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Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Cashews, Garlic, and Hot Peppers

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So I have to start this post with what seems to be my mantra when it comes to recipes…This is so easy to make and it’s super delicious and nutritious, too.

But it is.

I really urge you to try this. It can be served as a side dish or if you want to go meatless it would be great as a main course over brown rice. And if you want to make it a carnivores meal add chicken or shrimp.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Cashews, Garlic, and Hot Peppers

Serves 2-4


4 tablespoons olive oil

12-16 Brussels sprouts, stems removed and sliced

½ cup cashews

¼ teaspoon crushed hot pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth or water if you want to keep it vegetarian)

1 tablespoon lemon juice


Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, then add the Brussels sprouts. Cook the Brussels sprouts for a few minutes until they begin to brown at their edges. Then add the cashews, hot pepper, garlic, and salt. Cook and stir the Brussels sprouts for a couple more minutes, or until they and the garlic are browned. Add the chicken broth, and then the lemon juice. Simmer the broth for a few minutes, or until it is nearly evaporated and the sprouts are cooked and glazed.

Urban Simplicity.

Curried Split Pea Soup!

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Ok, so here’s another recipe that is super easy, really delicious, nutritious, and also satisfying in a cold day. Yellow Split pea soup with curry. The basic recipe is below but you can also add or subtract to it as you like (it’s equally good without curry, for example, but I happen to like the spice). Tonight, in addition to the ingredients listed in the recipe I also added a diced green pepper, a diced tomato, and a bit of tandoori spice. The is also good if mad with red or green lentils rather than split peas. If the recipe is too large cut it in half; this soup freezes well also.

Yellow Split Pea Soup with Curry and Caramelized Onions

Makes about 3 quarts

Heat 3 tablespoons canola oil or clarified butter in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add a diced onion and cook it—stirring frequently—for about five minutes, or until it start to brown, then stir in 3 cloves of minced garlic and cook for another minute or so. Lower the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons (or more) of your favorite curry powder, and add any of your other favorite spices as well (such as extra cumin, turmeric, coriander, or chilies; all of which should be in the curry powder already). Stir the spices for a minute or so in the hot fat to bring out their flavors, then stir in 3 cups of yellow split peas and about 10 cups of chicken broth (if you want to keep this vegetarian use vegetable broth). Season the soup with a teaspoon of kosher salt (being careful if you are using canned broth which is already salted) and bring the soup to a rolling boil. Allow the soup to boil for a minute then turn it down to a simmer. Cook the soup for about an hour—stirring it frequently—and add more liquid if it becomes too thick. Just before removing it from the heat stir in about 1/4 cup of fresh lemon or lime juice and—if you have it on hand and enjoy it’s flavor—also stir in a handful of chopped cilantro.

Crispy Tandoori Tofu!

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I’ve posted a recipe for this tofu–or at least a variation of it–in the past but I made it for staff lunch today and thought I’d re-post it because it is so easy and delicious to make. Sometimes I eat it as a salad component but today I ate it on a sandwich with toum (my chickpea version of Lebanese garlic mayo), vegetables, and whole grain bread. Follow the links in this paragraph for the other components, and the tofu recipe is below.

Crispy Baked Tofu Marinated in Yogurt and Spices
1 (14 ounce) package extra firm tofu
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
Remove the tofu from its package and drain it. Place it between two plates to allow the weight of a plate (or two) to press out additional moisture. Drain the tofu again and slice it into ½ inch slices, then lay it on a baking sheet. To make the marinade, combine the yogurt, lemon, garlic curry, turmeric, hot pepper, cumin, and salt. Mix the marinade, then pour it over the tofu, gently turning it to coat all sides. Preheat an oven to 400F and allow the tofu to marinate at room temperature for 10-15 minutes. Transfer the tofu to a clean baking sheet that is fitted with a wire rack (if you have one, otherwise place it directly on the baking sheet but lightly oil it first). Sprinkle the sesame seeds across the tofu and bake it for about 30 minutes, or until firm and slightly crisp (rotate the pan every 5 minutes or so for even cooking). This is delicious on a sandwich, salad, or as a simple snack; it can be eaten hot, room temperature, or chilled. 

