It’s amazing how much more energy I have when the weather cools; yesterday was nearly 80°F and I had to force myself to work through my list of to-do’s, but as the temperatures dropped once again, we slept well, we awoke rested and energetic, and I ended up adding things to my list, for the sheer joy of feeling like doing things.
A new recipe – for me, for us – Chole – is bubbling in our crock pot. It sounded so good! I found the recipe – I think on allrecipes.com – several months ago, but today is the perfect day to put it all together. It has so many things in it which are good for us, but especially chick peas, tomatoes, ginger and turmeric.
I had no idea what it would look like, but it looks like things we used to eat at the vegetarian restaurant Greenland, down in Souk Mubarakiyya, in Kuwait. I think it is missing a few spices, probably things we have a hard time getting here. It wasn’t even easy just finding mustard seeds, if I had needed those dried lemons or other spices exotic to Pensacola, I couldn’t have attempted it. This Chole won’t be the same as the delicious, spicy, complex dishes our Indian quilters would bring to the weekly stitch meetings, but it will be a good tasty dinner on a rainy night. I wish we had the fried Indian breads that Wikipedia says are traditionally served with it.
Chole (Chickpea Stew)
• 2 cups of chickpeas soaked overnight
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 large onion, minced
• 1 red bell pepper, minced
• 2 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
• 1-inch piece ginger, minced
• 1 14 oz can of coconut milk
• 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 tsp coriander powder
• 1/2 tsp turmeric
• 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
• 1/2 tsp ground cloves
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 tsp garam masala
• 1.5 tsp mustard seeds
• 1/2 tsp salt
Blend all the ingredients but chickpeas in a food processor or a blender until liquid. Wash and drain chickpeas, place them in a slow cooker, pour the blended mixture over and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 4-5.
Make ahead: we usually make double or triple of this recipe, since we love it. Let it cool, and store chole in freezer-safe zip-lock bags in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Just for fun, I am going to share with you the Wikipedia version. I laugh to think how intimidated I would be –
preparation time=45mins cooking time=1hour serves=4
Ingredients For the chole 1 cup kabuli chana (white chick peas), soaked overnight 1 tea bag or tsp tea leaves, tied in a muslin cloth (optional) 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera) 1 onion, finely chopped 12 mm (1/2″) piece of ginger (adrak), grated 2 cloves of garlic (lehsun), grated 2 tsp chole masala 2 tsp chilli powder 2 tsp dried mango powder (amchur) 1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi) 1 tbsp coriander (dhania) powder 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera) powder 2 tbsp oil salt to taste
For the bhature 1/2 cup plain flour (maida) 1/2 cup potatoes, boiled and grated 1 1/2 tsp oil salt to taste oil for deep-frying
For serving 1 onion, sliced 4 lemon wedge
Recipe For the chole Pressure cook the Kabuli chana with the tea bag for 3 whistles until they are soft . Drain and keep aside. Discard the tea bag. Heat the oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds. When the seeds crackle, add the onion, ginger and garlic and sauté till the onion is golden brown. Add the chole masala, chilli powder, amchur, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin seed powder and salt and sauté for another minute. Add the Kabuli chana and 1 cup of water and mix well. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Keep aside
For the bhature Combine the flour, potato, 1½ teaspoons of oil and salt and knead into a firm dough without using any water. Knead the dough very well till it is smooth Cover with a wet muslin cloth and rest the dough for 10 minutes Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and roll out into circles of 125 mm. (5″) diameter. Deep fry in hot oil till the bhaturas puff up and both sides are golden brown. Serve hot with the chole, sliced onion and lemon wedges. Tips While frying the bhature, press the centre lightly with a frying spoon so as to help it to puff up. Chole masala is a blend of spices which is readily available at most grocery stores. 
LOL, cook with a tea bag for three whistles??? I am already way out of my league! And “Chole masala is a blend of spices which is readily available at most grocery stores” does not apply to Pensacola, Florida!
