Castilian Garlic Soup

garlic-soup

Castilian Garlic Soup

I love this soup, because I am in love with both peasant food and offensive flavors.

There are couple ways you can go with this soup. Straight up traditional peasant recipes are just some garlic cloves cooked in olive oil, with water, tons of paprika, and stale bread. This lovely sounding recipe from New Mediterranean uses lots more garlic, and fancies it up a little with sherry and saffron, and floated garlic toasts. I like the technique of mashing the garlic cloves into the broth. Either way, this is most often made with eggs, either stirred in egg-drop soup style or poached on top.

I went with the more peasanty one (although I want to try the fancy version). It’s vegetarian, and forgoes delicate saffron in favor of an obscene amount of paprika for the uncultured tongue, which rises up in clouds and makes the soup a lovely dark red. Also, as it’s eggless, it needed a little something to be heavy enough for a light meal, so I added some chickpeas. We peasants do what we want.

Castilian Garlic Soup

3 tbsp olive oil
2 heads garlic, peeled, huge cloves chopped in half
1 tbsp paprika
splash of sherry
6 cups vegetable broth
1 can (or two cups cooked) chickpeas

To serve:
croutons: 1-2 pieces bread, cubed, tossed with a little olive oil, and sea salt, and toasted
nice spritz lemon juice – don’t skip!
chopped parsley

Heat olive oil and garlic on medium/medium lowish heat. Cook very gently, stirring, until they are soft, about 10-15 minutes, being very careful not to brown.

Add paprika and stir for a minute, then add sherry, broth, and chickpeas. Bring to a simmer for several minutes. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Spoon into a bowl, spritz with lemon juice, and sprinkle parsley and a few croutons.

I cooked rice in leftovers, which turned out delicious. Peasant food or not, there’s something decadent about eating whole cloves of (cooked) garlic.

Prelude to Valentine’s Day with Red Food: Harissa; and Quinoa Salad with Fennel and Pomegranate

quinoa-fennel-pomegranate-salad

This Saturday, the weekend before the much loved/dreaded Valentine’s Day, my sister had a potluck with her work friends. As she is aware of my enthusiasm for potlucks, she invited Zoeya and me. The theme was Red Food. (Sidenote: this was not my first Red Food potluck). She made a delicious baked spaghetti and one of her friends brought an amazing red velvet, white chocolate and raspberry trifle – no beef, we asked. My contribution was a harissa-esque dip served over hummus, and a quinoa salad.


I tried to shape the harissa into a heart!

Here’s something spicy you can make for your lovah: harissa. I use the term “harissa” loosely – this was more of a dip than a sauce or paste, and I made it not-too-spicy lest there be wimpy tongues at the party, but honestly the heat could have been to be turned up a notch (next time!). The other silly thing I did was that after I blitzed it the first time I decided that in color it wasn’t red enough for a red food party so I added some tandoori masala thinking that spices were spices. Mistake! Although it still tasted good, it starting smelling distinctly Indian instead of a North African…so next time, paprika.

This is very versatile! Use as a dip, condiment on salads or sandwiches, or as a wet rub or part of a marinade. I served it over hummus.

Red Pepper and Sun-dried Tomato Harissa

3 red peppers
heaping tsp each cumin and coriander seeds
seeds from 2 cardamom pods
5 cloves
1 jar sun-dried tomatoes (minus the several I ate)
heaping tsp paprika
salt & pepper
1/2 – 2 tbsp red pepper flakes, depending on how hot you want it (maybe a little less for a dip and more for a condiment or wet rub)
1 tbsp olive oil

Heat oven to 450° Roast the red peppers by placing them directly on the oven rack and roast until blacked, turning once. Remove to a glass bowl and cover to sweat them (so it will be easier to take the skins off). Once cool, remove stems, seeds, and skins.

In the meantime, in a dry skillet toast cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom seeds and cloves. Grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process to a thick paste. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

I also made:

I had my Persephone Salad in mind, but was in the mood to make something with quinoa. I found this recipe for Quinoa, Fennel, and Pomegranate Salad online, which looked delicious, but I still wanted to make pomegranate vinaigrette so I combined the two!

Quinoa Salad with Fennel and Pomegranate

For the quinoa
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed (red if possible! I couldn’t find it so used tricolored)
olive oil
2 bulbs fennel, sliced (reserve fronds)
4 cloves garlic
tsp cumin seeds
tsp chili powder
handful fennel fronds (removed from stalk), chopped
handful cilantro, chopped
handful mint, chopped
1 head red leaf lettuce, chopped

Bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add quinoa, reduce to a simmer, and cook covered until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Drain.

