Saturday, June 23, 2012

Peanutty Green Beans

I had purchased green beans a little over a week ago and had forgotten about them. Of course a week later, the beans had aged enough that I didn't think they would be ideal served neat. While still edible, I went looking for a way to spice them up. Ta-da! This peanut sauce was divine and surprisingly light when served with the beans. We served this with barbecued chicken and some chopped fresh tomatoes.   Definitely a favorite summer meal!


Serves 6

  • 450 g fresh green beans 
  • 1 T honey
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T fresh grated ginger
  • 1 T peanut butter
  • chopped red pepper to garnish


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the green beans for approximately 2 minutes. You may want to blanch these for less time if your beans are fresh. Strain the blanched beans in a strainer and rinse well with very cold water to stop the beans from cooking any further. 

In a separate bowl combine the honey, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, garlic, ginger and peanut butter. Mix the ingredients thoroughly. Add the beans to the dressing and toss well. Top with the chopped red pepper and either serve immediately or refrigerate and serve chilled. 

Pesto Pea Salad

I know this blog is drowning in salad recipes, but I'm hoping they are as useful to others as they are to me. I enjoy creamy potato and pasta salads, but am well aware that they are loaded with mayo, other hidden fats and sugars. This version of a pasta salad supplements some of that mayo with yoghurt, which not only offers more in the way of food value, but reduces the fat content too. Go for 2% greek yoghurt and you'll cut out even more fat (although, I did not do that here!). While pesto is loaded with olive oil, again it is a better alternative to mayo as far as nutritive value. I did the unthinkable and fattened up this bad boy with parmesan and prosciutto. I am ok with this decision. I was a delicious one.

Adapted from:

Serves 6 

  • 350 g of dried pasta
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • 1/2 cup greek yoghurt
  • 2 T mayonnaise
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas (thawed)
  • 2 big handfuls of spinach
  • 1/4 radishes sliced
  • grated parmesan to garnish
  • pepper to taste


Prepare the dressing by combining the yoghurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pesto and mixing well.  Cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside. Blanch the spinach in boiling water for approximately one minute. Mix the pasta with half of the salad dressing, adding more to taste as per your preference.  Finally, add the vegetables and toss well. I topped my salad servings with fresh pepper, parmesan and some leftover prosciutto.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Lentils with Roasted Cashews & Goat Cheese

Roasted cashews with lentils and goat cheese

Serves 2

  • 3/4 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup French lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • soft goat cheese, to serve
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 t walnut oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


Preheat your oven to 400F. Place them on a roasting tray and roast for about 10-15 minutes. Set the cashews aside.

Rinse the lentils and place in a small saucepan with the water. Bring to boil, then let simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain off the excess water then place back in the saucepan.

Mix together the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Pour the mixture into the saucepan with the lentils and mix through. Add the cashews and the parsley and spoon into a bowl. Top with soft goat cheese before serving.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chana Masala Fever

This isn't my first attempt at a masala dish, but it's perhaps the closest I've come to anything I've eaten out. I bought roti to eat this with and chowed down on pieces of the roti with yoghurt-dolloped spoonfuls of the chana masala. As great as it tasted, I've been eating a lot of Indian food lately and am still trying to figure out what needs to be in this dish to make it taste more authentic. I used fresh foods as much as I could, choosing whole spices as opposed to ground and fresh tomatoes I stewed myself. I am this close (picture my thumb and index finger almost touching!) to getting this dish to a level of authenticity I am satisfied with. In an attempt to solve the mystery, I'm throwing a sample size of this in my lunch for tomorrow and bringing it to my colleague Tanmay to try over lunch. He's going to take some home to his mother (he doesn't know this yet). I need advice. With all this criticism, you'd think the dish was pitiful. It wasn't, but I know what I like and this has a little ways to go. 

