Sunday, January 18, 2009

Weeknight Curry, etc.

As mentioned in my previous blog, Mark and I resolved to each cook through a cookbook this year. I didn't choose the most ambitious of books, but it's full of helpful techniques that will enable me to bring more improv into our kitchen.

Sweet Yams in Ginger-Stick Curry from How To Eat Supper

4 quarts salted water
2 large Garnet or Jewel yams (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick half-rounds.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
One 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into paper-thin matchsticks (Rachel Ray told me a long time a big hunk of ginger, bring it home, peel it, cut it into chunks, and put it in a ziplock in the freezer. Otherwise, it dries out and doesn't last very long. It even slices better in its semi-frozen state)
4 large garlic cloves, sliced paper thin
1 jalepeño, sliced very thin
2 whole scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
2 large shallots, sliced thin
Salt and Pepper
1/2 light-packed cup fresh basil leaves, course chopped (I was craving Thai basil, searched high and low for it, but even the huge World Market beside our house was out...regular basil was okay)
Juice of 1 lime
(I added a package of fresh snow peas to this mix)

1. Bring water to boil.
2. Once water is bubbling fiercely, drop in the yams and cook them at a hard bubble for 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain in a colander and turn into a serving dish. Set the pot back on the stove.
3. Generously film the pot with oil. Set it over medium-high heat and add the snow peas, ginger, garlic, jalepeño, scallions, shallots, and generous sprinklings of salt and pepper (I used the mandoline for all the veg). Saute for two minutes, stirring often. Then cover the pot tightly, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook for 5-8 minutes, or until the ginger has softened.

Do take note, Lynne says:
Cutting the ginger into paper-thin matchsticks may seem fussy, but there is method to what seems to be madness. That shape changes how you taste the ginger in this dish. Crushed or chopped ginger would taste different - an interesting thing to remember when you see very specific instructions like these in Chinese recipes. There's always a reason.
4. Stir in the basil and cook, uncovered, for no more than 30 seconds. Spoon curry over yams, and squeeze lime juice over the finished dish.

We served this atop Mark's project, Veganomicon's Easy Stir-Fried Leafy Greens

I started with the simplest recipe I could find, not because I wanted it to be simple, but because I wanted to make greens. I love greens! The book I chose was Veganomicon, from which we had made a few recipes already that all turned out well (please see Acorn Squash Empanadas with Chilantro "Sour Cream" and Chick Pea cutlets from previous posts).

The recipe is simple - 1 pound of greens, garlic and ginger, stir-fried, with some asian sauces. I used mirin and shoyu (in place of soy sauce. These are some of the great things we picked up during Wendy's readings of macrobiotic literature), and sesame oil. I thought it was going pretty well, but I decided to use the two pounds of collard greens we already had and doulbed the recipe. When the recipe had run its course it turns out the greens kind of sucked, not because of the recipe, but because collard greens are naturally bitter and much better at stewing in a pot with some form of pork belly for 2 hours.

So what could possibly dominate these failed greens into tasty submission?

Wendy interceded with a heavy hand, adding about a tablespoon of lemon juice and many many many squirts of Tabasco's smokey chipotle flavor - greens saved!

Wendy here...the greens didn't really suck, they were just blander than we're used to. I'm convinced that I've burned off most of my taste buds, so that's why I have to cover everything in sauces!

On another night this week, we made this quick, simple soup from Everyday Food

Soba Soup with Spinach
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 12 ounces shiitake mushrooms (stems removed), caps thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth (I used a carton of veg broth, but use what you have)
  • 1/2 package (4.4 ounces) soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles)
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf spinach, torn
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (again, we don't keep soy sauce, so I did a mix of mirin and shoyu)
  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add mushrooms, scallion whites, garlic, and ginger; season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender, 6 minutes.
  2. Add broth and 3 cups water; bring to a boil. Add soba; reduce to a simmer, and cook 5 minutes. Add spinach; cook just until tender, about 1 minute. Add lime juice and soy sauce. Serve topped with scallion greens.
It was a light, super quick, lovely meal. I, of course, added chili paste to my bowl. I can't help myself.

1 comment:

Bette said...

I just left a really long and involved comment about all the amazing recipes in that January Everyday Food, and about how Mark's greens look so damn yummy, and how I am glad ya'll are back at it, but, alas, none of that showed up, so I guess you'll never know how I feel.