Monthly Archives: April 2013

Saveur Food Blog Award Winners

Post from Thug Kitchen. Photo credit: Thug Kitchen

Post from Thug Kitchen. Photo credit: Thug Kitchen

Saveur just chose it’s top food blogs 2013!

Every year they give awards to the food blogs that have the best… anything! This year I was very surprised and happy to see that the best NEW food blog is… Karla’s and my favorite: THUG KITCHEN! It’s a great blog and you should check it out, if you haven’t already.

Some of my other favorites were there too! Not Without Salt got Best Food Blog, and Spoon Fork Bacon was a runner up (SFB is totally my favorite!) Green Kitchen Stories did well too.

Add all these awesome blogs to your RSS feed!

Advertisement

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs & Books

Country-style Ratatoullie alla Genovese

IMG_1612

I’m sorry about my last post being just a multitude of pictures without any real explanation. I just get so excited by all the wonderful fresh produce in season, and farms, and farmer’s markets popping up that I get a little picture crazy. To me, one of the wonderful things about really fresh, just-picked produce, is that you can experiment a little with it.. the key being not to go overboard and let its true taste shine through. This is why I’ve come up with very few new recipes lately, and gone more for simplicity; letting the vegetables be the stars. Like in my Strawberry, goat cheese, and pistachio salad with walnut thyme vinaigrette or my Vine ripe tomatoes with basil and chevre. Its true you don’t need complicated recipes to make food taste great, which I’m reminded of as I’ve been reading Alice Waters’s biography: Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, which by the way I definitely recommend to any foodie or person interested in how this local food movement got stated–all right here in San Francisco (Berkeley, actually).

Alice Water’s life and vision come alive in this book. Highly recommend!

But before you go searching for that in your local library…try this recipe. Yes, its a recipe, but also lets fresh veggies shine their brightest in a unison of rich flavors. This is a heartier dish, to be served with rice, thick country bread, any white fish (monkfish, halibut, flounder), or on its own sprinkled with some good parmesan or pecorino romano. Unlike some more typical versions of ratatioullie that call for an hour in the oven (you know I’m hesitant of heating my apartment while its 85 degrees outside), this is a stovetop ratatouille. Nothing fancy about it, but the result is something so homey, rich and delicious… you’ll forget your just eating vegetables.

After my most recent trip to the farmer’s market, I somehow got saddled with 3 lbs of vine ripened tomatoes, 6 baby zucchini, and a giant bunch of Genovese basil. So to use it all up, I made a big batch of ratatouille and saved it (for 3 days!) and ate it for lunch or dinner. I would definitely throw in some eggplant and yellow squash if you have it on hand. I like to leave everything in big chunks so the flavors dont completely blend together and it gets mushy. This way each vegetables holds up and at the end you can really appreciate and taste each one for what it is.

If you want a more refined ratatoullie recipe for a dinner party or just to try out your mandoline skills, like the one in the movie Ratatoullie (Remy’s recipes), click here for a recipe from Smitten Kitchen. It has all the same ingredients and flavor, just a different look.

IMG_1628

Country-style Ratatoullie alla Genovese

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 7-10 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
  • 2-3 lbs vine ripened tomatoes, halved or whole if small*
  • 6 baby zucchini or 3 large zucchini, cut into thick rounds
  • (Italian eggplant or yellow squash of you have them, cut into large chunks)
  • 1/4 lb baby carrots or carrots cut into thick rounds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 pinches kosher salt
  • 2 handfuls fresh Genovese basil leaves, rinsed
  • 1/2 can cooked garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Coarse black pepper & sea salt, to taste
  • Grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, for serving

IMG_1605

1. Add the olive oil, onion, and whole garlic cloves to a deep sided fry pan or dutch oven over medium heat. Stir until translucent, about 2-3 minutes, but do not brown. Add your tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, squash and/or eggplant to the pan and stir occasionally for the first few minutes until juices start to release. Add the bay leaf, kosher salt, and stir.  IMG_1608

2. As the juices begin to simmer, add a sprig of thyme on top, cover pan, and let simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes (or until all veggies are cooked through, but not mushy). Remove thyme sprig. Let cool for 7 minutes with lid off then stir in basil leaves.

IMG_1614

3. Let sit until just warm and stir in garbanzo beans, balsamic, thyme (leaves only), and salt and fresh pepper to taste.** Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese, by itself or with one of the suggestions below.

