Monthly Archives: April 2012

Moong Dal Curry (or, “So-diumb”)

In my pantry today:

  • 3 c cooked moong dal
  • 1/2 large Vidalia onion
  • 1 14.5 oz can Italian petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Shan® dal curry mix
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1.5 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1 tsp hot curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida

A seemingly healthy meal has hidden intentions this time around. At 1990mg of sodium per serving (I know, right!?) I could not in good conscience just “go with” that Shan® spice packet. The package comes with about 1/2 c powdered spice blend… I drew a compromise and used 1 tsp. The canned tomatoes are already salty enough. But I digress.

Mince your onion as well as you can — don’t focus on perfection, only on not lopping off a digit. Add to ghee that’s melted in a pot on ML. Let onion cook for 10m or so, then dial up the heat to full M. Add the undrained can of tomatoes, then all of your spices; mix that, then mix in your moong dal with strategically dolloped milk to guide the way. Let everything come to a slow boil on M, then reduce heat to L and simmer for, well, it’s gonna be several hours until dinnertime. Serve over Basmati rice with naan. 4 spoons!

Now back to inordinate amounts of sodium. I know better than to have prepackaged “spice mixes” at hand, but in my defense they fit both a food-stampaneer’s budget and the work output possibilities of MS. I am here, now, as my own living proof of the blatantly unhealthy eating habits for which every grocery around me rails. As someone who staunchly believes that convenience foods are not at all convenient for the human body, I publicly admit shame. Now I have to face the cupboard with the dilemma of wastefulness (ie; financial v. corporeal waste). What will probably come from this will be a shuffling of some things to the back then forgetting they’re in the pantry. It is yet to be determined whether my conscience will let me give this stuff away to friends and family (funny how strangers don’t want to take mysterious powder sacks from those they don’t know). /soapbox

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Cashew-Kale Ramen Bowls

In my pantry today

  • Ramen noodles
  • 2 c red Russian kale, stems removed
  • 1 white radish
  • 1/4 large Vidalia onion
  • 2 c vegetable broth
  • 1 packet Swanson® FlavorBoost / 1 c water
  • 1.5 tsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp Good Seasoning® dressing mix
  • 1  tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp red hot chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida

In a bowl with sides large enough to suggest privacy for its innards, take 1/2 tsp soy sauce and give your bite-size cuts of kale a tender deep tissue massage. Add thinly-sliced radish and onion and toss everything together so as to ensure the two tagalongs don’t get jealous on missing out on that massage (I mean, I know I’d be). Put the mix in the fridge to sit for at least 15m. Mine went several hours, only to its benefit.

In an appropriately-sized vessel, combine the remainder of your soy sauce with 1 tsp garlic, 1/2 tsp turmeric, Good Seasonings®, water and chili powder. Bring to a boil then let simmer on L until mealtime.

Then upon the time of the dining, remove kale mix from the fridge to bring it to room temperature. Bring broth back to a boil and sink in your ramen. Let boil for 4m, then pour their al dente selves along with their broth into a bowl (the noodles will finish cooking there in just a minute or two while its too hot to eat anyway). Top with the kale-onion-radish mix that’s been marinating (in my case, all day), then top that with the cashews you took out of the food processor a third of the way through becoming cashew butter. The soup was flavorful and very spicy; the ground cashews were just sweet and rich enough to complement the heat beyond my expectations. And I’ve never before known radishes to be anything other than salad bar passovers. This was unexpectedly good!  5 spoons!

 

 

Sausage Curry (or, “No, Fergie’s Not Coming”)

In my pantry today:

  • 1/3 c ground sausage
  • 1/2 c red Russian kale
  • 1 c arugula
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1/2 c vegetable broth
  • 1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 c black eyed peas
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red hot chili powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 tbsp hot curry powder

Start your sausage in a pan on ML and slowly increase the heat as it begins to cook; stab it with the spatula until the meat is as crumbly as you like. Drain all grease from the meat and set that crumbled goodness aside. Leave grease to cook your diced onion.

When the onion begins to blush translucence, add the kale and arugula and use it as a dishrag to sop up whatever grease is left. Toss in your tomato for good measure and sprinkle 1 tsp of garlic powder. Once everything is well acquainted, pour the mess into a food processor and puree until only tiny flecks of color remain. When you pause to scrape the sides of the processor add the rest of your seasonings. You will be rewarded with a fine rainbowish mush, so pour it all back into the pan and add the can of tomatoes. Stir in the beans and crumbled sausage, slowly adding the broth (I had vegetable on hand, but please feel free to use the juice of any animal or plant you like here). Let simmer on L for at least an hour, then serve over rice or with penne pasta or… well, you’ve probably got it from here, right? 4 spoons!

