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Posts from the ‘Vegetarian Main Course’ Category

a soup to carry you through winter

What’s to like about winter? A low-slung sun. A bluer sky than blue. The last golden leaves to cling. Grass  that crunches under foot. Children’s boots and mittens.  Hot cocoa. The glow of candles near your bath. Longer hugs. And soup.

This is winter’s version of pistou, a Provençal vegetable soup, and I believe it is very possibly the finest winter soup I’ve ever made. It is, in fact, so fine a soup I’m going to be adapting it to different  kitchens and circumstances. (Slow-cooker and pressure cooker versions will follow before winter’s done with us.) It’s gob-full of vegetables, heavenly hearty, and will warm you to your chilly toes.

This makes an enormous potful. We took half out to our mom and the half we have remaining is enough to feed a table full. There’s quite a bit of chopping involved, but sharpen your knife and trust me…it will be so worth your time.

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Provençal Vegetable Soup

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Extra-virgin Olive Oil – 5 Tablespoons

3 plump, moist Garlic cloves

Onions - 4 medium, cut in ½ – 1-inch pieces

Leeks - 3 medium, white & tender green parts only, rinsed, quartered & thinly sliced

Bouquet Garni: several fresh or dried bay leaves, fresh celery leaves, thyme sprigs & parsley - either tie together or put in a wire mesh tea strainer

sea salt

Carrots - 8 medium, scrubbed & cut into thin wheels

firm, yellow-fleshed Potatoes (Yukon Gold) – 1 lb. (500 g)  peeled & cubed

Celery ribs - 4 ribs with leaves, cut into thin pieces

Butternut Squash or raw Pumpkin – 2 lbs. (1 kg), peeled & cubed (yield: 1 qt. or 4 c.)

Farro or Spelt – or substitute Barley - 1 cup, rinsed & drained

can peeled Italian plum Tomatoes in their Juice - 28-ounce (750 g) can

Tomato Paste – 2 Tablespoons

small White Beans – such as navy or flageolet (see NOTE)

Cranberry Beans (such as Borlotti) (see NOTE)

mixture chopped Kale & Spinach *

freshly-ground coarse Pepper

freshly-grated Pecorino Romano cheese – ¾ cup

freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese - ¾ cup

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NOTE: If using fresh beans, 1 pound of each in their shells. If using dried beans, 8 ounces (250 g) of each  - pick them over, making sure you have no little pebbles, rinse the beans, place in a large bowl & cover with boiling water;  allow to soak for 1 to 2 hours. Please note the different instructions – step 2 below – based on whether fresh or dried beans are used.

* – a bag of frozen chopped kale & spinach works great for this. Add as you’re ready to serve – each time you heat up a new potful of soup, add a handful or 2 of this mixture and you’ll have bright green in each bowl.

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1. In a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot, combine the oil, onions, leeks, bouquet garni and salt to taste,  then stir to coat. On low heat, sweat the onions & garlic mixture – cooking with the lid on for several minutes until what’s in the pot is softened and fragrant. Drop in the carrots, celery, squash, potatoes, farro (or spelt or barley), the tomatoes with their juice, along with the tomato paste. Add four quarts (4 liters) cold water. If you are using DRIED BEANS – add only 3 quarts cold water at this time. Cover the stock pot and bring to a simmer. Gently simmer for 30 minutes. Taste for salt & add as needed.

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butternut squash ravioli with toasted pecans & sage

Many of you are well-acquainted with the Italian gentleman whose handsome head pops up on many pages around this neighborhood. Always nattily dressed in dark suit and narrow tie, always raising his glass and leaving kind words to cheer us. He’s known to us as Chicago John. And he’s a legend in these parts.

