Sunday, February 15, 2015

Curry Powder Part 1

Since I have so many different curry powders, I thought I would start there. Did you know that curry powder is a British invention? When the English took over India, they loved the spiced dishes but wanted a spice mix to approximate these dishes. When a true Indian curry uses separate spices to make the whole dish. Tikka Masala isn't even a true Indian dish - it's English. Anyway....I have curry powder to be used. All I know is that it is labeled 'hot'. 

Looking though my recipes, I found a chicken curry in the crock pot. 

This is a little different than the curries I think about - no coconut. The mix is curry powder, garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper. Also should have fresh ginger but I was out, so I added a touch of ground. I also have some nice scallions that I added. Everyone into the pot for 8 hours. 

Turns out very tender, of course, and easily shredable. Add some rice (flavored with a rice spice) and pickled red onion. 

Another use I have found for curry powder is roasted chickpeas. These I cooked from dry but you can use canned that are well rinsed. Toss in oil and put into a 400 degree oven for 30-40 min. Then toss in the powder. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The 2015 Spice Challenge

Starting to unearth a work space in my new kitchen after moving so I am now starting on my 6 month adventure to use all my weird spices. First up, something easy - salad dressing

Yes, unfortunately I am sitting at my desk at work... Tells you how busy I have been lately. 

This dressing is my standard one - roasted garlic, red wine vinegar (homemade, will discuss in a future post), olive oil, mustard. It all goes in the Magic Bullet with the whipping blade. My ratio of oil to vinegar is on the tart side, so I usually have more vinegar than oil. I added Turkish salad dressing seasoning to taste - it ended up being a teaspoon for about 4 large salad's with of dressing. I actually have 2 different seasonings, so will have to make more dressing and compare. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

New Year, New Place

It's been a while since my last post. My computer was on the fritz then we got into the holidays and well, I just got out of the habit of blogging. I was doing pretty good there for a while, hoping to get to it most weeks this year (a continuation of my resolution for last year). One of the things that has been keeping me busy of late is that my landlord informed me right after the first of the year that she's giving up the house. Lots of drama there and frankly I'm glad to be out of the place soon - the smoking, the wonky washer, the running toilet! I think I will be MUCH happier in the new place. Here are some pictures!

Look at all that counter space!!

Much more open concept and the dreaded desk (which is currently in the hallway of my old place) will fit! Success!

One thing I have learned about myself is that apparently, I am a spice hoarder. You will see below that I have three (count, them 3!!) reusable grocery bags of spices. Now to be fair, the blue bag has 2 bins of bags of spices, so that's not too much and the insulated bag has my box of herbs/spices for bitters. So I guess it isn't really that much (the rationalization of a true hoarder)...

After packing it all up, I vowed that I was going to go through it all. There has to be duplicates, right?

As it turns out, not really that many duplicates. Oye. As any good, OCD, pharmacist, I made a list of the weirder spices that I have and gave myself a deadline of using everything at least once in 6 months. If I don't, then it is getting thrown away. I'm sure some of it isn't even good anymore, I mean some of those spices are from when I lived in Tucson (which was almost 4 years ago). There is some sentimental attachment to most of these though - spices I brought back from Bali (anyone know what to do with black chilly?), lemongrass and galangal powder from the Indonesian Super Bowl party my mom, aunt Lora and I threw, Turkish salad seasoning and curries from when my mom went to Turkey, Indian curry from when she went to India, my friend Ravi's dad's special home mixed garam masala he brought back for an Indian dinner party, chile from Tucson, the list goes on an on.

I am so looking forward to breaking in my new kitchen using all of these spices! Will keep you all posted how it goes along the way.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

CSA Week 12

In the box:
Bok choy
Kabocha squash
Brussels sprouts
Spaghetti squash

Cabbage (2)
Hot peppers

Pasta alla Norma (America's Test Kitchen)
Roasted Brussels sprouts (repeat from Week 10)

Wasabi salmon. I had salmon burgers in the freezer and a deep desire to not go to the store on Friday, so salmon burgers it was. I also could not find shitaki mushrooms, so I used baby bellas. This was very good - the veggies were light and the wasabi mayo was a nice way to cut the richness of the salmon.

Here are a few dishes that don't have all that much color but the flavor....yum. This is a recipe I saw on Food Network, a warm lentil salad with roasted acorn squash. The dressing is somewhat like a green goddess - lots of fresh herbs in a vinegarette then add in yogurt, perfect. The recipe made a lot and I thought I would be sick of it but I've eaten it every day for lunch and am still happy for it.

