Archive for Cooking

Jacques Pepin Meets Solai ~ Braised Baby Potatoes and Green Jackfruit in Coconut

garlic

home grown garlic ~ the first time!

We dug some early potatoes last week and they’ve been drying out/curing on a rack in the back room with the garlic dug in July. Today I brought everything outside — trimmed the stems and roots of garlic, brushed the remaining dirt from the potatoes, and sorted through it all in preparation for storage.

trimmed garlic

nice and neat and ready to eat!

The smallest potatoes were starting to turn a bit soft so I brought those inside, scrubbed ’em up, and thought of Jacques Pepin’s braised-and-browned-in-butter baby potatoes. One incarnation of that classic, delicious recipe lives here.

I had no chicken broth on hand, but I did have this wonderful emergency coconut milk in the fridge. I also had a can of green jackfruit. Immediately I thought of Solai’s amazing palakkai pirattal recipe, to which I always add more potato than called for… ring ring… hello? Fusion calling! This one is rich with butter, but soooo tasty.

Baby Potatoes and Green Jackfruit Braised in Coconut

1 can green jackfruit, rinsed to remove acidic taste, cut in small pieces

3-4 cups baby potatoes, washed well (cut larger ones in half)

3 TB butter

1 tsp fennel seed

1/2 tsp cumin seed

1/2 tsp mustard seed

small piece cinnamon

2-3 black cardamom

1/2 tsp red chili pwd

1/2 tsp turmeric

3-5 cloves garlic, chopped

So Delicious-type coconut milk to cover halfway (about 1 cup)

