An Open Cookbook

An Open Cookbook


Spicy Roasted Garbanzo Beans

A few nights ago, my friends H and J had me over for a midweek dinner.  H planned on making an Indian eggplant and rice dish, so I was racking my brain for a week, trying to figure out what else to bring besides wine...thank goodness for airport inspiration.

The airport is one of the few places I treat myself to buying a magazine.  So last Saturday I slipped into the Hudson News store before getting on the plane.  It was a difficult decision, but I settled on Whole Living.  I had actually never heard of this publication before.   Not that that is saying much though...I am generally more of a book girl.  But magazines are nice noncommittal reading tools for plane rides.  You can read a page, rest your head back for a little snooze before the drink cart comes, and then start back up on the next article.

I came across this recipe in a section highlighting a New Year's cleanse/detox program.  Roasted garbanzos are such a great protein boost after a workout or mid-morning treat.  Spicing them up is even better.  There are so many options, but this combination is a good variety of spicy and savory with a gingery zest.  Add more or less cayenne depending on your heat preference.

I added a higher temperature and 10 more minutes to the original recipe, after two attempts at the recipe.  The other night, I didn't have enough time to cool the beans, so they softened on the drive over to H and J's.  But I did the recipe again tonight, and they turned out much crispier from letting them sit out to cool on the baking sheet.  So if you have the time, let yours do the same. 

Spicy Roasted Garbanzo Beans
Adapted from Whole Living magazine
Makes about 1 cup

1 15oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Mix all the spices and salt together in a small ramekin.  Set aside.  Toss the garbanzo beans with the olive oil.  Add spices and salt and mix well.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.  Pour the beans onto the baking sheet.  Put in oven and roast for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Take out of oven and allow to fully cool on the baking sheet.  Enjoy for a snack or mix into a stirfry.


Stretching Out

I spent this past weekend with my mom on sunny Coronado Island.  The warmth of the sun and the comfort of being with my mom was just the R&R that I needed.  In the midst of cold and rainy winter, I welcomed the sun with open arms.  We went to the beach at least once a day, and in the picture below, we had just caught the sunset.  The air was perfumed with bursts of warm ocean breezes that left your lips with a light hint of salt. 

We spent our long weekend doing all types of restorative activities including yoga on the beach, long walks, shopping in the cute local boutiques, drinking wine and tea, and eating very well.  We discovered so many great little spots.  We like to order two different things and share them so we can try all the flavors.  Our favorite restaurant was a beachy cafe called Stretch's.  They had all kinds of interesting sandwiches and wraps.  The ones featured above are what we shared on our last full day.  The sandwich had a lentil burger, sprouts, guacamole, tomatoes, onions, jack cheese and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds.  The seeds added a nice saltiness to the sandwich...and holy guacamole was it good.  The wrap was one of the most interesting wraps I have ever had.  It is called the Mission Wrap.  It has goat cheese, spinach, sauteed mushrooms and onions, sprouts and dried figs.  A little bit of sweet with the savory mushrooms and onions and the creaminess of the goat cheese, were an absolute perfect flavor package.

The owner was so nice...she sat down at the table next to us and answered our line of questions of all the ingredients.  She told us the dozens of components and steps to making the lentil burger and how it has evolved over the years.  We talked to the table of mom and daughter next to us about how they look forward to coming to Stretch's every time they visit.  It was such a welcoming and warm little place, that very quickly got added to my top ten favorite lunch places.

I am going to include all the components of the wrap below...although I am not sure if it can be recreated completely, without the ambiance.  Please try at home and let me know!!

Stretch's Cafe Fig and Goat Cheese Wrap

1 whole wheat tortilla
Goat cheese
Lots of spinach
Red onions and mushrooms
Dried mission figs

Saute the mushrooms and red onions in oil over medium heat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until well done.  Set aside.  Spread a healthy amount of goat cheese on the tortilla.  Add many layers of spinach and a handful of sprouts.  Sprinkle with the sauteed veggies and top with figs.  With TLC, carefully roll into burrito shape.  Close your eyes, take a bite and visualize a warm salty beach.


Corn and Whole Wheat Couscous Chowder

I have needed a little extra boost this past week, so tonight I cooked a hearty soup to warm the soul.  I got this soup idea from a weekly email from Vegetarian Times awhile back.  I often collect recipes in my inbox from magazines and emails I send myself from recipe websites for inspiration. 