Another not so colorful soup. This is smothered cabbage soup with rice. So simple and yet the flavor is rich and delicious. You add butter and cheese at the end, just perfect for a cold fall day.

Kielbasa, potato and cabbage soup. If you haven't guessed, I had a lot of cabbage to use up. The recipe called for lager beer but all I had was Guinness (yes, still from St Patty's), so I was a little concerned that it might not turn out that well, but I didn't have to worry. I did add in the whole bottle of beer (it called for room temp beer and only 1 cup, ummm no, that's all going into the pot). Also it called for 2cups of passata (a fresh tomato puree popular in English cooking) but the jar I had was 3 cups, so in it all went. In all, it was pretty quick and would make a pretty quick weeknight dinner.

Pasta alla Norma. A recipe from America's Test Kitchen. They do an interesting trick where they par cook the eggplant in the microwave. I think it worked pretty well (I usually don't mess with the ATK recipes, they test them 100s of times, why mess with all that work?). Although I didn't have anchovy so I used bacon fat....probably not the most direct comparison, but it was pretty tasty!

On the docket this week is finish the recipes out with the brussel sprouts and the kale/potato side dish. Will probably get to it Wednesday or so. I keeping the winter squash around for a few weeks - the box will be ending in about 7 weeks, so I think I can keep these around and use the veggies that will spoil faster first. 


The roasted Brussels sprouts with garlic aioli surfaces again. I am not ashamed to admit that this was my breakfast on Saturday :)

Masamba- African potatoes and greens (in this case, kale). It's amazing that you can make such a complex sauce with salsa and peanut butter. Really good. Of course, I couldn't resist putting fried eggs on top for breakfast this morning.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

CSA Week 10

Sorry for the late post. It's been pretty busy around my house since I just got back from my major test and a much needed vacation. Most of the recipes were for my veggie box friend's going away party. So for the next boxes I will be on my own. **tear**

Here's what's in the box this week:
Acorn squash
Butternut squash
Spaghetti squash
Brussels sprouts
Bell pepper

I used the butternut squash instead of the canned pumpkin. I first roasted it until it was tender. With the canned squash, it is pretty much like a dump cake - you dump all the ingredients into the pan and cook. Tastes just like an upside down pumpkin pie and super easy.

yum, yum, yum

These were a quick weekend breakfast. I took a page from America's Test Kitchen and precooked the potatoes in the microwave. I then put them in the hot pan and didn't disturb them (that's my biggest problem, I can't leave them alone!) Add some fried eggs and a delicious breakfast was had.

America's Test Kitchen zucchini bread...again. this really is the best recipe - they featured it on their radio show recently, so I think you can find the recipe on their website. 

I decided to pair the sweet bread with the salty whipped feta cheese dip. The mix was sooo delicious. This dip is really good - veggies and crackers alike are wonderful with this on it. 

Now I wish I had more zucchini - this was so good. Even at room temp, it was perfect. Not sure how it would be reheated, but I don't think we had that problem!

The roasted eggplant dip comes out again. This time I had a red pepper, so it's a different color than last time, just as good. 

The brussel sprout colcannon just sounded delicious. It was a recipe from Gourmet originally and you can tell - way too fussy. Peel the potatoes? Not happening. Whip the potatoes with a mixer? Not happening. Pipe the potato mixture into the brussel sprout leaves? Not happening. Even with all that taken out, it was still really good. I did add in some cheese - what is colcannon without cheese? It was a hit at the party.

This seemed like an interesting use for spaghetti squash and since I was doing all appetizers, it worked out well. I didn't make the pesto as in the recipe, but used my premade pesto. Yummy, but kinda hard to eat. 

Crispy brussel sprouts with garlic aioli. Yum! These were totally gone and that aioli is a keeper.  

Homemade Hot Sauce

Apparently I am turning into a fermento. That's a person that preserves food by the use of fermentation (think sauerkraut). Also, if I have an excess of something, like peppers, my first thought is to pickle them! My CSA has been overflowing with peppers and I'm not really someone that loves peppers in everything, so hot sauce seemed like something fun to try. I used a recipe from the Joy of Cooking, with a modification - I added an air lock to my jar so that I wouldn't have to stir the mash every day (mainly since I was going to be out of town) but also I didn't want to deal with mold.

The first thing you do is you weigh out your peppers to figure out what would be a 2% by weight salt brine.

