Monday, December 28, 2009

Slow-Cooked Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli rabe isn't actually broccoli at all, but a leafy relative of the turnip. If you don't have access to broccoli rabe, substitute mustard or turnip greens. In the past, we've always sauteed our broccoli rabe. But after spending some quality time in North Carolina last month and learning the aforementioned turnip trivia, we decided to treat broccoli rabe like turnip greens are treated in the South: cooked slowly with a smoky flavor. You won't taste tomato paste in the final product, but it does contribute to the satisfying, meaty umami flavor.

6 cups greens
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, skinned but left whole
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

Wash the broccoli rabe and cut off the tough bottom parts of the stem. Chop the tender parts of the stems and the leaves roughly.

Heat the butter over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic and greens for a few minutes. Add the tomato paste, paprika and 1/2 cup water. Simmer on low heat, covered, for three hours. Salt to taste.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Persimmon, Pomegranate and Pistachio Parfait

This is our version of an Indian dessert called shrikhand, a fruit parfait with cardamom-spiced yogurt. This is frequently done with mangoes, but persimmons and pomegranates are abundant in California this time of year and go very well together. The tart, crunchy pomegranate seeds are a lovely contrast to the simple sweetness of the persimmon. Try this as a light dessert or a twist on your usual morning yogurt.

This is traditionally made with strained yogurt, but if you're using cream top yogurt or Greek yogurt there's no need to strain it.

1 cup yogurt
2 teaspoons agave nectar (or other sweetener)
1 teaspoon cardamom
2 Fuyu persimmons, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 pomegranate, seeded
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped

Mix together the yogurt, agave and cardamom. Divide the ingredients into 4 eight-ounce glasses or bowls in the following order: persimmons on the bottom, then the pomegranate seeds, then the yogurt mixture, and finish by sprinkling pistachios on top.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Golden Beet Soup with Cinnamon

A colorful, warming soup for cold winter evenings, this recipe is decadently creamy without the presence of actual cream (thanks, coconut milk!). Try to use small, fresh beets that are still juicy. The tablespoon of applesauce at the end really brings the warm spiced forward, but you can skip it if you don't want to crack open a whole jar just for this one recipe.

6 yellow beets (4 cups)
1 sweet potato (2 cups)
2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)
olive oil
pinch of allspice
pinch of nutmeg
1 clove
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon plain applesauce

Chop the sweet potatoes and beets into 1/2 inch cubes. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan, then add yams and beets. Cover and saute, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. (There should be enough liquid to keep the vegetables from sticking and burning. If your beets and yams don't give off enough liquid, add a few tablespoons of water.)

Stir in a little olive oil, turn the heat up to medium-high, and stir frequently, until the beets and yams are browned. Sprinkle in the spices and stir for a minute. Add the coconut milk, salt, applesauce and enough water to cover the vegetables. Simmer for 5 minutes, then puree well, adding more water as needed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Roasted Potatoes and Tokyo Turnips with Crispy Rosemary

These roasted root vegetables have a rich, juicy sauce, which makes them a nice change from the usual browned, crispy texture of roasted root vegetables. (We suspect you CSA subscribers might be starting to tire of the same old root vegetable treatments!) Tokyo turnips are everywhere here now, and while they're much-loved for their unique turnip ability to be eaten raw or lightly cooked, roasting always makes everything more delicious.

4 cups diced Yukon gold potatoes (about 4 potatoes)
1 and 1/2 cups diced Tokyo turnips (about 10 turnips)
10 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons fresh thyme (stems removed)
3/4 cup stock
2/3 cup red wine

Preheat oven to 375. Chop the Tokyo turnips and potatoes into 3/4 inch chunks. Combine potatoes, turnips, garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper in a 9" x 13" casserole dish. Roast for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are fork-tender. Add stock and red wine. Stir to coat, then return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by two thirds.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Warm Lentil Salad with Spiced Kabocha

Another recipe from Hannah's sister, this dish is a great way to pack your entire meal into a salad. It can be served by itself or on a bed of arugula, and is good hot or room temperature, making it an excellent choice for packed lunches--this batch was for a cross-country plane trip! The spicy roasted kabocha cubes are absolutely addictive and worth making by themselves if any of you CSA subscribers are looking for a nice winter squash showcase.

4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups peeled and diced kabocha squash (1 small squash)
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 cup brown lentils
1 and 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Optional finishing touches:
Arugula for plating
Crumbled goat cheese, for garnish

Stir together 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, paprika, cumin, cayenne and salt. Toss the spiced oil with the kabocha cubes and spread out on a cookie sheet. Loosely cover with foil and bake at 375 for about 25 minutes, until squash is fork-tender, and then uncover and bake about 10 minutes more, until squash starts to develop browned edges.

While the squash is baking, heat remaining olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Fry the onions over 7-10 minutes, until browned, then add the lentils, water and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer 25-30 minutes, until lentils are tender and water is absorbed.

If you're serving this on a bed of greens, arrange some arugula on a serving plate. Top with lentils, kabocha cubes and optional goat cheese and enjoy!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Kabocha, Beer and Cheese Soup

Due to CSA-induced extreme squash consumption several years ago, there has been a winter squash strike in our house for a while now. If we can eat and love this soup, so can the staunchest winter squash hater at your Thanksgiving table! (Booze and cheese will do that for a vegetable). This recipe was inspired by the pumpkin rarebit soup from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. Here, we've used kabocha squash, which is less stringy and watery than a regular pumpkin. You can also try this with a buttercup squash.

For the lactose-intolerant or otherwise cheese-avoiding readers, this is also good without the cheese.

1 large kabocha squash
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
1 large onion, sliced into rings
Vegetable stock, as needed, up to 1 cup
1 12-ounce bottle of beer (we like pale ale)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375. Cut squash into eighths and bake, covered, until tender, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are browned and soft.

When squash is done, slice off skin and transfer pieces to a food processor with the caramelized onions and garlic. Add just enough stock to blend to a smooth puree. Transfer to the saucepan, add the beer, salt to taste and simmer for 10 minutes.

