Arabic Lentil Soup and Baked Pita Chips

After reading my last post, everyone kept asking me about the magical Arabic lentil soup that was  nutritious, great tasting, easy to make, and kid approved. In addition to making the soup, I have found myself cooking several Arabic dishes lately, because so many of them have these wonderful qualities. Sometimes I go through phases of cooking one type of cuisine. Currently I am in my Arabic phase. I’m finding Arabic food is the perfect blend of the spices of the east and the flavors of the west.

My first cooking phase was Indian food. As much as I loved the amazing spicy flavors and healthy veggies I was cooking, I was annoyed at all the steps and subsequent work that went in to making just one dish. All the chopping and mincing was even more difficult with two toddlers running around. I tried some shortcuts such as freezing 1 tablespoon portions of garlic and ginger pastes in an ice tray, so I could just pop them into the dish I was making, or plan my meals ahead so I could soak, chop, and marinate in advance.  But for a tired  unorganized spontaneous mother of two boys, advance planning did not always happen. So I figured it was time to switch cuisines.

I then moved on to western food which was easier to prepare, but often lacked the bold flavors my palette was accustomed to. I generally like things on the spicier side, and often in western cuisine there just wasn’t enough…spice. Sometimes the only seasoning would be salt and pepper and maybe lemon zest. So I found myself constantly altering recipes by either tripling the garlic, grating in more ginger, or adding cayenne or cumin or even Sri Racha.

Then I discovered cooking Arabic food. Although I had been eating it for years, I never made any Arabic dishes at home. I soon found out it is often easy to prepare, easy to clean up as many dishes can be cooked in one pot, quite healthy, and very tasty as it has enough spices to add a lot of flavor but not a lot of heat to overwhelm the ingredients.

So here is my variation of Arabic lentil soup. I like it heavy on the garlic and spices and veggies, but you can personalize it to your own taste. My kids especially like eating the soup with a dollup of yogurt and sprinkle of zaatar on top, as well as baked pita bread (recipe also below) to dip inside. Feel free to make your own version and let me know how yours turns out!

Arabic Lentil Soup and Baked Pita Chips


INGREDIENTS:
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 green bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
Salt, to taste
1-3 teaspoon Arabic Spices, to taste.  (You can find these in the spices section of the supermarket labeled “Arabic Spices”or “Arabic Masala”. Or check at your local Middle Eastern grocer.)
1 Maggi Chicken or Vegetable stock cube  (You can leave this out but it really tastes better if you add it in!)
2 teaspoons Olive oil
1 cup masoor daal, soaked.  (Soak if possible, but not necessary. It does shorten the cooking time. See picture below for type of masoor daal to use.)

Masoor Daal

SOUP PREPARATION:
1. In a large pot fry onion in olive oil until softened and lightly browned. Add garlic and fry for a couple minutes. Add in carrot, bell pepper, daal, salt, and Arabic spices and saute for a few minutes.
2. Add in about 8 cups of water and bring to boil. Keep cooking until daal is cooked and vegetables are softened. Add more water as needed. Add in Maggi stock cube and make sure is dissolved.
3. After all is cooked, blend with stick blender until smooth. Check salt.

Serves 3-4 people. Serve with Baked Pita Chips (Recipe below) or bread sticks or sliced crusty baguette.
Baked Pita Chips

INGREDIENTS:
5 slices Arabic bread
1 teaspoon Oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt, to taste
Olive oil

PREPARATION:
1. Cut bread into slices and arrange on baking sheet.
2. Brush with olive oil.
3. Sprinkle with oregano, garlic powder, and salt.
4. Bake in oven at 190C for 5 minutes or until crispy. Watch the oven as the pita crisps  and browns pretty quickly.

Vegetable Fried Rice

I could write a novel about the many times my kids have refused to eat what I have cooked. At first I thought their resistance was because the food I was making wasn’t appetizing. (Broccolini and quinoa salad, anyone?). But after careful observation, I have deduced the only reason they won’t eat my food is because they know I am the one making it and they just want to drive me crazy!

This realization became evident during dinner, which was chicken curry and fresh chapattis. Although my kids normally like this meal, this time they did not touch it. Luckily I had also made some vegetable fried rice (or “wice” as my young one calls it). Unfortunately, the wice was denied as well. I was starting to panic as hungry boys become crazy rowdy destructive boys in about 2 seconds, and I had no desire to clean or make anything else. At that moment my phone rang. It was my dear friend calling to say she had made lentil soup and was sending it over for dinner. I knew my kids hate soup but I was desperate.