In the meantime, heat olive oil to medium high and saute fennel and garlic with salt & pepper until fennel is very tender. Add cumin seeds and chili powder and saute for another minute.

Toss warm quinoa with fennel, herbs, and lettuce (I just love tossing warm things with lettuce because it makes it super green and wilts it just slightly).

For the vinaigrette
3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp honey
salt & pepper
6 tbsp olive oil

Whisk all together.

Toss quinoa and vinaigrette together, and top the whole thing with 1/4 cup or so pomegranate seeds

Someone enjoyed dinner (although she was more a fan of the spaghetti than the salad).


Zoeya’s favorite thing to say to me nowadays is “I am waiting patiently, but you are taking TOO LONG!”

Harira (Moroccan Chickpea Soup)

harira

Our friend Stephen has mentioned a couple of times this yummy Moroccan soup he makes – chickpeas, tomatoes, and spices. It sounded delicious, and this lazy Sunday Zoeya and I were just hanging around the house so it seemed a great time to try it (I feel much less lazy if I have something simmering on the stove while I’m doing nothing else important).

Harira is traditionally eaten to open fast during Ramadan, but there’s no need to wait until then. This is complete comfort food, with the added bonus of perfuming the whole house with cinnamon – heavenly!

Harira

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
salt & pepper
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp saffron, crumbled
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
heaping cup dried chickpeas – preferably soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp lentils (I used chana dal)
6 cups water or vegetable broth or combo
handful broken vermicelli (or spaghetti in a pinch!)
handful cilantro, chopped
handful parsley, chopped
juice of half a lemon
one bunch spinach, roughly chopped

Heat olive oil (medium highish), and add onions, garlic, and ginger, and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Add all spices, and cook, stirring. Add tomatoes and cook until they start to break down. Add chickpeas, lentils, and broth/water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer; simmer until chickpeas are soft, an hour and a half to two hours (during which time your house will smell wonderful).

Add vermicelli (or spaghetti, lame), parsley, and cilantro, and simmer several minutes, until noodles are cooked. At the end, spritz the pot with lemon juice and adjust seasoning (you’ll probably need more salt) and add spinach and cook until wilted.

Serve hot!

By the way, this is my 100th post! Here’s a witchy gypsy song to mark it – play it while you’re cooking this, will definitely set a spicy mood.

Tan Cani by Aloehverah on Grooveshark

#weekendEgg: Pumpkin and Sage Scrambled Egg with Warm Kale Salad

pumpkin-egg

Is it nerdy to put a hashtag in the title? It’s functional anyway, it’s what I’m using to tweet out my crazy eggs…which is just the one so far, heh.

This egg combo from last weekend was amazing! Seriously, I was shocked how good it was. Something about the pumpkin and egg together did that magical kitchen alchemy thing where the product is greater than the sum of it’s parts. The chipotle and sour cream egg with picked onions was the best of 2011; it’s early but I declare this the best of 2012.

Pumpkin and Sage Scrambled Egg with Warm Kale Salad

For kale salad
olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
handful of kale, torn off stems and roughly chopped
salt & pepper
walnut oil
fresh lemon juice

Heat just a teensy bit of olive oil, and saute garlic, stirring so that it doesn’t burn. After a minute, add kale, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until just wilted. Remove to a plate and drizzle with walnut oil and spritz with lemon juice.

For egg
olive oil
one egg
1/3 cup mashed pumpkin
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp paprika
salt & pepper

Heat a little bit olive oil. Combine the rest of the ingredients and cook, stirring, until egg is cooked. Place on top of greens.

Sprinkle the whole thing with toasted pumpkin seeds or walnuts (I used pumpkin seeds).

Disclaimer: the measurements I bothered to put are a guess, do you think I’m using measuring spoons on a Saturday morning? No!

Frenchy Lentils and Roasty Beets

frenchy-lentils

Cute little French lentils have an earthy flavor – perfect for fall! – and take nicely to flavors both sharp (dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar) and sweet (carrots, molasses). They go really nicely with roasted beets, which I just love, mostly because they turn everything they touch an obscene magenta. I learned an ingenious method to cook them, which is just to trim the stalks and roast them whole with a little olive oil. After they cool, the skins will slip right off, and you can avoid staining your fingertips and cutting board.

