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

Sweet & Sour Pork With Couscous

Sweet & Sour Pork Couscous

This was very fast and easy to make.

First I boiled some water for couscous. I put 1/4 cup of couscous with 1/2 cup of boiling water in a bowl and put a lid on it to soak up the water while I cooked the rest.

Then I put 2 tsps of olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. I added 2 TBSP of chopped onion and a small sliver of fresh ginger, some salt and pepper and cooked until tender. I cut a 3 oz. piece of boneless pork loin steak into small pieces and added them to the onions. Meanwhile, I pitted 6 fresh cherries and cut them in half and chopped up about 1/2 of fresh cilantro.

When the pork was done, I added the cherries and the couscous. I added two packets of sweet and sour sauce I had saved from a takeout from Panda Express. I don’t use many condiments except mayo and mustard. I don’t like ketchup and buying any condiments is just a waste, so I save a few from when I eat out. They come in handy as I didn’t want to make a batch of sweet and sour this size and probably won’t make something using sweet and sour sauce for months. So, I mixed in the two packets and added the cilantro at the end. This made one serving. It was flavorful, with sweetness from the cherries and tang from the ginger and onions and a nice freshness from the cilantro. The sweet and sour sauce could have been left out, it would still be good, but I liked how it married the flavors.

Rutabaga Soup with Apples, Carrots and Linguiça

Rutabaga Soup With Linguica, Carrots and Apples

Winco had some impossibly low-priced linguiça that I picked up a few weeks ago and put in the freezer. I thawed it out for a soup, deciding to try it with a couple rutabagas. I was a bit leery because it was so incredibly cheap ($2.67 for 1 pound) but hoped for the best. Let’s just say that I will be buying it again. It was delicious and made a fabulous soup.

Okay, I started with 1 TBSP of olive oil in my soup pot and heated it on a low medium. I added 1 tsp of cumin powder and 1 tsp of cinnamon. While it heated, I chopped1 medium yellow onion, salt and pepper, and tossed it in, letting it sauté until tender. While it was cooking, I pelled a 1 inch piece of fresh ginger and shredded it. I then added 2 cloves of minced garlic and sautéed everything together. The aroma was heady. I added the linguiça and let it cook a bit, so it was browned before I added 1 quart of water and  turned the heat up to a simmer.

Now I peeled 2 carrots and 2 rutabaga and 1 apple and chopped them up into small pieces. I did not worry about regularity as I planned to puree the soup, but it would cook faster with smaller pieces. I added them all to the soup, tossed in some salt and pepper and let it cook until tender.

I removed the linguiça and set it aside. I let the soup cool down, coming back an hour later to puree the soup. An immersion blender works best, but I don’t have one, so I used my Magic Bullet. After it was pureed, I added back the linguiça that I had chopped into 1/2 inch long pieces. I reheated it using the microwave on low and added a dollop of sour cream for that hot-cold,  spicy-sweet and sour contrast.

I made a similar soup several times, but this has a different flavor profile with the cinnamon and the linguiça and is, I think, a better version.

Kale & Grapefruit Salad

kale and grapefruit salad

I used a small bunch of lacinato kale, washed, removed the stems and chopped the leaves. This made about 8 cups of chopped kale. I added 1 TBSP of olive oil, 1 tsp of kosher salt and 1 inch of fresh ginger, grated. With my hand, I massaged the oil into the kale, softening the leaves.

With a knife, I supremed a grapefruit, cutting off the ends and the peel and pith. Then I used the knife to cut the flesh off in segments between the skin. I tossed the grapefruit into the salad.

I then added 2 TBSP of mango nectar and 2 TBSP of 100% cranberry juice (unsweetened). I put a lid on the container and shook it to distribute everything evenly and let it set in the fridge for an hour.

When serving, I added a bit of pepper on top. It’s a delicious tart and sweet salad with a hearty kale foundation. The ginger adds heat to balance the sweet mango.

Curried Parsnip Pear Soup

Curried Parsnip Pear Soup

I had a craving for some curried parsnip pear soup and decided to make it for lunch. It tastes and looks like it is hard work, but it is a simple recipe that only takes patience, not hard work.

To start I minced 1 TBSP of fresh garlic (3 small cloves) and 1 TBSP of fresh ginger (a piece about the length of a thumb) and added them to 2 TBSP of butter on medium heat in my soup kettle. While they cooked, I chopped up a yellow onion and put 1/2 cup of yellow onion in with the garlic and ginger. I added 1 TBSP of curry powder, stirred, added some salt and pepper and let sauté until tender.

