Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bombay Potatoes

The perfect dish to accompany Chana Masala (see previous post).


about 6 red or white potatoes, scrubbed (I like to leave the skin on, but you can peel them if you like)
1 tsp turmeric or curry powder
1/2 tsp chili paste or chopped red chilis (optional)
2 onions, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp crushed coriander seeds
(you can also add in 1/2 tsp mustard or fennel seeds, if desired.)
1 cup chopped cilantro

Boil the potatoes until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, saute the onion, turmeric or curry powder, chili (if using), cumin and coriander seeds until soft and fragrant, being careful not to burn the spices. Drop in the whole potatoes and using a potato masher, roughly mash the potatoes into chunks and fold into the onion/spice mixture. Add in 1/4 cup (or less) of water and stir to roughly combine. Stir in chopped cilantro and season with salt to taste.

Chana Masala

I fell in love with this dish at my local Indian restaurant. Made of garbanzo beans, tomatoes and lots of spices, it is filling and satisfying. While my recipe isn't quite as perfect as the restaurant's  (I'm pretty sure their secret ingredient is "nectar of the Gods" and geez...I'm fresh out...) it does come pretty darn close.

(*Garam Masala, listed below, is a spice blend available at your local grocery store that usually consists of cardamom, coriander, pepper, and cinnamon. But blends vary, and it doesn't really matter what blend you get.)

I like mine very spicy (read: as in spices, not particularly heat level) so I put some options in there to allow for your preference.


2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
1-2 tsp ground cumin (to taste)
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp ginger, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp chili paste or 1 chopped fresh chili (optional)
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp turmeric or curry powder
handful of chopped spinach (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala plus a bit more for final seasoning, if necessary

Heat oil in a large skillet and saute over medium heat: the onion, garlic, cumin powder, coriander, turmeric or curry powder, ginger, garam masala and chili paste (if using) until soft and aromatic, being careful not to burn the spices.

Stir in the chopped tomatoes. Add in a little (1/4 cup or less) water, if necessary to make a thin sauce and simmer the sauce for about 5 minutes to combine the flavors.

Stir in the garbanzo beans, chopped fresh spinach and take a taste. Adjust spices or add a small amount of water as necessary (I usually add a bit more garam masala here) and then cover and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

This dish does well made in advance, even the night before and can be left to simmer for a bit longer on the stove, if necessary.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Quick-Poached Eggs Over Toast

My idea of a perfect brunch: this is savory, fast and packed with both fiber and protein. Plus, if you add it up, the calories come to about 250. Not too shabby eh?

One of my favorite new things I learned this year was how to quick-poach an egg. It's easier and faster than the traditional method, and yields an egg that is somewhat like a sunny-side up egg without all the frying.

Ingredients (each, per person):

1 egg
1 tbsp butter
1 slice of whole grain bread
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup spinach
cooking spray

To quick-poach:

Toast and butter your bread.

Spray a stainless steel skillet with cooking spray and set on medium heat. Break your egg into the pan, being careful not to break the yolk. Cook until the bottom of the whites are set (so it won't slide around or break up anymore) and then add in a handful of ice cubes. Cover and cook until the white part over the yolk just sets, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Top the toast with spinach, then the egg, then salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Coconut and Pumpkin Chai Cream Pies

Two pies, one variation. How easy could that be? The coconut milk reduces the calorie count, so now you can have your pie and eat it too.

As I have to transport these babies to mutiple households tomorrow, they are still naked on top, but you can top them with whipped cream just before serving.

Coconut Pie Indredients:

1 baked pie crust
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1.5 cups coconut milk
1.5 cups half and half
1/2 cup flour
1 cup toasted or raw coconut
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium saucepan, combine milk, eggs, coconut milk, sugar and flour. Whisk continuously over medium heat until thickened (about 10-20 minutes)

About the time you are ready to give up, sure that it isn't EVER going to thicken, it does. So hang in there.

Remove from heat and stir in coconut and vanilla. Pour into pie crust and chill until set, about 3 hours.

Top with whipped cream just before serving.

                                           **If you are making the pumpkin pie**
You will substitute 1 cup of pumpkin puree for the dried coconut, and add it to the milk base with 1 tsp each garam masala and cinnamon, and cook until thickened. Stir in vanilla after you remove from heat. Continue with directions as stated.

10 minute Polenta with Tomatoes, Spinach and Olives

Super quick, easy and tasty meal! I discovered polenta some years back, and have served it this way ever since. You can find it in the pantry aisle in a litte tube like this:

Slice it 1/4 inch thick and bake on an oiled pan at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, open 1 can stewed tomatoes and simmer until dark red.

Top the polenta slices with fresh spinach, stewed tomatoes, kalamata olives and Parmesan. See how easy that was? Less than 6 ingredients and 10 minutes and you've got dinner.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Broccoli Casserole

I'm not hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, and I'm kind of disappointed to not be happily buzzing away in my kitchen come T-day. But I will be sharing a few inspired dishes. So come back tomorrow and look for coconut cream pies, a polenta recipe and a post-Thanksgiving left-over manifesto.

This broccoli casserole was today's big hit, and I love the idea of bringing to dinner, replacing that tired, old green bean casserole that is so traditional. The sauce came out perfect, without any grainy-ness and is actually less cheese than you think, with a few hidden ingredients that both jazz it up and cut down the calories at the same time.

2 lbs of broccoli florets (about 7-8 cups) steamed until bright green, but still crispy
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp cumin
salt to taste
1/2 tsp prepared yellow mustard
1.5 cups flavor-free nondairy milk
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup low fat shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
pepper to taste
10 or so crushed vegetable crackers

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a saucepan, combine flour, cumin, broth and milk over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until thickened.

Remove from heat and stir in cheeses, salt, pepper and mustard. Add broccoli, coating evenly.

Pour into casserole dish, top with a bit more parmesan and cheddar if desired, as well as the crushed crackers. Bake about 10-15 minutes, or until brown and bubbly. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Spinach and Potato Frittata

It's a rainy Veteran's Day out here on the California coast, and what better for brunch than a savory frittata and a cup of hot coffee? My husband's got music playing and my kids are debating on whether this should be considered a breakfast or a lunch...hence: brunch.


1 onion, chopped
2 large red potatoes, diced and boiled until barely soft
1 6 oz. bag of fresh baby spinach
4 whole eggs
4 egg whites
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/3 cup of vegetable broth
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup of shredded cheese of your choice
sprinkling each of bread crumbs and parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Saute the onion until soft, then set aside.

Saute the spinach until wilted, doing in two batches if necessary and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, whites, broth, seasoning, salt and pepper, whisk until blended. Then fold in the onion, potato and spinach.

Pour into a greased pie pan and top with cheeses and bread crumbs. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until middle is set and top is browned. Let cool 5 minutes before cutting and serve with sour cream and salsa.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Kale and Red Pepper Tartine

Tartine is a just a fancy way of saying "open faced sandwich." I was so excited about this dish, and it really stood up to my expectations. I'm already thinking of a thousand ways to vary it: with roasted eggplant, or fresh tomato, or maybe artichoke hearts. Goat cheese gives it a tangy bite and the better the bread, the better the taste of this little sandwich.

These little sandwiches are served on toasted bread, best paired with the hearty, seedy type (of bread, not person).


6 slices of toasted whole-grain baguette
herbed goat cheese
roasted red bell pepper, drained and sliced
3 cups kale
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt

Saute the kale, garlic and red pepper flakes in 1 Tbsp. of olive oil until wilted.

Top the toasts with a layer of goat cheese, followed by bell pepper and then finally top it all of with the kale mixture.