Category: Reviews


Egg Kulambu

Looking for something to do with those leftover hardboiled eggs you have laying around after Easter?  Try this awesome South Indian recipe I stumbled across–it only requires an onion, a tomato, a can of tomato sauce, some garlic, and a variety of pretty standard Indian spices.  It’s called Egg Kulambu, and it filled my kitchen with the most delightful smells as it simmered away on the stove.  I used roughly twice as much tomato sauce as the recipe called for (and reduced the amount of water accordingly) because I didn’t want half a can of tomato sauce sitting around.  I actually like the way it made the sauce a bit thicker.  This dish would be excellent served over rice or with some naan, although I actually ended up eating it like soup with some toast on the side.

Be forewarned – this dish does pack a powerful punch, so if you’re sensitive to spicy foods, you may want to cut back on the cayenne a bit. But if you, like me, have been searching for a South Indian recipe that doesn’t hold back on the spices, go for it!

But you may want to have a glass of milk handy, just in case.

That's cilantro on top.  Fresh would be better if you have it...

Egg Kulambu by Alamelu Vairavan

P.S. A note about hard boiling eggs: I usually use this method from Simply Recipes, and I’ve never overcooked my eggs with it.  But I still spend the whole time standing over the pot, worrying if they’re going to come out right.  If anyone has any foolproof tips, leave them in the comments!

Advertisements

For dinner on Saturday night we had a reservation at Natural Selection, a tiny all-vegetarian restaurant that came highly recommended on Yelp.  Since my husband is vegetarian, and there are at least 74 vegetarian restaurants in Portland (compared to only one at home!), we had a bit of a hard time deciding where to go until we read the reviews and found Natural Selection.  We were super excited to try it out, and it definitely delivered!

The four course menu is pre-set by the chef; you simply choose Column A or Column B – we went for one of each so we could share and get to try everything.

Bright green!

Course 1A: Chilled sweet pea soup

[Course 1B: It was eaten too fast to get a picture!]

Course 2A: Melon salad with fried capers

Course 2B: Pickled radish salad with a 7-minute egg

Palate cleanser: cherry lemon granita

Course 3A: Succotash with a kale “purse” filled with rice and edamame

Course 3B: Squash gratin with carrots and potatoes

Molecular gastronomy!

Course 4A: Cherry parfait with cherry gumdrop cubes

Course 4B: Apricot bread pudding with blueberries

Everything we had was absolutely, fantastically delicious!  The crunchy garnish on the sweet pea soup played perfectly off of the flavor of the peas which can best be described as, well, green.  In an awesome way.  The 7-minute egg was perfectly cooked and its richness perfectly complemented the radishes in the salad.  The sweet melons played brilliantly off the salty capers.  And the desserts…I had the cherry parfait and I really didn’t want to share.  The tartness of the cherries, the sweetness of the cream…and the gumdrop cubes on the side!  Molecular gastronomy at its finest!  (I have always loved gumdrops…)  I know it’s hard to decide where to eat in Portland because there are so very very many delicious restaurants, but seriously, go to Natural Selection.  (Just make sure you have a reservation!)

If you love food, you have to go to Portland. Full stop.

Right by Voodoo Doughnuts!

My husband and I just got back from our 10 day honeymoon to Portland (and Newport), Oregon where we had the most amazing time! We saw waterfalls, wandered around in the huge Japanese garden and the International Rose Test Garden, enjoyed the wonders of Powell’s Books, visited wine country in the Willamette Valley, braved the icy (okay, 58 degree) wind to stroll along the beach in search of tide pools…and had some of the best meals we’ve ever eaten in our lives!!

Those of you who follow me on Twitter already got a preview of some of the great food we had, but it’s definitely going to take me more than one post to tell you all about it!  So stick around–I’ll try to get posts up as quickly as possible but it’ll take a little while to get all the photos edited, etc.

Part I:

Friday:  We got to Portland around dinner time (or after dinner time if you factor in the time difference!) so we decided to go to Saucebox since it was only a few short blocks from our hotel.  In retrospect, this was probably not the best place to go when you’re starving and tired from having spent the majority of your day on planes and in airports.  The service was extraordinarily slow (seemingly due to disorganized management more than anything else – our server seemed perfectly nice and competent when she was actually at our table) and the food, while good, was not quite able to compensate.  (Though the five spice cauliflower is definitely worth trying, and the jackfruit sorbet was quite tasty, as was the fudgy brownie).  But there is one reason why Saucebox should still definitely be on your list of places to go in Portland: their bartender.  The bartender at Saucebox is an absolute genius and you absolutely have to try their cocktails!  I had the Jade Scorpion which they describe as: “house-infused thai chili vodka, house-infused ginger vodka, muddled with thai basil, grapefruit, lemon-lime, finished with ginger brew”.  Basically it tastes like Thai food in a glass, and is the single best cocktail I have ever had in my life.

