Monday, November 16, 2009

Red Lentil Soup

This is one of those recipes that is so fundamentally simple it seems like it couldn't possibly be that great. The fact that when it's finished cooking it looks like a pot full of orange mush doesn't do it any favors either. But once you top it with a few crumbles of feta and almonds this soup shows what it's all about.

I certainly didn't think I was going to like this soup as much as I did. It seemed like something this mushy was going to be a chore to eat and wouldn't be very yummy but it showed me how wrong I was. It is warm and filling and perfect for fall low maintenance low fat cooking. It was great the first day and just kept getting better as left overs. Those lentils suck up moisture though so keep some extra stock around to thin out the left overs the next couple days.

Think while I curl up under a blanket this afternoon I'm going to start another pot of this.

Red Lentil Soup

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

6 cups good-tasting vegetable stock (or water)
1/2 cup brown rice, picked over and rinsed
1 1/3 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed

slivered almonds, toasted
black oil cured olives, chopped
feta, crumbled

In a big soup pot, over medium heat, combine the olive oil, onion, shallots, and red pepper flakes. Let them brown, and caramelize a bit, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the broth, bring to a boil, then stir in the rice. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the rice is about half cooked then add lentils four about another 10 minutes or until both rice and lentils are very tender, and not at all toothsome. By this time, the lentils will have collapsed into a thick slop of sorts. If you need to add more water/broth at any point do so a splash at a time, until the soup thins out to the point you prefer.

Unless you used a salty broth, you will likely need to salt generously, until the the soup no longer tastes flat. Serve each bowl topped with almonds, olives, feta, and a slight drizzle of olive oil if you like.

Original recipe from 101 Cookbooks blog.

Root Vegetable Flatbreads

A couple weekends ago the fella and I drove to visit my family for the afternoon. While we were waiting on gathering the entire family to have dinner together my mother got out the Vitamix that had been hiding unused in my grandmother's basement for a while. It is an original version from the late sixties with a very vague instruction manual and no lid for the spout on the top. The book suggests using an apple to cover the hole in the top of the mixer while it is in use. Ah the good ole days when seatbelts and kitchen appliances with safety latches were largely over looked.

My mother stood back amused as the fella and I made flour out of everything she handed us. An hour later we had several pound of very finely ground almond flour, lentil flour, chickpea flour, and brown rice flour. At the cost of some raw ingredients and the loss our hearing for the afternoon (chickpeas in a grinder is one of the worst noises you will ever hear) we had enough flour to play with for months. Now I really want a Vitamix, a hand flour grinder, anything to never have to pay the outrageous prices for non gluten flour again.

Now the problem became what to make with something as crazy as lentil flour. All signs pointed to some flatbread Indian type creation. So I modified a flatbread recipe that called for wheat flour by switching in almond and lentil flour. It seemed likely to fail but with enough creativity I made it work. These were okay with the Shahi Paneer for “date night” dinner with the fella the other night but they weren't as great as I was hoping for.

The problem was I made them too thick, trying to roll them out and treat them like the gluteny original recipe would have which lead to a lot of crumbled dough and flatbreads that were raw in the middle. I put the rest of the dough in tin foil in the fridge for the next couple of days trying to figure what to do with it, worried that I wasted my exciting homemade flour on this creation.

While I was trying to figure out what to bring to my wine tasting group I remembered this flatbread dough was waiting to be fried up. I figured that though they weren't that great people might find a couple bites each interesting and it at least wouldn't get thrown away. To my great surprise while cooking them up at the last minute, this time around they were amazing. Turns out allowing the vegetables time to moisten the dough improved the consistency a lot and hand shaping tiny bite sized pieces made them easier to fry and made sure they got cooked all the way through making them chewy but crispy . My recipe worked out really well and I almost would have never known if I wouldn't have been too lazy to make something original to go with my wine.