Polpette di ceci (senza carne)

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So I’ve mentioned before on this blog that while I am not a vegetarian I do not eat a great deal of meat, and there are plenty of days when I simply do not want any. Today was one of those days. These chickpea balls are definitely not a replacement for meatballs because they taste and feel nothing like a meatball that is made with meat. But, on the other hand, these are really delicious and very satisfying. They are also exceedingly easy to make. After searing they can be baked in an oven and served as an appetizer with any number of dipping sauces, or–as I did tonight–they can be poached in tomato sauce and served with pasta. Either way they are simple and delicious. The recipe is below.

Chickpea Meatless Balls
polpette di ceci (senza carne)
Makes about 2 dozen small balls
1 (15oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon basil
½ teaspoon crushed hot pepper
½ teaspoon whole fennel seed
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
1 cup breadcrumbs
olive oil for pan-frying
Combine all of the ingredients except the breadcrumbs and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and process until nearly smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and knead in the bread crumbs. Allow it to rest for a couple minutes, then knead it again for another minute. Shape the dough into small balls. Heat the a heavy skillet with a thin layer of oil and cook the chickpea balls until golden. Finish cooking the meatless balls on a tray in a preheated oven, or transfer them to a pot of tomato sauce and poach them for about 10 minutes.

Urban Simplicity.

It’s amazing what a little oil and garlic can do…

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Okay. So you’re likely wondering what’s with the picture. Right? It’s not much to look at, and what is it anyhow. Simple…spaghetti squash cooked with aglio e olio, or with garlic and oil (and a few other things. As simple as this photo looks the squash is bursting with flavor. It’s amazing what a little caramelized garlic, a few hot peppers, a pinch of salt, and some olive oil can do…it makes anything taste great. Well maybe not anything, but most things. Especially vegetables and pasta. To learn how to make this particular recipe (with photos and step-by-step instructions) click here. To learn how to cook nearly anything in this fashion, click here. Try any of these recipes, you won’t be sorry; they are as good as they are simple to make.

Urban Simplicity.

Toum! (an interpretation)

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So this is a variation of a variation of a variation…but geeze ‘o man is it good. What, you may wonder, am I talking about. Garlic mayonnaise and it’s many variation. The south of France (and Italy and Spain) have Aioli (the French word for garlic is ail), in the Middle East there is the potent Toum (which simply translates as garlic), and in Greece there is Skordalia (not sure of the etymology of this one). And then there’s my most recent version I’ll call beaonnaise [sic]. But I’m jumping ahead. I love to eat a sandwich at lunch, and I also love the flavor of garlic. And in my continued effort to eat healthier (minus the eggs and low grade oil in most mayonnaise) I made this and it is really easy (and super delicious). I just recently found out that beans–and especially chickpeas–contain lecithin, which of course is the same emulsifying agent that is in egg yolks. And we all know that beans in general are really good for you, and so is olive oil, so I replaced the egg yolk with chic peas. Delicious. You can cut down on or increase the amount of garlic as you like, and with the aid of a blender this will take about 2 minutes to make. And because there are no raw egg yolks this will last a while in the fridge…but it likely will not because it is so delicious.

Beaonnaise

Makes about 1½ cups


1 (15 ounce can) chick peas, drained and rinsed

2-4 cloves garlic

¼ cup lemon juice

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ cup virgin olive oil


Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a blender and puree. While the blender is running add the olive oil in a thin stream. Continue to blend for 30 seconds, or until the beaonnaise is light and fluffy.

The Anatomy of a Healthy but Really Delicious Pizza…

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Okay. So this pizza was delicious. I say “was” and not “is” because I ate more than half of it for dinner and I’ll likely eat the rest before the night is out. Anyhow, this post is more about the crust than what is on it (because you can really put whatever you like on a pizza). In an ongoing effort to make healthier bread and pizza dough I not only used 100% whole wheat flour (which I usually do) but I also added beans to the dough. This last step isn’t that unusual for me either as Ezekiel bread and its many variations are one of my favorite doughs. But what is a bit unusual is the amount of beans-to-flour ratio…the dough is made up of about 50% beans. I added just enough water to the beans to allow them to puree smoothly. Pictured below.