Ladle into ramekins and top with the cheese, then broil until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown. (Or, if you're not feeling like ramekins, you can just stir in the cheese, add a little extra stock and simmer a few minutes longer). Let sit for a few minutes before serving to prevent serious internal mouth burns!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Braised Brussels Sprouts with Rosemary and Lemon

We love Brussels sprouts roasted and stir-fried, but we wanted to experiment a little and decided that since cabbage is delicious braised, why not see if Brussels sprouts would be amenable to the same treatment?

And oh, are they ever.

olive oil
2-3 cups Brussels sprouts
6 cloves garlic
1-2 cups stock
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary (stems removed)
juice of 1 lemon

Trim the bottoms of the sprouts and slice in half lengthwise. Heat a little olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the garlic and only as many sprouts as will fit in a single layer. Saute for a minute or two, until the sprouts are bright green and glistening. Add enough stock to cover the Brussels a little more than halfway. Add rosemary and salt (keep in mind how much salt your stock may already have). Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook, uncovered, until the liquid has completely evaporated.

Add some olive oil and flip the sprouts so that they are all cut-side-down. Fry until the bottoms of the Brussels are well-browned. Remove the sprouts, garlic and rosemary to a serving dish. Return the saucepan to low heat and add the lemon juice. Deglaze, scraping the pan to get all of the delicious browned bits, then simmer just a minute or so, to reduce the lemon juice. Pour sauce over Brussels and serve.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Seethed Potatoes with Thyme

No, these cute little potatoes aren't angry at anyone--seething is a cooking technique in which small potatoes are left whole and cooked in just a little water, butter, and aromatics like garlic and herbs. We got the basic idea from One Potato, Two Potato about a year ago and have been modifying and loving it since then; we've increased the garlic from the original recipe and tried several different herbs before deciding thyme is our favorite. Try this with the most adorable tiny potatoes you can find--it's a great dish for using the small heirloom varieties that are cropping up at farmer's markets this time of year!

1.5 lbs tiny potatoes, scrubbed
5 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons butter
Freshly-ground black pepper

Place potatoes, garlic, thyme and butter in a wide skillet--you want to be able to fit the potatoes in a single layer. Barely cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer, partially covered, for 20-25 minutes, until potatoes are soft and nearly all of the water has evaporated. Turn the heat back up and shake the pan around for a minute or so, which will coat the potatoes in smashed, soft garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shredded Skillet Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts

Mark Bittman wrote last month that the story of Brussels sprouts' new life as an actually-liked vegetable "is one part mystery, one part thanks to bacon, and one part a tribute to our ability (finally) to appreciate members of the cabbage family." While you're appreciating, try this: a quick stovetop option in which they're shredded to cut down on cooking time. These sprouts cook down to a third of their original size, so if you're making dinner for a crowd, scale up.

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
4 cups brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons dry red wine
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sprouts and walnuts and saute, stirring frequently, until the Brussels are well-browned. Add the wine and vinegar, cook until they've evaporated. Salt generously and serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chai-Spiced Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Bring a little bit of India to your Thanksgiving table with these spicy sweet potatoes--we've taken the components of a steaming cup of masala chai and applied them to sweet potatoes for a nice change of pace from that tired old marshmallow-and-canned-pineapple routine. This may seem like a lot of ginger, but we've found that any less doesn't really do much.

Sweet potatoes have such vast size variation that we've listed the amount you'll need in cups of chopped sweet potato rather than in number of potatoes. For us, this was one gigantic sweet potato.

1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
3 cups chopped sweet potatoes, in 1/2-inch cubes

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium-sized bowl, toss ingredients together. Spread in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rachel's Roasted Asian Pear and Fennel Soup

It's time to start planning exciting veggie side dishes to go with that big, boring Thanksgiving turkey. To jump-start your menu planning, we're blogging hearty, seasonal, late-autumn fare from now until the big day. And check out our Thanksgiving tag for inspiration from years past.

Our first Thanksgiving submission is another genius recipe from Hannah's sister! This soup combines the crisp, delicate flavors of two November favorites--Asian pears and fennel--roasted to bring out their rich, creamy potential. The result is a lovely blend of sweet and savory, an excellent first course if you're serving anything sharply-flavored like arugula. Although there are a lot of concurrent activities here, most of this recipe is inactive: you're basically just waiting around for half an hour or so while the pears and fennel roast, the stock simmers and the onions caramelize.

3 medium-sized Asian pears, diced (save the cores for stock)
1 bulb fennel, diced (save the stalks for stock and the fronds for garnish)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly-ground black pepper
1 onion, sliced into rings (save skins and trimmings for stock)
1/4 cup whole peppercorns
1/2 cup apple cider

For garnish:
Plain yogurt (optional if you want to make it vegan)
Fennel fronds

Preheat oven to 375. In a 9 x 13 inch pan, toss the fennel and pears with two tablespoons of the olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 40-45 minutes, until very soft.

Meanwhile, combine pear cores, fennel stalks, onion skins & trimmings and peppercorns in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Simmer while everything else cooks, about half an hour, then strain out solids.

While the stock is simmering and the pears and fennel are roasting, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions are browned and soft.

Now, put it all together: combine the roasted pears, fennel, 3 cups of stock, caramelized onions and cider in a blender and blend until very smooth. (We also passed ours through a food mill to remove any grainy pieces of Asian pear peel and get the texture extra-velvety.) Add salt and pepper to taste and then serve with a swirl of yogurt and some chopped fennel fronds.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Beets with Toasted Feta and Walnuts

Such simple ingredients, such total deliciousness! The synergy between the toasted walnuts, strong feta and sweet beets will keep you coming back for more.

3 large beets
olive oil
1/2 cup feta, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 375. Peel the beets and chop into 1/2 inch cubes, then transfer to a 9 x 13 inch pan and toss with a little olive oil and salt. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375 until tender (about 30-45 minutes). Remove from oven, stir in walnuts and top with feta cubes. Broil for about 5 minutes, until the feta has a golden crust.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Berkeley Rarebit

Berkeley Rarebit is like Welsh Rarebit, only with hippie-friendly flour. Other than that, we don't have a lot to add to this classic recipe, other than to say: you MUST eat this! We've been serving this boozy cheese sauce with simple vegetables to keep dinner exciting and to use up the beer that has languished in the fridge since our last party. Here, we serve it alongside roasted brussels sprouts.

