Koshari (Egyptian Rice, Lentils and Macaroni with Spicy Tomato Chile Sauce)

KoshariSo this dish is great for those that love carbs! Known as one of the national dishes of Egypt, you can find this inexpensive dish served on street carts throughout the cities. Note of forewarning, this recipe does call for multi-tasking and having several pots cooking at once, however, not much needs to be done to those pots once they are cooking away. I am also including a recipe for the spice blend used in this recipe. It is fairly simple to make and you can do it up in bulk and keep on hand for dishes that you want to add a Middle-East taste to. This recipe will serve 6, and the spice mixture in the measurements shown will make just less than half a cup of the blend, enough for this recipe and a few more dishes.

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ cups medium grain rice
1 ½ cups brown lentils
3 cups small macaroni
3 cups vegetable stock
1-2 garlic cloves, quartered
1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 bay leaves
¾ teaspoon salt

For the Sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 (796ml) can crushed/pureed tomatoes
1 tablespoon baharat spice blend (see recipe below)
¼ – ½ teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Crispy Onion Garnish:
3 large onions, finely sliced
Oil for deep-frying
1 (540ml) can garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the rice and fry it for 2 minutes, then add the vegetable stock. Bring it to a boil, decrease the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

Meanwhile, rinse the lentils under cold water and add them to another medium saucepan with 2 cups of water. Add the garlic, cumin and bay leaf and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Once cooked, add the salt and stir to combine. Strain any excess liquid if necessary.

Cook the macaroni according to package instructions until al dente.

To make the sauce:
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add the onion. Cook until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until golden brown. Add the tomato sauce, baharat, salt and pepper to taste, chili flakes (if using) and red wine vinegar. Bring it to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To make the crispy onions:
Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onions and fry until dark brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the oil and place them on paper towels to drain and cool.

To Serve:
Add the rice, lentils and macaroni to a large bowl and toss to combine (or simply scoop out desired amounts of each onto the plates). Sprinkle a little baharat over each portion and serve topped with some of the spicy tomato sauce. Top with garbanzo beans, the crispy onions and another sprinkle of baharat. Serve warm.

Baharat (Middle Eastern Spice Blend)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole cloves
½ teaspoon cardamom seeds
1½ tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and dry roast the whole spices/seeds (except for the paprika, cinnamon and nutmeg) until they become very fragrant, about 3-5 minutes, tossing regularly to prevent burning. Transfer them to a bowl and allow them to cool completely before grinding them in a spice or coffee grinder along with the paprika, cinnamon and nutmeg. Keep stored in an airtight glass jar.

Corn, Rice, Tomato & Arugula Salad

Corn, Rice, Tomato & Arugala SaladThis is a great light salad that is even better the second day, as the flavours have had a chance to meld. If you can find fresh corn, it’s definitely worth it! This recipe will serve 6.

Ingredients:

1 cup rice
4 ears of fresh corn, husked & silks removed (or one 341ml can of corn niblets)
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
1 cup fresh arugula leaves or spinach*
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced (optional)
1 cup red onion, cut into thin slices (approximately ½ small red onion)

For Dressing:

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean arugula and spinach.

Directions:

Prepare the rice according to package directions and cool. Cook corn in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain. Let ears cool, and then trim the corn off the cob by cutting closely to the cob in long strips. Carefully lay aside. Combine cooled rice, halved tomatoes, onion, jalapeño and arugula in a serving bowl. Carefully arrange corn strips on top of rice mixture and drizzle the salad dressing over all. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

Dirty Rice

Dirty RiceNo, before you get all worried, I’m not suggesting you eat the rice that you swept up as part of your Passover cleaning! Dirty rice is a traditional Creole dish made from white rice which gets a “dirty” colour from being cooked with small pieces of chicken liver or giblets, green bell pepper, celery, and onion, and spiced with cayenne and black pepper. Parsley and/or chopped green onions are common garnishes. Dirty rice is most common in the Creole regions of southern Louisiana; however, it can also be found in other areas of the American South. This recipe will serve 6 as a side dish, and 4 as a main.

