Mediterranean Rice

November 24, 2012 By: Megabeth Category: Side Dishes

You can make plain rice any day of the week, but with a few extra items (many you probably already have in your pantry) you can take an ordinary side-dish and turn it into something a bit more interesting.

Cooking the rice in tomato juice adds a deep flavor to the base of this recipe. Add to that the salty capers and robust sun-dried tomatoes so it takes on a lighter note. And, finally, who can resist the taste of an artichoke heart, which rounds out this dish.


Warm Cottage Cheese, Artichoke and Sundried Tomato Dip

July 29, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Snacks/Appetizers

This recipe almost turned me off with the thought of “warm cottage cheese”. I’m a purest when it comes to cottage cheese. I like a little salt and a little pepper on my cold cottage cheese. Warm cottage cheese gives me the willies. But, for the sake of adventure, I figured I’d try this appetizer dip…and I’m glad I did.

The original recipe also called for marinated artichokes and regular sun-dried tomatoes. Since I was on a binge of cleaning out my larder, I used marinated sun-dried tomatoes and regular artichoke hearts soaked in water. I also did a little tinkering with the ingredients to cut down some of the fat.. I opted to use both a fat-free cottage cheese and a fat free Greek yogurt. I knew that the oil from the sundried tomatoes and the cheddar cheese would help keep the dip moist.

Finally, we have another bumper crop of herbs growing. When they get too bushy for my kitchen counter, I cut pieces off and save them in my handy-dandy herb mill. I currently have a nice mix of parsley, basil (both regular and red leaf), thyme and oregano in mine. I supplemented the flat leaf parsley in this recipe with a few turns of the mill.

My fears of having to munch on “warm cottage cheese” were assuaged after my first bite. Depending on how much you blend the rest of the ingredients, you can end up with a smooth texture or you can keep some of the texture. The brightness of the sundried tomatoes paired nicely with the mellowness of the artichoke hearts. I’ve also had a chance to eat this cold as a spread on crackers. It’s tres good.

All in all, this was a very easy dip to whip up. It cooks very quickly so if you have something else in the oven that needs more time, you can throw this in there with it and have something to serve to tame the hungry crowd in your living room.

Warm Cottage Cheese, Artichoke and Sundried Tomato Dip
Adapted from Imagelicious

  • 1 cup fat-free cottage cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons fat free greek yogurt (you could also use sour cream or mayonnaise)
  • 5-6 artichoke hearts packed in water
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves (or a variety of other fresh herbs to your liking)
  • 1/3 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 6 halves, marinated sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

– Process the cottage cheese in a blender or a food processor until it becomes smooth and not grainy anymore.

Warm Cottage Cheese, Artichoke and Sundried Tomato Dip


Warm Cottage Cheese, Artichoke and Sundried Tomato Dip

– Add the rest of the ingredients and process until the desired consistency.

Warm Cottage Cheese, Artichoke and Sundried Tomato Dip

– It can be processed into a very smooth paste or left a little bit chunky. Season to taste. Pour the dip into an ovenproof dish.

Warm Cottage Cheese, Artichoke and Sundried Tomato Dip

– Bake at 350F (180C) for about 15 minutes until the dip is warm and melting.

– Serve with toasted bread or crackers.

Warm Cottage Cheese, Artichoke and Sundried Tomato Dip

Veggin’ Cookbook Challenge: Fenugreek-Flavoured Potatoes

September 23, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Cookbook Chronicle Challenge, Side Dishes

Almost a decade ago, a small Indian Spices & Appliances store in our neighborhood closed down to make way for a new condo building. They had a clearout sale where I picked up a couple of interesting cookbooks before they closed up shop. Although they promised to return to the new building, I am sad to report that, alas, they have not. Instead we have a tennis specialty store and a “Blinds by Tomorrow”. Boy…am I thrilled. At least I’m left with a couple cookbooks and the memory of a great locally owned store that still makes me smile.

Summer Cookery, by Rohini Singh, was originally published in 1996 in India. It features everything from “refreshing coolers”, pulses and rice, to sections called “vegetable platter” and “preserving summer”. This is an omnivore’s cookbook, but is pretty overflowing with the vegetable options.