And then added enough flour to the bean puree (with a few other basic ingredients) to make a dough. Delicious. I’m not sure this would make a good bread, or should I say light bread, because of the high ration of beans, but it did make a fine pizza dough. On the pizza–as pictured below–I also added a thin coating of pesto (click for a recipe), a thin layer of tomato sauce (click for a recipe), a layer of broccoli aglio e olio (click for multiple recipes), and of course cheese (Ok, so the cheese is not the healthiest ingredient, but it is good and I cannot eat pasta or pizza without it). Anyhow, the recipe for the dough is listed after the photos.

Whole Wheat and Bean Pizza Dough


Makes enough dough for a 12-inch pizza


1 (15oz. can) beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup water

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1/3 cup bean puree

1 teaspoon instant yeast

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

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2/3 cup bean puree

1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

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3 tablespoons virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons instant yeast

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons whole wheat flour (if needed)


Combine the beans and water in a blender and puree until smooth. This should make about 1 cup of puree. Divide the puree into two bowls; 1/3 in one bowl and 2/3 in another. In the first bowl (the one with 1/3 puree) stir in 1 teaspoon yeast and 1/4 cup flour. It will be thick and sticky; almost dough-like. In the second bowl (the one with 2/3 puree) stir in 1 tablespoon wheat gluten and ½ cup flour. This will also be dough-like. Cover the bowls with plastic and allow them to rest and ferment for 1 hour. Then combine the contents of both bowls into the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Also add to the bowl the olive oil, two teaspoons of instant yeast, the honey, and the salt. Knead the dough on medium speed for about 10 minutes. If the dough is too wet or sticky add the additional 2 tablespoons of flour. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for an hour or two. Use with any pizza recipe.


New Orleans Red Beans-and Rice Burgers

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These are a variation of a few different vegetarian/bean burgers I’ve made and posted somewhat recently, and a play on the classic New Orleans red beans-and-rice recipe. While this recipe is equally delicious it is a bit more labor intensive than my other vegetarian burger recipes (but not really) in that you have to cook rice before you make the burgers. Now I know that if you are a native New Orleanian or have Creole/Cajun roots you will disagree with this recipe. But I mean no disrespect and it is–I believe–really delicious. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Crescent City on more than a few occasions and had fallen in love with it at first glance. The first time I was there in the mid 19-80’s I was traveling with a friend and pretty much survived on red-beans-and rice for a couple months (which was 99 cents at a local restaurant), and plenty of Dixie beer, too. Anyhow, I hope you try this recipe; it is easy to make and really delicious.

New Orleans Red Beans-and Brown Rice Burgers


Makes about 10 (4 ounce) burgers


4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon oregano leaves
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons black pepper
¾ cup brown rice
2 cups vegetable broth
1 (15 ounce) can red beans, rinsed and drained
2 eggs
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 bunch green onion, sliced thin
1 cup shredded cheddar (3-4 ounces)
½ cup hot pepper sauce
1 ½ cup bread crumbs (plus extra for dusting)
Olive oil for cooking


Heat the olive oil in a small pot over medium heat and add the onion and bell pepper. Cook the onion and pepper for about five minutes, or until they just begin to brown, then add the onion and cook another minute or two. Turn the flame to low and stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, turmeric, and black pepper; cook the spices for a minute to bring out their flavor. Stir in the rice, coating it with oil and spices, then stir in the broth. Bring the broth to a boil, cover the pan with a lid, and simmer the rice for 30-40 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked (if too much broth evaporates before the rice is cooked ad more as needed). Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the beans. Transfer to a shallow pan and refrigerate until cool. Divide the rice-and-bean mixture into two portions. Place the first half in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarse but not pureed, then transfer it to a clean bowl. Add the remaining half of rice-and-beans to the food processor along with the eggs, salt, green onion, cheddar, and hot pepper sauce; process until a smooth paste. Add this to the bowl with the coarser mixture along with the breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly. Divide the mix into ten balls and shape into burgers, transferring them to platters or a baking sheet that is lightly dusted with breadcrumbs. Heat a large heavy skillet with 1/8th inch olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the burgers for about 10 minutes, turning them as necessary, or until golden, crispy, and cooked throughout. Transfer to absorbent paper before serving.