The original soup calls for quinoa instead of couscous.  But I got home from the grocery thinking I had quinoa, but alas...did not.  Luckily I have a cabinet full of other grains.  So tonight couscous it was.  The recipe also called for soymilk, cilantro and lime, which I omitted.  I wanted a lighter, broth-based soup rather than cream-based. 

The shallots also caught my eye.  I have a new appreciation for shallots ever since the sweet potato with carmelized shallot dish I made for the Fall Harvest House Dinner Party entry from October.  The recipe also called for a red pepper, which I had promptly forgotten at work.  So carrots made their way into the soup instead.  My head has not felt attached to the rest of my body lately, so I was glad I had other ingredients to ad-lib.  

I ate the soup alongside sauteed collard greens, from the half of a bunch leftover from the wraps from Tuesday night.  So I made a balsamic and soy sauce reduction to drizzle over the greens.  The recipe for that will appear another time.  But wow was it good...nice, light and colorful!

Corn and Whole Wheat Couscous Chowder
Adapted from Vegetarian Times
Makes 6-8 servings

3/4 cup whole wheat couscous, dry
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 medium red potato, diced into small cubes
2 medium carrots, diced
2 medium shallots, minced
2 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth
1-2 cups water
2 Tbsp dried parsley
Red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste
Dash of ground cumin

Toast the couscous and cumin seeds in a saute pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until they become aromatic, stirring often.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil.  Add potatoes, carrots, shallots and corn.  Saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes.  Pour in vegetable broth.  Bring to a simmer and cover for 8-10 minutes.  Add couscous and cumin seeds.  Cover and allow couscous to cook 5 minutes.  This will soak up a lot of water, so add 1-2 cups of water to increase liquid level.  Add dried parsley, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and ground cumin.  Stir well and allow to cook for about 5 more minutes.  Adjust seasonings to your taste.  Sprinkle extra parsley on top of each portioned bowl.

Serve as a starter soup, alongside sauted greens or with a big chunk of crusty bread.


Collard Green Wraps

Ever since last night, I haven't been able to get the idea of collard greens as a sandwich wrap out of my head.  Thank you to B in D.C., I just learned of a great recipe site called  There are loads of great photos and recipe ideas.

After a really good and hard yoga class tonight, I wanted to replenish with a hearty and healthy dinner.  So I went for the collard green wrap.  Assembling the wrap is quite simple...

Soak two greens per person in warm water and vinegar

Dry well and then carefully slice off the tough part of the stem

Layer two halfway on top of each other for a solid base

Layer your favorite sandwich ingredients

Roll up like a burrito
The following is what sounded good to me, but feel free to use whatever ingredients you have on hand or what sounds good to you.  So many options!

Collard Green Wraps

2 leaves per wrap
Large bowl of warm water
Apple cider vinegar ( a few splashes)

Dijon mustard
Deli turkey
Shredded carrots
Sliced red pepper
Green onions, chopped
Brie, cut into to chunks

Place collard greens into warm water with vinegar for 10 minutes to soften leaves.  While they soak, prep all the fillings.  Remove collard greens from water and dry well.  Carefully slice the tough part of the stem so you have a pliable green to work with.  Layer two greens on top each other, covering about half way, as pictured above.  Layer the toppings with mustard, turkey, carrtos, red pepper, green onions and brie.  Roll up like a burrito, by taking up two opposite sides, and then roll.  Slice down the middle.  Have a great meal!


Pizza Stone Extravaganza

This posting is going to be short and sweet so you can get down to the important part...the recipe, therefore you can eat it sooner!  E got me a pizza stone for Christmas this year, so Tuesday night it faced the fire for the first time.   The stone is dusted with cornmeal so the dough wouldn't stick (which was a success).  I divided the dough into four pizzettes, each one with different toppings.  The overall topping profile included shredded Brussels sprouts, steamed broccoli, broiled eggplant, red pepper, cooked and chopped spinach.  We layered them on top of homemade red sauce and garlic olive oil sauce and topped with parmesan.  Below are the pictures of assembly:

This is the lovely reduced red sauce

The ingredient assembly station

First layer...sort of looks like butter and jam on bread

Each pizza got its own personality from both of us sprinkling the toppings

Entering the fire

This one is my favorite: garlic olive oil sauce with shredded Brussels sprouts, broccoli and spinach
One quick note:  everything below is exactly how we made the pizzas from start to finish.  I highly encourage using your favorite toppings, sauces and cheese.  You certainly don't have to have a pizza stone either.  A baking sheet with parchment will do just fine as well.  There are hundreds of possibilities for have fun!  And please leave a comment on what you made...