 

 

 

 

Spicy Prime Rib on Arugula with Mini Microgreen Bread Bowls

In my pantry today:

  • 2 prime rib steaks
  • 1/2 c steak rub*
  • 1 c arugula
  • 2 tsp any vinaigrette you like*
  • 4 take-n-bake dinner rolls
  • 1/2 c delicious bread filling*

rub your meat with this:

  • 2 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp Garam Masala

vinaigrette it on:

  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 Good Seasonings® dressing mix packet

and stuff them rolls:

  • 1/2 c cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp ground brown flax
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp some kind of hot chili sauce you got from the Chinese place yesterday that they use to cook with because you requested something to be more spicy but apparently no one ever does that for a #17 so they were confused and I got some of their special cooking stuff
  • 1 tsp “Fiesta” chili powder (I don’t know how the adjective fits in here, Earthfare.)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 packet Chik-Fil-A® sunflower seeds

This was a lot of cupboard-rummaging for a seriously delicious outcome. The steaks came courtesy of mom and dad with their recent cooler full of meat and spent their thawed day with a massage and full-body spice scrub. It’s actually not hard to assemble all of this — the hardest part is waiting on the broiler to preheat. Because really broiler? Take your time.

After the meat gets felt up real good, go ahead and make your vinaigrette. That’s all you need to do right now, so go strip some old carpet off the stairs and get real filthy. You’ve got the time; have more coffee, too!

Eventually it will be time for the main attraction; preheat to 375° and bake rolls for 6-8m. Take them out and cut a hole in the top of each and scrape a reservoir of breadlessness. Put them back into the oven for another 3-4m. In that time you should have rightly been able to mix up the filling so that when they come out this time, you can tuck 1 tbsp or so into the bowl and top with microgreens. While you were doing that, preheat your broiler. Then meditate, because the broiler will probably be a haughty opera singer about this all and you do not have the time or energy for it.

Once preheated, put cold steaks 3″ under the element for 2m, flip them and continue cooking until they are at your desired level of done. My broiler takes just 3 minutes to take a steak from deep purple to sadsack white; don’t let overdone meat happen to you. Grilling would be preferable, but a broiler is preferable to a frying pan for my steak any day. Lay each cut of meat on a bed of arugula that’s been tossed with a tsp or two of vinaigrette. Stick your pretty buns beside that, then stick your other pretty buns in a seat and enjoy all 5 spoons of dinner!

1 Meat and 2 Sides (or, “One Cannot Tame Wild Rice”)

In my pantry today:

  • 5 chicken breast tenders
  • 3 c broccoli florets
  • 1 package Mahatma® long grain & wild rice
  • 2 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 4 tsp safflower oil
  • 1 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2/3 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese

Take your thawed tenders out of the fridge and set them up to spend the morning with a rub of 1 tbsp lemon juice and 2 tbsp garlic paste. When it’s time to begin cooking, go ahead and start your rice, and when you hit the “reduce heat & cover” portion of things go ahead and start 2 tsp of safflower oil warming to MH. When full heat is in the house, invite the chicken over. Sear all sides of the tenders and let the garlic paste brown, but not burn. As they cook, cut each tender into 2-4 pieces and when they begin sticking, add 1/4 c water, toss and scrape up any brown bits. Sprinkle in 1/2 tsp red hot chili powder and 1 extra tsp of garlic powder (for good, garlicky measure) then add the other 1/4 c water turn the burner to L and cover.

Now address your broccoli. In a large bowl, drizzle on 2 tsp of safflower oil and sprinkle on your remaining seasonings; toss the florets by hand as your fingers better know what needs oilin’ than might a mere fork. Spread them out on a non-stick cookie sheet and bake at 400° for 7m. Then take them out of the oven, sprinkle 1/4 c Parmesan cheese on top and return to the oven for another 3-4m. For more good measure, uncover your chicken and sprinkle it, too with 1/4 c Parmesan cheese and re-cover until eating time.

Serve chicken and broccoli over (or beside — I’m not here to judge anybody by preposition) the rice mixture you bought on a whim but now reminds you why you do not like wild rice. This meal might’ve gotten 5 spoons were it served with some kind of flavorful pasta with a light sauce, but instead the swamp-butt flavor of wild rice takes it down to 3 spoons.

 

Tofu Parmesan (or, “No, Really. Tofu Parmesan.”)

