Friday, April 30, 2010

Kurdish Carrot Fritters

I have been wanting to make these from the second I saw them. I adore cooked carrots. Hate them raw, love them cooked. I know I'm super weird. I also love labneh which is the accompaniment to these carrot fritters. The awesome thing about them (for most people who keep a stocked fridge and pantry, unlike me who buys for the week and plans each meal down to the side dish) is that you can make them from normal things around the house. They were super easy and could have been made using the food processor instead of a grater to save time (just be careful not to over process.

Kurdish Carrot Fritters (adapted from Food Bridge)

5 medium sized carrots (about 2 cups), finely grated

1 yellow onion, grated

2 eggs

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 salt or to taste

1/8 tsp Ras el hanout

Canola oil for frying

Labneh for serving

  1. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Create round flat fritters from the mixture, about 1 tbsp per fritter.
  3. Heat oil in a pan, enough so that it comes half way up the fritters.
  4. Fry fritters until golden brown, on both sides.
  5. Remove on to paper towels to absorb excess oil.
  6. Serve with labneh or yogurt.

Bulgur Risotto with Corn and Shrimp

Bulgur Risotto with Corn and Shrimp
(adapted from SELF)
tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup bulgur wheat
1/2 teaspoon salt
9 oz fresh or frozen (thawed) raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 limes (1 juiced, 1 cut into wedges)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
4 tbsp crumbled goat cheese
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.

  2. Cook garlic, stirring, for 30 seconds; add bulgur and salt; stir 1 minute more.

  3. Gradually stir in 2 cups boiling water, 1/2 cup at a time (waiting until bulgur absorbs it to add more), until bulgur is slightly soupy, 8 to 10 minutes. (You might not use all the water.)

  4. Add shrimp. Cook, stirring constantly, until it turns pink, 2 to 3 minutes.

  5. Add corn, bell pepper, juice from 1 lime and red pepper flakes; stir, adding water to keep mixture creamy. Cook until corn and pepper are cooked through.

  6. Add cilantro; serve with lime wedges and goat cheese.

The goat cheese is not from the original recipe and isn't in the photo but it was so good on the risotto that I highly recommend it. I was a little skeptical before I made this but it really was very tasty. It had a very Mexican flavor to it. I don't think J was a big fan unfortunately.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Grilled Lemongrass Pork Salad

This recipe reminds me of some of the food from the Vietnamese restaurant we went to in Philadelphia. I am in search of an edible fish sauce for home use. If anyone has any recommendations I'm highly interested. The one I can find at my grocery store is Taste of Thai and I really dislike it. I add a tiny bit when it is called for but I would really like to be able to cook Asian food that I enjoy out at home with a good fish sauce.

Not to bad mouth my grocery store, but I'm also really fed up with the sporadic nature of stocking the shelves that they have. It seems that every week there are one or two ingredients, that every single other time that I go to the store, they are in stock, but the one week that I decide to use them for a recipe they're not on the shelf. This week it was bean sprouts. I bought a can instead but they smelled so bad even after rinsing and drying etc. that I couldn't use them for dinner.

Grilled Lemongrass Pork Salad (adapted from Seasaltwithfood)

10 oz. pork loin, sliced thinly
3 stalks lemongrass, sliced and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp peanut oil
1 pinch kosher salt
1 cucumber, julienned
rice vermicelli, cooked
red leaf lettuce, shredded
½ cup peanuts
1/2 red pepper, julienned
mint leaves, chiffonade
basil, chiffonade

  1. Marinade the pork for about 3 hours in the next nine ingredients (through salt).
  2. Preheat the broiler or grill to high heat.
  3. Grill the pork slices until the meat is done and the edges are nicely charred on both sides. Remove the meat from the grill and cut into smaller slices, if desired. Serve immediately with the rest of the salad ingredients.
To make the marinade easier to make, use a mini prep food processor to mince and combine.
I make a sweet sauce for J to add to his. I microwaved: 1 tbsp dark soy sauce, 1 tbsp chunky peanut butter, 1 tsp wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp sesame oil, and 1 tbsp hoisin sauce. Then I whisked them together.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mezze for dinner (recipes for Kibbe and Labneh)

I really enjoy Lebanese food (and Middle Eastern in general). Last year for my birthday we went to The Cedar Restaurant in Camp Hill and the four of us shared ten mezze for dinner. Since the first few times we went to the restaurant, J really seemed to enjoy this type of food. Since then I have been trying to recreate as many things as possible. This is one of my favorite restaurant items, kibbe balls. The restaurant deep fries the balls but this recipe calls for you to bake them. I think I prefer the frying but I'm sure it was less messy this way. In addition to the kibbe balls, hummus, and pita bread, I decided to make some of the other things we enjoy from the Lebanese Restaurant, labneh and vegetables. Labneh
Yogurt Cheese on Foodista

I have been making labneh for a few months now. I told someone about it who was skeptical of this method but it is so much easier than making your own yogurt to start with store bought yogurt. I've only used Greek yogurt. Mix a few sprinkles of kosher salt into yogurt. Place yogurt in a strainer lined with a coffee filter over a bow. Cover and place in fridge overnight and drain until yogurt cheese forms. Drizzle with olive oil and add a pinch of sumac.

