Friday, October 30, 2009

taste & create: rassa sabzi

It's been awhile since I participated in Taste & Create, a monthly blogging "event" where food bloggers are paired up and have to cook something from one another's blog. It's a fun way to find new blogs and new food adventures. Of course I'm a few days late posting mine *bad blogger*. I was paired up with Supriya (awesome name!) and her blog Celebrating the Little Things in Life. Supriya made my spiced zucchini bread, and I'm glad because it reminded me how good that is, and that I should make it again! Perfect for fall.

Anyway, browsing through her blog of mostly Indian food, it was hard to choose a recipe. Being a sucker for cauliflower, I chose this Kolhapuri Vegetable Curry/Rassa Sabzi. I had most of the ingredients already, except for the Tamarind concentrate, which I am excited to now have in my fridge! Now, Supriya used whole spices and ground them herself. I already had the spices in ground form, so rather than buy more, I adjusted the recipe a bit to accomodate what I had. I also left out the peas, used canned tomatoes and, of course, added garlic. It turned out really well. Here is the recipe as adapted by me:

Kolhapuri Vegetable Curry/Rassa Sabzi

1 green pepper
1 large red potato
3 cups cauliflower cut into big pieces of 2 inches each
1 teaspoon chopped ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can whole tomatoes
1 medium onion
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 tablespoon coriander
4 green chiles
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoon grated coconut
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
6 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
oil for frying
salt and pepper for taste

Cut green pepper and potato into two inch and fry for 5-10 minutes till brown on all sides, set aside. Fry cauliflower for 4-5 minutes on high flame till crisp. Chop onion into small pieces. In a tablespoon of oil add chopped ginger, garlic and onion. Fry onion till brown. Chop tomatoes into small pieces and add, with juice, to the onion. Add spices, chiles, coconut and tamarind concentrate. Season with salt and pepper. Add the vegetables in the curry and cook the curry till the vegetables are soft. Garnish with cilantro. Serve hot with roti, rice or naan.

Previous Taste & Create Posts:
Wonton Soup
Crockpot Apple Butter
Steamed Buns
Egg Curry

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

of logs, fun guys and fate

This past weekend, my aunt and uncle, who live on lots of pretty acres near Fulton, MO had their annual Harvestfest. This is one of the much-anticipated family parties of the whole year... who am I kidding? Most of our parties are much-anticipated. Like Jesus in a tuxedo t-shirt, we like to party. Anyway, my uncle is very much about living off the earth. He hunts, he butchers, he fishes from his own lakes, and he grows lots of his own vegetables. Past the lake and the farmland, there are woods. So what does uncle do, but start growing mushrooms! Have you ever?! This is very cool. He drilled some holes in logs and got some spores online, and voila, a shiitake mushroom garden, a nice leisurely walk from their house!

He was kind enough to let me gather some of these big, meaty fungi. I took them home, racking my brain for some appropriate way to cook them. Pasta? Tart? Casserole? Then, Twitter came to my rescue yet again! Micheal Ruhlman tweeted that he had just made a blog post about cooking mushrooms! In this post he described his favorite way to cook good mushrooms... basically a very simple saute in a hot hot pan with some shallots. To me it was fate. This sounded like the best way to make use of the excellent shiitake's I had gathered!

It's simple... not even a recipe... I had about 2 lbs. of mushrooms, which I cut into bite-size slices and dried with paper towels as best I could. I heated some vegetable oil, a generous amount, in a skillet over high heat until it was quite hot. I threw in half of the mushrooms (I did not want to crowd the pan or the shrooms wouldn't brown), added some salt, thinly sliced shallots, minced garlic and a bunch of fresh thyme leaves. Thyme and mushrooms is one of my favorite flavor combinations EVAR!!! I let everything cook on high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms and shallots were soft and browned. I repeated this with the other batch of mushrooms. I served it it on sliced artisan bread that I toasted with butter in a skillet. A simple and hearty meal for a cold rainy fall evening.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Squeee! Meeting Rick Bayless!

As soon as I found out that Rick Bayless was coming to Schnucks Cooks Cooking School, I sprung into action getting tickets for me and Kelly (just in time for her birthday!). I've always admired Chef Bayless for his knowledge and passion for cooking and teaching about Mexican food. I was pleased to see, in the class and the following book signing, that he is indeed very genuine about his love for what he does.

The class was just one hour long, but he packed in LOTS of good information and recipes and tips! Kelly took notes, thank goodness, because I was busy taking photos and being starstruck, and probably missed a few things. You can see her recap and notes in this Barbaric Gulp post. Basically, he showed us how to make his multi-tasking salsa, and then demonstrated ways to add to it and make stuff using it. The last dish he made was chipotle cream shrimp. So good. We all got to taste a shrimp, but when he recommended serving it over pasta, I knew I had to make it the first chance I got.

The Shrimp with chipolte cream sauce we were served in class

This was quite a simple recipe... the most labor goes into making the salsa, which you can do days ahead of time. OR you can buy the Frontera chipotle salsa... Chef Rick assured us that all his products are made from scratch with no pre-processed ingredients. Though it's quite simple to make yourself as well.

