I've been meaning to cook from Michael Solomonov's Zahav ever since I borrowed John's copy (I will give it back you soon, I promise). Everything about this book makes me want to visit Israel as well as learn more about the cuisine. I also want to take a trip to Philly just to eat his food!Read More
I don't think you really need to be vegan to appreciate good vegan or vegetarian food. When I opened Laura Wright's new cookbook, The First Mess cookbook not only was I greeted by a compendium of beautiful photos but also by a list of recipes that were enticing. Laura has a knack of creating good food that's flavorful and tasty yet simple in approach. Take her chipotle seasoned pumpkin chili with tempeh and beer or her crispy lentil salad with shaved roots or her goji berry cream that I pretty much used on every vegetable dish I could.
Today, I'm sharing one of my favorite recipes from her book, this green tahini sauce dressed roasted cauliflower and chickpea dish. The sauce has the elements of success, a little sweetness, a little acidity and just enough creaminess for texture. The chickpeas and cauliflower are seasoned with za'atar but you could probably use another type of seasoning such as baharat or even garam masala. But that exactly is the beauty of Laura's recipes, not only are they rich in flavor and unique ideas but they are also highly adaptable to ingredients you might already have in store at home. This book is a keeper!
Laura's book comes out this week and to celebrate she is kindly giving away one copy of her beautiful cookbook to readers in the US and Canada. To enter all you need to do is leave a comment below and tell me what is your favorite way to eat vegetables. The giveaway will last from March 8 till March 14th, 2017. Good luck and happy cooking!
roasted cauliflower with green tahini
makes 4 servings
5 cups (about 1 small head) small cauliflower florets
1 cup (250ml) cooked chickpeas
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon za'atar
salt and pepper to taste
green tahini (makes extra)
1/3 cup (75ml) tahini
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons filtered water, plus extra depending on the thickness of tahini
1 tablespoons pure maple syrup (or agave nectar)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
4 green onions/scallions, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh lemon wedges (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped green onions/scallions
Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the cauliflower florets and chickpeas on the baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice, and season with the za'atar spice mix, salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly. Bake in the oven for about 30 to 45 minutes tossing the vegetables frequently. The chickpeas should be crisp and the cauliflower quite browned.
While the vegetables are roasting, make the the green tahini. In a blender, combine all the ingredients from the tahini to the salt and pepper. Blend on high until it has a smooth creamy texture. Add more filtered water if needed to make the dressing pourable. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Serve the caramelized cauliflower and chickpeas hot with the green tahini drizzled over top and some fresh lemon wedges and green onions on the side, if you like.
Chinese fortune cookies though not originally Chinese in origin, are a mainstay of Chinese cuisine here in the West. But as this article in the NY Times points out, they might be more Japanese than Chinese. History and origins aside, these cookies are one of my favorite things to look forward to after dinner at Chinese restaurants and in San Francisco's Chinatown you might even get these cookies with a scoop of matcha ice cream.
Though they are made from a simple tuile batter they are a little time consuming to prepare and require a little bit of practice. Luckily you can stretch the batter and with every circle baked, you will get better. The trick is to spread the batter out in a very thin circle and move superfast as soon as they start to cool.
Black sesame not only gives the cookie a pretty texture when laminated into the batter but the nutty sweet taste pairs deliciously well with the dark chocolate. You can choose to put a fortune in the cookie or not, that I leave up to you to decide. Coincidentally, I didn't realize how troublesome it is to come up with fortunes to write, filling in winning lottery numbers might be easier!
Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing these fortune cookies;
- Have everything ready before you start to bake. Keep the tools out on your worktable as these cookies harden as soon as they are taken out from the oven,
- Spread the cookie batter as thin as possible, this will ensure a thin and crispy cookie.
- Some people find the fragrance of almond extract a little intense, you can substitute vanilla in for the same amount.
- I've given an approximate number for the cookies as you might end up losing some cookies while you make them. They might be too thin or too thick to fold. The crispier they are, the more delicate they will be, so treat them carefully.
- Work with only one or two cookies at a time as speed is important to shaping the cookies. Wait too long and they will harden before you shape them. And please be careful not to burn you fingers as the cookies are hot.
- Also, I tried both parchment paper and Silpat baking mats while testing this recipe. Silpat gave the overall best results in terms of color, texture and shape.
chocolate dipped black sesame fortune cookies
yields: around 24-30 cookies
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup (2 ounces) confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon (2 ounces) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons water, at room temperature
fortunes written on strips of paper that are around 5 inches long and 1 cm wide (optional)
1/2 cup dark chocolate, melted (I used 60% cacao but milk chocolate and white chocolate would be perfect here)
1. Place the egg whites in a medium bowl and whisk with a handheld electric beater on medium-high speed until slightly frothy.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients except the chocolate to the egg whites and whisk on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth. There should be no lumps in the batter. Wrap the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate for 2 hours to chill.
