Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer Salad

Chris said he would like to eat this forever.

It is too hot to write anything else.

Make this and go take a nap.

Summer Salad inspired by Heirloom Tomato Salad from Sunday Suppers at Luques by Suzzane Goin

2 heirloom tomatoes
2 potatoes
2 small summer squash
loaf of good bread (day old is perfect)
fresh basil
balsamic vinegar
red wine or sherry vinegar
salt + pepper
olive oil
fresh mozzarella 

Boil, steam, roast or grill the potatoes and squash, whatever your fancy, until tender, and slice into 1 inch bites. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the crust from about 1/4 loaf of bread, tear into rough 1 inch pieces douse with olive oil until coated and soaked through, you can squeeze the bread to help. Sprinkle with sea salt, lay on a baking sheet and toast in the oven about 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile, mash the the garlic in a mortar and pestle or with the back of a spoon, add about three tablespoons balsamic and one tablespoon red wine vinegar. Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella, and wash and tear up five or six basil leaves. Layer everything in a bowl, however you like, drizzle a little olive oil and spoon a good amount of vinegar and garlic on top. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and few grinds of fresh pepper. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Alice Water's Eggplant Caviar

I was a water baby. Not born into a tub of water but rather swimming with my mother at a very early age, way before teeth or words or long hair came into the picture. There are photographs of me in my birthday suit, held by my mother in her one piece at the Philadelphia YMCA pool, dark from the low lighting, except for the rippling aquamarine water.

Later we were members of the Lombard Swim Club, and their colorful kiddie pool with a wall of spouting water and flowers, was pure magic. I can still taste their sweet and tangy fruit cup with wedges of peeled grapefruit, and smell the air perfumed with chlorine and suntan lotion.

In my camp years we had swimming lessons every day in a cold, spring fed pool out in Chester County, learning the crawl, side stroke, breast stroke, and attempting the butterfly. Then when I was too old to go, swimming for me pretty much stopped. I'd go to the neighbors for a dip or to the beach with a friend, but for the most part swimming became a childhood memory.

Until about a month ago. Chris and I discovered a pool nearby that we can actually afford, and with a swipe of my credit card, we were members. I was a swimmer again. It's an indoor pool that requires swim caps so on our first day there we giggled at our get-ups. Getting over the initial ridiculousness of our smooth shiny noggens, there is actually a wonderful anonymity that comes from being in a room where everyone has on a suit, swim cap and goggles, heads down, except to come up for air.

The other day as I was crawling out to the deep-end, where the floor of the pool suddenly drops several feet, and you feel a little like you're flying, I meditated on dinner. What should we have? I saw the answer in the little bubbles of air all around me, eggplant caviar. Chris had recently bought me Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters, and a nice dinner of bread, eggplant caviar, and sardines sounded good as I turned to complete a lap.

The recipe advises letting the caviar cool, and serving on grilled toast but I couldn't wait that long, and served it hot with fresh bread, it was still delicious. I did notice however, that after a night in the fridge the flavors improved, and grew more rich, so use your judgement.

I hope that wherever you may be this summer, that in the heat of an afternoon, you can find a nice pool or lake, and take a refreshing dip, the answer to "What's for dinner?" may be swimming all around. And if you happen to be a member of the Lombard Swim Club, you are one lucky duck.

Alice Water's Eggplant Caviar

1 large globe eggplant
salt + pepper
olive oil
2 shallots
balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel the eggplant and cut into 1-inch cubes. Put the eggplant in a baking dish, season liberally with salt and pepper, and toss with a generous amount of olive oil. Sprinkle with a few tablespoons water, cover tightly, and bake in the oven (or toaster oven) for 30 to 40 minutes, until very soft.

While the eggplant is baking, peel and dice the shallots very fine. Let them macerate for about 10 minutes in about 2 tablespoons of the vinegar. Peel and mash the garlic and add it to the shallots and vinegar. When the eggplant is done, add it to the shallot and garlic mixture, mashing with a fork, and let it cool to room temperature.

Stir in the chopped parsley or cilantro (or a combination of both) and adjust seasoning. Add additional olive oil and vinegar to taste. Serve on grilled bread.

Serves 4.

For a meal serve with salad, sardines and a few good cheeses.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pie #3: Deconstructed Berry

Did I mention I like pie?

