Everyone’s taste buds change over time.
Even before I started the sweetener-free challenge, I wondered how my tastes have changed. I can’t do deep-fried foods or other meals doused in oil. It isn’t the fat that bothers me because I easily down more than a handful of nuts in a sitting.
Last week, I started to re-introduce sweets. Fruits: mostly apples and berries. I have replenished my morning grapefruit stash. Dark chocolate, too: I made my Almost Guiltless Chocolate Mousse Pie. After this challenge, my tolerance for highly sweetened foods decreased.
My tolerance for spice has increased, albeit still slowly.
Then I discovered Aleppo chile flakes, more flavourful than hot. Slowly I added more and more to my dishes. I began experimenting with Ancho chili powder and paprika as well.
I was drawn to this recipe for Spanish Chickpeas since it looked like a flavourful warm chickpea salad. Spiced with smoked paprika, chile powder and roasted garlic, it really called my name. It has been awhile since I’ve pan-cooked chickpeas, and as I made it, I added spinach. When I sat down to eat it, I was smitten. Perfectly balanced with smoky undertones, sweetness from the red peppers and lightness from the lemon juice. It reminded me of my Spanish Chickpea Salad with Capers and Roasted Red Peppers (without the salty capers) and the addition of the spinach reminded me of Andalusian Chickpeas and Spinach. Two years ago, I made a hybrid from Deb’s recipe and the recipe in The New Spanish Table. All I remember was that it too spicy. I remember kicking myself for using so much paprika.
Two years later, I compare both recipes. I assumed I had used a tablespoon of paprika or something crazy the first time. No, it was only one teaspoon. Just like in this recipe. This version was definitely not spicy even with the addition of Ancho chile powder.
Any takers? Have my taste buds improved or has my paprika decreased in potency?
(My paprika is not two years old, in case you were thinking it! I used sweet paprika from Penzey’s before and smoked paprika from Whole Foods for this recipe (the brand escapes me at this time) I am tempted to believe that smoked paprika isn’t as spicy as its non-smoked counterpart).
Here are some other great Spanish recipes:
Rob can be a bit predictable with his kitchen tastes. I am just like any other girl: confusing, to say the least.
I am constantly switching up what I make in the kitchen, focusing on a different new ingredient that I love, until I rediscover a new favourite food. I prance around, stocking my cupboards with ingredients that I love (or once loved).
What kind of recipe screams Janet-style?
First of all, it has to be free of animal products and refined flours/sugars. I try to keep added oils to a minimum. I enjoy more tart and acidic ingredients as opposed to creamy and rich. And it must be filled with beans and vegetables.
You might have to try to pin me down to figure out what my new ingredient du jour is, though…. And then again the following week for a more up-to-date answer….
Statistically, the blog tells me that I love almonds, red peppers and lemon. I should really put in a general bean/legume tag because then that will dwarf all other ingredients when they are amassed together. To be fair, I enjoy most vegetables and perfectly content with heaps of greens on my plate. My favourite cuisines are Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and lately Caribbean.
But today.. what am I enjoying today?
These days, my favourite ingredients are split yellow peas, butternut squash as well as fruit in savoury dishes.
Next month? Only time will tell….
This soup is probably the epitome of my current cooking adventures. A Mediterranean chickpea soup heaping with vegetables including butternut squash, green beans, carrots and silky tomatoes in a saffron- and paprika-spiced broth. And pears, oh pears, which is what my piqued my interest to make a second version of Spanish bean soup. This time, with help from Anya and The New Spanish Table (an adapted recipe can be found here). I know the ingredients seem a little hodgepodge, which is why Anya has dubbed this a Spanish Gypsy Pot, a nod to the seemingly eclectic ingredients.
Anya’s recipe is definitely more complex than the first Spanish Green Bean and Lima Bean Stew. It has a lot of the similar flavours, but it is so much more than the first soup. Yes, you dirty more pots but it is worth it. You simmer the tomatoes and onions separately. You fry some garlic and puree it with a handful of almonds. Only then does it get added to the long-simmered broth filled with chickpeas, squash, green beans and carrots. The pears add a lovely sweetness and the saffron and sweet paprika meld wonderfully with the stew. The vinegar and mint added at the end are a perfect conclusion to a sweet and savoury soup.
I am probably as eclectic as this soup, which is why I loved it so much. I encourage you to try it as well!
