Magic Beans.

Last week, I discovered that I have been treating my body terribly. It was rebelling in ways I’d rather not mention. Needless to say, I needed a redirect. The inextricable link between mind and body is a beautiful thing, and I’m fortunate that I’m able call that in from time to time, giving attention and respect to the remarkable gift of intuition.
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I found myself craving simple clean food comfort food; beans rice, warming spices. I also felt the need to reel in my sweet tooth a bit. There’s an insatiable hunger that, like a switch at the ready, activates as soon a I put a bit of pastry, a piece of candy or chocolate or some other sweet in my mouth.
It works for a while.
Until it doesn’t.
It’s manageable when other areas of my life are in balance. For example, when I’m running regularly, when I’m in a good place emotionally, mentally, spiritually. However, put a nick in any one of those precious spindles and I without fail dive wholeheartedly into a vat of sugar.
Not to mention, my skin was looking terrible, undoubtedly influenced by a dry winter and lack of good healthy fats in my diet. And so this past week I’ve been eating more oily fish, avocados and eggs, steering clear of bread and sweets.
For now.
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I’d been dreaming of making mujadarrah, a simple dish with lentils, rice and onion when I’d discovered Melissa Clark’s post on The How and Why of Dal (you can find the link, here)
It couldn’t have been more appropriately timed. Mujadarra is a typical dish that I go for, as is dal, however the marriage of rice and beans in kichri was perfect, so soothing, nourishing, a blanket for my tummy. I made a few adaptations based on what I had available in the pantry.
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I’d also felt the need to rebalance my gut with some healthy bacteria, so I whipped up some radish and beet pickles.
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And then there was the hummus: I know that hummus is rather ubiquitous, however I’d been pondering making some spicy fried chickpeas and became curious as to how they might work in a puree. The blistered skin of the chickpeas, the aromatic scent of cumin as it popped away in hot cast iron met well with the astringency of the tahini and bright flavor of lemon. I added a pinch of cayenne and toasted garlic to give it a little kick.
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As I nibble on dried persimmon and tap away at the keyboard, I’m more than certain I’ll be knocking on Pastry’s door again soon. However, for now I’ll adhere to a bit of Ayurvedic wisdom and give my body what it needs.
For now.
Enjoy, and much love,
J
Spiced Lentils with Rice (adapted from Melissa Clark’s Kichri with Massour Dal )
Note: I prefer the smaller French lentils for their distinctive texture, however brown will work. Red lentils are great in dal, and would produce a slightly creamier consistency when cooked with the rice in this dish). Kichri is highly adaptable and can incorporate other vegetables, such as tomatoes, potatoes, okra and the like. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous dollop of yogurt and toasted cumin seeds.
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Ingredients:
1 c. dried lentils (I prefer the smaller French lentils, however brown will work)
2 c. basmati rice
1/2 tsp cumin seed
4-5 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp peppercorns
1/2 tsp chili flakes
2 tbsp ghee, or olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
sea salt
Rinse rice and lentils well; soak the rice and lentils for at least an hour. Drain and rinse again.
Set a skillet over medium heat and add ghee or olive oil.
Add remaining spices and cook until fragrant; ~2-3 minutes. Fold in chopped onion and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Combine spices with lentils and rice in a large pot with 4 cups of water, along with 1 tsp salt.
Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer for ~20 minutes (less, if using red lentils).
Remove from heat and let stand for ~10 minutes, then aerate with a spatula to evenly distribute the flavors and serve.
Toasted Hummus
Note: I’m a fair-weather fan when it comes to garlic, however heating the garlic with the chickpeas tames it a bit and works well with the other smoky flavors in the spread.
 

Ingredients

1.5 c garbanzo beans, cooked, rinsed and patted dry
1 tsp cumin seed
1-22 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 c water
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
Method:
Place a large skillet on moderate heat. Add olive oil. When olive oil starts to shimmer, add the chickpeas and cumin. Shake pan occasionally and cook until chickpeas are blistered and lightly browned; about 7-9 minutes. Remove pan from heat and allow beans to cool slightly.
In a food processor, combine all ingredients except olive oil and pulse to combine, scraping sides down as necessary. While the machine is running, slowly add olive oil. Taste; season with additional salt and lemon juice as indicated.