You’ll find John cooking up a delicious Italian storm in the Bartolini Kitchen, every Wednesday.  The smells that rise from his oven and bubbling pots will make you hungry. They’ll make you wish you could pop into his kitchen and pull up a chair and spread your napkin and toast the cook and lift your fork and stay long into the night! They might make you wish you’d grown up Italian, with family recipes handed down, and down again to you. For sure they’ll make you wish you could cook like John does. And that’s where this little journey began for me…

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Only a handful of times in my life have I made pasta from scratch. I should be throttled for that! The man I married (who calls himself my grateful guinea pig and is such a good sport) is an enormous fan of pasta. Wrong word choice…he likes pasta, a Lot. So it was that when I spotted John’s series of posts on pasta – and then – Ravioli! – I knew I’d just discovered the Holy Grail – no question about it – this was D.i.n.n.e.r. – written in the Guinea Pig’s own Language of Love.

Now you understand, I’m not the one to learn pasta making from. No, no. I’d head over to John’s if I were you. Below is the recipe for the Bartolini’s pasta dough. It’s the one I used (Naturally!) I followed his expert guidance on how to roll and what dies to use as a novice raviol-ist. I prayed the rosary (ok, not exactly), asked John for one more encouraging word and then I dove right in. Fearless! (ok, not exactly.)

(You’ll be able to view this recipe better if you click on it.)

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It all went quite well, just like John said it would. I had mechanical issues with my pasta roller and I think I’m tossing it (but not til I’ve found a replacement.)

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I made a sweet & savory butternut squash filling…

(recipe follows)SquashRavioli-2

Closed those little pillowy parcels up…SquashRavioli-3

Gently boiled them in salted water, drained them and then slid them into a simple sauce of browned butter, garlic & sage, thyme & parsley & toasted pecans. G.P. will probably chime in here and tell you about it, but if he’s still tied up licking fingers, I’ll tell you…

it was pretty fine!

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Butternut Squash Ravioli with Toasted Pecans and Sage

1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds

Vegetable Oil - just a wee bit for brushing squash

 Cayenne Pepper – a Dash

Freshly-grated Nutmeg - (about 5 passes over the grater – to taste)

Salt & Freshly-Ground Black Pepper

Freshly-Grated Parmesan –  ½ cup

dried bread crumbs - ½ cup

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Freshly-Made Pasta ala Bartolini (recipe above)

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Brown Butter with Pecans & Sage

Butter - 4 to 6 Tablespoons, melted

Garlic - 1 medium to large clove

Chopped Fresh Sage Leaves – 2 Tablespoons

Chopped Parsley – 2 Tablespoons (divided)

Chopped Fresh Thyme – 2 teaspoons

Toasted Pecans, ½ cup coarsely chopped

Freshly Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (I prefer the latter here)

Prepare the filling: Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) Slice the squash in two, from top to bottom and scoop out the seeds. Brush the cut surface with vegetable oil and place cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat. Bake until soft – about 40 minutes (though begin checking at 30.) Scoop out the flesh and measure 2 cups full. Drop it into a food processor (or mash well with a fork) blending with 2 Tablespoons butter. Season with a dash of cayenne, grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. Season to your own tastes. (It will not need to be fully seasoned with salt since the cheese will bring some of its own.) If the squash seems a bit too liquid-y you can dry it out by dropping it into a skillet on high heat for a few moment. Add bread crumbs and cheese. Set aside.

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the guinea pig goes to college

The past two weeks have been quite out of the ordinary around here. It all started when the Guinea Pig went back to school…Stanford is training him how to be a business leader…I know…he’s really kind of somethin‘! I decided to use this time as a bit of a retreat of my own and do the sorts of things I don’t generally do when he’s around.

I set up a long table in front of the big window where I normally shoot my food photos. Outside that window are maybe half a dozen different sorts of bird feeders and a place for birds to drink. Nearby are the tall trees where they nest. For days and days, I sewed together squares of colorful flowers and polka dots for the little one who calls herself Lala. As my machine whirred, I watched the birds, literally by the hundreds, swoop in, grab their nuts or thistle, catch their wind and retreat to a nearby branch. I watched the fog rise and descend like a quilt’s airy batting, forming tiny glittering crystals on everything it touched. I watched a determined squirrel (already obese) hang upside-down, each sticky little paw clutching tight a different branch, as he filled his cheeks, trying hard to empty the bird feeder before again losing his balance.

