Sunday 13 October 2013

Quick & Healthy Chickpea Chard Stew

This recipe is a testimony to the fact that healthiness and tastiness can be combined with simplicity in a fast one pan dish. A few simple ingredients, a bit of heat, and this dish will make it to the table within twenty minutes! Although it relies primarily on chickpeas this meal is French inspired in the sense that it relies on a few fresh ingredients and good execution to make something with good flavour and smooth mouth feel. It's also an easy meal to make vegetarian, simply use olive oil and vegetable broth and throw in a tad more salt, maybe some soy and voila! Take a chance and whip this together when you want a fast healthy dinner on a busy night, you won't be disappointed.

-1 can chickpeas
-1 large bunch of chard (approximately 15-20 leaves, don't worry you'll be surprised by how much it reduces to!)
-2 yellow onions
-3 cloves of garlic (crushed)
-1 large tomato
-1 1/2c. Broth (I used the boiling water of a ham)
- 1 teaspoon of bacon dripping or olive oil
-Pinch of paprika
 -Salt/pepper to taste

1) Melt fat in a pan on medium
2) Chop onion and add to fat, cook until soft, add garlic and paprika, cook until fragrant
3) Add chickpeas and cook until dry
4) Coarsely chop tomatoes and chard, add it to the garlic chickpea mixture
5) Once the vegetables have reduced and begin to stick to the pan add the broth, cook until thickened to a stew like consistency. Serve hot!

Thursday 3 October 2013

Oma's Plum Dumplings

For as long I can remember the smell of my oma's plum dumplings has managed to bring a crowd to the table. The original recipe, referred to as "bayrische zwetschenknödel", survives today in an old yellowed German cookbook, smelling of history and riddled with Oma's loving scribbles.While I can't be sure about now, I do know that these simple dumplings used to be common in Germany. Made in both the North and South the recipe for this rustic staple seemed to have been quite flexible seeking largely to be cheap, simple, easy and tasty. While some people did choose to fill their dumplings with the plump sour cherries that Germany is famed for, others used the equally proliferous (and delicious!) deep purple plums (Zwetschge) of Germany. Here in Quebec sour cherries are, to my endless dismay largely unavailable,  but we are however lucky enough to get quite the haul of plums in fall! The best plums to use in this recipe should be small and dark purple, the ones that are nearly black. If your plums are extra soft, seemingly overripe and starting to wrinkle bordering on being jam material then they are absolutely perfect for this! While you can also use the fatter red plums which tend to be available around the same time, they do tend to be somewhat less juicy, not to mention being substantially bigger so I'd recommend using only half of one per dumpling.

Now although it might seem weird to have potato in your dumpling, bear with me, the earthy taste goes surprisingly well with the juicy sweetness exploding from a ripe plum, a touch (of shovel-full) of sugar, cinnamon and rendered butter on top doesn't hurt either!

** Before you begin making this recipe, be aware that once riced, the potatoes need to sit overnight before assembling the dumplings! Once you're past that step it's easy peasy!


-1 1/4kg Potatoes
-2 eggs
-140g flour
-15-20 small black plums at room temperature
-hefty pinch of salt
-Butter for frying, sugar and cinnamon to taste

Boil potatoes until completely softened and possible to pierce with a fork, I'd recommend about 20 minutes at a rolling boil

 Drain potatoes and let cool

Peel and rice potatoes, put them in an airtight container and refrigerate at least overnight

Mix the flour and salt

Integrate the flour mixture with the riced potatoes.

Why yes, my mixing bowl is indeed a collapsible salad spinner, apartment life is definitely glamorous!

 Add an egg (do a better job of cracking it than me!)

 Mix the dough until thick and somewhat tacky

 Pit (or halve) the plums

 Take a handful of dough, roll it into a ball and flatten, expect lots of sticky squishy squashy

Seal the plum in a wee blankie of dough

  Bring water to a boil

and plop one dumpling to test the dough, if the dumpling floats back to the surface without disintegrating...

 you're in business!

 Remove all dumplings with a slotted spoon, NOT with pincers, I don't yet own a slotted spoon (whoops!)

 set aside and let drain at least 10 minutes

 Heat a *generous* amount of butter in a large pan

until you have a thick coat along the bottom, slice dumpling and fry each side of the dumplings until browned


After removing dumplings from pan, add more butter and cook it down, I love to cook it until it's a lovely light brown bringing up the nutty flavour of a good beurre noisette

Pour melted butter on cooked dumplings and dust with a mix of sugar and cinnamon, serve hot as either a light rustic dinner or a heavy dessert.

Or just enjoy them with the butter!

The step by step photography credit goes to my talented roommate Elias!