Friday, January 29, 2010


We go through a lot of hummus in the Food of Love kitchen. I use it as a spread on my sandwiches and both DSO and I enjoy it with vegetables or crackers or toasted pita as an afternoon pick-me-up. While I find the Sabra brand to be tasty, it's quite expensive at $4.00+ for a very small container and it's so easy to make, I don't remember why I started buying it. That said, after reading about Erica's red pepper hummus over at My Columbian Recipes, I knew it was time to break out the tahini. While I used my old "Start the Party" Hummus recipe from Diana Abu-Jaber's The Language of Baklava as a springboard, I did take a hint from Erica and add some cumin to my mix.

1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained
2 tbs olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup tahini
4 piquillo peppers
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
salt to taste

Puree all ingredients to a thick, creamy consistency. You can adjust the consistency by adding small amounts of water. Serve with a streak of olive oil on top along with a basket of warm or toasted pita bread.
It makes absolutely no sense to buy hummus when you can make it so quickly and so economically. With the money you save, buy a wonderful bottle of wine to enjoy along with it.

Friday, January 22, 2010


The Food of Love kitchen is not known for its Indian cuisine. While DSO  and I have enjoyed the occasional meal in a local Indian restaurant, it isn't a cuisine that we hanker for. That said, I've seen some pretty terrific looking meals around the blogosphere based on Indian cuisine, so I thought I'd take one of our staples--chicken--and try making it tandoori-style. Ever the student, I did a quick search to learn more about this dish and to compare recipes.

I learned that Tandoori chicken has an interesting history. It begins in the 20's when India was united under British rule and a man named Kundan Lal Gujral opened a restaurant in Peshawer called Moti Mahal. Gujral, experimenting with new and interesting food preparations, decided to try cooking chicken in the tandoors--clay ovens--used by local villagers to cook bread. These earthenware ovens, fired with wood or charcoal, were bell-shaped and set into the earth. They could reach temperatures of about 900 degrees. Using young chickens, Gujral was able to cook them in the high-heat ovens so that the inside was just done and the outside crisped. The result would make him famous.

In 1947, the Punjab province of British India was partitioned with the Eastern portion joining Pakistan and Western India. Peshawer, with its Muslem majority, became part of Pakistan and Gujral found himself one among many Sikh and Hindu refugees fleeing the rioting and upheaval by heading west to India. He subsequently moved his restaurant to Daryaganj, Delhi. This move into the newly independent India would make Gujral's chicken an international phenomenon.

When the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, ate at Moti Mahal, he was so impressed by the crispy, tender dish that he made a point of planning many state banquets there. This relationship between Gujral's restaurant and leaders of India lasted through several generations of Prime Ministers.

A look at half a dozen recipes for Tandoori chicken turned up a rather diverse list of spices. A look in my spice drawer resulted in the recipe that follows. While you don't need a tandoor to make this dish, a grill, with its source of indirect heat, seems to be the preferred method. I will try it on a charcoal grill when the weather is a bit milder. It worked quite well with the combined stove-top grilling and oven finish.

2-3 servings (3 WW pts per thigh)
1 (6 ounce) container plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1-1/2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground mace
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
olive oil spray

1.In a medium bowl, stir together yogurt, salt, pepper, cloves, and ginger. Mix in garlic, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and coriander. Set aside.

2.Rinse chicken under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Use a sharp knife to make superficial slashes on both sides of chicken. This is so the marinade penetrates the meat. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour yogurt mixture over chicken, press air out of bag, and seal. Turn the bag over several times to distribute marinade. Place bag in a bowl, and refrigerate 8 hours, or overnight, turning bag occasionally.

3. Remove chicken from bag and discard marinade. Scrape off excess marinade.

4. Spray a nonstick  grill pan with olive oil spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook thighs about 2 minutes on each side, until they have grill marks on them. Transfer to a baking dish and finish in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then, turn on the broiler and broil for 3-5 minutes to brown the top.
Both DSO and I agreed that this dish was a keeper. From the first wonderful aromas generated by the spice mixture to the moist, flavorful last bite, it was evident that the 8 hours of marinating in the spiced yogurt produced an exceptional flavor. Served with Jasmine rice and spicy long beans, it was only lacking a good loaf of Naan. Based on the success of this dish, I may venture more often into this cuisine.

Monday, January 18, 2010


In a perfect world where I am forever a size 4 and the food we eat has absolutely no impact on our health, I will eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a tall glass of cold milk before bedtime every night. I will also serve breaded and fried cutlets more than two or three times a year.

Browsing over at Foodbuzz last week I happened upon Las Vegas Food Adventures and a post on tonkatsu. Reading it produced one of those ah ha moments that you accompany with a slap to the side of the head. While I love veal and chicken cutlets, I hold a special place in my culinary heart for pork cutlets, a rarity in my local supermarkets. The ah ha moment came when I read the recipe and saw that Kathy had simply cut a pork loin into one inch slices and pounded them out. The sheer genius of it all! Since I'd finally managed to track down some whole wheat panko bread crumbs, I decided to add tonkatsu to this week's rotation.


