Making Paneer and Aloo Gobi

September 24, 2015

Vegetarian dinner: basmati rice with aloo gobi and paneer in sauce

Vegetarian dinner: basmati rice with aloo gobi and paneer in sauce

My friend Carol hosted another cooking lesson at her house.  Once again she invited our colleague, Jarnail, to demonstrate how he makes more of his Indian dishes.  This time he made paneer (homemade cheese)  and aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower).  Jarnail served the paneer in the same sauce he uses to make Butter Chicken, and he also whipped up some basmati rice.  (You can find the latter two recipes in an earlier blog post at this link.)

Straining the curdled milk in a cotton cloth

Straining the curdled milk in a cotton cloth

Paneer

1 gallon whole milk
1/2 c white vinegar

Bring milk to a rolling boil (taking care not to let it boil over) and then add vinegar.  Let the milk sit on low heat for about 10 minutes.  It should look very curdled and separated into clumps. Then strain through a cotton dish towel, squeezing out as much liquid as possible.  Using your hands,  press the paneer — still inside the towel — into a ball.  Tie the towel off, and press the paneer under a heavy weight for about 2 hours.  (We set a plate on the ball of paneer and weighed it down with a large heavy pot of water.)

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While the paneer is draining, prepare the sauce.

In a large pot, heat a bit less than 1/4 c oil and 1/2 Tbsp cumin seeds until sizzling.  Then add:
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
2/3 c water (from rinsing the can)
1 pint whipping cream (not heavy)
About 1 Tbsp salt (more or less to taste)
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp ground ginger

Heat to simmering.

Finished paneer

Finished paneer

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When the paneer has finished draining (Jarnail did not have time to let it drain for two hours, so he pressed it  — really hard — to remove all liquid), cut it up and add the pieces to the sauce.  Cook another 10 minutes or so.  Serve over rice.

Aloo Gobi

4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped (not too fine, chunks are okay)
1 medium cauliflower, cut into pieces
1/4 c oil
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
2 Tbsp turmeric
1 medium onion, diced
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 Tbsp salt (more or less to taste)
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp garam masala

In a large pan, heat oil and add cumin seeds.  Heat to sizzling.  Drop in potatoes, onions, and 1 Tbsp turmeric, cover and continue to cook on medium for about 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Add tomato sauce.  Cover, and stirring occasionally, cook on medium high heat until the potatoes are about half done.

Add cauliflower, another Tbsp turmeric, the salt, garlic, ginger, and garam masala.  Add just enough water to steam (or add a tad more tomato sauce and water, mixed) and prevent sticking.  Cover and cook on medium heat until cauliflower is tender, about 7 – 10 minutes.

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Enjoy!

Carol's table

Carol’s table

 

 

 

Homemade Granola

September 6, 2015

Homemade Coconut and Almond Granola

Homemade Coconut and Almond Granola

I am not much of a cereal eater, as I usually prefer protein for breakfast.  But I like having granola on hand to sprinkle over fruit and yogurt.  I found this recipe in Rosie Birkett’s A Lot on Her Plate.  I like it because it does not have too much sugar in it.

Coconut and Almond Granola
from A Lot on Her Plate

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Toss together:

12 oz. (3-1/2 c) organic jumbo oats
1 tsp chia seeds
3 oz. pumpkin seeds
1/2 oz. sunflower seeds (I used more)
5 oz. (1-2/3 c) flaked almonds
2 oz. (1/2 c) desiccated coconut
1-1/2 tsp mixed ground spices such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg

Melt 4 Tbsp coconut oil and add 4 Tbsp maple syrup.  (I used honey.)  Pour over dry ingredients and mix until coated.  Spread out on baking pan.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Cool for a few minutes.

Add 2 oz. (1/2 c) sultanas.  (I forgot this ingredient and did not miss it.)

Cool completely before storing.

Enjoy!

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Love Informed Shrimp Barka

August 20, 2015

I’ve been doing a lot of reading this summer, and among the good books was Elizabeth Alexander’s The Light of the World: A Memoir.

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Alexander writes about the unexpected death of Ficre Ghebreyesus, husband, father, painter, and chef.  (One of his paintings is the cover of the book.)  This is a touching memoir about love, marriage, and widowhood.  She says, “The story seems to begin with catastrophe but in fact begins earlier and is not a tragedy but rather a love story.  Perhaps tragedies are only tragedies in the presence of love, which confers meaning to loss.  Loss is not felt in the absence of love.”

Shrimp Barka

Shrimp Barka

Ghebreyesus was a chef, and Alexander includes a few favorite recipes in the book.  The one for Shrimp Barka caught my eye, as it seemed a savory way to use up some of summer’s tomatoes and basil.  The dates in the stew gave a sweet undertone to this dish (I don’t know if that is an East African influence), and I found it quite tasty.

Tomatoes for Shrimp Barka

Tomatoes for Shrimp Barka

Fresh basil

Fresh basil

I used sweet onions rather than red onions because that is what I had on hand.

I used sweet onions rather than red onions because that is what I had on hand.