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked rice
4 cups chicken stock
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium/large onions, diced (about 1½ cups total)
2 medium green bell peppers, diced (about 1 cup total)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup total)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ pound ground beef
½ pound chicken giblets or livers**
2 bunches green onions, chopped*

* Click here to learn how to clean green onions.
** If you are using livers instead of giblets, please ensure to following the directions found in this article on how to Kasher your raw liver.

Directions:

If using Giblets:
Place the giblets in a pot, and cover with water, bring to a simmer for 30 minutes with 1 bunch of green onions, salt and pepper.

If using Liver:
If using raw liver, please Kasher it according to the instructions provided in the link above. Once the liver is cooked (either purchased cooked or cooked through the Kashering process), follow the same steps as the giblets, however only simmer until warmed through, not for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a colander, rinse rice several times until water runs clear. Place rice in a large pot and add chicken stock. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not overcook.

In a pan, sauté the garlic, onions, bell peppers and celery in vegetable oil until soft for about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaf and cayenne and add to rice. Cook the ground beef in a sauté pan and add to rice.

Finally, let the giblets cool enough to chop into small dice then add to rice mixture. Mix rice well and let simmer on lowest heat for an additional 30 minutes, stirring continuously, until flavors meld. Serve hot garnished with the second bunch of green onions.

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

Chicken & Sausage GumboSure, you may have heard of Gumbo, but do you know where it got it’s name from? Well, we can’t be 100% sure, but we do know that the dish we know as Gumbo originated in southern Louisiana from the Creole people during the 18th century. It typically consists primarily of a strongly flavoured stock, okra, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and seasoning vegetables, which can include celery, bell peppers and onions. Gumbo is often categorized by the type of thickener used: the African vegetable okra, the Choctaw spice filé powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves), or roux, the French base made of flour and fat. The dish likely derived its name from either the Bantu (Native African) word for okra (ki ngombo) or the Choctaw (Native American) word for filé (kombo). The dish is the official cuisine of the state of Louisiana. The recipe below actually uses all 3 types of thickeners, though the filé powder is optional (more for taste rather than a thickener). In my mind, 3 is better than 1! This recipe will serve about 6 people.

Ingredients:

⅓ cup and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ cup and 2 teaspoons oil or fat rendered from cooking sausage*
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small/medium onion, diced
1 small/medium green bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
6 ounces sausage, sliced
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 ¾ cups stock (chicken, beef or vegetable)
1 ¼ teaspoons white sugar
salt to taste
2 ½ teaspoons hot pepper sauce, or to taste
¼ teaspoon Cajun seasoning blend, or to taste
1 ½ bay leaves
¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ of a 398ml can crushed tomatoes (about 200ml)
¾ cup tomato sauce
¾ teaspoon gumbo filé powder
2 ½ teaspoons oil or sausage drippings
1 cup frozen cut okra, thawed
2 ½ teaspoons vinegar

* Cook’s Note: This recipe calls for the use of sausage; you can use any type you like, though if using a raw one, I suggest either completely removing it from the casing and cooking it up like ground meat, or cooking it whole with the casing still on, then slicing it up thick and adding it to the pot later. Just be careful when stirring the dish later that if you’ve cut up the sausage that it doesn’t crumble and break up too much! Remember, save the drippings from cooking the sausage, and use it in place of oil in this recipe. It adds so much more flavour than regular cooking oil!

Directions:

Make a roux by whisking the flour and ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons oil/sausage drippings together in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat to form a smooth mixture. Cook the roux, whisking constantly, until it turns a rich mahogany brown colour. This can take 20 to 30 minutes; watch heat carefully and whisk constantly or roux will burn. Remove from heat; continue whisking until mixture stops cooking.

Stir the vegetables into the roux, and mix in the sausage and chicken breasts. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, and cook until vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.

Bring the stock to a boil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Whisk the roux mixture into the boiling stock. Reduce heat to a simmer, and mix in the sugar, salt, hot pepper sauce, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, stewed tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Simmer the soup over low heat for 1 hour; mix in 2 teaspoons of filé gumbo powder at the 45-minute mark.

