Thai Style Yellow Curry with Sweet Potato

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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

Ingredients

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)

For curry

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.)

Garnish

Thinly sliced shallots

Cilantro leaves

Lime juice

Chile oil

Directions

  1. Place the unopened can of coconut milk in the freezer for 15 minutes to solidify the layer of cream at the top.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Once the spices have cooled, place them between waxed or parchment paper and using a heavy pan, crack the spices.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.)
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

 

 

Sheet Pan Honey(Agave)-Sesame Tofu and Green Beans

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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.

Sheet Pan Honey (Agave)-Sesame Tofu and Green Beans by Hali Bey Ramdene on the kitchn

Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients

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)
Kosher salt
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.)

Directions

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. Whisk the soy sauce, garlic, honey, ginger, and sesame oil together in a large bowl; set aside.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. IMG_3603

Bismati Pullao

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This Bismati pilaf would be a delicious accompaniment to many Indian meals or a side for grilled meat or fish. I used it to accompany Kashmiri Spiced Lamb (See previous recipe).

Bismati Pullao from Ismail Merchant’s Indian Cuisine

Yield: 4-6 servings (Can be doubled)

Ingredients

1.5 cups Basmati rice

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

2-inch piece of cinnamon stick

4 whole cloves

1 bay leaf, crumbled

1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads

1/2 cup raw cashews (or pistachios)

1/2 cup seedless golden raisins

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions

  1. Soak the rice in cold water to cover for about 30 minutes. Then drain well through a sieve.
  2. 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.  IMG_3567
  3. 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.

 

 

Cauliflower and Peas (Ghobi Aur Matar)

Cauliflower and Edamame

I served this dish as a side to my Goan chicken (See previous recipe), but it would also be delicious over rice as part of a vegetarian or vegan meal. While it is traditionally made with peas, the fresh edamame looked so good at the store that I used them instead. This recipe came from a wonderful vegetarian Hindu cookbook that I have had for years called the Flavors of India.

Cauliflower and Peas (Ghobi Aur Matar) from the Flavors of India by Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff

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Ingredients

1 large cauliflower

4 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Kosher salt to taste

2 cups fresh or frozen, defrosted peas or edamame

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/3 cup of water

Juice of 1/2 large lemon

Directions

  1. Separate the cauliflower into smallish florets.
  2. In a frying pan or wok, place the cumin and mustard seeds in the oil over a moderate flame. When the seeds have all started to pop, add the cauliflower, turmeric and salt. IMG_3424
  3. Saute for about 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cook covered for 3-5 minutes more. IMG_3428
  4. Uncover the pan and add the peas or edamame and the remaining spices. Mix well. Add the water, cover and cook for about 5-10 minutes more, depending on how tender you like your cauliflower. I tend to like my vegetables firm.
  5. Add the lemon juice, mix through and serve.

Red Cabbage Lime Cilantro Cole Slaw

Red Cabbage Lime Cilantro Cole Slaw

So I had half of head of red cabbage leftover from my red cabbage, goat cheese and walnut salad and hated for it to go to waste. I was making some lovely grilled trout and corn on the cob for dinner and thought about what would go well alongside that would be fast, easy and didn’t require any ingredients that weren’t already in my fridge. I was able to throw this together in minutes in the morning and left it covered on my counter until dinner. I hadn’t planned on blogging about this since it seemed almost too simple. But when my husband saw how beautiful it looked he decided to take a photo. And then of course, it tasted great. So especially now that it is officially barbecue season, this is one side that goes with just about any grilled meat or fish. I don’t actually have a grill, but broiled or oven roasted foods work well too. The amounts are a guideline and can easily be doubled or tripled.

Red Cabbage Lime Cilantro Cole Slaw 

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

1/2 small head of red cabbage, cored and sliced thinly

1 medium carrot, peeled and grated with the large grate (or if you are REALLY lazy, you could use the bought julienned carrots)

Juice of 2 fresh limes

4 Tablespoons EVOO (I used a Meyer Lemon EVOO but you could use just a good quality plain EVOO)

1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin

1 small bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped

freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Directions

Toss everything in a non-reactive bowl and cover for a few hours, tossing when you think of it.

Vegan Apple Raisin Cake with Applejack Sauce

vegan-apple-cake6My niece and nephew hosted Friday night dinner and I agreed to help by making dessert. Because of dietary restrictions, the dessert needed to be vegan. I decided to use this as an opportunity to come up with a new apple cake recipe that would be good enough for Thanksgiving or anytime you wanted something special for a crowd. I am using the Smitten Kitchen Apple Cake and my own Vegan “Honey” Cake as the source for this inspiration. This cake will not only feed a crowd, but is actually better made ahead so the flavors can fully develop. I find when I am preparing for a big holiday dinner, I like things that I can make ahead so I am not exhausted on the day when everyone descends. This cake could even be frozen without the Applejack sauce which could then be made the morning of or the night before you are going to serve it. Just defrost the cake fully before serving. And if you don’t want the Applejack sauce, you could simply dust this with confectioner’s sugar when you get ready to serve it. After a day, the center of this cake takes on an almost bread pudding-like consistency, fragrant with apples, raisins and spice.

