Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mango Quinoa Pudding

      It may not be the most highly regarded dessert joint, but I came to really enjoy Pudding on the Rice when we lived n Portland. Novelty perhaps but there was something very satisfying about the colorful and wonderfully sticky globs of rice that your average cup of topped frozen yogurt couldn't compete with. I have to believe this has something to do with rice pudding's certain affinity to comfort food, but a dessert comfort food. 
      As with most comfort food, rice pudding does not rate highly on the nutritional scale. But what if that white rice was switched out with a very healthy grain instead and milk was exchanged for say almond or coconut milk? In keeping with our dietary restrictions this month Hollin prepared a sugar free, gluten free, vegan dessert that really hit the spot for me - my rice pudding spot. Mango is always a great pair with coconut milk but I have to wonder what other fruits might be equally delicious to try in this recipe. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Field Trip: San Francisco

   This past summer, we had the opportunity to visit some friends in San Francisco. Because Tartine Bakery is located in San Francisco I was especially thrilled to make this trip. Last spring I was gifted the Tartine Bread book and ever since I have desperately desired to make this bread. I've had some issues and have not completely been successful, but I was pleased to find out that the flavor that I achieved at home was similar to Tartine's own bread. If you are ever in the San Francisco area, I can't recommend Tartine enough. The croissants alone are reason enough to visit. While the staff may not be the friendliest and you will most likely have to wait in a long line that goes out the door, you'll forget about all this once you're biting into the flakiest croissant you've ever had or what I feel is simply the best bread ever produced. 
   A note about the bread. If you do plan on picking one up, you will need to know that the bread comes out of the oven at 5pm. It is said by the staff that they do run out from time to time, so be early or pre-order a loaf (or three). I highly recommend the rosemary olive bread. Don't let the $7 dollar loaf shy you away, it's a large loaf and completely worth it. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


     Mjadra, Mujadarra,  مجدرة‎, and other variants in spelling are some of the several words used to describe variations of rice and lentil dishes found in Near to Middle East cuisine. I would like to draw your attention to the Lebanese rendition, Mjadra. I first had Mjadra at Nicholas Restaurant in Portland, Oregon. I've had it since at other mediocre Lebanese / Mediterranean restaurants since but none has risen to the perfection of Nicholas'. After some research and experimentation I think I can safely say that my version comes close to what I remember Nicholas' version tasting like. Give it a try! This dish exemplifies what this blog is about: cheap and healthy eating. Lentils, Rice, Onions, Simple but a perfect way to get your lentil/brown rice protein in. Here we go: 


1/2 c. uncooked lentils
2 c. water
3 lg. white onions, julienned
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/8th teaspoon dried garlic (or use some minced fresh garlic, I don't see why not)
Salt to taste
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 cups cooked brown rice (or basmati for more of an authentic feel), (from about 1 cup dry)

1. Wash/rinse rice and cook (I like to throw in some salt and some oil (a tsp of each) for this dish). 

2. Place onions in a large frying pan with enough olive oil to fully coat the bottom of the pan. The goal here is to caramelize the onions. This can be achieved by slowly cooking them away on a medium low heat. This typically works well for me but I have seen more elaborate ways to caramelize onions these techniques will usually ask for you to add sugar, something that isn't necessary as the onions will release their own sugar. For this recipe you do not need to really add any salt in here as most caramelized recipes will call for. You'll know your onions are ready when they are brown and rather slimy.  

3. While the onions and rice are doing their thing, bring water and lentils to a boil, continue to boil for about 20 minutes or until the lentils have fully absorbed the water.

4. If everything is timed out right, you should be able to season the cooked lentils with cumin, coriander, garlic, salt and lemon juice right before throwing in the caramelized onions. If not just let things sit covered off the heat. 

5. Mix all ingredients well before topping the rice. Serve. Enjoy. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chickpea Salad Stuffed Bell Pepper

      After an adventurous three month vacation in California tasting culinary delights from Bouchon to Tartine, the wife and I have arrived back home to Montreal fattened and hungry still. We may have had too good of a time eating in California (not to mention the feast that was the Northwest) this summer. So the wife started speaking of a cleanse, something a friend told us he did for twenty-one days. When hearing the suggestion of a cleanse my initial thoughts were "Oh great, here comes the honeyed lemonade." But fortunately it is not one of those types of cleanses. It's actually outlines foods that are not that different than what we normally consume--well, that's not exactly true. . .

Here's what's excluded:

Dairy / Animal products of any kind (honey, gelatin, etc. )

I would also argue that most of these things should be excluded at all times, so why not go along with the wife and try this cleanse. The weak spot for me is gluten, I love bread and cannot be fully convinced of the damage a whole wheat loaf might inflict. Yet like undergoing any such diet it is important not to think about the can't haves and more about what the regiment will force you to explore. With this type of thinking I do not simply bump wheat off the list but instead add something like quinoa, a grain I typically do not get enough of.

I want to share a dish that Hollin found and adapted a bit from the ever delicious Smitten Kitchen. I loved this stuff. Light, refreshing and somewhat creamy, and reminiscent of potato salad.  And it is not only because it's vegan and gluten free that it is something to get excited about, it's tremendously flavorful.

The Ingredients:

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons pitted, halved and very thinly sliced black olives
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or basil
zest and juice from half a lemon
couple good pinches of salt
a few grinds of black pepper
3-4 tablespoons of Olive Oil
2-3 red bell peppers, halved (for serving).

1. Simply mix all ingredients mashing up the chickpeas slightly with a fork or potato masher, just enough to form a texture similar to that of potato salad.

2. Dish into the bell pepper boats. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pizza Napolatana

Video accompaniment for a previous recipe and method I posted back in December. You can find it here: Pizzette Neapolitan