Kibbe Balls
(from Chicho's Kitchen)

1 to 1½ lb (500 to 700g) ground beef
2 cups bulgur (cracked wheat)
1 onion
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
  1. Wash bulgur under running water then soak in water for about 10 minutes. Drain then press to remove moisture as much as possible.
  2. Mash onion in the food processor then add meat in batches.
  3. Remove and place aside.
  4. Mix meat mixture with bulgur, salt, spices. Process well in batches into a firm paste.
  5. Knead mixture with wet hands into a smooth paste. Put in refrigerator for 30 minutes covered with a piece of wet texture.
1/3 pound (150g) ground beef
1 onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
a handful of fried pine nuts
1 tbsp sumac

  1. Fry chopped onion with a dash of salt in oil until transparent.
  2. Add minced meat, salt and spices to onions and fry until cooked.
  3. Mix in pine nuts. Put filling aside.
  4. Divide paste into egg sized balls. Dip your hands in cold water then roll each ball between the palms of your hands until smooth.
  5. Make a hole in the middle with your forefinger. Work finger round in the hole until you have a shell of even thickness.
  6. Fill hole with filling mixture and close opening. Moisten with cold water to seal well and to shape with two pointed sides. If any breaks appear in shell, close with wet fingers.
  7. Place balls on a tray. Bake them in the oven at 350ºF (180ºC) for 20 mn or heat oil in a pan then fry till brown evenly and cooked.
I had a little bit of filling leftover and so I added some sliced zucchini, sliced carrots, sliced onions, and sliced red peppers and sauteed them in the pan with the leftover filling. Delicious!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hummus and crispy chickpea skins

I know everyone makes a hummus recipe. I know most hummus recipes are quick and easy. This was not quick and easy but it made some damn good hummus. This was just like the Lebanese Restaurant near our house. I didn't think about researching beforehand and spent a really, really long time peeling each individual garbanzo bean. I read about a few other methods just now. Results: super smooth hummus. I couldn't just let all those skins go to waste though. So I put them in the oven and sort made some snacks like when I made the ceci arrostiti. All I did for the skins was put them in the oven on 350 degrees with a little spray of olive oil and some salt and ras el hanout. I checked them often but I'd guess they were in there between 10 and 20 minutes. YUM! Here is a picture: When I was in pre-school my best friend's family was Palestinian, recently my mom and I visited her parents and her mom taught me how to make falafel correctly with a press. I haven't had a chance to make them again but she gave me a large bag of garbanzo beans and that's what I used to make this hummus.

(from Chicho's Kitchen)

1 cup chickpeas soaked overnight (or one cup canned chickpeas drained and rinsed)
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
cooking water
olive oil

  1. Cook the chickpeas with boiling salted water until tender.
  2. When done, drain the beans and keep the cooking water. Peel them.
  3. Put the chickpeas into a food processor and grind until smooth.
  4. Add the tahini, the garlic, the lemon juice and the salt if necessary. If the hummus is thick, add some cooking water blending until the desired texture. Spoon into a dish, drizzle some olive oil and garnish a pinch of sumac.
I added water a few tablespoons at a time. I think it depends on your preference of texture on how much water you add.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

100th Post, Another Stir-Fry

I was hoping my 100th post would be something more exciting than another stir-fry. This one wasn't great and I added some hoison sauce to the top of mine to make it taste better. This was originally supposed to be a salad of cabbage and leftover pork. I took it and turned it into a stir fry and then added leftover vegetables that I forgot I had in the fridge. Fell asleep before dinner last night so I'll have to push a few meals forward this week.

