Monthly Archives: May 2012

Caramelized Vidalia Onion and Beets

In my pantry today:

  • 2 c cooked chana dal
  • 2 tbsp butter (or vegetable ghee for a vegan option)
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion
  • 5 small beets
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp hot curry powder
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 2 c cooked Basmati rice

Looking for a clever side dish to take to your next potluck or family gathering? This is a wow-worthy side that takes no casserole foundations you’ve ever heard of. Slice onion kinda (but not obnoxiously) thin. Dice roasted, peeled beets into 1/4″ cubes. Start melting your butter on it’s journey to M, then add onions; toss and cook for 6-8m. Add sugar and vinegar to pan, stir and reduce heat to L until the onions begin to caramelize (15-25m). Add beets and stir together with water. Bring burner back to M and keep pan contents on its toes for a minute or two. Add garlic; stir. Add 1 c milk and remainder of seasonings and let come back to a boil for about 2m. Smash your beets as well as possible without burning yourself or making a huge mess that’ll never come out. Add remaining 2 c of milk slowly, stirring all the while. Then, and only then, add in your cooked split chickpeas. Bring the pan back to a boil on M, then cover and reduce heat to L for 20m.

The reason why this makes a better side dish than entree was only discovered this afternoon as we both paused halfway through our bowls from both the sweetness and the richness of that sweetness. It is a visually impressive dish with a delectable tapestry of flavors… but when sweet overpowers curry, you know something needs sidelining. This, fortunately, is a dry enough sauce that it is perfect for mixing in with cooked rice or for layering on top in a casserole dish. 5 spoons as an accent piece, 3 as an entree.

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Butter Just Got Better

In my pantry today:

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/3 c light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp orange extract

Have you happened to have tried the newly offered sweet potato from Wendy’s®? It has had me fall in love with sweet potatoes again — partly for their creamy well-baked texture, but largely-er partly to the spread that accompanies them. I spent a good deal of time thinking about making a copycat version — to get it wrong would be an anti-climactic foray into buttertown, but to get it right would be to be able to move away from the mystery spread base from the fast food window. The experiment created a version much like the one at Wendy’s®, but with straight-up from the cow butter. Cream together all of the above, adjusting each ingredient to your taste if warranted, and tell me I’m wrong. 5 spoons, yo!

 

 

Another Fun Sauce Served Over Rice! With Kidney Beans!

  • 1.5 c cooked kidney beans
  • 6 blanched tomatoes
  • 6 oz coconut milk
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 medium Vidalia onion
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp kala jeera
  • 1 tbsp hot curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 sprig basil (optional)

I never mean to start out with a list of ingredients wildly at odds with my socioeconomic standing. There are a lot of staples in the cupboard, and staples for me are the items you’ll see repeated — garlic, onions, curry, hot chili or cayenne pepper, different cooking oils. I find that maintaining a foundation of things like these makes making tasty meals possible on a budget… but it can force me into ruts. You all know I like sauces that go over rice — ah, but I am so much more!

…I say this as I go into another sauce/rice recipe, of course, but my intentions with it are good! I have just learned how to blanch tomatoes and I was hot to do another batch. In familiar tradition, these blanched and diced and drained tomatoes became another sauce. Their journey, however, was a noble one.

After blanching, dicing and draining off the more watery tomato juice, add your tomatoes (about 3c diced) to a pan that’s had garlic, onion, mustard seeds and kala jeera simmering in its oil foundation on [heat to M then reduce to ML after 5m] for a good 20-30m. Add remaining seasonings and stir, let come to a boil on M and keep it in ML-M uncovered for an hour or so — until everything has thickened. Remove from heat and let cool a little before pouring into the food processor. Pulse until smooth then return to the pan, this time with a little coconut milk and lime juice. Mix everything together well as you fold in the beans, then top with a sprig of basil and cover. Turn heat back to M and let it steam for just a minute or two before serving over Basmati rice. 4 spoons!

Barley Bride all in White (or, “Flavor for Fatigue”)

In my pantry today:

  • 1 c barley, uncooked
  • 1 c frozen(-from fresh) spinach
  • 3/4 c ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 c shredded mozzerella
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 medium Vidalia onion
  • 4 leaves basil
  • 2 tbsp Greek seasoning
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida

So I’ve hit my head pretty hard at least five times this week from my own dysmetric clumsiness, the piece de resistance having happened last night with a hammock. Were video to have been taken, I would be wildly viral right now; instead I have to be the person who nobody witnessed being flipped upside down like a bad carnival ride. This morning the headache remained, along with blurry vision most likely due to a little trauma to my occipital lobe… but other than that I meet no criteria for a true concussion. Regardless, still gotta eat, right?