Serve with thick country bread drizzled with olive oil and a pinch of salt, fresh pasta, brown rice, or simply prepared chicken or white fish.  The beauty of this dish is in its simplicity so don’t overdo it.

IMG_1630

*make sure your tomatoes are ripe, smell fragrant and sweet, and give them a good wash

**The reason for all the cooking times and waiting at the end is so that the stronger flavors of the herbs and vinegar do not overpower the delicate flavors of the vegetables (which they would if cooked too long). You also want to make sure the beans stay firm, so adding them at the end is important.

I imagine this dish would be served in the countryside in Italy as a no-frills, home-cooked and family-style dish with only the freshest of ingredients (hence the name). That was my inspiration and from Alice who is always reminding us to let things taste as they are– and not to fuss too much. Hopefully you find this meal as warm and comforting as I did, for three days in a row. Here’s so happy and simple eating! Boun Appetito.

IMG_1632

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs & Books, Local, Main Dishes, Seasonal, Sides, Vegetarian

Urban Gardening and My Basil Plant

image

Happy Monday!

This weekend, I went to a workshop on urban gardening! Living in the middle of the city, I don’t have a lot of space to garden, but it was great learning about how easy it is to grow your own food and maintain herbs and vegetables inside your own home. We learned about garden mapping – how to plant different vegetables together in the most mutually beneficial way, and about how to start and maintain anything from a window unit to a community garden plot.

My personal favorite part of the workshop was putting together our own newspaper pots. It’s a great way to start new seedings. You can start the plant in the newspaper pot and then replant it, newspaper and all, into its more permanent home. I planted some marigolds, since the other seeds they have were for vegetables a little too big for my windows. Here are some pictures from the workshop:

photo

image_1

image_2

image_3

The one plant I do have at home, other than my little marigold seedlings, is my basil plant. Bill bought it for me last year for our anniversary. He knew I wanted to start a little outdoor garden, so he bought me two kinds of basil and a tomato plant. The tomato plant was a little more trouble than it was worth, but the basil plant – oh my god. It’s been pretty fantastic. First of all, basil costs way too much. If you find yourself cooking with basil often, you should have a basil plant. Ours has lasted through the winter inside, and is absolutely thriving. I took this picture after a serious harvesting last week:

image_4

This baby makes a lot of pesto.

Which brings me to this recipe! Despite the fact that it looked like a beautiful weekend outside this weekend, it was SO COLD. On Friday night, it SNOWED. It’s almost May. This is insane. So, we decided to make some really decadent, wintery food. Meet Creamy Pesto Gnocchi. I went to a lovely Italian market a few weeks ago and picked up some pretty perfect looking imported gnocchi, so this meal was pretty simple. If you would like to make your own gnocchi, DO IT! It’s really simple and very rewarding when you bite into the pillowy fluffy goodness that is homemade gnocchi. Smitten Kitchen has a particularly good recipe: click here!

image_6

Creamy Pesto Gnocchi

Ingredients:
Basil
Pine Nuts
Parmesan Cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Garlic
Salt
Pepper
Heavy (whipping) cream

Gnocchi

Chopped cherry tomatoes (to garnish)

I didn’t put amounts on anything, because this is all about taste and desired level of creaminess. Also, feel free to use some greek yogurt with the cream, if you want a lighter, healthier version. Here is my general recipe: Throw about three packed handfulls of basil, one handfull of pine nuts, two to three inches off a wedge of parmesan cheese (cut in a few smaller pieces), two or three glugs of olive oil, two cloves of garlic, and salt and pepper to taste into the bowl of a food processor. Process on high until the mixture looks like a light green paste.

In a heavy pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add gnocchi and cook on medium-high until the gnocchi float. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat up ~1/2 cup cream in a saucepan, stirring often. Once it’s steaming, stir in the pesto. Let the two meld for a minute or two. Add the cooked gnocchi and stir to coat.

Serve with some chopped tomatoes for a light garnish.

Creamy Pesto Gnocchi

Creamy Pesto Gnocchi

2 Comments

Filed under Vegetarian

Sticking to the Season: Farmer’s Market Madness!

