Hungarian summer bean soup with dill

I love summer. It looks like there are so many vegetables finally ready to eat. I enjoy rhubarb too but there was not much else here in the Midwest for quite a while and now all of the sudden we have so many more to choose from. So ended up picking yellow beans for this week.

I’m presenting a simple Hungarian yellow bean soup recipe that many Hungarians know how to make but I added my litte twist to it. I like reading about foods and experiementing with them. So I was reading that Hungarian cuisine was a little bit different when Hungarians lived in their oiginal place in Asia. Over the years they lost some of the ingredients and picked up new ones. So I had the idea why not add chickpeas and curry to this bean soup. Who knows maybe our ancestors made the soup like this back wherever they came from ?!?

The sweet yellow bean is nutritious and is high in fiber but really is not the most exciting vegetable. The real flavor IMO comes from the seasoning especially from the dill. Dill is a unique sweet plant that gives the zesty, tangy flavor with slightly bitter undertones. It helps digestion and calms the mind. Also, adding the sour cream or yoghurt is a must at the end … and then you get a pleasant sweet and sour soup.

As I have mentioned I added chickpeas to the dish. If you look at a chickpea, you can see it resembles the heart and is considered to be beneficial for the heart. It is a good source of iron and unsaturated fats.

I often make this soup into more of an entree by adding an egg or other protein, it is very filling this way for sure. I just put the soup in a jar and take it with me in the summer. It is an instant lunch on the go for me. Oh yes and I get the stares from Hungarians … what is that dish?!? … lol.

RECIPE

Serves 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of yellow beans
  • 1 cup of dried chickpeas or canned (18oz)
  • oil (vegetable, lard)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 chopped large tomato
  • vegetable or meat stock (I used pea shells)
  • 3 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, optional
  • 1-3 bay leaves
  • 1 yellow pepper or its left-over’seed house’, optional
  • handfull of dill, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp of white vinigar
  • 1 cup of dried or 1 can of chickpeas
  • salt and black pepper
  • red pepper to taste
  • sour cream or yoghurt to garnish

Directions

  • Clean and soak the chickpeas overnight or for at least 8 hours. Remove the soaking liquid and cook in fresh cold water for 3 hours. A pressure cooker would greatly reduce the cooking time. (Omit if using canned chickpeas).
  • Making the soup base: Saute the onion in some oil until translucent. Add garlic, paprika and curry powder, mix and after 1 minute add the chopped tomato. Mix and cook for about 5-10 mintes or until tomato has cooked into a sauce.
  • Wash the yellow beans. Cut the ends off on both sides and discard. Cut them up into 1 inch pieces. Clean and cut the carrots. Oh and I almost forgot I like to put in zucchini too. So wash and cut zucchini into about 1 inch pieces.
  • Add the cut up yellow beans, carrot slices, bay leaves, zucchini and the stock. I like to add a yellow pepper for flavoring or at least its ‘left-over’seed house. Cook for about 30-45 minutes or until the beans are soft. Remove the pepper/pepper sedds and bay leaves.
  • Add the cooked or canned chickpeas with its liquid and the white vinigar.
  • Salt and pepper to taste. Add the red chili pepper if desired.
  • Serve hot with chopped dill and sour cream/yoghurt.

enjoy!

Recipe, text and photos by twincitiesherbs.com

Zucchini frittata with basil (frittata di zucchine)

We just celebrated the Summer Solstice so summer is definitely here. Zucchini is one of the first summer vegetables that appears at the farmers’ market. Fritatta is a popular Italian dish and also is my favorite way to prepare zucchini. Italians often make it for ‘lunch on the go’ because it tastes good as it is … it does not have to be reheated and is an interesting and unique dish. If you have eggs, cheese, onions, zucchini and olive oil you can make zucchini frittata. The secret is in the preparation.

So let’s look at those secrets … no worries it is not a difficult dish to make. The main secret is to cook it slowly. It is kind of a ‘slow food’ meaning that it is cooked slowly on low heat starting in cold olive oil. This was rather a hard concept for me at first because I always heat the oil before I put onions in a pot … but once you taste the dish, you will understand. Also, it prevents the olive oil from burning- I’m guessing. Another secret is to not dry it out so basically don’t over-cook the eggs. And that is about it other than the usual, use good ingredients.

The recipe is from Marcella Hazan’s cookbook Essentials of Clasic Italian Cooking.

So let’s look at why we should incorpoate zucchini in our summer diet. The watery zucchini is cooling and refreshing and is great to overcome the summer heat. It has a tender texture with a slightly sweet flavor and pairs nice with something a little more robust like eggs and cheese. It is also packed with nutients and is rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin B and C.

