SAAG PANEER

1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cayenne
¼ cup olive oil
12 ounces paneer
3 cups spinach leaves
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Serrano chile, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup plain yogurt


Cut the paneer into bite sized cubes. Whisk the turmeric and cayenne in a large bowl. Add the cubes of paneer and gently toss.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add half the olive oil and all the paneer cubes. Toss the pan after a few minutes. Each piece of paneer should be browned on one side. Fry for another minute or two. Transfer the paneer to a plate and set aside.

Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and serrano pepper. sauté until the onions are lightly browned, 10 minutes.

Add the coriander, cumin, garam masala, salt and two tablespoons of water. Cook, stirring often, until the spices are fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the spinach and stir well, incorporating the spiced onion mixture into the spinach. Add 1/2 cup of water, stir, and cook 5 minutes with the lid off. Transfer to a food processor and puree.

Place the pureed mixture back in the pan. Taste and season with more salt, if necessary.

Turn the heat off. Add the yogurt, a little at a time to keep it from curdling. Stir to combine the spicach with the yogurt. Add the paneer cubes. Turn the heat back on, cover and cook until everything is warmed through, 5 minutes. Serve with naan or cooked rice.

Serves 4

Adapted from a recipe by Aarti Sequeira

GLUTEN-FREE LEMON LAYER CAKE

This recipe makes a small rectangular layer cake made from a single cake cut into thirds.

For the gluten-free génoise cake
¼ cup agave syrup
5 eggs, yolks and whites separated
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup millet flour (or all-purpose flour)

For the filling

8 ounces mascarpone
Grated zest of 1 lemon, plus some extra for garnish
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons agave syrup

For the syrup
4 tablespoons agave syrup
Juice of ½ lemon
1/3 cup water

 


 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 8×9 pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Beat the agave syrup with the egg yolks and vanilla extract in a medium mixing bowl until frothy. Gently whisk in the flour. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks and fold them into the egg yolk, agave and flour mixture. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 13 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the mascarpone, grated lemon zest, lemon juice and agave together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

When the cake is cooked, unmold it onto a large cutting board or dry surface, gently peel off the parchment paper and cut the cake into three rectangles of the same size. Let it cool.

Make the syrup by combining the agave syrup, lemon juice and water in a small saucepan. Cook the syrup over low heat for about 5 minutes.

Brush the first cake rectangle lightly with the syrup, spread a third of the mascarpone on the cake. Top it with the second cake rectangle, brush it with syrup and spread it with mascarpone. Repeat with the remaining cake rectangle and top it with a thin layer of mascarpone. Garnish with lemon zest, if you wish.

Serves 6

CREAM CHEESE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, preferably at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon brewed coffee (or liqueur of choice), optional
10 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or finely shredded coconut, for coating

 


In a large bowl, stir the cream cheese well until fluffy. Stir in the vanilla extract and coffee or liqueur. Melt the chocolate in the microwave and slowly add it to the cream cheese while stirring. Continue stirring until the white from the cheese is no longer visible and the mixture is uniformly brown.

Refrigerate for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Using a teaspoon, scoop out the chocolate and shape it into 1-inch balls.

Place the cocoa powder or shredded coconut in a shallow dish and roll the truffles in the coating.

Refrigerate leftovers. Allow them to warm up and soften a bit at room temperature before serving them.

Makes 16

SPICED & HERBED GOAT CHEESE

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

5 ounces fresh goat cheese

Crackers or bread

 


 
Place the black pepper, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ground cloves, cayenne pepper, and thyme on a large plate. Stir with a spoon until well mixed. Spread into a thin layer.

Shape the goat cheese into a log. Roll the log in the spice-herb mix until the cheese is completely covered.

Wrap the goat cheese tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate, 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve with crackers or bread and fresh fruit. The cheese is also delicious drizzled with a little honey.
 
Serves 4 to 6

SPINACH QUICHE

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 stick unsalted butter
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
8 ounces shredded Parmesan or gruyere
1 (9–inch) frozen deep-dish pie crust (preferably whole grain)
4 eggs
½ cup milk

 


 
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium skillet, sauté the onion and garlic in butter over medium heat, about 8 minutes. Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes. Mix in the Feta and half the Parmesan and transfer into the piecrust.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk and season with salt and pepper. Gently pour the milk and egg mixture on the quiche, poking little holes in the spinach with a fork to help the liquid penetrate.

