Red lentil and chana dal

March 4, 2021 at 10:05 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Beans, From a friend, Indian)

My sister told me recently that she tried one of the chana dal recipes on this blog and she wasn’t too impressed. She said it was okay, but it just wasn’t right somehow. So when a friend of mine (Satnam Singh) posted his own red lentil and chana dahl recipe on Facebook, we decided to give it a try. Satnam said the recipe is based on one this his mom (Dalip Kaur) makes, but he modified it a bit based on the Tadka dal recipe in the Bombay Brasserie cookbook. We made it (albeit with much less chili powder than called for) and enjoyed it. Alma, predictably, wouldn’t touch it.

Satnam gave me permission to share it on my blog. Below I’ve modified his recipe to use typical American spelling and terms. 


  • 300g masoor dal (peeled and split red lentils)
  • 150g chana dal (split gram)
  • 3 tsp. turmeric 
  • 2 tsp. chili powder (Indian, not Mexican!)
  • 2 ½ tsp. fine salt
  • 8.5 cups water
  • fresh cilantro to garnish
  • Frozen curry leaves (optional)


  • 4 Tbsp. oil
  • 4 large onions (about 1.2 kg), chopped 
  • 2 tsp. whole cumin seeds 
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed or chopped
  • 1 cm ginger, chopped
  • 4 green chilis, seeded and chopped (optional, we used 2 jalapenos without seeds)
  • 4 tsp. Kashmiri chili powder (we couldn’t find any Kashmiri chili powder, plus the dal was spicy enough for us, so we just omitted this!)
  • 4 tomatoes, coarsely chopped or a 400g can of chopped tomatoes (total weight should be 400g, not drained weight)


  1. Mix masoor dal, chana dal, turmeric, chili powder, salt, and water in a large (4 to 5 quart) pot. Bring to a boil. This takes about 10 minutes on a large burner.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low (3 of 9 on my stove) with lid slightly ajar. Simmer vigorously until the liquid is absorbed and the chana dal is breaking down. Stir occasionally to avoid the dal sticking to the bottom of the pot. This takes approximately 50 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, chop your garlic, ginger, chili peppers, and onion.
  4. Heat the oil in a frying pan. When hot add the cumin seeds and fry until they crackle.  Add garlic and continue frying, stirring occasionally until the aroma of cooked garlic is evident. 
  5. Add the onion and continue frying on medium until the onion soft, very lightly browned around the edges, and starting to become sweet (but not caramelized).
  6. Stir in the green chillies, ginger and chilli powder and continue frying for 1.5 minutes. 
  7. Stir in the tomatoes. 
  8. Pour tempering over lentils and stir. 
  9. Mix in the cilantro leaves. Garnish with a few dried red chilies if you’re trying to impress your date.

Note: Satnam says he doesn’t bother to rinse the dal—he just checks it for stones. He also doesn’t bother to skim the foam off the top when it comes to a boil. He said you can omit the tomatoes if you want—his Mom doesn’t use them. The tomatoes are inspired by the Tadka Dal recipe from the Bombay Brasserie cookbook (a cookbook written by the the chef at a fancy Indian restaurant in London). He said they add raw chopped fresh tomatoes at the end, but lightly blended canned tomatoes are a fine substitute. Satnam advises that if you want to freeze the dal, not to add the tempering. Instead, make and add the tempering for each batch of lentils when they are needed.

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Hungarian sour cherry soup

July 25, 2010 at 12:06 pm (breakfast, B_minus (2.5 stars), Dessert, From a friend, Fruit, Jewish, soup, Summer recipes)

When I was in Israel last summer my friend made her Hungarian grandmother’s cold fruit soup.  It was definitely quite different than any soup I’ve ever made.  The soup was refreshing, with a nice balance of sweet and sour, but with some heft from the yogurt and eggs.  I wanted to make it this summer and so I emailed her and asked her for the recipe.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Passover apple nut cake

April 12, 2009 at 9:41 am (B_minus (2.5 stars), Cake, Dessert, From a friend, Jewish)

A friend made this Passover apple nut cake many years ago, and I remember it being huge and fluffy and delicious.  I asked her for the recipe, but never got around to making it.  Finally, almost ten years later, I came across the recipe scribbled on a piece of paper, and decided to give it a try for Passover. Read the rest of this entry »

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Light Homemade Soy Mocha Frappucino

July 3, 2008 at 11:03 am (Beverage, From a friend, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk, unrated)

My little sister made this refreshing beverage for me this morning.  It’s her vegan homemade version of Starbucks’s mocha frappucino light.

