Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cheese-Stuffed Italian Sausage Meatloaf

This may not be the most photogenic recipe I'll ever offer to you (trust me - I tried valiantly with different plates and angles and lighting!), but it's truly one of the best. Just imagine it: Italian sausage, Parmesan, Gorgonzola, pesto ... a feast of flavors, if not a feast for the eyes!

Meatloaf often gets a bad reputation because it's usually just plain ol' ground beef mixed with ketchup or bread crumbs or Lipton onion soup mix, but it doesn't need to be that way. Use a variety of meats, change up the sauces and seasonings, stuff something interesting into the middle ... give it a make-over and glam it up!

You can vary the spiciness of the dish by using mild, sweet or hot Italian sausage; and you can lower the fat content by using links made of turkey, if you prefer.

This dinner was devoured so quickly that there wasn't even a hope of leftovers for the next day - pretty good reviews for a meatloaf!

Cheesey Italian Sausage Meatloaf

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 pound ground turkey
1 small red onion, chopped fine
4 tablespoons pesto, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
4 ounces Gorgonzola, divided
1/4 cup shredded parmesan

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sausage, turkey, onion, 2 tablespoons of the pesto, salt, pepper and oregano. Take two-thirds of the mixture and press it across the bottom and up the sides of a 9" pie pan. Place half of the Gorgonzola and all of the parmesan into the center of the circle, leaving a 1/2" border. Carefully spread the rest of the mixture over the cheese, and seal the edges.

Bake for 45 minutes, then brush with remaining the remaining 2 tablespoons pesto; sprinkle the remaining Gorgonzola over the top. Bake 5 more minutes.

Let the meatloaf rest for 5 minutes before cutting into portions.

Serves 6-8.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Schrafft's Hot Fudge Sauce

Every once in awhile, I would have half-days at school. Sometimes I'd just come home on the bus, eat my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and watch "As the World Turns" or "The Galloping Gourmet" with my mother.

But on other occasions, she would pick me up and we would spend part of the afternoon together. My mother's health was quite fragile and she often wasn't well, so the half-days when she would meet me at school were special. She would sometimes take me out to lunch at Schrafft's.

Schrafft's, according to, was an institution:

"... at its peak, there were more than fifty Schrafft’s in New York City, offering three full-service meals a day, drinks, and desserts in well-appointed and obsessively clean dining rooms. Schrafft’s occupied a territory somewhere between a diner and moderately-priced American restaurant ...."

Another site, remembering New York City in 1946, states that:

"The image Schrafft's sought to project was of a genteel place that served 'plain, clean, wholesome American cooking,' in the words of Frank Shattuck who had started the company's restaurant business .... Many Schrafft's had dark wood paneling and Colonial furniture. There were bud vases on the tables."

Because the company had originated as a candy manufacturer before branching out into restaurants, Schrafft's is most famous for its desserts ... and one sweet treat in particular: hot fudge sundaes.

The recipe for the rich, dark chocolate sauce is easily found online and in cookbooks - no one ever said it was a secret recipe!

Someone who shall remain nameless (for the sake of protection) has told me that this hot fudge sauce is even better than Sanders' ... gasp! This from someone born in Detroit and raised in Southeast Michigan!

My grandmother would come to visit us in New York and bring jars of Sanders' milk chocolate hot fudge, which I adore. But I've gotta say, the Schrafft's recipe is pretty lusciously indulgent, too.

You might just want to try this and see how they compare ....

Schrafft's Hot Fudge Sauce
(slightly modified from the original version)

3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup skim milk
1/4 cup half-and-half
2/3 cup corn syrup
2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon vinegar

Place all ingredients into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally; boil for 7 minutes, stirring once or twice, then let rest 30 minutes before serving.

Makes 1-1/4 cups of sauce.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Red Beans and Rice, Because "It's Monday, Darlin'"

Red Beans and Rice is a dish that traditionally cooks all day long. But sometimes you just don't have all day at your disposal; or your craving doesn't hit until you're riding the bus home, and you need to get your fix now once the notion has started to tease you.

And so I present this quicker - and thus inauthentic, but delicious nonetheless! - version of the famous dish, with apologies to folks (like my beloved blogging buddy Candace) who are from Louisiana and cherish the true vision of Red Beans and Rice.

I also apologize to the late, great Louis Armstrong, who loved this dish so much that he would sign letters "Red Beans and Ricely Yours." Louis adored this classic food to such a degree that the ability to make it properly was a litmus test of sorts for his fourth wife, Lucille - a northerner who won his heart by cobbling together a recipe that Louis declared to be "very much delicious."

But sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, even if it's not entirely traditional. Because it's Monday, and that calls for Red Beans and Rice.

Back in September of 2005, I read an article in The New York Times about New Orleans' earliest attempts at recovery after the horror of Hurricane Katrina, which struck the city 6 years ago today (just as Irene is wreaking havoc on the East Coast). Red Beans and Rice was a critical component of the story.

The resilience of the people who live in New Orleans, and the tragedy of the unfathomable damage to a city I've only visited once and adored, struck me deeply.

And there is one portion of the article which has stayed with me for all these years as the city has come back to life. It is haunting for the normalcy it portrays in the midst of chaos; and it demonstrates the importance of the cherished comforts of food, tradition and familiarity after inconceivable trauma:

"Monday isn't Monday in New Orleans without red beans and rice. That's because back when laundry was done by hand, Monday was the day for doing it. A dish that could simmer all day was called for. People throw their laundry into washing machines any day of the week now, but red beans and rice is still the dish you eat on Monday in New Orleans.