As the soup arrived I quietly put it in their bowls and waited for their screams of protest. I kept waiting but all I could hear was the sound of soup being slurped down so fast I was afraid they weren’t breathing.
 
Then my older son finally spoke: “Mommy….?” he asked.

Hmmph. Finally a complaint, I thought. But he then said, “Mommy can I have this as my snack at school tomorrow?”

I think to myself:  Ok, let me get this straight. You don’t even like soup and now you want it at school too?? I am fuming.

Then he speaks again:  “Mommy can I have some more? This is soooo good!”

I am still in shock as I am refilling their bowls and giving them some more crusty bread to dip inside. Just then I hear my son singing an impromptu song: “Soup, soup, soup, soup…I love soup!”

My ego was bruised and I was pondering where I went wrong in my cooking. But instead of being upset I was happy they had eaten a nutritious meal and actually liked something. My thoughts were interrupted by my two year old who was trying to tell me something. He kept puckering his mouth in an ‘’o’’ position and I thought he was trying to give me a kiss. I was so touched at his sweetness. But then out came the sounds: “sh…shou…shouu…….shouuup!”

I promise I will post the recipe for my friend’s lentil soup soon, as it was delicious and clearly the dinner champion of the evening. But for now you must settle for the runner up, my vegetable fried rice.  It is all my fragile ego can handle.

Vegetable Fried Rice



INGREDIENTS:
Medium pot of cooked rice.  Day old, leftover rice is best.
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic,  finely chopped
1 bunch chopped scallions (both white and green parts)
1 large tomato, chopped and deseeded
Salt, pepper, and chili flakes to taste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2-3 large eggs
1 small bunch chopped coriander,
Lime and cucumber slices for garnish

Note: Can also add any meat of your choice, tofu, or additional veggies such as broccoli or peas

PREPARATION:
1. Heat the oil on high. Add the onion. Stir well and when it’s softened lower heat slightly and add the garlic and sauté for a minute.
2. Add the rice and stir well. Add the tomatoes and mix. (If you are adding any other blanched or steamed veggies add them now)
3. Push the rice to the side of the pan and add a bit more oil. Crack the eggs into the oil and cook. Mix with rice.
4. Add the soy sauce and salt and pepper. Season to taste. Remove from heat.
5. Add most of the scallions and a little cilantro into the rice and mix.  Garnish with the rest of the scallions and coriander, lime, and cucumber slices.

Note: If you are adding meat, cube it and cook it first. Then add into rice at step 4. 

Chocolate Cupcakes and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Having two toddlers in the house is never easy, so when they both started school I was ecstatic that I would finally get a little time off in my day. But I soon realized that their being in school meant I would be assigned a lot of work as well. Every week they have some theme or other that the parents have to scramble around trying to find things for. For example, for Community Helper Day we had to find a fireman costume for my son…which he insisted be complete with hat and hose. Their class also just had Farmer Day to help illustrate their unit learning about living on a farm. (Sadly I found out last minute about Farmer Day and all we had lying around the house were some bandanas so my poor child ended up looking more like a gangster than a farmer).


But the theme days are nothing compared to what we must do for holidays. For Valentine’s Day we had to make handmade valentines for the whole class, make sure the kids wore something pink or red to school, and make some food for their class party. I decided to make cupcakes as I could easily double the recipe and greedily put aside some for myself. Actually I found myself making cupcakes for almost every holiday and class party. Cupcakes are great as they are the perfect size for little hands and versatile so you can decorate them to fit any occasion. Valentine’s Day? Just plop some heart stickers on top. Easter? Just add a chocolate bunny and some jelly bean ”eggs.”  St. Patrick’s Day? Make some green icing! I generally choose the easiest decoration since I am more of a spontaneous (ahem last minute) person, but now with Pinterest and other cooking and baking sites the possibilities are endless! 


Unfortunately  because there is such a plethora of information online and beyond, one can go crazy trying to find the perfect cupcake and buttercream recipe. For me, I prefer a moist cake and a rich but not too sweet buttercream. I always bake with my kids so I needed something easy to make and honestly something that doesn’t take too long to prepare as I prefer to spend my time eating rather than cooking :). 