Oh and I can’t forget about the basil, the other main ingredient. It is in the mint family along with the other remarkable Mediterreanian herbs like oregano, mint, rosemary. It is not an accident that Mediterreanian chefs use basil on a regular basis. The aromatic basil is used in cooking for making food taste better and has numerous health benefits. For more information on basil, please check out this article.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup of cold pressed olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion (1 cup), finally chopped
  • bacon (optional)
  • 2-3 medium sized zucchini
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • a handfull of fresh basil leaves
  • 2/3 cup of freshly graded Parmesan cheese
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp of butter

Directions

Put half of the cold oil, and the onion in a large pan. Turn heat onto low heat, (not simmer) and cover. Cook until the onion wilts and becomes greatly diminished in bulk for about 20-30 minutes. Then uncover and continue cooking until the onion gets a nice golden brown color. I turn the heat a notch up here. This is going to be a lengthy process but it is an importamt part of the dish.

Meanwhile, prepare the zucchini. Soak them in cold water for 20 minutes to loosen the dirt. Scrub and wash off any dirt. Cut off both ends. Slice them thin.

When the onion is nice and golden brown, add salt and the sliced zucchini. You can put the sliced bacon in here if you plan on using it. Turn heat up to medium high and cook them until they are softened and have a light nut brown color. Stir frequently.

Making the fritatta. Melt the butter gently, add the whisked eggs with the torn-up basil, freshly ground black pepper and the cheese. Cook carefully until the eggs have set and thickened and the bottom has a light brown color (not burnt) and only the top is runny. Turn the broiler on. I use the low broiler for 3 minutes.

I served it with pesto and tomato salad.

Serve warm.

enjoy!

Source

Photo, text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Sweet and sour pork with rhubarb

In the United States and Europe, rhubarb is known as the pie plant and in fact we tend to use it in sweet dishes; however, in Asia, it is more used in savory dishes. Today, I’m presenting a savory dish that was inspired by a blog. The rhubarb gives the sour taste that is balanced out nicely with the sweet and hot Chinese sauce and the bitter bamboo shoots. I chose broccoli as the main vegetable for the dish. If you prefer a vegetarian alternative, please check out my previous recipe that is a similaly made with tofu.

Rhubarb is everywhere here in the Midwest right now. It is almost ready in my garden but it has been available for a few weeks at the farmers’ market for sure. It is actually a healthy plant. Rhubarb has favorable health effects in the spring and the summer as it is cooling and detoxifying to the liver. The stems are good source of antioxidants, vitamin K and fiber. The Chinese also use the roots for its medicinal properties. In fact, it is so important for the Chinese that they consider it to be one of the ten most important herbs for healing.

So what’s up with the ketchup? Is it Chinese? … I think of American cooking when I hear the word ketchup but in fact it originated from China. It is basically a sweet and tangy sauce made with tomatoes, sugar, vinegar and spices. It actually means fish sauce as they traditionally addded fermented fish sauce. For this recipe we just need the basic ketchup, so go ahead and just use store-bought ketchup – unless of course you want to make it yourself.

This is a very tasty dish! I really wanted to make a dinner with rhubarb and I found this recipe. I made a few changes to suit my taste. I cut the pork into long strips instead of squares. I replaced the green peppers with broccoli. Also, I wanted to bring in more of the bitter flavor so I added bamboo shoots to offset the sourness of the rhubarb. And for garnishing, I also added peanuts to get a bit of crunchyness. I think this is a fabulous recipe with an interesting twist to the usual sweet and sour pork dish that is served in restaurants with pineapples.

RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 300g pork fillet, cut into thin long stipes or 1 inch cubes
  • About 3 medium stems of rhubarb (200g) cut into 1 inch batons – please use a scale
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 large onion, peeled, halved and cut into thin slivers
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 1 thumb of ginger, peeled and chopped (1 Tbsp)
  • sesame oils, for frying
  • 1 small can of bamboo shoots
  • 2 cups of raw rice (or rice noodles)
  • Marinade
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 small thumb of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 Tbsp of corn starch

Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup of water
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Garnish

  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 1/2 mild red chilli pepper (optional), finely chopped
  • cilantro
  • handfull of chopped peanuts
  • soy sauce

Instructions

Prepare rice according to its instructions. I used rice noodle last time.

Cut the pork pieces into longer (2 inches) thin (half inch) stripes. You can do squares too but the Chinese do long stripes traditionally.

