Tuesday, May 31, 2011

a skip-the-e.coli couscous salad.

can we talk about the fact that europe has an mini e. coli epidemic on its hands? and that the vast majority of infections have been found in northern germany?! people. this ain't good.

moreover, while everyone else is busy playing the blame game - was it or was it not spain who let the bacteria out of the bag?! - i have other (more egocentric) things on my mind. specifically: how's a girl supposed to get enough veggies in her diet when the produce available may be potentially lethal? 

cucumbers are definitely out, and i must admit i'm not so keen on reaching for that head of iceberg lettuce either. so far, it looks like tomatoes and onions are safe. and you can't go wrong with anything canned or boxed (like chickpeas and couscous, for instance).

hence: a minimal-veggie couscous salad to hopefully keep myself (and my readers!) alive.

i admit, maybe the term "salad" is a stretch. but i try to eat some salad everyday, and desperate times call for desperate measures/definitions of what one calls a "salad". still, it's a very tasty dish, mostly owing to the spices (cumin and coriander), herbs (cilantro and parsley), and simple dressing (garlic, olive oil, and lemon).

it's also great to pack in tupperware and bring to a potluck! i made it earlier in the day and stuck in the fridge for a bit to chill before serving, but room temperature is also delicious.

moroccan chickpea and couscous salad

1 cup quick-cooking couscous
¼ cup dried apricots, chopped finely
1¼ cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic—minced
1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons salt
10 baby carrots, cut into thin slivers
8 cherry tomatoes, roasted
3/4 red onion, diced finely
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed thoroughly
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

mix the couscous with the apricots in a bowl and pour into a pot of boiling vegetable stock. cover with a lid or plate to seal in the steam and let sit for 5-8 minutes or until all of the stock has been absorbed.

meanwhile, drain the chickpeas and chop the carrots, onion, parsley, and coriander. quarter the tomatoes, sprinkle with some salt and pepper, and roast in the oven on a piece of tin foil at 150 degrees celsius about 12 minutes. place all ingredients in a large bowl. when the couscous is ready, fluff it up with a fork and add it to the bowl. toss together until well combined.

in a separate little bowl, combine the oil, water, lemon juice, garlic, spices, and salt. pour over the couscous and stir once again. salt and pepper to taste. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

the blending continues... garlic chive hummus!

if you’ll please excuse my absence these past couple of weeks, i can offer some exciting news as a consolation prize.
exciting piece of news #1: our blender still blends! sadly, i’ve learned in the past few days (the hard way) how not identical a blender is to a food processor. while i think the latter is superior (it is, after all, the renowned jamie oliver’s kitchen appliance of choice), the former still makes a few mean masterpieces. including this hummus! just a few dry ingredients, a dash of olive oil and water, and you have a delicious, healthy spread. of course, feel free to add in or leave out the chives, or adjust the cloves of garlic depending on your taste/desire for unpleasant breath. as a non-recovering garlic-aholic, i’d consider even upping the number of cloves from 3 to 4…
the second piece of thrilling news, you ask?! excellent question.
the second piece of most wonderfully thrilling news is that we are moving (aka upgrading!) to a new blogging platform! details to come on that front soon.
in the meantime, keep on blendin’!


400g can chickpeas, drained
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium clove garlics, peeled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons tahini
2 1/2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup chives, diced

place all ingredients in a food processor and process on high speed until the ingredients are combined. if it gets dry, add some water or olive oil. once combined, stir in diced chives. salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

a new blender and vegan chocolate mousse!

last week, i asked around for a blender to borrow and got one for keeps instead! these past few weeks have marked a bit of a cooking/baking rut for me (don't tell my muffins!), so this new kitchen appliance felt like the perfect inspiration to get back in gear.

so far, it's working. of course, by "working", i mean that we're blending/chopping everything really small very often now. vegetables, herbs, tofu... why use a knife when you can throw it in a food processor?!

still, i feel it's not too early to conclude that life with a blender > life without a blender. mostly because dishes otherwise unimaginable are now at my fingertips! the world is my oyster and it's decided: i like my oysters blended.

first on the "to puree" list was a vegan chocolate mousse. now, the best vegan chocolate mousse i've ever had was from whole foods. it was divine. i haven't been able to find their exact recipe, but from what i can tell, vegan mousse can be made either from avocado or silken tofu. i chose the latter due to a slight skin allergy to the former. but who knows, i may take a gamble with avocado too some day... when i know i'll be spending the following week locked away as a hermit.

altogether, i was pleased with how the mousse turned out, though i must admit it takes a fair amount of persistence (translation: melted chocolate) to mask any traces of the tofu taste. whoever said tofu doesn't have a taste never made a dessert out of it. but enough chocolate did the trick this time, and i recommend using dark because its stronger and adds a bit more kick. next time, i will also throw in some coconut flakes and some vanilla extract for some extra sweetness.


1 package silken tofu
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy milk
200 grams dark chocolate

place all ingredients in a blender and blend away. at the same time, melt the chocolate. once chocolate is completely melted, add to blender and blend until smooth. at this point, take a taste. if it's too thick, add some more soy milk or a bit of maple syrup. if you like a bit more chocolate-y, you know what to do. play around!

just make sure to place it in fridge for at least 2 hours before serving :)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

pasta à la springtime greens and roasted tomatoes!

i stumbled upon this light and delicious pasta while perusing the blog of a long lost neighborhood and elementary school pal. while we used to pass the time together riding bikes down our shared street and swimming in her grandparents' pool, she now hosts a wonderful cooking blog with no shortage of recipes to make your mouth water (don't even get me started on the pictures...).

there's nothing about this dish that doesn't scream springtime. from the bright greens to the grilled tomatoes to the fresh herbs. it's a perfect potluck dish, a great leftover lunch, and... well, you already know how i feel about asparagus.

i made a few changes to the original recipe, omitting the feta cheese and adding some mushrooms and tomatoes. next time i make this dish, i will experiment with substituting in chickpeas for the beans and throwing in other fresh seasonal herbs (chives!) i stumble upon.


2 cups pasta, uncooked
5 shallots
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 cups asparagus, chopped in 2 in. pieces
5 cups spinach, raw and chopped
1 cup brown mushrooms, chopped
10-12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 can cannellini beans, dried and rinsed
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup basil, loosely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

get started:

bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. toss in your pasta and cook until al dente.

meanwhile, chop your tomatoes into quarters and place on tin foil or a lightly oiled pan. give a large pinch of salt and pepper to them, and roast in oven at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. alternatively, you could grill them! given the chance, this will definitely be my route next time around.

chop shallots and garlic. drop a tablespoon of oil into a large skillet. once hot, saute the shallots and garlic and season with salt and pepper.  while the onion is sauteing, rinse and chop asparagus, spinach, and mushrooms.  After onion has browned, add vegetables and cook until just tender and crisp (about 6 minutes). remove from heat.

when your pasta is ready, strain but reserve some of the pasta water. toss the pasta with with the vegetables. add beans, tomatoes, basil, and a squeeze of lemon juice. toss!  if you'd like, add a tiny spoonful of pasta water or oil if it's looking dry. eat right away and save the left overs for a refreshing, chilled pasta salad.