  • rounded tsp. instant coffee into half mug of boiling water
  • 7 large ice cubes
  • 1/3 cup homemade, light, unsweetened soymilk or soymilk from an asian market
  • 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa
  • 3-4 tsp. sugar, to taste

Blend, and enjoy.

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Portobello Wellington with Cashew Gravy

December 29, 2006 at 4:51 am (From a friend, To try)

My friend Shakti gave me this recipe. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m putting it here for safe keeping. The notes are all hers.

Portabello Wellington
Here’s a really easy and ellegant Portabello Mushroom dish. I entered in a recipe contest 10 years ago and it won 2nd place. ) Originally I had made it with puff pastry but the calorie count is much better with phyllo dough. It’s a great entree to serve for your vegetarian friends. ~ Shakti’s recipe box. )

1 package phyllo dough
4 portabello mushrooms med-large
10-12 button mushrooms
1 inch green onion
1-2 cloves garlic
1 T or less of olive oil
1/4 cup pecans
Pinch of salt

Olive oil for brushing between layers

1. Place button mushrooms in food processor, along with garlic, salt, green onion and pecans. Blend until mealy looking. Add olive oil and pulse a couple of times but don’t make it too pasty.
2. Working very efficiently and delicately remove the phyllo from the wrapper. Have a moist towel to place on top of unworked pieces to keep damp and not dry out. Cut the phyllo in the center of the entire package. (This is not frozen anymore by the way)
3. Put the filling inside each portabello cap and cut in half.
4. Take 3 pieces of phyllo at a time. The first piece goes on the surface and with a pastry brush swipe with olive oil. Add another layer and then add more olive oil and one more layer. Take 1/2 a mushroom and put it at the end in front of you. Wrap it up and tuck sides under. Seam side down goes in baking dish.
5. Wrap all 8 mushrooms.
6. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
7. Bake uncovered on cookie sheet or baking dish for 20-25 min (or until golden brown). Brush final with a little more olive oil.

*For presentation I like to wrap each one with a chinese long bean (steamed) and tie it in a knot.

Serve with Cashew Gravy. Recipes as follows.

2 cups water
1/2cup raw cashews, ground to meal first
2 T arrowroot powder
2 T oil
1/2 tsp spike or sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
2-3 T bragg’s liquid aminos (or tamari)
1 T parsley, minced

Blend gravy ingredients smooth in blender. Pour into saucepan. Stir constantly over high heat until thickened. Pour over mushrooms individually.

Portabello Wellington
Serving Size: 1 serving
Calories 172
Total Fat 14.9g
Saturated Fat 1.9g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 49mg
Carbohydrate 8.3g
Dietary Fiber 1.6g
Sugars 1.6g
Protein 3.5g
Vitamin A 2% Vitamin C 5%
Calcium 1% Iron 5%

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June’s Bran Muffins

November 14, 2006 at 6:36 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Dessert, From a friend, Muffins and quick breads, Quick weeknight recipe)

This bran muffin recipe is rich, dense, and filling. It’s from my friend June, and all the notes below are hers.

The basic bran mix is a “refrigerator” muffin mix, given to my mom by a dear friend years ago. You can bake off what you want. It’ll keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks, and lends itself easily to different added ingredients, which keeps it interesting. Also the muffins freeze beautifully once baked. I use all organic ingredients, except the buttermilk, as I haven’t been able to find that organic yet.

Make 26-27 muffins

Dry Ingredients:
3 cups bran (I usually do 1.5 raw wheat bran and 1.5 oat bran)
.25 cup wheat germ
1 t. salt
1 cup white flour
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 c. soy flour
2.5 t. baking soda

Wet Ingredients:
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup honey
.5 cup blackstrap molasses
.5 cup oil

Optional (barely): 1 cup raisins (I always put these in unless I know I am going to want to make the banana variety, in which I don’t like the raisins. If I am going to make the banana muffins, I take that batter out, set it aside and add the appropriate amount of raisins to the remainder)

Mix the dry together with a whisk. Mix the wet ingredients together. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until combined.