These went over really well at the tasting. Not sure they are the perfect thing to pair with Malbec but it worked out alright nonetheless. So here is the recipe for all my fellow winos who wondered what was in the weird little fried breads. There are a lot of ingredients but I tried to organize them so you can track down all the related ingredients at the same time rather than running in circles around the kitchen.

Root Vegetable Flatbreads

1/2 cup chickpea flour
1 1/2 cup almond flour
3/4 cup lentil flour

2 cups grated carrot
1/2 cup grated radish or zucchini
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1 chili, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 egg, whisked well
2 tablespoons yogurt

2 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon chili powder

oil for frying

Dry roast the chickpea flour in a frying pan over medium heat until it is fragrant and no longer smells raw. The flour will give off a really nice smell as it cooks letting you know when it's toasted. It will benefit from being shifted through a mesh sieve after toasting so it won't be clumpy. I shifted the other two flours before adding them too the bowl as well.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the oil.

Coat your hands with a thin layer of oil and hand mix the ingredients together until it is a sticky fully integrated dough. You will probably need to add a couple tablespoons water to get the dough to be properly sticky and hold together without crumbling. Keep kneading the ingredients together with your fingers until it is moist enough to form a ball.

Add enough oil to a large frying pan in fry the bread. When the oil is hot enough for frying add more oil to your hands and beginning forming thin cookie sized rounds out of the dough with your fingers. Get them as thin as you possibly can without the dough crumbling. They don't have to be perfectly shaped or a totally uniform thickness.

Fry as many as you can fit in the pan at a time without over crowding them, for about 1 minute on each side or until they just start turning brown. Remove from pan and drain on a plate covered in paper towel.

The dough will keep for a couple days if stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator. This recipe makes enough for two people to nibble on for days so I fried up small batches over the week. The dough actually becomes easier to work with the day after it's mixed up as the grated vegetables give off some moisture so if it is giving you trouble right after combining it, chill it over night and come back to it the next day.

Idea from very not gluten free original recipe at Ecurry blog.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Shahi Paneer

When I want to treat myself while not thinking about little things like fat content and such this is my favorite dish to order out in an Indian place. It is a saturated fat monster of a meal what with heavy cream, cashews, and tons of cheese. It's a treat for sure and not a dish to put in the regular cooking rotation. It was a fun experience to cook at home though because it turned out so well we pretty much have no need to go out for Indian anymore. We cooked little fried lentil and chickpea breads with this paneer and had a really great Indian feast.

After making this meal however I'm officially fed up with paneer. This is the hazard of bulk food shopping. We've made some really delicious curries out of it but the remaining 2 pounds are going in the freezer to be excavated in a couple months. I need a break from paneer.

Shahi Paneer

8 tablespoons vegetable oil (divided use)
1/4 cup chopped cashews, roughly chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins

1/2 pound paneer, cut in small cubes

2 medium onions, chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves
2 green chillies, chopped

Salt to taste
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cubeb pepper
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 cup Milk
4 tablespoon heavy cream

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Saute the cashews and raisins until just barely browned. Remove from pan and reserve.

Add 5 tablespoons of oil to pan. Fry paneer until browned over medium heat. Remove from pan and reserve.

In food processor puree onion, ginger, garlic, green chili into a fine paste. Fry the mixture in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until golden brown. Add salt, chili powder, cubeb pepper, turmeric powder, and garam masala. Saute for 1-2 minutes.

Add milk to make a gravy. Bring the gravy to boil then reduce the heat and cook until the gravy becomes thick. Put a most of the toasted cashews and raisins in the gravy while it is being cooked, reserving a small portion for decorating.

Add paneer cubes and cream, heating for 5 minutes. Garnish with extra cream, cashews and raisins.

Original recipe from Indian Food Forever.

Spicy Coconut Milk and Mushroom Soup

It started innocently enough with my 3 jalapeño curry, the fella amped it up with 4 Serrano in his pea and paneer dish and the chef shamed us with this evilly delicious soup. There were 5 unseeded habenaros involved. I think it is safe to say I will not be continuing the spicy cooking challenge by making a jerk sauce with 6 Scotch bennet peppers. I'm okay with letting Jacob win, he is after all the professional.

