28 March 2014

Chickpea coconut curry with kale, carrots, and peas

Chickpea coconut milk curry with kale, carrots, and peas

Who wants curry? I, of course, always want curry. Let's have curry!

So I explored the pantry and came up with a can of chickpeas and one of coconut milk. Perfect.

Chickpeas always benefit so much from a long, hot bath in something super-flavorful, which makes them a natural match with coconut milk. Then all you need to do is check out the crisper and see which vegetables to add. I found a bunch of kale, a couple carrots, and, hiding in the back of the freezer, a bag of peas. Chickpea coconut curry, here we come.

Normally when I season a coconut milk curry I go straight for the curry paste. This time, however, we were out, so I went for ultra-simple spicing and just used hot curry powder. Hey, it worked with the coconut milk chicken that has somehow become a huge hit on Pinterest! (Seriously, how? Those pictures are awful.) And it also worked here. Hooray!

Chickpea coconut milk curry with kale, carrots, and peas

Chickpea coconut curry with kale, carrots, and peas

peanut or other oil of choice
1 onion
1-inch knob of ginger
1 jalapeno or other hot pepper
2 small carrots or 1 large
1 can chickpeas
~1.5 cups frozen peas, defrosted
1 bunch kale
1 can coconut milk
salt, curry powder (or your choice of individual spices)
rice or your choice of grain to serve

Start by sauteing a chopped onion in your oil of choice in a wide saute pan. Mince your ginger and jalapeno; scrub and slice your carrots. Add all of these to the softened onion. Give the pan a pinch of salt, stir, and cook over medium for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Next, drain and rinse your can of chickpeas and add them to the pan. Shake your coconut milk well before opening it and adding it as well. Season with curry powder, stir everything together, and bring the pan to a gentle simmer. Let cook over medium-low for at least ten minutes, so the coconut milk begins to reduce and the chickpeas have a chance to absorb plenty of flavor.

While you're waiting, prep the rest of your vegetables. Defrost your peas by submerging them in warm water, letting them soak for a few minutes, and then draining them. Wash, destem, and chop your kale leaves.

When the coconut milk has reduced by about half, add all the rest of your vegetables to the pan. Adjust your seasonings and cook for about five more minutes, or until your kale has wilted and become completely tender and your coconut milk has become a thick sauce coating your curry. Taste, add a bit more salt if necessary, and you're ready to serve. Yay!

Chickpea coconut milk curry with kale, carrots, and peas

I had my curry over short grain brown rice, because that's how I roll, but practically any grain you like would be an excellent match here. Garnish is not really necessary with such an array of beautiful vegetables, although a little cilantro wouldn't hurt. But really, all you need to do is get it into a bowl and eat. Super simple.

CURRY. Such an excellent, hearty, and cheap dinner. And did you notice it was vegan as well? It's vegan. Yay!

What quick yet tasty dinners are you conjuring up out of the dark recesses of the pantry?

24 March 2014

Ravioli with super garlic butter greens

ravioli with garlic-sauteed chard and beet greens

It's spring! I don't know about you, but I want as many vegetables as I can possibly get my hands on. So I went to the farmer's market and came home with two bunches of kale, one of chard, a big bag of spinach, and a bunch of beets with beautiful tops. All the greens in the land!

And what's the best way to make greens the star of the show? Keep them simple and abundant. So I chopped up some chard, spinach and beet greens, sauteed them quickly with garlic, and finished them with butter and parsley.

It's almost ridiculously easy to make a mess of greens into a full meal. A poached or fried egg on top would be classic, as would a sliced and browned sausage or a slab of seared marinated tempeh. But I wanted pasta, so I decided I would mix my greens with a bag of local ravioli that I'd stashed in the freezer for just such an occasion. Such a perfect combination with a huge pile of garlicky, butter-drenched greens.

This is a particularly quick and easy way to stuff your face with all the freshest and best spring vegetables. It took about fifteen minutes for me to go from zero to lunch. Perfect.

ravioli with garlic-sauteed chard and beet greens

Ravioli with garlic-sauteed greens

frozen ravioli or other pasta
butter or olive oil
mixed spring greens (chard, beet, & spinach, or your choice of others)
salt, pepper, maybe a few red pepper flakes if you want them
fresh parsley

Start by putting a pot of water on to boil for your pasta. Let it heat while you start your veg, and cook your ravioli at an appropriate point in the proceedings. Obviously, although ravioli is great, you can also switch it out for any kind of pasta you like.

Smash and chop as many cloves of garlic as you like. I used five or six for about two servings of pasta, because that's how I roll.

Saute your garlic in butter or olive oil in a wide saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. While it's cooking, wash, trim, and chop up all your greens. Since I was using chard and beet greens, I cut off their stems and chopped them separately from the leaves. Use as many greens as you can possibly cram into your pan, because they will wilt and reduce in size dramatically. I probably used around four or five cups.

