Author Archives: Lauren M.

Adobo Chicken Tacos

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All tacos all the time!

I think ours would be happy household if we made this every day. The words, “I don’t think I feel like tacos tonight” have never been uttered under our roof. That is partially due to these awesome Adobo Chicken Tacos.

Veggie tacos used to be our jam. Step 1. Go to the latin grocery store around the corner. Step 2. Buy lots of jalapenos and other veggies for nearly zero dollars. Step 3. Cook with spices and insert in tortilla. Step 4. Enjoy. It was a nearly perfect process. Cheap and easy, fast and delicious. But that process was ruined – RUINED – when we received the  June 2012 Bon Appetit.

The June 2012 Bon Appetit is a very special Bon Appetit. It is the one with the salmon on the cover, but inside the is a huge TACO SECTION. There are pork tacos, beef tacos, chicken tacos, poblano tacos (which will require their own post at a later date) and SHRIMP TACOS!

(If you know me at all, you know that this is all highly suspect. I don’t eat anything that ever lived in the sea… so a Salmon Bon Appetit and Shrimp taco recipe should be an immediate turn off.)

So these Shrimp Tacos were cooked in an Adobo sauce. Obviously, the shrimp had to go, but the sauce looked so fantastic, we had to try it.

Long story short, (too late!) this sauce is awesome. And you should use it on your shrimp tacos, chicken tacos, sparingly on your veggie tacos, or on other non-taco-centric food-related ventures.

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The whole process starts with Ancho chiles. I took a special picture of these chiles because sometimes it is hard to identify dried chiles once you’re at the market. Obviously, these are easier to find at your local Latin grocery store. If you don’t have one, you can still check at your regular grocery store, but you’ll probably have better luck at grocery stores with more elaborate “ethnic” sections.

If you have a bunch of dried chiles that aren’t Ancho chiles, or only a few Anchos and a bunch of other chiles, GO FOR IT! It’s fun to see what happens when you mix them. It might turn out very spicy though, so be careful!

Many chile sauces start with this same process, so once you have it down, you can experiment with just about everything. Go crazy! Use chicken stock instead of water! Add some spices! It will probably turn out very yummy.

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This also requires a blender and/or food processor. If you don’t have one of these, GET ONE. It’s an awesome investment and your taste buds will thank you. Mmmmm just looking at this awful photo makes me want tacos.

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This is just a picture of the shishito peppers I got at the farmer’s market. (Did I mention lately how much I love our CSA??) If you’ve never had them, you should try them. I just put them in here because I was snacking on them while making these tacos. All you have to do is char them and salt them and you have a really yummy snack!

Happy Taco Time!

Adobo Sauce
(adapted from Bon Appetit’s Shrimp in Adobo Sauce from June 2012.)

  • 6 dried ancho chiles, stemmed
  • 4 garlic cloves (peeled and smashed)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

1. Toast the dried chiles in a hot skillet until fragrant and slightly softened, about 1 minute.

For a spicier version: remove the stems but reserve the seeds. Cut the chiles into strips with a scissor
For a less spicy version: remove the stems and seeds. Cut the chiles into strips with a scissor
2. Put the strips of chiles into a bowl and pour 1 cup of hot water over. Let them steep in the hot water (turning and stirring if necessary to get everything wet) for 10 minutes. [The original recipe suggested 1/2 cup water. This makes the sauce more paste-y. This is fine, but if you’ll be cooking it in a skillet, much of the water will eventually evaporate anyways. You can also substitute chicken broth for the water, if desired.]
3. Add chiles, water, garlic, vinegar, salt, oregano, cumin and sugar (along with reserved seeds, if using) to the bowl of a blender or food processor. Process into a thick paste/sauce.
Taco-ize
The best way to cook taco chicken in the adobo sauce is to cut the chicken into cubes, marinate the raw chicken in the sauce for half an hour, and then cook it up in a skillet until the chicken is fully cooked. You can use a simliar method for shrimp or other meats. This sauce is powerful, so use sparingly with veggie tacos.
Taco Toppings!
Our favorite taco toppings are:
– Queso Quesadilla
– Sour Cream
– Pickled Red onions (see quick recipe here) or diced raw onions
– Lettuce or whatever greens are in the fridge
– Cilantro
And here’s one more picture of that awesome taco!
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p.s. Have you seen this recipe on Spoon Fork Bacon (aka my favorite guilty pleasure food blog and thus my favorite food blog)!?
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Acorn Squash (aka Happy Fall!)

