Saturday, August 30, 2014
Until this morning, I had never attempted to preserve my own lemons. Despite the fact that I love their taste whenever I have them in Moroccan cuisine. So when I looked at the dozens of Meyer Lemons drooping off the tree in our yard, I thought it was high time to try my hand at preserving them.
I used Mark Bittman's recipe from his How to Cook Everything book. I've found this book to be extremely handy, especially for basic recipes. The thing I like best about it, is that he gives you so many ideas for variations. I highly recommend the book. I'm also curious to pick up his other book, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, as I'm always looking for new ways to dress up veggies around here.
While these cure on my counter and in the fridge for the next few weeks, I'll be looking for recipes to try them out in. I've got a roasted chickpea salad with harissa and arugula on the list, a chicken and olive dish, and a preserved lemon vinaigrette I found on NPR.
So, if you find yourself faced with a couple pounds of lemons, here is what Mark Bittman suggests you do. It was so easy, took about 20 minutes total. I'll report back on how they turn out.
Mark Bittman - How to Cook Everything
3lbs lemons, preferably unwaxed, quartered lengthwise (I used Meyer Lemons)
3/4 cups kosher salt (I used a little bit more than this -- probably more like a cup)
Half 3-inch cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2-3 black peppercorns
2 cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
Fill a clean quart-sized jar with a tight fitting lid with boiling water and soak its lid in boiling water too. Let the water sit while you cut the lemons, then dump the water out.
Set the jar on the counter and vigorously shake it once a day for 7-10 days -- during this time it will start to bubble a little and the dried spices will swell back to their original size.
Put the jar in the refrigerator and let the lemons continue to cure for another week before using. The lemons will keep for at least 2 months in the refrigerator.
When they have cured, unscrew the lid. After a moment, they should smell sweet and citrusy -- an ammonia smell means they've gone wrong somewhere along the line.
To use in stews, blanch the quartered lemons in unsalted boiling water for 10 seconds, just long enough to leach out a little of the salt. For salads or quick-cooked dishes, scrape the flesh away from the peel, discard the flesh, and blanch the peel in unsalted boiling water as above.
Friday, August 15, 2014
There's no time like summer for cooking. Or rather, for not cooking, since summer produce is best served by throwing things together raw with very little preparation. Those are the best kinds of recipes. This is one that I've made the last couple of years now. It's a Melissa Clark recipe that I've tweaked only slightly with the addition of mint and red chili. I like the pair it with seared pork chops that I can finish up in the oven or even on the grill. The combination of pork and fruit is a common one that can be used all year round -- but this is a spicy variation on that theme.
Green Peach Salad with Red Chilies, Basil, Mint and Lime
Adapted from Melissa Clark's Cook This Now
1/2 tsp lime zest
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound green peaches (2 large or 4 small) pitted and thinly sliced (this is a great use for a mandolin slicer if you have one)
1 tbsp chopped red chili (I used a red thai chili)
2 1/2 tbsp thinly sliced basil leaves
1 tbsp thinly sliced mint leaves
In a bowl, whisk together lime zest, juice, salt and pepper. Whisk in the oil. Add peaches, chili, basil and mint, and toss to combine.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
4. DODO Case for an iPad - $60+ at JCrew - We all have a tech geek in our life that we love, but I find that they can sometimes be difficult to shop for. They often buy themselves everything they want. This case is a great find. They're protective, functional and attractive. They even have a hole in the case for the camera, so you don't have to take your iPad out of the case to take a picture. JCrew currently has a large selection of these on sale in quite a few colors.
6. Elderflower Cordial - $15 at Terrain - Have you ever had St. Germain? It's a liquor made of elderflower blossoms, sometimes used in cocktails, often cocktails with gin. It's divine. For a non-alcoholic version, there's Elderflower cordial, which is terrific when you add just a little bit to sparking water. So good, and such a beautiful bottle. It's a great addition to a home bar set.
7. Herringbone Necklace from Bario-Neal - $108 - How gorgeous is this Herringbone necklace? It made my jaw practically drop when I saw it. Don't you think it would make a spectacular gift for some lovely lady in your life? Hint, hint.
8. Star Wars Poster - $40 on Etsy - We all have a Star Wars lover in our life. In fact, I've got about 8 of them just in my family alone. This Star Wars inspired alphabet poster is so clever. I think it would look great in my college nephew's new house.
