Bamia (Okra with Tomatoes and Chickpeas)

Bamia (Okra with Tomatoes and Chickpeas)

This is an Egyptian vegetarian dish that I absolutely love!  I’m a big okra  and chickpea fan.  When I can get it, I use fresh okra, but frozen okra works just as well.  Using frozen okra and canned chickpeas instead of cooking my own makes this a very quick meal. I use two cans of chickpeas (drained), but three cans would be good too.  I don’t usually have parsley around, so I use cilantro instead.  I serve Bamia with Basmati rice.

Bamia (Okra with Tomatoes and Chickpeas)

2 cups chickpeas, soaked overnight
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/4 lb. frozen Middle Eastern okra (or fresh small okra)
1 28-oz. can plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 cup vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley

1. Place chickpeas in a medium saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer until chickpeas are tender, 20–30 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Cool beans in cooking liquid. Transfer beans and liquid to a large bowl and store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.

2. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add okra and cook, stirring once or twice, until it turns bright green, about 3 minutes.

3. Stir in tomatoes and cumin and cook for 1–2 minutes. Add stock and lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover, reduce heat to
medium-low, and cook until okra is soft, about 35 minutes.

4. Drain chickpeas. Add to okra mixture, cover, and cook just until chickpeas are heated through, 5–10 minutes. (Chickpeas should still hold their shape.) Add parsley, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and serve warm with rice, if desired.

This recipe was first published in Saveur in November/December 1996

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Chai Butter Cookies

chai tea cookies

From April 8, 2005:  This is a recipe I got from my friend Donna in L.A.   I love chai tea and had to make these cookies.  They reminded me a little of gingersnaps, but better.  I’m sure the brand of chai tea mix used will slightly alter the taste of these cookies.  I was only able to find the Lipton Chai Latta mix (Original flavor), but there are several other brands of instant chai tea mix (Oregon Chai and Celestial Seasonings are two others).  I rolled my cookies in Florida Crystals Demerara natural sugar.  The large sugar crystals not only looked great, they also added crunch to the cookies and even caramelized a bit on the bottoms of the cookies.

Chai Butter Cookies

1 cup instant chai tea mix
2 eggs
1 cup butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1 T. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
* extra sugar in bowl to roll cookies in.

In a large bowl cream butter, sugar, and chai tea mix until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time mixing well.  In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt and mix well  Blend flour mixture into the creamed mixture until all the dry ingredients have been absorbed.  Cover dough and refrigerate one hour for flavor to set.

Preheat over to 375 degrees.  Roll cookie dough into walnut sized balls and then roll into sugar.  Place cookies onto greased cookie sheets about 3 inches apart and flatten slightly using a fork or bottom of a glass.  Bake 10-12 minutes, just until the edges are brown.  Remove from sheets and cool on wire racks.


New Mexican-style Stacked Enchiladas

New Mexican-style Stacked Enchiladas

From April 11, 2005:  The other night, I didn’t feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen, so I made New Mexican-style stacked enchiladas. They were super easy, inexpensive (less than $5 for the whole meal), fast (15 minutes from start to finish), and delicious.  I served the enchiladas with black beans, which meshes really well with the enchilada sauce.

New Mexican-style Stacked Enchiladas

Enchilada sauce
Corn tortillas
Grated cheese
Chopped onions (optional)

To make the enchiladas, heat enchilada sauce (either homemade or canned) until hot.  Keep hot so the sauce will melt the cheese when added to the enchilada stack.

Heat some canola oil in a small frying pan and briefly fry corn tortillas (about 4 per person), until they were soft, but not crispy.

To assemble the enchiladas, put a softened corn tortilla on a plate, spoon on some hot enchilada sauce, sprinkle on grated cheese (I use Cabot’s habanero cheddar cheese and mild cheddar) and onions, if using.  then top that with another softened tortilla. Repeat the process….sauce, cheese (onions), tortilla…..two or three more times and top the enchilada stack with more sauce and a little more cheese.

For a quick enchilada sauce:

Enchilada Gravy

3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 cups water (up to 3 cups if needed)
8 ounce can tomato sauce
ground cumin
garlic powder
salt

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and chili powder. Gradually whisk in the 2 cups of water, adding more if necessary. Continue to whisk as the sauce thickens. Add the can of tomato sauce and season with ground cumin, garlic powder, and salt (about 1 teaspon of each). Keep the sauce warm to use for enchiladas.

