Focaccia alla Genovese

Focaccia is one of the world’s great breads, a culinary calling card of the coastal region of Liguria in northwestern Italy and its capital, Genoa. The name comes from the ancient Latin word focus (meaning “hearth”), and the recipe may even have originated with the ancient Etruscans. Today, focaccia takes many forms; but the classic recipe is a dimpled, relatively flat bread, ideally soaked with olive oil and topped with various herbs and other ingredients. Among the most popular are fresh rosemary and garlic, which I have used here. For this recipe, I’ve combed the web and studied several Italian-language videos on the subject so that you don’t have to. Enjoy!

Your focaccia should look better than this (better lighting, darker crust, etc.)
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Pizza Crust

I’ve long searched for a decent home pizza crust recipe, and this is as good as I’ve found — though it’s not perfect. A perfect pizza crust would be the kind we find in a good pizzeria in Italy (or in our current hometown of Belgrade), which can be stretched out for a thin and crispy pizza, but whose edges puff up with giant air bubbles to chewy perfection. What I have always obtained at home is a soft, bready crust with a relatively dense texture and without the crispy exterior. It’s decent, but obviously not from a pizzeria.

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Quinoa Burgers, version 2

Quinoa burger 2

This is a standby vegetarian or vegan recipe, which we use so often that I decided to post it so that we would have it wherever we are in the world.  Like our other quinoa burger recipe on this site, It comes from Louise Hagler’s book Meatless Burgers.  But this recipe is a little quicker to prepare and has fewer ingredients. (Note: The published recipe does not include eggs, but I strongly prefer including them, as otherwise the mixture is likely to fall apart.)

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Quinoa Burgers

Quinoa Burger

This evening we made a very easy and tasty vegan burger.  I’m posting it here to make sure we don’t lose the recipe.  It comes from the book Meatless Burgers by Louise Hagler.  Quinoa is a remarkable grain that originated in the Andes and was first cultivated as long as 4,000 years ago.  It is high in protein and also contains calcium, phosphorus, and iron.  We eat it often.

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Gazpacho

GazpachoThis chilled soup is ideal for a summer meal, and a sure way to impress any guest.  This is the gazpacho that blew my mind in Madrid when we first visited a few years ago — with a smooth, creamy, velvety consistency, but without any animal-based products at all.  The recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated.  While the folks at America’s Test Kitchen often seem to needlessly complicate some standard recipes, this one is well worth the small additional effort to prepare the vegetables. Continue reading

Couscous Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Chickpeas

20131029-165849.jpgLooking for an easy and healthful lunch for the home or office?  This is one of my favorite recipes — and it’s totally vegan.  It comes from the January 2008 issue of Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine and was also featured on the Today show.  It’s infinitely variable; if you don’t happen to have cauliflower on hand, you can substitute another vegetable that roasts well, like bell peppers, or eggplant, or zucchini, or sliced onion.  I like including whole garlic cloves.  The arugula is nice, but totally optional.  And when I made this dish for lunch today, I substituted quinoa for the couscous, and it works perfectly!  Feel free to vary this to your own taste, and enjoy. Continue reading

Granola

GranolaThere is no more addictive snack than this simple do-it-yourself mix of healthy, hearty foods.  Granola can be so much better than the stuff you buy at the store.  This makes a lovely hostess gift, yogurt-topper, between-meal munchie… the list goes on.  Credit for this recipe goes to the Manhattan restaurant Eleven Madison Park, where chef Daniel Humm sends guests off with a half pound of this granola as a parting gift.  The recipe was published in the May 2012 issue of Food Network Magazine.  I’ve made a couple of minor modifications to my own taste. Continue reading

Charkhlis Mkhali (Georgian Beet Salad)

BeetsThe Georgian table is always filled with a vast array of salads and appetizers.  Often at a Georgian restaurant, I don’t even make it to the main dish because I stuff myself on starters.  This is one of the culprits.  Mkhali (or pkhali) is a general term for a vegetable puree mixed with herbs and ground walnuts.  Yesterday I made the version with beets.  You could just as easily substitute spinach or other greens.  This recipe comes almost verbatim from Darra Goldstein’s masterpiece The Georgian Feast: The Vibrant Culture and Savory Food of the Republic of Georgia, one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. Continue reading

Lobio (Georgian bean salad)

LobioAlong with generous amounts of khachapuri, the other item that I almost always order in a Georgian restaurant is lobio.  It comes different ways.  This particular recipe is fairly standard.  This recipe is a perfect example of how the Georgians can take something as ordinary as kidney beans and turn them into something wondrously exotic.  If your friends are deathly allergic to walnuts, you can leave them out, and the dish doesn’t suffer too much.  This dish can be served either at room temperature or hot.  The hot version usually has the consistency of a stew and is often made with hot pepper. Continue reading

Yellow Lentils (Dal Tadka)

Yellow DalLast weekend my wife and I went out to dinner with a friend from college to Bollywood Bistro, a fun Indian establishment in old-town Fairfax, Virginia.  The service was enthusiastic (if a bit overbearing with the water-glass refills).  And one of my favorite dishes was the yellow dal, which is a very common dish in Indian cuisine.  I was inspired to try it myself the next evening at home, and it was quite satisfying.  I started with a popular recipe from Ruta Kahate’s book 5 Spices, 50 Dishes: Simple Indian Recipes Using Five Common Spices, and adjusted it to my available ingredients and cooking preferences.  I came up with the recipe below.

A note for those who appreciate the health benefits of herbs: Indian cuisine is filled with turmeric, which has potent anti-inflammatory effects when used in generous quantities.  It has also been shown to have some anti-cancer effect, and researchers are also investigating its possible effectiveness in Alzheimer’s disease.  To maximize its bio-availability, it needs to be combined with black pepper, which works synergistically with turmeric’s most active constituent, curcumin.  Hence, I’ve added black pepper to this recipe.  Enjoy this tasty opportunity to contribute to science! Continue reading