Chopped dates

Chopped dates

Shrimp Barka
from Elizabeth Alexander’s The Light of the World

(serves 4)

4 Tbsp olive oil
3 medium red onions, thinly sliced
4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
5 very ripe and juicy tomatoes, chopped coarsely
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c finely chopped fresh basil
15 pitted dates, (1/2 c) cut crosswise in thirds
3 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 c half-and-half
1 pound medium shrimp (16 – 20) shelled and deveined
2/3 c Parmesan cheese
2-1/2 c cooked basmati rice

Cooking Shrimp Barka

Cooking Shrimp Barka

In a large, heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions, and saute until wilted, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic, and continue sauteing, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, for 2 minutes longer.  Stir in tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add basil, dates, and coconut and reduce heat to medium low.  Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 5 more minutes.  Add the half-and-half, cover, and cook for 3 minutes.

Add shrimp to sauce.  Cook, covered, until shrimp turns pink, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the cheese, and then the rice and serve immediately.  (I served the shrimp stew over the rice rather than mix together.)

Enjoy!

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Butter chicken with basmati rice

Butter chicken with basmati rice

My friend Carol gathered several friends for a cooking demonstration at her house.  One of our colleagues, Jarnail, showed us how he makes his signature dish — butter chicken over basmati rice.  We  could tell he has made this dish thousands of times from his ease in assembling the ingredients.  From start to finish, it took Jarnail less than an hour to put lunch on the table.  And wow, it was incredibly good!

Other than a few special spices, Jarnail’s butter chicken and basmati rice uses ingredients that I commonly have stocked at home.  Now that I know how to make it, I hope to adopt this as my standby dish when we have company.

Ingredients

3 – 4 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 small container (6 – 8 0z) plain yogurt (I think Jarnail would have used a bit more if we had it on hand; he made do with one container)
5 Tbsp garam masala, divided
2 Tbsp ground ginger, divided
2 Tbsp garlic powder, divided
4 Tbsp cumin seeds, divided
3 Tbsp dried methi flakes
about 3/4 c oil (canola, corn, or other oil on hand)
juice of one lemon
yellow food coloring
3 cans (15 oz) tomato sauce
1-1/2 pt whipping cream (not heavy)
1 small onion or shallot
2 c mixed frozen vegetables
2 c basmati rice
4 c water
salt and pepper to taste

Cutting the chicken into chunks

Cutting the chicken into chunks

Mixing the yogurt-based marinade

Mixing the yogurt-based marinade

Mixing the Yogurt-based Marinade
(Jarnail said you could marinade the chicken overnight, 2 hours, or even less.  Since he whipped up this dish over his lunch hour, he allowed the chicken to marinade only long enough to preheat the oven.)

In a large bowl, mix together:
yogurt
2 Tbsp garam masala
2 – 3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1/4 c oil
about 20 drops of yellow food coloring
generous application of salt and pepper

Toss the chicken chunks in the marinade and allow to sit.  Preheat oven to 450-degrees F.  When oven is hot, pour the chicken out in a single layer on an edged baking sheet lined with foil.  Bake about 15 – 20 minutes until the chicken is about half done.

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In the meantime, start the rice and the butter sauce.

Basmati Rice

In a large pan on the stove top, heat 1/4 c oil.  Then add and saute:
2 Tbsp cumin seeds
sliced onion or shallots

Once everything is sizzling, add 2 c mixed vegetables.  Then add 4 c water.  Rinse 2 c rice and then add to pan.  Salt to taste.

Bring to a boil.  Cook at medium heat, uncovered, until about half the water is absorbed, stirring occasionally.  Then cover and cook at low heat until all the water is absorbed.

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Butter Chicken Sauce

In a large pot on the stove top, heat 1/4 c oil.  Add 2 Tbsp cumin seeds and allow to heat until sizzling.  Then add:

3 cans tomato sauce
1-1/2 pints whipping cream (Rinse containers of tomato sauce and cream with a small amount of water and add water to the pot.)
3 Tbsp garam masala
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp dried methi flakes (rub between palms before dropping into pot)
salt and pepper to taste

Bring to a boil and keep very hot (simmering), covered, until chicken is half done in the oven.  Add chicken to sauce and cook another 7 – 10 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Serve over rice.  Serves 6 generously.

Adding half-cokked chicken to butter sauce

Adding half-cooked chicken to butter sauce

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Roasted Rhubarb

June 4, 2015

Oven-roasted rhubarb

Oven-roasted rhubarb

I don’t know why it has never occurred to me to make roasted rhubarb instead of sauce on the stove top.  I like the richer flavors of other oven-roasted vegetables, like potatoes, yams, squash, kale, etc.  So after seeing this method acclaimed in Brown Eggs and Jam Jars: Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites by Aimee Wimbush-Bourque, I decided to give roasting a try.

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I am now a rhubarb roasting convert.  Roasting is super simple — just add a light dusting of sugar to the rhubarb diced in a bowl, pour the bits in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake in a 325-degree oven until soft.