The really amazing thing about the soup was that not only was it hot but it was tasty as well. Yes it made us all cry in the very best way while clutching our beers (mine sorghum from Red Bridge and theirs Founder's wet hopped seasonal) but it also had great flavor. The habenaros open up every taste bud you never knew you had to all the other things going in the soup. Citrusy lemon grass, salty fish sauce, herbal cilantro, creamy coconut milk. They all work together to make something amazing.

We're all crazy people who like spice so the heat wasn't a problem for us. If you aren't up for that much spice you can put in less peppers or cook some of the heat off of them by frying up the onion puree which will cut the spice a bit. And if the spice is still too much in the finished product you can do what we resorted to and pour it over some brown rice and toss in some paneer to add something to compete with the habenaros.

Spicy Coconut Milk and Mushroom Soup

1 1/2 cups mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons oil
2 medium onions, chopped

3tablespoon lemon grass puree
1teaspoon fish sauce

5 cloves of garlic
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
5 habenaro peppers, seeded

3 cups coconut milk
6 Cubeb peppercorns, ground (1 teaspoon of regular pepper and a pinch of clove would work fine)
2 1/2 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (mint or basil will work as well)

In a pot heat oil over medium heat then add mushrooms and one of the chopped onions. Cook until browned. Add lemon grass and fish sauce.

Puree remaining onion, garlic, ginger and habenaros in the food processor. Add in one cup of the coconut milk and puree until you have a paste. If you want to lesson the heat of the soup sauté this puree until the onions are no longer raw before adding to the pot with the mushroom mixture.

To soup pot add remaining 2 cups of coconut milk, peppercorns, and chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Add cilantro and simmer soup for 5 minutes. Serve over brown rice with paneer or tofu to cut spice if needed.

A purely original Jacob Schenk recipe.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Leek and Fennel Coulis

This simple but flavorful sauce is a great addition to just about anything. Fish, chicken, veggies or pasta with the addition of a little Parmesan. When I'm having a lazy menu making week I whip up a full recipe of this and use it to top a low maintenance piece of meat and then later in the week when I have zero time to cook I toss it over some pasta. Recipes like this keep me sane when I'm working too much because the only thing worse than working two jobs is not eating well and trying to make it through the day.

Leek and Fennel Coulis

1/4 cup olive oil
2 leeks, white part and two inches of green part, chopped
1 fennel bulb, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
3 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped

1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup olive oil

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Saute leeks and fennel for 6-8 minutes until soft. Stir in thyme and spinach and cover skillet for 2-3 minutes until spinach is thoroughly wilted. Remove pan from heat and stir coconut milk into mixture

Transfer mixture to a food processor and puree on highest speed until smooth. While food processor is running on medium speed, slowly drizzle in olive oil.

Original recipe from Elana's Pantry blog.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

This soup is autumn in a bowl. It's filling, warm, healthy and involves pumpkin. What more could you ask for? Oh it's also embarrassingly easy for such a tasty dish.

I'm not usually excited about cooking that involved pouring things from cans and the spice cupboard, adding heat and eating. But sometimes that's all you have the energy for, and this is the perfect thing to make while in one of those moods and still having a great dinner no one will realize you put nearly no effort into. And those cinnamony roasted pumpkin seeds I made the other day are a amazing on top of this.

The chef and I decided this soup is pretty great but it's probably missing bacon. It needs a little something extra to amp up the flavor and take it from yummy to out of this world. Oh darn guess I'll have to cook it again and experiment with adding bacon next time. Unless someone wants to do that arduous task and let me know what happens.

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

2 cans black beans (15 oz each), drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth

4 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 can (16 oz) pumpkin puree
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Baked pumpkin seeds, for garnish

In a food processor puree the beans and tomatoes with half of the vegetable broth.

