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Mutant cucumbers and dum aloo

By popular request, here is my recipe for dum aloo. It may have come from Julie Sahni by way of S’s father, but I’ve never checked my hand written recipe against the book. It’s an impressive dish that’s easy to make. Prepping the potatoes takes  some time, but after that it’s quick. We’ve made it for various people over the years, and it’s always a hit – so rich and so delicious.

But first, a picture. Every post needs a picture, but I don’t have one of dum aloo. We’re eating our way through a bumper crop of tomatoes from the farm, so we won’t be making this anytime soon (seems like a waste to use fresh tomatoes here). Instead I’ll share a picture of Rufus lounging next to one of our garden cucumbers. 

We planted an Armenian Burpless, which is a very pale variety with distinctive ridges. Left alone, they can get quite large. This particular cucumber was hiding somewhere in the middle of the mess of vines. By the time we saw it, it was big. I have a hard time capturing scale in pictures, so when I saw Rufus napping next to this beast I was quick to take advantage. For those of you who don’t know, Rufus is not a dainty cat, last weighing in at more than 15 pounds.

 

Without further ado, the recipe:

Dum Aloo

12 small potatoes (baby red or fingerling)
7 tb veggie oil (enough to shallow fry the potatoes)
1 1/2 c finely chopped onion
1 tb finely chopped ginger
2 ts ground cumin
4 ts ground coriander
1 ts tumeric
1/2 to 1 ts cayenne
1 ts garam masala
2 c chopped or pureed tomatoes (like I said, I think it’s a waste to use fresh since canned are fine)
2/3 c plain yogurt (full fat is best)
4 ts salt (this is waaaay too much, use 1/2 to 1 ts total and then adjust to taste)
2/3 c heavy cream

1. Prep potatoes: peel and prick with a fork in 4-5 places. Rinse in cold water and then pat very dry with a clean dish towel. They should be bone dry before the next step or else they’ll sputter in the oil.

2. Fry potatoes: Heat 5 tb oil in pot until very hot. Fry potatoes until golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels.

3. Sauce: If necessary, add remaining oil to pan (I never do). Fry onions until caramel brown, stirring constantly. This takes time, so don’t skimp. The onions should be deeply colored (past carmelized) but not super dark brown (like I’d do for a curry, for instance). Add ginger and stir for about a minute. Add spices, and stir for less than a minute. Add tomatoes, stir. Reduce heat and add yogurt and salt. Stir until incorporated.

4. Put it all together: Add potatoes in a single layer and bring it to a simmer. Simmer very very gently, covered, for 35 minutes. Be careful not to curdle the yogurt, so keep the heat very low. The last step is to stir in the cream.

Try to prep at least a few hours before you serve it.

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Meal Plan: June 19, 2010

Finally a meal plan! Evelope fish is a tin foil pouch with a flaky white fish, fresh herbs (we’ll do dill and parsley), spices (paprika, s&p), and a drizzle of good olive oil. Seal it up, toss in the oven for 10 minutes or so (we’ll try on the grill tonight), and then serve individual packets right on your plate.

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Recipe: Cholas (not the cat)

While not exactly fast food, here is an easy recipe. The longest part of the process is browning the onions. In a pinch, they could be browned less, but the end result isn’t nearly as good.

Also pictured are some smothered greens. This is pretty fast:

1. Fry a good pinch of cumin seeds in a healthy amount (3 tb) of melted butter for about 30 seconds.
2. Add greens (kale, spinach, but not mustard greens!), and saute until just wilted.
3. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed toasted coriander seeds.
4. Serve immediately.

For the chickpeas:

1.Coat the bottom of a heavy pan with veggie oil. Heat the oil until very hot, add a palmful of cumin seeds and fry for about 30 seconds.
2. Add 1 large or 2 medium onions, diced.

3. Cook the onions over medium heat, stirring frequently (every 5-10 minutes at first, and then constantly towards the end). Cook until desired level of brown-ness. Try to go for at least 45 minutes to an hour. The longer the onions are cooked, the more flavorful will be the sauce.