9. Custom Print - $21 from Society6 - Have you heard of Society6? It's a website that sells the creations of artists from around the world. I bought my iPhone case from them, and they have a ton of beautiful prints, cases, t-shirts, etc. This is a beautiful print by Cassia Beck. I love how colorful and fun it is. It would look great on the wall!
10. Viking Ship Mobile - $52 from Acorn, a Brooklyn Toy Shop - I adore this Viking Ship Mobile from Acorn Toys. It would look so cute in a nursery, or simply hanging in your room. Acorn has a large selection of beautiful mobiles.
11. Gold Giraffe - $35 from Dwell Studios - Once again, I'm a sucker for shiny but tasteful knick-knacks around the house, and I love this elegant gold giraffe from Dwell. It would make a great bookend, and it would look beautiful on the mantle.
12. Pop Art Movie Poster - $30 on Etsy - Who wouldn't love a framed copy of their favorite movie poster re-imagined in such an eye-catching way? I love the Ferris Buller poster. The Goonies and Back to the Future are just two more of many that I can see hanging on the wall.
13. Ceramic Glow-bowls from Diana Fayt - $95 for a set of 7 on Etsy - I've had my eye on these for years, and if they don't show up under my tree, I just may pull the trigger on my own. I love beautiful ceramic pieces, and these would make an incredible statement.
14. Beer Making Kit - $40+ at Brooklyn Brew Shop - Perhaps you, like me, have an aspiring Brew Master in your life. You might want to check out the kits at Brooklyn Brew shop. For a full self-starting kit, you can easily spend over $200, but to just get someone started, or add to their collection, check out these starter kits. I've got my eye on the Coffee & Donut Stout...
15. Goodly Whale Bottle Opener - $24 at BHLDN - You'll need something to crack open that freshly brewed bottle of beer. Why not use this adorable whale bottle opener from BHLDN? It's so cute, you'll want to display it even when it's not in use.
17. Polaroid Z340 Instant Camera - Starts at $249 - Looking to splurge? I can't think of a better gift than this Polaroid instant camera. Nothing beats the instant nature of the polaroid. Truly the gift that just keeps giving.
18. Coral Herringbone Throw - $250 from Serena and Lily - If you're still feeling flush, check out this gorgeous throw from Serena and Lily. I can't seem to get enough of the herringbone pattern these days, and this throw looks as cozy as it is beautiful.
19. St. Helena Global Salt Trio - $25 from Terrain - I love this trio of fancy salts: Black, Pink and Grey. They come in these lovely weck jars, which can be repurposed once the salts have been used up. A great gift for the chef in your life.
20. Handmade BBQ Sauce Pack - Homemade, Idea from DesignMom Blog - Check out this great DIY from DesignMom Blog: make your own BBQ pack! This was originally a Father's Day gift idea, but it would make a great holiday gift as well. Just set aside an afternoon to whip up the rub and sauce, and pack it together with a basting brush and maybe a few other things in some cute packaging. Such a great idea.
Whew! You're probably out of money now, but at least you've got some great gifts for everyone on your list!
Sunday, July 22, 2012
A summer salad and an announcement: first, the announcement. After nearly six years in the same wonderful apartment building in Berkeley, I'm moving to a lovely little bungalow in a, new to me, neighborhood in Oakland.
The Boyfriend is coming with. After a year of living together, we've settled quite nicely, and have been feeling the need to expand. That need is coupled with what is foremost on our mind: getting a dog.
Last weekend we visited several rental properties, and on our last appointment, we found it. An adorable craftsman with a gigantic backyard, a fireplace, newly updated kitchen, dishwasher, washer and dryer, a grill, a deck, and (get this) a dog house in the backyard. We feel like we've hit the jackpot.
And even though I said there was NO WAY we could move in August, as it's a busy month for us, we are indeed moving in in August. Because when you find the perfect place, you take it.
And so, we're off! Movers are hired, purging and cleaning has been tackled, and a pull-out couch/guest bed situation has been decided upon. A good thing, considering we'll have a visitor the weekend after we move in. I expect this will be happening a lot more, now that the air mattress is being put in storage. Did I mention our new place is a two bedroom?!
In between planning for a domestic upgrade, I found some time to hop over to the farmer's market for the first time in awhile. I had a Green Goddess salad dressing recipe from Melissa Clark in mind. Perfect for a hot summer day. In addition to firm zucchinis, plump avocados, and bright green herbs, I got my hands on some peaches and nectarines, fresh squash blossoms, and about 2 pounds of Padron Peppers, which Whit and I can't seem to get enough of lately. I'll grill them up and we'll pop them into our mouths one by one as we tune into the newest episode of Breaking Bad. Accompanied by fried squash blossoms, and this bright and tangy salad. Summer's best!
