Thursday, December 13, 2012

Baked Apples


Our crisper is still gloriously filled with apples varietals from late fall CSA deliveries.  I love that these little guys last so long. Months, in fact, if stored in the crisper with a moist towel on top.

While I love a good tart and never turn down a crisp, in the spirit of simple and slow eating, I wanted to share a recipe that all but keeps the apple in tact. Truthfully, a recipe is barely needed to bake apples. Core, stuff, butter and bake... So perhaps use this as a launching pad for your own masterpiece. When company is over, as it was above, I add a dollop of ice cream.

Baked Apples
Ingredients
For every apple you will bake:
  • 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon of honey or maple syrup
  • 1 dash of nutmeg
  • 1 dash of cinnamon
  • 1 dash of cloves
  • Water
Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Carefully core the apples 3/4th of the way, leaving the bottom in tact. I use a paring knife in a circular motion, then scoop with a narrow spoon
  • Mix the nuts, honey and spices in a bowl and then scoop into each cored apple and top with a butter pad
  • Arrange the apples in a baking dish and full with 1 inch of water
  • Bake for 40 - 50 minutes, until tender
Baked Apples
Baked Apples

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Coq Au Vin


Growing up, we had a new Au Pair every year.  All hailed from Western European countries like Spain, France and German, and many from the UK.  While it meant we had a new stranger across the hall each September, it worked well for our family and was wonderful exposure to different cultures.

A lot of my food memories thus revolve around the Au Pair of the year.  There was the year of the quiche, or as we fondly retell it at the Christmas table (said in your WORST French-English accent), "Tonight, I make a quiche." It was that same Au Pair who made a wonderful mussel dish, my first introduction to the briny, special occasion steamed feast, and a Buche du Noel at Christmas.  From the Brits we had many a Shepherd's Pie, and I still maintain that first Sue's was the best. Two British Au Pairs named Sue with rivaling Shepard's Pie recipes...

While it was various Au Pairs who introduced me to many comforts of French cuisine, like croque monsieur, quiche and toast dipped in Chocolat Chaud for breakfast, it was my father who introduced me to the French stews. Coq au Vin being his specialty.

When I asked him for his recipe, I learned it has evolved over the years.  At first, I was slightly disappointed to find out there was no tried-and-true, passed through the generations recipe.  Then I realized I hadn't noticed the difference in recent batches so why be disappointed.  His most recent recipe edits are that he no longer scorches the meat in cognac, "it didn't seem to do much", and he added leeks from a Quebecois recipe.

The final version, after I added in a wee bit of chicken stock, is a rich, fall apart with your fork stew. The recipe seems just right, and I won't be tinkering it any further. The veg all meld together into silky goodness and plopped on top of cous cous or brown rice, we lap it up in mere minutes.  Bon Appetit!

Coq au Vin
Ingredients
  • 4 lbs of chicken thighs or a whole stewing chicken pre-cut into serving pieces
  • 10-12 pearl onions, peeled
  • 2 leeks, washed and diced
  • 1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2 - 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 cloves of thinly sliced garlic
  • Bouquet Garni: 2 stalks of celery, Bay leaves, two to three sprigs of fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme and/or parsley) and butchers twine
  • 1 bottle of Pinot Noir
  • Butter
  • Flour, salt and pepper for dredging
Directions
  • Dredge the chicken pieces in flour, pepper and salt
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a 3 qt + dutch oven over medium low heat
  • Brown the chicken pieces on all sides, remove to a plate
  • Add the onions, carrots and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, mixing frequently, turn off when finished
  • In a small pan, saute the leeks and mushrooms in butter for 3-5 minutes, deglaze with the chicken stock and cook another 2 minutes
  • Make the Bouquet Garni by cutting the celery in half, putting the bay leaves and herb sprigs in between, covering up with another piece of celery, and tying together into a bundle with the butcher's twine
  • Add the chicken back to the dutch oven, place the Bouquet Garni in the pot, toss in the leek/stock/mushroom mixture, and cover with the bottle of wine
  •  Cook, covered, in the oven at 350 degrees, 2.5 - 3.5 hours
Bouquet Garni

Bouquet Garni

Coq Au Vin pre-oven

Coq Au Vin


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Leeks Vinaigrette

Leeks
If I am home alone for lunch or dinner, I often turn to this addictive recipe for leeks vinaigrette.  It has everything I love in a recipe: Ease, bold flavors and a focus on the main vegetable.  I'll often prepare it and lap up the entire pan myself in one sitting.  But don't be fooled by my gluttony, it serves as a great side-dish to grilled white fish, roasted chicken or even a quiche at brunch.  Since it can be enjoyed warm or at room temp, it's perfectly versatile. 

