Posts Tagged ‘garlic’

© Dina Avila

© Dina Avila

© Dina Avila

© Dina Avila


I thought I’d offer you something completely different from the holiday fare you’ve been eating for days or even weeks now. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas and leftovers from both, there are often a lot of redundancies in food and what better way to shift your focus from sweet potatoes and ham then to travel to Lebanon for some traditional Foul.

Foul, pronounced: fool, is a hearty, garlicky fava bean and chickpea dish saturated in blessed olive oil (yes, I know it’s ugly).  There are many variations and recipes, but Foul traditionally hails from Egypt. It is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine and is often eaten scooped out of a bowl with flatbread for breakfast with yogurt, cheese or a fried egg on top. Be prepared for some messily oily and herby fingers.

The idea of making foul has danced around the back of my mind for sometime now and for whatever reason I never got around to making it. I was finally inspired to make foul after reading Annia Ciezadlo’s beautifully and poignantly written memoir of living as a journalist in the Middle East, Day of Honey. I highly recommend this book. If your even mildly curious about the people, food and culture of places like Beirut and Lebanon then buy this book. Annia offers a very intimate glimpse into a world few of us understand. A world devoted to family and tradition and often disrupted and molded by war and politics. She also includes recipes gleaned from the beautiful people and families she grew to know and love. I’ve started with Foul Mdamas and I intend to explore the others. I promise to share.

Find the book, sit down with a cup a tea, and read.


PS I’m playing with my layout today and I’d love to know what you think. I know a few of you (Liz!) skip my writings and go straight to the photos so I thought I’d present pictures first, words and recipes second. Please let me know what you think!

Abu Haidi’s Foul Mdamas with Herbed Flatbread

From Day of Honey, Annia Ciezadlo

Annia recommends using the small, dried Egyptian fava beans that are no bigger than a black bean. I used dried fava beans found at Whole Foods, and they worked fine. Although, I suspect Egyptian fava beans would offer a more delicate flavor. A trip to the Halal store may be in order. Darn :)

For the Foul~

What you’ll need:

1 cup dried fava beans, soaked overnight and cooked until tender

2/3 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked until tender

1-teaspoon coarse sea salt

3 cloves of garlic, smashed

Juice from one lemon

1/2 cup olive oil, divided

1/2-teaspoon cumin

1/4-teaspoon paprika

Optional adornments: fried egg, peppers, yogurt, chopped tomatoes


After the beans are cooked, place in them in two separate small saucepans with about a 1/2-inch of water. Bring to a simmer.

Place smashed garlic and sea salt in a large bowl and use a pestle to smash them into a paste.

Pour half of the lemon juice over the garlic and let sit for about 10 minutes. If you want mellower garlic, let sit for longer.

Ladle all of the fava beans and half of the chickpeas into your bowl with a bit of the cooking liquid.

Using your pestle, mash some of the beans with the garlic.

Pour in half of the olive oil and salt to taste.

Make a well in the middle of the beans and add the rest of the chickpeas.
Drizzle with the rest of the olive oil and lemon juice and dust with cumin and paprika adding more to taste.

Serve with flatbread.


Herbed Flatbread

From Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce

For the flatbread~

 What you’ll need:

Olive oil

1 package active dry yeast

1-tablespoon honey

1/2 cup amaranth flour

3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1-tablespoon kosher salt

Olive oil for brushing

Dried herbs of your choice. I used oregano, thyme and tarragon.


Lightly oil a large bowl with olive oil.

 In another bowl add honey and yeast to 1 1/2 cups warm water.

Stir and let sit for about 5 minutes.

Add the flours and salt to the yeast and stir to combine.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes adding flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking.

Form the dough into a ball and place in your oiled bowl.
Cover with a cloth and let rise until doubled in size. About 2 hours.

Place dough onto your lightly floured surface and fold it into itself a few times as you deflate any gas bubbles.

Form the dough into a ball, cover with a towel and let rise for about an hour and a half.

Warm a cast iron skillet over medium heat.

Place the dough on you floured work surface and divide into eight equal parts.

Gently roll out each dough, one at a time, into a circle that will comfortable fit in your pan.

Brush the top with olive oil and dust with herbs and salt.

Transfer the dough to your hot pan, oil side down and let grill for about 3 minutes.