These have been unusually cold days, with both a glorious sun and a freezing fog alternating through the day.   It’s been quiet and serene at this window and I’ve had a chance to contemplate the sorts of things I’d hoped to, love lots on my dogs, and sew a quilt for Lala. This all came at a good time, coinciding as it did with a new year.

I made a discovery early on…without the ever-grateful G.P. here to share the table, some of the joy of cooking has been absent. I’ve eaten very simply…which isn’t all bad. And I’ve eaten a lot of leftovers. This earthy warm tagine got me through several wintry nights…

YamCarrotTagine-2

Served over couscous, this syrupy, caramel-y tagine makes a delicious vegetarian meal served with salad. But it would also go well paired with grilled or roasted meats. Substitute butternut squash or sweet potatoes for the yams, or small shallots for the pearl onions if you like.  You don’t need a tagine to prepare this dish – use a heavy-bottomed casserole dish if that’s what you have. (And if you don’t have preserved lemons…I suppose you could make it without…or…here’s a thought: you could make some!)

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a Tagine of Yam, Pearl Onions, Carrots, Prunes & Preserved Lemons

2 to 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil along with a pat of Butter

Fresh Ginger Root – 1½-inch piece about the thickness of your thumb, minced or grated

2 sticks Cinnamon (or 1½ to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon)

10 ounces Pearl Onions* peeled (See NOTE below on how to peel)

2 pounds Yams or Sweet Potatoes, in bite-size chunks

2 medium Carrots, in bite-size chunks

¾ cup Pitted Prunes

2 teaspoons Maple Syrup

1¾ cups Vegetable or Chicken Stock

Preserved Lemon (rind only) from ½ lemon, small dice

small bunch Cilantro Leaves, roughly chopped

several Mint Leaves, chopped

salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

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*  (or 10 – 12 very small shallots)

In a heavy-bottomed casserole dish or a tagine, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the ginger and cinnamon sticks and stir for one minute. Toss in the peeled pearl onions and when they begin to color, toss in the yams or sweet potatoes, the carrots and the preserved lemon. Sauté for several minutes, then drop in the prunes and maple syrup. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, top with a lid and cook for about 20 to 25 minutes…until vegetables pierce easily with a fork. 

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creamy carrot soup & preserved lemons

On a winter’s afternoon, weeks still before Christmas, a good friend Carolyn and I came together in my kitchen. We’d amassed on the counter several bags of organic lemons, sea salt, a few herbs and spices, and a collection of pretty jars.  We washed, sliced and stuffed the lemons with salt. We packed them tight into their jars. Then tighter still. We dropped bay leaves and pink peppercorns and allspice berries in behind them, and then squeezed juice enough from other lemons to cover them. We talked about what we’d do with them and who we’d give them to as gifts for Christmas. In six weeks they’d be ready. Carolyn hadn’t tasted them before, so she could hardly wait.CarrotSoup-1Some time – too long ago – I posted on how to preserve lemons. I (kind of) promised that I’d share recipes that used these indescribably delectable “preserves”. (In all truth, though, you don’t really need a recipe in order to use them. You can strew them on a salad or in the salad’s vinaigrette; or in with roasted or steamed vegetables; make a simple sauce sort of extraordinary; add them to stews or soups; flavor grilled or poached fish with them. I reach for them several times a week, at least!) Over the next couple months I’ll share a good handful of really good recipes. One of them will be from my friend Carolyn who invented it on the spot (she does that sort of thing, and created herself a beautiful shrimp dinner in about 15 minutes.) She told me about it and I made it and we loved it. (Expect to see more from Ottolenghi too.)

