Baked figs with cinnamon, vanilla honey and greek yogurt

Baked FigsMy father’s side of my family is from Egypt, Syria and Turkey.  Ever since I can remember, at our family reunions there was always an abundance of home-made Baklava, Mamoul, dates, and figs.  And this dessert is what taught me to love figs.

Normally, you find those dried figs that look a little daunting, but delicious none the less.  Fortunately, my family had a love affair with fresh figs, and this was the dessert that was made for extra-special occasions.  And let me tell you, it is an incredibly delicious and seductive dessert.

Figs are delicious on their own, but paired with cinnamon, honey, vanilla, baked and then a dollop of greek yogurt, they become sublime.

This is a ridiculously easy dessert, and one that will shine at your next dinner party, or even just to make for a simple weeknight’s dinner.  Trust me.  You will make this over, and over again!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4

12 fresh figs

4 cinnamon sticks, each one cut in 3 pieces to make 12 in total

1 vanilla bean

2 tbsp sugar

3-4 tbsp honey

Greek yogurt

Pre-heat the oven to 200 C.  Wash the figs, and cut them in a cross form, leaving the bottom intact.  Place in a large baking dish and  insert a cinnamon stick into each fig.

In a small bowl, place the 2 tbsp sugar.  Cut the vanilla lengthwise, and scrape the seeds into the sugar, and mix well.  Sprinkle the vanilla sugar over the figs.  Then drizzle the honey over the figs.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Place 3 figs in a bowl with some of the honey from the baking dish, and add a dollop of the greek yogurt.  Repeat for the remaining figs.

Place the honey and rest of the greek yogurt in bowls so everyone can help themselves to more if they want.

Baked figs in honey

 

 

Pretty in Pink: Beet Hummus

I find it amazing how few ingredients are pink.  And most people (including myself) are surprised when something pink does arrive on their plates.  I have 3 instances.

1) My mom’s beet and carrot salad.  Gorgeous fuchsia hue…..super delicious,but super weird.  Alas, it served me well convincing my then 5-year-old daughter to eat a salad because it was “pink”.

2) Chicken Shalimar.  Shalimar is a great Pakistani restaurant here in Barcelona.  They have their house dish that is chicken that comes in a bubble gum pink sauce.  It tastes like coconut, so the only thing I can imagine is that it is a beet and coconut sauce.  It’s ridiculously good, if you’re wondering.

3) Beet hummus.  I made this a while ago, and thought it was just divine.  The addition of beets turns the hummus this beautiful, deep pink, and makes it oh that much more healthy.  It still surprises me every time when I make it though, kind of like, wow……this is interesting.

So, those are my surprising moments.  I have eaten hummus my entire life.  It’s a staple in my family, being of Syrian/Egyptian descent, but beet hummus?  I started eating that recently.  So, since this week I call my get back to a more simpler healthy state week, I made this hummus.  And the whole family loves it.  It’s great as a dip, topping, or side, but my favorite is to stuff it into pita bread, or a wrap with a whole bunch of fresh veggies, such as cucumber, carrot, tomatoes, sprouts and avocados.  Add a little lemon and oil, and you’re good to go!  A perfect pink pita (or wrap).  Heee…that makes me smile. I hope it will make you smile too!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

400g cooked chickpeas

1/4 cup tahine (I like a lot, feel free to add less)

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 garlic clove, minced

Juice from one lemon

1/2 beet, chopped

1/4  cup olive oil (I say this much, because it always depends, you can use up to this much, but usually less.  Have it on hand when you are blending, if you like it chunkier, add less, smoother, add more.)

1 tsp cayenne powder

Salt and pepper to taste.

In a blender or cup of an immersion blender, add the chickpeas, tahine, cumin, garlic, beet and 2 tbsp of the olive oil.  Puree until smooth.  Add the lemon juice a little at a time, tasting to see how much you want in it.  Same with the oil, if it’s too chunky for you, add some more olive oil.  When you get it to your desired consistency and acidity, add the cayenne, salt and pepper.

So easy, so healthy.  So so so delicious!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Green bean and Chickpea “Stew”

Chickpeas to me is comfort food.  My father’s side of the family being Egyptian/Syrian/Turkish, I have grown up eating this grain and it is a staple in my diet.  A couple of months ago I received my favorite magazine in the mail, Saveur, and I came across this recipe.

Initially, I wasn’t sure that I was going to like it.  Generally I like my vegetables barely cooked, fresh and crispy.  But this article praised slow cooked veggies.  I figured I would give it a try, thinking that I wasn’t going to be that thrilled with it.  What a surprise!  I fell in love with it.  It is really simple, flavourful, and the one word that comes to mind, is comforting.  It was so reminiscent of the flavour profiles that I grew up with, that instantly I knew I was going to make this dish again and again.

It is quite heavy on the cumin, which I love, but the original recipe calls for an hour of cooking time.  I reduced that to 35 minutes, because I wanted more tomato sauce than Saveur’s.  This is a perfectly simple and delicious meal that can be enjoyed on it’s own with a loaf of crusty bread, à la girl in a food frenzy’s.  But you can always have it as a side dish as well, with something simple, like grilled fish or steak.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from Saveur Magazine

SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup olive oil

2 tsp. cumin seeds

4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. paprika
1 ½ lb. green beans, strings removed
1 28-oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes with juice, crushed by hand
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat the oil in an 8-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; add cumin seeds and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Add the garlic and onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until soft and lightly browned, about 12 minutes.
3. Add the tomato paste and paprika, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomato paste is lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add the green beans, tomatoes, chickpeas, and 3 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 35 minutes. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.