Please don’t hate me. I am one of ‘those’ people who ran away from winter this year and spent a glorious 6 weeks under the Mexican sun. But my vacation was about more than lounging on the beach. In addition to escaping a particularly brutal north-east winter and finding some quiet moments to chip away at my master’s thesis, I had one main goal that I wanted to achieve in Mexico: I wanted to learn how to make true, traditional tortillas from whole, nixtamalized corn kernels. I did that, and you can read all about it on my blog.
This aromatic gingerbread loaf is exquisite with tea or coffee. I love to make this recipe because it’s not sweetened with sugar. Instead, it uses only honey to create a moist golden dough that is not overly sweet and has the floral taste of pure honey.
When I first went to Tunisia, many years ago, my dear friend Synda often made Shakshouka for me. It consists of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce and it’s such a tasty dish that I never got tired of eating it. In fact, I adopted the recipe once I was back home because it’s so easy to make and I almost always have all the ingredients on hand. It’s now my go-to “fast-food” when I don’t know what to make for dinner. Or lunch, or breakfast, for that matter. Because it’s a dish that is suitable for any meal of the day!
This dish is classic British pub fare at its best. I always have a secret chuckle with myself when I prepare a hearty meat and potato dish like this because I grew up in a family that hardly ever had meat and potato dinners. Nope. My family was more of a tofu and zucchini stir-fry family. Though my mom did occasionally whip up an incredible Boeuf Bourguignon (which is this dish’s elegant French cousin, similar in many ways but using red wine instead of beer). But there’s something incredibly comforting about a plate of this stew served on top of a velvety heap of mashed potatoes. I can think of nothing I’d rather eat on a cold winter day. The stout loses its strong “beer taste” and melds into a richly flavorful sauce, deeply satisfying and irresistible.
The best season of all is here: the season of… chocolate!! I am the type of person who goes a little nuts for dark chocolate with bold flavor combinations. One of my favorite chocolate bars is perfumed with Earl Grey tea, and another is seasoned with sea salt and black pepper. By far the strangest chocolate I ever tried was infused with tobacco, an odd yet pleasing experience. My mom used to make a divine chocolate cake whose batter is generously speckled with fresh chopped basil, and that’s what got me thinking about trying some other herbs with chocolate. Rosemary was my hands-down winner. It lends a warm and earthy aroma to these rich rye brownies which make a sweet Valentine’s Day treat.
I’m on a bean kick, as you may have noticed with the last blogpost. And today, I’ve got a delicious lima bean stew for you. It’s easy to make and has a deep warming flavor from the use of green olives, smoked paprika, red wine, and plenty of garlic. Served with grated parmesan and crusty sourdough bread, it’s a perfect winter meal.
Out of all the delicious things you can grow in a garden, it’s beans that really capture my heart. Yes, plain old, good old beans. They come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, so there’s always new varieties to discover. Eating fresh snap beans throughout the summer months is a great pleasure, but I find it even more enjoyable to harvest dry beans that you can store through the whole year, enjoying the bounty of your garden through the winter months.
Remember when I wrote about teff, the world’s tiniest grain? Well, it turns out teff has a close contender and although amaranth is a wee bit bigger, it is another tiny but very mighty grain, one well-worth getting to know. Amaranth is an incredibly nutritious, tasty, and gluten-free little grain that is under-appreciated yet relatively easy to find in health food stores. It’s very high in protein, calcium, iron, and magnesium. So move over quinoa, it’s time for amaranth to get a little bit of the love!