Warm oil in a large pot then sauté red onion, garlic, cumin, salt, cinnamon, allspice, pepper and cayenne on medium heat until onion and garlic are brown; about 3 minutes.

Add pureed ingredients, pumpkin and the rest of the broth to the pot. Simmer uncovered until thick, stirring often and scraping the bottom, about 40-45 minutes.

Before serving stir in balsamic vinegar. Garnish with baked pumpkin seeds.

Original recipe from Noble Pig blog.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mattar (Green Pea) Paneer

A couple of weekends ago the fella and I went to visit some friends in Milwaukee to catch up, meet their newest bull mastiff and go bulk food shopping. As a result much fun was had and we came home with a gallon of marinated artichoke hearts, a barrel of kalamata olives and 5 pounds of paneer to list only a few items of bulk insanity. Artichokes and olives have therefor been making a lot of appearances in our cooking as of late. Being the curry freaks we are I figured that paneer would be gone in no time. Turns out finding interesting dishes other than saag paneer is more difficult than one would think. Fortunately we are resourceful and the Internet is on our side.

When I put the fella in charge of finding something delicious to make involving paneer he stumbled upon the rather interesting site of Indian Food Forever. Any Indian dish you've ever wanted to make is there and easy to find but the recipes are like a scavengers hunt of randomness. The ingredient lists are not in any logical order and the instructions call for the already mangled ingredient list willy nilly. So it's a good Indian cooking research with recipes that need to be translated into something usable before cooking, you've been warned.

At first green pea and paneer curry sounded a little dubious. But as the chef and I sat on the couch writing and let the fella do the cooking we started to smell the awesome that was emanating from the kitchen. It was about then I stopped doubting dinner would be delicious and started wishing dinner was ready.

It was a nice change to eat something this fabulous without having to be involved in it's creation, the chef and I both agreed. The fella had a huge dinner success and got to carry around the smug look of someone who made the two resident foodies coo over a perfectly spicy Indian dinner. Though we have now officially started to play with the somewhat scary precedent of trying to one up one another in making spicy food. I made a kidney bean curry with three jalapenos, the fella paneer with 4 serranos and I can only imagine what the chef will do with 5 chilies when it's his turn to cook. I'm sure it will be wonderful if dangerously spicy

Mattar Paneer

2 medium onions, chopped (divided use)
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander

1/2 cup ghee or coconut oil
1 pound Paneer

1 tablespoon ginger, grated
4 bay leaves

1 tablespoon turmeric powder

1pound shelled green peas
3 green chilies, chopped
4 medium tomatoes, peeled and sliced
1cup plain yogurt

1 cups water

In the food processor make a paste out of one of the onions, the garlic and the coriander.

Heat the ghee or coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cut the paneer into 2 inch cubes. Fry the paneer to light brown then remove to a plate.

Add the remaining onion, ginger and bay leaves to the oil in the pan and fry until the onion is golden brown. Then add the turmeric and the onion paste mixture and fry about another 5 minutes.

Add the paneer, peas, yogurt, chili, tomato and salt to taste. Stir for 5-6 minutes over low heat until well combined.

Pour in the water and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens a bit. Serve the matar paneer sprinkled with garam masala and coriander if you like.

Original recipe from IndianFoodForever.

Absinthe Ice Cream

I've been waiting for an excuse to make this ice cream for a while now. Every great cake needs a complimentary and equally exciting ice cream at it's side so the fella's birthday was the perfect time to try it out. Especially since I happened to have a dozen egg yolks left over from making the angel food cake which was the exact number of yolks needed to double the ice cream recipe I had my eye on.

No matter how fussy they sometimes might be David Lebovitz's recipes are always spot, I go to his ice cream recipes in The Perfect Scoop again and again because they all work and turn out great even. The bonus is all the ones I've tried so far tolerate substituting in agave nectar for sugar without changing up the recipe portions. So all the hard work of ice baths, tempering eggs, and perfectly heated cream was worth it. Okay the hardest part of the whole experience of cooking for the fella's birthday was to not start drinking the absinthe without him at 3 in the afternoon. The Libertine absinthe at Vom Fass (I'll talk about this addictive store more later) is excellent and worked perfectly in the custard base.