Whisk together the marinade ingredients, add the pork, cover well and set aside for at least half an hour or up to a couple of hours.

In another bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Cover and put aside.

Heat oil in a large frying pan and add the rhubarb batons in a single layer. Cook for about a minute and a half and keeping them moving. Add a heaped tablespoon of soft light brown sugar, toss and cook for about minute more. You want them to have tenderised but still to have some bite. If they start breaking up, you’ve gone too far. Whip them off the heat immediately. Scoop into a bowl and set aside.

Take the pork out of the refrigerator, pour off the marinade and dry with a towel.

Put a tablespoon of vegetable oil, I used sesame oil in a wok and stir-fry the pork on a medium-high heat for three or four minutes, until golden brown. Remove and keep to one side.

Make sure you’ve prepped all the vegetables before you start cooking the main event, because it they will cook fast.

Saute the sliced onion until translucent. Add the ginger and the broccoli and continue sauteing for about 5 minutes or until it is crunchy on medium high heat. Give the sauce (from above) a quick whisk, then pour it into the pan. Add the rhubarb and the bamboo shoots and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for three or four minutes until thick. Add the pork and toss and coat well until the pork is warm.

Add soy sauce and chilli pepper if needed.

Serve over rice, garnished with the sliced spring onion , cilantro, nuts.

enjoy!

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketchup

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/35104325/posts/55143

Photo and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Hot and sour tofu with rhubarb

In the United States and Europe, rhubarb is known as the pie plant and in fact we tend to use it in sweet dishes. However, in Asia, it is more used in savory main dishes. Today, I’m presenting a savory dish that was inspired by the following blogs: ( blog 1 and blog 2). The rhubarb gives the sour taste that is balanced out nicely with the sweet and hot Chinese sauce and the bitter bamboo shoots. I chose broccoli as the main vegetable for the dish. Traditionally, pork is used but is replaced here with the tofu. In the original recipe, the raw rhubarb is blended in the sauce but I made it more traditionally sautéed like the rest of the vegetables.

For the meat version of this dish, please, see this recipe.

Recipe


Serves: 4 people  

Ingredients

  • 500g tofu
  • 2 tsp + 3 Tbsp honey (or replace with agaste sauce for a vegan option)
  • 1/4 tsp five spice
  • chili flakes to taste
  • Sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp sake
  • 3 Tbsp rice wine
  • 3 Tbsp graded ginger
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 large cloves garlic
  • 200g of rhubarb stalks (about 3 smaller or 2 bigger stalks)
  • 2 large heads of broccoli
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 can (8oz/225g) of bamboo shoots, drained
  • handful of penuts, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • lime
  • cilantro
  • rice or rice noodles

Ingredients listed as used in groups

Rice or rice noodles

Marinade/tofu: 2 tsp honey, 1/4 tsp five spice powder, 1/4 tsp red chilli pepper flakes (optional), 1 Tbsp seasame oil, 3 Tbsp rice vinegar, 3 Tbsp sake, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 500 g tofu.

The sauce: 5 cloves garlic, 3 Tbsp honey, 3 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp ginger, 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes (or to taste).

Vegetables: 200g (3 medium sized) rhubarb stalks, 1 large onion, 2 heads of broccoli, 1 can of bamboo shoots.

Toppings: handful of chopped peanuts, 4 scallions, small handfull coriander, soy sauce and limes.


Directions

  • The rice.  Make the rice of your choice. I used sushi rice.
  • Cut up the tofu so it is about 1 cm / 1/2 inch thick. I made triangular shapes but rectangular or square shapes are fine too.
  • Mix the ingredients of the marinade in a small bowl and pour it all over the tofu. Cover and put it in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  • Make the sauce. Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix to get a nice sauce. Set aside.
  • Take tofu/marinade out of the fridge and strain off marinade. Pat dry tofu with a towel. Sautee tofu slices in small amount of oil for about 5 minutes on each side. Cover and set aside.
  • Cut up the vegetables. Thinly slice the onions, cut up the broccoli flowers. Cut rhubarb diagonally in 2-3 inches length. If stalks are bigger, cut them in half first.
  • In a larger pan or wok, heat seasame oil, add rhubarb batons in a single layer and cook for abot 1-2 minutes while stiring to make sure all sides cook well. Make sure you don’t over cook rhubarb, they should be firm and not mushy. Add 1 Tbsp sugar and cook for 1 minute. Take off heat and set aside.
  • On medium high heat, sauté the sliced onion for about 10 minutes until translucent. Add the brocololi and continue sautéing on medium high heat for about 5 minutes or until it is soft but still crunchy. Add the sauce made earlier. (Quickly whisk, then pour it into the pan). Add the rhubarb (that was set aside from earlier step) and the bamboo shoots and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for three or four minutes. Add the tofu and toss and coat well and cook until the fofu is warm.
  • Serve on rice with chopped cashew nuts, chopped scallions, cilantro, lime wedges and soy sauce.

enjoy!

