Not Your Grandma’s Casserole: 29 Modern Casserole Recipes

If you can fit it all in one dish, call it a casserole. The beloved retro dinner that touched the hearts of housewives across America is back in a big way. We have 29 revamped one-pot meals that will not only have your taste buds reeling for more, but they’ll save you time and effort too. Keep Reading!

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Jackpot Chicken Rice for the soul – NOW Toronto Magazine – Think Free

Patois chef Craig Wong devotes his latest restaurant to Hainanese comfort dish Keep Reading!

Spaghetti all’Amatriciana

Here’s to you Amatrice: Keep Reading!

Barbecue Pork Polenta Bowls With Pineapple and Guacamole

These BBQ Pork Polenta Bowls with Pineapple and Guacamole popped up in my Instagram feed and totally grabbed my attention! Bright, bold and fresh flavors simply bursting off of my screen, how can one resist!?  Keep Reading

Hotpot at Home Guide | xiaoEats

Toronto food blogger xiaoEats brings us her exclusive guide to preparing a hotpot at home and we couldn’t be more thankful. Armed with a trusty camp stove and Xiao’s helpful list of ingredients you too can be enjoying this fun and warming meal! Keep Reading!

Farinata With Blistered Tomatoes, Roasted Baby Artichokes, Mushrooms and Aioli

Sometimes a slip of the hand creates a culinary perfection, just like, chocolate chip cookies, the upside-down French dessert, tarte tatin or Worcestershire Sauce. As history tells it we can add farinata to this great list of culinary accidents:
Keep Reading!

Take Polenta To The Next Level With Two New Recipes

I just had one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments! Why not polenta? It’s such a versatile grain that can be eaten at breakfast, lunch or dinner! Commonly known as a boiled porridge made from cornmeal you would be surprised at the many things you can do with a pot of hot, creamy, cheesy, corn-studded polenta.

Keep Reading!

Fried Eggs in a Spicy Tomato and Harissa Sauce with Crusty Bread

Eggs in Tomato Harissa SauceA quintessential meal to satisfy the appetite for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Healthy, quick and the perfect blend of spice to warm the chilly onset of Fall and Winter.
Fried Eggs with Spicy Tomato Harissa Sauce may become your new go-to comfort food!

Harissa is a versatile Tunisian condiment, typically sold in tubes or jars, yet it can easily be prepared at home: Blend red chili peppers into a thick paste with the addition of garlic, olive oil, and aromatic spices such as cumin, caraway and coriander. Depending on the heat level of the peppers, a spoonful of harissa can go a long way!

Fried Eggs in a Spicy Tomato and Harissa Sauce with Crusty Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 14.5 oz can tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp prepared Harissa, add more if you like it spicier!
  • 4 eggs
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped parsley, chives or cilantro

To Prepare:

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add the oil then the onion and saute 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and harissa. Increase heat to medium-high, and simmer 3 to 4 minutes to reduce the liquid.

Now, turn the heat to medium-low, carefully add the eggs, salt and pepper and cover. Cook until the top of the eggs set, about 4 to 5 minutes, or to your liking. Garnish with chopped parsley, chives or cilantro. Serve with good, crusty bread!

Seitan Shiitake and Leek Roast with Chickpea Gravy

Having had a successful first attempt at seitan I decided to venture from the cutlet onto something bigger—a roast, and a stuffed roast at that!  I followed Isa Chandra’s recipe from PPK to a T and it turned out wonderfully. A nicely, browned, seitan roast stuffed with meaty mushrooms, herbs, and leeks.  The roast solo is a bit dry for my taste so I paired it with Isa’s Chickpea Gravy, lending some moisture to the seitan.

Recipes with lots of steps seem to discourage people from trying, deeming them too difficult. I urge to you give this a try, it’s not complicated, pinky promise!  I’m already brainstorming new stuffing and marinade ideas for my next seitan roast.

