Tag Archives: tomatoes

Desperately Seeking Sumac

Crusted Fish and Rice Pilaf with Asparagus

Crusted Tilapia and Tomato Pilaf with Asparagus

Soon, I will be off on an adventure in a strange land, eating exotic food and exploring things older than my country.

Dramatic, yes! J and I are off to Turkey, and while there I will be taking in all of the new flavours. In fact, I’ve decided to start early. I bought some sumac, which is used in some Turkish dishes, and I’m ready to explore.

What is sumac like? This sounds kind of silly, but it tasted like smokey fire roasted tomatoes and berries. Weird, no? That’s what I thought of while I was eating it. I think it’s also important to be able to smell it, which is why it’s great to top a dish with it. The smell is at the same time intoxicating and bizarre. Seriously, I can’t think of any other spice that is like this. I think I’m in love.

OK, so I don’t know what constitutes “authentic” Turkish cuisine. Most of the dishes I see include some lamb, which I’m not against trying but will not be preparing any time soon. I’m also not quite ready to make a table full of Turkish mezze. I did a little bit of digging, and found this interesting sounding dish consisting of breadcrumb coated fish and a tomato rice pilaf.

Is it Turkish? Not sure. It sounds inspired by Turkish food, at the very least. It also sounds yummy.


Finally! Fresh, in-season, Ontario asparagus!

I added some local fresh asparagus, and was ready to roll! How was it? I really liked the coating on the fish, and had lots left over (wish I had more fish to coat!). I had to cook the fish a little longer than the recipe called for, but in the end it was cooked perfectly. I thought that there was not enough sumac in the dish – the smell and taste of the sumac got a little lost in the breading. I added some extra to the bread crumb mixture, and ended up sprinkling it all over the rice pilaf.

Intrigued? You can find the recipes I used at the links below. I used tilapia instead of flathead, I used pecans instead of walnuts, I think I doubled the sumac in the coating and I cooked the fish a little longer than suggested… but yeah, really great recipes from a site that I think I will have fun exploring. Check it out!

Recipes from What You Having for Your Tea?

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Adaptation – Seitan Tomato Bredie

Seitan Tomato Bredie

Since I haven’t issued myself a month-long challenge for May, I’m taking on a couple of one-off challenges. This challenge was issued by Nupur, who writes for One Hot Stove. The goal is to find a recipe posted on another blog, and change something major about it and repost, with a link to the original blog post.

This probably isn’t a surprise, but I chose to veggify a meat dish. This dish could also be made gluten-free by using a non-wheat flour to thicken at the end (er, and by not using seitan, which is basically all wheat gluten).

I chose to make a South African Tomao Bredie (stew), which was originally posted by Asha, who writes for Fork Spoon Knife.

The reason I chose this particular recipe is because it is a South African dish that makes use of many spices that I’ve been ignoring lately. This is a very aromatic dish, featuring LOTS of ginger, allspice, cloves, cardamom and peppercorns. YUM! I’ve never tried cooking any South African dishes before, so I thought this would be a great place to start.

Also, the poster wrote about the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books when describing why SHE chose the recipe… while I haven’t read the books, I really enjoyed the TV series on HBO (Miss 97%!). So… yes, I choose recipes for a combination of reasons, some that make sense and some that do not.

I suppose I need to adapt the inspiration for this dish as well, instead of just stealing the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency reference… If I try really hard, I can just imagine Wikus Van De Merwe eating this (before his run-in with the aliens) in Joburg.

District 9 - Wikus Van De Merwe

Wikus Van De Merwe, from the movie District 9

This was a great dish to have on a cool fall day. Yes, I know it is the middle of May — it FEELS LIKE FALL this week! I’m trying really hard not to be angry at the weather man, filtering some of the anger into cooking. Enjoy!

Tomato Bredie

The original recipe can be found at Fork Spoon Knife.

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1 inch chunk of ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp all spice powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Stew Ingredients:

  • 1 lb seitan, cut into 1″ cubes (I used this recipe)
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 4-5 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, or 1/2 tsp ground
  • 4-5 cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 medium onions, diced
  • 1 inch chunk of ginger, minced
  • 2-3 cardamom pods
  • 6 medium tomatoes, diced, divided (4 for the stew, 2 for garnish)
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (although I don’t think the dish needs it… the ginger offers enough heat)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • salt, pepper as needed
  • 3 medium potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour

Aromatic Rice Ingredients:

  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick, or 1/2 tsp ground
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 cracked peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 3C water


  1. THE NIGHT BEFORE: Coat the seitan pieces evenly with the marinade.Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Heat the oil in a deep sauté pan on med-high heat. Toast the cloves, cinnamon, whole peppercorns in the oil until you can smell the spices.
  3. Add the onions and sauté until browned.
  4. Add the seitan, ginger and cardamom and brown the seitan a little bit. Turn the heat down to medium, cover and let simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes, jalapeno, stock, salt and pepper and stir well. Simmer for five more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the potatoes and simmer until they are cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.
  7. While the stew is simmering, prepare the rice:
    1. In a medium pot, heat up 1 tsp of oil. Add the spices, and cook until you start to smell them.
    2. Add the rice and salt, stir thoroughly, and let it toast a little bit (but be careful not to let it burn!)
    3. Add the water, let it come to a boil and reduce to med-low heat. Cover immediately and cook until the rice absorbs all of the water. Fluff with a fork when done.
  8. About 10 minutes into the simmering, add the green pepper.
  9. When the stew is cooked through, melt the butter in a small pan and add the flour to it. Cook for a minute and then add the roux to the stew to thicken.
  10. Once the potatoes are cooked, heat up a small pan on med-low heat to prepare a roux. Melt the butter, and add the flour, stirring constantly until it forms a thin paste. Cook for about a minute.
  11. Add the roux to the stew to thicken. Make sure it all gets incorporated into the stew, leaving no clumps.
  12. Serve over hot aromatic rice and top with some fresh diced tomato. I also added some chopped green onion and diced avocado… not sure if it’s especially authentic, but it added some nice colour and I wanted to use up an avocado.

