Tunisian Couscous Pilaf with Chickpeas, Dates and Almonds

1 Dec

Couscous with Chickpeas. Dates amd AlmondsThis is adapted from a recipe I clipped from the Detroit Free Press. If you have turkey left over from Thanksgiving, consider chopping some into cubes or strips and adding it to this pilaf for a one-dish meal.

This dish has a nice range of flavors, from the sweet dates and almonds to the standard onion and garlic, the exotic combination of cumin, paprika, cinnamon and corinader, and just a hint of heat from the cayenne pepper.


2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
3 cups defatted low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
4 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup chopped, pitted dates
1 box (10 oz.) or 1½ cups couscous
½ tsp. salt or more to taste
¼ cup sliced, unblanched almonds, toasted
Black pepper to taste
1 cup thinly sliced green onions


In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.

Add the garlic, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, coriander and cayenne. Cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Add the broth, lemon juice, lemon peel, chickpeas and dates. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.

Add the couscous and salt, stir, then remove from heat and set aside, covered, for 5 minutes. The couscous should absorb all the liquid.

Fluff the couscous with a fork and add additional salt, if desired, and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds and the green onions.

Serves 8

Coconut Curry Lentil Soup

17 Nov

lentil soup curry coconutHere’s another nice lentil soup recipe. I clipped it from the Detroit Free Press, which said they got it from Whole Foods. The coconut milk gives it a creamy consistency and just a hint of coconut flavor.

Don’t make the mistake I did and use ground red or cayenne pepper instead of chile pepper flakes — or if you do, use half as much. I like spice, and so my pot of soup was fine with a half-teaspoon of ground cayenne, but I wondered why the recipe said “or more to taste” when it was so spicy. Then I realized my error!


1 Tbs. coconut or olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 Tbs. curry powder
½ tsp. red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
1½ cups red lentils, rinsed and sorted
Salt and pepper to taste
2 to 3 handfuls chopped spinach, kale, chard or other leafy green
Chopped cilantro, green onion and/or vegan sour cream for garnish (optional)


In a stockpot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat and stir-fry the onion, garlic and ginger a few minutes until the onion is translucent.

Add the tomato paste, curry powder and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute.

Add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, diced tomatoes and lentils.

Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for at least 30 minutes, until lentils are very tender.

Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, stir in the spinach or other green and garnish with cilantro, green onions and/or sour cream.

Serves 8 to 10



3 Nov

SinayaI don’t even know how to pronounce the name of this dish! Is is sin-A-yah? Is it sin-EYE-ya? No mattter really!

It is adapted from Balaboosta, by Einat Admony, an Istraeli American of Yeminite and Persian ancestry. She describes it as “Palestinian comfort food at its best.”

I must admit it’s a real “patchke” to make, so I’ve only made it twice, both times for big company meals. A friend who joined us last week made me promise to put it on the blog so here it is.

The recipe calls for a pound of ground beef and a pound of ground lamb. Kosher ground lamb is really hard to find so I just used all ground beef both times.

You can buy baharat, a Middle Eastern spice mixture, at a Middle Eastern grocery, but the first time I made this, I made my own from the recipe Admony provides in her book. That was a patchke in itself! But if you make it using the recipe below the main recipe, you’ll have enough to make this dish several times. Actually, I reduced the quantities in the baharat recipe below by half and it still produced an ample supply.

You can also buy tahini (sesame paste) at a Middle Eastern grocery or specialty store.


1 large eggplant
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 large, ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
1 Tbs. toasted pine nuts

Tahini Sauce:

3/4 cup tahini
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup water
1 Tbs. olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1 Tbs. kosher salt (use a little less if you like your food less salty)

Meat Filling:

3 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground lamb
2 tsp. baharat (see below)
2 tsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley


Combine the spices for the meat mixture in a small bowl (the baharat, paprika, cumin, kosher salt and black pepper).

Cut the eggplant into 1/4-inch thick slices and sprinkle each slice with kosher salt. Set the slices in a colander, weight them with a plate and let them sit for an hour in the sink or on top of paper towel to drain off some of the moisture. Rinse off the salt and pat the slices dry.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a large baking dish and place the eggplant slices in it, overlapping a little if necessary to cover the whole bottom of the dish. Drizzle with 2 Tbs. of olive oil.

Bake the eggplant for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven but keep the oven on.

While the eggplant is baking, make the tahini sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend till smooth and creamy (it’s not that large an amount, so I used an immersion blender instead, which worked fine.)

Slice the tomatoes thinly and place the slices on top of the eggplant. Set the dish aside.

Heat 3 Tbs. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onion. Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook another 5 minutes.