This made the tastiest ice cream ever. Even people who aren't all that into the licoricey absinthe flavor loved the ice cream. It was a huge success if the loud chorus of yummy noises and calls for second helpings were any indication when I served the cake and ice cream. And now I have an excuse to nibble on absinthe flavored ice cream periodically whenever I need a bite of something sweet.

Absinthe Ice Cream

1 cup whole milk
A pinch of salt
2/3 cup sugar

2 cups heavy cream

5 large egg yolks

3 tablespoons absinthe
1 1/2 cups chopped chocolate truffles or chocolate chips

Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium low heat.

Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Pour the cream into the smaller bowl set a strainer over the top for straining the egg mixture later.

In a small separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

Strain the custard into the cream. Stir in the bowl over the ice bath until cool, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight. Stir in 3 tablespoons of absinthe. Taste, and add another one if desired.

Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. During the last couple minutes of churning and in the chopped chocolate bits.

Original recipe from David Lebovitz's blog.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Rice Flour Angel Food Cake

The fella has only one requirement for his birthday: there must be an angel food cake with blue frosting. I love him more than air but in case you've never tried angel food cake making is a pain in the behind. There is also the fact that boxed cake mixes are my Achilles heel of baking. I can make a three layer hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting from scratch without breaking a sweat but show me a boxed cake and I can almost guarantee it will not turn out.

The first two years the fella and I were together I made the mistake of thinking a boxed angel food cake would be the way to go because even though baked goods in boxes are my nemesis it had to be simpler than doing it from scratch. Right? Both times I spent an afternoon in the kitchen glaring at the box and swearing at the electric mixer. No matter how much I beat the mix it wouldn't fluff up. Convenience food? Ha. After much pacing of the kitchen and many choice words I did end up with a mostly in tact cake placed on the table and frosted and me with a smile on my face, trying not to let on to the fella the amount of crazy I had just re-harnessed behind my beaming faux house wife facade before he got home.

There were a couple moments while making those cakes when all the angel food cakes I would make for the rest of my life flashed before my eyes and I wanted to give up. Was a deep meaningful relationship with a man I love dearly and connect with on almost every level worth making angel food every year? It turns out it is but I still dislike angel food.

This year a box mix wasn't even an option. If I was making this cake I was making a gluten free cake I could eat and if I was going to go through that much effort I was going to make the best freaking angel food cake ever. This would be the year I made piece with angel food.

It worked. I took the super simple recipe for basic angel food cake in The Joy of Cooking and switched rice flour in for the cake flour and stirred in some chocolate flakes to make it more interesting. It was a long 35 minutes waiting for that cake to finish. There is no window in my oven door and opening to peak in would have ruined anything so for 35 long minutes I was sure that I had just wasted a dozen eggs and my afternoon for nothing. When the timer went off and a perfectly risen fluffy gluten free made from scratch angel food cake came out of the oven I couldn't help but do a little dance and congratulate myself. The fella was thrilled and belly laughed at me for my lack of modesty.

Now there was the issue of blue frosting. I thought of all sorts of creative and crazy ideas for flavors or ways to make it blue without food coloring but in the end I went simple. Homemade whipped cream with blue food coloring heaped on the top of the angel food cake so that it looks like a fluffy blue cloud of yum. As you can see the fella was excited by this prospect and I'm excited that I finally made a yummy birthday cake for him.

Turns out angel food cake isn't that difficult after all. The trick is reading the recipe a million times before starting and making sure absolutely all the tools you'll need for all the steps are within arms reach because once you turn that mixer on for the first time you are not leaving that corner of the kitchen for a good 10 minutes but the result is worth it.

So happy birthday to the fella, hope you've had the best birthday week ever.

Rice Flour Angel Food Cake

1 cup brown rice flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/ 4 cup dark chocolate pieces or chips

12 cold egg whites
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Have ready an un-greased 10 inch tube pan.