2 tablespoons butter
2-3 tablespoons whole wheat flour (use extra flour for a thicker sauce)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 12-ounce bottle of beer
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, packed
black pepper

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and flour and whisk until the flour is browned. Keep whisking while you add the beer and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for about ten minutes. Add the cheese and pepper and stir until the cheese is melted. Salt isn't really necessary, but it wouldn't hurt.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Leeks and Thyme

Homey and comforting, this creamy soup contains no cream or dairy products of any kind--just vegetables, herbs and stock. Even without cream, it's still very rich, so plan to serve this as a small first course rather than a meal in itself.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small head cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
5 cups vegetable stock (you can use the green part of the leek, thyme stems and leftover garlic or onion skins to make a quick stock)

Preheat oven to 350. Toss 2 tablespoons of the olive oil with the cauliflower and sea salt in a 9 x 13 inch pan and roast for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned in places and tender.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a cast-iron skillet. Add the leeks and saute, stirring frequently, for 10-20 minutes, until wilted and starting to color. Remove from heat.

When cauliflower is done, combine cauliflower, leeks, thyme and stock in the blender and puree until very smooth. Pass through a food mill to remove any twiggy bits of thyme and get the texture ultra-silky.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Triple Almond Cookies

Over the summer we got pretty obsessed with these cookies. While we definitely don't follow the Primal Blueprint diet, we were intrigued by the idea of cookies with no flour and no sugar. So we made them no less than twenty times, tried out numerous variations, and got the thumbs-up from both gluten-free friends and consumers of regular cookies before we decided it was time to blog our version. We were going to wait until Passover, but these cookies are too good to be relegated to the "Passover dessert" category (keep them in mind when that time of year rolls around, though). These cookies have three almond sources--almond meal, slivered almonds and almond extract--with maple and warm spices singing backup. They're addictive and macaroon-like and disappear VERY quickly!

We tried both almond flour and almond meal and have found that we like almond meal better (it's a little coarser, so the texture is more complex). East Bay readers, you can get almond meal in the refrigerated section in the bulk aisle at the Berkeley Bowl, in the case with the pasta dough.

Modified from This Primal Life

1 and 1/4 cups almond meal
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (or coconut oil!)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine almond meal, slivered almonds, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Mix together melted butter, maple syrup and almond extract and add to the dry ingredients, stirring well to combine. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake on the top rack of your oven for 10 minutes, until the bottoms start to brown, and then transfer to a wire rack--they may not seem done when they come out, but they will firm as they cool and develop an amazing chewy texture. Let sit for 15-20 minutes before you EAT. THEM. ALL.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Massaged Kale Salad with Asian Pear, Smoked Gouda and Cucumber

This is one of those rare October weeks at the farmer's market where you can find summer foods like tomatoes and cucumbers alongside harbingers of fall like delicata squash and Asian pears. To take advantage of the seasonal overlap, here's another massaged kale salad! The crisp, clean taste of the cucumbers and the sweetness of the pears nicely offsets the assertiveness of the kale and gouda. If Asian pears aren't available, we've also tried this with slices of green apple with good results. Best of all, this requires no dressing beyond the olive oil used to massage the kale, making it an excellent choice for you brown-baggers who would rather not get vinaigrette all over the inside of your briefcase.

1 large bunch curly green kale, washed, de-stemmed and chopped (about 5 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large Asian pear, diced
1/2 cup cubed smoked gouda
1 small Persian or English cucumber, diced

Place kale in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Massage the kale for a few minutes, until it breaks down and wilts. Top with pear, gouda and cucumber and enjoy!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mashed Potato Pancakes

Mashed potato pancakes are an excellent way to turn leftover mashed potatoes into a whole new meal with minimal effort. If you're truly lazy and can't even work up enough energy to fry your potato pancakes, we've discovered that baking works just as well.

2 scallions
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
2 eggs
4 cups leftover mashed potatoes
Canola oil

Mix together all of the ingredients except the canola oil.

Choose your cooking method: baking or frying.

The Easy Way: Grease a cookie sheet and dot with tablespoons of batter, pressing each mound down to flatten it. Bake at 450 until the bottoms of the pancakes are golden and crispy. Flip the pancakes over, return the tray to the oven and bake until the undersides are golden. It should take about 10 minutes on each side.

The Hard But Deliciously Fatty Way: Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a cast iron skillet, medium-high. Drop 1 tablespoon of the batter into the pan. Flatten the mound of batter slightly with the back of a spoon. Add as several more mounds, then fry for about 5 minutes on each side, until the bottom is golden and crispy. Transfer to paper towels to blot the oil.

Serve with ketchup.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cumin Rice with Cashews and Raisins

More than six months after our return from Kerala, we still can't stop making this aromatic, earthy rice we discovered in cooking school. It's fantastic with curries or thoren! The only modifications we've made are to use shallots instead of onions and to substitute cooked brown rice for more traditional white basmati rice. The cashews and raisins are an easy way to turn an otherwise humble rice dish into something impressive.

One of our biggest take-aways from learning to cook South Indian food is the value of black pepper as a centerpiece spice rather than a finishing touch. Resist the temptation to just grind in a few shakes of black pepper and call it a day--measuring out the full 1/2 teaspoon, you'll see how much more it is, and using that much black pepper really makes a difference for the final product.

3 cups long-grain brown rice or brown basmati rice, cooked
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 and 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal (optional)
1 cup very thinly sliced shallots
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
a pinch of turmeric
1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil
1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup raisins

Heat the olive oil in a large wok over medium-high heat. Add the cumin and urad dal and stir until dal is brown, then add the shallots and saute until starting to brown. Now add the pepper and turmeric, stir to coat the shallots, and fold in the cooked rice. Stir well, ensuring that the shallots and spices get mixed in well. Salt to taste and set aside.

In a small skillet, heat the butter or coconut oil and saute the cashews until just barely starting to color. Add the raisins and continue stirring for about a minute longer, until raisins are puffy. Remove from heat, sprinkle raisins and cashews on the rice and serve.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Complete Beet Fritters

These came to be when we wanted to make Swiss chard fritters for a brunch potluck last month, didn't have enough Swiss chard, and substituted a grated beet for half of it. The beets worked beautifully with the warmth of the cinnamon and allspice and the slightly pink fritters were a big hit, even with self-professed beet-haters.

