June 26, 2010

The Return of the Magi - Mansoor Dal with Cabbage & a Crunchy Peanut Cabbage Slaw

If you, like me, were ever reluctant to dabble in Indian cuisine simply because you found the variety of spices overwhelming and cumbersome to deal with...fear no more! All you have to do is rush to your neighborhood Indian store and grab a spice organizer similar to the one I got (pictured above). Our friend UA introduced me to this wonderful invention when the hubby and I were visiting her and PA in El Dorado Hills. I can assure you it singlehandedly revived my love affair with Indian cuisine!

You can find a couple of the wonderful dishes that ensued below:

The mansoor dal (red split lentil dal) is arguably the best one I have ever made - velvety, subtle yet bursting with flavor! You can find the recipe here but note that I tweaked it a bit by adding more ground cumin and a bit of amchur powder. I know that Lokuma will add some of her ideas on this one as well...

Yum - topped with a bit of cilantro...you can barely tell that there is cabbage in this soup!

Crunchy Peanut Cabbage Slaw (inspired by Smitten Kitchen)

This cabbage salad was the perfect accompaniment  to the comforting dal. The small amount of ground cumin used in the dressing goes well with the rest of the meal. I strongly recommend that you use Kirkland's Super Extra-Large Virginia Peanuts from Costco - the best variety I have ever tasted (hubby agrees)! What is also especially great about the slaw that the dressing has only 2 -3 drops of peanut oil in it, which makes it perfect for those of us who aspire to follow the Dr. Fuhrman way of eating ( on a good day :).

You can find the recipe here. Note that I replaced the lime juice with lemon juice and the red cabbage with plain green cabbage.

June 21, 2010

Fried Plantains

Well this is probably my new most favorite appetizer! Delicious and really easy to make. All you need are ripe plantains... that's right, they have to be pretty ripe (almost black on the outside) in order to taste good. The procedure is simple: peel, slice and fry in little bit of olive oil and season with salt (my friend RLM who inspired me to try plantains cooks them without any oil and they still taste decicious!). But just remember, that they have to be pretty ripe!

June 18, 2010

ETL: Sauteed Winter Greens

This is a very simple recipe, it takes only few minutes to execute. You can cook any kind of winter greens like Swiss chard, kale, collards, spinach, etc.

"All types of greens leave other veggies behind in the nutrition competition. Greens are extremely low in calories (a one cup serving packs a mere 25 calories), but they provide substantial amounts of vitamins A and C, essential immune system boosters and smaller quantities of calcium, iron, potassium, folic acid and fiber. They may even be protective against certain types of cancer.


Kale (Brassica oleracea) is a member of the cabbage family. The leaves are blue-green in color and almost frilly in appearance. Younger leaves are tender enough to eat raw, but more mature leaves require cooking. Kale is "stemmy," but removing the stems completely does away with most of the leaf, so it is better to chop the leaves and stems well prior to cooking. The leaves should be washed well, especially if harvested from a home garden as kale is very susceptible to aphids. They can then be steamed or sauteed, as in the recipe below.


Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) is a member of the beet family. It is known as a "beetless beet:" the greens without the bulb. The leaves are large and deep green. Chard stems come in various colors depending on variety: white for Fordhook, red for Ruby or Rhubarb and all the colors of a sunset for the Bright Lights Variety. It can be eaten raw in salads or lightly steamed. "

  • 2-3 large bunches greens: kale or chard or spinach or a mixture
  • 3-4 shallots, chopped
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, chopped or minced
  • 1/2 teaspoons olive oil or more
  • 3-4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 4 or 5 fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 cup water or broth of your taste
  • salt and black pepper to taste
1. Wash greens well, devein and chop roughly. Set aside in a colander to drain.

2. In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil and saute the shallots and the garlic. Add the pepper flakes. I used mostly water and just a little bit oil.

3. Add the greens and the water. Stir and cover to steam for about 10-15 minutes.

4. Add the strawberries and the balsamic vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are bright, dark green and tender, and heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Oh well, it might not look that appetizing, but wait till taste it. I can  assure you, the greens are extremely delicious! I am addicted :). You can eat them as a main dish, or put them in a bed of steamed cauliflower, sauteed mushrooms, or beans.  

June 08, 2010

Homemade Cherry Soda

I had a pint of cherries in the fridge that was about to go bad and I felt awful that I had not eaten them on time. But then I got an idea! In attempt to salvage the cherries I decided to make a cherry soda :)

What I used:

1 pint of cherries, washed and pitted
2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional and to taste)
3 tablespoons hazelnut syrup (optional.. I just wanted to try how it out)
1 bottle sparkling water

The process:

Pit the cherries. Then place in a blender and add the sugar + the syrup and blend until the mixture is homogeneous. Then pour into cups (halfway) and add the sparkling water. Stir gently and enjoy!

June 01, 2010

ETL: Bulgarian Bean Soup - "Zrial bob"

This dish is the most popular Bulgarian dish. All Bulgarian women and probably 95% of the Bulgarian male population know how to cook "bob". The recipe is so wildly popular, so I would never think of posting it, if Marulka did not ask me to do so. She needed to refresh and re-validate the recipe she remembered from her childhood.
So here is my version:

  • 3 cups of beans
  • 1 tbsp dry mint
  • 1 tbsp dry savory (chubritza)
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
  • 1 whole dry chili pepper
  • 1 bunch savory of special type, known in Bulgaria as "rogata chubritza" ( optional )
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 sweet peppers or 1 bell pepper of any color
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste
  •  fresh mint and parsley to garnish
Step 1. For good digestion soak the beans overnight. You can use any kind of beans you like. I used cannelloni.

Step2. Add the beans to the pot and cover them with water. Turn the stove on high heat to get the water boiling. Then discard the water, and repeat the same procedure 2 more times. Discarding the boiling water makes the beans easier to digest.
Step 3. Add water to the pot, approximately 1.5 inch above the beans.
Step 4. Add all of the ingredients without the salt.  Putting the salt at the beginning,  increases the cooking time.

Step 5. Cover the pot with the lid and cook the soup at low heat for about 3 hours, or until the beans become soft.

Step 6. Add salt and fresh mint and parsley. The soup goes well with "shopska salad". Look at the recipe posted by Slaninka.