Saturday, September 26, 2009

Curried Lentils and Mom's Lemon Bread

At my sister's request for more lentil recipes, I decided to make this for dinner tonight. It makes a big batch, freezes well and is probably one of the cheapest meals you can find. This recipe is taken from HeartSmart Flavours of India by Krishna Jamal.

Curried Chickpea Lentils

2 C lentils, preferably chickpea lentils (channa daal) (I used dried green lentils)
6 C water
3/4 tsp. crushed ginger
1/2 tsp. crushed garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil

2 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil
2 cloves
2-inch cinnamon stick
1 cardamom pod (I left this out because I didn't have it)
1 tsp. cumin seeds (I used ground cumin instead)
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 green chilies (or to taste), halved
2 medium tomatoes, cut in big chunks
1 tbsp. canned crushed tomatoes
1 tsp. mild curry powder
1/4 C fresh cilantro
lemon juice to taste

1. Rinse lentils, and soak in warm water for 30 to 50 minutes. Drain.

2. In large pot, over high heat, combine 6 C water, ginger, garlic, salt, ground turmeric and 1 1/2 tsp. of the oil. Bring to a boil and add lentils. When water returns to boil, reduce heat to medium and boil for 20 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. Heat remaining oil in small pan over high heat. Add cloves, cinnamon and cardamom pod. When spices start to pop, add cumin seeds and onion. Cook until onion is tender. Add chiles, fresh and crushed tomatoes and curry powder. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add to lentils.

5. Bring lentil mixture to boil and add cilantro and lemon juice. Serve with rice, or thin it down to a soup with approximately 3 C of water. Blend to smooth consistency and serve.

Serves 4 with rice, 8 to 12 as soup.

I also treated ourselves this weekend and made mom's lemon bread. I generally try to only pick fairly healthy foods to bake, but once in awhile will make recipes that are just plain good. And this is one of them. It's super quick and easy to make.

Lemon Bread

6 tbsp. shortening (I used margarine instead)
1 C sugar
1 1/2 C flour
2 eggs
1/2 C milk
1 tsp. baking powder

1. Mix in the order given and let stand for 20 minutes. Bake at 300oF for one hour.

I just realized why mine came out a little crispy after only 50 minutes... I accidentally set the oven for 350oF. Oh well... at least I didn't forget the sugar or baking powder, as I've been known to do on more than one occasion when baking while talking on the phone.

2. When the bread comes out of the oven, pour bottled or fresh lemon juice over the top, to your liking. I love lemon juice, so I douse it... yum!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Shrimp and Butternut Squash in Coconut Milk Broth

Here's a recipe for what I made for dinner last night. It originally comes from The Best of Cooking Light: Superfast Weeknight Dinners, from October 2005 and is quick to make. Though it can be reheated, it doesn't freeze well, as the texture of the shrimp change to mush. You can find coconut milk in any well-stocked grocery store, though the light can be a bit harder to find. If you can't find it there, you'll definitely find it in specialty Asian grocery stores.
Shrimp and Butternut Squash in Coconut Milk Broth

3/4 C fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. tomato paste
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 oz.) can light coconut milk
2 C (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
1 C (1-inch) red bell pepper strips
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 C hot cooked brown basmati rice
1/4 C fresh lime juice
3 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro

1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a large saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Stir in squash and bell pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until squash is just tender.

2. Stir in shrimp; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until shrimp are done, stirring occasionally. Stir in the rice, lime juice, and cilantro.

Makes 4 servings.

Note that you can use a pound of firm water-packed tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes in place of the shrimp, if you wish.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Date and Apple Sweet Bread, Chickpea Salad and Camping Apple Crisp

We spent the weekend at Oka Provincial Park with Heather, Bap, Liz, Darren and the boys this weekend. I brought along some muffins for breakfast. I got this recipe from the Vergers Lafrance a few years ago while apple picking there and it has been a favourite ever since.

Date and Apple Sweet Bread

· 1 tbsp. instant coffee granules
· 1 C boiling water
· 1 8-oz. pkg. of dates, chopped
· 2 ¼ C flour (I use kamut flour)
· 2 tsp. baking powder
· ½ tsp. baking soda
· ½ tsp. salt
· ¾ C lightly packed brown sugar (I reduce it to 2/3 C)
· 1 egg
· 1 C apples, peeled and grated
· ½ C chopped nuts
· ½ C raisins (optional)
· 2 tbsp. melted low-fat margarine

1. Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water. Pour over the dates and let sit.