Salt and pepper to taste

~~~~~~~~~~~

baby potatoes and jackfruit

baby potatoes and green jackfruit waiting for a bath in spiced butter

Over med-high heat, melt the butter in a wide pan and add the whole spices, red chili and turmeric pwds, and fresh garlic. Saute a few moments, then add cut jackfruit. Stir to coat with the masala, then add baby potatoes and stir again to coat. Let it sizzle on medium-high heat 5-6 minutes, stirring to prevent burning.

coat with spiced butter

bathing in spiced butter

Now add coconut milk to cover the veggies about halfway, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer.

add the coconut milk

swimming in flavor!

Once simmering, prick the potatoes with a fork, lower the heat to med-low, cover, and cook about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. By now the potatoes should be tender — uncover and lightly press on each potato to crack it. Leave the cover off and cook an additional 5-10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Switch off the heat and serve hot with rice or bread — alternatively, allow to cool completely and eat the next day (even better!).

yummy baby potatoes and green jackfruit in spiced butter

it’s ready!

After a few warm days the garden is really starting to produce…

kentucky blue pole beans and tomatoes

kentucky blue pole beans ~ about 4 qts! with marianna’s peace and lemon boy tomatoes

korean squash blossom

korean squash blossom

korean squash

and the korean squash ~ variety pum ae

lebanese zucchini

lebanese zucchini are catching up

kai lan or gai lan - chinese broccoli

for autumn ~ kai lan or gai lan ~ chinese broccoli ~ quick growing radish interspersed

moolie-cat-in-a-basket

moolie-cat-in-a-basket

Happy Sunday!

Leave a Comment

Kohlrabi Sambhar — Take Three

coneflowers

coneflowers in the perennial bed

I always get a kick out of revisiting old posts – especially when I’ve been away from the blog awhile. Such have been my recent evenings, lazily going back in time and rediscovering lots of fun and food. It’s quite relaxing until it makes me hungry and I find myself rummaging in the kitchen — in search of something quick to whip up to quell that late-night craving!

We’re finally beginning to pick a few things from the garden — most everything is a month behind this year due to a chilly spring. Tonight I snapped up the three kohlrabi plants that had actually formed a bulb — most were stolen by slugs until I learned the cornmeal trick, but that’s for another day. I salvaged a few nice looking leaves and peeled the baby bulbs, thinking I’d cook them with the greens for something simple at work tomorrow. If you’ve never tried them, the aroma of fresh kohlrabi greens simmering is one of the greatest culinary delights! I learned this long ago from Anita, and I have made her delicious monjji haakย countless times since.

This concoction was merrily bubbling away tonight when suddenly I wanted more. I wanted sambhar. I remembered its two previous incarnations here and here, but I wasn’t so ambitious. Then I remembered the sweet and sour khichiri I made last week when G had an upset stomach. Oh, such a happy revelation for my lazy self! All I had to do was toss that into the simmering pot, add the cubed kohlrabi, some sambhar powder and just a splash of tamarind water and voila! Instant, if somewhat uninspired, kohlrabi sambhar, my very favorite, appeared before my eyes, complete with built-in rice ๐Ÿ™‚

instant kohlrabi sambhar

instant kohlrabi sambhar

garlic and baby kohlrabi

baby kohlrabi on the right, on the left is garlic!

baby kohlrabi

the baby kohlrabi forming a bulb

Happy Monday!

Leave a Comment

Saturday in the Garden

 

summer squash and garlic chives

summer squashย  “early prolific straight-neck” and garlic chives

The gardens in the north woods of Michigan are something of a challenge — you never know what will grow well. One year the tomatoes are awesome, the next it might be the peppers. I can’t complain about any of it, but it’s always a surprise. This year, the tomatoes all seem to have some disease so I can only hope for a few ripe ones before the vines die. The surprise has been the cucurbits — the squash and cucumbers in particular. My little Pickle-bush cucumbers have been going strong since June, and now the summer squash and Korean squash are growing beyond my wildest expectations! I’ve already had a mess of summer squash and the Korean squash are ready to pick.

summer squash blossoms

a mass of summer squash blossoms!

korean squash

korean squash climbing the trellis

korean squash ready to pick

korean squash ready to pick

Tonight’s supper included baby beets and their greens, summer squash and fresh lake trout, lightly smoked on the grill with coriander, pepper, and garlic sprinkled atop. Delish!

beets, pickling cukes, summer squash twins and green beans

today’s harvest included baby beets and greens, summer squash twins, pickling cucumbers and some lovely pole beans called ‘kentucky blue’

lightly smoked lake trout with baby white beets 'n greens, fresh summer squash

 

dinner (mostly) from the garden!

 

Comments (2)

Happy Gardening from the North Woods!!

potted herbs 72217.JPG

potted herbs in the north woods – basil, thai basil, cilantro, and dill

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

fresh dhania from the garden

Hooray for summer weather!

I am in arrears again — posting arrears! Do you even remember me, friends? I remember you all! ๐Ÿ™‚

School had barely ended last August when the busy autumn appeared and I was consumed with job-hunting and visiting back to my kids and my folks in Massachusetts. The visiting was a huge success.

Home again to Michigan, dear G and I settled in for the end of winter here in the North Woods. January and February were quite mild , but it turned out to be a long, chilly March into spring. Over the winter months we organized the garden seeds, and did some indoor planting with the new grow-shelf! This has turned out to be a perfect set up, and not expensive at all.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

lots of little tomato and eggplant seedlings under the grow-lights!

This year we are trying some dwarf tomatoes. The Dwarf Tomato Project strives to combine heirloom tomato size and flavor with smaller plants for smaller spaces. I am excited and have high hopes for fabulous tomatoes with less disease/trouble! You can check it out here:

Craig LeHoullier’s Dwarf Tomato Project site

Spring finally did arrive and with it a new job for me. I was lucky enough to land a job as a legal assistant for a local attorney — just what I hoped for! It’s a total career change and I have so much to learn — thankfully my new boss is patient and a great teacher. That said, I barely cook on the weeknights now — all this using one’s brain at work is tiring! ๐Ÿ˜‰ That means weekends are made for cooking and gardening. Although I don’t grow cauliflower, I love the huge $3 heads that appear this time of year — one could make meals for a week! Tonight I chopped one in half and came up with this mixed bag from a variety of sources — mostly Chef Harpal Singh and Manjula’s Kitchen ๐Ÿ™‚ I also cheated with a can of Progresso Vegetable Soup — that stood in for tomatoes as I had none. Do you guys ever watch cooking videos? I love them! Anyway, here’s my takeaway from those and thanks to the chefs! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Spicy Cauliflower Yogurt Masala Gravy

For the base:

2 tsp canola oil or ghee

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 tsp ginger-garlic paste

1 medium onion, sliced thinly

2 tomatoes, chopped (or cheat, like me, with a can of soup!)

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp red chili pwd

2 tsp dhania-jeera pwd

1 tsp amchur pwd

1/2 tsp garam masala pwd

1/2 large head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 4 cups)

For masala yogurt gravy:

2 TB oil or ghee

1 tsp kalonji seeds

2 TB besan

1 tsp garam masala pwd

1 tsp kashmiri chili pwd (optional)

1 c yogurt, beaten smooth

salt to taste

fresh cilantro to taste

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Make the base:

Heat oil or ghee over med-high and add cumin, fennel, and mustard seeds. Let them sizzle and add ginger garlic paste, stir a few seconds, then add onion. Lower the heat and cook 10 minutes, stirring, until onion is golden. Add the tomatoes (or soup) and the turmeric, red chili, amchur, dhania-jeera, and garam masala powders, along with a good pinch of salt. Mix well, reduce heat to med-low and cover. Let this simmer for 10-15 minutes until tomatoes are cooked or soup has thickened. Use an immersion blender to mix this all to a smooth gravy. Add cauliflower florets and 1/2 cup water. Mix well, cover, and cook over med-low until cauliflower is done to your liking – about 10-15 minutes for tender.

Make the masala yogurt gravy:

Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat the oil or ghee over medium heat. Add kalonji, let them sizzle, then add besan and cook, stirring well, for 4-5 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Add garam masala and optional kashmiri chili pwd – mix well. Off the heat, add the beaten yogurt and mix to combine. Add this to the cauliflower base mixture and stir well. Cover and cook on low for a further 5-10 minutes. Taste for salt, add fresh chopped cilantro and it’s done!

cauliflower masala.JPG

Perfect for rice as it makes lots of rich, spicy gravy — this one is a keeper.

I miss my blog hopping and all of my dear friends, so hope to spend some time doing that over the remainder of the summer — it will be fun to see who is still around!

