Recently my friend Pat lent me her copy of Jerusalem, a cookbook by Yotam Ottalenghi and Sami Tamimi. It’s full of stories and great recipes. I’ve adapted this recipe for the traditional lentil and rice pilaf, popular throughout the Mediterranean, by tweaking the spicing to suit my own palate. I also used canned lentils that were already prepared. The crispy onions add texture and sweet flavour making this hearty dish something special!
- 4 cooking onions, sliced very thin
- 3 T white flour
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ C oil
- 1 can of cooked lentils
- 1 C cooked brown rice
- 3 T olive oil
- 1 T mustard seeds
- 1 T coriander seeds
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp allspice
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric
- First prepare the crispy fried onions. Mix together salt and flour then sprinkle over the sliced onions and toss. Heat oil and fry the onions until they are crispy and golden brown. It takes about 7 -8 minutes. Give them a stir now and then. The flour tends to stick to the bottom of the pot. Just keep scraping it up. These little bits will brown and add crunch to the finished dish. Drain the crispy onions on paper towel and set aside.
- Rinse and drain the lentils – set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the mustard and coriander seeds. Stir over medium heat until the seeds begin to pop then add the remaining spices. Continue stirring for a minute or two then add the drained lentils, cooked rice and half of the crispy onions.
- Combine it all together. (I didn’t have any coriander so I used Cilantro Paste instead and added it to the mixture at this point).
- Salt & pepper to taste. Serve heaped into bowls and garnished with the remaining crispy onions. Glenn likes some heat so he adds some Sriracha hot sauce to his bowl at this point!
We use the left-overs for lunch the next day. I create wraps using large sized tortillas filled with the mejadra, sliced cucumber, sliced tomato and then dressed with the following sauce:
2 T mayonnaise, 2 T sour cream (or plain yogurt), 1 T cilantro paste, 2 T Sweet Thai chili Sauce
Here’s an easy recipe for using up bananas that have become too ripe. I usually have several over-ripe bananas in the freezer ready for banana mug muffins or a breakfast smoothie. Ready in five minutes, this easy version of banana bread serves one. You simply mix the ingredients up in a microwavable mug and pop it into the microwave. As you know, Glenn and I are lowering our carb intake these days. Now I know banana is usually on the hit list for low carb dieters but we still eat a small amount of banana now and then. If you are watching your carb intake, this mug muffin will add 9.9 G of carbohydrates in total to your daily count.
- ½ ripe banana, mashed
- 1 T melted butter
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 1 T stevia sweetener or sucralose (I use Sugar Twin Stevia Sweetener)
- 1 T PB2 powder or 1 T peanut butter (see note about PB2 below)
- 1 T coconut flour
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- Pinch of Salt
- Place banana in a microwavable mug and mash into a smooth paste.
- Add the egg, melted butter & vanilla and mix all the wet ingredients together with a fork until well blended.
- Now add the rest of the ingredients (PB2 powder, coconut flour, baking soda and salt) and using the fork mix everything together right in the mug.
- Microwave on high for 1 1/2 – 2 ½ minutes. My microwave is 1000 watts so I use the shorter time.
Yield: 1 serving
For those who prefer to use an oven: Pre-heat oven to 350 F and bake the muffin for 15 minutes.
Note: You may be wondering what PB2 powder is. Well, it’s a mighty fine addition to the pantry for anyone who likes peanut butter but is watching their calorie intake. PB2 powder is made from slow roasted peanuts that have been pressed to remove 85% of the fat and oil. The resulting powder is full of peanut flavour and is great for use in recipes like this Banana Nut Mug Muffin.I purchase PB2 online from: The Low Carb Grocery
Hummus is another item we make often. Versions of hummus first appeared in Cairo during the thirteenth century. It’s a dish that has definitely stood the test of time and now shows up on menus all around the world. A simple dish, hummus is a spread made from five basic ingredients: chickpeas, sesame seeds, olive oil, garlic and lemon.
