I find that North African food and Indian food mix and match beautifully. So when I was serving an Indian-themed dinner for the first night of Rosh HaShana, I didn’t hesitate to use this Moroccan beet salad as a side dish. Aside from being healthy and delicious, beets add such vibrant color to any table and when paired with bright oranges there are few foods that are more visually stunning. I saw this recipe in the Chicago Tribune and immediately decided to include it in my holiday dinner. Since now you can easily purchase pre-roasted and peeled organic beets in your grocery store, this dish only takes minutes to prepare. I prepped all of the elements ahead of dinner and then combined them just as my guests were arriving. If you add the oranges too soon, they will pick up the color from the beets and while the salad will still taste wonderful, the effect of the contrasting colors will not be as pronounced. And here for a perfect pairing of Moroccan and Indian….
Moroccan Beet and Orange Salad by Joan Nathan from “King Solomon’s Table”
Yield: 8-10 servings
6 to 8 medium beets
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 to 3 navel oranges
Juice of 1 small lemon
2 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin, or to
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp. chopped green
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Rinse the beets, rub them with the olive oil, and then wrap them in foil and put them on a baking sheet. Roast them for about one hour until tender when poked with a fork. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets and cut into bite-size wedges. (Or buy pre-roasted and peeled beets, simply drain and cut them.)
With a sharp knife, cut off the tops and bottoms of the oranges. Slice off the peel and the white pith and cut in between the white membranes to extract individual segments.
Mix the lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl or jar. Whisk in the olive oil, then toss with the beets. Let sit for a few hours at room temperature.
Just before serving, add the orange segments and sprinkle with the parsley and pistachio nuts for color.
I saw this recipe in the weekend Wall Street Journal and immediately decided I had to make it. It either can be made with shredded chicken or cubed tofu for a vegan version. This time I went for the chicken, but I’m sure that I will also make the vegan version in future. The spices are what make this dish, so while I freely admit that I am not always such a purist and will use bought spice mixes and pre-ground spices, there are times when I will go all out and grind my own and this is one of those times. Relatively recently I have been seeing fresh turmeric in my grocery store, but had never bought it until now. Since I do both Mediterranean and Indian cooking, I knew that the turmeric would not be wasted and decided to give it a try. I understand that it also can be used as an herbal infusion, which is supposed to have many health benefits as an anti-inflammatory.
Obviously this dish is not something you are going to make after you arrive home late from work, but it is fun to try for a lazy Sunday. I did cheat by using a store-made roasted organic chicken since I am all for short-cuts when they don’t compromise the end product. I followed the recipe pretty strictly (unusual for me) except I did not bother to strain the curry or put it into a new clean pot before adding the chicken and final ingredients. That just seemed like needless extra work to me and I can live happily with a bit of texture in my final dish.
Thai Style Yellow Curry with Sweet Potato by Mary-Frances Heck from her new cookbook Sweet Potatoes: Roasted, Loaded, Fried, and Made into Pie’ (Clarkson Potter)
Yield: 4 servings
15-ounce can coconut milk (full-fat, please)
For curry paste
1 Tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
3 dried small, hot chilies such as Arbol
3/4 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup garlic cloves, peeled
Chopped stems from one bunch of cilantro
1 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1-inch piece fresh turmeric, peeled and thinly sliced (or 1 Tablespoon ground turmeric, if you must)
1 large orange-fleshed sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cups water
About 12 ounces shredded cooked chicken or firm tofu, cut into cubes (I ended up using an entire small rotisserie chicken)
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 pound Chinese-style egg noodle (See Note at the bottom.)
Thinly sliced shallots
Place the unopened can of coconut milk in the freezer for 15 minutes to solidify the layer of cream at the top.
In a dry skillet set over medium heat, toast the seeds, shaking the pan frequently until fragrant and a few of the mustard sees pop, about 1 minute.
Pour the seeds into a dish to cool. Place the hot chilies into the dry pan and toast, turning them as they puff and turn bright red, about 30 seconds. Allow the chilies to cool.
Once the spices have cooled, place them between waxed or parchment paper and using a heavy pan, crack the spices.
Add the cracked spices, shallots, garlic, cilantro stems, turmeric and ginger to the bowl of a food processor or blender and pulse to form a paste.
Open the can of coconut milk and spoon the solid cream into a heavy medium pot. Set over medium heat and melt the coconut cream. Add the curry paste and stir through, frying the paste for about 1 minute or until smooth and everything is combined. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking uncovered, stirring frequently until the paste darkens a shade and orange oil begins to seep from the paste – about 8 minutes.
Stir in the remaining coconut milk, the cubed sweet potato and 3 cups of water. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer, uncovered. Cook, stirring often until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
Using a standing blender, puree the mixture in batches until smooth. Please be sure that the liquid has cooled first and do in batches. Otherwise, you will be cleaning up a mess! I tried using an immersion blender but I just couldn’t get the mixture smooth enough. (The directions then say to strain the curry through a fine-mesh sieve, but after trying to do this, I thought it was a total waste of time, although it will make for a thinner curry. If like me you are okay with a slightly thicker end product then simply puree it well in the blender and skip the sieve. It also said to transfer to a clean pot. REALLY?! No way.)