In my pantry today:

  • 1/3 package Nasoya® firm tofu
  • 3-4  c cooked spaghetti
  • 1 24 oz jar Prego® (roasted garlic and herb)
  • 1 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1 c tofu marinade*
  • 1.25 c breading*
  • 1/4 c safflower oil
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/2 c shredded mozzerella
  • 1/2 c Parmesan cheese

First thing’s first: prepare your tofu properly for cooking for the first damn time, Katherine. Stop thinking that it will magically find deliciousness through little preparatory effort. Drain your cube o’fu and gently squeeze a clean towel or paper towels around it for a little casual pre-press. Then wrap it in [clean towel/paper towels] and set a light-medium weight pot or pan on top and walk away for 30m or so. When you return, slice into 1/2″ thick steaks and place into sweet overnight dreams of flavor…

*tofu marinade:

  • 1 c vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix everything together and lay steaks flat (I used a rectangular tupperware dealie). Let sit in the fridge overnight, flipping once halfway through said marination.

And okay, pretend it’s now dinner time the following afternoon. Boil spaghetti until at your preferred consistency then season your Prego® with 1 tsp hot red chili powder and call that part of the meal a day. Get back to your tofu, and mix the following for its breading:

  • 1/4 c cornstarch
  • 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c ground golden flax
  • 1/2 c plain bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp red hot chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida

While your oil is warming, remove tofu steaks gingerly and let sit on paper towels. Pat them on the back and let them know you appreciate their patience, then roll them in the breading and let them fry. Once one side turns golden, flip and continue cooking until the desired color. Mine came out a little browner than I’d have ideally liked, but they were still really, really tasty. When I was little, my dad used to make little bread crumb fritters when he’d fry something and there were breadcrumb left over… they were delicious, but even I knew they were bad for me. In the 80s. This, though? Well, nothing fried is really healthy — let me say that to the universe so it knows that this time I am not taunting it — but at least… well, nothing fried is really healthy. And nothing fried then covered with cheese could certainly count… but damn but it weren’t tasty.

Once fried, let the tofu sit on paper towels until crispy and dry of their shame. I layered in a bowl: spaghetti, sauce, tofu then cheeses and put each stainless steel bowl under the broiler for 5m to get the melty goodness going. 4 spoons!

Double-Duty Cheese & Broccoli Bake

In my pantry today:

  • 3 c raw broccoli tops
  • 2 c leftover hibachi rice
  • 1 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 c shredded mozzerella
  • 3 saved packets of Chik-Fil-A® croutons
  • 2 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Greek seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon

By gum, if there’s any way to make copious amounts of cheese a healthy addition to the human diet I will find it. Today was a battle I won with the tools of a mad, desperate woman. And also a lot of cheese. Start out by cutting your florets from the stem and pick apart most with your fingers so that various sizes of broccoli exist in your casserole dish. Set aside and move to a small sauce pan that’s melting your butter. Once melted, add milk, garlic paste and seasonings. Stir in cheeses and rice; once stirred, pour over the eagerly awaiting broccoli. Mix everything together real good ‘n stuff, then crumble the croutons in their packets and sift out over the fray. Cover and bake at 350° for 30-45 minutes. Because I am some kind of elitist, apparently, about vegetable texture I can only give this 3 spoons. If you enjoy broccoli at this color and consistency, godspeed.

 

Palak Sweet Potatoes (or, “Literally Playing an Angle”)

In my pantry today:

  • 2 c cooked white beans
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 15 oz can Princella® Cut Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 c spinach (frozen from fresh)
  • 3 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 c vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp vegetable ghee
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp kala jeera
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 3 tsp hot curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1 tsp Greek seasoning

I have learned how to even more enormously enjoy Indian cooking over the last year or so, and now more often than not will choose rice as my default starch, not pasta. This knowledge does cause a gasp for me, but then I shake my head and continue eating whatever delicious food sits before me atop a pilaf.

This being said, I am untrained in most ways that might let me slide off the Cracker Train a stop or two before Racism City. Please keep in mind that I am fully aware of what a White American I am as you continue forth through my bastardization of a beautiful culture. And start your mustard seeds and onion warming in a cold pot to M.

After a minute or so of crackle-popping, mix the spinach and kala jeera in and once the spinach begins to wilt transfer the entire mess to the food processor with 1/2 c vegetable broth. Open the can of sweet potatoes and rinse them well (they’ll be sweet enough without any extra syrup) before tossing them, too, into the cut-em-up machine. Pulse until you’ve got a chunky paste then transfer back to the pot.

Over ML heat, add half the remainder of your seasonings and liquids. Stir. Add your cooked, drained beans, stir, then add in the remainder of the flavors. Let the sauce simmer on L for at least one hour (mine simmered on L for 5 hours before it was time to be ingested). When I asked my girlfriend how many spoons she’d give this, her answer was “4… maybe even 5.” I shook my head and staunchly thought, “3. The flavors were like a Showbiz Pizza ball-pen of shapes.