On this Monday, two big pots were cooking on propane stoves on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant Alex Patout's, just across the narrow street from Antoine's.

The building's owner, Finis Shelnutt, was manning the pots, despite the neighborhood's stench, the approaching darkness and the near-barren streets.


'It's Monday, darlin',' he said."

Quicker Red Beans & Rice

3 strips bacon, cut into 3/4" pieces
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 large garlic cloved, minced
1 link cooked Andouille sausage, sliced lengthwise then cut into 1/2" pieces
1 15-ounce can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce (Clancy's Fancy Hot Sauce, if you can get it - a fine Ann Arbor product!)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups white wine (I used Flip Flop Wines Riesling, a most generous marketing gift!)
1/2 cup water
rice, for serving

In a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, cook the bacon until it is starting to brown and has released some fat. Add the onion, red pepper, celery and garlic; cook until the vegetables have softened and the onion is translucent, stirring frequently. Add the remaining ingredients and turn the heat to high; bring to a boil, then continue cooking for 15-20 minutes until some of the liquid has evaporated but it's still quite soupy. According to the Armstrong family recipe: "Beans and meat should always be just covered with water (juice), never dry."

Serve in a deep bowl, over rice.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Frugal Floozie Friday -- Opera on Tap at Frenchie's

Opera on Tap is a fabulous event held at Frenchie's, next door to the Sidetrack Bar and Grill, on the first Tuesday of each month. I happen to love opera, and everyone knows I love to eat! Food and fun are both found here!

That you can also find your food and fun at Opera on Tap for $5 or less person ... well, that qualifies it to be this week's Frugal Floozie Friday feature.

Rather than being a stodgy affair, this is a most entertaining evening for which attendees must make reservations. (Call 734-483-5230 to leave your name and the number of people in your group. I don't know how bookings are for September 6, but try anyway in case they can fit you in.) There is no charge - just pay for your food and drinks, and leave a generous tip for your server.

Tom and I meandered into the August session a bit late, so we unfortunately missed any introductions there may have been. My understanding is that Opera on Tap features local singers, music students, and enthusiasts, all of whom performed with exceptional talent.

Everything from the most passionate Italian arias to the beautiful "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess was performed - some melodrama, some humor, and great variety. The singing was so profoundly moving that I can truly say tears came to my eyes at one point. And yet, two of the singers also took turns wearing Brunhilde-worthy horns and schmoozing with the audience while drinking beer between songs. A good time was had by all!

Now, this describes the "fun" portion of the evening. What about the food???

That came in the form of carrot cake - the triple-layered vision of loveliness pictured above, available for ordering from the Sidetrack menu.

Prepared by the amazing pastry chef Bryant Stuckey, of Decadent Delight, the cake is moist, dense, rich, spicy, and topped with a crowning glory of smooth, sweet, luscious cream cheese frosting ... sigh. One could easily relish this in utter selfishness, not sharing so much as a crumb; but it's so luscious that really, you want to share your bliss by having someone you love join you.

At $5.50 per slice, splitting dessert not only saves you calories but money as well. Order a cup of tea to complement it, and you're still within our Frugal Floozie Friday limit of $5 per person. There are also lots of other appetizers and desserts to enjoy on your own or to split with friends and family, all within our restrictive budget.

So immerse yourself in music and treats, delights to all your senses. Opera on Tap offers a fabulous evening of food and fun!

Frenchie's/Sidetrack Bar and Grill
56 E. Cross St.
Ypsilanti, MI 48197

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cucumber, Tomato and Olive Hors d'Oeuvres

For Tom's reception last week at the 55+ Gallery in the Turner Senior Resource Center, we brought both a blueberry cake and some summery hors d'ouvres.

I always have such a hard time trying to figure out what to make for these events. Because it's August, it only made sense to use some beautiful garden and farmers' market produce rather than puff pastry that can be purchased at any time of year. We wanted something seasonal.

And for some reason, a deconstructed Greek salad got stuck in my mind: cucumbers, tomatoes, lovely Kalamata olives. Feta's rich saltiness was desired, but it was too crumbly for the hors d'oeuvres as we started to envision them, on skewers.

So we substituted something spreadable - herbed cream cheese. And, of course, we left out the gorgeous but messy beets!

These were a delight for all our senses: visually enticing, tantalizing aroma, cool to the touch, crisp to bite into, and vibrantly flavorful.

Cucumber, Tomato and Olive Hors d'Oeuvres

1 English cucumber, sliced 1/4"+ thick
1/2 of an 8-ounce container of chive and onion spreadable cream cheese
16 Kalamata olives, pitted, halved lengthwise
32 grape tomatoes

Cut each cucumber slice in half across the slice. Schmear 1 teaspoon of cream cheese onto each cucumber piece. Take a froofy toothpick and skewer an olive half first, then a tomato. Skewer the cucumber last, without pressing the toothpick all the way through; the cucumber should lay flat against a serving tray.

Makes 32 hors d'oeuvres.

Note: Be sure to use wooden toothpicks. The plastic skewers we used were distinctive, but they didn't stay in the cucumber slices very well. Also, if you want the cucumbers to be "striped," simply run a vegetable peeler down the length of the cucumber before slicing it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pork 'n' Shrimp Stir Fry

Jeremy and his dad have gone back to the low-carb life, and have been killing their arteries with lots of eggs, cheese, bacon, burger patties, and other fat-laden indulgences.

I've tried to explain to them that they could actually reintroduce themselves to a few vegetables, perhaps focus on low-fat protein rather than the greasy stuff. Wah Wah, Wah Wah WAH Wah Wah ... to them, I just sound like the teachers in Charlie Brown cartoons!

