Thursday, April 30, 2009

Beltain Baked Shrimp Dip

This recipe started out as an enchilada recipe, but I decided it would be better as a baked dip, served with corn tortilla chips. The corn is a representation of the Corn Mother (fertility), and the recipe also includes garlic, onions, and chiles, all spicy foods that increase passion. Perfect for Beltain!

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or a combination of Jack and Cheddar), plus 1/3 cup for the top
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 cup cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp, cut into small pieces
1 small can chopped green chiles
1/3 cup chopped green or red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced fine
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 can green chile enchilada sauce (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

corn tortilla chips (I like to use blue corn, but any kind will do)

In a medium bowl, gently combine all the ingredients except the enchilada sauce and extra cheese. Place dip in a small baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the dip into the baking dish.

Bake dip at 350 F until it starts to bubble. Top with the enchilada sauce (if using), and the rest of the cheese. Bake until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips. Serve with some sangria or a margarita or two as well!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cold-kicking garlic soup

By now we all know about the properties of garlic, both magical and medicinal. This simple soup can be used as the first course in a meal for your lover (garlic promotes lust and enflames the passions), or it can be used to help you kick a nasty cold. I have a chest cold right now and wanted something to help promote healing. I looked up some garlic soup recipes on the internet and found some tasty-sounding options, but in the end I decided to invent my own.

4 tablespoons red lentils
2 tablespoons rice
1 litre water
1 stock cube (you can use stock instead of water and skip the cube, but that's what I had)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
15-20 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
seasoning to taste

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a soup pot. Add the roughly chopped garlic and allow it to cook on medium-low heat until it becomes fragrant. Don't let it brown or it will become bitter. Add the red pepper flakes and stir. Add the lentils, rice, and stock or water and stock cube. Cover and simmer until lentils and rice are tender.

In a blender, scoop out the lentils, rice and garlic. Add enough of the liquid to make a creamy puree. Return to the soup pot and adjust the seasning.

Cooking the garlic in oil and then simmering it removes its pungency and leaves a delicate flavor. No strong garlic breath!

Feel better :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I am in the land of chickpeas and lentils. Besides being tasty, these two legumes pack quite a nutritional punch. They are full of protein and fiber and have little or no fat. Red lentils also cook down nicely, making them an ideal food for those of us who aren't quite ready for solids yet. I had surgery a couple of weeks ago and am still consuming a mostly liquid diet, but I have added these tasty little orange-red gems into my diet because they are soft and nutritious.

"Humus" means "chickpea" in Arabic, so while other recipes may carry the name "hummus", they aren't exactly. Whatever you call it, though, these dips are delicious and versatile, and perfect for parties. When I make hummus or another version of this spread, I make it the same way. Tonight I am making red lentil "hummus" because I don't have any canned chickpeas. I have a bag of dried garbanzos, but they take for-ev-er to soak and cook, so I'm going with the kirmizi mercimek instead.

Whatever you use, here's a simple recipe that is very flavorful:

1 cup dried red lentils (or 1 can garbanzos/chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste, available in speciality stores, health food stores, or sometimes in the Jewish food section of the grocery store) (use less with the lentils)
2 Tbsp olive oil (use less with the lentils)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
pinch or two of cayenne
1/2 tsp cumin
salt to taste

If using the red lentils, cook until very soft. Drain of excess moisture and allow to cool.

Place the legumes in a food processor and pulse until pulverized. Add garlic, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and spices. Combine in the food processor until smooth. You may need to add a bit of water or a bit of vegetable broth in order to acheive a smooth, creamy consistency. I usually add a bit of water. You will not need any extra liquid if using the red lentils. You only need some extra liquid when pureeing the larger, harder chickpea.

Place in a bowl or on a platter and chill. Before serving, drizzle with a little more olive oil and garnish with small, whole black olives. You can also sprinkle on a little paprika for color, or add some chopped parsley. Or both! Oh, the red lentil spread is so, so delicious!

*** Legumes and sesame seeds are often used in spells for prosperity, as has parsley. This is an excellent dish for some prosperity magic.***

A nice accompaniment to the hummus is simply 1 cup of yogurt combined with a few spoonfuls of freshly chopped dill. Add salt to taste.

Make a layered dip with the hummus and yogurt/dill dip with chunks of cucumber and tomato in between. If you add the olives, make sure you pit them first. Rejoice in spring and know that summer is on its way!