All posts tagged recipe

  • roasted delicata squash with pearl couscous

    roasted delicata squash pearl couscous kale cranberries

    Persimmons, quinces, chestnuts, pomegranates, apples, and squash. I’m pretty much over the moon for fall produce. It’s a little like being reunited with old friends — except uh, I get to eat them. Squash has been a mainstay in our kitchen the last few weeks. My little kitchen cart has been overflowing with pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash, and I can’t seem to get enough of delicata squash. Delicata squash is similar to butternut squash, but smaller and the skins are thinner. No need for peeling, just slice them in half, scoop out the seeds, let them roast for a half hour, and before you know it you’ll be eating creamy and delicious winter squash.

    For the most part, I’ve just been roasting squash with butter or olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Here though, I’ve roasted delicata squash into little crescents and tossed them with pearl couscous and chickpeas, all coated together in a fragrant slightly sweet and spicy olive oil dressing. It’s like autumn in a bowl. Kale can be tough to chew, so I massaged it with my hands with just a little olive oil for about 30 seconds until it softened.

    Roasted Delicata Squash with Pearl Couscous

    1 delicata squash, halved and sliced into 1/3″ crescents
    1 cup pearl couscous
    1 cup chickpeas
    8 kale leaves, torn into small pieces and massaged with olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon coriander
    1 teaspoon dried mint
    2 teaspoons harissa or hot sauce
    2 teaspoons maple syrup
    salt and pepper, to taste
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
    2 tablespoons cranberries

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and pat dry the squash, lay on a cutting board, cut in half, scrape out the seeds, and cut into crescents that are about 1/3″ thick. Lay on a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper in place in the oven. Set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes.

    Meanwhile, prepare the couscous. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. It should take about 10 minutes for the pearl couscous to be ready, but will vary depending on the size of the couscous, so check the package directions. Once done, drain and set aside. Measure out one cup of cooked chickpeas and set aside.

    While the pearl couscous is draining in a colander, take the pot you boiled the couscous in, and add the kale. Drizzle just a little bit of olive oil over the kale and massage gently with your hands until the kale softens.

    Check on the delicata squash and turn the pieces over.

    Prepare the dressing by mixing together coriander, dried mint, harissa, maple syrup, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Add the dressing to the pot with the kale, along with the chickpeas and couscous. Mix thoroughly.

    In a small frying pan, add walnuts over medium heat and turn a couple times, until browned. I don’t recommend leaving the kitchen when toasting nuts. Whenever I’m toasting nuts and leave the kitchen, even just for a moment, they burn. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, chop the walnuts into small pieces.

    Check on the delicata squash, and if it’s soft and beginning to brown on both sides, it’s ready. Add the squash, walnuts, and cranberries to the pot and mix thoroughly. Turn the heat on low, and serve when the mixture is warm.

    Serves 4

  • karkady / egyptian hibiscus tea / كركديه

    karkady egyptian hibiscus tea karkade

    The first time I had karkady was in Cairo in 2006. Ramadan was in full swing and the October heat was relentless. My roommate and I were in a taxi on our way to al-Husayn Mosque, which we would visit a few times a week. She would go to the mosque to pray, then we’d hit up nearby Khan al-Khalili to shop for giant gaudy earrings and eat tameyya sandwiches. On the last stretch of the trip, the call to prayer rippled through the city. It was iftar — time to break the day’s fast. Drivers had a new sense of urgency, most pedestrians vanished from the street to fill their bellies, and our cab driver broke his fast with a cigarette.

    As our taxi inched forward in bumper to bumper traffic, I noticed a man going from car to car and handing people bags with some sort of deep red liquid. When he got to our taxi, he handed me a bag and said something I didn’t understand. I had just enough time to thank him, but not enough to ask him what it was before he went on his merry way. I asked the cab driver if he knew what the drink was and he said, “karkady”. Well, OK! I didn’t know what that was but when a jovial toothless man hands you mystery drink in a plastic bag, what do you do? My roommate wasn’t interested, so I drank it in the most graceful way one can drink from a plastic bag (which is not at all).