Frenchy Lentils and Roasty Beets

For lentils:
olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
salt & pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp molasses
2 carrots, diced
1 1/2 c French lentils
water
dash balsamic vinegar

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Cook onion, garlic, salt and pepper, stirring, until the onion is translucent. Add paprika, stirring for a minute, then tomato paste. Add dijon, molasses, carrots, lentils, and about 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary, until lentils are softened. Adjust seasoning (you’ll probably need more salt), and finish with a dash of balsamic vinegar (and maybe another little drizzle of olive oil).

For beets:
1 bunch beets, trimmed
olive oil

Heat oven to 450°. Arrange beets in a pan lined with foil and drizzle with olive oil. Roast until a fork easily goes through the beet. Allow to cool, remove skins, and slice.

Pumpkin Quesadillas

pumpkin-quesadillas

The veil is thin, the pumpkins are spicy, and Witchy Kitchen is two years old!

I have been crazy about Halloween ever since I was a little girl, so much so my parents painted my room orange. I’ve always loved this spooky time of year, the stories, the ghosties, the ghoulies, but this year I am seeing it with new eyes.


Witchy Zoeya and her familiar, Quentin.

I took my little witchy Zoeya trick-or-treating for the first time tonight. She was stinky cute. At the first house she knocked on the door, and when they opened it she walked right in. After a couple of houses she got the hang of it. “I have a candy collection!” she exclaimed (at school they’ve been “collecting” leaves and acorns). “Let’s go to that house and collect some more candy!” We trick-or-treated all the way to the crazy creepy neighborhood haunted house that had every exposed inch of yard covered in gore, and then scurried home in the cold with our goodies. Zoeya savored a pack of grape Nerds one by one for 15 long minutes.


Ooh, I think I caught a couple of ghosts in this pic!

Two years ago today I started blogging, and I made Pumpkin Quesadillas. I made them again today, but with my own recipe. I must say they were pretty bewitching.

Pumpkin Quesadillas

1 1/2 cup colby jack, grated
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 clove garlic, grated
heaping tsp garam masala
heaping tsp paprika
pinch salt
10 small corn tortillas

Combine cheese, pumpkin, garlic, garam masala, paprika, and salt. Heat a skillet and warm a tortilla. Spread with cheese mixture and top with another tortilla. Cook a few minutes, flipping once, until the cheese is melty and the tortilla is crunchy.

Served with my Go-To Chili.

Halloween – or Samhain, rather – is the witches’ New Year, and it’s also a new year for Witchy Kitchen. I have lots of ideas for this year: cooking from (fiction) books and movies, our family’s continual green transformations, more kitchen to bath recipes, making all kinds of things from scratch, goofing around in the kitchen with Zoeya, and of course lots more delicious recipes.


Sometimes a witch, sometimes a princess.

Harvest Wraps

harvest-wrap

Years ago when I was in school at College of Charleston, we had students from Johnson and Wales interning at our cafeteria at a salad and wrap station. There was one wrap in particular I remember that was turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. I don’t remember if it was called the Thanksgiving wrap, but I’m pretty sure I was channeling it when I threw this together.

This cheesily named dinner came about from my needing to use up a bunch of produce that had been hanging out in the fridge, but I must say it came out nicer than I had imagined – the squash, beets and spinach were bright and colorful and cheery and the beef flavored with rosemary made it very satisfying. Zoeya will snarf up anything wrapped in a tortilla and Shan will tolerate plentiful veggies if they come with a side of beef, so I would call this a success.

Harvest Wrap

For roasted veggies:
one bunch (3-4) beets, peeled and cubed
one butternut squash, peeled, seeds cleaned and cubed
olive oil, salt & pepper

Toss veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 400° until tender. Roast separately – the squash will roast a lot faster than the beets.

For the beef:
one onion, diced
olive oil, salt & pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 lb ground beef
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 roma tomatoes, diced
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped

Saute onion in olive oil with salt and pepper. Add garlic, paprika and cumin and cook, stirring. Add ground beef and brown. Add tomato paste, tomatoes, and rosemary and simmer.

For the rice:
2 ears white corn, cut off the cob
2 cups jasmine rice, rinsed
4 cups water
olive oil, salt & pepper

Add everything to the pot, stir, and bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat to medium low, cooking until rice is done, 15-20 minutes.

