Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Toor Dal with Tahini and Parsley

This was originally supposed to be a luscious Indian dal with coconut milk, shallots and curry leaves. But it was raining hard enough on Sunday to deter a supermarket run, and we were out of curry leaves & shallots, and the jar of leftover coconut milk in the fridge that inspired the whole dal idea had developed, shall we say, a very mature aroma. The result: there is absolutely nothing Indian about this soup besides the toor dal (split yellow pigeon peas) and because it relied on whatever we had around, it's taken on more Syrian flavorings: tahini, browned onions, chopped parsley and cumin. It's rib-sticking comfort food, and has been doing an awesome job as warm, motivating breakfast during the first week of bone-chilling rainy weather.

If you don't have toor dal, yellow split peas are fine--you might need a slightly longer simmer to get them soft.

1 cup toor dal or yellow split peas
4 cups water
1 tsp turmeric
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced into thin rings
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons tahini
a teaspoon or so of good kosher salt or sea salt
Black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Combine dal, water and turmeric in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Skim off the white foam that rises to the top, and simmer 40 minutes, until dal is very soft.

Meanwhile, heat oil over medium-high heat in a cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottomed frying pan. Add the sliced onions and fry, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, until they start to brown.

When dal is cooked, add the onions, cumin, tahini, salt and pepper and simmer for 5-10 more minutes to thicken the soup and blend the flavors. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Skillet Cornbread with Gruyere and Chives

Our free subscription to Gourmet (who are you, wonderful secret admirer?) is seriously the best thing ever. The second seriously best thing ever is our latest favorite cheese, gruyere. Combine these two and you get our doctored version of the cornbread in the Thanksgiving issue--personalized with some gruyere, yogurt instead of buttermilk, chives from the farmer's market, slightly less butter and, as usual, agave instead of the sugar.

Between the cornmeal, egg and yogurt, this is complete protein, and a leftover wedge makes a fantastic breakfast on the go. Also, try some as an accompaniment to bean dishes and hearty stews--this was delicious with the leftover frijoles con todo from lunch at Tacubaya.

Finally, an unrelated public service announcement: Manzanita Restaurant, which we heart because it always has kale on the menu, has re-instated dinner service on Fridays and Saturdays. Bay Area readers, please take note and take advantage!

Adapted from Gourmet

1 and 1/2
cups cornmeal
1 tablespoon agave nectar
3/4 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
large eggs
1 3/4
cups plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup grated gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons minced chives
3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place a medium-sized cast-iron skillet in the oven to heat up for 10 minutes while you get everything else ready.

Stir together dry ingredients and beat together eggs, yogurt, gruyere and chives in a large bowl. Get out your thickest potholder and remove the skillet from the oven. Put the butter in the skillet, tilting it so the butter melts and coats the bottom and sides. Pour the butter into the wet mixture and stir quickly, then add dry ingredients and mix to combine. Transfer batter to hot skillet and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Run a butter knife around the sides of the cornbread and flip onto a plate to serve.