While it’s grilling, brush the other side with olive oil.

Flip and cook the second side for about 3 minutes.

Place the cooked flatbread on a baking rack or plate and repeat the above instructions with the other balls of dough.

Serve warm.


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I had an early morning shoot today and not thinking ahead, I arrived fresh from the shower with sopping wet hair (tucked into a tidy bun), to St. Jack’s patisserie. It’s 29 degrees out. I know that’s not cold for some of you…but it’s pretty cold for us. While shooting the outdoor environmentals, (hoping that my hair won’t freeze and that I couldn’t possibly get pneumonia, right?), I thought about this soup waiting for me at home. Thick with hearty beans and bursting with winter vegetables, brothy enough warrant the pleasurable need for crusty bread to sop up the juices. A perfect soup to come home to on a brisk winter’s day.

© Dina Avila

I had more food pictures for you, I really did. But something happened and I haven’t quite figured out what. I was in a hurry yesterday and I either uploaded the images to a strange and remote location, or not at all. Instead, I offer you a glimpse into yesterday’s Christmas tree hunting adventure with Adam’s folks, and, fortunately, at the very least, the soup.

© Dina Avila


Kale and Pumpkin Ministra

Inspired by a recipe in Food and Wine

The original recipe calls for butternut squash pasta and gently wilted kale. I decided I wanted a heartier and richer flavored soup, so I used some of stash of fancy Peruvian Christmas Lima beans in place of the pasta and roasted the veggies in the oven.

What you’ll need~

1/4 cup Olive Oil

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

1 small pumpkin, or squash of your choice, seeds rinsed and reserved and cut into quarters

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon dried sage, crumbled

1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped

4 cups chicken broth

Salt and pepper

1-2 cups beans, cooked

Parmesan for shaving

Heat the oven to 375.

Toss the pumpkin and onion with half of the olive oil, a generous pinch of salt, a couple of grinds of pepper and the crumbled dried sage. Place on half of your baking sheet.

Place in the oven and bake until the pumpkin is tender. About 30 minutes. Be sure to stir the onions here and there so they don’t char too much.

Toss the kale with the rest of the olive oil, the reserved pumpkin seeds and sliced garlic.

After about 15 minutes into cooking, add the kale to to the other half of the baking sheet.

Stir the kale every 5-10 minutes until it’s nice and crisp. About 15 minutes.

Once the kale is cooked and the pumpkin is tender, remove from the oven and set aside until the pumpkin is cool enough to handle.

In the meantime, warm chicken broth in a large saucepan and add the beans. Add the kale and onions.

Scrape the pumpkin meat out of its skin, and cube up the meat as best as you can. Toss into the broth.

Let simmer gently for about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to come together.

Serve warm with a generous serving of parmesan shavings on top and some crusty bread for sopping on the side.

© Dina Avila

© Dina Avila

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Sigh, Italian artichokes. They make me swoon. Gloriously beautiful with gradient purple and deep greens. I could easily gaze at them all day. Last week I was honored to photograph Chef David Anderson of Genoa and Accanto as he gathered produce at the farmer’s market for his seasonal menus. Among the beans, the melons, the peppers and the peaches, David picked up a crate of Italian artichokes. I seriously could not tear my eyes away from them. The moment our shoot was over, I beelined it back to the artichoke stand and picked this beauty up.

These guys are meaty and rich. Hearty enough to hold its own to any sauce, they offer a summer grassiness that, I found, pairs perfectly with lemon and lots of it.

Freshly steamed Italian artichoke leaves dipped in a super lemony garlic aioli is enough goodness to make anyone swoon.


Steamed Artichokes with Super Lemony Mint Aioli

Steamed artichokes are simple to prepare. If the points of the leaves are spiky, then give them a quick trim with your kitchen sheers.

What you’ll need:

1 or more artichokes

For the aioli:

3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 large handful of fresh mint

Zest and juice from one lemon

1 egg

salt and pepper

3/4 cup olive oil

For the artichoke:

Place enough water in a bottom of pot to just barely graze the bottom of your steamer basket.

Place artichoke in basket and bring water to a gentle boil.

Allow the artichoke to steam, with the lid on, for 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size of your artichoke.

You’ll know it’s ready when you gently tug at a leaf and it comes right off.