Pork and Roasted Carrot Ramen Stir Fry

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp honey
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

9 oz pork loin, cut into small thin pieces

7 carrots, cut into chunks
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp five spice powder
1 pinch kosher salt
2 tsp soy sauce

2 cups cole slaw mix
1/3 red pepper, julienned
1/2 zucchini, julienned
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced

1 pack ramen noodles, cooked without flavoring packet and drained
2 scallions, sliced
1 egg
1 tsp peanut oil

  1. Marinate pork in first 6 ingredients.
  2. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Mix carrots with next 4 ingredients. Place on baking sheet and roast 30 min.
  3. Heat water for ramen noodles, meanwhile heat peanut oil in wok over medium to high heat. Add cabbage, garlic, onion, pepper, and zucchini to wok. Cook 5-7 min or until vegetables are almost desired doneness.
  4. Add pork to wok and cook through.
  5. Cook ramen according to package. Rinse and shake dry and add to wok. Remove carrots from oven and add to wok.
  6. Move vegetables to side of wok to expose some of the hottest part of the wok. Break egg into wok and scramble, mixing into noodles, pork and vegetables. Be sure egg cooks through entirely. Top with scallions.

In search of the yeastless pizza crust...

I was having my cousins HT and E over for "make your own pizza". I don't like dealing with yeast dough when I'm having guests because it's a little bit of a hassle. Luckily on Sunday night I decided to give a new recipe a dry run. I found a flatbread recipe and found some junk in the house to put on it. The problem was it was too dry and cracker-like which wasn't what I was looking for.

Being that I had to cook for the children (plus my mom and aunt) on Tuesday, I had no choice but to find another recipe and cook it sight unseen. After reading the copious reviews I decided I should be able to trust it. I liked it! The kids seemed to enjoy it and the parents seemed to like it too. Here are the two recipes and the pictures from each. You decide what you like...
Flatbread Dough (from Whole Family Fare)

1 1/3 cups unbleached flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup water

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Start by mixing the dry ingredients together. Add the egg yolks and olive oil.
  3. Pour in the water and slowly mix until it forms a very shaggy dough.
  4. Knead for a few minutes (you may need to add a little more flour so that it isn't so sticky).
  5. Let it rest for 20 minutes, before rolling it out (preferably onto an preheated baking stone). Bake at 450 for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven and top with your veggies and cheeses. Place back in the oven for 5 minutes.
I topped this one with leftover fajita chicken, shredded and mixed with crushed fennel seed, sliced leftover apple, and a little shredded colby jack cheese. I don't think I would reccommend these particular toppings.

Here is the other recipe:
Yeast Free Pizza Crust (adapted from

2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2/3 c. water
1/4 c. olive oil

Mix all ingredients and let sit 10-15 minutes to rest. With a little whole wheat flour on the board, roll out dough to desired size and thickness. Top and bake on 500 degrees for 12-15 min.
Here the kids are eating.
Here we are with the kids' creations. They had red sauce, cheese and bacon.
The Aftermath
The adults had pear and blue cheese pizza with walnuts and rosemary. MMMMMMM

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ceci arrostiti

Ever since I saw the fried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) on the airline magazine on Southwest, I had wanted to make this snack. I don't particularly like garbanzo beans. I like hummus but that's about it. I think it is a textural thing. For health reasons I decided to roast these, having just learned about this technique on a variety of sites. I made two different flavors (because I know some of my visitors aren't garlic fans). They were great right out of the oven but when I tried to store them it didn't work well. Tomorrow I am going to try and put them in the toaster oven to try and rejuvenate them for the people coming over.

Ceci arrostiti (Roasted chickpeas)

1 can garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed and dried on a clean dish towel
2 tsp olive oil

black pepper, fresh garlic minced, dried rosemary, kosher salt

brown sugar, cayenne pepper, dried rosemary, kosher salt
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix oil and beans, tossing to coat. Feel free to loosen skins lightly, they will crisp nicely if slightly detatched.
  3. Since I made to flavors I divided the batch in half and coated each half with a different flavor. Season to taste.
  4. Spread seasoned beans in a single layer on a baking sheet (I used foil to divided the sheet in half).
  5. Roast in oven 30-40 minutes.
  6. Cool slightly then serve.
The beans in the foreground are the ones with cayenne pepper and brown sugar.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lemon Grass Chicken and Noodles

This was my first experience cooking with lemon grass and I really enjoyed it. I'm hoping it will be more accessible at the store next time I try to buy it. This time I was able to find it in two forms. One was a jar but I was apprehensive about it so I ended up buying the seafood pack of herbs in the produce section. It came with dill and chives but I feel in the future if I have to buy it in that form I will be able to find a vehicle for those herbs as well. J thought this tasted too much like cilantro and I thought it needed to be sweeter. I added a little hoisin sauce mixed with leftover chicken broth at the table. The picture above does not include that. The whole thin was only approximately 6 WW points (including the hoison sauce).