The enchilda grave\y only takes a couple of minutes to prepare, but if you had to, you could use canned enchilada sauce. Season the enchilada sauce with chili powder, garlic powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, and salt (or whatever spices you like) until it tastes good and not like it came from a can.


Chicken Rice Soup with Garbanzos and Green Chile

mexican chicken rice soup

From January 14, 2006:  This is a simple version of a Mexican soup called caldo tlalpeno.  There are numerous variations.  You may use leftover turkey instead of chicken.  1 cup of chopped zucchini (or other summer squash) added towards the end of cooking is a great addition.  The soup is traditionally served with many condiments, like shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, lime juice, chipotles, and avocado.  This recipe makes a pretty big batch.

Chicken Rice Soup with Garbanzos and Green Chile

1/4 cup butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup uncooked rice
8 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
15 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
3/4 cup chopped roasted mild green chile
1 cup cubed cooked chicken
1 tsp. ground cumin
salt and pepper

In a heavy sauce pan, warm the butter over low heat.  When melted, add the onion and garlic.  Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in the rice and saute it briefly until the grains become opaque.  Pour in the stock, add the remaining ingredients, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes until rice is very soft.  Serve hot.

Recipe source:  The Border Cookbook: Authentic Home Cooking of the American Southwest and Northern New Mexico by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison (The Harvard Common Press, 1995).


Asian-inspired Cucumber Salad

Cucumber Salad 2

From January 14, 2006:  This is a recipe I came up with this  past summer when I was overrun with cucumbers from the garden.  Let the salad sit for 30 minutes before serving to let the flavors combine.

Asian-inspired Cucumber Salad

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 chile, minced (optional)
1 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
3 T. sugar
3 T. fish sauce (you may substitute soy sauce)

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, rice wine vinegar, sugar and fish sauce.  In a larger bowl combine cucumber, red onion, cilantro, and minced chile.  Pour dressing over the salad and toss.


Fig Bread

fig breadFrom January 20, 2006:  Here’s another recipe from my friend Donna.  She got it from her Tassajara Cookbook.  I made 3 mini loaves instead of one big loaf and they baked for 30 to 35 minutes.  I also used white grape juice in the recipe (I didn’t have apple or orange juice) and all purpose flour (instead or pastry flour) and it all turned out well.

Fig Bread

1 cup apple or orange juice (both are good)
1 1/2 cups dried figs, de-stemmed but left whole (I cut in half)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon or orange rind, grated
1 3/4 cups pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Heat the juice almost to boiling and pour it over figs, salt and butter in a mixing bowl.  Stir to melt and set aside in the refrigerator to cool.  Beat eggs, then beat in the sugar, vanilla and fruit rind.  Stir this into well cooled (room temperature) fig mixture.  Sift the flour together with the baking powder and baking soda.  Mix into the wet ingredients with a minimum number of strokes.  Grease and flour medium sized loaf pan (I used 8.5 X 4.5 size) pour in the batter, and bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.


Spinach Mushroom Quiche

Spinach Mushroom Quiche

spinach mushroom quiche

From January 30, 2006:  I made this quiche for brunch on Sunday.  It was quite tasty, especially accompanied by Texas hashbrown potatoes and fruit.  The original recipe called for 1/2 cup of butter, 3 cups of cheese, and cream, but you won’t miss all that saturated fat in the healthier version.

Spinach Mushroom Quiche

2 T. butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 (10-oz) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (squeeze out as much liquid as possible)
5 white button mushrooms, sliced thin
1/2 – 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
1 (10-inch) unbaked deep-dish pie crust
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Saute garlic and onion in butter until lightly golden.  Add mushrooms and saute until they cook down.  Stir in spinach and season mixture with salt and pepper. Spoon mixture into pastry-lined pie pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour into the pastry shell, allowing egg mixture to thoroughly combine with spinach mixture.

Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until the top is golden, the quiche has set in center and a knife inserted an inch from the crust comes out clean.

Allow quiche to stand 10 minutes before serving.