Happy Dairy Cows at Deer Hollow Farm

Happy Dairy Cows at Deer Hollow Farm

Hey Lauren, I know it’s a little weird because what’s in season for me over in California has not yet reached the Mid-west. I’ve been going to farmers markets here, and I’m still blown away by the variety of fresh local produce that is already here! To give you an idea:

  • Strawberries
  • Asparagus
  • Rhubarb
  • Artichokes
  • Fava beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Spring peas
  • Green garlic
  • Spring onions
  • Oranges
  • Fennel
  • Kohlrabi
  • Nettles
  • Lettuce, mustard greens, arugula & spinach
  • Radishes
  • Herbs: basil, chamomile, mint, lavender, rose geranium, thyme
  • And much more….
My finds at the April farmers market in San Jose

My finds at the April farmers market in San Jose

IMG_1592

Tropical mint green tea

IMG_1591

Strawberry, goat cheese, and pistachio salad with walnut thyme vinaigrette

IMG_1587

Strawberry, goat cheese, and pistachio salad with walnut thyme vinaigrette

IMG_1562

Farmer’s fava beans

IMG_1577

Succulent strawberries and local walnuts

IMG_1574

Vine ripe tomatoes with basil and chevre

IMG_1572

Eating whole tomatoes with basil and chevre

IMG_1567

Fragrant basil bunch

Farm stand wildflower honey and strawberries

Farm stand wildflower honey and strawberries

Mint from my windowsill

Mint from my windowsill

Radishes from SMIP farm

Radishes from SMIP farm

Free range happy cows

Free range happy cows

Farmers market on Skyline

Farmers market on Skyline

Local Vendors

Local Vendors

My window garden

My window garden

New growth from my windowsill garden!

New growth from my windowsill garden!

1 Comment

Filed under Local, On Food, Seasonal

The Everything Cookie

 

IMG_1438

Just like you have an everything bagel, welcome to the everything cookie. More of the good stuff, less of the not-so-good stuff. These are not your typical flour, butter, sugar cookies. Because let’s face it, as delicious as they can be, who wants to be eating that? No, these little gems are great afternoon pick-me ups and have plenty of fiber and protein to boot. Better yet, you can make them with anything you have in your pantry… throw in any variety of nut, seed, dried fruit, you name it. And don’t forget the nut butter.. that’s the glue and what holds these together.

IMG_1447

The Everything Cookie (& Gluten Free)

1/2 cup coconut oil (or 1/4 cup butter at room temp)

3/4 cup agave nectar

1/4 cup brown sugar (optional, or add more agave)

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1 cup peanut butter

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup nuts (chopped walnuts, whole cashews, pistachios)

1/4 cup dried fruit or seeds (dried cranberries, blueberries, chia seeds, sunflower seeds)

Preheat oven to 350. Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan. In a large bowl, combine the coconut oil (or 1/4 cup butter), agave, brown sugar, and butter and beat with a mixer until light and creamy. Add eggs, vanilla, and baking soda, and mix well with a spatula. Add the peanut butter and fold in until fully incorporated. Stir in oats, chocolate, nuts, fruit and/or seeds. Place a rounded teaspoon of dough on lightly greased cookie sheets about 1-2 inches apart. Bake 9-10 minutes until lightly brown around edges for soft cookies (and leave in for 2 more minutes of you like them crispy).

1. Whisk oil (or butter) and sugarsIMG_1422

2. Add eggs, vanilla, & baking powderIMG_1424

3. Mix in Peanut butterIMG_1428

4. Mix in oatsIMG_1431

5. Mix in Nuts & seedsIMG_1434
6. Mix in chocolateIMG_1438

7. Spoon onto tray (1 tsp)IMG_1444

IMG_1445

8. Bake 9-10 minIMG_1448

9. Enjoy as dessert… or…IMG_1489

10. Give to friends!IMG_1453

Makes about 48 cookies, so you’ll have to share! I packed them up for my friends at the farm, my sweetheart, and my Stanford friend. Raving reviews from all! Hope you enjoy them too!

2 Comments

Filed under Desserts

Fresh herbs: Mustard greens with strawberry, thyme, and goat cheese & herb tea

IMG_1486

Yesterday I began my first day of class at Stanford! Its called the Ecology of Cuisine: Food, Nutrition and the Evolution of the Human Diet. We went on a walk through campus foraging and taking a look at different varieties of plants, fruits, and edibles that are available in our immediate environment. We went to the cactus garden (pic), the edible garden and walked through the Main Quad. We found California wild flowers, chestnuts, currants, elderberries, kumquats, persimmons, avocados, and tons of fresh herbs! I picked bay leaves off trees and tucked some fresh sage into my bag. Sweet.