Urban Simplicity.

Chop This! (The easiest and likely the most nutritious and delicious salad you’ll ever make.)

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Okay. So if you have a garden–or even if you don’t–now is the time to seize summer’s bounty. Whether you grow it yourself or purchase it at the store, the time is ripe for summer vegetables. And when the vegetables are as perfectly ripe as they are right now, eating them raw (or some lightly cooked) with the simplest preparation is the way to go. The below recipe is just a guide. Use whatever vegetables and herbs that your garden or local market has. But here’s how I made mine.
Raw Summer Salad
Dice a perfectly ripe tomato–or two if you’re eating with someone else–and as much cucumber as you think you’ll eat. Combine it in a bowl with a few slices of raw onion, a minced garlic clove, a sliced hot pepper, a handful of chopped parsley, and also basil. Sprinkle the salad with sea salt, then drizzle it with a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil and good quality wine vinegar. Gently toss together and taste summer.

Urban Simplicity.

The Spice is Right (two super flavorful and delicious recipes)…

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Spices really are amazing aren’t they? Not only are some used for food preservation and medicinal purposes (not to mention preventative medicine) they also make even the blandest foods taste really incredible; these recipes are two examples of this. And both of these recipes, while delicious hot from the oven or skillet, are equally delicious at room temperature or even cold from the fridge. The tofu, for example, when chilled makes a great meat alternative on sandwiches.

Tandoori-Style Tofu

Serves 4 

1 pound extra-firm tofu
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 slices ginger, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded
½ small onion, diced

3 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Black sesame seeds to garnish (optional) 

Remove the tofu from its package and drain it. Set the tofu on a plate with 2 or 3 plates on top of it, gently squeezing out some of it’s moisture. Leave the tofu to drain for 10-15 minutes. Combing all the remaining ingredients except the sesame seeds in a food processor or blender (yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, onion, curry, and salt), and process until smooth. Pour the marinade into a shallow pan. Slice the tofu about ½ inch thick (and crosswise if you would like smaller pieces). Lay the tofu slices in the marinade, turning them to coat all sides. Marinate the tofu for ,30-60 minutes. Preheat and oven to 350F. Transfer the tofu to a baking sheet that is fitted with a wire rack, leaving some of the marinade on the tofu. Sprinkle the tofu with black sesame seeds and bake it in the preheated oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until the tofu begins to brown at its edges. This is delicious straight from the oven, at room temperature, or chilled as a snack or sandwich ingredient.
 

Aloo Gobi

(Potatoes, Cauliflower, and Peas)

Serves 4 

¼ cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 slices ginger, minced
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon whole cumin seed
½ teaspoon crushed hot pepper
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
1 cup frozen peas
1 small bunch cilantro, washed and chopped 

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet and add the onion and potato. Cook these for a couple minutes, until they just begin to change color. Add the garlic and ginger and cook another minute. Stir in the black mustard seeds, salt, turmeric, cumin seed, and crushed hot pepper; cook for a minute to release it’s flavor and aroma, then stir in the cauliflower, coating it with oil and spices. Add the water, then cover the skillet and cook the potatoes and cauliflower for a couple minutes. Stir in the peas and lemon juice; cook for a minute or two. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cilantro.

Urban Simplicity.

Chicken-less Fingers…

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Okay. So these are really good. These are a play on chicken fingers which of course are a knock off of chicken wings. In my continued effort to eat less meat I made these today as an alternative to the chicken fingers I cooked for staff lunch at work. And rather than tossing them in butter and hot sauce and then dipping them in creamy blue cheese dressing (as traditional Buffalo style wings are) I included the hot sauce and Gorgonzola cheese in the actual mix. The finished product was, if I do say so myself, quite addicting. To read a story with recipes regarding the history and my personal history with chicken wings (originally n Buffalo Spree Magazine), click here. And btw, in Buffalo they are simply called wings.