Yum!

The best cocktail ever.

Saturday:  The next day we hopped on the MAX train to go to the Portland State University farmer’s market.  Move over, Disney World, because I’m pretty sure that this farmer’s market is the happiest place on earth!  I believe the first words out of my mouth were: “I want to move here!!!!!”

Panorama!

Just one small part of the market.

The market was filled with booth after booth of delicious looking organic produce of every type imaginable–mushrooms, tomatoes, squash, greens, carrots, potatoes, beans, apricots, berries of every type…and CHERRIES!  So very many cherries!  Of course you had your regular Bings and pie cherries and ridiculously cheap Rainier cherries (seriously…we paid about $2.50 for a whole big bag of them!  They cost $8.99/lb at home!) but then there were other kinds which I had never heard of before (I wish I had written them all down!) including these huge cherries that filled your whole mouth with delicious cherry goodness!

My favorite kind of cherry ever!

Cherries!

At first we just wandered around in awe, admiring the great heaps of produce and then, as we hadn’t had breakfast yet, we got down to the business of sampling.  The free samples were abundant, with farmers at every booth encouraging you to try their products without pressuring you to buy anything.  We tried fresh milk from a nearby farm (they had an album with pictures of their cows!), fresh cheese, kimchee (there were four kinds!  I had never had kimchee before, but all were delicious!), blueberries, raspberries, golden raspberries, cherries (of course!), sea beans (salty!), and much more!  But farmers weren’t the only ones with booths there.  Local restaurants and bakeries had booths that were filling the air with delicious aromas!

Frying up fresh chicken to go with their hot biscuits!

The line was a mile long for Pine State Biscuits!

Hungry for something a bit more substantial than the samples we’d been trying, we made our way over to a booth that was selling pies. So many pies.  We hung back for a bit, wondering how we were ever to decide on a flavor and then we noticed the hand pies.  Cute little half-moon shaped pies that were just begging us to buy them.  I went for the Italian one–multiple kinds of salami, some spicy peppers, a bit of cheese…and the most flaky delicious crust you can possibly imagine!  My husband went for the vegetarian option of caramelized onions and bleu cheese–also delicious and coated in the same perfectly flaky crust!  We devoured them so quickly that I didn’t even think to snap a picture!  To go with our pies, we stopped at the next booth which was selling freshly made juices.  After trying some samples, we went with a strawberry hibiscus juice which the guy casually told us he’d made just last night at his place up the road.  So good!

As we sat on a bench listening to the live music (a singer accompanied by a cello…it gave my husband goosebumps!), we noticed another booth where a cooking demo was being set up!  This was not something we could pass up so we claimed a couple of chairs nearby and settled in to learn how to make vegetable spring rolls with hazelnut dipping sauce.  The awesome part was that she told us where we could find each ingredient at the market so had we wanted to go home and make the rolls right then, we totally could have done it!

Action shot!

Stir frying the veggies.

Once the cooking demo was done and we had devoured our bag of cherries and composted the pits (yes, there are bins for trash, each kind of recycling and compost strategically placed throughout the market!), we decided to head back towards downtown to go to the Saturday Market near the river.

The Saturday Market is huge, with booths upon booths of art of every kind imaginable, clothing, jewelry, and (of course) food!  By this point we were in need of lunch, so we set off in search of the Kathmandu Cafe, a well-reviewed booth selling vegetarian and Himalayan food.  The sun was out and the weather was warm, so it seemed like the whole city was out enjoying the market!  We made our way through the crowds, and eventually reached our goal; it was right next to booths selling Nigerian food and kettlecorn.

Right by the kettlecorn

We found it!

Momos

Momos – Himalayan dumplings

After wandering the market for a while and finding such treasures as windchimes and jewelry made out of silverware, we headed off in search of Powell’s books–the biggest book store I’ve ever seen!  Of course on our way there we walked past Voodoo Doughnuts which is located in a building covered in glitter paint and which had an epically long line snaking out the door (but that’s another post!).