Rob and I just returned from a week-long vacation in Iceland. I hope to do a more complete post in a few weeks about the trip (wonderful! beautiful! stunning!), after I frantically try to put my life back into order with work and research commitments. My blog will go into autopilot until then.
I will tease you, though, and let you know how great the trip was and a week was certainly not long enough for the quaint island. Despite the stunning views and vistas, it was cold. While the daytime highs could be 8-20C, with winds beating us fiercely at 80 km/h, the windshield was brutal. It reminded me how it is truly fall.
Even before I left, I knew summer was slowly coming to an end at home. I was worried I would return to Canada to find fall, but instead, thankfully, it is still in the mid-20s.
However, there are other signs. The mornings are now dark when I get up and if I cook after work, it can be dark by the time I finish. Butternut squash, a surefire marker of fall, is making a come back!
After the cold winds of Iceland, I was hankering some warming stews and soups. Summer or fall, stews are great any time of the year. In fact, this stew doubles as a salad which is how I ate the leftovers. See how perfect this is for end-of-summer meals?
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health (recipe posted here), this is a flavourful medley of vegetables (red bell pepper, green beans, tomatoes and butternut squash) with a light broth spiced with sweet paprika. Spurred by Cara’s recommendation, I used butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes but both would work well here. This is great with the large, buttery lima beans, but feel free to use your favourite bean.
Moosewood recommended serving this with a romesco sauce on top, but I found I preferred the thickened leftover stew over top baby spinach with a sprinkle of toasted slivered almonds. After throwing my sweet and sour lentils overtop arugula, I am learning that most bean dishes can be thrown overtop some greens for a lovely salad.
So when she made Spanish Chickpea Salad with Capers and Roasted Red Peppers for a potluck, I asked her how she liked it. “It was all gone!” But how did you like it? “It was great!”
When she made Bulgur and Cantaloupe Salad with Hazelnuts and Mint for her barbecue, I asked her how she liked it. “It was all gone!” But how did you like it? “I didn’t even get to try it, it was gone so fast!” Wowzas!
Personally, I don’t subscribe to the if-there-are-leftovers-they-didn’t-like-it camp. It all depends on how much food is available. I tend to err on the side of too much food so that no one can say they left hungry. Granted, this means I make dishes that will make great leftovers for me, and usually a large batch of the recipe, at that.
Recently, my brother and sister-in-law were over for dinner while Rob was out-of-town and trust me, I erred on the side of more food. I included this soup as an after-thought, after I had already decided to double the recipe for the main dish. They still demolished the meal, which was sad for Rob, because he wasn’t able to try any of the leftovers. Because I definitely had Rob in mind (mango lover extraordinaire) as I prepared this last-minute mango gazpacho.
Adapted from The 30-Minute Vegan, this is a wonderful chilled soup with summer salsa flavours. Gazpacho is a Spanish chilled soup typically filled with tomatoes, peppers and onions that is partially pureed to give it a chunky soup-like consistency. In this Thai-fusion version, mango is added to the traditional tomatoes and bell peppers, along with cilantro and parsley. The sweetness from the mango is countered beautifully by the zippiness from chili flakes and chile powder. It took me a bit longer than 30 minutes to chop everything for the soup, but it was a very simple soup to prepare. I found it tasted best after a long chill, almost 6 hours, which is a perfect make-ahead summer appetizer.
This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to My Kitchen, My World for Spain, to E.A.T. World for Spain, and to this month’s Simple and in Season, to Ricki’s new Summer Wellness Weekends and to this month’s No Croutons Required for raw salads/soups for Lisa’s birthday (I’d also serve this with Savoury Hemp Crackers as a side, Raw Tacos with Walnut Taco Meat, Cashew Sour Cream and Tomato Salsa as our main and Raw Tropical Mango Pie for dessert).
Who likes garlic? I mean, really likes garlic? I probably shouldn’t scare the garlic-shy from this recipe, because it was really tasty. And didn’t leave me with garlic breath, so it couldn’t have been that potent with 14 cloves of garlic.
Ten of those garlic cloves are roasted, so they don’t really count towards the scary garlic count. Although, I almost had second thoughts as I dumped in 4 cloves of raw garlic at the end of making this stew. I shouldn’t have doubted Anya’s genius, though.