Buffalo Style Chickpea Fritters

(a.k.a. Chicken-less Fingers)


Makes 24 small patties or fritters


2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 eggs

½ cup Frank’s hot pepper sauce

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon granulated onion

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon turmeric

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 small bunch Italian parsley, chopped

1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola (3-4 ounces)

1 cup bread crumbs (plus extra for coating)


Oil for cooking


Combine all of the ingredients except the cheese and breadcrumbs in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and add the cheese and breadcrumbs; mix until thoroughly combined. Divide the mix into about twenty four small balls, and shape them into patties or tubes. One-by-one, dip them in a bowl of water very briefly then coat them in breadcrumbs, shaking of any excess crumbs. Heat about ½ inch canola or olive oil in a skillet, and fry the fritters—in batches if necessary—on both sides until golden brown, crispy, and cooked throughout. Drain on absorbent paper. 

Ratatouille!

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Ratatouille is the perfect summer vegetable dish. The ingredients are at peak season, and are easily grown in a home victory garden…I in fact grew these. The main ingredients–zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and basil–need very little tending, they almost grow like weeds.


With its tongue-twisting title it may come off as a somewhat intimidating recipe, but on the contrary; it’s a simple and versatile country dish that is based on using seasonal vegetables. Its name is said to come from the archaic French word, touiller, meaning to stir or toss.


It’s a versatile recipe that can be served hot, at room temperature, or even chilled; it will taste better the second day after its flavors are allowed to “marry.” Ratatouille is excellent as a side dish, an entrée, or tossed with pasta. With the addition of a little wine or broth, it also makes a flavorful braising base for chicken or seafood (I ate it for dinner this evening tossed with penne pasta and plenty of Parmesan). It’s really simple to make, very flavorful and healthy, and it keep well also.
Ratatouille

Yield: about 4 cups

1/4 cup olive oil

1 small onion, peeled and diced

1 medium bell pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 small eggplant, diced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

8 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, bell peppers and garlic; sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the zucchini and eggplant; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for about 30 minutes, stirring as needed. If it becomes too dry add more broth. Stir in the basil a few minutes before serving.

Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers (yum!)

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Crispy and super flavorful. So yes, these are as delicious as they look. They are really easy to make, and can be frozen, too. Eat them on a sandwich, place them on a salad, or nibble them straight from the pan…you won’t be sorry if you make this recipe. For a southwestern black bean-cheddar version of these burgers, click here.

 

Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers (with sun-dried tomatoes, feta, and rosemary)

Makes 10 (4 ounce) burgers

2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 eggs
¼ cup hot pepper sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon sea salt
6-8 sun dried tomatoes, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 small bunch Italian parsley, chopped
½ small onion, minced
½ red bell pepper, minced
1 cup crumbled feta (3-4 ounces)
1 cup bread crumbs (plus extra for dusting)

Olive oil for cooking

Place half of the chickpeas in a food processor and pulse for just a few seconds, until coarse but slightly mashed; transfer these beans to a large bowl. Add the remaining beans to the food processor along with the eggs, hot pepper sauce, garlic, smoked paprika, turmeric, and sea salt; process until very smooth, then add this mixture to the bowl with the coarse beans. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, rosemary, parsley, onion, and bell pepper to the bowl also. Mix everything thoroughly, then add the cheese and bread crumbs and mix again. Divide the mix into ten balls and shape into burgers, transferring them to platters or a baking sheet that is lightly dusted with breadcrumbs. Heat a large heavy skillet with 1/8th  inch olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the burgers for about 10 minutes, turning them as necessary, or until golden, crispy, and cooked throughout. Transfer to absorbent paper before serving.


Urban Simplicity.

Cool as a cucumber (and avocado) soup recipe…

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This soup is really delicious and really easy to make. I know…I say that all the time, right? Well, all you have to do is put the ingredients in a blender and puree them. Seriously. Easy, delicious, and healthy…what’s not to like. This is also a great recipe for the crazy heatwave that has gripped much of the country. I hope you try this…you’ll be glad you did.


Chilled Cucumber-Avocado Soup


Makes 6-8 cups


1 English cucumber, seeds removed

1 ripe avocado, skin and pit removed

¼ small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic

2 cups plain Greek yogurt

2 cups orange juice

2 teaspoons sea salt

½ teaspoon crushed hot pepper (optional)


Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and process until very smooth. 