Then after exploring the bookstore and a quick stop at Morso for gelato (the lemon vanilla custard rocked!) it was back to the hotel to get ready for dinner…

[To Be Continued…]

Cookies!!!

One of the very first things I learned how to do in the kitchen was to bake Christmas cookies.  My mom and I would put on matching aprons, and I would help her measure out the ingredients, roll the cookies into balls, press them into cookie molds, and decorate them.  It was an annual tradition to flip through the old gas and electric company cookie books from the 60s and even earlier to decide which cookie recipes to make this year.

I always had a tendency, though, to pick out the unusual or “fussy” cookie recipes and so I often got vetoed in favor of the traditional chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, etc.  This year, though, armed with a functional kitchen of my own, two cookie sheets, two cooling racks, an assortment of mixing bowls and an antique pastry blender, I decided to search the internet for some brand new cookie recipes to experiment with.

When we found Aarti’s Garam Masala-Chocolate Gingerbread cookies we were intrigued.  My fiance, who loves Indian food, really wanted to make a garam masala cookie, but since I’m not a big fan of gingerbread, we googled around until we found these Indian spice cookies. They don’t look like much, but they’re soft and have a delightful spiced aftertaste.  Definitely a recipe to repeat next year!

Then I headed over to In Jennie’s Kitchen to see what kinds of cookie recipes she had and did I ever find some good ones!

I started off with these Chipotle Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies which turned out to be a great favorite everywhere I brought them. If you’re making them, do make sure you use actual chipotle powder though. I couldn’t find any, and thought that it would work to buy dried chipotles and just grind them up. But dried chipotles have the consistency of sun-dried tomatoes–they don’t willingly turn into powder! Not even with the chopping attachment on my immersion blender (don’t have a food processor) or the mortar and pestle! I did finally get enough sufficiently small pieces to (almost) comprise the half teaspoon called for by the recipe, but in the end you couldn’t really taste the chipotle in the cookies because it just wasn’t evenly distributed through the batter. But they were still good!

Chipotle Orange Chocolate Chip!

Then I found these Deep Chocolate Cherry Cashew Cookies. The dough looks like brownie batter. And they have dried cherries in them. You should make these cookies.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew

I also made sugar cookies–nothing fancy about them, but I’m pretty sure that cut-out, decorated sugar cookies are the very definition of a fussy cookie.  But they are good!  I just flavored mine with almond extract, but if you wanted to fancy them up you could add in different flavors of extract, orange zest, or other spices!  I also frosted a few–I basically made a variation on one of the many cookie icing recipes out there using some homemade chocolate mint syrup that I had in the fridge from my mom.  But I think I need to work on my cookie icing recipe…it was way too runny.

And then we come to the ultimate cookie.  The combination of all of my most favorite dessert flavors (almond paste, cream cheese frosting, and chocolate!).  My own version of chokladbiskvier.

The most delicious cookies EVER!!

Now I had seen almond macaroon recipes many times, including in some of those old gas company cookbooks, but until I stumbled across this newspaper recipe contest winning recipe it had never occurred to me that a simple almond macaroon could become oh so much more!

Originally I had intended to make the recipe as it appeared in the article.  But, as you see, the buttercream filling calls for pasteurized egg yolks.  And I could not for the life of me find pasteurized egg yolks.  Or pasteurized whole eggs.  I did actually find pasteurized egg whites, but that didn’t do me any good.  I thought about pasteurizing my own eggs, but lacking a candy thermometer, it seemed like a recipe for disaster, and plus I wasn’t sure how the extra liquid you need to add to the yolks to pasteurize them would affect the buttercream recipe.  And while I was fairly certain that my eggs were not contaminated with salmonella, having once *had* salmonella, I was just not willing to take the risk of using them raw.

And then I realized–I’m not actually that huge of a fan of buttercream anyways…why not substitute my favorite frosting instead?  But then that created a whole new series of questions–would it adhere to the macaroons?  Would I be able to dip them in the melted chocolate without it falling off?  And what kind of proportions would I need?

I ended up using the almond macaroon part of the original recipe (it’s the same as pretty much every other almond macaroon recipe–almond paste and egg whites!) and then I made a half batch of this cream cheese frosting recipe from all recipes. Instead of dipping the cookies upside down into the chocolate, I just spooned it over the top. In retrospect I didn’t need all of the chocolate called for in the original recipe, and actually I could have just drizzled the chocolate to make the cookies prettier (and easier to eat), but they definitely tasted good!