The preface is a chatty homage to summer cooking. At the end of the preface, Rohini Singh reveals that her six-year-old daughter was her “testing ground.” She says that “a callous, unmindful-of-consequences “Yuk” was often the final verdict when I presented her with one of my new dishes.” She continues, “Most of the recipes featured in this book have passed this stringent test” after some modification so they they would be worthy of a second-helping from her harshest critic. So, if the recipe made it to the cookbook it must be good.

There are several pages of photos and nice long introductions about summer cooking the precede each section.

Each recipe features a little snippet of advice or a description of the dish. My favorite was for poppy-seed potatoes: “Designed to dope you into a deep slumber in hot summer afternoons, these potatoes are a specialty from Bengal.” The author also provides some recipe variations and leftover suggestions as well as what utensils are required. If you stay away from the meat section, everything in the rest of the book is vegetarian.

Flipping through the cookbook you can easily see that a wide variety of ingredients are used. Most are easy to find while others you may have to find an Indian specialty store or use a substitute.

The fenugreek-flavoured potatoes are introduced by the following, “These really get made in a jiffy and are perfect when last-minute guests drop in or for that matter, for any hot day when being too long in the kitchen is a bother.” That pretty much sums up this dish. On the next go round I might spice it up a bit with some red pepper to create more of a bite. Although it says “if you like”, add that lemon juice at the end. It adds a nice punch to these potatoes. And, finally, I halved this recipe and it still made a lot with plenty of leftovers.

Fenugreek-Flavoured Potatoes
Summer Cookery

6 largish potatoes, peeled, boiled, and cubed
2 tomatoes, chopped
2-3 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons dried fenugreek
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt to taste

Utensil: a heavy-bottomed pan or karhai with a lid

1. Heat the oil. Add the cumin seeds. Don’t let them turn too dark.
2. Add the turmeric, fenugreek and salt. Fry from a few seconds.

3. Add the tomatoes and fry till the fat separates.

4. Add the potatoes, stir well, cover and keep on the fire for 7-10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

5. Sharpen with the lemon juice if you like, before serving.

Veggin’ Cookbook Chronicles: Grilled Broccoli with Lemon-Soy Marinade

June 21, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Side Dishes

“Veggies are a grill’s best friend,” so says the back of my next cookbook. Indeed. I’ve made many a recipe from The New Vegetarian Grill from Andrea Chesman and it still hasn’t steered me wrong. My edition is from 2008. This cookbook features 250 “flame-kissed recipes for fresh, inspired meals” according to its subtitle.

The beginning of the book features grilling tips and advice and the various methods for outdoor cooking and grilling indoors. The author intersperses more tips throughout the book. Some are relevant to the recipe on the same page while others sort of randomly appear. If you don’t read carefully you might miss some good tips.

There are no photos or illustrations in the book but the descriptions do well to describe the flavors of the dish. Also, read the recipe completely through, not all of them are suitable for making at a cookout. Some require some initial preparation on the grill and the rest of the dish has to be made back in the kitchen.

There are several veggie burger recipes but also unexpected items such as my next recipe – Soy-grilled Broccoli. When was the last time you saw someone grill broccoli? I’d say never. But, that will now change. This dish came out very well. The broccoli holds up well to the high heat, gets browned and crispy, and the marinade quite strong flavored.

Soy-Grilled Broccoli
3 stalks broccoli
1/2 cup Lemon-Soy marinade (recipe below)

Prepare a medium-hot fire in the grilled with a lightly oiled vegetable grill rack in place.

Trim the broccoli by stripping away the leaves and tough outter peel. (Note: I used my vegetable peeler to clean off the peel.) Cut the stems into thin strips or slice on the diagonal about 1/4 inch thick. Separate the florets into bite-size pieces. Pour the marinade over the broccoli

and toss to coat.

Lift the broccoli out of the marinade with a slotted spoon or tongs and grill, tossing frequently, until tender and grill-marked, about 5 minutes.

Serve hot. Pour any leftover marinade into a small pitcher and pass at the table with the broccoli.

Lemon-Soy Marinade
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sesame oil
6 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, minced

Combine the soy sauce, water, sesame oil, lemon juice, and garlic in an airtight jar and shake well. Alternatively, combine the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. This dressing separates quickly, so be sure to shake it just before using.

Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Makes about 1 3/4 cups

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