I was making a salad to go with today’s lunch and remembered AdventureMan warning me we were just about out of roasted pecans, and needed more. It is a cool – almost cold – rainy rainy day in Pensacola, a perfect day for cranking up the oven to roast some pecans. We still have a wealth of pecans from a generous donation made by my dear daughter-in-law’s Texas aunt, who has a heart as big as Texas.
As I roast the pecans (425°F for about 10 minutes) the house becomes fragrant with that luxurious smell. I am transported back to Kuwait, where I remember paying a fortune for a small packet of pecans I needed to bake a pecan pie. Normally, we didn’t even bother looking at the prices, but the price on those pecans was so high I really had to think about buying them, it’s like paying an extortionist. But I needed pecans. I paid.
Now, we have this luxurious blessing of pecans, and not just pecans, but these fresh, fragrant, tasty Texas pecans, and as they roast, they are blessing my entire house with a rich roasty fragrance. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. This wonderful aunt gave us this wealth of pecans, and the gift just keeps on giving and giving, through the Christmas season, well into January – and we still have pecans left. I’ve paid a lot more and gotten a lot less joy from a purchase. I think of this wonderful woman and her gift every time we use them.
Yes, I roasted a lot of pecans, because we sprinkle them on all kinds of things, and that roasted flavor just enriches everything they touch. Yes, they keep in an air-tight container, for as long as it takes for us to eat them, which can be two or three weeks.
And here is the salad, post-pecans but pre-salad dressing:
It’s another luxurious blessing. About twelve years ago, when we had a posting in Germany, we packed everything into storage and just bought what we needed to live with. As days go by, however, you – or I, anyway – just need a few little things to make life nice. You pick up a few gorgeous dessert plates here, a few Christmas ornaments there . . . some cookie sheets, just a little extra, and before you know it, life is no longer so simple. To help keep it simple, I mostly bought things I could just leave behind when we left the country to head to the next country, or I transported things home in those big bags we used to be able to take on the transoceanic flights. I ended up having to rent a storage locker in Seattle for all the treasures I accumulated in our second round of overseas living, LOL.
The first year we were living once again in Germany, as we were buying some wardrobe units, I spotted two salad / serving bowls at IKEA. They aren’t costly porcelain, they are just ceramic bowls, but I love the shape, and inside each one are two beautiful purply-blue irises. I looked at them and loved their conception, their design. I pointed them out to AdventureMan, and then promptly forgot them. Because he is a very smart man, I found them under the Christmas tree a few months later, and was thrilled to recognize them. We have both treasured them ever since.
With each subsequent move, I carefully wrapped those bowls and used them again and again at each posting. We pull them out all the time, these bowls are a perfect size for a salad-to-share or a side dish, and to this day, they look like new. It makes me laugh; I’ve had much more expensive dishes which were not so long for this world; these are go-to serving bowls, and still look brand new.
So today I am feeling extraordinarily thankful for the great luxury of pecans, the wonderful aroma of their roasting, and the great blessing of serving them in a bowl which gives us joy every time we use them.
This is so unbelievably easy. When I make this, I just buy one of the mini-bottles, and it is just the right amount:
Cranberry Sauce Grand Marnier
1 12oz package fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 mini bottle Grand Marnier
Bring cranberries to a boil in the water, boil one minute, add sugar, stir until dissolved. Take off heat. Add entire mini-bottle of Grand Marnier, stir, let cool, put in container and refrigerate. (It will gel considerably because of the sugar.)
Tastes good served with turkey, but if you like cranberries, as I do, it is also great with an English muffin at breakfast.
It is cold this morning in Pensacola, and yesterday, too. I am thanking God; I feel so much happier and energetic when it is a little bit cold. It’s a good time of the year to feel energetic; I have a LOT to do!
This is a great recipe for busy days. You pop four ingredients into the slow-cooker, plug it in, set it on low and you are done. The smells will alert you that something delicious is on the way. When you are ready to eat, quickly cook up some rice or noodles – either work just fine – and serve the fork-tender chicken with some of the sauce – totally delicious!
Cranberry Chicken – Slow cooker
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 (16 ounce) bottle Catalina salad dressing
1 (14.5 ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 envelope onion soup mix
1. Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of a slow cooker. Pour the salad dressing, cranberry sauce, and onion soup mix over the chicken.