Oh right I did. But it bears repeating. I love pie. Pie for breakfast, pie for lunch, pie before bed, sweet pies, savory pies, fruit pies, rustic pies. There is nothing better than pie.

There are cold, soggy diner pies with canned filling that I don't care for, but give me a slice of flaky, salty crust with a sultry fruit filling and I'm yours.

I was even paid in pie once.

When I was an undergrad at Sarah Lawrence, my friend Emilie and I, on a New York City excursion, got chatted up by a recently divorced mother of two who needed help packing up her Chanel suits and Hermes china for a swiftly approaching move to a more modest Upper East Side Apartment. She offered to pay us and we had nothing better to do so she gave us her address and the following weekend we showed up at her front door with an overnight bag and our sleeves rolled up. 

Before beginning to pack she gave us a lengthy and totally unnecessary tour of her apartment, including the many closets where all her Chanel, Dior and Yves Saint Laurent garments hung protected by silk hangers and plastic garment bags. Then sitting on the floor of her living room Emilie and I began to wrap and stack what seemed like hundreds of Hermes cups, saucers, gravy boats, soup tureens and plates, with pages from the New York Times, George Bush's face disappearing into a soup bowl and Donald Trumps hair whisping across a salad plate. She retreated into the kitchen and we were left to pack until dinner. 

Dinner was unmemorable but afterwards, when all the dishes were clean, crumbs swept into the proper receptacle, and we'd done a little more packing, she emerged from the kitchen with a homemade pecan pie still warm from the oven. 

This was and is the best pecan pie I ever ate. The crust was perfect, a slightly dark, flaky, buttery crust crimped to perfection, and the filling, oh my God the filling, the pecans were toasty and brittle drowned in a gooey, chewy filling and laced with deep dark bittersweet chocolate that melted in your mouth. She confessed to mixing caramels into the filling but would not divulge the secret family recipe and promised we could have a slice for breakfast before getting back to packing.

Emilie and I could not sleep that night. Our main concern was, what will she pay us?!! We naively had not sorted that out in advance. But the thing that kept us up was, what was in that pie?!! Should we raid the kitchen and flee in the middle of the night? Start a pecan pie business and become millionaires? 

The next day we worked until our fingers were black with newsprint and it was time to go, we held up our end of the bargain and figured it would be better to graduate from college than wind up in the slammer. We exchanged many thank yous with this woman, back and forth until it became ridiculous and then she pressed $100 into Emilie's hand. What? Two days of work and we were to split $100! Did she think she was doing us a favor? Our blood pressure rose as we stared at her smiling and saying a final thank you through clenched teeth. "Wait, I almost forgot!" she said and ran back into the kitchen. What did she forget? Three hundred dollars still sitting on the counter? She emerged carrying an aluminum pie plate covered in foil and we could guess what was inside. 

We dashed as fast as we could to Grand Central Station and when finally aboard the train back to Bronxville, ate the entire pie with our bare hands, licking each finger clean, one by one. 

I will one day try to recreate this pie but not today. In my quest for more and more pie I remembered the delicious little pie crust cookies my mother would make with the scraps, sprinkling them with cinnamon sugar, making a tasty little snack to eat while the pie was still baking. 

If you don't want to go to all the trouble of baking a pie, this is totally satisfying and a quick fix. I think it would even make a nice end to a dinner party. 

And if you have any pie stories, I'd love to hear them. You can never have enough.

Deconstructed Pie

Filling: assorted summer fruit, washed and sliced if necessary (I used peaches, raspberries and blueberries), a few tablespoons grand marnier or wine if you like, and or a little grated nutmeg and a little confectioners sugar if you like. Mix everything together and let sit.

Topping: one 8 oz. container creme fraiche, combined with the zest of one lemon and 1 tbs. confectioners sugar. Stir till smooth and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Flaky Pie Crust: Cut 8 tablespoons of fat (any combination of lard, butter or non-hydrogenated margarine) into 1 1/2 cups flour (all purpose, whole wheat pastry or a combination) and a good pinch of salt until small crumbs form. Mix in two or three tablespoons of ice water to bind together, but still crumbly, roll out to 1/8" on a floured surface, cut into whatever shape you like. Mix together 2 parts granulated sugar to one part cinnamon, sprinkle and bake in a 400 degree oven until brown and toasty. Let cool.