Leeky Pasta

Leeky Pasta

This dish was inspired by something I had at a restaurant many years ago. I had never had rosemary or leeks in a pasta like this. While often considered ‘fall’ flavours, the combination of the woody rosemary and leeks with the fresh tomatoes and light olive oil sauce is really interesting. Topping it off is some crumbled chèvre that melts into the hot pasta. This dish is best when you can get fresh local tomatoes.

This is an olive oil sauce, the flavour of which is balanced with salt. This is more salt than I usually add to a dish, but it is actually important.

Since I usually make this dish from the top of my head, I decided to try to flesh out an actual recipe. I laugh at myself, because I actually bought too few tomatoes for the dish. Had I figured out a recipe years ago, I would have known how much to get. I also had a hard time guesstimating how much pasta to make. I found this neat page, on the Barilla website, to help you figure out how much pasta to cook (based on a 2oz serving size). In the end, I just estimated based on the amount in the package – I used half of a 900g package, so it’s just about a pound of dried pasta (or a 6-inch bunch, when you measure the circumference).

This recipe will feed 4-6.


  • 1LB Fettuccine or Linguine
  • 3-5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp chopped shallot or onion
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh garlic (appx 1-2 cloves)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped (plus some for garnish, optional)
  • 2-3 cup chopped mushrooms
  • appx 3 tbsp white wine
  • 1 medium leek, green part separated from white, halved and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1LB cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • appx 4 Tbsp chèvre (goat cheese)
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • pepper, to taste


  1. Cook pasta in a large pot. Drain, toss with 1 Tbsp of olive oil, and keep hot (this is important).
  2. In the meantime, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a deep sauté pan, or large sauce pan. Sauté shallot/onion until translucent, for approximately 1 minute.
  3. Add garlic, rosemary, and mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms reduce in size and begin to brown.
  4. Add the white part of the leek, and saute for another minute or two. Add a couple of tablespoons of the pasta cooking water, if it’s looking dry.
  5. Add the tomatoes, and about 1/2 of the green part of the leeks.
  6. Add the rest of the olive oil, the salt and stir.
  7. Add the pasta and toss.
  8. Serve hot, topping each plate with some crumbled chèvre, freshly ground black pepper, and some of the green leek.

Daring (New) Brunswick Stew

(New) Brunswick Stew

The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

I opted to make a variation on the first recipe given. I usually don’t eat meat, so this dish posed quite a challenge for me. I think there were three or four different kinds of meat in the recipe… I replaced all of the meat with shrimps and seitan, the broth with a vegetable/shrimp broth. Since this likely changed the flavour quite a bit, I’ve jokingly labelled my variation of the recipe (New) Brunswick Stew. Any Canadians reading this will get the New Brunswick/seafood reference… right? (I’m sure there is nothing specifically New Brunswick about it. I just wanted a cute title).

I started by making a broth, which I based on one I got from a Seafood Gumbo recipe I plan to try eventually. I also had to make some seitan, a vegetarian meat substitute made with wheat gluten (sorry, GF folks!). Both of these things added to the cooking time, since I had to make them from scratch.

Next, I fried up some chile peppers. I got some fun dried chiles called Chilhuacle Negro that have a medium heat (5/10). I’m pretty new to chiles, so I didn’t want to get any that were too hot. That said, I should have kept some of the seeds in for a little more heat. This was where the excitement starts – the smell of the peppers and the oil in the pan are heavenly!

Chilhuacle Negro

Chilhuacle Negro

Here is what the stew looked like in the early stages – the seitan is still in large chunks (to be sliced into thin strips in a later stage). While the broth started off looking quite red (from the chile peppers and the smoked paprika), it mellowed into a nice warm golden colour by the end.

(New) Brunswick Stew - in progress

(New) Brunswick Stew – in progress

Here is the final product, and the shot that everyone on Daring Cooks seems to be doing – the standing spoon shot. This came from the original recipe. To describe the texture of the finished stew, they said that Brunswick stew is not done properly “until the paddle stands up in the middle.”. Everyone has been doing their version of this shot, so I felt obliged to do the same. It was a hearty hearty stew, but the broth was not too thick and gloopy.

(New) Brunswick Stew - Standing Spoon

(New) Brunswick Stew – Standing Spoon

In the end, the stew turned out great! It was a bit of a challenge deciding what to use instead of meat, but I think the seitan worked wonderfully! This is definitely something I wouldn’t have known to seek out, and there’s no doubt I’ll be making this again.

Recipe after the jump.

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