Seitan Shiitake and Leek Roast
Seitan Shiitake and Leek Roast

The photo above depicts the steps:
1. Roll out the seitan into a rectangular-ish shape (it doesn’t have to be perfect) placing the stuffing at the bottom third
2. Roll the bottom part of the seitan up and over the filling. Keep rolling until in it’s in a log shape. Pinch together the seam and pinch together the sides to seal
3. Use 2- 18″ pieces of tin foil, laying them out horizontally in front of you. The sheet further from you should overlap the closer sheet by about 6 inches. This way you have enough foil to wrap around the whole roast
4. Place the seitan roast in the center of the tin foil and roll it up like a tootsie roll

Seitan Roast Stuffed with Shiitakes and Leeks
by IsaChandra

There are a few recipe notes before you begin:

~For best results, use a salty homemade vegetable broth. Salt is integral to the flavor of the seitan, so if your broth isn’t seasoned then add a teaspoon or so of salt to it.

~You’ll also want to spoon broth over the roast before serving, to keep it from being dry. Of course you’re going to be coating it in gravy, too. But the broth is a nice touch. If you’re slicing and serving, ladle on spoonfuls of broth on each individual slice, too. You can’t have too much juice, here!

~This roast reheats perfectly. Refrigerate in its wrapper for up to 3 days before hand. When ready to serve, preheat an oven to 350 F and cook for 20 minutes. This will dry it out a bit, so use the broth hints above for sure!

~Use a steak knife for the easiest slicing.

~I used panko breadcrumbs but if you use homemade, use 3/4 cup.

~This makes enough for 6 hungry people. If it’s not Thanksgiving or another holiday, and people are not totally stuffing their faces, it serves at least 8.

For the filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (rough ends removed)
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cut into thin half moons
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the roast
3 cloves garlic
3/4 cup cooked pinto beans, rinsed and drained (fresh or canned)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed or finely chopped
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed between your fingers
1 teaspoon dried sage, crushed between your fingers
Several dashes fresh black pepper

First prepare the filling:
Preheat a large pan, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms and leeks in oil until soft, about 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, garlic and thyme. Cook for about 2 more minutes, stirring often.

Sprinkle in the breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Cook the mixture, stirring very often, until the breadcrumbs are toasty and the mixture is relatively dry. This should take about 5 minutes, and the breadcrumbs should turn a few shades darker.

Drizzle in the broth and lemon juice and toss to coat until moist. If it still seems dry drizzle in a little extra olive oil. Set aside until ready to use.

Prepare the roast:

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a food processor, pulse the garlic until well chopped. Add the beans, broth, olive oil and soy sauce and puree until mostly smooth (a few pieces of bean are okay, but they should be no bigger than a pea.)

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, herbs and spices. Make a well in the center and add the bean mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts coming together to form a ball of dough. Knead until everything is well incorporated.

Now we’re going to roll out the seitan and form the roast. Place two pieces of tin foil (about 18 inches long) horizontally in front of you. The sheet further from you should overlap the closer sheet by about 6 inches. This way you have enough foil to wrap around the whole roast.

On a separate surface, use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten the seitan into a roughly 12 x 10 rectangle. If any pieces rip, don’t worry about it, just use a pinch of dough from the ends to repair any holes.

Place the filling in the lower 1/3 of the seitan rectangle, leaving about 2 inches of space at both ends. Make sure the filling is compact, use your hands to form it into a nice, tight bundle.

Now roll! Roll the bottom part of the seitan up and over the filling. Keep rolling until in it’s in a log shape. Now pinch together the seam and pinch together the sides to seal. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it will snap into shape when baking.

Place the roll in the center of the tinfoil and roll up like a tootsie roll, making sure the ends are tightly wrapped. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for an hour*. Rotate the roll every 20 minutes for even cooking.

Remove from oven and let cool. Unwrap, spoon vegetable broth overtop, slice and serve!

Seitan Roast Stuffed with Shiitakes and Leek with Chickpea Gravy
Seitan Roast Stuffed with Shiitakes and Leek with Chickpea Gravy

Chickpea Gravy
by Isa Chandra

makes about 3 cups

1/4 C all-purpose flour
Approximately 2 1/2 C water
1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium-sized onion, quartered and sliced thin
2 tsp mustard seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 C cooked chickpeas, or 1 can, rinsed and drained
2 pinches ground cumin
2 pinches paprika
1 pinch dried rosemary
1 pinch dried thyme
1 pinch dried oregano
1 pinch dried coriander
3 Tbs soy sauce
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 C nutritional yeast

Mix the flour with 2 cups of water until the flour is mostly dissolved. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onions and mustard seeds; cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are browned and the mustard seeds are toasted. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes more.

