Special Dish for the Week: Butternut Squash Tagine Dinner

True to the origin of ideas, I prepare this Special Dish for the Week with its original main ingredient—the tricky to crack but delightful to taste butternut squash—for a Saturday night dinner with a lovely friend, serving a menu chez Maggie, where we eat with love, comprised of 3 courses and paired with beverages of choice, featuring as the main course (le plat principal):

Butternut Squash Tagine

Tagine Dinner Menu

Tagine Dinner Menu

Leek and Yam Potato Soup

Leek and Yam Potato Soup

Though the days are slowly growing longer, and the temperatures and rains of the West Coast appear mild, warming the body and the soul with spiced, earthy and colourful dishes adds even more joy into the cold and dark winter season.

I begin this feast for all of the senses by serving a Leek and Yam Potato Soup, garnished with finely chopped broccoli flowerettes that join the chopped cilantro, quickly becoming a favourite addition for raw nutrients and added texture.

The Tagine main course (le plat principal) is accompanied simply yet elegantly by pre-soaked tri-colour quinoa, which enriches the dish with its own distinct slightly nutty flavours..

Butternut Squash Tagine

Butternut Squash Tagine

Having made previous tagines with chickpeas and zucchini, I return to the original recipe for this dish with the squash and “Maggify” it again with the mushrooms:

  • butternut squash, pre-baked in the oven for ease of pealing and cubing
  • shiitake mushrooms, pre-soaked with using dried (saving the flavoured water)
  • large can of organic diced tomatoes

I find that the butternut squash adds a delightful combination of bright orange colour, perfectly tender texture, and slightly tangy yet sweet flavour. A lovely mid-winter addition to soups, stews, and of course, tagines. Adding a little more sunshine into the making of this dish, I sip a glass of rosé wine from the south of France, Le Petit Chat Malin (the cunning little cat), as I prepare it.

Butternut Squash Tagine Ingredients

Butternut Squash Tagine Ingredients

The spices, however, are the true star of this dish. I use most of the suggested herbs and spices (about 1-2 teaspoons each), adding or exchanging a few:

  • coconut oil, for sautéeing the onions, herbs and spices
  • onion, finely chopped
  • garlic, minced
  • ginger, grated
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • ground cumin
  • paprika
  • coriander powder
  • cinnamon powder
  • small cinnamon stick
  • red Thai chili pepper
  • finely shredded kelp
  • sea salt & black pepper
  • water from soaked shiitake mushrooms
  • honey
  • black sesame seeds, to garnish
  • cilantro, to garnish
Butternut Squash Tagine Dish

Butternut Squash Tagine Dish

We enjoy my culinary creations with a glass of Shiraz red wine gifted for the occasion by my sufficiently impressed dinner companion (who had not yet until now experienced the Special Dish of the Week tradition, ever so lovingly captured in these postings).

Little dollops of Fancied Cottage Cheese with Flax Seed—which in this variation contain both blueberries and chopped pecans as well as a small clove of garlic and a touch of TLC topped with a whole pecan—round out this delicious meal, one that begins with a short guided meditation and interweaves with the timeless of poetry.

Meal ideas & recipes from Maria Elia’s “The Modern Vegetarian” book, from Canadian Living, from “The Wahls Protocol” book, and from the Budwig Diet.

Special Dish for the Week: Fancied Cottage Cheese with Flax Seed

I recently re-discover this delicious combination, which serves equally well as nutritious dessert as it does as a hearty snack, and have been experimenting with varying its flavours and textures, such as in this Special Dish for the Week:

Fancied Cottage Cheese with Flax Seed

Fancied Cottage Cheese with Flax Seed

Fancied Cottage Cheese with Flax Seed

Some time ago, I learn that the nutrients in flax seed oil are better absorbed when the oil is mixed with cottage cheese, which contains a sulfur protein. More recently, I am reminded of this food combination as a recommended nutrient source to help the body deal with various undesirable health conditions. And so, I have reintroduced it into my weekly diet.

