Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Brussels Sprouts--Two Ways


Sorry, universe, but I can't write about cookies all the time. (Don't worry, next week we'll be writing about cake.) 'Tis the season for cool season vegetables (even if southern Indiana hasn't figured out the whole 'cool season' thing yet).

Because of that, it's time to tackle the most unfairly hated of all vegetables: the Brussels Sprout.

I think we're going to have to blame either '50s pop culture or '50s housewifery or both for this hatred. Apparently, back in the day, people used to boil the unfortunate little vegetables, which is really the only way NOT to prepare these guys. Sauteed, baked, or even raw, they're pretty delicious, but boil them up and you get soggy, bitter greens. No thank you.

Below, you'll find two of my favorite recipes for making Brussels Sprouts. They are amazing--like fancy restaurant good. They're easy. They're seasonal. They are not your 1950s Brussels Sprout.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Aioli. Warm, creamy. Better than any appetizer ever.

Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries, Pecans, and Goat Cheese. Perfect for November, or any time.

They're not half bad on their own either. You can eat them raw in any cole slaw style food. Or stir-fried with a bit of oil and salt and pepper.

Monday, September 24, 2018

My Favorite Dal


Since last week, I posted my two favorite naan recipes, this week I thought it'd be apropos to post my two favorite dal recipes. Especially with the cooler weather and rain we've been having--it's been making me crave warm comfort foods like crazy.

My very favorite to-die-for dal is this Dal with Tomatoes and Cream. I'm actually also kind of fond of the post I wrote about it, so if you like you can go HERE to see/read it. If not, I'll post the recipe below as well. It's just so good it will convert you.

My second most favorite ever dal is this Coconut Red Lentil Dal--beautiful (it's the image featured above) and with an amazing combination of flavors. Find the original post HERE if you're so inclined or the recipe below.

Dal with Tomato and Cream
adapted from Steamy Kitchen
Serves 4
Cook time: 1 hour
Cost: $1.95
(lentils: .50, tomatoes: .75, butter: .30, cream: .35, other stuff: .05)

1 C dry lentils
1 14-oz can diced or crushed tomatoes (I used home-canned)
1 Tbsp minced garlic (3-4 cloves)
1/2 tsp ground ginger (you could also use 1/2-1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 C water
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp pepper
salt to taste
1/3 C heavy cream
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro (didn't have, so skipped. Would have been lovely--for my picture and my palate)

Note for the calorie/fat conscious: You can skip the cream, but not the butter. (Or possibly visa versa.) I tasted it before adding the cream and it was seriously already to die for. Yes, the cream added even more amazingness if such a thing could be, but you could get away without using it. The butter, however, added a smooth  flavorfulness that I don't think you should live without.

Check lentils for stones (I've never found one, but I don't want to either). Put lentils in large sauce pan and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Drain water and return lentils to the pot. You can mash some of them against the side if you will.

Add crushed tomatoes (I pureed my home-canned ones and left the juices in, so it was pretty watery). Add ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, water, butter, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 hour until dal is thick with most of the fluid cooked out. Check the pot periodically and if your water cooks out before it's done, just add more. Take off heat and stir in cream. Garnish with cilantro if desired.

Coconut Red Lentil Dal
adapted from 101 Cookbooks (her ingredient list is perfect; her instructions a little fussy to my mind)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Cost: $2.55
peas/lentils: .20, carrot: .10, fresh ginger: .02, butter: .02, green onions: .36, raisins: .10, coconut milk: 1.30, tomato paste: .20) cilantro: .25)

1 C yellow split peas (I didn't have so subbed in regular old lentils--the greenish kind you find at Walmart)
1 C red lentils
7 C water (I wasn't sure I should trust this and almost used chicken stock instead, but 101 Cookbooks came through for me and the water worked fine)
1 medium carrot, diced
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 Tbsp curry powder
2 Tbsp butter (or olive oil for a vegan option)
8 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 C raisins (again, I hesitated here, but went ahead with it--totally awesome. You have to add the raisins. They cook so that they kind of mush into everything else, but add a nice earthy pop of sweetness to the brew)
1/3 C tomato paste
1 14-oz can coconut milk
2 tsp fine grain sea salt
1 small handful cilantro, chopped (this could be optional, but I do love me some cilantro)

Rinse peas and lentils until they no longer put off a murky water. This took more rinses than I expected. I'm not sure it's worth it, but I expect it might lower the gasaciousness of the legumes. Place them in a big pot and cover them in the water. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer. Add carrot and 1/2 Tbsp of ginger. Cover and simmer 30 minutes or until peas are soft.