And then there was the follow up discussion about maybe letting people know that when I cook, it is by shapes. I figured that this blog had enough angles to it already (Food Stamps! Incurable Brain Disease! Lost 100 lbs! Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!) that throwing in the synaesthesia was a moot point. Synaesthesia… hold up, I’ll copy + paste from Wikipedia:

Recently, difficulties have been recognized in finding an adequate definition of synesthesia…

Crap, well. Here’s the meat of it for me: In terms of cooking, I generally go by the shape of things. I fancy each dish as a Kandinsky (also said to have had the -aesthesia) and the pieces and parts of it have to interact in perfect composition. Dr. Cytowic’s book “The Man Who Tasted Shapes” is an excellent study on this phenomenon, which I delight in as most synaesthetes present with the numbers and letters as colors thing.

Cytowic describes his chance encounter during a dinner party on February 10, 1980 with MW, the “Man Who Tasted Shapes.” Cytowic describes how his host reported that “There aren’t enough points on the chicken!”

Don’t feel bad if this makes absolutely no sense to you. I find that it does not to many people, whereas it it my only frame of reference. Has your sky always been blue? Mine has always been puce. Figuratively, I mean. I certainly suppose this is an important element to my cooking that isn’t well-publicized… but you can’t show that weird mole on your ass to every stranger, y’know? I’d rather be out and proud about my weight and discovering all the positive effects of food on health — there ain’t no food pyramid for spikes and circles and squares (“Oh, my!”).

Of course, I could make one… Hmm…

Hifalutin Frito Pie (or, “You Put What in There?”)

In my pantry today:

  • 1 c leftover meatless meaty chili
  • 2 c broken Fritos®
  • 1 c cheddar cheese
  • 1 c cooked rice
  • 12-20 stems of asparagus
  • 1/4 c chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp Taco Bell® seasoning envelope
  • sour cream as garnish

In an 8×8 casserole dish, layer rice with a few finely-crumbled Fritos® mixed in for entertainment value. Cut the fluffy tips from your asparagus about 1/4″ below their hairline and mince the three next inches down (I tossed the rest of these stems after this step as I am still investigating how to best use them). Set the asparagus tops aside and sprinkle the rice with 1/4 c cheese and minced asparagus stems. Layer on your leftover chili. At this point you might see that there is no “right” way to be layering all this noise, so be creative! I tossed the asparagus tops in the chili pan dregs with a little Taco Bell® seasoning and mixed them with more well-crushed Fritos®. On top of that I layered 3/4 c cheddar cheese and topped with more Fritos® and some fresh cilantro. Cook the covered dish for 15-20m in an oven preheated to 400° and serve with a dollop of sour cream.

This might’ve gotten more spoons were the Fritos® not chewy upon reveal, as that is not a texture I anticipated or enjoy as garbled surprise in my end result. Whatever led me to believe in the magical crunch-retaining power of anything roasted under a foil cover? 3 spoons anyway.

Meaty Meatless Chili

In my pantry today:

  • 1 12 oz  package Yves Meatless Ground
  • 1 c cooked black beans
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp safflower oil
  • 2 14.5 oz cans petite deiced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can corn, drained
  • 1 envelope Taco Bell® seasoning
  • 1 envelope Taco Bell® sauce
  • 1 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida
  • shredded cheese and sour cream to garnish

I am admittedly wary of meat substitutes — not tofu, really, but the ones that market themselves as “OMIGOD JUST LIKE MEAT.” I don’t know how they’re necessarily an ideological comrade to the whole “not eating meat” thing. Aren’t they an admittance to the need or desire for meat in one’s diet, and wouldn’t that be a terrible counterpoint for vegetarians to make for themselves? The very existence of Pretend Animal Flesh seems to strain the argument for meatless living. I could be over-thinking this, and maybe because of that I’ve given this fake ground round a temporary reprieve by seasoning it to hell and back via Taco Bell®’s special blend. In this very special case, cloaking something new and bewildering in the familiar CanCoverUp style of a Fast Food restaurant was precisely the way to go.

Start onion and safflower oil out in a cold pan heating to M. After it’s solidly at full heat, add the Fake-Ums and stir with about 1/4 of the seasoning packet and all of the “salsa” (now, I had these things leftover from when I could only find tortillas in the various taco kits at the store). Add everything else, stirring in another 1/2 packet with all the ingredients. Add the hot red chili powder. Stir, let cook on L for a while then serve with cheese and sour cream. If it entertains you, think of making the dairy topping an insult to the meatless meat. 4 spoons!