    As a fan of all things sour, it was love at first sip. Sweet but not overly so, with a tart flavor reminiscent of cranberry juice. After doing some investigating later on (aka googling), I learned karkady was made from made an infusion of hibiscus flowers. Serve it cold in the hot months and hot when fighting off those winter shivers. It wasn’t for another few years after leaving Egypt that I would revisit karkady, but now you’ll find a pitcher (or bottle) of it in my fridge about once a month.

    To make karkady, you need dried red hibiscus flowers, which can be found at Middle Eastern and Latin American groceries (look for Flor de Jamaica), tea shops, and the bustling spice markets of Cairo. If none are available in your neck of the woods, there’s always Amazon, the Wal*Mart of the internet.

    Unrelated, but here are some things I’ve been cooking lately:

    Pulled Pork – I made about 5 pounds of pulled pork for Father’s Day. It had been so long since I cooked several pounds of pork that and I overcooked it a little bit, sadly. Dad came down for a visit and we feasted on pulled pork sandwiches and potato salad. I sent dad home with a big container of meat, then Cory and I used the remaining pork for sandwiches and tacos.

    Black Bean, Cilantro and Apricot Salad – When we ran out of pulled pork, we still had several corn tortillas. I made a mango and black bean salad based off an apricot and black bean salad from the taste space. The recipe has been a regular in our kitchen for about 3 years now.

    Quick Pickled Onions – from the Kitchn. I’ve quick pickled (and consumed) 4 jars of carrots in the last month and now I’m onto onions for salads and sandwiches.

    Falafels – The last of my chickpeas are currently soaking as I type this. Falafels served over a bed of lettuce will be tomorrow’s dinner. Maybe I’ll buy more chickpeas before we move, but first I have to go through a pound of pinto beans, cranberry beans, and great northern beans. Anyone have any ideas what to do with those?

    Tahini – ok, I haven’t made this yet. But I’m making it tomorrow! Again, from The Kitchn. I’ve never made tahini from scratch before, but I have a lot of sesame seeds I’ve been meaning to use up. I’m knee deep in Operation: Clear Out the Pantry.

    Zucchini – zucchini everything. Chopped up raw and in salads, zucchini noodles, zucchini soups, and mastering mom’s zucchini bread.

    Corn – with everything. Mostly corn on the cob, sometimes soup, and I made a corn, basil, and pesto pizza on Friday.

    Popsicles – currently, mango lassi popsicles. But I’m really craving Vietnamese iced coffee and I think they’d make for some delicious popsicles.

    Now, on with the show.

    Karkady / Egyptian Hibiscus Drink

    3/4 cup hibiscus petals
    8 cups water
    sugar, to taste (I recommend starting with 1/4 cup and taste testing from there)

    dried orange peel
    grated ginger
    a few squeezes of lime or lemon
    a cinnamon stick

    In a large pot, add hibiscus petals and water (add orange peel, ginger, and/or cinnamon stick, if using) and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in sugar and give the drink a taste test and add more sugar, if necessary. You can skip this part, but I usually cover the pot and let it steep for another 1-3 hours. If adding lime or lemon, squeeze a bit of juice in and stir. Strain the mixture into a pitcher, discard the petals, and refrigerate the drink for several hours.

    Serves 8-10

  • pasta with arugula pesto and artichokes

    pasta with spinach and arugula pesto

    One of my favorite things about cooking is that it can seem like something of a superpower. Before I learned how to cook, I’d open the fridge and rummage through the cupboards and often end up frustrated, reaching for whatever was most convenient. I try to keep the pantry stocked with staples like canned goods, pasta, and frozen vegetables, so that when mealtime rolls around and I don’t have a plan, I can whip up a tasty dish with ease. We had some leftover spinach and arugula and inspired by an arugula pesto recipe from Kitchen Treaty, I set out to make pesto.