For the aioli:

Place all ingredients except for the olive oil in your food processor and blend until well combined.

When the ingredients are all blended, and with the machine running, slowly pour in olive oil in a steady stream until the sauce emulsifies.

Pluck artichoke leaves from artichoke and dip generously in aioli. Yum!

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There are at least nine spellings for hummus, hamos, hommos, hommus, homos, houmous, hummos, hummous, and humus. The earliest known recipe hails from 13th century Egypt: chickpeas, vinegar, pickled lemons, herbs, spices and oil. Not much has changed since then. An at-hand ingredient may be thrown in here and there, variations influenced by one’s country or even village. But, and with good reason, the basic recipe has barely changed. Why? Because hummus is damn near close to perfect, at least in my book. Granted there are a few recipes that leave me wanting, but it is usually more of a mood thing rather than bad or good. Some days I’d like my hummus to be thick like paste and garlicky, other days, creamy and smooth like yogurt.

I’m not sure if you can even consider the following recipe hummus. I put it together based on what I had in my pantry: red lentils, garlic, pine nuts, paprika and tarragon. Call it a dip if you like, I’ll just say it’s a nod to a classic dish that, in my world, will never go out of style.


Red Lentil and Tarragon Hummus with Kim Boyce’s Seed Crackers

Red Lentil Hummus

I know the tarragon seems like an odd choice, but it imparted an herby and lemony flavor that really brightened the dish.

What you’ll need~

3 cups water

1 cup dried red lentils

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2-cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

5 or so tablespoons olive oil

Juice from one lemon

1-teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/4-cup chickpea, or other miso

1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika, plus more for garnish

1-teaspoon French tarragon, plus more for garnish

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring water to boil in a small saucepan. Add lentils and reduce to simmer. Cook until soft, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and let cool to room temperature.

In the meantime, lightly toast your pine nuts in a dry pan, let cool, then place in food processor and pulse until pine nuts become a paste.

Place chopped garlic, sea salt and a tablespoon of olive oil in a mortar and pestle and smoosh until well blended.

Place lentils and garlic paste in food processor and pulse until blended. As food processor is running, add the rest of the ingredients until hummus is smooth.

Serve with bird crackers or pita bread.

Kim Boyce’s Bird Crackers, with variations

Adapted from Good to the Grain

These crackers require either a good, heavy rolling-pin or some upper body strength. I have neither, and despite spending much time rolling, my crackers turned out puffy like little crostinis. Not exactly what I was looking for, but delicious, nonetheless.

What you’ll need~

2-3 eggs, depending on the size of your eggs

Dry Mix~

3/4-cup buckwheat flour

3/4 cups spelt flour

1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1-tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Wet Mix~

1 stick butter, room temperature

3/4 to 1 cup almond milk or whole milk


1 egg, for egg wash

Poppy seeds

Coarse sea salt

Fill a small saucepan with cold water and gently place eggs in saucepan. Bring water to a boil; turn off heat and let eggs sit, uncovered, for 18 minutes.
Drain water, fill saucepan, with eggs still in it, with an ice water bath.

While eggs are cooling, whisk flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and seeds in a large bowl.

Using your fingers, break apart butter and rub into the flour mix until the butter is the size of bits of grain. Coarse and crumbly.

Peel the eggs and discard the whites. Using your microplane, grate egg yolks into flour.

Stir in milk.

Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface.

Fold it into itself but be careful not to over knead, unless you want your crackers fluffy like mine.

Preheat oven to 450 and line, or butter, your baking pans with parchment paper.

Roll the dough out as thin as you can possibly get it and use a cookie cutter or a knife to cut out squares.

Place dough on cookie sheet.

Whisk your egg in to an egg wash and brush wash onto cracker dough. Sprinkle with seeds and/or coarse sea salt and bake for 10 minutes, rotating tray halfway through.

Crackers should be golden and (mostly) crisp.

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I wish I could blame the moon or the alignment of the planets for last Friday’s chaos, but I don’t know if I can. I wish I could point my fingers at too much wine, or not enough sleep, but no. I can only blame myself for taking on a subject that I have little knowledge, aside from Bourdain’s adventures to Southeast Asia, and a vaguely remembered conversation involving adzuki beans and plum sauce a few days beforehand with one of my culinary friends named Ryan. Yes, I have two culinary friends named Ryan. Truth be told, I really had no idea what the heck I was doing. And I’ve got the burned fingers and bruised bones to prove it. Yeah, it got physical.