It is a messy dish, bright and bold in your mouth but all slopped together on your plate, and that's a large part of the charm.

If you are anything like me, when you read Molly of Orangette's blog-post, you'll wish that it had been you living in Paris, and that it was your host mother preparing the original dish.

Note about cleaning: If you cook with leeks ever, the recipe below includes leek cleaning instructions that were kitchen-changing for me.

Leeks Vinaigrette
Courtesy of Orangette 
Ingredients 
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp. salt, or more to taste
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small to medium shallot, minced
  • 2 lb. small leeks (about 7 or 8) 
  • Optional garnish: Finely chopped bacon or finely chopped hard-boiled egg
Directions
  • In a small bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar with the mustard and salt. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Taste and add the remaining vinegar if  it needs it. Mix in the shallots and set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and salt it REALLY well. The key, as Molly puts it, is that it should taste like sea water.
  • While the water comes to a boil, trim off almost the entire root of the leek keeping the stalk in tact. Remove the dark green leafy parts, leaving just white and pale green parts. 
  • Next, for the best leek cleaning trick ever, I've copy and pasted exactly from Molly : "Starting about 1 inch from the root end, so as to keep the white part intact, cut lengthwise down the middle of the leek. Wash the leeks well under running water, flushing any dirt from between the layers." 
  • Add the leeks to the boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes until they are nearly falling apart. 
  • Drain the leeks well, transfer them to a clean kitchen towel or paper towels on the counter and blot dry. 
  • While still hot toss them with a generous amount of the dressing.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature, with more dressing spooned on top and a pinch or two of salt. For a fuller meal, garnish with bacon and/or chopped egg.
leeks vinaigrette

Monday, November 19, 2012

Soba Noodles with Kale & Walnuts

Every home cook should have a few "deceptively simple" recipes in their arsenal and this one should become one of yours.  It may not photograph terribly well, but sure is delicious and it is super, and I mean SUPER, simple to make.

Hearty and rich kale. Walnuts for depth and protein. Soba noodles as a lovely nutty alternative to regular pasta. Cayenne and cheese together? Yes please. 

Soba Noodles with Kale & Walnuts
Ingredients
Serves two
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 6 oz of soba noodles
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Olive Oil or Peanut Oil
Directions
  • Bring two pots of salted water to boil, a large and a small
  • Add kale to the small pot, cook for 5 minutes, and drain
  • Meanwhile, cook the soba noodles according to package, and drain keeping 1 cup of the cooking water
  • Toss noodles with 1 tablespoon oil
  • In a frying pan, saute chopped walnut in oil until golden (2-3 minutes)
  • Add kale, walnuts, salt, pepper, pinch of cayenne, noodles and 1/4 cup of cooking water to the pan. Turn off heat, stir and add more cooking water if needed. Top with a very generous amount of Parmesan cheese

About Soba Noodles
This Japanese noodles are made of buckwheat flour and can be served warm or cold. Soba noodles, which can be purchased in dried form, are a healthier alternative to white-flour pasta as they contain almost half the calories and a good for you vitamins and minerals such as the essential amino acid lysine, copper and rutin.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Turkey Chili

Turkey Chili Ingredients

Here in the Northeast, it has certainly been a horrific few weeks with Mother Nature. Thankfully, we were all but spared minus a downed tree and a few evenings of rolling power outages.

All the talk of electricity, lack of heat and Nor'easter snow meant only one thing--it was time to cook and share my chili recipe!  That stick-to-your-insides, flavor-packed one pot meal that gets better each day it melds in your fridge.