    Since arugula has such a strong flavor, the lemon juice and cheese help balance out the flavors. If the arugula taste is still too strong for your liking, add some more dried herbs, lemon juice, and parmesan until you get a good balance. I didn’t have any on hand at the time, but sundried tomatoes would be an excellent addition to this dish.

    Pasta with Arugula Pesto and Artichokes

    2 cups arugula
    1 cup spinach
    2-3 cloves garlic
    1 teaspoon dried herbs of your choice (I used basil and thyme)
    cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
    salt & pepper, to taste
    1/3 cup nuts, I used a mix of pine nuts and pecans
    1/2 cup olive oil
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1/4 cup parmesan cheese
    1 16 ounce can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
    1 pound farfalle or pasta of your choice

    more pine nuts, for serving
    more parmesan cheese, for serving

    In a medium to large stock pot, bring water to a boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook according to package directions.

    Meanwhile, start the pesto. Pack spinach and arugula into a food processor, drop in the garlic, dried herbs, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper, add the lemon juice, parmesan, nuts. Pulse while slowly drizzling in the olive oil. Give the pesto a taste and adjust to your liking. If you find the pesto is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of water.

    When the pasta is ready, drain it and return it to the pot. Mix in the artichokes and pesto, ladle into bowls and serve with extra nuts and cheese.

    Serves 4-6

  • aushak (afghan dumplings with meat sauce and yogurt)


    I’ve been on a bit of an Afghan kick.

    Truth is, when I made kaddo bourani last week, what I really wanted was aushak, Afghan dumplings filled with scallions and leeks, served with a tomato-based meat sauce and garlic yogurt. I love both dishes and they’re both quite similar, but a hankering for dumplings just doesn’t go away. Living in a small college town without a car is its own kind of food desert, like why can’t I find any broccoli this week? Why is this small jar of tahini $10? And why oh why can’t I find wonton wrappers so I can make aushak? I was almost desperate enough to make the wrappers myself. It took some searching, but we did find an Asian market and stocked up on a variety of things, including wonton wrappers. To the kitchen we go!


    They’re dumplings, so the assembly is time consuming. I used to buy tiny wonton wrappers and it’d take over an hour to assemble them all. Audiobooks and kitchen helpers are welcome companions when reaching this step, but I’ve taken to buying larger wonton wrappers (4″ by 4″) to reduce preparation time. Also, although it’s not traditional I like to slip in some spinach into the dumplings. Never hurts to add some greens, right?

    Confession time: I took these photos about three years ago, just before starting a job that involved a four hour commute. Soon after, I stopped blogging for wayyy too long, but I’ve wanted to share this recipe ever since and I still like these photos!


    Aushak (Afghan dumplings with meat sauce and yogurt)
    Adapted from Khyber Pass Cafe

    For the meat:
    – 1 pound ground beef or lamb (I like using a mixture of both)
    – 1 yellow onion, chopped
    – 4 tablespoons tomato paste
    – 4 cloves garlic, diced
    – 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, diced
    – 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    – cayenne pepper, to taste
    – salt & pepper to taste
    – 1 cup water

    For the dumplings:
    – wonton wrappers, the amount you need depends on the size of your wrappers. 18-24 wrappers are needed if you’re using 4″ by 4″ wrappers.
    – 1 bunch scallions, diced
    – 3 leeks, diced
    – 12 ounces baby spinach
    – salt & pepper, to taste

    For the yogurt sauce:
    – 1 cup plain yogurt
    – 2 cloves garlic, diced
    – 1 teaspoon dried mint
    – salt & pepper, to taste

    For serving:
    – garnish with fresh or dried mint or cilantro
    warm naan

    Prepare the yogurt:
    Add garlic to a large bowl, mix in garlic, dried mint, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside unrefrigerated until the aushak is ready to serve.

    Prepare the meat:
    Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and cook until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, stir for another 30 seconds or so. Add the ground meat, stirring frequently. When most traces of pink are gone, add coriander, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Add the tomato paste and water. Let simmer on low heat and stir occasionally until the dumplings are ready.