Pizza Stone Extravaganza

Pizza dough recipe from September's posting called Italian Dinner Party

1 large can of whole, peeled tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
Lots of pepper to taste

Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

6 Brussels sprouts, shredded and sauteed
1/2 cup raw spinach, steamed and chopped
1 whole red pepper, cut into rings
1 eggplant, cut into thin slivers, salted, let sit for 1 hour to remove water, brush with oil and broil until halfway cooked



Get the pizza dough going first, so that while it is rising, you can prep everything else.  Next make the sauce.  Puree the whole can of tomatoes in food processor until smooth.  Transfer to a pot and bring to a simmer.  Add the garlic, basil, oregano and pepper.  Stir and taste it intermittently to evenly flavor and cook.  Add more herbs or pepper as needed.  Simmer for about 45 minutes or until the sauce has reduced to half the amount and is a thick, spreadable consistency.

Prep the olive oil sauce by adding garlic, oil, salt and pepper together and whisking.

Prep all the veggies as stated above. 

Preheat oven to 425 and heat the stone.  Carefully remove and coat with cornmeal.  Add the dough.  Top with sauce, toppings and cheese.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until done.  Have a great meal!

The artwork of both of us


Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic in Green Onion Dressing

Do you ever have one of those weekends where by night you realize you haven't had one vegetable all day?  I had one such weekend, especially on Saturday.  Although it was vegetable was very action packed.  First we went over to one of E's friends houses to watch the Seahawks game.  In no way do I call myself a football fan, but it was such an exciting game!  Filled with Seattle pride, we left the party to go watch my friend K in a roller derby competition.   They were on a tilted track, which multiples the degree of difficulty by at least ten.  This was one of the most exciting sporting events I have ever watched.  I got a glimpse of what it must feel like to be a football fan...with my heart racing, yelling out words that I didn't even know would escape my mouth, jumping up uncontrollably.  What a rush!

And then to finish the night off, we went to M and J's house for a Christmas in January White Elephant party.  There were about twenty of us there, so the competitive stakes were high.  I started off with a great sushi dish set.  Although I don't eat sushi, I loved the bright turquoise color.  But one thing I have learned is not to get too connected to the prize until the game is over...because alas, the dishes were swiped away from me.  Then I stole a dessert bag filled with chocolate covered corn nuts, peppermint chocolate bar and salted caramels.  E took a set of three bamboo cutting boards, got them stolen and then stole them back...which I am hoping he will share one with me.

So after a day of pizza, hot pretzels and bacon wrapped dates, I wanted a vegetable filled dinner last night.  I wanted something with easy prep, healthy and flavorful.  So on my menu planning bus ride home I came up with roasted cauliflower.   And thought roasted garlic would add a rich dimension.  So I got home, turned on the oven, and roasted the garlic while I got the kitchen in order.

First I chopped up the califlower into medium and small sized pieces and tossed them with oil, salt and pepper.  Then I used my new Silpat to cover the baking sheet.  A Silpat is a re-usable mat you put on the baking sheet for roasting, baking cookies or whatever your heart desires...wonderful!

While they were roasting, I made the dressing with vinegar, mustard, green onions and oil.  Nice, light and flavorful.  The cauliflower roasted for about 30 minutes at 430 degrees, and then I bumped the heat up to broil for about 10 more minutes.  Then I tossed them with the dressing and roasted garlic for a warm and filling dinner rounded out with a glass of red.

Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic in Green Onion Dressing

1 garlic bulb
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1 head of cauliflower, cut into small pieces
Olive oil to coat
Salt and pepper to taste

3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 green onion, chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 430 degrees.  Cut a small cross section off the top of a bulb of garlic, so a small part of each clove is showing.  Place in a square of foil.  Drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper on top.  Wrap garlic up in the foil.  Place in oven for about 45 minutes. 

Meanwhile, prep the cauliflower by cutting it into small pieces.  Toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread onto a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.  (The cauliflower can share the oven with the garlic.) Bake for 40 minutes at 430 degrees.  Toss a few times to distribute the heat.  After 30 minutes, turn on broiler and cook for about 10 more minutes, more or less depending on your oven.  Cook until cauliflower is beginning to brown.

Prep the dressing by whisking the vinegar, mustard, onions, salt and pepper.  Gradually stir in the olive oil and whisk thoroughly.

Remove each of the garlic cloves from the bulb. 

Toss the cauliflower with the garlic and enough dressing to coat fully.  There will likely be leftover dressing.  You can save this for a salad or more roasted vegetables.



