Tag Archives: food

Adventures in curry leaves

I don’t care what anyone says about tofu’s versatility. It has nothing on the lowly potato.  Fry them, roast them, coat them in a slick of olive oil with salt and pepper, and you have dinner. Ok, maybe not the most balanced dinner, but let a girl dream once in a while. If you want something green, broccoli, potato, and sharp cheddar cheese is even tasty if you do get lazy and make everything in a microwave. Not that we own a microwave.*

If you haven’t gathered this already, I will never tire of potatoes.

But I thought I had tried pretty much every variation I could think of, until I came across this recipe from 50 great curries of India, by Camellia Panjabi.  These potatoes are boiled, and then tossed in hot oil with some turmeric, mustard seeds, lentils, chile powder, and curry leaves.  The curry leaves are reminiscent of garam masala, but more vibrant somehow, and they transfer their frangrance to the potatoes far more thoroughly than I would have expected from a quick toss in a pot.

The end result? The most addicting, exotic homefries you will ever taste.  Hot or cold, this dish is both simple and impressive, and goes quite well with any sort of curry.  Or you could just eat them for dinner as is.

The only catch, really, is finding a source of fresh curry leaves.  Around here, the only place I’ve ever seen them is the Asian market in M&M farms, which seems to get boxes of them in sporadically.  Luckily, they freeze well, so stock up.

*For the record, we killed ours. It is resting peacefully in the basement, along with all our other broken stuff that I loathe to get rid of when we finally get out of this city for good.

Recipe after the jump.

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Filed under main, potatoes, side, vegan, vegetarian

A taste of Cato Corner Farm

If you’re ever at a loss for what to do when a giant, stinky box of cheese arrives at your doorstep, go buy a good bottle of wine, a good baguette, and invite some friends over.  Or just keep the smelly goodness to yourself — your preference.  We recently got such a package from Cato Corner Farm, courtesy of Pam (thank you!!), filled with healthy portions of Vivace, Dutch Farmstead, Bridgid’s Abbey, and Hooligan (their stinkiest, ripest, most gorgeous award winner).  They make some of the best raw milk cheese in the US, and they are only an hour or so away, so we were thinking of picking some of their varieties for our wedding (which we are self catering, picnic style, because we are nuts / poor grad students — whichever you prefer). Therefore, with utter seriousness, a bottle of Malbec, and a great deal of hunger, the taste test commenced.

James arranged the order, because he’s the resident cheese expert.  We started with the Vivace, which tastes kind of like a young, less salty Asiago (though the website describes it as a cross between a Gruyere and a provolone). This one was mild and pleasant and ended up making a delicious melting cheese.  Next was a 6 month Dutch Farmstead, which is sort of a raw milk Gouda.  It was also fairly mild, though richer than the Vivace, and somewhat creamier.  Bridgid’s Abbey, which is supposed to be a Trappist-style monastery cheese, finished the trio of older, slightly harder cheeses.  Now, I have no idea what a Trappist-style monastery cheese is supposed to taste like, but of the three harder cheeses, this last one probably had the most complex flavor profile, and was the most bewitching when melted over a bit of toast.

Now, for my personal favorite. That cheese in the top left corner of the picture above is called Hooligan. It smells of wet, dirty socks, but tastes creamy and complex, with a slightly strong aftertaste.  Now that is CHEESE, as it is meant to be.  And it’s the closest either of us have come to finding a proper Epoisses in the states.  I am, unfortunately, hopelessly addicted.  Good thing it’s hard to come by here — you really have to go to New York to pick up a smaller portion, or order a whole 1.3 lb wheel and pick it up at the farm.

All these cheeses are made with the same milk, so they all have a similar creamy flavor to them.  For the wedding, we’ll probably pick a few from different producers, just to get a bit of variety going.  As for the Hooligan? Well … It depends on whether we can figure out what to do with a whole 1.3 lb wheel of the stuff.  I have a few ideas…

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Filed under cheese

I’m FINISHED!

With the thesis, anyway. And I am totally celebrating with chocolate chip cookies and a bottle of Malbec.  Its a welcome change from Milky Ways and coffee, which I really don’t recommend for a balanced diet.  But I do have something that might just save dinner on those nights when you really don’t want to cook.  It involves *packages* (shudder). Three of them.  And you know what? I’m not ashamed. This is one mighty fine boxed meal.

All you need is a box of Trader Joe’s white cheddar mac and cheese (or any mac and cheese, as long as it is not orange.  I have nothing against Kraft; If you subsist off dollar stores or live in the dorm, it has its place.  But in this dish? It’s just not right somehow — you’ll see why in a second).  Next, you need some frozen spinach — maybe a cup or two, depending on your veggie craving.  And finally? Smoked trout in a tin.  Or smoked fish of any sort, as long as it’s cheap and not super salty. Actually, even tuna will work, but it won’t taste quite as upscale.  (But will certainly not mesh with the orange.  See what I mean?)  If you have a bit of gruyere or cheddar, you can grate that and mix it in, but this is totally optional.

Cook the mac and cheese according to the packet directions, mix in spinach and fish, heat, and serve.  That’s dinner in less time than it takes to go through a McDonald’s drive-thru, and it is TASTY. Seriously.  And at $3 a (huge) portion, I really can’t do much better.

Anyway, I’ll be back to normal soon, and so will this site. I’m kind of in a bread baking mood, as a matter of fact …

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Filed under main, quick meals

Cauliflower? Delicious?

Hell yes.

