Escape to Morrocco without flying…

The other day I got a call from someone asking me to cook for a private dinner party she was having at her house. Here was the catch: she wanted easy, quick, vegan, light food, to be served buffet style, and the biggest catch of all… the theme of the night was Morroccan/Syrain food! I was so excited! I love when I’m hired to host dinner parties or cook privately for people but the hardest part of doing that is deciding WHAT to make. With this job the cool part was that my genre of food to cook was decided for me! Now the hard part about this task is that aside from my husband being Syrian, I am TOTALLY American. While I do cook a great deal of Morroccan and Syrian food I like to think of myself as a ‘self taught middle eastern chef’ that being said here’s what I made for the Middle Eastern night…

Red Lentil Soup (the recipe for this is posted on an older blog posting)

Fattoush Salad

Homemade Hummus

Homemade Tahina

Red Onions with Sumac*

Baked Falafel Burgers

Vegan Whole Wheat Laham’bajeen

Vegan Basil spread for the falafel sandwiches

Purple raw cabbage salad with Za’atar*

Toasted Whole Wheat Pita brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with Za’atar

Dessert:

Turkish Coffee

Naana (mint) Tea

Freshly sliced watermelon

Spelt Chocolate Chip Cookies fresh from the oven…

 

* Sumac is a delicious and tangy middle eastern spice. It makes for a great spice in salad dressings but even easier than that is to simply sprinkle it on any raw vegetable. You can buy it at any middle eastern grocery store.

* Za’atar is another delicious Middle Eastern seasoning, while the combination of spices in Za’atar vary greatly it usually consists of: ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, and a combination of toasted sesame seeds and salt.

 

Contact me if you’re interested in having any private cooking done.

AtaraSchweky@gmail.com

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Gluten Free the new trend?

Gluten Free the new trend?

If you’ve given up eating foods containing Gluten simply to lose weight you might want to think again…. New research shows it may not be an effective means to weight loss at all!

Eating Gluten Free for health purposes is a whole other issue though cause many people physically cant digest Gluten (i’ve diagnosed my hubby with Celiac disease but he doesn’t listen to my diagnosis, oh well…)

BTW how freakin cool is it that Citi Field has a Gluten Free stand???!!

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What came first? the Chicken or the EGG?

What came first? the Chicken or the EGG?

One less thing to worry about if you’re Vegan! Every week its a new recall- SCARY STUFF!

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Cornbread under 130 Cals??

The EASIEST (vegan) Cornbread Muffins you might EVER make!

So I’ve been cravingggg hardcore Cornbread lately and couldn’t figure out where I could satisfy this craving where the cornbread would be moist, fluffly and FRESH and also without all that vegan margarine that most bakeries like to use. I understand that the margarines are vegan but still they are pretty overly processed so I try and steer clear of using too much of it and if I can steer clear of uSing it at all I do. After debating where in NYC I could find a promising Vegan cornbread i decided why not whip one up of my own? When I crave a dessert I like to make sure it will be made with the freshest ingredients and healthiest flours etc… so I usually end up making it myself 🙂 I came across a recipe for Cornbread Muffins and of course since I have to tweak every single recipe I get my hands on, I did just that…

These Muffins are made with Spelt flour, and sweetened with Agave Nectar, Also, I like the course texture of the corn meal so I use “extra coarse” corn meal- but feel free to use fine corn meal if you like. This is a sweet cornbread recipe, the best part about these muffins is there are only 125 Calories per muffin! and they totally hit the spot!

All Natural Spelt Agave Cornbread Muffins: Serves- 12 muffins

1 cup coarse corn meal

1 cup spelt flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup applesauce (unsweetened applesauce the agave nectar is sweet enough)

1 cup vanilla almond breeze (unsweetened)

1/2 cup agave nectar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (I add this in to almost every baking recipe I make because i figure why not add in some extra fiber and Omega 3?!)

** You can replace the Almond Breeze with Soy Milk if you dont like Almond Milk or you dont have it handy, I happen to love Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze more than any kind of Soy milk but its a personal preference. Just use the same amount of Soy Milk to Almond Milk I called for. **

Step 1: Preheat oven to 325 degrees, Lightly grease muffin pan.

Step 2: In a mixing bowl combine the cornmeal, spelt flour, baking soda, ground flaxseed and salt, stir in the applesauce, Almond Breeze, and Agave Nectar. Slowly add the 2 tablespoons oil while stirring. Pour the mixture into the muffin pan.

Step 3: Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Mine needed a few minutes longer then 20 mins but just keep an eye on them and when toothpick comes out clean they’re done. Place on a wire rack to cool and…..

 ENJOY!!!

I usually eat one fresh from the oven, make hubby eat one and then wait til they have completely cooled and freeze em’. When they’re frozen so fresh they reheat realllly well.

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Peaches Peaches Peaches!