Beet greens get very muddy, so be sure to wash them extremely well before you cook them, since you don't want dirt in your fritters! If your beets come without greens, or if the greens are slimy and past their prime, feel free to substitute chard.

1 large bunch beet greens, rinsed well
1 beet, peeled and grated
4 eggs, beaten
1 onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup peanut oil

In a medium stockpot, bring 1 inch of water to boil. Add the beet greens, cover, and cook for 2 minutes. Drain the beet greens thoroughly and chop roughly.

Combine the beet, eggs, onion, allspice, cinnamon and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Mix well and stir in the beet greens.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. When oil sizzles upon contact with a droplet of water, drop 1 tablespoon of the batter into the pan. Flatten the mound of batter slightly with the back of a spoon. Continue adding as many mounds of the batter mixture as the skillet will allow. Fry for 3 minutes, or until golden, turning once. Drain the fritters on paper towels. Repeat this process with the remaining batter.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Almond-Battered Veggies

The concept for this batter came from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe. Katzen only uses mushrooms, but guess what we added? That's right: okra! The batter doesn't stick to the okra as easily, but it's worth the trouble. Phoebe's sister substitutes nutritional yeast for the parmesan -- a tasty option for the lactose-intolerant among you.

3 cups vegetables:
portabello mushrooms, caps sliced into 1/2 inch strips and stems sliced into 1/4 inch strips
okra, sliced in half lengthwise
gypsy peppers, sliced into long strips
zucchini, sliced into 3/8 inch strips
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, chopped roughly
dash of salt
1 egg
oil (something that can withstand heat, like canola)

Grind the almonds, cheese and salt in a food processor until the consistency is a little thicker than cornmeal, then pour onto a plate. Beat the egg into a pie pan. Dip the vegetable slices into the egg, then press them into the batter -- you'll want a nice, thick crust. Heat a skillet on medium-high with just enough oil to keep the pan greased. Cook until golden brown, about five minutes on each side, and serve immediately, preferably with ketchup.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Skillet Okra with Parmesan

OK, it's official: we've got an okra addiction. Here's another way to zap the sliminess and convert okra-haters! This is an incredibly simple and delicious preparation--good enough to eat the entire thing out of the pan (which hey, we may or may not have done), and also lovely on top of pasta with tomato sauce.

1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cups chopped okra
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan

Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the okra and salt. Fry, stirring frequently, until the okra is slightly browned. Sprinkle with cheese and transfer to the broiler. Cook for just a few minutes, until the cheese is crispy.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cornbread with Jalapeno, Cheddar and Fresh Corn

Mmm, it's finally corn season! To celebrate, we jazzed up our Thanksgiving cornbread with a spicy kick from jalapenos and some extra sweetness and texture from fresh corn kernels. It's naturally gluten-free, and you only have to get one pan dirty. (Can you tell we're in prime dish laziness season?)

1 and 1/2
cups cornmeal
3/4 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
large eggs
1 3/4
cups plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup packed grated sharp cheddar
1 tablespoon agave nectar
3 tablespoons butter
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
2 ears of corn

Preheat oven to 425°F. Stir together dry ingredients and separately beat together eggs, yogurt, cheese, agave and butter in a large bowl. Mix wet and dry ingredients.

Heat butter in a medium-sized cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add jalapenos and corn and saute 10-15 minutes, until corn is starting to caramelize a little. Remove skillet from heat, mix corn, jalapenos and melted butter into the batter, and pour batter back into the cast-iron skillet. 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.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Okra and Coconut Saute

Remember how we want to gush more about okra? Here you go! This thoren is a great way to use okra. In addition to the usual grated coconut, we tried drizzling a little leftover coconut milk on top -- we're going to start doing that all the time!

You can find grated frozen coconut in Indian grocery stores, or you can grate your own from a fresh coconut. The curry leaves are also available in Indian grocery stores--optional if you don't have access to them, delicious if you do!

1 tablespoon coconut oil (mmm!) or canola oil (mmm, accessible!)
1 1/2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
10 fresh or frozen curry leaves
20 okra pods, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup grated fresh or frozen coconut
Coconut milk for drizzling

Place a wok over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and pop for 30 seconds. Throw in the curry leaves, stir a few times, and then add the okra. Stir constantly for 7-10 minutes, until the okra starts to brown. Add grated coconut and stir 2 more minutes, then remove from heat and serve, with a drizzle of coconut milk on top.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Yellow Tomato Pesto

We've started throwing ripe tomatoes in our pesto to add some extra lubrication without too much grease. The sweet-tartness of the tomato works beautifully with the bright basil and sharp Parmesan, and this recipe takes no time at all (so of course, we had to toss it with some labor-intensive homemade ravioli to feel like we'd earned our dinner). Because of the extra tomato juiciness, this is a little thinner than a traditional pesto, which we find works well for chunky rustic pastas. We used yellow tomatoes to preserve the green color of the pesto -- it tastes just as good with red tomatoes.

1/4 cup pine nuts (toasted)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped basil
2 small yellow tomatoes
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse until smooth. Toss with the pasta of your choice.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sambhar with Okra

Do we spend enough time talking about how much we love okra? Probably not. We'd start another blog called I Heart Okra, but we're assuming there's a limited market for I Heart [Green Thing] blogs. Here's another way to showcase our favorite mucilaginous vegetable. This sambhar--inspired by versions we had in Kerala and adapted from Savoring the Spice Coast of India--is like an Indian answer to gumbo: thick, satisfying, spicy, and okra-licious.

1 and 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup yellow split peas, rinsed

3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 cup pureed tomato
2 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
1 cup minced onion
1 jalapeno chile, sliced lengthwise (you can scoop the seeds out if you want less spice)
12 branches cilantro: stems and leaves minced separately
4 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida*
1 teaspoon tamarind paste

1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 dried red chile
1 sprig curry leaves, stemmed (optional, if you can find them)
1/2 lb. okra, ends trimmed, sliced lengthwise

Combine water and dal in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer 30-40 minutes, until dal is soft.

