The Daring Cook’s July Challenge: Nut Butters

Almonds, asian, Basil, Cashews, Chicken, Curry, Daring Kitchen Challenges, Indian, Main Course, Noodles, Rice, Rice Vermicelli, Salad, Sauce, Seafood, Shrimp, Thai

Disney Princess Half Marathon: Ginger Garbanzo and Peppers Salad

Appetizer, Indian, Salad, Thai, Vegetarian

Hi Mati!

I hope that you are feeling better after. your last post.

Well, I am just getting around to writing about my meal last Friday which was a TOTAL success. I got a lot of help from my mom and my aunt that made delicious Salmon and Beef and I took care of the rest.  I really have no idea how working moms do it all. Not that I am a mom or a soon to be mom, but every time I put together an event on a day that I work, I cannot imagine doing the same when children are in the picture.

My weekend was great! Packed and didn’t have much time for resting.  Friday night we had dinner at our place and we  had 13 people over for dinner. Saturday morning we packed the car early and headed towards Orlando with my in-laws for a wedding. That night A dropped me off at the Disney Hotels because I was waking up at 3:00AM on Sunday to ran the half marathon.  Mati, what an amazing accomplishment to finish that race, 13.1 miles running nonstop…well only to take pictures with the different Disney characters.  There were about 13,000 people running, mostly women, there were only 95 men I think.  When I saw the finish line I almost hyperventilated from the excitement. Here are my times and positions:

Francine's Race Times

Then we spent the whole day at Epcot walking and enjoying the beautiful day.

So, what have I been cooking?

Friday I made a yummy Ginger Garbanzo salad with peppers and  a flavorful vegetable curry. I also made Poppy Seed cake for my mom’s birthday and I will post them all separately.

Here are the recipes.

Ginger Garbanzo and Peppers  Salad

I got this recipe about a year ago from the NYTimes- Mark Bittman. Sometimes they have his 4 minute recipe on the front page in the form of a video and I have played with this recipe a lot. I absolutely love it!  And Mark Bittman is great. Take a look at his site: and his site on the NYT.


1 tablespoon cumin seeds or ground cumin

3 cups cooked or canned chickpeas (rinse canned ones)

3 bell peppers, red, yellow, orange, or green; cored, seeded and diced (You can use all colors too)

1 red onion, diced

1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced, or more to taste

1 tablespoon sugar, optional but recommended

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped fresh cilantro leaves.


1. In a dry pan, toast cumin seeds over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Grind to a powder using a spice mill, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. If using ground cumin, lightly toast.

2. In a large bowl, toss all ingredients but cilantro. (You can prepare dish up to this point in advance; let sit for up to 2 hours.)

3. Taste and add more salt, pepper or lemon juice if you like, garnish with cilantro, and serve.

* I did not add the onion because my dad does not like onions much but it adds delicioso flavor to the mix!


Chai inspired Rice Pudding

Dessert, Greek, Indian, Rice

Dear Franoula,

Lately its gotten really cold over here, as a result all I want to do, is stay in bed snuggled up under my comforter… instead of running after the early train in the gray and muddy weather that greets me good morning as soon as I open the door!

Last night, after the gym, I felt really tired and was really craving some warm, creamy, comfort food, to make the cold go away… so I went to the super market to look for corn flour to make the arepas you just posted, because I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I wanted to try those. (I ended up getting cornflour, which in the UK is the equivalent to the US corn starch 😦 ) As I was going towards the cheese section to pick up some feta, my eyes fell on a large container of supermarket brand rice pudding. I instantly rethought of my game plan for the night’s cooking and decided that we could have left overs that night… and instead indulge in a little something sweet and milky!

No matter what brand, no matter what city in the world, there is no packaged brand that can make rice pudding as well as when it is made at home. It is my ultimate favorite home comfort food when my Yiayia or Manoula make it, that is so simple in taste, but so soothing.

As I walked back home, I was thinking about how to make this tasty sweetness even better and so I remembered that Chai Tea also makes me feel warm and fuzzy, and as you very well know I have this obsession with all things Indian…  so i combined the part I enjoyed the most: the warm milk and the spices, took out my least favorite part, the black tea… thus was born… CHAI INSPIRED RICE PUDDING!!


  • 4 cups Milk (1 liter)
  • 1/2 cup (120 gr) pudding rice (shortest grain you can find, even sushi rice)
  • 1 cup (240 gr) water
  • 4 tsp corn flour
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  1. Place rice with water to boil, over medium high heat.
  2. When rice has absorbed the water, add 3 1/2 cups milk, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns, cloves, and ginger. Dissolve the cornflour in the remaining milk.
  3. Stir the mixture slowly but continuously.
  4. When the mixture thickens (and the liquid has decreased by about 1/3), add the remaining milk with cornflour mixture and the vanilla.
  5. Stir until the mixture is thick and resembles a custard. Remove from heat and serve* with cinnamon sprinkled on top.

*I highly recommend eating it hot, as the spices ask to be served warmed, but it is good served cold also.

I am going to find that flour damn it if it is the last thing I do this weekend!!