Sweet Potato & Chickpea Curry

DSCN7262.png

My best friend makes this for Thanksgiving every year, but this year she was deep in roasting lamb, making brioche, and baking pies and brought the ingredients over with her recipe and said, “Here.” Well, not quite so peremptorily, but you get the idea. Knowing that her lamb is the most delicious dish that has ever existed on the planet, I was happy to help. Besides, my contribution was two pickled salads that I had made the day before so the brine could work its magic. This is a recipe that originates with Nigella Lawson and was printed in The New York Times years ago. It has been a tradition ever since.

DSCN7257.png

  • 2 med red onions, peeled
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 serrano pepper – don’t remove the seeds, you want the heat.
  • 2-3 inches of ginger, peeled
  • 3 TBSP canola oil

Chop onions, garlic, serrano pepper, and ginger. Sauté in canola oil over medium low heat for about 5 minutes until softened.

DSCN7258.png

  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 2/3 tsp turmeric
  • 3 cardamon pods, crushed
  • salt to taste

Add spices, stir and mix. Let bloom by heating so the aroma fills the room. This releases the aromatic oils so they infuse more flavor.

DSCN7259.png

  • 3 med sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 1 3/4 cup coconut milk (light) (1 can)

Add sweet potatoes and stir until covered by spices. Add coconut milk. Raise heat to medium and simmer.

DSCN7260.png

  • 1 TBSP tamarind paste
  • 2 1/4 cup vegetable broth (can use water if you don’t have broth)

Heat broth and stir tamarind paste in hot liquid until dissolved (You can use a microwave). Tamarin paste is super sticky, so you want to be sure it is completely dissoved in the hot liquid before you add it to you pan of simmering sweet potatoes. Keep simmering, partially covered for about 25 minutes. You want the sweet potatoes to be tender, but not soft.

  • 4 to 5 cups cooked chickpeas

DSCN7261.png

Add the chickpeas, stirring them into the sweet potatoes and making sure they heat through. Then remove.

  • 2 TBSP chopped cilantro

Top with cilantro when serving.

This is a warm, slightly spicy dish rich in the hearty, warm flavors of fall with the beautiful browns and oranges of fall as well. It is delicious, hearty, and a great substitute for the traditional mashed potatoes and gravy.  It is a huge meal, serving 12, or great for leftovers. It just tastes even richer the next day.

 

Advertisements

Pickled Brussels Sprouts, Carrots & Radishes with Anise Seed

Pickled vegetable salad is found in cuisines around the globe. I made the giardiniera from The Grand Central Market Cookbook the other day so it had a few days to marinate in brine for Thanksgiving. I decided to make a second salad to evangelize my love of anise with vegetables.  Believe me, anise seed does not make your food taste like licorice.

  • 2 tsp anise seed
  • 2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 serrano chile
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP sugar

To make this, I made the brine first because it must be cooled down before you add it to the veggies. I heated a saucepan over medium heat. I added anise seed and let it bloom a bit, heating it in the dry pan until the aroma scented the room. Then I added apple cider vinegar, a whole serrano chile with the stem removed, salt, and sugar. Heat this until the sugar dissolves, Remove from the heat and cool.

  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • 4 cups of brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 cups of carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
  • 2 cups of radish, trimmed and sliced.
  • Serrano chile, (removed from brine and chopped)

Chop the vegetables, add the brine. Let marinate for at least 12 hours. This is a crispy, crunchy salad with a bright flavor. This is my second pickled salad for Thanksgiving dinner and serves 8.

 

 

Pickled Strawberries

Pickled Strawberries

Pickled Strawberries with a few sliced almonds

  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes

I got 10 pounds of strawberries at Harvest Share and was trying to think how to use them quickly before they turned. I froze several packages, but ran out of freezer bags, so I was looking at all these strawberries that even if I ate them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I would not be able to eat them quickly enough. I had this wild idea of pickling them and googled for recipes to work from. I found one that sounded delicious, but I didn’t have mint or serrano chiles. So, I mailed it to a friend of mine who also went to Harvest Share and said, how about you make these and I will make some others and we can trade.

