The Really Simple Vege Chilli

This is a really simple vegetarian chilli that we make quite a bit. It is tasty with nachos, on rice, with baked potatoes, etc, etc.

It also freezes really well so we always have a few bags in the freezer ready for “Oh dear, what shall I cook?” dinners.

Think of this as a base and, if you follow these rough proportions, you can make all sorts of changes. Switch out one or more cans of kidney beans for black beans, add mushrooms or capsicum alongside the onions, do your own spicing, etc, etc.

Ingredients

  • Tablespoon of frying oil (canola, light olive oil, etc)
  • 2 onions (roughly chopped)
  • 2 cans kidney beans in brine (drained)
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes in juice
  • 1 packet el paso chilli spice mix
  • 250gm frozen chuckwagon corn (mix of corn, peas, capsicum, etc)

I often double or triple this in a large stockpot.

Method

  1. Chop the onions and fry at medium heat until somewhat cooked/translucent.
  2. Drain the kidney beans and add.
  3. Add the tomatoes (don’t drain them).
  4. Add the spice mix.
  5. Bring to a simmer and keep it that way for 30 minutes.
  6. Add the frozen veges and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
  7. Done!

 

Baked Eggplant Layer

From Healthy Food Guide March 2013.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 eggplants sliced
  • olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190c. Arrange eggplant slices on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Spray/paint with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick pan and cook onion and garlic until softened.
  3. Add tomatoes, pesto, sugar and chilli. Simmer for about 4 minutes until sauce has reduced. Add most of the basil. Season to taste.
  4. Place half of eggplant slices in lightly greased baking dish. Spoon over half of the sauce. Repeat layers.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes and serve garnished with remainder of the fresh basil.

Kim Edit: I quite like adding roasted asparagus, roasted mushroom, 2 tablespoons of cut up sundried tomato and 2 tablespoons of marinated artichoke. Yum.

Tabouli, taboule, tabbouleh, tabouleh

This is a straight cut’n’paste of the delicious tabouli recipe from here¬†(well, with half as much pepper). I make it quite a lot and got tired of searching for it each time.

  • 2 cups bulgur or cracked wheat
  • 2 cups very hot water
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, (8) sliced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh chopped mint, to taste
  • 2 cups fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

 

Method

  1. Soak the cracked wheat in the hot water until the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. When it’s ready, drain any excess water, if necessary, and squeeze dry.
  2. Meantime, prepare the vegetables for the salad and mix the dressing ingredients together. Set aside.
  3. Stir the prepared bulghur, other salad ingredients, and dressing together in a medium bowl.
  4. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Makes about 8 cups, 12 to 16 servings.

 

The New Toasted Sandwich

So, as part of setting up our new kitchen I bought a nice combination sandwich press/griller. It makes a good toasted sandwich and I’m very happy with it… but it hasn’t been used as much as I expected because I stumbled upon an even better way to make them using the oven griller.

Tuna Toasted Sandwich

This recipe for a tuna toasted sandwich is an example of the technique. It can easily be modified for any fillings you like although I recommend keeping the tapenade no matter what else you change!

Ingredients (per sandwich)

  • Turkish bread (ideally not the Quality Baker brand – it’s very dense)
  • 1/2 small can of lemon-pepper tuna, drained
  • About 1/2 tbsp tapenade (recommend Genoese brand)
  • About 1tbsp basil pesto (recommend Genoese brand)
  • Half a tomato, thinly sliced
  • Small amount of grated mozzarella cheese
  • Handful of lettuce

Instructions

1. Turn on your oven’s griller (I think this is the broiler in US-speak)
2. Cut the bread into sandwich sized sections
3. Carefully slice the bread to separate the top and bottom
4. Lightly toast the outer sides of the bread (careful, it doesn’t take long)

5. Spread pesto on bottom piece of bread
6. Spread tapenade on the top piece

Spread that bread
7. Put the tomatoes on the bottom
8. Spread the tuna on top of the tomato
9. Put the cheese on top of the tapenade

10. Place back under the grill (again, it doesn’t take long)
11. Remove from the grill (to assist you with getting it just right, I carefully cooked the one in the picture one a little bit too much)


12. Put the lettuce on
13. Put the sandwich together and eat

Changing Tastes

I never used to like sushi, but yesterday I was sitting at work scoffing my prawn and avocado rolls and reflecting on how my tastes have changed over the years. (If anyone feels an urge to tell me that I’m using the term sushi incorrectly because blah, blah, blah – please don’t.)

I started making a list of foods I’ve learnt to like, and then I realised that the learning came in two clear phases. The first I started liking as a teen, the second happened after I reach adulthood.

The Teenage Years

* Mushrooms

* Asparagus

* Avocado

* Fish

* Mussels

* Chocolate mousse

I note that my parents thought it was a sad day when I started liking mushrooms and asparagus – it meant there was less for them!

The Gourmet Adult

* Sushi

* Prawns

* Olives

* Feta cheese

* Coffee

And then there’s the foods that other people love but I still just don’t get.

Ick! Still!

* Oysters

* Blue cheese (although I’m getting there)

* Coriander

I’m sure there’s a bunch I’ve missed. Anyone else finally seen the light on something?

~Thomas

The Living Room, Auckland.