1 lb boneless pork loin, cut into 1 inch slices and pounded out to 1/2 inch thickness
1 cup flour (you'll use just a little more than 1/4 cup)
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups Japanese panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper
oil for frying (peanut, canola or vegetable)

Gently pound the pork between two slices of plastic wrap to a thickness of ½ inch. Season with salt and pepper. Dust lightly with flour and shake off excess. Dip in the beaten egg and then coat well in the panko crumbs.

Preheat the oil in a large sauté pan pan over medium heat to 350 degrees. When the oil is hot, fry the cutlets without crowding them until golden brown on each side. Drain on a wire rack to maintain the crispness on the bottom. Serve with the tonkatsu sauce.

Tonkatsu Sauce
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup sake (I used sherry)
¼ cup dark soy sauce
½ tsp sugar

Stir all of the ingredients until the sugar is dissolved, Serve on the side in dipping bowls or drizzled over top of the cutlets.

I was sure that I was not going to like the whole wheat panko bread crumbs, but I was wrong. If anything, they seemed to crisp even better than the regular kind. I was very happy with my "homemade" pork cutlets. I was able to cut off all visible fat, as little as it is, and I got 8 good-sized cutlets from my one pound boneless pork loin. Half the cutlets remain; they will make very good sandwiches, I'm sure. While I didn't serve the tonkatsu over shredded cabbage, I did make and use the accompanying sauce. DSO and I both loved the flavor. The worcesteshire sauce gave it just enough kick. With some sauteed escarole on the side for me and some leftover spaghetti for DSO, this was a very tasty meal. I know I'll be making more pork cutlets in the future to use in other dishes. Thanks, Kathy, for a great idea.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Okay, if the title of this post has you scratching your head, I'm right there with you. As I was channel surfing last week, I heard mention of this "delicacy." I thought no more about it until this weekend as I sat deliberating over the week's menu. When I asked DSO if he had any requests for dinner, did I hear seafood Newburg or steak Diane? Crockpot chili or shrimp with broccoli rabe? I did not. What he did ask for--no beg for--was hot dogs. I kid you not. When we first started dating and would speak on the telephone at length, I would frequently ask him what he was making for dinner. His answer was usually, "hot dogs and spaghetti" or "hot dogs and beans" or "hot dogs and cole slaw." The man likes his dogs. Since I'm assuming most of my readers know how to prepare hot dogs--should they ever eat them--I decided to go online and see what this Michigan hot dog was all about. Imagine my surprise when I found the following entry here. I won't quote the whole entry, but I found it interesting that:

"A Michigan hot dog or, 'Michigan,' is a steamed hot dog on a steamed bun topped with a meaty sauce, generally referred to as 'Michigan Sauce.' The sauce may or may not be tomato-based, depending on where the Michigan is purchased. Michigans can be served with or without chopped onions. If served with onions, the onions can either be buried under the sauce or sprinkled on top of the sauce.

Michigans are a particular favorite in the North Country of New York State, and have been so for many decades. In fact, one of the earliest known advertisements for Michigans appeared in the Friday, May 27, 1927, Plattsburgh Republican.

Oddly enough, “Michigan hot dogs” are never referred to by that name in Michigan itself, nor anywhere else in the Midwest. A similar food item, the “Coney Dog” or “Coney Island dog”, is a hot dog topped with onions and either chili or a meatless chili called coney sauce. Conversely, the “Coney Island” is not called as such on Coney Island, or anywhere else in New York State; it’s called either a “Michigan” or a “Red Hot.” Finally, in southeast Michigan, a “Coney Island” is also the local slang term for a greasy spoon."

If you're interested, the post goes on to give the origins of the Michigan as well as several recipes for the sauce. The sauce I decided to make was from


1 1/2 lbs. ground beef

1 reg. onion

1 tbsp. chili powder

Level tsp. crushed red pepper

1 tbsp. curry powder

1 tsp. prepared mustard

3 tbsp. catsup

2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste

6-8 oz. water

Saute onion in oil, add ground beef until brown, return to heat - add remaining ingredients, let simmer at least 1 hour adding water if necessary to keep mixture moist.

If you're going to eat hot dogs, eat good ones. I like Boar's Head and they make a lite dog that has just 90 calories and tastes just like the original. While spicy isn't my thing and I generally eat my hot dogs unadorned or with a bit of sauerkraut, for reporting purposes I tried some of the sauce on my hot dog. It was tangy and far better than I had expected. I would omit the crushed red pepper if I make this again. DSO was in pig heaven, carrying on about how delicious this was, asking if we could have it again soon.