I decided to just run with a standard pickling brine with sugar and vinegar, adding some balsamic vinegar because I know strawberries and balsamic vinegar love each other. I tossed in some red pepper flakes because sweet and spicy make some of the most addictive flavors.

I cut off the tops of the strawberries and stuffed them in some jars with lids. I used old peanut butter jars. Meanwhile, on the stove I heared vinegar and sugar, adding red pepper flakes and balsamic vinegar after the sugar dissolved. I let the brine cool completely before pouring over the strawberries. I made sure they were completely submerged in brine and stuck them in the fridge, turning a few times. The next day they were ready…

Wow! These are dangerously addictive. They are spicy, but not uncomfortably spicy. The sweet and spicy flavor is perfect. They would be great served with pork. A friend brought over some espresso brownies last night and I cut one in half, putting a strawberry on each half. It was fabulous.

Far from being a recipe you might want to use up strawberries before they spoil, this is a recipe that would justify going out and buying a flat of them.

Pickled Strawberries

Brussels Sprouts, Black Beans, and Carrots

This was a quick and easy supper.

  • ½ tsp anise seed
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and cut into coins
  • 8 oz. Brussels sprouts, cut off the end and then halve or quarter depending on the size so they are all the same size.
  • 1 can black beans, thoroughly rinsed with water
  • juice of ½ fresh lemon
  • salt and pepper

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add anise seed until the aroma fills the room. Add carrots and salt and pepper. Sauté for about two minutes. Add Brussels sprouts and cook until warmed through. Be sure you don’t overcook to the point they are softened. Add black beans, rinse thoroughly so the juice from the can does not color the veggies. Add salt and pepper. When they are warmed through, squeeze fresh lemong juice and cover for 1 minute.

I love the flavor of anise and vegetables. It really does not taste like licorice. It marries vegetables perfectly. The black beans adds a bit of protein to balance the dish and give it the carbs that really make it satisfying.

Peanut Slaw with Dried Dates

DSCN7178.png

This was a quick and easy slaw using some Spicy Peanut Dressing I made the other day.

Dressing:

  • 2 TBSP peanut butter
  • 2 TSBP seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lg. clove of garlic, crushed and macerated with salt
  • Juice from 1 lime, squeezed.

So I sliced up  a salad bowl full of cabbage, diced up two dried figs. Tossed with the peanut dressing. Delicious.

The mix of spicy heat and sweetness and citrus tang make this a great salad dressing. Cabbage is friendly to just about any dressing and the dried figs add just a perfect contrast.

Curried Turnips and Kale

Curried Turnips and Kale

I put a cast iron skillet on the stove at a low medium (4 out of 10) heat and put about 1/4 cup of sauteed celery and onion mix in the pan to thaw. (When I got 10 heads of celery from Harvest Share, I sauteed half of them with onions and made the other half into mirepoix and froze them in freezer bags, so I just pulled out a bag, whacked it against the counter a few times, and dumped 1/2 cup of it in the pan.

While the onions and celery thawed in the pan, I peeled a turnip and cut into chunks a little less than an inch square. I added some salt and pepper and let cook for about 4 minutes. Coming back to stir it a bit, I added 1 TBSP of rice vinegar and 1 tsp of curry powder. I stirred a few minutes longer before adding 1/2 cup of fresh kale. I put the lid on and let it cook for a few more minutes, removing when the turnips were tender.

You don’t really taste the vinegar, but there is a lightness to it that comes from that bit of acid. The curry adds a nice bit of heat and the turnips are such a bright, sharp flavor that balances well with the earthy kale.

Three Cucumber Salads

Cucumber Salad

Why three cucumber salads in one post? Because I got 15 pounds of cucumbers from the Food Bank’s Harvest Share program and cucumbers do not keep that well without some vinegar. So, I spent a long time slicing and dicing and mixed up three huge salads. Two of them based on my mom’s delicious old-fashioned cucumber salad.