Sources

http://www.mostlyeating.com/ tofu with hot and sour sauce

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/35104325/posts/55143

Photo, recipe and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Italian spinach/mushroom lasagna (vegetarian)

I have been making lasagna recently quite a bit. It is not too hot outside yet so I can turn the oven on but we want something on the lighter side too … so this dish seems to fit the bill. Of course, you can make this dish any time of the year. Lasagna is an Italian specialty. Traditionally, it is made with layers of tomato sauce based ragu, cheese and béchamel sauce. In this dish, I replaced the meat with spinach, mushrooms and cheese. I served it with red wine that seemed to compliment it very nicely.

Spinach is a great vegetable for the spring, it is hardy and nourishing for the liver.

Of course, an important part of the lasagna is the pasta. The best is if it is home made but good, high quality packaged pasta will do too.

Also, the cheese is also important. Try to get the best quality you can afford. Honestly, when I was in Italy, the first thing that I noticed was how tasty the cheese was in their dishes. I like to use a mixture of cheeses, here I used fresh mozzarella cheese balls, feta cheese and Parmesan cheese.

I make my own Italian seasoning but of course any store bought mix would work too. I think this is a nicely balanced mixture of spices grown in Italy. They are carefully selected herbs so one herb will not overpower the other. Also, they all are carminative therefore will help with digestion. Historically, we can thank the ancient Greek doctors who added these herbs to dishes so people can get their benefits all year along.

The warming, aromatic oregano is the key ingredient in pasta dishes. I like to use it because it gives a nice, distinctive flavor to Italian dishes. The sweet fennel seeds are acrid and compliment the strong aromatic oregano in the dish. The delicate basil is probably the most loved and popular spice used in Italian cooking. If you can, try to use the fresh plant instead of the dried. Its aromatic flavor is a nice addition to any Italian dish. The pungent chili pepper is not a big part of the Italian cuisine but Italians enjoy adding a little to their pasta dishes. The oregano and the fennel seeds both can offset the heat of some stronger spices.

Italian seasoning

2 TBSP (6 tsp) dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil or handful of fresh basil

2 tsp ground fennel seeds

1/8 tsp black pepper

1/4-1/2 tsp hot red pepper or to taste (optional)

RECIPE

Serves 6-8 people

Ingredients

  • lasagna pasta (I used 10 strips)
  • 10-16oz spinach (frozen is fine too)
  • 4-8 oz chopped up mushrooms
  • olive oil
  • 2 slices of bacon (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce + (more for the top and the bottom if needed)
  • 1 cup of Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup for the filling, 1/2 cup for the Béchamel sauce)
  • 8oz (100g) fresh mozzarella balls
  • 8 oz (200g) of feta cheese
  • 1 Tbsp of Italian seasoning plus more for the top
  • handfull of fresh basil leaves (if you have them)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • About 4 oz grated Mozzarella cheese for the top

Bachamel sauce ingredients

  • 5 Tbsp of butter
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 2 cups of milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 egg yolks (optional)

  • Rosso Piceno wine. Bottled by Saladini Pilastri 2018 (optional) It is the best and not expensive!
  • parsley leaves (chopped)

Directions

Start boiling the water for the pasta (omit if your pasta does not need to be boiled).

Preheat the oven to 400F and have the rack in the middle of the oven.

Making the filling: In a pan, sauté bacon (optional) and mushrooms in a little oil for 5-10 minutes. Transfer into a bowl. Meanwhile wash and take stems off the spinach. If using frozen spinach of course no need to do it. Sauté in a little oil and water. Remove and try to drain off water. Chop spinach well and transfer into the bowl. Add mashed feta cheese, tomato sauce, 1 egg, garlic, 1 Tbsp of the Italian seasoning (see recipe above). Mix.

Preparing the béchamel sauce. It is not too hard, just follow the steps. I used a whisk. Warm up 5 Tbsp of butter on low heat, when melted increase the heat to medium high and add the flour slowly, stirring continuously. Then start adding the milk very slowly, stirring after each addition and wait for a minute to let the flour mixture soak up the milk. When you start seeing bubbles, it is done. Take off heat. Grate some nutmeg. Add 1/2 cup of Gruyere cheese (optional) and 2 egg yolks. Last time I forgot the eggs and the sauce was still fine. So I will add here that it is optional especially if you are already adding cheese. Mix well. I use a double boiler but is not necessary.