So I promised to make dinner for them one night and prove to them that it would not be a cataclysmic catastrophe to find a piece of cabbage or a strip of pepper on their plates.

I mixed some pork, some shrimp and some sauces together in a wok, tossed in a prepared bag of cole slaw mix, and stood at the stove for maybe 10 minutes stirring everything together. And this dinner was devoured in even less time than it took to make! When I told the boys that there was a little bit extra left over, Jeremy immediately lay claim to it before his father could.


Pork 'n' Shrimp Stir Fry

1 tablespoon light oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 drops cayenne pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 pound thin cut pork chops, cut into 1/2" strips
1-1/2 cups small salad shrimp
1/2 red pepper, cut into 1/2" strips
1/2 yellow pepper, cut into 1/2" strips
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1 14-ounce bag prepared cole slaw mix
4 large scallions, whites chopped fine and greens cut into 1" strips
rice, for serving

Heat the oils, pepper sauce and pepper flakes in a wok over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook until the pork is no longer pink; add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes. Add the peppers and cook 2 minutes, until caramelizing a bit.

Combine the hoisin and teriyaki sauces; pour into the wok and coat the pork and shrimp with the sauce. Add the cole slaw mix and the whites of the scallions; stir to combine well, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the scallion greens.

Serve over rice, if desired. Makes 2-4 servings.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hamburger Gravy with Mashed Redskin Potatoes

Please note that this was written ahead of time, as I wouldn't be able to function if I didn't prepare at least one week ahead rather than trying to find time to post every single day! But sadly, the man I'm writing about - who was doing so beautifully just 2 weeks ago - has died quite unexpectedly; his funeral was held yesterday morning. And I'm sorry to say that our patient never got to try his requested dish ... just after I prepared this meal, freezing it to bring for the next visit, he went back into the hospital and subsequently passed away ....

The same patient whom I wrote about yesterday - who'd been in the hospital for 6 weeks, followed by weeks of rehab before finally coming home to continued therapies and a goal of regaining strength and weight - specifically requested today's featured dish: Hamburger Gravy. I'd asked him what would encourage him to eat, and this is what immediately came to mind.

But I'd never heard of it. "You mean, a hamburger patty with a gravy over it?"

An emphatic "No."

"It's hamburger - ground beef - cooked in a gravy. And it's served over mashed potatoes."

And so, I set about figuring out how to make this with just that brief description.

I'd considered adding peas and carrots, in an effort to boost the nutritional value; that was pooh-poohed immedately. This dish is not about vegetables, but about comfort. (Those colorful, healthy things can go on the side, but not in the main dish!)

Mushrooms seemed a natural addition, though, to help boost the flavor of the gravy; because of medicine interactions, I wasn't using red wine (which I would normally have used instinctively).

Pour everything over mashed redskin potatoes, with the skins adding color and texture. And, of course, they have to be lumpy - real potatoes for real food.

And I have to say that this is inspired - I loved it! It's perfect hearty, soul-soothing food, and will be even more appreciated on a cold wintery Michigan evening just a few months from now ....

Hamburger Gravy with Mashed Redskin Potatoes

Hamburger Gravy:
1-1/2 pounds ground chuck
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1 small red onion, chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups beef stock (or red wine or a combination thereof)
3 generous splashes cayenne pepper sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup chopped parsley

In a Dutch oven, cook the ground chuck over medium heat until mostly browned; drain. Add the mushrooms and onion and saute until the vegetables are softened, Add the salt, seasoned salt and pepper; cook for 5 more minutes. Add the stock and pepper sauce, and bring to a boil. Combine the cornstarch and water; add to the gravy and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the parsley.

Mashed Potatoes:
1 3-pound bag redskin potatoes
1/2 cup butter
1-1/2 cups skim milk
3 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring a stockpot of salted water to a boil. Cut the potatoes into halves, and cook for 15 minutes or until fork-tender; drain. Partially mash the potatoes, then add the butter, milk, salt and pepper. Continue to mash the potatoes until they become somewhat creamy but retain chunks of potato rather than being smooth.

Place a generous scoop of potatoes in a deep bowl, then pour hamburger gravy over the top.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bratwurst with Peppers and Onions

Please note that this was written ahead of time, as I wouldn't be able to function if I didn't prepare at least one week ahead rather than trying to find time to post every single day! But sadly, the man I'm writing about - who was doing so beautifully just 2 weeks ago - has died quite unexpectedly; his funeral will be held this morning. I didn't have the heart to change the wording and update this piece, because we really did have a lovely afternoon the last time I saw him. I wanted that committed officially to cyberspace, where everything lives forever even though, in the real world, fragile human beings don't ....

A very dear friend's father spent 6 weeks in the hospital this summer, followed by an extended stay in a rehabilitation facility for a variety of therapies (physical, occupational, respiratory, etc.) He's now home and in good spirits ... and he's quite chatty, which means he's in really good form! He's usually a man of few, but well-chosen, words.

But he's still quite weak, understandably. Thus his loved ones are on a mission to help him regain both the strength and the 25 pounds that he's lost.

This is a meat-'n'-potatoes kinda guy, who enjoys meatloaf but doesn't care about macaroni and cheese. And, according to his wife of more than 40 years, he loves any kind of sausage.

So I made this dish of bratwurst with onions and green peppers not only to provide an enticing encouragement for our patient to eat, but also so that there would be at least one meal this man's devoted wife -- who not only coordinates his treatments, appointments and rides, but who even researched codes and protocols for a wheelchair ramp and designed their new one herself (he's so proud of her work!) -- would not have to make in the midst of all the stress of setting up the couple's new routines.