I've mentioned before how much I adore Melissa Clark's cookbook, "Cook This Now!" It's the best cookbook I've ever owned. I want to make absolutely ever recipe in it. I've gotten through probably 20 of them so far, and they've all been keepers. Her roast chicken makes an appearance in our house at least once every two weeks. This salad is a keeper as well.
Shaved Zucchini and Avocado Salad with Green Goddess Dressing
adapted slightly from Melissa Clark's "Cook This Now"
For the dressing:
1/2 cup packed plus 2 tbsp basil leaves
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup packed parsley leaves
1/4 cup packed cilantro
3 tbsp olive oil
2 scallions, white and light green parts, sliced
1 anchovy fillet
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
Freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp kosher salt, additional to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 medium zucchini
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
2 tbsp roasted pine nuts
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Combine dressing ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.
Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, thinly slice the zucchini into rounds. You could also try using a vegetable peeler lengthwise for long, paper thin strips. Combine zucchini with avocado, tomatoes and pine nuts in a bowl. Pour dressing in and lightly coat the salad. You'll have some dressing left over. Serve immediately.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Monday, March 12, 2012
Maybe she only has pork that day, maybe she only has beef. Who knows! Who Cares?! You do not come to a place like this for options!!! You eat what you are told and you will like it!!!
My suggestion is that you stop here before you go to Tunnels or Ke'e Beach for your picnic.
Fair enough pricing comparatively (much less expensive than the St. Regis). And a much better wine list than anywhere else on the Island. I highly recommend the garlic shrimp.
I think this place is better than a lot of people seem to be giving it credit for. Honestly, I didn't expect to find a good cheeseburger in Hanalei, so I was impressed.
Our hosts were great, very laid back (as most on the island are) and were happy to provide us with everything we needed/wanted and more. You basically won't need anything but your clothes when you come here, they provide everything else you could think of.
The grounds and pool are lovely, and the house itself is great. We stayed in the Suite, which came with a wonderful king size bed, sitting room with futon couch, a tv fully stocked with cable (including HBO) and there are tons of DVD's that you can borrow.
Both days we stayed, the breakfasts were great, and the hosts were more than willing to offer up suggestions on things to do and see. Much appreciated.
To top it all off, it was more affordable than any of the hotels near by, or in Poipu. We got so much more for our money, and such a unique experience. I'd definitely go back.
East Shore Activities -
To be fair, I didn't have the suggested pineapple teriyaki burger, which apparently is their specialty. I had a basic cheeseburger. As stated: very good.
I'd recommend taking the food to go as the atmosphere leaves a bit to be desired. Why sit next to the highway when some of the best beaches in the world are so close? If you do sit there, be prepared to shield your food from the deranged roosters that you've by now become very familiar with.
Was it great Mexican food? No, but it was better than I expected it to be, and much better than a lot of the highly recommended restaurants we tried, without the insane price tag.
Get yourself a Negro Modelo and order up some tacos. They'll keep you stocked with chips and salsa. Really good service.
That being said: do not attempt this trail if it's been raining or is raining, or else you'll be in for it. One cannot say enough about the mud: it is all encompassing. You will not escape it, and it will ruin anything it touches! The red Kauai dirt/mud on this trail has the consistency of clay, and it's like walking on oil when it's wet. That, combined with steep, boulder covered passages, makes for a very challenging trail. But, you can go as far as you like. The views stay with you from beginning to end. Just be prepared before you attempt. We found this to be true with all the hikes we attempted in Kauai ;) That said, we did have a lot of rain while we were there. But I hear that's true throughout most of the year.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Thursday, October 13, 2011
The travel portion of the year is basically over for me until Thanksgiving, and after a trip to Louisville, Kentucky to see my Boyfriend's family, we're settling into a fairly domesticated routine. I had never been to Louisville before. I got the grand tour, complete with apple picking at a local orchard, and a visit to Churchill Downs. I came back feeling like fall was in the air, inspired to make some of my favorite warm and comforting dishes.