Prepare the lasagna pasta according to its directions. If you need to boil the pasta, put it in the boiling water that was started in the first step. Proceed according to its instructions. When done take out of the water and try to make sure they don’t stick to each other. I like to cook the pasta more at the end to prevent sticking. So try to make sure you have everything ready before the pasta is ready so you can start assembling the lasagna.

Assembling the lasagna: Put a thin layer of the béchamel sauce or tomato sauce on the bottom of a 3 Qt size baking dish. (2Qt size will work ok too). Place 1 layer of the pasta strips on the bottom of the pan. Put the filling on top of the pasta, followed by the fresh mozzarella balls (cut up if using the larger balls), pour the béchamel sauce and top it all with another layer of the pasta. Spread some pasta sauce and the shredded mozzarella cheese on the top. Sprinkle some Italian spice on the top.

Turn the oven heat down to 375F and put the lasagna in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is nice and golden brown.

Serve hot with a little grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley on the top. I really enjoyed a glass of red wine with the dish. I felt like I was in Italy! I would recommend this bottle of red wine if you are looking for one to try (please see details above in Ingredients).

enjoy!

Source

  • Matthew Wood: Earthwise
  • Paul Pitchford: Healing with Whole Foods

Photo, recipe, text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Chana masala (Indian chickpea dish)

Chana masala is a delicious Indian dish that would be great for the spring. I still vividly remember the first time I had chana masala at a friend’s house. He had us over for dinner when his parents came to visit like 25 years ago. I did not even recognize the chickpeas … I actually thought they were chestnuts. I never got the recipe but his mother gave me some tips. (Thanks to the internet I found this recipe on line and I think it is very close to what we had that night).

Chana means garbanzo beans and is the main ingredient in the dish. IMO it is crucial to prepare these beans properly. I remember our friend’s mother told me to cook the beans for a long time. They should be cooked for 3 hours or you can use a pressure cooker according to its instructions, of course. Cooking for this long will soften the beans and let the flavors come out. So if time is not an issue, I would recommend home cooked chickpeas instead of using the canned ones. The canned beans will not have the same results for sure.

Garam masala is the main spice in the dish. It is not just one spice but is actually a cleverly chosen mixture of a few spices: fennel seeds, star anise, mace, black cardamom. It is nicely balanced so one flavor will not overwhelm the dish. You can blend it yourself or you can just buy it. (I ended up buying it at the store).

This is a common dish that people in India make on a regular basis for lunch or dinner. It has an interesting flavor, taste and texture. It can be made less spicy, if you don’t like spicy dishes, just leave out the green chili. So chana masala is basically a chickpea curry cooked in an onion tomato sauce with the spices. I always wonder how poor people in India get by on very little money and still eat well. This dish might be one of their secrets …

RECIPE

-I doubled the recipe

serves 3-4 people

  • 1 cup of dried chickpeas or 1 (15oz) can
  • 3 cups of water

Ingredients for the tomato sauce

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil/ghee
  • 2 large onions, finally chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch ginger piece, finally chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 TBSP of red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste

Ingredients for the chana masala gravy

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick (If you double up the recipe, you will not need to add another cinnamon stick)
  • 2-3 clove pieces
  • 3 green cardamom pods without the shells.
  • 1 green chili pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1-1 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 pinch mango powder (amchur) (optional)
  • fenugreek leaves (optional)
  • coriander leaves

Directions

Clean and soak the chickpeas for at least 8 hours. Pour off soaking liquid. Add fresh cold water and cook for 3 hours. Less for pressure cooker. Save cooking liquid. Omit if using canned beans.

Directions for the tomato sauce

  • Sauté the onions in oil or ghee until golden. Add the chopped ginger for 1 minute, stir.
  • Add red chili powder and turmeric. Stir for 1 minute. Add garlic quickly, stir.
  • Quickly add chopped tomatoes and little salt, stir. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until there is a nice sauce. The onions should not taste raw.
  • Let this mixture cool. Add 1 tbsp liquid from the beans. Make a thick gravy with a blender. Set aside.

