The Kale & Hedgehog Mushroom Salad

Have you ever tried the Hedgehog Mushroom? The hedgehog mushroom is has a sweet and nutty taste with a crunchy texture. A quick trip in the sauté pan makes these a great meaty addition to any salad.

In November we had our annual corporate weekend where the bosses pay for a little one night weekend getaway in the country…as long as we endure the 2 hour long annual meeting. It’s actually not that bad. This year we were in Saint-Sauveur, a tourist ski Mecca. The fancy hotel was located right across the street from a shopping center. In this outlet mall there is a food store I absolutely adore. It is not fancy and set up like a warehouse but there is one beautiful jewel spot in there: a walking 3-aisle cheese refrigerated room. O-M-G! That will be another post one day. But I also made a new discovery: the Hedgehog Mushroom.

Hedgehog Mushroom

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Vegetarian or Carnivore Options

I am starting to get more and more in the mood to host little dinner parties. Well occasionally so don’t expect an invite too soon (talking to my friends that read this lol). Recently we were a nice group of 6 at my place. Only problem is I had 2 vegetarians, 1 sustainable-only meat eater and 3 carnivores. What to make for dinner?

Couscous came to mind as a very versatile dish. And I have no problem with serving a vegetarian only meal but I wanted to have the option to serve meat to those who wanted some. I happen to have a pork roast already cooked in the fridge. For fake meat for the vegetarians I found a baked tofu recipe. It was a hit with all.

I have made many different kinds of couscous in life and they are all unique. This ones is up there on my list now with this roasted vegetable twist. Roasted veggies seem to pack extra flavor and the vegetable selection for a couscous is different. The usual carrots and rutabaga were replaced with belle peppers, eggplant, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes.

I am already craving this dish again!

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Roasted Vegetable Couscous
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Ingredients

  • About 6 cups of veggies chopped into bite sized pieces (such as onions, mushrooms, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins, re-hydrated for 30 in hot water and drained
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce can) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1.5 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 C couscous

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place your veggies in a medium bowl and drizzle with a little olive oil. Salt and pepper.
  3. Place on baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes. (If using cherry tomatoes wait and add them to the baking sheet after about 20 minutes)
  4. Put veggies in a large pan. Add to veggies cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom and cayenne; saute 1-2 minutes. Add stock, and next 5 ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and lemon juice.
Cuisine: Moroccan | Recipe Type: Main Course
7.6.4
223
http://cultureatz.com/roasted-vegetable-couscous-with-vegetarian-or-carnivore-options/

 

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Roasted veggies out of the oven

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Thin slices of pork roast for the carnivores

Ξ Baked Tofu slices Ξ

Slice a block of tofu into 9 slices. Place them on a double layer of paper towels and place another double layer over them. Press firmly with your hands to remove as much moisture as possible. Preheat oven to 425 F. Place a silicone baking mat on a cookie sheet or oil a long, rectangular baking dish. Brush one side of each slice of tofu with a thin layer of sauce and place it on the pan sauce-side down. Spread remaining sauce on the tops and sides of the tofu. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until tofu is firm and just beginning to brown at the corners.

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Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake with Cranberry Topping for SRC and vegan CCC

Well this is a very exciting day and this is the first post of the year involving not one monthly group but two! I will also be at work this morning after some time off, boo to that! Oh well the holidays are over and real life has to sink back in. Great food will make everything nice.

So as I mentioned before, today we have a combined entry for two groups I belong too….

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The first is my group’s reveal day for the Secret Recipe Club. What is the SRC? Basically you are assigned a fellow participant’s blog by the organizer and then you pick a recipe of your choice from that blog and make your version of it. But it is a secret, you cannot reveal whom you picked and what you made until the established posting date and time.

The second is a brand new re branding you could say. The old 5 Star Makeover is now the Creative Cooking Crew which is hosted by Lazaro Cooks and Foodalogue. One of the former leaders decided to take a bow for personal reasons so we thought it was a great chance to give this fabulous group a makeover.
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For SRC this month I was assigned the blog by Barbara called Barbara Bakes. So many tempting recipes as Barbara is a big baker of delicious goods. It is always a debate as to which recipe to showcase. Well 3 days ago I was hosting a small dinner party at home so I concentrated on her dessert recipe index. I really liked the sound on the Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake with Maraschino Cherry Filling one but I am not into 2 tiered cakes anymore so I adapted the recipe to make 1 layer. I also kept the idea of the fruit topping but I am not over my cranberry obsession so I swapped them instead of cherries.