When your garlic has started to turn slightly golden, add your chopped stems to the pan, along with a pinch of salt. Turn the heat up slightly and saute for about five minutes, or until the stems have softened. Then add all your greens to the pan. You may need to do this in a couple batches, letting the first batch start to wilt before adding the second. Saute gently for about five more minutes, or until all your greens have wilted into a vivid green (and possibly also pink) mass.

By this point your pasta should be done, so drain it and add it to the greens. Season with salt and pepper and mix together gently. Then turn off the heat and add a pat of butter or a few drips of olive oil to the pan. Stir a few times to let the butter melt and distribute it evenly. Done!

ravioli with garlic-sauteed chard and beet greens

Serve your ravioli in massive piles and garnish them with fresh parsley and a grind or two of pepper. If you want to add any more garnishes, go for it. Parmesan cheese, chopped toasted almonds, or even some crispy golden breadcrumbs would work well here, but resist the urge to go too far. The freshness of the greens will make them shine pretty beautifully on their own.

Springiest lunch ever!

How are you eating all your spring greens?

20 March 2014

Other people's recipes

Whole mung beans

Fear not--we have been eating things other than pie occasionally.

First, an amazing mung bean dal! We've had a big bag of whole mung beans hanging out in the freezer for way too long. I knew we needed to do something with them, so I scanned the internet and came up with this Indian style mung dal from Lisa's Kitchen.

Mung bean dal

I added in a chunked Asian eggplant, and the results were PERFECT. They were excellent over a bowl of brown rice, reheated very well, and were stuffed full of flavor and vegetables along with the hearty beans--yes please. I made a double batch and we ate for days before stuffing the last few cups in the freezer for future emergency dinner application.

Needless to say, this will definitely be on the menu again.

Orange poppyseed yogurt cake

Once pi day was over, I needed cake for some reason. Why? I don't know, since I pick pie over cake 100% of the time, but still. So I went through the cupboards and emerged with the ingredients for Cookie & Kate's orange poppyseed yogurt cake, minus the olive oil. I've just never gotten into the olive oil flavor in cakes thing. But the rest of the cake is definitely an excellent plan!

A little grapeseed oil and a whole lot of orange zest later, I was pulling this beautiful loaf out of the oven. So good.

Orange poppyseed yogurt cake

This is exactly what I want out of a cake: a punch of barely-sweet citrus and wheat flavor featuring no frosting whatever. You can eat it for breakfast (with more yogurt on top) and it's no big deal, have a slice or two in the middle of the afternoon with a big mug of tea, or go for the classic dessert option. I did pretty much every single one of the above.

Whose recipes have you been cooking this week?

16 March 2014

Pi day 2014!


Pi day cafe au lait pie

This year, after being invited but unable to attend for the past couple of years, I finally got to go to my friend Jen's pi day party.


Pi day party menu 2014

This here is about 1/3 of the actual menu of different pies available. There was a full table of dinner pies--chicken pot pie, lamb shepherd's pie, spanakopita, clearly also some other kinds of pie--and a second full table of dessert pies. Check it out:

Pi day dessert pie table 2014

The whole "phone picture in a dark room" thing worked out about as well as I thought it would. That's ok! You can at least get an idea of the vast, munificent bounty. VAST.

In addition to the listings on the actual menu, there was custard pie with whipped cream, blueberry, key lime, and apple streusel. Actually, the apple streusel may be the vegan apple pie listed. There were so many that I'm not sure.

I hear that the strawberry lemon was the best, but really all of the pies were the best. PIE.

Pi day pi tiles

Also, see these tiles? See the grey ones that are all in lines of different heights? That is in fact a visual representation of the number pi on Jen & Rob's kitchen wall. You know they are taking both math and baked goods very seriously indeed if they had pi grouted into their wall. I'm just saying.

Note the bright purple KitchenAid. YES.

Pi day cherry vanilla lattice pie

I had six kinds of pie and three glasses of red wine and was well satisfied with my lot in life. Chicken pot pie, spanakopita (which was SO GOOD and I really am kicking myself for not taking one for the road when Jen offered; clearly I am going to have to ask for the recipe), custard, cafe au lait (that's the towering one in the first pic), chocolate, and this cherry vanilla lattice-top.

Thank you to Jen & Rob for a lovely party!

What kind of pie did you bake (or, like me, just eat) this pi day?

10 March 2014

Spinach salad with grapefruit and avocado

Spinach salad with grapefruit and avocado

Happy daylight savings time! The whole springing forward thing makes me feel like it's actually irreversibly spring. Of course, this is not all that big a leap here in CA, but still. The sun is shining and the scent of new growth is in the air: it's definitely the right time for green, green salads.