This one today is from Mike – Mike, married to my daughter, is a good good cook. They received a jar of Preserved Lemons for Christmas. One day my girl and I were on an outing and she raved about the dinner Mike had made the other night. By that afternoon, I was texting Mike…

He generously shares his soup:

Creamy Carrot Soup with Preserved Lemons

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 -3 Tablespoons butter or olive oil

 2 cloves of garlic, minced

1½ teaspoons finely minced ginger root

 2 cups chicken stock (or good vegetable stock)

2 Tablespoons dry sherry or white wine

8 to 10 medium carrots, sliced thinly

1 to 2 sections of preserved lemon, diced finely (See NOTE)

1 to 1¼ cups milk (from whole milk to 1% to your preferred milk alternative)

Salt & Pepper (white if you have it) to taste

NOTE on preserved lemons. By “sections” we mean quarters of lemon. After soaking in a briny liquid for 6 weeks, the flesh of the lemon has given over much of its juice to the jar. The rinds of the lemon have softened, and in a way quite impossible to describe, have mellowed, given up their acidic bite and become more roundly-flavored, very lemony still, but not mouth-puckeringly so. To use them, you remove the flesh (either discard it or toss it back in the jar) and use only the rind, which you rinse well first and then (generally) finely dice. If you cook with it, it will impart its lemony-ness to the dish but in a way you can’t quite put your finger on. If you use it fresh, without cooking first, you get little lemony bursts.

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If you don’t want to make them yourself, you can find them in many markets. That said, they’re easy and (we think) fun to make…especially with a friend.

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curried cauliflower soup

Here’s a soup to warm the cockles of your heart.  No idea what I mean by “cockles”, but by soup I mean silky and warm, subtly complex, aromatic spoonfuls. If you think you’re not a fan of cauliflower, but are feeling up for a small culinary adventure, I think you’ll be surprised – the cauliflower just lends itself to the overall  creaminess of this soup and never brags about its starring role (which I respect in a vegetable.)  When we seek a warm refuge from winter’s chill, it’s nice to know we’ve got…..

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Curried Cauliflower Soup

(makes about 2 quarts)

3 Tablespoons coconut oil (see NOTE)

1 large yellow onion

2 teaspoon sugar

2 to 3 teaspoon green curry paste

 2 teaspoons (or more) garam masala (see NOTE 2)

¼ teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon cumin powder (or 1¼ t. seeds, dry roasted & ground)

Sea Salt as you go

1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets 

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed

5 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock or broth

1 medium green apple, peeled, pared and chopped

1 can coconut milk

1 fresh lime

 Garnish: ¼ cup plain whole milk yogurt + 3 Tbl. chopped cilantro (+ lime wedges)

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Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C) Wash the cauliflower and cut into florets. Melt 1 Tablespoon coconut oil, and drop into a medium-sized bowl along with the cauliflower and a good sprinkle of sea salt. Tumble onto a baking sheet or a roasting pan, sprinkle with a few pinches of the  garam masala and roast until tender and lightly browned.CurriedCauliflowerSoup-5

While the cauliflower is roasting, gently sauté the onion in 2 Tablespoons coconut oil until translucent. Add 2 teaspoons of green curry paste to start. Later you can add another teaspoon if you decide you like the warmth and want more. (I use 3 and don’t find it overly spicy at all.) Add the sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the remaining spices and continue sauteing for one minute. Add the cubed potatoes and chopped apple and stir over the heat for another couple minutes.

Add the broth and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer. After 15 minutes, add the roasted cauliflower and continue cooking until the vegetables are very tender.

Remove the pan’s contents in several batches and puree in a blender until completely smooth. (Be careful not to overfill the blender, and put a folded towel on the top to ensure hot contents don’t sputter up.) Return pureed soup to the pot . Check for salt and add to taste. Stir in a can of coconut milk and reheat the soup.  Again check for salt. Squeeze in the juice of one-half lime, and cut the remainder in wedges for serving.

Mix together the yogurt and chopped cilantro. Ladle soup into bowls, put a dollop of the yogurt/cilantro mixture on top, a little sprinkle of cilantro bits for extra color and serve with lime.