Monday, September 26, 2011
My friend Denise called me out for neglecting this little blog. She's right, I have no excuse! I'm a rather pathetic blogger as of late. And the truth is, I've been returning again and again to old familiar standbys. Fresh tomato sauce over whole wheat pasta, salads with lemony dressings and lots of cucumber, simple roasted vegetables, and lots of help from the Trader Joe's frozen foods aisle.
It's true that things have been fairly busy lately with work. I've added pilates a couple times a week to the schedule, and with the days getting shorter, I feel worn out at the end of it all, and I haven't been inspired to tackle a new dish.
I think I'll start to feel that inspiration again with the turn of the season. More dinners eaten at the dining room table, with candles and music instead of the latest episode of Breaking Bad on the TV (though it will still be watched, so good!) And, a more concentrated effort to eat healthier. Smaller portions and more vegetables and grains. I'm trying to be much better about this, more conscious of what goes into my body, and less mindless eating of the things I don't need, or really even want. I'm sure we could all be better about this, but I think I'm going to need a bit of support and camaraderie in this effort. Any of you have any tips and tricks for healthy eating and meal planning? Maybe if you wouldn't mind sharing some of your favorite healthy recipes, it would inspire me to give them a try. I'd love some suggestions!
We've made a couple of changes so far: we've switched completely to whole-wheat pasta. I thought I'd never get used it it, but after a month, I crave it, and I've hardly missed white flour pasta. Sourdough bread is now a once in awhile treat, and whole-wheat has come to stay. Trying to cut out as much white flour and sugar as possible. I'm still looking for that perfect pizza dough recipe using whole wheat flour. That's tricky, it seems.
So here's a quick salad I threw together yesterday in the midst of an afternoon of errands. Healthy and quick, I just cooked the quinoa and tossed all the ingredients together. It had enough fiber and protein to keep me sated from noon until 6pm. Not bad!
Apologies for the lack of pictures. This was gobbled up before I got a chance.
Chickpea & Quinoa Salad
- 2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
- 1½ cups cooked chickpeas or canned
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cucumber, chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
- Baby Spinach (you can chop a couple cups and use it fresh, or use an entire bag by wilting it in a saucepan with a bit of olive oil over low heat)
- 2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- the juice and zest of 2 lemons
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp honey
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Once again, it's been over a month since my last post. My apologies. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that this coming month will be much better, but in exchange for the irregularity of postings, I have lists. Curated lists for such exotic locales as Portland, OR. Headlsburg/Sebastapol Wine Country and Anderson Valley, CA.
I also have an amazing recipe for Black Cod.
So consider this my apology post. And I'll keep the lists coming to make up for my silence here.
First off, Portland.
Let's cover beer and wine, shall we? P-town has booth, in abundance.
If you're in Portland, I highly recommend the following in the beer category:
Hair of the Dog Brewery and Tasting Room - Our favorite of the trip. What a great place. Like hanging out in a very hip and modern garage. The beer was serious, meant to be sipped and drunk slowly, and while I didn't get to try the food, it smelled like it would be more than worth the trip back. I'd make this the first stop, next time around. They seem to be known for their dark beers, one of which is brewed with cherries in old whiskey barrels. We don't have breweries like this in CA. I'll have to come back.
Hopworks Urban Brewery - your basic neighborhood brewery and lunch spot...only with much higher quality beer.
Deschutes - numerous Portlandites might disagree with me on this one, but I like this place. A bit commercial, yes, but they make some of my favorite beers (Green Lakes, anyone?) and the location (heart of the Pearl district) is a good place to people watch.
Portland is a food town. We made our way to some great spots and I could go on and on, but my favorite of the bunch was a food cart: Pyro Pizza. Parked in a parking lot full of other carts; Poutine, Crepes, Waffles and more. The pizza was wood fired and delicious, and cost-wise, a bargain as well. I had the margherita, and the boy had some white sauce with truffle oil concoction. Stellar.
For cocktails, I like Rontoms. Especially since I discovered their excellent patio in the back. It's got a mid-century modern vibe. Always a winner with me.
For wine, out in the Willamette Valley, the following 3 are places I can't wait to get back to (and yes, it's all about the Pinots):
Brick House Vineyards
Bethel Heights Vineyard
From Portland, on down to Healdsburg, CA. and surrounding areas. Here are my top 8 wineries in that area:
1. Preston Vineyards & Winery (I'm a sucker for the Barbera, the Madame Preston and the jug wine (only on Sundays))
2. Porter Creek Vineyards ( the old vine Zin is a standout)
3. Unti (all amazing)
4. Radio Coteau (some of the best CA pinots I've ever had)
5. Scherrer (I'm currently head over heels for their rose)
6. Taft Street Winery (started in Berkeley of all places)
7. Wind Gap Winery (it's all about the syrah)
8. Inman (great pinot)
I've mentioned several of these before. You can't go wrong with this list. I feel pretty good about sending you on your merry way with these.
