on the sofa under a comfy blanket and devour my “new” books.

An absolutely beautiful book from Linda Long is Great Chefs Cook Vegan. Thomas Keller, Jean-George Vongerichten, Eric Ripert, Charlie Trotter, and many other James Beard award-winning chefs create a three or four-course vegan meal, complete with mouth-watering photographs of each recipe and much more.

And mouth-watering they are…Sweet Pea Ravioli with Pea Cream, Wheat Berries with Truffle and Mustard Emulsion, White and Green Asparagus Terrine, Yukon “Linguine” with Sorrel-Arugula Sauce and Charred Corn Ravioli with Basil Fondue. Certainly no rice and bean dinners in this book.  Who knew vegan could be so gourmet!

Another book I really like is Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes. Mushroom and Cannellini Paprikas, Upside Down Lentil Shepherd’s Pie, Cranberry-Cherry Biryani and Red Wine & Kalamata Tempeh.  I am not sure what to try first!

Currant Sweet Bread, Blueberry and Almond Bread, Savory Asparagus and Mushroom Bread Pudding, Pistachio-Lemon Pesto Pasta are just a few from the The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health. I just might have to join the virtual Moosewood cooking group.

A great assortment from the simple and quick to the gourmet from acclaimed chefs.  Amazing, beyond inspirational and too tummy tempting.

What inspires you for meatless meals?  Do you have a favorite book or online resource?

Lemongrass Chickpea and Spinach Stew.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light’s Moroccan Chickpea Stew:

Recipe notes:  I substituted a yam for the Yukon potato and added about a cup of chopped spinach about 5 minutes before serving.  The recipe calls for rice or substitute whole wheat couscous.

Yield:

6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups stew, 1/2 cup rice, and about 1 tablespoon yogurt)

Ingredients:

  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 1  cup  diced yellow onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1  cup  diced carrot (about 1 large)
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2  cups  cubed peeled Yukon gold potato, about 1 large
  • 2  teaspoons  Cambodian Lemongrass spice (see link above)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground turmeric
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  (28-ounce) can diced organic tomatoes, undrained
  • 1  (15 1/2-ounce) can organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained (I prefer to use dried beans to control salt)
  • 1  (14-ounce) can organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
  • 3  cups  hot cooked brown rice or whole wheat couscous.
  • 1/2  cup  plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 bunch fresh chopped cilantro

Preparation:

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, garlic, and jalapeño to pan; sauté 6 minutes or until tender. Stir in potato and next 7 ingredients (through broth). Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until potato is tender. Serve over rice. Top with yogurt and a chopped fresh cilantro.

Linked to: My Meatless Monday, Just Another Meatless Monday, Midnight Maniac Meatless MondaySumos Sweet Stuff, Something I Whipped Up, Made By You Monday, Homemaker Mondays, Your Recipe, My KitchenMeals on MondayHappy Housewife, All Things RelatedTuesday Supper Club, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday at the Table, Tuesday Tasty Tidbit, Tasty Tuesday, Dr. Laura’s Tasty Tuesday, Eat at Home, Slightly Indulgent, Hearth and Soul, Made From Scratch, Tasty Tuesday MOPBeauty & Bedlam Tuesday, Melt In Your Mouth

It’s About the Spices!

I love spices, I collect spices, I use spices.

Enter Istanbul.  There was no question that I would wander the aisles and stalls at the Spice Market.  The sights, colors and aromas!  No question that I would pack the suitcase with little bags of spices. All types of spices.  No question at all.

What I didn’t know was that I would bring back pistachios, dates, figs, teas, manti and a wonderful spicy red pepper paste used during our culinary class (and lunch) with Eveline at Cooking Alaturka.  Eveline and her chef were the most gracious instructors providing all the “ins” and “outs” of the Spice Market.  Right down to the stall where she buys her red pepper paste.

I am dreaming of Istanbul today…and yes, my spices need replenishing!

In honor of my beloved SPICES,  on my plate today is Spicy Red Chicken MeatBalls and Pistachio Cardamom Cake.

Istanbul Spice Market

Spice Market Front Entry

Spice Market

Spice Market

Spice Market

Amazing sweets at little shops and the market.

Turkish Sweets

Turkish Delight

Turkish Sweets

Turkish Sweets

Spicy Red Chicken MeatBalls ~ Based on Eveline’s Spicy Red Lentil Balls substituting 1 pound ground chicken breast for Bulgar and lentils.

Turkish Spices

Saute Chicken Balls

Spicy Turkish Chicken Meatballs with Orzo

Spicy Turkish Chicken Meatballs with Orzo

My only regret of the evening was that I did not jot down the ingredients as I created this dish.  Red pepper perfection…my husband asked for it again soon….so…will make a recipe card for round two.

Dessert was perfect….spicy and nutty!

Pistachio Cardamom Cake ~ Adapted from David Lebovitz’s Ready For Dessert.

Pistachio Cardamom Cake

Topping

2 tablespoons (1 ounce/30 g) unsalted or salted butter

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 cup (60 g) sliced almonds, preferably unblanched

Cake

3/4 cup (95 g) shelled unsalted pistachios

1/4 cup (35 g) plus 3/4 cup (110 g) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cardamom seeds

1/2 cup (4 ounces/115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (200 g) sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

Prep

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

To make the topping, melt the 2 tablespoons (1 ounce/30 g) butter in a 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pan set directly on the stovetop over low heat. Once melted, remove from the heat and let cool briefly. Sprinkle the 1 teaspoon sugar evenly over the melted butter, then add the almonds, tilting and shaking the pan to distribute them evenly. Set the pan aside.

To make the cake, in a blender or a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulverize the pistachios with the 1/4 cup (35 g) flour until as finely ground as possible. Transfer to a small bowl.

Crush the cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle or seal them inside a sturdy plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Add the crushed seeds to the pistachio mixture and stir to combine. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl by hand), beat together the 1/2 cup (4 ounces/115 g) butter and 1 cup (200 g) sugar on medium speed until very light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until completely incorporated.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3/4 cup (110 g) flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir it into the butter-egg mixture. Stir in the pistachio mixture just until combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan by dropping 4 or 5 mounds on top of the almonds. Carefully spread the batter into an even layer, trying not to disturb the almonds. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Run a knife around the sides of the cake to help loosen it from the pan. Invert the cake onto a serving plate. Let cool completely.

Cardamom, Pistachio and Almonds

Crushed Cardamom

Last Egg into Batter

Pistachio Cardamom Cake

Linked to: Wanderlust and Lipstick

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