This will be a nice single-dish meal for the confused and lethargic amongst us. The barley experiment from a day or two ago was both the flavor and ease inspiration. Start the event with mincing your garlic and onion as finely as possible and throw them in an oiled pot warming to M; once it reaches full temp reduce to ML and let simmer. Mix water with turmeric and 1.75 tbsp of Greek seasoning, mix in uncooked barley and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to L and walk away for 15m. In that little window, mince spinach and basil as finely as possible and add to the oil when onions look translucent. Mix well and let that simmer for another 15m. When the barley is a moment from completion, take from heat and add ricotta cheese. Stir until a creamy sauce tenderly holds each pearl of barley. Top with mozzerella and Parmesan, then cover the pot and return it to your off burner until the cheeses melt. 4 spoons!

Shakarkand Curry (or “A Shakarkand a Priest Walk Into a Bar…”)

In my pantry today:

  • 1.5 c lentils
  • 1 large sweet potato, baked
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion
  • 1 14.5 oz can [chicken or vegetable] broth
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp safflower oil
  • 1/2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp cashew butter
  • 1 tbsp ground brown flax
  • 2 tsp yellow curry
  • 1 tsp hot curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida

So I’ve been roasting sweet potatoes at will lately — I hate that I’m inspired by anything a fast food chain does, but I can’t help but be by the sweet buttery spread that accompanies one of these “Signature Sides” from Wendy’s®. I’ve duplicated — nay, improved upon — their formula and that recipe is forthcoming. But back to the copious number of baked sweet potatoes in my refrigerator.

This one is gonna be a not-sinful-dessert-or-sometimes-meal option. It’ll be a curry! We’re gonna take the soft already-baked pulp out of the skin and set it aside. Start your minced onion and garlic in your oils warming to M. When full heat is reached, reduce to ML and let them cook until the onions become translucent. At that point, add your sweet potato and mash it into the pan. Add seasonings and flax and continue mashing. Once you feel good and smash-happy, add the broth slowly and dial it back to a more gentle pulverization. Once it’s a happy family, let simmer on M for just a minute then slowly stir in your lentils. Let the whole mess simmer together for 15-45m before serving over Basmati rice. 5 spoons!

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Hot and Nutty Broccoli

In my pantry today:

  • 1 c homemade fruit jam
  • 1 bag frozen broccoli
  • 1/2 c dry roasted peanuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 sm Vidalia onion
  • 1 tbsp safflower oil
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp cashew butter
  • 1 packet onion gravy mix
  • 1 c water
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1.5 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida

Let’s start off with a disclaimer: frozen broccoli is gross. To me. Because I am a weird elitist about the small things over which I still have control. I am not ashamed to say that I like my vegetables fresh, with that semblance of a life once lived. Ok.

As routine suggests, start out your diced onion, garlic and mustard seeds out in both oils warming to M. Mix hot red chili powder, turmeric, cumin and asafoetida into your jam and set aside. When mustard seeds begin popping add in peanuts and stir fry for a moment, then melt in your jam and cashew butter. Stir gravy packet with water and add in as the whole pan comes back to a low boil. Dump in frozen broccoli, cover and wait for the frozen bastards to come back to life. Only to die once more, leaving your teeth yearning for vegetable blood. Stir it all together and serve immediately over rice or let sit for up to an hour. This is a 5 spoon meal that frozen broccoli takes down to a 3. I will shake my fist at the sky and try again.

 

Double Feature: Basil, Beets and Barley (or, “Wait, That’s Three Things.”)

In my pantry today:

  • 5 small beets, baked and peeled
  • 3 c cooked barley
  • 1 c goat cheese
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 c fresh basil
  • 1 c fresh spinach
  • 1/2 c radish microgreens
  • 1 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6-8 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 small Vidalia onion

I think I’m finally getting the hang of our CSA weekly bundles. I’ve got four days until the next pickup and only 1 tomato, 1 head of kale, 5 beets and 7 carrots left before Tuesday. This is a vast improvement over weeks prior, and I’ve yet to determine if this pace has worked. Check back after Tuesday.

I’ve also been hemming and hawing about the beets a little — they’re a new and foreign element to my kitchen, but I remind myself that that is not their fault. They may be the poor and huddled masses in my crisper drawer now, but social justice will catch up… hopefully riding the iron horse of deliciousness. I apparently made a 5 spoon issue out of it yesterday, sources report. Mince 4-6 (depending on size, y’know) cloves of garlic and 1/2 c basil in as teeny-tiny flakes as possible. Cream it with 1/2 c goat cheese and apply in neat balls to the top of chilled beet slices. I salt roasted these beets day before yesterday — cut off and reserve the greens, scrub the roots and place in a glass baking dish with a 1/2″ of salt in the bottom. Cover the dish and bake at 425° for 45 minutes to an hour. Let cool, peel and refrigerate for future beet use.

While you’ve got the garlic-mincing going, go ahead and dice up 2-4 cloves and 1/2 a Vidalia onion. Start your butter and oil warming to M in a cold pan with the garlic and onion. Once it reaches full heat, reduce to L and let cook for 15m or so — until your garlic crisps to golden brown and your onions are near caramelization. Using a slotted spatula or spoon, remove the crispy garlic and sweet onion; set aside. Return heat to M and mix in your barley. Once it’s well-coated, add your mixture of spinach, chopped basil and microgreens. Toss until the spinach becomes bright green, then add back the garlic and onion and continue mixing with a pinch or two of sea salt. When everything is warm together, add dollops of goat cheese and cover the pan. Serve in 5m. The onions will deliver sweet bites in the midst of garlic’s tasty reign, and goat cheese will apply a creamy reasoning to the entire argument. 5 spoons.