Add the chickpeas; use a potato masher to mash them — you don’t want to mash them into a paste, just make sure each one is broken up although if there are a few whole ones left, that is ok. Add the herbs and spices, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits of onion.

Lower heat and pour the flour mixture into the pan. Stir constantly until a thick gravy forms. Stir in the nutritional yeast. If it looks too thick and pasty, add more water and mix well. It may look like it doesn’t want any more water added to it, but just keep mixing and it will loosen up. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Barbecued Tofu, Black Beans, Pineapple and Basmati Brown Rice

I get a kick out of playing the game—let’s see what I can make out of whatever I find in my fridge and cupboard.  I love surprises and this game typically results in amazement or more wine….  The game is to be played with loud music and an adult beverage of sorts.  Tonight it was One Day the Reckoning Song and Grand Traverse Semi-Dry Reisling a pretty good mix!

The ingredients were as follows: Tofu, Black Beans, Rice, Pineapple, Red Cabbage.  I went for something sweet, spicy, tangy—a bit of Caribbean flair.  I made up a homemade barbecue sauce to marinate the tofu and season the black beans. I’ve never made homemade barbecue sauce but it was easy and uses staple ingredients.

Barbecued Tofu with Black Beans, Pineapple and Basmati Rice

Barbecue Sauce
I’m a home cook which (to me) means I don’t necessarily have to follow recipes or measure, it’s all about playing with taste and textures!  So, be a cook, be playful in the kitchen (e.g. the following may not be precise so tweak it as needed)
1 cup Ketchup
1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Mustard (I had a honey mustard in the fridge, so that’s what I used)
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke
1 teaspoon Sriracha
and some ample shakes of the following spices:
Chili Powder
Ancho Chili Powder
Chipotle Pepper Powder
Cumin
Garlic Salt
Onion Powder

Bring all of the above ingredients to a boil over medium hight heat and simmer about 5 minutes.

Barbecued Tofu with Black Beans, Pineapple and Basmati Rice

The rest of the dish:

Barbecued Tofu with Black Beans, Pineapple and Basmati Brown Rice
Firm Tofu
1 Red Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 can Black Beans
1 cup Pineapple, cubed or use 1 can
1 cup shredded Red Cabbage
Cilantro, chopped
4 Tablespoons Orange Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup Barbecue Sauce
Brown Basmati Rice

Begin by preparing the tofu.  Drain the liquids and press before marinating in the barbecue sauce, 30 minutes up to 24 hours.  Set aside.

Next begin cooking the rice, if you have a rice cooker by all means!  Otherwise take 1 cup of brown basmati rice and add to a hot pot on the stove, brown for a few minutes and then add 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer about 30 minutes or until tender.

In a skillet use your preferred oil and saute the onion and garlic until fragrant.  Drain the can of black beans and add to the onion mixture, then add the pineapple (if using canned pineapple drain and reserve some liquid in place of/in addition to the orange juice) followed by the barbecue sauce.  Simmer until heated through then add the orange juice, red cabbage, cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer until heated through.

Next broil, grill, or saute the barbecue marinated tofu.  I used the broiler, sliced the tofu into thin strips and covered with the marinade.  Broil for about 3-5 minutes on each side.

To serve begin with the rice, then top with the black bean and pineapple mixture followed by tofu and cilantro. If you have limes (I didn’t) they would be a great addition to serve alongside.

A brightly colored dish packed with flavor and one that Lynn Rossetto Kasper, from Stump the Cook would be proud of !

Meat-less Meatloaf Muffins Topped with Kale Mashed Potatoes

Finger food isn’t only for kids, grab ahold of these muffins and channel your inner-child! Fun to eat and easy to pack and reheat for a brown bagged lunch, you’ll be thinking of ways to mini-mize all of your favorite foods.

Meat-less Meatloaf Muffins

Meat-less Meatloaf Muffins Topped with Kale Mashed Potatoes

Meat-less Meatloaf Muffin

The inspiration for these meat-less meatloaf muffins came from The Sweet Life—a blog filled vegan delights. You can follow The Sweet Life’s Recipe which is equally good, topped with pureed butternut squash.  I’ve played around with toppings and tried a mashed sweet potato one which I threw into the”do not keep pile,” however the kale mashed potatoes are definitely a “keeper!”