Basil Pesto Salad

When in doubt, use pesto.  That's my motto for flavor.  It goes well on, vegetables, sandwiches, or a little dab behind the ears for good measure.  One great benefit besides the flavor is after eating it, you get a basil-y lip moisturizing treatment that lasts well after the meal. 

I got home from my first yoga class of 2011 last  night, and boy was it just what the doctor ordered.  My shoulders have remained crunched up to my ears since the plane ride a week ago.  VERY slowly but surely I felt the tension ease from the tight rubber bands residing in my hamstrings.  I floated to my car afterwards, barely noticing the rain.

After a class like that, all I wanted to eat was a light and color rich dinner.  My fridge is stocked with lots of vegetables for the start of 2011 and remembered a container of pesto in my freezer from a month ago.  Pesto, by the way, freezes very nicely.  You can even freeze it in an ice cube tray, for when you need just a little bit.  Just fill the slots with pesto, and once they are frozen, you can pop them out, put in a bag and keep in the freezer.

The following recipe is what I made with what I had at home.  You can of course use the pesto in any way that suits you and yours.  I didn't use parmesan in my recipe, but added it in the recipe below in case you want to add it.  It is a pretty versatile sauce too...try using walnuts instead of pinenuts, or cilantro instead of basil.  Basically mixing any flavorful fresh leafy herb with nuts, oil and garlic is going to brighten your eyes and make your day just that much better.  Enjoy!

Basil Pesto Salad

2-3 cups basil, taken off stems (one large salad green size box from grocery)
1 clove garlic, chopped roughly
3 Tbsp pine nuts
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (optional)
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil

1 red pepper, cut into small cubes
2 medium carrots, coined
3/4 cup corn

Take basil leaves off stems and wash and dry thoroughly.  Place in food processor or blender.  Add garlic, pine nutes, lemon juice, salt and pepper and cheese if you are using it.  Blend until you have a uniformly rough paste.  While processor/blender is still on, gradually drizzle the olive oil.  Continue to add oil until the pesto becomes smooth consistency.  Taste and adjust with extra salt, pepper or extra oil or lemon juice.  Reblend if necessary.  Pour into medium sized bowl and set aside.

Prep veggies.  Toss into the pesto bowl.  Mix well.  Eat immediately or refrigerate a few hours before serving. 


Ode To Peanut Butter

Peanut butter, oh peanut butter how I love thee...

I am pretty sure this love affair began when I was a little girl.  Being the selective eater that I was (note that I said was...I have become much more adventurous as I have gotten older), most nights at the dinner table I was given the choice of what the rest of the family was eating...or a spoonful of peanut butter.  So naturally I chose the latter.

I would sit and savor every lick of the spoon as if it was a lollipop.  Sometimes I'd even sit underneath the table with spoon in hand, while my mom and I waited for everyone else to sit down.  This initial exposure has led me down many other peanut butter cloaked paths.

As I got older and more matured in my tastes, I became more adventurous with mixing the peanut butter.  I had my first taste of peanut butter ice cream when I was in junior high on a family vacation to Florida.  Picture this: a freshly ironed waffle cone filled to the brim with vanilla ice cream  mixed with spoonfuls of peanut butter.  Standing in the humid summer heat, after a day at the beach, eating peanut butter ice cream...this is one of those happy places my mind travels.

I used to work at a cafe in Colorado that had the most beautifully colored dessert case.  Rhubarb crisp, raspberry white chocolate and poppy seed cake, german chocolate cake, linzer tortes and lemon bars were among a few of the favorites.  My co-worker A, ate so many lemon bars that the owner told her she was going to turn into a lemon bar.  But tucked in the back corner was the peanut butter pie with a half inch layer of chocolate covering it.  This pie alone was reason enough for me to get up at six in the morning to open the store.  There were a few occasions where I could be seen through the front window, holding a slice in a piece of wax a Muppet eating a piece of pizza.

Sometimes when I am in a bind for something sweet after dinner, I have been known to mix peanut butter, chocolate chips and oats together...a no bake cookie of sorts.  Or peanut butter, vanilla ice cream and protein powder.  I will thank my high school friend M for the ice cream and protein powder idea.  If you like the grainy taste that malt adds, then you will like protein powder in ice cream.

All of this peanut butter talk was inspired by a gift of buckeyes from my parents.  Anyone from Ohio is familiar with this sweet ode to the state tree...the buckeye.  It is essentially a ball of peanut butter dipped in chocolate, as pictured.  Any sort of holiday, my mom goes to a chocolate shop at gets a few buckeyes for me.  They come in a little Chinese take out container...what a happy week when this little container can be found on my kitchen table. 