To assemble, place fruit in a bowl, spoon a little creme fraiche on top and stick a few pastry crust cookies in the side.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mango with Cayenne

Friday Afternoon when Anna and I returned to the city via the Long Island Railroad, arriving in Penn Station, I felt like a country bumpkin visiting New York for the first time, look at all these people! Hoards of them moving down the long corridor crissing and crossing like a slow and steady stampede. I pointed my body in the direction of the subway, eyes glazed over and joined the rush. Why did we leave Fire Island again?

It always amazes me how many people come to visit the city in July and August because all of us New Yorkers are just trying to get out. Oh, your parents in Connecticut will be gone for the weekend and we can use the neighbors pool? I'm there. Your friend has a shack in the Catskills with a functioning sprinkler? Bathing suit packed. A job offer to make a hundred bucks for a week of work in Poughkipsee? Who needs money? We are all just leap frogs, hopping from one green lily pad to the next until September rolls around. 

Yesterday I had to run errands all over the city and my final stop was SoHo. Coming up out of the dutch oven that was the Prince Street subway station was like arriving at a sold out Justin Bieber concert taking place in an even larger Dutch Oven, a sea of candy colored teenagers and their parents clogging up the street moving at a zombie pace, flipping their hair around and screaming in a dehydrated stupor. I wanted to scream back, why are you here?!!! Go home and come back in September! You cannot be having fun! As I elbowed my way through the crowd I once again wondered, why had I come back from Fire Island? Then out of the corner of my eye I saw a little cart of sunshine. Two women, skillfully peeling and slicing mangos, packaging them in zip lock bags and chilling them on ice, a bottle of lime juice and cayenne pepper tucked nearby. Two please!

Finally at home, Chris and I slurped down the sweet sticky mango in silence. There are some things worth staying in New York for. 

Mangos with Cayenne

ripe mangos
cayenne pepper
fresh lime juice

Peel the mangos, slice, cube or eat right off the pit and season with as much cayenne and lime as you like.

Fire Island

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Baked Polenta and Flourless Chocolate Cake

When the sun won't shine, make polenta.

Spending the past week on Fire Island has been a dream. The narrow, bamboo lined pathways that crisscross the island divide it into a beachy secret garden of sorts. Little bicycle bells ping, waves crash, and breezes blow gently here. Heaven.

Chris and I joke that whenever we go on vacation it rains. We once abandoned sweltering Manhattan for a day at Jones Beach only to sit on a boardwalk bench braving frigid hurricane winds and a spiky mist. Bound in our beach towels, with squinted eyes, and chattering teeth we gazed out at an empty beach, maybe if we waited ten more minutes the clouds would break. Any minute now....a-n-y-m-i-n-u-t-e....

Five minutes later we were eating mediocre pizza and back on the train. 

This week, with all it's gloriously lazy afternoons and sloppy ice cream cones, has been overcast with a chance of showers, every day. Since beach bumming isn't an option, my friend Anna and I whipped up some baked polenta yesterday, a bright, sunny dish with eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and goat cheese. It's summer on a plate. We followed it up with some flour-less chocolate cake and a screening of Body Double

In August Chris and I have a trip to Nag's Head, North Carolina planned, I'll hope for sun but this time it might be cloudy with a chance of tar balls. 

Baked Polenta

1 cup Polenta
1 zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
1 eggplant, sliced into thin rounds
3 medium sized tomatoes
1/2 cup goat cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt + pepper

Cook 1 cup of polenta according to the cooking instructions on the package along with 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese stirred in at the end. Pour into an 11 X 7 casserole pan, smooth to even out and chill in the refrigerator until set.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a saute pan, heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil and cook the garlic until fragrant, then add and cook in batches, the eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes until golden and tender. Season with salt and pepper as you go. 

When the polenta is firm you can leave as is and layer the vegetables on top or, turn it out and slice into 1/4 slices to be layered with the vegetables like a lasagna. Season with salt and pepper as you go, toss in a little more garlic or some fresh herbs if you like, top with crumbled goat cheese and bake for twenty minutes until the cheese gets little golden caps. Serve hot.

It also really great for breakfast with a poached egg on top, Anna's brilliant idea.

Flourless Chocolate Cake from Gourmet Magazine

Downtown Fire Island at Night

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pasta with Baked Tomato Sauce from the Wednesday Chef

I have been absolutely useless lately. Last week a heat wave blew through New York with the speed of a slowly rotting cantaloupe and left in its wake a city of zombies and stinky garbage. 

