Foodie Hotties #3: Padme Lakshmi

An author, an actress, a model, a businesswoman and an amazing cook.   This is Padme Lakshmi who easily makes it on the Kitchen Bachelor Foodie Hotties List.  Padme is an Indian American that you’ll probably recognize from Top Chef, the cooking show on Bravo where she stars alongside celebrity Chef Tom Colicchio.

Chocolate anyone?

Padme’s exotic look was first discovered when she was 16 by a modeling agent while at a cafe in Spain.  She’s since gone on to grace many magazine covers and international runways, take on films like Mistress of Spices (with Aishwarya Rai), published a couple cook books and now taking on Top Chef hosting honours.

You can find out more about this Foodie Hottie at her official website (I highly recommend checking out the Downloads and Photos links – no reason really).

View the other nominated Foodie Hotties under the “Celebrity Chefs” category.

Kitchen Bachelor does Chambar Shanks & Couscous

My favourite restaurant in Vancouver is none other than Chambar – the Belgian restaurant on Beatty street.  They have a great wine list, Belgian beers, moules frites and Nico Shuermans – a 3 Michelin-starred chef.

A friend from work recently mentioned that Chambar’s Moroccan Lamb Shanks recipe was surprisingly profiled on the 24 hours newspaper.  Many of the dishes at Chambar have an exotic twist, given that Chef Nico was schooled by a Moroccan chef.  I love this dish and decided to throw a dinner party for a few special friends.

It turned out amazingly well – with scrumptious flavours and exotic scents that permeated my apartment for a good 2 days!

Here’s the recipe – a slight variation from what was posted on the 24 hours newspaper.  Double up the ingredients if you’re going to go through the effort – make some friends, invite some neighbours.

Difficulty rating: 4 out of 5
Serves: 2

Shanks

2 – 1 lb lamb shanks (about 1.5 inches thick)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed or ground
50 g red onion, diced
40 g fresh ginger, minced
30 g tumeric
2 garlic cloves, minced
100 ml honey
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups of white wine
2 cups of stock (I used veal stock)
Pinch of crushed chilles
Salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Clean, dry, salt and pepper the shanks
3. Heat vegetable oil in a stainless steel pot – medium high
4. Brown meat on both sides, then remove temporarily
5. Reduce heat to medium low
6. Add onions first (sautee), then garlic, ginger (sautee some more)
7. Add stock, wine, honey and other spices
8. Bring shanks back to the pot
9. Liquid level should come to halfway up the meat – this is the key to braising this meat over low heat
10. Cover the pot and put it in the oven for 3 hours – flip the lamb every hour

Couscous

100 mg couscous
160 ml water
1 tbsp sliced almonds
2 tbsp dried apricots, cut into strips (I used prunes)
2 tbsp raisins
2 tsp tumeric
2 tsp green onion, sliced
2 tsp mint chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

Directions:

1. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan
2. Add the couscous, salt, olive oil and tumeric and mix well
3. Take the couscous off the heat and cover for 5 minutes
4. Use a fork to fluff the couscous and stir in the rest of the ingredients

That’s it!  It takes a bit of planning to get this dish ready, but once it’s prepped, most of the time is really just waiting for the lamb to get super tender in the oven.  I would love to hear your experiences if you do try this great “dish for the soul”!

Egyptian Lentil Soup with Spinach and Pasta

Like most conversations with massage therapists, mine was telling me about this amazing bowl of Egyptian Lentil Soup she sampled from a previous client.   What?  You don’t speak to your therapist about soup?

Not to be outdone, I decided I’d give it the college try and look up some recipes online.  I’ve actually never used lentils before, but it was simple enough to follow directions.  Coincidentally I recently watched Cairo Time, a Canadian-made film with movie-club “First Weekend Club“, which had brilliant cinematography showcasing the cultural differences, bustle and madness that is Cairo.  Check it out if you get a chance to.

For my first attempt at this soup, I think I did alright, and got some kudos from my therapist.  In her words, it was “even better than the one I had before”.  Yes! Mission accomplished!

Here’s the recipe:

Difficulty rating: 2 out of 5
Serves: 6

1 1/2 cups of green lentils
7 cups of chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 cups of spinach
2 medium onions, sliced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 cup of small pasta (I used Arborio rice; you can use broken vermicelli, large orzo)
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
Cilantro and fried shallots (optional)

Directions:

1. Wash lentils well and drain
2. Heat oil in a pot
3. Saute onions, then garlic
4. Add lentils and cumin, coriander, salt, pepper
5. Add stock and lemon juice and bring to a boil
6. Bring heat down and simmer for 15 minutes
7. Add pasta and spinach and simmer for another 20 minutes or so (you can add more stock, or simmer for longer depending on the consistency you want)
8. Garnish with cilantro or fried shallots

Enjoy your soup while watching Cairo Time! Perfect!