For wraps:
Assemble everything in warm tortillas lined with spinach leaves, roll, cut in half, and enjoy!

Note: I know I went on about not cubing raw squash when you can just roast it in the skin, but what happens when you need cubes, like for butternut squash and shrimp curry (recipe coming soon!)? Somewhat hypocritically, I just learned a great trick for peeling butternut squash that makes it pretty painless. Just boil the whole squash in a big pot of water for five minutes, cool, and the skin will be soft enough to peel with a regular vegetable peeler.

This made a great lunch the next day, sans tortilla.

Coconutty Chana Dal

chana-dal

I’ve always made lentils fairly frequently, but lately it seems we are never without a pot in the fridge. This is partly out of laziness, because I can make them with my eyes closed with pantry ingredients that don’t require the foresight of a trip to the store, and they make for days of lunches and side dishes. Usually I whip up the split red lentils that cook in a snap – as in my Weeknight Lentils – but since it was the weekend I decided to get a little crazy and make chana dal.

A weekend warning, apart from the longer cooking time: “lentils” may sound like rabbit food, but with creamy coconut milk and a pat of butter, these are pretty decadent.

Chana dal take longer to cook and than red lentils and they hold their shape instead of dissolving into a starchy mush. They have a very nice nutty flavor. I like just a little sweetness in my lentils (I usually put a drop of honey in my French black lentils) which I got here from carrots. It’s just enough sweetness for me without Shan accusing me of adding sugar. Also, I’ve been getting into cooking with coconut oil lately. I already love the nutty note it gives a dish, and though it’s a saturated fat, I’ve been reading more about its health benefits. So multipurpose, I like to oil my hair with it too.

Dinner was a collaborative effort; we had friends over and enjoyed this with basmati rice, a lovely cucumber raita made by our friend, and my husband’s famous Lahori tilapia.

Coconutty Chana Dal

2 tbsp coconut oil

whole spices:
2 cloves
2 cardamom pods (cracked)
1 cinnamon stick

1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 inch ginger, grated

ground spices:
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp cayenne
black pepper

2 tbsp tomato paste
zest of 1 lemon
2 carrots, finely chopped in food processor
1 1/2 c chana dal
several cups water
1/2 c coconut milk
1 tbsp butter
salt

Heat oil in a good-sized, heavy-bottomed pot, and add whole spices. When they smell fragrant, add the onion, stirring until it begins to turn translucent, then add garlic, ginger, and whole spices. Cook, stirring, a few minutes, then add tomato paste, lemon, carrots, dal, and water to cover by an inch or so. Reduce heat to a high simmer, and cover. Cook, stirring fairly frequently so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. The dal will begin to absorb the water so add more as necessary. The final consistency should be wet but not watery.

I’m not in the habit of timing things, I just cook them until they’re done. I will say the cooking time is a little lengthy, enough to do the dishes, make the rice, give Zoeya a bath and put her to bed (Shan babysat the pot while I was upstairs so it didn’t burn). Cook until the dal is soft. Stir in coconut milk, butter, and salt to taste.

Pretty when garnished with cilantro, but mine wilted in the thousand degree heat.

Greek Pizza with Lamb Meatballs

thumb_greek-pizza

Pizza is a surefire hit at our house. Zoeya is absolutely gleeful when I tell her we’re having pizza for dinner and Shan, although more subdued, usually ends up eating more than his fair share. I love to make pizza at home because it feels like a treat but it’s actually pretty healthy.

This particular pizza made me nervous until the end. I made a whole wheat dough when I usually make white, so I was anxious to see how that would come out. The components themselves weren’t perfect: the meatballs a little in need of salt, the sauce WAY too salty (must remember that happens when you reduce reduce reduce), the salad on top a little too lemony, but when put together a little miracle happened and the flavors melded just right.

Small disclaimer: As much as I love to spend a good chunk of my weekends in the kitchen, making pizza dough from scratch, pizza sauce from scratch, meatballs from scratch, none of them particularly difficult in themselves, was altogether more time-consuming than I would have liked. Luckily, all three of these things are easy to make double and freeze. If I ever get better at planning ahead, that’s going to be my strategy.

To save a little time, instead of making meatballs, you could just saute the ground lamb with the garlic, herbs and spices and top your pizza with the mixture, but I made meatballs so I could have some leftover. We ate them the next night as wraps with yogurt and cucumber. They’d also be great just by themselves with a side of lentils.

