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Archive for February, 2010

They say that great minds think alike and today I think it must be true:  I made a chickpea tagine for dinner last night and this morning I woke up to find that Mark Bittman’s recipe of the week in the New York Times Dining & Wine section is a rich Spanish Chickpea stew!

Of course, I wasn’t thinking about Mark Bittman last night when I decided to make this dish.  Instead I was feeling a little achy (I have a cold) and tired (did I mention that I have a cold?) and wanted something comforting for a rainy February night (yes, the rain is back).

Although I have not always been a bean fan, lately I have been craving meaty legumes and chickpeas seemed like a good foundation on which to build a hearty meal.

I grabbed a couple of cans of chickpeas from the pantry, did a little web-investigation and found a recipe that looked like a good place to start,  and less than an hour later had steaming bowls of this fragrant vegetarian stew on the table.

Chickpea and Apricot Tagine
(adapted from http://www.care2.com/greenliving/moroccan-chickpea-stew-recipe.html)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 28-ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
2 cups water
Salt, to taste
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/4 cup raisins
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or parsley

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot.  Add the onion and carrot and cook, covered, for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, salt, cayenne, tomatoes, water, and salt to taste. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, soak the apricots in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain and slice. Add the peppers, apricots, raisins, lemon juice and zest, and chickpeas to the vegetable mixture and cook 20 minutes longer, or until hot and the flavors are blended. Stir in the cilantro and serve over couscous, or even better, quinoa.

This was the perfect dish for a chilly night; it even almost cured my cold!

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I know.  It’s February 20th.  But in spite of what the calendar would have you believe, today everything in Portland is screaming SPRING!

The warm sun and bright sky (and the fact that we have been staying at a downtown hotel all week during some home renovations) drew us out for a walk after breakfast this morning.  I’ve wanted to show S the Eastbank Esplanade walk along the Willamette River for months now so we headed down to the river and across the Hawthorne Bridge.

It’s always cooler on the east side of the river and much nosier, too, as you make your way alongside and under the freeway.  Even the incessant roar of traffic couldn’t keep us from enjoying the sights along the way — from the natural

to the industrial.

I’m not sure if it’s good for the bridge, but all the rust on the Steel Bridge is remarkably photogenic.  This shot reminds me of a map.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sunday mornings around here are usually an occasion for lingering over breakfast and the newspaper.  S is a great breakfast chef and always makes something delicious; flipping pancakes or scrambling eggs to the strains of our favorite Sunday tunes:  Charlie Haden and Hank Jones’s album Steal Away:  Spirituals, Hymns and Folk Songs.

To celebrate that impulse (and because our old one has recently been retired to the garage) I got S a new waffle maker for Valentine’s Day.

So, of course, we had waffles. S used the recipe for Buttermilk Waffles that came with the waffle maker (his extensive collection of breakfast cookbooks is currently buried in a pile of other cookbooks as a part of our preparation for some home repairs) and they turned out perfectly.

Buttermilk Waffles
(the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen / All-Clad recipe)

Makes 8 waffles

3 eggs, separated
1 ¾ cups buttermilk
8 tbs unsalted butter, melted
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar

Preheat a waffle maker on medium high heat.
We just eat them as they are ready; but if you plan to make all the waffles before serving any, preheat the oven to 200 F.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then whisk in the buttermilk, butter and vanilla until blended.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.  Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and whisk until smooth.

In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold 1 cup of the egg whites into the batter, then carefully fold in the remaining whites.

Pour about 2/3 cup batter into the center of your hot waffle maker and close the lid.  Cook until golden brown and crisp, 4-5 minutes (or until the waffle maker cheeps at you!).

Serve immediately with warm maple syrup, or place on a wire rack in the oven and keep warm until ready to serve.  Repeat with remaining batter.

All that butter probably helps them develop that perfectly crisp exterior.  S also thinks that beating the egg whites makes a big difference.

Whatever the reason, they were good to the last bite!

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