Then you cut up the peppers and put in a jar. Add your salt and top with a sweet wine. As you can see, I added an air lock to my jar. I found this set up looking for recipes - it is a recap top, a #6 stopper with a drilled hole and then the air lock. The recap tops can be made to fit either wide mouth or regular mouth jars. Pretty nifty.

After about a month, the peppers look about the same - although my cool green heritage jar might not be helping with trying to see a difference.

I then put the peppers and brine in the blender and poured the mash through a strainer. I was thinking about saving the strained mash, but there are too many seeds.

Once the mash has been strained you measure what you have and add in half as vinegar. I used rice wine vinegar. In all, it's pretty liquidy, and hot, of course. More of a Tabasco-style sauce.

I got more peppers, so I'm going for a thicker sauce now. See you in a month, sauce. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

CSA Week 8

Here's what's in the box this week:
bell pepper
hot peppers

zucchini from work friend
pumpkin puree

Cheesy corn bake. Allison got to use her roux skills again this week with this dish. Yum yum yum.

Zucchini Buffalo chicken bites. I'm not sure what the zucchini really adds to this's in the breading, but overall the chicken was very tasty and buffalo-y. The breading had A LOT of components and then just gets covered with hot sauce....not that I am saying that's a bad thing! And for those of you that don't know what to do with the left over buttermilk that you always seem to have around, I use buttermilk powder for these type of things. I found mine on Amazon.

Zucchini Fries. I keep seeing these on Pinterest and so decided to give them a try. I just love zucchini...think this may be my last batch since the days are getting colder.  :(

Southwest Pizza. We took some liberties with this recipe. As you can tell from the grill marks, we decided to throw the dough on the grill. Since we were doing that, I mixed all the topping ingredients together so I could just spread them on the pizza. It was very tasty. I also made the avocado cream with yogurt instead. The dough was one of my no knead bread recipes, I used an olive oil whole wheat dough.

Spiced Pumpkin Syrup. I came across this recipe while going through my rss feed on Saturday morning. It was pretty chilly in the house and it sounded sooooo good. I had some squash puree in my freezer from last season and thought this would be a good use for it. I had 1 cup of squash so I doubled the recipe and added in the whole amount of squash (what would I do with that extra 1/2 cup anyway???). When doubling the syrup, I didn't double my sugar (maybe 1.5 rather than 2x), so in the end this wasn't too candy sweet as some syrups can be. This would be great over pancakes or french toast...or of course in your morning coffee.

Since I now have all this wonderful syrup, I decided to find a zucchini bread recipe that used maple syrup and just swapped them out. This happens to also have whole wheat flour...guess I'm making up for the sins of our casseroles from last week.

Roasted eggplant spread. This is when having a food processor really comes in handy. You roughly chop your veggies then roast them. Add them to your processor and whiz away. I don't usually have tahini in my house since I don't have much use for it other than hummus so I subbed almond butter instead. Yum! Great with tortilla chips, but would also be a great sandwich spread with something sweet like honey roasted ham...

Sausage and pepper pasta. I still had 2 bell peppers left over from last week so needed something to use them up. I like the idea of sausage and peppers but didn't want to make a sandwich, so trolled the internet for a reinvention of these flavors and found it in a casserole. Last week I grilled up some chicketta patties thinking I would put them in a pasta later on and thought they would be great in this dish. Chicketta is like porchetta only with chicken not pork. It's an Italian slow roasted dish with lots of herbs and fennel. These smell and taste a lot like sausage, so that's why I used it here. I get these at the Italian market down the street from my house, and I don't let myself go in there that often...they have real prosciutto there...deadly to my wallet!

Not pictured is the broccoli cheese potato soup, as I haven't made it yet. Will probably get to it tomorrow. I also have decided to make hot sauce with my hot peppers. I found a recipe that uses a similar approach to how Tabasco makes their hot sauce and it involves fermenting...I'm very excited!! Just waiting for the peppers that are turning red to fully turn, then I will be on my way to hot sauce!!

Extra weekend project:

I also decided to try making my own liquid soap from some bar soap I had laying around (and probably wouldn't use). I used this recipe. I came across it a while back on Pinterest. The above photo isn't totally accurate as I had to use 2 bars of cetaphil to get the 8 oz needed for the 1 gal of water. I had read that bars with extra moisturizing ended up being too liquidy so I added in an extra bar from Bath and Body Works for insurance. I don't think I let my soap completely dissolve the first time around since I still had some foam on top 12 hours later. I heated it up again and added more glycerin and gave it another go.

I now have a gallon of this stuff. It's still a bit more liquid than soap you buy but I think it would work great for what I want and I used stuff I probably wasn't going to! Score!!