I’d even tell you the recipe if I had time.  Good thing it’s simple.  Preheat your oven to something like 400ºF/200ºC. Toss cauliflower florets and plain white button mushrooms in oil, with a bit of salt, a teaspoon or so of freshly cracked coriander seeds, and some paprika (to taste — I love the stuff, so maybe I better not advise you on this one).  Shove in the oven for 30 minutes or so. When the cauliflower starts to look golden, grate a healthy portion of gruyere over all of it, return to the oven until the cheese melts, and eat.

All of it.

In one sitting.

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Filed under cauliflower, cheese, mushrooms, vegetarian

A first attempt at Ethiopian food

As much as I dread winter, I tend to do my best cooking then, when the warmth of the oven is welcoming, and work keeps my fingers warm and occupied in the long months before spring arrives and frees me from the cold.  When a snowstorm hits, and all the town is back from scavenging like madmen for food to sustain them through the long hours before the streets are cleared, I tend to choose something warm and spicy and new to spend an afternoon making.  On such days, I don’t mind grinding a thousand spices by hand, or trying out something that just might work, if only I give it a try.

These afternoons are more fun when I don’t have everything I think I need.  When I’m missing a few ingredients, I’m forced to improvise, to think about what each ingredient does to the dish, and to figure out how to achieve the same effect with what I have at hand.  I get to have taste tests, and run around the kitchen, searching for some forgotten spice or obscure ingredient that all of a sudden seems essential to the finished dish.  These eureka moments are quick and satisfying, unlike science, and that, perhaps, is why such experiments are so frequent in our household.  James and I both come home after a long struggle with some obscure problem or another, and create new ones: ones we can discard or change as we see fit, with only the judgement of our tastebuds to concern ourselves with.

This meal is the outcome of one such experiment, and was my first attempt at cooking Ethiopian food at home.  An impending snowstorm cut my shopping trip short, so I made do with the ingredients I had at hand, and was mostly happy with the results.  My mock injera was a semi-disaster (though edible enough), so I won’t share the recipe here, but the chicken stew (doro wett) was spicy and complex, without being overwhelming, and the cabbage dish was sweet and subtle.  The pair complemented each other surprisingly well, balancing sweet and spicy, rich and wholesome.  Both are worth trying out, especially if you’re craving hearty winter fare like I am.  And yes, you can skip the berbere. It won’t be quite the same, but I think the stew and cabbage will be satisfying nonetheless.

Recipes after the jump.

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Filed under cabbage, chicken, chili, comfort, Ethiopian, lentils, main, onions, soup, squash, stew, Uncategorized

Cinnamon raisin spice rolls

I have been craving cinnamon rolls for years. YEARS. And I resisted up until now. Why, I have no idea — I’m just silly like that sometimes.  I finally made them over the holidays, in one of my, “Damn it, James, I’m not going to work this morning” moods.  They were our Christmas morning breakfast, post-hike lunch, pre-dinner snack, and …

Hey, don’t judge me.

This recipe (or formula, if you’re as pretentious as Peter Reinhart occasionally is, which I fully forgive every time I make another one of his recipes) makes light, warm, and not-too-sweet cinnamon rolls, with a little bit inspirational filling from their slightly stickier relation and a slight nod toward the warm spiciness of hot cross buns.  If there’s one thing I’d change, it’s probably the glaze. I really wanted cream cheese frosting on these, but I’m indulgent like that, so you might disagree.  The icing isn’t bad — after all, we scraped it off the plate once the cinnamon rolls were gone, like rabid, sugar-crazed fiends — but it wasn’t oh-my-god-I-need-MORE good.  Next time, I intend to do better.

Recipe after the jump.

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Filed under baking, breakfast, holiday, raisins

Holiday cookies

Mexican chocolate cookies

Mexican chocolate cookies

I’m taking a snow day today.  No one will miss me — in fact, with the storm warning, I think everyone else is doing the same thing.  Which is great, because I can look forward to curling up on the couch with Nuclear Structure from a Simple Perspective and getting my theory chapter FINISHED.  Well, mostly, anyway.

(What, you came here for the food? Nuclear structure is much more interesting. No — seriously. Stop laughing. I mean it.)

Lemony gingersnaps

Lemony gingersnaps (at night)

The thesis is looming. It’s due in two months — a little sooner than I expected, because it’s hard to get five professors in the same place at once. A few of them seem to be allergic to this town, but hey, I’m not complaining. I have a DATE. A scarily soon date, upon which the equivalent of a book is due.  So posts will be slim in the coming months, but I’ll come back after that with ideas and pictures and maybe even a blog makeover, or a move to a server of my own.  For now, I’m just glad the cookies I made for the holidays turned out, so I can leave you with a little something to celebrate with.

Gingersnap dough is kind of ugly (but addictive all the same).

Gingersnap dough is kind of ugly (but addictive all the same).

Both of these cookies are variations on recipes from Williams-Sonoma’s Essentials of Baking.  My brother gave us a copy for Christmas last year, and I’ve had good luck with the cookie recipes thus far.  These are no exception. The gingersnaps are soft, fragrant, and chewy, and are the best molasses-based cookie I have found so far. The Mexican chocolate cookies are cute and seductive, all in one go.  They have a rich chocolatey flavor with subtle hints of cinnamon and chile, and even the uncooked dough is addictive.  So what are you waiting for — a snow day?  Go make cookies, because frankly, it doesn’t feel like a holiday until you’re covered with powdered sugar and coming down from a serious sugar high.

I’m trying out a new recipe format. If you hate it, tell me!

Mexican Chocolate Cookies and Lemony Gingersnaps

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Filed under baking, chili, chocolate, cinnamon, cookies, ginger, holiday, lemon