*                                                              *                                                              *

So if you’re looking to branch out and make some delicious and different cookies next year, give some of these recipes a try!  I promise they’re all tasty!  And if you don’t have a stand mixer or even a hand mixer?  Don’t worry!  All of the above cookies were made completely by hand using my trusty, wooden-handled antique pastry blender that I inherited from my grandma, a cheap yet sturdy whisk, and a wooden spoon.  All that’s required is a little muscle and a little patience.

(Though I must admit, I’m super excited to try out the new electric hand mixer I got for Christmas!)

Clockwise from top left: chipotle orange chocolate chip, sugar cookies, Indian spice cookies, a stray sugar cookie, and dark chocolate cherry cashew cookies.

At long last, the Thanksgiving post has arrived!  Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, but I’ve come to appreciate it exponentially more in recent years, partially because I’ve gotten more into cooking, but also because I spent three Thanksgivings in a row (2006-2008) outside the US.  In 2008 I did get to attend the US embassy potluck Thanksgiving, which was fabulous and full of delicious food, but now that I’m back in the US, I’m just so thankful (no cliche intended!) that I get to spend Thanksgiving with my family!

As has become the tradition recently, we had two Thanksgivings this year.  The first was at my parents’ house and had nearly 20 people in attendance (so many cousins!).  The second?  I hosted!  Since my fiance and I have a big table and a nicely functional kitchen (unlike the teeny kitchen we were working with in his apartment last year!) I thought it would be lots of fun to have both of our parents plus his sister and her husband over for Thanksgiving.

I had never made a turkey before.

I had never cooked that many dishes all at once before.

I am really bad at timing (as in getting all components of a meal to be done cooking at the same time.  This is why I usually cook one-dish meals.)

This had great potential for disaster.

In the end, mistakes were made, there were a few things that didn’t make it onto the table for various reasons, and the timing wasn’t perfect, but no one went home hungry, I didn’t light anything on fire, and nothing turned out to be completely inedible.  So I’d say it was a success! And now you can learn from everything I did wrong and do much better than I did the next time you host a major gathering!

Part 1: Overall Tips: Start in advance.  Way in advance.  Like…a month or two in advance even.  Your freezer is your friend for many things, from roast pumpkin and squash to cranberry sauce.  So don’t, for example, stress yourself out by trying to roast the pumpkins for pumpkin pie two days before Thanksgiving, because you will inevitably be stuck with a stubborn pumpkin that does NOT want to be cut open.  (More on that later).  Save yourself the headache, and roast your pumpkins in October, puree the flesh and then freeze it, leaving yourself free to make stress-free pumpkin pie from scratch.  Same for cranberry sauce–make it in early November and freeze it.  Applesauce too.  And if you happen to be making coconut butternut squash soup, freeze that too!

Just don’t freeze your mashed potatoes.  Those are better fresh.

Another tip: get a cooler to use as a temporary spare refrigerator.  It is likely while you’re in the process of preparing all these dishes, that you will run out of refrigerator space.  We were lucky that it was just barely cold enough to keep some things outside, but if you live in a warmer climate or the weather is unseasonably warm for late November, you will want a cooler with ice in it for overflow refrigeration.

Part 2: The Dishes I made a lot of food.  Too much, judging by how full my freezer still is.  But leftovers are good!  And I’m convinced that had we been able to use the bigger plates, people would have eaten more.  But more on the plates in a bit. So here’s what I made:

  • Turkey – I bought a 12lb organic bird.  I had wanted a 10lb turkey, but I didn’t know until it was too late that you can pre-order your turkey from the grocery store.  I bought it fresh, four days before Thanksgiving.  Its sell-by date was the day I bought it–I was a little concerned, but it was fine.  But I’d definitely say pre-order your turkey if at all possible.A note on turkeys–obviously not everyone can afford or even find organic turkeys.  So if you can’t, and if you don’t hunt your own wild turkeys (I certainly don’t!), then at least aim to get one that is a) under 14lbs or so (have you seen those 25lb turkeys?? They’re so breast-heavy they’d tip over!  Just get two if you need to feed more people) b) natural, as in it hasn’t been treated with all manner of antibiotics and chemicals, and hasn’t been injected with weird stuff and isn’t self basting.