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Miles & Mingus (Sorry it’s blurry… the car ride was bumpy!)

 

It’s that time of year again. Time to take the kittens in to the vet, (obligatory cat picture… check!) time to bust out the boots, time to get ready for fall cooking!

It’s been a busy summer around here and it’s finally drawing to a close. I can’t say I’m unhappy to be able to wear sweaters again, though I’m really celebrating too soon. I think we are expected to jump back into the 80s next week.

What REALLY made it seem like fall was getting a beautiful little acorn squash in our CSA this past weekend. Neither Bill nor I are very fond of squash. We have never cooked it at home and rarely order things with squash components at restaurants so this was really going to be a new challenge. Being the adventurous cooks we are, we decided to tackle this little guy first, and leave the peppers, greens, eggplants, and other CSA goodies we’re more familiar with for later in the week.

Side note: our CSA this year has been INCREDIBLE! There has been such an abundance of great and varied veggies (and some fruits–even though we’re only signed up for the veggie share.) If you’re in the Chicago area, we really recommend Montalbano Farms. Next year I think we’ll sign up for Spring through Fall, instead of just summer. I won’t say it’s the cheapest CSA on the books, but I think you get a lot for what you put into it.

Back to the squash. We decided to start with something familiar — pizza. But we also wanted the squash to be the star.

Karla et all… meet the Squah Pizza 2000…

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Cheese, squash, carmelized onions, pine nuts and a little balsamic reduction. We also put arugula on top, but you can see the pizza better without it in the picture. It really was a glorious pizza. But, it wouldn’t have been quite so amazing if we hadn’t used Smitten Kitchen’s awesome roasted acorn squash recipe.  I think that this way of preparing squash would be a great first step for adding bits of it to pizza or pasta, and it’s also pretty great just by itself. Now, this is a big deal because remember, we don’t eat squash!

Roasted Acorn Squash
from Smitten Kitchen’s “Roasted Acorn Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza

1 (1- pound) acorn squash
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (we used 1/2 tsp. and it had plenty of kick)
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus 1/4 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice the squash in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds. Slice the squash into 1/2 to 3/4-inch wide half moons and place in a medium bowl. Toss the squash with the syrup, olive oil, red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the squash on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the squash until tender and golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.

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Oh! And also, don’t forget to pair this with your favorite pumpkin ale for the real taste of fall!

A few other things from around the web:

Oh my god have you seen this post on “How Sweet It Is?”

We also made mashed potato waffles this weekend. Slam Dunk! (Also the funniest recipe I’ve read in a while)

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Birthday Bee Sting Cake

Bee Sting Cake

It’s a birthday tradition at my office that on your birthday YOU bring in treats. It’s very efficient, since everyone has a day of the year to bring in treats, and we all get to celebrate many times over. We’re very cheesy about the whole thing. We make a birthday treats meeting, close the door, and all sit around for an hour talking, eating and decompressing. Then we all get back to work.

Oh and we always sing happy birthday with multiple harmonies. As I said… cheeseballs.

I always take the opportunity to make one of the beautiful Smitten Kitchen cakes that I’ve been drooling looking at for the better part of a year. I have a million cookbooks and Bon Appetit magazines in my house, but honestly, when I think about making a cake, I always go to Smitten Kitchen.

Voilá! The Bee Sting Cake.