This recipe comes from The New Spanish Table, and I had been eyeing this recipe for months (I first mentioned it on my list of things to make with butternut squash back in November and again in January!). Honestly, I waited too long. This is a lovely, hearty stew that is both savoury but still slightly sweet. Lentils fill the stew as its base, and the butternut squash and red peppers add colour and sweetness. A head of roasted garlic brings a mellow sweetness as well. The peppers are both boiled and pan-fried for a contrast in flavour and texture (but I feel like this step could be skipped if you are pressed for time). And while I stated I don’t want to muck with Anya’s genius, I made a slight modification to her recipe, that I think lent to its prowess. Instead of adding in two fresh tomatoes (nothing with a fresh taste is around during the winter!), I added 1 cup of passata (strained tomatoes) at the end. This is where you get a silky tomato base for the stew that complements the squash, bell pepper and lentils so well.
I love it when I am surprised by a dish; but I shouldn’t have been.
Tomorrow I am heading home for the holidays. It will be spent with great family, food and friends.
And as I wonder what dishes I could make when I am home, I remind myself that no one likes mushrooms!
WHAT?! Can it be true?
I wasn’t really introduced to the foods my parents don’t like.
Boiled beef (my Mom loves it, though – I have no interest in ever trying it!).
Fair enough, my kids will never have to suffer through eating celery.
Myself, I was a late bloomer towards mushrooms. I started with an affinity for shiitakes, and then fell in love when I tried enoki mushrooms. Shimeji are a nice woodsy, hearty mushroom, as well. Portobellos were always a nice meaty, treat. Then there’s the oyster mushroom, which tasted like seafood in the barley risotto. (Fair enough, I discovered my love for these wild mushrooms at the same time I found T&T!). I still shun the typical button mushrooms, especially if raw, but recently wanted to try yet another mushroom: cremini.
Truth be told, cremini mushrooms are the same as portobello mushrooms. They are baby portobellos. Once they reach 4-6″, they have graduated to portobello heaven. They are similar to button mushrooms in shape, but taste-wise they are meatier – they are more dense with a deeper flavour.
I was intrigued by Michael’s recipe for a Spanish Lentil and Mushroom Stew on Herbivoracious. He chose to use thick, quartered cremini mushrooms, that were browned. Because the mushrooms were thick, they kept their chewiness but were still slightly crispy on the outside. These flavourful mushrooms were paired with lentils with a hint of smoked paprika and a sherry vinaigrette, and topped with a light, sour tomato-basil salad.
I enjoyed the combination of flavours, of textures and of temperatures. The lentils were smokey with the paprika but the vinaigrette and tomatoes were sour; the lentils were smooth, the mushrooms chewy and the tomatoes crisp; the lentils and mushrooms were warm, the tomatoes cold. You look at the ingredient list and notice how deceiving it looks. It worked really well.
And now onto the winner of my first giveaway from csn stores. Congratulations to Janice who likes to make a noodle and vegetable soup. It sounds delicious. Let me know if you don’t get my email, Janice.
This is my submission to this round of Blog Bites 9, holiday buffet, potluck-style!
“An explosion of flavours.” I put that in quotations because my dad said it, completely unprompted, after a bite of these eggs. And this is from someone who usually says things are just “pretty good”, or “needs more spice”. You know how dads can be. He claims he didn’t know I had a blog. Now he is starring in it!
My parents seem to have become the wonderful victims of baked eggs when they come to visit over breakfast. I do make some elaborate breakfasts, but if I make a lot, I want to have tasty leftovers. Baked oatmeal is great for that. Baked eggs, not so much. This is why I break out these recipes when my parents come over.
I made a simple but tasty tomato sauce with poached eggs last time they were over for breakfast, but I keep collecting more recipes to try. Shakshuka, eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce and topped with feta cheese, has been on my hit list for a while, but I can’t bring myself to use pantry items during the summer. Red peppers and tomatoes are at their peak right now and how can I deny their cries?
I am so glad I listened to them, because as my dad put it, this was explosive. It is hard to compare directly with the eggs poached in a tomato sauce, as they vary in their length of preparation and one is purely tomato-based. Personally, I preferred these baked eggs with the flavours from the red peppers, tomatoes, sweet onions and garlic dancing beautifully together with a slightly runny baked egg atop. Due to the long cooking, the red peppers become sweet as if they had been roasted. The tomato and sweet braised onions add a comforting accent. I used ACE Bakery’s multigrain batard, which has a delicious hearty, yet light flavour which complemented the fruity ragout. Topped with the soft baked egg, this was brunch heaven. And it was all healthy. No cream. No butter. Just a few tablespoons of olive oil.
While I made this for a group, the ragout could easily be prepared ahead of time and reheated prior to baking the egg overtop. For those who eat solo, this is perfect. For those who don’t want half an hour of prep in the morning, this is also perfect.
