Sunday, September 18, 2011

North African Couscous Paella

My husband enjoys bringing me gifts and of course, I love that about him. These gifts could range from an article of clothing, a gadget for the kitchen, a book, an excellent bottle of olive oil he found on sale, or even a pretty rock he found while on a hike.  These gifts always let me know he was thinking of me. 

Recently, after a trip into a used bookstore, he brought me a cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.  The subtitle is "fast and easy recipes for any day".  He chose well; the book contains recipes which are simple to make and don't resort to cans, boxes, and mixes, but rather rely on fresh foods.

I have already made two recipes from this book and they were both delicious. This is one of them. The only difference between my version and the original is the fact that the recipe called for frozen peas and I used one zucchini and one yellow squash instead because I had them on hand. 

I used tofu in the dish, but you could also use shrimp or chicken. The beautiful golden color of the couscous comes from the addition of turmeric. This is a meal in a pot.

North African Couscous Paella
(adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home)
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. firm tofu, cubed
2 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 scallions, sliced
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground  coriander
1 cup couscous
2 cups hot water
1 Tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Toasted, sliced almonds

In a wok, heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add the tofu, stir and fry until golden. Remove from wok and sprinkle with the teriyaki sauce. Set aside and keep warm.

Add another 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil to the wok, and stir fry all the vegetables for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, coriander, turmeric and cayenne; stir and cook for another 30 seconds. Add hot water, couscous, and butter. Stir well, cover, and remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes.

Uncover the pan and using a fork, stir thoroughly to fluff up the couscous and break up any lumps. Gently stir in the tofu. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with toasted, sliced almonds.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Southern Tomato-Cheese Pie

Here is an old Southern recipe that has been changed and modified by almost every cook who makes it yet remains essentially the same.  Some of the variations have to do with the crust. Some use a basic pastry crust but I use a biscuit crust because I think it holds up better to the juicy, fresh, ripe tomatoes, without becoming soggy. 

Most recipes I've seen call for 2 cups grated cheese and 1 cup mayonnaise for the topping. I can't deal with that much mayo, so I make a good, homemade pimiento cheese to use for the topping. 

A couple of days ago, I got home from work to see this sack on my porch.

When I looked inside, this is what I found.

 It looks like our next-door-neighbor harvested the remnants of her summer garden.  I made this tomato pie from those beautiful, vine-ripened tomatoes. I'm thinking about those green tomatoes and the peppers. They will be used. 

Southern Tomato-Cheese Pie
1 cup Bisquick
1/3 cup milk
1 jumbo Vildalia onion, thinly sliced
2 lb. garden fresh tomatoes, sliced
Fresh basil leaves, to taste, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
One recipe homemade pimiento cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine the Bisquick and milk to form a soft dough. Knead the dough lightly, then press into a pie dish. Use either pie weights or another pie plate, to keep the dough from rising too much. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Place on a rack to cool. Lower the oven to 350 degrees. 

Make the pimiento cheese and set aside.

Slice the tomatoes and set out on paper towels to drain.  Slice the onion very thinly.  Slice the basil.

In the crust, layer the onions and tomatoes, really high, using salt, pepper, and basil on each layer of tomato.  Spread the pimiento cheese over the tomatoes and onions to form a top crust. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Banana Bread for Pritchard Parker (A re-post from March 15. 2009)

When my mother visited, she brought a loaf of banana bread. I never had any of it, and I think my husband, Pritchard Parker, ate most of it. For weeks, he would mention that banana bread, every now and then. He would say something about speaking to someone at work about that banana bread! I finally got the hint and asked Mama for the recipe. It is a recipe from the January, 2005 edition of Southern Living, called Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread. You can find the recipe here.

The recipe gives four different toppings for the bread, which all sound delicious. Mama used, therefore I did, a simple confectioners sugar/half and half glaze. After all, I was trying to replicate the banana bread Pritchard Parker had fallen in love with--hers.

The recipe makes enough batter for two loaves. I made one loaf, and with the rest of the batter, I made muffins, in my hip, new, square muffin pan. Those were for Pritchard to take to work and share, IF he wanted to.

A note about bananas: I did not use overly ripe bananas for the bread. And I realized why I never liked banana bread in the first place. It always tasted like rotten bananas. The ole, "Don't throw those bananas away, you can make banana bread" routine. Yuck.

This banana bread had a good, creamy banana taste, and without a funky color. Pritchard Parker said it was every bit as good as my mother's.

That is a compliment!

I am sharing this recipe with Cookbook Sundays at Mom's Sunday Cafe

Friday, September 2, 2011


Curry-Palooza #6

Camille of Croque-Camille chose the recipe for this month's Curry-Palooza. She picked Patra-Ni-Macha from the lovely blog, Quick Indian Cooking.

We loved this dish! However, I admit I strayed from the given recipe because it called for an entire bunch of cilantro. And I just don't enjoy that herb. I used parsley instead. And because parsley is so much more subtle in flavor, I searched out some other recipes for the same dish. As a result, I added 6 cloves of garlic rather than 3. I also added 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger, 1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin, and 1 teaspoon of brown sugar to the chutney paste. 

I also saw mention of brushing ghee onto the delicate banana leaves to help keep them from splitting.  I thought  that was a good idea, because the banana leaves are very fragile.  And so I did.

Wash the fish and cut into serving sized pieces, as desired. Cut a piece of banana leaf-those things are huge--into a size that will gift wrap your piece of fish.  You don't need to secure them, just place them seam side down onto a steamer pan. 

Banana Leaf Wrapped Fish

The Color Changes After Steaming

Enjoy with rice, lemon wedges, tomato, and cucumber.

I love this monthly Curry-Palooza event. Not only am I learning more about Indian cookery, I am learning more about the varying cultures within India. Last month's dish was a Bengali dish, and this one is a signature dish of the Parsi peoples in Mumbai. I have been taking some time to learn what that means. I think it is important to understand the beliefs and customs of other cultures. Now, more than ever. Do you?

One of the co-founders of our little group, Grapefruit of Needful Things, couldn't cook along with us this month. Here are the other posts:

I see that Indian Cuisine is gaining in popularity, so I hope you will consider cooking along with us. Just let any of us know and you're in. No cliques here. And you will even get to choose a recipe!