Meanwhile, heat 2 ½ teaspoons of oil or sausage drippings in a skillet, and cook the okra with vinegar over medium heat for 15 minutes; remove okra with slotted spoon, and stir into the simmering gumbo. Continue to simmer until flavors have blended, 45 more minutes. Just before serving, stir in 2 more teaspoons of filé gumbo powder. Serve over hot rice.

White Fish Étouffée

fish etouffeeSo here is another classic Cajun dish called Étouffée. Most commonly prepared with shellfish like crawfish or shrimp, it was back in the 1950s that crawfish etouffée was introduced to restaurant goers in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, however the date of invention of this dish has been shown as early as the late 1920s. Originally crawfish étouffée was a popular dish mainly just in the bayous and backwaters of Louisiana amongst Cajuns in the area, but in the early 80’s a popular Bourbon Street restaurant called Galatoire’s brought the crawfish étouffée dish into the limelight. Even amongst the French Creoles this Cajun dish was a hit. Our recipe uses firm white fish, rather than shellfish, but is just as good! This recipe will serve 6.

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ tablespoons flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bunches green onion, sliced*
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 pound firm, white fish, cut into large chunks (like Cod, Halibut or Flounder)
1 teaspoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 ⅔ cups vegetable or vegetarian chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
rice to serve

* Click here to find out how to clean green onions.

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, stir in the flour until dissolved, and keep stirring until it turns a rich reddish-brown colour. Add the garlic, onion, green onions, green pepper and celery. Sauté until the vegetables become transparent, about 5-10 minutes. Mix in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, cumin and Cajun seasoning. Once combined, add the chunks of fish, being careful not to break up the fish too much. Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add the broth into the vegetable-fish mixture, taste for salt and pepper, and then let simmer until thickened, about 35 minutes. Serve over rice.

Spicy Black Beans and Yellow Rice

beans and riceIngredients:

For Beans:
2 cups (about 1 pound) dried black beans, picked over, soaked overnight
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For Rice:
2 cups long-grain rice
4 cups water
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 bay leaf

Directions:

For the beans:
In a large pot, soak beans overnight covered in water by 2 inches. Drain and set aside.

In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, jalapeno pepper, garlic, and bay leaf and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and cover with water by about 1-inch. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until the beans are tender. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Taste the beans and season with salt and pepper.

For the rice:
Put all the ingredients into a heavy-bottomed pot, stir well, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat until the rice has absorbed the water, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Discard the garlic and bay leaf, fluff with a fork, and serve.

Spicy Black Beans and Yellow Rice

beans and riceIngredients:

For Beans:
2 cups (about 1 pound) dried black beans, picked over, soaked overnight
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For Rice:
2 cups long-grain rice
4 cups water
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 bay leaf

Directions:

For the beans:
In a large pot, soak beans overnight covered in water by 2 inches. Drain and set aside.

In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, jalapeno pepper, garlic, and bay leaf and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and cover with water by about 1-inch. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until the beans are tender. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Taste the beans and season with salt and pepper.

For the rice:
Put all the ingredients into a heavy-bottomed pot, stir well, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat until the rice has absorbed the water, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Discard the garlic and bay leaf, fluff with a fork, and serve.

Long Beans and Beef

Long Beans and BeefFor those not familiar with Chinese Long Beans, they are a legume cultivated to be eaten as green pods. Also known as the yard long bean the pods are actually only about half a yard long. This plant is of a different genus than the common bean as it is actually a vigorous climbing annual vine. The plant is subtropical/tropical and most widely grown in the warmer parts of South Asia, Southeast Asia, and southern China and has uses very similar to that of the green bean. They are a good source of protein, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, and potassium, and a very good source for vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and manganese.

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground meat (beef, chicken or turkey)
1 lb. chinese long beans (or regular fresh green beans)
1 cup ketchup
Rice to serve with

Instructions:

In a wok or large sauté pan, brown the ground meat, draining off the majority of any excess fat. Slice the beans into 1 ½ inch sections and add to the meat. Toss to coat the beans in the drippings from the meat. Once beans are cooked through (5 to 10 minutes), add the ketchup, tossing to coat the meat and beans. Lower the temperature and allow the mixture to reduce, an additional 10 minutes or so. Serve hot over rice.