Directions for the Chana masala gravy

  • Dry heat the spices (cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cardamom, clove) in a pot for 1 minute until you can smell the aroma of the spices. Stir. I grind the cardamom as some people don’t like them in their foods whole.
  • Pour the blended tomato sauce mixture from the previous step back into the pot, the chopped green chili pepper, coriander and garam masala powders and the spices.
  • Mix and cook for a few minutes until ingredients are mixed nicely.
  • Add the cooked chickpeas and the cooking water. You might have to add more water.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-6 minutes.
  • Taste the mixture and see if you need more garam masala. Boil and simmer for 2 more minutes if spices were added.
  • Take out the larger spices like bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves.
  • I also added salt here.
  • Keep it covered until served.
  • Serve hot with cilantro, yoghurt, lemon, rice, vegetables and roti.

enjoy!

Source

https://www.indianhealthyrecipes.com/chana-masala/

Gourmet kitchari (moong bean stew)

I don’t know if the ground hog’s prediction is right or wrong but it is still cold here. So let’s go to a more exotic place like India and get a popular dish. No worries, no exotic foods will be used. You should be able to find all the ingredients here in the US at any grocery store. If your grocery store does not have them, you can try any Indian or Asian store but really all these ingredients are common in the US. I serve the dish with whatever vegetables I can get in the store, spinach, kale, cauliflower etc.

This dish is more of a gourmet version of the simple kitchari with the addition of mustard seed, cinnamon, cardamom and chili pepper. You can also add your favorite vegetarian dishes to make it more complete and fun. I used spinach, paneer, fried mushrooms and rice. Kitchari is such a healthy dish even if you serve it with all these other foods. If you want to experience the healthiest dish on the planet, please check out my simple kitchari recipe from last year.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup of mung beans
  • vegetable oil (I used home made ghee. )
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 10-15 mustard seeds
  • 1″ stick of cinnamon
  • seeds of 3 green cardamom pods (discard green shell)
  • 1 tomato, chopped (canned is fine)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of stock (more if you want a soup)
  • 1 green chili pepper (you can remove the seeds if you don’t like your dish too hot)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • yoghurt
  • cilantro
  • lime or lemon

Direction

  • Clean and soak mung beans overnight but at least for 2 hours. Pour off water and use fresh cold water to cook the beans for 1-1.5 hour.
  • Making the gravy. Saute the onion on medium high heat. You can add the cinnamon stick.
  • When you smell the nice aroma add the ginger, cardamom seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds stir and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the powders (turmeric, cumin, coriander), stir. Add garlic, stir.
  • Add 1 chopped tomato and cook for about 5-10 minutes until it becomes saucy.
  • Add chopped chili pepper and cold stock, stir.
  • Bring to a boil, turn down and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Add in the cooked moong beans and cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve warm with rice, yoghurt, cilantro and lemon.
  • I also used paneer, spinach stew and fried mushrooms.

enjoy!

Recipe, photo and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Sauerkraut dish with kielbasa

This delicious dish is very easy to make. I probably should have called it the bachelor/bachelorette sauerkraut dish … but it is not just for the bachelors/bachelorettes, it is the perfect dish whenever you want to make something quick but tasty and healthy. Of course, you can never go wrong with sauerkraut, it is so healthy.

It is a super easy recipe but I would like to note a few things. The onion has to be finally chopped and the dish needs to be cooked well otherwise it will have a raw taste. Don’t forget to rinse the sauerkraut well with cold water as its liquid it is kept in is very acidic.

There are two types of sauerkraut. One is preserved with vinegar and the other is processed with salt. I prefer the salted version as it is less acidic and is better for health. This version acts as a probiotic and supports gut health and digestive functions. Of course, the vinigar version would be fine to use, too.

RECIPE

Serves 6-8 people

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finally chopped
  • oil (sunflower, lard)
  • 4 large slices of bacon, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika powder
  • 1 cup of cold meat stock
  • 1 apple, cored, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 2 lbs of sauerkraut, well rinsed
  • red chili pepper (optional)
  • 1 lb of kielbasa or sausage
  • sour cream to serve
  • rice or potatoes to serve
  • bread
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Chop the onions making sure they are finally chopped. Also chop the bacon. Sauté onions and bacon in some oil for about 10 minutes on medium high heat. Sauté the apple pieces for a few minutes.
  • Add the paprika, stir for 1 minute to activate and add the cold stock, stir.
  • Rinse sauerkraut well with water.
  • Add the sauerkraut, stir. Continue adding, the mustard, red chili pepper (optional) and caraway seeds. You can add the meat too. If the meat is already cooked, you do not have to add it at this point. Although I personally like it if any meat is cooked in the dish regardless whether it is precooked or not. If you don’t include it at this step, just add it at the end.
  • Cook for 45-60 minutes until the sauerkraut is well cooked.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve with sour cream and your choice of bread, potatoes or rice.

enjoy!