    Once you’ve got your turkey, for the love of all that’s holy do not just set it in your refrigerator!!!  Put a large plate or platter under it at the very least, or better yet set it in the roasting pan.  It WILL leak.  You don’t want to know how long it took me to scrub out our fridge.

    If you’re going to brine your turkey, keep in mind that it takes quite a long time (8-16 hours), so plan accordingly.  I didn’t brine mine this year, but maybe next year!

    Assuming you’re doing what I did, on Thanksgiving morning, take your turkey out of the fridge and move it over to the sink.  It should be thawed by this point if it was frozen.  Make sure you’ve given yourself enough time!  You’ll want about 2 hours of prep time (this is generous, but you never know how long it’s going to take, especially if you’ve never done it before!) and you’ll want to make sure you have enough time to roast the bird.

    Turn on the cold water, and start washing your turkey, inside and out.  Make sure you take out the neck and giblets.  And please do us all a favor and throw the giblets away.  Unless you really like organ meat and know how to cook it, neither of which are true for me.  Just make sure you don’t do what I did and throw them in a pot to try and make some sort of stock.  You’ll just end up stinking up your entire house.  It’s *really* hard to get rid of that smell.Anyways, rinse your bird thoroughly, and check it for unplucked feathers.  It likely will have a few, and if it’s an organic bird, possibly more than a few.  You especially need to make sure to check the armpits and crevices by the legs.

    Once the turkey is all clean, pat it with some paper towel and set it in your roasting pan.  Now you’re ready to stuff/season/flavor/otherwise prepare the bird so that it comes out juicy and delicious!  This is where a recipe can definitely come in handy.  I used Jamie Oliver’s turkey recipe which was definitely a good choice.  The turkey came out moist and tender–it’s true what they say: bacon makes everything better!  I did find it rather difficult to get the pancetta wrapped rosemary skewers into the thigh, and I ended up only doing two per thigh unlike the 6 he recommends, but I found that by poking a hole with a knife, and then widening it with my finger, I could shove the pancetta in there first, and then pin it in place with the rosemary.  Just try not to make the hole too big–the skin needs to be mostly intact to keep the juices in.  The other key point of his recipe is to stuff the turkey breasts.  Even if you’re not making his exact recipe, you should totally do this!  It’s a little tricky to get your hand up in there, but that was the moistest, juiciest turkey breast I’ve ever had.

    His name was Mr. Turkey.  He was delicious.

  • Mashed potatoes – Not much to say here…mashed potatoes are tasty.  And easy.  Just keep an eye on them so they don’t boil over.
  • Mushroom gravy – Since my fiance is a vegetarian, I made mushroom gravy instead of gravy from the drippings.  It’s really easy to do, and plus you can do it earlier in the day so you won’t be scrambling to make gravy while your turkey is resting and your guest are arriving.  I’ll put the recipe down at the bottom of this post.
  • Stuffed onions – I decided that for the vegetarian stuffing, I would make Smitten Kitchen’s stuffed onions. The stuffing inside of these onions?  Delicious!  The onions?  A giant pain in the neck.  She’s right that a melon baller is definitely the appropriate tool for hollowing out an onion, but if you’re making 10-15 of these, unless you have onion goggles, your eyes will be burning for the rest of the day.  And you will stink like onions for quite some time thereafter.  Still determined to make them?  Hollow them out as much as you possibly can without punching a hole in the side–if you can get it down to one layer of onion?  Awesome.  And make sure you pre-roast the onions long enough before stuffing them.  I was a bit rushed for time, and I don’t think they went nearly long enough–and you really don’t want that raw onion flavor, especially if you, like me, were unsuccessful in scooping out all but one layer of onion.
  • Sausage stuffing – I made the stuffing from Jamie Oliver’s recipe, but sadly, this was one of the things that didn’t make it onto the table.  I had put the leftover stuffing that wasn’t in the turkey into a casserole dish and stuck it in the oven, but I don’t think the sausage managed to cook through.  It is currently in the freezer, waiting for me to toss it in a skillet to turn it into something else.
  • Green bean casserole – The stereotypical dish that can be made entirely from canned goods!  Blech!  Make it from scratch.  Blanch your fresh green beans for three minutes (less if they’re not very tough), toss them in a casserole dish with homemade cream of mushroom soup (I used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe) or just use some of your mushroom gravy, and top it either with panko breadcrumbs or make your own crunchy onions. But since crunchy onions roast at a much higher temperature than turkey and I only have one oven, alas, I had to forego the crunchy onions.
  • Sweet potato cranberry bake – My fiance got this recipe from a coworker and can I just say–yum!  Chunks of tender sweet potato (the real stuff!  the canned stuff is nasty!), tart bursts of juice from the fresh cranberries, and a crunchy, sweet oatmeal and brown sugar topping!
  • Kale and apple salad – Just what it sounds like, and with a lemon vinaigrette dressing and some walnuts on top.  You’ll want to blanch the kale a little bit to make it less tough, and you can do this ahead of time–just make sure you have an ice bath ready for it, because you don’t want mush!
  • Cranberry apple chutney – This is one of those things that is super easy to make but looks really impressive in the end.  All you really do is simmer fresh cranberries and a granny smith apple with some spices until the cranberries pop and the sauce thickens.  It’s good by itself, on a leftover turkey sandwich, or on crackers with a bit of goat cheese!in progress
  • Applesauce – If you, like me, bought an absurd number of apples at the farmer’s market, make applesauce!  I don’t bother peeling the apples–I just cube them and toss them in a pot with a little water (only enough to cover the bottom layer or so of apples), ground cinnamon and cloves, and a bit of allspice.  Cook it down until the apples are mushy, add a little brown sugar if it needs it, mash it all up, and there you go!
  • Coconut butternut squash soup – This time around I had a 6lb butternut squash.  It was absurdly huge.  But in fact, the ratio of 6lbs of butternut squash to two cans of coconut milk makes a delightfully textured soup that actually deserves to be called soup and not a puree.  Fresh grated ginger as opposed to ground also adds a nice dimension of flavor.
  • Pumpkin pie – Like I said above–if you’re going to roast your own pumpkins, do it in advance!  You don’t want to end up with a pumpkin like this throwing off your entire day:

    I do now have a lovely pair of pumpkin shell bowls!  The shell stayed super hard, even after roasting for 45 minutes!

In addition to all the dishes mentioned above, my fiance (the baker in this relationship!) baked three loaves of French bread and an apple pie.  Yum!

And now the recipe I promised you:

Mushroom Gravy

  • 2 handfuls crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 3tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2tbsp flour
  • 1c mushroom broth

Put a saucepan on the stove over medium heat and add 1tbsp of the butter.  Let it melt and start to sizzle a bit, and then add your mushrooms.  Cook them until they’re nicely browned and then remove them from the pan and set aside.  In the same pan, add your remaining two tablespoons of butter, and when it’s melted, add the flour.  Stir until it forms a thick paste, then add your mushroom broth.  Reduce heat and stir more or less constantly until your sauce starts to thicken.  Then  add the mushrooms back in, and cover it and keep it warm on the stove until you’re ready to use it, stirring occasionally.

Brussels Sprouts

I know, I know, I’ve been neglecting the blog lately.  Unfortunately grad school has been getting in the way of both cooking and blogging.  I owe you some long posts on Thanksgiving and Christmas cookies…but for now, I want to say a few words about brussels sprouts.

Everybody (supposedly) hates brussels sprouts.  But how many of you haters out there have never actually even tried them?  I never had!  I know I always assumed I would dislike them, but until last night, I had never actually *tasted* any brussels sprouts to find out for sure.  But now, having had them, I can tell you that they’re actually pretty good, IF you cook them right.

Luckily, there’s 101 Cookbooks to help you out.  Heidi Swanson’s Golden-Crusted Brussels Sprouts are tender on the inside, caramelized and slightly crunchy on the outside, and (best of all) topped with cheese.  The golden-brown caramelization is really the key–it adds a whole new dimension of flavor to the slightly cabbagey sprouts.

So go out there and get yourself a little tree of brussels sprouts–they’re all kinds of nutritious, containing ridiculously high levels of Vitamins C and K–and redeem this much maligned vegetable!

Random New Product

Chai Cola!
We found these the other day while shopping at World Market and couldn’t resist buying them!  My fiance and I both love chai, so we figured, why not?  And as it turned out, this stuff is delicious!  You can taste all the different spices of the chai, which somehow work really well with the fizz of the carbonation.  So if you’re looking for a new beverage to bring to your next party, try and find some of these!