~~~~~~~~

I’ll leave you with some pics of the little gardens in the north woods ๐Ÿ™‚

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

African queen potato-leaf var.ย  – baby tomatoes

bee bath 72217.jpg

bee bath full of petoskey stones from lake michigan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

black krim tomatoes from seed – in the front herb garden with horseradish, my nana’s rhubarb, and a few weeds ๐Ÿ˜‰

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

korean squash growing up the trellis — corn behind

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

dear g built a two-step deck for the tomatoes!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

orient charm, orient express, and thai long green eggplants – they love to live in pots on the tomato deck

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

giant mariachi pepper plant – a fresno type – hope they will ripen to red!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

lemur in bee balm ๐Ÿ™‚

Comments (4)

School’s Out!

harvest 8.18.16
the harvest basket ~ one evening last week

In the past few days since school ended, I’ve had time to look back at my poor neglected blog — never did I dream that over a year has gone by since I posted *anything*! Well dear friends, school is out, not only for the summer this time but for GOOD. I completed the requirements for my bachelor’s as of August 9. I’ll have to wait a few more weeks for the official conferral of my degree, but I’ve finished! This is the realization of a lifelong dream — and the exorcism of my only regret — not finishing college when I was “college-aged”. If you’re reading this and think it’s too late to go back to school — I hope you will think again. It’s *never* too late and I am proof positive. If I can do it, anyone can!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

finito!
4.0!
a wee bit o’ bragging ๐Ÿ™‚

I couldn’t have done it alone, however. I’ve been fortunate to have the unending support and encouragement of my fabulous kids, friends, colleagues, and of course — dear Gary. DGย endured endless evenings alone while I studied — he took care of the house and the garden and the cats — all while acting as proofreader for each and every paper I wrote — quite ably, I might add.

I am forever grateful.

The big and little gardens in the North Woods are flourishing. It’s been a hot summer and many days we need to water twice. We have been blessed with loads of tomatoes (ripening early!); peppers hot and sweet; corn; squash (winter and summer) and cukes; chard; beets and carrots; lettuce growing in the shade; papdi beans and pole beans flowering; mini-melons and asian eggplant galore; herbs, too! Although it’s only the end of August, the kitchen is overflowing with good things to eat and preserve. My *other* dream of vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes is coming true this year — although a few have to be taken inside early as the birds are going nuts over them! ๐Ÿ˜‰

heirloom tomato salad
the first tomato salad of the season — a celebration!

How does your garden grow? I can’t wait to hear ๐Ÿ™‚

juvenile rose breasted grosbeak

juvenile rose breasted grosbeak with berry

juvenile rose breasted grosbeak enjoying the viburnum crop!

Comments (8)

Ringing in the Season with Curry Leaves Galore

tiny christmas tree
our tiny tabletop tree ~ complete with clementines and christmas candy

When I moved to northern Michigan, I knew I would miss the proximity to the Indian and other Asian grocery stores that I loved so much. Now, nearly two years later, I have learned to handle this minor inconvenience. I shopped around town and discovered ghee and a few other staples at Meijer’s supermarket — who knew? Meijer’s even boasts an expanded produce section — think bottle gourd and small brinjals and greens of every description — once I even found fresh methi there and I nearly cried!! I found a Latin American store which sells rice and tapioca flours, dried chiles and cumin, and many great veggies such as chiles, cilantro and limes which are cheaper and fresher than the supermarket variety. I grew my own Korean radishes in the garden for making kimchi. The one thing that eluded me was curry leaves.