The funny part about all this sweet talk (and my best friend B will think this funny) is that I am not even a dessert person.  The most dessert that I eat in a year is when I am visiting her.  But when it comes to peanut heart is taken.


Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades)

Happy New Year!  This year's New Year's Eve was filled lots a lot of laughter, food, dancing and cab hailing.  I wanted to take something special to the first party at N's house and for it to be easy-to-eat-while-standing-and-talking food. 

So while walking around downtown after getting home from the airport, I came up with dolmades.  After having made them for T's Superbowl party last year, I decided that these are a) once a year kind of recipes and b) special occasion only.  They take a lot of TLC and several hours to make...but the reward of good food and lots of compliments is well worth it.

This time around, I added a new spin to the traditional ingredients.  Instead of pine nuts and currants, I used almonds and chopped dates.  This was a much less expensive recipe and equally as good.  So I prepped all the filling ingredients first, so all I had to do was empty each one into the pan or bowl. 

This is what the filling looks like after the onions, garlic and almonds are sauteed and mixed with everything else.  One cool thing that I didn't know about dolmades until I made them last year, is that you add the rice in raw, so that when you boil the stuffed leaves, it cooks and expands to make a nice final package.

The initial rolling process is a little bit awkward, but after a few times through, you get into a nice groove.  You start to realize what shape of leaf is going to work better than others.  And they do come in quite a few shapes within the same jar.  This particular jar had a lot of sediment, so I rinsed them a little before putting them in the simmer water. 

After looking through about a dozen recipes, I concluded that the traditional version requires a lot of oil while cooking.  I chose to keep them as light as possible, so I boiled them in mostly water and lemon juice and a splash of olive oil.  Another important part of the the instructions is placing a plate or the bottom of a springform pan on top of the dolmades while boiling.  And then I put a heavy pitcher full of water on top of that.  This ensures that the little stuffed leaves won't unravel while boiling.  And after all that hard work, you'll want them all to turn out.  And oh my...what a great way to start the new year.  I saved a few for us to snack on this weekend after all the parties.  So please let me know if you take the plunge and make them.  It is so much fun!

Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves)
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse's Dolmades on
Makes about 4 dozen

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1 cup white rice, raw
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup pitted dates, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
3 lemons, 2 juiced and 1 reserved for sqeezing on at the end
1 jar grape leaves
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onions in 2 Tbsp olive oil until translucent, for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and almonds, completely integrating for about 2 minutes.  Turn off heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Toss the rice, salt, dates, mint, parsley and 1 lemon's worth of juice into the onion mix.  Mix thoroughly and set aside.

Bring a medium covered pot of water to a boil, and then turn down to simmer.  Clear off a big section of your counter or kitchen table and line with towels.  Take about 5 grape leaves at a time, and drop in hot water for a few seconds, swirling them around a little.  Remove them from the water with tongs and lay them flat on prepared towels.  Allow to cool off a bit.  Repeat with the remaining leaves, until you have about 4 1/2 dozen good sized leaves without tears.

Start assembling the grape leaves by taking one leaf at a time.  Put about a teaspoon of filling in.  The first few will seem a little awkward, but you will quickly get into a groove.  Pull the two ends in toward the center, and roll the filling inside with the other two sides, as if you are making a burrito.  Be careful to not fold too tightly, so the leaves don't break and also because the rice will expand during cooking.

Place the finished rolled leaves into a dutch oven or large pan, seam side down.  This is important, so the leaves don't open while boiling.  Finish rolling all leaves and fill the dutch oven or pan.  I had to use one of each because I had so many.  Fill the pan with enough water to cover the leaves.  Pour in the remaining lemon juice from 1 lemon.  Drizzle a little olive oil over top. 

Cover the leaves with a heat resistant plate.  I used the bottom of a springform pan.  Put a heavy weight on top of this, to keep the plate down.  I used a glass pitcher full of water.  Bring to a boil, and let simmer for 1 hour.  Monitor the cooking process frequently to be sure there is enough water in the pan.  If you need to top off with extra water, do so, to avoid burning.

After an hour, remove the grape leaves with tongs and put on a serving plate.  Squeeze a lemon over the cooked stuffed leaves for an light and fresh flavor.  Serve as an appetizer at a party, or pack in your lunch for a treat.  You will wow your friends!