{ to print the recipe, click }

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NOTE:  Coconut oil comes in a jar, usually in the vegetable oil section at your market. It’s solid at room temperature. It comes in either refined or unrefined form….the unrefined has  more of a coconut aroma and a somewhat lower smoking point than the refined. If you do the research, you’ll find that coconut oil and coconut milk have a variety of healthful properties  I keep both on hand, but like the unrefined for this and most dishes. Read more

yet another summer salad turns to soup !

but then again, it’s not the first time that’s happened on a Wegetable Vednesday

I won’t be pushing any more gazpachos your way, I promise, if you’ll indulge me this one last time. We’re feeling lucky that summer is still lingering here in Oregon (and likely where you are too.) We’re not in any way ready to give up summer eating until the choice is wrestled from us. Gardens and markets are brimming with heirloom tomatoes, fat cucumbers, fresh sweet corn, and peppers in all colors and shapes. Herbs, in one last hurrah, are pouring over borders or tilting heavily on their stems. And those California avocados are…welll…sort of perfect. So, really, did we have a choice?

Brisk on the day it’s made…a little mellower on the day after…

a soup that requires no cooking, whatsoever! 

California Gazpacho

  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped* (see NOTE)
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh corn kernels (you can substitute frozen if you like)
  • 3 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fine-grained sea salt, plus more to taste
  • ¾teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 3 cups (or more) low sodium tomato vegetable juice (such as low-socium V-8 or R.W. Knudsen Very Veggie juice)
  • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cp finely chopped fresh parseley

Garnish:

  • 1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced or sliced
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts

* NOTE – (about 6 – if you can find heirloom tomatoes – or if you GROW them – by all means use them – it will make an enormous difference in taste! Enormous, I tell you!)  (Did you know that tomatoes peel with no argument if you mark the bottom with a little X using a sharp knife, then submerge them for 30 seconds in boiling water?)

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, bell pepper, corn, garlic, 2 teaspoons of salt and the black pepper. Stir in 3 cups of the tomato-vegetable juice, the oil, lemon juice and vinegar. Working in batches pulse the mixture in a blender or food processor until the mixture is soup but the vegetables are still somewhat chunkykind of nice in a soup like this to see what you’re eating. 

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going green & getting crabby

Wegetable Vednesday - featuring fresh & local fruits & vegetables

from our farmers’ markets

Our local paper featured several gazpacho recipes in the most recent Food Day section and this one sounded especially intriguing. Fresh, green, light and refreshing soup served chilled with lumps of Dungeness crabmeat piled on top.

Remembering what we learned in art class on color theory – red + green = brown, there’s to be no tomatoes in this one. (I’ve yet to meet a cold brown soup my lips would touch. It may be the same for you.)

Savoring these last luscious moments of summer,

a light dinner:

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Green Gaspacho with Fresh Crab,

crackly garlicky crostini,

and a good beer in a tall frosted glass 

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and we’ll not come back inside until the last rays of sun are gone

and our skin has turned to cool.

Green Gazpacho with Crab*

Makes 6 servings as an appetizer, 4 medium portions as a main course with bread

  • 3 cups peeled, seeded & coarsely chopped cucumbers
  • 1½ cups chopped romaine lettuce (plus about ¾ cups thinly sliced for serving)
  • ¾ cup coarsely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1⁄3 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1½ Tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1½ Tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 small cloves garlic, or 1 large
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1½ cup cubed crustless white bread (3 oz.)
  • 1 cup water (maybe less)
  • 1 cup Dungeness crab meat (* or grilled seafood such as shrimp, calamari, etc.)
  • 3 Tablespoons minced fresh chives

In a food processor, purée the cucumber, the 1½ cups of lettuce, bell pepper, onion, olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, garlic and salt.

Add the bread and allow to stand until soggy, a couple minutes. Purée until smooth. Mix in 3/4 cup water. (Add a bit more to suit your preference.) Taste for seasoning. Transfer gazpacho to a large glass or ceramic bowl. Cover and refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Gazpacho can be made up to 2 days ahead of time, and kept refrigerated. Read more

noodled & tangled Thai salad

Oh what a tangled web we weave

when first we practice to conceive

a noodled salad of garden things

kitty-kimboed together,  dressed with zing!

Once scattered with nuts it’s declared as  g o o d

Pray tell – who then shall make it – for

clearly, easily, anyone could!