IMG_1463

IMG_1465

Cactus garden at Stanford

Later that afternoon, I went back to SMIP farm for a few hours to help out with transplanting, weeding, and shoveling compost. I brought Mary some homemade gluten free cookies (next blog post) and they sent me home with tons of fresh herbs. I was out there with a knife picking handfuls of wild lavender, bunches of chamomile, fresh thyme (with those lovely purple flowers, see first pic), rose geranium (which smells like perfume), and 3 different kinds of mint: spearmint, bergamot mint, and yes, CHOCOLATE mint!

IMG_1472

I love fresh herbs, but they are always so expensive to buy in the store and their flavor and freshness die out so quickly, that it is hardly worth it. Buying this abundance of herbs would have cost me over $40 in the store, but just foraging and having friends, I got my delicious herbs a gratis. So go out and forage, or grow your own at home (I have oregano, parsley, mint, and rosemary plants)…your wallet, health and taste buds will thank you!

Herb tea was the perfect thing to unwind at the end of the day yesterday. I combined fresh mint, chamomile (stems an pods), rose geranium, and a strawberry to make a very light soothing tea. These herbs all have great healing properties too.

Strawberry Herb Tea

A few Mint leaves

A branch of Chamomile, leaves a pods

A Rose geranium flower

A few slices of a sweet, ripe strawberry

Rinse all your herbs and fruit. Bring a pot of water to boil. Reduce to a simmer and add all the herbs. Stir and let simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add strawberry in the last minute. Turn off, let cool slightly and strain into tea cups. Add ice for a hot afternoon iced tea (or infuse water with herbs, strawberry, and lemon in the sun– sun tea!).

 

IMG_1484

Mustard Greens with Strawberries, Thyme, and Goat Cheese

Bunch of fresh mustard greens, rinsed and chopped into 1-1/2 in pieces

Sweet ripe strawberries, quartered

Olives (black or kalamata), halved

Juice of a lemon

Extra virgin olive oil

Goat cheese

Fresh thyme sprigs, remove stem

Sea salt

Optional: toasted pistachios or almonds

Place greens in a large salad bowl and add strawberries, olives, EVOO, lemon juice and salt. Toss to combine. Add fresh thyme to the goat cheese in a separate bowl and stir to combine. Crumble herbed goat cheese on top of salad and add toasted pistachios or other nuts if desired. Serve with freshly ground black pepper.

xox

Happy picking!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Drinks, Salads

Boston Marathon Tragedy

boston-skyline

I don’t know if this has come across much in this blog, but Karla and I are both from Boston, so yesterday’s bombings have left us feeling shaken and sad. We have seen the Boston Marathon numerous times, we go to church on that very same street corner, and grew up in the neighborhood.

Thankfully everyone we know is safe and sound, and most of them were able to get home last night, but I think I speak for Karla too when I say, our hearts are heavy today, but we’re very proud to be Bostonians.

 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/erinlarosa/boston-marathon-tragedy-met-with-amazing-acts-of-kindness

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Indian Food Feast, Part 2: Chana Paneer and Aloo Palak

(For how to make Paneer, see Part 1)

photo
So, Karla! Before I dive into this awesome recipe, I just wanted to note how clear it is that you live in California, and I live in Chicago. All your recipes are sunny and light, since you’re already well into the spring, whereas Chicago is definitely not quite there yet. Have I mentioned that 30-something and raining is the BEST weather? Thank you, weather gods.

While you’re going Paleo, I can’t stop thinking about heavy soups, curries, cheese, etc. Oh well. I guess I’ll get into the summer mentality eventually.

Regardless, next time you have a chilly, rainy night, this stuff is sure to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. To round out our Indian food feast, Beata and I decided to make Chana Paneer (Cheese with Chickpeas) and Aloo Palak (Potatoes with Spinach.) The Chana Paneer was great (the chickpeas are so silky, oh my god…) but I have to say, I LOVED the simplicity of the Aloo Palak. The potatoes cooked up in no time, the spices were simple and tasty, and curry spinach will get me every time. It’s such a flavor blast! I felt the same way with the spinach in the Moghalai Chicken.

Ok, so without further ado… our menu. First, you have to start with a spice blend. Just about all curries require some sort of garam masala to start. What I didn’t anticipate at first is how many DIFFERENT garam masalas there are! This one is fennel based.