Kibbet Batata with Broccoli Cheddar Hashwa and Lentil Salsah

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This is a contemporary version (fusion?) of traditional Lebanese kibbeh (pie or patties made with meat or vegetables and bulgar wheat). Most often this is made with meat (and sometimes eaten raw), but there are plenty of vegetarian versions out there as well, and this is just one of them. The vegetable recipes are usually eaten during Lent, but in my opinion are just as good any time. Potato is one of the traditional recipes, but what makes this nontraditional is the hashwa (stuffing)…it is made of broccoli and cheddar. Anyhow, this may look complicated at first, but it’s really not. Each recipe is really simple to make. And as always, these are just suggestions, use whatever seasonings or ingredients that suits your needs or tastes.

Kibbet Batata with Broccoli Cheddar Hashwa and Lentil Salsah
(Potato and Bulgar Wheat Patties with Broccoli Cheddar Stuffing and Lentil Sauce)
For the Kibbeh:
Makes about a dozen patties
1/3 cup bulgar wheat
1 rather large potato, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 large egg
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Lebanese seven spice blend
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ cup whole wheat flour (or more if needed)
Place the bulgar in a small bowl and cover it with room temperature water. Let the bulgar soak for about 20 minutes. Boil the potato until soft, then drain it thoroughly. Drain the bulgar, squeezing any excess water, then combine it with the cooked potato in a bowl and bash it gently, then set aside. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat, add the onion and cook until it begins to brown. Add the garlic and cook it for another minute or two. Transfer the onion and garlic to the bowl with the potato and bulgar along with the remaining ingredients (parsley, egg, salt, 7-spice, turmeric, and flour). Mix together thoroughly, then let rest for a few minutes. At this point the kibbeh can be baked in a pan, shaped into balls or patties (stuffed or plain) and fried, or shaped into balls or patties and braised in a sauce.
For the Broccoli and Cheddar Hashwa (Stuffing)
1 head cooked broccoli
3-4 ounces cheddar cheese
½ teaspoon sea salt
Using a food processor fitted with a grating attachment, grate the cheddar and broccoli (lacking a food processor, hand grate the cheese and mince the broccoli by hand). Add the salt and mix together in a bowl.
To Assemble the Kibbeh
Divide the dough into about twelve balls. Flatten them to about ½ inch. Place a portion of the stuffing onto each piece of dough. Gently lift the dough with the stuffing (you’ll likely need a spatula for this), and with wet hands wrap the dough around the stuffing, sealing it in. Shape the dough into discs, patties, balls, or football shapes. Cook to your preference (fried, baked, braised, etc).
Spicy and Lemony Lentil-Tomato Sauce
Makes about 3 cups
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 small bell pepper, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon crushed hot pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 (14 ounce can) small diced tomatoes
1/3 cup dried lentils
2 cups chicken broth
¼ cup lemon juice
Heat the olive oil in a small sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and pepper, then the garlic, cooking them until they just begin to brown. Stir in the crushed hot pepper, salt, and turmeric; cook for a minute or two while stirring. Then add the tomatoes, broth, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil then lower to a very low simmer. Cook the sauce for about 45 minutes, stirring frequently, until the lentils are soft and the sauce has reduced and thickened. If it becomes too thick, add additional broth.

Black Bean Cheddar Burgers (Yum!)

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Yes these are as good as they look, and of course they are easy to make also. If you’ve ever wanted to make your own meatless burger this is a good one to try. And also, as usual, this recipe is simply a guide. Change the beans, seasonings, etc., to suite your person liking. And before you ask–because I already know that your thinking it–I’ll answer three questions:

1. Can these be made completely vegan? Yes, simply omit the egg and the cheese, and if you like replace it with soy cheese. It may have a more crumbly texture, but still be just as flavorful.

2. Can these be made gluten free? Yes. Cooked brown rice or uncooked instant oats would likely be good substitutes for the breadcrumbs. To use the cooked rice puree it with the beans, and when using oats (which would likely be a better option), add them when you would the bread crumbs and let the mix sit for 20 minutes or so to allow the oats to absorb moisture. This, too, will probably yield a more crumbly texture but still be just as flavorful.

3. Can these be baked instead of pan-fried to alleviate fat. Yes, definitely. Simply lay them flat on a baking sheet and bake them in a preheated oven. The only difference is that they probably will not have the crispy crust as pictured, but they will still be just as flavorful.