Portion size = 2.5 oz batter per muffin

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.


Zucchini Muffins
22oz bran muffin mixture (with raisins…mmm)
8 oz shredded zucchini
1.5 t. dried lemon peel

This zucchini version yields a much lighter, moister, and less sweet muffin, but still pretty satisfying.

Carrot Cake Muffins
22oz bran muffin mixture (again raisins…mmmmmmm)
8oz shredded carrot
1 t. cinnamon
Pearl sugar or any coarse sugar to sprinkle on top before baking. Cinnamon sugar works too.

Banana Walnut Muffins
22 oz bran muffin mixture
8oz banana
1/2 to 1 cup walnuts (I really like walnuts…)

Notes: Don’t be afraid to experiement. If you want more banana go for it, just remove another ounce or two of muffin mix and add in some more banana. This batter is pretty darn forgiving.

My Notes:

These muffins turned out larger than the AMA recipe I’ve used before. They’re slightly less salty (a good thing) and slightly sweeter tasting. They’re also much more substantial seeming and more filling, which is great, but I don’t understand it because the stats are pretty similiar (see below). I will make these again, and I might consider adding some ginger or other spice as well. A tip: measure the oil first in a 1/2 cup measure, then use that cup to dole out the molasses and honey.

Rating: B+

These muffins:


The AMA muffins I posted before:


The major difference is that this recipe has slightly more bran, plus has wheat germ and soy flour, and double the honey. Finally, it uses all baking soda (no powder).

I improvised a version of these muffins, but they came out way too wet, and the flavor is a bit muddy.  I think I had too much liquid, and I didn’t cook them long enough.  They dried out a bit after sitting overnight, and despite their weaknesses they still called to me.  Derek couldn’t stand them though.

  • 1.25 cups bran (should have stuck with 1.5 cups)
  • 1/8 cup wheat germ (I’d omit this next time)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup white flour (should have used 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup wheat flour (should have used 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda (I’d increase this to 2 tsp.)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder (I’d decrease this to 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 ounces grated carrot
  • 4 ounces chopped apple (with peel)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ginger

Here are three recipes from Cook’s Illustrated (I have no idea why they thought they needed 3 different recipes–isn’t their philosophy that there exists one perfect recipe for every dish?).  They say too much bran produces a dry, crumbly muffin, too little and you don’t really have a bran muffin anymore.  The right proportion of bran to flour turned out to be 1 to 1. Because these muffins can easily overcook, baking time is also crucial. If a few moist crumbs cling to a toothpick withdrawn from the center of a muffin, they’re done.

Makes about 20 muffins

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons, (see illustrations below)
4 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup light brown sugar plus 2 tablespoons, packed firm
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon maple extract
1 1/2 teaspoons butter extract (or flavoring)
3 large eggs , lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup toasted wheat germ
1 cup wheat bran (not the cereal)
1/2 cup whole dates ,plumped with scalding water, drained, and coarsely chopped
1 cup dark raisins , plumped with scalding water and drained

And a second one, makes 12 muffins:

1 1/4 cups  bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup  whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoons  baking powder
1/2 teaspoon  baking soda
3/4 teaspoon  table salt
1 1/4 teaspoons  ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon  ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon  fresh grated nutmeg
7 tablespoons  unsalted butter , softened
1/2 cup  dark brown sugar plus 2 additional tablespoons
2 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons  vanilla extract
3 tablespoons  unsulphured molasses
1/4 cup  sour cream
1 cup  buttermilk plus 3 additional tablespoons
1 1/2 cups  wheat bran
1 cup  raisins

And the most recent recipe, makes 12 muffins:

1 cup raisins
1 tsp. water for plumping the raisins
5 ounces All-Bran Original cereal
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (6 1/4 ounces)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (2 1/2 ounces),
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar (4 2/3 ounces)
3 tablespoons mild molasses (or light)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), melted and cooled
1 3/4 cups plain whole-milk yogurt

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Warm Apple Compote

October 30, 2006 at 4:42 am (breakfast, B_minus (2.5 stars), Dessert, From a friend, Fruit, Quick weeknight recipe, Sauce/dressing)

My friend Shakti gave me this recipe. She said it’s “really, really good.”

