Special Dish for the Week: Chili Dinner

Even in Vancouver, where the climate is rather mild in the winter, warming foods are good for the body and for the soul—keeping them warm and not working too hard at digesting the nutrients—and I prepare one of those dinners for a friend and I by using both, the temperature of cooking and the addition of spices, in this somewhat ironically named Special Dish for the Week:

Chili Dinner Menu

Chili Dinner Menu

Chili

Turkey Bone Broth with Lentils & Squash

Turkey Bone Broth with Lentils & Squash

A chili is typically anything but “chilly”, and while I do love my spicy foods, I try to restrain myself so as to make this Chili Dinner’s dishes deliciously spicy without making them uncomfortably hot.

As the starter, I serve a Turkey Bone Broth with Lentils and Squash soup, which—as the name suggests—is made from turkey bones and meat, and contains red lentils, oven baked butternut squash, as well as the requisite for my soups onions, garlic, broccoli, and finely shredded kelp. This soup’s main spice—which also happens to be a sub-theme of this dinner—is cumin. For a little raw addition, freshly chopped cilantro garnishes the soup.

Chili Ingredients

Chili Ingredients

The Chili main course (le plat principal) is accompanied by pre-soaked rice spiced with cinnamon and sweetened with raisins. The chili star of the dinner is a “Maggified” version of a dish inspired by a personally made recipe book from some good friends. The ingredients for the chili, all mixed and well heated together, consist of:

  • coconut oil
  • ground lamb (or another free-range meat, like bison or turkey)
  • black beans, pre-soaked and cooked separately with finely shredded kelp
  • onion, coarsely chopped
  • green peppers, diced
  • shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • zucchini, thinly sliced
  • can of organic diced tomatoes
  • spinach, finely chopped and added towards the end
Chili Dish

Chili Dish

The spices for the chili include (at least a teaspoon each, a little less for the peppers):

  • garlic, minced
  • ginger, grated
  • red Thai chili pepper
  • chili powder, generous amount to taste
  • oregano
  • paprika
  • cumin
  • turmeric
  • black pepper
  • cayenne pepper
  • sea salt, to taste
  • cilantro, on the side for garnish
Paczki (traditional Polish donuts) & Cheesecake

Paczki (traditional Polish donuts) & Cheesecake

We enjoy the warming soup and chili dishes with a well-matched glass of organic Chilean red wine, the flavours of wine and spices enriching each other on the palate.

For desert, my Polish dinner guest offers me traditional Polish donuts (paczki) with marmalade filling and glazed in liquefied icing sugar—their distinctive smell flooding my senses with childhood and travel memories. One dessert hardly being enough at nearly all Polish feasts, my dinner guest also delivers a taste of homemade cheesecake, the rest of which finds temporary haven in my freezer. Rooibos tea accompanies our sweet desserts and diverse conversation.

The Writer/Chef and Her Fellow Polish Dinner Guest

The Writer/Chef and Her Fellow Polish Dinner Guest

Meal ideas & recipes from the “Food and Love” book, and from “The Wahls Protocol” book.

Special Dish for the Week: Vegan Butter Chicken

Dipping once again into some of my favourite subjects after which a recipe book from some good friends was named, “Food and Love”, for this Special Dish for the Week, I “Maggify” their version of:

Vegan Butter Chicken

Vegan Butter Chicken Spices

Vegan Butter Chicken Spices

Containing neither butter nor chicken, this recipe has the flavours and textures of the butter chicken dish. The key to this dish are the spices—and lots of them—which in my version of this dish include:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 in. grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
Vegan Butter Chicken Spices Intensified

Vegan Butter Chicken Spices Intensified

Using coconut oil as my oil of choice for this dish, I sautée first the chopped onion, and then add the remaining spices. Sautéeing the spices is said to intensify their flavours.

I add a can of coconut milk, 1/2 a can of tomato paste, some water, a small bunch of chopped cilantro,  and a small amount of finely shredded kelp—which sufficiently salts the dish, adding good quantities of various minerals and much needed iodine. I let these gently simmer while I prepare the veggies.

In another pot, I cook up some soaked over night red lentils, adding some more finely shredded kelp. In my rice cooker, I cook up some soaked over night brown basmati rice. And I begin to chop up the following veggies:

  • 1 yam
  • 1/2 cauliflower chopped into small-medium bits
  • shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 can of navy beans (chopping highly optional)
Vegan Butter Chicken

Vegan Butter Chicken

After adding the veggies to the simmering “vegan butter chicken” sauce and simmering those for a few minutes, I then add the cooked lentils, adding water for desired consistency.

I serve the “vegan butter chicken” with a side of rice, garnish it with cilantro, and proceed to turn the vegan dish vegetarian by adding a dollop of organic plain Greek yogurt to complement the spiciness of the sauce. My Santé, machine à manger wine glass from friend filled with Bordeaux accompanies this hearty, nutritious and warming dish—as does the seasonal red poinsettia. I light my beeswax candle, thinking fondly of my honey lady from the downtown farmers market, and give a cheers! to the universe for providing all these reasons for contentment.

Meal ideas & recipes from the “Food and Love” book from some good friends and from “The Wahls Protocol” book.

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.

Special Dish for the Week: Cabbage Roll Casserole

This week, I venture into the “Food and Love” personally made recipe book that I recently received from some good friends, and as my Special Dish for the Week, I “Maggify” my version of their:

Cabbage Roll Casserole

Cabbage Roll Casserole

Cabbage Roll Casserole

The original recipe calls for ground beef, which I turn vegetarian by substituting chopped up shiitake mushrooms.

Spicing up the dish with generous amount of grated ginger, garlic and black pepper, like my friends, I enjoy the final meal immensely.

The ingredients that I use to orchestrate this dish comprise:

  • 1 cup brown rice, prepared in a rice maker increasing its volume
  • 1/2 medium green cabbage, finely chopped
  • 20 shiitake mushrooms, some coarsely and some finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • thumbsize amount of ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 3 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 6 shiitake mushroom caps, for garnish
  • cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • cayenne pepper, for garnish
Cabbage Roll Casserole Serving

Cabbage Roll Casserole Serving

I lightly pre-cook the mushrooms, onions, ginger and garlic, seasoned with sea salt and black pepper. Combine all the ingredients (saving the garnishes) in a large bowl, I transfer them to a glass dish. The shiitake mushroom caps decorate the top. I bake it covered for 1 hr at 350oF, and another 1/2 hr uncovered. I do not stir the dish at the 1 hr mark although the original recipe suggests it—I might stir it, were it not decorated!

Cabbage Roll Casserole DIsh

Cabbage Roll Casserole DIsh

Serving carefully on a plate, so as to preserve its precarious integrity, I garnish the plate with sprinkling of cayenne pepper and cilantro leaves. I pair this cruciferous delight with a glass of homemade fermented beet juice in place of the usual glass of wine. it truly is delightful to the taste buds, and warming to the soul, with the knowledge that the dish was lovingly suggested by good friends, now from afar.

Meal ideas & recipes from the “Food and Love” book from some good friends.