Poor Man’s Saag Aloo (or, “Just Beet it”)

In my pantry today:

  • 3 c beet greens
  • 1 large baking potato
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp kala jeera
  • 1/2 large Vidalia onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 c water
  • 2 tbsp ground brown flax
  • 4 tsp hot curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon

Drink enough coffee and you too can be inspired to experiment with aplumb! Well, with beet greens… we don’t get actual plums from our CSA. I’ve never cooked with beets before, and had never even until recently been informed of the edible health contained in their greens. I bravely sallied forth having never cooked any type of greens before.

As with most good meals, start the marriage of oil and butter (vegetable ghee can be substituted for a vegan option) in a pan heating to ML. Once melted put in thinly sliced onion and garlic, mustard seeds and kala jeera. Let them simmer together for about 10m while you prepare your greens:

Thoroughly wash and dry the greens, then pick off bite size pieces from each leaf with a stout disregard for the stems. Set aside and turn your warm pan to M. Mix your water with flax, curry, cardamom, turmeric, asafoetida and cinnamon; once the mustard seeds begin popping stir in fistfuls of leaves until everything is coated and add the water mix. Bring to a boil on M then cover and let boil while you attend to the next step:

Peel your bigass potato and slice in 1/2″ rounds. Halve those rounds. Uncover the pan and add the undrained can of tomatoes; stir. Add the potatoes, ensuring everything is covered by liquid. Bring back to a boil then cover and let cook until the potatoes make you swoon with their delectable tenderness. This ended up being much more delicious than I’d even hoped and would have earned a glad 5 spoons if I didn’t feel like my work perfecting greens has only begun. So, because I need to keep my head in the game this can only earn 4 spoons.

Succulent Strawberries, Salad and Sauce

In my pantry today:

  • Rainbow salad with strawberry vinaigrette
  • Monday Marinara

To be fair, this is two days’ dinner in one lump sum; life is for the living, after all, and I have been doing a great deal of it lately. Yesterday I had to have several items meet their maker (through me rather than by nature’s wicked hand). I had just bought those strawberries and the next day showed why they had been on sale. Shelf life costs.

Rainbow salad:

  • 1 small head Butter lettuce
  • 4-5 leaves rainbow chard
  • 1 c quartered strawberries
  • 1 ear sweet white corn
  • 1 small tomato
  • 2 tbsp crushed walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp red hot chili powder

Take the corn off of the ear, raw, and mix with your crushed walnuts and red hot chili powder. Set aside. Chop everything to your personal liking; toss greens then layer on the corn/walnut mixture, tomatoes and strawberries. Top with…

Strawberry Vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 c pureed fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 c pomegranate red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

The remainder of the strawberries were not rotten but were also not pretty. What couldn’t you make with those suckers after a trip through the food processor? Put all the ingredients in a cruet and shake heartily until emulsification happens. 4 spoons!

Monday Marinara:

  • 4 medium ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 large Vidalia onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

And today there were four ripe-n-ready vine tomatoes on the counter that looked perfect to blanch. First thing was first; chop your onion and garlic and add to olive oil warming to ML in a large stove top vessel. While that’s doing it’s thing you’ll have time to blanch the tomatoes and dice up the skinless little goons. Sprinkle the naked chunks with salt and brown sugar then have them wait panside until the garlic begins to brown at the edges. Mix tomatoes in along with thyme, oregano and hot red chili powder. Let everything come to a boil and stir periodically for 10-15m. Reduce heat to L and let simmer until dinnertime. Ours was served over spinach tortellini and topped with Parmesan cheese. 4 spoons!

Whatchoo Palak’n About?

In my pantry today:

  • 1 c leftover Basmati rice
  • 1 c cooked quinoa
  • 3 c chpped fresh spinach
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp madras curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cardamon
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida

Ok, so this one’s pretty ugly too. Lets face it — most “sauce on rice” dishes, regardless of their flavor, can get a bit visually boring. This did start out, however, as a splendid phyonutrient calendar girl. Nothing’s pretty out of the food processor, so don’t you judge this little lady.

Start your onion, garlic and mustard seeds heating to M in ghee. Once the first crackle is heard from your mustard seeds, add the kala jeera and chopped spinach. Continue tossing the goods on M until your spinach begins to wilt. Add the drained tomatoes, mix, then let them all live together in a commandeering food processor for 5-10m. Halfway through the processing, add the remainder of your seasonings and turn it back on. When it’s at a consistency you like, pour back into a pot and keep on L until dinner. Mix your leftover rice with the half batch of quinoa you cooked just now and serve your sauce over it. Ring your plate with naan quarters. 4 spoons!