I hope they both enjoyed a hearty meal that was easy to heat in the microwave. The only thing better might have been if they used paper plates to avoid dirty dishes!

Bratwurst with Peppers and Onions

5 links fresh bratwurst
2/3 cup green tea (or beer, though I didn't use it here to avoid med interactions)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup brown mustard
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 yellow onion, halved, sliced
1 green pepper, halved, sliced
8 ounces macaroni, cooked

Brown bratwurst in a 10" skillet over medium heat. Add tea and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium, then cook for 15 minutes turning bratwurst once halfway through the cooking time; most of the liquid should have evaporated. Remove bratwurst from the skillet and cut into 1/2" slices.

Add water to the skillet and stir to scrape up the bits from the bratwurst. Stir in the mustard, seasoned salt and pepper; cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes until vegetables are softening, stirring once or twice. Add the sliced bratwurst and cook for 5 more minutes.

Serve bratwurst and vegetables over macaroni.

Serves 4.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Frugal Floozie Friday -- Mark's Carts

It's Frugal Floozie Friday, and today's adventure takes us to a place with a tremendous variety of foods. No, it's not a buffet; but it's a bit reminiscent of one, as you can choose a little bit here, something else there, and be lured by the temptation of a rich treat off in the corner.

Today we're visiting Mark's Carts, a courtyard in downtown Ann Arbor filled with street food carts featuring everything from comfort foods to ethnic dishes, from sandwiches to desserts.

Tom and I perused all of the available offerings, though unfortunately there wasn't a complete array as we were there early in the evening and each cart keeps differing hours. Apparently things really get going after 6 p.m. on Friday nights, with all of the vendors open and live music contributing to the festive ambience.

We decided to try a bit from each of the three carts that were ready and waiting for us. A Thai-style salad with peanut dressing from The Lunch Room was our opening act, a light dish of rice noodles with bright, colorful vegetables.

We had a wonderful chat with cart co-owner Phillis Engelbert, whose smile and enthusiasm are irresistable. Her cart's menu is vegan, and features everything from a barbecue tofu sandwich with slaw to large cookies (Blackstrap molasses gingersnaps, Mexican hot chocolate). And Phillis even told me that adults are welcome to order the fabulous "kids' meal": peanut butter and jelly sandwich, applesauce, carrot sticks, and a chocolate chip cookie -- a healthy happy meal for only $5. Bike delivery is available at lunchtime, if you're having a craving and can't get out of the office.

To go with the salad, we ordered a bratwurst on a crispy toasted bun from Eat. This was topped with sauerkraut from Ann Arbor's own The Brinery, which specializes in fermented vegetables (and makes a kimchi which Tom adores!).

At $6 for this portion of our meal plus $4 for the salad, the mainstay of our shared dinner came in at precisely $5 per person, our Frugal Floozie Friday budget limit, and featured an entire array of handmade and locally sourced foods that were good both for us and for Michigan's economy ... how great is that?

And yet, the pièce de résistance was a flourless chocolate cake purchased at Darcy's Cart, which was topped with an amazingly generous slathering of homemade whipped cream (cream-to-cake ration of 2:1!). You can pay $3 for just the cake, but why not invest the extra $1 for the cream? Coupled with a refreshing $2 lemonade from the Eat cart, sharing the sweet portion of our meal provided another less-than-$5 per person option, perfect for an after-dinner treat.

But let me get on to describing the "cake," which was really more of a dense fudge than a traditional flourless dessert (i.e.: one made with ground nuts). It was so rich and luscious, and it really benefitted from the not-too-sweet cream that helped to balance the depth of its intensity.

Darcy's Cart, like the other vendors in the courtyard, proudly cooks with Michigan products and features a bulletin board giving credit to those who've contributed to that day's offerings:

Mark's Carts is a great idea, leaping into the street food phenomenon so popular in larger cities and helping to promote both local vendors and the Michigan suppliers whom they support. Head on over some time, and eat a little here and a little there - a wide variety of cuisines and treats - and enjoy the summer weather while having a fabulous meal!

Mark's Carts
211 W. Washington
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Banana Nutella Cake with Coffee Glaze

At work the other day, a vision came into my head. Not one of those religious visions I was taught about in Catholic school! Rather, it was a vision of food ... specifically of cake.

A banana cake.

A cake made with Nutella.

A cake with a coffee glaze.

I wasn't quite sure how these pieces would fit together, but it was clear that this vision had to be realized. And so, over the weekend I baked.

I took a basic cake recipe which is very adaptable. I took a perfectly ripe banana, and I bought a jar of Nutella because ... ahem ... the last jar I had seems to have disappeared. I didn't bake with it, I didn't use it as a frosting. I'd be ashamed to admit that I simply finished it off ages ago with a spoon, but I know I'm not the only one who indulges that way!

But I digress ....

I didn't need to do a lot of research through various recipes, trying to configure how my cake would be created. Instinctively, I just knew that the basic batter need to be mixed with the key ingredients, swirled, topped with a crunchy streusel, and then given the final crowning glory of a glaze.

So, that's what I did.

And the end result was so moist, so seductively delicious! Each flavor shone, and yet each also complemented the others.

Sometimes inspiration strikes, and things are just meant to be ....

Banana Nutella Cake with Coffee Glaze

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unbleached flour
2 generous tablespoons Nutella
1 medium banana, mashed

1/4 cup unbleached flour
1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup oatmeal
1/8 cup ground almonds
1/8 cup butter, softened

1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons prepared coffee, cooled to room temperature

Cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8"x8" glass baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine butter, sour cream, egg, sugar, baking powder and baking soda; stir in the flour.