I just got home from the Farmers Market on Second Ave. and E.10th in NYC and wowwwww they had suchhhhh gawgeous fruit today!! The Blueberries were bright blue hard and nice sizes but the fruit I’m most excited for are the PEACHES I bought! I love love a cold juicy peach more then any fruit. For some reason to me a fresh cold peach is summer. The reason I love catching a great Fresh Farmers Market in NYC is because there is NOTHING like fresh, local produce picked from the farms right in our tri-state area. The fruits and veggies today were picked from two farms, one just over the Hudson River in New Jersey, and the other right out in Long Island! It makes me so happy to know that what I’m going to eat didn’t sit in some nasty smelly huge truck in the heat of summer driving from Florida or even way further, not to mention all the chemicals needed to preserve the fruit being transported in those sorts of conditions!

Anywayyyyy….. part of why I Love Summer is because there are so many more Farmers Markets around then in the winter! YAYYYYY! : )

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Yummy Red Lentil Soup (except not quite red)

OK so yesterday in NYC it was terribly dreary, cloudy and grey out all day. Those are the kind of days for me when all I crave is a big hearty soup, a dinner where I can get so many nutrients and health benfeits in one bowl. Soups are my all time favorite and lets face it once the heat of summer hits, other than Gazpacho- soups are kicked to the curb for a while. I use any rainy day as an excuse for SOUP…
Red Lentils like the ones used in this soup are packed with tons of fiber, protein, and even folate and iron. I use red lentils instead of brown for different reasons. Firstly, red lentils take half the time to cook as brown do! and secondly, I like the consistency that the red lentils make ater they simmer for a while, it forms this really thick soup and the lentils sort of cook into the entire liquid of the soup and lose their shape whereas brown lentils retain their shape no matter how long they cook.
If you’ve never cooked red lentils before dont be fooled they arent red after they cook long enough they really look more like a yellowish light brown color.
Red Lentil Soup
1 large onion chopped
6 cloves of garlic crushed
2 cups red lentils
1 cup barley (my favorite kind to use is pearled barley I love the crunchy texture)
8 cups water
1 tspn. cumin
1 1/2 tspn. cardamon
3 tspn. coriander
3 tspn. sea salt (you can add more after cooking based on your own salt desire, always salt after legumes cook because the salt slows down the cooking of legumes)
(Sidenote: if you’re not a barley lover u can just leave it out, I LOVE it but if I’m ever out of barley I make the soup without and its just as good. However if leaving out the barley make sure you only use 6 cups of water and not 8)
Step 1: Drizzle olive oil in medium size stock pot, set flame to low, once oil is warm but not too hot add onions, let onions become translucent and add crushed garlic, let onion garlic mixture brown.
Step 2: Add coriander, cumin, cardamon, and sea salt to the onion and garlic saute mixture, mix it up. At this point I add a few tablespoons of water to the spice mixture just so it doesn’t stick to the pot and this way I avoid using more oil. Make sure the mixture is combined well.
Step 3: Add the red lentils, and barley and combine into the onion garlic spice mixture, once well combined add the 8 cups of water, cover, put flame to low and let it cook at least an hour! I let it keep on cooking after that because I like it super thick but the consistency is your preference. After it is finished cooking, taste and add sea salt if necessary to your little taste buds ; )
Most importantly….ENJOY!!!

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“Ice Cream” You Scream

OK- So I’m embarrassed to admit that 2 years ago I bought an ice cream maker because I told myself “I really needed it and would make ice cream all summer…” Well 2 years later I decided to break in my machine and give it a whirl (literally). While the actual concoction of the recipe I came up with was a piece of cake to make, the assembling of my machine was unfortunately its own task. After reading the manual at least 15 times i finally attempted to give it a try… It worked!! and the Vegan Ice Cream was everything I had hoped it would come out to be! I sort of put together a bunch of different recipes that I had into one, but you can really switch up the ice cream flavor to your own personal taste and cravings. I was in a pretty basic mood so I made Vanilla Chocolate Chip. Whether you are vegan or not this ice cream makes for a delicious totally guilt free cold treat on a hot day, so ENJOY! and remember get creative substitute the choc. chips for fruit, or nuts, and if you’re feeling crazy sometimes I add 1/2 cup cocoa powder for a dark chocolate flavor.
Vanilla Chocolate Chip Vegan Ice Cream:
1 Cup Vanilla Almond Breeze (or soy or rice milk whatever you prefer)
1 Cup Coconut Milk Creamer
1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 Block of Tofu (make sure it is very well drained of the water, otherwise the ice cream will turn out icy and not creamy)
Step 1: Blend the tofu before placing it into the ice cream maker to ensure that the ice cream will be smooth and not chunky (ew), I used an immersion blender.
Step 2: After blending tofu, combine all ingredients into your ice cream maker and follow your machine directions!
Step 3: Place in freezer immediately and ENJOY!

 
 

 

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