Cold Winter Curry

Oh, the flavors! Oh, the warmth! Oh, the kale! I can’t get enough of the stuff! I’ve consumed four large bunches and another of swiss chard this week – almost entirely on my own! Once I started eating it, I couldn’t get enough! The same happened with beets, and I think sweet potatoes must be right up there in the Gotta Have It department. While the rest of you “Master” cleanse, juice and go raw, I’m focusing on ROY G. BIV and powerful spices warmed to perfection!

In this recipe:

  • Red – tomatoes
  • Orange – sweet potatoes
  • Yellow – cauliflower
  • Green – kale
  • Blue/Indigo/Violet – last seen in Beety Tweety Bird Nests
  • Powerful Spices: Ginger, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, hot peppers

Ingredients Chickpea Curry:

  • 2 Tbs. coconut oil
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, mince
  • 1 Serrano pepper, minced
  • 3 fresh tomatoes, blended
  • 3/4 can light coconut milk
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. whole brown mustard seed
  • 2-3 tsp. Garam Masala
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups chickpeas, pre-cooked
  • 1 bunch kale, finely chopped

Directions: Cook chickpeas or use canned. On medium heat, melt coconut oil. Add red onion and saute until translucent. Add cumin, brown mustard seed and Garam Masala to the oil for a quick toast. Next add garlic, ginger and chile pepper. All these ingredients should be cooked for a minute or so, just until the aromas are released. Next, add the pureed tomato, coconut milk and chickpeas. Allow to simmer on very low heat for about 5 minutes. Right before serving, mix in the kale cooking it just past raw to bright green.

Cauliflower and Sweet Potatoes in Madras Peanut Curry Sauce:

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 can coconut milk
  • 2 Tbs. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 Tbs. Madras style curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Warm the coconut milk and the peanut butter in a small pot. When the peanut butter begins to melt, whisk the two ingredients together. Add spices and mix well. Toss in cauliflower and sweet potatoes. Allow to steam on low heat for a few minutes until vegetables are tender.

Note: I tried roasting the veggies with the sauce at 450 degrees. They cooked, but did not crisp at all. I love the idea of serving the cauliflower roasted like I did here. Next time.

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Sweet Potato Biscuit Pie

I’ve been eating WAY too much lately, and I know it’s a carbs thing. Once I start eating too many, I am hungry all the time, and lately it’s been a chocolate THANG. I’m eatin’ chocolate day and night. The wanting to eat and general carbs craving even had me picking up a bag of chewy Sweet Tarts from the staff lounge the other day! It’s a vicious circle¬† – a big problem here!

Tonight’s dinner is absolutely fabulous if you are in a carb funk like I am. If you’re looking for diet food, turn away now. This sweet potato pie doesn’t have added sweeteners, so I haven’t gone completely mad, but it’s topped with a giant biscuit, and you know that can’t be good. It’s full of fat and flavor and carbohydrates.

Now, this sweet potato pie is not traditional, so it’s worth trying. This one is infused with caramelized Vidalia onions and garam masala, so it comes across as a little belly dancing sweetie. It’s easy to make if you slice the potatoes with a food processor, and serves up quite nicely with a side salad and sliced avocado.

Sweet Potatoes:

  • 1 large Vidalia onion, sliced into rings
  • canola oil to coat pan (about 2 Tbs.)
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbs. whole cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbs. Garam Masala
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven 375 degrees. Heat the oil in a cast iron pan, and saute the onion on low heat until it begins to brown. Next toast the spices for a minute in the onion and oil mixture. Toss the sliced sweet potatoes in a large bowl with the sautéed onions, spices and salt and pepper. Layer the sweet potatoes and onion mixture in the cast iron pan. Place in heated oven to bake. You will make the biscuit dough while the potatoes begin to cook.

Biscuit Crust:

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup milk

Directions:

Place flour, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix. Next add the butter and pulse until the butter and flour mixture is crumbly. Next add the milk and pulse just until the dough pulls together. Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead a few times – just until the dough comes together. Roll the dough out to about a half-inch, or as big as your cast iron pan. (I think my pan is 9 inches.) Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the biscuit starts to brown on top.