3 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 cup apple juice
2 Tbs maple syrup or sucanat
1 tsp minced orange zest
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt

In a large non reactive saucepan, combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces to a light syrup, about 15 min.. Serve warm. Store in airtight container in fridge up to 4 days.

Makes 2 cups.

My notes:

This is kind of like a spicy, soupy applesauce. Of course, I didn’t peel the apples since I love the peels. I’m not sure it needed the maple syrup–apples and apple juice are sweet enough I think. I thought the ginger in this recipe overpowered the other flavors a bit, although maybe I mismeasured. I think if I make it again I may just use 1-1.5 tsp. of minced ginger. I didn’t have an orange so I threw in some dried orange peel. I also used cider instead of regular apple juice. I enjoyed this with some plain yogurt, but in the end I’m not sure I liked it all that much more than my simple peel-delicious applesauce with cinnamon.

Rating: B

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Vegan Key Lime Pie

August 26, 2006 at 7:13 am (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Dessert, From a friend, Pies and custards, Silken tofu, Soymilk)

I’ve never been a big fan of key lime pie, but my friend Ben’s girlfriend Deanna brought this vegan pie for dessert a few weeks ago, and I thought it was excellent. It has such a strong lime flavor, I couldn’t believe it only had 4 Tbs. of lime juice. After making lemon bars, I expected it to have about a cup! Deanna is a professional vegan baker, but she didn’t invent the recipe. In looking for the source of this recipe, I found it on the web, and the page said it was created by Jannequin Bennett, chef at the Jefferson Hotel. Read the rest of this entry »

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Simple Lentil Soup

June 5, 2006 at 7:08 am (Beans, Beans and greens, C (2 stars, okay, edible), Dark leafy greens, From a friend, Quick weeknight recipe, soup)

My friend Sara gave me this recipe for a very simple lentil soup.

Bring to a boil:
2 cups french lentils (I used whole red lentils)
1 head garlic, chopped

4-5 cups grated carrots
curry powder to taste (I used 2 tsp. homemade curry powder)
salt to taste (I used 1 tsp. salt)

Simmer until tender.

Sara adds: When I’m reheating for meals, I’ll add some kind of green like chard or spinach.

My notes: My 2 cups lentils made about 8 big bowls of soup, about 9-10 cups of lentils and broth. It cooked surprisngly quickly. I tasted it last night when I was starving and it’s simple tasting but it really hit the spot. This morning I quickly sauteed a small bunch of collards on high heat with a bit of water, then added the soup. It’s pretty plain, but tastes good. I know Derek would say it’s bland but it’s pretty fast and easy to make and very healthy (especially with the greens) so I might keep this recipe around and make it again just for myself. I could probably add chipotle powder to his and he’d like it 🙂

Rating: B-

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Oat Flax Currant Cookies

May 7, 2006 at 5:51 am (B_minus (2.5 stars), Cookies, Dessert, From a friend)

3My friend gave me this wheat, dairy, egg, cane-sugar free cookie recipe. She said they’re allergen free (except for the nuts), but not taste-free. She claims they’re superb out of the oven, but even better the next day.

1/2 cup hot water (not boiling)
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup safflower oil (I used canola)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring (I used extract)
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup unsulfured currants
1 cup brown rice flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8-1/2 tsp. cardamom powder (I used 1/3 tsp.)
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees.
2. Heat up 1/2 cup of filtered water. Do not boil it. In a small dish add flax seeds and cover with water. Let sit until ready to use.
3. In a bowl add oil, maple syrup and vanilla and mix together.
4. In another bowl combine oats, walnuts, currants and brown rice flour.
5. To the dry mix add cinnamon, baking powder, cardamom and salt.
6. Pour oil mixture into the dry and fold until well blended. The flax seeds by now should look like egg white texture (gelatinous). Pour the flax seeds into the batter and with a mixer or hand blender combine and blend until it begins to get lighter in color and mixes altogether. If you need to add more water it’s okay. (It will have an appearance of goop.)
7.Spoon or scoop with an ice cream scooper the batter on an ungreased cookie sheet. These make very good large cookies. Small too, but if you want a big cookie this will be a success. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top and brown on bottom. Let cool completely. Flavor is enhanced overnight if there are any left.