This is mom’s recipe. Slice your cucumbers no more than 1/4 inch thick. I used a mandoline and easily sliced wafer thin slices. Layer the slices in a container with high sides, lightly salting between layers. I used Glad’s 13 cup family size container which held about 8 -10 large cucumbers, sliced. I put a sheet of wax paper over the container and set my cast iron fry pan on top of the wax paper and then put my tea kettle on top of that so it was weighted down heavily. I left it for a few hours and came back to add the dressing.

After two hours, I dumped the cucumbers into a big colander and let them drain. Rinsing the Glad container to get the saltiness out, I mixed the dressing right in the container while the cukes drained. I used 2 cups of white vinegar, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 TBSP of dill weed, 1 tsp of garlic salt, and 2 tsp of celery seed.  I squeezed the juice out of the cucumbers, added them back into the container with the dressing and refrigerated overnight so they absorbed back the fluid I had drawn out with salt. Now they are saturated with a fresh dill flavor that has a mild bite. Makes 10 cups of salad.

Cucumber Salad

I only made about 7 cups of this salad because I used oil so it won’t last as long. To make it I cut the cucumbers into 4-6 inch long lengths that I shredded on the mandoline, making threads of cucumber. I also sliced and diced finely two purple onions. I salted and let rest for about an hour. Squeezing out the excess, I grated the zest of two limes over the salad, mixing it in. Then,  squeezed the lime juice into a sauce bowl for the dressing. I added 3/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar, 1/4 cup light olive oil, 2 TBSP of soy sauce, salt, pepper, and 2 tsp of red pepper flakes. I poured on top of the cucumber and onions, shook and let sit to absorb flavors for a few hours. This is a spicy, tangy salad with that delicious earthy tang of limes and the heat of peppers.  It’s delicious on a sandwich with pulled pork. Makes six cups of salad.

Cucumber Salad

These are pepper-salted cucumber slices, also a recipe from my mom. As before, I sliced the cucumbers, layering with salt until I filled the 13 cup container. I added weight on top of them and let them sit for two hours to draw out the liquid. I drained them in a colander, squeezing out all the liquid I could.

In the 13 cup plastic container, I added 2 cups of vinegar, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1 TBSP of pepper. I mixed together, Added the cucumber and let it soak up the vinegar overnight. This has a fresh vinegary taste with a bit of bite from the pepper, fresh and cool followed by just a bit of heat. Makes 10 cups.

Caraway Carrot Sticks

Caraway Carrot Sticks.png

Preheat your oven to 350° F.

In a plastic bag, toss 1 TBSP of corn starch, 1 TBSP of olive oil, and 1 tsp of caraway seeds, a pinch of salt and pepper. Add 1 pound of baby carrots. Shake until they are completely covered. Spread on a baking sheet. Bake 40 minutes.

I served on a bed of baby spinach and spring mix lightly dressed with balsamic vinegar. I liked the way the caraway, the little olive oil, the salt worked with the salad. Makes two large servings.

Wow,  caraway and carrot is delicious. The caraway balances the sometimes overwhelming sweetness of roasted carrot perfectly.

I adapted this recipe from Melts by Fern Green, a cookbook I am currently reading. I used baby carrots and olive oil instead of vegetable oil and served on a salad. Otherwise the recipe is the same. She served it as a side with a sandwich melt…but I am out of bread. Otherwise, sounds like a great idea.

Vegan Yam and Pear Soup

 

Put 3 TBSP of olive oil in the bottom of a large stock pot on a medium low burner. Add 1 TBSP of cinnamon, 1 tsp of allspice, salt, pepper and heat until the aroma rises. Add 2 TBSP of chopped ginger, and I know that is a lot, but ginger is what we need to make this a savory soup, not a dessert soup. Ginger and onions, which come next. Add 1 yellow onion, chopped coarsely. It’s all going to be pureed in the end, so don’t bother chopping fine. Sauté until onions are soft and transparent.