And imagine my surprise when I realized this cake had zero eggs or dairy! It is actually a vegan cake. And wouldn’t you know it this month’s theme for the Creative Cooking Crew is Vegan. This group is very gourmet, especially in presentation. Now I may bake well but my cake decoration skills are pathetic. See I tried to do a red and green border with icing and I can’t even keep my lines straight lol. Well I hope the fact that I present an actually great tasting cake that is vegan will be gourmet enough. I would not have guessed otherwise. The secret is the bubbling reaction between the baking soda and vinegar.

 

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake with Cranberry Topping
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon instant coffee granules
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º with rack in the center. Spray an 8inch round cake pan with non-stick spray.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Combine water, oil, vinegar, instant coffee, and vanilla in a large measuring cup.
  4. Add to the dry ingredients and whisk just until combined, a few lumps are OK and the mix will be dense.
  5. Poor into pan, then bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35-45 minutes. Cool cakes on a rack for 15 minutes, then invert onto the rack. Leave cakes upside down (this flattens domed cakes) to cool completely.
  6. In the mean time in a small saucepan combine all topping ingredients and cook over medium-high heat, until cranberries start to release their juice and the liquid thickens and becomes syrupy, 6-7 minutes; cool until needed.
Recipe Type: Desserts
7.6.4
222
http://cultureatz.com/old-fashioned-chocolate-cake-with-cranberry-topping-for-src-and-vegan-ccc/

 

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Pan-Roasted Salsify

Thanks for all your good wishes. I am still fighting this cold. Some days I win, some days the cold winds. But it shall pass. Thus I remain a bit quieter still on the blog front.

OK so raise your hands if you have ever tried salsify before? I knew it, only 2 of you know what this root vegetable is, right? The first I ever heard about salsify was the day my mom mentioned them from her childhood and she said they sorta vanished. Of course I made it my mission to buy some if I ever came across a bunch of salsify. And guess what? That day has come. I purchased them on the same occasion that I bought the topinambour (or Jerusalem Artichoke) . And I am keeping the mystery for a third exotic vegetable discovery that day, to be posted soon.

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I bet I know what you are thinking: you want me to eat that UGLY thing? Yes I do and trust me you will love it. There are two types of salsify actually: the white salfify and the black salsify. I think you guessed I got the black one. It can also be called black oyster plant, serpent root, viper’s herb, viper’s grass. The black salsify is native to Southern Europe and the Near East. Although the skin is black the inside flesh is a creamy white.

There are a few precautions to know before preparing black salsify. The thick black skin exudes a sticky latex substance when peeled before cooking. Some prefer to boil the salsify first and peel once cooled. And once the salsify is peeled you want to immerse it immediately in water with lemon juice added or the flesh will turn brown very rapidly.

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It’s mystical witchy look of course made people think it was miracle cure against the bubonic plague and snake bites. I am sad to say those claims are both false but it is a wonderfully nutritious root vegetable. It contains potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, and vitamins A, B1, E and C.

The salsify taste is reminiscent of artichoke hearts or a delicate asparagus. Some even say it has a faint taste of oysters but I did not think this to be true. I found a wonderful and simple recipe using the pan roasting method on the Eggs on Sunday blog. Basically you boil the salsify first to cook the vegetable and then you roast in a pan with caramelizes a little bit the exterior and intensifies the flavor.

 

Pan-Roasted Salsify
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Ingredients

  • 4 large or 8 thin/small salsify roots
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1–2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • A sprinkling of chopped parsley or thyme

Instructions

  1. Peel the salsify roots and place them in a shallow pan with water to cover, lemon juice, black pepper, bay leaf, and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender (about 20-30 minutes, simmering, based on the thickness of the roots.)
  2. Remove the salsify roots from the liquid and let cool slightly, then cut into small pieces (I cut mine into 2-inch batons.)
  3. Heat some olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat until hot, then add the salsify pieces along with a sprinkle of coarse salt and a grinding or two of fresh black pepper. Cook until golden brown, then toss in the chopped fresh thyme at the end.
Recipe Type: Vegetables & Side Dishes
7.6.4
213
http://cultureatz.com/pan-roasted-salsify/

 

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Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke and Walnut Salad with Ricotta

As I was catching up on my favorite food blogs the other day I felt so awful for Bren who described how she broke her camera during an event. I also got a bad gut feeling. Well exactly one week later I broke my DSLR lens. I could not believe it. In such a stupid and careless way. I was carrying 50 things at once, including the camera, to toss on the couch as I was planning on downloading picture. Well I loss my grip on the camera and it fell. The UV filter was shattered and and the zoom extending part was crooked.