Chana Masala

Serves 6 

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 t fresh grated ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 t red chili paste
  • 1 T coriander seeds
  • 1 t cumin seeds
  • 3 T cooked chick peas
  • 2 T water


The Base

  •    1 T olive oil   
  •    2 cups cooked chick peas
  •    1 onion, finely chopped
  •    8 T tomato puree
  •    1 T Garam Masala
  •    1 t cumin seeds
  •    4 whole cloves
  •    handfuls of cilantro to garnish
  •    1-2 cups of water (depending on how thick you lick   the consistency of the sauce) 


To make the paste add all the ingredients in a blender and puree. Set aside.

For the base, heat the oil in a frying pan and add the cumin seeds and cloves to the oil, stirring until the fragrance hits you.  Add the onion, mixing well until the onion is transparent. Combine the puree and paste, stirring well for about 10 minutes. Add the chick peas and the water and let simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with cilantro leaves and yoghurt on rice or with naan/roti, etc.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Char Kuey Tiao

Malaysian goop....goooood goop.

That's what I said: Char Kuey Tiao. This dish is otherwise known as Penang fried noodles and while my version looks like a little turd-like, it tastes like a symphony of seafood and spices.

I've had Char Kuey Tiao while in Malaysia (and out of it) and was craving that noodley, seafood stirfry once more. I doubled up on the seafood, but I don't think it caused any harm to the dish. My challenge next time is to get the noodles fried in such a way that they don't combine into a noodle goop. This did...I overcooked the noodles, making them starchier than anticipated and very sticky. I also veered off the authentic path a little and added veg to the dish (carrots, to be precise). Peas would be lovely in this too. I know it becomes a little less authentic, but I'm looking at noodle goop here as I make my decision. Authentic disappeared ages ago.

Adapted from:

Serves 6

  • 250 g flat rice noodles, cooked according to package instructions
  • 16 shelled, raw prawns
  • large handful of clams
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sprouts (your choice)
  • 1 carrot, finely shredded
  • 5-6 chive stalks
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 T cooking oil
  • 2 T chili paste
  • 2 t sugar

  • 1 t fish sauce
  • 1 t soy sauce
  • 1 t oyster sauce


In a pan on high heat, add garlic and oil and let cook for a few seconds. Mix in the chili paste and sugar and let cook for another few seconds. Add prawns and clams, stirring well and let cook for about thirty seconds. If either of your seafood choices are already cooked, add them to the pan a little later, when you add the eggs. Add the cooked noodles and seasoning, tossing well. Stir in the eggs and let sit for a few seconds. Add the sprouts, carrot and finally the chives, mixing with the rest of the components.  

Spoon onto individual plates and serve. Goop is good!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Avocado Soup - Chilled soup of the year!

I have been searching for this soup ever since my parents advised me of their latest trip north to visit us. Truthfully, I've been looking for this soup much longer than that. My mother has a repertoire of chilled soups she's served at dinner parties over the years that have wowed guests. I have yet to find anything that compares to them and while I continue to make her (and my) favorites, I don't want to serve them to the original chef. This launched me ages ago to find other soups that would complete a summer dinner menu. My mint, spinach soup from a few weeks ago was an attempt to find the one, but this...well this, takes the cake. It has a universal appeal that many chilled soups don't and once the habanero is removed, I think they'll flip for it. Yes, some like it hot, while others do not.

The velvety texture of the soup base combined with a three dimensional topping has texture, punch and a savoury kick makes this my new party soup. I did not expect to enjoy this soup as much as I did. I'll be serving it this Saturday with a crusty loaf of bread, some chilled butter and a crispy salad among other treats. This is soup spirituality for you!

Avocado Soup

Adapted from:

Serves 4

  • 2 Haas avocados
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T sour cream or yoghurt
  • 1 1/4 cup water

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 4 pieces of cooked bacon
  • 2 ears of fresh corn
  • 1 habanero, diced
  • handful of fresh parsley
  • salt & pepper to taste


To make the soup, place the avocado, broth, lime juice, salt and sour cream in a blender. Blend until smooth. Remove the center of the blender and slowly add the water while blender is in motion. Taste and season with salt and pepper as required. Set aside while you prepare the topping.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and saute until translucent, about five minutes. Add corn and pepper and saute for another three minutes. Add sliced bacon and parsley. Cook until well heated. Season with salt and pepper.