This was one of my first real recipes. I pulled it together almost 15 years ago (gulp!) when I was living in Boston and wanted to enter my company chili contest.  As luck would have it, I won!  So, for fun, let's call this my "award-winning" turkey chili.

We top ours off greek yogurt, scallions and sometimes salsa.  Enjoy!

Turkey Chili
Ingredients
  • 6 pieces of turkey or regular bacon
  • 2 lbs of ground turkey meat
  • 3 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 can of white beans, rinsed in a colander
  • 1 can of kidney beans, rinsed in a colander
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 2 large (16 oz) cans of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon of thai chili paste
  • 1/2 - 4 tablespoons of Sirachi or hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup of beer
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • Greek yogurt/sour cream and chopped scallions for topping
Directions
  • In a large pot, brown the bacon over medium heat until it almost burns.  Remove from the pot, and let dry on a paper towel. 
  • Drain 3/4 of the leftover fat from the pan if using regular bacon.
  • Add the ground turkey to the fat in the pan, and brown breaking into small pieces with the back of a spoon.  When the turkey is almost cooked through, add the beer, garlic and onions and cook for 3-5 minutes. 
  • Add the chili powder, cumin, green pepper and celery to the pot and cook for another few minutes. 
  • Add all remaining ingredients except the sirachi/hot sauce, i.e. the two cans of rinsed beans, one can of tomato paste, two cans of diced tomatoes, nutmeg, thai chili paste, red wine and well crumbled bacon and mix well.
  • Let simmer on low for 10-15 minutes, taste and add 1/2 to 4 tablespoons of sirachi depnding on your heat preference.  I typically add, then taste, add then taste.
  • Simmer for at least another 20 minutes, 45 minutes ideally. 
  • Top with greek yogurt or sour cream and enjoy!
Onion for turkey chili

beans for turkey chili
turkey chili

Friday, November 2, 2012

Homemade Celery Salt


I am working my way through possible holiday gift projects.  Last year, I doled out homemade Baileys/Irish Cream, which was festive if slightly ironic considering I was pregnant and unable to enjoy it!  Previous years I've made salad dressing, flavored olive oils and homemade body scrubs. It is fun.

With two weeks of CSA celery stalks teetering towards wilt in my crisper, and the following recipe in my inbox, it was time for celery salt.  So easy to make, even easier to enjoy.  Perfect on fish, in a salad, topping soup and, my latest obsession, over scrambled eggs. 

This may just make the Holiday 2012 cut!  Do you have a go-to homemade gift? I'd love to hear about it below.

Homemade Celery Salt
Courtesy of 101 Cookbooks, a favorite food blog
Prep time: 5 min - Cook time: 7 min
Ingredients
  • Leaves from one bunch of celery
  • Flaky sea salt (Maldon sea salt is recommended)
Directions
  • Pick all the leaves from the celery stalk, leaving stems behind.
  • Rinse the leaves with cold water and then shake off as much water as you can. Gently pat them dry in a clean dish towel, or with paper towels ensuring they are as dry as possible. 
  • Arrange the leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet, then roast in a 350F / 180C oven for about 5-7 minutes. Bake until dehydrated and crispy, but not browned.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Once cool, use your fingers to crumble the leaves completely, discarding any leaves that aren't crispy.
  • Combine equal parts celery leaves and salt in a jar, and shake to distribute the celery leaves evenly. Voila.


 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Happy Food Day!


#FoodDay www.foodday.org


Today is Food Day, a nationwide celebration and movement for healthy, affordable and sustainable food spearheaded by the one and only Jamie Oliver.  Love this guy and all that he does to improve food for kids and adults everywhere!

How can you celebrate Food Day? 
  • Take the #EatReal quiz to see how your eating habits stack up
  • Check out the Food Day recipes cards and cookbooks, with delicious creations from chefs like Dan Barber & Rick Bayless
  • Enjoy a healthy, home-cooked meal using fresh, local ingredients
We are having friends over for a mid-week dinner of roasted broccoli and shrimp, (a great recipe I promise to post soon) and another rustic apple tart as we eat our way through that bushel of local apples. 