Remove 1 cup of the batter and place it into a medium mixing bowl; stir the Nutella into the remaining batter in the large bowl. Stir the mashed banana into the batter in the medium bowl.

Spread the Nutella batter into the prepared baking pan.

Carefully spread the banana batter over this, then use a knife to swirl the batters together.

Streusel: Combine the flour, sugar, oatmeal and almonds in a small mixing bowl. Use a fork to mix in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle the streusel over the top of the cake.

Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely.

Glaze: Combine the coffee and the confectioners' sugar, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over the cake, then let the glaze set. Cut and serve.

Makes 8-12 servings.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Angel Hair Pasta with Purple Basil

Okay, once again I'm going to seem pretentious. But Tom and I made a fabulous pasta dish over the weekend, and simply calling it "Angel Hair Pasta with Purple Basil" does not begin to do it justice! It deserves its beautiful, lyrical Italian name: Capelli d'Angelo con Basilico Viola. [kah-PAY-lee DAHN-jel-OH kohn bah-SEEL-ee-koh vee-OHL-uh]

Such simplicity - beautiful tomatoes and deeply violet-colored basil from the farmers' market, some contrasting color from baby spinach leaves, the depth of flavor from the Gorgonzola ... sigh. It doesn't take anything very complicated to make a spectacular meal, just exceptional ingredients.

There was no grand plan for this dish; while perusing the bounty at the Farmers Market on Saturday, we found a gorgeous bouquet of purple basil. It cost $1 ... well, how could we refuse? We didn't know what we'd do with it, but there had to be something it could work with.

A few other items were thrown into the mix, and there was lunch - a lovely light meal featuring summer produce, colorful and immensely flavorful!

Angel Hair Pasta with Purple Basil

8 ounces angel hair pasta, cooked according to package directions
2 tablespoons oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning (i.e.: Mrs. Dash)
1 large tomato, chopped
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup purple basil leaves, cut into fine strips
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola

While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and tomato; cook until the tomatoes produce some juice, then add spinach and cook just until wilted. Stir vegetables into pasta, and place onto a serving platter.

Sprinkle basil over the pasta, then top with the Gorgonzola.

Serves 2-4.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tomato Sandwiches - One of the Best Summer Meals!

Is there a more perfect summer food than a ripe tomato? And is there any better way to eat one than in a tomato sandwich? I know many people - myself included! - who wait all year long for the joy of biting into this deliriously simple but splendid delicacy.

It takes so little to make a tomato sandwich - bread, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, a bit of salt and pepper. And yet, because there are so few ingredients, the quality of each is paramount.

So start with a good sourdough to contrast with the sweetness of the freshly picked, vine-ripened tomato. Add real mayonnaise - full-fat, please, contributing its smooth richness to the cause. Toss in some crisp lettuce, to add both contrasting color and crunch. Add a sprinkle each of salt and pepper, and put it all together.

And once these few simple items have been combined, you find yourself with a sandwich you remember vividly from last summer, which you've longed for as you watched the leaves turn, as you shovelled the snow, as you smelled the lilacs in bloom, as you planted your tomato seedlings and tended them with care.

It's finally here - the sandwich you've missed so, the one you've dreamt of for months and months.

You take the first bite ... the juice of the tomato starts to drip down your hand ... you grab for your napkin. And you smile broadly, knowing it was worth every moment of the wait for this moment of sheer bliss.

Tomato Sandwich

2 slices sourdough bread
generous schmears of mayonnaise
2 1/2" thick slices of tomato
pinch of kosher salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper

Lay the bread onto the countertop, and schmear with the mayonnaise. Lay lettuce on one slice of bread, and top it with the tomato slices. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the tomatoes, then top with the remaining slice of bread and cut the sandwich in half.

Makes 1 sandwich, but can easily be multiplied.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tuna Mac 'n' Cheese

Anyone who's known me for any length of time knows that I'm frugal: I shop at thrift stores, I search for Manager's Specials (foods being sold at significant discount as they approach their "sell by" date), and I never waste leftovers (even taking gluey oatmeal once and turning it into cinnamon bread).

People who know me also know that I'm a romantic. And I've never cared whether someone had fabulous wealth or not, whether they'd spoil me like a princess or buy me luxurious meals at expensive restaurants. Because that's not what's important. (Not to mention that I can cook a pretty good meal myself!)

One of my mottos in life is that "You can always eat 39-cent macaroni and cheese; what matters is having someone to share your 39-cent macaroni and cheese with."

And so, when deciding upon dinner one night, Tom and I decided to be exceedingly frugal as well as celebrating having someone to share the 39-cent macaroni and cheese with.

I'd mentioned to him once that you could make a mock tuna casserole by tossing peas and tuna into the macaroni; he'd never had that before, usually adding chopped hot dogs to his. So we made the variation for dinner one evening: Tuna Mac 'n' Cheese.

I prepared our dinner while Tom lit a candle and set the table with cloth napkins. Then we enjoyed a meal of consummate comfort food while appreciating that each of us again has someone whose priorities are in the right order.

It didn't matter that we may have been eating the cheapest meal we've ever shared; it only mattered that we were eating the 39-cent macaroni and cheese together ... :)

Tuna Mac 'n' Cheese

1 7.25-ounce box macaroni and cheese
1 cup frozen peas
1 5-ounce can tuna, drained
2 tablespoons butter
1/3-1/2 cup milk, to taste
generous sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan; add macaroni and cook for 6 minutes. Add peas and cook for 2 more minutes until macaroni is tender; drain. Return macaroni to the saucepan, and stir in tuna, butter and milk. Empty the cheese packet over the macaroni and add the pepper; stir until combined well.