- 1 15 oz. can cooked chickpeas, rinsed & drained
- 4 – 6 cloves of garlic, crushed through a garlic press
- ¼ C olive oil
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 T tahini
- ¼ tsp salt (or to taste)
Place all of the above ingredients into a blender (or food processor) and blend until the chickpeas have turned into a paste and are well blended with the other ingredients. If you use a blender you will have to stop the blender to scrape down the sides a few times until the chickpeas are broken down into a paste. Place hummus in a bowl or on a platter, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with black olives. Serve with pita bread or as a dip beside fresh veggies.
Roasted garlic often accompanies meals on our table. We love it plain and unadorned and like to include freshly roasted cloves on a board of assorted appetizers when entertaining. In fact there’s a long list of recipes we make that incorporate these mellow cloves including: Garlic Aioli, Hummus (Houmous) and our homemade Low Carb Pizza. You could almost say roasted garlic is a kitchen staple at our house!
- 1 whole garlic bulb
- 1 T olive oil
- Pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 400 F
- Brush off any loose bits of the paper-like outer coating of the whole garlic bulb. Cut the top off the whole bulb.
- Place the bulb on a piece of aluminum foil, 6” x 6” square, and drizzle 1 T olive oil over the bulb.
- Wrap the foil around the garlic bulb, place the packet on a cookie sheet and place on the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and open up the foil packet to let the garlic bulb cool. When you can handle it easily, separate into individual cloves and remove the papery skin from each clove
Ham & Cheese Strata photo by: Janet Moore
Glenn and I are hosting a Boxing Day brunch tomorrow morning and I’ll be assembling this ham and cheese strata before tucking in tonight. It will come right out of the fridge and pop into the pre-heated oven a half hour before we plan to eat. This recipe serves six but can easily be scaled up or down to suit the number at your table. It might sound odd, but I use Sweet Thai Chili sauce in the strata for added zing! Give it a try – you’ll find it adds a unique flavour to a tried and true brunch favourite.
- 2 T butter
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 6 stale croissants cubed
- 3 C of shredded old cheddar cheese (225 gm)
- 2 C of baked ham cubed
- 3 oz of cream cheese cut into small chunks
- 12 eggs
- 1½ C milk
- ½ C Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
- 1 T Dijon mustard
- 1½ tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
- ¼ tsp salt (omit if ham is salty)
- Grinding of pepper
Pre-heat oven to 350 F
- Sauté onions in melted butter until softened and beginning to brown – remove from heat and cool slightly.
- Spray large casserole or individual ramekins with cooking oil
- Place half of the cubed croissants into a large casserole dish or 6 individual ramekins. Add half of the ham, sprinkle on half of the sautéed onions, ½ of the cream cheese chunks and half of the grated cheddar cheese. Repeat this layering process ending with the rest of the grated cheddar cheese.
- Wisk the eggs, milk, Sweet Thai Chili sauce, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, thyme, salt and a grinding of pepper together in a large measuring cup.
- Pour the egg mixture over the casserole (or spread evenly amongst the ramekins) and cover with plastic wrap. The strata(s) can now be refrigerated overnight.
- In the morning pre-heat the oven to 350F and place the strata on the middle rack once the oven is hot.
- Bake for 30 minutes (20 – 25 minutes for individual ramekins).
To test for doneness insert a metal skewer into the centre of the strata. If it comes out clean the strata is ready to serve.
You don’t have to be following a gluten-free diet to love these crackers. They are a staple in my home and are often requested when I am invited out to dinner.
- 1 cup almond meal (also known as almond flour)
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 3 T poppy seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 egg white
- 1 T softened butter
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- Mix together the almond meal, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt and poppy seeds
- Add the egg white, Dijon mustard and soft butter to the dry ingredients mixing everything together using a flat spatula
- Place small mounds, about 1 tsp each, of the mixture onto two small parchment lined cookie sheets
- Flatten each mound by placing a small piece of parchment paper that has been sprayed with cooking oil over top the mound
- Press down on the mound with a flat-bottomed glass to create a flat round cracker-sized disc
- Repeat with each mound until all the mixture has been used
- Place cookie sheets on the middle rack of the pre-heated oven and bake for 8 minutes until the crackers begin to brown around their outer edge
- Cool on a wire rack and store in an air-tight container