Moroccan Monday: Couscous

As one of our themes was Moroccan Monday, there had to come a day when couscous would be in the main role. We have no statistics to back this claim up, but looking at various cookbooks and recipes online, couscous seems to be really popular in their cuisine.

And why not? It’s rather versatile and keeps hunger away for long periods of time. (I guess this might explain its historical popularity among desert-dwelling people.)

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Fava Beans and Vegetables

1 onion
1 bell pepper
1 zucchini
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin
0,5 tsp turmeric
0,5 tsp cinnamon
0,5 tsp all spice
0,25 tsp cloves
0,5 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
2 big tomatoes
4 dl fava beans
salt, pepper

Dice onion, bell pepper and zucchini. Heat the oil in a pan or pot and sauté diced vegetables with spices about 5 minutes. Meanwhile dice the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes and fava beans to the pan and simmer 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are ready and tomatoes are a bit mushy. Season with salt and pepper and serve with herb couscous.

Herb Couscous

4 dl water
pinch of salt
4 dl couscous
4 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil

Bring the water to boil. Add salt and couscous, remove from heat and let sit covered until the couscous has absorbed all the water. Fluff with a fork. Add chopped herbs, lemon juice and olive oil.

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Slow Food Sunday: Bean Stew

You have a bunch of beans and some extra time to wait for the food to cook – it’s bean stew time. Bean stews are wonderful slowfoods, being easily varied into different cuisines by just playing around with the ingredients and some spices.

Few weeks ago Nomad was talking about a creamy bean stew, and couple of days later I made a stew using beans, potatoes, carrots, tomato passata and oat cream. It was good, but we felt it could be better. And here’s the improved version of the creamy bean stew: no potatoes this time, but bell pepper and celery instead.

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Creamy Bean Stew

3 tbsp oil
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garam masala
1 onion
2 celery stalks
1 big bell pepper
2-3 garlic cloves
4 carrots
1 can tomato passata
4 dl white beans
4 dl fava beans or kidney beans
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp thyme
salt, pepper
2 dl oat cream
water

rice, barley or other grains for serving

Chop the onion and garlic. Cut the bell pepper in bite size chunks. Slice celery and carrots. If you have a pot that can be used both on stove top and in oven use it, use a sauce pan or any pot. Heat the oil in your pot and fry cumin, garam masala and paprika about 20 seconds. Add onions and fry couple of minutes. Add celery, bell pepper, carrot and garlic and continue frying for few minutes. Add tomato, beans, basil, thyme and enough water to barely cover everything. Put your pot into oven (or transfer the mixture into an oven proof dish) and bake 2-3 hours in 175 Celsius degrees. Add more water during the baking if needed. Add cream and season with salt and pepper. Bake while you cook the rice.

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Tofu Tuesday: Fried Rice

Fried rice is a common dish in Asia, especially in China. It often contains eggs, meat, shrimps etc. but our version is vegan of course. It’s a quick and easy meal if you have some leftover rice in your fridge. I recommend planning ahead and cooking some extra rice so you can make fried rice next day. This version is mild flavored, add more spices if you prefer spicier. Or pour some hot sauce on top.

riisi

Tofu and Vegetable Fried Rice

4-5 dl cooked rice (turmeric for cooking water)
250 g tofu
1 big carrot
½ red bell pepper
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
0,5 tsp sesame oil
0,5 tsp ground cumin
0,5 tsp ginger powder
1,5 dl frozen peas
1,5-2 dl mung bean sprouts
1 tbsp lemon juice
chopped cilantro (optional)
(salt)
soy sauce, sweet chili sauce and/or hot pepper sauce for serving

Peel the carrot, onion and garlic cloves. Dice tofu, carrot and bell pepper. Chop onion and garlic. Mix soy sauce, sesame oil, cumin and ginger in a small bowl.

Heat the oil in a large pan, a wok is good. Fry tofu for a minute or two and add soy sauce mixture to the pan. Continue frying until tofu is nicely browned. Remove tofu from the pan. Add a little oil if needed. Sauté onion and carrot until the onion starts to get soft and add bell pepper and garlic. Continue sautéing until vegetables are done and stir in peas. Add rice and cook couple of minutes stirring often. Finally add tofu, bean sprouts and lemon juice. Season with salt if needed. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

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Trinidad Corn Soup

Soup is often served as a starter, but in Finland it’s usually the main course. According to what I’ve read recently, in Trinidad soup is served as a main course too. Trinidad Corn Soup is filled with peas and vegetables, and you won’t miss a main dish after eating this. I read many recipes and made my version based on them. They all included corn, split peas, corn dumplings, chili pepper and carrots. Potatoes and coconut milk also seem to be popular ingredients. Sweet potatoes and chickpeas can be used too.

The soup is usually made with sliced corn ears, but barbecue season is over and whole corns weren’t available anymore, so we used canned baby corn instead. If you have fresh corn ears, slice them and add to the pot at the same time with dumplings.