I had to assemble this baby at work because it would have been a b*tch to carry around otherwise, but it was well worth the effort. I had never made a yeast cake before, but it was a bready, airy, and very un-sweet cake with the sweet almond caramel topping and the INCREDIBLE buttercream custard (laced with almond extract) on the inside. When Deb describes the process of making this cake on her website, smittenkitchen.com, she talks about all the variations of this cake she cooked through to make it come out just right. She says the effort was worth it. I add my endorsement!

I had to bring a big bread knife to cut the cake in half and add the custard at my cubicle!

I had to bring a big bread knife to cut the cake in half and add the custard at my cubicle!

Bee Sting Cake
from Smitten Kitchen

Cake
2 1/4 teaspoons (or 1 1/4-ounce package) instant yeast (not active dry) (also sold as rapid rise or bread machine yeast)
3/4 cup whole milk, ideally at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs, ideally at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Honey-Almond-Crunch Topping
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold is fine
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (4 3/4 ounces) sliced almonds
Two pinches of sea salt

Pastry Cream Filling
1 cup whole milk
Seeds from 1/4 to 1/2 vanilla bean, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (I used the almond!)
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour or cornstarch [updated]
2 pinches sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold is fine

Make the cake: Combine all of the cake ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, stirring till the mixture becomes cohesive, then stirring for two minutes more. In a stand mixer, you can mix this with the paddle attachment (no dough hook needed; batter is thin) at low-medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down sides, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place for 60 minutes, till it’s a little puffy. (It won’t fully double; this is fine.)

Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Stir the batter a few times to deflate it slightly, then scrape it into the prepared pan and nudge it until it fills the bottom. Cover again with plastic wrap (don’t let it drape in and touch the top) and set aside for another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the honey-almond-crunch topping: In a small or medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter, sugar, honey, cream and salt until the butter is melted. Bring to a simmer and let it boil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture becomes a shade darker–it should go from a yellowish tone to a light beige (don’t forget this step! Wait until it’s beige and more custardy!), stirring frequently. Stir in the almonds. You will probably panic because this mixture is going to get very thick — but don’t. Set it aside to cool slightly.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Once the cake has finished its second rise use a small spoon to scoop out small amounts of the almond topping and distribute it over the top of the cake. It’s going to be a little pesky because it is firm, but I promise, even if it’s not perfectly evenly distributed, it will all smooth out gorgeously in the oven.

Bake cake on a foil-lined tray to catch any caramel drips, for 20 to 25 minutes, until top is bronzed and toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free. Transfer to a cooling rack and let it sit in the pan for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, run a knife along the outside of the cake, making sure no places are stuck and invert the cake onto the cooling rack. If you’re like me, you’ll be positive that all of the almonds will fall off, but shockingly, in five rounds, I only lost one or two. Reverse it back onto another rack to finish cooling, replacing any almonds that fell off right back on top. They’ll merge back with the caramel as it cools; nobody will know.

Make pastry cream: Warm milk and vanilla bean scrapings (if using; if using an extract, don’t add yet) in a medium saucepan. Pour into a small bowl or cup, ideally with a spout. Set aside. Rinse saucepan with cool water, to rinse and cool; wipe to dry. Off the heat, whisk the yolks and sugar vigorously together for a minute, until pale and ribbony. Whisk in flour and salt until smooth. Drizzle in warm milk mixture, a spoonful at a time, whisking the whole time. Once you’ve add half of it, you can add the rest in a more steady stream, again whisking the whole time. Return the saucepan to the stove and cook on medium-high heat until it bubble, then simmer for one to two minutes, more whisking the whole time. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and any extracts you may be using. Cool custard completely before using, a process that can be sped up in the fridge or whisking it over a bowl over ice water.

Finally, assemble the cake: Once both the cake and pastry cream are fully cooled, place the cake on a serving platter and divide it horizontally into two layers with a long serrated knife. Spread pastry cream over bottom half. Place top half on pastry cream. Serve in wedges; watch out for bees. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Our lovely intern took this photo of her slice! A beautiful ooey-gooey cake!