Spice Blend

Spice Blend

Balti Masala (Fennel-Flavored Toasted Spice Blend)

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds from black pods
1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds
3 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks (each ~3in. long), broken into smaller pieces
2 teaspoons cayenne (ground red pepper)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Preheat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add all the whole spices (reserving the cayenne, nutmeg, and any ground substitutes you may have to use.) Toast, shaking the skillet every few seconds, until they become highly fragrant and browned, 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Immediately transfer the nutty-smelling spices to a plate to cool. (The longer they sit in the hot skillet, the more likely it is that they will burn, making them bitter and unpalatable.) Once they are cool to the touch, place them in a spice grinder or coffee grinder, and grind until the texture resembles that of finely ground black pepper. (If you don’t allow the spices to cool, the ground blend will acquire unwanted moisture from the heat, making the final blend slightly “cakey.”) The ground blend will be a deep reddish brown and the arome will be sweet and complex, very different from those of the pre-toasted and post-toasted whole spices. Stir in the cayenne and nutmeg.

3. Store the mix in a tightly sealed container, away from excess light, heat, and humidity, for up to 2 months. (In my opinion, refrigerating the blend adversely affects its flavors.

So, once you have your spice blend all set, or maybe even while it is cooling, you can start the curries. Each one requires a good amount of attention, although they’re relatively quick to put together. You can do them in whichever order you’d like.

image_1

Aloo Palak

ALOO PALAK (Chunky Potatoes with Spinach)
from 660 Curries

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 pound russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes, and submerged in a bowl of cold water to prevent browning
2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
8 ounces fresh spinach leaves, well rinsed and coarsely chopped
1 cup shredded fresh coconut; or 1/2 cup shredded dried unsweetened coconut, reconstituted. (To reconstitute: cover with 1/2 cup boiling water and set aside for 15 minutes, drain.)
8 to 10 fresh green Thai, cayenne or serrano chiles, to taste, stems removed, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices (do not remove the seeds)
10 medium-size to large fresh curry leaves

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds, cover the pan, and cook until the seeds have stopped popping (not unlike popcorn), about 30 seconds. Sprinkle in the cumin seeds and cook until they sizzle and turn reddish brown, about 5 seconds. Add the turmeric, which will immediately turn the oil yellow. Then pour in 1 cup water, which will instantly boil.

2. Drain the potatoes, and add them to the pan along with the salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are fork-tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Pile the spinach into the pan, cover it, and let the spinach wilt, about 2 minutes. Then add the coconut, chiles and curry leaves. Stir, and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is warmed through, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve.

image_3

Chana Paneer

CHANA PANEER (Chickpeas with Pan-fried Cheese)
from 660 Curries

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1 or 2 fresh green  Thai, cayenne or serrano chiles, stems removed
1 large tomato, cored and finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon balti masala (see below)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
8 ounces paneer
1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems for garnishing

1. Heat the oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they sizzle, turn reddish brown, and smell fragrant, 5 to 10 seconds. Add the onion and chiles and stir-fry until the onion is light brown around the edges, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Stir in the tomato, salt, masala, and turmeric. Lower the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the tomato softens, about 3 minutes.

3. Add the chickpeas and 1 cup water. Bring the curry to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

4. Fold in the paneer and the cream, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the cheese and cream are warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes.

5. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

1 Comment

Filed under Vegetarian

Coconut curry eggplant with roasted cashews

IMG_1380

What should you do with eggplant? MAKE THIS DISH. The same question popped into my head when I was grabbing this deep purple aubergine from the farmers market. I didn’t know what I was going to make, but I knew this little baby was going home with me. Although baked eggplant is one of my favorites, I don’t really like the thought of heating my oven (and so my apartment) for at least 40 minutes to an hour, especially during these warmer months. So I sliced this sucker, threw it on the grill pan with a little olive oil and salt (Isnt this how all great dishes begin?). I browned both sides, threw in some curry powder, a can of coconut milk, and let this simmer for a bit. To be honest, I forgot about it.

After 15-20 minutes I realized the stovetop was still on and ran over to check on my eggplant– they were nearly falling apart and my eggplant rounds were unrecognizable. I scrapped this soupy concoction out of the pan and into a bowl and decided to just go with it. Maybe this could be like Indian Baba-ganoush? I added shredded coconut to give it some more texture and toasted some cashews to put on the side.

The result– perfection. This little eggplant turned into this soft succulent, creamy yummy deliciousness. I love experimenting in the kitchen.. sometimes it works out great, sometimes no as I’d hoped, and sometimes I discover my favorite dishes. This is now one of them. I’m still not sure of the best way to eat it (I just gobbled it up plain before I could even think of what to eat with it), but I know it would go insanely well with the homemade paneer recipe Lauren just posted. So experiment, and hopefully you will find this recipe as yummy as I do. Happy cooking!