Sift together the flour, sugar and salt three times into a medium bowl.

Pulverize the chocolate chunks in a food processor until finely chopped. Set aside.

In a large bowl beat together on low speed with an electric mixer for 1 minute the egg whites, water, lemon juice, cream of tartar, and lemon. Increase mixer speed to medium and continue beating until the mixture increases in volume about 5 times and resembles a slightly translucent soft foam. This should take around 2 to 3 minutes. The foam will hold soft moist peaks when beaters are lifted.

One tablespoon at a time slowly beat in the remaining 2/3 cup of sugar. Do this process over the course of 2 minutes. When the sugar is added the foam will be a creamy white and hold soft glossy peaks that bend over at the points. Do not beat until stiff.

A 1/4 cup at a time sift a fine layer of the flour mixture evenly over the surface of the batter and fold gently with a rubber spatula just until the flour is nearly incorporated. Repeat 7 more times with the rest of flour mix until no traces of flour are visible. During the last addition of flour mixture add the chocolate pieces.

Pour the batter into the pan and spread to level the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool upside down for at least 2 hours, setting the tube over a bottleneck or resting the pan on 4 glasses.

Original recipe from Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker's The Joy of Cooking.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cinnamon Pumpkin Seeds

The end of CSA season meant I've had seemingly one of every kind of squash in existence sitting in my kitchen waiting for me to be inspired to do something with them. Then the chef brought over a couple more squash just to mock me the other day. At that point there was no point in delaying it any longer, I took a knife to every squash in the kitchen and roasted them. This will force me to find something to do with their various roasted flesh as every time I open the fridge there they are tempting me. Tonight I simply warmed the acorn squash in some butter in a frying pan and was very happy with it.

However I'm very much my mother's daughter (no worries, I mean it in a good way mom) and the thought of all those squash seeds going to waste was unthinkable, I had to do something with them. I've never made roasted squash seeds before so it was fun to grab the first spice that came to me out of the spice cupboard. Cinnamon with salt sounded divine and it was. I was very pleasantly surprised with the results and made this same combination twice since then.

Even better than the cinnamony seeds themselves is that they are awesome in a salad. I've been hooked on throwing them in mixed greens and spinach with feta cheese and a vinaigrette of olive oil and fig vinegar. It's tastes way too good to be that simple.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seeds
olive oil

Reserve however many seeds you get from pumpkins and other random squashes you have around for cooking. Toss the slimy pits from around the seeds. Rinse the seeds then spread them over a baking sheet.

Heat oven to 350. Put just enough oil over the seeds so that they are coated. Sprinkle with salt and cinnamon to suit your taste.

Bake for 20 minutes or until well toasted.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Spicy Kidney Beans with Tomato and Yogurt Sauce

These cold windy fall evenings are perfect for rich spicy curries. And we all know how much of a curry obsession I have so when I saw yogurt, goat cheese and kidney beans in a recipe I was all over it. This recipe is perfect so there isn't much for me to add. Three chilies made for a very spicy curry though so be warned if you like to take it easy on the heat scale.

I paired it with Helfrich Gewurtraminer and some almond naan and couldn't have been happier. It seems crazy but Gewurtraminer and curry is amazing. The wine was a easy sweet spice and fruit wine with okay body but after a few bites of curry and it just popped, making both the wine and the food that much better. Learning this fact has only helped fuel my obsession for two of my favorite things.

Spicy Kidney Beans with Tomato and Yogurt Sauce

1 1/4 cup of dried kidney beans

1 cup of yogurt
2 tablespoons of chickpea flour
1/2 cup of goat cheese, mashed with a fork

1 small clove of garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
3 - 4 fresh chilies, finely chopped

2 tablespoons of oil
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon of asafoetida

1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of garam masala

2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped

Soak the kidney beans overnight in enough water to cover. Drain, transfer to a medium large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover and simmer until the beans are tender - roughly 1 hour. Drain the cooked beans and set aside.