Our lovely intern took this photo of her slice! A beautiful ooey-gooey cake!

 

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

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Strawberry Rhubarb pies always make me think of Karla’s and my grandmother’s old house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was a super house: multiple levels of flowers in the front leading up to a colorful door and enclosed porch, a big living room with two pianos and an organ, a bathroom full of cat replicas, and a carpeted little staircase up to the third floor that was always lined with stuffed animals. It had all the requisite grandma’s house charm, and even a fluffy long-haired cat, rotary phones, and a scary basement.

The kitchen was something else. Stained glass on the walls, armies of magnets on the fridge, I can’t remember the details very well now, but it always seemed very crowded. I do remember using tiny little spoons, with presidents’ faces on them, to devour one of our grandma’s two specialties: heaping Schaum Tortes and pieces of Strawberry Rhubarb pie.

My “L” for Louisville pie. Something of a crust-design failure, but still a beautiful golden-brown! (Yes, my bracket won. No, I don’t know anything about NCAA Basketball.)

The rhubarb usually came from her garden, where the stalks burst out of the ground like weird red celery. I always remember thinking that it was the oddest looking fruit I had ever seen. (Fun fact: rhubarb actually IS a fruit. I quote Wikipedia: “Rhubarb is usually considered to be a vegetable, however, in the United States, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it was to be counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties.”)

So, nowadays, in April and May, when Rhubarb comes to town, (it’s very difficult to find fresh out of season,) I can’t help buying some and throwing together a pie.

I owed Bill a pie, so I made it Bill's Pie.

I owed Bill a pie, so I made it Bill’s Pie.

This recipe is a mish-mash of a few recipes I read. It’s mostly Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” Crust, with Smitten Kitchen’s “Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, improved” filling. I have never used tapioca as a thickener, as I bought a can of cornstarch a long time ago and haven’t gone through it yet. I have never found a way of making a filling so solid that it doesn’t run all over the place, but this pie is freaking YUMMY, and the mess isn’t really a big deal.

Sculpting the crust of the pie is really my favorite part. I love working with the dough to make some lovely creations. Here are some ideas if you’d like to play around with making your pie really pretty. For advanced dough workers, I especially endorse the braided crust: Martha Stewart Ideas, Braided Crust, RecipeTips.com.

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Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Ingredients:
For the crust (Note: you’ll need two crusts for a standard pie)
– 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 tsp sugar
– 1 stick butter
– 3 tbs ice water (or more as needed)
For the filling
– 3 1/2 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds, untrimmed) rhubarb, in 1/2-inch thick slices
– 3 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) strawberries, cut in halves if small; cut in quarters if large
– 1/2 cup granulated sugar
– 1/4 cup light brown sugar
– 1 tbsp lemon juice
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/8 cup cornstarch or 1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
– 2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
– 1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

Notes: 1) For the flour: If you want to make this healthier, you can replace about 1/3 up of the flour with wheat flour without affecting the taste. If you really want to be healthier, probably don’t make a pie. 2) For the ice water: I usually start off the whole process by taking some ice and putting it in a glass of cold water. That way, when you get to that step, you have a glass of really cold water hanging out. It’s pretty essential to keep the dough very cold. 3) For the strawberries: Many recipes want you to slice the strawberries. That will be totally fine. I just like the strawberries chunkier, since they really turn to mush once you cook them. At least the larger pieces still give you big bites of strawberry. 4) For the light brown sugar: If you don’t have light brown sugar, but you do have molasses, this is brilliant: !!!!!! 5) DO NOT skip the glaze. Also, use this glaze forever, for every pie you ever make.

  1. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the container of a food processor; pulse once or twice. Add the butter and turn on the machine; process until the butter and flour are blended and the mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds.
  2. Place the mixture in a bowl and sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water over it. Use a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula to gradually gather the mixture into a ball; if the mixture seems dry, add another ½ tablespoon ice water. The water will seem insufficient to make the dough wet. Be patient and keep stirring. When you can make the mixture into a ball with your hands, do so. Wrap in plastic wrap, flatten into a small disk, and freeze the dough for 10 minutes (or refrigerate for 30 minutes); this will ease rolling. (You can also refrigerate the dough for a day or two, or freeze it almost indefinitely.)
  3. While you’re waiting for your pie dough to cool, make the pie filling. This is an easy one: Mix together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, lemon, salt and tapioca in a large bowl. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Sprinkle a countertop or large board with flour. Unwrap the dough and place it on the work surface; sprinkle its top with flour. If the dough is hard, let it rest for a few minutes; it should give a little when you press your fingers into it.
  5. Roll with light pressure, from the center out. (If the dough seems very sticky at first, add flour liberally; but if it becomes sticky only after you roll it for a few minutes, return it to the refrigerator for 10 minutes before proceeding. I find it infinitely more difficult to work with pie dough when my kitchen/the world is very hot. Try to do this somewhere cool.) Continue to roll, adding small amounts of flour as necessary, rotating the dough occasionally, and turning it over once or twice during the process. (Use ragged edges of dough to repair any tears, adding a drop of water while you press the patch into place.) When the dough is about 10 inches in diameter, hold your pie plate upside down over it to check the size. (If you have a really deep pie pan, like I do, make sure that your dough is a few inches longer in diameter than the pie plate.
  6. Move the dough into the pie plate by draping it over the rolling pin or by folding it into quarters, then moving it into the plate and unfolding it. When the dough is in the plate, press it into the bottom, sides, and junction of bottom and sides. Once you have the bottom layer down, leave the edges ragged and heap the filling inside. Then lay the crust on top. Trim the excess dough so that about ½ inch hangs over all around, then tuck it under itself around the edge of the plate. Decorate the edges however you want! The easiest way is to press little grooves into it with a fork. Cut ventilation holes or slits in the top of the pie.
  7. Brush the egg yolk and water glaze all over your crust. Really cover it, and don’t worry if a little of the glaze pools here and there. That’s unavoidable.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly.
  9. Let the pie cool to room temperature before serving. This will take several hours.

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Pigeon Peas with Spinach

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I know, I know, I know.

This is not very seasonally appropriate. But seriously, I was wanting to try new things, and it’s too good not to share. How beautiful are these little guys? I love discovering new and awesome things to cook, and this time my experimenting worked out pretty well. Karla et all, meet Pigeon Peas! They also go by the names Gandule bean, tropical green pea, kadios, Congo pea, gungo pea, gunga pea, fio-fio, mgbụmgbụ, or no-eye pea, toor dal, kandi pappu. They’re a staple in vegetarian indian diets, and they’re super yummy.

When I first bought 660 curries, I went to the store and bought a bunch of ingredients I knew I would use at some point as I cooked my way through the book. Different kinds of lentils, frozen spinach, chickpea flour, frozen peas… you get the picture. One of the things I picked up were these pigeon peas. They looked kind of funky, but a lot of recipes used them, so I went for it.

So, about a week ago, I decided to dive in. One package of frozen spinach, one cup of pigeon peas, a pressure cooker, and a flawless spice mix later, I was enjoying one of my favorite curries to date.

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There are two things that make this curry awesomer than it looks. First is the coriander. This spice has never been so good! Make sure you use whole coriander seeds for this recipe. They’re easy to find in the grocery store, and it’s quite literally not as tasty without them. The coriander seeds never get ground down in this recipe. They stay hard little spheres. In a mushy curry, this totally stands out–but that’s a good thing. When you crunch into a coriander seed, you get a tiny rush of citrusy-coriander flavor that is completely surprising and very yummy. I can’t quite describe it. You just have to try it. You only get one every five bites or so, so it’s always something of a surprise.

Second is the ginger. The last thing you add to this curry is some julianned ginger. This ginger doesn’t cook down, like the ginger paste you add at the beginning, so every once in a while you crunch into a little stick of ginger. This is also a fun and tasty surprise and results in a burst of spicy ginger flavor. Score!

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Dried Pigeon Peas

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Mixing the spices, garlic and chiles in the mortar and pestle

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Cooked spice mix

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Pigeon Pea and Spinach Curry

Whole Pigeon Peas with Spinach (Sabud Toor Aur Palak Ki Dal)
from 660 Curries

Ingredients:
1 cup whole pigeon peas (sabud toovar), picked over for stones
1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach leaves, well rinsed (or 1  10-oz block of frozen spinach)
1 tablespoon Ginger Paste (pureed paste with ratio of 1/2 cup water and 8 ounces chopped ginger)*
1 tablespoon Garlic Paste (pureed paste with ratio of 1/2 cup water and 50 medium cloves garlic.)*
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup firmly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons rock salt (if using table salt, use a little less)
4 medium-size cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
4 dried red Thai or cayenne chiles, stems removed
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons Ghee or butter
4 lengthwise slices fresh ginger- each 1 1/2 inches long, 1 inch wide, 1/8 inch thick julienned

1. Place the pigeon peas in a medium-size bowl. Fill the bowl halfway with water and rinse the peas by rubbing them between your fingertips. The water may become slightly cloudy. Drain this water and repeat three or four times, until the water remains relatively clear; drain. Now fill the bowl halfway with hot tap water and let it sit at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap, until the peas have softened, at least 8 hours or as long as overnight.

2. Drain the pigeon peas and transfer them to a pressure cooker. Add 4 cups water and bring it to a boil, uncovered, over high heat. Skim off and discard any foam that forms on the surface. Add the spinach, several handfulls at a time, stirring it in until it is wilted. (I used frozen spinach, so I just let it de-frost on the counter and added it all at once.) When all the spinach has been added, stir in the ginger and garlic pastes and the turmeric. Seal the cooker shut and allow the pressure to build up. When the cooker reaches full pressure, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 1 hour. Remove the cooker from the heat and allow the pressure to subside naturally (about 15 minutes) before opening the lid

NOTE: It is very dangerous to open a pressure cooker if the pressure has not subsided. Make sure to follow all the directions that accompany your pressure cooker to make sure that it is safe to open.

3. Meanwhile, combine the cilantro, the 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, the rock salt, garlic, and chiles in a mortar. Pound with the pestle, scraping down the sides to contain the mixture in the center, until the blend resembles coarse-cut wet grass, feels gritty, and has large specks of red from the chiles. (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, use a food processor, but the mortar and pestle method is easy and preferred.)

4. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in the remaining 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and the oriander seeds. Cook until they sizzle, turn reddish brown, and smell citrus-nutty, 10-15 seconds. Add the pounded herb-spice mixture and stir-fry until the garlic in the blend forms a thin brown layer on the bottom of the skillet and the medley smells pungent-hot, about 1 minute. Set the mixture aside until the pigeon peas are done.

5. Once the pigeon peas and spinach are ready, add the contents of skillet, and stir in the ghee and the ginger. Pour some of this mixture into the skillet and scrape the bottom to deglaze it, releasing every bit of stuck-on herbs and spices; add the washings to the curry.

6. Simmer the olive-green curry, stuffed with nutty-brown pigeon peas, over medium-high heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the flavors meld, about 10 minutes. Then serve.

*Ginger and Garlic Paste: These pastes can be made and then frozen to use in a number of recipes. They’re very useful! When making the paste, make sure you add the water and THEN the garlic or ginger into your food processor or blender before pureeing. Raghavan Iyer has his reasons, but to read about them, you have to BUY THE BOOK!

This is great with rice or on bread, and it’s ESPECIALLY good with roti or naan.

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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!

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Urban Gardening and My Basil Plant

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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:

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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:

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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!

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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

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