The batter freezes well also. I use an ice cream (large one or small) and scoop it and place on a cookie sheet and freeze. Than put in tupperware and pull out any time you want to cook some.

My notes: the batter was suprisingly wet, much more so than a typical cookie batter. I made 16 very small cookies, and 7 large cookies in the second batch. On a first taste right out of the oven I found the cookies not very sweet, but not terribly nutty tasting either. The texture from the oats and flax seeds was quite nice, but I thought the cookies were a bit greasy tasting. I wonder if really emulsifying the flax and oil and maple syrup together rather than just stirring with a spoon would reduce the greasiness? The thing I liked least about the cookies was that they didn’t get crispy. The larger ones almost had the texture of muffins it seems. Perhaps by reducing the liquid slightly and making the batter less wet these would crisp up more. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously liked these because in the end I ended up eating about half the batch, and probably would have eaten all of them if I hadn’t sent them home with Derek!

Derek liked the texture, especially that they were a bit greasy, but thought they were somewhat bland.

Rating: B
Derek: B-

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Burdock carrot slaw (B)

April 29, 2006 at 7:26 pm (B_minus (2.5 stars), East and SE Asia, From a friend, Quick weeknight recipe, Vegetable dishes)

This recipe is originally from the Harmony Valley Farms CSA in Viroqua, Wisconsin. The friend who gave it to me said you have to let it sit for at least four hours for the flavors to blend and so the acid “cooks” the burdock. She said letting it sit a whole day ahead is even better.

The Vegetables:
1 cup burdock, scrubbed well, julienned
1/2 cup peeled carrot, julienned
2 Tbs. green onion or shallot, minced
1 tsp. sesame seeds, lightly toasted

The Marinade:
4 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice vinegar
2 Tbs honey

Sprinkle seeds over chopped veggies and toss with marinade. Chill 4 hours . Serves 4 – 6.

My notes: I used ume vinegar rather than soy sauce since I’m not eating soy right now, but otherwise followed the recipe, except I missed the part about letting it sit for at least 4 hours. Oops! And I ate the whole recipe (4-6 servings? I thought more like 2 servings. I guess it depends on how you measure a cup of burdock. I think a weight measurement might be useful in this case.) Anyhow, this was the first time I’d made a recipe with raw burdock, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was quite crunchy but not at all tough, and I loved the flavor of the raw burdock and carrot together. I liked the dressing as well but found it too sweet. I think one Tbs. honey would have been plenty. But maybe with soy sauce it would have been more balanced.

Rating: B

Update Sept 2007: Today I put in 9 ounces of burdock (about 4 cups julienned), 7 ounces of carrots (about 2 cups grated), 10 Tbs. green onion (about 3 large), 4 tsp. sesame seeds, 3 Tbs. soy sauce, 3 Tbs. sesame oil, 4 tsp. rice vinegar, and 1 Tbs. honey.

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Southwestern Quinoa Salad (B)

April 28, 2006 at 3:09 pm (Beans, B_minus (2.5 stars), From a friend, Grains, Quick weeknight recipe)

A friend gave me this recipe which is very loosely adapted from a rice salad in the Joy of Cooking. It’s similar to the quinoa salad recipe in Berley’s cookbook, but a bit simpler. Once I tasted it I knew instantly that Derek would love it. It’s nutty and very cumin-y. Indeed, he loves it.

Southwestern Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa
1.5 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup pine nuts (I often use pepitas)
1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatoes (I use dry not oil packed)
1 red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon cumin
dried red pepper flakes to taste

Combine the quinoa, salt and water in a pot. Bring it to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cover. Simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat as soon as it’s done–don’t let it sit covered on a still-warm burner like you would with brown rice.

While the quinoa is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan. Chop and measure all the other ingredients into a big serving or mixing bowl, and then mix the warm quinoa into all the other ingredients. Be careful not to overcook the quinoa though!