Serves 2-4.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Frugal Floozie Friday -- Earthen Jar

It's Frugal Floozie Friday, and today we're indulging in one of my very favorite cuisines: Indian. I adore Indian food, cook it often, and even have a friend - Sid, who first contacted me as an reader - who regularly tempts me by sending videos featuring Indian recipes.

So in looking for a restaurant to feature today, it was easy to decide upon one: Earthen Jar.

Earthen Jar's mostly vegan Indian buffet costs a mere $5.99 per pound. The problem, however, lies in trying to exhibit restraint - everything looks and smells amazing, and you'll find yourself wanting to try each offering. Except that then, of course, you'll end up paying $23 for your dinner! So a little of this, a little of that ... and the secret weapon: bring a friend, so you can each select different items and then share the wealth.

Tom and I recently ate dinner at this small but colorful restaurant, and I was completely seduced by all the fragrant and fabulous foods. There was an astounding variety of different lentil dishes, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, spinach, potatoes, paneer, salads; some of these were spicy, others were milder, but each had a unique and wonderful flavor.

Earthen Jar's menu is primarily vegan, including macaroni and cheese (I guess to keep the kids or picky eaters happy?); but there are a very few dairy products, such as a yogurt-based raita and the paneer which is in a couple of the dishes. There are also desserts (puddings and halwa), which we didn't get to after our immensely delicious dinner indulgence.

A few extra items are available at a charge beyond that of the buffet, such as baked goods, beverages and traditional Indian breads. Tom and I ordered naan for 99-cents each; but interestingly, without the bread, we had portioned out the food on our plates for a perfect and identical total of $5 each - the Frugal Floozie Friday budget per person.

Unfortunately, Earthen Jar is right next to Jerusalem Garden, the Middle Eastern restaurant that was featured in a recent Frugal Floozie Friday post; therefore, it is suffering the same misery of being located right in the midst of the enormous and seemingly endless project to construct an underground parking structure downtown. There is a sign saying that the two restaurants on that block are still open; but with parking non-existent and the street blocked off, it's not a particularly enticing location.

So go feast upon Indian food at a restaurant which blissfully lets you try a bit of each item rather than having to only pick one dish - the joy of a buffet! And help to keep Earthen Jar open through the construction quagmire, as it is truly a fabulous asset to Ann Arbor.

Earthen Jar
311 S. Fifth Avenue
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104

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Frugal Floozie Friday: Food and Fun for Five Dollars or Less ... Really!!!

Earthen Jar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blueberry Streusel Cake for an Artists' Reception

Everyone is invited to join me this Sunday, August 14 at 4 p.m. for an artists' reception at the 55+ Gallery in the Turner Senior Resource Center. My boyfriend - Thomas Boulan, a docent at the Riverside Arts Center who creates fascinating digital collages - is featured in the newest two-man show running until October 28, which we're very excited about!

During the reception, Tom and John Copley - the other featured exhibitor, a noted painter who works in oils - will have an opportunity to discuss their careers and their creative interests. It's a fabulous chance to schmooze with the artists.

The gallery "exhibits two-dimensional art created by gifted artists aged fifty-five and older." Tom won't actually reach that key birthday until October 1, but the lovely folks at Turner let him join the party a little bit early. Guests of any age are welcome at Sunday's reception, or to visit the gallery anytime between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. (Picture = "Spring Equinox" by Thomas Boulan)

While the Center graciously offers refreshments at the reception, the artists are welcome to contribute to the buffet as well. And you know I don't miss an opportunity to cook or bake or feed people!

So Tom and I debated what to serve, considering ease of eating while perusing the artwork, whether an item needed to be kept warm or chilled, etc. We ultimately decided upon hors d'oeuvres reminiscent of Greek salad, featuring skewered cucumber slices topped with herbed cheese, cherry tomatoes and Kalamata olives.

Of course, something sweet was also mandatory. And with so many gorgeous fruits available, it was easy to decide upon this lusciously moist, brightly-flavored blueberry cake - it is absolutely the essence of summer! It's quick to prepare, can actually feature any berry that suits your fancy, and receives enthusiastic raves every time I serve it.

So please stop by the reception on Sunday to meet Tom and John, and enjoy a piece of cake while you chat and immerse yourself in beautiful artworks on a summer afternoon. We'd love to see you there!

Gallery 55+
Turner Senior Resource Center
2401 Plymouth Road, Suite C
Ann Arbor, MI 48105

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Blueberry Streusel Cake
(modified slightly from a recipe on

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup blueberries

1/4 cup flour
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup instant oatmeal, plain
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/8 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8"x8" baking dish.

Make the cake: In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, sour cream, egg, sugar and lemon zest. Stir in baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour. Carefully stir in blueberries and spread batter into the baking dish.

Make the streusel: In a small bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, oatmeal, cinnamon and walnuts. With a fork, mix in butter until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle streusel over the top of the cake.

Bake the cake for 40 minutes until the top is lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool before cutting.

Serves 8-12, depending upon how generous the portions are.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Southern Fried Chicken

I once read that gossip columnist Liz Smith, who is from Texas, claimed to love all kinds of fried chicken; but she noted quite emphatically that she had never eaten a battered variety while growing up in the South. Southern fried chicken, at its most authentic, is merely coated with seasoned flour and fried in a skillet.