Chinese Happy Family

Chinese Happy FamilyThis dish is called a “Happy Family” because it is blend of all different ingredients, coming together to make something delicious, much like how a family is. This recipe can easily be converted into a vegetarian dish by substituting tofu for the chicken. You can also use beef instead of chicken. This recipe makes about 8 servings.

Ingredients:

6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into cubes/strips
1 tablespoon oil

Marinade:
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Vegetables:
¼ cup olive oil
2 onions, sliced thin
1 carrot, julienned
2 red bell peppers, seeded and julienned
2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and julienned
1 ½ cups sugar-snap peas
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup water chestnuts
1 ¾ cups baby corn
1 ½ cups bamboo shoots, sliced

Stir-fry Sauce:
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons water/chicken broth

½ cup sliced green onions*

Directions:

Combine the ingredients for the marinade and pour them into a large freezer bag or a bowl that you can marinate the chicken in. Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least an hour, or even overnight.

In a wok or large skillet, on medium-high heat, add the tablespoon of oil and sauté the chicken pieces until they are cooked through. Remove them from the pan. DO NOT put them back into the bag or bowl that you were marinating in. That is a good way to get food poisoning! Just set the chicken (and any juices) aside on a clean plate or bowl.

Next, add the ¼ cup of oil (or less) to the wok/skillet and add the onions and carrot. Toss to coat and let cook for about 2 minutes. Next add the peppers, tossing and allowing to cook for an additional 2 minutes. Next add the peas and mushrooms, then the water chestnuts, corn and bamboo shoots. Allow everything to cook together for another 2-4 minutes. Add the chicken back to wok/skillet.

In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the stir-fry sauce. Make sure you have fully incorporated the cornstarch, so that it is not too lumpy. Pour the sauce over the stir-fry/chicken mixture. Allow the sauce to come up to temperature and you will notice it begins to thicken. Once it has done this, toss the stir-fry to cover everything in the sauce. Serve hot garnished with the green onions. This dish goes really well with rice or noodles.

* To learn how to properly clean green onions, click here.

Mains: One Meat & One Dairy – And Everyone Is Happy!

Moussaka

Mousakas Latheros (Vegetarian Mousaka)

Ingredients:

4 medium eggplants
1 cup oil
3 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
2 large onions, thinly sliced
3 large tomatoes, peeled and seeded, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
1 cup milk
3 large eggs, beaten
8 oz. Feta cheese, crumbled

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the stems from the eggplants and cut lengthwise into thin slices. Sprinkle lightly with salt and set aside to drain in a colander. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Lightly sauté the potato slices over medium heat until they start turning golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and set aside. In the same pan, sauté the onions until they are soft and golden, then remove from the oil and set aside. Add the eggplant to the skillet and sauté until soft and lightly coloured. Remove from the skillet and layer the vegetables in a medium baking pan, beginning with the eggplant, then potatoes, then the onions, until all of the ingredients are used. In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper, and spread the mixture over the vegetables. In another bowl, thoroughly mix the milk, eggs and feta cheese. Pour this mixture over the tomatoes. Rock the baking dish gently to distribute the cheese mixture evenly. Bake for 45 minutes until the top is golden brown and crusty.

Greek Lemon Chicken 1

Greek Chicken

Ingredients:

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
2 lemons
4 large cloves of garlic, mashed
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4-5 pepperoncini, sliced, plus liquid from jar
½ cup olive oil

Directions:

In a large container or freezer bag, place the chicken, the salt, pepper, sliced pepperoncini, and the mashed garlic. Rub the oregano in your hands to bring out the essential oils and add that to the mix. Zest the lemons, then quarter and squeeze the juice from the lemons into the mixture and add the lemons and zest as well. Lastly add the olive oil and about ¼ to ½ cup of juice from the pepperoncini to the mixture. Seal the bag or cover the container and toss the chicken around to make sure every bit is covered. Let marinate for 30 minutes to an hour in the fridge. Do not let it go overnight, as the acids in the salt and lemons will start to cook the chicken, and it will become rubbery. In a large skillet, sauté the chicken, (along with the bits of lemon, peppers and garlic) in the oil from the marinade. The chicken will brown up nicely. Sauté until cooked through. Serve over rice, couscous or orzo.