My friend’s notes:

-Quinoa varies. Some needs to be rinsed first, to remove the natural bitter coating. Some doesn’t. The good news is, if you don’t rinse and it comes out bitter, you can just rinse the cooked grains and they’ll be fine.

-We actually cook quinoa in our rice cooker, and it comes out great. Same water-to-quinoa ratio.

-I like this best after I let it sit for a while, to let the flavors blend, but you can serve it right away. It also makes excellent leftovers, and I often take it for lunch and eat it cold.

-I tend to like strong flavors. If you want a milder dish, soak the chopped onion in a mixture of salt, water, and vinegar (about as salty as tears, and about 1/4 vinegar by volume). After a 20-minute soak, rinse them well, and they’ll be much milder. You can also saute the garlic instead of using it raw, and skip the red pepper flakes.

-This is very festive and pretty, so it makes a good veggie holiday dish.

My notes:

The Tablespoon of cumin sounds like a lot but it’s correct. It’s not too cumin-y, don’t worry. I found the onions tasty when I ate it right away, but by the next day they were way too strong for me.

The water to quinoa measurement seems a bit low, but it works well. The quinoa comes out a bit more chewy and al dente than normal, which is great for this salad. No need to toast the quinoa beforehand.

I like to replace the pine nuts with pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds), which are also delicious, but cheaper, and are a great source of iron.

I gave this recipe to my mom and she was hesitant because she said it had “weird ingredients”, but once she made it she liked the flavor as well, although it doesn’t sound like she’d make it again.

Derek likes this recipe a lot, but only hot or warm. He does not like it room temperature or cold.

Update Dec 2006: I made this using Israeli couscous instead of quinoa. I couldn’t find the ratio of water/couscous anywhere, so I just boiled it like pasta until al dente. It turns out that one cup of Israeli couscous makes more than one cup of quinoa. Again, though, I could not find the yield for Israeli couscous anywhere on the web. If you know please post a comment and enlighten me. The salad was fine with the couscous, but I prefer the quinoa version.

Rating: B

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Steel cut oatmeal with figs and cardamom

April 28, 2006 at 9:18 am (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), breakfast, From a friend, Grains, Moosewood, Quick weeknight recipe)

I’ve never been a big oatmeal fan, and when I do eat oats I generally eat rolled oats because they’re fast. But everyone’s been telling me to try steel cut oats instead (also known as irish oats). So I decided to try this recipe my friend sent me, from the cookbook Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

Serves Four

1 cup irish or steel-cut oats
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 Tbs. vegetable oil or butter (I used 4 tsp. canola)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 – 1 cup chopped dates or figs (I used 6 turkish figs)


In a 2-4 quart saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, lightly toast the steel cut oats in a saucepan with a little oil (put the heat on medium), just until there is a subtle color change to golden brown. This enhances the nutty flavor and chewy, satisfying texture of the oats.

Once the oats are toasted, add them to the water, reduce the heat to medium and cook them uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (don’t stir TOO often or you compromise the texture). I like to set my timer for 20 minutes and stir at the 10 and 5 minute warnings, and at 2 minute til.

In the meantime, chop the dates or figs. Cook the chopped figs or dates in 1/2 cup water. Let them come to a low boil and then simmer for another ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ground cardamom once the fruit is simmering. After ten minutes, the figs or dates should have softened and the water reduced nearly to a glaze or thick paste. Add a little more water during the cooking process if needed. Once the figs/dates are softened to your liking, remove from heat and add the vanilla extract. (I like to wait to start chopping the figs until the oats have been cooking for ten minutes, since I don’t really need to be around for those first ten minutes. I can do the -5 and -2 minute stirs while I’m chopping, then I get the figs to a simmer about the same time I turn the oats down to low, and I can stir the oats and the figs at the same time.)

After the oatmeal has cooked for 20 minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low, add the salt and cook uncovered for another 10 minutes, stirring more frequently to make sure the oats don’t stick to the pot.

Remove the oats from the heat and stir in the date or fig mixture. Allow to stand another 3 minutes before serving.

My notes

A quarter of the recipe is probably enough to fill me up, but I must say I still wanted to eat more.