There were days I'd imagine flinging myself in front of a steam roller, finally succumbing to the pavement, my flesh and bones melting into the gleaming black tarmac that had turned to honey in the 100 degree weather. But instead I'd just stagger into another air conditioned establishment to cool my head long enough to see straight, and then return to the undulating heat outside. 

As you can imagine, food was the last thing on my mind,  and as our air conditioner blew a dainty stream of cool air into our room, turning on a hot appliance seemed like torture. Also, the fridge was empty except for a few ingredients that required heat, including a package of frozen grass fed chuck that I'd bought on an impulse the weekend before thinking maybe I'd try out a beef stew recipe (what was I thinking?!) so, we ordered in. We got pizza and Indian food and I can't even remember what else. But I did not cook. I couldn't. The cookbooks that I usually draw inspiration from were about as interesting to me as the telephone book, and I figured I'd spare them the heat as well.

Then one day as I was browsing some of my favorite blogs, wondering if I'd ever feel like preparing another meal again, I happened upon a recipe for Pasta with Baked Tomato Sauce posted by the Wednesday Chef, that got me drooling and thinking maybe this was worth turning on the toaster oven. It's a simple recipe made with fresh ingredients that takes about 10 minutes of prep work followed by 20 minutes of unfussy baking. This I could handle. You slice open cherry tomatoes, sprinkle them with olive oil and a mixture of breadcrumbs, Parmesan and Pecorino cheese, and garlic, bake them until they're soft and fragrant, mash them up, and then toss with pasta and fresh basil. I made it Thursday night and Chris asked if we could have this every night from now on. Then my mother made it Friday night, and I made it again Saturday night. This one's a keeper. And if you'd like the recipe,  you can just  click here.

I am now on Fire Island enjoying sun, waves and a glorious kitchen. It feels like a reward for enduring the past week, and I am once again dreaming of food. Maybe we'll have beef stew when I get back.

Be Cool.

The Ferry Ride over.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Our Refrigerator

Despite all our best efforts, like making the bed every day, keeping mildew at bay, or a sock drawer from exploding, some things just get away.

In the case of our refrigerator you would think that its size would prevent anything from getting too out of hand. You would think. I can't recall exactly when the freezer became so engulfed in ice that even a Popsicle lying on its side wouldn't fit in, but I do remember thinking, we should really get around to doing something about this. 

Those thoughts went on for months. 

Since defrosting a freezer is not a common chore, with no one designated to the task, I think Chris and I kept hoping the other person would take care of it. Meanwhile, the situation was getting worse. Not only was there no chance of fitting a pint of ice cream in our igloo of a freezer, it was now becoming difficult to fit anything at all in the rest of the fridge. Lettuce froze instantly, which meant I couldn't buy any greens.  If a juice bottle or glass of wine perched on the door was too rotund, you couldn't close the thing. The only space left was the bottom shelf which was already occupied by jars of jam, Dijon mustard and vitamins too dear and expensive to throw out.

Did we thaw the freezer? Not yet! Instead I began to buy food right before I was ready to cook it and pray we could eat it all in one sitting. You sure you don't want the other half of the chicken honey? 

Our health was suffering, and so were our nerves. Every time the refrigerator door was opened, I imagined all the water droplets in the air being pulled towards our iceberg like a mother ship beaming up it's crew. This ice was looking to take over the world three molecules at a time and whispered, "one part hydrogen, two parts oxygen, one part hydrogen, two parts oxygen....."

It would be interesting to do a study on what people deem to be "too much" because it is a highly relative measurement, but for whatever reason, after months and months of cursing our mammoth ice cube, Chris decided enough was enough. I believe the procedure began with a hairdryer, gently reducing the ice's girth layer by layer, and ended with the refrigerator splayed open in the bathtub receiving blows from a blunt object. I was on puddle patrol and did the best I could.

When every last bit of ice had been thawed, and mopped up, I couldn't believe the vast space left behind. It was like discovering a shallow coat closet was actually a walk-in. I immediately went out and bought groceries, lots of them, and marveled how they all fit neatly on the shelves. 

This all happened over a year ago but recently, I have begun to notice the warning signs. Our ice is once again looking a little plump. I suppose I could do something about it, but maybe Chris will. 