After extensive googling I found a recipe that met all my needs. It is very easy to make, and uses ingredients that I always have at home, so if I get a last minute cupcake request as I often do, there is no need to go to the store.  One really interesting thing about this recipe is that it uses no eggs or butter and still turns out amazing moist cupcakes! Apparently the recipe is decades old and was from the Great Depression when eggs and butter were too expensive to buy. But today it makes a great option for vegans. I’m sure they must be tortured souls with no butter or eggs in their pastries…I know I would be. 


I have also included a buttercream recipe to frost the cupcakes. I love it because it uses almond extract which keeps the frosting from becoming too sickly sweet. If you don’t like almond extract, use vanilla instead. If you don’t want frosting, the cupcakes taste great on their own or sprinkled with a little powdered sugar too. 

So next time you have a party or somewhere you need to bring cupcakes, instead of going into panic mode or buying ones from the store, make these. It will be a fun activity to share with your kids and even more fun to eat together.  

Chocolate Cupcakes and 
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting


Cupcakes recipe by : Simply Recipes
 CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brewed coffee (or 1 cup of warm water mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons of espresso powder or instant coffee granules)
 *NOTE: If you don’t want to use regular coffee, either use decaf or leave it out completely and use plain water instead. But coffee really makes it taste better!
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 Tablespoon (1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoon) olive oil
METHOD:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Prepare a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
2 .In a large bowl, vigorously whisk or sift together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt until there are no visible clumps (cocoa tends to clump up).
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the coffee (or water plus coffee granules), vinegar, vanilla extract, and olive oil.
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until they just come together. The mixture should be thin and rather lumpy.
5. Ladle the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about two-thirds of the way full. Place in oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a rack. Once cool, you can eat plain, sprinkle with powdered sugar, or drizzle or coat with frosting.

Makes 12-14 standard sized cupcakes.
NOTE: If you want to make this a cake instead of cupcakes, double the recipe and use two 8-inch round cake pans and cook for 35-40 minutes.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting 
Frosting recipe by: Savory Sweet Life
FROSTING INGREDIENTS:
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or ½ pound), softened (but not melted!)
3½ cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon almond extract
4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
METHOD:
1.Cream butter for a few minutes in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Turn off the mixer.
2. Sift 3 cups powdered sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl. Turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients do not blow everywhere) until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the butter.
3.Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla or almond extract, salt, and milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.
Makes 3 cups.

Almond Tea Cake

I just celebrated my birthday in January. It was a month long affair, with dear friends and family showering me with gifts, well wishes, and of course tons of cake .  I really felt happy and blessed to have so many amazing people in my life and I would like to give something back. I have a cake recipe that is so simple to make, so tasty and very forgiving so it’s almost impossible to mess up.

This almond tea cake is delicious and beautiful and perfect for any occasion. I have used it for afternoon tea, baby showers, dinner parties,  and since it takes almost no time to prepare, have even made it on the spot for unexpected guests.

Enjoy! 

Almond Tea Cake

INGREDIENTS:

1 ½ cup Sugar
¾ cup Butter
1 ½ cup Flour
2 Eggs
Pinch of Salt
1 teaspoon Almond Extract
Slivered or Sliced Almonds for garnish

PREPARATION:

1. Melt butter and blend into sugar
2. Mix in eggs, one at a time.
3. Add flour, salt, almond extract and mix well.
4. Line 10” iron skillet with foil (Or just use a round cake tin)
5. Pour batter into pan and top with almonds for garnish
6. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, or check center with toothpick for doneness.

Bhindi Bhaji – Indian Spiced Okra

Happy New Year! 

Another year, another set of resolutions. This year I made very few as I was keen to follow them all year round and thought having only a few easy ones would be the key to my new year resolution success. Sadly, it is not even the end of January and almost all of them have been broken.  

There are three I have and break every year :
  • Eat a healthy diet. (less/no sugar)
  • Drink more water (8 glasses a day)
  • Exercise more (4-5x per week)
I sincerely thought this was my year to achieve them, but it is my birthday this week and since I intend to celebrate it wholeheartedly (gluttonously and tipsy) these 3 will be out the window by the weekend.

But there is some hope. I do have a few resolutions left and definitely one that I intend to keep:  Blog more.  So here we go with my first post of the year, with hopefully many more to come.  

Happy 2013 everyone!
Bhindi Bhaji – Indian Spiced Okra


INGREDIENTS:
1 pound okra trimmed and cut into ½ inch pieces 

NOTE: It is important you get the small short tender okra, not the long hard one. The hard one never tastes as good. I usually find good okra in the organic markets or organic section of the grocery store. If you cannot  find it, perhaps try the Indian grocers.