This spinach salad couldn't be easier. All you really need is access to fresh, bright greens, seasonal citrus, and a just-ripe avocado. Put them all together and you have a perfect salad for the earliest days of spring.

If you've never supremed a piece of citrus fruit before, you might want to check out this video from Saveur. Just slice off the top and bottom end of your grapefruit, cut off the rest of the peel in strips, and, holding the fruit in one hand, gently slice down the edge of the membrane on each side of a segment. Work your way around your grapefruit until you've removed all the segments, and then squeeze the remaining juice out of the husk. You'll be left with a pile of beautiful, glistening grapefruit pieces and a few tablespoons of juice for your salad dressing.

However, you will also get citrus juice all over your hands, so make sure you don't have any paper cuts before you try this at home. I'm just saying.

This recipe makes 2 large salads or 4 small ones.

Spinach salad with grapefruit and avocado

Spinach salad with grapefruit and avocado

1 bunch fresh spinach
1 large red grapefruit
1 avocado
grapefruit vinaigrette
pepper to garnish

Destem, wash, and dry your spinach leaves. Tear or chop them into bite-sized pieces and arrange them on your plates.

Supreme your grapefruit, reserving the juice for your dressing. Cut your avocado in half and slice each half into long strips. Divide your grapefruit supremes and avocado slices between your plates.

Dress each salad with a few spoonfuls of vinaigrette and top with a final dusting of pepper.

Simple grapefruit vinaigrette

1.5 tbsp grapefruit juice
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a lidded jar and shake vigorously to emulsify.

Spinach salad with grapefruit and avocado

Hooray! Salad!

I think this salad would be perfect alongside a hearty sandwich or a bowl of hot and comforting soup, depending on just how close spring is at your house. I ate mine with some leftover falafel and rice, because that's how I roll, but if you wanted to make your salad a full meal in itself, some sliced hard-boiled eggs or seared shrimp would work very well.

How are you eating your new spring greens? How about your end-of-season citrus? Or maybe both at once?

04 March 2014

Yogurt crepes for pancake day

Yogurt crepes for pancake day

Two weekends working in a row plus several delivery pizzas plus a lot of last-ditch sandwiches = I'm not planning to have any pancakes for pancake day. I am not going to bake a pie for pi day, though I will probably go to a party and eat pie someone else baked. I definitely won't be corning a beef.

Right. So I wrote that, went to go check out the 300 foodblog posts that have been piling up in my feed reader, and immediately came across all the pancakes in the land. And I remembered I really like pancakes, and I totally have everything I need to make pancakes, and pancakes only take a few minutes to make anyway, right? And then I went into the kitchen and made these pancakes and took pictures of them and ate them.


I decided to bump up the traditional crepe just a touch by using yogurt. This produced a tender, delightful pancake with just a hint of tang. They were perfect with a squeeze of lemon juice, but if you prefer the full traditional dusting of powdered sugar, go for it.

Since I was only cooking enough crepes for myself, I now have half a batch of batter happily waiting for dinnertime in the refrigerator. I think a savory filling of quick-sauteed spinach with some nutmeg may be in order. Or maybe we'll eat them for dessert with caramelized apple slices. They're such a great blank canvas that practically anything can happen.

I'm still not corning a beef, though. Limits: I can has.

Yogurt crepes for pancake day

Yogurt crepes

1 cup flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 egg, beaten
pinch of salt
butter to fry

Deposit your flour in a large mixing bowl. Add your water and beat well with a wooden spoon. (This is a pastry chef trick: by only adding part of your liquid at first, you'll be able to work out all the lumps quickly and easily, without slopping anything over the sides of the bowl.) Add your yogurt and beat to combine. Add your egg and salt and beat one more time.

When your batter is nice and smooth, it's time to fry. Heat a nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add a bit of butter and swirl to coat.

Yogurt crepes for pancake day

Use a ladle to spoon your batter into the hot pan. Turn your pan quickly to even out the crepe and fill in any holes. You want to err on the side of too little batter instead of too much, for a nice, thin finished crepe. Cook quickly on each side for about three minutes, or until lightly browned and delightful.

If your first crepe is a disaster, don't panic! It's a kitchen truism that the first pancake is always a failure. Just eat it and keep on making more. You'll get the hang of it more quickly than you think.

Stack your finished crepes on a plate and cover them with a kitchen towel until you're ready to eat.

Yogurt crepes for pancake day

Yogurt crepes are amazing with practically any filling you can think of. A spoonful of apricot or raspberry jam, a flambeed sliced banana, a layer of Nutella, or a handful of fresh berries are all great sweet options. I am personally much more excited to try out some savory fillings, though. Scrambled eggs, diced chicken and mushrooms, the aforementioned spinach, or a combination of any or all of these, with or without a beautiful creamy sauce--yes please.

Are you eating crepes (or any other style of pancake) for pancake day?