Almost Banh Mi

almost-banh-mi

I guess you could call this a banh mi – especially since I got adventurous and made homemade Vietnamese baguettes and carrot quickie pickle! Instead of mayo though I used fruity mango and ginger chutney, and topped the whole thing with a handful of crunchy chopped peanuts.


Yes I forgot to rotate my baguettes – how can you tell?

For the baguettes, I used this recipe from My Food Affair, and I thought they came out pretty good (though I probably could have rolled them a little thinner). I am a collector of various flours and beans so it was nice to actually use one of them – rice flour! – vs just hoarding.

For the pickled carrots, I used the much laughed about carrot massage technique (see banh mi episode of Spilled Milk). I didn’t pickle the cucumber, I kept it fresh.

Almost Banh Mi

Vietnamese baguettes, homemade or storebought, sliced in half and then lengthwise

For pickled carrots
4 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp sea salt
4 carrots, sliced in half and then in thin strips
1 shallot, thinly sliced

Combine rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Toss carrots and shallots in the mixture, and massage for several minutes. Cover and let marinate at room temperature a couple of hours.

For the spread
2 tbsp mango ginger chutney (or similar)
2 tbsp olive oil

Mix well.

For the sandwich
Sliced cucumbers
Chopped peanuts
Baby spinach

Spread bread, assemble with goodies, and enjoy.

Of course I couldn’t have made such a tasty sandwich without the help of my adorable kitchen imp – she is very good at measuring, stirring, and keeping up kitchen morale.

I chose this as my best recipe in April :)

Spaghetti with Spinach and Walnut Sauce

spaghetti-walnut-spinach

So Zoeya, like a three year old does, has rebelled against the lentils she used to love. It's really messing up my Monday night dinners. Of course I still give them to her, but tonight I wanted to make something I didn't have to coax her to eat. Also something that I would love, something pretty decadent for a Monday...almost as decadent as eating most of a box of Girl Scout cookies (what?).

This is simple but delicious.

Spaghetti with Spinach and Walnut Sauce

1/2 lb spaghetti, preferably whole wheat although I had semolina from somewhere.
Cook to al dente in water salty like the sea

olive oil
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
salt & pepper
3/4 cup walnuts
juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 c warm water
1 bunch spinach, chopped

Heat olive oil in a large pan. Saute onion and garlic until very soft. Meanwhile, in a food processor, blitz walnuts and lemon juice. Add onion and garlic (don’t wash the pan it was in), with tahini, olive oil, and water, and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. and puree to a sauce (if very thick, add a little more water, and adjust seasoning if necessary). Toss spinach in the pan with a sprinkle of salt, and as it starts to wilt add the walnut mixture to heat back through.

Add pasta to pan and toss to coat. Serve.

Zoeya loved it (after she ascertained it wasn’t made with red sauce which she also arbitrarily decided she dislikes), but since there is a kid in her class with a nut allergy I get the yummy lunch leftovers all to my self.

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

Persephone Salad

persephone-salad

Whenever my husband and his friends are putting dinner together, they always put me in charge of salad. I guess salad is a girly thing to make so I get it by default, but maybe it’s also because I can be artful in diving into the depths of the produce drawer and pantry and emerging with interesting salad ingredients and the means for a homemade vinaigrette.

As green salads are just as much about texture as they are about flavor, here is the formula: something fresh (possibly fruity!), something creamy, something crunchy. And this salad fits perfectly.

This particular salad concept is based on the Arugula, Pear and Goat Cheese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette (from where else, Food52, pretty much my favorite food resource on the web). I made it a couple years ago for Thanksgiving, and I’ve made variations on it ever since – including for Thanksgiving this year, and now for Zoeya’s holiday potluck.

The ingredients are very autumnal, but the pomegranate seeds like little ruby jewels look gorgeously Christmassy as well. This is not so much a recipe as a concept with lots of options (and I’m not going to be fussy with amounts). The only absolutely essential ingredient are the pomegranate seeds, which is what makes this so lovely and appropriate for the dark months.

Persephone Salad

For the salad:
greens, such as arugula, mesclun, spinach
a green apple or pear
seeds from half a pomegranate
blue cheese or goat cheese
walnuts, almonds, pecans, or pumpkin seeds (I used pumpkin seeds in this latest rendition, it’s a great options if you’re serving to people with nut allergies)

For the vinaigrette:
pomegranate molasses (instructions below) – this is your best option, but if you don’t have it you can use honey or jam or jelly. Maybe like that yummy lingonberry stuff they have at IKEA.
sherry or balsamic vinegar
olive oil or walnut oil
salt & pepper
a thinly sliced shallot, pickled in the vinegar, is nice

To make pomegranate molasses, take a small bottle of pomegranate juice and heat it slowly in a saucepan, stirring, until it is thick enough to coat a spoon. Be careful not to burn.

To assemble everything, just toss the greens and the apple or pear with some of the vinaigrette (enough to lightly coat, not to drench). Sprinkle all the rest of the ingredients on top, along with another drizzle of vinaigrette.