So with no further ado:

Greek Pizza with Lamb Meatballs

For the dough:
I used the pizza dough recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance which I wrote about here, substituting a cup of whole wheat flour for a cup of the white flour. I can report that this turned out wholesome and yummy and is my new recipe.

For the pizza sauce:
olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
seasoning (you can adjust accordingly for the type of pizza) – 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp dried oregano
4 good-sized tomatoes (and can I just say that ugly farmer’s market tomatoes brilliantly outshine the perfect-looking yet tasteless grocery store tomatoes), peeled and chopped
salt

Heat olive oil and add garlic, garam masala, paprika, and oregano. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes, then add tomatoes, salt (be conservative! This is going to reduce down quite a bit) and a cup of water. Simmer, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t burn, until tomatoes are completely broken down and sauce is nice and thick. If the sauce thickens before your tomatoes break down, add more water and repeat. Makes enough for a thin layer on 2 pizzas.

For the meatballs:
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
salt & pepper
zest of 1 lemon
small handful mint, finely chopped
small handful basil, finely chopped
scant 1/2 c bread crumbs
1 egg
1 lb ground lamb
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir well everything through the egg in a glass bowl, then add lamb and mix until everything is just combined. Heat olive oil in Dutch oven or oven-safe pot. Roll medium sized meatballs (about 1 1/2 tbsp) and place in pot. Brown on one side, then turn with spoons to brown on the other. Cover and finish cooking through in oven.

For the pizza
Pizza dough, pizza sauce and meatballs from above (you’ll have leftover meatballs)
Red onion, thinly sliced
Feta, crumbled
Spring lettuce dressed in olive oil and lemon juice

Heat oven to 500 degrees (hot!). Divide dough in half and roll out, toss, etc., then place onto 2 round stones or baking sheets greased with olive oil (or do one by one). Cover with a layer of pizza sauce and sprinkle with quartered meatballs, red onion, and feta (just a good sprinkle, you’re not trying to cover the whole thing like you would with motz). Bake for 12-16 minutes. Remove from oven and top with dressed greens, which will wilt prettily from the heat.

Slice and serve. Opa!

Note: garam masala is obviously not Greek, but I throw it in because it’s always in my kitchen and contains a lot of the same spices used in Greek cooking. You don’t need to run out and buy it if you don’t have it, just use cinnamon, cumin and black pepper, or whatever combination you like.

Spiced Thyme Chicken and Green Beans with Coconut Rice

thumb_thyme-chicken

Yesterday evening I was puttering around in the kitchen, wondering what to make for dinner, and came up with this little weeknight one-pot meal. Well, two pots if you count the coconut rice, but I had that leftover from the weekend barbecue. I’m a little smug about my invented method of steaming green beans on a bed of Jamaican-inspired chicken. Also a bit smug about using homegrown thyme from my windowsill.

These spices are nice, but if you are not cooking for little ones, I encourage you to turn up the heat.

Spiced Thyme Chicken and Green Beans with Coconut Rice

For chicken and green beans:
1 lb chicken legs and thighs, skinned
olive oil
4 allspice berries
4 cloves
salt & pepper
paprika
ground thyme
cayenne (optional – I skipped it)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 shallots, sliced
1 1/2 c chicken broth
1 lb green beans, trimmed
1 tbsp butter
a few sprigs fresh thyme

Heat olive oil with allspice berries and cloves. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and a generous dusting of paprika, thyme, and cayenne. Brown chicken on both sides and remove to a plate. Saute garlic and shallots for a couple of minutes and add chicken broth, plus a cup of water. Scrape brown bits off the bottom of the pan, add back the chicken pieces. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through. Add a splash more water if necessary and toss green beans on top of chicken. Cover and steam until green beans are cooked al dente.

Arrange green beans and chicken on top of rice. Stir up and reduce pan liquid to a quarter cup or less. Stir in pat of butter, and pour over chicken and green beans. Garnish with fresh thyme.

For coconut rice:
1 c basmati rice
1 c coconut milk
1 c water
1 cinnamon stick
salt

Soak and rinse rice. Combine rice, coconut milk, water, cinnamon stick and salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a low simmer until rice is cooked, about 15 to 20 min.

Note: I serve this rice with everything. It’s easy and it goes with all kinds of food.

I chose this as my best recipe in July!