Stuffed turnip (Фаршированная репа)

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Hope you all had a lovely Holiday and got to eat lots of delicious food. Now I feel that it would be nice to eat something refreshing, more cleansing though … and turnip is a tasty vegetable that could be used. I always think of the Russian folk tale, The Giant Turnip when I hear the name, turnip. Also, the Russians have many sayings that include the word turnip like “this turnip seems to be as sweet as an apple for us” (“Нам и репка за яблочко кажет”) means that people do not need a lot of wealth to be happy. In fact, turnip is an important staple in the Northern countries like Russia. So let’s go to Russia and get their famous recipe for stuffed turnip.

This is a very simple dish at its best. The main ingredients are the nutty buckwheat, the earthy mushrooms and the pungent turnips that mainly create this special dish. There are no exotic ingredients or spices. Honestly, I only used thyme, salt and pepper to flavor.

I got this recipe from a website called http://www.Russianrecipebook.com but I made some minor changes. I cooked the buckwheat in stock instead of just water. I also reduced the amount of the mushrooms in my recipe. In addition, when cooking, you need to be careful with the turnips as they cook fast. They need to be boiled for only about 10-12 minutes to get the right consistency. Otherwise, it is a very easy and quick recipe. This dish is more like the everyday people’s food. I also like to make the stuffing with 1 cup of buckwheat (rest of the ingredients should be adjusted) so I can have some on the side as well.

Wonder if we had cooked tasty dishes like this in my Russian classes, I would speak Russian now …

Turnips have been used in folk medicine for thousands of years. A cold climate loving vegetable, it is native to Northern Europe and is still popular today. Turnips have many beneficial properties. They are great source of vitamins, minerals, anti oxidants and fiber and may be used among others for indigestion, detoxification, diabetes, jaundice. In Chinese Medicine, they have a neutral thermal nature and have pungent, sweet and bitter flavor at the same time. They are considered to be useful for their dispersing abilities in lung ailments; however, this quality is only available in its raw form. They are also used for improving circulation and remove damp conditions in the body. The green top is also valuable.

RECIPE

Serves about 2 people.

Ingredients

  • 4 smaller-sized turnips or less if bigger
  • 4 oz fresh mushrooms (I used crimini)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked buckwheat (1/2 cup of cooked buckwheat)
  • 1/2 cup of bone or vegetable broth or water
  • 1/8 cup shallots or half of a small onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley 
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese (mozzarella, provolone, cheddar, or parmesan for extra flavor)
  • 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil and/or butter
  • 1 tsp fresh or 1/2 tsp dried thyme (optional)

Directions

Preparing the buckwheat

  • Clean buckwheat kernels and soak for a couple hours.
  • In a medium sized pot start boiling the stock or water. Add them to the boiling liquid and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until they are soft but not mushy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Preparing the turnips

  • Clean well and peel the turnips. Boil them for about 10-12 minutes or until they are just soft enough to scoop out the insides. The bigger ones will take more time. This is the most difficult part of the recipe. You really need to keep an eye on those turnips, they should be somewhere slightly cooked. Try not to overcook them. When done, take out turnips and let them cool. You can put them in cold water.
  • Cut off enough of the bottoms to create a flat surface that will allow them to stand upright on a baking sheet. Save the cut portion. With a spoon and/or a small knife, scoop some of the flesh out of the top end to form a cup. Save the scooped flesh as well, they are so tasty. (You can scoop the inside of the turnip out with a watermelon scooper or a measuring spoon).

Preapring the stuffing.

  • Sautee the onions or shallots in some oil for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile thoroughly clean the mushrooms and chop them up. Add them to the onions and continue to sauté them for about 10 more minutes or longer for some wild mushrooms and then let them cool.
  • Add the cooked buckwheat, bread crumbs, grated cheese and the saved chopped turnip pieces. Mix well. I would like to invite you to take a bite of the stuffing, it is so delicious.

Stuffing the turnips

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • On a well-greased baking sheet, arrange the turnips in an upright position with the scooped-out wider portions facing up (like cups). (I used tomato sauce for the bottom of the pan). Fill the turnips with stuffing. Ideally the stuffing should heap above the surface of the turnips, although this will depend on the size of the turnips, and the amount of stuffing.
  • Put a small piece of butter on top of each turnip and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes, until the turnips are heated through and crusty on top. The turnips should not be raw but nicely baked. If it is still raw, just bake it a little longer.