Stir in the shredded chicken or cubed tofu, the fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice and salt. Adjust the seasoning to taste by adding more fish sauce or brown sugar. Warm through. The curry is only moderately spicy. I found the flavors delicious and very subtle – rounded out by the sweet potato and coconut milk. If you are looking for something with more heat, you will need to use a hotter chili pepper or simply add more hot chili oil.
Cook the noodles according to the package and drain well. Divide the noodles into 4 bowls and ladle the hot curry over the top. Garnish.
NOTE: While the recipe called for noodles, I would use rice the next time I make this. The dish is quite rich tasting and I think the rice provides a better foil.
We returned this week from a fabulous two weeks of hiking in the Wasatch and High Uintas. Being 11,000 feet up really gives you perspective. And it was great to be together with Frances and Matthew and I’m proud that all of my training over the past six months paid off and I almost held my own with those two “mountain goats.” We hiked all day and then I indulged my love of burgers, fries and beers at night. Since I lost three pounds, I can absolutely recommend this diet! However, after more burgers than I normally eat in a year (and yes, we did eat other things too since Park City, Utah now has some wonderful restaurants) I am ready for some good vegan food. And since the High Holidays begin at sundown on the 20th and I am hosting family dinner, I also want to keep things simple. I came across this recipe on the kitchn a few months back and have made it successfully several times. While I take issue with the suggested “4” servings, it otherwise is a very satisfying and easy weeknight meal. Even my husband has made this and normally he sticks to making the occasional pancake. If you add rice, you will definitely have a more substantial meal that may eke out the suggested 4 servings. And if you substitute agave or date syrup for the honey, the dish will be vegan.
NOTE added 4/14/2018: For an even tastier sheet pan dinner, substitute a pound of sugar snap peas for the green beans and add 8 ounces of thickly sliced Cremini or Baby Bella mushrooms. Everything cooks the same. Just add the mushrooms with the peas. If you are feeling especially lazy, use a good store-bought teriyaki sauce in place of the sauce below.
Oil or cooking spray
14 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon honey or agave
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger (I use the one that is prepared in a jar)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil plus more for drizzling
1 pound green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
4-6 scallions, white and light green part only, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds (I used toasted black sesame seeds because I couldn’t locate my regular sesame seeds in my pantry.)
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray. (Line the pan with foil first for easy clean-up.)
Meanwhile, line a large plate with paper towels, and place the tofu on top. Cover with more paper towels and place a heavy item on top, pressing down on the tofu. Let rest for at least 10 to 30 minutes.
Whisk the soy sauce, garlic, honey, ginger, and sesame oil together in a large bowl; set aside.
Cut the tofu into triangles and place in a single layer on one side of the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with soy sauce mixture. Bake until golden-brown on the bottom, 12 to 13 minutes.
Flip the tofu. Add the green beans onto the opposite side of the baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes; season with salt and pepper.
Return to the oven and bake until the tofu is golden-brown on the second side, 10 to 12 minutes more. Sprinkle with the scallions and sesame seeds, drizzle with a little toasted sesame oil and serve immediately.
I first got into cooking because I was bored. Matt once lived in Norwalk, CT, which has very little to do in the wintry months. When I visited I decided that making elaborate dinners and desserts and breads would be a good way to pass the time. Before I got into cooking, however, we would go out to the nice restaurants in town, including one with the irresistible name of Chocopologie. Google informs me it no longer exists, but back in 2009 and 2010 it was a great place to get fondue in southwestern Connecticut.
Anyhow, many years later, we were visiting Cooperstown, NY and stopped into the gift shop of the farming museum. (Long story.) Among many cookbooks, we noticed one with “Chocopologie” emblazoned on the cover on top of a picture of delicious-looking truffles. A quick flip through the book suggested it had lots of tasty items, so we got it.
For some reason it took a while to find an occasion to use it, but finally we decided to go with this amazing recipe. Serving size suggestions seem silly since the two of us finished the entire thing in two sittings…
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 tbsp ground blanched or slivered almonds
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg
14 oz bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli but Guittard or Scharfen-Berger would also be great)
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
2 tbsp honey
3 tbsp butter (although I apparently forgot about this and it turned out fantastic anyways)
To make the crust:
In a food processor, pulse together the flour, confectioners’ sugar, almonds, baking powder and salt.
Add the butter pieces and cut them into the mixture, and then add an egg until the dough comes together.
Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours (or make it ahead and freeze it).
Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8″ thick and at least 12″ in diameter. Life the dough and drape it over a 10″ tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough into the tart pan. Trim the overhanging dough. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400F.
Line the tart crust with parchment paper or waxed paper and fill it with dried beans to weight it.