Feed Me, Seymour!

After a weekend being in good company of friends, being nourished in both body and heart, I find myself in the kitchen today. It feels like I’m making up for lost time. The week has been bubbling over with activity, so cooking a meal has been little more than an afterthought.
So, gifted with an extra hour in my day, I found myself laying in bed dreaming up what I wanted to make.
Something hot and stew-y, for sure, something sweet, and something with raw elements.
Garbanzo Bean Stew with Preserved Lemon
I wanted to create an unctuous, meat-free stew and had been pouring over recipes that paired game-y meats with fruit. I’ve had this thing for Moroccan spices lately and was dying to test out my recent batch of preserved lemon. I use garbanzo beans frequently for hummus and in salads, however I rarely use them in soups, preferring the many varieties of lentils available. Garbanzo beans are firm, nutty and can hold their own in a soup with lots of competing elements. Adding a bit of harissa heightens the flavors and adds extra heat.
This stew is stellar, and can be served with couscous, bread or another grain. I served it over quinoa to give it a bit of a protein boost and keep it a bit lighter, as I always like to keep room for dessert!
Garbanzo Bean Stew with Preserved Lemon
2 onions, sliced thinly
1/4 cup olive oil
3 c cooked garbanzo beans
2 32-oz cans whole plum tomatoes, chopped, juice reserved
1 preserved lemon, insides removed, chopped
3/4 cup dried Turkish apricots, quartered
1 Tbsp harissa
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
2 cinnamon sticks
2 c. vegetable or chicken broth
1 bunch kale, chopped
Method
1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
2. Add onion and cook ~15 minutes, giving a stir every few minutes to evenly caramelize.
3. Turn the heat up to high, and add all remaining ingredients except kale.
4. Once boiling, turn heat down and simmer for ~40 minutes.
5. Toss in kale, allowing it to steam for ~5 minutes, then fold into the stew.
6. Serve over cooked quinoa or couscous; with cilantro and harissa as garnish.
pomegranate arils

pomegranate arils

I also had this pomegranate I’d been meaning to break into. As I was waiting for my press to steep my coffee, I spotted the pomegranate and popped myself up onto the counter, knife in hand. A colleague taught me a fancy technique for scoring pomegranate so as not to bruise the fruit. I peeled back the flesh to reveal the plump juicy jewels inside. After plucking away for about 10 minutes, I had a nice full bowl of seeds. I could have easily gone with a simple arugula salad with pomegranate and toasted pistachios, however I also wanted to do a bit of roasting and satisfy my squash addiction. What I ended up with was truly gorgeous and flavorful as well; kale marinated in a lovely vinaigrette and tossed with roasted delicata squash and pomegranate seeds.
Kale and Delicata Squash Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

Kale and Delicata Squash Salad with Pomegranate Arils

Kale Salad with Delicata Squash and Pomegranate Arils

2 delicata squash, halved, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch crescents
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 large head lacinato (flat leaf) kale
Vinaigrette:
4 T olive oil
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tap salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Toss squash with a bit of olive oil (~2 tbsp), a generous pinch of salt and several grates of pepper. Roast for 40-45 minutes, giving a toss about halfway through so that the squash caramelizes evenly.
Wash kale and chop into ribbons. Set in a large bowl.
Combine vinaigrette; massage into kale. Add delicata and mix lightly. Fold in pomegranate seeds and garnish with pistachio seeds and chèvre.
Pear and Almond Cake

Pear and Almond Cake

Moving on to dessert. Initially, I’d planned to do something with pear and ginger, and then I recalled having a bit of almond flour in my larder. I discovered a recipe on food 52.com, which you can find the link here:
I made few deviations from the recipe, with exception of increasing the proportion of almond flour to baking flour and substituting olive oil for canola oil. This made for a dense, moist cake, which I served with some vanilla-scented creme fraiche. It was truly divine.
Much Love,
J