I really hope you try these because they are so easy to make and really flavorful. I’d be interested in hearing how they came out, and if you tried any variations (of those listed or your own).

Black Bean Cheddar Burgers
Makes about 10 (4 ounce) burgers
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 eggs
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup shredded cheddar (3-4 ounces)
1 cup bread crumbs (plus extra for dusting)
1 small bunch Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ small onion, minced
½ red bell pepper, minced
¼ cup hot pepper sauce
Olive oil for cooking
Place half of the beans in a food processor and pulse for just a few seconds, until coarse but slightly mashed; transfer these beans to a large bowl. Add the remaining beans to the food processor with the eggs, and process until very smooth; add the bean-egg puree to the bowl with the coarse beans. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl (but not the olive oil which is for cooking the burgers) and mix well. Let the mix rest for a couple minutes, then mix it again. Divide the mix into ten balls and shape into burgers, transferring them to platters or a baking sheet that is lightly dusted with breadcrumbs. Heat a large heavy skillet with 1/8th inch olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the burgers for about 10 minutes, turning them as necessary, or until golden, crispy, and cooked throughout. Transfer to absorbent paper before serving.

Crispy Baked Tofu Marinated in Yogurt and Spices

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So I have to start off with what has become a sort of mantra for my recipes on this blog…this is really easy to make and super delicious. It is so delicious, in fact, a carnivore or someone who says they do not like tofu would like this (really). It’s probably pretty good for you as well. It is great as a sandwich component or on top a salad, but it can also be eaten as is, as a sort of healthy snack.

Crispy Baked Tofu Marinated in Yogurt and Spices
1 (14 ounce) package extra firm tofu
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
Remove the tofu from its package and drain it. Place it between two plates to allow the weight of a plate (or two) to press out additional moisture. Drain the tofu again and slice it into ½ inch slices, then lay it on a baking sheet. To make the marinade, combine the yogurt, lemon, garlic curry, turmeric, hot pepper, cumin, and salt. Mix the marinade, then pour it over the tofu, gently turning it to coat all sides. Preheat an oven to 400F and allow the tofu to marinate at room temperature for 10-15 minutes. Transfer the tofu to a clean baking sheet that is fitted with a wire rack (if you have one, otherwise place it directly on the baking sheet but lightly oil it first). Sprinkle the sesame seeds across the tofu and bake it for about 20-30 minutes, or until firm and slightly crisp (rotate the pan every 5 minutes or so for even cooking). This is delicious on a sandwich, salad, or as a simple snack; it can be eaten hot, room temperature, or chilled.

Urban Simplicity.

Spiced Potato, Chickpea, and Asparagus Pancakes with Roast Red Pepper Coulis

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Okay, so you’re probably looking at these pictures and recipes and thinking a few things. (1) This looks really delicious…they are. (2) They and their sauce look really difficult to make/use a lot of pans, etc. to prepare….these are really simple to make and require only a knife, skillet, bowl, and hand grater to prepare. If you know how to grate stuff, mix stuff in a bowl, and cook something in a frying pan you can do this. (3) They’re probably greasy because they’re pan-fried…they’re not. If the oil is hot and they are drained well these are crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside.

These are, in a way, a meal in themselves…potatoes, beans, vegetables, egg, and a vegetable sauce. Eat them as is or with a salad (which I did), but make extra because you (or anyone else that happens to be around) will be eating them straight from the pan.

Spiced Potato, Chickpea, and Asparagus Pancakes
Makes about a dozen small pancakes
2 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and shredded
½ pound trimmed asparagus, shredded
1 small onion, shredded
1 cup cooked chickpeas, mashed
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon crushed hot pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons whole wheat flour
oil for pan frying
Combine all of the ingredients except the oil in a bowl and mix well. Let rest for a couple minutes and mix again. Heat about ¼ inch vegetable oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, carefully spoon dollops of the mixture into the pan. Flatten the pancakes slightly and cook them for about 7 minutes, turning them a few times to cook evenly and brown. If the oil becomes too hot lower the heat. Transfer the pancakes to absorbent paper before eating.
Roast Red Pepper Coulis
Makes about 1½ cups
2 roast red peppers
1 clove garlic
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and process until very smooth. This is delicious warm, at room temperature or chilled.