It's also easier to make this traditional fried chicken, and it's far less messy than battering and deep-frying, as well. Who wants to be washing extra dishes, after all, and wiping up splattered grease when they can simply be enjoying this perfect summer food?

I cooked my chicken in a combination of oil and bacon fat, which I always reserve rather than discarding it. I consider it to be a priceless contribution to many foods, even in small quantities, as its flavor is incomparable. If you're going to be frying a piece of chicken anyway - and especially relishing the crispy, spicy skin - then it's not as though you're particularly concerned about calories or cholesterol. Have a little extra fun!

If you don't have access to this priceless resource, however, you can use schmaltz - rendered chicken fat - which is available for purchase near the kosher meats at grocery stores. This is used in kosher cooking as a substitute for butter when preparing fleishig - [FLAY-shig], Yiddish for "flesh" or meat - as meat and dairy products can't be combined.

Perfect for a picnic or a family reunion or "just because," traditional Southern Fried Chicken is a simple delicacy and an ideal summertime food.

Southern Fried Chicken

4 chicken thighs
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup unbleached flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 generous shakes of cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons bacon fat (or schmaltz or butter)

Lay the chicken pieces on a plate, and sprinkle all sides with the kosher salt.

In a strong quart-sized baggie, combine the flour, cornmeal, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, seasoned salt, chili powder and cayenne pepper. One by one, place the chicken pieces into the baggie, seal it, and shake until the chicken is well coated.

In a large skillet, melt the oil and bacon fat over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces, skin-side up, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook for 10 minutes over medium-low heat. Turn chicken one more time, cover the pan loosely, and cook for 10 more minutes.

Remove the chicken pieces and pat dry on paper towels.

Serves 2-4.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fried Potatoes with Red Pepper and Blue Cheese

I woke up early one Saturday morning ... well, I always wake up early, that's not newsworthy! I'm a "late to bed, early to rise" kinda girl, a notoriously poor sleeper.

So first I made a cup of coffee, because that is always the #1 priority of the day. And then I set about figuring out what to eat for breakfast.

I'm not usually a fan of sweet things to start my day ... pancakes or cinnamon rolls sometimes call to me, but not often. I'm someone who also doesn't believe in traditional breakfast foods, such as oatmeal or toast. Give me leftovers of spaghetti and meatballs! I'll happily eat re-warmed Chinese food! It's hard to know what I'll be craving at 6:30 in the morning.

And so, recently I was tired (oh, so tired!) of eggs. I didn't want Cheerios. I'd already polished off any leftovers from the week.

But then I found half a baked potato ... and I had a red pepper ... and there was a bag of walnuts ... and a brand new container of Gorgonzola was staring back at me as I peered into the refrigerator.

And thus, an exceptionally fine meal of fried potatoes with lots of other goodies tossed in for protein, flavor and color was born!

Fried Potatoes with Red Pepper and Blue Cheese

1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large baked potato, cut into 1/2" dice
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons crumbled Gorgonzola

Melt butter and oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the potato, onion and red pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the salt, pepper and walnuts; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 more minutes until the potatoes are golden and the vegetables are softening. Place the potatoes into a serving dish and top with the Gorgonzola.

Serves 1, but could easily be multiplied.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Romanesco Zucchini

There is a particular cooking contest that I've never entered, which encourages gargantuan burgers featuring lots of mix-ins, a sauce or two, toppings, spreads, and all sorts of other nonsense which - to my mind - detracts from the basic beauty of the burger. Good beef, a bit of seasoning, some essential condiments and a sturdy bun are all that's needed.

And so, when zucchini is in season I don't want to see it buried in breads or layered with sauces and cheeses. I love it when it's very simply prepared, letting its flavor shine.

This preparation - involving only a few minutes of sauteeing in garlic and oil, just until the zucchini caramelizes a bit - is ideal for small zucchini which are tender (rather than the overgrown ones which become fibrous).

And if you can find them at the farmers' market, the very best zucchini for this recipe are Romanesco zucchini. Any summer squash - yellow or green - will suffice. But the ridges on the Romanesco make for a beautiful, sunburst-like presentation after slicing. It's worth the hunt for this heirloom variety, I assure you!

Garlic-Sauteed Romanesco Zucchini

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 minced garlic clove
2 6" Romanesco zucchini, ends trimmed,
cut into 1/4" slices
pinch of sea salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add zucchini slices in a single layer and cook 2-3 minutes per side, until golden. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then serve.

Serves 1-2.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Frugal Floozie Friday -- Sweetwater's Cafe

On one of those wretchedly hot days we had recently, when the heat index was hovering miserably around 100F, Jeremy and I went out to get a snack. A cold - COLD - drink and a cookie ... that was the perfect antidote for the excessive kiln-like conditions outside.

We headed to Sweetwaters Cafe (there are 3 locations in town), a perfect place to feature for today's Frugal Floozie Friday.

Not only can you get the requisite coffee and tea at these sleek, modern, but always friendly cafes; but there is also a housemade ginger ale, called Ginger Fizz. And it was this - which has even been mentioned in a New York Times article on ginger ale's resurgence in popularity - that we'd specifically craved.

There is a distinct ginger flavor in the soda, but even someone I know who doesn't particularly care for the spice really loves the drink. It's vibrant and refreshing, familiar and yet so much more sophisticated than plain ol' ginger ale.

We also enjoyed cookies -- huge cookies that we really should have split, but why??? Jeremy ordered a chocolate chip cookie which he ate with great enthusiasm, while I savored a rich, crumbly peanut butter one.