Sweet Potato Zuppa, White Beans and Crust

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Man is this delicious, or what! And so easy. The beauty of pureed soup? Very little prep as it all get’s pulverized in the end. Ready made were the white beans in the freezer from a big batch made a couple of weeks ago, the veggies came from last week’s CSA, and the bread a cinch. After all is said and done, the aromatics of the curry and ginger fill the house with an away-from-Minnesota smell and we end up with a beautiful and satisfying Minnesota winter soup. Oh, actually, it’s not winter yet. Would somebody please tell Mother Nature – not it!

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Zuppa Ingredients:

  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 Tbs. oil
  • 1 inch piece ginger, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, cut into pieces
  • 4 Thai chiles
  • 1 tsp. cumin seed
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 – 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes, diced
  • 3-4 large carrots, diced
  • 6-8 cups white beans, pre-cooked
  • 3/4 cup condensed milk
  • salt to taste

Directions:

1) Saute the onions, garlic, ginger and chiles in the oil.

2) Once the onions begin to caramelize, add the cumin seeds, garam masala and curry powder. The idea is to toast the spices for a few minutes on a low heat.

3) Add the sweet potatoes and carrots and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes and carrots are tender.

4) Use a blender to puree the sweet potato and carrot mixture and return to the stock pot.

5) Add white beans and salt to taste. Allow the soup to simmer for at least five minutes to bring the flavors together.

Crusts:

1) Slice a loaf of chiabatta or peasant bread.

2) Cover a cookie sheet with a thin layer of olive oil.

3) Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

4) Place slices of bread into oil and rub around to collect some of the oil, salt and pepper. Flip the slices over and do the same to the other side. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper.

5) Bake at 375 degrees just till the bread starts to brown on the edges. 7-10 minutes.

Jimmy’s Lentil Soup

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From left to right: Douglas Gage, Chris Wheeler, Kevin Hogan, James Shore

I know we’re not supposed to cry over spilled milk, but what about soup? Last week my high school sweetheart died in the Arizona Sweatlodge Accident – an event that surprisingly rocked my world. I am devastated by this loss, saddened by the tragedy, angered by the senselessness, and in mourning over the separation of a father from his children, a husband from his wife, a son from his mother, a brother from his siblings and a friend from us all.

The last time I saw Jim was in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1995 when Jeff and I returned from the Peace Corps. Jeff and I decided to try life in the American Southwest, and my old friend from high school happened to be living there. Jim arranged for us to stay with a friend of his while we looked for an apartment, and on one hot desert summer evening, we had a party. Jimmy made lentil soup.

I don’t really remember much from that night except for a few small details. I remember watching Jim cut the carrots with a big chef’s knife at the kitchen table. He was fastidious about his work. Each dice of the carrot was made to be the same size, and there was no hurry to get it done. While he chopped, I remember Jim explaining how the “Swamp Cooler” worked by using water vapor to cool homes in the desert, and I remember his hair was buzzed really short. The last time I had seen him in Minneapolis, his hair was long – mid back long. I don’t remember the jokes, but I recall the way he would toss his head to the ceiling and laugh.

We shared three years together, and despite the fact that it didn’t work out, he extended kindness to me long after we broke up. I have a locker full of memories of days spent with my high school sweetheart, but in front of me, a simple bowl of soup that from this day forward will remind me of my last night with James Scott Shore.

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Jimmy’s Lentil Soup – Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 pound lentils, washed
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 2 cups sweet potato, diced
  • 5 medium tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8-12 cups water

Directions: 1) Saute the onion until it becomes translucent then add the garlic and jalapeno. Saute just long enough to smell the garlic. 2) Add all the other ingredients except the cilantro and sweet potato. 3) Cook the soup until the lentils are almost soft then add the sweet potato. Cook just until the sweet potato is tender and add cilantro just before serving.

Brussel and Sweets Roasted

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Yikes, another not-so-beautiful-the-kids-will-hate-it one dish delicacy! Here we have slow roasted brussel sprouts with sweet potatoes and chard – all from this week’s CSA.

Brussel and Sweets Roasted – Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds brussel sprouts
  • 3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 bunch swiss chard chopped
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

1) Saute the garlic in olive oil. As soon as it becomes fragrant, mix in the washed brussel sprouts and swiss chard. Cover to steam a bit. You want the brussel sprouts to get a head start as the sweet potatoes roast up pretty quickly.

2) After the brussel spouts have the chance to soften a bit (perhaps 10 minutes), add the sweet potatoes, maple syrup and seasonings.

3) Pour everything into an oven proof dish and bake for 20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.