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Bringing hors d’oeuvres to a dinner party? How about Roquefort Cherries?

This is a variation of an hors d’oeuvres that first appeared (for me) in Martha Stewart’s book, Entertaining. There are so many ways to change up the recipe, by using different cheeses, nuts and even fruits.  Read more

My Mother’s Apricot Jam, with Variation

An early childhood memory is breakfast at my paternal grandmother’s house after my sister and I had a sleep-over there: toast with peanut butter and apricot jam. My mother traditionally made this jam, and here I have used her recipe, adding the variation of the apricot kernel for flavour, suggested by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer in Canal House Cooking, Volume No. 4. Read more

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

This light and summery cake has been appearing on many food blogs lately and at Gourmet. It is simple to prepare and always a hit. Read more

Couscous Salad with Mangoes

This salad was adapted from Marcus Samuelsson’s recipe in “The Soul of a New Cuisine” and is a very refreshing addition to a summer menu. Read more

Chicken Marbella

This recipe for Chicken Marbella has been kicking around since The Silver Palate Cookbook first came out in 1979. I have countless friends who come back to this chicken dish time and time again because of its flavour, the convenience of making it ahead of time and the fact that it can be easily adjusted to serve a small or large gathering. Read more

Grilled Flatbread with Za’atar

This flatbread recipe is from Bon Appetit, May 2007. It can be varied by using any spice or herb mixture to finish and they freeze well. They are a tasty vehicle for any dip and are pictured here with Chickpea-Egglant Dip. Read more

Chickpea Eggplant Dip

For this occasion I followed Marcus Samuelsson’s  recipe in “The Soul of a New Cuisine” but I divided it in half.  I found the result to be flavourful, but the texture was pasty.  Below is my revised recipe.

1 c. dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water for 8 hours or overnight
1 carrot, peeled and cut in half
1 small onion, cut in half
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 eggplant, cut lengthwise in half
2 T. olive oil
1 Thai red chili, cut in half, seeds and ribs removed
1 t. ground cumin
1/2 c. plain yogurt, or to taste
salt, pepper and lemon juice, to taste
1-2 t. harissa, optional (recipe below)

Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups

Combine soaked chickpeas, carrot and onion in a medium saucepan, add 2 cups water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until the chickpeas or very tender, about 1 1/2 hours.  Drain, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300ºF.  Toss the garlic and eggplant with 2 T. oil and arrange on a roasting pan, eggplant cut side down, and roast for 40 minutes.  Add the chili to the roasting pan, cut side down, and roast for another 10 minutes.  Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Scoop the flesh from the eggplant and transfer to a blender.  Add the roasted garlic and chili, chickpeas, cumin, 1 T. olive oil and about 2 T. of cooking liquid.  Purée, adding enough yogurt and more of the cooking liquid, if needed, to reach a light, creamy consistency.  Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, lemon juice and harissa.  The dip will keep several days in the refrigerator, but is best served at room temperature.

Harissa
3/4 c. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. caraway seeds
1 c. mild chili powder
1 T. ground coriander
1 t. salt
2 T. chopped mint

Heat the oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the caraway seeds, chili powder, salt and mint and stir to combine. Let cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Harissa can also be used as an accompaniment to couscous or as a flavouring for soups and stews.

A Summer Menu for New Parents

Chickpea-Eggplant Dip
Grilled Flatbread with Za’atar
Chicken Marbella
Couscous Salad with Mangoes
Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

Dear friends of ours had a baby boy on August 1st.  This menu was intended to provide them with their first at-home meal after they brought him home from the hospital.  I anticipated that they would have many friends dropping by to see the baby and therefore planned a menu that could be served cold or at room temperature for lunch or dinner and that would keep over a few days.  Read more