Bake the weighted tart crust for about 15 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking until the crust is light golden brown, about 15-20 minutes more.
Transfer tart pan to a wire rack, remove the parchment paper and pie weights and cool completely (about an hour).
To make the filling:
Put the chocolate chips into a heatproof bowl.
In a heavy saucepan, combine the cream, 1 cup of the raspberries, and the honey and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it’s bubbling, pour the cream mixutre over the chocolate, adding one-third at a time and stirring after each addition.
When the filling is as smooth as possible, add the butter, mixing until the filling is well blended.
Pour the filling into the cooled tart crust. Let set at room temperature, 3 to 4 hours. If not serving right away, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Decorate the tart with the remaining 1/2 cup raspberries (or use more, if you want) and serve.
Soak the rice in cold water to cover for about 30 minutes. Then drain well through a sieve.
Heat the oil or ghee in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the onions and saute until the onion becomes translucent and softens. Add the well-drained rice, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, saffron, cashews and raisins and stir for 2 minutes, coating everything with the onions and oil or ghee.
Add 3 cups of cold water to the pot along with the salt. Bring to a boil, cover tightly and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the rice is tender and fluffy and all of the water is absorbed. (The cooking time will depend on the brand of rice and how long it soaked prior to cooking.) Stir through with a fork and serve.
Over the past year I have become a HUGE Bollywood fan – and Netflix made me do it! If you have never watched a Bollywood movie, it takes a bit of getting used to but I highly recommend it. Salman Khan, my heart be still! And the women. There is a joyousness in these films, that is sometimes hard-won, but the journey is worth going through 3 hours (or more at times) of all of the ups and downs of the characters. While I began my Bollywood journey with older films, you might want to start with Bajrangi Bhaijaan, the story of a mute Pakistani child lost in India and the Indian man of pure heart who is determined to return her to her family despite the considerable dangers for him involved in crossing the border illegally. My husband cried for at least half of the movie. And for those who might want a bit more of an action film, try Kick. The music and dancing is contagious and while typically silly at times, there is enough action for two Mission Impossible movies as well as a deeper message. And for a smaller movie there is Queen about a young bride-to-be rejected at the alter who goes on a journey of self-discovery and finds her inner strength and independence. Or you could choose a retelling of King Lear in Baghban. I found it refreshing that so many of the films carried a deeper message that promoted family, women’s empowerment, inequality in healthcare and education for poor and orphaned children and the need to tolerate religious divisions in society.
So what does this have to do with food? Well as followers of this blog know, I have always loved Indian food. But now I am even more excited about making it at home. So I have been going through my cookbooks and online to search out the best Indian meals to make at home. (And I have been buying up Indian jewelry on eBay and watching online videos to watch how Kareena Kapoor applies kohl to her eyes…) This meal comes partly from a cookbook by the film director Ismail Merchant, famous for movies like Remains of the Day, Howards End and my personal favorite, A Room With a View. Apparently he enjoyed cooking for cast members and friends and this cookbook was a by-product. Since I generally search out several versions of a recipe before attempting it for the first time, I ended up going with a different version for the lamb that I found online. However, at Merchant’s suggestion, I served it with a Bismati Pullao (Pilaf) (See recipe which follows.)
Yield: 4-8 servings, depending on how many sides or other dishes you are serving
6 Tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cubed
2 large onions
8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed through a garlic press or minced
2 bay leaves
3 black cardamom pods (I only had green pods so used those)
2-inch cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1-inch ginger, peeled and crushed or grated or 1 Tablespoon fresh, ground ginger that you buy in a jar
2 large tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1 teaspoon paprika or Kashmiri chili powder
1 teaspoon hot chili powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
Salt to taste
Handful fresh coriander (cilantro)
Peel and slice the onions finely.
Next, bring the oil to medium heat in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. When it is hot, toss in the whole spices, and as they sizzle up, add the sliced onions with a pinch of salt and sauté for about 15 minutes until golden. If the onions start getting stuck to the bottom of the pan, add a little hot water and scrape off.
Then, mix in the ginger and garlic and cook for another minute. Roughly chop the tomatoes and toss them in. Cook this masala paste for about five minutes, stirring regularly. When the tomatoes start to disintegrate, mix in the coriander, fenugreek, paprika (or Kashmiri chili) and chili powder. Add half a cup of hot water and keep stirring. As the water cooks off, lower the heat to a simmer, add another cup of hot water and cook for another five minutes.
At this point you will see oil oozing out of little pores in the paste. Bring the heat to medium high again, and stir in your lamb chunks. Mix the paste into the meat well, browning it for a good five minutes until it’s well coated. Then add enough hot water to cover the lamb pieces, cover and cook for half an hour then take the lid off and cook for another half an hour uncovered.
Stir in salt and garam masala to finish, simmering for the last 10 minutes until you have a rich, dark, moist lamb curry. Garnish your Kashmiri Gosht with chopped fresh coriander if using and serve hot, with Basmati rice and a thick dal of your favorite lentil.