Lemon Grass Chicken and Noodles (adapted from Weight Watchers)
Serves 3-4

5 sprays cooking spray
6 oz boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 large scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced
1 1/2 tbsp chopped lemongrass
2 cloves garlic minced
1 cup fat free chicken broth
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
zest of 1 lime
1/2 tsp crushed red paper flakes
8 oz whole wheat linguine
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
(1 tbsp hoisin sauce, thinned with a few tbsps chicken broth)

  1. Cook pasta according to package, keep hot.
  2. Coat a large wok with cooking spray and set pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add chicken and cook 5 minutes, until golden brown on all sides.
  4. Add scallions, lemongrass and garlic and stir-fry 2 minutes.
  5. Add broth, soy sauce, zest and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  6. Remove a few tablespoons of hot broth from wok and mix with cornstarch. Add slurry to wok.
  7. Add spaghetti and cook 1 minute to heat through. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.
  8. Top with hoisin sauce as desired.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tuscan Pork Pita

Tuscan Pork Pita (adapted from Weight Watchers)

1 wheat pita
3 oz. pork loin, sliced in rounds, pounded to 1/8" thickness

1/2 small tomato, sliced thinly
several basil leaves
1/4 cup sliced eggplant
2 tbsp roasted red peppers
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, grated
3/4 tsp rosemary
kosher salt

  1. Heat broiler on high heat.
  2. Mix olive oil, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  3. Coat pork slices with dressing.
  4. Press eggplant into breadcrumbs and broil each side for approx. 4 min on each side. Set aside.
  5. Press pork slices into breadcrumbs. Broil approx. 5 min on each side or until done. Set aside.
  6. Wrap pita in wet paper towel and microwave 30 seconds.
  7. Fill pita with tomato slices, basil, pork, eggplant, and roasted red peppers.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pork and Vegetable Teriyaki Soba Noodles

Today I learned the value of marinating overnight. Sure, recipes usually say a few hours to overnight. And even though I know which days I'm cooking what, I sometimes don't think ahead on the marinating until it is too late. Yesterday I had planned on making stir-fry, but I fell asleep and decided to save it for today. The overnight marinating made a huge difference in the taste of the pork.

Pork and Vegetable Teriyaki Soba Noodles

7 oz. pork loin, cut in to strips
3.2 oz dry soba noodles
10 asparagus spears, cut into thirds
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/2 red onion, sliced
3 scallions, chopped
2 cups cole slaw mix (cabbage/carrots shredded)
3 carrots, diced
1 broccoli crown, cut into florets
1 cup broccolini, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp teriyaki sauce
2 tbsp hoison sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp peanut oil

  1. Marinate pork strips overnight in 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce and 2 tbsp hoison.
  2. In a wok heated over medium high heat, heat 2 tbsp peanut oil.
  3. Add broccoli, asparagus, onion, garlic, and carrots and stir-fry several minutes until slightly tender.
  4. Add scallions, broccolini, zucchini and cabbage and cook until tender.
  5. Add soy sauce, cook one minute and remove vegetables from wok.
  6. Add last tablespoon peanut oil to wok and heat. Drain marinade from pork (leaving a little for flavor) and add to wok.
  7. Cook soba noodles according to package while pork cooks.
  8. Add cook soba noodles to cooked pork in wok plus extra 2 tbsp teriyaki sauce and stir to coat.
  9. Add vegetables back into wok and stir to heat through. Serve.

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli and Walnuts: Biggest Loser Recipe Makeover #3

Well the contest is over and J came in first! I was third (lost ~25 lbs.) and my dad was second. This is one of the meals we ate the very last week. Since then we had Easter eating extravaganza and I started a contest at work so I'll be weighing in each week still. I had gained 10 lbs. from Easter but I'm back down 7 lbs. Hopefully I can lose those last 3 lbs. quickly and get back on track (otherwise I have to pay a dollar!). Still eating minimal meat when I cook at home. This used only about 4 oz. of chicken. I suppose I could have left it out but J really doesn't like pasta dishes so I feel like it needs a little meat to make him happier.

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli and Walnuts (adapted from Real Simple)

4 ounces shell pasta or some other short pasta
2 crown broccoli, cut into small florets
3 tbsp walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
1 tsp salted butter
1/8 cup grated Parmesan
4 oz. cooked chicken breast
  1. Heat oven to 400° F.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot.
  3. Meanwhile, on a rimmed baking sheet, toss the broccoli, walnuts, oil, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Roast, tossing once, until the broccoli is tender, approx. 15 minutes. Toss the pasta with the broccoli mixture, chicken breast, butter, and some of the reserved pasta water. (Add more water if the pasta seems dry.) Sprinkle with the Parmesan before serving.