So now you're set to take a trip. Be it a weekend road trip, or a mark your list for a west coast visit kind of trip.
Next post, I promise to cover the Anderson Valley in CA.
Onto the Black Cod.
I take no credit for this one, this is all Mark Bittman. One of his all-time favorite Minimalist recipes: Black Cod with Miso. Black Cod is an incredibly rich and buttery fish. The miso brings it to an unexpected and deceptively elegant place. The lucky person you serve it to would never guess how little actual work is involved. Just let the fish, the miso and the broiler do all the heavy lifting. The only hard part is choosing the wine to go with. I chose the Scherrer Rose.
Black Cod Broiled with Miso
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup miso, preferably dark (I used red miso, which comes as a paste. I found it at Whole Foods.)
1/2 cup mirin, sake or white wine (I used 1/2 mirin and 1/2 white wine)
1 1/2 to 2 pounds black cod fillets (skin may be on or off).
Heat broiler; set rack 3 to 4 inches from heat source. Combine first three ingredients in a small saucepan and, over low heat, bring almost to a boil, stirring occasionally just until blended; mixture will be fairly thin. Turn off heat.
Put fillets in an ovenproof baking dish or skillet, preferably nonstick, and spoon half the sauce on top. Broil until sauce bubbles and begins to brown, then spoon remaining amount over fish. Continue to broil, adjusting heat or rack position if sauce or fish is browning too quickly, until fish is just cooked through. Serve immediately.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Things are getting exciting at the Farmer's Market. English peas, pea shoots, bright green asparagus and purple potatoes, Meyer lemons, and best of all, rhubarb.
Rhubarb is by far my favorite vegetable. It might not be a surprise to you, but it's a cousin to celery (only rhubarb is so much better than celery.)
I'm constantly searching for new recipes to use it in. Last year, I topped a piece of salmon with it. It was a nice and unexpected sweet tart contrast to the rich and buttery fish.
What follows is one of those recipes that I've been waiting a long time to make. We visited Big Sur in November of last year, and had a fantastic breakfast at the Big Sur Bakery. I poured through a copy of their cookbook over our breakfast pizza and freshly baked bread, and stopped once I turned the page to this recipe. I promptly bought the cookbook, and I've been waiting for rhubarb season in order to try these Rhubarb Brown Butter Bars. Sometimes, every single thing about a certain recipe speaks to you, and you know that there's no way the recipe can miss.
I'm happy to report that that is indeed the case with this recipe.
I adapted it slightly, substituting lemons for blood oranges. If you're not a fan of rhubarb, you could substitute raspberries, strawberries, even plums or cherries. It's totally adaptable. I made two batches of the rhubarb jam, and strained the syrup off of the first batch, to reserve for rhubarb cocktails (priorities.)
Brown Butter Rhubarb Bars
adapted from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook
For the Jam
1 cup sugar
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
4 rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 vanilla bean
For the Crust
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
For the Brown Butter Filling
1 1/4 cups sugar
zest of 2 lemons
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp flour
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp butter
Begin by making the rhubarb jam. Combine the sugar, pulp of the vanilla bean and pod and lemon juice and zest in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the rhubarb, and cook over medium until the rhubarb begins to falls apart and the mixture is syrupy, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
Preheat the oven to 375 and start the crust.
Put a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat and add the butter to brown it, whisking often, until the milk solids separate from the butter and it starts to smell rich and nutty. About 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl and stick in the freezer for half an hour, until solid.
Mix the powdered sugar and flour together in a medium bowl. Once the butter is solid, cut it into small cubes and mix it into the flour-sugar mixture using your hands. Combine until the mixture comes together into a crumbly dough. don't over mix. Press the dough into the bottom of a greased 13 x 9 pan. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Remove to cool, but leave the oven on at 375.
While the crust is cooling, make the filling. Whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, flour, and sugar and set aside. Spit and scrape the pulp and pod of the vanilla bean into a small saucepan. Add the butter and brown in the same manner as with the crust, then pour it into the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Remove the vanilla pod.