While that was sautéing, I peeled 3 parsnips and cut them into chunks about 1 inch square or so. The exact size matters less than trying to make them all uniform in size. I added them to the pot and added water to cover plus 1/2 inch. A bit of salt and pepper was added to taste.

I cut up two Bosc pears. I did not bother peeling because this will be pureed and the pear skin is not tough and woody like parsnip peelings. I added the pears and put the lid on the kettle and turned the heat up to medium-high, bringing it to a slow boil. Then I let it continue to cook at a low boil until the parsnips were tender.

Removing it from the heat, I removed the lid to help it cool faster and let it sit and rest until it cooled enough I could put it in my Magic Bullet. You can use a blender or an immersion blender. I pureed until smooth.

I spooned some into a bowl, added a dollop of sour cream and 3 thin slices of pear. This happens to be Bartlett, but any ripe and tender pear would do.

This could easily be made vegan by substituting olive oil for the butter at the beginning and leaving out the sour cream garnish. The soup itself is a delicious blend of the tart parsnip with the sweet pear. The bit of heat from the curry works well with those flavors. It is so delicious you might find yourself using a spatula to get ever last bite of soup out of the bowl.

This makes 8 servings.

 

 

Rutubaga Soup

Rutubaga Root Vegetable Soup

This may have the most intense flavor per spoonful of anything I have ever made. The flavor is so rich and intense that it is amazingly filling and satisfying. I know I will make this again and again. I was inspired to make it by the fact that I had four rutabagas in the crisper that were losing their crispness. I knew I had to make something and they were no longer crisp enough for great salads, so I decided to make a soup. I looked online for some soup recipes, but most called for cream and I almost never have milk or cream. I was pretty sure I could come up with a non-dairy version that would be pretty good.

To start I sautéed a medium sized yellow onion in 2 tbsp of olive oil with some salt and pepper. I added 1 full inch of fresh ginger (about 1.5 tbsp) and 2 tsp of cardamom. I let sauté until they onions were tender and a soft golden yellow. Meanwhile, I peeled and chopped up 4 rutabaga and 2 turnips into about 1 inch cubes. The turnips were the adorable little small, round ones, not the big ones. I thought they might add a bit of pungent brightness to the soup. When they were all cut up, I tossed them in the pot and added salt and pepper.

I then added 24 oz of broth. I used chicken broth I had made from some roast chicken and froze. You could use a mushroom or vegetable broth for a vegan alternative. The point is to enrich the vegetables with flavor from the broth – but the particular broth flavor is less critical.

While they cooked, I peeled and cubed two tart apples. I happened  to use 2 Fiji and 2 Granny Smith, but so long as they are tart apples and not sweet ones like HoneyCrisp or bland ones like Delicious, the particular strain is not important.

When the rutabagas and turnips were tender, I added the apples with some salt and pepper. I then juiced two fresh lemons. I added the lemon juice and 1.5 tsp of cayenne and salt and pepper to taste. I am sure you note that I am adding salt and pepper over and over and over. This does not make an over-salted dish, because I season to taste at each stage – and adding with each new stage of cooking, the flavor actually becomes rich with less salt and pepper.

Let it cool a bit and puree with an immersion blender. It will be creamy and smooth and delicious.

The brightness of the lemon, the little bit of cayenne and the earthy richness of the root vegetable and the delicious aromatic cardamom combine into an intense and delicious flavor that is hard to describe. It’s has a tiny bit of heat, but it’s not spicy. It has a bit of zing, but it’s not sour. It’s just sublime.

This made 2 quarts of soup – enough for several more than a single serving. It can easily be made vegan and will be just as good.

Wild Plum Sauce

Wild Plum Sauce

This is just a recipe for the Wild Plum Sauce. My best friend made the stir fry that I served over the rice with the sauce and a pork chop.

She brought over 2 quarts of wild plums and suggested I come up with a good sauce. I love a challenge and started to work.

I put 1 TBSP of olive oil in a sauce pan and heated to medium. I chopped on medium yellow onion and sautéed them with 2 inches of minced ginger and about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of grated nutmeg. I let the onions cook until tender. Meanwhile I removed the pits from the plums. When the onions were tender, I added the plums and 1/4 cup of white vinegar. I let simmer until the plums broke down into a sauce. I used a potato masher to help it break down some more. Removing from the heat, I squeezed the juice of two fresh limes, added a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Then I added some sriracha to taste. I suppose about two tsps or so. Mileage may vary. If you like it hotter, add more.  After it cooled, I pureed to a nice, smooth sauce.