Heidi Swanson over at 101 Cookbooks always has great recipes, but her recipe for Feisty Green Beans ranks as one of the best things I have ever tasted.  Period.  Between the crisp freshness of the still-slightly-raw green beans to the pops of sweetness from the raisins to the aromatic mixture of Indian-style spices, everything about this dish works perfectly together.  I’m so happy I have leftovers!  And if there are green beans again at the farmer’s market the next time I go, I’ll definitely be making this again!

I came across this recipe while trying to figure out what to with the pound of beans I had sitting in my fridge.  I wanted to make something more inspired than just beans sauteed with a little butter and basil, which was all that was coming to mind for me.  I also didn’t want to have to go to the grocery store, because I’m trying to stop spending so much on groceries by cooking with things I already have in the pantry.  So I looked around for different recipes and found a few that sounded like they had potential, but nothing that would work as a main course, and nothing that I had all the ingredients for.  Until I found the Feisty Green Beans.

Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list–most of the ingredients are spices which you probably have on hand.  (Especially if you ever make Indian food).  I did end up substituting paneer for the tofu because a) I didn’t have any tofu and b) I really don’t like tofu.  The paneer works out really well in this dish though, so I’m really glad I used it.  It adds a bit of a salty flavor which contrasts nicely with the raisins and spices.  You could also probably substitute queso blanco for the tofu if you can’t find paneer, but I personally find that queso blanco doesn’t have quite as nice a texture as paneer.

So the next time you’re at the farmer’s market, get yourself a pound of green beans and make this recipe!  You’ll be sooo happy you did!

I’ve got such a backlog of posts for you, from some thoughts on Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Caesar Salad (it’s delicious!) to a quite tasty red pepper pasta dish I made up the other night, so let’s dive right in!

Part I: Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Caesar Salad

Let me start by saying that I don’t like Caesar salad.  But this was delicious!  The homemade croutons are easily the best part, but everything just works so well together, and the dressing is lemony and fresh as opposed to being heavy and gross like most salad dressings.  I did make a few changes (mostly out of necessity) when I made it though.  First, instead of using chicken legs or thighs, I had to use chicken breast because I couldn’t find any legs that weren’t attached to a whole chicken.  (And as the only carnivore in the house, I really have no use for a whole chicken).  But legs would definitely be better because they don’t dry out the way breasts are sometimes prone to.  I substituted prosciutto for the pancetta that the recipe calls for since I can’t for the life of me find a store that sells pancetta, but the prosciutto worked fine and added a nice salty flavor.  I also added asparagus (just tossed it in with the chicken and croutons when I added the prosciutto) and I think that you should all definitely add asparagus if you happen to be making this salad in the springtime!

Yum!

Part II: Red Pepper Pasta

This meal came out of one of those “I’m starving but I don’t want to go to the store and surely we have enough food around here to throw together a pasta dish” type of days.  And sure enough, we did have enough ingredients and this actually turned out to be one of my best experiments.

Ingredients

The inspiration was the jar of red and yellow peppers I found in my cupboard.  I don’t remember why I bought them in the first place–probably I had seen some recipe that I had wanted to try but subsequently forgot about–but they really turned out to be the star of the dish.  I also had a few stray mushrooms left over from the pea shoot recipe, half a red onion left over from something or another, two lonely cloves of garlic, and a bit of fresh rosemary left over from the chicken Caesar salad.

So of course, these ingredients say to me: stir fry!

Stir fry!

I put the mushrooms, onions, and rosemary in first, along with a dried chili pepper, since they take a little longer to cook.  Then I added the red peppers and garlic, salt and pepper, and finally stirred in the pasta:

Red Pepper Pasta

The roasted red peppers from the jar add a really nice sweetness to this dish, while the dried red chili adds just a hint of a kick.  Top it off with a little Parmesan cheese and you’ve got yourself a quick and easy meal!

Red Pepper Pasta
(serves 2) 

  • 1-2 roasted red peppers (from a jar, or you can roast them yourself), sliced into matchsticks
  • 3-4 crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 dried red chili pepper
  • leaves from 2 stalks of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • 110g pasta of your choice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese

Start a pot of water boiling on the stove for the pasta.  Meanwhile, chop all of your ingredients except the red chili pepper.  Put a good splash of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the mushrooms, onion, chili pepper, and rosemary.  Stir or toss occasionally until the mushrooms start to brown.  Then add in the red peppers and garlic, taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.  Once the pasta is done, drain it and it to the skillet.  Once everything is mixed, taste again and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.