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the fenugreek seeds and stir for 3o second or so, just until they brown. Add 2 cups water, potatoes, tomato, onion, jalapeno, cilantro stems, spices, salt and tamarind. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a wok. (Yes, we're making you dirty three separate pans! It's worth it, though). Add the mustard seeds, and when they pop, add the curry leaves and chiles and stir quickly. Throw in the okra and fry until it starts to brown, about 10 minutes or so, stirring constantly.

Now put it all together: pour the peas and okra into the large saucepan with the veggies and taste for salt. Top with the minced cilantro leaves and serve.

*ETA: Apparently asafoetida is not gluten-free, so please leave it out if you're cooking for anyone who is! Don't worry, the sambhar will still be okra-tastic and yummy.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fig, Basil and Caramelized Onion Pizza

Basil, basil, basil--it's everywhere this time of year, and we're taking advantage of the period before tomato season starts up in earnest to try some more adventurous basil pairings. The latest entry: this sizzling and decadent pizza, which combines whole basil leaves with the luscious, oozy figs that are just starting to grace our farmer's market. We've sauced this pizza with a caramelized onion and black pepper puree, which plays very nicely with the sweet figs.

A note about pizza dough: we're not providing a recipe here because the toppings--not the crust--are what makes this dish, and we don't want to deter anyone from eating this due to dietary restrictions or fear of making crust from scratch. Use a pre-made crust if you want. Our intrepid gluten-free friend Denise makes a mean crust with Pamela's baking mix. Also, full disclosure: we used the ready-made whole wheat pizza dough from the Berkeley Bowl for this. (We know, not what you've come here to hear--but until that glorious day when we can blog full-time, we've both got day jobs that sometimes preclude making crust from scratch on a weeknight).

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. pizza dough
6 figs, quartered and tossed with a little olive oil
2 cups packed grated mozzarella
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
More olive oil for greasing the pan and drizzling on top

First, caramelize the onions: heat a medium-sized cast-iron skillet, add olive oil, and cook onions over low heat, stirring occasionally, until they are completely wilted and have turned brown, about half an hour to 45 minutes. Remove from heat and puree in a food processor with the black pepper.

Next, assemble the pizza. Preheat oven to 450. Roll out pizza dough on a floured surface, transfer to a greased pan, and spread with the caramelized onion mixture. Sprinkle on the cheese and top with the basil leaves and figs. Bake about 8-10 minutes, until cheese is bubbling.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Squash Blossom Quesadillas

Have you tried squash blossoms? If you're a backyard gardener or have access to a farmer's market, give these edible flowers a shot--they have a nice zucchini flavor without any of the associated wateriness. Squash blossoms are very perishable (which is why you don't see them in supermarkets), and this is a quick and easy way to use them, inspired by the squash blossoms quesadillas we used to love at the Hillcrest Farmer's Market when we lived in San Diego.

This recipe makes two quesadillas--scale up if you feel like sharing.

1 tablespoon canola oil
6 medium-sized squash blossoms
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
4 corn tortillas

Heat the canola oil in a small cast-iron skillet or frying pan. Briefly saute the squash blossoms, approximately two minutes, until they're wilted. Remove pan from heat.

Sprinkle cheese evenly over two tortillas and divide the sauteed squash blossoms between them. Top with another tortilla.

Reheat pan (you can add more oil if you need) over medium-high heat. Cook quesadillas one at a time, about two minutes per side.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Salty Cumin Lassi

You may notice that this post is tagged "work snacks" and wonder what kind of tricked-out office kitchens we have. But seriously, you can do this--Hannah does happen to have a tricked-out office kitchen, but all you need is a glass, a water cooler, yogurt, salt, and a fork. If you keep a 32-ounce container of plain yogurt in your office fridge, you can enjoy lassis all week, either with your lunch or as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. You can even leave out the cumin and it's still delicious. And while everyone else is microwaving a soggy burrito, you'll be dreaming of India.

These measurements are approximations--just eyeball it if you're at the office with no measuring cup, since what really matters is texture.

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1/3 cup cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Whisk. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lentils with Red Wine

We have a bit of an alcohol problem in our which I mean, people bring booze when they come over for dinner, and the leftover wine sits, neglected, in the fridge for about a month. We just kind of forget to drink wine unless we have company, and that means we end up with a lot of half-drunk bottles of wine slowly turning to vinegar. This particular recipe came about because we threw the remaining 1/2 cup of Shiraz from our Seder into Hannah's breakfast lentils, immediately elevating them to lunch lentils!

Twenty cloves of garlic may seem like a lot, but browning them whole and them simmering them with the lentils really softens them up, leaving you with a sweeter taste and no garlic breath!

2 tablespoons olive oil, butter or a combination
20 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
2 cups green lentils
4 cups water
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
Za'atar and/or yogurt for topping

Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add garlic and stir for 5-10 minutes, until it starts to color a bit. Add the cumin and stir for 30 seconds to temper. Pour in lentils, water and pepper, bring to a boil, and simmer until tender, about 20-30 minutes. Add wine and salt, stir, and cook 5 minutes more. Remove from heat, sprinkle in the chopped mint, and top individual portions with yogurt and/or za'atar.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Parmesan-Crusted Fava Beans

We love fava beans, but the laborious shelling often deters us from actually dealing with them, especially on a weeknight. Enter this ingenious idea passed along to us from several of our friends at the Riverdog farm stand: blanch the pods and broil them with garlic and parmesan, rendering the entire vegetable edible! So if you love fava beans but have a mortal dread of shelling, try this (or get some therapy).

1 lb fava beans, tough strings removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan or asiago cheese

Blanch the fava beans for 5 minutes in plenty of boiling water, then drain and transfer to a large pan (or cast-iron skillet). Toss with the oil, garlic, pepper and salt, transfer to the oven and broil for 5 minutes, or until burnt spots appear. Flip, top with the cheese, return to oven, and remove when cheese is bubbly and browning. Eat pods and all, keeping an eye out for any tough strings that you may have missed.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Denise's Croatian Goat Cheese Spread

Our friend Denise (she of the tomato bounty and zucchini prowess) returned last summer from a Croatian bike riding adventure and brought this dip to a party, where it was promptly devoured by hungry guests unable to believe that it contained nothing but goat cheese and olive oil. Indeed, the Croatians appear to be masters at more-than-sum-of-parts cuisine: this is an unbelievably simple appetizer that involves nothing other than a quick stir. You can fancy it up with chopped fresh herbs or a little citrus zest, but it's totally addictive in its unadorned state, too. If you're the kind of person who has goat cheese lying around, you can whip it up for unexpected guests--thus guaranteeing a flood of future unexpected guests, so you'd better be consistent about stocking goat cheese!