What will you eat tonight?  Do share! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Rustic Apple Tart


Apple in wood bowl
Here are four good reasons why you should bake this apple tart: 
  1. It's a recipe from the charming new kitchen memoir, My Berlin Kitchen, written by a favorite food blogger and loose acquaintance.
  2. There is something perfectly fall-like about a bubbling, baked apple dessert.  
  3. It's free form, making it a pleasant, less fussy alternative to the traditional pie.  
  4. If your fridge looks anything like ours, below, it uses up a bunch of apples. And this photo was taken AFTER I baked!
Apples in fridge

So get peeling! I promise your just sweet enough tooth will thank you.

Rustic Apple Tart
Courtesy of The Wednesday Chef
Ingredients
Dough
  • 1 cup all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes  
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons of cold water
Filling
  • 2 pounds of apples, peeled, cored and sliced (do not through out scraps) 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons sugar, depending on your sweet tooth
Glaze
  • Apple scraps
  • 1/2 cup sugar
Tools
  • Rolling pin
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Plastic wrap
  • Pastry brush OR paper towel
Directions
  • Put the flour, sugar, salt and butter cubes for the dough in a food processor bowl.  Pulse a few times, until the butter is broken up into lima bean size pieces
  • Drizzle in the cold water one tablespoon at a time, processing or mixing as you go until the dough just holds.  You may need more or less water depending on your climate
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and quickly gather into a 4-inch-wide disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a floured work surface again.  Remove the dough from the fridge, and roll it out (turning over if you like) until its about 14 inches round.  Since it will be a rustic tart, an ovalish shape is fine
  • Place the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Crowd as many apples as you can in concentric circles over the dough, leaving a 2 inch border. Fold the dough over the edges of the apples, leaving an open middle
  • With a pastry brush or folded up paper towel, brush the butter over the apples and exposed upper crust. Top with a little sugar
  • Slide into the oven on the center rack, and bake for 45 minutes, rotating halfway through
  • Meanwhile, start the glaze by dumping the apple cores, peels, sugar and any leftover apple chunks in a sauce pan. Add water until the apple bits are just covered. Bring to a boil and cook for up to 30 minutes.  Strain the liquid, discarding the trimmings.  Return the liquid to the pan, and reduce until syrupy.  About 10-15 minutes
  • When the tart is finished, pull off the parchment paper and let cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Brush the glaze over the apples and enjoy warm or at room temperature
unsalted butter

Dough in mixer

Rustic Tart Pastry Dough

Apple Peels and Cores simmering
Apple Glaze

Rustic Apple Tart

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Stephen Ritz: A teacher growing green in the South Bronx

One of the most inspirational videos I have ever seen. Please watch this amazing Ted Talk by Stephen Ritz as he shares how he is revolutionizing the idea of local food at a South Bronx school. I just adore it. Go Green Bronx Machine!

Check them out on Facebook and Twitter to learn more.

For more #local food and vegetables news like this, feel free to follow my twitter handle @laurenlocally.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

September Foodie Pen Pal



















After a month hiatus, I am back as a foodie pen pal.  I was a little disappointed in myself because the box I put together for my own pen pal was a tad lack luster. I had roasted up some of Uncle Steve's Granola for a homemade treat, then right as I went to ship realized it contained wheat germ and my pen pal was gluten free. Out of the box it came. Rats! Luckily, I received a wonderful box from my own sender to perk me up. I will absolutely pay it forward with an extra special box in October.

The highlights of my September Box:

1) This recipe, from my penpal's daughter, a NV State Fair 2012 entry... How cute!
2) Gluten-free corn bread from Red Mills, can't WAIT to try it!
3) Lemon cookies and jasmine green tea, for curling up by the fire.  Love that.
4) Saving the best for last, Lettuce Mesclun Seeds!  I have been meaning to plant vegetables in our MTK garden forever, and this is JUST the sign.  Can't wait to try my hand at gardening in the spring.