This is sweet, sour and spicy – perfect for meat, for fried wontons and anything that likes a sweet-sour flavor.  It’s good with veggies on rice and just about anything.

 

 

 

Dragon’s Breath Sweet & Sour Pork

S&S Pork

 

This is significantly tastier than dragon’s breath, but it will add a touch of fire to your day. I was hankering for some sweet and sour pork, but I also had some parboiled rutabaga left over from salad fixings and some pitted cherries left from a chutney I had made and it occurred to me that they could work in a sweet and sour pork. They would add compatible flavors, at least. However, there was nothing at least about this dish. It was by far the most delicious sweet and sour pork I have ever made.

So, to start it off. I chopped half an onion and minced an inch of ginger and 1 serrano chile. I sautéed them in olive oil on a medium low heat with some salt and pepper. Meanwhile I chopped up 1/2 a red pepper. I had cleaned and cut up the pineapple yesterday, so it was in a container in the fridge. I parboiled rutabagas for salad 2 days ago and they were also in the fridge in a container. I added a pork loin chop (about 6 ounces) and let it cook with the onions, ginger and chile and added some salt and pepper. When it was browned on one side, I added the red pepper. I let cook for about 5 minutes and added 1/4 cup cherries and 1/4 cup of pineapple chunks and 1/4 cup of rutabaga and season with salt and pepper. I let them cook until warm. Then I added 2 tsp of soy sauce and 1 tbsp of white vinegar and stirred. Added salt and pepper to taste.

Please note that when you add salt and pepper at ever step of cooking, you are adding much less at one time. Seasoning step by step means you will avoid over or under seasoning.

I served over plain rice. This had all that sweet and sour pungency of the traditional dish, but the rutabaga and cherries added an earthiness and umami that made it simply out of this world. Frankly, it would taste delicious without the pork for a vegetarian entree.

 

Pork Chop & Rice with Sweet & Sour Cherry Sauce

Pork Chop and Sweet & sour Cherry Sauce

 

My best friend brought over about a quart of fresh sour cherries she picked yesterday. I decided I might try them as an option for sweet and sour pork chops since I had some fresh pineapple that could be used to sweeten their sourness.

First I cooked some rice. I always make 2 cups of rice when I cook it because it stores well and I can use it in many dishes. To make rice, I put two cups of long grain white rice in my wire strainer and run it under cold water, rinsing away the starch. I then put it in a pot that has a tight-fitting lid with 3 cups of cold water and 1 tsp of salt. I turn up the heat to medium high and let it come to a rolling boil. Then I turn the heat off and leave it until I am ready to serve. I do not lift the lid. I do not stir. I do nothing at all. It will be perfectly done if I leave it alone, steaming in the pot. Now I like slightly dryer rice than many Americans, so you can try up to 4 cups of cold water. 4 cups gives you the usual soft (and to me, mushy) American style of cooked rice.

To make the sauce, I cut about 1 inch off a ginger root, peeled and minced. I then minced 3 garlic cloves. I heated t tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and added about 10 cardamom seeds that I removed from 2 pods. I then added the ginger and garlic and let them sauté while i chopped up half a small purple onion and added that. I let that sauté away while I pitted cherries, cutting them in half and removing pits. When I had one cup of pitted cherries, I added that to the sauté pan with the onions, garlic and ginger. I then added a dash or Sriracha and 1 serrano pepper, minced. I let the cherries cook until tender. Then I added 1/4 cup of chopped fresh pineapple and the juice from chopping it up. Taste-testing, it was still a bit too sour, so i added about 1 TBSP of buckwheat honey. Now it was perfect. I had enough for two chops, but I only cooked one, putting the rest in a container for another day.

I heated a pan with a bit of oil and fried the pork chop. After it was done on one side, I turned it over and poured half the cherry sauce on top of the chop and let it continue to fry. When it was done, I put it on a plate with some rice and made sure to spoon rest of the sauce from the pork chop pan onto the rice.

Pork loves fruit and sour cherries were no exception. The sauce was hot, tart, sour and sweet. That buckwheat honey gives it s deep earthiness that regular honey does not. Balancing sour does not always require a lot of sweet. Spicy can balance sour, too, and in this case, spice was a great balance. The addition of cardamom added a rich, headiness that made the whole thing so fulfilling to all the senses.