Peel 8 small yams and cut into uniformly sized chunks, about 2 inches square. Toss into the pot with 32 oz. of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook until tender, about 20 – 30 minutes depending on the size of your chunks. Test with a fork.

Peel 4 pears, remove the stem, and chop into pieces and add to the pot. Cook for 15 more minutes. Add 32 oz. of unsweetened coconut beverage. Let cool and puree using a Magic Bullet, blender, or immersion blender.

I used 5 slices of fresh pear (one sunk) and a couple baby spinach leaves to garnish. I was going for the artistically pleasing Rule of Five, but one did not cooperate. I suppose if I were a super arty food blogger, I would make another bowl, but that seems silly for this blog.

This makes a smooth soup that is about the consistency of a canned tomato soup, but the similarities end there. It is so good, it is not the least bit sweet, but tastes of yam and pear and these deep aromatic spices with a little bit of heat that lingers from the ginger. It is not the least bit sweet despite the pears. The ginger and allspice are important in grounding the flavor on the savory side. If you don’t have allspice, you could use nutmeg or cardamom. It’s also kind of addictive and from spoon-licking from when I served it up to reheat, I can tell you, it’s actually pretty good cold, too. It was tasty last night, but today’s its flavor is richer. This is no single-serving. It makes 4 quarts of soup, which was nice to send some home with friends and to save for lunches this week.

The unsweetened coconut beverage is in a white unlabelled box with the ingredients stamped on it for Oregon Food Bank. This product from Pacific Foods matches the ingredients in type and order of quantity.

Everything but the olive oil and spices came from the Oregon Food Bank’s Harvest Share program. Harvest Share is a program that provides fresh produce to low-income Portlanders through the Oregon Food Bank. This is a big contrast with regular food bank products which are dependent on donations and tend to focus on nonperishable carbs like rice, pasta, beans, bread, and crackers. It’s a fabulous program that I wish were available across the country because fresh produce is expensive and many food banks simply do not get enough donated, and what is donated is often well past its prime.

 

 

Pomegranate Relish or Dressing

Pomegranate Dressing or Relish

It’s pretty easy to clean a pomegranate, just cut it in half and pull the edges than knock it on the outside with a spoon and the seeds fall out. However, at Harvest Share this week, I got two packages of already cleaned pomegranate seeds. Sadly, however, they were already past their sweet spot and had turned sour and vinegary. I know some people would toss it out, since it was beginning to change, but pomegranate is acidic and just being past its prime does not make it a home for bacteria, just very sour flavor. I knew I could fix it and enjoy this fruit I really love. I just had to figure out how. Since it was already very vinegary, it made sense to use it as a sort of vinegar and make a salad dressing or a relish. But first I had to figure out what could balance the sourness. I pulled out aromatic spices like nutmeg, cardamom, and anise and tried a few grains with one pomegranate seed to see what I liked best. Both the nutmeg and the cardamon tried, but they added heat as well as balance and I wanted to make it more mellow, so I chose anise.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • ½ tsp anise seed
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 8 oz pomegranate seeds
  • 4 TBSP rice vinegar

I put 2 tbsp of olive oil in a sauce pan with ½ tsp of anise seed and heated to release the oils and flavor the oil. I then added 2 tsp of minced fresh ginger. I sliced ½ of a yellow onion into slivers and added to the olive oil, cooking until tender. I then added the 8 oz package of pomegranate seeds and cooked just until it started to break down. I added 4 TBSP of  rice vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. This made enough dressing for 4 large salads. It would also work well as a relish on the side where you might use cranberries, with pork, turkey, or sausage.

Here are a few salads made with the dressing. A simple salad with pecans and feta. A dinner salad with chicken sautéed with a bit of Old Bay. A dinner salad with some carne asada marinated in soy sauce and vinegar with some garlic, pears charred on the electric burner, and feta cheese.