Want to be a Foodie Pen Pal?  Sign up here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tomatillo & Ginger Baked Salmon

Tomatillo & Ginger Salmon with Shishito Peppers

As you may know, I adore tomatillos and I wanted to try using them as the star of a fish dish.  The sauce below would work just as well on top of a white fish such as fluke or cod.  I was cooking for my Dad, who has an aversion to major spice, so I omitted the jalapenos. Do keep them in if you can, as they balance out the acid with a wonderful kick.

I served these shishito peppers and stock-mashed potatoes (boil new potatoes, mash with a slab of butter, a bit of chicken stock and a grind of pepper!) rounding out a nice dinner in under an hour.

Tomatillo & Ginger Baked Salmon
Ingredients

  • 1 cup of tomatillos, husks removed
  • 4 salmon fillets
  • 1 inch of ginger
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Optional: 1/2 a finely diced jalapeno, seeds omitted
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Tinfoil
Directions
  • Pre heat oven to 375
  • Boil 1 cup of husked tomatillos in boiling water for 4-6 minutes until they turn mustardy yellow
  • Carefully remove from the pot, and let cool
  • Meanwhile, peel and chop one inch of fresh ginger, one clove of garlic and the jalapeno
  • Sauté the jalapeno, ginger and garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until fragrant, 1 – 2 minutes
  • Add the tomatillos and with the back of a wooden spoon crush them into the ginger, garlic and, if using, jalapenos
  • Add one teaspoon of soy sauce and cook the mixture, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes
  • Place each salmon fillet on a piece of tinfoil, top with a healthy scoop of the tomatillo sauce and seal each fillet in the tinfoil packet
  • Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 18 – 25 minutes depending on the thickness of your fillets and oven heat
Tomatillo Sauce
Salmon Pre-Tin Foil Packets

Friday, September 21, 2012

Homemade Hummus

I kind of obsess over the photos that accompany my blog entries. I often make a dish for dinner, then remake it a few weeks later snapping a lot of pictures.  Sometimes 25 photos per vegetable.  Then I edit those photos down, and test between two and 10 pictures with each entry before posting.  It's fun to me, if also a bit obsessive.

Earlier this week, when I tweeted about my love of homemade hummus and a fellow foodie tweep asked for the recipe, I realized sometimes I should simply post without going crazy with the camera.

So here it is: My super simple, totally addictive homemade hummus recipe.  I love that homemade hummus doesn't have a uniform texture, and you can feel the chunks of the chick peas. There are two great things about this recipe1) you can not screw it up and 2) you can have lots of fun trying additional ingredients to spice it up... I'm looking at you roasted cherry tomatoes and pine nuts!

Homemade Hummus
Ingredients 
  • 2 cups of chick peas / garbanzo beans*
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • Up to 1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon of good extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 - 4 tablespoons of tahini
  • Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Salt 
*While canned chickpeas work just fine, it is sooooo easy to cook your own.  Soak dried chick peas in water over night. Rinse the beans, bring to a boil in a fresh water and lower the heat to a simmer, cooking for 1 - 1.25 hours.  Extra beans easily freeze. 
Directions 
  • Saute garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, over medium heat for 1 - 2 minutes
  • Add garlic, oil from the pan and chick peas to a food processor
  • Pulse a few times until the chick peas start to break up
  • Now, add 2 tablespoons of tahini, a quarter of the olive oil (1/4 cup), a sprinkle of salt and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.  Pulse the mixture well. Add another 1/4 cup of olive oil, if it's seeming dry. 
  • Taste it! Do you like it?  
  • Do you want a nutty flavor? Add the remaining tahini.  If you are looking for a smoother consistency, add the olive oil in 1/4 cup increments until you reach your desired consistency. For a brighter bite, add more lemon juice

Friday, September 14, 2012

Skirt Steak with Chimichurri & Husk Cherry Sauce

Husk Cherry



We enjoyed a lovely 10 day holiday in Montauk over Labor Day which included a BBQ at the house with friends.  I was determined to use those husky little guys above and decided to serve grilled skirt steak with two sauces... An herby chimichurri and a sweeter, roasted husk cherry sauce. 