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Trinidad Corn Soup

2,5 dl split peas
water
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 celery stalk
1 tbsp oil
1 bell pepper
1 carrot
2-3 dl pumpkin cubes
1 scotch bonnet or other hot chili pepper
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp lovage
1,5 dl frozen corn
1 can baby corn

dumplings:
0,75 dl cornmeal
0,5 dl water

Soak the split peas overnight. Rinse.
Peel and chop the onion and garlic, chop celery. Heat the oil in pot and sauté onion, garlic and celery until onion is soft. Add 1,5 l water and bring to boil. Meanwhile peel and dice the carrot, and chop both peppers. When water is boiling, add peas, chopped vegetables and herbs. Simmer about an hour or until peas are soft. Use a handheld blender to puree the soup. You can puree it completely smooth or leave it chunky.

Make the dumplings: Mix cornmeal and water together to get a thick dough. Add bit more either ingredient if needed. Form into small balls. Season the soup with salt and pepper and add dumplings. Simmer 10-15 minutes and add both corns. Simmer 10 more minutes, adjust seasoning and enjoy.

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Veganized Hungarian Pörkölt

Pörkölt is a Hungarian meat stew. Dandelion Vegan Blog had already made a vegan version in MoFo 2010, and we used it and this old family recipe to create our version. We baked our pörkölt in oven, but it can also be simmered on stove.

porkolt

Pörkölt

1 onion
1 big garlic clove
1 bell pepper
2 balls basic seitan
1 small/medium eggplant (or half of a lagre one)
1 big tomato
2 tbsp oil
2-3 tsp paprika
1 tsp caraway seeds
salt, pepper
vegetable broth or oil

Peel and chop the onion and garlic. Dice the bell pepper. Cut seitan and eggplant into chunks. Dice the tomato. Heat the oil in a pot (if you have a pot that can be used both on stove and in oven, use it). Fry the onion and garlic few minutes, add the bell pepper and fry couple of more minutes. Add seitan and continue frying until lightly browned. Fry the eggplant for few minutes, add tomatoes, spices and enough broth or water to almost cover everything. Bake in 175 Celsius degrees couple of hours, or if your pot isn’t oven safe, simmer on stove. Serve with rice.

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Yugoslavian Movie Night

We watch quite a lot of movies. Especially non-Hollywood and non-English movies. Pretentious art-hipsterism or not, it’s a wonderful excuse for combining food culture and media culture.

Our movie of choice this time was Srđan Dragojević’s excellent and controversial “Lepa sela lepo gore” (“Pretty village, pretty flame”) which was accompanied by some Yugoslavian (Slovenian) delicacies. Hold your horses! We’re very aware the movie is essentially Serbian and the food cultures do vary in the melting-pot of former Yugoslavia, but we found Slovenian vegetarian recipes and decided that it’s close enough.

We had two kinds of salads, mini quiches, beer and Blair’s habanero chips.

Slovenian Cucumber Salad

5 medium/large potatoes + water for boiling
1 kg cucumbers (3 long)
3,5 dl soy yogurt
3-4 big garlic cloves
salt
pepper

Peel the potatoes, cut them half and slice. Boil them, drain and allow to cool. Coarsely grate the cucumbers, mix with salt and drain in a colander for a while. Mince the garlic and mix everything in a bowl. Let sit in the fridge for couple of hours before serving.

The original recipe didn’t say how much garlic would be good. I used 2 big cloves, but I think the salad could have been more garlicy, so I wrote 3-4 cloves.

Lentil Salad

1,5 dl green lentils + water for boiling
1 small red bell pepper
1 shallot
3 tbsp red vine vinegar
3 tbsp oil
salt
pepper

Boil the lentils about 30 minutes or until soft but not mushy. Chop the shallot and dice the bell pepper. Mix together and season with vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Let sit in the fridge couple of hours before serving.

The recipe for the zucchini quiches is in its own blog entry.

Special Macaroni Casserole

It’s handy to have some food in the freezer for days you don’t have time to cook or if you don’t have any leftovers to take with you to work. Today we made loads of macaroni casserole so we could have it for dinner and have leftovers to freeze.

Two Macaroni Casseroles

400g macaroni
3 big carrots
2 medium/small onions
1 celery stalk
1 can white beans in tomato sauce
salt, pepper, oregano
vegetable broth
half bell pepper
3 dl green beans cut in shorter pieces
2 garlic cloves
5 dl coconut milk
scant 1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
pinch of cayenne
1 tsp lovage

Cook the macaroni according to instructions on the package. Peel and coarsely grate the carrots. Peel and chop the onions. Take two oven proof dishes and divide macaroni, carrots and onions in them. If one is bigger than the other, put 2/3 to it and 1/3 to the other (like we did). Slice the celery stalk and put it and white beans to one dish. Sprinkle salt, pepper and oregano on top and pour enough vegetable broth to barely cover other ingredients. Dice bell pepper and mince the garlic cloves. Put them and green beans to the other dish. Combine coconut, cumin, garam masala, cayenne, lovage and some salt in a bowl and mix them with macaroni mix. Cover both dishes with lid or aluminium foil and bake in 200 Celsius degrees for 45-60 minutes. Remove lid/foil from the first dish after 20-30 minutes and from coconutty dish 5-10 minutes before it’s done.