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by Wilma Shakespoon

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Today’s Wegetable Vednesday offering:

An entire vegetarian meal, loaded with raw fresh vegetable goodness, textured and colorful, brimming with citrusy, nutty & Thai chili flavors, tossed into a bed of cushiony yakisoba noodles.

This recipe can be endlessly adapted to whatever is fresh and overflowing from your garden, or whatever inspires you at the produce stand. (Maybe you’ll add slivers of sweet or snow peas, or thinly sliced cabbage or radishes. Or you might decide to even replace the cherry tomatoes with red grapes. You could also add cubes of fried tofu or cooked chicken breast  if it pleases you.)  The dressing you will love,  just as it is.

Noodled & Tangled Thai Salad

Serves 4 as a meal

Simply cut the vegetables into sticks as thin and long as you can, or use a mandolin which will make quick & neat work of it.

  • 1 package of yakisoba noodles
  • 1½ cups very thinly sliced matchstick carrots (or grated into long slivers)
  • 1½ cups zucchini (prepared as carrots above)
  • ½ red bell pepper, cut into match-sticks
  • ½ – 1 cup Jicama (grated into long pieces)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes (cut in half if large)
  • 4 tbsp (¼ cup) Peanut Lime Dressing  (recipe follows)
Garnish:
  • ½ English cucumber thinly sliced or thinly matchsticked
  • chopped toasted unsalted peanuts
  • lime wedges
  • chopped or torn cilantro

Prepare the noodles as you like – if dry, you can either boil and simply strain, or strain and then quickly stir fry in a touch of oil (sesame or coconut are good…just go light.)  OR, if you’re using pre-cooked Yakisoba noodles, quickly stir fry. Noodles can be warm or room temperature or chilled. All are equally good.

Place cooked noodles in a large, shallow serving bowl or platter.

Pile the carrot, zucchini, jicama, red bell pepper and cherry tomatoes (and/or any other vegetables) on top the noodles and drizzle with dressing. Toss.

Garnish with the cucumber, peanuts, lime, and cilantro.

You may want to drizzle with drops of sriracha sauce if you love the heat, and some might like an additional bit of tamari or soy. But most, including kids, will like it just as it is.

This dressing is delicious… Read more

gingered stir-fry of asparagus, shitake & cashews

It’s Wegetable Vednesday!

At the market today under gray and threatening skies, locally-grown asparagus, crisp and tall, vaulted  into my basket. I’d already shared one of my favorite preparations for asparagus (lemon-marinated then simply grilled and sprinkled with coarse sea salt) but to my mind there’s another that rivals it: stir-fried with a little sweet and a little heat, earthy mushrooms, and scattered with lightly salted roasted cashews. Truly nummy.  (This could easily be a side dish, as it is. I added to ours tofu – or you could substitute finely sliced chicken breast or prawns- and serve atop soba noodles or rice.)

To utilize more of the asparagus stalk, did you know that you can cut off the bottom bit, stand stalks up in a container of water where they’ll drink up ’til they’re no longer thirsty? It’s true. So let them drink while you begin to prepare the other ingredients. (Pour yourself a little too if you like.)

I love the sweet rhythms of stir-frying. Though simple and easy, keeping it fun & utterly stress-free is helped along by some good organization. I measure out, wash and chop everything ahead of time. A stack of ramekins or cups and little saucers come in handy. Everything is ready before my wok is hot.

Gingered Stir-Fry of Asparagus, Shitakes & Cashews

Ingredients

  • 1 bundle asparagus
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups shitake mushrooms
  • ginger root (the width of a thick thumb x 1 or 2 inches, depending on your love of ginger) cut into matchsticks (or chopped if you prefer)
  • 1 cup roasted, lightly salted cashews

For sautéing and saucing -

  • sesame oil (or another oil with a relatively  high-smoke point such as grape seed or peanut oil)
  • ¾ cup chicken stock (or vegetable)
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot (I prefer arrowroot because it dissolves easily & adds glossiness to the sauce)
  • Tamari or Soy sauce (1 Tbl. to start)
  • 1 brimming teaspoon honey
  • sriracha hot chili sauce – optional
  • sesame seeds to garnish – optional

Brush the mushroom caps with a dry soft brush to remove any dirt. Remove the woody stems, then slice caps in approximately ¼-inch slices.