Besides, it's going to be hot as hell today so maybe a little extra ice, would be quite nice.

Chris documented the de-frosting of our freezer with his polaroid camera I think so that when it comes time to thaw it out again, there is no question as to whose turn it is.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Pie #2: Sour Cherry

I would say that I'm an extremely calm person. I stay levelheaded in an Emergency and have almost limitless patience. But this past March I became irate over a can of cherries.

I had a big craving for sour cherry pie so, I did what any normal pie baker would do, I went to the grocery store for a couple cans of sour cherries packed in water. 

With my mouth watering I went to my local Whole Foods, scanned the shelves, and my heart sank, their cherries were packed in syrup. This will not do, you have to make your filling from scratch. I asked the pastry department if maybe they had a few cans tucked away, but sadly no. I went to Dean and Deluca, same story. I went to the bodega across the street, D'Agastino's, Food Emporium, Fairway, Eli's, The Amish Market, Citarella and about three more random grocery stores, in a torrential downpour, but no cigar. With each stop I became more and more ticked off. You mean to tell me that in a city where you can get raw cheese made from the milk of cows who graze on spring grass in the alps, or stinky Durian fruit flown in from Indonesia, that there is not a single can of sour cherries packed in water anywhere in New York? With my umbrella blown inside out and my jeans soaked up to my underwear, I stood waiting for the subway muttering incomprehensible insults at no one.

If I had known there were no pie cherries in New York when I moved here I may have turned right around and marched myself back to Pennsylvania where every grocery store, no matter how humble, has shelves stocked with pitted sour cherries packed in water. 

I immediately called my mother for consolation and she assured me that the next time I came home she'd have a couple of of cans waiting for me. 

I realize this is not normal. In fact Bubby's makes an excellent sour cherry pie and they are just a stone's throw from where I live but, something I love even more than eating pie is making pie. And so I decided that if I was going to get myself so worked up over a piece of fruit I might as well muster up some of that  patience I seem to be so proud of and wait for the real thing. 

My grandmother used to have a sour cherry tree in her back yard and if you could get to the cherries before the birds did, the reward was splendid. Cherry season is upon us and on my last trip to the farmers market there were no birds to fend off and I picked up two quarts of the ruby baubles. It took me two days to make the pie, but oh, my, god, It was so worth it. If you notice there are some smudges of filling in my slice, that's from Chris' finger.  

Happy 4th of July. 

Sour Cherry Pie

4-5 cups sour cherries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. lemon zest 
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 tbs. butter
5 tbs. flour or 1/4 cup quick cooking tapioca
pinch of salt

Wash and remove stems from the cherries. Using a chopstick remove the pits by poking the bottom of the cherry and pushing the pit out the top. This takes about two baseball innings. You can put the cherries in the fridge overnight or start you pie right away. To make the filling, combine the sour cherries with all their juices, and the sugar in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Cook about five minutes. Add the lemon zest, almond extract and a pinch of salt and then sift the flour into the bubbling mixture one tablespoon at a time until its all been incorporated and thickens. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature or chill in the fridge. When cool, pour into a 9" unbaked pie shell (see below), top with a lattice crust (or crumb topping) and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, and then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 20-25 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

my filling got a little runny when I baked it and I think I'll try tapioca next time, but I leave it to you, let me know how it turns out.

Two Crust Pie Crust

3 cups flour
1/2 cup frozen lard or shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. salt
4 tbs. ice water
lightly beaten egg whites or heavy cream

Combine the flour and salt and cut the lard and butter into the flour with the back of a fork or a pastry cutter until small crumbs form. Add the ice water and gently mix until the pastry begins to come together but is still crumbly. Divide in half and roll out the bottom crust on a lightly floured surface. Line a 9" pie plate with the bottom crust. 

To make a lattice top, roll out the second crust and with a knife slice the dough into long, 1 inch wide strips. Pour the pie filling into the pie plate. Lay the center, and longest, strip of lattice onto the center of the pie. Then use every other strip of lattice to lay on either side of the center piece so they are all running in the same direction. Repeat this process by criss crossing the remaining strips at a ninety degree angle, starting from the center working out, like the picture above.

To crimp the edges, tuck the top and bottom crusts under each other all the way around the lip of the plate and using your left thumb and pointer finger on the edge of the crust, press your right thumb into the pastry towards your left fingers to make a little indentation. 