1 cup chopped onion  (I like to use Indian onions as they are spicier but can use any you prefer)
2-3 teaspoon cooking oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon red chili powder
½  teaspoon salt or to taste
1-2 chopped medium tomatoes

PREPARATION:
1. Saute onion in oil until soft and translucent  on medium high heat(do not brown).
2. Add turmeric, chili and salt.
3. Add tomato and sauté for few minutes until becomes a paste
4. Add chopped bhindi and cook uncovered until soft.  My hubby prefers it quite soft so cook at least 10-15 minutes stirring every couple minutes.

Serve with any Indian bread such as tandoori roti  or paratha. Serves 2.

Vegetable Pakoras with Coriander and Mint Chutney

I remember the day my foodie 3 year old became a food enemy.  Before that day, I smugly grinned while other mothers talked about resorting to feeding their kids plain boiled pasta for days.  I scoffed at Annabel Karmel’s cookbooks that talked about the need for special recipes to feed fussy toddlers. As my kids ate their edamame and chicken satay, I thought I missed out on the picky food phase and even had the nerve to think it was because my superior cooking skills.

But then it happened. I had made a huge meal of vegetable pakoras, chicken curry, and masoor daal. These were things my son had previously eaten and liked. But instead of eating my food, he chose to have raisins and string cheese for dinner. I thought maybe he wasn’t feeling well. The next day I made some chicken nuggets and french fries (both baked but still very yummy) and he didn’t even try them!! Eating habits like that can drive any cook to insanity.

I then thought about how I always ate everything I was given when I was a child. But then slowly, little details began popping up in my mind suggesting otherwise. One example was during a vacation in India with my family. We were on an extensive tour of Jaipur, Agra and Rajasthan and between sightseeing, had dined at many amazing restaurants which offered numerous varieties of delicious food. But no matter what the dish was, for some reason all I wanted to eat were pakoras and Pepsi. Day after day, I turned away many beautiful dishes to the wrath of all servers and family members and was branded an ungrateful wretch.

So much good food to experience but all I could eat were pakoras and Pepsi for 2 weeks! My parents must have been as annoyed with me as I am now when my kids don’t eat what they are supposed to. It’s interesting how life comes full circle.

Vegetable Pakoras with Coriander and Mint Chutney



Ingredients:
3 cups Chickpea Flour (Besan)* Usually found in the Indian section of grocery store
1-2 cups water
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon red chili powder
1 large potato, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
1 bunch green onions, chopped
5 red Indian onions, peeled and cut in long slices
1 bunch coriander (cilantro), chopped
1 bunch spinach, chopped
Vegetable Oil for frying

Preparation:
1. Add first 4 ingredients to create pakora batter. Add additional water as necessary. Mix well in large bowl so batter becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If you are not sure with the consistency, thicker is better than runny. Let sit for 30 minutes.
2. Add all vegetables to batter until well mixed. (The vegetables should be LIGHTLY coated. The vegetables are the stars, not the batter. It may look like the batter is not enough, but as long as there is enough batter to coat all the veggies you will be fine. This light coating ensures crisp pakoras and not heavy soggy oily ones. )
3. Heat oil until hot. Fry pakoras by sprinkling by hand into hot oil. Do not drop a big blob of batter into the pan but instead sprinkle and spread evenly as a thin layer in the oil. Fry until golden brown.
4. Drain on paper towel. Serve warm with coriander and mint chutney.   

Masoor for my Monsieur – Masoor Daal Recipe

A miracle happened today that brought me out of my blogging hiatus. My eternally picky husband who only likes his mother’s cooking complimented my masoor daal! His exact words: “Wow, this tastes just like back home, maybe even better.” I just stared at him in disbelief for a few seconds. After the initial shock wore off, I ran to the computer to instantly document this moment so it would be immortalized forever. My husband has always been my biggest food critic, particularly for desi food, so this was a huge personal achievement.

Indian food had always been a culinary obstacle for me. I guess I never learned how to make it since my mom was an amazing cook and it was always perfect and readily available.  Also I somehow wasn’t interested to learn about turmeric and cardamom with the same zest I wanted to learn about oregano and rosemary which seemed so much more exotic. So I ended up learning to make many international cuisines, but not my own Indian one. But then I met my biggest food critic who only enjoyed eating the one cuisine I couldn’t make!  He was not impressed with my existing culinary arsenal, and I resolved to one day win him over.

