Thursday, May 10, 2012

My new Sous Chef

So after a long hiatus from posting (and basically from cooking as well)... I am back.  During my pregnancy all I had energy to do was work and grow a baby.  Eric picked up the slack and has become quite a good cook himself.  He is the  master of roasted chicken and has made excellent ones both in the oven and on the grill.  Now that Amira is here and growing well, I have more energy and a new Sous Chef!

Here is one of the first things we cooked together.  This recipe is adapted from one posted on The Post Punk Kitchen (  I used New Zealand Spinach which amazingly grew in our garden when we planted nothing.  We planted New Zealand Spinach last year, but didn't get much.  Then this year, we got TONS without planting a thing.  We think the seeds from last year stayed dormant until the rain started (finally) here in Austin.  Then it took off.  My mom used some in a veggie lasagna she made for us to freeze.  Eric's mom made two batches of hungarian creamed spinach with it.  We ate some of it in salads, and I used it in this recipe.
                               Amira in our patch of New Zealand Spinach

With this recipe I also discovered the joy of coconut oil.  It smells so delicious when cooking.  I have used it in other things since then and it is soooo good.  (It also aids in lactation supposedly so for us breast feeding mothers, it is a good thing.)

Vegan Chana Masala with Mushrooms and Spinach

Spice blend:
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional, and more or less to taste)

For everything else:
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large onion, sliced in medium pieces
2 jalapenos, deseeded and thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced

1 heaping tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 lbs tomatoes, diced

3-4 large handfuls of baby spinach (or New Zealand Spinach depending on what grows well in your area or what you get a t the store/ farmer's market)
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced (I used cremini mushrooms , but you can use whatever kind you wish)
Fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (or two cans, rinsed and drained) note: 2 cups dried will give you the right amount
1 teaspoon agave
Juice of one lime, or 1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate

Cooked brown rice

First mix the spice blend in a small bowl.  

Prep all ingredients (onions, garlic, cilantro, ginger, mushrooms, tomatoes, jalapenos) before beginning to cook.  

Once the ingredients are prepped, heat the coconut oil over medium heat in a large pot.  (Enjoy the delicious smell as it heats up.)  Once it is heated, add the onions and cook until clear or browned.  (About 10 minutes)

Add the garlic, jalapenos, and ginger and saute until fragrant.  (About 1 minute)  Add cilantro and cook until wilted.  Add the spice mixture and toss them to coat the other ingredients.  Let them toast a little bit.  (They may stick to the pan a bit, but it's ok, it will come up in the next part of the recipe.)

Add the tomatoes and use the juice from them to deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Scrape up the spices as you stir.  Add mushrooms, spinach, garbanzos, salt and pepper, and agave and stir.  Cover the pan and turn the heat up to medium high heat.  Cook until the tomatoes break down stirring occasionally.  (About 15 minutes)

Remove the lid and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until it reaches the desired thickness.  It should be the thickness of marinara sauce, not too thick, not too runny.

When done, add lime juice (that's what I used) and stir.  Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve over a bed of brown rice and top with extra cilantro.  (I also serve it with naan at times, but you could use homemade pita bread which will be posted in another post.)

                                         Amira and I cooking this recipe

(I did not take a picture of the final product here.  When I make it again, I will post one.)

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