Then I happily stumbled upon NJ’s Grocery in the tiny village of Lake Leelanau, on the beautiful Leelanau Peninsula. NJ’s is a sweet little hometown grocery store, offering the usual everyday groceries, produce, its own small meat counter and deli, and… homemade Indian cuisine!? How lucky could I be? Just a half hour’s scenic drive up West Bay from work there was a tiny Little India awaiting me, complete with a few dals and spices on the shelves. One look at the dishes on offer and I knew someone must have access to … ahem … the elusive curry leaves. Of course I am not shy, so I asked ๐Ÿ™‚

Rosie, the kind lady in the kitchen, was good enough to sell me some of her stock of lovely curry leaves — albeit frozen — which I otherwise would have no hope of obtaining. This is what I have been using in sambhar and other dishes since I arrived in the north woods. Then I traveled back to Boston for Thanksgiving last month. I ventured out with little m on a shopping extravaganza. From Patel’s in Waltham I scooped up bags of Haldiram’s cornflakes mixture (dear G’s fav!), some of my fav Gujarati fafda, a few harder-to-find spices, and about 10 packages of dreamy looking fresher-than-fresh greener-than-green curry leaves to carry home with me.

fresh curry leaves podi
precious cargo ~ fresh curry leaves and the tasty podi they made!

Back in the north woods, I immediately cooked up several sambhars and curries absolutely loaded with my fragrant find.

chicken curry with curry leaves galore!
chicken curry with curry leaves galore!

I froze a couple of packages, but I can *get* them frozen now. I searched and searched for the perfect way to preserve my bounty. Finally I decided on this tasty-looking recipe from Sangeetha of Spicy Treats. I made it tonight and it is absolutely divine! I followed Sangeetha’s recipe with few changes — I increased the garlic, reduced the red chilies, and forgot the jeera! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Nevertheless, I was so happy with the way the toasted curry leaves ground to a fine powder with the fragrant dals and hing… the first time I have made a podi that came out so soft and … well … powdery! Thanks for the great recipe, Sangeetha ๐Ÿ™‚

curry leaves podi with rice and ghee
the fresh curry leaves podi with rice and ghee… mmmm

Of course, I saved a couple (ok, a few) packets of curry leaves from the deep-freeze because… I now am sufficiently encouraged to try my hand at ISG’s famous sambhar powder!

rice with curry leaves podi and ginger-lime rasam
the yummy curry leaves rice with ginger-lime rasam from Anushruti’s Divine Taste ~ another delicious recipe!

pinks and gibby
pinks and gibby are sleeping by the fire ~ all is cozy in the north woods

Comments (2)

Pumpkin Sambhar ~ Literally!

During my short break from classes, I am having a blast just going to work and coming home — sometimes even having a day off like today. I was poking around for something to do with a leftover ‘pie pumpkin’ from the fall. After Halloween, a local farm stand had these for fifty cents apiece and I couldn’t resist — I bought three. Two went out to the deer.

two fawns
two fawns at the bird feeder in broad daylight ~ that’s how cold it is and how hungry they are

With the last pumpkin, I thought I might make this pumpkin soup in a pumpkin.

As usual when I have time on my hands (a rare occurrence these days!), my mind started turning after reading the recipe. I decided it would be far more fun to make sambhar. OK, I know, when is it NOT more fun to make sambhar? Never! But this sambhar is baked in the pumpkin.

I made a regular onion sambhar with some carrot as well. I added fennel seeds and fresh garlic to the usual tadka, and a pinch each of ginger powder and nutmeg powder with the sambhar powder. A little extra tamarind water offset the sweetness of pumpkin. I made the sambhar on the stovetop, but did not cook the veggies all the way. I hollowed out the pumpkin, rubbed it with oil outside, and filled it with the half-done sambhar. Baked in a 350F oven for about two hours, the sambhar came out delicious. The fringe benefit was the pumpkin bowl — its softened insides bathed in all the spices and just waiting to be scraped out into the sambhar. A little bit of trouble but well worth it!

pumpkin and onions
hollowed out pumpkin with unusually small regular yellow onions ~ I treated them as sambhar onions and they worked perfectly

sambhar ~ ready to bake in a pumpkin
all ready to bake ~ I covered the pumpkin with its natural lid for the first hour ~ then removed the lid and baked an hour longer

voila ~ sambhar in a pumpkin!
voila! sambhar in a pumpkin bowl ~ perfect comfort food for the cold weather

Comments (9)

Older Posts »
%d bloggers like this: