Sunday, November 25, 2007

Brussels Sprout and Green Bean Bhaji

Spontaneous dinner for hippies, part two: this recipe is a twist on one of our favorites from The Ayurvedic Cookbook, green bean bhaji. We've added brussels sprouts because we're obsessed with them and they really add the complexity to elevate this weeknight bhaji to company-worthiness. This bhaji is an especially good option because if you serve green beans over brown rice, you're all set for protein--no bean-soaking, no tofu-marinating. It's tasty and very spicy; if you want less heat, you can remove the seeds from the chile, or, for the severely spice-phobic, maybe even use only half a chile.

Brussels Sprout and Green Bean Bhaji

2 cups fresh green beans or Blue Lake beans, ends trimmed, cut into 1 and 1/2 inch pieces
20 brussels sprouts, quartered
2 tablespoons peanut or sunflower oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafetida
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 inches ginger root, finely minced (whip out your microplane if you have one)
1 jalapeno or serrano chile, minced finely
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup desiccated coconut

Heat the oil over high heat in a large frying pan or wok. Add mustard seeds; when they start popping, add asafetida and turmeric. Stir quickly, then toss in green beans and brussels sprouts and mix to coat with spices and oil. Saute until beans are just tender and brussels are starting to brown, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine water, salt, ginger, chile, cilantro and coconut in a food processor and pulse until you have a paste. Add to the vegetables and mix well, then saute for a minute or two. Serve with some rice or yogurt to soak up the heat.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Whole Fingerling Potatoes in a Tamarind-Tomato Gravy

This weekend, four of our hardy bike-travelling friends came over for an impromptu dinner. What to feed these ravenous gardening folk with sensitive dietary needs (vegetarian, gluten-free, no corn and no refined sugar)? We settled on a spicy brussel sprout-green bean bhaji, whole fingerling potatoes in a tamarind-tomato gravy and a sweet-hot lemon preserve, all over a brown rice-red quinoa pilaf. We'll give you all the recipes over the next few days; to start with, today's post is about the fingerling potatoes.

We also wanted to make a special dessert that gluten-free folks can't usually enjoy -- dark chocolate brownies tarted up with ganache and peanut butter to look like gooey petit-fours. But how to make brownies without flour, sugar, or glutenous substitutes like malted barley? We're not going to tell you yet, because this batch was a B- at best. The chocolate flavor was strong, but the texture called to mind garbanzo beans and potatoes, which is exactly what gluten-free flour is made of. Not quite bloggable, but we haven't given up yet.

Hey, at least it looks cute.

Dinner for Six, Part One:
Whole Fingerling Potatoes in a Tamarind-Tomato Gravy

2 1/2 pounds of tiny potatoes (1-2 inches in length)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
2 tomatoes, chopped roughly
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon ground fenugreek (you can roast it whole and grind it yourself in a coffee grinder if you have whole fenugreek seeds around--they make wonderful sprouts as well!)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon butter or canola oil
1 cup water
Salt to taste

Heat about 8 cups of water (enough to cover your potatoes) in a large pot. Add the potatoes once the water begins to boil and cook until they are just barely tender (they'll cook more later). Drain and set aside.

Blend the tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice, cayenne, turmeric, fenugreek and tamarind together in a food processor.

Heat the butter in a large pan on medium heat until melted, then add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the onion and garlic. Cook the onion for 5 minutes until starting to soften, then add the tomato mixture. Allow the tomato mixture to simmer for a few moments before adding the potatoes. Stir the potatoes to coat well, then add a cup of water. Turn the heat to low and allow the potatoes to simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the tomato mixture has cooked down to a saucy consistency.  Add salt to taste (which might be none, depending on how salty your tomato paste is).

Note #1: If you want to make a brown rice-red quinoa pilaf, rinse 1 and 1/2 cups brown rice and 1/2 cup red quinoa in a strainer.  Boil 4 and 1/4 cups water, add rice and quinoa, and simmer about 45 minutes until liquid is absorbed.

Note #2: If you're feeling decadent, one of our dinner guests opined that these potatoes would be even more delicious if they were roasted in olive oil instead of boiled.  Next time!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Guest Blog: Beta Carotene Curry

****iheartkale note: In the spirit of Thanksgiving, our old co-op buddies Honor and Sarah have offered a guest post-enjoy!****

The first time I lived alone in Manhattan I bought onions. I diced five of them before I realized that I no longer lived with Hannah. It took a while to get out of the habit of cooking in bulk, and I thought I was alone with this problem of overcooking, until I mentioned it to Sarah. When Sarah lived in Germany she was only cooking for herself. Every night, she asked her roommate what she was having for dinner (usually canned peas) and incorporated that into her meal, just so she should cook for someone other than herself. We both have made scrambled tofu for our carnivorous parents. We both have a strong association with the smell of ground cumin and tonight we're reliving our past as cooking partners in Somerville, MA.

Now we're both together in Somerville and Sarah has acquired a large canvas bag of root vegetables and is slowly converting them into vegetable soup, all the way pressing things under my nose to inhale -freshly minced ginger, ground nutmeg, freshly cut squash, C. Moore's Northampton honey, chamomile & mint tea and most recently, curry powder (don't breathe in too deeply). Now that she's headed home tomorrow for Thanksgiving, she's decided to convert this pile of orange veg into...... Beta Carotene Curry.

The recipe is as follows:

2 onions
5 cloves of minced garlic
6 sweet potatoes in a 1/2" dice
1 5lb bag of carrots
1 butternut squash
1.5 tablespoons of minced garlic
4 bay leaves
Curry Powder

Cover the bottom of the pan with generous drizzlings of olive oil and add the onions, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper and heat on low until the onions are glassy. Then, add the chopped carrots first, then the sweet potato and squash (anything Orange!) and cover with your
favorite stock and bring to a boil. Now add your spices and wait until the vegetables are soft and blendable (don't forget to take out those pesky bay leaves!). Blend with the stick blender and enjoy with good company and possibly a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Conquering Mount Brussels

If the phrase "brussels sprouts" triggers your gag reflex, you're probably remembering freezer-burned, over-boiled mush-balls. Fresh brussels, cooked properly, are so delicious that they get munched up before they even make it to the dinner table. We've included two great introductions to brussels sprouts -- a light stir-fry and a greasy, crispy roast.

We like to buy a whole stalk of sprouts and enjoy the street cred it earns us on the way home from the Berkeley Bowl. You can also buy your brussels loose -- look for green, perky

Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts and Greens with Walnuts

2 teaspoons olive oil
8-10 fresh brussels sprouts, quartered lengthwise
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
2 cups packed, chopped kale
Salt to taste

Heat olive oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in brussels sprouts and walnuts, stirring 3-5 minutes, until sprouts begin to be tinged with brown. Toss in kale and saute until wilted. Season to taste with salt.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Ginger-Lime Sweet Potatoes

25-30 Brussels sprouts
Olive oil
2 large Garnet or Jewel sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1-inch hunk of ginger, peeled and very finely chopped (this is a great time to whip out a microplane if you have one)
zest and juice of 1/2 a lime

Preheat oven to 375. Cut an "X" across the tops of the brussels sprouts as shown above, then transfer to a cookie sheet, toss with olive oil and salt, and roast until browned, about 40-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and dice the sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add sweet potatoes, and boil until soft. Drain, transfer to a large bowl and mash with butter, ginger, lime juice and lime zest.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cranberry-Persimmon Crisp with Filbert Streusel

Two fruit happenings inspired this crisp: we both came home from the office with free persimmons from co-workers' trees, and we found last year's bag of cranberries in the freezer while cleaning it out in anticipation of Thanksgiving. Phoebe came up with this dessert to combine the two, and the sweetness of ripe persimmons plays beautifully off the tart cranberries.

A note about the topping: we found a jar of ground-up filberts left over from an attempt at Passover-friendly cookies (again:we were cleaning house), but if your pantry is a little less bizarre than ours, you could just grind some almonds in a food processor until they turn into almond meal. Or just buy the almond meal ready-made at Trader Joe's.

4 ripe Fuyu persimmons, diced
1/2 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup filbert meal or other finely-ground nuts
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons butter or Earth Balance, melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a round cake pan and add the fruit, then drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the agave or maple syrup. In a medium-sized bowl, combine oats, filbert meal, chopped walnuts, melted butter or Earth Balance, the remaining tablespoon of agave or maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Sprinkle topping over the fruit, cover pan with foil, and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 more minutes, until topping is browned.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Shiitake-Buckwheat Breakfast Pilaf

Mushroom-barley soup is great for breakfast on cold mornings, but sometimes soup is more of a sit-down meal than I can swing before 7 a.m.--I need something that can be gobbled down quickly if I'm running late. Enter this liquid-less, savory mixture, which is essentially kasha varnishkes without the bowtie pasta. I made a big batch tonight and will be gleefully chipping away at it all week.

Roasted buckwheat, or kasha, is actually both wheat-free and gluten-free. Kasha is usually found in the "international" aisle (ha!) with the kosher food; you can usually locate a box of Wolff's kasha adjacent to those disturbing jars of jelly-coated gefilte fish, but Bob's Red Mill apparently caught wind of the hippie kasha market and has started selling it alongside their other grains and flours. This particular batch was made with whole kasha; some packaged kasha is fine-grain, in which case the proportions are the same but it will need less simmering time, probably about 3-5 minutes.

Go Ahead, Hum the Morning Edition Theme Music

2 tablespoons butter, Earth Balance or olive oil
10 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 cups water (or vegetable stock, if you have some)
1 cup kasha
1 egg, slightly beaten
Bragg's or tamari, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

And I'm Renee Montagne

Heat butter, oil or Earth Balance on high in a saucepan. Add mushrooms and stir frequently, until browned. Pour in water or stock and bring to a boil.

While you're waiting for the liquid to boil, combine kasha with egg, stirring to coat all the kernels. In a heavy cast-iron skillet, toast the egg-coated kasha over high heat for 2-3 minutes, until kernels are separated. Pour in liquid and mushrooms, cover tightly and simmer for 10 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Season with Bragg's or tamari and pepper to taste.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pumpkin Pie with Honey-Caramelized Walnuts

I've been traveling for the last week and a half, and on my flight home (yay JetBlue!) I watched 6 straight hours of the Food Network, all Thanksgiving-themed, which really got me in the mood for pumpkin pie. Our moist version combines traditional elements with cardamom and coconut milk, and the honey-caramelized walnuts add a delicious textural contrast. (The plan was to have them cover the top, but we ate a few while the pie was baking and...well, you can see how that ended).

Way Less Annoying Than Rachael Ray

1 9-inch pie crust (we had a spelt one in the freezer and used that, but if you have time to make your own, go crazy)
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup coconut milk
a pinch each of ground cloves, nutmeg and allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons honey mixed with 2 teaspoons water
1 tablespoon butter or Earth Balance
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped roughly

And Almost As Hot As Giada DeLaurentiis

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, stir together pumpkin, eggs, agave, coconut milk, salt and spices. Pour into the crust and bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350. Once the pie has been in for 50 minutes total, start the caramel!

To make caramel, microwave the honey-water mixture in one-minute increments, stopping between increments to check if it's the right consistency yet. To check the consistency, drop a little of the mixture into a glass of cold water--when it forms a soft ball, it's caramel. (This usually takes around five minutes in the microwave.) Add the butter, stir quickly and add to walnuts, stirring to coat.

Sprinkle caramelized walnuts on top of the pie and bake for 10-15 more minutes, until the pie center stays firm when you gently jiggle the pan from side to side. (Total cooking time - about 1 hour 10 minutes) Allow the pie to cool to room temperature, which will give it time to firm up. Eat alone or with your creamy frozen treat of choice.