Making rhubarb sauce on the stove top takes a bit more attention.  I always added a little water to get the sauce started, which diluted the flavor just a tad and made the sauce a bit more watery.  And I had to be on hand to stir it as it cooked.  Roasting in the oven is easier and releases just enough juice to make a nice sauce.

Rhubarb sauce over cheese cake

Rhubarb sauce over cheese cake

If you love rhubarb, give roasting a try.

 

 

Rescuing cake by making biscotti

Rescuing cake by making biscotti

I tried making another Rhubarb Polenta Cake using regular flour instead of the pricey almond flour.  Not a good idea.  The resulting cake was way too dense.  Thank goodness I had experimented using only half a recipe.  My husband and I ate our first slices when the cake was still warm — tasty, but heavy.  I am too frugal to throw away my baking duds, but I was not looking forward to eating the rest of this cake.

This morning when I sliced a thin sliver to eat with my breakfast coffee, I had the bright idea to keep slicing and make the rest of this baking mini-disaster into twice baked cookies — biscotti.  I heated the oven to 275 degrees F and popped the slices into the over for about 15 minutes.

This was an inspired solution to my problem.

We’ve all heard that when life serves you lemons, make lemonade.  Now I know that when cakes fail, turn them into biscotti.  Delicious!

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Rhubarb Polenta Cake

April 30, 2015

Rhubarb Polenta Cake

Rhubarb Polenta Cake

I am always on the lookout for good rhubarb recipes, and I found this one in the March/April 2015 issue of Edible Seattle magazine.  It is “an adaptation of a traditional Italian torta di polenta.”  It calls for almond flour, which I discovered is a splurge at the grocery store.  I discovered too late that I did not have an orange to juice or zest, so I substituted lemon, which worked just fine I thought.  This is a very tasty cake.

Rhubarb from my garden

Rhubarb from my garden

About an hour before you want to make the cake, put 2 cups of chopped rhubarb in a small bowl and sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Let this rest until the sugar dissolves.

Rhubarb sprinkled with sugar

Rhubarb sprinkled with sugar

Rhubarb Polenta Cake from Edible Seattle

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 c almond flour
3 extra-large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
juice of half an orange
zest of two oranges
1/2 c plus 1 Tbsp polenta or grits
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
Approximately 2 Tbsp sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9-inch cake pan. (Use parchment paper and/or a springform pan to make it easier to remove the cake.

Beat the softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the almond flour, and then beat in the eggs, one at a time.  With a large spoon, fold in the vanilla, orange juice and zest.  Add polenta, baking powder, cardamom and salt, still folding gently.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.  Drain the rhubarb and press into the batter.  Scatter the almonds over the top.  Bake 50 – 60 minutes until done.  Remove from oven and let sit 5 – 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Rhubarb and almond studded batter

Rhubarb and almond studded batter

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

 

 

“In the extended family of vegetables, rhubarb is the eccentric aunt with sunglasses and a large beach hat.”
— Eve O. Schaub, No Sugar

My sister-in-law's strawberry rhubarb pie.  (Thanks, Cynthia.)

My sister-in-law’s strawberry rhubarb pie. (Thanks, Cynthia.)

” . . . every year we look forward to the first rhubarb pie of the season the way others look for the first robin sighting or the first blooming lilacs.  It tells us that spring really has come at last.”
— Eve O. Schaub, No Sugar

My first rhubarb picking of the year

My first rhubarb picking of the year

Freshly picked rhubarb from my garden

Freshly picked rhubarb from my garden

 

 

 

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

April 16, 2015

Soaking black-eyed peas overnight

Soaking black-eyed peas overnight

My sister-in-law gave me this recipe for Spicy Black-Eyed Pea Salad.  I had never before cooked with tomatillos, and I rarely buy jalapenos, so my trip to the grocery store was more adventurous than normal as I hunted down the necessary ingredients.  It was worth it, though.  The salad is very good, and I will make it again.

Draining the black-eyed peas, getting ready to cook them

Draining the black-eyed peas, getting ready to cook them

Tomatillos

Tomatillos

Tomatillo with outer skin off

Tomatillo with outer skin off

 

Here is the recipe:

Spicy Black-Eyed Pea Salad

4 c rehydrated back-eyed peas, cooked until tender, drained and rinsed (or use two 15-oz. cans of black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed)
6 tomatillos, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 – 4 jalapenos, chopped (I used just one because my family is not fond of highly spiced food)
1/2 onion, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
large handful of cherry tomatoes
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/4 c cider vinegar
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 c cilantro leaves, chopped
black pepper to taste
powdered cumin to taste
dash tamari sauce (I skipped this)
juice of one fresh lime

Combine all ingredients, preferably a day ahead of time to allow the marinade to work.

I roasted some of the ingredients before tossing.

I roasted some of the ingredients before tossing.

Before tossing, I roasted, with a drizzle of olive oil, 2/3 of the green pepper, 4 of the tomatillos, the onion, the garlic, and half of the tomatoes. I was worried I would not like the taste of so much raw tomatillo, and the roasting worked very well.

Enjoy!

Black-eyed pea salad

Black-eyed pea salad

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