International Eats


With the ever changing weather from cold to warm to cold again, and the increase of the sniffles and cases of the crud around me, I am ramping up on immune boosters, natural antibiotics like raw minced garlic and spicy soups to clear out the sinuses and protect my health.

In addition to cooking, I love to read and was delighted to be given a travel food magazine called Milk Street from which I was introduced to Lablabi, a delicious and spicy chickpea soup from Tunisia. I actually ended up making two small pots since I could not get enough of the bright and complex flavors in the soup. I also tried making one pot with harissa and one with the Chinese chili sauce that is easier to find in more stores and was pleased that both were great. This soup combines Spanish flavors like olives, capers and cilantro with North African spices like harissa. I was intrigued to learn that this soup is traditionally a breakfast in Tunisia and is usually more combined like a porridge. I decided not to mash everything together and have more whole and identifiable ingredients. Color me lazy. I decided to work with canned organic chickpeas instead of dried for a quicker cooking time on a busy night. Even with the chickpeas in the dish last week, I was still inspired to use more chickpeas. This soup took about 30 minutes to make. Now if you prefer your chickpeas super soft then I would recommend adding 15 minutes of cook time. Check out the recipe below.

Lablabi (Makes 4)

2 cups of large chopped French bread or ciabatta
1/4 cup harissa or alternate spicy chili sauce
1 can or organic low sodium chickpeas
1 cup diced onion
1/8 cup minced garlic (6-8 large cloves)
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 cups water
32 oz chicken stock or broth
4 boiled eggs
6 tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley
6 tbsp. chopped cilantro
4 tbsp. chopped olives
4 tbsp. capers
3 tbsp. olive oil (garlic infused optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and dice onion and add to a medium pot over medium heat with a splash of water and 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
2. Smash and peel garlic cloves before chopping fine and add to pot. Stir well.
3. Add tomato paste and harissa and stir well. Rinse the can of chickpeas in cool water and add chickpeas and water to the pot. Top and bring to a boil for 20 minutes.
4. While that boils, line a small baking dish or sheet with foil. Slice bread and cube into large pieces. Place on baking sheet and toss with olive oil.
5. Bring eggs to boil in a separate small pot.
6. Add stock or broth and boil another 10-15 minutes. Add bread to oven.
7. While boiling, chop olives and fresh herbs. Remove eggs and rinse with cool water. Peel eggs.
8. Turn off pots and remove bread from oven.
9. Add a handful of bread to each bowl, top with soup mixture. Add 1 tbsp. of capers, olives and 1 1/2 tbsp. of parsley and cilantro to each bowl and one egg cut longwise.
10. Enjoy!



Soups and Stews


Good comfort food can go a long way. I was determined to chomp into some hearty beef stew and decided to crock pot it to make sure the beef was tender enough for my braces. I went for the traditional with potatoes, carrots and onion. I decided to try the multi-colored carrots for some added flavor and variety. This was easy to prep and toss into the crockpot for 5 hours. My crockpot is set to warm after the cooking time, so it was perfect to stay warm the additional 30 minutes I needed before dinner. Note: I prefer more of a cross between soup and stew and don’t often make a roux, but you can certainly add a tablespoon of flour or cornstarch to make a thicker sauce with water or stock before adding it to the crockpot. Depending on how long you plan to be away determines whether you should set it to cook low or high so that it’s not over cooked. If you plan to put it on before leaving for a workday, I would recommend a low cooking temp for a longer cook time (I.e. 8 hours). You will also want to cut the carrots and potato into larger chunks so they still have texture.

also decided to dip into my freezer stash of gumbo that I make each season. I opted for the spicy chicken and sausage for an alternate meal in between servings of stew. Check out the recipe below. I hope you find it as easy and enjoyable as I do.

Beef Stew
5 large red potatoes
2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 lb. cubed stew meat
1 cup of stock (beef or chicken)
1 cup of water
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. corse black pepper
1 tsp. Cayenne (optional)

1. Rinse potatoes then cut in half longways and then into fourths. Add to crockpot.
2. Rinse and peel carrots 2 carrots (unless purchased prepped) and cut into medium pieces. Add to pot.
3. Peel and dice onion and mince garlic and add to pot.
4. Add beef, seasoning and liquid. Stir well, top and set timer on the crockpot.
5. Serve with rice if desired.
6. Enjoy!

A Bit Of Green Onion Sausage


With the dreary weather expected this week, I was in the mood for some jambalaya. I’ve posted before about my preference for traditional New Orleans styled jambalaya with seafood, sausage and a red sauce to boot. I decided to highlight some local green onion sausage that I picked up at Soprano’s supermarket in Livonia parish which is about 30 minutes or so from Baton Rouge on Hwy 190. My dad loves to find gems off the beaten path and Soprano’s green onion sausage certainly makes the list. The sausage is made in house and the store offers both fresh and smoked options as well as other flavor combinations. Green onion sausage is tasty and pretty easy to find, so try a brand that you like and give it a try.

I also picked up some fresh turnips, green onion and red potatoes from the farmers market to make a quick soup with some of the sausage as a second option for meals this week. With a little help from a kohlrabi salad mix (kohlrabi, kale, shredded golden beets) from Trader Joe’s and a quick pickle of shaved turnips and thinly sliced yellow onion, that will be a nice side to my soup meals. For some added sweetness, you can also grate or thinly slice a small red apple into the salad mix. Since I have previously posted a jambalaya recipe, check out the soup and salad recipes below.

Potato, turnip and Sausage Soup
Serves 4

1 cup diced red potato (2 medium)
1 cup diced turnip root (2 medium)
2 cups chopped turnip greens
1/4 lb green onion sausage
1 small yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 14.5oz can of chicken stock
2 cups of water
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper

1. Peel and thinly slice onion. Add to a medium pot over medium heat with olive oil. Once it begins to sizzle and brown (2 mins) add 1/2 cup of water to carmalize the onions.
2. Remove green tops from turnip roots and soak tops in water in a bowl or the sink to remove dirt.
3. Using a potato peeler, peel turnips until dirty skin is removed. Cut off skinny end and green stem end. The cut in half and dice into medium pieces. Add to the pot with onions and add remaining water and bring to a boil.
4. Rinse potatoes and dice into medium pieces and add to the pot.
5. Cut sausage in half long-wise before slicing thin and add to the pot. Add seasoning.
6. Rinse and chop turnip greens and green onion and add to the pot.
7. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes.
8. Enjoy.


Kohlrabi and Kale Salad
Serves 1

1 cup salad mix
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp. local honey
1 tbsp. thinly sliced onion
1 tbsp. thinly sliced turnip
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. sea salt

1. In a bowl, add vinegar and honey and mix with a fork until dissolved. Add seasonings.
2. Peel and thinly slice a small onion (About two cuts worth). Add to the vinegar.
3. Peel dirty skin from turnip. Rinse peeler and then use to peel thin pieces into the bowl.
4. Let sit for 3-5 minutes then add salad mix and toss well with a fork.
5. Enjoy.