Soups, Stews, Dips & Sauces


2 eggplants, halved lengthwise
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
juice of one lemon
2-3 tablespoons tahina
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Place eggplant in baking pan, drizzle with olive oil and put under broiler until browned and cooked. Cool enough to handle with fingers.

Scoop out the insides, seeds and all, and put in a large bowl. Using a handheld (or regular, I find the Betty Crocker handheld deal works better, though) blender, mix all ingredients into the eggplant until smooth. Let cool in refrigerator. (my husband will eat it microwaved on a plate with the rest of his food)

Put in shallow bowl and garnish with chopped parsley and kalamata olives. Serve with warm pita bread.

NOTE: It is possible to blend the eggplant with the skins on (cut up in pieces first) with good results. If you plan on using the skins, do not cut the eggplants before roasting, just prick the skin all over and follow the directions.


1 pound extra lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 15-oz can chili beans with tomatoes
1 14-oz can Mexican style tomatoes
1 8-oz can tomato sauce

Brown ground beef, onion, peppers and garlic in saucepan over medium heat. You may wish to drain the meat, but as I use extra lean to leanest meat, I keep the fat to cook the vegetables.

Combine all other ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes.


2 avocados, peeled, pitted and mashed with a fork, reserve one pit
4 tablespoons salsa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 scallions, chopped
juice of one lime

Combine all ingredients except reserved pit. Place pit in center of bowl to preserve dip.


15 dried red chiles
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coriander seed, toasted
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted
4 - 6 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to cover the finished paste
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Stem and seed the chiles, rinse and drain and tear them up. Cover the chiles with boiling water and let them soak for 1 hour. Drain in a colander, scrape them into a blender.

Chop the garlic on a board with the salt until fine. Add to the chiles.

Grind the toasted coriander and cumin seed together in a spice mill (or coffee grinder dedicated to spices) and add the powder to the chiles. Add 4 tablespoons olive oil and run blender until you have a puree, scraping down the side of the container often and adding more oil if it is needed to make a paste. Tough bits of skin may remain in the puree; if so, push it through a strainer.

Check the balance of flavors and add the cayenne. Scrape harissa into a clean jar, cover surface with additional olive oil, cap it tightly, and refrigerate it for storage. After spooning harissa from the jar, be sure the remaining paste is completely covered with a layer of oil to seal out air.

As a table sauce, thin with lemon juice and olive oil to taste and consistency desired.

This recipe is modified from both my mother's recipe and a recipe from The Good Stuff Cookbook by Helen Witty.


1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, drained, 1 tablespoon liquid and 4 beans reserved or equal amount of cooked and peeled garbanzo beans
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons tahina
juice of one lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
olive oil

In either a blender or a medium bowl with a hand held blender, combine all ingredients except reserved beans, extra olive oil and paprika. Blend until smooth.

Place in shallow bowl and garnish with reserved garbanzo beans, olive oil and paprika sprinkled on top. Serve with warm pita bread.


1/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup cottage cheese
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
4 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

In food processor or blender, combine buttermilk, cottage cheese, parmesan, vinegar and garlic. Blend until smooth. Stir in pepper.

Can be made and stored, covered in refrigerator for up to 2 days.


Make this a day ahead for the best flavor.

3 pork steaks
1 cup brandy
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
1/2 cup brandy
2 14 1/2-ounce cans diced tomatoes with roasted garlic in juice
1 red pepper, diced
3 15-ounce cans Great Northern beans, drained, liquid reserved
1 cup dried baby lima beans, cooked
1 cup (or more) homemade or canned chicken broth
1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups diced garlic bread
1 pound tomatoes, seeded, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Marinate pork steaks in brandy, oregano, garlic, lemon juice and pepper. Broil pork steaks for 10-15 minutes. Remove, debone and cube, set aside.

Heat olive oil in soup pot. Add leeks and garlic to same pot. Saute until beginning to soften, about 8 minutes. Mix in rosemary and sage. Add brandy and simmer until almost evaporated, about 5 minutes. Mix in canned tomatoes with juices, canned beans with 1/2 cup reserved liquid, lima beans, 1 cup broth, tomato sauce and cloves. Add pork. Season with pepper.

Bring cassoulet to boil. Cover pot and reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes.

(Can be made up to 2 days ahead. Uncover; cool 1 hour. Refrigerate until cold; cover and keep refrigerated. Before continuing, warm in covered pot in 350F. oven 40 minutes, adding more broth if dry.)

Heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add bread and saute until golden brown, stirring often, about 25 minutes. Combine fresh tomatoes, red pepper and parsley in large bowl. Spoon onto warm cassoulet. Top with toasted bread.

Serves 8 to 10.

Modified from a recipe from Bon Appetit March 1999


6-8 medium tomatoes, chopped
4-5 jalapeno chiles, diced (seeded and deveined for less heat)
1 large red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
juice of one lime

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together. Let rest for at least one hour for flavors to blend.


1 pound split peas
1 1/2 pounds bone-in ham (go for those cheap hams at the supermarket or leftovers)
2 carrots, scraped and diced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced, with leaves
1 large onion, finely chopped
8 cups water or broth, to cover
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Put all ingredients in large crock pot. Simmer on low, covered for at least 6 hours. Best if put on before going to bed and letting cook until lunch time.

When soup is cooked through, remove ham. Take meat off bones and tear into bite-sized pieces. Put meat back into soup and let simmer until it is time to serve. Remove bay leaves and ladle into bowls. Great with corn bread.