Chipotle -Tomatillo Salsa

-1 pound (about 11 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
-2 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
-1 canned chipotle pepper with about 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce it's canned in
-1 small white onion, finely chopped
-1/4 cup loosely packed, roughly chopped cilantro
-salt, about a generous teaspoon
-sugar, about a generous teaspoon (if needed)

1. roast the tomatillos under a hot broiler on a baking sheet. When they blister, blacken and soften on one side, about 5 minutes, turn them over and roast the other side, 5 to 6 minutes more. Cool completely. In a dry heavy griddle or skillet, roast the garlic cloves* over medium heat, turning occasionally, until blackened in spots, about 15 minutes. cool and peel.

2. Pour the tomatillos and any juice from the pan they were roasted on into a food processor or blender, along with the garlic and chipotle and adobo. Pulse until it's not quite smooth, but not really chunky. Add puree to a bowl with the onions and cilantro. Taste and add salt and sugar to taste.

Chef Bayless making Chipotle-Tomatillo salsa

Frontera's Shrimp with Chipotle Cream
-1 medium red onion (this isn't part of the original recipe, but he garnished the dish in class with grilled red onions, so I took a cue from that)-1 1/4 pounds peeled and deviened large shrimp
-1 Tablespoon olive oil
-1 recipe or 1 (16 oz) jar of chipotle salsa (see above)
-1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream or créme fraiche
-chopped fresh cilantro

1. Cut red onion in half and slice thinly. Cook in a skillet over medium or low heat, stirring frequently, until thoroughly softened and shrunken, sweet, and slightly browned... this takes about 15-20 minutes. Set aside.

2. Pat shrimp dry. Heat the oil in a large, heavy non-stick skillet over medium-high. Add the salsa and heat to a boil. Cook and stir until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.

3. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring often, until barely pink, about 3 minutes. Stir in cream and return sauce to a gentle boil. Season to taste with salt. Remove heat, serve over pasta (I used cavatappi ... I like the similarity in size and shape tot he shrimp), sprinkled with cilantro and carmelized red onions.

Me and Chef Rick Bayless! Woot!

One more shot of the Chipotle Cream shrimp and pasta. So yummy! Rich, spicy, smoky!

*Um, yeah... so I had an article published in Sauce Magazine... It's about roasted garlic.... So exciting!!

Some more links related to this post...
Follow Rick Bayless on Twitter
That Time I met Micheal effin Ruhlman
That time I met Trevor Corson, sushi hero
Iron Stef cooks Mexican
Tomatillos and more Tomatillos

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Forking Fantastic

The authors of the new book (out today!) Forking Fantastic!, Zora O'Neill and Tamara Reynolds, contacted me a little while back and asked if they could send me a copy for my review. I know bloggers get books from publishers all the time, but this was a first for me. Of course I said yes... free cookbook! I wasn't sure what I was gonna do if I didn't like it... do I still have to review it just because they gave it to me? I certainly wouldn't do a positive review just because it was given to me for free. Luckily, it's a totally fun romp of a book. So no worries.

Zora mentioned there is a ham recipe in the book that she wishes she had called "Skank Ham" because it is full of booze and sugar. Ha! The book indeed has some good entertaining recipes. It's not all recipes, though. Lots of tips/motivation for throwing lively, interesting dinner parties. Not like, Martha Stewart pretty perfect place card type dinner parties, but dinners where the conversation gets spicy and the characters reveal themselves. The way they talk about how to salvage trash chairs for seating, shopping at thrift stores for eclectic table-ware, making make-shift buffet tables from a door, etc., made me feel like I could be an awesome dinner party host! Me, a 30 year old single gal who lives with mom, most of my serving ware being packed up in the basement... yes even I can have 10 people over and have it be Forking Fantastic.

The section on why people should cook struck a chord with me, too. They compare cooking to sex, art and power. YES!!! This book is free of pretentiousness, and there's even plenty of cussing. Not to mention menu plans, recipes, kitchen supply tips, etc.

Speaking of recipes, I made the roasted fennel side-dish from the book last night. Here's a paraphrased version of it... I'll be making it again. Yum.

Forking Fantastic Roasted Fennel

-4 large bulbs of fennel
-olive oil
-dry white wine (I used Bonnydoon's Big House White)
-Oil-cured olives (My store did not have these, so I used Kalamata and green cracked)
-crushed red pepper
-salt and pepper

Cut the fennel bulbs in qurters. Heat up some olive oil in a large, heavy pan. brown the fennel on medium-high heat on all sides (I did this in 2 batches to ensure good browning). Once you have some good brown spots, pour in a couple glugs of the wine (like a small glassful) and the olives. Cover, and let cook on a low heat for about 15-20 minutes until the fennel is fork-tender. Remove the lid and cook of most of the moisture, season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper and serve.

So there we go.... my very first solicited book review!