This recipe was barely adapted from The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen. She explained that typically the red pepper ragout, called piperrada, is served with eggs scrambled into it. This way, it is served in individual ramekins, and is a very elegant breakfast, indeed.
Other breakfast egg dishes on my hit list:
Shakshuka from Smitten Kitchen
Tomato and Feta Baked Eggs from Closet Cooking
Baked Eggs with Creamed Spinach from Taste and Tell
Baked Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms from Gourmet
Baked Eggs Florentine from Oh Taste N See
Eggs in Purgatory from Apricosa
Panera Bread’s Spinach Artichoke Baked Egg Souffle posted by ABC News
Two Ingredient Maple Souffle by Sugarlaws
Cheddar Egg Nests by Sugarlaws
And many more found on this page with 100 ways to use eggs!
I have been on such a chickpea kick, adding them to my recent salads, that I am starting to wonder whether I should try to make them from dry. I am all for dry beans, as they are infinitely cheaper and probably taste better, too. Lentils are a no brainer as they cook up quickly and don’t need an overnight soak. That overnight soak, ie. advance preparation, is usually not that onerous since I routinely plan my meals days in advance. However, I have not had good luck with cooking dry chickpeas nor black beans, incidentally my two favourite beans – they just don’t seem to work. I remember having a pool of black soup with hard beans when I cooked black beans the first time. Does anyone have suggestions? Other than buy beans from a high-turnover bean store? (Bestwin definitely fits the bill here).
The good news is that canned beans work just as well for this dish!
I highly recommend roasting your own red peppers, though. I know you can buy them in a can, but freshly roasted peppers are infinitely juicier, tastier and healthier since they aren’t packed in oil.
When you have a simple salad, such as this one, each ingredient counts. And this salad is delicious: the sweet roasted red peppers are paired with the creamy, nutty pan-fried chickpeas, and they are dressed with a minty red wine vinegar vinaigrette with a sour note from capers. Lovely for picnics as a side salad, or even a main meal as the beans are quite filling. Traditionally this is served as a tapa, or appetizer, in Spanish cuisine.
I originally found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I found that there was a fair bit of oily dressing left over, so I modified the recipe to increase the red peppers and chickpeas. I also pan-fried the chickpeas in some of the oil, since pan-fried chickpeas taste a lot better than chickpeas straight from a can (the lesson I learned while making the utterly delicious warm chickpea and artichoke salad).
Allow the salad to mingle its flavours a few hours before serving and serve at room temperature. Leftovers are equally good, if not better.
This is my submission to Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring mint, to Nithu for this month’s Cooking with Whole Foods featuring chickpeas, to this week’s Wellness Weekend,to this week’s Healthy Vegan Fridays, this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Simona at Briciole, and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays (which also includes salads).
Continuing with the nut theme after muhammara, here is scrumptious nut, roasted pepper, tomato-based sauce teamed with chickpeas. Romesco sauce is a popular Spanish sauce from the Catalan Tarragona province and the variations are endless depending on whether the sauce is served as a dip, with vegetables, meatballs, fish, etc. The New Spanish Table, an enticing, Spanish cookbook, has 4 different recipes of the romesco sauce as each is tweaked to its accompaniment.
The sauce reminds me a bit of muhammara as the main flavours are roasted red peppers and nuts. The Romesco sauce has a heavier comforting tomato presence and the use of almonds is a bit more creamy than walnuts. As I prefer cooking vegetarian at home, I was excited to try it with chickpeas when I saw Joanne posted it on Eats Well With Others, who had adapted it from Veganomicon.
I wasn’t disappointed because the Romesco sauce worked wonderfully with the inherent nuttiness of chickpeas. This comforting dish is great year-round as canned tomatoes were easy to use before the juicy, ripe ones are available locally. I roasted my own peppers which added some time, but it was a fabulous, easy meal served alongside rice.
One mention about portion sizes, as I am still working my way through leftovers (which are really tasty, too). The original recipe says serves 4-6 but it really makes a lot of food. I’d gather around 8 servings. It could be due to the bigger cans of chickpeas in Canada (19 oz compared to the 15 oz in the recipe) and I also threw in an extra red pepper. Although this is not the first time I have run into discrepant portion sizes. I blame it on the bigger “super-sized” American meals! Has anyone else noticed this? As much as I loved it, I might half the recipe next time unless I am feeding a crowd.