2. Cook on Low 4 to 6 hours.
The first time I made this, I didn’t have Catalina Dressing on hand, but not to fear – it is also easy to make:
Kraft Catalina Salad Dressing
1 cup sugar
2 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon chili powder
1/2 Teaspoon celery seed
1/2 Teaspoon dry mustard
grated onion to taste
1/2 cup vinegar
2/3 cup ketchup
1 cup vegetable oil
Place all ingredients into blender and mix. Store in jar in refrigerator.
Just in time for Christmas – I have to try this tomorrow! Thank you, Stephane, at My French Heaven:
Did I tell you I collect cookbooks? One of the guidelines I use is that the cookbook have the name of a person attached to each recipe; if your name is on a recipe going into a book, you know you are going to be very careful that this recipe is really, really good.
I don’t remember buying this cookbook, but it is a gem. On the other hand, there have been some surprises . . . there is a recipe for making boudin, that ubiquitous Cajun sausage, and it starts off with “1 large hoghead.” The directions state that you boil the hog’s head until tender, let it cool, remove meat from bones, then grind hoghead meat with heart, kidney, onions, parsley, etc. in a meat grinder.
Thank goodness boudin is not a favorite of mine. Andouille, a spicier sausage, IS a favorite of mine and if I see a recipe for andouille, I am NOT going to look at it.
I love making jambalaya – and here is a genuine Louisiana recipe:
1/2 cup vegetable oil or drippings
2 medium onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 medium green pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onion tops
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Red Pepper to taste
Pepper to taste
Browning agent or 2 teaspoons Kitchen Bouquet
2 lbs peeled raw shrimp
4 cups long grain rice
Heat oil over low heat in a heavy 6 quart Dutch oven until warmed. Add vegetables; saute until lightly browned. Add enough water to cover vegetables; add seasoning and browning agent. Bring to a boil; add shrimp. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir in rice; cook 10 minutes. Cover and cook until rice is tender, stirring occasionally. Yield 10 – 12 servings.
I do jambalaya all the time (DISCLAIMER: I am neither a Louisiana native nor of Cajun descent, so what I do cannot be taken as authentic, even if it is tasty ) and I use more spices, chopped tomatoes and I don’t add the shrimp until the rice is cooked; I add it at the end and give it five minutes for the heat of the rice and cooked ingredients to cook the shrimp. We also use andouille sausage (or a turkey sausage if we are entertaining Moslem friends) and some cut artichoke hearts, maybe a small jar of pimentos, maybe some leftover peas. Sort of like a jambalaya/paella
This is another wonderful recipe I found on allrecipes.com. My sweet daughter-in-law told me about allrecipes.com, and once I signed up, they started sending me recipes every day. Not all of them are of interest to me, but most of those I have tried have been really good.
We LOVE this soup. It is delicious, and easy to fix. While it is an African recipe, we find that many of the most delicious Southern dishes are similar to African dishes, probably because there were so many African ex-pats brought to the USA and settled in the South a few hundred years ago. Their legacy lives on in Southern cookbooks.
African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup
• 1 tablespoon good olive oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 6 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 2 teaspoons ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 pinch ground cloves
• 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
• 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
• 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
• 4 1/2 cups chicken broth
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
• 1 pinch cayenne pepper
• 2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
• 1 bunch fresh chopped cilantro
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Mix in the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne and cloves. Stir in the tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrot, and continue to cook and stir about 5 minutes.
2. Pour chicken broth into the saucepan, and season the mixture with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Add peanut butter.
3. Remove the soup mixture from heat. With a blender wand, blend the soup and peanuts until almost smooth. Stir in fresh cilantro. Serve hot.
Syria is heavy on our hearts, and in our helplessness, we honor our Syrian friends by trying a Damascus dish, Tabak Rohoo.
Although we did not manage to empty the cooking pot by sliding the completed dish out still in layers (a challenge for the future), this dish was so delicious that we plan to have it often. AdventureMan was amazed; he doesn’t even like lamb, but this lamb is delicious.
It is hard to imagine that this dish might be even better if made with ghee. We substituted a very good olive oil.