Brush with egg whites or heavy cream and bake.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Chickpea Chole

Knowing how to open a wine bottle with a sommelier knife is hot.

When I lived in Paris, during my junior year abroad, my friends Ciara, Esra and I became regulars at  Bar du Marche, located down the street from my apartment in the sixth arrondissement. There were several reasons we returned night after night to this gem of a cafe, and the first was the popcorn and olives they placed in little earthenware dishes on each table in the evening. On a student's budget, along with a glass of Bordeaux, that was almost a meal. 

Being situated not far from Les Deux Magots and Cafe de Flore, both huge tourist magnets, Bar du Marche was slightly off the beaten path, on the narrow and winding Rue de Seine, with thankfully, nary a tourist in sight. Our second reason for loving this place. 

The interior had all the charm of an artists cafe, that artists still actually went to, we knew all the regulars including the owner, and despite having had many a formidable French teacher over the years, I never really began to learn the language until the night I first sat at the bar and got chatted up by the frenchman to my left. Flowing wine, low lighting and a stranger are the best ways to expand your vocabulary. In fact I think there are two types of people, those who learn languages in a classroom and those who learn in a bar. I quickly discovered, I am the latter.

But Bar du Marche might be just another cafe among cafes if not for the waiters. They are all artists, you just know it, and no pretty boys here. They wear a uniform of muted, multicolored painters overalls, and page boys caps which, trust me, is very masculine. They are super professional yet have a nice sense of humor, and most fetching of all they can open a bottle of wine with a sommelier knife before you've even finished ordering it, and have the first glass poured. If there were corkscrew competitions like food eating competitions, these guys would kick some derriere. They must screw open about a thousand bottles a day.

I was never very good at this kind of opener until Chris and I decided to downsize and live in our small room. He had an old, rusty sommelier knife that takes up about as much room as a pocket knife, and my wing corkscrew had just busted a wing so the decision made itself. I was to learn to use one of these things, and with a little practice, I did.

Then a few months ago I volunteered to pour wine at a benefit, and as the guests started to pour out of the theater, there was a panic among the volunteers. Cases and cases of wine sat unopened on the floor behind the bar, there was only one corkscrew, a sommelier knife, and noone knew how to use it, except me. Invoking my inner Bar du Marche I swiftly pried ten or fifteen corks from their bottlenecks until a few wing corkscrews were found and we all settled into a nice rhythm of pop, pour, serve.

I like to be able to do things, hang a picture properly, julienne some carrots, shine my own shoes, and now, use a sommelier knife with ease. Besides, it's kind of hot, don't you think?

In the spirit of doing things yourself I made this delicious and very inexpensive chickpea dish with dried chickpeas that I rehydrated myself. It was the first time I've done this and I will never go back. They are so delicious and with a little planning, quite easy. And, they go perfectly with a little rice and a nice, cold glass of white wine. Here is a recipe by Meg Jansz from Curries.

Chickpea Chole
3 tbs. vegetable oil (or I like coconut)
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
4 tsp. ground cumin
1 tbs. ground coriander
2 tsp. chili powder (cayenne)
1 tsp. tumeric
2 x 14oz. cans of chickpeas, drained (or once cup dried chickpeas, makes 2 cups)
1 x 13oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1-2 tbs. lime juice
4 tbs. torn cilantro
to garnish:
3 sprigs cilantro
1/2 red onion, sliced

Heat oil, add onion, garlic and ginger, cook 5 min. Stir in cumin, coriander, chili powder and tumeric. Cook 2 minutes. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, sugar and salt to taste (about 1/2 a teaspoon), cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Stir in 1 tbs. lime juice and cilantro leaves. Season with more lime juice or salt if needed. Garnish with the cilantro and onion.

Serve over rice.

Rehydrating Chickpeas

Buy a bag of dried chickpeas, organic preferably. Before you go to bed, measure out one cup peas to four cups water into a bowl and let soak overnight. They will turn from hard little stones to plump little chickpeas by the time you wake up in the morning (pictured below). Change the water and let them continue to soak until two hours before dinner. When you get home from work, change the water once again and simmer for two hours or until they have lost their crunch and are nice and tender. You can do the prep work for the chole, or whatever dish you are making that night, while they cook. The chole takes about twenty minutes to cook and dinner is served. This would be a fun thing to do with children as it is quite magical to see the transformation.