The texture is excellent, way better than my normal rolled oats I make. And I really like the texture and flavor of the figs in it. The cardamom, however, I could taste in only a few bites. I think maybe it didn’t mix well, and stuck to just a few of the figs. What would happen if I added it to the oats instead of the figs? Also, I found it just a bit too salty. Maybe next time I’ll try a heaping 1/8 tsp.

These reheat well in the microwave (and possibly on the stovetop too, although I have to check). You may have to add a little water though. However, when I ate the second half, reheated in the micowave, it wasn’t salty at all. Maybe I just didn’t mix my salt well and it all ended up in the other half. It also tasted less sweet…

Also a few questions from the laziest cook in the world, who never met a shortcut she didn’t like:

1) Why are the figs cooked separately? How would it be different if you just threw them in for the last ten minutes with the salt?

2) Couldn’t we just throw the cardamom it in at the beginning too? Does something happen to it when it hits boiling water?

Update May 06, 2006: The salt level seems fine when I use coarse kosher salt, but I’ve taken to adding the salt when I add the oats to the water to ensure that it gets mixed well. I’ve also started adding more cardamom and vanilla, between 1/2 tsp. and 3/4 tsp. each. This recipe is definitely better with the full 1 cup of figs, although even with 1 cup it’s still not particularlly sweet. Derek added about 1/2 Tbs. maple syrup to his. 3/4 figs is all right too, and lower calorie, but not quite as decadent tasting. Derek says this recipe is great.

Rating: B
Derek: A

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Sunflower seed milk

April 28, 2006 at 9:10 am (C (2 stars, okay, edible), From a friend, Quick weeknight recipe)

I had a jar of sunflower seeds sitting on my counter forever, and my friend Shakti suggested I try making sunflower seed milk. She said to blend 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds in the blender to a powder, then add 2 cups of water and blend some more. It was a bit gritty but not gritty enough to go through the trouble of straining it. I’m not a big sunflower seed fan, but I found the “milk” surprisingly refreshing.

I tried using it for a smoothie, and added 3/4 cup frozen raspberries and some vanilla, but the combination wasn’t good. The flavors didn’t really go and the raspberry seeds made it even more gritty. What would be a better combination?

Rating: B-

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Uruguayan Apple Beet Salad

March 30, 2006 at 9:48 pm (C (2 stars, okay, edible), From a friend, Mexican & S. American, Salads)

My friend Adriana (who is from Uruguay) made this salad for me a few times, and I always enjoyed it, but figured it was very high calorie. But I was looking for some new ideas for beets and asked her for the recipe, and with a few modification it actually seemed like it would be reasonably healthy, so I decided to try it.

  • About 5 large cooked beets
  • 1 green apple
  • 4 boiled eggs
  • 1/2 onion
  • Salt/pepper
  • Mayonnaise
  • Fresh mint (optional)

Adriana’s instructions:  Cut the beets, apple and eggs in little cubes of about 6mm x 6mm. The onion needs to be a bit smaller. Maybe about 3mmx3mmm. Once you have the beets, apple, eggs and onion all in the bowl, you add a bit of salt and pepper (I like to add mint, but my mom’s recipe doesn’t really call for it). Finally, you add a touch of mayonnaise. You mix it all up and put it in the fridge before serving. It normally tastes better the next day.

My Notes

I didn’t have any mayonnaise, and rather than making soy mayonnaise I actually made my own egg mayonnaise in the food processor. I think it turned out okay, but what do I know about mayonnaise?I put in fewer eggs then the recipe called for, but still I liked the beet salad pretty well. Eggs and beets go surprisingly well together. Derek, however, wasn’t excited by it. He said maybe if I’d put in all the eggs and more mayonnaise… The crisp, tart apple was excellent, especially in contrast to the soft sweet beets. When I make this again I think I’d use two apples instead of one. I did have some problems with the onion, however. I liked the “kick” it gave the salad since the rest of the seasoning was pretty mild, but the onion made the salad too hot, especially the next day–that onion’s bite was a mite too big. Maybe if I blanched or soaked the onion first? Or used scallions instead?

Rating (with my modifications): B-
Derek (with my modifications): C

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