Skirt steak is a perfect crowd-feeding cut because not only is it in-expensive, it is super easy to prepare (salt, grill, serve) and just looks good sliced on a serving platter. Paired with a choice of a sweet or spicy sauce, there was a taste for everyone.  Forgive me for the strange lighting in the picture of the final plate; I still had my camera on the night setting trying to capture the Harvest Moon below!

Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri & Husk Cherry Sauce
Ingredients
  • 1/3 a pound per person of skirt steak
  • Salt & Pepper
Directions 
  • Salt & pepper the steak liberally
  • Grill 3 minutes per side over medium heat
  • Let rest 5 minutes before slicing
Roasted Husk Cherry Sauce
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of husk cherries, husks removed*
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • Salt & Pepper 
*Cherry tomatoes can be substituted if husk cherries / ground cherries are not readily available 
Directions
  • Preheat oven to 325
  • Peel the husks off the fruit
  • Toss the husk cherries / ground cherries with the half of the oil, salt & pepper and red pepper flakes
  • Spread in an even layer in a glass pan and roast for 25-35 minutes until they just start to wrinkle
  • Let cool, then puree adding the remaining olive oil as needed
  • Heat gently before serving
Before


After
Roasted Husk Cherries




Chimchurri
Modified courtesy of Food52 

Ingredients
  • 1 cup of cilantro
  • 1/2 cup of mint
  • 1/4 cup of fresh oregano
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced and sauteed in olive oil 
  • 4 tablespoons red wine, rice or sherry vinegar 
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil 
  • 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Directions
  • Saute the roughly minced garlic in olive oil until fragrant
  • Cool and transfer to a food processor or blender
  • Add the remaining ingredients, and blend until processed
  • Salt & pepper to taste

About Husk Cherries or Cape Gooseberries
Husk Cherries or Cape Gooseberries (not be confused with regular Gooseberries!) are little nightshades, covered in a papery husk.  Sweeter than a cherry tomato, they almost have a pineapple or jammy flavor.  They can be eaten raw in salads, dried or cooked into a dessert.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Vegetable Chana Masala

Chana Masala

My love for all things food is happily extending into my relationships with others as friends and family increasingly reach out to gab about cooking.  Conversations with one high school friend lately have almost exclusively been about food. "What do you think about swapping goat cheese for feta in this recipe?" "Have you seen this foodblog?" "Tonight I'm making a crumble, I will let you know how it turns out...."  It's so fun for me.

So this post is a little virtual nod to our conversations.  It's vegetarian, because she is one, and it's an Indian recipe in tribute to the many lunch buffets we enjoyed when living in the same town years ago.

While the numbers of different spices might seem overwhelming at first glance, fear not.  You basically plop them all in the pot at one time and after a quick visit to a specialty market, you have enough spices for a number of dinners. I tried a handful of different recipes before settling on a modified version from this site. I omit fancy spice grinding and ginger (hubby hates it!) with the hopes of compiling an easy go-to curry for you.

My one suggestion? The first time you make this recipe, create identical mounds of the spice base.  Seal the second heap away in a zip lock bag, and voila, you are that much closer to your next curry.

Vegetable Chana Masala
Modified courtesy of Aarti Paarti



Ingredients
  • 4 tomatoes, finely diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 summer squash diced into cubes  
  • 2 cups of chopped greens (collards, kale, swiss chard) 
  • 1 large white or red onion, finely diced
  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin 
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon amchur powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • Juice of half a lemon or lime 
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and pepper
 Directions
  • Combine all the spices, except the cumin, in a bowl
  • Set a skillet over medium-high heat, and warm the peanut oil until it’s shimmering.  Add the onions,  cumin and a little kosher salt, and saute until they start to brown (about 15 minutes). If the onions start to stick to the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with water and scrub up the pan bits.
  • Add garlic; saute 30 seconds.
  • Add the spice mixture (“masala”), and saute for 30 seconds. Then add the tomatoes and summer squash. Cook, seasoning with a little salt again, picking up anything that’s sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the tomatoes soften, deepen in colour and form a coarse sauce, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the greens and chickpeas, and cover in the masala, cooking a minute or so.
  • Stir in the cup of water, then gently simmer, uncovered for about 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper and citrus juice as needed. Turn the heat off, cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Serve over rice.
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