3. Place a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F. Get a clean glass or cup and a large muffin tin and keep it on your work space ready to shape the cookies. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or with a nonstick Silpat baking mat. If using parchment paper, draw two 3 inch circles about 2 inches apart from each other. If you're using Silpat, then approximate the diameter of the circle to 3 inches. Stir the chilled batter and take 1 teaspoon of the chilled batter and using a spoon spread it out into a very thin layer on the parchment paper. If using the Silpat sheet spread the batter out into a very thin circle that is approximately 3 inches in diameter. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the cookies for 5 minutes or until the edges turn a little golden brown. Remove the sheet from the oven.
4. Now work as quickly as possible as the cookies will harden as soon as they start to cool. (Be careful not to burn you fingers as the cookies will be very hot). Place a fortune paper strip across the center of one cookie and using an offset spatula lift the cookie a little on fold it over itself to form a half moon shape. Then take the cookie off the sheet and bend the folded edge of the cookie over the edge of a glass/mug. Then quickly place the cookie in the well of a muffin tin and allow it to set. As the cookie cools, it will harden and take on its characteristic curved shape. Prepare the second cookie in the same manner.
5. Using a scissors, trim the excess length of paper that hangs from the ends of the shaped cookie. Dip one half of the cookie in the melted chocolate (length or width wise) and keep it on a cool surface such as marble or parchment paper to cool. Once the chocolate sets, store each cookie carefully in an airtight container.
- I had a little interview at Food and Wine magazine this week, talking about my blog and food. Please do check it out!
- My sweet and wonderful friend Alanna shares some of the fun moments she captured when we made Masala Chai this past weekend. Her photography and recipes are a treat, you won't be disappointed!
Here's a little twist to one of my favorite coconut cakes, the Baath, it's a delicious, rustic Goan coconut cake made with semolina that has a little bit of rose water. I've shared a lightened version of the regular Baath cake before but I've been aching to make it again and wanted to try something new this time. This version uses nutty tahini and toasty black sesame seeds, imagine all of that nestled in a semolina cake with the light fragrance of rose water and a gentle hint of vanilla.
I cut back on the sugar in this version but you can certainly increase the amount of sugar (as suggested in the recipe instructions below). This cake would be perfect with that cup of masala chai or coffee.
Here are some of my tips for working with semolina cakes and this cake in particular,
- The trick to a good moist and soft semolina cake, soak it in the batter for a few hours to overnight and then bake it.
- I prefer to store this cake wrapped in the refrigerator (or freeze the excess in airtight bags). I'm always worried that the coconut could get rancid and the cake keeps well. Bring the cake to room temperature before serving. Refrigeration also helps to lock in the aromatic floral scents in this cake.
sesame tahini baath (Goan Coconut Cake) Cake
yields: one 9 inch cake
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature + a little more for greasing a 9 inch circular pan
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (if you like it sweeter, you can go up to 2 cups)
1 tablespoon tahini
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon madagascar bourbon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut flavored rum (optional)
1/4 cup rose water
3 cups (1 lb + 1 2/4 ounces) semolina
1 cup (2 3/4 ounces) shredded unsweetened coconut (I used the Bob's Red Mill brand, I was really pleased with its scent and taste)
1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups reduced fat coconut milk
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1. Line the base of springform or regular circular 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper. Lightly grease the sides with butter and keep aside until ready to use.
2. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment cream until light and fluffy on medium high speed for about 5 minutes. Add the tahini and beat for another minute until combined.
3. Add one egg at a time to the creamed butter and sugar mixture and mix on medium-high speed until completely combined.
4. Add the vanilla extract and coconut rum (if using). Beat for 30 seconds until completely mixed.
5. In a large mixing bowl, lightly whisk, the semolina, coconut, salt, baking powder and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the black sesame seeds. Pour half of this mixture into the creamed butter-sugar-egg mixture and combine using the paddle attachment. Pour in the rose water and coconut milk. Add the rest of the semolina mixture and combine on medium speed until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the surface with an offset spatula (wet the spatula with a little cold water, to prevent the batter from sticking). Sprinkle the rest of the sesame seeds on the surface of the cake batter. Cover the cake with cling film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to overnight before baking.
6. To bake the cake, place a wire rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F. Remove the cling film and bake for 45-50 minutes turning the cake half way through baking. The cake is done with the top is slightly golden and the center is firm to touch or when a knife or skewer when passed through the center of the cake comes out clean from the center. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 30 minutes in the cake pan. Run a knife around the edges of the baked cake, remove and allow to cool to room temperature before serving. To store, I recommend refrigerating in an airtight container or freezing the extra (bring to room temperature before serving).