8 ounces chevre
1/2 cup olive oil

Stir chevre and olive oil together with a fork until well combined. Break out the crackers and instantly become the most popular person on your block. (We've got a few gluten-free neighbors, hence the Mary's Gone Crackers in the photo above).

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cauliflower Paneer Masala

Another recipe we learned at cooking school in India. Our instructor battered his cauliflower before frying it, but we're lazy and generally not inclined to batter anything, so we tried throwing the cauliflower right into the hot oil. The result -- still fatty and delicious! Also, we can hardly be blamed for giving in to the temptation to throw a little non-traditional paneer in the oil, since it was already nice and hot. Everything is better with cheese.

1 head of cauliflower, floretted and dried
1 cup of paneer, diced into 3/4 inch cubes
1/3 cup oil (high-heat friendly, like coconut, peanut or canola)
2 large shallots, sliced into half-moons
2 sprigs curry leaves (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 inch ginger, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 1/2 teaspoons coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 cups pureed tomatoes (canned okay)
salt to taste

Optional batter:
8 tablespoons chickpea flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
sprinkle of water
black pepper

Optional: If you want to make a batter, mix the batter ingredients in a large bowl and toss in the cauliflower, stirring to coat.

Heat the oil in a wok until it's hot enough to sizzle on contact with cauliflower, but not smoking. Add the cauliflower in small batches, frying until it's tipped with brown, then remove to a paper-lined plate to drain. Repeat with the paneer, frying until it's golden brown on all six sides.

Pour off the extra oil, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pan. Set the heat to medium-high and add the curry leaves, allowing them to sizzle for 30 seconds before adding the sliced shallots. Stir continuously until the shallots are soft and brown, then add the garlic and ginger. Once they are browned and the raw smell is gone, add the tumeric, chile powder, coriander and garam masala. Stir until the onions are well coated, then pour in the pureed tomatoes. Simmer until the tomatoes are reduced, then stir in the cauliflower, paneer and salt and allow to simmer a few more minutes to meld the flavors. We served ours on a bed of upma with red cabbage.

Friday, April 24, 2009

South Indian Asparagus

It's springtime again, and that means another season of asparagus dishes! This year, it's found a home in our South Indian repertoire, brought to life by the usual suspects of mustard seeds, shallots, turmeric and chiles. Once again, if you can't find curry leaves or urad dal, just leave them out.

1 tablespoon oil or ghee
1 teaspo0n mustard seeds
2 shallots, sliced into rings
1 tablespoon urad dal
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 dried red chile, broken into three pieces
1 sprig curry leaves
1 bunch asparagus (about 30 stalks), cut into 1.5 inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat the oil in a wok over medium high-heat. When it is hot, add the mustard seeds and the urad dal. Stand back and allow them to fruy until the dal takes on a toasted color, about two minutes. Add the shallots and stir for another minute or two, only until the shallots are no longer raw. Stir in the turmeric, chile and curry leaves. As soon as the curry leaves begin to crackle, toss in the asparagus, salt and a tablespoon of water. Stir continuously, still over medium-high heat, adding a few more sprinkles of water if the asparagus gets dry. Once the asparagus is tender-crisp (5-10 minutes), remove from heat and serve immediately.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Yogurt Cheese with Za'atar

Lebneh is one of our favorite party treats: rich balls of oil-drizzled whole-milk yogurt, perfect for spreading on bread and crackers. Add some olives and a bowl of dates and you have yourself the beginnings of an awesome spread.

is a Middle Eastern spice blend that usually includes sumac, thyme and sesame seeds. Once you have some, you'll start sprinkling it on everything--especially your morning toast and scrambled eggs! If you don't have a Middle Eastern grocery store or a Middle Eastern grandma at your disposal, you can make your own or buy it online. Or just skip it!

If you're short on time, this is just as delicious served in a bowl--no need to roll the strained yogurt into individual-sized portions. The quality of the finished product depends a lot on the kind of yogurt you start with--you want a nice creamy one, not too watery. We always make ours with whole-milk yogurt; you're welcome to try it with low-fat, but nonfat might not be creamy enough.

1 quart plain whole milk yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
Za'atar for sprinkling (optional)
Olive oil for rolling & drizzling

Line a large bowl with a thick layer of cheesecloth. Pour in the yogurt, tie a knot in the cheesecloth and hang it over the bowl, as shown (refrigeration optional). Let it sit for 6-8 hours, until yogurt is very thick. The whey will drip into the bowl--don't throw it out! Add a little salt or sugar to the whey for a refreshing drink.

Transfer yogurt to a bowl and mix in salt. Rub some olive oil on your hands and roll the yogurt into golf-sized balls. Drizzle finished platter of yogurt balls with olive oil and sprinkle generously with za'atar.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Another Kale Recipe Roundup & Dehydrated Kale

We know, we know, there's no such thing as too many kale recipes. We hear you, we respect your insatiable need for kale, and we offer the following solutions.

1. Check out our Kale and Friends Tag for easy access to all our kale recipes.

2. Try a kale recipe from our favorite blogs:

101 Cookbooks:
Too many to list, but Heidi has her own Kale tag!

Eggs on Sunday:
Lacinato Kale and Ricotta Salata Salad
Breakfast Strata with Greens, Gruyere and Sausage
Greens & Beans Over Polenta

Boiled Kale with a Fried Egg and Toast

Wheat Free Meat Free:
Coconut Curry Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Desert Candy:
Tuscan Kale and Black Lentil Soup with Crispy Pita Chips
Kale and Gruyere Panade

Tuscan Kale & Bean Soup
Kale Salami Sandwich with Celeriac Chips

Parsnips Aplenty:
Kale-Potato Soup with Balsamic-Roasted Garlic

Raspberry Eggplant:
Israeli Couscous with Kale, Butternut Squash and White Beans
White Bean, Kale and Butternut Squash Pizza

Raw Epicurean:
Winter Nori Roll with Ginger Garlic Dipping Sauce

3. Dehydrate your own kale!
We've gotten several comments from readers who like to make kale chips in the oven. We wholeheartedly endorse their recipes and would like to offer up a dehydrated variation of our own. In this recipe, we've stuck to the 112 degree limit set by raw foodists, so your kale will theoretically retain more of its natural enzymes and vitamins. More nutrition and also, it's tasty.