There are lots of iced teas and luscious treats to be had at Sweetwaters within the Frugal Floozie Friday budget of $5 per person or less. But my favorite is absolutely the Ginger Fizz, which I cannot recommend highly enough!

Time spent with my son, a sweet, and a cold beverage on a hot, hot day ... a perfect afternoon ... :)

Frugal Floozie Friday: Food and Fun for Five Dollars or Less ... Really!!!

Sweetwaters Cafe
3393 Plymouth Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48105

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Sweetwaters Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ricotta Cheese Pudding

I haven't made my Chocolate Cannoli Cake in ages. It's a lovely dessert with an orange-scented ricotta cheese mixture swirled into the batter; remarkably, it's both rich and light at the same time.

The other night, I wanted the flavors of the cake but didn't want to bother baking. I'd also just made a blueberry cake that morning, and hardly needed a second seductress in the house calling to me sweetly!

So instead, I simply took the ricotta filling that is swirled into the cake batter (minus the raw egg, of course, since no cooking would be involved) and made it into a pudding instead.

This is light, refreshing, and absolutely ridiculously easy to make. If it's too hot out to cook or you need an elegant finish to a summer meal, this is the dessert you've been waiting for.

It's also perfect if you just want a slightly sweet, cool dessert at the end of the day. This pudding can be anything you need it to be ....

Italian Ricotta Cheese Pudding

1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
very finely grated zest of 1 large orange
juice of 1/4 orange
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
5 cinnamon graham cookie sticks, crushed

Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl; mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight for the flavors to develop, then spoon into decorative serving glasses. Sprinkle cookie crumbs over the top of the puddings.

Serves 4-6.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fattoush: A Fabulous Summer Salad

I love fattoush - it's one of my very favorite salads! Just as Jeremy will inevitably order a Reuben if he sees one on a menu, if fattoush is offered to me I will always happily eat some.

Fattoush is easy to make, showcases fresh ingredients from the garden or the farmers' market (or both), and is a flavorful accompaniment to meat or fish in addition to being fabulous all on its own.

This is an Arabic salad which began, as did the Italian panzanella, as merely a way to use up stale bread by combining it with vegetables and letting a dressing help to soften the crisp bread. But these bread salads are so fabulous that I never bother to wait until the primary ingredient is stale - I just toast up some fresh bread and proceed along whenever a craving strikes!

The sumac included in the dressing ingredients is vital, and is available very inexpensively at Middle Eastern markets. It provides a sour flavor that enhances, rather than overpowering, the salad, working in conjunction with the lemon juice without making the dish too tart.


1 cup chopped parsley
1 large piece whole wheat pita bread, torn into 1" pieces and toasted lightly
1 small red onion, quartered, sliced thin
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 large cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, sliced thin
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground sumac
lettuce, for serving (optional)

Place parsley, toasted pita, onion, tomatoes and cucumber into a large mixing bowl. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and sumac. Pour dressing over the salad and combine well. Let salad rest for 30 minutes to let flavors develop, then serve over lettuce if desired.

Serves 6 as a side dish.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

National Ice Cream Sandwich Day

How can you not celebrate something as fabulous as National Ice Cream Sandwich Day??? Is this a great occasion, or what?

Even if you're rushed for time and have to just buy a box of sandwiches at the grocery store, be sure to join in the party! To spiff things up a bit, you could layer them to make a frozen "cake" of sorts, a fancier dessert.

You could also invest some time and effort into baking your own cookies and making your own ice cream ... but that's a fair amount of work, and we want to be eating!

So compromise: buy large cookies at the grocery store (or gratefully accept a gift of homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from your boyfriend's sister) and fill them with store-bought ice cream (I used butter pecan). Then you can spend your time luxuriating over dessert rather than slaving away in front of a hot oven or washing lots of dishes.

Who wants to work, after all, when they can be eating ice cream?

Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches

2 large (3"-4" cookies)
1/2 cup ice cream, slightly softened

Place one cookie upside down on the countertop. Place the ice cream onto the cookie and top with the other cookie, right-side up. Press together gently, then wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1 hour to set. Repeat to make as many sandwiches as you'd like.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Breaking the Fast on the First Day of Ramadan

Islam's holiest month, Ramadan, began last night. Tonight at sundown, therefore, will be the end of the first day of fasting, with denial of food and water during daylight hours this month being one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

The month of Ramadan is the time during which The Quran "was sent down from heaven (to provide) guidance unto men, a declaration of direction, and a means of Salvation ...," according to Fasting, then, is a form of self-denial intended to encourage reflection, introspection, patience, humility, and rejuvenation. And Ramadan is an extremely auspicious month, considered to be filled with blessings.

Iftar - the evening meal to break the fast - is one that is ideally shared with family and community. And it is necessarily both nutritious and fairly light. It is traditional for many to first eat a date when they sit down to their meal; this is then followed by a wide variety of foods, dependent upon country and culture.

I cooked up this chickpea dish over the weekend and offer it as an option for breaking the fast. It's quick and easy to make, features spices which are commonly used in the Middle East (the birthplace of Islam, of course), and is absolutely delicious!

Chickpeas, Tomatoes and Spinach

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon sumac (available at Middle Eastern markets)
1 teaspoon shawarma spices (available at Middle Eastern markets)
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent. Add the chickpeas and tomato; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, sumac and shawarma spices; cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in parsley.

Serve over rice or stuffed into a pita or placed into a hollowed-out tomato.

Serves 2-4.

Please note: You can squeeze the juice from half-a-lemon onto this in place of the sumac. And you can substitute a mix of cumin, garlic powder, and a pinch each of cloves and cinnamon for shawarma spices.

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