2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the brown sugar and mix well.

3. Beat together the egg, apples, nuts, raisins, margarine and the date and coffee mixture. Stir until well mixed. Pour into a 9 x 5 x 3 inch greased bread pan.

4. Cook at 350 degrees Farenheit for 60 to 70 minutes.


I usually make this as a bread, as the recipe indicates, but made it as muffins for the weekend, as I figured it would be less messy. I baked them for 25-30 minutes.

I also made the following salad for the weekend, which I got from my Aunt Liz a few years back. I often make this for a quick lunch. I typically make it with tomatoes and green onions, though both versions are good. I also put loads of garlic into it.

Chickpea Salad

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
120 g feta cheese, crumbled
1 sweet red pepper or 1 tomato, chopped
2 green onions or 1 red onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. each salt and pepper

1. Whisk dressing together and pour over lentils, feta, vegetables and garlic. You can optionally sprinkle fresh coriander over the salad.

The following recipe is one that I used to make in Girl Guides years ago and is still a camping favourite.

For a vegan version, omit the feta cheese.
Camping Apple Crisp

2 Dad’s oatmeal cookies

1. Put a Dad’s cookie on a piece of foil, shiny side facing in. Place a few spoonfuls of applesauce on top of the cookie, and then top with a second cookie.

2. Place near the campfire, without being directly in the flames and cook for 10-20 minutes, depending on the intensity of the fire, flipping over to cook both sides evenly. It is ready to eat when the cookies have become soft. Eat warm with a spoon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Finnish Apple Pancake

So here goes the first apples in our 20 lb. mountain... aside from the one I had in my lunch today. This recipe is my husband's favourite breakfast. Though it is called a pancake, this really isn't like our traditional Canadian pancakes at all. Though it's still just as yummy.

2 C thinly sliced cored peeled apples
1 tbsp. reduced-fat butter or margarine, melted
3 eggs
1/2 C soy or regular milk
1/3 C whole-wheat flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon sugar
1 tbsp. granulated sugar

1. Place apples and butter in baking pan; toss to coat. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, flour, baking powder and salt until smooth. Set aside.

Topping: In another small bowl, combine cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.

4. Pour egg mixture over cooked apples; sprinkle evenly with topping. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until pancake is puffed and golden brown. Serve immediately.

Serves 2-3.

The recipe is originally from Cook Great Food, a cookbook by the Dietitians of Canada. I've modified it just slightly, using whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour, reduced-fat butter/margarine instead of regular and soy milk instead of regular. I also leave the sugar out of the topping, as we like to drizzle this with a bit of maple syrup just before eating.

This should be served warm, but I often make it the night before and heat it up the next day in the microwave. It's still just as good. I've also tried a wide variety other combinations of fruit along with the apples, including bluberries, raspberries, rhubarb, etc. and all are delicious. Just throw in a handful of whatever other fruits you feel like, fresh or frozen. The one in the picture is with blueberries.

In passing, the two cookbooks by the Dietitians of Canada, Cook Great Food and Simply Great Food are both excellent (and were recommended to me by Lucie, the dietitian where I used to work). They're both full of a variety of relatively simple and healthy meals.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The beginning of fall...

For us, the beginning of fall (or the end of summer) is always marked by an apple-picking adventure. This afternoon, we drove up to Saint-Joseph-du-Lac, about 30 minutes northwest of us to go apple-picking. We fight the masses of children every year to go pick our own apples, which will last through the winter if kept in the basement (or if we don't eat them all first!). Every year, we go to Les Vergers Lafrance, which is both an apple orchard and a cider house. You can get a 20 lb. bag of apples for $12 and can then sample all of their pastries, ciders and ice ciders for free. We typically end up leaving with more than a couple bottles of cider.