4. When the onions are ready, add in ground spices. I added 2 heaping ts of homemade chana masala (with pomegranate). You can use any chana masala, or try a combo of cumin/coriander/garam masala/cayenne (listed from largest quantity to least).

5. Add tomatoes. I usually use 1 can diced, but you could use fresh diced, or canned whole (and then cut up). Don’t use puree or crushed. Turn up the heat, and cook the tomatoes until softened, breaking them up with the spoon as you go; about 10 minutes. The onions should practically dissolve if they’ve been adequately browned. The goal should be a rich sauce, with a few tomato chunks still visible.

6. Stir in chickpeas. Two cans (drained and rinsed) or about 1/2 lb dried (soaked overnight and already cooked ’til soft). Cover and cook on low for at least 10 minutes. The dish can sit either on or off heat until you’re ready to eat; just turn the burner back on to reheat if you turned it off. If using dried chickpeas, cook for longer so that they soften more.

7. Add a handful of chopped fresh coriander (optional) and taste for salt. How much salt you add will depend on which tomatoes and chickpeas you used, but it usually needs a least a little. Serve with yogurt, breads (pita, naan, whatever), and/or chutney.

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Cowboy Curry

cowboy chiliI found this recipe for beef brisket chili on Epicurious. Chili and cornbread is another childhood meal I remember, and it still ranks pretty high on my dad’s list of favorites. Instead of doing the regular ground meat version, this chunk chili recipe really appealed. This is the second time we’ve made it, and both times have been pretty good.

We renamed the dish cowboy curry because the result is amazingly similar to S’s dad’s beef curry, which we call oeil noir curry. Its sauce is darker, richer, and more concentrated and intense than any curry you’ve ever had. The key is in browning the onions past the point you ever thought onions could be browned. They’re not burnt, but they are black. S and I have tried to make this curry many times, with pretty passable results, but we’ll never be able to replicate it exactly. So imagine our surprise that this chili, which started from just a light saute of the onions and cooked in the oven, would resemble an oeil noir curry.

 Cowboy Curry
(kind of from Epicurious.com)

3 dried ancho chilies
Spices: 1 tb chili powder, 1 ts cumin seed, 1/2 ts dried oregano, 1/2 ts ground coriander, 1/2 ts kosher salt
3 garlic cloves; peeled
3 slices bacon; diced
2 c chopped onions (~2 large)
2 1/2 lb stew beef
10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1/2 can beer

Soak ancho chilies with a cup of boiling water in the blender for about 30 minutes. Add spices and garlic. Blend until smooth.

In a dutch oven, saute bacon until cooked. Add onions, stir, then cover for 5 minutes. Add beef to pan with salt and pepper, and stir to brown. Pour over the blender mixture. Add tomatoes and beer and bring to simmer. Cook in 350 degree oven for 2 hours covered. Stir, then continue cooking uncovered for another hour. Let cool, then cover and put in the fridge. Reheat the next day over low heat.

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Butternut Squash Risotto

012Risotto’s a good weeknight meal. I’m not sure I do it exactly right, since, as far as I can remember, the only time I’ve ever had someone else’s risotto was a long time ago at a restaurant in Italy. S definitely has only had my risotto, due to his cheese aversion. I pile my portion with grated parmesan, and while he’ll still make a face if he gets a whiff of my plate, it’s a compromise that we can both live with.

This is what I do, but I’d be curious to hear if anyone else does anything differently. The other frequent variation is mushroom and peas.

