Tuesday, March 28, 2006

spinach soup with rice & curried chickpea pancakes

One of my favorite cookbooks is "Fresh Food Fast" by Peter Berley.
It's divided into seasons, highlighting seasonal fruits and vegetables and there are multiple menus in each section.

I've made this soup many times and it is a great winter soup (even though it is part of the spring section).
The pancakes are super simple and really tasty.
Heather brought over some bruschetta to go with the meal, which fit in perfectly.
The pancakes are also great with greek yogurt. Mmmmm!!!

Spinach soup with basmati rice

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
10 oz bag baby spinach
1/3 cup basmati rice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspon ground cumin
1 teaspoon seasalt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste (I added quite a bit more, actually)
freshly milled black pepper, to taste

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat warm the olive oil.
Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a blender, working in batches, puree the spinach with 1 cup of water until smooth.

3. Add the rice, garlic and cumin to the onions and cook, stirring or about 1 minute.

4. Add the spinach puree, 3 cups of water, and salt and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Stir in the dill and simmer, covered, until the rice is tender, about 3 - 4 minutes.
Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Add additional water if the soup is too thick.

Curried chickpea pancakes

2 cups chickpea flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups of water
1 cup plain yogurt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons canola oil
6 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 200

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, curry powder, salt and pepper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups of water, yogurt, eggs adn 2 tablespoons of the oil.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir to combine.
Add the scallions and chopped cilantro and mix well.

3. Place one or two small nonstick skillets over medium heat.
Coat with the remaining tablespoon of oil and heat for 30 seconds.
Ladle 2/3 cup of batter in the pan(s).
Fry for about 4 minutes until the surface of the pancake has begun to dry out and bubbles are formed.
Flip and fry for 3 minutes more.
Transfer the cooked pancakes to the heated baking pan and keep warm in the oven.
Repeat until the batter is used up.

berry cupcake shortcake

i made this for dessert a few weeks ago and it was really simple and awesome.
the cupcake recipe is a modification of one on http://shmooedfood.blogspot.com

cupcakes:
makes 12 big ones in a regular muffin tin

1 ½ scant cups plain soymilk
1 TB apple cider vinegar
2 1/8 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. preheat oven to 350ยบ
line muffin tin w/cupcake liners

2. measure out the soymilk and add the apple cider vinegar
stir well and set aside - it will curdle

3. in a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, bp, bs and salt

4. in another mixing bowl, whisk together the soymilk/vinegar, oil and vanilla

5. add wet to dry and beat until smooth w/a hand blender

6. fill each muffin tin with the batter and bake for about 20 min, until
a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean

7. let rest in the pan for 5 minutes, and then remove from pan and
place on wire rack to continue cooling.

to make this into shortcakes, just cut the cupcakes into thirds (i made one
cut to take off the top and another in the middle of the rest) and put a few spoonfuls
of your favorite berries and some whipped cream on top of each layer.

i drizzled some blueberry maple syrup (defrosted some blueberries, added maple syrup and blended
that together - awesome on pancakes!) on the tops as well.

winter squash and spinach lasagna

I lifted this recipe from Robina's food blog (http://b-eats.livejournal.com/), but modified it a bit:

2 6 oz bags of baby spinach
2 tbs olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2.5 tbs buttery spread (such as earth balance or soy garden, or umm... butter)
3 tbs. whole wheat flour
1/2 cup water
~ 24 oz winter squash (see note)
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 container of lowfat ricotta cheese
1.5 tsp. dried basil
1.5 tsp. salt, or to taste
2/3 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated
1 egg
6-8 oz. part-skim mozarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 handful toasted almonds
box no-boil whole wheat lasagna noodles

NOTE: i got two boxes of 'winter harvest' from trader joes. basically, it's a bunch of butternut squash, sweet potatoes and other things cut into cubes. to use in the recipe, i cut about 1.5 boxes worth of the veggies into thin slices.

1. preheat oven to 350F.
grease a lasagna pan

2. melt 2 1/2 tbs. butter in a medium saucepan, over low heat.
when it is melted completely, stir or whisk in the 3tbs. of whole wheat flour until it is thick and smooth.
whisk in 1/2 cup water gradually, until creamy.
add squash.
cover and let this cook completely.
take care to check it and stir often.

3. while the squash is cooking, heat 2 tbs. olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.
add minced garlic and fry up til softened and fragrant.
add spinach and a pinch of salt.
cover and cook on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or until spinach is tender. remove from heat.

4. mix ricotta, dried basil, 1/3 cup of the pecorino romano, egg, 1 tsp. salt, and spinach in a bowl.

5. when the squash is done cooking, stir in 1/2 tsp of the nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. salt.

6. layering!
a. spread 1/4 of the squash in the pan.
b. then layer lasagna noodles
c. another 1/4 of the squash
d. 1/2 of the ricotta mixture
e. 1/3 of the mozarella.
repeat this again
on top of the last layer of the lasagna noodles add the rest of the squash, mozarella and pecorino romano.

7. topping!
mix brown sugar with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg in a small measuring cup.
top the lasagna with 1 (or 2 - i have big hands!) handfuls of sliced almonds, crushing them a bit in your hand as you
spread them, and the spice/sugar mixture.

8. cook!
cover the lasagna with aluminum foil for 40 minutes.
uncover lasagna and cook for another 20 minutes.

this smelled so good coming out of the oven! if it wasn't close to 1 am i would have cut myself a giant slice.