Meat-less Meatloaf Muffins Topped with Kale Mashed Potatoes

Meat-Less Meatloaf from The Sweet Life:
1 cup brown lentils, dry
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp liquid smoke
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup red onions, diced
1/3 cup green pepper, diced
1 (6) ounce can tomato paste
1 cup walnuts
2 tbsp chick pea flour
salt and pepper to taste

Kale Mashed Potatoes
this may be halved or enjoy extra mashers
3lbs potatoes, such as Yukon Gold
1 bunch of kale
1 Tbs. coconut oil
4Tbs butter
2 shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 green onions, chopped
1 -1 1/2 cups greek yogurt
1 tsp. sea salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F

For the Meat-less Meatloaf:
Rinse the lentils. In a medium pot combine lentils with vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer, cooking until lentils are soft (about 45 minutes). Add Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small pan heat vegetable oil. Saute onions and peppers over medium high heat for 5 minutes, until cooked. Stir together onion mixture, lentils, and tomato paste. In a food processor blend together walnuts and chick pea flour until combined. Add the lentil mixture and mix until well combined. Salt and pepper to taste.

Scoop lentil/walnut mixture into muffin tins, filling to the top. Bake for 20-23 minutes until edges brown and begin pulling away from the edge. It’s okay if it’s still a little underdone on the inside, it will harden as it sets.

Let cool in muffin tins at least 20 minutes. When ready to serve, release by running a knife around the edge.

Top the muffins with the Kale Mashed Potatoes either with a piping bag or a big spoon/ice cream scoop works just as well!

For the Kale Mashed Potatoes:
Prep all of your ingredients, wash, de-stem and chop the kale.  Chop the shallots, mince garlic and wash and cut your potatoes in half. Peeling of the potatoes are optional, I leave the skin on, as it gives the dish a more rustic look, saves on prep time and gives the dish more fiber. Put the potatoes into a large pot and cover them completely with tepid water and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender, 20-25 minutes. 

While the potatoes cook, heat the 1-teaspoon coconut oil in a sauté pan set over medium-low heat, and sauté the shallots and garlic until softened, 1 to 2 minutes and then add the kale until it softens yet still vibrant green (another minute or so.) Set aside.
When the potatoes are tender, drain them and return them to the pot.  Add to the potatoes the shallots, garlic, kale, butter and greek yogurt.
Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes together with the liquid ingredients until you get a smooth consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Seitan Coriander Cutlets

I’ve never made seitan before much less knew what its ingredients consisted of. Upon research I’ve discovered that its simply vital wheat gluten, the natural protein (75%) found in wheat.  Vital wheat gluten is known as the “meat” made from wheat, a vegan/vegetarian cutlet with the consistency of meat and the versatility of grilling, steaming or simmering.

When making homemade seitan it is important to purchase vital wheat gluten flour and not just wheat gluten flour. This is because vital wheat gluten flour contains a higher consistency of protein, at least 75%, whereas wheat gluten flour has slightly more gluten than regular flour and produces a texture similar to that of chewy bread and not seitan.

Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour
Bob’s Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour

Commercially prepared seitan can be found at grocers and natural food stores in block or strip form. Making your own isn’t too difficult, if you can knead dough you can make seitan.

Packaged Seitan
Commercially Packaged Seitan

For my first attempt with homemade seitan I chose, Seitan Coriander Cutlets to use in a Mediterranean recipe.  These cutlets blend well with Middle Eastern, African, and Indian cuisines too.

Coriander Seitan Cutlets
Coriander Seitan Cutlets

Seitan Coriander Cutlets
makes 4 large cutlets, enough for 2 entrée recipes
Terry Hope Romero

1 1/2 cups cold vegetable broth

2 cloves garlic, peeled, pressed or grated with a Microplane grater

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 3/4 cups vital wheat gluten flour (Bob’s Red Mill produces consistent results)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/4 cup chickpea flour

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Preheat oven to 350°.  In a 1-quart measuring cup or bowl, whisk together vegetable broth, garlic, soy sauce, olive oil, and tomato paste. In a separate mixing bowl, stir together vital wheat gluten flour, nutritional yeast, chickpea flour, coriander, and cumin. Form a well in the center and pour in the broth mixture

Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to stir the ingredients together; as the flour absorbs the broth, a moist dough will rapidly form. When all of the broth is absorbed, use both hands to fold the dough in a kneading portion for 2-3 minutes. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, then divide into four equal pieces.