Add the ground beef and lamb, breaking it up into small pieces. Add the baharat, paprika cumin, salt and pepper, and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Drain off any excess liquid and place the meat in the baking dish with the eggplant and tomatoes.

Spread the tahini sauce over the top of the meat.

Bake in the oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Garnish with pine nuts.

Serves 6 to 8


1 Tbs. ground black pepper
3 Tbs. allspice
3 Tbs. ground coriander
5 Tbs. ground cinnamon
1 Tbs. ground cloves
3 Tbs. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground cardamom
4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 Tbs. sweet Hungarian paprika
1 Tbs. dried lemon zest (optional)
4 tsp. dried ginger (optional)

Combine all ingredients well and store in an airtight jar.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

20 Oct

cranberry upside down cake 2

I got this recipe from the Detroit Free Press. It’s a nice dessert for this time of year, when fresh cranberries are plentiful. And it’s not too soon to start planning for Thanksgiving. This would be a great addition to your feast, or a nice coffee cake to serve at breakfast the day after. It seems like there’s a lot of sugar in it, but it’s really not all that sweet because the cranberries are so tart.


12 oz. cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan; set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together cranberries, brown sugar, juice, zest and cinnamon. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld electric beater), beat eggs on high speed until pale, about 2 minutes. Cascade in granulated sugar; beat, 1 minute.

Switch the speed to medium and beat in butter, sour cream, vanilla and salt. Sprinkle in flour. Mix on low, just until combined.

Scrape cranberry mixture into prepared pan. Cover with cake batter. Bake until fruit bubbles at the edges and a toothpick poked in the cake portion comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Invert a serving plate onto cake pan. Slip on oven mitts. Hold plate and pan firmly together and flip so that plate holds cake, fruit side up. Give the pan a sharp rap to loosen any sluggish berries. Lift off pan.

Serve warm or room temperature.

Serves 8

Kale, Apple, Walnut and Sumac Onion Salad

6 Oct

Kale salad with apple and bulgurHere’s a very pretty and tasty fall salad recipe. The original was called “Kale, Apple, Walnut and Sumac Onion Tabbouleh.” I don’t know what the actual definition of tabbouleh is, but since it doesn’t have bulghur, parsley or mint, I thought that was a little confusing — although the ground walnuts have a somewhat bulghur-like bite.

The original also didn’t include “massaging” the kale, but ever since I started making my Massaged Kale Salad, I’ve been using this technique with all kale salads. It softens the kale and I think makes it a little less bitter.


1 red onion
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
½ tsp. ground sumac (available in Middle Eastern groceries)
½  tsp. kosher salt
2 cups (packed) shredded, stemmed kale leaves
¾ cup finely chopped walnuts
cup diced apple
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
3 Tbs. lemon juice
3 Tbs. olive oil
½ tsp. salt


First make the sumac onions. Thinly slice the red onion,  add 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar, 1 tsp. ground sumac and ½ tsp. kosher salt and toss to combine. Set aside.

Add 1 Tbs. oil and 1 Tbs. lemon juice to the kale in a large bowl and “massage” the kale with your hands for a few minutes until the leaves soften a bit and turn glossy.

Combine a quarter-cup of the sumac onions with the rest of the ingredients and toss well to combine.

Serve immediately or within a few hours.

(Keep any remaining sumac onions in the fridge and use as an ingredient in a green tossed salad.)

Serves 4 to 6

Tuscany Chicken

22 Sep

Chicken tuscanyHere’s a quick and easy recipe for a very flavorful chicken dish.

Because there are two of us, we had some leftover, and we both felt this dish tasted even better reheated than it did the first time we ate it!

I made a small mistake and put the basil in with the tomatoes and other ingredients, rather than sprinkling it on at the end. I don’t think it affected the flavor much, but it makes the photo look a little different than it would if I had sprinkled it on at the end — in case you’re wondering. I also threw in some parsley, which the recipe doesn’t call for. The parsley would probably be better sprinkled on just before serving as well.


1 tsp. olive oil
4 4-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 tomatoes, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 Tbs. water
2 Tbs. minced fresh basil (or 2 tsp. dried)


In a large, nonstick frying pan over medium heat, warm the oil for 1 minute. Add the chicken and saute for 5 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, vinegar and water to the pan. Add the basil if you are using dried. Cover and cook for 5 minutes until the tomatoes are softened and have released some of their juice.

Add the chicken, cover and cook for 5 minutes more or until the chicken is cooked through (juices will be clear when chicken is pricked with a fork). Sprinkle with the basil.

Serves 4

Happy New Year!

12 Sep

apples & honeyI will not be posting a recipe this week because Tuesday is the Jewish New Year festival — and until the holiday starts Sunday night I will be busy in the kitchen!

To my Jewish friends, I wish a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

To everyone else, keep cooking!


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