In the meantime, melt your butter in a small skillet. Add curry, ginger, half the green onions, and the raisins (seriously, don't skip them, even if you hate raisins). Saute for a couple minutes (you should start smelling the seasonings) and then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute.

Add this to the simmering soup (add it after the first 30 minutes). Add coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered for 20 more minutes. It will thicken up and you should give it a stir here and there to be sure it's not sticking to the bottom of your pan (if it is, turn down the heat or stir it more frequently or both). I liked it nice and thick. (How thick you may ask, especially if you're not used to making dal? Well, I hate to use the word pasty here because it's not a word we usually use with food to mean good things, but you'll want to get it less soupy and more pasty. Not so pasty you could make a pinata out of it or anything, but definitely on the pasty spectrum. Hope that helps.)

And I really liked it with some cooked farro thrown in.

Serve garnished with remaining green onions and cilantro.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

My Favorite Naan


Naan is one of my very favorite breads. It is good with something exotic like dal or chicken tikka masala. But it is just as good plain or with peanut butter.

If you want to go fancy, you can work garlic, rosemary, basil, tarragon, dill, or parsley into the dough. And people will basically think you're the bread goddess of the universe.

Or, well, like I said keep it simple. Or add jam or honey. It's hard to go wrong with jam or honey. It's just amazing no matter what you do.

I have two go-to naan recipes. They're both completely amazing. The first is my absolute favorite. The second is a very very close second and it does not require the rise time the yeast naan does, which makes it mightily convenient some days.

You'll find both recipes below. (Quick naan is pictured above, but they both look basically the same.)

adapted from mybakingaddiction.com
makes about 15
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cook time: 20-30 minutes

Rise time: 45-60 minutes
Cost: $.80 (that's about $.06/piece)
(yeast: .05, sugar: .05, milk: .03, egg: .10, whole wheat flour: .36, white flour: .21)

Note: You're going for about 4-4 1/2 C total flour. I usually like to work in some whole wheat flour. I wouldn't add more than 2 C of whole wheat, but hey, if you're a hundred percent kind of person, go for it, and let me know how it turns out. Generally, I use more like 1/2-1 C whole wheat flour in my naan. 

1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 C warm water
1/4 C white sugar
3 Tbsp milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp salt
1 C whole wheat flour
3 1/2 C all-purpose flour

In large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and 1-2 C flour. Add another cup flour and then add flour y 1/2 cups until you can't mix it with a spoon anymore. Turn it out onto the counter to knead, add extra flour as it becomes necessary. Remember that you want to keep your ball of dough nice and supple--not sticky, but not a hard ball of dough either. (Although naan is much more forgiving of mistakes than a loaf of bread or rolls; that's one of the things to love about it.)

Let rise an hour or until it's doubled in size.

Punch it down. Note: At this point, if you'd like to get fancy, you can knead in minced garlic, rosemary, or any other herbs you'd like to fancify your bread.

Pinch off pieces of dough about the size of golf bass. Roll into balls and let these rise for about 20 more minutes. (Note: If you're pressed for time, you can skimp on this rising time and still get great bread.)

Heat cast iron skillet (or another skillet that can get hot; the grill would work too if you're skilled in that area). I heat to a bit above medium-medium high. Lightly oil skillet.

Roll out dough as thin as you can and as circular as possible. Place dough on skillet. You can brush it with butter for a special treat, but I usually don't. Cook 1-2 minutes on first side until it starts to get little puffy air pockets. It'll look like this:

(If by any chance it doesn't look like this, don't despair. It will probably still be fine. Check your heat and make sure it's not too low.)

Flip it and cook on other side for another minute or until lightly browned. And then keep going.

Quick Naan
adapted from The Good Loaf
makes 12-15 6-7-inch naan
Prep time: 5 minutes
Rest time: 30 minutes (it can be shortened; oh yes, it can)
Cook time: 20-30 minutes
Cost: $1.00
whole wheat flour: .20, flour: .30, yogurt .50

1 C whole wheat flour
3 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 C plain yogurt (I used full-fat, but any will do)
3/4-1 1/4 C water

Combine flours, sugar, baking powder.

Add yogurt and 1/2 C water. Mix. Add more water as necessary to get your dough to come together into a nice ball of dough. It will feel dense and just a tiny bit tacky, but it won't stick to your fingers at all.

Let it sit for 30 minutes, or less if you're pressed for time.

Roll it into 2-inch balls. Heat skillet (I used cast iron skillet) to medium high while you roll the dough balls as flat as possible with rolling pin. Add a little oil to skillet. Cook one at a time on medium high heat. When one side is golden browned, flip. Cook briefly on other side; it will probably bubble puff in a few areas and should only need 30-90 seconds.

Remove to plate and continue the process.


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