Whisk together the yogurt and chickpea flour until smooth. (The chickpea flour helps to prevent the yogurt from curdling. I made my own by putting some chickpeas through the coffee grinder.) Mix in the mashed goat cheese, stirring well to make sure the cheese breaks up evenly throughout the yogurt. Stir in the garlic, salt, turmeric, cayenne, and chilies. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a medium large pan over medium heat. When hot, toss in the ginger and asafoetida and stir and fry for a few minutes. Now add the tomato and garam masala and simmer until the tomato thickens - roughly 5 minutes.

Stir in the cooked kidney beans and yogurt mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens to your desired consistency. Garish with the parsley and serve over hot rice.

Original recipe from Lisa's Kitchen Blog.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fig and Bacon Brussles Sprouts

I've finally found a recipe that makes brussles sprouts delicious.

Actually that's a lie. What this recipe really does is manage to combine figs and bacon cooked together to perfection, the flavor juxtaposition of which is so amazing you forget there is brussels sprouts on the plate as well. Chewy sweet figs coated in salty bacon fat is surprisingly great. Bacon alone makes sprouts edible but this is a whole other league of yum. Don't take my word for it go try it.

Jacob made a variation of this the evening we were baking the chocolate bacon cake and found ourselves with a lot of left over bacon to play with. Those brussles sprouts were swimming in bacony goodness and then ramped up with some fig vinegar. They were good but I wasn't in love with them.

So when I went to cook these sprouts Jacob was a little dubious quipping, “didn't I make this same thing a couple weeks ago?” I defended my recipe choice claiming it would be amazing and totally different while in reality the only reason I was trying this was I had CSA brussel scprouts and wanted an excuse to buy figs. All I was hoping was that I wouldn't fail epically.

The joke was on us both. We started nibbling on the sprouts while waiting for the random curry I was also making to finish. Both of us had the same reaction of stopping to stare at one another wide eyed and a bit impressed. They only got better as the figs had time to get more and more chewy. Then he had the inspired idea to add some apple vinegar which made the sprouts somehow even tastier. I think the slightly sweet fruity vinegar worked out better in the dish than the balsamic vinegar that the original recipe calls for.

Playing in the kitchen with someone who really knows food is amazing fun, but making a professional foodie something that is rewarded with yummy noises and that delighted look of stunned satisfaction is somehow even better. Bacon and figs...who knew?

Fig and Bacon Brussels Sprouts

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces of bacon, chopped
1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1 cup dried figs, stemmed and quartered
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Pour oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped bacon and cook, stirring occasionally until it starts to crisp, about 8 minutes.

Add sprouts, figs and water to pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper then cook undisturbed until sprouts are tender, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium high and continue to cook until any remaining liquid evaporates.

Add vinegar to taste just before serving.

Original recipe from Mark Bittman in the New York Times.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chocolate Bacon Cake

This cake is what happens when you spend time drinking with a chef and say crazy things like “how would one go about making a gluten free cake with port, bacon and chocolate?” And said cooking expert is just wacky enough to take the question as a challenge, not only making it happen in a very tasty way but never once cocking an eye brow at the weird idea. So together Jacob, the chef with multiple “most unique” cooking titles and I threw together this chocolate bacon cake for the birthday party of our celiac friend Q. It was a big hit and a lot of fun to make. Two packages of bacon were cooked in the making of this delicious dessert.

The only problem with this cake is that it will conquer even the greatest sweet tooth. I highly recommend making it next time you need the most creative baked good possible, just remember to eat truffle sized amounts of it and have large amounts of chocolate and bacon loving friends around to help you conquer the cake. It's that rich and evilly tasty. Somehow the sweet flourless cake combines perfectly with the bittersweet salty bacon frosting. The powdered sugar makes it nearly perfect.

Oh did I mention this cake is out of this world but absolutely not something that follows the French diet at all? Yeah whoops. It was just so good I had to write about it anyway. It was a big hit.