As you may have read in an earlier post, I’ve recently found myself intrigued by Asian cooking. Not sure where that came from as I’ve had little to no interest in cooking Asian in the past. Perhaps it was the adventurer in me. The itchy feet and almost constant desire to explore unknown lands and peoples. Or maybe it’s simply the challenge of learning to balance new and exotic ingredients and tastes. Either way, I had no business taking on something so vastly different than what I’m used to cooking without a map. Read: cookbook.

Thus, it begins. The first thing I attempted to make that fated morning seemed simple enough. At least in my head. Barley and adzuki patties with leeks and golden beets. Of course, it started out innocently enough. Beans and grains cooked nicely on the stove, beet was roasted to perfection, leeks thinly sliced and laying adorably with their little spiraled anticipation. Then I remembered I needed breadcrumbs. Despite having a galley kitchen, our counter space leaves us wanting. Our toaster was, unsurprisingly, shoved behind a few random pans so the logical thing to do, of course, was pop a couple of slices of bread in the oven for a quick toast.

Oh why haven’t I learned my lesson with that one? How quickly memories of burning slice after slice of bread in our oven when we were between toasters drift from my mind.

So, I’m in the kitchen, bread gently toasting in the oven as I am, as usual, distracted with something else. Oh geez! The bread. I open the oven door and not only are my once lovely slices of whole grain bread burnt to a blackened char, They Are On Fire. Yes, fire. Flames, Dina yelling, “OH GOD”, Adam jumping out of bed and into the kitchen as I’m blowing out these giant flames trying to remember where the heck the fire extinguisher is in our building and how quickly could I get to it before this turned into a REAL fire. Blowing, blowing, blowing, and by the time Adam reaches the kitchen the flames have been reduced to smoldering char. It happened that quickly.

And I try again. But using our toaster this time, and magically the bread toast perfectly. After a quick zoom through the food processor, lo and behold! Breadcrumbs.

Just so you know, when things like this happen I usually blame the Catholic in me. For some reason, even if we are no longer practicing Catholics, we have a knack for making things as difficult as possible. Our version of self-flagellation, I suppose. Did I mention that I burned my fingers on a not quite cooled pan AND fell down the stairs (bruising my hip and straining the heck out of my right arm. Thank goodness I’m left-handed) taking out the trash? ALL in the same morning?

Despite my perfect breadcrumbs, failure still reared his ugly little head. The adzuki-barley mixture tasted wonderful, but I couldn’t get the patties to hold together in the pan. Maybe it’s because I’ve never made non-meat patties before and I, big surprise, didn’t have a recipe guiding me. So I stirred in an egg, and then two, into the mixture and then realized that I just royally screwed up and had no energy to try to save the dish. Into the trash it went.

Here is where I didn’t fail: pork chops glazed with homemade plum sauce. You are going to hate me because I made the sauce by taste, a splash of this and a dash of that. So this is where I say trust your instincts. Lick your fingers and let the flavors mingle on your tongue until it, well, feels right.

As Ryan number two says. This is where you cook.


Pork Chops Glazed with Plum Sauce and Micro Greens with an Appetizer of Braised Baby Bok Choy and Miso Soup

Feel free to use bottled plum sauce. I just couldn’t find any when I was shopping, so I decided to make it myself instead of going to another store.

What you’ll need~

~ For the Plum Sauce

One jar of plum jam (I used Susinata Italian Plum Preserves). The fewer the ingredients, the better.

One clove of garlic, minced

Two teaspoons or so ginger, finely shredded using a microplane

About 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar

A splash or two of shoyu

A splash or two of sesame oil

A few dashes of crushed red pepper flakes

A handful of chopped cilantro

~For the Pork Chops

Olive Oil

Two pork chops

~For the Appetizer

Braised Baby Bock Choy and Miso Soup

Adapted from

1 cup chicken broth

3 tablespoons butter

3-4 baby bok choy

1 clove minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Splash of rice wine vinegar

Juice from one small lime

Large pinch of freshly ground green peppercorns

~Plum Sauce

Combine all of the ingredients, minus the cilantro, in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove pan from heat, stir in cilantro, and let sit for 15 minutes or so to let the flavors meld.