Tear away four pieces of foil about 12 inches wide. Spray the dull side of each piece of foil lightly with olive oil or canola oil cooking spray. Shape a piece of dough into an oval on the oiled side of the foil and pat it down to a thickness of about 3/4 of an inch. To seal a packet for steaming bring the two opposing ends of the foil together and fold over the top by 1/2 inch, then fold once more to form a tent over the dough. Fold and seal tight the remaining ends; the result should be a foil pouch with an ample amount of space above the dough. The seitan will expand as it steams, so it’s important to leave some space in each foil pouch.  Repeat with the remaining seitan portions.

How to seal a packet
How to seal a packet

Place the foil packages side by side directly on a baking rack positioned in the center of the oven. Bake for 32-34 minutes; seitan should be firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool, still wrapped in foil, on the kitchen counter for 45 minutes before using. For best flavor and texture, cool the seitan to room temperature, keep it wrapped in the foil, store in a tightly covered container, and chill overnight. If desired, freeze seitan and use within 2 months; to defrost, leave in the refrigerator overnight. This recipe takes well to variations. Omit the ground coriander and cumin and add the following when mixing the dry ingredients.

Seitan Coriander Cutlets, Sliced
Seitan Coriander Cutlets, Sliced

Herbes de Provence Seitan: Add 1 tablespoon of dried, crumbled Herbes de Provence blend.

Curry Seitan: Add 2 teaspoons of any curry powder.

Garam Masala Seitan: Add 2 teaspoons of garam masala spice blend, wither purchased or homemade

Mediterranean Seitan: Add 2 teaspoons of dried crumbled oregano plus 2 teaspoons of dried crumbled rosemary.  Increase garlic to 4 cloves total

Tagine, Tajine

I am one who appreciates eclectic taste hence, identifying my love of collecting, antiquing and thrifting.  It takes a creative mind to repurpose an item, see past the junk to seek out the gems and have an appreciation for the ‘hunt’.  I enjoy antique shops, junk shops, estate sales, yard sales, thrift stores and great deals!  Really, who doesn’t!  With that I HAVE to share my latest great deal:

Estate sale
Le Creuset Tagine
Worth = $185
Paid = $12
Savings $173

My new Le Creuset Tagine

the kicker is that I have wanted a tagine but alas it didn’t fit the budget!

While I was walking around the estate sale with aching arms from the weight of cast iron, several people asked me just what it was, I was carrying.  I explained many times that it was a tagine receiving blank stares or replies of hmmmm.  I realized that not everyone loves cooking and perhaps not everyone enjoys global cooking or cooking methods, yet at that estate sale I think the tagine inspired some folks!

This is what that cone-shaped thing is and how it works:

The tagine is a cooking vessel and a name of the dish prepared in said cooking vessel.  Tagines are incredibly diverse in ingredients and spices and originated from all over North Africa.

The tagine is designed to trap and retain moisture within the conical shape allowing food to essentially be steamed, ensuring that it won’t dry out.  The shape of the tagine assists in creating very high cooking temperatures which help to caramelize and meld flavors together resulting in a rich stew.

Tagines incorporate vegetables, meats, nuts, fruit and spices to create a rich and seasoned stew.  There are meat and vegetarian tagines.  Meat tagines typically utilize tougher cuts of meats which become tender after hours of cooking and steaming.  Vegetarian tagines use chickpeas, root vegetables and legumes.

Tagines are typically served from the vessel and eaten with couscous, rice or bread.  Typical spices include cumin, saffron, paprika cinnamon, coriander and capsicum.  Regional tagines feature additions like various nuts, olives, preserved or salted lemons, prunes, dried apricots, golden raisins and pomegranate seeds.  These additions are typically added towards the end of cooking for an added texture or sweetness.

This recipe will be my first attempt at tagine cooking!

Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Chickpea Tagine by Katherine Martinelli

Author: Katherine Martinelli

Prep Time: 20 mins

Cook Time: 35 mins

Total Time: 55 mins

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

This vegetable-packed tagine is hearty and aromatic. Dried apricots provide just a hint of sweetness and practically melt into the dish. The recipe makes plenty, and reheats beautifully.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 small onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 sweet potato, cut into chunks
  • 2 carrots, cut into chunks
  • cup chopped dried apricots
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or broth, divided
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 20-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
  • cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 3 cups couscous
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1½ cups hot vegetable broth
  • Pomegranate seeds (optional)

METHOD:

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet with lid over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the cumin, coriander, crushed red pepper, cinnamon, garlic, and tomato paste; cook for a minute or two until fragrant.
  3. Add the squash, sweet potato, carrots, and dried apricots and toss well to coat. Pour 2½ cups of the stock and the lemon juice over the vegetables and bring to a gentle simmer.
  4. Cook partially covered over a low heat for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chickpeas, parsley, and cilantro and simmer for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, put the couscous in a large baking dish and spread it into a thin, even layer. Pour over the boiling water and remaining 1½ cups broth and cover with a lid or tin foil. bring Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed into the couscous. Fluff gently with a fork.
  6. To serve, put the couscous on a large serving platter. Spoon the vegetable tagine on top. Garnish with additional chopped parsley and cilantro, plus pomegranate seeds if you like.

9/26/2012 Update:
This is how the tagine turned out (next time I may toss in some zucchini or spinach for color!)

Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Chickpea Tagine

Feathered and Furred

Do you understand the notion of not having experience with something and then, almost suddenly you come into continued contact or conversation with it?  Well, a few weeks ago I was grocery shopping and came across local farm raised rabbit in the freezer section. Now, I have never tried rabbit before but I’ve heard it is good and the Italians and French enjoy it so it must be…la verità, no!

A week later I was enjoying a pint with friends and our conversation began to revolve around curiosities and food.  I shared my discovery of the local raised rabbit for sale and it was decided that rabbit is something we ought to try. Someone came up with the suggestion of hosting a rabbit dinner party…which we will have to get a hop on!

This week I was attending a birthday party and the topic of meat was the spotlight of our conversation.  My friend’s husband was telling us that he grew up on a rabbit farm and really enjoyed rabbit meat!  There it was three instances of rabbit in about three weeks….now I have to try it!  So, stay tuned because I will be cooking rabbit in one way or another this fall.  I’ll let you know how it turns out good or bad!

With rabbit on the mind I was reminded of another recipe which I have always, always, always wanted to attempt- Quail in Rose Petal Sauce.  To me this sounds exquisite, intoxicating, and delicate.  I was introduced to the recipe in the book “Como Agua Para Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel which was later made into a movie.  The following clip depicts the scene in which the main character Tita serves her Quail in Rose Petal Sauce:

Perhaps, I’ll try this when I  come across some local quail or organic pesticide free roses!   I have found some adaptations in which chicken is substituted for quail.  I believe a nice a Cornish hen would do as well, but for now here is the original recipe from Laura Esquivel’s book:

QUAIL IN ROSE PETAL SAUCE
12 roses, preferably red
12 chestnuts
2 tsp. butter
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 drops attar of roses (rose oil)
2 Tbsp. anise
2 Tbsp. honey
2 cloves garlic
6 quail
1 pitaya

Brown the quail in butter and season with salt and pepper.

Remove the petals carefully from the roses. Ground the petals with the anise in a mortar. Separately, brown the chestnuts in a pan, remove the peels and cook them in water. Then puree them. Mince the garlic and brown slightly in butter; when it is transparent, add it to the chestnut puree along with the honey, the ground pitaya and the rose petals, and salt to taste.

To thicken the sauce slightly, you may add two Tablespoons of cornstarch.

Last, strain through a fine sieve and add no more than 2 drops of attar of roses. As soon as the seasonings have been added, remove the sauce from heat. The quail should be immersed in this sauce for 10 minutes to infuse them with the flavor, and then removed.

The quail are placed on a platter, the sauce is poured over them and they are garnished with a single perfect rose in the center and rose petals scattered all around.

Barbecued Oysters, Bodega Bay

A few years back my best friend and I took a road trip through Northern California’s Wine Country.  After our fill of vineyards and vino we ventured along the Russian River until it emptied into the Pacific and headed back south along scenic Highway 1 to San Francisco.

Sonoma, Wine Glasses
Goat Head Rock

It was an outstanding trip filled with beautiful countryside, great wines, spontaneity, ocean waves and barbecued oysters.  Yes, barbecued oysters.  Once we were north of Sonoma headed along the Russian River we began to notice advertising for this regional delicacy.

Making a brief pit stop in a Bodega, population 220 we happened upon another sign. Speaking to the surfer guy behind the wooden counter of the shop, he highly recommended the aforementioned, barbecued bivalves.  Surfer guy like, totally wanted us to check out the “Boat House” in Bodega Bay on our way south.