You can dehydrate kale without dressing of any kind. (We sometimes do this and then run it through the spice grinder to make kale powder.) You could also dehydrate it with your favorite salad dressing, lemon juice or a custom spice mix. Just keep in mind that the kale will reduce in size, but the spices will not. (We ended up with a few batches of burning hot cayenne-flavored chips before we learned our lesson!)

1 bunch kale (for us, that meant 20 leaves of lacinato from Riverdog)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespooon water
1/8 teaspoon salt
pinch cayenne

Remove the kale stems and roughly chop the leaves. Whisk together all the ingredients except for the kale and then pour the dressing over the kale, massaging well for full coverage. Lay the kale on trays and dehydrate at 11o degrees until crispy and fully dry, about 7 hours.

If you don't have a dehydrator, you can make still make kale chips! Set the oven to 400 degrees and keep a close eye on the kale -- it will be done in about 10 minutes.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Date and Ginger Charoset

Another Passover, another bowl of apple-based charoset? Not around here! Syrian charoset is a sweet, gorgeous paste of dates and wine, and we've spiced up Hannah's grandma's recipe with a little ginger juice. If you have some left after your Seder (not likely!), it's fantastic for breakfast, either slathered on matzah with whipped cream cheese or stirred into a bowl of yogurt.

Hope you all have an awesome holiday, and just a reminder: kale is kosher for Passover!

1 lb dates, pitted
1-inch hunk of ginger
2 and 1/2 tablespoons of sweet red wine (Manischewitz Concord Grape being the gold standard)
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (optional)

Place the dates in a saucepan with water to cover, bring to a boil, and simmer until dates are soft, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grate the ginger and squeeze over a bowl to extract the juice; discard the pulp. Drain the dates, transfer to a food processor, and add the ginger juice, wine and cinnamon and process until very smooth. (If you're finicky and/or retired, you can also push it through a strainer to remove any fibrous bits of date skin). Top with chopped walnuts and serve.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Kale Thoren

As promised, here is our first kale-bastardized recipe from Kerala! Thoren is a dry curry with coconut and whatever vegetable strikes your fancy. While we were in India, we ate versions that used beets, okra and ivy gourd, and it turns out that thoren is also delicious made with kale--of course!

We learned to make this in Kerala with fresh grated coconut, and since returning home we've been able to find frozen grated coconut at Vik's. If you can't get fresh coconut and need to substitute dried shredded coconut, we'd recommend using less (maybe 1/4 cup) and adding it last, to prevent burning.

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon urad dal
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3 sprigs curry leaves
1 dried red chile, broken into thirds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup grated coconut (fresh or frozen)
12 leaves dinosaur kale, stemmed and chopped

Heat the oil in a wok. When it's hot, but not smoking, add the mustard seeds and urad dal. When the seeds have popped and the dal is golden-brown, add the shallots and fry, stirring continuously. Once the shallots are soft and translucent, add the curry leaves, dried chile and turmeric. Stir for 30 seconds, then add the coconut and stir for two minutes. Add the kale and keep stirring! Once the kale is nicely wilted, remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Smoky Chana Masala

Okay, we're back to blogging Indian food, but we're taking a northerly detour from curry leaves and coconut to bring you one of our favorite North Indian treats, totally bastardized so it could almost be considered Latin food. We're big fans of anything smoky-tasting, and this dish jazzes up the chana masala you're used to with several smoky accents: chipotle chile, smoked Spanish paprika and fire-roasted tomatoes.

Have some rice or a good Indian bread on hand to soak up the delicious sauce!

1 tablespoon oil or ghee (if you're a carnivore, you could try bacon grease for extra smokiness)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
5 large shallots, sliced (about 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon smoked spanish paprika (aka Pimentón)
3 cloves garlic, ground
1 1/2 inches ginger, ground
4 cups chickpeas, cooked (canned okay)
1 dried chipotle chile, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes (or you could use the kind that are canned in adobo, or just chipotle chile powder)
3 1/2 cups roasted, pureed tomatoes (fresh or canned)*
3 tablespoons tomato paste

*If you're using fresh tomatoes: Chop the tomatoes into large chunks, toss with a little oil and roast in the broiler until burnt spots appear. Stir well and roast until more burnt spots appear, then puree. If you're using canned tomatoes: Try to find Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes to get a nice smoky flavor. Puree.

Melt the ghee in a wok over medium-high heat. Once the ghee is hot, add cumin seeds. Allow the seeds to pop for 30 seconds, then add the shallots. Fry, stirring continuously, until browned. Add the tumeric, coriander and pimenton and stir. Once the onions are well coated with spice, stir in the garlic and ginger and fry until lightly browned. Add the chickpeas, chipotle, tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the tomatoes have reduced somewhat. Taste for salt and cayenne before serving.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Jicama, Grapefruit and Pepita Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing

We interrupt our regularly scheduled South Indian programming to bring you this light, refreshing salad, based on the version at a local taqueria. Thinly slicing the jicama and supreming the grapefruit really elevate the sophistication of this simple dish, and the dressing is addictive.

By "supremed" grapefruit, we refer not to the most awesome grapefruit ever (although these beauties from Kaki Farms came close), but to grapefruit sections with the skin, pith and membranes removed, leaving nothing but luscious ruby fruit. If you're new to supreming, try this tutorial.

Pepitas are hulled roasted pumpkins seeds, gorgeous little gems of folic acid and iron. The original version we ate was served by itself, but try this on a bed of salad greens to make it a heartier side dish or a light meal.

half of a large jicama, very thinly sliced (we used a mandoline on 1.5mm setting)
1/2 an avocado, thinly sliced
2 grapefruits, supremed
1/4 cup of pepitas
optional bed of mixed salad greens

for the dressing:
juice of 2 limes
zest of 1 lime
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
optional cayenne to taste

After you supreme the grapefruits, squeeze any extra juice into a small dish with the dressing ingredients. Blend up the dressing with an immersion blender and toss it with the grapefruit and jicama. Lay the grapefruit and jicama on a bed of salad greens and garnish with avocado and pepitas.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Egg Masala

On our last night in Kerala, we slept on a houseboat stationed near a rice paddy. When we awoke, our personal chef had prepared a rich egg masala and fluffy upma for breakfast. We floated along the backwaters, stuffing ourselves with spicy eggs, and we were in heaven.