~Pork Chops

Preheat your oven to 350

Warm olive oil in a cast iron skillet or oven-safe pan over medium to medium-high heat. When your oil begins to shimmer, gently place pork chops in a pan and sear one side for about 3-4 minutes.

Using your tongs, flip pork chop to sear other aside. As chop is searing, brush plum sauce over seared side.

Flip chop, brush second side with plum sauce and place pan in preheated oven.

Cook pork chop for about 15-20 minutes, turning it with your tongs a few times during cooking time. If you have a meat thermometer, the center of the cut should read at 165.

Serve over a bed of micro greens.

~Braised Baby Bok Choy

Bring broth and butter to a simmer in a large saucepan. Add bok choy, garlic and rice wine vinegar. Cover and let simmer for about 5 minutes until bok choy is tender.

Remove bok choy from pan and place in a serving dish. Keeping it warm.

Bring broth mixture to a boil and let reduce to about 1/4 cup. Stir in sesame oil, lime juice and ground pepper to taste.

Pour mixture over bok choy and serve with miso soup of your choice. I like chickpea miso made by Miso Master.

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I probably shouldn’t be the one writing a New Year’s Eve post. Mostly because we’re not really doing anything this year to celebrate. Last year’s imbibing lead to a New Year’s Day hangover strong enough to peel the paint of walls and a nasty vein pulsing migraine. Then and there I told myself that I would not do the same thing to ring in 2011.

Also, Adam and Champagne don’t mix. Granted there was much wine and little food (on his part) before the Cava was opened on the eve of 2010, but, again, Adam and Champagne don’t mix. Part of me wishes I could remember what on earth he was saying that night. The other part of me is very glad I can’t. What I do remember was thinking, “Who are you?” as he babbled (possibly) philosophical nonsense to, fortunately, a drunken table of friends.  As I understand it, I should really start worrying when he incoherently starts rambling in German, which he barely speaks.

If that’s not enough, another one of my reasons to forgo the party festivities, is that I’ve just entered my 39th year on this glorious planet of ours, partying like a rock star on New Year’s eve is just not my bag anymore, man. Granted, one can easily partake of New Year’s celebration without said imbibing, but well, and we can all agree, it is very easy to fall into the swing of things, and before you know it, you’ve had nearly an entire bottle of wine to yourself. Before Champagne.

So this year, in lieu of braving Portland’s streets and winter weather, Adam and I will be in our jammies watching a post-apocalyptic movie starring the gorgeous Viggo Mortensen and sipping wine. In bed.

In light of my reader’s upcoming celebrations, I thought I’d share a little hors d’oeuvres treat that will win you friends and appease your enemies.


Eggplant and Walnut Crostini

Amanda Hesser’s, The Essential New York Times Cookbook, provided the inspiration for this recipe. I didn’t change too terribly much, as the recipe is perfect as is. I traded walnuts for pine nuts and omitted the basil for an extra pinch or two of mint.

By the way, if you haven’t picked up Amanda’s book, you are missing out. I absolutely love this cookbook. Not only is it an eclectic mix of NY Times recipes spanning 150 years, her tidbits and stories make it a highly entertaining and amusing read.  Lately, when I am at home, this book rarely leaves my side.

What you’ll need~

1 medium eggplant, about 1 pound, trimmed, peeled and sliced to about 1/2 inch thickness

Olive oil

1/3 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled

Sea Salt

Juice of one lemon

Black pepper

Handful of freshly chopped mint

Handful of freshly chopped Italian parsley

Toasted baguette slices or crackers of your choice

Preheat your broiler. Brush olive oil on each side of the sliced eggplant and place on baking sheet. Make sure your  rack is about 6 inches from the heat source. Broil for about four minutes, until golden. Turn slices and broil side for four minutes.

Remove from broiler and stack eggplant. Hesser’s trick for allowing the steam to finish cooking the eggplant.

Place walnuts, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt in your food processor and pulse until mixture is smooth.  Coarsely chop your eggplant and add to walnut mixture. Blend. Stir in lemon juice and herbs. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on crackers or toasted baguette slices and garnish with a mint leaf. Pair with, yes, Champagne.

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