    Prepare the dumplings:
    Heat oil in another skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the scallions and leeks. Stir frequently and let them cook down for a few minutes. Add the spinach and let it cook down, about a minute or so. Add some salt and pepper, to taste.

    Heat a pot of water over medium heat, and get ready to assemble your wrappers.

    Set up your workstation. My set up is: cutting board directly in front of me, bowl of water next to the cutting board, skillet (containing the scallions and leeks) and wonton wrappers at my sides, and a floured baking sheet in front of the cutting board to place the assembled dumplings. Dollop a small amount of the fixins onto the center of the wrapper. Dip your fingers into the bowl of water (or use a pastry brush) and line the edges of your wrapper with water. If using round wrappers, fold them in half and seal them tightly with your fingers. If using square wrappers, fold them diagonally. Don’t fuss too much about folding them a certain way, just make sure they’re properly sealed.

    By the time your dumplings are assembled, the water should be boiling. Working in batches (3-5, depending on the size of your pot), boil the dumplings for about 3 minutes. I usually put a colander into the pot, as this prevents the dumplings to getting stuck on the bottom of the pan. Drain, and add to a plate. Serve with yogurt, meat sauce, and a side of warm naan to clean every last morsel off your plate. Garnish with dried or fresh mint or cilantro.

    Serves 4-6

  • kaddo bourani


    There’s an Afghan restaurant on Van Ness in San Francisco called Helmand Palace. The decor is painfully outdated, the service is spotty, but it is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. Not to mention it is owned by brother of Hamid Karzai, you know, the corrupt and ever so stylish president of Afghanistan. Helmand Palace was a bit out of the way for us, so whenever we’d go we’d load up on appetizers and dessert. One of my must-eats was Kaddo Bourani, a dish with candied pumpkin, spicy ground meat, and garlicky yogurt. It may sound a little weird, but it is incredibly flavorful and a wonderful balance of sweet and savory. If you’re in the Boston area, they’re also behind Helmand Restaurant in Cambridge.

    Kaddo Bourani is traditionally made with pumpkin, you can also use butternut squash as I did here. Warning to my fellow procrastinators: don’t make this when you’re hungry, it takes about 2 1/2 hours to roast the pumpkin/butternut squash. The original recipe calls for 3 cups (!) of sugar, but I just can’t bring myself to use that much sugar for anything except jam. The end result is still plenty sweet.

    Kaddo Bourani (Afghan pumpkin dish with meat sauce and yogurt)

    Adapted from SFGate and Habeas Brulee

    For the pumpkin:
    1 3lb sugar pie pumpkin or butternut squash
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 cup sugar

    For the meat:
    1 onion, diced
    1-2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon fresh ginger, diced
    1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
    1 1/2 pounds of ground meat, beef or lamb
    1 tablespoon turmeric
    1 teaspoon coriander
    salt & pepper to taste
    3 tablespoons tomato paste
    1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth or water

    For the yogurt:
    1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 teaspoon dried mint
    salt & pepper, to taste

    For serving:
    warm naan or pita bread


    Pre-heat oven to 300F.

    Wash, peel, and seed the squash. Remove all of the rind. Cut the squash into halves and cut into slices that are about 3/4″ to 1″ thick. Layer the baking sheet with the squash slices, coat with the olive oil and spread the sugar evenly over the slices. Cover with aluminum foil for 2 hours. After 2 hours have passed, baste the pieces with the juices from the pan, cover it up again, and return to the oven for another half hour.

    Yogurt sauce:
    Mix the garlic, mint, salt, and pepper into the yogurt. Store in the fridge until just before serving.

    Add oil to a saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, jalapeno peppers, stirring until fragrant, or about 30 seconds. Add the meat, stir until it is broken into small pieces and most traces of pink are gone. Add the spices and let it cook for a few minutes. Add the tomato paste and broth (or water), lower the heat and simmer until the pumpkin is ready.

    Serve with warm naan or pita.

    Serves 4