I think this would be a great appetizer for your Superbowl party. You could cut each dog in two or three pieces and serve it as finger food. A chacun son gout (to each, his own).

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I have to be honest. When I come across a slow cooker recipe that requires me to dirty another pan first, I pause and carefully evaluate before proceeding. In the end, I knew that even if I baked this enchilada casserole in the oven, it would require 2 "major" cooking vessels. Therefore, I decided to give this recipe for slow cooker enchiladas a try.

While I had read the recipe over and had all the ingredients on hand, I decided against using my smaller slow cooker--the recipe calls for a 5 quart--because it's one of those antiques that has a heating plate. I've found that heating plate too unreliable in terms of constant temperature and have relegated that cooker to heat up status only. That meant, though, that I would need to use my larger slow cooker and would have fewer layers and would require a few more tortillas.

The recipe is for 4 servings, but those are humongous servings (see photo on the right) that weigh in  at a hefty 800 plus calories. I ate one-eighth of the recipe with a half cup of rice and a salad and was very satisfied for my 6.5 WW points for the main dish.

4 huge servings or 6-8 average servings (from Taste of Home's The New Slow Cooker)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 (16 oz) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained (I used 14 oz crushed tomatoes)
1/3 cup water
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
8 oz shredded cheese (I used reduced fat Mexican blend cheese)
6 (6-7 inch) flour tortillas (I required 8)

In a skillet, cook beef, onion, and green pepper over medium heat until beef is no longer pink and vegetables are tender (about 8 minutes). Drain excess fat, if any, and add the next 8 ingredients. Bring to a boil, the reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

In a 5 quart slow cooker, layer about 3/4 cup beef mixture, one tortilla, and about 1/3 cup of cheese. Repeat layers. Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours, until heated through. (This is an estimate at best; I should have stopped cooking mine after 4 hours, at the most.)
I thought this casserole was quite tasty and my 1/8 portion was more than generous. One caveat--I tend to like things on the drier side, so you might enjoy serving this with a dollop of sour cream and some salsa or pico de gallo on top. For those who need to prepare something untended, this is a good recipe, though I must reiterate that the cooking time seemed long, Truthfully, next time I want enchiladas and don't feel like stuffing and wrapping, I'll just use my regular recipe , substituting ground beef for the chicken, and bake them in the stove as usual.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I enjoy stuffed cabbage and have tried, largely unsuccessfully, to make it several times. Trying to judge the cooking time for a whole head of cabbage proved difficult. Peeling the leaves off al dente cabbage was a nightmare. Cutting out the thick vein without destroying the symmetry of the cabbage leaf was beyond my capabilities. The last time I made stuffed cabbage each roll was a different size and shape from the others and I swore I'd never make it again, though I toyed briefly with the idea of a lasagna-like stuffed cabbage.

Then came the January 10th issue of Family Circle and a recipe for "unstuffed" cabbage. I immediately clipped the recipe and added a small head of cabbage to my grocery list. I'm sure you can adapt this simple recipe for the crockpot and come home to a delicious meal. DSO no sooner opened the door, then he called out, "What smells so good?"

I'm posting the recipe as I made it, with a few changes in the method.

6 Servings, 4 WW points per serving
1 lb lean (93%) ground beef
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can (28 oz) stewed tomatoe
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 small head cabbage, shredded (about 8 cups)

Heat a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add the beef and cook for 6 minutes, until no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Drain any fat, then add the onion and cook 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Drain the stewed tomatoes and crush them with your fingers. Add those along with the tomato paste and 1 cup of water, the parsley, salt, pepper, oregano, and sugar. Simmer 5 minutes.

Add half the shredded cabbage and cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir, the add the remaining shredded cabbage and simmer, covered, for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve with mashed potatoes and green beans.
WOW!  It may not look too "purty," but it sure tasted good. Both DSO and I enjoyed this dinner immensely. In fact, I thought that it was more flavorful than regular stuffed cabbage since the seasonings and tomato sauce melded with the ground beef and cabbage rather than just sitting on top of it. The fact that the dish is so healthy (low calorie, low fat, high in fiber) is a plus. I loved eating it over the mashed potatoes; Larry has requested that when I make it again I serve it over noodles. One thing we both agree on:  I'll be making it again.
One of the pleasures of food blogging is the opportunity to meet so many lovely people. I think we all look forward to the comments that are left on our blogs and to discovering wonderful food and new ideas from all over the blogosphere--and the world. Since becoming a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher, I've had the opportunity to make some new friends and to discover some great new blogs. Among my new friends is the lovely "Sprinkle Queen" at Vanillastrawberryspringfields. This new friend has graced me with not one, but two lovely awards and I thank her so much. Her posts are great fun to read and she shares lots of great food photos to go with her recipes. So I thank you, my new friend, and am keeping fingers and toes crossed that you win that cupcake contest.