IMG_1378

Coconut curry eggplant with roasted cashews

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 can (14 fl oz) coconut milk or light coconut milk
  • 3 tsp curry powder (or a mix of cumin, turmeric, coriander, cardamom, and saffron)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup  shredded coconut*
  • Whole unsalted raw cashews
  • Optional garnish: mint, lime
  1. Cut eggplant into rounds, 1/2 inch thick. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil on med/high heat and add eggplant to pan. Brown both sides, about 3 minutes each.
  2. Add coconut milk, curry powder and stir. Cover, lower heat to med/low, and simmer 15-20 minutes until very soft and falling apart. Tranfser to bowl. Stir and break up chunks with a fork then let cool.

IMG_1389

  1. Toast cashews on a small saute pan. Keep an eye on it and stir/shake every minute or two.
  2. Add shredded coconut to eggplant and stir until combined. Serve with toasted cashews on top, a few mint sprigs, and lemon or lime on the side.

*you can use unsweetened or sweetened coconut, depending on your taste or what you are serving it with. I used trader joe’s sweetened coconut and it was delicious!

IMG_1387

I think this dish is perfectly balanced with the spice from the curry powder and pepper, the sweetness of the coconut, and the tartness of the lime and mint leaves. The nuts also lend a nice buttery flavor and toasty smell. So eat up!

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Sides

Indian Food Feast, Part 1: Paneer

The whole feast: Chana Paneer, Aloo Saag, Basmati Rice, and Naan.

The whole feast: Chana Paneer, Aloo Saag, Basmati Rice, and Naan.

So, last week, my friend and ex-roommate, Beata, came over and we made an Indian feast with my new cookbook, 660 Curries. Beata and I used to order this terrible awesome Indian food when we lived together at the University, and since then we have been to a number of Indian foods in our quest to never go to the same restaurant twice. (Restaurant club–long story.)

Anyways, as soon as I realized that 660 curries was the treasure trove I thought it was, I knew I had to have Beata over for some Indian food. We decided to make a couple of curries that we had already heard of, you know, just to compare it to what you would get in a restaurant. It was an interesting experiment, and everything was delicious.

One of the most amazing things about our dinner was that we made Paneer, from scratch! Making cheese always sounds like a pain, but I’m here to tell you, Karla, and everyone else, that you should never buy Paneer. It’s SO EASY TO MAKE!

So here goes: for step 1 of my series on our amazing Indian dinner, Paneer!

Paneer
This is technically from 660 Curries, but I’ve found the same recipe just about everywhere, so I’m just going to say, this is how it’s done!

Ingredients:1 gallon of whole milk
1/4 cup of vinegar

Suppliescheesecloth
a colandar
a large heavy pot

Step 1: Put the gallon of whole milk in your heavy pot and bring just to a boil

Step 2: As soon as your milk comes to a boil, turn off the heat and stir in 1/4 cup vinegar. The milk will instantly separate into curds and whey (cool, right?) Don’t panic! The curds look like floating bits of cottage cheese, and the whey is pale GREEN. This is completely normal. (Note: If only about half your milk separates, add a little more vinegar. I had to add an extra tablespoon or so before it all separated.) It will look like this:

Curds and Whey

Curds and Whey

Step 3: Line a colander with two layers of cheesecloth. Make sure the cheesecloth is large enough to hang over the edges of the colander a bit. You’ll be folding it over the top of the cheese in a second.

Step 4: Pour the curds and whey into the colander. The curds will get trapped and the whey will go right through the cheesecloth. Discard the whey. It will look like this:

image_1

Strained curds

Step 5: Now, fold your cheesecloth over the top of the curds and weigh it down with a heavy pot full of water. You don’t have to press the curds down at all; time and gravity will do that. Leave the pot on the curds for 3 to 5 hours. It doesn’t have to be refrigerated or anything. Just let it sit on the counter (maybe with a larger bowl underneath.) The remaining whey will strain out, and the curds will come together.

Step 6: After the 3 to 5 hours, remove the pot and uncover your cheese! You will find that the crumbly curds have become one whole. Unwrap it and discard or wash your cheesecloth. Wrap your cheese in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. Ta da!

Finished Paneer (Cheese)

Finished Paneer (Cheese)

Next time: What to do with that Paneer!

4 Comments

Filed under Vegetarian