Let’s Get Cooking!

After taking a break for the holidays, I’m excited to get back to cooking! I have now returned to my new home (Bangkok, Thailand), where I will be taking my second course on French Cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu – Dusit Thani Culinary School. My new classes start in a few days. In the weeks to come I will be highlighting the dishes made and some of the techniques I learn in class. After a 3-month break, let’s hope I have not forgotten everything I learned in the first class, Basic French Cuisine. I am looking forward to the second class, Intermediate French Cuisine.

The view of theBangkok skyline at night from a rooftop bar on the 32nd floor.

The view of the Bangkok skyline at night from a rooftop bar at the 32nd floor Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit.

As luck would have it, on my second night back in town, I happened to dine at a local roof top bar that served French cuisine.

The open concept French kitchen of L'Appart at the 32nd floor Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit.

The open concept French kitchen of L’Appart at the 32nd floor Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit.

Here I had a trio of tartar’s (Wygu Beef, Scallop & Tuna) that were served inside a small tuille cone. They were delicious!

A trio of Wygu Beef, Scallop & Tuna tartar served inside small tuille cones at Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit were delicious!

A trio of Wygu Beef, Scallop & Tuna tartar served inside a small tuille cone at a roof top bar in Bangkok were delicious!

Homemade Chickpea Vegetarian Salad

In the meantime, for a recent weeknight dinner, I wanted to recreate a vegetarian bean salad that was inspired by a dish I saw on the Food Network this past December by Damaris Phillips, host of Southern At Heart. She used dried black-eyed peas, a very Southern ingredient; unfortunately, here in Bangkok, I was unable to successfully find black-eyed peas so I used the next best thing: dried chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans). I have found these to be a versatile pantry staple.

The finished homemade dish served with coconut-curry squash soup and grilled brats with caramelized onions.

The finished homemade dish served with coconut-curry squash soup and grilled brats with caramelized onions.

Here is the original recipe (found on the Food Network’s website):

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and shredded
  • 3 green onions, light and dark green parts sliced on the bias, whites reserved for another use
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Directions

The night before, pick over the peas and discard any stones. Place in a large pot or bowl, cover with water and let soak overnight. Drain and rinse.

Combine the peas, bay leaf, cumin and 3 cups water in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a rapid simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. If the water gets low, add more to just cover the peas. Strain the peas and remove the bay leaf.

Combine the cooked peas and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Let stand while you fry the olives.

Heat the oil in a medium cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the olives and cook until fragrant and the outsides blister, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour the olives and oil over the peas. Add the parsley, parsnip, green onions and lemon juice and toss to combine. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Here are my changes to this homemade dish:

  • I substituted 1 cup of dried chickpeas for the black-eyed peas; I soaked them overnight, as directed, then cooked 25-30 minutes.
  • I also added:
    • ½ cup grated carrots
    • ¼ cup diced sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil
    • 1 Tablespoon fresh garlic, chopped
    • 1 red chili, minced (optional)
  • I used kalamata olives packed in oil and garlic, instead of pre-packaged brined olives, only because I was unable to find the ones sold in a jar. I found this flavorful oil added a nice zip to the cold salad. I also chopped the garlic fine that had been included in the oil from the olive bar.
Cooked chickpeas for the homemade vegetarian salad.

Cooked chickpeas for the homemade vegetarian salad.

Chopped ingredients for the homemade bean salad: green onions, fresh parsley, shredded carrots, shredded parsnip, fried kalamata olives and sun dried tomatoes.

Chopped ingredients for the homemade bean salad: green onions, fresh parsley, shredded carrots, shredded parsnip, fried kalamata olives and sun dried tomatoes.

What types of ingredients do you like in your homemade salad? Let me know on Facebook, Twitter, Google + or any of my other social media accounts!

Mary Hathaway, Owner of Dinner Diva, has been a personal chef since 2002. She cooks regularly for clients who have special dietary needs, value healthy cooking by using organic products where possible and those who want healthy family meals but have no time to cook. Whether it’s a dinner for 4, a holiday party for 20, or a set of meals for the week, all of the recipes are customized to her client’s needs or lifestyle. Go to: Dinner-Diva.com for more info.