Butternut Squash Risotto
(kind of from Sally Schneider’s A New Way to Cook)

1 medium/small butternut squash
5 cups stock (the better the stock, the better the risotto; use any kind, chicken/veggie/mushroom, as long as it’s good)
1/2 tb butter
1 ts olive oil
1/4 c finely chopped shallot (or red onions, or cooking onions as a last resort)
1 1/2 c Arborio rice (I’ve used very cheap short grain domestic varieties for very good results.)
1/2 c dry white wine

Peel, core, and cut squash into 3/4 – 1″ chunks. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees until soft and browned on the edges. I always loose track of time, and overdo it, but probably 20 minutes? It can be hot, warm, or cold when adding to the risotto, so just set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the 5 cups of stock until simmering in a medium saucepan. Cover, and put on low to keep warm. In a large heavy bottomed pan, melt the butter and 1/2 ts oil. Add the shallot and saute until soft, ~ couple minutes. Add the rice, and stir constantly over medium heat. When the rice is opaque (~ 5 minutes), add the wine. Stir constantly until absorbed. Now start adding the stock; add 1/2 c at a time, and keep stirring constantly, until the stock is gone. It’s really hard to screw up, as long as you keep stirring.

Once all the stock is used up, stir in the roasted squash chunks (or whatever else). Now would be the time to stir in copious amounts of cheese, if that’s your thing. Sally Schneider says 1/2 c of aged cheese (parm-reg, pecorino, manchego, etc). Season with salt and pepper (watch the salt if using store stock). Fini!

Nutritional Info (from NutritionData.com)

per very large serving (1/3 recipe) (with parmesan in parens):
Fat 9g (13g)
Calories 372 (444)
Sodium 25% DV (36%)
Vitamin A 461% DV !

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Fauxcroute

025Fauxcroute is our version of choucroute. We first had choucroute when in Alsace last January, and it’s probably not my most favorite food. Choucroute is french for sauerkraut (chou means cabbage, choufleur is cauliflower and S’s friend Marc’s favorite French word, and chou is also a term of endearment for a loved one, kind of like our honey– so many fun chou word facts!). The idea is a big plate of its namesake piled high with lots of sausages and fatty meats and boiled potatoes. It has a certain charme as a regional dish, but we didn’t exactly run back to the States to recreate it.

But that’s what kind of happened. Back when S and I met, I started making a red cabbage and sausage dish that my dad made growing up. Basically, it was a big pan of canned red cabbage with a Hillshire Farms sausage nestled in the middle. It was a good day when the sausage was cheese filled. My first change was to use fresh cabbage, and eventually we subbed more high brow sausages. After our trip to Alsace, we adapted it further. S had the brilliant idea – use green cabbage, add bacon and white wine.

Unlike choucroute, we cooked the cabbage less and less, until our most recent version had the crispness of a coleslaw rather than the sogginess of sauerkraut. Although our fauxcroute is a pretty far cry from both its sources, it brings up fond memories whenever we make it.

Fauxcroute
6 links sausage (we usually use Cibola Farms French tarragon)
1/2 package bacon (the thicker cut, the better)
1 onion; cut in half, and sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic; sliced thinly
1 c white wine (we use whatever’s open, but an Alsace varietal, gewurtz or riesling, would be best)
1 small green cabbage; cut in half, cored, and then very thinly sliced (as thin as possible)
2 small apples; in small chunks
Ground black pepper (no salt, though!)

Cook the bacon in a very big skillet (14″) until cooked but not crisp. Remove bacon and drain on a paper towel lined plate, but keep most of the bacon fat in the pan. Meanwhile, cook the sausage in another pan. To keep the sausage from sticking, slowly add a little bit of water to the pan. Cook until browned and cooked through, then remove to a plate. Deglaze the pan with half of the white wine, and scrape up the sausage bits. When everything’s scraped up, turn off heat and set aside.

In the bacon skillet, cook onions and garlic on medium to low heat until the onions are lightly browned. Add cabbage and apples and saute until the fat and onions are evenly distributed. Nestle in the sausage links and bacon slices. Grind a healthy amount of pepper over top. Pour over the rest of the wine and the deglazing wine from the sausage pan, mix, and then cover. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer for maybe 10 minutes or so.

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Apple Crisp

009We went apple picking the other weekend and I wanted to make a pie, but when it came down to it I couldn’t bring myself to make the crust. Besides, I remembered again that we don’t have a pie plate. Well, who needs a pie when crisps are even more delicious?

I started with the Better Homes & Garden fruit crisp recipe and changed this and that to make it a little more healthy. We ended up eating it for breakfast. Jump through for the recipe.

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