Somehow, our homemade re-creation, while delicious, doesn't conjure the same kind of bliss. Maybe we missed some key ingredient that unlocks the secret of the masala. More likely? Nothing else tastes as good as what you eat while lounging in wicker furniture. Maybe you can convince someone else to make this and bring it out to you on the porch with a nice gin and tonic.

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal
4 sprigs curry leaves
2 cups of shallots, sliced into rings
1 green chile, sliced in half lengthwise
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (canned okay)
1/2 cup coconut milk
5 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
cayenne to taste

Heat the coconut oil in a wok over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, but not smoking, add the mustard seeds and urad dal. When the mustard seeds have popped, add the curry leaves and fry for about 30 seconds. Add the shallots and keep stirring continuously until they are nicely browned. Add the garlic, chili, coriander, cumin and tumeric and stir to coat. When the garlic and spices have lost their raw smell, add the tomatoes.

Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have broken down considerably, then add the coconut milk, eggs and 3/4 cup water. Continue simmering for another 15 minutes, then taste for spiciness. Add as much cayenne as you can handle, and serve over rice, upma or bread.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Banana Dal

We've been trying to perfect a household dal for a while (sometimes getting stymied by lack of Indian ingredients). And then we went to the motherland of dal, learned this recipe, and hit on perfection. Bananas are a favorite special occasion dinner ingredient around here, particularly because one of us wrote a senior thesis in college about bananas and needs to periodically bombard the other one with random trivia about ripening stages.

We've made a few adaptations at home to personalize this recipe and tweak it for the American stove. Instead of grated fresh coconut, which is used in Kerala, we've substituted coconut milk and grated dessicated coconut. This recipe was presented to us with toor dal, but we used chana dal instead because that's our favorite. We also added some tomato paste and ginger.

1 cup chana dal (or toor dal, or just plain yellow split peas)
6 cups water
2 green bananas, sliced (we're referring here to the most unripe bananas you can find in your produce section, not to unripe plantains)
4 large shallots - two for paste, two sliced into rings
1/4 cup grated coconut
4 cloves garlic
1-inch piece of ginger
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1-2 sprigs curry leaves
1 dried red chile
1 green chile, sliced lengthwise
1 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 cup coconut milk
1-2 tablespoons tomato paste
about 1 teaspoon salt

Bring dal and water to boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes or until dal is soft. Add bananas when dal is nearly done and simmer gently for five more minutes.

Meanwhile, grind two of the shallots with the garlic, ginger and cumin in a food processor until you have a coarse paste. Add the grated coconut last, and pulse a few more times.

Heat the coconut oil in a wok on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds and pop. Add curry leaves and dried red chile and stir for a minute. Add the two sliced shallots and chile and fry until browned, stirring continuously. Add the tumeric and stir to coat the shallots. Stir in the garlic/shallot paste and keep it moving until the raw smell is gone and there's a nice golden color.

Add the contents of the wok, the tomato paste and the coconut milk into the pot with the dal and banana. Stir to mix, then simmer for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, to meld the flavors and allow the banana to fully cook. Add salt and serve with a delicious flatbread -- the one shown here is uttapam.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Keralan Spinach in Yogurt

Where have we been?

Oh, you know, cooking school in the most gorgeous part of India, Kerala.

It was the best vacation we've ever taken, hands-down. (No offense to Phoebe's mom, who offers up awesome accommodations every time, but you can't get a young coconut with a straw in it on every corner in Western Massachusetts). We came home with a deepened appreciation for South Indian food (very different from what you get in most Indian restaurants in the US) and over 30 recipes, which we plan to convert from the metric system, bastardize with kale, and blog.

For our first Haritha Farms recipe, we offer this interesting take on spinach--rather than eating it raw or flash-sauteing it, you'll cook it down with South Indian seasonings until it starts to caramelize on the pan and then mix it with plain yogurt. It's an excellent accompaniment to rice and curries, and an unexpected way to get your greens in.

Ingredient notes: urad dal is used raw, like a spice, in Keralan cooking. If you can't find it in your local Indian grocery store (AKA you don't have a local Indian grocery store), it's OK to leave it out. The yogurt in India was much waterier than our favorite yogurt, so we diluted it with a little water. If you have homemade yogurt, or your yogurt is on the watery side, skip the extra water.

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons urad dal (optional)
2 large shallots, sliced (about 1 cup)
1 green chile, sliced
1-inch piece of ginger, finely minced or ground
1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced or put through a press
6 cups (1/2 pound) chopped fresh spinach
1 and 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1/2 cup water, if needed (see headnote)

Heat a wok over medium-high heat and melt the coconut oil. When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds and urad dal and fry (without stirring) until the mustard seeds are almost fully popped and the dal is golden brown. Add shallots and stir until browned, then add chili, ginger and garlic and stir until the garlic is browned and the raw smell is gone.

Add the chopped spinach and cook over high heat, continually stirring, for about 20 minutes. Be persistent! The spinach will reduce more than you could ever imagine and release sugars that will stick to the pan. When you're certain that the spinach can't reduce any more, remove it from the heat. Once it's cooled to room temperature, stir in the yogurt and water and serve.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Beets with Yogurt and Cumin

This sweet pachadi combines the earthy flavors of beets and cumin in a great winter side dish, a nice Indian variation on our other beet salad. We like to serve this alongside mjeddra for complete nourishment. Try cooking the beets a day ahead to cut down on kitchen time.

4 medium beets
1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Scrub beets, halve any large ones, and cover with water in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for 40 minutes to an hour, until tender. Once the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them, and chop them into 1-inch cubes.

Heat the butter in a small pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted, add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, pour the butter and spices over the beets. Add yogurt and stir. (If you stir very gently, you'll end up with a lovely marbelized sauce. Stir more vigorously for a uniformly pink sauce). Chill before serving.