Pour half of the brown butter filling over the crust. Drop spoonfuls of jam over the filling and gently spread it evenly (reserving about 1/4 of the jam). Pour the remaining brown butter filling over the jam. Using a spoon, drop small dollops of the remaining jam randomly over the top of the bars, then bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the filling puffs into a golden-brown color.
Let the pan cool completely on a wire rack, then cut into squares to serve.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
I'm currently in recovery from a meal.
It's not what you might think. Certainly nothing bad or upsetting. This is the good kind of recovery. The kind that comes from delicious food, wonderful company and a bit (just a bit) of over-indulgence.
Guilty as charged.
As a belated birthday gift, Leah and Brian gave me the gift every food-obsessed person dreams of. The gift of Thomas Kellar. A trip to his restaurant Ad Hoc in Napa. The Ad Hoc of fried chicken fame. It's a family style restaurant that specializes in comfort food. I've wanted to go for years.
We decided to make a weekend of it, squeezing in a lovely hotel and a fantastic day of wine tasting prior to dinner. I planned ahead, and did my best to keep my stomach empty (except for wine of course) on the day of the dinner. A small breakfast, some tahbouli for lunch, and that was it. I wanted to have plenty of room.
In retrospect, I should have skipped all food prior on the day of. What came to the dinner table was a salad of French Laundry garden greens with green garlic dressing, radishes and torn croutons, fresh bread, Seared Pork Belly with Tomato Marmalade and a perfectly Poached Egg, Pork Rack with figs, potatoes and jus, a cheese course of Nicasio Valley cheese with Red Pepper jelly, and Panna Cotta with macerated Strawberries and Shortbread Twill.
Oh, did I mention the wine pairing for each course?
As I said. I'm in recovery.
We left the table having consumed nearly an entire pig. Stuffed. We practically rolled back to the hotel. My stomach hasn't quite recovered.
It was an amazing meal.
As part of my recovery efforts, I'm trying to stick to a couple weeks of mainly vegetarian cooking. Whole grains, vegetables and fruits. In that vein, I decided to break out what's been a recent favorite in my kitchen. Chana Masala. Something I attempted a few weeks ago, and was amazed to discover, is incredibly easy to make. It helps that it's both healthy, and extremely flavorful.
It was the first dish I cooked in my new apartment. And now it feels like home. I serve it over rice with some cucumber mint Raita on the side. Maybe some Naan if I feel like it. It's served as a great reminder that I need to incorporate more spices into my cooking. Be a little more adventurous, and not just stick with garlic and lemon (like I most often do). Just a hint of spice can really transform a dish and seem to heighten your skills as a cook. You'll be amazed at how quickly it comes together, and how delicious it tastes.
adapted from Orangette
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp garam masala
4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 28-ounce can diced or whole peeled tomatoes
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1 tbs cilantro leaves, roughly torn, plus more for garnish
A pinch of cayenne, or to taste
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6-8 tbs plain yogurt, optional
lemon wedges, optional
Coat the bottom of a saute pan or dutch oven with olive oil. Heat to medium. Add the onions and sautee slowly until they start to carmelize. Stir occassionally, but leave them alone from time to time to really set. This will take 25-30 minutes, maybe more. You're looking for a dark caramel color. The onions should even be charred in some spots. This is what will develop the flavor, so have patience and courage to let them do their thing in the pan!
Once the onions are caramelized, reduce the heat to low and add the garlic. If the pan is a bit dry, add a bit more olive oil. Sautee for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the spices (cumin through cardamom seeds) and fry in the pan, stirring constantly for another 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup of water to deglaze the pan and loosen any of the browning and flavor from the bottom. Sautee until the water has evaporated. Add the juice from the tomatoes, and then the tomatoes themselves. If the tomatoes are whole, crush with a fork in the pan. Add salt.
Increase the heat to medium, and let the pot come to a boil. Once it begins to boil, reduce heat to low, add the cilantro and cayenne to taste. Simmer the sauce gently, stirring occasionally until it starts to reduce and thicken. Taste, and adjust the seasoning to your preference. Add the chickpeas, stirring well and cook for low for another 5 minutes. Add 2 tbsp of water and cook another 5 minutes. Repeat once more, making sure the water is absorbed. This helps to concentrate the flavor and make the chickpeas more tender. Taste again for seasoning.
Turn off the heat. Stir in the cilantro and yogurt. Serve over rice with Raita and lemon.