To prepare this dish, I begin with chopping my nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, and/or cashews), if I am going to use nuts for flavouring and texture. I transfer the chopped nuts into another bowl, and mix the wet ingredients next, thereby avoiding the need to wash and dry my electric chopper!

I mix the following ingredients in the order listed, adding one ingredient at a time—the order being important to achieve the desired chemical reaction:

  • 2 tbsp dry curd cottage cheese
  • 1 tbsp flax seed oil (mixing it well with the cottage cheese)
  • 1 tbsp milled flax seeds
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)*
  • 2 tbsp frozen blueberries (or other juicy fruit) (optional)*
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped nuts (optional)

* This dish can be made to be sweet or savoury. For savoury alternatives, I may try some sea salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic, green onions, cilantroherbes de Provence, or others as the fancy strikes.

Meal ideas & recipes from the Budwig Diet.

Special Dish for the Week: Peanut Sauce Stir Fry Dinner

Slowly feeling more festive, having heard my first Christmas carols a few days before, I enjoy a Sunday night dinner with good friends—feeding the taste buds and the soul—serving a menu chez Maggie, where we eat like queens and kings, comprised of 4 courses and paired with beverages of choice, featuring as the main course (le plat principal):

Peanut Sauce Stir Fry

Peanut Sauce Stir Fry Dinner Menu

Peanut Sauce Stir Fry Dinner Menu

Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

Upon a small toast of Apothic Dark red wine to greet my guests’ arrival, I begin serving the previously featured Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup. This time, I use green Thai curry and one of each: yam and sweet potato, instead of the suggested ingredients. The soup is purposefully a little less spicy than my usual to please the palate of a guest, and a little less sweet and colourful with the introduction of the sweet potato in place of one yam—and it still most delicious!

The hors d’hoeuvres are accompanied by “a little something from the chef” (i.e., not specified on the menu), which turns out to be Fermented Beet Juice.

Beet & Red Cabbage Hors d’Hoeuvres

Beet & Red Cabbage Hors d’Hoeuvres

The hors d’hoeuvres consist of a small serving of Beet and Red Cabbage salad served on a bed of arugula and sprouts, sprinkled with a dash of sesame oil and balsamic vinegar.

The Peanut Sauce Stir Fry main course (le plat principal) is accompanied by red lentils, prepared with a tablespoon of wakame flakes (a type of seaweed), which I add during cooking of the lentils. The lentils are pre-soaked overnight in order to induce the germination process previously explained.

The Peanut Sauce for this dish is a mildly spicy sweet and sour sensation is a “Maggified” version of a dish inspired by a personally made recipe book from some good friends. The ingredients for this sauce, all mixed and lightly heated in a pan, consist of:

  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter (Adams 100% Natural)
  • 1/3 cup of water (or more, for desired consistency)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Bragg soy sauce
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/2 red Thai chili pepper (or more, for desired spiciness)

For the stir fry, I shred, dice and slice the following ingredients:

  • onion, coarsely chopped
  • carrot, thinly sliced
  • red and orange peppers, diced
  • green onions, chopped
  • pre-cooked chicken, shredded
  • coconut oil
  • cilantro, on the side for garnish
Peanut Sauce Stir Fry

Peanut Sauce Stir Fry

Just before serving le plat principal, I combine the separately heated stir fry ingredients and the Peanut Sauce. I serve the Peanut Sauce Stir Fry together with the wakame lentils, and trying this dish for the first time, it is a tasty success! Next time, though, I think I might try bigger chicken chunks rather than shredding the chicken, for more some defined texture to the dish—although the chunkiness of the peanut butter assists this goal too.

For dessert, I serve little dollops of Fancied Cottage Cheese with Flax Seed, which I recently re-discovered and have been experimenting with varying its flavours and textures.

Meal ideas & recipes from Maria Elia’s “The Modern Vegetarian” book, the “Food and Love” book, from Whole Foods Market, from “The Wahls Protocol” book, and from the Budwig Diet.