Carefully transfer the quiche into the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Top the quiche with the rest of the parmesan and bake for 30 minutes.
 

Serves 4

CAULIFLOWER GRATIN

small head cauliflower, cut into florets
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour
1 ½ cups milk
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
⅛ heaping teaspoon ground nutmeg, or more to taste
3/4 cup grated sharp cheese like Jarlsberg, Parmesan, Swiss or gruyere – divided

 


 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place cauliflower florets on a microwave-safe plate and cover with wet paper towel. Microwave on high for about four minutes, until crisp-tender.

Place the cauliflower in a single layer into an 8×8 inch baking dish.

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until it makes a bubbly paste.
Gradually add the milk and stir constantly until the sauce becomes thick and creamy. Remove from heat and add salt, pepper, nutmeg and half of the cheese.

Spoon the sauce over the cauliflower florets and sprinkle with remaining cheese

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese sauce is a light golden brown.

Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main dish.

ISPAHAN CAKE ROLL

This is my simpler, lighter take on Pierre Herme’s signature rose, raspberry and lychee yule log known as bûche Ispahan.
 
For the génoise (cake)
2/3 cup sugar
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

For the filling
8 ounces mascarpone
5 ounces fresh raspberries, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon rose water
1 (15-ounce) can lychees in light syrup (or pears in syrup)

For the syrup

Syrup from the can of lychees (or pears)
1 teaspoon rose water
 


 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 8×10 pan with parchment paper.

Beat the sugar with the egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl until frothy. Gently whisk in the flour. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks and fold them into the egg yolk, sugar and flour mixture. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the mascarpone, raspberries, sugar, and rose water in the bowl of a food processor and reduce to a purée. Set aside.

When the cake is cooked, unmold it onto a damp towel, remove the parchment paper and roll the cake immediately with the towel. Let it cool that way, about 20 minutes. Place the lychees (or pears) on a cutting board and dice them. Pour the syrup into a small saucepan, add the rose water and heat it over low heat for about 5 minutes. Unroll the cake and remove the towel. Brush the cake lightly with the syrup, spread half of the raspberry mascarpone inside the cake and top with diced lychees (or pears). Gently roll the cake, cover it with raspberry ricotta and cut off the ends. Garnish with raspberries and refrigerate for an hour before serving.
 
Serves 6 to 8

GOROGONZOLA AND PECAN STUFFED DATES

12 Medjool dates, pitted
4 ounces crumbled gorgonzola or other blue cheese
2 ounces whipped cream cheese
¼ cup chopped pecans
8 basil leaves, chopped

 


 

Delicately clean the dates with a damp paper towel. In a medium bowl, combine the Gorgonzola, whipped cream cheese, pecans and basil leaves. Stuff each date with about a tablespoon of the mixture.

Enjoy as an appetizer, mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. Delicious!

Makes 12

LABNEH RECIPE

Labneh is Middle Eastern strained yogurt cheese. You can make it by simply straining yogurt overnight to rid it of whey and turn it into a thick, creamy spread or dip. You can strain it longer to make thicker fresh cheese that’s firm enough to shape into balls, patties or logs and dredge in herbs, nuts and spices of all kinds.

 


 

Line a sieve or colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a bowl.

Stir some sea salt into Greek-style yogurt (1/4 teaspoon per cup, or to taste). Pour the yogurt into the cheesecloth-lined sieve or colander. Gather up the sides of the cheesecloth, twist tightly and tie with string.

Place in the refrigerator 12 to 24 hours. The longer it strains the firmer it will get.

Drizzle it with olive oil and sumac, sprinkle it with zaatar or top it with fresh fruit and honey. Delicious any way you serve it.

ROASTED RED PEPPER & GOAT CHEESE CHICKPEA SOUP

Roasted red peppers, goat cheese, smoked paprika come together beautifully in this chickpea soup. Taste your soup when it’s done and add more smoked paprika, if you wish to have a smokier flavor.

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 small sweet potato, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 bay leaves
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 (12-oz) jar roasted red peppers, drained (or 2 roasted peppers)
4 ounces soft goat cheese


Place all of the ingredients except the roasted red peppers and goat cheese in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook over gentle heat, 20 to 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.

Add the roasted red peppers and goat cheese. Blend the soup using a stick blender or transfer to a container blender and blend until smoothly pureed.

Serve right away with toasted bread drizzled with olive oil.

Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.

Serves 4 to 6