How To Roast A Pepper

Roasting peppers is a simple thing to do and the flavor that it adds to a dish is excellent. This is an ancient technique of cooking vegetables where the peppers are not actually roast in the oven but are “roast” over an open flame. The skin becomes charred black as night. With a little steam the skin just about falls off the pepper leaving only the tender cooked flesh with a light smoky flavor. This can be done outside over a grill or directly over the open flame of the burner on your stove.
The first time that I had seen this done was while I was at culinary school in the mid 1980’s. The chef instructor had a thick German accent and when he told me to put the pepper over the flame of the burner I thought I had heard him wrong and instinctively reached for a skillet. After telling me again he became frustrated and grabbed the pepper from my hands and put it on the flame himself. At the time I thought he was nuts, but when I tasted the resulting product I knew that he wasn’t. Thus, to roast a pepper do this:
Remove stickers from the pepper. Place the pepper directly on the grate of your gas stove with the flame adjusted to medium. Using a set of tongs turn the pepper ever couple of minutes until the entire outside is completely black. Immediately place the pepper(s) into a small paper bag and seal it closed. Allow the pepper to rest for a couple of minutes. The steam that naturally occurs loosens the skin. Remove the pepper, and while holding it under cold running water gently rub of the blackened skin (it’s wise, but not essential, to do this over a small colander to catch the skin, which may clog the drain). After the skin is removed gently tear the pepper in two and remove the stem and rinse the seeds.

A Creamy and Delicious "Ice Cream" Recipe that Takes Just Five Minutes to Make and Contains only Two Ingredients.

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Okay…so a bit of clarification. This is not ice cream in the classic sense in that it does not contain cream, but it is without doubt delicious. And while it may only take you a couple minutes of prep time it will actually take longer than five minutes because it has to freeze. But, on the other hand, even a person the claims not to be able to cook can make this in the same amount of time as a pro. Now here’s the really special part…it really does only contain two ingredients: ripe bananas and strawberries. Yes, I was as dubious as you likely are now reading this, but it is really good (the key, no doubt, is to have ripe fruit for sweetness. I had heard of this before but came across it today at this post at TreeHugger. The recipe, while having just two ingredients, also employs only three simple steps: dice/slice the fruit, freeze it, and puree it. The resulting dessert tastes more like frozen yogurt or a smoothy than it does ices cream, but it really is delicious (and healthy, too!). Anyhow, below is the basic recipe.

Slice four ripe bananas and halve eight ripe strawberries. Lay the fruit in a single layer on a plate or small baking sheet and freeze the fruit. Depending on your freezer this can take up to an hour or longer. Transfer the fruit to a food processor and puree it until it is smooth and creamy. If it becomes warm and begins to melt (from being processed) return it to the freezer for a few minutes before serving.

Urban Simplicity.

A Really Easy Five Minute Recipe To Make Cauliflower Taste Delicious

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Okay, so maybe this will take more than five minutes, but not more than ten. And while I made this with cauliflower this could easily be adapted to other vegetables as well. The key factors are onion, garlic, spices, and caramelizing the vegetable. It is really easy, and this is how I made it.

Slice as much cauliflower as you’ll eat about 1/4″ thick. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat with a few tablespoons oil (I used olive oil). When the pan is hot but not smoking, add the cauliflower in a single layer; it should begin to sizzle a bit when it hits the pan; if it seems too hot reduce the heat. While the cauliflower is cooking, slice a small onion. Turn the cauliflower over (it should be browned on one side) and sprinkle the onion in the pan. As the cauliflower and onion cooks, mince a clove or two of garlic and add it to the pan with a teaspoon or two of curry (or whatever spices you like) along with a pinch of kosher salt. Shake the pan to toss everything in the spices and garlic, allow it to cook for another minute, then shake the pan again. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze its juice over the cauliflower and shake the pan again. Transfer everything to a plate and eat it as a healthy snack, a component to a salad, or as a side dish (I ate it as a side to Lebanese-style lamb and brown rice; click here for recipes). The cauliflower is delicious hot, at room temperature, or chilled.

Urban Simplicity.

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