Well it looks like the body is OK and I was able to download my shots. I also had just received 2 payments on Paypal which now became lens shopping funds. Good timing but would have skipped the whole episode. Found one on Ebay and waiting for the mail man to bring my package. This is one of the recipes that I was thankfully able to download, a Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke and Walnut Salad with Ricotta adapted from this blog post.

Have you broken broken a camera lens before or an expensive electronic ‘toy’?

Back to the salad. Have you ever eaten a Jerusalem Artichoke before? I discovered this vegetable about 10 years back and fell in love. At the time it was really hard to find but it is gaining popularity. My mom said she remembers it from her childhood but I guess was forgotten for a few decades.

In case you are wondering, it is not related to the artichoke nor has it a connection with Jerusalem. It is actually part of the sunflower family and when the Italians started immigrating to North America they called it by the Italian name girasole (sunflower in Italian) which somehow turned into Jerusalem.

And how do we explain the artichoke part? The delicate and earthy taste has a faint resemblance to artichokes. Do not judge it for its tubular root look, this is a refined vegetable to the palate. Most recipes ask to peel them but don’t bother. The skin is thin and totally edible. Just give it a good brushing under cold water. This is a great warm salad that can totally substitute as a meal, it is a hardy portion.

 

Yields 2

Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke and Walnut Salad with Ricotta

A lovely earthy warm salad with Jerusalem Artichokes

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound Jerusalem artichokes, cut in half
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • A head of salad or greens of your choice
  • 2/3 cup ricotta
  • 1tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Place the artichokes on a baking tray lined with aluminum, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put in the oven for about 30min until soft and cooked through.
  2. Put the walnuts on a baking tray. Pop in the oven for about 5min until golden. Take out and leave to cool. Chop roughly.
  3. Prepare the seasoning by mixing together the mustard, the vinegar and olive oil. Toss with the artichokes.
  4. When the artichokes are cooked and warm, prepare 2 plates with greens on the bottom. Spoon the artichokes on top and add the walnuts and ricotta on top. Serve straight away.
Recipe Type: Salads & Soups
7.6.4
214
http://cultureatz.com/roasted-jerusalem-artichoke-and-walnut-salad-with-ricotta/

 

SRC Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadilla

I have the name in hand of the winner of the An Edible Mosaic cookbook contest! Chosen by random.org, the winning number is 37. I hope you enjoy your prize.

Congratulations to Victoria of Flavors of the Sun

Today is my group’s reveal day for the Secret Recipe Club. What is the SRC? Basically you are assigned a fellow participant’s blog by the organizer and then you pick a recipe of your choice from that blog and make your version of it. But it is a secret, you cannot reveal whom you picked and what you made until the established posting date and time.

This month I got a great blog called Everyday Mom which is authored by Kim. Like me, Kim began cooking at a very young age after she received her first cookbook.  She does not mention the cookbook, I remember mine was Disney character based but printed in France so it was all metric. Kim and I also share a dangerous bond: a sweet tooth, oh the hips! Kim is quite the baker and she enjoys the help of her 3 little assistants.

Lots of great family recipes here. I ultimately settled on the Black Bean Sweet Potato Quesadilla recipe. I really enjoyed them a lot and the sweet potato really made them unique. I used Havarti cheese.

I am proud to say this post will be part of this week’s Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up #18 over at Gastronomical Sovereignty, a link-up to encourage fresh food production, consumption, activism, and awareness.

