Two cooks in the kitchen = FUN and new recipes!


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When are two cooks in the kitchen better than one? When a dear friend who’s a good cook offers to help, that’s when! And no, we did not cook in these fancy clothes. I just neglected to take photos during our whirlwind in the kitchen the other day.


Little did Nancy and I know back in February (when this photo was taken) that she and her husband would be living here in Raleigh in September, but that’s exactly what happened! Needless to say, I’m thrilled!


The other day, Nancy agreed to spend the afternoon at my house, helping me prepare and taste some new recipes for my cookbook project, which is still in the works. I needed another pair of hands (as you will see in some of my food pix), another set of taste buds and another perspective. It’s so important to have friends who aren’t afraid to say exactly what they think, but with tact!


So, we started with an eggplant, like the ones in the foreground of this photo from the farmers’ market.


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I cut it into cubes, salted it, then let it sit (or stand, however you like to say it) for about 30 minutes while we prepped everything else. It’s grand to have a sous-chef! 


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Nancy sautéed the onions, garlic and eggplant. (See her lovely hands?)


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Then we added the tomato sauce, fava beans and spices.


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This may look like ratatouille, but I’ve used Middle Eastern spices to create a Lebanese-inspired dish. Since fava beans are sometimes tough, I tried it again with chickpeas and decided that should be the bean of choice. (I plan to make it with cannellini beans sometime in the future too.) Let me know what you think: Eggplant with Chickpeas.


While this was cooking we started working on Cauliflower Kasha. Kasha Varnishkas is one of my favorite comfort foods. (I’ve blogged about recently. See Out of the Ordinary Comfort Food.) However, pasta is the new “no-no” food of the day, or so it seems to me. What to do? I thought I’d try Kasha with cauliflower instead. 


We cooked up the kasha like usual, then added some steamed, chopped cauliflower instead of pasta:


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We mixed it up then stirred in chopped parsley, which adds a fresh flavor and some color contrast. What a pretty fall dish!


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Next on the list was the Turkish Spiced Lamb and Rice. 


We browned ground lamb (locally raised and grass-fed) that I had purchased at the farmers’ market. I’m not a big lamb fan, but with the right spices, it’s actually quite good! I’ve also learned that freshness is of the utmost importance with lamb, which is one of the reasons I buy it from local farmers. I’ve also made it with ground beef or bison, choosing local and/or grass-fed, pasture raised meat if at all possible. Even if you don’t have a large food budget, I still recommend paying more for the best quality meat and just eating it less often. 


We added onions, garlic, grated carrots, chopped broccoli and a few other ingredients, then simmered them until tender.


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We served this on top of brown rice, but you can stir the rice into it or leave the rice out altogether. I always top this dish with a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts, another expensive item, but one that adds an authentic touch and taste. You won’t need much, and most stores sell them in small packages or in bulk where you can buy the exact amount you want. 


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This recipe makes a substantial amount, especially when you serve it with rice. It freezes well, too, making it a good choice for larger families, parties, or singles who like to have meals to freeze and thaw out later.


Oh, and I forgot to mention the Lentil Soup we were simmering the whole time this was going on. 


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Lentil Soup is not particularly glamorous, but I think it received the most enthusiastic thumbs up of the bunch! I usually make it with just a little bacon for flavor, but this time I left out the bacon and added some secret ingredients to give the vegetarian version more depth. Learn the secret here.


We had to call it a day before we could make a dessert, but that was fine since I had previously made my second version of Cookie Brittle. 


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Nancy was ever so pleased to help me eat it, as you can see below! I will share this recipe later since I still want to tweak the ingredients to fit better into my 10-inch x 15-inch baking sheet.


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© Bobbi Mullins 2011, All rights reserved. FOOD FITNESS FAITH™