Ginger root – peel with the edge of a spoon then cut into slices, then slices into thin match sticks. If you prefer, you could mince instead.

Garlic - mince.

Green onion – wash and remove nearly all the green, then slice on the diagonal in approximately ¼-inch slices.


Asparagus – cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces, slicing on the diagonal.

If using tofu, dry with paper towels and cut into good bite-size pieces. Marinate in a mixture of cooking sherry and tamari or soy sauce for about 20 to 30 minutes.

The sauce – In a small bowl combine chicken stock (or vegetable stock), arrowroot or cornstarch and honey. Add 1 Tablespoon tamari or soy sauce, but feel free to add more later to taste. (Also, if you know everyone likes the heat, add a bit of Sriracha or other hot chili sauce now.)

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just another ‘ordinary’ breakfast in India

Last fall I introduced you to my friend Amit who grew up in Delhi, India. (See a wonderful rice and beans dish of his mother’s, Rajmah, that I posted at the time.) Amit, a man who loves all things associated with the kitchen, has inspired me in my own. Now borrowed from him are chai, rice and bean dishes, chutney, a couple salads and several curries that he brought to the US when he immigrated here. This is Amit’s father’s birthday month and in honor of that, I was asked if I could share a favorite dish of his Dad’s too. I told my good friend I’d be happy to.

Have you ever heard the expression that a person grows into the name he or she was given? It appears to be the case with Amit’s father, a gregarious man with a smile that lights up his entire face, and possibly the entire room. His name: Prakash Chandra Jain. Prakash means light, and Chandra - moon! Can you imagine being given such a name?! And then, having the privilege of growing into it?

Seen here with wife Anjana, at the wedding of their son Moni to his new bride, Richa.

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Sri Prakash Chandra, since retired, had his career as an experimental physicist.  He’s always been an exacting man – both in his lab and in the kitchen where he loved to cook for his family. His interest in the culinary world was already well-evidenced by the time he was a young man in college where he took the lead in his dorm’s dining hall — purchasing the food, planning the recipes for the cooking staff and in general, managing the kitchen. Experimentation wasn’t restricted to his physics lab either – he’s been known to work and work on a recipe until he’s perfected it. And one of his favorite dishes is one that Amit and his family grew up eating on a typical (ever-delicious) Delhi morning.

Paranthas stuffed with cauliflower & spices

served with cumin raita and an out-of-this-world green chutney

Sounds complicated, no? Well, it’s not a bowl of instant oatmeal or a cereal bar grabbed on the way out the door (but who writes of that?)  It’s sit-down food, meant for moments to savor.

Cauliflower stuffing

  • 1 medium cauliflower, shredded (using a coarse grater)
  • Grated ginger root (using fine grater) – a piece about 1 x 1-inch
  • Cilantro: 2 to 3 Tablespoons, chopped (Amit’s family uses leaves only)
  • 2 teaspoon Garam masala
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (optional, but we like) – minced

(NOTE: Amit has also made this stuffing with purple potatoes, cooked & chopped finely, then prepared as in the directions for this stuffing. How very pretty that would be.)

Heat oil in a pan. Add ginger and sauté until just slightly brown. Add the cauliflower and spices. Cook uncovered over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes (or until tender).

Should you have any left over, this stuffing is delicious to eat as a side.

Green Chutney

fresh ginger – 1 inch x ½ inch piece

1 Tablespoon cumin seeds

15 – 20 leaves of fresh mint

2 whole bunches of fresh cilantro

2 cloves garlic

1½ salt  (Amit likes 2)

juice of 2 limes

1 jalapeño – ribs and seeds removed

¼ to ½ water (more like 3/8)

1 to 2 Tablespoons plain yogurt  (optional – I wanted to preserve the brilliant green color so didn’t add)

3 Tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut

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