Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Moroccan chickpea and carrot tagine

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I'm on a mission to make more fish at home. My mission is frequently thwarted for pretty mundane reasons. One: I do my grocery shopping on Saturdays, so unless we have fish Saturday, I have to go back to the store for fresh fish later in the week. Two: I struggle to make the meal exciting. We love simply prepared fish. Drizzled with a little olive oil and lemon is the best way to enjoy most fish. But that can make for a lackluster meal unless the side dishes stand out. That's what led me to this dish... sort of.

I set out to buy monkfish to make a fish tagine, but the store didn't have any... hmmm. My fish guy told me dover sole was the freshest thing he had - came in just hours earlier. I chose that, figuring I'd just broil it with a little onion, lemon pepper and olive oil. But now I needed a good side dish. The tagine cookbook was already out, so I turned to the vegetarian section and found this recipe for chick pea and carrot tagine. It's quick and easy, plus it's hardy enough to go with fish and packs in plenty of flavor.

Spicy carrot and chickpea tagine with turmeric and cilantro
adapted from Tagine by Ghillie Basan

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tbsp. honey
3 medium carrots, cut into thick slices on a diagonal
1 14.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
sea salt
a small bunch of cilantro, chopped
1/2 lemon, cut into wedges

Heat the oil in a tagine or heavy bottomed casserole dish, add the onion and garlic, and saute until soft. Add the turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, honey and carrots. Pour in enough water to cover the base of the tagine and cover with a lid. Cook gently for 10-15 minutes.

Toss in the chickpeas and check to make sure there's still enough water in the bottom of the tagine, cover, and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and sprinkle the cilantro over the top. Serve with the lemon wedges.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wacky Chocolate Cake: no bowl, three holes, and vegan!

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Some days, nothing but a moist piece of chocolate cake will do. Today was one of those days...for a number of reasons: It was cold, cold, cold out so baking seemed like a good idea. I haven't had chocolate cake in awhile. And it's my birthday, so why not celebrate with a little chocolate cake? But there's one problem: I can't have any dairy.

Why? Well, in late October (round about the time of my last post!) we found out our little girl can't digest milk protein, so no dairy for her or mommy for awhile. It's relatively easy to eliminate dairy - until you get to dessert. It seems to be some unwritten law that all the yummiest desserts contain some sort of dairy product - usually ridiculous amounts of butter. But a little digging online revealed many many recipes that are vegan or dairy free. I chose this one because it was quick and easy and promised me moist, chocolate cake.

I have to say I was more than a little skeptical. I mean, come on, this recipe calls for VINEGAR! in my cake? I felt a little like Sam I Am as he took his first bite of those green eggs and ham. The result? It's good, some might say very good. It's not dripping with buttercream, but it's moist - look at that crumb! I thought it needed a little extra chocolate so I've been dusting it with a little cocoa powder mixed with a bit of powdered sugar.

Anyway, give it a whirl. You don't even need a bowl! And while you're here leave a comment with your favorite dairy free baked goods.

Wacky Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups (7 ounces) bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (0.75 ounce) unsweetened, nonalkalized cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (7.5 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup water

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1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square pan.

2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt directly into the baking pan, then add the sugar. With your finger, poke 2 small holes and 1 large one in the dry ingredients. Into one of the small holes pour the vanilla, into the other one the vinegar, and into the larger one the oil.

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3. Pour the water over all the ingredients and stir the ingredients together with a table fork, reaching into the corners, until you can’t see any more flour and the batter looks fairly well homogenized.

4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is springy and a tester inserted in the center comes out dry. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack, then cut and serve it from the pan.

Storage
Keep at room temperature, wrapped airtight, for up to 3 days; refrigerate after that.

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