We've also recently discovered the Oka Abbey Store, a short 10 minute drive from the apple orchard. Oka cheese is quite well-known throughout Quebec and actually used to be made by monks. You can find regular Oka cheese anywhere in the Montreal area (and throughout the province, I would presume). But there are a few varieties of Oka that you can only find here. I fell in love with their Oka curds last year. We went back another time to get some, but it turns out that they sell out early in the day. Yes, they're that good. We managed to get ourselves a bag (ok, 3...) today, even though we didn't get there until 3pm (lazy morning... concert last night). We also picked up a variety of Oka to be used for raclette and will test that out sometime in the next few weeks. The Abbey has a wide selection of cheeses from across Quebec, as well as many other regional products. Though it's quite touristy, you can find a good selection of products that you can't typically find in grocery stores. If you're ever in the region, I highly recommend you stop by to get some of the curds, if nothing else.

Now I just have to start transforming the apples... we never manage to eat all of them just like that and I have a good selection of apple-based recipes from over the past few years. Some years I've been super ambitious and we've even come home with 40 lbs (yes, there are only 2 of us at home). But I just didn't feel like peeling mountains of apples for applesauce this year. I'll put a variety of apple recipes up over the next few weeks.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tabouleh Salad

This recipe comes from Lyne at work from a potluck a few years back. As I've told her before, she's given me some of my favourite recipes. I miss working with her if only to steal great recipes off of her (just kidding Lyne!). I just made this for lunch and it is great and is a nice salad to bring camping.

I often make this with quinoa instead of bulgur to increase the protein content of it. I also tend to make it without the chicken (because I'm too lazy to actually cook any) and sometimes throw in a 2nd can of chickpeas depending on how much bulgur/quinoa I've made, as I usually end up with way more than the recipe called for. I'll also often toss in some diced peppers as well.

Tabouleh Salad

· 1 C bulgur (medium or coarse)
· 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
· 2 chicken breasts (optional)
· 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
· 1 C diced English cucumber
· 1 C minced fresh Italian parsley
· 1/2 C chopped green onions / red onion
· ¼ C chopped fresh mint

· ¼ C lemon juice
· 2 tbsp. olive oil
· 2 cloves garlic, minced
· 1 tsp. salt
· ½ tsp. pepper

1. In saucepan, bring 1 ¾ C water (or chicken broth) to boil; stir in bulgur. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook for 10 minutes or until no liquid remains. Transfer to large bowl, fluffing with fork. (For quinoa, you use a quantity of 2 parts water to 1 part grain).

2. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, parlsey, onions and mint.

3. For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt and pepper; pour over bulgur mixture and toss to combine.

Note: Use 1 lb. peeled and deveined grilled large shrimp instead of the chickpeas.

Makes 4 servings.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mom's Cinnamon Bread

Another one of my favourite childhood recipes was mom's cinnamon bread. I have vivid recollections from my youth of inviting friends over to make this recipe when my mom wasn't home... she couldn't stand the mess we would make!!

I decided to post this today as we are just back from Amman and Noorin's beautiful wedding and this was one of Amman's favourites. When I lived with Amman in undergrad, I would frequently make this recipe, only to come home 5 hours later to crumbs and vivid insistence that I hadn't baked anything earlier in the day!

Bread batter:

1/4 C butter
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C sour milk
2 C flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Cinnamon sugar:

3 tbsp. brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1. Mix together the wet ingredients and then mix in the dry ingredients of the bread batter.

2. Alternate layers of bread batter and cinnamon sugar in a bread pan, finishing with bread batter. Cut a knife through the batter a few times, which will create swirls of cinnamon sugar in the baked bread. Bake at 350°F for one hour.

Note: You can make sour milk by stirring a bit of sour milk (approx. 1 tsp.) of lemon juice into a cup of milk and letting it stand for approximately 5 minutes.

that's some lemon bread lurking in the background -
we had company coming over :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Barbecue Rub

We're trying to make the most of our bbq as summer comes to an end. Last night, we used the following rub on our pork (also good for chicken, and I've even used it on mahi-mahi). It keeps a long time and is great when you're in a pinch for a quick homemade dinner (or at least, part of dinner...). Watch how much of this you use if you don't like spicy food as this can be quite hot.

Basic Barbecue Rub

¼ C firmly packed brown sugar
¼ C paprika
3 tbsp. black pepper
4 tbsp. coarse salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. celery seeds (I leave this out because I hate celery!)
1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, using your fingers to break up any lumps of brown sugar. Store in an airtight jar away from heat or light. Will keep for at least 6 months (though I’ve had mine for a year and just used the last of it yesterday).

Taken from How to Grill by Steven Raichlen.