1/4 cup red wine reduction
1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

7 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Or invest in a 9-inch silicon pan which requires no greasing or lining.

To make a wine reduction pour most of a bottle of a decent red wine (something bold like tempranillo or syrah) into a saucepan over medium low heat. Keep on a gentle simmer until the liquid has reduced to a thick syrupy consistency.

Stir chocolate (I used half bittersweet and half semisweet), butter, wine reduction, and vanilla in heavy large saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Cool to lukewarm.

Using electric mixer, beat eggs and 1 cup sugar in large bowl until thick and pale, and slowly dissolving ribbon forms when beaters are lifted, about 6 minutes. Fold 1/3 of egg mixture into lukewarm chocolate mixture. Fold remaining egg mixture into chocolate mixture.

Place prepared pan on baking sheet. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 55 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake. Remove sides of pan; transfer cake to platter. Remove parchment paper.

Original recipe from with creative embellishments from Jacob.


4 ounces bacon fat (rendered from 1 package good quality bacon)
4 ounces 100% cacao dark chocolate
2 tablespoons heavy cream
powdered sugar for decoration

Use your preferred method for cooking bacon, setting aside rendered fat. While fat is warm run it through a sieve to strain out the ugly left over bacon pieces. Reserve cooked bacon for decorating the cake later.

In a small double boiler gently melt together 4 ounces of the bacon fat and 4 ounces of dark chocolate. When melted add heavy cream and stir to combine until homogeneous.. Allow mixture to return to almost room temperature at which point it will thicken enough to smooth over the cooled cake. Place in refrigerator until frosting is firm, about 20 minutes.

To make your own powdered sugar place about a 1/2 cup regular granulated sugar into the blender. It seems crazy but it works, don't try try to substitute the food processor for this it won't accomplish anything. You might need to agitate the sugar occasionally to get a uniform powder consistency.

I then used a damask stencil, placed it over the firmed frosting and sprinkled powder sugar over it. Using the left over bacon, chopped into small pieces I a framed the stencil decoration.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Eggplant and Chickpea Stew

Instead of writing a novel in November I'm going to try to put that same sort of frantic writerly spirit into getting back to blogging about food. I'm hoping to write something here everyday in November. Horrible foodie that I am I have been eating, cooking, and generally carrying on in the kitchen plenty lately I just haven't been posting about it. And I've been eating such amazing things it's wrong of me to not be talking about them. Somewhere along the line since the last time I wrote there was chocolate bacon cake which the world needs to know about.

I'm starting with something something simple but tasty. It's hearty and warm so it's perfect for the chilly fall weather when I know all I want is soups and stews, bonus points if there are copious amounts of beans involved. There are a lot of ingredients but they all come together easily. The only hard part was frying the eggplant which I would skip all together when cooking this again, it didn't contribute anything to the dish other than extra fat.

Eggplant and Chickpea Stew

3/4 cups dried chickpeas

8 tablespoons ghee, or a mixture of butter and olive oil
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
2 green chillies, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder

2large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 cup water
1 pound fresh spinach, trimmed and coarsely chopped

small handful fresh cilantro chopped
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
fresh ground black pepper

Soak the chickpeas overnight in water with a drop of lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour or until the chickpeas are tender. Drain and set aside.

Preheat an oven to 325°. Meanwhile, heat 6 tablespoons of the ghee or butter and oil mixture in a large, deep saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the eggplant and fry, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until the cubes are well-browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the remaining ghee or butter and oil to the pan. When hot, add the ginger, chillies and cumin seeds and fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until the seeds turn dark brown. Toss in the asafoetida, wait a few seconds, then stir in the tomatoes. Add the coriander, paprika, cayenne and turmeric and cook until the tomatoes reduce to a thick sauce, about 10 minutes.

Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the chickpeas, eggplant and spinach. Remove to a casserole dish, cover, and put in the preheated oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, garam masala, salt and pepper just before serving.

Recipe from Lisa's Kitchen Blog.