After many foodie battles and take-out dinners, I somehow ended up marrying my food adversary. Strangely enough, some well meaning Auntie gave me an Indian cookbook for a wedding present, and it was from that book that I tried making Indian food for the first time. I just followed the recipes blindly and they kept coming out flat. And my personal food critic was always there to point out the flaws.

Looking back, I now realize my weakness was my inability to understand the common Indian spices and how each spice enhanced or affected the taste of the dish. If I wanted to fix the flavor of my dish, whether I needed to add coriander powder, or cut down on the cumin were a mystery to me.  I also realized my ignorance was partly due to my lack of any previous guidance making any desi dishes. In many Indian kitchens (including my home), there is a round metal container, with smaller round containers inside for each individual spice. Whenever a meal is to be made, the matriarch of the family will take out this container and to the untrained eye, just haphazardly throw all the necessary spices into the dish, and before you know it, the dish is done and seasoned beautifully. No matter how many times you observe this phenomenon, you will never learn to cook Indian food this way! Trust me I have tried.

But then I practiced. After a lot of trial and error, I’ve learned quite a bit, and on my way to becoming the lady with my own round metal spice container. But the best measure of my success with Indian food is that my food critic finally gave a glowing review.

Masoor Daal



INGREDIENTS for Daal:
1 cup Masoor Daal , soaked in water for a couple hours.
*If you do not soak daal first, cooking time will be significantly longer, unless you use a pressure cooker to cook daal. My method is for stovetop only.
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon red chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon garlic, grated
1 teaspoon tamarind (imlee) paste – Can be found in most supermarkets or Indian grocers. I used Priya brand

INGREDIENTS For Tadka to add in daal:
1-2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1-2 green chilis
1 cup cilantro, chopped

PREPARATION:
1. Add soaked daal and turmeric, chili, salt, and garlic in a pot with 5 cups water and bring to boil.
2. After boils, partly cover and lower heat and cook until soft.  Add additional water as necessary.
3. When done, mash or blend to desired consistency, (My hubby likes it quite blended) and add tamarind paste until fully incorporated. Set pot aside.
4. Heat oil in separate pan. Add onion and lightly brown. Add cumin seeds, ginger, green chilis and coriander.
5. Fry all together and add to hot daal. Mix.

Serves 2 generously. Serve with basmati rice.

Devilled Eggs

I don’t like eggs. Not runny, not scrambled, not fried, not sunny side up. Yet today was the second time in my life that I found myself faced with a multitude of hard boiled eggs. Last time, I had no idea what to do with them, but this time I was prepared.

My first egg dilemma was when we visited my husband’s village one winter in Punjab. We went to someone’s house for tea. I was pregnant and starving and sitting awkwardly in my salwar kameez. Our host started to pass out some food on a huge platter. When she came to serve me I was shocked to find about 50 perfectly arranged hard boiled eggs. I didn’t want to offend the host, but I definitely didn’t want to eat a plain boiled egg either. So, I just sat there petrified staring blankly. Luckily the chai came and the host moved on to the next person and I was saved from my bad egg etiquette.

Today is the day after Easter. I opened the refrigerator and found all the decorated boiled eggs waiting to be eaten.  I again stared blankly at them but this time no chai appeared to magically whisk them away. These eggs were here to stay unless I did something to them. I quickly scanned the ingredients I had and made some devilled eggs.  They were hella good. 😉

Devilled Eggs



INGREDIENTS:

6 hard boiled eggs, peeled
3-4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (or any you prefer)
Splash of worcestershire sauce
Sriracha hot sauce (or any you prefer)
Smoked paprika for garnish
Chives or green onion, chopped finely for garnish

PREPARATION:

1. Cut boiled and peeled eggs in half. Put all egg yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork.

2. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, worcestershire, sriracha and mix well. Adjust quantities to taste. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

3.  Put all egg yolk mixture in a piping bag and pipe back into the egg white halves. If you don’t have a piping bag, you can just cut a corner off of a Ziploc plastic bag, or just spoon the mixture back into the egg white halves.

4. Garnish with smoked paprika and chives.

The variations of devilled eggs are endless. I just used what I had in my refrigerator, but you can use anything. Be creative! Would love to hear about it!