The Boat House in Bodega Bay
Barbecued Oysters at The Boat House

So we did! The town of Bodega Bay sets on the harsh waves and rocky shore of the Pacific along Highway 1.  The Boat House was easy to spot and we were warmly welcomed. Wooden tables, servers taking orders long hand,  a plastic menu board with movable lettering from the ’80’s, and open faced grills set the ambience for this no frills hole-in-the-wall.  The Boat House appeared popular amongst the locals, campers and road trippers such as ourselves. We ordered up the fresh barbecued oysters and oh my goodness were they ever good! Grilled to perfection these globes of goodness emit a hint of saline brininess, and zing with a buttery barbecue sauce.

Nothing fancy here, oysters are grilled shell side down on open flames and served up on paper plates with lemons.  We sat looking out at the Pacific, sipping on a nice Riesling from Sonoma and consumed two plates of oysters. After slurping our fill we made it back to the car cranked up the radio and enjoyed the twisting, turning (sometimes, death defying) venture along Highway 1.  The coast to our right and fields of pasture to our left combined with the fresh scent of redwoods and salty air blowing back our hair.

Hasta Luego Tomato

My grandpa ( a man I love MUCHO) recounts a time in his life  in the late 30’s and early 40’s when he worked in the produce section of a local market. Vegetables and fruits were seasonal and bananas were a BIG deal!  He told me that when bananas would come in they were reserved in the back of the store for the ‘good’ customers before offering to the general public!  Here is Grandpa….

Grandpa, photo by michelle.

Choices were very limited in comparison to what grocery stores offer today.  This topic on choice makes me question–Just because we can should we?

Do any of you recall that every summer we say just how good a juicy, sun-ripened tomato tastes or that a steamy bowl of fresh, butternut squash bisque hits the spot during the fall?  We say this because it’s true!!!  A tomato that is grown locally and in season IS going to taste far better than a tomato that was picked under-ripe and shipped halfway across the world to your local grocery store.  In the past seasonal eating was all we used to know.  Now with the onset of technology, globalization and supply and demand we are offered a myriad of choices ranging from Fiji to Switzerland.

I believe that seasonal eating is important to maintain balance and nutrients in our bodies.  It is not a coincidence that we crave certain types of food throughout the year.  Each season bears foods and cooking methods which support our bodies.  Winter time is dry and cold and sustains cold weather crops such as root vegetables.  Soups and stews warm and moisturize our bodies from the cold, dry air.  Warmer weather brings fresh and abundant crops ranging from berries, to greens and tomatoes.  We crave fresh and raw foods to cool our bodies from the heat.

In hopes of becoming a better seasonal eater my friends and I purchased a CSA share with a local farm (Trillium Haven Farm).  Each week we receive organic vegetables that are in season!   It is a challenge to keep up with the bounty of veggies and meal planning but it sure does feel good to eat this way.  I applaud those who do grow their own food, put it up and reap the benefits of their labor.  You’ve got a good thing going on!

The height of summer has come to an end and as this post mentions, sadly so have the tomatoes.  My farm share was pumping out gorgeous, succulent heirloom tomatoes.  Purple ones, green ones, red ones, yellow ones variegated ones….so so so GOOD!!!  I stored up enough of these beauties to make a great end of summer Heirloom Tomato Pie.

Heirloom Tomato Pie, photo by michelle.

Ingredients:

Heirloom tomatoes

Roasted Red Peppers

Onions

Fresh Basil

Yogurt (I like Greek)

Feta Cheese

Salt and Pepper

Pie Crust

I do not pride myself on my baking skills so for this recipe I bought a pre-made pie crust.

Preheat oven 350 degrees

Slice up your tomatoes, sprinkle them with salt and let them sit for about 10 minutes in a strainer.  Chop up the roasted red peppers, slice the onion and chiffonade the basil and set aside.  In a bowl mix together about 1 cup yogurt  and 2 cups feta cheese.
Layer the tomatoes, roasted red pepper, onion and basil in the pie shell.  With a rubber spatula spread the yogurt and feta cheese mixture atop.  Pop it in the oven for about 30-35 minutes.  Let cool then slice it up and serve!

Tomato Pie with Feta Topping, photo by michelle.

End result, nicely browned and SO GOOD!