The recipe is from allrecipes.com, where I find some of the best recipes ever
A Vegetable Stew – Tabakh Rohoo
SUBMITTED BY: ALMALOU
“This is an Arabic vegetable stew made in layers and served with steamed rice or bulgur. My Damascene sister in law recently showed me how to make this. It is delicious. The addition of ghee or rendered butter at the end of the cooking is a traditional Damascene style of cooking; however, these days these dishes are made without the extra fat.”
1 Hr 15 Min
1 Hr 35 Min
• 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
• 1 pound lamb meat, cut into small pieces
• 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 pinch ground cardamom
• 2 onions, sliced
• 1 potato, peeled and sliced
• 1 pound eggplant, peeled and cubed
• 1 pound zucchini, thickly sliced
• 2 pounds tomatoes, cubed
• 1 chile pepper, chopped
• salt to taste
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 1/4 cup water
• 6 cloves garlic
• salt to taste
• 3 tablespoons dried mint
1. Heat the ghee in a large pot over medium heat. Place the lamb meat in the pot, and cook until evenly brown. Season with allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom.
2. Place a layer of onion on top of the lamb in the pot, followed by layers of potato, eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes. Do not stir. Place the chile pepper in the center of the vegetables. Season with salt. Mix the tomato paste and water, and pour over the vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 1 hour, until vegetables are tender.
3. With a mortar and pestle, crush together the garlic, salt, and mint. Mix with 2 tablespoons of liquid from the pot, and pour over ingredients in pot. (I used a mini-jar on my blender. I tried the mortor and pestle, but there was a lot of stuff and it was messy and unsuccessful. The blender did just fine, and this mixture is essential to the delicious nature of the dish – Intlxpatr)
When removing the mixture to the serving dish – a fairly open or wide bowl – tip the pot and let it slide out the side so that it stays in the layers.
Just in time for your Eid celebrations, a blog called My Halal Kitchen, with some of the most amazing and delicious totally halal recipes you can imagine.
Here is what the author has to say about herself:
Yvonne Maffei, MA graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies and a Master’s degree in International Studies, where she specialized in international education, journalism and health. She has lived and traveled abroad in various regions throughout Latin America, Europe, the southern Mediterranean and North Africa as well as the American foodie cities of San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Yvonne has been cooking and writing since she was a pre-teen and always wanted to turn her passion and hobby into something more. When one of her recipes was published in Cooking Light magazine, it was all the inspiration she needed to make a necessary life and career change. After years of being a school teacher, she decided to re-angle her teaching platform from the classroom to her blog where she began writing about halal food and cooking and thus began a new career out of writing about food, travel and healthy, halal living. Today Yvonne writes and publishes MyHalalKitchen.com, a blog about halal food and cooking. She currently teaches cooking classes, gives lectures on healthy eating, and consults schools on how to source healthy, halal ingredients and create tasty healthy and halal recipes for their school lunches. She resides in Chicago, IL.
Her recipes are clear and easily understood, and her illustrations are beautiful. She also provides resources for halal-standard foods, and fresh dairy and produce.
Remember Qwon Chi Rolls? No self respecting Alaska girl would eat a roll make with “Crab with a K” which we all know is really Alaskan pollack re-textured to remotely resemble real crab. My friends, don’t eat that pretend stuff. Look for real crab. It’s out there.
When I was a little girl, my parents would go out, and sometimes they would come back, bring their friends, and my mother would make open faced crab sandwiches. To me, they are still special; I get hungry just thinking about them.
They are fun, and easy to make.
You get Crab – the real thing. I like claw meat, but any crab you prefer, as long as it is REAL crab, will do. You put crab meat in a bowl. You add just a little horseradish, just a little fresh ground pepper and a little fresh ground salt. You add some of the green from green onions, not a lot, just a little, and then you add just a little mayonnaise.
Toast English muffins, and spread crab generously on the muffins.
Top the crab with grated cheddar cheese, and broil in the oven until the cheese is melted.
Now, they are ready to eat!
I think I had better go eat dinner . . . . I’m HUNGRY!