Fluffy Pancakes

I was invited to my friend’s place for dinner the other day. She doesn’t have kids. She had made enchiladas and I was looking forward to having a leisurely meal without having to worry about flying cutlery or airborne cheese. But I soon realized that certain meal time behaviors had been ingrained in me even though my little ones weren’t there.
I was the first one served, and milliseconds after the first enchilada hit my plate I wolfed the whole thing down, still standing, chewing just long enough so it wouldn’t get lodged in my throat as I quickly swallowed each bite. After a few seconds I looked up to see my friends staring at me in horror.  I wanted to explain to them that I am not this ravenous unmannered ingrate that can’t wait for everyone else to be served before I start eating. I was searching for the words to convey the feeling of never knowing when my one year old will start launching his cheerios off the high chair, or when my 3 year old will finish eating peanut butter with his fingers and then run straight for the white couch.  For these reasons I am often standing alert and ready while eating at the dining table waiting for the next food “attack”. But my friends are not yet parents and they would not understand. So instead, I took another helping and ate very very slowly to overcompensate for my previous gorging and hoped they noticed my flawless fork and knife technique.
I’m not saying every meal I have with my kids is crazy. But there have been enough episodes that have kept me on my toes. So if you are having one of those challenging days, I found the perfect pancake recipe that is really easy and quick to make. More importantly, it has the added bonus of stacking each piece on top of each other which gives the dish added height just in case you have to stand up and eat. 
Fluffy Pancakes


INGREDIENTS:
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
cooking spray
PREPARATION:
1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”.

2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into “soured” milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
(The batter will initially be separated and bubbly, just keep stirring. It will also be pretty thick. This is fine, do NOT add more milk or anything to thin it out.)

3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

Serve with syrup, fresh berries and whip cream, or a fresh fruit puree. 

Easy Broccoli and Spinach Quiche

There is a PQ near my son’s nursery and we often go there for lunch after I pick him up. We have our own little ritual. As we walk in, the negotiations immediately begin.  Rayan wants to eat either a chocolate tart or éclair for lunch. I then attempt to talk him down to something with a bit more nutritional value such as a croissant or blueberry muffin. We then come to a deadlock which is broken by Rayan screaming “Mommmmyyy Peepeeeeee” and then running through the café to the bathroom. Aadam also likes to chime in at this point with a little screech of his own.  

The good thing about the bathroom break is that it serves as a distraction, and I can sneak in my order of a healthier lunch option. Today I ordered the salmon and spinach quiche du jour, and quickly found some seats outside so the eating (flinging) of food could commence.  The quiche was light and fluffly and amazingly more ended up in my kids’ mouths than on the floor. We were soon finished and a small team of waiters was dispatched to clean our table and its surroundings. As waiter no. 1 was removing my plate she said, “Madame tomorrow we are starting our new kids menu.” Waiters nos. 2 and 3 quickly shot her a sharp glance and she knew she had said too much. The last thing they wanted was to give us any more incentive to frequent their restaurant. But luckily for everyone, I have a quiche recipe that is easy to make at home. My kids love it, so I foresee more quiche at home and less at PQ. Although I do love their lemon tart so I cannot stop going there altogether…
Easy Broccoli and Spinach Quiche


INGREDIENTS:
Puff pastry sheet ** OR make own quiche crust. Recipe below.
3 eggs
¾ cup heavy cream
¾ cup whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon oregano
1 large red onion
¾ cup grated emmental (or any cheese you prefer)
1 -2 cloves garlic
1 ½  cup cooked broccoli
½ cup cooked frozen spinach, thawed and drained

PREPARATION:
1.  Roll out puff pastry to line round 9” tin up about 1 ½ inches on sides.

2.  Pulse onion in food processor and add on puff pastry.

3. Pulse broccoli, spinach, and garlic in food processor. Add in oregano, generous amount of fresh pepper and salt to taste (about ¼ tsp salt). Mix well.

4. Layer vegetable mixture on top of onion.

5.  Layer ½ cup cheese on top of vegetable mixture.

6.  In separate bowl mix eggs, milk, cream, and some salt and pepper with electric mixer. Add on top of other items in pan.

7. Top with remaining ¼ cup cheese.

8. Bake in oven at 350F (180C) for 50 minutes. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before cutting.


**Just found a recipe here for a homemade quiche crust. See below:


Homemade Quiche Crust


Ingredients:

  • cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup ice water (I use refrigerated water)

  • Preparation:
  • 1. Mix flour and salt with fork.
  • 2. Beat oil and water with whisk or fork to thicken.
  • 3. Pour into flour and mix with fork.
  • 4. Press into 9″ pie crust.
  • 5. Fill with quiche mixture and bake at 400F until done.