The other night we went to Living Room on Ponsonby Road for dinner and it was really very nice. Kim’s salmon fillet served on bruschetta was interestingly flavoured with wood smoke. While the components of the dish didn’t integrate that well, working more as a piece of grilled salmon with a bruschetta chaser, it was still generally delicious. I ordered the seafood chowder which was generously laden with mussels, whitefish, squid and cockles.

Both of these dishes were from the cheaper ‘light meals’ menu but were more than sufficient to ensure that eating the sides we ordered was more of an indulgence than a necessity. I hate to think how large the mains were.

~Thomas

Wednesday Night Dinner Report.

Ok, I admit the menu was a slight repeat on a previous occasion, but the company was new! Thanks to Wendy and Jonathan for joining us for what will be the last of the Wellington Wednesday dinners. (Depending on how things work out we might be starting an Auckland chapter soon).

Guests: Wendy, Jonathan, indoor Yeti and outdoor Igor

Appetiser: antipasto with feta, chilli olives and dolmathes

Main: broccoli pasta with super-size garlic bread

Dessert: peach … soggy crumble with cream

Words: armadillo, wasabi, tumescent

Training: advice on dogs

Peach crumble-gunge made a good warming breakfast after taking the dog for his morning walk in the painfully cold southerly. I miss my tuque.

Other dinner parties this week: The Amateur Gourment cooks and presents the Big Pot of Food and a Dessert Theory of Dinner Parties. We’d probably alter that to “Snacky Things, A Big Pot of Food and a Dessert”.

Thomas.

Avocados

So, avocados. (Or as I like to call them, guacamoles.) As far as I can tell there are two types of avocados:

1. Those that contain a stone and a whole lot of green lusciousness that is sort of velvety smooth in the mouth.

2. Those that contain a stone and some watery tasteless stuff.

The first sort is amazing and can lift an average burger, sandwich or breakfast to a whole new plane of goodness. Or you can just put some on hot buttered toast and have it for a yummy light meal. Then there’s guacamole… take one or more avocados, mush it up with a little garlic and maybe some chopped tomato and onion, and then use it as a dip for corn chips or anything else.

Anyway, the point of this post is not just to rhapsodise about avocados. What I need to know is how to tell the difference between the two types of avocado – the good and the bad (they’re all ugly).

Is there some simple test I can apply when in the supermarket?

avocado.jpg
Photo taken by Avlxyz

Other random facts about avocados:

  • They’re poisonous to cats and dogs.
  • People called Daniel are allergic to them (sample size = 1).
  • They originate from Central America.

~Thomas

Potato, Chickpea and Tomato Casserole

Living in the middle of town has changed what and how I eat. It’s too easy to go out and buy yummy seafood mee goreng from KK or visit a cafe for coffee and a toasted panini. While it’s very pleasant it costs a bit more and isn’t always so good for the whole “healthy eating” thing.

Tonight I resolved to cook something, anything, using just the ingredients that I had on hand. This was complicated by the fact that we’re house sitting at the moment and don’t have a well-stocked larder. I came up with the following and it was damn good.

Potato, Chickpea and Tomato Casserole

chickpea.jpg

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

  • 3 tbsp extra light olive oil
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 3 tsp ‘cajun spices’
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 can chickpeas (drained)
  • 1 can tomatoes in juice (not drained)
  • 1 cube vegetable stock and a little hot water
  • salt
  • A bit of grated Parmesan to go on top

Method

potato.jpg

1. Wash and chop up the potatoes into small chunks (I am a fan of leaving the skin on)
2. Put the olive oil into a large frying pan and bring to a medium-hot temp
3. Add in the potatoes and then sprinkle the spices over them
4. Turn occasionally and cook until fried golden and worth snacking on
5. Drain any excess oil and turn down the heat to medium
6. Chop the onion and add it
7. Stir the potatoes and onions until the onion is just done
8. Drain the chickpeas and add them
9. Chuck in the tomatoes
10. Dissolve the stock cube in a little bit of hot water and add it
11. Put the plates in the oven to warm up, and simmer the dish for 10 minutes or so
12. Add salt to taste
13. Serve and sprinkle some parmesan on top
14. Get the person who didn’t cook to wash the dishes

~Thomas

New Improved Mushrooms on Toast

You might have seen my earlier post about the problems I have with cooking mushrooms. Things had improved, but I knew there was room to do better…and today I found it (with the help of a little pointer from a magazine).

For this technique you need:

  • mushrooms (say 20 brown caps)
  • a good non-stick frying pan
  • a little bit of butter (about 1tsp)

And for serving/eating I I also suggest having:

  • salt and
  • hot buttered toast
  • parmesan

Method

1. Remove any obvious grit from the mushrooms and chop into thick slices.
2. Put the frying pan on to a high heat (don’t leave it there too long, they tend to buckle).
3. Put the mushrooms in and stir occasionally.They’ll heat up and generate their own juice.
4. When they look a bit browner/smaller and nearly cooked, add in the butter. You’ll need less than you think.
5. Quickly stir the mushrooms around to absorb the melted butter.
6. Leave in for another minute or two, stirring.

Serve on hot buttered toast and sprinkle with shaved parmesan.

~Thomas.