Monday, February 28, 2011


This is a Mexican pork and hominy soup or stew that I made around 6 years ago by accident. I was going to make a pork and bean soup and ended up making something close to pozole according to my Dad. It is one of his favourite things to have when he goes to Mexico - but I have never been to Mexico, nor have I seen it at any Mexican restaurant up here, Serendipity I guess?

The soup/stew has its origins in the old Aztec empire. It was ceremonial dish to be consumed after the ritual human sacrifice. Suffice it to say, that before being conquered and subjugated by the Spanish the Aztecs weren't using pork as their ceremonial meat of choice. *cough*
I don't have cannibalistic tendencies so I stuck to pork. I made a stock of parsley, cilantro (key, very key) onion, garlic, some chopped habanero chili and a whole chipotle pepper. After browning the pork hocks I added them in along with some white beans I had soaked over night. As the soup cooked I added the hominy and then when it finished off I added the squeezed lime and let it sit. I had intended to top it with some shredded iceberg lettuce in addition to some more cilantro, but I forgot the lettuce. I see from one pic that they used avocado to top it off, fitting actually.
Geo hates cilantro, but if you don't try it yourself.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Falafel Queen?

I have been craving falafel for a long time. I've never made it myself before, but have had it in restaurants the odd time, with salads or in a pita. I love it...the coriander, cumin and crunch to the chic peas? Mmmm. It is a perfectly yummy vegetarian food that I've never felt was trying to be something fake meatyish. Just it's own middle eastern yumminess.
I decided that tonight, since I got home at a normal human hour, I would attempt falafel myself for supper. I found a recipe a while back that mentioned baking falafel instead of deep frying them in oil and I hunted it up. Healthy AND yummy? I was in. Thankfully J will try anything I make once as long as there's no seafood involved, so I decided to have it in some pitas with tzatziki, diced tomato and cucumber, lettuce, and some feta.
I picked up some fresh parsley on the way home, and altho there were no pitas to be had, I found some good flat bread wraps that would work. I gathered the following and modifies things a bit to my taste to get the following recipe:

-1/4 c finely chopped onion
- a 540 mL can of chic peas, rinsed and drained
-1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
- 4 small cloves garlic, minced finely
- 1 generous t ground cumin
-1/4 t ground ground coriander (I ground up some seeds in my mortar and pestle. Smells. SO. good.)
-1/4 t salt
-1/4 t baking soda
- 1 rounded T flour (I would have used 2 T of bread crumbs too but hadn't any...sigh)
-1 egg, beaten
-pepper to taste (~8 grinds of the pepper mill)
(you could add some fresh cilantro too - I've seen it in some recipes -but I hate the none here. No soapy supper for me...)

~2 t olive oil, for frying
-1/2 a lemon of some lemon juice (optional) for flavour at the end

Turn on the oven to 400.
I sauteed the garlic and onion for a few minutes until they softened a bit. Then I put the drained chic peas in a bowl and mashed them with my hand mixer. You could use a food processor at this point, if you're not so into texture. The hand mixing left the odd bit of parsley and onion texture - I like it that way. Then I added the the rest of the ingredients and, because I wasn't using the food processor, I just mixed it up well with my hands. Then I formed the mush into 8 small patties (I'm too uncoordinated to try and deal with little balls of falafel) about 2 inches in diameter and about 1/2 inch think and let them sit for 15 minutes - this helps keep them from falling apart.

After this I fried them about 4 minutes a side on medium heat in a bit of olive oil to brown and crisp them up on the outside. Then I transferred them to a cookie sheet and baked them another 12 minutes (6 minutes a side) in the oven to cook them through and crisp them up a bit. When I took them out I lightly drizzled them with bit of lemon juice and then we served them up warm, broken up into a few pieces wrapped up in the flat bread with some tzatziki, diced tomato and cucumber, lettuce, feta and a drop or two of greek dressing and a bit more pepper.

These were delicious. They didn't have the breadcrumby crunch I'm used to, but I think it could be remedied by adding a bit of breadcrumbs to the mix. They aren't deep fried so they aren't quite as crunchy, but the outsides were nice and brown and crispy and the flavour of them was AMAZING! Better than a lot I've had before. The recipe I modified says this should serve 2, but since we had lots with them, there are some leftovers for my lunch salad tomorrow.
If you swap out of the egg for a vegan friendly binding agent these would be a tasty vegan entre.

I must say: give falafel a try - they are bits of crispy, healthy vegetarian goodness. DEFINITELY in our regular meal rotation!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Curried Goat Stew

At the time of this posting, this is a work in progress. I have never had goat before, but given how much my father hates it would seem to be worth trying. I asked some Kenyan and Somali people at work what they would suggest for making a goat stew and took their advice to heart. Yesterday, I browned some goat meat in a pan with curry powder, black pepper, shallot and garlic. This morning I placed that meat in my slow cooker with water, onion, cabbage, carrots, beans and barley. The seasoning in the stew included a bay leaf, more curry powder, cumin, black and green cardamom, star anise, three cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. One half hour ago, I added a variety of mushrooms, a Hungarian pepper, and some butternut squash I cut up and browned in a pan.

Smells great, though I have no idea how any of this will taste. I am hoping it will have thickened up enough before I head to bed, but I may just let this stew until tomorrow morning.

- Magnus

Addendum: After writing this I was not that happy with the flavour of the stew. The Hungarian peppers added nothing to the flavour and the stew was lacking that certain something, it needed another dimension. More black pepper was my initial idea and I fought my temptation to add habanero. I ended up adding some cooking chocolate (60% cocoa) that my Mum sent home with me at Christmas time. I would say chocolate/cocoa added the dimension I was looking, without making the stew overly sweet. Still think it could have used some heat though.
I sent some home with Geo in a butternut squash "bowl" to try.