 

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadilla

A great twist on the Quesadilla vegetarian style

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Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 large can black beans
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp taco seasoning mix
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • Tortillas
  • Monterey cheese, shredded

Instructions

  1. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into thin rounds. Place in bowl drizzle with olive oil and add seasoning. Cook on high in microwave for 4 minutes. Mix halfway through cooking.
  2. Drain and rinse beans. In a skillet add a drizzle of olive oil and garlic, cook for 3-5 minutes. Add beans, seasoning mix and salsa cook until warm.
  3. Over a medium heat, in a skillet lightly coated with oil, warm both sides of one tortilla, just until light golden brown. Remove from pan and add second tortilla, again lightly browning both sides. When browning second side add a spoonful of each filling, salsa and a handful of cheese. Top with the first tortilla, cover with a lid that will press the tortilla down. Cook until cheese begins to melt.
  4. Keep warm in 200° oven, while assembling additional quesadillas.
  5. Serve with salsa, avocado or sour cream
Cuisine: Mexican | Recipe Type: Main Course
7.6.4
209
http://cultureatz.com/src-black-bean-and-sweet-potato-quesadilla/

Fried Eggplant Garlic Parsley Dressing

Happy Sunday everyone! I am so very excited today to talk to you about a cookbook that is about to hit the shelves in November 2012. I was very lucky to get an advanced copy by the author, my dear friend and fellow food blogger Faith of the blog An Edible Mosaic. Faith’s cookbook is an absolutely wonderful collection of traditional Middle Eastern dishes. I was so honored to receive a copy of the book because I think the message Faith wants to convey is very close to my blog’s purpose: it is for food lovers, restaurant goers and home cooks who would like to explore a more exotic palate in their plate.

Giveaway: I have a copy of the An Edible Mosaic Cookbook to give away. Check out the end of the post to learn how to enter the draw.

I have been lucky to have made friends over the last 20 years with people from various parts of the Middle East so I have been exposed to classic Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian, Palestinian and so forth dishes. The cuisine has nothing to do with your local Shish Taouk sandwich shop. Faith did not grow up accustomed to these dishes either, not until she met her now husband Mike who is Middle Eastern. She learned to cook these fabulous dishes during the first 6 months of her marriage in her mother-in-law’s kitchen. Faith brought back this treasure of recipes to North America.

In this cookbook you will find such classics as hummus, kebabs and pistachio drenched sweets. But you will discover a whole plethora of delectable flavors which I hope you will try like tabbouleh, saffron rice, stuffed squash with yogurt sauce, beautiful lamb dishes and scented milk puddings. The recipe I prepared is an unusual choice for me: Fried Eggplant with Garlic and Parsley Dressing. I have never been a fan unless it has been cooked and drenched in tomato sauce but made the effort to turn into a now acquired taste. Faith’s husband, Mike, also hates eggplants. His mother always hoped he would one day marry a girl who liked this vegetable. When Faith tasted and fell in love with this recipe she also got her mother-in-law’s blessing. So it just goes to show you never know what can come out of keeping an open mind and trying new foods!

 

Fried Eggplant with Garlic and Parsley Dressing (BATINJAN MEKLEH)
Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic:  Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission.

Serves 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes, plus 30 minutes for the eggplant to drain
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

1 large or 2 small globe eggplants (about 2 lb/900 g)
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 bunch fresh parsley, minced
Oil, for shallow frying

  1. Fully or partially peel the eggplant if desired. (To partially peel it, peel one strip off down the length of the vegetable, then leave the next strip in place and peel the next strip off, and so on). Slice into 1/4 to 1/2 inch (6 mm to 1.25 cm) thick slices (lengthwise or crosswise is fine if you’re using baby eggplant, but if you’re using a large eggplant slice it crosswise).
  2. Sprinkle the salt on both sides of each slice and transfer to a colander; put the colander in the sink and let it sit for 30 minutes. Rinse the eggplant under cold running water, then gently wring out any excess water and pat dry.
  3. Combine the vinegar, water, garlic, and parsley in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Coat the bottom of a large skillet over moderately high heat with oil. Fry the eggplant in batches (so the pan isn’t overcrowded) until golden brown, about 2 to 4 minutes per side. (You can add more oil to the pan if necessary.) Transfer the cooked eggplant to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.
  5. Serve the eggplant warm or at room temperature, along with the dressing to drizzle on top.

Want to win a copy of this cookbook?

3 ways to enter the contest, each way counts as a separate entry so more chances to win!

– Leave a comment in the post!
Share this giveaway on Facebook and leave separate comment
Tweet: I just entered the Edible Mosaic #cookbook #giveaway with @cethniceatz at http://cultureatz.com/a-sneak-peek-at-the-edible-mosaic-cookbook-fried-eggplant-with-garlic-and-parsley-dressing/

This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE. You have till November 4th, 2012, 23h59 EST to enter. GOOD LUCK!