Mushroom sauce recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces of mushrooms
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp dried sage or 2 fresh leaves
  • 1/4 tsp of dried rosemary crushed or 1 fresh spring
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 cup of stock
  • 1/4 cup of creme

Directions

  • While the stuffed turnip is baking, prepare the mushroom sauce. In a saucepan, warm oil over medium heat, add rosemary for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid and mushrooms are well browned. Stir frequently. Add thyme, sage and let cook for one minute. Add stock, stir, and let simmer for 10 minutes and reduce heat to low.
  • Transfer half of gravy to a blender and puree until completely smooth. Add pureed mushrooms back into mushroom mixture and stir. See if you like the consistency. If not thick enough, puree a little more of the mixture.

Serve turnips hot, with sour cream and mushroom sauce. Decorate with parsley. I also made additional stuffing to serve on the side.

Enjoy!

Source

Photos and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Marinated pork with prunes

It is December now and I am already missing the plums from this summer. Then I happened upon this recipe (source of the recipe) … a dish with pork baked in prune sauce! I really like to prepare meats with fruits and the prunes work nicely with the pork here. Oh and that savory aroma of the prunes cooking with the shallots!!! … I decided that I will be making this recipe for Christmas Eve. I believe it would be perfect for this busy night. It can be marinated ahead of time and then just has to be cooked on the 24th … and after eating this dish I might have visions of sugar plums dancing in my head…

I really like simple meals that have an interesting flavor and this dish does just that. The pork is first marinated in a mustardy sauce and further baked in a savory plum sauce to perfection.The moist pork works nicely with the sweet prunes along with pungent spices and results in a unique sweet and savory flavor. Of course, it needs to be served with some nice wine or grape drink.

I made a few minor changes to the original recipe. I added a little red hot pepper, of course it is optional but for me, some spiciness was missing. I felt that the sweet pork along with the sweet sauce needed a touch of spiciness to balance the dish out. Not sure if it is authentic but this was more to satisfy my personal taste.

Also, I served this dish with brussel sprouts in addition to the potatoes that the recipe already calls for. I served brussel sprouts but any other bitter green leafy vegetable like kale, lettuce would work well. Also, the recipe calls for 2 cups of chicken stock. You can do half white wine and half chicken stock if you wish.

If you can’t find tenderloin or just don’t want to spend so much money, sirloin is a nice alternative. Sirloin, a different part of the pork is not as tender, will require longer cooking time and more cooking liquid. (I cooked it for 15 minutes longer and added an extra 1/4 cup of chicken stock). Honestly, they both taste nice though. Of course, if you want to impress your guests, or just treat yourself to something special, the tenderloin is more superior in flavor so go for the tenderloin!

A few words about the pork. It is sweet and salty. According to Ancient Chinese Medicine, pork is great for the fall and the winter as it is moistening. In fact, pork is moistening for the lungs, kidneys, and the spleen-pancreas. In Europe, it is a popular meat during the cold months especially during Christmas time.

Recipe

Ingredients

1 pork tenderloin (approx. 1.25 pounds) or sirloin
2 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves of garlic, minced + 4 whole cloves, peeled and slightly smashed
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (or 1/2 tsp dry)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
10 dried plums (prunes), chopped in half
2 smaller shallots or 1 bigger one, peeled and thinly chopped
2 cups chicken or pork broth or 1 cup of chicken/pork stock and 1 cup of white wine
1 TBSP red wine vinegar
fresh parsley

Dierections

Marinade: In a small bowl mix sugar, dijon mustard, 2 tsp olive oil, thyme, sale, pepper and 2 cloves of garlic. Put the mixture on the tenderloin, evenly spreading it all over the pork. You can put the pork in a zip lock bag or a marinating dish with a lid. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 F (190C). Take the pork mixture out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature.

Prune sauce: In a pan with oven proof handles, gently heat 2 tsp of olive oil, add shallots and stir. Cook until it start becoming soft and you can smell its aroma – about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, the chopped prunes and stir … Now if I may,
I would like to invite you to stop for a few seconds and smell the aroma of the shallots, the garlic and the prunes, it is amazing … after 1 minute add the chicken stock, vinegar and hot pepper (optional). Cook for 5-10 minutes.

Place the pork in the middle of the pan. Put the pan into the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes. Cook for an additional 20-25 minutes basting 2-3 times or until the meat is 160F.

When meat’s temperature reached 160F, take the pan out of the oven and cover. Let it rest here for 10 minutes before you start slicing them.

Serve sliced with potatoes, brussel sprouts and some wine. Drizzle the sauce on the top.

enjoy!

Sources