Vegan Apple Raisin Cake with Applejack Sauce

Yield: About 10 servings  vegan-apple-raisin-cake

Ingredients

For the cake

5-6 flavorful baking apples (There are so many varieties out there and they differ locally so choose something other than Granny Smith. It could be McIntosh, Honeycrisp, Jazz, Jonagold, Braeburn, Ambrosia…) I used Jonagold and because they were on the biggish side, I used 5 apples.

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 cups plus 5 Tablespoons granulated or Demerara sugar

3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt

1 cup Canola or other vegetable oil

Zest of one lemon

1/4 cup apple cider or apple juice, preferably fresh

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

3/4 cup raisins soaked for at least 1 hour in 1/4 cup Applejack, Apple Brandy or Apple Cider

Aquafaba from one 15.5 ounce can of chickpeas (This is the liquid from the can that has been strained. Use the chickpeas for a wonderful salad or in homemade hummus.)

For the Applejack Sauce

1.5 cups of confectioner’s sugar

4 Tablespoons Applejack (Hard cider) or apple cider

2 to 3 Tablespoons apple juice or cider OR reserved liquid from apple-raisin mixture

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

For the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Either butter and flour a 10-inch tube pan with straight sides or use one of the cooking sprays with flour (Baker’s Joy or Pam – these have been a revelation for me and have made cake baking so much easier!)
  2. Peel, core and chop the apples into 1/2-inch dice. Toss them with the cinnamon, 5 Tablespoons of sugar and the lemon zest.
  3. Using a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, apple cider, vanilla and remaining 2 cups of sugar.
  4. Drain the chickpeas, placing the liquid in the bowl of a standing mixer. Using the balloon whisk attachment, whip the aquafaba on high for 10 minutes. You should have soft white peaks.
  5. Stir the oil mixture into the dry ingredients. The result will be quite stiff. Drain the raisins and add them to the apples. Pour the remaining liquid into the batter. Now scrape all of the whipped aquafaba into the stiff batter and mix thoroughly with a heavy spoon until you have a smooth, workable batter. This takes a little elbow grease!
  6. Pour 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan. Using a spoon or your hands, take 1/2 of the apple-raisin mixture, straining any liquid that may be in the bowl and reserving it and place the apples-raisins over the batter in the pan. The reserved liquid can be added to your Applejack sauce. Cover the apples with the remaining batter and gently smooth it out so the batter is even. Now take the remaining apples-raisins and cover the top of the batter, gently pushing the mixture into the batter.
  7. Place the pan in the hot oven and bake for about 1.5 to 1.75 hours or until a tester comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and cool completely. The top will sink down some but don’t worry – it’s fine. When you are ready to serve, turn out the cake and carefully flip it over onto a serving platter so that the apples are now on top again. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve the sauce on the side, if you are using it.

For the Applejack Sauce

  1. Sift the sugar to get rid of any lumps.
  2. Whisk all of the other ingredients together. Taste and adjust the sweetness by adding more confectioner’s sugar, if desired. Just before serving, give it a good stir with a fork or whisk. You can zap it in the microwave briefly, if you like- just enough to warm it without killing off the alcohol.  vegan-apple-cake5

Fruit Compote

img_2741I don’t know if it is because my parents are both now dead or if it is because the world seems like such an unsettled place these days – or simply because it is winter – but I seem to be turning more and more to simple comfort foods. I’m sure you noticed that I did not say because I am getting older! While it may seem strange, I have never been what I term a “foodie.” I have not been terribly interested in fads and eating at fancy restaurants where they mist my food in front of my nose and call it dinner. That is no place that I want to eat. I may enjoy the artistry involved in some of these creations, but it is not how I would choose to spend my money or tickle my palate.

I have been making this fruit compote for as long as I can remember and my mother made it before that. I have no idea where the recipe, such as it is, came from. It is simple to make and wonderfully versatile. It is equally good on its own as it is over a good pound cake and I have used it to stuff Rock Cornish Hens or loin of pork. It lasts a very long time in the fridge and every time I eat it, I recall my father teasing my mother about serving “ein bisschen com-putt.”

There is no magic mixture of fruit to use and you can buy packages of mixed fruit. I would recommend buying really good quality dried fruit, preferably unsulphured. I usually make sure that I have dried apples, pears, apricots or peaches, prunes and figs, but I will use what I happen to have around as I have done this time because I am too lazy to go shopping. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. This can be enjoyed warm, at room temperature or even cold from the fridge over vanilla ice cream. This humble dish will definitely brighten these dark days. Tomorrow I will post an orange currant pound cake to go well with this.

Fruit Compote

Yield: About 10 servings

Ingredients

1.5 pound of mixed dried fruits

3 cups of cold tap water

3 fat cinnamon sticks

1 teaspoon of whole cloves

1.5 cups of granulated sugar

2 or 3 thinly sliced strips of lemon peel, yellow part only

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Directions

  1. Soak the dried fruit in the water for 3 hours
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F
  3. Drain the liquid through a sieve into a saucepan and arrange the fruit in a non-metal baking dish
  4. Add the sugar to the water and cook the mixture on medium high heat for a few minutes, stirring until the sugar is dissolved
  5. Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves and lemon peel in with the fruit. Pour the sugar syrup over everything
  6. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes to one hour or until the fruit is plump and tender. How firm you want your fruit is a matter of personal taste
  7. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fruit and allow it to cool. I like to store mine in a glass jar.